Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Curse of the Thinking Class

By James Howard Kunstler and originally published at kunstler.com 
Let’s suppose there really is such a thing as The Thinking Class in this country, if it’s not too politically incorrect to say so — since it implies that there is another class, perhaps larger, that operates only on some limbic lizard-brain level of impulse and emotion. Personally, I believe there is such a Thinking Class, or at least I have dim memories of something like it.
The farfetched phenomenon of Trumpism has sent that bunch on a journey to a strange land of the intellect, a place like the lost island of Kong, where one monster after another rises out of the swampy murk to threaten the frail human adventurers. No one back home would believe the things they’re tangling with: giant spiders, reptiles the size of front-end loaders, malevolent aborigines! Will any of the delicate humans survive or make it back home?
This is the feeling I get listening to arguments in the public arena these days, but especially from the quarters formerly identified as left-of-center, especially the faction organized around the Democratic Party, which I aligned with long ago (alas, no more). The main question seems to be: who is responsible for all the unrest in this land. Their answer since halfway back in 2016: the Russians.
I’m not comfortable with this hypothesis. Russia has a GDP smaller than Texas. If they are able to project so much influence over what happens in the USA, they must have some supernatural mojo-of-the-mind — and perhaps they do — but it raises the question of motive. What might Russia realistically get from the USA if Vladimir Putin was the master hypnotist that Democrats make him out to be?
Do we suppose Putin wants more living space for Russia’s people? Hmmmm. Russia’s population these days, around 145 million, is less than half the USA’s and it’s rattling around in the geographically largest nation in the world. Do they want our oil? Maybe, but Russia being the world’s top oil producer suggests they’ve already got their hands full with their own operations? Do they want Hollywood? The video game industry? The US porn empire? Do they covet our Chick-fil-A chains and Waffle Houses? Our tattoo artists? Would they like to induce the Kardashians to live in Moscow? Is it Nascar they’re really after?
My hypothesis is that Russia would most of all like to be left alone. Watching NATO move tanks and German troops into Lithuania in January probably makes the Russians nervous, and no doubt that is the very objective of the NATO move — but let’s not forget that most of all NATO is an arm of American foreign policy. If there are any remnants of the American Thinking Class left at the State Department, they might recall that Russia lost 20 million people in the dust-up known as the Second World War against whom…? Oh, Germany.
Altogether last January the US military deployed thousands of soldiers and heavy weaponry to Poland, the Baltic states and southeastern Europe in its biggest build-up since the Cold War(Reuters). As they used to say in old film noir Bogart movies: what’s the big idea? The State Department would say the big idea was cautioning Russia against annexing anymore neighboring states or regions, as they did in Crimea a few years back. Apparently the public is supposed to forget that the State Department sponsored and engineered the conversion of Ukraine into a failed state, prompting Russia to retain its naval bases in Crimea, its only warm-water outlet to the world’s oceans. Ask yourself: if for some reason the state of Virginia were plunged into anarchy by foreign mischief, do you think the US would batten down our naval station in Norfolk?
I think the sad truth of the American predicament these day, including the ascension of a narcissistic ninny to the White House, is that we’re responsible for our own problems due, most of all, to the destruction of boundaries in virtually all realms of American behavior from the things we put in our bodies to the ridiculous ways that we occupy our waking hours at the expense of getting our own house in order. I would like to join the party dedicated to getting our house in order. Anybody else out there feel that way?