Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Why there is no hope, September 12th 2007 Edition

There's a man whose name you need to know: James Howard Kunstler.

Mr. Kunstler writes, and writes very clearly and articulately, about economics, architecture, suburban sprawl and some kind of liberal nonsense called "peak oil" in a blog called "Clusterfuck Nation". (That's clusterfuck as in "very bad turn of events", not as in "group sex".) From the biography on his site:

James Howard Kunstler says he wrote The Geography of Nowhere, "Because I believe a lot of people share my feelings about the tragic landscape of highway strips, parking lots, housing tracts, mega-malls, junked cities, and ravaged countryside that makes up the everyday environment where most Americans live and work.""

One of Mr. Kunstler's frequently-made points is that we are as a nation headed for what the elder George Bush once referred to as "deep doo-doo". His exquisitely no-nonsense essays on our culture, our politics and especially our economy, delivered at the rate of one every Monday, are all worthwhile reading for anyone who suspects that things are a bit different than what we see on the news and that maybe we just might not be living in the Best of All Possible Worlds®. One in particular, written just two years ago, had a significant impact upon me me, kind of like a two-by-four upside the head. It is this one. Check out this excerpt:

Americans were once a brave and forward-looking people, willing to face the facts, willing to work hard, to acknowledge the common good and contribute to it, willing to make difficult choices. We've become a nation of overfed clowns and crybabies, afraid of the truth, indifferent to the common good, hardly even a common culture, selfish, belligerent, narcissistic whiners seeking every means possible to live outside a reality-based community.

These are the consequences of a value system that puts comfort, convenience, and leisure above all other considerations. These are not enough to hold a civilization together. We've signed off on all other values since the end of World War Two. Our great victory over manifest evil half a century ago was such a triumph that we have effectively - and incrementally - excused ourselves from all other duties, obligations and responsibilities.

Which is exactly why we have come to refer to ourselves as consumers. That's what we call ourselves on TV, in the newspapers, in the legislatures. Consumers. What a degrading label for people who used to be citizens."

Is this guy on the mark, or full of beans? Why not read the rest of it, and his other essays, and see what you think?

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