Orlov is one of our favorite essayists on Russia and all sorts of other things. He moved to the US as a child, and lives in the Boston area.
He is one of the better-known thinkers The New Yorker has dubbed 'The Dystopians' in an excellent 2009 profile, along with James Howard Kunstler, another regular contributor to RI (archive). These theorists believe that modern society is headed for a jarring and painful crack-up.
He is best known for his 2011 book comparing Soviet and American collapse (he thinks America's will be worse). He is a prolific author on a wide array of subjects, and you can see his work by searching him on Amazon.
He has a large following on the web, and on Patreon, and we urge you to support him there, as Russia Insider does.
His current project is organizing the production of affordable house boats for living on. He lives on a boat himself.
If you haven't discovered his work yet, please take a look at his archive of articles on RI. They are a real treasure, full of invaluable insight into both the US and Russia and how they are related.
Over the past week there has been a spike of renewed interest in an essay I wrote a year ago, Barbarians Rampage through Europe's Cemetery, in which I described how the steady degradation of the Western countries is being speeded up by the arrival of migrants from incompatible ethnic groups. What provoked this renewed interest was a post by Paul Craig Roberts in which he described my essay as “Europe’s—and America’s— obituary.” I certainly stand by everything I wrote—no matter how many people it rubs the wrong way—but over the intervening year I have done some research that has helped me understand why exactly the Western project has gone off the rails, and it turns out that I have a lot more to say on the subject.
There is a popular trend to denigrate what is being referred to as “biological determinism.” Factors as our biological sex (not gender, mind you), our breeding (the result of environmental pressures to which our ancestry was subjected) and our instinctual, organic reactions and drives (for which our conscious minds try to account by creating fictional stories and concocting after-the-fact rationales) are denigrated.
Human nature is treated as infinitely malleable and moldable into any conceivable shape using indoctrination and education.
The maternal instinct to take care of the young no mater whose (or of what species) and the paternal instinct to oppose external threats and repel external aggression even at the cost of one’s life—these are regarded as resulting from social conditioning and of fixed and restrictive gender roles, which are considered obsolete and harmful, and not from instinct. When it is evidenced in other mammalian species, that of course is instinct, but we are not animals (or so we tell ourselves). To listen to some people, the only instinctual behaviors we are granted are breathing, suckling and, of course, masturbation. According to them, that’s the only behavior where our instinctual nature must be given free rein. And this is, of course, preposterous.
But this doesn’t really matter. There is no reason to hold some sort of intellectual debate on this question, no more than one should argue with animals, be they wild or domesticated. If they are animals, which they are, then all we have to do is observe them in their natural habitat (air-conditioned boxes, mostly) and see how well they do. And it turns out that those who deny their instinctual nature and go against their instinctual drives go… extinct. Instinct or extinct—the choice is yours. Chase nature out the door and it will jump back in through the window; toss it out the window and it will climb down the chimney. Nature Always Wins. And, make no mistake, according to Nature we are just a bunch of uppity animals.
Culture does matter for something. Most importantly, each ethnos at each stage in its development (a process called ethnogenesis) evolves a specific set of positive ethnic stereotypes. Stereotypical behaviors are those that are required of individuals in order for them to be considered socially adequate. They may include various nice-to-haves such as holding doors and yielding seats to the elderly and to women. They include standards of comportment and demeanor, choice of dress and language and a myriad other details, and a violation of any of these sets off an alarm. As an ethnos develops, some stereotypical behaviors are phased out while others are phased in; what is important is that the entire set of them remains consistent throughout the ethnos.
In this sense, cultural stereotypes are helpful in maintaining ethnic solidarity, but they are mutable and artificial. But there is a far more important principle involved, which is masked by ethnic stereotypes and which is based not on culture but on biological instinct—the principle of complementarity.
Similarly to how animals of different subspecies will choose to mate with individuals from the same subspecies no matter how difficult they are for us to distinguish, humans spontaneously feel sympathy or antipathy for individuals based on some biologically determined compatibility factors that escape their conscious minds. We do not know how it works, but this in no way implies that the phenomenon doesn’t exist. There are many examples of such behaviors; for example, experiments have shown that women can choose men whose immunological profiles are complementary to theirs based on the smell of their sweat. Clearly, no conscious process can possibly be involved in such a decision; it is based purely on instinct. Similarly with the innate human friend-or-foe identification system; we don’t know how it works, but we do know that it exists.
When this system works well, it operates vacuously and there isn’t much to observe. The interesting cases are those when it is disregarded and results in societal failure. A striking example was presented by the Ottoman Turks: their once great empire disintegrated rather swiftly, and what was particularly apparent in this instantaneous disintegration was the complete lack of ethnic solidarity. The explanation for this phenomenon is as follows. The Ottomans were quite scrupulous in maintaining strict lines of patrilineal descent, but matrilineal descent was considered unimportant.
Thus, the Ottomans stocked their harems with women from all over the world, from all over their empire and beyond, and they didn’t particularly care whether these women, thrown together by fate, were complementary to each other or not. They may have sat around hissing at each other like snakes. But the sons they bore their lords and masters felt no complementarity for each other at all. Round after round of fabulous intrigue and backstabbing ensued and the empire fractured and was erased. Out of the ashes of this multiethnic hodgepodge eventually arose modern Turkey, where non-Turks, be they Greek, Armenian, Kurd of any of the other ethnicities that made up the Ottoman empire were quickly shown their place.
Lack of ethnic solidarity is but one symptom of widespread violation of the principle of complementarity. Another is the appearance of anti-systems of thought, be they nihilism, devil-worship or modern globalist military humanitarianism and eco-fascism. When humans are born into and mature in an environment where their innate friend-or-foe system is rarely triggered, and then always by somebody who is not accepted within the in-group, they tend to spontaneously decide that the world is a good place, that humanity is as it should be and that both are there to love and to nurture.
And when they are thrust into an environment where their friend-or-foe system fires all the time, but where they are told that the feelings of antagonism and alienation this inevitably gives rise to are their personal failings—because they are bigoted or intolerant or worse—they tend to spontaneously arrive at the opposite conclusion: that the world is full of evil, that humanity is deplorable, and that instead of love and nurture what they need is revolution and destruction.
The Western fate has a lot to do with this process. After many centuries of confusion and degeneration, two biologically non-complementary human subtypes—artificially and loosely grouped into Catholics and Protestants, although their subtle theological differences were almost entirely irrelevant—fought numerous wars of attrition. As a result of that, they managed to sort themselves into nations, which then formed nation-states, and for a time these ethnoi exhibited exemplary solidarity and social cohesion. But then they started accepting migrants from their former colonial possessions, including ones with which they never intermarried because of lack of complementarity. Sure enough, the friend-or-foe mechanism started firing, at first haphazardly, then more and more frequently, and people growing up in this environment became increasingly alienated, despondent, nihilistic and less and less driven to love and to nurture selflessly and more and more driven to neglect or, worse, to destroy what they saw as a frightening world and a thoroughly rotten society.
There is a marker for people whom lack of complementarity with those around them drives into embracing social anti-systems: they don’t breed well. Regard the current generation of European leaders. Many of them are childless; some have at most one child. This also holds for societies at large.
This is Nature’s solution to lack of complementarity: extinction. The proponents of the anti-system fail to reproduce and their numbers dwindle. To help with this process, they are often replaced by other tribes—ones whose members do not tolerate complementarity violations in their midst: when their innate friend-or-foe identification systems are triggered, they tend to be quick to resort to murder and mayhem to restore order. European and American officials and mass media try to hush up the fact that this is in fact happening, but how long they will be able to continue to do so is an open question.
Another open question is whether those involved will ever be able to accept Nature’s judgement. It is quite possible that they will persist in the fantasy that their ideology is unimpeachable and that their demise resulted from other factors. But this question is academic, because the final outcome is always the same: biological extinction. A more viscerally important question is how much damage to this “fallen world” they manage cause before they finally depart.