Guest Post: Joblessness, Hopelessness, And Government Dependency
Submitted by James H. Kustler of Kunstler.com,
Of all the awful tensions roiling and coiling in American society, it’s only a little bit surprising that the racial module is blowing off now rather than, say, the stock market. Perhaps it’s a seasonal thing: race riots in the summer; stock market crashes in the fall, revolutions in the spring.
Michael Brown, the 18-year-old shooting victim of a cop-stop in Ferguson, Missouri, was not the best candidate for martyrdom. But it was only after the violent protests to his killing got underway that his convenience store robbery videotape went public - despite attempts by the US Department of Justice to suppress it - and by then it was too late to stop the juggernaut of grievance. Meanwhile, the white condescension machine (The New York Times, The Huffington Post, et. al.) revved into top gear to validate the fears and resentments of the rioters.
The casual observer from Mars might have trouble finding the reality in this welter of bad feeling. A toxicology report should have accompanied the second autopsy report, and shed a little light, but apparently no one has asked for it yet — notably the leading news media. 18-year-old young men are not known for having great judgment or impulse control even when not high.
White America is tortured by black America’s failure to thrive, and all that guilt and anxiety has only gotten worse as a substantial quota of white America loses its own footing in the middle class and plunges into the rough country of joblessness, hopelessness, and government dependency. The usual remedies of even more dependency aren’t working so well for anybody. It’s politically easier for the moment, though. And both the government and the news media are frantically busy manufacturing excuses for everybody’s bad conduct.
This poor nation is faced with the tasks of completely retooling its economy in a way that it can’t bear to imagine, and of also reforming its grotesque social behavior. One might follow the other in a better world, but our prospects for the moment are not so bright. My own camp is inclined to expect an anguished collapse rather than any deliberate reformation. We’ve set ourselves up for it.
The future we don’t want to think about is an economy focused on food production at the local scale, along with the activities that support it and add value to its products, and the labor required to do all that. There’s a fair chance that we will fail altogether to ever get it running. In any case, the officially-sanctioned future that so many people are expecting - the digital wonderland economy - will not survive the energy and capital scarcities ahead.
The basic questions of race relations in America remain too painful to ask and too hard to answer. For instance, are we hard-wired to self-segregate? There certainly was a great wish that this were not so. Has it been disproven or overcome in the 60 years since Brown v. Board of Education? Do we have different standards of behavior for different races? Does that work?
The case of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, can’t inspire a whole lot of confidence about working anything out. We’re finding out that a culture of opposition produces confrontation, often just for its own sake, because there seems to be nothing better to do. Is it the opening round of broader discontent and conflict? Black America surely faces an existential crisis, but not the one imagined in the condescending news media - of somehow getting non-black America to be more just and generous. The truth is, we’ve already been through that and there is nothing left to do. We’re out of “affirmative actions” of all kinds. “Diversity” chatter didn’t make anything better. Have we completely discarded the idea of a common culture along with uniform standards of behavior? If not, we’re in for more violence and anarchy.
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