Monday, April 21, 2008

Orlov's Reinventing Collapse

Media theorist Marshall McLuhan was wont to say:
We don't know who discovered water, but we know it wasn't the fish.
Apropos the most recent commentary with Bros. Makheru and Submariner in which I expressed my view of the permissible limits of public questioning to the former - and the utility of unconstrained private questioning to the latter - participants in a culture are not the best ones to uncover widely held assumptions.

Amanda Kovattana goes straight to the heart of Orlov's treatment of our predicament, uncovering at least one of the fundamental assumptions inherent to being a fish in these American waters;
Along the way, he reveals pithy insights to explain how the American system works in contrast with the Russian one. For instance the story of the classless society is exemplified by the concept of a middle class — something Americans have proudly espoused — which he points out is held together by the common denominator of everyone owning a car. That's right, not education, not equal opportunity, or equal rights but the one-ton behemoth that we must have to get around the wasteful geography created by suburbia.

We know about this waste from the film The End of Suburbia and James Kunstler's Geography of Nowhere and all the other peak oil fellows, but Orlov points out that
because we are so identified with owning a car as part of this American middle class identity we will be hard put to let it go. And when we are forced to (due to diminishing and increasingly expensive gasoline supplies) so will go the myth of the middle class. In turn he explains how the Russians lost faith in the classless worker's paradise because they could clearly see that there was an elite strutting around in cool Armani threads. Meanwhile the lack of consumer goods and trendy fashions meant that a good life for all never became a reality.

And because our ideologically indoctrinated minds are so closed to such deep seated change and so invested in our "can do" innovation, we will, like Napoleon, be unable to retreat from the overextended, oil fueled, debt based economy which is poised to come crashing down, financed as it is by foreign investment that will eventually decide that we are not a good credit risk.
And there it is in a nutshell. Few national politicians dare give voice to what's just beyond the signpost up ahead. Being unwilling and unable to discuss reality, how then could they ever go about proposing, much less implementing, any of the radical engineering redesigns required to genuinely rebuild along viable and sustainable lines? The patient is as yet utterly unwilling to hear an objective and accurate diagnosis. With no diagnosis, how can she participate in her own treatment, much less get on board with the radical measures required to effect an actual cure?