Register

Peak Oil is You


Donate Bitcoins ;-) or Paypal :-)


Page added on November 28, 2011

Bookmark and Share

Kunstler: Your New American Dream

General Ideas

It’s really something to live in a country that doesn’t know what it is doing in a world that doesn’t know where it is going in a time when anything can happen. I hope you can get comfortable with uncertainty.

    If there’s one vibe emanating from this shadowy zeitgeist it’s a sense of the total exhaustion of culture, in particular the way the world does business. Everything looks tired, played out, and most of all false. Governments can’t really pay for what they do. Banks have no real money. Many households surely have no money. The human construct of money itself has become a shape-shifting phantom. Will it vanish into the vortex of unpaid debt until nobody has any? Or will there be plenty of worthless money that people can spend into futility? Either way they will be broke.
     The looming fear whose name political leaders dare not speak is global depression, but that is not what we’re in for. The term suggests a temporary sidetrack from the smooth operation of integrated advanced economies. We’re heading into something quite different, a permanent departure from the standard conception of economic progress, the one in which there is always sure to be more comfort and convenience for everybody, the economy of automatic goodies.
     A big part of the automatic economy was the idea of a “job.” In its journey to the present moment, the idea became crusted with barnacles of illusion, especially that a “job” was a sort of commodity “produced” by large corporate enterprises or governments and rationally distributed like any other commodity; that it came with a goodie bag filled with guaranteed pensions, medical care to remediate bad living habits, vacations to places of programmed entertainment, a warm, well-lighted dwelling, and a big steel machine to travel around in. Now we witness with helpless despair as these illusions dissolve.
     The situation at hand is not a “depression,” though it may resemble the experience of the 1930s in the early going. It’s the permanent re-set and reorganization of everyday life amidst a desperate scramble for resources. It will go on and on until there are far fewer people competing for things while the ones who endure construct new systems for daily living based on fewer resources used differently.
     In North America I believe this re-set will involve the re-establishment of an economy centered on agriculture, with a lot of other activities supporting it, all done on a fine-grained local and regional scale. It must be impossible for many of us to imagine such an outcome – hence the futility of our current politics, with its hollow promises, its laughable battles over sexual behavior, its pitiful religious boasting, its empty statistical blather, all in the service of wishing the disintegrating past back into existence.
     This desperation may be why our recently-acquired traditions seem especially automatic this holiday season. Of course the “consumers” line up outside the big box stores the day after the automatic Thanksgiving exercise in gluttony. That is what they’re supposed to do this time of year. That is what has been on the cable TV news shows in recent years: see the crowds cheerfully huddled in their sleeping bags outside the Wal Mart… see them trample each other in the moment the doors open!
     The biggest news story of a weekend stuporous from leftover turkey and ceremonial football was a $6.6 billion increase in “Black Friday” chain-store sales. All the attention to the numbers was a form of primitive augury to reassure superstitious economists – more than the catatonic public – that the automatic cargo cult would be operating normally at this crucial testing time. The larger objective is to get through the ordeal of Christmas.
     I don’t see how Europe gets through it financially. The jig is up there. Lovely as Europe has become since the debacles of the last century – all those adorable cities with their treasures of deliberately-created beauty – the system running it all is bankrupt. Europe is on financial death-watch and when the money stops flowing between its major organs, the banks, the whole region must either go dark or combust. Nobody really knows what will happen there, except they know that something will happen – and whatever it is portends disruption and loss for the worlds largest collective economy. The historical record is not reassuring.
      If Europe’s banks go down, many of America’s will, too, maybe all of them, maybe our whole money system. I’m not sure that we will see a normal election cycle here in 2012. A few bank runs, bank failures… gasoline shortages here and there… the failure of some food deliveries to supermarkets in some region… these are the kinds of things that can bring down a political system drained of once-ironclad legitimacy. All that is left now is the husk of ritual – witness the failure of the senate-house “super-committee.” The wash-out was so broadly anticipated that it was greeted with mere yawns of recognition. It would be like pointing at the sky and saying, “air there.”
     This holiday season spend a little time musing on what the re-set economy will be like in your part of the country. Think of what you do in it as a “role,” or a “vocation,” or a “trade,” or a “calling,” or a “way of life,” rather than a “job.” Imagine that life will surely go on, even civilized life, though it will be organized differently. Add to this the notion that you are part of a larger group, a society, and that societies evolve emergently according to the circumstances that their time and place presents. Let that imagining be your new American Dream.

Kunstler



7 Comments on "Kunstler: Your New American Dream"

  1. dsula on Mon, 28th Nov 2011 10:11 pm 

    Kunster, predicting imminent doom, for quite some time now.

  2. EJ Freed on Mon, 28th Nov 2011 11:15 pm 

    Yes. All this is so.

  3. Bloomer on Tue, 29th Nov 2011 12:59 am 

    Our unsustainable way of life is becoming more and more apparent. We are in a slow moving car wreck and many still live in denial. Fasten your seatbelts it is going to be quite the ride.

  4. BillT on Tue, 29th Nov 2011 3:48 am 

    I’ve been reading Kuntzler for years and he has been right on for most things. Americans have no idea what is coming to their lives in the near future. “Change” should be in heavy, bold, huge, flashing print.

  5. Kenz300 on Tue, 29th Nov 2011 6:27 am 

    What are individuals, business and politicians doing to prepare for an economy without cheap oil? The oil and coal industries have us backed into a corner.

  6. Mark on Tue, 29th Nov 2011 8:59 pm 

    So you are saying we are more like the situation the Roman Empire was in the year 400 than the United States in 1932? You guys are such downers.

  7. BillT on Wed, 30th Nov 2011 1:52 am 

    Mark, we are exactly where the Roman Empire was when it collapsed. An over extended military and debt up the kazoo. Not to mention an economy built on and needing eternal growth to survive. Those days are over. Mother Nature is pulling the plug. We will soon have to work for our living again and not have cheap energy do it for us.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *