Straight Talk

Straight Talk with James Howard Kunstler: "The World is Going to Get Rounder and Bigger Again"

Wednesday, November 17, 2010, 10:29 AM

"Straight Talk" features thinking from notable minds who the PeakProsperity.com audience has indicated that it wants to learn more about. Readers submit the questions they want addressed and our guests take their best crack at answering. The comments and opinions expressed by our guests are their own.

This week's Straight Talk contributor is James Howard Kunstler, author and social critic. His better-known works include The Long Emergency, in which he argues that declining oil production will result in the decline of modern industrialized society and compel Americans to return to smaller-scale, localized, semi-agrarian communities; World Made By Hand, and its sequel, The Witch of Hebron, all published by The Atlantic Monthly Press. He writes a weekly blog is also a leading proponent of the movement known as "New Urbanism." 


1. When will the average US citizen wake up to the perils of Peak Oil?

JHK:  When a crisis comparable to the 1973 OPEC embargo -- with lines at the filling stations and hefty price-hikes --  whaps them upside the head. For now, what I call the psychology of previous investment is a massive impediment to the public's ability to think clearly. By this I mean mainly our sunk costs in suburbia, including all its furnishings and accessories. That's where we put so much of our "wealth" over the past sixty years. I regard these as tragic mis-investments, of course, because the wealth has gone into a living arrangement that has no future. The housing bubble crash is greatly aggravating the problem, because it is de-valuing the whole kit-and-kaboodle. But the net effect for now is only to generate more anxiety among the public, which leads to more confusion, more cognitive dissonance, more static in the collective imagination, and more political noise -- in short, more obstacles to clear thinking. 

2. There seems to be no political will to tackle the reality of Peak Oil. What might tip that balance (before we hit the proverbial wall)?

JHK:  Leadership in America has been abysmal on these issues -- and not just in politics, but in business, media, education, the enviro community, even the clergy. For the politicians, I have to suppose that the implications of Peak Oil are just too painful to face. They simply do not compute into any winning formula. They won't go near it.

I'm quite convinced that Dick Cheney and George Bush were informed about the oil situation, in particular its relation to the national defense. After all, Robert Hirsch arrived on the scene loudly in 2005 with his report, commissioned by the US Department of Energy, which was quickly suppressed because its conclusions were so stark. Bush made occasional remarks about our "dependence on foreign oil," but he didn't have the guts to spell it out further, and he was a tool of Big Oil, after all, which has run a PR campaign for ten years denying the Peak Oil story. Anyway, he didn't want to interrupt the fabulous credit-driven boom of the years leading to his final months in office, when things really did go south.

Obama is another story, of course. He couldn't be so poorly informed as to not know about Peak Oil in most of its contours and implications, especially vis-a-vis the military, which has issued more than one report while he's been in office. So I conclude that he is a kind of charming bounder. I'm not necessarily sorry I voted for him, because I think McCain would have been worse, entwined as he is with the lunatic right-wing and its toxic aura of paranoid unreality. 

It's unclear whether the media is too dumb to get the complexities of our oil predicament, or if they are just bought-off lackeys of the various corporate interests. Probably a combo on that. It is rather hard to understand, for instance, the vapidity of The New York Times -- in particular its op-ed pundits, Krugman, Friedman, Brooks. The Times's straight reporting on the oil scene has been scant and fatuous. The Wall Street Journal, ditto. TV news operates in its own special sewage canal of idiocy, so one might not expect much from there.

Since business in America has resolved more and more into a set of rackets, one can't expect plain-dealing from that sector these days.

I've seen the failure of the environmental community up close. Two years in a row at the Aspen Environmental Forum, I listened to the cream of the Green movement rhapsodize over all the cool new "green" ways you can run cars other than on gasoline. You see, their base assumption -- like everyone else in this society -- is that driving cars incessantly is a God-given entitlement. They were in a techno-rapture over electric cars, bio-diesel, and so on. They didn't once mention walkable communities or public transit. They're just not into it. I consider their position utterly disgraceful. 

The clergy is an interesting case. Notice especially how the Sunbelt born-again crowd are perhaps the staunchest defenders of suburbia -- and everything that goes with it, including car dependency and and huge volumes of oil imports from unreliable foreign nations. They conflate suburbia with the constitution and Jesus.  And, really, their belief system is so incoherent and ridiculous that it must really frighten the educated folk of other nations who see how we carry on. 

3. If you were President and had free reign, what would be your energy plan?

JHK:  

  • I would commence a public debate on whether we go forward with a nuclear power program, to weigh the hazards involved -- but, frankly, there may be no other ways to keep the lights on in a decade or so. It may turn out that we are too short of capital to carry out such a program, or our society may be too disorderly in the years ahead to run it, or we may decide the hazards are not worth it, but the discussion must start now.
  • I would direct major capital resources to repairing the conventional passenger railroads in the US, because commercial aviation as we know it will not continue another ten years, and ditto Happy Motoring, and this is a big continent-sized nation. If we don't get regular rail running, we may not be able to go anywhere. We should just put aside our fantasies about high-speed rail or mag-lev. We're too broke for that, and we need to temper our techno-grandiosity. But, believe me, Americans will be deliriously happy ten years from now if they can go from Des Moines to Chicago at 80 mph on time. During the Obama years, we've stupidly poured our dwindling capital resources into building more highways. This foolishness has got to stop. I would promote public transit at the smaller municipal scale as well, to go with regular rail.
  • I'd begin the task of rehabilitating our inland waterways so we can move more goods around the nation by boat -- and in particular the port facilities that have been mostly removed in places like St. Louis and Cincinnati and around the Great Lakes.
  • I would put an emphasis on walkable communities. I would prepare the nation for the possibility of gasoline rationing, since events could shove us into criticality at any time.
  • I would begin closing down scores of unnecessary overseas military bases, and I would terminate the nation-building project in Afghanistan since there is no possibility that we can control the terrain or the population there for anything more than the shortest run.
  • I would direct the Attorney General of the US to mount investigations of the Bank of America, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, and other big banks in connection with the massive swindles and frauds in house lending and the securitization of mortgages -- because the rule of law requires that somebody be held accountable for the demolition of the banking system.
4. Now take out your crystal ball. What is the most likely scenario you see playing out in global energy supplies over the next few decades?

JHK:  I see the USA getting blind-sided by events. We import nearly three-quarters of the oil we use, and much of it comes from very dodgy places. The ideas derived from Jeff Brown's Export Land Theory tell us that oil export rates are certain to go down very steeply and soon. Before long, exporting nations will have to ask themselves whether they ought to keep some of their oil around for their own people.

In the meantime, China is very busy spending its foreign exchange reserves on "favored customer" oil contracts, more or less cornering a lot of the market. I think that will lead to conflict between them and us. We may even invoke the Monroe Doctrine over Chinese oil purchases out of Canada.

Also meanwhile, we'll see the feedback loop of demand destruction leading to supply destruction as the oil industry becomes starved of capital to get at new production to offset worldwide depletions, and that will result in wildly gyrating oil prices -- all of which will shove the global oil industry -- production and markets -- into fatal instability. Nicole Foss's rap on this dynamic is an excellent reference.

The prospects for gross geopolitical mischief around this are huge, of course, meaning war in some shape or form -- and it will clearly be a war over dwindling resources. Also, of course, you can't overstate the potential for disorder in the Middle East. The king of Saudi Arabia is well over 80 years old now and his successor is also old and ill. I'd suggest we may see a Shia uprising on the western rim of the Persian Gulf (that is, the Arabian side) that would bring down the Saud royal family and ignite a major struggle all over the region. 

There is currently a lot of hoopla over shale gas in the USA, but I think that will disappoint us, since it requires gigantic ongoing capital investment, and capital will be in ever-shorter supply. And this is not to mention the other problems and hazards associated with shale gas "fracking," such as the extreme forms of groundwater pollution and cancer clusters.

Bottom line: in ten years or fewer the USA will be starved for energy resources and probably on its ass in one way or another.

5. The economy's a mess.  What's the best possible outcome to this and how does it come about?

JHK:  The best possible outcome would be a peaceful re-set to a lower scale of activity -- the whole downscaling and re-localization package. It's hard to see that happening smoothly.

It will be very painful because we're talking about liquidation and de-leveraging beyond even Great Depression levels. We have to allow a clearing of mis-investment. Unfortunately, this means not just the "toxic" paper from the colossal frauds and swindles of Wall Street, but much of the infrastructure of suburbia itself, which is losing value now even despite massive government efforts to prop up house prices and pretend that losses in commercial real estate haven't occurred. That clearing process is so tremendous that it is hard to imagine a way that it could occur without leading to gross political disorder -- including the possible breakup of the USA into smaller autonomous regions. We're looking at institutional failure at never-before-imagined levels: pensions and Social Security lost, insurance companies and banks collapsing, the medical system in disarray, really the whole social safety net -- and beyond just dissolving. This is a comprehensive economic collapse beyond the scale even of the Soviet collapse, which, Dmitry Orlov tells us, at least allowed people to stay in their homes and get around on public transit when all else failed.

One much-fretted-over outcome is authoritarian government in the USA. We can see the larval stage of that now with the tea baggers and the theocratic right-wing and a Republican Party that has made itself hostage to the John Birch Society -- but I maintain, as I wrote in The Long Emergency, that it's more likely the federal government will become impotent and ineffectual, and therefore unable to carry out a "corn-pone Nazi" program, even if such characters got a hold of the offices.

In any case, America will be faced with rebuilding all the major pieces of its economy at a lower scale: farming, commerce, transportation, education, banking, you name it. This re-set will occur naturally -- if we don't blow ourselves to Kingdom Come -- but there's no telling how long the process might take. We do know that following the collapse of Rome, Western Europe endured nearly a thousand years of relative hardship. I'd add that societies are essentially emergent organisms and that this economic re-set would therefore be an emergent phenomenon -- not something that required centralized planning or anything like it.

One notable side effect of all this will be a "time out" from technological innovation, which is destroying the ecosystem of the planet Earth, our only home. The human race needs a time out from all this techno-magic-mischief, a period to reflect on what we've done and how we ought to behave with this stuff. I don't even know for sure whether it's a time out or a game-over for technology, and I'm not convinced that we need to know at this point.

6. What steps are you currently taking in preparations for the upcoming “post-peak” years? What do you advise to those simply looking to protect the purchasing power of their current wealth?

JHK:  Well, at 62 I've already outlived Babe Ruth, Mozart, Abe Lincoln, and George Gershwin,  so however long I go from here is "gravy."  But I do all I can to maintain good health. I eat mostly plants, as Michael Pollan would say. I get a lot of exercise. I lead a purposeful daily life. I stay current with the dentist. I made the formative decision of where-to-live over thirty years ago when I settled in a "Main Street" small town in upstate New York. My surplus wealth is invested for the moment in hard gold, the Sprott Physical fund, Australian and Canadian short term bond funds (cash equivalent), and potash mining. I am renting my dwelling, sitting out the housing collapse. I acquired the NY State handgun permit (not so easy). I have some tubs of brown rice, lentils, and curry powder, etc., stashed away. Alas, I didn't have the capital twenty years ago to get hold of forty acres and a mule -- but that's not a bad idea for other people.

7. Are you able to tell (either based on your website viewership or book sales, or from any other source) in which parts of the country/population your teachings are gaining the most traction?

JHK:  My only index of that is the size and mood of audiences where I speak around the country. The Pacific Northwest is always a lively spot. The people who show up are intelligent, informed, and interested. In Southern California I seem to be utterly unknown. Parts of the Midwest, such as Wisconsin and Minnesota, seem to be organizing for a different economy, but other parts (rural Illinois, Indiana, Ohio) are sheer zombie-land. New York City and Washington exist in bubble-fantasylands of their own. Rural New England is pretty Peak Oil aware, though the Boston-Cambridge hub is locked into transports of techno-rapture, probably due to the techno-grandiose culture of MIT. The baleful influence of Harvard shows up in the urban design and architecture field, where they are preoccupied with narcissistic careerism rather than repairing the human habitat. Dixieland is hopeless, what with their thrall to the born-agains and the misfortunes of their demographic (namely "Cracker Culture," which celebrates ignorance and violence). I don't follow my book sales, frankly, and my website manager knows more about the activity on my site than I do.

8. You speak to a lot of audiences and groups.  What has shifted over the years and what, if anything, gives you hope in those trends?

JHK:  I must tell you that I think almost nothing has shifted among the body politic except perhaps the levels of angst and desperation for individual citizens brought on by personal calamity involving job losses, debt, house repossession, family breakup, and related effects of our economic collapse. Meanwhile the distractions from all this pain and stress are ever more moronic -- Dancing with the Stars starring Bristol Palin -- can it get any worse?

Mr. Obama, who I voted for, has done almost nothing to address our energy predicament, and the 2200-page financial regulation bill he signed does little to reform the problems in capital finance -- so, here we are eight months after Fin-Reg entering another stage of the banking crisis. We are still absolutely sleepwalking into the future.

9. It seems inevitable that the suburbs (with 60-mile commutes) and places like LA will suffer badly in a Peak Oil future.  Do you still hold the view that some regions are going to fare substantially better than others?

JHK:  It ought to be self-evident. I mean, compare Phoenix and Portland, Oregon. Phoenix is utterly toast in a few years. They can't grow any food there without expensive and heroic irrigation. They have water problems. They're slaves to their cars. They're in a place where even the hamburger flippers need air-conditioning to survive. It's quite hopeless there. Portland, on the other hand, has turned itself into one of the finest walkable cities in the USA and the Willamette River Valley is one of the most productive farming micro-regions in the world. Human beings will continue to live and thrive to some extent there. Similarly, I think the Great Lakes region is undervalued these days. It is whole lot of good ag land surrounded by the world's most extensive inland sea -- kind of a Mediterranean of fresh water. I remain pessimistic about Dixieland, which I think will be prone to violence and political disorder. In the longer run I believe it will become what it was before World War II: an agricultural backwater. But, really, everybody in every region of the country will be touched by the problems of the long emergency.

10. What question didn’t we ask, but should have? What’s your answer?

JHK:  Will China dominate the world further into the 21st Century?  

A lot of people think so. I'm not so sure about that. They have problems that are orders of magnitude greater than ours with population overshoot, dwindling fresh water, industrial pollution, relatively little oil of their own, and legitimacy of governance. They've become net food importers.

We look at them and their recent accomplishments in awe -- and they've come a long way from the point thirty years ago, when most Chinese lived like it was the twelfth century. But they came to the industrial fiesta very late. They are making some rather dumb choices -- like, trying to get their whole new middle class in cars on freeways, putting up thousands of skyscrapers. Their banking system is possibly more corrupt and dysfunctional than ours -- since it's run by the state, with very poor accountability for lending. As a Baby Boomer, I well remember China's psychotic break of the 1960s, when the country went cuckoo under the elderly, ailing, paranoid Mao Tse-Tung -- which is to say, they're capable of flipping out on the grand scale under stress. They are reaching out these days in a resource grab using their accumulated foreign exchange reserves. At some future time -- say, if the global banking system implodes, and their forex reserves lose value -- I wonder if they will reach out militarily for resources, and how the world might react.

In any case, I take issue with the Tom Friedman notion that the world has become permanently flat. The world is going to get rounder and bigger again. We'll discover -- surprise! -- that the global economy was a set of transient economic relations that obtained only because of a half century of cheap energy and relative peace between the big nations. Ahead now, I think you'll see the big nations shrink back into their own corners of the world. I'm not saying we'll see no international trade, but it will be nothing like the conveyer belt from China to Wal-Mart that we've known the last few decades. And the prospects for conflict are very very high. 


If you have not yet seen the other articles in this series, you can find them here:

PeakProsperity.com readers can submit their preferences for future Straight Talk participants, as well as questions to ask them, via the Straight Talk forum.

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103 Comments

ashvinp's picture
ashvinp
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Re: Straight Talk with James Howard Kunstler: "The World is ...

Great Interview!

Regardless of what one thinks of JHK's specific views, you gotta respect him for being candid and speaking his mind.

"For now, what I call the psychology of previous investment is a massive impediment to the public's ability to think clearly"

This is also a really good point. We have socially adapted ourselves to the institutions and relationships of the past, and that kind of psychological momentum does not reverse easily, if at all, before our hands are forced.

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Re: Straight Talk with James Howard Kunstler: "The World is ...

A big "thank you!" to Jim for taking the time to present his views here.  

Very much appreciated by myself and everybody here.

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Re: Straight Talk with James Howard Kunstler: "The World is ...

One much-fretted-over outcome is authoritarian government in the USA. We can see the larval stage of that now with the tea baggers and the theocratic right-wing and a Republican Party that has made itself hostage to the John Birch Society -- but I maintain, as I wrote in The Long Emergency, that it's more likely the federal government will become impotent and ineffectual, and therefore unable to carry out a "corn-pone Nazi" program, even if such characters got a hold of the offices.

In any case, America will be faced with rebuilding all the major pieces of its economy at a lower scale: farming, commerce, transportation, education, banking, you name it. This re-set will occur naturally -- if we don't blow ourselves to Kingdom Come -- but there's no telling how long the process might take. We do know that following the collapse of Rome, Western Europe endured nearly a thousand years of relative hardship. I'd add that societies are essentially emergent organisms and that this economic re-set would therefore be an emergent phenomenon -- not something that required centralized planning or anything like it.

James,

I don't understand why you would seem to be insulting those of us who consider ourselves to be part of the "Tea Party" by using the derogatory phrase, "Tea Baggers".  It is the principles of Limited Government and Fiscal Responsibility that will get the Government out of our daily lives and lead to the kind of local economy you are advocating.

Richard

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Re: Straight Talk with James Howard Kunstler: "The World is ...

Thanks Jim for doing the interview.  Never get through one of your reads without getting that pit feeling in my stomach.  Im writing this post from Saratoga Springs.  Don't know how many fans you have in your home town, but Im one of them

Blue

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Re: Straight Talk with James Howard Kunstler: "The World is ...

I've read Jim's books and even had a chance to chat with him in Berkeley a while back.  We're buds.  Seriously, I think his predictions are about as good as it gets.  He outlines the constraints in energy, land, population, etc.  The changes that will occur will be chaotic and non-linear, so there's no point in getting too specific.  Of course, the people living the suburban lifestyle won't be proactive in any meaningful way.  They will have their SUV's taken from them by expensive oil versus giving them up for a bicycle or public transit.  The expectation of supermarkets full of refined carbohydrate food will persist until the shelves are empty.

One mindset Jim doesn't touch on is the uniquely American blind faith in markets.  At some point, the physical capacity to ship food 3,000 miles will give out.  How will markets cope with a situation where there may not be a profit in feeding 100 million people who are destitute?  For generations the elite opinion makers have been harping about how bad and inefficient government is and how it should be curtailed at every opportunity.  A lot of not-so-elite Americans have bought into this idea.  Who will come to rescue them when the supermarket shelves are empty?  Will congress and the executive be peopled by a bunch of rubes who were elected to do nothing?  Was Katrina a message that the spirit of the collective has finally been laid to rest?  Perhaps it is inevitable that all governments regardless of their ideology will fall prey to a small coterie of elite interests and at that point begin a death spiral into confusion and chaos.  Recall that Rome was once a republic.  The death of Julius Caesar was the death of the republic.  Caesar was a tyrant only to the patrician class of money lenders, landlords, and traders.  He sought to limit their power to preserve the republic.  We know how that worked out.

In Jim's book, A World Made By Hand, he touches on a situation similar to what happened at the fall of the Roman empire.  Many of the common folk voluntarily became serfs on estates.  They surrendered their labor in trade for sustenance, thus avoiding handling money that could be taxed.  The character Steven Bollock is such a figure of wealth and property.  All were welcome to join his serfdom to work the land and achieve some sort of stability.  Compared to many others in the book, they lived quite well.  As banks topple and resources dwindle, I often wonder if the fate of industrial culture is the medieval village.

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Re: Straight Talk with James Howard Kunstler: "The World is ...

The staff at CM have really stepped up the guest columns and material presented lately, and this post is no exception. Great interview.

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Re: Straight Talk with James Howard Kunstler: "The World is ...

Excellent. Thank you for the honest and blunt interview.

The suburbia issue is a little puzzling to me. While a city like Portland might be inhatible in the future, how is a densely packed city like NYC or Boston inhatible in the future? Most of the available land, if any, to grow food is in the suburbs. There's just no way to grow enough food in the overpopulated cities to feed the populations, it would have to be brought in from the suburbs, which requires energy. My main goal when I moved to a rural suburb was to be near sources of food, yet still be able to get to my job in a city.

I too am a little aback by the Tea Baggers comment. While I don't necessarily agree with everything they stood for, I was glad to see a movement out there that was angry with the way things were going in D.C. and in general in the USofA. After all, isn't that we want, something to shake up the status quo?

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Re: Straight Talk with James Howard Kunstler: "The World is ...

Don't be too taken aback by the tea bagger comments.  JHK does this a lot in his own blog posts.  I don't know why, but he believes the TP to be totally full of southern born-agains, and led by Sarah Palin.  He totally discounts the Ron Paul small gov't wing of the movement.  I think it stems from his deep hatred of everything he perceives as southern (NASCAR, shooting culture, racists, "fatties", tatoos), and continued faith in the left - despite some criticisms of Obama now emerging in his writings.   How one can still have faith in big government, especially knowing what Jim knows, is beyond me.  Obama backers have to go through a grieving process when they realize their man is not all that they thought he was going to be - it takes time, and is a process that goes through stages, similar to the stages of grief.  JHK is still somewhere in the middle in this process.

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Re: Straight Talk with James Howard Kunstler: "The World is ...

I suspect there will be a number of "Steven Bullock"types in the suthren states as it has existed since before the War Between the States.

robie(learnin' to make my own bio-diesel)

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Re: Straight Talk with James Howard Kunstler: "The World is ...

The Foss is very strong with you Jedi Jim

On a side note, I thought I was alone on the 'China blows up theory' over the fact that they are now faced with a predicament; grow exponentially and destroy all the resources needed for human life OR grow organically and watch as the economy crumbles away.

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Re: Straight Talk with James Howard Kunstler: "The World is ...

Thanks for a taste (make that distaste) of JHK.  Don't need to bother with any further contact.  Narrow mind exposed.

- Jim

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Re: Straight Talk with James Howard Kunstler: "The World is ...

Flippin terrific interview!

Thanks again, from a born-again, Sarah Palin lovin', tea party member who is also a great fan.Laughing

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Re: Straight Talk with James Howard Kunstler: "The World is ...

I find listening to Kunstler very interesting.  He is clearly a smart guy and I value his perspectives on societies problems.  However I have not purchased any of his books because I find his comments like "tea baggers" and "corn-pone Nazi" to be too offensive to be worthy of my support.  It is a real shame because I would like to hear more of his perspective.

I also find it ironic that so many people accuse TP supporters of harboring prejudice and yet I have never heard anything from a major player in that movement that came near level of animosity ( or hatered ) JHK seems to show certain "groups".  I can understand some of his anger, but at least for me, the derogatory name calling is just too much.

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Re: Straight Talk with James Howard Kunstler: "The World is ...

From an outside of the US view point, it appeared that the tea partymovement had been hijacked.  Certainly the international media I saw presented it as a platform for Palin and others of a similar "type" and as such nothing really new.

Good interview, again his comments about social chaos wcho my own thoughts

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Re: Straight Talk with James Howard Kunstler: "The World is ...

JHK doesn't pull any punches and Im sure he ends up offending a lot of people.  I don't agree with everything he says, but he clearly understands the big picture and is one of the earliest authors to push forward the peak oil debate. 

While he may be overly critical of the Tea Party, the Tea Party is not the peak oil party.  though the TP is pushing for fiscal responsibility of the govt, it is not proposing any plans on dealing with peak oil.  in the end, i believe that all the political parties (Democratic, Republican, and Tea party) will be irrelevant.

Brian

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Kunstler's Tea Party

Kunstler is right about the Tea Party.

The Tea Party talks small government and fiscal responsibility. Great stuff. We need more of that.

However, it doesn't make efforts towards having a big tent. They definitely attract the racist and fundamentalist elements even if on the surface they repudiate those elements. Some prominent Tea Party activists who have made racist remarks have been kicked out (and for a recent movement, they've had a few), but in general the Tea Party doesn't go out of its way to put out a welcome mat for minorities and strong segments of the membership are very intolerant of those who don't believe in Christianity.

I can see Blacks or Asians or Latinos in the GOP. I can even see the Log Cabin Republicans in the GOP (an exercise in futility, really). But I can't see more than a handful of token minorities of any kind in the Tea Party. The Tea Party is overwhelmingly White and Christian and proud of it. It has strong support from those elements, but that also pushes others away. It polarizes the Republican Party even further.

And this is coming from me, a minority, who is a registered Republican who both donated to and voted for Ron Paul in the 2008 Republican primary.

Poet

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Re: Straight Talk with James Howard Kunstler: "The World is ...

"I don't understand why you would seem to be insulting those of us who consider ourselves to be part of the "Tea Party" by using the derogatory phrase, "Tea Baggers".  It is the principles of Limited Government and Fiscal Responsibility that will get the Government out of our daily lives and lead to the kind of local economy you are advocating.

Richard"

You just don't get it...  Vote for them if it makes you feel good by all means, but there are zero political parties involved in the future.

I predict the Disunited States of America.  And only local governments, as in town councils...

JHK is bagging the TP with equal measure as the other two.

Time to think differently.

Personally, I LOVE the way Kunstler rattles cages, if only it woke people out of their stupor.

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Re: Straight Talk with James Howard Kunstler: "The World is ...

wrt the "teabagger" comments, the first time I heard that expression used in reference to the tea party, it was by a spokesman for the tea party.  It's a good thing I wasn't drinking coffee at the time, else everything within range would have been sprayed.  Who can forget the oft shown iconic picture of the lady with the broad brimmed hat with teabags hanging all around the brimLaughing?

Doug

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Re: Straight Talking Kunstler: "The Word is ... No Bullsh*t!!!

I totally embrace Jim's full-on attack at all of the stinking irrelevant sh*t I'm sure he's sickened in watching mainstream offer up for people to eat. I think it would be hard to find a more honest appraisal with where we're at, and where we're headed - None Too Many Strings - No Excuses - No Sugar-Coating - No Spoon-Fed Bullsh*t ...

One of my earliest experience's of him was this TED Talks lecture : -

The lecture was a draw for me to read his book The Long Emergency [< linked to first 70 pages], for which I suggest that it is compulsory reading for every member of this forum ...

Jim,

A personal message to you - Thank you so much for all of your intended, and minuscule amount of non-intended offensiveness. It has been a joy to revel in, and I am a diehard fan!!!

~ VF ~

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Re: Straight Talk with James Howard Kunstler: "The World is ...

I've listened to most of his books (though found them a bit boring after reading The Long Emergency - which I recommend). We also listen to his podcasts regularly. He shows us our vulnerablities so we can assess them.

Agreed - he shakes people's cages and those that live in a cage- need it. I do find people are more resilient than he describes them and though his assessment of national urban"ology" seems correct, he, like Ruppert and others, fail to see the human factor of change. Typically, they do not see the good in themselves - so they don't see it in others.

EGP

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Re: Straight Talk with James Howard Kunstler: "The World is ...

Kunstler is becoming repetitious. Actually, he has been for some time. And this nation has a tin ear for his important message(s), which is lamentable and why we are sleepwalking.

He does have a brutally blunt and colorful way of describing phenomena, however.

Share his views re the Chinese. The world seemed to think similar things about Japan in the 80's as I recall. They hardly proved out to be a master race/supermen.

Not too many here stateside were paying attention to Mao's Cultural Revolution when China collectively (pun intended) went off the deep end in the 60's or Mao's attempts to manufacture steel in back yard foundries going tits up. It wasn't until China well post Mao post 60's  became capitalist that we began to look at it through any lens other than that of a Cold War enemy.

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Re: Straight Talk with James Howard Kunstler: "The World is ...

Wow, I guess the strong reaction to the name-calling (tea baggers, Cracker Culture, etc.) on the CM site shouldn't be a surprise. One thing that is appealing about Chris and this site, in general, is that there is usually respect for opposing opinions or members of groups with views that oppose or challenge that of "mainstream-Martenson-crash-course" views.

Although the apparent prejudice against the Tea Party and southerners rubs me the wrong way, it does have a certain entertainment value that keeps me from tuning out completely. IMO it's better than being totally PC and not even being able to express an opinion out of fear of offending someone.

I find the Tea Party debate a little puzzling since it is not really a party, although I am aware that there are many, many, regional Tea Party groups. From my observations (and I've attended a couple of the local So. Cal protests), it's a bunch of people from many parties (Republican, Libertarian, Independent, Democratic, etc.) that are tired of the increasing financial mess we have created and continue to create at all levels of government, local to federal. Of course each person has his own personal gripes, Read the Bills, End the Fed, No Earmarks, End the Wars, Stop Obamacare, etc., but you can't really generalize too much since it's not a party and there is no platform. Most of the Tea people that I have talked to are better educated on the Constitution than your average citizen, and that will usually scare the hell out of any big-government/mainstream media following types. As far as racial bigots are concerned, I believe there probably are some, but no more than in any other cross section of society.

So call me a tea bagger if you like; I've been called worse. Just don't steal from me and tell me it's for the greater good of society. Theft is not a virtue, whether it's done by gun point or by QE.

SS

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Re: Straight Talk with James Howard Kunstler: "The World is ...

Well said SingleSpeak. Nice to have the interview regardless if we all agree with it or not.

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Re: Straight Talk with James Howard Kunstler: "The World is ...

I've read The Long Emergency and benefitted from it.  JHK's comments and predictions here largely resonate with my own.  But I must take what he says with more than a grain of salt because of the blindness and bias some of his comments born out of self-righteous condescension illustrate.  Referring to whole groups of people (born agains and Tea Baggers) in a condescending manner indicating a personal conclusion that they are all hopeless is something we could us a lot less of now and in the long emergency.  It's a shame JHK hasn't met any born agains and Tea Baggers who in his mind might have something to offer and be worth partnering with.  There are plenty of buffoons in all groups, including religious groups, but also plenty of people with valuable perspectives, skills, knowledge, etc.  For instance, during the "1000 dark years after the fall of Rome," weren't much of the knowledge, values, and skills that were worth keeping alive kept alive by small Christian communities? Looking into the coming darkness, I would be significantly uncomfortable being JHK's neighbor (or anyone like him) out of anxiety I would one day end up on his "disposable" list.

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Re: Straight Talk with James Howard Kunstler: "The World is ...

I cannot find any ways to "relocalize" megapolises like NY (which runs from Portland, Maine to Richmond, VA) or large cities like Seattle (100 miles long and 30 miles wide), Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, LA, Chicago, etc.  .  Even JHK is not talking about it. I don't think, anybody is talking about it. And 50% of our population lives in mega cities. 

Why is everybody avoiding the issue of large cities.

Romesh Chander

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Re: Straight Talk with James Howard Kunstler: "The World is ...

n1 jhk..

"Perhaps the best and broadest of them
was a most monstrous and mythical superstition of Adam Smith;
a theological theory that providence had so made the world that men
might be happy through their selfishness; or, in other words,
that God would overrule everything for good, if only men could
succeed in being sufficiently bad.

The intellectuals in this epoch taught definitely and dogmatically that if only men would
buy and sell freely, lend or borrow freely, sweat or sack freely,
and in practice, steal or swindle freely, humanity would be happy.
The Common Man soon found out how happy; in the Slums where they
left him and in the Slump to which they led him."   -  G. K . Chesterton..


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Re: Straight Talk with James Howard Kunstler: "The World is ...

"Tea Baggers," Dixieland comments...what a bigot.

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Re: Straight Talk with James Howard Kunstler: "The World is ...

Damnthematrix wrote:
JHK is bagging the TP with equal measure as the other two.

Time to think differently.

Personally, I LOVE the way Kunstler rattles cages, if only it woke people out of their stupor.

The problem is when you overtly offend people the way he does the message gets lost.  While I do believe people need a firm slap upside the head, the political/religious commentary will turn many people away.  I have several times thought about reading "The Long Emergency" and some of his other books, but the off-topic commentary and attacks on people just turns me off too much.  I read his blog on occasion and enjoyed this interview and appreciate his time.  It's just I have to take JHK in small portions. Smile  It's why I like CM, same basic message, no offending comments.

SingleSpeak wrote:
Although the apparent prejudice against the Tea Party and southerners rubs me the wrong way, it does have a certain entertainment value that keeps me from tuning out completely. IMO it's better than being totally PC and not even being able to express an opinion out of fear of offending someone.

I agree better to express an option than not at all, but does insulting people ever help?  It's one thing to tell people their wrong and debate on the issues, but once you get to personal attacks and name calling there is not really a discussion anymore.

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Re: Straight Talk with James Howard Kunstler: "The World is ...

Notice especially how the Sunbelt born-again crowd are perhaps the staunchest defenders of suburbia -- and everything that goes with it, including car dependency and and huge volumes of oil imports from unreliable foreign nations. They conflate suburbia with the constitution and Jesus.  And, really, their belief system is so incoherent and ridiculous that it must really frighten the educated folk of other nations who see how we carry on.

*clears throat* Ahem.

As a South Carolina resident, may I--who agree with so much you said, James--suggest that you don't live in the Deep South so you've been misinformed? You obviously have us confused with someone else. SC "gets" peak oil. We are dismantling nuclear weapons and burning them for electricity (Oconee nuke plant and four others) . The first nuclear plant to get a license to be built in the last 30 years is being built here. Not that we are "embacing suburbia" - my neighbors just cleared some land for goats, and coworkers offered us some of their chickens. We are restarting our beehives in the spring, and the one of the first hydropower plants in the country was for public transportation in the state capitol (and it's still prodicing power.) Oh, we poor uneducated folks! Of course, I am just an engineer, my mother and mother-in law are chemical engineers, my father-in-law was a rocket scientist. Nevermind. Just don't be surprised when we boors who are clinging to our God, guns, and religion manage to love our neighbors and work together in communities. There are idiots in every part of the world, but you've been watching too many Dukes of Hazard reruns. The idea that, quote,

Dixieland is hopeless, what with their thrall to the born-agains and the misfortunes of their demographic (namely "Cracker Culture," which celebrates ignorance and violence).

is laughable to those who live here. Our "celebration" of the right to bear arms is rather like Mr. Miagi's katate: "only for defense" (but we can hunt for our dinner if we need to). The South has fertile land, a long growing season, adequate water, low population density, navigable rivers, and people who are not ashamed to work work their hands. I expect some ugliness to seep out of places like Charleston (lots of people on the government dime there), and it will be tough, but we'll eventually manage.

Heck, we're smart enough to read The Long Emergency and nice enough to like you anyhow, even when you say uninformed things about us.

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Re: Straight Talk with James Howard Kunstler: "The World is ...

I own The Long Emergency; enjoyed reading it; and am in full agreement with most of JHK's social commentary.  He is obviously and intelligent and gifted man who understands the problem.  His work is a real contribution to the discussion at hand and has opened lots of eyes.  His work has had a real impact just when it is sorely needed.

Sadly, he diminishes the strength of his arguments and distracts from the discussion by indulging his contempt for some aspects of our culture and country.  I find his comments about the South offensive, overly generalized, and inaccurate.  His attacks on Christianity are unnecessary and don't add anything to the discussion.  In fact, they serve to alienate a portion of the population that he has more in common with than he may understand.

There are lots of people in this country who I wish wouldn't act like such morons.  I understand that this strata of people have always and will always exist.  I am thankful that I have been blessed to be educated and raised in a fine home where I learned to say a little less than I think, and to not hold whole groups of people in contempt.  Perhaps JHK should consider demonstrating his superior intellect by being smart enough to refrain from gratuitous profanity, name calling, and other sophomoric displays of arrogant contempt.  That twang of self-righteous arrogance is unbecoming of a man of his intellectual talent, and speaks volumes about his character.

Too bad I didn't spend the time it takes to write this post discussing the more thoughtful aspects of his points.  That's the price we pay for releasing ourselves from the constraints of civil discourse.  Unfortunately, JHK will never lead anything or anyone because he has never learned self control and the basic rules of civility.  He will be forever a bitter sidelined critic of what the rest of us are doing.  Being smart (or right) just isn't all that impressive anymore.

Not to sound like a boot licker, but Dr. M is a credit to himself and his family for the way he consciously avoids this kind of invective and controversy while actually DOING SOMETHING about the problem.

Otherwise, an interesting and informative post.

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Re: Straight Talk with James Howard Kunstler: "The World is ...

There are a lot of enthusiastic people supporting the Tea Party movement however there are a lot more who are also very skeptical about it (mainly about the people funding it) Check out the link below:

http://permaculture.org.au/2010/10/29/toxic-brew/

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Re: Kunstler's Tea Party

Poet wrote:

I can see Blacks or Asians or Latinos in the GOP. I can even see the Log Cabin Republicans in the GOP (an exercise in futility, really). But I can't see more than a handful of token minorities of any kind in the Tea Party. The Tea Party is overwhelmingly White and Christian and proud of it. It has strong support from those elements, but that also pushes others away. It polarizes the Republican Party even further.

It saddens me to read you say this, Poet, since I perceive you as someone who is not normally swayed by media propaganda. There are black Tea Party leaders, but they aren't given their due by the press and/or are dismissed as "tokens." Meanwhile, predominantly white conservative districts in the Deep South just elected two black Tea Party candidates. The Tea Party also brought us our first Indian-American female governor, Nikki Haley. Don't forget Marco Rubio in Florida, or the first Latina governor in New Mexico (I forgot her name).

What I find ironic about these statements...and also JHK’s constant harping on the so-called racist “teabaggers,” is that where in the peak oil and prepper movements do you see anything from or for minorities for the most part? What well-known econobloggers are minorities...there aren’t even that many white women, much less women of color or black men? Who in this guest series on CM has not  been a white, upper middle class male, including James Howard Kunstler?

And what pertinence does JHK or even Chris Martenson’s message have to do with minorities in the inner cities?

So I guess if you are a middle class white Christian Southerner who happens to associate mostly with whites due to your socio-economic status (i.e., a "teabagger"), you are a racist, but if you are an atheist/agnostic upper middle class white (male) from the north who mostly happens to associate with whites due to your socio-economic status, you are not a racist?

Let’s face it. The peak oil and prepper movements are by and large movements spawned and spurred on by white males, offering solutions for mainly established white upper middle class people who have something to lose.

The rest - the minorities and poor in the cities, young single people, and especially single mothers - are simply going to be stuck in urban hell. And the message is - for those well-do-to whites - to get the hell away from these sprawling urban centers (and the minorities) as quickly as you can. Then go and create your new small town paradise away from the unwashed masses. (Except in JHK’s small town paradise, it’s a walkable one.)

I've followed JHK for a long-time here and there, not closely, but he has inspired me in the past. His constant bigoted ranting about whites in the South and the "teabaggers" has turned me off recently, unfortunately. Yes, we get it. JHK doesn't like poor white trash. He should just be upfront about it and say it that baldly.

Unfortunately, we need people to look beyond their elitist bubbles. This peak oil / sustainability problem is one that effects everyone, and I for one thing we'd all do better by reaching out to the so-called unwashed masses rather than insulting them. 

And to JHK, who thinks he's somehow better than the dumb white teabaggers, I have to ask him, what's he done lately to help minorities or solve the problems in the inner cities? The inner cities would seem to be good places for some urban renewal where it would be easier to have a walkable structure than the suburbs, which were primarily created by "white flight." For someone so angered by the so-called closed-minded ignorant Southerners, I don't see him being a leader when it comes to social justice or reaching out to underserved minority communities.

In fact, I challenge everyone here to start thinking beyond the upper white middle class...or those few minorities such as Poet who apparently have the money and time to prep.  

PS. I don't mean to suggest by this post that CM or anyone here is actively racist but that it's easy to forget that a lot of times, communities that are self-forming tend to be insular and selective by race. There simply isn't a lot of effort in the prepper community yet to actively help minorities, especially the poor ones in the cities. So to suggest that the "teabaggers" are racist because they don't hang out with a lot of black people is kind of silly when you look at the demographics of a site like this or JHK's.

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Re: Straight Talk with James Howard Kunstler: "The World is ...

"Straight Talk" and Politics? 

Congratulations Dr. M, your the last proponent of Peak Oil Theory that isn't personally controversial. I think I will have to nominate you for the "Cap'n Sheeple Man of The Year Award for next year too.

Seriously, thank you for your objective approach and message....Jeff

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Re: Straight Talk with James Howard Kunstler: "The World is ...

I missed James when he came through Portsmouth New Hampshire on his book tour recently, just a couple blocks from my office.  He did seem to pick up correctly one of his podcasts on the vibrancy of Portsmouth that apparently is so lacking in many other downtowns today.  His trashing of the Maine tourist crap buildout is probably deserved also.

My take is James as a writer uses words in a different way and perhaps less literally than science oriented people like CM. 

The general scenario outcomes he descibes above seem reasonable to expect though unpleasant.

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Re: Straight Talk with James Howard Kunstler: "The World is ...

Vedha wrote:

There are a lot of enthusiastic people supporting the Tea Party movement however there are a lot more who are also very skeptical about it (mainly about the people funding it) 

Monbiot is not exactly an unbiased observer. It is a mantra of the far left that anyone with a contrary view is a lackey of nefarious big business. Tea baggers and astroturf are mere epithets intended to belittle the tea partiers, but in the wake of the recent elections it is apparent that they are the strongest grassroots movement of recent decades.

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Re: Straight Talk with James Howard Kunstler: "The World is ...

An odd thought just came to me.... namely, that James Howard Kunstler is the "Sam Kinison" of the Peak Oil movement Tongue out.  Controversial, excessively abrasive, even abusive on occasion... but there's still wisdom to be found there.

Even though like others I take issue with his trash-talking, I still think this Straight Talk segment was definitely worthwhile.  I rather liked his input on China; sure they are playing it smart in lots of ways, but they have a lot of challenges to overcome and their future is far from certain.

- Nickbert

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Re: Kunstler's Tea Party

soulsurfersteph wrote:

It saddens me to read you say this, Poet, since I perceive you as someone who is not normally swayed by media propaganda. There are black Tea Party leaders, but they aren't given their due by the press and/or are dismissed as "tokens." Meanwhile, predominantly white conservative districts in the Deep South just elected two black Tea Party candidates. The Tea Party also brought us our first Indian-American female governor, Nikki Haley. Don't forget Marco Rubio in Florida, or the first Latina governor in New Mexico (I forgot her name).

Yes, and Nikki Haley has retreated heavily to emphasize her Christianity whereas before, she actually talked about attending temple with her parents as well. (http://www.politicsdaily.com/2010/06/05/nikki-haley-under-fire-stresses-...). If you aren't White, you gotta show how very Christian you are. That's just how it is.

soulsurfersteph wrote:

What I find ironic about these statements...and also JHK’s constant harping on the so-called racist “teabaggers,” is that where in the peak oil and prepper movements do you see anything from or for minorities for the most part? What well-known econobloggers are minorities...there aren’t even that many white women, much less women of color or black men? Who in this guest series on CM has not  been a white, upper middle class male, including James Howard Kunstler?

And what pertinence does JHK or even Chris Martenson’s message have to do with minorities in the inner cities?

So I guess if you are a middle class white Christian Southerner who happens to associate mostly with whites due to your socio-economic status (i.e., a "teabagger"), you are a racist, but if you are an atheist/agnostic upper middle class white (male) from the north who mostly happens to associate with whites due to your socio-economic status, you are not a racist?

Let’s face it. The peak oil and prepper movements are by and large movements spawned and spurred on by white males, offering solutions for mainly established white upper middle class people who have something to lose.

The rest - the minorities and poor in the cities, young single people, and especially single mothers - are simply going to be stuck in urban hell. And the message is - for those well-do-to whites - to get the hell away from these sprawling urban centers (and the minorities) as quickly as you can. Then go and create your new small town paradise away from the unwashed masses. (Except in JHK’s small town paradise, it’s a walkable one.)

I've followed JHK for a long-time here and there, not closely, but he has inspired me in the past. His constant bigoted ranting about whites in the South and the "teabaggers" has turned me off recently, unfortunately. Yes, we get it. JHK doesn't like poor white trash. He should just be upfront about it and say it that baldly.

Unfortunately, we need people to look beyond their elitist bubbles. This peak oil / sustainability problem is one that effects everyone, and I for one thing we'd all do better by reaching out to the so-called unwashed masses rather than insulting them. 

And to JHK, who thinks he's somehow better than the dumb white teabaggers, I have to ask him, what's he done lately to help minorities or solve the problems in the inner cities? The inner cities would seem to be good places for some urban renewal where it would be easier to have a walkable structure than the suburbs, which were primarily created by "white flight." For someone so angered by the so-called closed-minded ignorant Southerners, I don't see him being a leader when it comes to social justice or reaching out to underserved minority communities.

I highly agree with you.

soulsurfersteph wrote:

In fact, I challenge everyone here to start thinking beyond the upper white middle class...or those few minorities such as Poet who apparently have the money and time to prep.

Actually you have to take me out of the "money and time to prep" group. My first post here caused quite a ruckus (Erik T, Dr. Martenson, etc. all weighed in) because I hungered for things that could be done by the majority of people without the investment money, the land, the resources, or even membership dues, and felt so much of this site was geared towards members. (I'd post a link here, but I believe the blog entry from March no longer exists.)

I think some of the offerings since then (especially the "What Should I Do?" series by Dr. Martenson and the follow-ups by SagerXX and Farm Brown, etc.) have been very helpful for those of us with less means. A few of the practical food and water things, I can do. Other things, like getting my hands on physical gold or silver, I can't afford. But it's good to have a roadmap. (Hopefully shit won't hit the fan for a few more years so I have time to prepare, because right now I'm the sole breadwinner for my family and we live in a one-bedroom apartment in suburbia.)

soulsurfersteph wrote:

PS. I don't mean to suggest by this post that CM or anyone here is actively racist but that it's easy to forget that a lot of times, communities that are self-forming tend to be insular and selective by race. There simply isn't a lot of effort in the prepper community yet to actively help minorities, especially the poor ones in the cities. So to suggest that the "teabaggers" are racist because they don't hang out with a lot of black people is kind of silly when you look at the demographics of a site like this or JHK's.

Personally, I never thought of PeakProsperity.com or anyone here as being racist at all. I feel this is a safe place for people of all religious or ethnic or even political backgrounds to be. This is probably the safest of all the prep communities - and I've been lurking around prep sites and chatrooms since the Y2K/Armageddon community days. Here, anyone can join, anyone can comment, and either the moderators are really good or people here just refrain from spouting off racist or religious supremacist ideology.

I could say that I would love to see posts from a minority, poor, urban perspective. However, as this is a community, we need to do it ourselves. We need to recruit and invite, not just make it safe.

Here's an example: As a minority living in America, I've experienced the other end of racist and religious supremacy. So in a "shit hit the fan scenario" I'd like to be where there is a large plurality of races and beliefs. Southern California and the Pacific Northwest would be my preferred location and I wouldn't want to be living in certain parts of this country (especially rural, Southern parts) when that time comes.

I'm sorry if I seem prejudiced, but I won't believe you if you tell me people really won't persecute me or my family for racial or religious reasons in a time of deep economic and social breakdown. If you're part of the majority, it's simply not a worry for you. If you're part of the minority, it's not just a worry, it may become a life or death decision and you simply can't afford to rely on verbal assurances or faith in humanity. If we could rely on that, a lot of folks here wouldn't have guns for self defense, right?

So right off the bat, it's unlikely that I'll be retreating with my family to a homestead and growing my own food. Instead, my focus will have to be on building resiliency in an urban/suburban environment where most of my fellow minorities reside, and working on building community and security in that kind of environment. I'm somewhat encouraged by Fernando "Ferfal" Aguirre's writings. He emphasizes survival living in a city environment as social order breaks down. (He actually criticizes those who think they'll survive on a remote farm - if you have crops and appear to be doing well then you likely have a stockpile of supplies or firearms to take, help is far away, you and your family can be ambushed and kept for days.)

But I don't really talk about survival as a minority or survival in a suburban/urban environment because I don't really feel that there are others in the same boat that I am. So the issue isn't really brought up. I think you need a critical mass to develop before those topics and discussions can flow more easily.

Poet

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Re: Straight Talk with James Howard Kunstler: "The World is ...

JH Kuntsler has some interesting things to say and often says them well. Unfortunately, his message is tarnished by, shall we say, his lack of tolerance on certain issues.

This was brought home to me by some particularly offensive remarks he made about Palestinians in the course the IDF’s appalling Operation “Cast Lead” in Gaza two years ago.

Since then I have chosen to largely ignore him.

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Re: Straight Talk with James Howard Kunstler: "The World is ...

JHK grabs attention when he talks or writes with the language he uses.  His main failing for me is that he talks too much in generalities (that some people don't really like), these generalities address some of the stereo types and as an expat who has lived in a number of different countries, stereotypes do exist but the brush he uses to paint with is too broad.  However, for me there can also be a failing in the audience to listen to the words and not the message. Let's face it, style in political and corporate circles is everything, content is secondary, but the general population focuses on the style and words. For me, his message is as clear as CM, Stoneleigh etc etc

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Re: Straight Talk with James Howard Kunstler: "The World is ...

I'm fully impressed!!! I mean, compare these :-

Straight Talk With Mike Shedlock - Posted 23 days ago - 2545 reads - 27 posts

Straight Talk With Steve Keen - Posted 10 days ago - 1659 reads - 19 posts

Straight Talk With James Howard Kunstler - Posted 20 hours ago - 2147 reads - 40 posts

Someone is now going to pipe up and say - "... but quantity over quality?" Yeh, well politically correct got us into this mess!!!

Britinbe's post above this, nails the issue perfectly.

I want my information as offensive as it need be for people to have a very good look in the mirror, visualize a leading culprit of this sh*t-storm, and act with urgency, without first passing blame onto others. After all, this thread is going to look like a quaint little children's tea party, compared to what goes on outside your own front doors, sooner rather than later, while the real message here was missed with the act of bashing the messenger.

Politically Correct?

Here :-

~ VF ~

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Re: Straight Talk with James Howard Kunstler: "The World is ...

safewrite wrote:

Heck, we're smart enough to read The Long Emergency and nice enough to like you anyhow, even when you say uninformed things about us.

Amen.......From another gun toting, under educated ( me-MS, wife, PhD ) forty acres and a mule, ( 100a and a tractor ) debt free, self reliant lifestyle "cracker".

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goes211
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Re: Straight Talk with James Howard Kunstler: "The World is ...

There is a difference between being PC and bigoted?  He has every right to say things that are not PC, and if that was all he was doing, I doubt it would be causing this fuss.  If someone that supported the Arizona immigration law started ranting about all the "spics" or "wetbacks" that were ruining his state, would you call that being non-PC or would it be something else?  I would call it racist.  If you can't see that JHK is doing something that is very similar, then your ideological blinders are on.

Even that being said I am glad he did this "Straight Talk".  So far all the straight talks have been thought provoking.

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r
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Re: Straight Talk with James Howard Kunstler: "The World is ...

It's possible to create a sustainable community within a city. There is, for example, a small but growing urban farming movement.  For buildings that can support the load, a closed-loop farm can be put on roof-tops, as this one in Brooklyn, NY:  http://rooftopfarms.org/

There are benefits:  these farms are protected from everything but the weather, you get to live in a secure building, your gold dealer's vaults are in walking distance, etc., and a city like New York will probably the last to crumble.  And you get to reach out to all kinds of people; you are not isolated (except for the Internet?).

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Re: Straight Talk with James Howard Kunstler: "The World is ...

Wow. I appreciate Kunstler.  I would not choose to use his language but that is his right.

I live in the NYC metro area and have a strong interest in urban preps. 

My take (and it may be wrong) is that many urban poor are all too familiar with the deprivations of no heat, no electricity and limited food that may come with peak oil and economic collapse.   I think they have taught me a thing or two about resilience. I have learned something about what is real cohesive community from  my friend who grew up in the impoverished inner ciy-they had to look out for each other in every sense of the word in a very dangerous area.  They always knew who their neighbors were and who they could count on.

I think one of the scary things about being in the city relates to the risks of overcrowding leading to mass violence; having lived in a time of  riots in the 70's it is not something I look forward to seeing again.

I hope we do facilitate more discussion on urban preps.

Just a few thoughts worth about what you paid for them.

Denise

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Re: Straight Talk with James Howard Kunstler: "The World is ...

Can I just say how proud I am of this community?  Every generation has its H.L. Mencken, pushing the envelope of social commentary, often stretching and exaggerating things in order to get the point across, and this is how I view much of Jim Kunstler's work.

What I'm proud of is that people here who were offended or felt unfairly targeted by his words explained themselves in a fully rational, calm, and logical manner.  That's rare and it means we have something almost unheard of in the virtual world.

Yes, getting here took both time and steady moderating, but here we are, with a community that can be trusted to handle the bumps and vicissitudes calmly and with a hefty dose of constructiveness.  "I might not agree, but here's why and here's the impact and here's another way for you to consider."   

So thank you for participating, noticing, and helping to create the very safest, most constructive, helpful, and useful place on the web to discuss some of the most difficult material possible and work through this enormous transition and all that it entails.

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Re: Straight Talk with James Howard Kunstler: "The World is ...

Yup, every so often our collective tit gets caught in the ringer, but if we just unwind it and settle down, we can get back to doing the laundry.

Thanks for the interview.  I liked it and think you are a funny writer.  In league with MH and VF, two of my favorites.  Laughing

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Re: Straight Talk with James Howard Kunstler: "The World is ...

goes211 wrote:

There is a difference between being PC and bigoted?  He has every right to say things that are not PC, and if that was all he was doing, I doubt it would be causing this fuss.  If someone that supported the Arizona immigration law started ranting about all the "spics" or "wetbacks" that were ruining his state, would you call that being non-PC or would it be something else?  I would call it racist.  If you can't see that JHK is doing something that is very similar, then your ideological blinders are on.

Even that being said I am glad he did this "Straight Talk".  So far all the straight talks have been thought provoking.

Goes,

Lets establish a few ideologies :-

[quote=]

Anarcho-pacifism, Black anarchism, Illegalism, Left anarchism, Post-anarchism, Post-colonial anarchism, Post-left anarchy, Provo (movement), Right-anarchism, Anarcho-primitivism, Green anarchism, Agorism, Anarcho-capitalism, Freiwirtschaft, Geolibertarianism, Inclusive Democracy, Individualist anarchism, Market anarchism, Mutualism, Participatory economics, Buddhist anarchism, Christian anarchism, Islamic anarchism, Jewish anarchism, Anarchist communism, Anarcha-feminism, Anarcho-syndicalism, Collectivist anarchism, Platformism, Social anarchism, Social ecology, Autarchism, Autonomism, Indigenism, Infoanarchism, Insurrectionary anarchism, Makhnovism, National-Anarchism, Panarchism, Platformism, Propertarianism, Voluntaryism, Workerism, Conservatism, Conservative liberalism, Cultural conservatism, Liberal conservatism, Libertarian conservatism, National conservatism, Neoconservatism, Paleoconservatism, Social conservatism, Agrarianism, Bioconservatism, Black conservatism, Civic Conservatism, Christian democracy, Communitarianism, Fiscal conservatism, Green conservatism, Latin Conservatism, Right-libertarianism, Roman Catholic conservatism, Theoconservatism, Traditionalist conservatism, Anarcho-primitivism, Bright green environmentalism, Deep ecology, Eco-capitalism, Ecofascism, Ecofeminism, Ecologism, Eco-socialism, Environmentalism, Free-market environmentalism, Green anarchism, Green conservatism, Green liberalism, Green libertarianism, Green politics, Green municipalism, Green syndicalism, Social ecology, Anarcha-feminism, Cultural feminism, Ecofeminism, Feminism, Individualist feminism, Lesbian feminism, Liberal feminism, Marxist feminism, Masculism, Postmodern feminism, Psychoanalytic feminism, Radical feminism, Separatist feminism, Socialist feminism, Womanism, Religious feminism, Christian feminism, Islamic feminism, Jewish feminism, Post-Christian Feminism, Classical liberalism, Conservative liberalism, Economic liberalism, Liberal feminism, Liberalism, Market liberalism, Neoliberalism, Ordoliberalism, Paleoliberalism, Social liberalism, Agorism, Anarcho-capitalism, Geolibertarianism, Green libertarianism, Left-libertarianism, Libertarian socialism, Libertarianism, Minarchism, Objectivism, Paleolibertarianism, Radicalism, Republicanism, Anarcho-liberalism, Cultural liberalism, Green liberalism, Individualist feminism, Progressivism, National liberalism, Internationalism (politics), Liberal nationalism, Nationalism, Romantic nationalism, Austrofascism, Brazilian Integralism, Clerical fascism, Falangism, Fascism, Greek fascism, Italian fascism, Iron Guard, Japanese fascism, Nazism, Neo-Fascism, Rexism, Ustaše, Zbor, Gaullism, Irish Nationalism and Irish Republicanism, Peronism, Baathism, Zionism, Labor Zionism, Religious Zionism, Revisionist Zionism, African socialism, Arab socialism, Pan-Africanism, Pan-Arabism, Pan-Iranism, Pan-European nationalism, Arab nationalism, Black nationalism, Chinese nationalism, Corporatism, Patriotism, Producerism, National syndicalism, Queer nationalism, White nationalism, Left-wing nationalism, Religious feminism, Religious socialism, Buddhist anarchism, Buddhist socialism, Christian anarchism, Christian communism, Christian democracy, Christian feminism, Christian socialism, Clerical fascism, Dominionism, Liberation Theology, Political Catholicism, Popolarismo, Hindu nationalism, Islamic anarchism, Islamic democracy, Islamic socialism, Islamism, Jewish anarchism, Jewish feminism, Religious Zionism, Khalistan movement, Socialism, Austromarxism, Bernsteinism, Democratic socialism, Fabianism, Reformism, Revisionism, Market socialism,, Neosocialism, Social democracy, Third way, State socialism, African socialism, Arab socialism, Bolivarianism, Labor Zionism, Melanesian socialism, Socialism with Chinese characteristics, Autonomist Marxism, Castroism, Council communism, De Leonism, Eurocommunism, Guevarism, Hoxhaism, Kautskyism, Left communism, Leninism, Luxemburgism, Maoism, Marxism, Marxism-Leninism, Marxist feminism, Marxist humanism, Neo-marxism, Orthodox Marxism, Situationism, Anti-Revisionism (or Stalinism), Titoism, Trotskyism, Western Marxism, Anarcho-syndicalism, Collectivist anarchism, Communist Anarchism, Eco-socialism, Social anarchism, Social ecology, Individualist anarchism, Mutualist anarchism, Distributism, Guild socialism, Libertarian socialism, National Socialism, Syndicalism, Utopian socialism, National Bolshevism ...

See that??? what a soup!!!!!!!!

Lots and lots of bigotted possibilities and offendable's in there then???

I also wonder how many of those ideologies above would sustain without an input of oil???

I read recently that central London, on any given day, has 230+ different languages spoken within it. I wonder how many ideologies that covers?

The present globally succeeding ideology is plainly f***ing us, and I feel right with the world that Jim is offending people. May he continue many years beyond his 62, and offend many many more before he is done ...

~ VF ~

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Vanityfox451
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Posts: 1636
Re: Straight Talk with James Howard Kunstler: "The World is ...

Chris,

Oh yes, H.L.Mencken was a hoot wasn't he?

Right up there for Kunstler to carry the torch further on : -

My senses are telling me that the perpetuity of provocation needs greater involvement than the sharpened proding end of a bluntening stick ...

To Wit ...

Paul

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soulsurfersteph
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Re: Kunstler's Tea Party

Poet wrote:

Here's an example: As a minority living in America, I've experienced the other end of racist and religious supremacy. So in a "shit hit the fan scenario" I'd like to be where there is a large plurality of races and beliefs. Southern California and the Pacific Northwest would be my preferred location and I wouldn't want to be living in certain parts of this country (especially rural, Southern parts) when that time comes.

I'm sorry if I seem prejudiced, but I won't believe you if you tell me people really won't persecute me or my family for racial or religious reasons in a time of deep economic and social breakdown. If you're part of the majority, it's simply not a worry for you. If you're part of the minority, it's not just a worry, it may become a life or death decision and you simply can't afford to rely on verbal assurances or faith in humanity. If we could rely on that, a lot of folks here wouldn't have guns for self defense, right?

Having lived in Southern California for many many years, I will agree with you on the diversity there. The Pacific Northwest, not so much. I lived in Seattle for a year after living in Los Angeles for a while, and I was completely struck by how "white" Seattle was. Sure, there is a large crop of Asians/East Asians living on the east side working for Microsoft, but very few blacks and even fewer hispanics. This may have changed since 2003 but I doubt by much. Part of the reason why I moved back to SoCal after a year in Seattle is that I missed authentic Mexican food. Try to find a real taco in Seattle - you can't!

My fiance of many years ago was Asian and he grew up in an area of Michigan that was also fairly white and not particularly diverse. He got so used to be around white people that he told me that once he looked in his reflection in a shop window as he was passing by and was reminded (and surprised) that he was not white! His parents moved from Michigan to a very Chinese suburb of Los Angeles...I stayed there for sometime and would go grocery shopping where *I* was the minority and the only white person in the store. It was an interesting experience...though I felt out of place, I never felt hostility or alienation. Just curiosity.

His parents had been transplants from Taiwan. He grew in America and was "American." He had no interest in living in an Asian enclave...but I also doubt he would have felt comfortable living in the South. However, I have to wonder how much of this "meme" of it not being friendly for minorities in the South is self-selective and based on stereotyping of the white people in the South. 

Having just moved to Texas I am once again struck by the number of white people - but I've not met anyone who is a frothing at the mouth bigot and certainly I've met people who are far more enlightened than the Texas stereotypes might suggest. My family (a northern family) was freaking out that I was moving to Texas. They thought I'd be living in redneck land. Well, maybe there are parts of Texas that are redneck land but Austin isn't it.

I have to say honestly that my concern about staying in Los Angeles is that there has been so much stirred up to try to pit race against race lately that I'm not sure if I'd be safe there as a single white female. Part of the reason I get upset at the stereotyping of the "teabaggers" as racist is that I feel it just creates unnecessary racial animosity. It makes minorities suspicious and fearful of white people, when maybe they don't need to be. I remember the riots in 92...I moved there right after. Blacks and Koreans were having a war. Then it was black gangs vs. hispanic gangs. The hispanic handyman who worked on my apartment building was shot in a drive-by in the street next to mine in the 90s...for no good reason other than that he was hispanic.

So what is the purpose of these constant news stories that the Tea Party is "racist"? When, if you look at the demographics of Jon Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity, Stewart's rally was just as white if not more so? I have to wonder if someone is not purposefully trying to start riots and race wars, with the Tea Party people painted as the demons. Maybe that sounds too conspiracy, but in the least, I think wantonly stereotyping a group of people based on race and financial wherewithal is irresponsible. I.e., we should not be bigots and presume that blue collar whites are mindless, hateful morons. It serves no useful purpose, it creates unnecessary racial fears, and demonizes a large segment of America.

JHK has a decent-sized podium and should do better things with it, IMHO.

That said, I do hear what you are saying about wanting to live in a diverse area. While I do understand (though maybe I cannot completely)...it seems like there are self-fulfilling prophecies going on with race in this country with people self-segregating.. Could you find harmony and friends with a group of white southerners? Probably, if you looked and were open. Would you feel as immediately comfortable with them as you might with people from your own socio-ethnic background? Probably not.

What's the solution? I don't know, but I'd like to start with the idea that people are generally well-meaning. Maybe that's naive and idealistic of me, but I think the reverse, i.e., assuming people are hateful, is simply not productive. JHK is being divisive for no good reason than I suspect he's angry and needs a scapegoat, and therefore must blame "crackers" for the fact that his utopian walkable society isn't here yet. Hey, I want a walkable society too, but I see just as many suburbs up north as I do down south.

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Wendy S. Delmater
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Re: Kunstler's Tea Party

Steph, Poet:

South Carolina's population is half black, half white. At least in the region I live in, black or white does not seem to enter into our thought process. It's just not there. Color-blind hiring is the rule around here: it's all based on merit. I think it has a lot to do with the military tradition here: the armed forces were integrated long before the South was. Almost half of the city of Columbia IS Fort Jackson, and nearby Sumter has Shaw Air Force Base. The Marine's Paris Island is off of Beaufort, SC. We have a huge retired military population, too.

There are still racists down here; I met one of my husband's former clients and he warned me off the guy as he was a rabid racist. I think it's significant that the man was from up north. I worked for ten years in NY City. In my experience there are many more racists in the northeast than the southeast. This is why I suggested JHK had been misinformed: sterotypes. My own daughter in law, who is black, will not come down here because she is afraid of dealing with "Southern racism." The northern stuff is a lot worse.  

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