January 05, 2012

Interview on TV Azteca

OK, amigos: for all you hispanohablantes out there, here is the interview I did with Sabina Berman (no relation) on TV Azteca. Azteca taped it in Guadalajara on November 27, and it aired on Mexican television last night. Disfrutala!

http://www.tvazteca.com/capitulos/shalala/88195/el-pensador-morris-berman

125 Comments:

Anonymous Natalia said...

Maravillosa entrevista. It was the first time that I watched Sabina's program; what a better way to get me started. As an actress, I should deeply thank Azteca 4 the wonderful interview to You.

Abrazos siempre.


Natalia Rychert Slawinska

12:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Morris as much as I love you, the fashion police should lock you up in indefinite detention for that outfit! Are you wearing white socks? Hiking boots with a T-shirt and black suite? Lock you up and throw away the key!
~Sarah P.

11:56 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Sarah-

Well, what can I do? I occasionally have problems with the tendons in my ankles, and my orthopedist insists that I wear thick socks and hiking boots, for support. As for the T-shirt: it was kinda warm that day, and I enjoy being cool (if horribly unfashionable). But I understand that you won't marry me and honeymoon with me on an ice floe, among the meese, and I don't hold it against u.

Love forever, baby-

mb

12:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Me agradó mucho la entrevista. Gracias a ella supe de tu existencia y estoy feliz leyendo tu blog. Ahora tengo una pregunta: ¿qué con el Rusty Trombone de Guadalajara? ¿Podemos encontrarte ahí?

Saludos!

Maga

Pd. A mí me encantó tu camiseta de Sexto Piso, por eso la televisión dejó de estar en “mute” y comencé a poner atención al programa.

1:19 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Hola Maga!

Y gracias por escribir. Mira, I don't know anything about Rusty Trombone, really, as I don't live in GDL; I was just there for a few days in November, for FIL.

As for the camiseta: you can buy one from Sexto Piso in the DF (Coyoacan); just give them a phone call.

Finalmente, gracias por no comentar sobre mis calcetines y zapatos!

abrazo fuerte,
mauricio

6:06 PM  
Anonymous David M said...

Dr.Berman:
The post in spanish give the site a little international flair. If you inspire folks from other countries to post I think it would be great to read what they think about the present economic and political calamity. (Of course you need to be able to translate) Heck it might inspire me to learn some new languages before I take that big dirt nap.
BTW My exposure to Heracleitus came from a Loren Eiseley poem "The Last Stand". I will leave ya with the last stanza.

I should not have read Heracleitus: Seditious literature.
Transfer is advisable.
I am beginning to comprehend...what? Nevermind. A war is a war. I like this post better
than the city but
I will not kill butterflies
and I cannot see foxes anymore.
Perhaps it is my eyes in the night
or is it my face
that is slowly changing?
I will no longer
look into mirrors.

9:47 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

DM-

I love Eiseley, actually. As for more languages on the blog, the problem is that my command of Urdu is just a tad weak, altho I do have a Pakistani friend in London who might be willing to help us out. I might also be able to scare up some local talent in Mayan dialects, such as Tzotzil, Mam, and Quiche.

mb

11:08 AM  
Anonymous Kelvin said...

Dear Maury,

I really enjoyed the interview. Both my mother (who is a native hispanohablante) and myself (who, shamefully, am only a hispanoescuchante) congratulate you on your very good Spanish and accent. We're very impressed and I'm very inspired to overcome my tongue-tied silence. I've made periodic forays over the years, recently having taken two years of college Spanish, but to no avail. My mother rightfully chides me for responding in English when she speaks to me in Spanish. Well, yet another reason to emigrate south and learn my immersion.

The comment about the height of humans over 10,000 years, from HG to siglo veinte was new to me or I missed it in Wandering God. Sabina is an indomitable optimist but you held your own admirably.

2:51 PM  
Blogger J. Loeza said...

Morris saw your interview by chance that not I frequent much by these Mexican television channels... found me quite interesting talk, although he was too short and could not deepen more... in any way, is a pleasure to know him and how good you have chosen this country to live, that despite all the disadvantages that we have, there are also many magical nooks where can look at and understand a little more to the rest of the world.

A late welcome and greetings from Veracruz. EL TARAMBANA is my blog, I hope you like it.

By the way... what the hell with the socks?

3:36 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

JL-

Lots of people are apparently up in arms regarding my shoes and socks. See my response to Sarah (above) for explanation. I'm just doing what my orthopedista tells me I have to do, amigo. But since this is what my audience apparently wants to focus on, I'm going to have to shop for even more outrageous footwear for my next interview, so as not to disappoint. I mean, there's fashion, and there's political analysis, and it's so good to see that my viewing public has its priorities straight.

jaja
mb

4:20 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Shep:

Re: Georgia Military Acadamy

Football was king at GMA. My father played football there in the late 1920’s, and he was known in the local press as ‘Iron Horse’. The school was founded by Col. Woodward way back when, and in the late 60’s or early 70’s they dropped the ‘military’, went coed, and renamed it Woodward Academy after the founder.

GMA was a very different place back in the 1920’s when the South wasn’t reacting to the civil rights movement and resentment was just at a low simmer rather than a raging boil. My father got a lot out of going there, and I think I later benefitted a lot from the results of his experience there, but certainly not from mine. Chapter 4 of WAF made me realize that in a way I never did before. I’m working on compressing that story into half a page.

Julian:

If Chris Hedges were to do what his European ancestors did back in the 1630’s, would he have to go to some other land and exterminate the people living there now? That would seem so out of character for him.

David Rosen

4:33 PM  
Anonymous Kelvin said...

The Discovery of France: A Historical Geography from the Revolution to the First World War by Graham Robb (2007)

This book presents examples that seem to undermine Anonymous's theory of racial homogeneity as a promoter of community harmony, if I understand Anon. correctly.

Please consider:

"The propaganda of French national unity has been broadcast continuously since the Revolution, and it takes a while to notice that the tribal divisions of France were almost totally unrelated to administrative boundaries. There was no obvious reason why these people [who were white and "looked alike"] should have formed a single nation [my own comment in square brackets]." Robb, p. 26

"An army of men, women and children, wielding cudgels and lugging baskets of stones, is advancing on the village of Roqueceziere...On the bare rock that towers above the village, turning its back to the battle, is a colossal cast-iron statue of the Virgin Mary...Incensed to see the sacred effigy pointing its bottom at their village, the invaders have come to turn it around. The battle rages for hours. Several people are seriously injured." Robb, p. 27

Robb comments:

"The Battle of Roqueceziere...is not mentioned in any history of France. Village wars had no perceptible effect on national security and their causes were often ancient and obscure. Yet they were a normal part of life for many people well into the nineteenth century." Robb, p. 28

Then there are the "cagots," [shitters], a people reviled along the Atlantic seaboard for no apparent reason. Yet they were white like the people among whom they were forced to become nomads.

At best, Anon. can say that racial homogeneity is one factor among many promoting community harmony, and perhaps it's not the most important.

These are also cautionary examples for intentional communities to consider.

11:03 AM  
Anonymous meri said...

I'd also like to hear more from people in other parts of the world and how their perspective might be different or similar to ours in the US. If there's a written transcript, we can always plug it into Google Translate www.Translate.Google.com

12:32 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Check it out:

http://www.commondreams.
org/view/2012/01/01-1

3:16 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

WAFers:

Re: The Delusional Assumptions of Capitalism

I may be repeating myself, but here is John Maynard Keynes’ take on the same delusional assumption:

“Capitalism is the extraordinary belief that the nastiest of men, for the nastiest of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all."

I don’t know where I found that quote, but I have it inscribed in my copy of E. F. Schumacher’s “Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered”.

David Rosen

4:36 PM  
Blogger Diana Isabel I said...

Dr. Berman:

Buenas noches, mi nombre es Diana Isabel, lo conoci el día 05 de enero del presente en dicha entrevista y me causo gran admiración, espero y se anime usted a escribir libros y artículos en español, para que podamos tener un mejor accesos a sus ideas, que bueno que viva en México!!!, le deseo un feliz año nuevo, mucho éxito, amor, salud y bendiciones!!! Dios lo bendiga

11:32 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Hola Diana-

Gracias por su mensaje. Mira, todos mis libros son traducidos en espanol. The video link (enlace) shows the English versions of my books, for some reason; but in fact, you can get all of them in translation. Aqui la informacion, chica:

-The Reenchantment of the World = El reencantamiento de mundo
-Coming to Our Senses = Cuerpo y espiritu
-Wandering God = Historia de la conciencia

Estos tres son disponibles de Cuatro Vientos Editorial en Santiago de Chile. Pues:

-The Twilight of American Culture = El crepusculo de la cultural americana
-Dark Ages America = Edad oscura americana
-A Question of Values = Cuestion de valores
-Why America Failed = Las raices del fracaso americano (va a parecer en la primavera 2012)

Estos cuatros son disponibles
de Sexto Piso Editorial, oficina en Coyoacan.

Gozalos! y gracias de nuevo-

mauricio

12:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Big M,

I want the whole package, brains and looks, maybe you can consume a nice silk collared shirt for the hot weather or a modern moisture wicking golf shirt, some thick black socks and black laces on your boots. What did your T-shirt even say sextopeso? Sixth floor ? An upside down figure? That T needs some explanation for American gals....

Your girlfriend come April,
Sarah P.

11:08 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dear Sarah,

Well at least yr still hangin' in there, unlike Michele, who ate a corndog, ran for pres, and then dumped me like yesterday's news. But I fear all I can offer is brains; other than that I'm ugly and my mother dresses me funny. T-shirt shows a guy jumping from 6th floor of a bldg; whence Sexto Piso got its name (long story, I'll explain it 2u while we're having sex on the ice floes in Alaska, amongst the meese, and with Ed Meese present, hopefully).

Never leave me, carina-

Tu

Mauricio

3:09 PM  
Anonymous Susan W. said...

Dear Dr. Berman and Sarah,

"Someday men will be judged by the content of their character and not by the fashion of their footwear"--MLK

But I must agree with Sarah, those are shoes only your mother or the orthopedist would love. I hadn't planned on looking at that interview (the only Spanish I know is yes, no, please, thank you and how to order alcohol) but Sarah's observations got me interested.

5:50 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Sus-

It's clear I'm going to hafta do something abt my public appearance; the problem is that I never believed that the clothes made the man, and my best role-model, my maternal grandfather, who read 10 languages, basically wandered around in rags and died poor. I'm kinda stuck wearing hiking boots, thanx to my orthopedist; and the thought of putting on a white shirt and tie makes me a bit ill. But given the bombardment I've received in the wake of this Azteca outfit, I may have to rethink my entire sartorial modus vivendi. It may, however, finally depend on what it takes to court and win Sarah; or even Michele, tho her luster has obviously faded. Or maybe Barbara Ann Nowak. Barb barb barb, barbara ann...

mb

8:05 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

The Police State Begins:

http://www.youtube.
com/watch?v=Cg6ayc
-w3bE&feature=share

8:33 PM  
Anonymous Kelvin said...

Thank you for that Youtube video, Maury.

I wish that human microphone turned riotous and everyone in the terminal swarmed on the cops like army ants!

10:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

RE:Grand Central Arrests and OWS.

Another ugly replay of the fading right to express yourself peacefully in public.

Ugly now and these are just people using 1st amendment rights w/o violence.

I recently listened to some protesters & an arrest in another Youtube clip asking the police why they were arresting people and how they should be "loving" the protesters.

The level of naivete is shocking. One illusion that's gotta go is that the cops are "just your neighbors" or your "blue collar brothers".

Their choice is pretty clear.

"Police state" is no longer hyperbole I'm afraid.

El Juero

12:43 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

What police state? Didn't Obama say that so long as he's president he would not indefinitely detain any American implying of course that future presidents do indeed have the power to do so. Incredible isn't it? The Democratic party which has been the party most concerned with civil liberties should now be the party leading the assault. I do expect widespread civil disobedience this summer especially at the national conventions. But of course the major media outlets will scarcely cover them. Oh, by the way, police came to the home of a 5 year old girl in upstate Massachusetts to collect some overdue library books. You can add this to the one about the police stopping the girls from selling lemonade.

1:43 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dan: Here's the library book story:

http://www.cbsnews.
com/8301-504083_162
-57351513-504083/mass
-library-sends-cops-
to-collect-overdue-
books-from-5-year-old/

What's not clear to me is why they didn't haul the child away and waterboard her.

5:50 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

You're not too far off the mark. An article I read about the incident said that the police officer "roughed up the girl a bit to make sure she got the message...". The message being prepare yourself to living in a dystopian nightmare as you get older.

8:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gracias once again, señor Berman, I wonder if the SP so concerned with fashion is S. Palin (how rude of me). Be nice to have on chilean TV sometime, if they knew what to ask or who you are for that matter. Bendiciones y Feliz Año Nuevo.

Óscar.

11:04 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Oscar-

I did a lecture at the Universidad de Desarollo in Santiago 3 yrs ago, but obviously it didn't make me famous in Chile. Three of my bks are available in Spanish trans from Cuatro Vientos Editoria; see my reply to Diana, above.

Dan-

I doubt that's correct, because the coverage I read quoted the cop saying he hated the task, but he was low man on the totem pole etc. It sounded sincere, anyway. But the comments to the article are interesting, a mixed bag. My fave:

"Tough sh*t, kid - do what you're supposed to do and the cops don't come."

Aren't Americans wonderful?

mb

12:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

About the occupy police state video, I not denying that NDAA and other measures are not setting us up to be a police state but that video seems to be business as usual. The first amendment does not protect the place of free speech only the speech it's self. So if your blocking the doors to an abortion clinic, the gate of a picketed construction site, or the walk way in the subway you can get arrested with what ever physical force is needed. Google Use of Force Continuum to see how much force is reasonable according the courts i.e. The UC Davis campus cop was justified in casually pepper-spraying the "active resisters" with interlocked arms blocking the sidewalk. The "passive resisters" blocking the subway in todays video with out interlocked arms where appropriately physically removed by police.

I don't believe these police actions would be different in any other modern industrial country. In another country the protestors might be different with milk farmers protesting by flooding streets with tanker truck loads of milk, or fishermen protesting by dumping a few metric ton's worth of fish against the front door of a bank blocking access, rather than some unclean crying hippies who 80% of the American public, ( the wannabe rich working 3 jobs) wants to see the police beat the shit out of.

The library story is to stupid for words, the SGT in the article said he didn't want to go etc but he has a job to do that does not included denying a request for service, same as if the girl called 911 to say that the liberian stole her pencil, the officer would have to show up and handle the non-sense. Same as they do at most of the other 911 calls for people fighting for a parking spot, blocking neighbors driveways , loitering on porches, stealing scrap metal left on a front lawn etc.

Mike O'

12:10 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Mike-

Technically, u might be rt, but it strikes me as a rather slippery slope. The State in effect wants to abolish 1st amendment rts, including rt of peaceful assembly.

mb

1:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Totally a slippery slope and I’m very worried about the NDAA, my frustration in talking with liberals and progressives is that they think what is standard police procedure is police brutality and thus you can’t have a rational conversation about governmental power. Nobody likes a ball busting pig but progressives are crying wolf to often.

Also I speculate when a police state does show up, it won’t involve the actual police. Some other agency like I.C.E. will be carting people away while the flat foot local cops are still playing the games of chasing drug dealers with their hands tied behind their backs taking months for court approval on search warrants etc. This would help keep alive the illusion of civil rights.

As for removing protestors that’s what the American people want. The latest polls showed a low approval rating and after speaking with lots of friends and family over the holiday’s it seems to be most Americans want the protestors out of the public commons only when it looks to rough, liberals/progressives want to cry about that too.

End of the story is the occupy movement and NDAA protestors are .0001% of the population themselves. The girl arrested in the video has some other YouTube interviews post arrest where she says she was trying to raise awareness among the public, but what she doesn’t realize is the public doesn’t want to know about it.

Mike O'

2:36 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Mike-

I still think this is a new kind of development. Constitution guarantees rt of peaceful assembly. True, in times of crisis (Vietnam, McCarthy scare), the Bill of Rts goes out the window, but this seems like a bend in the road, I'm not sure. But I do agree w/u that 99.99% of the American public cd care less abt the Bill of Rts, and object to the protesters, not to the rich 1% ripping them off. As I've said again and again, we're just not very bright.

mb

4:02 PM  
Anonymous Susan W. said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

We all have to suffer for fashion; think how miserable your tendon would be in spike heels.

Mike O.--In the 60's when freedom riders held sit-ins at resturants, technically, they were breaking the law but did it to uphold a much more important one: all men are created equal. The students blocking the sidewalk, access to the subway entrance, etc. are making the same point that equality in America has vanished. Did this cause some inconvience to passerbys? Probably, but the freedom riders may caused the same to make a point much more important. From Civil Disobedience:

"All men recognize the right of revolution; that is, the right to refuse allegiance to, and to resist, the government, when its tyranny or its inefficiency are great and unendurable."

I don't have a link to the Hedges' interview where he talks about Eastern Europe when the police joined the resisters, realizing, these are not dangerous anarchists but people who share common goals and ideals. That was the turning point of the peaceful revolution. I don't know where the OWS is going but I do think it's important not to loose sight of issues far more important than poll numbers (most Americans were not in favor of civil rights) and local regulations.

From Civil Disobedience, again:

"A very few, as heroes, patriots, martyrs, reformers in the great sense, and men, serve the state with their consciences also and so necessarily resist it for the most part; and they are commonly treated as enemies by it."

7:23 PM  
Anonymous Kelvin said...

Mike O' (aka Anonymous),

The first amendment says simply that people, even unclean hippies, have a right to assemble, but in practice states can restrict that right; so New York might disallow the right to assemble in Grand Central 'cause of traffic flow considerations.

But that's the point. One must stop the traffic, get people of the United States's attention (i.e. out of their condition of cranial-rectal embedment [CRE]), and tell them that business as usual is what's killing them. That is the essence of civil disobedience, as Susan W. has made salient.

Business as usual goes nowhere in this country. Well, it goes O & D and maybe that's the best we can do.

12:35 AM  
Anonymous Kelvin said...

But fuck civil disobedience and passive resistance. Swarm the cops like army ants, will ya? Yeah!

12:46 AM  
Anonymous Ray said...

Susan,

I certainly affirm your examples of civ. disob. as some of the noblest moments in American history, but the underlying logic of civ. disob. contains a flaw that is all too easily exploited by the mendaciou. Witness the hijacking of civ. rights and civ. disob. themes and tactics by the pro-life crowd.

Although this should be no reason for holding back, I fear we must also recognize that the moment the technical rule of law is flouted in pursuit of a higher good,JUST THIS ONCE BECAUSE ITS WORTH IT, we can any longer effectively stop well organized, well funded bad people who are clever enough to stop short of violence from breaking the law to push through their own messed-up definitions of what the "higher good" means.

Or are we left with advocating partisan police enforcement only against the nonviolent but extremely dangerous causes we disagree with?

1:02 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Re: civil disobedience etc.:

This may be a bad analogy (I'm not sure), but consider the case of Bradley Manning. Technically, he broke the law; in the course of which, he exposed many of the lies about the war in Iraq, and the coverups involved in the massacres of the civilian population--genocide and war crimes perpetrated by US armed forces. Dan Ellsberg has come to Bradley's defense because Dan did the same thing re: Vietnam 40 yrs ago; and at the time, was also excoriated as a 'traitor'. Now, the US gov't says he was a hero. Hopefully Bradley will not have to spend the next 40 yrs in jail before we finally admit that he is, in fact, a patriot, no less than Dan.

5:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sue W- civil rights movement seems more a change in style and not substance, white Americans appear to still not care for civil rights. Actions speak louder than words and white people's actions are to drive long commutes to work each day and set up civic groups to block mass transit from reaching their neighborhoods so as to never see a black kid walking the neighborhood that might want to talk to their daughters.  Additionally their is all kinds of data on the high volume of blacks, murdered or in  jail and how after jail they are economic slaves with limited work mobility w/ a criminal record etc. 

As for Hedges I saw his talk at Occupy Harvard yard. I think he is kidding himself as he can't accept the notion of O&D. Eastern Europe is fundamentally different as they never really wanted to be communist in the fistplace. Eastern Europe was not exactly turning an aircraft carrier around in a bath tub to paraphrase Dr. Berman.  

Kelvin- swarm the cops with who? A few thousand hippies? Vs. Cops backed by The entire U.S. Gov't? I work with some radical tea-party and militia types who collect weapons and canned food and swear to defend their version of the constitution.  I love busting their chops stumping them on skill level one military questions like what are the five minor terrain features on a map, or how do you react to a V ambush?  They don't know anything but how to drink beer and shoot expensive guns at militia meetings and are an example of how lost this country is. (the guns really amount to the consumer culture, as they are always buying the next best gun, no different than their fellow citizens buying the next best phone) 

Ray- great point. 

Dr. Berman- your analogy reminds me a little of the Chris Hedges article on why we celebrate MLK day and not Malcolm X day. Ellsberg is a hero because the Vietnam war was finally unpopular after it ended. The war on terror is a different story and appears to not have an end in sight, if ever. Ultimately Vietnam was unpopular due to the draft. Today with an all volunteer military of people highly separated from the rest of America I see no reason for Americans to stop supporting the war on terror and thus Bradley will remain a villain. 

Mike O'

9:32 AM  
Anonymous Ray said...

Dear Morris,

Rs:Ellsberg, Manning et al

Unfortunately we seem to have become a society where 20-200 year time lags between injustice and apologies now operate as part of the messed up moral economy that keeps the system going. Here's how it works, I think.

The original crime/misdeed/oppression gets committed. Material benefit/greed is satisfied, or the paranoid need for moral catharsis by lashing out at somebody, anybody is fulfilled. Good people suffer.

A generation or more later, enough cheap middlebrow moral repugnance/regret has been built up by the media co-opting the work of courageous revisionist historians/journalists (with the prematurely revisionist early voices in the wilderness getting their careers destroyed in the meantime}.

The people running the system then see valuable political and cultural capital in appropriating the old injustice and making it the centerpiece of a season of ostentatious public apology/regret/commemoration.

The body politic reaffirms to itself TAP's essential fairness and moral health - look how we faced up to the misdeeds of previous generations and tried to make them right. Lets pat ourselves on the back for that one. TAP get to congratulate themselves for living, after all in the best possible society in the world. This prepares the whole society for another 20-100 year round of self-righteously doing what it wants to do anyway and pushing others around.

Wash, rinse, repeat.

Not only will Manning have to wait 25-40 years, when it comes it will be a way for the system to try to regain lost moral gound.

Not only the ego, but even the superego is simply a tool for the id to hide behind.

Ray

9:58 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Mike-

You cd be rt, but keep in mind that 40 yrs from now we'll probably have a new, improved enemy to direct our attention to; like the Chinese (this has actually already begun). Those dastardly ay-rabs may have faded from the scene by then...

mb

10:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Morris great point, I've started reading "In The Jaws Of The Dragon" on your recommendation, great book so far.
Mike O'

11:08 AM  
Anonymous Kelvin said...

Hi Mike O',

I first posted “I wish that the people in the terminal swarmed the cops.” Maybe, and this will please Ray, I’ll dream about it tonight and make it a fulfilled wish a la Freud. In the closed space of the terminal, I think it is plausible that if the mass of commuters miraculously left off business as usual and swarmed the cops, they would’ve won. True the cops had guns but it’s hard to take your gun out when a mass of people are hemming you in. No need for “five minor terrain features on a map” or a “V ambush.” The Egyptian mass uprising didn’t require those military tactics; the protestors in the Nigerian Delta to Royal Dutch Shell's vast toxic oil spill aren’t implementing V ambushes; the indigenous people of central India are fighting off the corporations who want the boxite under their land without guns. But I agree with you on the fundamental fact that that ain’t happening in the USA. And how am I supposed to know “swarm the cops with who?” You’re the military expert after all.

BTW, are you calling the Occupy people hippies? Am I supposed to know whether hippies are a good thing or a bad thing? What do you think of hippies? What do you think of the Occupy people?

Are you a member of the tea-party? If not, why do you work with those people since you don’t seem to respect them and want to mess with their minds (“I love busting their chops stumping them…”) with your superior knowledge of military tactics gained how? By direct experience or by reading books about military tactics?

Please answer my questions or else stump me and mess with my mind.

1:37 PM  
Anonymous Susan W. said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

Mike O.--The accomplishments of the civil rights movement were far from perfect in many ways but some important changes were made. I don't know where you lived in the mid 60's but I was in Lubbock, TX and I remember a black man and his new wife, German and anglo, moving in next door. We lived on a air force base at the time and they were transferred to California within a week and told not to go into town together under any circumstances. You never saw blacks in resturants, shops or anywhere else, including school. There have been changes for equality and, while these may seem paltry to you, I doubt the black community would consider them insignificant. I agree an overwhelming number are still trapped in poverty and ignorance and nothing is being done to right this wrong, including by our mixed race President. But the seeds of change that were planted by courageous men of colour sitting at a lunch counter in North Carolina can't and shouldn't be dismissed.

2:57 PM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

Mike O' -

Of course the MLK that's praised by pundits, politicians, and grade school programs is safely homogenized, a noble cartoon instead of an driven & often fiery human being. He's been preserved in thick, oily film of sanctity & Hallmark card virtue, presented as being somehow beyond our ken -- so of course nobody else can be like him, or do anything that he did.

I happened to catch a PBS program last night that recalled Robert Kennedy's brief speech to a crowd in Indianapolis the night of MLK's death. The program regrettably had the cloying soundtrack that so many documentaries & news broadcasts have today -- to make it more like entertainment, I suppose. Apparently the eyewitness testimony of those who were there wasn't deemed compelling enough on its own.

A few things struck me as I watched:

- the notion of any public figure today saying, as Kennedy did, "In the words of my favorite poet ..."

- that poet being the Greek playwright Aeschylus

- the notion of any politician today saying that America had major problems & needed to look within, to examine its policies & its own soul

I'm not going to overly idealize Robert Kennedy, but I was reminded that once upon a time, knowledge & learning were regarded as good things, to be shared among all.

re: Bradley Manning -

Isn't it fascinating to see so many pundits condemning him as a traitor & saying that what he did in no way compares to what Ellsberg did, even after Ellsberg has repeatedly said it's the exact same thing? Some have even said this with Ellsberg physically beside them & objecting to it.

7:24 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Check it out:

http://www.salon.
com/2011/12/24/the
_intellectual
_cowardice_of_
bradley_mannings_
critics/

8:56 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Joe doesn’t know:

Re: Organized Religion – (long overdue reply)

Here in America there is a tendency to judge organized religion by what we see around us or, worse yet, by how religion is reported by the media. That’s why so many see only the religious right and mistake it for all religion. As the decline of capitalism has us dangling over the abyss, people are going to search for unchanging absolutes, both in religion and in secular ideologies.

Fundamentalism can be found all over the place. As a grim old Marxist, I recognized Toynbee’s truth in “A Study of History” when he said the following:

“Marx had taken the goddess ‘Historical Necessity’ in place of Yahweh for his deity and the internal proletariat of the Western World in place of Jewry for his chosen people, and his Messianic Kingdom is conceived of as a Dictatorship of the Proletariat; but the salient features of the Jewish Apocalypse protrude through this threadbare disguise.”

This didn’t bother me since it had been the Hebrew Prophets who led me to my flexible Marxist world view in the first place. The great biblical archeologist, W.F. Albright once said:

“Pious Israelites were not far wrong in distinguishing between true prophets and false prophets of Yahweh by the impact of their words on the privileged classes; it the latter were pleased the prophet was false; if they were displeased the prophet was true.”

Religious fundamentalists believe their “six impossible things before breakfast”, and the Flag, America, the market, free enterprise, globalization, free trade, progress, technology, scientific certainty, and many other things (mostly reified abstractions) are all embraced as dogma.

I think it is usually better for people to stick with a traditional religion with humility, than to embrace secular ‘religions’ with false certainty.

David Rosen

11:13 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

David, I’m going to paraphrase that guy from the Aliens movie and say maybe you haven’t been paying attention but for the last few decades at least, the secular and the scientific have been getting their asses kicked. You need to tell the rest of us where you’re finding all this humble religion in ascendancy, because everywhere I turn I see the bold embrace of Biblical dogma all over this land. Marxism or religious fundamentalism? I haven’t seen too many Marxists building museums all over the country or trying to get their doctrine taught in public schools. I’m seeing lots of Biblical certainty embraced as dogma, not too much science being embraced. Have you heard the the kind of scientific knowledge you need to have to get to host a talk show? This person even won an Emmy two years after saying this---

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2007/12/04/sherri-shepherd-doesnt-ge_n_75292.html?

Lots more of these on the way.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creationist_museum

This guy owns 150 radio stations, sorry, no science or socialism allowed.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harold_Camping

4:02 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Check out the new expose/debunking of corporate shill and journalistic hack Thomas Friedman (description on Amazon):

"Factual errors, ham-fisted analysis, and contradictory assertions—compounded by a penchant for mixed metaphors and name-dropping—distinguish the work of Pulitzer Prize–winning New York Times columnist and author Thomas Friedman. The Imperial Messenger reveals the true value of this media darling, a risible writer whose success tells us much about the failures of contemporary journalism. Belén Fernández dissects the Friedman corpus with wit and journalistic savvy to expose newsroom practices that favor macho rhetoric over serious inquiry, a pacified readership over an empowered one, and reductionist analysis over integrity. The Imperial Messenger is polemic at its best, relentless in its attack on this apologist for American empire and passionate in its commitment to justice."

Note also that the publisher is Verso, one I have long admired, and that Fernandez's bk is part of a new series they just launched entitled 'Counterblasts'. They describe it as follows:

"Counterblasts is a new Verso series that aims to revive the tradition of polemical writing inaugurated by Puritan and leveller pamphleteers in the seventeenth century, when in the words of one of them, Gerard Winstanley, the old world was “running up like parchment in the fire.” From 1640 to 1663, a leading bookseller and publisher, George Thomason, recorded that his collection alone contained over twenty thousand pamphlets. such polemics reappeared both before and during the French, Russian, Chinese and Cuban revolutions of the last century. In a period of conformity where politicians, media barons and their ideological hirelings rarely challenge the basis of existing society, it’s time to revive the tradition. Verso’s Counterblasts will challenge the apologists of Empire and Capital."

Yee-hah!

9:29 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: another new bk that looks very interesting is Dennis Loo, "Globalization and the Demolition of Society."

9:31 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

David, Zosima -

This is a major question for me as well. I do agree with William Blake:

Man must & will have Some Religion; if he has not the Religion of Jesus, he will have the Religion of Satans.

(Of course, by Jesus & Satan, Blake meant something very different from any fundamentalist concept.)

This is truly a question of How do we live, and what do we live by? I'm a lapsed Catholic myself, having dipped into many religious beliefs in my teens & 20s -- late 1960s/early 1970s, after all -- but while I'm clearly agnostic-sliding-into-atheist, I still find myself searching for something deeper & richer & personally meaingful. Might as well call it the Sacred.

Nature fulfills part of that, even here in the suburbs of NJ. A daily walk in the local park has me stopping to watch & contemplate the unearthly grace of deer, the flock of buzzards roosting in dead branches overhead, the blue-green beetles scuttling across the path, the various ducks landing in a marshy pond & gliding to & fro while chattering away. The world of Man seems very tenuous & illusory at such moments.

Art fulfills another part, both making it & immersing myself in it, in as many forms as possible, from the visual arts to music to poetry & prose. So for me it's Beauty as well as Nature.

I also fear the horrors that organized religion can create -- in the end, it's really just one more corporate power -- but I'm still wondering, seeking, questioning. Rather Jungian, I guess. Again, William Blake:

I must create a system or be enslaved by another man's.

I'm interested in how others here are dealing with such questions.

10:03 AM  
Anonymous Kevin said...

Timely. Mr. Fernandez will be on George Kenney's podcast "Electric Politics" (here http://www.electricpolitics.com/) a week from tomorrow:

The week following, Friday, January 27th, my guest will be Belén Fernandez, talking about her latest book, The Imperial Messenger: Thomas Friedman at Work (Verso, 2011).

11:22 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Kev-

As ridiculous as Friedman is, the real pt is what it says abt the state of the nation. How is it that the rear end of a horse, an utter douche bag who comes up w/an unending stream of corporate apologist dreck, becomes the leading columnist for the leading newspaper in the US, and wins 3 Pulitzer prizes to boot? Personally, I shall never win a Pulitzer or a Nobel Peace Prize, but when they give 3 of the former to Friedman, and the latter to Kissinger and Obama, what pride could I really take in receiving either, now that they have been reduced to jokes? For more on Friedman, plug 'taibbi friedman' into google and see what u come up with.

mb

12:04 PM  
Anonymous neunder said...

Ran across this from Norman Davies, which made me think of you:

"States always collapse and disappear, sometimes very quickly, sometimes after centuries or millennia, but they have a finite term in any part of the world. It’s just a given of human institutions. Sooner or later they fall apart and are replaced by something else. The key quotation is from Jean-Jacques Rousseau. He says, “The body politic, like the body of a man, begins to die as soon as it is born. It contains the seeds of its own destruction.”

http://thebrowser.com/interviews/norman-davies-on-europe%E2%80%99s-vanished-states

3:35 PM  
Anonymous Jim said...

Friedman is an absolute putz-"Capitalism for Dummies."

I finished WAF in two nights this week. What a fantastic read.

Initially, I thought it started a little slow, but it didn't take long to rev up. Chapter 4 is the tour de force, but 3 and 5 give it a run for its money. The whole take on the Civil War was splendid. I've read Woodward, read McPherson, and Shelby Foote's 3-volume on the Civil War was amazing. I wasn't familiar with Genovese, but Foner I've read, so it wasn't a shock to me, or unfamiliar terrain. However, I think you've done a real service in synthesizing some of the best of the alternative traditions on the "War of Northern Aggression" and gathered them in this chapter.

I'll probably post a much longer review on my own blog that's much more detailed and summarize it for Amazon.

I'm planning on rereading some Mumford and I just picked up the biography that Donald Miller wrote. "The City in History" was my Mumford intro, which I was directed to by reading Postman, who incidentally is how I found my way to your writing. I think this was back in the summer of 1997 when I began this reading trajectory I've been on ever since. It changed my life and re-ordered my thinking. There's no room for shallow tripe like Friedman's cheerleading for American exceptionalism on my reading list.

Well done Dr. Berman!

5:24 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jim-

Many thanks, and I'll appreciate anything u can post on Amazon. I tell u, I'm a tad depressed abt the 'failure' of the bk in commercial terms--2500 copies sold in the 1st 10 wks, whereas DAA sold 10x that in the same amt of time in 2006--not because of lack of sales, but because of lack of visibility. There are simply no revs of the thing, and I doubt there will be. Part of this is Wiley's fault: they did fuckall to promote the bk, or even to distribute it (you literally can't find it in bkstores--nice, eh?); but it's also the case that the bk occupies a niche that literally no other text in American history does. Very few Americans wd be happy with, or even be able to understand, chs. 3 and 4, wh/stand the conventional versions of these subjects (progress-technology, Civil War) on their heads. Thos Friedman, on the other and (may his name be blotted out, and may he be cast into Utter Darkness, and may dissidents storm his house and urinate on his Guccis), they easily understand and relate to. Anyway, all this makes it nice to get pos feedback such as yrs.

Neunder-

All of this is stuff I struggled with in "Wandering God," wh/took me 10 yrs to write. Hunter-gatherer societies are infinitely sustainable; they can go on forever. Sedentary ones, including civilizations, follow an inevitable curve of rise and fall. Why? is, of course, an interesting question. But given the fact that there's no turning the clock back 15 millennia, we are left with the fact that some civs are better and some are worse; and w/the need to isolate and pursue the factors that make them better. But as Toynbee and others have noted, the trend in the final phase is to do just those things that make everything worse, and accelerate the decline. Witness--us!

mb

6:36 PM  
Anonymous shep said...

Tim

u sd try Christian Atheism.

9:51 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Zosima:

Yes, I have been paying attention, and I see a society on its way down the toilet. I can’t answer everything you say in half a page.

You say, “You need to tell the rest of us where you’re finding all this humble religion in ascendancy, because everywhere I turn I see the bold embrace of Biblical dogma all over this land.”

The majority of our citizens are full of opinions about everything, with near-zero knowledge. Everything they say or ‘think’ is dogma. Religious fundamentalists form a minority here, while the ‘secular religion of America’ is embraced by 99.9%. That is the dogma which is really all over this land. It’s in the air and water

Yes, make sure to read Chris Hedges’ “American Fascists” about the religious right, but also read his “When Atheism Becomes Religion”. This requires thoughtful attention to nuance – something in short supply in our crumbling empire. Bishop John Shelby Spong and quite a few others sell a lot of books, but only to a minority because they actually appeal to intelligence – which is also why they don’t get on TV.

What I’m trying to say is that fundamentalism is not religion, it is an aberration of religion. Fundamentalist atheists can’t tell the difference.

You say, “I’m seeing lots of Biblical certainty embraced as dogma, not too much science being embraced. Have you heard the kind of scientific knowledge you need to have to get to host a talk show?”

As a microbiologist, I’ve observed that a huge number of working scientists are ‘craftsmen’ working within a dogmatically believed paradigm, who actually ‘believe’ only they can discover ‘truth’. Most scientists (not philosophers of science) I have known were just as smug in their ‘belief’ that science is the only way of knowing as Jerry Falwell ever was in his beliefs.

The question of what scientists really ‘know’ might make an interesting discussion, but we live in a land of idiots, and talk shows reflect that.

David Rosen

12:33 AM  
Anonymous Kelvin said...

This 1993 Leonard Cohen song, "Democracy," is still the real National Anthem of the USA:

Democracy

5:31 AM  
Blogger James said...

Tim,

To overcome the tendency to 'believe” the intellect has to examine the evolution of the brain. Freud's superego with its taboos and morality evolved to allow mutually beneficial social behavior. Religion has essentially taken advantage of this part of the mind in those with weak intellects and bribed the Id with promises of eternal heavens and in some instances, a multitude of virgins. Religions and the state, if they are even fully aware of how our minds work, do not want you to develop your intellect. They want to think for you. If you fail to develop your intellect, they will provide prepackaged ideologies to fill the empty space.

How many billions of the devout would follow the religiously defined path without some reward. And that brings us back to the Id, our nefarious, greedy foundation that must be satisfied to elicit behavior that fulfills the mandate of the ten commandments or equivalent. It also helps that we are wired, at least partially, to behave civilly with one another, while the Id seeks opportunities for advantage.

What is frightening is that billions of people are configured to this religious state and modern education has had only limited success in developing the intellect. The entire potential of the intellect is given to developing technical expertise. What is even more frightening is that these people would abandon their religions and be unrestrained from more barbaric behaviors and get jobs at Goldman Sacks.

8:02 AM  
Anonymous JWO said...

"I tell u, I'm a tad depressed abt the 'failure' of the bk in commercial terms--2500 copies sold in the 1st 10 wks, whereas DAA sold 10x that in the same amt of time in 2006--not because of lack of sales, but because of lack of visibility."

Well the bright spot is that WAF is owned by 240 libraries now, including 41 states (Arizona is missing out, or doesn't list their books in WorldCat) and Scotland.

DAA is in 945 and Twilight is in 2230, most of which are academic libraries.

9:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Morris Berman, in the sarcastic "Ain't Americans wonderful?" vein, here's a news article you might find interesting:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/12/eric-james-borges-gay-teen-filmmaker-death_n_1203123.html

What's even more interesting for the purposes of this blog is not the suicide but the comments in reaction to it. Some of the comments essentially boil down to, "This is all the fault of stupid left-wing American parents who coddle their children and raise them to expect the world to cater to their feelings! Suck it up! Bullying is normal, PERIOD! Life is cruel and you should never expect anyone to be nice!"

(Ever notice how many Americans add "Period" at the end of their sentences to close down discussion? More than you'd think.)

To clarify, the heart of the American problem is that Americans believe that "being free from inhumane treatment" is a privilege, not a right.

How's that? Did I summarize it well?

9:50 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

jwo-

Problem is that getting shelved in libraries doesn't change much, because there's no visibility involved. People hafta know the bk exists to go to their local libe and take it out, and libraries are of course not in the business of advertising. So...bk just stays on the shelf, mostly.

Otherwise (Anon et al.), let me just say that everywhere I look, I see dolts.

DOLTS!

mb

10:32 AM  
Blogger Cj said...

Hello Professor, your book is referenced in a January 12 blog posting by Paul Craig Roberts:

http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/

Regards,
Chuck

1:56 PM  
Blogger Cj said...

Be sure and check out the comments also on Paul Craig Roberts posting

Chuck

2:11 PM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

James,

I can't (and won't) argue with what you posted. As David said re: Bishop Spong & others, for the every rare individual who wants to engage these questions in depth, doing justice to their complexity, and utlizing their intellect, there are tens of thousands (at the very least) who settle for the pre-programming that does their thinking for them. And of course this applies to every sort of belief system, not just the religious ones.

I consider myself lucky to have learned early on to stand outside of my particular birth belief & regard it as one system among many, and to appreciate the difference between literalism & metaphor, symbol, and psychological/emotional experience. Even now, the things I love & cherish, and wich resonate deelply within me, are subject to intellectual examination. And I'm definitely the better for it.

Seems to me part of what MB has been detailing in his Dark Ages trilogy is the way the American narrative/myth has grown so threadbare that it'll fly apart at any moment. More than that, just how rotten its construction was in the first place, for all the fulsome lip service it's always gotten. I do notice that the amount of such lip service has been steadily increasing over the decades in direct proportion to the obvious fraying of the myth.

Anon,

A horrifying story, especially the posted responses -- but all too common now. You're right, people take positive pride in being callous & vicious, and congratulate themselves on being "realistic" of all things.

You may have seen the news story about the 17-year old girl whose family is homeless, but she's in line for a major scientific scholarship. It's acclaimed as a tribute to the American Dream, a shining example of how anyone can succeed. Nobody sees it as the indictment of American society that it is -- that it's disgusting & unconscionable that so many people should be homeless & struggling for an education. Yet if you mentioned that, you'd be attacked for being negative & un-American, I'm sure. The illusion must be sustained & defended at all costs, lest people face the ugly truth.

3:17 PM  
Anonymous JWO said...

"jwo-

Problem is that getting shelved in libraries doesn't change much, because there's no visibility involved. People hafta know the bk exists to go to their local libe and take it out, and libraries are of course not in the business of advertising. So...bk just stays on the shelf, mostly."

Don't I know it! Well, with ... what is it? 50-70% of Americans reading under an 8th grade level, I'm surprised that any book beyond Harry Potter sells at all.

5:05 PM  
Anonymous Vince said...

MB,

Interesting article about cellphones from Truthdig. I'm sure that the content will come as no surprise to you.

http://www.truthdig.com/arts_culture/item/welcome_to_alphaville_20120113/

Vince

5:21 PM  
Anonymous Mark Notzon said...

Dear MB:

I haven't popped into the Cafe Berman Mexique for a beer or an espresso in a long time.

A bit out of sync with the thread of current discussion perhaps, but I want to tell you how much I appreciated your mentioning (in WAF) the interest in "appropriate technology" coinciding more or less, with the appearance of Schumacher's "Small is Beautiful."
Back in the 70's and 80's. After returning to the States in 1990 from W. Africa, I wanted to go back to Africa with some "AT" credentials, so I spent a fine summer at Howell Living History farm in New Jersey, learning about animal traction technology.

As fate would have it, after completing the summer I got on a USAID funded project in Les Cayes, Haiti, one of the worst "development" projects I had ever witnessed in my time in the Third World. The coup d'etat that ousted Aristide crippled the Haitian side of the project which was called, "the American University of Les Cayes" and a long letter about the project which I sent to the office of Senator Carl Levin eventually prompted an investigation and a cessation of funding from the American side. The main building of the project consumed about 2/3 of the electricity supply of the city of Les Cayes, I remember in my letter calling it "a three layer white cake " set in the poorest and darkest country in the Western hemisphere. Happy to have fractured the North American fractal of consumption when I could, although I think I closed any opportunity of working on any other USAID project. No regrets.

6:37 PM  
Anonymous Kelvin said...

Hi Susan and Tim,

What part did the Watts Riots in Los Angeles from August 11 to 15, 1965 have in achieving the goals of Civil Rights? I'm guessing [operative word] that it was more important than anything that the Civil Rights movement did. Why? Because it made the powerful quake with fear so that they were willing to concede a few things--and to listen to and take more seriously MLK--for the sake of social control (I originally wrote "peace"). That seems to be a repetitive theme in history from Medieval peasant rebellions to the French Revolution and onwards. Of course, never a safe thing to challenge the powerful and never easy: in Watts, 34 dead after five days of rioting, over a thousand injured, and 40 million dollars of property damage. The volcano of resentment still simmers as instanced by the riots following the exoneration of the pigs who brutally beat Rodney King in 1992. Hence, 9-11 was also a good time (and excuse) to soup up surveillance at home. People in power know that they need pigs to keep them safe. [Science and technology are fatal distractions and abet the powerful in keeping vast populations under control].

Tim, you provide a good description of MLK's co-optation--or transformation into a transitional object--to comfort the dominant class's minds. Why is it easy to co-opt King? Because, like Gandhi, he did not advocate violence as means for social change.

However, civil disobediance as championed by Thoreau, Gandhi, and King is a valuable tradition that is indispensible. But I don't think it the main spring for revolution.

Finally, what usually gets lost in the horror-stricken minds of the non-violent at rioting in the streets is the extreme pathological violence of the powerful, the class that owns everything and, now, including our minds, as well. So, along with Maury, Yee Hah for the new Verso series, and be sure to listen to John Zerzan on Anarchy Radio out of Eugene, Oregon, 7pm PST.

7:52 PM  
Anonymous Kelvin said...

I like these lines from Blake's "And Did Those Feet":

Bring me my Bow of burning gold:
Bring me my Arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!

I will not cease from Mental Fight,
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England's green & pleasant Land.

Ironically, the Anglican hymnal co-opted this poem, and the words and tune were stirringly realized by Emerson, Lake, and Palmer on their progressive rock album, Brain Salad Surgery (1973). They called it "Jerusalem."

8:15 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Mark-

Jesus, what a story.

Vince-

The article by Aram Sinnreich?

mb

8:42 PM  
Anonymous Vince said...

MB,

I thought the article, although not pertinent to the current discussion, actually reinforces your thoughts on how people "rub their phones like rosary beads" as if the technology was some sort of god.

The religious like infatuation with smartphone technology is enabling content developers and providers to shape the worldview of people who "interact" with their smartphones constantly.

They are now part of the Android/Blackberry/iPhone universe. If there is some "content" that remains "filtered" to the consumers of this omnipresent piece of technology or does not come to them at all through their "device" then it isn't part of their reality.

Vince

9:33 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Tim, I recall a similar story on CBS news about a high school student in Florida whose father was unemployed. This boy got up at 2-3 Am every morning to deliver papers and still managed to get good grades and graduate with a scholarship and, of course, was heralded as some kind of hero. But if this country had a decent social safety net then there would be no reason for him to nearly kill himself supporting his family and going to school. Such a story is more an indictment of the U.S. than anything heroic on the boy's part.
Yes, King has surely been sanitized for American consumption and in fact Sears is having a MLK Sale this coming Monday.
I truly feel sorry about the lack of sales for WAF. But I wonder how well it would have done even if Wiley had promoted it better since, as you say, you don't pull the proverbial rabbit out of the hat at the 11th hour. I just read an article from a site called The Economic Collapse which lists 25 facts about the American economy that indicates we are indeed in a depression. Yet the article ends with the usual crap that if we could all band together we can turn this thing around. Aircraft carriers turning directions in a bathtub? Hey, it can happen.

10:07 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Hey, how 'bout the uproar 'bout them marines pissing on the Afganis ( the media called the dead "insurgents" but that has not been verified)? The Pentagon brass called it disgraceful. Sure, but it's ok to invade sovereign countries, kill thousands of innocents,and threaten war daily with Iran. That, of course, is acceptible behavior.

11:15 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dan-

Pretty sick, but when yr raised in a culture in which the Other is always subhuman, this (and glee over torture, as in Iraq) is what results. On the other hand, if those guys had flown to suburban Md. and peed on Thos Friedman's shoes, it wd have been a major breakthru for truth and decency. Well, Obama's shoes as well (Guccis).

mb

12:02 AM  
Anonymous Kelvin said...

Hi Maury,

Is it really a "fact" that we cannot abolish 15 millennia of civilization? (But, actually, I thought it was more like 6 or, at most, 10 millennia...but I won't quibble.) Did the first civilized say to themselves, "We'll never become civilized because we can't turn the clock back on several million years of HG existence?" Civilization is a blip on the timescale of human history most of which has been lived as HG. If we can't turn the clock back, nature will do it for us because civilization is not sustainable and eventually we'll be back to the stone age, but with this difference: the planet will by then be uninhabitable.

I didn't know that civilized societies are a subset of sedentary ones. By sedentary do you mean domesticated? I'll need to re-read Wandering God in which I assume you discuss that.

How must have time been experienced in HG society? Cyclically I assume. Whereas in civilized societies time is experienced as linear and thus as accumulating by means of writing (I think of Proust here) a ponderous palpability, the weight of recorded time: history. But perhaps history is an illusion. After all, the past is not present; it has fled and only exists because we record it and activate that recording, or, better, reenact it by the slow intentional process of reading and writing and thereby make it palpable within us. History is the grand illusion of civilization.

2:53 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Kel-

Reply wd be a v. long discussion, wh/I can't do at present. But u shd know that most civs lived in cyclical time as well; this was not just an HG thing. Linear time was inroduced by the Jews, making it a fairly recent innovation.

mb

5:27 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Calling all Wafers who live in British Columbia:

I'm doing a talk at UBC in Vancouver on March 17, and have been looking around for a bkstore to do a rdg at. Chapters proved to be rather unapproachable, so I don't know where that leaves me. I know one of u guys mentioned a bkstore in Victoria--Munro's? Bolen?--but I can't recall for sure, and it's been so long since I was there that I've forgotten, myself. Anyway, I'm currently seeking suggestions for the Vanc-Vic scene, if u have any. Thanks!

mb

5:32 AM  
Anonymous Kevin said...

Kelvin: A better reference to the Blake poem ("Golden Autumn Days," Van Morrison):

Who would think this could happen in a city like this
Among Blake's green and pleasant hills,
And we must remember as we go through September
Among these dark satanic mills
If there's such a thing as justice I could take them out and flog them
In the nearest green field
And it might be a lesson to the bleeders of the system
In this whole society


And I'm taking in the Indian Summer
And I'm soaking it up in my mind
And I'm pretending like it's paradise
On a golden autumn day, on a golden autumn day
On a golden autumn day, on a golden autumn day, golden autumn day ...

Dr. Berman: Per Vancouver, contact Justin Ritchie of The Extraenvironmentalist podcast. He's posted at this site and, I believe, been in touch with you.

11:08 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Kev-

Yes, Justin is looking into it. He did an interview w/me that will air in Vanc. on Jan. 25, and I'll post the link here soon after that. In addition, Justin has arranged for me to speak at UBC on March 17; after which I'm planning to drop down to San Fran, for some bkstore rdgs. Will post my itinerary here b4 then, so that those of u in the Vanc. or SF areas can come, if yr so inclined. Stay tuned, amigos.

In the interim, I ask u all to ponder this line from Madison in The Federalist Papers: "the liberties of Rome proved the final victim to her military triumphs." Hmm...sounds kinda familiar, eh wot?

mb

11:27 AM  
Anonymous Kelvin said...

Kevin,

"A better reference?" I was quoting Blake's actual words not referring to them. If you think Van Morrison's lovely "Golden Autumn Days" that weaves phrases from Blake's original a better poem than Blake's, then that's your call and I won't argue that. For myself, I prefer Blake:

And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England's pleasant pastures seen?

And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here,
Among these dark Satanic Mills?

Bring me my Bow of burning gold:
Bring me my Arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!

I will not cease from Mental Fight,
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England's green & pleasant Land.

In any case, thank you for your response.

1:47 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Dr. Berman:

Based on a sudden inspiration, I took the liberty of e-mailing Harry Kreisler of “Conversation with History” on UCTV at Berkeley and asking him to consider interviewing you on his program. What the hell, he’s already interviewed Noam Chomsky, Chalmers Johnson, Howard Zinn, and Eric Foner, and none of them pulled any punches.

I told him that you’d be speaking at UBC in Vancouver on March 17th, and that you plan to visit SF shortly after that. I also said mostly good things about you so that he’d want you on his program. He seems to interview people in his studio who happen to be in the Berkeley area at the time for some other reason.

You once gave someone (not me) your ‘mauricio’ e-mail address, so I took the further liberty of sending that along so they would be able to get in touch with you.

For those petty people who care about such things, I should say that Chalmers Johnson, during his 2008 interview, was dressed no more fashionably than you. He even wore funny orthopedic shoes.

Dammit! If John Wiley & Sons won't do thise things, somebody has to! Good luck and I hope this works.

David Rosen

3:13 PM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

Kelvin,

I wouldn't underestimate the initial power & impact of the civil rights movement. Still, I take your point & agree that the threat of violence did have much to do with pushing things forward. If nothing else, the more savvy reactionary powers-that-be saw that there had to be the appearance of real change & moral growth. I realize how cynical that sounds, but the status quo has managed to become far more diverse these days, without its basic mission statement having to change in any real way.

The thing about non-violence is, of course, that its success depends on enough of the general public feeling sufficient shame & guilt at the crimes committed with the complicity of their silence. But what happens when that's no longer the case? A couple of decades ago, I'd have expected a majority of Americans to be revolted by officially sanctioned torture -- not so today. What was morally repugnant for ordinary Americans a 3-4 decades ago is now lauded, accepted & encouraged.

We've seen how major antiwar demonstrations went right down the mass media memory hole in the past decade. So we may indeed have reached the point where only a very real threat of genuine revolution can have any effect.

As to whether that'll make any difference at this point is another question entirely. Certainly any kind of moral pursuasion is considered quaint & absurd at best these days. And a sign of weakness & the un-American Other at worst.

3:47 PM  
Anonymous Santos said...

It was great to hear you speaking spanish. It was really brave from you to make an interview in a foreign language on so complex topics. You did pretty well, although I think I have seen you in better interviews: the journalist was not specially sharp.

Just as you, I moved from Spain -my homeland- to Sweden for twelve years ago. It was not because of a question of values as you, but because of love. I have never been in the US and the little I know is trough films and your books and blog. I understand your criticism to your country, but somehow you should miss some positive values or aspects from your homeland (?). One discovers the meaning of belonging to a culture when one first lives for a while in a different one. I am also very critic to the spanish one (and to the swedish), but I have also learned to appreciate many aspects for the spanish one that i was never aware of when living in Spain.

Manda un aviso si alguna vez decides dar una charla o un paseo por Suecia. Sería un placer.

Un abrazo,

Juan

4:09 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Juan-

Thanks for writing in. Meanwhile, if you can find someone to invite me to give a talk in Stockholm, my bags are packed; tho it wd hafta be in English, I fear, as I only know one word of Swedish.

Tak,
mb

DR-

Thanks for campaigning on my behalf. I wrote Moe's Bks in Berkeley yesterday abt doing a rdg on March 21 or 22, and am hoping they are interested. Maybe Harry wd be willing to coordinate an interview w/that, to help pull crowds in, what the heck. As for me, I'll plan to dress like a complete moron this time; I mean, why stop at shoes? A bathrobe wd be a nice touch...

5:18 PM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

MB,

Wear something wild or offbeat enough, and maybe you'll pop up on AOL or Yahoo! in a story entitled, "The Professor Wore THAT For His TV Interview?!?!?" -- gotta grab 'em right away, after all!

5:47 PM  
Anonymous Kelvin said...

Hi Tim,

You're right about the apparent shift from moral outrage and protest over issues like civil rights and the Vietnam War to our present one of apathy and empathy-deficiency. But moral outrage, protest, or at least guilt on the part of whom? You mention the general public, but that seems too vague to me, at least when applied to the 60s. There was then the large population of baby boomers and many of them were disaffected from parental expectation to conform and become part of the general public. Boomers have aged and therein lies the present diversity of the status quo that you mention; perhaps only a faux-diversity as they seek to assuage their guilt for selling out(?), for many of them seem to have conformed in the end (thanks to the Reagan/Thatcher 80s) and some have joined the dominant class, if they ever left it (I remember hippyism as a rite of passage).

Present apathy about torture, desecration, suspension of legal protection, massive build-up of surveillance, and endless war is outrageous but no one cares except for a minority that seems to be unaffected by CRE.

I've mentioned violence and revolution that now seem to be the engines for going nowhere, the rise and fall of empires being our version of cycles. Witness the Reign of Terror and rise of Napoleon after the French Revolution or the rise of military control in Egypt after the ousting of Mubarek. Solution: return to HG and scrap civ...But that's another endless debate... I just read footnote 50 on pp. 280 to 284 of Wandering God (SUNY, 2000) where Maury presents the scholarly debate over the question of evolution from an egalitarian HG existence to the hierarchy of civ.

Thank you for your thoughtful reply.

7:10 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Kel-

Altho indignation was much greater in 60s/70s than it is today, we need to remember that percentage-wise, it was still minuscule during the Vietnam era. Only a tiny fraction of the population marched against the war; the vast majority were far more upset by the protesters than by an army that was torching civilian villages.

Tim-

I may do my next TV appearance barefoot, with orthopedic shoes hanging from my ears.

mb

7:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi,

As if the NDAA wasn’t creepy enough, y’all just wait 'til you see what Sen. Lieberman's been cooking next:

http://rt.com/usa/news/expatriation-act-citizenship-ndaa-737/

Geez, and when you think Lieberman was our “choice” to Cheney...LOL

Julian

8:19 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Julian-

I tell ya, it won't take long b4 anyone who criticizes the gov't can be stripped of citizenship and shipped off to Gitmo. As for Lieberman, I remember some yrs ago when he was trying to be a candidate for pres, and the whole thing fell flat. On SNL, Tina Fey (whom I do truly love) announced that the campaign had been declared a Jewish holiday, given how long and depressing it was.

Meanwhile, take a look at this:

http://rt.com/usa/
news/cnn-urinating
-loesch-marines-731/

I mean, aren't Americans wonderful?

mb

10:02 PM  
Anonymous Kelvin said...

Hi Maury,

Re: civs and cyclical time: which civs? Sumerian, Babylonian, or Magdelenian culture? And I'm guessing that Jews conceptualized linear time because of their Messianic hope in which aspiration was directed toward a future time of restitution? Could you recommend any books or articles on these topics?

Re: 60s protesters: what you say confirms the basic orientation of most of the country toward hustling no matter what part of our history you consider. Just saw CSPAN's Poverty in America. Roger Clay, Pres of Insight Center for Community Economic Development, said that most Americans are hoping to be rich and that's why they protect the rich. But I first heard that here from you. Other panelists were Cornel West, Barbara Ehrenreich, Suze Orman [which one of these things does not belong with the others?], and the ubiquitous Michael Moore who got the last word, saying to the one percent that the 99% are peaceful now, but don't wait too long or else they'll get tired of being screwed by you, get violent, and tear down your gated communities to get at you [not exactly his words, but a not-so-veiled threat of violence]. But the 99% yawned and went back to their 3 jobs knowing that prosperity is just around the corner.

11:19 PM  
Blogger J. Loeza said...

Hola Moauricio, ahora mejor lo escribo en español jajaja caramba, espero no lo digas también por mí (en tu respuesta a mi primer comentario) y que no se haya mal entendido... de lo contrario debí poner "what the hell with the comment of Sara about the socks? jajaja

Saludos y buen incio de año

1:07 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

JL-

Ay, muchacho! Basta ya con los calcetines! Por cierto: eres un perro?

Kel-

All of them. Only the Jews were different, in the pre-Christian ancient world, and yes, due to messianism; which came out of certain gnostic beliefs about transformation. For biblio, check ftnotes in "Coming to Our Senses," lots of stuff written on the subject. As for poor Mr. Moore: his faith in the American people is sweet, I guess, but has little to do with reality. The 99% yawned, but so did the 1%; they are hardly losing any sleep over these demos, u can be sure of that. I do wish Mike wd just read a *little* American (and Roman) history. But I do understand the need to believe that OWS is some sort of great revolutionary event. If Mike (and a great many others) didn't have that straw to clutch at...what then?

I tell u, I wish he'd just look reality in the eye, and go make a movie on why OWS failed, and what the likely trajectory of US disintegration will look like. That might open the door to *serious* optimism, one based on a post-collapse society 30-50 yrs down the road, which is local and decentralized, into sustainability, and where traditional values have made a serious comeback, and there are very few morons on cell phones and Prozac. I know, not bloody likely (the film, that is, not the scenario).

For the present, in any case, Dolts Rule, and we need to celebrate them: Michele, Sarah, Herman, and hopefully our next pres: the Walking Haircut! O&D, amigo; the quantity of stupidity and (self-)destruction we are going to see in our lifetime boggles the mind.

mb

1:43 AM  
Blogger Zosima said...

David, it seems that we are both victims of our environments, you seem to be surrounded by people claiming scientific infallibility, and I am afflicted by those claiming religious infallibility. For the last few years I have been engaged in processing books from all parts of America sent to us by people using our online book buying program, so, my data is drawn from a sample of many thousands. I know Bishop Spong from seeing him many years ago on Bill Maher, it was refreshing and rare to hear such an intelligent view of religion being aired. A book of his came in recently, it was the only one I can remember. I think I can leave it to the imagination as to the quantity, quality and authors of the other religious books that stream in day after day. I wish this was not happening. An interesting discovery, the people who send these books invariably send books on alcoholism. So some alien scholars thousands of years from now may conclude from this evidence that Alcoholism was the largest Christian denomination. Sadly, good non-fiction books on any topic are rare. Call it a slim hope, but I like to believe that people may hang on to good non-fiction until their desperation is complete. All this does make me wonder where the non book reading public, the other 90% of Americans, are getting their knowledge on these topics. A few people do seem to be unloading their old copies of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, I suppose some would have described him as smug. What wouldn’t I give to be able to get in the car after work and flick on the radio and hear at least one smug scientist for a change.

4:00 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

I would like some opinions on this. Several people I know, intelligent, well educated and what one might call 'left-wing,' adore these comic-type 'news' programs such as Colbert and Stewart offer up. I find them loathsome, phony and feel they fit into the category, 'accepted non-conformity.'If a hot woman wears these 'pre-torn' jeans she's cool, if I wear a pair of old torn jeans I'm thought of as a bum. The former is 'accepted non-conformity.'
I feel that instead of opposing the powers that be these shows enhance their credibility. One can point to them and say, 'look, we have a free press, look at all this criticism!'
But notice when criticism cuts to the bone a la Chomsky. Unacceptable. Go away.
Notice too how so-called news correspondents dress exactly like the political types they report on. They are interchangeable. No ponytails here, nor tattoos. I was a journalist for more than thirty years and it may be of interest to readers that the fav author of the majority of correspondents is Stephen King, and the top show '24.'

7:12 AM  
Anonymous David M said...

Dr. Berman & DAAers

This just in: Divine Intervention has not stepped in to win a superbowl for Tim Tebow. I wonder how many Americans have lost their faith in god over this?

The republican candidates are using superpack money to destroy each other's reputation(what reputation you ask?). Who are now complaining about the supreme court's decision in citizens united (can you believe John McCain).

And last but not least: the discussions and analysis over the pass few days have been fabulous. I honor yall for the enlightenment. I like the Blake prose especially.

10:14 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Michael-

If u keep in mind at all times that Americans are the dumbest people on earth, with little more than fried rice in their heads, you won't be too confused or upset. Then the real question becomes, How in hell did this happen? As for Colbert and Stewart, I think they did some sort of show together a yr ago or so, trying to send up Glenn Beck. But as u say, it's just comic criticism; it doesn't get down to what's really wrong, and w/all that cranial fried rice, Americans don' wanna hear it anyway. Can u imagine it? Some dumb cluck in St. Louis or Sacramento, or some cop from the Bronx assigned to beat up OWS protesters and toss their bks in a dumpster, rdg Chomsky and saying to his wife, "Honey, u won't believe what's in this book! I've been blind to how rapacious American foreign policy is all these years." She: "Oh John, that's terrific! Why don't we get the neighbors together and form a study group? I was getting rather tired of Fox News anyway!"

Z-

Well, consider the Fried Rice Index (FRI) discussed above; also the fact that only 28% of Americans believe in evolution. Europeans rightly regard us as a joke society. HRIR!

mb

10:49 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

From today's NYT:

1. "According to the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety disorders now affect 18 percent of the adult population of the United States, or about 40 million people....That makes anxiety the most common psychiatric complaint by a wide margin, and one for which we are increasingly well-medicated. Last spring, the drug research firm IMS Health released its annual report on pharmaceutical use in the United States. The anti-anxiety drug alprazolam — better known by its brand name, Xanax — was the top psychiatric drug on the list, clocking in at 46.3 million prescriptions in 2010."

2. (aka Gleefully trafficking in people's misery:) http://www.nytimes.
com/2012/01/15/us/
foreclosure-auctions
-in-phoenix-show-
capitalism-at-its-rawest.
html?_r=1&hpw

Gee, do ya think there may be a relationship here?

11:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brand (Michael) Moore is just that, a show boat. He likes to think his allegiance is with OWS and their representation (99%). The truth is that a big part of him "yawns" with the 1% (with at an estimated net worth of $50M) he is most definitely a part.

12:21 PM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

Kelvin,

I appreciate this civilized discussion myself. It's helping me to sort some things out in my mind.

To be honest with myself, I'm just plain scared of the prospect of increased violence of any kind. If it does come to that, the Powers That Be are clearly very good indeed at dealing with would-be revolutionaries & their sympathizers, even if they can't -- OK, won't -- do squat about the problems afflicting the 99%. (Why should they, since they're creating & benefiting from those problems in the first place?)

So I'm grasping at some illusory straws, I suppose. A little unrealistic optimism is sometimes necessary to keep from going fuckin' nuts -- but it's important for me to remember that it's a temporary placebo at best.

Thus my increasing immersion in Blake, Mozart, Miles Davis, etc. My wife & I are making more of an effort to live a civilized life, if for no other reason than to avoid being swallowed up by our junk culture. I don't know, maybe the best we can do is save ourselves now?

Michael,

I agree, socially approved "non-conformity" papers over a multitude of sins & superficiality. Man, was Marcuse right about that!

MB,

Orthopedic shoes as earrings is a great touch! Maybe you can market them as "Bermans" & be hailed as a fashion innovator & entrepreneur, a shining example of the American Dream!

1:07 PM  
Anonymous Kevin said...

Kelvin: I meant better than Emerson, Lake, & Puke.

2:55 PM  
Anonymous shep said...

Dovidel:

U the counterpuncher?

4:16 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Tim-

Thanks for yr encouragement. Trouble is that as far as money goes, my whole life can be characterized as having the anti-Midas touch.

mb

7:07 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Shep:

No, I'm not. There are David Rosens all over the place.

David Rosen (the wrong one)

7:58 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

DR and Shep:

It's possible that the world is over-Rosened.

But then, someone once came up to me after a lecture with a copy of "All that Is Solid Melts into Air" for me to sign.

mb

8:15 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

David M:

Maybe ‘Life and Fate’ figured that Tim Tebow needed to be taught a lesson. Or maybe it would do him some good to understand it that way.

Zosima:

Yes, the country is swirling in fundamentalist thinking as people grasp for straws as the whole system goes down the drain.

Long ago I decided not to listen to talk radio. I avoid the ‘lamestream’ media too, but whenever I do overhear ‘science’ being talked about, they either confuse science with the latest techno-drek, or they take some dubious research study and extrapolate it until it promises to solve all the world’s problems.

If I had to spend any time in a car and wanted something intelligent to listen to, I’d hook up a CD player and listen to audio books and courses from ‘The Teaching Company’. You can get audio books, and maybe Teaching Company courses, from a public library. These courses aren’t cheap if you have to buy them, but talk radio is free, and worth every penny.

One Teaching Company course I recommend to you is called “Science and Religion”. It’s a short twelve-lecture course and the Lecturer is Lawrence Principe who teaches Chemistry and History of Science at Johns Hopkins. The guy is very Catholic – I don’t necessarily agree with everything he says, and I’m sure you won’t either, but you will never again confuse fundamentalism with intelligent religion.

David Rosen

9:24 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

And then there's this:

http://vermontrepublic.
org/why-america-failed

11:00 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

Wow, what a great review! Sums up brilliantly virtually everything I could have said about WAF. As I read his review I think I had some of the same feelings the people at mission control must have had when Apollo 13 splashed down safely. I felt like throwing all my papers into the air. I eagerly desire to read all of Thomas H. Naylor's books. Great writers deserve thoughtful readers.

3:46 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

Morris, did you ever think about recording podcasts about WAF and uploading them to Itunes? More exposure? I'm thinking of either excerpts, or summaries of the major themes.

This may be of interest to readers here. After reading Chomsky's/Herman's 'Manufacturing Consent,' I realized that I was a foreign press dupe. I emailed him to say that I found nothing in the book that was untrue.
Now, you should have seen with your own eyes the reaction in the newsroom when I mentioned Chomsky. Wow! Silence, heads turned, glaring. Then it started, 'he's a crank, self-hater, half-cocked.' Real vicious.
After that I made a point of bringing the book up just to irritate them.
And I have some credibility in the journalistic realm, as I single-handedly caused the policy on mini-bar usage to be overturned. A world-wide corporate directive said, 'henceforth, mini-bar bills must be settled privately by the individual involved.' For my tombstone inscription?

On this fashion thing: I didn't see the white socks, only a talk given in an all-black outfit via the internet. I thought you looked cool, like an Avenging Angel.

4:50 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

Professor:

Please post the most important book you have ever read. Must be hundreds but pick one!

9:32 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

Just by chance, while leafing through the City Lights Pocket Poets Anthology last night, I came across a poem by Kenneth Patchen that eloquently says what I've been fumbling at in my recent posts:

While the sun still spends his fabulous money
For the kingdom in the eye of a fool,
Let us continue to waste our lives
Declaring beauty to the world

And let us continue to praise truth and justice
Though the eyes of the stars turn black
And the smoking juice of the universe,
Like the ruptured brain of God,
Pours down upon us in a final consecration

An NMI credo, perhaps?

9:42 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Well, the truth is out there, but it exists only in minor pockets, 'alternative' locations, and in the work of marginalized figures. Which in fact guarantees America's decline, as the pres or his putative replacements repeat the tired and empty formulas of American mythology, and the electorate mechanically listens and believes. Occasionally I'm angry about it--like Noam--but mostly, I'm just sad.

As for most impt bks: pretty near impossible. I can mention a few that had a great impact on me: The Odyssey; Owen Barfield, Saving the Appearances; John Finley, Four Stages of Greek Thought; Paul Mantoux, The Industrial Revolution in the 18th Century; Christopher Hill, The World Turned Upside Down; but that's just off the top of my head.

10:12 AM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Shep:

Since you ask about influential books, why don’t you Google “John Gray” “The book that changed my life”.

Apparently the world is over-Grayed as well as over-Rosened and over-Bermaned. This is John Gray the philosopher and professor of European Thought, not the pop-psychologist.

In any case, writing in ‘The New Statesman’ in 2009, he chooses “The Pursuit of the Millennium” by Norman Cohn.

David Rosen

12:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nothing like living in "interesting times" is there?

Truthdig: Why I’m Suing Barack Obama by Chris Hedges

Attorneys Carl J. Mayer and Bruce I. Afran filed a complaint Friday in the Southern U.S. District Court in New York City on my behalf as a plaintiff against Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to challenge the legality of the Authorization for Use of Military Force as embedded in the latest version of the National Defense Authorization Act, signed by the president Dec. 31.

The act authorizes the military in Title X, Subtitle D, entitled “Counter-Terrorism,” for the first time in more than 200 years, to carry out domestic policing. With this bill, which will take effect March 3, the military can indefinitely detain without trial any U.S. citizen deemed to be a terrorist or an accessory to terrorism. And suspects can be shipped by the military to our offshore penal colony in Guantanamo Bay and kept there until “the end of hostilities.” It is a catastrophic blow to civil liberties.

I spent many years in countries where the military had the power to arrest and detain citizens without charge. I have been in some of these jails. I have friends and colleagues who have “disappeared” into military gulags. I know the consequences of granting sweeping and unrestricted policing power to the armed forces of any nation. And while my battle may be quixotic, it is one that has to be fought if we are to have any hope of pulling this country back from corporate fascism.

...

4:02 PM  
Anonymous David M said...

Dr Berman
Zosima beat me to the punch,I second everthing he said; what a great review. BTW with the living dead metaphor I see the possiblity of a sequal to "night of the living dead". Perhaps you could pen a screen play ( ala Philip K Dick); lets call it "The post modern era of the living dead". All across America consummers are walking around like Zombies stalking walmarts and bestbuys, trampling each other to death in search of the last I-phone. Just a thought.

Zosima:
You ask where the non-reading public gets it information. My experience has been wikipeadia. Typically their only looking for highlights or data bites as in sound bites and don't want to get bogged down in some long discussion. It just makes it too complicated for them. And it seems that its the only reliiable source as far as those folks are concerned. On numerous occasion seeking information I would look it up in my Britannica(35 years old)or some other hard reference or text book and immediatly someone would run to their computer and double check it. Its like they can't stand it if it doesn't come off the internet. I have been ask many times why I keep so many textbooks, and reference books around when there's the net.

8:52 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

DM-

I read somewhere, a month ago or so, that US med students were studying for their exams not by rdg Gray's Anatomy or any std textbk, but by reading articles in Wikipedia. Glad I have Mexican doctors...

mb

9:23 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

re John Gray. Take a look at his book 'Straw Dogs.' Peckinpah knew well the Tao Te Ching, from which he took the title for his film. 'Heaven and Earth are ruthless, and treat the myriad creatures as straw dogs.' Small straw dogs were used in religious festivals in ancient China. After the ceremony they were tossed on the ground and trodden over as people left. The film is based on the book, 'The Siege of Trencher's Farm.' The film's producer wanted a new name and Peckinpah said, 'Straw Dogs.' The producer later said, 'I didn't have a clue what it meant, but it sounded cool.'
The most influential book for me (not that anyone has asked or cares) is without a doubt, 'The World As Will and Representation' by Schopenhauer. Gray talks about it a lot. I think I made a huge mistake reading that book.

3:49 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

Michael, David, Mo:

Tks. Better git to ordering.

Huge mistake??????

1:02 PM  
Anonymous Mark Notzon said...

Dear MB,

I discovered Owen Barfield's "Saving the Appearances" in one of those serendipitous "stumbled upon" moments, when a "golden apple" drops your way browsing the stacks.

The book wears well, although a contemporary reading might go "saving the appearances in an era of disappearing savings." I won't let my cynicism, though, tarnish the spiritual merit of the original.

(Also discovered P. Duhem's essay "sosein ta fainoumena" in the same manner.)

3:26 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

@Shep

I'm joking, sort of. A major theme of Schopenhauer's book is best summed up in his own words:

'This world is the battleground of tormented, agonized beings who devour each other for survival.'

John Gray noted that Schopenhauer's damning critique of existence has never been effectively refuted. Einstein, asked about his world-view said, 'I agree with Schopenhauer.'

Schopenhauer would have loved WAF. But don't expect to be popular at dinner parties with his book under your arm.

3:42 AM  
Anonymous Arnold Layne said...

Kevin said...

"I meant better than Emerson, Lake, & Puke."

Wow, is it still the '70's, when this sort of "wit" was unleashed against progressive rock bands? I had no idea.

1:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm with you as regards the US. But the situation is much the same in Mexico in many respects, in that a pathologically selfish economic elite owns and runs the country, and moreover, as with the rest of the world, it is being overrun by corporate conglomerates. The Mexican elite are, if possible, even more materialistic than the Americans. At any rate, the elite of the so-called third world has always cooperated, comprador-style, with the US and Europe. See Michael Hudson's, "Super Imperialism" http://goo.gl/b5crP

The underlying problem is not at all the US "cowboy" capitalism. It isn't even capitalism. It is withindustrial civilization, the product of scientism and the Enlightenment. It is everything that is bound-up with the notion of progress and what the French called "la mission civilizatrice." Traditional people saw this very clearly at the outset and were horrified. The Latin countries believe in "progress" and "development" just as fervently as the northern ones. (Have you read E. Bradford Burns' "The Poverty of Progress"?) Moreover, the Latin countries are profoundly racist, above all the ones with indigenous populations. Mexico is profoundly racist: have a look at the models used in their advertising or the actresses in telenovelas. The European look is always the ideal, never the indigenous, and not even the darker mestizo. I could go on and on. I have lived in Latin America half my life: yes, it is more pleasant in certain respects, but let's not turn a blind eye to the obvious. By the way, two beautiful books on traditional cultures by a gifted Mexican artist and author are those of Miguel Covarrubias: "Mexico South: The Isthmus of Tehuantepec" and "The Island of Bali." Highly recommended!

Best wishes,

Jorge

9:11 PM  
Blogger Laurina said...

que preciosa encontrar una persona con crencias tan parecidas a las mias. eres un angel. mil gracias!

9:43 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Ay Laurina!

Muchisimas gracias! Aqui esta algo para ti en ingles:

http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/WhyAmer

abrazos, chica-

mauricio

11:31 AM  

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