James Howard Kunstler: It's Too Late for Solutions

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Chris Martenson of Peak Prosperity,

Author and social critic James Howard Kunstler has been one of the earliest, most direct, and most articulate voices to warn of the consequences -- economic and otherwise -- of modern society's profligate wasting of the resources that underlie its growth.

In his new book Too Much Magic [7], Jim attacks the wishful thinking dominant today that with a little more growth, a little more energy, a little more technology -- a little more magic -- we'll somehow sail past our current tribulations without having to change our behavior.

Such self-delusion is particularly dangerous because it is preventing us from taking intelligent, constructive action at the national level when the clock is fast ticking out of our favor. In fact, Jim claims we are past the state where solutions are possible - instead, we need a response plan to help us best brace for the impact of the coming consequences. And we need it fast.

[We now live in] this weird, peculiar period in American history when the delusional thinking has risen to astronomical levels -- predictably, really -- in response to the stress levels that our society feels. And it is expressing itself as sort of "waiting for Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy" to deliver a set of rescue remedies to us so that we can continue running Wal-Mart, Walt Disney World, Suburbia, the U.S. Army, and the Interstate Highway System by other means. That is the great wish out there. It is kind of understandable because that is the stuff that we have, and people tend to defend the stuff that they have in any given society and the systems and platforms that they run on.  But it is probably a form of collective behavior that is not really going to benefit us very much and really amounts to simply wasting our time, and wasting our dwindling resources, and even our spiritual resources when we could be doing things that are a lot more intelligent.


Here is something I have detected as I travel around the country: there is a clamor for “solutions”. Everywhere I go people say "Don't be a doomer, give us solutions." And I discovered that the subtext to all that is they really want solutions for allowing them to keep on living exactly the way they are living now. To keep on running Wal-mart, and keep on running suburbia, and keep on running the highway system, and the whole kit of parts. And what that really means is, that they are looking for ways to add on additional complexity to a society that is already suffering from too much complexity.


So I am trying to propose something a little different. Rather than so-called solutions, I am proposing that we use the term "intelligent responses", which is not so grandiose. It does not come with a whole grab bag of promises that life is actually going to work out exactly the way you wish. A lot of the intelligent responses that we could be making to our predicament would have a lot to do with decomplexifying and with simplifying. But we do not want to do that; we just want to add more complexity, and that is what some of the wishful thinking and vanities about technology are all about.


We are discovering more and more is that the world is comprehensively broke in every sphere, and in every dimension and in every way. The governments in every level are all broke, the households are going broke, the banks are insolvent, the money really is not there. And the pretense that the money is there has been kept going simply with accounting fraud. And accounting fraud really accounts for most of the so-called "innovation" that we chatter incessantly about – this is at the heart of Too Much Magic [7] and the wishful thinking about technology. We are so intoxicated with this idea that we can create new and wonderful things. And we have absolutely no sense that the new and wonderful things that we created in the money system are destroying the money system.


One of the lessons that used to be at the center of a liberal education, and no longer is, is that life is tragic. And by that I do not mean that happy endings are impossible or that bad outcomes are guaranteed. What I mean is that there are consequences to the things that you do and that everything has a beginning and a middle and an end. And we have to get real with those.


It seems to me that the whole capital issue is going to accelerate hugely over the summer. I really do not see how the Europeans can get out of the box they are in – it really does not look like they are going to be able to form a European fiscal union. And it really does not look like the Germans are going to be willing to print money into a hyperinflation. And so I think that the disappearance of money is going to accelerate, and it is going to be all getting sucked into a black hole over the next six months. And that is going to be the beginning of a broad-based social awareness of the nature of this problem.

Click the play button below to listen to Chris' interview with James Kunstler (41m:10s):



Click here to access the transcript.

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woolybear1's picture

this guy has no clue, makes a living trying to scare the serfs


veyron's picture

There are many bearish permaclowns, though not as many as hopium addicted permadouches.

brewing's picture

his weekly blog says it all - "clusterfuck nation"...

I think I need to buy a gun's picture

I hope this doesn't mean they are going to cancel my home and garden television,,,,i particuliary enjoy my yard goes disney show

ZerOhead's picture

"And so I think that the disappearance of money is going to accelerate, and it is going to be all getting sucked into a black hole over the next six months. And that is going to be the beginning of a broad-based social awareness of the nature of this problem."


And the masses no doubt will blame... Iran. 

(Especially since the internet will likely be down for a spell... )

Doña K's picture

I particularly like the new reality TV "Beverly Hills nannies"

SWRichmond's picture

Poor Martenson can't get through the first minute of the thing without going off about peak oil. 

ndotken's picture

Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy will all show up before we get a so-called "intelligent response" from Washington.

sgorem's picture

a little humor, (albeit crude), are we talking about Oprah or Michelle?

The Big Ching-aso's picture



Broad-based social awareness in this country means what's her name who's doing the real naughty pole dance?

Reptil's picture

no they'll blame "evil socialism" or "nasty prepper terrorists". much closer to home, and dividing the populace. confusion during breakdown. perfect.

CrashisOptimistic's picture

You guys don't understand.  He is an absurd optimist:


The wishful thinking dominant today is that "with a little more growth, a little more energy, a little more technology -- a little more magic -- we'll somehow sail past our current tribulations without having to change our behavior.


That statement implies that he believes a fix is possible with changed behavior.  It's absurd.

Tell the yeast that all will be well if they just stop eating.

DoChenRollingBearing's picture

Correct.  The system cannot be saved.

The best we can do is to prepare.  As individuals.


Got gold?  Got food & water?  Got guns & ammo to protect yourself and your family?  Best get started...  Now.

FEDbuster's picture

"Got gold?  Got food & water?  Got guns & ammo to protect yourself and your family?  Best get started...  Now."

I would reverse the order of your suggested preps.  If readers here haven't taken that advice yet, there is no use warning them now.  You have either figured out how this ends (maybe not when), or you haven't.   I hope "they" can kick the can till after the election, gives me a few more months to take care of some final preps. 

The bigger they are, the harder they fall. 

HungrySeagull's picture

"Don't be a Doomer" is the attitude that will not work fothe majority of people.

I am a Doomer and have spent time to get ready. I consider it moderately successful after realizing you cannot get ready for everything.

Now I suspect the Government is getting ready to provide and inject the Population with mandatory versed in the morning and Demerol at nighttime.

FEDbuster's picture

We are way past worrying about the unprepared and what other family and friends think.   This is about trying to survive.   Self-sufficiency is the goal, but boy it's a lot harder than anyone thinks.  I am getting to know and buying food (eggs, chicken, veggies, etc...) from local sources now, so they know me after the SHTF.  I just hope the grid stays up, no electric and everything goes FUBAR.   Trying to prep for grid down, is a whole different ball game.

Founders Keeper's picture

[We are way past worrying about the unprepared and what other family and friends think.]---FEDbuster 

I agree FEDbuster.  For those whom I have tried repeatedly to teach and warn of the unfolding Depression(or worse), their minds are absolutely impenetrable. 

(Yes, I bought extra food and water for them.)

So certain are they that I am wrong, if the economic downturn unfolds as a spectacularly sudden event, they would not credit me with the foresight, research, and reasoning that foretold the eventuality.  They will instead blame some innocuous trigger event as the real cause.  Which is of course the hope of the TBTF---must not allow a panicking public to know the real causes of the public's impoverished misery.

God Bless.  And thank you for your posts.



The Big Ching-aso's picture



Fighting off zombies 24/7 seems like one helluva reward 4 being so well-prepared.   Maybe actually being a zombie is the better way 2 go?

Citxmech's picture

Trying to spec an off-grid solar system is illuminating regarding how much benefit we get from subsidized power distribution. 

bankruptcylawyer's picture

those who prepare in groups , are far better off. 

The Big Ching-aso's picture



You obviously haven't met my mother-in-law.

FreedomGuy's picture

I do not think the system can be saved but "we" can be saved and can build something better. I do believe the system is too far gone and will destroy itself.

Try talking Social Security reform or anything but more free healthcare or other free stuff with your parents or grandparents and see how that goes.  You will feel the doom as they outvote anyone else.

Caviar Emptor's picture

There will be morphing. Many think that we can all go home to kansas again if we just say "OK, we learned our lesson. We won't do it again too soon". But you can never go home again. 

HungrySeagull's picture

That is gone forever.

Yes you can travel back to your stomping grounds, only to realize that a different People and Culture inhabits it now.

CrockettAlmanac.com's picture


The wishful thinking dominant today is that "with a little more growth, a little more energy, a little more technology -- a little more magic -- we'll somehow sail past our current tribulations without having to change our behavior.


That statement implies that he believes a fix is possible with changed behavior.  It's absurd.


He's describing "magic" as an aspect of wishful thinking undertaken by others which is bound to fail. It is not a position which he ascribes to himself. How did you manage to misunderstand such a simple statement?

Freddie's picture

Idiots who watch TV enable and empower the elites.  Keep watching sheep.  Your viewership and monthly cablet/sat TV bills and support of Hollywood keep The Matrix and SkyNet in control.

zhandax's picture

I turn on the TV at least once a week whether I watch it or not; just to burn off the dust until football season.

lakecity55's picture

Pretend, for now, that you are a sheep.

Coast Watcher's picture

No, that isn't what the statement implies. In fact, he believes exactly the opposite. Reading comprehension problem, perhaps?

Dr. Sandi's picture

Damn. I wish I could determine exactly what somebody believes by reading a few paragraphs of their writing.

You can't generally do that with what I write, though. Because I'm a fictional character to start with.

Errol's picture

Crash, you are correct...I have read JHK's two novels set in the future, and they are indeed VERY optimistic (although most people consider them to be dystopian).

I'll say the same for the movie "Hunger Games": reviewers called it "dystopian"; I didn't have the heart to tell them it's actually wildly optimistic...

Things that go bump's picture

He is certainly optimistic if he thinks government is going to willingly make or accept any change that would involve giving up one iota of its power over its citizens or its hegemony.  The drive here is visibly to acquire more and more power, control more and more of our substance and gather it into fewer and fewer hands. I believe the government will kill us all before it will let us go.   

Freddie's picture

The union govt thug zombies in the USA and Europe want all their benefits including illiterate public school "teachers."

Lester's picture

It is Kuntsler that is clusterfucked.

Fucking guy is in his own demented world; unable to see the energy manipulations, unable to grasp that the world is "out of money" because the weasel-fucks at the top conspired to steal it all and did so very nicely.

There is no real modality to trust to gauge the energy situation worldwide.  The so-called world indebtedness was manufactured and siphoned off by the blow-buddies all the way to the bailouts, then the mega-pigs got the bailout money and robbed US another time.

If Kuntsler had any brains he would see the collapse has been intentionally engineered and everything that could be done to make a USA or global renewal possible has been stolen or sabotaged.

The plan is to kill as much of the population in global war and asshole-Kuntsler hasn't a clue what is coming.  He is just another anoying liberal-fuck who thinks the right/left paradigm isn't contrived, and his naivete will cost any family he's responsible for their lives.


Not gonna be a "solution".  TPTB have killed-off or bribed all the solution-guys.  They intend the great-culling to happen for real; or haven't you been paying attention to all the really-rich fuckheads who plan to have their world populated by about 250 million humans at most; and they ain't including us into their new demographic....

lakecity55's picture

The Georgia Guidestones were not built and paid for because some guy was too lazy to head to Vegas to blow some serious money.

TPTB created the Matrix.

We are insects to these monstrous people. Read the inscriptions on the Stones. They put in in every language. They were very clear.

Get Ready to Rumble.


Lester gets an up arrow.

I would practice me some archery. UN soldiers can't hear an arrow. Then you steal their stuff.

Carry on.

no life's picture

Which moron is worse?

Vooter's picture

LOL...which part of what he wrote is wrong?

Peter Pan's picture

This guy has hit the nail on the head as well as the fingers that are holding it. On a technological level man is now doing more with less, whereas as a society we are now doing less with more, hence the growth of government has outpaced the growth of the productive sector which in turn creates deficits which in turn creates enduring debts.

If we don't adopt the attitude of expecting a bang from every buck that is spent by all of us, we will continue wasteful expenditures at all levels until there is no more available.

Bob's picture

One word:


Odd that the finance community gives it so little attention.

It's their guy behind the curtain.

ItsDanger's picture

Yes, totally agree on your pt, good luck trying to reverse that though.

Kayman's picture


So... reach deep in that Happy Sack of yours and give us the clue(s) you are hiding.

Michael's picture

I used to scare people shitless with my complete and total economic collapse prognostication, while cheer leading the dot-com bubble and housing bubble growth using reverse psychology and warning at the same time. Only a total worldwide reset is going to fix what is wrong with America. Now people more articulate and eloquent than I are trumpeting the gory details for all to hear. I told you so and now everyone is jumping on the band wagon telling everyone so, as they should.

cranky-old-geezer's picture



Only a total worldwide reset is going to fix what is wrong with America.

This "reset" you speak of would have to remove all the bankers and their political puppets from power. 

It ain't gonna happen.

America is finshed.  All that's left is the looting.

Doña K's picture

How Amerika and the bankers are going to survive with only the gov workers, the lame and the freeloaders remaining?

Free spirits, free thinkers and freedom lovers will find a way to escape, if not physically, perhaps spiritually and resoursefully. This battle against bankers must be won once and for all. For us and for generations to come. let's start pooling cooperative banks owned by the people for the people by pooling money and creating new lending institutions to responsible people. Create insurance funds by again pooling money. Create hospitals by pooling money and hiring doctors. Eliminate the middle men.

It can be done. I know that the gov will attempt to legislate this type of business out of existence but this battle can be won also.

Offthebeach's picture

Please, it's not "looting ". It's income redistribution. As in, "Everyone get your hands up, this is a income redistribution! Move and you will be shot!"

HungrySeagull's picture

It's going to take a war. A war that consumes all.

Wolf-Avatar's picture

Very true, Michael , but now that it's 'economists' saying it ... it must be real. The same economists who have been getting it consistently wrong until they started listening to the people that they were saying were consistently wrong.  


Go figure!