[This book review was written for the Unz Review]
This is the third book by Andrei Martyanov that I am reviewing, the first one was “Book Review – Losing Military Supremacy: the Myopia of American Strategic Planning by Andrei Martyanov”, while the second one was “Book Review: Andrei Martyanov’s The (Real) Revolution in Military Affairs”. I also interviewed Andrei about this second volume here. The book I am reviewing today, “Disintegration: Indicators of the Coming American Collapse” can be pre-ordered from Clarity Press here and from Amazon here.
If the first two volumes mostly focused on issues of force planning and military power, this third volume addresses the wider context and shows example after example that the United States is not only failing at its attempts to remain a world hegemon, but the US is, in fact, in a process we could call “full-spectrum collapse” or, like Martyanov, simply “disintegration”. Specifically, the book looks into the manifestation of disintegration in the following spheres:
- Making Things
- Western Elites
- Losing the Arms Race
- Empire Über Alles – Including Americans
- To Be or Not To Be
- Conclusion: Not Exceptional, Not Free, Not Prosperous – Not America?
These are tantalizing subject headings which I will not further describe because I really want to encourage as many people as possible to read this book. Why?
Mainly because while Martyanov’s first two books were dealing primarily with military and geostrategic issues, this one goes much wider and looks at the broader socio-cultural reasons which create the context for such a dramatic lack of real military capabilities.
A month ago I wrote an article I called “Zone B Exists, Thus There Is Hope, I Promise You!” in which I tried to show that the pseudo “reality” in which most people in the West are artificially kept in by the most effective (and insidious) propaganda machine in history is not the “real reality” at all! Not only that, but that most of the planet has been living in “Zone B” for quite a while. In fact, this “Zone B” has already moved on, even if the legacy ziomedia never reports about this.
Well, you can think of Martyanov’s books like the perfect example of a “Zone B book”: not only does Martyanov debunk most of the myths of the US propaganda machine, he contrasts these delusions with examples from the real world.
You could buy only one or two of Martyanov’s books, and each of them stands on its own, but I really think of them as a trilogy which should be read and discussed by as many people in the West as possible. In fact, you could think of them as each a kind of “crash course on debunking delusions and returning to reality”. The overarching message of all three volumes is this: “People of the United States, your ruling elites are lying to you just like the chamber orchestra on the Titanic that was playing music while the supposedly “unsinkable” Titanic was sinking!”.
Interestingly, Martyanov adds that, of all nations, Russians understand these processes better than anybody else because they they too suffered the same fate during the “democratic nightmare of the 1990s”. (I would add that descendants of White Russians like myself also remember the “democratic nightmare” under Kerenskii in 1917). Martyanov writes:
“The collapse of the Soviet Union and the economic catastrophe which followed taught Russians a lot, and also left an aftertaste of the humiliation of losing power – a process the United States is going through right now”
Truth be told, Martyanov is hardly the first person to have mentioned the uncanny similarities between the Soviet Union of the late 80s, or the Russia of the 90s, with the USA of the last two decades (or more). For example, Martyanov mentions Dmitry Orlov whose many books have looked into what he calls the “stages of collapse” (financial, economic, political, social, cultural and, later, he added ecological) and have became a precious analytical tool for many researchers. Many decades earlier, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, whom Martyanov intensely dislikes, also often mentioned that the West of the 80s reminded him of the Russia of the early 20th century. This is just to illustrate Martyanov’s point that,
“Speaking in layman’s terms, the Russians get it. They, unlike any other people in the world, can relate to what the United States is going through right now. Russians can read the signs extremely well, while the U.S. elite not only has no experience with it, but is completely insulated from understanding it. This is America’s tragedy unfolding before our very eyes. Not only is America’s crisis systemic, but its elites are uncultured, badly educated and mesmerized by decades of their own propaganda, which in the end, they accept as a reality.”
I couldn’t agree more. I would also add that those Russians who write books and articles desperately trying to warn the people of the USA of real catastrophe taking place do that not because they are hostile to the United States, but precisely because they are sympathetic to the people of the USA. The flag-waving pseudo-patriots who accuse these Russians of being “anti-American” simply don’t understand the “evil Russians” they hate so much (mostly because modern Russia under Putin has been fantastically successful, in spite of sanctions, threats, subversion, etc., while the USA is in agony – that is why these folks are willing to believe anything bad, no matter how self-evidently stupid, about Russia and/or Putin).
Yes, of course, Russians hate and despise the US ruling Nomenklatura, just as they despised their own, Soviet, Nomenklatura. But that in no way implies what many mistake for “anti-American” hostility.
[Sidebar: in my almost 58 years of life I have been blessed with the chance to travel a lot and speak six or so languages, yet I have never come across what I would call “anti-Americanism”. Even in countries supposedly hostile to the USA, the actual focus of the anger and disgust of people are the actions of the AngloZionist Empire, the ugly parasite feeding off its US host. Take a country like, say, Brazil. Anti “yankee” feelings have always been strong there, yet Brazilian musicians are known to beautifully fuse US and Brazilian music (see this superb example). The same is true elsewhere: people hate US policies, but very rarely the people of the USA. Right now, judging by the Runet and emails from friends, Russians mostly feel pity for the people of the USA, not hate, and this is so because they “get it” as Martyanov correctly states. Of course, there are stupid and/or bigoted people in all countries and I am sure that there are those who hate the United States as a country, but I am confident that this is a small minority. There is one interesting category left: those who become critical of the US society after having lived in the USA; a famous example of that would be Sayyid Qutb]
None of that is meant to whitewash all the violence and ugliness of the short but extremely violent US history. But violence and ugliness exist in the history of probably every country on the planet (there sure was plenty of violence and ugliness in the history of Russia!). True, the US was probably one of the most bloody and violent regimes in history, but that violence ought to be attributed to imperialism and capitalism and not to something unique to the USA (the British Empire was possibly the most criminally violent in history). Even more important to the understanding of US history is that most of its violence had its roots not in national or racial causes, but in the many social or, better, class struggles which peppered the history of the USA. Again, discussions of class issues have been comprehensively blotted out from all the school books in Zone A, depriving those who had the misfortune to be educated in the West from one of the most important tools of political and economic analysis.
The importance of the above cannot be overstated and this is why Martyanov comes back to the topic of the education of the western ruling classes over and over again. In the last pages of Disintegration Martyanov writes:
Thus, no viable ideas or solutions to the current unfolding economic, social and cultural catastrophe can originate within these elites, who see the world only through the Wall Street and New York Times lenses. Real intellect, courage and integrity are simply not there: they all have been traded for the perks and sinecures of what many correctly describe as the Washington D.C. blob, whose only purpose for existence is self-perpetuation.
I would only add that there is a karmic irony in the fact that it is precisely because these ruling classes have no other purpose in life than self-perpetuation (and consumption, I would add) that they are driving themselves, and the country which they exploit, into extinction.
Conclusion: these are “must read” books for all of Zone A! (and even Zone B!)
Finally, it is precisely because Martyanov’s books are like “messages from Zone B” that I urge every person living in the USA or in the EU to read them. As I said, each of these books stands on its own, but together they reach a kind of intellectual critical mass which makes them truly “must read” books, especially for those who hate their ruling regime but love their country.
These books are all short, very well written, they have decent (but not perfect) indexes and are an easy read. If you want to get a superb summation of what is *really* going on in the United States (as opposed to the frankly laughable AngloZionist propaganda or the inchoate and outright childish slogans of the flag-waving “Trump patriots”) – read these books. If you have brainwashed friends, give them any (or, better, all of) these books: they are like a “crash course in reality studies”. If you have family members who still believe all the nonsense about “American exceptionalism”, challenge them to read these books.
Folks living in Zone B would also immensely benefit from reading Martyanov’s books. Not because these books will tell them much they weren’t already at least vaguely aware of, but because these books are also a very truthful “state of the United States” kind of SITREP. In my experience, while most folks (at least the well-read ones) in Zone B do mostly understand that the Empire is dead (or very close to death) and while they also feel the USA are undergoing a massive internal catastrophe, most of these folks in Zone B do not fully appreciate the magnitude and severity of these crises. For them too, Martyanov’s books will be an eye opener. This is also why I hope that all three of Martyanov’s books will be quickly translated into Russian: they will become instant blockbusters and, what is even more important, they will be read in Russian academies and universities. French and Spanish are another two languages I hope that these books will be translated into.
But, most of all, I hope (against any common sense or logic) that these books will be read by *truly* patriotic US officers, force planners, analysts, political decision-makers, etc. Right now, there is a real threat of these folks stumbling into a shooting war with Russia which the USA will never survive (nor would Russia or much of the rest of the world, of course). But even if by some miracle this potential war remains non-nuclear, the USA will still be destroyed, at least as a functioning country, by Russian conventional capabilities. This is the single biggest danger and possible disaster authors like Martyanov are so desperately trying to prevent: a major war caused by a clueless ruling Nomenklatura involving a country (the USA) which has never fought a defensive war in its history and which has never experienced real warfare, especially not against a competent adversary. I can only add that in case of a conventional war, Russia now has the means to defend not only her airspace, but a conceptual “Russian border proximity zone” of roughly 800km-1000km (and this range is steadily increasing). The USA cannot. Neither can the EU or NATO. And for all the silly MIC+Pentagon promises of super-duper missiles, this is not something which will change in the short to medium time frame.
The more people in the USA realize this, the better the chances avoid a terrible catastrophe. Hence the timely importance of Andrei Martyanov’s books.