December 23, 2011

The Only Life There Is

As 2011 draws to a close, here's a little something to reflect on, in terms of a group purpose for all you NMIs and Wafers.

Remember that 1990 Kevin Costner film, "Dances With Wolves"? In it, the Sioux holy man, Kicking Bird, says to Costner (whose Sioux name is Dances With Wolves), "The path that matters most is the path of a true human being." I know everyone here, in their own way, is struggling to follow that path; and I'm hoping that collectively, we've created some sort of refuge here, to support each other in doing that. The context, as we all know, doesn't make it easy: not just having a president who has no problem signing into law a bill that makes it possible for him to snatch up anyone he doesn't like and throw him or her into a black hole forever; but having a populace who couldn't care less about that, or about anything, really, except the next dollar and the next electronic toy. Rejecting mainstream American values in favor of those of a true human being is not easy in these times; but as all of you know, What else is there? For those of us here, this is the only life there is.

May the Great Spirit bless you all.

mb

193 Comments:

Anonymous Dovidel said...

Dr. Berman—

(continuation from last post)

I would think that “Chicken Soup of the Soul” readers are more likely to go for a Time or Newsweek ‘must-read’ book. If the majority of Americans started reading your books, I think it would just reflect badly on you. You never expected that, did you? WAF is not going to outsell “Left Behind”, but it just might could* become a classic of the American decline and influence a lot of people.

David Rosen

* ‘might could’ is a Texas style ‘double modal’.

9:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a line in the recent Avatar film where the Navi princess tells Jake that it is virtually impossible for Jake, and his fellow techno-barbarians to be cured of their psychosis.
Quite so.
I would argue that that film was a parable for our time.
Having already created a dying planet, just like we have, the obviously God-less techno-barbarian invaders were compelled by the inexorable "logic" and momentum of their "culture" of death to invade, plunder, and if necessary destroy all of the natives, just like we always have.

9:36 PM  
Anonymous Vince said...

MB,

Thank you for continuing to be a ray of human light in a culture of darkness.

May peace and good health be with you always.

Vince

9:45 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

DR-

Certainly if WAF became a best-seller, and a cottage industry of WAF T-shirts and coffee mugs sprung up, it would suggest that I had done something horribly wrong.

mb

10:19 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

I think we are living at a time akin to Germany 1934. At that time Jews could emigrate for instance and the Nuremberg Laws were still a year away.But this Obama is about to sign should tell each of us to start thinking seriously of leaving this country. This bill makes the entire world a battlefield including US soil and , as Cockburn pointed out today in his Counterpunch piece, should the courts decide that private security personel should enjoy immunity from prosecution, then it is not farfetched to imagine a time when armed paid gangs roam American streets looking for ememies of the state, say anti-war demonstrators.
Though I am no fan of Elie Wiesel, I am reminded of a scene in "Night" when an old lady is screaming "Fire!" in the cattlecar on its way to Auchwitz. Everyone in the train thought she was crazy.

10:30 PM  
Anonymous Vince said...

MB,

Just in case anyone tries to get you into marketing yourself.

Bill Hicks:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEnA29wK7uM

Vince

10:43 PM  
Anonymous Natalia said...

Thank You for existing, Mr. Berman.


Natalia Rychert Slawinska

12:38 AM  
Anonymous Joe doesn't know said...

I have said it on here on a few occasions, but thank you, Maestro, for creating this refuge. It is indeed balm, a glimmer of light. It is a dark and dreary place, this land. Thanks for the cafe of sanity. Happy New Year, amigo. I finally got around to posting my review of WAF at Amazon, btw...i'm not a very good reviewer so I just told the truth.

2:14 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Joe et al.-

Many thanks. Let's jus' keep on truckin'...

mb

2:46 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

These Are Your Neighbors!:

http://www.cnn.com/2011
/12/23/us/air-jordan-violence/index.html?hpt
=hp_t1

2:59 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

An elderly friend of mine worked on the campaign of Adlai Stevenson. He said to me, 'you would have loved him Mick, he was a brilliant man. Why he didn't even sound American!' Looking at the popular media it's easy to denigrate the entire nation. That's why this blog is so good. For here we have the gentle and intelligent what? 1%? Lord knows going out in society I am inclined to weep. That's when I come here.
Many people here seem to be on what Kung Fu-Tzu called, 'The Path.' I must admit to coming to him quite late. It was in Saudi Arabia as we journalists waited for the 'great invasion,' Desert Storm with 'Stormin Norman' who later compared himself to Scipio Africanus!!!! Of this Bill Hicks said, 'usually in a war you have two armies.'
I opened 'The Analects' and read this, 'those who embark on the Path, their shoulders must be broad, for the Way is long and the Path difficult.'
Another warning comes from Schopenhauer. He said of great intellects, 'sometimes the loneliness, the isolation and the maladaption combine to break the bonds that hold the mind to reality.' Spinoza signed his letters with, 'caute.'
Is there any possibility of using Skye for a DAA get together? Just a thought, maybe it's not practical. Anyways all the best to members of the DAA gesellschaft.

Mick

6:57 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dear Mick,

While on the campaign trail in 1956, Adlai Stevenson gave a talk at Vassar College. When it was over, one student said: "Gov. Stevenson, you have every thinking person's vote." "Won't work," he shot back; "I need a majority." Today he'd hafta say, "I need more than 0.5%." Hey, what're ya gonna do.

mb

7:43 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

And in the 2008 presidential campaign, John Kerry did not want it known that he spoke fluent French, so as not to appear too intelligent and of course France was roundly denigrated at that time (remember Freedom Fries?).Contrast this with the fact that Kennedy was assiduously learning French at the time of his assassination so he could speak to DeGalle in his tongue. I think most Americans at that time would have been proud of that fact.
Anyway, thanks again for all your work and for keeping this blog a welcome respite from all the ignorance we encounter in this country. Still, one day I know I'm going to explode when I hear for the upteenth time a seemingly intelligent person say "You know what we should do? Just bomb them. That's all. Just bomb them" as his or her answer to any foreign irritant.

8:02 AM  
Anonymous Matt Cardin said...

Thank you for the astutely observed holiday wish, Mr. Berman, which I return with feeling. In an appropriate twist of timing, I started reading WAF two days ago, and was avidly absorbing your analysis of America's foundational uber-consumer just as yesterday's news reports about the shoe riots started filtering through the media web.

Like everybody else here, I deeply appreciate the work you're doing. Keep preaching it.

8:24 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Correction- 2004 campaign.

8:25 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dan-

The thing is, if we vigorously nuked anyone who even mildly disagreed w/us, and put the entire US population into Guantanamo, it wd solve a helluva lot of problems, n'est-ce pas?

Merry Xmas! I've enjoyed yr contributions to this tiny shelter in a large madhouse...

mb

8:26 AM  
Blogger Cj said...

Happy holidays Professor. You're a rare beacon of sanity.

Chuck

9:04 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Thankyou for your kind words. To say I'm kvelling at this moment would be an understatement.I hope you can make it to the east coast this coming year.

9:17 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Once again, thank u all, and have a great Xmas season. Aren't those tennis shoe riots wonderful?

Dan: now there's a word I haven't heard in a while (both my parents being dead). Meanwhile, there is a plan afoot for me to do something in NY and DC, say in April; tho at this pt, I'm not sure how serious my publisher is abt it. Will let u know.

mb

10:37 AM  
Blogger Robo said...

When the planes hit the buildings on the morning of September 11, 2001, I was in the rural seashore town of Chincoteague, Virginia, getting my car repaired. We were all watching on the TV in the office when an old mechanic came in, surveyed the scene for a moment, then firmly declared "we've gotta bomb 'em".

That was his only comment.

Thanks, Dr. Berman, for the perspectives examined in your various books. "How America Failed" has been especially slow going for me, because I've had to stop every few pages and reflect for an hour or a day about the inevitability of our course through history.

In spite of it all, may we all make the best of the coming year.

10:40 AM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Dr. Berman—

¡Feliz Navidad! to you and your ‘familias Mexicanas’.

Christopher Lasch wrote a book on family life in our age called, “Haven in a Heartless World”. Well, thank you so much for your books, and for your blog – they are truly a ‘Haven in a Brainless World’.

DA’ers—

Happy Holidays to all of you.

David Rosen

1:16 PM  
Blogger Jan said...

Dr. Berman,
Thanks for that little pick-me-up. I am 3/4 through WAF but have slowed down reading your take on the South. Rings true to me. When I first moved here (from a boarder state), the key phrase I learned was "We don't do that here" or variations. It is and was applied regularly. Now I do it myself. My husband from the North was surprised to find business conducted with a hand-shake and the guarantee was your reputation. Naturally, this is becoming more rare. But guess that's what a failed empire looks like. I regret that some reviewers missed the point.
Cheers,
Jan from Atlanta

3:11 PM  
Anonymous Kevin said...

This week's Kunstlercast podcast:

John Michael Greer, author of The Long Descent, The Wealth of Nature and, most recently, Apocalypse Not, joins JHK and Duncan by phone to speak about 2012 apocalypse scenarios, Green Wizardry, politics and techno narcissism. Greer explains how the 1970s were the last time that America was confronted by a major disruption in its energy supply. At the time, many Americans began exploring renewable energy and more modest living arrangements that require less energy. But that was the road not taken. And now we face what he describes as a “stairstep collapse,” like many other civilizations that have overshot their resource base. Other topics include: our modern delusions about technology, THE RE-ENCHANTMENT OF OUR WORLDVIEW [emphasis added], and the potential resurgence of fraternal orders which once served as the foundation of public life in America.

As you noted in an earlier essay, good to see the themes of your "The Reenchantment of the World" come back around!

Happy Solstice. Kevin

4:17 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

Some notes on Berman:

I don't understand how a guy with such talent says no to the machine. 'Sometimes,'Schopenhauer said, 'a man's heart expands so much as to include all of existence.'

'What are all philosophies compared to a good deed,' said Schopenhauer, 'who is Bacon?'

4:45 PM  
Blogger larry said...

Dear Dr. Berman, I had to leave Matamoros this year for the narco-violence. Pray you are well there in Monterrey. Cuidase mucho,larry

5:09 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Larry-

Happily, I don' live anywhere nr. Monterrey. When I taught at Tec de Monterrey, it was on the Mexico City campus.

Michael-

Actually, there was a misprint in the original German edition. Schop had written 'was', and instead it got picked up as 'wer'. In other words, he was referring to bacon the kind u fry in a pan, not Francis Bacon. He also had a deep commitment to deli meats, wh/is one reason I always enjoyed rdg him. In fact, the original title of "The World as Will and Representation" was "Gehackte Leber und Ich"--Chopped Liver and Me--wh/he only changed at the last minute, under severe pressure from his publisher. I know how he felt.

mb

5:31 PM  
Blogger Ashley Colby said...

Patrick and I are having an especially hard time around the holidays with our families as our disinterest in expressing our love for our families through material gifts is being met with major hostility and disdain. It's as if we don't love them if we haven't given them the newest gadget. Even though it's hard to face down this rabid consumerism among the people we love, it is good to know many of you are facing the same struggles. Soon enough, we will be out of this country and away from these sick traditions. We'll miss our families but this is a life or death choice - the stay is to die, to leave is to have the chance to live.

5:35 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

Here’s some holiday cheer from comments posted earlier in the week by our customer service operators, and other front line folks:
“Its not really Christmas till a customer says F**K You....”
“And its not a retail Christmas until a customer tells you you’ve ruined Christmas. Good times.”
“How many people will bitch me out tomorrow because they choose Economy Mail shipping and they didn't get their package? I am taking bets!”
“And the same amount that will expect a retail store to still have EVERY thing in stock. Oh and that will be upset we close one day a year ;)”

I saw the operator who made the first comment and said, “Let me guess, we ran out of copies of ‘Jesus CEO’ and ruined their Xmas?”
She said, “You’re on the right track.”

And all this is over books, no one is being denied food or shelter...one can only imagine...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IU7v1Cs-Bc4&feature=related

7:23 PM  
Anonymous Bart said...

MB,

The story I'd heard was that when Schopenhauer handed in his manuscript his immortal words were "This ain't just chopped liver."

The other ingredient was himself...

And thus the title "Chopped Liver and Me."

No doubt had his publisher not miscalculated, he would have enjoyed a substantially increased readership.

Cheers,
Bart

PS..., I've loaded up my pepper spray cannister and am heading over to the mall to see if I can't pick up some Air Jordans.

8:57 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Isn't consumerism a wonderful thing?

Bart: Suggest using an electric cattle prod instead.

We need to start marketing HRIR T-shirts pronto...

9:33 PM  
Anonymous Vince said...

Ashley,

For a varied set of reasons I have chosen to remain away from my family during the holidays. My mother and sister excluded because they are in another state and time doesn't permit a visitation.

I really have a hard time being around some of my family during the time of gifting. It was fun as a kid. But I remember a time when it was nice when everyone was together to share a big meal. I remember that is was during those times that I got to see my adult relatives act like normal people without all of the paternal pretenses. They would play cards, talk, drink, etc.

Now most of my generation has grown up and apart. There doesn't seem to be that much to talk about. Only one of my cousins will even engage in any serious conversations about the state of our world / country today. And even then it is hard to pin him down for a long deep meaning discussion. Maybe it is just me getting too impatient with the expectations of another holiday season.

On another note I see that you live in Chicago. Would you give it an endorsement as a place to visit, seriously? My other choice was to visit the UP of Michigan. Born and raised in the LP and have never been to the UP.

Any comments would be welcome at this point by you or anyone else. Otherwise I just might choose to spend the rest of my vacation reading, sleeping in, and reflecting on another year gone by.

Vince

9:54 PM  
Anonymous Bart said...

MB and company,

Here's a guy that always cheers me up in the sense that DAA and WAF cheer me up. Arthur seems to be on to the hustling society a bit... See his post of Dec. 10....

If nothing else, America produces some great black humor:

http://powerofnarrative.blogspot.com/

3:29 AM  
Blogger Craig said...

Dr. Berman,
I have just finished WAF. I really enjoy your honest assessment of our modern world. I have read both trilogies and suggest that everyone track down and read them all. You have been building a case for years now. Every books builds and develops from ideas explored in the others. Coming to Our Senses really changed my worldview. DAA led me to a closer relationship with my family, and Wandring God reiterated many burgeoning ideas. Your work may not be wildly popular, but it is greatly appreciated by those who aren't afraid to question and contemplate. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and knowledge.

7:41 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dear Craig,

Many thanks for your support. I was surprised/happy to learn that DAA brought u closer to yr family; typically, readers tell me just the opposite occurred! So that's a pretty neat development.

A suggestion, and a favor: Although the 'America' trilogy is complete as a set, you might want to look at the 1st half of 'A Question of Values'. There is material there on the history of the American psyche that isn't available elsewhere, and that rounds out the whole picture of what happened to the US.

The favor, if u have a moment: perhaps u cd write a review of WAF on Amazon; I'd really appreciate it.

I hafta say, yr rt: I've been bldg a case about human 'nature' and human behavior for decades now, and of course have some frustration that it will never attract much attention. The work is its own niche, so to speak; the Academy isn't interested in it, and of course most Americans can't really understand it. So my audience remains a very tiny fraction of intelligent lay readers who want to look more deeply into life. And despite my frustration, I'm aware that that's not bad, because those are the folks I want to reach anyway. Besides, as they say, 'virtue' is its own reward...it's been a great ride for me as well.

Merry Xmas!

mb

9:22 AM  
Anonymous Bart said...

MB,

Funny of you to mention A Question of Values. I'd read the two early books of the trilogy a while back. And picked up Why America Failed through pre-order with Amazon.

But for Xmas my wife got me A Question of Values.... Yes, the books do bring families closer together.

Zosima,

Thanks for that Twilight Zone episode. It reminded me of growing up when, as grade school kids, we had drills where air raid sirens would go off and we put our heads under the desk. I hope everyone remembers to do this when they see a mushroom cloud... Stick your head under a desk and kiss your ass goodbye.

But the episode also reminded me of the other side of the hustler society... that's the paranoid society, laid out by public intellectuals like Richard Hofstadter in The Paranoid Style in American Politics or novelists like Pynchon.

The Cold War was fed by non-stop fear and paranoia. Remember Orson Welles 1938 War of the Worlds had many Americans thinking there was a real invasion by Martians. Let's just say Americans are highly susceptible to propaganda.

11:21 AM  
Anonymous Rowdy said...

Kevin - Yeah I heard that Kunstlercast, and thought the good Dr. Berman was kind of the missing presence in that conversation.

Isn't Kunstler an admirer of Dr. B? Maybe we should suggest to Duncan Crary to have Morris as a guest on that show?

Unless I'm being presumptuous here...

11:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Dr. Berman.

Your writings certainly are a refuge in times like these.

I live in Japan, but I'm Christmas-ing in Canada, and one of the things I was most looking forward to - aside from time with family - was getting my hands on a copy of WAF.

Truth, after all, is the greatest Christmas present one can ask for.

Thank you for doing what you do. Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones, and all the best in 2012.

D

1:21 PM  
Blogger ijcd said...

Prof. Berman,

I am sorry that I haven't been around for a while (I am sorry for myself, since I find respite in this blog). I will post a WAF review sometime soon, but after I move closer to work (fortunately, I will live in a "walkable" neighborhood, a la Kunstler, in a not very plastic or suburban area of Fort Lauderdale, FL).

Thank you for the holiday wishes, truly honest, sincere and kind; and thanks to all DAA'ers for allowing me to learn from their posts. I finished reading your WAF a couple of weeks ago, and lately, when not driving 50 miles to/from work (each way) or sitting at work, I have been busy reading "One Dimensional Man" (should have done it long time ago), and Fromm's "Escape From Freedom".

As you just mentioned, I am, like all DAA'ers, trying to follow my path as a true human being, as far as that is allowable and possible in this land of trolls. Let's see if I am lucky to find some good friends, like us here, in "my" new town.

Meanwhile, and in the "Holiday Spirit", I think some of you will find this video by Mr. Fish (from Trughdig) quite funny, regardless of your views on OWS:
http://www.truthdig.com/holiday/message/

Enjoy, and happy vacation with family and friends!

4:01 PM  
Blogger ijcd said...

By the way, is the get-together still going to take place in the Spring of 2012?

4:06 PM  
Blogger ijcd said...

Hi Vince,

I think you should visit Chicago's museums, and enjoy the city's architecture. When I had internships at a nearby lab, I spent most of my weekends in Chicago Downtown doing just that. Just ignore the rich and the yuppies around you, it is is a very nice city, compared to Miami.

Bart,

Thank you for the link to Arthur Silber's blog, very nice. Here is another of his postings that everyone here, and especially Prof. Berman, will enjoy reading. It is about the origins of America as we know it today:

November 18, 2011
Concerning the American Change in Management, and the Lies that Will Kill You

http://powerofnarrative.blogspot.com/2011/11/concerning-american-change-in.html

Enjoy!

I'll be back in a couple of days.

4:45 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Well, Merry Xmas 2u all. Hope yr all having a gd time. I'm slowly recovering from a cold, rt now in Mexico City, and off to Ga. in 2 days to hang out w/friends for a wk just off the Atlantic coast. Guess I'll take my box of Kleenex with me.

ij: re: the April summit mtg in Mexico City: we'll hafta see. I posted as a condition that 12 people pledge to definitely show up; as of now, I don't think we've hit that #.

Anon: where in Japan?

Rowdy: I think it's my fate to be the ghost at the banquet. Honestly, it wdn't surprise me if a major conference was organized in NYC with dozens of speakers, entitled "Why America Failed," and I didn't get invited. Sniff. Sometimes it's fun to feel petulant.

mb

6:10 PM  
Blogger PsychoAnalyst said...

Thank you for your wonderful work and for providing this bog (which I only recently discovered). Your books validate some of my own insights, and confirm my own decision to leave the United States in 2007 and move to Romania. In 2002 I visited Mexico for an extended trip, and I too considered moving there. I found the reality of Mexico to be diametrically opposite from the smear it typically receives in the U.S.

Personally, I did an “immigration 180” in my life. I was born and raised in Romania, but immigrated to the U.S. during the 80s, after I drank from the propaganda CoolAid fire hose that America was spewing at the Communist block during the Cold War. I realized I made a mistake as soon as I first landed in New York City and saw the homelessness, shattered neighborhoods, criminality, and depravity of the place. Having come from a communist country where there was no homelessness, criminality was and is low, universal health care and subsidized higher education were and are the norm, the Darwinian American Dream situation I found myself in was quite a rude awakening. I made it work for 25 years in America, but when my daughter was born, in 2006, I decided that raising her in the U.S. was too risky, as the chances of losing her to a nearly diabolical system were just too great. And I must admit that having worked as a psychologist with troubled American adolescents didn’t help boost my confidence in America either.

So now I live in a small city in Transylvania, a north-western province of Romania. This is a traditional and family-centered country, where relationships are valued above money. Respect for the elderly is ingrained into social norms, and socialization of children provides transition into adulthood without the typical American teenage rebellion. It’s a pretty tranquil way of life, with pastoral elements, a historical context going back 2000+ years, good food, fresh air and water, and most businesses still family owned, at least in this small town. My 5-year old daughter flourishes here, surrounded by my wife’s family and other “normal” people. She is very well adjusted psychologically, which is not something I can say about most American children. I have family in America, but they get offended by my views, so now they avoid me (I am praying for a swift and total collapse of the Empire, to possibly help them come to their senses :)

I think your advice to clear-minded young Americans to emigrate is the only sensible option at this point. Families with young children should seriously weigh the risks of raising their children in America. Once kids are socialized into the American way, they will be lost and relegated to an empty life. And then there’s no future in America. It already is a worse police state than Romania ever was during its Stalinist days; it imprisons almost 3 million people, and seems hell bent to starting a new war every other month. So, between serving time in some ungodly private prison, or fighting in endless wars on the other side of the globe, what other viable options are there for young Americans?

Anyway, I still travel to the U.S. a few times a year, so I see the increasing decay. I still teach online psychology and sociology at a few American universities, so I have to keep up with the American news, as it helps in class discussions. Let’s just say that watching from here, America looks pretty creepy.

Again, thank you for your great and highly relevant work. I hope more people will look at it to help them decide on a direction for their lives. I wish you Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year.

Julian

PS – speaking of movies, I particularly enjoyed The Terminal, with Tom Hanks.

6:27 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Dr. Berman & DAA’ers--

The Kafka quote I sent a few days ago comes from this week’s radio program, “The Prophetic Imagination of Walter Brueggemann”, which can be accessed at the website, ‘On Being’ (Google ‘on being public radio’). I think it’s worth listening to, and Brueggemann says some things that should ring a bell with DAA’ers.

I’ve seen Brueggemann’s ideas in a new light after reading your Twilight book, and I have been meaning to write in about his book “The Prophetic Imagination” and his idea of “Alternate Communities”, but the idea of compressing it into half a page has been daunting. After the ‘alternative community of Moses’, there were alternative communities of prophets which, in some (not all) respects, seem to resemble the American alternative tradition you talk about in WAF. An alternative community of outcast priests (which included Jeremiah) seems to have collected, preserved, written, edited, and passed on what I consider some of the best parts of the Bible in a ‘new (actually old) monastic’ manner. Later, there was Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai of Yavne, who after the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE was an NMI par excellence. Talk about saving culture and learning for future generations! Rashi together with his students and descendants seem to have been another important alternative community during a time of chaos. Alternative communities have probably existed in every civilization throughout history, but they become more important during decline phases.

Unfortunately, many otherwise thinking and creative people seem to be smarting from religious upbringings that were all about guilt, fear, and ‘believing impossible things’. Making a career of rejecting that can be quite limiting. I see ‘religious’ feelings, which should be complex and nuanced, as inherent to being human, and that so many people can’t acknowledge them is reflected in the fact that modern ideologies tend to be little more than religions in disguise.

David Rosen

9:41 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Julian-

Welcome to the blog, and thanks for telling us abt yr experience; immensely insightful. One favor I have to ask: in the future, pls try to post a message that is abt 50% in length of what u sent in; say, half a page. We don't have too many guidelines on this blog, but a length limit is one of them. Thank u, and thanks again for the info--a terrific comparison, that's for sure.

mb

1:11 AM  
Blogger Zosima said...

Watching some of the old Twilight Zone episodes got me thinking of a scene like this:

Presidents’ Secretary:
Mr. President, I’ve got Lloyd Blankfein on line one and Morris Berman on line two.
President:
Transfer the Blankfein call to the FBI, have them trace the call and put him under arrest. Put Dr. Berman through, immediately!.

Shot of newspaper headlines:
President: Deli Food Production To Be Nations Highest Priority
Congress Unanimously Passes USA Chopped Liver Act

Then Serling comes on screen with that intense voice:
Imagine if you will...

I guess at the end MB wakes up.

1:15 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Z-

This reminds me of that line from George Bernard Shaw: "Most men look at things and say, Why? I dream of things and say, Why not?"

mb

6:22 AM  
Blogger Craig said...

I just posted a review on Amazon. I will get QAV eventually when I can scrape the money together. I've been out of work for a while and had to ask a relative to get me WAF. Leaving the US sounds appealing, but I am not financially able at the moment. Also the family I am currently tight with would never leave. Since I cannot change the world I just work on being a more compassionate, giving person (with limited success).

8:34 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

So there's Bill Keller today, former managing editor of the NYTs, writing about the fits and starts of creating a genuine democracy in Russia today. By the way, Keller did a real trick in the recent past. He published Wikileaks info to discredit the administration while at the same time arguing for Asange's arrest.
Reading his piece today and his mentioning the word "democracy" is near Swiftian. As Cockburn wrote last Friday in CC, the US is not very far from N. Korea in its distain for protecting the rights of its citizens given the fact that the president now has the authority to arrest an American on American soil and either assassinate or place him or her in indefinite detention. I think this will have a chilling effect not only on political activism and commentary but influence the arts as well (as if mass media entertainment can get even worse).
Julian, I also want to thank you for your post. You certainly did the right thing. I teach at an inner-city elementary school and many of the students are hopelessly intoxicated by American (mass) culture by first and second grade. They have near no attention span and the only way to grab their attention in many cases is to bribe them (and that only lasts a very short time). And of course it doesn't get better. I remember reading about one college professor's tribulations. She said that she actually looked forward to a plagiarized sentence since it was the only sentence in the student's writing piece that was grammatically correct.

9:16 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dan-

Did Obama actually sign the bill into law, or is that still on the agenda?

Craig-

Many thanx, amigo; I hope things improve. Meanwhile, you can (hopefully) always get my work outta the library; I'm much more into people rdg it, than buying it.

mb

10:12 AM  
Anonymous David M said...

Dr. Berman & DAAers
I hope everyone is having a happy and spiritual(I know the spiritual part is hard in this envirnment) holiday season.
Dr. Berman I posted a review of WAF on amazon. My handle is Canis Ursa. Just to let you know, if my review sends sales through the roof you have to make a trip to florida and hang-out with us Florida DAAers munching on chopped liver sandwiches.
Speaking of Fla. DAAers: feel free to contact me if you want to meet. I am still all for it. Since I am retired my time is mine so anytime is possible. Although if we wait too long I might be doing time further south.

10:57 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

It's on his desk to sign although the Attorney General said Obama will include a signing statement which I expect to be quite innocuous.

11:25 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

MB,

Like so many others posting here, let me thank you for the sanity. The books are wonderful & life-changing; but even better is your open-hearted, responsive presence on this blog, and the warmth of those who congregate here for solace & wisdom.

How should we live? That's the question occupying my thoughts even more since retirement 3 months ago. Public contributions to the Crassness Index are all too obvious every day, and tend to sour the soul, don't they?

I do my best to act like a decent human being, and I'm delighted when someone else responds the same way. We may be a distinct minority, but there are more of us out there than we might think. I'm happily surprised by how many people I meet turn out to be hungry for humane, civilized behavior.

(Of course, I also meet quite a few who mock the very concept, don't even comprehend it, or see it as a sign of weakness & instantly plunge into attack mode.)

A couple of older film recommendations:

I'll Never Forget What's 'is Name, with Oliver Reed as a Swinging London adman who wants to break free of the rat race, but can't quite manage it.

Harry and Tonto, with Art Carney as a retired English professor who discovers there's still life left in him yet.

Pointedly, films from the 1960s & 1970s ...

12:50 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Thank u all for writing in. Just wanted to let u know that the TSA recently confiscated a cupcake from a woman abt to fly out of Las Vegas. They decided that the icing on the cupcake constituted a potential security risk.

O&D

1:18 PM  
Anonymous shep said...

MB:

WOW, 20 for 21 five star reviews for WAF. When I get around to it, it will be 21 of 22.

Also planning on sending a gift copy to anybody in my life that I care about, particularly my children so they will understand, at some point hopefully, in their lives, that I am not loony.

I ran across some Mencken writings. A section called "The South". Echos your feelings I believe. Would like to send them to you to see what you think, if it is possible via e-mail or regular mail by making copies and mailing?

Also, you left out Henry George's Progress and Poverty (1879) probably because of volume of material?

2:21 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Shep-

You can contact me at mauricio@morrisberman.com, thanks.

mb

2:57 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Shep and Dr. Berman—

If you Google “H.L. Mencken, Neo-Confederate” you will find an interesting article by Gail Jarvis which appeared on Lew Rockwell’s website back in 2003.

David Rosen

4:28 PM  
Anonymous Ken Smith said...

Count me in for the possible get together in Mexico City.

Now is a good time for me to publicly thank Morris Berman for the wonderful and insightful review he wrote of "Rainbow Pie: A Redneck Memoir" by Joe Bageant. It was more than a review. It was a tribute to Joe as a writer and thinker. In that review, Berman wrote that Bageant suffered from "extreme isolation", a two-word character analysis that perfectly summed up the man.

Joe died last March. He had been living in Ajijic, Mexico where he wrote "Rainbow Pie". One year ago, Joe learned that he had a fast growing and inoperable cancer. Just days before that diagnosis, Joe and I had been talking about inviting ourselves to visit Professor Berman -- two mountain ranges to the east of us. A meeting with Berman and Bageant is a conversation I'm sorry to have missed.

After Joe died, his Australian publisher asked me to select and edit about 80,000 words worth of Joe's essays. This book was published last month as "Waltzing at the Doomsday Ball: The Best of Joe Bageant". In the introduction and bio, I quoted Professor Berman's phrase "extreme isolation". I would encourage all to buy this book, but it is only available in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa where it is selling reasonably well. No American publisher is yet interested in a book by a redneck socialist -- and that says a lot about American culture and the US book business.

5:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Morris,

I'm in Osaka, Japan.

D.

6:17 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

D-

Thanks. I might catch up with u next Oct.

Ken-

Thanks for all the info. I wd have liked to have had that conversation as well. Censorship in the US doesn't hafta operate via the gov't, as it did in the former USSR. Instead, it works systemically. Truth be told, I was lucky to get WAF published at all. Beyond that, there has been almost no promotion for the bk. Virtually no reviews, beyond Amazon; it's not being stocked by B&N; I did a total of two bkstore lectures; and in short, there's no way the proverbial wo/man in the street can know of its existence except by accident. The Establishment needn't worry: as in the case of Joe's work, no real visibility is attainable. In addition, why wd the avg American even be interested in my work, or Joe's? I mean, just think about the message. What 99.9% of the American public wants is the Disney Version--endlessly, over and over again. And, they get it! End of story.

mb

6:55 PM  
Blogger PsychoAnalyst said...

Hello MB,

Thank you for your kind words. I will keep my postings shorter in the future. I am new to this blog, but I greatly enjoy reading other member’s comments. I am also looking forward to sharing some of my own experiences about leaving the U.S., which I found to be a complex issue.

Ironically, one of my cousins here in Romania called me tonight, and said she has been thinking of emigrating to the U.S. So I spent 2 hours trying to convince her to try Canada or Australia first. But I’m afraid it looks like that old Romanian myth claiming that “In America, even the dogs are running around with pretzels wrapped around their tails” is alive and well.

Julian

7:35 PM  
Blogger PsychoAnalyst said...

Hi Dan,

Teaching online is a nice source of income for expats, but you need lots of patience and willingness to compromise. Most of my students are native English speakers, but they exhibit serious writing skills problems. So now I’m pretty lenient on spelling and grammar issues. And indeed, plagiarism is common... and a breath of fresh air :)

Also, many of them seem to be afflicted with a rigid type of evangelical Christian brainwashing. These for-profit online “universities” typically sign up a lot of active duty military personnel, so I guess my students must be the people flying the drones, “doin’ God’s work”...

But there are some brighter students among them as well. In a sociology class I started teaching this fall at least half of the students expressed support for Marx’s Conflict Theory, and many associate it with OWS. So it’s nice to see Communism finally made it to America...LOL

Julian

7:40 PM  
Anonymous Kelvin said...

Hi Wafers.

I was incarcerated last week although not indefinitely detained. An INS officer came to visit me with the intention of deporting me since I was born in the Panama Canal Zone which he considered to be foreign territory (true, but not when I was born). I had to give him a history lesson citing Pres. Jimmy Carter's 1976 treaty ceding the CZ to Panama on 1 Jan. 2000. That still didn't click. So I reminded him that John McCain was born in the PCZ too but ran for President. And that Fort Gulick in the PCZ was the home for the School of the Americas and that the jungles of the PCZ were used for training for Vietnam. He got irritated but suppressed it, thanked me, and I went back to my cell belatedly realizing my mistake of correcting him since being deported would have been a free ticket outta Dodge!

8:01 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Kel-

Amazing how stupid these people are. Well, no it's not. Call him back, confess yr guilt, get yr free ticket, hit the rd.

mb

9:34 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Julian—

You have reminded me of a Romanian couple I met at Kuwait University’s faculty club about fifteen years back. The man was an academic who taught in the US for a number of years, and their son had graduated from an American high school. They decided to move back to Romania so the lad could go to university there, since it would be very expensive for him to go to college in the US. Well, the poor boy just couldn’t make it in a Romanian university – he simply didn’t know anything! And they were quite sure it wasn’t a language problem either. They had to send him back to the US to go to college, which is why I found them in Kuwait, working to make enough petro-dollars to pay for it.

If I tell this story to people here in the US, they find it absolutely incomprehensible so I’ve stopped talking about it, along with a whole lot of other things. Just as well since we’ve reached the stage where it might get me labeled as a ‘terrorist threat’.

You did well to get your daughter out of here.

David Rosen

10:11 PM  
Anonymous Natalia said...

Dear Mr. Berman:

If there is a meeting in Mexico City on April 2012, please count me in for sure. I live there and I´ve read all Your books (translated into Spanish; WAF still awaiting) since I started studying mi career back in 1997. Now I teach and make my students read some of them (they love me for it). I have to say it again: thank You for existing. I would love to finally meet You.

Blessings and smiles.
Recover from Your cold, querido Maestro.

Natalia Rychert Slawinska

11:27 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

N-

Thanks for letting me know. WAF will be out in Spanish translation in the spring, from Sexto Piso Editorial, under the title "Las raices del fracaso americano". In addition, my novel, "Destiny", will appear around the same time from Editorial Resistencia (as "Destino", of course).

I'm currently in the DF, but leaving tomorrow morning for the US for a week. However, if you'd like to get together, I'll be here Jan. 2-3, staying in Condesa. Plenty of places to have coffee, obviously. Do you know the Cafe Toscana, off Parque Mexico?

Your students might be interested in an interview I did with Sabina Berman (no relation, altho I call her 'mi hermana perdida') at FIL in late November for TV Azteca (the interview was in Spanish). Sabina told me that she would post an enlace for the interview on the Azteca website, but so far it hasn't appeared. Perhaps in January.

As for the April Wafer Summit Meeting, I'll need 12 definitely confirmed participants to hold it, so figure I'll take a roll call sometime around March 1st. The only thing that might get in the way is a possible East Coast book tour, but that's rather iffy at present. And anyway, if it happens, we can just move the Wafer Summit Meeting ahead a week or 2.

Gracias de nuevo por escribir, y Feliz Anyo Nuevo.

-Mauricio

12:57 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

This American Life Dept.:

http://www.cnn.com/
2011/12/26/us/kentucky
-boy-bag/index.html

2:18 AM  
Blogger Craig said...

Sorry, I didn't intend my last post to sound as pathetic as it does. While I am out of work, I still have my necessities and a loving supportive family. I am able to pick up a little money doing odd jobs. Definitely not optimal, but it gives me time to read, think, and meditate. Many people have worse situations. I find being grateful for the people and things I have is a good way to counteract the "more, more, more" culture we live in.

7:14 AM  
Anonymous JWO said...

Hopefully none of you WAFers got stuck in this wonderful symptom of a sick America, quite the irony considering the name of the mall!

(http://www.startribune.com/local/west/136237398.html)

The crazy thing is that it was an amazing 51 degrees here in MN on Monday and our family had a great day out hiking, yet the mall was full…

O&D indeed.

9:15 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

jwo-

Great article, and a pretty gd profile of the US today. "Maul of America" wd actually a better name for that shopping center. Events like these are going to get more frequent, and they attest to the decadence, and failure, of the US as a nation. Where else on earth can u find 310 million angry and depressed people, without any discernible meaning in their lives, floating along and ready to lash out at the nearest target. All we need is our own homegrown dictator (Ging?) to channel that energy toward dissidents, 'terrorists', people who read books. How deeply unhappy Americans are, and how potentially dangerous.

mb

9:57 AM  
Anonymous Kelvin said...

Hi Zosima,

Thank you for the notice re: Christopher Hitchens's untimely death. I regret that because he was a source of insight, inspiration and entertainment for me. I read his autobiography, Hitch 22 with great pleasure and sadness.

Yes, he was definitely a drunk (Johnny Walker Black Label being the favored potation). And he was stupendously well-read and informed. His was a life dedicated to the craft of writing.

I'll leave with a link to an essay he wrote for Atlantic Magazine in May 2011 on one of my favorite poets, Philip Larkin, entitled Philip Larkin, the Impossible Man

12:09 PM  
Blogger Terence Stone said...

Dear Morris,

It was a number of years ago I read "Coming To Our Senses" and "The Reenchantment of the World". After returning from a one-year sabbatical in South- and South=East Asia where anyone with sensitivity can still feel and see the aching aftermath of the physical presence Britain in India and America in Indochina, my wife and I rejoined with renewed determination the wave of activism of the last nine months, here in Victoria, Canada.

Hardy's, "The Darkling Thrush", might well be a poem for this week in our times. Following the euphoria of what I wonder was the first phase in a growing movement or a last whimper of protest.

My most fervent hope now is that global industrialism will collapse--as it will--sooner than later. Perhaps those of us desperately seeing the urgency for change will only have a small role in the end of pushing the teetering beast into the abyss.

December for me has been a fearful month in which I have been drawn back to reflect on my personal connection with the earth and my fellow human travellers--a yearning for non-religious communion.

I recall David Foster Wallace saying, "Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship", and I knew this was wrong. Subseguently, I found myself dusting off "The Reenchantment..." and re-reading it. Finally, about an hour ago, I found "Coming to Our Senses", which I hope can inspire me (perhaps differently) as much as it did on first reading.

You see, I've always known, since I had the good fortune to first pick up your work, that ascension theologies create a void that demand to be filled with any authorized desire; hence the terrible sickness of our time of material worship that has coopted all the major religions into its ravenous service.

For me I see no hope in anything but a return to participating consciousness as a function of communion without worship. And in these shadow times, like the darkling thrush, I choose to fling my soul upon the growing gloom.

In peace and fraternity.

Terence Stone


The Darkling Thrush
By Thomas Hardy

I leant upon a coppice gate
When Frost was spectre-grey,
And Winter's dregs made desolate
The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
Had sought their household fires.


The land's sharp features seemed to be
The Century's corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
Seemed fervourless as I.


At once a voice arose among
The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
Upon the growing gloom.


So little cause for carolings
Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
And I was unaware.

10:21 PM  
Anonymous farbror Melker said...

In the midst of accelerating decline and increasing chaos its becomes evermore important for sane people still living in America to grab on to the monastic option in order to keep ones mental ship on the right keel, so to speak.

Social critics/historians (like mr Berman) can only offer so and so much. The problem is then the whole bloody ship start to tumble around (figuratively speaking) - then one need something that not only describes whats happening, but perhaps actually gives existential purpose, hope and meaning to whats happening as well. After all: facing reality "with ones boots strapped on" may not be enough for most of us then the shit really starts to hit the fan. Hence "Men cannot live by bread alone".

By the way: I havent read Bermans earlier books yet, so forgive me if I missed someting there. Its definitely on my ToDo-list.

Anyway - besides mr. Bermans work I would also recommend two thinkers that may help you do exactly that. The first one is the swiss philosopher Jean Gebser (1905-1973) who came up with some interesting ideas about human consciousness in meaningful transition and development. The second one is the Danish thinker Martinus (1890-1981) who came up with no less then an complete alternative worldpicture, entirely based on intuitive realization and logical reasoning. Google- and Youtube-search these two characters and you be on your way.

5:44 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

The ultimate shopping curse result.

http://www.truthdig.com/cartoon/item/the_survivor_20111227/

9:29 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Ter-

Thanks for joining us. We do have a length policy on this blog, however, so if u cd, in future, submit posts of abt half that length, I'd really appreciate it. Thank you, and have a great new yr.

mb

9:44 AM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

WAFers--

Einstein once said, “The true value of a human being can be found in the degree to which he/she has attained liberation from the self.” This reminds me of something Dr. Berman said on a radio interview (I think it was with Ken Rose) where he was talking about the shift that occurred in the meaning of the word “virtue” centuries ago in our blessed land. He asked, “If virtue means success in a competitive environment, what’s that going to lead to?” Well, for so many of our fellow citizens, it has led to their ‘true value’ and their ‘net worth’ being exactly the same.

Speaking of ‘self’, it was in 1979 that Christopher Lasch published the book, “The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations” – which was the same year that the magazine, “Self” was launched. It seems they both had their finger on the pulse of the nation, each in their own way.

David Rosen

11:30 AM  
Blogger PsychoAnalyst said...

Hi David,

Indeed, education used to be pretty rigorous here. It followed the classic French system plus a healthy dose of good ole’ Soviet-style coercion. I immigrated to the U.S. in the early 80s after completing high school in Romania, and started college in New York a few months later. I found that the math and physics I learned in high school in Romania was comparable to that taught in the U.S. as part of a computer engineering undergraduate degree, which involved a good deal of calculus and theoretical physics. As far as costs are concerned, state universities are still largely subsidized in Romania, although I understand fees are increasing steadily. My wife graduated from a state Romanian dental school in the 90s with no debt whatsoever – in America that would have required a few hundred thousand dollars of debt and a life of slavery for the banksters. When she went to school there were a lot of foreign students in her class.

However, the neoliberal policies enforced by the West upon Eastern Europe after the fall of Communism have led to the overall decline of the quality of the education system in Romania as well. In fact, the quality of education has declined across the entire EU, which also has a lot to do with the WTO’s demand to classify education as something that can be bought and sold like any product. So things are deteriorating here as well. Right now, degrees in the hard sciences from state universities and state medical schools are still respected, but there are also a host of new private schools that are pretty bad. The good news is that most graduates from these private schools are unable to pass state licensure exams (which is required for most professions) so the damage that they can do is being limited that way.

Julian

4:05 PM  
Blogger PsychoAnalyst said...

David,

Christopher Lasch’s book was indeed nearly prophetic, and he explored so many issues that barely incipient in his time. In a 2010 book called The Narcissism Epidemic, by Jean Twenge and Keith Campbell, some of Lasch’s observations are fast forwarded to our present, and placed in the context of recent developments such as the current economic crisis, the culture of celebrity, things like Facebook, and even the proliferation of churches preaching the “Gospel of Prosperity.”

As a psychologist, I think that it was inevitable to arrive where we are today as a nation (btw, although I now live in Romania, I still often say “we” when speaking about the U.S., as I still identify with America in many ways, I am a U.S. citizen, and I still work for American entities). The national character of America has always been one of narcissism. The only problem is that today this has reached pathological levels, and we now see this country behave in ways that psychological theory describes the behavior of narcissistic people (not countries). For example, 9/11 can be looked upon as a “narcissistic injury,” shock and awe can be classified as “narcissistic rage,” etc. Nonetheless, narcissists are best described as very fragile and unfinished personalities (much like Dr. Berman’s fragment societies) that hide behind a thin and vulnerable façade of toughness. Despite appearances, narcissists are truly weak and empty people, and let’s face it, a society that seeks its emotional fulfilling at the nearest mall, can only be described as empty.

Time to hit the sack … it’s late here.

Julian

7:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

About a year ago, on this site, I stated that diversity in the U.S. was contributing to the lack of cohesiveness and lack of sociability in American society. You disagreed with me about this. Robert Putnam recently did a study on diversity and found that the more diverse a neighborhood gets, the less neighbors talk to each other, etc. Diversity (racial and cultural/religious) creates a lot of anxiety, and people hunker down. I do enjoy your books, but I do think that you tend to leave out points that go against your view of the world. I think there are kernels of "truth" in what people like Pat Buchanan say, as well as what you say. I also believe, although I am not religious at all, that the decline of religion is also playing a "huge" part in the moral breakdown of society. I think you tend to ignore this big point. Everyone is not smart enough to make up their own moral code, devoid of religion. People in the Depression were not running around killing and raping, and this is probably due to religion in some way, at least in terms of "cultural lag." We won't have this 'safeguard' this time around.

11:26 PM  
Anonymous shep said...

Seems to me, when u are heading down the stream toward the falls, as u go over, there is nothing else left to do. This song represents my present state.

-----------------------------------------


PEACE

I heard about these kids walking on a train track
40 tons of steel bearing down on them and they just turned their back
Channel 5 asked the one who survives son why’d you do such a thing
no reply but his eyes cried

Peace I just need some Peace
if I have to i’ll do anything
don’t need ur luv or ur sympathy
but i cannot go on living without peace

7:32 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Anon-

Thanks for writing in. You cd be right on both counts. I look forward to rdg the Putnam bk.

mb

10:46 AM  
Blogger PsychoAnalyst said...

Speaking of Pat Buchanan, the other day I saw him interviewed by Ralph Nader about his new book, “Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?” He made sense -- more than he used to, anyway. This is the link:

http://www.booktv.org/Watch/12949/After+Words+Patrick+Buchanan+quotSuicide+of+a+Superpower+Will+America+Survive+to+2025quot+hosted+by+Ralph+Nader.aspx

Julian

11:39 AM  
Anonymous David M said...

Dr. Berman: If you don't wish to post the following I understand.
Anon:
An anecdote not a study or a book. The neighborhood I grew up in (I am 60) was mainly Italian but also include some other ethnic groups. There were some Germans (my family included),Hungarians, Poles, Belgiuns and Greeks. Some of these languages were spoken on the street. This group of diverse people held block parties, celebrated Christmas,(40 to 50 neighbors came to our home every Christmas eve up untill my mother moved about 15 years ago)
Indepenence Day, and Easter together. My mother exchanged recipes with other mothers and regulary prepared meals of different ethnic origins. My father played cards, belong to some of the ethnic social clubs and generally hung out with the other fathers. Nobody seemed to be hunkering down.

So the questions I have to ask then: is the reason people are hunkering down because of diversity or because of the right wing fear propoganda the media spews these days to drive a wedge between diverse groups so as to have more control. (divide and conquer)Keep them fighting among themselves. I tend to think the reason is the latter because of my childhood experiences and what I have experienced scince then. Also: not making any assumptions; this is a personal observation; but most of the folks (friend and acquaitances) who seem to fear diversity and who make the most racist statement around me, tend to be white anglo saxon protestants. By the way, along with my WASP friends, I have aquired many Black, Hispanic, and Asian friends over the years whom I love dearly. If I'am totally off base with this response please let me know.
One last thing. If there are people hunkering down in your neighborhood, invite them over for dinner.

2:16 PM  
Anonymous Kelvin said...

Hi Terence,

Thank you for the Hardy poem. Hardy is a major poet, prolific and accomplished. I also share your view re: industrial civilization. Have you seen the movie (free) at www.endciv.com? It might interest you.

There's a wonderful book by Paul D. Campbell, Survival Skills of Native California, the preface of which concludes:

"First, agriculture and later, civilization were simply human adaptations to ever more degraded and overpopulated environments. The exploding population of today's California continues to bring proportionately more civilization in the form of more laws, order, regimentation, restriction, costly technology, class inequality and toil.

To forget the lessons of the past is not only endlessly to repeat its horrors but to lose its most magnificent possibilities. Knowing how to do something does not mean we should do it. The early inhabitants of California had that folk wisdom, almost a gut intuition built over millenia, of what was good and bad, a sense of value that allowed them to make what must seem to us an astounding choice: they rejected progress--the tilling of soil--in favor of a hunter-gatherer way of life."

2:28 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Tony-

As I have explained on several occasions, I don't deal with 9/11 conspiracy theories on this blog, for a whole # of reasons. In any case, there are many blogs and sites devoted to them, and that wd be the place to have that discussion.

Thank you,
mb

4:45 PM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

Article in Salon explaining why kids need solitude rather than instant gratification:

http://www.salon.com/2011/12/28/
why_kids_need_solitude/singleton/#comments

One comment in response:

It seems we are being driven to learn 'skills' instead of knowledge because society today is morphing into simply a worker pool to supply business with bodies.

To which another replies:

You have a point -- a Walmart economy doesn't need people who are critical thinkers, or who know the causes of WWI.

Nor do the powers that be want critical thinkers in the first place. Much too troublesome, always asking questions & such.

David,

Ever notice how as the emphasis on "self" increased over the past 2-3 decades, the amount of genuine individuality with any depth seemed to dwindle in exact proportion? We've got a public that's constantly told to "follow your own path" -- yet they all wind up following the same superficial path. We've got a nation of "individuals" who think & crave & suffer the same things.

Again, how very convenient for the powers that be ...

5:10 PM  
Anonymous Paul C said...

Anon

"People in the Depression were not running around killing and raping, and this is probably due to religion in some way"

I wouldn't be too quick to buy that religion had it all together back then considering the history of how the 'church' (and community at large) handled (and still does) the sex abuse scandals we keep hearing about. There could be an entire discussion around this topic in itself. (Why society tolerates the need for these and other convenient scapegoats and boogeymen as fodder for the continual media feeding frenzy) It's all become one big 'reality horror show' which just keeps everyone affraid and sufficiently distracted while our collective pockets continue to be picked by politicians and their sponsors. But being a nation of morons what else could one expect? From a spiritual perspective I question whether there was ever more of a community spirit 'back then' (other than native community which is almost non-existent today). If you didn't have money or means (living in what were mostly filthy, disease ridden cities) and without social security, one was pretty much screwed. Charity didn't amount to a pittance, then as now. What has mostly changed today is that one can't sneeze without someone knowing about it on the 6 o'clock news. Couple the legal preofession with the fact that everybody wants to be a millionaire and whatever ticket one can use to get there is the order of the day. (Like the man says, these are our neighbors!) Everything is being categorized as some type of threat to someone, somewhere. It's all out of proportion because it's part of the scheme: violence, fear, and sex sells! Nobody can do anything about it because nobody is willing to take their eyes of the show long enough to take a long enough to question any of this. Which is why America Failed! (and why, given the mass adoption of the US model - "humanity" is failing)

Some people are brought up with morals and learn to question authority and deal respectfully with others... But then or now, I question how much "progress" there really has been, not much I suspect. We're more apt to get a truer sense of where people are these days due to the speed of communications. That's about it. (ie: the nightly tabloid news reports) Back 'then' I think one could hide a lot more under the rug and get away with it... Today, the computer has only advanced that process to some degree.

Anyway, a few thoughts...

5:14 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Dear Anon—

Re: Diversity leads to anxiety and conflict.

Over the years I’ve found that it is almost impossible to understand anything if you don’t understand its context. You say, “Diversity (racial and cultural/religious) creates a lot of anxiety, and people hunker down.” Is what Pat Buchanan writes about an inherent feature of human societies, or is what we see in the modern world caused or exacerbated by the context of the capitalist world system?

The period of the decline of Feudalism and the beginning of Capitalism was marked by a tremendous increase in scapegoating – a change in attitudes toward poor people, an intensified inquisition against heretics, and the ‘witch-craze’.

It happens within capitalist countries, and colonialists and imperialists use every trick in the book to divide their colonial subjects against each other. On the other hand, maybe it’s a feature of all civilizations, which Marxists would refer to as ‘class societies’? It does seem to me, however, that a lot of the ethnic violence we see around the world can be traced back to the effects of colonialism or globalism. (No space to elaborate.)

In any case, the context of 21st Century American society is such a bizarre anomaly that it would be the last place on Earth to use to derive universal laws of ‘human nature’. Robert Putnam is a good observer of American society, but he still may not have caught on to the underlying reasons for its decline. Somebody please send him a copy of WAF! Every time I read an anti-diversity article by Pat Buchanan, however, I think of the Bob Dylan song, "Only a Pawn in Their Game". Look up the lyrics.

I guess that Pat Buchanan is just one more writer with a way to ‘save America’ from decline. The rabbit he pulls out of the hat is to make us all into ‘White Christians’ – or to get rid of everybody who isn’t one.

David Rosen

5:21 PM  
Anonymous David M said...

Tim:
I have notice. What hurts is watching family and old friends over time fall deeper and deeper into that mindset and lifestyle and not be able to hold a rational conversation about the ensueing damage its causing without getting into an emotional argument, and/or being laughed at or scoffed at.

7:53 PM  
Anonymous shep said...

Pat and BAY Buchanan are pathetic individuals and no one should listen to a word they offer.

8:03 PM  
Blogger PsychoAnalyst said...

David M,

I thought that perhaps I could briefly share my experience, since I immigrated to the U.S. in my youth (I was about 20), and 25 years later I decided to leave the U.S. So it might be relevant to your questions. When I came to the U.S., in the early 80s, I found it to be an immigrant-friendly place. I was able to integrate, I felt at home, I became a U.S. citizen, and I broke almost all ties with my country of origin (partly because at that time it was still behind the Iron Curtain). I had lived in several different places across America (including the South), but I never experienced much discrimination. However, after 9/11, I immediately began to feel like an outsider. All that flag waving, foreigner-bashing, just did not sit well with me. So I think 9/11 had dramatically changed the psyche of the U.S. in regard to tolerance. I think progress toward recovery did take place in the years after 9/11, culminating with Obama’s election. But now this GOP circus, birther bashing, and anti-immigrant laws risk causing a relapse to a Bush era atmosphere. That is too bad, because despite its problems, the U.S. still has much to offer.

Incidentally, I am not saying that America is the most immigrant-unfriendly place on Earth. For one thing, I think Western Europe is worse.

I know this is anecdotal, but that has been my experience.

Julian

8:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

David M,

That is European diversity, and that did/does work. They were also mostly Christians, etc. (not that different- celebrated similar traditions, grandpa spoke funny language, etc.). Jews also mixed in over time/intermarried. When it opened up to all kinds of areas of the globe (different races mostly), then diversity didn't work anymore. The point is that people are tribal and want to live among others, most similar (in appearance) to themselves. This goes for all cultures and races, and there is nothing wrong or hateful about wanting to live in your tribe. That is why suburban Chicago is segregated by "choice." Another interesting thing to check is what cities in America are always voted the best places to live with lowest crime, etc. They are always the lowest in "diversity." Pat Buchanan has the "guts" to say what he thinks, even if it isn't pleasant or politically correct, just like Dr. Berman pointing out the many positive traits of the Old South. Truth is truth. I am not religious, but I will say that religion did hold many people back from crimes, etc. Religions, like it or not, are the glue that hold societies together. China isn't religious either, but their homogeneous nature, common history glues them together as a people. What glues us together as a socitety? Diversity? Consumerism? Hedonism? The Kardashians? This is the end phase, and Dr. Berman saw this coming along time ago. We are just debating the causes.

9:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear David Rosen,

Ancient humans probably didn't come into contact with other races too often. I don't think it has anything to do with Capitalism or surface culture. This is human nature. Just like you would look for a mate who looks like your relatives (mom). You base your image on your relatives, skin tone, etc. Tribes usually killed strangers. This is why babies have "stranger anxiety." If all tribes and groups were singing by the fire, holding hands, then human evolution wouldn't have selected "stranger anxiety." My gut feeling is that there was a whole lot of killing, raping and pillaging going on between different groups/tribes all the way back to the caveman. Steven Pinker's research backs this up. That is why human behavior under extreme circumstances "defaults" to killing and raping: WW2, The Congo, Cambodia, Yugoslavia.etc.. This suspicion and hatred of "outsiders" is heavily inscribed into human nature. I think people like Pat Buchanan and other conservative writers are more likely to accept this view of human nature, as did our founding fathers, and know that this dark nature has to be controlled. Shoving all kinds of groups together will eventually lead to ethnic cleansing/balkanization of some kind. This is already happening slowly in S. California. See Yugoslavian war if you want to see how this will play out. The end result is that people will continue to move away from other groups (as they do now) and live among their own kind. This could happen with whole regions of the country. This is just my opinion.

9:31 PM  
Anonymous Vince said...

While I am not a political supporter of Pat Buchanan by any means I would like to offer a couple of suggestions. I read two of his books a few years ago. One was titled "A Republic, not an Empire". The other was "Death of the West".

The first book described in great historical detail what the consequences of American foreign policy have had for the United States and the geopolitical landscape. Some critics even labeled him sort of Nazi revisionist. Just as some people will invariably label Dr. Berman as pro-slavery. But in A Republic.. PB argues that we should have let Hitler and Stalin battle it out to the death. He argued that both dictatorial communism and Nazi fascism would have both died in the battlefields of Russia. He also argued that perhaps Communist China never comes into being. There goes our negative identity, i.e. Cold War.
He reminds readers that the U.S. went to war in Europe to save the U.K. and France's ass after they declared war on Germany for invading Poland without the where with all to fight a war with a powerful military industrial complex state of Nazi Germany. We saved the U.K. and France, but Poland fell behind the Iron Curtain. All throughout this book PB admits that he could be totally wrong. But he constantly reminds the reader that the authors of our constitution were quite aware of the need to remain out of the empire building business. But because it is a business, our hustling nature just couldn't and still doesn't resist the urge to interfere.

The Death of the West cites U.N. statistics to chart the likely outcome of the demographic trends currently underway worldwide, but most especially in western civilization. Russia is dying off. The Latino population is getting larger in the U.S. European birthrates are dropping and require the influx of immigrant workers to support the social programs that are in place through taxation, etc.

I watched the interview with Ralph Nader as well. Ralph didn't let Pat off the hook. Ralph is steadfast in his principles concerning the corporate takeover of our way of life and he doesn't let Pat dance around that fact.

I voted for Ralph in the last 3 elections, the last pres. election being my last. Politics has become a complete circus show. Pat is a strong historian, not a politically correct one. Of course, that is why we are here right? Truth, not political correctness.

Vince

12:01 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

On a side note, a lot of historians--most?--argue that it was essentially the Red Army that won WW2, not Tom Hanks.

12:45 AM  
Blogger diana said...

Anonymous,

I too am dismayed by Berman's insensitivity to what America has lost to diversity and religious tolerance. Too much chopped liver? Or maybe he just went native hanging out with those Mexican senoritas.

Here's what needs to be done to get us back to the good old days of social cohesion when all was well in America. We need to bring back affirmative action for white males. To that end, let's get those white women back into the kitchen. As a matter of fact, keep them barefoot and pregnant. We do need to increase the White birth rate to keep up with those Latinos.

Put the Blacks, Jews, and everyone else back in segregated communities where they belong. Let them do for themselves. Patrol the borders with drones to keep those Mexicans out. The Muslims are already on the run, let's just keep the pressure on.

The wounded white men will then regain his lost power. He will be free of anxiety and will have no need to hunker down and all will be well in the land of the free.

12:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just for everyones information there were fifty German divisions in Belorussia fighting the Russians and there were nine German divisions in Normandy fighting the Americans and English.The source for this information is Mark Mazower who wrote the book "Hitler's Empire".Also Antony Beevor's accounts of WW2 in the books "Stalingrad"and"The Fall of Berlin 1945" give a much more realistic picture of the war in Europe.Take care Paul

1:40 AM  
Blogger Zosima said...

Sometime late in his presidency Clinton gave a speech about the demographic trends and where they were leading, he stated that by 2050 the US would be a majority non-white country. I couldn’t help but notice that he made this statement as if he was describing some scientific fact or force of nature, his attitude was completely passive and even one of hopeful resignation. Maybe it's my background in history, but I asked myself ,has the leader of any nation on earth ever made such a statement? Can you imagine any leader in any other country making such a statement? BTW, the ethnic makeup of your country is going to completely change and isn’t this a wonderful thing? Imagine the president of Mexico telling the people that in 50 years, Mexico will be majority, oh I don’t know, lets say, Chinese.
Then I realized that Clinton was giving a talk that innummerable CEO’s have given, “there’s going to be some changes around here, its ‘market forces’, your just going to have to deal with it, I dunno, maybe push your desks closer together or something, anyway, not really going to affect me and my friends except to lower the cost of nannies.”
This is the huge blind spot that the Right, and indeed, most Americans refuse to see. And this is understandable because the implications are ominous. The fact is that you don’t really live in a nation, you live in a corporation, where people are not citizens, they’re just personnel that can be shifted around at will. You don’t have leaders you have CEO’s, that is what Clinton was, what Bush was, what Obama is, and what and every future president will be. Oh, we still have a flag, but so do a lot of corporations.
As Dr Berman has clearly shown America is basically a money obsessed business proposition, not a country. When you have a county based only on money, nothing else matters, not the environment, not beauty, not culture, not stable communities, and certainly not your precious ‘family values’.

4:02 AM  
Blogger Nicholas Colloff said...

Dear Morris Berman,

I am going to be in Mexico City (from England) the week beginning 5th February for an internal conference on our (Oxfam International) urban work (where I am the grandly entitled Director of Innovation!!!); and, was wondering whether we might meet, free most evenings and the weekend of 12th/13th. I am happy to buy lunch/dinner. I confess to being a dedicated reader of the trilogy on consciousness, less engaged with the books on America (though I have read them with great interest and reviewed WAF on Amazon).

If this would be welcome, my e-mail is ncolloff@gmail.com or ncolloff@oxfam.org.uk. Best wishes, Nicholas

4:15 AM  
Anonymous Rowdy said...

In fairness though, the Red Army marched in American boots, on American food driven to the front in American trucks etc.

Also a huge % of the tanks + planes (20% of the Red Air Force iirc) were supplied by the US.

Whatever the flaws of the American character, 70 years ago incompetence wasn't one of them.

6:25 AM  
Blogger Zosima said...

Wouldn’t it be nice if we used this as a reason to cut the annual bribe we sent to Egypt, and show the generals they just made a $1.3 b mistake. A real country would. My money says we do nothing. Any takers?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/dec/29/us-egyptian-forces-raid-cairo

6:32 AM  
Anonymous Kevin said...

Three comments on the claim of religion as a positive regulator of behavior during the depression:

- Obviously direct causality is impossible to attribute to any source but I'm inclined to agree with the view that depression-era violence was minimized because a large portion of the population could 'retreat' to farms and rural subsistence. That this environment still functioned served as a tremendous pressure valve. (And obviously it'll be different this time when the food stops reaching the stores.)

-Interesting how religion 'regulated' behavior in Weimer Germany... If you want to make claims for the cultural effects of religious beliefs, you've gotta consider all the examples. (And yes, the German example is much more complex - see CTOS.)

- Mencken: "I believe that religion, generally speaking, has been a curse to mankind – that its modest and greatly over-estimated services on the ethical side have been more than over-borne by the damage it has done to clear and honest thinking."

Kevin

9:14 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

One of our livelier discussions, no doubt abt it. As for the Red Army, I have no way of knowing whether or not supplies came from the US, but manpower came from USSR: in terms of bodies on the line, they did most of the fighting. 3 million died in Stalingrad alone, if I remember correctly.

9:23 AM  
Anonymous David M said...

Anon:
One last comment. I am not disputing the studies,facts and Pat Buchanon. What I am saying is it does not have to be this way. People have within themslves the ability (empathy compassion tolerance) to over come the diversity barriers.

Here is my solution, instead of fretting about what is reported or promoted, do something about it. Get to know the diverse people. Learn about their culture, and religions and teach them about yours.

My original post I mention an invitation to dinner, I was serious. You might find out that you have more in common than you think with these folks while you conversing over a pizza at the kitchen table. You can't change the country or chicago but you can have an impact in your own neighborhood and that's better than reading and fretting about it.

I just hope your solution doesn't involve some kind of hitler remedy because that is the only other kind that I can think of right now.

9:38 AM  
Anonymous Vince said...

Zosima,

You are leaving out one important detail. We are not citizens or employees. We are ASSociates. Yeah!

WWII--

I brought the subject up because Pat Buchanan came up as a topic of discussion. And some of his observations were plausible to me at the time that I read his book and they still are today, to me.

But if my memory of history serves me correctly the British naval fleet was primarily an American naval fleet with British flags (Lend - Lease), a business / hustler deal.

European theater of battle was dominated by Germany for a long period of time, right? Hitler had to turn around and redirect some of his forces to fight the Allies (U.S. included) as opposed to heading east to take down the Soviet Red Army.

History shows that no major power ever won a war on two fronts. The U.S. is shielded by two oceans and enough nuclear fire power to fry the planet for at least 200,000 years.

Just like the North didn't fight the Civil War to end slavery, the U.S. didn't fight the war to save the Jews. Was it a necessary war? Yes, of course. But as history shows, some actions have unintended consequences. The Allies didn't save Poland. We ended up with a negative identity, Soviet Union, and an arms race that in all reality bankrupted to superpowers; we just had more credit. But it was good business, right?

I'll defer any religious discussion to everyone else. I am with George Carlin on the Bible. It was a great work of science fiction. Like the constitution, it is interpreted by those who want to use it to justify an agenda. We should have beyond words on paper for guidance on how to live ethically and morally long ago.

Best,
Vince

10:08 AM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Anon—

Looking around and calling what you see “human nature” is surely a mistake. I remember hearing Erich Fromm speaking in a 1976 radio interview. He said that ‘human nature’ “is a concept that has caused great havoc.” He added that “every society thinks that what it is, is human nature.” I don’t think that it is possible to know what “human nature” even is – to me the expression is meaningless.

“Human nature” can be anything, and it changes with changing conditions. Just choose the “human nature” you’d like, scan the anthropological literature, and you’ll find it somewhere. A good place to start is Colin Turnbull’s book, “The Mountain People”. See what happened to a people, the Ik in Uganda, over just two generations when their culture was destroyed; what they were, and what they became.

Dr. Hugh Drummond, a psychiatrist who used to write for ‘Mother Jones’ magazine, had the following to say when commenting on Turnbull’s book: “What we like to call humanity is only a contrivance of social forces. We are a slice of biology with a vast capacity for accommodation and a deep determination to survive. The big question is not whether we survive or not, but in what form.”

I’ve lived on five continents and the Middle East, and I’ve seen so many different kinds of people with different cultures and religions living side by side peacefully – sometimes with friendship, and sometimes with indifference. And this was in spite of the fact that the entire globe had been subjected to capitalism, colonialism, and imperialism.

When people are not getting along, it is usually not very hard to find the social forces behind it. As the capitalist world system declines, these social forces increase. People will be crammed together under pressure and we should not be surprised to see conflict increasing.

It’s a cheap and easy way to deflect criticism from a dog-eat-dog social system to take the problems it causes and attribute them to “human nature”.

David Rosen

10:37 AM  
Blogger PsychoAnalyst said...

Now that we all agree that diversity leads to an increase in crime, the next logical step is for all Americans whose ancestors crosses oceans to settle in America to immediately start packing and go back to their ancestral countries. This way the Native American Indians will once again enjoy a crime-free society (that despite not being Christians).

Seriously, even a cursory review will indicate that it is not diversity, rather capitalist/imperialist policies that lead to elevated crime rates. For example, compare low crime areas such as Canada, Australia, and New Zealand with high crime areas such as the U.S. and Britain, the latter two being empires. Looking at Britain, Mr. Pat Buchanan may have a hard time explaining why his Irish brethren, who during the Industrial Revolution emigrated en mass to English cities such as Manchester or Birmingham, are still exhibiting high rates of criminality. I am referring to the so-called “scousers,” by the way. Here’s a little scouser comedy for your Friday afternoon:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=STIvNjWobzA

Regarding the comment that “Russia is dying,” may I suggest more recent research indicating that by 2020 Russia will be the world’s fourth economic power? Furthermore, keep in mind that as 3 billion Indians and Chinese become middle class, some may choose to emigrate to areas where land is plentiful and food is more accessible. Looking at a world map, I am stuck by just how much land Mamma Russia has at her disposal. Here’s an article about that:

http://rt.com/news/brics-russia-economy-brazil-779/

Julian

10:40 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Lots of excitement here.

I do think there are some constants that contribute to something called human nature, i.e. of a biological nature, and which I get into a bit in "Wandering God." And I do think that fear of the other, of the unknown or unfamiliar, may be part of that...a fear that got worse over time, over the last 100,000 yrs. But I agree that too often 'human nature' is evoked as an explanation in the way 'instinct' was fashionable 100 yrs ago--it explains everything, and so, nothing. Plus, it does seem to conform to whatever political agenda the arguer is arguing for, wh/makes it even more suspect.

Some of the classic anthropologists, I think, had some good insights into the question, in any case, like Ruth Benedict. Also, a great counterpoint to Turnbull's 'Mountain People' is his 'Forest People'.

11:18 AM  
Blogger PsychoAnalyst said...

My grandfather fought at Stalingrad. If I close my eyes, I can see him laughing heartily at the idea that the Russians were using U.S. supplies.

Julian

11:26 AM  
Anonymous Kelvin said...

WAF:ERS (addressed to the Encyclo-Redactive Syndicate subdivision):

If one wants to end capitalism, vote Republican. As David Harvey observes, glossing Marx's observation, capital and debt are symbiotically related. If you end debt, as the Republicans fervently hope to do, you end capital.

O&D!

12:03 PM  
Anonymous Vince said...

The last Zeitgeist film has couple of doctors talking about the subject of human nature. Being a product of one's own environment is a very critical part of their arguments. Defining the actions of people based solely on human nature is basically a cop out. We are basically letting the environment that we tolerate off of the hook so to speak; the water in which we swim and the air that we breathe.

It would be nice to see Russia finally come into its own provided that it can survive the political turmoil. Russia dying refers to its trend in declining birth rates. Pat's argument was that it would be hard for a shrinking Russia to prevent a country of almost 2 billion from seeking more natural resources to keeps its country from falling apart due to scarcity and the resulting political unrest that would follow. That is what I took away from the book D/W.

But it would be tragic if the only measure by which we measure Mother Russia's success is through economic growth alone, then we are back to where Dr. Berman's arguments have led us. More is not a way of life.

I can't speak to the Irish issue.

Zeitgeist film link:

http://www.youtube.com/user/TZMOfficialChannel

Vince

12:06 PM  
Anonymous Tony0pmoc said...

Morris,

Thanks for your reply, but my question was not about 9/11 conspiracy theories, but about the psychology based video, which I hoped you would watch and respond to. Of course my question was somewhat of a leading one, which almost every serious political commentator such as yourself responds to with a "cricket" blocking shot. But I feel you are being a little disingenuos with your reply, as I feel most of your work has been fundamentally related to the underlying question I was asking, even from before the event itself.

Happy New Year,

Tony

2:11 PM  
Blogger PsychoAnalyst said...

I just watched this program on China's CCTV about employment opportunities available for expats in China. I found it to be very informative, and thought that others here may be interested as well:

http://cctv.cntv.cn/lm/crossover/homepage/index.shtml

5:15 PM  
Blogger PsychoAnalyst said...

Vince,

Indeed, measuring economic success by growth alone is clearly not the way forward. Not on one planet Earth. It would be interesting to see what is China’s end game for all its current growth.

Here is an excellent interview with Chilean economist Manfred Max-Neef about economic growth vs. development:

http://www.democracynow.org/2010/11/26/chilean_economist_manfred_max_neef_on

Julian

7:37 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

WAFers—

I was tempted to write in about the role of US aid to the USSR during WWII, but instead let me suggest that you Google “The Soviet Experience in World War Two” and read an article from The Eisenhower Institute at Gettysburg College.

Dr. Berman—

Three million seems a bit high for Soviet casualties in the battle of Stalingrad. It is true, however, that they suffered more casualties in that battle than the US did during the entire war!

David Rosen

8:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, the Russians could not have won without land lease aid from the U.S. Stalin even acknowledged this ("Russia's War"). I got into many discussions about this in Germany. Also, Americans never fought Germans on fair terms. If Americans ran into Germans on anything close to an equal basis, they fled or were destroyed. The Band of Brothers were beaten back by naval reservists on one occasion. ("Armageddon" by Max Hastings). Germany had virtually no air power at the end. Russia was willing/forced to lose close to 30 million people (military and civilian) to beat Germany. In reality, Russia was basically beaten in the beginning, but they refused to surrender. They didn't have many options...They lost millions trying different strategies, etc. They got better towards the end. The main point is that it took a dictator to beat a dictator. America or England was not going to slug it out with Germany and lose 20+ million people- no way. The German military in WW2 was way beyond anyone else in that war and any American veteran will admit that they were better. They were more indoctrinated, and took more risks, etc. America jumped on Germany in the 11th hour. Our contribution to beating Germany was very minimal-perhaps sped it up. I think Russia would have beaten Germany even if D-Day hadn't succeeded. Germany didn't have the manpower or oil. Also American troops didn't take chances or risk loss of life. They would go very slowly, and Stalin was put off by this. He didn't think it was fair that Russians had to do all the dying. He thought that Americans were a lot of talk, but little action. Sound familiar?

10:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am glad that I ignited so much activity. Yes Globalization (with its inherent diversity) is going to break down societies. I saw this in Germany recently, which is no big surprise. I saw this in Ireland, in Sweden, in England. The native populations are being overwhelmed by the "other." The western elites misinterpreted World War 2. They thought that nationalism, shared ethnicity, pride in one's country were all bad ideas. This is because of what the Nazis did. Yet, when a country throws open its borders, and allows all kinds of people in the natives get restless and feel overwhelmed. I see this in the hostility between blacks and Mexicans in Chicago. This is really about Globalization: loss of jobs, outsourcing, insourcing of cheap labor. The middle/poor classes in all these societies are getting "squeezed" by corporations, elites, etc. These societies bring in super brains from China, Germany, and India, and then they are flooding the low wage market with people who are willing to work for slave wages. Think about it! What is an average, middle class American or European to do? Should they join the military and risk their lives for peanuts, take out a loan for college and not get a job. Not everyone can be as Thomas Friedman says "exceptional." Friedman's new book is a joke. Most people are downright dumb in every country! Look at I.Q. distribution. It's getting hopeless for these people. Eventually a failed artist, or a dreamer, or thug, will emerge saying how things "really" are. This is similar to what Chris Hedges already says plus a racial blaming component. There has got to be a scapegoat. History then repeats itself. Yet, it may never happen, and I hope it doesn't. This is just what I see right now as I observe Americans in Chicago or Swedes in Malmo, or Irish people in Dublin. They are overwhelmed, confused and angry. Globalization is not working out for most people.

11:27 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

I saw a wonderfully literate film called A Brief Encounter set in England just as the war was winding down. So I thought I would try to find some more films from the same time period and place and for a few hours at least, forget my craven, semi-literate fellows. I found that the films the British director Michael Powell fit the bill, he and a Hungarian named Emeric Pressburger combined to make a number of interesting films. One was about a British bomber pilot played by David Niven whose plane crashes on the return fight, called A Matter of Life and Death. The name of the film was changed to Stairway to Heaven for American audiences and when I sought to find out why, I came across this:

Powell and Pressburger objected to the American distributor's renaming the film Stairway to Heaven, but had to put up with it. The distributor believed that American audiences would not want to see a film with the word "Death" in the title, especially just after World War II.

So, the British public had no problem with the word death even though they had experienced far more of it! Evidence of the childish mentality of Americans was stalking me even as I tried to escape into another place and time. After I picked my jaw up off the ground, I found myself in a frantic search for my passport renewal application. Am I overreacting or just going insane?

1:42 AM  
Anonymous Rowdy said...

Well, it's always been my suspicion that not only could Russia not have beaten Germany alone, I think that really, Germany *did* beat Russia - at least psychologically, in the same way that Japan psychologically defeated the USA.

The USSR never really recovered from the war (and I've heard Russians argue that they still haven't) whereas the Germans seemed to spring back from defeat with added zest. Apparently in the 1970's Brezhnev, who had witnessed the Wehrmacht at first hand, still feared the Germans far more than he feared the Americans.

The Germans may have been militarily pushed back, but they nevertheless got some idea of the kind of focussed power they could unleash if they wanted to.

The Japanese too. At the end of the Battle of Okinawa, the American forces descended into deep gloom, as they knew the next battle would be on the Japanese mainland, which would be far, far worse. The atomic bombs were a sign of a lack of willpower in many ways - a deux ex machina.

9:43 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

Re: diversity

Perhaps the root of the problem isn't what different groups of Americans don't have in common, so much as what they do have in common, i.e., the Greed Uber Alles mentality. If this were a homogeneous populace, that mentality would still create a Hobbesian culture of each against all, don't you think? Perhaps diversity simply offers a convenient & easy hook for all that frantic & grasping Me-ism?

Zosima,

Let me also recommend Powell & Pressburger's wonderful A Canterbury Tale. Their body of work is discussed in Peter Woodcock's book This Enchanted Isle, which looks at England as Albion, and deals with the spirit of place, the essence of a meaningful culture. As does the recent music history Electric Eden by Rob Young, which is not only a fascinating history of English folk-rock, but also delves into the idea of a land & underlying culture with deeply-rooted history, tradition, and soul -- precisely the sort of thing that has no place in the consumerist society, where everything must be new & shiny & instantly obsolete.

9:54 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

R-

According to KGB files opened in 1991, Russia's real fear all along, i.e. during the Cold War, was not the US but a re-armed Germany. As for the bomb, it may have been dropped as a warning to the USSR, at the end of the war: Gar Alperovitz, "Atomic Diplomacy".

mb

10:31 AM  
Anonymous Vince said...

MB,

I just read the latest review of your book on Amazon. I couldn't help but to comment on the review. Unfortunately is was so predictable. It looks like it came from another iPad worshiper.

Vince

12:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous II said...

Anonymous,

You make some valid points, as the uncomprehending sarcasm of respondents such as diana demonstrates. On the other hand,

"Steven Pinker's research backs this up."

I wouldn't rely too heavily on the "Peevin' Stinker", if I were you. His cherry-picking is as notable as it is ridiculous. A fine take-down of Pinker's latest in Foreign Affairs is linked below, for those who might be interested:

http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/136957/timothy-snyder/war-no-more?page=show

1:03 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Julian—

In your first post you said of the US, “It already is a worse police state than Romania ever was during its Stalinist days...”

I suppose that most Americans, at least the white ones, still aren’t aware of how much of a police state the US has become. Poor blacks and some other minorities know their neighborhood police are an army of occupation, while American Muslims know they are being watched by the secret police and they have to wonder who is an informer. I don’t know whether or not ordinary Romanians who went about their lives in a normal way thought of themselves as living in a police state during the Stalinist days.

I am reminded of Saul Bellow’s 1982 novel, “The Dean’s December”, part of which is set in Romania, and which has an American university dean and his Romanian wife being watched and harassed by the Securitate. If the situation had been reversed, and an American woman had emigrated to Communist Romania in the 1950’s, and wanted to visit the US in 1982 with her Romanian husband who was a Dean in Romanian university and maybe was a party member, I don’t know if he would even be able to get a visa to the US. By then it might have been possible.

In any case, I’ve learned over the years not to praise or condemn the governments or systems in other countries, but to leave that to the people who know what it’s like to live with them.

On the other hand, I have told people who ask me to help them get a visa to the US not to be deceived; nobody in America lives the life you see in American TV soap-operas. Also, by the time your children are about fifteen years old, your relationship with them is likely to be pretty much over; they will grow up, and they will leave you – which is disturbing to most people, but normal to most Americans.

David Rosen

2:57 PM  
OpenID brutus said...

Three brief comments on a multifaceted discussion.

If human nature exists, it tracks better to biology than to psychology. We all eat and drink, poop and pee, sleep, age, etc., but the world of ideas and the mentalities those ideas engender are malleable as competing cultures diffuse through populations. Such ideas have tremendous impacts, but precisely because they are ever changing, they cannot be chalked up to immutable, universal human nature.

I sometimes struggle between discarding whole the ravings of lunatics versus entertaining their occasionally cogent remarks. If Pat Buchanan manages to get a few things right from time to time through carefully constructed historical understanding, well, good for him. But I'm unlikely to ever cite him in an appeal to authority because he has so completely invalidated himself with some pretty wild ravings.

The question of who is ultimately responsible for winning WWII may be good for bragging rights but is rather pointless. A more circumspect view might observe that the two presumptive winners of WWII (U.S. and USSR) both launched immediately into further paranoid and self-destructive wars. The two presumptive losers were dishonorably chastened but rebuilt themselves (with assistance). So in some respects, there is no real winning in winning, and losing may have been the best thing to happen to the losers.

3:19 PM  
Anonymous Kevin said...

Per WW II: Anonymous comment needs more emphasis - "Germany didn't have the manpower OR OIL." The latter was the primary driver of the war's outcome - the other factors, while important, were probably ancillary. (Ever wonder why there was so much emphasis on all that 'desert rat' stuff? At the end of the day coal liquification just wasn't enough.)

Per The Archers (Powell & Pressburger): stunning films. All are recommended - I'd imagine "I Know Where I'm Going" and "Black Narcissus" would also be favs of most at this site, as would what for all intents and purposes is Powell's last film - the incredible "Peeping Tom" (which was critically ridiculed when it came out).

Has anyone seen the English-release version of "Gone to Earth?" I've never watched the (Selznick-)butchered U.S.-release version "The Wild Heart" but I'd imagine the U.K. cut is interesting, as the book would seem to be a great Powell subject.

Kevin

3:24 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Vince-

This is the kind of ignorance/misreading I've been expecting, to be quite frank. For folks like this, the nuance just doesn't exist. It doesn't matter that I explicitly state that the nonhustling society was purchased at the cost of a slave system; they just excoriate me as tho I never said it. And quite honestly, if Douglas Dowd cd misread the text, anyone can.

mb

5:10 PM  
Anonymous Rowdy said...

Let's leave 2011 on a high note:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Cn7ZW8ts3Y

5:47 PM  
Anonymous Vince said...

Brutus,

I do agree with you about the winners and losers of WWII. But remember this; through imperial domination the U.S. has provided a security blanket that western Europe enjoyed so that a socially democratic system of governments could grow and prosper. It is nice when your countries spend very little on defense and so much on social programs and education.

One only wished that the U.S. would have been smart enough to spend such a large portion of tax revenues on social and education programs rather than throwing more money down the rabbit hole to fund history's largest military. Spending more on defense than the next 12 countries combined is quite ludicrous.

All of this spending on defense is at the expense of the American taxpayer who is too busy worried about the next great gadget to understand how thoroughly they are being fleeced by the government and corporations, or the saner citizens who have been thrown on the economic scrap heap through no fault of their own.

My points concerning PB were that our foreign interferences have unintended consequences. This is something Americans have yet to grapple with; even after a decade after 9/11. This can do attitude at all costs incurs debts we can never repay.

Politically, I have given up on the system. It is a marketing scam. People want to be told want they want to hear much like a bedtime story. When I watched a speaking engagement of Dr. Berman's about DAA and a man got up and starting getting upset because MB wasn't telling him what he wanted to hear, that is when I knew that I needed to read some of his books.

Unfortunately our society makes money by building people up and even more money tearing them down. Chris Hedges talks about that in Empire of Illusion. Ad hominem attacks are the norm. So even when someone says something that makes sense or uncovers some necessary truths they are lambasted by the media and people eat it up.

But understand this, I am not a fan of Pat Buchanan's. However I have heard wild ravings from people throughout our disgusting political spectrum. Some of Pat's appeal to white christian culture are a bit much to deal with. But so are the ravings of fools like Al Sharpton, Bill O'Riely, or Rachel Maddow.

My concern now is that we have people in power now that have the capacity to convince enough Americans that we need more war and more interference in other people's business. This sable rattling with Iran isn't funny business. We've got that country trapped on all sides. Crazy people over there would be compelled to do things that we aren't prepared to deal with. Meanwhile defense contractors, financiers and speculators would make a killing on the whole deal, hustling all the way to the bank.

MB,

You are absolutely right. People will read what they want to read into or from if it does not fit into their web of belief.

Vince

7:35 PM  
Blogger Terence Stone said...

Kelvin, Thanks very much for your thoughts. btw, you're the only other Kelvin I've know beside my blood brother.

I agree with you, David M; from the Canadian side of the border, the culture of fear deliberately generated in the US is absolutely shocking. Diversity is bound to be a victim.

For the commentator who suggested it was the problem, a quick trip with me along Bloor Steet, Toronto, would disabuse you of the notion that diversity is anything but visceral colour and joy.

As for organized religion, I believe ascension theologies provide a pattern that allows us to diminish the value of everything underfoot. I have a son in the oil industry who uses his faith to suggest that if climate change actually leads to the death of the planet, it's just the way that God decided to enact Aramageddon--and he's not the only one. Go figure...

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

I've noticed that "organized religion" on most discussion forums seems to be a euphemism for American Christianity, primarily fundamentalist protestant Christianity. While I'm not posting to defend organized religion (or at least I don't think I am), it's important for me to note that the best cultures I've been exposed to, or have studied, all have organized religion as a critical component. I was raised by immigrants who were very dedicated to their faith and (to me, more importantly) all the stuff their faith gave them...a sense of community, a sense of ethics, a greater cause, etc....Obviously, our right-wing fundamentalists in this country have quite a fucked up view of things. But then, don't Americans have a way of fucking up most things?

It's therefore hard for me to consider organized religion foolish, or even wrong, in light of what I have known and seen. It's also hard to consider our version of bible thumping to be even close to the same thing as old abrahamic religions, paganism, tribal faiths, buddhism, etc...once again, all the real and traditional cultures that I know of, and the few that I have experienced (that I wish to soon be a part of), have faith as a core.

12:32 AM  
Anonymous Jim said...

Dr. Berman and fellow WAF'ers,

We've rolled through yet another year. We're one year closer to whatever the future has for us, and certainly, one year closer to our empire's demise.

I'm a reader--have been since my Mom walked me down to our small local library at age nine and signed me up for the summer reading club--10 books read over the summer and you got your card punched for each book read. At the end of the summer, if you read all 10, you probably got a gift certificate to McDonald's.

There have been periods when I didn't read as much, but the past 10 years, I've read 20-30 books each year. This year, my goal was 36 completed and I fell a bit short at 33.

I decided to go through my list, write a small synopsis for each one, and of course, at 33 books, I ended up with a fairly longish post. It was a good exercise, however, reflecting back over the year and what I learned through my book reading, visiting blogs like this one, seeing the discussion that takes place and occasionally leaving a comment.

One of my 33 was "A Question of Values," read early in the year. "Why America Failed" has been ordered and it will be one of my first books read in 2012. Several of the books on my list came from discussions and suggestions at this site.

One thing I've come to realize as I approach middle age (will turn 50 later this month) is that reading provides a foundation of knowledge that most other Americans lack. With all the other dysfunctions that we exhibit as a people, the lack of depth and breadth is an obvious one when you read and think, and try to understand the world around you.

I continue to appreciate your contribution, Dr. Berman. It is because of writers and thinkers like you that I've gotten to the place where I'm at as a thinker. Your books have had a profound influence on me, as have books like the late Neil Postman's had. In fact, it was Postman's writing that introduced me to you and your work, so there is a continuity and a chain that exists that comes from reading books by writers with great depth and vision, which you certainly have in spades.

I hope many other readers discover you in 2012. While I don't think books like yours will ever have mass appeal, I think they occupy an important space for people, call us NMIs, call us the "chosen few," call us the "remaining readers," come up with whatever one considers amenable. I personally like your NMI tag myself.

Best wishes for the coming year. May you continue to find reasons to write, share your observations and wisdom with others, like those of us that come here to DAA for some daily sustenance.

I'm hoping for some type of East Coast book "tour" in early 2012 for "WAF" and a possible NYC appearance. Boston would be even better, as I'm two hours north of The Hub.

Cheers,

-Jim

8:48 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dear Jim,

Thank u for yr support; I really appreciate it, and am glad my work and this blog have contributed to yr intellectual 'expansion', for lack of a better word. Two possible lecture tours are still in the offing, tho I'm not sure how real they are at this pt. One is Vancouver-San Francisco in March; other is NY-DC in April. Hard to say, since they depend on generosity of institutions; but I'll keep u all posted.

Happy New Year 2u all!

mb

10:08 AM  
Blogger PsychoAnalyst said...

David,

During Romania’s Communist days everybody was aware of the fact that the country was a police state. So state propaganda became useless. This situation was exploited by the American propaganda machine, and people came to take their news and reality check from equally deceitful sources such as Radio Free Europe, The Voice of America, which were and still are organs of the CIA.

The reach of the Securitate was exaggerated, but sufficient to create an atmosphere of fear. Certain professions (e.g., educators) were more carefully monitored. My mother was a teacher, so she had to avoid things like being seen entering a church. But my parents had no trouble obtaining permission to visit Western Europe several times during the 70s.

When I wrote that America is a worse police state than Romania ever was I reflected upon memories from my years working at the Justice Department. Let us just say that Bradley Manning-style “torture” has always been a widespread practice of the American Ministry of Love, especially targeting illegal immigrants and people with mental illness. Seeing that, kind of put a damper on my enthusiasm about what the U.S. has come to stand for.

Regarding your point about American children turning their back on their parents, this is the primary reason why I chose to raise my youngest child in Romania. I had already lost two older children to America, and grieved for many years trying to understand their coldness of heart, selfishness, and total disregard for their parents. Right now I am just not willing to throw yet another of my children on the toxic altar of American capitalism. This is actually common with children first generation immigrants. Some of these dynamics are nicely covered in books such as: Consumed: How Markets Corrupt Children, Infantilize Adults, and Swallow Citizens Whole by Benjamin R. Barber, No Logo by Naomi Klein, and Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate.

Julian

10:41 AM  
Anonymous David M said...

Dr. Berman & Terrence
The mantra that "god has given man dominion over the earth" could be the most distructive.The hustlers use it to make profit and gain power and the religious community uses it to justify lifestyles. God put that oil there for our benefit. Along with causing wars, environmental damage and animal abuse it becomes (what you might call) a concious self fullfilling prophesy of distruction as Terrence points out. I read a piece on (I think it was truthdig) after the Iraqi invasion that reported on increase activity on the internet between evangelicals. Apparently they were excited because the rapture was just around the corner. Of course this mantra is found throughout many religions not just the Christian.

11:05 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

I certainly hope you come to NYC this spring. I'll be the one in the first row doubly kvelling by the way.
For your information yesterday the cowardly Obama signed into law the defense authorizing bill thus codifying the indefinite detention of Americans anywhere in the world including US soil since, as the bill implies, the entire world is now a battlefield. Obama said that he would never exercise this power but he also said that he would veto this bill earlier. Whether he does or not certianly some creten president will and even modest disent could be construed as giving aid to the terrorists. In other words, say goodbye to any constitutional protections especially the 5th, 6th, and certainly the 1st.
Ray McGovern, a former CIA analyst, was asked but Alex Jones the genesis of this bill. McGovern answered that congress cannot depend on the police to protect them since they too may come to realize that they are part of the 99%. Only the military, he answered, could be relied upon to follow orders without question. Time to pack up, guys.

11:39 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dan-

I'm sure yr rt, in terms of the pres being able to do anything he wants w/anyone; but the NYT coverage this morning of the law was a tad confusing--that Obama objected to parts of the 'indefinite detention' clause for example (when I was under the impression, from Carl Levin, that it was Obama who insisted on having that rt). I'm sure this is all hair-splitting, but exactly what the law says remains just a bit confusing; at least, to me. Bottom line, tho, is that it is hard to refute the argument that we now have a police state on our hands (whether de facto or de jure).

mb

12:03 PM  
Anonymous shep said...

Julian:

My children and grandchildren have also turned their backs. They are facing, with single minded blank stares, the American Oz playground. Of course, my son inherited 2-3 million from his wife's mother, whom they generally spoke negatively of, esp. during her alcohol days. My daughter has a relatively high earning job and her husband contributes pretty well, so, they do not need my support. The grandkids I hardly know.

When I was young, we ALWAYS, visited my parents, and hers, on a regular basis. I thought they were way cool, even though my father was pretty mute the whole time (except under the influence on Xmas), he was the best.

Nowadays, they infrequently call and rarely come to visit.

They love me, of course, but they think I am independent and comfortable (Yes - born white.)

I FEEL YOUR PAIN BRO!

MB:

A Mexico City Summit wd be the ultimate for me but impossible on several fronts, even if invited to attend and simply listen. Of course, u cd hire a videographer and produce a documentary for the rest of us.

12:58 PM  
Blogger Terence Stone said...

Let me be really clear about my last post. My reference to ascension theologies was exactly that--all of them. Christianity was no more or no less prominent in my post, except to the degree it has negatively affected my family. When I talk of ascension theologies I can be no clearer. God, Allah, Yahweh, the Buddha in some sects of Buddhism, the Moon Goddess in Paganism if she is to redeem you from this world. It doesn't matter; ascending means just that--getting off the planet. Beyond this, I leave you all to figure out the implications of this, the template this may provide for ways of thinking and acting that this may consciously or unconsciously imply--or not--in your own ways. There is absolutely no need for people to be oversensitive to what is nothing lest than an invitation. It's not an attack on anyone.

2:11 PM  
Blogger PsychoAnalyst said...

MB,

Although I am new to this site, a Mexico City summit sounds great. However, I thought I should mention that for me anything sooner than July or August would likely not work, as that is the time I plan to return to the U.S. for a few months. Otherwise, it would be an awfully long flight from here.

Julian

4:42 PM  
Anonymous Kelvin said...

Sun, and sky, and breeze, and solitary walks, and summer holidays, and the greenness of fields, and the delicious juices of meats and fishes, and society, and the cheerful glass, and candle-light, and fireside conversations, and innocent vanities, and jests, and irony itself--do these things go out with life?

Can a ghost laugh, or shake his gaunt sides, when you are pleasant with him?

And you, my midnight darlings, my Folios! must I part with the intense delight of having you (huge armfuls) in my embrace? Must knowledge come to me, if it comes at all, by some awkward experiment of intuition, and no longer by this familiar process of reading?

Shall I enjoy friendships there, wanting the smiling indications which point me to them here,--the recognisable face--the "sweet assurance of a look"?--

In winter this intolerable disinclination to dying--to give it its mildest name--does more especially haunt and beset me.

****

Where be those puling fears of death, just now expressed or affected?--Passed like a cloud...

And now another cup of the generous! and a merry New Year, and many of them to you all, my masters!

--Charles Lamb, The Essays of Elia, from "New Year's Eve"

5:15 PM  
Blogger PsychoAnalyst said...

Shep,

I hear ya. Even as a psychologist, and I’m having a hard time understanding what’s wrong with my older kids. They are doing OK career-wise, but they turned out pretty cold hearted. And I’m sure it’s not because I didn’t put them in an expensive-enough private school, or I didn’t give them enough trips to Europe, or I didn’t tell them I love them enough many times. So I had to accept it, and thanks to my new child, I have largely gotten over it. You really have to move on, otherwise it eats at you psychologically.

But something is really wacked out with this new generation. The "Facebook generation." They lost ability to relate to people, except to little cartoon-like avatars in Second Life. Last spring I wrote an article about the criminal enterprise that American psychiatry has turned into, and among other things I mentioned how Social Security Disability due to mental illness in children and adolescents increased 35 times (3500 percent) between 1987 and 2007. This is an epidemic! These are Social Security Administration data – anybody can look them up. I think Dr. Berman mentioned these figures as well in one of his book speeches.

These days it’s getting pretty darn risky to raise kids in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. That's one reason I booked out.

Julian

5:42 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

DR-

Nothing wrong w/yr last post, but I worry abt other folks not coming forward if 2 or 3 people dominate the airwaves, so to speak. Wait a day, if u wd, and compress a bit--thanx.

mb

11:16 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

So, Bonobos choose not to live in the Ayn Randian, Pottesrville kind of world our owners want for us, if only they knew what they're missing.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/7400316/Bonobos-hate-to-dine-alone-scientists-find.html

12:21 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

Here's another technophile "expert" claiming that the Internet has made this a Golden Age of knowledge:

http://www.salon.com/2012/01/01/
are_we_on_information_overload/singleton/

The comments posted in response are well worth reading, as they tear his argument to shreds quite nicely.

Something I run across more frequently these days is the outright mockery & derision directed at books & those who read them. If I raise questions about who owns & controls & censors the digital flow of information, that's brushed aside -- all that matters is having instant access to ... well, what? LOLcats? 10 easy diet tips? What the Kardashians are up to lately?

This is a large part of the human disconnect -- and see how we're using technical images & phrases for human beings & relationships? People boast of being connected, wired in, part of the Net -- the very Net that's scooped them up & will process them.

It comes down to the title of an old Erich Fromm book, To Have Or To Be? -- and clearly the majority has chosen Having over Being. Yet what do they really have in the end? I encounter the same callous, crass, shallow worldview (if it can be dignified with that phrase) as others posting here. These are people who haven't learned how to be human, and most likely never will. In fact, "being human" is a meaningless concept to them, something old-fashioned & obsolete, certainly nothing they'll ever have to consider in the simulacrum of their lives.

As far as I can see, the increase in digital connection has actually resulted in far less genuine communication, and certainly less genuine human connection. A reading of Mark Slouka's prescient War of the Worlds from 1996 shows that some recognized early on that the digital world was the modern equivalent of ascension theology, of shedding this astonishingly beautiful & wondrous material world for an idealized illusion. You won't have to interact with anyone else in digital heaven; all will be ego, and at the lowest common denominator, too. So why bother treating others with any decency or consideration right now?

10:37 AM  
Anonymous Joe doesn't know said...

http://news.yahoo.com/
personal-optimism-prevails
-2012-nationally-globally
-less-120148814.html

from the HRIR department...leave it to Americans to hold a positive view of what's in store for us on a personal level but much less so on a national and global level. Only Americans can be deluded and fatuous enough to think that the two aren't connected. Temporarily embarrassed millionaires indeed.

2:00 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

"Since the war in Vietnam, which began nearly twenty years before he was born, he would argue that the concept known as *America* has played itself out, that the country is no longer a workable proposition, but if anything continues to unite the fractured masses of this defunct nation, if American opinion is still unanimous about any one idea, it is a belief in the notion of progress. He contends that they are wrong, that the technological developments of the past decades have in fact only diminished the possibilities of life. In a throwaway culture spawned by the greed of profit-driven corporations, the landscape has grown ever more shabby, ever more alienating, ever more empty of meaning and consolidating purpose....He takes it for granted that the future is a lost cause, and if the present is all that matters now, then it must be a present imbued with the spirit of the past."

--Paul Auster, "Sunset Park"

4:37 PM  
Anonymous Golf Pro said...

John Gray on the myth of progress:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-16245250

Typically robust stuff.

5:55 PM  
Blogger Terence Stone said...

Tom,

Thanks for this:

"A reading of Mark Slouka's prescient War of the Worlds from 1996 shows that some recognized early on that the digital world was the modern equivalent of ascension theology, of shedding this astonishingly beautiful & wondrous material world for an idealized illusion".--Makes sense

Joe,

Polls on optimism. This is like taking a measure of a passive hope, where all we need to do is sit in front of a television or computer screen and watch a world unroll time like a bolt of cloth to reveal that at its centre the material is mildewed and shredded.

The polls themselves become manufacturers of false hope that helps contain the very energies required to rebel against the status quo.

It's polls of optimism, people forget, that were the underpinnings of the bull markets--people in passive hope of equity increase--that ultimately led to the crash still in motion.

8:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Julian,
I'd like to read your article, how might I find it?  What  % of adults and juveniles do you suppose  on mental health disability are not disabled at all and are just hustling for a gov't SSI check? I personally know of a lot of people who fake mental illness for a gov't check, the same people who adopt their children off on paper so that the addopting accomplice can get another "step-parent" check from the state among other hustling scams. 
Mike O' 

8:52 PM  
Anonymous Kelvin said...

"If you will be so kind to let me respond to Kelvin regarding Lierre Keith two comment threads ago: I hope that I am not coming off as really harsh toward Keith, even tho I think that she comes off pretty melodramatic in her response that you cited. But when you go to the DGR website and look under "Security," it clearly states not to talk to police, FBI, etc. It raises red flags to me that going to these authorities is the response that she and Jensen have at the first sign of trouble. I think what those vegan thugs did was unacceptable, but one of the latest tweets from DGR mentioned the willingness to lay down your life for the planet. I find their actions and their words to be inconsistent. But that doesn't mean that I don't find their words to be true in a lot of ways."

Dear Diandra (aka Anonymous),

I've just had a chance to hear Derrick Jensen talk about the spate of death threats and his reasons for going to the FBI and local police. I don't see anything hypocritical about a victim of death threats using whatever tools they have available to protect themselves from violence (verbal or physical). The police are a tool, although, as Jensen has asserted, their main function is to protect private property, capital, and the rich.

Why get so hung up about consistency and purity when someone is saying that they're going to hire snipers to kill you, or that they're going to castrate you and send you a picture of a castrated man, as happened to Jensen?

What the DGR security guidelines essentially say is that above ground groups should not engage in gossip and bragging about illegal actions planned by underground groups or lying about such actions or the existence of an underground. The purpose is to protect both groups, especially with the increasing surveillance since 9/11.

You seem to be fence sitting. You want to say that Keith and Jensen do great work but that they're hypocrites when they go to police when they are visited or threatened with violent acts. But many of the anarchists at the anarchist book fair cheered Keith getting pied instead of protecting her or showing solidarity with a victim. So who ya gonna call? Anarchists? Good luck!

Here's Jensen's rationale:

Deep Green Resistance, Death Threats and the Police:
An interview with Derrick Jensen

12:30 AM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

WAFers—

Re: South-Bashing

I went to Georga Military Acadamy, just outside of Atlanta, for a few months in 1956 – I came home for the Christmas break and refused to go back. The civil rights movement was in the air, and the word ‘segregation’ was on everybody’s lips. It seemed that everybody there fit Martin Luther King’s description of ‘Bull’ Conner: “A little man with a big dose of hate.” All I had to do is say something like, “I judge people as individuals, not by what color they are”, and I was labeled “Ni**er-Lover”. I somehow managed to prevent myself from getting beaten up too badly. That experience, plus the whole civil-rights movement, colored my attitude toward the South.

WAF is a truly valuable book which tells us why Americans are living out the old Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times.” But Chapter four, “The Rebuke of History”, is an additional eye-opener. It helped me see the southern racism I witnessed as a backlash to the civil war, reconstruction, and then the civil rights movement which they percieved as more of the same humilitation. I now realize that, without northern policies and attitudes, southerners might not be any more racist, and possibly less agressively so, than what is ‘normal’ for most white Americans.*

David Rosen

*Douglas Dowd should only see it this way too. (Halavai!)

2:25 AM  
Anonymous Osaka-D said...

The musical accompaniment to your book?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYAa9HAl2f8

Osaka-D

3:20 AM  
Blogger Terence Stone said...

Hi Anonymous,

Please excuse me for inserting myself in your question to Julian. I just wish to add to this discussion if you find it helpful.

I am a Registered Clinical Counsellor in Canada and have worked with young people and parents for many years. I think the whole framing of the question of disability is problematic.

On the one hand diagnostic categories for young people have proliferated over the last three decades. Labels stick and often produce the symptoms of whatever is diagnosed. Big payoffs for Big Pharma.

On the other hand, the youth of the US, Canada, and increasingly other Western nations are in terrible crisis as a function of a very sick late industrial culture that leave our children in existential crisis. As Karl Tomm suggests, there should be a DSM for social contexts rather than individuals.

You might want to check into our professional website at www.counsellingvictoria.ca. Under the Resources tab, go int articles and read the just published short article, "The Politics of Play: Beyond Therapeutic Boundaries".

Regards,
Terence

1:17 PM  
Blogger Jimi Jones said...

C-SPAN's Book TV interviewed Chris Hedges a couple days ago. You can find the three-hour (!) interview here: http://www.c-span.org/Events/In-Depth-with-Author-and-Journalist-Chris-Hedges/10737426679-1/

Note that about two and a half hours in there's a caller who references Professor Berman.

1:30 PM  
Anonymous shep said...

Anon: RE: welfare cheats.

It's their survival job in the majority of cases. How many trust fund chillin' do nothing? Corp welfare dwarfs the cheats who are copying the big bosses. I don't blame them either. Is this a great country or what?

Many people of means are privileged and special in their own eyes and become whatever vocation they desire. For instance, some choose to become, as Mencken tells it, "Holy Clerks" ("A young theologue, who is ambitious but a somewhat lazy fellow, who desires to shine in the world without too much effort.")

Kelvin:

Not sure who u are for. I think Jensen is one of the best we have:

on anarchism: (conversation in a Clarence Darrow trial)

“You are an avowed Atheist. Is that correct or not?”

“No. That is not true. I am a good deal worse than an avowed anarchist!”

“You are a good deal worse than an anarchist?” he asked, puzzled.

“Yes, sir, I believe in Christianity.”

Dovidel:

My fellow students (Not I - too chicken) played GMA in football and they were tough as nails. I believe it is called Woodward Academy now? If so, my son graduated from there.

1:38 PM  
Blogger Sarasvati said...

For anyone with questions about the NDAA bill, here’s a column by Glenn Greenwald:
http://www.salon.com/2011/12/16/three_myths_
about_the_detention_bill/singleton/

In a previous column Glenn wrote: “Obama’s objections to this bill had nothing to do with civil liberties, due process or the Constitution. It had everything to do with Executive power. The White House’s complaint was that Congress had no business tying the hands of the President when deciding who should go into military detention, who should be denied a trial, which agencies should interrogate suspects (the FBI or the CIA). Such decisions…are for the President, not Congress, to make. In other words, his veto threat was not grounded in the premise that indefinite military detention is wrong; it was grounded in the premise that it should be the President who decides who goes into military detention and why, not Congress.”

4:04 PM  
Anonymous Kelvin said...

Dear Shep,

You said:

"Not sure who u are for. I think Jensen is one of the best we have"

I thought it was apparent that I too think Derrick Jensen is one of the best we have, along with Morris Berman, Chris Hedges, Gore Vidal and many others. Also, I would be preferred being asked "what am I for," than "who am I for." I'm not for anyone, and especially not for any of the presidential candidates. I'm not a good fan, and am averse to hero worship or whoreship.

My recent post started out with a quote from Diandra (aka Anon.). The rest of the post, outside the quotation marks, was my own words in which I stated that I thought it was appropriate to go to the police if you are a victim of violent threats or actions. Some anarchists believe that one should never go to the police and that to do so is selling out and hypocritical. I don't agree with that and side with Jensen's rationale in cases where one is a victim of anti-social behavior.

Although I enjoyed the Darrow trial quotes, I don't see the point you were making. Am I for anarchism? I honestly don't know but I'd like to learn more about the history of anarchist movements.

A problem that I've heard being discussed on radical forums is that of "horizontal hostility." Instead of cooperating with each other, radical groups seem to be balkanizing over issues of "dogmatic lifestyle," such as vegans attacking non-vegans who are also against right wing ideology. Of course, this is what the powers-that-be relish and encourage: divide and conquer,

O&D

6:27 PM  
Blogger PsychoAnalyst said...

Mike O’,

Send me an email at psychoanalyst101@gmail.com and I’ll send you the article.

I don’t have a number as to what percentage of people have successfully faked mental illness to get on disability, but when I did disability evaluations, I would guess that around half of the people I saw had some serious mental illness (bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, major depression). The rest tended to have milder problems, such as anxiety, and didn’t usually get our recommendation for disability. I would like to think that it would be difficult for a poorly-educated individual (as most of our patients tended to be) to properly fake the complex symptoms of severe mental illness syndromes, but I guess somebody determined to do it could.

BTW, the explosion in rates of mental illness in the U.S. coincides with the beginning of mass marketing of psychiatric drugs, of which Prozac was the first. Mental illness disability wasn’t a problem in the U.S. before 1987, and is not a problem today in the countries that don’t have a psychiatrist-BigPharma-FDA type of cartel in place. These drugs are very harmful, and should only be used for a short time, and never with children, whose brains are still developing. Yet, the DSM-V (psychiatric diagnostic manual), slated for release in 2013, targets children in a much bigger way than the current DSM-IV does, so things are likely to get worse. It also targets the elderly in a bigger way too. It’s voodoo-science, most psychiatric drugs don’t really work, but they create life-long dependency, so they are multi-billion dollar a year best sellers for their corporations. Let’s just say that this is the largest attempt at chemical control of the population in history. Or maybe it's the bad Karma from the Opium Wars coming home westward?...

Julian

6:32 PM  
Anonymous Kelvin said...

Hi Shep,

One exception on hero worship:

Karl Marx is my human god.

6:46 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

WAFers,

Take a look at “Will his New Sanctions on Iran Cost Obama the Presidency?” on Juan Cole’s blog, “Informed Comment”. It says that Obama’s pressure on Iran is leading to much higher oil prices. After the article somebody posted the following comment:

“Morris Berman in his 2006 book with the appropriate title “Dark Ages America” notes that when empires are on the way down they choose leaders who hasten the collapse. That was sure true of W Bush. For the last couple of years Obama has done the same thing.”

I sent a reply suggesting that people interested in why this was happening should check out WAF. Let’s see if it makes it through ‘moderation’.

Go thou and do likewise.

David Rosen
(MB - please forgive another post so soon.)

7:20 PM  
Anonymous Joe doesn't know said...

Terence,

Gd point on the polls...ridiculous, isn't it? Props to you on your chosen profession, btw...i'm in the line of work as well. good to meet a fellow counselor.

10:52 PM  
Anonymous Paul Emmons said...

With relief one sees-- when since 10 p.m. EST the American media, and even the BBC, have obsessed over the Iowa Republican caucus-- that the last post here is 4:40 p.m. and makes no mention of that process. Maybe it's a travesty to disturb this hiatus (yawn), as if the event matters. But a friend has pointed out how intellectually inconvenient the showing of Ron Paul is for business as usual.

Please see:
http://www.salon.com/2011/12/31/progressives_and_the_ron_paul_fallacies/singleton/

Paul asks questions, and proposes policies, unlike anyone else in "either" party. He is an ideologue with whom few could altogether agree. He probably has no chance of becoming the nominee, if only due to age. But any sympathetic reader of Noam Chomsky or Chalmers Johnson must admire some of his stances, even while repelled by others. Such is the nature, I'd say, of political ideologies. Greenwald's commentary is perceptive re the determination of "both" American parties to ignore the issues that Paul raises.

He has a determined following among youth, an age group with which this 60-something, for all his nostalgia, retains a stubborn sympathy. (We cannot always be young, but we can always be immature: is that all there is to it?). Too bad it will be too late before this enthusiasm can bear any fruit.

2:10 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

It is very difficult not to comment on this blog because it is so stimulating. This will be my last for a while and I apologize for the frequency but I have to patch up a few mistakes.

Kelvin

re: Jenson

Ten four, I mis-understood ur post.

re: hero worship

Looks like ur heros are the same as mine because they do not want to be worshiped. (do not understand enough about Marx to put him in my Pantheon)

re: anarchy.

For me, it simply means no rulers or no hierarchy. (I cannot think of a better situation.) Frankly, you got me on the quote because it really wasn't relevant. I have simply been dying to use it for a while.

8:07 AM  
Anonymous David M said...

Dr.Berman, Zosima:
It appears Neanderthal did not want to live in an ayn randian society either. At the Shanidar Valley excavations in the Taurus-Zagros Mountains in northern Iraq evidence was found that suggest Neanderthal cared for their aged and disabled, nursed their wounded and buried their dead. About the only thing we do is bury our dead and good riddence. The wounded coming back (at least mentally and disabled) in the end are left to fend for themselves and the elderly; they should just die so as to decrease the surpluss population and reduce their burden on society and social security taxes. WE have evolved into the individual.

8:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking of Pat Buchanan, here's his latest acknowledgment that America is something other than sweetness and light, which is unusual because Pat Buchanan seems to be the only "pro Western Civilization type" that doesn't always equate "America" with "The West:"

http://lewrockwell.com/buchanan/buchanan205.html

11:51 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

Say whatever you want here, it's a free country. But I really don't accept people disparaging 'the Duke' or 'Stormin Norman.' When I get afraid I pull the covers over my head and remember 'the Duke.' I feel if not for him those Cong would have been over all over us. What about Iwo Jima? Who, what patriot, could forget the Duke's immortal words to a Marine in panic?, 'if you're nervous, go count your toes.' 'Stormin Norman,' said he was just like Scipio Africanus' and by God he's right.

No people, our problem is not JP Morgan or anything else. There just ain't no Dukes or Stormins anymore.

6:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you consider Ralph Waldo Emerson when you were writing WAF? There was a fascinating Onpoint show today. It references a New York Times editorial, too.

Onpoint: Too Much Self-reliance?

Early in the heart of the 19th Century, young America was in trouble. A brutal economic bust. Banks collapsing all over. Confidence, wavering. And here came the brilliant transcendentalist philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, like a blazing star.

Trust yourselves, he said. Look inside. Speak what you think in hard words. Above all, embrace self-reliance. And boy did that go deep. It’s American bedrock. Maybe too deep, says my guest today. It’s become self-centeredness. Polarizing rigidity.

This hour, On Point: Emerson, and the most American debate – can you have too much self-reliance?

6:19 PM  
Anonymous Kelvin said...

No problem, Shep. The Marx thing is something I stole from the literary critic Harold Bloom who said that Shakespeare's Falstaff was his human god. Can't say that I grasp much of Marx but the David Harvey video lectures on him are a big help.

Re: Derrick Jensen, here's a link to a recent interview he gave on his latest book:

Dreams

Hi Diandra,

I’d like to apologize for saying that you “seem to be fence sitting” because, having listened to both sides of the story (i.e. Jensen’s and Keith’s vs anarchists’), I find myself teetering on a fence of uncertainty. I suppose these issues will have to be resolved on a situational basis.
Here’s John Zerzan’s, the anarcho-primitivist’s, take on the Jensen/Keith issue that he expressed on his radio show:

AnarchyRadio 08-30-2011

7:52 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Broken Heart Dept.:

Well folks, the ol' corn-dog chomper, Michele Bachmann, is outta the race. I wept when I heard the news. Who is gonna tell me that the USSR is a rising threat to the US, or that the Founding Fathers worked tirelessly to abolish slavery? I tell u, I'm devastated. At the center of my heart, an immense Void.

And then there's the collapse of that dynamic duo, that pair of utter bozos, Rick Perry and Herman Cain. God, I had such wonderful visions of Hermie in the W.H.; that wd have been a nonstop laff riot, a la SNL.

We're probably stuck w/Rom Mittney or Ging Newtrich, basically a walking haircut and a sociopath, trying to tell us how terribly different they are from Obama (who just signed 'indefinite detention' into law, thus making it official: the Bill of Rights has been cashiered, and we're now a police state. You can get thrown into Guantanamo forever, even tortured, for having more than 7 days' worth of food in yr house--yes, this is real.)

And when I tell people the country is going down the toilet--they laugh!

11:05 PM  
Blogger diogenes45 said...

Michelle Bachmann's voice was full of self-pity as she announced her withdrawal from the Republican primary. She reminds me of a high school cheerleader who loses the competition for senior prom queen. I think she and Newt are perfect exemplars of American narcissism. It does now appear that 2012 will be a contest between Obama and Mitt Romney. When Romney appeared in New Hampshire after barely winning Iowa, who was with him on the stage pumping his fist and grinning demonically? None other than that unrepentant warmonger McCain, no doubt salivating at the prospect of having another neocon at the helm if Romney wins. Where is the third party insurgency we need? Nowhere to be seen yet. I posted my review of "Why America Failed" at amazon.com yesterday. Hope it helps in some way promoting the book.

6:45 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Laugh or they simply don't know about the defense bill, both reactions equally appalling. Yes, it's over 7 days of food (have to tell my 87 yr.old mom to start throwing things out) and more than 2 guns (my mom is safe on that one at least).

8:25 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

This just in- Police killed an 8th grader inside a middle school in Brownsville, Texas for carrying a pellet gun. The police fired 3 shots prompting the father to say,"Three shots. Why not one that would bring him down." Now there's a concerned dad.

8:34 AM  
Anonymous David M said...

Dr. Berman and DAAERS
My heart goes out to you. You have my deepest sympathy. Perhaps you might console yourself with a little chopped liver and a lot of French wine or Irish/English ale. (not the weak shallow american)

In my search for truth, justice and the american way (scratch the american way) I discovered Heracleitus (I suspect a lot of DAAERS are familier with) who stressed the need for men to live in social harmony and complained that most men failed to comprehend the LOGOS (reason), the principle through which all things are interrelated and all natural events occur and thus live like dreamers with a false view of the world. Here it is over 2500 years later and we still don't see the light.
And as Karl Marx would say "as for me, I am no Marxist".

9:15 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Diogenes-

Many thanks for yr review. BTW, on this blog we prefer to call them Rom Mittney and Ging Newtrich; it seems more appropriate somehow.

mb

12:51 PM  
Blogger PsychoAnalyst said...

MB,

“I feel your pain”... I too am grieving the loss of all that comic relief material Bachmann could have potentially supplied us all over the next few months. How tragic! Just think of all that fear-mongering concerning the imminent rise of the Mayan and Aztec empires we’ll all be missing out on...

At this point, one is left only “fantasizing” about a 2016 Trump-Palin dream-ticket...

Julian

2:35 PM  
Anonymous Kelvin said...

I propose Sick Rantorum.

5:12 PM  
Anonymous Susan W. said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

Though I'm sorry your heart's broken over Michelle would it be presumptuous of me to encourage you to return your affections to Barbara Ann Nowick (if I remember correctly)? You seemed happy with her and I was concerned at the time she was so quickly dumped for Michele. Admit it, you probably still have a framed picture of her in her Wonder Woman costume on your bedside table.

Julian--I've worked in the field of mental health for a long time and even though I've known many individuals who are committed, competent and run their professional lives with integrity, overall, this has become a corrupt enterprise. Twenty years ago I saw kids put on SSDI whose primary affliction was their parents and the mood swings, depression and suicide attempts were more a reflection of the reality they were trapped in than a "chemical imbalance." It's sad and now it's a racket and the kids, labeled as mental patients, will pay for this stigma attached to them at an age when they're helpless.

5:25 PM  
Blogger katharine said...

MB-
thanks for your work and this blog

5:49 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Thank u all for consoling me re: loss of that ol' corn-dog sucker, Michele, ma belle. And speaking of songs, and Barbara Ann Nowak, what about "Barbara Ann," by the Beach Boys?:

Went to a dance, lookin’ for romance
Saw Barbara Ann Nowak, so I thought I’d take a chance
With barbara ann, barbara ann
Take my hand
You got me rockin’ and a-rollin’
(oh! oh!)
Rockin’ and a-reelin’
Barbara Ann Nowak...

And here's the Beatles' tribute to Michele:

Michele Bachmann, ma belle
Sont les mots qui vont tres bien ensemble
Tres bien ensemble
I love you, I love you, I love you
That's all I want to say
Until I find a way
I will say the only words I know that
You'll understand...

Nothin' like the 60s to bring it all back. Pity there's no similar tribute to Sarah P.

David M.: My favorite Heraclitus fragment (Hermann Diels, "Fragmente der Vorsokratiker", Nummer 2): "We should let ourselves be guided by what is common to all. Yet, although the Logos is common to all, most men live as if each of them had a private intelligence of his own."

Sick Rantorum: a more perfect summary of the current condition of the US, I can't imagine.

Rant on! Rant on! O&D!

6:48 PM  
Anonymous Vince said...

Jim Jones and MB,

That was me who put that question to Chris Hedges through email on Sunday. It was the best interview that I had seen on Book TV in quite a long time.

Peter Slen did an excellent job interviewing CH. I wanted to see where CH stood as compared to MB on our O&D trajectory.

Best to everyone in the New Year!

Vince

6:49 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Vince-

So what did he say? (I assume he's more optimistic than me, but then that wdn't take much.)

mb

ps: I'm still hoping BookTV runs the tape of the talk I gave in LA on Nov. 8. My publicist says it might actually happen...I'm hoping b4 2015, but u never know. Stay tuned...

6:57 PM  
Blogger PedroC. said...

Dr. Berman - Just to thank you and your publisher for the free copy of WAF. Read it in one sitting and posted a review on Amazon. A really good closure for the series.

As to the 'human nature' discussion - Although the cortex apparently can override some of the limbic impulses, there is still much to know about the actual power 'conscience' ('higher' thought processes) has over the more 'animal' urges.

Some experiments with Deep Brain Stimulation have shown that subjects give post-hoc justification to changes induced by external electrical stimulation: the scientists stimulate an area that they know will cause the patients to laugh, but when they ask the patients they say they laughed because they remembered something funny or another rationalization. This in addition to the known fact that our brain 'decides' before our consciousness knows we've decided (one can know via fMRI the decision of a subject before the subject makes the conscious decision). So I don't know if we can make the claim that our 'conscience' can control the ancient impulses of violence that are inherent to our species. Maybe in a small enough group it can be tamed by social interaction, but then you would turn those impulses against the Others. In this fragmented and numerous society, social restraint is useless, and everyone is an Other.

9:01 PM  
Blogger Terence Stone said...

Vince:

I thought it a good question and a brilliant interview.

If I may say, CH was only marginally more optimistic than MB--seeming to swing between moderate pessimism to dark pessimism, depending on the question.

Terence

9:13 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Pedro-

Many thanks for your kind review; I appreciate it greatly.

As for limbic vs. rational brain, etc...this wd be a long discussion. I wrestled w/it in my other trilogy, esp. Coming to Our Senses and Wandering God. You might wanna have a look. Also, check out the essay in Question of Values entitled "Tribal Consciousness vs. Enlightenment Tradition." Food for thought, anyway.

mb

9:59 PM  
Anonymous Vince said...

MB,

Here is the link for the interview. My question starts 2 hours and 10 minutes into the interview with Peter Slen.

http://www.booktv.org/Watch/13110/In+Depth+Chris+Hedges.aspx

I agree with Terence's assessment. What he said was that if there wasn't a mass redirection of our country then collapse was quite possible.

Chris is optimistic, if only slightly. I understand why because he has seen first hand what the alternatives to today's "civilization" are in the immediate aftermath of a collapse. He has a wife and children. What person with the courage to raise a family in the U.S. today wouldn't want things to improve in the future?

Terence,
Thank you for your compliment.

Vince

10:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

America will decline, and when it gets bad enough, we will go into some kind of major war again. There are many possible scenarios, and I think that they are being figured out right now. China also has an excess of young males. Our only option would be to destroy our competitors and go back to manufacturing again and start the Capitalistic cycle all over again. We are at the end of the cycle. This is why we did so well after WWII. (how we escaped from Depression) After WWII, Europe was in rubble. Japan and Germany (primary rivals) were destroyed. England went into steep decline. It took a good 30 years for Germany and Japan to get going again. What does America really have except military power and hollywood? [hard or soft power] Also huge numbers of young unemployed would be sucked into war with a draft (including all those occupy people). This is a way to divert attention from domestic problems, get rid of excess people via war, and get the economy moving. I don't want this, but I think it is how Machiavelli would have seen it play out. Millions will die, some monuments will get built, and the system will "reset" and promise no more war again. Sorry I am very cynical..

11:53 PM  
Blogger PsychoAnalyst said...

Re. Chris Hedges’ BookTV interview, I too enjoyed it greatly. It was also nice to hear him also say that America is currently in collapse (I guess I can’t help gloating when I hear my own views supported by prominent figures). But I was a bit puzzled about his answer to the caller who asked what country would he recommend that a young person considers for emigration away from the U.S. Hedges didn’t answer the question, and just went on to say that he plans to stay put in the U.S., reason being that his ancestors have settled in America since 1630. I guess if his ancestors used the same logic, the Hedges would all still be in Europe.

Julian

8:37 PM  
Anonymous Twig said...

Ran into a huckster comment and a DuBois quotation explaining the unfortunate fabric of America while reading, "Clarence Darrow: Attorney for the Damned."

1. " The Monkey Trial now became the talk of the English speaking world. Dayton was swept and dusted, and hung with billboards and bunting (of course). ("Read your Bible" said a sign in the courthouse-no good omen for the defense.) The streets were jammed with flivvers, the sidewalks with qawkers and GRIFTERS. Traveling Tent shows came to town. Chimpanzees did tricks, and HUCKSTERS sold lemonade, an infinite variety of monkey souvenirs--and redemption."

2. W.E.B. DuBois in the NAACP journal, the "Crisis", wrote. "The truth is and we know it: Dayton, Tennessee, is America! A great, ignorant, simple minded land, curiously compounded of brutality, bigotry, religious faith and demagoguery, and capable not simply of mistakes but persecution, lynching, murder, and idiotic blundering....Dayton Tennessee, is no laughing mater. It is menace and warning. It is a challenge to Religion, Science and Democracy,"

9:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Morris Just finished WAF. You have put into words my feelings about this place and time. Wow I wish you all the best Pat Mulligan

7:47 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dear Pat,

Many thanks; I appreciate it. If u have a moment, and it's not too much trouble, perhaps u cd post a review on Amazon--every little bit helps!

Thanks again,
mb

8:43 PM  
Blogger Kevin Jarvis said...

Another good movie is THUNDERHEART.
Val Kilmer plays an FBI agent with a Lakota father. He is called in to Washington DC to be briefed on a new case he will handle. He is told he will go "To his People" (The Lakota People) and he should fit in. He replies...."They Are not My People"

By the end of the film, he changes his outlook on the world ( or has it changed for him ;-) ) and is asked if he will go back to his people (the White World).
Again he replies "They are Not My People"

I have a Lakota elder who is a mentor to me...One of his "jobs" in mentoring is to get one to know ones self. He pushes lots of buttons...tries to get one angry...for us to see the side of ourselves we dont want to look at.
One way of pushing buttons was he would sometimes say derogatory things about the "White World" to see if I'd get mad. My reply was always - "They are Not My People" :-)
I now use some of his techniques as well as other techniques I have learned from other mentors.
They are not always popular...even if one want to change.
The changes in Kevin Kostner and Val Kilmer and other movies on personal transformation ( I have several more if anyone wants to know) usually take place in the span of an hour or two. Sometimes change can happen in a matter of weeks...but it is usually a process that takes place over several or many years.
So as my mentor had patience with me, we who are lucky enough to mentor others must have that same patience.....

10:12 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Kev-

Thanks for all the good info. In future, I suggest u send message to latest post, since readers tend not to bother with comments on older posts, and this material then gets lost in the shuffle.

mb

4:37 PM  

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