If you aren’t familiar with this talk, perhaps you should take a look at it first. Here, I will summarize it very briefly. After exploring all of the many symmetries between the USSR and the USA, I showed how the USSR was inadvertently much better prepared for collapse because of how daily life was structured there. Housing was government-provided, and mass unemployment did not result in homelessness. Transportation was public and cheap. Employment was also in the public sector, untethered from the profit motive and not prone to instant bankruptcy. Families were close-knit by virtue of necessity and family members were on hand to help each other during hard times. Money was of token value and being broke was rarely life-threatening. Food came from government stockpiles and kitchen gardens rather than the supermarket. Medicine and education were public and free. Energy did not come from imports.
My conclusion was that the Soviet Union was much better prepared for economic collapse than the United States is. I then explored various approaches that might be used to close this “collapse gap.” None of the alternatives was very good. Twelve years later, I see that I was right: the USA is much closer to collapse than it was then (we will only know how close in retrospect) and nothing has been done to reduce the vulnerabilities outlined above.
However, a lot has been done to reduce their impact, or at least to make that impact less noticeable. In my 2013 book The Five Stages of Collapse, I teased collapse into five stages: financial, commercial, political, social and cultural. It was my understanding that collapse would generally proceed in a canonical cascade, starting with the most fragile (financial) and ending with the most durable (culture). Society and culture did not collapse in the USSR. Instead, people dug in their heels and after a very difficult period most parts of the USSR (the Ukraine is the one stark exception) managed to resurrect a political system, an economy and a financial sector. But what if society and culture collapsed first?
That is what I see happening in the USA and, to various extents, in different parts of the European Union: an attempt to undermine and destroy cohesive society and common culture ahead of the coming financial, commercial and political collapse. It may seem like an odd thing to strive for, but consider this: if society and culture are destroyed ahead of time, then when collapse comes there is no intact community of humans left to observe it and understand what is happening. With everyone’s reasoning abilities sufficiently hampered, it will be trivial to diffuse blame when the rest of the collapse sequence occurs, to get the people to blame themselves or to scapegoat each other, or to simply ignore it because most of the people have bigger problems than collapse, be it their dysfunctional families, their various addictions, their religious zealotry or their extremist politics.
The approaches taken to destroying society and culture may seem disparate and lack a unity of purpose… until you understand that their purpose is to destroy society and culture. In education, the emphasis of training to take standardized tests squeezing out any real learning, supposedly motivated by the desire to be inclusive of disadvantaged, intellectually challenged minorities, creates cohort after cohort of young people no longer capable of independent, rational thought.
• In politics, real concerns are replaced with fake ones, centered on bogeymen like “Russian aggression” or “Russian meddling,” reinforced endlessly through repetition without any actual evidence ever being shown, until taking reasoned, motivated political positions becomes impossible.
• In social policy, the substitution of gender for sex, supposedly to fight discrimination but in fact denying biological imperatives, denatures human nature to the point where people become minimally useful to each other.
• In immigration policy, the inclusion of a large population of migrants from incompatible cultures creates a sort of ethnic strife that cannot speak its name: pointing out that migrants from Islamic countries are responsible for a very large proportion of crime is considered politically incorrect and in Sweden has even been made illegal.
• In international relations, we have witnessed a concerted effort to destroy national sovereignty and to render national boundaries meaningless, rendering once proud nations into groups of migrants who speak broken English.
• In economics, every effort is being made to dismantle and suppress the power of organized labor, to open up the labor market to economic migrants, and to suppress local businesses in favor of transnational corporations.
To survive collapse, it is essential to surround yourself with people who are like you, with whom you can find common purpose, whose character you can immediately assess and whom you can trust. Without it, you are thrust into a dangerous environment—a war of all against all. But this war of all against all creates excellent cover for those in positions of leadership and authority who could have done something to mitigate the worst effects of the coming collapse, but have done nothing. Well, not quite; they have done something. They have gone out of their way to destroy society and culture.
It is important to note that participation in the cultural collapse juggernaut is by no means universal. Even in Europe some members, such as Hungary and Poland, are starting to push back against it, to say nothing of very large players such as China, Russia and Iran, who have managed to buck many of these trends. These differences will probably be useful in predicting which countries will survive collapse, and which won’t.