Orlov on social collapse at the Long Now

Grumpy, humorous, tongue-in-cheek, survivalist predictions for the eminent arrival of the Former United States of America.

Orlov just gave a typically grumpy, humorous, and somewhat tongue-in-cheek presentation at the Long Now Foundation.  Boing Boing, Global Guerillas and others have highlighted his speech, which is probably gave him the most web coverage he’s had in a while.

In a 2006 presentation, “Closing the ‘Collapse Gap': the USSR was better prepared for collapse than the US,” Orlov first laid out his USSR / USA empire collapse comparison that would later become his book, Reinventing Collapse: the USSR was better prepared for collapse than the USA.

Orlov argues that the USA is vulnerable to the kind of economic collapse experienced by the former USSR.  He cites huge deficits, foreign military entanglements, and the unsustainablilty of its suburban lifestyles.  Mix this with possible climate shocks, financial market volatility, and anything weird like suicide bombers, avian flu pandemic and you’ve got an interesting situation.

The kinds of things Orlov expects after financial collapse will be very familiar to humanitarian workers.  Shortages of fuel, food, medicine and consumer items; electric, gas and water outages; hyperinflation; economic disruption, joblessness, vagrancy; increased criminal and black market activities; transport disruption.  He suggests that America should not expect “any grand rescue plans, innovative technology programs, or miracles of social cohesion.”

HFP isn’t in a position to comment on the veracity of his argument.  Instead we find the emergence of social collapse discussions in mainstream media tremendously fascinating.  Several commentators argue against spreading these memes because they could become self-fulfilling prophecies.  Others argue that they are important and overdue wake up calls.

What would happen to the humanitarian community, including those it is intended to serve, should there be such a large scale fiscal and political meltdown?

UPDATE – There is a very good summary of Orlov’s book over at the OilDrum, which can be found here.

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