July 12, 2012


Dear Wafers and Others:

Yes, we've made it to 150 posts, a milestone of sorts. Actually, my reason for starting a new post is that the system gets funny after 200 messages, and starts filing the overrun in another place. (I really don't know how these things work, I confess.) Message 201 was from Mike Alan, about Dmitry Orlov's recent discussion of psychotic denial of the American collapse on the part of Americans. I suspect this phenomenon is familiar to most of you out there, who have tried to talk to your fellow country(wo)men about WAF or related subjects. Having a discussion with an American is typically scary or depressing or both, as most of you know. While I'm not sure that all 311 million of our fellow country(wo)men are psychotic, I am convinced that at least 99.9% of them have a puree of steamed vegetables inside their heads; which would produce the same result, I'm guessing. In any case, I'm hoping Mike Alan will read this and re-send his message, but this time to this new post.

Lemmings Awake! - The latest in my trendy T-shirt series (any three for $19.95, plus s&h).



Blogger Ross said...

How about "Lemmings Retreat!" with a whole group of lemmings going over the cliff (it's a myth, I know!) but the last one turns around and runs the other way.

7:57 AM  
Anonymous TonyU said...

What kind of reasoning is this? If he had a job, he could probably afford to buy about 3 iPhones per month. Why trade one iPhone for three plus your career, your reputation, and your character?

BATON ROUGE, La. -- A 27-year-old police officer in Louisiana has resigned after authorities say he stole an iPhone from the scene of a drunken-driving crash.


10:12 AM  
Anonymous Abigail said...

Well lemmings don't actually commit mass suicide, that whole myth was started, by the Disney film _White Wilderness_, in which the film makers actually chased the lemmings off the cliff so as to provide a dramatic sequence, see http://www.snopes.com/disney/films/lemmings.asp

They also imported lemmings into Alberta, not their natural habitat, for use in the film. Ah Disney. Gotta love it. I'm sure there's a good analogy for America in there somewhere (ya think?) but I'll leave it to the cleverer members of the DAA/WAF anti-CRE Alliance to articulate.

In the meantime, I thought I'd post this article about another myth: "The Myth of America", by Charles Davis, which is an interesting take on Founding Father/Constitution worship (hint: the constitution was written to enshrine property rights, not human ones). Isn't this what Dr. Berman's been saying all along? At least some folks get it...


Also, congratulations to Dr. Berman on the award! It couldn't have happened to a nicer Cassandra...

1:59 PM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

If David Brooks is any indication (and he is), the bar for American self-centered stupidity can be lowered infinitely & still not hit bottom. Just check out his latest, wherein he mourns the passing of the old WASP elite & bemoans how the current elite must work so much harder than the poor to survive:


The generally scathing comments are wonderful. Let's see how long it takes for Brooks or the Times to close any further comments ...

Seriously, this is the caliber of "thinker" paraded on TV's taling heads shows & praised as an objective & deep mind!

3:23 PM  
Anonymous Kusco Kate said...

David Brooks lives in a 4-million dollar home he just acquired not too long ago.

"How did David Brooks garner the cash? The salaries of the mainstream press corps are a tightly-held secret. The press corps does not report on the press. “Lifestyles of the rich and famous” stops at the press corps’ door."


5:36 PM  
Anonymous abc said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

There's an excellent article on Truthout today by Henry Giroux: From Penn State to JPMorgan that I hope everyone will have an opportunity to read. He's a staunch spokesman for youth and has done a good job documenting what's going on in America's war against kids. Because, really, it is a war--a stealth operation but very effective.

Tim--I did read Brook's article (a friend of mine loves him so I send them on to her) and was amazed yet again how incredibly shallow and facile he could be. We must all pool our money and send him a history book, preferably Howard Zinn's.

6:45 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Tim, Kate, abc-

It's like Ptirim Sorokin said (see below): when a civilization goes into decline, buffoons get hailed as wise men (and vice versa, I suppose), and the general public can't tell the difference anyway. It's all hustling for Brooks, Friedman, and their ilk: rather than operating from a moral core (like Chomsky or Hedges, say), the goal is to be king of the dunghill. What they do, in spades, is kiss the ass of the American upper middle and professional classes, tell them what they wanna hear. "Oh, what a perceptive thinker," is the response; "let's give these geniuses a permanent column at the NYT." As for the NYT, compared to the (real) reportage one can find at truthdig, alternet, truthout, huffpost, commondreams, rollingstone, counterpunch and the like, it's a rag--little more than a bad joke. (Ditto for Brooks' latest book, as many reviewers pointed out.)

Do we live in a plutocracy, or a shmuckocracy? is the real question we need to consider.



11:09 PM  
Blogger ijcd said...

Hello all, you may enjoy this reading. Seems like some quite eloquent and wise people are coming to MB's and our conclusions, and interestingly enough, coming to terms with the inevitable and the need for us to check out of the dominant culture (world wide scale, not just the US):

After The Fireworks Have Faded: Intimations of Bosons Among a Cacophony of Bozos
by Phil Rockstroh / July 9th, 2012


Hope is for the Lazy: The Challenge of Our Dead World
by Robert Jensen / July 9th, 2012

Thanks to Abigail for pointing out the 'Dissident Voice' website.

O & D!

12:58 AM  
Blogger ijcd said...

By the way, we live in a "shmuckocracy", were reality is surreal and the real drives you insane. Try making sense of this!

1:04 AM  
Anonymous TonyU said...

ijc, thanks for the link to Robert Jensen's article: "The economic system assumes you care only about yourself. The political system gives the most to the people who have the most. We clamor for any amusement or chemical that takes our minds off the horror. Things aren’t going well because we are living in systems that put us at odds with each other and with the larger living world. Few are guilty, but all are responsible" http://tinyurl.com/8ylh98y

abc, thanks for the link to Henry Giroux's article on Pen State: "radicalized market-driven values", "culture of cruelty", and "academic illiteracy"

Both articles give the same message. Pick up on the phrase ‘academic illiteracy’. Also, ponder these two words: ‘pen’ and ‘state’. Pen is associated with learning/writing while state is associated with a nation/culture.

What do the teachers, priests, parents, and police in the communities within/around Pen State teach young people about ethics, morality, justice, respect, laws, contracts, values, beneficence, honesty, or trust? I submit that Pen State is a replica, a microcosm, of present America. If you fully understand the issues, the absurdities, and the depravities at Pen State, you completely understand present America. I wish Dr B. starts a thread on Pen State! Pen State is US, and US is Pen State.

8:06 AM  
Anonymous Smith said...

Thanks for the link, ijcd!

I was following the progress of the Higgs Boson research, so I jumped for joy when they actually discovered something that might be it!

I have to say, though, I can't really tell whether or not the author thinks science has any value, or whether or not he thinks the discovery of the Higgs Boson is a good thing or a bad thing. It's not really clear; he suggests a bit both conclusions.

8:37 AM  
Blogger ijcd said...

Hi TonyU,

The Giroux article is, in summary, a description of a psychopathic society, ruled, organized and planned by such subhuman creatures. Good article, it would help spread the word.


I got the impression that Rockstroh was also excited about the possible discovery (I studied Physics and Mathematics, by the way, but have lost my enthusiasm thanks to live in the U.S. of A. and the state of our world, which I think need more of my attention and energy at this time). He seemed to be upset about the fact we live among bozos here(although to me, they are more like infantile & brutish barbaric cannibals), thus rendering such news absolutely irrelevant in this country, since “we” already know WHO, how (and when) created the universe; or simply don’t even bother to know such meaningless and unprofitable trifles (or are too busy being amused by kitsch (http://www.nbcmiami.com/news/local/Octomoms-Strip-Club-Performance-Still-On--162357486.html).

I feel just like him. I live in a dangerous jungle.

O & D!

1:06 PM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...


My copy of Thomas Merton's American Prophecy just arrived in the mail & I can already see how good it will be - thank you for the recommendation!

Taken at random from the book, quoting Merton on education:

Showing a person how to define himself authentically and spontaneously in relation to his world -- not to impose a prefabricated definition of the world, still less an arbitrary definition of the individual himself.... Learning who one is, and learning what one has to offer the contemporary world, and then learning how to make that offer valid.

We must provide an education that strengthens us against the noise, the violence, and the half-truths of our materialistic society.

How much more true -- and alas, futile -- half a century later!


The only thing I can add to your eloquent post is that we live in a culture that celebrates, rewards, and of course relentlessly encourages the monstrously squalid.

1:35 PM  
Anonymous Zasbisky said...

Here is the best summary of the Sandusky and Penn State story:


1:50 PM  
Anonymous abc said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

TonyU--Here's quote from an article on Truthdig, The Painful Price of Numbness, about the symbiotic, destructive relationship between Mexico and the US:

"I don’t know why my country seems to produce so much misery and so much desire to cover it up under a haze of drugs, but I can imagine a million reasons. A lot of us just never put down roots or adapted to a society that’s changing fast under us or got downsized or evicted or foreclosed or rejected or just move around a lot. This country is a place where so many people don’t have a place, literally or psychologically. When you don’t have anywhere to go with your troubles, you can conveniently go nowhere—into, that is, the limbo of drugs and the dead-end that represents.

But there’s something else front and center to our particular brand of misery. We are a nation of miserable optimists. We believe everything is possible and if you don’t have it all, from the perfect body to profound wealth, the fault is yours."

There was an article in the NYT last week about the suburbs sliding into poverty so expect drug use (probably meth) to be tracking along with it and there's very little help available to families.

The Penn State criminals are a lovely bunch. Apparently Joe Paterno was a great football coach but not a great man.

1:53 PM  
Blogger Noah Linden said...

More predictions for the future:
1.) Within 20 years, most Americans will not be able to feed themselves adequately. In response, the (fascist) American government will set up a food program analogous to what Obamacare is to health care: something that enslaves people to agribusiness corporations and ensures that they pay huge sums of money for worthless junk food. The food that is given to Americans through this program will not be nourishing, and will in fact be designed to make people as stupid as is possible while still granting the capacity for mindless, drone-like work.
2.) Millions of dissident Americans will be rounded up, tortured and killed. America will embark on a nuclear war against half the world. One third of the world's people will be killed by the American military.

This will all happen over the next 20 years.

6:44 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dear Noah,

Well, just a tad depressing, I hafta admit. Altho keep in mind, I'm sure the NSA reads this blog, and I keep urging the Pentagon to nuke Paris and Toronto, and thus far they have stubbornly refused to follow my advice; altho that may be because the lines of communication between the NSA and the DoD are not very gd, who knows.

Truth be told, I'm more concerned abt the food situation. Will corned beef and chopped liver be inaccessible? In that case, this is a regime that I can only roundly condemn. Wafers are encouraged to

a) List the basic Principles of Mittnism
b) Specify which foods they plan to stock up on, in advance of the Noachian prophecy
c) Provide slogans for a chic set of nuclear butchery T-shirts.



7:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would venture to guess that diets saturated with high fructose corn syrup is the root of the problem.


1:57 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dear Monk,

r.u. the guy from the tv show? Welcome!

I agree that hfcs is probably 50% of our problem. But I'm thinking the other half might be dopamine. In one recent controlled study (see New England Journal of Medicine, 4 Jan 2012), 104 Americans from all walks of life were given very large doses of the stuff and proceeded to ram their heads up their asses. They rolled around like donuts, one hand clutching a cell phone, the other a bottle of Prozac. Fred Previc, the study director, was overheard to remark: "My God, it's a microcosm of American society!" (He now comes to work wearing a CRE T-shirt, and declares himself to be a full-fledged Wafer.)


4:05 AM  
Anonymous Julian said...

Brainwashed by Nike in America:

"Police say a naked man crashed a pickup truck into a Dallas mall, then drove over a few kiosks before driving into a Champs Sporting Goods store. Once inside the store, police say he left his blanket in the truck and started putting on clothes and a pair of Air Jordan shoes."


8:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


RE: Henry Giroux's Penn State article.Thanks for spotting that.

I think people would find it worthwhile.

The first part of a recent PBS Frontline special Dollars & Dentists profiles the way corporations have moved into lower income areas and basically targeted kids with their schemes.

An interesting point in the program showed how Medicaid payments were indeed sufficient in providing good care to kids - barring of course, corporate greed.

I just had a dental appt. here in S. Korea. Eighteen bucks above what was covered by National Health Plan for x-rays and the cleaning. I'm just a guest worker essentially.

Health and dental care in the US might better just be called a crime scene.

El Juero

10:50 AM  
Anonymous Savantesimal said...

Has anyone been following Onpoint since my previous post? Or am I the only one here who noticed this show?

Onpoint: In Praise of "Loafering"

Are we busy? Yes we are. Just ask us. Busy, busy, busy. All the time. Rushing here, rushing there. Almost boasting that we’re busy. Reveling in it. Lost in the rush and onslaught. My guests today say “come off it.” It’s time to slow down, before life rushes by in a blur.

Get lazy. Waste a little time. Open our eyes and ears and hearts to what’s around us. Rick Bragg reminds us of good old-fashioned “loafering,” for a southern pause. Tim Kreider says beware the “busy trap.”

This hour, On Point: Gone fishin’. We’re celebrating the slowed-down life. Nice ‘n easy.

[Yes. Rick Bragg is a Southerner and cites "loafering" as a specifically Southern virtue. WAFers will find the dicsussion extremely familiar. Why this need to be busy? Are Americans hiding from their own emptiness? The word "hustling" is said many times in the show.]

links to the articles written by the guests:
Rick Bragg: The Gift of Loafering
Tim Kreider in the NYTimes: The Busy Trap

yet another financial scandal has broken. The guy was fooling regulators for decades, just like Madoff. He finally confessed in his suicide note -- because if you're not a big financial success, you are nothing of course. But his suicide was not successful so he's now being charged.

Reuters: With ego too big to fail, Iowa broker admits 20-year fraud

Russell Wasendorf Sr, arrested on Friday, confessed to a 20-year fraud at his now-bankrupt Iowa brokerage, saying business troubles and his "big" ego left him no choice: "So I cheated."


5:01 PM  
Blogger Noah Linden said...


List the principles of Mittnism? Easy!

1.) Thou shalt make war upon helpless Third World peoples.
2.) Thou shalt believe that this is somehow sanctioned by the Bible, when in fact it is condemned by the Bible.
3.) Thou shalt have more oil in one's hair than the entire yearly output of petroleum from the Middle East.
4.) Thou shalt not protest, unless it is proto-fascist protest (Tea Party, for instance).
5.) Thou shalt be an insipid moron.
6.) ?????
7.) PROFIT!!!

As for foods, just make sure they're organic and not genetically engineered.

And slogans? I would suggest a T-shirt depicting a blossoming mushroom cloud being ridden by a cool, muscular surfer in nothing but a bathing suit and sunglasses.


6:07 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I very much like #3. We need to expand on this.


6:20 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Sad we have to go to a TV show that discusses the virtues of doing nothing. Socrates said it best 2500 years ago: Beware the barreness of a busy life.

8:38 PM  
Anonymous Smith said...

Here's something you might find interesting:


To put this in context: This comedian made a joke about a woman in the audience and how she should be gang raped by 5 people. Now people are outraged at him, and he's complaining that his freedom of speech is being threatened because "people get outraged too much."

God forbid that Americans learn a sense of common decency and manners, and not constantly expect "other people to not be too offended" when people are rude to them. No, now the responsibility is on them to "calm down and grow up" if our rude behavior hurts them.

America doesn't think in black and white. It literally thinks black IS white.

10:00 AM  
Anonymous abc said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

I tried to think of funny things to say about Mitt but he just isn't funny to me. I do see him however as a perfect symbol of capitalism-- entitled, self justifying, devoid of empathy, unethical, dismissive of the pain caused by exploitation, a love of luxury and image, a complete lack of imagination and a curious, inexplicable negation of history or the future. Who said it better than TS Eliot?

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in the dry grass
Or rats' feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death's other
Remember us--if at all--not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.

10:13 AM  
Anonymous Mike Alan said...

Hello All,

Here is the quote I posted in the last blog and a link to the rest of the story. It is a widely known theme here, but it's interesting to read it from a slightly different perspective.

"This is a rather important point to take on board for those who continue to patiently argue the case for Peak Oil: to a psychotic, anyone who disagrees with her is automatically the enemy, and, since psychotics create their own reality, it is just a tiny step for her to then declare that the Peak Oil movement actually caused Peak Oil and is therefore to blame. It is quite typical for a psychotic to project delusions onto others in an effort to make them act as parts of her own enraged, uncontrollable self, because identifying the threat as her own self leads to an uncontrollable panic. This type of projection is a psychotic's main means of exercising power over others. Now, let's keep in mind that confronting a delusional mob is not the same as confronting a delusional patient in a psych ward, where there is a red panic button on the wall that you can push at any time, and nurses will rush in to restrain and sedate the patient. We have to be careful: when a psychotic society acts out, there is no-one to restrain it."

Link: http://cluborlov.blogspot.com

Good luck to all in avoid the vast majority of psychopaths out there. It's like the movie They Live and we're the one's with the sunglasses who can see. They don't like the ones who can see.

10:23 AM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

The question of the day is right here...


A-a-and...why does 'Lemmings in Retreat' bring this to (my) mind ?


Do Friedman, Brooks, or Coulter have Secret Service protection ?
Then why in the world...oh, nevermind...if I get a terminal diagnosis I'll do it myself...

12:03 PM  
Anonymous Stone said...

Hello DAAers and WAFers,

Here is the big question raised by an article I just came across:

"Why is Wall Street full of psychopaths?"

A surprisingly high number of financiers have an "unparalleled capacity for lying," according to a new, unsettling report that's rattling the industry.

Read more at:

How d'ya like them apples?

Take care yo'all,

1:40 PM  
Anonymous Chaz Holmes said...

MB, I think you may have under-estimated the American people. I'm just not convinced that 99.9% of them have pureed vegetables for brains. My guess is that it's really closer to about 97.4%. That's means there's at least a few million functional-folks out there.

1:55 PM  
Anonymous shep said...


Joe Pa was a one in ten.

They all are that put leadership (individualism) above service.

4:10 PM  
Blogger Noah Linden said...

I agree with Chaz Holmes on this one. I actually know a fair number of people outside the vinyl-clad suburbs (where EVERYTHING is just WONDERFUL, all the time, even as everything crumbles around them) that understand that America has failed.

In the suburbs, however, I agree with the 99.9%. In fact, in the suburbs, the number of people with shit for brains is about 99.999%. They literally all believe in the candidate they voted for, seeing him as some kind of prophet or savior. Meanwhile, they go on lying and manipulating everyone around them, secretly hating just about everyone and everything.

As far as the T-shirt slogans go, well, there are other possibilities.

You could have one that says in big, bold letters:


I have a feeling, however, that this should be on the front of the T-shirt, not the back, and that something else belongs on the back.

As for the back...Maybe a picture of Jesus in a bitchin' leather jacket and dark sunglasses, insanely muscular and heavily tattooed, smoking a Marlboro Light and carrying a sub-machinegun...with his big ass boot stomping on a flat "Earth".

And then perhaps a caption underneath it all:



4:48 PM  
Anonymous Stone said...

This is how Dick Cheney expressed his support for Mitt Money's presidential bid:

"Cheney calls Romney the ‘only’ man able to lead through a crisis like 9/11"

Daz the Cheney criterion for being prez. Actually, 9/11 is the universal criterion for Big Dick -- the great political yardstick.

See article here:


6:53 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

America, land of constant innovation and novelty. Just today, 7-Eleven began selling mashed potatoes and chicken gravy from Slurpee machines. Now if this is not progress, then I don't know what is!

9:50 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Hell, I just may hafta move back to the US. Given the choice between a place where people are laid back and treat each other courteously, but where there are no Slurpeed potatoes and gravy, and a place where people treat each other like dirt but there *is* Slurpeed food--why, it's a no-brainer!


2:02 AM  
Blogger Zosima said...

Glenn Beck is selling T-shirts with a picture of Chief Justice John Roberts and the word “coward” written across it. Think of the mentality of a man who makes $5 million dollars a year and is driven to tears before millions of listeners, by the thought that someone may get healthcare who didn’t have it before. A true American hero.


Noah, speaking of planets if you put this phase

i believe that god lives on a planet called kolob

in google and click images, you get a great picture of Romney.
After Romney wins, let’s print up a bunch of T-shirts with this image and meet in DC on Inauguration Day. We could make a million dollars, who’s with me?!

3:27 AM  
Blogger Jimi Jones said...

Several people have forwarded me this article in the NY Times about the challenges of making friends:http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/15/fashion/the-challenge-of-making-friends-as-an-adult.html?_r=2&smid=fb-share&pagewanted=print

Apologies for the long URL and further apologies if it's been posted to this site already. There's a lot to consider in this piece. I'm about to turn 38 and I can definitely attest to the challenges of making friends. Part of my problem, I suppose, is my inability to fit in anywhere. I constantly feel like an outsider - when, for example, friends talk about their new iPad or iPod or iPoop the first thing out of my mouth is "I wonder how many of the slaves who worked on that are still alive?" - horribly declasse but I just can't stop myself. It is indeed, hard to make friends as you get older. It's also nearly impossible to make friends as you get more aware. Sigh.

9:20 AM  
Anonymous David M said...

Dr. B & DAAers
Back in my youth I read a book by Alvin Toffler titled Future Shock in which he relates cultural shock to the shock that occurs when change happen too fast for people to adapt or accept. This causes a psychosis in people and life becomes a blurr. It could be that those of us who see unrestictive growth, progress for progress's sake and change for change's sake as the cause for that blurr and those who don't(most folks) fall for the fanaticratic American fantasy.
Well! Mash potatoes and gravy from a slurpee machine; thats just too much.

On the subject of loafing I defer to Ray Davies and the Kinks(just a few verses from "Sitting in the Midday Sun").

Everybody say I'm lazy
They all tell me get a job you slob,
I'd rather be a hobo walking round with nothing
Than a rich man scared of losing all he's got.

So I'm just sitting in the midday sun
Just soaking up that currant bun,
Why should I have to give my reasons
For sitting in the midday sun

Oh look at all the ladies
Looking their best in their summer dresses,
Oh sitting in the sun.
I've got no home,
I've got no money
But who needs a job when it's sunny. Wah Wah.

I haven't got a steady occupation
And I can't afford a telephone.
I haven't got a stereo, radio or video
A mortgage, overdraft, a bank loan.

The only way that I can get my fun
Is by sitting in the midday sun
With no particular purpose or reason
Sitting in the midday sun.

Oh listen to the people,
Say I'm a failure and I've got nothing,
Ah but if they would only see
I've got my pride,
I've got no money,
But who needs a job when it's sunny. Wah Wah

9:31 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Well, you might try a different country. Not every nation deliberately cultivates stupidity and an endlessly competitive, dog-eat-dog mentality. Also, when your 'friends' take out their new iPoop, suggest to them that they are techno-buffoons who are destroying culture and community; that usually elicits a very positive response.


9:33 AM  
Blogger jerome langguth said...

Thanks to Tim Lukeman for his thoughtful reply to my last post, and for the Thomas Merton references. Merton is one of my favorites as well.

The following quote is from a piece written by Scott Shane and published in The New York Times over the weekend. Something about the glib corporate tone of the language and Shane’s “argument” for the moral superiority of drones (they are morally better than conventional weapons due to their "precision") struck me as a particularly monstrous example of the American techno-hustling discussed in WAF.

“For streamlined, unmanned aircraft, drones carry a lot of baggage these days, along with their Hellfire missiles. Some people find the very notion of killer robots deeply disturbing..."

The article can be accessed here: www.nytimes.com/2012/07/15/sunday.../the-moral-case-for-drones.html

10:14 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

A few days ago in Phnom Phen, Cambodia after a terrible rain there was a rather large puddle of water on the street. Cars approaching the puddle slowed down so as not to splash pedestrians. Anyone have this experience in the states?

10:21 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


This is the type of thing Robt Putnam calls "social capital." We pay no attn to it in the US, because it's more or less intangible, so we don't regard it as impt. When you get off an elevator in Mexico, you say to the other people, "con permiso"--excuse me. When you leave a restaurant, you say to the other diners, "buen provecho"--bon appetit. Every day there is less social capital in the US, and this is part of the process of our decline.


Sounds a bit like Otis Redding. Of course my all-time favorite is Procol Harum, who I think shd replace G.W. on the $1 bill. As for the $5: Rom Mittney, w/o a doubt.


10:38 AM  
Anonymous JPF said...

Actually there was a (serious?) push to put RayGunn (that drooling buffoon) on the $50 bill. Comedian John Fugelsang quipped that they should just put RayGunn's picture above Grant's and wait for it to trickle down.

12:44 PM  
Anonymous Rowdy said...

From that NYT article:

Lisa Degliantoni has downsized expectations in trying to make new friends. “I take an extremely efficient approach and seek out like-minded folks to fill very specific needs,” she said.

Errr.....that's how you recruit employees not find friends.

That article starts from a position that is 180 degrees wrong - if you want to find friends the first thing you shouldn't do is try to match people to what you consider to be suitable criteria for friendship.

2:21 PM  
Anonymous Savantesimal said...

Re: Mashed potatoes and gravy from a machine... you should check out the things that they sell through vending machines in Japan! In fact, check out the vending machines themselves. They are as large as many convenience stores. You can get nearly anything from these store-sized machines. Wikipedia: Vending Machines in Japan

Meanwhile, more doom-sayers are getting into the media. But who knows if the message is reaching anyone not already aware of decline.

The Diane Rehm Show: Jeff Faux on "The Servant Economy"

Jeff Faux of the Economic Policy Institute argues Americans are in denial. Everyone knows, he says, but no one faces up to the fact that the United States can no longer afford to have subsidized unregulated markets, be the world’s global power and provide a steadily rising standard of living. One of these is possible, maybe two, but not all three, according to Faux. No group -- and certainly no politician of either party -- is addressing this new reality, he contends. Despite public posturing to the contrary, it’s America's middle class that will be sacrificed on this current path. Please join us for a conversation with Jeff Faux on why he believes we’re moving from a service to a servant economy.

[Hey, there's a job that cannot be outsourced to India! Stocking vending machines!]
Also, a town in Alaska might have found a good solution to the disfunction of government. They have a cat as mayor. Cats don't know how to cut deals for anything but their dinner, so he can't mess up the government.

CNN: Cat has been mayor of Alaska town for 15 years

3:21 PM  
Blogger Noah Linden said...

The Cat Mayor incident strikes me as an indication that the people of this small Alaskan town are so selfish and so hostile toward one another that they were forced to elect this feline as mayor to avoid sparking an all-out, every-man-for-himself conflict.

I do not believe for one minute that this town is full of people so well-adjusted that they don't even need a functional government.

The same problem accounts for why there's such a low voter turnout in America. People have become apolitical because they find it hard to imagine someone who won't do tremendous amounts of damage while in office, as they project their own hostility onto the arena of politics in general instead of taking responsibility for their own aggressive drives.

7:11 PM  
Anonymous sanctuary! said...

Savantesimal said, "Hey, there's a job that cannot be outsourced to India! Stocking vending machines!"

Forgive me, I beg to differ. It is possible - and perhaps on the drawing board now, or being done - to make and stock vending machines in the same faraway nation and then ship them, full of Twinkies, Ding-Dongs, Ho-Hos, gravy, mashed potatoes, and tons of carcinogenic preservatives, all over the world. Where do the tomatoes in our neighborhood Wal-Marts come from, after all, if not from hundreds or even thousands of miles away? Only diff is that Super W-M employs cashiers...when it isn't investing in self-checkout machines.

12:36 AM  
Blogger ijcd said...

WTF? This is such an infantile nation (a serious case of CRE)... take a look at this, I need to make no further comments:

Is that a full botox body? How about wiring those nipples to 50,000 volts of electricity?...

We are the champions! Our reckless psychopaths will lead our great nation to become No. 1 again! Hooray! Yeehaw! Thanks gambling, thanks shale gas "fracking", thanks anti-workers nation, thanks HUSTLERS!

Excerpt of this ridiculous editorial:
"Many countries have shale gas, but, as it did with the internet revolution, America leads in exploiting it (see our special report this week). Federal money helped finance development of the “fracking” technology that makes shale gas accessible, just as it paid for the internet’s precursors. However its use was commercialised by a Texas wildcatter called George Mitchell, the sort of risk-taker America has in abundance. In Europe shale gas has been locked in by green rules and limited property rights. In America shale has already lowered consumers’ energy bills and, by displacing coal, carbon emissions. In future, it will give a spur to the domestic manufacture of anything needing large amounts of energy."

I had to post before heading off to work. Have a great day among zombies!


8:57 AM  
Anonymous Smith said...

Noah Linden, I apologize, but I'm going to politely disagree with you.

Given who our presidents have been ever since the Eisenhower administration -- John F. Kennedy, who began the processes that led to the war in Vietnam, Lyndon B. Johnson who admirably helped the cause of civil rights here at home but ruined people's lives abroad by continuing the Vietnam war, Richard Nixon and the Watergate scandal, Ronald Reagan who transformed the national character into being selfish and greedy, Bill Clinton who helped advance globalization and its consequent poverty, George W. Bush who added "warmonger" to the national character as Reagan had added "selfish and greedy", our current president Obama who gave himself the power to kill anyone in the world...

You say people can't imagine a non-destructive president because they project their own drives, but our presidents HAVE done a lot of damage while in office. The only real exception, as Morris Berman pointed out, was Jimmy Carter.

9:00 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

BBC reported that people are sending more text messages via their cell phone than actually talking on the phone. Great, 5-10 years from now anyone who actually talks on their phone will be considered dinosaurs. I suppose people are simply too lazy now to develop those social skills required to have a relatively decent conversation either on the phone or face to face. The human costs of course are incalculable as most DAAers are are more than fully aware.

11:41 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Well, greed began long before Ronald McDonald, that's fer sure. But then we need to think abt Millard Fillmore: one of my heroes.


If yr in the mood for a gd belly laugh around this topic, see if u can download an episode of "30 Rock" from a few yrs ago called "Greenzo". It's hysterical.


12:48 PM  
Blogger Bullshevik said...

I read "The Twilight of American Culture" but still haven't read "Why America Failed" (because my library doesn't have it yet). I look forward to reading posts on this blog because I'm becoming increasingly more frustrated and disillusioned with life in the present-day U.S. It is nearly impossible to carry on a meaningful conversation even with those I consider friends, especially those who call themselves "liberal." They are still loyal to the Democratic Party and refuse to criticize Obama (even after being critical for some time; now, as the election nears, they are back on board with full support and insisting we need to hold him "accountable"). One of my friends said we shouldn't abandon the party, we need to work hard to effect change and get them to do what we want.

I am no intellectual, but having discussions with the average American sometimes makes me feel like Einstein. I guess I will continue coming back to DAA and reading your occasional posts and the hundreds of reader responses. Thank goodness (I almost said "Thank God" but remembered I'm an atheists) that this site is here, or I think I would lose my mind.

Unfortunately, I am not financially capable of relocating to another country. I lost two jobs in one year, crawled back after being on Unemployment by finding some work online. I truly enjoy what I do though I earn very little (and have no health care, no paid vacation, no hope of retiring). Yet, in spite of my impoverished condition, I have less stress than friends working full-time jobs. They keep insisting I need to find something else and that I will, but I am not sure I could handle working in a setting with other Americans who spend most of their free time watching American Idol and texting all day.

2:41 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

A couple of very illustrative links for you that you might find interesting.

The first is about the Kony director who went mad. They're calling it "reactive psychosis." The official story is that it's due to a week of little sleep, dehydration and exhaustion. Newsweek, I believe correctly, points out that it could also be related to the fact that he was on Twitter and Facebook non-stop during that week-long period:


And, this one makes me pretty sad, frankly. A funeral home in South Carolina has decided that it's not tacky or weird in any way to set up a Starbucks franchise inside:


As if funerals weren't enough of a racket already!

3:08 PM  
Anonymous Savantesimal said...

The thing to realize about "destructive" Presidents is that they are not individually capable of changing the course of the government any more. Franklin Roosevelt launched a huge increase in government agencies and departments, mostly trying to help people, but now it has taken on a momentum of its own. Huge bureaucracies like the National Security Council and the State Department are constantly researching and formulating their own ideas about what government policies should be. Even if he brings some of his own staff along, any "elected President" is hugely outnumbered by the entrenched career bureaucrats. Usually a "President" can only sign the papers the agencies and departments put in front of him, it's just too difficult to unravel the complex policy analysis and argue about it.

The "national security" part of the government is especially out of control since 9-11-2001. Probably the last whistle blower who will get away with "defecting" is making the rounds now.

Network World: You're automatically suspicious until proven otherwise

NSA whistleblower Thomas A. Drake is backing the EFF's lawsuit over the government's massive spying program. Drake also had a lot to say about the establishment of a 'surveillance society' in America. In a video interview, he said it was ‘soft tyranny. It raises the specter of you're automatically suspicious until we prove that you're not. It raises the specter of a universal wiretap, a persistent universal wiretap on every single person, or if not, they can create one.'

5:27 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I really like yr handle. Hope yr library manages to purchase WAF. One way to make things easier on yrself, if you hafta live in the US, is just assume everyone u interact with is mentally ill, and therefore really can't help what they say, do, or think. If the assumption is a bit of a stretch, I wd say: only slightly. Or just treat them as young children, and pat them on the head.


7:04 PM  
Blogger Noah Linden said...


I would agree with everything you just said. Where did I say that our presidents haven't done incredible amounts of damage to the world?

What are you disagreeing with me about? I'm confused.

7:17 PM  
Blogger Noah Linden said...


I would not disagree with anything you just wrote. I only think that American presidents have been so destructive because Americans themselves are so destructive, generally speaking.

America has never had a foreign power install a puppet government. All its elections have been free. Americans have gotten the Presidents they wanted, by and large.

7:18 PM  
Blogger Noah Linden said...


Maybe what I just said was confusing. Foreign countries have never installed a puppet government where an elected American government should be. Therefore, Americans are fully responsible for the Presidents that have been elected.

And while Americans may have been fooled by the corporate media, they WANTED to be fooled. Most Americans have a totally hostile relationship with truth.

7:20 PM  
Anonymous From Imbecileville said...

I am sure this is not news to either Morris or most of the people commenting here, but the U.S. is actually something like a third world country today, according to a new book by a respected U.N. statistician and economist. Here is a link to the interview that I caught with him today on the local NPR station. Again, there is nothing here that anyone who has traveled abroad or even a casual reader of the NYT doesn't already know, but the facts and figures that this guy throws out (like the U.S. Constitution that everyone is supposed to mindlessly worship is a relic of democratic thinking and values from another era) are quite refreshing.


I've got to say, I really envy Morris and the others who have been able to turn tail to this country.

7:54 PM  
Anonymous shep said...


Sorry to say, BUT, this country has had NO
Presidents who were worth a sack of ..., including Carter.
They all have had major faults e.g., Wilson: White supremacist, LIncoln: White supremacist, Teddy Roosevelt, murderer, and on and on.

8:22 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Pls try to keep it down to 1 post a day, por favor. Thanx.


In terms of real poverty, something like 1/3 of the country is in that category, and 2/3 of the nation lives from paycheck to paycheck, in terror of an accident or sudden unanticipated expense. Top 1% of the nation has more wealth than the bottom 90%--as if "bottom 90%" even made any sense. Health care, infant mortality rates, education, incarceration--we are, in a nutshell, a disaster.



8:25 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Here's a nice little illustration of American Cranial Rectitis, aka Buffoons On Parade (I love it and I can't get enuf of it):


9:06 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

And in the same vein, there's this:


So a new phrase has entered the English language: "smash mob." I like it because it sounds so stupid; it seems quintessentially American. Are Americans "smash people"? Is Obama a "smash president"? Do we have a "smash culture"? Wafers are invited to submit their favorite smashes.


3:32 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...


I sometimes consider myself an anthropologist on a long-term research assignment, living in the midst of this strange culture & observing its peculiarities (to put it mildly).

For example, there's a TV ad for Optimum online service in which a young married couple happily proclaims, "Our daughter was on Facebook before she was born!" They go on to detail how they can download endless photos, record every aspect of life -- which apparently is something to be experienced at a digital remove, rather than directly. I see this & marvel at the detached worldview being espoused & sold to the public.

My wife & I were walking in the local park, and we spotted a young deer through the underbrush. A boy of about 11 or 12 came by on his bike, spotted the deer, and immediately whipped out his cellphone to take a video. So he'll be experiencing a recorded image of the deer, rather than the precious, fleeting moment of actually Being With the deer.

Isn't this essentially Guy Debord's argument in The Society of the Spectacle? That life is increasingly mediated by images rather than direct contact? Thus we have a public that finds the digital to be as real (or more real) than life itself; and as a result, that much more detached from a feeling life of direct experience. Other people really aren't real -- they're YouTube moments, mawkish or demonic one-dimensional media constructs, blips in the ratings system of current existence. Even we aren't really real, unless we're preserved online.

You don't have to be courteous or considerate to an image. You certainly don't have to empathize with it. This is the "individualism" that so many seek today.

It saddens & scares the hell out of me.

9:41 AM  
Blogger Noah Linden said...


I will do just that. The problem before is that I realized after posting that I wasn't at all clear in how I expressed my thoughts. :P

Tim Lukeman,

You've hit the nail on the head. Great insight there, and well put. In a society dominated by electronic images, people see everything, including other people, as images, to be tailored to their aesthetic pleasure...or, if this is not possible, eliminated without a second thought.

This is why image-obsessed, illiterate people are usually so comfortable with and supportive of war, torture, and the destruction of the environment. They subconsciously believe that the people, animals and lands that are being destroyed are nothing more than images.

Of course, this kind of thinking is the epitome of narcissism, which is why narcissism has been shown by study after study to be steadily increasing as the lives of Americans are becoming more and more image-based.

10:59 AM  
Anonymous Julian said...

I really hate to interrupt this torrent of bitching about America's collapse, but I really think you guys (and only guys) should watch this immediately:


All I've got to say is, "Mammmmmaa!!!"

I now return you to bitching about America's collapse, already in progress (and long overdue)

5:18 PM  
Anonymous shep said...


I see where Nomi Prins and Paul Craig Roberts wrote an article together.

PCR is no Nomi Prins.

Wonder why she would give him the time of day knowing he is a Reaganite and free market fool. He is the opposite of E. F. Schumacher.

Any ideas. You know her well. No?

6:15 PM  
Anonymous Mr. X. said...

Apropos of nothing, and everything…

Paul Rosenberg's column (In Al Jazerra, one of the last real news sources) about a new study of the USA's ranking against the other 30 OCED nations, along 56 dimensions.

Can you all chant "We're number 29!"?


It's no comfort to learn we're right. Well… maybe a little.

6:23 PM  
Anonymous FatCat said...

FatCat here! So bow down and worship me!

Look, I don’t wanna hear no more stinkin’ bitchin’ about housing prices, food prices, gas prices, or whatever. Is that clear??

This is MY country now. I own it, and I own all of you little serfs. Got that?! I own you! You are my servants. All of you, you worthless peons. And I’ll have my way with you every which way I want to. Why? Because I can, that’s why! I am your master, and I love to see you squirm under MY FatCat iron boot. I own your homes, I own your cars, I own your jobs. I own your politicians, and I own your life. And I own the police, who serve and protect ME. Is that clear?!

So let’s get this straight: I don’t wanna hear no more bitchin, or else I’ll tighten the screw even more. Get used to your lives. And get ready for more ass kickin’. I got MY police, MY Army, MY Navy, MY marines, MY drones, MY TSA, MY FEMA camps, and I’m gonna set them loose on you real soon now, you worthless pieces of crap you. You just watch what I have in store for you!

Is that clear?!!!


9:11 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I luv u. Yr my kinda guy. Mittney Forever!


You shd probably ask her. She has a blog, u cd write her abt it; I'm sure she's open to discussion.


12:24 AM  
Blogger ijcd said...

Thanks Julian! That was so adorable! I don't care how many women complain, but Oh boy! Now I can go sleep tight!

Back to social collapse... Well, I'd better keep my mouth shut at work!

1:08 AM  
Blogger ijcd said...

Hey MB, I think George Carlin beat you to WAF... just joking:

George Carlin the illusion of freedom

Also, for good laughs:
George Carlin on Fat People

George Carlin - Why You Are In Debt

1:42 AM  
Anonymous Julian Zero said...


I bow down and worship thee, your highness. YOU are my master and my lord. I am at YOUR service. How may I better serve YOU? I am awaiting YOUR command.
Signed: a nobody that goes by "Julian" (but YOU may call me "zero").


This an example of yet another minor daily event occurring all over the place in a country that already sank into collective psychosys:

"At least 14 confirmed killed at Dark Knight Rises premiere shooting in Colorado movie theater"


Julian (aka Zero)

7:40 AM  
Anonymous JWO said...

Everyone's favorite lunatic, congressperson Bachmann must have missed the spotlight because she is back at it, but bringing even more crazy this time:

7:52 AM  
Anonymous Stone said...

To Shep:

Re. Paul Craig Roberts.

Roberts has become very radicalized since the Reagan years. He is so radical that he is now persona non grata in the mainstream media, he who used to work for the Wall Street Journal.

Evidence? See, for example, this sampling of articles of his at Global Research:


In other words, he has a lot in common with Nomi Prims, who also used to be an "insider."


10:44 AM  
Anonymous Mikbeth said...

Dr. Berman:

I just purchased Dark Ages and have begun reading it. I am relieved to find out I am not insane. I have long known something was wrong with this culture and country and have always been out of step with it. Unfortunately, I succumbed to the belief that I was wrong and that I had problems as so many people told me. If you hear it enough you start to believe it.

I can't leave as I am now saddled with all of the modern trappings, overpriced house and a confused wife and two kids one of whom is autistic. Strangely, the thought of this country's continuing deterioration seems a relief! I'm tired of having to believe this is the greatest country on earth as they say.

Looking forward to reading more.


10:46 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Sorry to hear u can't get out; that is, by far, the best solution. For the alternative solution, check out the prequel to DAA, Twilight of Amer. Culture. For the explanation of why the place is a disaster, see the sequel to DAA, Why America Failed. There's also some relevant stuff 4u in the 1st half of A Question of Values.

Your response, which I appreciate, is the common one to my work (over the yrs): I thought I was nuts until I read this. Yr not nuts; yr just living in a demented, dopamine-soaked culture. In fact, "neurotic" doesn't even begin to describe it.

Welcome to the blog-


12:29 PM  
Anonymous From Imbecileville said...

When I woke up this morning to the news of the shooting in CO, my first reaction was, "sounds like Al Qaeda got one off again." But, of course, it was just another instance of the garden-variety random mass killing that has become an accepted part of American life.

We spend trillions on a "war on terror" and sacrifice our constitutional liberties to fight a relatively few radicalized Muslims dispersed all over the world, while at home any Joe, including a mentally disturbed one, can get his hands on some serious weaponry to murder and terrorize the population.

It's really a marvel that things in this country even function as they do under the weight of this much irrationality. Perhaps, this is where all the medication, legal and illegal, comes in.

12:52 PM  
Anonymous TonyU said...

I have just returned from Nebraska. I had to travel to there to manage my rental property. The weather is terrible there. It was very difficult to breathe due to humidity. My friend who lives there told me it was not this bad in this past – apparently the weather is changing pretty badly.

The violence in US is getting out of control. Some guy kills homeless people and then signs his name on the death warrants: “"death warrant" notes were signed "David Ben Keyes." For now, police only want to bring Keyes in for questioning”


Why kill homeless people who are down on their luck???

The shootings in the theater happened closed to my house in Aurora, Colorado. None of my family members were in the theater. One of my daughters was crying this morning because they always go to movies at the theater where the shootings took place.

1:13 PM  
Anonymous Smith said...

Oh god, speaking of being autistic...

I have Asperger's disorder, and frequently when I try to bring up the points raised on this blog as well as other dissenting authors by Lewis Mumford to other people, my disorder gets used as an excuse not to listen to me or give my argument a fair and serious hearing.

If, for example, I claim that America repeatedly kills and tortures people in other countries or that we are about to enter the Dark Ages or that our civil liberties are being shredded, people think I'm "thinking in black and white" because I have Asperger's.

Or, if I claim that there really are intellectual tools that help humans live at peace with each other and figure out reality, and that maybe Americans need to value books more than they do their television shows, I'm told I'm being "rigid and unreasonable" because of my Asperger's.

It's bad enough that the Republicans think in Manichean terms, black and white; but I live among (theoretically) educated Democrats, and they commit the opposite sin of relativism (there is no such thing as truth, all opinions are equally valid regardless of thought, experience, or knowledge), so there's no way to get them to consider that there really is an objective reality, that there really are intellectual tools necessary to figure out reality, and that having a "broad" view of the world means considering all-new ways of life, not mindlessly accepting the opinions of the mob.

I get some comfort from this blog, but it's cold comfort: at least I know I'm not crazy.

2:34 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Knowing yr not crazy may be more than just cold comfort, in this country. Here's a really gd formula: just assume anyone u meet, if s/he is an American, is brain damaged. That way, u can never go wrong, and u won't spend a lotta time in useless discussions. Also, it's fairly close to the truth.

Regarding Colorado:

You can bet that the same tired formulas that were applied to Virginia Tech and elsewhere, will be applied again:

1. The shooter was a 'loner', psychotic, and just went bananas.

2. This event has nothing to do w/social context or the sort of society we live in; oh no.

3. It's a terrible, terrible thing.

4. We need to set up some sort of panel or commission to investigate it.

5. Then we will forget it, until the next massacre, and mechanically repeat steps 1-4.

Coda: The depths of our violence and stupidity, nationwide, will never cross our minds, not even for a moment.

5:21 PM  
Anonymous Zero (the artist formerly known as Julian) said...

Every American with a half brain needs to prepare his or her escape out of that asylum. However, you should plan your escape carefully. It may take a few years to bring it to fruition. One question to answer is what will you do to earn a living abroad. To answer that, I suggest you explore what can you possibly *get* from America that will be useful to you abroad. Despite the rapid collapse of the country, some of its elements still enjoy a positive perception abroad. One such element is education. American degrees are still widely recognized in many desirable parts of the world, while those from other countries (although of superior quality) are not.

For example, my wife is a European-trained dentist that can practice in the EU but not in the US. Dentist training in Europe is more rigorous than in the US (e.g., 6 vs. 4 years of schooling), yet, despite the inferior training of US dentists, they have a much easier time in getting to work in other parts of the world (e.g., Singapore) than a European dentist. So, for me and my family, it makes sense to return to the US so my wife can spend 2 years to get a US dentist degree, which she can then use in a saner part of the world. In your case it may be a master’s degree, or maybe a special kind of training not readily available abroad. Don’t worry about the student loans – in a year or two the whole financial system is going to collapse anyway, so loans will be jubileed out. But you will be left with a useful degree.

Just my 2 cents.

Zero (the artist formerly known as “Julian”)

PS -- El Juero: I too watched the Frontline documentary about US dentistry. Indeed, dentistry, just like the rest of US health care is a total and complete crime scene. It’s beyond criminal. This is why I made it clear to my wife that I will never agree to spend more time in the US than a few more years, and that only to better prepare our escape. And yes, this is a traditional family, where the husband (that would be me) has veto power :)

8:09 PM  
OpenID alphistia said...

Dear Prof Berman,

I think it is good advice to consider nearly all Americans brain damaged...although I think it is more brainwashing...but in any case it amounts to the same thing: a deeply dysfunctional society.

The killings in Colorado last night have brought out the all the usual tripe about pulling together, Americans united in their grief etc. The tv is full of carefully (or NOT so carefully!) measured words from politicians and opinion makers, united in their propaganda that there will be no change whatsoever in the easily availability of assault weapons and guns. The NRA and the fleabaggers control the debate totally and Obama certainly will not call for any sort of gun control. These annual/semi-annual massacres are treated largely the same as unpredictable weather patterns, like a tornado that destroys a town and kills and maims dozens of people.

But you are right, absolutely nothing will change, because as the sadly departed Joe Bageant wrote often, Americans live in a reality that is not a reality at all, but a hologram that is constructed by the elites, blasted daily by the media propaganda machine, and everyday life is structured so that people feel insecure, harried, and powerless (while believing that actually control their destinies through brand preference). Almost no Americans even have the ability to know they are being cheated out of their real lives.

Also, the state apparatus doesn’t even bother much anymore with step 4 that you mention - there will likely be no panel or commission. As I said, Americans believe these attacks on themselves are akin to acts of nature so why try to change behavior when confronted with “climate”?

11:27 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Thanks for writing. That line, "being cheated out of their real lives," goes to the heart of the matter, and is probably why I wrote the 'America' trilogy. The # of examples of this that come to mind is literally endless. Many yrs ago I was a tutor at an all-black school in the DC inner city, and watched the male students all thinking that they wd be rap stars or sports figures, and make millions. The stats, of course, are that they will live poor and violent lives, and do jail time. It was a charter school, the principal was the son of a U.S. senator, wanting to do some good in the world; but as he well knew, he couldn't change the culture of the ghetto. The odd thing is that although they live much better lives, materially speaking, Wall St. billionaires are being cheated out of their real lives as well. Perhaps this was ultimately the pt of my bk, Why America Failed: how can you succeed when you never come from a true spiritual center, and don't even understand what that might be? "The pursuit of happiness" (except that 'happiness' needs to be in quotes) was sewn into the American psyche even b4 the Declaration: satisfaction is always delayed, always over the horizon. So the real history of the US is that of hamsters on a treadmill--competing with other hamsters, in an ever-escalating emotional climate. It gets to all of us in certain ways; and once in a while, someone goes absolutely berserk and knocks off a few people at a movie theater or whatever. This never results in addressing the nature of the American pressure cooker (which includes the gun culture); oh no, let's just say the guy was a loner, a nut job, and so on, so that these events--which occur w/great regularity in the US as you pt out--can be labeled 'aberrations'. Sure, like Vietnam was an 'aberration' from US foreign policy, right.

I think this is what makes me ultimately patriotic (tho many wd laugh at that): the sheer waste of a system that turns 311 million people into morons, brainwashed into throwing their lives away while thinking This is the only way to live. A nation so bewitched by the idea of More that it finally winds up with Nothing. That can't be right.


6:46 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

Dr Berman:

I like the statement of a friend of mine who told me once, "We should be pursuing "contentment", instead of, "happiness".

7:19 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I guess I have problems w/the word "pursue," which still evokes the image of the hamster, regardless of the target. Perhaps it might be better to say, "we should allow contentment (or happiness) to occur, to enter our lives." "There is no wealth but life" (Ruskin).


9:00 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

An ingenious law was just passed in Pennsylvania- Act 82 in which 50% of both a teacher's and a school administrator's evaluation will be based on standardized test results thus setting in motion a system of mutual destruction; that is, administrators will now come down even more harshly on teachers, teachers will be antagonistic to those who have the better students thus destroying any kind of faculty cohesion,and of course all will come down mercilessly on the students especially on those who have a history of doing poorly on such tests. Then if one of the students acts out from all the pressure being applied to him or her from all sides that student will be rendered dysfuctional in need of immediate remedial help.
To ameliorate this I will propose to the principal of my school that the best thing we can do is for all to work together as a team in a stress-free environment. Sure, she'll listen to that.

9:46 AM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

Just a reminder that we have had these 'psychotic loners' for a while.
This one was about 46 years ago.
Probably not the first to snap and go multi-postal.
But the first one I remember getting the 'full court press' media coverage.


10:03 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

I wonder if this urgent haste to pin all the blame on one twisted individual is just another aspect of American uber-individualism -- as you say, MB, no looking at the society at large, or the cultural influences that shape us all -- just one person, as if he consciously made a choice to "do evil" for its own sake. Alphistia is quite right in saying that the media & the public react to such horrors as if they're forces of nature beyond human control.

And let's say it is decided that the shooter is mentally ill. Will there be any reflection on WHY so many young white men become mentally ill in just this way? Or that we're immersed in a culture that glorifies & encourages violence as a first & only response to any affront, real or imagined? That we create a populace with such a frail or non-existent sense of self that violence seems to only way of proving one's existence? And by that I mean economic & spiritual violence as much as physical.

What's especially horrifying is that everyone expects these things now. They know it's just a matter of time before the next one happens -- which, invariably, will attempt to top the previous one in its scope & horror, because EVERYTHING in America boils down to competition. The media will saturate us with it in its endless coverage, even as it purports to be seeking understanding. And the public will be able to indulge in violent fantasies of revenge -- just read some of the comments posted to online stories about the shooting, and see all the ingenious methods of slow & agonizing death that are recommended for this latest shooter.

And no one -- well, no one that anyone would listen to, anyway -- will look beyond those 5 steps that MB lists.

10:05 AM  
Anonymous David M said...

Dr. B
In one short paragraph you are able to layout the fundamental problem, in a succint and clear approach, the root of our demise. It would seem that anyone reading it would grasp your analysis and come to the same conclusion. I understand why intelligent folks on the right dismiss it. They want to make more money. But for the life of me I don't understand why progressive intellectuals, those who claim to want to creat a just society do. It must be fear that keeps them from taking the ball and running with it. They have so many resources they can pull from (Thereau, Emerson, King, Hedges, Zinn, Berman the Bible, the Tao the Quran just ot name a few). I listened to two talks, one by Paul Krugman and one by Robert Riech, even after the 2008 disaster and the obvious impending evironmental calamity they are still pushing growth capitalism and consuption(getting people back to work so they can buy somthing). I don't consider myself the smartist cookie in the box but how is it that I see this is not the answer and these two highly trained and intelligent economist don't.

Zero(the artist formerly known as Julian)
I was ask by my former dentist not to come for treatments anymore (cleanings) because I wasn't spending enough money to make it worth his while. He wanted clientele who needed cosmetic or major repair/restoration procedures.
BTW you have inspired me to want to change my name to Nobody (the farmer formerly known as David M.)

10:49 AM  
Anonymous Michael in BK said...

The Onion says it best, IMHO:


11:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alexander Cockburn died of last night of cancer at the age of 71 as reported by Jeffery St Clair.I am sure many readers of this blog will miss Alex.I would like to my gratitude to Alex for his wonderful writings.Thanks Paul

11:31 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Anon (not Paul)-

I'm not posting anything from Anons anymore. Pls pick a handle, and I'll be glad to run yr comment.


Ultimately, the Left is no more insightful that the Right. Every American believes in 'progress' and 'growth', as have all socialist regimes as well (think of Five Year Plans etc.). Yet this ideology is precisely the cause of the problem. So the news is finally boring, because we just go round in circles. Within the given system, there can be no end to the Obamas and the Romneys, the Va. Techs and Auroras. Nothing less than the end of hustling, the end of capitalism, and the end of More--by which I mean the shift to a steady-state economy--is going to save us; but that has no voice and is literally off the radar screen. We'll arrive there anyway, because finally there will be no choice; but falling into it ass-backwards is hardly the best way to go about it. This is why, as I argue in WAF, it's really important to listen to Vann Woodward and Gene Genovese on the antebellum South, and see the Civil War in larger terms than slavery, as important as that was. I too am amazed at how blind even really intelligent Americans are, trapped in a dying paradigm and not being able to discuss real alternatives. One could say that this blindness is part of our decline, and therefore will hasten it along; so perhaps there's value in it, after all. But wouldn't it be great to make the inevitable shift with our eyes open? But no, let's just stay stuck in the same box, vilify everything we don't like, come at everything from an emotional base (=sloganeering) and call it 'thinking'.

I tell u, even if all of this is boring and predictable, it still is, at the present moment in world history, the greatest (absurd) show on earth.


That Onion piece is an excellent summary of American CRE.


12:13 PM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

I agree with Stone's assessment of PCR.

If you read some of his columns you can see him advocating regulation against the free-wheeling finance practices of the big banks and regulation in favor of environmental protection.

If you do nothing more than watch the clip below, you'll see why Stone's characterization of him as persona non grata amongst his old homies is spot on.

I was suspicious at first, based on his former gang affiliation, but he seems to have removed his trickle-down tattoos (and old ideological blinders, too) and morphed into someone who often makes a lot of sense.

He's a sort of Old Right guy...the kind that Carl Oglesby had in mind way back in the day when he said that "in a strong sense, the Old Right and the New Left are morally and politically coordinate".


12:24 PM  
Anonymous Mr. X. said...

The Onion piece about Aurora missed…

...the tsuami of social media paying tribute and expressing condolences, many using "r" instead of "are", occurring immediately;

…the internet scam soliciting money to support the victims families, or erect a tribute, occurring six hours in;

…the neuroscienctist, explaining how at some level our minds can not really distinguish between Aurora and an episode of Criminal Minds, occurring never.

12:41 PM  
Anonymous shep said...



That is what my friend meant.

1:48 PM  
Anonymous Zero said...

David M,

I too know dentists like that in America – crazed up by greed and arrogance. American doctors in general are defined by arrogance, incompetence, and extreme greed -- disgusting human beings, really. I hope, when the revolution starts, doctors will be the next in the guillotine line, after the banksters. Anyway, if you ever need major dental work, I’d just take a trip to Mexico – you would probably save 90% of the US costs and get higher quality dental work too. And, by the way, dentists all over the world use the same exact materials, procedures, and equipment, so don’t buy the bullshit that US dentistry is superior to that of other nations -- it’s the same everywhere.

One of the things that makes me dread the most returning (temporarily) to the US is the health insurance situation there. I can’t even tell you how lower is my anxiety living in Romania, a country with socialized medicine. And how much more civilized life can be to have access to a doctor anytime without going broke. Initially we were thinking of going to San Francisco because that city has a form of socialized medicine. But now we are leaning more toward Vermont because elementary schools are better and that state sounds a little saner. I’m not sure about the health insurance situation in Vermont, though, and I’m almost afraid to find out -- if anybody has any info to share, I’d appreciate it.

PS – interacting with FatCat above, made me realize my insignificance, and thus I had to change my name to Zero. But I must confess, I still get the urge to spell it as “Zerro”, kind of like a play on “Zorro”, hoping that one day I get to kick FatCat’s ass around the block, if only in my imagination :)

1:55 PM  
Anonymous Joe doesn't know said...

Alas, an article already appeared politicizing the shootings. "Should CO shooting enter into political debate?". The article included responses from both of the clowns running for prez, and of course included a bit of how each respective ideology will make these types of tragedies less likely. I didn't even post the link, because my fellow DAAers can imagine the bullshit. And of course, there was already an article attempting to identify "clues" from the shooter's past that indicated why he did it, and statements like "quiet" and "moody" were there. Nothing about how this will probably happen more and more frequently...acts of "terrorism" which are really due to a sickening, pathological culture. Psychopaths Without a Cause, thanks to the land of existential angst. Sigh....

3:18 PM  
Anonymous Joe doesn't know said...


just a PS to my last post, to add a bit of levity. effing hilarious. gotta love the onion.

3:24 PM  
Anonymous Zero said...

Regarding the Aurora, CO, shooting, what I find particularly odd is that a few weeks ago Alex Jones was issuing warnings that some kind of major event might occur at the release of this Dark Knight Batman movie. It is not the first time that Alex Jones seems to have some kind of advance information about yet-to-occur events. He is either some kind of Nostradamus, or he’s privy on something very sinister going on. Of course, on his show he supports the sinister explanation.

7:36 PM  
Anonymous sanctuary! said...

Zero, surely you can make do without the bullshit US degree?

The US should be given no credence by anyone. I can't stand the perpetuation of the US superiority myth - in anything.

Speaking humorously now, I must say that your rather anxiety-producing posts about returning here to get more money remind me of all the corny old movies about a reformed person who returns to the old neighborhood "for one last score." I trust and hope that your real-life situation bears no resemblance to such fictional dreamworlds. Please, however, continue to take great care; the US really isn't a safe place. It has deteriorated very noticeably even in the past 5 years. As a movie character might quip, "Good luck, you're gonna need it."

9:16 PM  
Anonymous TimR said...

I read somewhere that when mercury fillings first came into play (19th cen.) the prof asscn of the day rejected them. But they were so cheap & profitable that the exiled dentists who used them eventually triumphed and started their own prof assn! Which has reigned unto this very day.

Now there are some alternative dentists who won't use mercury amalgams (& other mainstream techniques) but they are vilified and blackballed from prof assns. The two sides dispute safety concerns of course.

On a somewhat related topic, I highly recommend "The Fluoride Deception" for a fascinating expose of some mid-20th cen history that reads like a novel.

9:37 PM  
Anonymous shep said...

Stone and infanttyrone:

I appreciate your comments!

As u know, Ms. Prins cd not have been closer to the top. She was a Managing Director for one of the most destructive forces around.

PCR is much better known to me because I have read most of his stuff over the last two or three years and he also was as close to the top as possible, so, at one time, they WERE the problem.

Did you know PCR has responded, in recent history, via comments on Op-Ed, refuting that Pinochet did any thing wrong? So... he thinks Naomi Klein’s book on disaster capitalism is bogus? He simply blames anything and everything on “ignorant Liberals” when it doesn’t fit his view.

He is an Ayn Rand Ideologue, on steriods, identical to Ron Paul, and says so. (not the steroids part)

I consider him to be a mole because of the above reasons, however, I am in error.

But, for me, there has to be something really rotten about the man. (He also avoids questions about E. F. Schumacher, Henry George, or Thorstein Veblen - real economic thinkers)

It is therefore hard for me to figure out why Ms. Prins bows and scrapes in such awe to such a massively free market, Chicago Boy, twerp. I am positive he eats it up.

Humble people are genuine versus the pumped up hucksters that always pursue.

Other Random Comments:

Wouldn’t it be great for a European nation to designate the USA a “Terrorist State”.

Isn’t autism man made? Surely to some degree? Fluoride?

I really hate that Alexander Cockburn is gone. What a proser.

Read the other day where some male college scholarship athletes now take “Consumer Economics.” (Used to be called “Home Economics”) This can’t be.

“It is hard as hell not to comment on this blog. Constantly.” - Shep

7:43 AM  
Anonymous TonyU said...

Face your reality: America spends more money on guns than the entire world combined, and Americans are becoming poorer by the day due to the fact that they spend all their energy and money on guns, conflicts, and wars:

US poverty on track to rise to highest since 1960s

“That James Holmes is insane, few may doubt. Our gun laws are also insane, but many refuse to make the connection. The United States is one of few developed nations that accepts the notion of firearms in public hands. In theory, the citizenry needs to defend itself. Not a single person at the Aurora, Colo., theater shot back, but the theory will still be defended.”


World's Top Military Spenders: U.S. Spends More than Next Top 14 Countries Combined

Obama told us to reflect and think about how life is precious and short. Well, nothing will change because he is the biggest hypocrite, spending more on wars and killings than Bush and James Holmes.

9:22 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

I just thought of a new item for my famous Wafer T-shirt line:


It may be a tad too esoteric, tho.

Also, how about:

r.u. a Wafer?

(very esoteric, but Oh so chic)


9:31 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

Obama failed to add that life isn't necessarily precious (although it is short) if you're on the receiving end of a drone while at a wedding or simply walking down the street. But of course that's on the other side of the globe, and collateral damage is an unfortunate but unavoidable side effect of bringing freedom & democracy to the benighted of the world.

The CBS Sunday Morning story about the shooting ended with a somber reflection on (paraphrasing from memory here) those with dark minds who bring horror & death to the innocent. But I don't think they were talking about drones either.

If anyone raised this point in a conversation today, they'd be reviled & condemned, rather like Susan Sontag after 9/11 when she suggested that an explanation for that horror might be found in an examination of US foreign policy.

I'm not minimizing what happened in Aurora. It sickens me to think about someone planning & executing such a monstrous act. But presumably sane & patriotic men & women plan & execute the deaths of innocent people every day, and are awarded medals for it.

9:59 AM  
Anonymous Stone said...

To Shep:

I have read many articles by Paul Craig Roberts, and none bears out your claims.

I provided easily verifiable evidence for the content of my assertions regarding Roberts.

Furthermore, the mole charge is very dubious in view of the fact that Roberts's activities as a writer and as a person have been made much more difficult by his interventions on the Web, particularly his very critical stance on the official version of 9/11 and U.S. foreign policy.

Since you mention Alexander Cockburn, let's take his example. Cockburn has described people in the 9/11 Truth movement as "conspiracy nuts ("The 9/11 Conspiracy Nuts," ZNet, Sept. 20, 2006; see also his articles on the same topic in The Free Press of 9/16/06 and Le Monde Diplomatique of 12/06). I don't agree with Cockburn. However, my disagreement with him on this one issue does not lead me to accuse him of being a mole and dismiss all of his writings.

To be brief, for why I disagree with Cockburn, see what architects, engineers, physicists, and chemists say in the video "9/11: Explosive Evidence: Expersts Speak Out" at AE911Ttruh.org.

Incidentally, this sentence of yours makes no sense to me:
"I consider him to be a mole because of the above reasons, however, I am in error."


11:10 AM  
Anonymous Smith said...

There's something else related to the Aurora shootings you might find interesting:

As you know, the shootings took place at a showing of The Dark Knight Rises.

What's interesting is that the filmmaker explicitly intended Bane, the faux-populist character who uses revolt as a cover to kill off everyone, as a representative of an Occupy Wall Street protestor.

So the Dark Knight Rises is now being used as fodder for conservatives to stick it to those darn OWS people.

12:00 PM  
Anonymous shep said...


I believe I have read every thing he has ever posted on op-ed and counterpunch.

He doesn't write about certain agendas so it is impossible to uncover his hidden thoughts. Pretty slick this way. That's what I mean by mole. (Moyers asked Hedges today on "Moyers and Company". M: Do journalists always have to take sides? H: Yes M: Not necessarily to deceive though. Some do, I know, but... H: Right, but we do. M: "WE CHOOSE THE FACTS WE WANT TO ORGANIZE--!!!" (this is PCR)

I had a personal experience with him too. He wrote an article some time back and there were several people who brought up Pinochet and Naomi Klein's book "The Shock Doctrine" in comments that were responsive to his article. (Have you had the good fortune to read it?) Well, in his WRITTEN response, PR claimed that Pinochet did nothing wrong and that the coup carried out by the CIA and the financiers on Wall Street was a fabrication and a conspiracy theory of the "ignorant Liberals". WTF!

You must have a blind eye because you admire PR AND Rand (Paul & Ayn) and globalization ( proven not to work except for the sociopaths).

I was surprised at Cockburn also about 911 because I am convinced that Cheney, without reading a thing, at least, knew. He is the biggest pus bag of them all.

P.S. The sentence you do not understand is because it contains an error. Shud have been: "I may be in error."

1:43 PM  
Blogger Noah Linden said...

More T-shirt slogans:

On the front: BOOKS ARE FOR FAGGOTS!!! On the back: AMERICA'S NO. 1!!!


On the front: Vote Obama 2012!

On the back: Vote Romney 2012! They're both the same! :)

2:45 PM  
Anonymous Jessica said...

Arizona Republican Senate candidate, Russell Pearce, is now blaming the victims as cowards and weaklings. Russell Pearce says this:

"What a heart breaking story. Had someone been prepared and armed they could have stopped this "bad" man from most of this tragedy. He was two and three feet away from folks, I understand he had to stop and reload. Where were the men of flight 93???? Someone should have stopped this man. Someone could have stopped this man. Lives were lost because of a bad man, not because he had a weapon, but because none was prepared to stop it. Had they been prepared to save their lives or lives of others, lives would have been saved."


More sentiments like Pearce's:

"One of the most shocking realization emerging from the James Holmes Batman movie shooting rampage in Aurora, Colorado is the fact that nobody apparently tried to stop the shooter. This is absolutely baffling. Out of at least 70 moviegoers (and maybe more, as numbers remain sketchy at the moment), it appears that nobody tried to tackle him to the ground, shoot back with their own gun, or even fight back in any way whatsoever. The accounts of witnesses are those of people fleeing, ducking and screaming... but not fighting for their lives.”


3:29 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I have to admit that over the yrs I've grown impatient w/the NRA, because it is clear that tragedies of this sort cd be avoided if everyone carried an AK-47. Why hasn't the gun lobby pushed for this? It's OK w/them that innocent people die in movie theaters? I tell u, I'm at my wits end here.


5:03 PM  
Anonymous Rowdy said...

I can't believe that on a patriotic site like this, people are advocating the use of robust commie weapons like the AK-47, instead of flimsy unrealiable weapons like the all-American M-16.

AK-47's last forever! How can you have a proper freedom-loving consumer culture with those?

7:13 PM  
Anonymous Stone said...


In your reply to my response, you wrote:

"You must have a blind eye because you admire PR AND Rand (Paul & Ayn) and globalization ( proven not to work except for the sociopaths)."

That's news to me: I wonder where I ever stated or even remotely implied that I admire Ayn Rand and globalization? As for Roberts, what I've said of him implies no more than that I have appreciated those articles of his that I've read.

I think I can now safely say that the evidence of your last two postings indicates that evidence is not your forte.

For the record and for the benefit of our group, I would like to state that:

1) there is nothing more foreign to me than Ayn Rand (whose real name was Alice Rosenbaum and who left the USSR in 1926), whom I consider to be little more than an autistic and authoritarian ideologue (see Murray Rothbard's book Sociology of the Ayn Rand Cult (1987)); and

2) that, in my view, (and in agreement with MB: see DAA, 147) the word 'globalization' is little more than a euphemism for imperialism.


8:06 PM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

Hey Perfessor,

Have a little faith in the American system of...justice?...Karma?

Like the patiently insidious scourge of red communism, the NRA is just doing an armament version of the Rope-a-Dope.

Pretty soon (all good things come to those who wait, no?) the occasional late-nite theatrical shoot-em-ups will merge with the periodic and predictable Black Friday and Xmas shopping melees until the populace is ready to sign onto what Neal Stephenson prophesied in his 1992 novel Snow Crash...we will be like his character Raven, who has a small nuclear device in his motorcycle's sidecar, rigged to detonate in case its owner is attacked.

No neer-do-wells will bother to pester us with their little pop-guns in search of post-mortem fame...our tactical Mutually Assured Destruction devices would render them and us (as the Kansas song goes) Dust in the Wind.
Where's the notoriety in that ?

Of course, what this would mean to the long-term cultural significance of the Dawn Davenport character in John Waters' Female Trouble is well beyond the scope of this missive, but still worth pondering.

8:49 PM  
Anonymous TonyU said...

A very good read. Please go to the link and read it all and then spread it around:

"There is no excuse for the propagation of these weapons. They are not guaranteed or protected by our constitution. If they were, then we could all run out and purchase a tank, a grenade launcher, a bazooka, a SCUD missile and a nuclear warhead. We could stockpile napalm and chemical weapons and bomb-making materials in our cellars under our guise of being a militia."


If you have time, then go here to read up on the comments:


9:10 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


You'd prefer Uzis?


9:14 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Well, I haven't read either of the two recent Ayn Rand biographies, but I remember rdg the reviews--at least, New Yorker and The Nation. I always regarded the Libertarian position as a cruel one, pretending that the playing field was level for everybody when it obviously isn't. Thus I wasn't surprised when Ron Paul's domestic policy effectively said, If yr dying and you can't afford medical care, too bad 4u. (This occurred during his abortive run for the GOP presidential nomination; his audience loved it. What a nation we live in, eh?) Anyway, what I got out of the reviews was again, the cruelty of the argument, but also, the cruelty of Ayn Rand herself, re: the true victims of life or capitalism, the less fortunate. The truth for any of us is There but for the grace of God go I, but that was never in her awareness, not even slightly. Or so the reviews indicated.

Meanwhile, the popularity of her bks is literally undiminished; I shd have such luck with mine. Americans, esp. young Americans, eat the stuff up, and it meshes so well with the culture, with the world of Alan Greenspan (her protege), with American narcissism and hustling and Life Is About Me. Ayn is the perfect icon for a country that lacks the slightest bit of compassion; that is emotionally numb, as a national style, as a way of life.


10:15 PM  
Blogger PedroC. said...

Ayn Rand's monolithic dredge (Atlas Shrugged) played a big role in the breakdown of a 7 year old relationship I had with, what I though at the time, a brilliant and gorgeous woman.

She started reading that monstrosity and began to 'objectify' our relationship as the "heroine" of the novel did. The funny thing is that, although very smart, she was never capable of logical reasoning (always let emotions get the best of her). It never dawned on her the irony of that (since Rand elevated logic to divine scripture).

For the course of nine months the woman I fell in love with disappeared and emerged someone I barely recognized. In light of the Batman event, I think certain works can have a profound effect on individuals, but their psyche must be fractured enough to let it happen.

Have this been in USA, I'm sure it all would've ended in a shooting spree. I mean, she absolutely LOVED Heath Ledger's Joker.

In summary: to hell with Ayn Rand! Her thousand+ page mammoth doesn't compare well even to Stephen King's weakest works (John Galt's multi-page monologue is one of the flabbergastingly most ridiculous things ever put in written word).

(Congrats on the prize, Dr. B! Always reading everything here, but there isn't much time at the moment to participate)


11:28 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

Dear Dr. Berman,
I’m sure this recent episode has caused you to be a little homesick since you were not able to enjoy it with the rest of us back in the “homeland.” I think the government should encourage important exiles like yourself to return by offering each of them the 6000 rounds of ammo that is their birthright as Americans. Though that much ammo is much easier to get than the nasal decongestant pseudoephedrine, the offer would make the returnees feel at home right away, and part of the family again.

11:57 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Yeah, I do miss all the guns, I hafta admit, along with the aggression of daily interaction. It's such a drag, living a quiet life and being able to concentrate on yr work.


Ay muchacho!. I confess I'm not a stranger to the Jekyll-and-Hyde syndrome, in which yr girlfriend suddenly flips into her opposite, and yr wondering, WTF? Something like that happened to me just a few months ago, in fact, and it really is rather depressing. But I've never had the experience of a GF turning into a Rand fanatic; now that wd certainly be in a category of its own--a modern version of medieval possession, I guess.


2:56 AM  
Blogger Noah Linden said...

Indeed, Ayn Rand's ideas are poisonous to the human heart. They kill compassion and solidarity and attempt to make greed into a virtue.

Libertarianism combines some of the worst features of both the left and the right: an obsessive embrace of corporate capitalism combined with a drive to legalize every socially destructive thing, from drugs to prostitution, combined with a complete disregard for the natural environment.

And most Libertarians, unlike Ron Paul, openly support America's many wars against small, defenseless nations.

There's almost nothing worse than Libertarianism.

8:18 AM  
Anonymous David M said...

Dr. B. & Wafers
I know how Mitt can get elected. He just needs to promise an Ak-47 in every home. Rowdy, I know this flies in the face of patriotism; but what makes Mitt so popular is his outsourcing, shutting down US companies and shipping jobs overseas.
How about a T-shirt on the front
I love my AK-47
On the back
Bang your Dead(or more like ratatat your all dead)

10:31 AM  
Blogger poke-a-dote said...

Yesterday I had an image of the CO shooter as a political cartoon, looking like an apocalyptic riot policeman or Afghanistan soldier. The caption read: "America". This is what we look like to much of the world - for it is the face that is presented to most of the world. The shooter symbolized us perfectly.

11:14 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

In a cruelly ironic coincidence with this discussion of the heartless Ayn Rand & her Randroids, it appears that America's poverty rate is about to hit its worst in 50 years, pretty much erasing the gains of the War On Poverty in the 1960s, with an increasing decline in even minimal public assistance:


The Gilded Age is back ... and can feudal America be far behind?

Or is that futile America?

1:17 PM  
Anonymous Rowdy said...


We need to find some factory in China that will make AK-47's from cheap plastic that breaks easy.

A kind of "Walmartized" AK.

4:35 PM  
Anonymous abc said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

How many people can look at the Colorado shootings and realize, in some way, our chickens are coming home to roost. From the latest article by Henry Giroux:

"Increasingly, we are inundated with stories about American soldiers committing horrendous acts of violence against civilians in Afghanistan, with the most recent being the murders committed by the self-named "kill team" and the slaughter of men, women and children allegedly by Staff Sgt. Robert Bales. The United States has become addicted to war and a war economy just as we increasingly have become addicted to building prisons and incarcerating minorities marginalized by class and race. And, moreover, we have become immune to the fact of such violence."

But this would be angrily dismissed as a "warrior" just doing his duty--perhaps a little too enthusiastically and maybe "the poor man cracked"--but to many Bales' murderous rampage wasn't all that bad b/c, after all, they were just a bunch of Afganistans (in their beds asleep and threatening no one) and not people sitting in their seats in a movie theater and threatening no one. I was glad to see Giroux make the connection but I know that's a discussion that will never, ever happen in our country.

6:08 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

I'm somewhat surprised that Obama did not make a eulogy in Colorado instead of visiting the families and survivors. Those eulogies are quite good and I'm sure that would have given him some boost in the polls. My guess is that the White House, as the economy continues to collapse anticipates more such mass killings so you can't have Obama running around the country giving eulogies especially as that would take away from his three main tasks: playing golf, groveling for campaign dollars, and signing off on the weekly kill list with his "priest" John Brennan.
Mr.X , I fully agree with you. 12 people died and still condolences on social media are full of r and u instead of are and you. How thoroughly disrespectful.

11:01 PM  
Anonymous Joe doesn't know said...


hv u ever read abt personality disorders? Your ex-g/f sounds a bit like someone w/borderline personality d/o (at least some of the features)...esp. when u said she possessed great intelligence but her emotions ran the show. Also, there is a level of identity weakness/diffusion that many (almost all) ppl in our culture struggle with, and if you couple that with our sick value system (material hedonism) it's common for ppl to latch on to something (Rand, The Joker) and run with it. There are really very few ppl in our culture who find a way to fill up the identity-void with an inner life. Almost everyone attempts to use external things, which never works, because as the stoics stated, we have no control over external things. Anyhow, not that it matters now, you're better off without a Randian, no?

11:02 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


When an empire goes under, it typically goes into frenzy mode, indulging in repression, genocide, and that sort of thing. This is what the Brits did in Kenya, for example, in the 1950s: check out
"Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya," by Caroline Elkins. Of course, we have our own writers documenting the torture of innocents carried out by our gov't, but we could probably use more on massacres. At least 50 people wd read these studies.


11:24 PM  
Anonymous shep said...

My philosophy is:

If you are not "all in", for all people and animals, to have a decent and safe life, then, I do not think an individual will ever have a contented life.

If one deviates from this, even a tad, I will try to convince you otherwise because I believe life is sacred. No hard feelings intended.

I am a Christian/Atheist.

7:37 AM  
Anonymous David M said...

Dr. B & Wafers
Noam Chomsky has an excellent piece at Thomdispatch on habeus corpus and the Magna Carta. Apparently there are two parts to the document which I was not aware of "The Charter of Liberties" and the "Charter of the Forest"

Between Ayn Rand and Rand Paul you might say we've been randomized. (that's bad isn't) Well as Boris says to Natasha keel the moose!

8:32 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


If you pick a handle, I'll run yr post. I'm not doing Anons anymore. Thanx.


9:08 AM  
Blogger Noah Linden said...


I like how you pointed out that decaying empires indulge in genocide, repression and brutality. They indulge in these things not only as part of a desperate attempt to re-strengthen their empires, but also as a way of convincing their own people that there has been no decline. In other words, it functions as a way to engage in denial of the obvious - the decline and imminent end of the empire.

With the USA, however, there will be far more violence unleashed, for Americans are more attached to the myth of their own superiority than any other empire in all of recorded history, with the possible exception of the British and the French. The greater the attachment to the myth of one's own superiority, the greater the need to deny the decline of the empire, and the greater the amount of violence one will commit in response to these myths being challenged and finally stripped away by cold, hard reality.

4:08 PM  
OpenID alphistia said...

Dear Prof. Berman,
Expat Brit writer for the New Yorker, John Cassidy had this interesting little article about why America MIGHT be a nutty country. It is here: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/johncassidy/2012/07/is-america-crazy-ten-reasons-it-might-be.html
He lists 10 reasons why. They're not very controversial to me. The comments are overwhelming negative though, by offended readers of the New Yorker who are so brain dead they can't fathom that someone could criticize the USofA. One is a Frenchman who calls France a "socialist" country...(after how many years under Sarkozy and Chirac?) It's scary when so many readers of a fairly liberal American magazine are so out of touch with their own reality, but it is true. I know a few like-minded souls who aren't brainwashed...out of the 300 million plus Americans who are...there are maybe a million of us scattered around the country...but I know I'm being an optimist!

1:54 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

The original affluent society.

In the 1960s, anthropologist Marshall Sahlins argued that our society had “erected a shrine to theUnattainable: Infinite Needs,” submitting to capitalist discipline and competition to earn moneyso we can chase those infinite needs by buying things we don’t really want. We could learnsomething, Sahlins suggested, from the pre-agricultural, hunter-gatherers of ten thousand yearsago. “The world’s most primitive people,” he wrote, “have few possessions but they are not poor.”This only sounds like a paradox, for Sahlins went on to point out that foragers typically workedtwenty-one to thirty-five hours per week. Hunter-gatherers did not have cars or TVs, but they didnot know they were supposed to want them. Their means were few but their needs were fewer,making them, in Sahlins view “the original affluent society.”

10:25 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Please don't send messages to old posts; no one reads them. As for Sahlins, the last 50 yrs have seen massive critiques of his work, modifying it significantly.


12:41 PM  

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