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There’s a hardly a “progressive” alive who isn’t a moron or a sellout

2011 December 12
by Ian Welsh

Seriously, listening to all the progressives either supporting the payroll tax rebate extension (an attack on Social Security) or saying that Cameron should have signed on to a forced austerity pact, I am reminded how mind  numbingly stupid and partisan these people are.  Scum.  Evil. Stupid. I could have a small amount of respect for them if they were getting millions in order to sell out the people they say they care about, but many of them do it for free and the most of the rest do it for peanuts.

There is not an institution in existence, of any importance, which will not have to be torn down.  Unions, corporations, schools, the UN, IMF, World Bank, WTO, they all have to go.  All of them.

The oligarchs have made peaceful change impossible and the people have refused to take the few chances they had (many European countries had far left parties.  Why weren’t they voted for?)

There will be war, there will be revolution.  And there will be Terror.  Hundreds of millions will die.

We had our chances.  I spent 15 years of my life trying to explain how to save the old system, how to make it work.  Others have spent decades.  We failed.  The oligarchs and the people, at every step, refused to do what was necessary.  At every step small minded greed and selfishness won.

So it was.

Unwilling to give up anything to make our civilization actually work, many will now lose everything.

So shall it be.

We shall reap as we have sowed, and we shall know ourselves by our fruits.

101 Responses
  1. December 12, 2011

    One little reported fact (conspiracy of silence) about the payroll tax extension is that Obama is going to “pay” for it with an additional 3 year freeze on civil servant pay (on top of his previous 2 or 3 year freeze that was a unilateral offering, not even asked for by republicans). So this “stimulus” just robs middle to lower middle class peter to pay everyone else. No net stimulus at all. Just teaching the working classes to cannibalize each other. Another crack to stick their crowbar in when next year they will decide social security is going bankrupt faster than predicted and more austerity is needed. Plus government employees, the last holdout of lower to middle class job and income security gets another leg kicked out from under it. All because it is unthinkable to tax the rich and powerful on all that money they just have sitting around. I hope it dies. I hope Obama dies. I hope Reid dies. I hope all the democratic sellout bastards die. But I hope in vain. Besides, even if they did die, there are a hundred more standing behind them to fill their places.

  2. December 12, 2011

    My best guess of the body count is that over a billion will die, because the majority of the population of the planet is not food-sufficient even *with* industrial agriculture going full tilt, and once industrial agriculture collapses in the midst of the turmoil of revolution and social disintegration… well. Actually, now that I think about it, the fate of most Romans at the end of the Empire is probably going to be ours — it’s estimated that up to half of the population of the Empire ended up dead in its collapse, due to starvation, war, and disease (all of which go together since hungry people wage war for what food remains and war destroys things like water systems, sewers, and clean warm homes that prevent diseases).

    What strikes me most about our oligarchs is how *stupid* they are. A century of inbreeding and wealth primarily passed from parents to children through multiple generations has resulted in an oligarch class that, with a few notable exceptions (most of whom are first-generation oligarchs) are about as bright as a box of walnuts. They don’t see that their path is a path to self-destruction. Even if they are successful via repression in maintaining their wealth, the end result of that is Vladimir Putin — i.e., the tools of repression they used to retain their wealth turn upon the masters and dispose of them the way that Putin and his ex-KGB secret policemen have disposed of a goodly percentage of the Russian oligarchs. That is the fate of oligarchs who rely on repression to keep those grubby peasants from getting their hands on oligarch’s money… sooner or later, the goons with guns look around and say, “whoa, as well as shooting peasants, why don’t we just shoot the oligarchs too and take their place?” I.e., it’s suicide for the oligarchical class. But our oligarchs are so stupid that this is the road they’re going down? The stupidity, it hurts, it hurts! (Literally, shortly).

    - BT

  3. Curmudgeon permalink
    December 12, 2011

    I think you’re being too optimistic.

    A tiny elite living lavishly off the backs of the greater population has been the norm of human political economy since the development of agriculture. The brief window following WWII where a viable middle class existed was a historical aberration rather than the shape of things to come.

    What we’ve been seeing since the 1980s is a reversion to the mean as elites take back what has always been theirs.

    There will be violence in the future, but it won’t accomplish anything for the peasant classes any more than the anti-mechanization protests of the industrial revolution prevented manual labor from being taken over by machines. There is no up from here for anyone in the western world who wasn’t born with a silver spoon in their mouth.

    Whether there’s more ‘up’ for people in the developing world is something I’m not sure about. A middle-class interregnum may be an unavoidable phase in economic development but I am sure that developing world elites will do their best to keep any such phase to its absolute minimum length.

  4. John Sears permalink
    December 12, 2011

    Don’t forget the Republicans are using the payroll tax cut in the House as a means to ‘force’ Obama to do all sorts of heinously evil things he already wants to do, like delay EPA regulations to save lives from industrial pollution or rush an enormous leaky tar sands pipeline through some of the most sensitive aquifers in all of North America: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/09/us/politics/house-republicans-unveil-plan-to-extend-payroll-tax-cut.html?_r=1

    Sure, Obama’s threatening to stand up to them. How many promises like that has he broken already this year? My guess: the House measure passes the Senate with minor changes, Obama signs it ‘reluctantly’, then Dems and their sycophantic lobby groups run against it next year to present an alleged contrast with the evil Republicans. Good Progressives will fall in line; they always do, in the end. Brother.

  5. Roman Berry permalink
    December 12, 2011

    One point of disagreement: The people supporting the attack on Social Security’s finances (AKA the extension of the “temporary” reduction in the payroll tax) and lambasting Cameron for not signing on to a pact that effectively makes banks/rentiers superior to the sovereign and the citizens are not “progressives” (whatever “progressive” is supposed to mean), they’re partisan Democrats who stand for nothing at all other than pushing the policies and edicts of the party and its elites. They are in fact often ignorant of anything to do with an issue and can’t be bothered to look past whatever the talking points of the day are. And yeah, often they are fundamentally not too bright, because bright people don’t mindlessly repeat talking points, they investigate for themselves.

    Evil? Maybe. I don’t think that if they are that it is on purpose. I think the evil is just a byproduct of their mindlessness. And it isn’t just on austerity, it’s on practically everything. There seems to be no issue for which steadfast opposition was of paramount importance during the previous admin that they do not stand ready to support the very things they once opposed. And they make the same excuses. Mindless. Dumb.

  6. December 12, 2011

    You’re right about that, Roman Berry. Even this plan B nonsense is just galling. As if stabbing the prochoice voters in the back and gaining zero votes for every 100 that is lost makes any sense at all. From that to watching all the Euro and Canadian leftist sign up for austerity for the masses and coddling the rich, sometimes the world seems so crazy and dreamlike and upsidedown it’s like a spell has been cast to cause so much coordinated and blatant stupidity.

  7. KZK permalink
    December 12, 2011

    Plainly, Humainity will go extinct in the next 50 years. There will be a hundred Fukishimas, particularly if collapse & war hit.

    See some of the absolutely blithering stupidity of what’s going on in Japan here:

    http://fukushima-diary.com/

  8. December 12, 2011

    Yeah, I posted way too early on what happened Friday with Cameron, but then again, I have a tendency to shoot my mouth off before thinking. I’m certain it will happen again.

  9. Formerly T-Bear permalink
    December 12, 2011

    TIN>PB – There Is No Plan B – Tin(sel) to Lead

  10. Jack Crow permalink
    December 12, 2011

    Ian,

    I haven’t been inclined to support “saving the old system” for the better part of decade, but you are right that failing to save it means that the momentum of response shifts towards a different sort of people than the restorationists. I think that, even more significantly, it falls to a core of persons with a mindset I personally find mostly familiar:

    The damaged people. The victims, armed with rage and desire.

    For decades, we’ve been waiting for the otherwise healthy people to fix the miss their compatriots have created. But, it really can’t be done with preservation reminded reform, because the mess is itself deliberate. It’s planned chaos. You don’t need to be told that austerity is not an accident. That the fire sale of the Commons was orchestrated. That capitalist crises are not only systemic, but beneficial to the class of people who own the means of production.

    And that means the people best suited to struggling against a managed chaos will be those who can survive and organize within it. Chaotes, themselves. Bad people, according to the bourgeois mentality* of careful, slow, managed “reform.” People who have a vision of the future which isn’t paved with affection, good feeling, spiritualized non-violence and the polite conventions of the institutional world.

    It will be bloody. Because the victims have a claim to blood.

    * – a mental outlook shaped in the material environment of institutions, academia and disciplined labor.

  11. StewartM permalink
    December 12, 2011

    Ian, while I agree with everything you say about the mendacity of many “progressive” elites, on the payroll tax extension the proposed tax on millionaires was supposed to make up the losses into Social Security. (Although admittedly repaying the fund out of general revenues muddies Social Security’s self-funding status).

    StewartM

  12. December 12, 2011

    The oligarchs have made peaceful change impossible and the people have refused to take the few chances they had (many European countries had far left parties. Why weren’t they voted for?)

    Too many Europeople (including not a small number of southern Europeans) believe in the “profligacy” story.

  13. Morocco Bama permalink
    December 12, 2011

    Shit, I know we’ve had a major disagreement in the past, which really wasn’t a disagreement when you get right down to it, but I have to chime in once again and say that everything you’ve been saying as of late is everything I have been thinking and asserting elsewhere, as well. It’s refreshing to know there are a few others, a mere handful, that see this for what it is, because it’s lonely out here in The Wilderness of True Dissent.

  14. Ian Welsh permalink*
    December 12, 2011

    “the proposed tax on millionaires was supposed to make up the losses into Social Security”

    and the odds of this passing, were?

    Morrocco: feel free to come back if you like, it was a stupid fight anyway.

  15. Ian Welsh permalink*
    December 12, 2011

    SP: you have the saving grace of being able to change your mind when you think things over.

    Rare.

  16. StewartM permalink
    December 12, 2011

    Curmudgeon:

    A tiny elite living lavishly off the backs of the greater population has been the norm of human political economy since the development of agriculture. The brief window following WWII where a viable middle class existed was a historical aberration rather than the shape of things to come.

    What we’ve been seeing since the 1980s is a reversion to the mean as elites take back what has always been theirs.

    Bingo! My thoughts exactly.

    Though there’s more. In my blog about the origins of Thanksgiving, posted to FDL, I wrote about how the English were trying to recreate their “upstairs, downstairs” type of society which creates the worst kind of unfreedom for the lower classes in the New World. And how attempting that directly ran afoul of problems: namely, the new peasants-to-be either ran away into the woods or even ran away to live with Native Americans. Those who took the latter course discovered societies where there was minimal work requirements, where they had undreamed-of autonomy and freedom in matters of conscience and sexual freedom, where no Lord Asshole micromanaged their daily existence 24/7, and societies where women exercised much creater power and even children had rights that had to be respected. The existence of these alternatives was one reason why the English authorities often killed any peasant-to-be who “went Indian” in the early colonial period.

    The victory of the English Way was merely a matter of the triumph of technology and the related demographics. It was not the victory of a civilization that offered a superior life for the bulk of its members (in fact, it’s possible that Native Americans outlived Englishmen at this time). As for the Native American, they no more “went English” for the supposed benefits of English society any more than West Berliners climbed over the Berlin Wall to get into East Berlin, for the same reasons. And I agree with Bruce E. Johansen (University of Nebraska) that Native American cultures, despite the problems arising from a lack of real understanding of them by European thinkers, did influence Enlightenment thinkers on what a free society might look like. Before contact with them, I believe that their civilization’s pedigree was so control-freakish and so top-down that they really didn’t have a clue (witness all the waves of religious persecution for private beliefs of conscience and the fact that the most private thing that people can do–sex–was likewise tightly controlled with transgressions horrifically punished).

    That’s our cultural pedigree. It’s what is emotionally hardwired nearly all of us by all our culture’s myths and childhood indoctrination. It’s why conservatives are NOT and CANNOT be for “freedom” and “liberty” because it’s this very UNfree pedigree that they are defending. We have to consciously think, not go with “feelings”, in many cases to guard against the effects of this indoctrination, because in many instances our “feelings” have been corrupted by this indoctrination. Science, while not foolproof, offers the best means we have to counteract this mal-training. If we base our decisions on feel-good homilies and cultural warm fuzzies, well, this dog will always return to his own vomit.

    I think in the 1960s and early 70s we were at the verge of possibly creating a truly different society. But then we blinked, because in so many ways this would abolish or vastly alter the “truths” our culture had taught. We retreated instead. Some retreated into the counter-culture (a dead-end that questioned less than is assumed). Some retreated into neo-conservativism. And the dog returned to his own vomit, beginning in the 70s but with a vengeance in 1980.

    And the role of mainstream “liberals” since Reagan has been to tell us that at least some of that vomit really is tasty and good for us.

    StewartM

  17. StewartM permalink
    December 12, 2011

    Ian Welsh:

    and the odds of this passing, were?

    I’m hardly the defender of Obama, but I can’t fault him for proposing something that might be actually OK. Now, for failing to deliver or for folding like cheap lawn furniture (as he always does), yeah, certainly.

    If push came to shove, I’d sooner let the payroll tax cuts expire and protect SS. That will be the real test for Obama, just like the real test for him is to let ALL the Bush tax cuts expire if he can’t get his middle-class cut. Just like the stimulus effects of tax cuts are oversold, so is the penalty if they go up (and moreover tax hikes on the rich and on corporate profits actually *stimulate*, rather than depress, the economy, for reasons I won’t go into here). The economy needs increased government spending, on the right things, on long-term projects, rather than any tax holiday.

    And I predict Obama will “fail” (assuming he really wants these things) these tests. He’s given no indication otherwise.

    StewartM

  18. Jack Crow permalink
    December 12, 2011

    Stewart, Curmudgeon:

    It wasn’t pretty, and it went poorly for the poor, but it’s not like we have a history of just taking it:

    Münster Rebellion
    The Peasant’s War
    The Paris Commune

    And those are just European examples. There are quite literally hundreds of thousands of instances of people not taking it, the world and history over.

    I think the problem, perhaps, is that you might be conflating the willingness of “middle class” people to absorb shock in order to preserve a comparatively better standard of living with the whole of our society. The “middle class” may be essential to the ruling class, but they are no good bellwether for measuring unrest. The member of the “middle class” will tend to be disciplined and law abiding. The rest of us – and we are the overwhelming majority – not so much.

    When members of the middle class protest and tamely express dissatisfaction within the bounds of polite society, it’s munificently treated as discontent, for a while. When the poor and working poor do it, it gets added to the FBI’s database of statistics about crime.

  19. Ian Welsh permalink*
    December 12, 2011

    He knew tax raises on millionaires wouldn’t pass. Watch the hand.

  20. Morocco Bama permalink
    December 12, 2011

    Morrocco: feel free to come back if you like, it was a stupid fight anyway.

    Thanks Ian. It was a stupid fight. I have a tendency to get carried away. I will keep myself in check and step back before posting when I’m emotional, but like my night shirt says, “I Holler Because I Care.” The wife got me that a long time ago because I have a tendency to shout when I get impassioned about a topic…..which is always. I don’t shout to intimidate……..so I don’t get in people’s faces and shout….I just can’t help raising my voice. Some people cry…..I holler.

    Anyways, you said this, and it was my sentiment, exactly.

    and the odds of this passing, were?

    Yes, coulda, shoulda, woulda doesn’t cut it. Not to mention, proposing something, knowing full well you have no intention of passing it, or getting it passed, is duplicitous……but that’s Obama’s thing. He still has Stewart believing in the idea that he is weak and caves to the “other side” when in that realm, there is no longer another side….it’s the same side….just different masks depending on the compromised audience.

  21. StewartM permalink
    December 12, 2011

    Morroco Bama:

    He still has Stewart believing in the idea that he is weak and caves to the “other side” when in that realm, there is no longer another side

    No, he doesn’t have me believing in him. But I will take anyone at face value for what they propose.

    If you start dismssing what politicos propose right off the bat by postulating a Kabuki Theater explanation for everything in politics, then you fall into other traps. During the debt ceiling debate, you had Obama defenders like MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell extolling Obama’s “genius” for putting Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security on the table for massive cuts. O’Donnell told progressives that essentially that “don’t worry, this is just kabuki, it isn’t a real proposal” because the Republicans wouldn’t take it.

    Well, guess what? There I believed Obama was being geniune, that he DOES want to massively slash the entitlements, and he earns my ire for making that proposal.

    Bottom line is that you hold politicos to what they say they will do, and then hold them accountable for getting it done.

    StewartM

  22. StewartM permalink
    December 12, 2011

    Ian Welsh:

    He knew tax raises on millionaires wouldn’t pass.

    Then politics is all about only attempting what you have the votes for to pass now? That you never propose anything that won’t pass now to create debate to create a possible future where it could? Gah, that’s been the problem of the left for the past 30 years.

    In that case, all the Occupy people should just go home, because nothing they are for will ever be enacted by the current leadership.

    StewartM

  23. John permalink
    December 12, 2011

    It is interesting that all this is happening concurrently with the climate conference. I even saw somewhere today that it was successfully finished, whatever that means. The irony is that financial collapse, limited war, revolution and chaos is one way of reducing the carbon footprint in the long run.

  24. Ian Welsh permalink*
    December 12, 2011

    Obama has a long history of proposing left-wing shit he knows won’t pass, and which if there is any danger of it passing, he will sandbag himself.

    I look forward to you promoting Obama 12, ’cause he’s going to tell you how he’s a born again progressive and make lots of proposals. Somehow they won’t go anywhere, but hey.

  25. Morocco Bama permalink
    December 12, 2011

    Bottom line is that you hold politicos to what they say they will do, and then hold them accountable for getting it done.

    I would submit that is exactly what is taking place….it’s just that the “politcos” aren’t accountable to the majority of us. They’re accountable to the Oligarchy who selected them, and they’re getting the job done, meaning they’re greasing the skids for the Oligarchs to more easily remove the chips from the table after a incredible romp at the Poker Table…..and yes, they cheated their way to victory, but it’s not difficult to cheat with such obviously easy targets.

    How do you propose persuading a politician to do your bidding absent the tactics Ian has mentioned on numerous occasions? Letter Writing, Calling and Non-Violently Protesting obviously don’t work…..so, what next? Surely, you can’t subscribe to the idea of more of the same until it works, because if that’s the case, I’m afraid you will be waiting a very long while….say, an eternity.

  26. alyosha permalink
    December 12, 2011

    I look forward to you promoting Obama 12, ’cause he’s going to tell you how he’s a born again progressive and make lots of proposals.

    I got roasted on another blog after people there were all hearts a-twitter following last week’s Kansas speech – full of progressive idealism, and staged on the spot where Teddy Roosevelt gave his “New Nationalism” speech. Obama is so good at giving these kinds of speeches to bring everyone on-board emotionally, and get votes. I had to keep telling these people “Obama is no Teddy Roosevelt”. They didn’t like it.

    It’s such a cheap trick – which the right does all time when they invoke Ronald Reagan – to try and resurrect an earlier giant and pretend you’re their heir.

    I hear you when you say There is not an institution in existence, of any importance, which will not have to be torn down.. Jesus wept.

  27. someofparts permalink
    December 12, 2011

    Roman Berry – I’m reading Eichman in Jerusalem again this month. That flat mindlessness you speak of is just what Hannah Arendt meant by “banality of evil”. The idea of a criminal mastermind from our comics and detective yarns is usually the opposite of the reality IRL. Arendt’s descriptions of Eichman describe someone who never understood that he had done wrong, someone completely incapable of logical consistency or basic reasoning. Leaves all the room in the world to do the unspeakable.

    As to the indigenous Americans, even today, if we have the sense to make dictionaries of those languages before they disappear forever – well, the insights for those of us hidebound in our Euro-based languages is breathtaking. How about a language that doesn’t use nouns. Really. That just knocks my socks off. I asked an Abenaki friend about it and she said – “It’s raining”, meaning, why does anyone need the pronoun in that sentence paleface? Also, if Russel Means is to be believed, still matri-local and matrilineal. My Abenaki friend said that the only reason the woman her asshole brother married didn’t divorce him earlier was because, being matri-local, the moved to her town after the wedding so, surrounded by supportive relations, it took her longer to figure out my friend’s brother was a jerk.

    Wish I didn’t agree with Badtux about the billions v. millions, but that was just what I was thinking. Sad thing too is that we have lost that food sufficiency with stunning speed. I can remember visiting a friend’s grandparents who still had all the skills it took to turn five acres of good land into something that produced every thing they put on their table.

  28. someofparts permalink
    December 12, 2011

    So how does this impact Canada?

  29. StewartM permalink
    December 12, 2011

    Ian Welsh:

    I look forward to you promoting Obama 12, ’cause he’s going to tell you how he’s a born again progressive and make lots of proposals. Somehow they won’t go anywhere, but hey.

    Considering I have just finished an email asking me who I’d vote for, and telling them “not Obama” and why, I find your and Morroco’s reply more than a little cheeky.

    AND–I recall one of the criticisms of the left about Obama (and actually, it applies to other “progressive” Dems too, though I don’t consider Obama “progressive”) is that they always start from some pre-compromise position which gets watered down from there in the name of “political realism” like you are arguing for. This criticism runs, say, “If a public option is the minimal position, then you propose single payer or even a national health service”. Bottom line is that you don’t limit what you advocate to what you have a chance of achieving today.

    Obama’s failing with me is that he didn’t just fail to achieve a public option, like he proposed. It’s that *he and Rahm secretly worked against it when it was possible to get through*. Moreover, he didn’t stand down the GOP in December 2010 and let the Bush tax cuts expire (ALL of them) when this was perfectly in his power. This is why I won’t vote for him.

    BUT–when it just comes to evaluating a proposal (and it doesn’t matter who it originates from), a proposal to re-imburse Social Security funds from a tax on millionaires to finance a payroll tax reduction isn’t a bad idea taken on its own value. That is simply evaluating an idea based on its own merits, which is/was my point.

    StewartM

  30. mistah charley, ph.d. permalink
    December 12, 2011

    Life’s a piece of shit, when you look at it….ya come from nothin’, ya go ta nothin’, what’ve ya lost? nothin’ —–Monty Python, Always look on the bright side

  31. The Tragically Flip permalink
    December 12, 2011

    I really think the elites have no plan as such. I don’t give them that much credit. We created an economic and social system that allowed the most selfish, sociopathic and domineering people to rise to the very top. People who have generally poor reasoning, but lots of cunning and indifference toward hurting others in pursuit of goals. These are not people who are good at cooperating with others for mutual benefit, even with each other to suppress the rest of us. Instead, I see a set of discrete actors acting in what they believe to be their self interest, leading to a collectively obviously absurd and destructive result. But for the 1%ers, you have to keep playing because if you stop you’ll be shoved down to the 99%, rather than graduating into the 0.1%. It’s a crowd of people in a burning nightclub rushing the exits. Yes, the jam at the door is going to kill most of them, but if you’re in that mess, you’d better scratch, claw and bite your way out the door, even if you know the whole thing is stupid.

    I don’t think they have it in them to run a grand conspiracy with some big “end game” – movement conservativism is such a success because it requires very little conspiring, just a bunch of assholes being assholes in a web of cushy jobs that pay them to be professional assholes. Sure, it takes a few billionaires to fund the thing from the top, but not that many. A few Scaifes and Murdochs to set the table, and everything else happens organically.

  32. Ghostwheel permalink
    December 12, 2011

    “Obama has a long history of proposing left-wing shit he knows won’t pass, and which if there is any danger of it passing, he will sandbag himself. I look forward to you promoting Obama 12, ’cause he’s going to tell you how he’s a born again progressive and make lots of proposals. Somehow they won’t go anywhere, but hey.” @ Ian Welsh

    And we shouldn’t forget that there was legislation floating around Congress back in the Democrat majority days to have Medicare bargain for prescription drug prices, which would have reduced the cost of Part D by 40%-60%. The Obama administration quietly killed it.

    All the way up to Obama’s Korean-American Free Trade Agreement. Freely contracting North Korean workers in the Totalitarian Slave State of North Korea can now factory-make goods for sale in the United States—as long as they pass through South Korea first and the North Koreans only put together 65% of a product. But hey, who’s keeping track?

    I’m sure we could easily come up with a list of a dozen or more. But hey, I’m not keeping track either. A few gross instances are enough to indicate the caliber of the man. Or ought to be, in a sane world.

  33. Jack Crow permalink
    December 12, 2011

    There’s a whole of “unplanned” and purely haphazard money invested in securing control of political offices, judicial appointments, statutes and tables of law, committee chairmanships, lobbying positions, regulatory agencies, political parties, media narratives, fundraising bundles and boards of directors, then, Tragically.

  34. Morocco Bama permalink
    December 12, 2011

    Stewart, We have reached the point where compromise is irrelevant. I agree with you that the Public Option was never on the table, even though the pretense was that it was always on the table. I looked at the Public Option as a failure from the get-go, so it being excluded from the final legislation was No Big Whoop to me because I saw the whole Healthcare Legislation for what it was early on. In fact, I saw Obama for what he was back in 2004 when he gave the keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention and my wife and I agreed that he was being called up from the Bullpen of Obscurity to be the next Face on this Creative Destruction that’s being implemented.

    Stewart, you’re a decent person, I can tell. You’re a person of conscience who was brought up to believe that the System will work if just given the chance. It feels to me at this point, that in order for you to keep your sanity, you will cling to that notion until you draw your past breath because you believe that the electoral process is the only way to right this sinking ship.

    I hate to break it to you, Stewart, but the electoral process is part of the ship. The ship was not seaworthy….the facts prove that out. The System was corruptible, and therefore, the System is flawed. The System must go. The System won’t right itself. The System is fulfilling its purpose. Can we buck it in time? It seems highly unlikely considering no one wants to accept facts, but rather engage in delusions about what never was, nor ever will be.

    I feel Ian’s mental anguish. The time for EFFECTIVE action was yesterday….but now it’s tomorrow, and still, we’re not even close to anything that would resemble effective action. It’s past the time of “It’s Now Or Never.” The next ten to twenty years, or more, are going to be mind-blowing if you live to see it. It won’t be PG 13…in fact, I don’t think there’s a rating for what’s to come….we’ll have to make one up.

  35. tom allen permalink
    December 12, 2011

    Hehehe. You buncha fuckwads (well, except mistah charley, ph.d.) You’ve got the causes right, the explanations — everything but the conclusion. You think it’s going to be violent this time? I suppose it could be, and indeed I do often despair. But look at Egypt. Look at OWS. For crying out loud, look at the Russians standing up to Putin, publicly, on Facebook, secret police be damned.

    People are figuring out that Jesus and Buddha and Gandhi were right. FINALLY. Nothing destroys authoritarians like laughter and peaceful defiance. We’ll either destroy ourselves or bring peace on earth. It’s a lesson, all right, and it’s about time we learned it as well as we taught it. :-P

    – signed, a moron who used to sell it but now gives it away for free.

  36. David Lister permalink
    December 12, 2011

    I really think the elites have no plan as such.

    I imagine elites with no plan tend to be overthrown by elites with a plan. At this stage of history there are likely precious few of the former left.

  37. David Lister permalink
    December 12, 2011

    Nothing destroys authoritarians like laughter and peaceful defiance.

    Yeah, after that Charlie Chaplain movie came out, the Allied war effort was just gravy.

  38. David Lister permalink
    December 12, 2011

    O’Donnell told progressives that essentially that “don’t worry, this is just kabuki, it isn’t a real proposal” because the Republicans wouldn’t take it.
    Well, guess what? There I believed Obama was being geniune, that he DOES want to massively slash the entitlements, and he earns my ire for making that proposal.

    It seemed to me that the media’s appropriation of the “Kabuki” meme during the debt ceiling con game was a willful effort to obscure its actual meaning at a time when there was a serious danger of it breaking loose from the left blogosphere and infecting the public at large; so I don’t see that as a count against it, beyond its lack of transparency compared to alternatives like “good cop/bad cop” or “Harlem Globetrotters vs. Washington Generals”.

    Creationists invoke the second law of thermodynamics all the time, that doesn’t mean that the second law of thermodynamics is therefore suspect, it just means that creationists are disingenuous.

  39. Jack Crow permalink
    December 12, 2011

    Man, Titus son of Vespasian sure did change his mind after imaginary Jesus walked the earth. And India has never engaged in a war with any other country, or procured nukes, after Gandhi.

    And Ashoka? He never fought in a war…

  40. David Lister permalink
    December 12, 2011

    $#^$%@ing autocorrect. “Chaplin”.

  41. David Lister permalink
    December 12, 2011

    How about a language that doesn’t use nouns. Really. That just knocks my socks off.

    What?

    I asked an Abenaki friend about it and she said – “It’s raining”, meaning, why does anyone need the pronoun in that sentence paleface?

    Japanese has it as “Ame ga furu” (“Rain is falling”) which I always thought was far more sensible than the bizarre English construction.

  42. Katherine Calkin permalink
    December 12, 2011

    I guess we all lost the “death bet.”

  43. jcapan permalink
    December 12, 2011

    Jesus’ buddha balls, what a depressing thread.

    Badtux:

    My best guess of the body count is that over a billion will die, because the majority of the population of the planet is not food-sufficient even *with* industrial agriculture going full tilt, and once industrial agriculture collapses in the midst of the turmoil of revolution and social disintegration… well. Actually, now that I think about it, the fate of most Romans at the end of the Empire is probably going to be ours — it’s estimated that up to half of the population of the Empire ended up dead in its collapse, due to starvation, war, and disease (all of which go together since hungry people wage war for what food remains and war destroys things like water systems, sewers, and clean warm homes that prevent diseases).

    If wealthy nations cannot continue to procure food/water/other resources, I’d say a body count measured in billions would be the strategy, not a consequence. Utilizing bio-warfare/genocide, the elites will wipe key regions of the map clean, buying themselves a few more decades living large. There is probably no final solution but for their own parasitic lives, it might suffice. Trust that 1st world elites don’t want their own people to face wide-scale starvation–billions in Asia or Africa, however… And if their deaths could be reasonably hastened, all the better.

  44. someofparts permalink
    December 12, 2011

    I guess I figured that in a place the size of the U.S. the 1% don’t have to do anything proactive. They can just abandon people to fend for themselves without resources. I was under the impression they did it that way in Russia.

  45. Compound F permalink
    December 13, 2011

    Between you, Greenwald, Chris Floyd, and Stoneleigh (you do know Stoneleigh & Ilargi? And I do wonder wonder what you think about them, because you talk about a decade of Japanification, whereas they talk about debt Hell for decades…and that’s mostly prior to what John Michael Greer is talking about…) I feel grounded in the political/economic world. It’s all Jeff Buckely’s Hallelujah to me.

    Let’s for the moment forget about Greenwald and Floyd, solely for the purpose of restricting the scope of this chapter. Stoneleigh & Ilargi say that, “Unprecedented credit bubble bursts, for a decade, if not more (probaby more) hereafter. Enjoy the lack of energy. We all know that GDP is a strict linear function of energy (R^2 < 0.99). R-fucking-squared, mate!

    So, Ponzi scheme collapse, followed by energy clusterfudge = what?

    You are my positive pole, so give it your best shot. I.e., my feelings are much more dire than yours.

    None of this is meant to “rip” you, in case there is any misunderstanding. I have honestly enjoyed your point of view, no matter with whom you are associated, which is not to promise that I won’t rip you in the future.

  46. December 13, 2011

    Americans will never stand for this happening in their world, Ian.

    They’ll change the channel.

  47. Ian Welsh permalink*
    December 13, 2011

    Japanification is what they wanted. I said it was an unstable solution set. 10 years may have been optimistic for how long they could hold it together (taking the start as late 07), these morons keep surprising to the downside. You’re right, I’ve been too optimistic almost all down the line, which is why people who think I’m a pessimist amuse me: my errors are almost all in cases where I thought it would be better than it is.

    Perhaps I’ll see about putting together a new baseline scenario post, so folks can see where my thinking is.

    But let me put it this way, we’re coming into some really uncertain territory. I can’t time this. But I have told friends to get the fuck out, and at least a couple are—one is leaving it 3 years, and that may be too long (remember, they will not let you get out and take your shit with you when things start going really bad).

    We are in the uncertainty period, the assholes running things are juggling nitro and they’re stupid, greedy and venal. The last people who were competent are in their dotage or gone entirely from power (ie. the evil but competent folks are NOT in charge anymore, or in the few places they are they are hanging on by the skin of their aging yellow teeth.) The left (the opposition) is either venal and stupid and cowardly (the old left) or a bunch of hopeless ideologues who believe in Bambi as policy and need a lot more real world education, but we are running out of time for them to get it.

    If China and/or India roll off a cliff economically, we are in for a full-on world wide GREAT fucking depression. And it will almost certainly end in war. We are very close to another global trade collapse, they may pull it out and avoid it, but they may not, and it should never have been allowed to get this close.

    We are bound and determined to cause a Great Depression. Our policymakers are going out of their way to make one happen.

    However, the “upside” is that there may be one more, unconventional oil, boom. You won’t have any groundwater after it, but it’s what wants to happen. The left has no solutions, so the frack, baby frack crowd is going to have their day. If Newt wins that may happen sooner than later (that would be good, not bad, it’s in the cards, might as well get it done.)

  48. December 13, 2011

    Thank you, Ian, as ever.

    I sent this blog post to my mailing list yesterday. I don’t know why I bother anymore, but I do. Of course I got back the usual “thumbs down” and other outraged comments. From a few, that is. Mostly my circle of cocktail-party-liberal friends just roll their eyes and ignore the whole thing.

    David Lister, brilliant Charlie Chaplin comment.

    Morocco, glad to have you back.

  49. Ian Welsh permalink*
    December 13, 2011

    Lisa,

    this was not an article such people would like, since it requires them, as with us, to acknowledge our own failings.

  50. Morocco Bama permalink
    December 13, 2011

    Thanks Lisa, it’s good to be back. I’ve been lurking……what NPR did to you doesn’t surprise me in the least. You’re too good for them, anyway, so screw them.

    My wife will be completing her Masters at Loyola in Maryland (she switched careers and is now a Montessori Primary Teacher with hopes of opening her own school in the not too distant future) in Montessori Education this summer. It’s a month long process, and pretty intensive, but if you’re open to it, perhaps my wife and I could meet with you and your husband over drinks and dinner one evening. I promise I am much more engaging and civil in person than on the internets, so you don’t have to worry about me making a scene. With the internet, I don’t have to pretend, and can let it all hang out. Unfortunately, IRL, I would have a record a mile long if I took the same approach….although, we’re fast approaching a time where that distinction will no longer have the downside that locks in such inhibitions.

  51. December 13, 2011

    MB, you mean you live in Baltimore?!

    Quel small world.

    Would love to meet. Ian can give you my email address. Yes, Ian?

  52. Morocco Bama permalink
    December 13, 2011

    Greer over at the Energy Bulletin has a nice, tidy, highly-concentrated analysis here. I agree with much of it, especially the sentiment. The implication is that Haiti is the prototype for most of us….and that’s optimistic, IMO.

    http://www.energybulletin.net/stories/2011-12-08/what-peak-oil-looks

    That was what drove the “globalization” fad of the 1990s, after all: another round of arbitrage, in which huge profits were reaped off the difference between labor costs in industrial and nonindustrial countries. Very few people seem to have noticed that globalization involved a radical reversal of the movement toward greater automation—that is, the use of fossil fuel energy to replace human labor. When the cost of hiring a sweatshop laborer became less than the cost of paying for an equivalent amount of productive capacity in mechanical form, the arbitrage shifted into reverse; only the steep differentials in wage costs between the Third World and the industrial nations, and a vast amount of very cheap transport fuel, made it possible for the arbitrage to continue.

    Still, at this point the same lack of bankable projects has come home to roost. A series of lavish Fed money printing operations (the euphemism du jour is “qualitative easing”) flooded the banking system in the United States with immense amounts of cheap cash, in an attempt to make up for the equally immense losses the banking system suffered in the aftermath of the 2005-2008 real estate bubble. Pundits insisted, at least at first, that the result would be a flood of new loans to buoy the economy out of its doldrums, but nothing of the kind happened. There are plenty of reasons why it didn’t happen, but a core reason was simply that there aren’t that many business propositions in the industrial world just now that are in a position to earn enough money to pay back loans.

    Among the few businesses that do promise a decent return on investment are the ones involved in fossil fuel extraction, and so companies drilling for oil and natural gas in shale deposits—the latest fad in the fossil fuel field—have more capital than they know what to do with. The oil boomtowns in North Dakota and the fracking projects stirring up controversy in various corners of the Northeast are among the results. Elsewhere in the American economy, however, good investments are increasingly scarce. For decades now, profits from the financial industry and speculation have eclipsed profits from the manufacture of goods—before the 2008 crash, it bears remembering, General Motors made far more profit from its financing arm than it did from building cars—and that reshaping of the economy seems to be approaching its logical endpoint, the point at which it’s no longer profitable for the industrial economy to manufacture anything at all.

    I have begun to suspect that this will turn out to be one of the most crucial downsides of the arrival of peak oil. If the industrial economy, as I’ve suggested, was basically an arbitrage scheme profiting off the difference in cost between energy from fossil fuels and energy from human laborers, the rising cost of fossil fuels and other inputs needed to run an industrial economy will sooner or later collide with the declining cost of labor in an impoverished and overcrowded society. As we get closer to that point, it seems to me that we may begin to see the entire industrial project unravel, as the profits needed to make industrialism make sense dry up. If that’s the unspoken subtext behind the widening spiral of economic dysfunction that seems to be gripping so much of the industrial world today, then what we’ve seen so far of what peak oil looks like may be a prologue to a series of wrenching economic transformations that will leave few lives untouched.

  53. Morocco Bama permalink
    December 13, 2011

    Lisa, no, we don’t live in Baltimore, but my wife will be required to be in Baltimore for a month this summer to finish up her Masters in Montessori, so I will be there for part of that time, at least, so I thought about giving you a ring, or an e-mail, and setting up a time when we could meet you and your husband for some good spirits and good food….whilst there is still some of that to be had.

  54. December 13, 2011

    Directing people to Edger’s (he commented above) pithy assessment of the American public:

    http://antemedius.com/content/fascism-has-no-chance-america

  55. Ian Welsh permalink*
    December 13, 2011

    The energybulletin thing is a 4 billion people dead article. We cannot afford to deindustrialize that way.

  56. December 13, 2011

    Great post and comments….

  57. December 13, 2011

    I waver between peak oil and catastrophe-by-needless-systemic-stupidity as being danger #1. It seems like there are ways to get off of total oil-dependence that preserve some essential characteristics of modern civilization—not particularly painlessly, but it is physically possible. But I’m starting to think that the point is moot anyway, because Peak Stupid Evil is overtaking faster than I thought possible. I never thought I’d actually miss the days of competent evil, but competent evil isn’t needlessly suicidal. It seems like at a global scale, stupid evil is more adaptive in the short term than competent evil.

    For some reason I still spend time wrangling with mainstream economists, and that has helped me understand how stupid evil can dominate the political process. You have an (often well-intentioned) profession entirely devoted to the circular logic that we live in the best of all possible worlds because it’s the best world that came to exist. (This is the what the concept of Dynamic Stochastic General Equilibrium really boils down to—just unpack the phrase itself.) This profession provides an intellectual bulwark against anyone who wants to do anything outside the current trend, good or evil. Given entropy, it will always tend to evil. Stupid Evil > Competent Evil > Competent Good > Stupid Good…

    I was recently arguing with a bloggy economist about utility functions of agents in their models. It apparently didn’t occur to him (or to others, he’s hardly the first) that someone’s utility function could include disutility to others at one’s own expense. Greed in the form of enriching yourself at the expense of others, yes. Pyrrhic victories, no. He opined that the fact that the existence of “malevolent utility”, as I called it, might just be projection on my part. The enormous human history and ongoing current events that bear it out, ignored.

    What’s basically left is to make the decline as slow as possible, even though it will be catastrophic either way.

  58. Morocco Bama permalink
    December 13, 2011

    Ian, I don’t subscribe to their solution, but I do share their assessment of what lays ahead if something isn’t done, and that site is not even a stop of mine. I ran across the article on another site, read it, agreed with much of it, and linked to its original source. I don’t endorse the Energy Bulletin because I have no idea what it’s about, but I do believe the article has much merit, and it supports your contention about the next oil boom being shale.

    Personally, I believe many of these no-growth, sustain blogs and orgs are attempts by the Oligarchs to desensitize The Masses to accepting a world of severe austerity. Eventually, they’ll have the majority of us singing and dancing into the crematoriums so long as we can take our flat screens, i-pads and i-phones with us.

  59. Watson permalink
    December 13, 2011

    ‘The left has no solutions’

    It’s fine to criticize the performance of the people and parties on the left, but I think that we should emphasize that the crucial policy solution is that of the traditional left: a robust public sector democratically managing our resources for the common good.

  60. Jack Crow permalink
    December 13, 2011

    Mandos,

    I’m loathe to use the word “evil,” myself, since it comes laden with metaphysical assumptions about unchanging souls and personae, but that’s a real good catch on your part: economism refuses to factor malice.

  61. Jack Crow permalink
    December 13, 2011

    Watson,

    Isn’t that “robust democratic sector” subject to capture so long as the significantly more robust private sector exists?

  62. December 13, 2011

    Thank you, Lisa. Another you may want to have a look at is “‘Advanced’ Civilization: The Long Party is Over” ( http://antemedius.com/content/advanced-civilization-long-party-over )

    Our current way of life is unsustainable. We are the first species that will have to self-consciously impose limits on ourselves if we are to survive.
    — Robert Jensen

  63. Morocco Bama permalink
    December 13, 2011

    Here it is in a nutshell. The Lightbulb Conspiracy.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1xt4nEvipg&feature=player_embedded

    Also, look at this paper penned by Bernard London in 1932. He wanted to make Planned Obsolescence a legally imperative mandate.

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/27/London_%281932%29_Ending_the_depression_through_planned_obsolescence.pdf

    I would have the Government assign a lease of life to shoes and homes and machines, to all products of manufacture, mining and agriculture, when they are first created, and they would be sold and used within the term of their existence definitely known by the consumer. After the allotted time had expired, these things would be legally “dead” and would be controlled by the duly appointed governmental agency and destroyed if there is widespread unemployment. New products would constantly be pouring forth from the factories and marketplaces, to take the place of the obsolete, and the wheels of industry would be kept going and employment regularized and assured for the masses.

  64. Watson permalink
    December 13, 2011

    Isn’t that “robust democratic sector” subject to capture so long as the significantly more robust private sector exists?

    Yes, thus the need for the ‘commanding heights’ of the economy, particularly the financial sector, to be democratically, not privately, controlled.

  65. Jack Crow permalink
    December 13, 2011

    Democratically controlled banking firms will become privately controlled banking firms, in short order, Watson. Or worse, captive organs of the state which still protect the interests of the ruling class, but which are subsequently immune from prosecution or dismantlement.

  66. Watson permalink
    December 13, 2011

    I’m not in favor of private banks. Essential sectors, such as finance, should be operated directly by the government, and perhaps by co-ops or other forms of social ownership. We used to have ‘limited dividend corporations’ in the public utilities sector. They functioned adequately.

  67. soullite permalink
    December 13, 2011

    eh, the ‘OMG SLAVERY IS INEVITABLE!!!!’ people are mostly idiots.

    You know what else was the norm in all of recorded history? The inability of a smart peasant to brew up a weapon in their basements capable of killing hundreds of people at a time. They didn’t know how to build a dozen rockets a day the way anyone with a passing knowledge of science can today, either.

    Physics and chemistry aren’t just going to disappear. There are too many ‘blacksmiths’ to cart them all back to Rome these days. Things have changed since the days of slings and swords.

  68. December 13, 2011

    All institutions are subject to capture by the powerful including the institution of having no institutions. That something can be captured isn’t really an argument against it in itself.

  69. tom johnson permalink
    December 13, 2011

    Greed. If everyone of us would pass up the opportunities to be greedy, we could solve every problem this world has today.

  70. Celsius 233 permalink
    December 13, 2011

    Morocco Bama PERMALINK
    December 13, 2011

    Re; The Lightbulb Conspiracy…
    ===========
    Thanks for that link; very interesting.
    The problem and the solution…
    Except that the insanity of consumerism is not easily/readily cured.

  71. Formerly T-Bear permalink
    December 14, 2011

    A link to a The Guardian comment post:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/dec/13/fox-news-frighten-america-conservatives

    gives a view of things to come.

    Expect a “landslide” election, those same machines that gave GWB victory in 2004 are rescheduled to inflate BO’s numbers in such a manner that statistically the inflation cannot be detected. The vote is rigged as is every institution connected with governance but the circus will be spectacular, the best that billions can buy – enjoy, you are paying for it.

    As for “progressive”, it is a term of meaningless shite. Liberal was the cardinal designation but was allowed to be drug through political/lingual mud until its utility became bedraggled and befouled beyond association. But then too have the words associated with social and community, the language itself is turned cancerous with implication derived from propaganda and marketing. The landscape is that of a carnival’s house of mirrors. Best of luck navigating through those paths.

    About the only advise that can be given is to withdraw consent, political consent, social consent and economic consent. That will mean different things to different people in different circumstances but will have one thing in common, consent to power is not given. Reconstruct the world view in a manner that allows maximum survival with least consent to or dependence upon power. The government that has to tax gardens is not a government that has a long future before it.

    To know oneself empowers. Know the difference between the real and the illusion and the delusion.

  72. Formerly T-Bear permalink
    December 14, 2011

    Hollywood already has done a version where truth outs unintentionally, the Al Jazeera has this from Jeff Sachs of ColumbiaU:

    http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/talktojazeera/2011/12/2011121074125944352.html

    where:

    Jeffrey Sachs: ‘That’s not a free market, that’s a game’
    The controversial economist talks about the collapse of the global financial system and how to end the crisis.

    This academic MOTU lays out what is going down, how to end the crisis, not so much. But worth a bookmark for future reference.

  73. Celsius 233 permalink
    December 14, 2011

    ^ Yes, I caught that a few days ago; such candor from a shock doctrine junkie/proponent.

  74. December 14, 2011

    jcapan: You’re talking about a kind of disaster eugenics. I don’t think eugenics trajectory is dead, by any means. The fantasy of a blank slate to start the re-writing of history is a p0werful.

  75. December 14, 2011

    Ian: “We cannot afford to deindustrialize that way.” I pay attention to pronouns. I remember Reagan talking about getting the govt. of “our” backs. It took me a while to realize who the “our” was?

    In your case, who is the “we?” I can imagine some sources of old power who look at a Limits to Growth problem set from the point of view of eugenics. From their point of view, “we” need a planet wide of population target of 1 billion. Next, what is a an acceptable way to deindustrialize and who gets to define what is acceptable.

    Gotta go and jack back into the matrix.

  76. Formerly T-Bear permalink
    December 15, 2011

    The oligarchs have made peaceful change impossible and the people have refused to take the few chances they had (many European countries had far left parties. Why weren’t they voted for?)

    Ask and an answer will appear: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-16185308

    Europe, as with the U.S., is off to see the wonderful Wizard of Oz, yellow brick road and all. Political charlatans playing on public gullibility are not the sole property of the Yanks. Their nests are feathered (sic “scaled”) and they fed by the disingenuousness of their ideological belief systems, austerity as means to contend with debt collapse of economy being prime example of that.

    The BBC article enumerates and illuminates the political conditions prevailing and their economic consequences about as well as possible; a good mirror to hold up so that the Yanks can see themselves as others see them, for all the good it would do.

  77. groo permalink
    December 15, 2011

    20111215 22:19
    Morocco Bama

    re ‘The light bulb conspiracy’.
    (I did not watch the video because of traffic limits, but will do later. But I know similar stories)
    I’m quite sure this is a myth.

    As an (odd sort of caring) engineer I would say that light-bulbs are a tradeoff between efficiency and lifetime/cost. It is not difficult to construct a lightbulb with 1% efficiency instead of 4% and having a lifetime of say 200 years.
    This is an important tradeoff, ofcourse. Eg availability of high-tech.
    LEDs approach a limit of 40% with extreme hightech.

    re ‘energybulletin’:
    As an EB reader for many years, I would put my hand in the fire that the moderator is a completely honest person.
    EB basically is a opinion-aggregator like commondreams or theoildrum or counterpunch.

    re JM Greer:
    JMG is a fountain of wisdom and insight, whom I admire a lot.
    It is no accident that he is listed as contributor at EB and quite often comments at theoildrum.

    In the farout left, where I see myself at home (the 0.0xx%)–not by nature but ba thinking– there is a lot of bickering about the right path, and everybody thinks, that THIS/NOW is the time to split another hair, just to prove HIS tribes’ superior consistency.

    ( being consistent is a virtue of the Left, completely irrelevant for the Right. We know that. OK?)

    This is a recipy for complete disaster, because the mythical 1% outnumbers us uncompromising hairsplitters by lets say 100:1.

    ‘We’ are only 0.0x%, AND basically powerless.

    So to devote Yourself to a case, which is lost by definition/probability, is at least something to think about.

    In the Platonian otherworld of lost cases we should at least attain a prominent place near the Triangle and the Rectangle and the more complicated figures like the Dodekaeder.

    ############
    I admire Ian and quite some commenters here a lot, but I have to pose some questions:
    1) should we surrender? Close the case? No humanity in 100years?
    2) should we compromise? To live another maybe 200years under miserable conditions?
    3) should we stick to some strict concepts, just to enter the Platonian heaven of perfection of our ideas?
    4) ??

    The ‘reality’ is harsh enough to make these options quasi-real.

  78. December 15, 2011

    A lively discussion, nice to see that pretty much everyone is here, so many points being well-addressed, I have nothing helpful to say. Except I wanted to de-lurk to greet @Morocco – delighted to see you here again.

    OK, well, there is @groo’s query about “what do we do now?” Since all of the conventional conduits of collective action are corrupted (I’d say unavoidably so, due to their hierarchical structure), my feeling is we’re going to be forced to rely on individual and local responses. My optimism is that the emergent collective might – just might – retain it’s incipient democratic character, this time ’round.

    Not to say that there might not be blood, to give a nod to the reasoned speculations expressed here. Which I fervently wish could be avoided (the blood, not the reasoned speculations :) ), but I can’t come up with any compelling reason to think that it will.

  79. groo permalink
    December 15, 2011

    Petro,

    I think we basically agree on the general condition.

    It is this hairsplitting of the left, which annoys me to no end, and which splits this ultratiny opposition into something still more tiny.

    There is not even a conspiracy necessaray.

    We kill ourselves by splitting us into atoms or Higgs Bosons of fictitional coherency.

    OWS is the lowest common denominator, and if we like it or not, hairsplitting-wise, this is the way to go.

    What we can do, is cultivate the plant.

  80. December 15, 2011

    Couldn’t have said it any better myself, my Teutonic friend.

  81. someofparts permalink
    December 15, 2011

    I can’t preview my comments here before I post them. So, I’m going to copy the link to a diary at Kos I want to share. Then, just in case it doesn’t work, I’ll provide the name of the diary. All of that will be at the bottom of this comment, after I tell you what the post is about and why I want to bring it into this conversation.

    Basically the writer who posted it says that, rather than expecting an End Times catastrophe that happens suddenly and unexpectedly (for most folks anyway), what lies ahead is an economic descent in fits and starts. And that descent, while probably wrenching, will not be to some nightmare future but rather to a localized, spare, sustainable future where the lavish prosperity we have been accustomed to is gone forever, as it needs to be.

    The writer does not sound like some starry-eyed utopian imagining a future bucolic eden. Here’s a key passage to give you a sense of the thinking -

    “I don’t see a future in which we don’t have to deal with dramatically lower wealth and standards of living. This doesn’t mean we all have to be miserable, dead or living in squalor–though I will be surprised if we get through this tumultuous next few decades without our share of chaos and suffering–but we sure as hell aren’t going to have processed foods and microwaves, TV and the internet, video games and 401k and guaranteed retirements, a country in which a tiny fraction of the population farms, massive tractors and automobiles and development strategies powered by oil, or an endless supply of cheap technological gadgets to distract us from our ever-more meaningless lives.”

    I jump up out of my chair and start pacing with anxiety when Ian says waiting three years to get out may be too long. Maybe the point is that for me and the rest of us alive in the U.S. right now, we are the ones on whom the heaviest stage of the chaos and suffering will fall.

    That said, I’m curious and interested by the contrast in what Ian foresees and the way the writer of that thoughtful diary sees things. So I’m tossing it into the conversation here to see what the rest of you think about it.

    Here’s the link – http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/12/14/1045525/-Why-I-Hiked-Neahkahnie-Mountain-Instead-of-Shutting-Down-the-Port?via=spotlight

    And in case the link didn’t work, the name of the diary is “Why I Hiked Neahkahnie Mountain Instead of Shutting Down the Port”, and the writer is Aimlessmind.

  82. Celsius 233 permalink
    December 16, 2011

    As an ex-Oregonian well familiar with Neahkahnie Mountain; I can attest to the peaceful mountain trails of the Pacific NW.
    An interesting read; but it occurs that the author’s POV is a bit skewed by their self described relative isolation. The internet is no guarantee of anything…
    Nowhere is acknowledged the poverty of a growing number of Americans, much less the world in general.
    Inner cities across the states are a potential cauldron of unrest and an almost automatic reaction of violence to injustice, perceived or otherwise.
    The collapse of infrastructure alone will bring on some form of reaction; when food delivery fails and services fail (the few left intact), it won’t be suffered peacefully, IMO.
    Humans don’t seem to act and behave in ways that truly benefit them in the long term; that seems to be a lost art.
    Lastly, geography will help some and hurt others; this makes it difficult to paint with too broad a brush.

  83. Ian Welsh permalink*
    December 16, 2011

    That’s the same view as the Archdruid Report. I think that when things go, they tend to collapse, and I have reasons for believing that is the case here.

  84. Morocco Bama permalink
    December 16, 2011

    My wife and children and I went hiking in the North Carolina mountains off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Maggie Valley this past Thanksgiving and what we saw was frightening, to say the least. The forests are dying….the trees are dying as is witnessed by the phenomenal Lichen growth enveloping the canopy. It’s so thick on the trees, you can’t see the bark…at all. It’s a death knell for the majority of the trees…..and it’s happening everywhere, as this woman has been documenting for several years now. The scientists, because they are so myopically concerned with Global Warming, and for good reason, fail to acknowledge this, or concentrate on it. Let’s face it, folks, without trees, and without plankton, which is also in severe decline, we’re dead as a species, as are many other species. Collapse can, and most likely will, come rather quickly for a myriad of reasons, this being just one of them.

    http://witsendnj.blogspot.com/

  85. someofparts permalink
    December 16, 2011

    Well, got my answers, didn’t I. Depressing, but thanks.

    Walking away from my life right now, or in the next year or two would mean being in my early sixties and having no car, minimal skills, no money and no source of income or any way to get one. There is no way in hell you Canadians would let me in. You’re really telling me that, while all of us are doomed sooner than we yet realize, some of us are more doomed than others, and I’m one of those.

    Still, I’m certain it’s better to know what’s ahead than to stay clueless, and I thank you for that. Since full escape isn’t an option for me, I guess I’ll aim for mitigation. Maybe see about getting tools/skills to keep things going if/when essential services begin to be unreliable. A small generator for power, some water filtration system to keep potable water available, a few trips to local doctors for free samples of antibiotics and other basic medicines to stockpile. For that matter, go to the doctor and dentist and get everything done now while I have insurance and money to pay for what insurance doesn’t cover.

    I keep looking for people who are the sorts who will work together as things become more difficult, but it is disheartening to report that so far I still can’t find that. Everybody I know is still in every man/woman for themselves mode.

    If leaving the country entirely isn’t an option, at least getting out of the South and making it to some place like Oregon might be a good idea. In the light of which, I notice that Morocco Bama is in North Carolina with your family. Does at least getting out of the South sound like a sensible plan to you? If not, I would be interested in hearing your reasons for staying.

    Of course, if the worst of it is that ecological disasters overtake all the rest of it, landlocked Atlanta in the elevated piedmont adjacent to the Appalachians is actually a great spot, geographically speaking. Watching the weather reports around here year in and year out is to watch the worst weather charging in from the west veer north and away from Atlanta at the bottom end of the Appalachians every time.

    Also, for something completely different, I’m including a link posted by a Facebook friend. It’s about plans currently being acted upon by FEMA to create detentions camps – lots of them in every state. There’s a map with the story blocked out by regions of the country. Haven’t see anyone else post it yet, so I will. Along with the scary info about the FEMA camps, there site also seems to have all sorts of good information about things to have around the house when breakdown of essential services begins. Just noting the list of things being planned for the camps to provide minimal essentials – water, power, sanitation – is a good do-it-yourself checklist in its own right.

    http://www.shtfplan.com/headline-news/detainment-camps-going-live-fema-seeking-subcontractors-to-provide-temporary-camp-services-in-all-50-states_12072011

    aka – http://www.shtfplan.com – Detainment Camps Going Live: FEMA Seeking Subcontractors to Provide “Temporary Camp Services” In All 50 States

  86. Morocco Bama permalink
    December 16, 2011

    someofparts, we’ve been trying to get out of the South for nearly six years now, and it’s proving extremely difficult. I don’t want to pay the IRS and/or the mortgage company $50k to $100k to get out of my house, not to mention, every place we think of going has its own set of unique problems. Yes, the Northwest has some of the cleanest air on the planet aside from inaccessible remote areas, but it also has it’s own set of issues. It’s downwind, if you can call it that, of Japan’s radioactive fall-out, and the Columbia River is about to become permantly contaminated, if it isn’t already.

    http://www.simplyinfo.org/?p=2197

  87. groo permalink
    December 16, 2011

    thanks, Petro, for the compliment.
    sometimes it’s needed from likeminded people.

    I noticed an interesting turn in the last posts here and read (not all, but hopefully got the atmosphere) this link to the dKos post, which aims at exploring the primitivist route, which is a constant option of leftist thinking.

    Rightwingers never do that. For some strange reason they sympathise with the cornucopian view, simultaneously denying the basis of all their convictions:

    Science and technology.

    These idiots actually use the same technology, which disproves them in the first place, to build up an idiot conception of the world (creationist museum etc )
    Which constitutes the ingredients of a split mind:
    Use what s&t delivers, but in a fraction of a second denying the consequences, which is exactly the same source of their luxuries.
    Righties believe, that science can be beaten to ‘right’ conclusions by authoritarian rule:
    To tame the bitch called ‘mother nature’.

    The leftist universe, so to say, is somewhat more advanced.
    It considers opposition.
    Nature bites back, eventually.

    Which again is no option to consider for rightwingers..
    Just use the whip and the bitch complies to your wishes.

    Whether this is wife, spouse, children, mother nature, who cares?
    They all have to succumb to the power of the manly man.

    The manly thing to do is: Aah: Invent technology.
    But they do it not themselves, but hire for cheap money some idiots who do the work for them.

    That there is a contradiction, they do’nt notice, because thinking is not their primary goal.
    It is the proper execution of POWER, which beats any evidence.
    POWER makes the world go round, not insight.

    The frightened ‘thinking person’ goes into retreat mode, and searches for the holy alliance with mother nature.

    The escapist route of the primitivists would well be worth pondering.
    I could go on, but simply stop here.
    The intelligent community here gets the point anyhow.
    Hopefully.

  88. Morocco Bama permalink
    December 16, 2011

    Lisa, that cartoon would be perfect if the creature were a donkephant or an elephkey. One Party….two masks….and mascots. One Master.

  89. someofparts permalink
    December 16, 2011

    groo – I’m watching certain right wing managers being contained and handled at my job right now. Okay, I confess I work for the EPA, so the culture here tends to be intelligent and progressive. Still, when I read Hannah Arendt to learn how other people who lived in countries that became fascist handled things, the way the fascist manager at my job site is being neutralized right now seems to be the way it is done outside of Scandinavia. Guess I’m saying that apparently some Americans already know how to neutralize folks like that, so I feel like being cautiously hopeful. (They also know how to coach old lefties like me so we go undetected by the meanies.)

    Morocco Bama – I walked away from a house two years ago. Nobody came after me, even the IRS. Don’t know how things stand currently, or how they are in your state or city, but I managed it deep in the heart of the South. When the crunch hit, my lender misrepresented the value of the house when it foreclosed because they didn’t want to admit to such a gaping hole in their books – the one time a bank did me some good by shading the truth. Probably not a risk you want to take with children to consider but, just sayin’ …

  90. groo permalink
    December 16, 2011

    someofparts,

    US-EPA ?
    Had some connections to Boulder NOAA and Houston NASA some time ago.

    People thinking outside the box.
    Fresh air, funded by society.

    NASA physicists performing Carl Orff in their spare time.
    Astonishing, what was possible 25 years ago, and seems impossible now.

    What maybe was missing, was a feeling for the eminent privilege to do so.
    Maybe this was an error.

    Often the science crowd seems to be unaware of what enables their privilege.

    I dont know whether this is correct, but the saying goes, that 80% of US-physicits today directly or indirectly work/are funded by the US-military.

    If this is the case, then a decision to shut down all these activities in short time is impossible .

    Society has to devour/integrate all those PTSD-damaged people, rebuild military infrastructure, change the societal mindset.

    WHICH IS, ALL IN ALL, AKIN TO THE IMPOSSIBLE.

    Apart from this deep feeling of despair, I ask for those responsible for this mess.

    Which is not ‘WE’, as the myth is trying to convince us.
    It is THEM, whoever they are.

    It is a mindset, which has been alien to ‘us’, and ‘WE’ therefore have every right to call to account those people, who created this mess in the first place.

    I dare say that those very people are psychopaths, who should rightfully locked up in some asylum of the demented.
    And they should be happy not to suffer a more brutal fate.

  91. Celsius 233 permalink
    December 16, 2011

    Some very interesting comments; the few friends I have left, who are still in the states, will not discuss the politic of America and get upset with me when I bring it up. My sister has the same reaction. The few expats here that I’m in contact with (via forums) mostly ascribe to the views of a deteriorating U.S.
    The divisiveness so evident in the house and congress is a microcosm of American society; it’s fractured, broken, kaput!
    The idea of small communities of like minded people finding a sustainable living is likely another Utopian dream. I used to think that was the answer; but no longer.
    The “every man for himself” mentality is ridiculous on it’s face; survive they may, but thrive they won’t.
    I have no idea what the solution is; there may be none…

  92. viajera permalink
    December 16, 2011

    (long-time reader delurks)

    What a great, informed conversation here. I agree, though tend a bit more towards optimism. I agree that a crash or collapse of some sort is coming, but tend to think we’ll pull out a long, declining decade or two before it comes. We shall see. I’m still making plans to get out of the country, or at least back to my PNW home and far away from the South where I’m currently living. Re: the PNW, yes the Columbia is polluted, but it’s far better than it used to be back in the 60s. Besides, there are many, many places in OR and WA that are on water sources far from the Columbia, where you can still catch salmon and steelhead and grow your own food. I’m hoping to get back there in time.

    As an ecologist myself, I also want to address Morocco Bama’s comments about the trees dying along the Blue Ridge Parkway (among many other places). Lichens aren’t actually parasitic, they’re merely epiphytes, so they’re not causing the die-offs – they’re just a symptom. But the causes of the die-off are very well-studied, and they are related, in part, to climate change. Invasive insect and fungal pests are wiping out trees across the Eastern Seaboard, including the woolly adelgid (hemlock), chestnut blight, beech bark scale, elm bark beetle, and etc. Climate change is facilitating the spread of the insects by allowing them to push further north, and also stressing the trees and weakening their resistance.

    Complicating this further is the overabundant deer problem on the eastern seaboard. Deer are so abundant that they’re eating all the seedlings before they can grow into adult trees, except for the very few species they don’t like, like beech. But once beech reaches the canopy, the beech bark scale insect comes in and kills off all the trees. So what’s happening in many places now is you’re seeing glades of solid beech growing on ~20 year cycles. Fortunately, this problem can be resolved by just hunting deer (and if/when things go bad, people will start hunting deer). Then species like oak and hickory that are not (yet) affected by any introduced pest will be able to escape and reach the canopy; plus oaks and hickories have seeds that are nutritious to people, if you know how to prepare them. So while things are dire on this front, there are actually some reasons for hope.

  93. Celsius 233 permalink
    December 17, 2011

    Though not from there; I lived in Oregon for almost 50 years. I wouldn’t consider the Pacific NW as not troubled; trees (fir and pine) are dying (take a quick trip to Mt. Hood, eastern side), salmon are in decline, the rock fish populations (red snapper, cod, etc.) are severely over fished, and growing “dead zones” in coastal ocean waters.
    The deer populations are fine as far as I know, but many elk are infected with a form of BSE, making then questionable for meat.
    My point isn’t to rag on the NW (a great place to live), but merely to point out there are no longer any refuges.

  94. December 17, 2011

    Climate change is facilitating the spread of the insects by allowing them to push further north

    I’m testament to that. I had West Nile virus this past summer.

    Tiger mosquitoes first appeared in Maryland back in 1999, and I started seeing them in our back yard (in the heart of Baltimore) in 2008. Hubby used to joke that if anyone got West Nile virus, it’d be me. Ha ha. Well, at least it didn’t turn into encephalitis. Can Dengue Fever be far behind? (Actually, no. It’s already started moving up the coast.)

  95. viajera permalink
    December 17, 2011

    @Celsius 233 – you’re right, and I didn’t mean to make it sound like the PNW was perfect and untouched. It certainly has many environmental issues as well. But if/when the time comes that we need to be self-sustainable, I’d much rather be somewhere in the Coast Range, the Willamette Valley, or somewhere nearby than here in the Deep South where I live now. At least you don’t have oil and natural gas refineries everywhere you look, as you do here.

    Or, for that matter, I might head back to Central America, where I’ve lived for several years. I was in a remote part of Nicaragua during the 2008 crash, and I had absolutely no clue what was going on. Occasionally, when I was somewhere with a TV, I’d hear news of something happening in the US, but it was so far away and so remote from our existence that we just turned it off and went back to our daily lives. It wasn’t until I moved back here in late ’09 that I started to realize just how serious the crash was. Again, there’s nowhere completely untouched in Central America (maybe in parts of South America), but it’s a lot cheaper and easier to live “off the grid” there than most places in the US.

  96. groo permalink
    December 17, 2011

    Lisa, someone here at Ian’s site said, that we are likeminded people.
    So let this bear some fruit.

    What You are saying with this tiny snippet is, that we are far out from the Darwinian evolution myth.

    WE, whoever that is, are shaping the environment we live in.
    (I just wrote a short essay to myself, just to keep me aware)

    Actually it was Lovelock, with his Gaja-hpothesis, who challenged the Darwinian hypothesis.

    Since maybe 100years ago, human Gaja, so to say, took over, and shaped the world in his image.
    It is not ‘God’ anymore, whoever that creature of ourselves maybe, but a caricature of this supreme being, which essentially ‘we’ are.
    It/He is a projection.

    So the whole world becomes like us. It is ‘OUR’ image.

    Which is not ‘OUR’, but THEM/THEIRS.

    Just to mentally survive, we have to split this dark other from our sane self.

    So the concept of the psychopath is a mental tool, whether we recognize it or not as such, to isolate the destructive tendencies in our inner selves.

    It is akin to CG Jungs ‘shadow’.

    I feel a need to express this, but feel, that I repeatedly fail.
    Chasing the shadow.

    Poor me.
    Amen.

  97. viajera permalink
    December 17, 2011

    @groo,

    Actually it was Lovelock, with his Gaja-hpothesis, who challenged the Darwinian hypothesis.

    Citation needed? Because the Gaia hypothesis is something completely different from the theory of evolution by natural selection (aka Darwin’s hypothesis), and by no means challenges or replaces it. This is like saying that Einstein’s Theory of Relativity challenges the Laws of Thermodynamics.

    Indeed, Lovelock and Margulis – the creators of the Gaia hypothesis – both explicitly accept Darwinian evolution by natural selection. Wikipedia quotes Margulis thusly: “Darwin’s grand vision was not wrong, only incomplete. In accentuating the direct competition between individuals for resources as the primary selection mechanism, Darwin (and especially his followers) created the impression that the environment was simply a static arena.”

    I agree that we are certainly shaping the environment, and agree that the current era should better be called the “Anthropocene.” But evolution by natural selection still carries on, as it always has and always will, so long as there are living organisms. Just look at viruses or antibiotic resistance, or one of the many other examples of evolution occurring all around us right now.

  98. Celsius 233 permalink
    December 17, 2011

    viajera PERMALINK
    December 17, 2011

    Or, for that matter, I might head back to Central America, where I’ve lived for several years. I was in a remote part of Nicaragua during the 2008 crash, and I had absolutely no clue what was going on.
    =======
    I’ve been out-of-country for almost 9 years. Unfortunately, even though I’m rural, I’m connected.
    I say unfortunately because it/I keeps me too informed at times.
    I agree regarding Lovelock and Margulis; Gaia Hypothesis completes Darwin’s evolution work.
    It’s such an elegant (Gaia) description of our home and its dynamic.

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