Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Down the Ratholes of the Future

The new year now upon us has brought out the usual quota of predictions about what 2016 has in store, and I propose as usual to make my own contribution to that theme.  I’ve noted more than once in the past that people who make predictions about the future really ought to glance back at those predictions from time to time and check how well they’re doing. With that in mind, before we go on to 2016, I’d like to take a moment to look back over the predictions I made last year.  My post on the subject covered a lot of territory in the course of offering those predictions, and I’ve trimmed down the discussion a bit here for the sake of readability; those who want to read the whole thing as originally published will find it here. In summarized form, though, this is what I predicted:

“The first and most obvious [thing to expect] is the headlong collapse of the fracking bubble [...] Wall Street has been using the fracking industry in all the same ways it used the real estate industry in the runup to the 2008 crash, churning out what we still laughably call “securities” on the back of a rapidly inflating speculative bubble. As the slumping price of oil kicks the props out from under the fracking boom, the vast majority of that paper—the junk bonds issued by fracking-industry firms, the securitized loans those same firms used to make up for the fact that they lost money every single quarter, the chopped and packaged shale leases, the volumetric production agreements, and all the rest of it—will revert to its actual value, which in most cases approximates pretty closely to zero.

“Thus one of the entertainments 2015 has in store for us is a thumping economic crisis here in the US, and in every other country that depends on our economy for its bread and butter. The scale of the crash depends on how many people bet how much of their financial future on the fantasy of an endless frack-propelled boom, but my guess is it’ll be somewhere around the scale of the 2008 real estate bust.

“Something else that’s baked into the baby new year’s birthday cake at this point is a rising spiral of political unrest here in the United States. [...] Will an American insurgency funded by one or more hostile foreign powers get under way in 2015? I don’t think so, though I’m prepared to be wrong. More likely, I think, is another year of rising tensions, political gridlock, scattered gunfire, and rhetoric heated to the point of incandescence, while the various players in the game get into position for actual conflict:  the sort of thing the United States last saw in the second half of the 1850s, as sectional tensions built toward the bloody opening rounds of the Civil War.  [...]

“Meanwhile, back behind these foreground events, the broader trends this blog has been tracking since its outset are moving relentlessly on their own trajectories. The world’s finite supplies of petroleum, along with most other resources on which industrial civilization depends for survival, are depleting further with each day that passes; the ecological consequences of treating the atmosphere as an aerial sewer for the output of our tailpipes and smokestacks, along with all the other frankly brainless ways our civilization maltreats the biosphere that sustains us all, builds apace; caught between these two jaws of a tightening vise, industrial civilization has entered the rising spiral of crisis about which so many environmental scientists tried to warn the world back in the 1970s, and only a very small minority of people out on the fringes of our collective discourse has shown the least willingness to recognize the mess we’re in and start changing their own lives in response: the foundation, it bears repeating, of any constructive response to the crisis of our era.”

What I missed, and should have anticipated, is the extent to which the failure of the fracking fantasy has been hushed up by the mainstream US media. I should have anticipated that, too, because the same thing happened with the last energy boom that was going to save us all, the corn ethanol bubble that inflated so dramatically a decade ago and crumpled not long thereafter. Plenty of firms in the fracking industry have gone bankrupt, the junk bonds that propped up the industry are selling for pennies on the dollar to anyone willing to gamble on them, and all those grand claims that fracking was going to bring a new era of US energy independence have been quietly roundfiled next to the identical claims made for ethanol not that many years before; still, this hasn’t yielded the sudden shock I expected.

The ripple effect on the US economy has been slower than I anticipated, too.  Thus, instead of the thumping economic crisis I predicted, we’ve seen a slow grinding contraction, papered over by the usual frantic maneuvers on the part of the Fed. In effect, instead of popping, the fracking bubble sprang a slow leak, which has played out in a muffled drumbeat of worsening economic news rather than a sudden plunge. So I missed on that one. The rest of the year’s predictions? Once again, I called it.

Now of course, as my critics like to point out, it’s easy to look at everything that’s getting worse each year, and predict that all those things are just going to keep getting worse in the year to come. What those same critics tend to forget is that this strategy may be easy but, unlike the alternatives, it works. Every January, with a predictability that puts clockwork to shame, people trot out the same shopworn predictions of game-changing breakthroughs and game-over catastrophes; one blogger announces that this will be the year that renewable energy reaches critical mass, while another insists with equal enthusiasm that this will be the year when the wheels come off the global economy once and for all; another year passes, the breakthroughs and the catastrophes pull a no-show yet again, and here we are, 365 days further down the long ragged trajectory that leads to the end of the industrial age.

Thus my core prediction for 2016 is that all the things that got worse in 2015 will keep on getting worse over the year to come. The ongoing depletion of fossil fuels and other nonrenewable resources will keep squeezing the global economy, as the real (i.e., nonfinancial) costs of resource extraction eat up more and more of the world’s total economic output, and this will drive drastic swings in the price of energy and commodities—currently those are still headed down, but they’ll soar again in a few years as demand destruction completes its work. The empty words in Paris a few weeks ago will do nothing to slow the rate at which greenhouse gases are dumped into the atmosphere, raising the economic and human cost of climate-related disasters above 2015’s ghastly totals—and once again, the hard fact that leaving carbon in the ground means giving up the lifestyles that depend on digging it up and burning it is not something that more than a few people will be willing to face.

Meanwhile, the US economy will continue to sputter and stumble as politicians and financiers try to make up for ongoing declines in real (i.e., nonfinancial) wealth by manufacturing paper wealth at an even more preposterous pace than before, and frantic jerryrigging will keep the stock market from reflecting the actual, increasingly dismal state of the economy.  We’re already in a steep economic downturn, and it’s going to get worse over the year to come, but you won’t find out about that from the mainstream media, which will be full of the usual fact-free cheerleading; you’ll have to watch the rates at which the people you know are being laid off and businesses are shutting their doors instead. 

All that’s a slam-dunk at this point. Still, for those readers who want to see me taking on a little more predictive risk, I have something to offer. There’s a wild card in play in the US economy just now, and it’s the tech sector—no, let’s call things by less evasive names, shall we?  The current tech bubble. My financially savvy readers will know that a standard way to compare a company’s notional value to its real prospects is the ratio of the total price of all its stock to its annual earnings—the price/earnings or P/E ratio for short. Healthy companies in a normal economy usually have P/E ratios between 10 and 20; that is, their total stock value is between ten and twenty times their annual earnings.  Care to guess what the P/E ratio is for Amazon as of last Friday’s close? A jawdropping 985.

At that, Amazon is in better shape than some other big-name tech firms these days, as it actually has earnings. Twitter, for example, has never gotten around to making a profit at all, and so its P/E ratio is its current absurd stock value divided by zero. Valuations this detached from reality haven’t been seen since immediately before the “Tech Wreck” of 2000, and the reason is exactly the same: vast amounts of easy money have flooded into the tech sector, and that torrent of cash has propped up an assortment of schemes and scams that make no economic sense at all. Sooner or later, as a function of the same hard math that brings every bubble to an end, Tech Wreck II is going to hit, vast amounts of money are going to evaporate, and a lot of currently famous tech companies are going to go the way of

Exactly when that will happen is a good question, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the next tech bust will be under way by the end of 2016. That’s specific prediction #1.

Another aspect of economic reality that’s going to hit hard in the year ahead is the ongoing deflation of the fracking bubble. Aside from the straightforward financial impact of that deflation, the failure of fracking to live up to the cornucopian fantasies piled onto it means that a lot of people who relied on it as a way of ignoring the harsh realities of planetary limits are going to have to find something else, so they can have new excuses for living the lifestyles that are wrecking the planet. There’s no shortage of candidates just now; no doubt billions of dollars, Euros, et al. will continue to be poured down the bottomless rathole of fusion research, and the government feed trough will doubtless have plenty of other corporate swine lined up and grunting for their share, but my best guess at this point is that photovoltaic (PV) solar energy is going to be the next big energy bubble.

Solar PV is a good deal less environmentally benign than its promoters like to claim—like so many so-called “green” technologies, the environmental damage it causes happens mostly in the trajectory from mining the raw materials to manufacture and deployment, not in day-to-day operation—and the economics of grid-tied solar power are so dubious that in practice, grid-tied PV is a subsidy dumpster rather than a serious energy source. Nonetheless, I expect to see such points brushed aside, airily or angrily as the case may be, as the solar lobby and its wholly-owned subsidiaries in the green movement make an all-out push to sell solar PV as the next big thing. The same rhetoric deployed to sell ethanol and fracking as game-changing innovations, which of course they weren’t, will be trotted out again for PV, as the empty promises made at the recent COP-21 meeting in Paris find their inevitable destiny as sales pitches for yet another alleged energy miracle that won’t fulfill the overinflated promises made on its behalf.

There’s still some uncertainty involved, but I’m going to predict that the mass marketing of what will inevitably be called “the PV revolution” will get under way in 2016. That’s specific prediction #2.

Meanwhile the political context of American life is heating steadily toward an explosion. As I write this, a heavily armed band of militiamen is holed up in a building on a Federal wildlife refuge in the deserts of southeastern Oregon, trying to provoke a standoff. Clownish as such stunts unquestionably are, it bears remembering that the activities of such violent abolitionists as John Brown looked just as pointless in their time; their importance was purely as a gauge of the pressures building toward civil war—and that’s exactly the same reading I give to the event just described.

That said, I don’t expect an armed insurgency of any scale to break out in the United States this year. The era of rural and urban guerrilla warfare, roadside bombs, internment camps, horrific human rights violations by all sides, and millions of refugees fleeing in all directions, that will bring down the United States of America is still a little while off yet, for one crucial reason: a large enough fraction of the people most likely to launch the insurgencies of the near future have decided to give the political process one last try, and the thing that has induced them to do this is the candidacy of Donald Trump.

The significance of Trump’s astonishing progress to front-runner status is large and complex enough that it’s going to get a post of its own here in the near future. For the moment, the point that matters is that a vast number of nominal Republicans are so sick of the business as usual being marketed by their party’s officially approved candidates that they’re willing to vote for absolutely anyone who is willing to break with the bipartisan consensus of what we might as well call the Dubyobama era: a consensus that has brought misery to the vast majority of Americans, but continues to benefit a privileged minority—not just the much-belabored 1%, but the top 20% or so of Americans by income.

Hillary Clinton is the candidate of that 20%, the choice of those who want things to keep going the way they’ve gone for the last two decades or so. More precisely, she’s the one candidate of the business-as-usual brigade left standing, since the half of the 20% that votes Democrat has rallied around her and done their best to shut down the competition, while the half that votes Republican failed to rally around Jeb Bush or one of his bland and interchangeable rivals, and thus got sidelined when the 80% made their own choice. It’s still possible that Bernie Sanders could pull off an upset, if he trounces Clinton in a couple of early primaries and the Democrat end of the 80% makes its voice heard, but that’s a long shot. Far more likely at this point is an election pitting Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump—and though Sanders could probably beat Trump, Clinton almost certainly can’t.

Granted, there are plenty of twists and turns ahead as America stumbles through its long, unwieldy, and gaudily corrupt election process. It’s possible that the GOP will find some way to keep Trump from gettng the nomination, in which case whoever gets the Republican nod will lose by a landslide as the GOP end of the 80% stays home. It’s possible that given enough election fraud—anyone who thinks this is purely a GOP habit should read Seymour Hersh’s The Dark Side of Camelot, which details how Joe Kennedy bought the 1960 election for his son—Clinton might still squeak through and get into the White House. It’s even possible that Sanders will claw his way over the barriers raised against him by the Democrat establishment and win the race.

At this point, though, little though I like to say this, the most likely outcome of the 2016 election is the inauguration of Donald Trump as President in January 2017. That’s specific prediction #3.

Then there’s the wider context, the international political situation that’s dominated by a fact next to nobody in this country is willing to discuss: the rapid acceleration of America’s imperial decline and fall over the last year. That’s something I’ve been expecting—I discussed it at length in my book Decline and Fall and also in my near-future political-military thriller novel Twilight’s Last Gleaming—but the details came as a surprise, not only to me, but apparently to everyone outside a few tightly guarded office buildings in Moscow. The Russian intervention in Syria has turned out to be one of the few real game-changing events in recent years, shifting the balance of power decisively against the US in a pivotal part of the world and revealing weaknesses that the illusion of US omnipotence has heretofore concealed. As a result, probably though not certainly before 2016 is over, the Daesh jihadi militia—the so-called “Islamic State”—is going to get hammered into irrelevance.

That latter may turn out to be a significant turning point in more ways than one, because the Daesh phenomenon is considerably more complex than the one-dimensional caricature being presented by the US media. The evidence at this point makes it pretty clear that Daesh is being funded and supported by a number of Middle Eastern nations, with Turkey and Saudi Arabia probably the biggest contributors; those iconic white pickup trucks aren’t popping into being in the middle of the Syrian desert by the sheer grace of Allah, after all. It’s also at least suggestive that the US, in a year of supposed air war against Daesh, not only failed to slow it down, but somehow never managed to notice, much less target, the miles-long convoys of tanker trucks hauling oil north to Turkey to cover the costs of jihad.

Something very murky has been going on in the northern Tigris-Euphrates river valley, and it deserves a post of its own here, since it will very likely will play a major role in the decline of American empire and the rise of a new global hegemony under different management. Regular readers may find it helpful to review this blog’s previous discussion of geopolitics, or even find a stray volume of Halford Mackinder and read it, keeping in mind that regions and continents have Pivot Areas of their own. Still, there’s a specific consequence that’s likely to follow from all this.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a fine example of a phemomenon all too familiar to students of history: a crumbling, clueless despotism which never got the memo warning that it couldn’t get away any longer with acting like a major power. The steady decline in the price of oil has left the kingdom in ghastly financial condition, forced to borrow money on international credit markets to pay its bills, while slashing the lavish subsidies that keep its citizens compliant. A prudent ruling class in that position would avoid foreign adventures and cultivate the kind of good relationships with neighboring powers that would give it room to maneuver in a crisis. As so often happens in such cases, though, the rulers of Saudi Arabia are anything but prudent, and they’ve plunged openly into a shooting war just over its southern borders in Yemen, and covertly but massively into the ongoing mess in Syria and Iraq.

The war in Yemen is not going well—Yemeni forces have crossed the Saudi border repeatedly in raids on southern military bases—and the war in Syria and Iraq is turning out even worse. At this point, the kingdom can’t effectively withdraw from either struggle, nor can it win either one; its internal affairs are becoming more and more troubled, and the treasury is running low. It’s a familiar recipe, and one that has an even more familiar outcome: the abrupt collapse of the monarchy, followed by prolonged chaos until one or more new governments consolidate their power. (Those of my readers who know about the collapse of the Russian, Austro-Hungarian, and Ottoman Empires at the end of the First World War have a heads-up on tomorrow’s news.) When that happens—and at this point, it’s a matter of when rather than if—the impact on the world’s petroleum markets, investment markets, and politics will be jarring and profound, and almost impossible to predict in detail in advance.

The timing of political collapse is not much easier to predict, but here again, I’m going to plop for a date and say that the Saudi regime will be gone by the end of 2016. That’s specific prediction #4.

I admit quite cheerfully that all four of these predictions may turn out to be dead wrong. That the current tech bubble will pop messily, and that the House of Saud will implode just as messily, are to my mind done deals—in both cases, there’s a reliable historical pattern well under way, which will proceed to its predictable conclusion—but the timing is impossible to know in advance. That something or other will be loudly ballyhooed as the next reason privileged Americans don’t have to change their lifestyles, and that the collision between the policies of the Dubyobama era and the resentment and rage of those who’ve paid the cost of those policies will set US politics ablaze, are just as certain, but it’s impossible to be sure in advance that solar PV and Donald Trump will be the beneficiaries.

The simple reality remains that here in America, we’ve poured nearly all our remaining options for constructive change down the ratholes of the future, and the one option that could still accomplish something—the option of changing our lifestyles now, in order to decrease the burden we place on the planet and what’s left of the industrial economy—is considered unthinkable right across the political spectrum. That being the case, those of us who are doing the unthinkable, while we insulate our homes, sell our cars and other energy-wasting items, learn useful skills, and pursue the other pragmatic steps that matter just now, might want to lay in a good supply of popcorn, too; it’s going to be quite a show.


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Doctor Westchester said...


To add something to your response to BoysMom, I'll add this opinion piece by the clueless Rick Newman - Donald Trump wants you to pay more for smartphones, TVs and a lot else. The Donald doesn't even have to talk about peak oil or the end of growth, simply mentioning the idea of putting tariffs on Chinese goods so that our working class might have even half-decent jobs again turns him into a very disgustingly attractive candidate even to me.

And then you go and mention that you think he might fall somewhere between being a Berlusconi or a Mussolini on a Fascist badness scale, i.e. not that bad. He definitely starts looking like the lesser of several weevils.

I think I'll end this comment with a quote from your essay on Weimer America:
"And you, dear reader? At what point along that trajectory would you have decided that for all its seeming promise, for all the youth and enthusiasm and earnestness that surround it, the National Socialist German Workers Party and the folksy, charismatic veteran who led it were likely to be worse—potentially much, much worse—than the weary, dreary, dysfunctional mess of a political system they were attempting to replace? Or would you end up as part of the cheering crowds in that last scene?"

onething said...

" Then I was almost relieved by your comment that he's really as much of an oligarchy pet as any of the others. I wonder, though, what is going to be most upsetting to the Angry Right? Having their poster boy trounced by the evil Hillary, or getting him elected only to discover that he's just another insider?"

That last would be only fair, as this is exactly what happened to Obama's people. Maybe after that, both parties will be well and truly fracked and more people will find common ground.

Agent Provocateur said...


r.e. your "Agent, that seems very plausible. I'm curious -- did you get the three-cycles-and-then-chaos from Toynbee?"

Not consciously. I haven't read Toynbee though no doubt I would benefit from doing so. So I'm guessing he is not an unconscious influence either.

I have no solid logic based reason for picking three cycles and then chaos. Its a guess based on a gut feel of how most complex and somewhat resilient systems tend to responds to shocks. The global economy is resilient but this resilience has limits.

In more detail, this is how I envision it:

The first time cracks the system and it self repairs somewhat. Stunned but not down. Second time brings the beast to its knees but it still functions. It can still respond somewhat. She's really struggling to get up and almost there when bang! The third blow hits. She's now down in the dirt and can no longer resist/adjust. She is still conscious but helpless. She will then be disembowelled and dismembered at leisure.

The third cycle would be occurring just when it an no longer be denied that industrial civilization is in deep deep trouble due to the contraction of annual oil production.

Right now we are on a bit of an overall (not just conventional oil) production plateau. The redefinition of oil to disingenuously include "all liquids" from all sources is a symptom of denial/obfuscation that suit the interests of those so engaged. But by the third bounce (whenever it happens), such tactics won't work since all liquids will be in obvious decline.

1) After the first cycle, the response by the powers that be was likely more or less: "Woa! That was interesting. Must have been due to (insert and reason that seems reasonable). Well lets get this puppy (world economy) back on track"

2) After the second cycle, the response will be likely more or less: "Damn again! Not interesting. Very annoying as this should not have happened because we did (insert thing that was done last time). Oh well, stuff happens whatever the cause. Best keep doing (insert thing that was done last time) because its all we know and gosh it really should work. It is troubling though. Oh, things to do, can't waste time mourning the past"

3) After the third cycle, the response will be likely more or less: "Crap! We really don't know what we are doing and darn but to be honest, this is pretty clear to everyone else too."

This clear and unequivocal loss of legitimacy of itself should create chaos in not just oil prices but pretty much everything else.

Just a guess mind you.

James Bodie said...

tl;Dr the comments. I'm going to be the contrarian and say Donald Trump is the most liberal Republican since Eisenhower. He should pick Clint Eastwood as his running mate and they can pwn the Republicans twice. Personally I like Sanders, but I have grown old waiting for the American polity to get a clue.

YCS said...

I shall try and separate all the different conceptions I have from different places (mostly from fringe American commentators like you) from what I see around me and made a clear-minded post on that when I leave.


Adam Dresser said...

I was thinking Bernie Sanders is our only hope. Clinton is more of the same (including Republican obstruction at every turn in Congress), and Trump (or really any Republican) is clearly a step in the wrong direction. But maybe I should give up on hope.

All I see in the media and everywhere else is divisiveness. Republicans vs. Democrats, Pro-Abortion/Anti-Abortion, pro-gun/anti-gun, blacks against whites, Christians against Muslims (and pretty much everybody else who's not Christian), and on and on. Forget about common culture, common values, or common goals. There is no United in the States of America. To whose advantage is it to divide us up like this so we are all at each other's throats? It certainly seems deliberate.

Somehow tolerance for diversity has morphed into all these groups that feel entitled, and chauvinistic and antagonistic to every other group. How did this happen? It can't end well.

Kevin Warner said...

I use to think that as all these changes would work their way through our everyday lives like some huge industrial machine that would constantly have major gears slipping under strain. A constant ratcheting if you will. Then I realized that it would be more along the lines of a steadily deterioration of both material goods and services as outlined in an old post at
A recent minor example of this here in Australia is how in the New Year, stamps for a regular letter from Australia Post went up from 70c to $1. The kicker here is that mail will now take two days longer to deliver. If you want your mail to go at the same speed that it has the past few decades, you will have to pay a new special priority service of $1.50. Need I say that the bloke in charge use to be a corporate banker with a present $4.8 million salary?
I have had to amend this line of thought recently, however, due to what is being forced on many countries i.e. austerity policies. In spite of all empirical evidence that these policies cause massive unnecessary damage to the economy and the lives of it people, there is a sheer bloody-mindedness in the relentless pursuit of this policy.
It occurred to me then that if you wanted to enforce a major ramp-down of people's expectations of both the economy and governmental services, what better way than to use the excuse of a financial crisis to say, There Is No Alternative and to consequently downgrade expectations wholesale for a whole population? A brutal piece of social engineering but it would not be the first time something like this was done.

Dennis D said...

Some thoughts from a Canadian perspective. On Trump, he is being marketed as an outsider to the political scene, while Hillary is the ultimate insider. He has grabbed hold of the general distrust of DC in this, and I can see him being successful with it. The province of Alberta voted out one of the longest standing parties in the last election, unfortunately the current government keeps thinking that they won, rather then the old guard losing.
On the European refuge crisis, it has all the hallmarks of an act of war, as the affected countries will have so many internal problems that they will be unable to act outside their own borders.
On PV, as an owner of non-subsidized PV, I can say that it is a better investment than any stock market gamble. At least the owner of the panels has a chance to stop the attempted theft of their investment, as compared to reading that their supposed stock or bond is now worthless, and the persons with inside info are safe on a private island somewhere. Physical control of a income producing (or more correctly offsetting) asset will become more important as more ethereal investments are "Corizined" into the ether.
As to the Tech bubble crashing, I would predict the the current big names can be allowed to crash, and the anointed insiders will pick up the best parts for pennies on the dollar, then get out-sized profits on whatever the new company is named (possibly the old names will be recycled),and all the little investors will once again be fleeced.
In other words, I pretty much agree with you

Kyle Schuant said...

One possibility not mentioned by anyone is that the high production and low prices are for KSA a deliberate choice. There are two possible motivations for this.

The first is to kill off shale oil and other competition. One supermarket chain in Australia got in legal trouble for selling bread below cost to squash the local baker, after which they raised prices again.

Further to this, there may be a sense of "sell it before people stop wanting it." This has motivated my own home state of Victoria to try to export brown coal to India. It's widely-said in the coal industry that in 20-30 years people may no longer want anywhere as much coal as they do now, so there's a rush to export and lock in long-term contracts rather than be left with a resource people no longer want. Whatever our arguments on eroei of pv etc, the fossil fuel companies certainly see them as competition and feel their own days are numbered. Something similar may motivate KSA. If a few fracking companies collapse we may see big oil price rises.

Secondly, they may be trying to destroy Russia and Iran as they did USSR in the 1980s. Russia like the USSR before it relies on oil exports for much of its foreign income. In the 1980s they exported oil to earn cash to buy Western food, opec didn't like their invasion of Afghanistan so decided to hurt them with the oil price. The US encouraged this since cheap oil was good for the US (net importer in the 1980s) and bad for the SU.

Russia and Iran are both helping fight the people KSA support - radical Sunnis. And again the USA isn't too sad to see Russia struggle militarily (in Ukraine rather than Aghanistan) and economically, and they're definitely not fond of Iran, either.

Genevieve Hawkins said...

Dubyobama era...I love that. They're corrupt from the same cloth yet a lot of people assume I'm a "clueless Millenial Obama voter." Don't you know he was Diebolded into office?
A bad stock market is good for Sanders so prediction wise I'll hang my hat on him the people want bread and will understand if there are no circusses. Nobody ever wants to change until they have to change. Bigger problem is how much borrowed/fake money is being spent to bring this new oil into the world. But is it really a problem if the numbers are digits on a screen?

Marcu said...

@Michael Kalk
The post you are looking for can be found here:
A Deindustrial Reading List

Martin Larner said...

Another point worth mentioning on the subject of social media, is that I've always believed that a large proportion of the funding comes from the government anyway, since they've clearly always been spying devices, designed for surveillance and control of the population. There's no way they could have got going in the first place without such backing and it's likely their status as Corporations is mostly a front.

I fail to see how the small amount of advertising they do could possibly fund all those servers, offices and employees. So I expect Facebook & Twitter to be around some time yet, but it will be increasingly murky (yet simultaneously obvious) where the money is coming from as time goes on.

Cherokee Organics said...


Tomorrow afternoon is set aside for writing the barn-burner. I'm really riled today as a guy on a horse trespassed on the edge of the orchard and then had the cheek to threaten me with the horse. Where is a good pike or staff when I need one?

Solar PV is really great stuff, it just doesn't make economic sense. None at all. Really. None. And I tell people over and over again that it costs me something like $0.85/kWh to be on off grid solar and power the house with 100% solar energy (no fossil fuel generators either). And that means living with only 3.5kWh/day energy for 3 weeks either side of the winter solstice.

And you'd think they'd say something like: Wow, that's expensive and how do you get by on such a small energy usage in the depths of winter?

But no, they say the system must be not set up right, and I have this friend who has this friend who gets 25kWh/day on average over winter from their 5kW solar power system and they're exporting more energy to the grid than they use and they get cheques from the energy companies for supplying unicorn flatuence, and why don't you export your excess power back to the grid, you're selfish. Honestly!!!!! Grrrrr!!!!

I feel much better now, thanks for this forum to have a really good rant.

Seriously, the dead giveaway for me about these grid tied solar photo voltaic systems is that people only ever discuss two things about them:

- What is my return on investment for this solar power system? Note the use of the word "my"; and

- How much the system generated on the very best day of the year? - which is usually a cool day around the summer solstice.

It is a dead give-away, because I have never met another person in the flesh who has said to me: You know, I'm really worried about the future. I'm worried about the kind of future that my kids are going to inherit. I'm worried about the fact that my kids and their kids might hate my guts for destroying this beautiful planet and making the whole climate so unstable, that they're probably going to know what true hunger is. You know what, I think I might buy me some solar panels and put them on the roof and simply live with the energy that they provide me - and no more - because I'm genuinely worried about that future.

But no, they're usually worried about how much money they're going to make and this subsidy and that rebate and this export tariff. Honestly, it's not a good look.

Oh, I think I've slipped into ranting again. Oh well.

Ohhhh! Now I remember the other bit too. If one more person says to me: Look phone batteries have come down in price so much in recent times that surely home deep cycle battery systems will come down in price too. It’s just a matter of time and you just have to wait you’ll see, they’ll be everywhere. I heard from this guy that knows this guy who reckons that he knows an insider who reckons that battery prices will definitely come down any day now. By the way, he’s offering stock options on a battery company… Anyway, if they do say such, I think I’ll scream! Seriously, they’ll hear it all the way up in winter land that is the northern hemisphere!

It was a good rant wasn’t it? :-)! If only it wasn’t all true. The situation is a bit sad really.

PS: I'm enjoying the Merlin book too. Very thoughtful and a quirky read too and he has a truly delightful writing style.



Patricia Mathews said...

And for an alternative view of where we are, for sheer "what universe are you living in?", I give you our resident techno-optimist leading the cheerleaders with:

Meanwhile, David Kaiser over at Time Magazine, suggests that ISIS's real target is neither Israel nor the West, but those diabolical, infidel, non-Arab,etc ... Shia!

And the crappification of all things in 2015 is no news to me. I ordered another batch of the support hose I've been wearing for a couple of years, and noted I was getting the same quality as last year's - after the latter had been worn for a year! And it's harder to get good quality vintage clothing at my local charity thrift shops, formerly an always-reliable source. But the FDA is assiduously protecting my cat from receiving the organ meat that actually helps with his condition, may the inspectors be forced to try to pill him every morning - without gauntlets or other armor. Merrily we roll along .... and Happy New Year!

Shane W said...

It's interesting that that the idea of a 2nd Constitutional Convention has moved from the fringes to the mainstream, with support from Rubio & now Abbott. Makes me think that JMG's scenario in Twilight's Last Gleaming is even more likely, especially if you've got an insurgency making dissolution all the more pressing. BTW, there is a lot more to the Cow-liphate than just the Bundys and the refuge. It is symptomatic of something bigger.

Nastarana said...

Mr. Geer, I wonder which segment of the elites do you think are backing the Sanders campaign? What comes to my mind is that he might be the candidate of the more reasonable part of the pro-Israel lobby who may have come to understand that they need to make some deals, such as with anti GMO activists, to keep the present levels of support for Israel in place.

Dear Ed Boyle, as you may have read or heard, the incidence of violent crimes has declined in the USA in recent years. I can't prove it, but I nevertheless suspect that one factor which has helped bring about that decline is the ubiquity of hand held recording devices. I have heard of organized groups of citizens making video camera patrols in high crime areas, not excluding recording the license plate numbers of "Johns" seeking services along the stroll. Maybe German and Austrian citizens might want to try something similar?

Repent said...

I don't know if you ever work your way down to comment #300- but just as an aside, as I have mentioned before, people are waking up. The sheer volume of comments on your blog this week as evidence of this.

I work for a food wholesaler, recently the quality of some produce items has declined noticeably; leading to almost daily complaints by our customers. It's clear that many people really do believe that food comes from the store, not from nature. Recently, English cucumbers as a real example, are now 2 inches shorter on average, and half the width as they were last year, and people don't understand that it is a crop failure. That this is not a deliberate way of cutting corners. We had one customer so annoyed by this, we had to send someone out to pick through boxes and boxes of English cucumbers to pick out only the largest ones to send to this one customer to keep them happy. I can't imagine what would happen if one year the crops actually do fail?

Excellent post as always!

jean-vivien said...

Hello John,

I'm not sure you will have some posts to spare so as to advance your Retrotopia narrative. It seems that the news is now catching up with us faster than we can comment it.

There is a point to churches after all... those candles are hard to light up in the Parisian climate ! Here we commemorate our victims by lighting candles on attack locations. Closing symbolically a year of consternating news both from the Middle-East and from my own country where I live, which presses me/us to reflect on the past year before even trying to contemplate what 2016 could bring. Now I (maybe We ?) listen to the news a lot : when I hear of terror attacks in Kabul or the Middle East, mentioned briefly in passing... I can't help but think, it's been such a great deal for us, but it's only a tiny fraction of the horrors happening there, what will be the impact, wars for generations to come... what a sad, frigging waste.

Other than that, here in our lovely capital city, automated cashier machines have made their entrance in the supermarkets. Big or small, remote or central, all the supermarkets generating enough revenue to afford the technology have jumped into the bandwagon. Ah pesky human nature, if thou did not have in ye the compulsion to steal, we could thence afford completely unmanned supermarkets... in the meantime,
everybody is defending laicity, basically freedom of speech, of thought and of spirituality all guaranteed by keeping religious practice in the private sphere and away from state representation or activities.

What nobody articulates is that laicity is just one of many possible arrangements regarding the integration of spiritual activities in the public sphere. As much as I do support this particular arrangement, the fact is, it comes bundled nowadays into a package of other social arrangements, one of which is the set of arrangements and exchanges we call "the economy". Nowadays, "the economy" constantly creates more arrangements removing meaning from our daily lives in one place, with outsourcing, deloacalizations, automatization... Gone are the heydays of the Trente Glorieuses.

One of the unmentionable reasons behind the success and now endurance of ISIS is that it succeeded in creating a less wasteful set of economical arrangements, which give practical meaning to their people's daily lives... even if that comes along with enforcing so many other totally unacceptable arrangements whose horror largely exceeds the trivial benefits of a daily life that somehow works.

In the media, a report came out that the number of women joining ISIS was increasing... when we know what joining that so-called "state" means for women. It would unfortunately tend to support my analysis above.

I can see several stages in dealing with a fluctuating state of world events : the first challenge is to actually identify and articulate the important questions, the second one is to come up with possible answers, the third one would be to discuss and verbally compare those answers, and the fourth one would be to confront answers to the actual march of the world around us. The fifth one for now still belongs to the realm of speculative social fiction, and it would be the comparison, adaptation and selection, of answers that actually work. There might be some intermediate steps along the way, like refing the feedback mechanisms that we would use to test the answers against reality...

But the fact is, here in Ecnarf, we are only starting to collectively grapple with the first stage, while all the other stages are unfolding just among a tiny minority. When I can see what it has taken to get us to stage one, all over the course of one mad year of violence and intolerance from all involved parties, I shudder to infer what it will take to get around to seriously get started onto those other stages.

So, to take a twist on the usual worn-out phrase, happy new dealings with 2016 !

John Michael Greer said...

Eric, why, yes, I'd noticed that. It's one of quite a number of factors that suggest to me that this country is on the brink of going all-out retro in the years to come.

Ed, I put this comment through because I want my American readers to have some idea of what the situation looks like on the ground in Europe. Generally, though, please minimize the off-topic heat-generating comments.

Cherokee, the thing is, the fracking industry isn't actually being sustained -- the bankruptcies are piling up, production of crude oil is down, companies are pulling out of fracking zones, and so on. The only thing that's being sustained is the illusion, generated by the US media, that fracking is a revolutionary new whatsit that's going to solve our energy problems -- and even that's being quietly relegated to the back pages now. In another year, you won't see a whisper on the mainstream US media that fracking was ever described in those terms.

Raven, thanks for the link.

Nuku, thanks for the perspective. It interests me how many people talk about grid power as though it's the only power that matters, when it's a small fraction of total energy use.

Mirela, fascinating. Thank you.

Mark/Yupped, no, things haven't slowed back down. What happened as 2015 dawned is that it became very clear to me that we've, ahem, progressed far enough down the curve of decline that serious consequences are beginning to pop up all over the place, and plans that presuppose lots of time to make things happen are pretty much past their pull date. I'm glad to hear you've made those changes; you may have gotten to them just in time.

Zentao, the problem with that approach is that most people are only willing to think about sudden phase transitions, and many of them misunderstand what "sudden" means in historical terms. Meanwhile massive changes, including phase transitions, are happening all around us, but the pace -- being that of history, rather than Hollywood -- is just slow enough that nobody's noticing. Nor, may I point out, am I just suggesting closing some windows -- quite the contrary, one of the reasons so many people like to ignore the kind of predictions I'm making is that they often amount to "abandon your home and move to higher ground before the rising waters drown you." It's a lot more comfortable to sit at home and wait for the sudden changes that don't happen...

Dau, thanks for the link!

Seb, that's very good to hear. As for shooting fish in a barrel, why, yes, that's half the fun -- not least because so many people take the same shot and hit themselves in the foot instead.

Bill, oh, I figured -- but it looked as though you thought I was predicting something far more drastic, particularly with regard to tech stocks, than I was.

Moshe Braner said...

This relates to both this week's topic (our near future) and the ongoing Retrotopia theme. First known serious cyber-attack on electrical grid reported from Ukraine:

"Hackers likely caused a Dec. 23 electricity outage in Ukraine by remotely switching breakers to cut power, after installing malware to prevent technicians from detecting the attack, according to a report ... [which] also said the attackers crippled the utility's customer-service center by flooding it with phone calls ...

... The utility's operators were able to quickly recover by switching to manual operations, essentially disconnecting infected workstations and servers from the grid, ..."

- what I can't understand is why would anybody set up critical infrastructure in way that can be directly manipulated remotely from the internet at large? Oh well, I'm just out of touch with "progress". I don't understand the reasons for the push towards self-driving cars either.

latheChuck said...

Cherokee- I recognize myself in your complaint about the PV advocates (and owners) who talk only about the self-centered financial aspects. But to some extent that's because I want to appear "rational", and not excessively idealistic. (I'm rethinking that strategy.)

It also anticipates the frequent response to any local action in response to a global problem: "But your choices are utterly insignificant compared to (your neighbor, your military, the Chinese, ....). You're bailing the ocean with a teaspoon! Why exert yourself for nothing?" Then, I can say "Well, it's not 'for nothing', it's so I can collect the subsidies,(as Denis said, above) put some idle cash into a tangible investment, something that won't evaporate with the whims of The Market, and to isolate myself from future rate increases."

In fact, my grid-tied home uses about 12 kWh/day (winter), which breaks even with the output of my 5 kW solar system on a SUNNY day in early January (mid-winter in Maryland). We've had some sunny days lately, and we've had some dark ones. It looks like we'll come close to breaking even for a full year. I know that I'm burning coal and splitting atoms to type this message, but I think the main demand factor here is electric cooking appliances (incl. refrigeration). I'm sitting under well-dimmed LED lamps.

Damo said...


The Tesla T-2000 sounds like it needs 3 awful sequels (well I didn't mind the third so much I guess). It could be worse. They could call it the 6000-SUX!


I sometimes (when I try to discuss it) have the some problem in my circle of friends (most of them very intelligent). Thought stoppers galore, or they agree with me to shut me up. Once I tried to find a sensible place on the internet to discuss EROEI issues with the aim of having a bunch of smart people try and convince me "they will think of something". Unfortunately, while it was easy to find smart people who like discussing technical issues. It is very hard and time consuming to weed out the thought stoppers and deliberate obtuseness. I might try again one day as I think it is important to have ones opinions and assumptions tested.

@Doctor Westchester
"lesser of several weevils"
It is a shame that voting often ends up this way. No doubt it has always been this way. Fictional naval captains would know what to do!

re: whats in it for me with solar PV
Remember a few years back when the (apparently world ending - irony!) carbon tax was introduced. The newspaper front pages and TV spots were literally just spelling out the financial benefits for individuals. Whats in it for me writ large. No mention of the environment, the importance of at least trying to reduce carbon output etc etc. It was all rather disgusting.

nuku said...

Re grid electric power as a fraction of total energy use: My understanding of why many people, including Greenies, are unaware of this fact (and its significance) is that so many people are completely out of real physical touch with the gritty industrial reality that undergirds their lives. Food comes from the supermarket, and almost all other commodities come from sanitized shops in a mall. The dirty, sweaty, mostly oil-powered heavy industry behind all this is hidden, for the most part, from the middle class. Its either off-shore or in some out of the way part of town.
The heavy-duty industries like ship-building, steel making, auto making, agribusiness, mining, oil production, commercial transport, etc, which use lots of nonelectric energy are mostly out of the consciousness of the average Joe, who only thinks of energy in terms of what he uses in his house, nice clean job, and personal car. Most people work in "service" or finance or IT jobs; they don't make anything. The personal and job related energy use that they see everyday is electricity coming out of a socket in the wall to power a computer, kitchen appliance, electric lights, heat pumps, etc.
Running a small car or bike on grid electricity via batteries, or maybe short range urban public transport is all he thinks about when he talks about "electrifying" transport. Try running an 18 wheel articulated big rig, a huge open pit mining machine with tires 10 feet tall, or a D8 bulldozer on batteries.
This is why I have to laugh whenever I hear folks talking about how all we have to do is electrify everything, generate the electricity with "alternative" sources, and Industrial Civilization (and their current lifestyles) can continue on its BAU merry way.

rapier said...

For tragicomic relief and in the vein of the Titanic passenger vote here is another riff along the same lines. The last post made at the best blog ever,self declared, Fafblog.

And then if your interested arguably the greatest blog post ever made.

Mean Mr Mustard said...


Apropos the Lakeland drone shoots and projecting basic but effective military force not hollowed out by Lardbucket budgets, here's a very interesting summary of the Força Aerea Brasileira.

Your long term forecast for Brazil being covered in Retropia and all...



Juhana said...

@ed boyle: I hear you man. As Scandinavian myself, I cannot even begin to describe disgust political correctness and liberal leftism causes in me and most working class males of Finland I know. We at least have started to defend ourselves, but Sweden is total madhouse nowadays. Throat cuttings and mass rapes by immigrants every week, and answer to that problem is to have more anti-racism rallies. I believe migrant crisis is THE biggest problem facing us now. If we as tribes of Europe do not survive and fight back this wave of conquest, other peak oil problems does not concern us anymore, as killed or enslaved persons don't have those worries any more. But you waste your breath here, because most readers of this blog attack you vehemently for expressing thoughts deviating from the Party line. Go to Return of Kings or Roosh V if you want more sympathetic internet crowd. Real life comrades are still far better. And even if your deviant thoughts come from your daily experience, and you only want to defend your dearest ones from rape and physical abuse, they still condemn you. In PC world, even having ideas about self-defence against dark skinned attackers is wrong wrong wrong, because racism and nazism and white privilege you know. Whites, even native European Whites who have been living in their lands from last Ice Age onwards are always wrong, always opressors for these folks.

JMG, that is probably reason why Trump is doing so good in US right now. He attacks against those PC fortresses, that actually are status quo and the Man right now. Liberal leftist want to be seen as heroic counter-cultural revolutionaries, but there is nothing revolutionary in being feminist, multiculturalist, environmental activist or some other cultist of rainbow flag variety. Those "revolutionaries" are the staus quo today, the spearhead of liberalism. In the West, victory of generation of '68 is total. People who actually have to pay price for failures of that grandiose secular religion established by flower generation are sick of it, because it does not work on grassroots level. It is as simple as that. It does not work, as Marxism or radical nationalism did not work before this new secular religion of flower power. It must fall, and Trump is first ray of hope for bringing it down in US. He is first person in your internal politics who resembles vaguely the New Right of Europe. There are differences, his flamboyancy and moneyed status being most prominent, but still now you have had first breeze from New Right blowing to your face. And we who are its voting base, mostly native working classes and lower middle classes, for us they are our only and last hope.

Phil Harris said...

I love America, truly, when as in this case in the person of Jada Thacker, it can look itself squarely in the eye. Hat tip TAE for this dissection of history Any comments on accuracy?

Colonial atrocity is even getting a look-in (a bit) over here in Britland.

dfr2010 said...

Like SLClaire, I have goals instead of predictions this year again. This year, I am planting by the signs as well as bringing in more material to improve my ashtray-sand soil. I am hatching my F1 generation of chickens, and will be exporting instead of importing with those. The guineas may breed as well - with or without my permission or knowledge! LOL I now have a trio of rabbits, and am on a list to get a dairy goat and her kids one week after kidding this spring.

I also have been feeling a vague feeling of unease and urgency. That and two dollars will get you a cup of regular coffee at one of the local sole proprietorships around here.

Lynnet said...

Adam Dresser,
The divisiveness is real, and has been fostered by the MSM. They can sell more newspapers, get more eyeballs, etc., by lining us up into two warring factions. Additionally, many news outlets now have a distinct slant, so that if you get all your news from one particular provider, you can live in a dreamworld where everybody agrees with you, demonizing everyone who does not agree with you. This is true on both sides of the divide. In olden days, reporters tried not to take sides, but to present issues in a non-partisan way so that people could understand them and more or less agree.

Finally, I see that anything that is not absolutely mainstream corporate thought is relegated to the wild-eyed fringe. So, for example, if you think mercury has no place in your mouth, you are lined up with the chem-trail people and other "science-denying" conspiracy mongers.

Hubertus Hauger said...

Our life will till 2050 (point of collapse according to Club of Rome) deteriorate to less than 5 % of what we do possess now. On that way down, compared to history, common strategy to survive will be violence and cooperation. Weaker individuals and societies will be bullied, robbed and enslaved. The struggle for each others possessions and usable infrastructure has begun and warring times will carrying on for the transition and afterwards. That competion for MORE will keep the fire burning.

Yet working together will keep us florishing and most of the agression in check. Just as it is today. So future will be as past has always been. Mostly labour, often feast, sometimes fight. My prediction for the eternity streching out in front of us.

richard b said...

From my reading up on global warming it seems plausible that this battle is already lost and that we can look forward to an ever warmer world for decades to come. Also, we are likely to burn all our remaining fossil fuels trying to keep 10bn people alive on the planet.

It's shocking that all this will happen this century and in the span of a human lifetime.

But long before this process concludes must come the crash of stock markets and the collapse of the banking system.

Many people out there have the sense that the next big crash will bring the system down. Let's hope that this doesn't go down in 2016.

Shane W said...

the peoples of the Nation States of Europe do not date to the last ice age, they date to the fall of the Roman Empire, where they trace their lineage to the barbarian tribes and where they settled (Franks-France, Anglo-Saxons-England, etc.) Nobody today lived where they lived before the fall of the Roman Empire, if I recall correctly, the people that now inhabit Spain came from roughly Ukraine.

latheChuck said...

I'm about 1/3 through Jared Diamond's 2012 book: "The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies?" By "traditional societies", Diamond means non-Western, non-state societies; bands of hunter-gatherers or subsistence farmers, mostly in New Guinea, but also those who inhabit the Amazon basin, the Arctic, and sub-Saharan Africa. Topics include dispute-resolution, child care (or not!), elder care (or not!), the functions of religion, and languages.

If you suspect that current systems of civil and criminal justice will break down with "Collapse", it might be a good idea to see how people maintain social and trade relations who never had such systems.

It's also entertaining to see how exotic "primitive" behaviors are still around us, whether the status symbol is a throwing a pig roast in the jungle or a blowout anniversary party with open bar at both dinner and breakfast.

William Church said...

John, I await your Trump post eagerly. I am really interested to see if we agree on the secret of his success.

I've said for years that if a man or woman was willing to attack immigration and trade policy he could form a political consensus that would last for decades. It isn't immigration or trade per se that has people so enraged. It is that both have been used as economic and political weapons against an ever growing slice of the populace.

Both parties have sold them out relentlessly on these issues for decades now. They are mad and why not? I'm mad about it myself. The fact that an imbecile like Trump can exploit these issues to rocket to the charts shows their potency.

The fact that 95% of pundits can't crack this code tells you everything you need to know about the circles of people they never encounter.


August Johnson said...

Moshe - I worked at a Rural Electric Utility with 40,000 customers for 13 years, I too can't understand the desire to connect such a delicate internal network to the Internet - yet it's done all the time! Our internal SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) network, including all the computers that controlled all our substations and remote switching devices was connected to the Internet with just a cheap $800 or so router.

This was done by the system provider themselves (who shall remain un-named, but they are a major player) so that they could do remote software support. Every utility that uses their systems will be done that way. I saw NO intrusion detection software on their servers. Nobody would listen to little old me since Management wanted the most up to date system! I'm sure every other utility is the same!

pygmycory said...

Juhana and Ed, I've been reading about the New Years attacks in Cologne and elsewhere that you mention. It's pretty disturbing, and increases my worries for Europe's future.

A friend in Germany tells me that non-white immigrants in Germany often have a hard time integrating and don't get treated very well even after they've been there many years, or if were born there but are non-white. Might this be aggravating Europe's problems?

Between the attacks on asylum seekers in Europe and the mass sexual assaults with asylum seekers as some of the accused, and marginalization of earlier immigrants Europe has a problem. When you add that to Europe's many other problems, such as the EU bureaucracy's determination to steal from the poor and give to the rich, economic inequality within and between states, and its usurpation of democracy in Greece, it looks like a potentially explosive situation to me.

Jason Panno said...

I wasn't going to comment as it's rather late in the week, but I had to after I saw this.

Juhana wrote:
"JMG, that is probably reason why Trump is doing so good in US right now. He attacks against those PC fortresses, that actually are status quo and the Man right now. Liberal leftist want to be seen as heroic counter-cultural revolutionaries, but there is nothing revolutionary in being feminist, multiculturalist, environmental activist or some other cultist of rainbow flag variety. Those "revolutionaries" are the staus quo today, the spearhead of liberalism. In the West, victory of generation of '68 is total. People who actually have to pay price for failures of that grandiose secular religion established by flower generation are sick of it, because it does not work on grassroots level. It is as simple as that. It does not work, as Marxism or radical nationalism did not work before this new secular religion of flower power. It must fall, and Trump is first ray of hope for bringing it down in US. He is first person in your internal politics who resembles vaguely the New Right of Europe. There are differences, his flamboyancy and moneyed status being most prominent, but still now you have had first breeze from New Right blowing to your face. And we who are its voting base, mostly native working classes and lower middle classes, for us they are our only and last hope."

As a 27 year old working class white male living in 'middle america', who is almost certainly going to vote for Trump, I'd say this is spot on the reason he is getting so much support. The economic angle is certainly part of it, but I'd say this is far greater.

One of the subjects you've covered at length on this blog is how humans behave when the stories they've been telling themselves to explain the world stop matching the reality around them. That they double down on what used to work in the past, or what is 'supposed to work' according to their narrative, to the point of absurdity and eventually the 'story' in question is abandoned. I cant help but notice that this process is well into motion for the narratives underlying the social mores of the contemporary west. I've been wondering for a while why it hasn't been brought up here...

I look forward to your analysis of the 'Trump phenomena' Mr. Greer, both for your unique perspective and to see how it stacks up with my own motivations and those of other trump supporters I've talked to.

Anyway though, since everyone else in the comment section is making predictions for the year, I'll make my observation into one. I consider it to be of the slam-dunk variety:

'The narratives of equality that make up the social mores of today will continue to die. Activists for 'social justice' will continue to pursue strategies that actively hurt their own cause, and generally look more and more absurd to the general public. An increasing number of people will find that they cannot identify or agree with some part of the social mores of the day and will find themselves labeled as haters. With this 'hater' label they will find themselves far more open to the arguments of other 'haters', and the number of people who want to throw the entire edifice into the compost heap will grow.'

John Michael Greer said...

Edde, if the US can end up in as good shape as Cuba is now, I'll be astonished. Dmitry Orlov likes to talk about the "collapse gap" between Russia and the US -- the fact that Russians were much better prepared for their collapse than we are for ours -- and the same point can be made squared, cubed, and with chocolate sauce with regard to Cuba.

Sherril, many thanks!

Shawn, quite the contrary. Ownership of Saudi Aramco is the sole basis of the wealth and power of the House of Saud, the thing that keeps them from being just another set of minor Third World despots; if they're prepared to sell off even a minority share, they must be absolutely desperate.

Avalterra, it's certainly worked for me!

RPC, and we're going to get the immense wealth needed for such a buildout where? As for Trump, stay tuned.

Grandmom, of course not. In 1856, when he was causing trouble in Kansas, nobody thought of John Brown the way we now think of John Brown.

Shane, so noted. One thing a lot of Southerners don't realize -- and it's surprising, given their general awareness of the ways that Southern culture has been erased from the broader American consciousness -- is that outside the former Confederacy, Southern political thought is by definition flattened out into a bedsheet-bedecked caricature, and a book such as I'll Take My Stand that doesn't fit that caricature is simply ignored. I'd heard of it, dimly, but if you'd asked me what it was about before you'd posted that explanation, I'd have been at a loss -- and I'm tolerably well informed, for an American, about the history of political thought in this country. I'll scare up a copy as time permits.

Hello/Erika, I'm delighted to hear that I've inspired a dance! I wish I had something useful to say about the spiraling mess in the Bay area, and everywhere else the tech bubble and its associated electronic addictions have taken root, but I fled that world a long time ago. Stay safe.

Tripp, delighted to hear that things are still moving ahead in your world.

Alexandra, that's our modern taboo. You can talk about sex, you can talk about death, you can talk about any bodily function you want, but if you try to talk about the simple realities that civilizations fall and progress is subject to the law of diminishing returns, you'll get the most frantic sort of reactions.

Quos Ego, hmm. My memory may be at fault, then -- I recall discussing the whole fast-crash fantasy with her some years back, without much result. I'll doublecheck.

Agent, funny.

Martin, I didn't get into the future of Europe because, as I never tire of saying, I've never lived there and don't know the facts on the ground. The only reason I'm discussing the Middle East at this point is that, due to decades of stupid decisions in Washington DC, the fate of the US is hopelessly entangled with what happens there.

John Michael Greer said...

Michael, you'll find it here. (To my mind, my 2009 posts include some of the very best things I've written -- glad to see they haven't been completely forgotten.)

Anastassia, many thanks for this! The article's useful enough that I've posted the link here -- I think many of my readers will find it as interesting as I have.

Daergi, well, that's why I noted that readers would need to track the acceleration of the economic downturn by watching layoffs and store closings, because the official statistics are pure propaganda. Fortunately, all four of my specific predictions are fairly hard to fake.

Shane, some soldiers will follow orders; others won't. Once the second category becomes big enough -- well, the US has been hiring a lot of mercenaries these days, and I would expect that to play a major role in the Second Civil War, too.

Pygmycory, that's pretty good.

Buddha, thanks for the link. Trump is easy to underestimate; I'll be discussing that in much more detail as we proceed.

Hubertus, the future is under no obligation to wait for us to get ready for it. I've been pointing out for years that time is short and any constructive action needs to get under way sooner rather than later. At this point? If we're lucky, it's now or never; if's just too late.

Buddha, yes, I'd heard. Expect much more of this in the future.

Phil, no, you're not lost, they are. I propose we start calling it "vicial reality" -- vicial is to virtual, after all, as vicious is to virtuous...

Daniel, yep. Stay tuned.

Ray, hmm. Well, we'll see.

John Michael Greer said...

Doctor, exactly. A recent poll claims that 20% of registered Democrats will vote for Trump if it's him or Hillary Clinton; I expect that number will grow, simply because a smaller and smaller fraction of Americans can stand another four years of the Dubyobama consensus.

Agent, fascinating. That's fairly close to Toynbee's reasoning, curiously enough.

James, I'd rather see Sanders than Trump get the office, for that matter, but I gave up waiting for Americans to get a clue a very long time ago.

YCS, thank you. I'll look forward to it.

Adam, unfortunately this kind of divisiveness is standard for a society on the way down. A growing economy makes most people willing to be patient and share out the wealth, since everyone gets a bigger slice; a contracting economy -- and if you cut out the financial hallucinations of Wall Street et al., the US economy has been contracting for years -- makes everyone cling to their own slice like grim death. As for hope, well, hoping that things will get better is not a strategy. What do you, personally, propose to do?

Kevin, I'm pretty sure that's much of what's behind the neoconservative fetish for austerity for everyone but the rich.

Dennis, agreed. I'm very much in favor of non-grid-tied PV, when it's paired with the sharp reductions in energy use that are necessary to make it function.

Kyle, I'm pretty sure that Saudi Arabia started producing all out to try to crush the competition from fracking -- that is to say, they bought into the propaganda, and didn't realize that all they had to do was sit tight and cut their production a bit until the bubble popped. The problem now is that if they cut their production, other oil producers can keep on pumping flat out and make more money. It's a real Prisoner's Dilemma situation!

Genevieve, it's a problem because the money is a proxy measure for real goods and services that have to be diverted from the rest of the economy to keep the oil flowing. Economists have forgotten that, which is one of the reasons their predictions are always wrong.

Martin, that's an interesting hypothesis. Once the bubble pops, we'll just have to see what happens.

Cherokee, it was indeed a good rant! I wish I could take all the people who like to insist that their comfortable middle class lifestyles can be powered forever on sun and wind, herd them into an auditorium, and make them listen to your explanation of why they're smoking their shorts. Oh, and I'd like to do this in high summer somewhere near where you live, and the air conditioning for the auditorium is powered solely by PV panels! Glad you like the Merlin book -- it's a classic.

Patricia, and a happy and hopefully less crappy new year to you and yours. Thanks for the links; the first one may just be the funniest piece of unintentional comedy I've yet read in 2016.

John Michael Greer said...

Shane, exactly -- and exactly. The business in Oregon is a symptom.

Nastarana, as I'm not privy to the internal machinations of the current elite, I won't try to guess what factions among the wealthy and powerful have decided to back Sanders. It's not a strong faction, clearly, or he'd have more media presence; it'll be interesting to see what happens if he scores an upset in the early primaries, as he might.

Repent, thanks for the dispatch from the front lines! I've seen the same thing in other contexts; sudden collision between the American middle classes and reality in 3, 2, 1...

Jean-Vivien, thanks for the news from Ecnarf! That more women are joining Daesh -- this doesn't actually surprise me at all. It's only in the fantasies of the privileged that all women everywhere form a single voting bloc that shares the values and ideologies of Hillary Clinton's supporters.

Moshe, I don't know. Why would anyone connect their refrigerator, their home security system, and -- gods help us, this is real -- their toothbrush to the internet? It seems fantastically stupid to me: "Hey, let me surrender every last scrap of privacy, security, and autonomy to a global network riddled with theft, espionage, sabotage, corruption, and the distilled essence of human nastiness -- what could possibly go wrong?" Some things just beg for a response from Darwinian evolution.

Nuku, exactly. It's precisely the same logic that leads computer geeks to insist that the internet must be affordable because they can meet their monthly internet service fees by posting cute kitten pictures.

Rapier, thank you. With regard to "change you can suspend your disbelief in," I;m reminded of JRR Tolkien's acerbic comment that sometimes disbelief has not so much to be suspended as hanged, drawn, and quartered.

Mustard, many thanks! That'll feature in a future post about the past as the wave of the military future.

Juhana, yes, that's an important part of it. I'll be exploring that in much more detail in the upcoming post I've mentioned.

Phil, from my perspective, it's a bit one-track but not enough so to be inaccurate. The conquest and ongoing subjugation of this continent is not a pretty picture -- and there will, all things considered, eventually be a reckoning for it.

Dfr2010, if your sense of unease leads you to take constructive action, all to the good.

Hubertus, you're aware, aren't you, that I've been saying that for decades now?

Richard, many people out there also had the sense in 2007 that the next big crash would bring the system down. It didn't. One of these days, I hope that those people will learn from their mistakes and recognize that waiting for an imaginary sudden collapse is a waste of everyone's time.

LatheChuck, I'd be more interested if he'd taken the time to study how these things work out in dark ages, because the aftermath of a fallen civilization makes for very different conditions from those in areas that haven't recently been through decline and fall. That said, it's a step in the right direction.

John Michael Greer said...

William, I see your crystal ball is in good working order. You've touched on a core theme of the upcoming Trump post.

Jason, thanks for the input from the front lines. The self-defeating bullying of so-called "social justice warriors" is, to my mind, only one facet of a much broader phenomenon which has a great deal to do with the chasm in American society that Trump's figured out how to bridge -- and that bridge may well lead him straight to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, not least because none of his opponents are willing or able to see the chasm in the first place. More on this soon!

latefall said...

@JMG, Juhana re Trump post
I am also waiting to read something in that direction. I've recently had a look (as language permits) in the direction of the New Right. If you have the time and inclination (at the moment a pretty Euro(asian) phenomenon) you could maybe loose a few words on Aleksandr Dugin, or perhaps Strasserism. Maybe Slavoj Žižek for balance on the fringe. Would perhaps a look at Erdogan's Turkey be instructive for a Trump USA? Sometimes I think that people (including me of course) can have difficulty differentiating discussion from endorsement (bug or feature?), just saying.

As a rainbow flag variety of liberal leftist(?) here are my 2c. I do agree with you that this is a very, very urgent issue. And will probably become even more pressing as the region heats up further. But please, try making an effort and fight the out-group bias ( once in a while. Perhaps the majority of my friends are in mixed nationality (or gene) partnerships, and I find it sad that the demographic dynamics are the way they are. However (in my sober moments) this is for social and not genetic reasons. By the way skin color or facial features are probably among the least stable of the genetic make up.
People who want to be heroic counter-cultural revolutionaries are currently buying tickets to Istanbul, target my crowd of people predominantly (in Europe anyway), and sure have their own ideas about gender roles. I've personally been involved in booting 1-3 young and not so young male immigrants out of the EU, because I was instrumental in apprehending them for violent or property crimes they committed. This is not necessarily difficult to do, and there needs to be neither heroics nor polemics involved, but you do need a somewhat functional legal system (admittedly may have been lacking in one case in Germany in the 90s). What Germany (and other EU countries) should do now in my opinion is to ramp up the legal capacity to do "the good into the pot, the bad into the crop (actually into the pidgeon)".
Of course all this is not going to be for free, and there is a limit even when it comes to so called human rights, of what a society can realistically provide. Though it would probably be fair to give Jordan an honorable mention on this point first. As for the US role in this, I can't refrain from looking with at least one eye at the red states and say: "You break it, you own it." I wonder if Europe could just put them into a container and ship many of them west. For those who want some more numbers to get a feel for the magnitude so far, there is some detail in the link below. 12k$ per year times 1M buys a lot of tickets. , in my perspective there is an ever so slightly problematic point mentioned in passing at 10:40 which illustrates some more of the fundamental issues I can see here.

@Ed re New Year's Eve
I think these events had enough momentum to puncture the bubble of reality of sufficiently many media outlets. Some establishment heads are starting to roll already, and some of the liberal lefties are beginning to point out difficult to resolve inconsistencies in their lines of argument.
Also a large percentage of the people with who are/were welcoming immigrants had the opportunity to see the whole phenomenon in the trenches up close by now. Take the Left politician from Saarland who moved his office into a camp for quite some time. Those people don't have a hole lot of illusions is my impression. The EU equivalent to the main US employers of Mexican sans papiers are a different story of course.

The population genetics of Europe probably aren't so simple (see I am afraid much of what is popular opinion may be influenced by a simplified or PC notion of this complicated topic.

Grandmom said...

"In 1856, when he was causing trouble in Kansas, nobody thought of John Brown the way we now think of John Brown."

Where could I read what people in the 1850's thought of John Brown? I'm really trying to understand your comparison and just not getting it.

Grandmom said...

By the way I ordered six books off the deindustrialized reading list for $30 including shipping from Better World Books. Looking forward to the reading.

Juhana said...

@Shane: You forget that I am Finnish; our slice of land was not touched by Völkerwanderung caused by Hunnic movements over Great Steppe, the one that brought West Rome down. Here last great population displacement was when Slavic people, coming from steppe, displaced or fused thinly spred Finno-Ugric tribes of great forest belt in what is now northern Russia. As a testament to this, many words of northern Slavic languages are borrowed from Finno-Ugric root language. Good example is Russian word "sinj" (sky blue), which is derived from Finnish "sininen". The root word "sini" points at sky, and original meaning lives on as sayings like "taivaan sini". In Southern Slavic languages root word for blue is different, in Serbocroatian it is "plava", in Slovenic "modr, modra, modro". Legacy of languages of old Ural live on in modern Russian language.

This migration northwards happened during Stone Age, so people living in Finland actually have lineage from Ice Age onwards, from 8000-7000 BC onwards. It is not only lineage of course, but the descent is there, among other, newer arrivals. Our roots are deep, among deepest in Europe, Basques being other tribe rivaling us with sheer immensity of history behind them. Our land is ours and we belong to our land.

It is quite funny that you tried to teach me about history of my own roots all the way from America. It is peculiar trait of your culture, by the way. Most Americans I have met have tended to insist they know what is happening in certain place better than natives living there. Even if they do not speak a word of native language, which is always portal to the soul of any given culture. Language is the vechile by which ideas and narratives are carried from generation to generation, and without knowing other's language you do not know his soul. Language is like road leading to fixed position, which leads thinking and doing into pre-destined directions, because there are hidden structures in language guiding you to that peculiar direction. Here I am, writing for you by your native language; not fluently but still doing it. What if we switch that preposition other way around? Let's try:

Omasta mielestäni yhdysvaltalaisten taipumus uskoa, että he tietävät paremmin kuin paikalliset mitä mainittujen paikallisten tulisi maailmasta tai sen tapahtumista uskoa, on melko ylimielinen. Samaan aikaan uskon, että maanne on historian saatossa tehnyt runsaasti hyviä tekoja ympäri maailman, mukaan lukien materiaalinen apu omalle maalleni toisen maailmansodan aikana. Kuinka mielestäsi nämä kaksi mielikuvaa ovat yhdistettävissä toisiinsa; toisaalta röyhkeys tietyissä asioissa, toisaalta suuri sydän ja halu tehdä hyvää, joka on mielestäni kulttuurillenne tyypillistä?

I asked you a question there, hope you answer some day ;). No insult intended here, by the way. It has been pleasure to exchange thoughts with you.

Bill Pulliam said...

JMG -- some rather psychological thoughts about your recent acceleration of your time frame for change in the U.S.

I've noticed a particular pattern in men's perceptions of the future as we go through life. Young men tend to see a future of rapid change; the revolution is just around the corner. Moving into adulthood, though, and getting a better sense of the pace of historical change and teh inertia of social institutions, they tend to settle in to a feeling that the world is more stable/stubborn than they thought in their youthful exuberance. We've seen the revolution fail to happen over and over, after all. Then after 50 or so, the perspectiuve of the future begins to shift, realizing that there are likely only 2 or 3 more decades that we will personally experience in a meaningful way, if we are lucky. I think this creates an urge to rush the time frame. It's no accident that the Occupy movement is mostly young (men), and the Militias and 3%ers are mostly old (men).

Take Trump -- There is some analogy here with Reagan. At the national level, Reagan was a joke in 1972, he was a contender in 1976, and he was elected in 1980. Even by this analogy, Trump does not get elected until 2020 (perhaps in an electoral landslide throwing out a massively unpopular Clinton?). And Reagan already had executive experience with success winning statewide elections in California before 1972; plus he had Nancy and her astrologers stage managing him and hiring the best script writers available.

Noni Mausa said...

Re: assassination -- I haven't been following the various spouting of the leading candidates, as I find them both predictable and predictably foul or fair.

But whence comes the idea that Trump is in danger of assassination? From his own mouth and PR machine, I would guess. In the grand tradition of Screwtape, who said: "we love to see them warning of flooding in the midst of drought, and running around with fire extinguishers when the deck is awash and sinking," he may easily be claiming mortal peril for himself, though never mentioning the actual mortal peril facing hundreds of thousands of Americans per year via firearms, poor health care, poverty, suicide and so on. But never mind, he can represent his sorry ass to be heroic when appearing before his adoring, and carefully vetted followers.

Oh, he could be assassinated, sharing that risk with any personality on the public stage in the US. But in scanning over lists of US political assassinations, the vast majority are progressives, not conservative or faux-populist demagogues. I would say without fear of contradiction that Mr. Sanders, especially if nominated or elected, would be the most likely target of an apparently delusional cats paw with a gun.

Scotlyn said...

@Jason Panno - thanks for laying out some (for me) rather knotty comments to think upon in an elegant and thoughtful way.

I wonder if you would mind expanding on what you see as the *particular* difficulty you have with "narratives on equality" by considering these questions...

1) if there is a person who is your superior, rather than your equal, does this person therefore have the prerogative to rule you, and/or to enjoy a larger share of earth's resources than you?

2) if that is the case, does it not follow that the people who DO rule you and DO enjoy a larger share of earth's resources are, in fact, your superiors?

3) and if THAT is the case, then, why would you not be content in whatever station and/or ranking you currently find yourself in?

Thank you!

Scotlyn said...

@Chris/JMG - the "Merlin book"? Curiosity piqued.

Mister Roboto said...

Well knock me over with a feather and call me Clarence!

Hillary Clinton's lead over Bernie Sanders nearly vanishes

Mister Roboto said...

PS: I've always thought of myself as being "to the left of everybody" (at least in my current social environment here in southern Milwaukee County), but even I have become soured on the whole "SJW" phenomenon of late. The good thing about it was initially that it challenged people to examine their racist, sexist, and homophobic assumptions and to see how things have traditionally worked in society in context. But where it went wrong is that it became increasingly focused on a very unbecoming emphasis on a sort of self-pitying "victim" mentality that could never be healthy. Now it has gotten to the point where the assumptions I find myself questioning are the ones that are rooted in "politically correct" liberal thinking. Of course there is a counterpart on the right in the form of tongue-speaking fundamentalist Christian Dominionism, but the flow of social history is increasingly leaving those folks behind. If we want to encourage society to move in a more egalitarian direction, we need to outgrow PC. Accusing people who have assumptions you would like to see society outgrow of victimizing-behaviors is a bunch of passive-aggressive nonsense that will only do more harm than good.

Robert Mathiesen said...

No, Shane W, you've been fed a huge oversimplification of European prehistory, as have most people in the USA. True, all the Indo-European languages are relatively late-comers to Western Europe, but there were other languages and peoples on the land before the tribes that spoke Indo-European languages spread over the continent. In the north, however, the Saami, the Finns, the Estonians and other related peoples to their east have lived roughly where they live now for much longer than the Scandinavian, Baltic and Slavic peoples who later moved into much of that territory. And in the Pyranees much the same thing can be said of the Basques. And even among the Indo-European speakers, the tribes that invaded Europe seem to have been numerically weaker--though militarily stronger--than the peoples they found on the land when they invaded; so of necessity there was much intermarriage. To be sure, the languages of the invaders replaced those of the older population, but the genetic makeup of their modern descendants all over the continent is hugely a mixed bag, which is good evidence of massive interbreeding. -- One of the really interesting tidbits of information I picked up during my undergraduate years was that the patterns of stone-age trade-routes across the continent are to a certain extent still reflected in some of the major nation-states of present-day Europe. Unfortunately, it was a very long time ago that one of my professors in historical linguistics dicussed that, and I no longer have his reference at hand.

Shane W said...

Lexington, KY: Announcing the inaugural meeting of the Green Wizards’ Benevolent and Protective Association, Tower Number 859, and Ruinmen’s Guild, Local 859 Thursday, Jan. 14th, 2016, @ 7pm @ Common Grounds Coffee House, on High St near Rose, commencing every other Thursday forthwith, ad infinitum.
In Servitium Libertas!
Faithfully yours
Tower 859

Nastarana said...

Shane W., In his book Europe, the historian Norman Davies cited a DNA study of some prehistoric remains found in somewhere in Wales, if memory serves, which yielded the surprising result that a significant portion of local residents shared the same DNA. I am afraid I don't have my copy of Europe immediately at hand, so I can't be more specific. I suppose you do remember that the citizens of Finland speak a non-Indo European language, suggesting that they might have inhabited what is now Finland long before the "Kushan" incursions began. One could also mention Picts, Sami, Albanians, Basques, Sardinians and so on; some still exist as distinct populations and some have more or less disappeared into later populations. I believe the Sami have been following reindeer migrations since the last ice age, and, of course, selling narwhal unicorn horns to gullible southerners.

Dear Jason Panno, I can understand and share some parts of your point of view, but please recall that folks on the right have seen fit to criticize Mrs. Obama, Mrs. Heinz-Kerry and other liberal politicians' spouses, so perhaps you can understand that I, as a white female descendant of nine generations of American farmers, homesteaders, teachers, carpenters, longshoresmen and other working folks, and the proud possessor of quilts made by my mother and grandmother, not to mention the skills of cooking, gardening and basic frugality taught to me and my sisters by those same women, consider the installation into the White House of an idle Slovenian socialite to be a deadly insult to me, my ancestresses and all other non-gorgeous, hard-working American women. And, I think you know perfectly well that I use the word 'socialite' out of politeness only.

Folks who are cheering the impending demise of the KSA might want to remind themselves just how much American, and European, real estate those royals and their associates own.

onething said...

Regarding Crapification:

Within approximately the past year I have bought 4 clocks. I had one of those little square plastic travel alarm clocks that was given to me almost 15 years ago by a room mate, so I don't know how old it was, but it finally gave out. I bought a $3 clock at Walmart (only store unless I go very far). It works fine but it is nondigital and has a fairly loud ticking noise to have next to my head. So I consigned it to the windowsill in the bathroom and bought another clock, this time digital but whose box advertised that it does not have one of those annoying light displays. I paid a lot more for it, perhaps $12, thinking I needed to pay more if I wanted a decent clock. I bought digital for the silence. It was great for just a couple of months and then the alarm began malfunctioning. Sometimes I couldn't turn it off and it would alarm at odd days, unpredictably. It took a long time before it stopped going off, with me never using the alarm again. I gave the clock to my husband for a bedside clock, as he never uses an alarm. So, I went back to the store and this time I bought a very nice nondigital that advertised its quietness. I also paid more for this one, willingly. It was a lovely clock for a couple of months and then it began making a steady grinding noise in its operation, which I couldn't tolerate next to my head. So, I now have two alarm clocks on the bathroom windowsill (and I use them) but I like to have a clock where I can see it from my bed. So, I bought a 4th clock, digital, no light display, and it resides near my bed, but I will never use the alarm.

So in the end, the cheapest clock is the most reliable, paying more did not increase quality at all, and none of them worked for long except the first, which at that price can be loud it if wants to.

I ran into this when trying to buy a kitchen timer as well. One that looked visibly better made, metal not plastic, costing more -- but when I read the customer reviews it was terrible, and there was not one at amazon that had good ratings.

Hubertus Hauger said...

Journalist Ulrike Herrmann said, that all people in the country are alert of the collapse. So everybody is expecting dramatic change. Yet that politicians don´t take action, because the electorate is indecisive. And we citizens are so, because we are glueless, what to do.

I say, plus we want to eat the cake and still have it.

Plus we fear that unhappiness and misery we result in getting rid of all that material overflow.

Plus the inertian force will drag us along for some time, before the motivation for fatreduced live will become a overhelming drive.

Live is like a wirlhwind.

RPC said...

"RPC, and we're going to get the immense wealth needed for such a buildout where?" No, sorry, I was too brief. My point is not that we can keep the present arrangements, but that in choosing PV we're choosing just about the most diffuse and intermittent source of energy we can find to run a system utterly dependent on concentrated energy sources. On hydro, the average household could run a handful of light bulbs and a refrigerator with enough energy left over to keep the system going. On PV, that last and crucial condition is no longer satisfied.

Andy said...

Shane W said...
regarding a Civil War, who is going to fight for the Feds? In our most recent imperial adventures, morale has been at an all time low, and that is against an Other that has been properly demonized (terrorists). How are already jaded & demoralized troops going to be persuaded to fire against their neighbors? Aren't they likely to stand down, like you outlined in Twilight's Last Gleaming? Or are you assuming that the fighting will be amongst factions that come into the void once the Federal government implodes?"

Don't confuse discomfort with "imperial adventures" with taking care of the citizens of the US should a civil war occur. If, G-D forbid, Trump or some other...defective...ends up at the head of this country and then throws the Constitution and everything else that is the heart and soul of this country into the gutter, I suspect there will be plenty of real citizens and real patriots ready to stand. And no, I don't mean the camocosplaying crowd trying to incite an insurrection in Oregon.
MSgt, USAF, Ret

madtom said...


For background when you write your Trump analysis, I offer these excerpts of my comments on a private online discussion group as of last July:

Response 412 : 10971 Tom Parsons (madtom) Jul 23, 2015 16:25

Sorry to re-inject Trump here, but this morning's radionz feature on (of all things) cookbooks gave me fresh insight.

They interviewed a prof from Uni of the Pacific in Sacramento, who made the point that cookbooks are very poor communicators because humanity has always (except for a very brief couple of centuries) learned by personal contact and demonstration, not by reading the printed word.

AHA - the same is true of determining leadership in our groups!

Chimpanzees have an alpha male who gets and maintains his position partly by show - by demonstrations of what he thinks he's worth and where he believes he fits into the pecking order. Though there is some need for him to be big and tough and to occasionally beat up on others, there is less actual need for him to fight his rivals than to out-display them.

A chimp who wants to display his claim to dominance will make a lot of noise, do energetic things, posture, and shake branches forcefully to show his strength and his power to make things happen. All this is a challenge for anyone else to outdo him at showmanship - and ultimately maybe at fighting.

But Trump doesn't need to physically fight anyone. Just to do all the other things that signal dominance. Trashing rivals, being loud and defiant, acting strong and laughing off attacks.

The idea that dominance depends on being logical or having good ideas is a very recent addition to human behavior and emotions, evolutionarily speaking. It is still a superficial notion, felt deeply only by the intelligentsia. The more that elections are decided by the lower half of the intellectual bell curve, the more our leadership contests will resemble those of chimps. Seriously.

I'm suddenly seeing Trump as a real contender, and I understand better how the weirdly screaming Hitler managed to excite the crowds.


Response 412 : 10973 Tom Parsons (madtom) Jul 23, 2015 18:14

That's what stopped me from seeing this before, [name removed]- *I* did not think of him as an alpha male because thinking and responding emotionally are so different. I *respond* to music on the radio, but I *think* about politics and decision-making. And I think badly of Trump based on the abstract symbolism and poor models of reality that he uses so badly. And that colors my response to him by discrediting his posturing and winner's style, making him look even more ludicrous for failing to understand what a clown he appears.

But if you don't (or can't) care about the validity or consistency of what he says, and see only that he's out there loudly defying and sneering at the top guys in the Republican Party, and not showing any harm from their comebacks, well . . . if you're as unhappy with the status quo as most of us are, including Tea Partiers, he looks like the new Numero Uno.

Shane W said...

JMG, it's not just the rest of the country that has bought into Southern stereotypes, but the South as well. I'm reminded of studies I'd read getting my degree in Psychology about how groups live up (or down) to the stereotypes placed on them. My grandfather was born in 1914 and caddied as a kid at the Lexington Country Club in the '20s. The Southern class system was still strong enough when my grandfather was growing up that his experience caddying had a powerful effect on him, that someone of his modest means emulated the style, manners, and tastes of the well-to-do Southern gentleman, for which he is highly regarded to this day. He entered high school in 1930, when I'll Take My Stand was published, so the Southern Agrarian tradition was very much alive during his formative years. The more recent "redneckification" of the South--the celebration of all things low class, would have been baffling to my grandfather and the world he grew up in. No one in the South at that time celebrated and emulated the mores of what at that time was called "white trash". The traditional Southern class system is not without its faults, but it did create an order in a society that was long on poverty and short on wealth, which is what our future will be. The mainstream American lie of the "classless" society, which does not exist, relies on the myth of progress and exponential growth for its social mobility, so it is basically dead in the water at this point. It is past time that we start asking the tough questions on how to establish a class system and arrange for movement between classes, since the mainstream one is dead.
The "neoconservitization" of the South, exemplified by the switch of the "Solid South" from Democrat to GOP, is possibly even more recent than the "redneckification". The benefit of the South is that it had a strong alternative culture to the mainstream industrial American culture of exponential growth that it can easily pick up, dust off, and modify once it tires of the New South of minimum wage factories, coal mines, and half hearted attempts to emulate other "progressive" regions. And we can confront head on the racist passages in I'll Take My Stand and the defense of segregation. The reality is that people of color make up a larger percentage of the population in the South than most anywhere in the country, and it probably has the highest rural population of people of color. Unlike other parts of the US, black people of the South are an indigenous part of the culture. Anyone who wants to roll back equality gains here must think long and hard about what that will do to society. I'm not sure what the other parts of the country will do when the US falls apart because they have no alternative culture to fall back on besides mainstream American industrial growth. Their culture is pretty weak IMHO, which is why they demonize Southern culture so much.
Tying in to this, regarding the PC/"social justice" patrol, we've locally descended to covering up "offensive" murals @ the state university and are discussing removing Breckinridge and Hunt Morgan statues at the local courthouse. What erasing the past has to do with any of the serious and meaningful problems bearing down on us escapes me.
Honestly, I don't know what relevance California, and, by extension, Nevada & Arizona, has on 21st century America other than as a source of poorly-adjusted climate change refugees. Climate change has pretty much written their death warrants. To me, the myth of California is one of a mirage/the phoenix--it quickly arose out of nothing to become the embodiment of American/Western pop culture and technology and looks set to just as quickly descend into chaos. I really don't know if it holds any more cultural relevance other than that of the phoenix/mirage.

donalfagan said...

My latest blog was picked up by DonaldTrumpNews almost immediately. I wonder how long that link will last:

Andy said...

234567 said...
Grid-tie solar is not up to par in my experience. I have had inverter, battery and switching issues yearly."

You hit a number of valid points but missed the root cause: the grid is a very hostile environment for electronics, and the rooftop under a PV panel is also a very hostile environment.

Keeping all of your alt-power equipment off the grid (and off the roof) is a good thing. Here’s an oldy-but-goody from one of the off-grid ‘gurus’ at HomePower magazine on inverters (Source: Solar 5, Midwest Renewable Energy Fair, Wisconsin, 1999). He reports testing portions of the US west coast grid and seeing massive brownouts, over-current spikes, and total harmonic distortion in excess of 22%.

I’m using off-grid inverters from Outback and charge controllers from Midnite Solar (made in US) and have spare parts on hand. I’m expecting at least 50 years of electricity from the PV and 15-25 years from the easily repairable inverter and charge controller. Falling back to DC remains an option should the need arise.

onething said...

William Church,

"The fact that 95% of pundits can't crack this code tells you everything you need to know about the circles of people they never encounter. "

I'm sure the insiders know very well how they have used these two - immigration and trade policies - to the detriment of the middle and lower classes. It's just that they don't want to acknowledge it publicly, and no pundit or newsperson is allowed to speak of it (or many other forbidden topics for that matter).

Shane W said...

I stand corrected about Europe, somehow, I knew that, especially about Finnish & Basque (particularly Basque, as I was a Spanish major) Juhana, I'm proud to say I do speak Spanish, and I think I could read French (a lot of learning a language is convincing yourself you can learn, know, & use it), but I'm kinda intimidated a bit by Mexican & Latin American culture--it seems so much stronger than our mainstream modern American culture, which pales in pretty much all regards. So, yes, I stand corrected on Europe, and somewhere, I already knew that.
One thing I would love to see once the US collapses into different countries is a total reevaluation of history from at least the Civil War onward. I'd love for the Lakelands, Confederacies, et al to teach that the Civil War marked the beginning of the end of the Republic and the beginning of the American Empire, and that the Civil War marked the beginning of Federal overreach and overextension. Of course, I know this will be popular in the Confederacy, but I think its popularity BEYOND the Confederacy is underestimated. Lakelanders, New Englanders, and other new Republics in areas that existed during the Civil War can pick up, dust off, and resuscitate the reputations of their own Copperheads and other opponents to Lincoln and the Civil War. Support for the Republicans and maintaining the Union was far from uniform outside the South, and I'm hopeful that new nations besides the Confederacy will see fit to reevaluate the mainstream story once the US comes apart and Union is no longer a reality.
Regarding crapification, I'm reminded of Soviet products teachers would bring to class in the 80s as an example of the poor workmanship and quality of Communist goods. The products of global capitalism today remind me of those goods, if not, worse.
Regarding social justice movements, JMG covered this in his posts on empire, which I think were incorporated into Decline & Fall, if I'm not mistaken. Basically, the efforts for equality are structurally limited by the system itself. The West, through industrialism based on the myth of progress, created an Empire and a wealth pump that enriched it at the expense of those on the other end of the wealth pump. By design, it was unequal, particularly regarding people of color both at home and abroad. The inequality was structural. Equality cannot come about via a political but by a structural solution. Any efforts this late in the game amount to halfhearted scraps. By the time racial equality ever arrives, the races as they're known now will have ceased to exist during what normally happens to racial distinctions during a dark age. While I'm heartened by the effort for GLBT equality and marriage, I'm also totally aware at how late in the game it came, and how little it matters regarding the decline and fall of industrial civilization. Coming this late in the game, for me, it doesn't change the fact that at its heart, Western industrial civilization is a very sex phobic, and, by extension, homophobic, civilization, as evidenced by its treatment of sexual minorities during the height of its power.

james albinson said...

Perhaps a bit sideways, but... May I draw attention to the cover of "Sounds of Silence" by Disturbed, on Youtube, . The first half is 'conventional', the third quarter is strong, but the fury of the last quarter is an eloquent comment the state of things now. The Simon and Garfunkel original was a comment of its time; this version jives with the now, and so I recommend it to you.

Juhana said...

@latefall: Just for the sake of clarity, skin colour is no perverse dividing line for me. Nationality and identity are mostly made from elements such as language, habits, cultural narratives and above all religion. Religion is of course the one to rule them all. Even so-called secularists, in my country at least, derive their morality from extreme Northern Protestantism of olden days. They just don't see it themselves. Religion is the most important ingredient. Immigrants in Europe causing problems come almost exclusively from Muslim countries.

If person has fused into traditions and narratives of his/her new country, skin colour is not important factor. But multiculturalism is a lie. Multiethnicity is possible, multiculturalism is not. There can be only one narrative ruling, or there shall be blood. There can be no competing laws ruling behavior of masses, and law code is only reflection of it's mother culture. Without homogenous culture, there is no rule of the law.

Time of secularism is over. Sunni revival of Arab world was the first instance when secular humanism and it's varied ideologies (socialism, capitalism, liberalism) were fought back and beaten into oblivion, then the same thing happened in areas culturally descending from Orthodox Christianity. Then old Sunni-Shia division line flared up for good. Twelver Shias and Fiver Shias, their theological opinions have direct impact on world politics. Now the wave of future, that is age of religion and unraveling of Enlightnement project, has come to old Catholic West, including it's rebellious offspring, Protestantism. Ways of the yore are here again. That's just the way it is.

Precession of the equinoxes grinds on, and night falls on Age of Reason.

onething said...


" As for the US role in this, I can't refrain from looking with at least one eye at the red states and say: "You break it, you own it." I wonder if Europe could just put them into a container and ship many of them west. "

Wait a cotton pickin' minute. Do I understand you aright? I don't for a moment deny the incredible immorality of the US interference in the middle east, but it seems to me it is all about colonialism, and Europe isn't innocent. Why are France and others always right there with us? Look at the colonialism and neocolonialism in Africa, India and etc. throughout the past century.

Raymond Duckling said...

Just on your prediction number 1, JMG, the breaking point might be closer than you have made it out to be. For one data point, the crowd and Hacker News already get it!!!

I have taken a look over the weekend, and I notice a significant climate shift from even back in November. Back then, any sentient soul that pointed out the obvious fact that the current economic arrangement of SV makes no sense unless you take buble dynamics into account could be fairly certainly shut down by an angry mob. Or perhaps - if his argument was particularly clearheaded - have her words twisted in meaning, turned into a strawman, and argued into oblivion. Now, within the discussion regarding Yahoo's implosion, the grey-beards are coming out of the closet and exchanging war stories on how this all begun like that back in 1999; that and a side serving of unrequested advice that would have been wonderful 12-18 months ago.

The audience is in full bargaining stage now: corporate drones claim that if your employer delivers actual goods and services to actual customers you will most likely be OK. The startup workers debate how if you are experienced you will land an - admittedly lower - position elsewhere and it is the newly grads who will be thrown to the wolves. The studends due to graduate this summer console themselves with the thouthg that some folk in the previous generation was able to weather the torm out in graduate school and are already eyeing subjects for a PhD dissertation.

This demographic is mostly employees and wannabe entreapreneurs. I suspect the actual IT insiders have been well positioned by the nearest exit for months, quietly moving as big a fraction of their assets out as fast as humanly possible without causing an stampede.

Me, let's just say I had the one discussion that matters - e.g. with the Wife - in November, and plans had already been set into motion by then. Seeing it unravel though leaves me with the impression that it might have been too little, too late. Not that it should be a surprise to any of the readership here.

Shane W said...

One other thing about the social justice movements, at least here in the US. They're lethally unaware of Mao's dictum about power coming from the end of a barrel of a gun, and under the delusion that power comes from the largesse and magnanimity of the Federal, and to a lesser extent, state government. Whatever can be said about them, at least the Cowliphate understands Mao's dictum, which probably explains the difference in treatment between them and black youth. Once the Black Lives Matter crowd wakes up to Mao's truth and adopts the Cowliphate's tactics, it will be a game changer.

Adrian Ayres Fisher said...


Your website looks very interesting. Thanks for posting the link.

Shane W said...

you have no one else to thank but the US for setting the refugee crisis in motion, and Russia is about the only ones who could stabilize both the Middle East and Europe.

Cherokee Organics said...


They were good rants weren't they? :-)! Yes, it would be good to do that too wouldn't it? The resulting question and answer dialogue would be a whole lot of fun - whilst also being highly informative. Shame I won't get the chance. There was a slight chance of the opportunity to talk on national radio down here on this particular subject, but my gut feeling was that they were a bit scared about the actual message. It is an interesting feeling to know what it is like to be a hot potato!

Incidentally I salute yours and others efforts to bring this whole discussion off line onto a more sustainable and long term footing. ;-)!

The book finally turned up yesterday and I'm looking forward to reading it.

I suspect fracking will get another look in if the Saudi's decide to ignite their wells upon departure? Such an event will also accelerate global warming, no doubt about it. It isn't as if such a tactic hasn't been tried and tested previously?

Hi lathechuck,

The rant wasn't directed at you in particular, you are collateral damage. Sorry mate, it is very hard to have a stance against nuclear energy when you benefit from it personally. That sort of thinking is what destroyed the environmental movement. I know what the answer is; you’re just not going to like it.

Well, yeah, grid tied solar PV people are like gamblers in that they only ever talk about the wins. One winter’s day down here, the system generated only 0.375kWh for the entire day! That is when the argument circles back to the coal and nuclear question. It is complex no doubt about it.

Hi Damo,

Exactly, it is not a good look. From my perspective I haven't seen much in the way of price reductions for electricity despite all of the rhetoric. Incidentally, the Tasmanian situation between the drought and hydro and the damage to the Bass Link cable (which supplies power from Victoria across one of the roughest stretches of water on the planet) is quickly coming to a head. I read yesterday that the dams are down to 21% full and hydro is the primary source of power for the state. The farmers are screaming for that water too. I thought the hammer would fall here well before Tasmania, but your state is facing some tough decisions on electricity very shortly.

Hi Scotlyn,

The book is Nikolai Tolstoy's "The Quest for Merlin" and I thoroughly recommend reading it. The author's enthusiasm is infectious.



Bill Pulliam said...

Acronym users please define your terms. I had no idea what an SJW was, I had to find it in the Urban Dictionary -- Social Justice Warrior. I expect I am not alone in this

Blueback said...

More and more, I am seeing the term “social justice warrior” used as a term of contempt and derision. The holier than thou attitude and the egregious (and often downright vicious) attacks on those deemed to be insufficiently PC are really getting tiresome. These days, it seems like most of the racist hate speech comes from the radical Left rather than white supremacists and neo-Nazis, which is ironic to say the least. It’s like the SJW crowd took the basic assumptions of the white supremacists and simply reversed the value judgments. It’s going to provoke a huge backlash at some point.

Here is a recent example of just how insane the post-modernist Left has become and here is another.

The Saker has a couple of really good articles about the attacks in Cologne on his website, one by a leading Russian political analyst and the other by the Saker himself. I still regard myself as an old fashioned conservative and an American patriot, but over last couple of years, I have definitely become one of those “pro-Russian conservatives” you were alluding to. Many of my friends on both the right and the left have also become very pro-Russian within the last few years.

The West really seems to be in free-fall, morally, spiritually, socially and culturally, while Russia has been rediscovering its heritage and its spiritual and cultural roots. I think Spengler was right when he predicted that the next great civilization and the next great world religious movement would come out of Russia and that Russia’s “Springtime” would not come until the Motherland shakes off Western ideologies that have been imposed on it, such as Marxism, liberalism and capitalism. I think we are beginning to see that process unfold before our very eyes. When Mother Russia truly awakens and begins to embrace its potential and its destiny, it’s going to be a world-changing event comparable to the rise of ancient Greece, Islam or Western civilization.

If European civilization is to have any hope of survival, it will be because a revived Russian Empire steps in to put things in order and fight off the Islamic Volkerwanderung flooding into Europe. I think your prediction that Europe’s destiny is to become a battleground between a revived Russkiy Mir and a revived Dar al-Islam was right on the money. Alexander Blok’s poem "The Scythians" was rather prescient, to say the least.

There was a headline that appeared in the Russian press that sums things up pretty well in my view:

“The West no longer has any balls or morality left, Russia still does. That’s why they hate us.”

pygmycory said...

I hadn't noticed quality having gone done especially 2015, but what I have noticed is big price increases. A lot of goods come to Canada from the USA, and the fall in the Canadian dollar had me going around repricing things in the store upwards by 20% or so, and dealing with complaining customers. Since the loonie has continued falling since then, I will likely have to do that again this year.

There was a tiny (approx 2%) increase in the minimum wage, and social assistance and disability allowances haven't gone up at all, so you can imagine how this type of thing affects people on the lower end of the income spectrum. Especially in Toronto and Vancouver, where housing prices are still going up pretty rapidly. I see advertisements on the Vancouver Craigslist now not just for shared apartments but shared bedrooms... that bubble has got to end in tears at some point in the next few years. Expletive-deleted speculators. My entire family left the lower mainland years ago because it is so expensive.

I may have missed noticing quality decreases because a lot of the stuff I buy is second-hand anyway.

Kfish said...

Cherokee, I wish you could talk to my family about the limits of domestic solar power generation. I was sitting in my parents' house arguing that the shift to renewables must include scaling back the middle-class first-world lifestyle; it's an argument I have often these days. Sitting in a big house with two fridges, a freezer and full air-conditioning, I still failed to carry the point. The Tesla battery and others like it will save us.

The other thing that always goes AWOL in these discussions is wider industrial energy use. The arguments are always focused on domestic use. Particularly in Australia - will we run zinc smelters or mining equipment on solar power? What about the 18-wheeled trucks that currently carry goods across a country the size of Europe? I think a solar-powered rail car could be an excellent thing, but no-one's building one.

sgage said...

@ james albinson.

Thanks for posting the link to that cover of 'Sounds of Silence'. that'a pretty much how I heard it badk in the 60's when it first came out. It was powerful then, it's powerful now...

Shane W said...

I'm reading the Great Crash 1929, and one of the signature effects of a bubble and bust in a given sector is a that business in the sector is damaged for a long time after the bubble bursts. In that case, I don't see how the tech bubble bursting can avoid a serious and long lasting contraction in online/tech businesses unless another bubble is immediately inflated.

Jake said...

@Juhana: Is it possible to contact you? If so, just email me at (replace the _at_ with @), or let me know how I can contact you. My grandparents were born in Finland, and my family and I are considering emigration there. Plus, we share some views in common. And we visited your country last year, loved it.

Great comments. I have nothing more to add to last week's posts, except a few observations: the same contempt for "rednecks" and Trump supporters and non-liberals that is driving the rise of Trump is visible in a large percentage of the comments here. Kind of ironic. I hate to break it to some of you: but not everyone finds modern, liberal "democracy" leavened by consumerism, individualism, multiculturalism and narcissism to be a system worth preserving or defending. The fact is that multiculturalism is deculturalism: it destroys the host culture, as well as the invading culture. Does China really need to be "enriched" by multiculturalism? How about Japan? Isn't it odd that the least diverse cultures are the most stable?
Anyway, expect liberals and SJWs to become increasingly strident and alarmed and frothing as the culture they have helped to undermine continues to unravel, with the help of peak oil and general decline.

latefall said...

You are of course right there. What I tried to get at is the brass tone, and often drastically reduced complexity of argument we got to hear when PNAC folks were discussing such things. Think "freedom fries".
I do agree with you. It is more a situation of the biggest bull in the used china shop (with a drunkard owner, perched on a precipice in a seismically active area). The distribution of fallout is still not exactly correlated to the degree of misbehavior, if you want to call it that.

We have much agreement there, but I tend not to see things as definite yet, at least regarding some of the aspects. On the other hand, it also depends on what "days of yore" means exactly.
Where we have some disagreement is that it is almost exclusively Muslims causing the trouble. Some of the 4.5M people coming to Germany from the East, especially in the early 90s, meant trouble too. However, many had very different legal status (jus sanguinis), skill (language), and family networks (not only in large cities), and similar looks to the autochthonous people. So things went differently. In my impression there was extremely little press coverage of the issues that were there. Partially because appealing narratives were more difficult to make here. Still in cities you'd hear of the Russian mafia on the streets, while in rural areas unassimilated Russlanddeutsche were a force to be reckoned with on many rural festivities. Later in the 90s there were the Yugoslav wars with about 50% of the refugees ending up in Germany (0.35M) vs e.g. UK with 0.02M. Those were the ones I personally had the most serious trouble with on an individual basis, and by word of mouth. But these people aren't visibly different to a large enough degree in everyday life that one could take the community in "Sippenhaft" for the crimes of a few. That is different with many Arabs and muslim women now. This being said, what I do miss is seeing some serious coordinated effort on the part of the already established and integrated migrant community to alleviate the strains (not saying it may not be happening in places). They ought to understand that it won't be for their benefit if things don't pan out right.
Oh, and another group where there is considerable trouble with integration (or assimilation in e.g. France) are the Romani. On top of that they don't appear to play by your rules and don't seem very homogeneous.

donalfagan said...

Here's an article on SJW becoming an insult:

Hubertus Hauger said...

@ JMG I suppose, that you've been saying that for decades now, that future will be as past has always been. Mostly labour, often feast, sometimes fight. And that fat years are followed by meager ones. And that we living beings long for MORE, so that competition is compulsory.

When I was young I had that insight too, but put it partly behind. While the last years that shows up to me with full gear. A shock that was. I had to cope with first. While all the developing perspective are a revelation to me. To you old chestnut, I know.

Mean Mr Mustard said...


Drone wars are coming...

Reminds me of a very obscure ground launched spiders web for defending high-value fixed sites.

Daresay it works on hideously expensive low flying jets too.



Robert Mathiesen said...

Others have probably already sent this to the ADR, but just in case they haven't, here it is:

latheChuck said...

Robert Mathiesen- The trouble with "sell everything" is that then you're left with a wheelbarrow load of currency, or (more likely) a larger number in some electronic bank/brokerage account, perhaps even title to a tract of taxable real property. It's not clear that any of these assets will support future consumption at the level to which we are accustomed.

Now, if you put some of that cash into a PV solar power system, or other local upgrades (high-efficiency heating system, home insulation, etc.), they may have enduring value. But maybe not.

Shane W said...

I'd love to see JMG's post on Trump, but I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't get more people of color votes than you'd think. His Canadian counterpart, Rob Ford, who appealed to the same demographic, did really well with working class immigrants in spite of making many racist remarks. But American politics are different, and ethnic minorities here don't yet seem as willing to vote "conservative" as in Canada.

onething said...


"The "neoconservitization" of the South, exemplified by the switch of the "Solid South" from Democrat to GOP, is possibly even more recent than the "redneckification". "

I don't live in the old South, but its close cousin, Appalachia. About 15 years ago when Bush the Younger was running, I was talking to a local guy who runs a tire shop. He sadly mentioned that although he and all his family for generations had always voted democrat, he no longer could do so. He just thought the democrats had become too far away morally, supporting homosexuals and perhaps some other stuff, probably abortion. I thought about that, and it seems to me that certain topics, like those two, are being used to wedge people out of their normal demographic. It kind of leaves them in an impossible bind when the GOP plays the Christian card that way. Also, by having only 2 parties, which is not enough to represent this huge and nonhomogeneous country, it means that each party has to divide up the voting blocks even though it forces them to cast too wide a net. It's one reason our politicians are dishonest -- they have to pretend to represent a bunch of disparate groups. I don't think that most actual politicians feel all that strongly about those issues along exact party lines, but at times they have to pretend, or the more fanatical rise to the top. But somehow, I don't know if it is a nefarious plot or just Christian preachers looking to draw a crowd, but those topics are whipped up to a frenzy so that conservative Christians almost can't vote democrat.

I didn't understand your other post -- "Once the Black Lives Matter crowd wakes up to Mao's truth and adopts the Cowliphate's tactics, it will be a game changer."

Who are the cowliphate? The ranchers who held up the Fed building? You think blacks don't realize power comes from a gun?

onething said...

"Acronym users please define your terms. I had no idea what an SJW was, I had to find it in the Urban Dictionary -- Social Justice Warrior. I expect I am not alone in this"

Hear, hear!

Bill Pulliam said...

Any Sanders boosters, remember... He is down like 40 points in the South, which is a large chunk of delegates. 99.994% of the Superdelegates will go for Clinton. Even after he pulls off his upset in Iowa, he'll be wiped off the map on Super Tuesday.

That is *my* prediction for 2016...

Bill Pulliam said...

About the Oregon Idiots... The Clan Bundy are not a good example of anything, not even the States Rights people they claim to represent. They are a grandstanding media circus. The groups that they claim to speak for, like Oath Keepers and III%ers (that is pronounced "three percenters," by the way) have disowned them. Though most in the media have not caught this, it appears that the III% of Idaho did not show up at Malheur to support them or join them, they showed up to shut them down and send them packing. National head of the Oath Keepers has posted an unflinching repudiation of the Bundys and told them to go home. So I don't think they mean anything about the arc of American history.

These III%ers etc. are to me another instance of people (mostly middle aged and old men) trying to rush the future. State and Local control is coming, no matter what. The Federal government will shrink, no matter what. It does not have the resource base to continue existing in anything like its present form. But it will not be brought down by Goateed Guys in Cowboy Hats with Firearms. It will be brought down by macroeconomics.

We see every year in the US many examples of what a reversion to local control in the absence of a higher government looks like. It happens after every flood, tornado, hurricane, etc. in the first days. It is not based on goateed guys with guns. It is based on existing community networks, neighborhoods, churches, other service groups, local police and emergency responders, even the bars and apolitical motorcycle clubs (granted, many of whom do have goatees...). It is self-organizing without the need for agitators and outside influences. I expect the same process to play out on a grander scale and over a much longer time frame as we plod through the 21st Century. But I do NOT see its roots in the Bundys, or even the III%ers. More like the Food Bank and the Volunteer Fire Department.

nuku said...

A bit more on solar electric power: Thanks Chris and others who are actually living on PV for the data. I've lived off grid in the past both on land and on my 40 ft. ketch. Certainly doable, but with very restricted energy use unless one has heaps of $ to spend on battery banks and their on-going replacement costs.

Re the fantasy of running current day industrial transport (not electric bikes and small cars): About 3 years ago I spent a few hours during a hike here in NZ talking with a nice young couple from the USA who worked at Boeing. The girl worked some admin job and assured me that "they" were working on a solar powered commercial airplane. I went home and did the math using best efficiency data for current PV panels, batteries, and electric motors. The end result if I remember correctly was that just for steady flight at cruising altitude (NOT for take off and climbing which uses many times that energy) you would need wing area about 60-100 times that of a 747. This of course is a consequence of solar energy being diffuse compared concentrated sources like oil. So, IMHO solar trucks and trains which generate and carry their own power (not electrified rails or very long extension cords) are not feasible due to limited area available for the PV panels. Comments from engineers out there?
Lastly another plea/suggestion to those addicted to acronyms, please spell it out at least once in your post so the rest of us know what you're talking about.

Patricia Mathews said...

Blogger Robert Mathiesen said...

Others have probably already sent this to the ADR, but just in case they haven't, here it is:

****Well! That should bring one on, if nothing else does! Talk about self-fulfilling prophecy?***

pygmycory said...

With regards to what can and can't be done with solar: it works wonderfully if you want to cycle across the Sahara as a publicity stunt:

Of course, most people don't have any desire to do this, myself included. I have some interesting relatives.

Shane W said...

@ onething,
I disagree about the power of the religious right. Their political power has already peaked and they're on the way down, even here in the South (I'm in KY, so am familiar w/Appalachia) I think the rise of Trump indicates that. Richard Land, of the SBC (Southern Baptist Convention) and other prominent evangelicals have openly worried about Trump's evangelical fundamentalist bonafides on key religious right litmus tests, and it hasn't affected his polling numbers. So I don't think evangelical fundamentalism still carries the same political weight it once did, even in the South. Millennial and younger evangelicals are way more accepting of same sex marriage & GLBT people than their elders.
Well, no, I don't think that ethnic minorities realized that power comes from a barrel of a gun, since everything they've achieved has come through non-violent protest and petitioning the government, starting with the Emancipation Proclamation. In some ways, I think it would've been better if slavery had ended via violent slave rebellions, as it did in some countries. Possibly, if it had, the races would have long ago blended and mixed and we wouldn't have the legacy of segregation, and, barring that, communities of color would be more certain of their own inherent power and stronger than they are. It's not like they don't use violence (rioting, crimes), just that they don't use it effectively in an organized fashion to achieve political ends. I don't think that the doctrinaire commitment to political nonviolence starting w/Dr. King is helping them anymore.

Shane W said...

wow, just wow (shaking head), that has to rate up there with "let them eat cake". I don't know what to say, really, but that you've just embodied totally what JMG says about the tin ears of the elite. I don't know if you realize just how suspect your loud defense of the status quo comes across.

Ozark Chinquapin said...

Interesting post and comments. I can't help but notice the polarization of stances on diversity/multiculturalism vs. cultural homogeneity in some of the comments here as well as in the culture at large right now. I'd put my own position as diversity and homogeneity both have their advantages and drawbacks. Too much diversity leads to a lack of cohesion, while too much homogeneity leads to a lack of resilience and ability to adapt to changing and unpredictable circumstances. A culture can also be diverse in certain ways of expression and homogeneous in others.

As JMG has mentioned in the past, Ancient Greece featured a level or religious diversity more than even the most "multicultural" areas in the west, where each locality had local deities and practices that went with them, as well as the larger pantheon shared be the Greeks in general. China has a decent amount of cultural difference within its borders, and has had many religious movements over its long era of relative cohesion.

That doesn't mean that all diversity is good, increasing the numbers and representation of axe murderers doesn't work in any society. There's a lot of hypocrisy involved in the leftist advocacy for diversity and tolerance. It doesn't seem to me that the average leftist is any more tolerant overall than anyone else, it's just a tolerance for certain types of cultural diversity and an intolerance for others. Has anyone else noticed the irony of how US regions that lean left and supposedly want diversity and tolerance often tend to have more restrictive laws and regulations about how individuals can live their lives. The nanny state is in the most overdrive in liberal, supposedly tolerant areas.

The issue of Muslim immigration brings out that polarization even more, a simple question or observation can bring venom from many leftists without a real response. The vast majority of Muslim immigrants don't become violent jihadists, but it's also true that when compared with the US Vietnamese population, which also has plenty of reason to be angry with America but doesn't seem to produce many terrorists, a higher proportion of the Muslims do cause trouble. I've talked to several people from Thailand that say the southern part of that country, with a significant Muslim population, has higher tensions. By saying this, I don't mean to say I hate Muslims, if you're a Muslim and I meet you in person, I'll be just as willing to get to know you as anyone else. It does mean that I don't think it's unreasonable to question what negative effects mass migration of Muslims into the western world might have.


Ozark Chinquapin said...

continued from last post

What those who want cultural homogeneity in America have to face is that, besides the whole discussion of whether it would be desirable, the level of homogeneity found in a European nation (until recently) is simply not going to happen anytime soon, it won't ever happen on a national level because of sheer size, and even on a regional level it won't happen anytime soon. Europe has its own history of migrations but also has generally had significantly longer periods of relative culture continuity before the modern era than America has. Even if we reduced immigration to nil, we still have all the diversity the country has now. Perhaps in five hundred or a thousand years there will be nations in parts of what is now America that have that sort of homogeneity, when cultures have had centuries to develop after the coming collapse.

To all who want more homogeneity in American culture I ask, what would be your plan to pull that off? Restricting immigration is feasible and there are other good reasons for doing so as well, but that still leaves us with all the diversity of American citizens right now. Are you proposing to use force to silence all that are of the wrong culture or race? Do you know the history of what those sorts of attempts to "purify" a culture have led to? If you have cultural values that you believe are superior, why not just try to live them the best you can and set an example for others to follow if they see fit.

Bill Pulliam said...

Onething - This was very deliberate and conscious. The Republicans called it the "Southern Strategy," it dates back to the 1970s. Find the right code words and you will get the evangelicals and the older southern white male vote, and win elections. It has worked much too well for them, breding a whole generation of unruly government hating xenophobes that now refuse to do their bidding and vote for Jeb.

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Kfish,

Enjoy your discussions for the entertainment that they actually are. The only people that believe in the abundance of the recurrent energy from nature are those that have never quite gotten around to testing their theories. ;-)!

Two words - good luck! Hehe!

The renewable energy community down here does not really think too highly of those Tesla power wall batteries. They don't store a huge amount of electricity and it isn't all immediately available. They are a thought stopper and need a whole lot of additional kit to be able to work correctly - from my understanding.

Hi nuku!

Oh, I don't even know where to begin with such foolishness. Solar panels are great, but what happens when the sun goes down and the moon comes up? My gut feeling is that plane goes down... They've had problems with lithium batteries in planes from my recollection - something about over charging them and those same batteries catching fire.



Patricia Mathews said...

Did anyone here listen to the State of the Union Address? For the first time in my life, I did not, and had no desire to. I felt (word chosen with precision) that it would be, in Neal Stephenson's delightful term, bulshytt from beginning to end. Nothing I've seen in the summaries, excerpts, and cartoons the morning after has changed my mind. So, in my 77th year, I bid farewell to a lifelong habit of taking politics seriously. "Not with a bang, but a whimper."

Alexandra said...

In re: the peopling of Europe, I'm noticing a lot of conflation of languages, genes, and national/ethnic/cultural identities in the comments. If there's one thing genetic studies repeatedly show us, it's how independent these three variables are. For example, genetically speaking, the current wave of migrants from the Middle East is simply the latest iteration of a process that has been happening since the Neolithic (5000+ years). Like it or not, genetically, almost all modern-day Europeans are significantly Middle Eastern, with the Middle Eastern alleles being particularly well-represented on the Y chromosome (i.e., male migrants from the Middle East have been intermarrying with local European women). Viewed in the long term, massive gene flow is and always has been part of what it means to be Homo sapiens, so arguments based on genetic purity or Ice Age origins of this or that group are...well, not to put too fine a point on it, they are very inaccurate. It was one thing for people 50 years ago to believe in bounded cultural-genetic identities, but we now have sufficient genetic data to disabuse ourselves of those notions.

I think more important, though, is the question of how any of it is relevant to the topic at hand. This is my take: The fact that people feel their *cultural identities* threatened by mass migrations is obviously going to be a factor in social changes we see going forward. But those identities are going to contract along with the economy, education, and technology. People's in-groups will get smaller and smaller, and fear and hostility toward out-groups will increase proportionately. In a nutshell, sensitivity to other people's needs and feelings (and abstractions like "social justice") wanes as the focus turns toward survival. Local strongmen will take advantage of such sentiments to advance their own power, further whipping up anti-Other sentiments ("vote for me and I'll protect you from them," "vote for me and I'll make us more powerful")--there will be blood, and when it flows we would do well to ask Cui bono? It seems a little ironic, when you think of how much bombast is invested in self-protective, Other-demonizing rhetoric, that ultimately the identities that are being defended today--nations, ethnic groups, political and interest groups--will not only be dissolved but indeed irrelevant in the not-terribly-distant future.

In other words, no amount of Donald Trumps can save "us" from "them" because in the long view, "they" are "us". Collapsing now to avoid the rush would, arguably, entail turning our focus toward protecting and supporting our immediate families and communities as opposed to worrying about, say, whether the "Americans" or "Europeans" of 2100 are a little darker-skinned, speak Spanish (or Arabic, or Turkish...), or have a greater proportion of Muslims. And if genetic purity really is important to you, then move to the Arctic circle or a mountain refugium where you can isolate yourself.

What do you know, I guess I have made a prediction after all, just not one that's specific to 2016.

Janet D said...

@Jake, who said, "... the same contempt for "rednecks" and Trump supporters and non-liberals that is driving the rise of Trump is visible in a large percentage of the comments here. Kind of ironic. I hate to break it to some of you: but not everyone finds modern, liberal "democracy" leavened by consumerism, individualism, multiculturalism and narcissism to be a system worth preserving or defending."

Um, are you sure you are actually reading the comments here? I think the vast majority of commenters here don't find modern "democracy" worth preserving and the comments over the years have reflected that regularly. Many of the commenters are quite conservative and JMG ensures things stay balanced.

Methinks you are displaying the hypersensitivity of some of those who claim to be on the Right - where either everyone agrees with you 100% 100% of the time, or they are some multicultural commie leftist.

Grandmom said...

The Oregon Live site has had some good updates on the Bundy group in Oregon. got an exclusive interview too.

What I find interesting and scary is these reports of harassment of family members of police and church ministers

If these militants are tracking down local people's families, its a great reason to stay off of social media. I've never understood why people post pictures of their children regularly. No matter what your privacy settings, anyone can see it.

Janet D said...

@Bill, re: Mahleur.

You nailed it. I live a few hours from Mahleur & we know people there. The local populace is NOT happy and they do NOT support the Bundys. The Bundys are more like war lords than they are folk heroes. One of the local leaders there has talked about how they (meaning the state & the county) can not afford to have the federal gov't hand over more land....they need the federal funds for fighting wildfires, among other things.

Privatizing large amounts of Western land also limits hunters, fishermen, outdoor recreationalists & can greatly reduce tourism, one the main lifebloods of local economies for smaller western towns.

I agree as well that the fed will shrink more by handing more and more financial responsibilities to the states. And it ain't gonna be pretty.

A frustration I have with living in a inland Western rural-ish area has been my observation of the complete blindness some of my fellow community members have about their own dependence on the federal gov't. From Social Security to Medicare to maintaining dams (the only thing that allows modern life in the arid West) to farm subsidies to highway maintenance to prison support to Superfund monies, etc etc, the list of federal dollars flowing West is truly endless. All this support for the Tea Party is rather mind-boggling, given how many hands are stretched out for their share.

Andy said...

Cherokee Organics said:

"Solar PV is really great stuff, it just doesn't make economic sense. None at all. Really. None. And I tell people over and over again that it costs me something like $0.85/kWh to be on off grid solar and power the house with 100% solar energy (no fossil fuel generators either). And that means living with only 3.5kWh/day energy for 3 weeks either side of the winter solstice."

Chris - you're absolutely right. I suspect, though, that the message that truth will send to most here will is along the lines of: "while some people like it, this PV garbage doesn't make economic sense, and therefore there is no way for renewable energy to power an industrial society." At least, that's what I think I'm seeing here, and have seen out in the 3D world, and that's unfortunate.

Fossil fuels only appear to make economic sense because none of the externalities are counted - there's no 'cost' associated with the damage done by mountaintop removal mining, or the emission of carbon, arsenic, uranium, or lead; and no costs associated with maintaining the resulting toxic ash waste or of trying to clean up after ash cascades into rivers. Adding insult to injury, those worshiping at the altar of EROEI too often don't realize that while the EROEI of PV (along with the lifecycle energy/materials analysis) begins with raw materials in the ground, the same isn't done for oil. "But wait," some might say, "you're wrong - they're both in the ground!" Yes, sorta. With PV and other alternatives, we're scooping up raw materials and cooking silicon cells. With oil we're basically digging up fully charged storage batteries that have been sitting there for millions of years. If we want to use oil as the standard by which to evaluate the EROEI of renewables, we should start with the plant matter that stored the solar energy.
Yes - 196,000 lbs (about 88900 Kg) of plant matter to make a gallon of gasoline. (Only human-applied sources of energy are used in an EROEI calc...EROEI calcs are biased towards fossil fuels from the start.)

Even if we ignore externalities (pollution, especially) and the fuel cycle that renewables don't have, PV and even ethanol has a higher "real" EROEI than even the $4/barrel crude still in the ground in Saudi Arabia.

TL;DR: Economics is broken, not renewables. Mother Nature doesn't care about economics.

Cherokee Organics said:
"...because I have never met another person in the flesh who has said to me: You know, I'm really worried about the future. I'm worried about the kind of future that my kids are going to inherit. I'm worried about the fact that my kids and their kids might hate my guts for destroying this beautiful planet and making the whole climate so unstable, that they're probably going to know what true hunger is. You know what, I think I might buy me some solar panels and put them on the roof and simply live with the energy that they provide me - and no more - because I'm genuinely worried about that future."

Chris - while still not "in the flesh", here's a handshake and man-hug ;) - My name's Andy - I bought PV and other gear to go off-grid because I'm genuinely worried about my present, and the future my 13 year old son is going to inherit. While he rolls his eyes fairly often today, he knows (not 'thinks' - knows!) that PV, passive solar, and solar thermal work, he's helped turn fermented sugar water into ethanol, and has helped grow vegetables.

Additional note - on the PV and building energy front... US buildings are some of the lease efficient on the planet - and not just by a small amount. Here's another example of what we can do if we choose: Note the costs of construction, building comfort, and the condition of utility bills.


Shane W said...

methinks the lady doth protest too loudly... sheesh...

James Williams said...

In the end, I have realized with my autism, that the key to surviving any future is finding social ties with multiple communities so you can have many places to go. And Greer, I admire you for being a rational voice in this discussion. I secretly read all of the arguments and fighting on this blog in earlier years and felt for you. Thanks!

Patricia Mathews said...

For what it's worth:

1) Kodak is talking about bringing back the Super* camera, film and all,presumably for the hipster-retro market.

2) Since Scotland and Wales have their own 'national' anthems, there is talk in England of picking a uniquely English one rather than the old "God Save the Queen"m which for everybody. Leading the pack is "Jerusalem." If ever there was an anthem for a post-industrial society, surely that one qualifies! OF course, you can always count on William Blake.

Bill Pulliam said...

Shane, what the f' are you talking about? Why on earth do you think I am "defending the status quo?" I'm not even sure which comments you are referring to. I'm describing situations as I see them; that does not in any way imply that I approve of them or support them.

I don't recall hurling any personal insults at you or anyone else here. Why are you hurling them at me?

none said...


A paean to the great god Progress.

Bennett Smith said...

Mr. Greer,

Like many others, I appreciate your insight on the Trump phenomenon. What I find fascinating is the "wage class" hanging their hopes on him... he's not one of them. Never has been, never will be. Other than tapping into their confused rage by using speech, which, occasionally dips into shades of racism against the "other" (non-white populace) and rhetoric that can border on inciting imminent violence, what policies has he put forth that would ACTUALLY benefit their class as a whole? We would all find him more palatable if he came up with some strong ideas other than, "Build a wall and make Mexico pay for it." Which is so reductionist it makes my head hurt.

I believe this is where the derision towards their class comes from. Because other people, the "salary class" as you call them, see folks buy into a false narrative that rings so hollow it almost feels like a pitch to play the lottery.

Furthermore, I'm curious why you didn't address Sanders more fully... is he not attempting to tap into the same "wage class" rage?

Baba T said...


First time poster, been lurking for a week here. I live in India which is boiling in turmoil right now. I have been following developments in America with some interest, and also because the Indian economy is inextricably tied up with USA, so when good ole Murica bites the dust, we are going to really third world it up here. Also relevant to India were your tech bubble observations - I am seeing cases here where companies that have never made a profit are getting absurd valuations and funding from Blackstone, Sequouia etc. Businesses that make no econommic sense are being wilfully and happily set up and being lauded as "the great start up entreprenurial culture of India". These include among others - the food delivery business, the online retail business, the cab sharing service business which is wreaking havoc on the local transport service providers etc. I am unable to wrap my head around the fact that even if you don't see the prospects of a profit, you can still set up a company and call it an exciting new opportunity. Nothing about the economy makes sense anymore. So it is with relief and contentment oddly enough that I read your posts about the degrading environment, because that makes all the sense in the world.

No derivatives can obscure the fact that if you pump greenhouse gases into the air, its gonna get hot and disturb the natural ecological equilibrium optimum for supporting all kinds of diverse life on the planet, which coincidentally happens to be the only habitable one for many many lightyears around. Now that I can understand.

I just wanted to know though - are you absolutely sure that "they are going to come up with something" is not going to happen? Solar? Wind? Nuclear fission or fusion? Magical meteorites? Ocean thermal power? The Force?

More specifically could you point me towards research which can show that nuclear power is not going to replace the conventional sources of energy? Because there is a lot of hype and hoopla around those here, people are ready to believe anything. There is also talk of building a Artificial Super Intelligence that will be able to think of something because apparently it will be more intelligent than Einstein by a 1000 times.

Thanks man, your blog has really helped.

The T all the way around the globe from India.

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