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Kunstler: Christmas Story

General Ideas

These are the long, dark hours when cis-hetero white patriarchs sit by the hearth chewing over their regrets for the fading year and expectations for the year waiting to be born. I confess, I like Christmas a lot, Hebrew that I am, perhaps the musical and sensual trappings more than the virgin birth business. Something in my mixed Teutonic blood stirs to the paganism of blazing Yule logs, fragrant fir trees, rousing carols, and snow on snow on snow. I hope we can keep these hearty ceremonies… that they are not banished to the same puritanical limbo where the Prairie Home Companion archives were sent to rot.

One surviving old chestnut of the season is the 1946 movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, a movie so thick with gooey holiday sentiment, it’s like bathing in egg nog. It’s larded with messages of good-will-to-all-mankind, of course, but some of the less obvious themes — almost certainly unintended — tell the more interesting story about where America has come from in recent history and where it went. One thing for sure: every year that goes by, the America of It’s a Wonderful Life seems utterly unlike the sordid circus we live in now.

The movie takes place in a town, called Bedford Falls, like many in my corner of the country, upstate New York, or at least the way they used to be: alive, bustling with activity, with several layers of working, middle, and commercial classes employed at real productive work making things, and a thin candy shell of “the rich,” portrayed as unambiguously greedy and wicked — but overwhelmed in numbers by all the other good-hearted townspeople.

The movie depicts an American social structure that no longer exists. It’s both democratic and firmly hierarchical — owing probably to the lingering influence of army life in the recently concluded Second World War. Jimmy Stewart plays George Bailey, the head of an old-style family-owned Savings and Loan bank, a very modest institution dedicate to lending money for new homes. His competitor in town is the wicked old rich banker Henry Potter (Lionel Barrymore), a swindler and thief, who wants to put George out of business.

Bedford Falls is a man’s world. The women in the movie are portrayed as taking care of the “home front” and supporting the male “troops” in the toils of small town commerce — another social holdover from the war years. This depiction of life would surely give a case of the vapors to any post-structuralist college professors who dare to watch the movie.

Now here’s one catch in the story: the main business of George Bailey’s bank is lending money to build the first post-war suburban housing development outside of town, a project called Bailey Park. One of the pivotal scenes concerns the Martini family, immigrants, moving into their new suburban home with great sentimental fanfare. So, what we’re witnessing in that incident is the beginning of the destructive force that will soon blight small town life (and big city life, too) all over the country. Moviegoers in 1946 probably had little intuition of the consequences.

Another catch in the story involves the plot twist in which George Bailey misplaces a large sum of money ($8,000, actually purloined by the wicked villain, Mr. Potter). With his bank facing ruin, George contemplates suicide. He’s saved by his guardian angel, who goes on to show George what Bedford Falls would be like if he had never been born. It would be called Pottersville. Its Main Street would be bustling with gin mills, the sidewalks full of suspiciously available young ladies, the whole scene a sordid nest of vice and wickedness.

The catch is that Pottersville would have been a much better outcome for American small towns like Bedford Falls than what actually happened. Today, the lovely landscape of upstate New York today is dotted with small towns and even small cities that have absolutely nothing going on in them anymore, and stand in such awful desolation that you’d think a long war was fought here. Much of that is due to the activities of good-hearted suburban developers like George Bailey.

The Americans of 1946 must have had no idea where all this was headed, nor of the coming de-industrialization of the country that had won World War Two, or the massive social changes in the divisions of labor, or the annihilation of several layers of the working and middle classes, or the much greater wickedness of the generations of bankers who followed Henry Potter. It’s a Wonderful Life presents an American scene poised to arc toward tragedy. It’s an excellent lesson in the ironies of history and especially the dangers of getting what you wished for.

Readers may agree: we’ve never seen our country in such a state of ugly division moral confusion, and intellectual disarray. A coherent consensus eludes us. Grievance, resentment, and bitterness boil and sputter everywhere. My Christmas wish is that we might put behind us some of the more idiotic and pointless debates of the past year and get on with tasks that really matter… that will allow us to remain civilized through the hardships to come. That’s how I roll this dark morning, here at the glowing hearth, while the Christmas day ahead, at least, offers some comforting stillness as the snow on snow on snow piles high. And so… to the presents waiting ominously under the twinkling tree.


64 Comments on "Kunstler: Christmas Story"

  1. Cloggie on Tue, 26th Dec 2017 6:39 pm

    White Santa returns to Zimbabwe, receives heroic welcome by Africans.,8599,1713275,00.html

  2. Makati1 on Tue, 26th Dec 2017 6:43 pm 

    “mad kat, it sucks being neutered doesn’t it.”

    If it ever happens Davy, I’ll let you know. So far you are laughable. I take nothing you say as serious. You are a frustrated, delusional, buffoon.

    “buffoon: a ludicrous figure : clown; a gross and usually ill-educated or stupid person” M-W

  3. Davy on Tue, 26th Dec 2017 6:48 pm 

    obviously you are being neutered mad kat because you are preoccupied trying to explain how not neutered you are LMFAO

  4. Makati1 on Tue, 26th Dec 2017 7:01 pm 

    You really are deluded, Davy. Beyond saving.

  5. fmr-paultard on Tue, 26th Dec 2017 10:18 pm 

    ((eurotard)) you didn’t watch the video. it was some warlord who expelled the farmers. YOu confuse cause adn effect. effect does not equal causation. Muhadmad expelled the jews after he failed to preach his earlier harmless religion to them is not their fault.

  6. Cloggie on Wed, 27th Dec 2017 5:59 am 

    Even his enemies at der Spiegel have to admit that Putin has become a mythical figure and is much larger than merely president of Russia:

    To add insult to injury… I think Putin has the stature to reintroduce the Czar institution back to Russia… and that he will be able to bring about his desired pan-European confederation…

    …as Russia’s first Czar after the demise of communism and celebrate the European victory over the ones who can’t be named, leaving America to be liberated as well.

  7. Davy on Wed, 27th Dec 2017 6:22 am 

    another dork speaks.

    Putin is one man what happens when he dies or is pushed out? Remember Chavez and that mythical figure. When people become mythical that is when a country starts to be gutted.

  8. Cloggie on Thu, 28th Dec 2017 5:14 am 

    Global warming latest: extreme cold in North-America:

    Minnesota -37 Celsius.
    “Breathing hurts”.
    Erie: 245 cm snow.

  9. Cloggie on Thu, 28th Dec 2017 5:31 am 

    Paris-Berlin-Moscow peek through:

    It is an older video (2016) from one of Uncle Vlad’s famous question hours. Here former German defense secretary Willy Wimmer asking a question to Putin in German. Putin takes on the role of interpreter for his Russian audience in Petersburg and answers in German.

    Likely a set-up, because Wimmer is one of Germany’s most fervent pro-Russia proponents. But Putin plays along, eager to show his German-skills and his willingness to see European-Russian relations survive the Merkel era.

    Merkel btw has currently great trouble forming a government as everybody is reluctant to join her on a journey on her Titanic. The coming downfall of Merkel will mean the end of the American era in Europe. Merkel, the last water carrier of the US deep state and George Soros.

  10. Davy on Thu, 28th Dec 2017 5:35 am 

    What happens to the PBM when your patron saint Putin is gone. You don’t really think he will be around forever. You should focus on the here and now and go lite on the fantasy

  11. Davy on Thu, 28th Dec 2017 5:39 am 

    “Global warming latest: extreme cold in North-America:”

    Very much part of what is turning out to be global instability because of the forcing of the climate system with carbon. The biggest indication is the changes to the cryosphere and ocean warming. We now have volatile changes in temperatures and precipitation conditions with drought and floods. These are now long meandering patterns that set up and stay in place much longer than before. You are pissing in the wind Tulip.

  12. Cloggie on Thu, 28th Dec 2017 6:04 am 

    You are pissing in the wind Tulip.

    With temperatures you have, that won’t wet my pants.

  13. Davy on Thu, 28th Dec 2017 6:20 am 

    I am doing fine here. I like cold temps. It is good for the environment. I have plenty of wood and excelent wood stoves. Animals have shelters and all the waterers are heated. I have plenty of hay put up. Having 4 seasons is wonderful.

  14. Cloggie on Fri, 29th Dec 2017 5:08 am 

    Merkel-Trump, a difficult relationship.

    NYT unsurprisingly comes to the aid of Merkel, the NYT’s last hope for their pet NWO project, namely the entire world in one giant empire, owned by the [cough] owner’s of the NYT:

    Merkel is said to have treated Trump with dedain during their first telephone calls. The NYT salivates about the total lack of knowledge of the Trumpster about almost everything (and the NYT is probably right).

    Trump wanted a special trade “deal” with Germany, but Merkel, to her credit, remained loyal to the EU and said these kind of special deals were impossible and should proceed via Brussels to replace the failed TTIP.

    The relationship Trump-Macron is much easier, but her also there are tensions as Macron tried to persuade Trump to join the Paris Accords, which the American Mussolini refused.

    The relationship Trump-May is bad. May had criticized Trump for re-tweeting British “rightwing extremists”, to which Trump had responded that she should mind her own business and Islamic terrorists in particular and that the US were fine. Good for him.

    In the US the anti-Trump investigation regarding alleged cooperation between Team-Trump and Russian government before the election is going nowhere.

    Trump is steadier in the saddle than ever before, much to the chagrin of the NYT. His low ratings are irrelevant. You want to have low ratings mid-term and high ratings shortly before the elections. I bet on a 2nd term for Trump, leading to further erosion of the Deep State/Swamp, which includes the NYT. Good riddance to them.

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