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James Howard Kunstler: It’s All Going to Have to Get Smaller

James Howard Kunstler: It’s All Going to Have to Get Smaller

“I’m not a techno-narcissist. I don’t think there are technological rescue remedies that will allow us to keep doing what we’re doing…”

— James Howard Kunstler

There is a prevailing fallacy, despite warning signs to the contrary (looming peak oil, fragile markets, and climate weirdness, among others), that we can continue in perpetuity the lifestyle to which we’ve become accustomed. All we need to do is to pump into The System more debt or more political insanity, or hope that alternative energies or some new techno-solution will bail us out.

But, at best, all debt-fueled growth, shale oil “miracles” and green fuels can do by themselves is to make the Long Emergency just “a little bit longer.”

“The Long Emergency” is a phrase coined by James Howard Kunstler to describe the economic, political and social upheavals that will dominate the first decades of the 21st-century as the honeymoon of affordable energy comes to a close. It is also the name of Kunstler’s seminal book on the topic. (The Long Emergency is one of fifteen books on our “Essential Reading List for the Strong Towns Thinker.”)

James Howard Kunstler is our very special guest on today’s episode of the Strong Towns podcast. He is the author of more than 20 books, including The Geography of Nowhere, Too Much Magic, and the World Made By Hand novel series.

In this episode, Strong Towns president Charles Marohn talks with Kunstler about what has changed—or perhaps what hasn’t changed—since The Long Emergency was first published in 2005. Kunstler explains why the “psychology of previous investment” (4:45) makes it so hard for most people to imagine living differently. Marohn and Kunstler also discuss (17:00) what’s wrong with the Green Revolution narrative that we can keep doing everything we’re doing now, if just “do it green”:

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We’re in It Now for Sure

We’re in It Now for Sure

Now, we’re finding out the hard way how much daily life must change, and is changing, and how disorderly that process is in every way from the imperative daily life adjustments to our spiritual
When I wrote The Long Emergency nearly twenty years ago, I never thought that, once it got going, our government would work so hard to make it worse. My theory then was just that government would become increasingly bloated, ineffectual, impotent, and uncomprehending of the forces converging to undermine our advanced techno-industrial societies. What I didn’t imagine was that government would bring such ostentatious stupidity to all that.

Obviously, there was some recognition that ominous changes are coming down. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have heard so much chatter about alt energy, “sustainable growth,” “green” this-and-that. But the chatter was more symptomatic of wishful thinking for at least a couple of reasons: 1) mostly it ignored the laws of physics, despite the fact that so many people involved in enterprises such as wind and solar energy were science-and-tech mavens; and 2) there was a dumb assumption that the general shape and scale of daily life would remain as it had been — in other words, that we could still run suburbia, the giant cities, Disney World, WalMart, the US military, and the Interstate highway system just the way they were already set-up, only by other means than oil and gas.

Now, we’re finding out the hard way how much daily life must change, and is changing, and how disorderly that process is in every way from the imperative personal adjustments to our spiritual attitudes about them. As with so many things in history, this disorder expresses itself strangely, even prankishly, as if God were a practical joker. Who would’ve imagined that our politics would become so deranged?…

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Forecast 2022 — Dumpster Fire Blazing on the Frontier of a Dark Age


If 2021 was the year of maximum corruption, political decadence, and mind-fuckery in US history, 2022 is looking like a convulsive snap-back to the harrowing rigors of reality, spiked with shocking losses, reckonings, and not a little retribution for the rogues and reprobates who drove our country into a ditch. Quandaries abound now in the wreckage of economy, culture, and polity. The years of anything-goes-and-nothing-matters have ended — though you might not know it yet, at this very advent of Twenty-Double-Deuce. Welcome to the banquet of consequences. Soup’s on!

The American people have been played backwards and forwards, inside and out, through and through, and up and down; driven to the very edge of national suicide by a combine of enemies within and without. If China’s CCP wanted to take maximum advantage of a weakened, confused USA, they couldn’t have found more zealous help-mates than the seditious Democratic Party, along with Dr. Anthony Fauci’s treasonous public health empire, the murderous pharmaceutical companies, the recklessly dishonest news media, and a demonic host of federal agencies, especially the three-stooge “Intel Community” — the CIA (Moe), DOJ (Larry), FBI (Curley) — plus the many secret horror chambers in the Pentagon. Throw in the Big Tech tyrants, the Marxist mandarins on campus, and the satanic narcissists of Hollywood. Oh, and let’s not forget the evil principality of grift and swindling that is Wall Street.

We still don’t know exactly what role the CCP and its Peoples’ Liberation Army played in the origins of Covid-19, and we don’t know because the US government doesn’t want us to know — because they had a role in it — and the news media won’t lift a finger to find out, either, because they are the propaganda arm of the regime in power…

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The Perfect Storm Is Bearing Down

The Perfect Storm Is Bearing Down

Time, the saying goes, is nature’s way of making sure that everything doesn’t happen at once. So now, maybe, we’re at the event horizon where nature is suspended because everything seems to be happening at once.

The weeks ahead could determine whether we are a coherent society that can function on the basis of a firm consensual reality or just a collection of battling narratives designed to conceal anything that quacks like truth, all veering toward failure.

This is a very nervous country, and for a good reason. The collective sense of reality has commenced a momentous shift, the compass is spinning wildly, things are shaking loose in the national brain-pan, the gaslight has lost its sheen and the once-solid narrative is turning to vapor, starting with the unspooling riddles of COVID-19.

The COVID-19 engineered bioweapon is being used internationally to suppress formerly free citizens of formerly democratic republics. It becomes more obvious each day that everything connected to this extravaganza is other than it appears to be.

The numbers don’t add up, starting with the fact that when you combine the official registered COVID cases (people with acquired natural immunity) with the people who already had some kind of immunity from previous lifelong coronavirus encounters with the number of people vaccinated, you have a population supposedly way beyond herd immunity.

Who’s getting sick now? Mostly people who are all vaxxed up.

A Ticking Time Bomb?

Contrary to the behavior and statements of public health officials and politicians, the news is out that the spike proteins produced by the vax’s mRNA genetic reprogramming are toxic agents that create disorder in the major organs and blood vessels.

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Reset Yourself !


If Quentin Tarantino made a James Bond movie, the villain would be a maniac named Klaus Schwab, played with a light touch by Christoph Waltz, leading a SMERSH-like org bent on turning the world into a utopia of robots, and, of course, absolutely everything would go wrong, leading to a joyously comical bloodbath in the climax. Are we living in that movie, one wonders?

In real life — is there even such a thing anymore? — Klaus Schwab is the octogenarian head of the World Economic Forum (WEF), the NGO that hosts the annual cavalcade of global villains at Davos, Switzerland, held every January in perfect designer snow, with the raclette melting temptingly on the hearth, endless flutes of Bollinger R.D. Extra Brut making the rounds, and plenty of pretty young things on hand, only some of whom know a reverse repo from an Appenzeller Sennenhund. Must be fun as all git-out.

The Davos meeting is ostensibly called to improve the state of the world (ha!), and thereby inspires countless paranoid fever dreams in the minds of many who would prefer to be spared utopian social experiments, especially from plans drawn by billionaire bankers who view the present surfeit of mankind on this planet (some 7.6 billion) as cluttering up the joint — all these unnecessary hoi polloi filling the oceans with their yukky plastic, making navigation difficult for the Davos yachting crowd… or something like that.

Klaus Schwab has been shockingly literal about his wished-for utopia, summing up his vision as, “You will own nothing, and you will be happy about it.” Hmmm, no property… and then what? Logically, no corpus of contract law to regulate it?  Farewell pesky US constitution. (Let’s face it, it’s been falling apart lately, anyhow.) How’s that going to make folks happy? Can I at least keep my Waterpik and my flyrod?

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Do You Believe in Magic?


The people pretending to run the world’s financial affairs do. The more layers of abstract game-playing they add to the existing armatures of unreality they’ve already constructed, the more certain it becomes that they will blow up all the support systems of a sunsetting hyper-tech economy that now has no safe lane to continue running in.

Virtually all the big nations are doing this now in desperation because they don’t understand that the hyper-tech economy is hostage to the deteriorating economics of energy, basically fossil fuels, and oil especially. The macro mega-system can’t grow anymore. We’re now in the de-growth phase of a dynamic that pulsates through history, as everything in the universe pulsates. We attempted to compensate for de-growth with debt, borrowing from the future.

But debt only works in the youthful growth phases of economic pulsation, when the prospect of being paid back is statistically favorable. Now in the elder de-growth phase, the prospect of paying back debts, or even servicing the interest, is statistically dismal. The amount of racked-up debt worldwide has entered the realm of the laughable. So, the roughly twenty-year experiment in Central Bank credit magic, as a replacement for true capital formation, has come to its grievous end.

Hence, America under the pretend leadership of Joe Biden ventures into the final act of this melodrama, which will end badly and probably pretty quickly. They are about to call in the financial four horsemen of apocalypse: 1) Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), 2) a command economy, 3) Universal Basic Income (UBI, “helicopter” money for the people), and 4) the “Build Back Better” infrastructure scheme.

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money, monetary theory, modern monetary theory, debt, money printing, james howard kunstler, clusterfuck nation, magic, degrowth, growth

Civil War Two

America has a new manufactured crisis, ElectionGate, as if all the other troubles piling up like tropical depressions marching across the September seas were not enough.

America needs a constitutional crisis like a hole in the head, and that’s exactly what’s being engineered for the holiday season by the clever folks in the Democratic Party’s Lawfare auxiliary.

Here’s how it works: the complicit newspapers and cable news channels publish polls showing Joe Biden leading in several swing states, even if it’s not true. Facebook and Twitter amplify expectations of a Biden victory. This sets the stage for a furor when it turns out that he loses on election night.

On cue, Antifa commences to riot all around the country. Meanwhile, a mighty harvest of mail-in votes pours into election districts utterly unequipped to validate them.

Lawfare cadres agitate in the contested states’ legislatures to send rogue elector slates to the electoral college. The dispute ends up in congress, which awaits a seating of newly-elected representatives on January 4, hopefully for Lawfare, mostly Democrats. Whoops…!

Turns out, the Dems lost their majority there too. Fighting in the streets ramps up and overwhelms hamstrung police forces in Democratic-run cities. January 20 — Inauguration Day — rolls around, and the Dems ask the military to drag Trump out of the White House “with great dispatch!” as Mr. Biden himself put it so nicely back in the summer.

The U.S. military breaks into two factions. Voilà: Civil War Two.

You didn’t read that here first, of course. It’s been all over the web for weeks, since the Democratic Party-sponsored Transition Integrity Project (cough cough) ran their summer “war game,” intending to demonstrate that any Trump election victory would be evidence of treason and require correction by any means necessary, including sedition, which they’d already tried a few times in an organized way since 2016 (and botched).

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

Money Minus Value, No Limit

Money Minus Value, No Limit


You understand, there will be no meaningful resuscitation of the dear, departed, so-called greatest boom in history. Ponzi schemes don’t “bounce back,” they collapse for the simple reason that the pieces holding them up were not really there. Such are the unanticipated consequences of a media over-saturated culture that we were so easily deceived by appearances.

The emotions entrained by this implacable disaster have barely expressed themselves in the social arena. The public is still too shell-shocked by the prospect of losing everything – jobs, incomes, status, chattels, a future – to commence what the shrinks call “acting out.” Anyway, half the country is still acting out over the election of Mr. Trump three years ago.

But, for the moment, an interesting debate rages internationally as to whether the Covid-19 virus was some kind of engineered event designed to bring about various political outcomes. One thread declares that the Democratic Party, its media handmaidens, and a helpful Chinese leadership used the virus to blow up the US economy and finally, after several botched attempts, get rid of the vexing Mr. Trump. It’s a tidy story, but I don’t buy it, for the simple reason that the entire global economy has blown up, including China’s, so you can file that meme in the Wile E. Coyote folder.

A gloss on that one is the idea that NIAID director Anthony Fauci and other medical experts are wicked conspirators bent on destroying American morale by overstating the threat of Covid-19. This includes the phrase that the novel corona virus is “just another seasonal flu,” and so ordering people to stay away from work and business was unnecessary. Again, you’d have to ask yourself why medical experts and other plausibly intelligent people in so many other countries would do exactly the same thing. They can’t all be orcs.

Forced Liquidation

Forced Liquidation


Historians of the future, pan-roasting fresh-caught June bugs over their campfires, may wonder when, exactly, was the moment when the financial world broke with reality. Was it when Nixon slammed the “gold window” shut? When “maestro” Alan Greenspan first bamboozled a Senate finance committee? When Pets.com face-planted 268 days after its IPO? When Ben Bernanke declared the housing bubble “contained?”

If our reality is a world of human activity, then finance is now completely divorced from it for the obvious reason that, for now, there is no human activity. Everyone, except the doctors and nurses, and some government officials, is locked down. So, the only other thing actually still out there spinning its wheels is finance and, to those of us watching from solitary confinement, it is looking more and more like an IMAX-scale hallucination with Dolby sound.

How many mortals can even pretend to understand the transactions now taking place among treasury and banking officials? On their own terms – TALFs, Special Purpose Vehicles, Commercial Paper Funding Facilities, Repo Rescue Operations, “Helicopter Money” – stand as increasingly empty jargon phrases that signify increasingly futile efforts to paper over the essence of the situation: the world is bankrupt. It’s that simple.

The world is locked down and in hock up to its eyeballs. It faces what the bankers euphemistically call, ahem, a “work-out,” which is to say, a restructuring. The folks in charge are resisting that work-out with all their might, because it will change many of the conditions of everyday life (especially theirs), but it is coming anyway. When debt can’t be paid back, money vanishes. Money isn’t capital, but it represents capital when it is functioning. When it isn’t functioning, it stops being money. Now the whole world realizes that the debt can’t be paid back, will never be paid back… and that’s the jig that’s up.

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Freaky-Deaky

Freaky-Deaky


I never subscribed to the nostrums of Marxism, but old Karl sure had a point when he said, “All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.” Is that exactly where we’re at, or what?

The hologram of capital that was not really there dissolves before our eyes. That capital, you understand, was our notion of how wealthy we used to be, like, five minutes ago. And now the capital, the money, the mojo of modern life is going-going-gone. The hologram was projected by a fantastically hypercomplex hologram machine jerry-rigged with frauds, swindles, and false promises to pay tomorrow for that proverbial hamburger today. The people running it left the robots in charge and went off to frolic with the likes of Jeffrey Epstein, speaking of the profane. Then, the hologram machine broke and the iridescent image just plumb flickered out.

Now, under the shadow of the corona virus, everybody has been sent home to wait and see what happens next, hostages to the flat-screen, where the cable networks show little besides a non-stop real-time horror movie called The End of Your Future. It’s hard to keep morale up when you realize that all the usual conveyer belts of stuff you need to keep going are breaking down. It’s not hard to imagine fights, sure to come, over that dwindling stuff, which we will struggle heroically to allocate because we are really not all bad. Goodness abides, even in that America we managed to so deeply profane. Let’s hope there’s enough of it.

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Things Take a Turn

Things Take a Turn


Around the same time that most Americans set their clocks ahead this weekend, something more momentous shoved the world into an epic phase-change, and the modern era, with all its mighty baggage, was finally swept away, along with that single lost hour of darkness. We’re in a new world, and one night later, out on the freeway of history, the engine of the global economy threw a rod. The chauffeur is still standing alongside the stricken vehicle in the breakdown lane, scratching his head while sour-smelling smoke wafts up from the hood.

You’d think that truly earthshaking events like that might change the so-called narrative, but The New York Times was at it again this morning with this front-page op-ed purporting to explain all the sorrows of our times:

That’s how out-of-it the narrators are, even while a thuggish reality whapped them repeatedly upside the head with a two-by-four for weeks leading up to this. No, Dean Baquet (NYT ed-in-chief), transphobia does not explain the quandaries of our time, any more than sorcery or the wickedness of black cats explained the plagues of the 1300s that put a chapter of the human story to rest and started a new one. That elaborate machine of globalism just never figured on a situation when so many people in all corners of the world would have to hunker down in place to wait out one of Gaia’s super-weapons — though it is still not known if corona virus was actually created by Gaia’s wards, Homo sapiens, themselves, who are suddenly feeling the blowback.

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Impure Thoughts

Impure Thoughts


What if the Corona virus turns out to be a genuine pandemic with legs, not some punk-ass, flash-in-the-pan bug like SARS… and infects hundreds of millions around the world…? And what if it happens to go logarithmic in the USA, as in China now…? And what if takes a few months, or half a year, to do that…? And what if Americans will not get on airplanes when that happens…? Or gather together in large numbers…? Or if government imposes quarantines …? Will the parties hold their nominating conventions? Might the November election have to be postponed?

Just sayin’… since nobody else seems to be talking about it. A few months ago, nobody was thinking about a disease that would virtually lock-down China’s economy, either… and now here we are. Speaking of which, that lock-down of China’s economy is already generating serious damage to global GDP, after only a few weeks. But nothing shows our detachment from reality like the recent surge in financial market indexes while the Chinese economy was busy shutting down. In particular, one must wonder: What supports the global daisy-chain of debt obligations while all this is going on?

After all, companies doing business need a revenue stream to service their revolving debts. They have to make stuff, and move stuff, and get paid for it. What happens when there is no revenue stream? The workings of this hyper-complex financial system depend utterly on the velocity of these revenue streams. They can’t just… stop! Everybody who follows these things understands that China’s banking system is 1) a hot mess of confabulated public and private lending relationships, 2) completely opaque as regards the true workings of its operations, and 3) shot through with fraud, swindling, and Ponzis. Did China’s ruling party just put its banking system in an induced coma while Corona virus plays out? How can that possibly not affect the rest of global finance, which is plenty janky, too?

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Crisis-O-Rama

Crisis-O-Rama


All of a sudden, events are looking a bit fluxy out there, as though the world is shuddering through some spooky ch-ch-ch-changes, like a monster waiting to be born, with strange convergences of ecology, politics and economy, and there’s only so much you can do to prepare, really. Criticality is in the air!

The horses are out of the barn on the Wuhan Coronavirus. Air travel was curtailed too late in the game — and still only partially — with asymptomatic-but-infectious human carriers winging to every corner of the world and probably contaminating airports all along the way. There’s plenty of thought and counter-thought on what exactly is going on behind the scenes in China. The ruling party has knocked itself out demonstrating its earnestness in the crisis, performing great feats like the construction of a one-thousand-bed hospital in ten days, shutting down the lunar new year festivities (like cancelling Christmas here), and locking down a hundred million citizens in quarantine. Pretty impressive.

But there’s also a theory that the Coronavirus affords a cover for cascading failures in China’s corrupt and shifty banking system. The country had already stepped across some frontiers in demographics, energy consumption, and industrial growth that were shoving it toward contraction for the first time in two generations. Coronavirus has shut down a lot of production in big things like cars and big-little things like cell phones, and supply lines are shutting down to world markets. This amounts to the first big test of the integrated global economy, as well as the world’s debt-saturated business model.

When a lot of parties and counterparties can’t pay each other because their revenue flows are cut off, the securities, currencies, equities, and other abstract representations of wealth go south. The US and Europe are no better positioned for a crisis in their banking arrangements, and confidence is starting to crack.

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Some Other People Do Some Other Things

Some Other People Do Some Other Things


An almighty bafflement befogs the nation as the first full business week of 2020 commences and events pile up like smashed vehicles on a weather-blinded highway. Before we even smoked that Iranian bird on the Baghdad airport tarmac, something ominous was tingling away in the financial markets, in fact, has been since way back in September. Perhaps one-in-100,000 Americans has the dimmest clue as to what the repo mechanism stands for in banking circles, but it has been flashing red for months, with klaxons blaring for those who maybe missed the red flashes.

The repo market represents trillions of dollars in overnight lending in which bonds (or other “assets”) are used as collateral for ultra-short-term loans between large banks. Theoretically, this flow of supposedly secured lending acts as mere background lubricant for the engine of finance, like the motor oil circulating in your Ford F-150. You don’t notice it until it’s not there, and then all of a sudden you’re throwing rods and sucking valves, and the darn vehicle is a smoldering goner in the breakdown lane.

The strange action on the repo scene suggests that some big banks are in big trouble, and probably because the “innovative investments” they’ve engineered — as a substitute for the true purposes of capital, such as enabling production of real goods at a profit — are proving once again to be little more than swindles and frauds, like last time. Things like interest rate swaps and credit default “insurance.” Have your eyes glazed over yet? The bottom line is an impressive potential for losses to go critical, multiply daisy-chain style, cascade wildly, and then start wrecking real things — like the supply lines to your supermarket.

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The Deep State’s Deep State Department

The Deep State’s Deep State Department


For now, it comes down to this: the US State Department is at war with the White House.  State’s allies in the Democratic majority congress want to help overthrow the occupant of the White House because he’s interfering in the department’s foreign policy. The lifers at State are the same ones who executed a coup in 2014 against Ukraine’s government and threw out the elected president Victor Yanukovych because he tilted to join a Russian-backed regional customs union rather than NATO.  State’s diplomatic lifers are old hands at coups. Now they’re at it at home, right here in the USA.

Ever since the Maidan Revolution of 2014, they have worked sedulously to exert control over Ukrainian affairs. And they especially can’t stand that the recently elected president Zelensky declared that he wants to improve his country’s relationship with next-door-neighbor (and ex-sovereign) Russia. The occupant of the White House, Mr. Trump, had often expressed a similar interest to improve the USA’s relations with Russia. State would prefer to amp up a new cold war. Mr. Trump has some nerve interfering with that!

The lifers at State also have something to hide: their exertions to connive with Ukraine government officials they controlled to interfere in the 2016 US presidential election in favor of their former boss, Mrs. Clinton. The current impeachment spectacle is an attempt to pitch a smokescreen over that embarrassing mess, which includes the CIA’s and FBI’s efforts to blame Russia for their own illegal interventions in the 2016 election — the heart of the three-year impeachment narrative. The Joe-and-Hunter Biden affair is the left anterior descending artery in that heart.

The current testimony in the House Intel Committee raises another question. Whose back-channel diplomats are legitimate in US foreign policy: Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolf Giuliani, or State’s own boy, billionaire freelance international political adventurer George Soros?

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

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