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Stages of Collapse (According to Dmitry Orlov) and Provisional Mechanisms to Prevent Them at Each Level

By rhyzom | rhyzom | 31 Jan 2021

Some ideas, proposals and examples I can think of, feel free to (actually, encourage you to) add some further, is the purpose of this post.

Stage 1: Financial collapse. Faith in “business as usual” is lost. The future is no longer assumed to resemble the past in any way that allows risk to be assessed and financial assets to be guaranteed. Financial institutions become insolvent; savings are wiped out and access to capital is lost.


  • a few of the more egalitarian/collective DeFi apps out there (not sure which, cos not that into it....)
  • but anyway, that one is already done with and much less important (as is derivative from the level below it and is basically a house of cards which collapsed back in 2008 already)


Stage 2: Economic (Commercial) collapse. Faith that “the market shall provide” is lost. Money is devalued and/or becomes scarce, commodities are hoarded, import and retail chains break down and widespread shortages of survival necessities become the norm.


  • Arthrospira and Chlorella (green-blue algae, or cyanobacteria, rich in protein, photosynthesizing, low investment and labor input, strategic to the food safety of much of the planet it is turning out to be) cultures farming and production, vertical farming, hydro- and aeroponics, Aztec-style institutionalized human sacrifice (kidding)
  • Currency designs along the lines of what Holochain means by that in terming it "current-see", or design and revealing of social value flows with money-like properties that follow differently programmed rules with diverse purposes and goals, some of which may be interchangeable depending on the logic/ontology implied - that, in place of a universal equivalent of measure, especially in light of the already Bergsonian observation mentioned, that most things in the world aren't really measurable.
  • Take the theoretical body of work of Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen into serious account - economic thinking which reads more like applied physics, grounded in facts and based on thermodynamics and entropy, introducing into the equation of economic modeling the critically important component of natural resource limitations, scarcity and gradual degradation in the process of use and economic activity. So, optimize and KISS ("Keep It Simple Stupid") with less focus on the infinite expansion in speed and efficiency of self-replicating reproduction of self-same garbage (by and large), but go for de-growth and de-accelerate (yeah, fuck Nick Land), sticking to the needs of necessity first and foremost.
  • Take full advantage of whatever specific local circumstances your surrounding environment offers. Just like how Castro, when the Soviet Union collapsed, went on to declare that everybody immediately start growing food on every piece of unoccupied land. Use low-tech or no-tech methodologies with as little energy input required as possible. Modern mechanized agriculture (+pesticides, fertilizers, etc.), like the entirety of organic chemistry, is ultimately reliant on fossil fuels.
  • Ad hoc DIY approaches to technological problems, such as the one exemplified by the DIYbio movement.



Stage 3: Political collapse. Faith that “the government will take care of you” is lost. As official attempts to mitigate widespread loss of access to commercial sources of survival necessities fail to make a difference, the political establishment loses legitimacy and relevance.


  • Implementations of things like quadratic voting schemes and liquid democracy (dynamic voting based on electing people in certain positions based on their expertise in the particular area or on their representing the interests of a particular group, with the ability for one to withdraw back his vote the moment he decides that person no longer represents what he has voted him for to) utilizing zero-knowledge proof cryptography.
  • Tamper-proof data collection for statistical analysis that cannot be falsified or made up by the government itself as something to compare to with the officially adjusted numbers for fitting the official narratives of what we're being told.
  • Stronger municipal autonomy using some form of services, information and citizen participation integrated crypto-networked app, such that perhaps can operate as federated network with other municipalities, providing them with the tools for more efficient resource allocation and informed decision-making, while the central government suspends its more critically responsible functions fading in the background.
  • Introducing strong rule of law, especially when corruption is concerned (btw, USA is considered the least corrupt in the index of simply because they have officially legalized corruption) - with corruption and it as means of governance perhaps one of the most corrosive forces in a society and inevitably weakening the state.
  • Ulex legal framework for special jurisdictions (like special economic zones), or something along the lines of.
  • Downward simplification of organizational complexity with citizens voluntarily giving up some status, privilege and/or wealth, rather than the opposite and even worse when - as presently - coupled with the phenomenon of what Structural-Demographic Theory refers to as elite overproduction, commonly going hand in hand with popular immiseration. However, the only known such recorded case of willingly simplifying for the sake of collective self-preservation has been the case of the Byzantine empire, which led to its recovery, normalization and even further expansion of territories as a result.
  • Legal liability of people in power, holding them responsible for their actions, particularly treason and trading in national sovereignty for personal gains, nepotism, various forms of fraud and siphoning of stolen capital to off-shore accounts and such. Kleptocratic governments, particularly in some parts of the world, are very common, particularly if positioned as strategic buffer zones in geographies of tense geopolitical adversity.
  • Open and transparent public records and registries.
  • Democracy is conditional on the political literacy of the population, including the understanding of what is in their own interest and having some sense of class consciousness and solidarity around what makes up their reality, rather than casting votes on the basis of aesthetic appeal, "personalities", moral and ethics, empty rhetoric and demagoguery, etc.
  • Provisional mechanisms for switching to more centralized regimes of mobilization and decision-making as reaction to states of exception or emergency, where decisions must be taken and applied in action fast, without too much deliberation and unhindered by some laws or regulations which might otherwise normally apply.



Stage 4: Social collapse. Faith that “your people will take care of you” is lost, as local social institutions, be they charities or other groups that rush in to fill the power vacuum, run out of resources or fail through internal conflict.


  • I've no idea. This is where we're fucked and assabyyia black holes start to emerge - that is, areas where no lasting meaningful human cooperation or collaboration could ever form and the trust that glues society together doesn't hold. Think Haiti, Afghanistan, Somalia and other such. 


Stage 5: Cultural collapse. Faith in the goodness of humanity is lost. People lose their capacity for “kindness, generosity, consideration, affection, honesty, hospitality, compassion, charity.” Families disband and compete as individuals for scarce resources. The new motto becomes “May you die today so that I can die tomorrow.”


  • Game over. Hobbesian "war of all against all" and "alles fuer sich und Gott gegen alle"


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Verum ipsum factum. Chaotic neutral.


Ad hoc heuristics for approaching complex systems and the "unknown unknowns". Techne & episteme. Verum ipsum factum. In the words of Archimedes: "Give me a lever and a place to rest it... or I shall kill a hostage every hour." Rants, share-worthy pieces and occasional insights and revelations.

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