Sunday, June 27, 2010


Collapse — The Movie

I was finally able to view a DVD of Collapse, an unusual documentary that is mostly a monologue by Michael C. Ruppert. After watching the film, viewers can probably be roughly divided into two groups: Those who will dismiss Ruppert as a crackpot, and those who will feel as if they’ve been guided into a whole new — and very scary — world. But if you listen objectively to what Ruppert has to say, you’ll likely avoid falling into the first group.

Let me be honest and say right from the outset that I have been a fan of Mike Ruppert and his work since the days when he was publishing From the Wilderness. I spent many hours slogging through his monumental tome Crossing the Rubicon. And now I’m on his lifeboat-building island CollapseNet. So it could be said that I am partial. Yet, anyone who has examined Ruppert’s writing cannot help but marvel at his thorough work, the logic of his dot-connecting, and his uncanny ability to peel away layers of obfuscation, spin, disinformation, and BS to ferret out the truth — a talent I call his “detective’s eye.” And his journalistic record speaks for itself. One wonders why all journalism cannot be like that at FTW. But of course we know the reason.

Collapse presents what many would call an apocalyptic vision — nothing less than the collapse of industrial civilization — in a surprisingly toned-down, low-key format. Despite presenting us with a quite horrifying scenario, we see Ruppert relaxing calmly in a chair, clad in a dress shirt and slacks, quietly and methodically laying out his case. The eerie bunker-like location contrasts with this, and serves to set off the message.

Naturally, many viewers will not or cannot believe that industrial civilization is on the road to ruin, or that mass starvation awaits the world’s oil-fattened population. In this respect, the kicker is the must-see update included on the DVD, in which Ruppert points out matter-of-factly that half the things he predicted in the film have already come to pass in such a short time. As such, that strongly suggests that he is right about the rest.

I for one wasn’t really surprised by what I saw because I’m so familiar with Ruppert’s work and thought. But to people for whom this film is their first encounter with ideas such as peak oil, the pyramid-scheme economy, and the decline of industrial civilization, the experience could leave them with serious doubts at the least, but more likely with brutally shattered perceptions, and even some sleepless nights. After all, people around the world are led to believe in infinite growth, ever-increasing prosperity, easy golden years on fat pensions, and a glorious technological future in which robots perform all menial work. But Ruppert is showing us that our comfortable world is based on lies and is already coming apart at the seams.

We also learn about Mike Ruppert the man, about what makes him tick. While the film and the deleted scenes offer a number of windows into his complex character, the one thing that stands out is his dogged pursuit of the truth. Ruppert has lived a somewhat dangerous life. For example, he’s been shot at, his office was once targeted with microwaves, and he once entered his office one morning to find all his computers smashed (if that isn’t a message, I don’t know what is). So it was no surprise that he “retired” for a while. Most people would have gotten out of the truth-seeking business long before that. But here’s a man who can’t stay away from his calling, so he’s now lecturing, doing interviews, and presiding over CollapseNet.

A criticism of the film is that it doesn’t offer much in the way of an Rx. Happily, this has been more than remedied by CollapseNet, a community where people can share information, skills, and wisdom, and help each other build lifeboats. Whereas Collapse is arguably dark, CollapseNet shines a ray of light and offers hope.

Certainly Collapse isn’t for everyone. If you want to believe that our feckless world leaders are going to pull the fat out of the fire and the good times are going to roll again, and you’re not ready to hear otherwise, then perhaps this movie isn’t for you. But if you’re ready to have your worldview severely challenged, I recommend it highly.

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