Rockwell: Well, good morning. This is the Lew Rockwell Show. And what a treat it is today to have James Howard Kunstler as our guest. He’s an extraordinary blogger, as anybody who reads him on LRC knows. Twice-a-week blog; every one is an extraordinary piece of work; funny, pointed, interesting, learned. He’s quite something. And therefore, you won’t be surprised to find out that he’s done much more than being a blogger. He’s written 14 novels. He’s written five nonfiction books. He’s written one play.
He lives way up in Upstate New York where he’s a champion of rural America, an expert on why suburban America hasn’t really worked as it ought to have worked and why it’s going to be working less and less, and why the cities are not places you’re going to want to live in the future of this country.
So, James Howard Kunstler, it’s just great to have you on the show.
Kunstler: A pleasure to be here.
Rockwell: Oh, it’s great. And I love your writing. And you’re extraordinary. The Long Emergency: Su... Best Price: $1.24 Buy New $1.99 (as of 10:49 EST - Details)
And it just struck me, you know, that today we have the hearings going on with Mr. Mueller. And Dr, David Gordon, he’s a Mises Institute scholar, just called me and he said, Lew, I can’t believe that Mueller looks like a complete stumble-bum. He said he’s white faced; he doesn’t know what he’s doing. And he’s not exactly serving what the Democrats – the purpose the Democrats hoped he would serve.
So have you looked at any of that? And of course, you’ve certainly written about Mueller and the Democrats.
Kunstler: Yes, I’ve been taking in some of it this morning, and it’s an amazing spectacle that fills one with wonder and nausea about what has happened, especially to the thinking class of the United States. And it’s really quite a stupefying and dismaying spectacle.
Rockwell: So are the Republicans asking any good questions or are they, in a sense, part of the game, too?
Kunstler: Oh, no. I think the Republicans are asking meaningful questions. And, you know, Mr. Mueller has a lot to answer for. I happened to write a comment on the New York Times story about the hearings today. And one of the things I personally would like to know is why the Mueller report spent 20 pages describing the infamous Trump Tower meeting between the Russian lawyer and the Russian P.R. guy and Trump Jr. And the Mueller report never mentions the fact that the Russian lawyer was in the employ of Fusion GPS, on the payroll of Fusion GPS, and had met both before and after the meeting with the head of Fusion GPS, which, as we know, was the Hillary Clinton political-ops subcontractor. So, you know, that’s sort of characteristic of the kind of, I think, dishonesty and bad faith that the Mueller investigation represented.
Rockwell: Do you think that Comey and the rest of them are going to eventually pay a price for what they did or –
Kunstler: I think a lot of people are going to be prosecuted, yes.
Kunstler: I do.
Rockwell: And of course, the whole FISA business. Why is there still a FISA court, by the way, after what we know of them today?
Kunstler: Well, because we have not successfully and officially unraveled this really dastardly matter of what really appears to be an organized coup attempt against a sitting president. A president who, by the way, I did not vote for. I did not vote for his opponent either.
But it’s pretty clear that the political establishment or the permanent bureaucracy, or sometimes known as the Deep State, did actually conspire to get rid of Trump as efficiently as possible and the scheme fell apart and blew up in their faces. And, you know, I think the tide has turned and now the people who perpetrated this fraud are going to pay a price for it.
And, you know, I’m not particularly a Trump partisan. But what really bothers me, especially as someone who has been a registered Democrat, believe it not, since 1972, is just the amazing bad faith and dishonestly of the Democratic Party, especially over the last several years.
Rockwell: You know, I agree. It’s astounding. And I didn’t vote, though I was rooting for Trump over Hillary and I was glad he won. I would say his foreign policy has not turned out to be quite what I had hoped. But that’s none the business of these people in the CIA and the rest of the Deep State apparatus who have been – as you say, attempted a coup.
In fact, I’ve wondered why they didn’t just assassinate him. I mean, why didn’t they just pull a JFK on him? I wonder why that is.
Kunstler: Yes, good question. Although, you know, my experience, as someone who lived through those years of assassinations in the late ‘60s, is that there’s something about that, that kind of has the characteristic of a social epidemic. You know, once the first one happens, then a bunch of them happen. And then you go through a period of history where, for some reason, there’s no attempt to do that. Maybe people are afraid that there’s now too much social surveillance for anybody to get away with that. Who knows what it is exactly. But, yes, it’s a little bit strange.
I expected they would actually run the 25th Amendment on Mr. Trump.
Kunstler: And they haven’t done that yet. You know, we’ll see how this shakes out.
He’s not having a not particularly successful time in the White House. Although, personally, I admire his perseverance and the fact that he doesn’t give up and the fact that he fights back. I’m not a Trump partisan, but you have to give him credit for that.
Rockwell: Well, he’s the Golden Golem, I know.
Kunstler: The Golden Golem of greatness, as I like to characterize him
Rockwell: Yes, he is an extraordinary guy. And I heard part of one of his campaign speeches the other day and he really is extraordinary. I mean, I don’t think there’s anybody else who could deliver a speech like that and get that kind of response from an audience, a speech that long. Certainly no other Republican and no Democrat is capable of that.
Kunstler: Well, he seems to have gotten very good at what he’s good at doing. And I don’t admire what he’s good at doing that much. I’m always a little dismayed by how inarticulate he is and how poorly he argues even pretty simple points. But, nonetheless, he does stand up for himself. And it’s even more dismaying to see how his opponents and adversaries are acting. Their dishonesty is really off the charts. And it’s very bad for this country. It really sets a bad example for everybody to see such dirty fighting.
Rockwell: Do you think that if, say, a Democrat were to be elected, that we’re in for some violence in this country?
Kunstler: Yes, I do, particularly, if a Democrat is elected. But I have been under the impression that we would see quite a bit more disorder in the United States than has been the case previously. And I still think it’s going to happen. And I think a lot of it really depends on what happens with the economy and with peoples’ ability to earn a living. Because there are an awful lot of people out there who are really suffering.
Rockwell: That’s true.
Kunstler: Who have lost not only their jobs but lost entire vocations. Entire lines of work have vanished. And the damage to families and households is extraordinary.
And I happen to live a flyover corner of the USA. I live in a small town in remote Upstate New York about 200 miles from the city, north of Albany. This was a little town that had five factories in it in the 20th century. They’re all gone. And there’s literally hardly any real economy here left anymore. And the same is true of many of the towns around us in Upstate New York. And to see how beaten down the citizens of this region are is really a caution. They are really doing very poorly. They’re hugely demoralized and living in a purposeless kind of state of existence and doing very poorly economically, can’t feed their kids. We have a tremendous food-giveaway program in this town because so many kids are going to school hungry. And, you know, if that gets worse, and I think it will, something is probably going to break, and I think we will see a lot of armed insurrection and resistance.
Rockwell: I don’t know whether you read National Review. I try not to read it but I sometimes do.
KUNSTLER: I – (Inaudible) – a good reason.
Rockwell: Well, they hate people like this. And that’s why they say we need many more immigrants to come and displace these people. Too Much Magic: Wishfu... Best Price: $4.53 Buy New $8.06 (as of 10:05 EST - Details)
Rockwell: And of course, it’s also always struck me as an unbelievable fraud that people who are so-called not looking for work are not unemployed. They just disappear from the statistics. So everybody, including Trump, is heralding, hey, how great, just a few people are unemployed. But of course, there’s a vast number of people unemployed and a vast number of people under-employed. And it’s a frightening and horrible thing.
Kunstler: Yes, and I think it’s a major mistake that Mr. Trump has, as they say, taken ownership of the economy.
Rockwell: Oh, gosh, yes.
Kunstler: Because it’s a very dubious economy. And personally, I think that the financial part of the economy, which has come to dominate everything else, is headed for a lot of trouble. And when that happens, Mr. Trump will be owner of that trouble.
Rockwell: Yes, I know. Of course, you’re right. And I wonder how much he understands. I wonder how much he understands about a lot of stuff, whether it’s foreign policy or domestic policy.
Rockwell: But the amount of spending he’s engaged in is just quite extraordinary. It would be extraordinary for a liberal Democrat, but for an alleged conservative Republican, I must say it’s alarming.
Kunstler: Yes, that, of course, is one of the reasons that we have to worry about the financial sector because the debt that we’re piling up, both publicly and privately, is so stupendous that, sooner or later, it’s going to break something. You know, it will either break the stock and bond markets or it will break the dollar itself. And I personally think that there’s a likelihood that the dollar itself will be the real victim of all of that.
Rockwell: I saw that JPMorgan said yesterday that they thought that the dollar could very well lose its reserve currency function.
Kunstler: Well, the other nations in the world are certainly working sedulously to do that.
Kunstler: And for good reason, because the United States policy has been to shut them out of the usual avenues of making global financial transactions. And, you know, this is particularly important in a global economy that depends on long natural resource supply lines and long manufacturing lines.
And we’re facing a situation where, for example, a large container ship leaves China with a whole bunch of shipping containers on it for the United States and, you know, they need a letter of credit in order to make that delivery. And if they don’t get that, then the delivery will not be made and whoever is on the receiving end of that won’t get their stuff and the manufacturer won’t be able to produce a product. And that will thunder through the whole economy. And that’s the kind of technical trouble we’re heading into with this kind of behavior.
Rockwell: And I often wonder how – of course, a lot of these people in the government just love killing and crushing other people. That’s one of the reasons they go into government.
Rockwell: But I wonder, the sanctions, the U.S. has got horrendous sanctions on so many countries that they see as not hurting us, but hurting the other side, although, I think they hurt us as well. But –
Kunstler: Yes, and the big one is the SWIFT code.
Rockwell: That’s exactly right, yes.
Kunstler: Yes, the SWIFT code, which is the international financial settlements system for wiring sums of money around the planet. And we’re shutting out all of these players who are major players in the global economy and not allowing them to use that system. So what do we expect? Do we think that they’re so dumb that they can’t write enough code to create their own financial transfer system? It’s not that complicated, right?
Rockwell: No, and both the Russian and the Chinese are doing it and maybe others as well.
Rockwell: And I noticed that Iran intends to use cryptocurrencies to try to circumvent their sanctions.
Kunstler: It’s true.
There’s something you mentioned, though, that I think is important and needs a little bit of clarification. You know, you mentioned the sanctions and the kind of strong-armed tactics that are being used by the U.S. in our global negotiations, right?
Kunstler: But, you know, what is especially interesting to me is how the progressives are behaving in that way. And what I mean by that is, you know, a lot of people think that the whole progressive movement is all about social justice, right? It’s about making reparation, in one way or another, for the mistreatment of one victim group or another victim group. And that’s actually not what’s going on. And I think it’s important for people to understand what is going on, on that side of the political spectrum. It’s all about coercion. It’s about the pleasures of coercion. It’s about people taking pleasure in pushing other people around and telling them what to think and how to act and what to do. And that kind of motive, political motive is really immune to any kind of rational or reasonable argument or debate. And that’s one of the reasons that we are not having a successful political discussion about anything in this country because that side is simply interested in coercing other people and other parties and other factions.
Rockwell: No, it’s true. That’s true domestically and it’s true internationally. And it’s alarming and horrendous.
Kunstler: Well, there we are. What are we going to do about it?
Rockwell: Well, what should we do?
Kunstler: Well, I think we should recognize a few things. And we should begin by just becoming cognizant of what’s really going on.
And one is, when you hear people talking about inclusion and diversity, and their real interest is in shutting debate and deplatforming speakers and deplatforming people who use YouTube and use social media and use any other platform out there, you know that you’re dealing with deeply hypocritical parties. And I think something needs to be done about that. It’s probably not a good idea to have the government controlling social media and telling them what they can do. But the one solution that has been proposed, which I think is a good start, is to identify these companies as publishing companies, not as open-media platforms. And the reason you can do that is because they are now editing the material that appears on their platforms and they are functioning as publishers. And publishers can be sued for bad behavior and bad faith and mistreating people. And the platforms under the law today technically cannot be sued because they claim to be open platforms. So we need to re-categorize them as publishers and make sure that people can go after them for deplatforming them.
Rockwell: This is a section of the hilariously named Communications Decency Act where they are immune from being sued for the actions that they take, unlike the New York Times or the L.A. Times or any other newspaper of magazine publisher.
Kunstler: Right. And there are an awful lot of people who – you know, in today’s economy, now that the Internet has been as disruptive as it is, a lot of people have landed on the Internet to make a living. And they are arbitrarily and capriciously depriving people of the ability to make a living on the Internet by doing what they do and deplatforming people. So this is very serious business. It’s another thing, by the way, which I think could eventually incite violence in this country.
Rockwell: You think of the people this has happened to and it destroys their life, as you point out, their economic life and destroys their career and their calling. It’s quite horrendous.
Rockwell: And I noticed just recently that Facebook is no longer going to allow the Bible to be quoted. The Geography of Nowhe... Best Price: $1.17 Buy New $11.88 (as of 10:41 EST - Details)
Kunstler: Oh, really?
Rockwell: Because it’s hate speech. Yes, just to warn you.
Kunstler: Is that a product of the patriarchy?
Rockwell: (Laughing) I guess, yes.
Kunstler: Well, I guess it’s got to go then, huh?
Rockwell: Yes, so it’s astounding. I mean, there’s a British publication that just had a story that they were astounded that when a British publication covered Nigel Farage’s travels and speeches in the U.S., they got extremely nasty e-mails from top people at Google and Facebook and several of these big companies denouncing them for covering this guy; that the only way to handle him was never to cover him, never to mention his name, and then he’ll disappear, apparently.
Kunstler: Yes. Well, I guess that is part of what is inspiring them to do what they do.
Rockwell: And it pretty much works. I mean, Alex Jones, for example, has not entirely disappeared but he’s pretty much disappeared. And he had a huge web presence before they – in a coordinated attack, all of the publishers got together and just disappeared him.
Kunstler: Yes. Well, I was never an Alex Jones fan, particularly, but they have deplatformed many, many, many other people and it’s not right. It ain’t right, as we say up here.
Rockwell: And you were born in New York City. And you’re glad you’re living near Saratoga, is it?
Kunstler: Yes. I was born and raised in New York City. I had a three-year interlude in the Long Island suburbs. And then my parents busted up and I moved back into Manhattan and was raised there.
You know, I had, in some ways, an unusual childhood. And it was a good thing to go to a grammar school on 82nd Street and Madison Avenue and being able to walk a block to the Metropolitan Museum of Art at lunch time when you were 9 years old. And back then, art was not a branch of showbiz so you could get in for free. And the Metropolitan Museum of Art was empty on weekday afternoons. Do you know why?
Rockwell: Tell me.
Kunstler: Because New York City was a middle-class city in 1958 and everybody was at work. It wasn’t full of idle hedge fund wives with nothing to do at 3:00 in the afternoon.
Well, anyway, it was my good fortune to be able to have all of that. But by the time I was a teenager, I was interested in doing some other things than go to museums. I wanted to ride motorcycles and go bass fishing and date girls with vowels in their names.
Kunstler: And you couldn’t do that in Manhattan. So I wanted to get out.
I eventually went to a pretty fourth-rate SUNY College in New York. I was a pretty bad high school student and I got rejected from the colleges that I applied to. So the summer after I graduated from high school, my friends were telling me to get into college, right, or I’d be drafted for the Vietnam War. That was the summer of 1966. I didn’t especially want to get drafted so I sent letters out to three SUNY colleges and two of them sent me applications. And one of them sent me a dorm contract.
Rockwell: Oh, wow.
Kunstler: So I called them up and said, what is this about, and they, oh, well, that’s where you live when you come here. I said, you mean when I go to college. And they said, yes, when you come here to go to college, that’s where you live. I didn’t want to tell them that I hadn’t applied. But I guess I learned in retrospect that they were desperate for down-state students.
So I went to this college in a remote little village about as far away from New York City as you can get and still be in New York. And I really quite liked being in small-town America. It appealed to me hugely. Especially being able to leave the town and be out in the countryside in five minutes, which you couldn’t do in Manhattan.
And after college, when I grew up, I bounced around as a newspaper reporter in Boston and I worked for “Rolling Stone” magazine in San Francisco. And eventually, I had enough of that and I decided to just drop out. And I sort of took refuge in an Upstate New York town to write books. And that’s what I did.
Rockwell: Tell me where you went to camp in the summertime.
Kunstler: Oh, I went to a camp in New Hampshire near the town of Lebanon, also near the town of Hanover, where Dartmouth is. And, you know, this is back in the day when there were still a lot of unpaved roads in New Hampshire. Kind of hard to believe. There were no interstate highways. And New Hampshire was like a Eugene O’Neill play back in those days; a lot of flinty old farmers with overalls. And it was kind of a revelation to be in that world after growing up in Manhattan. And I also got a big charge out of seeing the small towns of New England. It was kind of a revelation to me, too. So that was a very interesting interlude in my life.
Rockwell: My mother was from a very small town in New Hampshire and so I spent a lot of summers. And I loved those small towns.
Kunstler: Where was that, by the way? Where was your mom from?
Rockwell: East Jaffrey.
Kunstler: Oh, I don’t know where that is. The City in Mind: Note... Best Price: $3.39 Buy New $10.16 (as of 09:05 EST - Details)
Rockwell: It’s near Peterborough.
Kunstler: OK, because we were up in Enfield, if you know where that is.
Kunstler: And that’s sort of near Sunapee. There’s not much there. There wasn’t at the time. I think a lot of weekenders have busted that up.
Rockwell: That’s right.
Kunstler: Because it’s only about two hours from Boston on the interstate. In the old days, it was a real kind of ordeal to get there.
Rockwell: That’s true. But it was, I thought, a great place. And I’m glad I had that experience as a kid.
Kunstler: Yes. And those combinations of experiences, actually, of me having spent three years in the suburbs as a child between the age of 5 and 8, and then living in the heart of New York City and experiencing that very intense way of life, and then going to college in a Main Street small town in a rural county really kind of prompted me to write the book that I’m probably best known for, which is called The Geography of Nowhere. And it was about how we decided to inhabit the landscape, and especially about the fiasco of suburbia that now characterizes the way that we live in this country and have for the last two or three generations. And I regard it as an enormous problem, something that is probably going to fail catastrophically for us, and something that we’re not paying attention to whatsoever.
Rockwell: I agree. And of course, it’s all designed by the federal government. I mean, the fact that there can only be six styles of houses and you couldn’t have mixed use. You couldn’t have people living above their stores.
Kunstler: Well, those are some of the rules. I’d have to argue with you that that wasn’t really the whole story. Because it was really a huge consensus among all the players in our society that that was what we should do. And I base this on what I call my new theory of history, which is that things happen because they seem like a good idea at the time.
Kunstler: All right? You know, World War I seemed like a good idea at the time.
Rockwell: Not to everybody, but, yes, to most people.
Kunstler: You know, Europe had come off of this century of relative peace after the Napoleonic Wars. And we had this first iteration of globalism from the 1870s until 1914. And then something broke; something cracked. And the wars started and the European players in the First World War thought that they were just going to gloriously ride off on horses and reenact the 19th century warfare. And they discovered that something entirely new was on the menu, which was the industrial slaughter of the trenches and the deaths of millions and millions of young men of Europe of that generation. And it was an enormous trauma for the world. But it seemed like a good idea at the time.
So building suburbia seemed like a good idea at the time. And we’re going to discover to our great misfortune that it was a tremendous fiasco and blunder.
Rockwell: Although, thinking about World War I, it was made much worse by Wilson’s intervention.
Kunstler: Probably was. It may have ended sooner if it were not for that.
Kunstler: But it’s a little bit hard to Monday morning quarterback that, but we can certainly see what the results of it were. And it was a nervous breakdown for Western Civ. And we haven’t recovered from that.
Rockwell: Yes, that’s right.
Kunstler: You know, the nervous breakdown is ongoing. And it is now being provoked to extreme degrees by the forces of modernism that bethink themselves to be the avatars of progress. And they’ve entered on what you might call a kind of gnostic-inspired program to change the world by changing human nature. And they’re not going to change human nature because human nature is what it is. And that is not going to really work as a solution to our problems. But that’s exactly what they’re trying to do now. And they’re trying to do it by coercing everybody into changing our customs, habits and behavior in ways that are probably not going to work.
The Mueller investigation and the activities around it were, for sure, a conspiracy to alter the outcome of the 2016 election.
Rockwell: Yes, it’s interesting that, you know, the phrase “conspiracy theory” was invented by the CIA after they were having trouble with the Kennedy assassination. And the specific definition is you have no facts, nothing behind the conspiracy theories.
Kunstler: That’s a pejorative meaning of the phrase. But it didn’t always have that pejorative meaning. It just really means a theory about more than one person entering into a compact to carry out an action. And I think that’s clearly what happened this time with the FBI, certain people in the Department of Justice in 2016 and 2017, people in the CIA, and other people in the permanent bureaucracy. Plus, you know, throw in some Congresspeople and the mainstream media.
Rockwell: And people in Britain and the E.U., apparently, as well.
Kunstler: Exactly. Especially their intelligence services.
So whether we can successfully straighten that out – one of the things that impresses me is that the amount of information that is an established fact that is now out there about that, including all the FISA abuse information, all the information about the strange players in this drama, like Joseph Mifsud and Stefan Halper, and exactly who they were working for. You know, this is now pretty well-established fact. And yet, the whole corpus of American politics has failed to really absorb it and adjudicate it yet. Home from Nowhere: Rem... Best Price: $1.25 Buy New $7.78 (as of 10:15 EST - Details)
I think we have reason to believe that Mr. Barr is in the process of doing it and doing it in a pretty quiet way. You know, I don’t think that – or I should say I do think that he’s attempting to not be seen as grandstanding this rather momentous action that is now being taken to discover exactly what was behind all of this. And it is going to be momentous because a lot of people are going to pay a penalty. And it’s going to make a lot of the perpetrators of this fraud very angry and a lot of them are politically powerful. And it’s going to create even more political dissension in the country. And I don’t know if we can resolve the bad feeling between the poles of our politics. I tend to think that what we’re going to see is a political blowup that will be accompanied by our financial sector blowup, and it will leave the United States in disorder for many, many, many years ahead, and unable to resolve any of our problems with the problems really beginning to affect us very badly, especially the ones that involve money and wealth and accumulated capital and the management of capital.
Rockwell: Well, Mr. James Howard Kunstler, thank you very much for this talk today. You’re an extraordinary person. And we’re going to link to all of your books; have the widgets of them.
Kunstler: Thank you.
Don’t forget to tell people I bake cookies and make my own clothes, too.
Kunstler: Listen, there’s one more thing I’ve got to add. You know, I mean, this has been a pretty grim conversation. But I’m actually a pretty cheerful guy. And my Monday and Friday blog, which is at Kunstler.com, is generally filled with gags because, as Samuel Beckett once observed, nothing is funnier than unhappiness.
Rockwell: (Laughing) Your blog, of course, is tremendous. And I love running it. And I get a lot of great comments about it, as I should.
So thanks for coming on today. And thanks for all you do. Best wishes to you and for your success, your continued success, no matter what happens to people in Washington or New York or Boston.
Kunstler: Well, as we say here in flyover land, we will ride again.
Rockwell: (Laughing) Thank you.
Well, thanks so much for listening to the Lew Rockwell Show today. Take a look at all of the podcasts. There have been hundreds of them. There’s a link on the LRC front page. Thank you.
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