Wikinvest Wire

Is corn-pone Naziism in our future?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Jim Kunstler's latest commentary offers up a disturbing image of one of the many possible futures here in these United States, that of "corn-pone Naziism" (note that the image you see below came from this Google image search, where something of a definition of the phrase can be found - it begins with disillusionment with the party now out of power in Washington):

The public perception of the ongoing fiasco in governance has moved from sheer, mute incomprehension to goggle-eyed panic as the scrims of unreality peel away revealing something like a national death-watch scene in history's intensive care unit. Is the USA in recession, depression, or collapse? People are at least beginning to ask.
Among the questions that disturb the sleep of many casual observers is how come Mr. O doesn't get that the conventional process of economic growth -- based, as it was, on industrial expansion via revolving credit in a cheap-energy-resource era -- is over, and why does he keep invoking it at the podium? Dear Mr. President, you are presiding over an epochal contraction, not a pause in the growth epic. Your assignment is to manage that contraction in a way that does not lead to world war, civil disorder or both.
One of the sad paradoxes of politics is that democracies do not seem very good at disciplining their citizens' behavior. The wish to please voters and the influence of campaign money overwhelm even leaders with mature instincts. In America's case, this could lead to what I like to call corn-pone Naziism a few years down the road. Someone will design snazzy uniforms and get us all marching around to "God Bless America." At the point of a gun.

It's not too late for President Obama to start uttering these truths so that we can avoid a turn to fascism and get on with the real business of America's next phase of history...
That's probably way too much to ask of any politician. When's the next election? He's probably already given at least a passing thought or two to the next election.


Anonymous said...

For those of you too lazy to click on the link and do a CTRL-F, here's the definition of the term:

After a long cycle of dominance the Republicans begin to pay a price for their stupidity and greed. An economically hard-pressed public will become inflamed over White House efforts to go easy on illegal immigration. Bush and Co. will be blamed for all the economic travails cited above. Meanwhile, the Democrats, led by the wraith-like Harry Reid (Nevada), will stand idly by without a single idea in their collective heads. In a better world, this would lead to the formation of a new-and-improved progressive opposition. But in this imperfect world, what we are apt to see instead is the formation of several big movements on the lunatic fringe: hardcore isolationists, anti-immigrationists, and biggest of all, a tsunami of the formerly middle-class -- all those ruined home owners and credit card bankrupts who will demand political action to bring back their lost 'entitlements.' These are the people who could lead the United States into a kind of corn-pone Naziism.

Bud said...

Tim, how does this possibly make any difference anymore ----- Paula Abdul is dissing the fourth judge on American Idol!!

Adam said...

this kind of post is not why i read this blog. the content may be interesting to consider but it's so far out there and the comment "when's the next election" just seems bitter. let's get back to your regular posts. :)

Nostradamus, apparently said...

This kind of post is EXACTLY why I read this blog. I'm looking for a realistic view of what's wrong with our economy and how to fix it.

Surely, a post that questions whether we're in a temporary economic lull or a massive, pre-apocalyptic contraction is dead on target.

If you just want Obama worship, I think Oprah has a web site you'd like a lot.

If your views can't take rational debate, they aren't very persuasive to the rest of us.

A reasonable person could CERTAINLY conclude after a month or so of Obama that he is NOT going to change anything. Virtually everything he has done is more of the same old tired crap one can expect from a 'typical' D.

Just like Bush was more of the same old R crap.

It's time for a change. We had a chance with Ron Paul and blew it.

I agree... when is the next election???

Tim said...

FWIW - I can see how those last two sentences could easily be misinterpreted, but they were intended to convey the idea that Obama will be looking ahead to the next election, not that I'm looking ahead for an alternative (at least not yet).

They were in reference to "The wish to please voters and the influence of campaign money overwhelm even leaders with mature instincts."

I've updated the post to reflect this clarification.

Nostradamus, apparently said...

I prefer the original meaning...


The link to Kunstler is invaluable. I'm thrilled to have found it and would not have found it without this blog.

So, thanks!

Anonymous said...

The American political landscape will become Nazi-ish??


Kunstler's future-cast resembles the plot to
"Invasion of the Body Snatchers".
Or any zombie movie.

I do not share his pessimism.

Aaron Krowne said...

Hah... Kunstler and all the rest of you are tragically optimistic if you don't start my acknowledging that this country is already national socialistic.

What is national socialism? Well, it's like fascism (which is corporatism), except more religious and jingoistic. It's more about "manifest destiny" than making the trains run on time (after all, what trains?) Government and corporations flow together as one, but the government is more militarized and sits above all.

Sound familiar at all???

One of Obama's first war-on-terror moves was to continue the state secrets privilege Bush had been invoking. You know, to keep the details of the charges from the accused. Yeah, that happens in a functioning "Republic".

Of course, he has notoriously continued the position of running protection for the big banks, which I don't think I have to tell anyone around here.

The smiley face is apropos... Obama has made no substantial changes and is just a smiley face on the exact same system.

Aaron Krowne said...

oops, that should be "by acknowledging" above

Nostradamus, apparently said...


Sadly, I have to agree.

It's hard to know where we draw the line but, regardless, IMHO, it's been crossed and we're now more socialistic than not.

Kunstler's post is very good reading and he seems sane, to me. It's just one guy's opinion, but it's worth considering if you prefer to live in the real world, as I do.

Adam said...

Nostradamus, I understand the article is interesting but it's incredibly pessimisitic OPINION piece. I just usually enjoy this blog for it's thoughtful and DATA-DRIVEN analysis.

In any case, it wasn't meant as an attack on Tim or his blog. Just a comment.

Thanks, Adam :)

Nostradamus, apparently said...


Yep, it's cool...

I suspect Tim is just trying to present a diverse range of views and, if people don't agree, they're free to vent here.

I REALLY don't think one should pick on ONE post in the hundreds of posts Tim puts up and rag on him about it.

It's very cool to go to Tim's blog and find stuff that you would otherwise miss.

I don't want to discourage him at all.

It's invaluable to people such as I who are trying hard to find the truth.

This is what's so great about the web.

Go, Tim!

Tim said...

I don't agree with a lot of things Kunstler says (mostly in regard to being too pessimistic), but I find him to be one of the most interesting writers out there today in what is otherwise a sea of mediocrity. What I find most fascinating is how different people react to what he has to say, the comments on this post thus far being a good example of such.

CW said...

Anyone dismissing this out of hand is deluding themselves. Even the centrists will embrace a strong man after things get bad enough for long enough. Most people in this country have a low tolerance for pain and an eagerness to accept simple solutions.

Anonymous said...

The most common criticism of Obama is that he has been too honest with the sheeple. He needs to give them more hope, mixed with simple slogans, like bushco did. The last thing Americans want to hear is the truth.

little larry sellers said...

While I agree with the overall tone of Kunstler's article, I think Nazi Germany is terribly overused as an example. We're buckling under the weight of our own incompetence, not unlivable conditions that some foreign powers imposed on us. Even though the fear and anger will be palpable as the crisis continues, the country is too politically and ethnically divided for us to all become Brownshirts.

There will be plenty of scapegoating in the media, but it will be scattershot. Who's to blame for the crisis? I'd point the finger at central bankers, fiat currency, and an insane emphasis on short term profit, but that's not a sexy explanation and most of the public won't go for it. Any form of self-blame appears to be off the table. So who'll end up getting blamed? Mexicans? Chinese? Jews? Muslims? Baby boomers? Liberals or conservatives? All of the above?

I suppose this is a backhanded compliment for our horrid two party system, working hard to keep us at each others' throats. What is a true American anyway? Without a clear answer to that question, I think that one missing ingredient will keep us from anything resembling Nazi Germany. For the sake of comparison, if you want to see a country that really is backsliding into Naziism, check out Russia.

little larry sellers said...

I forgot to add one final point: Kunstler's vision of marching around at gunpoint to "God Bless America" seems extremely unlikely since the jingoists and patriotism hucksters shot their wad after 9/11. It'd be way too soon to try it again, considering we were already waving flags and tying yellow ribbons to trees while we marched headlong into this crisis.

Islands In The Stream said...

If you want "Out There" beyond the fringe of Jim Kunstler, look no farther than Fox News:

Bron said...

Fascism? Read this below from a Daniel Guerin, Fascism and big business, 2nd ed. 1973, originally published in 1939 by a French journalist and scholar. What was that about history repeating?

When the economic crisis becomes acute, when the rate of profit sinks towards zero, the bourgeoisie can see only one way to restore its profits: it empties the pockets of the people down to the last centime. It resorts to what M. Caillaux, once finance minister of France, expressively calls "the great penance": brutal slashing of wages and social expenditures, raising of tariff duties at the expense of the consumer, etc. The state, furthermore, rescues business enterprises on the brink of bankruptcy, forcing the masses to foot the bill. Such enterprises are kept alive with subsidies, tax exemptions, orders for public works and armaments. In short, the state thrusts itself into the breach left by the vanishing private customers. ...

In richer, more fortunate countries, the bourgeoisie seems to have succeeded, not in escaping the crisis permanently, but at least in extricating itself for the time being from its difficulties. They have been able to start up again, after a fashion, the mechanism of profit, resorting to expedients which at least have not required the substitution of dictatorship for democracy. But they used basically the same methods in both cases: the state refloated private capitalism, revived it with great public works and huge "defense contracts."

Mathlete said...

Obamessiah was supposed to be the guy. He jumped the shark in one month.

People will turn to the state though, as previous commenters said, we're already national socialst. National socialism was essentially the policy of the New Deal and it has yet to be uprooted.

SPECTRE of Deflation said...

Anyone wanting to send their thanks to their respective politician for their tireless work for the American people can find their home addresses right here:

Anonymous said...

I'd sooner worry about our declining economic situation (and attempts to address it) compromising our ability to detect and prevent a large scale terrorist attack or the declining world economic situation to push international tensions to where full scale war breaks out between nuclear powers. The situation presented in the article just doesn't seem very plausible.

Greyhair said...

I've got to agree with the commentor who said that the blog is getting a little out in left field.

Tim, I know you think the financial world should work differently. And perhaps it will someday. But is that likely any time soon? Your posts seem to be more and more focused in a direction of someone taking their gun and moving into the hills, preparing for the coming apocolypse. I personally am finding the information presented here less useful FWIW. And as an investor, I'm looking for information that is actually useful in the marketplace, not ideology in search of a venue.

As far as the Nazi thing .... what does anyone think has been happening over the past 30 yrs or so? It certainly hasn't been a steady movement to the left.

Nostradamus, apparently said...

Stop whining to Tim that you don't like hearing pessimistic viewpoints like Kunstler's blog.

"I want useful investment ideas."

NEWSFLASH! If the economy is going to tank, you'll be darn glad you heard it BEFORE it happens. You might want to consider "investing" in guns, food and water.

And, if that's just too far out there for you to imagine, Kunstler's view might also have something to do with the price of gold and other commodities. (That's really what this blog is all about.)

You think Kunstler's too negative. Did you ever think maybe your view is too positive?

I remember when the mainstream view was that 'housing always goes up' and all that crap espoused by the NAR and Greenspan's moronic comments. Ron Paul, Schiff and Roubini, et al were considered crack pots. Schiff was basically right. The people with the rose colored glasses look like idiots today.

Kunstler might be the new Schiff.

But, even more importantly, why in the world should Tim should stop mentioning alternate viewpoints that he finds interesting? Tim is smart and we all read this blog because we value his view. He's not some moron who just says anything stupid thing that pops into his mind.

Open up your minds. Take off the rose-colored glasses at least once in a while and read something written by someone intelligent like Kunstler that challenges your basic assumptions.

You can't hide from reality by watching Reality TV.

Greyhair said...

Nos ....

You are just the audience that is being attracted to Tim's blog .... unfortunately.

Like your ideology you make all kinds of presumptions and jump to all kinds of conclusions about me based on a few words I wrote, most of which are incorrect.

But. I guess that what makes a market!

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