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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 9th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Coincidentally, I started to read yesterday morning a new book by Dmitry Orlov titled – “Reinventing Collapse.” The book was released by New Society Publishers www.newsociety.com and was sent to me by Perseus Distribution of Jackson Tennessee.

Dmitry Orlov was born and grew up in Leningrad, and came first to the US in 1985 and after 10 years started going back and forth so he says – hehasbecome a witness to the changes in Russia.

Orlow is an engineer who worked in high-energy Physics and in Internet Security. He came under our cross-hairs when it turned out that he is also a leading Peak Oil theorist. But this is not why I am mentioning him today. The reason is much deeper then that.

Dmitry Orlov writes that when he came back to the US in 1996, after a longer stay in Russia where he just got married, but also said that at the time he started to understand the reasons why the Soviet Union collapsed – and horror – he started to see that the US had already at that time all the symptoms of the same disease that did in the Soviet Union. He writes that he came back with his wife to make for themselves a new life in the US, but he also started to write about his insights that made him see that the second shoe will drop eventually – that is the US after the Soviet Union – two very different States – but nevertheless two States with similar destinies because they suffer from very similar malaise.

His description of the ingredients of a super-power collapse are as follows: (a) A severe and chronic shortfall in the production of crude oil; (b) A severe and worsening trade deficit, (c) A runaway military budget and (d) Ballooning foreign debt. When such a soup starts boiling, then “the heat and agitation” are provided by (e) a fear of a humiliating military defeat, and (f) wide spread fear of a looming catastrophe.

He looks then at all of those ingredients that existed in the Soviet collapse – that was an internal collapse – an implosion I would say. He laughs at the thought that it was caused by outside influences, stemming from the actions of the US, except for the fact that the Soviets fell for the arms race of the “star-wars” competition that caused them further exhaustion. On the other hand, he sees all these ingredients in the present state of the US, and he watched these aspects grow during the last decade.

Orlov looks at Chernobyl as the backdrop of catastrophe that sent off the Soviet Union, and sees the need of oil in order to grow food in the US – at the tune of ten calories of fossil fuels to produce one calorie of food – this, and runaway foreign foreign debt, leading to the decrease in credibility of US monetary instruments – killer hurricanes and global climate upheaval – become the US fear of catastrophe. The eventual reason for the drop of the second shoe.

I only mention here these morning thoughts – I will be getting back to this book later and write a book review. Now I intend to touch on another incomplete activity I found myself involved in yesterday.

***

This was a “Pre-Concert Discussion” of the “Mostly Mozart” Lincoln Center Festival presentation of “REQUIEM.” Yesterday was the US premiere, but I will be seeing the show only tonight. All what I did was to sit in at the discussion between the Festival’s Director Peter Sellars, and Lemi Ponifasio, a Samoan living in Auckland, New Zealand, who is the Director/Choreographer/Designer of this Requiem.

Again, this writing of mine is a half backed attempt, and not yet a finished review of the show. This will come later. But now what I want to say here is that all such words as “Director,” “Choreographer,” “Designer,” “Show,””Review,” were actually knocked out of my head last evening, because I realized that we really are totally incapable of understanding the mind of those that do not think like us. Interesting, Peter Sellars, remarked in a even larger context – “in our age – the commentator on the Op-Ed page presumes to understand everything – we will see that it is not as simple as that.”

My mention of Orlov’s look at history showed me how trite it is to think that the US led to the collapse of the Soviet Union, and that the US is safe because it thinks of itself as a democracy. Now, Lemi, and the movement of MAU in Samoa, and his troupe, that adopted the MAU name for their collective, are really no actors at all, according to how they see themselves. In effect they will be involved in CEREMONIES that come to them naturally – something that is not just a CELEBRATION – and this requiem is not a memorial for the dead – this because they are not dead at all – they are here with them – so it is as if there were a communal living with these unseen members of the community present. We will look in a future review at this as a “Requiem to Requiem” where the idea of a Requiem, in the second time it is mentioned in this comment, becomes sort of a synonim to culture, life, an island, an environment. Then the first mention of Requiem in the remark is the more accepted meaning. MAU is the name of the Samoan independence movement that took on the Germans, French, Dutch, and British. The meaning is Vision or Revolution. The activities of the MAU troupe serve “to energize dialogue and revive local oriented histories, arts, thought, languages, and narratives that have been silenced or excluded.”

In those Pacific Islands a house is not a home where you close in your belongings like in a storage – their concept is that this is a space for life and all are invited. There is always a standing pole in their culture – this pole gives you sort of a vertical feel of space and you and all your ancestors reside there. We will see that eventually this home without walls becomes the whole island and its sufferings.

To be true to our www.SustainabiliTank.info website, I will add that Lemi and Peter also touched on the problems of global warming that threaten the demise of cultures like Kiribas (Kiribati). So, will we someday have to try our own hand at this kind of Requiem when remembering the independent indigenous cultures of these Small Islands Independent States of today – the SIDS of the Pacific?

This is the extent of how far I am ready to go here.

***

Now, with the above two snippets, in my head, let me say that I sat down before my TV set to watch the NBC, Channel 4, reporting from Beijing, that was handled by NBC as if it was just an excuse to sell us ExxonMobil trying to sell us that they take on “the largest energy challenges of the World.” I was amazed when after that an NBC journalist actually added “while you watched the advertisements China advanced several hundred years in its history.” I hope they will not fire him for this remark.

GE spoke of biogas technology and that was fine, but Chevy Silver was trying to impress us with their miserable 20 mpg technology. Oh! Yes – we also saw John McCain bashing Obama in the campaign well paid advertisement – and we thought that at least this night we can forget about the US Presidential non-debate.

This Chinese Coming-Out event was all about HARMONY. We watched the Tai-Chi performers and were told of Harmony between Man & Nature as the only chance for Sustainable Development for China and the rest of the World for next generation – and we said AMEN. When this is resolved there will be prosperity and environmentalism.

You do not have to be naive and embrace China’s government, or take for granted the smiles on the faces of all the participating dancers and musicians. It was too uniform and large to be taken at face value – but there was enough there to say that it was an honest attempt to say – look – we suffered in our history from what others did to us – but we are a sleeping giant that is now showing – yes – we can and we will.

China showed us that they are much closer to the MAU mentality now then they are to their previous MAO mentality. Yes, the legions of dancers and musicians were militarily trained. Their performance perfect, thus in some way threatening, but the content of their show was so we appreciate what they have given to the world – ink and paper for those believing in the needs of the press, and the compass for those in search of direction. Navigation is the means of communication with the great world, and they had their own naval chiefs of the caliber of a Christopher Columbus.

These performers did not hate us – they CELEBRATED their return to the world stage, and this was their CEREMONY. After this show, China and us will never be the same. Just think of the fact that they reminded us that there were days China had the highest GNP in the world. We saw some of their ghosts, and we saw some of our ghosts. We saw Confucius, and yes, we remembered how it was members of the Atlantic community that committed them to opium enslavement. It was not said – but I knew it was somewhere there in that huge mat, center stage, on the floor of the stadium.

Money is no problem, they bought the best architectural minds to work with their own best, and created the greatest venue for a global event. Pity that parts of the show were missed by us because of the commercialism of US TV world.

We saw how some foreign leaders, like Putin, that did not smile, President Bush looked at his watch, we wondered why President Peres of Israel, who is secular, had to make the gesture of going on foot back to his hotel because of the Sabbath, but then these were not China’s problems that day.

OK, now, I finished the Friday events. On Saturday morning I rushed to pickup the papers.

The opening of the Olympics was really not the main set of news. That debatable honor went to Russia’s attack inside Georgia, and to the John Edwards attack on the US political system by having endangered the Democratic Party’s chances for meaningful change in Washington.

I really have little to say about Edward’s male infidelity – that should have been left to be solved between him and his wife, but we know that this is not US reality. Such events can sink the US, as it happened in the Bill Clinton days. Clinton’s Presidency was decreased in potency, to the detriment of the American Nation, by some self appointed ethical judges who, as we know by now, some of them had much worse transgressions in their closets. What the US does not have is that vertical space the man from Samoa was talking about. There is no ceremonial thinking in our system – only raw hunt after the culprit who may have sinned much less then we did. And when the US is in decline, while China is on the rise – now we have things to think about – not so? And don’t forget – China holds the strings to the US treasury and Orlov made his unforgivable observations.

As for the second news of the day – Putin moving on Georgia – that is tough for the Georgians but again, Putin is back in the oil-saddle and is flush with money too. In effect, we believe that he came to Beijing not as a teacher, but now he comes to Beijing as a student. He has learned from the Chinese that if you put your economy in better shape, outsiders and your own people as well, will criticize you less on human rights and other transgressions. He did not smile on TV, and he knows what his intent is now.

So, what does Dmitry Orlov think of the opening of the Olympics and the near certainty that China will take over the Super-power manttle after the drop of what he described as the second shoe?

Then, to remind us that change may not be as smooth as some may hope for, two American Olympic tourists were just stabbed while visiting the Drum Tower in the center of Beijing – reasons yet unknown.

***

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