James Kunstler's Clusterfuck Nation Manifesto

Ted points to James Kunstler's "Clusterfuck Nation Chronicle" (on Kunstler's website) a weblog/diary of his comments on events and where they're taking us. (If you don't know Kunstler, he's written very readable books criticising modern America's (sub)urbanism.) There is also The Clusterfuck Nation Manifesto, in which Kunstler imagines what American life will be like when oil shortages begin to bite, a time that will come when prices rise, not when we finally run out.

He concentrates on the impact expensive oil might have on three areas: retail (less mass distribution and warehouse-size stores, more trains, more middlemen, reinvigoration of high streets), agriculture (smaller farms, need to grow more food nearer home, re-learning of lost farming skills) and education (smaller schools, more local schools, more people leaving school to work rather than go to college). While the country's readjustment to life with less oil will be painful and difficult he thinks there could be plenty of benefits, with many processes reducing to a more traditional human scale:

It would be a mistake to take this view of the coming decades as nostalgic. The future will simply demand it. I happen to believe that there is much to gain in amenity from the downscaling of American life. We will benefit from knowing the people we do business with. There is a good chance that many people currently underemployed will find a gainful niche to occupy in the reorganization of American trade, and communities will benefit from their being gainfully occupied. But at the same time, we will be saying goodbye to a way of life which, however unsustainable and even crazy it might have been, was a set of arrangements we had grown accustomed to, and it is never easy for a culture to change the way it does things as fundamental as everyday commerce.

Well worth a read.

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