Topic For Discussion …


Lost in the dull roar of crashing Euro-economies and media trivia was the quiet failure of Americans Elect a couple of weeks ago.


Americans Elect and the death of the third party movement

Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake (Washington Post)

It ended with a whimper, not a bang.

Late Thursday night, Americans Elect, a much-ballyhooed group dedicated to securing ballot access for a serious third-party presidential candidate in 2012, issued a statement acknowledging failure.

That’s a somewhat remarkable — and ignominious — end for a group that carried a number of high-profile backers in the political strategist and donor community and who, as of earlier this month, had secured ballot access in more than half of the 50 states.

And it’s a telling indication that, despite widespread discontent with the two-party system and near-record numbers of people saying that they would be open to voting for a third-party candidate, the future of another major political party emerging any time soon is more pipe dream than practical.

“Good and qualified people see politics as so poisonous today that they simply don’t want to participate,” explained Mark McKinnon, a former adviser to President George W. Bush and a major player in the Americans Elect movement. “It’s just damn difficult to break the iron grip of the two-party system

McKinnon added: “This may not be a death knell for third-party efforts, but it’s a pretty good shot to the groin.”


Receiving emails from Americans Elect in the spam folder was always a thrilling ‘so what?’ moment. There was never a prize in the Cracker-Jack box: outside of the novelty of the process itself Americans Elect had nothing to offer but the central contradiction of modernity. (John Michael Greer):


In the 1970s, environmental activists facing equally powerful and well-funded corporate interests built a mass movement and forced through landmark legislation. In the United States, the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act, and a bevy of less famous but equally important environmental bills crashed through a wall of corporate opposition and became the law of the land. That sort of success is something that today’s environmental activists can only daydream about, and it was accomplished using the same tools that activists use today—with one important addition: the environmental activists of that time recognized that the most effective way to advocate any given change was to make that change in their own lives first. That awareness was not limited to the environmental movement; it was pioneered by the feminists of the 1960s and 1970s, in fact, who turned it into a core principle of their movement — “the personal is political” — and leveraged it efficiently to bring about dramatic if still incomplete gains in women’s rights. They recognized, as did many other activists in those years, that if your lifestyle supports a system, and depends on that system, any efforts you may think you’re making to force significant change on that system will be wasted breath.


We need new political thinking. The current management approaches have failed and will continue to do so until the status quo is exhausted:

– The current parties both in the US and elsewhere have outlived their usefulness, they are captured by special interests and have nothing to offer but rehashes of proven-failed policies. Their group-narrative is obsolete, it is unable to offer a workable vision for the future that doesn’t include non-stop advertising, ‘growth’ and consumption.

– Non-policy alternatives to the status-quo cannot meet the scale of the problem. At the same time, the alternatives suggest status-quo failure and are fiercely resisted by the establishment. The problem — as pointed out by the Nicole Foss — is redundant claims on real wealth, wealth being resource access.

– The status quo represents a fashion preference and entrenchment of a false but internally logical supporting doctrine. Our pop art-modernist doctrine is intolerant and hegemonic, it can only be relieved by system failure which the doctrine itself guarantees.

It doesn’t take much to start a political party, just a few people:



Ron Paul, Keli Carender, Rick Santelli and Karl Denninger all made use of the tea-bag- Boston Tea Party concept. Here is how Denninger described it:


TEA PARTY February 1st?

So long as we have an inauguration drawing this sort of crowd and not a protest about our government blowing $700 billion of our dollars so that The Pigmen of Wall Street can continue to rob our nation blind, then saddle us with the bill when their bets go bad, we will see no solution.

I cannot take credit for the idea floated on the forum, but I do like it.

It is time for We The People to send a strong message to Washington DC – no more. No more loading our children and grandchildren with debt. No more bailing out speculators and bankers who made bets they knew were unsafe at the time. No more bailing out people who came to Congress to demand the removal of leverage limits, got what they asked for, then blew themselves up with the very leverage they demanded to be able to use.

No more.

Therefore, on February 1st, which is more than enough time for Barack Obama to be seated in his chair in the West Wing, I am recommending an act of peaceful, lawful and yet unmistakable protest.

That is, to mail President Obama one teabag. Nothing dangerous, nothing illegal – just one teabag.


Let’s describe a new US political party:

– The new party will be just that, a real political party, not a scaffold for a particular presidential candidate. The overall goal is to have legitimate party candidates running in all fifty states for national, statewide and local/municipal elections … in every election. Otherwise, the new party is ‘Americans Elect 2.0’.

– The new party is a structured organization with an idea or set of core ideas that aren’t found in other parties starting with ‘no more business as usual’.

– The new party will be an American party that supports the interests of US citizens first, non-national or trans-national interests last.

– Any political party is a club: a groups of like-minded individuals who provide support for the others. The basic platform will include the following fundamental ideas:

– The new party will offer ‘Reality Based Policy’. Worst-case debt, finance and resource conditions will be assumed rather than ‘hoped away’ or maneuvered around. The group will work toward solutions with the understanding that citizens will ‘pay a price’ in the process. We will face our difficulties and succeed as best as we can with our virtues: courage, perseverance, humility and a sense of sacrifice.

– The new political party will require accountability/responsibility from everyone. Period.

– This party will root out corruption and money from politics … our government is not for sale!

– A goal of the new party is the nationalization of the election process. Privatization of democracy has failed.

– This party is a club with rules: Every party member, candidate, office-holder or administrator will earn within a year or possesses a net-worth less than $1 million dollars. No person can contribute more than $100 toward any candidate in any single election. No candidate can accept more than $100 from any single person per election nor can that candidate have received support previously from any group or individual who earned or earns more within a year, or possesses a net worth over $1 million dollars.

Elected officials will earn less than $1 million in cumulative income, they will adjust their income to remain within the confines of the income limit. There will be no political action committees or ‘slush funds’, candidates will repudiate in advance any outside- non-affiliated sources of private funding. Professional politicians would be free to run for office within the party, however most will not qualify as past sponsorship in campaigns will be measured against the income limit. Corporate, NGO or Union donations will not be accepted, nor will persons affiliated with the preceding organizations be accepted as candidates. Only public election funding, available to all other candidates will be accepted.

Those individuals with wealth or income greater than $1 million are welcome to join the Democratic- and Republican parties. These are the millionaire parties: for real estate developers, car dealers, oil executives, rich doctors or lawyers, stock traders, Hollywood celebrities and professional athletes.

This new party will be for the rest of us.

I suggest calling this party the Responsibility Party.

This new party is practical:

– It appeals to both self-described ‘Liberals’ and ‘Conservatives’.

– It is a party by design of the non-wealthy. The wealthy have money, they are the ‘1%ers’ with 1 percent of the population. The new party for the rest of the 99% has the majority of votes by default.

– The party can succeed because the winds of history are at its back. As time passes the self-interested enterprises will collapse under the weight of their own contradictions. The self-interested are structurally incapable of doing anything else because they have evolved to be cannibalistic. The establishment can only succeed by devouring itself.

– As the establishment parties fail, what is exotic and on the fringe becomes main stream. The election process brings new candidacies forward: as the ongoing re-alignment continues the opportunities for the new party will increase.

– Much of the grassroots organizing infrastructure for a new party already exists. It has ‘nowhere to go’ because the current establishment cannot bear to abandon its core constituency of millionaires and billionaires.

– Contrary to popularly promoted opinion from politicians, Americans are desperate for leadership, direction and discipline. They have been fed the ‘steady diet of nothing’ and false-promises for decades and want/need more. What they are looking for is the truth, they want it straight up, they want to be challenged and they want to succeed: to be great, in other words. Americans are sick and tired of being asked to sacrifice, to make their world a better place by spending money they don’t have in a store.

Let me know what you think.

82 thoughts on “Topic For Discussion …

  1. Reverse Engineer

    We do of course have many “3rd Parties”, just none with a snowball’s chance in hell of getting Elected on any kind of scale. Occassionally they do, Bernie Sanders is a Socialist, right?

    Creating some kind of monolithic 3rd Party to represent the 99% is pretty tough, because of all those nasty subsidiary issues people get bogged down in, like Gay Marriage, Stem Cell Research, School Prayer yadda yadda.

    Then you have your Eurotrash example to deal with, where new Parties pop up like Buboes all the time, the new Syriza party in Greece beign a classic example of this. So you get your Parliamentary structure with 10 different parties seated and brokering to make “coalitions” to form Goobermints and the Lock Up is just about as bad as the Two Party Farce we have.

    So, while a 3rd Party is a nice idealized concept, in practicality it would do little to change the general state of Political Seizure we have going all over the world these days. There really is not a good Political Solution to the problems we are confronted with, and no I do not think simply eliminating the Carz would help the situation all that much even if you could pull this off Politically.

    In all likelihood, the structure we have in place here cannot be salvaged at all, including the “democratic” institutions of Goobermint which basically just serve as Window Dressing anyhow for very powerful people who work behind the Curtain. the system will have to collapse before anything new can be rebuilt, if there is anything left to rebuild with anyhow.

    A 3rd Party here in the FSofA, even if a viable one is formed will not make a difference in the way Da Goobermint is operating. The 3rd Party POTUS if elected would still face gridlock in CONgress, and eliminating all the corruption and lobbyists and Golden Parachute jobs in Banking or Industry for revolving door Congressmen is about impossible. NO financing rules will stop this action from taking place, they’ll just find back doors around it all.

    The only solution is a DISSOLUTION of the FSofA Nation State Entity into many Baby Bells, an anti-trust type action. then individual regions will be more free to develop their own local solutions and own local Political Parties.

    The FSofA is Too Big to Save.


    1. Mr. Roboto

      I guess I agree with RE, and I also tend to think that the FSA will engage in a desperate, last-ditch to save itself with a full-on “plutocratic-empire” phase in which only the meagerest pretenses of constitutional representative government are retained (if any at all).

  2. steve from virginia Post author

    RE, you are giving the establishment too much credit.

    The real biggest problem is inertia/laziness. There are always a bucketful of reasons why not to do anything, that is the background noise of our culture. “Hire a Mexican (and let them do it).”

    Nobody does anything because the default expectation is that nobody will do anything. It’s all very circular with that nice, neat ribbon on top. “We don’t want to even talk about it because we would fail anyway.”

    The Tea Party is a successful third party that is expanding right under everyone’s nose. This is not the party of geniuses, it is a party of very narrow (self)interests. It is an update of the anti-tax movement that gained traction in California around Proposition 13. The media complaint is that the TP has been co-opted by the GOP, more like the TP is taking over instead, the GOP is becoming the John Birch Society. This is not new: the ‘Goldwater Republicans’ were also the JBS with a coat of paint.

    People expected/wanted the Occupy ‘movement’ to be absorbed into the Dems but the Occupiers haven’t yet seized the day. They may not know how or are aware that doing so would marginalize the Occupy concept: take the king’s shilling, become the king’s man.

    There is no reason why some other group can mimic the Tea Party’s success. There is also no reason why a successful party has to follow the TP road map. The TP embraced Dick Armey’s fund-raising and organizing engine from the get-go. By doing so, TP candidates instantly had access to large unaccountable funds. Neophytes could run for election with the kind of media support only well-established political veterans could ordinarily muster: “I am not a witch!”

    Syriza is a good example of the establishment unraveling leaving a vacuum that is filled by marginal including political neophytes. The EU is about a year ahead of the US on the road to oblivion. The EU political veterans have discredited themselves, now what? The fringes are shoved into the establishment, in its place. At issue is whether it is possible for the Greeks or others to avoid extremists. Syriza — if it wins in Greece — like the French Socialists will likely do exactly what established major parties have done: these people cannot think differently. The intention is to restart the moribund consumer growth economy: these parties will fail. Growth cannot be restarted. These parties will be replaced by the next round of even more marginal parties and politicians. The outcome of this process is extremists, but these cannot succeed either because the consumption growth regime isn’t accountable to public desires. Queue the popular culture ‘doom’ scenario.

    I don’t think the side-issues are important to anyone other than political party tacticians who raise them in the first place. Recall the ‘terror threat alerts’ of the Bush years. These would be posted on highway signs where 35,000 lose their lives every year.

    Mr R, what is more likely is a continuing breakdown by inches rather than any increase in centralized police power. With centralized system there is no resilience within the establishment because there is little or no organic support for it. For instance, when the Soviet Union got itself into trouble in the late 1980s, the Soviet public turned its back on the government. Nobody abroad would deal with the Soviet bully and it turned out that none of the Soviet citizens wanted to, either.

    The Soviet components could have all turned toward totalitarianism: some did, in Belarus and some of the Central Asian republics. The rest opted for more responsive and resilient federal forms. Yugoslavia became the tragic exception as the political imaginations of regions’ publics were captured by militant extremists.

    The question is whether the USA establishment is becoming Serb-style extremist and there is little sign of it. The extremists in this country want to pay no taxes, not massacre everyone on the other side of the river because of a 400 year-old blood feud.

    1. Chartist Friend from Pittsburgh

      “There is no reason why some other group can mimic the Tea Party’s success.”
      – is that what you really meant to say?

      NO 🙂 TYPO.

      “I don’t think the side-issues are important to anyone other than political party tacticians who raise them in the first place.”

      – I think what you meant to say here is…

      There is so much negativity in the way people speak nowadays. Try to be more positive, people!


      I’m with RE on this one – the Baby Bells is a great analogy.

    2. Ellen Anderson

      I am surprised that the Green Party hasn’t been more active. I think that political organizers should focus on the international level or the very local level. What doesn’t seem to workable to me is the party system at the national level.
      I like the Greens because they have an international agenda. I like the idea of building in a “bottoms up” way at the local level based upon local economy/food/currency.
      Our national parties always have started out as coalitions of local interests rather than full blown parties.
      My sense is that you have got a reasonable platform but you won’t be able to organize around it and organizing is everything.
      Remember that the Tea Party has received significant support from some black budget or other.
      I like the conversation, though. They say courage is contagious.

      1. steve from virginia Post author

        The Greens seemed to be ahead of their time, they lost momentum as neo-liberals ascended.

        Americans Elect was an ‘instant party’. It had that ‘hipster’ interweb vibe but little else. Build from the bottom is the only way. Courage is indeed contagious.

    3. Reverse Engineer

      “RE, you are giving the establishment too much credit.”-Steve

      I don’t think so. These are the same folks who wrote into existence the credit necessary to build and subsidize the Railroads, the Electrical Grid, the Interstate Highways, Goobermint Motors and of course the Internet. That is a LOL of Credit Steve, by any measure.

      Who EVER really had a “choice” here about whether the Railroad would get Right of Way through their Farmhouse? Who ever really had a choice whether a Macondo Well was drilled or not? Sure, we got the EPA and other Window Dressing, but man, if the Money Masters want to Drill ANWR, bet your bottom Dollar (or really theirs) they’ll go right ahead and do that.

      Describing the Tea Party as a raging success here is IMHO nonsense, that “Party” is just another piece of Window Dressing, taking money from the Koch Brothers and other monied interests. They aren’t independent in any sense of the word. Besides that, like Syriza in Greece, they buy the same idea that “Growth” can be achieved, when it cannot.

      How does anyone form a 3rd party around the idea that Contraction and Shrinkage is what is necessary, when that means in practicality that the Lights will Go Out or at least regular brownouts for a while, everybody has to give up their Carz and all the mobility that allows them and everybody has to give up their Iphones and 24/7 connection to the Internet?

      Any 3rd Party which does form is going to make the same tired promises every other party does, then once in office will be subjected to the same pressures resutant from a contracting economy. So then they get dumped out of office or eventually strung up by their Gonads, and the next somewhat more extreme group plops into the power vacuum.

      This is the nature of the collapse as it plays out with the Political systems of control. It will of course become exacerbated when the logistical systems also begin to fail, the power grid, the JIT delivery system etc. You cannot fix that by any means, because the thermodynamic energy is not there to do it with. The whole system is built on that, you know that as well as I do.

      Trying to fix the problems we have here at the Political level is like trying to fix a Car that is misfiring by replacing the Spark Plugs when the REAL problem is the Gas Tank is about EMPTY. You can drop Shiny New Plugs into the Engine, but its STILL not going anywhere.

      Outta Gas.


      1. steve from virginia Post author

        Unmanaged breakdown has unforeseeable consequences. Selling restraint is easy when the only reasonable alternatives are unpleasant, such as what you describe.

        By the time people realize the current suite of canned ‘solutions’ is defective it will be too late to organize better strategies. It is best to start now. Everyone over @ this blog understands what is behind ‘Door Number 1’. If you’ve come this far in the ‘game’ you know there isn’t a whole lot left to lose.

        Meanwhile, your grandparents dealt with hard times without complaint as did mine … although I have to admit that doing so made them kinda crazy. The Depression made ‘prosperity in a can’ an entitlement rather than good luck. That is an attitude rather than a condition.


      2. Reverse Engineer

        “Meanwhile, your grandparents dealt with hard times without complaint as did mine … although I have to admit that doing so made them kinda crazy. The Depression made ‘prosperity in a can’ an entitlement rather than good luck. That is an attitude rather than a condition.”-Steve

        Our GPs dealt with hard times when probably 90% of the population was still agrarian and when there really still was plenty-o-oil left to be extracted into the economy, thence and thereafter to be burned up to run the big engine of Industrialization. Besides that, there were not near so many of them running willy nilly around the planet as there are now.

        The “hard times” our GPs faced would come to an end with an explosion of credit first to finance WWII, ours will not. It’s not even clear WWIII can be financed on credit this time before the system implodes. Even if it can be though, the aftermath won’t see a Marshall Plan rebuild of the Eurotrash OR a news Interstate Highways system built here in the FSofA.

        Selling on the Political Level that our future is one of an ever increasingly austere lifestyle is not a message most people want to hear, EVER. Even if you predate Fossil Fuels, nobody would have been very popular saying “your kids are going to live an even WORSE life than you do”.

        Now, you can make the case that the End Life here is better in the Spiritual Sense, you can hold dear the life of Monet and his paintings or the world the Founding Fathers lived in as an idealized version of reality, but fact is none of that was very sustainable EITHER. For the average J6P of those years, they had at least as many problems as we have with the current paradigm, at least personally. What they did not have was quite the level of ecological damage this paradigm does of course.

        Is there a POLITICAL solution to this problem, 3rd Party or otherwise? I put it to you that there is not. It’s a catabolic collapse Steve, and ain’t NUTHIN gonna stop it now. We WILL get 3rd parties, and 4th and 5th ones also as the first 2 parties fail in providing even the most basic of services and Goobermint to the community.

        This system cannot be repaired within the confines of it’s current structure, and it will, it MUST collapse before any other system can be dropped in as replacement. 3rd Parties are not the Solution. The Final Solution is the complete destruction of this paradigm and it won’t take revolt for that to occur, though this most certainly will be part of the outcome. The destruction will come organically from internal rot and the necessary obediance to the most fundamental of Natural Laws.

        You CANNOT make Something from Nothing.


      3. steve from virginia Post author

        RE you are conflicting yourself. On one hand you insist that _______________-driven unraveling is underway (true) then you insist that nobody will accept it. At the same time the basis of public unhappiness is acceptance of the FACT of the _______________-driven unraveling.

        Collapse is a really, really big idea, but it’s already embedded in pop culture … Hollywood has made a bunch of movies and TV shows about it. What this means is that as big as it is it has already been framed. Everything is in play within pop culture, even doom.

        Unhappy folks want something. A return of Santa Claus is high on the wish list but cutting off the bailouts is a good second choice … that is also within reach.

        Nobody promises outcomes, certainly not politicians, not even the shills on late-night television.

        I’m certainly not doing a good job of explaining my economics (‘Economic’ undertow rather than just plain ol’ undertow). Restraint in the present means resources in the future, that is reasonable (and also a fact). The public discussion including ‘sustainability’ genuflects in this direction,

        Business as usual means competitive resource stripping and bankruptcy. This is failure … because business as usual is not working.

        I don’t agree that the press to consume comes from the bottom up. We are bombarded with manipulative advertising, our corporate culture insists on a place within every human activity. Business interests carry enormous weight: the customer is always wrong … or a victim … or some kind of chum. Business undermines its own interests even as it demands constant debt subsidy.

      4. Reverse Engineer

        “I don’t agree that the press to consume comes from the bottom up. We are bombarded with manipulative advertising, our corporate culture insists on a place within every human activity. Business interests carry enormous weight: the customer is always wrong … or a victim … or some kind of chum. Business undermines its own interests even as it demands constant debt subsidy. “-Steve

        I never said the press to consume comes from the bottom up, Steve. In fact I said precisely the opposite, which is that those at the top chose to issue the credit to build the railroads and the interstate to create the culture we have before us.

        “We the People” can’t stop what is occurring short of a Global Revoltion because “We the People” are not in control of this and never have been. Electing 3rd Party Puppets won’t do a damn thing to change anything, and if a truly charismatic “Leader” with a great vision stepped in to try to stop the Bailouts he would end up with Bullet meets Brain disease.

        Finally, I don’t see any conflict with the observation that although people are not happy with the status quo, the “solution” to their woes isn’t a life they either want or are prepared at the moment to live. Nor in fact is it even clear that “conservation” will work or is possible to work given the dependence established on Oil. Its not going to be possible to run Big Shities with all their electric lights and water sewage and pumping stations once “conservation” is fully implemented, either by choice or by economics.

        How do you move all those people out of those places and back to the land? You can’t do it. How do you deconstruct 100 years worth of ring roads and McMansions that are completely non-functional without the automobile? You can’t do it. At least not in a manner that itself is going to have vicious blowback.

        Perhaps “Collapse” has already been absorbed into the zeitgeist through pop culture, from Mad Max to Children of Men to Hunger Games. It doesn’t make it wrong just because its been glommed by Hollywood. Whether those apocalyptic depictions are precisely correct or not doesn’t matter. The reality is we have an unsustainable paradigm which is collapsing on itself and we are long since past the point of being able to manage that collapse, if we ever were. The relentless expansion of population and stripping of earth resources began long before the Age of Oil, it began with Agriculture and possibly even before that with the acquisition and control of Fire. As top of the food chain predators, we simply were way too successful. Now we live on a beaten up planet housing far too many locusts in this plague. If there is a solution, it comes in the form of a massive population reduction, and that is not going to happen fast enough with even forced sterilization. Even if you did THAT, you end up with a demographic nightmare of aging people.

        The solution will be imposed as it always has been, by Famine, Pestilence, War and Death. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.


      5. steve from virginia Post author

        Keynes said it best: “in the long run we’re all dead”. What happens between now and then?

        First of all, you have no obligations to do anything, I won’t ask you to do anything (other than not beat up my other visitors). This is a discussion not the Wehrmacht. Part of the point is to see how folks feel about the future … from a more activist angle.

        You aren’t afraid of the activist angle are you?

        None of us has ever experienced a post-industrial society, we can’t imagine what it might be like. How to cope? I don’t know any more than anyone else, but the problems we face are human problems, not an invasion from Outer Space. The only reason we don’t solve these human problems is because we don’t want to. It’s that simple: ‘Now People’ (particularly Americans) are like little children. Nobody has ever said ‘no’ to them. Consequently, nobody knows how … to say no to them. Saying no is a lost art, like plastering.

        I agree to a large degree about the ‘crash idea’. So do a lot of other people. I don’t think it will take place tomorrow. What can be done with a perfectly serviceable tomorrow? Sleep in? Speak with a friend? Why not?

        Why write internet comments? There is a reason that speaks for itself regardless of your words: life is short, after all in the long run we are all dead!


      6. Reverse Engineer

        “irst of all, you have no obligations to do anything, I won’t ask you to do anything (other than not beat up my other visitors). This is a discussion not the Wehrmacht. Part of the point is to see how folks feel about the future … from a more activist angle.”-Steve

        I don’t beat up on anybody who doesn’t throw the first punch 🙂 I also find it a lot more fun to jump in the ring with somebody in the same weight class than to plaster flyweights.

        The activist angle is important, and while I don’t support the 3rd Party idea or working through conventional Political Channels, I’m certainly not out here on the net putting excess mileage on my keyboard fingers because I wanna GIVE UP and throw in the towel.

        My take on it is that we have to wait for the system to implode on itself before any realistic changes can be attempted. The population as a whole is going to have to go through some real PAIN and HARDSHIP before they will let go of the idea that perpetual growth is possible. After all, perpetual growth has had a log standing success rate here for Homo Sapiens, its been ongoing for 70,000 years since Toba knocked down the population to 10,000 Human Souls or 1000 Breeding Pairs.

        The key elements for me are preparation for the world to come, avoidance of the neighborhoods most likely to experience the worst aspects of the collapse and developing IN THEORY at least a paradigm that could be pursued afterward that would lead to a Better Tomorrow.

        I’m not a Hopeless Uber-Doomer who will capitulate to the idea that this is an Extinction Level Event. Neither do I grasp hold of Doom Lite ideas, like changing our Political Leadership or building Greeny Windmills will resolve our problems. I fit into what I call “Full Doom”, which postulates that rebuild cannot occur until all or at least most of the Conduits built throught he Age of Oil have collapsed into catastrophic failure mode. This appears to me to be already well underway.

        Meanwhile what to do? Duck and Cover. Get as far away as you can from the Collapse Center, the Big Shities built on the thermodynamic energy of Oil. Make connections locally, and work on redundant systems which can take over when the Oil based systems fail. Let the Nation State wither and die, don’t support it and in fact do the best you can to undermine its further existence. All these are Active things you can do which could help to create a Better Tomorrow.


  3. Ken Barrows

    Your idea might work better if more than 0.1% of American gave up the idea of perpetual growth. I don’t know about you, but I don’t see anyone saying a discouraging word about “growth.” To pick up on Greer’s idea, who wants to change her lifestyle first?

    1. steve from virginia Post author

      The economists are pimping growth for all its worth. So is (defunct) EU leadership. Meanwhile, growth itself is finished. Who are you going to believe, an economist or your lying eyes?

      Growth itself is a cultural artifact: the economists are doubly-wrong. Culture says that growth is the central function of the economic man, whose duty is to promote it by any and all means.

      The hardest task is to change culture when it is more hegemonic and compulsive than any political regime. The greatest sin is to be unfashionable, the greatest individual desire is to be part of the ‘in crowd’.

  4. Ross

    “Seventy percent of Americans believe in the existence of angels. Fifty percent believe that the earth has been visited by UFOs; in another poll, 70 percent believed that the U.S. government is covering up the presence of space aliens on earth. Forty percent did not know whom the U.S. fought in World War II. Forty percent could not locate Japan on a world map. Fifteen percent could not locate the United States on a world map. Sixty percent of Americans have not read a book since leaving school. Only 6 percent now read even one book a year. According to a very familiar statistic that nonetheless cannot be repeated too often, the average American’s day includes six minutes playing sports, five minutes reading books, one minute making music, 30 seconds attending a play or concert, 25 seconds making or viewing art, and four hours watching television.”

    This country is too ignorant for civics. Moreover, the political system has been calcified for two centuries to assure that the stranglehold on the three branches never slips too far from the masters hand.

    Representative districts, gerrymandering, filibustering, Presidential vetoes. This is what (American) democracy looks like.

    Which reminds me, ain’t never been no damn democracy.

    A Republic, if you can keep it.

    1. Reverse Engineer

      “Sixty percent of Americans have not read a book since leaving school. Only 6 percent now read even one book a year. According to a very familiar statistic that nonetheless cannot be repeated too often, the average American’s day includes six minutes playing sports, five minutes reading books, one minute making music, 30 seconds attending a play or concert, 25 seconds making or viewing art, and four hours watching television.”-Ross

      No statistics on how much time anyone spends on Writing. 🙁 Is 4 hours a day too much? Maybe I need to cut back.


      1. steve from virginia Post author

        You have to watch that carpal tunnel business, RE. Keyboarding is hard work.

        Ross, the civics idea should be pretty neutral. Values are a good lever because it is hard to argue a) against them and, b) that you cannot understand them.

  5. Jb

    In order for a third party to come to fruition, I think it must either have:

    Strong support from a narrow, fervent base of the population concerned with one issue, such as ‘job creation’ or ‘eliminating corruption.’ This party must attract the disenchanted Democrats and Republican voters away from their base.

    Or, a broad base of the population willing to transcend the side-show issues of abortion, gay marriage, entitlements vs. social programs, etc. for a broader platform of serious reform. This is exactly what Obama capitalized on.

    However, I think a political platform that includes deep energy efficiency or any form of limits on consumption, health care, entitlements, etc. is a non-starter. Attempting to rewrite 30+ years of the Carter Doctrine is political suicide. Cheney didn’t tell us that the American way of life was non-negotiable – we did.

    At this point in our experiment, how do overcome the well greased machine of the mil/industrial complex? How do we bring true investigative journalism back to the media? How do we remove the lobbyists and vote buying inside the Beltway? We’ve talked about this for decades and it’s only gotten worse.

    So, under what circumstances can I envision a third party forming? We certainly didn’t do it in the ‘best of times.’ Call me a pessimist but I’d say as a result of a nuclear event on US soil, international war with domestic rationing, or global economic chaos. None of these will result in a rational decision making process.

    Looking at the outcomes of the current elections in Egypt and France, I think you are (mostly) correct:

    “Growth cannot be restarted. These parties will be replaced by the next round of even more marginal parties and politicians (and/or…) extremists…’ Our future is happening now in other parts of the world.

    1. Ellen Anderson

      Right – but it doesn’t hurt to be ready with a program for what you think might work. How to deal with money is a big issue. How to deal with creatures of the state such as corporations is another one. That is where I would start if I were putting together a movement or reinvigorating a pre-existing one.
      You could also bring people together around other things like repealing certain horrid laws. But first you have to get people to shut off their TVs. There isn’t time to watch TV and be an active citizen.
      Whatever comes next after collapse will have some resemblance to what we have now. Unless, of course, there are only a few people left alive in some remote places.

      1. steve from virginia Post author

        Thanks …

        A focused (narrow) approach is a good idea. Pick an idea and hammer away at it. ‘Accountability’ by itself is too vague.

        Obama really captured people’s imagination in 2008. His organization was put in place largely by campaign professionals (Howard Dean gets the credit however). Something like this cannot be created out of thin air. (Young) people liked the Obama ‘idea’ which in turn became an easy sell.

        A lot of folks who supported Obama in 2008 have migrated toward the Occupy movement. Obama turned out to be a Wall Street sock puppet, what a let-down for his supporters. These guys were very idealistic (and naive), of course I didn’t meet all of them. There might be a handful of cynics in that bunch.

        I recall Carter stumbled because he allowed himself to be played by the Iranians. He misread the situation there as a hostage taking instead of a foreign policy challenge. Had Carter convinced the Iranians to promptly release his people in Tehran he would have been easily re-elected. Carter appeared to fail without a fight.

        Dealing with the money: Americans spend the most to receive the least political returns. From where I sit, the better approach would be the one that costs least.

        At this point in our experiment, how do overcome the well greased machine of the mil/industrial complex? How do we bring true investigative journalism back to the media? How do we remove the lobbyists and vote buying inside the Beltway? We’ve talked about this for decades and it’s only gotten worse.

        These are ‘money phenomena’ which in turn is more capture, what Simon Johnson called the ‘Quiet Coup’. Right now the weight of interest lies with the big companies. This isn’t a permanent state of affairs.

        So, under what circumstances can I envision a third party forming? We certainly didn’t do it in the ‘best of times.’

        We didn’t need to in the best(ish) of times. We had vanity parties instead: Ross ‘Juan’ Perot and Ralph Nader. Nader should have run for Congress in 2002, starting in the trenches and building a constituency. Perot and other 3d party candidates could have done the same thing.

        Didn’t …

      2. Ellen Anderson

        You are right. It is tough and unromantic to be in the trenches and these guys all love to be in the spotlight. I have friends who love to write letters to the editor and make speeches but they won’t come to Town Meeting and fight it out with people who aren’t like them. Carter didn’t really start in the trenches either. Had he done so he might made some better moves.
        I don’t know. The past always looks so inevitable. Could things have been otherwise?

      3. Jb

        “Right – but it doesn’t hurt to be ready with a program for what you think might work.”

        Agreed, but look at Katrina. Unless one thinks that the federal response to Katrina was some sort of experiment in social behavior, the glimpse behind the green curtain wasn’t pretty. I tend to think that the government is mostly incompetent, not run by some secret organization. Any third party is going to inherit this mess much like the military in Egypt.

        Carter may have failed without a fight, but the doctrine has been incorporated into our American entitlement mythology. It remains as our default policy.

        Agreed: we didn’t form a third party because we didn’t need to. My point was we won’t form one now unless we need to. The question is: what will it take? Whatever it is, we’re not there yet. OWS is in the dark believing that reforms will return us to prosperity as commonly defined. Welcome to Tahrir Square.

        I hope your friends inside the Beltway are taking notes.

  6. Sandor

    I like the platform, however I doubt that more than 5% of Americans will. The culture rejects the notion of ‘limits’ and ‘you can’t do that’. Responsibility may be the root virtue, but our culture misinterprets this concept as ‘guilt’ or ‘lawsuit’ or ‘superiority’. Most Americans eschew the idea of responsibility from the get-go. They want to be irresponsible, to consume 25% of the global energy supply, and face no consequences. Even the Occupy Wall Street crowd doesn’t get it. They seem to think that all deserve $20/hr because they are… American. Never mind the $2/day laborer in India.

    There are several third parties in this country already. Why are they marginalized in a ‘free press’ culture? Inertia, herding instinct, the embedded value of money channeled through familiar channels. Most Americans are not idealists or philosophers. They want their goodies. Now they want their jobs back. But not at $5/hr. That’s ‘unfair’. The first step I’ve taken with other Americans is to suggest boycotting all Democrats and Republicans, period, no exceptions. If you do that, then you have to start *thinking* beyond throwing the light switch on or off. If you can get that far, then start talking about the dangerous and seductive lie of perpetual ‘growth’.

    I actually think if you can write an entertaining screenplay for a risk-taking, savvy Hollywood producer starring teenagers or superheroes that introduces these concepts and follows the thoughts through, you will have a far greater effect on the political discourse of the future than trying to jumpstart a better Tea Party.

    1. steve from virginia Post author

      Writing a comic-book screenplay … pretty funny but true. It is how to frame the idea/discussion so that it ‘goes down easy’.

      The public mind is conditioned by advertising which frames expectations. The entire social system is structured around contrivance … as well as the political system. The result is the closed circle, open only to someone who can fly through the hole in the roof in long underwear.

      If someone has the wrong kind of expectations, they are a ‘failure’ (or a heretic/subversive. Being a failure is worse than being anything else.)

      The system itself that is running aground on its own contradictions, one of these is the false expectations. I look at the Athenians who answer polls by saying they want to keep the euro even if (when) it kills them. The Athenians are a) stupid, b) misled, c) fantasizing and d) caught up in a non-linear event that few want to analyze for fear of seeing the truth. Alarms go off when those who play by the rules are failed. The greater danger is in the failing rather than those who point it out.

      The pointer insists the system is broken and the system manager denies it. The end of the day the manager is irrelevant, everyone within reach is busy trying to cope with the failure’s consequences.

      This is a predictable (cultural) dynamic. Ideas are born, they gain currency/gather nourishment then flourish during ‘their time’ … then they exhaust themselves and become irrelevant. The ‘USA-idea’ is no different from the ‘Mersey Beat idea’ or the ‘hula-hoop idea’. Annette Funicello is nobody’s dream girl any more: her fate is identical to that of corporate socialism. Rationalizations can keep up appearances but only for a little while.

      That’s why it’s hard to take USA cultural overreach too seriously. The country has hitched its wagon … not to a star, but to an ad campaign. It defines Americanism a certain way: stupid, uninformed, entitled, spoiled, lazy, childish, violent, what have you. Once someone — anyone — stops believing the ads … the game is over.

      1. Reverse Engineer

        “Writing a comic-book screenplay … pretty funny but true. It is how to frame the idea/discussion so that it ‘goes down easy’.”-Steve

        Speaking of which, I published another Doomstead Diner Comic Strip, [url=]Skiing Down the S&P 500[/url] on the Diner Blog today. 🙂


  7. Reverse Engineer

    “Even the Occupy Wall Street crowd doesn’t get it. They seem to think that all deserve $20/hr because they are… American. Never mind the $2/day laborer in India.”-Sandor

    No, I think 99%/OWS/J6P feels he deserves $20/hr because Jamie Dimon takes home $20,000/hr. If the economy is structured so you NEED $20/hr just to meet the bills, then yea J6P deserves that for his work.

    What does $20/hr buy you Sandor? That translates to around $40K/year, of which you lose $10K right off the top in taxes. Then pay your medical insurance, fuel bills yadda yadda and if you can make ends meet without going into debt you are doing pretty good.

    The economies of places like Egypt where people subsist on $2 a day are entirely different in structure. If that is what J6P will be paid here, your RE valuations are going to have to drop [b]substantially[/b], more than an order of magnitude since they are already unaffordable at $20/hr. Really, you couldn’t even FEED yourself here on $2/day, even buying the cheapest foods on the Walmart Shelves.

    Not saying that J6P would be happy living on a $2/day wage, but he might live with it if Lloyd Blankfein is not out there pulling down $20K/hr for sitting on his ass and losing taxpayer money. Inequitable Wealth distribution is the driver behind the $20/hr “demand” of OWS/J6P.

    As long as there is enough wealth out there, EVERYBODY deserves a wage that will allow them to live with some dignity inside their economic system. A system which allows a few to take great wealth at the expense of the many is not sustainable, and will not be sustained. Count on it.


    1. Sandor

      My point is that OWS is using the wrong metric. It doesn’t matter what Jamie Dimon makes. It doesn’t matter that there are billionaires. What matters is how many people are on the planet, how much energy needs to be converted to maintain the ‘dignity’ you speak of for all 7 billion people. The unemployed living off the govie dole in the USA have it better than billions of ‘hard-working’ people on the planet. If by dignity you mean a job that doesn’t involve indentured servitude, there are plenty of places in the world where one can apply physical labor for 8-12 hrs a day every day of the year and live a subsistence lifestyle with ‘dignity’.

      OWS doesn’t get it. Americans, for the most part, have elevated expectations of ‘dignity’. That’s all fine. Aim high, etc. It’s all about ‘fairness’ until you start talking about the $2/day Indian. Then the concept of ‘fairness’ goes right out the window. It’s shortsighted and hypocritical. If there are more people than an economy needs, the people need to move, or they will have to be fed the scraps. And paying people not to work breeds a dependent underclass of people who lose hope in themselves.

      I have no objections to a Swedish style system with far greater income equality. But even they have wealthy industrialists. Income redistribution in and of itself is not the answer. The values of the culture have to change. American workers don’t want income ‘equality’. Not really. If they did, they wouldn’t vote for the clowns who hand out tax breaks to corporations and millionaires. Most Americans have refused to engage the issue of overconsumption and energy waste. And even many who do continue to support the corporatocracy because they ‘have to work with the system to get anything done.’ Steve’s Responsibility Party wants to get people to say ‘the (binge) party’s over’ while the music still plays and the booze flows. Buzzkill. Chicken Little doesn’t score big points in the USA until the sky falls. Americans will probably have to hit bottom before a third party is welcome with open arms.

      1. Reverse Engineer

        “My point is that OWS is using the wrong metric. It doesn’t matter what Jamie Dimon makes. It doesn’t matter that there are billionaires. What matters is how many people are on the planet, how much energy needs to be converted to maintain the ‘dignity’ you speak of for all 7 billion people.”-Sandor

        It DOES matter what Jamie Dimon makes. 1 person making $10M/yr is the equivalent of 1000 people making $10K/yr. People who see that and the wasteful and consumptive lifestyles of the rich and famous don’t see why they should not have a piece of this pie also. Your not going to encourage conservation when those at the top waste the most.

        Dignity is a relative thing in a society. In a poor farming community in the 3rd world, you live a dignified life if you have a hovel to sleep in and can keep a decent part of the produce from the land you work. You do not live a dignified life if its taxed from under you or you can’t sell the produce at a price which allows you to buy the other items a dignified life requires in that society, like clothes. Some societies don’t even require clothes to live a dignified life, but they are few and far between these days of course.

        Inside the society created during the Age of Oil, a dignified life meant having a house powered by electricity with a refrigerator to preserve food and hot and cold running water and flush toilets. I remember when I was a kid recently returned from Brasil when we didn’t have a car. To get our groceries, my mom would walk 6 blocks pulling a shopping cart. Relative to the norm around us, this was undignified.

        In my mother’s youth, she lived in a cold-water tenement on the lower East Side of New York, and her mother ran a rag shop to make ends meet during the Great Depression. Relative to the Fat Cats on the Upper East side, they were living an undignified life.

        Cross culturally speaking, obviously we cannot all afford the energy required to live a dignified life by the standards of the Age of Oil, the problem would be working the society back toward a situation where living in cold water flats and pulling your groceries in a shopping cart is relatively dignified. This is not going to be the case if right under your nose the Elite of your society a Globe Trotting in Gulfstream V Private Jets, so what the 1% STEALS here is very important.

        Before you can lower the expectations of the society as a whole, the leadership of that society needs to come back down to earth and land those Private Jets. Until then, J6P will EXPECT a $20/hr wage to live a dignified life in this society.


      2. steve from virginia Post author

        Population is one of the big, existential problems we need to engage publicly rather than sweeping under the rug, along with climate, finance and of course policy.

        Discussing isn’t enough, steps need to be taken: people want to take the steps, they need to tools.

        Part of this discussion is the idea that the current suite of business tactics are sacrosanct. “Nobody will make Americans conserve!” “Americans will never change!” Today = forever.

        The business tactics are ideas, they come and go with the other fads. With some perspective you can see where people have changed again and again without breaking a sweat: after the civil rights upheavals in the 1950s-60s current social adjustments are minor. The neighborhood I live in has changed from white to Hispanic … nobody cares.

        The big change in most people’s lives is their relationship with their commercial ‘betters’. Instead of being ‘always right’ the customer is now somewhere between being a dog to be beaten and ‘bag lunch’. This is where Dimon-ism comes into play. He’s the stick fist and we are the dogs. A lot of people think this to be un-American (which it isn’t but that is because Americans are ‘historically challenged’).

        The kids are caught up in something they don’t understand, there is no moral clarity on the part of the establishment so providing some is the road to take.

  8. Pingback: You CANNOT Make Something from Nothing | Doomstead Diner

  9. dolph

    You want the truth, Steve? You can’t handle the truth.

    This Titanic is coming down.

    I am NOT interested in forming a committee and debating who is going to be Captain America. I’m headed for the lifeboats, and in the process reaffirming the life instinct, what 4 billion years of evolution have taught me to do.

    My friends are the people with me on the lifeboats, and the people who know how to head for them.

    1. steve from virginia Post author

      There is no obligation of any kind. You are free to do without any permission from me … what it is you feel the need to do. I appreciate your showing up to say hello.


  10. Robert

    Man, I just gotta say it. There are a LOT of doomers posting here. The fact is that the world will NOT run out of oil tomorrow or even the next day. What we are facing is resource constraint that can be dealt with as long as the decline is slow and orderly enough. The lousy state of our government stems from apathy. Hard times tend to wake people up. When enough people wake up, we could get a new party or even reform of the old ones.

    Some nice ideas Steve, including the income/net worth limitation on party membership. Didn’t Plato say something about leaders needing to be relieved of the burdens of material wealth if they were to make good decisions? That would lend some credibility to the people running for office. Forgot about oil scarcity, right now I’d say our government has just about completely run out of credibility. We are even past the point of running on fumes. The Tea Party and OWS are all the proof you need.

    1. cg

      The world isn’t going run out out of oil tomorrow, sure, but (speaking generally) you and most of your friends won’t get to have much or any. Let’s hope the farmers get enough, you know the military will get what they want. A few decades ago, Carter administration, I went to the Hudson River Institute (Herman Kahn, author of MAD, mutual assured destruction) in NY to pick up a copy (3 inches thick) of a study they had just done on water. I read the summary, thought that was enough. There’s plenty of water, they claimed, there’s only a distribution problem, no problem.
      So, there’s plenty of money, only a distribution problem, scarce resources, good will and good health, ammo and bad intentions, the same.

      A slow and orderly decline, there’s debate about that. I would hope there is, fear there is not. The Seneca cliff. Complex systems are thought to be more resilient, our economic systems have been simplified, the better for the money to rise to the top. Our system of government is being reduced to a police state. Just in time inventories, vulnerable. Long lines of supply, vulnerable. But only distribution problems.

      What there’s plenty of and well distributed in the US: suburban tracts dependent on oil or gas and electricity. Worthless. Infrastructure building in this country has been marginalized the same as consumer goods, built cheap and designed to be replaced. What capital we have left needs to be building supportable infrastructure for a resource constrained future. Jobs for the future, stonemasons, farmers, seamstresses, shoemakers, horse breeders, hell if I know, I actually think that’s all optimistic.

      Practically, instead of a Tea party we need a Garden party, instead of a Victory garden we’ll need a Survival garden. The deer will go quickly, wood will be burning everywhere.
      I voted for Ross Perot years ago, not because I liked him or his issues, but because he could well have brought fresh blood to Washington. Burn down the old growth, all that. I lived there for many years, knew some players, and after I left tried to sum it up like this: The last thing Washington needs, the government, the shadow government, the Pentagon, is one more smart person. It’s a giant taffy pull, in every possible direction, where is the purpose? The professional ruling class, can’t see the forest for the trees, all that. The Best and the Brightest, that was a couple generations ago, the last generation, they went into banking and money, another waste. Harvard and Yale, by human survival standards they produced failures. Twenty-five years ago I joked that the national purpose was to build a better car than the Japanese. We didn’t really care enough to try. What’s the national purpose now? Maybe we could all have our own personal drones half-a-world away and instead of video games we could actually be killing right from our living rooms.

      Another party, love it, but I’m having trouble imagining what will give it cohesion. Maybe a charismatic leader will appear, that’s risky, Obama was that for many, they misread him. When circumstances become dire enough that another party is viable, that will be a dangerous period. The truth, we all love it, but it’s relative. There’s always been misdirection and disinformation, but they are so much better distributed now than ever before.

  11. rcg1950

    From the comments here it is apparent that the nature of our predicament is really other than what it appears to be on the surface. The problem it turns out is not economic foolishness, or physical world constraints and resource limitations. Rather the root cause of our predicament is about what has happened to ordinary men and woman over the last 100+ years — what they’ve by and large come to believe in and hope for and fear.

    For scores of years now Western people have lived in an easy and secure setting, one in which giant institutions — organized and created by others now long gone — have provided for every necessity and almost every desire with seeming effortlessness. This has rendered the average person cowardly, stupid, avaricious, close minded and paradoxically at the same time, with a highly inflated opinion of him/herself and their ideas (which are not their ideas at all but simply whatever commonplace blew into or was planted and took root in their brain stems). It is this fact rather than any special exigencies of the time that makes ordinary problems difficult and difficult problems ‘wicked hard.’

    The stupidification of the people (even smart and talented individuals can be rendered stupid) has been going on for multiple generations and the mass production of truly defective people from the moral and characteralogical standpoint is profound. So much so that it’s hard to disagree with the sense of the comments here that it may be way past the point where things can be reformed and health reestablished. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but if there is a ‘cure’ or a road back, I think it is going to be much different looking than the usual kind of politics. And I think it will require a situation to unfold in which people are disabused of their silly beliefs without becoming so disillusioned or fearful that they turn to a succession of men on white horses to save them. Extend and pretend as a logarithmic decay function may be a prerequisite for whatever chance there is to effect a way out of this morass.

    Wish I had something more positive to say here.

    1. Ellen Anderson

      It occurs to me that, in this secular age, we have replaced the notion of original sin with original stupidity. For what it is worth, I think there is plenty of sin and stupidity in our species. However, most of the actual individuals I have met are neither as evil nor as stupid as one might suppose given the mess we are in right now. Plus, no amount of wailing is going to improve human nature one bit. The whole point of politics and economics is trying to deal with this situation.

      So, while we are waiting for whatever is bearing down upon us, why not talk about how things might be or ought to be done differently? My initial suggestions, other than trying to implement the Golden Rule: 1) no permanent corporations, 2) no usury, and 3) no physical or psychic beating up on your animals or people (unless they start the fight.) Also 4) improve your soils and 5) protect your water supplies.

      1. rcg1950

        I too agree. Just cryin in my beer.

        There is no magic bullet, no grand solution. Anything not starting small and from the bottom up is just going to be more pop-culture bogus change you can’t believe in.

  12. Pingback: On Dignity and Comparative Wealth | Doomstead Diner

    1. Reverse Engineer

      “How about we form a third party that just promises to tell (expose) the truth?”-Jb

      We already have that. It’s called “The Blogger Party”.

      Try bringing all the Bloggers together though. That Dog Just Won’t Hunt. Believe me, I am trying, but it’s a SLOG.


      1. steve from virginia Post author

        This is the problem with ALL bloggers (and other writers for that matter). Normally, writing is a solitary activity. This is why people like to write, they can get away from people. The internet is a half-step away from actual writing but the fundamentals remain …

        The blogger has his/her conversation (with him/herself) and it’s comfortable. There is nothing out of place in the ol’ man cave: refrigerator nearby w/ beer. No schedule, read the WSJ or FT and blither. Mebby you make money (Mish) and maybe you don’t. Beats bricklaying (talking from experience).

        What comes next? At some point the conversation has to die. This is because the conversation takes on a life of its own, it becomes a ‘thing’ that needs care/feeding. To move on means going outside, beyond the man-cave. Real people have to happen, then reality itself.

        Are bloggers ‘the truth’? I was ‘edumacated’ to understand that truth is subjective, it depends on viewpoint. ‘Information’ is subject to framing (on the part of the describer) and bias (on the part of the listener/audience). George Carlin could say a lot of (true) things about America that few politicians would feel comfortable saying. The audience for Carlin had different expectations than Mitt Romney’s: Carlin’s lies were funny. From the politician, the same lies are ‘hopeful’.

        The idea of the party is the idea of going outside with some other purpose than going to get more beer.

      2. Reverse Engineer

        “This is the problem with ALL bloggers (and other writers for that matter). Normally, writing is a solitary activity. This is why people like to write, they can get away from people. The internet is a half-step away from actual writing but the fundamentals remain …

        The blogger has his/her conversation (with him/herself) and it’s comfortable. There is nothing out of place in the ol’ man cave: refrigerator nearby w/ beer. No schedule, read the WSJ or FT and blither. Mebby you make money (Mish) and maybe you don’t. Beats bricklaying (talking from experience). “-Steve

        I suppose this is true for most Bloggers, but not this one.

        I don’t view writing as a “solitary activity”, I prefer to engage in DIALOGUE. This of course why I incessantly troll EU here, and TAE as well. In fact as I have remarked before, I only came into the Blogger world Kicking and Screaming out of necessity, after getting my ass booted off so many OPBs. I’m basically a Commenter really, I read something and then it sets me off commenting on it. Of course, some (most?) of my commentary is so long it needs its own platform, thus I ended up as a Blogger by default.

        Anyhow, I’ve been trying to drag other Bloggers into Discussion and Debate in the Diner, with the notable success of Ashvin Pandurangi of TAE, but otherwise EPIC FAIL, including so far such notables as Slogger John Ward, OFWs Gail Tverberg and Brandon Smith of Alt-Market. Yourself also of course Steve, who although you DID finally sign up as a Diner your presence on the board is pretty non-existent.

        Unlike many Bloggers though, you DO regularly engage your commentariat in Debate, so it’s not like you are an isolated Writer either. You also DO periodically show up on TAE, and Zero Hedge also, although anybody’s commentary there quickly gets lost.

        Anyhow, I still think it is important to consolidate all the disparate dialogue going on the net at the moment, so despite the Ted Nugent’s House flavor in the Diner, you should make your presence felt there more. JMHO.


      3. steve from virginia Post author

        First of all, I’m not a writer rather a pretender. I’m becoming antsy about the remove away from ‘outside’. I like it outside, I like the risk, I like dodging the Ustashe. Comfort is the step before dying. I don’t want to get trapped in a ‘blog’ whatever that is.

        If you consolidate articles/viewpoints the volume becomes too great. More volume, less quality. Next, the beasties/spammers/graffiti ‘artists’ take over. ZH has become worthless for all practical purposes. It’s all ‘money printing’, ‘gold bitchez’ and hate. Where does one go from there? (Nowhere.)

        There is a ‘story arc’ of the blogosphere. Beginning, fringe-ish ‘stability’, either a flood (ZH) or irrelevance. How many times does someone need to read Ward’s ‘bollocks’? Times and situations change: TAE seems to have passed Ilargi and SL. The Oil Drum is not as it was before/during the Macondo blowout. About some things there is only so much that can be said. There has to be a second act.

        Meanwhile, the large media is The House of Lies.

        Things must be done in addition to describing the need for things to be done (by others). What to do? Where is there a leverage opportunity? The ‘witty exchanges online’ only go so far, where will there be some spasmodic reactions in the real world?

        Okay, one can grow a garden and escape from the corroded system. That is a good idea, particularly for young people who have the energy and time to come to terms with (changing) nature. The idea is intriguing but …

        I don’t agree that things can’t be changed. I am old enough to remember the Beatles. ‘Four dudes with guitars, what can they do?’ Um … nuthin’.

        It is possible to make something from nothing.

      4. cg

        Things can be changed! There is the (disputed origination) quote from Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

      5. Reverse Engineer

        “If you consolidate articles/viewpoints the volume becomes too great. More volume, less quality. Next, the beasties/spammers/graffiti ‘artists’ take over. ZH has become worthless for all practical purposes. It’s all ‘money printing’, ‘gold bitchez’ and hate. Where does one go from there? (Nowhere.)”

        I’ve BTDT Steve, I know the pitfalls that can either lead to irrelevance or a spam fest. Not to mention of course the Napalm Contests. IMHO however, it’s rather defeatist thinking to say you cannot Consolidate without a devolution to spam or irrelevance.

        Information Overload is a problem, but it is as much a problem with TOO MANY Blogs to read as it is with one Blog with TOO MUCH to read. Fundamentally though, the lack of cross communication between Blogs makes developing a synthesis impossible. The trick is to develop a structure which allows for tiered levels of discussion, and that is what I hope to build over time.

        ZH fails because the commentariat as you say becomes overwhelmed with “Gold, Bitchez!” commentary. However, deep within the bowels there are also some very GOOD commenters. So you can if your software is correct tier it up and sieve out the valuable commenters fromthe spammers.

        I have not had to do that as of yet because the Diner is still quite small (and may remain so). However, if it does grow, I will just tier it up with varying levels of access. Write good commentary, you “Graduate” into the next tier up. Write trash, you stay down in the swamp with the rest of the lower forms of life.

        “I don’t agree that things can’t be changed. I am old enough to remember the Beatles. ‘Four dudes with guitars, what can they do?’ Um … nuthin’. ”

        I remember the Beatles too Steve. They created Music, they did not creat Zero Point Energy. Any changes they created were just social in nature, their music most certainly did not make society any more sustainable.

        “It is possible to make something from nothing.”-Steve

        It is not. You argue this case yourself when you explain that there is no real “Growth”, just an exchange of one set of resources for another set of Waste. Creation of Music and Ideas is not the tangible creation of something from nothing, and that is what I am referring to here. Modern economics attempts to create Value out of Nothingness, merely by endless creation of credit. This is so obviously fallacious that it is a wonder indeed that the game can be played as long as it is being played.

        Again, you yourself noted over on TAE that the Eurotrash cannot even write into existence new currency, because in fact they have no real collateral to do that with.

        You CANNOT make something from Nothing.


    2. steve from virginia Post author

      You know Jimmy Carter promised he would never lie …

      He was done in by the sweater. Gawd it was ugly, he needed a Steve McQueen leather jacket and some cool shades. Americans love(d) irony and have abandoned sincerity (Elvis?).

      When Elvis crooned, “Love me … tender, love me, sweet … never let me go,” you knew he meant it. Sincerity made Elvis a star. Johnny Rotten on the other hand … Carter could have been a pop star: Grease-ball on a rampage. He really needed that leather jacket. He was a corn-cob pipe hillbilly rather than the Johnny Cash “I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die,” variety. He needed more liquor, less Baptists. Carter drunk on TV and Americans would have loved him, passionately, feverishly, furiously in that fantasy, unrequited white-woman sort of way. Carter was way to prissy and ‘holy-er than thou’. He needed to make a big show of ripping out the furnace in the White House (there actually is no furnace in the White House) and letting the staff freeze. “Fuck you, wear longjohns!” he would growl. “It’s not cold in here, you pussies.” A little well chosen foul language would have gone a long way: “Eat shit and die OPEC motherfuckers!” A little imagination and Carter could have put OPEC out of business for a long time. Instead of being America’s big sissy … he could have been somebody.

      Now he builds cheap houses. whoopie …

      The Žižek article is a timely examination of non-linearity. Go to sleep in Athens, wake up in Zagreb. Dodge the Ustashe on your way to the grocery store. Can Greece survive (and can a once-peripheral political regime help it along)? It depends.

      First of all, the (Syriza) party in question was a microbe a year ago: the voters/supporters are fickle and the foundation of support is patchwork. Which straw will supporters grab next? A party isn’t one person but an idea. From here it looks as if the idea is incomplete. The race is on for the idea to flesh itself out before the resources to do so are gone. Fleshing out may require too much. Here is a problem of no party until needed: “in case of emergency break glass”.

      Second, Greece is yesterday’s news. Tomorrow is Spain then China or Spain then France or Spain and Japan and China and France all together. What happens with China becomes Greece? The stripping process is accelerating. Three years ago the Greek problems emerged. The final collapse was a matter of futility, a few months then gone. Spanish problems emerged last year even though the concerns were visible during the Spanish building spree long before. There is a sense of inevitability to all this. Spain will fall faster than Greece. China will fall faster still: you fall asleep in Beijing, wake up in Zagreb! This may or may not be ‘truth’ — clairvoyance is hard — but it is unlike all the rosy lies about ‘decoupling’ and ‘confidence’ that prove to be less credible with each passing day.

      We’ll see what happens. I sense that new parties in Europe will morph into old parties to give the wheel one more spin. At this point there is little left to lose. The space between ‘discredited’ to ‘utterly and totally discredited’ is very small.

      What happens afterward …?

      1. Sandor

        The new inversion, to borrow a phrase from an old friend – ‘cool is out of style’. That’s what the ideological part of this puzzle is about. The value-attitude ‘problem’ that we face: most people want more (pleasure) for less (effort). This is ‘efficiency’. Having gone too far in this direction, we now need to reverse this: less (pain-awareness-escape) for more (reality). Now, reality is a non-sell. It just is. And it’s tricky territory when you start projecting future reality unless most everyone agrees winter is coming.

        But the first sign that such a reversal has taken root is when fashion itself becomes unfashionable. ‘Pop will eat itself’. This is the revulsion/repudiation phase of the addiction cycle (well after the presently well-documented ‘denial’ phase), for those who don’t take the suicide/overdose route. It will happen.

        What happens afterward may be some kind of dispersed tribal scientific Taoism (Fritjof Capra et al) whereby people stop worshiping at the altar of ‘more power’ and dig perceiving connections among our great latticed web of being. To get there we will have to stabilise, and in the short run this could mean less freedom and heightened states of fear ‘out there’. Long run, demilitarization and the withering of nation-states needs to happen. Politically, this spells many small localised Healthy Garden Parties.

      2. cg

        “Spain will fall faster than Greece. China will fall faster still”

        And what if China says ‘The buck stops here?’ If the stripping appears inevitable to them, they might prefer to have us stripped first. Scenarios, I don’t really know anything, but I expect there to be painful throes. The US is the most wasteful, that point is not lost on the rest of the world, and we’re disliked by many for other good reasons. When there is enough pain there will be unreasonable actions.

        There is no modeling or war-gaming that can tell us where we’re going. Imagine you’re balancing a marble on flat tray. The forces are in balance, you can move the marble around to one area or another. But when control is lost the marble goes to the floor, and then we can’t know where it will end up, we think one way, but it hits a chair leg and goes the opposite, or any direction at all. Spaceship Earth, that little blue marble in space, where it is and will be is knowable and predictable, it’s heads that will roll.

  13. Ellen Anderson

    Oil prices dropping like they are stoned, I mean stones. So will there be any gas at the pump when we hop into our carz to go to Walmart to pick up our solar panels? Better hurry.

    Do you ever wonder what Jimmy Carter thinks about all of this?

    No matter whether we are on the inside or outside it is amazing to be here watching the show and really good to be able to talk to people you would never have met without the internet. Enjoy it while we can. Thanks for the blog.

    1. Reverse Engineer

      No kidding on the Oil Prices, or the S&P or Bond Yields either. About every chart shows us to be on the right shoulder and heading DOWN with a Bullet here.

      The cascade in Europe appears now to be taking on a whole new dimension, in the course of a few days it has moved quickly from Spanish Bank implosion over to Italian Bonds, and now Moody’s has downgraded DENMARK as well. Denmark? Where did that come from, right? Denmark isn’t Club Med or PIIGS.

      The Euro is PLUMMETING here, and while some analysts see a braking point at $1.19 with a rebound thereafter, I am not too sure what besides Hopium and the theory that Helicopter Ben will print TRILLIONS backstops that idea.

      How LONG we still have to hash out these problems on the net congenially seems ever more shortened by the day. If/when the Euro collapses, the International Banking system as we know it is FUBAR. Neither Renminby or the Dollar can stand long after a Euro collapse.

      Tomorrow looks to be lively again on the markets.

      Short the Phone Book.


  14. Gaianne


    A very interesting post–and the comments it provoked were good, too. But I will admit to being surprised: A third party? Really? Which is to say, yes I really do believe we are committed to complete collapse of our civilization. The window for anything else closed a while back–the Club of Rome updated their original Limits to Growth at the turn of the 21st century and concluded the window closed in the 1970s or 1980s, and that seems about right to me. But what does collapse mean? Not the end of the world, certainly, nor even–likely–the end of humans in North America. But I do think that our descendents will be living in ways and holding values that are pretty much unrecognizable to Americans living today.

    So, in effect, I am a doomer. Most of my friends are not: They believe that economic growth and a resurgence of justice are about to return. I love it that the Occupy Movement is fighting injustice, but I do think they do not understand that growing injustice and official lawlessness are symptoms rather than a causes of our troubles. A minority–a large minority but still a minority–of my friends are starting to think about survival, and such basics as food, water, and warmth in cold weather. An organic garden of 520 square feet of beds has kept two people in all vegetables for two seasons of the year, and that is not our only food, but this is not quite self-sufficiency. It is only a beginning. Many activists do not understand that they can neither reform nor overthrow a system on which they depend abjectly for everyday life. Which is one reason a third party is currently useless: Until people have gained some self-sufficiency and independence from the system they have no bargaining power nor leverage over it at all.

    Certainly I have been trying to persuade others to think and act along these lines, but success is modest, a few hear, but most quite frankly just don’t want to think about it. They find it “too depressing,” which I suppose it is, but since when does reality care if you are depressed? At some point you have to decide whether you wish to live or die, but until you decide to live, you just are not going to act constructively.

    It was natural for me to think that collapse would be fast–and it might be–but the housing bubble has taught me to get prepared for a long grind. At least a year before the housing market peaked and froze (quit functioning) there were plenty of people in blogland who saw that no other outcome was possible (and why) but still events took forever to actually transpire. And after the peak, it took another year for the bubble collapse to wreak the havoc in the larger economy that we knew it would have to do. Nor have we reached the bottom of that particular catastrophe yet, five or six years later. So even though we can see that collapse is inevitable, and by rights it should happen before the year is out, it may in reality drag on for decades. Extend and pretend is not just for the elites–nearly everyone is collaborating in keeping the charade going as long as possible, out of the same combination of denial, greed, and fear.

    Personal change is generally slow and difficult, not to mention a lot of work. Orienting to the reality of collapse is and will be no easier. So I do not see this as a political problem at all, but a problem of the underlying wrongheadedness of our civilization–which was always based on unsustainable human and resource exploitation. Minds will have to change, and eventually (very eventually) they will change. A new politics that can address reality may then become possible. It won’t look much like anything we have now.


    1. Ellen Anderson

      What you say is true. When we can no longer communicate on the net I hope there will be enough of us gathered in each location to be able to have a sane conversation in person!

  15. Jb

    So far we haven’t talked about how this new party is going to raise the money it needs to buy TV ads and produce the comic-book screenplay. Billboards in Times Square are probably expensive…

    Although you suggested that millionaires join the Dems/Repub parties, can they contribute to your cause? Are you counting on kids breaking open their piggy banks and sending you their college savings? Who is going to invest in a third party?

    Rather than forming a new party, which seems likely to be co-opted by the big money interests, we might try to encourage a counter-culture movement similar to the late ’60s and ’70s. Some of you retired hippies out there will remember this better than I do; I was born in ’68.

    I have lots of acquaintances who I would describe as having a common-sense approach to living more conscientiously. We’re all cutting back on everything, we shop at the farmers market, planting gardens, etc. Is there a way to use the existing pop-culture infrastructure to make decreasing mobility / consumption more palatable or even ‘hip?’

    1. steve from virginia Post author

      The prob w/ millionaires, you let them pay, they own you.

      Better to make a virtue out of little funds and some … eager participants (looking around for eager participants … )

      (echo ….. …. ..)

      The money is a real problem w/ political system. Local politics is worse than national level: the real estate developers and car dealers own the local govts, judges, supervisors, etc. Political feuds last for generations … worse than dealing w. Taliban. It’s because of money under the table and deals with everyone from bankers to fire-fighters unions. Any new party has to reconcile itself to losing for awhile.

      The people who would invest would be those who don’t have very much. They’re left out now. The ‘block’ is their attachment to a materialism that is drifting out of reach. They stay with the promises of the status quo until they are ruined. What kind of a choice is that?

      Maybe you won’t get that new car or flat screen but perhaps your grandchildren will have a chance at a decent life. Giving the future a vote instead of the finger is a winner IMHO. Right now, who speaks for them?

      The ‘non-marketing’ approach would have good things going for it. Stepping away from the ‘trash TV’ approach would appeal to a lot of people who can’t deal with the lies any more. TV = character assassination and smear campaigns. People are sick of it. How sick? Time will tell … but I think they are at the ‘switching off’ point.

      Who do these ‘sick of it’ people turn to? People say, “why bother? These folks will just ignore you.” Why not ask them first? A half-chance is better than no chance at all, right?

      Movements? I think there is more to movements than serendipity. There is that ‘small group of committed people’ with some good ideas about how to communicate in a new way. Plus, there is ‘something in the air’.

      I see that most of the ‘I don’t want to change anything’ arguments are coming from salesmen, rather from the citizens themselves. As you point out — and others such as Mish notice as well — people are more frugal. This is a change of life-strategy plus a whole new set of values much different from the ‘shop ’til you drop’ consumerism: the Garden Party!

      1. Ellen Anderson

        Over on ZH someone is says that “The Great Reset” is coming really soon. That is a really nice euphemism for collapse.

        Our new party could be called The Rebooters. It doesn’t sound wonky like Transition Towners or wimpy like Greens. Everyone knows that when your computer gets too weird you just power down and reboot. That’s all is going to happen.

      2. Jb

        “That’s all is going to happen.”

        Wouldn’t it be nice if it were only that simple?

        In this case, the operating system (finance) is definitely corrupted by a virus (Wall Street). We need to purge it and re-install along with updating the anti-virus software (Glass-Steagall).

        Opening the housing, we see that there are no empty slots for more memory (population) and the RAM is about maxed out. The hard drive (planet life support) is scorched and lots of data is probably lost for ever (extinction, gulp.)

        That said, there is much to do. We’ll salvage what we can, re-organize locally in ways that make sense – maybe even form local political parties, and reboot our expectations accordingly.

      3. Ellen Anderson

        Of course my comment was tongue-in-cheek but thanks for spinning out the metaphor:)

    1. steve from virginia Post author

      … ignoring the generous subsidies that have been paid to fossil fuel energy producers and consumers, too.

      Seems to me the panels will put out a few piddling volts when the big utilities are out of business and the coal-burners are cold.

      Here is the problem playing out in real time, the interests that have never been able to make good on centuries of promises offer a fresh set of them. “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today …” We’ve been living in a world of Mondays, Tuesday is now.

      The BAU economy is like a fat guy who promises to lose weight, all he needs to do is stuff himself first so he doesn’t feel hungry.

      This is the thinking/computing we are up against.

  16. enicar333

    It’s too late for America and any more political parties – the masses don’t want any more choice – they want a dictator – they NEED A DICTATOR. It is only a small and intellectual group, with competing ideas, that wants to further any more political choice – so we’ll take sides and fight it out. It’s coming.

    I warned everyone – I sobered up, I began re-building my body for conflict, and I got accepted to school to be a CNC machinist. Look at the DOW today – 12,118.57, WTI – $83.2, Brent at $98.43. Conditions in Europe are horrible, and the news gets worse every day. Unemployment, suicide, and declining energy use.

    It’s painful to look at the Daily Job Cuts website – Americans are being thrown away by the thousands. What fantasy world does Gov. Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown (D) live in?

    “California Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday asked state employees to work a four-day, 38-hour week as part of a package of massive spending cuts needed to help the state close an unexpected $15.7 billion budget deficit.

    In addition to the unusual four-day workweek — part of a mandated reduction in salaries and benefits to state workers of 5 percent — Brown’s proposed budget, which would take effect July 1, also would slash $1.2 billion from the state’s Medi-Cal program and more than $2 billion from education.”

    Yeah – Cali’s economy will come roaring back to life – any day now – I can feel it!!! Put on your hat, Gov. “LOSER” Moonbeam!!

    When the power goes out, and, IT WILL, all systems will stop – most won’t even want to live after a few days… If you brave the outside World you’ll find hordes of people asking for you to take them out of their misery.

    Survivors will form groups, LIFEBOAT ETHICS will be in full force, and good health will be PRICELESS. Most of the young are worthless anyways – good for nothing but destruction. I’ll figure it out as it comes, and act accordingly. There’s too much “momentum” in the system to stop it now. Time will tell.

    1. Mr. Roboto

      I have noticed that young people born after the start of 1996 really do seem to be more lazy, ignorant, and mean-spirited than earlier generations of teenagers. But you have to remember that except for the ones who have been really abusing the holy crap out of themselves, this will be the group that has the most of that good health that you correctly say is so vital.

      According to the blood pressure reading machine at the grocery store, my blood pressure has been going down, more so every time I do a reading. I think the damn thing is probably defective, so I’m going to try a machine at a nearby pharmacy probably later today.

      1. enicar

        At CNC school there is a wide age group. One of the younger guys, I believe he said 21 y.o., stated in class that most of his friends and the kids that he knows, don’t have jobs, don’t have cars, don’t have goals, many have children which they leave with the grandparents to raise/take care of. I see it all over Racine. I do some work in rentals from time to time, and at one of my last it was a young married couple with 4 children. The young man didn’t work, sat on the TV and watched the TV while the children wandered about and the baby cried (about 1/2 hour, and he still never tended to the child). The Mother failed the final exam to be a Nurse ( she finished a 4 year program) and does menial work. The Grandmother lives with them, and is responsible for the rent/bills and not only works, but lives with them and tends to the children. The Landlord filled me in on the details. This is becoming common. Why they had children – it’s ALWAYS a mystery to me.

        One of the most important things for men, especially aging men, is to limit alcohol, no smoking, and to remain active. Before being a drunk, I was into health, so I have an advantage. Heavy lifting with free weights 4X a week, no more than an hour, and a good long bicycle ride, or some other form of aerobics does wonders. You need to stimulate your body to produce testosterone – it makes a world of difference in aging – so you need to do large body exercises. One of the best is deadlifts – I have worked into this, and already had a stronger base than someone who has never lifted – I become very exhausted from this, sweat and pain is involved , but it is working wonders. At the lower weights I go for a constant rhythm. At the upper limit I am careful of form and just struggling to hold on – I have a good body awareness. I also do them off a raised platform, to increase the range of motion. Start 15 reps X 135 lbs. – it feels (now) light and easy, but I get winded (it’s getting better); 12 X 185; 10 X 205; 8 X 225, 6 X 255, 4 X 275. (done 2X a week)

        It’s done wonders for my lower body and core. I can POWER up hills on my bicycle that used to exhaust me – steadier and stronger on my feet. I also sleep like a rock – lights out and BOOM – I highly recommend a regime of strength training.

      2. Mr. Roboto

        I do make sure I get a certain amount of daily exercise, you damn well better do that when you’re diabetic! Another blood pressure reading machine of a different make verified that my BP seems to be coming down, and I’m not on any medication right now. (Haven’t been able to tolerate any of them because, I believe, I have a renal [kidney] artery blockage which is causing me problems.) I am taking garlic pills, but I’ve been doing that all along. The only thing I’m doing different is that I just decided to let go of a lot of existential butthurt I’ve been holding onto since, well, forever as part of making my peace before everything falls apart. It remains to be seen if that will translate into a lower reading at the doc’s office, but I do wonder if all the angry, unhappy thoughts to which I was clinging was flooding my system with stress neurochemicals that jacked up my BP even when I wasn’t especially angry or unhappy at the time my BP reading was being taken?

  17. Ellen Anderson

    I have a couple of immediate goals – try to lose weight and try not to take myself too seriously.

    1. p01

      First goal is the easiest, Ellen. Forget everything you have been taught about it, and read “Why we get fat” by Gary Taubes. For me it was not as much a wake-up call, as a slap on the face, because it made me remember that I already knew why we get fat, it was common knowledge that my grandfathers, my grandmothers, my mom and my dad taught me while I was little, but somehow I forgot it in the noise of “modern” nutrition.

      1. Ellen Anderson

        Absolutely great book – thanks. It is on Audible so I can listen while I garden.

    1. Jb

      DofC: Thank you – I enjoyed watching the story of the Graf yesterday as it was completely unknown to me.

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