President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran on Monday used the platform of a United Nations conference in Geneva on combating racism to disparage Israel as a “cruel and repressive racist regime,” prompting delegates from European nations to desert the hall and earning a rare harsh rebuke from Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
As Mr. Ahmadinejad began to speak, two protesters wearing rainbow-hued clown wigs — their statement on the tenor of the proceedings — pelted him with red foam noses. Hustled out the door by security agents, they were soon followed by lines of stony-faced diplomats from the 23 European nations attending the conference. They walked out to the sound of some other delegates applauding Mr. Ahmadinejad.
The United States and more than a half-dozen other nations had already boycotted the gathering out of concern that it would focus on maligning Israel rather than on the global problems of discrimination, replaying the disputes that marked the first United Nations conference on combating racism in Durban, South Africa, in 2001.
Years of negotiations intended to avoid just such a scenario failed, underscoring the uneasy gap that exists between the rest of the world and the West when it comes to certain issues, like whether Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians under occupation belongs at a forum on discrimination and xenophobia.
The speech and the reaction are also likely to complicate but not necessarily derail recent attempts between the West and Iran to forge new negotiations over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear development program.
Member states, who wrangled for months over the draft document for the Geneva conference, had ultimately removed controversial statements about Israel; about what constitutes defamation of religion, a position pushed by Muslim states; and about compensation for slavery.
But a reference in the draft document that endorsed the communiqué that emerged from the contentious Durban meeting — where the United States and Israel walked out — set off the boycott. Besides the United States, the countries staying away included Germany, Italy, Poland, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Australia. Canada and Israel announced months ago that they would not attend.
Mr. Ahmadinejad, who seems to take visible delight in his diatribes against Israel and denying events like the Holocaust because it so irks Iran’s opponents, brought the contention roaring back to the fore. He was the only head of state to attend.
“Following World War II they resorted to military aggressions to make an entire nation homeless under the pretext of Jewish suffering,” Mr. Ahmadinejad said, grinning as he spoke, his remarks coincidentally falling on the day that Jewish communities mark the Holocaust. “And they sent migrants from Europe, the United States and other parts of the world in order to establish a totally racist government in occupied Palestine.”
Portraying Israel as a regional boogeyman has been a cornerstone of Iran’s 1979 revolution, although Mr. Ahmadinejad, facing a presidential election in June, is often criticized at home for spending too much time on Palestinian issues and not enough fixing the economic woes of Iranians.
The speech prompted the normally mild-mannered Mr. Ban and other top United Nations officials to voice uncommon criticism of the leader of a member state. “I have not experienced this kind of destructive proceedings in an assembly, in a conference, by any one member state,” Mr. Ban said.
“I deplore the use of this platform by the Iranian president to accuse, divide and even incite,” he said, urging members to “turn away from such a message in both form and substance.”
Mr. Ban also criticized members of nongovernmental organizations for heckling Mr. Ahmadinejad.
Navi Pillay, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, criticized Mr. Ahmadinejad for “grandstanding” from a United Nations dais and said his performance should not be an excuse to derail the important topic of the conference.
She also made a not-so-subtle dig at Iran’s treatment of its own minorities, after noting that the president’s remarks were outside the scope of the conference. “This is what I would have expected the president of Iran to come and tell us: how he is addressing racial discrimination and intolerance in his country,” Ms. Pillay said.
Mr. Ahmadinejad’s speech prompted a chorus of condemnation. Israel recalled its ambassador to Switzerland to protest both the conference and meeting Sunday between the Swiss president, Hans-Rudolf Merz, and Mr. Ahmadinejad.
At the United Nations, Ambassador Alejandro D. Wolff, the deputy permanent representative for the United States, said the Iranians deserved better.
“It shows disregard for the organization to which he is speaking — the United Nations — and does a grave injustice to the Iranian nation and the Iranian people,” he said, suggesting that Iranian leaders show “much more measured, moderate, honest and constructive rhetoric when dealing with issues in the region.”
Not everyone at the conference was critical of the speech, which also wandered through topics like the economic collapse and Iraq and Afghanistan.
“If we actually believe in freedom of expression, then he has the right to say what he wants to say,” the Pakistani ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Zamir Akram, told The Associated Press. “There were things in there that a lot of people in the Muslim world would be in agreement with, for example the situation in Palestine, in Iraq and in Afghanistan, even if they don’t agree with the way he said it.”
Those who supported the Obama administration’s attending the conference said their attitude was not altered by Mr. Ahmadinejad’s remarks. “It is unfortunate that the inappropriate and out-of-line remarks of Ahmadinejad would obscure the only international forum to address racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia,” Representative Barbara Lee, Democrat of California, said in a statement by the Congressional Black Caucus.
“Prepare to fight to the finish, or your kind will vanish.”
by Michael O’Meara
In the last year, one crisis has followed another. First there was a housing mortgage crisis, then a liquidity crisis that led to a banking crisis, then a dollar crisis, then a credit crisis, then a geopolitical crisis, then an energy crisis, then a crisis of consumer confidence, and finally a political crisis at the highest level of the state, involving a crisis of meaning that brought a negro to power—a negro symbolizing everything against which the American once defined himself, and thus symbolizing a transvaluation of the very basis of the American’s original being.
The burning question today is: are these cascading crises “conjunctural” (i.e., due to a combination of circumstances) or are they “structural” (inherent to the system’s nature)? If the latter, then the “American System,” which has governed the world since 1945 and which has programmed the end of European man, faces a potentially systemic rupture whose implications are catastrophic. If only conjunctural, the news is still good, for it cannot but highlight the system’s anti-white nature, of which most white Americans are still clueless.
A crisis, it needs stressing, is always a turning point, “a stage in a sequence of events at which the trend of all future events, especially for better or worse, is determined.” Though most commentators tend to emphasize the economic origins of the crisis, almost all of them recognize its system-disrupting potential. Hence the current obsession with the Great Depression of 1933 and, in more radical quarters, the Soviet crisis of 1985 that brought Gorbachev to power. But whatever its exact nature—and time alone will tell—the crisis is likely to put increased demands on the welfare and security of the white middle class and thus advance the cause of the ethnostate favored by white nationalists. Lacking an organizational structure and a popular following in the real world, the white nationalist project is, in fact, predicated on just such a crisis.
As we enter the new year, the one clear thing is that the crisis is going to get worse. Since the mortgage meltdown of December 2006, the crisis has mainly affected Wall Street, commercial and investment banks, insurance companies, and several government-sponsored enterprises (like Fannie May and Freddie Mac). The new year is likely to take the crisis to Main Street, in the form of retail bankruptcies and unemployment. Auto and related industries will also be hit hard. At the same time, many local and some state governments (like California or Michigan) may collapse because of insolvency. It’s “the worse economic crisis in 70 years” most agree, but no one quite knows exactly what it forebodes. Indeed, the pervasive uncertainty surrounding the crisis, threatening as it does the capitalist system, the prevailing model of globalization, and America’s standing in the world order, lends it a certain apocalyptic quality.
1. The Crisis
Americans like to think that their country is “number one,” though they know almost nothing about “the rest of the world.” Compared to the black and brown nations that comprise the Third World, America may indeed be a paradise (even if most white Americans are lonely, isolated, and lacking any sense of who they are as a people). But compared to Western and Central Europe, or to Japan, Hong Kong, and certain of the other Asian Tigers, it shapes up badly.
The great industries that once made America the world’s foremost economic power and provided working people a decent standard of living have been shipped overseas, along with the technologies and know-how that made them such powerhouses. Trade imbalances have correspondingly grown, just as the US has shifted from being a creditor nation to a debtor nation. At the same time, the national infrastructure has been neglected, household debt has become as unmanageable as the national debt, and American-pioneered technologies are being applied more often abroad than at home.
In 2005, James Fallow, one of the few to predict the current crisis, wrote that: “A year in a private college now costs $83,000, a day in a hospital $1,350, a year in a nursing home $150,000. . . . Eighty percent of the public [has been] priced out of a chance for future opportunity”—that is, they have been priced out of participating in what our ideologues call the “American Dream.” Other mainstream observers are claiming that the US “no longer controls its economic fundamentals” and that “compared with the rest of the world, it’s on the way down.”
Even Thomas Friedman, the oily globalist cheerleader at the New York Times, has, after a recent trip to the Far East, begun to complain that America is becoming “decrepit”—somewhat in the way the Stalinist achievements of the old Soviet Union were becoming decrepit in the 1980s. Friedman nevertheless continues to celebrate the openness and creativity of the American people, though he fails to note that unrestricted Third-World immigration has changed not simply the population’s composition, but its character, and that discriminatory practices against white males, based on disproportional taxation, affirmative action in education, hiring, and contracting, and anti-free speech laws and denial of due process, are hardly sign of America’s alleged openness and creativity.
The dominant mantra, which endeavors to portray the above as signs of progress, remains, accordingly, to “consume,” not “produce.” It seems hardly coincidental that America’s principal export is now the junk culture fabricated in Hollywood, a “culture” which celebrates behaviors and values historically-considered pathological.
De-industrialization and “financialization” (i.e., the hegemony of financial economics over equity and industrial economics), which were to make the United States the leading edge of the new postmodern global market, are obviously implicated in the current crisis, but few establishment commentators have cared to explore these implications. At the most basic level, it might be noted that the new interdependence of a world market based on financial exchanges means that problems in one sector inevitably become problems in another, that disturbances in one country are likely to set off corresponding disturbances in other countries, and that local crises have the potential of becoming system-wide crises. Added to the inherent instability of this compromising dependence on exterior forces is the “Ponzi” dynamics of the U.S. financial sector, which is based on speculative confidence, not wealth creation.
Just to pay the interest on its limitless credit card debt, the country in the last decade has been obliged to borrow two to three billion dollars a day from foreigners, mainly Chinese and Japanese, who are acquiring in the process ownership of large swaths of the economy, while American speculators accumulated vast (and, as it turns out, largely meaningless) ciphers of wealth in the virtual world of cyber space.
America’s human capital is also in decline. Literacy rates are among the lowest in the industrial world, its once prestigious graduate schools of science and engineering are now filled mainly with foreigners, and its public schools are less and less concerned with mastering the rudiments of reading and writing than with dispensing contraceptives to fourteen-year-olds and preventing the use of hand guns on its premises.
Geopolitically, the situation is even worse, as other countries begin lecturing the formerly self-righteous schoolmarm on how to conduct her bungled affairs and as regions traditionally subservient to the US (like Latin America) defiantly assert their autonomy.
But most consequential, the dollar is losing its status as the world’s reserved currency—which means no more credit cards and no more free rides.
Relatedly, both American and foreign academics, some with very distinguished credentials, have begun predicting “an economic and moral collapse [which] will trigger a civil war and the eventual breakup of the United States.”
There have also been warnings from several former high-ranking Bush officials of a “secret coup,” as the higher reaches of the state fall increasing under military control. What began in Iraq and Afghanistan, as the Army became a colonial administrator, is apparently “coming home.” In violation of the Constitution, the Army is now planning to deploy 20,000 troops within the US to respond to any possible “civil unrest.”
Though the military’s “mission creep” began under Bush, Obama has already appointed three high-ranking officers to his Cabinet, promised not to cut the Pentagon’s astronomical budget, and plans to augment US ground troops by another 100,000.
The Pentagon has also, according to a recent US Army War College publication, prepared its own “transition” in case the crisis provokes social struggles that will need to be quelled at home. What’s most significant here is the expectation, among numerous establishment authorities, that the crisis could lead to violent class struggle, military dictatorship, or even social revolution.
The American System that must be held responsible for this situation has, against all traditional precept, made “the rapacious business-dominated state the embodiment of every cherished human value.” Unlike the 19th and early 20th-century European nation-state, the American System is not, and never has been, a national-state system committed to the defense and well-being of the nation; instead, its principal function has always been to defend those liberal democratic practices that facilitate market transactions. Uncommitted, thus, to the embryonic white nation that made up the American people before 1965, governmental elites have been free to pursue policies that foster their specific institutional interests or those of the dominant economic interests, while policies favoring the interests of the country’s white majority have only rarely been adopted and then usually only under threat of electoral retaliation. More scandalously still, this system, in true liberal form, has “privatized profit and socialized loss,” so that now middle-class tax payers will be expected to pick up the tab for the reckless policies of billionaire CEOs.
The distant lineage of this American System can be traced back to the liberal modern principles born in 1789. More immediately, its foundations were laid by the architects who designed the National Security State and its phony Cold War. When, in the course of the 1970s, this postwar system went into crisis, its social democratic components, which favored a social security net and regulation of important industries and utilities, were jettisoned by the free-market fundamentalism of the neo-liberal Reagan Administration and then given a new armature with the “globalist revolution” carried out by the Clinton Administration.
As globalists proceeded to remove those national barriers preventing the free movement of capital, goods, and labor (which meant, among other things, eliminating borders and “old-fashioned” obstacles representative of any lingering sense of national interest and national identity), they sought a complete deregulation of financial practices, based on the capitalist fiction that markets are self-correcting. At the same time, the globalization of American capital severed whatever remaining ties it may have had to the American nation and its culture.
The folly and stupidity of this system, whose ramifications are now going to be paid for with a good deal of popular misery, assumed fantastic—and, as it turns out, unbearable—proportions under the present outbound Bush Administration. Thus it was that the neo-liberal, globalist tenets that ideologically undergird the American System and reduce every question to a matter of individual economic interest gave way under Bush’s neocon cabal to the boundless vanity identified with its Judeo-Evangelical “faith-based community”—which held that anything the American state does is right, that the US always triumphs in the end, and, contrary to traditional Christian stricture, that the US is identified with God’s purpose in the world. As a result, Washington for the last eight years has been unable to distinguish between fact and fantasy.
A four-hundred-billion-dollar-a-year war, with no strategic goal, except perhaps to support Israeli interests, was launched simply on the basis of a neocon hallucination (non-existent Weapons of Mass Destruction). Then, as the government entered this theater of illusion, its vast military machine bogged down before a few lightly armed insurgents (who were eventually bought off with great dollar sums during the so-called “surge”); lies and deception then became the basis of US policy; incompetents and schemers willing to kowtow to the reigning illusions were put in control of policy-making; billions and billions of US loans and aid somehow went missing; those who questioned the Administration’s aims and practices were deemed un-American, as historic liberties were compromised or destroyed; and, all the while, aliens, at the top and at the bottom of the American polity, were allowed the full run of things—from dictating foreign policy to allowing Mexicans to challenge American sovereignty on American streets.
When George W. was asked recently who should be held accountable for the present economic crisis, he answered that no one person or group was actually responsible. “The whole system,” he explained, “became inebriated.” To the degree that the crisis is indeed systemic, he, better than most commentators, has designated the real culprit. But what he didn’t mention is that the system wasn’t just temporarily inebriated: It was plastered from the start. And like the mind-numbing incoherence of any serious drunk, the destabilizing, destructuring, and disordering power of the American System of the last sixty years—despite the wealth and prosperity it created for some—is about to provoke the most massive civilizational hangover in history.
2. The Man of Destiny
There has been no better example of the bankruptcy of the American System, based as it is on liberal ideological abstractions and certain well-meaning but illusory tenets, than the presidency of George W. Bush. That this third-rate individual, lacking an understanding of the most basic things, including English syntax, was put at the helm of the most powerful state in history testifies better than anything else to the system’s unfathomable corruption. Though different from his predecessor, “a self-indulgent bubba with the morals of an alley cat,” he too was another example of the system’s want of character. Bush’s mediocrity, his lack of vision, his small stature as a man—have all consequently taken a terrible toll on both the nation and the state. His presidency, as even many Republican commentators acknowledge, bears responsibility for squandering the vast power and legitimacy that was bequeathed to the United States in the wake of the Soviet collapse.
Obama’s programmed election was specifically designed to restore something of the power lost by Bush’s neocon administration. In the highest reaches of the American establishment (and this is evident less in written documents than in the innuendos and asides of its representatives), it became apparent in the last two or three years that a restoration of American power and prestige in the world would require a make-over of unprecedented proportions. Hillary, who was previously the leading establishment candidate, was thus abandoned, for she was simply too closely associated with the establishment to create the impression of a major turn-around in American politics.
Hence, the entrance of the black knight, who was provided the money, the advisers, and the media frenzy to make his candidacy not only a shoo-in, but a god-send. Obama has not disappointed his handlers, for he was an ideal candidate: he was inexperienced, undistinguished, and possessed the seemingly “populist” credentials to appeal to an electorate fed up with the neocon mania of the Bush Administration; he naturally took to the tiresome rhetoric of stirring but vacuous campaign promises; and, above all, he knew how to appeal to MTV-educated white youth and feminist-influenced white women who saw his campaign as some sort of rehash of the Great Awakening (with “racism” replacing the older Calvinist notion of sin), which had entranced earlier generations of Americans. He was also, of course, guaranteed the vote of the hundred million non-whites who now occupy our lands. The prominent British historian, Niall Ferguson (who has been dubbed “the Leni Riefensthal of Bush’s new imperial order”), could thus trumpet, once the formality of the vote was over, that “American world leadership is [now] back in business.”
Obama may, however, turn out to be the last president of the United States. For those who care to look, scandal and fraud seem to lurk everywhere behind his media-constructed image. His past has thus been carefully erased from the public record; he may not even be a native-born American and thus not constitutionally eligible to be president. But this cover-up won’t last forever. The strident anti-white racism of his wife and many of his close negro associates, as well as his numerous dubious connections to the corrupt Daly machine of Chicago and the scandal-ridden governor of Illinois (Blagojevich) will also eventually surface. Finally, given the nature of the economy, he probably won’t even be able to deliver the goods to the black masses, who see him as some sort of cargo-cult Messiah, and this will undoubtedly become a source of further unrest. But most of all, Obama is thick with the Jews, whose wealth and power controls the Democratic party (even more than the neocon-led Republican party) and whose interests, as already evident, will be foremost among his Administration’s concerns. The gap between the governing elites and a white middle class wary of further social experimentation may thus widen and become more unbridgeable, as blacks, Jews, and raceless whites join the crusade to “change” America.
Obama’s failure, though, will not come through an exposure of the smoke and mirrors surrounding his fabricated persona. There is a deeper, structural problem that confronts this first post-American US government. As William Lind points out, “the heart of our inability to reform is the crisis of the state itself. Reform endangers the money and power of the New Class, which controls the state and feeds off it.” Though there will be a qualitative expansion of the state under the new regime, as money is thrown at the crisis and new projects are undertaken to root out the “racism” of white Americans, the anti-national impetus of the American System, which wars on the forces of history, culture, and nature, is almost certainly to remain untouched, just as the parasitic economic system, so crucial to the elites who support him, will go unreformed. If the crisis is conjunctural and short-lived, this, of course, may not matter; but if it is structural, it will mean the collapse of order and authority, and ultimately of the state’s legitimacy.
Against this backdrop of impending “change” and uncertainty, the controlled media (to the obvious delight of the immodest African) has endeavored to portray Obama as a man of destiny, another FDR or Lincoln, who will lead us through the valley of shadows to the Promised Land. This may, perhaps, occur, for anything today is possible. But I tend to agree with Philippe Grasset at dedefensa.com that our postmodern global age, which destablizes and disorders everything that has meaning for us, is being shaped not by our putative leaders, but by the accelerating force of events, whose “maistrian” effects simply sweep up and carry along all who try to control them.
The man of destiny may turn out, then, to be the man manipulated by destiny. Given that he represents the refutation of America’s European being, it would be ever so fitting if he should preside over the demise of the failed experiment known as “the United States,” opening thus the way to the founding of another, more organic expression of European America.
3. The Knife
As we enter the new year, white Americans once again face a despotic threat to their way of life, as they did in 1776. They have fallen under a regime that cannot control the dysgenic economic forces it has unleashed; a regime ruled by incompetents, thieves, and cosmopolitans; one that never considers the interests of those it rules; that is contemptuous of the history, culture, and tradition of the majority; that refuses to uphold laws and defend the border; that is influenced by foreign lobbies; that relentlessly attacks Christianity; that establishes “hate” laws and restrains free speech to muzzle whites opposing its anti-national policies.
This regime is not, however, some modern variant of old George III’s venal monarchy, but the American System founded on the same liberal modern principles that inspired the Communist system. Native to both systems is the primacy of “reason,” understood mainly in quantitative economic terms. Liberal reason consequently believes in nothing, for belief (which stems from religion, culture, tradition, and tribe) is the opposite of reason. Such economically-anchored systems of “consummate meaninglessness” may therefore function smoothly as long as they deliver the goods, but once things begin to break down and become dysfunctional, they lose all legitimacy.
A half dozen years ago, “Yggdrasil,” one of the pioneers of American white-nationalist thought, argued that the United States would likely go the way of the former Soviet Union if its system of financial rewards and punishments should ever cease to benefit the white majority. For though US elites have not the slightest interest in the welfare and security of the white majority, the majority was willing to be bought off as longs as the elites provided the material benefits to ensure its allegiance. Today, we are entering an era when that ability to deliver the goods may be rapidly diminishing.
For this reason, I believe catastrophe alone will cause white Americans to abandon their allegiance to the existing system and to see the elites controlling it as their real enemies. Such a transfer of loyalties away from the state is thus likely to entail less a racial awakening than an understanding how to live in a hostile reality, once the virtual realities that are at the heart of the American System have collapsed. Nevertheless, at that point when whites abandon the status quo, the possibility of an emerging white national movement will quicken.
Our role as nationalists ought thus to be subversive and revolutionary, not conservative. For there is nothing worth conserving in the existing anti-white system. Instead, we need to forge a spirit that opposes it at its root, that defines America as a nativist variant of European civilization, and that prepares a new Declaration of Independence.
“But our numbers are too small!” it will be argued. This, however, is always the case. For “history is made not by majorities who vote but by minorities who fight.” The great Belgium revolutionary, Jean Thiriat, once pointed out that a man skilled with a butcher knife can reduce a five ton whale to steak slices. The knife is the revolutionary sect and the whale the completely flabby society preoccupied with economic matters and devoted to the pursuit of pleasure. Such a society is extremely vulnerable to the action of a determined and organized political minority, especially in times of crisis.
Where, today, are such minorities to be found?
Every generation of Europeans has produced men ready for the heroic life. When the opportunity arises, they will appear.
The important thing to remember, as we enter this year of crisis, is that the future belongs to us—if we will it!
Source: TOQ Online
by Dmitry Orlov
Elizabeth Kübler-Ross defined the five stages of coming to terms with grief and tragedy as denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, and applied it quite successfully to various forms of catastrophic personal loss, such as death of a loved one, sudden end to one’s career, and so forth. Several thinkers, notably James Howard Kunstler and, more recently John Michael Greer, have pointed out that the Kübler-Ross model is also quite terrifyingly accurate in reflecting the process by which society as a whole (or at least the informed and thinking parts of it) is reconciling itself to the inevitability of a discontinuous future, with our institutions and life support systems undermined by a combination of resource depletion, catastrophic climate change, and political impotence. But so far, little has been said specifically about the finer structure of these discontinuities. Instead, there is to be found a continuum of subjective judgments, ranging from “a severe and prolonged recession” (the prediction we most often read in the financial press), to Kunstler’s “Long Emergency,” to the ever-popular “Collapse of Western Civilization,” painted with an ever-wider brush-stroke.
For those of us who have already gone through all of the emotional stages of reconciling ourselves to the prospect of social and economic upheaval, it might be helpful to have a more precise terminology that goes beyond such emotionally charged phrases. Defining a taxonomy of collapses might prove to be more than just an intellectual exercise: based on our abilities and circumstances, some of us may be able to specifically plan for a certain stage of collapse as a temporary, or even permanent, stopping point. Even if society at the current stage of socioeconomic complexity will no longer be possible, and even if, as Tainter points in his “Collapse of Complex Societies,” there are circumstances in which collapse happens to be the correct adaptive response, it need not automatically cause a population crash, with the survivors disbanding into solitary, feral humans dispersed in the wilderness and subsisting miserably. Collapse can be conceived of as an orderly, organized retreat rather than a rout.
For instance, the collapse of the Soviet Union – our most recent and my personal favorite example of an imperial collapse – did not reach the point of political disintegration of the republics that made it up, although some of them (Georgia, Moldova) did lose some territory to separatist movements. And although most of the economy shut down for a time, many institutions, including the military, public utilities, and public transportation, continued to function throughout. And although there was much social dislocation and suffering, society as a whole did not collapse, because most of the population did not lose access to food, housing, medicine, or any of the other survival necessities. The command-and-control structure of the Soviet economy largely decoupled the necessities of daily life from any element of market psychology, associating them instead with physical flows of energy and physical access to resources. This situation, as I argue in my forthcoming book, Reinventing Collapse, allowed the Soviet population to inadvertently achieve a greater level of collapse-preparedness than is currently possible in the United States.
Having given a lot of thought to both the differences and the similarities between the two superpowers – the one that has collapsed already, and the one that is collapsing as I write this – I feel ready to attempt a bold conjecture, and define five stages of collapse, to serve as mental milestones as we gauge our own collapse-preparedness and see what can be done to improve it. Rather than tying each phase to a particular emotion, as in the Kübler-Ross model, the proposed taxonomy ties each of the five collapse stages to the breaching of a specific level of trust, or faith, in the status quo. Although each stage causes physical, observable changes in the environment, these can be gradual, while the mental flip is generally quite swift. It is something of a cultural universal that nobody (but a real fool) wants to be the last fool to believe in a lie.
Stages of Collapse
Stage 1: Financial collapse. Faith in “business as usual” is lost. The future is no longer assumed resemble the past in any way that allows risk to be assessed and financial assets to be guaranteed. Financial institutions become insolvent; savings are wiped out, and access to capital is lost.
Stage 2: Commercial collapse. Faith that “the market shall provide” is lost. Money is devalued and/or becomes scarce, commodities are hoarded, import and retail chains break down, and widespread shortages of survival necessities become the norm.
Stage 3: Political collapse. Faith that “the government will take care of you” is lost. As official attempts to mitigate widespread loss of access to commercial sources of survival necessities fail to make a difference, the political establishment loses legitimacy and relevance.
Stage 4: Social collapse. Faith that “your people will take care of you” is lost, as local social institutions, be they charities or other groups that rush in to fill the power vacuum run out of resources or fail through internal conflict.
Stage 5: Cultural collapse. Faith in the goodness of humanity is lost. People lose their capacity for “kindness, generosity, consideration, affection, honesty, hospitality, compassion, charity” (Turnbull, The Mountain People). Families disband and compete as individuals for scarce resources. The new motto becomes “May you die today so that I die tomorrow” (Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago). There may even be some cannibalism.
Although many people imagine collapse to be a sort of elevator that goes to the sub-basement (our Stage 5) no matter which button you push, no such automatic mechanism can be discerned. Rather, driving us all to Stage 5 will require that a concerted effort be made at each of the intervening stages. That all the players seem poised to make just such an effort may give this collapse the form a classical tragedy – a conscious but inexorable march to perdition – rather than a farce (“Oops! Ah, here we are, Stage 5.” – “So, whom do we eat first?” – “Me! I am delicious!”) Let us sketch out this process.
Financial collapse, as we are are currently observing it, consists of two parts. One is that a part of the general population is forced to move, no longer able to afford the house they bought based on inflated assessments, forged income numbers, and foolish expectations of endless asset inflation. Since, technically, they should never have been allowed to buy these houses, and were only able to do so because of financial and political malfeasance, this is actually a healthy development. The second part consists of men in expensive suits tossing bundles of suddenly worthless paper up in the air, ripping out their remaining hair, and (some of us might uncharitably hope) setting themselves on fire on the steps of the Federal Reserve. They, to express it in their own vernacular, “fucked up,” and so this is also just as it should be.
The government response to this could be to offer some helpful homilies about “the wages of sin” and to open a few soup kitchens and flop houses in a variety of locations including Wall Street. The message would be: “You former debt addicts and gamblers, as you say, ‘fucked up,’ and so this will really hurt for a long time. We will never let you anywhere near big money again. Get yourselves over to the soup kitchen, and bring your own bowl, because we don’t do dishes.” This would result in a stable Stage 1 collapse – the Second Great Depression.
However, this is unlikely, because in the US the government happens to be debt addict and gambler number one. As individuals, we may have been as virtuous as we wished, but the government will have still run up exorbitant debts on our behalf. Every level of government, from local municipalities and authorities, which need the financial markets to finance their public works and public services, to the federal government, which relies on foreign investment to finance its endless wars, is addicted to public debt. They know they cannot stop borrowing, and so they will do anything they can to keep the game going for as long as possible.
About the only thing the government currently seems it fit to do is extend further credit to those in trouble, by setting interest rates at far below inflation, by accepting worthless bits of paper as collateral and by pumping money into insolvent financial institutions. This has the effect of diluting the dollar, further undermining its value, and will, in due course, lead to hyperinflation, which is bad enough in any economy, but is especially serious for one dominated by imports. As imports dry up and the associated parts of the economy shut down, we pass Stage 2: Commercial Collapse.
As businesses shut down, storefronts are boarded up and the population is left largely penniless and dependent on FEMA and charity for survival, the government may consider what to do next. It could, for example, repatriate all foreign troops and set them to work on public works projects designed to directly help the population. It could promote local economic self-sufficiency, by establishing community-supported agriculture programs, erecting renewable energy systems, and organizing and training local self-defence forces to maintain law and order. The Army Corps of Engineers could be ordered to bulldoze buildings erected on former farmland around city centers, return the land to cultivation, and to construct high-density solar-heated housing in urban centers to resettle those who are displaced. In the interim, it could reduce homelessness by imposing a steep tax on vacant residential properties and funneling the proceeds into rent subsidies for the indigent. With plenty of luck, such measures may be able to reverse the trend, eventually providing for a restoration of pre-Stage 2 conditions.
This may or may not be a good plan, but in any case it is rather unrealistic, because the United States, being so deeply in debt, will be forced to accede to the wishes of its foreign creditors, who own a lot of national assets (land, buildings, and businesses) and who would rather see a dependent American population slaving away working off their debt than a self-sufficient one, conveniently forgetting that they have mortgaged their children’s futures to pay for military fiascos, big houses, big cars, and flat-screen television sets. Thus, a much more likely scenario is that the federal government (knowing who butters their bread) will remain subservient to foreign financial interests. It will impose austerity conditions, maintain law and order through draconian means, and aide in the construction of foreign-owned factory towns and plantations. As people start to think that having a government may not be such a good idea, conditions become ripe for Stage 3.
If Stage 1 collapse can be observed by watching television, observing Stage 2 might require a hike or a bicycle ride to the nearest population center, while Stage 3 collapse is more than likely to be visible directly through one’s own living-room window, which may or may not still have glass in it. After a significant amount of bloodletting, much of the country becomes a no-go zone for the remaining authorities. Foreign creditors decide that their debts might not be repaid after all, cut their losses and depart in haste. The rest of the world decides to act as if there is no such place as The United States – because “nobody goes there any more.” So as not to lose out on the entertainment value, the foreign press still prints sporadic fables about Americans who eat their young, much as they did about Russia following the Soviet collapse. A few brave American expatriates who still come back to visit bring back amazing stories of a different kind, but everyone considers them eccentric and perhaps a little bit crazy.
Stage 3 collapse can sometimes be avoided by the timely introduction of international peacekeepers and through the efforts of international humanitarian NGOs. In the aftermath of a Stage 2 collapse, domestic authorities are highly unlikely to have either the resources or the legitimacy, or even the will, to arrest the collapse dynamic and reconstitute themselves in a way that the population would accept.
As stage 3 collapse runs its course, the power vacuum left by the now defunct fedral, state and local government is filled by a variety of new power structures. Remnants of former law enforcement and military, urban gangs, ethnic mafias, religious cults and wealthy property owners all attempt to build their little empires on the ruins of the big one, fighting each other over territory and access to resources. This is the age of Big Men: charismatic leaders, rabble-rousers, ruthless Macchiavelian princes and war lords. In the luckier places, they find it to their common advantage to pool their resources and amalgamate into some sort of legitimate local government, while in the rest their jostling for power leads to a spiral of conflict and open war.
Stage 4 collapse occurs when society becomes so disordered and impoverished that it can no longer support the Big Men, who become smaller and smaller, and eventually fade from view. Society fragments into extended families and small tribes of a dozen or so families, who find it advantageous to band together for mutual support and defense. This is the form of society that has existed over some 98.5% of humanity’s existence as a biological species, and can be said to be the bedrock of human existence. Humans can exist at this level of organization for thousands, perhaps millions of years. Most mammalian species go extinct after just a few million years, but, for all we know, Homo Sapiens still have a million or two left.
If pre-collapse society is too atomized, alienated and individualistic to form cohesive extended families and tribes, or if its physical environment becomes so disordered and impoverished that hunger and starvation become widespread, then Stage 5 collapse becomes likely. At this stage, a simpler biological imperative takes over, to preserve the life of the breeding couples. Families disband, the old are abandoned to their own devices, and children are only cared for up to age 3. All social unity is destroyed, and even the couples may disband for a time, preferring to forage on their own and refusing to share food. This is the state of society described by the anthropologist Colin Turnbull in his book The Mountain People. If society prior to Stage 5 collapse can be said to be the historical norm for humans, Stage 5 collapse brings humanity to the verge of physical extinction.
As we can easily imagine, the default is cascaded failure: each stage of collapse can easily lead to the next, perhaps even overlapping it. In Russia, the process was arrested just past Stage 3: there was considerable trouble with ethnic mafias and even some warlordism, but government authority won out in the end. In my other writings, I go into a lot of detail in describing the exact conditions that inadvertently made Russian society relatively collapse-proof. Here, I will simply say that these ingredients are not currently present in the United States.
While attempting to arrest collapse at Stage 1 and Stage 2 would probably be a dangerous waste of energy, it is probably worth everyone’s while to dig in their heels at Stage 3, definitely at Stage 4, and it is quite simply a matter of physical survival to avoid Stage 5. In certain localities – those with high population densities, as well as those that contain dangerous nuclear and industrial installations – avoiding Stage 3 collapse is rather important, to the point of inviting foreign troops and governments in to maintain order and avoid disasters. Other localities may be able to prosper indefinitely at Stage 3, and even the most impoverished environments may be able to support a sparse population subsisting indefinitely at Stage 4.
Although it is possible to prepare directly for surviving Stage 5, this seems like an altogether demoralizing thing to attempt. Preparing to survive Stages 3 and 4 may seem somewhat more reasonable, while explicitly aiming for Stage 3 may be reasonable if you plan to become one of the Big Men. Be that as it may, I must leave such preparations as an exercise for the reader. My hope is that these definitions of specific stages of collapse will enable a more specific and fruitful discussion than the one currently dominated by such vague and ultimately nonsensical terms as “the collapse of Western civilization.”