Jim Kunstler On Occupy Everything

It was interesting to me that my comments that protesting the economy without also including elements of economic protest were taken to mean "I think Occupy Wall Street is bad." I still think that to be genuinely effective, protests of capitalism have to take into account what will replace it - and our own implication in the system, but I am happy to see the protests growing, and developing an emergent sense of possibility.

I think Jim Kunstler hit it on the head this week:

This is the funniest part to me: that leaders of a nation incapable of constructing a coherent consensus about reality can accuse its youth of not having a clear program. If the OWS movement stands for anything, it's a dire protest against the country's leaders' lack of a clear program.

For instance, what is Attorney General Eric Holder's program for prosecuting CDO swindles, the MERS racket, the bonus creamings of TBTF bank executives, the siphoning of money from the Federal Reserve to foreign banks, the misconduct at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the willful negligence of the SEC, and countless other villainies? What is Barack Obama's program for restoring the rule of law in American financial affairs? (Generally, the rule of law requires the enforcement of laws, no?)

Language is failing us, of course. When speaking of "recession," one is forced into using the twisted, tweaked, gamed categories of economists whose mission is to make their elected bosses look good in spite of anything reality says. I prefer the term contraction, because a.) that is what is really going on, and b.) the economists haven't got their mendacious mitts around it yet. Contraction means there is not going to be more, only less, and it implies that a reality-based society would make some attempt to acknowledge and manage having less - possibly by doing more.

The system is as gamed as possible, and the anger at it is a good thing. We also are going to have to do some hard thinking, though, about what standard of living and way of life can emerge from a society that honestly critiques the system we have become dependent upon. The reality is that the growth we've lived with is going away whether we like it or not - I'm hoping that this new emergent consensus that we've been screwed comes with a collective response to the end of growth - or the solidarity won't last as the system pits people against one another.


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You say, "I still think that to be genuinely effective, protests of capitalism have to take into account what will replace it".


1. Virtually anything can be effectively destroyed without so much as a wisp of a notion of what will replace it.
2. Few of these protesters have any significant understanding of the magnitude of the forces and conditions that have conspired to create the current human mess. They just know that something is dreadfully wrong.
3. There will be no acceptable replacement for capitalism.
4. You are finally beginning to understand that you can't survive what is coming and you are scared - aren't we all?

It is not so much for ourselves that we fear as it is for our babies.

Long live the pale blue dot.

If they really think a bunch of zombies counting electronic beans has anything to do with anything that matters in the world, let me have some of what they're smoking.

I find 2 points (at present) annoying about commentary on OWS.
1/ Herman Daly has been talking about what will replace the current system for 40 years (+.-) Prof Tim Jackson has presented these ideas eloquently in "Prosperity without Growth" and now even George Monbiot is on board.
Granted these are not "popular" theories but they are the logical conclusions that are available when following the events that are in train. I am confident that when faced with the complete lack of answers being offered in mainstream, the OWS supporters will see this.
2/ JHK today states in "Occupy Everything" - "I shudder to imagine what happens when OWS moves into the streets of France, Germany, Holland, Italy, and Spain".
Sorry Jim, shudder away, it is a fact that OWS came FROM Spain in particular, Plazas all over Spain were "occupied" for up to 6 weeks from May 15th in response to austerity measures, and overcame exactly the same brutality from police and have since been relocated to every neighbourhood in most cities in Spain. The whole process of establishing assemblies and organising work crews etc etc was all worked through there. This time the U.S. is a follower, and not before time seeing as all this economic crap comes from there.

You're trying to tell me a grass-roots American organization knew how to import a political strategy from Spain? Or that they even know what an economic theory is, much less how to learn about one?

Sharon, you're not telling me you actually approve of Kunstler's word-switching game? If he can't give a rational explanation of why the word "recession" is inadequate, then he can't be trusted to replace it.

And what is the scientific definition of "the system is gamed"?

Possibly a gamed system could be defined, in the context of the economy, as one in which, the operating rules and procedures known and followed by the general populace are in fact ineffective, or only partly operative as governance, and the actually effective governance regime is known only by a tiny minority of the population, who are thus able to unfairly profit from, or "game" the system. That would be my understanding. This definition could also be expanded to include that the operative governance is not only known only by an elite minority, but is also unfairly established--"rigged"--to favour that minority.

From this elaborated definition, one may understand the anger of those who intuitively grasp the unfairness of the system, and who come to understand that requests for redress of the grievance of unfairness to the "government" fall on deaf ears inasmuch as the government itself is intimately bound up in the systemic corruption.

By shoeless pete (not verified) on 11 Oct 2011 #permalink

Havent any of you seen the documentary "The Secret of Oz" and read Ellen Brown, author of "Web of Debt?" Change the monetary system by taking from the banks the "right" to create money as debt and have the government create debt-free money would have profoundly positive changes, incredibly positive.

End the wars and Imperial foreign policy and the waste of all that wealth, and together with the idea mentioned above, we would be in a position vis-a-vis Peak Oil/Peak Everything a thousand time better than the one we will be in without those changes.

But you peak oil writers, starting with Heinberg, denigrated progressive ideas as inconsequential to the situation, and I think that has been totally wrong and has had very negative effects. On the contrary, overthrowing the plutocracy and releasing the macroeconomic wealth of civilization and putting it in the hands of creative people instead of it being in the hands of plutocratic psychopaths is THE best - ahem - preparation - for Peak Oil we could possibily have.

The problem is that calling the oligarchs psychopaths is not a progressive idea. If they were really psychopaths they wouldn't have the intelligence to stay rich.

The strategy of the oligarchs is based on good math, but it does evil things. There is no contradiction here. The dualistic fallacy promoted by the term "plutocracy" (Greek for "rule by the devil") is preventing progressives from figuring out how to actually stop the oligarchs.

As to being known only by a privileged few, that's no excuse. Real thinkers have learned to manipulate things like quantum entanglement that nobody knows about. Certainly they can manipulate the oligarchy to take away its wealth.

The world belongs to the fit, tough, and adaptable ones among us.

The world belongs to everyone except the Destroyers.