'Red' Vs 'Blue' Are Playing "Capture The Flag" On The Deck Of The Titanic

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Howard Kunstler via Kunstler.com,

Don’t be fooled by the idiotic exertions of the Red team and the Blue team. They’re just playing a game of “Capture the Flag” on the deck of the Titanic. The ship is the techno-industrial economy. It’s going down because it has taken on too much water (debt), and the bilge pump (the oil industry) is losing its mojo.

Neither faction understands what is happening, though they each have an elaborate delusional narrative to spin in the absence of any credible plan for adapting the life of our nation to the precipitating realities. The Blues and Reds are mirrors of each other’s illusions, and rage follows when illusions die, so watch out. Both factions are ready to blow up the country before they come to terms with what is coming down.

What’s coming down is the fruit of the gross mismanagement of our society since it became clear in the 1970s that we couldn’t keep living the way we do indefinitely — that is, in a 24/7 blue-light-special demolition derby. It’s amazing what you can accomplish with accounting fraud, but in the end it is an affront to reality, and reality has a way of dealing with punks like us. Reality has a magic trick of its own: it can make the mirage of false prosperity evaporate.

That’s exactly what’s going to happen and it will happen because finance is the least grounded, most abstract, of the many systems we depend on. It runs on the sheer faith that parties can trust each other to meet obligations. When that conceit crumbles, and banks can’t trust other banks, credit relations seize up, money vanishes, and stuff stops working. You can’t get any cash out of the ATM. The trucker with a load of avocados won’t make delivery to the supermarket because he knows he won’t be paid. The avocado grower will have to watch the rest of his crop rot. The supermarket shelves empty out. And you won’t have any guacamole.

There are too many fault lines in the mighty edifice of our accounting fraud for the global banking system to keep limping along, to keep pretending it can meet its obligations. These fault lines run through the bond markets, the stock markets, the banks themselves at all levels, the government offices that pretend to regulate spending, the offices that affect to report economic data, the offices that neglect to regulate criminal misconduct, the corporate boards and C-suites, the insurance companies, the pension funds, the guarantors of mortgages, car loans, and college loans, and the ratings agencies. The pervasive accounting fraud bleeds a criminal ethic into formerly legitimate enterprises like medicine and higher education, which become mere rackets, extracting maximum profits while skimping on delivery of the goods.

All this is going to overwhelm Trump soon, and he will flounder trying to deal with a gargantuan mess. It will surely derail his wish to make America great again — a la 1962, with factories humming, and highways yet to build, and adventures in outer space, and a comforting sense of superiority over all the sad old battered empires abroad. I maintain it could get so bad so fast that Trump will be removed by a cadre of generals and intelligence officers who can’t stand to watch someone acting like Captain Queeg in the pilot house.

That itself might be salutary, since only some kind of extreme shock is likely to roust the Blue and Red factions from their trenches of dumb narrative. If the Democratic Party had put one-fiftieth of the effort it squanders on transgender bathroom privileges into policy for mitigating our tragic misinvestments in suburban sprawl, we might have gotten a head-start toward a plausible future. Instead, the Democratic Party has turned into a brats-only nursery school, with the kiddies fighting over who gets to play with the Legos. The Republican Party is Norma Desmond’s house in Sunset Boulevard, starring Donald Trump as Max the Butler, working extra-hard to keep the illusions of yesteryear going.

All of this nonsense is a distraction from the task at hand: figuring out how to live in the post techno-industrial world. That world is not going to operate the ways we’re used to. It will crush our assumptions and expectations. Lying about everything won’t be an option. We won’t have the extra resources to cover up our dishonesty. Our money better be sound or it will be laughed at, and then you’ll starve or freeze to death. You’d better hope the rule of law endures and work on keeping it alive where you live. And nobody will get special brownie points for the glory of sexual confusion.

I look for the financial fireworks to start around March – April, as the irresolvable debt ceiling debate in congress grinds into a bitter stalemate, and it becomes obvious that there will be no voucher for the great infrastructure spending orgy that Trump’s MAGA is based on. Elections in France and the Netherlands have the potential to shake apart the European Union, and with that the footing of European banks. Pretty soon, everybody in all parties and factions will be asking: “Where did the glittering promises of Modernity go…?” As we slip-side into the first stages of a world made by hand.

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cossack55's picture

Bottom line up-front........grow your own avacados

Escrava Isaura's picture

Neither faction understands what is happening, though they each have an elaborate delusional narrative to spin …….The Blues and Reds are mirrors of each other’s illusions……….Both factions can’t come to terms with what is coming down.

Ouch, but so true.

However, don’t see the crash with oil around $50. When oil goes over $100 we’ll have a crash in matter of few months, if not in weeks.

xythras, you should stop placing links without content. I understand that you trying to sell your pie, but still.



FreeShitter's picture

Been saying this for years......Since JFK they have been one team: The petrodollar team. Its all about dem FRN's.

aaarealdeal's picture

OK, guys & gals...the cuntlster says March-April



Let the games BEGIN  /s

cossack55's picture

He meant Mar-Apr 2008.  My popcorn is stale and the Guiness is long gone.

Pure Evil's picture


The worlds coming to an end in March when the yellow haired witch raises short term interest rates a quarter point.

As George Takei is fond of saying, "Oh my"

RibbitFreedom's picture

So true!

Great read.

This FARCE is making me dizzy, let's get to the good stuff already. Tired of living in a fake world.

Pure Evil's picture

It's all fake, a product of your imagination.

The real world is when a lion crushes your skull out on the Serengeti or an alligator clamps onto your leg and drags you under the water at the local golf course in Florida. Or,  you find yourself plummeting 15 stories down because you know to much.

shizzledizzle's picture

No no no.... Yellen and Co. are the bilge pump amd believe me, they can PUMP!

wisehiney's picture

Systemic collapse will scour the pan down to new iron.


The Economic Hegelian Death Spiral will not stop until all the banks in the Western Empire are completely gutted financially, and literally. I fully agree with the Zero Sum End Game hypothesized in the article. Once again Kunstler nails it nicely with style.



Dollar_Store_Confucius's picture

The guns come out when the guacamole runs dry god damn it.

Pure Evil's picture

Guns won't save you if there's nothing to eat unless of course you like the taste of human flesh.

Rubicon727's picture

"The guns come out when the guacamole runs dry, god damn it."

You'd think so wouldn't you? Except the US has the hegemonic currency and there's plenty of office crew who regularly manipulate ALL Western Markets.

*IF* Le Pen, Wilders and Brexit wins, all bets off for the EU - meaning Germany. If that system blows up then there's a chance the US system might be heavily damaged........until the next day with market manipulations remaining en force.

Dollar_Store_Confucius's picture

Give me LePen, Geert, and Brexit and I will never need guacamole again. (maybe) :)

Paul Morphy's picture

One of the best articles I've read on ZH.


March/April 2017 timeline is interesting.

Stan Smith's picture

I've always felt this way, at least since I've been out of school and working for a living.   I've lived on both coasts, and currently reside in the Midwest.  

It's frighting/comical/horrifying/laughable that peoples instinctive reaction to anything bad is to blame someone else.   In most cases "the other side".    That's not always wrong by the way.    But most of the time,  all it really does is distract from the bigger picture.

To me that's simply distraction though.   I've seen enough from a professional standpoint that the number of folks who "dip in" in MOST financial and Real Estate issues -- myself included I might add -- is staggering.    Especially when it comes to how many palms need to be greased in government simply to get anything but small transactions done.    Medium or Large deals?  For get about it.    And that doesnt even count the costs on the "private" end.   

I had a sense of that going in,  but as the years of gone on, its gotten worse, and without question adds to the cost of doing most financial and real property deals, which directly or indirectly makes it well more expensive than required most of the time. Much of which is likely unnecessary.

I dont pretend to have answers.   The last time the herd was culled in the 06-09 years,  a lot of pretenders (and some legit producers) were wiped out.   Some have comeback,  but certainly not all.  Thats probably okay.  I'll be curious to see how the next one goes.  


Dickweed Wang's picture

I've seen enough from a professional standpoint that the number of folks who "dip in" in MOST financial and Real Estate issues -- myself included I might add -- is staggering.    Especially when it comes to how many palms need to be greased in government simply to get anything but small transactions done.    Medium or Large deals?  For get about it.



What you are describing is how things operate in a third world shithole country.  Welcome to the New America!

malek's picture

"It will surely derail his wish to make America great again — a la 1962, with factories humming, and highways yet to build, and adventures in outer space, and a comforting sense of superiority over all the sad old battered empires abroad."

Surely you can provide a link to where Trump promised a return to times a la 1962?
Or was it just typical Kunstler conjecture.

Pure Evil's picture

He's just trying to sound hip but it came out as 'hipster doofus' instead.

The time frame we're looking for is the Eisenhower administration.

'62 is the start of Camelot, the sexual revolution, the LSD enlightenment, and all the other mishmash that came with the sixties including the Vietnam War.

Trump has a better chance to turn it around. Our other choice was the wicked witch from Arkansas.

venturen's picture

The brown clown sealed the deal! NOT ONE PERSON went to jail after the worst financial crime in history! Next time line them up ad shoot them!

Winston Churchill's picture

Without fraud there is no financial system anymore.

silverer's picture

Lusitania. Let's try that one for awhile. The poor Titanic has been sunk too many times on ZH. lol

quasi_verbatim's picture

The gun-running ship that sailed despite warning from the German High Command and just grazed a torpedo?

Titanic was a more innocent age.

Sonny Brakes's picture

You don't have time for my illusions.

silverer's picture

Yeah. Put that in line.

mtanimal's picture

Man, there goes Howard bringing me down again.

Anyone who can do the math knows we've been fucked for a very long time.  Still, I feel good that it won't be the commie deviant spawn of Alinksy that will continue skimming off the top and eating cheese pizzas in the lifeboats as the ship sinks.  And I don't have to see her fucking hideous witch face as often on the web.

(I'm not sure those of us who haven't started growing avocadoes have enough time to bring them to fruition - takes like 5 years doesn't it?)

Hapa's picture

yep, here in the sub-tropics, it's around five years till the first good harvest, similar for mangoes.  Yum Yum, got me some.

Crusader75's picture

Bragging to online strangers = loser.

Paul Morphy's picture

Rarely has being indebted been as cheap as it is these days.

Bank interest rate and bond yields have never been lower than they have been in recent times.

At some point, both interest raes and yields have to rise - and given the debt and the additional debt incurred - when they rise the pyre of debt will take everything and everyone with them.

WTFUD's picture

30 years of hurt, never stopped me dreaming . . .

quasi_verbatim's picture

Never Armageddon today, always Armageddon tomorrow.


slammin_dude's picture

Oh look....self-chosenite tribesman Cunstler telegraphing a militarymcoup against Trump....swear thats all these withered senile libtards have left...

Hate to break it to cupcake but there are PLENTY of resources left....there aint no peak oil blah...blah...

Sonny Brakes's picture

Hitting back at critics, then U.S. president George H.W. Bush famously declared: “The American way of life is not up for negotiations. Period.”

1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro

rahrog's picture

"You can deny reality, but you cannot deny the consequences of denying reality." - Ayn Rand


WTFUD's picture

If Trump's got Any Chance then he'll have to FREEZE the Clinton's recent Bank Transfers. Arrest, Interrogate them and Draft a List of their fellow Co-conspirators- Undesirable's for treatment. Mind you some of the Banker's in his Cabinet will fall on the sword but who cares.

Ok this won't happen so the No.2 joker-card should be to Bomb Iran. s/c

OrangeyTheAssHat's picture
OrangeyTheAssHat (not verified) Feb 13, 2017 5:24 PM

It is just that the reds have not figured out they are going down with the ship too. 

Father ¢hristmas's picture

All these goddamned links in the comments section that ain't got jack shit to do with the story.  Gone with that shit.


In other news, it ain't red or blue, it's right or left.

And when a righty or lefty doesn't pass the smell test, you call his ass out then torpedo em.

Red or blue is what makes a fool sit up and hear a bunch of shit that is ideologically diametrically opposed to the right or left political theory, and tolerate or even propagate it in the hopes of winning or maintaining.

Next thing you know, you're surrounded by a buncha Jeb Bushes and John McCains.

Tiwin's picture

It aint right or left. It aint red or blue.....

Its freedom or Tyranny, and every name mentioned Bush McCain , Hildebeast Obama , including mr Trump is on the Tyranny team

No one who is for liberty would support the State taking your assets at the roadside without benefit of trial, No One.

American Gorbachev's picture

in more words,

'tis Statists versus Libertarians (classic 'Liberals' circa 1800 give or take a century)

Centralization versus Locality

People who want to be left the hell alone to pursue their lives in liberty and happiness without screwing over someone else to get, as others do same


the people who want the power of the state behind them so that they may tell you how you have to behave (and what you have to pay for) in minute detail (all for the good of themselves and the STATE)

Jews created the virus, but the Calvinist WASP Yankees adopted and improved it when they saw the potential of the new world and got control of it

Mohammed went even further but nobody cared until 1940

Salman Rushdie is still a fugitive because he wrote a book critical of Islam (it's main criticism was "there are too many rules")

seems to me that that applies to every institutionalized power of the last half-millenia, as Smedley Butler observed of the military, also true of every fiefdom since (healthcare, education, "markets" etc. ... once they achieve 'top of the heap' status, they busy themselves knocking down all the ladders, i.e. "A RACKET")


Razor Burn'd Capitalist's picture

Up Voted the Salaman Rushdie shout out.....

I'd argue the Vatacin put the "jews" in motion then as you say the wasp yanks ran it up and down the stripper pole on the backs of any one brown.....Kingdom of Hawaii comes to mind as best example of out and out exhibit A.


Karma's a bitch and the Pope's her pimp

American Gorbachev's picture

yes, i did skip a step

i'd argue the Popes caught the virus from the Jews, then Gutenberg's cannon launched Martin Luther into the stratosphere

(especially in the New World)

Lord Acton was far more correct than i'd bet he ever imagined (Power Corrupts)

just a little bit of power and people's inner Charles I, George III, Hamilton, Hitler, Stalin, Mao comes out ('cept for a wise few)

BigFatUglyBubble's picture

It's going to be belt tightening-tastic.  I'm not sure The President knows what that is.