Dmitry Orlov (Russian: ??????? ????? born 1962) is a Russian-American engineer and a writer on subjects related to “potential economic, ecological and political decline and collapse in theUnited States,” something he has called “permanent crisis”. Orlov believes collapse will be the result of huge military budgets, government deficits, an unresponsive political system and declining oil production.
Orlov was born in Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg) and moved to the United States at the age of 12. He has a BS in Computer Engineering and an MA in Applied Linguistics. He was an eyewitness to the collapse of the Soviet Union over several extended visits to his Russian homeland between the late 1980s and mid-1990s.
In 2005 and 2006 Orlov wrote a number of articles comparing the collapse-preparedness of the U.S. and the Soviet Union published on small Peak Oil related sites. Orlov’s article “Closing the ‘Collapse Gap’: the USSR was better prepared for collapse than the US” was very popular at EnergyBulletin.Net.
In 2006 Orlov published an online manifesto, “The New Age of Sail.” In 2007 he and his wife sold their apartment in Boston and bought a sailboat, fitted with solar panels and six months supply of propane, and capable of storing a large quantity of food stuffs. He calls it a “survival capsule.” He uses a bicycle for transportation. Having bartered vodka for necessities during one of his trips to the post-collapse Russia, he says “When faced with a collapsing economy, one should stop thinking of wealth in terms of money.” 
He continues to write regularly on his “Club Orlov” blog and at EnergyBulletin.Net.
Orlov’s book Reinventing Collapse:The Soviet Example and American Prospects, published in 2008, further details his views. Discussing the book in 2009, in a piece in The New Yorker, Ben McGrath wrote that Orlov describes “superpower collapse soup” common to both the U.S. and the Soviet Union: “a severe shortfall in the production of crude oil, a worsening foreign-trade deficit, an oversized military budget, and crippling foreign debt.” Orlov told interviewer McGrath that in recent months financial professionals had begun to make up more of his audience, joining “back-to-the-land types,” “peak oilers,” and those sometimes derisively called “doomers.”
In his review of the book, commentator Thom Hartmann writes that Orlov holds that the Soviet Union hit a “soft crash” because centralized planning, housing, agriculture, and transportation left an infrastructure private citizens could co-opt so that no one had to pay rent or go homeless and people showed up for work, even when they were not paid. He writes that Orlov believes the U.S. will have a hard crash, more like Germany’s Weimar Republic of the 1920s.
Writing on Atlanta’s Creative Loafing, Wayne Davis considers Orlov’s views and anecdotal stories to be an easy read for a serious subject. Orlov gives practical advice, like when to start accumulating goods for barter purposes and the need to buy goods that would sustain local communities – “hand tools, simple medications (and morphine), guns and ammo, sharpening stones, bicycles (and lots of tires with patch kits), etc.” Orlov writes: “Much of the transformation is psychological and involves letting go of many notions that we have been conditioned to accept unquestioningly. In order to adapt, you will need plenty of free time. Granting yourself this time requires a leap of faith: you have to assume the future has already arrived.” He also advises: “Beyond the matter of personal safety, you will need to understand who has what you need and how to get it from them.”
The EnergyBulletin.Net review states that “Orlov’s main goal is to get Americans to understand what it will mean to live without an economy, when cash is virtually useless and most people won’t be getting any income anyway because they’ll be out of a job.” The review by author Carolyn Baker, PhD, notes that Orlov emphasizes that “when faced with a collapsing economy, one should stop thinking of wealth in terms of money.” Physical resources and assets, as well as relationships and connections are worth more than cash and those who know how to “do it themselves” and operate on the margins of society will do better than those whose incomes and lifestyles have plummeted.
Author James Howard Kunstler, who has been described as “one of Orlov’s greatest fans” but denies he is a “complete ‘collapsitarian’”, described the book as an “exceptionally clear, authoritative, witty, and original view of our prospects.”
Not all commentary has been favorable. In a 2009 article in Mother Jones Virginia Heffernan labels Orlov’s position as “collapsitarianism” which she believes involves “a desire for complete economic meltdown” and writes that Orlov espouses “bourgeois survivalism.”
- ^ John Gibbons, Punishing Greens puts climate crisis on back burner, The Irish Times, June 11, 2009.
- ^ http://www.energybulletin.net/node/23259
- ^ Biographical details of Dmitry Orlov, Barnes & Noble website. Accessed 07 January 2008.
- ^ Club Orlov May 2006 listing of articles. Available at Google Docs: Thriving in the Age of Collapse (2005), full text at Google Docs of a three-part internet article originally published atLifeaftertheoilcrash.net and Post-Soviet Lessons for a Post-American Century, (2005); full article text at Google Docs.
- ^ Closing the ‘Collapse Gap’: the USSR was better prepared for collapse than the US, EnergyBulletin.Net, December 4, 2006.
- ^ Discussion of Orlov’s writings by Shepherd Billis, US Economy–Recession, Depression, or Collapse?, DissidentVoice.org, November 15th, 2007.
- ^ a b Ben McGrath, The Dystopians, The New Yorker, January 26, 2009.
- ^ EnergyBulletin.Net articles include:The five stages of collapse, February 26, 2008; The Collapse Party platform, March 31, 2008; That bastion of American socialism, January 10, 2009; Of swans and turkeys, February 27, 2009.
- ^ Orlov, Dmitry, Reinventing Collapse, New Society Books, 2008, ISBN 978-0-86571-606-3
- ^ Thom Hartmann, The Thom Hartmann ‘Independent Thinker’ Review, BuzzFlash.Com, November 11, 2008.
- ^ Wayne Davis, Hard times ahead: a discussion on the post-oil world, Atlanta Creative Loafing, May 11, 2009.
- ^ Amanda Kovattana, Review: Reinventing Collapse by Dmitry Orlov, EnergyBulletin.Net, April 19, 2008.
- ^ Carolyn Baker Reviews Dmitry Orlov’s “Re-inventing Collapse”, 26 February 2008.
- ^ James Howard Kuntsler, A Christmas Eve Story, at Kunstler.Com, December 24, 2007; also published at EnergyBulletin.Net and Atlantic Free Press.
- ^ Virginia Heffernan, Apocalypse Ciao: Let the End Times Roll, When the economic Rapture comes, will collapsitarians be the chosen ones?, Mother Jones, July/August 2009.