Sunday, October 02, 2011

Crossroads Lecture on “The Fall of the American Empire”

Photo credit: David Reid
Update: We managed to completely fill Orcas Center. As one of the organizers said afterwards, "The 99%ers loved it, the 1%ers hated it." I prepared for this eventuality by providing a few shiny new dimes: the 1%ers got a 1% refund on the $10 ticket. I suppose the 1%ers didn't much like my characterizing them as "Bums with money."

Here is the mp3 of the talk.

Sunday, October 9 at 2 p.m. at Orcas Center

From the Crossroads Lecture Series Committee

The Orcas Crossroads Lecture Series presents Dmitry Orlov’s lecture, Fall of the American Empire next Sunday, October 9, 2 pm at Orcas Center, including a reception and book signing with the speaker following the presentation.

Update: Here's a write-up from a local paper.


linhares said...

Congrats! And please let us have some video afterwards.

Have you read "When money dies?" Most likely you have, but in any case there are so many parallels in there with the FUSA it's not even funny. Substitute "Germany" for "FUSA", "war reparations" for "Debt", "France" for "China", and "Jews" for "Politicians", and it seems it is a book written in 2020.

Love your stuff, Dmitry (you're wrong on gold, though).

Bukko Boomeranger said...

Never mind that previous comment. I see the Orcas Center is less than 200 km (and a ferry ride) from where I live. See you on Sunday! You speak in some odd places, Kollapsnik...

what the Tee Vee taught said...

Orcas, nice... I've been several times, lovely place.

Fantastic bike trails (cruising from the top of Mt. Constitution is a giddy good time), and one excellent bakery — Rose's — that I'd recommend you consider enjoying.

You're going to create a nice buzz, I'd guess — probably the biggest thing since the Barefoot Bandit last struck — ... "when the ferries stop running?! (incredulous glances exchanged)... what-what-what?!"

cruiser_moves said...

Are you in or near Boston any time soon?

Bukko Boomeranger said...

Kollapsnik, it was interesting to hear you in person. (I was the guy who asked you to sign two of the books "Don't say you weren't warned." I'm going to give those away to friends who I'm trying to educate about what's going to hit within their lifetimes.) Your delivery was not what I expected. Based on your dry, cynical humour in writing, I anticipated a guy who'd be more wry, with a few sly jokes. But you were almost completely deadpan, hardly cracking a smile until about 2/3 of the way through. I suppose a serious demeanour goes with the material you're presenting.

For Orlov fans, let me set the scene:

The place he spoke is on an island in the north end of the Puget Sound. It's actually ABOVE (geographically speaking) the capital of the Canadian province where I live. (British Columbia is governed from the city of Victoria, which is situated on Vancouver Island, a large body of land off the coast.) The way you get to the island where Dmitry spoke is to take a one-hour ride on a ferryboat run by the Washington State government. It's one of the better routes amongst the state ferries, cruising through a lot of conifer-covered islands with snow-capped mountain ranges in the far distance (if you're lucky enough to ride on a day when there's no rain.) On the way back, we had a splendid clear view of Mount Baker (a peak on the Canadian border that's bigger than the better-known Mount Rainier.) There was also a nearly full moon rising. Magic journey!

Orcas Island is a place where rich people hang out, kinda like Martha's Vineyard, Captiva in Florida or Catalina in California. I thought that a somewhat obscure blogger like Kollapsnik would not have drawn a large audience. (Nobody I know in real life has heard of him when I talk about doom-stuff; only people here who I've met at functions related to The Automatic Earth blog are aware of "The Collapse Gap") But the auditorium was packed to capacity -- about 150 people.

At least 75% were grey-hairs (including me, under the Miss Clairol). That's too bad, because we'll be dead before the collapse fully plays out. It's the young people who need to hear Orlov's perspective, since they're likely to be living with the fallout.

I'd give Orlov's book to my 22-year-old daughter, but she still hasn't read "The Long Emergency" by Jim Kunstler that I sent her two years ago, and considers me a Chicken Little because total collapse hasn't happened yet. HELLO! We're INSIDE the collapse RIGHT NOW! I tried to warn her...

Bukko Boomeranger said...

Part two -- pardon the length, Kollapsnik...

Dmitry hammered his points home non-stop. It was like hearing from a doctor who says "You're dying of cancer. Here's how your liver will fail. Your lungs will fill up with fluid like THIS. You can expect this type of discharge from your intestines. Your heartbeat will start doing THAT. Intense pain will be coming from here, and here, and there..." Good thing there were no containers of suicide capsules at the cheese-and-crackers reception that followed. I'm sure they would have been emptied straight away.

I looked around a couple of times to see if I could notice anyone with their jaws dropping or heads exploding. People were pretty taciturn. During the Q&A, one old Czechoslovakian guy got up and harangued Dmitry for the Soviet suppression of the Prague Spring in 1968 -- as if Kollapsnik was riding on top of one of Brezhnev's tanks -- but nobody walked out in anger over Orlov's smack-down of the USA.

Kollapsnik, you have a good speaking style. Straight to the point, no stumbles, no "ah, errrr, umms"... It's not easy to rattle off verbiage for 80 minutes straight, for all those who have never tried it.

The one thing I would suggest is that you develop a better audio-visual presentation to go with your talks. The Peak Oil production chart you had was hard for me to see, and I was sitting just three rows back from the stage (not far behind the guy -- I'm guessing he is a friend who invited you out there? -- who shot the photo now atop this post.)

Then again, as you said, you're not out to make a living from lecturing. "Stoneleigh" of Automatic Earth has a powerful PowerPoint backup when she speaks in person, heavy with graphs and statistics. But I get the impression she's on a crusade the alert the planet. You strike me as more of an observer than a willing prophet.

As far as the content of Orlov's talk, for any of you comment-readers, I've rattled on long enough and Kollapsnik doesn't need me in the peanut gallery analyzing his words. Listen to the mp3 or buy the book, eh?

I'll have to get around to reading he copy I plan to keep. It will make additional light reading along with the first two volumes of Chalmers Johnson's "Blowback" trilogy and "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" which I'm currently working my way through.

Despite the heavy literature, I am not depressed. But that's mainly because I have escaped from the U.S. and have taken many of the steps that Kollapsnik recommends (not just because he said so) -- including making friends with one of our neighbours who has a family homestead/farm on one of those islands near where Orlov spoke. (Hers is on the Canadian side of the border, though.) No one can truly be prepared for what's going to hit the world, because it's beyond imagination. But I'm doing my best to better my odds.

Unknown said...

Thank you Bukko. It's an interesting review. Some day I too hope to attend an Orlov presentation. I have so much respect for the man.

I've struggled with depression from the moment in 2008 when I realized this was going down. Making preparations helped me manage, but it didn't bring joy. I changed my perspective with a realization that happiness is a state found within. It isn't the system that makes us happy, it's what we make of our experiences. We have experiences in any environment and we can make the best of all of them. What does it cost to read a book with a loved one, or to simply be with someone you care about? Is there more pleasure found in a plate that's always full, or is it actually better to want and then achieve? I do not suppose the limitations of our system are what we perceive. I think we view through too narrow a lense.

I don't embrace collapse, but I see no reason to fear it either. Instead, I plan to make the most of every day, and to prepare as I can when I can.

Many terminal cancer patients can smile knowing they won't survive their plight. But we wise people can survive this... why not smile and enjoy life while benefiting from a little extra prep time?

Jerry McManus said...

The Economic Collapse - How It Will Happen

Oddly, this ends up being an ad for stockpiles of freeze dried food (a la Matt Savinar), but here are the 13 steps to economic collapse as articulated by a coupla cute lil' furries:

One: Imports to the country increase drastically as exports decrease.

Two: Federal reserve introduces more money to lend as the number of individual and corporate borrowers soars. The stock market goes up, saturated by investment money as the bubble gets bigger.

Three: Imported goods are preferred over domestic goods, mainly because of price but for other reasons as well. Borrowing continues to increase.

Four: Money pours out of the country as more and more imports pour in. Credit becomes tighter as there is not enough money left to keep the economy running as it should.

Five: The reduced amount of money causes a reduction in capital expenditures which in turn causes recessions. Many businesses close or downsize and layoffs increase.

Six: Banks stop lending money because they are afraid of the increasing bad debt.

Seven: Credit dries up. Many small businesses go bankrupt. Unemployment increases as more and more people get laid off.

Eight: The stock market bubble pops and plunges into a deep bear market as conditions become worse.

Nine: People with paper money start hoarding it and not putting it in banks. Some people withdraw their savings from banks to keep it on hand. As paper money stops circulating and disappears, then economic depression sets in.

Ten: Cash becomes scarce as banks limit withdrawals in an attempt to prevent runs.

Eleven: Many banks fail due to bad loans and bank runs. Inflation rises dramatically.

Twelve: People with paper money start getting rid of it in exchange for hard assets. Suddenly there is more money in circulation than there are goods to be purchased, which causes hyperinflation.

Thirteen: The government tries to allocate scarce resources and the black market for goods increases.

At this point the economy as we know it will have collapsed entirely.

We appear to be somewhere between steps Five and Seven. Can bank runs and black markets be far behind?

Skywatcher said...

I also attended the Orcas lecture and just want to thank Dmitry. It was well worth the 9 1/2 round trip from Lopez Island (only about 3 miles as the crow flies). Fall and Winter ferry schedule is already getting worse.

Thank you Dmitry for taking your time and energy to spread the word. The truth is not always well received but that doesn't mean that it does not need to be delivered.

As far as a review, I completely agree with Bukko's. Thank you for that. I did see a few attendees tense up at certain moments. That's OK and good for them.

Thank you again Dmitry, may our paths cross again someday. If not, then let me now wish you peace.

Longshorttrader said...

Perhaps a Post on Soros is Due? LOL

It'd be funny if Soros read your work, or someone he talks to mentioned your work to him, and he instantly agreed...

Or... he simply came to the same conclusions. He, too, after all, is a survivor of apocalyptic conditions.

Jeff Snyder said...

That was fantastic, Dimitry, and I really appreciated your observations on how to position oneself to launch a business when the too big not to fails collapse. I also really appreciated your remarks on how big systems collapse all at once.

My wife and I have been observing some of the smaller tell-tale signs of the post peak oil world. In the last 18 months we had to replace our old stove and old refrigerator. We are both in our 50s and our memories of the appliances we grew up with, like washing machines, stoves, etc., is that basically they almost never broke, and could be counted to last for like 20 years. You would get sick of looking at them long before they gave out. Well, here we are in 2011 and the new gas stove we bought, a medium price range model, certainly not "cheap" in dollar terms, already has two burners that have some sort of blockages and aren't working, and the new refrigerator (ditto) has cheap handles that were defective and had to be replaced already. Possibly this has a lot to do with the corners that the Chinese manufacturers so love to cut so that they can squeeze a few extra pennies per unit out for themselves, but we suspect it's more than that. Apparently we hit Peak Quality some time ago and it's downhill from here.

H. C. said...

In the there is a reference to the limits of strategic minerals and elements by Chris Glaucksten (spelling?). I cannot find anything on google, does anyone have any links to more information on this?

Dmitry Orlov said...

It's Chris Clugston, and his book, "Scarcity" is available for free download here:

UncommonBusiness said...

Here is a HuffPost article that highlights a lot of points from Dmitry's speech, from being stranded in suburbia with no car to non-profits being overwhelmed

Pies de Gatos said...

Thank you for making this available for free, you might not realize how big that is to some of us. You make me smile and feel less insane about my current life.

Thank you

Kevin said...

Excellent speech. Thanks for posting the MP3 Dmitry. It was well worth the 2 hour download that dial-up imposes. I listened with especially keen attention to your suggestions for readiness to start a business in the wake of the sudden collapse of systems too big to not fail. You mentioned in a prior post that you might write more about this in a blog entry to come, and I hope you will, for I'm looking forward to it.

Dr. Doom said...

Dmitri, I have a question: do you agree with the rather simple relationship of human population growth and sustainability with oil production rise and continued flow? There was some discussion of this topic recently on The Oil Drum blog and I recently found Peter Goodchild follows a similar argument to Jay Hanson and Richard Duncan's old ideas of highly-linked human population prospects with those of Peak Oil and decline. However, even the dire World 3 projections in The Limits to Growth show a much milder drop in population after industrial (primarily oil) production peaks and drops away.

I think I know what camp you're in on this important point but wanted to get your views on the matter, especially in light of your skepticim of a gentle, few percent per annum decline in oil production.

subgenius said...

If anybody else is having problems getting Chris Clugston's "Scarcity" it is here (Dmitry's link didn't display completely in Chrome on my system...)

Dmitry Orlov said...

Doom -

There's definitely a relationship between exponential growth in the oil supply and the population explosion. I also agree that on the downside of petroleum supply collapse (if you still want to call it a "downside") the population will dwindle. But I wouldn't call that a relationship. The major reasons for population reduction I would expect are reduced birth rate due to increased stress and malnutrition, shortened life spans due to suicides and unavailability of life-extending pharma, increased mortality due to crime and war, and the very hard to quantify toll that despair takes on a population that's used to leading a comfortable life. A lot of it depends on culture. I've seen places where everyone decides to drink themselves to death as quickly as possible, and I've seen others that manage to maintain a much more positive attitude. It seems like the more socially divided, conflicted and confrontational a place is before collapse, the worse it will do after. This is all very hard to model, because models struggle with characterizing nonlinear and discontinuous relationships that have to do with psychology and culture rather than physics, so we shouldn't expect models such as World3 to be of much help. On the other hand, what would we do with this information. Having a realistic perspective is one thing; having enough useless data to satisfy one's morbid curiosity is quite another.

Dr. Doom said...

Thank you Dmitri for that thoughtful response. One of the major population control factors that Duncan, Hanson, Goodchild and others put forward, quoting ecology texts like Catton's Overshoot, is starvation. More recent examples of its potent effects are from China, and of course, Africa. Speaking globally, even world wars do not have much impact on human population, despite their enhanced mayhem. I agree about your point of collecting useless, morbid information. Yet, mass morbidity is apparently what is coming. I find it hard to believe myself, but the logic says it's so. I admire your realistic approach. No sense getting too emotional about facts beyond our control. Best to try and prepare as much as possible, if not for yourself, at least for the younger ones.