Monday, August 20, 2007

The Former SU, the US to come

Good analysis and practical ideas from
Russian-American, Dimitry Orlov, a man who has
been there. All links below are highly recommended.
A slightly more commonsense explanation is this: during the pre-perestroika "stagnation" period, due to the chronic underperformance of the economy, coupled with record levels of military expenditure, trade deficit, and foreign debt, it became increasingly difficult for the average Russian middle-class family of three, with both parents working, to make ends meet. (Now, isn't that beginning to sound familiar?) Of course, the government bureaucrats were not too concerned about the plight of the people. But the people found ways to survive by circumventing government controls in a myriad of ways, preventing the government from getting the results it needed to keep the system going. Therefore, the system had to be reformed. When this became the consensus view, reformers lined up to try and reform the system. Alas, the system could not be reformed. Instead of adapting, it fell apart.[My emphasis]
Minsk seemed like a city rudely awakened from hibernation. During the short daylight hours, the streets were full of people, who just stood around, as if wondering what to do next. The same feeling pervaded the executive offices, where people I used to think of as the representatives of the "evil empire" sat around under dusty portraits of Lenin bemoaning their fate. No one had any answers.
"So much talk about The System, so little
understanding." --Robert Persig

The System lives only in the head of the participants,
especially at Its Demise. What it's named or how it
works is not at all widely understood as Persig said.
It lives only in the head of Each Believer...and not well.

It produces nothing. Only individuals do...if it's in each
of their best interests to continue to do so.

At some unknown number of "non-participants", it
collapses for lack of interest/profit.

"Fuck it", is the meme then heard widely on the street.

It's an old, old story that Earthmonkey hasn't learned

Will he learn it this time?

I give that two chances: Slim and None...for a long

I may be wrong but I'm not betting on it.

Post-Soviet Lessons for a Post-American Century, Part I
Although people often bemoan political apathy as if it were a grave social ill, it seems to me that this is just as it should be. Why should essentially powerless people want to engage in a humiliating farce designed to demonstrate the legitimacy of those who wield the power? In Soviet-era Russia, intelligent people did their best to ignore the Communists: paying attention to them, whether through criticism or praise, would only serve to give them comfort and encouragement, making them feel as if they mattered. Why should Americans want to act any differently with regard to the Republicans and the Democrats? For love of donkeys and elephants?
Post-Soviet Lessons for a Post-American Century, Part III

The rest:

Post-Soviet Lessons for a Post-American Century, Part II

Thriving in the Age of Collapse, Part I

Thriving in the Age of Collapse, Part II