December 08, 2010

Death Throes

Collapse is now a given; the pundits are busy working out the details. Check this out for chickens-coming-home-to-roost dept.:


Blogger ryan kloostra said...

Dr. Berman,

Thanks for the heads up. I read the article by McCoy earlier today and it reinforced to me just how perilous our situation is.

This weekend I was reminded, again, just how far our culture has fallen already. My wife and I were in church Sunday night and a middle-aged gentleman in front of us took out his iPad once the sermon began. I was distracted, to say the least, obsessed might be a better word. I watched him open up a document and proceed to edit it throughout the sermon. Cutting, pasting, typing information. Classy. Anyway, after the service had ended I went up to him and said "Excuse me, sir, I just wanted to let you know that your use of technology was very disruptive to me." He responded by saying "I was taking notes" (an obvious lie). I simply walked away, knowing that any further engagement would cause a scene, something that wouldn't have been appropriate.

Afterwards I spoke to some friends and family about the situation and I was blown away that many were quite ok with the man's actions. "He probably just had some work to do," was a common response. Work? In church? Or, "you don't really have the right to tell him what he can or can't do."

This is what we've become. As you speak of in your books, absolutely NO difference of treatment between the public and private space.

I think the only thing that kept this guy from really flipping out on me was the fact that we were in a church. Maybe he did have a touch of decency in him...


Palin/Kate+8 in 2012!

2:25 PM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...


It does seem as if the first cracks have appeared, and a trickle of reality is starting to come through. Wonder how long it'll be until some major politician or pundit starts talking about it? It'll have to be someone who doesn't mind being attacked & smeared & dismissed as a raving loon, of course!

I do think more people are starting to get an inkling that the American game is over, even if they don't want to openly admit it, even to themselves.

Once the level of denial becomes much louder, then we'll know for sure that it's sinking in. Just as in the 1980s, when everyone started proclaiming "We're Number One! USA! USA!" -- that's when I knew the public didn't really believe that any more.

3:49 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Next time, u might consider peeing on his shoes. I've seen clowns on cell fones in St. Patrick's Cathedral. Meanwhile, there was a case a couple of yrs ago, somewhere in the Midwest, of a pastor getting a cell fone call in the middle of a sermon, and talking on the fone for a full 5 minutes (while at the pulpit) while his congregation waited for him to finish the call.

Amigo, we're a nation of douche bags.


5:15 PM  
Anonymous gregg said...

May I become #43 in this select group? This is my favorite blog and I am always happy to see a new topic. Intelligent contributors without some pinched ass farting due to some shriveled whatever. (Many of Salon's comments have been very enlightening, but there are some weird dicks who apparently live by their computers)And Morris-love the dada.
That being said, todays topic has been heavy on my mind these days...I'm 56 (! ?)I've been observing and analyzing for 30 years and while I'm not that surprised at what's happening it is just becoming totally surreal...and scary as hell.

Since this is my first post I have to say that I find this method of communication is totally frustrating to me-conversation allows for clarification. But it's the best I have-the people I'm around may be decent(as long as circumstances allow) but they are just absolutely unaware and uncurious.... period.

So a short very incomplete version of my view, since I can't stand long posts either, is that I'm just amazed at how quick the shit has hit the wall..there is no more "what if?"'s here. And I guess it's the mindfuck of the incredible awareness of the nature of this existence, right there in front of your face, in the technology, the ever deeper understanding of the previously hidden processes but crude, beyond insane, selfishness, fear and violence runs the show.

Oh, this situation cannot be sustained, but how it's going to come down is not clear. I have to do some research on the fall of the Soviet empire. It appeared to happen overnight and was totally unexpected, but I need to find out if that was the case. It will tell me something.

To conclude, Morris, I have really enjoyed the books of yours that I've read and I plan to read more...AND...get a copy of your latest collection. You'll soon be a thousandaire and can scoff at us losers. But I ain't givin' up my beloved Sarah P. without a fight dude. gregg

8:35 PM  
Blogger Nicholas Colloff said...

My only problem with the McCoy article is the presumption that America's collapse is China's advance, as if decline 'here' requires an equal and opposite advance 'there'.

Given our gathering resource constrained world, and China's own instabilities (inequality, demographic imbalance, corroding values, labour unrest), we might, sadly, entertain, 'Dark Ages...period'!

Where America leads, like lemmings, we all follow, onward to the nearest cliff!

11:46 PM  
Blogger Ashes77 said...

I enjoy this blog a lot and I'm not exactly a cheerleader for america's ruling class, but the region from Buffalo to Detroit and down into Kentucky has suffered the fate of ByeloRussia and Ukraine for the last 30 years - a stagnant dead zone, with a third-world, informal, economy, - think flea markets selling Chinese made white tube socks stuffed into failed shopping centers. The collapse of the USA is not going to look any more spectacular than that.

More troubling is the conflation of USA with "the West." Though the West's troubles today seem to all start with the USA's confused reliance on MBAs and other fraudsters, the West doesn't seem to me to be all as dumbed down as the USA's bloated under- and over-classes. Even starved education systems teem with paradox and hope, and leaderlessness doesn't seem quite so troubling to the people I meet outside of the USA.

11:18 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Welcome to the blog. Sarah's mine, don' ferget it. USSR's collapse was 73 yrs in the making, economically speaking: too heavy on distribution, not enuf on accumulation. We are the opposite, of course.


1:57 PM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...


Again, I'm shaking my head, but I'm not terribly surprised. I see this sort of behavior everywhere these days, in all sorts of group activities -- meetings, assemblies, classrooms, etc. The people may be there in body, but certainly not in mind. If anything, actual physical people seem less real to them than digitally-contacted ones.

I'm especially struck by that one justification: "He probably just had some work to do." Everyone's supposed to be doing work, busy all the time. You've got to be PRODUCTIVE, dammit! It's how you get ahead & succeed, right?

The other side of that coin, of course, is that being constantly busy prevents one from stopping to think & reflect. Which is precisely what the powers that be don't want any of its interchangeable, disposable, replaceable cogs to be doing.

1:59 PM  
Blogger Nebris said...

"Bank lending in China today is higher then in the United States and its a smaller economy. We also have a credit bubble in China and their dilemma is if they would do the right thing, the economy would go into recession. So, they will postpone it like every other government will do and eventually you have a bursting of the bubble.

Now, will it happen in 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, 3 years? But that is the biggest threat to the global economy." ~Marc Faber

While the US is certainly going rapidly into the crappier even as I type this, we're probably not looking at a civil war with nukes, which I strongly suspect is on the menu for the People's Republic.

9:11 PM  
Blogger Neb said...

The Wikileaks matter and other situations magnifies Mccoys article. Though Julian Assange is a logical foci of attention, what of the sources of the leaks? There's little attention on that aspect in the media. I think no one was arrested from the Washington Post when Watergate occured. I also wonder what the gov't is doing now regarding employees. I'd bet there's a witch hunt on inside State dept and DoD, culling out the traitors and nonbelievers.

Other magnifying events:
2 People (seperate incidents) who were interested in being terrorists say they were given fake bombs and targets by the FBI then arrested by the FBI.

More soldiers in Afghanistan are being blown up by the people that they train.

Obama capitulates to repub demands without a fight and he tells his supporters to shutup and take it.

So after seeing all this and reading McCoy on top of it; 2025? Even that Mayan 2012 end of everything seemed a stretch.

But I'd like to make a prediction story to add to Mccoys. Tom Delay, recently imprisoned right wing criminal, is released 5 years hence (or sooner), and becomes the leader of the new ultra-right wing movement and takes the reigns of US leadership. Pres Palin under threat from this new movement escapes in exile to Mexico. Last seen near Acapulco at a literary commune (in hopes of not being found in a least likely place) run by a critic of the US named Morris Berman.

10:08 PM  
Anonymous Joe doesn't know said...

Dr. Berman, I think McCoy's prediction of 2025 being the "end of the American Century" is a bit optimistic. I believe our decline started long before 2003 and is due to our inherent 400 year-old societal and individual features. We have certainly had bad economic habits for many years now and I don't see how we can go another 13 or 14 years without facing a significant age of austerity.

Ashes - I agree about the great lakes region, as it was built and thrived when Americans actually produced. I currently reside in this region, and it is already appearing like the "collapsed state" (and has been for quite some time). I live in the suburbs,and going to the city is horrible and depressing. The city is in shambles, and it is not alone. Of course the suburbs offer no culture, no useful public square to be around others, and little if any diversity. If all goes as planned, I will extricate myself from this region and nation shortly. It's quite horrifying to drive through a city and see miles and miles of decay, both urban and cultural. How far are we from every American city looking the same way? I attended school in the city and would drive in, pull into the parking deck, and never ever walk around the city, not even going outside. Once I decided to park in an outside lot and walk accross the street to have lunch before class, and my vehicle was stolen. An anectdote, I know, and perhaps not the norm, but it's pitiful to have absolutely no use for the urban center which is the core of the region I live in.

10:49 PM  
Anonymous Susan W. said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

In the NYT this morning is an article by William Cohan A Bankrupt Bargain on Taxes and it spells out doom very clearly. It's as if the "leaders" in government and business are determined to grab as much as possible and jump ship. What else makes sense of their incompetence and poor judgment? Why else would you bankrupt your country and impoverish millions of people? We act like the laws of economics don't apply to us. The naked greed and cynical self interest is finally on display in a way that can't be successfully sold to a credulous public. Tax cuts for millionaires, $900 billion added to the deficit (and the so-called deficit hawks silent about this addition)and the refusal of Obama and Congress to acknowledge the public's rage (3 out of 4 people are against this)makes this charade obvious. Notice how the media has completely dropped the Tea Party since they no longer serve their purposes? Maybe now they'll realize how duped and used they have been.

9:26 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Well, by the time my book appears on how we took a wrong turn 400 yrs ago, and finally drove ourselves into the ditch (publication expected in August), we might actually be in the ditch! Or perhaps deeper into it. What a joke Obama is, eh? Prior to the election I said that it was just about who was going to be the funeral director of the US, which was now a corpse. So we got a chic, empty, ineffectual funeral director; a logo, a nonentity. Whoopee for us. Meanwhile, Sarah and I will frolic on my commune near Acapulco.

12:15 PM  
Anonymous Kelvin said...

I found this interview with Agehananda Bharati that makes a thoughtful point:

U: Are you optimistic about the world?
B[harati]: I’m optimistic about the possibility of individuals being able to - as the British said - muddle through.
U: Well, more than to muddle through...what about attaining moksha?
B: That’s a private affair. I’m talking about socially muddling through and sort of making the best of it without stepping on too many people’s toes.
U: It seems that most people don’t muddle through very well.
B: That’s possible.
U: In India they don’t always muddle through too well.
B: Only two nations have survived, the Indians and the Chinese. They’re the only nations that have muddled well. They have survived after a very, long time. Where are the Romans, the Gauls, the Teutons? The Chinese and the Indians are still there, uninterrupted, muddling.

Senest opdateret ( Tirsdag, 27 November 2007 09:11 )

2:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Morris-I didn't think the SU collapsed out of nowhere. I'm curious about the straw that broke the camel's back. I can think of a myriad of straws that could break this usa's camel's back,but I have no idea of how they might play out...nor does anyone else. Bang or whimper?

But the various nations that rose from the rubble of the SU wasted no time in turning into the SOS..."here comes the new boss, same as the old boss". I figure some version of the same here.

My best guess is a disruption, or worse, of some taken for granted commodity. ( I just have to mention that it appears that most forget that on the day of 9-11-when "America united"-by noon in the Dayton, O. area, where I live, the "USA! USA!" gas station owners had jacked their gas prices up by 200% or more..oh yeah usa)

I live in a "culture" that acts as if how it is now is as it as always been and how it always must be. What goes down when that sleepwalking hallucination dissolves?

TO can have Sarah, I'll take Bristol-love those thighs-and NO I don't watch "Horseshit with the idol stars"
just seen some pitchers...gregg

4:55 PM  
Anonymous Art said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

MSNBC headline: "At Obama's side, Clinton backs tax deal (Former president says he would have done what Obama has done)"

Well of course; the rich got richer and the poor got poorer during Bill's administration, so why stop now? In fact, after Obama left to attend holiday parties, Clinton told reporters: "We've got to keep this thing going and accelerate its pace." I guess we can agree on that, at least; the sooner the shit hits the fan, the better.

6:43 PM  
Blogger Neb said...

MB: As I ride in this proverbial handbasket to hell, I'm just glad you're considering locations other than ice flows, post nuptials.

11:29 PM  
Anonymous teri schooley said...

Dr. Berman,
I also think 2025 is optimistic.
The tax cut brohaha shows how utterly Obama is willing to shred to pieces any hope of fiscal sustainability in the US. Just hitting the gas a little harder as the car barrels toward the wall. Although it *is* amusing to watch him have to call in his bigger brother, Clinton, for back-up against the bullies picking on him - the people formerly known as "his base".
Now I see that the House Judiciary Committee is going to hold a hearing on Dec. 16 to discuss the potential application of the US espionage laws relative to wikileaks. The meeting will address how espionage laws can be "updated and effectively implemented" in the digital age.
Ah, the old Espionage Law of 1917 trick! We will all be traitors under this law (didn't e e cummings spend some time in jail because of this law, back in the day?). Well, since the US is going for the whole enchilada here, I guess the best I can hope is that I have some interesting cell-mates to talk to.
You were so wise to hike out of town when you did.

6:59 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

I tell ya, the faster the turds fly, the deeper my love for Sarah. As the US sinks under the horizon, she and I will do some serious lovin' at the North Pole, watching it all go down.

ps: Obama is a nothing, a zero. Millard Fillmore was better than this.

10:29 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps2: Collection of Morons Dept.: According to recent issue of Harper's Mag, 40% of the country believes that Jesus Christ will return to earth by 2050, and 50% of American Protestants don't know who Martin Luther was.

11:11 PM  
Anonymous Judy said...

Anonymous asked what was the straw that broke the back of the Soviet Union. Wasn't it Afghanistan? They invaded in 1980, drained their resources there for 9 years, then collapsed. Looks like it's happening again - Ahghanistan sucks great powers dry.

11:24 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Concerning Millard Filmore in one area you are right. Although he essentially punted on the question of slavery ( he ended the slave trade in Washington, D.C. but not slavery. Sound Obamaesque?)after he left offfice he traveled to Europe where he was offered an honorary Doctor of Civil Law degree from Oxford University. He turned it down however saying that had neither the "literary or scientific attainment" to justify the degree. This of course is in contrast to Obama gladly accepting the Nobel Peace Prize knowing full well that he intended to commit war crimes such as launching drone attacks on civilian population centers. So Filmore for all his faults still had some measure of integrity unlike the current joke in the White House.

4:08 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dear Dan,

He had a sense of humor too, did ol' Millard. His home base was Buffalo NY, and he liked having the press and the politicos refer to the newspaper there as "Fillmore's Buffalo Organ." Meanwhile, I'm thinking of collecting sigs on a petition to the Nobel Academy to award the peace prize in 2012 to Sarah. Actually, any Nobel wd suit her well, imo: literature, chemistry, etc.


6:06 PM  
Blogger dharmaguerilla said...


It is shocking how quickly your wacko, lunatic fringe ideas are becoming mainstream, and (gasp!) respectable among the well-known pundits. No one is afraid anymore to admit that our inevitable demise is in progress.

I am embarrassed to admit that after several years of contemplating the situation abstractly, I am suddenly assessing the future of my own income stream (taking care of semi-rich people's yards)and wondering what I could do instead, and where I could go to do it.

I am considering whether to sit tight and accept my karma as it descends upon my current locale, or selfishly try to save my ass by finding the ideal place to live out my days watching at a safe distance from the front lines of Arageddon. Or is it, "Which is the most comfortable deck chair from which to observe the sinking of the ship I am on?"

It won't be too long before experts arise with the results of algorithms determining the best places in the USA to be when the empire collapses. Many of these will advocate finding ways to obtain visas to other countries, since they find no livable options in the United States of Yahoos.

I suppose I'm looking for someplace warm, where one can live in poverty as comfortably as indigenous tribes without the need for insulated homes, and with cheap local food and brew. But with internet access, of course.

But what country is going to embrace, old, spoiled Americans, wanting to suck on the teat of a nation their government used to harass?

One day I'll be sitting in a hammock, reading your latest book, "I Told You So."

7:54 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Save your ass. After all, you've only got 1 ass 2 save. However, it's not clear where one can really be safe. Most of my $, the little I have, is in USD; which is sure to take a major hit w/in the next few yrs. The cost of fuel will skyrocket, making it hard for me to visit friends or do some of my work. How long before it costs $3,000 to fly between Mexico City and NY, eg? Or before Soc Security tells me they can't pay my pension any more; or before the T-bills I have are worth 50% of what they are today? It's better to be out of the States, just for the sanity, of course; but the bottom line is that we're probably all screwed, and royally.

As for my becoming famous without anyone knowing it (which is how a friend of mine, yrs ago, described me in the acknowledgments to his book), it's kinda ironic, I suppose. These guys never mention me, of course; and probably never even heard of my work. But it's everywhere now: major univ. professors proclaim The End, and are working out the details of the collapse. Occasionally, I watch them on TV, spouting my stuff (only very occasionally, as I don't own a TV). The NYT rev of the Twilight book said the conclusion was in the realm of fantasy; and the one of DAA (what wd the world do w/o Michiko Kakukaka?) vilified it in no uncertain terms. After which, it got almost no other revs and passed into oblivion. Well, the same thing will happen with the
third in the series, I have no doubt, and then maybe 10 yrs later the pundits will all catch up. I suppose I shd title that bk "I Told You So, You Dumb Fucks, But Would You Listen? Oh No, Not You."

That being said, the real sadness here is not that nobody's stroking my ego, but that the country is committing suicide so stupidly, so willfully--eagerly, really and a lot faster than I imagined. Who will learn the lesson that organizing an entire nation, our entire lives, around becoming rich is the dumbest move imaginable? Not China, clearly enuf. Maybe parts of Europe and Latin America, where some feelings for traditional culture, some preserve of sanity, still exists. How strange it all turned out, eh?


ps: If you never saw the Demi Moore film, "The Joneses," now might be a gd time.

11:17 PM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

Here's another small but telling anecdotal indicator from today's paper:

DEAR ABBY: Five years ago, when my niece was 9, we came up with the idea of making Christmas cards and sending them out to special friends and family members. We both work hard to make sure each is attractive and in good taste, and we handwrite a personal note inside. We also print on the back that the card was "handmade with love." This has become a tradition for the two of us, and the cards are quite beautiful.

Last year, after we sent them out, I received a card from a friend with a small check inside. The card read, "I'm sending you this check so you can afford to buy 'real cards' next year." I was, to say the least, hurt and offended. I wondered if others felt similarly, so I asked around and was shocked to learn they, too, thought I was "cheap." Although it cost more money and time to create each card, no one appreciated them.

As my wife put it after reading the story: "It's the ultimate goal of a consumerist society: if it's not factory-made or store-bought, it's no good."

I retire next year, and intend to spend much of my time reading & making art. Time to start that vegetable garden, too!

8:39 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I'm telling u, the Clown Index (CI) increases every day. I tell my friends still living in the US that a post-it on the mirror saying "I'm Living Among Dolts" can dramatically improve your life. This is because it's true, and there's something comforting abt living in reality, even if that reality is pathetic.


8:44 AM  
Anonymous Susan W. said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

You must read an op-ed piece by EJ Dionne posted on Truthdig titled The Specter Haunting Obama. These are the people who, by and large, are rewarded with celebrity and wide readership while DDA is vilified. It's all there--the "we're #1" rallying cry, blaming somebody else for what we did to ourselves, and the magical thinking that if we'll just pump ourselves up with positive thoughts we'll continue to rule the world. No need to face reality, is there?

Would you ever consider writing a book on the new monastic concept you explored in TWA? This is the only "hope" I'm investing in and your idea (without the credit for being your idea) is becoming mainstream now. I know Chris Hedges believes in active engagement with the system, no matter how futile, and he's right to some extent. But preserving human qualities and pursuits is equally as important and people, especially young people, need to hear there's another way to live. I don't mean Ten Easy Steps to Becoming a NMI but more what this life actually looks like and the encouragement to live it. I hope you'll consider it.

9:16 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...


My wife & I have been giving that some thought ourselves -- trying to figure out how to live a simpler yet richer, more rewarding life in the years ahead. For us, part of it will include doing more creative work & sharing it with others. Those who are interested, anyway.

As we've discussed previously, the trick is to just live a meaningful life without turning it into a program or rigid framework.

I guess it's living the life we feel we ought to be living, that we want to be living, without thinking of it as an example for others ... while hoping that maybe it does provide at least one alternative for anyone who glances our way!

It's certainly worth further discussion.

10:17 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I read the Dionne column just this morning. Really depressing, and more evidence for my arg. that the so-called intelligent classes in the US are generally dumb as a stick. Credit to Bush Sr. for handling the Iraq War? For managing the post-USSR breakup? What a rewriting of history! The guy picked a phony war, massacred hundreds of thousands of people, and hadn't a clue regarding the "New World Order." And then of course Dionne's hackneyed idea that what we need is more American exceptionalism, with no understanding that this is precisely what did us in. His notion that "declinist" thought is some type of fad is also a joke. Andrew Hacker wrote "The End of the American Empire" in 1970; George Modelski wrote "Long Cycles in World Politics" in 1987 (identifying the beg. of the end for the US ca. 1971); there was also Paul Kennedy and on and on. In short, understanding that the US is finished is no fad, and has been quite continuous since Hacker--it's all the same decline, in a word. My own contribution in 2000 was to make the comparison with Rome and to identify the common factors that were doing us in; and also to relate the collapse to the citizenry itself, which had certainly never been done before, inasmuch as it so so out of taste (the worst sin imaginable). Finally, there is no way to wake up these people, the Dionnites and their ilk; they "think" for America, and America does not think.

Re: the New Monastic Option: yeah, friends have been urging me to do such a bk for a long time now. I think the essay book (some of it) deals with this indirectly, but the one I'm publishing next year is about the 400-year-history of the current mess, and is not about cultural preservation as such. However, I have slowly been thinking about the subject along the lines of John Ruskin, and did recently draft abt 50 pp. in that vein; so maybe I'll get around to it b4 2 long. Stay tuned...

Thanks for writing, as usual.


10:21 AM  
Blogger Nebris said...

The Dionne piece was truly pathetic and deluded. Truly...

RE: the Monastic Option, based upon historical president, I think it is relatively safe to say that such would require a 'metaphysical operating system' in order to function; probably need one to even be established. Therefore the catch then is which one?

10:54 AM  
Anonymous Art said...


I was busy designing Xmas cards for family and friends just before reading your post. I don't expect a different response than the one you've received, but I'm going ahead with my plans anyway. (My brother is going to buy himself a GPS for his Mercedes Benz, so I'm not gonna feel too guilty).

Along the same lines, check out this article: "The Case Against Buying Christmas Presents"

5:45 PM  
Anonymous Susan W. said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

Not to belabor a point but you (and everyone else) have to read David Brookes op-ed this morning. It's hilarious---WHERE does this man live? Here we are staring down the barrel of becoming a banana republic in ten years or less, new graduates work for $10/hr and move home with their parents to survive, foreclosures are rampant and on and on yet here comes DB with the ludicrous premise that the middle class (and their "values") are rock solid in America. He is truly the ultimate grocer--he even looks like one.

Tim and Mrs. Tim--

Your example probably influences more people than you even realize. I admire anyone who's trying to navigate this mess are remain human and so do others.

8:45 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Brookes got his spot at the NYT by writing a fluff book that flattered the middle class, and made things look good; and this is what the Times wants to hear. "All the News that Fits Our Views," is what their true motto really is. Meanwhile, I cdn't get a job as a janitor at the Times even if I endowed the place.

People like Brooks and Friedman are living in la-la land, which is where the NYT lives ideologically, as well. E.J. Dionne ditto. The traditional press has become a bad joke. To learn more how it operates, get the CD from entitled "Corruption from Russia to Wall St.," by Matt Taibbi. Matt works for Rolling Stone; other media outlets that tell the truth these days include huffpost, commondreams, alternet, dailykos and truthdig. This is where u hafta go for reality.

I find it hard to write all this; what happened to the US of my youth, that we are now going down the tubes and wallowing in bullshit to boot?


9:18 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

And today's indicator is a column by Stanley Fish in the NY Times, entitled "The Value of Higher Education Made Literal" -

Key lines:

At the end of the report, the authors congratulate themselves: “We have never lost sight of the value of learning to students, nor the significant contribution of higher education to the quality of life in a civilized society.” A first response to this declaration might be to describe it as either a lie or a joke. There is no recognition in the report at all of the value of learning; quality is a measure nowhere referenced; civilization, as far as one can see, will have to take care of itself .

But at second thought this paean of self-praise is merited once we remember that that the report’s relentless monetization of everything in sight has redefined its every word: value now means return on the dollar; quality of life now means the number of cars or houses you can buy; a civilized society is a society where the material goods a society offers can be enjoyed by more people.


DB is amazing! Every time you think he can't possibly become any more starry-eyed & dense than he already is ... there he goes! He's just a modern exemplar of Couéism: ""Every day, in every way, I'm [or America is] getting better and better."

10:19 AM  
Blogger dharmaguerilla said...

First Dionne, now the cubicle to the right of his at the Post, Kathleen Parker.

Her column first says going after Assange is misdirected and that Wikileaks has revealed valuable information for us.

But she thinks it is valuable because the cables expose that we really do care about human rights and really are the good guys. and, of course, that since we are so predominantly virtuous that we will rise to the occasion and save our country.

It must be the water-cooler in the Op-Ed department.

2:28 PM  
Anonymous Kelvin said...

A thought for the holidays:

" not really an end. It destroys the thing consumed and leaves us empty-handed: the consumer's goals are perpetually recurring illusions, which vanish at the very moment they loom into view, destroyed by the appetite that seeks them. The consumer society is therefore phantasmagoric, a place in which the ghosts of satisfactions are pursued by the ghosts of real desires (p. 32, *An intelligent person's guide to modern culture* (2000) by Roger Scruton)."

Scruton refers the reader to *Capital* (Marx), vol.1, ch.1, section 4, where Marx discusses "commodity fetishism."

4:08 PM  
Anonymous Joe doesn't know said...

dharma...I just read that ridiculous Kathleen Parker column. Reality has completely lost its relevance to 300 million people, so why should those charged with the task of reporting the "news" be any different? Anyone who brings reality to the table (our fine blog moderator, for example) is considered fringe and radical. I may be stating the obvious, but think about that for a minute...all these people are stating (Dr. B, truthdig, huffpost) is fucking REALITY (aka the obvious). It makes me dizzy to think that I live amongst 300 million people with schizoaffective disorder, complete with magical thinking, paranoid delusions, grandiosity, and all the other psychotic features. Jesus, you read the posts after articles or listen to discussions and people don't even argue about the facts, or even the logic. They can't even agree on what's real. Usually, they just insult each other. They cannot even see what the problems are. how can solutions ever be part of the discussion?

It really screws with my tranquility. I guess I should try to be philosophical about it, or just enjoy my front row seats to the greatest circus in history, because at this point there is NO turning back. There may not even be panic or remorse before the meltdown. Maybe that is the most disheartening thing. At any rate, I will 'save my ass' like dharma and Dr. B suggest as soon as i can. I have my destination picked out and even if I have to live in a goddamn hut, I will have way more than I have here.

10:05 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dear Joe,

This shd probably be a separate post, but let me state it here as baldly as I can.

Traditional cultures (which includes parts of Mexico, Latin America, and Asia) are ones that have lived from the heart. It was the heart connection that counted. Anglo-Saxon cultures had a very different agenda (for whatever reason): possessive individualism, as C.B. Macpherson put it. These cultures had very little heart connection; rather, it was about money, power, and ownership. Emotionally, people in these cultures suffered greatly, because the repression involved in this agenda is enormous; but, the payoff was empire--money and power. The US is the most fully developed expression of this, and can realistically be called a sociopathic culture, which (inevitably) manufactures sociopathic individuals (people who cannot feel). From the vantage pt of traditional cultures, gringos are daft; they run roughshod over everyone else and don't understand what is truly important in life. (One sees them doing this in Mexico literally on a daily basis, and since it is out of context, it takes your breath away--or at least, my breath.) But the center is empty in a sociopathic culture, or a sociopathic life; things finally fall apart. This is what we are witnessing today. This is what has finally happened to the US, and another word for it is karma.

Here's a vignette; it could be multiplied thousands of times in American history. John Negroponte, a career diplomat, was at one pt ambassador to Honduras, during which time he supported and carried out US-sponsored human rts violations (torture, death squads, etc.) (see
negroponte/eng.html). Turns out, he and I had the same chiropractor when I lived in Wash DC, and one day I was sitting in the waiting room and Negroponte emerged from one of the offices and walked out the front door. I recognized who he was too late, too late for me to chase him down the street, to yell after him, "How do you sleep at night? How do you look at yourself in the mirror, you war criminal?" As I said, the moment passed too quickly, and I later regretted that I wasn't able to castigate him for what he had done. But really, when u think abt it, what difference wd it have made? As I said, sociopaths don't feel. The truth is that Mr. N sleeps very well at night; he has no problem looking at himself in the mirror. What's genocide to him, compared to his "distinguished" career? And this, my friend, is what the US does, and in one form or another these are the people it produces. This process touches every walk of life. If u saw "The Social Network," you saw a person (Mark Zuckerberg) to whom friendship was nothing, and money and power everything. What do most Americans say, when they see that film? Do they say, "Gee, he sold out his friends to get ahead?" Or do they say, "Well, these friends were holding him back; Facebook, after all, was what was important"? And what *is* Facebook? 500 million "friends" who aren't friends at all, because virtual friends aren't friends. We have to be the loneliest, and the saddest, society on earth, and probably the most destructive.


12:58 AM  
Blogger Patrick D. Fitzgerald said...

This just in...

Mark Zuckerbeg: TIME's Person of the Year.

There really is no argument from me if you are talking about a singular personification of who, where & what civil society is at the moment.

9:02 AM  
Anonymous Joe doesn't know said...

Dr. Berman,

well stated....a sociopathic culture indeed. Mark Zuckerberg was named "person of the year" by Time magazine today. I wanted to puke, so I didn't read the article because I had corned beef for breakfast and wanted to keep it in, but the caption of the photo said "What started as a lark now connects half-a-billion of us and has changed how we interact".
I'm still trying to laugh about it so I don't cry.

The lack of feeling is so evident among my clientele that my supervisor utilizes "empathy training groups" for many of our clients. Are you frickin' kidding me? It's a farce, he sits them in a circle and has them try to imagine themselves being hurt and treated badly. They laugh at him. I applaud the goal, but it seems to be an excercise in futility. Empathy is just not a useful value in our culture. The result is the zombieland that we live in, obviously. Hope you have good weekend, Maestro.

PS - Negroponte would've thought YOU were the maniac had you chased him down yelling. Isn't that funny?

9:27 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...


Check out the comments to DB's inane, self-satisfied column, and you'll see that there are more people who think as we do. We're still very much a minority, but not as small as the mainstream would have us believe. We're not unlike those citizens of Rome who watched things crumbling around them, while striving to go on living as civilized human beings.

(By the way, note how swiftly DB closes all comments to his columns. I'm sure he wishes he had no commenting function to begin with, because it's always the same -- he writes something utterly detached from reality, and immediately gets called on it.)

9:48 AM  
Blogger Mike Cifone said...

Dear Maury,

As a follow up, I think we'd all like to read Zadie Smith's review of "Social Network" in the New Yk Rev of Bks, called "Generation Why?" (just do a search for her name & the title). She incorporates at the same time an overview of Jaron Lanier's "You Are Not A Gadget", and offers an important nuance about the film. MZ is emptier than you can imagine, Maury! Smith implies that, in a strange way, MZ blandly transcends money & power. MZ-berg might be too empty even for those things, at the end of the day; he is a product of the money & power, but, like a prodigal son, seems bored with his station in life as billionaire techie (!).

An empty society, finally, is the first to "pioneer" such adventures into Schizoidlandia as F-book provides, and first to open the Pandora's box of virtual reality (sorry Mr. Lanier), and the first to offer us the Droids that hollow out the core. Manifest Destiny to the max!

Sadder, in a Sad Land,
Mike Cifone.

10:02 AM  
Anonymous Kelvin said...

Dear Morris,

Your post of 12:58 am today is clear, powerful, and startling in its assessment. I was galvanized because it articulates a feeling that I've had since I moved to the states when I was eighteen. The first 18 years of my life were spent in Panama, the Canal Zone, and though I lived on army bases where colonialism was intense, I had the perspective of native Panamanians since my mother is Panamanian and we routinely visited relatives in Panama. It also turned out that my best friends in high school were Panamanian, not Americans. I never really puzzled about that but noted that life seemed more magical to me when I spent it with my friends roaming Panama City, lurking in moonlight among the ruins of Old Panama that Henry Morgan (an anglo) and his fellow pirates burnt and looted several hundred years ago.

12:51 PM  
Anonymous Susan W. said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

On Truthout is an article about Richard Holbrooke: "'Giant' Holbrooke Failed on Afganistan War" and the same point was made as you did about Negraponte. The non-giants (that would be all of us) are disposable stepping stones on their career ladder and very little time is spent agonizing over the real life consequences of their decisions; the lives destroyed, the nations destabilized or anything else. It was nice to see an article on the truth of his career right after his death rather than ten years later--a suitable period of mourning for such a great man. And there doesn't appear to be any shortage of these opportunists masquerading as diplomats.

So much of our lives in America are compartmentalized it does result in loneliness. The way our communities are set up isolate us and make social interaction stilted. There's not much spontaneity and people don't know how to break this cycle and with 24 hour/day TV, the internet, long commutes and loss of real public space the soul continues to be drained out of Americans. It takes effort to see friends and build a social network that is comprised of real flesh-and-blood people rather than "profiles." Both Huxley and Orwell recognized this process of dehumanizing people even though they saw the causes differently.

4:28 PM  
Anonymous Art said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

RE: Traditional Cultures

Several years ago, a friend told me that the trouble with this country is that we don't have any culture to call our own. Aside from jazz, what have we contributed to the world? Baseball, apple pie and Chevrolet?

I'm wondering what your definition of "traditional" is; indigenous, or something more spiritual? Rene Guenon and the "Traditionalists" have a more rigid definition than what you have in mind, I'm guessing.

4:32 PM  
Blogger Neb said...

MB: How funny you end your last entry (I read). Guess who's Time's Person of the Year? Mark Zuckerberg!

I was one of the few who'd a thought Mr. Assange was the man but in the end Time wouldn't have that; why put a real journalist out there only to embarrass their whole enterprise? ahem, front? Besides if the US gets him on a law we don't have yet, because he hasn't broken any, the population will say "what a relief!"

Speaking of real journalism, I looked upon der Spiegel per Susan's earlier entry and saw that big news today is fear Italy's demise given Berlusconi's re-election. I had no idea it was this bad for Italy.

Greece, on the other hand, I was more aware of. Want to see people who are pissed at their gov/bankers and found one to make an example of in public? Greeks realize the police can't protect all of them as seen here.

More can be seen on youtube.

8:00 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Thank you all for your comments. I probably made the situation more Manichaean than it is, and I didn't really wanna come across like "Avatar"; but as a rough draft of historical relations between traditional and modern societies, "Avatar" is not too much off the mark.

You hafta live in a place like Mexico to really feel what I'm describing. A few wks ago I was working out in the local gym, and some gringo tourist was there, presumably floating thru the country. There's a sort of subsection for some particular stretching exercises that he was using, with enuf space for another person. As I approached, he said in English, "I'm using this right now; shd be done in 5 mins." I resisted saying, "Sorry, pal, yer gonna hafta make some room," because in an American gym his response/behavior is the protocol; he was doing nothing wrong in that context. But Mexicans are gracious; all u hafta do is look in the direction of this workout space, and the person will say, "Do you want to use this?", and will alternate with you. This kind of courtesy, as opposed to 'marking off your territory', is the norm here.

Anyway, 15 mins later the bozo was still in that exercise space, and I thought: Fuck it, if he wants a fight he's gonna have it. I moved into the space and started doing the exercise (deltoid stretch), and he didn't say a word.

But my pt is that he didn't do anything wrong; rather, it's the mindset of his country that is entirely wrong, and this is symbolic of its imperious and imperial style. The US wants to be a "commanding presence"; traditional cultures say, "Do you want to share?" It makes a great difference for how one experiences daily life, I can tell u.


9:22 PM  
Anonymous Joe doesn't know said...

Tim, I read the comments after the DB article as you suggested and you are correct, I was pleasantly surprised at how many people realized the article represented an aloofness and detach from reality...sadly, such is our culture, and our media represents it.

Dr. B - re: your discussion of your experience in the gym, I couldn't agree more. When I look back at my time abroad, it seemed mystical to me, the graciousness of the culture. When I break it down as best as memory will allow, I realize that it was how people treated each other (and me, an obvious foreigner). The simple everday interactions and the way everyone flowed together took my breath away. The few gringos I saw were very obnoxious (one was shouting in a restaurant and another was arguing with a store clerk) and stuck out like a sore thumb, whereas here in the states, their behavior would've been perfectly normal.

9:41 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Let me do another vignette (I've got a million of them).

Yesterday I met with an American curandero (healer) in a town 2 hrs from here; there was some health stuff I wanted to deal with, assoc. with old age, and he has a gd rep for this stuff. However, he doesn't live in that town either, so he called another client of his, I'll call him Schmendrick, and asked if he cd use a rm in the latter's house (he's done this b4). Schmendrick said sure, come on over; which I thought was quite generous. On the way over, curandero told me that Schmendrick was quite wealthy from being a broker and hedge fund mgr. We get to the house, and I introduce myself to Schmendrick. He doesn't catch my name, asks it again, to get it rt. He repeats it, and as I shake his hand I say, And yer Schmendrick. Then I say, looking around, You have a lovely house... (we were stdg in the garden, which was breathtaking--he obviously has someone on permanent staff). Schmendrick immediately cut me off and started talking abt something else. Then he asked curandero about his schedule, said something abt "You can use our extra room for this guy" (I'm standing 20' away). Curandero said: His name is Maury.

Whew! What a piece of work. Description of Schmendrick: abt
5'10", prominent belly, white hair in pony tail, a bit balding. Air of self-importance quite obvious. Two observations:

1. A Mexican person wd never cut u off while u were praising his home; this is the height of rudeness. Even if s/he thought u were insincere (and I wasn't), they let u say yer piece and then say Gracias.

2. A Mexican person wd never refer to someone within earshot as "este tipo" (this guy); this wd be rude beyond belief.

By being a rude and imperious asshole, Schmendrick accumulated a lot of money in the US. The curandero later told me that Schmendrick wd actually like to change, but doesn't really know how to do it. He'll die an asshole, in short. But again, the impt thing is how typical this clown is of American culture. In the US, it's considered 'strong' or 'alpha' behavior; in Mexico, this person is grotesque--a buffoon.


11:00 PM  
Anonymous Paul said...

I think what irks me most of all as this decline progresses is when I have the opportunity to attend a cultural event of some kind like the symphony or an art exhibit and then note the attendence by some of the very people who are instrumental in defunding or eliminating these venues. I suppose there is a silver lining in maybe being able to get a job as a minimalist artist. Check out the recent article in the Guardian - the emperor definitely has no clothes ...or brains for that matter... 'Bare Christmas Tree w/Bullwhip' at the Tate...

"In a way, I strive to make my work look simple. If someone says, 'Your work's a bit easy,' then for me that's the perfect compliment. I want something to look like it was no effort because I lose interest if something looks like it was a lot of work."

Giorgio Sardotti

In light of this xmas spirit it would certainly be a gas to send out blank xmas cards this year. It would at least be a true expression of the 'holiday season'. Tax cuts for the wealthy, decline and massive debt for everyone else... sounds pretty empty to me.

1:00 AM  
Anonymous Art said...


You wrote, "the way our communities are set up isolate us". I recently watched the documentary, "The Unforeseen", about the environmental effects of suburban sprawl in Austin, Texas. I was impressed how the citizens of Austin rallied to protect Barton Springs from the developers. I recall that you mentioned that you live in the area. What will happen to the city, now that the Texas Tea Party is in power? Will the liberals stay and fight to save what's left, or look for a better place to call home?

1:20 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

It's really not that difficult to be more open & friendly, yet for many people, it seems an insurmountable task. Their attitude seems to be, "What's in it for me?"

At this time of the year I bake cookies & treats for our nearest neighbors, and even for a few of the local store owners whose shops we frequent on a regular basis. I've learned not to mention this to too many people, because I usually get a negative response -- not merely surprise & bewilderment, but sometimes anger & disgust. Some just say, "Trying to get some freebies, right?" But the overall negative response is that I'm doing something fundamentally wrong or warped, and definitely un-American!

The funny thing is, both my wife & I are dyed-in-the-wool introverts, hardly the hail-fellow-well-met type at all.


... I lose interest if something looks like it was a lot of work.

You know, this makes me think of all the screenwriting programs, musical software, digital art tools, etc. There's an easy, no-work-involved way to do anything these days, even something as intimate & personal as creative work. Or what passes for creative work, anyway. Why bother to learn craft & discipline if technology will do it for you?

Of course, it's obvious that the "art" produced will be homogenized & have all the depth of a puddle, Appropriate for the culture that produces it.

9:10 AM  
Anonymous Kelvin said...

Hi Art,

On the question of suburban sprawl and how one city (Portland, Ore.) managed it in an "un-American" way see Dr. Berman's comments in DAA on pp. 271-273 and footnote 58 on page 364.

I lived in Austin for 5 years and moved to a smaller nearby town when rent became too expensive for me in the city. I also went to school in Portland back in the late 70s. I sometimes see Austin and Portland as sister cities but I think Dr. Berman is right in seeing Portland, Ore. as the most successful realization of the Garden City concept of Olmsted. There's also blatant racial polarization in Austin that is not too apparent in Portland's mostly white populace.

11:26 AM  
Anonymous Kelvin said...

Here's a link to Amy Goodman of DemocracyNow interviewing Manfred Max-Neef, a Chilean economist:

[If the link doesn't work it is under Nov 26th Author Interviews.]
The second part of the broadcast continues an interview with Derrick Jensen.

Max-Neef told a story about how some Peace Corps workers approached an impoverished maker of ponchos with a tool that would make poncho manufacture more productive. When they checked back on the poncho maker they found that she hadn't increased the number of ponchos she made, still at two a week, but appreciated that she could make those two more quickly and had even more time to spend with family and friends.

Toward the end of the interview is Max-Neef's take on America. Nothing surprising here for those on this blog but still well worth a listen.

2:21 PM  
Anonymous Kelvin said...

It now seems plausible that the novels of Stephen King are hyperbolic, allegorical portrayals of social life in America. King is really a social critic!

In his book on the art of writing, King mentioned that the person who nearly ended his life by runnning into him with a van was distracted by the unruly pit bulls he was transporting when he hit King who was walking on a lonely stretch of road near home. King commented that the guy was a character straight out of his novels: your average psychotic fellow Amurrican, I should add.

4:02 PM  
Anonymous Susan W. said...

Dear Dr. Berman,


I don't think developers would ever be able to develop the area around Town Lake, Barton Springs or Zilker Park. Everyone uses these common areas, the trails have several hundred people every day who walk, run or bike (I walk there 3 to 4x/week)and there are multiple festivals that use the grounds. Several years ago I noticed a table set up and staffed by a couple of attractive kids with a sign "support improvements to Town Lake" but when I read the petition they wanted us to sign it was ambiguosly worded. I asked who was sponsoring this and it was a developer; they were gone in a couple of days. There'd be an armed uprising if they really tried to rezone it for development---people down here really get vocal and the local news hasn't been bullied into ignoring them.

But there's more than one way hurt a city. I've lived here 6 years and my taxes have increased 60% overall and there's no relief in sight. Just like in many other places -- Santa Fe, Key West, historic districts in major cities -- when home prices and taxes become prohibitive, then only the wealthy can afford to live there. It's a shame but I can see it starting to happen here too.

4:49 PM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...


I wonder how much longer before it'll simply be, "... only the rich can live." Period.

8:17 PM  
Anonymous Kelvin said...

For the last 10 years there's been an ongoing slogan in the city: "Keep Austin Weird." I suppose that the weirdness is vanishing--at a seemingly imperceptible pace--hence the slogan. I believe the weirdness originally referred to the old hippies who oppose development and celebrate creativity. Susan W. is right about the ongoing battle against development and the preservation of Austin's many parks and natural resources. It seems to be the subject in every issue of the Austin Chronicle. But, even so, much has been lost since I first moved there in 1988. As I mentioned, I can't afford to live in the city now but visit every weekend.

The polarization is geographical: East Austin (East of Interstate Highway 35) has been where Mexican- and African- Americans live but is now in the process of gentrification. In fact, Austin has become a chic boutique of a city catering to its large, visible population of young people (University of Texas at over 50,000 in enrollment), movie makers, and high-tech entrepreneurs. But sometimes I think its still a red-neck town with a hip facade. Austin regularly fails to pass a domestic partnership law. And when George W. Bush first stole the election, there was alot of celebrating around the Capitol. We hate his politics but he's a Texan. UT's motto is "We're Texas!"

8:25 PM  
Anonymous Kelvin said...

Hello Susan W.

How sneaky of those developers to front children as bearers of their bids for signatures to develop. Their own children, you think? Anyway, I enjoyed your account.

2:26 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Here's a letter to the editor of the NYT Bk Rev, 21 Nov. 2010, by one John Daniel; he's commenting on Jerry Coyne's favorable review of Kevin Kelly's recent bk, "What Technology Wants," that appeared in the Rev. on Nov. 7):

"Jerry A. Coyne...too hastily endores Kelly's notion that unlimited choice is a pure good. Of the 48,000 supermarket food items he cites, many are insubstantial or outright harmful, and many of the rest are redundant. How many brands of linguine do we need, and if there were none, would spaghettio do? The colonial pantry, containing vastly fewer items, probably held superior nutritional value and no lack of flavor.

"When Coyne asserts that the choices technology makes possible enhance 'our potential for self-realization,' does he mean that we can fulfill ourselves through TV, Twitter, and video games? By purchasing a new car? I've seen more happiness in the hovels and muddy streets of Mexican villages than in the affluent suburbs of America. The problem with ever-expanding technological variety is that it spawns ever-expanding desires, a condition unknown to our hunter-gatherer ancestors....

"Many helpful goods have come of our technological genius, and for those I am grateful, but paeans to material progress seem never to acknowledge its shadowy side. What Coyne calls self-realization looks a lot like obsession and addiction, or at least perpetual distraction. Henry David Thoreau, content with his limited 19th-century choices, got it right: 'Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things. They are but improved means to an unimproved end.'" [end of quote]

For a good satire on American techno-buffoons and the consumer culture, I hasten to recommend the Demi Moore film, "The Joneses". If ever a film showed the true face (and 'heart'--now there's a joke) of America, this is it (although "Little Miss Sunshine" does a pretty gd job as well). I just wish someone wd make a film called "The Dolt Index" and be done with it (tho again, "The Social Network" is not far off the mark...).

7:05 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

I wish I could remember precisely where I read this, many years ago -- it might have been in one of John Holt's later books. It's an anecdote about a Soviet immigrant in the 1970s or 1980s, seeing an American supermarket for the first time. His American host proudly displays aisle upon aisle of countless brands of toilet paper, soap, etc. The immigrant stares aghast at it all & cries, "Why? Why? Why?"

I found this part of the letter you quoted especially telling:

When Coyne asserts that the choices technology makes possible enhance 'our potential for self-realization,' does he mean that we can fulfill ourselves through TV, Twitter, and video games? By purchasing a new car?

Sadly, that's exactly what he means. And the self that's being realized is a sort of anti-self, emptied of anything individual or unique, while filled with the cotton candy of consumerist culture: sweet, ultimately sickening, and of no nutritional value.

8:05 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I just wish we cd elect a pres who wd declare: "Look, it's over. We made all the wrong choices, going back 400 yrs, and now this is the result. I am grateful to you for electing me, but let's face it, you are a collection of clowns, and I'm not much better. We need to close up shop, and let Europe or some intelligent place take the lead. We are finally only an example of what not to do. Good night and good luck."


9:12 AM  
Anonymous Kelvin said...

Maury and Tim,

And with so many thngs to choose from one wastes time just making up one's mind!

When I first arrived here in 1976 I went to a mall with my sisters who readily embraced it. I had an attack of vertigo and paused on a stairway feeling the vibrations of so many wandering feet in search of things to buy and I felt "What for?" Sometimes I think my intuitive reactions at age 18 were so truthful and over the years in the states I've become bozoned and rather stupid.

12:09 PM  
Anonymous Kelvin said...


I just learned the following:

Dr. Morris Berman will be on "What Now with Ken Rose" at noon (Pacific Time) on December 27th, 2010.

The website for the program is:

2:46 PM  
Blogger Carl said...

I think it would have been more helpful to read Coyne's actual review of Kelly's book than a letter written by someone who obviously didn't understand it. Coyne kinda glosses over the whole issue of technology as a means of self-realization with this line "Technology creates choice — compare the supermarket’s shelves with the pantry of a colonial farm — and therefore enhances our potential for self-realization. No longer tied to the land, we can become, in principle, what we want to become." But this is even true of other technologies, the weaving loom and the printing press, and nowhere does Coyne extol the virtues of twitter, the internet or cellphones. The only place he mentions cellphones is to ridicule Kelly's assertion that the cellphone is a truer expression of God's creativity than a tree frog. As an evolutionary biologist, Coyne definitely comes down of the side of the tree frogs. And that is how Coyne was reviewing this book, not as a social critic, but as an evolutionary biologist, and his review is anything but positive. And while it's true that Coyne is clearly not arguing against technology or Kelly's notion that it creates self-realization, he doesn't seem exceptionally enthusiastic about the idea. His review is mostly an argument against Kelly's profound misunderstanding of biological and technological evolution.

2:58 PM  
Anonymous Art said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

My favorite movie, perhaps, is "Big Night". Two brothers from Italy (Primo and Secondo) open a restaurant in America. A nearby businessman (Pascal) tries to ruin them. Pascal: "He's a great investment, your brother." Secondo: "You will never have my brother. He lives in a world above you. What he has, and what he is, is real. *You* are nothing."

P.S. According to Wikipedia, "adults in Austin read and contribute to blogs more than those in any other U.S. metropolitan area." Little surprise, then, that at least two of the DAA42 reside there.

3:24 PM  
Blogger Ashley Colby said...

Tim, Susan and MB-

From the latest issue of Adbusters Magazine:

"The problem is it is hard for us to imagine a future where we possess less but are more."

Forget the monastic option, we need to start learning how to grow our own food, chop wood, provide for ourselves. We can't be relying on the dolts to keep the electrical grid in order, or always-abundant fossil fuels to ship us sugar across the world.

Unfortunately, I know only a couple of other people in my generation (I'm 25) who think this, too.

I keep going back to Candide's final plea:

"let us cultivate our garden."

5:53 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


The interview w/Ken Rose is tentative, not definite. I'd say 50-50 at this pt. Stay tuned.


8:19 PM  
Anonymous farbror Melker said...

I have just listened to the radioshow "Is corporate PR killing true health care? [12.09.10]" on The author and former 20 year med-industry PR-execute Wendell Potter is interviewed about his new book "Deadly Spin". During the program a local radio-reporter e-mailed in the following tragicomical (mostly tragic) story:

Quote: "I realized how good the spin was in this healtcare debate, then I was interviewing a woman in line at the foodbank. She had been in line for 3 hours, she was on the brink of losing her home, had no health-insurance and was in SERIOUS pane over an abscess tooth (she was treating it with Advil). Martina [the reporter] told her "Well, at least were getting a change in our healtcare-system" (this was before anything had passed). And the woman in line at the foodbank said "Oh no, no, Im not voting for that - that sounds too socialist to me".

Well, one cant argue against the fact that the overal omnipresent privatize/corporate "tough love" belief-system still, at least for the time being, exerts a very effective control over the hearths and minds of the populace - also over those who in increasingly large numbers find themselves utterly clusterfucked by it.

7:02 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


This is a great example of the fact that a lot of American stupidity exists in the form of brainwashing. For that poor woman, socialism is not the problem, it's the solution. During the height of the Depression most Americans were opposed to the redistribution of wealth. I mean, finally, what're u gonna do with these people??!


8:41 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

I have a somewhat similar story. Where I teach is a 65 year old violin teacher. I asked him why he doesn't retire and he told me that he needs to continue working so his wife, who is ill, can continue to get treatment through the school system's health insurance. I told him that if this country would stop prosecuting the wars in Iraq and Afganistan then there would be enough money to provide a national health care system good enough for him to retire and provide affordable care for both him and his wife. He said we can't do that since "We need to fight the terrorists." The brainwashing in the US is complete and impenetrable.

10:55 AM  
Anonymous Nocti said...


"I think it would have been more helpful to read Coyne's actual review of Kelly's book than a letter written by someone who obviously didn't understand it."

I think that the reader who wrote to the Times understood the book review perfectly well. He was merely replying to one facet of it, and extrapolating from Coyne's quoted remark.

On the other hand, you are right to observe that the letter, by itself, gives a misleading impression of Coyne's review.

11:32 AM  
Anonymous farbror Melker said...

MB: "what're u gonna do with these people??!"

Thankfully where seems to be a limit beyond the point of no return (back to prior illusions). At least according to the vast history of former big ideas. Perhaps its all about eating the bad fruits of seemingly good trees - and throwing up a couple of times too many.

I come to think of an anekdot told by Johan Galtung [a Norwegian mathematician, sociologist and a principal founder of the discipline of peace and conflict studies] about his beloved sister, who directly after WW-2, still belived in the rosy propaganda-version of Stalinism. Young Galtung cited the content of a newly published book of Igor cravensko titled "I chose freedom" (1946). Her initial reaction:

"She took that book and threw it in the wall. BANG!!" Then over years that followed...

Phase 1: Total denial - its all lies. Phase 2: Cravcensko is a traitor. Probably paid by somebody. Phase 3: Ok, but only because of Stalin. Get rid of Stalin and everything is OK. Phase 4: OK, not just Stalin - something in the structure was wrong. Phase 5: The whole idea was perhaps wrong? Phase 6: Blind anti-Sovietism - totally uncapable of appreciating or even understanding anything of it, in any shape or form.

Johan Galtung told above in a 50+ minute long talk called "The decline and fall of the American empire", with the hope that it should end with phaze 5 for US (and global Capitalism). This lecture is available at:

I guess one can find above for free aswell. Or google "On the Coming Decline and Fall of the US Empire" for a more elaborate text-version. Anyway, try switch "Phase 3: Ok, but only because of George W Bush. Get rid of that man and everything is gonna be on track again" - and one get a fairly good idea where the voting majority (including many foreign US-filiacs) was just a few short years ago.

3:49 PM  
Anonymous Art said...


Two book recommendations for you:

For yourself: "The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times", by Carol Deppe

And for your friends, perhaps: "Peak Oil Survival: Preparation for Life After Gridcrash", by Aric McBay

The monastic option suits an old guy like me; collecting and reading books, then sharing what I've found.

8:11 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I think Obama may go down in history as one of the greatest nonentities to ever occupy the White House. The only greater nonentities were the folks who thought he was going to do something. Where is Millard Fillmore when we need him, I ask u?


11:36 PM  
Anonymous farbror Melker said...

Art: "For yourself: "The Resilient Gardener:"

Perhaps its typical for the American way that every solutions seems to revert back to the indevidual choice. Its absolutely true that real change has to START with indevidual transformation. But in which direction from there? As Mr. Berman puts it: Indevidual crises requires indevidual solutions - a national/global crises however requires problem-solving on an national/global scale.

Anyway, Jonathan Bloom makes a rather interesting claim in his new book "American Wasteland: How America Throws Away Nearly Half of Its Food". According to him just Americans alone wastes enough food to fill The Rose Bowl - each single day of the year. (!!)

Multiply the seating-capacity vs the image of this completely food-filled stadium. Impressive isnt it? I caught this on a author/book-interview at

Also bear in mind what extra food could be available if not 34% overweight- and 34% obese Americans could bring themselves to eat less, and more healthy.

Add to above how even more arable land could be available for healthy human food, instead of being wasted on production converted into potato-chips and chees-doodles.

So the next time somebody theorizes about fault-free market efficiency, and goes on about "hungry lions hunt more effective" (whether on translate hungry = greedy - or just hungry) - well, one can refer to Jonathan Blooms book - amongst others.

7:03 AM  
Anonymous Susan W. said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

It doesn't help that Obama lied throughout his entire campaign about what his beliefs were and what he wanted to do if elected. He's on record saying he would promote a public option, make cheaper meds available from Canada, let the Bush tax cuts expire for the wealthiest, etc. Exactly what were people to go on other than this? Matt Taibbi in his latest book, Griftopia, admits he was duped by Obama too and I don't think anyone would call him a nonentity or a dolt. No one is fooled anymore and many who thought they'd voted for change now see there will be absolutely no change in the US. It's over. Frank Rich's column today states it pretty clearly -- the stupid "No Label" party is the usual assortment of gasbags who have no intention of changing one damn thing and people are fed up.

Ashely and Art--

There's a movement in farming called permaculture you might be interested in reading about. It began in Australia and the book Gaia's Garden explains it.

10:03 AM  
Blogger Ashley Colby said...


Great recommendations. It is important for someone like me (by that I mean I hope for a long life ahead, safely having children) to try to both prepare for myself as well as to get a community together for support.

My parents' generation has so much excess wealth - my dad is a firefighter in Chicago and makes 6 figures, for example - so convincing them to transfer some of that (ostensibly stolen from my future) wealth to help me set up for my vastly deficient future is high on my agenda right now.

It is helpful to me that the idea of the inevitability of collapse and the pervasiveness of corruption is starting to become mainstream - it means that I may be able to convince more people to come and form this community with me.

11:00 AM  
Anonymous Art said...


Thanks for the Jonathan Bloom recommendation. BTW, I'm generally not a big fan of self-reliance; ideally, community involvement such as farmer's markets and community supported agriculture is the way to go. Still, these are necessary solutions on a local level; policy change in how the national food system operates is not going to happen any time soon.

12:45 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


What they shd have gone on was his record, which was basically that of a party hack who worked his way up. He was always conservative; the profile the New Yorker did of him in 2007 made that very clear. Indeed, he came off sounding like Edmund Burke. The pronouncements u refer to were vague, as were his plans. "Change" and "Hope" don't tell us very much. When Howard Zinn was interviewed b4 his death, he said he wasn't disappted in Obama because he didn't expect anything from him. As the 60s slogan had it, "If elections could change anything they wd be declared illegal." Major campaign contribs from Goldman Sachs etc. shd have been a tipoff as well. The fact is that he was a logo, and he always was. I don't feel he betrayed his electorate at all; they just read into him what they wanted (being black, and a Democrat, helped the process along as well). We also saw during the debates with McCain, for example, his saying that we had to guarantee that we cd continue burning 25% of the world's energy--a far cry from Jimmy Carter 29 yrs earlier.

By now, there are a lot of people who sense that the game is up, but u can be sure they'll be there at the polls in 2012, voting for the lesser of two evils. What a joke. As Dick Gregory famously remarked, "If we are always voting for the lesser of two evils, how come things keep getting worse?"


3:09 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

And here's another comparison between the US and Mexico-Japan-etc.: Joyce Carol Oates' description, in the New Yorker (Dec. 13), of how her husband died in the Princeton Medical Center in Feb. of 2008. He was already in the hospital; she was naturally distracted and worried. She parked near there, not very elegantly, and ran off to the hospital to check on her husband. When she got back, someone had stuck a note on her windshield:


It says it all, doesn't it? The guy is so stupid, he can't even spell 'stupid'; and why go out of your way, near a hospital zone, to leave a message like that on someone's car? There's no way that would ever happen in Mexico, Japan, or wherever. What we see is the product of a toxic culture, and quite obviously, toxic people. Violence and aggression permeate the very air we breathe.

3:17 PM  
Blogger tide said...

Dr. Berman & others,

As per the Obama "mystery" I just discovered a great article by Ken Silverstein from Harpers 2006

Barack Obama:The birth of a Washington Machine.

You might even describe Obama's past record as a bit banal. He's always been more interested in deal making than having a real core set of beliefs. In a way it completely explains his choice of Rahm Emanuel and the "branding" of Obama as mentioned.

As per the article - Obama got a record number of corporate donors because they knew he was a "player".

BTW, after Bush's time in office I don't think anyone can blame people for hoping for something better. Continuing to "believe" in any Obama solutions is delusional at this point.

Check out any recent interviews w/ Cornell West for discussions of the disillusioned.

6:46 PM  
Anonymous Keith said...

Since I last commented here, I moved and got a job with another Federal government agency (non-DoD).

Every morning the agency PR chief's office in Washington issues a surprisingly thorough compendium of the morning's news.

The ironic thing: stories about Wikileaks are included in the roundup. But if I click on any one of those stories (all on the MSM, including CNN), I'll be greeted with a screen that says "FORBIDDEN."

I should be surprised, but I'm not. At least black shirted cops don't break into my office to arrest me for viewing prohibited stories on CNN. Yet.

8:32 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dear Tide,

The thing is that the brainwashing in the US is so powerful that it can delude even folks like Matt Taibbi, who is hardly a moron. We are desperate to believe in this country because we've been fed a story abt it since age 2. Hard to shake that, hard to wake up. Will Herberg, in a classic work (1955) called "Protestant, Catholic, Jew," argued that the real religion of America was America (Robert Bellah echoed this in
1967, "The Civil Religion"). You had Robt Kuttner calling the election "transformative." But this is to believe in magical solutions, and follow the pied piper. No one who seriously wanted to turn this country around--which is an impossibility in any event--cd get nominated for president or attract campaign funds; and if he did get elected, he'd be assassinated in less than 48 hrs. In addition, what most Americans want is not real change but the appearance of it: and that's what Obama was promising, in actual fact. I understand this American desperation, for the brainwashing is early and is as powerful as heroin. Really grasping, as Freud said when he returned from the US after his lecture series at Clark University, that the place is "a gigantic mistake," is a tough bullet to bite. Equally tough is that the ship really, really is sinking; that its future is grim and (at best) drab. Americans are living in The Matrix, when u get rt down to it, and I don't think that's going to change. What addict wants to face withdrawal, after all?

Keith: do they know u read this blog? That u.r. a traitor and a mole?


10:25 PM  
Blogger tide said...

Dr. Berman,

Yeah, couldn't agree more.

Another example is the extremely different reaction to the financial crisis in Europe vs.the US.

Europeans seriously protest government cuts while people in the States just sit back and take it. In one clip of an Irish protest a protester (middle aged woman)is asked why she's protesting education cuts.She responds with "were tired of the rich doing well while we can't even get our kids educated".

I don't expect anything that clear in the States.

I ran across a number of Youtube videos of van dwellers and related homeless/semi-homeless clips. Many are from California but the same shots could come from almost everywhere now.

I suspect that's a scenario we'll see more and more of - former middle class people, zombied out and wandering around the now abandoned strip malls they used to shop in.

11:13 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Who was it that wrote, "Van Dwellers of the World, Unite!"?

Actually, during the Depression, many people lived in cars, which dotted the length of the Mississippi. This went on for 7 yrs. They were opposed to socialism. John Steinbeck once wrote that in the US, the poor regard themselves as "temporarily embarrassed millionaires."

I mean, what hope cd there possibly be??!


9:06 AM  
Blogger diana said...

I am not so sure that it's just the brainwashing that had folks like Matt Taibbi supporting Obama. Instead, it may have a lot to do with the crisis that comes with the realization that not only is the culture anti-human, anti-life, anti-nature and unsustainable but that it's doomed and cannot be changed or fixed. Once you get to this point, where are the tools for dealing with it?

I am beginning to believe that even in Anglo-Saxon culture some of us are born heart centered. On a daily basis the dissonance becomes unbearable. That you are marginal and useless to the culture, leaves no choice but to work to escape it.

This is why people supported Obama. They want to believe the system/culture can be changed. It' too painful to believe otherwise.

11:12 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Yes, I agree; but I also think it's too painful for most Americans to confront the reality of what America is; and for most Americans--as Herberg and Bellah showed--the country is effectively their god (or religion).

What not to do: Think that you can do some social or political action that will turn things around. Nothing you do will turn things around; that ship actually sailed in the early 1970s.

What to do:
1. If you can, get outta Dodge, asap.
2. If not, try an "inner migration" (see section in Twilght bk on New Monastic Individual).
3. Above all, let the country go, in your mind. Wiki-Leaks, elections, Iran, Kim Kardashian--it's all kaka; it's just not worth your time.
4. Enjoy yer life. The US might suck, but you don't have to.


5:24 PM  
Anonymous gregg said...

To fabror-regarding the food waste-I work at a govt center for the severely physically and mentally disabled. (who they can't wait to ship out in the ostensible name of "helping them live a fuller life" to privatized services-because we all know minimum wage 100% turnover per year staff are better than trained staff and RNs)
This place pays, say, 40g's a year for food and throws out half of it(I've no need to exaggerate) and one is forbidden to save so much as a scrap for fear of being fired-same on the state level. Would anyone be surprised to know when it comes to raises etc; that a great wail arises from administration about how utterly fucking broke they are? Multiply this by hundreds of places in this state alone-and this is just food. I work in the medical field-the waste in that area in the name of "safety" etc; is not to be believed.
To all these androids this is the natural course of things,it will never never change ...why that is unimaginable.. questioning their wisdom is OUT of the question.

This is my anecdotal contribution to the little straws that will.... and I'm sure you could all add better examples. I find myself in territory that an earlier I couldn't have imagined...somewhere beyond no hope and not even giving a shit. thanks...gregg

5:47 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

From the English-language newspaper in Mexico City today:

Buffalo (Reuters)--A western New York man appeared in court to face animal cruelty charges, after trying to marinate his cat so he could eat it. Police discovered the cat in the trunk of a car being driven by Gary Korkuc when they pulled him over for running a stop sign. The animal was found in a liquid mixture of oil, crushed pepper, salt and other ingredients. The cat survived.

I have two questions for this moron.
1. You ran a stop sign even tho you had a marinated cat in your trunk?
2. You never heard of oregano?

6:29 PM  
Anonymous gregg said...

well I'm an unredeemable cat lover (16, all abandoned...all neutered) I appreciate these little fine tuned creatures, who were here millions of years before humans and will still be hanging around(sorry jay-sus) a while after the masters of the universe unceremoniously split the scene.

For real sustenance a little stir fried southerner, seasoning of your choice, or their equivalent (as in here in O-HI!-o) will provide all the high fructose sugar and fat to keep one happy and full and ready to do battle with the book learnts as any rapture ready onward christian soldiers could desire.

The evolutionary superior felines just are biding their are the virus and bacteria clans. Do they know its X-mas? gregg

7:42 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Well, yer in gd company: Hemingway owned 32.


8:02 PM  
Anonymous Joe doesn't know said...

Dr. B,
violence and aggression permeate the air we breathe....

I just read my city's newspaper for a few moments and the three stories I looked at are worthy of a mention: a father choking his son to DEATH over an argument (he says it was a freak accident...I thought a freak accident would be a piano falling on my head. Dad choking me until I die would seem to carry some intent). Story number two was about a foster mother who locked her pre-teen foster children in the basement every night without lights or access to a bathroom. This went on for months.

Story three (the most uplifting!) was about a man beating another mean in a parking lot because the second man parked in a handicapped spot and got out and "appeared to be fine". So the first man attacked him, beat him severely and was heard to say "now you're handicapped, asshole". The attacker did not know that the victim's wheelchair-bound son was lying in the backseat and the father was going into the store to get something for the wheelchair.

I don't usually share news stories, because it is the same every single day in the paper, but it got to me extra today. What the hell is this place? Could this shit happen anywhere else? It's really weighing on me lately. I'm trying my best, Maestro.

10:52 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Why do I have an uncanny feeling that a few yrs down the line, events like this will seem rather mild?


11:44 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Hey, don't forget the Chicago gang member who walks around bragging that he put a 4 year old in a wheelchair (the boy was shot accidentally). Although everyone in the neighborhood knows who did it, no one will come forward to testify. "And I'm proud to be an American...!"

7:27 AM  
Anonymous Susan W. said...

Dear Dr. Berman,


A friend who lives in the Tampa area sent me a youtube video about homelessness in Central Florida. This was on the local news--there were about 8,000 in 140 tent cities (plus about 1200 children)and three social workers had been assigned to "help" them--and this was before the crash in 2008. In another story, people living under a freeway were told to move but didn't (b/c they had no place to go) so the police came in and cut up all their tents. So the only shelter they had was destroyed. She recommended a documentary, Easy Street, about homelessness in Florida but I haven't watched it. If you want to see these youtubes one is St. Petersburg Police Cutting Up Homeless Tents and the other is Florida's Homeless in the Woods 2007. But these are depressing subjects so let's not talk about them anymore; it's time for my daily mantra's: "I live in a Christian country", "Today I'm going to be the best 'me' ever", "Let em eat cake."

9:09 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Reagan said that homeless people were homeless because they wanted to be, and I cdn't agree more. If this riff-raff had fully embraced capitalism, they wd be leading productive and socially useful lives, perhaps have become brokers on Wall St., selling CDOs, credit default swaps, and other derivative subprime products. So when their tents got cut up, they had only themselves to blame.

Reagan also said that trees cause pollution. Hopefully they too will be cut down, along with the tents.

God, how I miss the 80s.


10:22 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

And of course everyone will get big helpings of that healthy vegetable, ketchup!

What's especially chilling isn't just the lack of empathy & compassion, but the absolute glee in making the weakest & poorest suffer even more. I've seen stories about clothing stores tossing out discontinued items & deliberately shredding them so nobody can salvage them from a dumpster, for instance. And many, all too many, approve of it. Hell, they cheer it on & get enormous vicarious pleasure from it!

1:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ryan's anecdote exhibits a problem I find especially plagues progressives. We don't know how to say "no." One reason the Party of No succeeds so very well is that "no" carries with it some authority and some sense of limits. As Lasch pointed out long ago, the left cannot conceive of limits, whether behavioral, economical, or cultural. Any call for less or enough or restraint is received as repressive and controlling or fascistic.

So what we have are millions of commercials and other messages stressing more, new, other, and better competing against Adbusters, Reverend Billy, and Juliet Schor, the voices of less. Not exactly a fair fight with no backing.

What the left really needs is the development of a new ascetic. A new movement to challenge the mores of more based on the many traditions of self-denial (all the major religions, Beat/hipster bohemianism, straight-edge punkness, etc.) and new dreams and ideas. Sadly, the only progress the left can point to is of a material/technological/economic sort and, as such, challenging this "progress" usually leads to you being called a Republican. (I've been called a reactionary for claiming that cell phones are disconnecting telling!)

This is because the left is just as religious as the right, however the left's god is material. Such is the theology of technology (with its demigod, technocracy): gadgetry as progress and an irrational belief that technology will be our savior. (Remember the internet as great democratic force? Carbon trees? Cloud whitening? What a load of crap.)

Just my two cents!


PS I'm moving to middle-of-nowhere, Kansas from NYC to start a think tank on limits, simplicity, and sustainability. Wish me luck!

PPS PLEASE take and use "the theology of technology" as you see fit. It has been copylefted to you in an attempt to get the notion in popular consciousness.

5:04 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Doctor, any thoughts about the repeal of DADT? It seems to me that all it does is allow for gay killers. The issue should be about the constant feeding of the war machine, not what kind of people are there to carry out its abominations.
Also, I know you have written lauditory things about Carter, but doesn't it disturb you that so much of Richard Halbrooke's bloodstained career began under Carter such as the massacre of the Timorese and support for the Korean military dictatorship? But it is tragic that this country did not heed Carter's warning about our dependency on foreign oil. The monies this country has spent on the oil wars surely could have been used to develop alternative energy sources. I imagine that at some point there will be severe travel restrictions placed on Americans so they don't see how far advanced other countries are in green technology and of course in providing its citizenry with a decent safety net.

6:47 PM  
Anonymous Art said...

"The US might suck, but you don't have to."

On the final episode of "Bill Moyers Journal" on PBS, the last guest was Barry Lopez, best known for his book "Arctic Dreams".

Lopez said: " do you introduce yourself to the darkness in the world? And how do you walk away from it and have something other than despair and grief to speak of? ...if I have a subject, it is justice. And the manifold way in which our lives can be shaped by the recovery of a sense of reverence for life."

Susan, I live in central Florida, and I'm angered to learn that police are cutting down the tents of homeless people. (These kind of things are not reported in the local newspaper.) Justice and reverence for life don't seem to be a possibility here.

But as MB has said, the human spirit will prevail (somewhere else). Thank you, everyone, for your "heart centered" contributions. And a happy winter solstice, too.

7:04 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Susan, I just watched the U-tube videos on the homeless in Florida. Truly heartbreaking. The people interviewed were not bums at all. All were well spoken and had simply fallen on difficult times (though being born in the USA is the ultimate hard time). Tangentially, the recent tax bill signed into law had nothing in it for job creation or for re-educating the unemployed so they could find jobs once things begin to turn around. I suppose those in Congress know that most jobs that could provide a decent standard of living will be sent overseas so why bother with anything that could ameliorate working (or non-working) conditions here. I know the good doctor tells us that short of moving overseas we should try to enjoy our lives as much as possible. But how can we when there is so much injustice here?

9:32 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Recheck yer copy of Twilight. Yes, enjoy yerself; but if it is yer wont, also work toward cultural preservation. Hence the idea of the New Monastic Individual, and the examples I provide.


9:45 PM  
Blogger tide said...

RE: Anonymous on “limits”, techno-gadget society etc..

I don’t understand, or maybe should say I don’t associate your connecting “the left” with technological/material progress etc..
….but I do have feelings about “movements” you’re mentioning (adbusters etc.). I don’t think there’s anything wrong with them per se but they’re so easily co-opted by the American capitalist system.

America has “movements”. Greeks, Italians, Irish, Zapatistas have culture. They throw stuff at cops, takeover buildings and threaten Prince Charles when he’s driving around London in his bubble world. Mexican teachers shut down cities in protest.

I think real culture has shared risk and context. Little like that in the US. At this point, I’m convinced nothing will come of US “movements” and that’s why I try to live outside of the US as much as I can. Only recent hope came when factory workers took over the door/window plant in Chicago homeowners squatting in their own homes.

Think about it – the foreclosure crisis is a fraud that has robbed many people of everything of economic value. Why don’t Americans sandbag and blockade bank-threatened neighborhoods?

Instead, you get faux-revolt like the tea-party and self-cannibalizing ideas like lowered taxes on the wealthy.

At this point, I think the States will have growing pockets of the third world. I'm afraid the news stories are just covering the inevitable to a degree.

El Juero

10:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, Dr. Berman. I have read the Twilight of American Culture and sadly agree with your assessment and potential cure.

What I hope to create in rural Kansas is the first nonprofit, cohousing think tank (for sustainable culture). So kinda similar to your "monastic option" with the added benefit of not isolating yourself and disconnecting yourself from the flailing world around you. That is, still looking outward as opposed to a monastery or, often, a commune/intentional community. I hope to study everything from Christian asceticism to windmills, Wal-mart to Monsanto. (We shall far I've only gotten Russell Arben Fox at the Front Porch Republic to offer his expertise and resources, but I'm not in Kansas yet :-)

Dan W

2:03 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Check out the examples I give in Twilight of NMI's--they are hardly folks who isolated or disconnected themselves. This is a common misperception of the bk.


2:05 AM  

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