Real State Of The Union Is Bleak
By James Kunstler
February 13, 2013 "Information
- The fog of chatter about Federal Reserve
money-printing shenanigans, currency wars, fiscal
intransigence, exchange rates, and alphabetized rescue
operations conceals the central reality of the historical
moment: that all industrial economies now face epic
contraction, even rip-roaring China in its absurd and
spectacular bid to become the latest drive-in utopia.
The so-called advanced nations of the world are all sliding
toward something less than they wish to be, and the
so-called developing nations will backslide further into
poverty and anarchy where development will never happen. The
implacable contraction underway is the simple result of
growing scarcity of cheap oil, the master resource.
Thus, in a world where fantasy has replaced analysis, the
propaganda channels brim with false news of America's coming
"energy independence" and the rebirth of domestic
manufacturing, the coming electric car fleet, and space
There is also chatter among the paranoid that an imagined
elite has deliberately engineered American collapse for fun
and profit, with sideshows about the Department of Homeland
Security promoting social upheaval in order to make a show
of putting it down. This is all b.s. concealing the futile
machinations of people so unfortunate as to hold political
office in an unraveling they can't control. Where control is
no longer possible, paranoid fantasies fill the vacuum of
wishing for control.
One thing you can be sure of: the current sociopolitical
weather will change. A front will blow through and sweep the
fog away. So many circles of hazard are spinning around
events that some fast-turning object will come off its axis
and start smashing all the fantasies.
When that happens, it will be every community for itself,
and where there are no real communities -- for instance, the
vast matrix of suburban noplaces that America emergently
composed itself out of in a tragic quest to become its own
televised fantasy -- we'll discover the dark side of the
"liberty" that so-called conservatives endlessly invoke, in
all its screaming eagle iconography.
Not since the Civil War (1861 - 65) has anything bad of this
scale happened within the United States itself and the
public is unprepared despite our total immersion in the
on-screen ersatz heroics of avatars such as Dwayne Johnson.
The terrible convulsion of the 1860s was preceded by a
political time much like ours is now, with figures (calling
them leaders is inaccurate) of no conviction backpedaling
furiously toward strife.
Remember these things if you tune in to watch President
Obama move his lips on Tuesday amid the incessant applause
in the House chamber. He'll speak the words "climate change"
and the hall will rock with thunderous handclapping -- but
it won't mean anything because both the president and the
people have no intention of changing the way we live. Mr.
Obama will cheerlead for economic growth and he will be
talking out of his ass. It's the nature of this contraction
that economic growth is absent.
You can have plenty of economic activity -- especially if
you re-form (literally) the systems we depend on, such as
farming, commerce, medicine, and transportation -- but it
won't be expressed favorably in the GDP stats or the balance
sheets of CitiGroup and Morgan Stanley. At the core of this
contraction is the disappearing act of real capital -- that
is, accumulated wealth -- for the excellent reason that we
are squandering what remains of it in the futile effort to
keep living the way we do.
But it will be vanishing fast, contrary to the view of such
fantasists as David Leonhardt, Washington bureau chief of
The New York Times -- catch him on the current Slate
Political Gabfest -- who thinks that the Growth Fairy is
about to land on the south lawn of the White House.
The State of the Union Address is happening in a peculiar
quiet moment when all the financial brushfires of the time
have been reduced temporarily to a smolder that conceals the
full involvement of the roots under the surface. Our
economic system is burning down. Nobody wants to talk about
the system that will have to replace it, which I call a
world made by hand.
The fortunate few will be those who have already established
themselves in an authentic community of helping hands, who
have some tools -- and I don't mean Adobe Photoshop or the
latest iPhone app -- and laid in some bits of silver and
James Kunstler is the editor of
Scroll down to add / read comments