November 05, 2011

Third Interview with Ken Rose

Go to and scroll down to 10/31/11. Enjoy!


Blogger Nicholas Colloff said...

WAF read, enjoyed, and reviewed on Amazon (UK site, since to date it was unloved)!

One intellectual puzzle I had was if 'hustling' was embedded from the beginning as the dominant narrative, how did the 'South' come to be?

Meanwhile, looking at the economic argument for slavery from a British colonial perspective, the analysis looks like coming in on the 'negative' side (indentured labour (sic) seems to have worked much 'better')!!

Perhaps an independent South would have given it up 'independently' nor clung to its racism so earnestly, as it did as a defeated entity. The latter a classic case of clinging to a shadow, however vile, because it is 'my dysfunction' that 'you' have tried to take away!

1:58 PM  
Blogger Russ said...

Great interview. I liked your comments on the NYT; I think of it as a lousy source for journalism, but a fascinating primary source, kind of like reading medieval alchemy or debates from the early Christian church on the one true method for determining the date of Easter.

Hope to see you Tuesday.

7:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Prof. Berman -

What would you say to the hypothesis that there might be some among the ruling classes who recognize (and have recognized for a while) that cap. is “past its sell-by date” and are intentionally collapsing it, in the manner of a “controlled demolition”.. One of the best proponents of this view, or something like it, that I know of is Richard K. Moore (see for ex. and

Thank you for your books and this blog. I first found TOAC at a local library, and have since tried to follow your work. It's a little funny because even the mildly optimistic conclusion of TOAC, about the NMI's, was (at the time at least) enough to rouse my inner cynic (I was on board with the whole opening litany of attacks and critique..!) And then later you've pointed out that obligatory note of optimism editors & authors always tack on at the end. Not accusing TOAC of that or anything, I just remember my experience of reading it being kind of split in two, in a similar sense. That said, I tried to keep an open mind to the NMI proposal, any shortcomings are probably my own. I've also read and appreciated DAA and most of Reenchantment (got sidetracked, one chapter left. Very fun read, stepping outside the standard cultural assumptions and questioning "science" etc.)

10:10 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I tend to doubt it, inasmuch as the r.c. is very egotistical, and also wants to continue making money! As far as NMI etc goes, I never meant that as a social solution--just an individual one; which means, of course, that it's not really a solution. (Structural problems require structural solutions.)


11:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Morris and Tim,
I've just recently started reading Richard Wolff, (Morris's suggestion), and his attitude seems to be that the R.C. are intentionally causing the collapse as they want weaker competition to go out of business, so they, the stronger companies can buy up the lost assets at a discount. Additionally they want high unemployment for several years so working class people will be "happy" to take a lower paying job with less benefits, just to be employed. Any thoughts?
Mike O'

2:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for your reply Prof. Berman. I guess I should have summarized a little more of RKM's thesis: they would collapse it not out of the goodness of their hearts, but in order to better "manage" the inevitable; to retain their privileged position and insure that post-capitalist society agrees with them -- e.g. they might plan to be a new aristocracy over a planet of serfs, "Brave New World" style -- no pretense of democracy, total state control.

I have to think that if this is a genuine crisis of capitalism, that some in the r.c. would see it as well -- being in control of so many of the levers, they'd be the first to notice the grinding of gears, back in the 70s, when "real" growth started to stagnate, and a series of hacks and workarounds have been used ever since to simulate "normalcy" (at least according to some economists I've read.) And then anticipating this, they'd use all their super-secret planning organizations to coordinate everything, as opposed to just letting it collapse willy-nilly, debris flying everywhere (perhaps even, most inconveniently, on themselves.) But I ask because I'm never sure how much credit to give these "planners". From your work I get more of a critique of a general cultural pathology, as opposed to the line of thinking that tries to uncover all these r.c. conspiracies. To the extent I've seen you speak to it, e.g. its Chomsky or Moore versions, you seem to dismiss it..

I agree your NMI idea was not what you complain about in some books, I guess I was just channeling Andy Rooney: "Do I really have to preserve the great treasures of civilization? Good grief! I can barely preserve a frozen TV dinner" etc. Still a fan though.

8:40 PM  
Anonymous VW said...


I just finished reading your book on Saturday. It only took me a couple of days between work and school to read. It is a great piece of work. I will post a review on Amazon sometime at the end of the semester so that I can do your work justice.

I hope that you will not find this analogy offensive. But I thought that it helped me to understand the hegemonic nature of a hustling mentality culture and what it can do unchecked or unrivaled.

I am sure the you are aware what the Borg is from STNG. But for those who do not here it goes. A race of beings that are half humanoid and half machine, but as a whole are nothing but productive servants. They assimilate or destroy everything in their path. They are productive (hustlers) for production's sake. Resistance to their existence is futile.

Capitalism respects no other systems of existence. So any alternatives are co-opted or destroyed. Stay in the Union or die rebelling! Assume austerity measures or go bankrupt. Etc. Our technology has become our identity. Profiles have replaced character.

Now the hustler system is feeding on itself. The host is finally dying.

I hope the analogy was not too crude.

I look forward to seeing you on BookTV or wherever you choose to speak.


9:06 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

You were certainly right about one particular thing (among others). It will take near centuries before Americans see technology as simply a tool and not a panacea for all society's ills. I did enjoy your line about "going through" the helll as there is no way to escape it otherwise. This idea has strong reference in literature as I'm sure you know. Dante says the only way to get out of hell is "through the middle" and a zen mondo has a student asking the master how to escape the heat of life. The master says "go where it's hottest." And as you say in the interview, Americans are sure not to see the reality so the harsh reality is sure is come to them. Amazing isn't it- 1 in 15 Americans is now living in dire poverty and yet most Americans still believe capitalism is a healthy, functioning system. Parenthetically, in the new Johnny Dep movie,The Rum Diaries, a character remarks, " There is a thin veneer between the American dream and reality and if the American people ever wake up they will start asking for their money back." I think we can at least agree that some people are starting to wake up.

9:59 PM  
Anonymous Susan W. said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

A great interview and I've sent it on to several people and hope they find the time to listen. I particularly liked your response about Thomas Friedman -- it was direct without being an attack and the reasons you presented were valid. He's a vacuous hack and a tool and not the brilliant commentator he thinks he is. I read a couple of years ago he and Brooks were Obama's favorite op-ed writers.

Hope that the US can turn around and save itself from the consequences of savage capitalism are nil but nobody wants to hear that, do they? Nutty as Ron Paul is, every once in a while he comes out with a real nugget. I saw him interviewed in the 2008 and he said America was a "soft" facist state already and if we had any hope of surviving we had to stop all imperial reach, end the wars and come home.

VW--Keeping unemployment high accomplishes another goal of the RC: it keeps enlistment high too and the illusion that all these people volunteered to fight in (illegal) wars to defend democracy. There's now a waiting list to get in several branches of the service b/c for plenty of kids, there are no other employment options.

7:49 AM  
Anonymous Kevin said...

Per "conspiracy theories" of what the r.c./elites/etc. are doing: could be, but it seems more likely that society as we know it is just following the path of what generally happens in collapse situations. Greer's "catabolic collapse" model seems pretty on the mark to me.

Here's a discussion from his blog:

and here's the "long form":

Dating such things is inexact, but Greer may be off by a decade. This graph appears to show that the decline began in the mid-'60s, not the mid-'70s.

(Sorry - couldn't paste the graph itself.) Kevin

10:06 AM  
Anonymous Walkin' said...

Good interview, I especially enjoyed the comment that due to hucksterism those people critical of hucksterism, I think you said Mumford and Thoreau, are seen as quaint. Excellent point and one that I see every day. I also completely forgot about your History of Science PhD, it is a field that I am interested in. Any chance that you will write on it soon?

10:26 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


My early bks were on hist of sci; I suspect those days are over for me now, tho I retain a strong interest.


Trouble with conspiracy theories is that they are usually simplistic, obviating the need to think. Of course, occasionally they are in fact correct. But the typical problem is lack of evidence; it's always circumstantial. I have huge respect for Rick Wolff, but I'd like to see the evidence for the view that this collapse is being managed by the ruling class. In any case, for what I think is a more nuanced view of the role of elites, see the essay "conspiracy vs. Conspiracy in American History," in my bk "A Question of Values." C.W. Mills had it (mostly) rt, I think.


11:27 AM  
Anonymous Art said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

Meanwhile, back in Central Florida...

The Tea Party Florida Convention took place in Daytona Beach over the weekend. The local newspaper noted that most of the attendees were retirement age. A typical comment: "Jimmy Carter made me a conservative; Obama made me a tea party member." The most frightening statement, perhaps, came from a 12 year old home-schooled boy. What motivated him to become active with the movement? His father, who is field coordinator for the John Birch Society for Florida. Right on, little brother; take back America!

Sorry, got carried away there for a moment. What I meant to say was: give back America to the Indians.

1:07 PM  
Anonymous brandon said...

When was the Alex Jones interview? I was listening today expecting you but some egregious Texan came on. Thanks.

1:54 PM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

Same here...listened until they both got on the "Well, I'm not a big fan of Herman Cain, but...
sexual harassment? They should just get over it..." bus.

2:29 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I thought that interview was confirmed, but apparently not, and apparently Alex wasn't interested. Sorry. I'm doing an interview or two this evening with Thom Hartmann, if u have access to that cable network (RT). Program is called "The Big Picture". Then I guess it gets posted on YouTube.


2:51 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...


What hath the worship of techno-drek wrought?

My wife had the radio tuned to Public Radio, and as I passed by I caught a bit about some production of Giuseppe Verdi's Rigoletto, "incorporating all the latest technology"! I hit the ceiling. This is about PEOPLE singing and acting on a stage. If even a schmaltzy opera like Rigoletto is sung and acted halfway decently, there shouldn't be an unmoved soul and a dry eye in the audience – at least in an audience of real-live human beings!

Is it possible that TV viewing, video games, etc. has produced generations of Americans who require 'all the latest technology' to understand and appreciate a play or an opera? And is it only that people are no longer used to engaging their imaginations to contribute something when they see a play, or read a book, or hear a story being told? Maybe they've just forgotten how.

Or is it that a childhood of TV viewing has left them so neurologically damaged that they are incapable of using their imaginations? Perhaps they just don't have imaginations any more.

Kurt Vonnegut said that one of his adopted sons, who worked as a writer for sit-coms, reported that if he used any material which hadn't been on prime-time TV within the past 30 days, audiences just sat there dumb – it was beyond their comprehension.
O tempora, o mores!

David Rosen

2:55 PM  
Anonymous Lucius Annaeus Senecus said...

I don't know who this woman is, but she appears to be on our side...


4:46 PM  
Anonymous Art said...


I'm afraid you're right: most Americans don't seem to have imaginations any more. Hardly anyone I know even remembers their dreams. My brother once told me that he doesn't enjoy comedies because he considers himself a "literal" person. And yet, we are surrounded by fantasy.

Our fellow blogger Nicholas has his own blog (Golgonooza) which stirs the imagination. He's not American; what a surprise.

9:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess I will have to prioritize finding a copy of AQOV then, thanks for that info.

Mike O' - I haven't read Richard Wolff, but your synopsis sounds like a description of cap. under "normal" or cyclical crisis conditions - where the big companies take advantage to absorb weaker companies and otherwise solidify power.

Kevin -

"Dating such things is inexact, but Greer may be off by a decade. This graph appears to show that the decline began in the mid-'60s, not the mid-'70s."

One very good analysis I read is a book by, I think it was Bellamy and Foster, collecting their articles for the socialist "Monthly Review", titled "The Great Financial Crisis" (if mem. serves.) And I think they said the 70s was when TSHTF. Capitalism compensated with privatization, globalization, financialization and -- I found this phrase amusing -- "the sales effort".

9:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I want to try anons "intentional demolition" that you disagreed with.

How about the rc knows its over and is just plain pillaging and looting. Because the rc are speculators instead of guys riding around the steppes on horses with swords doesn't mean it's not the same thing.

Up here we just put a half-billion dollar roof on a giant sport stadium that has never been used and never will be used. To me its tax money going to the "private" sector or looting for nothing, a bailout.

Any flavour of tax-->private $ transfer is looting as the rc don't even pretend to be doing anything productive.

The peasants hide in their huts while their neighbors heads are chopped off watching fairy tales on their magic gizmos dreaming of being the invading horde.

8:51 AM  
Anonymous Bisley said...

Offered without comment:


10:39 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Gd cartoon, tho he shd have drawn her with her head rammed up her ass. HRIR!


I dunno; at this pt it feels like the Scholastic debate abt angels dancing on the head of a pin.



ps: I will post my interview video with Thom Hartmann (which I did yesterday) as soon as I have the link, but just wanted to give everyone the website now: The title inspires me to start my own program, conversationswithfeebleminds, invite Latreasa Goodman and other similar thinkers (Thos Friedman, e.g.) on the show. Meanwhile, for those of u living in LA, I'm at the B&N Westwood branch tonight at 7 pm. B&N tells me that no hors d'oeuvres will be served (sorry). I can also be spotted around lunchtime devouring chopped liver at Canter's Deli in Fairfax, tho that may prove to be less exciting.

11:23 AM  
Anonymous Chad said...

Just a brief note that David Cohen makes your book the subject of his blog post today:


11:34 AM  
Anonymous Art said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

I just watched part 1 of your conversation with Thom Hartmann on YouTube. Thom brought up the debate between Hamilton and Jefferson; he said that Hamilton promoted hustling, while Jefferson looked more toward the Native American way of life. Doesn't he have that backwards?

1:08 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Jeff was a complicated guy, and did admire the Iriquois Confederacy. But as I discuss in DAA, he was a hustler as well, yr rt.


1:15 PM  
Anonymous Ray said...

Here's a meta-moment of light relief/ real pain re; Why America Failed - for those who might still be waiting for their free (WAF 50) copies....anybody else out there in the same pickle?

"Why Wiley Failed" :-)

Wiley's Eric Nelson recently answered my anxious inquiry about where my free copy (one of the WAF 50) was. He said someone on his staff had quit midway and the mailing effort had gotten lost in the shuffle. He said he would look into it "soon" and in any case confirm what was going on, but that was a week or so ago. That response too seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle.

I'm writing this while looking at the "Conversations with Great Minds" interview, my tongue salivating but unable to follow all of it because I haven't read the book yet. And after about two weeks of others waxing ecstatic about WAF. And after eagerly looking forward to taking part in the Great Southern Missed Alternative Except for That Niggle about Slavery discussion.

But this enforced, open-ended waiting for a freebie is exactly what our society seems to be devolving into these's hilarious...we can't even deliver on a system-critical act of free fanbase generosity from a careful thinker! Is this "Why America Failed" - because it can't deliver Morris' book to me?

Theory 1)The market is angry at this attempt to sidestep it and the Invisible Hand of Hustlerdom is forcing me to buy Morris' book...

Theory 2)Wiley's distribution and fulfillment office has been taken over by some secret state political police sub-agency that has been a)deliberately sabotaging the distribution b)compiling lists of people to be eventually taken away, using the addresses we furnished to Wiley or c)conducting elaborate mind control and delayed gratification experiments with us for years for unknown reasons using the fictitious writer "Morris Berman." or d) all of the above.

Reader Poll: what should I do?

a)Give up, crawl into a fetal lball and die alone and disconsolate in this cursed land.
b)Keep bugging Wiley for a freebie in the most noodgey, embarrassing way possible.
c)Buy the book at a nonexistent Borders near me. Or a B&N that couldn't give a rat's ass about keeping stuff in stock.
d)Buy the book online and run the risk of the nameless secret police agency mocking me again by "messing up" the order.
e)steal the book and give the secret police agency exactly the excuse they need to take me away.
f)appeal to you all for free xerox copies of individual chapters, samizdat-style.

What should I do?

1:30 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


This is quite shameful. I shall forward your comment to Eric Nelson.


1:49 PM  
Anonymous Eric Nelson said...


You have stumbled on our elaborate experiment on mind control, which is clearly not working the way I'd intended! Instead, we're shipping the remaining copies tomorrow.


5:15 PM  

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