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  1. #211
    Senior Member NotAPretender's Avatar
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    I be doing pirating for quite some time...

    The midwest floods hit the area where my newly found families mostly live...Nebraska. California is the maternal side.

    Not to make light of your post. I wouldn't be surprised by anything at this point, almost literally. I'm pulling for the Aliens to land on the White House lawn...again.
    "We are one thought away from changing the world!"

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  3. #212
    Super Moderator United States Dreamtimer's Avatar
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    Floods and plagues. Sounds Biblical.

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  5. #213
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    http://cluborlov.blogspot.com/2019/0...f-western.html


    The Five Stages of Collapse of The [Western] Roman Empire

    This is a guest post by Hugo Bardi. He has applied my collapse taxonomy to the collapse of Western Roman Empire, and his analysis shows that the canonical collapse cascade of financial–commercial–political–social–cult ural collapse did operate as expected in yet another, particularly famous case. But it does raise a question that has great significance for our time. Hugo’s analysis is accurate when it comes specifically to Old Rome and its collapse except for a crucial detail. Old Rome didn’t just collapse; it was abandoned; then, two centuries later, it disappeared. I’ll include some comments about this at the end of Hugo’s article.

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    Dmitry Orlov wrote "The Five Stages of Collapse" as an article in 2008 and as a book in 2013. It was an original idea for that time that of comparing the fall of the Soviet Union with that of the United States. Being an American citizen born in Russia, Orlov could compare the two Empires in detail and note the many similarities that led both to follow the same trajectory, even though the cycle of the American Empire is not over, yet.

    To strengthen Orlov's analysis I thought I could apply the same five stages to an older Empire, the Roman one. And, yes, the five stages apply well also to that ancient case. So, here is my take on this subject.

    To start, a list of the five Stages of Collapse according to Orlov.

    Stage 1: Financial collapse.
    Stage 2: Commercial collapse.
    Stage 3: Political collapse.
    Stage 4: Social collapse.
    Stage 5: Cultural collapse.

    Now, let's see how these five stages played out during the fall of the Roman Empire.

    Stage 1 – Financial Collapse (3rd century AD). The Roman Empire’s financial system was not as sophisticated as ours, but, just like our civilization, the Empire was based on money. Money was the tool that kept together the state: it was used to pay the legions and the bureaucrats and to make the commercial system supply the cities with food. The Roman money was a physical commodity: it was based on silver and gold, and these metals needed to be mined. It was the Roman control over the rich gold mines of Northern Spain that had created the Empire, but these mines couldn’t last forever. Starting with the 1st century, the cost of mining from depleted veins became an increasingly heavy burden. By the 3rd century, the burden was too heavy for the Empire to carry. It was the financial collapse from which the Empire never could fully recover.

    Stage 2 – Commercial Collapse (5th century AD). The Roman Empire had never really been a commercial empire nor a manufacturing society. It was specialized in military conquest and it preferred to import luxury items from abroad, some, such as silk, all the way from the other side of Eurasia, from China. In addition to legions, the Empire produced only two commodities in large amounts: grain and gold. Of these, only gold could be exported to long distances and it soon disappeared to China to pay for the expensive imports the Romans were used to buy. The other product, grain, couldn’t be exported and continued to be traded within the Empire’s border for some time – the supply of grain from the African and Near Eastern granaries was what kept the Roman cities alive, Rome in particular. After the financial collapse, the supply lines remained open because the grain producers had no other market than the Roman cities. But, by mid-5th-century, things got so bad that Rome was sacked first by the Visigoths in 410, and then by the Vandals in 450, It recovered from the 1st sack, but the second was terminal. The Romans had no more money left to pay for the grain they needed, the commercial sea lanes broke down completely, and the Romans starved. It was the end of the Roman commercial system.

    Stage 3 – Political Collapse (late 5th century AD). The political collapse went in parallel with the commercial collapse. Already in the late 4th century, the Emperors had become unable to defend Rome from the Barbarian armies marching across the empire and they had retired to the safety of the fortified city of Ravenna. When Rome was sacked, the Emperors didn’t even try to do something to help. The last emperors disappeared by the late 5th century but, already decades before, most people in Europe had stopped caring about whether or not there was some pompous person in Ravenna who wore purple clothes and claimed to be a divine Emperor.

    Stage 4 – Social Collapse (5th century AD). The social collapse of the Western Empire went in parallel with the disgregation of the political and commercial structures. Already during the early 5th century, we have evidence that the Roman Elites had gone in “escape mode" – it was not just the emperor who had fled Rome to take refuge in Ravenna, patricians and warlords were on the move with troops, money, and followers to establish feudal domains for themselves where they could. And they were leaving the commoners to fend off by themselves. By the 6th century, the Roman State was gone and most of Europe was in the hands of Germanic warlords.

    Stage 5 - Cultural collapse (starting in the 6th century AD). It was very slow. The advent of Christianity, during the 3rd century, had not weakened the Empire's cultural structure, it had been an evolution rather than a break with the past. The collapse of the Empire as a political and military entity didn't change things so much and for centuries people in Europe still considered themselves as Romans, not unlike the Japanese soldiers stranded in remote islands after the end of the second world war .(in Greece, people would still define themselves as "Romans" well into the 19th century). Latin, the imperial language, disappeared as a vernacular language but it was kept alive by the Catholic clergy and it became an indispensable tool that kept Europe culturally united. Latin kept a certain cultural continuity with the ancient empire that was only very gradually lost. It was only with the 18th - 19th centuries that Latin disappeared as the language of the cultural elite, to be replaced by English nowadays.

    As you see, Orlov’s list has a certain logic although it needs to be adapted a little to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire. The 5 stages didn’t come one after the other, There was more than a century lapse between the 3rd-century financial collapse (stage 1) and the three subsequent stages arriving together: commercial, political, and social collapse. The 5th stage, the cultural collapse, was a drawn-out story that came later and that lasted for centuries.

    How about our civilization? The 1st stage, financial collapse is clearly ongoing, although it is masked by various accounting tricks. The 2nd stage, commercial collapse, instead, hasn't started yet, nor the political collapse: the Empire still maintains a giant and threatening military force, even though its actual efficiency may be doubted. Maybe we are already seeing signs of the 3rd stage, social collapse but, if the Roman case is a guide, these three stages will arrive together.

    Then, how about the last stage, cultural collapse? That's a question for a relatively far future. For a while, English will surely remain the universal language, just as Latin used to be after the fall of Rome, while people may keep thinking they still live in a globalized world (maybe it is already an illusion). With English fading, anything may happen and when (and if) a new Empire will rise on the ashes of the American Empire it will be something completely different. We can only say that the universe goes in cycles and that's, evidently, the way things have to be.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    A rather significant event occurred on May 11, 330 AD. On that day, Old Rome (the one in Italy) stopped being the capital of the Roman Empire. On that day, Emperor Constantine I moved the capital to New Rome (Νέα Ῥώμη), previously known as Byzantium and informally called Constantinople until 1930, when it was officially renamed İstanbul. It was the largest and most prosperous city in Europe throughout the Middle Ages and remains the largest city in Europe today (the second-largest is Moscow, which is sometimes called the Third Rome). From 330 AD to April 13, 1204 AD—a span of 974 years—it was the capital of the Roman Empire, which split into Eastern and Western in 395 AD. Then, just 81 years later, in 476 AD, the Western Roman Empire winked out of existence, making the appellation “Eastern” rather superfluous. Indeed, the inhabitants of New Rome always referred to themselves simply as Romans. In 1204 AD it was ransacked and burned by the knights of the Fourth Crusade (a barbarian onslaught, you might call it) and it is a very interesting question why the Romans offered no resistance to them. We will save it for another time. Constantine didn’t just move the capital to an existing city; he substantially rebuilt ancient Byzantium (a Greek colony from 657 BC).

    There were many reasons for Constantine’s decision to move the capital. The new location was simply better: easier to defend, surrounded by economically developed provinces, closer to the centers of learning and culture and strategically located at an intersection of various trade routes. Constantine moved a great deal of wealth out of Old Rome in order to found his New Rome, then left Old Rome to languish in a substantially weakened state, and it never recovered. But there was another reason for the move: Constantine was riding a wave of newfound passion that had to do with the spread of Christianity, and it took him to Eastern Mediterranean where Christianity first took root. It was a conscious decision to leave the old pagan Rome behind and to construct a new, Christian Rome. Although both Christian and pagan ceremonies were performed there at first, the pagan ones were soon abandoned.

    New Rome became the center of Christian learning, where the Bible and other Christian writings were translated into many languages, including Slavonic, this being an essential step in the spread of Christianity throughout Eurasia—except for Western Europe, which lapsed into a Dark Age. There, Latin-based learning was kept barely alive by monks who toiled in scriptoria, who were barely alive themselves from cold, hunger and ennui. The Catholic priesthood, which coalesced into an authoritarian structure—the Papacy—was eager to keep the population ignorant because this made it easier to control and exploit. Instead of translating the Bible into the vernaculars and teaching parishioners to read, they resorted to teaching Christian doctrine by means of idolatrous sentimentalist dioramas. The reaction to this repression of learning, when it came, was the Protestant Reformation. It resulted in a great deal of mindless slaughter and led to the development of yet another abomination: literalist interpretations of the Bible by Protestant sects and apocalyptic cults. Thus, Constantine’s decision to leave Old Rome to languish turned out to be a very positive one, giving us a millennium of cultural development in the east, and a very negative one, giving us the Dark Age and the Thirty Years’ War which caused devastation and population loss throughout Western Europe.

    What does this have to do with the Five Stages of Collapse? It shows that collapses are local phenomena. Elsewhere, life goes on, sometimes better than before. Collapses can have internal causes (resources run out) or they can be externally triggered (the world moves on). But the collapse sequence remains the same: those in control are loath to admit what is happening, and pretend that it isn’t happening. Next, they get defunded (financial collapse). Next, they lose the ability to import stuff (commercial collapse). Next, their public institutions stop functioning (political collapse). Then society breaks down. And only then, after all that, do people finally realize that the problem was inside their heads all along (cultural collapse). Quickly adopting a better, more right-thinking culture is, of course, a good idea. An alternative is to go through a Dark Age followed by an extended period of mindless slaughter.

    What does this have to do with today’s world? Well, if you notice, there is a particular country in the world that has a major problem: it consumes a lot more than it produces. Also, it consumes a lot of products but most of what it produces are services—for itself, which tend to be overpriced and are of very little use to anyone else, but it proudly counts this expensive mutual back-scratching as part of its Gross Domestic Product. It papers over the giant gap between its (real, physical) production and its (real, physical) consumption using accounting tricks, and it thinks that it can go on doing this forever. The rest of the world disagrees, and makes its displeasure known by gradually defunding this country. It could abandon its culture of mindless overconsumption and of spreading "freedom and democracy" by military means before circumstances force it to, but it refuses to do so, running the risk of being abandoned just like Old Rome was.

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  7. #214
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    https://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nat...-here-and-now/

    Ominous Tendings in the Nervous Here and Now

    Unfortunately for the nation, the RussiaGate fiasco is only half over. There is just too much documented official turpitude on the public record for the authorities to answer for and the institutional damage runs too deep. Act One, the Mueller investigation, was a 22-month circle-jerk of prosecutorial misconduct and media malfeasance. Act Two will be the circular firing squad of former officials assassinating each other’s character to desperately avoid prosecution.
    In the meantime, there is the nation’s business which has been hopelessly burdened by an hallucinatory overlay of Wokester idiocy emanating from the campuses, so that even in the absence of the Mueller distraction every organized endeavor in this land from-sea-to-shining-sea is paralyzed by race-and-gender hustles. Next up: a national debate over reparations for slavery in the never-ending quest to monetize moral posturing. Won’t that be a mighty string of knots to untangle? Who qualifies, exactly? What about the indigenous people whose lands were overrun? And what about the Japanese interned in 1941? And what about women prevented from earning salaries all those lost decades of housewifery? And what about the brown people from many lands whose families did not come here until slavery was a long time gone? Do Silicon Valley engineers from India, and thoracic surgeons from the Philippines have to pay up for the sins of Whitey?

    That circus won’t stop until America gets whapped upside the head by economic reality and, really, who is paying attention to that? The shale oil “miracle” has put even the superstars of economic commentary to sleep, though the quandary in plain sight is that the mighty flow of shale oil doesn’t pencil out as a money-making enterprise, and the whole project is destined to fall part even more rapidly than in the decade since it was ramped up. When the private oil companies finally sink into bankruptcy, the obvious “solution” will be to nationalize the industry — a giant step toward destroying the dollar and whatever residual value the industry might have had.

    After a month-long case of influenza around Christmas time, the financial markets recovered and are once again demonstrating that they only go up — in defiance of the laws of physics, which actually do apply to markets and economies. It’s a fantastic stunt of computer algo math and misplaced faith in magic, and when it all blows up, as it must, it will make all the other delusions spinning in American life look like mere passing impure thoughts. The notional wealth involved — which is to say, the wealth of nations — has two ways to evaporate: either the stocks, bonds, and other derivatives lose their value, or the money that they represent loses its value. In either case the wealth will be gone and America will be left with the sad recognition that it is broke both privately and publicly.

    In the background lay the ticking time bombs of health care, college loan debt, and pension funds. These are rackets and Ponzi schemes. Before we get to Medicare-for-all, I’d like to see congress pass one simple law requiring all medical service “providers” in the land to publicly post the price of all their services, from the cost of heart transplants down to those $90 Tylenols they dispense. Let’s see how that affects the lawless hocus-pocus of insurance companies “negotiating” their payments with the medical corporatocracy before we go whole-hog for a nationalized health service. The colleges have already destroyed themselves intellectually, and thereby the value of their overpriced credentialing services. The smaller colleges are already folding, and many more will follow now until higher education becomes a boutique industry.

    The pension funds are truly big, ominous bombs, because when they fail, they will set up unresolvable fiscal problems that will turn ugly and political. Even if the federal government attempts some kind of “one-time” bail-out, it will not solve the embedded Ponzi problem of a system that has to pay off an ever-expanding pool of claims with an ever-diminishing stream of revenue. It will only be another swipe of the blade cutting off the legs of the US dollar so that it in the end every pensioner will receive his-or-her promised payout in dollars that are increasingly worthless. We may even discover that the opioid epidemic has been the only thing keeping the immiserated denizens of Flyover-land from resorting to violent insurrection.
    These internal problems of the USA point in the direction of states and whole regions stealthily seceding from a federal system that can’t run itself competently at scale anymore. The process has already begun in such acts of defiance as “sanctuary states” and the burgeoning marijuana industry. Unlike the calamity of 1861, though, there may be no way to even attempt to hold the old Union together, even by force. Instead, as is the case with all foundering empires, the end will be a sickening slide into a new and strange disposition of things. One of the last successful acts of the American empire may be to send the RussiaGate instigators to jail.

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  9. #215
    Senior Member NotAPretender's Avatar
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    This guy is a real optimist, huh. Wow! Yeah, things suck but perhaps what is considered fantasy today could be reality tomorrow...like a moneyless society...a different metric for determining value? Humans as sad as they may be at least try to survive.

    Speaking to the incapability of Federal Government to govern; that is a highly partisan perspective but an analogy can be drawn, nonetheless....There is autonomy in 'sanctuary city-states' functioning under the umbrella of the overlord called Federal Government. Well, there you have it...according to the author the Feds can't handle it...so why would the concept and behavior of a global society end in totalitarianism. It, by logical comparison could not handle it, resulting in autonomy for the more granular entities. The benefit would be that the global overlords would ostensibly be a unit working together to the benefit of the little ones.
    "We are one thought away from changing the world!"

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  11. #216
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    Quote Originally posted by NotAPretender View Post
    This guy is a real optimist, huh. Wow! Yeah, things suck but perhaps what is considered fantasy today could be reality tomorrow...like a moneyless society...a different metric for determining value? Humans as sad as they may be at least try to survive.

    Speaking to the incapability of Federal Government to govern; that is a highly partisan perspective but an analogy can be drawn, nonetheless....There is autonomy in 'sanctuary city-states' functioning under the umbrella of the overlord called Federal Government. Well, there you have it...according to the author the Feds can't handle it...so why would the concept and behavior of a global society end in totalitarianism. It, by logical comparison could not handle it, resulting in autonomy for the more granular entities. The benefit would be that the global overlords would ostensibly be a unit working together to the benefit of the little ones.
    Kunstler is a materialist, so he takes the concept of entropy to its logical conclusion, which is that all complex systems break down and die in the end. Of course the part that materialists miss is that life itself would be impossible if entropy really were the overriding and overarching principle of the universe. What we see is actually the opposite, wherever there is life (a spark of the divine), complex systems become ever more intricate and refined with the passage of time, through a process known as evolution. I am an optimist, in that I see the current travails of humanity as growing pains, a necessary side-effect of evolution. We are becoming a higher species, whether we know it or not. Of course, this can only be acknowledged if we allow for a spiritual or divine component in life. Once you remove the divine spark, entropy does indeed take over.

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  13. #217
    Senior Member NotAPretender's Avatar
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    makes sense to me...and there is the concept of 'locality'. In an open system events happen constantly that are 'negentropic'. Planets form from chaos, cyclic redundancy which is built into the fabric of the cosmos corrects entropic errors. It goes on and it does seem to end in infinity (source) as the final answer to which wins out. Energy is never lost according to Isaac Newton.
    "We are one thought away from changing the world!"

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