October 25, 2011

Berman Speaks; Millions Riot

In the wake of a 40-minute interview with Morris Berman on KPFT-FM in Houston last night, riots broke out in a number of cities across the country. In New York, OWS protesters flooded the offices of several major banks, hauling off the CEOs and shipping them out to The Hague, where they now await trials before the World Court for financial war crimes. The NYPD assisted enthusiastically in this effort, pepper spraying the bank officials before beating them senseless, while yelling, "We are servants of the people, not the ruling class." Meanwhile, protesters in Zuccotti Park unveiled a number of interesting banners, including the following:

-LLOYD BLANKFEIN'S HEAD LOOKS LIKE KIM KARDASHIAN'S ASS
-IF U OWN A CELL PHONE URA JACKASS
-VIVA ZAPATA
-RIDDLEY WALKER WAS RIGHT
-LOOK WHAT THEY DID TO MY BRAIN, MA
-PROCOL HARUM FOR PRESIDENT
-STAGE DELI, WE LOVE U
-MOST AMERICANS HAVE GROUND CHUCK IN THEIR HEADS

For those of you who missed this earth-shaking broadcast, here is the link:

HTTP://archive.kpft.org/mp3/kpft_111024_190009monitor.mp3

Please note that the Revolution will not be televised.

Thank you and good night.

98 Comments:

Anonymous Rossana said...

Brilliant post and great interview!

6:54 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Dr. Berman—

Re: KPFT, Houston

Very, very good interview, even during their pledge drive. They could have offered more than FIVE copies of WAF as fund raising give-aways! In any case, it would have nice if they had given you even a few minutes to respond to all the junk they dumped on you at the end. As Ken Rose said in your last interview with him, We take what we can get in this world."

David Rosen

6:58 PM  
Anonymous David M said...

Dr. Berman
I listened to your interview and thought it was outstanding. I was indisposed earlier so I hope they don't start the revolution without me.

9:11 PM  
Anonymous DiogenesTheElder said...

Received WAF today and am starting it this evening. Looking forward to being part of the conversation.

9:56 PM  
Anonymous Kelvin said...

Hi Maury,

Bravo! Great and insightful interview. I was particularly pleased with your analysis of OWS and the parallel you drew with the 1930s strikes that were violent and yet were bought off. Coincidentally, I received my copy of WAF today, so the synergy is building: O & D. The revolution has been broadcast!

10:10 PM  
Anonymous walkin and laughin said...

Good interview Dr. B.

Thought I would tell yet another story of American heads up rumps. Just this morning I was walking to work and I was standing in a crosswalk waiting to cross the road. Now in St. Paul it is the law that cars stop for peds in the crosswalk and someone (eventually) did, but the woman behind her went ballistic on the person that stopped ... then on me to have the audacity to impede her for 30 seconds! Even better, her argument was that I wasn't in a crosswalk! I just stood there pointing at the giant yellow sign while she spend at least 5 minutes yelling out her window, impeding traffic the whole time.

If I was in a better mood, I probably would have laughed the whole farce.

God get me out of your so-called blessed country.

9:12 AM  
Blogger James said...

Listened to the interview. Wish there was more time for in-depth discussion and maybe some vitriolic call-ins, but at least you could get some people interested in picking up your book. I would really like to have you asking questions at the next Republican presidential debate. Rick Perry could pull out his hangman's noose or brandish his Ruger LCP and shoot you like a dangerous coyote.

It feels good to be the “Big Dog.” Research indicates that those placing high in the dominance hierarchy have more D2 dopamine receptors and naturally feel much better than their inferior cohorts. The Armani suit, Gucci loafers and cashmere topcoat, well.................let's face it, it just feels good, especially if most of the dross around you can't afford the trappings of superiority.

Of course, for a price, America's retailers can help you deceive your friends and acquaintances with all of the bling you can afford. It just feels good and the good thing for American retailers is that there is no limit to how good you can feel. Noted study also indicates that those Americans that perceive themselves inferior (helped by retailers advertising) may turn to drugs and alcohol (and corn syrup) to make up for pleasure deficiency related to social inferiority.

Too bad there's a hangover after buying all of that social status, like bankruptcy. If you are poor and without credit, a tattoo competition with your equally deranged friends may have to suffice. So take your Paxil and get out there you bunch of losers, your just one hustle away from making the big time.

http://www.aaas.org/news/releases/2011/
0808sacnas_volkow.shtml

9:25 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jas-

Well, that explains my addiction to corn syrup. Thank u for clearing that up. Oh, and my bicep tattoo says "Live To Ride, Ride To Live." I love it.

Walkin-

u.c.? We really do need a HRIR T-Shirt. I tell u, when you live rt in it, it's hard to recognize the high level of aggression present in 'ordinary' American interactions. I recall walking across a street nr. my old neighborhood in San Fran a few yrs ago, apparently not fast enuf for some well-suited guy in a BMW (abt 30 yrs old), shaking his fist at me. Clearly, a man on the move, climbing the ladder of 'success'. What dementia!

mb

10:52 AM  
Anonymous Lorien said...

Ha! Made my day. I'll be listening to the interview as soon as I can download it to my cell phone (just kidding)...

11:33 AM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Dr. Berman--

I hope that all the protests WILL stimulate interest in your new book. A lot of Americans, both on the left and right are not too long on the logic, and an undetermined number of the protesters seem to be hoping that they will force the power elite to pull a rabbit out of the hat and restore the American Dream for them. That's the one thing your America books don’t do. Hopefully, WAF will move some of them to question the American Dream.

As 'W' was holding pep rallies for the invasion of Iraq, I told a colonel in the National Guard (who later ended up over there), "You’ll brush the Iraqi army aside and get to Bagdad in short order – you're good at that. Then the hard part will begin – and that you're not good at!" Well, it's the same thing here – if OWS protesters do realize that the American Dream has always been the American Nightmare (or, as you say, that the pie is rotten), then comes the really hard part. As I have said before, we're starting from zero. How many Americans can comprehend what 'human wellbeing', as opposed to what we call 'wealth', really is?

You were absolutely right when you said that our power elite is very good at buying off protest movements. Maybe we should see the following headline as a 'first offer':

"Obama acts to ease burden of student loans"

By the way, I also told that colonel, "You'll end up killing thousands of Iraqis, every one of whom means just as much to somebody as your son does to you."

David Rosen

11:35 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Meanwhile, there's this (HRIR Dept.):

http://money.cnn.com/2011/10/26/news/economy/occupy_wall_street_backlash/index.htm?hpt=hp_t1

11:46 AM  
Anonymous Ray said...

All this makes me think of one of the few really brilliant (and short) posts among the normally insane comments at James Howard Kunstler's blog, to wit:

"...Recipe: Take one nation full of easy to get resources, marinate in exceptionalism. Mix in slavery (may substitute non-English speaking immigrants). Add an ocean of corn syrup and a sea of liquor, grill in front of TV for 60 years. Remove health care and jobs and set aside. Frost with Corporate puffery. Caution: this dish will be hot! Serves all of us right..."

1:12 PM  
Blogger Patrick D. Fitzgerald said...

I can't even begin to understand how the gentleman representing the 53% is missing the idea that "government handouts" is probably #1 in the minds of the OWS protesters--but who is receiving them?

Another ex-military serviceman had a similar notebook paper statement, and he was proud of working 60 hours per week and not having have health insurance. Why is he proud of this? Blind faith in the "virtue" of hard work as an end in and of itself is something I have never understood. I understand the judeo-christian tradition of hard work as virtue and sloth as mortal sin, but I simply do not buy it as something worthwhile.

1:35 PM  
Blogger Russ said...

WAF arrived yesterday in the mail, but my wife forgot to tell me. I love her anyway, but quite a test.

Not to beat a dead horse, but for my money (which ain't much), here's the most gag-worthy take on Jobs:

http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/10/26/short-takes-are-we-turning-steve-jobs-into-a-saint/

"Is it accurate to speak of Steve Jobs as a saint? Probably not." That's the best a freaking Jesuit can do, "probably not"???

2:14 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Russ-

Well, u might think abt divorce.

As for that Turkey (S.J.) who wrote abt Jobs as a saint: yes, I read that article. What a moron (S.J.).

Patrick-

What these folks don't get is that of the 47% who don't pay taxes, the majority are corporations using loopholes. HRIR--we need those T-Shirts, and soon.

Ray-

Again, T-Shirts badly needed. 310 million people w/their heads rammed up their rumps, rolling around like doughnuts, their free hands clutching cell phones and Prozac bottles. Oh yeah, we're in for big social change on the horizon, quite soon.

mb

2:51 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

DR-

I didn't post yer last message because I'm a little concerned abt making sure no one person gets too much 'air time'. Yr comments are always great, on the mark; but I need u to thin it out a bit, if that's OK, because there is a danger of other people not coming forward when 2 or 3 people tend to dominate the discussion. I hope u don't mind, but I really want to get the rest of the DAA100 (we've grown in size, as it turns out) out of the woodwork and onto the screen. I hope you'll understand. Maybe compress it a bit, send it again in a day or so.

*Thanks*

mb

10:20 PM  
Anonymous Valis74 said...

I think the commotion they thought was a riot was me running through my neighborhood at midnight on Monday night shouting "Chopped Liver is coming! Chopped Liver is coming!"


When the new book gets officially released, will the DAA100 need a new name? The WAF100 or The WAFers...

12:13 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Val-

WAF is, in fact, officially released (or at least, available on Amazon; and apparently on sale at B&N Westwood in LA). So I call on all DAA-ers to submit possibilities for what u wish to be called in the future. Some possibilities:

-WAFERS
-Eucharisti (= wafers)
-Shock Troops for Christ (in the spirit of Eucharisti)
-The Deli 100
-Wiley Coyotes
-The Narodniki

The floor is open.

mb

12:35 AM  
Anonymous Art said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

inspired by Creedence Clearwater Revival:

the (un)Fortunate One(hundred)

1:03 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Art-

Ay! How depressing! I prefer The Magnificent 100. Which is probably a lot more accurate.

mb

1:29 AM  
Anonymous Art said...

Yeah, we're not the unfortunate ones; we're fortunate in the sense that we can see through the game, and have a desire to live in a different way. So...

The Fortunate 100
(also a play on the Fortune 500)

2:04 AM  
Anonymous Zosima said...

Great interview, I only wish you were given more time. You brought up several interesting themes. America on a moral mission, a chosen people, a city on a hill. These ideas as deeply embedded or programed into the mind. As is the hustler culture that pervades nearly all endeavors. And the notion that Americans will acknowledge no limits, only infinity.
This all brought to mind some reading I’ve been doing on certain cultures that originated in the Eastern Mediterranean and Arabian Peninsula and have come to dominate much of the globe. It was here that a great hustle, perhaps the greatest, originated. It is one that sells the story of the nonexistent, the invisible, and promises people that if they believe in it, then they will be a chosen people and part or the great shinning city on a hill and that they will live forever (infinity) , while marginalizing (burning at the stake) the alternative tradition (the heathen, the apostate, those who can’t or won’t believe). The evidence seems to indicate that the places that fall for this hustle tend to have societies with the highest levels of degradation. Your comments have reinforced in me that getting rid of this hustle should be the first priority for people want to see an end to the kind of degradation we see here in America and elsewhere. What do you think?

2:57 AM  
Anonymous David M said...

DR Berman
Proud to be a FORTUNATE 100.

Zosima
I agree with you about getting rid of the hustle. Isaiah Berlin wrote that inorder to understand another's culture one must step out of his own and enter theirs. In this case one must remove oneself and take a hard look from the outside. It would be very difficult to get the American people to do this.

10:14 AM  
Anonymous Mark Notzon said...

A brief note to say WAF arrived today, and just one of the brighter bits that caught my eye on first skim was:

"In the United States, everything works, but nothing works; in Mexico, nothing works, but everything works out."

How well stated, and how well this also applies to much of my experience in West Africa and Indonesia! You qualify with "For the most part, this is true," and, sometimes yes, it is true, and sometimes only "for most part;" nonetheless the statement itself is true wit--a thought often thought, as the poet said, but "ne'er so well expressed."

A traditional Javanese proverb goes "Life is a pause on a journey towards a cup of tea." When I first heard this translated I thought it should be "Life is a journey...." But no, it is "Life is a pause on a journey....” I initially dismissed the saying with rough impatience and considered it childish drivel, but over the years in Indonesia I found out was also "zen koan" of sorts, and is even a "sutra" in a school of Javanese mysticism. I am no big fan of Walt Whitman, but when he says "I loaf, and invite my soul" he is going against the standard American grain, and is very close to what the Javanese proverb is saying, or what traditional cultures already know without having to formalize it.

7:33 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Mark-

You almost got it rt: It's, "In the United States, everything works, but nothing works out..."
Enjoyed hearing abt Indonesia.

mb

7:58 PM  
Anonymous rg the lg said...

The patriot act put paid the notion of protest ... and according to my reading, the Declaration of Independence being recited could get you jail time.

It is sad that we never were who we claimed ... but rather a country of racist hustlers ... and xenophobicly afraid of everything ... . The one thing we have ever done is be afraid ... of something, if not everything.

Loved the podcast ...

8:22 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Food for Thought Dept.:

http://www.cnn.com/2011/10/27/opinion/linsky-occupy-wall-street-leadership/index.html?iref=allsearch

Mr. Linsky says it's either revolution (which he says, correctly, can't succeed), or working w/in the system (wh/he foolishly believes could succeed). He neglected the Third Path: Collapse!

mb

8:35 PM  
Blogger Elan: Reviews and Reflections on Culture, Politics and Spirituality said...

Wonderful! Yours is easily the best blog out there, hands down!

11:44 PM  
Anonymous Jim said...

Dr. Berman,

The KPFT interview, pledge drive and all, was great. You interview very well, and while your subject is intellectually-based, you have a great conversational style of presentation. I hope there are many more interviews to come.

I've not read WAF, yet, mainly because your regular references to other authors (right now, I'm plowing through Doug Dowd's book, "The Twisted Dream") has my reading pile growing weekly. At some point I'm going to have to dive into your primary source material.

Your blog and its many interesting and astute commenters is a daily way station for me in the midst of a culture of confusion. It's become a bit of an anchor, really.

Holding out hope that you might make it to the east coast at some point on the book tour.

I'm thinking of a slogan for a t-shirt design that would be a terrific tie-in during campaign season; "Berman: Collapse We Can Believe In." Your entrance music could be, "Do the Hustle" by Van McCoy. http://youtu.be/EN5JUP45EfM

4:44 AM  
Anonymous Susan W. said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

I read the article on CNN you recommended and found it to be somewhat misleading:

"More recently -- and both sides hate this comparison -- in a remarkably short period of time, the tea party movement went from a rowdy group of people who felt disenfranchised in different ways to a nonviolent army with a sharply focused, clearly articulated agenda, and fierce commitment to infiltrate the system in order to change it. It has been amazingly successful, influencing elections and the political discourse and soon winning elections with candidates who were completely beholden to its agenda, whether they believed in it all or not. Whether you like it or not, the tea party has changed the system."

He fails to mention the Tea Party was co-opted and heavily financed by the billionaire Koch brothers, given legitimacy and extensive positive coverage by the news media and exploited to be presented as a bunch of down-home, just-folks Americans who don't want those job-creating corporations taxed. It's a fake populist movement IMO.

7:31 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

S-

Yes, yr rt; and in addition, it's moving *with* the American grain, as cowboy capitalism can slowly slide into a type of fascism. If OWS is serious abt redistributing wealth, then it is moving *against* the American grain, and can't really infiltrate anything. So the final two choices are: revolution, or continued collapse. Guess which one will win out.

Jim-

I love it! I'll take a dozen, extra-large.

mb

8:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In a previous post, you said that empires become hysterical as they collapse.

I thought you might find this interesting:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/kelvin-sgt-mac-mcfarland-boot-camp-video_n_1051216.html

The kids at these boot camps are given little food and water, so they vomit a lot.

But that's not why I brought this article up.

Take a look at the Comments section, specifically the comments being left by conservatives.

They're pretty unanimous in agreeing that it is the system's critics that are "hysterical and emotional, because after all, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, and hate helps you survive, and if you can't survive boot camp how can you survive combat? Maybe these kids should man up."

That not every kid wants to be in combat at all and not everyone is an enemy doesn't occur to conservatives, nor does it occur to them that raising kids to endure pain without complaint is not a healthy way to raise critical citizens.

How can the empire not be hysterical, my point is, when all its critics are judged as hysterical for thinking that torturing children is wrong?

9:18 AM  
Blogger James said...

I would like to say that technological civilization is ill-conceived, but I would be wrong, it is not conceived at all. It has grown organically within the bounds of millions of profit and loss statements, each determined to maximize the profitable flow of resources and energy to finally be converted into that trick molecule dopamine which motivates our “willful” lives. A society devoted to freakish entertainments, diversions and mindless self-stimulation. Has it ever been so? Yes, probably,

The growth was long and incremental, the death will not take so long. There is only one outcome for exponentially increasing use of finite resources and it won't be magically delicious. Continue on with your “willful” lives, there still much pleasure to be had before the end.

9:20 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jas-

All well and gd, but I'm a little concerned at yr failure to refer to the positive role of delicatessen foods in our lives.

Anon-

Truth is that in the US, life is war; even on a social or casual basis. It was social Darwinism since the late 16C, and just got worse over time. Everything is an agon, a struggle; I'm so glad not to be living in that ambience on a daily basis. The result is tons of psychosomatic illnesses, and endless TV commercials for Lunesta, Claritan, and whatever. Americans don't get it, that this form of life is a sad and macabre joke.

mb

10:25 AM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

DAA'ers—

The more I think about OWS protests, the more I see them as very different from protests back in the 1960's.

It's ironic that just as young people are more perfectly indoctrinated into consumerism as the purpose of life, this very way of life becomes less and less available to them. I'm sure this is part of an overall societal and cultural decline (twilight), but one big difference between the two generations seems to stand out. The 1960's generation was the last one to grow up in a print based culture – see Philip Beidler's "Scriptures for a Generation". As Dr. Berman has said, today's young people seem to live in a non-literate, non-print, screen based culture. Moreover, young people today seem to have been indoctrinated into a pre-formed, much more highly sophisticated 'adolescent' consumer culture, created entirely by marketing and advertising.

Young 'boomers' were better able to ask the 'big questions' about life, and some dropped out of middle-class society. When that became too difficult, they still had a middle class to drop back into. Most did (often with a vengeance).

Today's young people are simply being kicked out of the middle class, but they seem much less able to ask 'big questions'. So they struggle for a piece of the American Dream (MB's Energy stage), or they must create something entirely new (MB's Analysis stage) – a task for which they seem ill prepared.

David Rosen

PS – Re: Marty Linsky on leadership. There’s a fourth path – ‘Occupy Wall Street Inc.’

11:13 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

OK all u DAA-ers, or WAFers, gather round: For the 82nd anniversary of the crash of '29, my dear friend and brilliant colleague, Nomi Prins, is offering her novel about the crash, if purchased in e-bk form, for $2.99. Yes, u read it correctly: $2.99. It's called "Black Tuesday," and yes, I've read it, and yes, it's a great read. It will be on sale on the very day of the crash, i.e. tomorrow. Here's the link:

http://www.amazon.com/Black-Tuesday-ebook/dp/B005T3UYDG/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&qid=1316234134&sr=1-1

Run, don't walk, to yr nearest mouse, and click like there's no tomorrow.

mb

ps: full disclosure: I was a substantive editor on this book; and no, I'm not getting a commission!

5:53 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Vanguard of the Collapse Dept.:

http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/sachs183/English

Evidence tends to show that this applies to all screens, not just TV.

9:09 PM  
Anonymous Joe doesn't know said...

Dr. Berman,

Just got WAF today...joy! I'm going to make a gigantic warm pastrami sandwich and drink a dark ale to celebrate the opening of the text!
Great interview, by the way.
So pumped to get the book. It adds a moving touch that I get to be a part of the WAF while reading it. (I like the Magnificent 100 as a name, by the way).
Meanwhile, on the Steve J front, I was nearly physically assaulted by a coworker today after I disagreed with his statement that "Steve Jobs is possibly the most important man to ever have lived". No joke (sadly)

I will read the book over the wknd and do a review on Amazon.com asap. You, Maestro, are El Jefe.

9:42 PM  
Blogger I. M. Nobody said...

I've got a little different spin on the subject that Zosima introduced. I owe an H/T to Daniel Quinn for sharpening my thoughts on the relevant history. H. sap sap and antecedents lived successfully for millions of years in tribal organization. Then not so long ago, one group figured out agricultural overproduction, which begat civilization. And civilization begat hierarchy, which begat hustling. The hustlers begat bigger hierarchies. And indoctrinated all levels of the hierarchy with a simple yet powerful meme. Civilization is the best possible way of life no one can even think of going back. Once the meme took hold they set about spreading it as far as they could.

The hustlers prodded their minions into broadly speaking two incredibly ambitious and ultimately disastrous activities. Continued increases in agricultural surplus production and the building of pyramids either geometric or metaphorical. These activities begat bubbles the collapses of which begat many miseries.

It is the opinion of this observer that the hustlers have been quietly blowing a Big Ass Bubble (BAB) throughout what we call the Neolithic Age. Since the hustlers conjured up the Industrial Revolution, the BAB inflation has gone parabolic. BAB will blow one of these days. The fall will be far and the landing very hard. Chopped liver everywhere.

Regarding naming yr tribe. Why put a number to it. A few more may show up. Or some of us die before the collapse. Maybe something like Maury's Mohicans? It seems likely we'll be the last of our kind.

10:20 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Nobody-

It's actually a little more nuanced than that, because some hunter-gatherers had hierarchical tendencies as well. Check out ch. 2 of my bk, "Wandering God." Esp. relevant to the discussion are Alain Testart, "Les chasseurs-cueilleurs ou l'origine des inegalites" (unfortunately not translated into English, to my knowledge); and Pierre Clastres, "Society Against the State."

Joe-

Well, I'm delighted by yr delight; altho I shd tell u that some friends call me The Big Enchilada, instead of El Jefe. Whatever. As for Jobs, he was possibly one of the most impt men who ever lived, but in a destructive sense. Although Paul Samuelson wrote a column claiming that his tech contribution was ultimately no big deal, just toys.

Michael Greenberg did an article on the OWS protest in the Nov. 10 NY Rev of Bks, noting that when news of Jobs' death circulated in Zuccotti Park, "He was the rare one-percenter whose demise provoked a moment of sadness in the park, no matter that Apple had recently surpassed Exxon as the American company with the highest market value." And no matter that Jobs had a private wealth of $6.5 billion, and that Apple's profits depended on Chinese teenagers working in industrial sweat shops. I tell u, for me that shines a peculiar light on the protest movement; it shows that the protesters are as taken by hi-tech and 'progress' as anybody else on the political spectrum. How different is Ralph Nader's comment, that the corporate state creates a phony sense of power for American citizens by putting "little gizmos" in their hands, making them think they have control of their lives, as a substitute for real political power. Sad to say, there aren't too many Naders out there; the number of Americans who think Jobs' "contribution" was negative and destructive is probably less than 500, nationwide. I doubt one can admire Jobs and also be a bearer of serious social change.

mb

11:16 PM  
Blogger I. M. Nobody said...

mb,

If I conveyed the idea that civilized man invented hierarchy that is solely attributable to my limitations as a writer. What civilization did was require hierarchy for its continued existence. Over those millions of years one might imagine that many forms of social organization were tried including hierarchy. But, it seems that tribes usually have little room for it.

The propensity to hustle must have existed in humans prior to the neolithic. For all we know Australopithacine may have had it. It might be assumed that those with a hustling tendency enjoyed little advantage until exercised in a civilized context.

But that's not important. It's only my crackpot theory after all. What matters, and here I'll paraphrase one those hierarchical grifters. The embrace of civilization has worked out not necessarily to our advantage.

12:53 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Nobody-

Yr last line is correct, but hustling itself is actually a rather recent phenomenon. We have to be clear about our terminology (hierarchy is not hustling, e.g.).

mb

6:02 AM  
Anonymous teri schooley said...

Dear Dr. Berman,
I just received your new book, WAF, in the mail - simply wanted to stop by and tell you I'm glad you are around to chronicle these end times in America. Nobody better.
I continue to read all your articles here, but have not had time to check out the letters as often as I used to, to my dismay. I have been spending much of my free time obsessing over Libya and having long conversations with my brother about it. How are the NATO countries able to do this to Libya right out in the open like this? God, it makes me spit when I talk about it, I get so angry. Not having followed the letters, I don't know if someone has already brought this little clip of H. Clinton receiving the news of Ghaddafi's murder to your attention (he did NOT just "get killed" or "die" - he was assassinated). Check this out - she looks so blowsy and disheveled, and frankly, a bit demented. Her comment, "We came, we saw, he died", should have been shocking to everyone at home and abroad, but hasn't generated a flicker of outrage from anyone that I have seen. I swear, the media in this country is a conversational cul-de-sac. This is the head of our State Dept. - our top "diplomat". This being America, you get a short commercial before the actual clip begins. Sigh.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6DXDU48RHLU

And here we have the latest idea from the Pentagon, revealed in an article by David Swanson:

"Weaponized UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), also known as drones, have their own caucus in Congress, and the Pentagon’s plan is to give them their own state as well.
"Under this plan, 7 million acres (or 11,000 square miles) of land in the southeast corner of Colorado, and 60 million acres of air space (or 94,000 square miles) over Colorado and New Mexico would be given over to special forces testing and training in the use of remote-controlled flying murder machines...."

A state created just for drones. And they do have their own Congressional caucus; 50 members strong. Too bad there is no caucus for human beings.

Take care and all the best -
Teri Schooley

6:27 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Hi Teri-

Gd to hear from u again. Listen, I wdn't spend too much time on any one country; the US is what's important, and we've gotta focus on what it needs to do. Several yrs ago there was an international poll asking "Which country do u think poses the greatest threat to world peace?" The US and Israel said Iran, and everyone else said the US. Now I don't think the US shd put up w/this kind of criticism, and in retaliation, I think it should not just attack Libya, but everyone except Israel. These countries that oppose us--or that are neutral, or only mildly friendly--need a vigorous nuking; we might start close to home, w/Canada and Mexico, and then move on. It has disturbed me that for a long time, we have acted w/restraint re: those cheese-eating surrender monkeys (the French), and have held back from dropping an H-Bomb on Paris. This is long overdue. Really, I'm guessing that if there were no one left in the world except for the US (and possibly Israel), this wd reduce the problems we are having with US foreign policy--in particular, the inexplicable resistance of other nations to become some version of the US--by a significant amount.

May I also add, as an historian, that this makes sense historically. Faced with disintegration and implosion, all empires follow the same pattern: they lash out, they put the blame outside themselves. The US has a long history of doing this, of course, but now is the time to take it to its logical endpt:

Bomb Everybody!

We need a whole new set of T-shirts.

Thanks for writing in, and I encourage you to expand your attention beyond Libya, as I said. Why, for example, is Chad still standing? Or Ghana? Time for the US to take the gloves off, don't u think?

mb

6:58 AM  
Anonymous teri schooley said...

Dr. Berman,
Hey, the Kingston Trio saw it all coming! And we thought they were just funning with us.

Words to "The Merry Minuet":

They're rioting in Africa. They're starving in Spain. There's hurricanes in Florida, and Texas needs rain.
The whole world is festering with unhappy souls. The French hate the Germans, the Germans hate the Poles.
Italians hate Yugoslavs, South Africans hate the Dutch. And I don't like anybody very much!
But we can be tranquil and thankful and proud, for man's been endowed with a mushroom-shaped cloud.
And we know for certain that some lovely day, someone will set the spark off... and we will all be blown away.
They're rioting in Africa. There's strife in Iran. What nature doesn't do to us... will be done by our fellow man.

-Teri

7:15 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Yes, one of my favorite songs. But I remain nonplussed at the military restraint of the Pentagon these days. There are so many countries to wipe off the map, and the US sits idly by. It's so frustrating, that we are involved in two (losing) wars, when we cd be involved in twenty. Go team!

7:45 AM  
Anonymous Art said...

Teri,

Welcome back; I've missed your posts...more please!

Dr. Berman & Joe,

Sorry, but I don't like "The Magnificent 100"; too self-congratulatory. Cryptic suits us better: WAFers (short and sweet, too).

8:09 AM  
Anonymous David M said...

Dr. Berman
Boom goes London Boom Parie!
more room for you and more room for me,
every city the whole world round
will just be another American town
Oh how peaceful it will be
we'll set everybody free
for you a Japanese komona(chopped liver?)Italian shoes for me
They all hate us anyhow
so lets drop the big one now
lets drop the big one now
Randy Newman

8:47 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

DM-

Randy, my kinda guy.

Art-

I was thinking Ultra-Magnificent 100, actually; it's more out there. We can't be *too* shy abt these things.

mb

9:47 AM  
Anonymous Bisley said...

I recently taught a lecture on kin selection in an evolution class and had a little insight into the US. Bear with me a bit here.

Kin selection is William Hamilton’s hypothesis to explain altruism, which is otherwise kind of weird under normal natural selection. Basically, Hamilton claimed altruistic acts can evolve if they are mostly directed at kin, or in other words, individuals that share your genes. You help them, you increase your own “inclusive fitness”. JBS Haldane summarized it nicely when he said he would give his life for two brothers or eight cousins.

Robert Trivers later developed the hypothesis of reciprocal altruism which explains the development of altruism among non-relatives. In his system, the actors had to have the ability to keep score. If I help you, I expect help in return. Crucial to this system is the idea of punishment. Individuals who don’t reciprocate get punished, however that is meted out.

As I was teaching this it occurred to me that what we have in the US is a system where punishment has completely failed. The sociopaths, who in earlier times would have been exiled, beat up, or killed, now run the show and set the rules. There is no effective way to rein them in short of revolution. Is it any wonder people in this country are depressed? At some level, many people, even the ones we pick on in this blog, understand how screwed up things are but don’t know what to do. They have no way to mete out appropriate punishment. Instead, they take Prozac. The system of laws that should provide punishment doesn't. In fact, it does the opposite. You get pepper sprayed or gassed if you suggest jailing banksters. Even good old fashioned capitalism, whereby the capitalist who fails to compete goes broke, doesn’t work because under crony capitalism the rich never lose.

I don’t know where I’m going with this except to say when you let the sociopaths make the rules you end up with something like the modern US.

Another successful test of evolutionary biology. Why doesn't this make me feel any better?

10:11 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Bis-

The problem with hustling is that past a certain pt, hustlers become sociopaths, and that's what we now have in the US--a nation full of them, whether there's $ in their pockets or not. So of course we are violent and cruel and have an incredible homicide rate; all the data show this. We also pressure other countries to become sociopathic as well. Those who don't wanna behave this way don't have a lot of options, beyond Prozac and alcohol and cell phones. High suicide rate also, esp. among the young. In Japan (forced into hustling by us since 1853), there is a young adult syndrome whereby these guys stay in their rooms--literally--for 10 yrs or more, and a whole host of therapists has arisen there to try and deal w/this. High suicide rate there as well (very).

Some way to live.

mb

10:51 AM  
Anonymous Mark said...

I grew up in England and have lived in the States now since the early 90s. An old friend (Sam) from back home called me yesterday and wanted to know how i was doing. We hadn't spoken in almost twenty years but it was like we just talked to each other last week. I mentioned this to my American Dad who was stationed at Mildenhall AFB during the 70s and he said that he noticed people in England never really seem to forget you. He had already spent a few years there and became friendly with a local shopkeeper in the village close to the base. He then shipped out to Vietnam, finished his one year tour over there, spent a few years in the States and was then transferred back to Mildenhall. He walked into the shop and the shopkeeper looked at him and said "Hullo, been away?".

The UK is by no means perfect but there is a better sense of community there. I read 'The twisted dream' by Douglas Dowd and he mentioned that capitalism developed much differently in the US especially when you compare it to the various European countries. There is a sense of togetherness, which really doesn't exist here. I find that if i bump into another person from Europe there is an instant level of understanding and acceptance. We might just end up talking about football or music but i usually come away with a better feeling after the conversation ends.

I'm still unsure if i actually want to move back to England though because my home country is still heavily wedded to American style imperialism. When you look at the wars the US has carried out over the last ten years the UK is usually committed to sending troops to help support these actions too. The US, Britain and France have been exploiting African countries for centuries so all of them teaming up to free Libya from Gaddafi's regime never really made sense to me. I really think they are trying free Libya's oil so it can flow to Western oil companies.

I do think that we in Europe need to also take a serious hard look at Capitalism as well because its such a destructive system. Socialism (or elements of it) are still present in many European countries but in addition to spreading the wealth and resources of society around a little more fairly we would also need to look at perhaps scaling down our consumption and protecting the environment as well.

10:59 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Mark-

A great story. Life organized around business (=hustling), w/no other considerations, finally annihilates people psychologically; the whole social environment becomes depressing. I remember running into a woman down here a couple of yrs ago--she was a curator at an Oxford museum, here to learn Spanish--who told me that a few yrs back she had done a 3-mo. internship at the Smithsonian in Wash DC. "I never lived in such a soulless place in my life," she told me. Like I didn't know, having spent 8 empty, (almost)friendless yrs there myself. The problem is, this is all (most)Americans know; if u live in a soulless place, and have no basis for comparison, that just seems normal to u. What a waste of human life.

mb

11:14 AM  
Blogger James said...

There's a reciprocity balance sheet running in most minds and it probably worked pretty well when an entire life is spent with the same people in a tribal arrangement. Give favors today and get favors when you need them. But in modern society, favors given are often not repaid, like tools lent are often not returned. Once the charity of a certain group of people is exhausted, a person is free to move on to the next locality. Why do lots of favors for people you'll never see again? Even within a family a person may eventually become resentful because they have a debt that they do not or cannot repay.

12:38 PM  
Anonymous teri schooley said...

Art,
I am really touched that you remember me and were kind enough to say so. I have missed this little corner of the universe. This is the only place I've seen on the 'intrawebs' where I feel like there are humans behind the typed words.
I will try to be here more often now. My middle son just started teaching in inner-city Baltimore, and do I have some stories for you guys! My young hero is convinced that every kid is entitled to a good education with great teachers. Unfortunately, the US Dept. of Ed. doesn't feel the same way.
In the meantime, hello to you and Susan W. and everyone, and thank you for your greeting.
Best,
Teri

1:23 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Teri-

Oprah, bless her heart, recommended peeing on the Balto City Schls. Here's the scoop:

http://www.wbaltv.com/r/8627555/detail.html

Personally, I think driving an hr south and unleashing her urine on G.W. Bush's shoes wd have been a more admirable activity, but then chaque a son gout...

mb

2:45 PM  
Anonymous teri schooley said...

Dr. Berman,
Last note for today; all I am doing now is hogging your time and your letter section.
Re: Balt schools, I *suppose* that just giving up is one answer. Too bad it's pretty much the only one anybody proposes. (Well, that and a combo of No Child Has a Behind - W's abstinence-only sex ed program - and Oblahblah's Starve the Beasts program, which in a fun and witty manner takes all the funding away from schools that need it the most. That Oblahblah, such an ironic sensayuma.)
At least the article you cite explains why Md. is considering tripling its flush fees - all these celebrities and "I'm the Decider" people peeing on the schools makes for one hell of a lot of sewage hitting the system.
-Teri

3:30 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Teri-

Let's face it: there are a lotta people whose shoes need urine. It's just a fact of life in the US. I wd personally put Oprah high on the list (along w/Oblabla).

Obladi, Oblada, life goes on, yeah!

mb

3:50 PM  
Anonymous VW said...

MB,

Let me know what you think of this name.

Why
America
Failed
Friends
Linked
Electronically

Having
Observed
United
States
Extinction

WAFfle House.

VW

4:05 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

VW-

Catchy, with a nice IHOP flavor to it. I can't help wondering if there might not be some corned beef acronym we might use, however...

Cadre Of Rejects Not Easily Denied But Eventually Even Followed--?

mb

4:24 PM  
Anonymous VW said...

Fitting cartoon for the hustlers.

http://www.truthdig.com/images/eartothegrounduploads/occupy-frogmeat_800.jpg

VW

10:11 PM  
Anonymous Joe doesn't know said...

Cohort
Happily
Operating
Primarily
Prophesizing
Empire
Decline

Looking
Into
Various
Emigration
Regions

Chopped Liver. For you, Dr. B. It wasn't easy, nor very intelligible, but it was harder than I care to admit to come up with.

12:57 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Joe-

Joe-

Pretty gd. I've also been thinking outside the deli-box these days...we cd call ourselves The Sacraments: outward and visible expression of an inner state of grace, because we're all so marvelous. But in the end, I guess DAA-ers probably remains the best.

mb

6:53 AM  
Blogger jerome langguth said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

I just finished Why America Failed and wanted to thank you for what I think is one of your very best books. I started reading your work about the time that Coming to Our Senses was published, and have always thought that your analysis of the crises of contemporary culture articulated our maladies more clearly than just about anyone else I have read. Why America Failed continues and deepens that analysis in some fascinating ways. The chapters on technology and the Civil War stand out especially for me, as I think you have there managed to clearly and persuasively illuminate the paradoxes of any attempt at "reform" in this tragically misguided country. Thanks again for an enlightening and sobering book.

Jay

8:49 AM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Anon. & DAA-ers--

Re: Parents Praise Boot-Camps for Their Kids!

We talk about 'The American People' (TAP) and how little can be expected of them, so we shouldn’t forget that the overwhelming majority of parents in the US are typical TAP. When parents work all day at stupid, mind-numbing jobs they don't have the time, energy, or very often the intelligence to raise children. Hence, parents who praise boot-camps. How often I have spoken with white working-class parents where it was clear that what they meant by a 'good school' was 'fascist discipline and, of course no Blacks!'

Parents often don't raise their kids at all. Start with day-care, TV, and school; then after a certain age kids enter a 'peer culture' created by advertising and marketing, and they raise each other. The result is usually immature and childish 'adults' i.e. TAP. See Gordon Neufeld & Gabor Maté, "Hold On to Your Kids". They tell those parents who are literate enough to read and understand a book how to protect their kids from 'peer orientation', or how to reclaim them from it. Even then, it must be an uphill fight.

Most likely this 'boot-camp' phenomenon reflects how Capitalism is turning the majority of its population into stupefied people who will do jobs that real human beings could never tolerate, with a substantial 'reserve army' of unemployed to keep wages down. Since there really are limits to everything and since such people are incapable of transcending MB’s 'energy phase' of rebellion, this probably presages an eventual collapse of society.

David Rosen

11:25 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

J-

Thanks for your kind words; I'm glad u enjoyed the bk. WAF was something of a revelation for me as well, since I didn't know beforehand what I knew when the bk was finished, or at least when I had completed the research. If you have the time and the spirit moves u, perhaps u cd post a review on Amazon--I'd appreciate it.

mb

11:55 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Pop Quiz: Who wrote it?

"Then come kiss me sweet-and-twenty
Youth's a stuff will not endure."

2:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I did complete the book, and it was an interesting read.

The thing about America is that, 99% of people, or more, are going to feel like failures.

That's the limitation of the OWS movement. By announcing "we are the 99%," most Americans interpret that to mean "we are losers!"

You have to stand back in awe of this country, of how it hasn't fallen apart yet. It almost definitely will, all the evidence is there for everybody with eyes to see. But it was one heck of a run.

4:26 PM  
Anonymous Mark Notzon said...

Dear MB et al,

(Did I rudely look up the answer, or should I have waited for you tell us?)

OK, I incorrectly guessed either A.E. Houseman or Leigh Hunt, which I have to say, in my own defense, are not really "bad guesses." The Internet sez W. Shakespeare, from his "Twelfth Night." If you are a conspiracy theorist, then either Francis Bacon, or Edward de Vere, or the Earl of Oxford--or to whomever a recently released movie (which sounds just dreadful) atributes those plays to.

This obviously isn't a pop quiz question for WAF. From whence does it come?

4:46 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Anon-

The real question is how it managed to last this long!

mb

5:01 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Mark-

Here's a hot tip: If yr playing "Charades" w/a group of friends, and you have to indicate Shakespeare, just pick up a spear and shake it!

mb

"present mirth hath present laughter/what's to come is still unsure"

5:09 PM  
Anonymous Bisley said...

Just passing this along from Doug Henwood's Left Business Observer blog. I cannot recommend him enough if you are interested in the economic mechanics of the decline and fall of the US. Anyway, Doug says:


White people can surprise you sometimes

Here’s a fun factoid that surprised me when I discovered it: 60% of white Americans think that the best approach to lowering the crime rate is attacking social problems, not tougher law enforcement.

The exact question:

Which of the following approaches to lowering the crime rate in the United States comes closer to your own view–do you think more money and effort should go to attacking the social and economic problems that lead to crime through better education and job training or more money and effort should go to deterring crime by improving law enforcement with more prisons, police, and judges?

A fuller demographic breakdown is at the source, but here are the white/black numbers:

social problems law enforcement
white60% 35
black 85 12

Black opinion is obviously a lot more enlightened on this question than white, but a 60% majority with a 25-point gap in favor of decency is a very pleasant surprise. (The language is also not the most favorable to evoking a civilized response: “spending more money” is right out there, and it’s not easy argue with “improving.”) The results do make you wonder what the fuck people are thinking when they vote.

11:18 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

The kindness of our countrymen (and women) dept.:

http://boingboing.net/2011/10/29/top-us-foreclosure-law-firm-threw-halloween-party-where-staff-dressed-as-homeless-foreclosed-upon-americans.html

I await your reactions.

1:05 PM  
Anonymous joonsae said...

http://tinyurl.com/3ppd7a4

"We want to fundamentally change the course of civilization. For the American Dream betrayed even those who achieved it, lonely in their overtime careers and their McMansions, narcotized to the ongoing ruination of nature and culture but aching because of it, endlessly consuming and accumulating to quell the insistent voice, "I wasn't put here on earth to sell product." "I wasn't put here on earth to increase market share." "I wasn't put here on earth to make numbers grow."

We protest not only at our exclusion from the American Dream; we protest at its bleakness. If it cannot include everyone on earth, every ecosystem and bioregion, every people and culture in its richness; if the wealth of one must be the debt of another; if it entails sweatshops and underclasses and fracking and all the rest of the ugliness our system has created, then we want none of it."

1:18 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

J-

Problem is that this was written by 1 person, Charles Eisenstein. It's wonderful, but it's not clear that this represents what OWS is demanding (what they are demanding is, in any case, unclear). It cd be a very minority (or even nonexistent) view, for all I know.

mb

2:36 PM  
Anonymous Susan W. said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

The lawyers I've known haven't been remarkable for their compassion or sensitivity so I'm not too surprised by the theme of the party. Several years ago some pictures were discovered of the staff at a concentration camp. On their days off they were out on picnics, laughing and for all the world looked like their 9 to 5 jobs were completely harmless. So it goes.

Bisley-- I'm not really surprised by the numbers you quoted and I've always thought the support Obama received was because people really do want solutions to the mess we're in and he was saying all the right things. He was going to address the crisis with the envoirnment, Wall Street, the wars, etc. (well, you remember)and got a lot of people's hopes up and that's what they were thinking when they voted. But he's a fraud and I'm now a believer that no one will ever be elected in the US with any real power to change anything important. Sorry to sound so pessimistic b/c I really do have hope that people and small communities whether rural or in cities can build better lives. We just seem to have lost a lot of the skills that make that possible.

David R--Several posts back you mentioned Greece taking a "haircut" and I thought you might be interested in this article:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/8857456/George-Soros-attacks-Brussels-rescue-deal.html

2:59 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Dr. Berman—

Re: Law Firm Halloween Party

They are mocking the people they have made homeless. Don't you think that this is some sort of defense against having to feel sorry for people they have harmed? I think it is impossible for human beings to function when they believe that what they are doing is wrong. Do we expect them to actually change what they are doing? How much easier it is for them to change how they think about right and wrong than to actually change what they do. So many Americans are masters at preserving their self-righteousness. They need to be – that's why thinking is in such disrepute in our blessed land.

David Rosen

3:09 PM  
Anonymous Bisley said...

Some of the best evidence for the fact that we do not live in a democracy (much less the world's greatest country) are numbers like those that Doug Henwood quoted. Very large majorities of people want to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, reduce the military budget, make education better and more affordable, protect the environment, and tax rich people a lot more. These are good things. But they don't stand a chance in hell of happening since they don't serve the needs of the 1%. Money ruins everything.

Once you figure that out, the rest makes sense. I went through a tiny depression when I finally chucked all the denial about it. Lots of beer and several thousand commuting miles on my bicycle has improved my mood substantially.

5:43 PM  
Anonymous Bisley said...

Man, I hate to submit another one of these so soon after the last one but, being a wage slave means having a limited amount of time. So....

Help me figure out Slavoj Zizek (and my apologies since I can't do all the crazy Slovenian mark-ups). Pay attention or not? I am intrigued. All I know for sure is the dude likes black t-shirts. I'd like to give a brother slav some love, but he sure did move in fast to fill the Occupy philosophy void. Kinda raises my skeptical defenses.

MB? Some advice, please.

10:11 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Bis-

I too am a bit wary when philosophers become celebs, like Bernard Henri-Levy; and Slav seems to be in that category, editorializing on everything. He also missed the boat totally on Obama, pronouncing the election a "transformative moment," and how this was going to change everything etc. I kept wondering what drugs he was on, at the time. But I hafta say, he wrote what I regard as the best bk ever written about Jacques Lacan: "How to Read Lacan." Highly recommended.

mb

11:21 PM  
Blogger Nicholas Colloff said...

At a convivial Oxford college dinner, I sat next to the executive chair of a respected consultancy that works with the 'better' companies to lower their carbon footprint, improve their labour right compliance etc. All good sticky plaster stuff, not to be despised.

But by the time we reached the port, he admitted that the system was bust, that the CEOs he worked with half knew it and he feared for his grandchildren lives (their quality rather than their actuality)!

So, perhaps the partying lawyers are indeed (like Halloween) making fun out of what they most (unconsciously) fear?

3:50 AM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Dr. Berman—

If you were to look up WAF on amazon, you would see my review. Five stars, of course! Naturally, you will want to print it out, frame it, and hang it on your wall (en el baño).

Susan W—

I really don't pretend to understand much of what's going on in Europe these days, but I do think it is important for America's power elite to keep the US dollar as the world's principal reserve currency, and they will go to great lengths to do it. They won't hesitate to stab our European allies in the back, and there is unlimited bombing and killing ready for others.

David Rosen

10:49 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

DR-

Yes, saw it, and thanks so much. I have printed it out, xeroxed it, and am now wallpapering my entire house (several rms) w/it.

mb

10:56 AM  
Anonymous Kevin said...

I'm not sure what to make of Zizek either. However, one great quote I love (this may be a slight paraphrase):

"It's easier for most people to imagine the collapse of civilization than the collapse of capitalism."

11:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, I bought your book, it's in my big books-to-read pile, but in the mean time I'm gonna put it under my pillow so I can absorb the knowledge in my head while I sleep. That'll work, right?

I'm going with WAFERS, cause it sounds stupid and mysterious at the same time.

I hope if you did that interview with Ken Rose, that it is available to listen to soon, so I can listen to it at work and offset the FOX news I'm forced to watch. I get all twitchy just thinking about it.

Anywafer, maybe to add something somewhat intelligent, how do you see peak oil playing a role in our national demise?

I.M. Nobody, I really like your comments.

- Diandra

11:37 AM  
Anonymous joonsae said...

Forgot to add, I will be recommending your work to people tomorrow during the General Strike!

6:42 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

D-

Pillow trick works only if u use multiple copies. Ken Rose says he'll post the link this Thurs. Go to www.pantedmonkey.org, scroll down to MB, Oct. 31. I guess yr a Waferette.

mb

7:12 PM  
Anonymous Michael in BK said...

My experience with Zizek is that when he's good, he's very good; and when he's bad, he's actually pretty bad, but you could do a lot worse. In an interview someplace, maybe in the film made about him, he confessed to fearing that if he stopped speaking he might vanish, which may explain the unevenness of his output. His analysis of ideology has given me a lot to think about, and in the end of 'The Parallax View' offered Bartleby's logic of "I would prefer not to" as superior to engrossing engagement in "intelligent" consumption et al as a method of saving the world. That said, his contribution to the end of Badiou's Wagner book is beyond terrible.

7:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

‎"Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes." -William Gibson

4:51 PM  
Anonymous David M said...

Dr Berman & DAAERS
Walked into my local Barnes and Noble to purchase some music and found that the music dept. had been eliminated with that section dedicated to games(board and such). I find this suprising because Sarasota has always been what one might call an artsi fartsi town. It has its own symphony orchestra, plus the west coast symphony makes regular appearences, there are numerous chamber music orchestra halls, a strong jazz comunity and the Van Wezel performing arts facility which brings in such orchestras as the Cleveland, Minneapolis, Boston and Hungarian. My point is: Barnes & Noble is (was) the only place in town you could purchase Period music (classical, baroque, romantic and such), serious jazz, rock and other cultural genre. The only other places who sell music are K-mart, Wallmart, Best Buy and Target, who mainly sell pop rock, pop country(Toby Keith help) and soft jazz. Even in an artistic community like Sarasota music is on the skids. Onward and downward.

5:03 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Anon-

Chances in US of being surrounded by total buffoons is 100%. Usta be, every time I left the country, I felt wonderful. Now, living outside of it, I feel wonderful all the time (well, almost). It's finally a question of the MPH (Morons Per Hectare).

mb

5:45 PM  
Anonymous Ray said...

If there is any better proof than this photo below that the scientific, non-participatory consciousness paradigm is a dead end, please let me know.

http://www.kunstler.com/eyesore.html

Strangely however, the photo draws me in, in a weird, Cartesian perversion of "enchantment." There is a uncanny, emotionally valid sense of "mimesis" going on with my reaction to this image. Yet it is a dark kind of participatory consiousness. I AM this scene, yet I am repulsed by it. Does getting physically sick at the sight of this count as participatory identification and the breaking of the device paradigm?

Can anybody help me, please?

2:22 AM  
Anonymous Bisley said...

For Ray:

I say, blame the Reading version of Sarah Palin: it's the crosswalk to nowhere.

But it does make you wonder what the thought process was like, although I'm pretty sure somewhere along the line somebody involved must have uttered the words "Oh, just fuck it..." after the 10th or so iteration of the plans.

Breathtaking. Primary evidence for the decline and fall of the US.

3:04 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

DAA’ers--

Somebody just sent me the following:

"There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our cultural and political life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'"
Isaac Asimov, Newsweek 22 June 1980

No further comment,
David Rosen

3:29 PM  
Blogger Nicholas Colloff said...

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2056873/Iran-attack-drawn-UK-US-Middle-East-tensions-rise.html Election time beckons...

Meanwhile, WAF has appeared in England. How can I contain myself and go to work tomorrow?

3:29 PM  
Anonymous Zosima said...

I was listening to your new interview with Ken Rose at the KOWS website. It was outstanding, as were the previous ones you gave. In fact, there is quite a long list of interesting people that have been interviewed, and I have listened to some of them. Based on the kind of guests that he has on the show I was shocked to hear that the host has an affinity for Thomas Friedman. I mean, Derrick Jensen, John Zerzan, and Thomas Friedman??? What’s going on here? I can see why reading the NYT or even TF may be necessary to keep up with the establishment mindset, but I listened to him speak with Jensen and Zerzan as if he read had them and agreed with them and they could not be farther from TF.

I got some hint of where he was coming from while listening to his interview with Dimitri Orlov, which was quite remarkable. I got the sense that Rose, like many of us, grew up with some hope for a common future on a global or national scale, along with some form democratic socialism, and many of us, myself included, had deluded ourselves into thinking it was possible. I wish we had gone in that direction, it might have bought us more time and certainly would have reduced a lot suffering. Because Orlov wasn’t buying this idea as a possibility, Rose was flummoxed and even when so far as to question his humanity. But what you, Orlov and a few others have pointed out is that this system can’t change.

Just look at one area of American life, transportation. Technology need not be always destructive and isolating, but in this system it will. Always. Think of the kind of change of thinking that would be required to get Americans out of their cars and onto trains. You could show them how it would be better in every way, cheaper, safer, less stressful, more comfortable, save enormous amounts of energy, give us cleaner air. But the car is the perfect example of pseudo-satisfaction. Americans have spent their entire lives with the phony sense of control, the isolation, perfectly suited to the fear of other people, the ostentatious display, and the wonderful satisfaction of barely acknowledging you fellow human being. All that would be lost, and for most Americans that would be to great a price to pay.

BTW on TF. I really hardly took notice of the guy until the build up to the Iraq war when he became a constant presence on TV. When he appeared on TV he literally drooled over the prospect of using military force. So, now he writes about the earth in the hopes that he liberal readers will forget that he was the one of the worst of the war pimps. Also conveniently overlooked is that fact that the globalization he so stridently supports is one of the greatest causes of environmental destruction. So, always remember, TF = warmonger.

2:58 AM  
Anonymous Art said...

Joonsae,

Thanks for the quote and link to Charles Eisenstein's essay on OWS. His work, including the recent book "Sacred Economics", is one of the best examples of cautious optimism that I know of. I doubt, though, that his vision of "the more beautiful world our hearts tell us is possible" will happen within my lifetime.

3:52 PM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

MB,
Caught your WAF Young Turks interview on YT. Many written comments there chided the hosts for being slow on the uptake or worse and rated your performance highly. Some increase in readership should result...maybe even book sales.

A lyric fragment was haunting me recently...
finally figured out where it was from...

We starve-look
At one another
Short of breath
Walking proudly in our winter coats
Wearing smells from laboratories
Facing a dying nation
Of moving paper fantasy
Listening for the new told lies
With supreme visions of lonely tunes

Re 400 top people = more wealth than the bottom 150M & why many Occupy people are not interested in 'reform'
http://tinyurl.com/6d337uy

Bis,
Agree with you that in the US the punishment mechanism of the reciprocal altruism system is seriously mis-wired and counterproductive.
I will not be surprised if some from the Occupy and Anonymous camps develop methods of reversing the trend with relatively low-intensity processes that benefit from an informed public but do not require popular violent uprising.
Imagine the dip in morale at Goldman Sachs if everyone who got a $1M bonus was also declared to be an honorary Chief of Police of Ciudad Juarez or Tijuana.

1:48 AM  

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