by James Howard Kunstler, October 23, 2013
Well, at least the poobahs cleared a path to the annual orgy of Christmas, which, along with the S&P 500, have become proxies for the American economy. Lately, the Christmas season starts directly after Halloween, so, the whole fourth quarter of the year becomes a circus of ceremonial distractions. In the background, though, the nation grinds toward anguish, measured in soiled Justin Bieber dolls deposited in the landfills.
Historians who look back on these strange years of suspended consequence will marvel at how this empire of grift kept its wheels turning after its engine died. Being on the downhill slope is often enough to keep anything going. One might think the young people of this land would be seething at the eclipse of their futures, but it seems they have been successfully lobotomized with cellphones — when the endorphin hits lag between text messages, they can watch sitcoms, or porn.
You can be sure there will be a snapback from all this drift and anomie, and when it comes, the snap will be savage. Like the US economy, the Republican Party is dead but hasn’t gotten the news. It killed itself just as the Whigs did in the years before the Civil War, by splitting up into factions — one faction of “know-nothings” preoccupied with scapegoats opposed to a faction of sclerotic parasitical fat-cats too timid and greedy to engage in the emergencies of the day.
The Tea Party faction should change its name to the Cracker Party because it represents the interests of white southerners who are too dumb to know what these emergencies amount to. They are really more comfortable with the supernatural, hence their fondness for religions based on snake-handling, visitations of the dead, and motor sports. Personally, I believe they will eventually contrive to form their own break-away Cracker Republic and attempt to re-enact the Civil War. They will fail, and starve, and find themselves back in an even worse long-term depression than Dixieland experienced from 1860 to 1960, in a de-suburbanized wasteland of bare subsistence farming. Their highest art will be soup-making.
The non-Tea Party Republicans will just shrivel and vanish out of sheer irrelevance. This leaves the Democrats to become the focus of intense ire as they attempt to ‘splain why the nation’s affairs went to shit on their watch. A lot of them will end up being executed and plundered by the new kid on the block, the Savior Party, led by some charismatic character willing to ignore procedural protocols to clear away the debris left by his-or-her predecessors. Alas, the juice will not be there to permit the Savior to really control a territory as large as the continental USA. By juice, I mean money and oil. Thus, the nation enters its new dark age.
Who knows when that will get underway in earnest, though I think the folks who say 2014 are onto something. If you believe in cycles, which I tend to, then it rhymes nicely with 1814 and 1914, two watersheds when one epoch ended and another truly began. 2014 would logically be the year that China tells America to go piss up a rope. The message would be sent on the back of the envelope containing $2.7 trillion in official American debt paper. As Ole Blue Eyes used to say, this could be the start of something big.
Sentient observers of the current scene are clearly frustrated by the remarkable homeostasis that seems to rule the scene, these horse-latitudes of history where the air is still and nothing moves and the mind is exhausted by watchful waiting. Things will get lively, soon enough, so enjoy the holiday quarter of the year which is so soon upon us. Gorge on candy corn. When you recover from that, roast a turkey. Then make a nice figgy pudding. Then pop some bubbly and salute your loved ones. Then gird your loins for the new age of consequence.