The Roman Philosopher Lucius Anneaus Seneca (4 BCE-65 CE) was perhaps the first to note the universal trend that growth is slow but ruin is rapid. I call this tendency the "Seneca Effect."

Sunday, February 13, 2022

How we Became What we Despised. Turning the West into a New Soviet Union


For everything that happens, there is a reason for it to happen. Even for turning the former Free World into something that looks very much like the old "Evil Empire," the Soviet Union. I understand that this series of reflections will be seen as controversial, but I thought that this matter is important and fascinating enough to deserve a discussion.

It all started two years ago when we were asked to stay home for two weeks "to flatten the curve." Two years later, we are looking, bewildered, at the wreckage around us and asking ourselves: 'what the hell has happened?'

In such a short time, we found that our world had turned into something very similar to one that we used to despite. The old Soviet Union, complete with heavy-handed police, censorship of the media, criminalization of dissent, internal passports, and the state intruding on matters that, once, were thought to be part of every citizen's private decision sphere. 

Surprising, perhaps. But it is a rule of the universe that everything that happens has a reason to happen. The Soviet Union was what it was because there were reasons for it to be that. It was not an alien world populated by little green men. It was an empire similar to the Western one, just a little smaller, and it concluded its cycle a few decades before us. We can learn a lot from its story. 

Dmitri Orlov, born in Russia, was among the first who noted the parallel paths that the Western and the Soviet empire were following. His first book was titled "Reinventing Collapse" (2011). Let me propose to you an excerpt where Orlov tells us of an event he experienced in St. Petersburg in the years just after the collapse of the Union. At that time, the people who had dollars, as Orlov did, had a market power that ordinary Russians couldn't even dream of. We see here the consequences of being so rich that you don't worry about carrying small change with you. 

There was also an old woman in front of the store, selling buns from a tray. I offered her a thousand-ruble note. "Don't throw your money around!" she said. I offered to buy her entire tray. "What are the other people going to eat?" she asked. I went and stood in line for the cashier, presented my thousand-ruble note, got a pile of useless change and a receipt, presented the receipt at the counter, collected a glass of warm brown liquid, drank it, returned the glass, paid the old woman, got my sweet bun, and thanked her very much. It was a lesson in civility. 

Looks like a funny story, but it is not just that. It is a deep metaphor of how a market economy works, and also how it may NOT work. The problem is that, unless some specific conditions are met, a market economy is unstable. Money tends to end all in the hands of a few, leaving the rest with nothing. It is the law that says "the rich get richer." It has a corollary that says, "and everyone else gets poorer." 

There is only a way to avoid that a market economy leads to the rich getting everything: it is growth. If the economy grows, then the rich cannot pull money out of the market fast enough to beggar everyone else. The result is the illusion of a fair share. So, you may understand why our leaders are so fixated with growth at all costs. But don't forget that those who believe that an economy can grow forever can only be madmen or economists. 

But how do you make the economy grow? The magic word is "resources." No resources, no growth (actually, no economy, either). And if you exploit a resource faster than it can reform (it is called overexploitation), then, at some moment, the whole system will crash down. It is what happened to the Soviet Union and may well happen to us, too. But let's go in order.  

Let's go back to the story of Dmitry Orlov trying to buy a sweet bun in St. Petersburg. If the old woman had accepted Orlov's offer to buy the whole tray, the price of the buns would have skyrocketed to levels so high that nobody except him could have bought them. So, Orlov could have crashed the whole market of sweet buns of that particular place. The standard Western economic theory has that, at that moment, another old woman with another tray should have magically appeared to sell buns. Supply must always match demand: it is a postulate. But things don't work like that in the real world.

The market mechanism that matches demand and offer, the way you are taught in the Economics 101 course, can work only in conditions of relative abundance. If people have dollars, then someone will make buns for them and profit from the sales. If they only have rubles, then it may well be that nobody will bother to satisfy their demand: no profit can be made from nearly worthless rubles. 

But rubles and dollars are the same thing: pieces of paper with numbers printed on them. What makes the difference is a working -- or not working -- economy. The Russian economy after the fall of the Soviet Union wasn't working anymore: its roubles could buy little more than sweet buns and even that risked being disrupted by a rich foreigner passing by.

The problem was structural. Even before the collapse, the Soviet system couldn't produce an output large enough to sustain a free market economy. In part, it was an ideological choice, but mostly it was because it was because of the need to funnel a large fraction of production to military expenses. The Soviet Union was rich in natural resources, especially mineral ones. That was an advantage, but also a temptation for other countries to invade it. The idea of turning Russia into "the world's gas station" is recent, but it was around already long ago. And that was not just a temptation: over a couple of centuries, Russia, was invaded several times, the last time in 1941. If there ever was an "existential risk" for a country, that was it. The invading Germans had clearly stated that their plan was to exterminate some 20-30 million of Soviet citizens. 

The consequence is obvious: in order to survive, the Soviet Empire had to match the rival Western Empire in military terms. But the Soviet economy was much smaller: we can roughly estimate that it always was no more than about 40% of the US economy, alone. To match the huge Western economic and military machine, the Soviet Union needed to dedicate a large fraction of its economic output into the military system. Measuring this fraction has never been easy, but we can say that in absolute terms the Soviet military expenses nearly matched those of the US, although still remaining well below those of the NATO block. Another rough estimate is that during the cold war the Soviet Union spent about 20% of its gross domestic product on its military. Compare with the US: after WW2, military spending went gradually down from about 10% to the current value of about 2.4%. In relative terms, during the cold war, the USSR would normally spend four times more than the US for its military.

In a free-market economy, these huge military expenses would have drained the market of resources, beggaring a large fraction of the Soviet citizens. To keep the market functioning, the Soviet government had to play the role of the wise old woman in Orlov's story. It used its "five-year plans" to make sure that sweet buns for the Soviet citizens were produced, that is, the fundamental needs for life: food, shelter, clothing, fuel, and vodka.  

The five-year plans also had the purpose to limit the production of items that were considered "luxuries." For instance, the Soviet Union was a producer of caviar and, nominally, the price of caviar was low enough that most Soviet citizens could afford it. But caviar was not normally available in shops. When a batch of caviar tins appeared, people would stand in line hoping that there would remain a few cans left for when their turn came. This feature avoided that the rich could corner the caviar market, driving prices sky-high, just like Dmitry Orlov could have done with the sweet buns. It also had the effect of giving Soviet citizens the illusion that their rubles were worth something. But they understood that the ruble was a form of "funny money," not the same thing as the mighty dollar. Soviet people used to say "they pretend to pay us, and we pretend to work," and they were perfectly right. The ruble was a limited kind of money: it couldn't be always be used to buy what one wanted (just like when the Western government locked their citizens in their homes: they had money, but they couldn't use it). 

Now the pieces of the puzzle go to their places. The need for a tight control of the economy shaped the Soviet society: the media were controlled, censorship enacted, dissent criminalized, and more. Those who publicly disagreed that communism was the best possible government were considered to have psychiatric problems thanks to a subservient medical establishment. Then, they could be hospitalized, sometimes for life. (I know that it looks very much like.... you know what, but let's keep going).

Not only the Soviet system was strained to the limit, but it was also critically dependent on the availability of cheap resources. So, it was vulnerable to depletion, probably the factor that caused its collapse in the late 1980s. It is not that the Soviet Union ran out of anything, but the costs of natural resources simply became incompatible for the Soviet economy. Later on, the core of the Soviet Empire, Russia, could return to being a functioning state only because it didn't have to pay the enormous costs related to keeping an empire together.  

On the other side of the iron curtain, the relatively low military expenses and abundant natural resouces made it possible for the American citizens (most of them, at least) to enjoy an extravagant lifestyle, unthinkable elsewhere in the world. They lived in suburban houses, had two cars in every garage, could go wherever they wanted, had overseas vacations every year, could buy whatever they wanted without standing in line. The US citizens could even afford a certain degree of variety in the information they received. The state control on the media was enacted in subtle ways, giving citizens the illusion that they were not exposed to propaganda.

It was the kind of lifestyle that president Bush said was "not up for negotiation" -- except that when you deal with Nature, everything is up to negotiation.

The current problem is that the resources that made the West so rich and so powerful, mainly crude oil and other fossil fuels, are not infinite. They are being depleted, and production costs increase with depletion. And that's not the only problem: something else is choking the Western economic system: it is the enormous cost of the health care system

In 2018, the US spent $3.6 trillion in health costs, nearly 18% of its GDP. Today, it is probably slightly more than that. Yes, health costs in the US are nearly ten times larger than military costs. It is probably not a coincidence that troubles started to appear when these costs reached the same level, about 20%, of the military expenses for the Soviet Union. 

Someone has to pay for those costs and, as always, the task falls on the middle class which becomes poorer and poorer. On one extreme of the wealth distribution curve, former middle class citizens are losing everything and are being gradually squeezed out of the market. And here is the problem: those who have no money to spend can't buy their sweet buns. They become "non-people," aka, "deplorables." What is to be done with them? A possible solution (that I am sure some elites are contemplating), is just to let them die and cease to be a problem (it is the zombie scenario). But we are not there, yet. The elites themselves don't want the chaos that would result from starving a large fraction of the citizens. How to avoid that?

The solution is well known from ancient times: it is rationing. The Romans had already developed a system called "Annona" that distributed food to the poor. During WW2, the US had ration books, ration stamps and other forms of rationing. Food stamps were introduced at that time, and they still exist. The Soviets used a kind of funny money called "ruble." In the West, rationing seems to be a silly idea but it was done during WW2 and, if there is a serious economic crash -- as it is perfectly possible -- it can return. It must return because, without rationing, we'll have the zombie apocalypse all over simply because there is no mechanism in place to limit those who still have money from hoarding all they can, when they can. 

That explains many of the things we have seen happening: whereas the Soviet Government acted by restricting supply, the Western ones seem to find it easier to restrict demand -- it is the same thing: it means cooling the economy by reducing consumption. The lockdowns of 2020 seem to have had exactly that purpose, as argued convincingly by Fabio Vighi. Their effect was to reduce consumption, and avoid a crash of the REPO market that seemed to be imminent. 

Once you start thinking in these terms, you see how more pieces of the puzzle fall to their places. The West is moving to reorganize its economy in a more centrally controlled manner, as argued, among others, by Shoshana Zuboff. That means chocking private consumption and using the remaining resources to keep the system alive facing the twin threat of depletion and pollution, the latter also in the form of climate change.  

It is happening, we see it happening, Note that it is probable that there is no "command center" somewhere that dictated the various actions that governments took over the last two years. It was just a series of common interests among different lobbies that happened to align with each other. The financial lobby was terrified of a new financial crash, worse than that of 2008, and pushed for the control of the economy. The pharmaceutical lobby saw a chance to obtain huge profits from forcing medical treatments on everyone. And states saw their chance to gain control of their citizens at a level they couldn't have dreamed of before. The epidemic was just a trigger that led these lobbies with similar goals to act in concert. 

Lockdowns were just a temporary test. The final result was the "vaccination QR code." At present, it has been imposed as a sanitary measure, but it can be used to control all economic transactions, that is what individuals can or cannot buy. It is much better than the lines in front of shops of the old Soviet Union, so it may be used to ration essential goods before the zombies start marching. 

Does that mean that the QR code is a good thing? No, but do not forget the basic rule of the universe: for everything that happens there is a reason. Before the current crisis, the Western society had embarked on a free ride of wasteful consumption: it was good as long as it lasted. Now, it is the time of reckoning. In this sense, if the QR code were used for the good of society, it could be a fundamental instrument to avoid waste, reduce pollution, provide at least a basic supply of goods for everyone.  

But the QR can do that only if the citizens trust their government and governments trust their citizens. Here, we see the limits of the Western approach to governance. During the past decades, the Western governments couldn't do anything important without imposing it on their citizens by a shock-and-awe campaign of lies. That was the way in which governments imposed QR codes or, better said, they are trying to impose QR codes. The problem is that, over the years, the Western Governments have managed to lie to their citizens so many times that nowadays they have no credibility anymore.  

So, what's going to happen? Several scenarios are possible. The Western governments may succeed in their "sovietization" of society. That would mean a heavy crackdown on all forms of communication not directly controlled by the government and the criminalization of all dissent. The government may not necessarily need to arrive to concentration camps or to mass exterminations, but it might. In this case, after that the dust settles, we face at least a few decades of Soviet-like life. The government will use QR codes to control everything we do. If you dissent or protest, you'll risk being declared officially insane, and be subjected to mandatory psychiatric treatment in a hospital, or exiled in the Western equivalent of Siberia, or worse. Even if you are not branded as insane, you'll still be forced to submit to whatever medical treatment the pharmaceutical industry will decide is good for you. Bad, but at least you'll have something to eat and a roof under which to sleep. Don't forget that the Soviet Union survived for about 70 years and, in some periods, even prospered. 

That's not the only possible outcome. We might just sidestep the "Soviet" phase and move directly to the "post-Soviet" one. It would mean the collapse of the Western Empire, fragmenting into smaller states. That may imply severe political disturbance and civil wars are perfectly possible. The transition will be tough: it is not obvious that you'll have sweet buns for your breakfast. But after the "hot" phase, the lower governance costs of smaller state could allow them to recover and rebuild a functioning economy, at least in part, just like Russia did (but there is also the example of Ukraine). 

But history never repeats: it just rhymes. So, the Soviet system is just one of the many possible ways that a state can control the supply of goods to society. There may be other ways: after all, there was no Internet at the time of the Soviet Union. There were only the "media" which could be hijacked by the state and controlled from above: a "vertical" communication system. Instead, the Web is naturally a horizontal communication system. Controlling the Web may turn out to be difficult for states, perhaps impossible despite the unleashing of legions of those demonic creatures called "fact-checkers."  Because of the complexity and the versatility of the communication system available today, the Western society might manage to avoid the heavy top-down control that eventually led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. Just maybe.

The future is full of surprises and, who knows? It may even surprise us in a pleasant manner. We might perhaps escape the "Great Reset" and move to the "Great Awakening."


  1. Reading gulag archipelago by Aleksandr Solzenitsyn and have read Orlov's book, kind of scary no matter which way things go.

  2. No comments yet, so I'll try one. Awhile back there was a few minutes of Internet fame associated with a paper called "Crash on Demand" that you may recall. It was an ecological thought experiment at the time.

    The core argument,IIRC, was that middle class Westerners could, by not buying things for even a short period, cause such a collapse of Capitalism that it would never recover its wasteful ways.

    The quarantine provided such an event as a natural experiment.

    Rather than crashing, the economy in the states kept plugging along with people buying from Amazon instead of their local shops.

    More trucks burning diesel fuel, more one way packaging going to the landfill, and many smaller businesses destroyed in favor of a few mega corporations that took over more market share seems to have been the outcome.
    Government money printing and inflation may be partly responsible, but it seems more like a feedback effect of reduced demand to me.

  3. How we Became What we Used to Despise - Turning the West into a New Soviet Union

    This is an old school of thinking - viewing and understanding our history...

    The newer emerging line of thinking is that - what is called the Soviet Union has been no more than an experiment and tool, created, choreographed and then shut down on-demand by the West - itself.

    That is not the scariest part of how finite fossil fuels have made the West illusion itself to think it is smart, doing useful work and time-proof, though, so far;

    Come and see what the West is brewing in the Middle East all last decades - a new breed, ready to be unleashed on humanity:

    Forcefully nurturing Terrorism in test tube-camps and villages* - likely to hand over soon to those terrorist groups a direct Control over territories and nations all over the world - including all rich and only remaining natural resources inside those geographies...

    That would be another silly choreography, similar to that of the Soviet Union - yet far more harsh, inhumane and brutal.

    "The solution is well known from ancient times: it is rationing" - but not any rationing...

    Rationing practiced ignoring the laws of Physics - is not rationing at all, but rather a savage, inhumane Energy Hunger Game.

    Our Western Civilisation and Leaders are not knowing what they are doing, thinking the old trick of creating, exploiting and then shutting down on-demand Gulag systems - like the Soviet Union, China, N. Korea, Islamic Iran, Saddam Hussain's Iraq and now - a globe under Terrorism - has proved successful...


    Since Jevons' Coal Question in the 1860s, all the West was doing is burning finite fossil fuels like no tomorrow to waste - and illusion itself - it is smart, successful and worth the respect.

    Actually, the only smart, successful and worth-respect - is fossil fuels, though - the West is a severely mentally compromised entity - the more finite fossil fuels deplete, the more it becomes phobic and mentally compromised.

    Now try and convince the West - that it is mentally-compromised and it needs an immediate help from a doctor...

    That wouldn't happen unless all finite fossil fuel reserves worldwide are destroyed - by that same mentally-compromised West - to the ground

    "In an Energy system, Control is what consumes Energy the most [- no rationing exercised by a mentally-compromised system can ever change that Physics, even if you kill Iraqis, Saudis, Russians, Kazakhs, Americans, Canadians, Australians and others - for their resources - 1000 times over].

    Energy, like time, flows from past to future


    * In earlier similar local TV reports, a number of female residents of these test-tube, Petri Dish camps, which some of them appeared truly Caucasians, with children, likely from East Europe or Central Asia - have been interviewed - where they expressed heart breaking calls to let them return to their home-countries, including Russia!

    Residents of these conditioning/training camps are not allowed to quit the experiment - they have to finish participating in the programme to the end - and so the rest of humanity - afraid.

  4. Ringrazio per la lucidità e lo sguardo disincantato
    con cui prospetta quello
    che potrebbe avvenire. E' sempre bene distinguere
    fra quello che si desidererebbe e quello che invece si ritiene possa
    plausibilmente avvenire.

    Forse se il razionamento fosse stato presentato
    apertamente, avrei potuto accettarlo ed anche
    trovarlo una misura dolorosa ma necessaria.

    Ovviamente l'elite non può e non potrà fare una simili retromarcia
    sugli ideali di ier l'altro e ne emergerebbe ancor più screditata...
    e già non sta conciata bene.
    E la prima preoccupazione di chi sta ai vertici è di rimanervi.
    Però in questi mesi ho raccolto troppe storie dolorose.
    Un collega che ha litigato con la moglie incinta perché,
    lei per lavorare ha deciso di bucarsi, durante la gravidanza,
    un'altra collega che dopo l'ago ha avuto reazioni tali
    da non voler più rischiare senza riuscire a trovare uno
    straccio di medico disposto ad esonerarla
    I poveri medici temono la verifica dei nas!
    Questa collega se ne è dovuta rimanere a casa senza stipendio.
    E poi badanti che sono state licenziate e mia moglie
    innafiata con gli idranti ed i lacrimogeni al porto.
    Quindi non mi chieda di avallare tutto questo.
    Io ormai sono fra quelli che rischiano il gulag,
    quindi non sono più disposto a puntellare il sistema,
    preferisco vederlo ammalarsi, peggiorare e collassare,
    anche se anche questa seconda possibilità è altrettanto terrificante e
    allarmante della prima.

    Ma fra tanti medici lei mi sembra l'unico con
    il polso del paziente conclamatamente malato, tale Mr. West

  5. I know what I'll be doing after the crash.

    Selling Sweet Buns!

    On Moore Street in Dublin

    3 for a 100 Rubles!

  6. Tried to find this to post on your newest, may have lost my comment: of course there is a command central...the WEF....This video is well worth an hour if you haven't watched.

    Have more to say about your newest post, but later.

    History of how we got here....stupid, fearful Americans....pathetic. 1 hour video

    Political decisions during the Corona crisis did not come out of the blue. The "war on viruses" began back in the 1990s as the "war on bioterror." Research shows: For more than twenty years since then, pandemic scenarios have been repeatedly rehearsed in simulation exercises, first in the U.S., later coordinated internationally. The titles of these exercises are reminiscent of Hollywood productions: "Dark Winter" (2001), "Global Mercury" (2003), "Atlantic Storm" (2005) or "Clade X" (2018). High-ranking government representatives as well as well-known journalists were involved, most recently, at "Event 201" in October 2019, also board members of large global corporations. After the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a coronavirus pandemic in 2020, many of the measures that had been rehearsed and discussed for years were implemented globally. Passages like the following appeared in scripts as early as 20 years ago: "The sight of an armed military presence in US cities has provoked protests about curtailment of civil liberties (...) The question is, however, how do we enforce it and to what degree? How much force do you use to keep people in their homes?" In the event of a pandemic, "basic civil liberties such as freedom of assembly or travel" could no longer „taken for granted". Restrictions on liberty, as well as mass vaccinations, were regular features of the planning games. This lecture will chronologically trace how these exercises came about, who organized them, and what parallels the scripts have to the current situation. Is the virus just a pretext for a longer-planned global transformation? And was a severe stock market quake in September 2019 perhaps the real trigger for the global lockdown? Table of contents: 0:00:00 Pandemic exercisces - Preparation for a new era? 0:02:23 Era of the Cold War 1945 - 1990 0:05:05 The USA without an enemy 0:17:05 Bioterror exercises 1990 - 2005 0:23:51 The Exercise “Dark Winter” 0:30:44 Emergency plans for bioterror and flu pandemics 0:35:40 Interim conclusion 0:38:40 “Lock Step-Scenario” 2010 0:44:38 “MARS” and the G20 Health Minister meeting in Berlin 0:50:35 Why the Corona Pandemic startet in 2020 0:58:19 “Event 201“ - Training with a Corona pandemic +++

    ----- Original message -----
    From: Christine Eleanor Anderson
    To: Christine Eleanor Anderson
    Subject: Re: Pandemic simulations preparations
    Date: Wednesday, January 12, 2022 11:18 AM

    On Wed, Jan 12, 2022, at 11:17 AM, Christine Eleanor Anderson wrote:

  7. There's almost too much to say about this to start. In the first place, the globalists intend to disassemble Russia and then will have room for infinite growth and exploitation for themselves, as they kill off the "useless eaters" by other means. The complication of Putin's alliance with Xi has started to tell in that the campaign to undermine Xi has started (did you note Soro's attack on Xi and the need for regime change?...but then, Andre just wrote a piece on the 5th and 6th columns in Russia too).Rationing will never apply to the elite in the Bezos said, pointedly, the precious earth will be preserved for the privileged few and everyone else will live in outer space. In short, what will be rationed will be life itself. If you think even for a minute that the WEF which managed to practice the vaccine panics and lockdowns, groom and buyout the leaders like Trudeau and the EU, for 20 years with no one noticing it will be stopped by any puny little citizen are kidding someone.

    But on to another point: you have to deliver yourself to the medical establishment in order for them to have power over you and suck up this kind of money. I have been thinking about my father recently, as I go about my own little farming endeavor. He was the sole worker on our farm in Illinois in the 50s...the carpenter, the electrician, the mechanic, the grower and he worked the factory part time if he needed to. He was also the basic doctor to all of us kids...We did not run to the doctor for much of anything. There weren't prescriptions around the house.

    People are groomed to dependency on the medical industrial complex and their own inability to think. My dogs can't even eat the beans and oatmeal from the grocery stores without getting sick. What do you think this does to kids? So it starts with poisoned food, concealed as healthy which it is not, forget about junk food per se which has poisoned much of Mexico since NAFTA and from which much of the covid disaster stems...

    But it goes much further...I speak as someone who lived through medical school, internship and residency with my high school sweetheart, lived with the inventor of the artificial heart through the Barney Clark horror story, rejected Western cancer meds with 3/4 stage breast cancer. Why do you think people would be stupid enough to take an experimental injection from a criminal cartel: because they are trained to not think. They want a pill and ask for a my former husband would have said...they want a pill...they don't want to change their lifestyle to think...well, of course, about half of the US has said no, so there is hope that there is some thought process left in the country, and more of Mexico has ignored the "shot" and the indigenous tied the vaccine visitors to trees and took their money before they sent them packing. There's hope, if the WEF doesn't Agent Orange the terrain.

    There are still some people in the US who are wise and some who are protecting their children from the depredations of modern "medicine" only support those expense figures if you turn yourself over to the monster...and I've had some emergency situations where I had to, and had no choice, but left fast...NO, I didn't have to have radiation and chemo and drugs. NO, I did not. But you have to say it and you have to have the guts to decide to not let them have power over you.

    We have become what we used to despise because we are lazy, greedy fools who don't think. The hopeful thought it that an awful lot of people are walking away from the system and refusing to be part of it, as I did on my long, frightening journey many years ago. Maybe they will survive the kill off and coming disasters. Maybe overreach, hubris, climate change or war will kill off the's going to take something huge to stop these totalitarian monsters. As Arendt says...the totalitarian demands world dominion. They plan to be in complete control by 2030.

  8. Hello Ugo,
    Thanks for this perspective. I think there are many insights that can be learned from the Soviet empire dysfunction, and parallels with the current state of the West.

    I like very much the metaphors of David Graeber and Yannis Varoufakis - we are already far into a novel feudal era, with monopolies reminiscent of the Soviet vassal empire. Instead of Ministry of Search, we have Gargle. Instead of the Ministry of Commerce, we have The River.
    The corporations are mainly a way to distribute loot and wealth to willing participants. Rationing is currently applied in the form of minimum wage.

    I do think that there are many alternatives, both on small and large scale. We can organize collective action and remove elements from the market. The work of prof. Bas van Bavel (e.g. The Invisible Hand) shows that there are many historical examples of collective actions to limit the power of the market. Therefore, I am not convinced of your statement:
    "There is only a way to avoid that a market economy leads to the rich getting everything: it is growth."
    I agree that growth helps to hide, and to simplify the wealth concentration. But just as important is the propaganda that "There Is No Alternative", and people losing the power of imagination that things could be in any other way.

    Let's all organize more collective withdrawals from the market! Guilds, cooperatives, unions etc.
    I am active in several local cooperatives, and I purchase a lot of food directly from farmers I know.

    Good luck to all, in creating a small and local better place for the post-Empire world!


  9. Ah, Dmitry Orlov. I had been a fan of his since reading his original “Collapse Gap” essay online in the mid-2000s comparing the decline of the USSR to the (likely worse) implosion of the U.S. Empire. (Underway as we speak, just slower than in the USSR) I was living in Vancouver (the Canadian one) when he was doing the book tour for “Reinventing” in 2011 and drove across the border to see him speak on an island in the Puget Sound that could only be reached by ferry boats. I’ll go a long way to meet bloggers I admire. You’re easier to talk to than rock stars because you’re not surrounded by groupies or amped up on illegal drugs.

    His follow-up book, “The Five Stages of Collapse” is on my mind these days. Humanity seems to be going through several at once (Orlov never thought they’d play out one by one). I’d say there is a strong whiff of “social collapse” happening right now. Our venal rulers -- supported by a lot of the population who feel the same way -- are content to let old folks and people sick with other diseases like diabetes and bad hearts just get sick and die from Covid. Because it’s more important to not get in the way of Business! It’s the literal expression of “profits are more important than lives.” That’s the mark of a decaying society.

    Unlike my mate Simon on his blog down here, I do not view the pandemic through the lens of “perception mismanagement” by the QR-captivated authorities. There have been plenty of idiotic moves by governments, for sure. That’s less important than the physical reality of what’s happening, though. Covid is a illness of the body. It isn’t killing lots of people quickly like Ebola, but it’s knocking off plenty who wouldn’t be dying right now if they didn’t have the virus in them. And the “it-ain’t-so-badders” ignore the issue of Long Covid, which might leave 20% of the population as walking wounded with deficient lungs, inflamed hearts, damaged kidneys and fogged brains.

    In that regard, I’d say the “free world” is WORSE than the USSR. As crappy as the Soviet commies were, they would not have blithely allowed large segments of the population to perish from a preventable disease with an attitude of “oh well, what can we do, comrades?” (Aside from Stalin eliminating the kulaks during the Holodomor, of course, and his other inexcusable atrocities against class enemies.) By the latter stages of the Soviet Empire, they were not so massively murderous. Shabby and poor, for sure, but the Politburo didn’t have an official policy of “Go die, the lot os you. We don’t care.”

    Sadly, the one country that is doing best in all of this is the last commie giant standing, Red China. Yes, the same one that let 25 million people starve to death during Mao’s “Great Leap Forward” famines. They seem to have learned a few things since then. It’s still a totalitarian, polluted Orwellworld in many ways, but damned if the Chicoms aren’t doing their best to keep their people alive these days. Even though that means Clampdowns backed by an iron fist which would make Westerners squeal. How bizarre is that, that the Reds care more for the lives of their minions than rulers of democracies do for theirs? That’s why, repulsive as it seems, the 21st will be the Chinese Century (as much as global warming and resource depletion will allow.) China might not be a land of glorious freedom and human rights, but it will be the Last Man Standing in a planet full of decimated, disease-staggered zombies.

  10. And while I’m going on about Orlov (separate comment due to Blogger’s word-count limits) I’ll mention the reaction of a Russian co-worker I tried to share “Reinventing Collapse” with. Piotr (not his real name, but close) is is psychiatric nurse n his 30s, born in Vladivostok, married to a Chinese woman, immigrated to Australia, has a young child and wants more. Smart, well-traveled fellow. We often talk politics.

    He had never heard of Peak Oil or the “Limits To Growth” book. I often bring these topics up with people I meet, especially Peak Oil. I don’t bang on about them because no one likes a boring, long-winded Doomer. But I feel like I should at least alert people about what’s going on. Like that predicting woman from Greek mythology whose name escapes me at the moment...

    Anyway, because Orlov is quite pro-Russian in his outlook, I brought my copy of “Reinventing” to work one day, autographed by Dmitry and everything. Handballed it to Piotr, who had a quick skim of it in the break room. But he gave it back after 5 minutes. Too negative, he doesn’t have time to read books with a young one to look after, and he regards me as silly with my bleak outlook. Another time when I brought up “Limits To Growth” he said I was like the backward-looking “potato war” peasants in Czarist Russia. They reacted badly when that tuber was introduced in the 1600s because their religious superstition said potatoes were descended from the apple that Eve took in the Garden of Eden. The fact that they grew underground was evidence that they were the fruits of Satan. So I’m like a Potato Denialist? Our debates are friendly, and we agree to razz each other.

    I find that most people under 40 years old are deaf to the message of people like Orlov and yourself, Prof. Bardi. They are techno-utopians with dreams that lithium and hydrogen will save the current pattern of civilisation. They don’t have any counter-arguments when I raise the issue of resource limitations, just a faith that smart people will think of something. I don’t hammer them over the head with it. Why harsh their buzz? They will be the ones riding in the car as it goes over Seneca’s Cliff, but all they will be looking at is the open sky through the windscreen.

    Oddly, the people who are best able to accept Peak Oil and Limits To Growth are mental patients. I chat to them about this stuff too if they can handle it. Not the severely depressed ones though, because I don’t want to make them more suicidal! For the psych patients, their world has already fallen apart. This reality is not working so well for them, so they don’t have trouble imagining that Bad Things can happen on a large scale. Funny thing, eh, when the crazies are willing to contemplate reality and the normies (not just my fellow nurses, but doctors too) look at me like I’m crazy when I start talking about the real future...

    1. "because Orlov is quite pro-Russian in his outlook"...
      Turns out Dmitry Orlov is (and in fact, always was) a Russian nationalist and Putin propagandist. That doesn't invalidate all of what he said and wrote about collapse, but probably means that a lot of it was (geo)politically motivated.

    2. This. Orlov hates America. He claims to understand America but his accent betrays him. He does not think like an American. He is a Soviet-style engineer who thinks his superior mind. My ancestors from central Europe were Americans in thinking even before they arrived on these shores. Orlov will never understand the American ethos and therefore should be taken with a huge grain of salt.

  11. ... and I think we started building Gulag already in 2001, as part of the "war on terror" (a.k.a. war to secure oil).
    The Guantanamo Bay is just the center of a vast archipelago of CIA torture units to which "people's enemies" were brought using "extraordinary rendition" flights. As far as I gather, all Western governments were complicit.
    We are already twenty years into the Dark Empire...

  12. Dear Mr Bukko,
    This resonates with me: "I find that most people under 40 years old are deaf to the message of people like Orlov and yourself, Prof. Bardi. "

    It took me almost until my 40th birthday before I could see what is really going on in the world. I had been marinated in techno-narcissistic propaganda since a young age and had pursued a well paid career in robotics/sensors/industrial R&D. I thought I was one of the heroes, one of the smart ones who "thinks of something". Then I realized that it all was a Potemkin-facade of wishful thinking and outsourcing of pollution and resource depletion.
    For me, the turning point was when I was in China and faced the pollution that we have moved to that country.

    Technology and science and knowledge gives leverage. It makes us stronger. But since we use our super powers for stupid pursuits, it makes us just a lot more stupid.

    Thanks again,

  13. Since China has come up, I will say that I was there once on a two week tourist trip, and have a strong belief that the "Chinese Miracle" that fuels the "Chinese Dream" was actually pure bare knuckle Capitalism in spite of what the party says.
    They went from a poor medieval peasant economy to a modern manufacturing economy (the world's largest) in one or two generations. At a horrible cost, but they did it.

    Somehow, we need to control the excesses of Capitalism while retaining it's ability to transform the world.

    I have no idea how we can do that ...

  14. "the Chicoms are[] doing their best to keep their people alive these days. Even though that means Clampdowns backed by an iron fist which would make Westerners squeal."

    Wow. How do you top this insanity?


  15. The total deaths in the US for 2020 were only slightly greater than in 2019, and that differential easily explained by the refusal to use effective methods...Ivermectin, Vitamin D and HCl...against it, and the use of the deadly remdesvir and ventilators instead...So Covid was no worse than ordinary flu.
    But in 2021 with the vaccine rollout, life insurance claims skyrocketed by an average of 40%, and now the major insurance companies are buying expensive reinsurance for the future...So there was nothing benign or accidental about this whole catastrophic episode...