Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Secular Prophets: Indicant 3

Prophecy is not prediction, it is an "indicant" - two ways of life presented: the blessings or the curses - the "high" road or the "low" road.

The Futility Economy
By James Howard Kunstler article link
on January 4, 2010

Whatever you thought our economy was the past thirty years -- whatever model of it you have in your head -- that is definitely not what we are going back to. ...

Reality is taking us out of that familiar, if sordid, realm, whether we like it or not. Our destination is an everyday economy where you rarely travel far from the place you live, where you have to make provision for you own health, your own old age, your own income, your own diet, your own security, and your own education. If you're really fortunate, some or all of these necessities can be obtained in conjunction with your neighbors in the place where you live -- but don't expect an increasingly mythical federal government to supply any of it. Expect a new and different way of organizing households based on extended families and kinship groups. Be prepared for agriculture to return to the foreground of everyday life, where farming is back at the center of the economy. Think about how you will cultivate your best role in a social network so the things you do will be truly valued by the other people who know you. Learn how to make your own music and write your own scripts. Try to study history. Resist cults. Keep your mind clear and your senses sharp. ...

The Master Wish around the country, including among people who ought to know better, is that we can "solve" our economic problem by finding some other way to run all the cars. Even hardcore environmentalists yammer incessantly about hybrid and "plug-in" cars as the "solution" to our blues. One of Barack Obama's first acts as president was to "save" the giant car companies. This is exactly the kind of signature behavior of a Futility Economy. ...

Given this current state of things, and the current course we're on, my guess is that when the falsity of these ideas and actions are exposed, they will become evident not gradually but very rapidly and shockingly. The people in charge of things will lose their vested legitimacy in a flash, and the institutions they command will become irrelevant overnight. The process would be traumatic for all of us as routines we counted on for a thousand particulars of everyday life vanish or collapse. A Great Indignation will rise across the land over the perceived swindles involved. A lot of effort will go into avenging the swindles instead of rebuilding an economy out of the ashes of futility.

Personally, I would like to see a different outcome. I'd like to see a new birth of intelligence, perhaps in the same way that President Lincoln invoked "a new birth of freedom" after an earlier convulsion in our history. The question is: do we have the resources of national character left to make that happen?

James Howard Kunstler home page


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