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Respecting the Other

Respecting the Other

One of my old friends’ father was at one time something of a Cold Warrior: he did something or other for the US defense establishment—nuclear submarine-related, if I recall correctly. This work activity apparently led him to develop a particularly virulent form of Russophobia; not so much a phobia as a pronounced loathing of all things Russian. According to my friend, her father would compulsively talk about Russia in overly negative terms. He would also sneeze a lot (allergies, perhaps), and she said that it was often difficult for her to distinguish his sneezes from his use of the word “Russia” as an expletive. But perhaps she was trying to draw a distinction without a difference: her father was allergic to Russia, his allergy caused him to sneeze a lot and also to develop a touch of Tourette’s, thus his sneezes came out sounding like “Russia!”

What had caused him to develop such a jaundiced view of Russia? The reason is easy to guess: his work activity on behalf of the government forced him to focus closely on what his superiors labeled as “the Russian threat.” Unfolded a bit, it would no doubt turn out that what Russia threatened was Americans’ self-generated fiction of overwhelming military superiority. Unlike the United States, which had developed any number of plans to destroy the Soviet Union (of which nothing ever came due to said lack of overwhelming military superiority) the Soviet Union had never developed any such plans. And this was utterly infuriating to certain people in the US. Was this truly necessary, or was this an accident?

We could take into account geopolitical, military or economic considerations, consider the (no longer relevant) clash of socialist vs. capitalist ideologies or any number of other irrelevancies.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Nuclear Solution

The Nuclear Solution

When, in the middle of a card game, you realize that you are about to lose your farm, your shirt and your first-born son, you may decide to go for the “nuclear option”: kicking over the card table while reaching for your revolver. Outcomes will vary, but they are by and large preferable to the one you foresee: one of extreme humiliation and poverty. You might be slow in reaching for it and die a painful but quick death from multiple gunshot wounds. You might be the quickest and either kill or disarm your opponents. Or your opponents might run for the exits, leaving you to pick up the money off the floor. The first of these outcomes may seem less than appealing; but supposing your fancy yourself well-armed and quick on the draw, and your opponents to be cowards, you may be able to persuade yourself that this is your best bet. As for worst-case scenarios, one possibility is that your foes will shoot the revolver out of your hand before you get a chance to fire, put a bullet in your gut, take your money, laugh at you, lock you in a woodshed and leave you to die slowly.

This situation is not too dissimilar to the one in which the US currently finds itself. Frankly, I would prefer to write on other subjects, but what is happening right now on our one and only planet is that there is a certain rather large and still influential country that is in the process of rapidly losing its collective mind. Having studied and observed the US over the past 40-odd years, and now observing it from a safe distance of nearly 8000 km, at the moment I can think of no more important subject to discuss, although I hope to get back to subjects more pleasant, peaceful and closer to home sometime soon.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Real Nuclear Threat

The Real Nuclear Threat

On January 26, 2017 the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Science and Security Board has moved up its Doomsday Clock 30 seconds closer to metaphorical midnight, and it now stands at just 2.5 minutes to midnight. Why did the Board decide to make this change? Essentially, “because Donald Trump.” In other news, the Board also observed that although the Paris climate accord is a good thing, the climate is pretty close to midnight as well.

These are very serious people: well-educated, professional, some Nobel Prize winners—in a word, experts. We should trust their word. But then they trust Donald Trump’s word. What gives? Apparently, none of them are experts on Donald Trump. I don’t pretend to be one either, so for the paragraph that follows let me turn it over to my old friend and resident expert on all things Trump, Captain Obvious.

“If you look at Trump’s business dealings, he has been consistently cautious and risk-averse. If you look at his political maneuverings, and glance briefly at his book, The Art of the Deal, you discover that his negotiating technique always involves making an extreme first offer, then seeking compromise. And if you look at his Twitter feed, you discover that he loves to troll people. Have these respected Atomic Scientists been trolled? It would certainly appear that way…”

And so I remain entirely unimpressed by the untestable hypothesis espoused by the atomic experts that Trump’s mouth is capable of moving the minute hand of the doomsday clock. But I am even less impressed by something else: the complete and utter failure of these nuclear sages to understand what the actual nuclear threat is, which is, at this moment, becoming quite extreme. For this they may perhaps be forgiven; if all they do is read and listen to Western media sources, then they would never find out anything about it. Western intelligence sources are no better, seeing as they appear to have been “hacked by the Russians.”

In fact, it would appear that the only way to get an inkling of what’s really going on…

Shrinking the Technosphere—Video Trailer

Shrinking the Technosphere—Video Trailer

My next book has cleared galley proof stage and is scheduled for release in November. Please add your email to the list in the right-hand column to be notified as soon as it comes out. Meanwhile, here is the video trailer.

KunstlerCast with Dimitry Orlov

KunstlerCast with Dimitry Orlov

Kunstler: Hello and welcome to the KunstlerCast. Thanks for listening in. If you’d like to support this podcast, you can become a patron of the show by making a small monthly contribution through my Patreon page. To do that, you can either search for me on Patreon.com or use the link in the upper right hand corner of my website, kunstler.com. My guest today is Dmitry Orlov, an old friend of the podcast. He’s been here many times. He’s the author of Reinventing Collapse and many other books. He’s also become a publisher lately. One of the books that he’s published we shall be talking about today, 150-Strong: A Pathway to a Different Future by Rob O’Grady. I’m a long-time fan of Dmitry Orlov. He brings a clear eyed worldview and mordant sense of humor to the rather confusing and confounding events of our time. Listen up now. There will be a quiz as we discuss 150-Strong by Rob O’Grady. Tell the listeners, if you would, why I’m interviewing you about it and not Rob O’Grady.

Orlov: Well, Rob has sort of indicated that he’s perfectly comfortable with having me do interviews on his behalf and I’m happy to do it. I’m not only his publisher, I’m also his publicist. That’s suits both of us fine.

Kunstler: Is he shy?

Orlov: He’s not particularly shy. But he’s your typical engineer. He’s very soft spoken and talks in long paragraphs and that sort of thing. Maybe I’m a little bit more effective having done so many interviews over the years.

Kunstler: Well, it’s fine with me if we talk about this his book through you. I found it to be a bit of an intellectual puzzle box but let’s try to unwrap parts of the puzzle and see where it takes us.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Negative interest rates are coming to America

Negative interest rates are coming to America 

Well, that didn’t take long! Negative Interest Rate Policy appears to be a gift that keeps on giving.

Just a little while ago I wrote that, in essence, if the Federal Reserve wants to keep the financial party going a little bit longer, it will have to continue lowering interest rates to below zero, as this is the only way to keep broke debtors alive and prevent the gigantic debt bubble from imploding. And now we find out that the Federal Reserve has resolved any legal impediments (such as the Federal Reserve Act) that have kept it from doing just that.

To recap, negative interest rates are a way to pay debtors to hold onto their debt instead of defaulting on it or repudiating it, thus preventing the debt pyramid from pancaking and taking the entire financial system with it. But this effect is temporary, for at least two reasons.

First, negative interest rates are essentially a tax on savings, causing people to think of other ways to store their wealth: land, precious metals, boxes of brass knobs, what have you. In due course, money stops being regarded as wherewithal and starts being regarded as an unreliable way to conduct business.

Second, with a gigantic bubble in bonds now decades old and bond yields now going negative, it is a matter of time before the realization hits that negative-yield bonds are not any sort of safe haven. Their value is now strictly a matter of their market valuation, which can plummet the moment people decide to dump them, with no floor anywhere. After all, there are plenty of other ways to lose money, and negative-yield bonds are nothing special.
…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Bureaucratic Insanity: Free to be Slaves

Bureaucratic Insanity: Free to be Slaves

Schools in America today are less concerned about the overall welfare of students than they are with making sure that they obey all the rules, no matter how pointless, and produce good test scores. The emphasis on mindless obedience and rote learning prepares them for dehumanizing office work, where employers don’t even try to pretend that they care about the welfare of their workers. Instead, they shame them for taking vacation time and force them to work overtime for free. Employers and school administrators only care about what they can produce: children are treated no differently from widgets, and employees are treated no differently from robots.

It is only a slight exaggeration to say that the hierarchical power structure embodied in our rigidly regulated and controlled schools and jobs closely resembles the relationship between a master and a slave. But there is a difference: slaves are under no obligation to pretend that they are free and can be as sullen and apathetic as they wish. They know that they are property, they do the bare minimum to avoid punishment, and they cannot be shamed for such behavior any more than a lawn mower or a toaster oven. We, on the other hand, require both students and employees to cheerfully and meekly deny their slave-like status, and to perpetuate the fiction that they are not compelled to conform but are acting of their own free will. They are gradually driven insane by the chronic cognitive dissonance caused by the mismatch between their pretend-freedom and their all-too-real slavery. In the following excerpt from his new book, Bureaucratic Insanity: The American Bureaucrat’s Descent into Madness, Sean Kerrigan delves into the nature of this effect.

 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

150-Strong: A Pathway to a Different Future – Serialisation Part 3

150-Strong: A Pathway to a Different Future – Serialisation Part 3

“The more laws and commands there are,
the more thieves and robbers there will be.” Lao Tzu

150-STRONG

Information leaked in the Panama Papers about the use of tax havens certainly supports this statement! Under the cover of the law thieves and robbers have been maintaining their privilege and ultra-wealth by being tricky. Many of them are leaders – politicians, monarchs and business executives. “I have done nothing illegal,” they say as their souls disappear a little further into a fog. And from the germ of their example a cancer grows.

Rules work best when they are kept to a minimum.

This I have seen illustrated in the context of the business I am involved in. We are a construction company employing approximately 150 people, a mix from all walks of life – old friends, relatives of workers who needed a job, qualified recruits who fitted the mold, troubled youth recommended by the courts as worthy of a second chance, odd bods and colorful characters who fell into each others’ orbits. Some are very skilled and others developing.

We operate with very few rules. The main rule is that you must be accountable for your actions among your peers. Thanks to our systems of reporting, no information remains hidden for long, and no one is allowed to hide behind the manipulation of words, duplicity or attributing blame to others. There is little need for rules when regret and shame operate for those who fall short.

It is a system that requires that participants have a personal relationship with each other, where they know each other well enough to care and to understand, beyond a superficial level, what is going on. Moderation and maturity are required, because exposing the foibles of others can be exploited as an opportunity for persecution, blame and cavilling.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Always Attack the Wrong Country

Always Attack the Wrong Country

Chor Boogie

There are numerous tactics available to those who aim to make problems worse while pretending to solve them, but misdirection is always a favorite. The reason to want to make problems worse is that problems are profitable—for someone. And the reason to pretend to be solving them is that causing problems, then making them worse, makes those who profit from them look bad.

In the international arena, this type of misdirection tends to take on a farcical aspect. The ones profiting from the world’s problems are the members of the US foreign policy and military establishments, the defense contractors and the politicians around the world, and especially in the EU, who have been bought off by them. Their tactic of misdirection is conditioned by a certain quirk of the American public, which is that it doesn’t concern itself too much with the rest of the world. The average member of the American public has no idea where various countries are, can’t tell Sweden from Switzerland, thinks that Iran is full of Arabs and can’t distinguish any of the countries that end in -stan. And so a handy trick has evolved, which amounts to the following dictum: “Always attack the wrong country.”

Need some examples? After 9/11, which, according to the official story (which is probably nonsense) was carried out by “suicide bombers” (some of them, amusingly, still alive today) who were mostly from Saudi Arabia, the US chose to retaliate by attacking Saudi ArabiaAfghanistan and Iraq.

When Arab Spring erupted (because a heat wave in Russia drove up wheat prices) the obvious place to concentrate efforts, to avoid a seriously bad outcome for the region, was Egypt—the most populous Arab country and an anchor for the entire region. And so the US and NATO decided to attack EgyptLibya.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Color Counterrevolution Cometh

The Color Counterrevolution Cometh

Alex Podesta

Had Sun Tsu co-authored a treatise on the art of sports with Capt. Obvious, a quote from that seminal work would probably read as follows:

If your team keeps playing an offensive game and keeps losing, eventually it will end up playing a defensive game, and will lose that too.

Stands to reason, doesn’t it? The team I have in mind is the neocon-infested Washington régime, which is by now almost universally hated, both within the US and outside of its borders, and the offensive game is the game that has been played by the Color Revolution Syndicate, with George Soros writing the checks and calling the shots. Having lost ground around the world, it is now turning its attention to trying to hold on to its home turf, which is the US.

Behind the Washington régime stands a group of transnational oligarchs, including many of the richest people in the world, and the game they play is as follows:

1. Saddle countries around the world with unrepayable levels of debt, most of which is stolen as soon as it is disbursed, leaving a population perpetually saddled with onerous repayment terms. This used to be done by the US to countries around the world, and has most recently been done to the US itself.

2. This game often results in rebellion, and the well-bribed national leaders in the rebellious countries are expected to put down the rebellion using any means necessary. But if they fail to suppress the rebellion, or if they side with the rebels, then they need to be regime-changed and replaced with a more subservient leadership, and the Color Revolution Syndicate swings into action.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The wrong kind of victory

The wrong kind of victory

John Hayes

One often hears of the fact that the US spends more on its military than most other nations combined. This is usually presented as evidence that the US is more powerful militarily—perhaps so powerful that it could take on the rest of the planet, and prevail. I find this attitude highly questionable. If we look at what sort of “defense” the US actually spends money on, and what it gets in return in terms of military capabilities, an entirely different picture emerges: of a corruption-riddled blundering leviathan that is thwarting its own purpose at every turn.

To start with, assessing relative military strength based on relative levels of military spending is a lot like betting on a race horse based on how much the horse eats. Sure, horses have to eat, but a horse that eats ten times more than all the other horses is probably not going to come out ahead because there is something seriously wrong with it.

Then consider the fact that a dollar spent on the US military in the US is not directly comparable to a dollar’s worth of rubles or yuan spent on in Russia or China; in terms of purchasing parity, the ratios can be 5 to 1, or even 10 to 1. If Russia gets 10 times the bang for the buck, there goes the assumption of supposed US military superiority based on how much the US military eats.

Also, let’s not lose track of the fact that the US military has different objectives from the rest of the world’s militaries: its goal is primarily offensive rather than defensive. The US military strives to dominate and subjugate the entire planet; everyone else simply tries to defend their territory, while a few countries also try to thwart the US military in its ambition to dominate and subjugate the entire planet.
…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Harm/Benefit Analysis

Harm/Benefit Analysis

According to Kaczynski, we need to reject organization-dependent technologies that tie us into the technosphere, and cultivate organization-independent ones:

Small-scale technology is technology that can be used by small-scale communities without outside assistance. Organization-dependent technology is technology that depends on large-scale social organization. We are aware of no significant cases of regression in small-scale technology. But organization-dependent technology does regress when the social organization on which it depends breaks down.

Easier said than done! It implies eliminating just about everything that makes it possible for people to survive. It implies living without electricity—not even off-grid systems that use batteries, photovoltaic cells and small-scale wind generators. It means living without pumped water, because demand pumps, pipes and valves are all manufactured products. It means living without electronics of any kind, since the electronics industry is globally integrated. No internet; no vaccinations; no cosmetic dentistry; no eyeglasses; no antibiotics or painkillers… Nothing that’s mass-produced… It means living off the land using crude tools you can fashion yourself in a primitive smithy using salvaged metal. Very few people would ever settle for that!

Sorry, Ted, but we need a better metric on which to base our decisions than simply sorting technologies into organization-dependent and organization-independent, and depriving ourselves of all the organization-dependent ones. So how about we do this instead: define a reasonably complete list of positive and negative aspects of technology, and then select which technologies we do use in order to maximize the benefit while minimizing the harm?

Calculating the harm/benefit ratio

Unlike the primitivist, extremist approach outlined above, this is a perfectly copacetic, constructive initiative, but I believe that the end result will be exactly the same, although achieved more gradually. You see, the harm/benefit analysis maximizes technology’s benefit to us while minimizing technology’s harm to us—not the technosphere.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Whiplash Plateau

The Whiplash Plateau

My interview on the final weekly C-Realm Podcast. KMO is moving on, so am I (in various ways) and so we took some time to recap and draw some conclusions. It’s the end of an era. Please have a listen.

The Future is Blivets

The Future is Blivets

If you have been paying attention, you may have noticed that the global financial markets are currently in meltdown mode. Apparently, the world has hit diminishing returns on making stuff. There is simply too much of everything, be it oil wells, container ships, skyscrapers, cars or houses. Because of this, the world has also hit diminishing returns on borrowing money to build and sell more stuff, because the stuff we build doesn’t sell. And because it doesn’t sell, the price of stuff that’s already been made keeps going down, lowering its value as loan collateral and making the problem worse.

One solution that’s been proposed is to convert from a products economy to a services economy. For instance, instead of making widgets, everybody gives each other backrubs. This works great in theory. The backrub industry doesn’t generate an ever-expanding inventory of backrubs that then have to be unloaded. But there are some problems with this plan. The first problem is that too few people have enough money saved up to spend on backrubs, so they would have to get the backrubs on credit. Another problem is that, unlike a widget, a backrub is not a productive asset, and doesn’t help you pay off the money you had to borrow to pay for the backrub. Lastly, a backrub, once you have received it, isn’t worth very much. You can’t auction it off, and you can’t use it as collateral for a loan.

These are big problems, and one proposed solution is to create good, well-paying jobs that put money in people’s pockets—money that they can then spent on backrubs. This is best done by investing in productivity improvements: send people to school, invest in high tech and so on.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Financial collapse leads to war

Financial collapse leads to war

[This is a rerun from March of last year, whose time has finally come. With the new year, a sea change seems to have occurred in the financial markets: instead of “melting up,” the way they used to, they have started “melting down.” My original prediction is that this will lead to more armed conflict. Let’s see if I was right.]

Scanning the headlines in the western mainstream press, and then peering behind the one-way mirror to compare that to the actual goings-on, one can’t but get the impression that America’s propagandists, and all those who follow in their wake, are struggling with all their might to concoct rationales for military action of one sort or another, be it supplying weapons to the largely defunct Ukrainian military, or staging parades of US military hardware and troops in the almost completely Russian town of Narva, in Estonia, a few hundred meters away from the Russian border, or putting US “advisers” in harm’s way in parts of Iraq mostly controlled by Islamic militants.

The strenuous efforts to whip up Cold War-like hysteria in the face of an otherwise preoccupied and essentially passive Russia seems out of all proportion to the actual military threat Russia poses. (Yes, volunteers and ammo do filter into Ukraine across the Russian border, but that’s about it.) Further south, the efforts to topple the government of Syria by aiding and arming Islamist radicals seem to be backfiring nicely. But that’s the pattern, isn’t it? What US military involvement in recent memory hasn’t resulted in a fiasco? Maybe failure is not just an option, but more of a requirement?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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