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The Five Stages of Collapse


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Table of Contents

Introduction: Collapses in General
What is collapse?
When will collapse occur?
What are the stages of collapse?

1. Financial Collapse
The root of the problem
The wrong math
Defaults big and small
The end of money
Options for cashing out
Alternatives to money
How we did it
Chits, specie and stock-in-trade
A likely endgame
Cold-starting instructions
Beware financial despotism
Monetary mysticism
The untrustworthy and the trustful
Case Study: Iceland

2. Commercial Collapse
Cascaded failure
Liar word: efficiency
Life upside down
The many advantages of gift
Money corrupts
Opportunities for gift-giving
Meanwhile in Soviet Russia
The new normal
A cultural flip
Case Study: The Russian Mafia

3. Political Collapse
Anarchy's charms
The nation-state fades out
National language
Taking care of your own
State religion
Life after the nation-state
The problem of excessive scale
The proliferation of defunct states
Government services disappear
Denationalization of currency
What governments are good at
Warfare becomes self-defeating
The end of law and order
The end of the welfare state
Virtualized politics
Case Study: The Pashtuns

4. Social Collapse
The limits of community planning
The new rules
Social reclamation
Religion as organizing principle
Charitable giving and taking
What society?
Case Study: The Roma

5. Cultural Collapse
Humans and other animals
The limits of language
Spoken memory
The isolated human
The primacy of family
Case Study: The Ik

About the Author

Promotional Information

A user’s guide to economic, political, social and cultural collapse.

About the Author

Dmitry Orlov is a Russian-American engineer and writer who was born in Leningrad and immigrated to the United States at the age of 12. He was an eyewitness to the collapse of the Soviet Union over several extended visits to his Russian homeland between the late eighties and mid-nineties. Orlov lives off the grid, sailing his boat up and down the Eastern Seaboard and commuting by bicycle. He believes that, given appropriate technology, we can greatly reduce personal resource consumption while remaining perfectly civilized. He is the author of Reinventing Collapse and blogs regularly at Club Orlov (www.cluborlov.com).


Review, Charlie Smith, Straight.com July 1, 2013 Five Stages of Collapse is a highly entertaining and enlightening examination of the entrails of what happens when societies are driven into the abyss by greedy, hard-hearted elites and corrupt and incompetent politicians. And if Orlov turns out to be correct, this book just might end up saving your life by revealing steps you can take to prepare for the worst. Review, Carolyn Baker, Speaking Truth to Power April 7,2013 I am a huge fan of Dmitry's work, and I must concur with Richard Heinberg who says, "Even if I believed collapse were impossible I'd still read everything Dmitry Orlov writes: he's that entertaining." Incisive articulation of reality tempered with irrepressible humor and sarcasm define his writing style and not only compel us to stay with what some describe as a "dark Russian perspective," but reveal a man who has found a way to live with what is so and navigate it with buoyant humanity. The Five Stages of Collapse is nothing less than a definitive textbook for a hypothetical course entitled "The Collapse Of Industrial Civilization 101" or perhaps a bible of sorts for an imaginary "Institute of Collapse Studies." While to my knowledge no such courses or organizations presently exist, this book would be an essential aspect of any such entity's credibility. Review, Michael C. Ruppert, April 18, 2013 The writing of this book was a rotten job, but it was absolutely necessary. If someone had to do it, I am very glad that it was Dmitry Orlov. Without his wit, alacrity and experience, the task of beating the horse of the Cartesian approach to understanding our dying world to death would have resulted in something unbearably maddening, dry and uninspiring. In this book he sneaks some LOLROF side-splitters in when you least expect them. One gathers from Orlov's painstaking efforts, the futility of looking to outdated constructs and philosophies for understanding and relief from a crisis that demands complete innovation and inspiration. Reading closely, one sees Orlov carefully planting seeds of reconciliation with our planet and each other throughout--as a fundamental baseline. He arrives at places outside the box of the current meme by using methodologies and analyses that are sacramental within the meme. That's an achievement. Perhaps in his next book he will stand on that ground more forcefully and tell us what he sees. We don't need to understand collapse right now as much as we need to survive it. And that is where Dmitry Orlov rises through the rubble and gives us magnificent gems like this: "At the rock bottom of human survival, there is no individual and there is no state; there is only the family, or, if there isn't, there is something that's not quite human--or there is nothing at all." Profound insight combined with wry humor is such an incendiary weapon I am tempted to call The Five Stages of Collapse an "Orlov Cocktail." His delivery of hard truths laced with irony saturates us in seldom reported but extremely relevant facts about the world. He is one of the best writers on the scene today, working at the top of his game. There is more to enjoy in this book with every page you turn, and in very uncertain times, Orlov's advice is, at its core, kind-spirited and extraordinarily helpful. ---Albert Bates, author, The Biochar Solution Even if I believed collapse were impossible I'd still read everything Dmitry Orlov writes: he's that entertaining. Unfortunately, however, collapse of some sort or other, of some degree or another, is almost guaranteed. Orlov does us all a great service by teasing apart the kinds and degrees of collapse so that we can prepare for what is likely and "dig in our heels" to prevent what is unsurvivable. ---Richard Heinberg, Senior Fellow, Post Carbon Institute, Author, The End of Growth

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