The United States is now facing a predicament similar to the one the Soviet Union confronted some two decades ago. There is a great deal of discussion, among those few who try to think for themselves, about the right way to respond to the permanent energy crisis that has already started to grip the country. The entire American way of life is an artificial life support system that runs on fossil fuels, and it is going to get knocked out as these fuels run low. Of the few people who have any notion that this is happening, even fewer can imagine what might come next, beyond the gut feeling that it will be unpleasant. - Dmitry Orlov, Our VillageDmitry Orlov is the general director of the Agency of Political and Economic Communications, a Moscow based think-tank. Earlier this year, From the Wilderness published his essay, "Post-Soviet Lessons for a Post-American Century":
Through his comparison and contrast of the Former Soviet Union to the U.S., Dmitry provides us with one of the most penetrating analyses of post-peak that I have read. This article is packed with original insights derived from personal experience. The picture which Dmitry paints is unsettling, but it is far better than jumping feet first into darkness. The impending breakdown of the US and world economies is here clarified to the point that you can begin to prepare for this eventuality. And this article gives some of the most practical suggestions on how to prepare.Orlov's essay is in three parts and takes a while to read, but it is time well spent. I don't necessarily agree with all his points, but he gives us much to ponder. I've been thinking for some time -- especially in the past five years -- that preparing for a self-sustaining livelihood may not be such a bad idea.
Before presenting the article, perhaps we should emphasize one major difference between the collapse of the Soviet Union and the dissolution which now confronts us. Russia was able to survive the collapse and stage a comeback because it was largely a political and economic collapse. Russia still had a rich resource base, and most importantly vast energy reserves. Moreover, it was a regional collapse; there was a healthy world outside of Russia to which it could turn for aid, albeit at an exploitive price. Following the global peak of oil and the worldwide, irreversible decline in energy production, there will be little left on which to stage a comeback. Any economy which is dependent on hydrocarbon energy will be slowly constricted. Dmitry mentions this in his article, but it bears repeating. In this sense, the collapse of the Soviet Union could be viewed as a dress rehearsal for what is to come. - Dale Allen Pfeiffer, FTW Science Editor