John Robb interview: Open Source Warfare & Resilience

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64 Responses to “John Robb interview: Open Source Warfare & Resilience”

  1. Chris Arkenberg says:

    [Sorry for the formatting error. It's fixed.]

    Davin, the interviews I’m posting are necessarily brief, aiming mainly to expose the work of people like Robb. Read his book, go to his blog, or take any number of other steps to research his prognostications for yourself.

    Also, note that Robb is an independent consultant and has to promote himself in order to make a living, ie self-promotion can be confused with self-importance.

  2. therationalpi says:

    This is certainly something to chew on. Would make for exciting after-dinner conversation, with the right people.

  3. star35 says:

    Once you get past the reasonably interesting discussion of asymmetrical warfare (which let’s face it was doing pretty well before Robb decided to analyse it – most of what he’s talking about has been the basis of Anarchist politics for decades), I fail to see the difference between this stuff and the kind of determinist apocalpytic bollocks spouted by fundamentalist christians and right wing militias.

    He says that for a glimpse of the future we should “Think Argentina, Greece, Spain, Iceland”. I’ve been on holiday to most of them recently. I did not see any evidence of people shifting “their loyalties to any local group that can provide for their daily needs” or “crime fueled local insurgencies and militias.”

    It’s pretty apparent to most people that things in the West can’t continue on the same basis as they have been. Many people look at that and start trying to figure out how to replace Capitalism with a more sensible way to run society. This would be much more useful than trying to figure out how to fortify your bunker against the mob from the next village.

    • jacobian says:

      Let’s be clear, this is saying that neo-Feudalism is the answer to the problem. If Feudalism is the answer, than what the hell is the question.

      Anarchists for over a century, have advocated an international approach to problem solving, with a democratic control over the economy – rather than a capitalist control. They didn’t advocate this form of backward localist feudalism.

      Global capital has ripped itself almost entirely free of the nation state. On that point I agree. However, the answer isn’t to throw our hands up – it’s to capture that capital back internationally so it can be controlled democratically rather than be used by tyrants.

  4. Daedalus says:

    Gross oversimplifications overlook important details that may change prognostications.

    But local, sustainable movements are basically an awesome thing regardless of if the rest of the US collapses into a Warring States period. ;)

  5. Magnetar Melon says:

    “The United States is suffering both the economic decline of its industry and the ongoing dismantling of the social welfare apparatus supporting the citizenry. In your opinion, will this inevitably lead to some form of armed insurgency in America?”

    This is a leading question with a false premise. And the interviewee is speculating wildly without sufficient evidence to support his assertions against Westphalian sovereignty and prediction models (especially of the realist variety).

    • Panamericana says:

      “This is a leading question with a false premise.”
      What’s the false premise?

      “And the interviewee is speculating wildly without sufficient evidence to support his assertions against Westphalian sovereignty and prediction models (especially of the realist variety).”

      What other type of evidence there is than the “realist” empirical variety? I’m confused.

      What is a Westphalian prediction model?

  6. John Robb says:

    Anon,

    Good luck with those figures on Nigeria’s oil production. It’s easy to go astray with hasty research.

    For example. From a recent article in OGJ.

    “From a peak of 2.6 million b/d in 2006, production fell to as low as 1 million b/d. Since the government’s recent amnesty program came into effect, however, production has risen to 2 million b/d.”

    http://www.ogj.com/index/blogs/oil-diplomacy/blogs/OGJ/oil-diplomacy-blog/post987_6083664137213851315.html

    • g-clef says:

      John, are you really proposing that we prefer a blog post with no citations for his values over the Dept. of Energy’s values? Really?

      • teapot says:

        John, are you really proposing that we prefer a blog post with no citations for his values over the Dept. of Energy’s values? Really?

        You could just research it… you know… that way you wouldn’t have ended up looking like such a fool. From the NYtimes: After one of Shell’s big export sites was bombed in February 2006, the company abandoned its operations in the Western part of the delta and shut half its production, or 500,000 barrels a day.
        http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=980CE7D9163EF932A15757C0A9619C8B63&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=2

        So… if Shell alone lost 500,000 BPD, I’d say his figure of 1m BPD across the Nigerian oil industry is feasible. Futhermore, you do realise that the DOE has a vested interest in making it appear that oil supply is steady, right?

        • g-clef says:

          I did research it…no need for vitriol. (By the way, the sentence after the one you quoted in the NYT mentioned that Shell was going to restart production a couple months later…see my ending question below.)

          According to both the DoE and the Nigerian petroleum corp (here: http://www.nnpcgroup.com/performance/index.php ), the average production from 2005 through 2009 did not see the drops that are being talked about here.

          While the New York Times story is interesting as a snapshot, I don’t rely on the them for long-term analysis. The combination of the NYT story and the yearly figures, though, leads me to ask: how much long term damage did they attackers really do? If production didn’t drop that much year to year, and if Shell was able to re-start production quickly enough to prevent a significant drop in overall production, were all of the disruptions really that effective?

          • Panamericana says:

            “If production didn’t drop that much year to year, and if Shell was able to re-start production quickly enough to prevent a significant drop in overall production, were all of the disruptions really that effective?”

            Lets say it didn’t, there is a thing called oil futures, which means that the price you pay
            for an oil delivery in 3,6 etc. months is determined now, so even if the production is restarted the price you pay in x months is the price
            you agree to now. Also, when there is a shortage
            the commodities traders fight among themselves
            for the future delivery, further rising the price
            up. In addition, there is this thing called speculation, have you heard of it?

          • teapot says:

            Bro: your refs suck.

            What does the Nigerian petroleum corp have to do with anything? They aren’t the Nigerian government body responsible for keeping track of these numbers (that would be the DPR) – NNPC are an oil company (yeah… i really trust their figures). Their mission statement according to their website is: “NNPC is an integrated Oil and Gas Company, engaged in adding value to the nation’s hydrocarbon resources for the benefit of all Nigerians and other stakeholders.”

            They do have a subsidiary called the NAPIMS that is supposed to be the Nigerian “government’s accountant”.
            This article does suggest that the effect of militants on production is somewhat overblown, but it does illustrate how the DPR and NNPC have very different figures for production. Again – government regulator, or company owned by “stakeholders”…. whose figures do you trust more?

            This article doesn’t go all the way to the 1m BPD figure, but it puts the decrease during 2008 at 600,000 BPD.

            the sentence after the one you quoted in the NYT mentioned that Shell was going to restart production a couple months later
            Ah, no – it says “Shell outlined plans to restart production within six months.”
            “Outlining plans” is very different to getting things done.

            Finally, from allafrica.com:
            “But, since 2005, production has been significantly cut, Jurgens [Royal Dutch Shell's senior adviser in government relations for Europe and sub-Saharan Africa] said, with more than $50 billion lost, much of it revenue to the Nigerian government, through theft, called bunkering, and sabotage by militant groups claiming the region has been environmentally devastated by oil companies without receiving a fair share of revenues.”

            Now, if you care to share any relevant references which actually support your argument, I’m listening.

  7. John Robb says:

    jaytkay,

    A couple of things. There is a difference between the gross leverage that made the collapse possible and the mechanism that initiated the crash. The financial collapse started in subprime mortgages. The speed of the deterioration in this segment amplified its impact.

  8. Panamericana says:

    Guerrilla Savant
    “it’d be so much easier to just hijack planes and crash them into it.”
    You know what would be much easier?
    Demolishing it with nano-thermite.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Whatever y’all do during TEOTWAWKI, please don’t head West. It’s really rainy here, and uhm, people are ugly and uhh…. the architecture is lousy. Really, just stay home with your plastic sheeting and duct tape. I hear the South has some nice beaches, maybe you should check those out.

    ahyep..

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes! And, um. Earthquakes! Like every ten minutes. Bad ones.

      It’s really a horrible, barren place. Everything to the contrary are just filthy, filthy lies.

  10. Yamara says:

    John Titor… is that you?

    Because you were wrong before about all that future stuff.

  11. Davin says:

    Primary source vs. secondary source vs. tertiary source? I’d say the journal is somewhere farther down the line. Not that it matters particularly much to argue this. But when it comes to statistics, it’s generally better to go with as raw as you can get. The more hands the numbers pass through, the more chance of bias and error.

  12. teapot says:

    Screw all the vitriol-puking keystroke-wasters referring to Robb as “this guy”. Have a degree of civility. It’s the oldest trick in the book to discredit someone, and is simply pathetic.

    I don’t particularly agree with everything Robb has to say, but I can guarantee that he is probably more qualified to speak on these issues than most BB commenters. I don’t remember the DoD, CIA or NSA asking any of us for advice, do you?

    • ultranaut says:

      I didn’t mean any disrespect to Robb, he is clearly a sharp dude who has a better understanding of the world than most.

      Perhaps the DOD, CIA, NSA, et al. should be asking all of us for advice. I’m fairly confident I could conquer Afghanistan for postmodernism a hell of a lot cheaper and more effectively, given a relatively small budget. Ask me for advice!

  13. Anonymous says:

    The leverage in the system was a function of velocity increasing beyond the economies ability to absorb it. Money has become equated with derivatives which is an information based value system. The information, existing as digital wealth, was built upon trade balances that overreached the energy input required to maintain the velocity of transactions.

    2008 is the year the world reached peak oil production, the sub-prime debacle was a function of the lurch that occurred as a result of hitting an energy shortfall – like a car in fifth gear being suddenly jolted into third – in an instant the global financial system recoiled in shocking fashion.

    If Nigerian production did indeed fall by 1mbd in 2007-2008 than I would have to say that it played a contributing factor to the energy shortfall, alongside depletion rates in oil fields such as Mexico’s Cantarell.

  14. Anonymous says:

    “This shortfall was the reason oil prices rose to $147 a barrel.”
    NO: Oil rose to $147 per barrel because of increased demand in the developing world, particularly China.

    “Those high prices had a negative global economic impact: the start of a global recession and a spike in default rates in US sub-prime mortgages (due to higher driving and food costs).”
    NO: The Sub-prime crisis was a speculative bubble on securitized mortgages that burst under it’s own over-leveraged weight. No serious economist or business leader has or would attribute it to high energy costs.

    It’s statements like these in which he lost any credibility, and that was before the locavore/survivalist theme began.

    • teapot says:

      The idiots are out in force today.

      NO: Oil rose to $147 per barrel because of increased demand in the developing world, particularly China.
      NO YOURSELF:
      From the China Daily: China used 365 million tonnes of crude oil last year [2008], up 5.8 percent. The growth rate was 1.5 percentage points below the 2007 level.

      So, not only was the growth rate LOWER in 2008 than 2007, the increased demand was only 5.8%.

      If China’s 2008 consumption was 7,999,000 BPD and demand rose by 5.8%, then supposedly their consuption rose from 7,560,491 – an increase of 438,509 BPD.

      If Shell alone was losing 500,000 BPD because of MEND, then the matematics of your conclusion soon begin to unravel. Where is your source? Robb’s credibility stands much better than that of some clown who posts comments on the ‘net, under the cover of Anon, without references.

      NO: The Sub-prime crisis was a speculative bubble on securitized mortgages that burst under it’s own over-leveraged weight. No serious economist or business leader has or would attribute it to high energy costs.
      NO YOURSELF:
      Read carefully, and don’t jump to conclusions. You are so keen to show everyone how smart you are that you misread exactly what was written:

      a spike in default rates in US sub-prime mortgages

      He was talking about an increase in DEFAULT RATES, not the sub-prime mortgage crisis itself. Now… what contributes undeniably to people defaulting on their home loan? INCREASED LIVING COSTS.

      mega-super-duper-complete-and-utter FAIL for you.

      • Davin says:

        Weren’t you just asking for civility? Don’t hate, appreciate.

      • Anonymous says:

        There are quite a few reasons that oil prices went up, but only one that they went as high as they did. We can probably agree on the issues in Nigeria, there was considerable rumblings about increased demand from the developing world, others are going to suggest peak oil, which are all partially true. But, I have a problem with this meme still running around that the size of the market movement had a large part to do with anything related to fundamentals and not speculative behavior.

        From the beginning to the end of 2008, the price of a barrel of crude oil on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) moved from $99.64 to $145.29 to $33.87. On the way up, it took just 103 days of trading for the price of crude to soar 67 percent (more than $58 per barrel) to its July 3 peak, followed immediately by a precipitous 77 percent decline (more than $111) in just 118 days of trading.

        Futures contract traders on the IntercontinentalExchange (ICE) made bets on oil with a total paper value of $8 trillion in 2007, up from $1.7 trillion in 2005, according to U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission filings. Between 2003 and 2008 investment in index funds tied to commodities has grown from $13 billion to $260 billion.

        Anyone who wants to try to say that a 1 mbd loss to a 73mbd production total would increase prices 63% is a bit high. That downward movement also suggests a speculative bubble. The banks and hedge funds involved were unloading futures to get cash back in hand to weather the subprime storm.

        Now as far as our vulnerability to collapse, due to a terribly leveraged banking sector, bleeding money due to a bloated defense expenditure, and an economy that has been veritably canibalized due to multinationals moving abroad, higher education, and health costs. That is our own fault.

        If a morbidly obese person chases after a gnat after being bitten and has a cardiac arrest. Is it the gnat or the morbidly obese person that is at fault. After 20 years of sucking down butterfingers I couldn’t say it was anyone but the US Public and their ineffectual elite to blame. We are our own greatest enemies no one else could put the US in this type of vulnerable position.

        Stelios Theoharidis

  15. eerd says:

    So did Mr Robb go to Nigeria to talk to Henry Okah? Was that while Okah was on trial?

    Also, re the production figures, Nigeria often says it has capacity to produce 3 million bpd but actual production is around 2 million bpd at the moment. It has been lower still, at around 1.6 million bpd in July 2009, according to OPEC’s figures.

    Part of the problem also is that it’s unclear how much is being produced. The government relies on the producers and substantial amounts are bunkered from pipelines.

  16. niten says:

    Hahaha… Pessimist, much?

    I think he’s actually half-right. He’s seen the power of flexible, small-to-gigantic ‘open-source’ (that term gets stretched ever further with every step away from program code) groups, empowered through technology. He sees how they might cause tremendous harm.

    …And stops there. Why?

    By analogy, I think this guy would have said, in 2002: “Wikipedia is DOOMED TO FAIL because of vandals!” ….Like most people did.

    Or in 1994: “Linux is DOOMED TO FAIL because of haxxors and chaos and laziness!” ….Like most people did.

    IOW, being as he’s a pessimist, he sees only the harm that connected individuals can do; but their capacity for good grows, likewise. So the question is, which is greater: our capacity for good, or for evil?

    Wikipedia, Linux, and other large shared projects lead me to feel warm and fuzzy.

    So, why not open source companies? Open source government? Why ONLY open source terrorism?

    • Panamericana says:

      If you read his blog you will realize that
      the resilient communities that he talks about
      and is writing a book about are open-source
      communities, when he talks about local
      manufacturing, you should real Desktop
      Fabrication, etc.
      Read the blog, you will like it.

  17. Daemon says:

    “The changing nature of warfare”… The only thing that’s changed about war is the toys.

  18. Anonymous says:

    “As a result, I spent a lot of time on the speaking circuit in Washington DC (DoD, CIA, NSA, etc.). ”

    Gee, thanks for assisting their efforts to invade/occupy/bomb/de-stabilize other countries and spy on anti-war protesters. Great job!

    • Panamericana says:

      “Gee, thanks for assisting their efforts to invade/occupy/bomb/de-stabilize other countries and spy on anti-war protesters. Great job!”

      He was not assisting them in those tasks my friend,
      what he was basically telling them and also the congress is that they are fucked if they continue
      with the doctrine that you mention, and how to
      bring real stability to the region.
      Of course they are not interested in that,
      and didn’t listen. Now he’s just trying to
      help communities to prepare for the consequences
      of such doctrine.

      • Anonymous says:

        Panamericana: “he was basically telling them and also the congress is that they are fucked if they continue
        with the doctrine that you mention, and how to
        bring real stability to the region.”

        How to bring real security – to an illegal occupation of a sovereign state? Do you mean leave? Because you can’t oppose an occupation by helping it succeed.

        So he’s advocating an end to the US empire? An immediate and complete withdrawal? Drastically cutting the military budget? Abolishing the CIA? Withdrawing Special Ops from the 75 countries they operate in? Actually, RTFA.

        He writes: “Back in 2004, the US military was getting trounced in guerrillas in Iraq. Worse, the US military establishment didn’t know why. Didn’t have a clue. To correct this, I began to write ”

        Again, “To correct this, I began to write “.

        Again, to correct what? “the US military was getting trounced in guerrillas in Iraq”.

        Again, RTFA.

        • Panamericana says:

          “How to bring real security – to an illegal occupation of a sovereign state? Do you mean leave? Because you can’t oppose an occupation by helping it succeed.”

          What I said, was: “how to bring real stability to
          the region(Iraq and Afghanistan)”

          I think Mr. Robb is very aware that the occupation
          is illegal and illegitimate and that those occupied states are sovereign states, however, I think that
          he is also aware that we are going towards a
          post-state age, and that wrecking these countries
          for whatever motive and then leaving when the
          insurgency becomes unbearable only to leave
          things worse than the were to begin with
          is pretty screwed up and wont help the general
          US population a bit and much less the population
          of the occupied countries.

          Here is a the testimony Mr. Robb gave to a
          House Armed Services subcommittee
          in April 2009: http://globalguerrillas.typepad.com/files/congressional-testimony1.pdf

          “Packages of technologies and methodologies should be developed to enable communities in distressed areas to become resilient – as in, they are able to produce the food, energy, defense, water, etc. they need to prosper
          without reference to a dysfunction(al)
          regional or national situation.”

          Here:http://globalguerrillas.typepad.com/globalguerrillas/2009/04/my-testimony.html
          you can see what he had to say about it:

          “Very sure that anything I say do won’t make any difference. However, it can’t be said I didn’t try.”

          In other words, I think Mr. Robb is not
          interested in protecting the sovereignty
          of any state, given that he knows it to be a futile task, nor in helping dysfuntional puppet
          governments. he is interested in assisting
          in the creation of prosperity for the
          population, the communities, whether in
          occupied countries, in the US, or anywhere else.
          It goes without saying that if the US would do
          that there would be no insurgency, understanding
          that insurgencies are born out of economic
          oppression and subjugation. That is why is very
          sure that his advise will fall on deaf ears,
          because he knows well that the US Empire
          is in the business of economic oppression and subjugation and not in the business of bringing
          bringing about community prosperity and independence or nothing that resembles it.

          “So he’s advocating an end to the US empire?”

          I think he knows that does not need to be advocated in order to happen.

          “An immediate and complete withdrawal?”

          Of combat troops and Private Military
          Mercenaries, probably.

          “Drastically cutting the military budget?”

          When the Empire collapses the budget will be
          drastically cut.

          “Abolishing the CIA?”

          A collapsed state does not need an intelligence
          agency to protect its interests,
          because it ceases to exist along with its interests.

          “Withdrawing Special Ops from the 75 countries they operate in?”

          Probably, I think that he withdrew himself
          from such tasks in 1992.

          “Again, RTFA.”

          This article is not everything Mr. Robb has
          written, I have read the FA but I have also read
          many other writings by him,
          I suggest you do the same and I reckon that if you do you will change your mind.

          Kind Regards,
          Panamericana

  19. Anonymous says:

    “Am I the only one who finds this prediction optimistic rather than pessimistic?”

    No, and much of what he says has been predicted for years. The comments about him having a chemical imbalance (“dopamine”) are foolish.

    Can’t remember that saying, along the lines of, “when you’re the only voice speaking in contrast to conventional/common thought, you’ll be called crazy…” very rough paraphrase, sorry.

    With all this doomsday stuff, few have the mental or emotional capacity to let alone understand it, and to further, accept it and start planning accordingly.

  20. John Robb says:

    niten,

    The power to create good using the same open processes is at the heart of my new book.

  21. Bob Rossney says:

    The idea that armed insurgency in America is inevitable, or even likely, is predicated on a couple of shaky assumptions and undercut by Robb’s very argument. Couching the US government as enforcers for the international bond market is a catchy idea, and happens also to have the ring of truth. But the idea that the US government can and will continue to function in that capacity irrespective of how contrary to the interests of its citizenry it becomes is straight-line extrapolation of the worst sort.

    A lot of places around the world have long had the idea that (in Mickey Knox’s indelible formulation) there are two kinds of men in the world: men with guns, and men who dig. If the men with guns buy into it, it doesn’t matter a whole lot what the men who dig believe. But the men with guns have to be okay with it. In America, and western Europe, that means that the kind of naked and brutal exercise of power that feeds radicalism and revolt is really hard to muster. We don’t, ultimately, have the stomach for it.

    What will drive the US into penury is, well, what already has: propaganda. Persuading the American polity to act against their own best interests. Does this have hard limits? I think that the answer’s yes, but I could be wrong. The thing is, when we hit those hard limits, it’s not going to send people into the hills, Wolverines-like, to start blowing up electrical substations. It’s going to force the kind of action that Robb talks about at the end. The central government will fail in its role as the financial system’s policemen because, ultimately, the US government is not really capable of going to war with its own people.

    If that’s what the situation requires, well, I feel bad for the international finance system, I really do, but they’re going to take it in the shorts.

  22. Cultured Narcissist says:

    Unfortunately local food self-sufficiency is inconceivable across most of the developed world – that’s why its called the developed world…

    Countries like the UK, France, Germany, Holland etc haven’t been self-sufficient in food since the nineteenth century.

    Impose a blockade on these countries and they literally starve (look up what happened to Greece and Holland in WW2).

    So how do 10 million people survive in a territory which has never been able to feed more than 2 million?

    If your a neo-Malthusian Deep Green you just let the 8 million die off so as to unburden Gaia.

    Are there technological solutions (Soylent Green anyone?) – even covering every piece of open land with greenhouses isn’t going to work if the fertilisers and fossil fuels we need for that level of intensive agriculture need to be imported.

  23. enkiv2 says:

    Am I the only one who finds this prediction optimistic rather than pessimistic? Our current society is essentially vampiric — huge bloated sociopathic corporate entities hoovering pennies in as many transactions as possible are well-adapted while any organization that provides a useful service for a reasonable price is at a loss. We’ve got huge, likewise bloated governments as a status quo, and they are mostly bankrupt both in value and in morals — not to mention economically. Government has always been a scapegoat first and foremost; if we are getting to the stage where we are willing to take responsibility for our own development on significantly more localized levels (which paradoxically means more global, because of the lowered importance of geography in a networked society) then we no longer need a class of professional scapegoats.

  24. klintron says:

    Robb’s work continues to influence my own thinking. However, I would like to see him answer the criticism presented here: http://reason.com/archives/2008/02/18/open-source-warfare

    (If he hasn’t already)

    A thought: will legislation (such as that in Arizona) and anti-Latin sentiment lead to alienation that drives the process Robb’s talking about in the US?

  25. gmoke says:

    Been reading Robb for years and don’t always agree with him but almost always find him thought-provoking.

    I like that he’s concentrated on resilience as a key and that there can be global guerrillas for production as well as destruction. In fact, at the right scale, the transition to resilience can be fairly pain-free and quick. A solar civil defense – flashlight, radio, cell phone, extra set of batteries – is a significant rise in the standard of living for the 1.6 billion people in the world who don’t have access to electricity. It is, I believe, certainly technically feasible with off the shelf equipment today and probably affordable with the right kind of financing arrangements. (http://solarray.blogspot.com/2008/05/solar-is-civil-defense-illustrated.html)

    Enough global guerrillas get all resilient, the less chaos and conflict there may be.

  26. Grimnir says:

    Haters are just mad because they fear he’s correct. You don’t have to dig hard at all to figure out the major, earth-shaking peril our rich-nation institutions are in. Pointing at the oncoming train of simultaneous crises hardly makes you a pessimist. But for those who are google-impaired or something:

    -Climate Change
    -Collapse of Natural Systems (the oceans are FUCKED, the forests are half gone, rampant desertification worldwide)
    -Mass Extinction (no, not humans, just most of everything else)
    -Peak Oil (along with peak everything else, mostly)
    -Sovereign Debt Crisis (really, all credit is fucked)
    -Shrinking Cost of Major Systems Disruption (open source warfare)
    -Overpopulation (probably not a problem, except for climate change and peak oil happening simultaneously)
    -Rampant Corruption in Government
    -Rampant Anti-Social Behavior in Business
    -Radicalization of right wing elements around the world

    I mean really, shit is fucked, and you don’t have to be a brain surgeon to figure it out. It’s really honestly no stretch to say our odds of maintaining our current lifestyles through the next ten years are 50/50. You can stick your heads in the sand and think happy thoughts, but that doesn’t change reality.

    • SKR says:

      take a dopamine inhibitor please.

    • Ernunnos says:

      The odds aren’t 50/50 that we’ll maintain our lifestyle through the next ten years, the odds are zero. Our lifestyle is fueled on cheap power. When that ran out (in the US in the early 70s, and globally in 2005) we replaced it with credit. Now the credit has run out, and there is no new source of cheap power even on the horizon. Even if we started today, nuclear and the grid to support it would take a generation to bring online, if not more. Mass solar and wind are even worse. I got my solar, and I love it, but it just doesn’t scale.

      Get ready to be poor.

  27. jphilby says:

    This guy says flat out that he spent a lot of time on the speaking circuit in Washington DC (DoD, CIA, NSA, etc.) I’m sure that explains most of his rhetorical devices – and predictions of worse-case scenarios those folks surely thrive on (job security if not inner nature).

    Much more wacky, I thought, was the announcement by some NASA individual that we will seriously threatened by solar flares in 2-3 years. What has changed so drastically since 1989 and 2001 (which produced a couple of power outages lasting a few hours, beat up a couple sats)?

    We haven’t got enough to think about (milleniumistically speaking)(did I just coin a word?) … these rat bastards are busy finding new ways to make us pee our pants? WHY ALL THE FEAR TACTICS is the real question.

  28. ultranaut says:

    Either I am some kind of guerilla warfare savant or his ideas are not particularly novel. Actually, I do admit to having a fascination with terrorism and insurgencies at a young age. Not that I was interested in engaging in either, but I used to be able to discuss pretty much any insurgency or terrorist group out there in depth. I distinctly remember the WTC bombing and thinking how it’d be so much easier to just hijack planes and crash them into it. When that happened years later it wasn’t a surprise to me at all, it was disturbing of course, but it wasn’t actually shocking. I think the first thing I said was, “someone finally did it”.

    That things like this were “inconceivable” to the military elites is shocking, and I guess that’s where guys like this author come in since it seems like they are listening to him. I worry though that these concepts of guerilla warfare give militaries an unhealthy interest in political activities that have not traditionally been considered elements of warfare.

  29. Antinous / Moderator says:

    Shouldn’t we already know something about guerrilla warfare from Vietnam?

  30. jtf says:

    “Praise the lord and pass the ammunition.”

  31. MrsBug says:

    I don’t know whether to call this guy a freak or a prophet.

  32. Anonymous says:

    If you want an alternate and in my mind more plausible cause for the oil spike which Robb places squarely on a group of rebels in Nigeria then read this Rolling Stone piece by Matt Taibba:

    The Great American Bubble Machine

    http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/12697/64796

    I’m afraid the truth with all these groups we call insurgents is that thing will go back to normal when the foreigners leave.

    Sorry I didn’t sigh the first post.

    RC

  33. hassenpfeffer says:

    Uh, what’s up with this?

    So, it was a little surprising although not unexpected when I got an e-mail in 2009 from

    It was a moment out of history, as if the UK’s General Liddell Hart (the originator of blitzkrieg armored warfare) got a note from Germany’s tank General Heinz Guderian in 1939, thanking him for his work.

    Email from WHOM?!? Mystery! Intrigue! Cut’n’paste errors!

  34. incant says:

    There’s a malformed a tag that’s obscuring the text. The missing part is:

    when I got an e-mail in 2009 from He invited me to Nigeria and stated that he was an avid reader of my
    blog.
    >

  35. Davin says:

    He sounds rather self-important. I would prefer more evidence and less unsupported prediction.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’d say the evidence is all there if you look. The author has the general outlines of what I think seems to be the most probable future our world faces.

      The elites in the nation-states have increasingly moved the globe toward a system in which financial predators run loose and national and global economies suffer wild boom-and-bust cycles. This allows what is in essence a looting of the poor and middle class. In an unstable financial system they are the ones who by far suffer the most. If you don’t believe me, read up on Latin American history. The wealthy stayed wealthy, the middle classes shrank, and the poor got even poorer.

      Faced with these conditions, there is a small proportion of any population for which armed guerrilla action is an attractive alternative. Some of these are aggrieved masses, some are criminal elements seeking to carve out their own little kingdoms. The author is saying that the tools now exist for them to be very effective in undermining the conventional nation state.

      Think of these elements as packs of wolves and the nation states as very large herbivores. The large herbivores are very secure against the wolves as long as they are healthy. When they are weak or sick they become vulnerable.

      The global elites have made the nation-states increasingly weak through allowing predatory behavior by financial firms, racking up huge trade imbalances, over-dependence on dwindling resources, and national factions that work against each other to the detriment of the whole (think Democrats and Republicans in the US).

  36. hassenpfeffer says:

    Thanks, @incant. I didn’t think to click View Source. D’oh!

    @Davin, agreed. “In your opinion, will this inevitably lead to some form of armed insurgency in America?” “Yes. … Most of what we consider normal in the developed world, from the middle class lifestyle to government social safety nets, will be nearly gone in less than a decade.” Referencing an earlier thread, this guy’s got some serious dopamine issues.

    • Panamericana says:

      Reading the source is a good idea, especially when
      you don’t want to dwell on the surface of issues.
      Dopamine is the fundamental neurotransmitter
      without which you would be a mindless zombie,

  37. SKR says:

    kleptocratic MNCs in GREECE???? more like kleptocratic citizenry or government.

    • Panamericana says:

      “more like kleptocratic citizenry or government.”
      Right, because the Greek Government and Citizenry
      own J.P. Morgan and the bankster cartel,
      And in the US is the same, all the citizenry
      and the puppets own the FED,
      These people are foreclosing themselves…

  38. Davin says:

    Despite the apocalyptic near-fearmongering, discussion of locally sustainable communities is firmly in the “good thing” camp, though! More hope, less gloom!

  39. Anonymous says:

    I only had to check one fact about Nigerian oil production to throw this guy’s contention out the window. According to the EIA Nigeria’s oil production for 2004-2008 were:

    http://www.eia.doe.gov/aer/txt/ptb1105.html

    2004 2.33 MBPD million barrels per day
    2005 2.63 MBPD
    2006 2.44 MBPD
    2007 2.35 MBPD
    2008 2.17 MBPD

    His claim is that Nigeria lost 1.0 MBPD in production and this link shows it as 0.09 MBPD. In fact Nigeria’s total production that year was only 7.6% of the OPEC total and every OPEC producer bar one had a decrease in production from the previous year. This still only totaled 0.28 MBPD in production decrease from 2006.

    So take anything he says with the proverbial grain of salt.

    • Panamericana says:

      “I only had to check one fact about Nigerian oil production to throw this guy’s contention out the window. According to the EIA Nigeria’s oil production for 2004-2008 were”

      You are not taking into account that what is extracted doesn’t necessarily get delivered,
      especially when transportation lines are blown up.

  40. jaytkay says:

    This guy makes some good points. However: …a spike in default rates in US sub-prime mortgages (due to higher driving and food costs)…

    The real estate bubble collapsed because gas and food prices increased? That’s some serious dumbassery.

    • Panamericana says:

      “The real estate bubble collapsed because gas and food prices increased? That’s some serious dumbassery.”

      Hmm, let me see if I can explain this in simpler terms to you:
      1)A sub-prime loan is a loan extended to someone
      that barely can pay it.
      2)If oil and gas prices rise mostly everything
      rises because oil and gas are used to make and transport almost everything.
      3)When everything rises, wages and salaries
      don’t rise with them.
      4)When people have to pay more for everything
      they have less disposable income and consumption
      in certain industries dips, this causes employees
      to be fired.
      5)Some people that could barely pay the loans,
      facing a price hike in almost everything,
      and having the same wage, less or being fired
      stop making the payments and thats how the bubble explodes.

    • Ernunnos says:

      The gun was loaded by about $4 trillion in CRA loans, amplified by lots of leverage. It would have gone off eventually given the debt-to-income ratios they were allowing borrowers to assume, but the oil spike certainly pulled the trigger. Although I will dispute that Nigeria was central to that. World production has been flat at ~74 million barrels per day since 2005. We are at the peak, and have been for the last half decade. It’s no coincidence that first world economies fueled on the availability of cheap oil are finding that credit is no substitute for energy.

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