January 02, 2011

Second Interview with Ken Rose

Dear Friends,

Ken runs a show on KOWS-FM in Occidental, CA, called "What Now," and interviewed me last May. After my smash run on Broadway, he could hardly decline to have me again, so here's the info (interview is abt 1 hr long):

Go to www.pantedmonkey.org, scroll down to 12-27-10, and click on my name. Lean back, pull up a stiff glass of Scotch, and enjoy (or not).



Anonymous Paul Emmons said...

Thanks for the link, Dr. Berman! I've long wanted to hear you in actual conversation.

You talk about the lack of social capital in the U.S. It seems to me that this can be epitomized in the word "networking", which is (or at least recently used to be) the fashionable term for what smart (and therefore avaricious) people do at a cocktail party or similar gathering. I'm not enough of a "winner" ever to have been to one, other than to a Christmas party given some years ago by one of the premier real estate developers in this region, which I had the privilege of attending because he was suddenly in desperate need of someone to play the piano. Most of the guests were one way or another in the real estate line.

Although I found the host himself a perfect gentleman, this can't be said of most of the guests, who tended to cut someone like me cold upon discovering that, beyond tickling the ivories for an hour or two of background music, I was of no use to him or her. The image one has of "networking", i.e. of a gathering of ambitious yuppies shamelessly dangling, business cards ever in hand, for contacts who might advance their careers seemed totally apt. Such is the environment that passes for a prestigious holiday party among "the best people" in the USA.

1:31 AM  
Anonymous Jason said...

Good interview! Your idea of the "founding myth" is something that I've thought about for a long time, especially in light of the tea-baggers (and everyone else really, but I just like saying teabagger) around here who call on "the founding fathers" every 5 minutes. Calling it a myth is exactly right since myths tend to glorify the good and forget the bad.

9:32 AM  
Anonymous Art said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

I was happy to hear you express your love for the American land (if not its people). The light in the late afternoon in the Northeast is uniquely beautiful, imo.

For those of us who choose to stay, getting back to the land (whether it be farming, eco-villages, or spiritual retreats) will likely prove very important. And we would do well to listen to those who perhaps know and love the land best, Native American elders who still preserve their traditions.

I like Oren Lyons, a Faithkeeper of the Onondaga people (Iroquois). In an interview with Orion magazine, he said:

"And so it goes on, this idea of private property, this idea of accruement of wealth. President Bush has said, 'let the market dictate our direction'. Now if that isn't about as stupid as you can get. What he said was, let the greed of the people dictate the direction of the Earth. If that's the basis of a country, then it's really lost what you would call a primary direction for survival."

The roots of American failure, indeed.

1:40 PM  
Anonymous Kelvin said...

Hi Maury,

I caught the interview with Ken Rose and very much enjoyed it. I was particularly struck by your anecdote of trying to start a study group with some fellow professors. It's the same situation described by someone on this blog as networking. Everyone has an agenda and, since you did not, and that fact could not be comprehended, the group never formed. I have a few professor friends with doctorates in subjects dear to me. But it's hard for me to get them into discussion about their work and ideas that they don't mistake for an invitation to rehash their lectures to students. They do not see me as an equal or colleague [of course I'm not!], or as someone whom they can influence to grant them tenure or sabbatical. So, ironically, the people who could provide stimulating intellectual discussion will not because their jobs end at 5. It could explain why so few care to publicly comment on the mess we're in. Their jobs end at 5 and they're too busy getting tenure. If they've gotten tenure, they're too tired from that struggle to do much else than vedge.

3:55 PM  
Blogger Neb said...

Oh I'm so late but I'll say it anyway. Happy New Year all! MB you amaze me with your ability to put this blog out and write, teach, etc. Thanks for all you do and thanks to all contributors.

6:57 PM  
Blogger diana said...

Caught the interview and you are on point about the pervasive brainwashing and belief in American exceptionalism.

I work for a state agency that handles unemployment benefits. It is unbelievable how many people believe that when their benefits run out, that there are govt programs to help them since they have worked hard all their lives. When you inform them that there is no social safety net in this country, they are shocked. Suggest welfare they are outraged. Welfare is for lazy blacks and Mexicans. These dolts actually believe that there must be be programs for hard working Americans(Whites). Until the shit hits the fan, they can afford the luxury of all kinds of crazy ideas about how this country works.

Meanwhile, the reception function at my job has been taken over by armed police officers. so there it is folks, the future is here. Listening to Old Reggae music really helps me these days. I have rediscovered Peter Tosh's "The Day the Dollar Die" What a gem.... Can't wait.

9:44 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Bye bye Miss American pie...

11:20 PM  
Anonymous Paul Emmons said...

>These dolts actually believe that there must be be programs for hard working Americans(Whites). Until the shit hits the fan, they can afford the luxury of all kinds of crazy ideas about how this country works.

Who was it-- it must have been Morris-- who pointed out John Steinbeck's quip that the poor in America do not see themselves as exploited peons but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.

Which reminds me that one could profitably read Dr. Berman's writing as an annotated bibliography of a vast range of other stimulating thought. Among "all he does" we mustn't overlook the voracious reading which makes everything else possible.

11:36 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Actually, I've taken to eating bks instead of rdg them...they get digested, go rt into bloodstream and up to the brain.

Somebody wrote in, and I tried to post it, and then it vanished. Can't remember who u.r., but my apologies: this does happen every so often, much to my annoyance.

Kel: thanks for writing in, but keep in mind that I can't post it all, every time. I try to keep a balance, so that no one person (myself included) dominates the "airwaves." Pls keep wrtg, just thin it out a bit, if u cd.

Film revs: By accident (I was in a hotel rm w/a TV) I got to see a film I'd seen b4, "Off the Map," w/Sam Elliott. This is a real gem. Somewhat similar to "Local Hero" (Burt Lancaster), but more subtle.

5:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In regards to the Iroquois comment above, the words ring true enough, but the Iroquois don't practice what they preach. Even they have a seat at the beastly banquet table, all protestations aside. That's how insidious this octopus of a system is.


Many reservations have successful businesses, however. The Seneca reservation contains the City of Salamanca, New York, a center of the hardwoods industry[35] with a Native American population of 13 percent. The Seneca make use of their independent reservation status to sell gasoline and cigarettes tax free and run high-stakes bingo operations. The Seneca's have also opened several Indian casinos, the Seneca Niagara Casino in Niagara Falls, New York and one in Salamanca, New York. In 2007 the Seneca opened a third, in Buffalo, the Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino.[36]

The Oneida have already set up casinos on their reservations in New York and Wisconsin. The Oneida are one of the largest employers in northeastern Wisconsin with over 3,000 employees, including 975 people in tribal government. The Tribe manages over 16 million dollars in federal and private grant monies and a wide range of programs, including those authorized by the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act.[37] The Oneida business ventures have brought millions of dollars into the community and improved the standard of living.

9:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I enjoyed your talk with Ken Rose. I was wondering how you arrived at the predicted figure, of a 25% hit to the U.S. Dollar over the next two to five years. It seems very likely, with the same people who created the crisis still in charge and the further deregulation etc. I was just curious if you had any more in-depth figures that came up with the, 25%?
Mike O’

11:47 AM  
Anonymous Dave said...

Morris, thanks for the interview link. Enjoyed it.

I think you used the term “primal” in regards to your connection to the land where you grew up. Do you think our constant moving contributed to our demise as a country? That connection I had to the land as a young boy is still with me and I feel such loss that I have never found it again in my constant moving. Do you think it is possible to have it in a new place, as an adult?

Art, I highly recommend “On The Rez,” by Ian Frazier. Mostly about Pine Ridge.. re the Iroquois, Thom Hartmann said the other day (on the 120th anniversary of the Wounded Knee massacre) that 5 of the 7 Iroquois leaders were women and they were considering restricting the vote to just women. He also mentioned Ben Franklin’s statement on introducing the Iroquois chiefs to the continental congress that if these ignorant savages can form a government that has lasted for over 1000 years, we should be able to do it too.

Anon, caution about claiming that because Native Americans establish such businesses they have bought into the same greedy attitudes of whites. I’m sure some have, and corruption always follows large amounts of cash, but you might want to take a look at where the money goes, health and education for example. We stopped doing that decades ago if we ever did it at all. Also, most Native Americans do not benefit from the example, and many of the people completely understand the dangers involved, Oren Lyons is one of them. Personally I think if the Indians took every last penny from the whites and threw our sorry asses out of the country, they’d be justified. Oh, and slaughter a few million of us in the process.

Vic Glover, when talking about why whites come to Pine Ridge, says the one thing you can be sure about is, “they all want something.”

12:13 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

"The love of possessions is a disease with them."--Sitting Bull

On the 25% figure: not quite a shot in the dark, as I recall reading that prediction from some economist some time ago; but I can't recall who or where. However, there are direr estimates floating around: e.g. 50% w/in a year. This I doubt; but there is no doubt, as Richard Wolff puts it, that capitalism is going to hit the fan, big time. All the stupid things we and the gov't did hollowed out the economy; I can't see how the dollar can sustain itself over the next few yrs. China is out to get us; they'll succeed.

1:39 PM  
Anonymous Kelvin said...

Hi Maury,

Thank you for the kind reminder to thin it out a bit. Will do!

Perhaps I should clear the air. How would you prefer me to address you? I feel a little presumptious addressing you as "Maury," but since you've made no objection to that, I take it that you don't mind. Is "Maury" what your intimates address you as?

I've noticed that not all of my posts are posted. I don't mind that in the least. In fact, I've been relieved that certain of my posts have NOT made it to the airwaves.

5:30 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

I answer to any of the following:
1. Maury
2. Morris
3. Dr. Berman
4. Sam Schmeck

Lo que quieres...

8:29 PM  
Anonymous Joe doesn't know said...

Dr. Berman,

I just listened to the interview...I told myself I'd only listen to a few minutes because I need to be asleep, and then I couldn't stop. It was great hearing you speak.

I have often felt that no one trusts anyone in this country, and for good reason. There is an object relations view of others, and everyone knows it and relationships are therefore at a very utilitarian and low-moral level (you scratch my back/I'll scratch yours would be a stretch for most Americans, as they would probably get their backs scratched and then weasel out of returning the favor).

This 'hustling' is how we go about our everday business. It's how we relate...it's staggering. How can that even be considered a culture? you are correct, we have no community. It has certainly done me spiritual and psychological harm to live where I also have to be suspicious of the motives and 'angles' of my countrymen.

On a side note, I can't believe they want you to change the title of the book..the original was perfect. Be Well, Dr. B.

1:15 AM  
Anonymous Paul said...

Great interview Dr B. What always amazes me is when I try to talk about your work with other people I usually get looks of hostility or responses to the effect that this is just the way things are. Most of the time I can't even bridge the subject. Anyway, I don't get to visit here too often but I do appreciate your hospitality and everyone else's comments as well. It would be nice if this were down the street at a coffee shop but hey any port in the storm I guess.

On Native A. culture - with what limited exposure I've had I've always felt that despite what many may feel they've had to do to cope to survive here - underneath there's a personal history and spritiual relationship with this land. Few 'Americans' (which most of us -as immigrant Europeans- became by default) will ever understand this or even care enought to try. History may be written by the winners but you have to wonder sometimes what we won...

1:41 AM  
Anonymous Jim said...

The interview with Ken Rose was great. I was not familiar with his program, so thanks for sharing this with your readers.

I think someone mentioned earlier that it's nice to be able to put a voice with your obvious wisdom/philosophy/intellectual girth.

I need to purchase the new book. It's on my to-read book list, and my goal is to have it done by late January/early February. I'll be sure to post a review on my own blog.

My introduction to your work came through "Twilight," followed by "DAA." Each book has helped me expand my own worldview and understanding, and contextualize all that's swirling about.

I appreciated your referencing of social capital and Robert Putnam. "Bowling Alone" is one of those pivotal books that has deeply influenced my thinking, along with your writing. I also am a fan of Wendell Berry's work.

I've just started Taibbi's book. His gonzo writing style has made the first 50 pages glide by. I'm into the section where he is sh*tting all over Greenspan and connecting the dots, tying him to objectivist philosophy and to the wingnut, Ayn Rand. Good stuff. He also does a great job showing the vacuity of her writing. I really appreciate that he did that, as Rand is always held up by far right/Libertarian types as some kind of intellectual fortress, when in fact, her books are torturous to read and her arguments lacking in any kind of rigor. Of course, in the anti-intellectual land of America, any twit can be held up as a standard bearer--just look at Glenn Beck.

I continue to enjoy your blog, and usually lurk and refrain from commenting. There is a nice mix of regulars that do post regularly.

Wishing you a healthy and for selfish reasons, prolific year on the writing front.



8:15 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Many thanks for your kind words. A couple of things:

-I'd be happy for you to post a review of QOV on your blog; if it's not too much trouble, perhaps you could post it on Amazon as well.

-If you like Taibbi, you might want to order the CD of a talk he gave at the U of Colorado called "Corruption: From Russia to Wall St." It is available from www.alternativeradio.org. I thought it was terrific.

-Don't lurk; join us!

Thanks again, and Happy New Yr.


10:13 AM  
Anonymous Kelvin said...

Hi Maury and comrades,

I caught some video on DemocracyNow yesterday of John Shimkuss? (Bumkiss?)...anyway, the new chair on the Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy opened the Congressional Hearing on Climate Change by citing Genesis 8:21-22 and Matthew 24! Then he said, "I believe that's the infallible word of God and that's the way it's going to be." And "the earth will end when God declares its time to be over. Man will not destroy this earth."

This before an audience of serious scientists who came to present evidence.

I noticed that a young aide sitting behind Congressman Shimkuss? raised her head with a smile of suprise and puzzlement when she heard the Congressman citing the Bible. Her smile quickly (and prudently) vanished and she buried her head once again in what she was previously doing (Facebook, email, etc.).

12:34 PM  
Anonymous Susan W. said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

A good interview and you covered a lot of ground. When the mosque at 9/11 farce was in full swing I happened to watch a panel discussion on CNN of four people. One was a construction worker who refused to work on the mosque (so get another job), one the sister of a man killed on 9/11 (not a spokesperson for any group), and the other two the usual mealymouthed, one right-wing, one left wing commentators. There was no real discussion--the worker and sister sounded like the old Chatty Cathy dolls that repeat the same 17 sentences over and over. Nobody asked any questions that required thoughtful answers. I thought at the time, what a difference if we had intelligent discussions by qualified people rather than this pathetic debate. Where were the Dr. Bermans, Chomskys, Hedges on these panels? Ignored, denounced,and marginalized.

There's a good article in Truthout today by Henry Giroux: In the Twilight of the Social State: Rethinking Walter Benjamin's Angel of History. He wrote about the underlying suspicion and hostility that has been exposed as the social matrix collapses but I can tell he hasn't faced the fact that it can't be saved anymore.

I hope you've got more interviews scheduled and you're able to visit upstate NY occasionally--it sounds like you might miss it.

4:46 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


It might have been bupkis, which would have been appropriate. I tell u, once u realize the country is basically a collection of douche bags, u get beyond the pt of being surprised at anything, and political analysis becomes a whole lot easier. I recall a bumper sticker that said, "You Can't Fix Stupid". That's the core of the problem, really. And yet I wait in vain for an article by Hedges or whoever entitled, "Heads Rammed in Rumps," or something in that vein. Meanwhile, I've been looking around for a subtitle for my forthcoming book, "The Roots of American Failure," and wonder if "Four Hundred Years of Unmitigated Douchebaggery" might not be just the rt touch. (Can u.c. it now, on display tables at B&N?)


6:20 PM  
Blogger Neb said...

Dr B. says: "You Can't Fix Stupid".

Not 100% sure Einstein said this,

"The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits."

Which causes me to doubt, for myself that, "... u get beyond the pt of being surprised at anything"

I think there is a vast universe of stupid and inhuman acts yet to be unleashed on each other and the earth. To think, this is a culture in love with the notion of vampires.

So Kelvin, Sue, Joe, Dr B, If there is a doltmeter or something on this blog perhaps there should be a standard bearing dolt event (simple and obvious) for reference.

8:45 PM  
Blogger Neb said...


I was raised in NY. It's beautiful. Glad to see windfarms in west NY last summer.

Also, bought 2 of QofV. Passed one on. That person called me today, "I can't believe someone is writing and thinking about this! I actually don't feel so insane anymore! This is great!"

Who knows, 4201 by Ken Rose caluculs?

8:56 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


The one consistent comment I've received from readers over the years, beginning with "The Reenchantment of the World," has been: This book made me feel less weird. (Or) This made me feel that being weird was OK.

Looking back, I think it was at around age 7 that I discovered that I had nothing in common with anyone around me. Or to put it another way, it seemed to me that everyone around me believed the same things, and that I didn't.

I have my 50th high schl reunion coming up in 18 mos., and I can't decide whether or not to go (I've never been to one b4).


9:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Someone mentioned Henry Giroux. This article hits education reform right on the head. As a 11 year teacher in a public high school, I am not sure that I will survive the future "purges" in our school. Most schools will show senior teachers to the door to hire much cheaper, new teachers. Everything in America is about money. (key concept) This will repeat every few years. Very upsetting, and I used to feel smug having tenure, being able to watch the collapse, but now looking into driving taxis in Copenhagen if my students don't do well on standardized tests while they are in my class. Dr. Berman, you were right about telling people to leave. I felt secure as a tenured teacher, but the ground is shifting. They wealthy have won!

9:47 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

The part of the interview that got to me was that the US should simply "go down gracefully" by giving people a break, letting them have more fulfilling lives,allow people to live a gracious life. Yes, that would be a wonderful thing but as Kevin pointed out, the new Republican controlled House is, in a word, insane. In about a year's time millions will not only have no unemployment insurance but food stamps will also be drastically cut leaving people with truly nothing to live on. In other words we are about to enter a time of immense meaness.We are about to enter a time of immense meaness. Parenthetically, everytime I see pictures of squatter communities or people living in the most sordid conditions, I still see them flying the American flag. I mean how deluded can you get?
A new book says that inequality int the US is leading to high rates of violent crime, heart disease, drug use and teenage pregnancy. But why did a new book need to point this out? Marx wrote about the same things in his species essays published in the 1840s. But of course the name Marx is forbidden within American political discourse so we have to read the same ideas in psycho-babble form. I hope, Dr. Berman, that you cite Marx extensively in your new book. The NY Times will probably not review it anyway, so you might as well cite Marx and other leftist writers from years past who saw all to well the inherent contradictions of Capitalism. Anyway, it was a great interview though Mr. Burns is a little slow on the uptake and you were indeed gracious throughout.

11:28 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I specifically asked my publisher not to send a copy of the new book (i.e., the one coming out in August) to the NYT. All that cd do is hurt me. The review of the Twilight book ridiculed it; the review of DAA was a hatchet job, never even addressed the content, and then the editors refused to print my reply (see "Letter to the Times," 16 June 2006, in the archives on this blog). I very much hope that this time around, they'll simply ignore my work. As far as Marx goes, I am a follower of both Karl and Groucho, in equal measure.


I agree w/u: it's game over. But then, Mr. Obama has said (in the wake of Lloyd Blankfein giving himself a $9m bonus) that Americans believe in the free enterprise system, and don't begrudge anyone getting rich. Given his great maturity, and his obvious commitment to justice and equality, I think it makes sense to listen to his wise counsel.


12:41 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...


I live in New Jersey, where our new governor Chris Christie has singled out teachers as The Enemy & is doing his best to strip them of any remaining shreds of dignity, respect & protection. And as you note, the only thing that matters is monetary value, i.e., turning out productive, narrowly skilled drones who don't think about anything.

No doubt you've heard about the publisher who's bowdlerizing The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Here's a thoughtful blog that examines the entire concept of whitewashing literature & history:



Speaking of Marx, I happened to catch Jeopardy the other night, and one of the categories was Karl Marx. The 3 contestants were all college graduates, yet none could come up with the answers to even the most basic questions on this topic, e.g. "Workers of the world, you have nothing to lose but your ________."

But my wife & I have both noticed that there's almost always a biblical category at least once a week, and that many categories are essentially product placement now, outright ads. At one point Alex Trebek commented to a contestant who'd bought his father a new TV, "Let's hope it was a Sony." (Guess who sponsors the program?)

And bringing things back around to NJ, when we turn on the local news channel for the weather in the morning, we can see the "Toyota School Pick Up/Drop Off Weather" segment. Also helpful if you're driving by the PNC Bank Arts Center, I'm sure ... since everything & everyone is corporate property now, why not come right out & say it?

8:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Prof. Berman,

I’d like to wish you a great New Year and mention my gratitude for this blog, your interviews and of course your books. Really, I appreciate everyone on this board and have enjoyed the back channel correspondence as well.

I listened to your interview with Ken Rose and really liked it. One thing that struck me about the interview with him is he wasn’t trying to patch up or fix the message. What a relief.

I was also interested to hear you’re from Rochester as I’m originally from the Finger lakes area around Seneca Lake. I have to say that the landscape there has continued to influence me in ways that I are not always easy to articulate.

That gentle horizontalness curving into lakeviews without end, those drifts of snow and wind erasing everything only to suggest again.

Somehow, that is what your nomadic spirituality is about and the importance of wandering as a path.

With deep gratitude for everyone here - being out there, where so few want to be.

¡Adelante Compañeros!

El Juero

8:25 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Yer last message was too long to post. Please compress by 50% and resend.


10:16 AM  
Anonymous Dave said...


"Looking back, I think it was at around age 7 that I discovered that I had nothing in common with anyone around me. Or to put it another way, it seemed to me that everyone around me believed the same things, and that I didn't."

I love that. Thank you, especially for the second sentence which describes my life, in a way.

When I was 5 my mother gave me one of those typical birthday parties on the lawn. Lots of kids, games, food, the whole thing. (She loved to tell this story.) When the party was over I went to her and said, "Mama, don't ever do that again."

1:11 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


So you and I wound up freaks, and the rest of the country gets its 'spirituality' from Oprah.


1:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I know all about Christie in New Jersey. He was portrayed as a tough talking, realist on "60 Minutes." The elites have turned the remnants of the middle class against unions and pensions (envy). The normal Americans working at Walmart should be asking for same protections and benefits. Just fantastic! All of these bad teachers are just holding back those kids who just want to learn! They are so hungry for knowledge... I would love to be paid based on how well my kids do on standardized tests. We are going to be the first country in history to grade the teachers on how the kids do on tests. Hmmh...America is so innovative! Other countries judge the kids on how they do on tests.. Oh well, I guess I just don't understand these "new" methods of education. We are just so advanced!

9:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dan said: Parenthetically, everytime I see pictures of squatter communities or people living in the most sordid conditions, I still see them flying the American flag. I mean how deluded can you get?

Good point and it is psycho really. Those camps seriously ought to think about putting up some Cuban or Venezuelan flags....that would get attention.

The disconnects are too great to bridge really. John Boehner getting sentimental and "crying about the American kids" while fighting tooth and nail any reasonable health care legislation, jobs program, housing assistance etc..

Super nutty.

Anon - good points on the current obsession w/ teachers unions and testing teachers vs. the kids.

El Juero

3:54 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Compress it 50% and resend, thanx.


3:28 PM  
Blogger Russ said...

Well, I enjoyed my Scotch, though you were kind of a downer. But I'm looking forward to the new book, and I'm digging around in the archived shows of What Now.

9:13 PM  
Anonymous Kelvin said...


I experimented with social capital on my morning walk and found that of the five people I encountered one produced a null result--he was completely engrossed in raking leaves--and two greeted me. The remaining two were unforthcoming: an elderly woman raking leaves grimaced in response to my "good morning" and an elderly gentleman walking his property snorted, coughed, and expectorated thus preempting a conversation I would have liked with him about two golden-red hawks I was observing.

The greeters: a young man with long hair driving a pickup truck who waved at me first, and a jogger--with long hair too--who said "how's it goin'" in response to my "howdy." (Maybe "hippies" are friendlier).

Still, 50% postive social capital today!

10:29 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Doctor, did you see the artical in Alernet about hordes of American/Canadian lowlifes invading Mexico? They seem to be an assortment of scam artists, end of world doomists (is there such a word?)or just people who, in A.Ginsburg's phrase, "saw it all and bade farewell" (Howl). I'm sure you can't wait to converse with those morons.
Getting to the interview, yes it is truly amazing for Obama to pick the same people who brought on the collapse of 2008 and today , in fact, brought in 2 more Clinton retreads. You did mention that it does appear that he has no idea what to do to so I suppose in that light these appointments make a kind of cruel sense.
Interestingly, Obama's mother worked for Geitner's father in Indonesia for a time. That could at least explain some of the loyalty Obama has for little Timothy.
I did happen to listen to an interview with Henry Giroux on the same Ken Rose program and he is indeed one of the progressives you talk about that still believes that things could change in the US if there were a vital 3rd party. I could hear the desperation in his voice but as you say,"game over". I teach in a school that is surely the antithesis of everything Giroux stands for and there is not a movement in sight to rectify any part of it. The power, in fact, is invisible which makes the present situation only more frightening.

10:45 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Careful w/the new bk, then; you might wanna kill yerself. You've got until August to make out a will and get yer affairs in order, etc.


Only article on that subject I cd find on Alternet was from March 2009, nearly 2 yrs ago. Things may have changed since then, as the explosion of drug wars has probably scared many Americans off.


3:41 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

It's called: American (and Canadian)"Expats Gone Wild" by Louis Nevaer in the Jan.4, 2011 Alternet.org. Much the same has happened in Thailand where I intend to move ASAP.

10:09 AM  
Anonymous Art said...

Kelvin, and friends:

Social capital on the beach...I live on the east coast of Florida; when I walk on the beach, most people just put their heads down as they pass on by. But several years ago, I spent some time on the west coast of Florida (Sarasota), and everything was different. Not only friendly greetings from beachwalkers, but people in shops and restaurants were happy to strike up a conversation with you. What was going on here? A person I met in an art gallery offered this geographical explanation: the waves from the Atlantic Ocean pound the shoreline; this encourages people to feel enervated and be frenetic in their movement. On the other hand, the waves on the Gulf of Mexico gently lap upon the shore; people feel more relaxed and more capable of slowing down. Interesting theory, but doesn't explain why they drive like maniacs in Sarasota.

2:52 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Here's a wonderful book I've read several times over the last twenty years, and more times than any other book I've ever read except "Re-enchantment of the World."

It's by the naturalist Lyall Watson, known for "Supernature," "Lifetide," and "The Romeo Error." It is called "Gifts of Unknown Things." Unlike the academic tone of most of his writing, this one is a prsonal narrative, along the lines of Loren Eiseley's "The Unexpected Universe." It reads like a non-fiction novel.

It begins with thousands of luminescent squid around a boat responding (to his observation of them) as a single organism, and ends with a community transformation on an Indonesian island through a magical dance-as-alchemy performance by a young girl illustrating the premise of "Re-enchantment."

It's a lot more relaxing to read than John Gray's "Black Mass," and illustrates the conflict between indigenous eastern religion and the highly teleological Muslim structure governing the island society. The dancer pulls of a transcendent power play in an egoless way.

I highly recommend it to feed the germ of faith in humanity that most of us have left, or at least the wonder of the natural world from which we sprung. You can get it through Amazon.

1:39 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

I went back to listen to your interview of 2006 with Michael Krasny and you were certainly prophetic. Yes, you seemed to feel that a democrat would be the next president but that he would govern like a Republican and events have certainly bore that out. You did mention that the US would have a Suez moment and I ask you if you think the US losing in Iraq and Afganistan constitutes it Suez moment. Also, I did read Krugman and Wells piece in the NYT Book Reviews and one feels their exasperation with Obama. The question I have is why any democrat in good conscience would or could even think of supporting him again. He did not restore habeas corpus, reserves the right to assassinate Americans abroad, and hold people in indefinite detention. Finally, in light of the shooting in Arizona, I am reminded of Gore Vidal's line that 3rd world debt leads to 3rd world politics. Our barbarity abroad is coming home.

11:57 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


As for the Suez moment, it hasn't happened yet. Like Rome, we seem to be dying the "death of 1000 cuts," which--as in the case of England--will finally add up. But the public 'end' of the empire, in no uncertain terms, is still down the rd. As for Democrats and Obama etc: keep in mind that the American people don't care about habeas corpus or indefinite detention; in fact, I doubt that more than 2% of the American public could say what habeas corpus actually means (or even know that it is a Latin phrase).


8:52 AM  
Anonymous Kelvin said...

A Dr. Berman mentioned, Germany's taking a "show me" stance toward the U.S. during the Iraq War was in the spirit of a Suez moment, but it was only a cut. We still have the cultural lag to save us from having our bluff called and our T-Bills redeemed.

12:54 PM  
Anonymous Kelvin said...


And to think that a morning's walk is only one activity among many that involve social captital! If I'm receiving 50% or less social capital in all my activities, well, welcome lonely American!

You'd think that if people were slowed down and relaxed they'd be less fearful and more inclined to reach out to others if only to say "howdy." So, like you, I don't buy the geographical explanation.

It's funny, but the thought that moving to another country would make me happier was always nixed in my mind by the thought that I'd just be taking my miseries elsewhere, that somehow it's how I am and not my environment that's making me unhappy. Of course, it's probably a combination of the two. But one way to stay miserable is to believe that it's all one's fault. American's beat themselves up if they haven't made their first million by the time they're 30.

1:04 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


The truth is that sometimes, geographical cures do work!


3:43 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

So the big debate is whether the Arizona shooter was just crazy or politically crazy. But of course as you pointed out in your essay Massacre at CNN, the real culprit is how American society is constructed. So now we have 30,000 people killed by guns every year, there are 90 guns for every 100 people (highest percentage in the world, and 200,000 gun related injuries annually and everyone wonders if Palin is responsible for this shooting. Not one commentator, left or right, has the courage or perhaps the understanding to equally blame the culture that spawns such outrages on a near weekly basis.

9:53 PM  
Anonymous Paul said...


I wonder even if the media were to tell the truth - that it's the culture - it wouldn't make much difference. I think people choose to live in this muck for a variety of reasons - mostly irrational (probably because irrationality is the norm). It's a sick culture because the people are all insane on some level. They've either been willingly allowed to be conditioned or unknowingly forced into a perpetuating cycle of abuse. Watch the documentary: Human Resources: 'Social Engineering in the 20th Century'. (avail-on Y'tube) Many examples of just how obsessed we are with violence and the justification for it. Has science provided us a better life? Depends who's benefiting and who's on the receiving end and to what end justifying the means. In reality not much has changed since medieval times much less beyond that - historically speaking... just the methods.

Insanity breeds insanity. Living humanely is a conscious and deliberate act and there are relatively few who live awakened lives. Most are just trying to survive amidst the insanity without getting too caught up in it.

4:52 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Thanks for the reply, Paul. But there has to be an angle why the media won't hit upon the USA is simply a very sick society. And my guess is that such a line has no commercial value. The media loves the Punch and Judy show called national politics and such an event as Arizona helps fuel the "faux" duel. For instance,both the Tea Party and Senator Sanders from Vermont are using the event to ask supporters for campaign contributions. Then I read how Arizonians are flocking to gun shops to buy the same type of gun as the shooter used. CNN did report that some right wing groups are planning to picket some of the funerals and all they could say is that such actions are in "poor taste." In other words, so long as people can gain some advantage either political and/or economic then the country will never come to exorcise its demons. "Game over" as the good doctor often reminds us, won't fly on Madison Ave.

12:00 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I think it's also the case that the media don't really view the US as a sick society. Again, a 'question of values'. They just see the US as having a few problems that need to be sorted out. Which I regard as deluded, but then consider how they regard me (NYT bk rev of DAA, e.g.). But mostly, they don't regard me, or the whole Hedges-Chomsky crew, at all. The New Yorker recently dismissed Hedges' latest bk as a 'rant'; which is what the NYT called DAA. At bottom, I think they have a real terror that we might be right; but for the most part, I believe they genuinely see the US, and this way of life, as basically 'sound'. Thus the crash of 2008 is widely seen as 'accidental', or the product of the greed of 'a few bad apples'. It is never seen as systemic. As Chris Hedges says, we live in an empire of illusion. The results of that will, however, become increasingly clear as time goes on.


6:56 AM  
Anonymous Kelvin said...

Hi Paul,

You said "In reality not much has changed since medieval times much less beyond that - historically speaking... just the methods."

I've thought that if a rigorous study of the "cure" rate of medicine in the Middle Ages and Renaissance were compared to the "cure" rate of modern medicine, it might be discovered that they're the same when you factor in the debilitating (and sometimes lethal) "side-effects" of modern pharmaceuticals.

A heretical thought that I can't help thinking sometimes when I see people suffering from "side-effects."

I also sometimes think that the Civil Rights movement was largely cosmetic and racism and apartheid are alive and kickin' in the U.S.

12:13 PM  
Anonymous Art said...

Dear Friends,

I think we can all agree that we live in a sick society. And as the famed psychiatrist, R.D. Laing, noted: "Insanity--a perfectly rational adjustment to an insane world." So it doesn't look good for us.

Kelvin: I don't know this for a fact, but I wouldn't be surprised to learn that most people with cancer die from medical treatment, rather than the cancer itself.

For emotional/social suffering, at least, a "geographical cure" may be our best bet. (Too much alcohol is the usual alternative).

5:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Morris,

Great interview. Thanks! A few things: 1) What's the Dworkin piece you mention in which he seems to concede that it's over 2) If you had money, what would you do with it to help people through the collapse (before, during, and after)? Buy good land? 3) Do you think Mexico City will be a good place to be when the collapse happens?? I should think Mexico would be devastated...no? If not, where?

(I shouldn't have watched that Orlov vid ;-)

Dan W

12:33 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dan W-

1. Dworkin's short essay is in "The Historic Election," New York Rev of Bks, 9 Dec 2010.

2. No idea. Besides, I'll never have $.

3. The 'collapse' is already in progress; you are seeing it rt now. Of course there will be nodes, like Oct. 2008 or 9/11; but for the most part, as in ancient Rome, one day is like another--just a tad worse. Rome didn't fall on 4 pm Aug 8 A.D. 476; it took a while.


8:52 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...


R. D. Laing's work is looking more & more pertinent each day, isn't it?

I find it interesting how the prevailing models of mental health mirror the current worldview. In the 1960s, the emphasis was on the effects & pervasive influence of society & its norms, and the need to develop & maintain an authentic self in the face of enormous pressures to conform. In the 1980s, the parody of "personal responsibility" was ushered in, pretty much letting society off the hook, and the mental health model become more of, "you're on your own." If anything, blaming the victim became the prevailing model. Not only that, but being a victim became desirable. It's a strange paradox: people now proclaim how everyone else has abused & shaped them ... yet they deny that claim to anyone else, and blame them for not taking control of their own lives. "I own my (fill in the blank). I'm noble for doing so. But if you say the same thing, you're avoiding personal responsibility."

A war of each against all ...

9:45 AM  
Blogger took_the_red_pill said...

Thanks for posting your talk with Ken Rose. In the spirit of this interview, I thought I would share a recent article by Joe Bageant that I discovered: "America: Y Ur Peeps B So Dum?". After reading his work and hearing a few interviews with him, I really have to wonder if he reads your books, particularly "Dark Ages".

Here's a link to the Bageant article:

America: Y Ur Peeps B So Dum?

You also mentioned Paul Stiles' book "Is the American Dream Killing You?". Your readers might like to hear an interview that Stiles did on ABC Australia in 2008:

Paul Stiles interview

Both Stiles and Bageant have been repeatedly interviewed in the Australian media, but are ignored here. Not surprisingly, neither one lives here anymore. Last I heard, Stiles was living in Scotland and Bageant was in Mexico.

7:30 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dear Pill,

Yeah, that's rt. I've communicated directly w/Paul, indirectly w/Joe. Joe does know of my work, so perhaps some ideas of DAA filtered into his own writing, I dunno. But I admire what he's tried to do. Paul is def happy to be outta the US.

I tried to talk my publisher into titling my 3rd America bk, "Verily, Their Heads Are Rammed Up Their Asses, and They Roll Around Like Doughnuts," but he wasn't having it. Some folks can be so uptight.


11:17 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Greetings to MB and the Forty-Two Plus,

Here is something I stumbled on many years ago. It resonated with me, and I think it will with all of you to. It is from "The Dialogues of Alfred North Whitehead" as recorded by Lucien Price (1954 -- Boston: Little Brown). It is from a conversation which took place in July 1943, and I send it without introducing myself and with comment, otherwise this whole furshlugginer thing will be too long:

"One of the great fallacies of American thinking," said Whitehead, "is that human worth is constituted by a particular set of aptitudes which lead to economic advancement. This is not true at all. Two thirds of the people who can make money are mediocre; and at least one half of them are morally at a low level. As a whole, they are vastly inferior to other types who are not animated by the economic motives; I mean the artists, and teachers, and professional people who do work which they love for its own sake and earn about enough to get along on. This habitual elevation of the type of ability that leads to economic advancement is one of the worst mistakes in your American thinking and needs to be unceasingly corrected by people who speak to the public as you do."

Some of it, I said, was a hangover from our pioneering days when the subduing of this continent (sic) did take courage and ability.

"Yes," said Mrs. Whitehead, "but even there, a fine distinction must be drawn. The swollen fortunes were seldom made by the pioneers; they were made by the men who came after."

"The mischief of elevating the type that has the aptitude for economic advancement," said Whitehead, "is that it denies the superior forms of aptitude which exist in quite humble people. Who shall say that to live kindly and graciously and meet one's problems bravely from day to day is not a great art, or that those who can do it are not great artists? Aesthetics are understood in too restricted a sense. People who can live beautifully in humble environments have a most advanced understanding of aesthetics -- compared with which the ability to paint pictures on canvas," (he did so in dumb show) "delightful as that may be, is a rudimentary form."

"You confirm me in a glow I often feel when meeting my neighbours on the village street, the carpenter, the postman, the lobster fisherman -- their goodness and geniality warm me to my marrow, and I smile inwardly, thinking 'Life comes before literature.'"

I'll write again soon,
David Rosen

9:51 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


A couple of pts to help u in the future:

1. Your message came thru 27 times. I actually was able to understand it the 1st time; no need for multiple postings.

2. Keep in short, if you wd. Abt half the length of what you posted wd be much appreciated.

Thanx, and catch u on the Net.


11:59 AM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

Sorry about the multiple postings. Every time I tried to post my message, I got pop-ups and windows that led me to believe that my attempt was not working. So – I tried again a different way. Now I know better.

David Rosen

12:50 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Not to worry; I survived. Tho I shd tell u that whenever anybody gives me all that deleting work, as compensation they usually fly me in a large platter of chopped liver. U can arrange this with the Stage Deli on 7th Ave betw 52 and 53 Sts. Thanks.


6:34 PM  
Anonymous Art said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

The chopped liver at the Stage Deli is $12.95, and that's before overnight shipping charges. And, according to their website, they only ship within the continental US.

May I suggest Katz's Delicatessen, on the Lower East Side, instead? Their chopped liver is only $7.70, and they ship world-wide. I hope this helps!

8:14 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Personally, I believe that having one's finger on the prices of chopped liver in the Greater NY Area is a sure sign of Huge Talent and probably a Brilliant Career. I need to add that ca. 8 May 2010 I devoured a platter of chopped liver at Lansky's, Columbus and 71st St., and it came to a total of $6. (As to whether they fly their product to small towns in Mexico, I have no idea.) Still, there's something abt the ambience of the Stage Deli that keeps pulling me back.


12:10 AM  
Anonymous Susan W. said...

Dear Dr. Berman,


Thanks for the conversation you quoted from Whitehead. I've observed the same thing and the people I've admired the most have often been those who were able to cheerfully go about their business, often in modest circumstances, and had no delusions of self-importance or great ambitions. And that's no small accomplishment either but there don't seem to be as many as there used to be.

I read an article by Joe Bageant a couple of years ago where he quoted Dr.Berman directly but I don't remember the title of the article. It seems people who pay attention are all coming to the same conclusion---America has made too many mistakes, sold what very little integrity and compassion it used to have to pursue money, empire and influence and now the foot's on the accelerator--heading to the cliff.

6:15 AM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...


Joe Bageant sites Dr. Berman in "The Audacity of Depression" (April 04, 2008) on his website.

Right now I'm stuck on a little farm not far from Kalona, Iowa caring for my 99 year old mother who has Alzheimer's. I'm happy to report that around here there still are quite a few of those who, as you say, are "able to cheerfully go about their business, often in modest circumstances, and (have) no delusions of self-importance or great ambitions." The problem is that most of them are very old since there is no future here for young people and most of the children and grandchildren are scattered all over the map.

Dr. Berman,

Well, there you have it -- I left Brooklyn in 1971, and about all I could send you from Iowa is a loaf of Wonder Bread. One thing I can say about Iowans is that they tend to be conservative, but not reactionary. I never thought there was a difference until I got here. For example, Iowa and Vermont have the highest percentage of their children covered by health insurance thanx to state programs. Also, people here seem to get along without needing to find an enemy to hate and to blame their troubles on. It is still pretty much white-bread-land though.

7:02 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Well, I dunno how serious I was about airlifting chopped liver to Mexico. But thank u for telling us abt yer situation...I really appreciate it when participants in this blog let everyone know who they are, and what they are doing.


9:53 PM  

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