Monday, September 21, 2020

Harder, Faster, Deeper!

’Tis the presidential election season in the US and so I feel the urge to write a token article about it. I generally try to stay off this topic because the US is not a democracy and it doesn’t matter who is president. Gilens and Page proved this in their landmark 2014study, sparing me the need to reargue the case here.

At this point certain people like to object that this is as it should be because the US is a republic, not a democracy. But then why bother with elections? For those who are keen on democracy, I would suggest that they study North Korea; theirs is a “democratic people’s republic.” Fixing the democracy problem would be required to earn a passing grade while making it a people’s republic (instead of an oligarchic republic as it is now) would be for extra credit.

I have been on hand to watch a long parade of presidential stooges, starting with “dim bulb” Ford and all the way to Trump, whose nicknames have ranged from “orange man” to “shit-gibbon.” Though this has been a waste of my time, perhaps I can be useful in putting your mind at ease. A lot of people are currently becoming overwrought over what is a quintessentially meaningless contest and I want to do what I can to lower their blood pressure and cortisol levels and allow them to live longer, happier, healthier lives.

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Thursday, September 17, 2020

Interview on Radio Voice America

Welcome back to Turning Hard Times into Good Times. I’m your host Jay Taylor. I’m really pleased to have with me once again Dmitry Orlov.

Dmitry was born and grew up in Leningrad, but has lived in the United States. He moved here in the mid-seventies. He has since gone back to Russia, where he is living now.

But Dmitry was an eyewitness to the Soviet collapse over several extended visits to his Russian homeland between the eighties and mid-nineties. He is an engineer who has contributed to fields as diverse as high-energy Physics and Internet Security, as well as a leading Peak Oil theorist. He is the author of Reinventing Collapse: The Soviet Example and American Prospects (2008) and The Five Stages of Collapse: Survivors' Toolkit (2013).

Welcome, Dmitry, and thank you so much for joining us again.

A: Great to be on your program again, Jay.

Q: It’s really good to hear your voice. I know we had you on [the program] back in 2014. It’s been a long time—way too long, as far as I’m concerned. In that discussion we talked about the five stages of collapse that you observed in the fall of the USSR. Could you review them really quickly, and compare them to what you are seeing, what you have witnessed and observed in the United States as you lived here, and of course in your post now in Russia.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Taxi Drivers Know Everything

It so happened that yesterday I was coming home in a taxi. The taxi driver, who looked like Bill Murray, turned out to be very talkative: during the trip, as often happens, we touched on all subjects, from the weather to blondes behind the wheel.

At some point, as background noise, there was some news read out on the radio. After the segment about the poisoning of Alexei Navalny, NordStream 2 and possible EU sanctions the taxi driver shook his head and said thoughtfully: “Yeah, mommy is stuck…”

“What mommy?” I inquired.

“What mommy?” asked the taxi driver. “That same one, Angela Merkel. You know why Navalny was surrendered to Germany? Let me explain.” And then, for a quarter of an hour, the taxi driver presented a coherent theory of what happened, worthy of study at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which answered all the questions that had been bothering me.

This is how it all came down.

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

The Novichok Comedy Hour

Perhaps you’ve already heard the story; if not, here is the synopsis.

The Russian dictator Vladimir Putin had the leading Russian opposition candidate and Putin’s nemesis Alexei Navalny poisoned with an internationally banned battlefield chemical weapon Novichok. Navalny went into a coma and was airlifted in a German military jet to the Charité medical center in Germany, where German military medical experts found traces of Novichok on his body. For this heinous deed the collective West is regrouping and getting ready to impose more sanctions on Russia, perhaps preventing it from completing the NordStream 2 gas pipeline under the Baltic, which would make Europe even more dependent on its natural gas instead of buying cheap and plentiful liquified natural gas from the US.

If reading the above has not insulted your intelligence, then, before you can feel properly insulted, there is quite a steep learning curve for you to climb, but I will do my best to help you surmount it. And if you do feel insulted, then the question is, Just how insulted are you? Because the amount of disdain, condescension, arrogance, indifference and sheer sneering contempt shown toward you by those who are pushing this fake narrative is so extreme that only one psychologically healthy response to it is possible; which is, to laugh at it—at all of it in its entirety, and then at all the individual pieces of it, each of which is funny on its own as a paragon of misguided, delusional stupidity.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2020

“Our technologies could destroy humanity”

Interview for Sputnik Germany

Part 1:

Part 2:


Audio in German:

Sputnik: Mr Orlov, today we want to discuss your newest book, “Shrinking the Technosphere” (the German version), but before we start this I would like to deepen one of your answers in our first Sputnik Germany interview.

You said that the US central bank (the Federal Reserve) created new collateral in the banking ‘repo’ crisis of 2019. I would add two more questions: How would you define ‘collateral’? And you said that the US dollar would lose massive value in the next few months; what makes you so sure of it?

A: Well, to answer the first question, perhaps I misspoke in the first interview. The Fed did not so much create collateral as redeem US Treasuries and other debt instruments as collateral because banks stopped being so willing to honor them as collateral for overnight loans between banks, and so the Fed had to step in and provide these loans, provide the liquidity for these loans to the order of hundreds of billions of dollars of new money that was put into circulation—between banks, not into the broader economy.

So what that shows is that faith in US debt (and the US dollar consists of US debt at this point), that that faith was not as rock solid as some people would like to believe.

Now as far as the second question, why the dollar is likely to lose value: if you look at the value of a currency, you have to stack it up against productive capacity that underlies it. Money is a way of paying for goods and services. There has been a drastic increase in the supply of money. Right now the US government is on track to finance half of its budget using new debt—that is, basically the budget deficit is 50 percent of the federal budget, it’s on track to be that. But we don’t see any increase in the productive capacity of the United States to go with this vast increase in the money supply. In fact, the US economy has shrunk by a large amount, and it’s absolutely uncertain whether it will recover any time soon.

So basically we have more money, we have less stuff to buy with this money, and the result of that is that the money is going to be worth less. The logic of that is extremely simple.

Q: OK. Thank you very much. Now Mr. Orlov, your newest book is entitled “Shrinking the Technosphere.” So my questions: what is the technosphere, and why should it or will it shrink? What is your approach in this? And for our audience, you yourself can be seen as a technologist, as a computer scientist. What is your take on this whole topic?

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Alexander Rogers: Russia as an Exporter of Stability


[Guest post, my translation.]

Again the world is divided into two poles—not capitalist and communist, but based on a new principle.

It’s been a long time since the USA has turned into a pole of instability that generates wars, invasions and government overthrows.

Meanwhile, Russia is gradually becoming a pole of stability that prevents these wars and government overthrows.

Here we have unity and conflict between opposites. If there occurs an action (destructive in the case of Americans/Democrats) there arises a reaction. Dialectics, Sir!

Consequently, since instability has been the main category of export for the USA for a long time now, Russia has started to export stability.

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Thursday, August 20, 2020

Why Collapse of the US is inevitable while Russia will be spared

Here is my transcript of the interview on the technosphere which I gave to Sputnik Germany.

 Sputnik: Mr. Orlov, thank you very much for this interview. Today we  want to discuss your newest book, Die Lehre vom Kollaps: Die fünf Stufen  des Zusammenbruchs und wie wir sie überleben
[Rough translation: The Lesson of Collapse: The Five Stages of Collapse and How to Survive Them] 

 It’s [newly] published in Germany by Westend Verlag and Fifty-Fifty  Verlag. But before we start, maybe some of our audience, regular  listeners and readers may not know you yet. Could you give us a brief  and short view of your life as a writer, and also, what’s your approach,  what’s your philosophy?

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Europe’s Last Dictator in a Tight Spot

One of my hobbies is charting the progress, or the regress, of the color revolution syndicate. I have predicted some time ago that Western-instigated and Western-orchestrated regime change is going to become less and less effective over time, and to some extent this has turned out to be the case, although not entirely. On the one hand, color revolutions have become less of a threat to healthy political systems, evolving from something that could be turned on and off by remote control (from Washington) to something like opportunistic infection afflicting morbid regimes.

A good example of a color revolution as a fatal ailment is what happened in the Ukraine in 2014; it is now a partially dismantled failed state remote-controlled by the US State Dept. and the CIA. It would be bankrupt if it were not for periodic IMF interventions; when they stop, as they had in Lebanon, the currency will collapse along with what remains of the economy, the government would be forced to resign and the territory would lapse into chaos. For the time being, it is being kept alive to provide NATO with an additional training ground, to facilitate asset stripping and also to maintain it as a minor irritant against Russia.

A good example of an opportunistic infection is what is now happening in Beirut following the massive fireworks and ammonium nitrate explosion at the port which destroyed the port and devastated half the city. It was a one-two punch; first a government default, then the IMF’s refusal to help, and then the coup de grace: a massive explosion. To deal with this humanitarian disaster several nations sent in emergency teams. But instead of helping rescue people from the rubble and working assiduously to shore up damaged buildings and restore services, people swarmed into the streets to throw rocks at the police, demanding that the entire government resign—which it did. That’s great; now they don’t have a government either! Was that helpful? Yes, if you are one of the outside forces that wishes to make use of Lebanon to destabilize the region. No, if you are a Lebanese civilian trying to survive.

An example of an opportunistic infection that failed to take hold because the state organism was too healthy is the spectacularly failed color revolution in Venezuela. Where is Juan Guaidó (a.k.a. “Random Guy D’oh”) now? In spite of Washington’s assiduous efforts to apply every trick in the color revolution book, president Nicolás Maduro remains in power.

And now we have a somewhat similar example in Belarus, but there the outcome is likely to be different because president Alexander Lukashenko, dubbed Europe’s last dictator, did everything possible to blow himself up.

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Monday, August 10, 2020

New book published in German: Interview on Sputnik Deutschland

Another decade, another continent, another language... another book. Collapse never sleeps.

Just in time for the Corona crisis, a new book has been published: Die Lehre vom Kollaps: Die fünf Stufen des Zusammenbruchs und wie wir sie überleben. The US-Russian author Dmitry Orlov wrote it with foresight. In the Sputnik interview, he explains why the current pandemic is not the trigger for the coming downfall of the United States. "The causes are deeper and older," said Orlov.

His analyses are often correct. No wonder: Dmitry Orlov is familiar with state collapses and the Soviet collapse in particular. Orlov experienced the collapse of the USSR up close in the early 1990s. In the second part of the Sputnik interview, he explains how the collapse of his second home, the United States, will take place.

Listen to the interview in englisch here.

Warum Kollaps der USA „unausweichlich ist“ und Russland „verschont bleibt“: Dmitry Orlov Exklusiv
Quasi pünktlich zur Corona-Krise ist ein neues Buch erschienen: „Die Lehre vom Kollaps“. Der US-russische Autor Dmitry Orlov hat es vorausschauend verfasst. Im Sputnik-Interview erklärt er, warum für ihn die aktuelle Pandemie nicht der Auslöser für den kommenden Untergang der USA ist. „Die Ursachen liegen tiefer und sind älter“, so Orlov.
„So wird der Zusammenbruch der USA ablaufen“: US-russischer Autor exklusiv 
Im zweiten Teil des Sputnik-Interviews erklärt er, wie der Kollaps der USA ablaufen wird – und mehr über sein neues Buch.

Monday, August 03, 2020

Transcript of Interview on Continuum with Keith Woods

Welcome to the show today. I am delighted to be joined by Dmitry Orlov, who is a Russian-American writer. He has written several books on collapse and technology. Delighted to be joined by you Mr. Orlov. If you’d like to introduce your work to the audience for anyone unfamiliar, that’d be great.

A: Well, first of all it’s great to be on your show. Thank you for inviting me.

I’m no longer a neophyte because I’ve been doing it for a long time, but writing about collapse is not really my profession. I had a career before that, in computer engineering, and then high-energy physics, then e-commerce, and internet security, media conversion, things like that, and eventually I just gave up on all of this corporate stuff because I realized that it wasn’t really heading in any direction I liked. And I started writing on what I thought would happen to the United States based on what I observed happening to the Soviet Union and Russia in the late 80s and early 90s, because I thought that the US would pretty much collapse.

I started doing that about a dozen years ago and strangely enough I got a pretty good reception to start with.

Now there are basically two types of people whom I encounter: the ones who just basically scream and run away – I suppose they’re the majority – and then there’s also people who’ve been following me, or people who are realizing that I’ve been making valid points all along. And so I have quite a following at this point, and I write a couple of articles a month, mostly on current affairs and analysis, and that’s been going pretty well and keeping me busy, not so much writing, but doing the research for the writing. That’s a full-time job at this point. And so that’s where I am today.

Sunday, August 02, 2020

How to vote for Satan

It has come to my attention that a significant number of people are getting worked up about the upcoming presidential election in the US. Although it may be hard to see what could possibly be so exciting about what promises to be an unusually fraudulent pseudo-contest between two oddly incoherent elderly buffoons, great masses of people are busy shouting past each other and generally carrying on as if this contest actually matters. This Bedlam-like political cacophony is creating a major mental health hazard for much of the population, which is already stressed by the unfolding economic collapse and the strenuous efforts to exploit the largely contrived coronavirus issue to cover up for it. And so, in an effort to spare you the mental anguish of obsessing over a completely meaningless contest, I want to offer you a different perspective that I hope will put your mind at ease and allow you to direct your efforts toward something more pleasant or useful, and ideally both.

I understand that I am treading on dangerous ground here, but I’ve trod it before. I lost a number of friends when Trump got elected and in place of the expected righteous indignation I indicated that Trump was most suitable as a figurehead for a country that is circling the drain. I had previously (entirely facetiously) endorsed Trump’s candidacy as a powerless ridiculous figurehead of a collapsing former superpower. During the intervening interval, Trump has performed exactly as I expected. Read my pseudo-endorsement and laugh!—or cry—but you’ll be forced to concede that I had nailed it. Although Trump didn’t take my advice and pick Kim Kardashian as his running mate, it’s not too late. Now that mentally unstable Kanye is out of the picture Trump can even divorce demure Melania and marry the more suitably flamboyant Kim (as I previously advised) making her the first ever vice president and first lady! Emperor Caligula once married his horse Incitatus and tried to appoint it to the Roman Senate, so there is a precedent for this sort of thing in the annals of decadent empires. This would make the White House reality show even more fun to watch—as Washington burns.

I am sure that some people will balk at such a light-hearted take on a choice that they see as a very serious question. Noam Chomsky, the MIT linguist and prolific lefty author and lecturer, should certainly be one of them. Back in 2016, quoth he: “If you have any moral understanding, you want to keep the greater evil out.” And he recently doubled down: “Failure to vote for [less evil] Biden in this election in a swing state amounts to voting for [more evil] Trump.” He even formulated a general ideology of Voting for the Lesser Evil (VLE) with many subtle tenets. But Chomsky doesn’t seem to be any sort of expert on the nature of evil: when asked about it in an interview, he rambled on about the variability of human nature and its political ramifications. It seems that to Chomsky “evil” is just an abstract noun denoting something very bad.

Chomsky is a Jew and Judaism lacks any developed notion of demonology. Perhaps it is this culturally conditioned blindspot in his world view that has allowed him to seriously entertain the notion of VLE. To him, choosing a lesser evil is simply a matter of choosing the proper political strategy (by which he means a proper tactic, since a proper strategy would lead to the elimination of evil rather than a half-hearted endorsement of it). Unlike Chomsky’s Judaism, both Christianity and Islam cultivate a nuanced awareness of the Satan/Shaitan—the Evil One, along with the minions he commands. It therefore makes more sense to me to regard the manifest evil of American democracy from a demonological perspective. Viewed through this lens, to choose a lesser evil is to choose evil. This makes the idea that it is possible to choose the right sort of evil through the exercise of Chomsky’s “moral understanding” look like a monstrous form of sophistry because no matter which of Satan’s minions you vote for, you are still consenting to be ruled by Satan.

What follows is a guide to American politics from the point of view of demonology and a prescription for avoiding demonic possession.

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Thursday, July 23, 2020

The Virtuous Collapse Sequence

It has been 12 years since I published my essay “The Five Stages of Collapse” in which I first proposed a taxonomy of collapse, teasing it apart into financial, commercial, political, social and cultural collapses, together with what I conceived of as a canonical collapse sequence, where each stage of collapse triggers the next. It worked well enough, in hindsight, for the USSR and, as a thought experiment, for the US, but now, in 2020, in the harsh light of actual collapse that is unfolding in many parts of the West and especially in the formerly United States, it appears that my initial assessment was based on an overly positive view of human nature, at least as far as the nature of the humans who inhabit these parts.

Viewed through rose-colored glasses, my canonical collapse sequence started with kindly, green-visored financiers sitting in pews in quiet deliberation and wisely deciding in unison that, given factors such as resource depletion, climate catastrophe, pandemic or some other combination of force majeur circumstances, further commercial or consumer credit should not be extended and budget deficits should not be financed since the probability of this new debt being successfully repaid in full would be too low. In turn, captains of industry would prudently curtail production and cut staff, focusing on producing necessities (such as spare parts) instead of frills (such as nonessential upgrades). In turn, lack of tax revenue from slowing commerce and unemployed workers, coupled with the inability to finance budget deficits, would cause the government to cut spending and limit its activities to the barest essentials in an effort to avoid, or at least to stave off, national bankruptcy.

Civil society, composed of civic organizations and charitable individuals who care for the common good, would then attempt make up for the lack of government services, redistributing scant resources in order to meet dire needs and avoid social collapse but fail to do so for lack of resources. Once civil society turns out to be too weak to fulfill this function, people would fall back on their families and friends, who, being bound together by a strong and cohesive culture of human relationships, continue to insist on maintaining essential standards of well-being. If starvation, violence and disease take enough of a tall to make it impossible to maintain generational continuity children turn feral and cease to resemble humans. But if this outcome is avoided an eventual partial recovery at a lower level of resource expansion and lower population levels remains a possibility. While financial, commercial and political collapse may be unavoidable, social and cultural collapse may not be.

Should conditions later improve, isolated extended families and family groups, having painstakingly preserved their culture and traditions, passing it on from parents to children and from grandparents to grandchildren, would come back together, reconstitute society and choose leaders who would form new polities. Commerce would make a comeback, and if conditions remain sufficiently stable and favorable, the concept of issuing debt (cautiously borrowing from the future to accelerate the pace of recovery) could eventually be mooted. And should conditions deteriorate forever, all the way to biological extinction, this civilization would leave behind majestic ruins, splendid works of art and libraries of literary and scholarly gems to inspire and amaze civilizations of the future.

Collapse is an inevitable eventual outcome for all capitalist economies and all growth-driven socialist ones. Infinite economic expansion within a finite physical environment is a concept that is valid only to imbeciles, the insane and Nobel prize-winning economists. The collapse scenario described above is the best-case collapse scenario. Alas, it is not the scenario we presently see unfolding in the large developed country that is by far the farthest along on the collapse trajectory—the United States. And so it is time to throw away the rose-colored glasses and look at what the worst-case scenario might look like, informed by a more realistic view of the humans involved, for no natter how sympathetically we attempt to view them, they do not appear to be the sorts of paragons of virtue that would make the best case collapse scenario possible.

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Thursday, July 09, 2020

Charting the Collapse of the American Empire

Paul Craig Roberts, who was assistant secretary to the treasury in Ronald Reagan’s administration, has announced that collapse of the US is no longer avoidable. To substantiate this conclusion, he cites a couple of Russians whose opinions he respects: Andrei Raevsky (a.k.a. The Saker) and Dmitry Orlov (that would be me). I am flattered, of course, but I have never claimed that the collapse of the US was ever avoidable. “All empires collapse eventually; no exceptions!” I kept repeating. Ever since I first started writing on this subject in 2006, I never equivocated on this point. At that time, I wrote: “The collapse of the United States seems about as unlikely now as the collapse of the Soviet Union seemed in 1985. The experience of the first collapse may be instructive to those who wish to survive the second.” Does the collapse of the US seem a lot more likely to you now than it did in 2006? If so, that’s a good sign; if not, you should eat more fish. It is rich in omega-3 which will make your brain work better.

I don’t feel any particular urge urge to chime in with Roberts and announce that the US has just now reached the point of no return because in my opinion it passed this point a long ago. I also find it rather untoward that making this determination should hinge on the opinions of a couple of Russians; Americans should decide for themselves when their empire has collapsed far enough to call its collapse a collapse. Also, I don’t want to have a hand in collapsing America because it contradicts the informal Russian policy with regard to America’s collapse, which is neatly encapsulated in the lapidary phrase ВСЁ САМИ—“everything themselves”: Americans get to do their own collapsing while Russians refuse to lift a finger to help them. In line with this policy, I aim to inform collapse, not to perform collapse.

And in line with my goal of informing collapse, I wish to provide you with the tools to decide whether, and to what extent, American Empire has collapsed. My approach treats America as an empire, and assumes that it rests on the same three pillars as every other empire since empires first appeared many thousands of years ago. These three pillars do not include such incidentals as financial wealth, economic power, military might, technological superiority, a large population or vast territorial possessions. The three pillars are composed of essential mental constructs. Bereft of these key constructs an empire folds like a cheap suit. The American Empire once had these mental constructs in abundance. I want to equip you to decide for yourself whether it has them at all any more.

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Saturday, June 27, 2020

Toppling the Statue of Liberty

In recent weeks a number of public statues throughout the US (and quite a few in Europe) have been defaced and toppled. Historical figures that have been used to define America are being erased from public memory. Statues of Christopher Columbus (a.k.a. Cristobal Colón) have been toppled in Boston, Richmond and St. Paul. Statues of Thomas Jefferson and George Washington were toppled in Oregon. In New York, officials have granted approval for the removal of a statue of Teddy Roosevelt, who was a brilliant man, a most impressive figure and the most popular US president of all time. All of these historical figures are being accused of various sins, foremost among them that of being white males, and therefore by definition racist and misogynist—an accusation that is, in and of itself, purely racist and sexist.

It is contended that there exist two types of racism/sexism. The one of which white males are accused is an abomination while the one practiced by the supposed victims of white male racism/sexism is good and proper. There is clearly a double standard being applied, and the enforcement of a double standard is automatically an injustice that must be remedied. That is a principle which, if sacrificed for the sake of political expediency, inevitably leads to political collapse and civil war.

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Friday, June 19, 2020

Post-Collapse Administration

I have noticed a marked tendency to think that once the coronavirus blows over everything will go back to the way it was before—or even better, because of Elon Musk’s electric flying cars and fly-thru sex change clinics or what have you. A simple explanation for this tendency is that it is what people want to think: everyone just wants to go back to what they are used to, picking up where they left off and tickling their wild fancies any way they wish. A slightly more nuanced explanation is that the new, post-collapse reality is a mysterious, unfamiliar realm and that for many people thinking about it is too uncomfortable (if done right) or downright pointless (if it consists of cobbling together stereotypes from movies such as Mad Max and Waterworld or other such post-apocalyptic theme park attractions).

Those who wish to think that what’s happening is just a hiccough caused by a not particularly deadly virus and that this will all blow over soon enough are sure to be disappointed. Taking the US as an example, the crisis clearly started before the virus hit, as evidenced by the steady and quite noticeable slowing of the physical economy since 2018, evidenced by such boring statistics as the lack of sales of new long-haul trucks. But that was before all hell broke loose.

Since February 2020 the US lost 46 million full-time jobs, which is over a third of the overall workforce. Bloomberg forecasts that these jobs will come back no sooner than in six years—and only if in the meantime there is steady economic growth. But then the Congressional Budget Office predicts a GDP decrease of 5.6% and 10 years for it to recover (assuming that the worst is already over) so steady economic growth seems like a bit of a pipe dream. In fact, the Federal Reserve is predicting a second quarter GDP decrease of 52.8%, and so the CBO prediction is only plausible to believers in a V-shaped recovery that doesn’t seem to be happening. I, on the other hand, believe that this recession/depression/collapse has been brought to you by the letter L and the number 0.

A more reasonable expectation is that with the economy already shrunk by half another 20% of full-time jobs will need to be lost in the coming months in a wave of bankruptcies that have so far been held back by various emergency measures such as temporary unemployment benefits, moratoria on evictions and foreclosures, delays in student loan repayment, three-month tax holidays, etc. To keep the financial house of cards from pancaking the US federal debt had to go from $21 trillion to $28 trillion in a rather short period of time, and how much longer this can go on is anyone’s guess, but there seems to be consensus that it can’t go on forever. Meanwhile, data from May 2020 indicates that 26% of Americans could not feed themselves independently, and as this number continues to go up it will become increasingly impossible to ignore the fact that the cupboard is indeed bare and that the once wealthiest nation in the world is now a nation of beggars.

Once a solid majority of the population becomes destitute, what will become of the world’s greatest superpower, the indispensable nation, that shining beacon of freedom and democracy and embodiment of the can-do spirit with liberty and justice for all? On the ground, there are sure to be lots of dumpsters on fire, lots of shops looted, boarded up and out of business, various sections of downtowns becoming police no-go zones (if police are still to be found anywhere) presided over by heavily armed thugs. After all the statues of white imperialist exploiters and oppressors of yore are toppled and all the white people forced to kneel before some very nice people who hail from the ghetto, there is sure to come a moment (at least for those who at that point are still capable of some semblance of rational thought) to ask an obvious question: What, if anything, comes next?

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Sunday, June 14, 2020

Repent&Pay™ Considered Harmful

The entire world watches in dismay as the whites in the US genuflect in supplication before the putative descendants of African slaves, accepting their collective guilt and their collective punishment.

Throughout history, tribute has been considered a more civilized, less violent and more reliable end efficient alternative to occupation, rapine and plunder. Vanquished races were often quite happy to pay their conquerers an annual share of their wealth for the sake of being left unmolested and perhaps even protected from other invaders, and being allowed to keep some semblance of their former dignity intact. Relationships based on tribute sometimes improved over time. A famous example is the Golden Horde, which ruled Russia for a few centuries. It started with rapine and plunder, proceeded to relations based on tribute and eventually developed into a relatively copacetic arrangement based on mutual recognition and respect, where Genghis Khan’s descendants ruling from the capital of the Golden Horde on the Volga near the Caspian Sea issued writs (called “yaklyk”) which legitimized the rule of Russian princes over their various domains, including the Great Prince, which with Ivan the Terrible became the Czar and with Peter the Great the Emperor. Mongol rule protected Russia from the predations of the Catholics and, consequently, spared it the agonies of the Reformation, allowing it to develop into a separate Christian Orthodox civilization which abides to this day.

Tribute still plays a major role in today’s world, but it is uncertain for how much longer. Countries which use the US dollar in international and sometimes also in domestic trade implicitly acquiesce to the authority of the United States. They know full well that should they transgress against their masters in Washington their access to the US dollar will be cut off and their economies will languish. The US dollar remains for now as a relict of former neocolonial times (while just about everybody is ready to conclude that the US empire is in an advanced state of decay and is rapidly nearing its end). Meanwhile, a related but diametrically opposed phenomenon has been on the ascent: the demand for the payment of reparations based on the admission of collective guilt based on a system I will call Repent&Pay™.

Let’s ask some purely rhetorical and completely ridiculous questions. Where the Mongols guilty of invading Russia, and, if so, should Mongolia admit its historical guilt and Repent&Pay™ for the hundreds of years of oppression its ancestors visited on Russia? But wait, they weren’t the only ones to invade Russia. Poland needs to repent and pay for their invasion of Moscow which ended in 1612. And the French are guilty of invading Russia just 200 years later, in 1812. There were other foreign interventionists, including the US, during Russia’s civil war following the revolution of 2017. Finally, there was the German invasion of 1941-1945; shouldn’t the Germans (and their collaborators in other nations) Repent&Pay™ for it too? But wait, we are only getting started…

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Monday, June 08, 2020

Dances with Guns

Those who consider the protests and looting that have been occurring in the US, and in US-aligned countries over the past week or so have been frustrated in their effort to come up with a convincing rationale for them. The quest for justice spurred on by a particularly picturesque heart attack death of a certain violent criminal and drug dealer after being choked out by a policeman is certainly one, but it doesn’t motivate the subsequent violence or the looting. The theory that the Democrats and the Deep State are fomenting unrest in order to prevent Trump from winning a second term is a nice one, but what’s missing is any cogent explanation of why an economically devastated country would be more likely to vote for senile old Biden than for an amusingly random yet implacably forthright Trump, who called for the restoration of law and order by any means necessary including the introduction of Iraqi occupation-style military patrols but was thwarted by liberal Democratic governors, congressmen and even the Pentagon. By the time the election rolls around, many people would perhaps be ready to concede that the restoration of law and order by any means necessary is just the thing to vote for.

As with the coronavirus hysteria, where virtually every developed and semi-developed nation imposed arbitrary travel restrictions, ruinous business shutdowns and various futile quarantines and safety-themed public masquerades in response to a new respiratory virus that is less lethal than some recent seasonal influenzas and is selective in killing only those very old or very sick, who would soon die in any case, the reasons for taking these actions were in each instance quite different from those that were publicly stated. Specifically, the rationale that shutdowns and lockdowns would save lives is hollow given the number of lives lost because of ruined livelihoods, the various pathologies caused or exacerbated by the lockdowns and the social isolation and loss of access to regular medical care as hospitals scrambled to battle the new phantom menace.

More defensible rationales can be offered for the steps taken by various countries. As I had explained here, China, then Russia took this crisis as an opportunity to mobilize against a US bioterror attack (all those biowarfare labs the Pentagon has built all over the planet couldn’t be for nothing at all) thereby making such an attack less likely to be effective against their own populations and more likely to boomerang on the Americans themselves. In the US, the extreme, economically destructive measures could be rationalized as partisan attempts to dethrone Trump by making him appear indecisive and feckless in the face of a dire threat. Other indecisive and feckless national leaders could be said to have meekly followed the advice of the World Health Organization, which is mostly owned by the vaccine mogul Bill Gates, formerly of Microsoft, who was very interested in locking down the entire planet and making everyone buy an expensive and unnecessary vaccine—against a virus that happens to be a reasonably safe and effective inoculant against itself. This plan doesn’t appear to be working. A few days ago, as I watched the evening news on Russia’s Channel 1, I was startled to see a 10-second clip of Bill Gates, spliced in à propos of nothing, in which he appeared to be podcasting from his lair aboard Starship Microclusterfuck while blasting off toward Andromeda, during which he glowered and croaked out the news that of course his new (nonexistent) coronavirus vaccine would have to be made available to everyone.

But what is the single explanation for all of these different responses? I believe that the coronavirus hysteria was a crisis response unleashed by the technosphere, which I define as a global emergent machine-like intelligence composed of unwitting human moving parts that mindlessly pursues an abstract teleology of total control. In this instance it is being forced to confront the immanent demise of the fracking industry in the US, the consequent looming global energy shortage and the definitive end of global economic growth which is, in turn, required in order for global capitalism to function. In response, it attempted to salvage what it could of the global economy by splitting it up into separate technological zones, some of which could then be cut off from energy flows and allowed to wither. In desperation, it latched onto the coronavirus scare as a means to lock down national borders, disrupt supply chains and to force nations and groups of nations to self-isolate from each other and within themselves.

And what is the single explanation for the protests, riots and looting currently happening all across the US? I believe I can offer one here as well. Most surprisingly, it is, of all things, a matter of theatrical genre.

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Saturday, May 30, 2020

The Fate of Eastern Europe

People in the West tend to be overly concerned with the goings on in China. But they really don’t need to worry; China will do just fine without them. Indeed, even as the US registers a 50% GDP decline in the second quarter of 2020, China is back to economic growth. People in the West also tend to be overly concerned about the Middle East, mostly because that is where a lot of their oil comes from. But they really don’t need to worry about it either, or about where their oil comes from; what they should worry about is being able to pay for it with worthless money they are printing into existence. They also tend to worry about the Middle East because that’s where the tiny but pugnacious state of Israel is situated. They don’t need to worry about it either; there is a very nice, underpopulated Jewish Autonomous Region within the Russian Federation, on the border with China, to which Israelis will be able to evacuate once US financial and military support for Israel dries up. It is the only autonomous region left within the Russian Federation, kept separate, instead of being merged in with the much larger Khabarovsk region, for just such an eventuality. Instead, what the West should worry about is the great ark of incipient instability just to the east of it, extending from the Baltic to the Black sea and all the way up to the Great Wall of Russia.

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Monday, May 25, 2020

Transcript: Geopolitics and Empire Interview

Dmitry Orlov returns to the Geopolitics & Empire podcast for the third time.

He is a well-known Russian-American writer, blogger and author. His works include The Five Stages of Collapse; Shrinking the Technosphere, and many others that you can find at

We will be discussing the ensuing [impending] global economic collapse which he warned about many years ago. We’ll also get his thoughts on the geopolitical situation, all in the context of the coronavirus pandemic.

Let me just remind listeners to subscribe to all our channels on social media. Share, Like, leave us a podcast rating and review, and please do bookmark and please do subscribe to our new channels on Bitchute and Brighteon because YouTube is censoring everyone and anyone who questions the narrative these days.

You can also leave us a donation on Bitcoin, PayPal, Patreon or our new SubscribeStar. I also urge listeners to subscribe to our email list that includes our weekly interview and collection of news headlines.

So now on to Dmitry. How are you doing these days?

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Friday, May 22, 2020

Interview on Geopolitics and Empire

Dmitry Orlov gives his view on the pandemic and ensuing economic collapse. He looks at the dire situation facing the U.S., its dollar status, and the disintegration of the political system. He talks about his changed view on the climate movement and its liberal dogma. He gives his take on China, Russia, Putin after 2024, and the potential for military conflict. Finally, he provides an outline for what people should be doing to prepare as the crisis gets underway.

Listen [on SoundCloud] [on YouTube]

Friday, May 15, 2020

The Coronavirus of Kindness

[Em português: O Coronavírus da bondade]

What will happen with the terrible-horrible-awful not-so-novel-any-more coronavirus from Hell? My guess is that SARS-Cov-2 (its official name) will go the way of SARS-Cov-1 which I can’t possibly blame anyone for not remembering. These two viruses are 80% identical and both are thought to have originated in bats. But they behave differently. No. 1 causes symptoms to appear soon after infection and although it doesn’t spread as ferociously as No. 2, it kills a lot more of the people it infects. No. 2 is so contagious that at this point containing it seems an unlikely prospect anywhere in the world, and even strenuous efforts to slow its spread haven’t made much of a difference.

But No. 2 has its good side: it kills a tiny percentage of the people it infects and in its lethality it is similar to other, familiar flu viruses. In fact, now that the coronavirus pandemic has reached a plateau or is declining throughout much of the world, it looks as if No. 2 won’t significantly affect statistics on mortality except perhaps in Belgium, San Marino and Andorra. After adjusting for population growth and an aging population in many countries, mortality is currently lower than it had been throughout most of the recent years. In spite of these differences, No. 1 and No. 2 have two major similarities: first, both were relentlessly hyped; and second, as I believe the near future will show, both will have disappeared without a trace.

But then there is one major difference between No. 1 and No. 2. Whereas No. 1 was just a bad boy virus—a minor nuisance that resulted in just 700 deaths (a little less than 0.000001% of humanity)—a solid case can be made that No. 2, in spite of already having killed 0.003% of humanity and on track to kill 0.001% more, is a good virus—so good that I am tempted to call it God’s gift to humanity. To quote from Goethe’s Faust, No. 2 might say, in its own defense: “I am part of that power which eternally wills evil and eternally works good.” Since this may seem shocking, please let me explain exactly what I mean by that.

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Friday, May 01, 2020

Gaslighting the Coronavirus

For the past few days I have been holding back on commenting on current events, all of which revolve around the new coronavirus panic, and doing as much research as I could because the substance of what’s happening has been unclear to me.

• Why shut down the global economy because of a virus that isn’t particularly dangerous and has only been responsible for just over 1% of the deaths so far this year and has only affected 0.04% of the population and has killed off a mere 0.0028% of it?

• Why quarantine healthy people instead of just the old and the sick? (In Sweden, to take a typical example, 90% of the fatal cases were among those older than 70.)

• Why shut down schools and confine children indoors if they don’t even get sick from this virus?

• Why tell people to remain indoors when lack of sunlight, exercise and exposure to a wide variety of antigens leads to weakened immune systems and higher rates of infection?

• Why struggle to create a vaccine and vaccinate everyone when this virus happens to be a safe, effective and freely available inoculant against itself for the vast majority of healthy people?

• Why emphasize artificial lung ventilation when (in New York, for example) 80% of the patients who are hooked up to ALV machines die?

• Why tell everyone to wear face masks when they only stop 95% of virus particles (at best) and so delay the amount of time it takes to get infected from 10 seconds to as much as three minutes?

After some research and some thought I have been able to arrive at a single answer to all of these questions. But first, let’s examine some of them.

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Friday, April 17, 2020

Update 1

Update to the update: It looks like it was a mistake and they revised it back to 2174. The  model is back on track. Our model is an effective instant bullshit detector.

All of today’s delta of 5.2% came from a single-day doubling in US COVID-19 deaths. This chart shows only US deaths as reported daily.

This data doesn't fit any model except the one where US medics and coroners write COVID-19 on death certificates without bothering to verify that the novel coronavirus is the cause of death. This is the result of a political rather than a medical or a scientific decision. Garbage data isn't worth modeling: garbage-in, garbage-out.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

A Simple Model of the Coronavirus Pandemic

Take a Petri dish, fill it with agar, put a drop of bacteria sample in it, close it and put it in a warm place. The bacteria will grow explosively at first but then growth will slow down and eventually stop completely once the bacteria have consumed all the nutrients the agar can provide. Mathematically this process can be characterized quite accurately using the logistic function:

The logistic function also works well for characterizing pandemics, since the underlying process is similar. Rate of growth of bacteria depends on the number of bacteria and slows down as nutrients run out; rate of spread of infection depends on the number of infected individuals and slows down as the number of individuals left to infect declines.

Mathematical models can be arbitrarily complicated and, as an immediate consequence, arbitrarily wrong. It is possible to fit a polynomial to just about any data just by adding enough terms to it, but the predictive value of such an exercise is pretty much nil. The logistic model is simple. It uses just three parameters: midpoint, maximum and growth rate. And it models real, physical phenomena that are ubiquitous in nature: exponential growth and exponential saturation.

In modeling the coronavirus pandemic, we had to add a fourth parameter: a small offset. This is because the Chinese data, for whatever set of reasons, is difficult to treat as part of the world model. In mid-February the coronavirus jumped petri dishes, if you will. After that point the petri dish became the entire planet.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Hermitix Podcast: Coronavirus, Economics and Culture

YouTube link

Supporting Hermitix:

Due to the ongoing Coronavirus epidemic my future employment is uncertain at best. As such I believe it’s finally time that I turn Hermitix into everything it can be. I have updated the Patreon page with new and unique rewards alongside adding in 3 clear stretch goals. The purpose of these stretch goals is to allow me to pursue the continuation of Hermitix as a full-time job.

The first goal is a mere $1000 per month, this is the smallest amount I can live off. I will work on Hermitix as much as did when I was a joiner, 44 hours per week. The quality will not diminish and the quantity will be raised. Full-time Hermitix will commence 2 months after reaching the first stretch goal, allowing me ample time to get my affairs in order and produce a backlog of content.

Becoming a Patron today not only allows for the indefinite continuation of Hermitix, but also allows you to become part of something much larger. The rewards for becoming a Patron include: Discord access, eBooks, Paperbacks, Merchandise and Influence.

Please support Hermitix at:
Hermitix Patreon
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One off Donations at Ko-Fi
Hermitix Twitter

Friday, April 10, 2020

Coronavirus Crisis: Danger and Opportunity

“There is a lot happening in the world all at once right now. The entire planet is rapidly reconfiguring itself. The world is begging for a new post-capitalist, post-industrial order to be born…”—a quote from Orlov’s latest book The Meat Generation, published before the current crisis kicked off. The large scale, hierarchically-organised, and centrally controlled systems in energy, industry, transport, health, banking, politics–and more–upon which our modern societies depend, have once again proven dangerously unstable and inadequate when faced with serious challenges.

In the case of the current coronavirus meltdown, the real crisis has been the fear, panic, and craven capitulation with which so many have blindly reacted. Theories and speculation abound as to where all of this is taking us and just what a post-coronavirus future may hold. Based on events thus far, however, the wholesale compromise and loss of freedoms of speech, association, assembly, and travel, and the right to choose in health care, appears entirely possible. Whatever happens, a comprehensive return to ‘business as usual’ seems highly unlikely. The planet is indeed being reconfigured, in ways that are only just beginning to make themselves known.

(Stream/download audio)

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Flunking The Coronavirus Test

With all the ink being spilled over the topic of SARS-Cov-19 and COVID-19 and its various ramifications and effects, you might think that there is little to add. However, I am yet to see an article on the coronavirus as a test—not in the sense of a test for the presence of the virus or antibodies to it, but it as a test of us, as individuals, families, communities and entire nations. Already we see its effects range from relatively benign to unmitigated disaster. As always, to blame the test for one’s failure to pass it is to invite laughter at one’s own expense.

Those likely to flunk a test may prefer to refuse to take it. But refusing to take the coronavirus test is hardly an option. According to many epidemiologists, around 80% of the world’s population will eventually be exposed to this virus. A Machiavellian prince ruling over a primitive society that doesn’t have even a rudimentary public health care system could simply ignore it. Then, based on the presently available, inconclusive numbers, somewhere around 4% of the population will die, but the majority of them will be either old, sick or both. The prince would welcome this, thinking that old and sick people are a burden, so good riddance! He might even try to make some political hay out of the situation: since the virus has a foreign source, those it infects are also somehow foreign, or foreign-influenced, and therefore traitors who deserve this affliction as a sort of supernatural punishment. Referring to SARS-CoV-19 as “the Chinese virus” is very much along these lines.

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Sunday, March 29, 2020

The Clay Machine Gun

“…[M]any thousands of years ago, long before Buddha Dīpankara and Buddha Shakyamuni came into the world, there lived Buddha Anāgāma. He didn’t waste time on explanations and just pointed at things with the pinkie of his left hand. Immediately their true nature was revealed. He would point at a mountain, and it would disappear. He would point at a river, and it too would vanish. It’s a long story, but the way it ended was this: he pointed his left pinkie at himself, and vanished. All that was left of him was his left pinkie, which his students hid in a lump of clay. The clay machine gun is that very lump of clay with the Buddha’s pinkie inside. A very long time ago there lived a man in India who tried to turn this lump of clay into the most terrible weapon on earth. But as soon as he drilled a hole in the clay, the pinkie pointed at him, and he vanished. Since then the pinkie has been kept in a locked chest and moved from place to place until it was lost in one of the Mongolian lamaseries…”

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CBRN: Surviving Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Events

The English-language edition of this very important book by Piero San Giorgio and Chris Millenium has just been released. Below is the preface to it, which I was happy to provide. Please spread the word of this book far and wide. It is a book that can save many lives.

We live in a dangerous world, and it is constantly being made even more dangerous by technological developments, many of which bring with them unintended consequences which technology is often powerless to remedy. It is made even more dangerous by our inability to sense the dangers: our senses are poorly adapted to detecting chemical contaminants, and we are utterly helpless when it comes to sensing radioactivity or radioactive contamination. As far as the threat of microscopic pathogens, the ability of our immune systems to fight them off has been compromised, paradoxically, by good hygiene and the use of antibacterial soaps and antibiotics.

These dangers are multiplied by other risks our world faces, now and in the future. The continued safety of a great many of our industrial technologies—the ones that handle radioactive, toxic and virulent substances and organisms—rests on the presupposition of continued social stability. In the case of long-lived radionuclides such as uranium and plutonium, the period of social stability that would be required to keep them secure and isolated from the environment needs to span thousands of years, yet history teaches us that human civilizations don't ever last that long. When a civilization collapses, what normally follows is a dark age, during which populations crash, learning and even basic literacy become rare, population centers are abandoned and the few survivors discover for themselves how to subsist at a much more primitive level that does not include high technology.

When will this happen? Well, don't look now, but we are living through a time when nation-states are becoming defunct at an ever-increasing rate, when millions of refugees are roaming the planet, and when the financial systems that underpin the continued existence of the entire project of global industrial civilization are in such a state of disrepair that central banks are forced to resort to truly bizarre tricks, such as the imposition of negative interest rates coupled with boundless emission of money. What cannot continue forever generally doesn't, and we should not ignore the distinct possibility that we or our children will have to live through a period of great uncertainty, confusion and chaos.

But whatever should happen, all of us wish to lead happy, healthy, sane, fulfilling lives, and wish the same for our children. None of this will be possible unless we have peace of mind. But knowing that the prospects for our continued well-being are uncertain, we are filled with anxiety. Some of this anxiety results from learned helplessness and willful ignorance: we have been trained to trust the experts with ensuring our well-being and not try to second-guess them too much. But where will these experts be if the cities succumb to mob rule and become too unsafe to go near? To overcome our anxiety, we need to learn what the risks are, and be prepared to address them.

This book describes those risks which we are the least able to address using our commonsense, our perceptions and our instincts. They are the domain of technical experts, and without some special know-how and some specialized equipment we are completely helpless before them. Never mind being able to address them, in most cases we are not even able to detect their presence! But by working through this book, and by making a small investment in safety and detection equipment—which may be too much for a family, but is quite possible at the scale of even a small community—we can conquer our anxiety and regain the ability to lead fulfilling lives.

The threats are many, but perhaps the largest threat of all is simple human panic. When people are falling ill and nobody knows the reason, society can fall apart quite suddenly. But panic can be prevented if a few people have the information and can tell the others what is happening and what they should do or not do. You too can become one of these few people.

And so, don't panic—read this book!

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Bat-eating Troglodytes of Wuhan

[Warning: Anyone who makes racist remarks about bat-eating troglodytes shall be banned.]

The year was 2040, and the global coronavirus pandemic was in its 20th year. A young couple was on a date, walking together. They did not hold hands, embrace or kiss but maintained a distance of at least one meter between them and wore eye protection and face masks, as prescribed by law. It had been a long time since they were able to meet, because one or the other of them had a cough, or sniffles—a seasonal allergy, or perhaps a slight cold—and such symptoms made it necessary for them to exist in complete seclusion, their food and other necessities delivered by robots. Pale and weak after their lengthy period of isolation, they strolled and squinted in the bright sunlight, in the recently sanitized, secure space of the promenade, in full view of security cameras, and listened to the shrill high-pitched squeaks emitted by a loudspeaker system that were intended to scare away bats. They were at all times being chaperoned by AI software which sounded an alarm whenever they came too close to each other or, God forbid, actually touched.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020


Since I've been asked (repeatedly) to comment on this topic, I will, but since I am not a public health expert I will keep it short and stick to what I know for certain.

As of this morning there have been 93 cases of individuals with COVID-19; five of them have recovered; 109939 individuals have been tested out of a total population of 145 million. That's 0.00006% of the population infected out of 0.075% tested. Most of those who have become infected with it experienced mild flu-like symptoms, or none at all. Zero patients have died.

The response has been quite thorough, with the goal of preventing an epidemic. Schools and many public venues are closed. Border crossings are closed. Citizens being repatriated from COVID-19 affected countries on charter flights all land at a single high-security airport terminal and are being tested and quarantined. Everyone affected who cannot work is given automatic paid sick leave. That's in Russia.

Overall, what people need to understand is that for most of them getting infected with this particular coronavirus (which is one out of many in circulation) would be a nonevent. This one is present in bats (which don't get sick from it) and was most likely spread to humans through accidental contact with bat guano.

Based on the experience in China, which has by now largely conquered this epidemic, some people—especially the elderly, the chronically ill and those who smoke—may develop shortness of breath, in which case putting them on oxygen can help. Out of these, some develop complications such as respiratory failure and sepsis and die within hours (without treatment) or days (with treatment). In them the virus impairs the immune response within the lungs, which then become infected with bacteria and/or fungi that are normally present elsewhere within their bodies or within their environment. Placing such patients in intensive care is a desperate measure that doesn't necessarily save them.

Of course, if you happen to live in a country that was about to collapse anyway, this coronavirus could very easily do it in, but so could any other cough or sneeze. The first stage of collapse, out of a total of five stages, is called...


Oh, and in case you are wondering, running out and stocking up on toilet paper in response to a coronavirus threat is a symptom of an entirely different disease which can very well turn out to be fatal. Most curiously, it seems to affect the cerebral cortex via the rectum.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

When the Pot Boils Over

[Quando a panela ferve]

“A watched pot never boils,” an old saying goes. But does a watched empire never collapse? Hardly! All empires collapse eventually—no exceptions. Once an empire starts heading toward collapse, the watching can take quite a bit of time, especially if no new, rising empire is ready to take over. The event to watch for is when one collapse-related event immediately triggers the next, and the next. This tells us that a self-reinforcing collapse feedback loop has taken shape and that the process of collapse is picking up momentum—no longer driven by long-term trends but by an internal logic of its own, although certainly helped along by external shocks, some more significant than others.

A particularly significant shock to the system arrived just last week, on March 6, 2020. The system in question is the petrodollar system which has allowed the US to suck resources out of the rest of the world, keeping itself fed, clothed and fueled up simply by issuing debt. Why specifically focus of oil? In his excellent report “Oil from a Critical Raw Material Perspective” Simon Michaux writes: “Today, approximately 90% of the supply chain of all industrially manufactured products depend on the availability of oil-derived products, or oil-derived services.” Without oil nothing gets made and nothing moves. But oil is a finite, nonrenewable resource, and that’s the Achilles’ heel of an empire built primarily on controlling the international market for crude oil by issuing debt.

What happened last Friday is that the Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak declined to extend Russia’s agreement with OPEC, in effect since November 30, 2016, to limit production, keeping the price of oil from crashing while allowing shale oil producers in the US to increase production and, theoretically, take market share away from OPEC and Russia… except that neither OPEC nor Russia have enough spare capacity to significantly increase their market share in any case. This agreement will remain in effect until the end of March, and in response oil futures crashed immediately following the announcement, with the Brent benchmark currently priced at just $36.87/barrel, whereas at the end of last year it stood at nearly $70/barrel. Leading the way, Saudi Arabia announced that it is doing away with all voluntary constraints on production while granting discounts to its most important customers. Why do Russia’s and Saudi Arabia’s decisions indicate the beginning of the end of the petrodollar? The answer to this question is well in hand but isn’t particularly widely known—yet—and, given how reticent and bashful Western media has become in divulging unwelcome news, perhaps never will be.

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Saturday, February 29, 2020

Custom Hardware

A couple of months into the second decade of the 21st century a coronavirus pandemic is sweeping the planet causing tourism and commerce to shrivel up and crashing financial markets (which have been long overdue for a crash in any case). Soon supply line disruptions will cause assembly lines around the world to grind to a halt for lack of parts. As the pandemic runs its course, it is likely to sweep away an entire cohort of elderly smokers. Meanwhile, Americans are getting ready to choose between a capitalist who doesn’t know how to make capitalism work for the masses and a socialist who doesn’t know how to make socialism work for anyone. In such times, what is a collapse-oriented blogger to do?

First things first: eat a hearty bowl of borscht loaded with shredded beef, garnished with a dollop of sour cream and some chopped scallion, dill and garlic and served with rye bread. And once that’s done, it is time to attend to some long-neglected sailboat design tasks.

Three years ago I bravely published a post titled “The Final Sheeting Arrangement.” I was filled with optimism at the time. After much experimentation I had discovered a simple way to keep Quidnon’s Junk sails sheeted perfectly flat. I had tested it out on a 1:12 scale model and verified that it worked very well indeed. But soon after I published it my friend and very experienced Junk rig operator Dave Zeiger blew my boat straight out of the water by pointing out a major problem with my design: it would not keep the sails anywhere near flat once they have been reefed. I accepted his critique with equanimity and, since I had no solution to offer, kept quiet about it for three years, during which, luckily, not a single person endeavored to build a single Quidnon, and so this unsolved problem hasn’t hurt anyone.

But now I believe I have finally found a solution. With this problem solved, the Quidnon project can finally move past the head-scratching phase and on to the next phase, which will involve grinding out a large number of mechanical drawings, assembly diagrams and other documentation without which no boat can ever get built. Here, then, is my plan, which I will call “The Final-Final Sheeting Arrangement.”

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Friday, February 21, 2020

The Global Warming Apocalyptic Cult

[Note: this article is much longer than my usual—almost 8000 words. I have been working assiduously on it for over a month, and that explains why my postings have been so sparse lately. It’s behind a firewall because I don’t want any trouble from cult members.]

Do you want to save the planet? Do you feel that this requires everyone to stop burning fossil fuels, and does doing so necessarily involve paving the land with solar panels and lining the beaches and the mountain ridges with giant wind generators? How about putting a tax on carbon dioxide emissions and taxing people for the carbon dioxide they emit? Do you believe that “99.9% of climate scientists agree...” logically implies that they are necessarily right? And what makes you think that humans are capable of saving planets when they can’t even figure out what to do with their garbage?

If this sort of thinking triggers you and causes you to imagine that I am some sort of “climate change denialist,” then, unless you are emotionally fragile and prone to hysterical fits, you should still make an effort and continue reading, because you may have, through no fault of your own, have found yourself inducted into the Global Warming Apocalyptic Cult. The first step in freeing yourself from the clutches of an apocalyptic cult is realizing that you are an apocalyptic cult member. Part of the process involves learning how the cult functions: where the cult gets its power; why people fall into its clutches and, perhaps most importantly, who is paying for it and who is getting rich from it. Having your illusions shattered may be painful at first, but you are sure to feel better later—unless you immediately find something equally beyond your control to worry about and get busy with that.

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Saturday, February 08, 2020

A Most Convenient Virus

I prefer to write on things I know about, but once in a while an opportunity presents itself for me to comment on some aspect of widespread mistrust and confusion while resting on a solid foundation of my professional curiosity. This is the case of the 2019-nCoV novel coronavirus. A lot of the elements of the coronavirus story just don’t add up, and that’s what I want to explore. At the outset, I want to make it clear that I am no expert on these matters. Is 2019-nCoV a genetically engineered biological weapon or is it a naturally evolved strain of a virus that is endemic in China’s bat population? This we don’t know, but it is interesting to look at the plausibility of each of these scenarios and also to consider whether what we are observing could be a combination of a little of each.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Peak Free Oil

Back in my halcyon days of youth I went to some anti-war demonstrations, not to protest against the first Gulf War, since I could already see that such protest would turn out to be futile, but to pick up women. Sure, I shouted “No war for oil!” as loud as I could, but that was just my mating call. Even in those salad days of yore I was already smart enough to know that “No war for oil!” was a spectacularly stupid thing for us to be shouting. “We want to die!” would have been equally dumb. What would North Americans, with their own reserves badly depleted, but with their car-dependent suburban sprawl still sprawling, do without oil stolen from some unlucky country? Crawl slowly toward the nearest gas station and expire from exhaustion along the way? But we aren’t dead just yet, so let’s crawl back down the memory lane and see how this situation came about, then crawl back to see where we are today.

Once upon a time the USA was a remarkably oily nation, with prolific oil wells such as the renowned Spindletop in East Texas. Juvenile USAnians competed against each other on who could burn the most rubber while getting the shittiest gas mileage. I caught the tail end of that failed experiment: my first car was a monstrous, hulking land yacht: a ’68 Chevrolet Caprice. In 1970 a phenomenon called Peak Oil arrived in the US, oil production fell and drastic steps became necessary. One of them was to convert from a “take our dollars or our gold” scheme to a “take our dollars or else” scheme: if you don’t like dollars, we also have bombs. Another was to start going directly after the oil wherever in the world it is found and trying to take it without paying for it. But all things, good and bad, must come to an end eventually, and free oil is no exception. In fact, what we may be witnessing at the moment is a phenomenon I wish to call Peak Free Oil.

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Friday, January 17, 2020

Life After Putin

Two days ago Vladimir Putin delivered his annual address before the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, and since then I have received a flurry of emails and comments from people asking me to explain what he meant. I don’t want to make assumptions about the depth of your interest in Russian affairs, and so, to save you time, let me start by providing a very short executive summary: Putin will step down as president after his current term, which will end in 2024 unless an early election is held, but the system he has put in place will stay in place. Essentially, life after Putin will be more Putin under a different name. If that’s all you care about, you can stop reading now.

To delve deeper, we need to draw a distinction between Putin the man and the system of governance he has built over the past 20 years. There is always plenty to complain about, but overall it has been quite effective. During Putin’s period in power, Russia has solved the problems of separatism and domestic terrorism, reigned in the predatory oligarchy, paid off virtually all of its foreign debts including ones it inherited from the USSR, grew its economy by a factor of six (vs. China’s five and USA’s one), regained Crimea (which had been part of Russia since 1783), rebuilt its armed forces to a point where international security is no longer a major concern, and achieved an overall level of societal well-being that is unparalleled in all of Russian history.