James Howard Kunstler: Uncertainty rules our slide into the dark half of the year

Photo of breadlines during the Great Depression

There will be a Great Re-set, of course, but it’s not exactly the one that Western Civ is blabbering about — a mere shuffling of political and financial protocols. It’s happening with or without “Joe Biden,” the EU, and der Hoch Schwabenklaus, though the aggregate stupidity they represent is surely making the entry process worse.

by James Howard Kunstler:

The Great Re-set is what happens when the business model goes bust for powering the world with oil and other fossil fuels — even if there is quite a bit of all that stuff left in the ground. Years ago, I called it The Long Emergency.

Everything emanates off of that, including the astonishing bouts of mischief made in attempts to work around it, assign the blame for it, grub money off it, and shift the effects of it from one group of people or one region of the world to another. Steve St. Angelo says it neatly: “Energy drives the economy; finance steers it.” That’s so. When the oil business model broke in 2008, industrial society lost its mojo and, after that, finance steered it into a ditch.

The Great Re-Set is an emergent phenomenon. It unspools naturally out of circumstances that reality presents. It goes its own way and we have to adapt to it, like it or not. Is our climate changing? Maybe. But so what? The climate has changed many times since the Bronze Age. If preventing that is actually out of the question, which it is, then what else are you going to do? The answer is: adapt intelligently to new conditions. When you clear away all the mental resistance to that — which amounts to a titanic struggle to keep things just the way they are — you’re going to have to make changes anyway.

Knowing how to invest in oil means not having barrel of it leaking around your home. | By fernost (Self-photographed) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

America was, for a time, the greatest industrial society and now that appears to be over. The disorder in all the moving parts of it is probably too gross to arrest at this point. We shoved it into disorder by making some very bad choices, like getting rid of our factories and squandering our wealth on an absurd suburban living arrangement. Shale oil was a financial stunt to keep our set-up going a little longer. It was part of the colossal debt roll-up — the steering function of finance — that was used to compensate for our actual loss of mojo, and now that gambit has hit the wall. You can’t pretend to issue more debt when everyone knows it can never be paid back.

Jan van Rooyen, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Europe, the old home-base of Western Civ, never got around to shale oil, and its financial structure was such — reckless bond issuance with no fiscal accountability whatsoever — that now it is collapsing faster and worse than America. Europe’s leadership is clearly insane and it will likely be overthrown before long. The foreign minister of Germany, the winsome Annalena Baerbock, promised last week to keep demonizing Russia to support Ukraine’s black hole of racketeering “no matter what my German voters think or how hard their life gets.” Stand by to see how that goes over.

The angst around these circumstances is expressing itself in a generalized political nervous breakdown featuring the sort of tragi-comic behavior previously confined in lunatic asylums. Have you ever seen anything more patently insane than the sexual confusion acted out in American schools? Drag Queen story hours? Litter boxes in the bathrooms for students who identify as “furries”?

That was the funny part. The Covid-19 event is no joke — rather a psychopathic mass murder. Obviously, it was no accident. We have a pretty good idea who made it, and set it loose into the world. And the “vaccine” response looks plainly malevolent at this point. Yet the Covid episode is shot through with mystery. How did all those sedulously trained doctors get so mind-fucked as to persist in saying the “vaccines” were safe-and-effective, when the vaxxes were obviously killing and maiming people? They’re still stuck in that disgraceful posture, busy punishing their colleagues who demur, and dishonoring medicine — not to mention the thousands of public health officials still pushing vaxxes and boosters to this day. We can attribute that to mass formation psychosis, but even that reeks of mystery. Maybe, as the old American hymn goes, farther along we’ll understand why….

Anyway, and in the meantime, we’re obliged to see where all this is taking us and what we have to do about it. The survivors of this disorder will be living in a world of generalized contraction, facing much-reduced standards of living. All the giant enterprises will be gone, including probably the federal USA government as we know it, and all the supports it offered. We’ll be gravely disappointed by the failures of advanced technology to mitigate any of this, and much of that technology will disappear, including reliable electric service and the Internet. Whatever you do will have to be much more local and, in one way or another, these activities will revolve around growing food.

I called it a World Made by Hand in the cycle of four novels I churned out between 2008 and 2017. You can look there for a detailed, graphic description of how this new disposition of things might work. The society depicted is still recognizably an American culture, and the people still find joy, purpose, and meaning in being here on this planet, despite the reduction in comfort and convenience. In many ways, it is a world in recovery from the ravages of the super high velocity way-of-life we’re leaving behind, and because of that, it is shot through with grace. That is our destination.

Keep that in mind — if you still have a mind — as you witness the unravelings ahead. This is not the end of the world or the end of the human project in this world. Not everybody will be violent or insane and the number of reality-based people with their emotional equipment intact will, oddly, grow in proportion as the others depart this plane of existence. For some of us, this is a movie with a happy ending. Make some popcorn while there is still some corn, and some electricity to pop it with.

Wars and Rumors of Wars Title Photo - US Navy Jets against background of storm clouds
James Howard Kunstler is the author of World Made by Hand (The World Made by Hand Novels Book 1) and Living in the Long Emergency: Global Crisis, the Failure of the Futurists, and the Early Adapters Who Are Showing Us the Way Forward and The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America’s Man-Made Landscape.
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