539: Extend the Pretend

KMO has turned Peak Oil apostate. Information technology and machine learning in particular, seem to have played a much more influential and interesting role in determining the course of industrial civilization over the past decade than have shortfalls in petroleum production. In short, the predictions of a Peak Oil fast collapse have failed to materialize. Over that same period, most everyone in the industrialized world has taken to carrying powerful computers around with them that fit in the palms of their hands. Governments and corporations use the data we generate with our online activity for surveillance and social control. What will the coming decade hold? Will the collapse of industrial civilization finally make its entrance, or will information technology extend it's lead over the predicted collapse? KMO puts these questions to long-time C-Realm guest, James Howard Kunstler, who predicts that the collapse is still coming, and that the next couple of years will be marked by greatly increased levels of disorder on the international stage.

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3 Comments

  1. Kay Robison on February 5, 2019 at 10:30 pm

    Great podcast. In an era of a President that misdirects constantly, I think you could view the technology subjects that hold your interest right now as a mass societal misdirection. Something that keeps us so enthralled that we don’t even care about peak oil or environmental problems. I am reading Surviving the Future (the shorter version of Lean Logic) that Shaun Chamberlin edited and I would live to hear a conversation between you and Shaun. Dimitry Orlov’s book, Shrinking the Technosphere also seems to be trying to point out the problems with our current level of technology that have nothing to do with peak oil, but seem to have a much more profound effect on people and society. A conversation between you and Dimitry is another conversation I would love to hear. Keep up the good work. I do enjoy your podcasts. Well, maybe not the ones about Star Trek so much, but then I am not a such a fan.
    Kay

  2. L33tminion on February 7, 2019 at 11:02 pm

    Good show!

    I thought “creamy nougat center” was a Kunstler-ism! Anyways, it was cool to hear a conversation with Kunstler from this perspective (that is, neither within the bubble of the peak oil community nor a debate with someone hostile to the idea that physical resource constraints are important). I do wish Kunstler would engage with his predictions as predictions once they’re in the rear-view mirror. Though in his defense re “World Made by Hand”, near-future speculative fiction isn’t as much of a matter of probabilistic prediction as speculative non-fiction, and the collapse that precedes those stories has been given a couple of hard shoves (i.e. multiple nuclear attacks on major US cities).

    I guess I’m in a similar boat as you on peak oil (probably was that topic that brought me to the C Realm Podcast in the first place). Though I’d still say that physical resource constraints were a significant factor in the 2008 oil price spike, and that the oil price spike was a significant factor in the 2008 financial crisis, and that the economic and political reverberations of the 2008 financial crisis are still being felt in a big way. But not in as obvious a way as I would have thought in 2005, when my prediction was that there would either be an economic depression or an energy crisis like in the 1970s (with either shortages at the point of sale or rationing) within the next decade. Surely even that’s not so outlandish a scenario, but it didn’t come to pass.

    Not sure I would have thought the iPhone an insignificant development in any case. Though I surely underestimated just how pervasive social media would become. Like if you told me in 2005 that in 2019 our 72-year-old President would be shit-posting on 4chan or whatever I would have found that more outlandish than the fast-collapse view.

    On a mostly-unrelated note, I just watched your video on the State of the Union (I missed the speech). Pleasantly surprised to hear that Trump brought up some of the harms of incarceration while touting that criminal justice reform bill. I would’ve expected Trump to be in line with previous Republican rhetoric on the subject (he’s drummed on the phrase “law and order”), and Trump doesn’t seem averse to pointless cruelty. But maybe “the base” is coming around on the issue of the drug war. I mean, you have stuff like a ballot measure restoring the voting rights of felons passing in Florida by 65%, in an election where the statewide races went (albeit narrowly) to Republicans.

    (The stuff about compromise was good speech-writing, but too bad he doesn’t mean it. If Trump was the compromising sort of “deal-maker”, he could’ve had money for his boondoggle of a barrier with a deal on DACA in 2017.)

  3. gus on February 12, 2019 at 12:09 pm

    It’s embarrassing to hear explanations shift to near-incoherent stories about debt & interest rates, but it makes sense once he named Gail’s blog as a good source. That’s full of conspiracy economic gibberish which looks a lot like those people who predict bitcoin prices with ‘technical analysis’.

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