December 16, 2012

Further Thoughts on Japan...and America

Recently I've been reading The Kimono Mind, a study of Japanese culture written in 1965 by the Austrian-born architect Bernard Rudofsky. It also happens to be, by way of comparison, a study of American culture; and the author is quite clear that he regards Americans as a large collection of morons. This alone, of course, makes the book quite enjoyable, since Americans are, in fact, a large collection of morons. In his 1982 Postscript to the paperback edition Rudofsky writes:

-"ineptness and stupidity are our forte."

-"Could anybody conceive of an American president conversing in a foreign language?"

-"The length to which Americans sometimes go to avoid looking reality in the eye borders on paranoia."

And so on. When it comes to comparing how work is done in the two countries, Rudofsky says that while the Japanese have an "addiction to doing things superlatively well," in America "nothing could be farther from our thoughts." Our goal is quantity, not quality, he correctly points out.

I was recently reminded of Japanese-American differences the other day when I read a short article in a newspaper (carried by Reuters) regarding a recent court decision handed down in Florida. I couldn't help thinking how incomprehensible this story would be to a Japanese person. Here it is verbatim:

"TALLAHASSEE, Florida--Motorist Richard Catalano's five-year quest to crank up Justin Timberlake tunes on his way to work won the blessing of the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday.

"A unanimous ruling affirmed that a 2007 state law prohibiting loud music while driving violated the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment.

"Catalano received a $73 ticket in 2007 for violating a newly enacted Florida law that prohibited motorists from playing music that is 'plainly audible' 25 feet away."

A number of things we might say about this; but first, a very representative anecdote from my recent visit to Japan. I was having lunch in a cafe located in a Tokyo subway station when a few tables away, a young woman's cell phone vibrated. Before she answered the call, she took out a small towel, about the size of a washcloth, and placed it over the phone and her mouth. She also talked in a low voice. This was done so as not to disturb the people around her. (It's also common in such a situation for the person to get up and leave the restaurant, and take the call outside.) And as I mentioned in a previous post, there are signs posted in subway cars asking passengers to turn their phones off.

Back to Tallahassee. Here's my list; readers may have a few items of their own to add to it.

1. It never occurred to Richard Catalano, whoever he may be, that blasting his car radio might bother other drivers around him. And if it did occur to him, his attitude apparently was, "Too bad for them; this is America; I can do whatever I want."

2. Bad enough that Mr. Catalano is an inconsiderate and narcissistic douche bag; so are the judges on the Florida Supreme Court, who upheld his ridiculous point of view. Their concern is that his First Amendment rights were being violated; the rights of nearby drivers to *not* have to listen to this music somehow doesn't enter into the equation.

3. Catalano's concern for the Bill of Rights, along with that of the Court, is of course touching; but nobody here apparently is concerned about the fact that the current president has shredded that Bill of Rights, such that if the chief executive decides on a whim to have an American citizen assassinated, or to scoop up anyone he dislikes and imprison him under the "indefinite detention" clause of the National Defense Authorization Act, he can do it with impunity. No, for Catalano and the members of the court, what's important is the 'freedom' to disturb people around you with loud music. This is the appropriate target of the Bill of Rights.

4. So important was this 'freedom' to Mr. Catalano that he conducted a five-year campaign to have his obnoxious behavior exonerated. This issue was apparently worth five years of his life.

As I said, reading the newspaper article through Japanese eyes is an instructive exercise.

On a final note, Rudofsky records that when Fukuzawa Yukichi, the "Japanese Voltaire," published his Encouragement of Learning in 17 volumes over 1872-76, it sold 3,400,000 copies--this at a time when the Japanese population numbered 34 million. In other words, 10% of the country bought these books. Translated into contemporary American terms, says Rudofsky, this would be equivalent to a sale of 22 million copies. Can one imagine such a thing happening in the US? Not even some ridiculous Oprah-approved New Age self-help book could come close to such sales, let alone a text on the importance of education.

And when I tell people the country is finished--they laugh!

(c)Morris Berman, 2012


Blogger Zosima said...

I read Bernard Rudofsky’s, Streets For People, more that 20 years ago. He had a lot of wonderful architectural ideas about how to arrange our human landscape for the better. Plus he’s an entertaining writer who writes well. Thanks for reminding me of him, his books may not be that easy to find, but they’re worth the effort.

You all may find this hard to believe, but the weekend before this shooting, the ethics group I go to chose to discuss Steven Pinker’s, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined. Next weekend’s book is, A Christmas Carol. Tell me, I am I wrong to fear that Christmas may not happen?

2:12 AM  
Anonymous Frankistein said...


Japan is also going down (like USA) because they copied all the ills of USA. Read the following article (if you do not understand what is happening, listen to any speech of Dr Vandana Shiva – she will help you to comprehend your situation in USA or in Japan. Start here: “Real Wealth-Real Poverty--How Economic Globalization is Robbing the Poor of Wealth”,

Nowhere is the rapid aging of Japan more visible than in rural towns like Nanmoku, where 56 percent of local residents are over 65. Over the next 25 years, the proportion of Japan’s population that is elderly will rise from almost one in four to one in three. Sales of adult diapers will soon surpass those of baby diapers.

The reason for Japan’s plight stretches back decades. The countryside lost people to the cities during Japan’s era of rapid growth between the early 1950s and the late 1980s.

Although Japanese couples consistently say in surveys that they would like to have more than two children, they don’t. Part of the problem is Japan’s prolonged economic malaise. Years of stagnant (or declining) incomes have made Japanese men less attractive as potential partners.

The lesson of Nanmoku is that spending one’s way out of a crisis doesn’t work without reforms that address the root causes of the malaise. Until Japan’s leaders take steps to boost the birthrate, the whole country — like the countryside — will continue to shrink.

9:52 AM  
Blogger pinkpearl said...

Just looked up Rudofsky on Wikipedia. Anybody whose lectures have titles like "How Can People Expect to Have Good Architecture When They Wear Such Clothes?" sounds like my kind of guy. (Imagine what he would have made of the clothes today, what with all the yoga pants and flip flops and baseball caps. Yikes!) I've added him to my reading list. Thanks for putting me on to him.

10:33 AM  
Anonymous From Imbecileville said...

That Pinker book, like much of his work, is ideological garbage. See


To the list of "rights" protected by the U.S. constitution can be added the right to own unlimited numbers of firearms (including military weapons), the right to buy elections and politicians (because, after all, who doesn't know that money = speech), and the rights of corporations to be treated as persons and to violate any national laws that would run counter to trade agreements negotiated and imposed on countries by those corporations themselves.

Meanwhile, the necessities of life--health, housing, clean air and water, a solid education, and a decent and meaningful livelihood--are left to the vagaries of the "free" market, which more often deprives one of these essentials than it provides them.

All of this is not as remotely bizarre as the Nobel-prize winning economic theories that impose and justify this wretched state of affairs in the name of efficiency and utility.

As the talking heads on Fox would say, America is truly exceptional.

11:20 AM  
Anonymous Stone said...

Ayn Rand was a groupie of serial killer William Edward Hickman. Of him she wrote that he was "the amazing picture of a man with no regard whatsoever for all that a society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own. A man who really stands alone, in action and soul. Other people do not exist for him, and he does not see why they should."

In 1957, Central Bank chief Alan Greenspan, a devoted follower of Rand's teachings and member of her entourage, wrote a letter to the editor at the New York Times to defend his mentor, whose book "Atlas Shrugged" had received a poor review. Here's how he ended his letter: "Parasites who persistently avoid either purpose or reason perish as they should."

For more, see Mark Ames's article, at

12:39 PM  
Blogger PedroC. said...

And then we have this:

A new school curriculum which will affect 46 out of 50 states will make it compulsory for at least 70 per cent of books studied to be non-fiction, in an effort to ready pupils for the workplace.

Apparently the kids are reading too much fiction. And everybody knows that you can't learn anything from literature.


1:03 PM  
Anonymous Seth said...


I see this new curriculum as an intentional drive to destroy the imagination of young Americans, and thus ensure conformity to the dominant corporate fascist culture. Not that young Americans by and large have much imagination, but this new school curriculum literally codifies absence of imagination and creativity into law.

And the ultimate aim of this new law is to destroy young Americans' capacity for thinking about alternatives to corporate capitalism. It's about making them even more like sheep than they already are.

Besides, the "non-fiction" books will largely be historical revision, lies, trite and useless information, and hands-on guides to performing various types of menial labor ("training young Americans for the workplace"), since menial jobs are pretty much all that's left of the American economy.

1:23 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


You cd be rt, but it's hardly a slam dunk. There are v. gd reasons for seeing Japan in the forefront of a kind of sea change, from a hustling economy to a sustainable one. Check out various articles by Eamonn Fingleton, for example; or the link sent in 2 posts back, "Is Japan the Future?", by escapefromwisconsin. He also has a # of links to other sites, such as Make Wealth History. The demographic issue is problematic, but not insuperable. In a word, the jury is still out, and Japan may surprise us yet. Part of the problem, as Fingleton and others pt out, is viewing the country thru an American lens; from wh/vantage pt it falls short. This is particularly egregious, for example, in Michael Zielenziger's bk, "Shutting Out the Sun," in which he simply cannot break w/the progress/globalization paradigm. Anyway, food for thought.


And this guy (Greenspan), and this ideology, has been running the country for decades. At the center of all that capitalist-libertarian crap is cruelty; and Ayn was one callous lady. Hustling and narcissism to the max.


Thanks for refs on Pinker. I always thought his stuff was either warmed-over Chomsky or else a pile of crap. Amazing whom Harvard hires these days.
'Progress' brings its own propaganda along w/it, so we can happily believe we live in the best of all possible worlds, and have escaped a horrible past. Meanwhile, I doubt we have had a more murderous century than the last one; and given the events of the last 12 yrs, it's not clear that the present one will be any better.


2:15 PM  
Anonymous Kevin said...

No doubt the demographic skewing in Japan (and elsewhere) via aging at a higher rate than replenishment will produce problems of a sort but the world's gotta deal with overshoot somehow. From the little I know, it would seem that culturally Japan may have a chance of moving back down to their sustainable 25 million relatively peacefully and gracefully. We'll see.

2:30 PM  
Blogger Horatio Nelson said...

delighted that you're finding something useful in that book recommendation, although i suspect it merely confirms what you already know/knew.

a looong time ago, i read a few serious articles by a writer whose name is escaping me. perhaps the well-read fellow commentors do? they were about how our technology is contributing to rising narcissism, because off the way it replicates the monkey-presses-button=instant banana mental link that makes us believe that the world should be always responsive to our demands. when travelling by bus and looking around at the 'tuned out' heads glued to their tiny screens around me, his observation pops into my head. it makes bus rides pleasantly quiet, but is symptomatic of people who don't know how to be alone with their own thoughts, or present in the world that exists around them anymore. and we are giving iPads to 5 year-olds as educational tools! 'education' indeed!

the other article was about how the rising anti-depressant prescription rates are symbolic of a sick culture in denial, and the drugs simply mask the symptoms while allowing that culture to continue without addressing the myriad problems that exist. the two articles fit together well of a world that is falling apart due to mass delusion.

2:33 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I fear yr rt. Meanwhile, there was a Canadian co. abt a year ago that pioneered something like an iPad for one-week old neonates(!). It was called Vinci, I think. Dark Ages Descending! More corporate brainwashing, more screens to lobotomize the mind, more prescription drugs to hide the pain! All systems go!


2:58 PM  

Amigo Mauricio:

In one of his books The Hidden Dimension or The Silent Language, the American anthropologist Edward Hall points out that when the telephone began, people who had phones would call each other for very specific and urgent matters, if it wasn´t the case they’d send messages, telegrams or letters.

Seems like respect for intimacy and silence, avoiding invasion with this “aparato” was well considered. There was a little more elegance (courtesy) on the noisy effect technological action could cause. On the other hand, in the worst context today (for example the states) the equation would actually be: The more technological display (noise included), the better.

Japan obviously has this early elegance on technological matters, the quality of the use over the quantity of production, the use of the samurai sword for example has more elegance than the atomic bomb. In Spanish they call these morons: “Monos con navaja”... morons with navaja?, jaja

Un abrazo

3:08 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Ay, muchacho! So good to hear from you. Demasiado tiempo!

Monkeys w/razor blades? I like to think of the US as a baby w/a bazooka in its hand.

How's life in Temuco treating u? Escribeme, chico.


4:02 PM  
Blogger john coltrain said...

Speaking of looking reality in the eye, pertaining to violence as discussed in the previous blog:

“Snarky Irony" is it? “We won't do anything about it; we won't understand anything about it”. Is that so? How about “doing something” on this blog?

How about a "healthy" discussion for starters about confronting the edge of violent death, about being shot stabbed, about describing anatomically what happens to the body as a bullet enters the body, then exits. How about describing quite literally the spurting pulsing fountains of blood coming from a writhing body, the screams of searing pain. How bout describing your experiences with pants crapping fear, begging not to be shot or begging to have the killer take you instead of someone else’s child. Seriously, talk about violence at this level. If we’re going to talk about putting guns in a child’s hands, surely we have the guts to explore the nitty gritty environment of killing. Callousness must be a genetic disposition, so maybe detoxification may not be possible.
Maybe there is someone from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan here who might know something about these “details” you think?. Maybe we could get Chris Hedges to speak about his observations.

Yes, Morris, this is a country of doomed hustlers. The first person we hustle is always ourselves.

4:17 PM  
Blogger Katy Anders said...

This post made me laugh, although that might have more to do with my twisted sense of humor than anything else.

I think you're right about Catalano - what at first might strike people as a win for the 1st amendment is in fact a fairly hollow victory indeed.

I've said the same thing about civil rights victories at times: We're letting more and more people onto an ever-sinking playing field.

When looked at that way, Catalano's victory begins to look more like getting into the Guinness Book of World Records for hitting oneself in the head with a bat the most consecutive times...

4:24 PM  
Anonymous Zero said...

This from Amy Goodman’s show this morning (12/17):

“Nationwide Shootings, Threats After Newtown Massacre
As the nation mourns the Newtown victims, a number of additional threats and shootings have been reported since the massacre. A Newtown church was evacuated on Sunday after police responded to a threat against those inside. An Indiana man equipped with a 47-gun arsenal was arrested on Sunday after allegedly threatening to kill children at a local elementary school. Oklahoma police arrested an 18-year-old high school student on Friday who was allegedly planning a school-shooting massacre. In Newport Beach, California, an alleged gunman was arrested after reportedly firing 50 shots in a mall parking lot. In San Antonio, Texas, two men were reportedly injured in a shooting at a movie theater Sunday night.”

Here in Chicago, one of the first things that Rahm Emanuel (the new mayor and Obama’s former chief of staff) did was to close down most community mental health clinics across the city. As a result there are now many more severely mentally ill people of all ages and races living on the streets of Droner’s hometown.

It’s time to scoot, folks! It’s time to apply a little “geographical therapy” to your lives and find another country to call home. As for me, I have 6 more months to spend in this country, after which I don’t think I will waste any more trips across the ocean to this wacko place.

4:52 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Apparently, shortly b4 he was murdered, MLK remarked to Harry Belafonte that as far as civil rts went, he sometimes had the feeling that he was herding people into a burning church. After all, why fight for a larger share of the pie when the pie is rotten?


Well, if u wanna talk abt those things, go ahead. Myself, I don't feel much is to be gained by discussing the Newtown murders anatomically. But I certainly have no objections to visits from Chris; he's always welcome on this blog. Finally, I don't think I'm hustling myself; altho if *you* do, there's not much I can do to change your mind, I'm quite sure.

As for 'doing something' on this blog: r.u. kidding me? I'm quite sure that anything you, or I, or Chris, or someone from the Near East, says on this blog is not going to prevent the next American school shooting; neither will graphic descriptions of death. But I somehow find your rage suspect...gratuitous...not coming from a real place, tho I cd be wrong. It's just that you seem to be preening, self-righteous. Maybe you *are* hustling yourself; I don't know. That's the feeling I get.


4:55 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


What a wonderful thing for Rahm to do; my kinda guy.

The fact is, the US *is* wacko; it's at the far end of the spectrum, really deranged. But Americans don't understand that; they take all of this daily *mishugas* as normal. And yet, the country is unrecognizable from what it was just 50 yrs ago.


5:50 PM  
Anonymous Stone said...

Regarding John Coltrain's suggestion and urge to "do something."

First of all, I doubt that a person preparing a multiple killing (they do prepare them, as we know; these acts are rarely spontaneous) would be reading DAA.

Even if, per hypothesis, one of those would-be killers were to read detailed descriptions of the physical harm, pain and agony caused by bullets to a body or of a person pleading with the "lone nut" threatening to kill him or her, I would venture that such would rather act as an enabling factor than as a deterrent. In accordance with that conviction, I would vote against posting such descriptions here.

Thirdly, I would suspect that none of us are particularly interested in such forensic minutiae. What's the point?

Fourthly, as for doing something, short of signing petitions to our eminently unresponsive Congress people, or staging demonstrations, I see little that can be done to remove three hundred million guns from the households of the land and "reforming" the mentalities and histories of abuse, anger, resentment, humiliation, and sundry pathologies that motivate mostly young white males to go on shooting rampages.

That is not to say that gun control should not be pushed or other measures that may have some effect. It is to say, however, that the effects of such measures will be limited and will not put an end to the phenomenon, although they may make it harder for the potential killers and, it is to be hoped, less frequent.

Incidentally, I am one of the few dudes on my country road not to own a gun.

6:21 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


You need to be packin' heat. Sooner or later, they're gonna come 4u. Get yrself a cute little arsenal.

As for histories of abuse, etc.: I continue to defend my plan to provide discount lobotomies to the American population at large. In fact, we shd incorporate it into Obamacare.

Meanwhile, in the spirit of Robert Catalano (not to mention Latreasa Goodman, a personal hero of mine), here's a nice little fragment of This American Life:

New Yorker cartoon, 3 Dec. 2012:

The scene is a restaurant. At the table on the left, a couple standing up, staring angrily at the folks at the table on the right (6' away), who are seated. This latter table also consists of a couple, plus two young children. The tablecloth of the table on the left is on fire. The mother of the children seated at table on rt turns to angry couple at table on left and says: "Kids burn things--if you don't like it, don't go out."



8:13 PM  
Blogger Franchesca Lebrón Marte said...

I just read a great article by Isaac Asimov titlled A Cult Of Ignorance. If you Google it it'll come up.
One of the things Asimov says is "...'America's right to know' is a meaningless slogan when hardly anyone can read".

8:28 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Well, Tocqueville kinda beat him to it when he said that democracy in America can work only w/an intelligent population. Oops! But neither he nor Asimov predicted that in addition to being stupid, the American public would be steeped in violence, buffoonery, and douchebaggery. Hey--great title for my next bk!


8:32 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and fellow Wafers,

Discounted mass lobotomies won't solve it Dr. B! Lobotomy is only effective on a workin' brain. How do you lobotomize 300 million chicken mcnuggets?

8:42 PM  
Anonymous Mikbeth said...

Dr. Berman
I have been doing some research on my family history that can be traced back to 17th Century France and their colonial settlements in the St. Lawrence River Valley. One of the secondary sources I have been reading is The Canadian Frontier 1534-1760 by W.J. Eccles. Unexpectedly I encountered some arguments that seem to be in alignment with your critique of American culture.
Throughout the book, Eccles makes comparisons highlighting the difference between the French and English approaches to their North American colonies as well as the role of government. Pages 74-75 are directly on point. According to Eccles, the French would have rejected the notion that the general good could result from the unfettered pursuit of individual gain. Similarly, they rejected the idea that the individual’s circumstances were solely the result of their own making. For example, “Poverty was not regarded as a sin or a crime, but as a fault in the fabric of society that had to be mended.”
There is also a subterranean point that the French were more interested in organizing their society around human rights rather than property rights. While the Ancien Regime was hardly the pinnacle of human rights, I have been impressed with how in some respects the North American continent might have been better off if the French had one the Seven Years War. The French even warned the Iroquois that an English victory would spell their doom (p. 158). Perhaps if the French had been able to hold off the English, they could have served the purpose of an alternate tradition such as you discuss with the American South. As Eccles writes in his Epilogue:
“Inexorably the old fur trade frontier was submerged by westward moving settlement. The axe and the plow finally defeated the canoe and the musket. A way of life and peculiar scale of values, part Indian, part old regime, were swept into discard. This was doubtless inevitable, but it left us the poorer in ways that a shopkeeper could never fathom” (P.190).

11:15 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

When meaningful aspects of freedom are forbidden, denigrated, or ignored, only the most infantile, or sickest forms of freedom will come to dominate. So, as it is with guns in America, so it is with making noise. Someone on a Harley can rev his engine on your street any hour of the day or night. It doesn’t matter if there are people with heart conditions living there, or sick babies trying to sleep, you’re just supposed to smile and say, “isn’t freedom grand?!” BTW, see if you can guess why the Republican (hint hint) FL legislature passed a law banning noisy car music but no other kinds of noise, like motorcycle noise. Hmm...

Guns and noise are just two of the things (in addition to war) Americans must have to fill that emptiness at the heart of their society that MB talks about. So, the proper attitude towards the victims is to view them as heroes who died for our “freedom” (guns), their parents should feel pride at their sacrifice. I can see the day when a memorial is built for the victims of mass shootings on the national mall with a giant statue of a gun. Special American flags with 50 guns replacing the 50 stars could be made and draped over the coffins. So, john coltrain, we don’t dwell on the past here, this is the proper attitude when things go wrong in America:

Dr. Strangelove: No, sir...excuse me...When they go down into the mine, everyone would still be alive. There would be no shocking memories, and the prevailing emotion will be one of nostalgia for those left behind, combined with a spirit of bold curiosity for the adventure ahead! [involuntarily gives the Nazi salute and forces it down with his other hand]Ahhh!

11:18 PM  
Blogger Reader said...

With the increased use of acronyms and shortened speech we further decline. I have a collection of letters written between my ancestors over many years, decades actually, dating back to the 1800's. These letters are literature, beautifully written both in pen and prose, with humor, description, love, pain, wonder, struggles, and penmanship. And these writers/my ancestors were all very working class folk, with no more than a 6th grade education.

Today, we all use shortened speech, knowing the difference, of course; but in doing so we are setting the standard for the future.

Today, as words are reduced to consonants and as penmanship is reduced to 1st grade, block, letter writing, so their thoughts will follow.

12:27 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Very interesting. Thanks for the info.


12:28 AM  
Anonymous bart said...

from William James, The Individual and Society:

This is the constitution of human nature which we have to work against. The plain truth is that people WANT war. They want it anyhow; for itself, and apart from each and every possible consequence. It is the final bouquet of life’s fireworks. The born soldiers want it hot and actual. The non-combatants want it in the background, and always as an open possibility, to feed imagination on and keep excitement going. Its clerical and historical defenders fool themselves when they talk as they do about it. What moves them is not the blessings it has won for us, but a vague religious exaltation. War is human nature at its uttermost. We are here to do our uttermost. It is a sacrament. Society would rot without the mystical blood payment.

John C, to get Chris Hedges' impressions of war zones his book War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning can be consulted. As far as I remember he didn't indulge in grand guignol descriptions of violence to describe his experiences.

Stone is right if Anthony Swofford, the Marine who wrote Jarhead is to be believed. He described the excitement to get into combat that Marines experienced after viewing Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket. Folks bound on mayhem are only stimulated by the sight of it, disregarding entirely any kind of anti-war message the film maker intended.

12:46 AM  
Blogger john coltrain said...

As to what I wrote, please read in context. I never said anything about preventing shootings. Where does rage play in to this? I’m trying to be serious, not create a FOX news debate. At least say “death talk” is uncomfortable and be done with it. Morris, with all due respect, just what is the point I’m trying to “prove”?
Ok, I guess I get to be the antagonist until censored. I agree with others that WAF is well worth reading, but I guess my point about suffering goes over everybody’s head here. Suffering, if not the experience of, at least the understanding, from a level as visceral as possible is needed from this country. Why? Because our level of understanding it is a measure of our humanity. I have been working on trying to understand “suffering” practically my entire life, ever since my grandmother spoke about the “Korean rock eaters” in the 50’s. That was her expression for the starvation going on in Korea - i.e. the people were so hungry they sucked the salt off of rocks - illusionary for a young child’s sake. I soon realized at 10 years old, America makes other countries suffer. Having a cavalier attitude about death and denigration of a society, a culture as if “they deserve it” gains one what? So trying to put yourself as deeply as possible, mentality, in the shoes of a Pakistani who suffers PTSD just from the “sound” of a drone simply flying overhead is a waste of time, huh? Instead let’s collect newspaper clippings about absurdities, stupidities of Americans & have conversations about douche bags of America – that’s “worth” talking about. I understand the theme here seems to be “crash landing ahead” – a headline which could also be found on World Daily Net.

1:40 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Well, if 'rage' was not a factor, u sure cd have fooled me. I think the pt u were trying to prove is that unlike the rest of us, you are a Good Person. What u wrote is what the Germans call a Totschlagargument--a declaration intended to silence everyone due to its awesomeness. It's posing: pretended blood and guts, and I for one don't respect it. Finally, it's just a cheap shot. Where are *your* blood, *your* guts, after all?

The reason it's important to say, over and over again, how stupid Americans are, what douche bags they are, is (1) it's a fact: the data on this, which I reproduce in Twilight and DAA, make this abs. clear; (2) literally no one else is saying it (it's politically incorrect; The American People are some sort of mystical entity, apparently), and (3) it's the one element the Left won't address when they talk about social change, because if you face up to it, u.c. that any future social change is inevitably going to be negative. Angry dummies can't organize to create a decent society, and boy, are we dummies.

So identification of the degraded quality of our society is impt because it *is* degraded, and can only get worse. But more impt, as I've said repeatedly, once the 'fix' is in, the only way out is thru: there is no 'repair' or 'recovery' ahead for the US; that's just some left-wing or 'progressive' fantasy. As with previous empires, ours simply has to collapse, along w/capitalism in general, so as to make way for a new socioeconomic formation. Which will take a while, but it's really the only hopeful sign on the horizon. (And we have been discussing the nature of that transition, and those possibilities, from time to time, in case u missed it.)

My guess, then, is that this is the wrong blog for you. You don't understand what I'm talking abt, and don't get the larger context. If these subjects are a waste of your time, the solution is obvious: go elsewhere. Because none of us are going to change topics just 4u, and start decrying the carnage of the world (in anatomical detail, as you apparently want), so that we can all show you how Deeply Feeling we are. That's yr domain, quite obviously, and as I said, I don't think much of it. For *that* would be the real waste of time. After all, if beating our breasts won't prevent more wars or school massacres, what wd be the point? I suppose there are blogs where you can do that and feel self-righteous--which I believe is your real purpose--but this ain't one of them. Godspeed!


6:43 AM  
Anonymous Ganginstein12 said...

john coltrain: "America makes other countries suffer. Having a cavalier attitude about death and denigration of a society, a culture as if “they deserve it” gains one what?"

I have always wondered about the same thing you deal with. They say that America is a force for good in the world. I say only those who wish to be deceived are being deceived. I am not deceived; America is the only problem destroying the world. America behaves like the biggest fish in a pond. It needs to eat as many little fishes as possible to survive. America is like Adam Lanza and because of the sickness of the mind, America has been causing genocides everywhere in the world.

BUT God or Karma is real and the chicken is coming home to roost – you cannot continue to do evil in other nations and cultures without seeing evil in your own homes. Your evil is already here in America in your own homes in your own children. You kill others with your drones; your children will kill you with your own guns. You cannot stop killing in Pakistan and Congo; your children cannot stop killing in schools, in malls, in theaters in America. This is just the beginning! Prepare for more because the art of killing and genocide is in your genes and you have passed on your genes to your deranged children.

If people in other cultures really understand what is good for them, they should close down your embassies and ban you from ever entering their nations.

7:13 AM  
Blogger Zosima said...

john coltrain said...

Suffering, if not the experience of, at least the understanding, from a level as visceral as possible is needed from this country. Why? Because our level of understanding it is a measure of our humanity...So trying to put yourself as deeply as possible, mentality, in the shoes of a Pakistani who suffers PTSD just from the “sound” of a drone simply flying overhead is a waste of time, huh?

Anyone who speaks up for empathy is no antagonist of mine and I would be upset if they were censored. So exactly what do you have in mind? If you have any examples, info, links, etc., about people who are doing this, in all earnestness, I’d like to know about it.

7:57 AM  
Blogger jml said...

i think john coltrain is trying to say that americans have become desensitized to pain (perhaps a result of all that technology?) and that americans won't understand what we/they have done to others until we feel that pain
a classmate of the newtown shooter said that they had to be careful when playing with him b/c he had a strange condition where he could not feel physical pain and so didn't known when he was hurt (wonder if that was a result of medication?)
seems some of us may end up choosing the monastic way of life simply as a way to avoid being shot

8:17 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Word has it that there are at least a million blogs and websites out there, and it's just a guess on my part, but statistically I'm assuming that some of them deal with anatomical descriptions of people being blown up and so on, wh/John apparently wants to focus on. As far as this blog goes, yes, I regard trying to imagine being killed by a predator drone as a waste of time. If John wants to put me, or this blog, down in a self-righteous way and insist we deal with the physiological results of drone strikes instead of what we do deal with, this is the wrong place for him.


Thank you! That's my point. What critics on the Left wanna do is focus on the evil of the government; but that evil hardly arises from nowhere. There's a microcosm/macrocosm issue, in other words: they are related, and we will not be able to think thru what the US gov't is doing until we are clear abt the nature of a populace that ecstatically (see photos of Obama rallies) votes it into office and remains willfully ignorant of what that gov't is doing; or just doesn't care. The stats of violence and stupidity of American citizens are like no other nation on earth; this is not unrelated to killing civilians in Pakistan. Focusing on the physiology of bomb effects, as opposed to the dynamic of how the bombs get dropped, is not what we are doing on this blog. Nor is parading our Deep Empathy and Quality as a Person, wh/I personally find offensive. As you correctly pt out, we *are* deranged; that's what we need to investigate.


9:10 AM  
Anonymous Marcos12 said...

If anyone really wants to understand what goes on in America, listen to talk radios, Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, and Fox News. Gun manufacturers give these radio and TV stations and hosts a lot of millions of dollars per year in advertisement money to sell guns, to hype up the need to pack heat to defend your children. So these people in radio and TV stations say a lot of fear-mongering things to sell guns. They pump up Americans to buy guns. They say outrageous things about Obama to scare the dumbass Americans to buy guns. They say Obama is trying to destroy the country. They say after Obama’s second term, the country will be over because Obama will end their rights to own guns. This is why Adam Lanza’s mother bought those guns. This is why lots of women like her are buying lots of guns. This is why William Bennett, the former secretary of education, declared on TV last Sunday that teachers and principals should be armed.

William Bennett’s full-time job is talk-radio hosting. This is a man with a PhD in philosophy. This is a man who was in charge of all schools in America. This is a man who takes millions from gun makers. This same man had addiction with gambling in casinos and he gambled millions of dollars. You see, this man is no dummy because he has a PhD. Yet, he is a nut case in his thinking about guns. He thinks you can solve the gun problem in America by injecting more guns into children’s schools. Think about these inconsistencies for a minute. It is not the gun or the children. It is the adults in America. The adults are insane and they are highly “educated”. What is this – educated and insane and idiots because of greed for money?

11:11 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I've often said on this blog that when I call Americans 'stupid', I'm not just talking abt IQ. My favorite example is Robt McNamara, who probably had an IQ around 150 and was dumb as a stick--and a war criminal to boot. Dick Cheney wd also be in this category (tho his psychosis is an impt additional factor). And Wm Bennett: yes, you've characterized him well. This country is filled w/lots of Ph.D.'s and folks w/high IQ's like Bennett, who are so stupid they are practically insane. So why is this? Is it, as u suggest, because of greed for money?

This wd be a very long discussion, because in a certain way, almost all of my work impinges on this question. It's also where my first trilogy, on human consciousness, and my 2nd trilogy, on the American empire, converge (or at least overlap). I'll save u a bit of rdg and try to give u the (very) abbreviated version.

Intellectual knowing is not the same as ontological knowing. The first is the domain of the frontal cortex. The latter is the domain of the limbic system, which lies under the cerebrum. This is why the Freudian or Jungian distinction of conscious/unconscious mind is accurate: ego on top, impulses and urges below. Freud's solution to the danger of limbic impulse was cerebral control, which is often necessary, but wh/can engender a kind of backlash. Jung's solution was that the two had to develop a relationship w/each other; probably a better way to go, but there still remains the problem of limbic impulse going out of control. In civilization in particular, wrote Freud, man is doomed.

W/in civilization, there is a limbic pressure for a 'rush', or what I've called 'the ascent experience'. This is what alcoholics are doing, gambling addicts are doing, cell phone users, TV addicts, sugar addicts--etc. What shd I do on Xmas eve when I'm invited for dinner w/my Mexican family and they truck out the homemade pastries at the end of the meal? I don't need that shit; I have high cholesterol. Limbic brain says Go for it!, while thinking brain says Maybe this is not what u need. Truth is that all of these addictions represent the search for a much deeper need--e.g. love, or a sense of real security, or a knowledge of one's identity--and civilization pulls a trick on us: it makes it hard to get those things, and offers us substitute satisfactions instead. This diabolical tradeoff has reached its apogee in the United States, where most people are miserable--and also clueless why, because the 'entertainment' just keeps on coming.

In Bennett's case, he got off on gambling, but also on power, represented by political appointments, guns, and money. Way down deep inside--also on the limbic level--he knows the truth: he's nothing. He knows guns/money/power are just props. But he also suspects he's unlovable, and that he'll never get the satisfaction he truly craves. So, might as well settle for the substitutes, because what else is there? And this is what makes him a dummy, as it did McNamara ('let's just keep bombing') and as it does Cheney ('we can't torture them enuf'). Bennett will go to his death never understanding, on the conscious level, what he was doing. And because of that, he, and Obama, and your next-door neighbor, will lay their trips on other people ('more guns, that's the answer!') rather than follow the dictum of Know Thyself, as Solon and Socrates urged long ago (it was also inscribed in the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo). (Continued below)

12:21 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

As I said, the US is the land of substitute satisfactions par excellence--read the 1st epigraph to WAF (Thos Lewis)--and so it cranks out ontological morons by the boatload. If there's one thing Americans don't know, it's themselves--a perfect formula for self-destruction. Marcos, when I say There is no hope, I mean just that: There is no hope. Replace Bennett w/someone else and you'll accomplish nothing, because the psychological configuration will be identical, and Amrican capitalism in particular feeds this blindness. So removing Bennett wd be like cutting off the head of the Hydra, because the 'Bennett population' of the country, mutatis mutandis, is above the 99% mark.

I hope I have answered your question.


12:21 PM  
Blogger pinkpearl said...

So, here's this:

Contrast that with Norway's reaction to the mass shooting of July 2011, which was all about understanding and forgiveness. I don't remember the discussion about their gun control laws. At any rate the gun laws were not the focus of the reaction.

Give it a couple more years and Americans might start showing up in other countries as refugee claimants, on the grounds of needing to escape violence.

12:27 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


That says it all, doesn't it. As for emigration, only the ones w/half a brain will do it; in other words, probably less than 50,000 people (if we're being generous).


12:30 PM  
Anonymous Samuel Drake said...

Pinkpearl, thanks for the link.

Here is a passage from the article:

One local proprietor told Huffington Post customers were particularly interested in combat-style assault rifles like the one used by shooter Adam Lanza to commit mass murder.

Though it's not unusual to see a spike in the sale of weapons after such incidents, at least one shop owner said the volume of prospective customers this time around was "unprecedented."

"We already have tons of customers because of Christmas, hunting season is peaking right now, and not to mention, the election," said Larry Hyatt, owner of the largest independently owned gun store in America. "But this tragedy is pushing sales through the roof. It's like putting gasoline on a fire."

I love it.

Let them keep buying more guns. At least, they will eventually use the guns on each other.

The world’s problem will be solved after they finish killing each other.

1:02 PM  
Anonymous ennobled little day said...

So now that I've read your "(very) abbreviated version," does that mean I've waster my money buying your book and shouldn't bother buying any more? ;)

Great book, by the way...

1:14 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and fellow Wafers,

Considering that Americans don't really pay too much attention to the outside world, it's still instructive to read what sane voices throughout the world think about American insanity.

1:35 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Which book are we talking abt? (I referred to 6)


Myself, I don't think we can have too many guns. We need guns, guns, and more guns. And yes, you may quote me.


1:36 PM  
Anonymous TimR said...

Interesting comment about the intellectual vs ontological understanding... Any suggested further reading on this topic?

Re: PedroC's link to the Telegraph article on US schools to require 70% non-fiction books

I got suckered in by this story myself last week when I heard about it. But I found a homeschooling forum where some commenters debunked it. The actual source document the article is based on is not at all as represented. The Telegraph article is complete journalistic malpractice, designed to inflame by selective examples and misleading presentation of the facts (and some outright misinformation.)

I'm sure there are reasons to criticize the "Common Core Curriculum" (or whatever they call it.) The whole practice of schooling is messed up*. But the proposal is not as the article represents it.

*An aside: if schools are intentionally designed to dull the mind, as some suggest (Gatto), does that exonerate the public at all from MB's critique?

1:47 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Freud, Jung, Reich, Adler, Balint, Winnicott, Klein--just for starters. Plus, check out "Coming to Our Senses" and "Wandering God," also refs in ftnotes. No, Americans are not off the hook. I've discussed this many times b4, but it's a chicken-and-egg problem: the system moves people in a certain (dull) direction, and then those people actively--take note--reproduce the system. But it takes people to do it; it's not just that the whole thing runs on autopilot w/no one having any responsibility. After all, the 'subversive' info is out there; plus, we all have had teachers who were inspiring. Where did they come from? It's not a 'machine', in other words; choices do exist.


2:09 PM  
Anonymous JJ Godwin said...

India's The Times of India: For those griping about the American right to bear arms, wake up. This is the 21st century and America's a settled state, not the rough-edged, wide open spaces of the 1780s when the Constitution was framed and everything, from land to liberty, was based on violent contests. Bearing arms then might have made sense — doing so today is swallowing the nonsense posed as liberty by commercial lobbies. Some argue weapons empower victims against aggressors. If so, should second-graders pack pistols in their schoolbags? Such shaky logic simply intensifies dangerous situations.

What a beautiful way to see the madness in America! The passage contains a lot of gems.

1) Let college students carry guns in their backpack mixed with their books
Since shooting happened in colleges in the past

2) Let judges, court clerks, citizens inside courtrooms carry guns inside their pockets,
Since there have been shootings in courtrooms

3) Let grocery shoppers and shoppers at malls carry guns in their pockets,
since shootings have occurred in grocery stores and malls

4) Let pastors, church goers, Synagogue goers carry guns with their bible,
Since shootings have occurred in these holy places

5) Let airplane passengers carry guns in their pockets and luggages,
Since shootings have occurred in the past in airplanes
6) When you walk or drive down the street (any street), be sure to carry your guns,
Since shootings occurred in so many streets in the past
7) When you are in a playground for children, be sure to carry guns.

Finally, since the constitution was written in 1780 when there was limited knowledge on guns, Americans should be allowed to own and use: 1) armored tankers, 2) RPG, 3) nerve gas, 4) nuclear bombs, etc since these are available for sale today.

2:43 PM  
Anonymous sanctuary! said...

MB, maybe your "very abbreviated version" shd be posted in the sidebar links and titled "Where I'm Coming From". That might put newbies right and reduce # of trolls.

And far from discouraging further reading, that abb version - which is brilliant, btw - wld make anyone w/a brain claw through a concrete wall to read yr trilogies (as little day prob was hinting cheekily) or re-read them. I printed it out & stuck it on my bathroom mirror, right between I LIVE AMONG DOLTS and 314 MILLION DOLTS.

3:58 PM  
Blogger PedroC. said...

Re: crazy morons with PhD's

I think it cannot be stressed enough that there is absolutely no connection between IQ and actual intelligence (reasoning and deep thought).

What's worse is that nowadays even people with substandard IQ's can have PhD's (and from 'prestigious' universities). So now you have dumb, crazy morons with PhD's -an even more dangerous class.

Regular people defer very important decisions to those 'doctors' out of the assumption that they are way smarter than the rest. The result of this can be easily seen in our thriving and stable global economic system (go Keynes!).

What worries me (and amuses me) is what will happen when the next generation of PhD's takes control of politics, economics and academy (the ones who don't even have high IQ's).

The only 'cure' for this would be a classical education with emphasis on reasoning, analysis and self-reflection. Also, much higher standards for 'higher' and post-grad education. As if that would ever happen.

The only bright side to this is -as Dr. B. said- that, even with the horrible school system, bright, reasoning and critical thinkers do come out. No system can completely extinguish the human flame.


PS: Tim, thanks for the clarification. I assumed the Telegraph was a decent source for news. I was wrong.

5:02 PM  
Anonymous Seth said...


You pointed out that only Americans with half a brain will emigrate. I'd like to point out another sad fact: not all Americans who have a brain have the ability to emigrate. Many of them will be stuck with the sinking Leviathan that is America. You have people like Bradley Manning, who figured out what America is all about, but was imprisoned for political reasons; and you also have people who are too poor or too sick to emigrate.

Although most Americans don't deserve sympathy, I have met at least a few dozen that understand what America is, how it works, and the injustice and destruction it perpetrates in the world. These people deserve credit for remaining human in an inhuman culture.

Samuel Drake,

The fact that Americans are rushing to buy the same make of gun (or general type of gun) that Adam Lanza used tells me that it's not self-defense, but a desire to imitate what Adam Lanza did, that is driving up the gun sales. Yes, it's stupid to try to solve the problem of gun violence with more guns, but what we have here isn't even such an attempt: it's a desire for all-out gun violence as a lifestyle.

5:21 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Nothing can reduce the # of morons and trolls that hit this website. John Coltrain, bad as he was, was hardly the worst of it. I get these endlessly smug put-downs from buffoons who haven't read a page of my work, or even of this blog. And they're so superior! My finger is getting worn out from hitting Delete, I tell u. It never occurs to these bozos, if they disagree w/something I've written, to prepare a list of counterevidence, and present it w/o Attitude (they're drowning in Attitude). All of wh/confirms my general impression of the American public: a collection of clowns. Hell, 'trolls' and 'morons' is practically a compliment for these imbeciles. (And they just keep comin'...Remember the Simpletons in Fahrenheit 451?) BTW, we are now up to 315 million dolts. Even as we speak, OB-GYN wards across the nation are popping out thousands of future dolts.


I cdn't agree more. In fact, my feeling is that all 315 million dolts shd be equipped with an AK-47, and shd ensure their safety by mowing down anyone in their way. We are currently exhibiting far too much restraint.


5:25 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Yes, of course; I keep assuming readers such as yrself have had the benefit of previous discussions, and forget to add all the qualifiers that I did in the past. So yes, it's a given, not all Americans w/half a brain have the means or opportunity to emigrate; which leaves them w/the NMI option. (I don't hafta explain that, rt?)


6:11 PM  
Anonymous ennobled little day said...

Dr. Berman,

I bought "A Question of Values."

You mentioned Adler... Karl Popper didn't have a very high opinion of him, if I remember correctly. I remember reading some excerpt by Popper on falsifiability where Adler, along with Freud and Marx, were accused of being unscientific (or something).

Despite not having read anything about either Adler, Marx or Freud, I sided with Popper since he seemed so "pro-science." Now, aside from having to look into all four of them more closely, I don't know what to think. Was Popper full of it when he said that? I'm inclined to think he simplified their positions so as to make them better targets for him to take down.


If you excuse my languege... You're gonna need one huge-ass mirror for that. lol!

7:22 PM  
Blogger One Canadian said...

Unfortunately it is not only Americans (and Canadians) who are large collections of morons....Australians must be added to the list.
An associated Press article yesterday reported that a female Australian government employee who was injured while having sex in a motel room during an out of town business trip is entitled to worker's compensation.
It seems that during sex a light fixture was pulled from its mount injuring her nose and mouth, leaving her depressed and unable to continue working for the government.

Too much focus on entitlement and no focus on responsibility!

7:45 PM  
Anonymous Savantesimal said...

And now...

Once again the market responds to the consumer's needs! Tactical body armor for school kids!

Mother Jones: Post-Newtown, Sales Boom for Kids' Body Armor

7:46 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


The whole problem will be solved once everyone owns, and lives inside of, an Abrams tank.


I'm a bit puzzled as to exactly she was *doing* in bed. Some position from the Kama Sutra that I never heard of? Pls, get me the details, I'm eager to try it out. Anyway, altho there was no sex involved, no one, to my mind, can outdo Latreasa Goodman.


Check out the short bio of Popper by Bryan Magee (it's in the Fontana Modern Masters series). Popper's contribution to the philosophy of science remains magisterial; I personally am a great admirer of him. The problem is that he got hold of an idea--falsifiability--and went completely overboard with it. In fact, 'nuts' may not be too strong a word. The concept doesn't work well with 'becoming', as they say in philosophy; with dialectical systems, in other words. Using Popper, you can (attempt to) discredit Freud, Marx, and Hegel, but I have no doubt who were the giants and who was the pygmy. Popper's logical positivism meant that a thing cannot be and not-be simultaneously; but when things are in the process of becoming, the law of noncontradiction isn't of much help. For example, the past lives in the present, as Faulkner told us. Doesn't matter if this fails Popper's criteria; it still happens to be true. Or take the case of Adler, who argued that people display a 'superiority complex' because they secretly feel inferior. Again, this makes no Popperian sense, but it's right on the money (cf. Wm Bennett). For a good satire of Popper (and Isaiah Berlin), check out the relevant sections in E.H. Carr, "What Is History?"--one of my favorite bks.


8:06 PM  
Anonymous Stone said...

“Nobody has more absolute fun with guns than my family...Our American Dream is measured in ballistics."
-- Ted Nugent

Doesn't that little gem of a quotation have it all? Let's dutifully list the ingredients:

the American Dream,
and plain exponentially dumbfounding stupidity.

8:57 PM  
Anonymous ennobled little day said...

Thanks Dr. Berman! I added both books to my wishlist at Amazon.

(Sorry if that offends people. Amazon's wishlist is convenient and impossible to lose.)

As for the "dialectic"... Is there some book you'd recommend for a beginner in "dialectic"? I think I have a good idea of what it is, and I'm convinced that one cannot do proper science without it (I was in grad school for a while pursuing a PhD in the sciences)... but that's funny since I don't really know much about it. lol!

8:58 PM  
Anonymous bart said...

MB,,, great suggestion... I'd also recommend the head gear being modeled by one of our great Democratic presidential candidates. I've taken to wearing this around the local coffee shops... It's a big hit with the ladies... American gals these days love a man in uniform.

9:23 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Maybe there's something like "Hegel for Dummies," I dunno. You might also try Isaiah Berlin's bio of Marx. Crucial pt: things and their opposites are related. E.g. capitalism supposedly contains the seeds of its own destruction: it generates a proletarian class that eventually rises up and overthrows it. Hence, the very success of capitalism is the source of its downfall. Second example: denial is affirmation. E.g., you come up to me and tell me I'm gay. I proceed to jump up and down and scream 'I'm not gay', until I'm red in the face. What wd you conclude from this?


According to the World Moron Institute, the MPH (Morons Per Hectare) in the US is the highest in the world. Denmark, e.g., is 0.7; US is 149.8. This is hard scientific data.


10:02 PM  
Anonymous Stone said...

Regarding Hegel:

If you read German, the best book about Hegel -- and the clearest! -- is Vittorio Hösle's Hegels System (2 vol., 1998).

His discussion of the issue of contradiction and the status of the principle of non-contradiction (of the latter he actually distinguishes two types, an ontological one and a discursive one) is extensive and very sophisticated. Being a neo- Hegelian, he naturally takes issue with Popper.

Here is a recent collection of papers (in English) on Hegel's dialectic by some of the best contemporary Hegel scholars: Nectarios Limnatis, ed., The Dimensions of Hegel's Dialectic (Continuum, 2010). Among other things, it contains a contribution by Hösle and one by Dieter Wandschneider, arguably the most important specialist on Hegelian logic, along with Hösle, who was his student. His work (mostly in German) on Hegel's logic is the most detailed, rigorous, and sophisticated to date. Demanding, but rewarding reading.

In English, I would recommend

10:55 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

ennobled little day-

For a good overview of Hegel and other classical thinkers, check out "From Socrates to Sartre: The Philosophic Quest" by T.Z. Lavine. Lavine presents the greats in a very readable and understandable way.


Nugent is the personification of the deranged *Dream* indeed. Thanks for the quote.

10:56 PM  
Blogger john coltrain said...

Thank you Morris for pointing out my thoughtless stupidity:

Nothing can reduce the # of morons and trolls that hit this website. John Coltrain, bad as he was, was hardly the worst of it. I get these endlessly smug put-downs from buffoons who haven't read a page of my work, or even of this blog. And they're so superior!

2:19 AM  
Anonymous Zero said...

If I may add my $0.02:

Empathy: the American people are not very amenable to this sentiment. It’s just too complex of an emotion for most of them. They are much better with anger, rage, fear, greed, and lust. Hence national sports such as war, massacre, fraud, hustling, and consumerism.

Chances America will learn anything from Newtown and change: zero! America did not learn anything from much greater lessons such as 9/11, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan. This nation will just keep on doing what it has always done, namely killing, stealing, cheating, threatening, and lying, until its very last breath (which is probably not too far off).

3:19 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Ach du Lieber! Also Gott in Himmel! Thank u all for the Hegel refs; these shd keep Day busy for many a day. I also want to add that the Encyclopedia of Philosophy (ed. Paul Edwards) has an entry for "Dialectics" by Roland Hall that is pretty gd.


I don't know if yr being serious or sarcastic here, but I'll give u the benefit of the doubt. Here's the pt: how very American your message was. I cdn't help comparing it to how Mexicans or Japanese behave. When they enter a new context, they try to get a sense of what it's abt and adapt to it. If it isn't their cup of tea, they leave. An American doesn't adapt: rather, he tries to dominate the space and change the context to suit what he feels it shd be about. Hence, you insisted the blog shd not be what it is, but become something else (graphic discussions of war victims being blown apart). It's a very aggressive move, and ironically--that's why we are blowing war victims apart! I deal specifically with this American way of being-in-the-world (aggressive, destructive, overbearing, self-righteous) in QOV, the essay entitled "How to Get Out of Iraq." This is where the micro/macro relationship is important: what Americans do on a daily basis, in their daily lives--i.e., attempt to dominate other people and situations--is precisely what the US gov't attempts to do to the rest of the globe. Quelle surprise! This relates to what I said to Tim (above) re: chicken and egg, wh/is more appropriately called a vicious circle. The system molds people in a certain (aggressive and destructive) way; they then reproduce this in their lives and elect leaders w/these values; who then mold people in a that way, etc.

As I said, you are hardly the worst of it. I have to delete the peacocks, the aggressive buffoons who know it all, who swagger onto the blog w/no real knowledge of it, who are smug and stupid at the same time, and who have abs. no talent for adapting to an unfamiliar context or reflecting on where they themselves are coming from. (Everyone shd try running a blog sometime, really, if you wanna get a sense of the sheer volume of douche bags that populate our fair country. I tell u, it's breathtaking.) In a way, this blog is not for 'true Americans'. Rather, it's for true human beings. We may have gotten to a pt in our history where one cannot be both.

As I said, I'm assuming your last message was sincere, and not ironic. Hence: thank you, and let's continue the dialogue.


9:10 AM  
Anonymous JWO said...

Sigh - (and whatever internet speak is for rolling of eyes):

or maybe The Onion has bought out Time and that is one of those holiday pranks?

10:21 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Apparently he beat out the CEO of Apple: another appropriate choice. So Man of the Year is the guy who shredded the Bill of Rts and became a war criminal; but let's all get excited, because he symbolizes a "cultural change". When I said u can't be an American and a human being simultaneously...You guys want more evidence?


10:38 AM  
Anonymous Stone said...

As you may see from my Hegel tips above, I forgot to complete my post.

Here is the missing recommendation:

Charles Taylor, Hegel (Cambridge, 1987).

The book gives a view of the entirety of Hegel's work.

The site lists many second hand copies.

10:57 AM  
Blogger dg said...

Mr B

Re: "the peacocks, the aggressive buffoons who know it all"

I would pay to read these deleted posts, even more if you commented on each one. Something for future generations to study.

Maybe a Kindle Single or a text file or carrier pigeons. I know it would be a hassle but what a fab xmas present.

Spent 30 mins seated in a restaurant watching the young couple next to us on their phones. Only looked up once to ask the server for menus. Never would have believed it.


11:22 AM  
Anonymous sanctuary! said...

MB, time to find a nice young lady associated with a university down there and set her to the task of weeding out the more obviously worthless comments, as an intern. U wld have to spend some time training her and getting her on yr wavelength. The blacker the buffoons paint u, the more dangerous, intriguing, and romantic u begin to appear. Even trolls have their uses.

11:51 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Hard to find a bilingual ass't, for some reason; but then I haven't really looked. I also doubt the gov't regards me as much of a danger: US has 315 million people, WAF sold all of 6,000 copies. Some danger. But I confess, I do love the trolls. The more vigorous their attacks, the more I say: "That's America!" Besides, they're (unintentionally) very funny. As Gore Vidal once said, "Stupidity excites me."


12:34 PM  
Anonymous Brian said...

Oh my; circling the drain, indeed . . .

1:28 PM  
Anonymous Savantesimal said...

There has been some comment in the press coverage that Nancy Lanza was a "gun nut" as the colloquialism goes. But there hasn't been much notice that the whole community is heavily armed. She was not that unusual for the context she lived in. Newtown, CT. is a wealthy community full of "preppers" stockpiling weapons to protect their wealth from the hordes of looters they expect when society collapses.

Investigative reporters have found that police have been receiving many complaints about automatic gunfire and explosions in the semi-rural areas around that town. That would be "preppers" rehearsing for the big drama they expect.

Nancy Lanza was probably friends with many of the people causing those complaints. Not hard to see where Adam Lanza got the idea that weapons and violence are the way to deal with problems...

Listen to the story here:
Brian Lehrer / WNYC: Black Guns After the Sandy Hook Shooting

Michael Moss, New York Times reporter, talks about the use of firearms in Newtown, Connecticut, and how resistant the area has been to gun control.

Adam Winkler, Constitutional law professor at UCLA and author of: Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America, explains what we know about the weapons allegedly used by the shooter Adam Lanza, what black rifles are and why they are so popular.

1:40 PM  
Anonymous Xiale said...

I know that this blog has looked at Japan as an alternative to the American way. However, I wonder what the possibilities are for Latin America filling that role, especially considering some of the political economic shifts in the last decade. Accordingly, can Latin America eventually make more of a clean break from consumer capitalism and its vapid ideology? Also, are the cultural traditions deep enough to allow Latin Americans to embrace a trule alternative?

1:50 PM  
Anonymous Marcos12 said...

Zero: This nation will just keep on doing what it has always done, namely killing, stealing, cheating, threatening, and lying

Berman: An American doesn't adapt: rather, he tries to dominate the space and change the context to suit what he feels it shd be about ... (aggressive, destructive, overbearing, self-righteous)

Nothing will change in their character or behavior. They simply love stealing and killing, and they think they are more civilized than peoples from other cultures because of their capacity to steal and kill and dominate. Therefore, they will do anything to keep their mindset and way of life perpetual.

Remember: you are either with them or against them. If you are with them, you are considered cool and acceptable. If you are against them or think like them, you are threat to them.

Two weeks ago, right before the shooting in school in Connecticut, North Korea lunched a rocket into the space. The day after the lunch, the American media was all over the story as if the world was about to end; the pundits on CNN were saying all kinds of bad things about the people and leader of North Korea: they are starving; he spends billions on military while his people starve to death; he promised that he would not lunch, but he is now lunching; the rocket may reach North America and he may arm it with nuclear bomb; he is reclusive like his father; he is violating UN's regulation; he is threatening to Japan and South Korea. While I was watching and listening to these cacophonous things, CNN breaks away to show that the US government lunched a secret military satellite on the same day as North Korea. Nothing was said about this by the same talking heads. It was considered NORMAL and ACCEPTABLE. It is like: the US is appointed by God to manufacture and lunch military satellites and no other nation dares think of such a thing. God appointed them to be killers and pillagers; nobody else should think about killing or pillaging. Hypocrites and thugs!

1:54 PM  
Anonymous TimR said...

MB, I take your point about the vicious circle between the public and its managers - to a degree. It just seems perverse to blame children for not having the wherewithal to escape a system designed by scientific men to turn them into mind-numbed robots. (For skeptics out there, see

ps. Thanks for author recs.

2:17 PM  
Anonymous ennobled little day said...

Dr. Berman, Stone and Jeff T,

Thanks for the recommendations!! That's quite a bit of stuff! Sometimes I wish I had majored in philosophy or anthropology or something like that...

**shrugs** Oh, well...

I thought you guys might appreciate the link below. Apparently, by 2015, we'll be safer driving in our cars than out among people.

Last time I heard, Los Angeles has "road rage," so I guess you're still gonna be screwed if that's where you call home.

3:05 PM  
Blogger LJansen said...

Hey, MB! I found one!

It's a little too pricey for me. You? Maybe if all us WAFers chip in? Time share or something.

3:50 PM  
Anonymous Susan W. said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

What do you think the chances are this article from The Guardian will appear in the NYT?


In the US, mass child killings are tragedies. In Pakistan, mere bug splats

Barack Obama's tears for the children of Newtown are in stark contrast to his silence over the children murdered by his drones.

"Mere words cannot match the depths of your sorrow, nor can they heal your wounded hearts … These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change." Every parent can connect with what President Barack Obama said about the murder of 20 children in Newtown, Connecticut. There can scarcely be a person on earth with access to the media who is untouched by the grief of the people of that town.

It must follow that what applies to the children murdered there by a deranged young man also applies to the children murdered in Pakistan by a sombre American president. These children are just as important, just as real, just as deserving of the world's concern. Yet there are no presidential speeches or presidential tears for them, no pictures on the front pages of the world's newspapers, no interviews with grieving relatives, no minute analysis of what happened and why.

If the victims of Mr Obama's drone strikes are mentioned by the state at all, they are discussed in terms which suggest that they are less than human. The people who operate the drones, Rolling Stone magazine reports, describe their casualties as "bug splats", "since viewing the body through a grainy-green video image gives the sense of an insect being crushed". But a report by the law schools at Stanford and New York universities suggests that during the first three years of his time in office, the 259 strikes for which he is ultimately responsible killed between 297 and 569 civilians, of whom at least 64 were children. These are figures extracted from credible reports: there may be more which have not been fully documented.

The wider effects on the children of the region have been devastating. Many have been withdrawn from school because of fears that large gatherings of any kind are being targeted. There have been several strikes on schools since Bush launched the drone programme that Obama has expanded so enthusiastically: one of Bush's blunders killed 69 children.

The study reports that children scream in terror when they hear the sound of a drone. A local psychologist says that their fear and the horrors they witness is causing permanent mental scarring. Children wounded in drone attacks told the researchers that they are too traumatised to go back to school and have abandoned hopes of the careers they might have had. Their dreams as well as their bodies have been broken.

Obama does not kill children deliberately. But their deaths are an inevitable outcome of the way his drones are deployed. We don't know what emotional effect these deaths might have on him, as neither he nor his officials will discuss the matter: almost everything to do with the CIA's extrajudicial killings in Pakistan is kept secret. But you get the impression that no one in the administration is losing much sleep over it.

Most of the world's media, which has rightly commemorated the children of Newtown, either ignores Obama's murders or accepts the official version that all those killed are "militants". The children of north-west Pakistan, it seems, are not like our children. They have no names, no pictures, no memorials of candles and flowers and teddy bears. They belong to the other: to the non-human world of bugs and grass and tissue.

5:15 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Well, the legal system doesn't let murderers and rapists off the hook just because they had a bad childhood. On that logic, no one wd be responsible for anything. There are always choices, and there's always rehab. It's not like alternative info isn't out there. Similarly, the officials at TEPCO *are* responsible for the Fukushima-Daiichi disaster of 2011, even tho Japan's culture stifles dissent and (to paraphrase Maruyama Masao) discourages personal responsibility. We simply aren't in The Matrix yet, altho granted, it will be a very long time b4 even 5% of the American public begins to view public cell phone use as a type of criminal behavior. If you reproduce the system, there are limits to claiming 'but I was formed by it'. So were we all.


Or, it's OK for Israel to have a nuclear missile stockpile at Dimona in the Negev, but it's not OK for Iran to refine uranium ore. Whose rules? Whose morality?


Ojala! The problem is that much of Latin America is avidly following the US model: Chile, Mexico, and so on. Since in most of these cases a handful of wealthy families run the show, I doubt the situation can be reversed. There as elsewhere, the light will dawn when the system crashes.


5:16 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


And now this butcher, instead of being tried at The Hague and hanged, is Times' Man of the Year! But this is why he is only a reflection of America's John Q. Public: Mr. Public believes that only America's pain counts; the pain of other peoples is neither here nor there. How many 9/11's have we caused around the world? But only the 3000 New Yorkers are sacred martyrs. Etc.

In general, I'm past disgust--and much more at John Q. Public than at Obamanation.


5:39 PM  
Anonymous Seth said...


It's true, John Q. Public is just as responsible for the crimes of the American government as the American politicians themselves.

Which brings me to two points I would like to make. The first point is that Americans love to take credit for the "good" things their politicians do, all the while refusing to accept responsibility for all the evil shit their politicians do.

And onto my next point, which is somewhat related, but not entirely related: Americans were so quick to judge *all* Muslims as incarnations of Satan after 9/11, even though about a dozen Muslims were directly responsible (and none of them affiliated with any national government). If several dozen Americans did something similar to, say, Britain, Americans would be outraged if people judged all Americans by the actions of these few people. This kind of double-standard has never been mentioned in the media, or in any book or television show I've encountered.

America's War *Of* Terror is literally only this: the stereotyping of a whole group of ethnically and culturally diverse people, more than a billion (!), based on the actions of a few.

6:34 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

More on Japan/US:

This from Ruth Benedict's classic work, *The Chrysanthemum and the Sword*:

"The idea that the pursuit of happiness is a serious goal of life is to [the Japanese] an amazing and immoral doctrine. Happiness is a relaxation in which one indulges when one can, but to dignify it as something by which the State and family should be judged is quite unthinkable."

And this is from Lafcadio Hearn, *Out of the East*:

"Just as we have exterminated feebler races by merely *overliving* them, by monopolizing and absorbing, almost without conscious effort, everything necessary to their happiness,--so may we ourselves be exterminated at last by races capable of *underliving* us, of monopolizing all our necessities; races more patient, more self-denying, more fertile, and much less expensive for nature to support. These would doubtless inherit our wisdom, adopt our more useful inventions, continue the best of our industries,--perhaps even perpetuate what is most worthy to endure in our sciences and our arts. But they would scarcely regret our disappearance any more than we ourselves regret the extinction of the dinotherium or the ichthyosaurus."

6:41 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


This country has always needed an enemy to function. Didn't really matter who it was, so I suppose Muslims shdn't take it personally. Speaking of Hegel and dialectics wrt this subject, check out essay in QOV on 'conspiracy'.


7:53 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Oops! I referred u 2 the wrong essay; sorry! I meant the one entitled "Locating the Enemy." Enjoy!


7:59 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and fellow Wafers,

Ruth Benedict's quote speaks, in a way, to what the non-hustlers were trying to accomplish in America that you document in WAF Dr. B. In other words, the dominant culture/tradition in America couldn't see the shame in pursuing a life of pure profit/happiness. They couldn't recognize that it was an undignified pursuit in many ways.

Incidentally, on the pop-culture front, there was a reference to Benedict's "The Chrysanthemum and the Sword" in the television drama "Mad Men." The main character, 1960s Madison Ave. advertising exec. Don Draper, was shown reading the book in several scenes in order to, you guessed it, hustle up some Japanese business. The episode was, in fact, titled The Chrysanthemum and the Sword.

8:33 PM  
Anonymous Zero said...

So far, three WAFers wrote me to share their email address, so we can keep in touch, should this blog be shut down (see my post in the “The Diamond of the Mind” thread). If anybody else wants to join this list, send me a note at:

I'll wait a few more days, and then send an email with the list to those who wrote in.


9:58 PM  
Blogger James said...

You don’t have to be too smart to have systemic organization and process resources and energy. A nation of dolts can do the job just fine, perhaps finer than the erudite class. The resource gradients will meet their greater entropy soon and the addicts will be writhing on the ground in agony, but they will have done their evolved duty, creating tools to break into nature’s storehouse and gorging on the booty. No need for education, just well motivated technological innovation to chase receding resources will do fine. So you all just relax and try not to get the limbics all riled up, they’re doing what they’ve evolved to do, and then it will be over.

Trying to think of connections to Japan. My great uncle was a pilot on the first and subsequent firebomb raids on Tokyo, still have the aerial photos. Suppose I should be proud of that, I’m an American and they were unfortunate enough to be on the other team. Another uncle had a Japanese man come into the store where he worked to ask for directions. My uncle told him “You found your way to Pearl Harbor, you can go find your way to…………….”. Perhaps it was because his ship had its front end blown off by a Japanese torpedo. Didn’t sink though. I’ve stopped at Narita on the way to Bangkok a few times and I get the impression that losing face or making someone else lose face through your sloppiness or inattention to detail is not acceptable. In contrast, the U.S. airport personnel didn’t seem to have much self-respect. I’ve also noticed that Japanese children in the U.S. are usually well dressed and kempt unlike the slovenly American kids. So they’ve got the rising sun and Hasui while we have the golden arches and Warhol. I guess that says enough.

10:01 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

Despite what you may be hearing now, no meaningful gun control measure will become law. Dead American children are not a good enough reason to interfere with American gun manufacturers profits. Did any of our patriotic gun store owners close or stop selling semi-automatics for even five minutes, out of respect for the dead? You guessed it.

BTW Dr. B, I think I know why you're having so much trouble with troll buffoons. Oprah went off the air a while back, she’s only available on cable now. So there’s no one around to help American emote, and tell to us what wonderful people we are, after events like this show us our moral emptiness. So please, try to be more understanding.

12:27 AM  
Anonymous Frankistein said...

The land of the free, the dumb, and the insane!

According to the Associated Press, a patron at the All Cuts Barber Shop in Wentzville, Mo. remarked Tuesday that he wanted to kill the suspect, Adam Lanza — who is already dead. Somehow, inexplicably, 57-year-old Lester Davis was offended and took the comment as a threat, asking, "You want to murder me?"

Police say Davis then went to his car, got a pistol and fired three shots at the unnamed customer. Fortunately no one was injured.

Davis turned himself in to police. He remains in jail on $400,000 bond.

12:35 AM  
Anonymous EM said...

Forgive me for being a bit late to the party here.

But regarding the suggestion that we need to describe violence "anatomically" and "literally" because that will somehow make people "understand" that violence is bad, well.....

I'm suprised nobody pointed out that we already live in a culture absolutely steeped in depictions and descriptions of violence! We can't help but know exactly what it looks (and sounds) like.

Well-trained actors, with the aid of makeup and props, can be seen not just describing, but depicting in gory detail what the horror of...whatever looks like. War injuries, gunshots, amputations, car accidents, childbirth, violent attacks and beatings - last time I checked, they were depicted in full gory detail with regularity on tv and in the movies! (In fact, my lack of taste for such stuff is why I tend to avoid most movies and tv.) Or, if you'd rather read, well, there are plenty of books and graphic novels that deal in this stuff. Whatever your chosen media, some of it is even quite well done, and really quite realistic and uncomfortable to watch. You can realy SEE (and hear) the pain!

Of course, if fiction doesn't do it for you (because you can't help but know it's fiction), there are numerous documentaries and factual first-person accounts of horrors suffered (recently and not-so-recently) to keep one busy for a long time. Again, you can pick your medium, and some of it is even well-done.

Sorry for revisiting this, but the entire idea that Americans don't "understand" violence because we don't describe or depict it enough - in gory enough detail to get across the point that yeah, this is gross and gruesome and horrible - is just utterly puzzling to me. It seems to me like blood, guts, and suffering - real or fictionalized - are depicted EVERWHERE.

Am I missing something?

7:29 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


You may be missing something, I dunno. But this is by now a dead horse. We're back to the wonderful subject of morons and trolls; altho the article that Susan reprinted from The Guardian (above) is worth a read as well.


The All Cuts Barber Shop sounds like my kinda place: a real brain trust they've got going there. Americans are abs. wonderful, doncha think? Lester Davis is my new hero (alongside Latreasa Goodman and Barbara Ann Nowak--in fact, any one of these 3 cd be Hilary's running mate in 2016). Poor ol' Lester! Not only does he want to kill some guy who hasn't threatened him, but he can't even do the job w/3 shots! What a fazool, I tell u.

Most of u know that Chris Hedges recently did a book about parts of the US that are blown out economically. I think it may be time to do one abt the parts that are blown out mentally. I envision a sort of tour guide, for a car trip, wh/wd feature places like Wentzville, MO. Only trouble is, if we're talking about loci of mental collapse, the car wd have to stop abt every 5 miles (or 2, maybe). The bk cd also include interviews with Latreasa Goodman, Barbara Ann Nowak, Karl Rove, Joe the Plumber, and of course, Herman Cain. Wafers are invited to propose possible titles. E.g., "A Bozo Tour of the United States," "Trolling Across America," etc.


I see yr playing the empathy card again. Once again, wrong venue: I don't have v. much empathy for trolls and morons. I do, however, love them, because they provide me w/vast quantities of entertainment. Plus, in the abstract, I envision trolls as being round and furry, and thus adorable. So what we need, perhaps, is a Troll Liberation Front (TLF):

Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh!
TLF is gonna win!

On the other hand, I guess we already have a TLF: it's called, The United States.


8:42 AM  
Anonymous Pete Charlie said...

MEXICO CITY -- The world's happiest people aren't in Qatar, the richest country by most measures. They aren't in Japan, the nation with the highest life expectancy. Canada, with its chart-topping percentage of college graduates, doesn't make the top 10.

Prosperous nations can be deeply unhappy ones. And poverty-stricken ones are often awash in positivity, or at least a close approximation of it.

Gallup Inc. asked about 1,000 people in each of 148 countries last year if they were well-rested, had been treated with respect, smiled or laughed a lot, learned or did something interesting and felt feelings of enjoyment the previous day.

In Panama and Paraguay, 85 percent of those polled said yes to all five, putting those countries at the top of the list. They were followed closely by El Salvador, Venezuela, Trinidad and Tobago, Thailand, Guatemala, the Philippines, Ecuador and Costa Rica.

Dr Vandana Shiver says if you eat more than you need, you are stealing from somebody who needs it somewhere. Some people eat more than they need, and they are so fat and so unhappy and so violent to each other - they are unhappy because of gluttonous way of life.

10:22 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Thanks for latest info. Generally, the US doesn't do very well on world happiness polls, I've noticed. When I look out at the American landscape, I see 315 million doughnuts: people with their head up their asses, rolling around, a bottle of Prozac in one hand and a cell phone in the other. And yelling, into the darkness, "We're No. 1!"

Conclusion: it's hard to be happy when you have your head completely wedged up your rectum.

Yes, you may quote me.


10:26 AM  
Blogger LJansen said...

Tour title: Brother Berman's Travelin' Doughnut Exposaganza Show

12:31 PM  
Anonymous Daddy Issues said...

Here's a video of American "donuts" jumping and screaming. Maher is on to something with his insight into what's wrong with America, except then he ends the video in his own TV show church. Oh, well.

12:38 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

What's Shakin' Wafers?

Road trip America book title:

A play on the Ruth Benedict classic perhaps. How about "The Rose and the Assault Rifle: Patterns of American Culture"?

12:43 PM  
Anonymous Savantesimal said...

More and more mainstream media are trying to sound the alarm, but hardly anyone seems to notice. The fog of infotainment is just impenetrable.

The Atlantic: Congress Is Quietly Abandoning the 5th Amendment

What everyone must understand is that American politics doesn't work the way you'd think it would. Most people presume that government officials would never willfully withhold penicillin from men with syphilis just to see what would happen if the disease went untreated. It seems unlikely that officers would coerce enlisted men into exposing themselves to debilitating nerve gas. Few expected that President Obama would preside over the persecution of an NSA whistle-blower, or presume the guilt of all military-aged males killed by U.S. drone strikes. But it all happened.

Really thinking about all that may make it easier to believe what I'm about to tell you.

It may seem like imprisoning an American citizen without charges or trial transgresses against the United States Constitution and basic norms of Western justice dating back to the Magna Carta.

It may seem like reiterating the right to due process contained in the 5th Amendment would be uncontroversial.

It may seem like a United States senator would be widely ridiculed for suggesting that American citizens can be imprisoned indefinitely without chargers or trial, and that if numerous U.S. senators took that position, the press would treat the issue with at least as much urgency as "the fiscal cliff" or the possibility of a new assault weapons bill or likely nominees for Cabinet posts.

It may seem like the American citizens who vocally fret about the importance of adhering to the text of the Constitution would object as loudly as anyone to the prospect of indefinite detention.

But it isn't so.


2:00 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Did Bill M. just read WAF? It sure sounds like it. What a collection of douche bags; and Oprah is merely the tip of the iceberg. Man, just look at those audiences! If there are people on this planet any more pathetic than these folks, I'd like to see it. USA! USA!


Definitely a possibility. I was also thinking of something along the lines of "The Turd and the Moron," but am not sure Americans wd catch the ref to Ruth B.


4:25 PM  
Anonymous sanctuary! said...

As America heads for rock bottom, is there anything good, cultural, uplifting at the movies?

What does the top of serious popular art - an Oscar-worthy movie - have to offer now? What is today's vision of the ideal, the high values we champion as a common civilization? Not a pie-schtupping gross-out "comedy"; I'm talking about a serious, well-regarded movie garnering raves from the top arbiters of American culture?

All the money and all the special FX and all the expertise and all the acclaim is poured into things like this, while next-to-nothing goes to even something like "Paul Goodman Changed My Life."

4:56 PM  
Anonymous Daniel said...

Hi Morris:
Check out the Cheeseburger rage - it's a laugh a minute out there


6:02 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Thank u 4 this. Sean Varone is now another hero of mine, along w/Latreasa Goodman. The nerve of those folks, putting cheese on his burger. How much abuse can a guy take? I hafta admire his restraint.


6:16 PM  
Anonymous Ghom Ghom said...

Sean Varone is now another hero of mine, along w/Latreasa Goodman. The nerve of those folks, putting cheese on his burger. How much abuse can a guy take? I hafta admire his restraint.

There should be more on the other side. Why did they make the same mistake twice - inability to read??
Or is it because they hired illegal immigrants who cannot speak or read English?? What he did was too much, but consider his side of this thing:

According to cops, Varone became irate on November 30 after he “found his sandwich had cheese on it which was not what he ordered.” After he was provided a second hamburger--which also had cheese--Varone parked his vehicle and entered the McDonald’s.

7:09 PM  
Blogger pinkpearl said...


To be fair, "Paul Goodman Changed My Life" was a talking-heads documentary, so naturally it would be cheaper than "Zero Dark Thirty". And ZDT's flaws are in the story, not the production values.

For several reasons I won't see ZDT. I did see the Paul Goodman film. As a member of Generation X, I had no idea who he was and rented the film on a whim. And I gotta say, the film didn't leave me with a good opinion of PG. I expect his influence was more about his ideas appealing to a large demographic cohort that was just entering adult life.

What I saw was a train wreck: selfish, slutty, arrogant. (Was he an alcoholic too? I can't remember.) I'm still not quite clear on what was so great about his ideas or which of them were truly original.

The film also made me think "Oh god, more Boomers puking up the 60s. GET OVER YOURSELVES."

Sorry, just a little inter-generational snark there.

7:13 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I also saw the film; it sucked. Paul comes off as a colossal shmuck. But I tell u, for those of us who came to consciousness in the 50s, reading "Growing Up Absurd" was a bit of a bombshell; it put the dead hand of the Eisenhower yrs into perspective, and spoke of creativity and imagination as an alternative life. In much of his writings, Paul pegged the problem of a society that was killing its youth, intellectually and emotionally (it's now graduated to doing it physically, of course). His was a fresh, honest, and truly critical voice; there was no category in wh/to fit him, and I admired him greatly. But I never heard him speak, I hafta say; and my former colleague at Rutgers U., Warren Susman, once told me that Paul was a very poor teacher. So, there u have it.

Speaking of destroying our youth, I was thinking today of that famous painting in the Prado (Madrid) by Goya, "Saturn Devouring His Son." Here's the link:

That is what Newtown was about; that's what we our doing to our kids now. Goya saw it nearly 200 yrs in advance: a civilization gone insane, committing suicide.


Varone suffered greatly, and joins the pantheon of McDonald's victims, such as Latreasa Goodman. My real all-time McDonald's hero, however, is Rayon McIntosh, who had had enuf of annoying customers and beat them w/a tire iron. Charges against him (felony assault) were subsequently dismissed. I'd sit down to a burger w/Rayon any day.

The US is such a fun, enjoyable society, innit?


7:52 PM  
Anonymous Zero said...

When a society preys on its own children the way this one does, it’s game over for that society:

“Probe at U.S. military day care center removes 33 workers”

On an unrelated topic, yesterday I watched two recent YouTube interviews with Zbigniew Brzezinski about China and Eastern Europe. I am not a fan of his by any measure, but I just wanted to see if his attitude changed in recent years. Let’s just say that in these interview his tone was a heck LOT more subdued and humble than it was in his 1998 book “The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy And Its Geostrategic Imperatives”. Personally, I am greatly amused watching these megalomaniacs eat crow.


8:32 PM  
Anonymous WOW said...

Dr Berman,

Read Twilight when it first came out and was so impressed with it I re-read it 2 or 3 more times and tried to read as many of the source books you mentioned in it that I could find. Ditto DAA. I'm planning on reading WAF soon.

I found your blog about 2 or 3 months ago and went all the way back to the beginning to read all your posts. Still working on the links and comments. I've always had the feeling the prevailing culture was screwed up, but never could really put my finger on why till I read your books and blog. Thanks for giving me clarity.

You're readers may be interested in this article on 8 parallels of the Fall Of Rome & USA.

7:22 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Welcome to the blog, and thank u for yr support. Hope WAF lives up to yr expectations. It also has some gd refs tucked in the ftnotes, so shd keep u busy for a while.


8:29 AM  
Anonymous Zero said...

WAFers & MB,

A happy and blessed End of the World to all of you! And by all means, don’t let this minor inconvenience interfere with your weekend plans.

8:31 AM  
Blogger pinkpearl said...


Thanks. I didn't consider that the PG film might have just been bad. I suppose it was more for an audience that already admired PG and just wanted to know more about him, and not an introduction to his work.

Considering that a big point in the film is that he is so little known now, doing a good job of introducing him would have been a better project.

Actually it was the fierce photo of him on the DVD cover that finally got me to rent the film. (As in: OK, who is this intense-looking 50s guy? HE KEEPS STARING AT ME.) Heh.

10:02 AM  
Anonymous Ubemenche said...

What this video, conversation between Rep Tim Huelskamp and people on the Morning Joe.

I will summarize the video in two sentences

1) Rep Tim Huelskamp claims there is no problem with guns in America; the problem is people, not guns – he says there must be no new gun control law, period.

2) Rep Tim Huelskamp claims there is no problem with tax revenues; the problem is spending, not taxing the wealthy – he says there must be no tax increase on anybody, period.

Talk about violence! This is the kind of violent language that has been polluting this country since Ronald Reagan. The violence in schools originate from Reps and Senators like this buffoon. They create the environment that creates the crazies and shootings. I bet he will like to have teachers and principals armed to the teeth but he won’t like to pay for police officers stationed in the schools. America needs a second civil war, period. If this is how democracy is designed to work, give me a tyrant. At least a tyrant will sympathize with the children and teachers murdered in Connecticut. Even Hitler would show some sympathy at this critical period!

11:09 AM  
Anonymous Smith said...

Berman, I'm not quite sure I agree with the "not gay" example.

If someone was accused of being gay, and he denied that he was gay, that could also mean he REALLY ISN'T gay. (Or you could be right, and it means he's denying that he's gay. The point is that either possibility could be true.)

It's dangerous going into territory where you take denials as though they were proof. That could lead to breakdowns in attempts to communicate with each other.

Other than that, though, your writing is fantastic as usual.

11:20 AM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and fellow Wafers,

Some Paul Goodman quotes for all to enjoy:

"The organization of American society is an interlocking system of semi-monopolies notoriously venal, an electorate notoriously unenlightened, misled by a mass media notoriously phony."

"Humankind is innocent, loving, and creative, you dig? It's the bureaucracies that create the evil, that make Honor and Community impossible, and it's the kids who really take it in the groin."

"Be patient, do nothing, cease striving. We find this advice disheartening and therefore unfeasible because we forget it is our own inflexible activity that is structuring reality. We think that if we do not hustle, nothing will happen and we will pine away. But the reality is probably in motion and after a while we might take part in that motion. But one can't know."

12:51 PM  
Anonymous Franks Hal said...

If these American thugs and Talibans are not terrorists, I do not know how anyone can call other people terrorists:

LAPIERRE of NRA: Because for all the noise and anger directed at us over the past week, no one, nobody has addressed the most important, pressing and immediate question we face: How do we protect our children right now, starting today, in a way that we know works?

The only way to answer that question is to face the truth. Politicians pass laws for gun free school zones, they issue press releases bragging about them. They post signs advertising them. And, in doing so, they tell every insane killer in America that schools are the safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk.

LAPIERRE: How many more copycats are waiting in the wings for their moment of fame from a national media machine that rewards them with wall-to-wall attention and a sense of identity that they crave, while provoking others to try to make their mark.

A dozen more killers, a hundred more? How can we possibly even guess how many, given our nation's refusal to create an active national database of the mentally ill? The fact is this: That wouldn't even begin to address the much larger, more lethal criminal class—killers, robbers, rapists, gang members who have spread like cancer in every community across our nation.

LAPIERRE: A child growing up in America today witnesses 16,000 murders, and 200,000 acts of violence by the time he or she reaches the ripe old age of 18. And, throughout it all, too many in the national media, their corporate owners, and their stockholders act as silent enablers, if not complicit co-conspirators. Rather than face their own moral failings, the media demonize gun owners.

The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

I call on Congress today, to act immediately to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every single school in this nation. And, to do it now to make sure that blanket safety is in place when our kids return to school in January.

1:21 PM  
Blogger Frederick Froth said...

Freddy Krueger from the Nightmare on Elm Street film series was all about cutting up the children of Amerika. Freddy was of course Ronald Reagan's shadow (or real self).

During the 1980's, while the smiley-faced toxic father occupying the White House mouthed feel-good truisms, a scar-faced, monstrous double rampaged through the popular culture, tossing off deadly witticisms as he molested and murdered children.

Wes Craven on Freddy - "Freddy is the most ruthless primal father. The adult who wants to slash down the next generation.

Robert Englund who played Freddy - "He is the nightmare in suburbia. He is the nightmare in white America, and he's reminding you that you cant escape it".

and "Child Killer? What are children? Children are the future. Freddy's killing the future. Freddy hates beauty. He hates youth. He hates the future ... It's kinda political y'know. Parents are weary. They dont want to defend the future anymore. The kids see it, and Freddy's killing the kids."

Freddy Krueger, the child molestor and murderer, is not a stranger to the middle class nuclear family, but a direct product of it. He is the alter ego, not the true opposite, of our culture's original Founding Fathers, who were slaveholders, aristocrats, Indian and buffalo killers, and "virgin land" rapers. At the same time, he is the hidden face of that cultural icon, the all-knowing and authoritative suburban dad/bomb. Krueger is Ward Cleaver (from Leave It To Beaver) unrepressed, running amok, wielding his cleaver. He is the incestuous, alcoholic, abusive, murderous father, hidden behind the placade facade of Elm Street USA. Moreove, he is the consummate nuclear father, signifying immanent apocalypse.

Freddy is something like a personalized nuclear bomb. He is a new founding father for an unremittingly apocalyptic culture, pointing to a future of random, individual violences at unprecedented rates, fissionable families, no safe sex ever, militarized starscapes, beaches spiked with toxic waste, extincted species, razed forests, global warming, and nuclear war.

Not surprisingly, the suburban parents of the Elm Street children are all nightmares in their own ways. They are alcoholic, neglectful, narcissistic, abusive, and promiscuous. They disbelieve their children's horrific experiences, feed them sleeping pills, dismiss their terror, and in various bungling ways expedite Freddy's depradations. Of course, Freddy is nothing but the monstrous mirror image of these parents, particularly the fathers. "You're all my children now" is his cry in Nightmare Part III.

Assuredly, the nuclear father is the incestuous father, the one who fucks his own children.

The above was taken from the 1993 book by Jane Caputi titled Gossips, Gorgons & Crones - The Fates of the Earth (Bear & Company). The book provides both a very witty andvery sobering analysis of nuclear-age culture as brought to one and all by the nuclear fathers.

4:57 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Pt is, it's not the actual statement, but the delivery that gives it away. My probable reaction to someone telling me he thinks I'm gay wd be: "Hey, think what u want." The tone makes the music, as my grandfather was wont to say.


5:41 PM  
Anonymous John B. said...

Mr. Berman,

I like your writing. "Why America Failed" prompted me to read "Dark Ages America." In DAA you wrote about the malaise and decay in Europe. One example was the retired Italian who took out an ad offering to pay a family to 'adopt' him.

I was curious regarding the aftermath of this incident. After some research I found the following story from the Christian Science Monitor:

He turned out to be a con man!

7:05 PM  
Anonymous From Imbecileville said...

MB: Here are more hard data that reading is a minority pursuit in the U.S. I suspect that much of the population, which has been bred on TV and other techno-media, simply doesn't have the attention-span or skills required to read and reflect on any serious work of art, theory or criticism.

"Liquor stores outnumber bookstores by three to one (the average household spent $100 annually on reading materials and $2,504 on other forms of entertainment). More Americans belong to a fantasy sports league (10.6 million) than to book clubs (5.7 million). Book club members are outnumbered by avid bird-watchers (5.8 million)."

R.I.P., America.

8:59 PM  
Blogger Franchesca Lebrón Marte said...

I just saw two news headlines:

"Sen. Barbara Boxer proposes deployig the National Guard at schools".

""NRA envisions 'a good guy with a gun' in every school".

Seriously, those are the actual headlines in Google news.

Unbelievably pathetic.

1:44 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Might as well turn our schls into armed camps, since that's the future direction of the nation, and the kids might as well get some early prep in now. The problem w/the NRA proposal is that it doesn't go far enuf. Remember that Rick Santorum got his daughter Bella a membership in the NRA for her 3rd birthday. My kinda guy. What we need is to have every child in every school and day care center across the country to be equipped with an AK-47, and to use these weapons as the situation demands. We wd see things get very quiet very quickly; wh/is, of course, what we all want.



2:02 AM  
Anonymous Frankistein said...

Franchesca and MB

Here are links to the articles:

Sen. Boxer proposes deploying National Guard at schools,0,7530900.story

N.R.A. Envisions ‘a Good Guy With a Gun’ in Every School

I tell you, I also will need some help to protect me from my own children. Remember that Adam Lanza first killed his mother before going to the school to kill the children. I will need a division of US AirForce and a division of US Marines to guard my home so as to protect me from my own children. America - the land of the free and the brave!

8:47 AM  
Blogger macduff said...

You have of course, heard of collateral damage

7:01 PM  

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