Big Thinkers: Orlov's Book and Current Events - Part 1

Thu, Sep 5, 2013 - 12:47am
The Sky is Falling! Or is it?
Dmitry Orlov’s 2013 book “The Five Stages of Collapse – Survivors’ Toolkit” is required reading. I do not say that lightly. It is a must read; do not delay. It is here:
and there are reviews posted for those inclined. I am not doing a book review. I am trying to pin down a realistic time-line, and the markers of same, in order that we all can prepare accordingly. Nothing I have read to date is as well analyzed, or presented, so for that, I am in awe. But, naturally, I have my own thoughts as to the reality that all five stages of collapse actually occur. So, this is Part I. Part II will be next Wednesday, as it all should make more sense as the Syrian situation unfolds.
From the introduction of the book through the afterward, the book is mesmerizing both in its insightful analysis, and its use of examples. It is full of humor, too. While I quarrel with the constant references to global warming–I am not a believer in that theory at all–the book is simply astonishing for its clear, yet compelling, observations. Oh, did I mention that Mr. Orlov was born in Russia, having moved to the United States as a teenager? Or that Mr. Orlov is an engineer with skills in many fields including high energy physics research, e-commerce and Internet security? Or that Mr. Orlov traveled back and forth to Russia repeatedly to observe the Soviet collapse during the late 80s and mid 90s?
All of these facts cement his credentials for me, and makes this book such a compelling read. I find it extremely important that we examine Mr. Orlov’s prism through which he views the world, because he alone seems to have the unique insight to have synthesized a world view based on personal experience as well as his education and obvious intellect. One can quarrel with his conclusions, but they are based on solid facts and experiences completely foreign to me that is for sure. Hence, I absorbed the book in rapt fascination, and I now look at the world events with a nod to the possibilities that Orlov’s predictions are accurate.
Mr. Orlov was born in Russia during the Cold War era. It is fascinating to think that he then left Russia and moved to the United States, where he then got to play video games, listen to Western pop-culture music and watch Hollywood movies. Certainly he had a taste of hard living in Russia, compared to the easy life in the United States. This had to have played a huge influence upon young Orlov.
Then, as the communist experiment began its death spasms, Mr. Orlov’s family and friends and he himself were there to witness them all to include the collapse. Personally, I remember being in an airport in Alabama at the time watching CNN showing images of the Soviet Union collapse on the video monitor. It was unbelievable, shocking–I was a former soldier, inculcated to hate the evil empire, they were the enemy dammit!; yet, my plane still showed up and left on time and I got to my destination. No one seemed to mind, or notice, and life just went on.
So, it’s not like the collapse of the fiat system in general and perhaps the USA in particular will be any life altering universe changing occurrence, although it will probably feel like that to many who are directly, initially affected. No, what Mr. Orlov writes about is a steady progression of a decaying, deteriorating, behemoth of a system, which announces its deterioration in measurable, meaningful ways. It is no mystery, nor should it be.
Anything which by definition that is unsustainable will come to an end. There is no sane person presently arguing that the current fiat system is sustainable. So, the fiat system will end, and the question then becomes what will it look like when it does start to end? Can the eventual collapse be stopped mid stream, like a magic stick save? How will we know the collapse is upon us? If the collapse is gradual, then how long will it take? What should we expect, at any given point in time, then, along the collapse continuum?
Mr. Orlov provides all the tools to reach conclusions and answers for all of these questions in detail and with examples from history. He adroitly describes an orderly process marked by five discrete stages of collapse, not all of which necessarily must occur, but which stages will occur in progressive fashion should efforts not be made to stave off the final, ruinous, back to the Stone Age collapse.
Those five stages are, in order, (1) Financial Collapse; (2) Commercial Collapse; (3) Political Collapse; (4) Social Collapse, and finally, (5) Cultural Collapse.
Without taking too much time to restate history, we all pretty much know that the financial collapse is occurring as we speak, with the first hint and outward manifestation of financial collapse occurring in 2008 and continuing ever since. Here is what Orlov says about Stage 1, the Financial Collapse: “Faith in business as usual is lost. The future is no longer assumed to resemble the past in any way that allows risk to be assessed and financial assets to be guaranteed. Financial institutions become insolvent; savings are wiped out and access to capital is lost.” [p.14].
At this point, I firmly believe that the financial collapse is ongoing just as described, and accelerating. Understand that the process of the ongoing deterioration of the system is a gradual marginal process, and that there is no definitive point in time when there is at one moment a blissful, peaceful feeling that everything is perfectly fine, and then at the next moment there is sudden chaos and anarchy with rioting in the streets and images of roving bands of thugs streaming across our televisions. Instead, the financial collapse will continue its progress marginally, inexorably, step-by-step until such time as there is a commercial collapse. This is a completely different viewpoint I had when I first came to tfmr. I initially felt that collapse was IMMINENT!! Grab the weapons, food, water and gold/silver, time to bug out!
Well, I was dead wrong. Stupidly so. But how could I have been so misguided? Was it gullibility? Madison Avenue marketing? Human nature normalcy bias?
Whatever. Only now, I see things in a different, more analytical light, thanks to Mr. Orlov’s writings. Make no mistake, though. It is crystal clear that the Financial Collapse is ongoing, right now, leading soon enough I believe, though gradually to Stage 2, Commercial Collapse.
Understand that Santa told everyone to get out of the financial system. Cyprus banks initiated the bail-in. The ground work has been laid out. It is all legal and all the details worked out. Plenty has been written about the pending stealing of funds on deposit at banks, retirement accounts, name it. Look at what is happening in Argentina. If those Argentinian bond holders are stiffed, then that supposedly valuable New York paper is not so valuable now, is it? All of this is coming to pass as predicted, and the signs are obvious to anyone who wants to look.
The fiat system is broken. Risk assessment is now based on predicting the words of the Fed bankster in charge, then front run on huge computers to shear the sheep of fractions of pennies. The worlds’ unregulated derivatives dwarf the world GDP. A small hiccup will destroy the entire scheme, overnight. We are there.
This leads us to Stage 2, the Commercial Collapse. Orlov says this: “Faith that the market shall provide is lost. Money is devalued and or becomes scarce, commodities are hoarded, import and retail chains break down in widespread shortages of survival necessities become the norm.” [p.14].
It sure does not look like this Stage yet to me, but it sure seems damn close, too. But, by looking closely, the Syrian situation is telegraphing the proximity of when this Stage will occur. Many, many commentators have weighed in about Syria, and how the whole military situation, the bombing, the invasion, the troops really point in one direction;
The US President, a laughing stock, says at one moment that Syria crossed a red line, but now tries to wiggle out from under his own words, like a hack criminal defense attorney arguing for leniency for his recidivist client. The Syrian distraction is just that, a ruse. The real reason, they say, is resources, namely, gas pipelines to feed the industrialized world in general, and to perpetuate the governing structures of some middle east countries. So does this not seem to point towards the imminent arrival of Stage 2? Soon enough we will know.
Believe what you want to believe, but the next Stage, Commercial Collapse, knowing it is upon us, preparing do deal with it and live through it, is damn important to survival of us regular folks that is for sure. It is also after this Stage that I believe that a concerted effort to become politically active and strive for limited government will have the biggest effects.
So, for now, I leave you with this Part I and invite comments, criticisms, and the like. Try to focus on Orlov’s definitions of the first two Stages.
Next week I will dig into Stages 3-5, and evaluate details as well as strategies for rising up and making a difference for Stage 3. I would not be doing all this analysis if I did not believe that there is a possibility for real reform during Stage 3. So, I am not totally a doomsday believer I once was, but things sure look grim, so don’t let up on the preparation effort that is for sure.

About the Author


Sep 5, 2013 - 5:39am

Not quite sure where to put

Not quite sure where to put this but I don't remember ever seeing this discussed here. Article dates back to May of this year

Profits from exchange-traded funds that back their shares with physical holdings of gold and other precious metals face capital gains taxes as high as 28 percent if the investment was held for more than a year (taxes on short-term profits are higher). That’s the rate applied to items considered “collectibles,” which also include coins, art, and silver.

Sep 5, 2013 - 5:42am

3,249 kg gold imported during

3,249 kg gold imported during July Staff Reporter
Thursday, September 05, 2013 - Islamabad—During the first month of current fiscal yaer, about 3,249 kilogram of gold worth of US$ 134.92 million was imported which showed an increase of 1,119.88 percent as against the same period of last year. According to Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) data, during July 2012, about 199 kg of gold worth $11.06 million was imported.

The import of yellow metal also increased by 235.19 kg as compared to the imports worth of $40.252 million during June 2013.

The overall imports of metal group, registered an increase of 49.39 per cent and 5.88 percent during first month of the year 2013-14, when compared to July 2012 and June 2013 respectively.

Sep 5, 2013 - 5:44am

Orlov doesn't see the collapse as a bad thing, btw

he sees it as a recurring, built-in, aspect of complex social hierarchical structures. And in this case he thinks it might be a welcome one, as do many people who see excess everywhere, including many of the posters at this site.

The examples of each stage are taken from different parts of the world, so it is not just his Russian experience that he writes from. Iceland, then Russia, then the Pashtuns, the Gypsies, and finally, Africa.

The bible is unlikely to be a good guide to current circumstances, I would add, and hope the prophesies can be kept to a minimum.

And Katie's mum should stop watching cable TV and being terrified. That is a choice, especially at 88.

Sep 5, 2013 - 7:49am


A very interesting point to add. I don't think a collapse is necessarily a bad thing. I view it as the only way to get rid of the entrenched power structure that is stealing all of the wealth. While it does have serious potential to break bad if they start using their weapons, I just see it as something we have to go through if we want real change.

I hope we go the way of the USSR where one day it is just over without a shot being fired, but the potential certainly exists for this to be really ugly. I just hope it happens before my Nephew, who is freshly graduated from Parris Island, gets sent off to be cannon fodder for the bankers.

Quite Frankly, I am far more concerned about Fukushima and GMO food than what the politicians are going to bumble next, but the conditions are certainly ripe for a complete tyrant.

A great awakening is our best hope. I hope Cal is right that we have a shot at it after the commercial collapse.

Sep 5, 2013 - 7:54am

These books have been coming

These books have been coming out since the bad ol' Seventies. The authors do very well, indeed.

Sep 5, 2013 - 8:14am


I have read that book. That information has been available for almost 10 years now since it first came out on Sid Roth's program.

The Harbinger teaches that America is under judgment for turning away from God. Sept. 11th was the harbinger of what is to come.

This mess in MENA could well be the thing that triggers more attacks on this nation. I'm in contact with Jeff Nyquist, an excellent geopolitical analyst and writer for He believes, as do I, that America is being lured into attacking Syria. Iran has been luring America and Israel to attack for quite a while now. And why? It's so that America must look as the aggressor when retaliation and I mean severe retaliations take place. Think WMD not only in the U.S. but also in Israel. That is why I'm concerned about a US strike on Syria.

"President Obama has asked Congress to authorize a limited military strike on Syria in retaliation for the Assad regime’s alleged use of chemical weapons. “Having made my decision as Commander-in-Chief…” said Obama, “I will seek authorization for the use of force from the American people’s representatives in Congress.” The proposed limited strikes against Syria are said by experts to have game-changing implications for the outcome of the Syrian Civil War.

Syrian President Bashar Assad has warned that any military strike by the U.S. against Syria could trigger a regional war. The Iranian government, in support of Syria, has “strongly warned” the United States that there “will be perilous consequences for the region” in the event of an American strike.

Iranian officials are saying that, at the very least, they will retaliate on Israel in the event of an American strike against Syria."


So a US strike on Syria will invite an attack on Israel and of course the aggressor, the US. And Russia has supplied both Iran and Syria with WMDs. The Bear is making its move and a collapse will occur and it won't be a slow collapse imho. It will come as a surprise just like 9/11.

Urban Roman
Sep 5, 2013 - 8:32am

Dmitry has a blog,

of course.


He posts under the moniker 'Kollapsnik'.

Mr. Fix
Sep 5, 2013 - 8:52am

Great post,

I appreciate the focus on discussing what might be lying ahead, especially since I truly feel that the precious metals aren't going anywhere until after the collapse, and even then, there will be other things of far more importance.

Although I'll have more to say later, (don't I always), it seems to me that as opposed to this being a natural cyclical phenomenon which has been repeated throughout history, this particular collapse seems to be well orchestrated, and loosely based five steps outlined in the post.

One of the reasons I think this is orchestrated, is that steps two, three, four, and five, are already well on their way to collapse, so that when the currency crashes, it won't be far to go before everything else comes unglued simultaneously.

Probably as a result of the ongoing financial collapse, businesses are closing everywhere, the commercial collapse is well underway. As far as a political collapse, our politicians seem to have no fear whatsoever of the populace, to all those that wrote or called their Congress critters demanding that they vote not to go to war, got predictable results, in that they were most likely ignored. Our political system is already completely broken. I would even contend that the elections themselves are nothing but a dog and pony show, designed to create an illusion that we have a say in things that are beyond our control already.

As far as steps four and five are concerned, a societal collapse, and a cultural collapse has been underway for decades, the very values that used to make a society work, have been condemned by the majority now, hard work seems to be avoided at all costs, family values, are viewed as a quaint old notion, and the cultural decay is It is obvious everywhere you look.

It is my contention, that once you collapse the currency, it will be readily apparent that the next four steps have already occurred.

Just how bad it is is being masked by all the free handouts by our government, and when the free money stops flowing, all hell will break loose.

I think things have been carefully crafted to come crashing down like a house of cards the moment one of the supports (financial collapse) finally crumbles.

I have personally found that watching this unfold mildly alarming while I prepare for what is coming.

The most alarming part, is the realization as to how oblivious most people are to what should be blatantly obvious. Most people think that what is happening is due to stupidity, without even considering the nefarious motives of those that are running the show.

Of course I will consider that my point of view has been shaped by events that are unique to me, and my perspective might be somewhat skewed, and I keep hoping that I am actually wrong, and those telling me that everything will be okay are right.

But as events unfold, they just seem to be confirming my basic premise that what is unfolding will be everyone's worst nightmare.

Have a nice day.

Sep 5, 2013 - 9:04am

Just bought the book

After repeated comments and recommendations from CA and others mentioning this book I just had to order it.

So I did

Sep 5, 2013 - 9:07am

Mr Fix - did you read anything Orlov wrote about anything

before you completely disagreed with him?

Do you think other societies and systems collapsed as part of a repetitive natural cycle, and this time it is completely engineered? Or did you read what he wrote about inherent flaws in hierarchical structures that point to this not being particularly different in terms of the behaviour of the elite, and how to a large extent you would agree with him, except that he sees this as a universal repeating problem (and has case evidence to back him up) and would see the American experiment as not unique in its likely failure.

Here is his description of his book:

This book is based on the identically titled article I published on this blog in February of 2008, just as financial collapse was starting to gather steam. Since then, this article has been read nearly 100,000 times on this blog alone (it has been reposted on many other web sites) and it is its enduring popularity that has convinced me to write a book-length treatment.

In this article, I proposed a taxonomy of collapse, splitting it out into five stages—financial, commercial, political, social and cultural—and tied each of the five collapse stages to the breaching of a specific level of trust, or faith, in the status quo. Although each stage causes physical, observable changes in the environment, these can be gradual, while the mental flip is generally quite swift, because it is something of a cultural universal that nobody (but a real fool) wants to be the last fool to believe in a lie.

Stage 1: Financial collapse. Faith in “business as usual” is lost.

Stage 2: Commercial collapse. Faith that “the market shall provide” is lost.

Stage 3: Political collapse. Faith that “the government will take care of you” is lost.

Stage 4: Social collapse. Faith that “your people will take care of you” is lost.

Stage 5: Cultural collapse. Faith in “the goodness of humanity” is lost.

A casual perusal of history books will show that these various stages of collapse occur with great regularity. Unlike other animals, humans have a marked tendency to form complex social hierarchies which never endure because collapse is programmed into the very nature of complex social hierarchies. In fact, the first three stages can often be viewed as healthy developments...

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