Author Dmitry Orlov spoke for Long Now in February 02009. We post audio of a Seminar About Long-term Thinking from our archives each Friday.
This talk took place in the midst of the United States’ extended financial crisis, which perhaps peaked in the US at the end of 02008. Orlov’s topic of Social Collapse Best Practices seemed highly relevant as the fate of the automotive industry was still unclear, California had just announced mandatory furloughs, and what would become known as the “Great Recession” might have still been a precursor to an even Greater Depression.
Orlov is well-suited to this subject having observed the collapse of the Soviet Union first hand and also lived and worked in the US during both prosperous and lean times. His tips include gardens, sailboats (he lives on one today, in Boston), bicycles, weaponry, pickup trucks (assuming you break a few laws), and having low expectations.
From Stewart Brand’s summary of this Seminar (in full here):
The rule with transportation, he said, is not to strand people in nonsurvivable places. Fuel will be expensive and hoarded. He noted that the most efficient of all vehicles is an old pickup fully loaded with people, driving slowly. He suggested that freight trains be required to provide a few empty boxcars for hobos. Donkeys, he advised, provide reliable transport, and they dine as comfortably on the Wall Street Journal as they did on Pravda.
Orlov gives an opinionated and it’s fair to say un-optimistic analysis of the prospects for the United States going forward (he calls it the “former United States of America” a few times). He offers advice to Americans for when the going gets tougher than many will have perhaps ever imagined it could get. His talk is peppered with black humor and with insights into how some of the bleaker aspects of life in Soviet Russia can be seen to have a certain pragmatism if social structures prove non-durable. “Being poor takes a lot of practice.”
Dmitry Orlov is a Russian-American engineer and author whose books include Reinventing Collapse and The Five Stages of Collapse: Survivors’ Toolkit.
The Seminars About Long-term Thinking began in 02003 and are presented each month live in San Francisco (also available as a podcast). The series is curated and hosted by Long Now’s President Stewart Brand.
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