May 13, 2006

The Leon Charney Report

Morris Berman Featured on The Leon Charney Report

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Blogger DM said...

I enjoyed watching your interview with Leon Charney. He is an intelligent man, but he had hard time grasping the sweeping nature of your argument of how and when our rapidly decaying civilization went off the tracks towards the new brave Dark Age. Not everyone is capable or willing to leave the proverbial Plato’s cave and think outside the box. Still fewer of us have the courage to wade through the stream of nuance and ambiguity that pervades our life on their way towards wisdom.

I am young Eastern European born New Yorker who has never been fond of our liquid modernity and its many manifestations including pervasive narcissism, regressive effects of commodification and commercialization of most facets of life, as well as the pernicious idea that radical individualism is a virtue. I purchased your latest book in the silly hope that my sharing it with friends and family might bring them to their senses, or at the very least plant the seeds of doubt about the viability of our dysfunctional way of existing.

Your warning may not be enjoying the wide exposure that it deserves. However, judging from the fact that your latest book is currently difficult to obtain without a wait in most public libraries in the New York City and its suburbs, there must be a few of us who are receptive to the content of your plea. Maybe if enough of us bother to listen to and really comprehend your message we won't need to wait for "a god to save us" from our reification of science, technology and the Market that are embraced by our supposed “countervailing institutions”.

I am looking forward to reading some of your earlier books, which I hope will be a starting point in my journey to discover how and when our ancestors set us on the wrong path.

3:04 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dear dm:

Thank you for your support and encouragement. As for best-seller status, or the ideas of DAA gaining wide acceptance, I think that's a long shot. I remember years ago, shortly after I published The Twilight of American Culture, someone did a review of it on Amazon and remarked, "If this book is successful, then its thesis is wrong!" Good point, I thought, although it depends on your definition of success. Twilight sold 35,000 copies in a nation of 300 million, so I'm guessing the thesis of the book was correct. I'm also guessing that authors and readers who see the "whole picture" are going to be's the type of "censorship" that obtains in the US. (As someone I met years ago in Czechoslovakia remarked to me, 'In the USSR you can't say anything, but if you do, it's earth-shaking. In the US you can say anything you want, but it makes no difference at all.' Touche, I thought.) Anyway, as I wrote in Twilight, at this point cultural preservation is all that's left to us, since structural problems require structural solutions, and these are definitely not forthcoming at this time. On that note, let me recommend Wandering God, which is perhaps my best attempt at the "whole picture."--mb

9:09 PM  
Blogger condor655 said...

You are so wrong is so many areas, but I will give 2 concrete examples from you Leon Charney interview. (1) You said there was no religion with hunter gatherers. Well, I wasn't there and you weren't there, but every other primitive society has religion running through every aspect of their daily lives. So I believe you are incorrect. (2) You promote a "deficit of empathy" in the US. Oh, we don't send aid to earthquake victims in Pakistan (who probably hate us), or Indonesia, or Billions to Africa, etc., etc., etc. The funny thing is that the only immediate aid that worked in response to Katrina were the Southern Evangelical Churchs that mobilized. There is NO LACK OF EMPATHY in America, only in your mind!!

4:21 PM  
Blogger condor655 said...

A PS to my last posting. Thank you for introducing me to this blogspot. I have started a blog called Sons of Reagan. I know you like the truth, so check it out.

4:22 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dear Condor:

The issue of primitive religion is too vast for me to cover here, but if you'd like, I provide an extended discussion of the topic in "Wandering God" (SUNY Press, 2000). The argument that primitive societies we know of have religion, so that it must have held true in the Paleolithic, is a fallacy of what's called the "ethnographic present." There are ways of knowing about the distant past, in short, but contemporary comparisons are not terribly reliable.

As for Katrina, the problem with voluntary solutions is that they finally don't really deal with the problem; they are short lived, and fall far short of a social safety net--which would be true empathy. Charity and voluntarism are the bourgeois form of justice. Real empathy happens when it gets institutionalized, as a way of life. This we certainly don't have, and Katrina, like everything else in the US, merely proved to be the story of the week.

6:19 PM  
Blogger Richard G. said...

Dear Mr. Berman, I viewed your book review today on Book TV, and enjoyed it very much.

You seem to imply that America has lost it's moral compass. I am not sure we ever had one. My personal belief is that history is driven by geography, geology, climate, and our recent experience.

Alternatively, we are what we are because that is what we can be. Katrina ( which I was close to) is just another example of Nature spanking us.

I noted that you approve of the Scandanavian social model. In my view , it works pretty well for them because the countries are small, and the population is pretty much racially monolithic. I just do not see that ever working here. In my view small things, including countries, can work well, and big things have a tough time succeeding.

I do agree that we may very well descend into a US dark age, because we simply squander so much, both resource and opportunity. As someone once said, we have too much geography and too little history. Europe has too little geography , and too much history. I have a much different view of Eurpoe's supposed humanitarianism, which I will publish in a few days.

I have not read your work, but will get to it...Regards, Richard G.

9:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's a lot to said for people who even discuss these topics; perhaps, that is the best we can expect. Let's just talk about them.
There is evidence, reasoning, and causality on the side of survival, and there is momentum since at least 1945, as you've said on the side of our(mainly self) destruction.
What the hell.
Bushrod L

3:16 PM  

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