Dmitry Orlov: Teaching Us to Survive and Thrive

Dmitry Orlov is an engineer, author and blogger. He was born in Leningrad and moved to the United States at the age of 12. He has a BS in Computer Engineering and an MA in Applied Linguistics.

Dmitry was an eyewitness to the collapse of the Soviet Union government, currency and economy over several extended visits to his Russian homeland between the late 1980s and mid-1990s. His observations are described in his book, Reinventing Collapse, published last summer.

His articles on the Russian collapse experience and what Americans can learn from it are widely read, including, Closing the Collapse Gap, which compares the collapse-preparedness of the USA and the USSR, and Social Collapse Best Practices (video version.)

On this Thursday evening’s Solari Report, in addition to covering current market events and your latest questions, I will be speaking with Dmitry about the possibility of a collapse in the United States and what we can learn from the Russian experience as we move together through tough economic times.

If you are a subscriber to The Solari Report, you can post your questions at your private panel or feel free to also post them at this blog post.

If you would like to learn more about The Solari Report and subscribe, click here.


  1. If the IMF succeeds in issuing gold certificates or any other form of money, what will it mean for gold and silver?
    My husband is retired. We have two cars,2003, 1993, one which I drive, and a 79 Toyota truck my husband still likes and uses. I like to walk and it is a very long walk to town from the ridge I live on but I used to do it and did it twice in the snow this past December. Aside from the moral aspect of not owning a car, I was thinking whether I should sell mine or not. I have a possible buyer. We could get by, it would just mean me riding a bike sometimes in the rain and maybe until the collapse not having the freedom to drive to a favorite place along a lake or river or to meet a friend in Portland. On the other hand after the collapse, it would be too expensive to replace my car. But with oil supposed to be so expensive I probably should sell it now??? Apologies for my mundain little problems…

  2. Leigh
    Having a car is still in my mind a good thing. There are times when getting out of an area might be important, something that is much easier with a car. If someone becomes ill what do you do, how to get to a doctor. A car still gives independence. Not driving everywhere and riding the bike or walking are good things. But unless you live in the town itself might get to be a drain on you.
    I have a friend here in our small town who gave up her car the last time it broke down. She did it more for philosophical reasons than monetary but it has limited her in many ways, and the energy it takes to walk everywhere has impacted her weight and she then finds she has to eat more just to keep up her strength.
    Finding a second hand Honda Insight or Prius or a biodiesel converted car that runs on discarded fastfood oilmight be an alternative.
    I’m not ready to give up my 12 year old car yet! ;>0

  3. Jack:

    I don’t disagree that Orlov’s material can be scary.

    If you have read his book and his articles, I find them to be quite valuable for several reasons:

    1. He has very useful insights on superpower behavior and American culture;

    2. He gives a very effective description about what happened in Russia. He is an engineer by training and breaks down the specifics in different functional areas;

    3. He helps his reader understand what happened in Russia. Reviewing this example and other various economic warfare implosions is instructive to understanding the activities that were subsidizing the debt bubble in the 90’s — and the ethical implications of our participating in the profits thereof;

    4. He helps his reader understand what a worst case might look like and how to build household and local resiliency;

    Since I think there are profoundly important reasons to build household and local resiliency, even if I believe the worst case in the US is a lower probability than Orlov, I find contemplating his point of view to be a very good use of my time. I think having a plan for the worst case makes sense and is a good investment of my time.

    Orlov’s message rarely breaks through the general media in America. One of my theories is that we digest so much entrainment and subliminal programming that it is difficult for us who still enjoy a middle class existence in America to contemplate that what can be done to one, can and may be done to all.

    For those of us who have lived through the worst of what can happen on the wrong side of the beast, scaring those who have not sometimes seems the kind thing to do.


  4. Orlav’s view of the probable future reminds me of a joke from the movie No Man’s Land. Question: what’s the difference between an optimist and a pessimist? Answer: a pessimist fears that things are as bad as can be; an optimist knows they can get a lot worse.
    Now, there is an optimism I can get behind.

  5. Jack: What we need is balance between communism/socialism and capitalism/fascism. The world swings between these two poles. Balance is good between hyper individualism and hyper groupism. Do you agree?

    Further, your point 3 “biggest economy in the world” relies on GDP numbers… and as anyone knows, one way to grow GDP is to cause more car accidents and burn more housing down, since that spurs creation of new cars and housing. I don’t find GDP to be valid of “biggest value creation in the world.”

    The US is #1 in many things right now, and not all of them good. Good luck in your local future.

  6. And by “value creation” I mean manufacturing. Show me a world power which doesn’t make its own goods.

    Bye-bye GM this year. All we really have left are production home builders, production carmakers, weapons manufacturers, oil extractors and veggie & corn growers. Education & scientific jobs are highly important as well. Most other jobs in America are useless fluff.

  7. Jack:

    I would interpret your description of differences to mean “We are bigger and stronger than Russia and have the power to continue to scr** everyone to get our way.” Sounds like you essentially agree with my Slow Burn thesis of how the system subsidizes itself and can avoid collapse.

    If you look at what we are doing to subsidize, the logical conclusion is that you and I are eventually going to be targets as well. At least, that is where the math of Slow Burn goes.

    I have never heard Dmitry say he was a communist. I will ask him. He has always sounded pretty respectful of private property and individual rights to me, certainly much more so than the US government’s general practices as I have personally experienced them as an investment banker, Assistant Secretary, lead financial advisor to an agency, litigant and investment advisor.


  8. Well, I am for democracy and markets. However, as far as I know, they have not been practiced in the US in my lifetime, other than sporadic pockets.

    My general experience is secret societies, narcotics trafficking, defense spending, mortgage fraud, covert operations and a fortune spent on promoting official realities. I have also not experienced freedom. I believe my mother was murdered by secret societies/intelligence agencies, my father probably was and my personal experience is that there is no such thing as freedom, despite a very extraordinary effort to find it. I have spent a lifetime watching the people I believe killed members of my family and tried to destroy me promoted with slogans and signs on my neighbors cars and lawns.

    I don’t know how to compare ideologies when the Rockefellers and Rothschilds financed the American and Russian experiments alike and they were both highly managed, each in their own way.

    I don’t know what all this yah-yah is about socialism and capitalism and communism and all the other isms. What I know is centralized control, both overt and covert. There is a difference between all these isms and organized crime.

    America has been run by organized crime since I can remember and our basic business is printing currency and warfare. There has been a lot of good stuff sandwiched in between and financed by the genocide and a lot of very pleasurable myths.

    However, that is the basic model.

    My pastor in Washington used to say “If we can face it, God can fix it.”

    This conversation is why I am more than delighted to invite Orlov into the mix.

  9. Jack described Orlov as an, “advocate for the abandonment of the American experiment and the destruction of our nation.”

    I don’t see how individuals strengthening their positions and communities could possibly destroy a legitimately powerful nation. Powerful economies don’t need to be supported by frequent trips to Walmart and McDonalds. In fact to be honest, such shoot the messenger and his message rhetoric sounds to me like people who become angered when their hot stock pick gets bad press. A legitimately powerful nation doesn’t need “good press” any more than a solid investment does.

    In my opinion Rome fell apart because it was a net energy importer via various means such as slavery and plunder, and so with increasing numbers of inefficient Romans developing a sense of entitlement and reliance upon their unsustainable way of life, it was doomed to eventually collapse under it’s own weight. Many would blame corruption and other events that are really just the means people use to position themselves well in societies that are bound to fail.

    America’s status as “largest economy in the world” compares well to Rome’s. America is a net importer of brains that it doesn’t produce itself and therefor a net importer of technology. Rome absorbed most of it’s technology rather than producing it. America is also a net importer of food energy, oil energy, natural gas energy, electricity, and labour energy which is itself a massive indirect import of food energy. And of course a net importer of savings via the inflation tax.

    Someone in denial could find many more differences between Rome and America than the SU and America. But the fundamental aspects are the same. A society that can’t support itself via it’s current means must expand or contract. Expansion through violence creates an illusion of superiority that encourages still further inefficiencies. Expansion reaches it’s limits. Annnd. Collapse.

    It doesn’t take people becoming better positioned for collapse to bring a house of cards down. (Ironically, these people’s purchases of hard liquor, seeds, wood and leather working tools etc could be one of the last waves of economic activity supporting the current doomed system.) These are the very people who will be the boulders others grasp for when the fiat currency, negative return businesses, threats of violence, and other unsustainable practices wash out.

    Exporting violence and importing everything else is not sustainable. Neither acceptance nor communication of that fact empower it. It’s a simple fact whether denied or not. It’s recognition does however empower people to position themselves for survival and perhaps to thrive.

    If one thinks in terms of total cost accounting, the fate of globalization as practiced today becomes painfully clear. The world does have vast resources but they cannot be plundered indefinitely. The denial-based arguments that abound today are being exposed as such. Future technologies will take care of nuclear waste? Lets ask Somali pirates how that one turned out. More will be produced? Let’s look at the environmental impacts and how equitable the distribution of surpluses are.

    Nope this thing is goin down whether Orlov tells us to buy candles or not.

  10. Antal Fekete on has a theory that we will suffer acute deflation. I would like Dmitry to comment if he agrees or not. I would like to hear his experience of what this will mean in actuality to those of us on the street so to speak in examples and how we can prepare ourselves. Also, I would like to know what it will mean for gold and silver please.

    On another subject. Catherine has mentioned “coming clean” with our money. I married and became a Catholic. I never realized the Pope’s death was to do with the mafia …maybe when the Pope removed his accountant who was siphoning off the books? After CAtherine spoke about the Godfather movies, I thought “Oh my God this is true too”. Anyhow she carefully hasn’t touched much on specific religious groups ? or maybe I am wrong…but anyhow I don’t see how I can put any money into an institution which is also helping the mafia. For 30 years I have sent money for poor kids’ education in other countries. I find it ironic now that all my attempts at letters and email to the Archbishop and higher for the past four years seem to fall on deaf ears about what is going on and to prepare. When I told our local priest recently that we need to grow more food in the Church gardens for what is coming, he told me that all we need to do is pray….I don’t dismiss the power of prayer. I am big on it. But I think God gave us brains to use to and it seems like a sin not to be open to preparing for what’s coming in order to help others. ??? The past 8 years have diminished my faith like nothing else.

  11. Catherine:

    Thanks for providing the Dmitry links. His insight has given me some ideas for filling in a few personal ‘gaps’. We can either have faith in government and industry (centralization of power and finance) or we can place our faith, energy, and resources in ourselves and community (de-centralization). We each have to decide which of these two choices, or possibly some combination of the two, will work best for us. Someone once told me that many of the Amish don’t choose their lifestyle of independence because it’s easy or fun, but simply for the peace of mind of knowing they are not placing their dependency and freedom in the hands of someone or some entity that may not have their best interests at heart.

    It would appear, in this current climate, that the more intermediaries we have between ourselves and what is critical for survival…the more chance there is of default.

    Thanks for sharing.

  12. @Jack
    As a European I’m always quite surprised how Americans tend to be able to think only 1-dimensionally. As if there are only two governance models possible in the world: democracy and communism. As if the Democrats and the Republicans represent two outer ends of a continuum. In philosophy that is called a ‘false dichotomy’.

    Whether Orlov is ‘a communist’ is totally immaterial; this question cannot be answered because what communism means in the US is something totally different than what it means elsewhere. The Soviet Union was not run according the principles of communism just as the US is not run according to the principles of democracy.

    In any case, state governance models, whatever they are called, are getting less relevant nowadays, as obviously transnationalism, globalisation, etc have done a great job undermining sovereignty of nation-states. In that respect, I think Orlov points to the US as a geographical area, rather than as a political entity; which kind of makes your point about his loyalty futile.

    Ps I’m myself not a communist in any sense of the word

  13. So all those federal government subsidized SUVs could become very fuel efficient PER PASSENGER if you load each up with 8 or more people and drive at 25 MPH. Interesting.

  14. Orlov said that the collapse of the USSR was triggered by fuel shortages.

    If there was ever a severe fuel shortage in the US (real or manufactured), I imagine the easiest policies to implement in the next decade would be to lower the speed limit to 45 MPH and enforce it with cameras like the ones being installed in Maryland now.

    So (playing devil’s advocate), Dubya was a genius? For creating artificial demand for huge vehicles and shelters across the land?

  15. The essential difference between communism, as concretely occured with the Bolshevik revolution and the Maoist revolution, is the elimination of a view of man as having primarily a spiritual vocation–something which admittedly modern man generally has betrayed, but which the materialist conceptions deny explicitly and seek to destroy. The freedom to openly practice one’s religion is the essential freedom. Without it, everything else is threatened, for the simple reason that the human being is no longer conceived as human, but simply as a clever beast, as “labor” and, at need, as a disposable “useless eater.” The sacred is the essence of all values. If it disappears all that is good will disappear in turn. The fact that it can be abused or betrayed is a completely separate issue. Yes, the US is riddled with errors, the “system” is corrupt, in many ways we are a menace to ecological equilibrium, and so on. But we maintain, to a very limited degree it is true, a sense of the sacred, a faith in a transcendent Reality which is the First Cause and the Last Judge. That is the crucial difference, the only one worth dying for.

  16. Kindly insert, if possible, the phrase “and the still nominally Christian and Islamic societies, as well as in certain other traditional countries,” after the phrase “The essential difference between communism, as concretely occured with the Bolshevik revolution and the Maoist revolution…”

  17. There are way too many realistic similarities between today’s USA and the former Soviet Union to address in a short note, the problem is which are relevant to the topics at hand. It’s hard for me to imagine whom Orlov might be working for if he is an agent of disinformation. He arrived as a pre-teen to the states before the fall of communism, and now I’d be surprised indeed if any remnant of the KGB remained in Russia to run an agent who had the good fortune to be marooned in America during the shredding of the iron curtain. Sometimes a Ruskie is just a Ruskie. By the way, the expat-Eastern Bloc immigrants I have met (way more than a few) are the most anti-communist, anti-Marxist people in my ken.

    There are plenty of ways for the USA to come to ruin: one is for its leaders to let it be run into the ground by those who can, and do, do what they want, while a confused and disorganized public wonders what to do, if anything (that is if they notice anything is wrong, between commercials). Often, the government takes an active role in breaking things.

    A huge USA/USSR equivalence is the powerlessness that the people have in affecting policy as enacted by their “leaders”. William Greider tackles this sad topic from the point of view of democratic failure well in his book “Who Will Tell the People”. Or, maybe he is in the pay of sinister foreign powers , too.

    When the topic is “governing corruption”, a big difference is that today very few Americans–including some of the most cynical–have even a faint grasp of how bad things really are, but may more freely speculate on the topic; in Soviet Russia nearly all knew the score (including the Powers), but could say nothing publicly.

    Maybe it’s that Clinton and Obama are really Summerians.

    It is a fact that oil will run out, maybe sooner than most think (sorry abiotic-oil delusionists); it is true that that what waits in the wings to replace oil is inadequate to fill its shoes–at todays requirements, (sorry optimistic alternate/renewable-energy enthusiasts); and I fear that very few understand or can imagine what this means and how it could play out, thank you Orlov and Kunstler, you contentment destroying agents of realism, you.

  18. The bottom line is that if you try to get people to take their focus off the smoke and mirrors such as Catherine has done, you and your family pay the price. The media is the surrogate mind of the masses in America. “Democracy and Markets” is the talk but Totalitarinism is the walk and only the likes of Catherine Austing Fitts and a few others with the help of God will prevail against it.

  19. I have been hearing the sky is falling since I was a little girl in grade school where I, and former kindergartners were made to practice crawling under our desks in case of a nuclear bomb. As a daughter of depression era parents who struggled during the late 1920’s my mother laughs at how “bad” those that didn’t live through it make it out to be. I also worked at one of those 1980s “failed” Savings and Loans where the VP was a former Treasury Officer and a brilliant, highly respected woman in banking. The little boys sent in to audit by the feds didn’t know how to spot a good loan in SF if it slapped them in the face. The VP quit when the Feds took over warning that the govt would drive this particular S & L into the ground – one that would have survived fine as the market improved. The man the Feds put in place was a nutcase and I saw exactly what she said would happen = happened.

  20. Well, you all are going to have fun with this one.

    I spoke with Dmitry this afternoon. We covered the schedule and the outline for our discussion on The Solari Report this evening.

    He never called in tonight and he has not called or returned our calls or e-mails.

    I ended up discussing what I have learned from studying the Russian implosion that is relevant to our situation.

    I will try to find out what happened and post.

  21. So sorry to have missed the program last night. I had a tight schedule, and it went off the rails (almost literally) thanks to our antiquated Boston subway system. Perhaps we can do it some other time.


  22. We have had a request to remove comments about Dmitry Orlov that are slanderous or offensive. As Dmitry is our guest on The Solari Report, we have made the decision to do so.

    We will, however, continue to tolerate your slanderous and offensive comments about Catherine and her opinions.

  23. Dear Astarr,

    Would you care to elaborate on who made the request to remove comments and any evidence those party’s provided to convince you that the comments made were indeed “slanderous or offensive”?

    Furthermore, is this the first time that Solari has received such a request and the first time Solari has acquiesced to the requestor’s wishes?

    In general, this author makes extremely bold statements about the future of the USA, it’s “similarities” with the USSR, and what American’s should do based upon these statements. It certainly seems more than fair that the author should be prepared to address and respond to tough criticism and questions.

  24. Bert:

    I didn’t really see Dmitry’s statements as extremely bold. What I perceive as extremely bold and brazen is when the likes of those who brought us this recent financial calamity are the ones proposing the solutions. What ever happened to the concept of humility whereby when a person screws up royally they just quietly, with head hung low, just fade away?

    Peter Schiff was pounded relentlessly, by the mainstream media, for his financial and economic views from about 2004-2008 and like the energizer bunny kept coming back and speaking truth to power. Schiff’s personality and fortitude are unique. There are many people who may have a piece of the truth puzzle but may not have the personality of a Peter Schiff. I’m glad this place represents a forum for those who may have an idea or truth to offer without feeling they must don full body armor to share them.

    Why should Demitry be blamed for the death of the USA, as we’ve known it, just because he announced its funeral? I found his articles very thought provoking and it prompted me to order his book.

  25. Dear Steve,

    Lets be crystal clear on one thing, any talk of the death of the USA is vastly premature. In order for this very difficult task to occur many more financial crashes will be required, the entire population will need to be demoralized, and our vast military infrastructure must be dissembled and transfered elsewhere. In short, there is a long long way to go, there are many challenges, and it is certainly not conclusive at this very early stage.

    While one may argue that talk of this nature is pragmatic, I would argue that it is deceitful, demoralizing and part of the problem.

  26. Bert:

    My best recollection is that this is the first request we have gotten on this blog. After thinking about it, I decided to remove the posts in question. My decision. I am host. Dimitry is a guest. There is a certain civility and good manners that should be accorded to a guest, none of which prevent open expression and debate.


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