The John Brown Moment

SUBHEAD: America in the wilderness of self-denial, self-double-dealing, and suicidal self-perfidy.  

By James Kunstler on 13 February 2012 for -  
Image above: "Ship of State" a new painting by one of our favorite contemporary artists, Mark Bryan. From (

When Gaia gets pissed off enough at the antics of humanity, she sends in her hit-man, Reality, to settle accounts. Reality is blessed with a cloak of invisibility. The human race is so busy concocting stories about what it is doing, that Reality steals onto the scene unnoticed - until bodies start to fall over, and the sort of bad political weather known as a shit-storm fills the skies, the streets, and the assembly halls.

One of the cockamamie stories circulating this week is that the Euro bailout of broke member nations is fait accompli, baked in the cake, a done deal, no problemo, because the December 2011 Long Term Refinancing Operation makes it so. The European Central Bank can supposedly eat bad bond paper until the cows come home without choking to death at the same time that it can run a back-door money-printing racket without the results showing up in currency degradation. And the Greeks will bend over and receive what they've got coming good and hard because, well, they are Greeks, and it is their way!

Excuse me, but something's got to give. History is a lot of things, but it is not silly putty. Its cousin, Reality, slips through it performing its deeds one way or another. The Greeks have lately remembered some of their own history. The Germans have beset them before, they now recall, and some of the money currently labeled "debt" may have been filed incorrectly, the Greeks say. It actually belongs in the folder labeled "war reparations." (Granted, it is hard to read folders when you are bending over so far that things look upside-down.) Germany, it happens, remembers too the last time that this folder was flopped out on the table. Things didn't work out so well for the Weimar finance ministry in those dark days ninety years ago.

Meanwhile, Athens and several other Greek cities ignite in an overture to what might come to be called the European Spring.

Reality steals onto the scene bearing a message from Mother Gaia: "None of your shenanigans make the numbers add up. The European financial arrangement will blow up because it must." Therefore, expect it to blow up. Germany will not keep pounding sand down the rat-hole of PIIGS insolvency for another year. Anyway, the proverbial tin-can that everyone was kicking down the road - it fell down the rat-hole, too, so there is nothing left to kick except Greek civil servants, both current and retired and, alas, they represent that part of the Greek economy not occupied by olive cultivation, which is to say most of it. It turns out, when you kick Greeks down the road (probably Spaniards, Italians, Portuguese, and Irish, too) sparks fly off them and things catch fire.

The bottom line seems to be that Europe can either go broke or burn down, or do both. But it can't go back to what it was doing before: pretending to be rich and care-free.

Over on this side of the Atlantic, America's experiment in pervasive control fraud took a new turn with the pretended "settlement" of massive, widespread, robo-signing allegations that will allow a bunch of "the usual suspect" TBTF banks off the hook from future liability and criminal prosecution resulting from hundreds of billions of dollars worth of swindles. The TBTF banks will have to pay, when all the "principal reduction credits" and other dodgy subtractions are made, a couple of billion altogether, which is obviously little more than a cost of doing business for such supernaturally fabulous returns. And then that is supposed to be the end of the whole disgusting episode.

Last to cave in on this legally squooshy agreement between fifty states was New York's own Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, newly enlisted in the elite national corps of cads, bounders, and sell-outs. This was the week that the same Schneiderman agreed to lead President Obama's so called Mortgage Fraud Task Force, which, any child of eight can see, is a smokescreen to conceal the fact that the US Department of Justice has failed to initiate any action whatsoever in the vast and gruesome pageant of fraud that has transformed the rule of law into a rule of larceny.

Do you think the late Whitney Houston was a lost soul? Then look for the soul of your country - if you can find it in the wilderness of self-denial, self-double-dealing, and suicidal self-perfidy that it has blundered into with eyes wide shut. No lie is now too big for the United States to swallow. If Europeans ignite and blow up when kicked down the road, here is what will happen to America: it will blunder down its own road until it reaches the next John Brown moment. John Brown put his proverbially famous body in the middle of that road some ways back. He mounted an insurrection at Harper's Ferry, Virginia, in an attempt to fast-track the abolition of slavery. Brown was hanged in 1859, but less than two years later the Civil War commenced, the greatest convulsion in our history. So far.

Slavery was yesteryear's abomination in America as pervasive control fraud is today's. Somewhere out in America right now is the new American John Brown, a righteous fanatic whose act is waiting to alter the course of history. The next John Brown will also precipitate what was a long time coming. Reality is busy in the background, even while we blog and dither, setting things up.

Image above: Detail of lifeboat from "Ship of State" by Mark Bryan, 2012. From (  


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