James Howard Kunstler: The Dangers of the Age of Delusion

[quote=treebeard] Those who have been given the gift of clear insight, IMHO have an obligation to avoid indulgences in fear and negativity and lead with a clearer vision of a better future.
Your vision is beautiful. I want to figure out why a whole society in Germany could not project a positive vision onto the future and was left with the blood of Millions of Jews on it's conscience. Society can't endure more episodes like that.
Having the "gift of clear insight" does not exempt one from action. The Patriots who bought our liberty also had a "gift of clear insight". They saw a future free of oppressive governance and they made it happen. 

I just reviewed the Paul Craig Roberts site. I was not aware of him or his writing until now and I really appreciate your mention of him here. He's got the cred:

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following.
and his writings/interviews and guest posts are well-worth my time. So thanks again Jim H. 

Not to get off topic but…If anything can "save" us from our fate, I think it is the Internet and the dissemination of facts, opinion, and other useful information. We must be vigilant to keep the Interenet available as a forum for the free flow of information. 


Thanks for sharing your well reasoned and thoughtful comments.  I would not disagree with your comments in many ways.  My current view of our predicament is perhaps more bleak than those who criticize my optimism.  I am in agreement with Chris Hedges and his assessment, which is pretty dire.  I think that in many ways we already live in fascist state, we have freedoms but within a very tightly confined box.  We have our freedoms as long as they don't impact the financial underpinnings of the system, when they do, as we saw with OWS, the reaction is swift and cruel.  Our fascism doesn't have a face, which perhaps makes it more difficult to overcome.
If I were a betting man, where would I place our odds? 1%? 2%? Zero, I don't know maybe, but I don't think that it really makes a difference.  When Ghandi marched 240 miles to the sea, do you think that he took odds before he went?  When civil rights leaders marched from Selma to Montgomery, what to think they though there odds were of ending Jim Crow in the south?  I think they went because they had to.  What choice do we currently have?

Does optimism mean putting rose colored glasses on?  Hardly.  Does it mean not speaking out about the calamitous we see our "representives" making? Absolutely not? Does it mean denying any part of our current realities, again a resounding no! Even if this bright future is only lives in my imagination, I will not give it up.  Even if martial law was declared tomorrow, I would not give it up.  If the seas began to boil, I would not give it up.  If masses of straving people ransacked my home and gardens, I would not give it up.

There is nothing in physical reality that is stopping the future we all want from occuring, all this suffering is a treasured wound, we as humantiy must give it up.  We are the only energy messing up this wonderous, awe inspiring planet, what a wonderous gift. We need possitive energy, and that is love, it is worth giving, every last bit that we can muster, even if we are to be defeated.  It will still be worth it. I will never stop believing in this world, in all of us, while I still have a breath in me.

Peace and Love

Me, I'll sit back and check this out a bit longer, and my guess, we won't be worrying so much about the extremes for a good while longer. If in my lifetime?
My 2 cents. No debate is necessary or wanted, I just wanted to cast my vote is all.

Peace and Love INDEED! With a sprinkling of some kick ass thrown in perhaps. I am conceding absolute zero to a fate accompli.


After reading the book When Money Dies (freely available to read in full on the web), which details the economic troubles of Germany post WW I, I came away with a different picture of the German mindset. A lengthy and crushing series of inflation, deflation and hyper-inflation swings had a profound effect on the country as a whole. This was a country that had free press, a diverse group of political parties representing a moderately progressive country. The prolonged austerity endured by the populace left them vulnerable to the influence of a forceful, decisive, charismatic leader (of course the same was true of post revolutionary France, after it's crushing period of auterity). They had been through enough vacillations of well meaning successive gov't initiatives in the lead up to Hitler's power grab. Also, Hitler insinuated himself into the national leadership change by strategically appearing with the country's revered elder statesman, so gained approval by association.I agree with JHK that USA is ripe for a similar transformation. Disappointment in failing systems will be as nothing to the long term affects of grinding austerity. Contraction inevitably moves a populace away from tolerance toward intolerance. I think that the Jewish population was simply an easy target, a way to channel an energy that had come out of years of deprivation which had already resulted in a hardening of sentiment. And Jews were not the very first target. The first group that he went after were people with disabilities. I can easily see this happening again (intolerance of people with disabilities) as money becomes tighter. I already see it expressed by people I come in contact with. They resent the money which goes to fund the high-tech motorized wheelchairs and prosthetic limbs of a couple of children on the small island where I live in New Zealand. The resentment is always there in the background- "Why should THEY get all that when the money could be 'better' spent elsewhere"
I do follow the dictate of speaking up, especially at those times, but at the same time I know that I have little impact on those people.

Some thoughts on this thread.

While I credit kunstler's book the Long Emergency with being a relatively early alarm call on the broad strokes of peak oil and limits to growth, he, like so many,has a perspective hobbled by his operant conditioning and social (elitist) enculturation.  He would be well advised to direct his intellect to challenge his own assuptions.  His continuing belief in the mirage of US demcratic institutions ie. the  right/left puppet show, zionist legitimacy, the war on terror, etc speak to a a mindset that is as conformist albeit more eloquent than the  "NASSCAR morons" he likes to ridicule.

More broadly, expecting that our now defunct democratic institutions can somehow be cajoled or shamed into effecting the sorts of reforms he adovcates,  ie conventioal rail renaissance, downscaling agriculture etc (all legitimate and appropriate responses btw) is naive. 

I am convinced that those sorts of adaptaions (broadly speaaking relocalization) are both desireable and inevitable indeed are already in the nascent stages of happening,  but not by legal/social mechanisms currently in place, they are occuring as both a function of awarness and individulal action in  light of that awarness all of which is driven by to the dynamic forcing functions of the macro economic feedback of the three E's

If this critique were a few decades ago , I would say that working on the reformation of our democtatic institutions was warranted,  hovewer at this stage of the game, that train has left.

for those of you worried that a fascist dicatiorship/police state could happen here relax,  it  already has,  as Treebeard posted it just looks and feels different.  the average citizen doesnt currently  experience the tyranny of the state like a jew in Nazi Germany (yet)  but the instituitions mechanisims legal justifications, propaganda systems, torture techniques, and rationals are all in place and have been field tested in Guantanamo, Iraq,Afganistan Pakistand Yemen, Libya etc.  The American populace has been propaganized and entertanined into aquiesence of those aformenetioned preparations


Unlike kunstler,  Paul Craig Roberts has no delusions regarding our government:


Whether a person believes the official story of 9/11 which rests on unproven government assertions or believes the documented evidence provided by a large number of scientists, first responders, and structural engineers and architects, the result is the same. 9/11 was used to create an open-ended “war on terror” and a police state. It is extraordinary that so many Americans believe that “it can’t happen here” when it already has.

We have had a decade of highly visible evidence of the construction of a police state: the PATRIOT Act, illegal spying on Americans in violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the initiation of wars of aggression–war crimes under the Nuremberg Standard–based on intentional lies, the Justice Department’s concocted legal memos justifying the executive branch’s violation of domestic and international laws against torture, the indefinite detention of US citizens in violation of the constitutionally protected rights of habeas corpus and due process, the use of secret evidence and secret “expert witnesses” who cannot be cross-examined against defendants in trials, the creation of military tribunals in order to evade federal courts, secret legal memos giving the president authority to launch preemptive cyber attacks on any country without providing evidence that the country constitutes a threat, and the Obama regime’s murder of US citizens without evidence or due process.

As if this were not enough, the Obama regime now creates new presidential powers by crafting secret laws, refusing to disclose the legal reasoning on which the asserted power rests. In other words, laws now originate in secret executive branch memos and not in acts of Congress. Congress? We don’t need no stinking Congress.



What to do? 


 Join the resistenece … Build resilience, community, awarness, and spirtiual strength, Separate as much as possible from the domminant paradigms of  industial society, Big AG Big pharma, Big OIl Wall street etc.,  turn of  your TV, let go of materialism Stop participating in the charades of democracy voting for either entrenched party twin heads of the same oligarchy  Practice non violent resistence,  but arm yourself as a last resort.  Educate people dont ridicule them like Kunstler, often does, its counterproductive.

participate  and build democratic tools of engagement at the local level. from the blockwatch on up.

Try to grasp the big picture,  we are 40 years into the collapse of industrial civilization, this will play out over our lifetimes and the lifetimes of our children and grandchildren,  It is happening slowly from our perspectives but is blindingly fast on a historical scale.  While the overall process seems slow,  there will be rapid adjustments, 2008 was just a fore shaddowing,  Prepare for the coming rapid step functions of Instituitonal and currency collapse.

Our current govenrment and institutions and empire is in a process of collapsing,  Do not look to moribund industrial institiutions to fix that.  Collapse, as unsettling and fraught wilth tyrannical potential as it is,  is our best hope for a better life   The structures of power will not give up easily there will be suffering, things will likely get really bad but there is reason for optimisim.


For inspiration I often return to watch this inspirational speach Chris Hedges gave at OWS. I believe that he was arrested following this speach.
For myself the issues boil down to knowing who I am, and what I believe in. It's about doing the right thing, for the right reason. And especially about not giving to fear.

I extremely grateful that there are extraordinary people like Chris Hedges that are sticking their necks out and taking a stand. And I agree that all that now is to protest, and to resist. But also that resistance to the corporate state must always be non-violent as demonstated by the OWS activists.

Hope speech, Chris Hedges


What great input from all the people who have posted!  Thank you for sharing such well thought out pieces of wisdom.
A few observations I'd like to make:

1.  Hitler and his minions were cunning and knew exactly how to play the masses.  The Jewish people were an easy scapegoat and being involved in finance and business made them extremely visible targets.  Being a small percentage of the population didn't help them either.

2.  Hitler's military buildup greatly improved Germany's manufacturing economy and the average German family could feel they were better off financially with Hitler in power, in spite of the bad things Hitler was doing. The Great Depression did not affect Germany economically as much as many other countries.

3.  A society that is massively equipped for war must find enemies to justify its existance, either foreign, domestic, or both. This certainly sounds like 30's Germany, what about us?

4.  Hitler was able to gain power through an election where he received only a plurality of the vote, but he was bold enough to seize all the power, and got away with it…

5.  In our American Revolution about 1/3 of the population supported the uprising, about 1/3 supported the Crown, and about 1/3 were neutral or profited from both sides.  A very small minority actually was responsible for the Revolution and its eventual success.

My opinion is that Hitler was the wrong person at the wrong time in Germany's history.  My hope is that a small minority of good willed people are able to sway the future in a positive direction.  I wouldn't bet the farm on it though. 

So what is our March to the sea, or to Montgomery?  We're fat, we're lazy and apathetic.  But "we" seem to know something is amis.  Not paying taxes, would that be a start?  Remember the moratoriums of the Vietnam era?  "No Business as Usual".  Absolutely love the threads like this on PP.   Aloha, Steve

As I registered as a Republican last year to support Ron Paul in his efforts in Hawaii's first Republican primary, I received an invitation last week to participate in the island Republican Party caucus.  Having no affinity for the party, I went to see what was on the minds of the local Party.  It was the largest turn-out of 3 gatherings on Kauai- an island of 60,00 people- that day.  On one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse places in the country, the other 13 participants were, like me, white and old.  I think there was one guy younger than me- he looked about 55 and was a past candidate.  To my dismay, there was no talk of platforms or positions, only selections of precinct captains and delegates and district chairpersons.  There was a presentation by a couple professional young guys from the Leadership Institute on how to "get out the vote" effectively.  Their mantra was, in part, "Don't discuss issues when canvassing, that is the candidates job".  Just deliver the votes and we'll put them to proper use.  The men and women there were smart, concerned, and committed.  Their chances of success in Hawaii is miniscule.  Yet they were enthusiastic.  I'm glad I didn't wait around after the presentation, where I could see myself saying to them "No matter what candidate you may get elected, your grandchildren will likely be financial slaves without the liberties we take for granted now".  Heartbreaking, really.    Aloha, Steve.

To those that are frustrated with the task of helping others to see what is going on, I understand. I have the same feelings. Then I read more, connect a few more dots and know that I have no choice but to continue to try. At some point, this will come to a "head" and the more people that have been touched, even if only slightly, the better the chances for a more favorable outcome.I will say this as a point of encouragement, people are waking up. I have been in business for myself for 30 years and have direct personal contact with 20 - 30 people daily. My relationship with many of these people spans many years. I can honestly say that I have never, NEVER heard the things discussed that are being discussed these days. People are angry, they are beginning to realize that they are lied to and manipulated on a daily basis. People that would not have had those thoughts five years ago. I am encouraged by this. Sure, many are still slumbering and will continue to do so. Let them slumber and move on to the ones that are somewhat open to discussing the problems we face.
Hone your skills of conversation. Never condescend or ridicule. Rants are generally not helpful. I save those for my poor wife. 
I find joy in things every day though I am not the carefree guy I was 6 or 7 years ago. I believe we are headed for some serious challenges in our future and the timeline is unpredictable. I do know that every step taken down the road we are on makes the ultimate battle that much more difficult.
I couldn't agree more about local community and building relationships. Something I have avoided most of my life. That is no longer a choice. Find people of like mind. They are out there and they will know of others. Work with people you can trust, preferably someone you have known for some time.
While I see the benefits in remaining positive and upbeat, I also believe that there is a great potential for situations to arise that will require a hardened person. Work hard. The stakes are high. Read the excerpt from ":They Thought They Were Free" again. Do I know the timeline? No, but I feel the signposts are there and cannot be ignored.
A note of gratitude for all the great input on this site. This place has been one of the huge factors in my enlightenment.

Did anyone else keep thinking about the "Patriot Act" when they read this?in order for me to get on an airplane today, I have to take off my shoes, belt, watch, go through a metal detector, listen to a speech about why they are going to frisk and wand me and then get frisked and wanded.
Once, I tried to get them to skip the speech, but was told it's required.  Did they pass a law that I was required to listen to speech about the rights I no longer have just to board a plane?
Another time I fought with the TSA for a half hour over a reading fork.  I use it for, guess what, READING!  They saw it as a weapon, the same as the nail clippers that I once had confiscated when boarding a plane. 
How did we let this happen?  Who thinks we can afford the cost associated with the TSA and the security measures we have added since 9/11?  Who feels safer after the patriot act and added security?
Those are the things that occurred to me when reading chapter 13.  It's one giant step in an ugly change.

Thanks MarkM,One further perspective to add: I think the best possible thing we can do is to simply plant the seeds of thought around these issues so that others can allow those seeds to germinate and grow. As you said, there are conversations taking place now that would have been unheard of a number of years ago.
It is not our role or responsibility to change people, but rather to try to educate in manner that is compelling enough to get people to change on their own. In that regard rants are counter-productive, and at times serve to make us look like a bunch of tin foil hat nutbars.
If we really want to make a difference then we must influence change by becoming top-dog salespeople of the messages that we believe to be true. Take a page from CM - he planted the seeds with the Crash Course and enough of us read it and thought it was credible enough to become believers.
Not everyone can be converted, but take heart that the sheeple follow the herd mentality, and if enough of the herd starts moving in one direction, the rest will follow.

The main problem is supposed rational "coherent story" planning.  City-States were much more succesful on an aggregate net time basis.   Top->Down planning always fails in the long run.  Get the government out of planning and regulating everything under the Sun to let entrepreneurs solve the upcoming problems.   For example, there is much local produce available even in Walmart now.   We have a flexible transporation system so that can adapt quickly.   And luckily America has some wonderful farm land.   The great threat is the "almighty dollar" with nowhere really to invest because of FED policy influenced by Congress.   Local bridges could be rebuilt by selfish private interests (and non-union labor) that recoup by traffic efficeincy and toll fee.  On the immigration front just get the government out of offering free schools and such and you will see the ones coming turning around.  

I agree that many people even here in semi rural Canada are sensing intuitively that things in our world are changing in very disconcerting ways. The strange changes in the weather are an obvious example.I recently moved on my own to a semi rural region of Western Canada. So I am eager to strike up a conversation with people I meet in places like coffee shops or the grocery stores. And I have been surprised that without me initiating it, a couple of times the conversation (most often when I'm in the grocery store) has turned to a concern that our three E's are out of whack.
The most significant exchange was with a very "down to earth" late middle aged woman (over 60 I guess). We initially struck up a discussion about our shared belief in the benifits of choosing healthy foods to purchase. But then I was surprised when she said that she knew that something scary was happening with our economy simply because she was noticing price increases at the store. But when I picked up on her concerns and asked her to elaborate further, it quickly became apparent that we were pretty much on the same page in regards to the overall message presented here at PP. 
She said that her husband was a truck driver and she fully expected that he will looose his job when the SHTF. But she also said as she walked away that she has faith in a "higher power". So I assume that belief is what's behind her attitude of acceptance and her calm manner.
And funny enough the much the same thing happened again in the same store, in the same spot with someone else less than two weeks later.

I was asked for my ID when I tried to cash a check from a bank teller!
I was even stopped at the exit door at a local store because the buzzer sounded, and it turned out they didn't de-magnatize something I just bought.

I am so upset because I just received a ticket in the mail for blowing a stop sign at 65 MPH and because of this I caused an accident, and I am so pissed because they use those darn camera's. They didn't catch me so I figured tough crap. Dummy me.

I have never been arrested or even yelled at when I refused entry into my home by a policeman (3 times that I can think of)…

I have never been stopped on the street asking for my ID.

I have never been stopped to see if my big ole dog while drooling had his rabbis ID on.

Imagine the shrill that went through my body as I watched thousands die instantly when a couple of planes flew into the trade centers and now we have security checks. How stupid is that? I'm boycotting then, NO MORE AIRPLANES FOR ME. To be fair minded though Idon't believe we have had any such incidents since 9-11.

Twice I have had guns nearly pulled on me by people I knew (both times I was fortunate in advising them to stop what they were doing and they bought my bullshit), and never by an official of the government or police. I could explain this in depth but I will just say I had a tactical advantage, removed the weapons from danger, and left them behind as I left.

I have NEVER met a soldier that wasn't polite or respectful no matter where they came from. I often buy them their food at a restaurant because I love what they stand for. Snappy dressers too.

I think tattoos are cool and want an Old English D on my left shoulder. Gooo Tigers!!!

I leave my home feeling safe and secure. The only Folks that bug me are the police, and they haven't bothered me ever. I have seen things and is why they bug me. Like in society it is the few that make the whole batch suspect. They have their code you know. "Protect and Serve", each others. Sort of like racial profiling in the opposite.

To be fair I want my policemen to be feared as it keeps them out of harms way. Usually. Plus I may need them some day, and I don't expect the situation to be all that pleasant for them. I'll be calling in an emergency.

Honestly, I haven't a clue what is happening today. The government is so intrusive in our lives it is just appalling. Then again I can't think of one reality only imaginary of their intrusiveness. Yes, I know, I have heard from someone who heard something, and where told by someone else, and of course if I shared I would have to…well you know the ending.

The real stories are in books or articles, and boy are there ever bad things happening in the world. No doubt about that. I just think for the most part that birds of a feather flock together, and they have a totally different reality than us normal Folks.

As a country we are broke, and it's all our faults but it is only natural to blame someone, and imagine all sorts of things. Everything is subject to negotiations now, and the world over is now in the negotiation phase, and at some point loses will have to be taken. Soc.Sec, medical, pensions, Debts, and all sorts of stuff but lets get rid of the waste first, and that can only be done when everything tanks, and the Reality hits everyone and we can cut. No time like the present I say.

Truthfully, the Man has too much power but I can count on one hand the times I have had any encounter or concerns with these authority figures in my life. You would have thought I would have had more intrusions in my life. I haven't though and I'm not the quiet type. Go figure.

Sex, drugs, violence, and conspiracy all sell books and things. They center on the imagination within all of us, and is so powerful. Fear is the number 1 seller, and is why gun sales are off the charts I suspect.

Oil and energy are a major issue and so we go backwards in time, a slow rewind you could call it until we figure this thing out. Maybe Mother Nature will just take matters in her own hands, and wipe a few billion of us good Folks away, and that would delay things a bit. I'm not wishing this to happen but a pandemic is over due as I read things.

I really wish I could just sit back and say nothing about this subject, the Elite and those wishing to enslave me for demonic tastes but I can't. Someone has to speak of the dead, and the ideals they stood for, and the troubles they managed throughout their lifetimes. See, they speak to me, and insist that I say to those who have such conspiratorial minds, "suck it up you pansy asses, and work to fix things". Hey, you can't shoot the messanger so maybe you could start to listen to some of your family members who are screaming at you. You just got to listen is all.

I concede nothing to anyone.



From James's site today:

There will be no new chain store brands to replace the dying ones. That phase of our history is over.
    What we're on the brink of is scale implosion. Everything gigantic in American life is about to get smaller or die. Everything that we do to support economic activities at gigantic scale is going to hamper our journey into the new reality. The campaign to sustain the unsustainable, which is the official policy of US leadership, will only produce deeper whirls of entropy. I hope young people recognize this and can marshal their enthusiasm to get to work. It's already happening in the local farming scene; now it needs to happen in a commercial economy that will support local agriculture.
    The additional tragedy of the big box saga is that it scuttled social roles and social relations in every American community. On top of the insult of destroying the geographic places we call home, the chain stores also destroyed people's place in the order of daily life, including the duties, responsibilities, obligations, and ceremonies that prompt citizens to care for each other. We can get that all back, but it won't be a bargain.
Read the full article here

…the revival of Main St. U.S.A. I would like a bakery again, a soup and salad restaurant would be nice, A gun repair shop combined with other sporting goods for the field. Maybe even a horse and buggy bus service from one end of town to the other. Ahhhh, I like going backwards in time very much.
I just think the Amazon model will rule the retail space for many years to come. Retail is dying but it will be because of the robots and guaranteed 2-3 day delivery. I will never leave my home for the jungle again and that cannot happen all to soon for me. Just on the energy savings front not because I am anti social.

Come to think of it I think Amazon has ended Globalization and the WTO. Why do we need cheap labor? We don't. We just have to balance cheap Robots and Labor so that someone pays taxes, and spends some cash. We will need labor because of energy, and the energy we have must be used smartly as we will need it so the lights stay on at least. My goodness, the lights can't go out, right? Airlines are toast and mass transportation is a lock. A new grid then. We'll get that stuff done, it's only a matter of time. If I can figure this one out then somebody else has, I just have to believe that.

Robots will change the Oil equation a bit are my thoughts.

Now if we can have these office towers emptied and the good Folks can work from home we could really be stewards of our resources. Women and Men could work in their PJ's and save all that senseless travel time, and hours and hours spent bumper to bumper.

Reclaim all that land. 

Plus raise our children again instead of having some early teens raising them, and we wonder why the kids have such ideas about things. Maybe, just maybe the kids will be healthier of spirit, mind and body. Imagine that.

I think we can now mesh the old with the new and actually create sustainable futures for our families, and live well within our means. We always did until recently anyways. Some of us always have but we pay for the others too. The American way.

I think we are heading for a revolution in work ethic again, and that day will be the happiest of days. There are way to many good Folks just lolly gagging on the current workers toil, and that has to stop. If you can move then you gotta work. You want to eat, you gotta work. No freebies. So, time to open up all the Parks and Rec centers, paint them up, and let the kids play. Community centers too, and have the kids read too, let them color, and sing and dance. Feed them, and teach them the value of money. It would only take a generation, and the kids would be well prepared for the economy of tomorrow.

The times we are heading into will only effect those who have never done without. Those who only knew new stuff learn to really like the better worn out stuff. Those used to dinner out may find dining in a bit of a let down but will learn how to cook, and actually like eating at home more, and it's cheaper.

We all can learn to live with so much less, and that will prove up in good time I'm guessing. That is where many of you will see that what you have then is not worth conceding to some Elitist form. You'll dig in, and so will many around you. 

I'm very encouraged and hopeful for the future. A funny thing happens when you get out of Debt and are somewhat prosperous you begin to feel better, even cocky because no one owns you. Just wait until this idea catches on, and it will. Banks will actually pay you to keep your money with them. Imagine that.

I am an optimist, again, imagine that.

Fascism: No way ho-say.

Think about this for one second: Some Folks here actually believe that I am naive for being an optimist and out of my mind for NOT thinking fascism is our future. Blows my mind quite frankly. l'lI stay in denial then, and I expect so will many. I know, I know, that's when the Big Bad Boogy Man strikes, it's how they control me. Hitler for instance. Hogwash.

Good Stuff Optimism…Fascism, not so much. I got my eye on that Faulker.


Wonderful thread. I've enjoyed reading all your posts. I thought this quote might be inspiring. It was written by the late Vaclav Havel (1936 - 2011), a past president of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic. He was speaking about and to current politicians regarding the future, drawing from his past experience.

It seems to me that all of us face one fundamental task from which all else should follow.  That task is one of resisting vigilantly, thoughtfully, and attentively, but at the same time with total dedication, at every step and everywhere, the irrational momentum of anonymous impersonal, and inhuman power – the power of ideologies, systems, bureaucracy, artificial languages, and political slogans. We must resist its complex and wholly alienating pressure, whether it takes the form of consumption, advertising, repression, technology, or cliché. We must draw our standards from our natural world, heedless of ridicule, and reaffirm its denied validity. We must honor with the humility of the wise the limits of that natural world and the mystery which lies beyond them, admitting that there is something in the order of being which evidently exceeds all our competence. We must relate to the absolute horizon of our existence which, if we but will, we shall constantly rediscover and experience. We must make values and imperatives the starting point of all our acts, of all our personally attested, openly contemplated, and ideologically uncensored lived experience. We must trust the voice of our conscience more than that of all abstract speculations and not invent responsibilities other than the one to which the voice calls us. We must not be ashamed that we are capable of love, friendship, solidarity, sympathy and tolerance, but just the opposite: we must set these fundamental dimensions of our humanity free, and accept them as the only genuine starting point of meaningful human community.  We must be guided by our own reason and serve the truth under all circumstances as our own essential experience.

I know this all sounds very general, very indefinite, and very unrealistic, but I assure you that these apparently naïve words stem from a very particular and not always easy experience with the world.  - from "Politics and Conscience," 1984

A Task For Politicians:

It will certainly not be easy to awaken in people a new sense of responsibility for the world, an ability to conduct themselves as if they were to live on this earth forever, and to be held answerable for its condition one day. Who knows how many horrific cataclysms humanity may have to through before such a sense of responsibility is generally accepted. But this does not mean that those who wish for it cannot begin at once. It is a great task for teachers, educators, intellectuals, the clergy, artists, entrepreneurs, journalists, people active in all forms of public life.  Above all it is a task for politicians. The main task of the present generation of politicians is not, I think, to ingratiate themselves with the public through the decisions they take or their smiles on television. It is not to go on winning elections and ensuring themselves a place in the sun till the end of their days. Their role is to assume their share of responsibility for the long-range prospects of our world, and thus to set an example for the public in whose sight they work.  - speech delivered at Harvard University, 1995

Vaclav Havel (1936 – 2011)

Thank You

Our world is changing. Regardless of whether the changes end up (10 - 20 - 30 years down the road) in a positive way or a negative way, most people fear and resist change.  My experience has been that people, especially in a crisis situation (which the coming changes are likely to be for many people), tend to forget to use their critical thinking skills and, instead, tend to react out of fear, anger, denial. This is especially so when they are unprepared. When people are frightened and don't know how to deal with a crisis, they tend to respond by clinging to the familiar (even when that may be counter-productive), looking for a charismatic leader (a savior), or by finding a scapegoat to blame and punish. Or all of the above. And then there are those people who see times of huge change as an opportunity for selfish profit or worse. Given this human dynamic, I think that the chances of "fascism", anarchy, mob mentality, or some such wide-spread social devolution is quite possible.
I find a lot of value in the benefits of civilization and not constantly fearing for my life. I think the best way to avoid falling to the lowest places is to be prepared. To be proactive. To have viable solutions in place. Practice makes perfect. I know that many people on this site are personally preparing; I am too. But, I am becoming more and more convinced that simply surviving the coming changes isn't enough. While it may be neccessary to rebuild agriculture, transportation, community, technology, finance, and government from the ashes, so to speak, I/we'd better start the building now. Because if we wait until after the fall to begin creating something new (that will actually work), someone else is likely to already have stepped in to fill the void. And I/we may not like the solution they bring forth.

I've been following the blogs by John Michael Greer (http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/) with interest, because he seems to be working hard to figure out a workable vision for the future of our government. We may not be able to implement a new/revised government now, but we'd best be considering, researching, discussing, and trying out what that new government should be like now. And, imho, we need to be including as many diverse people in those conversations as possible, so that all of us feel like we have some control over our fate. Some stake in the game. The process of envisioning the future allows us to collectively prepare ourselves for the changes to come. Hopefully, by conceiving the future and having viable alternatives in mind or even in place, we can avoid the worst of the social chaos and get right to work building our new reality.

I'm convinced that the future can be positive, but 1) simply surviving isn't enough and 2) we have to figure out and implement viable solutions for how the future should look - now. 

I guess I'm a cautious optimist…