The Collapse Party Fulfills Its Own Name

I founded the Collapse Party one year ago after coming to the hard realization that industrial civilization is unsustainable and that – barring revolutionary socio-political (e.g. “ecotechnic dictatorship“) or technological (e.g. geoengineering) transformation – it’s catastrophic unraveling by the middle of this century is almost inevitable. As neither of development seems to be in the pipelines, I decided it was time to explicitly thinking about the political dimensions of adapting to a re-localized world, in which resource depletion and climate change make impossible the huge economies of scale and their supporting technologies that we know take for granted.


The immediate inspiration was Dmitry Orlov’s essay The Collapse Party platform, which argued for setting up a mechanism to clean up the mess left behind industrialism and preparing society for the collapse. Orlov was personally pessimistic about the chances of political organizations achieving this, since to some extent the very notion of a “collapse party” is a contradiction in terms. After a year, it turns out that he was right – at least in the short term. I have neither the time nor the means to push this project, nor have I been able to do anything substantial about it apart from the (soon to disappear) site and a Facebook group. Furthermore, on further examination it never would have any good prospects anyway – even apart from the fact that few comprehend the sheer scope of our predicament, such a “pessimistic” view is politically unappealing to the vast majority of people.

This post will archive the Party’s Manifesto, which I do think contains some useful pointers to future action. The longer its recommendations remain the laughing stock of “polite society”, the more violent will be the long-term outcomes as the industrial engine splutters and screeches to a stop – and the more brutal and dictatorial the means that will be required to mitigate and adopt to the new conditions. But as a political project the Collapse Party is quixotic, and in any case there’s no point worrying about things you can’t change. Instead, I would recommend focusing on the great new opportunities of an opening Arctic: getting in early on its coming investment boom, snapping up prime Far North real estate and establishing your family as the future landed aristocracy. For true prophets are despised, but Tsars are feared and respected!


The Collapse Party Manifesto

Anatoly Karlin

The world is finite, and so the resource stocks and pollution sinks that sustain industrial civilization (“the System”) are limited. We have been in a state of “overshoot”, beyond the “carrying capacity” of the Earth, since the 1980’s (The Limits to Growth, 2004). Limited resources have been drawn down much faster than they could be replenished, and the Earth’s pollution sinks have been overfilled much faster than they could be regenerated.

Elements of this overshoot can already be seen in phenomena as diverse as plateauing crop yields, topsoil loss, accelerating climate change, peak oil, collapsing fisheries, the depletion of higher-EROEI energy sources, dying rivers, global dimming, the proliferation of “failed states”, neo-colonial exploitation, and rising antibiotic resistance. But things are yet going to get much worse…

Based on paleoclimate reconstructions of CO2 levels, an eventual global warming of above 2C is already inevitable. This will set off a cascade of climatic disasters that will speed up the rate of warming, leading to the desertification of much of the world’s land and oceans, the drying of the great Asian rivers, and massive inundations of the low-lying coasts and deltas that harbor humanity’s heartlands. States will collapse into anarchy, spawning Biblical-scale famines and floods of climate refugees.

Meanwhile, the energetic resources that power the System will be coming under severe strain. Oil production has already peaked, and natural gas and coal will follow in a few more decades. The remaining resources are much harder to extract, since the easiest pickings have already been exploited. We will have to divert ever more energy, labor, and capital towards mitigating the effects of both energy depletion (renewables, remote hydrocarbons) and runaway climate change (adaptation, geoengineering).

This will starve agriculture and the consumer sector, ushering in disillusionment, social discontent, and a longing for a strong hand at the helm of power. This will undermine liberal democracy’s political legitimacy, leading either to anarchy (“failed states”) or increasing coercion (authoritarianism). Geopolitical rivalries over the remaining energy resources will intensify, extinguishing the already dim prospects for international cooperation. Long-term thinking will recede into irrelevance, for political leaders will have their hands full with much more pressing issues – building sea walls, feeding the military, and placating (or dispersing) angry mobs.

Our only way to escape this trap is to rapidly effect a global transition towards “sustainable development”. The imperative of such a transition was recognized as early as the 1970’s, but we have yet to see any truly meaningful action. Nor are we likely to, since the defining feature of industrial-capitalist civilization is indefinite growth, based around the taking of loans against (higher) future returns. There’s a reason why Malthusian societies suppressed usury – and should we continue business-as-usual, we will soon rediscover why.

Though the System is very effective in some ways, it cannot foresee its own demise; nor can its servants even ask questions that hint at the unpalatable answer. However, the casual, detached, and informed observer can. Yes, in a purely technical sense, disaster can still be averted if one could convince people to make, or more likely force through, drastic reductions in First World overconsumption, a full-scale retooling of the industrial system towards renewables and recycling, and a global system of “contraction and convergence” on CO2 emissions.

Achieving this, however, is unlikely in the extreme; any transition to sustainability is going to be stymied by social myopia and geopolitical anarchy, as well as innate human psychological features such as the conservative bias, the denial complex, hedonism, and susceptibility to “creeping normalcy” and “landscape amnesia”. Unless we overcome these failings, or discover a technological silver bullet, we will collide with planetary limits to growth sometime around 2030 to 2050.

In that scenario, the System as a whole will become increasingly fragile, such that a large enough perturbation – say, a major war or global climatic disaster – will send it into a self-reinforcing spiral down into chaos. The electrical-industrial infrastructure supporting modern technology, especially the massive repositories of information entombed within cyberspace, will crumble away into oblivion.
After a short period of unprecedented violence, famine, pestilence, and death known as “the Collapse”, the world will get larger once more, and society will retreat back into the comforting blackness of a new Dark Age.

Faced with these grim prospects, we see it fitting to launch a multi-pronged initiative to if not avert a Collapse (as is the purpose of the global Green movement), then at least to attempt to mitigate, as best we can, its catastrophic humanitarian consequences. We do not wish on the demise of technological civilization, for we recognize that for all its ecological obliviousness and social injustices, it has enabled tremendous progress in science and many aspects of culture and human welfare. That said, we recognize that sometimes, the Second Law of Thermodynamics – the tendency for all closed, complex systems to decay – cannot be sidestepped.

We are “kollapsniks”, and our initiative is the Collapse Party.

We are an individual state of mind, for being mentally prepared for collapse is of the utmost importance. We are profoundly local, for each community will have to weather collapse on its own. We are a global project, for our predicament is global. We welcome everyone regardless of race, sex, creed, or political affiliation.

We propose a program of “sustainable retreat”, emphasizing the following three main principles:

  • Reinforce resilience in the face of collapse.
  • Inform the people that business-as-usual will lead to collapse.
  • Prepare for collapse by focusing on “sustainable retreat” and targeted technological development mitigate the severity of any ultimate collapse.

The Collapse Party Platform

These principles are to be pursued through and beyond the following set of policies.

  • Use the remaining high-EROEI fossil fuel stocks in a crash program to build as large a nuclear and renewable energy infrastructure as possible.
  • Clean up radioactive and toxic installations while we still have the technologies and resources to do so.
  • Work on fostering global unity and a common human identity to encourage cooperation and discourage competition and resource wars.
  • Preserve as much as possible of the world’s stock of technologies, bioresources, and knowledge in dispersed repositories (“lifeboats”) in durable, physical format.
  • Retool the education system to disseminate practical skills and democratize it using the power of the Internet (as long as it continues to exist).
  • Liberalize copyright laws.
  • Promote communal-agrarian values (“green communism”), while ditching the individualist and accumulative mentality that is spelling our doom.
  • Unite all social groups under different wings of the Party – conventional Greens, as well as socialists, feminists, right-wing survivalists, etc – that are amenable to the kollapsnik message.
  • Eschew militarism, dismantle overseas military bases, and repatriate the troops; but maintain a minimal nuclear deterrent.
  • Nationalization and / or regulation of the commanding heights of the economy to optimize resource conservation and pollution control.
  • Establish a network of self-contained “resiliencies” across the nation and the world, modeled on the Kibbutzim, that will provide physical, mental, and spiritual nourishment to those who need it.
  • Allow mostly-unimpeded free enterprise for small, non-strategic, and low-material throughput businesses, for it will still be necessary to keep the consumerist urgings satiated.
  • The Party is to be aim to operate on a horizontal and democratic basis, in which promotion and honors are to be based on the judgments of peers on one’s competence and commitment to the cause.
  • The winding-down of the prison-industrial complex in a controlled manner; the nature of law and order to be determined in further internal debate.
  • General debt amnesty to wipe the slate clean and start from Year Zero in our quest for sustainability.
  • Expand resources into research on areas such as sustainable energy, geoengineering, and artificial intelligence to increase the chances of achieving a technological “silver bullet”.

Recommended LINKS from the siteThe Archdruid Report; Arctic ProgressThe Cost of EnergyDmitry OrlovEnergy Bulletin; Energy Watch GroupGeorge MonbiotGreen Party USAGrist EnvironmentJames KunstlerJay HansonKurzweil AIMark LynasMatt SavinarThe Oil DrumPaul ChefurkaPeak Oil NewsReal ClimateSharon AstykStratforWorld Changing.


  1. Oh, you are scaring me, Anatoly! I don’t believe I or my family will be able to survive in a world where mutant motorcycle gangs fight over last remaining drops of petrol. I would definitely not survive gladiatorial combat in Thunderdome, even if I begin incessantly working out in gym. Maybe colonize Mars as Plan B? I hear they have some mineral resources…

  2. Relevant to the subject matter, here’s some apocalyptic rhetoric you may enjoy:

  3. Interesting post, particularly considering that last week I finished re-reading (for the 3rd time at least) the Foundation cycle by Asimov, and many points are in common.

    As for climate change, for sake of interest, a rough idea of how the Earth (or Gaia, if one follows Lovelock) deals with global warming can be read here,

    which describes the last famous case of global warming happened 55 millions years ago, when global temperatures rose by about 6°.

  4. You are too pessimistic and too impatient, Anatoly. The Collapse Party can have success, but surely only AFTER the collapse. As a famous eonomist said before me, after a shock people look for the ideas that happen to be lying around; the Collapse Party may offer up some of them.

  5. Never bet against human race – we will figure out a way to get through this! Excelsior!

  6. sinotibetan says:


    Well, civilizations have collapsed in the past and we still plodded through. Phoenix-like, mankind rises again out of the rubble. I , however, cannot agree with you on several issues. The moralistic overtones are just too idealistic , impractical and incompatible with humanity’s ‘overall’ psyche. Liberals and conservatives, ultimately, can never get along, can we?

    1.”Work on fostering global unity and a common human identity to encourage cooperation and discourage competition and resource wars. ”
    Competition is necessary for innovation. I cannot agree with discouraging competition. Mankind can never have a truly global unity because we , deep down inside, do not really like each other. The urge to dominate others is part of humanity – we can never erase that(only God can do that- if you do believe in One). We are diverse and many of us want to retain our diversity and distinct identities be it ethnic, cultural or religious. Encourage global cooperation , I agree.
    2.”Retool the education system to disseminate practical skills and democratize it using the power of the Internet (as long as it continues to exist). ”
    I happen to like continued fractions, number sequences and ‘creating artificial life’ – none of these are of any ‘practical use’. Education depends on home(i.e. parents and carers), school, peers and the individual’s innate intellectual capacity. Knowledge should be made available to all – not just ‘practical ones’ but even ‘esoteric’ ones like the ones I mentioned. One cannot ‘democratize’ knowledge because we are all not created equal. Actually, I don’t agree with the basic premise of democracy and equality. We are all not equal. The only thing I agree with equality is that a specific crime should have a specific punishment and a specific merit receive a specific reward equally regardless of the person’s status or background. Otherwise, we are not equal. Some are born to be smart, others to be athletic, others to be beautiful, others to be followers, others to be leaders etc. Inequality is reality. Democracy, ultimately, is unworkable.
    3. “Unite all social groups under different wings of the Party ”
    Impossible. A social conservative like me will never accept radical gay and lesbian rights activists, for example. Our beliefs antagonize each other. We cannot(and also will not be able to) unite.
    4. “Eschew militarism, dismantle overseas military bases, and repatriate the troops; but maintain a minimal nuclear deterrent. ”
    See point # 1 – the urge to dominate etc. One has to believe in the goodness of mankind to talk about reducing military conflict. Ultimately, the problem is a moral one, probably a religious-philosophical one too. Do you believe that man, the creature, is innately good; innately evil; innately has good and evil but the former is a stronger trait; innately has good and evil but the latter is a stronger trait; or innately evil with notions of goodness which is warped and tainted by evils within oneself and society? For any global utopian society to have any basis with no possibility of failing, one must assume ‘man is innately good’ or that mankind’s evil nature can be totally and wholly reformed. I doubt this assumption. Hence, mankind will continue to want to compete, war and dominate each other. Utopia created by man is impossible because we , mankind, are imperfect and innately have an unreformable evil. Capitalism, democracy, communism etc. etc. – whatever ideologues mankind have tried, failed or are failing. You think the problem is in the system. I think the problem is man himself. In that sense, I am more pessimistic than you are!
    5.”The Party is to be aim to operate on a horizontal and democratic basis, in which promotion and honors are to be based on the judgments of peers on one’s competence and commitment to the cause. ”
    Pure democracy is unworkable – point # 4.
    6.” The winding-down of the prison-industrial complex in a controlled manner; the nature of law and order to be determined in further internal debate. ”
    What will happen if no conclusion can be made in the ‘internal debate’? Chaos is easier to achive than law and order.
    7.”General debt amnesty to wipe the slate clean and start from Year Zero in our quest for sustainability. ”
    a.) It will never happen. Greed, dominating others, avarice is part of mankind. One good soul is overpowered by a million bad ones. Good intentions and honesty ultimately does not triumph if one trusts in mankind. The elites(of every tribe and nation) will make sure it will never happen.
    b.) Should global collapse occur, only more chaos and domination and war will happen. We do learn from history. How to emerge victor in the game of realpolitik.
    8. Global warming or ‘climate change’ may be happening. I , however, doubt our climatologists can dogmatically say mankind contributes the most to the climate change. Having said that, I agree with caring for the environment. However, I cannot agree with radical, political environmentalism and its almost pseudo-pagan earth-worshipping doctrines.
    9. Global overpopulation. It’s too simplistic to be Malthusian. What is not addressed is that there are two inequalities happening which lead to disequilibrium. Backward countries like those in unstable Islamic countries and poor, war-torn sub-Saharan Africa experience overpopulation and population explosion. The TFRs in sub-saharan African states hardly fall below 4 children/child-bearing woman, for example. On the other hand, advanced countries like those in Europe and East Asia experince population implosion. Too few children with TFR way below replacement TFR. If(and that is an almost impossible ‘if’) the world ‘democratizes’, Africans and Muslims will dominate all the rest and I doubt we will be checking out other planets, instead we will plummet to primitivity. Even if the world does not democratize, technologically-advanced nations might ultimately rely on immigrants from Africa or unstable Muslim nations, be overrun by them because the immigrants will ultimately not integrate, and we plummet to the dark ages also. The way to stop this disequilibrium is actually find ways to reduce TFR in Africa and Islamic nations while (and this is the most difficult, almost impossible part) finding ways to develop them(out of their own desire to do so) in terms of knowledge, technology and fostering an innate desire to develop onself. Europeans and East Asians must have more children and increase TFR to slightly above replacement TFR to maintain their populations, at least. And these people should forget about the unrealistic notion of equality in every way. No one should , in these advanced countries, think it is their divine right to have a cushy life or work only in office environments. Some, depending on their abilities and merits, will have to work in jobs eschewed by people in those ‘advanced’ societies. Die-hard liberals and feminists should try to reduce TFR in Africa and Islamic countries and stop trying so hard in ‘advanced’ nations which actually need the reverse. Then only can we globally ‘equilibrate’. Otherwise, all those things you wrote about are unworkable.


  7. William White says:

    I read the recommendation build as big a NUCLEAR and renewable
    energy infrastructure as possible 4 times to be sure I was seeing
    straight. You would say this and in the next mouth full say we need
    to clean up all the muck that these insanely dangerous shit holes leave?
    I was really with you up till now.