I discuss Orlov's chapter on Political Collapse in this blog post. Recall that in Part 1, here
I discussed Dmitry Orlov’s book, The Five Stages of Collapse–Survivor’s Toolkit. There were many, excellent points in the comments, and I encourage all who have not done so to peruse the comments there. [Mr. Fix, I will answer your questions and explain my thinking in the comments to this below, later tonight].
In this post, I discuss Stages 3-5, and evaluate details as well as strategies for rising up and making a difference for Stage 3. I do this because I am convinced that there exists the real possibility for real reform during Stage 2, Commercial Collapse, as well as into Stage 3, Political Collapse. There is good news to all of this, so I invite anyone who is strictly a doomsday believer like I once was to critically examine their underpinnings for such belief.
In his book, Orlov summarizes what transpires during Stage 3: “Political collapse. Faith that “the government will take care of you” is lost. As official attempts to mitigate widespread loss of access to commercial sources of survival necessities fail to make a difference, the political establishment loses legitimacy and relevance.” [p. 15]
As to Stage 4, Orlov says this: “Social collapse
. Faith that “your people will take care of you” is lost, as local social institutions, be they charities or other groups that rush in to fill the power vacuum, run out of resources or fail through internal conflict.” [p. 15]
As to Stage 5, not all likely to happen, ever, on a grand scale, and almost certainly never in the USA in my lifetime, Orlov says this: “cultural collapse. Faith in the goodness of humanity is lost. People lose their capacity for “kindness, generosity, consideration, affection, honesty, hospitality, compassion, charity.” Families disband and compete as individuals for scarce resources. The new motto becomes “may you died today so that I can die tomorrow.” [p. 15]
I do not see the Stages of collapse ever reaching Stage 4, barring some sort of nuclear holocaust. While the Fukushima disaster
unfolds, there does exist the possibility that a Stage 4 type collapse could occur, but unless Political Collapse happens first, then Stages 4 and 5 are just exercises in imagination and I will not further discuss them. Those readers who disagree, can certainly make points about their analysis, but in all likelihood, such stages are just not likely to be reached in the USA. This is because of the abundant natural resources, and the preparation mindset that has stirred and awakened in all of us. America is just not an isolated, little, artificial village confined to boundaries arbitrarily drawn on a map. Hence, the likelihood of centuries of rugged individualism, and resourcefulness, combine to demonstrate that effort should instead be focused on dealing with the Commercial and Political Collapse Stages in any effort to mitigate the effects of the Financial Collapse
So, let’s get started.
Stage 3 occurs following Commercial Collapse. That is, money is devalued, commodities are hoarded, import and retail chains break down and there are widespread shortages of survival necessities. [p.14] Orlov dedicates 66 pages of his 264 page book to this Stage [pages 123-189]. I cannot do him justice here with just a quick summary. But, he makes some somber points, worth discussing.
First, as to the Stages of Financial and Commercial Collapse, Orlov says–and we all know it here: “Financial and commercial collapses are already potentially lethal. People lose their bearings and their sense of purpose, or decide to take advantage of those in distress, or fail simply through an inability to adapt to radically altered circumstances, and when that happens people get hurt. Financial and commercial collapses tend to be hard on those who failed to prepare, by putting aside objects that hold their value when the national currency hyperinflates and banks close and by stockpiling the necessary supplies to tide them over during the uncertain transition period, when the old ways of doing things no longer work but the new ones have not yet involved. Both of these causes of potentially lethal circumstances can be avoided: first, by choosing the right kind of community; second, by laying in supplies or securing independent access to food, water and energy; and third, by generally finding a way to bide your time and ignore the world at large until times get better.” [p. 124]
So, we all know this. We have chosen the right community, we are here together, sharing ideas, right? We have commenced preparation by storing necessities, as well as securing means to store wealth like gold/silver. Alright then, on to Stage 3. Here is where we can make a difference.
Orlov lays out in chilling fashion, the onset of Stage 3: “Political collapse is a different animal altogether, because it makes the world at large difficult to ignore. The potential for chaos is still there, but so is the potential for organized action of a very damaging sort, because the ruling class and the classes that serve them (the police, the military, the bureaucrats) generally refuse to go softly into the night and allow the people to self organize, experiment and come together as autonomous new groups adapted to the new environment in their composition and patterns of self-governance.”
Is there any doubt that we are seeing that right now, in real time?
Orlov continues: “instead, they [the elite] are likely to spontaneously hatch a harebrained new plan: an initiative to restore national unity, in the sense of restoring the status quo ante, at least with regard to preserving their own power and privilege, at others’ expense. In a situation where every person and every neighborhood should be experimenting on their own to find out what works and what doesn’t, the politicians and the officials are apt to introduce new draconian and crime-fighting measures, curfews and detentions, allowing only certain activities–ones that benefit them–while mercilessly putting down any sign of insubordination.” [p. 124]
Right there is where Orlov, correctly, points the way forward. We all must, at the individual and local level, experiment on our own to find out what works and what doesn’t. I will come back to that in a bit. It ties in with the Gold Rush theme of California, too. [hat tip to DPH for sharing those fantastic History Channel Youtube
This is where it gets chilling. Orlov says: “to deflect the blame for their failure, the ruling elite usually also does its best to find an internal or external enemy. Those who are the weakest and the least politically connected–the poor, the minorities and the immigrants–are accused of dragging everyone down and singled out for the harshest treatment. [I will add here, that the elite strive for division, by casting issues always in terms of either or, e.g., abortion versus right to life, Democrat versus Republican, religious right versus secular left, black versus white, citizen versus illegal immigrant, etc. Political correctness is but a tool of the elite to engender discontent and create easy targets for condemnation. In this regard, the elite constantly have an easy target, based on daily political whims, because both sides can function as the target as needed! Remember when Bush was going to war? The political left
protested against it–damn warmongers!. But now, on the eve of war, the political left is silent, while it is the political right
which is causing the trouble–support the President in the time of war!] [p. 124]
Orlov continues: “This is conducive to creating a climate of fear and suppressing free speech. But nothing causes people to band together like an external threat, and, for the sake of preserving national unity, a failing nation-state often looks for an external enemy to attack, preferably a week, defenseless one, so that it poses no risk of reprisal. Putting the nation on a war footing makes it possible for the government to commandeer resources and reallocate them to the benefit of the ruling class, further restrict movements and activities, roundup troublesome youths and ship them off to battle and lock up undesirables.” [p. 124]
Syria anyone? Did not Obama do exactly that as Orlov describes above? Is not a war footing the perfect cover for commandeering resources? Capital controls, of course, it’s war! I have not even scratched the surface here [FEMA camps, NSA spying, national health care and restricted treatments to curtail behavior deemed undesirable, etc.], but does everyone see the point?
Now, if I don’t have your attention yet, there is no reaching you. Those folks can go back to their regularly scheduled programming. Hey look, it’s Miley Cyrus!
For the rest of us, Orlov continues, and it is here that I want to focus: “Financial and commercial collapse creates an opening for those inclined toward the most miserable despotism. Once a despotic regime is established, the weak, demoralized, disoriented population almost inevitably finds itself incapable of rising in opposition to it, and the new despotism may become entrenched and quite durable, lasting for an extended period of time, during which the country is hollowed out and traumatized before collapsing through internecine strife or a battle of succession, or through increasing weakness that causes it to succumb to foreign occupation. The spectrum of possible responses to financial and commercial collapse stretches from despotism to chaos. There is a sweet spot of autonomous, anarchic social cooperation, with many small skirmishes and standoffs but well short of all out armed conflict.”
Despite the lengths of his sentences, Orlove does manage to communicate some fantastic concepts. He notes that despots will arise to take advantage of the chaos. That is historical human nature, sure thing. So, we must be at once and always on guard for any such charlatans. Remember, Hitler came to power on the heels of financial collapse, too.
The simple message I took from all this is that we, the preppers, the thinkers, the stackers, the anti-keynesians, the obervers and loathers of the Free Shit Army, we cannot allow the sheeple to become incapacitated to the point of indifference. Orlov says our efforts can fall within a “sweet spot of autonomous, anarchic social cooperation, with many small skirmishes and standoffs but well short of all out armed conflict.” Of course they can. And will.
But what does he mean, and how can we do it? Anarchy does not mean revolutionary, armed aggression. It means only the opposite of hierarchy. Anarchy is the lack of hierarchy. Anarchy in terms of day to day existence means, then, relative to government decision-making, that there is no central planning! Simple as that. There is no autocratic, bureaucratic, government-pension seeking, tax payer funded rulers! I am all for it! Orlov spends 14 pages on this concept, proving its basis and obvious worth. [pages 125-139] Read it and understand. The concept, from a young person’s point of view, is that, instead of joining the labor force, and facing a decrepit and dysfunctional system of industrial employment [eating GMO franken-foods, enduring low pay, long hours, and no chance for advancement], Orlov points out that it is far better “to enter into informal associations with friends and neighbors, dividing time between growing food, making and mending things, and helping others within the immediate community, and in turn spending the balance of free time on art, music, reading and other cultural and intellectual pursuits.” [p.127] I agree.
So, swallow the bile, and relax. Neither he nor I am not advocating revolution. We both are, however, advocating nothing more than a return to the basic principles that got us from there to here: freedom from central planning. Let us all make our own decisions, at individual and small group levels, from here on out.
Orlov gives the lesson on what to do: “someone must blaze the trail; not seek a leadership position, not attempt to take charge or seize control, but simply go right ahead and do what needs to be done without asking anyone’s permission. The goal is to create a viable alternative of which others can avail themselves freely. But for this to succeed, the leader must choose his target well: it must be a significant structural impediment that can be circumvented with finite effort. Crafting a quick and dirty solution that nevertheless embodies the right set of concepts to scale up and take over is quite a feat, and few people are capable of it, but it nevertheless happens quite a lot. It tends to occur with an individual working either entirely alone (in secret if need be) or with a few informal collaborators. The best targets are ones that can be circumvented through individual or small group effort, with minimal startup costs and worthy alternative can spread virally.” [p. 139]
So, this is the goal. Look around, see what needs to be done. Do what needs to be done. Disregard asking for permission, just do it.
I have a plan myself to fix the backlog of small civil cases that are clogging up the courts in my neck of the woods. I tried asking permission. I tried and tried to get others to go along, to join me, but all to no avail. Why did they not see the benefits? Easy. They had no incentive to do things differently, because of the entrenched bureaucracies they became beholden to for their livelihoods. That’s why. So, they have become part of the problem, not part of the solution.
The more folks that simply see and do things that need to get done will cause, I hope, a great awakening.
Orlov closes out his chapter on Political Collapse by offering the example of the Pashtuns. You know, those backward-living terrorists in Pakistan. Take a read, it may change your perspective. [p. 189-194] I know, it changed mine.
In summation, I apologize for the length. I wanted to get my thoughts out, on paper. I will join everyone in the comments, so have at it!