[R-G] [BillTottenWeblog] The Fate of the Yeast People

Bill Totten shimogamo at ashisuto.co.jp
Tue Nov 17 03:05:09 MST 2009

Clusterfuck Nation

by James Howard Kunstler

Comment on current events by the author of
The Long Emergency (2005)

www.kunstler.com (November 16 2009)

Every time I do a Q and A after a college lecture, somebody says (with a
fanfare of indignation) - so as to reveal their own brilliance in contrast
to my foolishness - "You haven't said anything about overpopulation!"

Right. I usually don't bother. Their complaint, of course, implies that we
would do something about overpopulation if only we would recognize it.
Which is absurd. What might we do about overpopulation here in the USA?
Legislate a one-child policy? Set up an onerous set of bureaucratic
protocols forcing citizens to apply for permission to reproduce? Direct
the police to shoot all female babies? Use stimulus money to build
crematoria outside of Nashville?

It's certainly true that the planet is suffering from human population
overshoot. We're way beyond "carrying capacity". Only the remaining
supplies of fossil fuels allow us to continue this process, and not for
long, anyway. In the meantime, human reproduction rates are also greatly
increasing the supply of idiots relative to resources, and that is
especially problematic in the USA, where idiots rule the culture and

The cocoon of normality prevents us from appreciating how peculiar and
special recent times have been in this country. We suppose,
tautologically, that because things have always seemed the way they are,
that they always have been the way they seem. The collective human
imagination is a treacherous place.

I'm fascinated by the dominion of moron culture in the USA, in everything
from the way we inhabit the landscape - the fiasco of suburbia - to the
way we feed ourselves - an endless megatonnage of microwaved Velveeta and
corn byproducts - along with the popular entertainment offerings of
Reality TV, the Nascar ovals, and the gigantic evangelical church shows
beloved in the Heartland. To evangelize a bit myself, if such a concept as
"an offense in the sight of God" has any meaning, then the way we conduct
ourselves in this land is surely the epitome of it - though this is hardly
an advertisement for competing religions, who are well-supplied with
morons, too.

Moron culture in the USA really got full traction after the Second World
War. Our victory over the other industrial powers in that struggle was so
total and stupendous that the laboring orders here were raised up to
economic levels unknown by any peasantry in human history. People who had
been virtual serfs trailing cotton sacks in the sunstroke belt a
generation back were suddenly living better than Renaissance dukes, laved
in air-conditioning, banqueting on "TV dinners", motoring on a whim to
places that would have taken a three-day mule trek in their grandaddy's
day. Soon, they were buying Buick dealerships and fried chicken franchises
and opening banks and building leisure kingdoms of thrill rides and
football. It's hard to overstate the fantastic wealth that a
not-very-bright cohort of human beings was able to accumulate in post-war

And they were able to express themselves - as the great chronicler of
these things, Tom Wolfe, has described so often and well - in exuberant
"taste cultures" of material life, of which Las Vegas is probably the
final summing-up, and every highway strip, of twenty-thousand strips from
Maine to Oregon, is the democratic example. These days, I travel the road
up the west shore of Lake George, in Warren County, New York, and see the
sad, decomposing relics of that culture and that time in all the "playful"
motels and leisure-time attractions, with their cracked plastic signs
advertising the very things that they exterminated in the quest for
adequate parking - the woodand vistas, the paddling Mohicans, the wolf,
the moose, the catamount - and I take a certain serene comfort in the
knowledge that it is all over now for this stuff and the class of morons
that produced it.

A very close friend of mine calls them "the yeast people". They were the
democratic masses who thrived in the great fermentation vat of the post
World War Two economy. They are now meeting the fate that any yeast
population faces when the fermentation process is complete. For the
moment, they are only ceasing to thrive. They are suffering and worrying
horribly from the threat that there might be no further fermentation. The
brewers running the vat try to assure them that there's more sugar left in
the mix, and more beer can be made from it, and more yeasts can be brought
into this world to enjoy the life of the sweet, moist mash. In fact, one
of the brewers did happen to dump about a trillion-and-a-half teaspoons of
sugar into the vat during 2009, and that has produced an illusion of
further fermentation. But we know all too well that this artificial
stimulus has limits.

What will happen to the yeast people of the USA? You can be sure that the
outcome will not yield to "policies" and "protocols". The economy that
produced all that amazing wealth is contracting, and pretty rapidly, too,
and the numbers among the yeast will naturally follow the downward arc of
the story. Entropy is a harsh mistress. In the immediate offing: a contest
for the table scraps of the twentieth century. We've barely seen the
beginning of this, just a little peevishness embodied by yeast shaman
figures such as Sarah Palin and Glen Beck. As hardships mount and hardened
emotions rise, we'll see "the usual suspects" come into play: starvation,
disease, violence. We may still be driving around in Ford F-150s, but the
Pale Rider is just over the horizon beating a path to our

It's a sad and tragic process and, all lame metaphors aside, there are
real human feelings at stake in our prospects for loss of every kind, but
especially in the fate of people we love. The human race has known
catastrophe before and come through it. There's some credible opinion that
"this time it's different" but who really knows? We have our 2012
apocalypse movies. The people of the fourteenth century, savaged by the
Black Death, had their woodcuts of dancing skeletons. Feudalism was wiped
out in that earlier calamity but, whaddaya know, less than a century after
that the Renaissance emerged in a wholly new culture of cities. Maybe we
will emerge from our culture of free parking to a new society of living,
by necessity, much more lightly on the planet and for a long time, perhaps
long enough to allow the terrain to recover from all the free parking.


My 2008 novel of the post-oil future, World Made By Hand, is available in
paperback at all booksellers.

(c) 2009 All Rights Reserved.


on the word "comment" highlighted at the end of the version of this
essay posted at http://billtotten.blogspot.com/

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