Year End Confessions and Prognostications

When I began this experiment in blogging back in March of 2011, I had no idea if I would be capable of writing “well” weekly and, more important, whether I could maintain the interest of a lively and demanding group of readers and commentators. The response has exceeded my silliest imaginings.  I have had much good fortune to be grateful for in my life; and I never can forget that.  Yet, just now I thank you, my fellow readers, for tagging along on this part of the journey with me.

However, one thing I am not grateful for is the reality I have come to know intimately as my character.  The “good life” of American exceptionalism, hyper-individualism, relentless acquisitiveness, unforgiving productivity, death-dealing competitiveness, the maniacal pursuit of personal excellence and accomplishment that I was taught to emulate and eventually grew to inhabit – that life has become me; and it has apparently made me unfit for a more cooperative, communalistic lifestyle with its more forgiving spirit of mutuality and understanding.  I will own up to who I now am, recognizing that it is counterproductive to life. For those of you I have abused due to this compulsion, this disease, I apologize.   In the spirit of new beginnings, let us begin again.

My recent visit back to the States was a classic American example of the opulence and solipsistic personality disorder to which I am referring. For some reason, I remain constantly amazed by the utter abandon with which we American consumers consume (and I do count myself among them).  One would not know there was a global economic crisis, or austerity measures floating in the air, by simply walking down Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, visiting a local bar near the dreaded Wall Street, or, for that matter, watching the Christmas shoppers meandering around Larimer Square in Denver, Colorado. And, the Capital Grille on Larimer is full to overflowing nearly every night.  Again, I know, because I too was there, each night of my stay in Denver.

Indeed, it seems that the words ‘austerity’ and ‘crisis’ have not yet filtered up to the more rarified atmosphere in the Rocky Mountain high of downtown Denver. The building boom there, the erection of towers dedicated to personal comfort and narcissistic luxuriating, is unforgiving.  As if they did not already have enough well-appointed accommodations in downtown, a new magnificent Hyatt Hotel as well as a classic Four Seasons property sparkle with holiday glitter in the lower downtown (Lodo) area; while more than a dozen new upscale restaurants and bars are full-to-overflowing with well-heeled patronage looking to be pampered. And there is more construction underway, around every corner, with several new, grand museums already dotting the famed Denver skyline. Yet, all of this development is happening against the backdrop of a Federal Appeals Court ruling here, that Denver billionaire, Phillip Anschutz, and his large conglomerate, owe more than ninety-four million ($94,000,000) in unpaid taxes. Is this ironic, or just a prime instantiation of the narcissistic self-absorption of the populace, large and small?

In short, it seems that nothing in this world can deter the American sense of consumer confidence and capitalist entitlement, or the maintenance of our materialistic paradise.  It is our presumed divine right to shop and spend and drink and eat, consume and horde, and deplete the world’s resources in the process, as we protect our asses and our assets, simply because we are Americans and we can.  We believe that we are at the top of the heap, and we will use our military might or our attorneys if necessary. The world is our oyster, and we will not be denied.  Just ask Anschutz.

On the other side of the equation, my visit to the Big Apple indicates that the OWS movement is now officially on life-support.  At my brother’s urging, we wandered into an organizational meeting of New York’s OWS crowd in the Atrium Building at 60 Wall Street, which, post-9/11, now houses more than 4,500 employees of Deutsche Bank, New York. There were approximately twelve generally disheveled and incoherent OWS comrades in attendance, and screaming over one another.  The big issue of the evening appeared to be the question of who was going to be eligible to receive free subway metro-passes, an issue that never seemed to be resolved.  Yet, several folks were pushing a side agenda aimed at ejecting one of their “members” for failure to cooperate.  Can you imagine that… non-cooperation, in America? We can’t even get protest right; we must organize into general assemblies (a subordinating move itself), because we do not naturally understand cooperation. I could sense that this was not Tahrir Square in Egypt.

Speaking of Egypt, it seems as though they are driving full-speed towards a new military dictatorship there for 2012 and beyond.  And, get this, the new regime is closing up local American-sponsored NGO’s “promoting” democracy in Egypt.  What hypocrisy: the USA promoting democracy. Yeah right! Just ask the CIA what the Realpolitik there is. Yet, perhaps the USA is not too far behind.  Just wait until Michele and Rick take their seats on the high throne of our corporatocracy next year.   After all, it seems to me that they are the perfect couple to run this train right into the ground.  A new Christian Crusades seems inevitable and only just around the corner.  Certainly, the necessary technologies (and laws) are already in place for monitoring our every move and insuring homeland security – street-side cameras, cell phone tracking, domestic military police, indefinite citizen detention, and the list goes on.

But, just imagine the power of this new un-closeted combination – onward Christian rulers led by our capitalist corporatocracy.  Then there really will be a Holy War waged against the infidels in the name of our God and our Holy Christian National Interests, both at home and abroad.  First, we will take out those Iranians; after all, they have a competing theocratic hegemony.  Anyway, they’ve decided to blockade our access to sacred Gulf oil.  That is intolerable! We will move on from there, again seeking to remove a fanatic Taliban hierarchy, now well installed in Iraq.  In fact, this new Holy Inquisition will target any enemies who are blocking our god-given right to prosperity and the American Dream.  We will seize essential resources wherever they may be found – in Africa, Alaska, Canada, South America, the Persian Gulf or the Gulf of Mexico, and perhaps even Russia.  After all, the US State Department remains undeterred in its criticism of the Great Bear.  As well, the powers-that-be will work quickly and covertly to silence those “terrorist” voices of dissent here in the homeland; again, we now have the tools, the mechanisms of control and means of compliance.  In this way, a new Holy See (Naked Capitalist Christian America) will continue to claim and demonstrate its biblical right to dominion over the earth and all its creatures, raping and plundering – fracking, pipelining, and invading our way to a divinely-ordained prosperity.

Default on our debt to China: and why not?  Let us dare those pseudo-capitalist commies to go to war over their claims.  We will stand for no interference with acquiring what is critical to our National Interest, and keeping others from stealing it away.  Just ask Anschutz.  Or perhaps, a Korean War redo, anyone?

Anyway, you know the world is undergoing severe economic and societal, not to mention climatological, readjustment when Turkmenistan is repositioning itself as a major new tourist destination, using billions in public funds to build several luxury resorts on the frigid and not-so-pristine coast of the Caspian Sea.  Boy, they sure must be packing in those crowds from nearby Kazakhstan and the other former Soviet block countries. Don’t you just love the can-do, competitive, capitalist spirit of global destruction spreading across the world?

Meanwhile, things are heating up here in central Siberia.  Today, December 31st, the temperatures in Barnaul, Altai Krai, are hovering around the freezing mark (32 F).  That is warm for us this time of year.  So, I imagine global warming is proceeding apace, as the increasing severity of natural disasters that 2011 has provided reminds us that our reliance and impact upon the environment is real.

Happy New Year friends – с Ноым годом друзья

Sandy

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30 Responses to Year End Confessions and Prognostications

  1. john patrick says:

    How do you stop a swarm, from swarming? We are going the way of the locusts. It is quite natural. With a natural end. Who’d have thought? And we don’t have wings.

    Glad you had a safe trip.

  2. Pēteris says:

    We should not fight the big fat corporatocracy with protests and other “opposing moves”, as the violent force, a very overwhelming one, is clearly at their side. Better we should invent something alternative to the existing system, that works… or at least gives the participants some emotional and moral benefits.
    As for the hopeless individualism, Americans are not alone. Eastern Europe has the same disease, though no so severe.
    Individual relations are shaped by economic pressures. If it is more convenient to steal than to work, most of the people will steal. And vice versa. Economic relations stem from financial system; and our financial system is based on debt. Debt, that makes people neglect everything except money, and makes them chase the money all the time. Financial system is a pyramid with the purpose of predation of fellow human beings. No wonder humans consume their planet to not be consumed by humans above them in pecking order.
    Even the ones at the top of the system are powerless to change the system; as long as it “profits”, peer pressure keeps everybody in line.
    Humans are half-animals-half gods. To ebb between the two is our fate.

  3. Bajadweller says:

    Sandy,
    thank so much for this blog – I learned (and am learning) a lot with you guys
    and I am enjoying “the good company”.
    May you all have a healthy and harmonious 2012 and may my “dire calculations” for the next weeks and months not come true – I’d be very happy indeed to stand here in 6 months time as the old kasandra who always sees problems ahead !
    Best to all of you!
    Thomas

  4. Brutus says:

    I’ve said all along that we’re ruined people. Your admission that you’re unfit to join a true community (the few that still exist) is no surprise, but your ability to reflect upon that truth means to me at least that you’re not totally corrupted (as I wrote in a previous comment). I’m hardly any different, of course, though I’ve never been anywhere near joining the top 1% like you.

    You didn’t actually include much by way of prognostication except for the formation of the NCCA (shades of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale though perhaps late in coming). To say that we will keep on keeping on is sorta, well, duh! There will be an end, but who knows when? More specific pronouncements are what raises criticism against, for example, J.H. Kunstler. His repeated willingness to be proven wrong by history seems heedless, but being right only bestows bragging rights, so what’s the real difference?

    Your writing kinda flopped with this post, though (e.g., hordehoard). I’m used to reading rich allusions and insights into society. Venturing into the gutter of international politics, you get shrill, which I suppose is understandable. I take you to task only because you both know and can do better and can serve your readership better with more careful attention. Personally, I distrust too much stroking in the comments at my blog, which rarely happens anyway. Maybe you, too, respond better to criticism if it’s not too unkind or pointless.

  5. bmiller says:

    Are our only choices between rampant individualism and communalism? Most communities worth calling oneself a member of seem to fall in between.

    So, don’t be so hard on yourself and those possible choices. The rebirth of a genuine community, when it happens, will not be by choice, but strictly by random happenstance wherever you find yourself living. The culture, educational drive and a host of other factors will influence what that “community” is like. A casual reading of history is laden with plenty of genuine communities I wouldn’t want to be within a thousand miles. So, here is hoping for one I do want to be part of if things go south!

    And, a like minded group of people on the internet cannot be a community. But, we can enjoy your missives, the replies and the intellectual stimulation that arises from it (I hope that is not stroking).

    The best for 2012.

  6. kulturcritic says:

    Folks – I made a small adjustment in the title to this post!! sandy

  7. John Bollig says:

    Sandy,

    It has been an interesting year for us as nomads seeking a better balance between nature and man. the great misfortune is that we as humans have squandered our gifts and no longer can we afford our toys. One of the most interesting stories to note is an article in Scale Aviation Modeler International magazine on the oil crisis and how it will wipe out plastics as an industry. Apparently, Henry Ford a nd George Washington Carver had developed a friendship over the years and Carver developed a plastic substitute from peanuts and peanut byproducts. Incredibly, this path way was suggested as a way to continue the plastic kit industry past peak oil. Now the only question remains, if the plastic kit industry is aware of the collapse of oil based plastics as a industry, why hasn’t the powers in DC, the EU or China realized the issue and have dealt with it. My prediction is for the peak oil crisis to become the focus of a massive denial campaign. Like the massive fraud that seems to permiate Wall Street, the denial machine will stop at nothing to cover up the lies. Already however, the facade is failing and the cracks are showing. The Iranians and Saudis have had a meeting of the minds on the issue of sanctions and the house of saud has been told that an Iranian invasion or coup is going to be triggered by any attempt to block or embargo Iranian oil. The economy will collapse in short order as oil supplies are cut off. This will cause the collapse of the EU, The USA and maybe the rest of the industrialized world. In any case, we are all doomed, so let’s party like its 1999 and forget as long as possible that the world is going to go nutz in 2012. The only way to save our society is something radical, something that is going to rock our civilization to its core. It is the end of urbanism. With the end of the industrial age, we are going to need massive population shifts to feed our populations. We will need to depopulate the large cities and spread the former city dwellers to the rural areas. The dislocation will be massive and thousands if not millions will die during this population shift. However, it is much prefered to having the cities explode and burn down totally. My opinions are mine only and do not reflect the opinions of many.

    • kulturcritic says:

      John – It has been interesting. And you may be right, about 2012. Certainly, something seems likely between the USA and Iran. After all, the empire will never back down. The only constant for imperial thinking is pursuing that which will sustain and advance Empire. So it is likely that the USA will do whatever to protect its national interests and its flamboyant lifestyle. At any cost … to man or nature. sandy

  8. John Bollig says:

    Sandy,

    Of course Obama will not be relected. But my feeling is that both political parties are morally bankrupt and we will face an impending disaster politically if we keep any of these fakers in office. My feeling is that we are going to face a meltdown of the culture. The divide in the society is too sharp to allow for a united front for us all to live under. The collapse of the political party system will keep the nation in turmoil as the fraud unfolds and the liars get called out as liars. The social welfare safety net will collapse and we will face dealing with massive death on a massive scale. Most people have written off both parties. The only hope is for the nation to go back to the rural economy. Agricultural based economy based on railroads, grain production and rural religion. When this thing unfolds we will see an economy like the 1890’s. With a majority of poeple farming, less choice at the supermarket, if those things survive the end of the industrial age at all and an end to the internet and most other means of mass communication. The forms of communication most likely to survive will be simple, local and easy to repair or replicate. Nationally, there might be shortwave broadcasts available thru a state sponsered service. There might be a way to salvage some sort of 911 system for us all to live under. We will face a dramatic expansion of the world as we lose our media outlets. Honestly, I can see ourselves going back to radio and telegraph as a means of communication between cities. Money will be based on gold or silver, not on paper notes. The one thing that I have noticed is that even those who don’t have a clue to what is going on realize that something is going on and that something is not good.

  9. Jack Waddington says:

    It’s simple: Money will go out of style … soon, and suddenly we’ll wake up to the fact that money kept the notion of Law and Government as a means. When all that falls apart we’ll suddenly realize we have to co-operate and not compete … and voila … it will work.

    But we need to lose it all before the thought will hit us.

    Jack

  10. Martin says:

    So much speculation on what our collective future holds – fact is, nobody knows, but I’m certain there are a few who have big plans for the rest of us. How that will shake out is anybody’s guess, but methinks we-uns would do well to keep an eye or two on Petreaus – he was ‘man of the year’ not so long ago and now he has disappeared into the bowels of the CIA. Seems like a logical-but-seriously-dangerous combination to me; a former four-star, anti-insurgent-specialist general put in charge of the nation’s most deeply sneaky and secretive agency – and just months before our illustrious POTUS signed off on the NDA Act, which allows him (and his successors) to arrest anyone, anywhere and hold them forever. Could get very interesting indeed…. Not that I’m a conspiracy theorist, or anything….just sayin’.

    Anyway, on the brighter side, from over here it looks as though the great unmasking within the econo-political scene will continue apace as we are entertained by the ongoing choosing of a new (titular) ‘leader’ or the re-choosing of the existing one while we run around like proverbial headless chickens and/or continue to pretend to fiddle while the whole structure burns down around us.

    Hope y’all have a happy and prosperous New Year (heh).

  11. the virgin terry says:

    happy new year, sandy. hope u stay unfrozen and keep this good blog going.

    perhaps u’ve written of it before, if so, excuse my ignorance, please, or forgive me if necessary for asking a nosy question: how/why did u end up in siberia? do u figure it’s a good place to try to weather collapse? are u far from all cities? are u attempting to become independent, able to survive the storm?

    i tend to agree that there’s a good chance the usa (and most other industrialized nations) will undergo some turbulent periods of fascist violence/repression domestically as collapse progresses. usa could easily become an awful christian theocracy for a while. i sure hope not. it’s bad enough as it is.

    if one makes a very general prediction chances are much better it will come true. i don’t know the timetable, but i think time’s running short for bau. enjoy life while u still can, all. one never knows when the next global war, political coup, or economic shock may come that renders (y)our world a much harsher existence.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Hello Terry

      In fact, Siberia may be a wonderful place to “weather” the storm, if you will. With global warming, our neck of the woods is becoming more moderate. Although not always. I am in Siberia, at the foot of the Altai Mountains, not to far from Mongolia, because this is where my wife’s family lives, and this is where Anna wants to be. She spent the better part of her youth here. We live most of the year in the city of Barnaul, the capital of Altai Krai, with 750,000 residents. It is a regular city, becoming more Westernized every minute. However, there is still a simplicity about it that is missing in the American model. As well, we have a dacha (very small, old country cottage) 50 km from Barnaul. It is on the edge of the Ob River and adjoins a beautiful forest. We have a large family garden there in the spring and summer, and we collect mushrooms and berries, fish, etc. We have a great fresh ground water supply. We also have a Russian banya (wood fired steam bath) next to the outhouse. At least we are prepared to some degree for the worst. And you are right, business as usual just won’t cut it now; but Americans choose not to listen, by and large. They prefer to be spoon fed the tripe and lies that come out of their corporate-political class, and their many minions in media, the military and elsewhere. Any way, thank you for your new year wishes. I wish you the same (even recognizing that our time reckoning is simply a modern convention (another fable to keep us in line). And I promise to keep writing here, as long as you promise to keep reading. best, sandy

  12. javacat says:

    Lotta talk about the future from folks not into unilinear time… 😉

  13. Malthus says:

    I wish Denver would have stayed the “cow town” it was when I was born there. Setting that aside Sandy I wish you would take on the word “Corporation” the way we use it it separates the people behind the vail and somehow impersonalizes it. The greedy bastards behind that vail need to be exposed as to what they are and what they are doing to the world. This world we live in is all about money and speculation. The word corporation somehow sanitizes the dirty hands behind the word. I just think if anyone could do it you could or perhaps Kunstler although his bloggers seem to collapse from the point of Mr. Kuntslers blog into some kind of racist baiting and other weird things.

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