June 29, 2006

Letter to the New York Times

Washington, DC
30 June 2006

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

Some of you undoubtedly saw Michiko Kakutani’s virulent review of Dark Ages America in the June 16, 2006, issue of the New York Times. For those of you who have read DAA, you know her review was not merely a distortion of the book, but rather an outright lie–a fabricated version of what the book is about. Ms. Kakutani has a reputation for this sort of poison-pen-style demolition of serious authors, but I couldn’t help thinking that the great American tradition of red-baiting was at work here as well, as the references to Anne Coulter and Bill O’Reilly at the end of her review would suggest. In other words, she serves the Times’ purposes well: by savaging a left-wing study (and just to set the record straight, DAA has many things in it that conservatives would agree with), the Times can protect its flanks not only from the likes of Coulter and O’Reilly, but also from the Bush administration as well: "See? We attack the left; we’re not liberals at all! We’re ‘objective’."

Personally, I can’t help feeling that the NYT has fallen a great distance from the golden days of the Sulzberger family, and the once-admirable slogan of "All The News That’s Fit To Print." Beyond the embarrassing Jayson Blair affair, there is the matter of the newspaper fanning the flames for the 2003 invasion of Iraq by repeatedly publishing, on the front page, dubious unchecked stories regarding Iraq’s alleged WMD; and then, a year later (26 May 2004), admitting what it had done in a belated lukewarm apology to its readers–tucked away on p. 10 (on this see DAA, pp. 211 and 220). One has to wonder what in the world right-wing radio hosts are thinking when they rant against the Times as part of "the liberal media."

My own frustration, of course, is that of being smeared–for that is what Kakutani’s review amounted to–and then not being allowed the opportunity for a rebuttal. It is the NYT’s practice to phone writers of letters submitted to verify the authenticity of authorship. As it is now two weeks since I sent them an e-mail reply (below) to the review of my book, and I have received no such phone call, it would seem to be the case that the Times is content to "hit and run," so to speak. So the Kakutani version of the book becomes the "official" version in absence of a printed objection to it; it gets reprinted in the International Herald Tribune, which is sold in nearly every major city in the world, and is also translated into a number of foreign languages and reprinted in foreign newspapers. We do not, in this country, have the sort of censorship that obtained in the former USSR; rather, ours is much more subtle, and in the long run, probably much more effective. Bottom line: truly alternative voices cannot get heard here, and that is, to me, the saddest aspect of this whole thing.

Let me stop at that point. Hopefully, my letter of June 16 speaks for itself. In lieu of getting it published, I am posting it on my website (www.morrisberman.com) and ask that you send this message to anyone who you think may be interested in it. As follows:

To the Editor:

I am writing this in response to Michiko Kakutani’s savage review (16 June 2006) of my book Dark Ages America. The irony about her accusation that the book is a "rant" and that it contains no "carefully reasoned analysis" is that this description applies precisely to her review, rather than to my book. Ms. Kakutani never engages the text at the level of content; she never really tells the reader what is in the book, and therefore is spared the difficulty of critiquing it point by point. Indeed, she fails to contradict a single conclusion of the book with a fact or an argument. Chapter by chapter, in a carefully reasoned and heavily footnoted way, Dark Ages America discusses the repeal of the Bretton Woods Accords in 1971, and the consequent rise of finance capital; the development of the containment policy in the years following George Kennan’s formulation of it, and its subsequent impact on our foreign policy; the CIA-engineered overthrow of legitimate regimes (ably documented, for example, by New York Times reporter Stephen Kinzer), and the sewing of bitter resentment toward the United States in the Islamic world; Jimmy Carter’s unsuccessful attempt to address some of these entrenched patterns; the twentieth-century creation of a suburban landscape, and its role in American culture and politics; the economic challenge now being posed to us by China and the European Union–etc. None of this is addressed in a review that is little more than a disturbed emotional outburst, completely over the top. What recourse do I have in the face of such an utterly dishonest diatribe, except to urge the reader to check the text out for him- or herself?

My distress over this, however, goes beyond the personal to the sadness I feel for the country as a whole. What chance does the United States have if a carefully reasoned, empirically substantiated diagnostic look at how we got here gets completely blown out of the water by the nation’s premier representative of the Fourth Estate? A leading American historian wrote me, after reading Dark Ages America: "You have done this country a great service"; and a major German newspaper reviewed the book under the title, "Hopes of a Patriot." America’s major institutions, on the other hand, seem to be increasingly incapable of recognizing that incisive critics are the best friends this country has. By refusing to engage in actual dialogue over the issues raised in the book, and responding instead with a smear, the Times review is actually hastening the Dark Ages I describe in the text. The "sorrows of empire," as Chalmers Johnson puts it, are indeed upon us.


Morris Berman
Washington, DC
16 June 2006


Blogger Ashes77 said...

well maybe it's not worth much, but I for one am rooting for you and your book.

9:34 PM  
Anonymous Matt Thomas said...

Professor Berman is right in that Michiko Kakutani is infamous for her wildy off-base reviews. To wit: this Slate article.

Money quote: The late Susan Sontag complained, "Her criticisms of my books are stupid and shallow and not to the point." Salman Rushdie referred to her as "a weird woman who seems to feel the need to alternately praise and spank." Most notoriously, last year Norman Mailer called Kakutani, who is of Japanese descent, a "one-woman kamikaze" and a "token" minority hire.

It would seem as if Professor Berman is in good company.

9:48 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

I want to thank both you guys for your support; of *course* it's worth a lot, make no mistake about it.

As for Michiko, the real question, given a track record that has been commented on extensively by people of the Sontag/Rushdie/Mailer variety, is why she's still reviewing for the Times. I'm sure there is more than one answer to this, but I do suspect that as arbitrary and venomous as she is, she serves an important function for the newspaper, as I note in my discussion. "Sad Times," they should rename the thing, esp. when one considers how the quality has been steadily dropping over the last twenty years or so. The comparison becomes obvious when one goes to Europe: America has nothing in the same ballpark as The Guardian, Le Monde, Die Zeit, Corriere della Sera, or El Pais. This is no small factor in our general decline, I suspect.

8:28 AM  
Blogger Ashes77 said...

I've read all your books and your Logo Magazine piece from 18 months ago or so about Barcelona. Having left the US forever, I wonder that you concentrate so much on them, watching their decline, etc, and that you don't have an opinion on Latin America. I take a great deal of comfort from the fact that the second heresy you describe in "coming to our senses" is so alive and well here. All new dances, for example, come from latin cultures and the emphasis on beauty and culture is so predominant, relations with Canada and Europe are stronger than ever. Won't the 500 million native Spanish speakers and thinkers figure more prominently in your work than one snotty Times columnist ? Many thanks again.

2:36 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Ashes, you make a terrific point, and I shall definitely have to think about what you are saying. In the meantime, I think your comment can stand by itself, without any further editorializing from me. Thank you.

4:15 AM  
Anonymous Elizabeth M. said...

I thought the Kakutani review was really offensive in its shallowness. As you say, she doesn't even engage with the text -- her review reads as though she were responding to some third-hand report of what your book is about. I think she's better regarded as an "entertainer" on par with O'Reilly or Coulter than as a serious thinker about books.

9:55 AM  
Anonymous Observing Gaul said...

I'm on the second reading of Dark Ages (I'm now going through the exercise of reading the sources you referenced) and I think it's a shame that it was treated to such a shabby review in the NYT. Being highly critical of shortcomings (real or perceived) and addressing them full-on used to be the model of public discourse that America provided for those of us who grew up in other Western societies where the status quo was rarely challenged.

Ironically, in its decline, America, or specifically, public discourse as played out in American media, is providing a model of what not to do and I suppose we should all still be grateful.

A sign of hope (or further proof that decline is also a creative force) are the bold and interesting responses to a numbing media as provided by the blogs similar to the ones you have blog-rolled. Since I started reading American blogs, I was astounded to find out that there were as many witty, direct, well-read and thoughtful voices out there, which of course, are never featured in American main-stream media.

I do think the fundamental weaknesses in America won't be corrected until a major crisis occurs, and I've thought that for quite some time. Particularly, the decades-long decline in mass public education won't be reversed any time soon, especially since the marketable worth of a good, liberal, well-rounded education has become almost nil.

I look forward to more of your writing.

8:27 AM  
Blogger highlowbetween said...

Way to go Morris! It appalling.
I haven't read Dark Ages yet but I have read "Twilight", and few us 'art" bloggers have gotten into a long discussion as the reult of Eric Larsen's recent book. Anyway, I'm doing a 4 or 5 part series on my blog that is heavily based on "Twilight". Feel free to stop in, comment, elaborate, disagree, etc. its early in the post process but I hope to come out somehwere that is substantial and optimistic.
Thanks again for being a man of truth.
Funny seeing you here Ashes ;)

11:03 PM  
Blogger Hokkaido said...

Dr. Berman's book is a devastating indictment on Modern "Culture". One my avocations is reading books like "Dark Ages America".

Kakutani San is angry because Dr. Berman rightly points up the fact that the N.Y. Times got hoodwinked by the Bush Iraq War Machine Propaganda Team.

Either as a paid/remunerated willing participant or as the proverbial "unwitting dupes" the N.Y. Times (Dr. Berman smashingly makes clear) ran myriad pieces of "copy" or more correctly "balderdash" of the WMD/Nuclear Weapons Lies concocted by the Wolfowitz/Cheney Team to Launch U.S. Warships/planes etc for Iraq and another of "our" Empire Building Wars.

Berman's book is first rate. The good news re Kakutani San's osoroshi (Nihongo for bad/horrible) review is that as we all know--To be reviewed in the N.Y. Times (even if a negative review) is good, if only because of the circulation and readership.

It would be a mistake to allow Kakutani San to grab any more attention. "Let the Dead bury the Dead".

I assume Dr. Berman reads this blog...Thank you Dr. Berman, I have encouraged others to read your latest book and I would like to sincerely thank you for writing it. Scarcely do you need my praise but I will now read your other texts.

Thank You

7:11 AM  
Blogger garygray said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

I watched your book review about "The Dark Ages of America" on BookTV.
One of your statements struck me profoundly.
"One terrorist attack from a police state". I feel that deeply.
However, I think you are doing the American public
a disservice by spreading the official propaganda of 911.

Please, please, please educate yourself!!!

The police state in planned! I beg you educate yourself!!!

Please WATCH!!!!


Please go to & educate yourself!!!

Concerned patriot,

11:16 PM  
Anonymous Lynne Crow said...

Saw you on Book TV and your comment about the prevailing American value being 'more' in an individualized society interested me. On TV I recently heard a conservative say re health care, "Liberals want the government to do everything for them" to which I wanted to reply, "no, they (we?) want to belong to a community that cares about, and takes care of, each other...and clearly, government is not very efficient at that (viz. Katrina)"
As a member of a Native American tribal society, where taking care of each other still has some operative meaning, your comments helped substantiate and clarify years of observation re group v.s. individualized social awareness.
The immigration to this continent often involved leaving behind cohesive village (i.e. group) roots, and coming to live among strangers... So you are right in observing that the U.S. has few communal roots, except perhaps in places like Wisconsin, Minnesota or Appalachia where entire communities settled together...
Thank you for your work.

12:09 PM  
Anonymous Silvana said...

Thank you Prof. Berman for the important discourse this book provokes.

I have not read your book yet, but late last night I watched the lecture/reading of Dark Ages on C-Span. I was both moved and gratified someone has taken the challenge of exposing our "house of cards" in such an elegant way.

You have documented what I - and clearly others - have known on an intuitive level for a long time. Yours is not an easy position, but the courage and candor of this book are a gift to those who choose consciousness over complacency. I look forward to reading your work in the future.

3:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for your book; it describes perfectly the American society that I see everyday. In answer to the man in your book talk who asked you why the traits we have exhibited from our beginnings are getting us in trouble today, one answer is that transportation has improved so that enemies can reach us more easily and we have obliged them by inventing and distributing weapons around the world for their use.

6:56 PM  
Anonymous ACT I said...

I first learned of the book via the C-span presentation that I watched a few days ago. Having read your Reenchantment and Senses books, I know that this book will be a good read, and have more depth than any comparable book. Which is why you must expect reviews like that written by Kakutani. Sad, but true--and I know that you are not afraid of the truth. (By the way, I just sent some comments on Eugene Linden's Winds of Change to Amazon, under the name ACT I. You may find these of interest.)

12:30 PM  
Blogger ATLien30310 said...

Professor Berman, quite frankly i first heard of you this weekend when i was channel surfing and came upon you in the middle of your talk on Book TV (CSpan2).

What i heard immediately riveted me because it so resonated with what i more and more have been feeling. I am so tired of ignorant U.S. American exceptionalism. And the especially important thing is that you were giving logical and well-reasoned empirical arguments for your (and my) views.

In the question period that followed one man kept badgering you because you only stated the problem without providing a solution. That is such a cop-out false argument. If a toilet overflows i know enough to warn others about it and contact a plumber. But i am only pointing out the problem, a necessary first step -- it is up to the plumber, with his/her expertise, to provide the solution.

I knew i wanted to read this book and went to Amazon ASAP. I have ordered the book and eagerly await it.

What interested me at Amazon were the reader comments to your book. Invariably it seemed to me that the negative comments did nothing more than prove your point about the USA mindset today.

Altho i read the NY Times almost every day i missed the Kakutani review but it sounds like its of the same ilk as the negative Amazon reviews. Speaking of the NY Times, i concur with you on its decline. The only reason i read it is because compared to other newspapers it does cover the rest of the world (however flawed) more than the typical US rag. But thank God for the Internet where i can news from sources such as you have mentioned.

There are so many other things i could say, particularly on the various ways those of us who live within the confines of the political entity called the US might deal with this situation. However i don't want to make this post longer than it already is.

Thank you, Professor Berman, for being a refreshing voice of logic and reason.

7:57 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

I want to thank all of you who took the trouble to write for your kind comments and support. The real challenge in this country is creating an alternative dialogue to that of the mainstream. In terms of national discussion, it's hard going. I've done lots of lectures and radio shows, but all of it has been local--at least thus far. Reviews in the NYT and Philly Inquirer, an interview in the Boston Globe, and the c-span2 show of July 22 (BookTV), are really the only national visibility DAA was able to achieve. And I may be wrong abt this, but discussions on the Net strike me as something akin to a large "murmur" going on beneath the public surface--brilliant tho this murmur often is. The kind of alternative vision I briefly refer to at the end of DAA gets no above-the-waterline attention, it seems to me, and mainstream thinking in this country (represented by the press especially) is very good at keeping it out of the public view.

That being said, and shifting back to my "new monastic option" discussion of the Twilight book for a moment, one thing I do suggest, when people write or come up to me after a talk and ask what I recommend they do, is form a reading group. I tell them to feel free to go to the library, get DAA off the shelves and take it over to the xerox machine, copy the 40 pp. of endnotes, and use that as a basis for a reading/discussion list for themselves and their friends. Of course, I don't think this will prevent our continuing decline, but better to die with your eyes open and boots on than otherwise, is the idea here. And perhaps such discussion groups can eventually weave themselves into some sort of genuine political alternative, who's to say? Or perhaps, to a place of neomonastic cultural preservation, to be resurrected in a less dark time. Just a thought, in any case.

Again, thank you all for your support and encouragement.

6:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Morris, you are very wise to ask for support and validation. It is difficult psychologically, even for an intellect such as yours, to be way out front and taking direct hits. I do hope you keep on observing and thinking and writing.

"Dark Ages" is so apt, it goes straight to the deeper parts of the brain, it validates and gives name to the pervasive anxiety abroad in the land. It allows one to begin thinking past the decline of the American empire.

It just might not be that bad!

11:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Professor Berman, I have just now listened to a re-broadcast of one of your appearances promoting DAA on C-Span's Booknotes program. (Many thanks to C-Span for this service. They were also thoughtful enough to provide your blog address here.) I plan to buy the book immediately - as well as 'Twilight' - as soon as the stores open this morning. Let me say right off that I am a Christian and a Republican. Although I haven't yet read the work, I was impressed by your level-headed responses to some of the more negative comments by the audience after your presentation. Most, of course, were favorable, or expressed a desire to learn and read more - as well they should be. I have been since university a devout student of Roman and Medieval history, and very much look forward to reading both works.

Thank you,

5:52 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dear Sylvan,

Well, more Christians and Republicans of your kind can only be a good thing, imo, and thank you for the positive feedback. Years ago, George Orwell commented that the real problem in politics was not the Right or the Left, but "the gramophone mind." To me it's deeply disturbing that the description of the Soviet Union he provided in "Animal Farm" applies pretty much to the USA today--a government of men rather than laws, and the mechanical recitation of formulas in lieu of real understanding and mature policies. (Rush Limbaugh show callers, who proclaim themselves proud to be "ditto-heads," comes to mind here.) We don't have much in the way of genuine dialogue in this country, as I'm guessing you'll agree. Thanks, in any case, for being so open-minded.

With kind regards,

10:07 AM  
Anonymous Sejanus said...

Professor Berman,
I confess to ignorance about you and your books but I saw you on C-Span and was impressed by your analysis. You made an excellent point about the ignorance of the general public and I think the man that left inadvertently made a parallel point that even the educated and involved public has substituted critical thinking with left wing and right wing dogma.

Your unanswered question of "show me the levers" made me think about the death of the first American Empire after the Civil War. The founders set up a Republic that collapsed under its own contradictions; slavery and states rights. It was certainly an empire, it stretched from sea to shining sea, and it was ruled by an elite for the benefit of the same.

It foundered on the twin horns of abolition and secession and came down to a war over whether states could withdraw from the empire and whether the majority could impose a moral judgment about slavery on the minority.

The Civil War emphatically settled the question and changed the nation. We in the North don’t recognize the change because Lincoln and the governments that followed used the same forms of governance to administer the new empire, a bigger, more centralized version of the old but without the states rights or the ideal of meritocracy epitomized in the electoral college and the indirect election of senators. Southerners know very well their way of life was turned over despite their continued resistance over the next hundred years. I don’t believe that without the destruction of the old order the current one could exists.

My answer to your question about the levers of power is that the abolitionist grabbed them by means of moral persuasion; they had right on their side. The secessionists were fighting for the Republican Ideal albeit in the name of the most immoral institution imaginable. I realize no one was thinking about empire at the time, but the unexpected consequence was an altered political reality neither would have approved of had they survived the military ineptness of the time.

I suppose the next time a young man asks you for a way to hobble the juggernaut, tell him to study William Lloyd Garrison, Fredrick Douglas and John Brown. John C. Calhoun’s farewell to the senate would be a fine example of sophistry in the service of a bad cause. Like you I feel the empire is headed for a bad end but we can still contend for the soul of the nation.

7:07 AM  
Anonymous Kevin Jones said...

Professor Berman,

I've read a number of your books, and now have just finished Dark Ages America, which I've characterized as a "punch in the stomach," if only because it confirms so much of what I've observed going on around me for the last thirty years. Seems I'm not just a crank, but there's actual verity behind that sinking feeling that increasingly plagues my guts, and my tendency to snarl at every new bit of insanity visited upon us.

In reference to your section on garden cities, it was surprising to me that there was no reference in your book to the writings of Christopher Alexander. I've been working my way through his four volume set, *The Nature of Order.* Alexander's theories about what I'd call "organically growing" architecture and communities suggest a possible alternative to the sort of planned community that culminates in something more resembling a gentrified theme park.

In any case, I greatly appreciate Dark Ages America, and all your other work as well. The former is a hard pill to swallow, but I believe you've named the truth, the conscious acknowledgment of which provides the only chance we have to pull out of this mess we're in. My hopes aren't high that it will happen, and they fall further at the news of the Kakutani review, but thanks for a heroic attempt.

Best wishes,

Kevin Jones

12:45 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dear Kevin,

Thanks for your thoughtful comments, and the ref to Chris Alexander. Ch. 7 of DAA (on urban design) was originally something like twice as long, and had a large section on the history of architecture, with some discussion of Alexander's work and philosophy (as compared, say, to Le Corbusier). However, my editor at Norton vetoed it, and I think rightly; he said it made ch. 7 stand out as the one section that was very academic/esoteric, and hence discontinuous with the more popular narrative of the rest of the book. "Publish this part in an architectural journal," was his comment...which I have yet to do. Which is only to say that one book cannot do all things, and one sometimes does have to prune away gorgeous parts in favor of the total ecology of the work, so to speak. Glad you brought the subject up, in any case.

As always,

5:21 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

With regard to the whole Building 7 and conspiracy theory regarding 9/11: I have tried to steer clear of this topic here for a number of reasons. 1st, there are other websites that deal with this issue in great detail, so we don't need to be debating it on mine, I don't think. 2nd, altho--if true--the notion that the gov't itself pulled a Reichstag fire, so to speak would make our current political reality much darker than I portray it in DAA, it seems to me that conspiracy theories are overkill, and violate the law of parsimony (Occam's razor). Thus plenty of scientists have come up with reasonable explanations for Bldg 7 that don't need to invoke deliberate internal sabotage. In any case, altho conspiracy is certainly not impossible, things are dark enuf just from the structural properties of the evolution of the US, as described in DAA. Finally, we seem to lack a "smoking gun," an email or paper trail that establishes causality here, not just an elaborate collection of circumstantial evidence. For accusations this huge, we can't just "connect the dots" based on what may seem obvious. The one thing we can say with certainty, of course, is that 9/11 was a great "gift" to the military and in particular the neocons who were seeking, by their own admission ("Rebuilding America's Defenses") to find an excuse for geopolitical control of the Middle East.

In short, I don't believe the conspiracy theory myself, but I certainly could be wrong. However, as noted, this is being debated elsewhere quite extensively, so I'd prefer to give it a rest on this website.

5:38 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Oops! Sorry, gang; this post re: 9/11 conspiracy theory landed in the wrong place; I meant it as a reply to the letter on the subject that got posted after the Gresham Riley review of DAA, below.--mb

5:45 PM  
Anonymous Mark Pandapas said...

Dr. Berman,

Thank you for your brilliant,articulate,and sadly, accurate account of the ongoing demise of the American empire. It illuminates and brings into focus many things I,ve noticed and suspected for years. I have been a skeptic of government since, at age 10, I watched on live TV Jack Ruby push his way past all those police in their own garage, and execute Lee Harvey Oswald. Even then, I thought " the fix is in and we'll never really know what happened." Then the Warren Commission told us we had to suspend disbelief and buy the majic bullet theory, and that Oswald was able to change the parade route at the last minute to bring JFK's motorcaid in front of the book depository.

Now, the most definitely biased and partisan 9/11 Commission tells us to ignore all the actual evidence and, granted, some circumstantial evidence, and believe a cartoonish and obviously self serving yarn that does not pass the laugh test, just because a handful of self proclaimed experts and administration toadies say so. But I digress.

The only thing I have a problem with is your discussion of 9/11. Everything you say is true concerning the idea of blow back, the chickens comming home to roost, etc. In a larger sense it is all accurate, I believe, and no matter what happened on 9/11, your thesis stands on it's own. However, your repetition of the official conspiracy theory while characterizing those with alternate views as "conspiracy theorists" only serves the interests of the perpertrators of the official story. We are all conspiracy theorists, it's just a matter of which theory one subscribes to. I support a theory which accounts for most of what is actually known about the events of 9/11 and the laws of physics. The official story, for example, neither accounts for the fact that at least 5 of the alleged hijackers are still alive and have been interviewed by the BBC, nor how 4 pilots of, reportedly, at best, marginal flying ability could shut down the most expensive and sophisticated air defenses in the world. So,if that part of the story is false, then what else is?

Fact: kerosine does not burn hot enough to melt steel and certainly, if it did, the buildings could not have fallen at near free fall speed. They are prevented from doing that by the Law of Conservation of Momentum.

Imagine, to be able to bring down a 100 floor sky scraper in a perfect controlled demolition fashion by simply flying a fuel laden projectile into it would revolutionize the field of demolitions. To spend weeks studying blueprints, setting and wiring the charges, etc., would no longer be necessary.

Coincidences? Most cops would tell you they don't believe in them. Circumstantial evidence? Partially, but when taken with what is known, it paints a pretty compelling picture. People go to prison on nothing but circumstantial evidence all the time. Means, motive and opportunity.

Because of all the unanswered questions and the transparent attempt at coverup, at the very least, a full, independant, international investigation with subpoena power is needed if we are ever going to save our progeny from endless global war and bananna republic conditions at home.

1:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I enjoyed your presentation on CSPAN2's BookTV also. That was my introduction to your work (haven't read it yet, but will soon). My introduction to the writing of Chalmers Johnson was on QandA. (You can watch the interview online.) I read his book "The Sorrows of Empire" and have just started "Blowback." As with one of your previous posters, I'm a Christian and (former) Republican. It seems we are more irritated by the leaders in our own parties today than by thosenon the other camp, aren't we? Your comments regarding the dumbing down of America were especially appreciated. The stat I've heard is that we lost a grade level a decade in the 20th century. Robert Byrd gave a wild speech about an algebra textbook on the senate floor a few years ago that was hilarious and heartrending at the same time. Thanks again for your work.

3:14 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dear Friends:

I took the liberty of posting one more message regarding 9/11 conspiracy theories, but as I wrote elsewhere, I don't really wish to be entertaining the subject here, in this context, esp. since there are (apparently) a number of websites already hotly debating it. It could, for all I know, be true; but I suspect that in the absence of a "smoking gun," we'll never know for sure.

On another topic: I did post my email address somewhere on this blog, but let me do it again, as a number of you have written to ask me for it: mauricio@morrisberman.com. I look forward to hearing from you.

As always,

10:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Berman, the sweet revenge after an unkind cut, is to out live your critics even after a bad book review is long forgotten. There is no such thing as a bad book review if your book is in demand.

I got a copy of your book this week at Amazon. I do enjoy your radio/TV talk as found on the Internet because they are great introductions to your work both on the page and in progress.

I hope you can make it back to San Francisco for a lecture or an interview with the Commonwealth Club.

3:19 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dear Anonymous:

Thank you for writing, and for your appreciation of my work. I wish I could agree with you on negative reviews, but it's not that simple. Most American middle-class readers believe that whatever the New York Times prints, is true. Despite the Times' role as the purveyor of American mythology (just check out the major European newspapers, by way of comparison), it wields enormous influence in this country, and can easily wipe a book it doesn't like off the slate, so to speak. This is what happened with DAA: in a nation of 300 million, the book sold about 25,000; it's hardly flying off the shelves. The NYT thus accomplished its purpose, of seeing to it that virtually no one wd take the argument (or the data provided) seriously; and it wouldn't even let me defend myself against being smeared. Americans are thus "protected" from any type of soul-searching, any type of structural analysis of how things went wrong, and therefore from demanding from the government that things be fundamentally different. Quite simply, the Times made sure that the book would have no visibility in our culture; and that's where the situation stands today.

So...wd love to talk to the Commonwealth Club, but they ain't exactly beating a path to my door.

Appreciate your encouragement, nonetheless-


11:10 AM  
Blogger Wotan said...

Professor Berman asks, "Show me the levers of power" that the left can use to change the system. I ask do we have any hope at all for change. It seems its gone too far down the road of imperialism for the system to change itself. It's a very silly person who expects the most powerful to police themselves honestly. The system censors itself and only lets in people like Dan Rather who blindly follow orders by wrapping a tear-stained flag around their heads.

The democrats in congress claim to have grabbed the levers of power in answer to the cries of the masses for a better way, yet I ask all you Democrats, show us these weapons of mass leverage! (silence)

4:55 PM  
Blogger Kathie Bishop said...

Professor Berman: As a student of Gregory Bateson, among others, I agree with your assessment of American culture. Although I appreciate Chomsky and Hedges, and others who believe in the character of Americans, I believe your assessment is more accurate. I am planning to write a book on the commons and that a way forward will come from revitalizing the commons and establishing self-sufficiency skills separate from the market culture. Would appreciate an email correspondence to get your thoughts on my outline.

2:38 PM  

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