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Page added on November 30, 2015

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Kunstler: The Story Line Dissolves

General Ideas

Sometimes societies just go crazy. Japan, 1931, Germany, 1933. China, 1966. Spain 1483, France, 1793, Russia, 1917, Cambodia, 1975, Iran, 1979, Rwanda, 1994, Congo, 1996, to name some. By “crazy” I mean a time when anything goes, especially mass killing. The wheels came off the USA in 1861, and though the organized slaughter developed an overlay of romantic historical mythos — especially after Ken Burns converted it into a TV show — the civilized world to that time had hardly ever seen such an epic orgy of death-dealing.

I doubt that I’m I alone in worrying that America today is losing its collective mind. Our official relations with other countries seem perfectly designed to provoke chaos. The universities have melted into toxic sumps beyond even anti-intellectualism to a realm of hallucination. Demented gunmen mow down total strangers weekly in what looks like a growing competition to end their miserable lives with the highest victim score. The financial engineers have done everything possible to pervert and undermine the operations of markets. The political parties are committing suicide by cluelessness and corruption.

There is no narrative for our behavior toward Russia that makes sense anymore. Our campaign to destabilize Ukraine worked out nicely, didn’t it? And then we acted surprised when Russia reclaimed the traditionally Russian territory of Crimea, with its crucial warm-water naval ports. Who woulda thought? Then we attempted to antagonize them further with economic sanctions. The net effect is that Vladimir Putin ended up looking more rational and sane than any leader in the NATO coalition.

Lately, Russia has filled the vacuum of competence in Syria, cleaning up a mess that America left with its two-decade-long crusade to leave a train of broken governments everywhere in the region. A few weeks back, Mr. Putin made the point before the UN General Assembly that wrecking every national institution in sight among weak and unstable nations was probably not a recipe for world peace. President Obama never did formulate a coherent comeback to that. It’s a little terrifying to realize that the leader of our former arch-adversary is the only figure onstage who can come up with a credible story about what needs to happen there. And his restraint this week following what may have been a US-assisted shoot-down of a Russian bomber by idiots in Turkey is really estimable. It all looks like a feckless slide provoked by our side into World War III, and for what? To make the world safe for the Kardashians?

The uproars on campus before Thanksgiving are more a reflection on the astounding cowardice of college presidents than the foolishness of young minds — which, being not fully formed, are easily susceptible to idealist figments. The adults in charge ought to know better. Princeton President Christopher Eisgruber actually entertained the “demand” to erase Woodrow Wilson’s presence on campus for being an arch-segregationist by a black “social justice league” that at the very same time demanded separate (i.e. segregated) social space for blacks only. How did he reconcile these pleadings in his own mind, I wonder.

President Biddy Martin of Amherst pandered to students protesting against free speech, saying:

            “Over the course of several days, a significant number of students have spoken eloquently and movingly about their experiences of racism and prejudice on and off campus.  The depth and intensity of their pain and exhaustion are evident.  That pain is real.  Their expressions of loneliness and sense of invisibility are heartrending.  No attempt to minimize or trivialize those feelings will be convincing to those of us who have listened.  It is good that our students have seized this opportunity to speak, rather than further internalizing the isolation and lack of caring they have described.”

Bottom line: hurt feelings supposedly cancel free speech. No, that’s exactly the opposite of the meaning of the First Amendment. How can a college president fail to understand that and fail to defend the campus against that sort of Jacobin despotism? The answer is they are hostage to dogmas cooked up by race-and-identity careerists who don’t really care to make distinctions between what is true and what is not true — and that is now the official tone of higher education in America. It’s a short hop from there to not knowing the difference between what is real and what is unreal.

The phenomenon of demented lone gunmen killing strangers and innocents will morph into civil insurrection, especially as the major political parties break apart and the loosed factions set out to settle their old scores by whatever means they can. History knows that violence is infectious and that social inhibitions melt away when the conditions are ripe. Groups give themselves permission to act outside the bounds of normal behavior, and all of a sudden atrocity is the order of the day.

Both Trump and Hillary have the mojo to destroy their respective parties and I think the probability is that they will. Unfortunately, we don’t live under a parliamentary system that recognizes smaller factions as legitimate parties, so we are sure to live through an era of political disorder. What emerges from that could be a very severe polity, since it will be based on the wish to restore order at all costs.

It is likely to get the shove it needs from the implosion of the financial system, which is now running on the fumes of dwindling credit. A false capitalism reigns based on false capital — notional wealth where there is really no wealth; value where there is no value. Moments like this in history beat a path straight to currency collapse, and that will open the door to a greater collapse of all our familiar arrangements.

Surely there is some kind of massive unseen sensory organ in societies that receives the signal that systems are failing. And surely it spooks the individuals who make up those societies so badly that they will believe anything and do anything.

Kunstler



15 Comments on "Kunstler: The Story Line Dissolves"

  1. Boat on Mon, 30th Nov 2015 9:27 am 

    Lately, Russia has filled the vacuum of competence in Syria, cleaning up a mess that America left with its two-decade-long crusade to leave a train of broken governments everywhere in the region. A few weeks back, Mr. Putin made the point before the UN General Assembly that wrecking every national institution in sight among weak and unstable nations was probably not a recipe for world peace

    Peace in the Middle East? LOL There has and never will be peace in the Middle East. Putin filling a competence void is laughable. He will find there is no solution and will only spend money his own population needs. Just like the US has and is still doing.

  2. ghung on Mon, 30th Nov 2015 10:28 am 

    Jeez, Boat, are you too lazy to quote an article properly?

    As for this line; “I doubt that I’m alone in worrying that America today is losing its collective mind.”, at some point I came to terms with my growing awareness that the society which fate plopped me into is quite insane, and falling deeper into the fog which makes any real situational awareness rare and ineffectual. While I appreciate authors like Kunstler and Greer trying to hold the line of sanity and clarity, I’m not sure there’s even a point to it. Preaching to the choir for the most part, IMO. Humanity’s loss of wisdom will surely be finalised by its grotesque cleverness.

    Best to make one’s self as comfortable and resilient as possible while watching the madness play out from the cheap seats.

  3. shortonoil on Mon, 30th Nov 2015 10:41 am 

    “It all looks like a feckless slide provoked by our side into World War III, and for what? To make the world safe for the Kardashians?”

    Pagans…….1
    Christians ..0

  4. Boat on Mon, 30th Nov 2015 10:48 am 

    ghung,

    While I appreciate authors like Kunstler and Greer trying to hold the line of sanity and clarity, I’m not sure there’s even a point to it.

    I am glad they have the right to write their opinions like I wish the entire world could do. Mostly they just whine like citizens do since the beginning of writing. Humanity never had a golden age, never had a collective wisdom. That kind of thinking was always nieve. We just go day to day. There was never anything more. As individuals we can only do small things that in the long run have little effect. But that’s ok, it is what it is.

  5. Cynical voter base on Mon, 30th Nov 2015 11:00 am 

    The wheels have fallen off, the logical absurdist limit of “social justice” and other ideologies has been reached within this society, and the politics of both the republican and democratic party are grossly dysfunctional and do not follow the interests of the vast majority of the American public.

    Ironically, what will save us will be the very thing that this site purports to be about. When oil prices spike again, as they will, it will make transportation over long distances very difficult, so this will significantly cut down on illegal immigration and potentially hostile behavior by organized entities directed towards us such as China and Russia. In other words, because we live in North America, the Chinese and Russians will find it extremely difficult to exert physical power in a way to sway the direction in what we go.

    So we will be saved by our physical isolation from more organized, rational, and focused adversaries.

  6. Plantagenet on Mon, 30th Nov 2015 11:10 am 

    Kunstler has perfectly captured the geistzeit of our age—this is one of his better screeds, IMHO.

  7. Plantagenet on Mon, 30th Nov 2015 11:11 am 

    oopsies…make that zeitgeist of our age—my German is a little rusty, I’m afraid.

    Cheers!

  8. Boat on Mon, 30th Nov 2015 11:19 am 

    Cynical voter base

    Ironically, what will save us will be the very thing that this site purports to be about. When oil prices spike again, as they will, it will make transportation over long distances very difficult,

    Nat Gas ocean going ships are being built as we speak. Huge deposits are being announced all the time. Prices of Nat Gas have dropped dramatically with more. Shipping goods cheaply will not go away for a long time.

  9. jjhman on Mon, 30th Nov 2015 11:57 am 

    I used to read Kunstler faithfully every week until one day I realized he was just a cranky fool with a really terrific ability with words. He should get an award for the most pessimistic writer since Franz Kafka. I think Kafka’s outcomes were often more realistic.

    This article is an exercise in turning anecdotal incidents into vast sweeping generalitites. There have always been irrational college students, dizzy college president and delusional Russian emperors. U.S. presidents have made stupid mistakes on a regular basis. Times are indeed tough, Kunstler just tries his best to make things look worse.

  10. onlooker on Mon, 30th Nov 2015 12:16 pm 

    In a showmanship way, Kunstler hits the nails on their respective heads. I too suggest everyone just hunker down with what family, friends or dear ones you may have. This is the beginning of a bumpy ride.

  11. ikdontknowmyself on Mon, 30th Nov 2015 1:03 pm 

    Surely there is some kind of massive unseen sensory organ in societies that receives the signal that systems are failing. And surely it spooks the individuals who make up those societies so badly that they will believe anything and do anything.

    You mean someone like this:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJUI6j4w9S4

    There is a big censorship coming out of Europe to hide the problems with immigration. The only way to get info is to look at personal video of people living in Europe.

  12. Davy on Mon, 30th Nov 2015 2:56 pm 

    There is a lot of truth to Kunstler’s post no doubt. We talk about these things daily so we are not hearing much new. I have seen Kunatler deteriorate in tone over the last year. It is almost like he is in competition with Orlov to see who can rip the US a new asshole with more force and passion. I think it is a combination of year after year living in such a frame of mind one gets lost in the message. Doom, hate, and resentment is dangerous on the mental health. Appealing to the masses requires entertainment. Kunstler is a master of the spoken tongue but it is gone to his head. Are things bad in the US? hell yes but Kunstler bad not so much. It is too big of a place to run everything through the ringer.

  13. shortonoil on Mon, 30th Nov 2015 4:07 pm 

    “I have seen Kunatler deteriorate in tone over the last year.”

    We are a civilization based on one finite, and depleting commodity. Everything is deteriorating; Kunstler is just its reflection!

  14. Newfie on Mon, 30th Nov 2015 4:52 pm 

    Every week Kunstler predicts the world will collapse next week. But it never does.

    There have been a few dozen civilizations since the “dawn of time” and they all collapsed. So it seems likely this one will too. But it won’t happen overnight. Certainly not next week.

  15. ghung on Mon, 30th Nov 2015 6:42 pm 

    Newfie said; ” But it won’t happen overnight. Certainly not next week.”

    Overnight. Last week. The week before that. Tomorrow. Civilizational collapse is a process, not a moment in time. The US has been in the process of collapse since the early ’70s, IMO. I suggest you take a tour of vast parts of Detroit, Gary, Indiana, the many industrial towns, north and south, that are shadows of their former selves. I’m one of those folks that likes to get off of the interstates and explore the old highways that used to service the many small and midsized towns that are just gone. Meanwhile, the country that birthed them has financialised their assets into off-shore neverland.

    A country which has public debt in excess of its ‘GDP”, that has to rob it’s supposedly secure social trust funds, that continues to accumulate debt while fighting wars it can’t win, or pay for, a country that can’t possibly keep the promises it keeps making, a country that can’t be honest with itself about some pretty basic things, is in collapse. Call it decline if you want; it’s just a matter of timeframe. I suggest you get off the main roads more and develop a deeper sense of time. I know too many people who never get out of their bubbles, but think they have a good handle on the state of things.

    Frogs. In pots.

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