JAMES HOWARD KUNSTLER: IT'S TOO LATE FOR SOLUTIONS
Author and social critic James Howard Kunstler has been one of the earliest, most direct, and most articulate voices to warn of the consequences -- economic and otherwise -- of modern society's profligate wasting of the resources that underlie its growth.
In his new book, Too Much Magic , Jim attacks the wishful thinking dominant today that with a little more growth, a little more energy, a little more technology -- a little more magic -- we'll somehow sail past our current tribulations without having to change our behavior.
Such self-delusion is particularly dangerous because it is preventing us from taking intelligent, constructive action at the national level when the clock is fast ticking out of our favor. In fact, Jim claims that we are past the state where solutions are possible. Instead, we need a response plan to help us best brace for the impact of the coming consequences. And we need it fast.
[We now live in] this weird, peculiar period in American history when the delusional thinking has risen to astronomical levels -- predictably, really -- in response to the stress levels that our society feels. And it is expressing itself as sort of "waiting for Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy" to deliver a set of rescue remedies to us so that we can continue running Wal-Mart, Walt Disney World, Suburbia, the U.S. Army, and the Interstate Highway System by other means. That is the great wish out there. It is kind of understandable, because that is the stuff that we have, and people tend to defend the stuff that they have in any given society and the systems and platforms that they run on. But it is probably a form of collective behavior that is not really going to benefit us very much and really amounts to simply wasting our time, and wasting our dwindling resources, and even our spiritual resources when we could be doing things that are a lot more intelligent.
Here is something I have detected as I travel around the country: There is a clamor for “solutions.” Everywhere I go, people say "Don't be a doomer; give us solutions." And I discovered that the subtext to all that is they really want solutions for allowing them to keep on living exactly the way they are living now. To keep on running Wal-Mart, and keep on running Suburbia, and keep on running the highway system, and the whole kit of parts. And what that really means is that they are looking for ways to add on additional complexity to a society that is already suffering from too much complexity.
So I am trying to propose something a little different. Rather than so-called solutions, I am proposing that we use the term "intelligent responses," which is not so grandiose. It does not come with a whole grab bag of promises that life is actually going to work out exactly the way you wish. A lot of the intelligent responses that we could be making to our predicament would have a lot to do with decomplexifying and with simplifying. But we do not want to do that; we just want to add more complexity, and that is what some of the wishful thinking and vanities about technology are all about.
We are discovering more and more that the world is comprehensively broke in every sphere, and in every dimension, and in every way. The governments in every level are all broke, the households are going broke, the banks are insolvent, the money really is not there. And the pretense that the money is there has been kept going simply with accounting fraud. And accounting fraud really accounts for most of the so-called "innovation" that we chatter incessantly about – this is at the heart of Too Much Magic  and the wishful thinking about technology. We are so intoxicated with this idea that we can create new and wonderful things. And we have absolutely no sense that the new and wonderful things that we created in the money system are destroying the money system.
One of the lessons that used to be at the center of a liberal education, and no longer is, is that life is tragic. And by that I do not mean that happy endings are impossible or that bad outcomes are guaranteed. What I mean is that there are consequences to the things that you do, and that everything has a beginning and a middle and an end. And we have to get real with those.
It seems to me that the whole capital issue is going to accelerate hugely over the summer. I really do not see how the Europeans can get out of the box they are in – it really does not look like they are going to be able to form a European fiscal union. And it really does not look like the Germans are going to be willing to print money into a hyperinflation. And so I think that the disappearance of money is going to accelerate, and it is going to be all getting sucked into a black hole over the next six months. And that is going to be the beginning of a broad-based social awareness of the nature of this problem.
Click the play button below to listen to Chris' interview with James Kunstler (41m:10s):