Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Does the five-stage collapse model still make sense?

2022-06-21

It’s been 14 years since I wrote the article “The Five Stages of Collapse” which I subsequently turned into a book, which, in turn, was published in a dozen languages. The idea was generally well received. It was a way of systematizing what to most minds was and is an unpredictable and chaotic process. It was also an idealization (which is engineering-speak for a gross oversimplification made for the sake of explaining a concept or making a quick, although inaccurate, calculation).

I based my five stages of collapse (financial, commercial, political, social and cultural) on Elizabeth Kübler-Ross’s five stages of the grieving process (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance) but the similarity is superficial: yes, there are five of them and yes, they are sad things; count them and weep. But then it is also like the now outdated waterfall model of software development (gather requirements, write design, code, test/debug, launch)—and, again, weep, because by the time you are done the requirements most definitely will have changed.

While weeping profusely and cursing their fate, software project managers came up with some palliative measures: phased development, beta versions, soft launches, etc. But in the end the fashion shifted to agile development, where development teams implement a limited set of features by a certain deadline, then repeat. As requirements change and new features are grafted on top of old, the software accumulates cruft, or scar tissue, in the form of dead code, huge bloated libraries of functions that are barely used, other gross inefficiencies and generally stupid ways of doing things. All of these have to be removed through a painstaking process called refactoring, which grows ever more complex and error-prone over time.

Eventually the software system forms a big ball of mud where subtle bugs are lurking everywhere and everything is connected to everything else in inexplicable ways. It is then time to rewrite the whole system from scratch, but since by then nobody fully knows what this software is supposed to do any more, this cannot be done either. And then it’s time for the project managers to go back to weeping profusely while cursing their fate.

I would like to develop a more agile model of collapse than the rather rigid framework of the five stages, based on examining synergies of decay and ecosystems of collapse. In the meantime, the staged model of collapse still seems to have merit:

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The Morbidity and Mortality of Western Civilization

2022-06-11

Can we seriously entertain the thought that the collective West—its politics, economics, culture and society—are all inexorably and single-mindedly heading toward their death? What a crazy, outlandish idea that is! But what if, after carefully considering all of the available evidence, that conclusion becomes inevitable?

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How blaming Putin is helping Putin

2022-06-06

The systemic crisis which we are currently witnessing in the West (and in other parts of the world that are too tightly interconnected with the West to avoid experiencing it as well) is objectively being caused by the West itself. But Westerners, being unaccustomed to acknowledging their mistakes (being all superior, indispensable and infallible-like in their own addled minds), are forced to resort to explaining away their epic failures in virtually every sphere by blaming it all on Putin. That is, they don’t even blame Russia in general, but blame Putin personally; after all, Russia can be good and agreeable at times (as it was under Gorbachev and Yeltsin) but Putin makes it misbehave. That’s why it’s all got to be Putin’s fault.

Here’s what it’s come to: an entire President of the United States (or whoever runs his teleprompter), who, in the course of his election campaign, swore up and down that he will take responsibility for whatever happens under his command, now blames “Putin’s Price Hike” so regularly and monotonously that the phrase has become a meme.

By now the narrative of “it’s all Putin’s fault” has spread to encompass all of the more sensitive problems: inflation, fuel prices, food price hikes and even… shortages of baby formula! It turns out that the shortages aren’t caused by the discovery of dangerous bacteria in the products of a monopoly producer but by shortages of imported sunflower oil from… the Ukraine. That’s according to the Wall Street Journal, no less! The logical steps needed to make it all Putin’s fault are then obvious: the shortages are because of the war and the war is Putin’s fault.

This wonderful strategy works just fine for the short term, but it has a major vulnerability in the longer term because of a certain mechanism of mass psychology. Superficially, it is simple and seemingly bulletproof: Putin is irrational; he has imperial ambitions, suffers from paranoia, delusions of grandeur, is obsessed with restoring the USSR… Since his motives are irrational, they cannot be dealt with through rational means such as negotiation, diplomacy, compromise and so on. Putin is a crazy dictator with lots of nuclear missiles and so all we can do is suffer. This construct seems good enough for most purposes, such as explaining away social problems, economic issues and failures of leadership. But only in the short term.

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Beyond Mere Stupidity

2022-06-03

In one of my previous articles, I asked, only half-jokingly, what might explain the rationale behind the steadfast American effort, spanning over three decades, to Make Russia Great Again. Is it mere stupidity? Are there Putin’s “little green men” infesting the inner sanctum of the American deep state, perhaps? Or does the problem have to do with an inner mechanism of the American political psyche? Or perhaps it’s just a matter of there existing certain axioms which must be accepted unquestioningly, or a fixed algorithm that must be followed, no matter how repetitively bad the results may be?

The theory of mere stupidity does not satisfy; even very stupid people eventually learn not to step on the same rake again. The theory of there being Russia’s “little green men” toiling tirelessly within the bowels of Deep State does not appear amenable to either verification or falsification, so we’ll set it aside as well. The basic axiom is that America is the greatest and most powerful nation on earth and therefore always victorious. If it is not victorious (as in Korea, Vietnam, Syria, Afghanistan or any number of smaller conflicts) then the algorithm is to have a stiff drink and re-read the basic axiom.

The deep dark mystery of the American political psyche is that the world outside the United States—even Canada and Mexico, not to mention fabled mangled lands such as Iranq or Afghanturkmentajikipakistan—does not really exist. These are all but flickering images, visible today (while the story of America being victorious there is still plausible) and gone tomorrow (when it’s time to consign that story to oblivion). This is all pretty obvious and we have all seen it many times. But when it comes to Russia, this axiom and this algorithm don’t work.

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De Odio

2022-05-31

Lately Dmitry Anatolievich Medvedev, elder statesman of Russian politicum, has taken to issuing short encyclicals, a sort of urbi et orbi, that are really quite interesting because they let us look into the mindset currently shared by a large majority of Russians starting at the highest levels. Since this mindset clashes with the dominant narrative perforce endlessly repeated by all public figures in the West, it is deemed unacceptable and is steadfastly ignored. Is that a safe thing to do? Somehow I doubt it! Those who insist on operating with incomplete and faulty information make bad decisions and create bad outcomes for themselves. But it gets worse: while wallowing in the putrid bath of predicaments of their own making, they will discover that they have earned the Russians’ hate and that the Russians have been planning to take revenge on them.

Medvedev’s words are like a subzero arctic gale blowing toward you from the boundless frozen tundra of Russian thought. While playing tag team with Putin—trading places as president and head of government—Medvedev positioned himself as a liberal pro-Westerner. We will never know how much of that was real (his opinions may have evolved over time as he was presented with new information) and how much of it was feigned (his task was to portray Russia as weak, helpless and dependent all the while it was furiously rebuilding and rearming itself). But this much we know for certain: he is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a pro-Western liberal any more.

His latest encyclical is presented below. The translation is my own.

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Engineering World Hunger

2022-05-29

The latest fake Western narrative, emanating from some secretive tiny brain located, most likely, somewhere in suburban Virginia, is that Putin is responsible for looming world hunger because of the war in the Ukraine. “Putin Blocks Ukraine Grain Exports! World Hunger Looms!” screams the expertly concocted fake newspaper headline. A very simple analysis of the available numbers is enough to prove that this narrative is a fake.

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The Secret American Plan to Make Russia Great Again

2022-05-23

It is generally a good idea to avoid ascribing nefarious intent to actions explained by mere stupidity. But this is a case where mere stupidity cannot possibly explain the long, steady procession of foreign policy errors spanning three decades, all of them specifically aimed at strengthening Russia. It is not possible to argue that a surplus of hubris, ignorance, greed and political opportunism and a deficit of competent foreign policy analysts can produce such a result, for that would be essentially the same as arguing that some monkeys armed with drills, mills and lathes can produce a Swiss watch. But the only alternative would be to claim that there is a network of Kremlin’s agents ensconced deep within the bowels of the American Deep State and that they are all working in concert to advance Russia’s interests while meticulously maintaining plausible deniability all the while and at all levels of the operation.

Ostensibly, the plan was to weaken and destroy Russia; but then, following the Soviet collapse, Russia was weakening and destroying itself very well all by itself, no intervention needed. What’s more, every US effort to weaken and destroy Russia has made it stronger; had there existed even a most rudimentary feedback mechanism, so vast a discrepancy between policy goals and policy results would have been detected and adjustments would have been made. Superficially, this may be explained by the nature of America’s sham-democracy, where each administration can blame its failures on mistakes made by the previous administration, but the Deep State remains in power throughout, and it would simply be forced to admit to itself that there is a problem with the plan to weaken and destroy Russia after a few cycles of this unfolding fiasco. The fact that it hasn’t detected any such problem brings us full circle, back to the suspicion that there are Putin’s agents toiling tirelessly deep within the Deep State.

But that’s pure conspiracy theory and we shouldn’t want to go anywhere near that. Suffice to say, there is at present no adequate explanation for what happened. After the Soviet collapse, very little was needed to speed along the collapse of Russia itself. But none of these steps have been taken, and the steps that were taken (with the ostensible goal of weakening and destroying Russia) have done the exact opposite. Why? Below are listed 10 of the most successful initiatives of what appear to be a US Deep State MRGA campaign. If you have an alternative explanation, I’d like to hear it.

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Trolling the Pentagon

2022-05-21

According to hearings held recently by the US Congress, the Pentagon has accumulated quite a bit of evidence of something or other of an extraterrestrial origin: sightings of aircraft or spacecraft that behave in ways that defy both current technology and, possibly, the laws of physics. Things got really interesting when it turned out that these extraterrestrials had disabled some number of US nuclear missiles. At that point the meeting was hastily adjourned and reconvened in a top-secret format later.

The Pentagon’s best and brightest being confused by some puzzling evidence is neither here nor there. On the other hand, the idea that extraterrestrials would brave the vastness of interstellar space just to troll a bunch of Pentagon knuckleheads seems quite outlandish. An obvious question to ask is, Who would want to troll the Pentagon, posing as extraterrestrials, while putting US nuclear arsenal out of commission? Why, of course, that would be the Russians!

What evidence can I present in support of this claim. Why, none at all, of course. I know nothing, and if I did, I wouldn’t tell you because that would be treasonous of me. But what I can do is tell you a story.

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New Bestseller: “Confessions of Economic Suicides”

2022-05-21

It is very interesting to observe the surprised facial expressions of popular economists when discussing the topic of Western sanctions against Russia: these sanctions were intended to tear the Russian economy into shreds back in March of 2020 but have resulted in an epic strengthening of the Ruble and an equally epic weakening of Western economies. Chinese economists, on the other hand, have been able to identify the cause: the Russian national currency has been cleansed of speculative market pricing and has been strengthened by stopping the outflow of capital and government control. That is, by issuing just three executive orders, Putin was able to achieve financial and economic stability. He has banned Russia from financing the economies of hostile nations or to sell real product for play money. The situation was further normalized by the order to sell gas for rubles.

Instead of scrimping and gleaning, Russia is now able to maintain a positive balance of payments and a trade surplus. The Chinese comrades have found this example very interesting and Beijing is planning to carry out a crash-test, to see how their own financial system could benefit from the imposition of sanctions.

Even Mikhail Khazin, who is usually highly critical of the Russian government and of Elvira Nabiullina personally, now recognizes the fact that her temporary imposition of an extremely high 20% Central Bank interest rate was necessary and beneficial. This economist predicts a 12% interest rate by June and its gradual lowering. In the medium term, this will lead to normal credit availability for the real, non-speculative sectors of the economy. And so… dollars and euros are leaving Russia, and it only makes sense to purchase them for tourist trips and minor trading operations.

Internationally, the ruble will be used to control trade within a gigantic region, serving as a sound basis for transactions involving raw materials, products and direct investments. Meanwhile, Western financial system will crater. Even Bloomberg admitted last week, gritting its teeth, that the ruble is the most stable currency of 2022… even though Biden prophesied that it would 200 to a dollar while silly panicked Russians were buying dollars for 150 rubles each. Now the course is fluctuating around 63.

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Financial Collapse, May 2022 Update

2022-05-14

Let’s start with the truly ridiculous and work our way out. At its height, the cryptocurrency bubble was capitalized at almost $3 trillion. Yesterday it stood at $1.17. Between $110 and $160 billion is leaking out of it daily. Over the past few weeks cryptocurrencies lost between 30 and 99% of their value. The only reason for the recent blossoming of this crypto-idiocy was excess liquidity that resulted from insane fiscal and monetary policies of the US, the EU and the rest of the collective West. It resulted in a loss of faith in fiat currencies and prompted a search for a financial surrogate. When liquidity was spurting out of every nook and cranny, all sorts of contrived mechanisms were need to soak up this impulse of monetary madness. Cryptocurrencies were one of these mechanisms: their fundamental value is precisely zero, yet they prompted the creation of entire analytical centers within investment banks charged with seeking out the best and the most brightest among virtual coins, looking for a kernel of rational sense where none can possibly exist.

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