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.

Q: Obviously, the events of the last few months in the US, I think I’ve heard the idea of collapse, or the idea of a failed state, enter more and more into people’s consciousness, but when you look at the US now and especially the racial, ethnic tensions we’ve seen during the last few months – does this look to you like a society that’s in a fairly advanced stage of collapse now, or do you think that the US empire can still keep on traveling for a few years to come yet?

A: It’s very hard to predict what the timing of this would be. As far as race tensions in the US, this is nothing new. The worst race riot of all time happened about a hundred years ago; people are forgetting that. Entire sections of towns were completely burnt out, large numbers of people made homeless. That was a very large race riot. There were race riots after that in various places, in Chicago and Los Angeles and elsewhere. This is more or less a repetitive process. Right now lots of people are saying that ‘black lives matter.” It’s a slogan, and if you look at history – and this is not a judgment on my part; this is an observation – black lives seem to matter every 20 or 30 years.

The blacks in the United States are political pawns. They’re basically manipulated by the Democratic establishment, and they are periodically unleashed on the public. They’re kept at boiling point by a number of policies that destroy black families, that imprison black men, that basically deprive black kids of any meaningful education. All of this makes them useful as pawns. They’re basically going to start rebelling and looting and causing mayhem whenever somebody pulls the trigger within the Democratic establishment and that’s what’s happening this year. The pawns have been deployed in order to unseat Donald Trump because the Democrats are so desperate. They’re incredibly desperate: this is their final gasp. They have a candidate who is absolutely senile, who can’t string a sentence together. And so this is a sign of desperation. I don’t think it immediately translates into the United States collapsing; I think that has to do with much longer term trends that have been in the works for generations and that are at this point unstoppable – not that they’ve ever been stoppable; I’ve never claimed that they were. But at this point most thoughtful commentators and analysts would say that these processes will simply run their course.

Q: Would you say that the source of collapse is primarily financial?

A: Well, I wrote about this quite a bit. I wrote a book, The Five Stages of Collapse, where I teased collapse as a process into stages: financial, commercial, political, social and cultural, showing examples of societies, doing case studies of societies that pass through or were able to arrest collapse at each one of these stages.

The sequence makes sense, because the finance basically has to do with promises people make to each other. These promises have to be backed up by a realistic notion of what can be achieved in terms, for instance, of debt repayment. The function of finance is to finance productive activity, and [if] finance decides that there is [to be] no financing because debts would not be repaid, then that curtails commercial activity. Factories don’t get built; products don’t get shipped, etc., which causes the physical economy of goods and services to shrink, causing tax revenues to plummet, and that hamstrings government which can no longer spend the way they are accustomed to spending. And that leads to political paralysis and collapse, and once the political realm dissolves then social institutions come under stress and often fail because at that point the government can’t provide for the people, so it’s a question of charitable groups and things like religious organizations that are not up to the task usually.

And then the final bastion is the family. Often that fails as well because of stress. Families dissolve and culture crumbles. The final stage of cultural collapse is where people stop looking like people, stop resembling people: they become more like animals. And that’s the final stage of collapse, after which you don’t really have anything you could call humanity any more. You just basically have these semi-feral humans running around. I’ve even done one case study of a society that reached that point, where esteemed scholars, anthropologists – one anthropologist in particular – decided that such societies should be completely disbanded: the individuals have no business being together. They have to be broken apart, split apart, because at that point what culture remains is pathological.

Now the United States, it turns out, is following this collapse sequence backwards. This is a realization that I had quite recently: [the US] started with cultural collapse.

Basically, the process that has been unfolding in the United States since the late 50s and throughout the 60s has dismembered extended families, and then later on destroyed nuclear families as well, so that out of wedlock births are now quite dominant and the number of children, especially in black families, who grow up fatherless is staggeringly huge. That basically indicates that the culture has failed. There is no longer a real human culture; there’s just a commercial culture of consumerism. Consumers, who pay attention to prosumers and influencers and media. The only function they have is deciding what to consume until the money runs out, at which point they’re just basically cut loose – completely cut loose, cut adrift.

Society doesn’t really have any viable functions any more. In some places the church is still dominant and plays a large role, but that is really the only strong social function that exists.

[Regarding] government, we can see huge dysfunction in the political sphere. Basically, the entire country is splitting up into red and blue zones which are more or less at war with each other already, although it’s not a shooting war in a lot of places yet, but it could very well evolve into one.

Commerce has devolved to a point where the United States is not self-sufficient in most manufactured products, and most of what it produces is ephemera like software and media, and maybe some pharmaceuticals that are incredibly over-priced; and a lot of agricultural products. So it’s basically like a plantation economy as far as the world is concerned. It no longer has a viable industrial sector.

And then financially it’s basically a black hole, because what it does is it prints money. It lends it out mostly to insiders. There’s no expectation that these debts that are generated will ever be repaid, and eventually these debts are converted into weird zombie financial instruments that sit on the books of weird zombie companies that are forever kept out of bankruptcy by printing money again and lending it out. So there’s no pretense any more that finance has anything to do with actually estimating risk and deciding when to lend based on the projected ability to repay, because it’s not expected that anybody at any level will ever repay anything.

So it’s just the printing press running loose, and the entire economy of the United States now depends on that printing press. The moment it turns out that printing one more dollar doesn’t produce any value at all but actually produces negative value to the economy it’s pretty much over, the whole game is over.

When that will happen is very difficult to time but it’s going to be an event; it’s not going to be a process. One day people will wake up and realize that the Federal Reserve printing another hundred trillion dollars is not going to move the economy forward one inch, and it is at that point that the whole thing will be declared over.

So that’s what I’m seeing happening now.

Q: That’s interesting that you think the final stage has already happened because it would suggest…I mean, you’ve observed the collapse of the Soviet Union, but it seems like as bad as that was, at least there was still a family unit underneath. There was a homogenous society and so it didn’t take a lot to transition into a kind of coherent Russian state. But then if you look at the US, and the fact that there is cultural collapse, and all of these tensions among classes, among races…in a very multi-ethnic society.

I guess the question is then, if the US is faced with that kind of collapse, is there any reason to believe that the United States as an entity would even survive that in terms of its territorial integrity. In other words, would you be looking at balkanization and the collapse of the US as a country?

A: There’s no reason to believe that the United States will continue to exist once the states are no longer united. Given the politics of today, again, the separation into the red and blue zones which are hostile to each other on every level, it’s really hard to say that the United States are united. Again: they’re united by the Federal Reserve’s printing press. Once the US dollar fails there’s nothing to hold the states together, and there’s nothing to hold each individual state together. There’s no reason to continue having this system which basically redistributes printed money – printed basically out of nothing – and so there is no reason to think that this political entity will abide.

Now, on the ethnic level, there are still large areas – mostly rural at this point – where the older sort of stratum of Anglo-German society holds together, and so it may be that there are large swaths of land patrolled by heavily armed locals that are still relatively safe and relatively productive. The question is will they be able to actually survive without access to the coasts and to the ports, because the United States no longer produces the spare parts it needs to keep plant and equipment running. All of that stuff is imported now, mostly from China, and so there’s no reason to expect that the United States will be able to re-industrialize under these conditions because the [country lacks the] core competencies needed to re-industrialize. The engineers no longer exist; they all went to law and finance a long time ago, and other professions that basically have to do with people swindling each other, so there’s no reason to expect that sort of a rebirth.

As far as the cities [are concerned], it’s really unclear what function they serve. The coronavirus shutdowns have proven that cities at this point don’t serve any vital function at all. They could just be disbanded. They could be abandoned. So it’s really hard to see what new cohesive thing could emerge from this process.

Q: Another question that’s raised then in the wake of a potential collapse of the US is that the US is a global hegemon at present. The end of this order would be the end of the order that we have had since the end of the Second World War. So the question is, what springs up in that vacuum of power? Could you envision a kind of multipolar world, lacking one hegemon, or do you think that China or Russia – or China and Russia combined – will just immediately fill that vacuum?

A: I don’t think that Russia and China are particularly interested in that. The mode in which Russia operates is building regional organizations with its Eurasian partners. It’s not so much multilateralism as bilateralism. They’re basically one-to-one deals with various countries. They are also frameworks that take time to take hold. There’s a strong relationship with China – with Russia and China – but definitely I don’t think anybody wants to step in and do what the United States has been pretending to do, which is in effect bankrupting itself by ineffectual military spending.

The fact that the United States has troops stationed all over the place, and the fact that it outspends everyone in dollar terms is neither here nor there: it just doesn’t mean anything because [the US] is not really capable of it any more. Look what happened when the Iranians responded to the murder of one of their generals by the Americans by just blasting rockets at a couple of military bases in Iraq: nothing. There was no response. The Americans just took it.

That’s been the pattern that’s been established for a long time. The Americans get into harm’s way but then they don’t do anything. They haven’t had a military success pretty much forever. The entire military establishment in the US is basically a money sponge: it’s very expensive but it’s not very good. Their planes don’t fly very well and there are a lot of issues with just about every part of it. The objective is not to defend the nation, because nobody is attacking the nation. The objective is to basically absorb as much money as possible and distribute it amongst a small group of insiders.

So if you look at defense spending parity between, say, Russia and the United States, Russia gets ten times more for each dollar spent than the United States, so the Russian military has been growing stronger and Russia has been cutting its defense spending the entire time, while the United States has been growing weaker and keeps increasing its military spending. Those trends are unmistakable. So the idea that the US is still a global hegemon based on its military prowess is, I think, entirely misguided.

I think the only thing that keeps the United States in the news around the world at this point is the Federal Reserve printing press and the US dollar. That’s it. Nothing else.

Q: There was another story leaked yesterday of supposed Russian interference. This time it was in the UK, where the UK Foreign Secretary said that the UK has strong reason to believe that Russia leaked documents in the run-up to the last election to try and help the Labour Party.

I’m just curious because this Russiagate thing is just becoming a trope now. It’s used again and again for anything the establishment is opposed to in the West. Even Tulsi Gabbard was accused of being a Russian agent. It’s just thrown around now; it means nothing.

But I’m curious as to what the perception is [inside] Russia, of all the hostility that’s suddenly directed towards them from the West, and more generally, the perception by Russians of the liberal West and many of the problems that we’re facing in the West now.

A: Well, on the one hand the news coverage in Russia that one sees, the news coverage of the West, of what’s going on in the UK and in the United States, is very moderate. It’s factual; it’s moderate; it’s not tendentious as far as my appraisal of it [is concerned]. But it’s ghastly. I mean, Russians look at this and think Oh my god, why did we ever think that these people were worth paying attention to? Why did we ever think that they matter?

So there’s that understanding. As far as accusations randomly lobbed in the general direction of Russia for this and that, most people in Russia now know what “highly likely” means in English. People throw that around. The word “fake” has penetrated the Russian language, specifically in reference to most things coming from the West. “Fake news” is thrown around a lot. In general, it’s basically Comedy Hour material at this point. There’s nothing serious about it. It’s even difficult to continue the conversation about it because people are just so sick of it. “Oh yeah…fake news…highly likely…blah blah blah. Whatever.”

Below that, if you scratch the surface, the Russians are convinced that truth is on their side, and truth makes them invincible. They’re absolutely convinced of that. The other side is just lying, so it doesn’t matter what they say. We know they’re lying. They’re liars. And if they’re not lying, then the question becomes, when did they stop lying and why? What caused that conversion on the road to Damascus, that epiphany? Because we didn’t notice one.

Q: It’s quite interesting. You’ve also written a book called Shrinking The Technosphere which builds on a lot of ideas of Jacques Ellul, a similar analysis of technology as this sort of demiurge, or force of control. I think the way you describe it is as an ‘emergent force.’ I’m kind of curious: I’ve seen that Russia itself is investing a lot of resources into crypto-technology and into being prepared for the world’s moving towards crypto from fiat currency. I’m just curious as to how much you think that could change paradigms in terms of talking about a more multipolar world, a more decentralized system with more anonymity, [making it ] more difficult for central governments to trace financial transactions and control people by financial means? Just how significant do you think the innovations in crypto will be?

A: Crypto is just basically a bit of software. Bitcoin is phenomenally idiotic because it’s a horrendous waste of energy. It is just the stupidest invention in the world based on its energy requirements. The anonymity it grants is mostly used for all kinds of parasitism and swindles and theft of various kinds, extortion schemes. There’s nothing good about that, but you know, Blockchain is just an algorithm that has applications – some rather good applications - in some areas. In some areas such as finance, perhaps not.

Now as far as what is going on in Russia [is concerned] a lot of effort is being expended in streamlining electronic (internet) systems, to eliminate bureaucracy. Traditionally, Russia has been very paper-heavy, lots and lots of pieces of paper with stamps and signatures needed for every last thing. That’s being done away with in a great hurry. So now it’s possible to carry out any kind of project with just a cell phone or an iPad or something like that. Everything is shifting to a model where it’s all done via websites and internet servers, so that’s a very positive development.

Russia just changed its tax policy such that it has perhaps the most forgiving tax regime for IT companies anywhere in the world, and given the fact that it already has a lot of the best talent in IT, it is probably going to become a major hub for international software development. It’ll probably take a way some of the thunder from places like Ireland that have been in the lead in this category. And so that’s a positive development for Russia.

Q: Just as that ties into your work on collapse, the reliance that we have on technological systems for so much now, does that add to, or is it a compounding factor in how devastating the collapse of a modern society would be now? If these technological systems start to go down, would it have a compound effect in terms of collapse?

A: Well, yes. The elimination of fallback strategies is generally a very dangerous thing. So if you look at Russia, for instance, and Russia’s decision to go all-in on these modernized infrastructure systems, it starts with base technologies such as oil, gas, coal and nuclear, which generate the energy. The mining and manufacturing processes that provide for self-sufficiency in all of the critical pieces of infrastructure either directly or through trusted partners such as China. And it goes from there. They built up an electric grid which is self-sufficient and which uses parts manufactured within Russia. They’re starting to move in the direction of providing their own operating systems. There is one that is an Android replacement, Linux-based, that’s been in the works. They may share that project, or may be in the process of sharing that project with China because of all the madness surrounding Huawei sanctions. So that’s built from the ground up.

Now if you look at the United States, the United States produced a lot of relatively low-grade, useless light oil through fracking, but that has fallen apart. Nobody is financing all of that any more and it’s an overall waste of money and resources. There aren’t really any fallbacks.

And then there’s the environmentalist lobby which is eliminating pipelines and shutting down financing for energy projects unless they’re quote-unquote ‘green’ projects that use wind and solar. The problem with wind and solar is that the energy production from them is ragged; it’s unpredictable; it has nothing to do with demand. It has to do with the supply of wind and sunlight, and there’s no storage mechanism for storing large amounts of electricity that is anywhere near affordable, or that can be built up within the required timeframe.

So green technologies are an evolutionary dead end, at least at that scale, and so there is no plan. So for now everybody is running around depending on the internet being available all the time, but the foundation of it is the electric grid which hasn’t been upgraded in a long time in the United States. It depends on a large number of nuclear power plants, about 100 of which are quickly aging out. The competence, or the desire, to build new ones is missing, and the United States lacks the capacity, or the ability, to enrich uranium. They’ve delegated that to the Europeans, to the French, and to Russia. So twenty five percent of the light bulbs that are lit up in the United States historically has been thanks to MOX fuel, nuclear fuel, shipped to the United States from Russia. So if you look at all those dependencies and what that means, well, yes: that’s incredibly precarious. That sort of technology dependence is really bad for a nation that could at best, moving forward, be a heavily armed agrarian nation of little agrarian fiefdoms. So that’s not a positive, moving forward.

Q: You have written on peak oil. There was obviously…making the news recently was the Michael Moore documentary Planet of the Humans that put this issue into people’s consciousness, about the lack of effectiveness of green technologies that we’ve put all our faith in, and you’ve spoken to that. But the question is, what is the alternative, then, if we’re reaching peak oil and our energy requirements can’t be met, will it just be necessary for scaling-back of our consumption? You mentioned nuclear power. Is nuclear power a potential solution in the long run, or have we missed the boat on that one?

A: The only two countries that have the capacity to develop nuclear at anything like the speed needed are Russia and China.

The only country that actually has a shot at making nuclear energy generation safe in the long run is Russia because it’s pretty far along working on the closed nuclear cycle which will not produce high-level nuclear waste. It’ll burn all of it up. Everybody else has given up on that strategy. Russia is the only one, and so the others will at best have to wait their turn because the way Russia deals with nuclear installations around the world is [that] it basically builds the nuclear power plant. It trains locals to operate it. It signs contracts for all of the nuclear fuel for the entire life of the nuclear power plant or installation, which at this point could be over 100 years because they’ve learned to recycle nuclear installations.

Not every country in the world, certainly not anywhere in Europe or the United States, is willing to go along with that deal. Other countries such as Turkey, for instance, or Iran, or Egypt, are more than happy to enter into such a long-term agreement, but basically what that means is there is an umbilical cord from your country to Russia forever. So countries that cultivate an adversarial stance towards Russia do not stand a chance of getting such a contract signed, at least for the foreseeable future.

Q: That’s quite interesting. Would you say that in the coming century…when you think about some of these things, for example the collapse of the US as a hegemon and the kind of regionalism that Russia is cultivating, are we looking at the end of globalization as a process, the end of globalism in this century?

A: Well, I think so. I think what we’re seeing is the last dying echo of Western colonialism – because that’s really the model that’s been driving the whole thing. It’s the last dying gasp of the plantation economy, where you have old money hiring completely block-headed, interchangeable MBAs to manage projects around the world. It doesn’t matter where in the world they are. Paying military types to basically keep tabs on the local politicians to make sure that they don’t get too uppity and try to grab too much power for themselves. And that’s going to die. It’s been dying for a long time: it’s been dying back. This last surge of globalization which shipped factories from the West to other places in the world which had cheap energy and labor and low regulatory costs – that has run its course.

And so I think what the future holds is different countries going in different directions. Some developing and others un-developing, and some remaining pretty much as they are. I don’t expect any of this to very dramatically affect what’s happening in rural Cambodia or Laos, for instance, but other countries – Canada, for instance – might be very dramatically affected. It depends on where in the world they are, but there’s no globe: it only looks that way from outer space, from Earth orbit. But from the ground, on the ground, it doesn’t look like a globe; it looks like a patch of ground that is visible from you, encompassed by the horizon, which is about 15 nautical miles.

Q: For someone listening to this, [someone who] shares your pessimism in terms of where the West is going, I guess the question is what should someone that acknowledges that reality be doing in terms of is there a way to prepare best for what’s coming? Is there a best way to wean yourself off the elements of the system that will probably suffer the worst fate?

A: Well, people get by pretty well provided they can make themselves useful to each other. Not within some scheme where you go on some job board and look for an employer because those [jobs] will be pretty thin on the ground, I expect. But what you can do yourself for your immediate neighbors, for people you can make contact with. And a lot of those skills are pretty basic.

So in the more promising places in the world - promising from the point of view of surviving what’s coming – people cultivate these habits, so for instance there’s no conceivable reason that in Russia right now I should be growing potatoes…except I am, and so are most other people. It’s one of those things that you never want to stop being able to do, like there’s no question that you will abandon your ability to grow potatoes even though I could drive to the supermarket and buy all the potatoes I could ever want, and more, for not very much money. It’s not about that. Similarly, people know how to build log cabins; people know how to put stoves together out of brick. You know, there’s a myriad things like that that people know how to do. They will keep old cars running because they can be repaired using hand tools without hooking them up to a computer. There are lots and lots of adaptations like that that people around the world cultivate in order to prepare for hard times because they know from their experience that the hard times are coming. They know that. It’s not a question of whether, it’s a question of when. Nobody knows when, and so the time to practice is now.

Now there are people in the West who think that the gravy train they’ve been on will go on forever, and that’s not a fact, that’s not true. So there are a lot of humble occupations that people could start learning for, in order to make themselves useful when the time comes.

Q: What tends to happen…people’s beliefs in a time of collapse… I remember reading John Michael Greer predicting that the Baby Boomers in the US would start suicide cults at the late stage of collapse, and definitely some of the movements we’re seeing in the West today – BLM [for instance] – seem to resemble religious cults in their orientation. But I’m curious: for a society that’s really bought into the religion of progress and faith and optimism, what starts to happen when things turn sour? Will we see a new religiousness, and if so, what would that look like?

A: In some places there will be a new religiousness. Different populations are more or less susceptible to entering into cults. There was a lot of penetration of various cults into Russia around the time of the Soviet collapse in the 90s, and there was quite a period of time when the authorities had to rush around and put out these fires, and eliminate some of the nastier cults. Some of them are still around. It’s a nasty problem to have to deal with. And so, yes, hopelessness breeds that sort of wishful thinking, and people who show up and sell you some sort of a dream, no matter how preposterous, fill that vacuum of hope. So we can expect plenty of that.

Q: But Russia itself seems to have rebounded very well, and quite rapidly, after the collapse of the Soviet Union. It’s quite something to see the level of religiousness, and how quickly it turned from an atheist society to really one of the only traditional Christian societies in the world.

Do you think in terms, again, of just looking at the West’s trajectory, it is inevitable that there would be a return to traditional society? In other words, when you lose the power of the centralized state is it a necessary process that the more organic orders like religiosity and ethnic communities spring up in that vacuum?

A: I wouldn’t exaggerate that because there are things that only work in Russia. Russian things tend to only work in Russia; Chinese things tend to only work in China, and it’s useless to try to copy them because, for instance, the incredible wealth of Orthodox Christian tradition that Russia never lost is what provided for this revival. It’s not something that was done from scratch. It basically had to do with a living tradition that was never extinguished, coming into its own again, and therefore it happened more or less automatically, and perhaps even effortlessly. I wouldn’t say that anything like that couldn’t possibly happen in any of the Catholic countries or any of the Protestant countries; it’s just not something organic to those countries.

Q: Just another question related to what comes after all of this, what comes after progress. In terms of population growth we’re on a fairly steep curve. I think the projection for the end of the century is something like 11 billion. Without peak oil, and without the huge surplus of energy we’ve been given - I think 97 percent of agriculture production in the US is from fossil fuels – would we be expecting a sharp decrease in that? I mean, presumably if there was a collapse of industrial civilization there’s a huge surplus population of young people growing in Africa; I think Nigeria’s population is scheduled to outpace the US by the middle of this century. Would we potentially be looking at near-devastating effects in terms of famine, in terms of population die-offs?

A: Well, I think there’ll be die-offs. I think for long periods of time in various parts of the world the death rate will exceed the birth rate, which is all it takes. That’s another exponential that societies tend to follow: they expand exponentially, then they contract exponentially.

In terms of looking at over-population overall, how is Nigeria relevant to Russia or Canada? Is it [relevant] at all? Are Russia and Canada overpopulated? Are they in any danger of being overpopulated? As far as hunger [is concerned], is there enough land, if tilled by hand, to feed let’s say ten times the Russian population? Well, yes. Where I’m sitting right now, I have my field; the neighbors have their fields, and around that we have tall grass that nobody even cuts for hay because there isn’t really the need. It’s fallow. So if this village where I am were to expand by a factor of 10, we would still have a lot of fallow land. And that’s not even touching the forest, which is huge. So I don’t think Russia has an overpopulation problem. Russia has an under-population problem.

You could make the point that, well…Russia’s okay, but then what about Bangladesh? Bangladesh has the same population as the entire Russian Federation and it is smaller than one of the smaller Russian regions, of which there are something over seventy. So what about Bangladesh? The answer is, well, Bangladesh isn’t Russia, is it, so what’s the topic of conversation? It’s pointless to talk about global population, absolutely pointless, because again, you’re considering a fictional entity called ‘the globe’, whereas where you’re sitting can observe a tiny fraction of it and you will never meet any of those people. You will probably never travel outside of a few countries that are safe to visit. So it’s pointless to talk about.

Q: Right. And in terms of discourse I guess this is where the global element comes into it, especially in recent years. A lot of people talk about it and often tie this into collapse, a global sort of ecological collapse tied into global warming that will eventually reach a precipice and potentially destroy the Anthropocene. Obviously you don’t take those kinds of projections very seriously, do you?

A: Well, those projections are based on models that… the more I’ve looked into it, the more I became convinced that it’s all just – not to put too fine a point on it – bullshit. It’s political bullshit. There’s no real credible science behind any of it. It’s all just an effort to eke out some kind of economic advantage.

Q: That’s quite interesting. Is that a popular belief in Russia, or is it quite a dissident belief there as well?

A: Well, in Russia there isn’t any mechanism for making everybody believe some outlandish thing like there is in the West. People tend to listen to you and say yeah, you sound like you know what you’re talking about, but do you? And so they look at weather trends and listen to a lot of scientists. Russian scientists are also an unruly bunch. There isn’t this kind of Western groupthink where either you believe in global warming and cataclysmic climate change or you are shit out of luck and you’ve just been fired. There isn’t that.

So that for instance there are Russian scientists who are puzzled by the fact that the global ocean has been warming. That’s been going on for a few decades now, and it’s been warming all the way through, starting from the bottom, great depths. And it turns out that the entire planet is warming up a little bit. There’s something similar to a nuclear reactor; it is [poorly understood], but it’s hiding deep in the molten magma of the earth’s core and it seems to have kicked up a notch. Now it probably fluctuates, goes up and down, but that may explain a bit of the warming. And then on the other hand it counteracts a tendency which is that the sun is approaching a major solar minimum, which would actually make the earth cooler. And because the ocean is warming a lot more CO2 is percolating from the ocean waters – massively more than any industrial activity could produce; just orders of magnitude higher. So that may have something to do with the greenhouse effect kicking up a little bit, but as far as cataclysms [are concerned] I think the biggest risk we run is the onset of the next ice age because we’re overdue for one. And there are plenty of scientists who believe that.

Q: It’s quite interesting. We’re coming up to an hour, so I’ll just finish with this. A lot of work has been done in terms of forecasts and political trends. I’m not familiar with the work of Peter Turchin but he predicts that the 2020s would be the most polarized decade in a century. We’ve seen things this year that might have been unimaginable just a couple of years ago. So I’m curious: from your perspective, looking ahead for the next decade, what do you think we should expect to see in the next ten years? Will this be the start of the kind of collapse you’re talking about and what can we expect to see in terms of social and political ramifications?

A: Well, I predicted that the United States would collapse in the foreseeable future. Sometime around 1996 I realized that that was going to happen [but] I kept quiet about it for quite a while and then early this century I started thinking about publishing about it, and actually started doing it now, 20 years into the new century.

This notion that the United States is going to collapse is not the least bit outlandish. A lot of people are saying the same thing. So to that extent, I am vindicated and I expect that I will be fully vindicated while I’m still alive, definitely. In fact I’m planning to move on to doing something else with my time once the United States does collapse because the subject matter will be effectively tapped out as far as I’m concerned.

Q: All right. It’s been a fascinating interview. If you’d just like to finish off by promoting your work, where people can find your website, anything like that. Please go ahead.

A: Yes, it’s the main website, off which everything branches out is And I publish for subscribers only on SubscribeStar and Patreon. I publish a couple of articles every month. [I have a] pretty large readership so I welcome people to join me.

Q: All right. That’s excellent. I recommend your books as well. They’re fantastic reading and I definitely think those kinds of topics are becoming increasingly relevant, and people are looking for relevant materials.

It was great to have you on, and again I thank you for joining me. Thank you very much.