James Howard Kunstler: The Dangers Of The Age Of Delusion

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Adam Taggart of Peak Prosperity,

It’s characteristic of the time that we’re living in that there simply is no sense of consequence. And that’s exactly what you get when you have a Federal Reserve that’s out of control and a public that is filled with technological narcissistic visions of Santa Claus delivering rescue remedies on demand. And so there’s no general sense that when you do things, bad things can happen

James Howard Kunstler is concerned. Sure, he still has the same issues with the West's highly energy-consuming suburban lifestyle that he famously brought to light in his books, The Long Emergency, the World Made by Hand series, and Too Much Magic. But beyond our decaying fundamentals, he's distressed by society's unwillingness to be honest with itself about the issue's it's facing.

Instead, we are embracing a narrative based in "magical thinking" (e.g., prosperity through the printing press, energy independence through domestic shale) that assures us everything is fine. That we'll be able to enter the future without having to make any changes to our manner or standards of living, despite our massive debts and depleting resources:

History is very peculiar in the sense that sometimes cultures and societies go through very strange periods of their history, and we’re in one of those now. And I characterize this as the “great period of America lying to itself.” And the way that it’s really carried out as a practical matter is that accounting fraud is now the basic mechanism for running most of the important things in American life. Accounting fraud is now the basis for banking and finance, and it’s certainly the basis for government, and certainly for its fiscal role.


So I think what you’re seeing is a kind of deformity of the consensus. And of course, the most striking feature of our current times is this inability of the country to construct a coherent story about what’s happening to us, and therefore the inability to construct a story about what we might do about it.

And the sad thing is there is much we can get busy on to address our situation. But to get started, we need to engage in an eyes-wide open assessment of our true state:

What's really happening in reality, in this moment in history, is a comprehensive contraction in economic activity, because there’s a connection between the energy inputs into an economy and a culture and your ability to accumulate wealth of the kind that we’re used to, produced by industrial activity. And that’s coming to an end, and there’s no way around it.


Now, there are plenty of things we can do. And the terminology that we use, I think, the way we deal with this – for example, using the word “growth” incessantly is, I think, very counterproductive rather than using the term “activity”. Because you can have a lot of activity of the kind that we need without necessarily having the kind of industrial growth that we’ve experienced in the past. For example, we have a tremendous amount of work to do in this country to reform and downscale and re-localize and reorganize the major activities of American life, whether it’s agriculture – which is going to have to get smaller and more local and finer and be done by more human beings than machines, and be done by more human beings than energy slaves – or commerce – which has got to be reorganized from the Wal-Mart level of twelve-thousand-mile supply lines and warehouses on wheels, depending on all of the tractor-trailer trucks running incessantly around the interstate highway system.


So that’s a huge test that faces us. We basically have to rebuild the Main Street economies – and not just in an intellectual or conceptual way, but actually in the bricks and mortar. We’ve got to go in there and refurbish our downtowns. We’ve got to change the transportation system, because the airline industry is failing and the happy motoring industry or way of life will be coming to an end, probably sooner rather than later.

Yet if we continue to cling to our magical, no-consequences narrative, Kunstler fears we will likely burrow deeper into our delusion:

It comes back to the unfortunate condition of a nation that is so frightened of the consequences of what it has been doing that it cannot really face reality, and so it just spins one story after another.


I think Jim Rickards put it pretty well the other day when he said that this kind of monetary policy exists in what he referred to as a critical state dynamic. In other words, you can’t just dial up free money and then dial down free money when you seem to be getting into an inflationary problem. The control, the toggle, just doesn’t work that way. And what happens, in fact, is that things go critical because it is a critical state dynamic.


And what’s been going on is that we’ve been trying to compensate for the lack of capital formation with this imaginary money. And by capital formation, I mean the ability to accumulate real wealth from real wealth-producing activities. And creating credit card money on a national level is not real wealth-producing activity.


I think the closer we get to this point of criticality, the more delusional we’re liable to become about it. So this is just a subset of that larger dynamic of, the more distressed the society gets, the more delusional it gets.

Click the play button below to listen to Chris' interview with James Howard Kunstler (46m:59s):

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francis_sawyer's picture

What does Billy Rosewood have to say?

The They's picture

Wow. Saying "I voted for Obama twice" is probably the best way to get me to stop taking your opinion seriously.

GeorgeHayduke's picture

Yeah, in the same way that saying I voted for W twice would, or I voted for McCain (and Palin) or Romney, or Kerry, or any of the other losers the owners have set before us as our chosen leaders the past decade or more.

Kunstler is good at what he does. He just still kind of lives in the mainstream world a little too much himself. The good side of him being a little mainstream is he has a fair understanding of the average sheople. Something many of the misfits, outcasts and paranoid folks here on ZH are lacking. And yes, I fit in with the outcast section of these bleachers.

Buckaroo Banzai's picture

Um, yeah. There's NO fucking excuse for voting for Obama twice. Didn't like Romney? OK great, then vote third party, or write in Ron Paul, or write in Bugs Bunny, or don't vote at all.

Anybody who voted for Obama twice is completely fucked in the head.

GeorgeHayduke's picture

I guess you missed the part where I mention that Jim is still in the mainstream, meaning he only see a choice between the D or the R on the ticket. Like most everyone else in the mainstream. You can get as pissed and righteous about it as you want, but that seems to be the ugly reality we must contend with.

Buckaroo Banzai's picture

"Being in the mainstream" is NOT an excuse for being a fucking retard.

It's time we called a spade a spade. Anybody who voted for Obama twice is mentally or emotionally retarded-- and maybe both. They are incompetent, and quite literally, a ward of the state.

All Risk No Reward's picture


Anyone who has voted for an establishment candidate, regardless of which alleged "party" they claim, has been bamboozled by the Human Predator Class (HPC).

History is littered with human predators...  yet the ignorati today can't see the Human Predator Class even they they are being bankrupted by their 5th grade math con game - Debt Money Tyranny.


Napolean identified the HPC class when he warned future generations...

“When a government is dependent upon bankers for money, they and not the leaders of the government control the situation, since the hand that gives is above the hand that takes. Money has no motherland; financiers are without patriotism and without decency; their sole object is gain.” ? Napoleon Bonaparte All establishment candidates ultimately report to the HPC - that's why they are establishment candidates. Everything big has to be a suspected HPC social engineering entity.
All Risk No Reward's picture

The delusion at the center of all our problems is the masses' idea that they can "know" something without doing the research required to truly know something.

This delusion allows the social engineers to social engineer people into believing all sorts of nonsense that will eventually turn out very badly for the deluded masses.

The solution is the Trivium method - grammar (data), logic (logic, identify and eliminate contradictions and fallacies) and then the ability to communicate the correct method to others so that they can have intellectual self defense against the Human Predator Class.

Until people understand this most basic of truths, nothing can be fixed.

Dr. Sandi's picture

I suspect I might have voted for Obama twice myself. And I haven't even been in a voting booth since 1978.

TruthInSunshine's picture

Diebold's records indicate that you voted for Obama well over 1,741 times, Dr. Sandi.

Spirit Of Truth's picture

Unrepentant sinners scoff at the idea that the 'wages of sin are death'.

What we're oberserving around us today is a textbook historical case:


Scoff as you will...

westboundnup's picture

Best comment of the weekend.

StychoKiller's picture

Hmm, compromise yer principles if you must, but don't come here and pretend it's "facing reality!"

Lost My Shorts's picture

I wouldn't agree that Kunstler is mainstream.  He is thoroughly eccentric, and doesn't vote third party because there is no third party of his stripe (for which he is no doubt secretly glad).  He's the type who loves to carp, complain, and condemn, but would be terrified to actually hold power himself.

Kunstler is also not a good one to serve up to the Zerohedge crowd, because he loves to heap scorn on the American South, suburbs, shale oil, etc. -- things many readers here hold dear.  Kunstler is actually somewhat in the mold of Al Gore, an aesthete and closet technocrat who thinks people with better taste and superior knowledge should tell the dumb people how to live.  Actually, he never gets so far as telling people how to live.  He just tells them they are stupid.  Over and over, week after week, first thing Monday morning.  That would definitely get backs up around ZH.

He is also a great example of the doomer personality, as well illustrated by some of his blog entries earlier in the year.  The story went like this:  JK's doctor said he had alarmingly high cholesterol, and prescribed Crestor, the most powerful statin on the market.  JK supplemented that by leaping onto a vegan diet.  Brought that cholesterol right down.  But then JK noticed that he wasn't feeling so well -- always tired, out of sorts.  He decided the Crestor and the vegan diet were at fault, so he wrote a blog post ripping the pharma industry, and torching his doctor; and he chucked it all, and described in loving detail all the eggs, bacon, and deep-fried butter he was now eating.  For the doomer, there is no such thing as moderation or the happy medium.  No option to cut down on fat and take 10mg Lipitor.  It's either vegan or deep fried butter.  The most powerful drugs or f*** pharma.  Also no such thing as society muddling through, or sinking gradually.  We are doomed, totally doomed, collapse just around the next corner, always, any day now ...

(Turns out it was all his artificial hip in the end, not the statin or diet at all.  Lots of other people had the same problem with that model of hip.)

Crisismode's picture

Over and over, week after week, first thing Monday morning.


For a guy that seemingly can't stand what Kunstler is saying, it sure seems that you can't get enough of him.



Lost My Shorts's picture

I actually did get enough, and don't read anymore.  But I never said I couldn't stand what he was saying, or that he wasn't entertaining.

I definitely do think the doomer personality is fundamentally irrational (despite considering itself to be the epitome of rationality).  But I read JK's blog on and off for a year or so because it was amusing (but always the same, so after a while, been there, read that).  Reading him was a bit like watching the late Andy Rooney of corporate media fame -- grumpy old man -- except that JK doesn't aspire to any curmudgeonly charm.  Just hauteur and pure bile.  I also was intrigued because I always loved Norman Rockwell, and it seems to me that JK is at bottom deeply nostalgic for Rockwell's America, where stout, upright citizens ride their horse-drawn sleighs to buy beans at a cute general store.  He despises and pours acid on anything that would not fit in a Rockwell painting -- fat people, tatoos, SUVs, NASCAR.  He fervently believes that the modern, ugly, hyperconnected society will collapse back into something more Rockwellian not because it actually will, but because he desperately wants it to happen.

JK is such a textbook case that he gave me the courage to ignore doomers.  He was worth reading for that.

Bitchin Bear's picture

I've read almost all of JHK's works and read his blog regularly.  I used to view him as a lib gradually seeing the light but the longer I read him the more I see this is just not the case - a leopard cannot change it's spots.  Since I am of an age with JHK some of his witticisms ring true with me, but as a native of Atlanta he surely pisses me off when he goes off on the South.  Not saying there isn't lots to change down here, and I am sure as hell getting away from ATL asap, but the South is no different from any other region in American.  There's always going to be the good and bad and his supercilious attitude drives me crazy.  Like one of the other posters said, I don't think he could last a minute in a survival situation.  He just talks a good game because he's making bucks from it all the while decrying the capitalistic system.  I grew up in the 50's and 60's and imho we won't be going back to that time - it will be an all or nothing deal - something like the 1100's and won't that be fun!

Crisismode's picture

I grew up in the 50's and 60's and imho we won't be going back to that time - it will be an all or nothing deal - something like the 1100's and won't that be fun!

If you read Kunstler's book "World Made By Hand", that feudal/medieval scenario is pretty much what he describes.


Lost My Shorts's picture

It's just fantasy.

I lived for much of the last few years in Asia, in a truly poor country where per capita income and energy consumption were about 5% of USA levels, and the population density is greater.  And it's neither medieval nor like Happy Days and the Fonz.  If you want to know what it's like, buy a ticket and go.  It will take a long time for American GDP and energy consumption to fall 95% (if they ever do), and even then, it won't be medieval.

But doomers are mostly depressed and/or bored by reality and have little interest.  The same way that much supposedly futuristic science fiction is really medieval fantasies with rockets, doomerism is really a longing for something long gone, not a rational analysis of anything.

PeeramidIdeologies's picture

Speaking of analysis I call into question the one you just put forth. Now being that you have a solid footing on the ground in Asia, and myself in North America, it shouldn't be too hard to weed out some of "doomeristic" idea's you cast aside. Obviously the biggest issue you are missing is that Asia is for the most part a developing nation. This means little to no social safety net. People are much more self sufficient. In comparison North America requires a very large social safety net. It has always been there, people don't just use it, they count on it. The small amount of adjustment we have seen to this system is already causing extremist like behaviour, and it is only just beginning.

The second issue you are overlooking is the type of economy Asia has compared to that of North America. The amount of money flow required to keep an acceptable amount of people employed in NA is huge. It is also based largely on excessive consumption. It's not hard to look around and see the difference.

And of course for the history buffs out there you underestimate the cultural differences. Violent behaviour is so prevailent in the US that is has passed beyond acceptable. Look at how many people were there to cheer on this Dorner guy. He was killing police officers over a personal vendetta.

This is just a small sample of the complex issues we will be facing as time moves forward. If you think the human race has somehow transcended the ability to be destructive towards it's self in a large capacity you sir are quite irrational.

steve from virginia's picture



"I lived for much of the last few years in Asia, in a truly poor country where per capita income and energy consumption were about 5% of USA levels, and the population density is greater.  And it's neither medieval nor like Happy Days and the Fonz.  If you want to know what it's like, buy a ticket and go.  It will take a long time for American GDP and energy consumption to fall 95% (if they ever do), and even then, it won't be medieval."


First of all, nobody knows what 'medieval' means, it's vague. Nobody knows what medieval Europe was like b/c there are no survivors. What replaces facts is propaganda by 'progress' salesmen and Hollywood. Probably the last non-modern nation was Edo-Japan which ended in 1850s. The Edo Tokugawa Japan system provided a lot of services and the country was an autarky @ a high level for a period that lasted appx 200 years.


Modernity has not treated Japan well, its current version is bankrupting the country and its 50 or so operable nuclear reactors right this second.


Second, if you watched on TV after Sandy there were a lot of people in line in NU and NY with gas cans and no gas to be had. Okay ... no gas due specifically to Sandy ... what's the diff if there is no gas b/c the people in line are broke and finance is out of business?


The difference is there is no gas permanently. Without credit, people become very poor, very fast along with energy suppliers who need to sell products for some return. Look up the collapse of the USSR for a similar example a large, powerful country bankrupted by lack of credit.


Russia recovered b/c of large petroleum reserves was able to sell to (once) credit-worthy Europeans. Now ... Europeans, Russians, Americans ... none of these are particularly credit worthy, none of them offer any real return(s).


Meanwhile, Belarus and Ukraine are impoverished countries with nothing to offer anyone.


Peak oil will 'do' a country fast: Egypt, Syria and Greece: nothing to do but get ready to bury the corpses.



Optimusprime's picture

Steve, I find your comments consistently interesting.  Often well-thought-out, and always worth considering.  A point of view that does not have much of a "herd" aspect, and forcefully stated.

spinone's picture

Good points, and let me add these.  The point that Chris Martenson and Jim Kunstler make is that  true wealth comes from turning fossil fuels into real, tangible products;  grains, iron ore, machine parts, etc.  Thats real wealth, that grows the economy (instead of printing more dollars, which doesn't grow the economy at all).  Peak oil really means that the cost to extract an additional unit of oil goes up.  We have run out of the cheap, easily extracted oil.  We have to drill the bottom of the oceal or the tar sands to get it, not drill a shallow hole in Texas. The net BTUs captured goes down.  So the amoutn of BTUs available to grow the economy goes down. 

Credit is betting on future growth.  If the BTUs to run the economy goes down from now on, there will be less growth in the future.  So peak oil is peak credit.

sgt_doom's picture

I have a simple problem with Kunstler, which I've acquired from ACTUALLY READING HIS EFFING BOOKS!

He correctly trashes the super-crooks of Wall Street, while presenting a revisionistic history of the Federal Reserve, and claiming they are really good guys and that anyone who is against them is likely to be a John Bircher!  (And don't bother any infantile arguing with me on this point, it's in his frigging book, Too Much Magic -- some poster morons who refuse to read it wish to argue this endlessly, like all those status quo-loving douchetards who want to argue the official "conspiracy theory" without ever having read those 26 volumes of crapola called the Warren Commission Report.)

W-the bloody-F?????????

The corporate "environmentalists" permeate the landscape.  Real environmental groups (Green Peace being about the only one I know of, and real enviromentalists, such as Derrick Jensen, are few and far between, instead there are just too many like McGibben (finally got arrested for the very first time in 2012, and he wants everyone to know about it, but got those corporate speaking fees, like Kunstler, for far too many years to ever be taken seriously, etc.).

Then there's the ultimate revisionist, misdirection specialist, Jeremy Rifkin --- a complete and total fraud.

It's difficult to accept the credibility of Wall Street front guys.....

Crisismode's picture

The corporate "environmentalists" permeate the landscape.  Real environmental groups (Green Peace being about the only one I know of


There now, you give yourself completely away . . . .

Greenpeace is completely subsumed by the Corporate Sponsers that they suck the teat of.

Deny it, and show your complete igonrance.


All Risk No Reward's picture

Kunstler doesn't undersdtand Debt Money Tyranny:


If Kunstler did understand it, he wouldn't play the role of useful idiot and defend the key Human Predator institution - the debt money enforcing Federal Reserve System.

Why doesn't Kunstler understand it?

Because only a few people like me talk about it.  We need people like you, and all the other readers, to talk about it.  Then it will become "cool" to talk about and even Kunstler will get such that he won't play the fool for the very people that are trying to destroy him and everyone else outside their club.

TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

sgt_doom keeps getting it wrong:

He correctly trashes the super-crooks of Wall Street, while presenting a revisionistic history of the Federal Reserve, and claiming they are really good guys and that anyone who is against them is likely to be a John Bircher!  (And don't bother any infantile arguing with me on this point, it's in his frigging book, Too Much Magic -- some poster morons who refuse to read it wish to argue this endlessly

Are you still flogging this dead horse?


All Risk No Reward's picture

Big Pharma has one mandate - maximize profits.


The research shows that only one group of people increase their lifespan from all causes of death using statins - and that is people who already have had a heart attack and are under about 50 years of age.

The rest is all marketing to the uninformed masses.

In the over 70 group, higher cholesterol is associated with longer life!

Half of all people who have a heart attack have normal cholesterol.

25% of all heart victims have no establishment accepted risk factors.

The #1 delusion that allws the Human Predator Class to destroy societies whole is the false belief that one can know something without doing the research.

That means you gather the data, you apply logic, which includes identifying and removing both contradictions and fallaciers, and the conclusion paves its own way.

The bad news is that the answer is often "I can't know for sure."  Or, worse, "I know for sure, but I *really* don't like that answer!"

False perception doesn't change reality.

The Trivium gives one a guide to properly analyze the data, or lack thereof.

Youtube "Gene Odening Trivium," search "trivium education" and "trivium binder."

Also, learn the fallacies that can be used to deceive - and need to be identified and eliminated.

Harbanger's picture

From the down votes I see that there are actually some people here that voted for Obama TWICE.  Unbelievable!  I hope they learn something from reading ZH.

GeorgeHayduke's picture

Kinda like all the folks who voted down my original post because they voted for Bush the Lesser in 2000 and 2004 and they now hate people doing the same stupid thing with Obama. Or they are stupid enouth to think all would be wonderful now if Mittens had won. Kunstler is correct, the delusion runs so deep it is beyond repair.

Harbanger's picture

Nah, your post came off as defending Obama.  Which is fine if you voted for him and you agree with his policies.  I know you say, both sides are the same, blah, blah, that's an excuse, just know what you supported.

GeorgeHayduke's picture

An assumption. I voted for Rocky Anderson. Sorry to throw your theory off.

willwork4food's picture

I live in a military town that was 70% Romney which goes to show you that money wins over intelligence no matter what rank a gov. pay class you're in. Anyone who voted for Bush or Obama twice deserves to have their car stolen, and their house broken into before the gov. decides to do it for the children.

All Risk No Reward's picture

Bush and Obama are chess pieces of the same color.

I suggest the commenter start to focus on the chess master that is running circles around your ability to comprehend what is actually going on around you.

The Chess Master is the Human Predator Debt Money Tyrant Class:


matrix2012's picture

I just don't grasp it why some folks at ZH here are still bitching over anyone who voted Obummer the Drone Master 2X? Was Romney the Loud Warmonger any better choice???

Sorry, Your HIGHNESS the HOLY PUPPETMASTERS only give the USSA citizens their handpicked TWO choices: Red vs Blue team: different style, the same ultimate objectives! And both are under AIPAC's armpit.

Why does it matter in any sense? Does it imply that Romney is a better choice?

Face the reality, the USSA citizens do not have choice... you don't have the 3rd candidate, you don't have Ron Paul or anyone else worth to vote there... you don't have any other choice there unless you all quit playing THEIR games en masse!

Here are some quick reminders of the dire situation faced by the USSA:

Low Info Voters: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qnrHd8jdtIw&feature=related

Israelis see their ownership of US government in jeopardy




booboo's picture

No shit, James is hoplessly stuck on D and Government solutions and his blog is stuffed full of cranks that believe that a good dose of national euthanasia as an answer. He his a little old to do the mental gymnastics it requires to believe that the very demoncratic goverments that created his "Long Emergency" could possibly be the first second or third responders to the crisis. Jim will happily motor off the cliff with Obama driving the gas guzzler.

Creepy Lurker's picture

Bingo. The one thing Kunstler does get right - that society and the running of it (including feeding ourselves) needs to get much more localized - is totally anathema to his big D, big government heroes. The last thing big bro wants is self sufficiency for the peons.

aerojet's picture

Which is what I don't get about the guy.  I guess we all self-contradict.  The problem I have with him is that he more or less nails the meme, but totally misinterprets both the causes and the solutions.  He seems to pine for 1950s America, and it is my duty to inform him that 1950s American just ain't a commin' back.  We live in a technological age and technology is a good thing--it is humanity's one chance at saving itself. Personally, I have a much more depressing outlook on what will happen.  He gets it--we need to reform, refactor, and downsize, but we can't and we never will be able to.  Thus, the only possible outcome is disaster.  Whether it is a nuclear holocaust or not is the only thing I'm not sure of.  I suspect it ends that way, but hey, I am an optimist and think maybe only limited nuclear exchanges.  It will still be very hard for the surivivors for a long time.  The human race will pass through another dark age from which it may never exit.  That's why we kick the can every damn day and pretend that nothing is wrong, because to live otherwise is to stare mass death and destruction right in the face.

Lore's picture

KUNTSLER IS AN ADVOCATE FOR BIG GREEN BROTHER.  It's easy to get hooked on Kuntsler's rants, because he is an amusing satirist and disarming speaker, magnifying issues and raising public awareness, but his solutions seem like groundwork for AGENDA 21.  Walk through his prescription for change, and you can find a point-by-point manifesto for the flavour of grassroots totalitarianism that seems to be the mandate of groups like ICLEI ("I.C. Lie"). 

I'm not expressing this opinion lightly.  Attend one of his snide lectures. The room brims with power-hungry "smart growth" hippies. Disregarding the genuinely funny bits, especially about incompetent building architects, you find a deep, condescending message that justifies taking control of communities and telling other people how to live.  Kuntsler is anti-freedom and anti-market, making him no better than the can-kickers he mocks.  I defy anyone to walk through each plank of Agenda 21 (CLICK HERE) and find any conflict. This is stuff of control freakdom, masked as innnocent truth-seeking and cynicism.  He may mean well, but I'm of the firm opinion that Kuntsler has been led and is leading others down the wrong road. He is in effect a minor Al Gore, having found a holier-than-thou niche in the elite-contrived "green" movement.

SWRichmond's picture

+1. The peak oilers all want us to downsize our lives, and tell us we're stupid if we don't agree. Agenda21 for the internet masses.

What we're genuinely struggling with is peak credit. Peak credit begot peak demand. Credit bubble begot demand bubble. Exponential credit growth begot exponential demand growth, energy usage growth, peak corruption and wealth-skimming, etc. All of this can be traced directly back to the central bank. ALL OF IT.

The major public perception problem with central banking is that it appears to work for awhile (decades), and when it breaks, the paradigm sticks and people can't accurately perceive just what exactly has broken.

steve from virginia's picture



Nobody likes the implications of peak oil:


"Oh My Gawd! I have to give up my car! I love my car, It's me, it's who I AM ... I love my car more than I love my gun collection(s)!"


You can keep the car AND the gun collections, in fact, guns and cars will become extremely cheap ... you'll just have to walk wherever it is these things are to collect them, you'll have to push the cheap car(s) back to your house.


Central bankers are like witch doctors or astrologers, tarot card readers or mountebanks ... they have no control over anything.



Lore's picture

Steve - You are focusing on symptoms. Re-read the reply above from SWRichmond. The trouble isn't Peak Oil or urban sprawl or suburbia.  The problem at its root is MONETARY POLICY.  Working-class Marxists are acculturated with a worldview that makes understanding difficult.  We don't need some community politburo dictating where and how to live our lives. What we need is WORKING MARKETS. Even the worst oil shock could be accommodated if we LET MARKETS WORK.  It can be okay only if governments can be educated to STAND ASIDE. Seriously, one scenario that I could see as the credit contraction unfolds is some kind of civil unrest that pits citizenry against the Green Shirts.  They just don't get it, and don't want to, and won't. They'd rather wipe us all out than give up their pursuit of CONTROL.

swmnguy's picture

Money's abstract now.  Oil, and the energy expended to get it, are not.  The most working-est of markets aren't going to be able to create what no longer there, or to make what remains feasible to extract, if only on an EROEI basis.  The notion that the Greenies are the ones making our energy dependency or our structural assumption of a neverending expansionary economy unsustainable may be comforting to some.  But the Greenies really are as irrelevant as they appear to be.  It's actually the markets that made shale oil and deep-sea drilling unfeasible at oil prices below $80/bbl.  If there were sufficient quantities of easily extractable petroleum remaining, the market would preclude such newfangled technology, as it did until very recently.

Suggesting that monetary policy is driving physical reality is, in this age of abstract finance, putting the cart very much in front of the horse.

Lore's picture

Swmnguy - Not sure I follow. On one hand, you acknowledge that the yardstick for measurement of value is broken. On the other, you talk about EROEI, presumably still in stable international Dollar terms. 

Have you ever worked at a company on the verge of bankruptcy? Vendors and collection agencies start phoning incessantly. You can't buy products for your store shelves because the supplier knows you can't pay your bills, so takes his business elsewhere. The dollar standard is being displaced overseas, new oil trading platforms are being erected and barter agreements forged because alert foreigners are aware of the imminent death of Fed scrip and prefer to get out of the way of damaging efforts to enforce and preserve it.  Sooner or latter, markets follow the path of least resistance. Our price for crude rises because we don't produce enough at home, and offshore producers want to be paid in something stable. We, along with our resident greenshirts, end up paying more for less oil using currency that is worth less.  It gets worse as foreigners dishoard their reserves, causing more rotten Fed paper to flow home.  (The Fed is trying to take up the slack, but who does that fool?) 

Geology, geography and technology and other things affect pricing, sure, and all prices rise from currency debasement, but the dominant influence by far is the action of a cartel to corner and manipulate the market, demand payment in a particular currency, and hold vast fields off limits to development.  Peaking of the chart for global production right now is primarily a matter of strategy.

Your suggestion that central bank policy does not drive physical reality seems trivially false. American 'suburbia' is collapsing in tandem with the removal of easy credit. There would be no housing bubble without low interest rates.  If modern history is a book, central banking is the binding: "Give me control of a nation's money and I care not who makes the laws" (Mayer Amschel Rothschild).

swmnguy's picture

EROEI stands for "Energy Return On Energy Invested."  It's not measured in monetary terms at all.  It has to do with how much energy it takes to get a certain amount of energy.  If we didn't have money at all, it still wouldn't make any sense to exert 1.1x energy to extract 1.0x energy.

The rest of your point is elementary, of course.  I'm saying that the money is a human invention and is famously fungible.  Energy sources are not.

SWRichmond's picture

"...wouldn't make any sense to exert 1.1x energy to extract 1.0x energy."

Except that it might.  If waste heat from one process can be used as source heat for the extraction process, then it might make perfect sense.  But you're gullible, so you are easily led into touting the EROEI bullshit that peak oilers love to tout.

Or, perhaps a less desireable but more plentiful energy source can be used to produce a more desireable (mobile) one, and the costs passed along in something resembliong a genuine free market. 

All Risk No Reward's picture

You've made a grave error.

Is debt abstract?

I didn't think so.  Nore is money - money is debt.  "Money" is a debt receipt in electronic or physical form.  Coins are debt free, but negligible.

Debt Money Tyranny is a very weapoon used by Humapn Predators to destroy entire societies...


Go ask the Greeks how "abstract" debt is as they hand their children over to the state since they can no longer care for them - due to lack of abstractness.

Oh, and right on time, the establishment is out selling infanticide so the state can murder the babies turned over to it by the impoverished masses.

After Birth Abortion - Should the Baby Live?


Killing babies no different from abortion, experts say




Lore's picture

Is it error or denial?  When reality hurts, lots of people just block it out. This is a pretty big thing to block out, though.