Friday, July 14, 2017

Kunstler's Columns This Week

Lately, Kunstler has taken on the country's intellectual/chattering classes. To him, not only are they concerned with the wrong things, they try to narrow debate. Of course, I disagree with Kunstler's stances on gender and race relations. (He seems to think gender-variance is an example of modern decadence. But examples of such occur throughout history: Here. And Hawaii's own mahu phenomenon.) He is strongest on the importance of (cheap) energy to running modern civilization.

Kunstler: We're Good People, Really We Are!

The disgrace of America’s putative intellectual class is nearly complete as it shoves the polity further into dysfunction and toward collapse. These are the people Nassim Taleb refers to as “intellectuals-yet-idiots.” Big questions loom over this dynamic: How did the thinking class of America sink into this slough of thoughtlessness? And why – what is motivating them?

One path to understanding it can be found in this sober essay by Neal Devers, The Overton Bubble, published two years ago on — a friend turned me on to it the other day (dunno how I missed it). The title is a reference to the phenomenon known as the Overton Window. Wikipedia summarizes it:

The Overton Window, also known as the window of discourse, is the range of ideas the public will accept…. The term is derived from its originator, Joseph P. Overton (1960–2003), a former vice president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy….

Devers refines the definition:

The Overton Window is a concept in political sociology referring to the range of acceptable opinions that can be held by respectable people. “Respectable” of course means that the subject can be integrated with polite society. Respectability is a strong precondition on the ability to have open influence in the mainstream.

This raises another question: who exactly is in this corps of “respectable people” who set the parameters of acceptable thought? Primarily, the mainstream media — The New York Times, The WashPo, CNN, etc. — plus the bureaucratic functionaries of the permanent government bureaucracy, a.k.a. the Deep State, who make and execute policy, along with the universities which educate the “respectable people” (the thinking class) into the prevailing dogmas and shibboleths of the day, and finally the think tanks and foundations that pay professional “experts” to retail their ideas.


Here is an alternative list of matters [the thinking classes] are not generally concerned about or interested in:
•The energy quandary at the heart of our economic malaise.
•The enormous debt racked up to run society in the absence of affordable energy inputs.
•The dangerous interventions and manipulation in markets by unelected officials of the Federal Reserve.
•The extraordinary dysfunction of manipulated financial markets.
•The fragility of a banking system based on accounting fraud.
•The dysfunction and fragility of the American suburban living arrangement.
•The consequences of a catastrophic breakdown in the economy due to the above.
•The destruction of planetary ecology, threatening the continuation of the human race, and potentially all life.

More here.


(Note that I don't share his general pessimism.)

Kunstler: Holy Hell.

The abiding enigma of this tormented era remains: why has the thinking class of America abandoned thinking? The answer is: it’s the reaction to their own failure. Failure to do what? To produce the utopia that Gnostic liberalism promised — a perfect world based on altering human nature.

The result is an essentially religious hysteria, like the witch frenzies of Medieval Europe that were sometimes provoked by ergot poisoning — a fungus with toxic psychotropic properties that grew on the harvested rye, inducing frightful hallucinations in the villagers, who then lashed out at their perceived supernatural antagonists. Trump in our time is the ergot on the bread of our politics. And Russia is the witch.

Like other operations of the human mind, this collective fugue-state has a big subconscious module in it: the deep, poorly articulated fear that the signal notion of Progress behind progressive politics in the industrial era has reached a dead end. The world is clearly not becoming a better place, but rather reeling into disorder and ecological crisis, despite all the rational programs and politics of modern democracy, and political failure is everywhere.

More here.

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