Watch out for the Holnists.
November 26, 2008 8:23 AM   Subscribe

Russian professor and information warrior, Igor Panarin, has predicted the collapse and breakup of the USA. (Potential artists' renderings 1 2) The interview was originally reported in the Russian newspaper, Izvestia. (Google Translated) The prediction has been met with varying levels of credulity, scoffed at by some and embraced by others. The prediction, which goes so far as to speculate exactly how the US might reorganize, was posted to Drudge and has offended many bloggers who, while excited by the prospects of secession, are insulted by the insinuation that the south may go Hispanic and not Confederate.
posted by Telf (106 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
I seem to recall seeing an identical post (and I mean identical) to this one yesterday. Maybe on another site...
posted by a3matrix at 8:26 AM on November 26, 2008


Bagsy the one that isn't "Real America".
posted by Artw at 8:28 AM on November 26, 2008


He doesn't sound all that crazy (which is scary), but this made me laugh: the northern states, where the influence from Canada is strong.

Every morning, when I wake up NH for my drive to MA, I turn on the Canadian news to find out what Canada is up to first. And the US government as a whole and the northern states in particular, are famous for adopting Canadian health care, civil liberties and so forth from Canada.
posted by DU at 8:30 AM on November 26, 2008 [3 favorites]


Russian professor believes in the Amero conspiracy; shows himself to be just as gullible and worthy of complete dismissal as right-wing kooks.
posted by yhbc at 8:30 AM on November 26, 2008


Oh great, now I will have to salute a picture of Dan Akroyd every morning? I mean, I do that anyway but I don't want to have to do it.

Will Paul Shaffer and the World's Most Dangerous Band be in the cabinet of the new country of Canorkada?
posted by Mister_A at 8:32 AM on November 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Watch out for the Holnists

You, sir, are the winner.
posted by Roman Graves at 8:33 AM on November 26, 2008


Also, as a Kentuckian, I'm not sure if this means I'll be eating megas for breakfast or partying with Native Americans.
posted by Roman Graves at 8:36 AM on November 26, 2008


"Information warrior"? Information warrior? That is one seriously dumb phrase.

This possibility occurred to me after the 2004 election when I saw a joke map that divided the U.S. into the U.S. and Jesusland. The idea shocked me at first and then, as I considered it further, seemed very unlikely but not impossible. The Roman Empire fell, and so have many empires and political conglomerates since then. Why should the U.S. be impervious? And it struck me as something that could be good. The U.S. is too big and too powerful. Its government can basically do whatever it wants. If it splintered, the smaller entities would have to start working cooperatively with others in order to survive.
posted by orange swan at 8:37 AM on November 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


I believe the following will collapse soon:

1. Brad and Angelina's relationship.
2. The Jacksonville Jaguars' chances of a winning season.
3. A souffle that someone, somewhere, is making right at this very moment.

Where's my FPP?
posted by Optamystic at 8:37 AM on November 26, 2008 [6 favorites]


See also: various comic books.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:39 AM on November 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


I can see Der Obama as President for Life of the New Socialist Blue States. As part of the our fascist infrastructure initiative, we'll build the supertrains interlinking the blue counties eg. Depart San Jose at 12:00, first stop in Las Vegas at 1:30, Albuquerque at 3:30, Denver at 5:30 and arriving in Chicago at 8:30.

The erstwhile "Bush Country" doesn't believe in "socialism" so they can suck it.
posted by troy at 8:39 AM on November 26, 2008


Optamystic: it's being held up by grand-standing senators. They're annoyed it was a souffle, and not an egg pie.
posted by boo_radley at 8:40 AM on November 26, 2008


Meh. It's just a ripoff of Edgar Pangborn's Davy.

Huh. Edgar Pangborn. Igor Panarin. Interesting.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:41 AM on November 26, 2008


He is overly impressed by race and immigration. That is probably a reflection of his origins, rather than actual political issues on the ground in the USA. Or, maybe an aspect of "Info War" (see his bio).
posted by Chuckles at 8:41 AM on November 26, 2008


Its government can basically do whatever it wants.

Except win in Iraq, rebuild New Orleans and provide healthcare to it's citizens.

Oh, you said wants.
posted by DU at 8:42 AM on November 26, 2008 [3 favorites]


Love the renderings from A Canticle for Leibowitz.
posted by Roger Dodger at 8:47 AM on November 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


> Russian professor believes in the Amero conspiracy;

From that "Amero conspiracy" link, I learn the proposed symbol for the Amero is an A inside a circle. This means either that creating a unified North America economic federation is a secret anarchist plot or that this is an object lesson in why economists are not semioticians.
posted by ardgedee at 8:48 AM on November 26, 2008


I wish we would do something just freaking insane with Alaska, like give it away to Denmark.
posted by troybob at 8:49 AM on November 26, 2008


Also, isn't "...was posted to Drudge..." a clue that this is a bit whackjobbish?
posted by ardgedee at 8:49 AM on November 26, 2008


Here be dragons!
posted by chillmost at 8:51 AM on November 26, 2008


Mad Max action! Surrender to me your grain or perish! Count me in.
posted by Mister_A at 8:55 AM on November 26, 2008


Why does he think a collapse of the US federal government would lead to a spontaneous formation of new regions based on racial differences? When the Soviet Union collapsed, didn't it basically just break up into its member republics? It seems to me that the US would just split up into individual states, if it split up at all, since every state has an independent government already.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:57 AM on November 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


All your States are belong to us.
posted by VicNebulous at 9:02 AM on November 26, 2008


WOLVERINES!!!!!!!
posted by Telf at 9:02 AM on November 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Just imagine if each state ended up with the nuclear weapons that are based there! Texas nukes! Florida nukes! North Dakota nukes!
posted by stinkycheese at 9:04 AM on November 26, 2008


If it splintered, the smaller entities would have to start working cooperatively with others in order to survive.

I beg to differ. Balkanization rarely spurs cooperation it seems to me. Wouldn't less resource rich states, especially if they are Jesusland warriors who have no problem whipping up their citizenry for battle against the infidels next door (BURN THE LIBERALS!!), simply invade, pillage, whatever those with more and desirable resources?
posted by spicynuts at 9:04 AM on November 26, 2008


Re: Alaska.
We accept your offer, and will take control of it immediately.

Sincerely,
Canada
posted by blue_beetle at 9:05 AM on November 26, 2008 [2 favorites]



Russian professor believes in the Amero conspiracy; shows himself to be just as gullible and worthy of complete dismissal as right-wing kooks.


Perhaps some of this skepticism should be excercised in equal tenor when discussing American predictions/analysis/interpretation of things going on in Russia/ex-Soviet Union.
posted by spicynuts at 9:07 AM on November 26, 2008 [4 favorites]


I was in Japan about a month ago staying with friends in Tochigi Prefecture. A gentleman friend of ours took us out to dinner one night and treated us to shabu-shabu and beer. The thing I've learned about accepting meals from people in Japan, especially from men over the age of 50, is that they are usually paying for an audience. Being foreigners, especially foreigners who speak Japanese, my husband and I seem to be especially sought after. So, usually, we'll get a free meal and we'll get talked at for a few hours; sometimes it's good and sometimes it's palm-to-face terrible, but we're captive of someone who desperately wants to impress us with their experiences and insight.

Now the particular gentleman who took us out that evening saw himself as a scholar of religion and history. He's never been a religious person, and there are few in Japan, but has spent a great deal of time reading whatever serious books he could find about the topic. From that vein he proceeded to lecture us on the branches of Christianity and US colonial history as well as the Christian-Muslim conflict at the center of the Balkan war. However, he got most of the details mixed up, including conflating the Eastern Orthodox Religion with Catholicism. It was like hearing a version of history that had gone through dozens of rounds of telephone.

It struck me how hard it is to understand how religions fit together, especially when world events are thrown in. It was interesting to hear how these things appeared to a complete outsider, a smart one, but one completely without context. Understanding the character of the United States, especially regional character is much the same way.

Looking at the links above, and especially the map reflecting the regional splits, I get the same sort of know-it-all outsider vibe. I'm not sure if Professor Panarin has spent much time in the United States, or if he has, much time outside of major coastal cities. He seems to have an assessment of the regions of the United States gleaned from articles and books and not much from first-hand, personal experience. As a result, he gets the details wrong in ways that are obvious to people who do have that primary experience. It's like having a book-learned train nerd lecture an engineer about what it feels like to drive a freight train.
posted by Alison at 9:07 AM on November 26, 2008 [35 favorites]


Why does he think a collapse of the US federal government would lead to a spontaneous formation of new regions based on racial differences?

This is really interesting. The reason is, I would say, because that's the way the cookie has been crumbling for the past, say, two hundred years. Early modern empires were largely trans-ethnic. Though they had a dominant nation (Russia in the Russian empire), the royal families were seen to be somehow "beyond" ethnicity. Then came nationalism and the empires broke up into nations (cf. Italian Unification, German Unification, Wilsonianism). The USSR's republics were explicitly national. It broke up into nation-states (though not very homogeneous ones in most cases). Whether the same would happen in the US is not clear, but if present trends continue....
posted by MarshallPoe at 9:09 AM on November 26, 2008


Perhaps some of this skepticism should be excercised in equal tenor when discussing American predictions/analysis/interpretation of things going on in Russia/ex-Soviet Union.

I'm not sure substantiated reports of journalists being murdered, dissidents and political opponents being poisoned, and neighbors being invaded or economically bullied by Russia's power elite are conspiracy theories on quite the same level, but to each her own.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:13 AM on November 26, 2008 [7 favorites]


From that "Amero conspiracy" link, I learn the proposed symbol for the Amero is an A inside a circle. This means either that creating a unified North America economic federation is a secret anarchist plot or that this is an object lesson in why economists are not semioticians.

That's funny because my first thought was Patton's 3rd Army rolling across Europe.
posted by Pollomacho at 9:14 AM on November 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


He predicted that the U.S. will break up into six parts - the Pacific coast, with its growing Chinese population; the South, with its Hispanics; Texas, where independence movements are on the rise; the Atlantic coast, with its distinct and separate mentality; five of the poorer central states with their large Native American populations; and the northern states, where the influence from Canada is strong.

Christ, what a dipshit.

Professor, if you really believe that Asians in California represent a separatist threat or any of that other gibberish you spout, you need to purchase two tickets.

1.) The first is to the USA.

2.) The second is to Planet Earth.

(Nice post, btw. Very entertaining!)
posted by jason's_planet at 9:15 AM on November 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think Larry Turtledove wrote a daft book about this...

Ah yes, The Disunited States of America.
posted by Happy Dave at 9:17 AM on November 26, 2008


This is some of the dumbest shit I've ever seen in my life.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 9:22 AM on November 26, 2008 [3 favorites]


Two more points:

Since posting, I've been doing some reading on modern confederates, America Firsters, etc. After foolishly wading in to Free Republic's discussion of this article, I found the name Thomas Chittum. Aparently he wrote a book about the balkanization of the US over "racial" lines. It's available here for free in PDF.

Secondly, and this is my fault, the linked maps are a reference to A Canticle for Leibowitz and not Panarin's projections. I was trying to stuff a few sci-fi winks into the post.
posted by Telf at 9:26 AM on November 26, 2008


I'm not sure substantiated reports of journalists being murdered, dissidents and political opponents being poisoned, and neighbors being invaded or economically bullied by Russia's power elite are conspiracy theories on quite the same level, but to each her own.

Reports of verifiable facts are not analysis. I am talking about predictions, analysis, etc. Are you saying that this piece of 'journalism' by this professor is factual reporting?
posted by spicynuts at 9:30 AM on November 26, 2008


Eh... seems like a long shot. But you have to admit, he ought to know something about empires that collapse and split up.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:31 AM on November 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Break up the Yankees!
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:32 AM on November 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


In other news, fanfic is now acceptable as "Political Analysis".
posted by qvantamon at 9:33 AM on November 26, 2008 [3 favorites]


Why does he think a collapse of the US federal government would lead to a spontaneous formation of new regions based on racial differences?

Maybe he's a closet fan of the Turner Diaries?

The breaking up of the US has been a long-standing staple in post-apocalyptic and dystopian fiction in the US. Just off the top of my head, in addition to the Turner Diaries, I can think of Callenbach's Ecotopia, Octavia Butler's fabulous books, Kim Stanley Robinson's decent but less fabulous Three Californias Trilogy, and any of a thousand interchangeable "cyberpunk" books.

Particularly here in the Pacific Northwest, there is a low-grade secessionist fantasy that floats around in books and conversations. Whether you think of it as Pacific Rim (running from the western edge of Chile up and around to Japan), or as a smaller intermountain west (running from about Humbolt up into BC or even Alaska, and east to whichever mountain range you pick as a natural border), it's sometimes easier to imagine those cross-border commonalities than it is to find real-world common ground with people in New Hampshire or Georgia.

But it's really hard to see how it could move from being more than just a silly fantasy, though -- even with the damage of the Bush years and imagining future catastrophes, the US has enormous cohesiveness and institutional stability. There simply aren't effective regional independence parties outside of Puerto Rico and (perhaps) Alaska. Local crackpots, sure, but not the decades-long activism and repression that predated the collapse of the USSR.
posted by Forktine at 9:35 AM on November 26, 2008


So the economic meltdown leads to the breakup of America? How does this help exactly? If we split the debt up equally, nothing really changes. If we default, wouldn't it be better to do that as one big strong country instead of a bunch of little weak ones? And if splitting up somehow implies it's no longer our debt, couldn't we just split into two and accomplish this? I'm thinking a big new country called Obamanation and leaving a small country to bear the name of the now bankrupt US of A. I'll leave it open for debate, but my first idea is to sacrifice the Michigan peninsula for the greater good.
posted by ShadowCrash at 9:38 AM on November 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


He seems to have an assessment of the regions of the United States gleaned from articles and books and not much from first-hand, personal experience. As a result, he gets the details wrong in ways that are obvious to people who do have that primary experience.

I got that too. I mean, I admit I know the USA mostly through the media but I have at least set foot in the country a few times in a few different regions.

The most glaring example of weirdness I saw was the prediction for the "Nomad Territories" - I mean does anyone expect that even though that places like North Dakota have a small population density that its controlling interests would allow its commerical farms, oil wells, and nuclear weapons to be controlled some wishy-washy group of nomads? This doesn't even look like plausible sci-fi to me.

But if Nomads do take over North Dakota, I am looking forward to building the Great Well of Saskatchewan. It should be noted that lots of right-wingers call Regina, "Red China" already.
posted by Deep Dish at 9:39 AM on November 26, 2008


Well = Wall
posted by Deep Dish at 9:39 AM on November 26, 2008


Reading the articles and blog posts linked in the OP, it seems that something rather important has gone missing in translation - the pragmatics of communication, the context and what's really being said. The predictions in question were first printed in a Russian newspaper, at a time when the world financial crisis has started to affect Russia as well. People are panicking and have started to exchange their rubles for dollars and euros; there are rumors about devaluation of the Ruble. What this man is saying, however, is that the dollar is unsafe and the 100 Dollar bills hidden in your sock drawer are about to be "frozen". The ruble, on the other hand, is implied to be safe and everyone's about to start using it. Furthermore, the US is heading down the road to Hell, while Russia will come out of the crisis on top (and even get Alaska as a bonus).
posted by daniel_charms at 9:40 AM on November 26, 2008 [4 favorites]


What a puny plan!
posted by washburn at 9:41 AM on November 26, 2008


The blue dotted areas will be called Cockistan and the Red dotted areas will be Gynopolis.

As for the maps provided: Really?
posted by zerobyproxy at 9:45 AM on November 26, 2008


Well, according to this (Russian), "Professor" Panarin completed the Orlovskaya KGB Military Communications Academy and studied in the psychology department of the Military-Political Academy. His 1997 doctoral dissertation is entitled "Informational/psychological provisions for Russian state security." Frequently supported the restriction of the freedoms of mass media during terrorist attacks and warned that Russia is in danger of external economical control.


Yeah, that's about all I need to know.
posted by Krrrlson at 9:45 AM on November 26, 2008


Furthermore, the US is heading down the road to Hell, while Russia will come out of the crisis on top (and even get Alaska as a bonus).

Oh, man. Be careful what you wish for, Russia.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:46 AM on November 26, 2008 [3 favorites]


Deep Dish: the maps mentioning nomads are from the book A Canticle for Leibowitz (wherein America splinters and falls into a new Dark Age after nuclear war); they are not Panarin's predicted post-American states.
posted by ubersturm at 9:47 AM on November 26, 2008


I'm all for the sovereign nation of Cascadia here on the Pacific side, but only if someone else leaves first. (I'm looking at you, Texas.)
posted by Caduceus at 9:48 AM on November 26, 2008


I am looking forward to building the Great Wall of Saskatchewan.

You do realize that the Monguls and Manchu took over China and that the Wall, though Great in size, was not so great in defense, right?
posted by Pollomacho at 9:52 AM on November 26, 2008


I believe there was just now an earthquake, due to the United States' Ancestors spinning and attempting to break out of their graves... my 2 grandfathers included.
posted by JoeXIII007 at 9:52 AM on November 26, 2008


Furthermore, the US is heading down the road to Hell, while Russia will come out of the crisis on top (and even get Alaska as a bonus).

Oh dear, I really can see Russia from my house!
posted by Pollomacho at 9:53 AM on November 26, 2008


It's like trying to understand the middle east by reading militant blogs. This guy's understanding of the US is clearly informed by the rightwing nutbags who are posting his stuff. I love how right-wing blogger in the last link thinks the Alaskans would "resist" the Russians. Somehow I don't think the Sarah Palin lead milita would fare better then Napoleon and Hitler in fighting the Russians.
posted by delmoi at 9:56 AM on November 26, 2008


Another thing just occurred to me: back in the 90's, many predictions were made about Russia breaking up into several different regions/countries in the near future, invariably by American experts who invariably seemed to be clueless about Russia. It's quite likely that by predicting the imminent breakup of the United States, Panarin is trying to "get back" at those people.
posted by daniel_charms at 10:01 AM on November 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


> Mad Max action! Surrender to me your grain or perish! Count me in.

Personally, I just don't need none of that Mad Max bullshit.
posted by brennen at 10:03 AM on November 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


Also, what Krrrlson said.
posted by daniel_charms at 10:06 AM on November 26, 2008


You do realize that the Monguls and Manchu took over China and that the Wall, though Great in size, was not so great in defense, right?

Well...

Towards the end of the Ming Dynasty, the Great Wall helped defend the empire against the Manchu invasions that began around 1600. Under the military command of Yuan Chonghuan, the Ming army held off the Manchus at the heavily fortified Shanhaiguan pass, preventing the Manchus from entering the Chinese heartland. The Manchus were finally able to cross the Great Wall in 1644, when the gates at Shanhaiguan were opened by Wu Sangui, a Ming border general who disliked the activities of rulers of the Shun Dynasty. The Manchus quickly seized Beijing, and defeated the newly founded Shun Dynasty and remaining Ming resistance, to establish the Qing Dynasty.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:06 AM on November 26, 2008


Viva Reconquista!
posted by Stynxno at 10:16 AM on November 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Another thing just occurred to me: back in the 90's, many predictions were made about Russia breaking up into several different regions/countries in the near future, invariably by American experts who invariably seemed to be clueless about Russia.

I think I was one of those people. If you mean the 80s, then "we" were right--the USSR did break up. If you mean the 90s, then "we" were right again (cf. Chechnia, Abkhasia, etc.). Anyway, enough defense of my profession. Our Russian friend is right about one thing: nothing lasts forever, folks. All empires fall. Ours will be no different. The question is only how, when, and what will emerge from the rubble. The general tendency since about 1900 has been fission (cf. Balkanization). Empires have broken up into nation-states, and a supposedly homogeneous nation-states have broken up into smaller nation-states. Just how the U.S. fits into this picture, I don't know. But it will.
posted by MarshallPoe at 10:17 AM on November 26, 2008


Re: Alaska.
We accept your offer, and will take control of it immediately.

Sincerely,
Canada


P.S. We will send you back Palin, postage due.
posted by never used baby shoes at 10:28 AM on November 26, 2008


Please don't paint all Alaskans with the Palin brush. Not everybody in that great state is a whackjob, just as everybody in Wyoming isn't created in Cheney's image.

I do like the Leibowitz maps, though. I can imagine the criteria for a visa to visit Jesusland.
posted by Man with Lantern at 10:28 AM on November 26, 2008


This theory is just a displacement of anxieties about Russia's own fate onto America, which is a very, very old strategy Russians use in order to avoid facing up to their country's imminent decline (mainly due to demographic shifts and lack of regional economic decentralization).

If you mean the 90s, then "we" were right again (cf. Chechnia, Abkhasia, etc.)

Are you serious? Abkhazia is not a part of Russia (i.e., the former RSFSR) and never was, so that is entirely irrelevant. Chechnya, I'll grant you--that is pretty much the only example, unless you count the separatist movements in Dagestan. But the kinds of things people were predicting included the European part of Russia separating from the Asian part and whatnot. You were laughably, ridiculously wrong, and it's unbelievable that you would pretend otherwise.
posted by nasreddin at 10:29 AM on November 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Please don't paint all Alaskans with the Palin brush.

Wasn't my intent - just felt she was the one Canada wouldn't want to keep. I actually have a good friend from Alaska, so I know they aren't all "whackjobs."
posted by never used baby shoes at 10:32 AM on November 26, 2008


Yeah, this guy's key failing is in thinking that ethnic distinctions are important enough in the USA to warrant territorial separation. That holds true in the former USSR, not so much in USA.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:36 AM on November 26, 2008


But the kinds of things people were predicting included the European part of Russia separating from the Asian part and whatnot. You were laughably, ridiculously wrong, and it's unbelievable that you would pretend otherwise.

Just who these "people" were I don't know. It wasn't me. That said, every legitimate U.S. trained Russia expert knew that there would be considerable ethnic separatism in the RFSFR and the "Near Abroad" after '91 and that was dead on. Here are two predictions we can revisit in, say, 100 years: Russia will further segment and China will fall into several large pieces. The US will remain unitary.
posted by MarshallPoe at 10:43 AM on November 26, 2008


Astonishingly enough, this article is already the second Google hit for "Holnists"(!)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:47 AM on November 26, 2008


The first thing I thought about when seeing this on Digg this morning was Dmitry Orlov. Back in 2006 Mr. Orlov wrote this pretty piece entitled Closing the Collapse Gap. In it, Mr. Orlov argues that the US will suffer a collapse in the forseeable future and compares and contrasts what the effects of collapse of the United States would look like compared to what the USSR went through.

He details various ways that the housing, transportation, employment, fiscal, familial, food, medicine, education and energy components of the two societies differ and describes how the Soviet Union was better prepared for economic collapse that the US is in now. Main points include the Russian 'make it work' mindset vs. American 'not worth fixing' mentality and also that the means of production are owned by the state in Russia and by the corporations in America. Where state institutions are inefficient and slow to fail, private sector institutions will be quick to dissolve and will leave little behind to salvage. Where Russians were able to remain living in their state owned houses after collapse, today's failed mortgages are leaving homes in the hands of banks and will lead to evictions and exoduses of people from their homes.

Orlov recently followed up his last piece just this month with The Five Stages of Collapse, arguing that we are well into Stage 1, the Financial Collapse, which is soon to be followed by Commercial, Political, Societal, and Cultural collapse. While I agree that it appears we in the midst of the first two, it remains to be seen just how far things go in the next few years. Orlov isn't all doom and gloom, and while I'm not buying into the inevitable collapse of the US government, I think that all things are possible and that it would be better to be well informed about such matters in order to prevent them from occurring.

We've got a ways to go before we look like Thomas Cole's Destruction of Empire, although now might be a good time to read though this War Vegetable Gardening book or stock up on a year's supply of non-perishable food.
posted by daHIFI at 10:51 AM on November 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


Just imagine if each state ended up with the nuclear weapons that are based there! Texas nukes! Florida nukes! North Dakota nukes!

Woo! Albuquerque, New Mexico wins.
posted by signalnine at 11:06 AM on November 26, 2008


Here's a legitimate, non-google-translated English copy of the article that's clears up some ambiguities in the other version.

It seems that old Soviet wonks have a cottage industry in predicting the demise of the US. In addition to the above mentioned Dmitry Orlov, Vsevolod Istomin has made similar predictions. His model contains 19 post-united states including: The Confederation of the Southern States, New Italy, The Mormon State of Utah, and the exotic-sounding Upper Michigan.
posted by Telf at 11:15 AM on November 26, 2008


The best bit: "This is a pyramid, which has to collapse."



Like, you know, all the other historical pyramids.
posted by cmyr at 11:16 AM on November 26, 2008 [5 favorites]


Watch out for the Holnists

I can only hope that I wind up in a town where Tom Petty is the mayor.
posted by taschenrechner at 11:19 AM on November 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


"There are a number of reasons. First, the financial problems of the USA will increase. Millions of citizens have already lost their savings. Prices and unemployment keep growing."

The professor's first problem: thinking US citizens had savings of any kind.

From there it should be easy to knock down the rest of his ridiculous assumptions.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 11:19 AM on November 26, 2008


Cmyr, I think he may have been referring to a pyramid scheme.
posted by daHIFI at 11:21 AM on November 26, 2008


our media is too centralized to splinter regionally and our differences are too diffused around the nation for people to coalesce around them.

maybe in 40 years the professor will be proved correct, maybe.
posted by Glibpaxman at 11:32 AM on November 26, 2008


Wait, so I'm confused: is California the Asian bit or the Hispanic bit? Are we the Pacific or the South? If we get to chose I'd like to go with the Hispanic bit, but only because I already speak the language. No offense to all the Asians that are doing such a good job at taking over.
posted by ob at 11:33 AM on November 26, 2008


> sacrifice the Michigan peninsula for the greater good.

Um. Which one?
posted by jock@law at 11:36 AM on November 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Russian friend is right about one thing: nothing lasts forever, folks. All empires fall. Ours will be no different. The question is only how, when, and what will emerge from the rubble

You could argue that in some respects the British Empire never fell. The UK is still a rich, powerful country... Canada, Australia, New Zealand... all good places to live which enjoy some of the best quality of life on Earth. India saw a lot of strife early on, the African colonies don't enjoy these luxuries, but the US doesn't have an India or Zimbabwe. Of course, Britain isn't the richest and most powerful country anymore, but the decline didn't cause widespread, terrible strife in the homeland. The US of course, shares a lot of history and heritage with Britain... the decline of the British Empire is probably the most realistic example of what a declining American empire might look like.
posted by Deep Dish at 11:37 AM on November 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


It struck me how hard it is to understand how religions fit together, especially when world events are thrown in. It was interesting to hear how these things appeared to a complete outsider, a smart one, but one completely without context.

Imagine you've got a whole group of people like this -- no firsthand knowledge of a region, but with lots of half-assed opinions about how things will proceed, and about who the relevant groups are. Now imagine this group with actual power.

Reading this put me in mind of the run-up to the Iraq war. And I just finished reading David Halberstam's The Best and the Brightest, which documents the scaling up of American involvement in Vietnam circa 1963-1966. As nutty as Panarin sounds, this sort of tone-deaf analysis occasionally becomes a basis for policy. Yikes.
posted by Killick at 11:38 AM on November 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


It may not look like it from the inside, or on short time-scales, but the US has perhaps the world's best change-management architecture. While previous empires have cracked under the strain of changing circumstances, the US, for all its flaws, is still deeply dynamic and innovative compared to most countries, and is much better equipped to stave off collapse by simply allowing itself to be changed in a comparatively peaceful and orderly fashion.

If an empire tries to be a giant stone pillar, it will inevitably crack and fall; if it tries to be like water, it will flow the way it needs to go, and be no less powerful as a result.

In practical terms, this is why failure must be allowed - to make way for replacements that know how to succeed. Never-ending bailouts just preserve broken institutions.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 11:58 AM on November 26, 2008


The US has survived a Civil War and several decade-long economic depression, as well as massive immigration by the very same mutually hostile ethnic and religious groups that ended up tearing Europe apart. I'm pretty confident that we'll be able to deal with a run-of-the-mill financial breakdown.
posted by AdamCSnider at 12:14 PM on November 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


I agree with AdamCSnider that America will survive the world's first major internet recession, and based on the timelines of past recessions, will probably be recovering within a year. On the other hand, a dissolution of America might be worth it if we can have an entire region listed as "Nomads".
posted by happyroach at 12:29 PM on November 26, 2008


I wonder what the currency of the Independent City-State of Manahatta will be?

"Josephine Wu tapped her foot on the platform. The airship was late, again, and she forgot to bring a crossword puzzle, again. She crossed the waiting area to a small kiosk. Gum, she thought, gum would help the nerves or at least give her nerves focus. Plus she read once that chewing gum burns calories. Every little bit helps.

The man behind the kiosk turned. Josephine winced. A Mohawk. God. And even those stupid little earrings. Everyone thinks their Mohican now.

"A New York Times and a Chelsea Chew."

"3 Pigeons."

"What?! It was 2 last week!"

"Inflation."

Josephine rolled her eyes. She dug in her purse for a 5 Pige Note, got her paper, her gum, and her change in old Rat coins.

"Fauxhican" she hissed, and turned back to the platform."

posted by The Whelk at 12:41 PM on November 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


a dissolution of America might be worth it if we can have an entire region listed as "Nomads".


Here There Be Montanans.
posted by The Whelk at 12:42 PM on November 26, 2008


I didn't read the article, but...

Is there any mention of how many bonus armies you would get if you could successfully hold on to North America for more than one turn?
posted by briank at 12:49 PM on November 26, 2008


I'm not so knowledgeable on this, so I wonder: Is it possible we are trying to put too many people under one government for it to be possible to maintain the same ideals? The EU is moving toward something more united in Europe, but do the nations still maintain more autonomy than the states do here? Just in a strange way it feels like we might do better if we could split up into more autonomous regions--not down to the state level.
posted by troybob at 1:02 PM on November 26, 2008


the Wall, though Great in size, was not so great in defense, right?

GODDAMN MONGORRIANS!!!
posted by DecemberBoy at 1:54 PM on November 26, 2008


daHIFI: Thanks for posting the Orlov stuff. The more I read, the more I find his stuff aligned with what I've long thought were my more paranoid fears--stuff I always thought I had a gut feeling about, though I lack the depth of knowledge to assess it rationally. But I've long been in the mindset of trying to realign my perceptions of need versus desire (also giving up a car, over 12 years ago), and feeling like I should work on lowering my expectations, to make myself more prepared--mentally, at least--for something that is coming. One of my struggles is trying to weigh how much less I should obsess over it to be able to enjoy life in the moment, versus how much I should be thinking about it and trying to act to minimize, to whatever degree possible, the fallout for me and those who are close. I try to dismiss it is the kind of doomsday paranoia that exists in all times and places, but I can never quite shake it.
posted by troybob at 1:57 PM on November 26, 2008


Wasn't this a TV show?
posted by IvoShandor at 2:13 PM on November 26, 2008


Yeah, this guy's key failing is in thinking that ethnic distinctions are important enough in the USA to warrant territorial separation.

I agree he's overestimating, or at least over-formalizing, the racial/ethnic divides in America today.

But if you take the worst of today's emotion-driven chaos, as seen during the recent election, and project out a couple of decades, it's not impossible to imagine that future conditions could inspire latinos, whites, and blacks (at least) to relocate or concentrate in "safer" parts of the USA where there are more "people like them."

This is definitely not anything I would call "progress", and I have a hard time imagining this extending to groups like "Chinese" as easily... but imagine if the deep economic collapse + racial/immigration tensions continue to ratchet up and up and up.
posted by rokusan at 2:19 PM on November 26, 2008


I love the maps, though. The fact that I was born in the future-land of the Nomad Hordes explains a lot about my wanderlust, too.
posted by rokusan at 2:21 PM on November 26, 2008


Oh man! If Canada or Denmark take over Alaska, I am totally going back! Yay! But wait, currently I am in Florida, where I am expecting a "Handmaid's Tale" take over. They won't let me leave and will probably make me work in the cane fields, or something.
posted by Belle O'Cosity at 2:34 PM on November 26, 2008


All the comics fans here are reading DMZ, right?
posted by Artw at 2:47 PM on November 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


In the Old World, nations are known to be temporary, and have a tendency to split along ethnic lines. Of course, assuming this rule would apply to North America betrays a fundamental ignorance of the region's history and very nature as a cultural party mix. Ethnicity just doesn't mean as much to people when such a high percentage aren't indigenous.

Is it possible we are trying to put too many people under one government for it to be possible to maintain the same ideals? The EU is moving toward something more united in Europe, but do the nations still maintain more autonomy than the states do here? Just in a strange way it feels like we might do better if we could split up into more autonomous regions--not down to the state level.

I doubt it. Basically, Unification = Pacification. It's even true when membership is forced upon a region by an expanding empire. If two neighboring states become part of a larger unit (be it EU or USA or USSR or Ottoman), they are far less likely to start wars over territory; if their shared border is rendered essentially meaningless, why spill blood moving it around?
posted by Sys Rq at 2:51 PM on November 26, 2008


Don't worry folks, the US is too big to fail. The UN will bail us out.
posted by klangklangston at 2:52 PM on November 26, 2008


The Nine Nations of North America is the first thing I thought of when I saw this post, and a more believable pattern of eventual breakup of the unwieldy continental US.
posted by jtron at 3:03 PM on November 26, 2008


I agree with all of the above that he’s right that all empires fall.
But the U.S. wouldn’t collapse this way.
In fact, I strongly suspect the federal goverment will just slowly collapse into a less and less influential body - eventually. I think though the U.S. will always be the U.S.
There’s no reason for the states to cut off ties. Just a matter of effectiveness really. I mean - trucks. They pretty much make the world go ‘round. Even before trucks - it was wagons. Hauling crap is what links people. It pretty much made China (great silk road).

So no, we won’t balkanize that way any more than China would balkanize (granted they have the common ethnicity thing, but for the U.S. it’s almost a non-issue since that’s not a force that unites us, so loss either way is negligible). We might (similarly) lose puerto rico and all the rest of our protectorates. We might have to pull back from all our bases around the world. But that will happend long before we’d ever break up.

Anyway, if we’re going to get into hypothetical speculation, I strongly doubt the U.S. can be balkanized in terms of geography. It’s too interconnected. (doodz - Trux!)
This is not to say it can’t fall. But I think it would be superceded before it was balkanized.
That is - I suspect at some point actual territory to become superceded in terms of interests and methods of organization of power. It’s headed that direction anyway.
Oh, real estate will always be a factor. But even now we’re seeing economic blocs dominating resources regardless of national boundries, ethnic relations or geographical lines.

So, yeah, “Dune” before “The Postman.”
posted by Smedleyman at 3:51 PM on November 26, 2008


So no, we won’t balkanize that way any more than China would balkanize (granted they have the common ethnicity thing[...])

*cough*

posted by Sys Rq at 4:10 PM on November 26, 2008


Heh, China does havbe a habit of annexing nearby countries and then shouting SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP if anyone suggests they're not really part of China.
posted by Artw at 4:13 PM on November 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


Professor, if you really believe that Asians in California represent a separatist threat or any of that other gibberish you spout

The Russians have a thing about the Yellow Peril. When I was over there I was told, quite seriously, that the U.S. and Russia would ultimately have to put aside their differences (this was back in Commie days) and unite to protect civilization against the yellow hordes from the east.

My prediction: if the U.S. splits up, Western Mass will choose to go with New York to stick it to those hegemonic bastahds in Boston.
posted by languagehat at 5:08 PM on November 26, 2008


All the comics fans here are reading DMZ, right?

DMZ is excellent. Any comics fan who hasn't checked it out yet should do so.
posted by homunculus at 5:11 PM on November 26, 2008


My prediction: if the U.S. splits up, Western Mass will choose to go with New York to stick it to those hegemonic bastahds in Boston.

Josephine chewed. Ten minutes. Thirteen. Eighteen. The airship was on the horizon. At least it came this time. She was going up to Bethel, past the Hudson Free-Zone, past the United Commonwealth Of Boston.

It shouldn't be hard, the travel lines are open, the Northeastern Pact secure, but still. She bit down on her gum and sucked out juice.

She didn't have a passport. Not a real one. She had a pre-war blue passport. Howard kept telling her to get a riddy, a neat little bug that would broadcast her innocence and nationality to any receiver that wanted to listen. But Howard was a native Manahatta, part of United Atlantic since birth. He didn't understand. He never had to show papers just to cross the street. His mother didn't dig out his riddy on the kitchen table during the Siege Of Chicago. He never had friends have their implants turn against them, sending shocks and poison just when the police came.

The Airship docked. Officers from United Atlantic and Free Vermont came out to greet the passengers. Josephine touched her neck, just below the scar.

She spat out the gum into her newspaper.

posted by The Whelk at 5:28 PM on November 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


> sacrifice the Michigan peninsula for the greater good.

Um. Which one?
I was thinking upper, but I'm flexible as long as it wipes out at least 14 trillion in debt. Or did you mean which greater good?
posted by ShadowCrash at 6:49 PM on November 26, 2008


The Nine Nations of North America is the first thing I thought of...

Nine nations? 38 states? We devoted some space in the blue to splitting up the U.S. almost four years ago.
posted by LeLiLo at 7:43 PM on November 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Some of my best friends are Alaskans.
posted by 3.2.3 at 4:58 AM on November 27, 2008


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