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The Five Stages of Collapse (PDF)
In the face of political impotence, looming resource depletion, and catastrophic climate change, many of us have become reconciled to an uncertain future. However, popular perception of how this future might actually unfold varies wildly from "a severe and prolonged recession," to James Howard Kunstler's "Long Emergency", to the complete breakdown of civilization. In The Five Stages of Collapse, Dmitry Orlov posits a taxonomy of collapse, offering a surprisingly optimistic perspective on surviving the sweeping changes of the day with health and sanity intact.
Arguing that it is during periods of disruption and extreme uncertainty that broad cultural change becomes possible, Orlov steers the reader through the challenges of financial, commercial and political collapse. He suggests that if the first three stages are met with the appropriate responses, further breakdown may be arrested before the extremes of social and cultural collapse are reached.
Drawing on a detailed examination of post-collapse societies, including the Somali people of Africa, the Pashtuns of Afghanistan, the Roma of Central and Eastern Europe and even the Russian Mafia, The Five Stages of Collapse describes successful adaptations in areas such as finance, self-governance, social organization and culture. These fascinating case studies provide a unique perspective on the characteristics which determine highly resilient communities. Shot through with Orlov's trademark dark humor, this is an invaluable toolkit for creating workable post-collapse solutions.
Dmitry Orlov was born in Leningrad, USSR, into an academic family, and emigrated to the US in the mid-1970s. He holds degrees in Computer Engineering and Linguistics, and has worked in a variety of fields, including high-energy physics, Internet commerce, network security and advertising. He is the author of several previous books, including Reinventing Collapse and The Five Stages of Collapse.
"Profound insight combined with wry humor is such an incendiary weapon I am tempted to call The Five Stages of Collapse an "Orlov Cocktail". His delivery of hard truths laced with irony saturates us in seldom reported but extremely relevant facts about the world. He is one of the best writers on the scene today, working at the top of his game. There is more to enjoy in this book with every page you turn, and in very uncertain times, Orlov’s advice is, at its core, kind-spirited and extraordinarily helpful."
Albert Bates, author, The Biochar Solution
"Even if I believed collapse were impossible I’d still read everything Dmitry Orlov writes: he’s that entertaining. Unfortunately, however, collapse of some sort or other, of some degree or another, is almost guaranteed. Orlov does us all a great service by teasing apart the kinds and degrees of collapse so that we can prepare for what is likely and "dig in our heels" to prevent what is unsurvivable."
Richard Heinberg, Senior Fellow, Post Carbon Institute, author, The End of Growth
"At a time when most talk about the prospect of collapse tends to wander off into vague generalities, Orlov’s latest book offers a welcome dose of clear thinking. Compulsively readable, firmly grounded in real-world examples, and laced with his usual mordant wit, The Five Stages of Collapse deserves space on the bookshelf of anyone concerned about the future of industrial civilization."
John Michael Greer, author, Green Wizardry