August 22, 2012

Ernest Callenbach (1929-2012)

I think I may have posted the following link in the Comments section on this blog, shortly after Chick Callenbach died (April 16) and an unpublished article was discovered on his computer, but let me post it again:

I knew Chick briefly when I lived in San Francisco, and Peter Berg (who died last July) and I invited him to speak at an ecology conference we co-sponsored in 1979 entitled "Listening to the Earth" (Gary Snyder and Murray Bookchin were also participants). The thing that struck me about him was his humility, his low-key, understated quality. After all, in the wake of his best-selling novel, Ecotopia, he had been heavily lionized by the media and green folks everywhere, but none of that interested him. He was completely unaffected: a man without a mask. That same quality is evident in his posthumous essay. I encourage everyone to read it in full, but let me just quote a few passages, to give you the flavor of it. I should add that 25 publishers rejected the novel before he self-published it (in 1975), and to date it has sold nearly a million copies. The book remains a major contribution to an understanding of what I refer to, in Why America Failed, as the alternative tradition in American history.

Chick believed that we were entering some very dark times, and that these could last a century or more. Thus he saw the changes we are going thru in slo-mo, as a process I have likened to the "waning of the Middle Ages," when a long-standing way of life starts to disintegrate, and a new way of life begins to take its place. So Chick was an optimist, but only in the long run. He writes:

"When old institutions and habits break down or consume themselves, new experimental shoots begin to appear, and people explore and test and share new and better ways to survive together.

"We live in the declining years of what is still the biggest economy in the world, where a looter elite has fastened itself upon the decaying carcass of the empire.

"The U.S., which has a long history of violent plutocratic rule unknown to the textbook-fed, will stand out as the best-armed Third World country, its population ill-fed, ill-housed, ill-educated, ill-cared for in health, and increasingly poverty-stricken: even Social Security may be whittled down, impoverishing tens of millions of the elderly.

"As empires decline, their leaders become increasingly incompetent -- petulant, ignorant, gifted only with PR skills of posturing and spinning, and prone to the appointment of loyal idiots to important government positions. Comedy thrives; indeed writers are hardly needed to invent outrageous events.

"No futurist can foresee the possibilities. As empires decay, their civilian leaderships become increasingly crazed, corrupt, and incompetent, and often the military (which is after all a parasite of the whole nation, and has no independent financial base like the looter class) takes over. Another possible scenario is that if the theocratic red center of the country prevails in Washington, the relatively progressive and prosperous coastal areas will secede in self-defense.

"So I look to a long-term process of 'succession,' as the biological concept has it, where 'disturbances' kill off an ecosystem, but little by little new plants colonize the devastated area, prepare the soil for larger and more complex plants (and the other beings who depend on them), and finally the process achieves a flourishing, resilient, complex state -- not necessarily what was there before, but durable and richly productive. In a similar way, experiments under way now, all over the world, are exploring how sustainability can in fact be achieved locally. Technically, socially, economically -- since it is quite true, as ecologists know, that everything is connected to everything else, and you can never just do one thing by itself.

"That is the way empires crumble: they are taken over by looter elites, who sooner or later cause collapse. But then new games become possible, and with luck Ecotopia might be among them.

"All things 'go' somewhere: they evolve, with or without us, into new forms. So as the decades pass, we should try not always to futilely fight these transformations. As the Japanese know, there is much unnoticed beauty in wabi-sabi -- the old, the worn, the tumble-down, those things beginning their transformation into something else. We can embrace this process of devolution: embellish it when strength avails, learn to love it.

"There is beauty in weathered and unpainted wood, in orchards overgrown, even in abandoned cars being incorporated into the earth. Let us learn, like the Forest Service sometimes does, to put unwise or unneeded roads 'to bed,' help a little in the healing of the natural contours, the re-vegetation by native plants. Let us embrace decay, for it is the source of all new life and growth."

Amen. (This is me, not Chick).



Blogger Noah Linden said...

Well, I certainly hope that something might arise out of the coming calamity. But I think that's probably several hundred years away, at best. As people continue to become increasingly ignorant and violent, it's all but guaranteed that all cultural traditions, everywhere, will be stamped out and replaced by carbon-copy totalitarian systems that will destroy what's left of the Earth's ecosystem with increasing speed and ferocity. In the end, there will be very few people left.

And that, I think, is where hope really lies: a drastic reduction of the human population, so that people finally have the space to think, ponder, and contemplate without being fed lies and propaganda on a daily basis by huge, electronic media webs. Instead of huge, corrupt bureaucracies, small villages will once again predominate, along with firm local traditions, mysticism and animism, and a new respect for the Earth.

The problem with this scenario is that global warming will not be reversed. Indeed, it might be just as climate scientists predict: several million years before the climate returns to a normal state.

12:04 AM  
Anonymous Mikbeth said...


Mysticism and animism are precisely the opposite of what is needed at least how they are defined in the traditional sense. That would seem to me to be just another form of the irrational state of mind we see today.


8:03 AM  
Anonymous Smith said...

I'm with Mikbeth, and I'll be specific as to why:

Unfortunately some of the mystic traditions taught you that you needed to believe things without actually confirming them for yourself.

Wasn't that St. Augustine's attitude, that reason was evil (Berman discussed this in Twilight of American Culture)? Didn't that cause the Christian religion to mutate into something imperial (i.e. Columbus' treatment of the Native Americans) and authoritarian?

And hasn't that affected how America has behaved towards the rest of the world (The Muslims are terrorists because God told us so! We don't need to confirm for ourselves!), and hasn't that affected why Americans don't put any stock in education in "the critical mind" that might cause you to reject false claims based on evidence?

There's a lot of good in the mystic traditions. But like everything, it's not that simple.

Remember Berman said the South had a richer civil culture but it was based on slavery? Mysticism has a richer moral culture than ours, but it requires that you not have a "dialectical mind" that analyzes things.

And if we take that path in the future, we might end up REPEATING some of our mistakes, not erasing them. That's my main concern.

10:54 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

There may be two forms of barbarism in this world: total rationality, and total irrationality (or nonrationality, if that sounds better). Maybe the issue is one of balance? (Just a thought)

11:44 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

Balance is the first word that comes to my mind as well. I'm wary of anyone who claims to be completely rational, because I've known a fair number of them, and all were clearly driven by irrational passions. But they didn't or couldn't recognize them as such; to them, everything they did had a rational, logical basis. So I'm just as distrustful of a rational True Believer as I am distrustful of an irrational True Believer.

Perhaps what matters, in a way, isn't so much what they believe, but how they believe? I don't know if I can articulate this properly, but it's the difference between those with that True Believer mentality, i.e., My way is the one & only right way; and then those who have much more room for nuance & paradox & ambiguity, who adjust to new knowledge rather than trying to make it fit into a pre-imagined system. I'm not saying this at all well, I know. Isn't it what Keats called "negative capability" in one of his letters?

One thing of which I am fairly certain: there's no eliminating the irrational, as it's part of us. But acknowledging, recognizing, coming to terms with it -- that's possible, desirable, and ultimately quite necessary. I don't think it's an accident that all authoritarian & fundamentalist cultures have a very low opinion of psychology, of facing up to the ugly reflection in the mirror. It's always projection for them -- Someone or Something Else is the Enemy, it's never anything WE did.

I think Noah's right in saying that it'll take something catastrophic to make enough people (or enough surviving people) change their worldview into something healthier & more sustainable. And I think in speaking of the mystic, he's not talking about blind belief so much as a true sense of the sacred, a deeply-rooted humility, a shedding of human (and especially consumerist) hubris. A life of the mind & soul, perhaps?

1:27 PM  
Anonymous Ray said...

Dear Morris,

It seems the contrasting barbarisms of total irrationality and of total rationality sometimes also double back on each other and produce self-reinforcing synergies of destructiveness. The Inquisition deployed careful rules of "rational" forensic evidence for deeply irrational ends, and the SS applied scientific management to a murderously thorough delusion of racial purification.

Personally, though I recognize the risk that the Enlightenment can often be as dogmatic a cult as the Christians, the (occasional) capacity of rationality for truly critical self-correction gives it a slight edge in desirability. Given that we can't eradicate BOTH rationality and irrationality from the human condition, I'd risk going with rationality - until the next Final Solution, that is.


1:41 PM  
Anonymous paul said...

I think balance is where one lives their lives regardless of the consequences. The reasons we apply to things being a certain way has come about out of our need for comfort and certainty. The problem is life is uncertain and with humans it seems enough will never be enough. The need to control everything and to what end? It would be nice to think of things evolving to something on the order of N.American tribal societies with a modern twist?... Who knows... The book by Ursula LeGuin "The Telling" points an interesting mythical direction...

On a related note, I have recently been rediscovering and nurturing my artist within and it has been the most rewarding and enriching thing I've done as a surviving NMI. It's the little personal things that matter ... Nobody probably cared or wondered why at the time some shaman painted pictures of bison in a cave 40,000 years ago but their images and our connection survives. And the same questions are still being asked. We were here, who are we, why, and where are we going?

2:04 PM  
Blogger Hormone Monkey said...

I like your send-up to Harper's Nowhere Man cover this month. Both pieces in the issue are nice, as is a long book(s) review on recent Obama biographies on the site. Alas, playing monastic arm chair analyst to President Nowhere Man is futile. Who cares what he thinks and how he formed those thoughts? Policy is all that matters. LBJ was conniving prick who pushed through the last wave of useful social policy. Nixon was an asshole who empowered (however briefly and ineffectively) the EPA. I could go on. You could think of more examples.

Thanks for your great blog. I read that article in May and appreciate seeing it again. They also have some Chomsky essays that are closer to your stance (our system is toast) than you think. Thanks for the great blog.

No need to post this. Amnon

8:47 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

As Mr.Callenbach wrote:" Comedy Thrives." With that let me give you my joke of the day. Ban Ki Moon intents to attend the meeting of the 120 member non-aligned movement in Teheran over the protestations of the US and Israel. In a letter to Ban the pro-Israeli Anti-defamation League wrote: You're presence in the Iranian capital at this time will be counter-productive to the efforts of the international community (Excuse me, aren't most of the world's countries attending this meeting?) to bring into compliance with its obligations under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (a treaty Israel refuses to sign) and abandon it's nuclear weapons ambitions" (Israel has at least 160 nuclear warheads). After reading this letter tears of laughter were streaming down my face.

9:02 PM  
Anonymous Brian said...


I noticed that you occasionally hint at the existence of something deeper in understanding our coming decline as it pertains to the ecosystem and economy. From what I tell, here is the root of the coming ecological/economic collapse:

*Capitalism depends on endless consumption of finite resources. This is not sustainable.

It is as simple as that. I had a real turning point when I realized how almost everything is entirely dependent on resources such as oil, coal, and nat gas. I then began reading about peak oil and other related theories and found their arguments quite convincing overall (we could quibble over details).

This seems to relate to a time when you said something along the lines that socialism and free-market hacks just argue about how the pie is divided. You questioned the pie itself. To me, this relates to the finite nature of our resources.

The "solution" seems to be that we should all learn to live more simply and reject the lifestyle of consumption. Live slowly. Capitalism will slowly come crashing down in this next century and we should get used to that idea.

You mentioned Joel Magnuson's upcoming book. I looked at his blog and liked his comments. Will he touch on this?

Can you point me in the direction of any writers who have confronted this issue head-on and related to the coming dark ages?

9:58 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Well, ol' Chick Callenbach certainly got a discussion going, eh wot?


I'm sure there's a lot of stuff out there along these lines, but I tend to pay less attn to it than I probably should. Joel's bk will be out in March; meanwhile, Chick's essay--see the link posted above--is one of the best things I've read on the subject. But I'm sure the sci-fi world has a shitload of apocalyptic/dystopian stuff, if u just poke around a bit.


10:36 PM  
Blogger jerome langguth said...

Dear Dr. Berman and friends,

I find your conversation about the place of reason in a balanced life fascinating. I like John Ralston Saul's idea, presented in his book Equilibrium, that a deflated but still important faculty of reason should now humbly take its place among other important human capacities, such as imagination, common sense, ethics, and intuition. As Dr. Berman and others have said, it is a matter of finding a balance and steering our way between exclusive rationalism and irrationality.

7:37 AM  
Anonymous bart said...


You might consider Jerry Mander's latest book, The Capitalism Papers: Fatal Flaws of an Obsolete System,, if you're interested in a book focussed on the unsustainable "endless consumption of finite resources", as you wrote. He argues (thoroughly convincingly) that Capitalism at this stage is intrinsically and structurally incapable of reform and the system itself has to be abandoned. Among the structural deficiencies he lists are: amorality, dependence on growth, propensity to war, intrinsic inequity, undermining of democracy, failure to bring happiness.

Tying into the subject at hand, Mander references Ernest Callenbach at the opening of his book:

The system has reached a stage in its life span that is very familiar to ecologists and other students of natural evolution: A once thriving, even dominant species, in markedly changed physical circumstances, gives way to other species that are better adapted to current realities.

When applied to nature, it's called natural succession. When speaking of economics, however, the ecological philosopher Ernest Callenbach describes the process as "economic succession." I think he's got it right. The capitalist system had its day. If we care about the future well-being of humans and nature, it's time to move on.

As far as sci fi, I thought Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake was quite good at depicting a dystopic future with mutants of all sorts wrought by genetic experimentation, as well as a scathingly hilarious satirical critique of a depraved media wasteland. In some ways, as much social satire as science fiction.

9:03 AM  
Anonymous Tim F said...


I would say John Zerzan is doing a pretty good job of offering a serious critique of the present state of things. I don't buy into the necessity or the possiblity of returning to primitivism. But, I believe he is a shot in the arm: saying we need to step off this system, we can't keep tinkering around the edges.

I believe he has a similar critique of technology, and the technologisation of society as you Morris. Interested to hear peoples opinion of his work.

More broadly, seems to be a lot of discussion of anarchist type issues here and some figures associated with the movement, but no explicit mention of anarchism.

Some posters here warning of dystopian totalitarian future, what about the anarchist alternative? Undoubtedly a lot of these seeds that Callenbach is talking about are of an anarchist nature.

9:47 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

In her biography of the Hegelian scholar, Alexandre Kojève, Shadia Drury writes: “Every political order, no matter how grand, is doomed to decay and degenerate.” As for modernity in particular, she says:

“Modernity’s inception and its decline are like those of any other set of political and cultural ideals. In its early inception, modernity contained something good and beguiling. It was a revolution against the authority of the Church, its taboos, repressions, inquisitions, and witch burning. It was a new dawn of the human spirit—celebrating life, knowledge, individuality, freedom, and human rights. It bequeathed to man a sunny disposition on the world, and on himself….The new spirit fueled scientific discovery, inventiveness, trade, commerce, and an artistic explosion of great splendor. But as with every new spirit, modernity has gone foul….Modernity lost the freshness and innocence of its early promise because its goals became inflated, impossible, and even pernicious. Instead of being the symbol of freedom, independence, justice, and human rights, it has become the sign of conquest, colonialism, exploitation, and the destruction of the earth.”

This is what I cannot get the folks on the Left to face up to, because they remain mesmerized by the ghost of Marx, and thus believe that the 'meaning' of history is Progress. But it isn't; history has no inherent meaning. Yes, it is sometimes characterized by progress; but overall, it is characterized by irony. It moves in cycles of growth and decay, and the current season is decay, which we are not going to escape. This is why the endless malarkey about reviving the American Dream is just that-malarkey, and why I keep saying that we are better off with an outright moron in the W.H. than a half-moron, or an accidental one like the current president. The bell tolls not just for us now, but for capitalism and in fact for modernity. The world will look radically different by 2050, and not because some Steve Jobs clone invented some new piece of technological crap.

(continued below)

9:51 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

As for the issue of balance: you know, all systems of thought, all socioeconomic and political formations, have at least something valuable about them. The trouble is the tendency, esp. in the Modern Age, to go whole hog; to decide that This Is IT. Barry Goldwater summarized this dementia in his GOP acceptance speech, 1964: "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice!" Of course it is, in fact it's pernicious, because extremism in the defense of anything is complete madness. For example, I think a post-modern, post-capitalist formation is going to have to include some degree of mysticism or magic, of the type I talk about in "The Reenchantment of the World." That premodern world had much to recommend it, as I think I show in that bk, and I also believe that our modern over-emphasis on science finally became destructive. But the abuses of magic, mysticism, and the premodern world are also, in retrospect, pretty obvious as well. As capitalism/modernity go into serious eclipse, and some form of 'reenchantment' begins to emerge, the danger of the latter will not be in the ideas or politics themselves, I suspect; rather, it will be the tendency to make these things into The Answer, to go whole hog. And of course, to make advocates of the new order into gods. I'm half convinced that we could establish a new order based on chopped liver and deli meats, and it would work if we just didn't deify it. But this takes ontological wisdom--the understanding of *why* we need/want to deify things, to worship a person or a system. We remain blind to that, and that's ultimately why we screw up. As Drury points out, modernity once had a lot of things going for it, after all. Even capitalism does. Why not retain some of those features (e.g., the Enlightenment tradition, just for starters) as we evolve into the new order? But--we probably won't.

In that sense, we probably don't need to fear the old regime all that much--Mr. Obama with his torture and indefinite detention, or Rom Mittney with his haircut, as grim as those things are. American corporate fascism has no future; it's days are numbered, if only because it won't have the resources to keep doing what its doing. True, I cd possibly wind up in Guantanamo as an 'intellectual terrorist', for all I know; but all in all, I'm not really that scared of a world-system that's on its last legs (tho it will do a ton of damage as it collapses, to be sure). Looking ahead, on the other hand, we might need to worry a bit abt New Apostles on the horizon--eco-apostles, magic-apostles, postmodern-apostles--and to pay attention not to what they say, but how they say it. If they insist that their way is The Answer, and millions choose to fall in line--well, we're fucked!

There is no utopia, amigos; hunter-gather society probably came the closest to that, and yet it was not without problems either. Change--which is seriously upon us now--means 'different'; it doesn't necessarily mean 'better'. You pays yr money and you tykes yr choice.


9:56 AM  
Blogger Noah Linden said...

Tim Lukeman's right. I was talking about mysticism in terms of seeing the Earth as sacred, and all its various species as sacred. I wasn't talking about things like Christian fundamentalism, the John Birch Society, etc.

In the world I hope will come to pass, there will still be logic. But rationality will be mixed with the non-rational (as opposed to the irrational). Seeing the whole world as sacred cannot be done through total rationality; you have to allow for the irrational, which does not assign fixed and limited values to things, or else you turn everything in the world into a commodity; you exploit the world's natural resources until there's nothing left unless you are in touch with the non-rational.


As far as having "The Answer", clearly there is no such thing, because positive cultural movements can take many forms. Nevertheless, the values of compassion, altruism and empathy must be a part of our cultural heritage, or else we will keep repeating the mistakes of the past forever. We may never create a Utopia, but there are certain values that we must adhere to; the problem, as you pointed out, is not to be mindless and cruel about adhering to those values, because doing so would be to NOT adhere to those values, and to repeat the mistakes of the past.

10:17 AM  
Anonymous Kevin said...

Three quick comments:

- Brian: read John Michael Greer's trilogy "The Long Descent,""The Ecotechnic Future," and "The Wealth of Nature."

- The Goldwater quote - "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice" - was written by speechwriter Karl Hess, one of the founders of the Libertarian Party.

- The Callnebach essay is marvelous. Any thoughts on his comment on Mexico: "where a small, filthy rich plutocracy rules over an impoverished mass of desperate, uneducated, and hopeless people."

10:27 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Well, my guess is that in one form or another, we'll be repeating the mistakes of the past forever. You say "clearly" there is no such thing, but many millions wd disagree w/u (their loss, to be sure). Again, it may be a question of comparison: some civs are better than others. I suspect one can be mindless abt adhering to certain values and still adhere to those values. Luis Bunuel made a film many yrs ago called "Nazarin" (The Nazarene) in which altruism is carried to such an absurd length by a wandering priest that his life goes completely out of wack. But, it was still altruistic! You still seem to be searching for a formula...


10:29 AM  
Anonymous Mikbeth said...

I had prepared some further refinements on my post from yesterday but see that others have addressed much of what I would say.Though I would like to add that I should have been more careful before introducing the rationalism/irrationalism theme. These are broad terms that have a lot of baggage and misunderstandings. One really needs to define one's terms when delving into these waters.

MB has raised the point of the limitations of fixating on the one solution which is so prevalent in this culture. I chased various new age solutions over the years which were a huge waste of money and time. A good example can be found in any Sounds True catalogue. I just realized how apt that name is, what they offer "sounds" true as opposed to being true.

I am currently playing with the idea that maybe its more important to locate ourselves on the map of where our civilization is and to let that guide our actions rather than trying to apply some formulaic tradition or methodology to where we are. I think this is what Dr. Berman does so well in his books -- orient us on the map so we can see where we are and what our choices are in the moment rather than fixating on some ideal place we think we wnat to be.

On a separate note this discussion has reminded me of the writings of Theodore Roszak, maybe not his solutions but certainly his critique of the post Industrial world seems apropos. Here is an obit that covers his career pretty good.

11:36 AM  
Anonymous Stone said...

To Brian,

Herewith, other works that treat the issue of the collapse of industrialism:

John Michael Greer, "The Long Descent" (New Society Publishers, 2008)

Dmitry Orlow, "Reinventing Collapse: The Soviet Experience and American Prospects" (New Society Publishers, 2011; this is the second, revised and updated edition)

Richard Heinberg, "The End of Growth" (New Society Publishers, 2011).

All three authors also have Web sites.

In the fiction department, James H. Kunstler has produced two novels that attempt to describe a collapsed world: "World Made by Hand" and "The Witch of Hebron."

Incidentally, capitalism, socialism, and communism are all forms of industrialism: they share many presuppositions and attitudes. This is not surprising since they all arose out of Western European modernity, which begins in the 16th century, with the birth of modern science in the heliocentrism of Copernicus.

All three are constituted first and foremost by the triadic structure of economy-science-technology (whose three components entertain relations of mutual dependency). Not one seriously questions the dogma of constant growth and of the exploitation of nature. Animals live in nature and from nature; they do not exploit nature, i.e., they do not treat it as a stockpile of stuffs to be plundered at one's leisure in the irrational conviction that such plundering can go on indefinitely.

There are other presuppositions (for instance, the Promethean ideology, analyzed by the French philosopher François Flahault in his book "Le crépuscule de Prométhée. Contribution à une histoire de la démesure humaine" (2008), which, among other things, features a great critique of Ayn Rand), but I think my post is already a bit long.


12:52 PM  
Blogger LJansen said...


Amazon’s Political Heat Map Colors Book-Buying Preferences

Maybe lefties do not like to order books from Amazon????

2:05 PM  
Anonymous Zero said...

Greeting Comrades!

I write you this epistle from the capitalist pigsty currently known as the Corporations Republic of America (former "USA").

I must tell you that the place is a total dump, inhabited by, as MB calls them, buffoons with iPhones (and guns). Physically, the place is falling apart, the roads, bridges, and just about everything else are in far worse shape than last time I was here, about a year ago. Yeah, you could say with a high degree of certainty that the empire is rotting from the inside, and the maggots are feasting upon it with a vengeance.

The people -- I mean, the buffoons – are in rough shape too. We’re talking unkept, dirty, stressed out, and sickly-looking. Many of them are, with one hand pushing shopping carts full of empty cans of beer they dug up from trash cans, while texting on their stolen iPhones with the other hand. They do that while crossing busing intersections as well, possibly because most are high on drugs.

So, comrades, this is CRA (Corporations Republic of America).

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that the other day I briefly flipped through the cable channels. The same flashy bimbos and male airheads were yapping nonsense as always, pushing the same American exceptionalist bullshit, promoting war and fear, and reminding the buffoons how lucky they are to live in the CRA and have access to shopping carts, stolen iPhones, all-you-can-inject heroin, and possibly even food stamps (which they often trade for cheap heroin).

I bid you farewell, comrades, and promise to keep y’all updated about my observations from the land of CRA.

Zero... zeroing out

2:17 PM  
Anonymous JSRANK said...

@MB Obviously, so much of what we base our opinions and projections on comes down to choices. Sometimes choices are apparent. Other times: through history, tradition, peer pressure ( by group or by authority ) ; aborts, outlaws, or makes extremely difficult what should or could be differing...reasonable choices.

The irrational, unformed, primitive, instinctual mind operates emotionally ...or with the immaturity of acceptance from some higher authority ( parents, chiefs, shamans, et al ); and so the subservient mind has their choices made for them.
When cognitive thinking kicks in for individuals is when conflict begins. Usually with the authoritarian not wanting to relinquish control ( among homids ). Other animal species are quicker to get rid of the potential rival, and to get busy with the cycle of ever more procreation.

I think what we are discussing in-a-round-about way, is the acceptance and belief... in absolutes. When in reality, there are no absolutes.
Even scientific realities as the sun always shining, or gravity...are not absolute. The sun could go supernova tomorrow. The polarity of the earth could switch...and at least temporarily throw the earth off its axis.

This is why paradigms such as 'capitalism', 'Marxism', 'collectivism', and 'Keynesianism' cannot be relied upon. There is always a fly in the ointment, something unforeseen that messes up the formula. That's the problem with formulas.

Utopian constructs...either right or left, are destined to fall in a slow decline, if not fail in sudden collapse ( well, maybe capitalism. It has catastrophically collapsed too many times ).
This is why I find Veblen quite compelling.
Evolutionary adaption is the key. But it has to be slow...observable. Even the smart people in Pompeii and Herculaneum knew they were doomed and couldn't do a damn thing about it.

6:42 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

In the battle between rationality and irrationality I’d say that irrationality has jumped out to a substantial lead. The majority party in Texas wants to ban higher order thinking, thus insuring that Texas will be the hearth of a subspecies of Todd Akin-like morons, if it’s isn’t already. It appears that some regions will have different ideas about utopia, thus making an even stronger case for the secession option. Vast areas of the country could become autonomous regions of irrationality or for lack of a better term: Dolt Belts. In the future, provided safety was insured by professional guides, these places could gain substantial income from foreign tourists who wish to gawk at the spectacle, not unlike African game parks today.

9:14 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I like the phrase. We live in the densest Dolt Belt in the history of the world, probably.


Tomorrow, OK? And maybe a tad shorter.


9:25 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

And the beat goes on:

9:35 PM  
Anonymous BillOM said...

Hello again, Doctor Berman. I've read your friend's parting words with interest, and share your sadness at the loss of his insight.

Would he have argued that the European Union is one of those "green shoots" out of decay? Do you?

10:57 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


It's a toss-up, really. There are a lot more local, 'green' expts in Europe, and generally a more positive attitude to modifying the worst of American capitalism--see Steven Hill's bk, "Europe's Promise." Germany has a very large Green Party, for example. But it is still, beyond doubt, a corporate-consumer society, with all that that involves; and the national leadership is often poor. I was in Spain last June, when Rajoy, the prime minister, accepted a huge bailout--not for the people of Spain, but for the banks. Subsequently, he imposed more austerity measures, which is both unfair and politically stupid. The guy is a horse's ass, much like, say, Rom Mittney; he has no vision; it's just, Let's do more of the same. I did a # of interviews while I was over there and I think I called him an 'idiota' in every single one. Not that he is representative of every European leader, but just consider what a total disaster Sarkozy was for France, for example. As for Italy: don't get me started.

The other problem w/Europe is the demographics: on a world scale, it's a much older population than most, and that probably doesn't bode well for its future.

Nevertheless, on a local level, Europe is far more intelligent than the US; tho that wdn't take much, of course.


11:42 PM  
Anonymous satyaSarika said...

About the wabi-sabi:

There's a bit of syncronicity for me with this word -- hadn't heard of it before the other day when I was reading "this is getting old - Zen Thoughts on Aging with Humor and Dignity" by Susan Moon. And here I see it with a quote from Ernest Callenbach, whom I didn't know of until now.

2:05 AM  
Anonymous Vince said...


Thank you for the links to the last two pieces. I had to print them so that I can read them from time to time. They are very grounding pieces. In times like these it can be very hard to see our way "through" as you have stressed numerous times.

I live on the other side of the state from your future visit to Michigan. So please let me know when it is close to the time that you are coming to speak. I will do what I can to make the trip. It would be a pleasure to listen to you speak in person.

Tim L,

I can relate to everything you were talking about in Dr. B's last posting. The housing market crash has brought with it some undesirable consequences; renter neighbors that are fine exemplars of a family raised on television. Dysfunction only begins to describe the state of affairs next door to me. Getting any sleep is but a hopeful thought at best.

Currently I am reading Too Much Magic by JH Kunstler. His thoughts on the trajectory of our country and the consequences that follow are in direct alignment with yours MB. I would like to suggest another book by the same title if you haven't already heard of it. The author is Jason Benlevi. You will like the subtitle: "Pulling the Plug on the Cult of Tech". This former Silicon Valley insider discusses some of the inner workings driving technology into every facet of our lives. As you already know, the outcomes have been less than desirable.

As for the discussion about logic, rationality, intuition, etc., let me briefly comment that I have found that sound logic and reasoning have helped me to maintain some semblance of sanity. Intuition powered by years of experience help me to look at the bigger picture when it comes to how I approach situations where thinking things through doesn't quite work. Being raised as a Catholic (no longer a person of faith), I find traditions to be suspect. Traditions have to be questioned and examined to determine if they are inline with the natural laws of life.

On a last note Dr. B. When you brought up again the discussion about the "wool being the eyes" I was reminded of Andrew Bacevich's book "The Limits of Power". His discussion on how the profligacy of the American people is what has been driving our military-industrial complex / consumer culture dispels any myths about the notion of innocent Americans. As you know Ward Churchill also has written and spoken about the myth of American innocence as well. Anyone who understands what he was trying to say met with the usual CRE reactions.


7:11 AM  
Anonymous mbl said...

Anyone read about Brandon Raub? The US govt didn't like what he posted on Facebook (yeah, Facebook!?) so they sent the feds to his house--not to arrest him, but to throw him into a mental hospital where, supposedly, a psychiatrist threatened to medicate and then "brainwash" him. This scares me more than anything I've heard up till now. A little too close to home for those of us who live in the US & are speaking our opinions freely. I'm actually considering shutting down my web sites & stopping the expression of my political beliefs publicly altogether. I suppose the good thing about this is that it might finally wake up some people in this country. (Though Americans have been so good at willful ignorance, it's hard to tell whether that'll ever happen.)

11:13 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


What a story. The country gets scarier every day. Here's the 1st para of that article:

"DALLAS, August 23rd, 2012 - After a special hearing today, Circuit Judge W. Allan Sharret declared the commitment order granted to federal authorities for Brandon Raub’s arrest and detainment was invalid."

Two questions occur to me:

1. How long b4 circuit judges will *not* declare this type of gov't activity invalid? It seems to me that's only a matter of time.

2. Stalin's agents had Trotsky murdered w/an ice pick in his home in Mexico City in 1940. Given the Raub story, I keep wondering how long it will be b4 the US gov't's agents will show up at *my* door. Megalomania/paranoia, I know; but if/when they do arrive, I'll be sure to ask them to be gd enuf to leave the ice pick outside. I'll serve them Russian tea, and perhaps we'll all sing the "Volga Boat Song" together.

Things continue to get increasingly surreal.


12:42 PM  
Blogger Noah Linden said...


After I tried to post that other comment, I realized I had posted more than once in 24 hours. My apologies.

You're right that I'm insisting that people learn to see everything as sacred. It's not The Answer, but merely a necessary part of any solution, IMO.

There are alternatives to this. One is corporate capitalism, in which nothing is seen as sacred, where people and the planet are exploited until they die. The other alternative is fascism, where some people and things are deemed as sacred and others are not (and those people/things that are not seen as sacred are killed/destroyed to make room for those that are seen as sacred). I'm not really a big fan of either of these alternatives, so I'm going with "let's see everything as sacred".

I'm open to lots of alternatives as long as they include seeing everything as sacred, and as long this is done compassionately and altruistically. I'm open to the various major religions, and to different forms of government, as long as they embody the values mentioned above.

You yourself laid down dozens of new "rules" for a better world several hundred comments ago, like the abolition of the TV screen (which I agree with). It's something of a formula, and there's nothing wrong with that. It's not "The Answer", but part of any solution that would have any chance of working.

2:29 PM  
Anonymous Smith said...

Here's something everyone might find interesting:

I've recently been reading the works of the Roman Stoic, Epictetus.

And it was Epictetus who came up with the idea that, to paraphrase, "no man is made miserable because of another."

What this idea was SUPPOSED to mean is that if a tyrant locks you up, you feel bad because you attach negative feelings to being locked up. So lose the feelings, and you'll feel less stressed.

This is what make people like Martin Luther King Jr. or Socrates possible, in THEORY at least, because like in that poem Invictus they are the "captains of their souls" and thus can fight for justice without fear.

The problem is that this Epictetus idea also is partially responsible for the fact that American "ethical" systems do not take "how we treat each other" into account (ever since John Calvin, really), because Americans don't believe that it is possible for us to take actions that harm others, so if you have a problem, you must have somehow caused others to treat you bad.

That's behind our opinion of the poor or behind American opinions of whoever gets arrested by the government. It's also behind American "backwards" notions of what consitutes maturity, as well: to Americans, "life is not fair" is a reasonable slogan.

I've actully spoken to Republicans online who think children should be punished for the actions of their peers, in order to teach them that "life is not fair" so they won't complain as much when they get dominated by bosses later in life, and "so they'll be grateful they even have a job at ALL, even if it's a lousy one."

But this Republican notion actually makes sense if your "starting point" is that "other people cannot REALLY hurt you."

So, everyone on this blog: blame it on Epictetus! (I'm joking, of course.)

3:08 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Maybe the Stoics were the 1st New Agers, I dunno. I always felt drawn to their work, a bit, in the sense that we do make a lot of our own misery; but obviously, infants being napalmed in Vietnam can't be put into that category. It may be a philosophy for those historical eras in wh/everything is going to hell in a handbasket, and there ain't too much one can do abt it, short of kidding oneself and attending 'est' seminars, which had a lot of the New Age/Stoic ideology behind them. (Then Oprah picked up from where Werner Erhard left off. What clowns Americans adore, eh?)


The only reason I came up with some 'rules' (not what they were at all) was that u gave me the impression that you just *had* to have them, so I thought I'd humor you. But certainly, they had no 'weight'. I know the difference between is and ought; I'm not sure u do. And when u say "I'm open to" this or that, it sounds like you think you have power to decide things; that your opinion or desires are going to make a difference in the real world. They won't, believe me, any more than mine will. You also seem to want guarantees in this life; there aren't any.

In general, I feel I'm going to have to let other folks on this blog respond to you, shd they wish to, because I find your correspondence--well, a tad strange. It comes across 'thru a glass darkly', as tho from another planet; at least to me. I don't think you actually understand the things I write, or how they are meant; and I sometimes have the feeling that your messages are really part of an internal dialogue that u.r. having w/yrself, and that u.r. writing just for the sake of hearing yr voice. Yr messages come across as off the mark, a bit incoherent, situated in a context I can't understand. I don't know how to help you w/all this, but then, that's not really my job. But I mention all this because rdg what u write and trying to disentangle it tends to be a bit exhausting. So, I'll be glad to run it, but I probably won't respond to it all that much. Sorry.


3:50 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

Smith, you and others here may like Stephen Greenblatt’s book: The Swerve: How The World Became Modern. About the rediscovery in the 1400’s of the Roman Lucretius’ poem: On the Nature of Things. The philosophy of Epicurus contained in the poem was nearly lost forever as the culture collapsed into the hands of a Christianity that worshiped pain rather than pleasure as self-flagellation became an art form among monastic Christians. Knowledge of the sinful pagan world was discouraged, ancient texts were copied as a form of discipline, not to be read and discussed. (I believe, Dr B talks about this is DAA.) The Romans may not have been the most rational people but they had the sense to know that pain was something to be avoided, and there was a tradition, adopted from the Greeks, of encouraging the discussion of ideas. I feel an affinity for the ideas of the Epicureans over the Stoics. I haven’t finished the book yet, but it’s a fascinating history.
When Texas and other places do manage to ban higher order thinking, as they are striving to do, and knowledge is once again on the run, I expect Dr. Berman’s books would be among the first to go, because they provide lessons in how to think, which can lead to the dreaded “questioning of fixed beliefs.” Of course, Americans have mostly succeeded in banning thinking simply by participating in their own culture, which is like performing a self-administered lobotomy.

7:09 PM  
Anonymous abc said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

Noah--sometimes I think we make life more complicated than it already is, especially our place in it. From reading your posts it seems you're very interested in the sacred inherent in life. This is an anecdote from Man's Search for Meaning by Frankl, a Jewish doctor in a death camp. I've always found it to be a beautiful story and I hope you do too.

"This young woman knew she would die in the next few days. But when I talked to her she was cheerful in spite of this knowledge. 'I'm grateful that fate has hit me so hard,' she told me. 'In my former life I was spoiled and did not take spiritual accomplishments seriously.'Pointing through the window of the hut, she said,'This tree here is the only friend I have in my loneliness.' Through that window she could see just one branch of a chestnut tree, and on the branch were two blossoms. 'I often talk to this tree,' she said to me. I was startled and didn't know how to take her words. Was she delirious? Did she have occasional hallucinations? Anxiously I asked her if the tree replied. 'Yes.' What did it say to her? She answered 'It said to me "I am here--I am here--I am life, eternal life."

8:33 PM  
Anonymous Zero said...

Regarding Brandon Raub’s psychiatric commitment because of his Facebook comments, as explained in the interview with his lawyer (see link below), this has been routine practice in the US for many years. As the lawyer in the interview says, there are 20,000 civil commitments in the state of Maryland each year.

The key phrase here is “civil commitment”. State and federal law enforcement have been using this for many years to keep people incarcerated without a trial, sometimes for life. Sometimes they get a once-a-year “review” with a judge who then decides whether or not to extend the civil commitment for another year. Usually, people civilly committed are kept in the same prisons as regular criminal inmates, and receive the same exact treatment, except that they are not referred to as “inmates” and are not required to wear inmate prison uniforms. Other than that they are inmates. Many of these are what one might call political prisoners.

Incidentally, the Soviet Union and the former communist countries in Eastern Europe all used this form of civil commitment, often in psychiatric wards. So the US is now where the Communist block was in the 1960s and 1970s. Way to go, America!

10:05 PM  
Blogger Noah Linden said...


I have learned one thing from this: stick to the topic. Admittedly, my responses were out of left field, straying wildly from what you were saying, or not being relevant at all. But I am NOT a narcissist or an idiot, as you seem to be implying. I'm actually hurt that you would think that of me.

So I'll try one last time to engage you.

Repeating the same mistakes forever? I'm not so sure. Perhaps humanity will evolve to the point that these mistakes will happen less often. Will they be eliminated entirely? I think not. I just can't help but see that single-celled organisms evolved into human beings, who, unlike bacteria, are capable of ethical reasoning. Perhaps in a hundred million years - if the human species survives that long - we'll find ethical reasoning and ethical behavior to be easier, less full of struggle.

Beyond this, I do in fact believe in reincarnation and God, and do believe everyone will return to God eventually...and stop making mistakes. This is why I see every being as sacred.

I can't prove this to you, nor do I wish to attempt to do so. That's a discussion neither of us wishes to have.

1:31 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Another example of "Comedy thrives." General John Allen, the top US commander in Afganistan, said on Aug.24 that he doesn't know why at least 10 NATO troops have died in the last 2 weeks by the same Afgan forces they are training. He suspects it may have something to do with asking Afgans to perform dangerous operations during the recent Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Absolutely. Forget the fact that Afghanistan has been occupied for 10 years,have had their Korans burned, a soldier last month killed 16 Afghans (9 were children) and of course the near constant drone attacks (which includes wedding parties, funerals, and rescue parties) which have killed thousands of Afghan civilians. In addition, as Wikipedia reports, the war has caused displacement, starvation, disease,exposure, lack of medical treatment, and crime and lawlessness. Perhaps we can give an annual award to the person who best exemplifies CRE. Needless to say, I nominate General John Allen.

8:29 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Correction: The soldier killed the 16 Afganis last March.

11:58 AM  
Anonymous Stone said...

Noah sez:

"I have learned one thing from this: stick to the topic."

And, then, he sez:

"Beyond this, I do in fact believe in reincarnation and God..."

Isn't that stretching the topic a tad bit?


3:29 PM  
Anonymous Zero said...

Hey Noah,

Like they say, "Don't sweat the small stuff." Why not just kick back and enjoy this imperial collapse -- it's the greatest show on Earth, since Rome. Enjoy!

And now... In Imperial Collapse news:

"Britain withdraws threat to raid Ecuador’s embassy"

I tell ya, I'm getting lots of laughs seeing these dumb British pussies react with such "Narcissistic Rage," if I may use Freud's terminology here. They really are pathetic. And like all narcissists, they are extremely weak. They must be rolling on the floor laughing in Beijing and Moscow.

And not just Britain, but the other Anglo-Saxon pussies, like Canada, and Australia.

Hey, Anglos, the party is over. Your looting the world is over. The world has wised up to your scams, your genocidal “aid”, your “cultural” filth. The choice before you now is clear: you either (1) tighten your belt, get on with the new program, and learn to earn an honest living, or (2) crawl under a rock and sob until you choke on you stupid prides. Whichever choice you take, one thing is guaranteed: you won't be missed, you miserable parasites.

5:03 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Just so we're clear: you have negative feelings towards Anglos, is that correct? I ask because your statement seemed a bit ambiguous, perhaps a tad wishy-washy, so I just wanted to make sure I understood it correctly.


5:45 PM  
Anonymous Rubio99 said...


"Britain withdraws threat to raid Ecuador’s embassy"

I am unhappy because the decision by Britain to back off will prolong the show of collapse. They should have invaded the embassy of Ecuador so that other peoples around the world will respond in kind and action by invading all British embassies everywhere.
This was the case of whoever has bigger guns will travel; the British and Americans thought they had bigger guns and should therefore bully their way to making other nations submit in fear and trembling. They are not only deadly parasites; they are the only problem killing the entire planet earth. They have done more damage than good to the world, period.

7:06 PM  
Blogger Reader said...

Mr. Berman,

I am currently reading your Twilight book and on the subject of education I thought to share the following:

As stated by Karl Rove, "As people do better, they start voting like Republicans...unless they have too much education and vote Democratic, which proves there can be too much of a good thing." The New Yorker (February 16, 2001)

Contrast Rove's statement against a quote by Martin Bormann, "Education is dangerous. It is enough if they can count up to one hundred. At best an education which produces useful coolies for us is admissible. Every educated person is a future enemy." Quoted in "The Trial of the Germans: An Account of the Twenty-Two Defendants Before the International Military Tribunal" - Page 101 by Eugene Davidson - History - 1997

7:39 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


At the time that I was doing the research for that bk, in the late 90s, the combined figure for US illiteracy--i.e., total and functional (the latter being defined as reading at the level of a 5th-grader or less)--was 120 million. I can't recall what the total US pop. was at the time, but I'm guessing that the proportion of illiteracy is much greater now, 15 yrs later. I remember rdg that the rate of illiteracy in Detroit was 47%, and in Vietnam, 6.7%. They won that war in more ways than one.

Last yr, a friend of mine told me about a recent study of the subject--unfortunately, he didn't have the source, but he's a trustworthy guy--that revealed that a significant % of the American public (again, I don't have #s) was not able to read the instructions on a standard vending machine so as to extract a coke or bag of peanuts or whatever. If u can track that down on google, I'd be very grateful. I wdn't be surprised if it was as much as 1/3 of the country.

I just got an email out of the blue from a Mexican guy who said he was raised in the US and is now trying to get Mexican citizenship so he can live down here permanently. His complaint is that he can't find a single intelligent person to talk to, whereas (my experience as well) it's not that difficult in Mexico. I'm sure there's a high illiteracy rate down here as well; but when you talk to Mexicans, you quickly discover they aren't out of it.

America probably holds the world championship in CRE.


8:05 PM  
Blogger LJansen said...

Interesting take on the contradiction between our Calvinist foundations and the political wielding of today's consumerist sex.

"Margaret Thatcher famously remarked, “There is no such thing as society,” meaning there are only individuals, who must meet obligations outside of the boundaries of society; however, they are living within the parameters of capitalism’s impulse to profit from everything and everyone, and they do experience an unconscious universal impulse that is internalized by way of commercialism, according to Luciana Bohne, Erotic Capital: Love and Sex in the Neoliberal Age, University of Pennsylvania. By extension, this unconscious impulse for lust that is derived from mass media commercialism influences the libido by liberating, in private acts, the consumer from the strict Calvinistic foundations of society. This creates an internalized conflict, fear of God versus desire for lust, which automatically plays into the hands of politicized capitalism, serving as a tool of control over the populace. For example, the sex card as constructed by capitalism, has become the principal tool of right wing politics, starting with Family Values, interfering with women’s rights, and casting a pall of guilt on voters who betray their fundamentalist politics. Thus, capitalism and sex have solidly linked together as one of the most radical tools for political action in the 21st century. Indeed, capitalism, for the benefit of the elite, is thus perpetuated by utilizing sex and sexism to establish power over the purse on the steps of the nation’s capitol.

"As the result of the increasing empowerment of the extreme fundamentalist movement, politics today appear ready to explosively re-define the landscape for sexual issues, de-fund Planned Parenthood, and pass a Federal Personhood Amendment to effectively overturn Roe V Wade, assaulting women’s status. This solidifies the argument that sex & sexism are conjoined with capitalism so powerfully that democratic capitalism is shaped by the intents of the nation’s earliest settlers who came to America, bringing capitalism with them, to escape religious persecution, and as a result, those early pioneers set a hook into capitalism that covertly lusts but overtly controls the nation based upon the precepts of Calvinism.

As a nation, we cannot escape our past!" [SHADES OF MB]

11:46 PM  
Anonymous shep said...

To MB & Julian:

Wishy-washy or not the % of colored peoples in the USA in 2030 will exceed the white peoples.

So. I think we should start a "Currud " Party to vote against the white dolts, if for no other reason than to see what the black elites do, since they try to be white all the time.

BTW. The capital, of the world championship in CRE, is alabama (no caps on purpose).

7:44 AM  
Anonymous TimR said...


"The Romans may not have been the most rational people but they had the sense to know that pain was something to be avoided, and there was a tradition, adopted from the Greeks, of encouraging the discussion of ideas. I feel an affinity for the ideas of the Epicureans over the Stoics."

My understanding (and correct me stoics if I am wrong) is that stoics are not anti-pleasure, they just try to guard against *attachment* to pleasure. They don't intentionally seek out pain, except perhaps as an exercise in detachment (with the paradoxical goal of ultimately being immunized from pain, or able to endure it.) Anyway, the actual philosophy doesn't quite match our colloquial use of the word, which puts too much emphasis on asceticism.

I got this from a book by a contemp. stoic, but darned if I can remember the author/title. I know the library shelf it's on, but I'm probably the only Alabamian on this blog, so that doesn't do much good... He had some interesting anecdotes about the various philosophical schools, their relative success with finding adherents, and the politics or practicalities of it. Reminded me a little of the "school" of Berman and other thinkers/ pundits/ speechifiers :-)

10:13 AM  
Anonymous Henri said...

@Tim F., RE: Zerzan vs. "the anarchist alternative"

First, Zerzan is anarchist, specifically, anarcho-primitivist.

Second, there is no way to have a mass human society in numbers above Dunbar's Number* without it becoming hierarchical/despotic.** Humans in groups above 150 will always have an elite Lording-It-Over others. Egalitarianism (i.e., Nobody Lording-It-Over others) comes with an evolutionary neurobiological limit. One may as well try hope for humans to be able to run 3 minute miles as to have an egalitarian "anarchist" mass society.

"We cannot escape ourselves." ~Henri

*Dunbar, R.I.M. (June 1992). "Neocortex size as a constraint on group size in primates". Journal of Human Evolution 22 (6): 469–493.
** Godesky, Jason. (July 2005). "Thesis #11: Hierarchy is an unnecessary evil." The Thirty Theses

1:26 PM  
OpenID alphistia said...

Dear Prof Berman,
When I read a (very long) article from the NYT about an American who hustled his way into some money by running a fraudulent service, I yearn even more for an Ecotopia or my own

This man, who used to work for a religious organization, made a good amount of money writing and charging for positive reviews that appeared on amazon and google searches, hopefully driving sales.

None of the people involved, including the author of the piece, seem to recognize the immorality of it all. And the offender himself says the market takes care of frauds like him, so not to worry. And true enough, his reviews were eventually taken down, and he's off to some other shady endeavors.

You are right, a society of 300 million plus that thinks this is normal...well it's nor normal at all, it's horrible.

Article is here:

1:47 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


The impt thing to recognize is that this is the norm. I dunno if u ever saw the HBO/BBC series "Rome," abt the Caesar period and after when Rome went from republic to empire (actually, a reader of this blog was kind enuf to send it to me). The parallels w/contemporary America are quite uncanny. In particular, it was a society steeped in violence and corruption, but so pervasive was it that standards of rt and wrong had all but disappeared. You wd 'enjoy' it. (And note to Chuck: thanks a million; I actually screened it 2x in a row.)

I suggest putting a post-it on your bathrm mirror, so that u hafta look at it every day. In block capitals write:


This wd be a very gd way to start yr day--clear yr head, so to speak.


1:57 PM  
Anonymous Tim F said...


I wasn't suggesting he wasn't an anarchist or anarcho-primitivist or positing him against anarchism. I was suggesting him as an example of someone offering a critique of current society on issues such as technology, lack of community, violence in society for example. I believe these are issues that MB writes about here and in his books so I thought I would raise him as an example.

With regards to mass society, he seems to be very much against it. Is mass society a given or desirable? I am not sure myself, personally I think something far more localised should be the direction we are going in. Local food production, collective ownership, local crafts etc. Perhaps that is a utopian vision, but at the same time one that many people are working towards in small ways.

What sort of society do you believe "we" should be working towards out of interest?

2:24 PM  
Anonymous Zero said...


I admit, I have been too subtle in expressing my feelings about the Anglo breed of scum-suckling subhuman trash. I promise to me more clear in the future :)


About that guy who made some money writing positive reviews on amazon, that may sound shocking, but in the big scheme of things, it is minute. To give you an example of a greater fraud that has been going on for decades, consider that the vast majority of drug-related articles published in so-called reputable psychiatric and medical journals (such as New England Journal of Medicine) which in one form or another promote the use of psychiatric medication, are little more than commercials written by “hired guns” (“star” professors at various medical schools). These professors receive outright payment for writing such deceitful articles, often in the hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. This practice has been very well documented, and the books below give lists of names.

Then, there are ghost writer agencies that pharmaceutical corporations employ all the time to writing favorable articles about one drug or another, and then find one of these corrupt “star” professors to publish it under their name. This also occurs when medical equipment is involved. This is why reading medical journals published in this country and the UK is an absolute waste of time, as they are nothing more than deceit.

Any parent here who was told that their child has ADHD, bipolar disorder, or another one of these “invented” mental illnesses, and therefore needs to be pumped up with toxic drugs, should immediately read the books I mention below, and then should start thinking about raising their child in a saner country. These “illnesses” are almost unheard of in other nations (although the drug companies are right now investing heavily in “educating” foreign psychiatrists about them).

Here are some recent best-selling books that discuss in detail what I wrote above:

Waters, E. (2010). Crazy Like Us. New York: Free Press.

Whitaker, R. (2010). Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America. New York: Crown Publishing.

Carlat, D. (2010). Unhinged – The Trouble with Psychiatry: A Doctor’s Revelations About a Profession in Crisis. New York: Free Press.

3:30 PM  
Blogger Boris the Spider said...

They've found a new way to get cheap labor out of us -- imprison someone and make him work for 25 cents per hour until he's set free, even though he's never actually charged with anything.

4:03 PM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...


Please don't be too hard on Zero about the ambiguous phrasing in his anti-Anglo crypto-rants. I suspect I am not the only Wafer here who enjoys the process of gently teasing the cleverly hidden meaning and bias out of his neutrally poised, fence-sitting p(r)ose.

Well, alabama might be the CRE capital of the world, but my late friend Ron had a fondness for mississippi. If you can't wait 2:10 for it, go ahead and F/Fwd.

6:23 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Yeah, the problem is that I thought Julian was pulling his punches a bit too much; holding back. I prefer a direct statement of position, no holds barred. I cdn't make out from his post whether he was pro-Anglo or anti-Anglo, which is why I asked for a clarification. I'm still not entirely certain.


6:53 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

What you say about the Stoics sounds right, such as your statement that they have been mischaracterized as excessively ascetic. Thanks for bringing this up because I didn’t mean to imply that the Stoics were anti-pleasure or would have approved of the the kind of painful practices early Christians undertook to avoid sin. Interestingly, Greenblatt in The Swerve points out that Epicureans were and still are miscast as seekers of excessive pleasure. Their way of life emphasized friendship, and seemed to me to have also had some of the admirable features of the counter-culture and anarchist movements. I’m no expert, just an interested dabbler in ancient history and philosophy. One of Dr. Bermans’ themes is the comparison between the Roman empire and our own, so I thought I’d mention any pertinent book on this endlessly fascinating topic.

BTW, this anti-Anglo talk reminds me of the start of War On Iraq and how we were told we now had to hate the French and the Germans and love the Brits. So I immediately decided to become fanatically pro-French and pro-German, still am to a large degree.

11:02 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I might have mentioned this before but there is a poem by Robinson Jeffers which was, I believe, written in the 1920s in which he foresaw much of what we are discussing here. The poem is "Shine, Perishing Republic" and it deals with the reality of our national decline and offers hope that it can be the beginning of other things, just like nature itself is composed of cycles. The poem is easy to find on the web.
I once visited the stone house that Jeffers built by hand in Carmel by the Sea. He is an inspiring poet to me.

11:04 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Yr handle is too close to 'Anonymous'; pls pick something more definitive, such as Rufus T. Firefly. Meanwhile, I discuss that poem on p. 278 of the Dark Ages bk; it really is terrific.


It might be great if Wafers cd all pick some utterly obscure country, such as Chad or Luxembourg or Freedonia, and become fanatically attached to it. Perhaps even sponsor tours of the place. (On Freedonia I refer u to "Duck Soup," in which Groucho Marx plays Rufus T. Firefly.)


11:18 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

“It might be great if Wafers cd all pick some utterly obscure country, such as Chad or Luxembourg or Freedonia, and become fanatically attached to it. Perhaps even sponsor tours of the place.”

I must confess, you have an astonishingly good idea there, Dr.
I propose we found and give fanatical devotion to the fertile state of Batguanoland in honor that great American role model, hero, and soldier Colonel “Bat” Guano from Dr. Strangelove. Batguanoland, Batguanonia, Batguanostan...

1:22 AM  
Anonymous Joe doesn't know said...


I think the book you are referring to (by the contemporary stoic) is "A Guide to the Good Life" by William Irvine. I read it a few years ago and found it to be a very good introduction to stoicism.

1:59 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

I have an affinity for the Irish, Palestinians, hapless Arawak Indians, Jews, all people of color...

Here is a lyric from the Irish song "The Fields of Athenry" (Pronounced rye).

"For you stole Trevelyne's corn, so the young might see the morn.
Now a prison ship lies waiting in the bay."

Things never, ever, change.

8:59 AM  
Anonymous Smith said...

Morris Berman, here's an update:

Another school shooting, but what I found interesting is the suspect's motivations. Apparently he did this because he was bullied...

...which ticks me off, because now the school authorities are going to assume every bullied kid is a school shooter in waiting (more than they already do, anyway) so the people who get beaten by other children in school will suffer even more punishment on top of THAT to pre-emptively cut off any chance of sympathy towards a school shooter.

To quote the Onion (a parody newspaper) about the Fort Hood shooter making Muslims look bad, "Thanks a lot, asshole!"

Thank God I'm 27 and living and working among (mostly) decent people, and even HERE I have problems when I try to speak truth to people. I can barely IMAGINE the nightmare life must be like for people who live in places where schools don't bother shaping common decency.

4:47 PM  
Anonymous Zero said...

In "Empire Chaos" news:

I wonder how long until a southern general crosses the Potomac River with his armies, crowns himself emperor of the world, and claims to be god. All this while dressed in a toga, and shouting (with a southern drawl), "Iacta Alea Est".

7:13 PM  
Blogger Reader said...

Smith said ..."Thank God I'm 27 and living and working among (mostly) decent people, and even HERE I have problems when I try to speak truth to people."

I teach in a so-called liberal environment; a CA public institution of higher learning, where my voice is now a minority voice. This wasn't true in years past but, today, it is sadly true. I have witnessed over the years more and more right-wing educators being hired and the following is what I have observed: When one of them gets hired and makes it through the tenure process they wiggle themselves onto the curriculum committee, faculty hiring committees, elected faculty Asso. (union) positions, and they run for Dept. Chair and win with their great, fake charisma and then they hire colleagues just like themselves. They are skilled at either wooing or bullying their administrative superiors. The remainder, well-meaning, meek and mild faculty, who are there to teach and research, not to fight, understand, or engage in (God forbid!) the political quagmire, are trapped, unprepared, and stupidly just let educational destruction happen. I don't fight it anymore, it is too redundant! I'm preparing to retire, so this dinosaur is another of the last. . .

11:49 PM  
Blogger Jack at CASCADIA ARTPOST said...

Kirkpatrick Sale has written a favorable review of WAF in the August 29th Counterpunch:

11:14 AM  
Anonymous abc said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

I read this Glenn Greenwald article this morning and thought to myself--maybe I shouldn't even read articles like this anymore, just ignore it, shut it out. I know beyond a doubt there's nothing I can do and it's just causing me frustration and anger to read about such grievous miscarriages of justice. Yet to close my eyes seems cowardly even if I'm powerless to right any of these wrong.

What do you think?

I watched the end of the Republican convention last night and Gov. Christy's speech identified the cause of America's problems: teacher's unions. Yes, Public Enemy #1 is Miss Smith's outrageous demand for a pension and job security. Is the world going insane?

12:08 PM  
Anonymous YerolpalHedvig said...

Nothing to add to Callenbach's well-stated analysis of our situation and it's possible outcomes. However, this re-framing of the industrial vs organic farming debate (from today's NYTimes) develops another angle from a similarly (if not equally) comprehensive perspective.

12:54 PM  
Anonymous yerolpalHedvig said...

The NYTimes artticle to which I refered: August 28, 2012, 9:00 PM 52 Comments
A Banker Bets on Organic Farming

12:58 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I salute Gov. Christie. These horrible teachers' unions have brought the country to its knees. They must be stopped.


It's Alea jacta est. More appropriate for the US might be Caput in gluteo.


2:36 PM  
Anonymous sanctuary! said...

Wonder if the Counterpunch review will cause another troll wave to roll thru.

Re Christie I dislike "fat jokes," but it's hard not to observe, objectively, that last night the world saw a politician who weighs 300 pounds telling the common people and poor people to tighten their belts. What for? For the looter elite, of which he's at least a supporter. And apparently many listeners agreed with his call for more "sacrifice" on the part the poor so that the rich may get richer.

An additional comment on this "sacrifice" business in his speech. Public calls to sacrifice are always issued most insistently before or during a war, it seems. If an elected Rom/Raul attains the acme of its desire and starts a war with Iran, then certainly there will be more sacrifice - of young people and the national treasury. Not to mention the sacrifices by the numerous intended victims of such privately lucrative aggression (skinny men, women, and children, bombs raining on their weddings and schools) ... and all that backed by enthusiastic popular flag-waving ... Meanwhile Gauleiter Christie won't "sacrifice" so much as a meal. And that's the keynote speaker.

Such a joke. It's the kind of joke one doesn't particularly feel like laughing at, tho.

4:23 PM  
Anonymous Armando99 said...

@abc: note that injustice and teacher’s unions go together in America today. Teacher’s unions are made off mainly middle class folks, so abusing them and doing blatant injustice to them is no big deal, especially by politicians. I am sure that Romney and Ryan could figure out a way to outsource all teaching jobs to India and China.

Watch the speech again and notice how Chris Christie plays on the word truth:

Ironically, Romney is not known for telling the truth. In fact, he lies and lies and lies, and everyone in America knows he is a congenital liar. It seems as though Chris Christie is poking fun at Romney’s ability to lie. Chris Christie’s speech can be summed as this: America’s problems require a leader who can tell us the truth all the time, and Romney lacks this quality.

See this:

5:09 PM  
Anonymous Stone said...

Just read Kirkpatrick Sale's review of WAF at Counterpunch. It is more than favorable, it is glowing.

Very well and clearly written; the reading of it just flows.

Yes, I recommend it to all here.


7:16 PM  
Blogger Alogon said...

Listening to the Republican convention on the radio with one ear, I just heard the former governor of Minnesota dissing tattoo wearers for impulsiveness and not thinking ahead enough.

But how far-thinking is it to alienate such a promising group of voters? For all I can tell, many tattoo wearers are probably already part of the GOP base.

9:59 PM  
Anonymous abc said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

Armando99--when I watched the speech by Christie the other night I was particularly dumbfounded by the line "I'm not against teachers, I'm against teacher unions". Who does he think belong to these unions? Martians?! Their tortured logic, well, defies logic. Ryan's speech was a garbled mess of cliches (I thought) but was getting rave reviews from the pundits plus he was lying thru his teeth. The only person who pointed this out was Al Sharpton. But my favorite moment was the home movie of the Bushwackers. They finally got Laura to wear something other than one of her ugly suits but I guess there's not much they can do about her vacant facial expression.

7:04 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

Callenbach predicted many things with uncanny accuracy. I'm sorry all his predictions are coming to pass. It's clear to me now that "advanced" societies are headed for dystopia. They may already have arrived there.

9:11 AM  
Anonymous RMarcos said...

US Army guerrilla faction planned terror, Obama's assassination

"I wonder how long until a southern general crosses the Potomac River with his armies, crowns himself emperor of the world, and claims to be god. All this while dressed in a toga, and shouting (with a southern drawl), "Iacta Alea Est""

Some of us are not surprised that some Southern racists want to murder President Obama. When Bush was destroying America by starting two unpaid wars and by allowing the Wall Street thieves to destroy the financial institutions, the racists said nothing. It is obvious that some people from the South are still fighting the civil war till today (that's is the opinion of one of my professors in my university). Until the questions that started the civil war are settled, there will always be some people from the South who want to destroy the Union through assassinations. "We" wish and pray that "they" carry out "their" evil/racist design: the nation would be better off after Second Civil War. By now, the rest of the world knows the sole source of the problems killing the planet!

11:35 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


When I get elected president, my 1st act in office will be to require every American citizen to have a tattoo put on their foreheads: HORSE'S ASS

This shd clear up any identity problems that still remain in this country.


2:49 PM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

MB, 1st act in office will be to require every American citizen to have a tattoo put on their foreheads: HORSE'S ASS

Then everyone who looks in a mirror will think they are the only ones who aren't horse's asses ?
Oh, ca it.

But'll need to test everyone for dyslexia first.
Otherwise those poor folks will think they're the only ones who are...

4:02 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


This is a very profound question; perhaps as profound as Rom Mittney's haircut. But perhaps Americans will look in the mirror and say, "Oh, I've got it ass backwards."

As for Rom, I'm seriously getting worried here. The guy is such a block of wood that it just seems unlikely he will win. Of course, Americans are blocks of wood as well, but the polls have the 2 clowns neck and neck, and I'm terrified that Mittney won't be able to pull ahead. Now while Obama has been very destructive for the country, Mittney holds out the promise of being extremely destructive, and thus speeding up the collapse process. In addition, if he fails to win, what was the purpose of all that work I did, my 5-vol. "Principles of Mittnism," soon to be published by the Rudolph Murdoch Press? I tell u, my insomnia is getting worse by the night.


5:06 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

New evidence spells doom for the Mitt Muffley team:
Nobody watched Ayn Ryan’s speech last night. Call it, the curse of Sara. You can cure your insomnia tonight, with Rominex, you should be able to hear the whole nation snoring, even that far south of the border. It would have been better for their chances if the hurricane had cancelled the whole thing.

9:21 PM  
Anonymous shep said...

9:22 AM  
Blogger Michael said...


Study finds 20-year-old female chimp smarter than U.S. high school students.

9:34 AM  
Anonymous Smith said...

"Then everyone who looks in a mirror will think they are the only ones who aren't horse's asses ?
Oh, ca it."

Thanks, infanttyrone, I needed a good laugh. It's so true, too.

Take the way we tend to act in romantic relationships, for example.

I'll give you a couple of websites for comparison:

One is called Boycott American Women. It's run by a misogynist who hates American women, hence the name. Apparently this man got fed up because women stopped automatically rewarding him for what should be basic human decency ("I buy them all kinds of gifts! Why won't they love me?!"), so now he wants to seek trophy brides in India or somewhere else abroad and wants to encourage American men to do the same, since American women are such ungrateful bitches.

Another website I'll use as an example is

It got started by women who were tired of men constantly complaining to them all the time, and using their niceness as a means of manipulation to get into their pass.

Unfortunately they hate ALL "walking victims," which they define as ANYONE who complains that someone has mistreated him (sounds a lot like the GOP's attitude towards the poor, doesn't it?). So the women on these websites are rebelling against the slave-like role of compassion they used to be boxed into, and I support this. But then they go too far and they think they're entitled to constantly be cruel to everyone they meet, treating their inferences and jumped conclusions as though they were reality and insisting on "holding people to account" for the crime of believing in civility and good manners.

And both the men AND the women think EACH OTHER is responsible for everything wrong with modern relationships.

Does anyone else have any thoughts?

12:04 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Dough boy Christie brings this Bruce Cockburn lyric to mind:

And some government gambler with his mouth full of steak
Saying, "If you can't eat the fish, fish in some other lake.
To watch a people die -- it is no new thing." back to the regularly scheduled quiet desperation.

1:09 PM  
Anonymous JWO said...

I just ran across this and thought the blog would like it:

1:43 PM  
Blogger Reader said...

Here's a relevant article by John Atcheson from today's Commondreams.

Brian, you'll like this one only he isn't talking apocalyptic Sci-fi, but the truth.

2:05 PM  
Anonymous JSRANK said...

@zosima ...Mitt Muffley That's a good one !
After watching that guerilla theater last night by Clint Eastwood ( farce ? ), that was my impression...a Peter Sellers parody. I halfway expected Eastwood to start having revelations about "precious bodily fluids".

The total inanity makes one realize that Republicans do not know that Clint Eastwood is an actor; and not really a tough guy cop, soldier, cowboy, or Secret Service agent.

Talk about men ( or people ) with no names !

Gentlemen, start your Darwins !

4:23 PM  
Anonymous shep said...


The Black agenda web site is one of the very best. Glen Ford, Bruce Dixon, Margaret Kimberley, et. al. are spectacular. They are constantly tearing the black fools for Obama to shreds. Here is a recent one that I like because of the picture of Pelosi and Obama "pointing".

I hate that shit. Who the hell are these people pointing to. U see it all the time. Elite pricks.

Cd not help 2nd post in 24 even tho I am well aware that we are all wasting our time. But it is fun watching, I guess.

8:49 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Great article, tho I suspect the chimp is also smarter than US college students.

I met this German guy in Guatemala a couple of yrs ago, he's abt 45, and he told me that when he was 18 his parents wanted him to do his freshman yr in the US so he wd become fluent in English. So he did, at some university in NY, I can't remember which. He said he was astounded: the students in his dorm wanted to know where Germany was, and if they had TV there. At first he thought it was a joke, but it turned out that they were serious. We're talking about university students in NYC, nearly 30 yrs ago.

Americans are dummies. This is the bottom line, and it's why the Left is deluded about the possibility of progressive social change. Chimps have a better chance of improving chimp society.

Only thing lacking from article was fact that Americans are also douche bags. Chimps are not douche bags.


12:32 AM  
Blogger Zosima said...

Our hopes for a more entertaining Mitt-filled future are dwindling. How boring do you have to be to get crushed in the ratings by John McCain? I’m afraid his only chance now is for turnout to shrink to the point where only the families of the candidates vote, as he definitely has the bigger brood.

Compared to the final night of the 2008 RNC Fox News was (-2%) of its viewership, while NBC (-56%), ABC (-26%), CBS (-30%), CNN (-52%) and MSNBC (-25%) were down mid double digits.

1:25 AM  
Anonymous Zero said...

It looks like Assange too thinks the West is headed toward a "dark place".

1:43 AM  
Anonymous JSRANK said...

@MB chimps can be douchebags. Specific tribes are violent warmongers.
Binobo's ( same DNA, but different social structure ) are not violent.

But your point: Too many Americans are like the violent chimps. A small amount of supposed humans are fascists...sociopaths that will kill everything around them in some bizarre "king of the hill" fantasy; unless the civilized kill them first.

3:26 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Actually, it's not true. The 'violent chimp' thesis is based on skewed evidence. Jane Goodall forgot to mention that the apes only became violent when they were put on a regimented feeding schedule. This was exposed by a woman named Margaret Power yrs ago; she wrote Jane 8 times abt it, got no reply. I also wrote the New Yorker abt it, and they wdn't print the letter. I did write it up in a bk called 'Wandering God', but sales were negligible. For some reason, we need to believe that we are inherently violent.


5:53 AM  
Anonymous bart said...

Michael, MB and company,

Thanks for that chimp info. I feel vindicated as well. I've remarked on many occasions to my wife that I'd have better luck finding an audience who understand my artwork if I took it down to the Albuquerque Zoo. What does my work consist of? A painting of a demented gas-masked rotting corpse shouting "Mission Accomplished"... Survivalists in the woods eating corpses to build up their strength for the coming Armageddon.. Abu Ghraib piles of corpses in devastated landscapes.... Adam and Eve with bulldozers at work in the background..... Gulliver being used as a new habitat by the Lilliputians, eyes gouged out ...

I had a show of my work in Santa Fe that I called "The Truth Hurts". I was asked by the gallery PR guy what the title meant.... and basically said, "Beats me." Imagine George Grosz and Otto Dix running around Germany with art audiences asking them "What the hell is that work about? Are you guys insane?"

My local art community treat me as a pariah. I draw in coffee shops where the deeply disturbed, the castoffs, the uneducated, the PTSD vets, the drugged up and lost kids all pass through. Some use what I'm drawing as a conversation starter basically to find out how much money or what kind of hustle I've got going.... "I've been wearing the same pair of jeans for as long as I can remember, kid. That might give you some notion of what a big moneymaker this is." Yes, the Monastic option, as if there were any others, right?

I love Thomas Frank's word for these various Art Towns = "Potemkin Bohemias." All the beautiful art for such beautiful people. Without the DAA blog, as well as the books, I'd think I was completely insane. So thanks much to all writing in here to this little island in a sea of madness.

8:52 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

A Chinese exchange student told me that when there was a thunder storm, an American asked her if there was thunder in China. She answered sarcastically no since China was on another planet. Of course the American did not get the irony of her remark.
Do not fret about Rom Mitney. Michael Moore expects him to win since he has the most money and there are still quite a few undecideds who historically vote for the challenger. And,again, no president has ever been reelected if the unemployment rate is above 7.2 %.
But the main point of this entry refers to what you wrote above with regards to the end of the Roman Empire, a society that lost all standards of right and wrong.Last week the New York City public school system announced that students will no longer be suspended for smoking or gambling. Philadelphia will not suspend for obscenities, making obscene gestures or cutting class. They may not even get suspended for fighting if the principal decides not to. In other words, a student can get up in class, say "Fuck you, bitch, I'm spending my day in the lunch room" and there will be no consequences. In other words, late Roman Empire is certainly here.

9:45 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

For some reason, we need to believe that we are inherently violent.

This "blame the genes" meme has become quite popular, hasn't it? From men acting like gross, self-centered, perpetual adolescents around women, to accumulating as much stuff as possible at any cost, to killing indiscriminately -- so much easier to lay all the responsibility on biology, rather than on the individual & the culture that shapes him. (And also her ... but more often than not, it does seem to be him.)

Funny, we seldom hear the argument that we actually have moral choice. But I guess that would require us to be actual reasoning human beings, rather than self-gratifying robots, proud of our supposed powerlessness to restrain ourselves.

And then we malign other animals like chimps, apes, pigs, dogs, etc., by using their names as insults. Well, I'll take any chimp or ape or pig or dog over many a human being these days!

I think a re-reading of Gulliver's sojourn among the Yahoos is in order now ...

10:08 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


This news leaves me ecstatic. What better to accelerate the cultural collapse then allow students to be hateful and obnoxious? The next step (I hope) will be to expel the 1% who are courteous and wish to learn something. O&D!


You need to keep in mind at all times that most of the folks u meet on a daily basis (in the US), are stupid, out of it, and potentially violent. (And terribly sad, if they wd only own up to it.) This really is no exaggeration: it's just 'This American Life'. Let me re-make an old suggestion: on your bathrm mirror, so u can c it every morning, a post-it that says:


11:04 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

Every one of the white dolts (includes everybody) in Alabamer wd think this is normal and appropriate.

"CNN confirmed Wednesday that one of its black camera operators was taunted this week by two Republican National Convention attendees, who were removed by security officials.

Atlanta-based CNN said the employee was inside the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Tuesday night covering the convention when the two attendees began throwing nuts and saying, “This is how we feed animals.”

11:48 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Yes, the 1% will probably include the twin daughters of a mother who said, "It's not fair to the children who are sitting in class and want to learn." How far the pendulum has swung. A few years ago a student could get suspended for making the gun sign with his/her hand. Now they can say "Fuck you" to your face everyday and nothing will happen. What's even more depressing is that Randi Weingarten, the head of the American Federation of Teachers, endorses these changes.

12:38 PM  
Blogger Reader said...

Bart said, "So thanks much to all writing in here to this little island in a sea of madness." Although, those of us following this blog think we are among the few sane ones left, to the rest of the world it is we who are the deeply disturbed. With the NDAA in place now, with or without the approval of the high court, it won't be hard for them to round us up to shut us up, no matter where in the world we are living.

On the conversation of stupid people ... there is a sea full of stupid voters out there who will vote for Mittney, for reasons they are unable to articulate. I have a young "friend" on fb who "likes" every radical, leftist post I make, but every few days she posts an "I like Mitt".

1:22 PM  
Anonymous Mark Fuller Dillon said...

"Unknown" mentioned Robinson Jeffers, which brought this little poem to mind (from ROAN STALLION, TAMAR, AND OTHER POEMS, 1925):

by Robinson Jeffers.

When the sun shouts and people abound
One thinks there were the ages of stone and the age of bronze
And the iron age; iron the unstable metal,
Steel made of iron, unstable as his mother, the towered-up cities
Will be stains of rust on mounds of plaster.
Roots will not pierce the heaps for a time, kind rains will cure them,
Then nothing will remain of the iron age
And all these people but a thigh-bone or so, a poem
Stuck in the world's thought, splinters of glass
In the rubbish dumps, a concrete dam far off in the mountain...

2:25 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Thank u all for yr informative contributions. I celebrate all of it. Since at this pt in American history, Bad Is Good, all of this violence and stupidity can only help to move things along. But I'm still nervous that Mittney might lose. Is it possible that he's too vapid even for the American people? Say it isn't so!

3:23 PM  
Anonymous Mike Alan said...

Reader said: "With the NDAA in place now, with or without the approval of the high court, it won't be hard for them to round us up to shut us up, no matter where in the world we are living."

I don't think there's any need for them to round us up. All of our ramblings bounce off the skulls of the masses. We might as well be speaking Chinese, Sumerian, Martian, or not speaking at all, same difference. We're really not a threat, but they may need some examples at one point to appease the masses.

To bart: Do you have your art posted on a website? If so, please post a link as it sounds quite intriguing. I would gladly shoot down I-25 from Colorado to Santa Fe or Albuquerque and buy some of it if I had any of that elusive magical stuff known as disposable income. My guess is your art is well beyond the comprehension of most people who possess this elusive magical stuff. After all, this system does its best to reward those who go along enthusiastically and blindly, like the lady in Utah that Dr. Berman mentions in DAA. Meanwhile those who might think, question or have a conscience are silently excluded and punished in subtle ways. I guess they just haven't learned the secrets of success, huh?

I will offer some thoughts about violence in a future post as it a topic I have considered often since I started studying Aikido last year. For now, I believe this is enough for today's post.

7:09 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

Americans seem to letting a silly little economic depression distract them from their God-given mission of perpetual war. How can these fools not know that more wars would mean the end of our economic troubles? There were no new bloodthirsty calls for war, or even for massive new military spending, by Mitt or anyone else at the RNC. No wonder the TV audience was way down. Where were the banners proclaiming Ann Coulter’s noble call to: “Invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.”? While more than 2 billion Muslims eagerly await conversion to Christianity by heavily armed American 20 year olds, our leaders remain mute, no calls for several new invasions, nothing. We’re just a country of wimps now. Is it any wonder that in their frustration people have taken to shooting up Batman movie audiences?

8:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you seen God Bless America yet, Morris?

The protagonist has a great line in an office scene where a co-worker is trying to convince him of the merits of an American-Idol-like show where the contestants are regularly humiliated for ratings:

"Everything is so cruel now, and I just want it all to stop."

I know what a trachea is.


10:38 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Several yrs ago Jay Leno was moderator for a contest held among America's smartest college graduates. The finalists had all won contests of this sort, to bring them to the top echelon, the creme de la creme. One young woman was asked, "What was the name by which Richard Nixon was popularly known?" She had no idea. When Leno said, "Tricky Dick," she said: "Well that's not very nice!" Four yrs of college, and this is her level of political analysis. She was also asked why 87% of her peer group were not able to locate Iraq on a world map, and she replied: "I really believe there aren't enough maps."

Two observations:

1. Among college graduates, the imbeciles gathered for this final runoff, this contests of contests, were the best America had to offer. Can you imagine what the intellectual capacity of the less-than-brilliant must be?

2. Very few people read my work, but if they do, their attitude toward my argument that the US is finished is to dismiss it out of hand. Yet what better evidence that the country is going down the toilet, than that demonstrating that the 'best' of our young people are little more than a joke?


1:02 AM  
Anonymous bart said...

Mike: Apologies. I'm one of 8 artists in the US that doesn't have his own website. One of these days I'll give in... just like I was the last person to give into CDs... since they stopped making vinyl. If you write me at I'll gladly send you some digital images to view. Plus it would be good to chat with a fellow WAFer about respective experiences of the West/Southwest.

mb: I have I LIVE AMONG DOLTS written on a post it on my computer now. It's hard to accept. But the evidence is overwhelming. And yes, terribly sad.

But it's not just the stupidity that's gotten to me, it's the moral depravity where lawyers write legal justifications for torturing prisoners and then are treated as distinguished guests when they go on tours promoting their books...

The hustling society at peak nausea:

Also thanks to Jack for the KS review of WAF. Excellent. ... particularly found it interesting that Mr. Sale thinks the collapse will come sooner than we realize, within a decade.

I think MItt Kneejerk will pull it off.... particularly after that galvanizing Every Which Way But Lucid speech by Clint Eastwood. ... no doubt having so many rounds of ammo going off next to his ear have left him with his own brand of PTSD.... I'm hoping he'll do a follow up to his film on the Conquest of Grenada.... show how we can knock off some more Caribbean islands and get our confidence back up after bungling Afghanistan and Iraq.

11:06 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

Here's a little item that caught my eye, from yesterday's "Dear Margo" advice column:

It's a letter from a woman who's dismayed to find guests in her home taking pictures of everything & then posting them on their Facebook pages, all without asking if it's OK with her. She wonders if she's a dinosaur for wanting a little privacy & basic courtesy.

What's interesting is the mockery & derision of most of the comments posted in response to her letter, demanding that she accept all modern technology, get with the program, essentially stop dragging her sorry old-fashioned ass, etc.

I've encountered this sort of thing myself when I mention that I don't use Facebook or Twitter or most "social" media -- or, for that matter, that I own just one basic call-only cellphone for emergencies (e.g., a flat tire in the middle of nowhere), which is turned off 99.99% of the time.

I don't just get bewilderment -- "How do you keep up with things?" -- but my choice is often regarded as some sort of attack on them & society as a whole -- "What makes you so special? Think you're better than the rest of us?" That sort of thing.

By the way, today's "Dear Margo" column got a response from someone who gently chided the regular posters for their bad grammar & spelling. They pounced on her as a "grammar Nazi" & made excuses for not even trying to proofread & improve their posts. She responded by saying she reads resumes every day, and warned that letting their kids get away with bad grammar & poor spelling could ruin their chances of being hired. They in turned retorted with arguments that language evolves & she should -- yep, you guessed it -- accept the modern "evolution" of English, get with the program, essentially stop dragging her sorry old-fashioned ass, etc.

I gather they're not familiar with Orwell's famous essay on the corruption of thought that comes with the corruption of language.

Online posts are a fascinating (if often terrifying) look into the American psyche!

11:44 AM  
Blogger Chad Hardwick said...

Some films all you WAFers may find interesting: Detachment, about a substitute teacher. Carnage, starring Jodie Foster and Kate Winslet, and which has scenes regarding a cell phone I suspect people here will enjoy tremendously. Also, Shame, which reviewers tend to say is about a sex addict, but my take was it is about an American being an American.

I am a long-time lurker here, and never post as my life up until recently has been kind of a mess. Frequent visits are always a breath of fresh air I sorely needed. Thanks to all.

12:17 PM  
Anonymous Mark Fuller Dillon said...

I'm not sure that many Americans would appreciate the mood of this poem, but WAFers might. It's by the California fantasy writer, Clark Ashton Smith, from his collection, THE DARK CHATEAU (1951).

"Desert Dweller"

There is no room in any town (he said)
To house the towering hugeness of my dream.
It straitens me to sleep in any bed

Whose foot is nearer than the night's extreme.
There is too much of solitude in crowds
For one who has been where constellations teem,

Where boulders meet with boulders, and the clouds
And hills convene; who has talked at evening
With mountains clad in many-colored shrouds.

Men pity me for the scant gold I bring:
Unguessed within my heart the solar glare
On monstrous gems that lit my journeying.

They deem the desert flowerless and bare,
Who have not seen above their heads unfold
The vast, inverted lotus of blue air;

Nor know what Hanging Gardens I behold
With half-shut eyes between the earth and moon
In topless iridescent tiers unrolled.

For them, the planted fields, their veriest boon;
For me, the verdure of inviolate grass
In far mirages vanishing at noon.

For them, the mellowed strings, the strident brass,
The cry of love, the clangor of great horns,
The thunder-burdened ways where thousands pass.

For me, the silence welling from dark urns,
From fountains past the utmost world and sun...
To overflow some day the desert bourns...

And take the sounding cities one by one.

1:16 PM  
Anonymous shep said...

If u are looking for something good to do while waiting for the rapture, or, final collapse ....

2:15 PM  
Anonymous abc said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

Bart--I understand what you're saying about Santa Fe even though I don't live there. I visited friends about 2 yrs ago and was struck by how much the town felt like a Disney version of Santa Fe-ville or something. I remember going there probably 25 yrs ago and it felt authentic and genuinely charming. Now--just a pretentious high end retirement ghetto. They live outside town in a gated community where I never in three days saw another living person out walking; in fact the only life outside were some Mexican stonemasons building a wall. No kids, no loud music coming from a neighbor's house, just sterile, beautiful trophy houses. My friend told me the people who work in Santa Fe (hired help) cannot live there as even the smallest home is too expensive. It's as if in some strange, mysterious way the super-rich suck the vitality out of what they touch. Mitt is a perfect example.

8:06 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

I've been reading some of the extremely depressing fiction of David Foster Wallace lately; depressing because of his accurate portraits of the US. Wallace killed himself in 2008, at age 46, after winning tons of literary prizes and taking anti-depressants for 20 yrs. Sad story. Here's what he had to say abt the US at one pt (this from his obit in the NYT):

In response to a question about what being an American was like for him at the end of the 20th century, he told the online magazine Salon in 1996 that there was something sad about it, but not as a reaction to the news or current events. “It’s more like a stomach-level sadness,” he said. “I see it in myself and my friends in different ways. It manifests itself as a kind of lostness.”

Wallace covered the McCain campaign of 2000 for Rolling Stone; one wonders what he wd say abt Rom Mittney if he were alive today. I mean, talk about lost.

11:04 PM  
Anonymous sanctuary! said...

Tim, the "grammar Nazi" retort unfortunately appears to be common on online comment boards.

I made a finding which might disconcert MB. Dunno if this applies to grammar corrections, but Americans don't push back if you offer them a spelling correction online in the following way. (Example) 1. Dummy misspells rutabaga. 2. You reply: rutabaga*. I.e., the word as correctly spelled, immediately followed by an asterisk - and no other text.

What may send Dr. B reaching for a consoling slice of pastrami (which sounds unutterably good right now) is what this finding might mean. Are some Americans, in their online commenting, backing off like wimps? Ramping down their aggression level from 100% to 99.999999999999999999999%? Is a seed of face-saving and civility taking root on the web?

Or could it be that Americans just don't understand [correction]*?

If it's the former (or hell, even if it ain't), then we clearly need a war - what New Republic editor Herbert Croly, advocating America's entry into World War Uno, called "the tonic of a serious moral adventure."

Croly quote cited here (scroll far down):

Zosima, right on the mark about Rom w/o war. Bloodless in every sense. Campaign shd bray BOMB WITH ROM from here to Nov. 6!

11:43 PM  
Blogger David Clausen said...

For a week I was demolishing the kitchen of a house owned by a high-school chum. It had been lived in by yet another former school mate who had been amusingly grumpy. Two little signs, among many glued to the walls in the manner of twelve-step affirmations, caught my imagination.

One read, "What part of 'Eschew Obfuscation' don't you understand?", and the other, above the bathroom vanity cautioned, "WARNING: Objects in the mirror are stupider than they appear".

It's been shown that people completely ignorant of the issues and candidates can predict with alarming accuracy who will win an election when they are asked to choose who is the better looking among those running. You know, in a glittery-eyed reptilian sort of way, the Mittster cuts a fine figure.

We're screwed.

David Clausen

12:21 AM  
Blogger Zosima said...

Speaking of Tricky Dick, if you want a good laugh, check out the movie Dick. It’s an alternative history of Watergate, I want to believe it really happened that way. It’s the best movie about Nixon in the same way that Galaxy Quest is the best Star trek movie or Airplane is the best disaster movie.

2:40 AM  
Anonymous Zero said...


David Foster Wallace’s description of his feeling of sadness as an American resonates with me. I have been back to the US for a few weeks now, and just yesterday it struck me that I am feeling a mild depression. I have not felt this during the year I was gone, so it was easy to spot it as something new. And not only mild depression, but also loneliness and isolation.

Although we have lived for many years in this town, and thus know many people whom we referred to as “friends”, with one exception, we have not been able to meet with them. Most of these are of Romanian heritage, although at this point they are almost fully Americanized. Speaking with then is hard work at this point, as they feel compelled to somehow constantly compare the US with Romania constantly, as it to justify their decision to live here. Never mind that they have to work a trillion hours a week in order to pay their underwater mortgages, never mind that most of them have no health insurance -- they live in their American hallucination just the same.

Ironically, the “exception” I mentioned is actually an older gentleman born and raised in the US, yet, despite this, over the years, he has been the most reliable and steady friend we have known, possibly, because he is older and thus belongs to a more dignified generation.

Anyway, my expectations are very low this time around. I’m here so my daughter can learn native English and not much else. I don’t expect to achieve any “American dream” or even to meet somebody with whom to have a rational conversation about the topics that interest me. As such, I am not planning to try to alleviate this mild depression, nor do I care if we will be isolated for the entire year. Having such low expectations is one way to avoid being disappointed.

5:09 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Yes, low expectations can help; but even more, assume that everyone you meet has Velveeta Cheese in their head.


But I have this horrible feeling that Rom *won't* win. The horror, 4 more yrs of Millard Fillmore!

Mittney, I love you!


9:51 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

I am getting upset how frivolously people use the word Nazi like in soup Nazi,grammar Nazi, etc. My principal in fact likes to refer to herself as the "Lateness Nazi" since if you are late even by 5 seconds she marks you late for the day. The best definition I read of Nazi is "of unlimited evil". This, of course, is further evidence of how we debase language, robbing it of it's full impact.
Again, do not fret about Mitt's chances. I'm fully convinced that Obama was elected as a way to expiate white guilt vis a vis blacks in America. Having thus done so white America will feel little hesitation electing a white man next time. By the way, did you see John Nichols piece about Ryan when he came to his congressional district to march in the Labor Day parade? There were a large number of demonstrators denouncing him with absolute furry. An unemployed black man confronted him about the lack of jobs in the district and Ryan offered him a stick of gum and the schedule of a local football team.

10:36 AM  
Anonymous abc said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

If you haven't read DFW's A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, please let me recommend it to you. It's true story of a cruise he took for a magazine assignment. Funny, sad and dead on descriptions of fellow passengers.

Julian--it's simply a struggle to maintain friendships in America, or at least that's been my experience. B/c there's no town square, city cafes or neighborhood parks it's hard just bump into people and spend unscripted time with them. I think that's why Starbucks made it so big--it gave people somewhere to go and didn't try to hustle them out the door so another customer could have their table. Not perfect, but better than nothing.

3:56 PM  
Anonymous Zero said...

The disintegration continues... at an ever accelerating pace:

4:10 PM  
Anonymous SuperMani said...

Some men want to marry men. Some women want to marry women. Some teachers want to sleep with their underage students. WTF?:

A New Jersey 'Teacher of the Year' is under arrest over claims she had a summer affair with a teenage student. Erica DePalo, 33, romanced a 15-year-old West Orange High School pupil from mid-June until just a week ago, according to police.

The honors English teacher is Essex County's reigning top teacher for the 2011-12 school year. But she now faces first- and second-degree aggravated sexual assault charges, as well as a claim for endangering the welfare of a child.

The single woman from the town of Montclair is being held at a northern New Jersey lock-up in lieu of $100,000 bail.

'I don’t have any children,' DePalo remarked after winning her award, 'and I always say that I don’t have any children to go home and take care of.

5:06 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


In every Starbucks I've ever been to, the majority of the customers aren't talking to each other. Rather, they are staring into their laptop screens and talking on their cell phones. "Community," American-style.


6:10 PM  
Anonymous shep said...


The disintegration continues... at an ever accelerating pace:"

On Democracy Now, today, they were preening and palavering over John Lewis about his 1968 speech at the March.

He has been in the belly of the beast now for many, many years and never speaks out.

6:40 PM  
Anonymous bart said...


Santa Fe was a forerunner at turning itself into a sterile Disneyfied theme park/stageset/shopping mall. Other American cities have followed suit remaking themselves as pseudo-cultural destinations after sending all decent paying working class jobs overseas. For me, Las Vegas is the quintessential American City....Halloween the quintessential American holiday.

This Thomas Frank link was posted by another amigo a bit back on DAA... but here it is a again. A summation of the Thomas Kinkadization of America.

"Some places, however, have gone so far down the vibrant brick road that there appears to be nothing to do but patiently await the final Götterdammerung of the creative class. So hop to it, Akron: convert your very last rubber factory to an artist's loft, bring on the indie-rock restivals and have Santiago Calatrava design you a sweeping new titanium City Hall..."


I've heard about this phenomenon in Japan but have no idea how widespread it is. Japanese men are apparently using the Real Dolls as "real" life companions that they form deep emotional bonds with.... It's not just for sex! .... Where are we heading.... oh Lord???

There was a movie called Lars and the Real Girl on the same subject:

6:59 PM  
Anonymous BillOM said...

Dear Professor,

Off-topic, but I'm preparing to apply to your alma mater (Cornell) for admission to the MFA Creative Writing program. Thought I'd strike up a conversation with you about it. I was curious to see if you had any positive feedback about your time there, or if your advice would continue to be "don't go, it's in America."

Enjoying the blog.


7:15 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

abc- I don't think there is a city in the US with more parks, town squares, and coffee shops than Philadelphia but I estimate that at any one time 50% of the people are on some form of techno-crap. It's so sad. Not a few times have I left the center city area in near tears for all the potential friendships, love affairs, or just general conversation with someone feeling a need to talk that were thwarted because so many prefer to interact with a machine than with a living human being. Martin Buber wrote that there is no I without you telling me I exist. In that light very few of us can truly say we exist since there are an exponentially increasing number of people for whom we are invisible.

8:33 PM  
Anonymous Mikbeth said...

Dr. Berman:

Just finished Twighlight and I wished I had read it when it came out. It would have saved me from some very bad decisions I have made since that date. I ordered WAF having already read DAA.

Interesting confluence, just after I saw your comment about David Foster Wallace I ran across this article on Salon about a biography that just came out.

Also, here is a link to a Chris Hedges article that is very Dark Ages oriented with respect to the environment.

8:35 PM  
Anonymous Kevin said...

Blurb for your upcoming Vermont trip.

Any info on the Worcester stop?

8:43 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Man, I can't keep up w/u guys! Thanks for all the input.


I suppose I shd write the folks in Worcester, find out what's up. At present, all I can tell u is that I'm speaking at Clark University on Sept. 17. The talk is being sponsored by the Humanities Dept. But I don't know where or when it is. Hopefully, my colleagues there will clue me in prior to my scheduled appearance.


A couple of problems abt giving u advice re: Cornell.

1. I arrived on the campus as a freshman exactly 50 years ago this month; possibly, to the day. Hence, info from me on the nature of the school wd be just a tad out of date.

2. I did my B.A. in mathematics; I knew nothing of the creative writing program, and it's possible there wasn't one at Cornell in 1962.

3. I did, however, manage to study English Lit with Meyer Abrams and Forrest Read, and learned a shitload about poetry from them. However, "Mike" just turned 100, and Forrest is probably a bit long in the tooth as well.

The thing could suck totally, be a horrible experience, and drive u 2 drink, or worse. Hence, I suggest that u jump in w/both feet, and find out what it's like.


9:14 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: for a brief portrait of Cornell during those days, check out my poem "The End of Days" in the collection, "Counting Blessings".

9:16 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Sorry, I don't post Anons. If u wanna pick a handle and send yr message in again, that'll be fine. May I suggest Rufus T. Firefly?


11:13 PM  
Blogger Reader said...

Mr. Berman,

A bit off topic, but this was spurred by the general thread. Our youthfulness as a nation is evidence enough that we have no shared historical culture, dialect, food, dance, customs, costumes, ethics, moral standard, religion, stories, folk lore . . . the list goes on. We just showed up on someone else’s door step one day, told them “adios” and we moved in. We arrived as a bunch of hooligans and not much has changed since. When the early corporatists needed cheap labor they invited the down-and-outs from other countries to come and join the fray. We, as a nation, have no anchor to a historical memory, we have no standard by which to measure ourselves, and we have no history to honor, or to demonstrate to our children. Celebrations like Dia de los Muertos can hold a culture together. We burst on the scene like the bully in the play yard and we’ve done nothing but hone and engage that behavior, since. I will say, because it is Labor Day, that the early laborers in this country, who fought for the best that we’ve ever had, were the best of us.

11:53 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Yeah, that's a big part of it, but check out WAF: there was, in fact, an alternative tradition. True, the mainstream ignored it, and now we're in the shit as a result; but you know, when I read the work of a figure like Lewis Mumford, I say to myself: this person was an American. An American. And I feel the same about Melville and Poe and Thomas Cole and Arthur Miller.
As for labor, we did have groups like the Wobblies, but they never had much of a chance, really.


1:46 AM  
Blogger Reader said...

mb said, "As for labor, we did have groups like the Wobblies, but they never had much of a chance, really.

Mr. Berman, Exactly, but, they, the workers, the fighters for what is right, remain the best this country has demonstrated, sadly. Their short-term wins and losses remain an astute example of what this country attempted to be; but, one in which, now, is in such a desperate and dysfunctional decline.

2:16 AM  
Anonymous JSRANK said...

Prof Berman, your response to leyasu is funny, tragic, and illustrative. As a satirist, it is examples such as this that proves to me that the Statians are becoming exponentially less intelligent and pridefully so fulfillment of the premise of "Idiocracy". Who would figure it would take less than a decade, and not several centuries ?

Is your address for Sept 17 related to Constitution Day ? Perhaps in context as to the complete charade and carnival freak show aspect of 'having' a constitution and political process while living in a de facto empire?

2:17 AM  
Blogger john coltrain said...

Andy Kauffman, Mark Twain, PT Barnum, George Carlin, William Burroughs, Kurt Vonnegut, Charles Bukowski to name a few more "American hustlers" or is that "rustlers"?

" None of us could live with an habitual truth-teller; but thank goodness none of us has to. An habitual truth-teller is simply an impossible creature; he does not exist; he never has existed. Of course there are people who think they never lie, but it is not so,--and this ignorance is one of the very things that shame our so-called civilization. Everybody lies--every day; every hour; awake; asleep; in his dreams; in his joy; in his mourning; if he keeps his tongue still, his hands, his foes, his eyes, his attitude, will convey deception--and purposely. Even in sermons--but that is a platitude."
Mark Twain

In a far country where I once lived th

10:54 AM  
Anonymous abc said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

Dan--I was grasping at straws with Starbucks. Your point about Philadelphia having multiple places for people to interact but they are still primarily occupied with electronic gizmos is relevant. Still, these same people could accomplish the same e-interactions never leaving their apts if that's all they wanted. Maybe the new way of being with other people is a kind of alone/together where we want proximity but no real interaction. Maybe this is a skill that's been to some degree extinguished (our ability for spontaneous, neighborly intimacy), much as the childhood culture of games has been essentially lost in America. I don't remember the last time I saw kids playing jacks, pickup sticks, hop-scotch, hide-and-go-seek, and now there are no older kids to teach them these games.

Revolutionary Road (movie and book) do a great job of capturing the feelings of futility and desperation a young woman feels in this lifeless culture and her determination to break free.

11:02 AM  
Anonymous Kevin said...

Lyrics to the great Roxy Music song "In Every Dream Home a Heartache":

In every dream home a heartache
And every step I take
Takes me further from heaven
Is there a heaven?
I`d like to think so
Standards of living
They´re rising daily
But home oh sweet home
It´s only a saying
From bell push to faucet
In smart town apartment
The cottage is pretty
The main house a palace
Penthouse perfection
But what goes on
What to do there
Better pray there

Open plan living
Bungalow ranch style
All of it's comforts
Seem so essential
I bought you mail order
My plain wrapper baby
Your skin is like vinyl
The perfect companion
You float my new pool
De luxe and delightful
Inflatable doll
My role is to serve you
Disposable darling
Can´t throw you away now
Immortal and life size
My breath is inside you
I´ll dress you up daily
And keep you till death sighs
Inflatable doll
Lover ungrateful
I blew up your body
But you blew my mind

Oh those heartaches
Dreamhome heartaches

11:12 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Check out bk by Sherry Turkle, "Alone Together," on that subject.


11:18 AM  
Anonymous Nate said...


Are you reading (or have you read) Infinite Jest? It's basically 1200 pages of examining that feeling he talks about.

Here's a long-form interview that you might find interesting:

His Dr. tried new meds, they didn't work, and then his old meds wouldn't work either. And to think that he died in his 40s --such a huge loss.

Tim L-

Isn't it great? Everybody is a paparazzo/star!


I know a recent (~past 5-10 years) Cornell MFA grad and they can't say enough good things about the program. That being said an applicant's odds of getting in there are about as good as hitting tonight's Pick Three, so don't put all of your eggs in the Big Red basket.

11:29 AM  
Blogger took_the_red_pill said...

Speaking of David Foster Wallace, here's an interview from NPR with the author D.T. Max, who just published the definitive biography of Wallace, "Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story".

The Writer Who Was The Voice Of A Generation

(Audio download at link).

4:45 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

I was recently in a neighboring town to give a lecture at a colloquium, and the organizers put me up in a downtown hotel that had TV in the rooms. I don't own one myself, so that evening I started channel surfing and ran across a program I never knew existed: "Person of Interest." It was launched last year. The term itself refers to someone that the police or gov't have their eye on--not quite a suspect, but...Anyway, what interested me was how up on recent NSA surveillance developments the program was--as I described these in my post a while back, "Slouching Towards Nuremberg." It talked about a government monitoring system that was invented by one of the central characters, which ran like a machine, collected all available data on every single American, and had a sorting system called 'Thin Thread' (this is in reality the actual name of the computer program developed by the NSA). There was, at least in this one show I saw, oblique ref to how dangerous this could be in gov't hands; but rest assured, this was being used only to catch crooks, to stop crimes before they happened. Hence, benevolent.

When I checked it out on Wikipedia, it turns out that the show has been a smashing, and international, success. One reviewer said that it "engages a post-9/11 sense of paranoia in its viewers"; Mary McNamara of the Los Angeles Times stated that "the notion of preventing crimes rather than solving them is an appealing twist...The surveillance graphics are very cool." (This reminds me of the girl I mentioned above, who thought the epithet 'Tricky Dick' was "not very nice.") I can't help wondering if anyone in the media has pointed out that this is part of an actual, total domestic spy program; that Thin Thread exists in the real world; that this is a case of art following life, rather than the reverse; and that this spy program is surely part of the crucial apparatus of a police state, such as existed in the USSR and East Germany (the Stasi). It's hardly about crime-fighting.

I expect Americans to think the show is 'groovy' because they have their heads firmly wedged in their rumps. But has no one in the media pointed out that this shit is absolutely real, and is the de facto death of democracy? Has (e.g.) Dana Priest at the Wash Post commented on the show? Intentionally or unintentionally, doesn't the show serve to 'soften up' the American public to the existence of a total gov't surveillance program, make them feel this is nothing to worry about--i.e., that Big Brother is your friend?


7:44 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: Here's some cheery news:

8:48 PM  
Anonymous abc said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

I read an interesting article about 3 yrs ago about reality TV and how this concept was anything but harmless. Your observation that "Intentionally or unintentionally, doesn't the show serve to 'soften up' the American public to the existence of a total gov't surveillance program, make them feel this is nothing to worry about--i.e., that Big Brother is your friend?" was in the same vein as the point made in the article. Watching dumb people do dumb things not only makes the viewer comfortable with "spying" on others but also normalizes cameras in homes and puts surveilance in the category of entertainment rather than what it actually is: a breach of privacy. We frogs are slowly having the heat turned up while we blissfully, with bated breath, watch who'll be kicked off the island.

9:41 AM  
Blogger Boris the Spider said...

I watched the first few episodes of "Person of Interest" when it premiered. I was hoping it would be a subversive way to clue viewers into the Orwellian agenda by hiding it as a harmless crime show, similar to how "The Prisoner" subverted the spy genre in the '60s by stripping away the glamour and gadgets to show the paranoid control behind it all. But I gave up on it a few episodes in. It's just a crime-fighting show.

11:44 AM  
Anonymous JWO said...

Oh, no, now Canada has gone ape-shit American style!


12:25 PM  
Anonymous bart said...

And lest we forget, Americans don't hold the patent on stupidity:

Note: "Curiously, Mein Kampf--in which Hitler set out his racist theories--continues to be a bestseller in India, where business students view the book as an important guide for management strategies. More than 10,000 copies were sold in six months in New Delhi in 2009.".....

Although I believe it was retitled How to Win Friends and Influence People Updated by Adolf Hitler.....

But USA... USA... is undaunted in the stupidity sweepstakes:'

5:24 PM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

MB & Boris,

I probably saw 50% or more of the "Person of Interest" first season.

It's not "The Prisoner", but it's a little like what you would get if you could cross-breed that show with the ancient "The Millionaire" show that ran from 1955-1960.

It has a straight cop going through moral dilemmas related to working with the main two characters, who operate waaaay outside the normal police "box".

It has a corrupt cop going through the existential problems of being forced via blackmail to work with "the good guys" at times and forced by the good guys to also work as a double agent within an organization of crooked cops who do things like collaborate with organized crime bosses.

It has plenty of crooked cops and plenty of weak and/or crooked politicians.

And the CIA is definitely not portrayed as being on the side of the angels.

I doubt it has received any sort of imprimatur from any mainstream political group, commercial group (Chamber of Commerce or other), or law enforcement agency.

It's not A Touch of Evil, but with the exception of Breaking Bad it may be the closest thing we have to film noir on TV these days.

I have a hunch that David Foster Wallace would be watching it if he were still with us, and I wouldn't be surprised if Pynchon is taking notes.

Ciao y'all.

P.S. The earthquake here in CR was something remarkable. Almost nothing broken in my house, but M7.6 for 30 seconds felt like being on one of those rides at Universal Studios, the ones you have second thoughts about having gotten on about 10 seconds after they start.

5:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Morris,

Just wondering if you got my comment from a couple of days ago - re. meditation/Japan, etc.

Ieyasu Man

8:48 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Tokugawa Ieyasu-

Oops! Yes, I did, but I just saw "Anonymous" and didn't realize it was u, so I posted a message that I don't post Anons. Sorry. Pls send it again. I'll try to stay awake in the future.


9:04 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

Dr Berman-
Your reading habits may have to change if you ever want to give a lecture again in this country, I suggest the novels of Ayn Rand or maybe, the Book of Mormon.
I hope reading this doesn’t reduce your enthusiasm for Romney. It’s from the Republican Platform under the heading, “Improving Our Nation's Classrooms”, there’s only one recommended improvement:

“Ideological bias is deeply entrenched within the current university system. Whatever the solution in private institutions may be, in State institutions the trustees have a responsibility to the public to ensure that their enormous investment is not abused for political indoctrination. We call on State officials to ensure that our public colleges and universities be places of learning and the exchange of ideas, not zones of intellectual intolerance favoring the Left.”

Having a state trooper standing next to you to make sure you don’t indoctrinate some innocent coed might be a bit uncomfortable. But you should be OK as long as your 5 vol opus Great Thoughts Of Mittney, is rushed to completion within the next two months.

12:01 AM  
Anonymous Stone said...

Dear friends of DAA and dear MB,

I have been reading and greatly appreciating The Reenchantment of the World, MB's second book.

I had just finished the two chapters that analyze the disenchantment of the world, and was still quite imbued with the discussion of alchemy in the first of those chapters, when I happened to come across and to watch a very well-made documentary about the phenomenon of crop circles.

The film is called Crop Circles Quest for Truth and is directed by William Gazecki. It can be viewed at:

If you have read The Reenchantment of the World, you'll want to see this movie, for you will see at work in it many aspects of the problematic of the book. It is fascinating and the geometric formations (i.e., the crop circles) are stunningly beautiful both in their geometry and their materiality (some are in fact overwhelmingly beautiful). Another remarkable thing is how they have "complexified" over time, eventually reaching the stage of fractal geometry.

If you have not read the book, I recommend the movie for its intrinsic beauty, and because it will make you want to read the book.

Morris, I know you are very busy, but please do see it and give us your sense (even if it's only in one paragraph). I am looking forward to what you have to say.


12:07 AM  
Anonymous Zero said...


I don’t own a TV myself, so I haven’t seen Person of Interest, but I would imagine the show was created in close cooperation with the NSA. I suspect this is little more than a covert attempt to desensitize the chumps to the rising Big Brother, and even make them “love” him in an Orwellian kind of fashion.

I base what I wrote here on this excellent Aljazeera interview with Chris Hedges, Michael Moore, and Oliver Stone about the symbiosis of Hollywood with the Pentagon. If you haven’t seen this, it’s well worth watching:

PS -- are you planning to head over to the Chicago area anytime soon? Unfortunately, I'll be in that area for the next several months.

2:45 AM  
Anonymous Ieyasu said...

Hi Morris,

Recently I've been getting into insight meditation (Vipassana), which, as you know, is all about piecemeal destruction of the ego.

It's interesting how so much in American life is devoted to bolstering the ego and making it as large as possible. The most obvious example, I guess, is a typical reality show, where the person with the most abrasive, repugnant - "colorful"! - personality wins. Most religions say that this is not the route to happiness. Social media in the US only serves to make this ego-centered way of thinking the norm. On Twitter a great way to get followers is to say something so shocking and inflammatory that it gets retweeted and spread throughout the web.

When the North American ego is threatened and packing heat, watch out.

I don't think there's anything wrong with having opinions, but these opinions should be naturally formed from quiet observation, and not from a desire to get one up a "competitor."

Here in Japan, I asked my girlfriend whether or not she'd be interested in meditation. She said Japanese people are always meditating. In a way, that's true. From an early age, most Japanese schoolchildren do activities that are really just forms of active meditation that foster self-control and focus - archery being an excellent example.

The practice of kangeiko (cold training), where school rooms were unheated in winter to build inner strength, might also have helped to develop the focus that a 24-hour-a-day meditator needs!

Certainly, Japan is not without its flaws - but it's this focus and clear-sightedness that I most respect.

3:44 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Well, in terms of lecturing/travel, the rest of 2012 is pretty much spoken for, but 2013 is a possibility, I suppose. The problem is that no one at the U of C has managed to invite me to come give a talk. How strange! But if you happen to run across anyone with an institutional affiliation (mental institutions wd be particularly good) who can make something happen, feel free to give them my name.


The problem is that my publisher, the Rupert Murdoch Press, refuses to publish my 5-vol. "Cornerstones of the Mittnaic Philosophy" unless Mittney wins. Each volume is more than 1000 pp. long, and some of the pages even have text on them; but the RMP is cruelly refusing to go to press before the election. And then--this is my deepest horror these days--I really think that Mittney is going to lose. Esp. after that teary Clinton speech, and the fact that two war criminals (Clinton and Obama) hugged each other, and everyone went nuts. Americans are so sharp, they see so deeply into things.


3:54 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


As far as packing heat, check this out:

I keep saying that all Americans shd be issued automatic weapons, but the Pentagon ignores me. This incident shows how routinely carrying around an Uzi (don't leave home w/o one!) can be useful in settling marital disputes, or whatever.

Where in Japan r.u., exactly?


4:07 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

The best remark from a wafer in this set is from ZERO! "... another one of these “invented” mental illnesses..."

I have thought for a long time the DSM is a massive dolt joke?

8:09 AM  
Anonymous sanctuary! said...

Here is another tiresome entry in the American CRE sweepstakes, though, believe me, it is a pretty good one:

MB, please be well and safe on your tour, sir. Sounds exciting! If you ever reach the hinterlands of Tennessee, I'll show up and clap loudly.

1:05 PM  
Anonymous Lor Abigail said...

Dear WAFers and MB,

I read this blog a lot, including all the amazing comments. However, I myself don't comment much, usually because I have nothing to add beyond “Oh WOE IS ME”. But, after reading the following:

I have decided to reverse my worrisome lack of innernetz presence. The article asks the question that I know is foremost on all your minds (besides who does Mittney's hair) – Are people who do not have Facebook accounts serial killers? To be fair, the author says they are not, and finds it more worrisome that many employers here in the good ole USA ask for a prospective employee's FB account login info before they hire them. But, to me, the fact that this question is even asked is kinda mind boggling. More techno conformity masquerading as a service to help one assert their own “individuality”. Ah well.

However, I want all to know that I HAD a FB account. I only deactivated it, I did NOT delete it. I swear!!

Oh, and MB, I do not think you have to worry overmuch about the reelection of Millard Filmore. Having studied the relative Onward & Downward movement producing effects of Mittnism versus Obamafuscation, I can assure you that the latter is fully capable of hustling this hustling country deep into the authoritarian, corporate owned, universally hated dark ages we all desire. I cite, for your remembrance, the NDAA, escalating Drone attacks, Shell Oil's brand new Arctic drilling permit, the totally unnecessary grant to Big Coal in Wyoming, and, my personal favorite: Torture and the refusal to close Guantanamo, or prosecute the Bushie based torture squad.

There's no shortage of O&D in Obama. But, yes, you are right, he isn't at all funny.

5:47 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

the Rupert Murdoch Press, refuses to publish my 5-vol. "Cornerstones of the Mittnaic Philosophy" unless Mittney wins.

This is deeply disappointing, I was looking forward to some type of collection or ‘Romnibus’, if you will. I feel your pain, this same publisher rejected my historical novel about a wealthy Roman John Galt type businessman named Romneylus who almost becomes emperor with the help of a young senator named Ryanitus. The working title is ‘Romneylus Will Ream Us’, I should probably shop it around to other publishers, but I wasn’t exactly encouraged to do so after they called security.

10:21 PM  
Blogger LJansen said...

re the u.s. stasi. here is an interview with the guy who blew the whistle right after 911 on the surveillance program you described, MB.

hopefully the above video isn't something i picked up off a post here and now i'm going in circles. ;)

btw, i had a conversation with a new acquaintance as we volunteered at planned parenthood. she is gaga over obama. i told her i was an independent and if i voted, i would vote for jill stein of the green party. she looked like i had socked her in the gut. i asked how she could consider voting for a president who drones his own citizens. she thought for a minute and said the droning didn't bother her.

discussing this with my husband, he says his new modus operandi is to refuse to discuss the elections under any circumstances b/c they just don't matter. i like that idea myself.

12:39 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


In addition to the fact that at his insistence, he now has the power to scoop anyone off the street and send him/her to Guantanamo; is a shill for the corporations and the Pentagon; reneged on practically every promise he made in 2008; etc. As for the droning not bothering American citizens: gee, what a surprise! What *would* bother them? Most are unaware that the pres is a war criminal, and those who know don't care.


In a perfect world, the Rupert Murdoch Press wd publish both our bks, now, and then send us on a world promotional tour. Lord, what fools these mortals be! (A Midsummer Night's Dream, Act III, Scene II)


2:37 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

I just saw a British film from 2004, "Dirty Filthy Love," starring Michael Sheen. In the callous and demented style we have learned to expect from the advertising industry, the film was billed as a comedy. In fact, it's a sad, moving film, although there's a triumph (of sorts) at the end. Sheen plays a character named Mark who is cursed with OCD and Tourette's Syndrome, as a result of which he loses his wife and his job. The film is a profound look at the 'netherworld' of those who just can't cope, who have to go thru the day counting cracks in the sidewalk or whatever--and who fall thru the cracks of a cruel, capitalist society. For the truth is that all men are *not* created equal, and this raises the question of whether it's OK that the richest 1% of America, say, own more than the 'bottom' 90% (what a phrase--the 'bottom' 90%), and that the government has the largest 'defense' budget in the world (by several orders of magnitude), while victims of these types of disorders basically have to fend for themselves. Regardless of who's in office, we expand our economy, not our humanity. We call the latest piece of technological dreck 'progress', and deride social assistance programs as 'entitlement', or 'the nanny state'. Talk about priorities.

Watching the film, I cdn't help remembering that I had a phase, around age 7, of obsessively avoiding stepping on cracks in the sidewalk; and then, after a few months, it went away. But what if it hadn't? What if it had become worse? What if I had finally wound up dysfunctional in our society, as a result? Who speaks for the victims in a nation like the US?



3:05 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

Excellent post Mr. Berman. I watched about an hour of Fox news last night, something I've never done before. Lou Dobbs??? The Christ-like 'come back kid' Clinton??? The hats?

I was holding it together mentally, but then Chuck Norris came on with rows of fake white teeth. I started shaking uncontrollably, mebbe a small 'breakdown?' Walker, Texas Ranger???


Kant gave his master-work to a friend to read. The friend said he stopped half-way through fearing insanity if he continued. I felt the same way last night with Fox.

Though born in Canada I've been out of N. Amer. for more than 30 years. Obviously I don't have a clue how bad things are. I'd thought you were exaggerating slightly, but now I see you've but touched the surface.

How are the credible Americans, like the ones here, handling this?

Have you touched anywhere in your writings on this 'white teeth business?' The obsession.

I'm very rattled this morning, very rattled. I may have to wander into the village and drink beer.

4:47 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Yeah, haircuts and white teeth; that abt sums it up. As you may know, I don't live in the US anymore, but every day I look across the border and I say: "The horror, the horror."


5:45 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: "The wasteland grows: woe to whomever conceals wastelands!"

--Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

(Cd Nietzsche ever have imagined a wasteland consisting of haircuts and white teeth?)

5:58 AM  
Anonymous Transkistan11 said...

@Michael: "Obviously I don't have a clue how bad things are. I'd thought you were exaggerating slightly, but now I see you've but touched the surface"

Here is a governor of a whole state in the United States. Here is how Sarah Palin thinks, and yet she was a governor; she ruled over the affairs of many schools and universities in Alaska:

"I think he diminished himself by even mentioning my name. How does he even know my name?"

Watch her here speak her "wise" words:

9:21 AM  
Anonymous Joe doesn't know said...

Dr. Berman,

re: your comment on Dirty Filthy Love, it is gutwrenching to realize how marginalized folks who cannot cope become in an endless growth capitalist model. I worked at a community mental health agency for a few years out of grad school, my first therapist job, and almost left the profession due to the staggering lack of essentials b/c of our shortage of funding. We had to rely on public funding, of course, and often had to bring in our own paper, pens, computer equip., etc, because of budget cuts. That doesn't even take into account how much we were required to do at work. Massive caseloads, insurmountable reports, impossible deadlines, etc. This all to help people who could not afford services through a private agency. And we had to campaign every couple of years to get a levy passed to maintain funding, and I remember holding a sign and being derided by passers-by for "wanting money for losers who should just get a job." I lost my job along with several colleagues due to budget cuts, and ended up at a private practice, but I'll never forget how sick some of our clients were (and still are, I'm sure) and how little is available to them.

10:44 AM  
Anonymous Susan W. said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

Joe--I worked in a public MHMR clinic in Plano, TX in the early 90's for about 6 yrs. It was struggle to help the chronically mentally ill with a safe apt., somewhere to go to socialize during the day and medical supervision but we did a pretty good job with the resources we had. After George Bush was elected the funding was gone and now the clinic is gone and I have no idea what happened to all our patients. Many had no family to care for them, only our case workers, and they were the first to be laid off. It's a cruel system and a shameful one too.

In an earlier post by Shep he asked about the DSM and yes, Shep, it's all turned into a massive racket. The diagnostics are now tailored to meet criteria to medicate;it's hand in glove with big pharma. Anyone who doubts this need look no further than "pediatric" psych and the exploitation of the young and particularly the children on Medicaid. Pharmaceuticals have no idea what happens to a 4 yr old brain on risperdal (an antipsychotic) and they don't care to know. Psychiatrists obligingly dx, write the rx and pharma (and the MDs) pocket the cash.

12:40 PM  
Anonymous Nate said...

Besides being an unprecedented invasion of privacy and another step on the road to a third world police state, “Thin Thread” is not at all likely to do what it is supposed to do! It would take untold amounts of manpower to properly vet the results and adjust the filters, not to mention the fundamental insanity of targeting those with means, motive, and opportunity from an infinite set of unknown variables (many of which, no doubt, cannot be collected by computers).

Some defense firm finagles a government contract to develop this stinker, hundreds of billions of $s funnel in and then some Intelligence Committee clown (his pockets bulging with scratch) pushes through a call down the mountain for the law enforcement/intelligence folks to take Thin Thread’s results as gospel, even as they “work the bugs out.” The guns and badges do their best to CYA and please the next level up, which follows suit to their next level up, ad infinitum --until you’re getting your door kicked in twice/month because you bought chopped liver from someone who once sold chopped liver to Osama Bin Laden’s cousin’s ex-wife (or more likely, you’re getting detained for six hours every time you travel because you interview “People of Interest” for your job.)

Instead of simple, immediately indispensable uses of technology that could help catch violent criminals-- like the proposed national ballistics database that was DOA --we’ve elected the machine to be our new sheriff. “Person of Interest” depicts Thin Thread as a tool for law enforcement, when the reality is the converse.

Hmmm, if POI is an international hit, perhaps I could hustle a couple of milldo by pitching my idea for “The Trillion-Dollar Logarithm.”


O&D, Nate

2:23 PM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

Zosima & MB,

My sympathies for your publishing travails.

But what can we really expect from Mr. Murdoch, whose first name is just an anagrammatic bee in your bonnet away from PERTURB ?

There's no time before the election to find another publisher.
My suggestion is to modify the poster below so that it appears to be Romney in minstrel blackface, paste it into your book's text with a claim that it was created by a Democratic version of the Tea Party (sort of a reverse of the TP's ever so subtle Obama/Joker signs), and then resubmit muy pronto.

My guess way they could resist.
Might even get one or both of you a gig as a Fox contributor.
If you can't piss on status quObama's Guccis, maybe you could bump into (hard, too, please) Karl Rove on the set someday.

In the event of crushing disappointment this time, take a couple of weeks off and get back to work.
Like the Beyond the Fringe sketch about the end of the world cult tells us...
Never mind lads...we must get a winner one day.

Just bumped into the following, almost 25 years old.
Some of the geography has changed, but the export commodity hasn't.
Made me think that we should all be scouring both parties for a contender in 2016 named Oliver.
In light of our CRE focus, finding one with the last name Cramwell would be an auspicious omen, I should think.

2:31 PM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

Sorry for the 2x post, but I forgot to include (big nod to Zosima) that the caption on the modified poster needs to include Uncle Ream Us Wants You.

Just in case anyone hasn't seen this phrasing before...

I recently saw Romney/Ryan referred to as Vulture/Voucher.

As you were...carry on.

2:41 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

I'm getting a slight feeling of hysteria, that Mittney may not pull it off. He's now 2 percentage pts behind Obama. Of course, this is the effect of the DNC, plus it's w/in the standard deviation of error. But I worry that too many Americans will see that he's a dunce, and vote for the war criminal in the W.H. instead. 4 more yrs of Millard Fillmore is more than I can bear.


(With apologies to Shirley Booth)


7:06 PM  
Anonymous sanctuary! said...

Rubio should go on Fox "News" and recite the good parts of old McCain speeches while wearing a collar unbuttoned down to the happy trail. Nuke 'em all and let God sort 'em out, that kind of thing. 2016 is just around the corner. Either Fox "News" or Dancing with the Stars.

Somebody has to think ahead, ok?

9:19 PM  
Anonymous shep said...

This doesn't have anything to do with anything except boasting but...

I was reminded of my history as a capitalist when I read that Mrs. Obama resigned her Corporate Directorship from a $50,000/year (I do not get that much now in retirement, including SS) Wal-Mart supplier company in 2008 during the Hope. campaign

Hell, I was on the Board of Directors of a small town bank and all we got was a one hundred dollar bill each month. All of the others wanted to raise it to $200 to keep up with the other bank in the village but I voted against the motion because. "We don't do anything for it, except go along with the President." I didn't last too much longer. Assholes!

Now I see she is shilling for Wal-Mart directly.
That couple is the worst. I think they can bring us down quicker than the cardboard man and his fraudster wife.


9:45 PM  
Anonymous zhenoba Kayne said...

No matter who wins, the problems facing America are too great for one man to solve.

Of course, Romney will do to America what he did to many firms: outsource most teachers; fire lots of workers; steal as much money as possible; refuse to pay taxes or show taxable income.

Obama will still dance according to the tunes of congressional thugs in the republican party. Bold policies and actions will never come from spineless Obama.

11:51 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


In terms of potential damage, Obama may be spent. I.e., he may have done all he can do in that direction, and the next 4 yrs (god forbid) will just be crisis management and sameold sameold. This will spin out the American decline to no real purpose, it seems to me. But Mittney: I tell u, he's my guy. Yes, he'll do all the things you indicate, and hopefully worse. In terms of our downward spiral, he can be counted on to move in an aggressive and determined manner. He's both vapid and vile--exactly the type of 'leadership' America needs at this pt in its history. Every time I chance to see that serene, empty face, and that perfect haircut, I say to myself: This is the man for the job.


1:25 AM  
Anonymous Zero said...


I’ll certainly ask the people I keep in touch with in this town if they would consider inviting you for a speech. I still keep in touch with a few professors, and I could ask them, although I think most are powerless and scared about losing their jobs. Nowadays American universities are ran by former airline executives types who are looking just how to cut cost and fire people.

By the way, tonight I went to a Barnes and Noble bookstore where I used to hang out in years past. Back then the place was packed with people, and the café section used to be crammed. However, tonight (a Friday) the place was deserted. We’re talking ghost own here. Nobody except me and a few uninformed shelf stockers. So I guess nobody reads anymore in this country. I didn’t see your books on the shelf, but after I left the store it dawn on me that I could have asked them to bring in your last trilogies. Normally, they order them, and after keeping them behind the counter for a week or two, they then place them on the shelf and keep them there until somebody buys them. If enough WAFERS across America do that, you’re liable to outsell Sarah Palin in no time at all.

Susan W & Joe doesn’t know,

They’re closing community mental health agencies like there’s no tomorrow. Heck, why waste your time with psychotherapy when you can just go to a corrupt psychiatrist to write you any prescription you tell him to. Or just sneak behind your nearest 7-11 or Currency Exchange store and buy yourself a little heroin from your neighborhood friendly drug pusher, and you’re as good as new. I tell ya, that’s the future of mental health in the greatest (and richest) country in history.

As far as that “drug pusher’s Bible” called the DSM, just wait until 2013 or 2014 when they plan to introduce edition 5. You just wait. They’ll go after very young children and the elderly with a vengeance. Medicaid and Obamacare pays for them, so there’s a huge business opportunity for these criminals. Just pump up that 2 year old with highly toxic antipsychotics. And pump up grandma with tranquilizers around the clock. Yeah, go after the vulnerable segments of the population.

Please forgive me while I shout: “USA! USA! USA!”

2:39 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


It's a long shot, really: sponsoring or advocating me as a speaker is not exactly the way for a faculty member to polish his or her credentials.

The empty B&N...this is a good picture of end-of-Rome, or a culture in decay. It's the reality that lies underneath all the false exhuberance one sees at the DNC and the RNC, and the talk abt restoring the American Dream. All of that crap, How I killed bin Laden etc.--what difference did it make, really?--is little more than denial. I recall that when I did my C-SPAN gig last Nov. (also on a weekend night, if I remember correctly), at the Westwood B&N in LA, the store was virtually empty w/the exception of the folks attending my lecture. After the talk, the manager of the store came up to me to say that the store wd be closing on Dec. 31, and that she was being transferred to some other branch in East Mooseville, or wherever. "Culture death" is not an abstraction; this is what it looks like up close.


8:44 AM  
Anonymous Vince said...

It was a heart breaker up here in Michigan when the local Borders store closed in Dearborn, very close to the University of Michigan. Then all of the Borders closed shortly there after. The store used to be busy, especially on the weekends. The cafe was always busy with conversation and people doing homework, talking, etc.

On the flip side the nearest B&N was usually pretty slow. The book offerings were quite banal compared to the Borders selection. There was virtually no chance of seeing Dark Ages America on the shelf at this store. Hell, I only learned of DAA from Amazon. Besides, the B&N has a Starbucks inside; we all know what they are like nowadays.

I'll waste little type about the election. Each side trying to root for their favorite rock star / personality. It all comes off as made for television politics. The situation reinforces my choice to remain free of a television.


9:04 AM  
Anonymous James Noah said...

Books are so expensive these days that the only people who can afford to buy books are those who work in banks and the Wall Street. Sarah Palin and the member of the US military who wrote the trash about Osama Bin Laden were given six figures to produce their useless trash. The big firms which supported or propped up the moronic “writers” will have to collect huge profits, so they jack up the prices of books. This is a self-fulfilling prophecy: to make huge profits you must become outrageously sensational, deceptive, and destructive of all manners of decency. This is why more Americans know and hear about books written by Sarah Palin than books written by Dr. Berman.

12:44 PM  
Blogger LJansen said...

The rot that underlies our existence here in O&D land rises to the surface (maybe more frequently as the death spiral tightens?). This video is an hour, but it is a riveting tale of the death of an American citizen in a federal jail and the ensuing cover-up. Exposes corruption near the highest seats of gov't.
Talk was given recently in Seattle's townhall.

This other video is shorter but shows the same thing -- blatant corruption of what is euphemistically called U.S. democracy.

1:50 PM  
Anonymous bart said...

The wonder of the free market is that quality will invariably rise to the top. Thus, works of literary significance can be easily determined by simply noting the price that they fetch in the competitive marketplace.

2:48 PM  
Anonymous Sam Pete said...

In the USA where laws and markets rule over morality and humanity, the following driver would have serious problems with the police and insurance companies; they will teach him some serious lessons about stopping deaths and injuries that would have increased the profits of hospitals, lawyers, and burial homes:

Darrell Krushelnicki didn’t think twice when he pulled his Hummer in front of a speeding car in order to prevent four children crossing the street from being mowed down.

4:01 PM  
Anonymous Joe doesn't know said...

Julian and Susan,

thanks for the responses and thoughts on the Mental Health/DSM stuff. Always appreciate your insight as you both have experience in the field. It's amazing how pharma has taken control...just yesterday, a colleague of mine was seriously reprimanded by the owner of our practice because she allegedly told a mother that her child might consider psychotherapy before medication (adhd). the mother filed a complaint, and the colleague may be terminated. How dare she take a potential customer away from glaxokline!

7:25 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Interesting that the*mother* filed a complaint--against someone trying to protect her child. These are the fine details of cultural collapse, I guess.


7:34 PM  
Blogger wellassa gallaba said...

9:48 PM  

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