Many of us who have been researching collapse for a decade or more repeatedly use the word in writing, speaking, and daily conversation, but few of us have the opportunity to define it with such precision or personal experience as one finds in Dmitry Orlov’s forthcoming book Five Stages of Collapse: A Survivor’s Toolkit (New Society Publishers, 281 pages). I first heard of Dmitry when I was writing for From The Wilderness in 2005 after FTW published “Post-Soviet Lessons For A Post-American Century,” one of Orlov’s first articles in the United States naming our predicament and likely outcome.
A cultural flip is needed to change from impersonal, commercial relationships to personal relationships based on trust, and the first hurdle, for many people, is in understanding what trust actually is,because there is no innate human quality called trustworthiness, possessed by some people, lacking in others. Rather, it is more along the lines of a generalization concerning a given individual’s behavior over time, within a given relationship. Trust is transactional: a person needs a reason to trust you, and you need a reason to trust that person. There is, however, such a quality as trustfulness: this is the property of small children, tame animals and, most unfortunately for them, many regular, salt-of-the-earth, mainstream Americans. It is of negative survival value in the context of financial collapse.
In its stead will come a myriad of tiny polities, somesquabbling with their neighbors, some living side by side peaceably, but all incapable of launching a single aircraft carrier, never mind starting a world war. But they might be able to build some beautiful cathedrals and opera houses, lavish resources on the arts and on schools of philosophy and use artisanal methods to produce everyday items that will put to shame the mass-produced plastic rubbish of today.
By default, the procedure for those who wish to survive will be to universally disregard the old rules and to make up new rules as they go along, but this is bound to cause mayhem and much loss of life. The best-case scenario is that the old rules are consigned to oblivion quickly and decisively. The public at large will not be the major impediment to making the necessary changes. Rather, it will be the vested interests at every level — the political class, the financial elite, professional associations, property and business owners and, last but not least, the lawyers — who will try to block them at every turn. They will not release their grip on society voluntarily, so it is best to make plans to forestall and thwart their efforts….The old rules will not work, but the new ones might, depending on what they are. You might want to give the new rules some thought ahead of time, perhaps even test themout under the guise of emergency preparation training.