June 27, 2012

In a Nutshell

-----Original Message-----
From: Mr. X
Sent: Wednesday, June 27, 2012 10:16 AM
To: mauricio@morrisberman.com
Subject: Thank you
Mr. Berman,

In the last few weeks I've read The Twilight of American Culture and the first half of Dark Ages America, and I feel compelled to write and thank you.

I'm 56 years old, and for most of my life I've been haunted by the sense that, between the world I grew up in and the world I ended up in, something went terribly wrong. Don't misunderstand - I'm not a nut. I'm a management consultant working with large arts organizations around issues of strategy and innovation, and pretty successful at it by the standards of an economically oriented world. But I have been haunted (it's the only word that works) by a bone deep sense that something very fundamental went amiss in my lifetime. Your work has helped me to understand the source of my disquiet.

I think there must be millions like me facing a terrible choice. On one hand we can face the triumph in our time of a global consumer culture, and the soul sickness it creates and depends on, and live with the misery that nothing we can do can turn that historic tide. On the other, we can indulge in the delusion that if we just recycle enough, or embrace our inner child, or save the white tigers, or indulge in any number of anodynes, that we can change the world and redeem our species.

It's really a choice of miseries - the misery of seeing a terrible truth, or the misery of denial. I have envied people who could do the latter, and tried to myself, but with no success. Your work has helped me realize that, for me anyway, the misery of denial is the greater of the two. Thank you.

Dear Mr. X,

Yeah, that does summarize the choice, n'est-ce pas? A few things to check out, after you finish DAA:

1. The sequel, Why America Failed.
2. The 1st half of A Question of Values.
3. My essay, buried somewhere in the archives of my blog (late 2011?), called "La longue duree."

Briefly, the way out is thru. We can't reverse this corporate-consumerist tide. Nothing can. It has to play out to its full self-destruction. But while this is going on, there are independent alternatives that are sprouting (including, in the US, secessionist movements), experiments in nonprofit and steady-state types of economy, that will become increasingly attractive as the colossus we live in cracks up. This is 30-40 yrs away, but they are, I believe, a viable future--simply because we shall have no other choice than decentralization and eco-sustainability (accompanied by significant austerity). We are fast approaching a world of limits, in short.

Folks on my blog thought I was kidding re: my enthusiasm for a Palin presidency (for example); but the fact is that Obama's destruction of the US has been ad hoc and desultory. With a full-fledged nut like Palin or Bachmann in the White House, the whole process would be greatly accelerated. The notion that the ills of the US might be cured via the ballot box is quite mad, in my view. Hence, might as well have a Herman Cain or Rick Perry at the helm, to get the job over with. Romney will move in this direction, of course, but as in the case of the late Roman Empire, better to have a completely mindless buffoon in charge. In the meantime, there are only two options for the aware American (all 453 of them) that I can see: emigrate (my solution, in part), or take the NMI option outlined in the Twilight book (the other part of my solution).

Hope this helps. Thanks for writing.



Anonymous JWO said...

I hope MR. X can find his way to the blog as well, it is heartening to find that there are more NMIs (or DAA-ers) out there.

1:19 PM  
Anonymous Stone said...

Dear MB,

Just read the letter of Mr. X and your excellent response.

Here's some information about a man who does something that is feasible, meaningful, and that exemplifies the only TYPE of change that can be accomplished nowadays, since the entire political process is paralyzed by massive corruption and thereby unresponsive to the majority of the inhabitants of this land. By 'the only TYPE of change that can be accomplished nowadays' I mean locally initiated change, change that refuses all giganticism, and that deliberately stays away from our stultified political life.

"Marcin Jakubowski earned a Ph.D. in physics, and his doctoral thesis deals with velocity turbulence and zonal flow detection, whatever that is. But when Jakubowski graduated in 2004, he wanted nothing to do with physics or academia.

'I was so disillusioned and disenchanted with that whole world, I wanted to leave it as soon as possible,' says the 39-year-old Jakubowski. 'So the first thing I did after graduation is settle on some land and started getting dirty.'

Jakubowski moved to Missouri, where he eventually bought 30 acres in the town of Maysville. He grew wheat, raised goats and tended a fruit orchard. But then one day, his tractor broke.

'I came from an institution of higher learning, so I had no practical skills,' he says. 'I picked up a welder and a torch and started using it.'

Jakubowski actually made a tractor from scratch, using square steel tubing that he bolted together.

'A tractor is basically a solid box with wheels, each with a hydraulic motor,' he says. "So, conceptually, it's actually very simple. And when I first did it, it was like, 'Wow, a tractor' ... I was amazed to find this actually works.'

Jakubowski says the experience of making his own tractor transformed him and he set about designing and building affordable alternatives to industrial machines. The documentation and design is made available for free online as part of his Open Source Ecology project.

Jakubowski plans to prototype several dozen machines, including a wind turbine, cement mixer and sawmill. He refers to them collectively as the Global Village Construction Set."

Source: http://www.npr.org/2012/02/19/147110017/building-a-village-one-home-brewed-tool-at-a-time

A "must-see" is Marcin Jakubowski's Web site:


I consider Jakubowski to be a USAmerican that I can admire; he embodies some of the best things about this country.

Tomorrow or later, I shall present another man whom I admire and whose work effects real, positive change -- if that's okay?

I suppose that what I am suggesting is that the Monastic Option is not the only option open to those who feel totally alienated from our miserable society, unless I misunderstood the full import of the concept of monastic option.


2:11 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I don't see the work u describe as necessarily outside the Monastic Option. However, I have to ask u to compress your messages just a bit; this one was a bit too long. Thanks.


Wd love to keep you on this site, but can't do it if u continue with this creepy 3rd-person language of yours. (It actually comes off as a tad demented.) Up 2u.


2:38 PM  
Anonymous Mr. X said...


Interestingly, one of the places where an alternative to the consumer culture still persists is in real monasteries, and, probably more so, convents. I have a number of friends who are monks, and what is refreshing about them is that they remain relatively undamaged by the interpersonal toxicity of contemporary economic culture. They do seem to see you, and their vow of poverty separates them dramatically from the world of buying and selling. They defend a small island in the sociological sea, but at least it is dry there.

2:39 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Mr. X-

Thank u for checking in; it's a pleasure to have u on the blog.


You also need to stop referring to yrself in the 3rd person. I'm asking u to engage in ordinary, everyday dialogue (check out everyone else's messages, to see what I'm talking abt). If u can't stop sounding like a total nut job, I won't be able to post yr communications. Me entiendes?


3:04 PM  
Anonymous Stone said...

Hear ya "loud and clear'. Sorry abt the length; am glad my man Jakubowski qualifies for the monastic opt.

3:20 PM  
Anonymous Michael DG said...


Mr. X could be me. Although he is much more eloquent than I'll ever be. I'm a bit older at 60. I'm having a heck of a time just trying to make it to 62. Not physically, but mentally in this nut house of a country.

I'm almost finished with DAA. I'm going to pick up Question of Values. I already have Why America Failed waiting. I noted that you hadn't yet moved to Mexico and am curious when in the writing of this series that decision was made. Maybe I'll find out in WAF.

Oh and here is your article.


4:24 PM  
Anonymous JPF said...

Mr. X nailed the issues that I feel all 453 of us share. That's why we are here. I wrote a similar e-mail a few weeks ago and you reminded me how hard it is -- impossible! -- to discuss these issues with other Americans. They simply "change the subject." And so I find reading your blog posts, and the resulting comments, helps. A little. It's part catharsis, part blowing off steam, part community, part I'm not sure what. But at least it's something.

4:37 PM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

Mr. X, your heartfelt message is moving & most welcome!

I find myself returning to the work of Thomas Merton of late, and it strikes a deeply resonant chord. In another way, the life described in Jack Kerouac's The Dharma Bums strikes a similar chord. Even if we can't find an isolated spot, perhaps we can still do out best to in the world but not of it, as they say.

For those of us who will most probably stay right where we are due to financial or family or health obligations, it seems to me that keeping some sort of record, bearing witness for those who come after, might not be such a bad idea.


When my wife & I decided to replace a leaky kitchen faucet ourselves instead of calling a plumber, we felt a certain trepidation, envisioning a flooded floor. But we did our research & completed the job fairly quickly & successfully one afternoon. The sense of accomplishment at even such a small task is remarkable! Needless to say, we're going to be doing more ourselves & calling an expert only when absolutely necessary from now on.

That's one of the things I've noticed about current society: very few people actually seem to DO anything, or know HOW to do it. Or WANT to do it, I suppose.

4:58 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


DAA was published in April of 2006; I hit the road 4 mos. later.


I think of it as a Reality Seminar, a place to keep one's head pasted on straight. After all, we're living in a country in which at least 99% of what we're told is pure kaka, and in which at least 99% of the population can't distinguish between shit and shinola. But yes, it does have a community aspect to it as well, to be sure.


7:17 PM  
Anonymous Vince said...


I too am glad there are people out there who can validate that I have not lost my mind in our mindless culture. It is difficult to shut it out at work. Listening to people trying to rationalize their points of view whose primary sources of information are television and talk radio can be maddening at times.

Life can be pretty challenging especially when I find myself struggling to justify even going to work. I am pretty proficient at what I do. But unfortunately I am part of a transportation system that is overly reliant on oil. We generate tremendous amounts of waste on so many levels.

What I help to maintain keeps the stream of goods and services flowing that people take as an never ending source of commerce. If the majority of people in this country only knew what it took to bring the things they take for granted to the marketplace; never mind; they don't care.

Thank you for everyone who has the courage to share your sane thoughts.


8:45 PM  
Anonymous Mike Alan said...

Welcome to the outcasts club Mr. X. Most all here can relate to what you are experiencing.

On another note, I noticed the religious discussions in earlier posts. This debate reminded me of the Christian concept of dominion and how that concept has been infused into the American mindset. Hence Manifest Destiny, now expanded to the globe and any of our resources that happen to lie under the land of those other people in the world.

The dominion mindset has now brought us to the question of whether it will be economic or ecosystem collapse that will knock us to our knees first. As I sit and look out my window at the smoke from the mountains and neighborhoods of Colorado Springs burning and think of how things might get rebuild in the current economy and how the changing climate is a possible cause of this dry summer, I wonder if both may be conspiring against us! Although, with so much Dept. of Defense infrastructure around here I am sure we can count on Federal largesse to pay for a rebuild, which is strange considering the high population of government-hating/military loving religious conservatives around here. Oh well, typical 'Mercan cognitive dissonance.

Heavy infusions of energy and resources are the only way to maintain unsustainable systems...until the energy and resources run out.

9:22 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

A Milestone was reached a few days ago with little media coverage-Obama played golf for the 100th time as president. Now I need to know-has his game improved? If not I feel I would like a tax refund. I mean why should I continue to support his hobby (main job?) if there is no progress? But at least we now have a good idea what he does all week-play golf, grovel for bucks, and review the weekly kill list with his "priest" John Brennan-our terror expert.
Michael DG,
I'm about to reach 61. I've been traveling in SE Asia for the past 3 months but have to return to the US in about 3 weeks. I am a public school teacher with 2 more years to go before I can retire. Now I am forced to do scripted lessons and need to be at a certain page by the end of each day. The operative word in public schools is pacing-moving through the curriculum in tandem with everyone else. Needless to say, this is not education in the Greek sense of "leading forth." It's simply instruction; that is, do as I say and don't ask too many questions (students are actually discouraged from raising their hands to answer a question if you can believe it). In other words, there is no real way to cope with living in the US. I am certainly looking into emigrating and if possible you should too.

9:36 PM  
Anonymous Michael DG said...

Thanks for the encouragement. In 2004 after jr arrived at his 2nd installment I applied for immigration to NZ. As it turns out they don't want anyone over 55. South of the border here may be the next step. MB says the violence is only in certain areas. Kind of like home.

10:09 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Meanwhile, there's this:


10:18 PM  
Anonymous TonyU said...

Recently, I made one of my best friends very mad. He was going on and on about how to get a formula that works and then sticking to it to become a millionaire. I replied that I really do not want to be a millionaire; that I just wanted to be very comfortable and happy. He snapped at me in anger: supposing you get the opportunity to become a millionaire, will you not pursue it? I admitted that I would pursue it, but not because I want to be a millionaire. He went on and on and on about why being a millionaire is good. Now, I know why everyone wants to be very wealthy: you become a respected expert in any subject.

“At some point in recent American history, we started assuming that if people are rich enough, they must be experts in all things. That’s why we trust Mark Zuckerberg to save Newark schools and Bill Gates to rid the world of malaria. Expertise is so 20th century”


10:48 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I guess it wdn't help all that much to suggest to your friend that he is empty and spiritually dead and has his head wedged in his buttocks. (Why, after all, was he angry? So u don't wanna be a millionaire; big deal.) But u might just float the idea out there, see what happens...


10:54 PM  
Anonymous White Indian said...

The way out is through, but we have to go through this; it's "virtually inevitable" as the good professor from Stanford U. puts it so bluntly.

11:33 PM  
Anonymous sanctuary! said...

Face-Eater Not on "Bath Salts"


Apparently, he was just having a bad day in Miami.

(Conservatives are trying to blame pot...remember the movie "Reefer Madness"?)

12:36 AM  
OpenID alphistia said...

Dear Prof Berman,

Thank you for engaging your readers on your blog and being so kind in general.

I would like to add my quiet voice to the 450 or so Americans who you feel understand what you write about. Actually I think there are quite a few more of us (and I am generally very pessimistic about the enlightenment of Americans). Not of all of us are crazy consumerist selfish war-mongering willfully ignorant a-holes. Amazingly!

I realized when I was a child I was not a good American, and so created a paracosm called Alphistia. (more about that is at http://www.alphistia.com although I am not trying to be a huckster.) I know I am a rather eccentric person in this society, but I also believe Alphistia has prevented me from actually going mad.

There were times when I longed to emigrate to a kinder country, but it never happened and I’m at a loss about how I could start over in advanced middle age without very much money. Western Europe is a mess too and the countries I like wouldn’t let me in, and your own adventure in Mexico probably wouldn’t work out quite as well for me.

So at the age of 54, after being sidelined in this recession from working as a librarian anymore, I hope to leave the stress of that whole ratrace behind and live very modestly on what I have for as long as I can. I am relocating to the nice college town of Champaign Illinois. College towns can be an oasis in the vast desert of contemporary American life, although I know they aren’t a utopia. Still, I hope to survive, and to read, draw, and paint, while working on my Alphistian projects.

As you mention in your blog recently, secession may be the goal of groups of like-minded individuals long-term. OWS was definitely not that and seems too disorganized in any case. But in the short term, individuals and gradually groups may start the process of “internal emigration” - like the Amish, or some intentional communities have already done. NMI isn’t really a concept of hermitages of isolated monks anyway, but of people coming together to live inl communities to preserve their own humanity.

Thirty-forty years from now when these kinds of things might develop...well I will be long gone by then.

It would be interesting to read more of your own ideas of what an NMI would be like and how you think they’ll get organized. Your critique of American and Western consumerist societies are right on target, but I think so many of the people who read you are looking for what good could come out of all this - and what that good society would be like.

2:10 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Sounds like u were an NMI from an early age. For further discussion, check out my Twilight bk; also Ursula LeGuin, "The Telling," might be of some interest, along with Ernest Callenbach's "Ecotopia".


2:53 AM  
Blogger Zosima said...

The corporation (mistakenly thought of as a real society or country) known as the USA requires three types of personnel; managerial (conscience free thugs), 20%; technical,10%; easily replaceable and obedient drone labor, 70%. The system of training (we mistakenly call education) to create this workforce is working perfectly.
Anyone wishing to live the life of a truly educated person will be encouraged to choose a more respected hobby, like maybe paintball. That leaves these people with the two options described by Dr Berman, resign and leave the corporation completely (exile), or stay and find some place out of sight, this is called the NMI option.
I prefer the first option, though not easy, it is the safest. The NMI is like a piece of driftwood amidst the vast ocean of the deluded, the craven, and the soulless. Finding others can be a long and arduous task. And if too many NMIs do find each other and get together, the thugs will get nervous and will remove any growing collection of driftwood as a hazard to shipping, if you get my drift?

5:48 AM  
Anonymous shep said...


You are as talented as any person I have ever been aware of.

I noticed in the FAQ's of your web site you referenced "Ecotopia". How wonderful that all of us on this blog are drawn to the same exact resources. In this way, Alphistia actually exists.

Thank you and all of the other WAF'ers.

7:50 AM  
Anonymous David M said...

Dr. B & DAAers
I go away for a couple a days and there's an invigorating explosion on the site.

Mr.X Your eloquent letter describes quite accuratley how I discovered Dr. B.'s books and wound-up haunting his blog. Looking forward to reading more.

On the Monastic life and becoming self sufficient as possible and maintaing some spiritual and social interation with folks, Two novels by Robert Heinlein have had the most influence, Time Enough for Love and Stranger in a Strange Land. Although I was disenchanted with his militarism and inate fear of communism, his promotion of education not only academic but in the trades and on the common sense level made me realized how much I depend on so called experts when with a little effort on my part I could fend for myself. So I shut off the TV and devoted time to reading books other than just novels.
A short list of what He recommended every man should know how to do.
Deliver a baby
Tune a car
Do quadratic equations in your head
Remember to keep beer in a cool dark place
Grow your own vegetables
Anyways I live on a small farm and have taken these things to heart(I can do quadratics but only on paper)

8:22 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

Interesting article in defense of so-called pretentiousness in the arts:


Quoting from the article:

But aside from discouraging future generations of philosophers and poets (or just thoughtful citizens), the main problem with the casual vilification of pretentiousness is that we end up using it as a pretext to take up arms against anything that smacks of intellectualism. We see this every time humanities and arts courses are defunded or someone talks about voting for the guy he’d like to have a beer with. Among public policymakers, the so-called high-minded pursuits are constantly being threatened and attacked as unnecessary. As if a well-read society weren’t a happier society. As if the viewing of art doesn’t add much needed nourishment to souls desiccated by a hundred thousand insurance forms and boner pill commercials. It is a shortcoming of our age that we have little ability to see or appreciate that which indirectly benefits our lives. We have traded in understanding for information, knowledge for data. And those endeavors — philosophy, psychology, art, even simple human interactions — that help to make sense of the more perplexing aspects of our existences have been relegated to the realm of the nonessential. We’ve taken a myopic and simplistic view of the world: What does not contribute directly to the bottom line is seen as frivolous, as if Maslow’s hierarchy of needs includes little more than food, shelter and the occasional fuck.

11:34 AM  
Blogger Boris the Spider said...

Classic: Americans so offended by the "socialism" of the Supreme Court's upholding of the Affordable Care Act that they're going to move to Canada. I hope they do -- it might actually civilize them.


1:05 PM  
Anonymous JPF said...

Re-reading Mr. X.'s letter again this morning, I'm struck by his profound sense of loss. It's as if he (and many of us here) are really grieving over the loss of what we once held dear. That reminded me of the stages of loss and grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. I'm sure many of you can see yourself at some stage on the list. MB might be at the last stage, so there's no doubt he's helping each of us through the other stages. I find myself mired in the middle most days, but perhaps it is possible to complete the journey thanks to this "Reality Seminar".

1:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

Mike Alan--

You might want to read A Great Aridness by William DeBuys. It's well written and specifically about the Southwest.

Mr. X--

A great letter and perfect summary of the challenge of living in a country in the midst of collapse.

1:49 PM  
Anonymous Ray said...

Dear Morris,

I understand what you mean about M.Bergot, but I find his/her way of expressing things strangely and morbidly compelling. While it has no direct relation to the important issues discussed here, it does give off a kind of demented yet knowing glee very different from the total drivel we encounter on a daily basis from the average person on the street.

Can a future NMI community find a place for a holy fool/village idiot kind of persona? It might be the healthiest thing going...



2:25 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Pick a handle, dammit.


You have a pt, I suppose. Problem for me is that I find Bergot's mode of communicating creepy. I mean there's good weird and there's bad weird, and this strikes me as the latter. I'm waiting for him to start talking like a normal human being, but I tend to think he's not really able to.


2:38 PM  
Anonymous Joseph S. said...

MB, have you read this article, "Spoiled Rotten," in the recent New Yorker? It's about American children being so spoiled in comparison to other society's kids. Worth a read.

"Not long ago, Sally Koslow, a former editor-in-chief of McCall’s, discovered herself in this last situation. After four years in college and two on the West Coast, her son Jed moved back to Manhattan and settled into his old room in the family’s apartment, together with thirty-four boxes of vinyl LPs. Unemployed, Jed liked to stay out late, sleep until noon, and wander around in his boxers. Koslow set out to try to understand why he and so many of his peers seemed stuck in what she regarded as permanent “adultescence.” She concluded that one of the reasons is the lousy economy. Another is parents like her."


6:52 PM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...


You've expressed it beautifully. Like you & so many others here, I often pause & look around at what people have settled for ... did they really give up so much for so little? Each of us has glimpsed some of the possibilities & potential of the world we live in, its rich history & heritage -- why would so many people willingly, even eagerly, give that up? Despise & discard it? What do they really believe that they themselves are worth, deep down? Or do they even have a "deep down" at this point?

I'm still angry, but I'm more in the depressed stage, I suppose. I sometimes want to grab others & say, "Don't you realize what you've thrown away? What you could have? What you could be?"

But for most of them, it wouldn't make any difference, would it ...

7:15 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Thanks, I'll look for it. In Japan, there is a syndrome called hikikomori that may affect something like a million young men, who hole up in their bedroom in their parents house and stay there for as much as ten years. The Japanese have special therapists, and special journals, that deal with this 'disease'.

I cdn't help wonder if this was actually a sane reaction (if passive-aggressive) to a fucked-up society, one that was extremely hi-powered (economically) and competitive. The young men peer out of their rooms and say, "No thanks!"

Meanwhile, the poet Mark Strand writes of the joy of waking up in the morning, to discover

"that we come back whole
to suck the sweet marrow of day,
thank you, bright morning,
thank you, thank you!"


7:22 PM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

I agree with Ray about M.Bergot.
Maybe it will help to imagine that it is (3rd person, but not 3rd party) Bob Dole on the other end of the wire.

P.S. Last thread, someone suggested Orientalism as part of a reading list. The author's last name is S-A-I-D, not S-I-A-D. I haven't read the book, but I took a course of his in 1971...scary-level polymath genius he was then, so the book's probably worth a read.

7:55 PM  
Anonymous Mark Notzon said...

Dear MB,Joseph S,et al

My copy of the "New Yorker" arrived this afternoon and that article was the first I read, and so absorbed me, while I sat in the 98 degree heat, that I swear I stopped sweating.

Of the many virtues of the piece, it is the exquisite and exact phrase "the crapstrewn core of American culture" that currently reverberates with me.

I get into a periodic foment about certain features of vernacular American English--most recently suffering another eruption of scorn for the verb "to impact on," which I thought I had long gotten over.

How, in contrast, Elizabeth Kolbert's phraseology, sooths my soul.

--Mark N.

8:43 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


As I said, there's interesting weird and just screwed-up weird, and La Grande Monsieur Bergot definitely gives off a demented vibe.

Did you ever see the "Jimmy" episode on Seinfeld, the guy who was always referring to himself in the 3rd person? (This is the one in which Mel Torme, the Velvet Fog, made an appearance, singing to Kramer at a banquet, whom he thought was retarded.) The guy was totally mental.


9:57 PM  
OpenID irresponsibility said...

"With a full-fledged nut like Palin or Bachmann in the White House, the whole process would be greatly accelerated. "

It's an appealing notion but we tried it with Nixon, Reagan, Bush I and Bush II, etc. and lo, we are still in deep shit. It's time to stop expecting anything of our leaders and living our own lives, insofar as possible.
Silence. Exile. Cunning.

4:53 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I disagree; Palin and Bachmann are in a category all their own, altho I do admit that Bush Jr. came close to it. Also, "living our own lives" is no solution at all.


Re: yr post on Stockton: be advised that I am not going to publish messages from any more Anons. I'm finished with Anons. Pick a handle, or go somewhere else.


8:36 AM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

Sorry, I completely skipped Seinfeld, Friends, Survivor, Lost, and all so-called 'reality' TV shows.
I recognize them from channel surfing but never stopped and watched.
I've watched plenty of crap TV...just not *those* shows.

Re Anons: do you have the ability to change 'anon' to something else (i.e. can you assign names) ?
If so, maybe change each Anon to 'Okiexyz' with 'xyz' being an integer string starting with 001.
After all, 'anon' can mean 'soon' and folks from OK are called 'Sooners'.

10:13 AM  
Anonymous Stone said...

Another person who qualifies for the Monastic Option: Dan Kittredge.

In the six videos posted at realfoodcampaign.org, Dan introduces some of the key principles and concepts taught in the 2010-2011 Nutrient Dense Crop Production Course, including soil conductivity, brix, soil and water testing, biological inoculation, and protein synthesis. He explains how this knowledge can help you produce high quality nutrition as well as high yields in your crops.

See also the Web site for the Bio-nutrient Food Association.

11:35 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

A numbskull comment quote:

“Remember. if english was good enough for The Lord it should be good enough for you too.” (A “Christian”)

Note: In the South, these people are really scary.

Recently, two young boys came to me and asked for small jobs. During the two times they "worked", they discovered I was a Christian Atheist.

Did not see them for a while. Recently, they brought me a cd of their pastor screaming at the top of his lungs out of the Old Testament.

"I will punish what Amalek did to Israel in opposing them on the way... Now go and smite Amalek and utterly destroy all that they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass."

Turns out Saul kept some of the sheep etc for sacrifices and GOD did not like it that Saul had not done exactly as he commanded.

The preacher's topic for the day was, "When just being good isn't good enough".

I can't figure out why anyone would want to kill slaves and taxpayers. God isn't a capitalist?

Anyone for the monastic option?

O&D Yahooooooo!

Note to MB: I hadn't thought of the balloon people as being full of hot air (perfect) , just clamoring to get in line for the Biggest Loser reality show.

2:21 PM  
Anonymous Joe doesn't know said...


Hopefully this link doesn't get truncated. More evidence of what a douchebag monster Mr. Jobs was. I hope he's having a peaceful, meditative time in hell.

2:49 PM  
Anonymous abc said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

Mark--Thank you so much for recommending the NYer article. Having reared daughters and frequently seeing two grandchildren, I can assure you every word is true. Things changed at some point from preparing our kids to be self-reliant, tolerating inconvience,and accepting things don't always work out to being cheerleaders and tireless supporters of "following your dream." American exceptionalism plays a significant role and, I suspect, the expectation by parents and kids alike that no one (certainly not them!)has to start at the bottom.
And in their defense, there's very little opportunity for creativity left and, without that, it's understandable why the cubicle looks less than alluring.

6:49 PM  
Anonymous El Juero said...

Thanks for the great post as well as the responses.

A quick thought on hikikomori. Going back about five years ago in the NY Times there was a very interesting article I remembered.


I think readers here might find it quite interesting.

While I was employed at the time but could certainly relate to the tone of some of the article. I agree with you MB – spending less time in dumb ass jobs and more time reading or thinking is a far better way to spend your life. Now a lot of the jobs don't really pay enough to bother with anyway. The discussions or "social life" offered in the workplace in the States at least, is pretty empty.

In increasingly industiralized NE Asia endless hours with your job leads to very tired out people who are disconnected from their friends & family. Suicide rates are very high in Japan & Korea.

As you say, hikikomori, or "Fuck it, I can't do it anymore" seem like remarkably sane responses.

El Juero

7:34 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

This article suggest that the electoral process itself, rather than one particular candidate could help our cause and greatly accelerate the decline. What does everyone think of the possibility of a repeat of the 2000 election farce, but with an even greater undemocratic result?


8:52 PM  
Anonymous Julian said...

Regarding skills useful while America collapses, this is a good article by Dmitry Orlov, a guy who should know a thing or two about collapse, since he’s from the former Soviet Union. His central idea is that the USSR was better prepared for collapse than the US.


Living in Romania, I too found that people are highly self-sufficient and able to repair/rebuild almost any piece of machinery. However, these skills are disappearing from among the younger people who were born after the collapse of communism (1989).

I lived and was educated through high school under communism, and as a result I was far, far better prepared for life and higher education than my American counterparts. For example, although I was merely a mediocre high school student in Romania, upon my arrival to the US and enrolment in the computer science program of a NYC university, I found that throughout my college years I didn’t need to even crack open my math, physics, or chemistry books simply because I already knew the material from high school in Romania. And, like I said, I wasn’t exactly a stellar student in high school. We were doing triple integrals and differential equations in 8th and 9th grade in Romania. I also learned how to rebuild engines, how to weld, and how to fix things such as refrigerators, television and radio sets.

Communism may have had its problems, but education and skill training was not one of its weaknesses. It is tragic that now, after 22 years of this IMF/EU-driven “cowboy capitalist democracy” we are becoming more and more like Americans (especially the younger generation).

9:44 PM  
Anonymous Ieyasu Man said...

Dear Morris,

In Japan there is also a phenomenon known as "Tetsu-ko" - girls who are obsessed with trains, and who spend all of their free time watching and photographing them.

The "Sorami" are similar, except that they are more interested in airplanes.

Maybe this is the female response to large numbers of men retreating into their homes to become hikikomori?

Or perhaps it's a natural development in a society where the worship of Technology and the Next New Thing is a means of filling the gaping spiritual hole where independent thought and inner reflection should be.

10:15 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Anon from Australia-

Appreciated yr comment, but I'm not posting anything from Anons. Suggest you pick a handle (e.g., Wallaby) and resubmit.


2:57 AM  
Anonymous David M said...

Dr.B &DAAers

Caught Richard Wolff's latest talk on link TV. Won't go into detail but a few points. He argues that the failures of capitalism and socialism are related to their top down structures. He said if all the workers owned the enterprise and shared in the decision making process many of the problems such as eviromental(people would not pollute their own water land and air)job security(not shipping their own jobs over seas) and reduced salaries and controls by managers(not pay them 300 times what the average employee makes (He must have faith in the American people). Finally at the end a question was ask, is there anything good about capitalism. He replied with a story about an econmomic's student going home for the holidays and having thankgiving dinner with the family. His mother ask him to do the dishes and he replied, being a good econ student, that will be four dollars. His father was aghast and chastised him and told him that he should love his mother and his family and as a family they do things for each other out of love and respect. Then he related this to two Americans meeting(Your going to love this Dr. B)and each can only think of ways to exploit or get somthing out of the other.

Infanttyrone: Thanks for the correction on Said. (I sometimes suffer from aixelsyd.) His books have helped me understand so many of the Middle East's issues. He was a palestinian born in Jerusalem. His family had open a branch of the Palestine Education Company (founded by his grandfather) the Standard Stationary Company in Cairo. He and his family were n Cairo in 1948 when at the stroke of a pen they became stateless. Some of his other works include A Question of Palestine, Zionism from the Standpoint of Its Victims, Culture and Imperialism, and Molestation and Authority in Narrative Fiction.
O&D Folks

10:27 AM  
Anonymous Ned Kelly said...

This is my first comment here, and I'm NOT the above "Anon" Australian. My handle Ned Kelly is after the 19th century bushranger, Australia's version of Robin Hood.

I was born and raised in America. After years of living abroad I finally settled in Australia and am now a subject of Queen Elizabeth. There's a lot to be said for having a head of state who lives on the other side of the world.

A few thoughts perhaps germane to this discussion, but first I'll out myself as a self-described "reactionary", a Burkean (Edmund), and a Catholic, which is why I do not regard American so-called "conservatives" as anything other than populist nationalist lunatics.
In this light, my agreement with most of what the apparently sort-of-left-wing Mr Berman writes, indicates a lot about how meaningless most American political self-identifications have become.

A few thoughts on some matters I've not seen discussed much by Mr Berman or his commenters:

I entirely agree with Mr Berman's analyses of the bankruptcy of the American creed of progress and contingent doctrines such as Horatio Alger porn. However I get the impression that a big part of Mr Berman retains some residual faith in the "Enlightenment" and/or in the post and anti-Christian forms of "Reason", of which eg the moronic Ayn Rand was a practitoner ;-)

I think America's anti-Christianity is in fact part and parcel of its problem. As a Catholic who believes in historical Apostolic authority which most American Evangelicals abhor - I mean Sarah Palin's cult regards Catholics as non-Christians - I can state this belief unhypocritically. ;-)

Abbreviatedly and in sum, I think America's PECULIAR problem among the nations of former Christendom (aka "The West"), is that it was settled and the USA was created at the beginning and middle of the Modern Age. Consequently America lacks the cultural resources of older nations (those of Europe, and paradoxically newer colonial nations such as Australia who have not entirely eschewed their mother countries' pre-modern inheritances) for alternatives to the beliefs of Modernism and late-medievalism.

America's belief system is mainly a blend of the Enlightenment AND late (decadent) medievalism. At the Scopes Trial, the latter was personified by Clarence Darrow (a 19th century mind, really!) and the former by Bryan, whose mind was stuck not in the middle ages but rather around the 1600s.

Mr Berman is right that the way through is out. But the way out includes many more blind spots for those whose minds are stuck in 1517-1989, yet who ironically are what CS Lewis called "Chronological Snobs" believing - as Americans believe more than any others - that we are 2,400 years smarter than Aristotle.

12:23 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Having lived and taught in Japan for nearly 10 years, I can tell you that nothing about the young people there surprises me or to paraphrase a John Denver song:"Thank God I'm not a Japanese". To be Japanese is to live under constant psychic oppression. There is some freedom as a child (see Ruth Benedict's The Sword and the Chysanthemum) but once school starts you are nothing more than a small cog in a big machine. Students have to wear 19th century black Prussian uniforms no matter how hot it is, hair has to be a certain length and can never be dyed even though some students have less than fully black hair, and female students panties are sometimes checked to see if they are white (a job I wanted but never got). Also, teachers have the right to enter a student's home in the evening to see if the student is studying (woe to those parents who refuse the teacher entry). I could go on but suffice it to say I am not surprised students once they graduate have little or no interest in becoming part of the Japanese workforce which is as oppressive as student life (woe to any employee who can't sing karaoke well or refuses to play golf with his boss on the weekends regardless how much he or she is needed at home). Japan is truly a very sad and lonely place. The large cities are certainly frenetic but ultimately Japan is all about gadgets.

12:48 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I doubt there are a dozen Americans alive today who are smarter than Aristotle.


Sorry u didn't get the pantie-checking job. Was there a salary attached to that?


2:47 PM  
Anonymous Ned Kelly said...

MB wrote in reply to me:

"I doubt there are a dozen Americans alive today who are smarter than Aristotle."

Probably so. But as for AUSTRALIA:


3:09 PM  
Anonymous Rowdy said...

Thinking of Ned Kelly's post, here's a thought-exercise perhaps worth cogitating: what if the British had won the Revolutionary War?

What would the 13 colonies be like now? Like a moderately warmer Canada? Would the huckstering be more gentlemanly?

7:03 PM  
Blogger Stone said...

Dear MB,

As I said, I am reading DAA again, but very slowly.

Herewith, and very respectfully, my first comment. It's a small correction, although it has its importance. On p. 161, you write that "three thousand American civilians" were killed on 9/11.

In fact, 372 foreign nationals (excluding the hijackers) perished in the attacks, from at least some 50 countries; and 55 military personnel died at the Pentagon.

Source: Wikipedia, entry "Casualties of the September 11 Attacks."


7:19 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Oops! Guess I shoulda said 'civilians', but it didn't occur to me at the time. Abt 3000 people is the figure commonly accepted these days, and one doesn't read much abt differentiation. My bad.


8:38 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

I offered my services free of charge.

9:20 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

That's the spirit!

10:09 PM  
Anonymous Stone said...

The figure now is at 2974 dead. However, we'll never have an exact count, for at least 1000 people were simply vaporized into oblivion: no traces of them have been found. Also, numerous undocumented workers disappeared at WTC. Bone fragments were still being found in 2006, on the roof of a building no less.

When Obama states, as he did a few weeks ago, that 3000 Americans died on 9/11, that is very different from saying that 2602 Americans and 372 foreigners (not including the hijackers) died in the attacks. When it comes to 9/11 murder victims, foreigners are eagerly naturalized without a single Republican objection to such a sleight of hand. Another respect in which the two wings of the Party of Money see eye to eye.

It also goes to show how much these people really know about what happened on that day.

10:25 PM  
Anonymous Ken Smith said...

There are two comments above about an article in The New Yorker. And, Michel DG writes that at 55 he is too old to immigrate to New Zealand, so he is considering south of the border, which I assume means Mexico.

This is excuse enough for me to recommend another article in The New Yorker: "The Kingpins: The Fight for Guadalajara" by William Finnegan, a superb writer and reporter. The article is online and it is a long and detailed article about crime, drugs, politics and corruption in Guadalajara, Mexico's second largest city.

The article describes "pantallas", which by translates as "screens", but it can mean much more than that. When Mexicans discuss the news, they talk often about pantallas -- screens, illusions, behind which are more screens, all created to obscure the facts. Life in Mexico is a theater and things are not always what they seem.

I have lived in Mexico for five years -- in the Lake Chapala area, south of Guadalajara. Some of the violence described in The New Yorker article was in my neighborhood. I was an "earwitness" to one of the shoot-outs -- which is much safer than being an eyewitness. I had met two of the young people who were kidnapped, murdered and mutilated.

Despite the violence, I feel safe here. Odd, but true. With that said, I will no longer drive the 600 miles north to the border. The atmosphere in my quiet village has changed. I'm thinking about moving to another part of Mexico -- or maybe another country.

Here's The New Yorker article:


12:13 AM  
Blogger Sue said...

anonymous from Australia again

My favorite Oz rebel was Jandamarra who was sort of a small scale Oz version of Crazy Horse. He was an "aboriginal" that actively resisted the white man's invasion.

There was also an Oz bush ranger with the name Captain Starlight.

Hi Morris, I dont know how it squares with your interpretation of Southern culture in the USA but I found the essay by Sara Robinson at Alternet to be quite convincing. It is titled Conservative Southern values Revived - How a Brutal Strain of American Aristocracy Have Come To Rule America.

Meanwhile Australia is a very good place to live. We are still relatively civilized, do not have many right-wing religious zealots, although our next would be Prime Minister is a right-wing catholic who mentor Pell hobnobs with right-wing USA catholics. Nor do we anything at all like the NRA gun "culture" and its gun-toting crazies (looking for scapegoats)

Ned Kelly describes USA conservatives as populist nationalist lunatics - quite so. He then seems to suggest that the catholic church based on "historical apostolic 'authority'" is the only alternative to that.

He must be joking!

So called conservative catholics are key/integral players in the toxic right wing GOP noise machine. They almost universally loathe Obama and the Democrats. Their benighted toxic politics are on full display via The American Spectator magazine, its website, and the books published by it. So too via First Things and all of the various people and outfits that link into it.

Remember too that these people actively promote the entirely false idea that the catholic church via the papacy and its so called magisterium is the ONLY source of truth in the world.

Re the alleged "apostolic authority" I would suggest reading The Criminal History of the Papacy by Tony Bushby - parts of it are available on line.

Then I would suggest reading the book by David Yallop titled The Power and the Glory - The Dark Heart of John Paul II's Vatican. A book which should disavow anyone of the notion that either the vatican or any of the popes, including the wartime Pius, Paul the 6th, JPII and Ratzinger have any moral authority in the world.

Furthermore the catholic church is now totally controlled by opus dei and similar right-wing (fascist) "traditionalist" outfits.

In my opinion these outfits represent the dreadful mind-set and thus dramatize the inevitable blood-soaked politics that Morris discusses with consummate skill in Coming To Our Senses

12:51 AM  
Anonymous Hey, Nonny Moose! said...

Just a tangential note that Morris ought to beware of overuse of Spoonerist mockery (e.g., "Sick Rantorum"), lest, one day, he should find himself referred to in certain inimical media as... Boris Merman!

9:37 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dear Nonny-

I doubt I'll ever get on the American radar screen even slightly, but--I like it! Boris, first cousin to Ethel. I do plan to write Rom Mittney as soon as he is elected (cross fingers), to offer my services in helping him to compile the 5-vol. "Cornerstones of the Mittnaic Philosophy", and will address him as 'Rom'. That he might write back and call me Boris...well, that wd make my day.


10:12 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

I just learned a few minutes ago that blacks are demonized by the manipulation of crime statistics by the hierarchy of white supremacists to perpetuate their highest virtue that "money is the engine of this country and not morality" (Thomas Jefferson).

Sickening. Don't think I can take it much longer.

11:36 AM  
Anonymous Hey, Nonny Moose! said...

"to offer my services in helping him to compile the 5-vol. 'Cornerstones of the Mittnaic Philosophy'".

Here's a suggested title: "The Mittnaic Pile" (with apologies to Volta).

11:38 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Sorry, I don't follow u...what?


Well, Volta was quite a uomo, certo. But so is Rom. We must treat him with the respect he deserves. Alt. title, then: "Mittnism: Philosophy of the Future."


12:48 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

I just reread Twilight of American Culture (my signed copy, thanks MB) and remembered what an impact it had on me when I first read it over a decade ago. Having the NMI option as a concept/possibility in my mind helped me cope with those periods in my life when I was stuck inside the normal american nightmare. I knew they were temporary and would end or alter, as I learned better how to disconnect and live in exile of some sort. I had a new goal in a sense, and it certainly affected my choices over time.

On this reread, I was struck by the fact that most of the NMI examples in the book were still of people who had a social context for what they were doing, and found some sort of positive social feedback for their choices. Their values were monastic, but their lives were hardly solitary or disconnected. I'm sure when I read the book the first time, I had no idea how lonely the NMI life could turn out to be. I always assumed I would find others and together we would keep each other sane.

Not being someone with the skills or the courage to do anything as interesting as the examples from the book, perhaps I must accept that my very low key NMI inspired life will bring no affirming social feedback, and will indeed be a life with a lot of sadness and loneliness. The vast majority of stress/suffering in my life is caused by my crazy friends and family, and yet my hermit-like interludes eventually leave me feeling very blue and demoralized. I've created a very comfy little prison for myself, cocooned here with access to the best our failing civ offers, but sometimes it really does feel like a prison and my 'pen-pals' so far away and unreal. Even doing meaningful things I love starts to feel pointless without some sort of social aspect after a while. I suppose that is as normal as it gets, but it hurts all the same. Being a social obligate mammal is just not something I can overcome, even though I certainly do wish I could at times.

My goal now often seems as simple as trying to keep my coping strategies from making me even more crazy than I already am, and to not let my loneliness suck me into the insanity of those around me. I've gotten good at laughing at everything and being grateful, and thank goodness for some moderate drugs and alcohol use! Anybody else feel this way sometimes? Any stories from those whose best options for exile still mean living in the belly of the beast?

2:16 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

At the risk of over-posting--

Thanks again for the links to articles and titles, I so enjoy following them every time I come here and read the comments!

A few reading ideas of my own:

A General Theory of Love is an excellent book on our nature as social obligates and how we learn intimacy (scary too). Lots to think about and a lovely read.

I second the recommendation of A Great Aridness, a fascinating read on global warming as it unfolds much closer to home than the arctic.

Empire of the Beetle, about the apocalyptic beetle infestations affecting North America, also a fascinating read.

The Landgrabbers, about the last and final enclosures of communal land around the earth, terrifying.

We, the Drowned, a wonderful and long novel about a seafaring town in Denmark over many generations.

Here's a link to a hilarious/scathing/controversial essay on Japan by AA Gill of the Sunday Times. It was sent to me by friends living there and certainly explained things I'd seen myself on visiting Japan in a new way. I suppose its comforting to know that us Muricans aren't the only f-d up people on the planet. Here's a teaser:

"If you take the conventional gamut of human possibility as running, say, from Canadians to Brazilians, after 10 minutes in the land of the rising sun, you realise the
Japs are off the map, out of the game, on another planet. It's not that they're aliens, but they are the people that aliens might be if they'd learnt Human by correspondence course and wanted to slip in unnoticed."


2:18 PM  
Anonymous shep said...

Sorry for the skimpy post. Numb I guess.

Billmoyers.com's program today had "Khalil Muhammad on Facing Our Racial Past -June 29, 2012"

My statement was a summary. I guess you would have to watch the whole hour program to get all the implications and facts.

In short, blacks are demonized through statistical means to prove the black race (to the exclusion of all others) is a criminal class that needs jailing so that the myth of white supremacy can be perpetuated forever by the sadistic rulers in this country.

2:39 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Ideally, NMI's wd connect w/other NMI's and form some sort of community. This was not my own experience in the US and it's one of the reasons I left, perhaps the major one: I simply had no one to talk to. So I do understand what u.r. going thru. However, I do like to believe that my isolated experience was not typical, and that those of us who don't buy into the dominant culture can find compatriots, of sorts. Perhaps that is an illusion, I don't know.


2:56 PM  
Anonymous Mr. X said...

RE: What to call Romney when he is elected… you know his legal name is Willard, right?

Could the 5 points be "The Willard to Power"?

3:07 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Mr. X:

Well, 'walking haircut' and 'total douche bag' come to mind, of course; but 'President Mittney', or simply 'Rom', might be a tad more courteous.

As for the Principles of Mittnism, I certainly hope he hires me to flesh them out, but so far it's kind of meagre:

1. The rich shd get richer, and the poor shd get poorer
2. Our #1 priority is military expansion
3. Well, actually that's #2; #1 is having an impressive haircut
4.? (help me out here, folks)


3:50 PM  
Anonymous Vince said...


I am with you brother. Pulling yourself out of the mainstream culture can be painful at first. But seeking validation externally is quite exhausting. Someone once said to me that people seeking confirmation usually ended being subjecting themselves to conformation.


Here is a working title for Mitt.
"The Mittanic Verses: An Anthology". Now let's add to your list of things on his agenda.

Executive Order #1:
The Bill of Rights will now be referred to as The Bill of Goods.

Executive Order #2:
The new national anthem will now be "Everybody wants to Rule the World" by Tears for Fears.


On another note. Rom's speech writers have been working on his in inaugural address.


Lastly, Rom's transition teams prepares to take office.



7:16 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I've been working on his inaugural as well. Here's a rough draft:

My fellow Americans. Your last president had the foresight of a dog turd. True, he did a lot of damage to the country, but it was unthinking, sort of in passing. All that's over; I intend to get in there and fuck things up but good. Within the next month the following Executive Orders will be carried out:

1. All poor people will be rounded up and shipped to Madagascar; approximately 1/3 of the population.
2. All remaining Americans will be issued cell phones and a bottle of Prozac, and required to text and swallow at least once an hour, preferably more.
3. Toronto and Paris will be vigorously nuked (long overdue).
4. All schools, from kindergarten to Ph.D. level, public or private, are hereby closed until further notice.
5. Any American who doesn't own a car manufactured within the last five yrs will be hunted down and shot with an AK-47.
6. Ditto, any American caught reading a book not written by yours truly; or by my ghostwriters (an extremely talented group, as you can see).
7. Daily TV watching has been 4 hrs per day per person on average. This is far too little. All Americans will now increase this to 8 hrs/day.
8. Pizza is the only acceptable food for an American to eat.
9. Any person within the 50 States caught speaking a language other than English will be clubbed senseless with a baseball bat, by me personally.
10. I'm just getting warmed up.


8:11 PM  
Anonymous Vince said...


Sarah Palin might have some words with you about the AK-47. Don't you know that is a steak sauce from Alaska. She puts that shit on EVERYTHING (even on Meese).

Clubbing: Nothing like courting to the young voters.

The pizza will be courtesy of the Soylent Corporation. Remember, corporations are people. And you know their motto.

"Soylent Green is People".


8:40 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


The image of Ed Meese coated with steak sauce does warm my heart.

Meanwhile, I can only say that I'm honored that Rom wd select me to be his speechwriter, from all the millions of writers that currently inhabit the US. In a sea of uncertainty, the man is a Rock.


9:02 PM  
Anonymous Vince said...


I am looking forward to your final draft of his inaugural. Perhaps you could work on his first state of the union address aptly titled "Craniums Coming Home to Embed".

Toronto and Paris will actually be part of his climate change initiative. His response to global warming will be nuclear winter.


9:10 PM  
Anonymous abc said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

Tim--You've mention several times that you read Thomas Merton. I don't know if you've read Robert Inchausti's Thomas Merton's American Prophecy yet but I'd like to recommend it to you if you haven't.

10:05 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

MB, sorta stunning that in your expanded circles (compared to me) you too had a problem finding folks to talk to, jeez...

Thanks, Vince. Validation seems utopian, I'd settle for a beer-n-bitch buddy:)

Also, mormons don't speak in tongues anymore, it got left behind along with all the other cool/weird stuff in early mormonism.

They do have their own language tho', the kind that envelops everything in dullness so intense that it acts as sort of an embalming agent on those that have to use it, read it or hear it (explains a lot about Mitt, doesn't it? His corporate vampirism and early bullying are actually among his more lifelike behaviors, compared to the zombification produced by a life of mormonism.)

Try reading The Ensign (official mormon publication), especially the issues full of the talks given by The Lord's (pronounced Lard in Utah, no joke) prophet and apostles during the every-six-month mass stupor known as General Conference, where God reveals his will. You have no idea just how BORING God really is until you've encountered the mormon version, multiple celestial wives and planets notwithstanding.

MB, in light of this, your rough draft needs to restate all these worthy (and Kolob-inspired!) goals in mormonese as bland and dull as Mitt is himself. Your version has way too much verve! One of Mitt's atrophied sweat glands might temporarily revive were he to use anything like such language and dampen a lock of his pretty hair. Nobody wants that, the horror... Plus, even though I know we all can't wait to get fucked good and hard by his corporate owners, we'd like to be mostly dozing while he drones on about it, right? Prozac and diabetic coma can only do so much, so have pity and tone it down already, pleez:)

10:08 PM  
OpenID alphistia said...

To Eric, Shep and others interested:
I understand the feelings of isolation in this society and if you looked at my alphistia pages you can see how I try to cope. As Prof Berman said, I seem to have been an NMI for a very long time.

Anyway I invite you and others interested in friendship and community (even just cyber) to contact me at alphistia@yahoo.com. There are many of us out here in this big country and we should be in touch with one another. We shouldn't be isolated and alone.

10:58 PM  
Anonymous sanctuary! said...

Young people ask "Why?" about driving:


Uh-oh. Flickers of sanity. These kids are unAmerican!

10:28 AM  
OpenID brutus said...

Eric says: I was struck by the fact that most of the NMI examples in the book were still of people who had a social context for what they were doing, and found some sort of positive social feedback for their choices. Their values were monastic, but their lives were hardly solitary or disconnected. I'm sure when I read the book the first time, I had no idea how lonely the NMI life could turn out to be. I always assumed I would find others and together we would keep each other sane ... The vast majority of stress/suffering in my life is caused by my crazy friends and family, and yet my hermit-like interludes eventually leave me feeling very blue and demoralized ... My goal now often seems as simple as trying to keep my coping strategies from making me even more crazy than I already am, and to not let my loneliness suck me into the insanity of those around me ... Anybody else feel this way sometimes? Any stories from those whose best options for exile still mean living in the belly of the beast?

This is as good a summary as any of the wasteland the American experience has become for many of us. However, the isolation and indeed grief extends much farther than witnessing an empire in decline, if one looks at an even wider picture. It’s industrial civilization in decline, and with it the biosphere, both culminating in the sixth great extinction. All that takes time to play out, of course, and we have lives to lead in the meantime.

Holing up with books and blogs is not sufficient for social animals, many of us find. So get out and be social (ignore social media!) even if it’s not intellectual. Dance groups and community bands/choirs offer terrific opportunities to be amongst people engaged in focal practices. Such folks may not slake your thirst for meaningful interaction beyond dance or music, but they do tend to form communal attachments easily and often feel like the only sane things remaining to do at the end of empire.

12:11 PM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...


Since Rom and his oligarchic big donors seem intent on taking us forward into a new Gilded Age, I recommend that you work some sort of Marcel Proust angle into his inaugural speech(es).
After all, one translation of Proust's title is In Search of Lost Time.

Proust also figures into the CRE meme, as the more literal translation of À la recherche du temps perdu is "Remembrance of Things Passed". (Yeah, a bit of artistic license there...pooh pooh it if you must.)

Thirdly, and granted - we're going off into semantic near-conspiracy territory here - the Marcel Wave was invented in 1872, soon after the beginning of the Gilded Age.

And finally (this is apart from inaugural speech ideas) - I know you aren't usually interested in 9/11 speculations - but consider...
if Bill Clinton was able to tie up air traffic at LAX while getting coifed by Christophe of Beverly Hills, what level of monkey wrench might "the walking haircut" wield ?
Like, what if the U.S. Air Defense system wasn't throttled down that day by the hands of Dick Cheney ?
What if it was the Mittster sitting on a tarmac somewhere, asking (like some mobster in a casino) for "just a little off the top" ?

1:38 PM  
Anonymous JWO said...

Well said brutus (in response to Eric at 12:11pm). While most Americans would hate it, I am a confirmed loner (as defined in Anelli Rufus' book Party of One: A Loners' Manifesto http://www.annelirufus.com/partyofone/) which really helps me and my NMI-ness. But I think the point of an "NMI" is that they are all different. I go to the bar and read my books and if all I make is small talk, that's good enough social interaction for me. Luckily I have a great job (alas in the US) that brings me in close contact with plenty of great people. While they are not die-hard NMI's yet, they are good enough to be friends.

But you cannot expect everyone to be totally on your page, I have friends who could be an NMI except for their Apple fetish, and others who are ardent pro-Obama-ists and yell at me when I send them one of Mr. Fish's cartoons from truthdig (especially this one which I though was awesome http://www.truthdig.com/cartoon/item/less_is_more_20120628/).

Just remember all of us were once like them (to one extent or another). Think about what is was like the first time you read DAA or AQoV, it can be pretty hard to take, I was on the Obama train back then and frankly was disappointed in MB for his critique of the President ... until I discovered he was right.

2:57 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Sue from Australia:

I finally have time to get around to answering your message regarding the Sara Robinson article on the Southern 'aristocracy' running the US. In fact, a friend of mine in San Fran recently wrote me about it; here is what I wrote back:


My own feeling is that the author seems to have taken a grain of truth and blown it up into a heavily distorted analysis/description of the US, past and present. One thing that enables her to do this is to treat the North and South as stereotypes; exactly the problem I identified in ch. 4 of WAF. It's all B&W here; nuance is the farthest thing from her mind.

She's certainly not correct in saying that it's the South that now has a hold on American politics; but if she *were* rt, my answer would be that it's precisely because of this kind of stereotyping. As I explain in ch. 4, the South never got credit for anything; it simply got vilified, and the horror of slavery became the entire picture. Given the way the North treated the South, esp. after the Civil War--with humiliation, contempt, never allowing them a voice, and so on--of course the attempt to reassert power, and the value of the Southern way of life, was going to come in the back door (e.g. Jim Crow, failure of Reconstruction, etc.). Humiliation leads to resentment, after all. This distorted article continues the pattern.

There has, of course, been a lot of misunderstanding of my 4th chapter, as I expected there would be, because I'm aware that Americans *are* into stereotyped thinking and hardly into nuance. *Any* defense of the South and its way of life, even if you say (as I do, several times, in ch. 4), that slavery was an abomination and that the War had to be fought to eradicate it, leads to a blind rage, and the ridiculous accusation that I am pro-slavery. Americans are not exactly intellectuals, as Richard Hofstadter pointed out long ago; they feel rather than think, so what chance did I have to shed some light on a sore subject? After all, it requires taking in an awful paradox, that the graciousness of the Southern way of life was based on a brutal slave economy.

Anyway, here are some specific objections I have to her essay:

1. Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Al Gore are from the South, and their admins were characterized by all of the liberal tendencies Ms. Robinson calls "Yankee Puritan" (or at least by attempts to move in that direction). Reagan was not from the South, but his admin was characterized by the move toward a aristocratic plutocracy that would fall into Ms. Robinson's "Southern" category. Same is true for the folks running Goldman Sachs and the other Wall St. firms that are neofeudalizing the nation--I have the impression that these people are mostly not Southerners (any more than are Ben Bernanke, Robert Rubin, Timothy Geithner, Lawrence Summers, et al.). Her analysis of Southern power and control is notable for an absence of naming names: whom, exactly, does she have in mind, other than Bush Jr.? Who are these awful Southerners that hold all of this corporate and political power?

(continued below)

3:55 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Response to Sue from Australia, continued:

2. She's overblown the republican tendencies of the early colonists. As I show repeatedly in WAF, this was a cover for making money--the hustling life--and it became stronger over time (cf. Richard Bushman's classic work, "From Puritan to Yankee"). As Joyce Appleby shows, by 1800 the definition of 'virtue' had done a 180-degree reversal: it no longer meant noblesse oblige or putting the common weal first. Just the opposite: it meant being personally successful in an opportunistic environment. Ms. Robinson's analysis depends on an idealization that in the main cannot be defended.

3. The South did not have an "utter lack of civic interest"; rather, it was very community-oriented. It was opposed to the hustling, Northern way of life partly because that way of life eroded bonds of community and friendship. Her description of the South as selfish and hedonistic is partly correct, but it is hardly the entire picture, and it was also true of much of the North. As for the Puritan elites, the lion's share of them did not "wear their wealth modestly and dedicate themselves to the common good." Far from it, as the opening chapter of WAF shows. In a word, her argument rests on stereotyping North and South in such a way that the former comes off as All Good, and the latter as All Bad-- thus contributing to the understandable resentment of the South, as noted above.

4. Hence, when she says that regarding the Civil War, "the fundamental conflict at its root still hasn't been resolved to this day," there is an irony here, in that it is precisely this type of polarized analysis (basically a caricature) that contributes to the conflict and blinds us to any possibility of resolution--something that C. Vann Woodward pointed out in the 1950s. While Ms. Robinson is certainly rt in saying that the War was a battle for the soul of the country, she fails to understand that the North was not especially communalist or democratic, was a hustling/commercial society, and was moving us along the path of the corporate plutocracy we have arrived at today--the world of "depraved affluence," as Gene Genovese has aptly characterized it. In pt of fact, what the Tea Party unleashed was not the "id of the old Southern order," but the desire to return to a pure laissez-faire economy, sans New Deal or anything like it--the raw individualism of the 18th century and earlier. We are not living in "Plantation America," as she argues; we are living in "Hustler's America," Reagan's America, greed's America--the dominant ideology of the early colonists.

However, I'm aware that ch. 4, and this type of discussion, has no chance of penetrating the slogan-addled brains of most of my countrymen.

Thanks for the query, in any case-


3:58 PM  
Anonymous Julian said...

I am not a fan of Charlie Rose (a.k.a. "oligarchs' lapdog"), but this is a truly prophetic 1994 interview with Sir James Goldsmith about Globalization and what it will do to the world and the U.S. in particular. Looking back 18 years since that interview, it is truly eery to see how it all came about.


7:46 PM  
Blogger Alan2102 said...

MB: "Folks on my blog thought I was kidding re: my enthusiasm for a Palin presidency (for example); but the fact is that Obama's destruction of the US has been ad hoc and desultory. With a full-fledged nut like Palin or Bachmann in the White House, the whole process would be greatly accelerated."

Funny, I've been saying the same for years, (e.g. I seriously suggested voting for Bush over Kerry in '04), and of course everyone regards me as certifiably insane whenever I do. But I think there's something to it. On the other hand: just lately -- contrarian that I am -- I've been entertaining the opposite view, that maybe we really ARE better off with tepid clueless sell-out "liberals" like Obama. So far I've yet to convince myself; just entertaining the possibility. :-)

9:29 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Thing is, Obama is sad and stupid, really; just a marionette on strings. Mittney is actually hilarious, when u think abt it, and we are going to need a gd laugh in the coming years.


10:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wrote to Charlie Rose and told him to let Diane Ravitch speak about corporate school reform. Charlie Rose always lets Bill Gates speak on his shows about education, a subject that he knows nothing about. Of course, I got no response from Charlie Rose. He isn't very smart and is probably impressed by the glowing screens and technobabble. Maybe Gates has to OK his guests....Oh well.. At least Obama pointed out how bad the Polish Death Camps were when he was in Poland. I am glad that we got that cleared up...Those camps were the worst..ha ha
John in Chicagoland.

11:05 PM  
Blogger ijcd said...

Dear Prof. Berman and DAA'ers,

I have not been around for a while, thus have fallen behind. Busy with work and study (please don't ask, it's not a field I passionately love), and reading my own books here and there, trying to have a quiet live, slowly looking for an NMI-type of existence in this consumerist corporate fascist culture.

Prof. Berman, if your whole book WAF was a post-mortem of America (or American Empire), the following article could be seen as your entire work on America's decline condensed into a very lugubriously beautiful poem, or rather poetic prose (have you ever heard of nostalgia for the present? Well, most of us DAA’ers suffer from it, except perhaps Prof. Berman). It is titled “Not Dark Yet: But I Have Seen the Foot-Long Hot Dog of the Apocalypse”, by Phil Rockstroh. Here is the link:


Plus, you may have read the serious indictment of Mr. Obama by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter in the NYT titled “A Cruel and Unusual Record”:



By the way, this TPP and enhancements of the NDAA are making me rethink my planned NMI adaptation to life in the US… perhaps I should hurry up and leave.

El Cubano

O & D!

11:15 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

John, ij-

If I go to my grave w/o having had the opp'ty to pee on Obama's shoes (Guccis, I'm sure), my life will have been one big waste.

Urine or Bust!


12:16 AM  
Blogger ijcd said...

Prof. Berman, DAA'ers, Joseph S.,

Regarding the article, and comments, about the spoiled children in America: There is a crucial factor at play here, in addition to these kids being "spoiled children of the empire", as I like to call them, and it is a type of corporate marketing specifically designed to make parents succumb to nagging by their little polluting cabbages.

I remember watching a documentary (perhaps "The Corporation"?), which got me angry and disgusted, where some corporate marketing scumfuck psychologists very proudly explained their research and quite successful manipulation techniques to influence children and make parents succumb to nagging, to satisfy artificial needs implanted in the little kids' very susceptible minds... and all through education, TV, advertisements, music, etc.... so pervasive and perverted!

That is a major reason not to have kids in the US, or in any country where the ruling elites seem to be importing the "American Way".

El Cubano,

O & D!

1:54 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


There's also some discussion of corporate invasion of the infant psyche in ch. 1 of DAA.


9:54 AM  
Anonymous TonyU said...

Thanks to Julian for exposing me to Sir James Goldsmith’s thoughts. This is why I come here! Pertinent quotes from The Trap: "The economy is a tool to serve us. It is not a demi-god to be served by society." However: "We have convinced ourselves that there exists only one valid economic and social model: our own. By attempting to impose it universally, we have exported to almost every corner of the world our diseases: crime, drugs, alcoholism, family breakdown, civil disorder in urban slums, accelerated abuse of the environment and all the other problems that we experience daily."
Therefore, "we" export our economic/exploitation model: "The NAFTA agreement eliminates Mexico's right to national food self-sufficiency and imposes a doctrine according to which Mexico's agricultural system would be complementary to that of the United States. In the process, millions of families will be uprooted and destroyed"

I have always known/believed that my people lose more than they gain from associating and trading with western nations. As I said many times here, if I have it my way the devils will be forced to evacuate from my people, taking their culture, embassies, and trash with them and never to return. Look at how they are treating their own people in terms of access to healthcare, access to college education, and access to loans for homes and mortgages. War or peace, they say, begins at home and then spread to the external of the home.

12:57 PM  
Anonymous Hey, Nonny Moose! said...

brutus wrote:

"Holing up with books and blogs is not sufficient for social animals, many of us find. So get out and be social (ignore social media!) even if it’s not intellectual".

A word in defense of the much-maligned isolato, who really receives far too much unthinking abuse here. Have a look at Anthony Storr's Solitude: A Return to Self, to start.

As for humans' being innately social animals, that is a proposition that is impossible to prove (think about it for a moment and you'll readily see why). What we are, unquestionably, are socialized animals. Given that reading of the situation, stepping outside the human aquarium is not inherently negative, and unnuanced condemnations of it are unconvincing, to say the least.

2:53 PM  
Anonymous Mr X. said...

Still thinking about Willard's inaugural…how about…

"I will accelerate the transfer of wealth from the bottom 99% of the citizenry to the top 1%, by further freeing the financial industry to profit from high risk strategies that enrich them while impoverishing others, and using tax-payer money to rescue them when their strategies result in financial loss, which they inevitably will.

2:59 PM  
Anonymous shep said...

Dr Berman:

Who is Mitt in the local elections" Who is Obama?
Any MLK Jr's?

I see they stole it as usual. The exit polls never match any more. No shit

All democratic governments are fraudulent.

3:07 PM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...


Read the Sara Robinson article yesterday.
It sounded like something I had heard/read about over the years but never read the actual source.
So, I looked around and found part of the source online (link below). I've only gotten through the first few chapters, but what she wrote sounds an awful lot like *part* of what Carl Ogelsby was saying in The Yankee and Cowboy War.


I agree with you that Robinson's article is waaay short on naming names, whereas Ogelsby, in the parlance of his SDS days, "lets it all hang out".

She also seems to take Ogelsby's concrete characterization of the Yankee group as 'liberal' vis a vis specific internal conflicts with the more hawkish elements within Kennedy's administration and send that characterization back to the 18th Century with a wave of her wand and the magic words "they were ever thus".

Couple of disagreements with your reaction:
1) I would argue that Bill Clinton only looks liberal after 8 years of Bush & Co. He didn't seem liberal to most self-styled progressives back in the day. Sure, in comparison to the thuggery level of Bush/Rove/Delay/FoxNews/etc he seems almost cherubic, but at the time even many Dems didn't trust him much.
2) To ascribe to Tea Partiers a "desire to return to a pure laissez-faire economy, sans New Deal or anything like it--the raw individualism of the 18th century and earlier." seems to me way too charitable or else you aren't referring to the same Tea Party that brought us your former love interest, Barbara. Read Taibbi's posts from the front lines of Tea Party rallies and you get a picture of more like 99% Caucasian over-50's who compulsively defend their lack of racism (never a good sign) while complaining of executive over-reach and holding "Take Your Hands Off Of My medicare" signs, while they are propelled on power-scooters paid for by that same entity, which most of them do not realize is a government program. Are you in the Sierra Mazateca region and have you switched from good old cerveza fria to hot tea made from the leaves of Salvia Divinorum maybe ? Probably 10% of the original Tea Party mobs could give you even a very simplified description of what laissez-faire means.

4:19 PM  
Anonymous tam said...

Thanks, Doc B, for providing this platform for the continued discussion of your studies, research, & writings! And for so graciously welcoming feedback, input, & ideas from the whole gang here! :)

Your little corner of the world's tangled-web is such a respite! And I *like* that it is rather unadorned, and that regular readers/posters come here with *intent*, rather than just mindlessly clicking/receiving automatic-updates... I have never visited this site without learning something. The thoughts [and links] provided by you and all the contributors here, are reassuring reality-checks; my humble thanks to every one of you!

So I just read (via Alternet.org) the following article:

“Life Away From the Rat-Race: Why One Group of Workers Decided to Cut Their Own Hours and Pay”
--Public-sector workers in California's Amador County learned what the Europeans have long understood: having a life is intrinsically valuable.

The title sounded quaint, and I was all sorts of hopeful about the “awakening” of a group of workers. But as I read the article, it dawned on me that these people were even dopier than I had been willing to imagine. (Yes, I actually underestimated their dopiness; which is rather unusual for me. ;))

Here’s what the workers had to accept in order to keep their jobs/benefits: a 10% decrease in hours-worked, along with a 10% decrease in pay. They went from five 8-hr days/wk to four 9-hr days/wk. After 2 years of this arrangement, only 71% of them wanted it to continue this way. 29% wanted to go back to working 5 days/wk!!!

I ask you: what kind of moron wants to tie up a whole ‘nother day working, for just 10% more??? What were they DOING with that “extra” day off?!? Jeepers, I could’ve made up the 10% cut in pay, just by using a few hours in the extra-day-off to prepare “budget” meals for the week. (Don’t tell me some of these dolts aren’t watching cooking-shows on TV, never to pick up a spatula, only to smack down $15 daily on going out to lunch with their brainless co-workers!?) The ideas for making budgetary-cuts and/or a few bucks on an extra-day-off are endless, for those with a creative mind!...

In his last paragraph, the author’s words, ”...reminding us that there is more to life than money” only served to remind me: that I don’t have anything in common with people who need reminding that there is more to life than money.

Well, anyway... Happy Indepedence Day.

5:39 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I agree, Clinton was a Dem in name only. His 'liberal' credentials were worthless. But what I was referring to was that he started off that way: the push for socialized medicine, for example. Then the elections of '94 scared him, and he realized the American people were, in fact, quite rt-wing; so he followed suit.

I agree that the Tea Party is confused, self-contradictory, and basically a pile of shit; but in terms of public slogans, the ideology is adherence to the strict individualism of the original laissez-faire economy.


"There is no wealth but life"--John Ruskin.

Meanwhile, happy Rockets' Red Glare. Much of the world has experienced it, and its effects, sad to say.


8:05 PM  
Anonymous tam said...

Doc B, thanks for the much-needed direction to Ruskin's wisdom! Was inspired to look for more (good Prof that you are, and according to your plan, I'm sure, hahaha):

"There is no wealth but life. Life, including all its powers of love, of joy, and of admiration. That country is the richest which nourishes the greatest numbers of noble and happy human beings; that man is richest, who, having perfected the functions of his own life to the utmost, has also the widest helpful influence, both personal, and by means of his possessions, over the lives of others."

~ John Ruskin, Unto this Last, 1860
Essay IV, Ad Valorem, section 77

Eternally timely. ;)

10:51 PM  
Anonymous abc said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

Julian--thank you for the suggestion to watch Charlie Rose's interview with Goldsmith. He sounded articulate, what he said was very thought-provoking ("you will be taking money away from the poor in the rich countries and giving it to the rich in the poor countries"---which is pretty close to what's happened)and he called b.s. on some of the "numbers" creating such a rosy picture of globalization. In contrast that yappy Clinton admin woman, who would simply not shut up, sounded shallow, like she's rehearsed a script and hammered it away like the good little PR person she was. Why do we always look so stupid?

9:18 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


A lot of our stupidity--and obviously, not just ours--is the inevitable consequence of ideology raised to the level of theology. This has esp. gripped the US in recent years. Neoliberal economists found any suggestion that they might be on the wrong track absurd, and even in the wake of the crash of 2008 argued that it was the public, rather than the private, sector that was to blame (what Paul Krugman referred to as the strange persistence of a 'zombie' doctrine). The same is true of globalization, which, in the hands of folks like Thos Friedman, became a mantra that conveniently ignored the facts of poverty caused by the process.

I recall a talk I gave in Guadalajara a few yrs ago on 'globalization as religion'. The panel included Alvaro Vargas Llosa (Mario's son) in a three-piece suit, talking abt how globalization would 'liberate' Latin America (clearly, a man with a cause). Mario was sitting front-row center, abt 10 feet directly in front of me, staring at me with grim disapproval during my lecture. How do u get folks like this to see that they are the latest version of Eric Hoffer's "True Believer"? The fact is that the secular religions, no less than the traditional ones, carry the believer along on a wave precisely because they fill a hole in the soul, and thus become irresistible. Thanks, everybody, but we don't need any critique; we've got The Answer. As one wag once put it, It's not that the Enlightenment failed; rather, the problem is that it's never been tried!


9:44 AM  
Anonymous Hey, Nonny Moose! said...

I'm dating myself here, but the revelation of Mitt's legal first name, Willard, opens all sorts of parodic marketing possibilities.

For instance, does anyone else remember the original version of the horror film Willard, about a horde of trained killer rats?


"Where your nightmares end, Willard begins", indeed!

10:42 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I confess I really like the idea of having a frivolous douche bag in the White House. Ah, what our choices have come down to!


10:54 AM  
Anonymous Vince said...


If only to interrupt the media system for a few minutes. But then again, removing the wool entails removing the eyeballs, right?

"Can Americans Escape the Deception?"


Services for the Constitution will be held prior to the fireworks.


10:55 AM  
Anonymous Ned Kelly said...

mb wrote: "The fact is that the secular religions, no less than the traditional ones, carry the believer along on a wave precisely because they fill a hole in the soul..."

Catholic answer: The available evidence does not indicate that secular religions fill the soul's holes any more than drugs do. Substitutes for what the soul yearns for - such as drugs or political or economic ideologies - only increase the soul's appetites without satisfying them.

On the OTHER hand, there have been at least some (cf Black Swans) examples of souls satisfied by God.
Eg, St Therese of Liseaux, and the present Dalai Lama (never mind Buddhism's lack of a personal deity, the principle is the same), and legions of Sufi saints:


10:58 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

I bought WAF on iBooks a couple weeks ago and devoured it very quickly. I know a lot of people here are anti-tech but I really enjoy reading books like Mr. Berman's on an iDevice due to the backlighting.

With my Lasik surgery it's hard to find decent lighting to read stuff on paper. With a smartphone or tablet I can read written material anytime and anywhere without discomfort. I loved the book and plan to read your other works as well eventually.

I had a weird brain fart earlier this morning...

Would you like to know the real reason we're not already on Mars? That planet has no Martians to slaughter and subjugate. If we can't impose our way of life on someone, the necessary motivation to colonize just doesn't exist. I know... I must have some kind of neurological condition that causes stuff like that that to occur to me.

This is my first post to this blog. I've been lurking for about a week or so and really love it. This is one of the only web site I've ever come across where the comments are actually well-reasoned.


11:29 AM  
Anonymous sanctuary! said...

I recently watched a 1937 comedy on TCM. One could call it a "Rom-Com" only in the sense that the villain was a Rom Mittney type - he was "a stock-juggler who makes more money shutting down businesses than running them," in the words of one of the heroes.

The villain even LOOKED like Rom, with the same shoe polish in his hair as on his shoes.

At the end, a group of long-suffering workers tossed him out of their factory yard over a 20-foot wall, to the sound of canned hurrahs.

Such a movie probably couldn't be made nowadays. It would be considered "socialist" or "loony-toon lefty" or whatever. This fact is a striking (to me) indicator that the alternative tradition, besides being doomed to fail in the USA, also has been *obliterated* from the mass mind and mass memory. 75 years ago, one *could* make a popular Humphrey Bogart movie that villainized a stock-juggler with references in the dialogue to capital vs. labor. These days, only Michael Moore or the equivalent can do something like it but in movies universally regarded as "cult" or "biased."

4:05 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Not Mars, no, but we shall probably colonize the moon, and put condos and strip malls on it.


4:53 PM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

Paul Craig Roberts is interesting.
Old Right meets (New) New Left ?
I sent him a sort of thank-you for the most recent post.
The 9/11 Commission report may be the current generation's Warren Commission report.
Neither would ever get the green light from Hollywood.

10:18 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Check out titles by Lisa Bloom. She actually uses the phrases "dumbed-down world" and "thug culture". My kinda gal.


9:58 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

More from Lisa Bloom:


I may hafta marry this girl. Barbara Ann Nowak, move over!

10:01 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

More data on American CRE (Cranial-Rectal Embedment):


10:06 AM  
Anonymous abc said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

Sanctuary--if you'd like to see a really funny spoof of America, Los Angeles, and the American funeral industry, check out The Loved One starring Robert Morse. It's based on an Evelyn Waugh novel and was made in 1965. I got it from Netflix and will be checking used book stores to pick up an old copy.

Dr. Berman, I'm becoming seriously concerned about your inability to commit. If we are required to pick a handle then I think it's only fair you be required to pick a girl. You've been stringing Barbara Ann along for years now only to ditch her for some intellectual.

10:25 AM  
Anonymous Elas Rofton said...

Thank You For Participating in Security
is what the airport signs say when you get to the Abasement Station

11:37 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...


Thank you for the recommendation of the Merton book -- getting a copy as soon as possible!


I'm lucky in that my wife shares me feleings about avoiding the contamination of contemporary culture & cultivating our own little civilized garden as much as possible. But I agree that it's a lonely way of life, even within someone beside you. The sheer inane, empty weight of our "culture" can be so oppressive, a miasma that penetrates everything. Perhaps that's why Merton's hermitage seems so appealing to me ... but it seems to have gotten lonely for him, too.

All the local tri-state news shows yesterday featured the Nathan's hot dog eating contest as a fun & exciting event. Apparently there's a concerted effort to have competitive eating declared an Olympic sport. Competitive Eating - if that doesn't sum up this culture, then what does?

11:50 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Well, u have a pt, although the truly l-t rel. was w/Sarah P.; Barbara Ann was a rather fleeting 'affair'. Now I'm thinking of proposing to Lisa Bloom; we'll fly up to Alaska, and have sex on an ice floe, among the meese (and with Ed Meese present).

Lisa, I love u!


12:03 PM  
Anonymous Smith said...

Speaking of a country in which the Enlightenment never got tried, Berman, I thought you might find this document interesting:


This is the Texas GOP's party platform for 2012. Note the statement about this being God's chosen country.

And you know what the worst part is? These people insisting on imposing on the rest of the country, and the world, but every time I read a GOP/conservative source, they claim that LIBERALS are oppressing THEIR freedoms!!! That's the popular narrative among Republicans, that liberals and "snobby intellectuals" hate and despise them and wish to enslave them. Their own hatred of the entire planet outside the U.S., and hatred of everyone "left", is perfectly acceptable, though.

12:55 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

There really is no hope, is there?

1:39 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

“We continue to think of ourselves as a kind of great, peaceful Switzerland, whereas we are in fact a great, expanding world power. Our imperialism is more or less unconscious.”--Walter Lippmann

2:02 PM  
Anonymous JPF said...

>>party platform for 2012

I laughed, I cried, I threw up a tiny bit in my mouth.

Scary stuff, but nothing new -- just the same old BS. Hard to believe that some people actually think this way, and think it's a good thing.

2:47 PM  
Anonymous Politically Incorrect said...

After recently reading 'Off-Grid', a book about literally 'getting away from it all' by author Nick Rosen, I thought it might serve as a possible NMI destination/solution. I've also wondered, some people claim to find peace in living out of RV's in the desert or stealth camping in their car as a definition of 'freedom'. It seems this is just a demented form of desperation and/or depressing rationalization of not knowing what else to do and literally giving up on oneself and the system in general. I say this because there may be some of us who may have thought about these alternatives too... getting out, moving to some desolate place (or joining a commune) in or outside the US like yourself. But, I can't shake the idea that you just can't live in peace anywhere anymore (if this was ever true) - not without having to have a space that you have to pay for, deal with assholes that want to impose every kind of restriction, monetary extortion, policing, and consequences of not buying into a (phony) capitalist (hierarchical) system - which has permeated everything, everywhere. Pretty much no matter where you go this is going to be an issue. Foreign and even trad. cultures may have their own way of coping but it's still 'their' way and it's not utopia. I find US culture a vast wasteland even when I do connect with those that share these views...(rare)... basically, community ain't easy and I don't think it ever has been... Your book, "Coming to Our Senses" points this out as fear of the 'other'. I'm wondering if it isn't more fear of our own potential for evil and how we deal with that or not.

3:33 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Check out a 2003 film called "Off the Map"; a real gem.


5:39 PM  
Anonymous JPF said...

Try William Powers' "Twelve by Twelve: A One-Room Cabin Off the Grid and Beyond the American Dream" instead. I found it quite moving and more NMI than desperation.

5:52 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Smith & Dark Agers,

I took a peek at the party platform of Texas Republicans – I’m not going to read all 30 pages – but I happened on the following:

“Declaration of War – We believe that a lawful “Declaration of War” is necessary for the United States to enter into war with another nation and urge Congress to reclaim its Constitutional responsibility. Any breech of this power by the Executive Branch is an impeachable offence.”

Not a bad idea, but were they talking like this when George W. was president?

David Rosen

7:11 PM  
Anonymous Politically Incorrect said...

The book "Off The Grid" was fine. It was just after checking out similar concepts like "living in a van down by the river" as a choice - I just wondered about the reality of literally bugging out to the boondocks or 'stealth living' without losing one's marbles (what's left of them) and keeping the ones that 'already have' at bay... maybe some are better at it and/or handle it better than others I suppose. Certainly, having some arable land with a well and neighbors that didn't draw attention to themselves would help implement a more stationary version.

I'll definitely check out "Off the Map" it looks interesting.

9:28 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

"Nonthinking is what made America great"--Alec Baldwin in the TV comedy series, "30 Rock"

6:11 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...


Quite a few 1930s films have that anti-plutocrat theme, even romantic comedies & musicals. Check out the big production number at the end of Gold Diggers of 1933 with its tribute to the Forgotten Man; or the classic My Man Godfrey for that matter; or Finishing School, about an innocent young girl from a nouveau riche family who's sent to the finishing school of the title & is nearly devoured alive by the greed, hypocrisy, and worship of wealth & status -- and the faculty is far worse than the girls themselves. Hell, her desperately image-conscious mother is one of the worst offenders! It's Mean Girls some 70 years before the phrase came into existence.

Politically Incorrect,

I sometimes think the only place we can truly get away from the crassholes who rule our culture is inside our own heads. That's our ultimate monastery, I suppose. In that regard, you might consider the animated film The Book of Kells, which is essentially about the preservation not just of knowledge, art & beauty, but of civilized behavior itself.

The thing is, we're like fish swimming in a polluted sea. Wherever we go, the contamination is there. The best we can do is filter out as much of it as we can (which requires a certain amount of energy & effort), and perhaps find out-of-the-way places where the currents are relatively clear & clean. Again, much of this is a matter of what we allow into our lives, and what we keep out. Which is easier said than done, I know. It strikes me as an ongoing spiritual life & discipline in the end, even if you're an agnostic or atheist. As William Blake said so presciently, "I must create my own system or be enslav'd by another man's." Each of us has to make Marcuse's Great Refusal, each in our own way, I suppose.

10:23 AM  
Anonymous teri schooley said...

Dr. Berman,

For your Principles of Mittnism; we can borrow from Matt Taibbi. He has them outlined in his book, "Griftopia". I'll quote a bit before he gets to the Principles, just because it's fun stuff, and end with the numbered principles. This is from pages 39-41 of the hardcover edition, from the chapter called 'The Biggest Asshole in the Universe'. (You didn't need to know that, but I love the title of the chapter, which is about Alan Greenspan.)

Taibbi: "The book [Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged] fairly gushes with the resentment these poor 'Atlases' (they are shouldering the burdens of the whole world!) feel toward those who try to use 'moral guilt' to make them share their wealth. In the climatic scene the Randian hero John Galt sounds off in defense of self-interest and attacks the notion of self-sacrifice as a worthy human ideal in a speech that last seventy-five pages.

"It goes without saying that only a person possessing a mathematically inexpressible level of humorless self-importance would subject anyone to a seventy-five-page speech about anything. Hell, even Jesus Christ barely cracked two pages with the Sermon on the Mount. Rand/Galt manages it, however, and this speech lays the foundation of objectivism, a term that was probably chosen because 'greedism' isn't catchy enough. [...]

"To sum it all up, the Rand belief system looks like this:
1. Facts are facts: things can be absolutely right or absolutely wrong, as determined by reason.
2. According to my reasoning, I am absolutely right.
3. Charity is immoral.
4. Pay for your own fucking schools."

And there you go - the Principles of Mittnism.

In other news, Hillary we-came-we-saw-he-died Clinton just threatened Russia and China with "punishment" because they won't go along with the regime change plans for Syria. Poking at the Bear and the Dragon. Hope they ignore our resident madwoman, is all I can say.



11:30 AM  
Anonymous TonyU said...

James Goldsmith was a smart prophet sent to the world to warn the world. He warned and warned and warned. Those in power to make a difference did not listen. On the contrary, the powerful laughed at him. President Clinton sent out his clowns to laugh at the man when the man made $billions working in private markets while Clinton never spent a day earning a living from private markets.

Here are few thoughts the man expressed in 1994 (compare to the present economic situation in USA):
1) Our financial system is extremely dangerous, fragile; and trading on derivatives poses the greatest risk and danger to the economy
2) You cannot enrich a country by impoverishing its citizens.
3) The health of an economy cannot be measured by the profitability of the corporations. Profits are important but even more important is the health of the population in terms of participation in the economy
4) The purpose of the economy is to serve the society; the purpose is not for the society to worship the economy as a god.

Watch his video as many times as you can (I have watched it more than 6 times):

Read about his life here:

Buy his books here:
1) The Trap
2) The Response to: GATT and Global Free Trade

12:46 PM  
Anonymous JPF said...

To add to Teri's terrific Taibbi quotes, here's another take on the Randians:

How the Ayn Rand-Loving Right Is Like a Bunch of Teen Boys Gone Crazy


2:18 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dear Wafers-

Well, the near impossible happened: I got an award from within the US. Yes. I just got word that the Media Ecology Ass'n will be presenting me with their Neil Postman Award for Career Achievement in Public Intellectual Activity at their annual convention in 2013, in Michigan, next June. I'm still trying to process the info. The only award I ever expected to receive from w/in the US was the Good Riddance Award for Leaving the Country. Maybe there is a god, after all. But in all seriousness, I'm genuinely flattered by this, and look forward to the awards ceremony next June.

This also led me to think abt the nature of awards, and the fact that we cd use a few more of them. For example, we need a Bupkis Award for Contributing Absolutely Nothing to the Culture; Rom Mittney seems like an obvious nominee. Or a Ronald Reagan Award for Causing the Maximum Damage Possible to the Culture--clearly, Obama is a shoo-in for this. Anyway, Wafers are invited to suggest additional awards and nominees; all to be presented on SNL.


5:24 PM  
Anonymous Joseph S. said...

Congrats on your award, MB!

The "Rupert Murdoch Award for Best Feat of Media Manipulation and General Douchbaggery" seems like it's not too far in our future.


5:36 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Thank u. Yes, he certainly is one of the Great Douche Bags of our time. Meanwhile, take a look at this video. I'm not sure I understand why it got everybody upset. The mother involved is just preparing her daughter for life in the US, it seems to me.



7:43 PM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...


Congrats on the award.

I propose the Lee Atwater Award for Creating the Most Powerful Wedg(i)e Issue that shouldn't even be an issue at all.

Maybe a Jeb Bush Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Field of Voter Suppression ?

8:26 PM  
Anonymous shep said...


CNN video: Had trouble watching it.

Oh, so that's how people become serial killers. First a few fist fights. Then torture the animals. Then, serial killing.

This world is much worse than we thought.

8:37 PM  
Anonymous Vince said...


Thank you for posting the video link. The woman in the video reminds me of someone who believes that if you look at the data just right, then and only then will things are actually are better than the reality on the ground.

I'd like her to take a trip to Detroit and tell me and the millions that lost their way of life that trade "liberalization" was a good idea for the "average American".

Sir James Goldsmith was a true prophet because he dealt with something few people today can deal with, reality.

Thanks again,

9:11 PM  
Anonymous Joe doesn't know said...

Congrats on the award, Maestro! I'd like to road trip to Michigan and cheer wildly and probably be escorted away.

I'd like to propose the Steve Jobs award for the most monstrous, narcissistic - yet zen - person each year.

10:57 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Many thanks. I'm thinking we might call it the Steve Jobs Award for Personal and Cultural Degradation.
This yr's recipient: Mark Zuckershmuck. (Of course, we might also have a Zuckershmuck Award for Billionaire Buffoonery.)

On another note, I just read the New Yorker/Eliz Kohlbert article on spoiled kids, discussed above. At one pt she uses the phrase, "the crap-strewn core of American culture." Cdn't have said it better myself.


11:03 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Dr. Berman,
Mozel tov on your well-deserved award. To borrow a line from Little Big Man, I hope your heart is "soaring like an eagle" at this moment. But don't expect to be on the David Letterman show. He asked Gore Vidal to go out into the audience and introduce himself before the show since Dave was afraid no one had ever heard of him. Vidal refused and did not appear on the show.
Anyway, here is my list of awards and who I think should get the prizes.
1) Parent of the Year Award to the government of Pakistan who patiently waited 7 months for the US to apologize for killing 24 Pakistani soldiers.
2)Petulant Child of the Year Award to the US govt. who let NATO supplies rot for 7 months before saying "We're sorry."
3) Right in Front of Your Fuckin' Face Award to the hundreds of TV weathermen and women who were forbidden to use the words "global warming" or "climate change" though over 2000 weather related records were broken in June.
4) May You All Drop Dead Award to American liberals who are so quick to denounce human rights violations abroad but remain silent with regard to the erosion of civil liberties at home so as not to offend the Obama Administration or who CNBC likes to characterize as "the good guys."
5)Educator of the Year Award to NYC mayor Bloomberg who ordered the destruction of the library at Occupy Wall Street (Imagine a Jew destroying books. Didn't anyone see the irony in light of the Nazi book burnings?).
6)Though the 21st. century has only just begun, I propose a special award called Fraud of the Century to be awarded to Bob Dylan who recently received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from our war criminal in chief thus endorsing American exceptionalism, and imperialism. Yes, the same Bob Dylan who wrote Masters of War.
7)Baseball Has Been Very Very Good to Me Award to Cliff Lee of the Philadelphia Phillies who has won only one game this year though he's receiving $12,500,000 this year as part of a $125,000,000 5 year contract.
8) The What-the-Fuck Award to any woman who has been or is thinking about becoming the next Mrs. Tom Cruise.
PS. When are you coming to the east coast?

7:17 AM  
Anonymous David M said...

Dr. B
Congradulation!!!! Who knows this may lead to a pulitzer(or even a wurlitzer).
How about an award honoring George W Bush: the dubious dubya dumbfounded award for political hacks who don't know their history, geography, science and are just plain thugs.

9:45 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Many thanks; I always wanted a Wurlitzer.


Also thanks. I think we might need a Thomas Friedman Imperial Lackey and Asskisser Award as well. I too was ashamed of Dylan, but even more so of Wendell Berry and others who accepted the presidential Humanities Award, or whatever it was called. The proper response was, "No thanks, war criminal!"

My East Coast itinerary: not NYC, I fear. But I'm speaking at the Vermont State House in Montpelier on Sept. 14, and at Clark U. (Worcester MA) on Sept. 17, if that's of any help.


10:19 AM  
Anonymous Vince said...


Congratulations on your award. You will have to let me know where in Michigan you are scheduled to visit. I believe that illustrious sandwich is in order.

Proposal for a new presidential award.

"OBAMA: Obfuscatory Bullshit Allowing Militarism Award".

The first award will be retroactively given to GWB; but only after the O gives one to himself.


11:21 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Many thanks. The award ceremony will be held in Grand Rapids, Michigan, at Grand Valley State University, at some pt during June 20-23, 2013. Hope u can make it.


12:30 PM  
Anonymous shep said...

Dr. Berman: I am so unbelievably proud to know you and what you do for all of us.

By the way, Chris Hedges hit the nail on the head this week pointing out that profit statements don't factor in collective suicide so let's offer the, WAF-O POTTY award (A nasty toilet bowl in the shape of the Super Bowl). Inscribed with, "We Are Fucking Ourselves and Proud as Offal To Tell You".

I am enjoying, in a strange and helpless way, the demise of the planet.


1:05 PM  
Anonymous steven andresen said...

Morris, in your response, you said,

"...The notion that the ills of the US might be cured via the ballot box is quite mad, in my view. Hence, might as well have a Herman Cain or Rick Perry at the helm, to get the job over with. Romney will move in this direction, of course, but as in the case of the late Roman Empire, better to have a completely mindless buffoon in charge..."

I think I understand this sentiment, that is, if it's going to fail, let's get it done quickly, and with the least amount of damage.

A friend of mine argued that was what motivated his vote for the second Bush. He would accelerate the inevitable social and economic decay, and so bring about the end of the U.S. influence in the middle east, etc.

Unfortunately, what happened was worse for his point of view. The U.S. became more violent in the middle east, involved in wars of aggression, stealing, and murder. And the social decay is still going apace.

There is the same problem with your strategy. The problem is that the people in charge have access to countless ways in which they could make our lives miserable.

They have thousands of nuclear weapons, for example. They could start a war and decimate the planet. There is some thought that these same powers would like to decrease the population of humans from an ever increasing 7 to 8 billion to a more manageable 1 to 2 billion. To do this there would have to be some pestilence or war. It's possible.

They have hundreds of nuclear power facilities just waiting to melt down if left unattended. Right now there are three melting in Japan sending off radioactive particulates into the Pacific. I have read that the estimated loss of life caused by this event, given projections based on what happened at Chernobyl, to be somewhere between 10 and 100 million. That ought to make them some money.

And then there's the bio weapons research which probably comes up with AIDS, Cancer, and Diabetes viruses.

Your strategy of just letting them run wild is not in our interest any more that the other strategies we have concidered, like Marx's of getting all the kids on the playground to band together against the bullies.

Instead of all that, I am persuaded you have to find an argument that shows the powers-that-be that stealing and murder to gain wealth and power is not in their interest.

You have to come up with an argument that appeals to the powers so they stop what they are doing on their own.

Just giving up and hoping they get tired of stealing from the poor or murdering the few who resist does not seem like an effective argument in that regard.

1:26 PM  
Anonymous White Indian said...

We got the bubble-headed-bleach-blonde worried about her daughter going through 'funny phase' in Boobus Brittania! American responds with its favorite tool.

I too now believe that “There is no such thing as society”.

1:45 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


The powers that be can't be persuaded of anything. Surely u must realize that. They are just going to keep doing what's in their interest. As for a Mittney strategy, so to speak: whether the US ends fast or slow, it will very likely behave in a violent way. As historian John Dower once observed, empires compensate for their decline with hubris, and violence toward others is the most obvious expression of this (England is a pretty gd example). I prefer the fast version of decline to the slow one, myself, but we are simply talking about relative levels of violence. The Dems are merely "Empire Lite," and frankly, in terms of genocide, Clinton and Obama are outstanding. The whole notion of going to the polls and voting for 'the lesser of two evils' is a delusion. As Dick Gregory said decades ago, "If we're always voting for the lesser of two evils, how come things are getting worse?" Duh.

Plus, Mittney will afford us some moments of humor, as I've said b4. W/Obama, that's not possible; he's a dull dog. And at this pt in American history, humor is not a small thing to have, imo.

O&D, kiddo; O&D!


6:14 PM  
Anonymous TonyU said...

Also check out these videos (they are presentations he made in the US Senate against free trade):

1) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=maouTP8vTO0&feature=relmfu

2) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HLZxXHXtbtE&feature=relmfu

3) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxNm1IvWPJ4

This is the best time to read or reread the book “Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work” by Dr Paul Babiak and Dr Robert Hare.

6:37 PM  
Anonymous Savantesimal said...

The New Yorker article is a fascinating read. I thought it would just be a rant, but she has put a finger on a crucial point that I didn't think she would recognize. The constant parental interference is counter-productive, teaching children to get other people to do things for them instead of learning to take care of themselves. But she doesn't try to figure out the possible causes for this relatively new parental attitude. Why has this change occurred?

The underlying cause is an important point that readers of this blog should be interested in. We often talk here as if Americans are completely oblivious to the larger trends of their society. This is true in the sense that they never, ever sit down and think about American comparatively, historically. They are too busy living hand-to-mouth if they are poor, and too busy "consuming" large amounts of prestige-junk (including expensive toys for their children) if still relatively affluent. But they have obviously been noticing the closing out of opportunities, the increasing economic stratification. Not as a broad historical trend but simply in their every day experience. Seeing what is happening to themselves and people around them. Recognizing that there is far less room for mistakes or detours than their used to be, they have taken an aggressive approach to preparing their own children to succeed. And since the key to "success" in the oligarchic economy is now connections, formal credentials, and other BS like that, rather than genuine skills and talents, they have been trying to force their children along the various professional tracks as early and as quickly as possible. These "spoiled" children are yet another symptom of the invasion of every facet of life by economic forces. In reaction to the infiltration of "Liquid Modernity" into every aspect of life parents are not allowing their children to be children, that is humans who have a normal course of independent development, but treating them as products to be "produced" by all sorts of formal processes including systematic education. Paradoxically, as Elizabeth Kolbert has noticed, the highly-managed life of a "produced" child doesn't make them better adults but forces them to remain a child.

7:34 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

I’m still pissed that Republicans discarded a perfectly good candidate like Rick Perry and chose Romney instead, do you realize that at this point in 1988 Dukakis led by 10 points and he was running against a much better economy. What does that tell you about Romney’s charisma? What a combination, he’s boring like Dukakis, plus he was born and remains a rich out-of-touch ass like the Bushes. And always in the back of people’s mind will be the fact that Romney is a leader in a freakish religious cult. The only positive factor is his soap opera star looks may have enough impact on female seniors to flip FL back to the Reps. His chances look bleak.
Still, I hope he wins, if only to see how long the NYT and other MSM outlets can keep saying that we should all show respect for his lunatic religious beliefs by not discussing them.
Plus, I can’t wait to see the ‘The New Mormon Chic’ articles in the NYT style section. It’s pure fantasy of course, but were he to pick Tom Cruise for VP and give us two cults for the price of one, I swear, I’d quit my job and ring doorbells for him.

8:33 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

What was the argument with JFK? It was feared that he'd take his instructions from Rome. Yet there is near no discussion concerning Mormonism. From what I've read Romney will have to satisfy the church elders with regard to foreign and domestic policy. If he is not following their dictates, then he risks excommunication (and we all know how well-trained the Mormon leadership is with regard to foreign and domestic policy). By the way, Romney will not be a particularly good friend of Israel since Mormons believe that they are God's true Chosen People.

9:15 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

Savantesimal...well said on “the invasion of every facet of life by economic forces”
Under the imperatives our totalitarian economic system that most people live to serve, children, like any other “investment” must payoff maximum returns. Any other outcome would be seen as a shameful embarrassment. It’s sad that these people unnecessarily reduce life to such a state.

10:36 PM  
Anonymous Ieyasu said...


You are a spitting image of Alan Ginsberg! Have you heard this before?

9:39 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Oddly enuf, people tend to tell me Alan Alda, but with a beard. Go figure.


10:16 AM  
Anonymous Vince said...

Thanks again for the links and book suggestion TonyU.


6:54 PM  
Anonymous abc said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

I've read your trilogy on America and if I substitute "truth telling" for nonviolence in this quote from a book I'm reading, it perfectly sums up why you richly deserve this award.

"Truth telling is not centered upon a faith in one's own particular cause but upon a faith in the truth, which transcends one's own aspirations. the soldier of truth does not believe he will always win, nor even that he is necessarily right, only that the truth is so precious that it is worth seeking regardless of the immediate consequences to oneself, and so we must act on what we know and do, what our conscience is telling us must be done. In other words, truth telling is a refusal to live a lie or tolerate evil, not because we are more moral than our adversaries but because we have become convinced that only the truth can set us free."

Congratulations. Well done.

7:06 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Many thanks. John Donne once wrote that it was only for God to know the truth, but it was for humans to pursue it. That's all I've tried to do, to the best of my ability, and I like to think there are a small number of people such as yourself who can see that. A lot, of course, don't like the message (truth or no truth), so they attempt to kill (i.e. tear down) the messenger. I've certainly been the target of plenty of that. But then there's the old Arabic saying, "The dogs bark but the caravan moves on."

I did a promotional tour for DAA in 2006, and the 1st stop was the Community Bookstore on 7th Ave. in Bklyn. All of 40 people showed up, mostly depressed. One person asked me why I wasn't; how I managed to get up in the morning. "Because the truth makes me high," I told her. "When I get up in the morning, I generally feel pretty good."

This is why money and fame, nice tho they are, are really beside the pt. "He who has a why," wrote Nietzsche, "can put up with almost any how." I feel good because as far as I can make out, I'm being true to myself, to who I am. This is the best 'therapy' in the world, it seems to me. It's also why I finally had to leave the US, having no one to talk to because everyone around me seemed to be living a life based on opposite principles--and were visibly miserable as a result. I always wanted to take these folks aside, at parties or whatever, and say, "Man to man: aren't you tired of all this bullshit?" But I figured there was no point.

John Maynard Keynes, when he was an undergraduate at Cambridge, used to get in a beat-up old car with some of his classmates, drive to London, to the financial district (the City), lean out the window and yell at random businessmen: "Excuse me, sir, but you seem to have lost your sense of personal identity!" There's no way to know, of course, but I'm guessing very few of them quit their jobs and moved to Devon to grow rhubarb as a result. But certainly, the world wd be a better place if all of us did, in our lives, what we truly were.

Anyway, thanks for yr vote of confidence, I appreciate it.


7:49 PM  
Anonymous Golf Pro said...

Ha! Dr. Berman

Here's a guy who's right after your heart:


7:14 AM  
Anonymous David M said...

Dr. B & DAAers
I had to replace my cell phone last week. Here are a few observations that relate to some of the continuous threads that run through this site. My goal was to replace the one I had. I only talk and rarely at that, but to buy a phone you can only talk on these days cost nearly $100 more than a Jobs I-phone (99 cents). This is how they suck you in. I should have paid more for less and didn't(less is more in features). Now I find myself being infactuated with the new toy wanting to do those things that I loath to watch other people do. This surprised me. I figured I would not fall for it. I see first hand how one can be pulled in. Even for someone like myself who has sworn off tech toys its addicting. My wife will think I am crazy but I might take it back and pay the extra money. Baudelaire had it right.

The Devil's hand direct our every move-
the things we loath become the things we love;
day by day we drop through stinking shades
quite undeterred on our descent to Hell.

Like a poor profligate who sucks and bites
the withered breast of some well-seasoned trull,
we snatch in passing at clandestine joys
and squeeze the oldest orange harder yet.

Another observation was the obsequiousness and submissiveness of the the sales person. He was under constant surveillance by his superior. I felt embarressed for myself and for him. It seemed like other custermers around us were watching also. I tried to put the young man at ease by saying he had made the sale but he must have to put on a show for his superiors. I thought to myself I could never work under these conditions and under this much pressure, but then I am not in this persons shoes and lets face it jobs are hard to come by now. I have received three messages on my phone asking for an evaluation of the young man. I suspect if I take the phone back as I have stated above it would reflect badly on him.
I suspect that you folks will be the only ones who can relate to my distress over this experience.

9:01 AM  
Anonymous Mike Alan said...

Here’s my idea of a possible award to present for speeding along America’s collapse: The Newt Gingrich Awards. Yes, Awards. It is plural as there are three awards in the series.

Award #1 – The Newt Gingrich Piggish Person Award goes to that person in America who most displays piggishness in both look and deed. This is a difficult award to win as there are many potential candidates in this country, not all of whom are politicians.

Award #2 – The Newt Gingrich Hypocrisy Award goes to the person who complains loudly about the marital infidelities of another person while also having a marital affair themselves at the same time. Bonus award given if the spouse they are cheating on is dying of a terminal disease at the same time. This award is open to anyone to win, but thus far nobody outside of the more conservative wing of the Republican Party stands a chance of winning.

Award #3 – The Newt Gingrich Piggish Hypocrisy Award goes to that person who complains the loudest about power and privilege by those in government AND excessive government spending, while themselves using their own insider power and privilege to procure lucrative government contracts for their buddies. This award also is open to anyone, however nobody outside the Rethuglican party comes close, yet there are indication that misguided Tea Party simpletons will step up to the plate soon enough.

It is possible for a single human being to win one, two, or even all three of these awards in a single year, but few have what it takes to be as much of a pompous ass as Gingrich himself.

In a civilized society anyone despicable enough to win all three of these awards would be forcibly sterilized, have their house(s) burned to the ground at a public bonfire(s), shunned and then banished to a remote wilderness. However, America is not a civilized society so these “winners” are all likely found in positions of so-called political and corporate leadership all across the country - the cream that rises to the top. No wonder the collapse in inevitable.

9:19 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

Congratulations on the much-deserved reward, MB! You may not realize just how many of us you've helped sustain with your work. Be assured that we appreciate it greatly -- especially the part about treating us like adults & simply telling the plain, unvarnished truth.


I always blamed the self-esteem movement for what the latest generations of children have become, but your post has illuminated exactly why it began in the first place. Was it an unconscious (or semi-conscious) attempt to compensate for the disappearance of opportunities? Not merely to help them "succeed" by becoming marketed product, but to also make them feel worthwhile no matter what -- even if they hadn't earned that worth? Because as we all know, that didn't result in true self-esteem, which comes from struggling & learning on one's own, and making plenty of mistakes along the way. What it did was cripple them emotionally, with a bloated sense of entitledment & a shocking lack of empathy in place of a soul.

For those of us who are old enough, we all remember childhoods where we left the house in the morning, maybe came back for lunch, then were out again until dinner. Our parents didn't know where we were or what we were doing, and they generally didn't worry about us. They not only trusted the neighborhood & the world a bit more, they trusted that we knew our limits. Oh, they expected us to test them occasionally, but on the whole they expected us to be reasonably sensible. And because of that expectation, we usually did act sensibly, while managing to have a lot of fun, stretch our imaginations, and explore our immediate world. For me, since my Dad was in the Army & we were stationed around the world, it meant playing with local children, with none of us speaking a word of the other's language, but understanding each other quite well. If I have any personal authenticity, I owe a lot of it to just such a childhood.

As far as "succeeding" goes, I believe it was Lily Tomlin who said, "Even if you win the rat race, you're still a rat."

9:55 AM  
Anonymous Savantesimal said...

David M,

Many here (including MB himself in the comments to the New Inquiry Review post) have already commented on the fear of job loss as a constant factor in most American's lives. Following a link someone posted to a story on Alternet, I saw another story that is relevant. Not only is the fear pervasive, it's so powerful it is affecting the health of even people who have jobs. This "free country" really has become a classic slave empire.

Alternet: Job Insecurity: It's the Disease of the 21st Century -- And It's Killing Us

Remember Dilbert, the mid-level, white-collar Cubicle Guy of the '90s who could never seem to get ahead? In the 21st century, his position looks almost enviable.

He has been replaced by Waiting-For-the-Other-Shoe-to-Drop Man.

Across America, freaked-out employees are coping with sweat-drenched nights and heart-pounding days. They’re reaching for the Xanax and piling on the work of two or three people. They’re running the risk of short-term collapse and long-term disease.


11:05 AM  
Blogger Noah Linden said...

In any event, a slower collapse will also allow more people to think about and then choose the monastic option you described in your trilogy. A quick collapse will ensure that almost nobody will be able to choose something other than the narcissistic, ultra-individualistic mainstream American "culture". Generally speaking, people will be too frightened, in the event of a sudden collapse, to even think about alternatives.

12:47 PM  
Blogger jerome langguth said...

Dear Dr. Berman and friends:

Congratulations on the award. I can think of no writer/thinker more deserving. Your blog should win an award as well, as it is one of only a handful of forums on the Web where thoughtfulness, intellectual humility, and courtesy are the rule rather than the exception. Here are a few items picked out of today’s ether that I could not resist sharing with this group.

From William Kaufman’s current Counterpunch article on “the Arts and the Left” :

…there are precious few opportunities to know, see, or think about authentic art in any form outside a few large cities, and even there the arts struggle to survive as anything more than a “tasteful” adornment of rampant urban-gentry lifestylism. Any meditative oases where the artistic sensibility can take root and thrive have been lost to the mass-media desertification of the American mind. There’s no refuge from it, not even in the back seat of a taxicab or in the classroom— least of all in the classroom, a key target in the corporate Leviathan’s designs on the public/nonprofit sector...

And, illustrating Kaufman’s point about there being no refuge, a passage from one of two (at least) articles in Monday’s Guardian discussing the new Batman movie:

"All this activity raises the question: are there too many Hollywood superhero blockbusters? How can the market sustain them all? [Steve- Editor of Variety] Gaydos says: "To be honest, the trend has been heading this way for decades. These are films that require little or no dialogue, tell instantly-graspable stories in a big and bombastic manner, and deliver an experience that no other national film industry can afford to create."

The question of why anyone would want to create such “experiences” is , of course,not even considered.

1:01 PM  
Anonymous Mark Notzon said...

Dear MB.

Unh oh, not only have you been tracked and documented doing "public intellectual activity," but now you are awarded for it!? Postman, post mortem, would have loved it.

I am about 90 mi from GVSU, and if I am still in Michigan next June, I'll plan to attend.

Again, congrats.

Mark N.

2:24 PM  
Anonymous shep said...

To all:

There was a program on www.BillMoyers.com this weekend that was really special with the poet Phlip Appleman. I have to believe that the people participating on this blog will find something profound also. About 20 minutes.

4:03 PM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...


The American public is like the frog placed in the pot of water, being slowly but steadily heated to the boiling point. Except in this case, it's free-floating anxiety & fear rather than water; but unlike the frog, the public has quite willingly & even eagerly placed itself in the pot, hoping to be "winners" & somehow gain the elusive but almighty Success they were told they should & must have in order to be happy. And just as the frog accepts each higher degree as the norm, so the public accepts the newest level of human degradation as the norm. To suggest that there's another, better way of life outside the pot is absurd!


Andrew O'Hehir's most recent article at Salon asks why major studios can't or won't make movies for & about adults. By contrast, I watched an old "Route 66" episode this afternoon, circa 1963/4, where the major cultural reference is "Don Giovanni" & the plot of the episode quite deliberately uses it as a touchstone from beginning to end.

You'll notice that plenty of current TV shows champion technology & expertise, from the autopsy porn of those endless CSI shows to a popular comedy like "The Big Bang Theory" -- where the guys may be geeks, but they're lovable geeks, while any reference to the humanities is always disparaging. TV never misses a chance to puncture so-called intellectual elitism, especially when it involves the arts or the humanities in general. But then, why should it be any different than the rest of society?

In an advice column today, someone writes about a co-worker who natters on incessantly. The response is that said co-worker probably needs & uses constant mindless chatter to drive away troubling, frightening thoughts. Which is what the majority does anyway with iPods, cellphones, laptops, Twitter, etc. The notion that you might sit quietly & see what's inside you -- if anything -- is the last thing they want.

4:09 PM  
Anonymous Smith said...

Tim Lukeman, I partially agree with your criticism of the self-esteem movement, but I also think your believe that worth must be "earned" is part of the problem, not a solution.

It's a similar criticism I have to abc's comment that nobody wants to start at the bottom, but my comment glitched when I tried to say it before so Berman didn't receive it.

I don't think a lack of desire to start at the bottom is the problem, the problem is that there even IS a bottom to BEGIN with.

The idea that some human beings are worthy, and others are not, is what makes bullying in schools acceptable ("They didn't get with the program, or engaged in manly enough activities with other boys, or weren't pretty enough girls, etc.! They deserved it!").

It's what makes it acceptable to treat the working and middle classes like garbage (if everyone has to start at the bottom, if you have to earn the right to be treated like a decent human being, why should you complain when you're stepped on by plutocrats?).

It's what makes it acceptable to homogenize the workplace so everywhere is a cubicle (how dare you complain? You have to EARN everything, including beauty and basic human variety and access to original ideas!).

I think the self-esteem movement was a bad idea. But I think that what it was originally created to fix, the idea that you aren't owed anything, not even compassion and an opportunity to access the arts, was arguably even WORSE.

This is a good example of how SUBTLE American poison can be: even the commenters here, the nicest people in the world like Tim Lukeman and abc, have absorbed the subconscious idea that human beings must earn and work for everything, including the right to beauty outside the cubicle or the right to not be treated like garbage at work or at school.

5:06 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Many thanks. Hope 2 c.u. there. Meanwhile, check this out:



6:21 PM  
Anonymous TonyU said...

Dr B, thanks for providing the following video:
Why America is NOT the greatest country in the world, anymore


Ponder on the last thought in the video: “the first step in solving any problem is recognizing that there is one”

Newt Gingrich was the speaker of the House while Bill Clinton was the president. Looking back now on the decisions made by the two men and considering what we know now about the mindset of the two men, any thinking person should be able to ‘see’ or understand one critical problem facing America.

Hint 1: Both Gingrich and Clinton had plenty of paid economic advisers, yet both men had to understand economics to be able to understand the opinions/advice of the economic advisers.

Hint 2: America is under siege by a group of people who have taken over the educational system, the governments at all levels, and the financial institutions.

Hint 3: You don’t have to think or consider anything; go back to sleep and you should be fine in holding the unexamined belief that you are the greatest.

8:01 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I'm giving serious consideration to returning to the US to run for president as the candidate of the CRE Party (Cranial-Rectal Embedment). Sorkin wd be my choice for VP. We wd criss-cross the nation, telling Americans that their heads were deeply embedded in their rear ends, and that the CRE Party had only one goal: to get them to insert those heads even deeper. To this end, following my standard stump speech (in this case known as a rump speech), we wd be distributing crowbars and tubes of K-Y jelly, so that they cd, in the privacy of their own homes, help the CRE Party achieve its objective.

I tell u, if I cd get funding for this, I think I wd actually do it. What a YouTube video that wd make, eh?


9:31 PM  
Blogger ijcd said...

Chris Hedges seems to be coming to terms with the inevitable, and realizing that the only way to save the cultural achievements of humanity (well, a tiny minority of it) is by following a life not unlike MB's NMI option. Read his last article: "How to Think" at

Some excerpts:

"... And here is the dilemma we face as a civilization. We march collectively toward self-annihilation. Corporate capitalism, if left unchecked, will kill us. Yet we refuse, because we cannot think and no longer listen to those who do think, to see what is about to happen to us. We have created entertaining mechanisms to obscure and silence the harsh truths, from climate change to the collapse of globalization to our enslavement to corporate power, that will mean our self-destruction. If we can do nothing else we must, even as individuals, nurture the private dialogue and the solitude that make thought possible. It is better to be an outcast, a stranger in one’s own country, than an outcast from one’s self. It is better to see what is about to befall us and to resist than to retreat into the fantasies embraced by a nation of the blind. [END]


"... “How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea,” Shakespeare wrote, “Whose action is no stronger than a flower?” Human imagination, the capacity to have vision, to build a life of meaning rather than utilitarianism, is as delicate as a flower. And if it is crushed, if a Shakespeare or a Sophocles is no longer deemed useful in the empirical world of business, careerism and corporate power, if universities think a Milton Friedman or a Friedrich Hayek is more important to their students than a Virginia Woolf or an Anton Chekhov, then we become barbarians. We assure our own extinction. Students who are denied the wisdom of the great oracles of human civilization—visionaries who urge us not to worship ourselves, not to kneel before the base human emotion of greed—cannot be educated. They cannot think. ..."

Well, we already are barbarians.

El Cubano
O & D!

1:28 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


It only remains for Chris to endorse my line of attractive T-shirts (100% cotton, any three for $20 plus S&H, available in 4 shades of black):

O&D! (Onwards & Downwards!)
HRIR (Heads Rammed in Rumps)
CRE (Cranial-Rectal Embedment)

To which I hope to add:

and of course my all-time favorite:


Wafers are invited to add to the list. Also to suggest whom I shd tap for endorsements. I'm thinking of full-page ads in the NYT showing Jennifer Aniston, Phillip Roth, and Barbara Ann Nowak wearing a shirt, with the caption: "I didn't know what chic was until I got myself a Berman T-shirt". Not bad, eh?


4:19 AM  
Anonymous Mark Notzon said...

Dear MB,

Thanks for the lead to the video clip "Why America is Not a Great Country Anymore."

Back in 2004, when I returned to the States after two years in China and nine in Indonesia, I used to watch re-runs of "West Wing." It made me feel like I was back home in a land with a real government. A little willing suspension of disbelief is therapeutic.

In the 90's I would make it back to the States about once a year, and friends would have videotaped seasons of "Northern Exposure" waiting for me, viewing which also eased the reverse cultural shock of coming back to the States.

--Mark N.

9:58 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...


I take your point, which was well made. Perhaps I shouldn't have used the word "earn" -- but as you say, it's one of the things so many of us have absorbed by osmosis. I do agree that everyone has a right to beauty & joy; it's our natural inheritance as sentient beings. And so much of it is free, if you will, there for the taking & experiencing, all round us. Most of the beauties my wife & I enjoy are just that kind.

Part of my problem, I realize, is that I was accepting the competitive mode of American culture as an unquestioned law of the universe. No question but that survival often is sometimes hard work; every living creature is proof of that.But that's natural selection. The poison you're talking about (and it IS poison) is the artificial, arbitrary rules & systems of competition that out culture creates, imprints & enforces. It's a phoney zero-sum game invented to keep everyone anxious & at each other's throats, rather than finding common purpose & unity against the powers that be.

Quite simply, they want us all to be ants, and to despise the grasshopper who fiddles happily in the summer weather. I always thought those ants were rather sanctimonious & smug when winter came around & they told the grasshopper to go off & die of starvation.

My complaint about the self-esteem movement: it still upholds the competitive model, but then says that everyone is a winner. By the very nature of such a system, there can only be winners if there are losers. It's pure hypocrisy, and most people know it at some level sooner or later. And it ignores the fact that some things DO take hard work -- learning in depth, for instance. It also ignores the fact that some people ARE going to be better than others at some things. But it seems to me that part of the joy & beauty of doing something well is learning how to do it, making the mistakes & then correcting them -- getting the craft & knowledge in your bones, so that you truly know it, so that it's truly yours. That IS something worth earning, I think.

In short: true self-esteem is something you find or make for yourself, within yourself. It's not something that's handed to you by others.

I appreciate your post. It really made me stop & think!

10:24 AM  
Anonymous Stone said...

Dear MB,

First, my congratulations on the award! I am very happy for you, as you deserve it for the excellent work of reflection on our predicament, our history, and our ways you have provided.

Okay, so continuing with my comments and remarks on DAA, if I may.

My object today: the quotation from Alex Marshall on p. 238, i.e., "at every fork in the road, we have chosen the individual over the collective."

There seems to be something (conceptually, not syntactically) incongruous about this sentence. A paraphrase may bring that out: the collective has chosen the individual over the collective.

If this construal is correct, it would be seem that the collective has opted for being divided from the get go, for being at odds with itself, as it were.

Not only was the consensus that self-interest was primary, but it was also, as evidenced by the history of dissent in the US, a consensus to sideline (by various means, even violent ones) those constituencies for which the common should be primary.

Or should one speak of orientation rather than choice? Indeed, how deliberate a choice was it? It certainly was not made either by a representative body or by direct voting.

I could say more, but for fear of taking up too much space, I will leave it at that.


11:25 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Well, this may be a kind of hairsplitting, I dunno. Alex meant the observation in a political or legislative sense, of course--e.g. cars instead of mass transit. But I think he also meant it in the sense of psychological orientation: this really is what the American people want, in every area of their lives. Lewis Mumford once said that what Americans wanted was to collectively live a private dream, and I think that may be what Alex is getting at here.


12:06 PM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...


I also think there's a paradox at work, in that the majority choosing the individual above all else somehow winds up being quite homogenized in their lifestyle & worldview -- they're all "individuals" in pretty much the same way, often appearing quite interchangeable. While those who opt for the collective (or community, if you prefer) seem to be quite distinct individuals in the end.

Is it that those opting for a false sort of individuality, the "me first & no one else" model, are so afraid of being empty, of being absorbed into the homogenized mass, that they do their best to be "individuals" -- a mass-produced individuality that's mass-marketed to them? Whereas those who are genuine individuals, who have a real sense of self, don't have to fear being lost in the mass & thus don't find community threatening?

1:49 PM  
Anonymous Smith said...

"Lewis Mumford once said that what Americans wanted was to collectively live a private dream, and I think that may be what Alex is getting at here."

Yet in order to get away from American mass delusion and embrace authentic values, you have to (in Epicurean fashion) construct a private world YOURSELF.

Morris Berman remarked in Twilight of American Culture that he wondered whether generations after him would be able to spot irony. Here's one reader whose irony meter has spiked through the roof.

2:20 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I think u missed the boat there. Mumford was saying that this private dream was basically the same for all Americans, which makes its individualism questionable. See also Tim's recent note.


2:26 PM  
Anonymous Savantesimal said...

Re: the collective-individualist paradox

There is remarkably little variation in American society, for all the talk of individualism. This is largely due to it being so new. Even today most Americans have grandparents or great-grandparents who were immigrants. And everyone who arrived was forced to adopt the "new culture" (with zero content except conquest and exploitation) in order to fit in. It was a sort of distributed brainwashing, each new wave was forced to conform by the previous waves who had assimilated, as both a justification and covert revenge for their own brainwashing.

But the real trick going on in American society today is the proxy-game called "The Corporation". This is really what the Alex Marshall passage seems to be dealing with. Since corporations have been given "human rights" they are a vehicle for all sorts of scams perpetrated on the public. Corporations are not "individuals" at all, of course, but collectives. They are essentially unelected governments. But having been given the right to be treated as individuals in the law, they can then twist the very rights supposed to protect individual real citizens into the means of exploiting them.

These scams take many forms, but the most common formula is to present something that benefits corporations as "individual" rights or privileges. Thus the drive to get rid of public transit systems in the early 20th century. Those could be managed by the public through elected government, and so could not produce nearly as much profit as an atomized public being forced to buy their vehicles for themselves one at a time -- from unelected governments called "corporations". And thus also the current scam being presented as "health care reform" which is really just forcing everyone to help insurance companies make money. A public health care option ("single payer" as it is called) could also be managed by the public through elected government, and so would not be nearly as exploitable as an atomized public forced to each buy their health care insurance for themselves -- from unelected governments called "corporations".

I could go on at some length about this scam, but I am probably getting close to the informal length limit for posting.

3:05 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

Had to post this, especially after reading the LA Times article on Mitt and his fans in the Hamptons.


An article on mormon money just out today


The online buzz is all about an article NOT out yet that will be more revealing and more hard-hitting, a sorta wikileaks of insider money info. The mormon congregations have already been warned about it from on high. Can't wait:)

4:20 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I cdn't post yr other one; too long. Compress by 50%, and I'll run it. Also, I don't like to do more than one post per person per day.

On the subject of the collective private dream, check this out (he's my kinda guy):



4:43 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Apologies in advance for anyone planning to move to Canada. Like Morris has said, it's not really much better up here. I moved back here several years ago after working in the U.S. for several years and then dealing with a layoff and the collapse of paid journalism. (I also worked in SE Asia for several years.)

While Canada has a softer and kinder approach to certain things like universal health care, it's still fundamentally me me me I want I want I want.

I live in Alberta and many of the worst U.S. excesses are here. I would argue they are even worse in certain respects because the bedrock of cultural tradition is wafer thin even compared to the U.S. South, never mind Asia or Europe. Alberta basically started in 1905.

The results? People don't know how to behave in a civil manner, despite the contraptions of Canadian "niceness." You'll find more humanness in most of the U.S. South, from what I've experienced.


5:10 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

As it is in the U.S. and Canada, so it is elsewhere. I've lived for extended periods in 12 countries and my journalistic work has taken me to more than 90 others. The hustlers are everywhere, unbridled greed the rule.

One must be a greenhorn in the ways of the world to believe there is a Shangri-La out there. Certainly a new country can appear different in the first few months, but scratch the surface and you shall find what you left behind.

The comical aspect to 'American living' is only more visible than in other nations. Indeed we find the moronic, absurd U.S. TV programs being readily copied in most other countries.

Oh were it that the problem was just America! No! As the Sage of Frankfurt tells us the essence is that, 'this world is the battleground of tormented, agonized beings who devour each other for survival.'

9:43 AM  
Blogger Noah Linden said...


I agree with your comment about Canada. I have known some Canadians, and many of them have been as narcissistic as any American I've ever seen.

Canada may have been different at an earlier period in its history, but at the present time, it's basically a carbon copy of America. Especially if you're looking to meet a decent, non-narcissistic woman, Canada is the worst place you can possibly live in.

10:47 AM  
Anonymous shep said...


Hate to break it to you but I was born and raised in the South. Born in Atlanta. Moved to Alabama.

This state and the South has more hatred and racism than you can possibly imagine. The war will NEVER be over.

Everyone is ostracized and talked about. Searing gossip and a sweet mask is the game.

These people are one yard from the mouth of the cave.

The elites hate everything including themselves and they project the same while keeping themselves and everybody else ignorant. There will not be ONE individual elite raptured.

This is the last place you want to land.

11:59 AM  
Anonymous Stone said...

To MB:

Well, yes, Marshall's phrasing is sufficiently loose to allow for a number of interpretations. It may be, though, that in the context of his book, it is more determinate in meaning, as you in fact suggest.

My remark had to do with the agent(s) referred to rather vaguely by the pronoun 'we'.

I will restrict myself to one example to make my point more palatable. Barry Commoner reports that in 1949 General Motors took a very active and self-serving role in replacing more than one hundred electrically powered mass transportation networks in 45 cities by vehicles of its own making. In other words, it was very instrumental in fashioning an energy system dominated by the large oil companies, and which, it turns out, has a very low thermodynamic yield.

To Savantesimal:

And the citizens of these cities were not consulted, as far as I know.

To Tim:

It may be that the self-interested and self-seeking individual prevails in the realm of property and the management of wealth (and even that is questionable in view of our enormous wealth disparities), but in the realm of ideas, imagination, art, clothing, sports, and other cultural practices, conformism is the rule.


12:00 PM  
Anonymous JPF said...

My contribution to the t-Shirt line:

Define the US:
A) Cupidity
B) Insipidity
C) Morbidity
D) Stupidity
E) Squalidity
F) All of Above

And another Weimar take:

(And congrats on the award!)

12:18 PM  
Anonymous Smith said...

Something else I'd like to add to the discussion:

Probably the worst thing about the United States is that American life is like living in a nightmare. Usually that's a cliche, so what I mean is not that American life is horrible but that America LITERALLY operates according to the logic of having a nightmare.

For a good example, let's say you hear 7-year-old children complain that the purpose of schools is to hurt them.

What's your initial response? They're paranoid, they can't follow the rules, they're blowing everyone else's actions out of proportion because they're 7, etc.

But in America, where we get news articles of parents forcing their kids to run until they die of thirst, or in schools where children can be arrested and even tasered for selling lemonade or doodling on a desk, or "teen boot camps" where children can be sent off to be tortured and beaten into "shape" if they question authority too much, the delusional paranoia of the child can actually be true!

Or, let's say you overhear a white-collar worker complain that everyone is against him. They change the rules so he'll lose no matter what he does, they constantly make fun of him behind his back, they make mistakes and then universally shift the blame to him, etc.

What's your initial response? That the worker is probably projecting his own flaws onto everyone else, that's he's paranoid or crazy and has severe mental problems, since he's "unable to trust other people."

But in America, since workplaces operate under workers screwing each other to get ahead and the bosses screwing all of them, the delusional paranoia of the worker is actually true!

Mark Ames brought a similar concept up in his book, Going Postal. His argument is that, while absolutely not justifiable, the "shooting sprees" of Americans is understandable because they realize that schools and workplaces have become torture centers, but absolutely no one in the country acknowledges this to be the case. Going on a shooting rampage is the only course the worker has (or feels he has) to make other people acknowledge him as a human being whose feelings can be hurt by mistreatment and in this case pushed too far.

It's truly a fate worse than death. Like a nightmare, you can be minding your own business, and then kicked in the face and then told that nobody kicked you. And usually we think that if someone complains that people hurt him for no reason, then he deserved it and is just hiding the reason like he was harassing people or something, which compounds the problem because in America he may be describing objective reality.

1:27 PM  
Anonymous David M said...

Dr.B & DAAers
Bad news Mitt is losing groung to Obamanation. His tax havens are going to be his downfall. Unless the Bland One does somthing that the American public thinks is stupid like pull the troops out of Afganistan, cut aid to Isreal, negotiate with Iran or proposing medicare for everyone, he's a shoe-in. Also I suspect Ron and that chip off the old block Rand will raise havoc at the Imperial convention. Like McGovern, Mittny might have to give his acceptance speech at 2 oclock in the morning; which means his finacial advisors in Geneva will be able to catch his speech early and make any necessary finacial(illegal,unethical,immoral)investing transactions after they see the poll numbers.I wasn't sure where this was going; but I have been caught imagining things in the past.

3:18 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

I'm rehashing some of what Morris and others have already been pointing out:

Americans who now live in tent cities still put up American flags,
even though their country has utterly failed them.

The U.S. has one big advantage going for it: Most Americans believe that anyone can make it. Most people in the U.S. really do believe they'll become rich some day!

This is why America beat the USSR's ass like a gong.

Most Russians knew the system was screwed and utterly doomed. They knew they were getting a raw deal and living like peasants. Conversely, most Americans--no matter how much they get get screwed over by the elites--still believe in the system wholeheartedly. They just want a bigger slice of the pie, and that they will get it some day.

Perpetual growth is a myth that 2008 exposed. Most people now are in the denial stage of grief. They know at least subconsciously that things are only going to get worse. But because that prospect is too horrible too contemplate, they just put it out of their minds and think of something else.

American's system of propaganda has always been very clever and sophisticated:

"We nuked those Japanese to save lives!"

"600,000+ *had* to die to free the slaves."

"We had to kill almost all the Indians because they were SAVAGES in the way of PROGRESS!"

"Vietnam? Dominoes, man! DOMINOES! DON'T YOU GET IT? Also, we had to destroy the village to save it."

"Iraq had WMDs. This is an irrefutable fact."

Public relations (excuse making, in other words) is the one area where the U.S. has been unquestionably first-rate all along.


4:31 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Chris, Smith-

Just a general memo to you guys and everyone else: I try to limit posts to one per person per day, and ask that you limit your messages to half a page tops. Thank you for your patience and understanding.


7:05 PM  
Anonymous Savantesimal said...

And for my daily contribution here I would like to direct everyone to the NPR talk-show Onpoint from yesterday. They had a show devoted to yet another exploited workers scandal. Once they introduced the atrocity-of-the-day, which involved the abuse of mostly immigrant Mexicans, they went on to talk about the deteriorating conditions for all American workers. It's not just the "bottom rung" anymore. Even so-called "white collar" workers are being intimidated into working longer hours and accepting all sorts of humiliating and outright illegal working conditions. And there were people calling in to tell yet more stories of abuse and exploitation. This is really frightening stuff.

Onpoint: Exploited Labor In The USA

The story out of Breaux Bridge, Louisiana sounded Third World. Guest workers in a seafood processing plant allegedly forced to work 24-hour shifts. 80-hour weeks. Barricaded in so they couldn’t escape. Threatened with beatings to work faster. Bullied. Underpaid. Families threatened. Forced labor.

Last month, Wal-Mart suspended the supplier of crawfish, and the horror stories ricocheted around the country. But in a bad economy, with the pressure on, exploited labor doesn’t just happen on the bayou.

This hour, On Point: On the bottom rung. Exploited labor in America.

9:44 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jambalaya, a-crawfish pie and-a file gumbo
Cause tonight I'm gonna see my machez amio
Pick guitar, fill fruit jar and be gay-oh
Son of a gun, well have big fun on the bayou.

10:09 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: I guess times have changed.

10:10 PM  
Anonymous TonyU said...

Thanks Savantesimal, for the link to "Onpoint: Exploited Labor In The USA"


This is the case of the needs, values, and interests of the society versus the needs, values, and interests of the individuals in the society. Some people call it the battle between individualism and collectivism. On one extreme, there are the needs, values, and interests of the individuals like Michael Leblanc and the guest workers from Mexico. On the other extreme, there are the needs, values, and interests of the society. How do you get to the middle where the needs, values, and interests of the individuals and those of the society are in balance? Everyone desires happiness, so how do we achieve this without harming some people?

The same questions and issues are involved in outsourcing, bursting workers’ unions, and desire to destroy the government:

“he wants to hire more government workers. He says we need more fireman, more policeman, more teachers. Did he not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did. It’s time for us to cut back on government and help the American people”



12:21 PM  

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