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Kunstlerfunk Nation 09

Jim Kunstler has posted his predictions for 2009. I haven't read beyond the first paragraph yet, but it starts like this:
There are two realities "out there" now competing for verification among those who think about national affairs and make things happen. The dominant one (let's call it the Status Quo) is that our problems of finance and economy will self-correct and allow the project of a "consumer" economy to resume in "growth" mode. This view includes the idea that technology will rescue us from our fossil fuel predicament -- through "innovation," through the discovery of new techno rescue remedy fuels, and via "drill, baby, drill" policy. This view assumes an orderly transition through the current "rough patch" into a vibrant re-energized era of "green" Happy Motoring and resumed Blue Light Special shopping.

You can read the rest on his blog: http://jameshowardkunstler.typepad.com/clusterfuck_nation/2008/12/forecast-for-2009.html

Comments

( 26 comments — Leave a comment )
kit_kaboodle
Dec. 29th, 2008 10:05 pm (UTC)
A very sobering post. I haven't read the Long Emergency, but I take it that Mr. Kunstler is a so-called "doomer."

I think I might be a peak oil "doomer" too, but I no longer try to engage in any discussion of this issue with 'civilians'. It is very akin to Plato's Cave where people keep watching the shadows dance on the walls. When any kind of mention of this issue is brought up, the usual mantra of, "Well, shee-it! They'll think of something!" is what I get. No more blue-in-the-face arguments for me. There will be no schadenfreude and "See-I-Told-You-So!" from me when things get difficult.

I think I just want to have fun in these Autumn years of Industrial civilization.
kmo
Dec. 30th, 2008 07:09 pm (UTC)
Feed Only the Hungry
...I take it that Mr. Kunstler is a so-called "doomer."

I think that many people consider him a doomer, but he describes himself as a pragmatist, an anti-avant-gardist, and a comedian.

I think I might be a peak oil "doomer" too, but I no longer try to engage in any discussion of this issue with 'civilians'. It is very akin to Plato's Cave where people keep watching the shadows dance on the walls.

Yeah, there's not much point in trying to force a worldview onto people for whom it is not (yet) a natural fit. Over time, circumstances will wear away the expectations that currently prevent most people from slipping out of the mainstream reality tunnel and into something more adaptive.

I also agree with Dmitry Orlov who has expressed the belief that a lot of people, when faced with a situation in which their circumstances are completely at odds with their conditioned expectations, will mentally break rather than adapt.
ankh_f_n_khonsu
Dec. 30th, 2008 05:13 am (UTC)
There are more than two realities "out there".

This is more speculation based on faulty assumptions, much like Bartlett appears guilty of.
bunnykitteh
Dec. 30th, 2008 06:29 am (UTC)
Plz to be sharing some realities that you like better...
ankh_f_n_khonsu
Dec. 30th, 2008 08:41 pm (UTC)
What type of examples would you like? Examples of alternative (and competing!) social frameworks? Economies? Political systems? Sources of energy? Transportation?

Each of these issues warrants nuanced consideration.
bunnykitteh
Dec. 31st, 2008 12:16 am (UTC)
Just, how are you seeing the economy and our future? What's your response to the doomsayers and the under-the-rug-sweepers?
ankh_f_n_khonsu
Dec. 31st, 2008 03:11 am (UTC)
I think things will get a lot worse before they'll get better.

Doomsayers have been pawning their bile throughout recorded history, so I see no reason to give them any special credence now. They've just adopted an eschatological myth that currently has some cultural capital. However, I see fundamentalist approaches to eschatology as essentially exoteric misunderstandings of esoteric concepts, and the same is basically true with Peak Oil Doomsayers - there's an exoteric misunderstanding of an esoteric concept. The exoteric, in this sense, could be the mechanical, closed-causation interpretation of the ecosphere. Causes and effects are seen as exclusive and competing. The esoteric, in this sense, could be the perception of the complex web of transphenomena that underlies the ecosphere (and beyond!). Causes and effects are seen as self-recursive and cooperative.

The arguments of the Doomsayers often have merit. Undoubtedly, there's a great deal of evolution in store for us, but few (none?) of the challenges are insurmountable. Distinguishing between hard (physical/technological) and soft (ideologic) problems, helps a great deal in this regard. We've got solutions to many of the hard problems plaguing humanity sitting on the shelf gathering dust, but the soft problems are far more intractable. In order to help perpetuate this cowardice among the enslaved, they've been victimized by a pan-generational campaign of intentional stupification. As John Gatto rightly suggests, compulsory schooling isn't broken - it's remarkably effective. In that context, Doomsayers are just oblivious dupes who couldn't recognize the esoteric if it were spelled out for them.

"Under-the-rug-sweepers", if I catch your overall intent, are in denial over the impending collapse of our competition-driven consumerist civilization? Or perhaps those who think there's no serious problems with this paradigm? In each case, challenging assumptions illuminates gaps and faith-based interpolations. If I get the impression that their prejudice is unavoidably concretized, I excuse myself and get back to work. Faith-based arguments aren't typically challenged through reason.
bunnykitteh
Dec. 31st, 2008 06:38 am (UTC)
Mmm thank you for taking the time to write all of that.

At this moment I'm most interested in hearing what you think are the most effective challenges to faith-based arguments.
ankh_f_n_khonsu
Jan. 1st, 2009 10:00 pm (UTC)
Faith-based arguments can't be externally challenged with any amount of reliability. In many instances, authentically challenging faith-based assumptions seems to require a personal process of dissociation with a failed paradigm. [We're talking "Dark Night of the Soul" type stuff.]

In the absence of such luxury, a progressive exploration of the basis and implications of faith-based assumptions (i.e. a 'maieutic process') can be somewhat effective sometimes. But in order to effectively implement the Socratic Method, it often helps to have some understanding of the topics at hand - in order to draw out the appropriate questions. Nevertheless, I feel it's much more difficult to effectively implement the Socratic Method today than it was in classical Greece. Modern ideologies are much more deeply concretized. Consumerist culture panders to the ego, but there's no comparative in the classical world, where entrances to many ancient markets were engraved with warnings of the dangers of avarice. Unfortunately, modern culture doesn't grant a comparative amount of cultural capital to wisdom. Thus, when the confused profane are confronted with wisdom, it has the appearance of lies and absurdity.

Does that, in a meandering sort of way, satisfy your question?
bunnykitteh
Jan. 1st, 2009 11:27 pm (UTC)
I think so. I was hoping that you had an answer I didn't, some untried way of approaching the issue :-(

As far as the socratic method... this also requires the person of faith to be willing to engage in and stick with a process of critical thinking and questioning that most (in my experience) are not. Which seems a little tautological, no? ;-)

But people are very clear, if only on an intuitive level, that thinking, questioning, and dialoguing might change them... and they often close up the moment a question gets anywhere close to that. And their fear is often palpable.
kmo
Dec. 30th, 2008 06:21 pm (UTC)
The Psychology of Previous Investment
Jim Kunstler wrote, "There are two realities "out there" now competing for verification among those who think about national affairs and make things happen.

Suppose I wrote, "There are two cats outside fighting over the food that I set out," and you responded with "There are more than two cats "outside"." How much importance would you expect me to ascribe to your comment?

The sentence to which you are responding is specifying two mindsets. It is not stating that only two mindsets exist.

You're obviously quite smart and well read, but you really squander your intellectual resources and credibility when you fail to check the urge to throw out the first shallow, knee-jerk idea that pops into your head. By letting fly with the first notion that occurs to you and presenting it as a pronouncement of fact you place yourself in the position of later having to admit that your statement was ill-considered (something I don't remember you ever doing) or marshaling your mental energy in defense of something that should really be discarded or amended.

I invite you to take notice of the responses you receive and to realize that they provide you with valuable feedback concerning the manner in which you sabotage yourself with your habitually condescending tone.

Of course, the key to giving advice is to remain indifferent to whether it is accepted or acted upon, so do with this what you will.

Edited at 2008-12-30 06:29 pm (UTC)
toucansanctuary
Dec. 30th, 2008 07:54 pm (UTC)
Re: The Psychology of Previous Investment
Well said, KMO.

TS
ankh_f_n_khonsu
Dec. 30th, 2008 08:32 pm (UTC)
Re: The Psychology of Previous Investment
Jim Kunstler wrote, "There are two realities "out there" now competing for verification among those who think about national affairs and make things happen.


There are more than two realities "out there" 'competing for verification among those who think about national affairs and make things happen.'

There's a whole spectrum of morality and ignorance governing social policy, and it's disingenuous to present things in such simplistic generalizations. It holds no value and creates a false dichotomy.



The sentence to which you are responding is specifying two mindsets. It is not stating that only two mindsets exist.


The author seems to state that 'only two mindsets exist' among 'those who think about national affairs and make things happen'. I disagree.



[You] sabotage yourself with your habitually condescending tone.


"To the pure, all things are pure; to the base, all things are base." - Kybalion

When people parade ignorant ideology and get confronted with dissonance, the psychology of previous investment really comes into play. I haven't invested myself in these ideas to the point of conducting interviews with advocates and publicly distributing them, for example. That isn't to trivialize your efforts - which I support - but to draw attention to the slippery slope facilitators face. It wouldn't attract many interviewees if the interviewer is incisively critical.



I invite you to take notice of the responses you receive[.]


I have. There doesn't seem to be much meat there. At best, there's not much creativity and a whole lot of uncritically challenged assumptions. This seems to characterize a great portion of "peak oil" and "eco-fascist" ideologies, so maybe it shouldn't be a surprise.
(Deleted comment)
kmo
Dec. 30th, 2008 06:50 pm (UTC)
This is hard stuff to wrap your mind around, and I can only imagine it's doubly (or triply) so for the Boomers (my parents' generation) and the ones before them.

I agree that this is going to be particularly hard on the Boomers. They were born into the triumphalist atmosphere of post-WWII America, and they spent most of their careers participating in an economy that was based on the production and exchange of legitimate and tangible goods and services. It wasn't until after they had their expectations and mindsets thoroughly set in place that the economy they knew was switched out for one based on the fantasy and fraud of baroque financial instruments used to pillage the wealth that the Boomers and their "Greatest Generation" parents built.

What's more, because of their numbers, marketeers have spent the better part of half a century bombarding Boomers with the notion that they are the center of the universe and that the world exists for no other purpose than to provide them the opportunity to define themselves with their purchases.

They've spent a lifetime accumulating the considerable wealth they now (seem to) control, and by their lights they deserve their over-sized slice of the pie because they played by rules and did what they were supposed to. Their incomprehension will turn to rage and/or inconsolable funk when their holdings are reduced to worthlessness.
warnwood
Dec. 31st, 2008 06:56 pm (UTC)
"What's more, because of their numbers, marketeers have spent the better part of half a century bombarding Boomers with the notion that they are the center of the universe and that the world exists for no other purpose than to provide them the opportunity to define themselves with their purchases."

Hmmm. As a member in good standing of this generation (59 years and counting), I don't recognize myself or anyone I know in this description, among whose ranks you seem to find a number of voices that you trust and respect enough to give them a venue for airing their views. Perhaps you are mistaking us for someone else you know? It makes me wonder what sort of stories the young are telling themselves these days.

I worry a good deal more about the expectations of those raised in the advertising hothouse of the last couple of decades than I do about the soured aspirations of consumerist Boomers, who, if they stop to think about it, can be reminded that they knew about all of this thirty years ago. They may not have done anything about it (clearly people like Albert Bates are an exception), but on hearing the news (again, should they choose to take it in) they're more likely to respond, "Oh. Of course. Now what?" And, of course, it may very well be too late.
(Deleted comment)
kmo
Jan. 2nd, 2009 05:01 pm (UTC)
Gen X
I'm Gen X too, though I do see a bit of myself in the stereotype. You might enjoy this book. I haven't read it, but I'd like to. You can also find fun interviews with the author on YouTube.
(Deleted comment)
kmo
Jan. 3rd, 2009 03:26 pm (UTC)
Re: Gen X
I doubt I'll ever get around to reading the book, but interviews with the author convey the main idea pretty well (I think) and in an entertaining manner:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MPdEgwOsvDk
warnwood
Jan. 2nd, 2009 09:14 pm (UTC)
wakingsleep13 said: "Now, what really irks me about the older generations is how quickly my concerns can be shoved aside as me not knowing any better because I haven't been alive long enough about the world. Sure, that may have applied when I was 16, but now I'm 33. Just how long do I have to live until I 'understand?'"

Yeah, I know. My eighty-nine-year-old father tells me the same thing.
kmo
Jan. 2nd, 2009 05:02 pm (UTC)
Recognizing the limitations of sweeping statements
Fair enough.
toucansanctuary
Dec. 30th, 2008 08:01 pm (UTC)
While we're on the subject of understanding the world around us...

Here are some links I've found interesting. They are regularly discussed at theoildrum.com
The automatic Earth - http://theautomaticearth.blogspot.com/2008/12/debt-rattle-december-30-2008-end-of.html
Denninger - http://market-ticker.denninger.net/archives/703-Uh-Oh.....-Monetary-Flat-Spin.html

TS
kmo
Dec. 31st, 2008 06:09 am (UTC)
Thank you for the link
This paragraph really puts it in a nutshell:
What I see around me, what governments are doing, is that one-trick pony kind of thing: trying to resurrect the dead with money that doesn't belong to them. Before we can begin a reorganization of our societies, the present political and financial ruling classes will have to fall. And that will only happen after an amount of suffering so overpowering it makes me shudder. Few of those with power, political, economic, will give that up voluntarily, And few of us will volunteer to do with less. Until we run headfirst into the wall, we will deny the existence of the wall.
toucansanctuary
Dec. 31st, 2008 06:39 am (UTC)
Re: Thank you for the link
KMO,

This is really quite a time we're in. Ellen Brown, on her blog, also is acknowleging that the Fed cannot save the financial system. It's all on it's way down. Orlov, Brown, Ilargi, Kuntsler...all people whom I trust...all seeing imminent collapse.

I see it too, and I'm glad that there are people like them, and you too, that have been there so I didn't think I was a fracking loon for thinking that everything is coming down.

Peace.

TS
toucansanctuary
Dec. 31st, 2008 02:38 am (UTC)
Detroit Area Real Estate Listings
http://www.realtor.com/search/searchresults.aspx?loc=Detroit,+MI&mxp=1000&typ=7

"...$1,000
3 Bed, 1 Bath, 1,259 Sq Ft on 9 Acres
Property Type: Single Family Home
Bank Owned. Property sold in as-is condition. Buyer to sign ACR with City of Detroit prior to closing. Earnest Money Deposit to be held by listing broker and be certified... more ..."

TS
chasbar
Jan. 8th, 2009 03:25 pm (UTC)
Kunstler
I guess that JHK's predictions are as entertaining as any others. I don't know how accurate his previous predictions were, although I do know that his prognostications about the Millenium disaster were awry. To refer to two realities was both limiting and inaccurate. There are many possible scenarios - we won't know if they were realities until they occur or not. JHK seems to fit into the Doomsters lobby but there is a Doomster Lite lobby which is ably expounded by Toby Hemenway on his website, books, and on KMO's recent podcast. I find Hemenway more persuasive but take your choice. I must admit that I find JHK very black and white. I tried to engage in debate with him recently by e-mail about his comments in his 2009 Prediction on the current Palestine/Israel situation. I pointed out that blockading Gaza for 18 months might have something to do with the Hamas response. He responded by telling me I didn't know what I was talking about and that the subject was closed. Mmmm. I think he has a tendency to brand people with different views as anti-semites or cry-babies, and he seems to suggest that all Islamists are extremists. The art of persuasion involves reasonable debate, listening, keeping your cool and not preaching to the converted.
kmo
Jan. 8th, 2009 04:17 pm (UTC)
Re: Kunstler
To refer to two realities was both limiting and inaccurate.

I don't take JHK to be claiming that only two worldviews exist. I take him to be specifying which two worldviews he's going to be comparing.

Duncan asked Jim about his Y2K predictions on a recent show:

http://kunstlercast.com/shows/KunstlerCast_44_Forecast_2009_Remembering_Y2K.html

In my first C-Realm interview with Jim Kunstler, he described himself as more of a comedian than as a futurist or geo-political analyst. That's not a bad thing to be, in my book. If I had some experience points to spend on improving the C-Realm Podcast's attributes, I'd beef up "Entertainment Value" before I put any more points into "Erudition" or "Credibility."

Edited at 2009-01-08 04:18 pm (UTC)
chasbar
Jan. 8th, 2009 04:52 pm (UTC)
Re: Kunstler
Oh I see. I didn't know he was a comedian. I figured that making fairly comprehensive predictions about the coming year was an attempt to be taken quite seriously as a futurist. I'll watch out for his future stand up shows.
( 26 comments — Leave a comment )

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