As the sucker rally on Wall Street passed the four-week mark, your president, Congressional delegations, and media worked themselves into a lather explaining how a recovery was under way. To which James Howard Kunstler appropriately asks, “recovery to what?”
We’re done with economic growth, forever, on this planet. Any evidence of economic growth will be viewed by oil traders as an opportunity to jack up the price of oil. Oil priced at $147.27 was problematic the last time around, when it produced the Greater Depression, but we can only imagine the outcome when it escalates again. The empire is toast if the price of oil comes close to $150. The first big swing in the price of oil destroyed the financial sector, and it took your pension, the automobile industry, and half the corporations dependent on consumer spending down with it. The big dominoes have yet to fall. Such as, for example, the remaining banks in the world, our entire agricultural sector, and every other entity bigger than the locally owned-and-operated grocery store.
Meanwhile, 19 in 20 people are completely unaware we might have tough sailing ahead. And although most Americans support a wide array of “renewable” energy policies, “half of all Americans could not identify a renewable energy source, nearly 4 in 10 cannot name a fossil fuel, two-thirds overestimate U.S. dependence on Middle Eastern oil, and more than half think that by reducing smog, the United States has gone ‘a long way’ in addressing global warming.” We make sheep look well-informed and introspective. If you’ve been following this blog, at least you know what’s headed our way and, if you’re paying the slightest bit of attention, you’ve started to make other arrangements.
The U.K. Guardian is correctly declaring the death of socialism and capitalism, while pointing out that we’re all neo-cons now and implicitly begging for a redistribution of wealth, from the haves to the have-nots. As if the haves will go along with that old ploy, this deep into the “free-market” system to which we are irrevocably committed. Damned near everybody else is calling for more bailouts, which of course will destroy the vaunted American middle class and all future generations of workers. Not that Americans have noticed, or at least cared, since we still have American Idol on the idiot box.
On the financial front, Moody’s has downgraded the entire United States, even as we take the first real steps toward economic collapse. In a couple years — perhaps less — we’ll look back fondly on trucks delivering groceries and iPods, fossil fuels delivering water to the taps, and the police state delivering security to our neighborhoods. With respect to the daunting cost to the world’s species and cultures, and even to our own species — facing extinction at our own hand — well, we industrial humans couldn’t care less. Extinction has never bothered us before. And apparently it doesn’t now, either. Living in the world is a moral choice. And we’d rather not.
What to do, what to do? TPTB are left with damned few choices, all of them destined to fail. They — meaning we — simply cannot sustain economic growth on a planet with finite resources. That is, we cannot sustain the unsustainable in the face of reality. Not that they — meaning we — will stop trying, mind you: raping the planet in the name of economic growth is all the rage for industrial nations and the people who “run” them.
What to do, what to do? As individuals, of course, we have the same alternatives we’ve always had: living in the world or empire (i.e., living in the world or bust). We can choose to live in large cities, and therefore die in them in the near future, or we can choose to live elsewhere. Living in small towns is inherently more “sustainable” than living in cities, as it always has been. And living in the world is even more durable, as it has been at least since the last Stone Age.
Where do you stick your picket pin? What do you defend, as the industrial age grinds to a halt?