My Prescription for 2016: Collapse Early and Often

Submitted by Dmitry Orlov  –  The ClubOrlov Blog

We are in the time of year when most sensible animals living in northerly climates are hibernating in burrows and hollow tree trunks, while the somewhat less sensible pundits make their predictions for the coming year. My prediction is always the same—things will go on more or less same as before, until something major breaks, while the probability of something major breaking goes up with each passing year. I have called this event “collapse,” and have predicted, year after year, that it will eventually happen. And so, instead of repeating this less than useful prediction, this year I will instead provide a prescription.

Not too many people, I expect, will want to follow my prescription; not too many of my family members, or friends, or acquaintances, or you who are reading this. And that’s fine because, as I have learned over and over again, there is no strength in numbers. Quite the opposite: the probability of any given trick working is in inverse proportion to the number of times it is tried, or the number of people who try it. And so, if you are reading along and think “I can’t possibly do this because of [insert lame excuse]!” then—good! Fine with me. Fewer people equals more oxygen.

And that applies to the few people who will actually bother to read this. Lots more people will not want to read this, because—what collapse? Gasoline prices are low, Obama has shut down most of the wars, the economy is strong enough for the Fed to have started hiking rates, and once Bernie Trump gets into the White House, everything else will be set right too. To the people who think that, someone like me, who predicted collapse a while back, was clearly wrong, and needs to be psychoanalyzed, not followed. Again, fine with me, so long and thanks for all the bullshit.

The reasons it’s all bullshit are as follows.

• Gasoline prices are low because high oil prices crashed the economy. In turn, low oil prices are destroying the North American oil patch, which was only showing new signs of life thanks to fracking and tar sands, which are expensive to produce and only make sense when oil prices are high. Rest assured, prices will go back up, and then back down, until, in the end, oil comes to be regarded as useless toxic waste. A year ago I described exactly this scenario.

• The wars are over because all of them pretty much ended in defeat for the US. None of them achieved any of their stated objectives. Now, some of you will jump up and try to comment that the stated objectives were not the real objectives, which were to sow chaos and destruction for the sheer hell of it while enriching defense contractors. That’s fine too, because such “real” objectives are consistent with imperial collapse: empire wants to steal a precious vase; empire smashes it instead; success! Moreover, whatever the objectives, they don’t matter any more, because now they can’t be achieved no matter what. The new Russian/Chinese/Indian/Syrian ordnance, such as the S-300/400/500 air and space defense systems, the Kalibr long-range supersonic cruise missile, along with various electronic warfare systems such as Khibiny, has rendered most US forces obsolete. You can say that defeat is victory but, as I explained two years ago, it isn’t. Cancel Red Alert and set course for nearest dry dock.

• The Fed is pretending to hike rates to avoid the impression that it has lost control. This is not the only sort of pretense being attempted in the financial arena; there are plenty of others. The US economy isn’t growing, and if you subtract out the effect of runaway debt (which will never be repaid no matter what scenario you consider as likely) then it’s actually shrinking. More accurately, it can be said that it is sucking in whatever it can in order to avoid collapsing. It is a black hole, as I described half a year ago.

• As far as the “Bernie Trump will save us” theme, it is well understood by now that the US is no longer a democracy. (Maybe it was one once upon a time, maybe not; it doesn’t matter.) Consider the matter settled. Anyone who thinks that it is still possible to effect positive change in the US by voting is a conspiracy theorist of the most miserable, deluded kind.

* * *

There are some general properties of collapses to keep in mind.

1. All things that must collapse eventually do. All empires collapse—no exceptions. All buildings collapse—unless they are demolished first. All Ponzi schemes—such as the current financial system, based on runaway debt—collapse when you least expect them to. Seeing as collapses aren’t optional, it makes sense to get used to the idea of them happening, and to learn how make the best of them. Some people consider this and are filled with grief. As I pointed out before, collapse is the worst possible time to suffer a nervous breakdown, so please get your blubbering over with ahead of time.

2. Some collapses are actually good for you. Some really important things could be saved provided whatever less important thing that would cause them to collapse collapses first. For instance, if indistrial civilization were to collapse soonish, this would avoid ecosystem collapse, leaving whatever survivors would be left with breathable air and a survivable climate. And if the gigantic bubble in human population, which grew apace with the burning of fossil fuels, were to pop before turning the planet into a giant smoldering trash heap, then the few survivors would have a reasonable chance of making it.

3. Bigger collapses are nastier than smaller ones. For example, if you had lots of local banks and credit unions making loans to people who then couldn’t repay them, then some large number of these banks and credit unions would collapse, insured depositors would be repaid, bad debts would be written off, and the entire system would eventually recover. But if you have a handful of gigantic banks and financial institutions holding most of the bad debts, and they fail all at once, then that brings down the entire system. And if you bail them out, then the entire system ends up on life support for the rest of its life, because nobody has any incentive to stop generating bad loans, since now everyone expects to be bailed out again and again.

4. Frequent collapses are better than infrequent ones. This is because unless things—be they populations, Ponzi schemes, economies, cities or empires—collapse on a regular basis, they tend to get too big. And when they get too big, their collapse (which is inevitable, see Point 1 above) becomes bigger, making them worse (see Point 3 above). Plus, frequent collapses of the nonfatal kind can be actually good for you (see Point 2).

For example:

• If the electric grid collapses now and again, then you will eventually learn that you need to get yourself a 12V system, a generator, some solar panels, a wind generator, and install LED lights.
• If water pressure goes down to zero periodically, then you will learn that you need to put in some cisterns, a filtration system, a demand pump, and collect water off the rooftop.
• If garbage collection stops for periods of time, then you will learn to incinerate and to compost, and will try to minimize the amount of nonbiodegradable trash you generate.
• If paid work disappears for periods of time, then you will learn that you need to keep a few months’ worth of savings around to ride out these periods.
• If stores run out of food on a semi-regular basis, then you will learn that you need to grow your own food, put a chicken coop in the back yard and figure out how many lazy beds of potatoes you need.
• If banks periodically confiscate all your money (that’s called a “bail-in,” and it’s actually been made legal not too long ago), then you will learn to keep an absolute minimum of money in the banks, and figure out other, more reliable forms in which to store your savings.
• If you were to periodically find yourself cut off from the medical system, then you would find out ways of staying healthy and of treating yourself.
• If you periodically found it impossible to buy gasoline, you would learn that you can’t rely on your car, and would instead bicycle, or walk, or take public transportation.
• If your country’s government periodically turned fascist and started detaining, torturing and killing people indiscriminately, then you’d learn that you need to get yourself a second passport, and practice getting out of the country in a hurry.

These are all examples of small, frequent collapses that are good for you.

But that’s not what everyone seems to be aiming for, now, is it? What everyone seems to be aiming for is preventing any and all of these small, frequent, nonfatal collapses. However, such efforts are in direct contradiction with Point 1: “All things that must collapse eventually do.” Instead of preventing collapse, such tactics guarantee a single, huge, catastrophic collapse that can very well turn out to be fatal for huge masses of people. But that’s OK: see Point 2: if “the gigantic bubble in human population… pops before turning the planet into a giant smoldering trash heap, then the few survivors will have a reasonable chance of making it.”

And so, what if you aspire to being one of these few survivors who might stand a reasonable chance of making it? My prescription is simple: Collapse Early and Often.