Olduvai on the Dnepr

SUBHEAD: An introduction to the process of the collapse of Industrialism and US world hegemony.

By Dmitry Orlov on 9 May 2017 for Club Orlov -

Image above: Not at Olduvai in Africa and nor the river Dnepr in Europe, but an illustration of a Manahattan skyline against the East River during the 1965 Northeast Blackout. Many at the time thought it was the beginning of WWIII. From original article.

[IB Publisher's note: Dmitry Orlov's website "Club Orlov" is now financially supported through the Patreon system. To read full articles you must support the website through Patreon's . I prefer James Kuntler's website (http://kunstler.com/) that is also using Patreon, but still allows reading articles without prepaying for them. I recommend supporting both authors.]

I have been in the collapse prediction business for over a decade now, with relatively good results overall.

One aspect of predicting collapses that remains troublesome is their timing. The reason why it is troublesome is well understood: collapse is a sort of phase transition, and phase transitions are notoriously difficult to time with any precision. It is also nearly impossible to establish what has triggered any one of them.

When will a raindrop of supercooled water suddenly turn into a snowflake? Only the snowflake knows. What triggered the collapse of the USSR? If you too have an opinion on the matter, please stuff it. Thank you.

Another aspect of my method that could be improved is its lack of quantitative rigor. I have been able to make a great number of fairly accurate qualitative predictions, all of them based on reasoning by analogy.

For example, after observing the collapse of the USSR and its immediate aftermath, then imagining, using thought experiments, how it would map onto the collapse of the USA, I was able to formulate something I called Superpower Collapse Soup.

Its key ingredients are: a severe shortfall in the production of crude oil, a large, systemic trade deficit, an oversized, bloated military budget, an outsized military incapable of victory, crippling levels of runaway debt and an entrenched, systemically corrupt political elite incapable of reform.

During the decade since I came up with it, the events I have predicted have been unfolding with some precision. The USA has been steadily losing its economic and military dominance; it can no longer get its way in the world diplomatically; the last straw will be the loss of its financial stranglehold over the global economy.

It is fun and instructive to watch superpowers jostling for position and eventually collapsing, but that is just a backdrop to a far more important phenomenon that is starting to unfold with increasing speed: the waning of the industrial age.

Here is another analogy: the idea that ten years from now most of the currently industrialized world will be clearly, obviously far along on the path toward deindustrialization seems just as outlandish now as the idea that the USA would rapidly lose its position as the world’s one remaining superpower seemed a decade ago when I first broached the subject.

But there is also an important difference: industrial activity is far more easily quantifiable than such matters as political and military dominance.

In particular, Richard Duncan’s Oldu vai theory provides a good guide to the upcoming events. Its longer name is “the transient-pulse theory of industrial civilization.”

Its main idea is that the industrial age will span roughly a hundred-year period, from 1930 to 2030, with a peak somewhere near the middle. His prediction is that by 2030 industrial activity will decrease to 1930 levels.

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