A Tale Of Two Cities: London and Rome

The Anatomy of Collapse

This is how civilization crumbles, my friends: slowly at first then all at once.  It begins with AUSTERITY: first the tax increases and then with cuts to national budgets and the various services provided to the people. This leads to disillusionment and eventual rioting by the populace at the middle and lower economic levels. Street revolts proliferate. Where such rioting leads is the next step in the great unraveling.  Next is a reduction in the rate of sovereign economic growth, also a prime indicator that collapse is on course.  After all, industrial civilization is predicated upon economic growth and expansion.  Contraction is anathema to civilization’s health.  All of this is accompanied by increased measures of security (police and military) along with the restriction of individual rights, ostensibly to maintain the appearance of a civil environment.  But it is all premeditated by those in control to better isolate the haves from the have-nots.  Students, the poor, the elderly, the unions, all likely players in potential revolution or insurrection are isolated and/or jailed.

Well, our civilization is unwinding, and the people are getting mad.  We saw it in spades when it reared its ugly head in Athens, Greece and elsewhere throughout that country, which, with the Greek’s notoriously high level of emotion, is still fuming with signs of revolt.  And nobody really batted an eyelash here in the homeland when Sarkozy deployed his own stormtroopers, the elite National Police Intervention Group, to deal with the youth and trade union protests over the raising of the the retirement age in France’s own foray into national debt reduction.

But, when London announced sweeping austerity measures in late` 2010, unveiling the largest cuts to public spending since World War II in a bid to bring its huge debt burden under control, no one expected the kinds of reactions their country has been witnessing.

The five-year austerity program will cost the nation the loss of half a million public-sector jobs, and will slash social benefits for many millions of Britons.  We saw its beginnings in a student revolt lasting from early November into December over education cuts and adjustments to student costs.  And now, there is rioting in the streets of London and else throughout the country, media-hyped as a racial response to the shooting of a boy in a poor area of town. But, everyone knows it is further evidence of the impact of the austerity plan.

So now, from Rome, we have announcements of major austerity measures for Italy, including tax hikes and reduction in government jobs and services to the public.  It will not be long before we see fighting in the streets of Rome and shortly elsewhere across the boot of Italy as the youthful Italian hotties realize they have to work until their beauty has long since faded. So, while Italy is just beginning to choke down its pasta, and Berlusconi is acting like a wanted criminal, Britain has moved on to incarcerating the young and the restless.

Now we come to the good old USA. What we witnessed this last few months of summer in the nation’s capitol was pure kabuki theatre, a highly stylized dramatic performance intended to soften the blow and potential public reaction to drastic austerity measures planned for the homeland.  The entire fight over increasing the federal debt ceiling and its attachment to deficit reduction is grounded precisely in this, the coming of the American AUSTERITY.  Didn’t you know, the communist Chinese – the very same ones who own our ass – have been demanding American austerity since early this summer. And so Washington will be added to our other two cities, London and Rome, to make it a triumvirate: three of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. The fourth, of course, being Athens.

Our new Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, commissioned in concert with the debt ceiling deal, is the nation’s institutionalization of austerity measures from sea to shining sea.  First will come tax increases on the middle class, and then the cutting of government spending on jobs, services and, no doubt Social Security, Medicare, and more.  The vets, the elderly, the poor, the pensioners, students, and the infirm will be hit the hardest.  It is more kabuki theatre my dear readers, intended to provide the illusion of government working for you as usual.  But don’t be fooled.  They are working to save the asses of their patrons.  The only question is: will the populace rise up as they did in France, Greece, England, and perhaps soon in Italy?  Or will they just roll over and play dead, so that their lords and masters can choke the last breath of life from them without so much as a whimper?

Oh, and just to clarify the final scenes… Bachmann’s in overdrive now that she won the Iowa straw vote for Republicans.  And that sure is a nice makeover they gave the gal since her first interviews with Chris Matthews on Hardball several years ago.  I guess then, Chris did not realize he was interviewing the future of America, the crown of thorns on its imminent demise.  Good morning America, where are you?

106 Responses to A Tale Of Two Cities: London and Rome

  1. pat murphy says:

    The previous post and comments and this post certainly fall into the doom and gloom category (and I am most certainly part of that positioning) and I think an even more broad view can be helpful.

    A very short story. I know a young guy (from my perspective young is anyone under 40 these days lol) who has moved to our area, single, no kids etc. We have huge unemployment problems in our area, always have, and is one reason we retired here. He is determined to find a way to make a good living, is tired of dead end jobs and being literally poor. He can not seem to wrap his mind around the perspective that it probably is not going to happen and being poor (only meeting immediate minimal demands to live and having to expend a lot of human energy to do that) is the most likely outcome of his efforts. I admire his drive to improve his life style and wish him success, but know that it probably isn’t going to happen. From my position, I call this delusional thinking. Sure seems to be a common form of wistful thinking today. He is not interested in learning to be as self sufficient as possible and living minimally. He finds the sophisticated urban living to be desirable, which to a large extent I find to be superficial and arrogant and in denial of what is coming down the road.

    So, those of us in the doom and gloom camp are surrounded by the would be achievers striving to make more money to get a leg up in our stratified society. If we are totally convinced that the real shit hit the fan scenario is about to happen what keeps us going instead of just blowing our brains out? I assert that is hope that it won’t happen as we envisage, our own version of wistful thinking. Otherwise, why continue to fight and rail against the developments we see unfolding? I am in the camp that says that if human kind doesn’t get itself together and learn to live in harmony with our environment that we have no business continuing as a species. If our species is dedicated only to destructiveness what is our future in the end anyway? So I figure there has to be a few old farts around that have seen 50-70 years of change, bothered to read and study history, try and understand the consequences of human activities and draw some conclusions about what has to change and earnestly attempt to impart that to the younger folk. Which in itself may be looked upon as delusions of grandeur and obstinate thinking.

    In going over the previous post’s comments, not much of a sunny view for the future there. So what are you folks doing or striving for? Are you just treading water, waiting for the final wave? Or maybe just taking the position that having a good time till the end is all we have?

    Sandy, I for one really enjoy reading your missives. Keep it up.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Well mr. doom and gloom murphy, I enjoy writing them ;-)

      Why don’t we kill ourselves? Good question. Easy answer… we are terrified to die! Why are we terrified? Because we are historical creatures, and death looms for us as the end of our personal history. That is not a comprehensive answer, but it is cogent.

      What are we trying to achieve, why tread water? Another good question. Maybe just for the intrigue of the spectacle and how it will come down. Maybe to make some difference to our loved ones.

      I keep remember ing the words of a kids song from when I first learned to play guitar in 1964 “Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream; merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream.” Something there rings true; and I am still trying to get my hands around the “gently” suggestion. Maybe when I perfect that (or even make a real stab at it) I will be ready to die. In the meantime, and as a man of 58 years of age, I am raising my two-yer old son (with great imperfection and trepidation on my part), spending time by the river, forest, and dacha with family, writing (trying to get a message out to others) and watching the spectacle… after all vision is our most highly developed sense in this modern world.

      Thanks for sticking with me Pat. sandy

  2. Disaffected says:

    The Joint Select Committee is really a political masterstroke as well. It allows the NutBaggers to dig in and play hardball for political purposes, knowing full well their recommendations will never pass congress, but which then will be in play as political fodder for the 2012 election cycle, while also allowing each side to blame the other for their failure to “get tough” on the budget. I don’t know who came up with the idea (does it really matter? NoBama and the GOP are one and the same now), but it really is a fine example of what Washington pols do best: cover their ass.

    I also noticed last week where Leon Panetta has already come out adamantly against any cuts to Defense whatsoever, so here again we see an actual acceleration of Bush era politics, with the specter of even more foreign wars of occupation always looming ominously, requiring only an easily arranged false flag terrorist incident to justify, especially should budget cut hysteria get too hysterical for comfort.

    Will NoBama win reelection in 2012? Trick question. Better question: Does anyone actually care who wins election in 2012 and does anyone actually think that it matters either way? Obviously the oligarchy has a stake in the matter, but like any good criminal organization, they’ve covered their bets on both sides by first buying influence, and then just buying the lawmakers and the very process itself outright. Well played!

    With a nod toward my doomsday post last week, here’s how my scenario plays out in “MBA speak:”
    Right wing conservative crony capitalist oligarchs have effectively conducted a leveraged buyout of the United States, first by using money to buy influence, then by actually infiltrating and capturing the government itself. Since the US government is the source of the world’s default currency money supply, it represents nothing less than the ultimate prize for any criminal organization. Once the coup was complete, all the various “efficiencies” to increase profitability were implemented.

    Social programs, always a drain on resources began to be first curtailed severely, and then implemented altogether. Historical promises to pay, such as Social Security and Medicare, were repudiated outright (while still maintaining their tax collection revenues for as long as possible), using such clever tactics as pitting the generations against each other. Defense, the enforcement and resource acquisition arm of the new plutocratic elite, was actually expanded both in size and cost (high tech and outsourcing) throughout the whole process, and justified as an employment program for the idle youth who now had nothing productive to do anyway.

    Once the efficiency phase had played itself out, the ultimate goal of all capitalist oligarchs was put into play: downsizing, elimination, and liquidation to extract all remaining profits. Whole government agencies were targeted here, with a strong focus on enforcement and regulatory agencies without obvious profit potential for outsourcing. The USPS, EPA, FDA, USDA, HHS, IRS, SS, and MC administrations were glaring examples of the the former, while ATF, DoD, NSA, INS, DHS, CIA, and FBI were all examples of productive agencies that could be successfully harnessed as profit centers for private interests owned by the oligarchy.

    With downsizing and elimination mostly complete, the liquidation of remaining assets commenced in earnest. Public buildings and infrastructure were stripped of all their remaining value and then auctioned off in lots to “private investors,” aka the oligarchy themselves and their friends, thereafter to be leased (with suitably high profit margins), rented, or otherwise charged on a per use basis back to their original owners, the public.

    Liquidation of the public itself proved to be a little more time consuming and troublesome, but oligarchs being oligarchs, they proved to be more than up to the task. In addition to the military – always a coldly efficient human eliminator – healthcare costs were allowed to skyrocket in the face of massive benefit cuts, unemployment, and falling wages. Expensive medical procedures became downright unaffordable for the masses, with even routine checkups and care eventually falling by the wayside as well. Suicide rates soared among all age groups, but especially the elderly, who were now routinely targeted by groups of hostile unemployed youth, who now saw their future in the plight of the destitute aged. Drug enforcement lapsed and alcohol and drug abuse were given tacit approval in clear recognition that they both pacified the restless masses, while greatly accelerating their ultimate demise as well.

    And finally, police actions of greatly expanded scope and magnitude – many of them false flag – became routine as well. Whole city boroughs became targets for liquidation, whether based on actual threats or not. As the paranoia such incidents engendered began to escalate among the population, they essentially became a self-fulfilling prophecy, with government clamp downs leading to terrorist responses, followed by more government clamp downs. The race to the bottom had officially begun, and no one who lived through it – not even the plutocratic elite – could possibly doubt it.

  3. Disaffected says:

    Uh oh, missed a closing tag…

  4. Pat Murphy says:

    Sandy,

    The terrified to die answer is interesting to me. I recognize it as the intrusive thought most humans carry around. I only partially understand it. Based on religion? Particularly Christianity’s propaganda on the judgment and retribution of an unsatisfactory life? I like the Indian warriors response, “Today is a good day to die”. Lakota Sioux I think. Although there are disclaimers as to what it really means.

    I agree that the spectacle unfolding is intriguing and my curiosity as to how it will all come down would keep me going all by itself. But I do quest for more reason than that alone. I’ve sort of settled on two parts. Doing what I enjoy doing and being around with information in the hope that there is enough value in human existence to justify its continuation. For most of society, “doing what you enjoy doing” is becoming near impossible because most of it depends on abundant input of money. It will be a great adjustment to do it different.

    At 70 yr old I have seen a huge change in American society, for that matter, world wide also. Some I find intriguing, most seems superficial and ultimately damaging. What those significantly older than myself have seen in changes must be overwhelming.

    Because of human desires and behaviors, it sure appears to me that any resemblance to the status quo is impossible to maintain, thus more huge changes coming, focused on decreasing standard of living (convenience and decrease of human labor) and we might as well start now and avoid the rush. What the people in high population densities are going to do about it all will be interesting to watch.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Pat -
      Yes, we agree; it is an interesting show. But, I think the desires and behaviors you speak about here are more recent acquisitions, honed over the past 6 millennia of civilization, and perfected during the industrial and digital age. The habits we’ve acquired are deeply embedded, but they are not permanent, nor natural to the species IMHO. But, they are near impossible to escape fully. They are the “human nature” we have created.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Pat – when history was born, the future emerged and quickly became problematic. And as we focus ever more on that future, we realize that the big event is personal mortality — that one day I will die. The end of history (my personal history). That is a frightening prospect for most everyone. But the terror of history and the fear of death which accompanies it is made increasingly central in our reflection by the various doctrines of the world religions that preach salvation v. eternal damnation … by and large, these are the abrahamic faiths (judaism, christianity and islam). But, it will get increasingly difficult for some of us to live out our lives given the adjustments I think are coming soon down the pike. We all shall see.

  5. Brutus says:

    Disaffected, your comments are longer than the subject posts, not that I don’t enjoy your jeremiads.

    I’ve been warning of the coming Age of Austerity for a while (which I suspect will be brief because most of us won’t live through it), but it doesn’t really matter. Seeing it coming or denying the tsunami as it approaches won’t do anything to forestall nearly everyone experiencing it first hand. It’s all just too big by now. And as I reinforced in a comment at Morris Berman’s blog (Dark Ages America after the book of the same name), nothing beyond sheer survival is as important as having an educated guess or meaningful interpretation of events. I don’t pretend to be clear-eyed about most things, as objective truth is difficult to come by, but a meaningful interpretation is among the few options left to us still worth the struggle. Ironically, everyone else is also straining for their own meaningful interpretation, often laden with delusions and magical thinking. My own interpretations may be no better.

    • Disaffected says:

      I know. No one’s ever accused me of being brief.

    • Disaffected says:

      Brutus,
      I think the only delusion at this point, whether it be green, techno-triumphant, space-based, a religious rapture, or whatever, is that things are ever going to be “all right” again in their current configuration. Americans have the luxury of holding the silly belief that “things will get better, they always do.” Always spoken like the first world aristocrats that we have become. This time will be different however, and only the foolish and the marginally rich can even still deny it. Unfortunately for them, as austerity measures work their way up the economic ladder (and that’s exactly what they’re designed to do), eventually even the oligarchs will realize they’ve overplayed their hand. As you say, putting the brakes on this process is no longer even an option. The deal has been sealed and we’re all in for the carnival ride of our lives in the coming few years.
      DA

    • kulturcritic says:

      So Brutus, do you buy into DA’s afflicted version (interpretation) of events, the coming tsunami? Is there anything magical about his thinking on this point?

      • Brutus says:

        There is nothing implausible about Disaffected’s version of the future. So yeah, sure, I’m on board. I hate to sound like a conspiracy nut, but the stuff about false flag operations leading to a vicious cycle in particular catches my eye. However, Disaffected projects more agency onto events than I would. Specifically, the last two paragraphs describe the biggest genocidal project yet undertaken, with the liquidation of the population being the ostensible goal. But for what? What’s the motivation? I posed the question in a blog post called Ruling Over Squalor but honestly still can’t quite get my head around the prospect of the oligarchy actively seeking to destroy the great unwashed masses and ultimately the world. Maybe it’s another round of mass psychopathy.

        My own version of the future is only a little tamer. Basically, it’s that we lack the adaptive foresight to alter our course but can only double down, sinking our remaining time and energy into the lost cause of propping up industrial civilization until the whole stinking heap of interconnected, hypercomplex machinery that keeps it running finally seizes up, probably for lack of money, though, not lack of resources, at which point everyone sorta looks dumbly at each other and wonders aloud, “well, what now?” The basic services we’ve taken for granted all our lives sputter or blink out (tap water, live electrical wire, heating and cooking gas, and of course, food and news distribution). We’re left with the sudden realization of our social isolation, making mutual reliance flatly impossible. Instead, every other living, breathing person represents a direct threat to our own immediate survival because they’re all competing for the same few remaining stores. It won’t take long then to grind people down to feral barbarity.

        Come to think of it, maybe that’s what TPTB are trying to avoid, at least for themselves: being reduced to animals fighting over scraps. They can continue for a little while in their gated communities, behind their compound walls, and aboard their floating fortresses to sip their wine and enjoy their music, assuming they aren’t quickly overrun by lynch mobs and hungry hordes (looking more like zombie attacks — the fast, organized type — than anyone would care to admit).

        Frankly, I don’t really know what future scenario to fear most or to hope for, as they all have the same ultimate story line. And of course, they are contingent on our not launching into resource wars and then losing control of the football, i.e., blowing the entire planet to radioactive smithereens because it just won’t matter anymore to bother trying to preserve our final shred of humanity. It will already have been lost.

        • kulturcritic says:

          Brutus – generally, I think your understanding of the situation is more plausible; they have no other solution but to “double down” However, I do believe that much of what is unfolding is simply a matter of ignor-ance; Just ignore the problems that are not in your area of expertise; let the other experts figure out that piece; just keep doing your job. There is also alot of wishful (hopey) thinking among the big boys as well… There is probably no conspiracy per se, but alot of maneuvering to ensure that resources wind up in my lap and not someone elses. And maybe a thought to thinning out the ranks of the small folks to better save what is left.

          • Anarchrist says:

            I second that Brutus, your analysis is roughly what instinct tells me right now. Also as Sandy says here, we are such a stratified and fragmented society that there are few ‘big picture’ types really looking clearly at things, much talent is being wasted on magical thinking (denial) by clever people who deal with a very narrow field of expertise and though they are no doubt aware of wider issues they would generally be considered ‘not my problem’.

            I also have to say the zombie point is spot on, something I alluded to myself just recently, whereby a real fear exists in people that ‘flash mobs’ or whatever may turn on them and their private homes etc. in frenzied attacks, of course this was actually happening in London last week. Movies like the remake of Dawn Of The Dead really tap into this dormant fear, and even more so books such as The Zombie Survival Guide while clearly written as satire read awfully like a halfway-serious manual for surviving the end of the civilised world. I’m sure this is why the zombie genre is particularly popular at this time; it is a sideways outlet for supressed awareness of the alienation and crushing paranoia of tightly-packed urban living and unstable social conventions, the fear that everyone is out to get (in this case literally consume) you and your loved ones. For my part I’ve been riddled with ‘zombie paranoia’ for years, on some fundamental level I dislike cities and abhor large crowds, even a busy supermarket makes my skin crawl. It took a long time to understand and for a while I thought I just didn’t like people, but it’s not even that, it’s simply ‘the mob’. You can know and trust many people, but you can never trust a mob because its limits are seldom as clearly defined as the sum of its individual ‘parts’.

            Which brings me to my final point, which is that I imagine mass organised extermination to be patently unnecessary – because most people would simply die within weeks of the supermarkets becoming empty – not to mention expensive/unworkable, because it would give the populous something to rail and organise against and thus cost too much. I can credibly foresee a process of abandonment of the urban wasteland and a cordoning-off of key assets/productive regions, so there’s some potential for eviction/liquidation of unwanted dissidents in these places, but that traffic is unlikely to be one-way, so I’d imagine we will be mostly left to our own devices; to die of starvation/thirst/exposure and to lessen our numbers with the aforementioned feral barbarism and in-fighting all the while. Can anyone tell me if this is more or less bleak of a view? I can’t be sure, it’s really only what my gut tells me at this time and I’m aware of having very little say in the matter. So what I’d say Brutus is that you (we all) need to show some courage in our convictions and at least try to influence our own personal piece of this story in whatever way is practical. Step 1: if you live in a large city, consider leaving it.

            • kulturcritic says:

              AC – bleak is a relative term. But, I think you are right about thinning out the herd; just open the doors to the slaughter house and they will come a runnin. No need for plan mass execution: that is too old school fascist. I think Hedges is right; just turn up the volume on the advertising, and they will walk to their deaths of their own accord – Chris called it inverted totalitarianism. Although he also said they would use heavier handed tactics when called for, and I think we are seeing alot of that already (Patriot Act, HL Security, etc).

              • Anarchrist says:

                Talk of extra curfew powers in urban area codes here already, saw use of big Ford F450 derived Jankel armoured vans last week to break barricades etc. so no question there are already new police powers on the table as a result of this recent upset. Also, seriously disproportionate and harmful sentencing is happening in the courts in an effort to make examples: a mother of two given six months for accepting a gift of stolen shorts (she wasn’t even there!) and told that she was ‘a bad example’ to her children. The courts, which are sitting 24hrs right now, are also going after parents because the kids are too young to incarcerate, some 1300 court hearings and counting since the trouble began.

        • Disaffected says:

          >Specifically, the last two paragraphs describe the biggest genocidal project yet undertaken, with the liquidation of the population being the ostensible goal. But for what? What’s the motivation?<

          To free up the already scarce resources going forward (food, water, energy, land) that they would otherwise consume, to dampen dissent and terrorize the remaining population into acquiescing to the "plan," and to assume any remaining assets owned by those thus liquidated – same as the Nazis.

          • Disaffected says:

            It’s also good training for the shock troops, as well as consuming expensive (read: profitable) military “consumables,” aka bombs, artillery rounds, jet fuel, and bullets. You gotta think this thing through like a real capitalist!

          • StrayCat says:

            Yes, freeing up resources as well as getting the world population down to the labor numbers needed to work the robotized factories and farms. This also reduces demands on social programs and infrastructure. It appears the the right wing and the corporatists have agreed on this path to a new balance, one governed by religio/political fascists. And, no, it doesn’t have to be a preset conspiracy, but only a circumstantial one that encourages processes underway and limits other processes that tend in a different direction.

        • Disaffected says:

          I think where we really differ and why I do project agency on the oligarchy, is that they have now, over the past two years in particular, demonstrated that they do get it, and that our current suicidal course is not merely a miscalculation at all, but a concerted effort at global consolidation. All of my predictions are based on the simple premise of what would I do if I were in their shoes and operating from their assumptions. I give them great credit for being tremendously “intelligent” and correctly aligning their actions with their beliefs. As Noam Chomsky or Howard Zinn said (I’m paraphrasing), the war on the middle class (the lower classes aren’t even deserving of having a war declared on them) has been going on for decades now. Trouble is, only one side realizes that they’re in a war in the first place. Exactly according to plan.

          With the coming of NoBama however, nobody who doesn’t want to should suffer this delusion anymore. He’s the clearest sign yet the the whole shebang has been compromised, and that we now essentially live under a fascist puppet regime, with all the real power being exercised somewhere and by someone else. Sure, the velvet glove is still on… for now. Won’t be long now until the iron fist is exposed with great fanfare for one and all to see.

        • Disaffected says:

          Brutus,

          I read your link to to Ruling Over Squalor. This statement in particular stuck out: I’ve heard several CEOs say in interviews that it’s no longer about the money, that it becomes about the game.

          Actually, I’ve heard several quasi-rich people I know say the same thing, and it really should surprise no one at all, since that same saying/mentality has already been popularly depicted in the movie Wall St and its sequel.

          Perhaps the movie or similar has caused us to doubt the veracity of such an off-hand comment? Let me assure you that for those who hold such a belief it is no joke whatsoever. Hyper-wealth (admittedly, a relative term) causes people to become very strange creatures indeed. As much as I bag on religion (and for the most part deservedly so!), this might be one of the few cases where a grounding in something is justified, as the nouveau riche are more often than not INDEED in need of grounding wherever they can find it.

          DA

  6. John Bollig says:

    The nutbaggers, the corporatists and their underlings will soon reap what they sow. We all may die a horrid death but at least they will die also… The budget cuts are coming down the pike will just wipe the board clean…..

    • kulturcritic says:

      More magical thinking? Who will sow the first wave?

    • StrayCat says:

      I’m not in agreement with this. The corporatists have the police, the army and connections to resources that the rest of us do not have. They expect to survive the first wave of crazy, and remain able to withstand the lesser waves as the energy diminishes over time. They may be right on this. Unless we have resources of our own that are not encumbered or stolen. Time is short.

      • kulturcritic says:

        Given our general acquiescence in the USA, there may be no time for us. Although, I was marginally encouraged by the nurses, of all people, protesting across the country on Sept 1st.

  7. Brian says:

    “Or will they just roll over and play dead”.

    Sandy,
    Well, I’m not sure if there is any reason to expect that we will do anything other than the latter. Our position as an empire still gives most of our fellow citizens the illusion that everything will work out.
    Thanks as always for a nice post.
    Brian

  8. kulturcritic says:

    Just reflecting upon the Iowa caucus; does the American public know no limits to the bullshit they will tolerate. Have they not heard countless other candidates talk about jobs, etc?

    • Disaffected says:

      From personal experience (I’m from there) I can tell you that the people of Iowa have pretty much adopted the same fateful attitude as the livestock they raise: they’re headed for the slaughter house and they know it, so why not just relax, get fat, and enjoy the fucking while it lasts.

      • kulturcritic says:

        I hear that clearly, DA

        • StrayCat says:

          Yes, the felt helplessness and ennui are remarkable over the entire spectrum of society and geography. How different from the people in Egypt, Syria and Libya. And from the young people of Spain, Greece and Italy. Have the plastic remains in our food and wayer so sapped our wills that we are like the Roman upper class, ennervated by lead in the blood? Or is the Today Show enough to rob our fellow citizens of the power to think and plan? Or just two elements of a suicidal social and industrial brew that we swill daily?

  9. John Bollig says:

    Sandy,
    The simple fact is that the job situation is going to get worse and worse and worse. The nutbaggers don’t have a paln. Nobama certainly doesn’t have a plan, and the corporate plans are slavery for all. The game is up and the show is not going on. My concern going forth is for a year of dealing with massive death. At the disability caucus, the old welfare mentality was still in evidence as speaker after speaker called for tax increases and more social services. My only consolation was at least the disabled people had a good time for two days. The fact is that disabled individuals need to understand that they will shortly be cut off of medicare, medicaid and social security. What time is left to enjoy our lives is going to end very quickly.

  10. kulturcritic says:

    UPDATE TO MY READERS!! FORBIDDEN!!

    It appears as though James Kunstler has blocked my access to his site, ClusterfuckNation. If that turns out to be the case, then we know that Jim cares primarily about his own personal aggrandizement. I hope i am wrong about this, but every approach I make to his site, from my different computers and browsers tell me that “I don’t have permission to access” the site. I am FORBIDDEN! Sounds to me like ole Jimbo is just one of the USA elite trying to fuck over the smaller guys and make as much personal headway as he can to stay safely sealed off in his fortress while we all rot in hell. Good luck with that Jim!! May your god bless you and yours!! KC

    • Disaffected says:

      Are you sure kC? His site is renowned for fucking up: dropping posts, inexplicably blocking comments and commenters etc. His comment board is nothing but a freak show anyway. Every manner of goofball posting racist shit and everything else. I usually just read his posts and then skim the comment board for laughs a few times a week. Not much of substance going on over there.

      • kulturcritic says:

        Let me put it this way. No matter how I try and enter the site from my home on three different computers, 3 different browsers; it says I am forbidden to enter. I cannot even read the posts.

        • Hasdrubal Barca says:

          That does seem strange. I’ve heard of people being banned from posting comments, but not being forbidden from accessing the site. The site might be blocked regionally or nationally by censors, which is quite common On the other hand, your site gets much closer to the truth of the matter, so I’d wonder why it’s still up and running if that the case.

          Jim doesn’t have anything new to say anyhow. Same old schtick. Amusing imagery and play on words with last week’s current events.

    • Brutus says:

      I read ClusterfuckNation and have noticed that you try to be among the first ten or so responders every week. A crowd of self-promoters has formed there whom I find rather distasteful. I’ve mentioned on other blogs that I don’t generally participate in discussions if the blogger either doesn’t participate him- or herself or doesn’t moderate comments that are clearly spammy and out of control. So your inability to self-promote there for whatever reason is IMO no loss.

  11. Anarchrist says:

    Hi KC and all, as you know I don’t live in or near London but as the shit was erupting all over England I thought you might appreciate my perspective as a UK mainlander. The following is part of a comment I posted on the blog of an English author who recently had published a book about the demonization of the working class here in the UK, after I saw the guy get into an argument with a rather bigoted and foolish TV historian on a television debate. It does little but state the obvious as far as you people are concerned, but as I’d already written it I thought I’d get some extra mileage out of it here…

    “Look on it this way: we (our society/media) markets direct, hard and fast to these kids from the moment their eyes can focus on the TV screen, happily filling their developing minds with fantastical hopes and rather more importantly, wants. This process of consumer indoctrination has been going on uncontested for at least thirty years now, and if anything the methods are more refined and insidious than ever; literally everything has become a potential commodity (with consequent stock/derivative value) and as such all modes and fashions are becoming ‘product’, even antisocial behaviour itself. Indeed it isn’t black culture, or even ghetto culture that is at the root of this ‘sick society’ that Cameron references with aloof disgust, it’s an artificial construct that equates in direct measurable terms to tradable stocks and corporate profits.

    Because we ourselves are products of this ‘norm’ most of the time we don’t even question its validity. We were all good with Apple Bottoms and Pimp Juice while the markets boomed and credit was cheap, because all this sanctioned counter-culture was apparently manageable (and profitable), but what we are finding out in this increasingly credit-constrained world is that cultural conditioning can’t be simply ‘switched off’ and just because the economy is steadily imploding doesn’t mean you can tell a generation born to want that there is no more ‘free’ money, and that all the trappings they crave are suddenly off the table.

    So now we arrive at the other half of the problem; shifting paradigms. We are in the process of discovering the true ‘running costs’ of our society, on every level from environmental to financial to social, now we get to watch helplessly as the underpinning infrastructure buckles under the collective weight of our wants and needs because no-one wants to pay the overdue maintenance bills. Those who can won’t – the super-rich literally own our mechanisms of finance and governance, so who is going to make them? Meanwhile they are literally and figuratively running for the hills with whatever solid assets they can muster – And those who can’t pay because they have nothing, our ‘hopeless underclass’ of miscreants and benefit claimants, well they will do as scapegoats now won’t they?

    The severity of this situation transcends political divisions like ‘left vs. right’ at this point, there is simply no distance between them. I completely understand when you say you fear the ‘rise of the righteous right’, but you are missing the mark. This is simply a process of disillusionment during which we are witnessing unmasking of a long-standing elite agenda, thirty years of shock-doctrine culminating in the world you now see. I posit that party politics represent a mere distraction from this uncomfortable spectacle rather than a conduit of participation in it. Now as attentive people look on in horror at the gap between reality and our leaders’ current doctrine, those of us with the gumption can see that the hegemony of our time will protect only itself and its key assets, and at virtually any cost to wider society. Of course the political point-scoring will continue amid jostling to see who gets to preside over this mess but the overarching agenda is only nominally set by those we elect.

    Meanwhile, publicly demonising these hooded rioters is just an easy way to turn frightened plebs against one another while white-collar criminals in the financial district continue steadily extracting the real loot from sovereign states such as ours. We also see media coverage seeding populist consent for more extreme forms of social control, be it yet more CCTV, comprehensive ID databases, or just your Blackberry turning Judas. Sadly, new and radical police powers and tactics are also a veritable certainty, because how else can a shrinking force achieve ‘more with less’ right when unrest is spreading and deepening? Less real policing, more use of heavy-handed ‘crowd control’, water cannon, rubber bullets – these are all strong possibilities going forward. I’m with you that it is worrying because it may not stop there, when furious reactionary residents start openly saying things like ‘bring in the military’ and ‘gas them all’ people should prick up their ears – we all need to watch what we wish for because we are collectively playing with fire.”

    A caveat: Please bear in mind this piece was an effort to reach out to what I’d consider a left-of-centre English ‘mainstream’ mentality who truly have no fucking idea what they are looking at – the riots were sparked by the fatal shooting on Tuesday 4th of a young black man by armed police, so there is debate about racial prejudice being the root of the problem, thus clouding the bigger picture as racial issues are so primed and loaded. Of course this was not really intended for Sandy’s jaded readership, as such I’m sure you can all find fault with it, but consider it was written so as not to alienate ‘regular’ people with overly far-reaching, complex or scary conjecture. The following links are also relevant to the topic…

    http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/London+rioters+resent+media+image+hooded+teen+thug/5233682/story.html

    http://uk.reuters.com/article/2011/08/09/uk-britain-riot-contrast-idUKTRE7785XQ20110809

    http://technology.inquirer.net/3409/media-watchdog-upset-as-blackberry-helps-british-police/

      • Disaffected says:

        Yes, there are “side effects” related to mass insanity. Welcome to just the beginning of the War of All Against All. Did anyone seriously think any of it was going to make sense? That’s the beauty of it! Shame on you!
        DA

    • kulturcritic says:

      Anarchrist – Extremely well articulated piece of reflection on the problems attending collapse in Britain. thanks for sharing it here. I will check your links later. Sorry I did not approve it earlier (it was moderated because of the three links) but I was without internet for 24 hours, in the forest. best, sandy

      • Anarchrist says:

        I appreciate the compliment Sandy (and I suspected as much about the delay), your own influence (on writing style as well as ideas) is is undoubtedly at work in there.

        As for the forest, I’d say the benefits of living on the fringes generally outweigh the difficulties, that’s certainly true here, but I do have a question about your other internet-related problems: is it at all possible that your ISP or some other content filter is blocking Kunstler’s site? Is that sort of censorship likely? I’m not suggesting anything, I’m just considering all possibilities.

        • kulturcritic says:

          AC –

          Interesting question. But it is a private ISP company (Intelleca). And Russia, in fact, is probably more open in many ways than America and Europe. It is like they just woke up from a long sleep. Also, I have had no problems with Kunstler’s site for the past 7 months. And, besides, he criticizes the USA, so there is no reason there would be censorship on this end. Although, it does say there is a server issue. Whose I don’t know. Anyway, here is the Error message I receive:

          Forbidden

          You don’t have permission to access / on this server.

          Additionally, a 403 Forbidden error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.

          Apache/2.0.63 (Unix) mod_ssl/2.0.63 OpenSSL/0.9.8e-fips-rhel5 DAV/2 mod_auth_passthrough/2.1 mod_bwlimited/1.4 FrontPage/5.0.2.2635 Server at http://www.kunstler.com Port 80

          • Anarchrist says:

            I take your point about censorship, Britain is certainly way less free than ‘it’ likes to think. Perhaps it’s just some bizarre blip, or possibly he (or some other admin) has just arbitrarily banned a load of regular linkers and you’re on the list? Either way it’s not a huge loss to yourself, his writing is ‘piquant’ as Brutus put it, but lacking in substance or progession – I personally have only so much stomach for repetetive ranting and sneering without conclusion, it’s not so good for the soul.

          • Hasdrubal Barca says:

            I’m no techie, but I did a little research about blocking one’s access to a website. It may be a temporary server issue or maybe Jim’s webmaster blocked the entire country. With Apache, It’s fairly easy to block a single IP address, or a large range of IP addresses. If he blocked you singly, you should have gained access on another computer and then, if he wanted to block you individually, he would have had wait until you popped up and left some sort of evidence it was you-and then block that IP address . However, if a website becomes inundated with spam from a certain country, the webmaster can deny access to the whole range of IP addresses assigned to that particular country.
            You might have been caught up in that mix, so we might give him the benefit of the doubt. On top of that, Jim has commented favorably on your blog, so who knows?

            • kulturcritic says:

              HB

              Well, I was getting about 1000 page views every monday from his site; he can monitor that sort of activity if I am not mistaken (just as I can on my site). He may have decided I was taking too many of his regular readers. Who knows?

              It’s all good.

            • kulturcritic says:

              Update on my deal with Kunstler!!

              I was at a wireless cafe today in Barnaul, and got right on to his site. So, somehow he is blocking the service provider for my home connection. Anyway, that is what it seems. Will know more when I return home later today and try getting on again.

              …. later at home. Yep, that’s what he did; he blocked my ISP server. So he is serious about silencing my voice; wonder why?

  12. John Bollig says:

    Sandy,

    I suppose that ole Jim is just a pig like the rest of the liberal establishment, trying to find ways to rip us off. In many ways, events have gone far to fast and furiously to allow a once a week columm on the vaious collapses of a dying imperial dream called pax americana. Your questions are more valid anyway and his myopic upper New York / New England perspective is a big problem. Simply put, Jim doesn’t speak for us. As we collapse into a whirlwind of a dying empire, the survival instincts of the elite becomes apparent.

    1. information control
    2. fortress mentality
    3. Alliances of Necessity
    4. Selling Out

    Jim, like many of his elite liberal crowd has throw their lot with the local establishment and their police forces. My defintion of a conservative is a scared liberal sell out that realizes that his principles mean nothing in the modern mayhem of the dying empire. Liberals will trade their liberty for security and will find it wanting. All roads lead to slavery, Sandy. It is just a matter of who is on the pecking order of life. As for myself, I realize the end is near and am planning accordingly. We need to have a chance to survive this hurricane of death and I think we may have found it.

  13. Disaffected says:

    Kunstler is in rare form today:

    > Looking every inch the Assistant Manager of a J.C. Penny, Rick Perry of Texas stepped on-board the touring evangelical freak show that the Republican pre-primary parade has turned into. I like to think of him as George W. Bush without all the encumbering intellect. Meanwhile, the other day poor Mitt Romney tried to explain to a crowd of Iowa hot-heads that “corporations are people!” Wasn’t that just the right thing to say to folks whose employment opportunities have dwindled down to eviscerating chickens on an assembly line or humping boxes on the WalMart loading dock for $8 an hour.<

    When the going gets weird, the weird go pro
    Hunter Thompson

  14. John Bollig says:

    Humm, Interesting from an englishman that he says what he says.

    However, the real issue is food security. The only way that any of the elite can ever hope to survive is by food security. So, in comes serfdom.

    • Anarchrist says:

      Oh dear me no, not English, mostly raised in northern Scotland in fact so a small, stubborn part of me feels the need to spit the ‘E’ word. I live in Cornwall, which could be described as south west England, but has all the culture and attitude of a separate country (complete with Gaelic-dervied language), so the independent celtic spirit blends well enough with my Scottish background. This part of the UK has been ‘peopled’ for well over 5000 years, it is largely quiet, undeveloped and predominantly rural and the people are welcoming, practical and laid-back. My mother is an american however and I spent my early life in northern California, occasionally working/touring in the US on and off over the years since. The old man is from northern Ireland, he grew up in Belfast back when it looked rather like Baghdad does now, but had the sense to leave as soon as he was able. So in truth I’m not really anything, a mongrel really, but definitely would not describe myself as English.

      You are right in what you say about serfdom, or at least the potential for it, but I’m thinking that’s more a longer term prospect, rather than a near-future likelihood as discussed above.

      • Disaffected says:

        Sounds like a pretty good life you’ve got there AC. We Americans are definitely prone to projecting our problems on the rest of the world (And why not? We’re an imperialist power now for God’s sake! We’re used to projecting everything!). We’re very US-centric over here, aren’t we? Fact is, many isolated parts of the world will likely escape much of the trauma we’re almost certain to experience over here in the next 5-10 years. Poetic justice, that. After all, we’re the ones inflicting most of the current trauma on everyone else.

        • Anarchrist says:

          I think as a nominal ‘Brit’ with a lot of US experience I see more clearly than most just how much the UK has become the 51st state in my lifetime (though obviously it started before that). We are still at it with great aplomb – aping the USA’s anti-terror agenda and dabbling with costly foreign ‘engagements’, while further deregulating destructive practices like legalised loan-sharking – and so it goes on.

          While I do love living here on the edge of Britain, I can’t pretend it’s all rosy down here either; while Cornwall is for the most part quiet due to its physical isolation (at end of a peninsular) the population actually doubles during the peak summer vacation weeks. Locals call it ‘silly season’, and refer to the tourists as ‘emmets’ (Cornish for ants) with good reason as they seem to consume everything going, including the property. I also live pretty close to a large military helicopter base, so the airspace can get busy. A lot of construction up there recently too as they are building hangars like it’s going out of fashion. I personally think they are bracing themselves for money getting tighter, spending while they can and preparing for leaner times as budgets are already being slashed. In the long run I imagine the place could end up as something of a ghost-town when the cheques stop coming, not least because of the substantial civilian contingent employed there.

      • StrayCat says:

        I suspect that the fear of lack of employment and loss of social cohesion will result in serfdom as an accepted economic situation fairly soon, though in stages, and with different names. Self employed contract workers will devolve into under the table workers without unemployment or Social Security contribution, leavened by initial higher net paychecks, which will disappear after the regulatory and enforcement mechanisms have been sufficiently trashed. Then, as the economy allows less and less labor and social mobility, serfdom, by another name will become a patriotic duty required to save the American (or whatever) dream. The many will sacrifice for the few. And John Locke, Jefferson and Madison, among othere will vanish from history.

  15. kulturcritic says:

    AC – for a 32 year old you are awfully reflective and well spoken. Can’t say I’ve seen much of that in the USA. What was your educational training, anyway? Just curiosity. And, I must admit, spending lots of time away from the USA, gives you an awfully clearer picture of the situation and the trajectory.

    • Anarchrist says:

      Well I thank you Sandy, coming from a man with your credentials that appraisal carries significant weight. In return, the highlights of my educational history…

      If I’m able to make myself understood I have my mother to thank for that, she was an English teacher and to this day she cannot help but correct my grammar in conversation. Her own mother was of Scots descent and her father’s family were very recent Azorean immigrants (Portuguese). So a proper cultural mishmash to say the least, I did mention that I’m a mongrel, right?

      As far as formal education that’s a fairly long story, involving me dropping out of every course, degree or training program I ever attended due to my own disillusionment at what I learned along the way. As such I’ve a terrible record for not finishing what I start. For example, I did two years of an ‘Applied Environmental Science’ degree starting in ‘97, which I enjoyed because I like to understand things in a hands-on capacity, and because I marvel at the natural world. I dropped out when I realised that myself and the all the other would-be graduates would be competing for the same non-existent job. My professors were all busy denying climate change back then despite the striking logic of it, anti-GMO research was just gaining some traction in certain sectors but I couldn’t get a serious conversation with any of my higher-ups on the matter. Even the people in my dream environmental protection/enforcement type job indicated that the agency was gutless; ‘we’ve no teeth’ one said about challenging development and said plainly that a contractor could just bulldoze some saltmarsh or similar irreplaceable habitat and build on it, then tie any charges up in court for ten years before paying a proportionately modest fine. I was somewhat crushed by all this eye-opening and I lost my bearings, as is my want. Did some travelling, and ended up in Cornwall by sheer dumb luck.

      Couple of years later did six months of a journalism degree down here because I liked to write and I cared deeply about truth. There I learned the basics of journalism history, political ideology and conflict, the birth of the private press, propaganda and so on. I dropped out of that one because every one of my lecturers made it abundantly clear that my job at the end of four years of study and a mountain of debt (if I was lucky enough even to find employment in the media) would be simply to ‘sell copy’, and that a journo who crosses his editor (or the publication’s owner) has no job thereafter. People like John Pilger, Fergal Keane and the like only get to say what they think because they’ve put in years of work and gained respect they said, if you try to write what you want you will have no place to work. Bear in mind this is happening right after 9/11 and the war drums were banging up a propaganda storm to maintain popular support for the war Afghanistan, and virtually no-one had the balls to call out the madness for fear of reprisal (remember ‘Freedom fries’? that was considered news at the time). I must’ve been about 23 and once again I was disillusioned, sickened and angry that nobody cared for what was actually happening, preferring instead to focus on staying employed. I explained that I wasn’t interested in begging for a job selling lies and that I unable to continue ‘on principle’, they were disappointed and argued that truth is a matter or perspective, but seeing the look on my face they soon gave up.

      I suppose after that I gave up trying to influence people and concentrated on my own inward development rather than trying to project changes out into the world, mainly because I found it frustrating but also because I needed to work at being less of a judgemental prick. I travelled extensively in the US and elsewhere, and saw the same shit everywhere I went (drug-addict war-veteran Navaho, disenfranchised criminalised Maori) and it’s fair to say that’s when I completely lost faith in the modern consensus I like to distinguish as ‘the world of men’. I finally understood the staggering momentum of the whole edifice, saw it was impossible for any human force to significantly alter its course, and that it was too self-destructive for any sane individual to butt heads with it ad-nauseum. I concluded that change could only precipitate via the uncompromising reality of changing circumstances in the natural environment we have so thoroughly disrespected. In 2004 I came back to the UK and began about settling in Cornwall, and I’d guess that’s right when I started dreaming about zombies. Over the years I have become skilled at an assortment of construction-related jobs, more recently going freelance as a sort of broad-based technical consultant. I find it pays the bills, but the hassles are many and constant.

      When possible I try to focus my mind on reading between the lines of current affairs, so as to plot the overarching trajectory and adjust my own rudder accordingly. I regularly read a few science/energy/finance blogs, juxtaposition for mainstream news, but I’d never comment. I’m not sure what has changed but what I’ve posted on this site is the most writing I’ve done in many years, and bizarrely it doesn’t even feel voluntary, I am simply compelled to express deep convictions that I thought I had ‘put to bed’. In recent weeks I’ve increasingly found myself mentally composing my thoughts while doing other things, which is to say the least incongruous when compared with my exhausting day-to-day, though nonetheless satisfying. Whatever my motivations, it’s been an education, and you (all) have my gratitude for that.

      • Disaffected says:

        AC,

        In the words of the common man, SIMPLY FUCKING AWESOME! I could tell you that your experience pretty much mirrors mine, but that pretty much belabors the point and pitifully attempts to steal your well-deserved thunder here.

        The value of a good education at a young age can’t be underestimated, can it? My education after 8th grade or so has been pretty modest (and most past HS has been totally worthless!), but that’s made all the difference so far (I grew up in Iowa, which has EXCELLENT public schools). I now live in the GREAT state of NM, USA. I used to (but no longer even have the need to) ask someone where they grew up, merely as a means of sizing up their intellectual/verbal capacity (NM has perhaps THE WORST public school system in all of the US – TOUGH competition THAT!).

        Sad to say, but education beyond the Community College level has now, for the most part, actually become a “de-intellectualizing” experience. Something about “credential seeking” and “signaling” according to the new priesthood, the fucking (attribution mine) “economists.” BULLSHIT is what we called it back in the day on the block. I’ll admit, I’m an old sentimentalist. I STILL stubbornly prefer the old terms myself. I’m (perhaps) fatally flawed that way.

        DA

      • Disaffected says:

        AC,

        Free the voice.

        DA

      • kulturcritic says:

        Quite a trail you left behind you, AC!! Sounds like the basis for a movie. But, it sounds, as well, like you made it through relatively intact. After all, we all have personal and social lacunae that have made us who we are today, for better or worse. Just look at DA; he is another example of one who survived, in large measure, his own personal history as well. The question I always pose to myself is how many people’s lives have I made worse along the way… I am sure it is quite a few. But, perhaps that is my own personal cross to bear (sorry DA for the religious reference). This gnawing sense of guilt I seem to carry around with me is a particularly Jewish phenomena (so I have been told by other members of the tribe), something we received from our mothers, and our mothers’ mothers, I presume. ;-)

        sandy

        BTW – i posted a new news item today, for laughs.

        • Anarchrist says:

          It reads as a bit of a train wreck now that you mention it Sandy, but I have to tell you what I’ve offered above is just the tip of the iceberg; I was branded ‘slow’ in my first school years because my hearing was patchy, and later branded ‘gifted’ by the same school when they noticed I had a talent for lateral thinking (though neither assessment was comprehensive or fair). Later I went to a boarding school for ‘special’ kids for a couple years on a scholarship deal, many of the attendants just had rich families but there were some formidable, even record shattering IQ scores present there in some very small people. Cursed as much as gifted, these kids were rather more like machines than children – devoid of charisma and painfully awkward – and being surrounded by these freakish savants was a humbling experience even as a 12 year old.

          After I fled that bizarre ‘hothouse’ environment and re-entered the state school system I went a little crazy and started getting into trouble, until they threw me out on something drug-related, fortunately I had managed to sleepwalk through the final exams by then. After that I stubbornly continued to dabble with drugs and crime in my own modest way, as such I could probably put ‘shrooms’ fairly high on my list of educational experience, though also meeting some fairly hardened career criminals along the way was yet another humbling and painfully ‘real’ experience – eventually I got in a fight that nearly ended with me killing a guy, mercifully his cousin stepped in and kicked me in the head. I went to hospital and got a much needed wake-up call. I’d have been 18, and I was two years down as an apprentice auto mechanic. Two years of watching hard working men busting a gut for £5.60 an hour basic and getting treated like trash by management, all the while steadily turning into terminal alcoholics (and encouraging me to follow suit), was soul-destroying. That’s when I re-examined my priorities and went to college.

          God knows there’s more, but of course the whole story from almost catastrophically botched birth to my current (rather surreal) circumstances seems entirely too long and ridiculous (not to mention self-indulgent) a story to tell. Perhaps I should attempt to write it all down just for the exercise, something for my boys to read one day. I’ve had a couple goes at writing short-stories in the past, fiction mainly, but never managed to finish any of that either!

          • kulturcritic says:

            Writing it down, AC, is a good thing. It gives you a sense of perspective on your current state of affairs. But it sounds like you have been in the company of some real bad boys, if not being one yourself at some point.

        • Disaffected says:

          kC,
          Guilt is non-religion specific, although the middle-eastern religions in particular seem to have perfected the art. That’s their appeal in a nutshell: make you feel guilty for being alive in the first place, and thus in need of something or somebody to “save you” from yourself. Probably even had some good purpose 2000 years ago. Now? Not so much.
          DA

      • Brutus says:

        Interesting personal history there, Anarchrist. People like you are almost always poorly served by the cultural institutions of the day because you see through the charade too well. I can especially identify with your abandoning a couple career tracks out of frustration that they were not at all the hallowed endeavors you might have naively believed. But this is what really churned my stomach:

        I finally understood the staggering momentum of the whole edifice, saw it was impossible for any human force to significantly alter its course, and that it was too self-destructive for any sane individual to butt heads with it ad-nauseum.

        This understanding is being reinforced with every news item I see, which all combined demonstrate the world has gone mad. My most recent despairing discovery is the 2010 documentary film The End of Poverty? Think Again, which reveals (unsurprisingly to anyone with an inkling of history) that the whole mess was launched with the conquest of the New World by the conquistadors and the market economies that formed around colonialism, continuing through today in only slightly subtler forms (neoliberalism). The awesome ferocity of this 600-year bender we’ve been on corresponds to your statement of staggering momentum. Sure, social injustice existed long before colonialism, but the scope was local. Now it’s worldwide.

        So despite encouragement on this blog to resist and persist, there are days when I seriously do just want to roll over and die. A fair portion of that is guilt over my own passive complicity, having been born into this reality but with the awareness of my complete powerlessness to alter its course even one iota. I’m a self-hating American (borrowed from the archetypal self-hating Jew mentioned by Sandy). Although I might like to construct my own private island of sanity and quiet contemplation (e.g., my own blog), my iconoclasm has kept me at the fringe, and no amount of identification with other lost souls seems to satisfy my longings (for what exactly I can’t even guess anymore). We’re all tortured and damned souls, it seems.

        • Anarchrist says:

          Going by what you’ve said here Brutus, I have to say you strike me as a man at a personal crossroads. Far be it from me to give advice (you have some idea of my personal track record at this point) I’d like to tentatively encourage you to look very closely at the choices you are currently making if you are indeed so unsatisfied with them. Consider here that remaining undecided also counts as a choice, as unfair as that may seem. I know something about being stuck in a ‘closed loop’, and some of the language you used above: “roll over and die”, “tortured and damned” is very telling. If you are truly unhappy where you’re at, change your mind and try something else, fresh experience can and will offer fresh perspectives, and fresh courses of action.

          You are 100% right about the conquest of the New World, and of course so is Sandy when he says we started down this road when we settled down and started saying ‘this is mine’. From my own self-centred perspective I see the world having shifted up a gear and planted the throttle roughly around the time I arrived on the scene in ’78. Of course we are each just examining different sections of the same extraordinary trajectory, the exponential ‘hockey stick’ lovingly referred to as ‘progress’, and of course it is only natural having reached such a dizzying peak, that those of us with a mind to look down are suffering a touch of bowel-loosening vertigo. What we see now is an unprecedented peak after all – a 7 billion strong screaming roiling throng all steadily consuming our precious planet, and a long way to fall back to numbers she can actually sustain – but right here at the near vertical tippy-top where the engine glows red-hot and the clutch is on fire, it’s a pretty interesting time to be alive isn’t it? So goes the Chinese curse anyway.

          My point is that as fucked up as this world is, I believe there is still a role for each of us to play in it, and although a genuinely fulfilling daily life can be illusive and will seldom be effortless, it needn’t ever feel hellish. All of us can get a little too attached to who we think we are, and too often ultimately become imprisoned by that pigeon-hole. So for the record I’m saying to anyone feeling that churning in the gut: your body is trying to tell you that change is on the way and time is getting really short. If you are suppressing the urge to act on your instincts either get it together and free yourself from your pigeon-hole now, or prepare yourself to be forcibly freed by some potentially traumatic changes down the road ahead.

          • Disaffected says:

            AC,

            Small quibble perhaps:

            >My point is that as fucked up as this world is, I believe there is still a role for each of us to play in it, and although a genuinely fulfilling daily life can be illusive and will seldom be effortless, it needn’t ever feel hellish.<

            I think the "needn't ever feel hellish" admonition at the end may be just a "tad Buddhist Monkian" over the top, especially given my admittedly dour disposition and view of things to come. Besides which, "hellish" is a state of mind that many of us actually ENJOY from time to time! One of those stupid little emoticons that one of my lady friends seems to enjoy might belong here to better get my point across, but needless to say, I don't DO emoticons either.

            Hey, it's GOOD to be a curmudgeon!

            DA

            • kulturcritic says:

              It is nice that AC can hold out hope in the midst of the ensuing chaos gathering strength as we speak and blog

            • Anarchrist says:

              I get that it could appear condescending, but what I mean is more or less what you’ve indicated: that circumstances can always be difficult and painful but that ‘hell’ (and equally guilt, which I feel is distinct from remorse) is truly only a state of mind, and therefore somewhat optional. Yes indeed there are those who (masochistically) enjoy it, or perhaps just pretend to for want of clear alternatives. For my part I’ve felt hellish mostly when I’ve been out of place, uncomfortable in my own skin and unhappy with what I am (choosing to be) doing, I guess the drugs and violence showed that back when I was a kid, and the (mercifully small) scars should serve as a reminder that I ought to know better. I was never truly a ‘bad boy’, only a lost soul, and I only lost my temper ‘upon’ a person on that one occasion because I felt ‘righteous’, it was a painful mistake, I deserved what I got and I was extremely lucky things didn’t end badly for me. If I know one thing for certain, it’s that those of us who choose to dwell in hell will find no shortage of equally damaged people into which we can collide in various ways.

              Don’t get me wrong, I’m not sermonising from on high here, I’m just telling you what I find I need to believe in order to make my peace with the world and feel at all comfortable with my place in it. I’ve heard lots of people say that ‘life is pain’ and there’s some weight in that, pain is just a sensation like all the others after all, it passes and eases with time and wounds heal and we get on with life. The problem with the mind is that it can wound itself afresh every moment by re-living the past traumas, and some of us never move on from such painful memories. This goes for anyone/everyone; for runaway parents just as much as their abandoned children, and for veteran soldiers just as much as those they’ve seen suffer. I believe on some level that human society (as a whole) is just going around doing this all the time, consequently perpetuating a consensus reality where a majority of participants sees the world in that hellish light, then goes around projecting their collective pain out into the world. So it goes on, scarring a fresh generation and sealing our collective fate because unconsciously we feel hell is what we deserve (guilt again). This view changes nothing on the face of it – we are in for a rough ride no matter how we look at it – but the potential outcomes are potentially dramatically different depending on the state of mind we choose to employ while facing future challenges.

              As a positive outcome, I believe shifting modes of consciousness in a large enough body of the population could at least become possible going forward (as this is currently highly unlikely) precisely because of the challenges ahead. Mainly because A. They will necessarily reduce the overall population significantly, thus proportionately altering the quantity of individual cases necessary for a sea change. And B. Some things can only progress under extreme duress, a gardener’s adage – “growth follows the knife” – would seem appropriate here.

              Whatever your stance, writing for your consumption is crystallising (for me at least) many disparate ideas long at work in my composition, so my hope is that by ‘publishing’ and discussing here the process will continue and further flesh out my weaker areas.

        • kulturcritic says:

          Tortured, enlightened… the difference. Outside the circle of believers just enough to see the charade?

      • StrayCat says:

        Wow, another mongrel of Portuguese descent. My ancestors were also from the Azores (St. Michael and Flores) with an admixture of Irish fishermen who emigrated from Cork to St. Michael in the 1600′s and married to an American diplomat assigned to the Azores in 1884. That’s on my mother’s side. Very international the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were. We are all in such isolation today, despite the travel and communication advantages today. Maybe a result of the McCarthy era fear and loathing.

  16. John Bollig says:

    AC, DA Sandy

    Since others have posted their educational background, thought I might do the same. I am very well educated in the formal sense. But, I still wonder about the informal sort of education.

    • kulturcritic says:

      John, I don’t think that constitutes posting your educational background. LOL But, it is not important, really. Just thought I would ask AC because he is younger and due to some of his remarks. But, feel free to tell me about your ‘formal’ education. I am fascinated.. sandy

  17. John Bollig says:

    I have three degrees,

    BA in history
    JD in Law
    BGS in Geography
    Hours in various other programs and schools.

    I find many times that those with a less formal education to be as well educated as those who are in advanced programs.

    • Disaffected says:

      John,
      For what it’s worth, I have a PhD (magna cum slob) from World University’s (campuses everywhere! tuition free!) School of Hard Knocks. When asked to address my graduating class, I simply replied that I was speechless, although I wisely reserved the right to blog about it later.
      Wait, this just in. CBS Evening News is telling me how “noble” it is to be a homeless guy named Brad living in Daytona Beach, FL. I’m touched. Maybe we’ll all be so lucky sometime very soon? I must say, it probably beats being homeless in Anchorage, AK anyway. See now? How’s THAT for a sunny disposition?
      DA

    • kulturcritic says:

      That is often the case John. But it sounds like you have had your share of formal education. Have you practiced law, as well?

  18. Anarchrist says:

    Thats an interestingly varied spectrum to have covered, did you find your qualifications served you particularly in a professional capacity, or have they been more interesting on a personal level?

    Incidentally, I was listening to the radio while wiring a house the other day and they had a piece on Radio 2 (good ole BBC) about under-employment whereby people are taking whatever dead-end jobs they can find just to make ends meet. They made reference to some place in Ireland getting 400 applications for a dishwashing job, in fact I’m sure if I google that…Yup:

    http://www.irishcentral.com/news/Dishwashing-job-at-fast-food-outlet-in-Ireland-attracts-400-applicants-95100354.html

    What it doesn’t say in there is that around 50% of the applicants were university graduates, so that could serve as a defenition of under-employment I suppose. The radio piece went on to offer job-hunting tips (which was the most amazing part) on how to get a lousy job which is ‘beneath you’, real public-service broadcasting in these strange days!

    • John Bollig says:

      My background has been useful in two ways. First is the knowledge is power perspective that I have gained. Education makes me a more well rounded , more adaptable individual. My skills are useful in decision making and evaluation of threats and reading behind the veil that the media has put up in our lives. History gives you the framework to see the issues of the day in the context of the past. i.e. Irsih immigration and chronic boom bust cycles. I can tell you something about irish priests who have come over to the midwest over the years. They do really well here. Law is the social arm of the elite. Law gives the elites the means to do whatever they want i.e., the recent laws against consumer protections and the efforts to shape the law to benefit the wealthy against the middle class and poor. Geography answers the question of why a group happened to aquire power. Jared Diamond’s work Guns, Germs and Steel should be a primer in the efforts to understand what happened and why the world ended up the way it did. Along with Diamond, James Burke is an valued author of many works. My most valuable study materials are however , military works such as Basil Liddell Hart’s History of World War 2 and Terry Collin’s 26 volume history of WW2.

      • Disaffected says:

        Sorry John, I have to add that your “education” is already outdated as well, in that it doesn’t actually exist anymore. At every step along the way, today’s education (from anything less than the highest cost private institutions anyway, and most of those are more than likely getting shortchanged as well) is decidedly less than what it was 20 or more years ago.

        I know, I know, I’m an old fart who is just projecting generational issues. But think about it. What happened 20 years ago that changed just about everything? Mass computerization and the internet, that’s what. And although that’s been arguably a fantastic boon in a great many ways, it’s been almost a universal disaster when it comes to education.

        Today’s “education” consists of little more than “Googling” a subject, copy/pasting to your paper, and subtly editing the result (if you’re even capable) so as to make it unrecognizable to increasingly smart plagiarism detection programs. OR, just hiring it out to an expert (at mom and dad’s expense) in the first place. “Higher education” INDEED!

        DA

      • Disaffected says:

        >Law is the social arm of the elite. Law gives the elites the means to do whatever they want i.e., the recent laws against consumer protections and the efforts to shape the law to benefit the wealthy against the middle class and poor. <

        I might add, although Law is the very effective intellectual justification of the elite, the Military is the at least as effective PHYSICAL justification of same. I was about to launch into yet another another long-winded justification for the latter at the expense of the former, when it occurred to me that they are really just different faces of the same demon. One decides and then tells you that you MUST comply with the state’s wishes, the other adds insult to injury by removing your will to resist, and if necessary, YOU and YOURS as well.

        DA

    • kulturcritic says:

      We could all be car washers… won’t be much else for the well-heeled to do with them soon anyway

  19. John Bollig says:

    Sandy,

    I did clerk for a state agency. I also clerked for a law firm . As far as being a car washer, we could wash tanks and APC’s as well as other vehicles. I was born a cynic.

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