Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Conversation About Europe

I came upon Dmitry Orlov's writings—as with most good things on the Internet—by letting chance and curiosity guide me from link to link. It was one of those moments of clarity when a large number of confusing questions find their answer along with their correct formulation. For example, the existence of fundamental similarities between the Soviet Union and the United States was for me a vague intuition, but I was unable to draw up a detailed list as Dmitry has done. One must have lived in two crumbling empires in order to be able to do that.

I must say that my enthusiasm was not shared by those around me, with whom I have shared my translations. It's only natural: who wants to hear how our world of material comfort, opportunity and unstoppable individual progress is about to collapse under the weight of its own expansion? Certainly not the post-war generation weaned on the exuberant growth of the postwar boom (1945-1973), well established in their lives of average consumers since the 1980s, and willing to enjoy a hedonistic age while remaining convinced that despite the economic tragedies ravaging society around them, their grandchildren will benefit from more or less the same well-padded, industrialized lifestyle. The generation of their children is more receptive to the notion of economic decline—though to varying degrees, depending on the decrease of their purchasing power and how lethally bored they feel at work (if they can find any) .

It would be wrong to shoot the messenger who brings bad news. If you read Dmitry carefully, scrupulously separating the factual bad news, which are beyond his control, from his views on what can be done to survive and live in a post-industrial world, you will find evidence of strong optimism. I hope that in this he is right.

Whatever our views on peak oil and its consequences—or our distate for scary prophecies—we can find in Dmitry Orlov fresh ideas on how to conduct our lives in a degraded economic and political environment, reasons to seek fruitful relations with people you might not normally cherry-pick, or the most effective approach to the frustrating political and media chatter and the honeyed whisper of commercial propaganda (shrug, turn around and go on with your life).

Tancrède Bastié

TB: What difference do you see between American and European close future?

DO: European countries are historical entities that still hold vestiges of allegiances beyond the monetized, corporate realm, while the United States was started as a corporate entity, based on a revolution that was essentially a tax revolt and thus has no fall-back. The European population is less transient than in America, with a stronger sense of regional belonging and are more likely to be acquainted with their neighbors and to be able to find a common language and to find solutions to common problems.

Probably the largest difference, and the one most promising for fruitful discussion, is in the area of local politics. European political life may be damaged by money politics and free market liberalism, but unlike in the United States, it does not seem completely brain-dead. At least I hope that it isn't completely dead; the warm air coming out of Brussels is often indistinguishable from the vapor vented by Washington, but better things might happen on the local level. In Europe there is something of a political spectrum left, dissent is not entirely futile, and revolt is not entirely suicidal. In all, the European political landscape may offer many more possibilities for relocalization, for demonetization of human relationships, for devolution to more local institutions and support systems, than the United States.

TB: Will American collapse delay European collapse or accelerate it?

DO: There are many uncertainties to how events might unfold, but Europe is at least twice as able to weather the next, predicted oil shock as the United States. Once petroleum demand in the US collapses following a hard crash, Europe will for a time, perhaps for as long as a decade, have the petroleum resources it needs, before resource depletion catches up with demand.

The relative proximity to Eurasia's large natural gas reserves should also prove to be a major safeguard against disruption, in spite of toxic pipeline politics. The predicted sudden demise of the US dollar will no doubt be economically disruptive, but in the slightly longer term the collapse of the dollar system will stop the hemorrhaging of the world's savings into American risky debt and unaffordable consumption. This should boost the fortunes of Eurozone countries and also give some breathing space to the world's poorer countries.

TB: How does Europe compare to the United States and the former Soviet Union, collapse-wise?

DO: Europe is ahead of the United States in all the key Collapse Gap categories, such as housing, transportation, food, medicine, education and security. In all these areas, there is at least some system of public support and some elements of local resilience. How the subjective experience of collapse will compare to what happened in the Soviet Union is something we will all have to think about after the fact. One major difference is that the collapse of the USSR was followed by a wave of corrupt and even criminal privatization and economic liberalization, which was like having an earthquake followed by arson, whereas I do not see any horrible new economic system on the horizon that is ready to be imposed on Europe the moment it stumbles. On the other hand, the remnants of socialism that were so helpful after the Soviet collapse are far more eroded in Europe thanks to the recent wave of failed experiments of market liberalization.

TB: How does peak oil interact with peak gas and peak coal? Should we care about other peaks?

DO: The various fossil fuels are not interchangeable. Oil provides the vast majority of transport fuels, without which commerce in developed economies comes to a standstill. Coal is important for providing for the base electric load in many countries (not France, which relies on nuclear). Natural gas (methane) provides ammonia fertilizer for industrial agriculture, and also provides thermal energy for domestic heating, cooking and numerous manufacturing processes.

All of these supplies are past their peaks in most countries, and are either past or approaching their peaks globally.

About a quarter of all the oil is still being produced from a handful of super-giant oil fields which were discovered several decades ago. The productive lives of these fields have been extended by techniques such as in-fill drilling and water injection. These techniques allow the resource to be depleted more fully and more quickly, resulting in a much steeper decline: the oil turns to water, slowly at first, then all at once. The super-giant Cantarell field in the Gulf of Mexico is a good example of such rapid depletion, and Mexico does not have many years left as an oil exporter. Saudi Arabia, the world's second-largest oil producer after Russia, is very secretive about its fields, but it is telltale that they have curtailed oil field development and are investing in solar technology.

Although there is currently an attempt to represent as a break-through the new (in reality, not so new) hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling techniques for producing natural gas from geological formations, such as shale, that were previously considered insufficiently porous, this is, in reality, a financial play. The effort is too expensive in terms of both technical requirements and environmental damage to pay for itself, unless the price of natural gas rises to the point where it starts to cause economic damage, which suppresses demand.

Coal was previously thought to be very abundant, with hundreds of years of supply left at current levels. However, these estimates have been reassessed in recent years, and it would appear that the world's largest coal producer, China, is quite close to its peak. Since it is coal that has directly fueled the recent bout of Chinese economic growth, this implies that Chinese economic growth is at an end, with severe economic, social and political dislocations to follow. The US relies on coal for close to half of its electricity generation, and is likewise unable to increase the use of this resource. Most of the energy-dense anthracite has been depleted in the US, and what is being produced now, through environmentally destructive techniques such as mountaintop removal, is much lower grades of coal. The coal is slowly turning to dirt. At a certain point in time coal will cease to provide an energy gain: digging it up, crushing it and transporting it to a power plant will become a net waste of energy.

It is essential to appreciate the fact that it is oil, and the transport fuels produced from it, that enables all other types of economic activity. Without diesel for locomotives, coal cannot be transported to power plants, the electric grid goes down, and all economic activity stops. It is also essential to understand that even minor shortfalls in the availability of transport fuels have severe economic knock-on effects. These effects are exacerbated by the fact that it is economic growth, not economic décroissance [Fr., "de-growth"] (which seems inevitable, given the factors described above) that forms the basis of all economic and industrial planning. Modern industrial economies, at the financial, political and technological level, are not designed for shrinkage, or even for steady state. Thus, a minor oil crisis (such as the recent steady increase in the price of oil punctuated by severe price spikes) results in a sociopolitical calamity.

Lastly, it bears mentioning that fossil fuels are really only useful in the context of an industrial economy that can make use of them. An industrial economy that is in an advanced state of decay and collapse can neither produce nor make use of the vast quantities of fossil fuels that are currently burned up daily. There is no known method of scaling industry down to boutique size, to serve just the needs of the elite, or to provide life support to social, financial and political institutions that co-evolved with industry in absence of industry. It also bears pointing out that fossil fuel use was very tightly correlated with human population size on the way up, and is likely to remain so on the way down. Thus, it may not be necessary to look too far past the peak in global oil production to see major disruption of global industry, which will make other fossil fuels irrelevant.

TB: How is post-collapse Russia doing ? Ready for its second peak ?

DO: Russia remains the world's largest oil producer. Although it has been unable to grow its conventional oil production, it has recently claimed that it can double its oil endowment by drilling offshore in the melting Arctic. Russia is and remains Europe's second largest energy asset. In spite of toxic pipeline politics (which have recently been remedied somewhat by the construction of the Nordstream gas pipeline across the Baltic) it has historically been the single most reliable European energy supplier, and shows every intention of remaining so into the future.

TB: Is there hope for a safe, harmless European decline, or is any industrial society just bound to collapse at once when fuel runs out?

DO: The severity of collapse will depend on how quickly societies can scale down their energy use, curtail their reliance on industry, grow their own food, go back to manual methods of production for fulfilling their immediate needs, and so forth. It is to be expected that large cities and industrial centers will depopulate the fastest. On the other hand, remote, land-locked, rural areas will not have the local resources to reboot into a post-industrial mode. But there is hope for small-to-middling towns that are surrounded by arable land and have access to a waterway. To see what will be survivable, one needs to look at ancient and medieval settlement patterns, ignoring places that became overdeveloped during the industrial era. Those are the places to move to, to ride out the coming events.

TB: I remember my grandmother telling me about the German occupation, when urban and suburban dwellers flocked into country towns every Sunday with empty cases, eager too find some food to buy from the local farmers, hopping back in a train the same day. Is there any advantage in living in a city, in a post-collapse era, rather than in the countryside?

DO: Surviving in the countryside requires a different mindset, and different set of skills than surviving in a town or a city. Certainly, most of our contemporaries, who spend their days manipulating symbols, and expect to be fed for doing so, would not survive when left to their own devices in the countryside. On the other hand, even those living in the countryside are currently missing much of the know-how they once had for surviving without industrial supplies, and lack the resources to reconstitute it in a crisis. There could be some fruitful collaboration between them, given sufficient focus and preparation.

TB: Can we grow sufficient food with low technology, low energy methods, out of highly exhausted, highly polluted farmland ? It seems we might end up in a worse farming situation than our ancestors just two or three generations ago.

DO: That is certainly true. Add global warming, which is already causing severe soil erosion due to torrential rains and floods, droughts and heat waves in other areas. It is likely that agriculture as it has existed for the past ten thousand years will become ineffective in many areas. However, there are other techniques for growing food, which involve setting up stable ecosystems consisting of many species of plants and animals, including humans, living together synergistically. What will of necessity be left behind is the current system, where fertilizers and pesticides are spread out on tilled dirt (rather than living soil) to kill everything but one organism (a cash crop) which is then mechanically harvested, processed, ingested, excreted, and flushed into the ocean. This system is already encountering a hard limit in the availability of phosphate fertilizer. But it is possible to create closed cycle systems, where nutrients stay on the land and are allowed to build up over time. The key to post-industrial human survival, it turns out, is in making proper use of human excrement and urine.

TB: If cities or big towns survive collapse, what will be their core activities? What do we need cities for?

DO: The size of towns and cities is proportional to the surplus that the countryside is able to produce. This surplus has become gigantic during the period of industrial development, where one or two percent of the population is able to feed the rest. In a post-industrial world, where two-thirds of the population is directly involved in growing or gathering food, there will be many fewer people who will be able to live on agricultural surplus. The activities that are typically centralized are those that have to do with long-range transportation (sail ports) and manufacturing (mills and manufactures powered by waterwheels). Some centers of learning may also remain, although much of contemporary higher education, which involves training young people for occupations which will no longer exist, is sure to fall by the wayside.

TB: Some Americans view peak oil and collapse as another investment opportunity. You already wrote on the fallacies of the faith in money. That leaves a more useful question: what can people do with their savings during or preferably before collapse? What can you buy that is truly useful? I assume the answer vary greatly according to how much money you still have.

DO: This is a very important question. While there is still time, money should be converted to commodity items that will remain useful even after the industrial base disappears. These commodities can be stockpiled in containers and are sure to lose their value more slowly than any paper asset. One example is hand implements for performing manual labor, to provide essential services that are currently performed by mechanized labor. Another is materials that will be needed to bring back essential post-industrial services such as sail-based transportation: materials such as synthetic fibre rope and sail cloth need to be stockpiled beforehand to ease the transition.

TB: You don't mention arable land or housing. Do you think some kind of real property may turn out a valuable post-collapse asset, assuming you can afford them without drowning into debt, or is it too much financial and fiscal liability in our pre-collapse era to be of any use?

DO: The laws and customs that govern real property are not helpful or conducive to the right kind of change. As the age of mechanized agriculture comes to an end, we should expect there to be large tracts of fallow land. It won't matter too much who owns them, on paper, since the owner is unlikely to be able to make productive use of large fields without mechanized labor. Other patterns of occupying the landscape will have to emerge, of necessity, such as small plots tended by families, for subsistence. Absentee landlords (those who hold title to land without actually physically residing on it but using it as a financial asset) are likely to be simply run off once the financial and mechanical amplifiers of their feeble physical energies are no longer available to them. I expect several decades more of fruitless efforts to grow cash crops on increasingly depleted land using increasingly unaffordable and unreliable mechanical and chemical farming techniques. These efforts will increasingly lead to failure due to climate disruption, causing food prices to spike and robbing the population of their savings in a downward spiral. The new patterns of subsisting off the land will take time to emerge, but this process can be accelerated by people who pool resources, buy up, lease, or simply occupy small tracts of land, and practice permaculture techniques. Community gardens, guerilla gardening efforts, planting wild edibles using seed balls, seasonal camps for growing and gathering food, and other humble and low-key arrangements can pave the way towards something bigger, allowing some groups of people to avoid the most dismal scenario.

TB: How can people make preparations for collapse or decline without losing connections with their current social environment, friends, relatives, jobs or customers, and everything around them that still function as usual. That is a question about sanity as much as practicality.

DO: This is perhaps the most difficult question. The level of alienation in developed industrial societies, in Europe, North America and elsewhere, is quite staggering. People are only able to form lasting friendships in school, and are unable to become close with people thereafter with the possible exception of romantic involvements, which are often fleeting. By a certain age people become set in their ways, develop manners specific to their class, and their interactions with others become scripted and limited to socially sanctioned, commercial modes. A far-reaching, fundamental transition, such as the one we are discussing, is impossible without the ability to improvise, to be flexible—in effect, to be able to abandon who you have been and to change who you are in favor of what the moment demands. Paradoxically, it is usually the young and the old, who have nothing to lose, who do the best, and it is the successful, productive people between 30 and 60 who do the worst. It takes a certain detachment from all that is abstract and impersonal, and a personal approach to everyone around you, to navigate the new landscape.


Jeff Z said...

Thank you! So often on peak-oil, peak-resource websites, there's a discussion of what is coming, with very little talk of concrete steps than can be taken to deal with them.

You provide more concrete ideas per page than anyone else, I'd say. This a particularly idea-dense interview.

One additional question I'd ask is 'how large of a city is too large post-peak'? I realize that you may not have an absolute number, but I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.

I blog about my family's attempts to live in a medium-sized city while still growing as much of our food as possible at


forrest said...

One thing about offshore Arctic fuel sources:

The feedback effects of disappearing Arctic sea ice cover-- which open more areas to potential drilling-- seem likely to cause more weather instability, in an area where winter storms have made for truly immense waves just in the known past.

So if we continue to see large & increasing releases of seabed methane, potentially amplifying the warming effects of disappearing ice cover-- these new sources may turn out just too difficult to exploit.

Just guessing, here. Because with an accelerating process, the difference between pussy-cat & loose tiger is a hard one to call. But we do know how methane releases have worked out in the distant past, and it was not good for oxygen-dependent life forms. We may need to hope that this does bring civilization down before we're locked into an exciting journey back to reducing-atmosphere conditions...

Anonymous said...

I run a Community Garden in Central London, the helpers are mostly students from the local university (which I attend too). Most of the people living near the garden are either too busy or too distracted by their modern toys to help. And sadly, many of the local kids barely know what a vegetable is, other than something that comes out of a plastic bag from the freezer (if that). What a great example of an advanced society this is!

I mainly use the garden to learn about growing food, but I don’t have high hopes for the garden itself post-collapse, as I reckon it would soon be pillaged for its tools and produce, when the locals suddenly do take a keen interest in vegetables – ours in particular. And they are welcome to it! I for one will not be defending the garden to the death. I just hope that I will have gained enough skills by then to be useful somewhere.

In the meantime I try to encourage my fellow students to also learn as much as they can, though many of them like to tell me all about sustainable farming and perma-culture, organic this-and-that and all sorts of worthy yaddayaddayadda, but I have yet to see them get their hands dirty and actually do some gardening. There seems to be a kind of social-procrastination developing, where people feel that as long as they are speaking out, signing petitions on the internet, attending protests (with music and jugglers to entertain them), and organising group discussions on skype, they feel they are achieving something. If their talk was fertile I could feed the whole of London!

I for one will stick to growing onions and cabbage, learning along with those others who also want to learn.

Thanks again for your excellent information.

Anonymous said...

Thankyou for covering Europe Dmitri very helpful article.

Shadowfax said...

Your last comments about friends last in school and alienation real struck me.
I look around for like minded individuals and we are few and far between.I walk through "neighbourhoods"which are empty 12 hours a day while the dwellers slave away downtown to pay the 6% property tax!!!!

Lee said...

I was ready for collapse 40 years ago. Had the tools, skills, vigor and right location.

Now I'm too old and busted up and there ain't nobody around that wants to listen to old gits like me.

Marcellina said...

Re: alienation. Connection and community is going to be more important than people realize. I have been reading about Kaliningrad (once Königsberg, a memoir of a Jewish musician who grew up there and lived through the Nazis as well as the Soviets before getting out in the late 1940s. He tells of planting potatoes, only to find them ripped out and eaten by starving people. Everyone steals, even with the risk of being shot. He says several times that if they hadn't stolen (from the Russians, mainly) they would most certainly have starved. So community is going to be necessary for guarding crops and such, and to trust that your neighbors are not going to take from you in desperation.
The "bunker mentality" is not going to make it.

Journal Actif said...

@Tancrède Bastié
J'ai renoncé totalement à parler d'effondrement financier, économique ou autre à mon entourage. C'est devenu non seulement frustrant de le faire, mais aussi, j'ai remarqué que la réalisation que les temps changent pour le pire fait son chemin de toute façon.

Mais, malheureusement, un déni semble se situer dans le "pourquoi" les temps sont plus difficiles pour beaucoup de gens autour de nous. Et là, deux tendances principales semblent se dessiner:
- le blâme de l'autre (la faute du gouvernement, des étrangers, des banquiers véreux, du voisin...)


- le blâme de soi-même ainsi que le sentiment de culpabilité et la dépression qui l'accompagne souvent (je ne suis pas assez bon, j'ai fait les mauvais choix, je n'ai pas su guider mes enfants, j'ai raté ma ma vie...)

Pour finir, avez-vous lu le livre (en français) de Piero San Giorgio, publié cet automne? Si oui, qu'en avez-vous pensé?

Je ne l'ai pas encore commandé. Il me semble être un recueil de tout ce qui a été écrit en anglais sur le sujet du pic pétrolier et d'auteurs comme Dmitry Orlov.

Si vous googlez le nom de cet auteur suisse, vous trouverez deux ou trois entrevues avec cet auteur.

russell1200 said...

In the U.S., I would also add the stay-at-home Moms to the list of people who (if they choose can) become friends.

Some people do make friends at work that last beyond the working relationship. But that is very much dependent on where they work. For myself, I have never found it to be the case.

Most Americans are friendly, but don't make very good friends.

Journal Actif said...

Dmitry Orlov said:
"Absentee landlords (those who hold title to land without actually physically residing on it but using it as a financial asset) are likely to be simply run off once the financial and mechanical amplifiers of their feeble physical energies are no longer available to them."

As a mean to offset the cost of owning land with agricultural zoning, instead of having it idle while waiting for the munis to change zoning so they can sell with a huge profit to developers, absentee landlords (a handful of big corporations) succeed in extracting money out of those "investment/speculation lands" by allowing all sorts of junk to be dumped on them (happening here in Quebec, in Laval area, north of Montreal Island). The result being those agricultural lands are rendered infertile and will requiring years (decades, according to a local farmer) of work to make them fertile again.

Further north of Montreal, but still arable lands blessed with manageable climate for agriculture: Peak oil and the resulting heightened interest of the oil and gas industry for frackling (spell?) is an other immediate and tangible threat to agricultural, arable lands since no agr. is possible if the water is contaminated to begin with. I can only talk of what I know is happening here in Quebec: An ex-prime Minister of the province, no less, was hired to lobby for frackling. If he succeeds in his mission, we're screwed, and that's an understatement.

I know for a fact there's an old car batteries dumping site in the town near us. That town closed down its municipal water facility (contaminated with heavy metals) and "imports" our town's water to its residents. That's a little town with lots of active farmlands that rely on well for water. Would TPTB tell if well water in that area was not safe?

Global warming, methane from melting ice poles, pollution, peak oil, shale gaz reckless extraction, nuclear plants... The whole food supply situation is such that it feels like a perfect storm.

Not only do we have to make sure we cover as much as possible the basics of living, we also need to be very aware and informed about the state of the surroudings we choose to settle in.

Interesting times we live in.

Jeff said...

European history is full of bloody warfare. We will see if the last 70 years of peace is a permanent change or an outlier.

yvesT said...

For me the saddest thing around peak oil is the cover up that has been going on around US peak in 1970/71.
For instance the fact of having managed to label the first oil shock "Arab Embargo" when US peak (US number one world producer at the time) is of course the key event behind this shock, and the embargo never effective from KSA towards the US anyway (see James Akins interview about that and the whole story in "la face cachée du pétrole" for instance, great doc available on youtube and dailymotion, James Akins is the guy that audited US capacity under Nixon at US peak, and that was then US ambassador in Saudi Arabia afterwards, unfortunately no English version of this doc in English to my knowledge, and dubbed interview).
And then also all the "political traction" that has been going on on the IEA, see for instance :

Indeed the result is not only that almost nothing has been done, but that today the majority of Americans still beleive US peak is a myth and prod from 10 millions barrels/day then to 5 millions now only due to environmentalist, and all repub candidates today providing more or less a set of variations around "drill baby drill, we can be energy independent let's go" or even being able to say :
"If we were serious, we would open up enough oil fields in the next year that the price of oil worldwide would collapse. "

For sure had the news on US peak (laready 41 years ago) been provided to US population and world in general, the story would have been different. Now basically so much time in these lies that apparently no way to get out of them ...

And on this I would agree with Dimitry that Europe might be in a bit better position also for not having such big lies to uncover (but also easier when for most European countries they never had any oil to begin with anyway).

Kalki said...

sustainable cities? Grow oyster mushrooms in plastic tubs on food waste, coffee grounds, paper, municipial waste

Sustainable countryside? Industrial hemp, food fuel and fibre. convert to fuel for local use leaving the crude for the cities or transit between.

Too simple isnt it?

Mister Roboto said...

The level of alienation in developed industrial societies, in Europe, North America and elsewhere, is quite staggering. People are only able to form lasting friendships in school, and are unable to become close with people thereafter with the possible exception of romantic involvements, which are often fleeting.

This. I miss having friends, or even kind-of-sort-of friends, more than mere words are able to express.

michigan native said...

I stumbled onto Dmitry's theories and ideas some time in late 2008, when someone posted a link to the 5 stages of collapse from the energy bulletin. So when he says some 70,000 people have checked out the 5 stages on cluborlov, at least that many read it there as well.

If only I had read it a year earlier, better yet, 10 years earlier. Prior to that, I never paid much attention to economics, oil, energy. Although I did think and still think the human race will self destruct and become extinct, I never thought I would see the US collapse, not because I love the US (I detest the government and the powers that run it and the mindless twits that support it), but depressions and third world living conditions were things that happened to other people. The moment I read the 5 stages was the biggest wake up call I have had in life.

I wished there were one link that could access all the interviews, because each one reveals something new and puts the whole thing into focus. There will be a steep and sudden decline, and oil enables the other carbon based energy, coal and natural gas.

I have been thinking about how arrogant and relatively spoiled americans have been since the end of WWII, consuming beyond its means and using the power of the once almighty/soon to collapse dollar. People in the US are totally unprepared for the cliff that lays ahead and it is my belief that it will be hell on earth here as opposed to most other countries.

Try to bring up the subject of peak oil and collapse, and the various defense mechanisms kick into high gear. "Technology will save us". Might have helped if we had heeded Jimmy Carter's warning to consume less and diversify away from foreign oil, but we didn't want to hear that and chose to elect some senile old fool who in my opinion was the worst presidency in history (they all suck, but his was the beginning of the end). Other people insist there is plenty of oil, but it is being witheld from us by this or that group (illuminati, free masons,Rockefellers, Rothchilds, etc)in order to impose some "new world order" (NWO). The NWO folks also insist the US is firing off this HAARP weapon in order to create earthquakes, weather disturbances, and other things that border on paranoia.

Although I wouldn't put anything past our government (it can be proven beyond any shadow of a doubt that they in fact killed JFK, but I will leave 9/11 alone), I think some of these folks are 2 napkins short of a picnic. If power seems to be concentrating into the hands of a few, it is the inevitable iron law of oligrachy that is causing it, and not some vast conspiracy

Then perhaps the most helpless are these people who barely have a pot to piss in who insist that none of this will happen because it's not written in their Bible or their Saviour would never allow this to happen to the US, etc.

The denial is impossible to break through here so the US will fare far worse than europe or other countries when we reach that cliff that lays ahead. Not to say we didn't deserve it.

With Dmitry's insights, at least some of you can prepare and try to fashion some kind of life boat, because the ship is going down and those who did not prepare will drown like rats