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Part 5: 2017, When The Wheels Finally Come Off

Kunstler  |  Howard Kunstler

Wild in the Streets

The public is just plain pissed off, and remains pissed off after the Trump Victory. Their anger has been fermenting for decades as their economic prospects dwindled and they began to understand how it all worked against them. The battered middle class might have gotten a temporary thrill from the election, but an awful lot of them are still out of work, or working at the humiliating shit-jobs that replaced their old lost jobs in the old real stuff economy. Worse is coming their way in 2017. Theirs is a true existential crisis.

Even under the most favorable circumstances, a stimulus program would not likely get out of congress until much later in 2017, and I personally doubt that it will get through at all. The so-far-fortunate retirees plugged into pensions represent another potential trouble spot. Pension funds are going bust all over the country from the incapacity to stay solvent in a near-ZIRP environment. In 2016, fissures started to show in places like the Dallas Police and Firemen’s Pension fund, when pensioners’ redemptions were shut down. There are pension funds all over the country floundering from the same conditions, since the Fed took the “fix” out of “fixed income.” In the absence of decent “yield,” the pension funds have been herded into risky stock markets, and if those markets blow up, the pension funds are going to blow with them… and then the pensioners’ lives are going to blow up… and then maybe civil order dissolves around the country.

That may be the moment when President Trump and his militarily-weighted cabinet appointees opt for martial law. What a goddamned mess that will be. There is no civilized country on earth with as many small arms per capita than the USA, and despite the fearsome appearance of militarized police forces, you cannot overstate how much deadly mischief a small number of pissed-off people can make with automatic rifles, rocket-propelled-grenades, Semtex plastic explosive, and other fun stuff. It could morph easily to a literal war on bankers and Wall Street in particular, especially if Ice-Nine goes into effect. Bear in mind that a lot of veterans of the endless Middle East wars belong to this suffering economic class, and they actually have some training in the warrior arts.

Their political counterparts in the Democrat / Prog coastal elite, hardcore Hillary, PC-and-unicorn crowd are moving through their post-election Kubler-Ross Transect-of-Grief from denial to anger too. So both sides are quite pissed off and primed for conflict. The Left will certainly do everything possible to oppose Trump and try to make him look bad, whether it’s in the public interest to do so or not. They will throw every monkey-wrench possible into the machinery of governance, up to and including the (mostly Democratic Party weighted) Federal Reserve hierarchy, whose interest rate “dot plot” could be truly a plot to exact revenge on Trump. Of course, that would blow up in their faces since proportionately the coastal elites own much more stock than the Trumpenlumpenprole red-staters, and they could be wiped out in a significant market crash triggered by rising interest rates. But that’s the thing about political rage: it’s the opposite of rational.

There’s no sign that the Democrat / Progs have recognized that their poisonous identity politics played a significant role in their electoral defeat. They will not abandon that endeavor in 2017. They will double-down on it. And as that happens, the Democratic Party will go the way of the Whigs in 1856 — with a whimper, not a bang. God knows who or what will replace them as a credible opposition to Trumpist crypto-Republicanism, although Trump himself stands a good chance of leading that party to oblivion, too, if my forecast of a big financial blow-up comes to pass.

The Red Guard-like action on campus may continue, though it’s hard to imagine the “Snowflakes” besting their infantile hijinks of 2016. What they are demonstrating now is that coercive identity politics is just a new form of leisure-time recreation on campus, like Ultimate Frisbee and the beer blasts of old! Have fun wrecking faculty careers and basking in the Facebook feed! A few still-sane people of all political persuasions are sick of their censorious attacks, reckless persecutions, and insults to reality — such as the mandatory “white privilege” trainings and gender identity personal pronoun crusades. I predict that there will be a revolt among the university trustees and boards of directors against college presidents and deans who pander to the Maoist hysteria, as the damage to higher education and intellectual freedom more generally finally manifests in dropping enrollments and the loss of public funding.

There is every sign that black and white racial conflict will grow worse in the year ahead. The week after Christmas 2016 saw an impressive number of shopping mall mass melees of black teens all over the country. For years, the media went along with the hyperbolic story that innocent black men were being killed by police for no reason — when the overwhelming majority of those cases involved victims brandishing guns or grossly misbehaving in some way liable to get themselves in trouble. Victimology still rules in America. It’s a psychological defense mechanism to relieve the Dem / Prog’s shame and anxiety with the outcome of the long civil rights campaign — namely, black family disintegration, educational failure, and a shocking rate of black-on-black murder. A subsidiary grievance industry, lately led by Black Lives Matter, fans the flames of vengeance against the universal villain, Whitey, whose “privilege” keeps other people down (except, notice, immigrants from China, Korea, Vietnam, India, and other places where Whitey is absent.)

So, now Left and Right are both equally pissed off. It also means you have two adversarial groups who might give themselves permission to turn violent to justify their grievances. If the financial markets tank and the economy freefalls, it is easy to imagine the potential for violent conflict between the Dem / Progs with their Black Lives matter proxies against the Trumpista lumpenproles. It would be a terrible tragic distraction from the business of repairing the common weal, the economy, and the common culture — but so was the Civil War

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