How Will We Survive a Soviet Style Collapse?

Earlier this week I heard a couple hours of The Power Hour radio program with Joyce Riley and Dave Von Kleist. I haven’t heard their program for a while, but was apparently meant to catch this particular program. They interviewed Dmitry Orlov, author of Reinventing Collapse. I thought it would be a good idea to share a few comments derived from notes I jotted down during the interview. Your comments are welcome, especially if you heard the program and have a different perspective on what was aired.

First, a little background on Orlov. “Dmitry Orlov was born in Leningrad and immigrated to the United States at the age of 12. He was an eyewitness to the Soviet collapse over several extended visits to his Russian homeland between the late eighties and mid-nineties. He is an engineer with a BS in Computer Engineering and an MA in Applied Linguistics.”

Orlov sees many parallels to the current status of the U.S. and the old USSR before its collapse. We’re on the same path, though he declines to make predictions about the rate of the collapse.

If someone in the old USSR would have been approached about the idea of a coming collapse in 1989, Orlov says they would have been shocked and may have laughed scornfully. After all, the USSR was OK, so people thought. The U.S. was perceived as the place where there were problems, not the USSR. However, within a year, things were beginning to look much different, and collapse became a possibility.

Orlov observed that systems in place couldn’t be undone, such as the overextended military and collectivist agriculture. Rather than reform or recreate them, they were left to take their own course. He scoffs at the idea of elites tearing down our present system and creating a New World Order, and essentially says stupidity and incompetence does more than conspiracies.

Orlov says it’s irrational to burn down the barn and put up a new one when changes can be made incrementally. There’s too much invested in the present system to do otherwise. Dave Von Kleist took him to task for this on the show, but neither gave in.

Orlov says owning gold and silver were unimportant in the economy of the USSR. Gold and silver can easily be stolen or lost and can actually be a liability. When a gold seller and sponsor of the show disagreed, Orlov was given the chance to respond afterward. He said having gold coins sewed in the hems of children’s clothing was one way to protect it when a family left the country. Gold coins could be used to bribe a sea captain upon escape as well.

He said in a collapse many are going to lose their savings, as many have here now, and true wealth should be reevaluated. He recommended seeing wealth in terms of one’s connections, skills and knowledge. This makes a lot of sense to me.

As for barter items, having basics is essential. When it became difficult to import products in the USSR, Orlov says many who could do so went in and out of the country with suitcases, seeking to trade watches and other items for razor blades, soap, toilet paper, etc.

He emphasized the importance of gardening to have some of one’s own food and noted that a lot of land or space isn’t necessary for growing food. I’m reminded of the existence of rooftop gardens in the USSR before and after the collapse. Orlov stressed that it’s a good idea to be equipped with the necessary physical tools for gardening as well.

Surprisingly, he mentioned that cities are the best place for structured community policing and organizing neighborhoods to work together for growing food, etc. He didn’t say not to go to the country, but noted not everyone could do it. I believe he thinks going to the country is merely hiding. He applauded any efforts to encourage local farming and provision for those who would need help in time of collapse.

Orlov noted that collapse happens in phases, such as financial, commercial, and political. He says we’ve experienced much of the financial collapse already and are headed into the commercial phase, which affects businesses. The political phase may be coming to fruition with the growing state sovereignty movement in this country. Remember, Soviet republics and satellite countries began breaking away before the USSR fell. Orlov discusses other aspects of collapse in his book.

When asked what he was doing himself to prepare, his answer was surprising. Not only has he written articles that have appeared on select web sites, he sold his house in Boston and equipped a custom made sailboat for navigating up and down the East coast. It’s a means of transportation that’s viable and doesn’t require paying a mortgage or rent.

The interview with Orlov was a pleasure to listen to for me, since he was so well spoken and had a reasonable answer for every point of contention. I don’t know whether he’s right about everything, and I do disagree on a couple of issues; but he’s seen a country and an empire collapse which let people literally die in the streets. His book deserves a look.

To order Reinventing Collapse, by Dmitry Orlov, click on the book’s title wherever you see it linked in this post. You’ll be taken to the page where it’s featured, and you can order from there.

Decide for yourself whether what he has to say serves as a warning or gives insights on what to do to prepare for survival in a coming collapse.


Author: John Wesley Smith

John Wesley Smith writes and podcasts from his home in Central Missouri. His goal is to help preppers as he continues along his own preparedness journey.

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