Archive for the ‘Nicole Foss’ tag
KMO welcomes Nicole Foss (AKA Stoneleigh of the Automatic Earth blog) to the C-Realm to discuss the need for re-localization, something which central authorities will work to quash lest it interfere with the conveyance of wealth from the periphery to the center. Nicole explains what she means when she describes cash as “a pile of unmade choices” and why she cannot offer her uncomplicated support for political movements like the Tea Party or Occupy Wall Street. She does voice her strong support for permaculture and for restoring soil fertility. Music by Andrew Woods.
Happy New Year from The Automatic Earth!
One of our consistent themes at TAE has been not expecting solutions to come from the top down. Existing centralized systems depend on dwindling tax revenues, which will dry up to a tremendous extent over the next few years as economic activity falls off a cliff and property prices plummet.
We have already seen cuts to services and increases in taxes and user fees, and we can expect a great deal more of that dynamic as central authorities emulate hypothermic bodies. In other words, they will cut off the circulation to the fingers and toes in order to preserve the body temperature of the core. This is, of course, a survival strategy, from the point of view of the core. But it does nothing good for the prospects of ordinary people, who represent the fingers and toes.
Centralized systems also depend on the political legitimacy that has been conferred upon them as a result of public trust in them to serve the common interest. This trust is rapidly breaking down in an ever-expanding list of places, as ordinary people realize that their interests have been betrayed in favour of the well connected.
Those who played fraudulent ponzi games with other people’s money, and were in the best position to know what could result, have been bailed out time and time again, while the little guy has been told to expect more austerity measures. Protest is inevitable as political legitimacy fades. We are already seeing it spread like wildfire, which is exactly what one would expect given that human beings internalize, reflect and act on the emotions of others. Collective social mood that turns on a dime is very much part of what it means to be human.
The job of national and international politicians in contractionary times is typically to make a bad situation worse as expensively as possible, as they attempt to rescue the dying paradigm that has conveyed so much personal advantage in their direction. That paradigm is one of centralization – the accumulation of surpluses from a broad periphery at the centre of power.
However, the wealth conveyors of the past are breaking down, meaning that the periphery that can be drawn upon is shrinking. As the periphery shrinks, the remaining region within the grip of power can expect to be squeezed harder and harder. ‘Twas ever thus. Rome did the same thing, squeezing the peasants for tithes until they abandoned their land and threw in their lot with the surrounding barbarians.
Even if politicians were informed of what is unfolding on their watch, understood it, and were minded to act in favour of the common man as a result (which is itself unlikely), there would be nothing they could do. They are too deeply embedded in a system which is thoroughly hostage to vested interests and characterized by an extreme inertia that would drastically limit their freedom of action.
by James Howard Kunstler
On last week’s podcast, Duncan and I yakked about an important concept introduced by Nicole Foss at The Automatic Earth blog site. This concept was “the trust horizon,” which outlines how legitimacy is lost in the political hierarchy. That is, people stop trusting larger institutions like the federal or state government and end up vesting their interests much closer to home. Thus, life de-centralizes and becomes more local by necessity. Your own trust horizon extends only as far as other persons, businesses, institutions, and authorities immediately around you – the banker who will meet with you face-to-face, the mayor of your small town, the local food-growers. At the same time, distant ones become impotent and ludicrous – or possibly dangerous as they flounder to re-assert their vanishing influence.
It is obvious that we are in the early stages of this process in the USA (and Europe), as giant institutions such as the Federal Reserve, the Executive branch under Mr. Obama, the US Congress (the ECB), the SEC, the Department of Justice, the Treasury Department, and other engines of management all fail in one way or another to discharge their obligations.
The people of the USA, having been let down and swindled in so many ways by the people they placed their trust in, and even freely elected, appear to be in a daze of injury. Maybe this accounts for the obsession with zombies and persons drained of blood – who yet seem to carry on normal lives (at least in TV shows). This odd condition is best defined by the familiar cry from non-zombies: “where’s the outrage?” Which brings me to today’s point.
Investment guru James Dines introduced another seminal idea on Eric King’s podcast last week. Dines’s work over the years has focused much more on human mob psychology than technical market analysis – which he seems to regard as akin to augury with chicken entrails. Dines now introduces the term “murmuration” to describe the way that rapid changes occur in the realm of human activities. The word refers to behaviors also seen in other living species, such as the way a large flock of starlings will all turn in the sky at the same instant without any apparent communication. We don’t know how they do that. It seems to be some kind of collective cognitive processing beyond our understanding.
Dines goes on to suggest that the political stirrings and upheavals of the past year represent an instance of human “murmuration” that will lead to even greater epochal changes in geopolitical and economic life. Now, I’ve often said 1) history doesn’t repeat, but it rhymes [thank you, Mark Twain], and 2) that these times are like the 1850s. To be more precise today, these two concepts of “the trust horizon” and “murmuration” point to a moment in time that I believe we are now rhyming with: the revolutions of 1848 and the events that grew out of it.
The spring of that year was an inflection point when discontent over the changes sweeping through European society broke into open insurrection in France, Prussia, Austria, Italy, Poland, South America, and other places all seemingly at once – despite the absence of television and the internet. However, the upheavals of 1848 occurred not long after the first practical installation of a telegraph line from Annapolis, Maryland, to Washington, DC (and then in Europe). It was also a time when the first railroad networks were linking up.
In February that crucial year, the liberal “Citizen King” Louis-Philippe of France was driven off the throne after an 18-year-reign characterized by tranquility and prosperity compared to the decades that preceded it. In March, street protests and violence spread through the grab-bag of kingdoms, dukedoms, and obscure principalities (Prussia… Saxony… Hesse… Fulda…) that would eventually make up the super-state of greater Germany. The Austrian empire began its slide into senility as its constituent states rioted. Even the people in Switzerland went batshit. And so on. Enter, stage left, Marx and Engels with a new political theory, for the excellent reason that the industrial revolution was reaching its stride and the conditions of daily life were changing very rapidly. Country people left farms for factory jobs all over the continent, and the ill-effects of the new wage-slavery drove them into solidarity. The uproar of 1848 was widespread and left many changes in its wake. But it was short and it produced odd instances of right-wing reaction.
In France, for instance, Louis-Philippe was sent packing (to England), and a new republic was established – but the president it elected was Napoleon Bonaparte’s nephew, Louis Napoleon who, in a matter of months declared himself president-for-life, and then Emperor. He was not at all a bad ruler, as things turned out. Among other achievements, he presided over the massive physical renovation of Paris that produced the “city of light” beloved today. But he was driven off his throne twenty-odd years later from the ill effects of the opera bouffe known as the Franco-Prussian War.
In any case, the main point is that so many people across a continent got the same idea in the first weeks of a particular year, and then set about expressing themselves violently. More to my point is how things worked out in America. You have no doubt realized by now that there was no uprising in the USA in 1848 (though we did prosecute a war with Mexico). Yet, in the best Fourth Turning sense of history, a new generation had come of age and was producing the revolution in ideas that included Emerson and Thoreau’s Transcendentalism, and the abolition movement, dedicated to ending slavery. This combination of broadly-held idealistic notions boiled away for another decade and led to the “mumuration” that precipitated the biggest bloodbath of the civilized world in the 19th century: the American Civil War. The Revolution of 1848 expressed itself most horrifically in the place that thought itself most specially insulated from its effects.
Hence, when you read an idiot such as Paul Krugman in Monday’s New York Times Op-Ed kindergarten, prating on the end of hard times in the USA, swallow a good half-pound of kosher salt. James Dines is right, a great human “murmuration” is underway, vibrating like a bass chord through bodies politic all over the world. Wait until you see what breaks loose at the Democratic and Republican conventions later this year.
This morning I was honored to participate in a panel discussion on what the near future holds with an illustrious panel: Richard Heinberg, Nicole Foss, James Howard Kunstler and Noam Chomsky. And it turned out really dismal, if you ask me! The overall message seems to have been that it doesn’t matter what any of us say, because so few people are able to take in such bad news without becoming despondent, so we might as well just let Chomsky ramble on like he always does, as a sort of case in point. And of course the moderator just had get up Kunstler’s nose with the usual “so this is all doom and gloom, isn’t it?” sort of comment. The one funny bit is around 51:26 where Chomsky calls Daniel Yergin “a very serious analyst” right after Kunstler calls him “the oil industry’s chief public relations prostitute.” Perhaps this will make Yergin an even better prostitute. And Chomsky is a very serious linguist. Think positive!
Do you want some good news? Here it is: Russia’s GLONASS satellite navigation system is fully operational, finally, so we no longer have to rely solely on the Pentagon’s GPS to tell us exactly where we are. In fact, the two systems work and play well together. 100% redundancy for 99% of us!
A talk by . . .
Dimitry Orlov, Richard Heinberg, Nicole Foss, James Howard Kunstler and Noam Chomsky
The peaking of oil prices and the coming Depression. Resource Wars to follow.
James J Puplava CFP interviews Nicole M Foss
January 05, 2011
In the third video in the series “Peak Oil and a Changing Climate” from The Nation and On The Earth Productions, co-editor of The Automatic Earth, Nicole M. Foss, explains how energy relates to the economy and what our impending energy crisis will look like. Foss discusses the issues associated with peak oil in financial rather than environmental terms, because she finds that peak oil has much more to do with finance than it does with climate change.
Foss talks about what she calls a “false positive feedback loop,” which involves optimism leading to “caution being thrown to the wind.” When this happens, Foss believes that people become angry. Succumbing to fear and anger might lead to engagement in destructive behavior, which would make it harder for society to confront peak oil and climate change.
Reacting to former Vice President Dick Cheney, who once said “the American way of life is not negotiable,” Foss says, “That’s true because reality is not going to negotiate with you.”
For more videos in the series visit The Nation – www.thenation.com
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