Dmitri Orlov

With thanks to the oil drum, I found this talk by Dmitri Orlov on web television. Mr Orlov is convinced that peak oil, economic collapse, and the example of the USSR, point to a coming US collapse.

This is not in itself a new proposition. It goes in cycles. I once heard Jack Pole, the great if somewhat curmudgeonly Americanist at Oxford, muttering about how the USA had been in decline since before it began. I also recall Paul Kennedy's tome on US decline twenty years ago, and Richard Nixon's apparent conviction forty years ago that the US was in relative decline.

However, if you want to spend a Spring evening listening in to a stimulating talk, Orlov's is the one. I am in two minds about US decline. The past ten years have thrown away the surplus and the tenuous pax americana, but perhaps they were always destined to go. There are plenty of people in America who are convinced of the theme, some flirting with fantasy secessionist ideas at the minute, and many polarising politics on the rare occasions when they engage with anyone not of their camp at all. They exist on both the right and the left. Perhaps it goes with the romanticisation of the wilderness and the Protestant approach to the City.

I was initially too dismissive of Orlov, however. I thought that he was earning some dollars in a Russian winter, with a radical proposition, and wished him well. That was wrong; he appears to be sincere, and coherent. I apologise for my cynicism. The safest thing to do is to direct you to make up your own mind.

While you are doing so, I would suggest that Metternich's old adage about Russia should be reapplied; America at any time is neither as strong nor as weak as she may appear....

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