Tuesday, August 2, 2011

End Times?

It's funny to hear the word compromise, bandied about the nation's media by our leaders. From one angle, I guess you could call it that. The cuts do include cuts to the military, ostensibly, but that will really only mean a cut in middle-class jobs, a further drop in economic activity. But then, many elements in the Tea Party are fine with these cuts. So really, it can't be a compromise if a small, radical faction of the government comes to the table with demands, with the threat of forcing an Empirical default, and then it's only from these demands the compromise is made. That this makes these self-described Patriots, and the GOP, and the whole Government really, appear like shill sycophants in service to a global elite, seems lost on them. I expect they will continue similar tactics straight through Dec 23, hammering holiday retail sales and otherwise scaring the hell out of markets, in the midst of what may be a new dip into economic contraction, unleashing $1.5 Trillion in new cuts to domestic programs on a desperately weakened economy.

There is a good deal about the Tea Party I admire. I like that they are focused on personal responsibility, the argument that our dependence on Government has not been entirely healthy. I believe it would be a good thing for Americans to visit for themselves the topic of responsibility, in all its manifold meaning. Of course, Tea Partiers seem not to have any sense of responsibility to the Earth, or even to anyone who doesn't look and sound more or less exactly like a Tea Partier. Which I take to mean a devotion to Christ, and support for policies that are hard on the poor and easy on the rich. I suspect they would prevent us from protecting ourselves from polluters, and financial and business predators, while they would use the government to destroy the lives of Americans who choose to put certain things into, or take certain things out of themselves. Government as an evil, except as a tool of punishing, dominating self-righteousness.

Actually, the President has been saying it - one of the things about this debate we don't seem to want to address. We are still in the hangover of our worship of these men. All through the eighties and nineties and into the new millennium, we practically genuflected at their feet, making gods of them (can anybody say Greenspan), the way money seemed to be falling from the sky. Then came the revelation of 2008, of the epic malfeasance of self-interested efficiency freaks, a long ugly recession, and the growing realization there is nothing particularly sustainable about the path we are on as a nation. And still we can't find the strength to demand a modest increase in their taxes, to help the nation climb out of debt - the nation in which they base their global corporations and banks. 'We already give so much', they seem to be saying (because they are otherwise saying nothing), though they are wealthier than any people in the history of humanity, and growing ever wealthier. (Their minions are saying if we tax the wealthiest a little more, they will take themselves and their interests overseas. But they won't. And good riddance if they do.)

At the same time, I seem to intuit in the arguments of Nobel prize winner Paul Krugman, Robert Reich and many on the Left, a willingness to borrow another few trillion on top of the deficit, many trillion over several years, to make for eighteen or twenty or twenty-five trillion in debt. I don't sense much appetite in America for that. Liberals in general seem blind to the ways in which Government has failed, facilitating a sense of entitlement in some, in Unions and Industry and Finance, at the expense of the health and well being of people and the economy. Liberals and Conservatives together, as example, seem blind to the way in which our food production system is unhealthy for the land, water, bugs, birds and people, which leads to the Health Care Industry being the healthiest sector of the economy, all of it being very lucrative for an increasingly small number of players.

Exactly who is protecting us from the 80,000+ chemicals manufactured in America?

Meanwhile, the ever increasing demand world-wide in fossil fuels, that great unspoken, and the blithe and widely held denial, that "we'll just move on to the next energy supply," as someone replied to my comment, on HuffPost - that extracting every last fossil fuel in an epic rush toward Empirical collapse is a bad idea. He finished with, "Your logic doesn't make sense." My defense of my logic and my critique of his was censored by HuffPost, though they later allowed me to point out that his argument, that fossil fuels have not been detrimental to life, was purely anthropocentric, and not even very accurate in that, our food production system being one oh-so-glaring example. (I later found that HuffPost went back and published the comment they had at first denied. In a piece by Raymond J Learsy.)

And the spectre of a Michele Bachmann Presidency. Can anyone say, "Armageddon?" One last purely manufactured drama, a self-prophesying apocalyptic nightmare worse than anyone can imagine?

My grapes have been besieged by a plague of Japanese beetles. A small, invasive, iridescent beetle, they are skeletizing the leaves, eating all the material in between the veins. All they do is eat and hump; I've found up to ten pairs coupling, on one leaf. I'm killing 50-100 a day, crushing them or dropping them into a glass of soapy water. I've seen fences covered with grape vines and Virginia creeper, almost wholly defoliated. They eat rose leaves too. A friend of mine told me he has found emerald ash borers all over his yard. They showed up in Minnesota only a year or two ago. Goodbye, ash trees. The lake I grew up on is newly infested with zebra mussels. Thanks, global capitalism. Nice legacy. (I know this flies in the face of mainstream thinking, that global economics hasn't been incredibly great for humanity, but these Japanese beetles, ash borers and zebra mussels are going to be around a lot longer than Health Care, or the middle-class, as we know it.)

My father tells me Lake Carlos is currently higher than he has ever seen it. Lake Nokomis, near where I live, is higher than it has been all year, in August, and it's been uncharacteristically high since spring. There is an excess of water everywhere in the Midwest, and on the West Coast; while it is exceedingly dry in much of the South and Southwest. 2011, from my perspective here in Minneapolis, has been respectively, the coldest winter, the coolest and cloudiest spring, and the steamiest, hottest summer, I remember. Everything is extreme. Bi-polar weather patterns? A bi-polar people? A bi-polar nation, shifting radically back and forth between ever increasing extremes?

If it's not the End Times, it sure feels like it.


Luciddreams said...

I'm sure you are aware of JMG's new book coming out in September


"Apocalypse Not: Everything you know about 2012, Nostradamus, and the Apocalypse is Wrong"

I'll be getting it as soon as it comes out because I want to see his take on this specific subject. He's been paramount to changing my mind on many issues and runs a rather contrary view to the likes of Michael Ruppert, Dimitri Orlov, and James Howard Kunstler who are pretty much all just sitting around waiting for the ball to drop any moment now.

I tend to think that JMG is the most correct, however Dimitri Orlov comes from a place of empiricism. It's all speculation but JMG has collapse of civilizations down to an art with equations on "Catabolic Collapse" and what not. I'm sure you've read "The Long Descent." I'm not very mathematically inclined so I couldn't make much sense out of his equations. I get the idea of catabolic collapse. Basically we begin canabalizing resources from the secondary economy since the main driver of collapse comes from the fact that we have already burned through all of the primary resources.

Sometimes I wonder if there's a wild card in the deck that nobody is talking about that will prolong our way of life. Yet, when you break it down to energy a clear picture begins to emerge. So the only wild card could be some type of break through in energy, but the chances of that happening are pretty much zero. Dimitri Orlov stated in a comment on a forum that New Society Publishing has been hosting


that if the U.S. were to collapse to the point where our military becomes obsolete, it would free up enough petroleum to keep the rest of the world functioning for decades to come. I think this is probably true seeing as how we use somewhere around 70% more energy per capita than the rest of the civilized world. I don't think those percentages even take into account our military expenditure of energy. Never the less, America (and England seeing as how they kicked the show off with coal) can take most of the blame. China and India may not be on the track they are on if it were not for the "American Dream."

The future is anybodies guess, but I tend to lean in your direction. It sure as hell feels like the end. I've also thought that our collective belief that the end is just around the corner may actual cause the end. This would be a spiritual matter that it seems JMG would be in touch with yet he has remained silent on the matter. Probably smart on his part. After all, he does make his money selling books.

William Hunter Duncan said...


I've been thinking I might address this issue further in the next post. I'll be eager to read JMG's new book as well. I haven't read The Long Descent, though I agree, that his outlook is likely from a scientific-materialist standpoint. But if this is in fact a divine universe, then anything is possible, including a vast range of possibilities that we simply can't even imagine.

Justin said...

Its begun to occur to me that we may have the systemic financial chicanery and fraud wrongly considered.

Economists divide their studies into three spheres; the first economy is the sum of the resources of the planet. The second economy is the labor of what we do with those resources. The third economy is what we value in the second economy; its a way for us to determine what things we value over others. Command economies are managed by fiat. Our economy is supposedly managed by fiat and a combination of financial markets.

A market purist would argue that fraud and the type of gamemanship we have right now distorts the economy and creates waste; in other words fraud means that we favor some activities in the second economy not for the benefit of society, but primarily to line someone's pocket. The assumption is that without fraud, we would have a healthy valuation of what we should be doing; i.e. rather than building a glut of shitty housing in a housing bubble, we would have done something more valuable in the long term. The waste is driven by fraud.

My hunch is that its the other way around. There is not too much left to do in the consumer capitalist model, all that is left are bubbles. Without fraud, the entire thing will collapse. The market has been saturated. I think that might be the lesson of 2008, for a brief moment, the people in power let fraud work itself out and it almost imploded the entire global system; so instead they doubled down on the bets; hence the bailouts, QEx's, and other legal and financial leeway extended to the third economy.

Taking a step back, I cannot think of a more horrifying long term prospect for our species and many others than that we find some new source of energy to keep things going, and that China successfully becomes a consumerist marketplace for mass produced vanity goods. Or that we continue propping up the third economy. And, of course, the short term consequences of collapse are too unthinkable for most people to allow or accept.

William Hunter Duncan said...


If we transition from the model of competition to one of cooperation, we can probably extend the life of humanity indefinitely. If we continue competing the way we do, all the horror people can imagine may come to pass. I maintain that the transition will be healing for people and the Earth, long term. Short term, about the only thing I don't anticipate as a possibility is some new energy source that will allow us to perpetuate the transformation of the Earth into consumer crap designed to become garbage.