A Conversation About Europe

Why I love Dmitri Orlov. Excerpts from a recent interview:

TB: Is there hope for a safe, harmless European decline, or is any industrial society just bound to collapse at once when fuel runs out?

DO: The severity of collapse will depend on how quickly societies can scale down their energy use, curtail their reliance on industry, grow their own food, go back to manual methods of production for fulfilling their immediate needs, and so forth. It is to be expected that large cities and industrial centers will depopulate the fastest. On the other hand, remote, land-locked, rural areas will not have the local resources to reboot into a post-industrial mode. But there is hope for small-to-middling towns that are surrounded by arable land and have access to a waterway. To see what will be survivable, one needs to look at ancient and medieval settlement patterns, ignoring places that became overdeveloped during the industrial era. Those are the places to move to, to ride out the coming events.

TB: How can people make preparations for collapse or decline without losing connections with their current social environment, friends, relatives, jobs or customers, and everything around them that still function as usual. That is a question about sanity as much as practicality.

DO: This is perhaps the most difficult question. The level of alienation in developed industrial societies, in Europe, North America and elsewhere, is quite staggering. People are only able to form lasting friendships in school, and are unable to become close with people thereafter with the possible exception of romantic involvements, which are often fleeting. By a certain age people become set in their ways, develop manners specific to their class, and their interactions with others become scripted and limited to socially sanctioned, commercial modes. A far-reaching, fundamental transition, such as the one we are discussing, is impossible without the ability to improvise, to be flexible—in effect, to be able to abandon who you have been and to change who you are in favor of what the moment demands. Paradoxically, it is usually the young and the old, who have nothing to lose, who do the best, and it is the successful, productive people between 30 and 60 who do the worst. It takes a certain detachment from all that is abstract and impersonal, and a personal approach to everyone around you, to navigate the new landscape.

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3 Responses to A Conversation About Europe

  1. Paschberg says:

    In Tyrol a sustenance economy (or farming) would provide existence for approximately (ca.1,300km² =130,000ha) for 500,000 people but just minimum food. If you would like to live somehow similar to now, I think Tyrol would work only for about 100,000.
    On the other hand (Tolstoy): How Much Land Does a Man Require? In fact just a 6 arshin long “claim”.

  2. Marcellina says:

    “If you would like to live somehow similar to now,”

    Humanity is not going to accept a sustenance lifestyle willingly, only as a last resort. So what we have now, in the face of a collapse as Orlov imagines it, will be lost for good. I imagine that there would be many, many years of hardship due to non-cooperation (fighting, greed, envy, religious fervor, criminal activity, all the usual things. I would be happy to be proven wrong about that.)

  3. Marcellina says:

    ‘Tolstoy): How Much Land Does a Man Require? In fact just a 6 arshin long “claim”.’
    Aha! Now I understand this.

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