You've likely already noted the fact that the predictions of a "Russian scholar" named Igor Panarin - who believes that the current economic crisis, coupled with a handful of targeted social issues, will lead to the collapse of the United States within a year - has been the focus of reports today. Here's the AP's rundown, for example, and here's the write-up at Fox News. MSNBC also made a brief mention of it on the air. As far as predictions go... well, I think they show that there are more significant concerns to be had over Russian scholarship than there are over the political integrity of the United States.
One also might suggest that concerns should be directed at the media, who are basically taking a second bite from an apple on which they've already reported. (In the interest of disclosure, I'm pretty sure this is the second time we've laid hands on the story, also!) Here's how Bloomberg reported it out, last November, after the election:
"Dissatisfaction is growing, and it is only being held back at the moment by the elections, and the hope" that President- elect Barack Obama "can work miracles," [Panarin] said. "But when spring comes, it will be clear that there are no miracles."
Granted, it's not spring yet, so we must wait with bated breath to see if Panarin's predictions come to pass. Maybe there really will be no New York Times in May, either! At any rate, the basic underpinnings of this predicted collapse have shifted, somewhat weirdly, in today's reports:
Panarin didn't give many specifics on what underlies his analysis, mostly citing newspapers, magazines and other open sources.
He also noted he had been predicting the demise of the world's wealthiest country for more than a decade now.
But he said the recent economic turmoil in the U.S. and other "social and cultural phenomena" led him to nail down a specific time frame for "The End" - when the United States will break up into six autonomous regions and Alaska will revert to Russian control.
Panarin argued that Americans are in moral decline, saying their great psychological stress is evident from school shootings, the size of the prison population and the number of gay men.
"I was there recently and things are far from good," he said. "What's happened is the collapse of the American dream."
Well, hey! He was here recently! The thing is, I remember how Panarin drew up the aftermath of the collapse on a map from the November circulation of his predictions, and it looked nothing like the conclusions of a man who had a) been to America recently and b) thought that prisons and gays and school shootings would form the basic fissures of division:
Raise your hand if you see - post-collapse of civilization - a possible future where California and the Pacific Northwest have formed a rump state with Idaho, Utah, and Arizona allied with the Chinese, and in which the liberal Northeastern enclaves of New England and Acela-land are off to join the Eurozone with Ground Zero of Bittergate - West Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee.
Anyway, this Panarin guy is, like, the Nate Silver of Russia now. One question remains: Why did the media pick this story up for a second go-round? Was it something that Glenn Beck did, or something?
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