John Michael Greer, James Howard Kunstler, Chris Martenson, Frank Morris, and Dmitry Orlov Discuss Trump, the Inequality Taboo and Other Hot Topics

As readers may know, Lambert and I prefer transcripts since they are much faster to process than listening to videos or podcasts. Chuck L, who also prefers reading, flagged this video:

In most cases I feel the same way and usually will skip watching/listening altogether if there is no transcript. However when I read who was on this panel I was intrigued enough to give it a try, even though it a bit over 2 1/2 hours long. Am I ever glad that I did! Furthermore the discussion is so lively that it’s hard to imagine one would get anywhere nearly as much out of it from just reading it. recommended this video of a panel discussion among John Michael Greer, James Howard Kunstler, Chris Martenson, Frank Morris, and Dmitry Orlov at a recent Center for Progressive Urban Politics forum.

I’ve gotten a bit more than an hour in and concur with Chuck L’s endorsement. The speakers are engaging and often funny despite their unvarnished take on the state of America’s politics and society. The references range from Thucydides to rebar.

You could skip the first ten minutes, which is the introduction of all the participants. One small sour note occurs when they discuss money and taxes, since the more finance-savvy speakers embrace fiscal orthodoxy. However, they do come around to the more important point that the constraints on spending and growth are physical resources and societal capabilities.

I plan to listen in full and hope you have the time to as well.

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  1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

    It is very good – I actually suggested it for Colonel Smithers around a week ago. Frank Morris who is someone I had never heard of has an infectious laugh, this coupled with his wit creates a good feel to the discussion, which considering the weighty topics might have otherwise become very heavy.

    1. Christopher (Dale) Rogers


      Yep, as a result of your suggestion I took the plunge and listened to the entire exchange last week and can heartily recommend it to all, particularly it gives us an opportunity to see who John Michael Greer is, another Blog (The Archdruid Report) that was highlighted here years ago and one I read avidly on a Wednesday – a shame Michael has moved on and stopped Blogging for a while.

      I can’t say I was shocked at the more orthodox economics discussed by the eminent guests, however, I’m confident if they spent a few hours with the likes of Steve Keen, Blythe or Michael Hudson, they’d soon come around to the different ideas and options that are available for us to encourage a more equal society – I’d actually say growth, but that was part of the dialogue, namely the idea of perpetual growth and rapid technological change, which is actually making society as a whole go backwards, rather than forwards.

      So, yes, its one to watch and a good hour to spend and relax – saves worrying about Trump, Syria and all the other BS we are confronted with, which from time to time we really require a break from less we go mad!

      1. sgt_doom

        I kind of agree with your comments, although I am unfamiliar with some of them, I do recall that Kunstler is a corporate-type environmentalist who supports the Federal Reserve.

    2. paul

      Morris was a welcome counterweight to the collapsarians, especially Kunstler, who has always struck me as a borderline misanthrope, forever complaining at the pansification of the common man.
      To his chagrin,no doubt, maybe there will be no collapse.
      Our elites are decadent, so what we will get is just decay, an endless,unbearable present.
      Cheer up lads, it might never happen.

      1. Massinissa

        I think I agree with Greers view on the collapse. It wont be a sudden big bang, but rather an incredibly slow but steady decay, like we have seen the last 30 years or so. He has written who knows how many articles against collapse being a sudden, catastrophic event, and I mostly agree with his position.

        1. Robert McGregor

          Chris Martenson, James Kunstler, and many others referenced through NC, have listed 1970 as the start of “the decline.” And if so, then the decline is 47 years “in.”

          1. Sandler

            I would guess the Vietnam invasion had a lot to do with it. People underestimate the impact of loss of trust in institutions, it brings about a sociopathic selfish short term culture very quickly in a place like America which doesn’t have thousands of years of cultural history, philosophy and traditions and social bonds to fall back on

      2. jrs

        oddly Kunstler was the one who coined the term “the long emergency” which maybe is just: “decay, an endless, unbearable present”.

        Of course although resources were greater and the planet in better shape, it’s hard to say the condition of the common man has EVER been any better under capitalism, except for a few decades exception, not the norm.

        1. paul

          …and Kunstler is most vociferous about LGBT whatever special pleading.
          This halfwit Hemmingway wannabe has obviously never been on the wrong end of these things.
          From what I’ve heard him say, he thinks homosexuality is a learned thing, fanned by evil academics.
          Not my experience at all

      3. Carl

        JHK is one of those guys who just doesn’t come across as all that articulate in person, compared with his writings. He’s kind of a “one trick pony” in a debate. He also tends to jump the gun quite a bit in his future predictions. In contrast,I was surprised how animated and articulate John Michael Greer was, having only read his blog.

  2. craazyman

    Wow. All the Doomers on one stage. Why watch it? Since the world will end before they’re even finsihed talking. All you need is a park in Queens with cement chess tables and some pigeons and they could sit there all day long. There’s a liquor store just aroound the corner! And a Popeye’s Chicken across the street when we get hungry. We could set up a telescope to look for the asteroid, but why bother? It’ll hit before we can find it in the sky. This looks like a Space Cowboy moment! I think that was the movie when all the ex astronauts like James Garner went back up into space one last time. Maybe they were looking for the Asteroid too, I didn’t see the movie. There’s a lot of space in space and asteroids can be anywhere. That means they can be everywhere. And that might mean they are everywhere. Whoa! Here thhey comee! Haha. Or at least they’re on their way, but let’s have a conference aboout them first. They can wait for that.

    1. readerOfTeaLeaves

      It’s my house-clean-up weekend, and that must be an asteroid in my kid’s closet. It will be heading for Goodwill by noon Sunday.
      Meanwhile, I get to listen to witty minds discuss economics while I sort through odds and ends. Twofer ;-))

      1. craazyman

        I’m actually a happy subscriber to Chris Martenson’s Peak Prosperity. Great podcasts! Some very smart and thoughtful written articles too. I find it both entertaining and enlightening. Not that i agree with everything but so what. It’s still worth it.

        1. Susan the other

          Chris Martenson was a very pleasant surprise for me. I didn’t realize he was so enlightened. I now like him a lot. Also new to me was Frank Morris who is a paragon of positive thinking, like him too.

  3. emile

    There are playback speed settings available via the gear icon in the lower right area of the YouTube screen. It is often possible to listen at 1.25 or 1.5 and find that it actually increases comprehension because the points come across at the speed of thought.

  4. jfleni

    I,too prefer transcripts, since I am about half-deaf; they are vastly better than films/videos. And are usually much food for thought and real reflection.

  5. howard nyc

    I stumbled on this vid the other day, and I also give it a thumbs up, thoroughly enjoyed their convo. And craazyman, just give the when and where (which Queens park) and I’ll be leading the crowd to hang with you, awaiting the end. I’ll bring a chess set and some stale bread for the pigeons.

  6. Portia

    Progressives, still all white dudes, with token black dude. dude perspective ad infinitum, yawn

    1. Uahsenaa

      There are some cringey moments: the rather unsophisticated notions about finance, the not terribly veiled notion that the country used to be populated with hard, manly men but is now effete, etc.

      That said, I’m glad they at least had the one black guy, because more often than not he called them on their more exuberant flights of fancy. I also appreciate the fact that the awful situation that has been and is being foisted on young people was actually given air. Youth unemployment, even according to doctored official numbers, is STILL in the double digits, and young people know it. I teach 18/19 year olds all the time, and they are perfectly aware of how bleak their future is.

        1. craazyman

          Have you ever seen women hanging out in a park in Queens drinking and playing checkers?


        2. aNanyMouse

          If only Hannah Arendt were still alive!
          Gail Tverberg or Stoneleigh could’ve replaced, say, Mr. Martenson.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            Gotta tell you, they don’t fit the implicit criteria:

            1. Bloggers with books published

            2. Write about a wide rang of political economy issues. Tverberg is only Peak Oil and basically keeps ringing the changes on a fairly narrow set of ideas. Stoneleigh is also focused on resource limitation issues, not as narrow as Tverberg but not as broad as the discussion area of this panels. And I’ve read what she has written on finance, and she’s out of her depth there.

            1. JEHR

              I am sure there are women out there who have blogs and have also published. Some of the MMT women (who are also economists) would be a good choice: Stephanie Kelton, Pavlina R. Tcherneva.

              Women do have different life experiences and do have a different viewpoints from men and it is important to have these views aired as often as men air theirs.

              The discussion regarding immigration near the end of the video was very disappointing.

              1. Yves Smith Post author

                Both are much narrower in their focus than the topics discussed in this panel. Kelton cannot speak because she is an economist to the Senate Banking Committee.

                Pavlina does not write about politics generally (“political economy”) or resource scarcity issues.

                1. Julie

                  I’ve never heard of any of these people on the panel and a quick vetting is not impressive. Are you saying there are no women with a broad enough view who have published that match this modest group in depth and originality and scope if one put some effort into a search?

                  1. Susan

                    I find it curious that Marilyn Waring is so rarely referenced. It was decades for me alone in the wilderness of the American brand of feminism before my Canadian niece said to me, “you sound like Marilyn Waring.” But as Yves points out, she doesn’t qualify because she’s not blogging.

                    Frank Morris provided the counterweight to the otherwise white male curmudgeon club panel. Though I didn’t feel that he was provided enough time to quite get to “not everyone can buy a sailboat or a farm.” I’ll have to go looking for his work now and see if he explicates this more eloquently when not being “corrected” by Greer and Kunstler.

                    And while I agree about the other women referenced above not “meeting the implicit criteria” Foss and Kelton do talk plainly about resource constraints.

                    1. aNanyMouse

                      If you can’t afford to spring yourself for a sailboat or a farm, try work on finding people you can trust, with whom you might pool funds to setup some sort of possibly sustainable pad. If you (and your pals) can move to those cities with some snowball’s chance of being viable when the Party ends, you may buy precious time.
                      JMG has argued that we face, not a problem with solutions, but a predicament with mostly painful triage options.

        3. tejanojim

          In comments on the youtube video, the organizer said they tried but were unable to get women on the panel. Commenters made suggestions for women who would be a good fit for a future discussion.

    2. HBE

      Thank you for sharing this video.

      As to “dude perspective ad infinitum, yawn” This seems like an odd thing to take away from this video, while I certainly didn’t agree with everything. There is some great discussion and insight, but because they don’t have a gender balanced panel it is dismissed outright?

      This seems to me to be an illustration in why idpol is so damaging to discourse and understanding.

      Does a sentence, discussion, or insight lose value based on which gender delivers it?

      1. Carla

        If someone of your gender almost never appeared on panels of “serious people” discussing the future of this society do you think it might bother you, HBE?

        It is perfectly reasonable to expect to see–and hear–both females and males on any panel of this kind, and to point out this appalling lack is not at all the same as demanding gender “balance” — whatever that means.

        In my view, the discussion is worth listening to DESPITE the fact that it is deeply flawed and seriously compromised by the exclusion of any recognition that more than half the human race is female. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t call out that exclusion for what it is.

        1. HBE

          Your comment appears to have gotten stuck in moderation (at least on my end) hence the delayed response.

          I am certainly not trying to dispute that there was and is exclusion of females on this subject, and the panel has the very distinct possibility to have left many great insights on the table because of that fact. There are massive differences in life experiences of the genders and those differences bring great insights that are missed in a gender homogeneous panel.

          What I took issue with was the seemingly outright dismissal of this otherwise extremely informative and insightful discussion, simply because there was a lack of female panelists.

          That to me wasn’t representative of a disappointment in the lost insight a female perspective would have provided, but simple idpol.

          Potentially misconstrued by me, but what I read seemed to say (to me), “This panel wasn’t gender and racially balanced so anything they have to say is not worth my time”. Not: “this panel missed so many great insights because it lacked a female perspective”.

          Irregardless, wouldn’t have been better to share the disappointment with the all male panel, and then provide those insights from a female perspective so those of us (males) here that lack that perspective could get even more out of this whole thread?

          1. John Zelnicker

            @HBE – I apologize for this as I try not to correct others in public, but this is one of my biggest pet peeves: There is no such word as “irregardless”. The ir- prefix is redundant to the -less suffix. Both indicate a lack of regard. “Regardless” is all you need.

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          It doesn’t bother me and I know other women who feel that way. I don’t see why you need to look at who provides information through a genedered frame.

          1. Julie

            Well it bothered me and I know other women who feel that way. I don’t see why you need to tell us how to respond. I also didn’t find it particularly informative or “lively.”

      2. Portia

        idpol aside. this is my personal reaction. I am sick of listening to white dudes, and their tools. almost every time I watch or read something, it is dudes, written by dudes, cites dudes, ad infinitum. they feel comfortable with each other, get airtime, credibility.
        Elizabeth Warren was told to shut up when she quoted Coretta King, while all male senators who did the same thing were allowed to continue. Women scientists, for example, Rosalind Franklin and her DNA research which went unrecognized
        she lost out on two Nobel prized for her work, the other being:

        After finishing her work on DNA, Franklin led pioneering work at Birkbeck on the molecular structures of viruses.[7] Her team member Aaron Klug continued her research, winning the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1982.

        the recent book, “Glass Universe” and movie “Hidden Figures”
        I know that women and and other non-dudes contribute heavily to culture. I am tired of having to go through the dude filter to hear about these contributions, and having women forced to act like dudes to be accepted, or to be decorative in order to be given a place. it’s a little ridiculous to even say this, I realize, because the dude perspective is considered the gold standard, and dudes are the ones to tie everything together into coherent insight for the rest of us. I am just bored with them, at the advanced age of 62, that’s all.

        1. tongorad

          The age of Obama and Madam Clinton should have made it apparent that even *insert pet identity group affiliation here* can be just as poisonous and deadly as The Great White Devil.
          If we think of politics as the art of the possible, castigating others about their skin color and gender seems like rather a dead-end street, dontchathink?

          1. jrs

            1) a bunch of white dudes can have valid interesting observations to share.
            2) discussions exclusively limited to that will lack other perspectives, of how life is experienced for women (which is significantly different, just the ability – not the necessity of course – to bear children, as well as MANY other things). And the same goes for minorities.

        2. Susan the other

          strangely, the flip side of this lament is that, although not recognized and probably because of it, we (women) often lead the way – maybe recognition has too many equalizers if you want to join the club, or whatever… but it would have been nice to have women on that panel…

        3. diptherio

          1. Agree strongly that we desperately need more female voices and viewpoints. We may not be totally blind if we insist on only looking through one eye, so to speak, but we will have serious depth-perception problems. So I wonder why we keep bumping into things?…hmmm, curious…

          2. A woman you respect comes up to you and says, “hey I think these dudes have some interesting and useful things to say,” and you respond with “yeah, but they’re dudes.”? Just being clear here. You don’t object to the ideas, but that they are issuing from people who are males. Or do you feel that they are presenting perspectives that are particularly male in their viewpoint, and that that has caused their perspectives to be “blind” in particular ways? If the latter, can you express what you think is wrong/missing in what you hear (or read in the comments)? Thanks.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            I am viscerally opposed to the idea that we have to get all PC regarding who is chosen to speak on a topic. I also don’t buy the idea that there are “women’s perspectives” that are all that different than what any person with a sense of ethics and fairness would have. It feeds the ideas that men and women are really different, and that is unhelpful to women, as it perpetuates the narrative that has been used to keep women in their place.

            Any statistician will tell you that the differences within a group as big as “men” versus “women” will be bigger than the differences between them.

            It also feeds the perception that if a woman was included, it was due to her genitalia and not because she was any good. It’s tokenism and hurts women in the long run.

            Honestly, I don’t buy that and I don’t like men catering to this sort of whinging by women. And see my comment below. For the most part, women aren’t participating in these sort of debates, ergo there is separately a dearth of women to include.

            1. diptherio

              :-D Forgive me if I’m using this space to try to work out good approaches to talk to people who are expressing opinions quite similar to ones that I hear from (some of my) colleagues. I wasn’t trying to cater so much as get to at what is underneath that response.

            2. Moneta

              So what you are saying is that there are no knowledgeable women who could have been invited in this panel.

              1. Yves Smith Post author

                I see you can’t name any. I go through the apparent criteria later and there are no fits save Naomi Klein, who would find this panel too penny ante, and perhaps moi, and since I turn down all invites I don’t get asked.

                1. Moneta

                  I have to say that I am so used to working in a male dominated sector that I don’t think in terms of male or female when looking for knowledge. When I posted this, my thought was “come on, there has to be women who can talk about this… I can talk about this and I’m a woman!”

                  But sure enough, I’m stumped! The question now is why do I not choose to start a blog or show my doomer side to get known and invited on this panel? Could a non-American doomer woman be taken seriously and not marginalized in her community?

                  I keep on being told to shut up if I can’t bring a solution. I can only talk about this stuff with a few people. That’s why I come to NC.

                  1. Stephanie

                    Yes, start a blog. Greer’s peak oil blog is winding down and will be missed. He had a fairly international audience and was often explaining that he couldn’t address certain issues from a non-U.S. perspective because he didn’t want to project his very U.S.-based bias on the rest of the world’s problems. And I know I for one severely miss Sharon Astyk’s perspective on economic decline, but she she sounds very busy walking the walk.

                  2. Oregoncharles

                    Yes, please do that, and announce it here. It appears you would be filling an important gap.

                    In fact, the most important point arising from Portia’s, umm, post, is that women seem to be scarce in the “doomer” field. That is significant, and might even support the point that women would have a distinctive perspective.

                    A difference I can see is that women (and children) are much more vulnerable in a collapse or disaster scenario. Furthermore, women’s equality depends quite a lot on medical technology – contraception, mainly, so a severe collapse could have an especially dire effect for them – a point that Greer, at least, pointedly ignores. It’s quite inconvenient for him.

                    There is a niche to be filled.

          2. Uahsenaa

            I personally noticed that when a female member of the audience made what I thought was a salient point (scapegoating immigrants, when the structural forces that compel them to come here [economics, political destabilization in their home country] are just as if not more salient), Greer almost immediately got a bit mansplainy. I don’t think he intended to, but his “no no no no, madam, you’re misinterpreting me” was a bit off-putting. I didn’t feel like she’s was misinterpreting anything, but rather pointing to an important subtext. These are people, after all, just like anyone else, trying to get by.

            1. thoughtful person

              Yes, I thought that was a good insight, and most of the panel seemed to disagree. What I heard was along the lines of, if we live in a society globally with such extreme inequality (earlier in the panel, the oxfam numbers, 8 billionaires have as much wealth as 3.5 billion people, was mentioned ), why are we emphasizing issues like immigration or resource limits? Isn’t economic justice clearly the elephant in the room?

        4. Robert McGregor

          Portia, I didn’t realize that topics like resource depletion, racketeering, and societal collapse were gendered topics. If so, maybe you can enlighten me. Also, why don’t you suggest which women should have put on the panel. I know at least one prominent female doomer–but cannot think of her name now. If you found some qualified women, whom would you replace on the panel?

          1. Marina Bart

            Just because identity politics as practiced by neoliberal Democrats is false, distracting and poisonous, does not mean that concepts like feminism and racism are likewise false, distracting and poisonous. They may need some rethinking and updating, but that’s a different issue.

            I think it would a useful exercise to name who might go on this panel. Naked Capitalism is presumably read by many of those in the leftist ecosystem, so next time someone arranges a panel like this, they might think to reach out to more (any?) women. I haven’t watched this yet, because I have the same basic bias Yves and Lambert have for transcripts in cases like this.

            I’d also like to see a sub-thread discussing what might be missing because of the lack of a female perspective. Again, we here at NC can add some value to counterbalance this problem. There are a lot of articulate women here who can speak to this issue.

            Right off the top of my head, I can think of numerous ways in which the female perspective on resource depletion, racketeering and societal collapse might be different. One of the problems with women being excluded from the stage is that those things don’t get included, but what that also means is the course and current of the discussion never adjusts to include that perspective; that’s not a problem commentary here can really fix.

            The problem with elite feminism is the elite part, because it’s exclusionary. Not the fundamental issue that women are oppressed in specific ways in a patriarchal system. So are most men. As with racism, the concept helps to oppress and exploit the majority on both sides of the artificial divide. But just as exploited whites do get an advantage over exploited blacks in a racist system, which is why they accept and facilitate it, so do men versus women under patriarchy.

            Our perspective has value. Yes, there is no monolithic female experience. My experience, as someone who chose to have and raise a child, is different than that of a woman who did not, for example. But gender based discrimination and conditioning starts at birth. We’re half the human race. The neoliberal check box approach is bad, but not including any woman on the panel is also bad.

            1. DanB

              Gail Tverberg is a thought leader in the resource depletion/economic consequences thought community. Let’s not jump to the conclusion women were excluded from this panel. Gail has been on many such panels. Maybe she was ill or unavailable for this one. Anyway, if you want her take on things visit her website; she’s one heck on a lot more rational/scientific than most men.

              1. Marina Bart

                I’m not jumping to any conclusion. I’m responding the discussion initiated by Portia, which flows from the fact that no women were on THIS panel. If you’re a woman in America, you are very, very used to most panels not having women — except for the neoliberal panels that reinforce neoliberal orthodoxy via women, which again, is a problem because it’s neoliberal orthodoxy designed to oppress and mislead.

                White guys really can’t know how it feels to be invisible the way being female is made systematically invisible across most domains. I can think of exactly ONE major female character on television right now who looks like a normal woman, is middle-aged (and heterosexual, cis and all that), has a libido, is a mother with intelligence and career ambitions, and whose agency and experience across all those domain is portrayed with accuracy and respect.


                That is not to say that the wide variety of lived male experience is portrayed well. At all. When a fictional male shows up on TV who reminds me of all the awesome men in my life, I practically weep for joy. But the distortion and invisibility is nowhere near as extreme.

                However, it’s great to have this name. Thank you.

                1. Yves Smith Post author

                  I’ve never identified with the “female invisibleness” you discuss. All professional work has been dominated by men. Women have made inroads into some fields (medicine) faster than others (economics and finance).

                  Outis has remarked that movies of the 30s and 40s actually treated women better than modern movies. There’s a lot of sophisticated role play, with them women manipulating the men and the men knowing they are manipulated and going along. Now he says that a lot of the implicit messaging in movies and books targeted to young adults is for girls to be subordinate. He has a more articulate and nuanced take but that’s the bottom line. He contends you could never have a movie like Adam’s Rib now, having a wife beat her husband in court and having him be all mopey afterwards would be culturally unacceptable.

                  1. mpalomar

                    It’s complicated. I wonder how Portia would have responded if she just read a transcript that didn’t designate gender. I was however immediately aware that there was one black on the panel and also that it noticeably changed the dynamic of the discussion. Interesting that it didn’t register with me that there was not a women until Portia raised the issue.

                    I assume it was a regional show and may have been difficult to balance the panel gender wise. I do think it would have made a difference to have a women on the panel. The one women in the audience who questioned the group brought something significantly different to the discourse regarding immigration policy and she was confronted by Greer quite aggressively.

                    I’m a fan of Adam’s Rib. I think it obviously played against gender stereotypes of the time and was not remotely representational of society or the industry’s typical presentation of gender relations at the time. Another earlier interesting celluloid slant on gender roles was the Lady Eve.

                    1. Outis Philalithopoulos

                      The Lady Eve is a great movie.

                      On the idea that Adam’s Rib was “not remotely representational of […] the industry’s typical presentation of gender relations at the time” … well, I don’t know.

                      Here are some more movies from the time which involve extremely dynamic female characters:

                      The Heiress
                      Mildred Pierce
                      Out of the Past
                      Shadow of a Doubt

                      The full discussion is more complicated than can fit in just a short comment, but I can at least say that it becomes quite a bit harder to come up with an analogous list once we move into the 50s or any of the subsequent decades.

                  2. flora

                    I work in a STEM field. The big stereotype by men against women in this area (that I’ve been able to discern over a few decades) is the belief that women are too emotional to be relied upon in analysis of bigger issues; women’s supposed over emotionalism makes women unreliable in reasoning and objectivity; women cannot control their emotions. Well, people believe what they want to believe. It’s amused me no end to be told by male colleagues as a compliment, ” You gave a straight forward, unemotional analysis.” ..Does one get emotional about scientific data? Very amusing.

                    My problem with Portia’s point (although it’s well taken by me) is that it feeds directly into the stereotype that women are over emotional, and therefore to be doubted as rational agents in difficult, complex or power relation areas.
                    The implied emotion in Portia’s argument is ‘offense’, offense that women weren’t included, with no proof that sexism was the cause. Emotion is an important form of knowing but it is not by itself reasoned argument as argument is currently understood.. A woman who substitutes emotion for a logical, provable proposition in argument feeds the stereotype of ‘female over emotionalism’.

                    My point isn’t that men are coldly logical and women over emotional. My point is there’s culturally accepted stereotype about women being over emotional that I’d prefer not to reinforce.

                    I’m perfectly happy to be told I am completely wrong.

                    1. flora

                      adding: I dont’ think women are any more emotional than men, but socially women are given much wider latitude to express their emotions than men. Maybe that’s why men in general die much earlier than women. Who knows? I may be quite wrong.

                    2. Outis Philalithopoulos

                      I don’t think you’re wrong.

                      Since I seem to be commenting on movies tonight, a perspective on your point is provided by the acceptability of men crying in film. I’ve noticed quite a few instances of men (even men coded as fairly “masculine”) crying up until the 80s. Then it stops.

                      One of the last examples is Red Dawn (1984). Two older teenage boys, clearly meant as role models, start to shed tears as they attend their father, who has been shot by evil Russian troops. The father’s last words include:

                      We can’t afford to be crying anymore. I don’t want either of you to ever cry for me again. Don’t ever do it. Not as long as you live.

                      It’s a pretty important scene in the arc of the movie, which throughout involves a surprising amount of male emotion.

                    3. jrs

                      the emotional is not rational thing itself is false, good grief without emotion people couldn’t think at all (the popularization of this was the book Descartes Error), .

                    4. Susan the other

                      Funny thing – I’ve always felt that men are far more emotional than women but since it is culturally uncomfortable, their emotions are projected onto women. So I always assumed they were living vicariously. I’ve never known a man who was less emotional than the women I know. And as long as I’m saying weird stuff, I think women are meaner than men – speaking from long personal experience ;-)

                    5. Moneta

                      When you are sure of being right, it’s because you have felt it. Everything we do is based on feeling something.

                      I cringe when people talk about rational vs. irrational as most of the time it’s clear they have not thought things through…

                      Most of the time, those who are “emotional” have a good reason for being that way.

                      I think the perception of rationality is linked to a position of power. Let’s face it when you are protected no matter how wrong you are, your chances of freaking out are much lower.

                      People want safety so logically they should be more attracted to calm people because chances are they are part of the protected group.

                  3. Marina Bart

                    You can easily track the reimposition of more stringent patriarchal control over women (mostly bourgeois women, as the working class and its concerns were generally erased from popular culture during this same period) just by looking at romantic comedy as a genre from the 30s to now. There’s misogyny in the genre from back then, as well — The Philadelphia Story is horrible that way — but even movies like Bringing Up Baby, in which the woman is free to act because of her class position, looks like The Feminine Mystique compared to how romantic comedies devolved in the neoliberal period, with their endless parade of either professional women who were terribly unhappy because they were successful in their careers, or women in “acceptable” professions like dogwalking and preschool teachers. Romantic comedies became a vehicle to police female expectations and female desires (not just sexual desire, but every other aspect of life.)

                    Pretty Woman was the most successful “romantic comedy” of its generation. It told the tender story of how a streetwalker — if she’s pretty enough, sweet enough, giggly enough, and in no way behaves or looks the way a young woman who is prostituting herself on the street would look or behave — can marry a billionaire. She just needs to look, act and dress just the right way, and prove she’s not a “real” hooker by refusing to have sex for money with a man who doesn’t look like prime period Richard Gere.

                    Contrast that with His Girl Friday, which told the tender story of a man luring his ex-wife back to her job at his paper and back into a relationship with him in part because she was the best reporter at the paper, and he needs her on a big story. The script makes it very clear that he wants her and that they are well-matched as lovers; screwball dialogue acts as a stand-in for sexual expression, although the film makes their sexual connection clear, as well. But it also makes it clear that he needs her on this story, and that nobody else on the paper will do it as well. For them, the personal and the professional are entwined.

                    You can see the policing of female desire in Fifty Shades of Grey, as well. That storyline usually gets a very superficial reading due to the misrepresentation of how trauma can impact sexual expression and how consensual, non-trauma driven BDSM works. But it’s really just a romance novel. As such, part of what is significant is that the woman in a story like this is only “allowed” to achieve sexual fulfillment with a wealthy man. We are trained to treat our personal sexual pleasure as a commodity. We are expected to sell access to our bodies and reproductive capacity to the highest bidder; to do otherwise throws its own tiny little wrench into the system.

                    Imagine an inverted story where she has the wealth, and subjects herself to beatings and physical pain that she does not desire because her male sexual partner who has no money desires it. Does that book sell?

                    One of the things I object to now is we’re getting a “Go Girl” style feminism portrayed in the popular culture that is still both dishonest and toxic. But since I’m trying to cut back on the long comments, I’ll just end there.

                    1. Yves Smith Post author

                      I agree with you 100% on both Pretty Woman and 50 Shades of Grey (didn’t read it but read enough of the debate over it to get the class/gender issue, and was really disturbed at women celebrating it as somehow being about sexual liberation)

                  4. JTFaraday

                    Sure you can. It’s just all cutesy-pooed and “Legally Blonde” now, because it is really Katherine Hepburn herself in her fully embodied awesomeness that your contemporary man baby can’t take.

                    I don’t find this cause for optimism.

                2. witters

                  And there wasn’t – there never is! – an Australian on the panel (or any panel hardly). Why you all dissing us and missing our valuable perspective?

              2. Yves Smith Post author

                Her focus is too narrow for her to be included on a panel like this. She’s all about peak oil and the implications. She would have had nothing to say on what I’ve seen of the panel so far: why people voted for Trump and inequality.

                1. Christine Prokop

                  Thanks Yves for posting this. I agree with the panel’s assessment that we are a society in decline. There were some interesting “individual” solutions, but I was disappointed that there was no discussion of the elephant in the room — capitalism ie. the profit motive and the falling rate of profit. Outsourcing is the corporate response to the falling rate of profit, so is the depression of wages (cost cutting), mergers/monopolies (to control price deflation and the profit margin) The ideology of the market – neolibralism is what defines everything in our society. Reaganism (and pre Regan- George Wallace) was very effective in destroying any faith in government (the idea that we are the government) so any suggestion by the panel that public policy can benefit the 90% is a fantasy. “Public/private partnership” is just a way to transfer tax dollars to the private sector. We have an elite captive to an ideology of the market and individualism. (The panel did touch on individualism, but stayed with individual solutions.) Yes they spoke to inequality and a class society but only in passing. In their discussion of limited resources – yes they are limited but not for wars or empire. I don’t have any solutions, but I believe that unless we understand the context we live in (capitalist society with a falling rate of profit and an ideologically, financially captured elite) we can’t even ask the right questions or propose any solutions. I rarely post but I’m a faithful reader.

            2. Mike Mc

              ^+ 1000. Being married to a woman pastor of significant brain power (hence the Rev. Dr. title she bears) in what’s supposed to be somewhat progressive denomination, I get to see the glass ceiling in Protestant Christianity up close and personal. Having been raised by my mother – widowed when I was 14 – I’ve seen what working class women and families went through in the 1960s and 70s which sadly continues today.

              As a dude, old hippie and aging Boomer I like the panel but yeah, invite Yves or ask her for some referrals! Way too much work to do and way too many savvy and smart women – pick any color and/or faith – to not include a few. Wife and I are trying to figure out how to hold some progressive salon thing at home, local civic version of the panel we’re discussing. Suggestions welcome!

              1. Yves Smith Post author

                Thanks for the thought but I don’t do panels unless I’m in a crowd where I get reputation points by participating. I would go to the Atlantic Economy summit basically as part of the warmup band because people like Paul Volcker, Bob Rubin, and Larry Summers were on the roster. I don’t do TV either because the only TV that will have me is too niche-y for it to be of any net benefit. I would do Bill Moyers but he’s apparently written me off for for podcasts (he no longer does TV) not pumping hard for Clinton in 2016.

                1. UnhingedBecauseLucid

                  Headquartered in Manhattan as you are, with your credentials in finance, you should be the one producing and hosting panels. It would earn you reputation points + enterprisin’ points !

                  You could take upon yourself to bridge the gap between economics and physical reality. You could help chip away the current zeitgeist by judiciously choosing guests for maximum impact, and not shying away from lively confrontations.

                  When I translated the “French Engineer Schools Politicians on the Physics of Energy and Resulting Incidences on Economics” video, I sent it to a few economists, blogs and organizations.
                  The only economists who showed interest in it and replied to thank me were: James K. Galbraith and Steve Keen.

                  I don’t know if you are aware of this but Steve Keen in the past two years but (especially the last one) has been inserting explicitly and unambiguously the Energy component in his theory of economics teachings, going as far restating GDP formula from an energy variable foundation. To be clear, his factoring in of this element incited me to provide him with the link not the other way around.
                  You could look up some of his videos with the word “thermodynamics” contained in the title, but believe me, he alluded to that factor in quite a few presentations where the title would not have indicated it.

                  Former Bear Sterns [if I remember correctly] banker, Nate Hagens could further help the schooling. Yes schooling, because make no mistake, that is precisely what is needed.

                  So now comes the part where you protest and try wiggling yourself out of this duty by calling to my attention how costly and time consuming this endeavor would be; to which I will reply: You will provide the much needed answers to Greenspan’ incessant mumbling about the the falling growth in productivity in the last ten years — you should then have the full support of INET.
                  (You’ll be doing them a favor, their quality output has been few and far between if you ask me)

                  Use INET to make it a big event.
                  If you don’t even try, I’ll consider sending stuffed bunny’s and unicorns to Aurora Advisors inc.
                  #1. Make sure Greenspan is invited. (Service, justice, and humor–something for everybody !)
                  #2. You could start the conference by reminding the audience of a (lets give it to him) very funny moment when Larry Summers addressed the IMF. [ segment 8:23 – 10:35]

                  #3. You’d think Summers would be aware of of the oil issue, and the substitution fallacy, but he’s not. He’s on the record in another video which I haven’t time to retrace. So make sure he’s invited too. (I know, I know…but think of the humor in the situation if you need motivation)

                  #4. Rob Johnson is such a people person, getting all the different factions of economist accepting to be in the audience of a panel including Keen (considering the Krugman-Delong soap opera) can only be achieve with his help. Perhaps Adair Turner can assist.

                  #5. Invite me as the token angry French Canadian steel worker only if you can deal and enjoy a working class guy making a scene by making fun of a bunch of overcompensated academics and professionals who did not know the truth, couldn’t stand it, or chose not to reveal it to keep their class status for their ego and their progeny.

                    1. UnhingedBecauseLucid

                      Yeah I know, but was hoping you’d take up challenges instead…
                      Since the probable reply to this is that running NC is challenging enough, I’ll give you these final words:

                      Fine Yves ! Leave those extra points on the table !
                      I was just trying to kindle the fire in your belly !

          2. Moneta

            In a fair world, wouldn’t we have had better representation on the panel?

            If we want more fairness to come our way, shouldn’t we expect more representation on such panels?

            1. Moneta

              That did not come out right… in a fair world this panel would have not existed!

              Question still holds…

          3. HotFlash

            I didn’t realize that topics like resource depletion, racketeering, and societal collapse were gendered topics.

            The topics are not gendered, but I do find that certain responses are, um, not sure how to express this, certain ideas? discussions? whatever, are definitely gendered, and that the reaction/support for women’s ideas in *some* mixed (male dominated) groups are often not followed up. Oh, and this is not so much in ‘normal’ discussion, more in ‘serious’ discussion, such as this panel or a work-related meeting.

            That said, I agree w/Yves that gender parity for its own sake is not the way to go.

        5. pebird

          Yes, it’s so much easier to judge ideas not on the content of what they say, but on what I think their appearance represents. We know about Bernie Bros and now we have CollapseBros. All the same Bros from Anos Moes, if you knows what I mean.

          In fact, I can skip through this stuff pretty fast and skim without worrying too much about interpretation.

          Thank god there isn’t any transcript, you often can’t tell what someone’s identity is from plain old words (unless you use color text – which I strongly recommend).

          Oh well, as I am a boring person, I get easily bored. On to other things …

        6. craazyman

          Why dont you organize a panel and put it on Youtube. What’s the point aboout bitching about somebody else’s panel.

          Jeez youse guyss are pretty lame idpol bunny rabbits. Go make your own news!

          I’ll buy a bottle of Spanish wine and watch. If you invite me on, I’ll even show up and sit in a chair and drink the wine right there on camera!

          Also, to no one in particular, Chris Martenson has intervieweed Gail Tverberg TWO TIMES! I thought she was sort of a fruit cake but that’s just my opinion. Checkerplayers and fruitcakes in the Doom & Gloom Club. If you get a few female fruitcakes and put them up on state you’d almost have an Ed Wood movie cast. Hahahahaha

          1. xformbykr

            it’s about being alpha and extroverted.
            being a bully helps. I suspect that these qualities
            are found more often in males.

        7. Tom


          Please refer us to a society that has been physically and structurally built and maintained by women, outside of their essential roles as mothers. Of course the flip side of that is that most of our problems have been created by men, but at the same time, very few working solutions, save criticism of males, have come from women.

          1. Tom

            “…come from women of your apparent political outlook.”

            Old whines in new battles

            “…And the misogynist, patriarchal, sexist portions were so small!”

          2. Oregoncharles

            Women invented gardening; men took it over when it involved large animals and became relatively dangerous. In general, that’s the key definer of gender roles: level of danger, and need for large muscles. Most pre-civilization societies depend on roughly equal work loads of the sexes. There’s considerable question about the Neolithic societies – nobody really knows.

        8. Moneta

          And maybe nothing is happening because it’s only white dudes…

          Maybe that’s the issue: if we want change we need connection which means more representation.

          I have to say that I am so used to circulating in men dominated sectors that I don’t usually notice when there are no women on a panel.

          However, when I saw the general look, I wondered if a woman would ever be invited if she has such a sense of style. Then I wondered if women could afford to be doomers publicly.

      3. makedoanmend

        Interesting, very interesting…

        Several times genitalia has been mentioned and also genitalia as being associated with vulnerability. Also, apparently genitalia also has something to do with reproduction. Who knew?

        If one forgets about the physical apparatus and appearances in this debate (and one should) it has been found, notably by the UN, that the primary way that females become empowered is through education – not simply by controlling the means of reproduction. [Thinking about controlling rePRODUCTION puts capitalist means of production into some perspective!]

        Education and the means to education is liberation. Education maybe don’t make us smart but it do give us the means to enhance and engage in our world. pretty neat

        It’s not in the pants but in the skull that freedom and liberation occurs.

        Whilst one human, whether female or the something other, is denied education and knowledge, none of us is really free.

        So ends today’s sermon. Give generously and give often. Vote early and vote often.

    3. Yves Smith Post author

      That’s an ad hominem attack and a violation of our written site Policies. And frankly flat out stupid. You are saying you aren’t interested in information if it comes from a man. So you are choosing to remain ignorant by rejecting huge amounts of good information and commentary. And you appear to think I offer some sort of “women’s view” when I reject that.

      You are explicitly a bigot. Do you recognize that? And you are just a mirror image of the system you are pretending to reject, so you keep the same dichotomy and prejudices in place. You are making it safe for men to say, “Why should I listen to her, she’s a woman, she has nothing to say to men.”

      Tell me how many women have blogs (which appear to be the criterion for inclusion that are 1. leftist and 2. interested in economics that have any traffic? Nomi Prins and Pam Martens (with Russ Martens) are way too finance focused to be suitable for a panel like this. Maybe Naomi Klein, but this group is too small fry to appeal to her.

      And I also hate to tell you this reflects who is interested in this stuff. Guys. My meetups show the NC readership is overwhelmingly male. You can whinge all you want, but women are choosing to sit out this debate.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          If you mean the famous novelist, how is she suitable for a panel like this? I don’t get the basis for you suggesting her.

          1. paul

            Because she has been a fairly forthright protagonist for social justice and environmental protection and seems to have devoted far more energy towards that than writing books.
            She has certainly spoken openly on matters discussed in the video.
            None of the lads on the panel (to my knowledge), morris aside, seem to have any active involvement with popular protest.
            Just my opinion

      1. Marina Bart

        I think claiming that “women are choosing to sit out this debate” hand waves away a lot of structural sexism. Which debate are you referring to? Our potential dystopic future?

        There are so many systemic forces acting on women to silence them. I agree that Portia’s refusal to listen to information because it is the result of an all-male panel is unwise, but I don’t see the value in pretending sexism isn’t a real problem, with long-term impacts across people’s lives. And as a point of data usage, just because more men than women show up to drink in a public place doesn’t in and of itself tell you much about the gender breakdown of your readership. Your female readership clearly isn’t zero. There demonstrably are women interested in these issues. I suspect one could put a panel together on this topic with at least one woman on it who would have added value. But I don’t want to fall into the neoliberal trap of acting like as long as the gender diversity box got checked, all’s right with the world.

        I was blocked from my chosen profession because I am female. I was subjected to serious sexual harassment in graduate school because I was female. I was expected to get up out of my laboring bed — when I was in hard labor — and drive into a meeting or lose my job. I have been punished for having strong opinions since I was a little girl. I’m still yapping away, but I’m exceptionally stubborn in that regard.

        Portia expressed a sentiment I suspect a lot of women share. This perpetuates the cycle. Women don’t see themselves on stage, which signals to them that they’re not wanted and this is not their concern, and so they’re less likely to play the clip, engage with the content, and move into the field. The left needs to find a way to talk about this problem without being veal penned in by neoliberal identitarianism and then turning on each other. Portia’s here. She’s interested. It’s not your personal responsibility to fix this problem, but I think it’s a mistake claim it is not a problem.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          If you think a woman who went to Wall Street when I did wasn’t subject to harassment, you need to reconsider your view. And when I was at McKinsey, which was perceived to be much more female-friendly, literally every woman who was being considered for partner was told she had a style problem as was sent to Roger Ailes for coaching (yes, that Roger Ailes). And McKinsey thought it was doing them a big and costly favor! I included that tidbit in a 2007 piece, which I suggest you read:

          Since when do women have a greater propensity toward teetolating? Are you suggesting women are so fragile they won’t come out for a drink or are incapable of ordering a soda if they don’t feel like drinking? And there were people who showed up who didn’t drink for financial reasons.

          I’ve been to technology meetups in NYC, basically the same format, with tech being male due to how few women take up coding and the discrimination against them to boot. I see a higher proportion of women at those events than at mine.

          The gender breakdown in my readership is over 80% male per every method of reader analysis. And the people who showed up my book event also skewed heavily male, and that was at a bookstore. The Alternative Banking Occupy group I was involved in, which had a female de facto leader, had about 70% male participation.

          And I apparently don’t see the world though as strongly a gendered frame as you and Portia do (and I wonder where most people sit in terms of their degree of sensitivity). It has literally never occurred to me to think along the lines of “Gee, I don’t see women doing that.” The only time I’ve been deterred by a male role model was by a math prof at Harvard, and it wasn’t because he was male, it was because he was so clearly severely mal-adjusted (and in retrospect, I’m sure he has Aspergers), that he could have auditioned successfully for the role the Unabomber. I said to myself, “If that’s what it takes to be good in math, I’m not sure I want to go there.”

          I’ve looked at the substance of what someone is doing, and it’s always been men, and have said to myself, “Yes, I’m pretty sure I can do that and I’m gonna go and see if I can get it.”

          Once you get to groups of a certain size (and I think the literature varies on what that size is, but if nothing else, the limit is the maximum group size where everyone can know each other personally, and that’s 150 people) you wind up with a hierarchical organization. Hierarchies produce competition, for who gets to be the leader and who gets to have influence with the leader. Some societies do better with checks and accountability as well as inculcating cultural norms that delegitimate someone who breaks those norms.

          Due to women typically weaker than men plus extremely vulnerable when pregnant, even now with machines meaning we don’t need male muscle power for all that much, the societal norm of men being in charge continues when it ought to be past its sell by date. This is no different than any other out group seeking power.

          This is what Fredrick Douglass had to say:

          Let me give you a word of the philosophy of reform. The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of earnest struggle. The conflict has been exciting, agitating, all-absorbing, and for the time being, putting all other tumults to silence. It must do this or it does nothing. If there is no struggle there is no progress.

          Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. –

          Asking for representation on panels is tokenism and is not adequate to address the wrongs you see that women still contend with. But women are deeply conflicted in this struggle, because the gender they see as oppressors is the very same men that most want to marry, be fathers of their children, and support them in childrearing (the fact that one in seven single mothers winds up bankrupt and God only knows how many are under severe financial stress says rejecting male financial support comes at very high cost) makes the sort of struggle that Douglass argues is necessary difficult to wage.

          In the early 1990s, Radcliffe held an event on work-life balance. I didn’t go to this event, but it became notorious among Radcliffe women of my age. The speakers and the participants recommended a lot of family friendly policies, which sounded all well and good, but query how you’d ever get them implemented.

          The woman who was arguably the most successful woman professional in the room as the first woman partner in M&A on Wall Street (and I know her personally, she is formidable) got up and said: “Nothing will change until women own the means of production.”

          The room went silent.

          1. Norb

            “Nothing will change until women own the means of production”

            That statement sums up just about every problem all genders and races are facing today and struggling to find answers. Control of the means of production. Capital and labor. Private property and the commons. In a word, Power.

            Women, workers, people of color, all struggle to maintain their economic position in a system designed to favor the owners of capital- and now finance. Special pleading to be treated nicely by an oppressive system is the bane of liberalism. It tries to put a happy face on the brutality of the capitalist system of production. The relationship between owners and labor under this system is confrontational. Their interests are opposed.

            The fall of empire and rise of social inequality are symptoms of this power imbalance. Empires fall because they strip the available resources bare and succumb to internal corruption. The goal of Empire is conquest and accumulation, not sustainability. Inequality exists because sociopathic accumulators stop at nothing to acquire more, while the weak pleadings of those wishing to avoid confrontation are easily crushed- or ignored.

            Having control over ones life is the meaning of freedom and liberty. To be secure from the predations of others should be the function of the state, the government. When government turns into an instrument of predation it is by definition Tyranny. We are currently facing tyranny with a smiling face, soon to be replaced by the horrid one. Ask our overseas adversaries- provence’s- what that face looks like.

            I found the panels reference to the Amish and Mennonite’s interesting. What are the choices for resisting oppression? To follow Frederick Douglas’s insight and unflinchingly fight the existing power structure to achieve social progress and justice, or remove yourself from the oppressive system and build a new social organization. Either way, controlling the means of production is the key to success.

          2. Oregoncharles

            To what extent do women own the means of production now? One author pointed out that they tend to inherit that ownership, if only because they live longer. Ivanka Trump springs to mind. Or Chelsea Clinton.

            And once they do own it, I think we’ll find out that gender is incidental to that particular issue. It won’t help poor women at all.

            And a very important point: ” But women are deeply conflicted in this struggle, because the gender they see as oppressors is the very same men that most want to marry, be fathers of their children, and support them in childrearing…” That’s why it’s unproductive and self-defeating to frame women’s liberation as a struggle against men. I know it sounds nebulous, but we both face an overarching social system that can and does exploit both, often using gender differences for that purpose. It’s less nebulous if we call it “capitalism” – but there’ve been other exploitative systems.

            On the deepest level, all sexed animals face the problem that the sexes compete for resources. There are a lot of solutions, ranging from deep sea fish that reduce the male to a parasitic set of genitals, to praying mantises and spiders, where females typically eat their mates. But the general human solution (as with most pair-forming animals) is to entwine our lives so thoroughly that it’s difficult to compete. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen, and there’ve been societies that were very harsh on one or the other, either female subjugation or a high male death rate, or both. But the human pattern is that we stand or fall together.

            In the early days of Women’sLiberation (the original term for the movement), at least one poll found that almost as many men as women supported the goals of gender equality. IMNSHO, that was because of, first, basic fairness; and second, because men who thought about it expected to benefit, either via the women in their lives or more directly via the sharing of burdens. Unfortunately the deteriorating economy, which corresponded in time, sabotaged some of those benefits. Instead of trading off, now most couples both have to work to support a family. That’s a fundamental injustice we should be addressing.

            Splitting a shrinking pie is always a bad deal. I don’t see how women owning the means of production would help with that, unless everybody does.

    4. joel

      Haven’t yet seen the podcast either, I usually ignore them as too s- l- o- w, but I will now.

      I found the comments that Portia’s “yawn” incited interesting in that I was able to observe different points of view expressed by the women. Turns out women are not all the same in the positions they choose with which to face the dude world. It seems to me it must be an ongoing challenge as their lives evolve to find the best approach to new situations, and still be true to themselves. Seems to me I don’t have to think about that very much.

      On the other hand there is always the danger on this blog or any other blog or any other place on the planet of allowing too much space for “women’s issues”.lest the boys begin to “yawn” and wander off.

      1. Moneta

        I have always felt that as a woman, your approach will be different depending on your looks and body type.

        One big stress factor is how you get hit on and the strategy you use to cope with this.

      2. HotFlash

        Turns out women are not all the same in the positions they choose with which to face the dude world.

        As Hermione said to Ron, “Oh, well spotted!” ;)

  7. GooGooGaJoob

    “As readers may know, Lambert and I prefer transcripts since they are much faster to process than listening to videos or podcasts.”

    Maybe it is a generational thing but I actually prefer the opposite (Born right around the transition from Gen X to Millennial). Thankfully at my job they allow us to use headphones to listen to whatever while we plug away at our work. I’ll often listen to podcasts similar to that above – only having to pause when I have to compose a stiff reading email. I sort of get a hoot out of listening to people like Michael Hudson criticize the FIRE sector even though I work it in it.

    However, since it’s the weekend what I will end up doing is just starting up a video game and have the video play in the background. I actually find that if I’m doing a semi-mindless task I seem to be able to focus much better on what I’m listening to.

    I don’t shy away from reading but I do find it difficult to read on a screen on a daily basis. If it were possible I wish there was some kind of way that all white background sites could be changed to a light gray shade as I find that sites that are like that are far easier to mow through a long article. Otherwise, you still can’t beat an old fashioned book.

    1. Lambert Strether

      I enjoy listening to podcasts, but it’s not productive to use podcasts or audios alone as input for posting; it’s just too time-consuming, it’s not easy to link into them for reader verification, and in order to quote from them we have to make a transcript by hand (or check an automatic transcript, and those are generally bad).

    2. UserFriendly

      I can’t read much of anything for too long without getting all ADD. I do almost all of my reading on here with TTS. I can adjust the speed to my liking, which is usually quite fast and I can do other mindless tasks while listening.

  8. UnhingedBecauseLucid

    OMG !
    Yves is brutalizing her cuddle bunny readership with a two and a half hour panel discussion on the limitations of a finite world !

    I am shocked… but I applaud you.

      1. Susan the other

        I know – where does Unhinged come from? – Yves has been whacking us with her shoe for a long time.

        1. UnhingedBecauseLucid

          Very inconsistently, and not nearly hard enough.

          But she’s picking up the pace now, and she’ll be rewarded with events that will confirm her judicious decision to examine and bring to light the nature of our predicament.

          Where do I come from ?
          I come from the place where you land after years of reading about economics and realizing it wasn’t sufficient to understand the “Great Financial Crisis”.
          From the place you land on when you realize greed or job-eliminating technologies aren’t sufficient to explain the broadly diminished prospect for my generation and the ones after.

          1. Susan the other

            As Bloomberg said (as Mayor) when the GFC happened, when Lehman fell, “The jig is up.” And he was the great patron of Wall Street. It isn’t just your generation, it’s clobbering all of us. And yours is not the first generation that was called “the lost generation.” Things will get better and it’s going to be very interesting.

            1. UnhingedBecauseLucid

              I think things won’t get better, but yes…. they sure as hell gonna get interesting

  9. mpalomar

    I thought they did a reasonably good job sketching the problems but failed to offer any reasonable solutions. That may be because there are no reasonable solutions to the fine mess we find ourselves in. Cruising down the ever increasing tangle of concrete and rebar reinforced roadways in self driving cars while texting on iphones is likely an end of days scenario.

    Unconvincing ultimately was their consensus impression, except for Morris who I would liked to have heard more from, that the resolution of avoiding or surviving imminent civilizational collapse would depend on people organizing around tight, supportive, small communities and doing for themselves; large central government could not play a part (no one mentioned the democratic socialist Nordic model).

    I too aspire to live the anarcho syndicalist lifestyle and believe community grassroots organizing is the answer, however in order for the rest of their sans government formulation to work, the scenario must be played out in either a post apocalyptic or utopian fantasy. Back on planet earth people are looking for ways to cope. Retreating to life on the high seas, as Orloff has or building up the soil on a couple of acres and eating better as Martensen prescribes is nice work if you can get it.

    Orloff even rolled out the 9 most scary words argument, in an attenuated context, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help’ i.e. people now fear their governments because they have been the facilitators of the neo liberal agenda that has financialized the commons and placed them in debt bondage. Small, tight, cooperative communities is the goal and Morris’ strategy of policy and institutional reform within the context of existing government seems the least painful, most realistic route to that end.

    Their discussion of immigrants was disturbing. Presented basically as the full lifeboat scenario, what they absolutely failed to acknowledge was that the USS lifeboat is responsible for a spree of torpedoing various home ships. Generally economic and political refugees are fleeing hellish conditions for a slightly less miserable life as an outsider in a foreign culture. Immigrants to the US, particularly the ones from Central America and the Middle East would likely never have undertaken the painful uprooting if the US hadn’t blown up their countries, interfered in their elections, overthrown elected leaders and created the economic conditions through awful trade treaties that made life untenable in their own homes. This seems to never have occurred to these dudes. And yeah, the all dude format.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I hate to tell you but I don’t agree at all with you conflating “economic” with political refugees.

      If you eyeball this chart, since 1990, the US has taken in an average of under 80,000 refugees a year. So in total around 2 million. That’s about 1/6 of the number of illegal immigrants, and then you’ve got the H1-B and L1 visa workers on top of that.

      I don’t see the justification for aiding economic migrants. Our immigration policy is all about reducing the bargaining power of labor. And lowering average wages and keeping unemployment high also makes it more costly to operate social safety nets. The elites act as if this is all about giving them opportunity when it is much more about having a cheap servant class, such as yardmen, cleaning women, and housekeepers.

      1. mpalomar

        I was thinking specifically of migrants from Mexico, subsistence farmers whose way of life was wiped out by subsidized US corn dumped in Mexico under NAFTA. Having visited some of these villages in Oaxaca, people live simple lives but retain their dignity. I doubt many choose to leave their homes to live the servants life in El Norte.

        H1B visas are a problem but not on the agenda for this tranche. Also the point is not about aiding and abetting them and I understand the dynamic of lowering wages reducing labor’s bargaining position. When discussing immigration legal and illegal somewhere in the discussion should be the destructive US trade policies that disrupt all economies resulting in transient populations of desperate people who would probably be happier to stay within a functioning economy at home.

      2. IDontKnow

        Not sure mpalomar asked for increasing intake economic immigrants, I read it as stop messing up other nations economy, ecology, and governance. Some of this nasty work is done by the “NGOs” of Wall Street, but in theory those NGOs should be America’s responsibility.

        Part of getting those economic immigrants , particularly the easily exploited illegal ones, to come and face a brutal life here means created a motive force, a demand to be anywhere but places they use to call home, is something America does best. After all, Hillary’s crew can claim credit for flooding Europe (and Canada) with skilled, cheap and desperate labour from Syria.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Oh, I agree completely that the US has done terrible stuff abroad. But is making life harder for our own lower classes to benefit the elites a good remedy?

          1. IDontKnow

            Nope, but not asking the oligarchy to stop it kind of makes it everyone’s problem. It’s sort of like camp guards, or the clerk at the bank, all having some, if lesser, criminality in war crimes. If they feel the heat from the camp slave labour, are they justified in saying gas them so the labour supply gets tight again, or should they first make it right, and force their oligarchy to make it right?

  10. Anon

    Interesting panel discussion. The black dude was an essential counter balance to some of the more exotic thoughts expressed by others.

    Worth the time.

    1. Dikaios Logos

      Frank Morris was “the black dude”.

      I thought his best moment was when he presented, IMO contrary to the almost all conventional discourse in the U.S. and to Dimitry Orlov, the idea that the internationalization of STEM positions in graduate schools had some rank underpinnings. If you knew the size of the retinues of some of these internationals with gonzo test scores, you would be much less impressed. It was good to have some of these widely held beliefs about our need to import these folks challenged in a public forum.

      1. Susan the other

        I thought that was a very interesting point by Morris. I know that after WW2, for instance, when West Germany was decimated, including the fact that all its intellectuals had left the country in fear and disgust, it started over from the ground up by focusing on education. And the German education system is excellent. Cradle to grave in some ways. We could use some of their attitude and expertise. Especially now when the world is begging for a new beginning.

        1. Harold

          My impressions: Morris seemed to be by far the most informed person there. I had to look him up to see who he was. Some of the others seemed like transparent hucksters.

          As far as some of the issues, the reality is that (except perhaps for the pentagon) we don’t have a bloated government. Our civil service is not big enough to do the job it is supposed to be doing, compared to those of other countries. A lot of government work has been contracted out to out to fee-collecting middlemen of dubious honesty.

          I don’t myself see how living on a yacht, homeschooling one’s children, permaculture /and / or relying on nearby Amish communities (notorious child beaters) is scalable, practical, or desirable.

          That said, it was interesting and I listened to the very end. I like Kunstler, the last angry man (whose blog I check from time to time), in small doses and Orlov, who had some good insights about engineering and central planning.

  11. Susan the other

    I loved it. Was just pondering: if the expanse of finance has flooded the world with notional wealth, then the coming crash will only be a notional crash. Not that we don’t need to get our stuff together, but it should looked at more like a phase change than a pogrom.

    1. aNanyMouse

      The majority expect that they’ll get to spend their notional wealth. When they discover it to worth zip, they’ll be in Pogrom mood.

      For a view as to how the transition may be a bit mitigated, see

        1. Vatch

          Is this the web page you were pointing to ?

          1. First click the link button.
          2. Then you need to enter the URL (http://whatever…) in the popup window.
          3. Click OK.
          4. After clicking OK, you need to enter text following what has appeared on your screen. This can be a repeat of the URL, or it can be a user friendly description.
          5. Finally, you need to click on the “/link” button.

          I suspect you probably omitted step 4.

    2. paul

      Well that has always been in the back of my mind, I have not noticed my wellbeing tracking the booms and busts of the 35 odd years of my adulthood.
      Its all been pretty much the same, except increasingly more difficult.

    3. HotFlash

      Susan the other
      April 8, 2017 at 2:13 pm

      Was just pondering: if the expanse of finance has flooded the world with notional wealth, then the coming crash will only be a notional crash.

      I am not an economist nor a financier, but what I see seems to work like this:
      1.) Create bubble in market of your choice. Stocks, real estate, whatever.
      2.) Lots of froth results — your notional money, I think? — mixed with/increasing the ‘real’ or original(?) money.
      3.) Cream (the ‘real’ money) floats to the top — well, not more/less real than the other stuff, but *paid out* of the frothy market, as salaries, bonuses, cap gains, dividends.
      4.) Bubble bursts, froth disappears. The salaries, bonuses etc remain as paid, but we (and our stocks, bonds, pension funds, houses, yada) are left holding an empty bag.

  12. Jane

    Everyone on this panel with the exception of the moderator and Frank Morris made my head explode. I felt as if I was witnessing the first class passengers on the Titanic sitting in their lifeboats, wringing their hands and crying “Isn’t it awful” as the ship sank with all the third class passengers.

    Public policy won’t work so all we can do is abandon the system but with compassion! Are you kidding me? The people who have never had to worry where their next meal was coming from, or how they were going to keep a roof over their kids head, or avoid attracting the unwanted attention of the authorities are telling us that there’s no point trying to work as a community because everything that allowed them to own a lifeboat will soon be gone, so better start building your own lifeboat and push off too. And not to worry, if the rest of us don’t make it those in the lifeboats will wring their hands all the way to the top of the next hierarchical power pyramid.

    Is their bubble made of self reflecting titanium mirrors or what? Ridiculously sad take on the world.

    1. paul

      Its a self help group of fatalists,
      but you’ve got to make your own business in this environment.
      Morrris stood out,his community (which the others daydreamed about) found out what happens if you ask for more than beyond two techno donkeys and an acre of hyperspace.
      Same as the sixties, water cannon and the Graybar hotel.

      1. aNanyMouse

        My understanding of these guys’ thinking is that, they’re expecting the scope for Community action to shrink to the local level. Asking Big Bro for anything will be a waste, once He has no gravy to pass out. How should JMG, etc., expect to be able to help “the rest of us”?

        We’re likely to see a time when the Brass won’t be able to hurl the water cannon and Graybar hotel at others, partly because they’ll lack the coin to pay the huge number of goons needed to man these weapons/ jails (and the requisite high-tech infrastructure).
        Most of the Brass will be preoccupied with circling their own wagons, once their notional wealth vanishes. They’ll be warily eyeing each other’s private armies.

        1. paul

          Please give me an example where this has happened.
          My experience is only where the levers of power have been taken hold by people of good intent

        2. Vatch

          The powers-that-be will be able to use the resources and personnel of law enforcement for a long time to come. They just won’t use them for protecting ordinary people from routine crimes. But they will continue to protect the ultra-rich, and their homes and businesses.

          We’ve probably already seen this in places like Detroit, MI; Camden, NJ; Stockton, CA; as well as some of the mega-cities of the Third World.

          1. Anonymous

            “They just won’t use them for protecting ordinary people from routine crimes.” They never did.

            “But they will continue to protect the ultra-rich, and their homes and businesses.” They’ve always done that.

      2. Jane

        It doesn’t seem to occur to them that their brand of self help may be fatal to them if “things fall apart.” Thought Morris handed their dismissive attitude with great good humor; I guess he’s run into their attitudes many times. They made it quite clear they had no interest in learning from his experiences.

        1. John Wright

          I believe this is the flaw in their approach.

          As a group, other than Morris, they assume they will be able to protect their self constructed safe areas from their desperate neighbors, who in the USA, will have guns.

          Orlov’s boat might be captured by pirates, and Martenson’s 2 acre plot might be overrun by hungry neighbors grabbing his carefully grown food.

          “No trespassing” signs won’t be effective in discouraging hungry neighbors..

          A long slow decline, as Greer suggested, is in their favor as they will have more time to adapt.

          If the system really falls apart, I don’t see any truly safe havens that are not vulnerable to assaults from the numerous others needing to take care of themselves.

          Maybe we need to issue Swiss Army knives to everyone, the Swiss Army knife solved all sorts of problems for MacGyver on the TV series.

          And the Swiss have avoided the huge military expense of the USA, which seems to be well correlated with their production of Swiss Army knives..

          I have several at the ready for any collapse.

          1. kemal erdogan

            Actually, Orlov has thought through all of this. In fact, his starting point was the collapse of the Soviet Union where (at least for a long while) law and order meant deciding on who had bigger guns. He said in one of his interviews that he refined his thoughts about how to survive the collapse while he personally experienced the collapse while living inside the USSR.

            But, I still don’t see how local community level organizing will help to address bigger problems: dealing with decommissioning of nuclear facilities, maintaining bigger infrastructure investments (gas pipelines, energy grid, etc.), etc. they all require large scale organizations and a hierarchy. Perhaps they think we will not need them but then they still need to be decommissioned without causing environmental catastrophes.

            I also think, he gets the point but his hate of communism prevents him to see the contradiction. Indeed, he had to admit that soviet central planning actually worked but only after JM Greer intervened and reminded him.

            it is also interesting to observe how they don’t see that a positive public policy can indeed make things turn around. Perhaps, they implicitly assume that such change in public policy is impossible only because there is no way for people to seize the levers of power. In that respect, they perhaps think along the same lines as W. Streeck who believes that capitalism will degenerate into a monster which will mean perpetual misery for everybody except for literally few people. But I doubt that is their line of thinking.

    2. cyclist

      While none of the panelists made my head explode (I thought they all made some interesting points), I understand where Jane is coming from. What about those bankers who give it all up to chase the permaculture dream, or maybe I should just go live on a sailboat? Not the solution for most of us. I make a middle class income and there is no way I can ever afford to buy even a small piece of land in my area. Try coming back on the bus from one of your multiple minimum wage jobs and start planning that sailing life. Morris was able to provide some counterpoint to this. But it was good to see ideas like class, income distribution and environmental degradation being wrestled with by some intelligent people.

    3. LAS

      You said it very well, Jane. I sat through this but found it disappointing, even though the speakers are well educated and somewhat entertaining.

      What these guys say isn’t much in the way of leadership or wisdom. These are privileged males, with their wealth put into private bunkers, or new age man-caves, with bunker mentalities. They don’t really have a very deep understanding of urban communities or “social cohesion”. They don’t really understand urban poverty or urban working class at all. It is like they’re separate and judgmental and advocates of giving up and dropping off the grid. How’s that going to work for humanity, guys?

    4. Plenue

      JMG at least is more than slightly a smug dick. This is the guy who once congratulated himself for enduring a summer in scorching (sarcasm) New England without air conditioning, and chastised everyone who couldn’t make a similar noble sacrifice. He also has a history of censoring and even purging any commenters on his website who don’t blindly subscribe to his slow collapse scenario, a view he generally mocks.

      I can’t really speak about any of the others, though in regards to Orlov I’ve had quite enough of Eastern Orthodox Russian conservatives via my exposure (like harmful radiation) to The Saker.

      1. kemal erdogan

        I did not hear about JMG before, but during panel discussion he said he experienced a lot of hardship, including having a lot of difficulties in meeting the ends. Is that not true?

    5. Yves Smith Post author

      I hate to tell you but your Titanic metaphor is telling.

      1. If you had been on the Titanic, you were probably but not necessarily toast. Only 700 over 2200 passengers survived. There weren’t enough lifeboats. One of the lasting effects of that disaster was major changes in maritime safety rules. For instance, not only do cruises have enough lifeboats for all passengers and crew, but they also put the passengers though mandatory drills as to what to do in the event of an emergency.

      2. #1 was made worse by panic and sending down of some lifeboats not full.

      3. Women were represented disproportionately among the survivors. So your insinuation that men were more likely to survive is incorrect. It was class, not gender, that was the big determinant of who made it v who didn’t. See here for % of women survivors v. male.

      1. Harold

        Men can theoretically (not sure if that’s the correct word) have more children than women, but they can’t do it without a lot of women, so that could be the socio-biological explanation for women outnumbering men in all kinds of survival statistics. Not that I subscribe to socio-biology or pop evolutionary psychology or whatever it’s called.

        1. Oregoncharles

          Broadly: the birth rate depends on the number of fertile females, not males. Since animals normally need to keep their birth rate up to survive, that makes males expendable. Even people. We’re now into an exception, which is one reason the gender roles are shifting. But any catastrophe puts us right back at protecting females.

          Specific to the Titanic: because they’re better insulated via their normal fat deposits, women do better in either starvation or extreme cold situations. Like the Titanic, or the Donner party – it was mostly women who survived. That’s a physical difference that evolved in accordance with the first point (they also need reserves to carry and nurse babies.

          Yes, I emphatically subscribe to socio-biology. We’re evolved animals.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            No amount of fat was gonna save anyone in ice cold North Atlantic waters with rescue ships hours away. Hypothemia takes place in under 15 mins.

            The women were given preference in getting into the lifeboats.

  13. Dave

    One can view this discussion and its first hour discussion of the imperatives for systemic distress and then crawl into a bunker, or take these challenges and seek solutions. Absent political will to drive forward changes, the other solution is to adopt grass roots & local initiatives that support incremental adjustments aimed at eliminating or alleviating the systemic distress described in the discussion while shifting toward resolution thinking, at the systemic level.

    “Much of our day-to-day behaviour and cultural activity is structurally determined by our monetary and economic systems. Their redesign is a crucial enabler of the transition towards a regenerative culture. To transform our economic system(s) at every scale is an audacious salutogenic [health generating] design intervention, yet it is the only way we can effect changes deeply enough to avoid the collapse of civilization and further damage to ecosystems and the biosphere.”

  14. Waking Up

    A million thanks to Yves for posting this webcast. Fascinating information on a variety of topics from inequality, the environment (vibration pollination), etc. Highly recommend watching.

    As a side comment, I agree with John Michael Greer when he stated, “and that’s the unthinkable thing, because this sort of toxic optimism that has become so pervasive in our society, everything has to be upbeat, we have to put fishhooks in our lips and draw them up into a rictus and pretend nothing can ever be wrong. That we are on our way to some sort of imaginary star trek future metastasizing across the galaxy, when we’re not. It’s not working.”

    It’s time to have reality based discussions in this country.

  15. GooGooGaJoob

    Absolutely and I imagine it gets exponentially exhaustive the longer the video is. However, as a weekend post where I’d like to think some people have a little more leisure time than during the week, 1-2 hour videos with a little input/commentary from from authors of this blog is suitable. The readers will mill the grist and see what comes out of it.

    Now with that, being said, pretty please, love you long time, cherry on top, make an option for a grayed site background :]

  16. Waking Up

    For those interested in the environment, I found the following comment by Chris Martenson interesting:

    Mr. Martenson states, “I’ve been playing the role of the Lorax in all the talks I give. I gave a talk at NASA during one of their 100 year planning cycles at the UN and a variety of places. I start my talk now with the Rusty Patch Bumblebee. The Rusty Patch Bumblebee is now on the endangered species list. Fish and Wildlife put it there. You know who fought that tooth and nail? The one lobbying group that fought the hardest… The American Farm Bureau. How far off the reservation are you when the Farm Bureau is the one fighting the inclusion of the Bumblebee which is essential creature, right? So, that just hits me in the gut. That actually makes me very upset..this is the part of the story where I cry. I get really…my heart is broken by the idea that the loss of sentinel species not because they perform the central pollination services that make us billions of dollars in tomatoes but because it’s a bumblebee and has a place in life. So, I give this talk and NASA expected a little of this but I usually get someone in the audience who says “but Chris, they are making Drone Bumblebees now I heard.” So, who is going to make billions of them, charging the plugging wires each night, you know…think it through people. Once you lose the Bumblebee, no amount of optimism will get it back. Once you lose it, it’s gone. Once it’s gone, every single thing it pollinates is no longer on the menu. By the way, bumblebees perform something called vibration pollination, no other insect performs it. So, when they’re gone, everything they pollinate is gone and who knows what unknowable impacts. One of the NASA guys said, “but Drones”…and I said how would you feel if someone went into the space station, some numbnut and started removing the components from the oxygen generator. He said that would be a very bad idea.”

  17. collins

    Preppers (including the ones on the Panel who are in show biz, otherwise known as podcasts, blogs, and consultants ) are extraordinarily loud squeaky wheels.
    Arena metalhead decibel levels- incredibly loud squeeks. But they’re still only a tiny percentage of the American public, who by necessity, choice or both are stuck in society and lacking gated communities or high-rises with security men in the foyer – (your place in Manhattan Yves, lol?)- will seek out the answers at the ballot box.
    As someone previously pointed out, Trump got elected as a conservative populist. If he fails, the electorate will likely choose a liberal populist as the next step rather than a globalist Fortune 500 candidate- which is why the Republicans tried harder to destroy him than the Democrats did.
    Many years ago, Ross Perot was an ego -driven aberration as a 3rd party candidate. Trump (who after all is 3rd party) is no aberration.
    If Trump fails and a liberal populist arises who supports national health insurance, but stops short of free college tuition (which would be crony capitalism again in our society ) – he or she will cinch it.

  18. skippy

    From my purview over some decades in industry and associations – the most likely outcome will be populations in major cities with the in between left to ‘natural forces’.

    The reasons for this is multifaceted, partly “economic efficiency”, financialization, social memes about desirable life styles, environmental factors and lastly proximity to goods and services.

    Of course this will play out accordingly to regional factors such as geographical and social norms…

  19. VietnamVet

    I loved this discussion and recommended it earlier. Humor and intelligent observations are sorely missed in the 21st century. The tragic thing is that it is forbidden on corporate media to disagree with the fake propaganda that this is the most perfect of all possible worlds. In reality, we are escalating towards the oblivion of World War III even before rising seas or resource depletion have significant adverse effects.

  20. Fred

    A discussion that starts off well but just ends up being the usual doomer pessimistic nonsense. Note not only the resort to bad orthodox economics but the lack of any scientific oanalysis on this panel.

  21. homeroid

    Thank you for pointing out this talk. I listened to the whole thing, and could listen to another two hours. Wish more people could look at this.
    Live simple, simply live.

  22. Kevin Carhart

    I enjoyed this but felt like I wanted to poke and prod at the tropes that the speakers are mixed up with, rather than just listen to them as though they were journalists or something. Several of these people seem to be playing a game where a particular piece of imaginary futures* is used by a thought leader or ringmaster figure to get an audience to take the first step off the cliff themself. “It’s coming! We’ve all got to jump! You first!”

    This is usually related to labor/work in some way. The thought leader tells a story about what is inevitable to try to create a sense of reduced expectations. Tom Frank quotes Tom Peters in One Market Under God. Peters is trying to shape and mold workers by pushing the New Economy and how workers should/would conceive of themselves as brands. “It would not do to try to resist this ‘new brand world,'” says Frank. “Peters told us that it was ‘inescapable.’ The correct response was to internalize the logic of branding … Perhaps sensing that the ‘new brand world’ he is evoking was neither free nor attractive, Peters closed the essay by hinting at a different sort of incentive: ‘Start today. Or else.'”

    The New Economy had one set of ringmasters like Peters, George Gilder, Kevin Kelly. The robots/AI story has another. (I haven’t actually listened to a robot tell me about the coming job loss due to robots – it has all been human intermediaries so far, albeit some of them are progressive intermediaries like John Nichols and Bob McChesney.)

    The startups-who-misclassify-you-as-1099 have a set of ringmasters like that economist from the NYU Stern School who can’t shut up about how inevitable they are. I think all three of these things plus this present talk all have a dual life. Yes, there is something happening and *real* resource limits mean it’s correct that not everything that was possible in an expansion will be possible in a contraction. But to paraphrase Barbrook, purporting to know the future is a claim on clout and thought-leader status here in the present day, so who the hell are these self-appointed interpreters? Martenson and Orlov, by setting an example (I bought a sailboat, I sold my little airplane, I changed my diet, I have my own orchard, I hooked up with the Amish) are also exhorting their audience to “start today, or else.” And if you don’t know what to start or how, they can sell you a book about it.

    It may be too easy of a point to say “they have a little sideline, and having a little sideline hurts your credibility,” but as collins said a little upthread, they are in show biz. Ray Kurzweil happens to run Ray’n’Terry’s ye olde Supplements Shop, calling into question whether he cares about the ideas or whether the cart leads the horse. I thought it was strange when Martenson sounded like his deep personal convictions and life changes had been tongue in cheek, when he suddenly pushed battery technology near the end. Bizarre, in my opinion. Does he have an interest in a batteries startup? Any relation between that and post-Carbon? I’d like to know what Richard Smith would make of that.

    (* term from Imaginary Futures by Richard Barbrook, a great book that is very relevant)

  23. IDontKnow

    Gave up trying to figure out where to put this comment in the stream, there were too many spots.

    On women not participating in the panel, I noticed none of the complaints could bring up a really suitable woman candidate. This kind of relates back to observation about Frank Morris being the odd man out.

    Much of this discussion was about one area of civil society collapse survivalist, which seems to be a very white, very male field. Morris’s background is more of how to survive in a greater civil society which is unfair and biased of civil society that is a highly functional, but biased. That’s part of why he seemed optimistic compared to the rest of the panel. I don’t know of any American women who are in a leadership position, vs. camp follower, who are not more of Morris background rather survivalist/society collapse market like the rest of the panel.

    I’d have thought some First Nation (Canada) activists, some who are women, who are trying to get out from under the Capitalist system might have fitted the panel better, while providing another view of the problem is white (and not just white male)

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      As one of my female friends joked, the reason women don’t want to think about survivalism is that it would represent a huge step back for women. She’s thinking about where to situate herself so as not to be exposed to that during her life.

      1. jrs

        since what I’ve read makes the case that a lot of women have died historically in childbirth, I figure the lack of modern technology, likely means many more women would DIE early (even the neoliberal “go die” might be preferable). Now someone could argue this wasn’t true I suppose and that’s fine and they may be an expert in the topic (possibly it was more true post agriculture, prior modern birth, I don’t know). But the issue is seldom even discussed in survivalist circles.

        Nor of course were the birth control options so good for that matter either!

        Now those are issues of life and death and procreation, but there are others, women might be more dependent on men (but men might also be more dependent on women). It seems non-modern society, at least that wasn’t tribal, depended on people being coupled for survival (and yes ideally heterosexually as the two sexes performed different labor). Not as a matter of love or companonship, sex or cuddling, personal growth or mental health, but of bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy survival (the rest was at best a nice plus if you got it, or maybe a useful illusion making a virtue of necessity).

        I think your friend is right.

      2. IDontKnow


        Matriarchy was one of the first targets of western models of 19th/20th century modernity trucked in under the white man’s burden.

      3. JTFaraday

        That’s what I think and it’s not a joke. Just look at what happens to women in war, chaos etc.

        Which means most women don’t hanker for apocalypse either. I haven’t watched it (maybe I will), but maybe people are reacting to a sense of TINA inevitability that they themselves would simply prefer to steer clear of, and they don’t see that perspective represented on the panel.

        If you boil down Naomi Klein, she says that the strong create crises to take advantage of the weak. Where is the will to avoid the crisis situation in the first place?

        1. JTFaraday

          and re: Orlov The collapse of the USSR was not strictly natural resource constraints, so why is he all TINA in the first place? Maybe instead of picking on twentysomething kitty cat hatted girls, we should be taking a closer look at the big swinging dicks.

          I think I will watch that video.

  24. JohnnyGL

    Just caught this on Ben Falk’s FB page. How Britain launched a crash program to re-localize and feed itself in the face of the Nazi blockade in WWII.

    Benk Falk:
    Incredible account of a relived farm during WWII in Britain. Really interesting to see how an industrialized nation attempted to feed itself self-reliantly after becoming mostly dependent on global imports by 1939. The Women’s Timber Corps, Land Girls, Pig Clubs (almost a pig CSA with pooled pig food resources), Auxillery Units – where farmer’s were trained to be a guerrilla resistance if occupied by the Nazi’s and the rest of the “Land War” efforts as it was called – essentially one of the best examples of relocalozation in the modern era. A lot more apropos to the US than the Cuba example given it’s context. Impressive that A) they did it for 5-6 years but B) at the expense of a lot of biodiversity and soil loss (it seems likely that it could not be sustained for more than another year or few). By 1945 the soils were exhausted and still able to access chemical N fertilizer they could, barely, keep up decent production after multiple record years in 1942 to 1944. Much to learn in here from how so many rare breed livestock races are so rare because of the war cull (couldn’t be fed) to how organized the localization and production effort was at all levels of government from community canning groups in every town to a magazine filled with the how-to of this local food efforts made by the government literally almost overnight. Says a lot about what’s possible when people organize. Imagine, as many often do, what so much heroic effort could do if it was put toward creative ends in making life on earth better, rather than simply as an emergency response to megalomania and hate enabled by the high technology of modern war equipment.

  25. Wellstone's Ghost

    I would like to have seen Hillary Clinton on this panel. She obviously has the time, and its in Pennsylvania!

  26. Edward

    This was an interesting talk but a bit TED-talkish. Trying to predict the future, as they are, on such complicated topics, probably requires a systematic major research effort by a group of scholars rather then a two hour panel discussion, at least for some topics.

    I am sympathetic to the views of these people but I wonder how different this panel is from the “news” talk shows?

    One panelist thinks the U.S. collapse will be slow. I am not so sure. There are so many disasters our wonderful “leaders” have put off for our future– infrastructure, debt, antagonizing foreign countries, education, de-industrialization, civil rights, loss of the dollar reserve currency status, global warming and ecocide, pollution, respect for the law, fake news, election transparency and campaign finance corruption, that I feel like something dramatic could happen. The millennials might be able to handle 2-3 of these problems but I feel like that generation is being put in front of a firing squad.

  27. dao

    I watched the video, but only because I am open to listening to contrarian and unorthodox views even if I don’t agree with them. I emphatically disagree that the decline we are witnessing is due to peak oil or resource depletion. Not that those aren’t problems we are or will be facing.

    We are undergoing the same kind of economic collapse that happened during the Great Depression, which was also not due to resource depletion. Frank Morris was the only sane voice on the panel pointing this out, though it came towards the end of the discussion.

    1. UnhingedBecauseLucid

      [” I emphatically disagree that the decline we are witnessing is due to peak oil or resource depletion. Not that those aren’t problems we are or will be facing.”]

      Distributional issues can very well coexist in the “True Reality” box along side peak oil, resource scarcity, demographics, soil depletion, mass extinction and climate change.

      Why not ?
      Having problem acknowledging that several things can be true at the same time ?

  28. ewmayer

    Technical question: For such videos-sans-transcript, is it possible to feed the audio through one of those voice-to-text software packages in order to get a rough draft requiring a much more modest effort of editorial polishing?

    I mean, the media outlets which distribute transcripts to their podcasts can’t still all be hand-rendering those, can they?

    1. nobody

      For everything uploaded onto YouTube a closed caption transcript is automatically generated. There are tricks for extracting these; search for something like Get Transcript From YouTube Video and a bunch of stuff will pop up.

  29. Kevin Carhart

    I think someone could do some interesting research around the role of people who speak and write in the form “I used to _______, I now __________” and cataloging the different instances.

    I used to have a safety pin through my lip and get home at 3 AM every day. I now catch trout in my own stream and I’ve never felt so alive!

    I used to be John Cleese the mean, nasty merchant banker, I slept under my desk, I worked 25 hours a day. I now practice Buddhism 26 hours a day at the Jobs Foundation, I grind all my own dust, I play hot keyboards with Jorma Kaukonen and I’m actually healthy for the first time in my life!

    I used to be an asset stripper, I had eight coronaries at my racquetball court alone. it was bad news. Then I had an epiphany. I now play gamelan in Woodside all day, I avoid taxation through the use of small watercraft and freedom of contract, and my cryogenist tells me I’m 23 if I’m a day!

  30. Foppe

    A bit late, but my $2c:
    I am used to listening to David Harvey talking about the insanity of believing in compound growth forever, why it nevertheless is the dominant principle, and what drives it. In contrast, and connected to the fact that they’re totally disinterested in politics, and blind to the politics of money,* all these chaps except Frank were interested in talking about, was resource constraints, even though distributional choices are what drive scarcity, and what will drive scarcity, unless our understanding of the economy, and the place of economic thinking in our thinking about society, and our ideas about desert and inclusiion changes.
    In this light I found it very telling, as well as depressing, that pretty much whenever Frank started talking about fiscal policy, the discussion got mildly heated until the topic was changed to something else again. All because these very individualistic people are deeply convinced that this is not a relevant vector along which to attack this problem. (Yes, Greer said a little bit about the importance of ‘grassroots work’, but on the whole, he doesn’t strike me as interested in politics.) IMO that’s insane, and a large part of the reason why they’re such doom & gloom thinkers who dream of getting off the grid, etc..

    * yes, Frank and Chris sort of aren’t, but Chris (because he’s a member of the professional class) is still catering to the prepper niche, and seems to have checked out from politics, as befits someone with his class background.

    1. Foppe

      To clarify/add: yes, they talked about the rise of inequality, and about the loss of job security, wage stagnation, etc.. But the vibe they gave off (and this was quite noticeable when frank talked about raising taxes) was been there, done that, no point going there. Same when building programs were brought up (no money). And this was left wholly disconnected from the resource limits discussion, even though if ‘peak oil’ has taught us anything, it’s only a question of what we are willing & able to pay — and indirectly, who we want to have access.

  31. Iowan X

    Way, way late to the comment stream, which I haven’t read, but will…I just want to thank you for posting the video. I was aware of 3/5 of these people, and I got to watch it over the weekend, and I was delighted, more or less, with this discussion! They need to invite Yves next time they do it, because there wasn’t a women’s perspective (and not a bunch of economic perspective), but all in all, a great video. I don’t think I would have made it through a print version, so the video was perfect. Again, thank you!

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