James Kunstler: Things Have Changed

Author of The Long Emergency James Howard Kunstler has written a blog post Things Have Changed on our immediate plight and what’s ahead.

At least in wartime, the bars stay open. That’s how you know this is a different thing altogether from whatever else you’ve seen in your lifetime. Even those of us who signed up for this trip — that is, who expected a long emergency — may be a little bit in cosmic awe at just how much s#@t is flying into the ol’ fan. I know I am. The gods must have glugged down a mighty draft of Dulcolax.

Did you get the feeling, as I did, watching the Sanders-Biden debate last night — the inadequate versus the irrelevant — that the world they were blathering about possibly doesn’t exist anymore? The world of institutions that actually function? Like, the ones that conjure up whatever sum of money you demand to keep all the wheels spinning? Remember that Hemingway line about the guy who went broke? Slowly, then all at once. That’s us. Medicare for all now? Really? More like, a year from now every physician in America may be the equivalent of the old country doc toting a black bag around to home visits. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough horses left in America, and the few buggies we’ve got are all in the museum.

The mega financial bubble-of-bubbles is deflating with frightful velocity precisely because of the efforts since 2008 to artificially inflate it. The Federal Reserve gave it one final blast Sunday night — while everybody else was counting their rolls of toilet paper — and the effect was like blowing hot air into a shredded Zeppelin. Stock futures are “limit down” as I write, before the Wall Street open. Gold is getting pounded into the ground like a grape stake and silver is so low it looks like the hedge fund managers are down to pawning grandma’s table service. (Hint, the PMs will bounce back hard; the rest, probably not so much.)

Nobody really knows how deep and how harsh this gets (and perhaps the ones who have a clue ain’t sayin’). But the situation presents two salient questions: how much disorder is entailed in this ordeal? And what does the world look like when the convulsion phase of this thing is over?

Americans have never been through anything remotely like this. The disorders of the Civil War were sharp and horrendous military operations conducted mostly in cornfields, pastures, and woods (yes, and some small cities like Richmond, pop. 38,000, and Atlanta, pop. 10,000). When the smoke cleared, battered Dixieland emerged to numb civil order. Up in Yankeedom, the New York draft riots ran for a week around the small patch of Manhattan island, but everybody else went along with Mr. Lincoln’s program. After all that, America got on quickly with the lively business of the 19th century: railroads, mines, factories, and all that. The world wars took place in foreign lands, and the home-front scene of the 1940s now looks nostalgically idyllic.

The stresses mounting on the national scene today reflect the extreme fragilities of the way-of-life we constructed since then, and an awful lot of bad choices we made in the process, like suburbanizing the nation and making everybody a hostage to happy motoring. I won’t belabor that point, except to ask how are those vast regions of the country going to manage daily life as the supply chains wobble? I’d say a shortage of toilet paper may only be the beginning of their problems.

The cities — at least, the few that didn’t already implode from the inside out — made assumptions about how big and tall they could grow which don’t jibe with the new circumstances chugging ferociously down the line. Just think what a lockdown of the global economy will do to all those residential skyscraper projects lately hoisted up in New York, San Francisco and Boston? I’ll tell you: They are assets instantly converted into liabilities. And how will these cities even begin to pay for maintaining their complex infrastructures and services when the money for all that no longer exists and there’s no way to pretend that it will ever come back? Answer: They won’t be able to keep borrowing and they won’t manage. These cities will depopulate and there will be battles over who gets to live in the parts that still may have some value, like riverfronts.

I guess just about everybody can now see the idiocy of concentrating the nation’s commercial life in super-gigantic organisms like Big Box stores. It seemed like a good idea at the time, like so many blunders in history, and now that time is over. Any ecology thrives on redundancy — a lot of players doing similar things at the appropriate scale — and America’s chain retail model for a commercial ecology was an obvious fiasco waiting happen. The people who run that, and other people who run other things in our society, must be wondering whether those supply-chains from China will come back. It’s no different than the cargo cults of the Solomon Islanders circa 1947, after the military airplanes stopped landing with all their magical goodies: time to go back to fishing from the dugout canoe.

The foolish, idiotic identity politics ginned up by the Left and their racially-inflamed, sexually-disturbed scribes in the Thinking Class, have successfully destroyed the last shred of an American common culture that held the country together through earlier vicissitudes. So, one concludes that we’ll be left stewing in poisonous tensions, and perhaps some violent conflicts, before those matters head toward some sort of resolution.

Where does this all lead? Eventually, to a land and a people who operate their society in a very different way at a much more modest scale. The task of reorganizing our national life is immense. (There will be plenty to do, so don’t worry about that.) You can forget about the grandiose techno-narcissistic visions of electrified motoring and a robotic nirvana of perpetual sex-crazed leisure. Everything we do has to be downscaled, from whatever manufacturing we can cobble back together to rebuilding commercial ecosystems at a finer grain from region to region — in other words, what we now call small business, geared locally.

Expect giant AgriBiz to founder on a shortage of capital, especially, and expect smaller farms to organize emergently, worked by more humans working together. That is, if we want to keep eating. Expect the small towns in the well-watered parts of the country to revive while the groaning metroplexes spiral down into entropic sclerosis. Consider the value of our vast inland waterway system and the opportunities to move goods on them, when the trucking industry unravels. Consider lending a hand at rebuilding the railroad system in this country.

There will be economic roles and social roles for all those willing to step up to some responsibility. Young people may see tremendous opportunity replacing the wounded economic dinosaurs wobbling across the landscape. It’ll be all about going local and regional and making yourself useful in exchange for a livelihood and the esteem of others around you — aka, your community. Government has been working tirelessly to make itself superfluous, if not completely ineffectual, impotent, and rather loathsome in the face of this crisis that has been slowly-but-visibly building for half a century. Something old and played-out is limping offstage, and something new is stepping on. Aren’t you glad you watched all those debates?


The Burning Platform: Collapse of Trust Imminent

In Spirits in the Material World the Burning Platform discusses the imminent loss of trust in our institutions as part of the fourth turning (ala Strauss & Howe), warning that strife is on the horizon which will force people to focus on the spiritual aspects of life and make choices for the future.

…Bloody revolutions don’t happen during Awakenings or Unravelings. But they do happen during Fourth Turning Crisis periods. There is no possibility of political solutions. The nation has split into competing camps, with no possibility of compromise or negotiated settlements. Our culture has been degraded. After decades of gorging on iGadgets, luxury automobiles, McMansions, and keeping up with the Joneses, the cynicism and desperation of the masses is palatable.

Greed, swindles, delusion and avarice have created an unpayable mountain of debt, severely risking the future of our country, and producing social disorder which will lead to bloodshed. There is a simmering rage just below the surface of a superficial civility, ready to explode at the slightest provocation. The 2016 ascension of Trump against the wishes of the Republican establishment and Sanders’ current ascension against the wishes of the Democrat establishment is proof the existing social order is rapidly losing control and will be swept away in a torrent of violence once the debt dam ruptures. The mood darkens by the day…

 

There must be another way. We are halfway through this Fourth Turning and answers are few. The questions are many. Humanity’s tendency toward self-destruction is a spectacle which reaches its zenith during Fourth Turnings. Decades of bad choices, living for today, accumulating insane levels of debt, and being deluded by the powers that be, has created a culture of alienation, greed, violence and materialism. The coronavirus pandemic, rapidly spreading across the globe, has the potential to dramatically shift the stranglehold of big business, big government, globalism, and Deep State surveillance over our lives.

Are the ghosts about to conquer the machine? Will the spiritual side of humanity arise once again and defeat the powers of evil who currently control the levers of society? A struggle against dark forces awaits the good people who choose the truth over the lies plied by the corrupt establishment.

The winner-take-all battle between good and evil approaches swiftly. Those with a spiritual basis for their actions will be pitted against those driven by greed, authority and oppression. This coronavirus pandemic, whether biologically weaponized by government authorities to further their agenda of control through fear, or organically formed through genetic mutations in filthy third world countries, appears to be the catalyst which will propel us into the ether of death and devastation, pervasive during the climax of Fourth Turnings. I’ve never been less sure about the future than I am today.

Is the planet about to experience a worldwide contagion that kills millions and brings global economic activity to a standstill, triggering a collapse in outrageously overvalued markets and implosion of the mountain of global debt? Or will the Deep State and their pliable servants utilize standard fear mongering techniques to further enslave a populace insufficiently capable of distinguishing reality from make believe.

The establishment will continue to lie and cheat because they are anchored in the material world and its ephemeral riches. They hate those who do not fall into line and can’t be corrupted by earthly riches. Either scenario will ultimately result in a showdown between good and evil. We all have choices to make. Will we ascend into the light of the spiritual or descend into the darkness of demons?

A complete collapse in trust is on the horizon. The excesses of materialism and greed have reached their zenith. Propaganda, money printing and Trump tweets cannot overcome a global pandemic. The ineptitude of government agencies and cluelessness of government bureaucrats has been on display in China and will be laid bare in the U.S. when the coronavirus continues its rampage across the globe. It will also reveal the propensity of government to act in a totalitarian manner when they are given free rein to control our lives. This virus will expose the fascist nature of our surveillance state and their incompetent response to a life or death crisis on our doorstep.

A crisis where life or death hangs in the balance will force people to focus on the spiritual aspects of life and make choices about what kind of world they want to leave for future generations. As this coronavirus brings our interconnected global just in time economy to a halt and millions once again see their 401ks evaporate, materialism will lose the admiration of the masses and people will begin to realize humanity can only survive and thrive if we adjust our priorities towards liberty, reason, responsibility, and doing what’s right today in order to leave a viable future for our children. The dark clouds of a monster storm on the horizon beckons. We will be forced to make difficult choices. Hopefully, enough people will make the right choices…

 

Click here to read the entire article at The Burning Platform.

Burning Platform: 2019 From a Fourth Turning Perspective

William Strauss and Neil Howe (both historians, among other things) wrote a book in 1997 called The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy — What the Cycles of History Tell Us About America’s Next Rendezvous with Destiny — which introduced what is now called Strauss-Howe Generational Theory. According to that theory, there is a four stage cycles of eras, called turnings, which repeat in cycles of approximately 80-100 years, the fourth of which is the Crisis turning, an era of destruction and revolution. The theory has its critics as well as proponents, so, as with everything, use your think-thingy. The following is an excerpt from a lengthy article on The Burning Platform titled 2019 From a Fourth Turning Perspective, which gives some overview of the theory and applies it to world and US events.

“An impasse over the federal budget reaches a stalemate. The president and Congress both refuse to back down, triggering a near-total government shutdown. The president declares emergency powers. Congress rescinds his authority. Dollar and bond prices plummet. The president threatens to stop Social Security checks. Congress refuses to raise the debt ceiling. Default looms. Wall Street panics.” – The Fourth Turning – Strauss & Howe

Image result for budget impasse trump schumer

Strauss and Howe wrote their book in 1996. They were not trying to be prophets of doom, but observers of history able to connect events through human life cycles of 80 or so years. Using critical thinking skills and identifying the most likely triggers for crisis: debt, civic decay, and global disorder, they were able to anticipate scenarios which could drive the next crisis, which they warned would arrive in the mid-2000 decade. The scenario described above is fairly close to the current situation, driven by the showdown between Trump and the Democrats regarding the border wall.

It has not reached the stage where all hell breaks loose, but if it extends until the end of January and food stamp money is not distributed to 40 million people (mostly in urban ghettos) all bets are off. The likelihood of this scenario is small, but there are numerous potential triggers which could still make 2019 go down in history as a year to remember.

As we enter the eleventh year of this Fourth Turning, the fourth Crisis period in U.S. history, the mood of U.S. citizens and citizens around the globe continues to darken. Fourth Turnings are driven by generational configuration and the emotional reaction to events by the Prophet generation leaders, Nomad generation spearheads, and Hero generation cannon fodder.

As we close out this year, stock markets are gyrating wildly, central bankers are trying to reverse their nine years of interventionist strategies to sustain the establishment, civil chaos spreads across the European continent, saber rattling between the U.S., Russia and China increases, the animosity between political parties reaches new heights, the Deep State relentlessly pursues their Mueller led coup against Trump, mega-social media corporations tighten their grip on free speech by silencing conservatives, leftists push their socialist, open borders, normalizing degeneracy agenda, and global recession gains momentum as trade declines and global debt reaches unserviceable levels…

Click here to read the entire article at The Burning Platform.

Patriotman on American Partisan has his own take on the article, The Fourth Turning & The Future, As I See It:

…I think that the article was very closely aligned with my fears. The biggest threats we face as a country are all intertwined (thus, don’t consider this a ranked list) and are: civil unrest due to a growing divide between ideologies, economic slowdowns due to massive debt and employment trends, and outside challenge of the unipolar world by China and Russia.

I don’t think that any of these are the causation for the others, but if I was forced to choose it would be the differing of ideologies that is driving the other two. The urban and rural divide has always been present obviously, but the obvious disconnect between the coastal elites in their ivory towers and those in the hinterlands seems unsolvable at the moment. The problem mostly lies with the former as the latter would like nothing more than for everyone to be left alone by everyone else. It is the liberal elites who insist on forcing their culture, norms, and ideology on those conservatives in rural America and continually try to remake the system in their permanent favor. They attack our religion, our culture, and our lifestyle because they do not approve of it…