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Kunstler: Questions and Answers


The really big item in last night’s 60-Minutes newsbreak was that the latest Star Wars movie passed the billion dollar profit gate a week after release. That says just about everything you need to know about our floundering society, including the state of the legacy news media.

The cherry on top last week was Elon Musk’s SpaceX company’s feat landing the first spent stage of its Falcon 9 rocket to be (theoretically) recycled and thus hugely lowering the cost of firing things into space. The media spooged all over itself on that one, since behind this feat stands Mr. Musk’s heroic quest to land humans on Mars. This culture has lost a lot in the past 40 years, but among the least recognized is the loss of its critical faculties. We’ve become a nation of six-year-olds.

News flash: we’re not going Mars. Notwithstanding the accolades for Ridley Scott’s neatly-rationalized fantasy, The Martian (based on Andy Weir’s novel), any human journey to the red planet would be a one-way trip. Anyway, all that begs the question: why are we so eager to journey to a dead planet with none of the elements necessary for human life when we can’t seem to manage human life on a planet superbly equipped to support us?

Answer: because we are lost in raptures of techno-narcissism. What do I mean by that? We’re convinced that all the unanticipated consequences of our brief techno-industrial orgy can be solved by… more and better technology! Notice that this narrative is being served up to a society now held hostage to the images on little screens, by skilled people who, more and more, act as though these screens have become the new dwelling place of reality. How psychotic is that?

All of this grandstanding about the glories of space goes on at the expense of paying attention to our troubles on this planet, including the existential question as to how badly we are fucking it up with burning the fossil fuels that power our techno-industrial activities. Personally, I don’t believe that any international accord will work to mitigate that quandary. But what will work, and what I fully expect, is a financial breakdown that will lead to a forced re-set of human endeavor at a lower scale of technological activity.

The additional question really is how much hardship will that transition entail and the answer is that there is plenty within our power to make that journey less harsh. But it would require dedication to clear goals and the hard work of altering all our current arrangements — and giving up these childish fantasy distractions about space and technology

Dreaming about rockets to Mars is easy compared to, say, transitioning our futureless Agri-Biz racket to other methods of agriculture that don’t destroy soils, water tables, ecosystems, and bodies. It’s easier than rearranging our lives on the landscape so we’re not hostage to motoring everywhere for everything. It’s easier than educating people to both think and develop real hands-on skills not dependent on complex machines and electric-powered devices.

But we’re not interested and that is why we’re going to be dragged kicking and screaming into a very different future, not riding rockets to the new mall on Mars. I’m not religious, but maybe there is something like Providence at work foisting all these space fantasies on us at the very end of the year, allowing us to get all this stupid shit out of the way so we can prepare for the banking and political tribulations to come in 2016. Speaking of which, next week I will publish my forecast for the twelve-month roller-coaster ahead. Happy New Year, one and all.


30 Comments on "Kunstler: Questions and Answers"

  1. makati1 on Mon, 28th Dec 2015 9:03 am 

    The Age of Tech is a blink in the human timeline and is about over. It arrived with the cheap, plentiful energy of coal, oil and NG and will disappear when the same slide into history by becoming too expensive and difficult to recover.

    We have never lived in an era without it so we cannot imagine it’s demise, but we soon will understand how the world functioned before it’s bounty was discovered. It may take a decade or so, or it may happen in an eye-blink by a solar flare. Either way, our grandchildren will live without it before they die as will many of those who are under 40.

  2. twocats on Mon, 28th Dec 2015 10:07 am 

    Does anyone dispute we now have the most complex human society ever at least in terms of hyperspecialization of labor and interconnectedness of labor and production. There is very little precedence for the sheer magnitude of what we face, but I’m sure the collapse of previous societies could give one a preview.

  3. ghung on Mon, 28th Dec 2015 10:30 am 

    twocats said; ” the most complex human society ever at least in terms of hyperspecialization of labor and interconnectedness of labor and production.”

    … and when have so many made their livings off of the production, marketing, transportation, selling, and disposal of purely discretionary stuff? What will they do when industrial age consumption crashes, when no one needs or can afford their useless crap? It’s no wonder they dream of space. The alternative is basically unthinkable.

  4. Hello on Mon, 28th Dec 2015 10:52 am 

    >> why are we so eager to journey to a dead planet

    It’s interesting to build, discover and engineer stuff, even if it doesn’t serve a ‘purpose’.

    Why do you write useless articles, James? I assume because it seems interesting and fun to you?

  5. ghung on Mon, 28th Dec 2015 11:12 am 

    Sure, Hello, the Greeks considered Cassandra useless.

  6. jjhman on Mon, 28th Dec 2015 11:22 am 

    I hardly ever read JK anymore because of his relentless negativism. He is also an irrational apologist for the crimes of humanity committed by the Israeli government (please note I didn’t say “the Jews”).

    This article, however, inspires cognitive dissonance within me. At one level I think the notion of going to Mars is just about as stupid an idea as can be imagined. Yet there is real beauty in the human pursuit of such lofty goals (pun intended). We can’t spend all of our time moping about environmental destruction and the coming apocalypse, going into space for knowledge, adventure and full employment isn’t such a bad idea as long as it isn’t being done instead of the important things that are needed.

    So it’s an interesting question: Is Elon Musk spending his ill gotten gains in a better or worse way than Bill Gates, Warren Buffet or Mark Zukerberg? I know the answer relative to the Donald.

  7. dave thompson on Mon, 28th Dec 2015 11:34 am 

    “raptures of techno-narcissism” the new human meme.

  8. penury on Mon, 28th Dec 2015 11:35 am 

    It has always been true’Dreams are easy reality is hard. When the reality that is present is too horrible to contemplate impossible dreams can be pursued (no real) efforts made and hope nurtured. I think that what JHK is asaying is that wotld dreams of tech solutions is destroying the opportunity to explore possible REAL changes.

  9. Apneaman on Mon, 28th Dec 2015 1:15 pm 

    Whatever it takes to get off this planet.

    Americans are drinking themselves to death at record rates

  10. Bob Owens on Mon, 28th Dec 2015 1:35 pm 

    A few decades ago, before JK became widely known, I used to email him and get replies. That had to stop when his email load hit the red-line. I always found him to be thoughtful and quite observant. He has had health problems that seem to have held him back a bit. He still puts out blogs, books and audio interviews, travel, talks. We should all be so capable; the world would be way better off. As for this Mars article, it is hard to say how re-usable rockets would impact us on Earth, but it could easily be positive. Lowering the cost of, say, GPS launches to 1/10 of today’s cost gives us an idea of the possible. Dreams of Mars, well, they will certainly be just dreams. But they provide a target for today’s engineers to work for, producing real advances for us here, even if we never get to Mars. Look at all the space progress we have made and we still don’t have a Moon colony, the dream of 50 – 100 years ago.

  11. Pennsyguy on Mon, 28th Dec 2015 1:45 pm 

    Beam me up Scotty: there is no intelligent life on this dying planet.

  12. eugene on Mon, 28th Dec 2015 1:47 pm 

    Maybe as we march ever closer to catastrophe, we march ever deeper into fantasy and endless dreams of a future that is not to be. Personally, I see the endless optimism of today as a barrier to dedicating ourselves to the task at hand.

  13. twocats on Mon, 28th Dec 2015 2:25 pm 

    Absolutely eugene – you cant solve a problem if you dont think you have one.

  14. bug on Mon, 28th Dec 2015 3:43 pm 

    Eugene, you are 100% correct

  15. makati1 on Mon, 28th Dec 2015 6:57 pm 

    Bob, there have been few, if any actual discoveries in the last 50 years. The techie toys and space tech we have today are only refined and ‘value added’ stuff we had in the 60s. Name ONE new tech not present then.

  16. Apneaman on Mon, 28th Dec 2015 9:35 pm 

    Another Yuletide Darwin award winner

    Man dies after blowing up condom machine while trying to rob it on Christmas Day

  17. Go Speed Racer on Mon, 28th Dec 2015 11:24 pm 

    Killed by blowing up a condom machine?

    I though condoms were engineered so U cannot blow them up?

    The police have released the name of the suspect: Richard. The sergeant said, what a dick.

    Did you know that piece of metal hit him hard-on.

    Next time, he should stay with safe sex.

    Did he do his thinking with the big head, or the little one?

    Why would he need all those condoms in that machine? Would this be how to get a quantity discount?

    Was he looking for love in all the wrong places?

    I am OK with Kunstler hyper-negativity. He is usually right. It is clear the whole USA economy is now nothing more than a Star Wars movie. Glad to have the insight.

    Due to the man killed by the condom machine, today, the Prime Minister announced that the British Government is changing it’s emblem to a condom because it reflects the government’s political stance more correctly.

    Condoms allow inflation, they halt production, they eliminate the next generation. Also they protect a bunch of dicks.

    Also condoms provide a sense of security while being screwed over, which is exactly the government intent.

  18. Apneaman on Tue, 29th Dec 2015 12:34 am

  19. Go Speed Racer on Tue, 29th Dec 2015 2:28 am 

    The media descended onto Richard’s apartment, the man killed by the piece of shrapnel. His wife said he had an explosive personality.

  20. Go Speed Racer on Tue, 29th Dec 2015 4:25 am 

    The man killed by the condom machine explosion, he liked the song ‘Your love is lifting me higher’.

    But his wife said his love never lifted him this high before.

  21. Go Speed Racer on Tue, 29th Dec 2015 4:33 am 

    The reporter asked the sergeant about the piece of exploding shrapnel from the condom machine… “Sir what killed the man?”

    Well, it was just like the Elvis Presley song, “A Hunk of Burning Love”.

    Girl, girl, girl
    You going to set me on fire
    My brain is flaming
    I don’t know which way to go

    Your kisses lift me higher
    Like the sweet song of a choir
    You light my morning sky
    With burning love

    Ooh, ooh, ooh
    I feel my temperature rising
    Help me, I’m flaming
    I must be a hundred and nine
    Burning, burning, burning
    And nothing can cool me
    I just might turn into smoke

  22. Go Speed Racer on Tue, 29th Dec 2015 9:20 am 

    a blowup condom machine?

    he should have got a blowup doll.

  23. Go Speed Racer on Tue, 29th Dec 2015 9:41 am 

    It was supposed to be an inside job.
    but it turned out to be a blow _ _ _.

  24. Go Speed Racer on Tue, 29th Dec 2015 10:11 am 

    The.police sergeant commented on the unfortunate demise of the condom bomber. It was because the detonation was premature.

  25. Bob on Tue, 29th Dec 2015 10:14 am 

    Bob, there have been few, if any actual discoveries in the last 50 years. The techie toys and space tech we have today are only refined and ‘value added’ stuff we had in the 60s. Name ONE new tech not present then.”

    the entire field of Nan-technology is new. So are working driveable EV cars, lithium batteries, self driving cars, the entire INTERNET, the PC, hyperlinks, browsers, the iPhone, cellphones, geo-thermal heat pumps, teflon, touch screens, and thousands upon thousands of other things. Microwave ovens. Integrated circuits. satellite TV, fiber optics, VLSI, GPS, ….go back and live in 1965 if you want. I’ll take 2015, 50 years later.

  26. ghung on Tue, 29th Dec 2015 11:12 am 

    Sure, Bob, your lifestyle is non-negotiable. We get that. Problem is, reality doesn’t negotiate, and if the planet can’t support the obscenely consumptive lifestyle you tout, it won’t. No amount of bargaining and magical thinking will change that, but rest easy. Several billion humans aspire to the same lifestyle you have, so you’ll have plenty of competition for whatever resources remain.

  27. Apneaman on Tue, 29th Dec 2015 12:41 pm 

    Bob, first off all these stupid fucking toys are helping to drive the species to extinction. So there’s that. Then there is the fact that most of that shit has not changed life for the better. Were you around in 1965? 1975? 1985?. Methinks you are in love with a story – one you have not even researched. Nanotechnology? Oh ya, life was brutal growing up in the 60’s and 70’s all because they didn’t have nano. We had it rough – Blood would constantly pour from every orifice and we would scream ourselves to sleep every night until Nanotechnology came along and put a halt to that. Thanks nano and thanks technology.

    Let’s take a listen to what a real life inventor and physicist says about it, shall we.

    You Call this Progress?

    The golden quarter
    Some of our greatest cultural and technological achievements took place between 1945 and 1971. Why has progress stalled?

  28. Apneaman on Tue, 29th Dec 2015 7:27 pm 

    Immoral Patsy – How The FBI Groomed Mentally Disabled Teen With A 51 IQ Into An “ISIS Terrorist”

    “It isn’t clear what use ISIS or the Pakistani Taliban would have for an 18-year-old American student with an estimated IQ of 51, is marginally verbal, and has little ability to perform routine tasks like tying his shoelaces. Peyton Pruitt, described by family and school officials as a developmentally stunted child, displays little understanding of terrorism and has no skills a terrorist group would covet. However, he is able to participate in online chats, which made him an irresistible target for FBI agents trolling the Web in search of patsies to cast in Homeland Security Theater productions.

    Although Pruitt is unable to use the bathroom without assistance, the FBI and the St. Clair, Alabama Sheriff’s Office are pretending that he was part of a plot to provide “material assistance to terrorism” on the basis of online conversations with FBI agents posing as recruiters for ISIS and the Taliban. He remains incarcerated in the St. Clair County Jail on $1 million bond.”

  29. makati1 on Tue, 29th Dec 2015 7:29 pm 

    ” Experimentation with lithium batteries began in 1912 under G.N. Lewis…”
    “The concepts that seeded nanotechnology were first discussed in 1959 by renowned physicist Richard Feynman…”
    “Research into packet switching started in the early 1960s and packet switched networks…” (internet)
    “The heat pump was described by Lord Kelvin in 1853 and developed by Peter Ritter von Rittinger in 1855…”
    “The story of Teflon® began April 6, 1938, at DuPont’s Jackson Laboratory in New Jersey.”
    And on and on. ALL are at least 50 years old. Nothing new here.

  30. theedrich on Wed, 30th Dec 2015 4:20 am 

    From astrophysicist Fred Hoyle Of Men and Galaxies (University of Washington Press:  Seattle, 1964), half a century ago:

    “There is a good biological-style argument against deep space travel.  If we could do it, so could somebody else.  It is unlikely, fantastically unlikely, that we should happen to be the first in the field.  Lots of others would have arrived here before now.  Why would they have left?  This planet is valuable real estate.  In fact, we ourselves would never have evolved at all on the Earth, because the Earth would have been filled up from outside.  The fact that this did not happen leads me to believe that space travel is not merely difficult but impossible… (p. 41).

    “The prediction [I am] making is that [urban isolation and boredom are] all going to get much worse — except for the entertainment industry, for which I prophesy the brightest conceivable future.  With increasing free time to kill, increasing monotony, increasing prosperity, there seems to be no limit to the potential development of entertainment.  Any new idea, provided only that it is different, will come to suffice.  More and more, the professions will cross over into the entertainment field.  Those of us who are not employed directly in industry will come to realize that what we are really in is ‘show biz.’  This is already happening in science — it is so with 95 per cent of the space program. … Entertainment and real estate are the two sound investments for the future” (pp. 52f.).

    In short, we are trapped.  The elites of America are the most corrupt and diseased elites the planet has ever known, because they are united in their semi-conscious (and self-righteous) aim to turn White civilization into a cloacal, ThirdWorld sewer for their own temporary benefit, thereby destroying the earth forever.  (See Ann Coulter’s ¡Adios America!, among other works, on this.)  With the ongoing demise of our civilization, we can even now forget about any further trips to the moon, let alone to Mars.  Only the scientifically illiterate (including leftist economists like Krugman) can honestly believe anything to the contrary.  Even more than in Hoyle’s day (before the Club of Rome published its Limits to Growth), the “show biz” circus of science and technology is used to distract us from the clear premonitions of our extinction.  The current incompetent POTUS is working only to keep the illusion of prosperity alive until he leaves in early 2017, so the Demonic Party (supported by its Repub stooges) succeeding him (¿it?) can deal with the sudden downslide.  Thereafter the American and global economies will be flushed down the cosmic commode.

    But due to a high-tech military, the elites will be safe in their gated communities.  For a while.

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