American Perestroika Needed


From James Howard Kunstler
Author of The Long Emergency
Excepted from blog posted here

[...] The Russian word roughly translates to “restructuring.” They flubbed it in 1989 because their system was too ossified and too far gone — though history and circumstance eventually did it for them.  A similar outcome is possible here, too, in which things just have to completely fall apart before emergent reorganization occurs.  But you can be sure that if we allow this to happen, an awful lot of things will get smashed along the way, including lives, careers, families, property, and cherished institutions…

American perestroika really boils down to this: we have to rescale the activities of daily life to a level consistent with the mandates of the future, especially the ones having to do with available energy and capital.  We have to dismantle things that have no future and rebuild things that will allow daily life to function.

We have to say goodbye to big box shopping and rebuild Main Street.  More people will be needed to work in farming and fewer in tourism, public relations, gambling, and party planning.  We have to make some basic useful products in this country again.  We have to systematically decommission suburbia and reactivate our small towns and small cities. We have to prepare for the contraction of our large cities.

We have to let the sun set on Happy Motoring and rebuild our trains, transit systems, harbors, and inland waterways. We have to reorganize schooling at a much more modest level.  We have to close down most of the overseas military bases we’re operating and conclude our wars in Asia. Mostly, we have to recover a national sense of common purpose and common decency.

There is obviously a lot of work to do in the list above, which could translate into paychecks and careers — but not if we direct all our resources into propping up the failing structures of yesterday.

The most dangerous illusion, of course, is a belief that we can return to a hyped up turbo debt “consumer” economy — and perhaps the most disappointing thing about Barack Obama, is his incessant cheerleading for a  “recovery” to what is already lost and unrecoverable. The man who ran for office on “change” doesn’t really have the stomach for it. But, of course, events are in the driver’s seat now, not personalities, even charming ones.  I’d venture to say that if Mr. Obama thinks he’s seen a crisis, and gotten through it, then he ain’t seen nothin’ yet.  We are for sure not returning to the kind of credit orgy that made the last twenty years such a nauseating spectacle — of which, by the way, the misfeasances and wretched excesses of Wall Street were just one manifestation…

There are too many truly good and intelligent people in this country, to leave our fate to the Palins and the Glen Becks.  But the good people had better man up and start telling the truth with some conviction that the truth matters.
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