Now, it is entirely possible Panarin is engaging in projection. Having witnessed the dissolution of the USSR, he sees parallels in the current U.S. situation that might not really be there. For that matter, I have been viewing the situation in the U.S. through the prism of my experience with the end of Yugoslavia, and the Bosnian War. Fractured society, a credit-fueled boom that turned into a disaster when the bills came due, the same "it can't happen here" conviction that blindsided many Bosnians... do I see them here? Absolutely. This is why I tend to take Panarin a bit more seriously than most people. If current trends continue, then I really do think this country is headed to perdition. I am far less certain of what shape that perdition might take than Igor Panarin, however. It is one thing to posit likelihoods, and quite another to speak of exact timelines and even territorial divisions.
In a recent exclusive interview with the premier Serbian weekly NIN on the day of Barack Obama's inauguration, Panarin compared the new president to the last leader of the USSR (translations mine):
The new American president is a very good speaker, and reminds me a lot of Gorbachev. His role is very similar, to soften the dissolution of the USA as much as possible. If the attempt to rescue the financial system fails, he can be the scapegoat: it's his lack of experience, etc. It would be USSR-like scenario, except it took us six years to collapse, and the USA will do it in 18 months. Things move faster these days...
He impressed me, too, in the beginning: he spoke well, and very reasonably. But I kept watching and he kept repeating the same things. He offered nothing new. He kept reminding me of Gorbachev. When Gorbachev came to power, many thought it a good thing - myself included. But after just six months, it became obvious that the words were all well and good, but the actual effect was the country's collapse.
He went on to explain how the USSR fell apart because Gorbachev had racked up foreign debt and bankrupted the state. (Yeltsin's henchman Yegor Geidar explained this in some detail in a paper he wrote for the American Enterprise Institute a couple years back.) So, in his mind, the crushing government debt will destroy the U.S. analogously.
The wrinkle here is that American debt is held in American-printed dollars; so long as the rest of the world maintains the dollar as the global reserve currency, the Fed will be able to print money and "create wealth" out of thin air with impunity. Where do you think those billions for the so-called "stimulus" are coming from? But if Washington keeps printing money, sooner or later it will reduce its worth below the level acceptable to foreign buyers. I don't know what that level might be; it depends on a variety of facts and perceptions and is essentially subjective. But any economic theory says that such a point must exist. And once it's reached, the U.S. dollar will be worth about as much as its Zimbabwean namesake.
One of the things Panarin only mentions in passing, but which I consider crucial, is the Americans' mental state. Modern politicians are fond of invoking the line about how "all men are created equal" from the Declaration of Independence, forgetting that the rest of that sentence, lifted almost entirely out of Locke's Second Treatise on Civil Government, talks about the "unalienable Rights...[of] Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" (or, as Locke put it, property). Whereas European governments of the time were still built around the medieval concept of a monarch being in charge of the landed gentry that lorded over the serfs, with some free citizenry thrown in, America was supposed to be the land of the free - i.e. those who owned property and did not depend on laboring for someone else. (Obviously, the whole slavery thing was a glaring fly in the ointment, but keep in mind that the Founders by and large considered the slaves less than fully human). Even if one was reduced to what Marx would call a proletarian - with no property but himself - the "American dream" was always to save up enough to buy one's own farm or shop, to be one's own boss.
Most people in today's America work for someone else, though. Most productive assets are owned by big businesses, which became big by collaborating with an ever-expanding government. And the government regulates and taxes everything to a degree where no one is actually free, and people in effect live and work at the government's sufferance. Now I know many will disagree with this assessment; small business owners who have to spend time and money making sure they are in compliance with the ever-expanding body of regulations and tax codes, however, know exactly what I mean.
So, from a country of free farmers and small businessmen, America has become a nation of regulated wage slaves. Worse yet, this economic transformation has gone hand in hand with a cultural and societal change. The growth of cities and the development of suburbs and highways has fractured and scattered families. In many places across the U.S. there is no longer a sense of community. Even regional identities have suffered due to migration patterns. Racial and linguistic identity politics aren't helping, either. And while this social atomization may seem like a fine thing to the government, as it promotes conflict and therefore enables control and encourages dependence (on the government, as the "solution"), it sows the seeds of misfortune for when the government eventually goes under.
Do Americans even have shared values anymore? What might those be? Self-reliance? Individualism? Liberty? Hardly, anymore. It seems that pursuit of money and the belief in government omnipotence are the only things America's diverse inhabitants have in common. That's a mighty thin fabric for a nation. Once money evaporates in a cloud of inflation and the government is shown to be impotent, what's left?
When someone asked me, a couple years back, whether I thought U.S. would have another civil war, I replied, "If and when it happens, there won't be anything civil about it." Yes, it's a pun. And yes, it's gallows humor. But look at it from my perspective: the American equivalent of what happened to Bosnia - and that's under the charitable assumption that things here would not turn out far worse - would be 150 million refugees and 6 million dead. I don't want to see that happen. No one in their right mind would.
And that is why I take Panarin's predictions seriously, if with a chunk of salt. While it may not happen as soon as he thinks, or in the manner he laid out, the end of the U.S. is both possible and increasingly likely. If and when it happens, I pray only that it resembles the Czech/Slovak "velvet divorce," or even the relatively bloodless Soviet model (where conflicts were confined to the periphery), rather than the bloody and tragic demise of Yugoslavia. I've lived through that already. Once was enough.