by James Howard Kunstler - Clusterfuck Nation
Theory du jour: the new Star Wars movie is sucking in whatever meager disposable lucre remains among the economically-flayed mid-to-lower orders of America. In fact, I propose a new index showing an inverse relationship between Star Wars box office receipts and soundness of the financial commonweal. In other words, Star Wars is all that remains of the US economy outside of the obscure workings of Wall Street — and that heretofore magical realm is not looking too rosy either in this season of the Great Rate Hike after puking up 623 points of the DJIA last Thursday and Friday.
Here I confess: for thirty years I have hated those stupid space movies, as much for their badly-written scripts (all mumbo-jumbo exposition of nonsensical story-lines between explosions) as for the degenerate techno-narcissism they promote in a society literally dying from the diminishing returns and unintended consequences of technology.
It adds up to an ominous Yuletide. Turns out that the vehicle the Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee was driving in its game of “chicken” with oncoming reality was a hearse. The occupants are ghosts, but don’t know it. A lot of commentators around the web think that the Fed “pulled the trigger” on interest rates to save its credibility. Uh, wrong. They had already lost their credibility. What remains is for these ghosts to helplessly watch over the awesome workout, which has obviously been underway for quite a while in the crash of commodity prices (and whole national economies — e.g. Brazil, Canada, Australia), the janky regions of the bond markets, the related death of the shale oil industry, and the imploding hedge fund scene.
As it were, all credit these days looks shopworn and threadbare, as if the capital markets had by stealth turned into a swap meet of previously-owned optimism. Who believes in anything these days besides the allure of fraud? Capital is supposedly plentiful these days — look how much has rushed into the dollar from the nervous former go-go nations with their wobbling ziggurats of bad loans and surfeit of production capacity — but what actually constitutes that capital? Answer: the dwindling faith anyone will pay you back next Tuesday for a hamburger today.
We now enter the “discovery” phase of financial collapse, where things labeled “capital” and “credit” turn out to be mere holograms. Fed Chair Janet Yellen herself had a sort of hologramatic look last Wednesday when she stepped onto her Delphic platform to reveal the long-heralded interest rate news. Perhaps Mrs. Yellen is a figment conjured by George Lucas’s Industrial Light & Magic shop (now owned by Disney). What could be more fitting in a smoke-and-mirrors culture? Anyway, the rude discovery that capital is not what it has appeared to be is now underway, with the power to derail political systems and societies.
Is there anyone who thinks the Presidential election campaign is not completely deranged? Well, it is the analog for America’s deranged financial polity. The graceless Mr. Trump necessarily reflects the just grievances of the great public wad, but has anyone noticed that he is incapable of stringing together two coherent thoughts? I suppose one thought at a time — or maybe a percentage of one thought — is enough to satisfy the sputtering masses, faced as they are by the arrant theft of both their patrimony and their future. But it adds up to something like flying blind through a shitstorm with your pilot in the throes of cerebral infarction. I don’t want to be on that plane.
Then there’s the giant flying reptile known simply as Hillary. She will blow up the sad and noisome remains of the Democratic party and then she will preside over the blow-up of the USA as an advanced techno-industrial society. That final outcome may be inevitable one way or another, but the journey there need not be so harsh. America needs a vision of something other than itself as a permanent demolition derby, which, by the way, will not be “solved” by pushing everyone into a Tesla instead of a Ford F-150.
It’s not just the Federal Reserve; everything around us is backed into a corner. Come January, when the dazzle of Star Wars fades away, you will hear instead through the long dark nights a howl of raging animals. Merry Christmas to all.
Herewith, the CFN Christmas present to readers:
An excerpt from World Made By Hand 4 (and final)
The Harrows of Spring
(Note: uncorrected manuscript)
Coming in 2016
World Made By Hand 4 (and final)
and in production for May 2016 publication)
“Kunstler skewers everything from kitsch to greed, prejudice, bloodshed, and brainwashing in this wily, funny, rip-roaring, and profoundly provocative page- turner, leaving no doubt that the prescriptive yet devilishly satiric A World Made by Hand series will continue.” — Booklist
The 20th Anniversary edition
With an entertaining new introduction by the author