Collapse (review)

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Hey, they laughed at Galileo! Yeah, but they laughed at Bozo the Clown, too! There’s a horrifying train wreck quality to documentarian Chris Smith’s (The Yes Men) feature-length interview with Michael Ruppert, former LAPD detective, investigative reporter, CIA whistleblower. Is Ruppert a conspiracy theorist? He laughs at the notion, says he works in “conspiracy fact”… and he’s chillingly plausible as he synthesizes, in 82 clipped minutes, a portrait of industrialized civilization on the brink of collapse. A collapse we’re already in the midst of, commencing with the September 2008 economic crash, which Ruppert had predicted years earlier based on the information he’d gathered. (This interview was conducted in March 2009.) It all comes down to the unsustainability of the Western way of life, which is predicated on cheap, ready oil and built on a pyramid scheme of a monetary system… and shoring up that way of life for a little while longer is behind the U.S. occupation of Iraq, the Wall Street bailouts of 2008, and even right now, we can see, in Washington’s kowtowing to BP in the wake on the ongoing Gulf of Mexico oil spill. If you read the alternative press, none of what Ruppert presents is new — the stew of corruption and corporatism on the part of our leaders and willful ignorance on the part of the public may be ugly, but it’s familiar — and except for all his intensity, he doesn’t sound crazy: he sounds prophetic as he describes how this is only the beginning of everything falling apart. But when he talks about how he’s convinced that Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld took a personal interest in his self-published newsletter, From the Wilderness, tried to shut him down… When he fidgets and chain-smokes on camera… Well, it’s certainly possible that he could be both correct about everything and also a little mad. The DVD includes deleted scenes and an update from Ruppert on some of what the movie covers, which also includes news of his new venture, CollapseNet.

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Tue, Jun 15, 2010 3:51pm

I believe it. What sucks is, the ultra right-wing militia’s will be in the best position when the U.S. finally collapses. One has to wonder if the right isn’t purposefully stearing us towards this kind of collapse on purpose – they seem to make out like bandits most of the time it seems.

Tue, Jun 15, 2010 5:30pm

OK, I have been getting this sort of news all week and I have finally had enough. I guess this is as good a place as any to ask a question that plagues me whenever I read stuff like this, climate change, and the upcoming dozens of apocalypses that are forthcoming.

…how do you people sleep at night? What hope do you have for the future? Because it looks like you DON’T HAVE ANY. If things are going to turn out like you say you are, then why live at all? Why don’t we all commit suicide? Is it out of sheer inertia? Are you waiting for your loved ones to go first so you can have the moral high ground?

Everywhere I look, there are news that the world is teetering on the edge of oblivion. All the stories are filled with people idly comment on these predictions yet strangely calm about it. I don’t understand.

My question is, purely and simply: if the climate/economy/whatever is all going down the drain, what is there to live for?

Tonio Kruger
Tue, Jun 15, 2010 7:07pm

We all like to sing the blues every now and then but you can sing the blues for only so long before you start raging against the dying of the light.

As for what keeps us keeping on in the face of what seems to be such utter hopelessness: the answer differs for each and every person.

Tue, Jun 15, 2010 8:47pm

Countering the “utter hopelessness”, at least a billion people live better now than humans have ever lived in the history of the species (at least in terms of life expectancy, comfort, and freedom from disease). And the worst of the rest are basically where all but kings were 200 years ago. If all the bad things that all the nattering nabobs of negativism predict come to pass, we’ll still be better off than we were 100 years ago. All this whinging is more a sign of how spoiled we are than how much trouble we’re in.

Tue, Jun 15, 2010 9:00pm

If things are going to turn out like you say you are, then why live at all? Why don’t we all commit suicide? Is it out of sheer inertia?

Jesus. And *we’re* the downers?

The idea is to be aware of the problems so that we can counter them. Would you prefer not to see the oncoming train before it hits you? Or mightn’t it be better to get a warning that it’s coming so you can get out of the freakin’ way?

The really frustrating thing is the sure and certain knowledge that if we are able to counteract the worst impacts of [insert one of the many dangerous issues we’re facing] then people like you will say, “Look? See? You were all wrong! Everything turned out all right!” But everything will only have turned out all right because some people heeded the dire warnings and did something about it.

All this whinging is more a sign of how spoiled we are than how much trouble we’re in.

Will you say the same thing if you and/or people you care about are deeply impact by some bad shit?

Tue, Jun 15, 2010 11:09pm

What makes me bang my head against the wall is when Climate Change Skeptics [or insert alternate potential disaster] point to the handful of successes we’ve had in averting global catastrophe as examples of why these issues are beat-ups or why they’ll simply work themselves out in the end.

I’m thinking of the Ozone Hole which is slowly mending thanks to unprecedented global agreements on banning particular chemicals and the sharing of technology to replace them and the Year 2000 Bug which has become a byword for an overhyped non-problem when it is probably the best example of an entire planet agreeing there is a problem and fixing it. Would it have been judged a better success if we’d crashed the social security database and melted a couple of reactors?

Sadly, if we do manage to find either a technical or social solution to global warming or a way to stabilise the world economy these same people will be out there saying, “See it wasn’t such a big deal after all.”

Wed, Jun 16, 2010 12:38am

One of the many words of wisdom from “The Black Swan” by Nassim Taleb: people make heroes of people who solve problems afterwards, but rarely of people who prevent them.

I sleep at night because I know that even after the British Empire went so massively into debt building a huge military that their empire collapsed under its weight (as happened to the Spanish, French, and Dutch before them), that England isn’t such a bad place to live after all. The world won’t end just because the economic center of gravity moves westward with our factories and investments. It’s the natural progression of history. And since I like my job, it won’t kill me if Social Security folds up.

America’s prosperity from 1950-1970 was a weird bubble created by the lack of world wide competition that we like to dream of being normal, and our prosperity from 1980-2008 was from the economic equivilent of steriod abuse (GOP borrow and spend policies), so I think we’ve become accustomed to an unnaturally high standard of living.

Wed, Jun 16, 2010 12:38am

My life, for all it’s troubles and flaws, is INCREDIBLE compared to most of the people anywhere or anyWHEN else, There is always, the hope, slim, perhaps, that we could make this world even better. Even if we fail, how could I suffer worse than those who have been through the genocides, wars, plagues, and barbarities that so many other live though, and continue to live through. I might end up dead in a ditch, a nameless statistic in the next big change. So be it. But there is always hope.

But… much more personally, no matter what I do, where I go, or what happens to me, I will die with one regret: I want to see what happens NEXT. If war comes, I want to see wat will happen next. If humanity drives itself to extinction I want to see what happens next. Should the sun burn out, I would want to see what happens next. If that drive ever fails, then I’ll be content to simply end.

Tonio Kruger
Wed, Jun 16, 2010 7:46pm

I hate to admit it but when I was going through a period in my mid-twenties in which I seriously considered suicide, one of the few things that saved me wasn’t just the love and support I got from my more-patient-than-I-deserved family, but a similar reluctance to give up the opportunity to see what happens next.

Even when I was going to bed wondering why I should even bother to wake up the next morning and every part of my life–including my love life–seemed to be just chockful of bad news, the opportunity to see what came next always outweighed my desire to just cut the misery short and have done with it.

Which is a good thing, I guess.