Mi, Mi, Mi, Mi

Special K

In world of suck-up commentators, James Howard Kunstler makes sense.

Book Cover Reading the New York Times editorial pages—Nobel laureate Paul Krugman specifically—one might get the idea that the ruling class (the speculators and the hoaxers, and the mandarins who help them rig the financial system) were being called out for their malicious indifference to the destruction they have caused.

In fact (a well-known locution usually introducing an opinion), Krugman’s tepid critiques have the ring of an outsider aspiring to be an insider—sort of a puppy’s nose to the window glass feel.

One critic who is not inhibited by such ambitions and appears to be free to satisfy his personal needs—after all that’s what writers and critics do—is old pal James Howard Kunstler (The Long Emergency, A World Made By Hand). James’s web site, Clusterfuck Nation, is listed in the right-hand column on this page under External Resources, and it’s where I found his forecast for 2010 with this proviso:
Forecasting is a nasty job, usually thankless, often disappointing—but somebody’s got to do it. There are so many variables in motion, and so much of that motion is driven by randomness, and the best one can do in forecasting amounts to offering up some guesses for whatever they are worth.
There is much that is thought-provoking and sensible, and some that is already off the mark (Christmas retail sales were not “dismal”). But there are gems to be found and I found this assessment to be astute:
One wild card is how angry the American people might get. Unlike the 1930s, we are no longer a nation who call each other “Mister” and “Ma’am,” where even the down-and-out wear neckties and speak a discernible variant of regular English, where hoboes say “thank you,” and where, in short, there is something like a common culture of shared values. We’re a nation of thugs and louts with flames tattooed on our necks, who call each other “motherfucker” and are skilled only in playing video games based on mass murder. The masses of Roosevelt’s time were coming off decades of programmed, regimented work, where people showed up in well-run factories and schools and pretty much behaved themselves. In my view, that’s one of the reasons that the U.S. didn’t explode in political violence during the Great Depression of the 1930s—the discipline and fortitude of the citizenry. The sheer weight of demoralization now is so titanic that it is very hard to imagine the people of the USA pulling together for anything beyond the most superficial ceremonies—placing teddy bears on a crash site. And forget about discipline and fortitude in a nation of ADD victims and self-esteem seekers.
James makes sense here, doesn’t he?

Photograph of James Howard Kunstler by the author
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