Sunday, August 17, 2008

US compared to Soviet Union collapse

Letter to and response from Joe Bageant

Greetings Joe,

In reading over the recent letter "Could US regions become semi-autonomous?" and your comments in reply, I was reminded of an essay I saw online a couple of years ago. It was written by a Russian emigre and compared the collapse of the Soviet Union, as he witnessed it, with the coming collapse of the USA, as he anticipated it might happen. It's a thoughtful and intriguing piece and if you don't already know it, I think you'd find it worthwhile to take a look.

The fella's name is Dmitry Orlov. You mentioned Orlov in reply to a reader's letter in March of '07, but there's no way to know from that fleeting reference whether or not you are familiar with his collapse-postcollapse comparison.

Here is one place where his thesis is propounded in the form of a transcript of a public lecture, "Closing the 'Collapse Gap': the USSR was better prepared for collapse than the US".

Solidarity forever,




Thank you so much for this presentation by Dmitry Orlov. I've only read a smattering of Orlov, mainly due to lack of time, and never read this particular piece. Seldom do we see such a common sense breakout of the elements involved. But then again, Orlov is not an academic or a politician, just an erudite man with common sense. Russians seem to be, if anything, pragmatic. But then, they've been through so much that we have not.

Orlov's points can be taken collectively or individually, whole or in part, and still make complete sense. And they culminate in some common sense measures we can take to minimize our personal misery in the face of what is coming. In fact, most of them are good advice under any circumstances. At the present, people taking those precautions are considered kooks by the mainstream. Frankly though, being considered a kook or alarmist has come to be an indicator of a "must read" for me, denial or obliviousness being what it is in this country.

All of what Orlov outlines may happen, or maybe only part. It may happen rapidly or in slow motion. But we cannot argue that some of it already has, mostly in the face of public ignorance of how government and the world works politically and ecologically. For instance, the massive misuse and misappropriation of government and public resources toward corporate and other interests (privatization of prisons, the Iraq War's big boon to Halliburton and dozens of others like it, the selling of the highway system, the privatization of public education, etc.) a paralyzed Congress and so on.

This morning I was somewhat fuming to my poor wife over NPR's coverage of the Georgia/Russia conflict. There was no mention of oil, or the itch of both the Russian and U.S. leadership to reestablish the Cold War in some fashion -- the U.S. for military industrial profit reasons, the Russians for prestige, economic and other reasons. Both sides understood making cold war, neither understands peaceful cooperation.

Whatever the case, I was telling my wife that all the bluster, patriotism and shallow, monotonic news coverage covers up one simple driver of most so-called "political events" -- wealth and the pursuit of money by larger forces than us. It's taken years and years, but I've come to the point where I can sniff out at least some economic motivation behind the media and political curtain that keeps the U.S. public in the dark as its pockets are picked one last time (or maybe a couple more) before the inevitable happens. You don't have to be a conspiracy freak catch the scent of money in just about any corner of politics, which is in reality just the armed extension of business the world round. As a philosopher once told me: "The countries on the globe are not marked out in different colors because the soil is different in those places. It's marked off in colors because different mobsters control different areas of turf on the planet."

Personally, I am one of those people rooting for U.S. collapse. Most Americans who feel that way dare not say it aloud. Hoo boy, I can see the hate mail coming in on that one -- not to mention the glee of Homeland Security over finally seeing me say it in print.

Collapse would certainly eliminate our usage of such an inordinate portion of the world's resources while other people starve. The only thing that bothers me is that the bastards own the army and the legal system and the prison system.

Again thank you for the heads up.

In art and labor,



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