Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Kunstler said Americans would elect maniacs

Five years ago, I juxtaposed two quotes from James Howard Kunstler to reconstruct a prediction about American politics from the movie "The End of Suburbia."
There will be a great battle to preserve the supposed entitlements to suburbia and it will be an epochal act of futility, a huge waste of effort and resources that might have been much better spent in finding new ways to carry on an American civilization.
Americans will elect maniacs who promise to allow them to keep their McMansions and their commutes and that’s going to produce a lot of political friction, probably a lot of violence, probably a threat to our democratic institutions.
Kunstler was both right and wrong about that prediction, as I pointed out when I revisited that quote in my comment on Slowly, Then All at Once.
As for Trump, you once predicted that Americans would elect maniacs who would promise that they could keep the entitlements of suburbia.  Trump has shown you to be right and wrong about that.  Yes, they'll elect maniacs to protect the entitlements of suburbia, but those entitlements turned out to be psychological and social, not physical.  Trump's support is more a response to threats to the social environment as it is to losing SUVs and McMansions, which with the price of oil being low right now, are not issues like they were in 2008 and 2012.  Instead, it's immigration, terrorism, and "law and order."
What I also wrote, but didn't post because I didn't want to inflame Vlad, who now goes by Janos, and his fellow deplorables was a second observation.
The one thing missing from "The End of Suburbia" was any discussion of White Flight; the movement to the suburbs was all phrased in class terms, not racial ones.  That's something my students from Detroit and its suburbs notice.
I still managed to attract a response from Vlad/Janos, but I ignored him for my own peace of mind.  After last night's election results, I have no peace of mind left for him to disturb.

I'm not alone.  Here are links to others who are fighting a losing battle with despair:
Among my fellow circle of liberal bloggers on Blogspot, there is generally shock, disbelief, and possibly even denial.  The only one who seems to not be surprised was the most pessimistic, Green Eagle, who had been expecting a Trump victory for a while based on his cynical view of the American press.  So far, he's been vindicated.

On the other hand, I expect The Archdruid will be insufferable tonight, when he posts his weekly blog.  He's been predicting a Trump victory for months now and he's been proven right.  Barf.  I was so looking forward to rubbing his nose in being wrong.


  1. As you've probably seen by now, he acknowledged Trump's victory, then found something else to talk about, something I myself have occasionally considered as a solution to our national problems (albeit not quite for the same reasons). As it wasn't relevant to his topic, I resisted my impulse to link to Charles Pierce's essay pointing out that, on the key issue of our time, He, Trump has no interest in "jolt[ing Unistat] out of its current death spiral", is in fact proposing a nose dive:

    There is no question that the victorious political position in this country on the existential threat of climate change can be found on a continuum that begins at "Hey, sucks about that superstorm, but what can you do, right?" all the way over to, "It's a Chinese hoax to keep us all from getting rich by strip-mining Yellowstone." Climate denialism is a deeply held principle of the incoming administration. The Clean Power Plan is dead now. The participation of this country in the Paris Agreement is pretty much a memory.

    Brother Charles (tip o'the Hatlo hat to Driftglass) provides that citation, which mentions that He, Trump has tapped a Competitive Enterprise Institute tobacco-shill-turned-climate-denialist to head his EPA transition team and is said to be considering a fracking magnate for Energy and an oil magnate for Interior.

    However, when I contemplated bringing this to the attention of JOHN MICHAEL GREER'S GODLIKE PERSPECTIVE, I found that, even if it were on his current topic, my conscience would not in fact permit me to be concise and courteous at the same time. I found, for instance, that the phrase "you actual mildewed Alan Moore hand puppet" tended to leap irresistibly to mind.

    1. Thanks for those links, as depressing as they are. As for talking to Greer, I decided against it yesterday even though I was tempted to press him on how many nations we are and if he followed any of the three models of them I am familiar with. This means I won't post comments there this month, either. I'm also done with Kunstler until December, too. Honestly, I feel cleaner not bathing in those waters.

    2. I've thought about linking him to Tim Kreider's Garreau variation Kashistan, but yeah, the thought of reading anything he has to say any time soon, even enough to post a comment, doesn't appeal. I'm going to give him time to realize that the abolishing of democracy in America may, as things now stand, be attended with some inconveniences, and perhaps not produce those many good effects proposed thereby.

    3. Also, you're quite welcome, and thank you for being here. It's embarrassing, but I can only think of two models out of your three, and I'm only sure of one of them. I assume Joel Garreau fits in there, and I'm guessing David Hackett Fischer's Albion's Seed is one of the others, but I'm drawing a perfect and absolute blank on the third. :[

    4. That "Kashistan" cartoon is a hoot! Thanks for linking to it.

      I'll still be reading Greer and Kunstler; it's just that I don't need my comments to be present. Not participating is probably better for my peace of mind and public profile. I really don't need to be seen around their more vocal followers and am not interested in inviting more of them here so soon after the election.

      You got two of the three. The third is a hybrid of the two, Colin Woodard's "American Nations." Tufts Magazine has a summary.

    5. You're welcome. I've found it funny and useful on many occasions.

      I'd forgotten Woodard, but seeing that map brought him back to mind. (I remember seeing it on some earlier occasion and thinking, from my observations of the people of Franklin County, PA [where I live], and Washington County, MD [our southern neighbor], that he'd put the boundary between the Midlands and Greater Appalachia at least one county too far to the west. Oh well.)

    6. I have the same reaction about where he drew the boundary in southern California between El Norte and The Far West. He put Riverside County in El Norte and San Bernardino County in The Far West. In reality, the boundary falls along I-40 halfway through the county, where Garreau drew it between his equivalent nations, MexAmerica and The Empty Quarter. True, most of the land of San Bernardino County is in The Empty Quarter/The Far West, but most of the people are in MexAmerica/El Norte. Since these are cultural maps, the boundaries should reflect what the people more than the land they live on.

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    1. Did you know I don't like off-topic spam and will delete it?

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