Kunstler Warns "Being In This World Actually Entitles You To Nothing"

Tyler Durden's picture

Authored by James Howard Kunstler via Kunstler.com,

The trouble, of course, is that even after the Deep State (a.k.a. “The Swamp”) succeeds in quicksanding President Trump, America will be left with itself — adrift among the cypress stumps, drained of purpose, spirit, hope, credibility, and, worst of all, a collective grasp on reality, lost in the fog of collapse.

Here’s what you need to know about what’s going on and where we’re headed.

The United States is comprehensively bankrupt. The government is broke and the citizenry is trapped under inescapable debt burdens. We are never again going to generate the kinds and volumes of “growth” associated with techno-industrial expansion. That growth came out of energy flows, mainly fossil fuels, that paid for themselves and furnished a surplus for doing other useful things. It’s over. Shale oil, for instance, doesn’t pay for itself and the companies engaged in it will eventually run out of accounting hocus-pocus for pretending that it does, and they will go out of business.

The self-evident absence of growth means the end of borrowing money at all levels. When you can’t pay back old loans, it’s unlikely that you will be able to arrange new loans. The nation could pretend to be able to borrow more, since it can supposedly “create” money (loan it into existence, print it, add keystrokes to computer records), but eventually those tricks fail, too. Either the “non-performing” loans (loans not being paid off) cause money to disappear, or the authorities “create” so much new money from thin air (money not associated with real things of value like land, food, manufactured goods) that the “money” loses its mojo as a medium of exchange (for real things), as a store of value (over time), and as a reliable index of pricing — which is to say all the functions of money.

In other words, there are two ways of going broke in this situation: money can become scarce as it disappears so that few people have any; or everybody can have plenty of money that has no value and no credibility. I mention these monetary matters because the system of finance is the unifying link between all the systems we depend on for modern life, and none of them can run without it. So that’s where the real trouble is apt to start. That’s why I write about markets and banks on this blog.

The authorities in this nation, including government, business, and academia, routinely lie about our national financial operations for a couple of reasons. One is that they know the situation is hopeless but the consequences are so awful to contemplate that resorting to accounting fraud and pretense is preferable to facing reality. Secondarily, they do it to protect their jobs and reputations — which they will lose anyway as collapse proceeds and their record of feckless dishonesty reveals itself naturally.

The underlying issue is the scale of human activity in our time. It has exceeded its limits and we have to tune back a lot of what we do. Anything organized at the giant scale is headed for failure, so it comes down to a choice between outright collapse or severe re-scaling, which you might think of as managed contraction. That goes for government programs, military adventures, corporate enterprise, education, transportation, health care, agriculture, urban design, basically everything. There is an unfortunate human inclination to not reform, revise, or re-scale familiar activities. We’ll use every kind of duct tape and baling wire we can find to keep the current systems operating, and we have, but we’re close to the point where that sort of cob-job maintenance won’t work anymore, especially where money is concerned.

Why this is so has been attributed to intrinsic human brain programming that supposedly evolved optimally for short-term planning. But obviously many people and institutions dedicate themselves to long-term thinking. So there must be a big emotional over-ride represented by the fear of letting go of what used to work that tends to disable long-term thinking. It’s hard to accept that our set-up is about to stop working - especially something as marvelous as techno-industrial society.

But that’s exactly what’s happening. If you want a chance at keeping on keeping on, you’ll have to get with reality’s program. Start by choosing a place to live that has some prospect of remaining civilized. This probably doesn’t include our big cities. But there are plenty of small cities and small towns out in America that are scaled for the resource realities of the future, waiting to be reinhabited and reactivated. A lot of these lie along the country’s inland waterways — the Ohio, Mississippi, Missouri river system, the Great Lakes, the Hudson and St. Lawrence corridors — and they also exist in regions of the country were food can be grown.

You’ll have to shift your energies into a trade or vocation that makes you useful to other people. This probably precludes jobs like developing phone apps, day-trading, and teaching gender studies. Think: carpentry, blacksmithing, basic medicine, mule-breeding, simplified small retail, and especially farming, along with the value-added activities entailed in farm production. The entire digital economy is going to fade away like a drug-induced hallucination, so beware the current narcissistic blandishments of computer technology. Keep in mind that being in this world actually entitles you to nothing.

One way or another, you’ll have to earn everything worth having, including self-respect and your next meal.

Now, just wait a little while.

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Tallest Skil's picture

You do have inalienable rights, of course. Life (which means protection of it), liberty (which means expression of it), and the pursuit of happiness (not the guarantee thereof). Leftists don’t comprehend this.

Looney's picture

 ... The entire digital economy is going to fade away like a drug-induced hallucination

It’s time to start growing and training pigeons and crows.

If/when the lights go out, we can use the birds to post on Zero Hedge.  ;-)


Stackers's picture

Moved to Memphis from Houston 8 months ago and love it.

1/10th the traffic. Much more affordable housing. Surrounded by farmland.

Just stay out of the inner city ghettos and it's a very nice place to live.

duo's picture

Section 8 spread the ghettos all over, the area, so keep a look out.

Stuck on Zero's picture

Kunstler's view of the future is very scary. It means that millennials who graduate from the state university with a degree in Sociology who now work for the government as Associate Directors of the Interdepartmental Bureau of Diversity Training won't have high paying jobs anymore.

richsob's picture

I asked a black friend years ago what he thought the people living in the Dallas ghettos would do if the shit ever really hit the fan.  He told me they will do the same thing the blacks will do in any major city: they will commandeer the busses and loads of them will ride to the nicer parts of town and have their way with things.  Burning down the shitty part of town doesn't get you much.  But raiding the nice homes will be the way to go.  By that time everybody will be armed to the teeth and even the cops and National Guard will be insufficient to control the situation.  Sorry, friend, you picked a bad place to be when the ghettos finally explode.

Wrenching Away's picture

Waaayyyyy too many dindus in Memphis for me.

Newsboy's picture

Being in this world entitles us to experience and co-create it, such as that may be...

Shemp 4 Victory's picture


If/when the lights go out, we can use the birds to post on Zero Hedge.

RFC 1149: A Standard for the Transmission of IP Datagrams on Avian Carriers

RFC 2549: IP over Avian Carriers with Quality of Service

opport.knocks's picture

I have birds who regularly "post" on my hedges and on the ivy that cools the house in summer and insulates in winter.

Tim Knight from Slope of Hope's picture

Are you suggesting that pigeons are going to start delivering us missives about how their aunts are earning $8,000 per month with their pigeon delivery service?

Crisismode's picture

While you are wasting your time using pigeons,

My company is using Eagles, and Goshawks,

and sending them out to predate and eat your pigeons,

whilst delivering their messages 12 times faster,

and earning us $144,000 per month.


Sucks don't it being the hind titty?


Akzed's picture

Google et al will find ways to censor homing pigeons.

helloimjohnnycat's picture

But, Google and the other Calif pedo-corn factories will OK Homo pigeons.

The mail will go thru with gender XX birds, or XY birds with altered gen-code.

Free sex changes for all da' Yankee XY boirds.

Yes, for Melania, Hope un-sproings eternal.

deKevelioc's picture

I'm trading my Bitcoins in for male and female mules.

willy up the creek's picture

Sorry to be nit picky, but isn't it unalienable rights?

NotApplicable's picture

Actually, it's a moot point, as there's no such thing as "rights," as they can all be taken away by force at any point.

The closest you'll ever get is the opportunity to live your life as long as you can manage it.

oldguyonBMXbike's picture

The only rights you have are those you're willing to kill for to protect.

rejected's picture

Their meaning is exactly the same but it was written unalienable in the Declaration.

Bryan's picture

Margaret Thatcher, in a TV interview for Thames TV This Week [[1]]on Feb. 5, 1976, Prime Minister Thatcher said, "...and Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They [socialists] always run out of other people's money. It's quite a characteristic of them."


How very prescient of her, and very true.  This is exactly why "our setup is about to stop working."

veritas semper vinces's picture

Her cabinet never ran out of pedophiles.

El Vaquero's picture

You have those rights until somebody stronger than you takes them away.  Never forget that. 

HRClinton's picture

The only "Rights" you have, are those that society and people around you are willing to grant, or those you can achieve by virtue of your wealth, power or influence.

All else is BS, a lie and a Disneyland fantasy.

As a great book by the same title says, "The Universe Doesn't Give A Flying Fuck About You."

Cloud9.5's picture

I'm free as a bird.  I can do anything I want.  What I am  not free of  are the consequences of my acts. Never push a man to the point he chooses to disregard those consequences.

FixItAgainTony's picture

Try government service, guaranteed "no consequences, no accountability". All courtesy the uninformed or apathetic taxpayers.

ByTheCross's picture

Rights are inalienable (or unalienable) because they're innate - the natural powers of the individual (life - to beat one's heart, to think; privacy - to exclude others from one's body, vicinity, dwelling, possessions; truth - to perceive, without another's deception/fraud; liberty - to enjoy freedom of action/movement about the environment) in equilibrium with those of one's fellows.

No doubt when it came to succinctly enumerate natural/innate rights, they opted for something that sounded nice, rather than complete.

It doesn't matter. People figure out natural rights sooner or later, equilibrium/harmony/egalitarianism, the balancing scales of justice (restoring equilibrium). And then some power hungry group comes up with the idea of government and how the masses can be persuaded that it's the best means of securing everyone's rights...

It is indeed "hard to accept that our set-up is about to stop working - especially something as marvelous as techno-industrial society."

So,  "The United States is comprehensively bankrupt", and yet it is spending spontaneously created money like there's no tomorrow.

Can you reconcile the latter with the former?

Lard Dump Not's picture

We are certainly entitled to vote for incompetent morons and worship the ground they walk on. At least we have that.

Lard Dump Not's picture

The Alt right doesn't comprehend this.

gregga777's picture

Every political parasite either is or inevitably becomes an incompetent, lying, sociopathic or psychopathic MORON once ensconced in office in the Empire of Lies. They all lie to the electorate about what they'll do once in office. They are only truthful to the monied interests that furnish their bribes in reward for doing the bidding of the Deep State Overlords.

Kunstler is wildly over optimistic about the ramifications of the Thermodynamic Oil Collapse. Petroleum is crucial to EVERYTHING in the industrial world especially regarding food production. Eventually crop yields will collapse back to pre-natural gas-derived ammonia-based fertilizer yields of no more than 20% of today's phenomenal yields. That's before taking into account going back to animal powered farm machinery. It's going to be extremely ugly especially for nations that don't or can't grow their own foods (i.e., Japan, most Middle Eastern and North African, etc.). Japan doesn't have enough arable land to produce enough food to feed just Tokyo not to mention the rest of their cities.

El Vaquero's picture

It's going to be an uphill fight, but there are some agricultural methods being developed that require minimal synthetic inputs, and that are competitive with modern ag, and can profitably maintain yields.  They can be scaled down to your back yard, or up to megafarms.  The issue with oil, if you apply some of the methods being used, are more around planting, harvesting, transport and storage.  That does not bode well for large cities, but we can make the land productive without the NPK fertilizer and the petrochemicals.  If you think that the oil flows are going to be reduced or stopped, then you should be pushing for local production of basic necessities. Then you should look into the wide, wide world of regenerative agriculture. 


As for Japan, you should look into the Edo period.  They maintained a population of something like 25-30 million over a couple of centuries without degrading their environment and without the industrial revolution.  While I don't see how they could maintain their current population without heavy industrial processes, they can maintain a bigger population than you might think. 

FixItAgainTony's picture

Cheer up, we can live off land-fills and illegal immigrants for decades.

Crusader75's picture

Old man croaking, it's been happening for centuries. Now get off my lawn!

iamerican4's picture

"fossil fuel" is a Big Oil on Murder and Arson Rockefeller/Bush/Clinton/Obama/Mueller lie.

(((James Howard Kunstler)))


oldguyonBMXbike's picture

Wrong, being in this world entitles me to everything.


That's why I'm going to kill the pedophile elite and take their shit.

shovelhead's picture

And make a quick getaway on your bike?

oldguyonBMXbike's picture

I'll fill a super yacht with loot and sail off into the sunset.

Batman11's picture

Money is a man made construct.

It might need a re-design.

The resouces are there, the productive capacity is there and the consumers are there.

Don't let a badly constructed monetary system mess it up.



Gilster's picture

Post-collapse, how do we ensure that the same familiar broken system isn't just copy & pasted? Present society has been programmed to believe that this current way of life is the only way. A collapse and reset within a few years means that there will be many who will mourn the loss of the Matrix, and will be only too happy to follow those who promise a return to the old way of life.

YourAverageJoe's picture

In thise days, blowjobs will be traded for antibiotics.

Shibboleth's picture

Blowjobs will be traded for anything. Even your wife.

BlueGreen's picture

Education and rewrite laws,  despite what is seen, most folks are easily corrected to follow the laws of a just society.  It is,actually genetic in basis.. .people are not fooled when the rewards are doled out unfairly and will simply abuse the rules for personal gain, or conversely allow greed to prevail and not give two shits about "your laws" 




Cloud9.5's picture

We run a serious risk that post collapse that some charismatic will surface to lead the remnant over a cliff.  If you see a local war lord consolidating his power, don’t get in line behind him.  Recognize him for what he is a take him out.  Would be tyrants will be within rifle range for the next fifty years.  Build your community.  Forget about conquering your neighbors.

jamesmmu's picture
George Webb Video – Sunday August 6 – Awan Brothers – Eric Braverman.


Son of Captain Nemo's picture

Nice concept. And very TRUE!

YourAverageJoe's picture

Houston just sucks.


opport.knocks's picture

Somehow I don't think Kunstler is walking his talk, but I could be wrong. Perhaps he expects to die before it happens.