Episode-996- James Howard Kunstler on “The Long Emergency” — 116 Comments

  1. Oh Jack, I’ve been nagging you to bring James on, looks like it worked!. Im almost done “Too much Magic”.

    Richard Heinberg next 🙂

    Thanks again man!

    “Brent in PEI”

    • @Brent, as I always say if you want an author on or anyone on go to them and tell them and provide them the guest link. It always works better and it is exactly how JHK ended up on the show. I don’t chase people, we stay booked 90 days out almost all the time now.

      • @James, it’s too bad he and Duncan have moved on, but they had excellent chemistry. It’s good to hear James came through his hip surgery, was that not a nightmare or what? (to hear him tell it)

  2. Well….I must be dreaming! I’ve been reading Kunstler since ’07 when I discouvered The Geography of Nowhere and listening to the Kunstlercast since ’08.
    I only wish I’d found The Survival Podcast in ’08 as well.
    Can’t wait to listen. I’ve been suspecting that JHK has been a fan of TSP for a while now and is doing things to bring freedom and liberty into his corner of the world.
    Oh boy, Jack the Libratarian and Jim the Liberal. No crybabies, this may get explict!

  3. About 1:30 in Jack said Too Much Magic is fiction, but is it non-fiction almost a part 2 of the Long Emerency. I think he meant to say the Witch of Herbron. (Brain fart?) Sorry Jack, I’m being a little pedantic.

    I really like JHK’s books and his pocast. I hope Jack is able to get Richard Heinberg as well. Duncan Crary is a good guy too.

  4. Excellent! The Long Emergency is next up in my kindle list, coincidentally. I really enjoyed his novel World Made By Hand.


  5. We listen to your podcast frequently, but I have never commented. This time, I will. I am ashamed to say that, until now, I did not know of Mr. Kunstler’s work, and thank you, Jack, for bringing him to our attention. Every word he said was spot on. During the last election, the only thing I was able to like about Obama was his promise (broken, of course) to bring back the railroads. I’m so glad to hear someone agree that this is important. Lucky for us, we live in the Great Lakes area, smack in the middle of farmland with a market town only 12 miles away. We continue to carve out our little niche of the world and prepare for whatever may come.
    Again, thank you Jack for all your efforts. I am off now to search out Mr. Kunstler’s books.

  6. It’s too bad us Texans will be in such bad shape with our guns and individuality…lol. Great episode I might even read his books and overlook the whole yankee elitist thing.

    • His elitism / egotism is one of my biggest issues with the man. Not sure I’d want to have a beer with him, but his novels were good and his writings on peak oil are good as well, right up there with Michael Ruppert.

    • 🙂

      Mr. Kunstler is an excellent critic. With all of the baggage usually attached to that word. Sharp mind and sharp tongue.

      As a non-Texan/Southerner, I don’t think anyone not a Texan (or a Southerner) can really ever understand them enough to make comments. Appreciate them, yes. Understand them, no.


  7. I was always curious if Jack was going to have Jim on the show at some point- I’ve been a fan of Jim since ’03 and read all of his recent books, and while Spirko and Kunstler have a lot of similar viewpoints, they have significant differences- especially as regards climate change and rural folk. I remember hearing Jack rant about something Jim wrote on his blog a year or so ago and thinking that it was unlikely for Jim to come on the show. I’m happy to be proven wrong.
    Haven’t listened to the whole episode yet, but I’m glad to hear two of my favorite thinkers on the air together. Thanks Jack for hosting and Jim for showing up!

    • I think Jim is realizing that “we” all need to stick together. And by “we” I mean those of us who are awake to the reality that society is heading for a cliff. He’s said disparraging thnigs about American Southerners and American Christians, but at this late date, I think Jim knows time is too short now to be alienating people who are on board with sustainability and small community building and low-energy lifestyles.

      Jim’s a good guy (albeit a very flawed human being). I won’t pretend to know him. But I am pretty sure that if I ran into him on the street tomorrow, he’d take less than a minute to fumble around before saying “Oh yes! I remember you now! How’s the whole elderly healthcare thing working out for you?”

      Duncan knows me better than Jim, so he wouldn’t need a few seconds — Duncan would just know me, period. I proofed The KunstlerCast Book at Duncan’s request and so my name is on the acknowledgments page (mine is the very first name on that page of “Thank you’s”). I have spoken with Jim face-too-face a total of 3 times since 2009, 2 times were because of Duncan. Jim is funny, yet flawed. He pisses me off sometimes. But his message is still a very important one, regardless of what a goofball he can sometimes be.

      What Jim doesn’t realize (I actually never told anyong this before) is that he unintentionally insulted me when I showed up at the book launch party for The Kunstlercast Book. Duncan arranged for the two women who were manning the reception table/book sales table at the front entrance to the party to hand out free copies of the book to certain select individuals –and I was one of them– as a reward for work that those individuals had done to contribute to the book’s success. And when I went to Jim, he immediately recognized me from the last time we’d met, called me by name (yes, he remembered my name), and with a smile he took my books to autograph them. Duncan stepped forward and said “Jim! She’s the one I told you about –she helped proof the book!” And so Jim laughed and wrote “Thanks for finding all the typos! — James Howard Kunstler” And I was crushed — I had done far far more than just “find the typos.” I did actual content editing on the book. I didn’t have the balls to correct him, nor to even tell Duncan what he’d written.

      In short, Jim loves a good joke, but doesn’t always realize he can be a little callous at times with those jokes.

  8. I had to steel myself to get to the wisdom in this interview. While I generally agree with Mr. Kunstler that we in the Western World are too dependent on too many complex systems, I think some of his proposed cures are worse than the disease.

    I admit, I was gritting my teeth listening to Mr. Kunstler’s apparent loathing of suburbia, the automobile the highway system, and the individual freedom they bring. Unlike Mr. Kunstler, I don’t want centralized transportation like high-speed rail. (To his credit, he knows the time has passed to be able to do that.)

    Centralized, national-government-owned transportation systems limit freedom. Our states take care of the highway system; yes, they get federal monies. Still, history shows decentralization in transportation is better than a centrally-run transportation system. Privately-owned? Yes. That’s the American way. We used to have privately-owned turnpikes. We should have them again.

    He’s big on anthropogenic climate change, but doesn’t pick up on Jack’s prompt to talk about soil rebuilding and ag reform to overcome production loss from climate change. (IMHO, climate warming helps us; cooling would be a big threat.) Instead, Mr. Kunstler blames the Dust Bowl on the Ford tractor. Huh? So, how did we grow and cultivate enough food to overcome the lost of acreage from the droughts? Tractors, man. Same way the farmers in Oklahoma and Kansas started over after the drought. Look, I have no love for the Monsantos and ADMs of the world, but denying the utility of the tractor is dumping the baby out with the bathwater.

    Mr. Kunstler seems to downplay government interference in land use and small-farm operations, yet he denounces the supermarkets. Huh? Specialty meats and truck farmers don’t compete directly with supermarkets.

    And, boy, does Mr. Kunstler seem to despise technology. “Breeding a good ox is more important than an iPad?” Maybe, but our present-day cattle and hogs are better than any old-time ox. And why only one or the other? Why not both a good ox and a good computer? His solution, a “conscious model… for different forms of behavior” sounds to me like a euphemism for top-down government industrial policy, which has gotten both China and the US into the mess we’re in.

    As a Southerner, one piece of technology I LOVE is the air conditioner. There are ways to use both thermal mass techniques along with A/C that can make energy-efficient homes that can be 72 degF year-round in a sustainable manner. Rather than saying we should stop developing technology, why not rather embrace the old along with the new? I think that is what Jack is saying.

    Mr. Kunstler is right, though, that building codes are going to have to just be ignored at some point. There will be more than that when home loans become less common, because the inspectors and code enforcement officials are financed by the mortgage industry.

    Contra Mr. Kunstler, “Peak oil” is not going to be crashing in 3 years. As Jack said, a banking/currency crash will smack us far before peak oil affects us. I would make Mr. Kunstler a bet that there will be 90% or more of the present-day refineries still operating in 10 years. Because of government meddling, there sure won’t be any more built. Sure, our usage of oil after an economic crash will be a lot lower than it is now. But that helps stave off the “Peak”, doesn’t it?

    And finally, Kunstler appears to have a problem with our 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear firearms, and with individualism. Sorry, that’s how America was founded, and many of us think that system is better than anybody else’s.

    Anyway, it was an interesting interview, and I know that not everybody will agree with every guest, or with me. But those are my thoughts.

    • @Backwoods,

      I think Jim is an interesting guy and I think he is starting to see the forest for the trees. I am pretty impressed at his evolution over the last 4 years. We are still a long way off on many things but he is rapidly becoming a political atheist, realizing no one in government is going to fix things if you read many of his latest writings. Like I have always said if you want socialism or liberalism or centralized transportation I don’t care as long as you don’t try to force me to do it with you.

      Also on the topic of gun ownership, Jim’s first question to me after the recording was finished was, “so what is the best handgun for concealed carry?”

      I figure Jim just needs to learn about how well southern boys take care of their communities, step out from the Harvards and Princtons and get out to a few Permaculture workshops and perhaps follow that up with some tactical training.

      There is a lot of truth is Jim’s views but I find the timeline to be a bit to short.

      • Jim got his NY State handgun license about 3 years ago. He said it took a very long time and the background check in NY is staggeringly thorough. But he was very happy to finally get a gun. He has deep concerns about civil unrest in the near future.

    • I really enjoyed the interview, but I think I cringed a little also at the “dixieland” comments. He made some good points that I can’t disagree with but I would point out just how resourceful us Southerners can be. Everyone around here is a jack of all trades and does damn near everything themselves. And yes, we’re fiercely independent but we also bend over backwards to help our neighbors. We just don’t get too touchy/feely about it. That said, I liked the guy and hope he comes back again.

    • I have to address Backwoods Engineer’s comments above — because I think that they represent a prime example of the “psychology of previous investment” discussed by Kunstler, and a particular form of that kind of thinking that is all too common within the ranks of engineers (for the record, I’m a licensed PE myself). Now, I’ll readily concede that JHK despises the automobile — or perhaps more accurately, the effect of the automobile on our society and landscape. Just read one of his earlier books on architecture and our living arrangements and you’ll see it in stark relief. However, in this interview nothing he said about the interstate system came across to me as a condemnation of it on social or aesthetic terms. Rather, it was a simple acknowledgement that it is an arrangement that HAS NO FUTURE in the face of declining oil supplies (even if there is still actually a lot left) and rising fuel prices, combined with decreased access to capital.

      Without going into the logistics of this any further (which I will do if asked), it is the equation of rapid automobile transport with “personal freedom” that I think represents the biggest example of “psychology of previous investment.” Would you say that the self-reliant yeoman farmer of 150+ years ago was more or less free than the industrial worker of today? I’d put my money on the former every day and twice on Sunday — and yet they DID NOT HAVE RAPID AUTOMOBILE TRANSPORT. Rather, as Ivan Illich pointed out in his essay “Energy and Equity” (, the rise of motorized transport (cars, planes, even trains) over simple transit (walking, riding horses, etc.) has actually DECREASED freedom for most people. For me, personally, I see a life in which I make the overwhelming majority of trips on foot or by bicycle due to a high level of self-reliance and localized economy as a lot more free than I do my current industrialized life commuting 3 hours R/T to my job as a resident engineer of a construction project.

      Please tell me of any major transportation network we’ve developed in this country WITHOUT significant government involvement. The fact is that government has often stepped in to facilitate projects that are beyond the scope of private industry (starting with the Erie Canal, which opened up the Ohio Valley and allowed the population along the seaboard to spread further west and increased commerce in that region). Even the initial building of the railroads — although done by private companies — was accompanied by intense government involvement and subsidy, especially through the granting of vast tracts of land to the railroad companies (and their executives) that rose several-fold in value after the railroads were completed. Plus, the large trusts that manage those transportation networks often end up imposing their own kind of tyranny regardless of whether they are “public” or “private,” a prime example being the rate-gouging of the midwestern farmers by the railroads that eventually fueled the populist movement of the late 1800s. Note that I’m not using any of this as a means of promoting centralized control, before I get tarred with the brush of being a “progressive socialist” again. I’m simply reiterating the historical context of what has happened in the past as a model on how we can reasonably anticipate how things will work out in the future independent of what we may “want” or think is “right”.

      Regarding the topic of peak oil — we are currently reliant on advanced technology to recover the newer finds — deepwater, fracking shale oil, horizontal drilling, tar sands processing, etc. When the economy crashes and capital available for these kinds of activities dries up, how are the projects going to get done? I agree with the writers of The Automatic Earth here — when the crash comes, the price of oil may plummet as well simply because so many fewer people will actually be able to afford the stuff anywhere approaching currently levels of consumption. Without $80 per barrel oil, all of these high-tech methods of getting oil are no longer attractive and are put on hold or abandoned. In the longer run, this actually will create even MORE of an oil shortage, as the supplies will simply not be there when the economy begins to heat back up again — and the financial capital will not be available to restart those projects on the scale that would be needed.

    • @backwoodsengineer – I see your above comment about A/C in the South and I have heard Jack bemoan the lack of solar/wind power A/C options so in farting around on Mother Earth News website this morning I ran across this:

      Jack, I’d love to hear from you regarding this technology. It appears this innovator took the same technology that runs refridgerated transport cars/trailers and adapted it for home use. I’ve been in the South, I know one can perhaps live in 100+ degree heat and humidity but I KNOW you cannot sleep in that weather. This window unit requires 17.5 Amps at 48 Volts (850 watts). I hope this gives our community in the South an option for off grid cooling.

      Another great episode and thanks Jack for all you do!!

      • Going to have to look deeper into it and see if perhaps we can get someone from this group on the air.

  9. Wow, awesome to see that JHK is the interview today – I can’t wait to listen. I imagine you guys will differ quite a bit on climate change – I’ll have to have some popcorn ready if that topic comes up, ought to be a hoot. Been reading his blog for a while now, and it has started to get a bit old, but at least he is gradually realizing the left vs. right dichotomy is a load of shit and that his formerly precious D’s are no better than nor much different from R’s. Anyway, really looking forward to the show. Thanks, Jack.

    • LOL – I’m surprised JHK let you slide by with being on the side of natural cycles so easily – he struck me as a devout priest of anthropomorphic global warming – maybe his stance on that is mellowing too as he himself is realizing that the blue team are just as much assclowns & full of bullshit as the red team. 😉

      His liberal side still shows when he talks about the people doing this great project of repairing the railways, and putting tens of thousands of citizens to work – yeah? The people doing that is code for big government printing/borrowing/stealing more money to do it. I agree that it would be a good project, but when is he going to realize that something like that can be done by the private sector? You form a company, revitalize the rail lines, make it so that delivery quality & cost are superior to the diesel trucking fleet, and you’ll have so many customers you could be a gazillionaire.

      Anyway, great show, and it was very nice to hear him at the end 100% behind Jack’s statement about the time being now for personal responsibility & accountability. This one should make the list of must-listen-to episodes from the archive for new listeners.

      • A “must listen to” or “best of TSP” is a pretty good idea, I’d say. I’m a sucker for the more philosophical episodes, myself…

        I’ll be listening to this one with much interest tomorrow. I listened to a few of the Kustlercasts back a few years ago, hell– I think it was before I’d found TSP; but rapidly got tired of the lefty doomsaying and unsubscribed. Perhaps I’ll try it again and see if there’s been an improvement.

      • Metaforge wrote: “when is he going to realize that something like that can be done by the private sector? You form a company, revitalize the rail lines, make it so that delivery quality & cost are superior to the diesel trucking fleet, and you’ll have so many customers you could be a gazillionaire.”

        Yup. And then since you could very well hold a monopoly on transport through your region (unless we’re crisscrossing the landscape with RR tracks as we currently do roads), you can set prices and charge exorbitant rates to squeeze farmers and other commodity producers, and then use your increased profits to influence politicians and get your monopoly protected through favorable legislation — or government assistance in crushing any protestation against that unequal arrangement.

        After all, that’s essentially what happened with the initial building of the railroads across this country. And it’s also why so many of the southern yeoman farmers and their communities fiercely resisted “improvements” such as railroads, water mills, etc. prior to the Civil War.

        Note, I’m just trying to play devil’s advocate here and point out that the arrangement that metaforge describes in rather idyllic terms may not turn out so nice in the end. Do not take it as any kind of endorsement of centralized government control.

        • I’m not talking about monopolies. You want to ship by river, truck, air, rail? Whatever…. I’m talking about competitive private sector making rail the most cost efficient. If you can make it so, it’s a great business model. And no one said train tracks have to be only one way from point A to point B. I’m sure local governments will be glad to sell right of way for additional rail to get “revenue”.

        • @metaforge so what would be wrong with running rail the way we do roads?

          Make the infrastructure public (tracks, switching, etc.) and let anyone who has a safe train use the infrastructure. The infrastructure is the money sink and the government pisses away money anyway, they might as well piss it away on something useful.

          The government should be in the infrastructure business and the private sector in the delivery business. I see what others are saying you can’t have a free market on rail if some billionaire buys up all the track and brings back rail. You can if “Jack’s Trains” can come up with a route from Dallas to OKC for freight and nothing else and “Metaforge’s Trains” can come up with a route from Dallas to Austin specifically for commuters.

          See the roads are open to all, so are the rivers, so are the airways, etc.

          In this model train line owners would pay tolls, they would pass them on in fees as always. The operators and customers would fund the on going maintenance and the public money the initial recovery and expansion.

  10. My first introduction to Mr. Kunstler was his TED talk on ‘bad architecture’ (contains swearing):

    For @Backwoods and others, I’d like to expand a little on some of the ideas that were introduced..

    Peak Oil -Some people have taken to calling this ‘peak cheap oil. The issue isn’t availability, its extraction cost and dependence. Our ‘systems’ are completely dependent on fossil fuels, and our transportation system on liquid fossil fuels. Switching to a new ‘system’ of energy distribution would cost trillions of dollars, which really means LOTS of energy. So to build the new infrastructure you need cheap energy. But to get anyone to start building it means energy needs to get expensive or a ‘leader’ has to get everyone to agree that we need to do something about this BEFORE there’s an insurmountable problem.. ie. sacrifice in the now for a better tomorrow (ha ha ha).

    So, being that we’re not going to get real leadership anytime soon, we’ll reach a ‘crisis’.. energy will get expensive/scarce, then we’ll want to switch, but there won’t be enough energy/money to do it.

    The thing to really ‘get’ about the energy thing is that there’s a multiplier effect. Energy is used at every level of extraction, refining, manufacturing and distribution.. so a doubling of the energy cost doesn’t double the cost of the end product.. it multiplies it by many times.

    Here’s a video that says it better:

    I bought some framing metal four years ago. For a new project I tried to order the same metal. During the time period gas prices rose 33%. The quoted metal price was 400% higher.

    Cars/Roads/Suburbs: IMO the comments on cars are not ‘anti-freedom’ they’re just based in the reality that our road based transportation system is incredibly inefficient and completely dependent on extremely cheap energy. No king in history, no matter how rich, could afford to have his chariot dragged around by 100+ horses.

    If you were trying to ‘self sufficient’, how large/expensive a system would you have to setup to provide you with liquid fuels for your commute?

    • Great explanation of the real peak oil issues. I also wonder why people think this is years away? It is happening now.

      Go look at global production charts, and you will see the bumpy plateau that was referred to in the interview – this almost certainly is the peak. It is a wide multi-year maybe even decade or two long peak, granted, but a peak nonetheless. If you don’t think so, please explain what would suddenly cause production to start increasing exponentially or even linearly again? We’re already using the “new tech” of horizontal drilling and putting tar sands and other shitty quality oil into production. And with oil around $100/barrel anyone who can produce it for cheap is not going to be holding back supply, they’re going to be cashing in. To me that argues that production is stuck, and there’s no way it can stay stuck for decades.

      The other effect is net export – as places like Saudi Arabia consume more & more of their own production, they export less & less. That effect argues that once production starts into its inevitable decline, the drop off of production available for sale will be a lot sharper than the ramp up of production was over the past 80 years. In other words, the peak won’t be symmetric.

      Chris Martenson would be another great guy to have on; I know he was on the show a long while ago, would be cool to see him back to give his take on the events of the past year or two since he’s been on.

  11. I think cities’ infrastructure is often overlooked. And small towns are often dependent on larger ones for utilities.

    Our water utility provides water throughout most of our county and parts of others. The water filter plant from which most of this water is processed comes from a plant built in the 50’s. It limps along, patched here and there. It should have been replaced some time ago.

    The management budgets and sets aside money for building newer, better plants and infrastructure. Much money is also spent on studies on how best to do this. Water utility is separate but owned by more than one city.
    The city manager and city council (largest city in the group) don’t agree on a future plan, order more studies. Meanwhile they raid the money set aside for future water projects and repairs. We need the water utility to build these roads for us, the water utility to run fiber optics through all the city’s buildings. Opps our budget doesn’t look like it will balance. And those reserved funds are taken and the city proudly proclaims a balanced budget.

    I imagine stuff like this happens across the nation.

    Having your own well is more appealing all the time.

    • The other issue with being ‘downstream’ is, if 10-20% less is available, guess who doesn’t get any.

  12. 1 gallon of gas = 500 hours of human labor

    food production uses 2/3 of domestic oil production

    food production in the US uses 400 gallons, per person, per year
    100 person years of effort to feed ONE PERSON

    In the use, 428 gallons of gas is used for transportation, per person, per year
    – or –
    107 person years of effort to transport ONE PERSON

    • Great point. I’m checking the math though and I get different (though still stunning) results – maybe I missed something?

      400 gallons x 500 person-hours/gallon = 200,000 person-hours
      200,000 person-hours = 8,333 person-days = 22.8 person-years

      Similarly: 428 x 500 -> 24.4 person-years for transport.

      Also interesting is to think that 828 gallons x $3/gallon = $2,484 to produce & transport food for one person.

      • In this case, I’m quoting from the above linked video. There are a lot of different numbers floating around.

        In your case you’re assuming a person can work 24 hours/day. The video author was assuming an 40 hour week, working 50 weeks a year.

        Anyway you do the numbers, the amount of LABOR being performed by oil on our behalf is staggering.. and because its cheap, often ridiculously wasteful.

        Imagine for instance what it would look like if your local Walmart had to be restocked with pack mules. Or if your motor home was pulled along by oxen. Or if the electricity in your home was generated by slaves pedaling stationary bikes..
        – 125W or 0.125 kWh per slave
        – average home in US uses 31.5 kWh/day
        – so if you made your slaves pedal 10 hours a day, 7 days a week, you’d need 25 of them

        That of course doesn’t factor in feeding, clothing, housing and managing those 25 slaves, or the ‘replacement costs’ as they wear out.

        This doesn’t even get into things like the delivery of South American produce to North Dakota, which is currently ‘profitable’.

    • 1 gallon = 500 hours of labor. This is deceptive. You’re only using the unit cost for one gallon. So once you tap the well, how long does it take to pump the second gallon into a 2+ gallon bucket and move it? 2 gallons still equals 500 hours of labor.

      I’m not disputing your underlying logic. It’s a concern. But the math is bad (or I’m missing something).

  13. When James refers to the long emergency, it is exactly that, no sudden collapse, just a bunch of stuff that makes life inconvenient. Contraction, burps, hiccups. Now all of a sudden 2% growth looks good. That use to cause panic among economists, now we are facing contraction. Overall a slow contraction is a good thing. We should not be wasting precious resources on “Mio Water Enhaner” . Whatever oil/natural gas/coal we have left should be used to create lasting infrastructure; if that exists. 8 billion people on renewable’s is not possible. Nature will force the population down, we won’t need to do it. Resource shortages will affect population growth.

  14. YYYEEESSSSS! I am a huge Kunstler fan…this is 100% awesome.

    I highly suggest reading the final chapters of “The Long Emergency”; Kunstler is the only author I’ve read that really takes a long-range and realistic look at what a post-collapse world might look like, absent of the “mutant commie biker” crap that so many others seem to pine for.

  15. “Mio Water Enhancer”, a little plastic container that flavours water, I mean really.

  16. I just finished listening and the bar has been raised again Jack. Like a good dark stout, I just sipped. I listened to a bit at work, a bit at home.

    Ok man, off to pick the last of the Jalapenos, going for one last feed of bacon wrapped in the great white north. Oh and acreage is available in PEI. 😉 But if you ever move to the northeast, I’ll buy the pumpkin ale from the shipyard brewing company in Portland ME. Six hour drive for me

  17. Perhaps the last episode of TSP I’ll listen to… Redistribution of private property?
    anti-self defense?
    I’m shocked that a crowd I had THOUGHT shared beliefs of liberty snd freedom would support this guest…

    • @Jason, it is a man with a weak mind that can’t hear an opposing voice. Also Jim is not anti second amendment, we had a fifteen minute discussion after this episode about handguns, with the subject being what do I think would be the best gun for him to carry. He has a concealed carry permit and we also discussed my view that he would benefit from some advanced tactical training. I seem Jim as a liberal in the middle of an evolution toward the libertarian ideal.

      I also am not lending support to anyone, lots of people asked for him, so I had him on. I don’t debate guests even when I disagree, I let them say what they feel is true and leave it up to you to have enough brains to think for your damn self dude. I am sorry that you seem to feel I put to much faith in you Jason.

      • @Jack
        I understand your desire to do the interview & to serve the folks that wanted it.

        I guess I’m just in the wrong place – I thought the show was about something else…

        sorry to bother ya’ll

        • Jason what you come off like is a petty little child, I encourage you to grow the hell up, seriously! You thought the show was about something else? TSP is about individual liberty, self sufficiency, self reliance and independence in a world of increasing threats to the same. JHK is on a walk like most people of preconceived notions about our world. While he has great insight into the threat he has yet to get to the point of understanding that the government is the main threat and the main reason for our problems.

          Now if I can tolerate the guys views on AGW you should be able to tolerate some of his other views. The solutions to our problems are too large to ignore people who want to help but simply don’t agree with us. Such people should be met on common ground so that we can demonstrate our methods are more effective.

          Did you listen to the end of the show with my comments on “individual leadership”, did you hear him respond as though he was just hit in the face with a 2×4 of truth?

          You know you guys ask me how to talk to people and win them over, well, this interview was how the first conversation should go. Do you think if I beat the shit out of his ideas we would have had a talk about guns and tactical training after the interview was over? So get over yourself and don’t behave the way a person like James would expect you to.

      • New York is a very hard state to own a pistol or revolver in. To own one AT ALL you need to fill out paperwork, get a background check, take a safety course, and have the county judge approve it. Then to have concealed carry you need to take an advanced course and send more paperwork to a judge.

        So, the fact that Kunstler went through that hassle for himself means he isn’t as anti-gun as he might sound.

        • @Ted
          I’ ve been a NYS resident (Cattaragus County) for about 40 years and have had my CCW permit for about 10 of those years.
          In New York pistol rights vary by county – thankfuly mine is essentialy shall issue with no renewal requirement.

          guns were not the only issue I was objecting to & frankly there were more important paradigms that have been proven time and time again to fail while oppressing a segment (or all) of the population…

    • I agree with Jack in that those were the guests views and not Jack’s or the average TSP member’s views. I hope that Jim gets a chance to read the feed back and maybe gets the opportunity to get out of the liberal corners of the world. I think it would do him some good to understand that what works in one area isn’t universal and that’s the beauty of State’s rights. Many of us here fall into a weird demographic. For some reason the left “owns” some things and the “right” owns others, such as typically the left owns social freedoms and organic food production and the right “owns” gun rights and financial freedoms. Most of us are at the point where we are ready to discard those thoughts and understand that we support what is right not what is a party line. Jim seems to be evolving, hopefully he will evolve faster……..maybe a tactical shooting coarse in Texas could help 🙂

      • Yep and I just heard JHK say in his podcast, “I think both parties need to die and be replaced with new parties”, that is a huge step, not exactly what I am looking to do but for a man his age, who as been a self proclaimed democrat for so long it is a huge step.

        See once a person separates from their own “party” and steps back they then see that both sides are behaving the same way.

  18. This guy is living in fantasyland.Complained about the south reverting back to the 50’s because of violent rednecks?Is he unaware of what’s going on in Atlanta, Chicago and Detroit now? Does he not remember who did what during Katrina? Why did people move to the suWurbs to begin with?Who was trying to tear down the walls at the Food Stamp factory jack mentioned in Atlanta ? This guy has the audacity to use the word reality ?Please, he is far from it.

  19. When I first heard of peak oil I must say I freaked out. It’s an incredibly terrifying thought. If we run out of oil it could send civilization practically back to medieval times. I read everything I could about but I also read (as I do with anything that interests me) dissenting points of view. I must say that to me, the idea of abiotic oil is far more rational. Frankly there is quality exclusionary evidence against the idea of oil being caused by bio mass i.e. fossil fuels. What I mean is, there is evidence that oil being made from Dinos is not possible. The point I want to make is, I’m not a believer in peak oil.

    A few things to ponder about the notion of peak oil assuming the abiotic theory is false … current supply …

    Clive Mather, CEO of Shell Canada, says the Earth’s supply of hydrocarbons is “almost infinite”, referring to hydrocarbons in oil sands. It is believed that the Canadian oil sands alone can fuel all of humanity’s demands for over 100 years.

    Plus we have yet to tap maybe up to 60 or so % of the surface of the earth that is under deep water.

    So assuming that oil is a “fossil fuel” we aren’t anywhere near peak oil. But I’m not sure it is a “fossil fuel”. In fact I don’t believe it is.

    Now it gets interesting, and these are couple facts that I just couldn’t get past with respect to peak oil and they converted me to believing that oil could be of abiogenic origin …

    1st) The fossil record stops at about 18,000 ft all over the world. Yet we commonly find oil at 30,000 ft. That tells me there is another process at work and the long held belief that we are burning dinos from the Jurassic era doesn’t hold water.

    2nd) The fact that wells that are capped often refill after a period of time.

    3rd) The presence of oceans of methane on Saturn’s moon Titan and in the atmospheres of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune is evidence of the formation of hydrocarbons without biology. The earth’s mantle is thought to contain carbon rich liquids.

    Now I have to say that the theories about the abiotic process are just that, theories. But then so is the notion that the dinosaurs died and decomposed into a petroleum goo. Anyway it’s food for thought. I’m sure the books are very good based on some of the reviews, but the idea of a collapse from peak oil is to me, fiction. (which I guess that’s books are anyway and I’ll probably read them )

    • Todd, two things:

      1) If abiotic oil is true, how quickly can the planet make new oil for us?? We are currently burning through over 80 million barrles per day of the stuff, so if we are burning it faster than Earth can make it, then we have already passed peak.

      2) If we try to synthesize oil ourselves from the various carbon/hydrocarbon resources of the Earth, how much energy do we need to put INTO this oil-making process when compared to the end net-harvest of energy we get OUT of the resulting synthesized oil?? If the answer is “It takes more energy to make synthetic oil than the engery that synthetic oil gives back,” that means we are screwed for sure.

      • OL, I don’t know the answer to #1. But, it seems wells in the gulf have “re-filled” since the 90’s. But the overall question I think your asking is, at some point we are going to exhaust what the earth has or can produce in terms of petrol fuel. How long is that? Who can say? Let’s look at what would happen if oil is biogenic and not abiotic. The oil sands in Canada alone are supposed to have a 100 year supply. Plus, there’s also a lot of untapped areas on the planet that are harder to get too. If we run low then they will become cost effective to tap. Now I’ve always thought the reason our government limits drilling in the US is because they want to use the world’s supply first, leaving the US as the last country with any oil. There’s A LOT of domestic oil untapped. But let’s say we run out of oil anyway. There’s still natural gas, propane and the methane (which can be literally by made from garbage and manure). I just don’t think we are anywhere near peak oil whether oil is biogenic or abiotic. I happen to lean to the abiotic theory based on the research to date. IMHO.

        • Your answer to my Question #1) is then completely undone by my Question #2).

          Peak Oil is a lose-lose situatioon. There is no upside to it. People with dgrees in engineering who first get presented with the hard math of Peak Oil have reported spending many nights up late, getting zero sleep as they fret and anguish over the impossible path of socetal destruction that Peak Oil presents.

          Peak Oil has been declared to have the terrible “honor” of not merely being a problem but is in fact a dilemma, because if it were only a problem, it would have a solution. Unfortunately there is no solutionn to Peak Oil. It is instead a dilemma, and an unavoidable appointment with a ciivilization-shifting (possibly even civilization-destroying) era of disruption and civil unrest and financial downgrading.

  20. I really enjoyed the interview and agree with Jack that JHK’s views on politics and personal freedom have evolved over the years. Some of his remarks about the South were a little cringeworthy, but hey- TSP has always been about great information and open discussion. Hope he comes back for another appearance and Jack can get a few more words in edgewise to steer JHK into expanding on some of his ideas.

  21. I’ve long been a fan of Kunstler — ever since reading “The Geography of Nowhere” back in the early 2000s. To say I’m a fan of him doesn’t discount the fact that he can come off as an arrogant prick sometimes — but as Jim himself has said on numerous occasions, “elitism” in our society is simply the recognition by some of us that there are certain things that are better than others. For instance, a lot of people might consider me “elitist” because I think that Budweiser is the equivalent of recycled piss, and I’d rather drink a quality microbrew that costs considerably more.

    Second, for everyone expressing shock on his views on Dixie — you need to read his blog once in a while. What he said on the show PALES in comparison to some of the things he has written on his blog. But, he’s a lifelong Yankee who has spent the vast majority of his life between NYC and upstate NY and this probably blinds him to some of the more positive aspects of traditional southern culture — namely the fact that it was the last place to maintain the yeoman ideal of self-sufficiency and rights to the commons of woodlands and waterways, all of which was the proverbial baby thrown out with the bathwater during the Civil War.

    Thanks for another great show, Jack. This one was very entertaining to listen to, even if it didn’t really go into topics I’m not aware of, having followed both you and Kunstler for quite some time.

  22. @ Silent Todd

    Abiotic oil is a crackpot “theory”, on par with the idea that chronic headaches are the result of evil spirits in your head that can only be relieved by drilling holes into your skull. It’s been disproven time and time again.

    Oil does not come from dinosaurs or fossils. It is the product of algae blooms that occurred in the shallows of oceans many millions of years ago — where nutrient-rich water flowed from rivers and the algae, after dying, would be covered over with sediment before they had a chance to rot.

    Just to address your points above, let’s focus on #2: “The fact that wells that are capped often refill after a period of time.” Fact? Really? Name me ONE major oil field that has not gone through the predictable pattern of rising production, plateau and then decline. By your logic, my home region (Western PA, where the first oil well was drilled) should be resuming production soon since all the wells there were depleted and capped nearly 100 years ago. Yet, they are not.

    Personally, I think that people’s belief in abiotic oil is the same as belief in free energy or cold fusion being imminent or the like — they simply have too much investment in the current paradigm of ever-increasing “growth” and the notion that it might be coming to an end scares the hell out of them due to the uncertainty of how collapse will unfold or what will come after it’s over. But at the end of the day, it’s a complete fiction that only serves to blind us to the reality of the situation that we are in.

    • Chris, I don’t know anything about this subject but I can tell you that my family has a well in Kansas that belonged to my Grandfather that was capped because the production fell off back in the 70’s. Fast forward to 2010 – it was re-opened and pumping again. Your comment peaked my curiosity so I googled “oil wells refilling” and it does appear there are extensive articles on the subject. This is just one of thousands of articles…

      It might be insightful for you to read the above article. What I have found in 50 some odd years of life, is that those who use derogatory language to defend their position tend to be less informed. I don’t pretend know why oil wells refill but I know first hand that they in-fact do.

  23. Okay, listened to this interview twice and must revise my initial statement.

    Rather than the bare-knuckles verbal brawling I wrongly pre-concieved as occurring over minor issues (Dixieland; Climate Change), I must applaude Jack and Jim for the thoughtful, broad-minded, considerate discussion they had. Make that standing ovation applause!

    Jim’s articulation on the lack of leadership at every level was spot on.

    One thing, perhaps the thing that attacks me to the few folks like Spirko and Kunstler is the hopefulness, the optimism of their attitudes. Yes, tough times are on us, and tougher times are ahead with the reality that some won’t do very well, but reliance on yourself and your community is a much healthier, enduring paradym than isolation and goverment/corporate subsidy (Happy Motoring/Big Agri-business).
    “Be careful where you select as your home” are words that ring true and I for one am very glad to live in a free republic where we can choose. There is no perfect place for everybody as Jack, a Texan at heart, coincides with the smothering difficulties of southern heat for example.

    As a reader of Jim’s for years and a listener of both Jack and Jim, it’s been interesting to hear the co-mingling of ideas from divergent perspectives for some time now and this episode anchors all of those hinted suspicions. Great fun.
    As an aside, Kunstler’s vocabulary and metaphorical usage is….astounding.

  24. Very good episode Mr. Spirko. I admire you for presenting an opposing (although not antagonistic) view. There are many points with both the guest and with the comments that I don’t agree with. Some were addressed already, but there are a few that I don’t believe were fittingly refuted. I’ll do my best to maintain a civil discourse.

    I’ll start with the commenter with whom I disagree the most.

    Chris Harrison – You state that you’re an engineer, well I’m (among other things) a machinist. I’ve had to work with engineers my entire career, and there are damn few I have ever agreed with. You’re not one of those few. You espouse that common statist belief that “monopolies will be borne of private industry”. It’s that line of irrational thinking that created the counter-productive, and idiotic Antitrust Laws. Contrary to elitist rhetoric, we “knuckle-draggers” can see through the line of crap. Your stance is analogized with the following:

    The government cuts off my leg, then gives me a prosthetic one and states, “Without our assistance (meddling) he wouldn’t be able to walk”.

    It may come as a shock, but your type of intelligentsia does not befuddle everyone into agreement. We know when you’re “dressing up a turd”. To blame Capitalism (free market) for problems that mixed economy and statism create will not be tolerated by this American. Peddle the snake oil across the pond if you must.

    You state-
    “Would you say that the self-reliant yeoman farmer of 150+ years ago was more or less free than the industrial worker of today? I’d put my money on the former every day and twice on Sunday — and yet they DID NOT HAVE RAPID AUTOMOBILE TRANSPORT.”

    It is this type of romantic fantasizing that is completely devoid of reason. You’re comparing apples to oranges. My recommendation is that you pick up a history book and put down the revisionist history book, Sir. Since you seem quite fond of blessing us with your knowledge, I would strongly suggest you read The Anti-Industrial Left by Ayn Rand. Just be sure you don’t drive your mean, destructive automobile to Barnes and Noble to pick it up.

    Mr. Kunstler – While I disagree personally and professionally with many of your beliefs, you are more than welcome at our home down in “Dixieland” (Florida). I’d consider it an honor if you would visit my bastion of personal independence and shoot some of my guns. See, I’m an Oregon boy that transplanted to Florida. After many years of Californians moving to Oregon in droves, I was able to see for myself how statism and subtle Communism can destroy a society. It didn’t take long for their votes to destroy our State. After reading the works of Ayn Rand, Leonard Peikoff, Robert A. Heinlein and many others, I realized just what kind of line I had been fed.

    My recommendation is that you continue your discussions with Mr. Spirko. He’s quite an insightful fellow. Just remember that we can all be wrong, but it’s the willingness to consider other views and make changes that brings you strength.

    There are other points I didn’t address that I’m still steaming about, but I’ll end my rant here out of respect for Mr. Spirko.

    • @Nathan –
      Regarding your statement about ‘monopolies will be borne of private industry’.. (‘irrational thinking.. crap.. etc.)

      While it may be true in some ‘hypothetical’ pure capitalist/free market economy that this statement is not true.. in the world we actually live in, it has happened historically. It doesn’t ALWAYS happen, but it does happen.

      For example, read the ‘Corruption and scandal’ section of this:

      Or for an example currently causing everyone grief.. how about the ‘Federal Reserve’. Or the USPS.

      Again.. not saying the world MUST be this way.. just that it currently is. Rand’s ‘giants’, not only in her books, but in the world we live in, are replaced by leaches, sycophants and psychopaths.. who seek money and power for its own sake. Not by an exchange of equal value, but by manipulation and trickery.

        • From what I’ve read we hold many common fundamental beliefs. I don’t personally agree that anarchism is the right choice. Especially since his beliefs were founded upon what we now call Libertarian ideals. I also noted that he became a member of First International (International Workingmen’s Association). Would it be accurate to assume that his frustration with “the system” caused him to choose irrational paths?

      • @Nathan (reply button hidden) –
        I don’t agree with all of Lysander’s ideas either.

        But I appreciate people with strongly held beliefs who can articulate WHY they believe what they do. There are thinkers, and there are regurgitators.

        I’m willing to reexamine and potentially change my beliefs when I’m confronted with new ideas or information. Which happens fairly often as my I am regularly discovering just how ignorant I really am.

        Of course on the other hand, I can ignore old arguments and ideas that I’ve already examined and/or discarded, without having to defend myself to their proponent. (freedom)

  25. @RogueLibertarian – I think an A/C unit like that could easily be run off a battery bank charged by solar and a Listeroid diesel generator running off waste plastic oil as a backup. I will look into this.

  26. Jason and Engineer, thank you gentlemen.

    Insidious, I fail to see how mixed economy, statist bureaucracy and labor unions can be labeled Capitalism. We must be thinking of two different versions. Those sycophants, leeches, psychopaths and I would add, moochers are variations of sociopathic disorders that are encouraged to breed in the cesspool of socialism and planned economy. To borrow a quote that “Cheryl1” uses on the forum:

    If you don’t stir the pot now and again, a scum tends to form.

    Please don’t try and tell me that true Capitalism would only work in a vacuum, or any other such nonsense. I will never buy into the lie that the system that destroyed Capitalism is 1) actual Capitalism, 2) going to save us from our current situation, or 3) not continually trying to blame actual Capitalism for our problems.

    If you truly believe that the government taking property and then giving it to their buddy that owned a railroad company is “free market”, then I suggest you read Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal by Ayn Rand. Once you understand the section entitled “Man’s Rights” we can continue this discussion.

    • @Nathan –
      I’m not stating that those things are representative of the definition of capitalism or free markets. Nor am I stating that free markets (or pure capitalism) are impossible in reality.

      What I am stating (poorly) is that ‘power corrupts..’ and money is power. And the richer the blood, the more leaches it attracts. So what I’m talking about is where we are now, not where we could ‘hypothetically’ be if we had ‘free markets’. The scum has NOT been skimmed, and its now forming a hard suffocating crust.

      So, I’m not sure what you’re arguing against. We’re currently living in a fascist state. Fascism didn’t get us here, but fascism is where we’re at.

      If you’re just saying ‘Pure Capitalism, as proposed by Rand, has never been practiced.. therefore you can’t blame Capitalism for any of the ills of the world..’ ..well.. you can’t then argue that pure capitalism would be the answer, as its never been tested.

      P.S. I’ve read all of Rand’s works..

      • Aww no fair. So the statists get to make an argument about “proving a negative”, but we rational thinkers are not allowed the same courtesy? No problem. Even though I have my reasons for why pure Capitalism would work, why don’t we start with what abso-fucking-lutely DOESN’T work. When you take a system designed as a Republic with a Capitalist economy, and force it to become a Democracy (I shudder) utilizing “planned economy” as some sort of economic system, you create what we have now. But you already know that. So my question comes back to you. What are you arguing for? From the sources you’ve given me, I can only infer that you’re fond of a man who gave up on Liberty and chose anarchy with a splash of socialism.

  27. Frankly, I don’t understand why anyone would get angry with Jack for putting interviewing someone with ideas that some find objectionable.

    Frankly, I prefer clarity to agreement and when both the interviewer and interviewee are informed, intelligent, and generating more light than heat, then it is always profitable. You either find out that you were wrong on something, or you have to become more informed to find out why the other guy is wrong.

    If two people agree on everything, one of them is redundant.

    • Not only redundant, but probably intellectually lazy. 😉

      Challenge/resistance leads to strengthening.. lack of opposition leads to weakness. (brains/beliefs as well as muscles)

  28. Best series of comments in a long time. Great job, I enjoyed the read. I live in Texas but I’m from Arizona. I wished all the yankees felt the way he does about the south and southwest, my home state would be better off (yes Arizona is overrun with yankees and midwesterners). But I love it hot, and wouldn’t mind no A/C, it would purge the west and let things get back to normal. I grew up without A/C, and it can be done. What I saw in Arizona is all the yanks coming down and pumping water up for fountains, evaporation ponds (lakes to the yanks), and lawns lawns and more lawns. If the North would move out, the desert will return to desert, and this desert rat may move back home. But I love Texas, and will gladly defend her with my firearms, individualism, and general bad attitude toward those who want to tell me what to do. But I am glad he came on. I sensed as many others, that he is in transition. Who knows, maybe he will lead the way for Southerns to move north and show them what liberty is. P.S. I hope you told him to get a 1911 – a great southern gun (yes I know Browning was from Utah, but close enough for me).

    • I live in Austin and we are overrun with people from the left coast. So yeah i’d put up with no A/C if they’d leave before they ruin the place. BTW a STI 1911 is a great Texas made 1911 and goes great with a Texas made LaRue AR.

  29. Thank you for this wonderful interview with JH Kunstler. I’ve been a big fan of his every since I saw him on TED. His straight forward, no nonsense delivery of his message is refreshing in the sea of lies and deceit spewed to us everyday in the MSM.

  30. When he said that we need to rethink the way in which we inhabit the land and get away from the suburban thing it made me think of this verse from the Bible.

    Isaiah 5:8 Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth!

  31. Just finished listening to this episode. The greatest line was at the end when Jack said “The greatest failure of leadership in this country is a failure of individual leadership. Self responsibility.” This needs to be in the quotes hall of fame. I’m going to keep this one Jack. thanks

  32. This was the Superbowl of the podcasting world….kinda.

    Two great minds and plenty of food for thought!

  33. The interview was excellent, you can parse elements of Kunstler’s opinions all you want, and I have my own disagreements. His overview is what’s important and becoming more and more self-evident. Much respect to Jack for allowing the guest to expand on his thoughts, much like Max Keiser respects his guests. One note; I think “Geography of Nowhere” is Kuntsler’s best book and would be appreciated by “Survival Podcast” readers.

  34. I started listening to this episode but I fell asleep and only heard the beginning so I will have to try again tomorrow. That often happens as I get home from work and lie down for a bit and put a show on.

    I had heard of Kunstler before as someone on the Maine permaculture forums had mentioned his podcast. I had listened to him before and it was alot of left leaning political analysis. I haven’t listened to him at all for quiet a while. I was a little surprised to see him on TSP, but the other guy who is fairly left on a lot of issues that I like is Electric Politics. That show has a very wide range of topics including some conspiracy stuff, quite a few guests on and is actually pro second amendment but very strongly supportive of the man made climate change stuff.

  35. This guy is obviously not connected to government in any way because he is trying to make sensible arguments. I am not sure what is going to happen, but whatever it may be, I seem to doubt it’s going to make alot of sense.

    I heard actually San Francisco is working on a walk to work/take the train or ride a bike boulevard area that is no cars allowed, but it is part of agenda 21.

    • Eugene, OR. had a car-free downtown area. It died. It won’t work well until it becomes a necessity IMO. Perhaps in SF it will go better now than Eugene’s did through the 70’s into the 80’s and 90’s. Perhaps Eugene will go back to it in another decade. I don’t think it’s time yet for that to go well, and if it doesn’t it will just push those businesses back out into the parks and malls, or worse yet put them under, or a combination of the two.

  36. I’ve long been a fan of both Jack and Jim, and it was great to get those two big brains together to have a podcast. They have very different backgrounds and biases, but their outlook for the future is very complementary. Jim’s writing style (like Jack’s podcasts) is confrontational – forcing you to challenge your preconceived ideas and beliefs.

    As Jack says – think for yourself and incorporate the ideas that make sense to you.

  37. There’s a very old technology that allows us to convert coal into a fuel that will run automobiles. I think we’d sooner do that (and dispense with any environmental scruples) before we gave up our cars.

    • The technology requires that we expend far more energy in the coal-to-liquid-oil process than the net energy we get out of the resulting oil.

      • Oil Lady: But if the alternative is riding horses, an expensive and inefficient fuel is still better than none. When they faced international sanctions, apartheid South Africa had to choose between horses and coal conversion — they chose coal.

        • You don’t get it. This isn’t a question of money, it’s a question of energy. Coal-to-liquids is a process which requires more energy than what we get out at the end of the process. It’s the same as if you cut six inches off the top of your blanket and then sewed those same six inches onto the bottom of that same blanket because you THOUGHT it would make the blanket longer. Expending energy to get energy is sheer lunacy. And yet our whole civilization has finally arrived at exactly that precipice of madness. Going coal-to-liquids is to jump off of that cliff and fall headlong into the insanity of endlessly expending energy to get energy.

          I’d rather ride horses than try to rescue this now unrescue-able lifestyle.

        • Oil Lady, your analogy doesn’t work. What we’re talking about here is the consumption of two pounds of coal to produce the gasoline equivalent of one (or whatever the exact ratio would be). Yes, it’s very inefficient, as is wood gasification, which has also been used in cases of oil shortage. In the long run, natural gas conversion would be a better alternative, assuming we had enough left at the time.

          Ultimately it is all about cost (the REAL cost, including subsidies, environmental damage, etc.) — and whether we can afford those costs individually and collectively. How the dollars and cents add up is how most people will decide which way to go. I think the cost would have to be awfully high before many people would consider riding horses. And I’m not knocking you for wanting to do that — I just don’t think many people will do it only to prove a point, they will do it because it’s their best or their only option.

          It’s also worth pointing out that horses are not without their own environmental drawbacks. Southern New England, for example, is today mostly-wooded, but was once 95% cleared, primarily for hayfields.

  38. Great interview, thanks to both Jack and JHK. Jack, your quote on individual leadership is awesome and one that will resonate and built agreement among people from differing baises. I love the moments of silence when Jack is letting something he disagrees with pass by, sometimes it cracks me up. What an excellent interview technique, I could learn much from that in my daily interactions. 😉

  39. People who get overly dogmatic and inflexible about issues such as sustainability and survivalism are deluding themselves and missing the big picture at their own peril. I for one, was once heavily invested in all things martial and “tactical”, and espoused a very ignorant “if it’s me and my K bar against Nature, we’re gonna kick her ass” kind of mentality. Then I met an anti- gun “neo primativist” woman, who was all decked out in homemade buckskin clothes and carried an array of amazing primitive tools she had made herself. After thinking she was a deluded, mystical hippie at first, I ended up realizing she was a wealth of very important information, and had an amazing set of skills that I was close to clueless about.

    A year later, she dumps the anti gun stance, and asks me what shotgun she should buy. This is how you build this community, you check your pre- conceived notions at the door and find common ground. Jack did that with Jim big time this week, and I consider it a HUGE accomplishment for TSP.

    And there is a difference between Jim and Jack. Jim is in his 60’s, has recently suffered some major health issues, and is generally a bit of a cranky, curmudgeonly, set-in-his-ways ex hippie type. On his blog, he’s railed against NASCAR, tattoos, the Tea Party, etc. etc., over the years, but I’ve honestly seen him start to really come around recently and push a much less polemic, more pragmatic agenda than he did in years past, when I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t have gone anywhere near a podcast with the word “survival” in it. For a successful author and journalist borne out of the “Me” generation who was clearly heavily invested in liberal/ Democrat politics for most of his life that’s pretty big.

    Jack on the other hand, is still young, idealistic, and relatively pragmatic in his worldview, so his willingness to have Kunstler on didn’t really surprise me much, since he’s had everyone from Christians, to pacifists to lesbians to military contractors on TSP. I hope he mixes up and diversifies the guests and audience even more, because it will end up with very important networking and alliances being formed.

  40. sorry i’m late on the conversation but we had an exercise at the base all week. jim was dead on about the south! i cringed as well when he said it. i have read all of his books except “too much magic” he is right. i grew up in rural north florida, bradford county- look it up, it was super rural back in the 1970’s. we could go anywhere we wanted an go fishing in creeks or ponds and shoot squirrels or dove- we kids knew everyone around. i came back home from the air force (mid 1990’s) and houses and trailers were every where. we lived without air-conditioning when i was a kid, i bought an old house on family land after the air force and i didnt have even a window unit ac until 2007 when we had a crazy hot summer and i had just returned from denmark where it was still cold. the south will go back to being an “agricultural back water” as jim called it. if you think for aminute that your wife is gonna put up with living in a trailer or a modern closed in tight house with out ac, try it. next july and august try it i dare you. there is a reason folks down here woke up before dawn and was done with most of the farm chores before noon and went back out and finished up after supper it is too hot in mid day in the inland south. i am 1floridacracker just my opinion but i was raised here w/o ac and say the rise in population, and hope to live to see the mass exodus.

    • I was offended at first when the guest talked of the South turning back into a rural agricultural backwater, then I realized there was no need to be. It was a compliment, because in many ways it could return to what made her good at heart.

      • Amen, brutha! I want to echo what Jack said.

        I grew up in rural Oklahoma and now live in the South. There was Freedom! We played in mud and dirt with our imagination and I loved it. Today, I am much more resilient because of it. Nothing makes ambition shine through more than lack of resources. I’d much rather hire someone who “made due” than someone who had access to many resources. I like the fight in a person. I like the hunger.

        I’m not talking about meanness or poverty. I’m talking about drive. I never went hungry or without anything, but nothing came easy.

        Listen to me, now. In these here United States, today, we have everything. Everything! We have refrigeration! Are you fucking kidding me? We have refrigeration! Some humility is in order. Leg up? We have the biggest leg up in the universe. So don’t complain and help, help, help, your neighbor. It’ll come back around, I promise.

    • I was in grade school in Florida (Jacksonville, FLA) from 1979 – 1985. While we did have AC at home, we did not in most of the schools I attended and somehow we managed. I was in Catholic school for a few years until I managed to figure out how to get myself kicked out. They got some sort of donation and put in fairly large room sized stand alone units in the classrooms. The catch was we went to School until June 7-12ish depending on the year. We were permitted to use the AC in May, June and Sept when we came back and after that by “special approval only”, special approval never came.

      I spent almost every single day of my summers outside playing and I mean in the way kids used to play. Pick up football (often tackleloco instead), we played “guns” which was like paint ball or airsoft before they existed. Kids running in the swamps with gators and venomous snakes and when you got the drop on someone you said “bang your dead” and hauled ass while they had to count out loud to 20 (slowly) before they were back in the game.

      Transportation was by foot or by bike. We build jumps for our bikes that would scare a parent today do absolute death and competed for who could get the highest or furthest on them. We fished anywhere we could drop a line and no one would chase us away. I would bet in the summers we spent 10 hours or more outside doing dangerous things and we all survived with only the occasional road burn or sprained ankle.

      Somehow we survived! So yea if the South goes back to those days, I don’t think I would be too upset about it.

      I also find it funny how tough today’s kids think they are, I wonder how well they would have fared with the average kid (southern or otherwise) from the 70-80s? When I moved to PA it was more of the same minus the heat, of course then the cold was what we had to deal with.

    • What Kunstler was referring to was the way that the South, after it was defeated in the Civil War, became largely a source of raw materials and agricultural commodities for Northern industry. This is a conclusion that is pretty well accepted among most historians, and is especially borne out by the fate of the old independent yeoman farmers during the antebellum period (who relied largely on the maintenance of common access to undeveloped land for hunting, fishing, etc.) who became the “poor white sharecroppers” of the postbellum period as those common rights evaporated under enclosure and the “sufficiency first” ideal became strangled by production of crops for market.

  41. @ NathanLove (flippydidit) — Since you took the time to state some severe objections to my previous statements, I will take the time to do so in response to what you wrote.

    I will start with you statement in your conclusion to me, where you advised me to “pick up a history book and put down the revisionist history book.” This will probably come as a shock to you, but I actually have a BA in American History (graduated summa cum laude and was president of my campus history club) and completed half of the credits toward an MA in the same. When you tell me to “put down the revisionist history book,” I am left to wonder if you know the definition of revisionist history — at least in the term that historians themselves use. Should I ignore W.E.B. DuBois’ “Black Reconstruction” as well as Eric Foner’s “Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution” and instead return to the older school that placed all the blame for the failures of reconstruction on the freed slaves? Should I ignore any merits of “bottom-up” historical works, such as those by Howard Zinn (which helped to grow the field of social history) and instead only refer to those works that present the “great people” as the only ones who shape our world? I’m pretty well read on a broad swath of history — not only those that could be considered “revisionist” but also some pretty traditional works as well — and also confident in my own abilities of comprehension, analysis and synthesis with the same as well.

    Second, let’s move back up to your first argument — that the failings of a statist economy are not the fault of capitalism. This is nothing more than the mirror image of the same argument used by communists — that the failure of the USSR’s system was only because it was not “pure communism,” and that communism would work if it were only practiced in a pure form. In both instances this argument is, in a word, bullshit. The process of a truly mixed economy in this country goes back to the administration of George Washington and the economic development policies promoted by his Treasury Secretary, Alexander Hamilton. I find it quite revealing that while I actually provided an EXAMPLE of the problems inherent with industrial capitalism and why a truly “free market” has not worked out the way its proponents would suggest, in your objection you provide nothing more than rhetorical anger and numerous instances of logical fallacy.

    As examples to the latter, I offer the following:
    1. ” You espouse that common statist belief that “monopolies will be borne of private industry”. It’s that line of irrational thinking that created the counter-productive, and idiotic Antitrust Laws.” Strawman argument, because if you note in my previous statement I used the Gilded Age and the rise of railroad barons as my example. This is the time BEFORE the antitrust legislation, which was also one of the periods of greatest inequality and corruption in our nation’s history.
    2. “Your stance is analogized with the following: The government cuts off my leg, then gives me a prosthetic one and states, ‘Without our assistance (meddling) he wouldn’t be able to walk'” Completely false analogy that bears no resemblance to my actual argument — it only goes to bolster the strawman argument you constructed, which I cited above.
    3. “To blame Capitalism (free market) for problems that mixed economy and statism create will not be tolerated by this American. Peddle the snake oil across the pond if you must.” Your overt identification as an “American” combined with telling me to go “across the pond” (and therefore characterizing me as a lesser American than you and others who agree with you) is an ad hominem — attacking the person rather than the argument, which you never provided an example to disprove.
    4. “Just be sure you don’t drive your mean, destructive automobile to Barnes and Noble to pick it up.” This is reducto ad absurdum (the false reduction of an argument to a binary choice regardless of any complexity of the actual topic) combined with a red herring (changing the topic to the destructive nature of automobiles, a subject that I did not mention in my initial post).

    As for your rebuttal to my argument regarding freedom of yeoman farmers versus freedom brought about by automobile transport today — you cannot even cite an actual HISTORIAN to bolster your argument. Ayn Rand is a NOVELIST, not a HISTORIAN. I provided a link to Illich’s essay in my previous statement. I’d also suggest you read “The Story of American Freedom” by Eric Foner for an in-depth discussion of the changing nature of the term through American history.

    For the record, I have studied the pre Civil War period in considerable depth — especially the life and role of the southern yeoman farmer in shaping the attitudes and institutions of that time. My conclusions come from this study, from which I would be more than happy to provide you with a considerable bibliography that actually includes real historians.

    I am not writing this in the hopes that I will be able to sway you, or those who agree with your sentiments, in the least. However, there are others who listen to and value this show who do not come from a right-libertarian background or viewpoint and do not subscribe to that viewpoint hook-line-and-sinker. Personally, I could care one whit whether or not you think you could get along with me — we are just two people on a largely anonymous discussion board. However, if you think that you are going to call me out with little more than logical fallacies combined with a refusal to look at how ideologies actually have worked in the real world, well… that just ain’t gonna happen.

  42. The fact that you have a degree in History, or that you are quick to throw that out into the discussion does not shock me at all. You can throw all the “sources” you want, or drop all the names you want. Makes no difference to me.

    I’m that guy that lives and works in the real world. I don’t spend my life behind ivy covered walls explaining to everyone how much I know about a world I was too scared to join. You won’t find me pontificating the “justice” of reparation, which is why I assume you are so supportive of “Black Reconstruction” books (and their authors).

    Much as I wouldn’t approach a drowning man who would attempt to drag us both to our deaths, I’m not going to continue debating you. You defend a system that was fundamentally flawed from the beginning. You assert that Ayn Rand was just a NOVELIST. You propose that all those pieces of paper that are awarded by peers have some merit in declaring your peers as HISTORIANS and their “earned” accomplishments. Well you are correct. Ayn Rand was a novelist.

    She also studied at the University of Petrograd in 1924. Guess what she studied. Philosophy and history. She graduated. In your own system that makes her a historian as well. Of course, now you’ll probably decide to challenge the quality of education provided by a backward country like Russia. Isn’t that how the game is played? Albert Einstein was just a patent clerk. My deep sympathies are for you and your historian peers. After all, Ayn Rand was able to do a better job than any of you or your peers.

    Whether or not I could get along with you is actually irrelevant. I’ve been known to go drinking with others I don’t agree with, just for the opportunity to enter into great discussion. That’s why I’m here. However, after all is said and done, where are we? That’s my point. I’ll concede the debate to you. Not because I don’t have points to raise, or that I can’t back up my “logical fallacies” as you like to call them. I’m choosing not to for a reason.

    So now that everyone can see that you win and I lose. Where do we go? What would you propose? What “system” should we utilize? I think this is a much more useful direction with our discourse. Don’t you?

  43. I’m surprised that some listeners would question Jack’s decision to interview JHK, and question whether JHK shares the values of the TSP community. Speaking personally, the tandem of JHK’s “Long Emergency” and Bill McKibben’s “Deep Economy” switched me onto the idea of prepping and connecting to a community a couple years before Jack started his podcast. In “Too Much Magic” Kunstler admits to being a life-long democrate; as such he is insterested in the role government should have in transitioning our nation from an economy built on cheap energy to whatever the heck’s going to come next. Rugged individuals who are hyper-sensitive to government interference probably won’t care to hear that. But everyone here should take heart that in Kunstler we have a best-selling author who reaches a liberal audience who is sympathetic to our cause–a very good thing, indeed.

  44. I listen to every podcast Jack puts out, and seek out additional interviews of him. I read everything Jim writes, and seek out interviews of him. Both love to talk, almost to the point that they love the sound of their own voices too much. Both terribly concerned about where this world is headed, and how we’re going to prepare. Two very different men, very different backgrounds, walking in the same direction.

    Jack: Southern country boy who loves his creature comforts: his four-wheeled ride, his guns, keeping cool, and lots and lots of meat. Jim: northern Yankee cityboy who loves his creature comforts: his two-wheeled ride, ordered beauty, nearby amenities, and lots and lots of vegetables.

    Both men walking the very same path. Is there room for both on this lane? Can they walk together and lend each other their wisdom?

    Why do I listen to both of these guys? I find myself exasperated with each of them at different times: “Why is he so clueless? Can’t he see the problem with that? It’s like a huge blockage in his road and he’s heading right for it.”

    Jim sees that energy resources are going to trip us up, and many of Jack’s creature comforts will be almost impossible to maintain–no gas for the ride, and the roads won’t be in good enough shape anyway–our government unable to maintain. Jack sees that Jim’s vision of a beautiful utopian walkable community is just a bit too fey, too twee–it will be much more difficult, much more dirty than Jim wants to get–knowing only how to garden won’t cut it.

    Lovely, lovely to get these two on air with each other. I want more. I want to know what Jack thinks about living in Texas without a vehicle–give me that “Jim” scenario. I want to know what Jim thinks about living up there in the NY town he won’t name (as if we can’t figure it out) with people next door who live in a trailer and keep lots of old stuff around because it will be useful someday–give me that “Jack” scenario. These are simplistic scenarios, of course, devoid of personality nuances and rife with stereotypes.

    Both men absolutely believe in community–see it as the cornerstone, the bulwark of their respective living arrangements. I personally want pieces of Jim’s ideas and pieces of Jack’s ideas in my own community, because that, that will grow a fantastically strong place.

    It’s like listening to the bullfrog and the bluejay sing a counterpoint melody. Can we hear them talk together more?

  45. I like what he said about trains. In my observation America is wasting money on boondoggle light rail projects that cost 100x more than buses and roads and are half as effective as buses and roads while ignoring the interstate rail system. We have it backwards.

    I’d love to see some transportation tech applied to rail freight and see what improvements we can get out of it.

    I’ve had a dream of sorts for many years of buying a surplus locomotive and a few passenger cars and competing with Amtrak on a Portland to Seattle route.

    Lastly, great show. Looking forward to hearing the follow ups.

  46. Great interview Jack, well done ! Now I’m hoping for Dmitry Orlov, Paul Craig Roberts, Chris Hedges. In a world where most people’s compasses are spinning, your audience and guests have their compasses pointing towards reality and truth.

  47. @ NathanLove (flippydidit)

    Again, in the absence of any evidence to back up your claims, you resort to personally attacking a person you have never met combined with just making more shit up. For the record, I don’t work in an office — I work in a construction field trailer. I work with tradesmen more than other engineers. None of them have an issue with me because I treat them fairly, have my shit together and don’t put them in a position where they have to rework things, and don’t view a single one of them as a man (or woman) any less talented or intelligent that I am. History has always been a passion of mine, however, and my knowledge is simply the accumulated result of reading a lot of books, both during my degree study and outside of it. If my writing comes off as elitist I make no apologies for that, because it is simply the result of being very well read along with having a natural knack for writing.

    “Black Reconstruction” has nothing to do with reparations. It was written by W.E.B. DuBois, the first black man to earn a PhD from Harvard. What it was, was the first book that “revised” the history of Reconstruction as was commonly accepted during the early 1900s, the nadir of post Civil War race relations in this country (after Plessy v. Ferguson enshrined “separate but equal”). It chronicled the way that the freed slaves worked to improve themselves against all odds after the Civil War, and demonstrated that the collapse of Reconstruction was NOT the fault of these freed slaves, as was the commonly circulated story in historical circles of that time. In this sense, it helped to “revise” the original story, thus why it is called “revisionist.” The fact that you don’t even know who he was is a sad indictment of our educational system and culture, as he was a figure of African descent almost as important in our nation’s history as Fredrick Douglass or David Walker.

    That you still continue to push Ayn Rand as some fount of historical knowledge tells me just how immovable and closed-minded you have chosen to be. You are free to buy into her philosophy as expressed in her works, just as I am not. But to hold her up as a superior historian remains just plain laughable. Trust me when I tell you that if you had come here from the opposite perspective, citing Noam Chomsky as your sole source — I would have spoken out against your views just the same. My views are borne out of many different sources, not 1 or 2, and my analysis and synthesis of the arguments and primary documents contained within those sources.

    You ask me what “system” we should adopt moving forward. That is precisely the reason why I responded so forcefully to your previous statement. I don’t think we should choose any “system”, nor do I think that to do so is actually possible. Philosophical systems inevitably fall apart when subjected to the real world (that place you accuse me of seeing out my window instead of inhabiting) and the irrationality of human nature. That’s the reason that neither capitalism NOR communism work as their philosophical proponents say they will — communism just failed faster because it was more rigid than capitalism. It’s also the one sticking point that makes me self-identify more as an anarchist than a libertarian, because I just don’t believe that there is any such overarching thing as the “free market” on which we should place our hopes — although I do believe in the positive use of markets as one of several means of exchanging goods and services.

    My personal belief is that we just need to muddle along through the coming predicaments facing us the best we can, figuring out what works best for us and our communities and regions in different instances. In some cases, this will produce freer markets than we have today — particularly in the case of food production. In other cases, it will be considerably more restrictions on economic activity — such as communities and regions bringing an end to the way that industrial producers are currently able to externalize costs such as pollution and ecological degradation to everyone else.

    A core part of this muddling along will be a return to the idea of the self-reliant household and extended family. Toward that end, I have personally gotten my permaculture design certificate, begun transforming my 1.3 ac into food forests and annual gardens, getting out of debt and saving up capital. However, at no time will you ever hear me say that we should adopt a certain system moving forward, or that a certain philosophy has all the answers. Absolute certainty is the domain of fools and zealots, and I have no desire to be either — at least on a permanent basis.

  48. @James Kunstler How much will gasoline need to cost for ox to become the most economically feasible way to work a field? It seems like this would be in the range of hundreds $ per gallon. Are you really suggesting that will happen? If it does, it will happen over a very long period of time, where other technologies and fuels can compete to be the most economical solution.

    • I have a farmer friend who does custom round baling, almost 24 hours a day when the hay is in. He says that even if diesel went up to $100 a gallon, it would be worth it, because he gets so much bang for that energy.

      But the rest of us? We’d be doing a lot of walking and bicyling.

      And by then, we’d be making our own, with the little stills.

    • It’s not a cost thing; it’s an availiblility thing. If there are long-term shortages, fuel will go to the “vital” things first: military, government, big ag, power plants, cities, etc. You might not be able to purchase liquid fuels at any cost for periods of time. The intermittency of gasoline supply will hurt the suburban/rural middle class more than the absolute price.

  49. i think that what every southerner has been getting at is that if we go back to being an agricultural backwater so be it life was still life before A/C, only less yankees telling us how wrong we are doing things and telling everyone how much they miss things up north. bring it on! i already have two mule trained to harness and about 10 calves a year that could be trained and sold to those wanting oxen.

  50. @Chris Harrison-While I certainly don’t agree with your basic tenets, I will applaud you in the idea that “muddling through it” is a far better choice than anything our politicians have to offer. I still personally believe that throughout our Nation’s history, the closer we get to free market Capitalism, the more prosperous (and sometimes even more peaceful) we have been. Although not always the case, I’m still for working toward the system that has shown legitimate promise. At least until we screwed it up with government and corporate “buddy system” meddling. Personal freedoms and individual accountability are virtues that it would seem we both hold as valuable.

    You stated – “My views are borne out of many different sources, not 1 or 2, and my analysis and synthesis of the arguments and primary documents contained within those sources.”

    As are mine, I just didn’t see your arguments as a personal attack that required qualitative defenses. We don’t know each other, so my premises were based on discussions in a forum context. Believe it or not I don’t personally think that Randian Capitalism holds all the answers. Nor was it meant to. Any philosophy should be considered a framework to build on, and not an absolute.

    Congratulations on moving your personal and economic goals in line with self-reliance. Keep up the good work!

  51. @Nathan Love (flippydidit)

    Thank you for your gracious reply. I hardly have everything in order so far, but I am working to get it a little further in that direction each and every day. I saw your post on yesterday’s episode that you operate a small farm mostly for the purposes of self-reliance and self-sufficiency — kudos to you for getting that going, it’s what I aspire to have built up within the next few years.

    It often amazes me in these kinds of circles how when we get beyond the “what do you think” and instead focus on the “what are you doing or do you want to do,” that many of our differences melt away and we find ourselves largely in agreement. That’s part of why I love TSP and many of the other podcasts I listen to — because they attract people from a right perspective (such as yourself) and from a left perspective (such as me), and in the end we often end up shaking our heads over how much we actually agree on after so much of the philosophical bullshit is cleared out of the way.

    And who knows — I might just be the kind of engineer you could find yourself getting along with…. 😀


    • It’s very possible that you are one of those few engineers. I’ve never really been that concerned with what a person thinks, as long as their why (and how they came to it) are a fully formed entity. Often on forums there are posters spewing forth instigation based on rhetoric they’ve been trained. It’s the reasoning process that brings them to their opinions that concern me (or lack thereof).

      It took a few of your posts to see that the two definitions of Capitalism we hold aren’t completely different, but are distant enough that I don’t need to take offense at the slandering. Truly, what many people view as “capitalism” is a foul and wretched thing. Randian Capitalism (which hasn’t been fully realized) takes a lot of direct and indirect trashing from those who never even learned what free market represents. Not even in the high school civics class they slept through. It’s difficult for me to sit back and listen to Capitalism be accused of where we are now, and that “planned economy” (one of the primary causes) is actually the cure.

      For that I apologize.

      We aren’t nearly as self-reliant as we’d like to be, although I’m sure that’s the prominent reply among all striding this path. Nevertheless, this road is wide enough for all who care to join us. I’d be honored to move over enough to share the journey, as a lonely walk is a tragedy without necessity.