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How bad will the US collapse get? With Poll!

by A swedish kind of death Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 09:15:10 AM EST

With a hattip to Gaianne and DeAnander, here is a lazy quote diary from Orlov. With a poll!

ClubOrlov: The Five 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.

Read more at Orlov's for the long story. Without further ado, here is the poll:

How bad will the US collapse get?
. Financial collapse. Great Depressionish 60%
. Commercial collapse. Money is great for starting fires 20%
. Political collapse. Warlords are the new in crowd 13%
. Social collapse. Tribal politics gets a new meaning 6%
. Cultural collapse. Nice thighs! Can I get then with barbecue sauce? 0%

Votes: 30
Results | Other Polls
There will be no collapse. The Chinese and Japanese will keep pumping money in so as no to lose their biggest market. The French will send in enormous food care packages which will result in all Americans devouring themselves on cheese and pate. The French will then say "we're even" ;-)

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 12:00:19 PM EST
You mean the US will become cheese-eating surrender monkeys....?

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson
by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 12:13:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I've been looking for someone to surrender to, sort of like Peter Sellers in The Mouse That Roared.  I don't think here will be financial collapse, though I do think it will be a pretty severe buckling.  There are huge strengths to the US economy, and there are lots of resources here waiting to get tapped into, of course some folks won't be very happy about the resource redistribution.  I don't think it will come real soon, I expect Obama to get elected and quickly overwhelmed by the disasters lurking-If he learns to fight we might get a Roosevelt style bailout of the capitalists which leaves them in general power with some lesser amount of looting-If he doesn't learn to fight quickly enough, the bosses will run it into the ground and then we might get a financial collpse in a couple of years.

"I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, You know I'm a peaceful man...'" Robbie Robertson
by NearlyNormal on Mon Mar 24th, 2008 at 04:17:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This scale  is a total mess!!!

Orlov is a russian emigree, people. He describes here the collapse of the russian system.


Stage 5, 4 and 3 exist for a long time. Because USA is an recent country formed in its absolute majority of recent immigrants.
of course, the same plant who gives the poison in part gives the antidote in another (an idea tested abundantly by its author - Prof. Jorge Paiva) (it's a carrot and stick situation, i bet). so we also  have philantropists and deeply religious people; an independent film industry centred on non-competitive people; and free software - America finest hour. However that is not the bulk of the system.

the sequence has been 3,4,5. will be followed by 1,2.

important notes: 3 happened in the Europe of old (pre-welfare state); before they entering the boat.
the US (America (the rest of the hemisphere does not exist)).

4 is a recent stage, and it is the determining stage.
In "the economical illusion", Emmanuel Todd, the foremost thinker on modern society as-far-as-i-know, on pair with Guy Debord (different perspectives, but what can one expect?, it is a Wicked problem) , suggests the change in behaviour of immigrants for socially cohesive background to their grandsons.

5 results directly from 4. but one can also point out that economical immigrants everywhere cares disproportionally about money. i noticed that in Portuguese colonists to Africa.

stage 2 will be short in time.

End note: in every collapse, all these steps happen.


A candy for those who think i am very aggressive on my description of the us:

Who won Texas (in the democractic party primaries)?
answer bellow, courtesy of a friend of mine, who offers GAMGI to the world.

> Obama.

But you don't read that in English, only in French

Unless we have TexasTwo - the 51st state. Oh well, for those who read FT regularly this exercise in doublespeak is yawning.

by findmeaDoorIntoSummer on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 01:43:34 PM EST
by findmeaDoorIntoSummer on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 01:51:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
an important sentence was incomplete:

the US (America (the rest of the hemisphere does not exist)) is an European creation. The Modern idea of Europe - the EU - is an American creation.

let me explain this last provocative sentence: first, European civilisation has a mildly long history, and during most of its time - the middle ages, there exist always a supernational, regulatory organisation, based in Rome - the Papacy. That institutional had temporal power. (as for moral power, notice that many people in Europe never were Christians, but Atheists - which is an older philosophical belief).

But Victor Hugo, Stefan Zweig, Jean Monnet and Winston Churchill, the pioneers of a modern European supernational entity, were deeply influenced by the US.

The inevitable de-colonisation movement - in the rest of the world -, the final fall in power of the Catholic Church - in southern Europe -, the overwhelming power - breaking European major powers' areas of influence in non-core Europe - (and success icon) of US and, later, the economical rise of other gigantic nations (in China and India's cases it is a return), have led to the creation of the EU.

Also notice continental names, which are very powerful memmes, are not static, and not under question. take Africa; Africa originally designated the area around Carthage. But not we have two Africas: Black Africa and Islamic Africa (and they overlap, and change, as people fight with words, and blades, and culturally-based care organisations and practices).

by findmeaDoorIntoSummer on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 02:23:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But Victor Hugo, Stefan Zweig, Jean Monnet and Winston Churchill, the pioneers of a modern European supernational entity, were deeply influenced by the US.

Please expound on this.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 03:22:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
yes. you are right, those words of really require an explanation.

There are two separate cases here.

Jean Monnet and Winston Churchill had a close relationship to the US. In their case, there is no exaggeration in saying that they were "deeply influenced".

Jean Monnet was the person who coordinated the joint allied maritime logistic traffic in world war I (a post himself suggested). In WWII he persuaded Roosevelt to develop the idustrial warfare effort and later served as coordinator.

Winston Churchill was the son of an rich american heiress and an aristocrat. As First (Comissioner) Lord of the Admiralty (1911-17), he recognize that: 1 - the navy should change of propellant, from coal to oil; 2 - the next war would take place in europe, against Germany, and conseguently a) started to displace forces to England, back from the Empire, (and possibly suggesting a greater role to the US), b) defended a bigger military collaboration with France.

These two men actually fit in the same description: -extremely pragmatic

  • open to new ideias
  • their actions are always triggered by the anticipation of the emergence of a greater power (first Germany, then Germany, later Russia)
  • their solution is the same: join efforts, first with  the neighbouring great power(s) of similar size faced with the same greater menace (first france &england, then france&england, then france&germany, then with the indispensable distant and more powerful ally (the us).

Monnet was more radical on its approach to alliances. One may wonder what would have happened if Churchill had won the elections right after WWII. he would be more open to close cooperation proposals from De Gaulle (and Monnet) than the Labour government of the time. How then would West Germany fit in the picture?

As for Victor Hugo and Stefan Zweig, i cannot say without exaggerating that there is an influence on their ideias, namely political ideias, from american sources.
However, strictly in terms of political solution for Europe, i dare say that the US experience is marking, for a simple but strong reason: most of us, most of the time, are not capable of doing creative thinking on but a small number of concepts. And when we do, we generally enginner it by picking up concepts and applying them elsewhere, or by misunderstanding something in a way which accidentally simplifies the problem (still you need the ability of recognition). Even great minds like those resort to empyricism.
In the particular field of politics, this is captured by the following quotation - "the world respects only success" - which I saw attributed to Adolf Hitler, but i failed to track the reference (not even on-line).

I am not sure if Victor Hugo imagined a "United States of Europe" while he was far from his world, in the channel islands but let us examine his speech. Victor Hugo said In 1849, at the International Peace Conference,  from Wikipedia:

 "A day will come when we shall see... the United States of America and the United States of Europe face to face, reaching out for each other across the seas."

This is quite telling. Since we are at it, let us see a n entire paragraph. it is quite funny.

Italian writer and politician Giuseppe Mazzini called for the creation of a federation of European republics in 1843. This set the stage for perhaps, the best known early proposal for peaceful unification, through cooperation and equality of membership, made by the pacifist Victor Hugo in 1847. Hugo used the term 'United States of Europe' (États-Unis d'Europe) during a speech at the International Peace Congress, organised by Mazzini, held in Paris in 1849. Hugo favoured the creation of "a supreme, sovereign senate, which will be to Europe what parliament is to England" and said "A day will come when all nations on our continent will form a European brotherhood... A day will come when we shall see... the United States of America and the United States of Europe face to face, reaching out for each other across the seas." However, he was laughed out of the hall, yet returned to his idea again in 1851. Victor Hugo planted a tree in the grounds of his residence on the Island of Guernsey he was noted in saying that when this tree matured the United States of Europe would have come into being. This tree to this day is still growing happily in the gardens of Maison de Hauteville, St. Peter Port, Guernsey, Victor Hugo's residence during his exile from France.

* memo to ETelligence officers: dispatch an agent to take the a picture of the tree. *

so it was before he went to self-imposed exile. Hmm, that so before its political change of mind and the self-imposed exile folowing reactionary counter-revolution in France. So he initially defended  the U.S.E. as a prevention against the (intra-european) wars he had witnessed in his childhood.

Stefan Zweig eventually became also an exiled person, running away from the war - World War II. However, its belief in an federal Europe may have come earlier. It must have come as a solution to war. Which was a long concern from him. In its posthumous book "The world of yesterday. Memoirs from a European" he reported his meeting Bertha von Suttner, the (increasingly popular) person who persuaded Alfred Nobel to create his the Peace Prize.

by findmeaDoorIntoSummer on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 08:17:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not so much "stages" as "levels", surely? Only a very strong degree of level-N collapse leads to level N+1. "Stages", to me, suggests an inevitable start-to-finish sequence.

Words and ideas I offer here may be used freely and without attribution.
by technopolitical on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 04:36:07 PM EST
weird list

Stage 4 and 5 are considered unrelated to 1,2 and 3 by historiasn. In World war II, after the spanish civil war, or after the crack.. there was no rioting, no turmoil. actually,t he worst turmoil always happens when 1 2 and 3 are not present.

I guess 1 ,2 and 3 can be mroe realted but I would not be so sure.

In any case, I doubt there will be any collapse of American economy. I for sure hope of zero growth for the US four half a decade (long but not deep depression) so as to rebalance the world economy, produce a multipolar world and address the global isssue of global warming  and lack of sanitation (yes, you read right lack of sanitation is killing mroe people thant he present worst case scenario of global warming...thoguh the worst case scenario fro gobal warming can be updated), and generate the politcial changes that the US need to become a respected member of the world again.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 06:17:00 PM EST
Economic collapse: we ain't seen nothing yet.

Some very rich people have eschewed money market funds for muni auction funds for the extra li'l bit of interest.

For half a century, the muni auctions have been as solid as money market funds.

But recently the market dried up. It's completely illiquid. Many billions of hard earned cash (in other words, money that's needed NOW) are sitting there and no one knows what to do to buy that paper so people can get their money back.

The sad part is that this doesn't only effect rich people with brokers who put them into this market in the first place (the brokers themselves never imagined this would happen since this market has been used as a safe haven for decades) but employees at many companies. Apparently, some in management have been parking payroll $$$ in these auctions. So people aren't getting paid.

How much is sitting there without buyers?

Could be $30-50 billion.

by Upstate NY on Tue Mar 25th, 2008 at 08:02:14 AM EST
Don't worry, Helicopter Ben will soon be printing your and my money to transfer to those wealthy fuckers using those impaired assets as "no look" collateral just like he's done in MBS/ABS markets so far.

The other market to go will be corporate debt - wouldn't want those private equity partners to lose any money, would we?

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Tue Mar 25th, 2008 at 08:28:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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