Thursday, May 31, 2018
Tuesday, May 29, 2018
Friedrich Schiller’s Ode to Joy, popularized by its use in Ludvig van Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, contains the line “Seid umschlungen, Millionen!” Conventionally, it is translated into English as “You millions, I embrace you.” But I beg to differ with this interpretation; there is no “I” (“ich”) in the German and the phrase is in passive voice: “be embraced,” not “I embrace.” Be embraced by whom, then? By Schiller? Well, theoretically, yes; at around one minute per hug and working the typical 40-hour work week, it would take Schiller about a decade just to get through the first million. But it seems highly doubtful that this is what old Friedrich was suggesting. It seems quite obvious to me that what me meant was “Embrace each other, you millions!”
I am unsure of the efficacy of odes in persuading people to embrace, but I do have a single data point which indicates that dropping one’s pants can be quite efficacious. And now I appear to have found another.
Thursday, May 24, 2018
Or take another example...
Tuesday, May 22, 2018
The problem with going to Russia to live is that there are only a couple of ways to do so legally, and they are all rather complicated and involved, with lots of bureaucratic hoops to jump through. I am not a legal expert, and I am providing this information on an as-is basis with no guarantees. Don't attempt any of this before consulting with someone who is an expert in these matters.
Thursday, May 17, 2018
If you aren’t familiar with this talk, perhaps you should take a look at it first. Here, I will summarize it very briefly. After exploring all of the many symmetries between the USSR and the USA, I showed how the USSR was inadvertently much better prepared for collapse because of how daily life was structured there. Housing was government-provided, and mass unemployment did not result in homelessness. Transportation was public and cheap. Employment was also in the public sector, untethered from the profit motive and not prone to instant bankruptcy. Families were close-knit by virtue of necessity and family members were on hand to help each other during hard times. Money was of token value and being broke was rarely life-threatening. Food came from government stockpiles and kitchen gardens rather than the supermarket. Medicine and education were public and free. Energy did not come from imports.
My conclusion was that the Soviet Union was much better prepared for economic collapse than the United States is. I then explored various approaches that might be used to close this “collapse gap.” None of the alternatives was very good. Twelve years later, I see that I was right: the USA is much closer to collapse than it was then (we will only know how close in retrospect) and nothing has been done to reduce the vulnerabilities outlined above.
However, a lot has been done to reduce their impact, or at least to make that impact less noticeable. In my 2013 book The Five Stages of Collapse, I teased collapse into five stages: financial, commercial, political, social and cultural. It was my understanding that collapse would generally proceed in a canonical cascade, starting with the most fragile (financial) and ending with the most durable (culture). Society and culture did not collapse in the USSR. Instead, people dug in their heels and after a very difficult period most parts of the USSR (the Ukraine is the one stark exception) managed to resurrect a political system, an economy and a financial sector. But what if society and culture collapsed first?
That is what I see happening in the USA and, to various extents, in different parts of the European Union: an attempt to undermine and destroy cohesive society and common culture ahead of the coming financial, commercial and political collapse. It may seem like an odd thing to strive for, but consider this: if society and culture are destroyed ahead of time, then when collapse comes there is no intact community of humans left to observe it and understand what is happening. With everyone’s reasoning abilities sufficiently hampered, it will be trivial to diffuse blame when the rest of the collapse sequence occurs, to get the people to blame themselves or to scapegoat each other, or to simply ignore it because most of the people have bigger problems than collapse, be it their dysfunctional families, their various addictions, their religious zealotry or their extremist politics.
The approaches taken to destroying society and culture may seem disparate and lack a unity of purpose… until you understand that their purpose is to destroy society and culture. In education, the emphasis of training to take standardized tests squeezing out any real learning, supposedly motivated by the desire to be inclusive of disadvantaged, intellectually challenged minorities, creates cohort after cohort of young people no longer capable of independent, rational thought.
• In politics, real concerns are replaced with fake ones, centered on bogeymen like “Russian aggression” or “Russian meddling,” reinforced endlessly through repetition without any actual evidence ever being shown, until taking reasoned, motivated political positions becomes impossible.
• In social policy, the substitution of gender for sex, supposedly to fight discrimination but in fact denying biological imperatives, denatures human nature to the point where people become minimally useful to each other.
• In immigration policy, the inclusion of a large population of migrants from incompatible cultures creates a sort of ethnic strife that cannot speak its name: pointing out that migrants from Islamic countries are responsible for a very large proportion of crime is considered politically incorrect and in Sweden has even been made illegal.
• In international relations, we have witnessed a concerted effort to destroy national sovereignty and to render national boundaries meaningless, rendering once proud nations into groups of migrants who speak broken English.
• In economics, every effort is being made to dismantle and suppress the power of organized labor, to open up the labor market to economic migrants, and to suppress local businesses in favor of transnational corporations.
To survive collapse, it is essential to surround yourself with people who are like you, with whom you can find common purpose, whose character you can immediately assess and whom you can trust. Without it, you are thrust into a dangerous environment—a war of all against all. But this war of all against all creates excellent cover for those in positions of leadership and authority who could have done something to mitigate the worst effects of the coming collapse, but have done nothing. Well, not quite; they have done something. They have gone out of their way to destroy society and culture.
It is important to note that participation in the cultural collapse juggernaut is by no means universal. Even in Europe some members, such as Hungary and Poland, are starting to push back against it, to say nothing of very large players such as China, Russia and Iran, who have managed to buck many of these trends. These differences will probably be useful in predicting which countries will survive collapse, and which won’t.
Tuesday, May 15, 2018
Friday, May 11, 2018
It is very important to note that these frozen Iranian assets are US dollar-denominated. And what would be the first thing that the Iranians would do upon regaining control of them? Why, of course, they would convert them out of US dollars. This is a requirement written into Iranian law: no US dollars allowed, and nobody in Iran has the power to change that even if they wanted to. According to the Iranians, US officials have pleaded with the Iranians not to liquidate their dollar-denominated assets, but that the Iranians told them that nobody has the authority to change this law.
Tuesday, May 08, 2018
Periodically publishing a paper book of essays used to be a good plan: Amazon’s royalties for self-published books used to be around 70% of the sale price. But now Amazon has decided to keep 70% for itself while number of people in the English-speaking world who read books on serious topics is continuing to shrink. Selling reasonably priced books now nets me only half as much as publishing a weekly essay on Patreon.com for subscribers only. Perhaps it is time for Club Orlov Press to diversify away from books and toward other pressable things such as cider or sunflower oil...
Friday, May 04, 2018
Wednesday, May 02, 2018
Tuesday, May 01, 2018
Over the course of the Cold War, the two superpowers – USA and USSR – built up an inventory of unresolved conflicts, which they, by tacit agreement, placed in deep freeze for the duration of their combined existence. In some cases, ethnically homogeneous entities were split up along artificial political boundaries, while in other cases disparate ethnic groups were held together by force within a single artificial political boundary. Once the USSR collapsed, the multi-ethnic entities – Georgia, Moldova and Czechoslovakia – did their best to break apart, while the partitioned ones did their best to try to reunify. While some of these frozen conflicts—most notably Germany—needed both superpowers to remain refrigerated, one particular example—Korea—remained well-preserved even after the the collapse of the USSR, with the North providing its own, self-sufficient source of refrigeration.