December 05, 2012

The Diamond of the Mind

“The sharp edge of a razor is difficult to pass over; thus the wise say the path to salvation is hard."—From the Katha Upanishad

And so, as we approach Comment #200 on the previous post, and thus need to start another discussion (though we can certainly keep talking about Japan and technology), I figure I should say something Important and Insightful regarding the state of the world, as we slide toward Xmas and the New Year. However, the state of the world is obvious: capitalism is coming apart, and this is the real story of the 21st century. It doesn’t matter whether one is talking about Rom Mittney’s haircut, or Kim Kardashian’s rump, or riots in Greece, or Latreasa Goodman (a hero of mine), or the latest piece of techno-crap from Apple. The hilo conductor, as we say in Spanish, the thread pulling it all together, is that the socioeconomic formation that has been with us for 500 years or so is finally coming to an end. One might argue that the spiritual emptiness of capitalism is obvious to only a few, but I’m convinced that there is a subconscious awareness of this among a good part of the American population, Black Friday Wal-Mart riots notwithstanding. Americans may be stupid, but they aren’t dead.

On one level, the country is totally adrift. Thomas Naylor recently sent me an article in which he argues that Obama won the election because he is chic, cool, not because he has a vision. Indeed, says Prof. Naylor, the guy has no vision at all. Everything with him is ad hoc; he has no idea where to lead the nation, or what that might even consist of. Far from being any sort of leader, he’s just winging it—playing at being president, as it were, and the hollowness of it all, the charade aspect of it, is hard to miss. On another level, the direction of the nation is pretty clear: downward, and absolutely nothing can alter that trajectory. No empire, in its dying phase, was able to halt or reverse the downward path it was on; and despite our belief in American ‘exceptionalism’, we will not escape our fate. In this regard, Occupy Wall Street (what’s left of it) is as clueless as Barbara Ann Nowak (bless her heart) or Herman Cain (a loveable douche bag, if there ever was one).

And yet life goes on, and it contains so much that is marvelous. December, it seems to me, is a time for taking stock, for being grateful for the previous 11 months. I was lucky: my gratitude list is pretty long right about now. In terms of change, or good fortune, I like to think in terms of events that are ‘meteoric’ vs. ones that are ‘geologic’. Meteoric includes stuff like a great (if brief) love affair with a beautiful woman half my age, or taking a cable car to the top of Mount Misen on Miyajima, and looking down, through the mist, at the Inland Sea. Geologic events are things like sitting in a café and making notes for my next book, or having a good workout at the gym, and feeling completely like a body. Viewed from a certain perspective, it’s all sacred, it seems to me.

But most people on the planet don’t get to have this. In fact, something like 3 billion people live on less than $2 a day. This is the fallout from neoliberalism (capitalism) and globalization (imperialism). “There is enough for everyone’s need,” said Gandhi, “but not enough for everyone’s greed.” I’m not sure; overpopulation seems like the greatest threat to the planet, and to the human race, that we currently face. The world population forecast for 2050 is for 9 billion people, and if the past is any guide, we’ll probably hit that figure well in advance of mid-century. More and more, things are escaping from our conscious control. In terms of structural or collective solutions, it’s not clear what is to be done, or who is in a position to do it. If you are concerned about overpopulation, ecological destruction, social inequality, genocide, economic havoc, and government by corporate plutocracy, all well and good; but dealing with any of these things at a group or political level is a murky proposition. What group will you join? What politics will you pursue? What impact can you realistically expect to have? In times such as these, what are the levers of change—beyond disintegration itself, which I personally believe is how substantive change is going to take place. Geologic (micro) changes accumulate until you get meteoric (macro) changes, as Marx was one of the first to point out—the quantity-to-quality argument—although I think Epicurus beat him to it by about 2,000 years. Or to put it another way, the way we live on a daily basis is finally going to (dis)solve the way we live on a daily basis. Individually speaking, you can live better (Gandhi) or you can live worse (Lloyd Blankfein), but the long-term effects of your behavior probably won’t be in for quite a while.

Given the fact that there is no immediate or obvious answer to the issue of meaningful collective action, let’s talk about things at the microlevel instead. In the current issue of n+1, Kristin Dombek describes an acid trip she was on during her college years, which was threatening to turn really bad. At this point, a friend put her arm around her, and “I found my way to some edge, thin as a thread, where the panic turned into laughter.” She continues:

“This is the diamond of the mind, this ability….From then on when the panic crept in I could just push over the thread-thin edge to the other side, feeling the way to joy. Joy is the knowledge that the thread is there. A thread runs through the middle of your life, and if you find it, the second half can be comedy instead….You can do this yourself, if you have found the diamond in your mind.”

I had a similar experience many years ago with magic mushrooms (psilocybin), when as the landscape began to undulate (I was on Vancouver Island) and I felt the terror rising, I made a deliberate decision to enjoy what was happening. Somehow, I found the “thread-thin edge to the other side.” The next few hours were fascinating, as a result, but this may have been more the result of luck than courage, I don’t know. (Woody Allen believes most of what happens to us is a matter of luck. He may have a point.)

All any of us can do, it seems to me, is to put one foot in front of the other, and keep walking; though it does help to have a sense of the direction you want to go in, obviously. As some wag once put it, Wisdom is essentially knowing what to do next.

On that note: Merry Christmas!

©Morris Berman, 2012

170 Comments:

Blogger Luciddreams said...

I resigned from the Matrix last January (corporate job in health care)to try to get by with permaculture. Nobody cares around here in the Upstate of SC. "Perma what?" Being that it's more than just about digging holes, capturing water, and planting the right stuff in the right places...being that culture requires other people...it's pretty dire.

So now I'm plugging back in to the Matrix. Feels kinda dumb to be going back to school at 33 for nursing, but I gotta keep a roof over my families collective head...and food in their belly. My wife and I have a two year old and she's pregnant with our second. Life happens. Permaculture isn't going to provide for my family. As much as I want to be the change, it doesn't happen in a vacuum and the world only cares about money.

It's depressing when you think about how screwed our species is. I've read so many books (including yours) contemplating the state of affairs. I finally arrived at permaculture as the answer, and now I'm going back to work. Guess I'll work in a rotten form of health care to provide for my family and play at permaculture in the midst of a society that doesn't even realize there is a problem. I've been blogging about my adventure in the American Hologram for the last two years at emtmusings.blogspot.com if any of your readers are interested. "Epiphany Now" is the name of my blog.

5:00 PM  
Anonymous MK said...

Love your comments and am rereading WAF! Thank you for your insights.

5:25 PM  
Blogger Augusto Hoyos said...

Another excellent article, Thanks.

I wish you a very good Christmas and a happy new year, 2013.

AHT, Los Alamitos, CA

5:53 PM  
Blogger LJansen said...

MB: I'd be more impressed if your love affair was with someone twice your age, but that's okay.

Anyway, since xmas is a humbug, I'll skip returning those wishes, but do send wishes to all for a warming light in the winter gloom (be it candle or coal-fired electric) and good company of animal or humankind.

12:11 AM  
Blogger One Canadian said...

Thanks for your books and your blog.

It is difficult to realize that our Western society is in the process of crumbling, but to see little choice other than to hang on for the ride. It is somewhat like watching a bullet coming towards you in slow motion, but being unable to stop it.

Nothing meteoric for me in 2012, and especially no beautiful women half my age, but that leaves something to look forward to in 2013.

12:43 AM  
Blogger PedroC. said...

Hi, Dr. B!

Good to know your Japan trip came out well.

Indeed we are living in the end times, but, as you say, there are still good and beautiful things to enjoy while we are at it.

Gotta get back to work (and finish reading Wandering God).

Saludos!

BTW: I went to Ciudad de las Ideas in Puebla this November. Its spirit is in the TED-like techno-worship and the speakers there have only 12 minutes per talk (Twitter-like), but it could be a good platform to reach a bigger audience for your books. Next year's theme is 'Ideas peligrosas'. I think it suits your work perfectly.

-PedroC.

12:53 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

LJ-

There is this woman I've got my eye on, 136 yrs old...I'll let u know how it turns out.

mb

1:46 AM  
Blogger Zosima said...

Julian:
Outstanding analysis in the last post of Chris Hedges’ absurd comparison between current US and 1989 E Europe. He likes to bring up the example of the E German police refusing to fire on demonstrators at the Berlin Wall and joining them instead. He never seems to mention that only a year ago police pepper sprayed helpless students sitting with arms locked on the own college campus, casually going from one students’ face to next like they were spraying bugs in the garden. They did this to students protesting tuition hikes, and he thinks they’re going to join the protesters when the overthrow of the gov is on the line?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x0abQTQEUNQ

1:55 AM  
Anonymous Zero said...

Zosima,

Additionally, Hedges mentions that he also covered the 1989 Romanian revolution, but he does not bring up the fact that in Romania the Securitate thugs actually did fire on the protesters. If it wasn’t for the army to side with the people, Ceausescu might still be running that country today for what I know – after all, like any good dictator, he too had the full support of the U.S. government.

By the way, I wonder how the police might have responded if the UC-Davis students it pepper sprayed were armed Tea Partiers instead. I’m guessing, it might have sprayed them with a little bit of 9 mm lead.

3:29 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

Easy folks! This is a good time to be living. Witnessing the final destruction of the small percentage of humanity that deserves to die. We are turning on some of our best. Amy and Chris! Cd we do better? Don't think so.

Forever now, we have seen the prophets come and go. Every age has many individuals that proclaim the obvious injustices and good never wins out. Sex and money do.

I, for one, am glad, for once, that these cheesy, Mr. Burns, bastards are going to suffer along with the rest of the other 6-7 billion people who have no choice but to be slaves.

We were born into our circumstances, for the most part, and have nothing to complain about.

Merry Christmas to us, I guess.

7:08 AM  
Blogger Sir Tagio said...

@Zosima,
I agree with you on Hedges' disconnect re: American police. I watch the riots in Athens on youtube every once in a while and am astonished to see that the Athens police basically play dodge ball avoiding the molotov cocktails tossed by the rioters. In America, the police would be mowing these people down with rifles, pistols and shotguns because, clearly, if someone is throwing molotov cocktails your way, you have legal authority to protect yourself with deadly force.

The alienation of the police from the rest of American "society," such as it is, is extreme, and it is not going to be easily turned around.

A few years ago on a business trip in Stockholm I was walking around at about 11 p.m. Saturday night just to see what the place was like, and I came across a small triangular plaza at an intersection where the police had parked a few vans as a kind of makeshift station. Most of the policeman there were fairly young, 20s and 30s. I was astounded to see that a bunch of young people, most of them in there 20s I would say, were just standing there chatting with the police (all of whom looked very fit and pretty dapper in their uniforms, btw). I don't know Swedish so I couldn't tell what they were talking about, but it was obvious it was a conversation and not a "can you tell me how to get to . . .?" kind of thing, and the tone was very informal and happy. It was as though the police were part of their community and everyone was happy to see one another. I work in NYC. The police here are pretty professional and most of them are actually pretty friendly if you want to strike up a conversation, but you would never see such a thing here.

9:38 AM  
Anonymous Seth said...

Zero,

Wow, I did not know that the US supported Ceaucescu, but I'm not at all surprised.

As for the Hedges rant...I don't think he believes that positive change will happen in the US anytime soon. I think that he knows it's very far off, but he wants to "sow the seeds" for such a far-off change in the present.

I think Hedges has a compulsion to try and redeem himself for his past - his jingoistic "reporting" in the 1980s and 1990s that helped lead America into war after war. Having seen what war is really like close up, and feeling very guilty for his past, he's perfectly willing to sacrifice himself to achieve redemption. Even if he believes there is no hope, he'll go down fighting for something good, no matter what happens to him. And for that, we have to admire him. It takes alot of courage to oppose an empire that will perhaps torture you mercilessly in response.

And what he's doing isn't useless. If he causes only a few dozen people to awaken to the reality of the brutal totalitarian nightmare that America has become, his struggles are well worth the result.

And besides - as he says, life is more about how it is lived than what it achieves.

2:08 PM  
Anonymous TimR said...

Speaking of expats...

GUATEMALA CITY — Software guru John McAfee, who is fighting deportation to Belize, was rushed to the hospital in Guatemala on Thursday after his lawyer said he suffered two mild heart attacks earlier in the day, Reuters witnesses said.

McAfee was carried out on a stretcher from an immigration service cottage where he was detained after crossing illegally into Guatemala from neighboring Belize. Police in Belize want to question McAfee in connection with his neighbor's murder.

The fugitive software mogul was blogging from his cell in Guatemala as he awaited deportation. He is wanted in connection to a shooting death in early November.

"I am in jail in Guatemala. Vastly superior to Belize jails. I asked for a computer and one magically appeared. The coffee is also excellent," McAfee posted on his blog Whoismcafee.com...."
------------------

That last line almost sounds like it was written by the Onion writers.

Some striking parallels with a certain other hard-partying American expat blogger I know of... But let us hope the parallels end there, I need my DAA blog fix. ^_^

http://news.msn.com/us/software-guru-mcafee-has-two-heart-attacks-lawyer-says

6:44 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Tim-

Ya think? The guy sounds like a professional moron. But then maybe I do as well. Merry Xmas.

mb

7:54 PM  
Anonymous Stone said...

I beg to differ with respect to the alleged "striking parallels" Tim sees.

Both men's being bloggers and American expatriates hardly qualifies as "striking" similarities.

McAfee comes across like a total techno-buffoon, besides being sought for murder.

Measure in one's assertions never hurt anybody.

8:33 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Pierre-

Well, sometimes I like to cultivate a 'thuggish' reputation, but I'm guessing nobody is fooled.

mb

9:36 PM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

MB,

For a more thuggish rep, your Japan book should have a more swaggering title, like maybe Yankee Yakuza ?

Subtitle something like: "He dove into the dark heart of the Rising Sun and came back with all his fingers intact...so whatchew been doin' lately, bitch ? Nothin' much ? Di'n't think so !"

Might open up a whole new genre, although you could make a case for William Vollman having laid a bit of groundwork. If nothing else, coming on like a fusion of Yukio Mishima and Tatsuya Nakadai might boost sales in Japan. Just watch out for that cult of personality thing and don't mimic Mishima's endgame.

On a more serious note, do you have any links to info about how to get covered by Mexico's public health system? I will probably move from Costa Rica to Baja California. I'm covered in CR now, and will have Medicare in about 3 years, at which point moving to Baja will be (sort of) the best of both worlds. But if there is a way to get coverage in Mexico inside of 3 years, I would probably move even sooner.

12:02 AM  
Anonymous Demonty Desm said...

"the guy has no vision at all.

he has no idea where to lead the nation

Far from being any sort of leader, he’s just winging it—playing at being president"

He sounds like the God of Christians - powerful but evil, confused, and incompetent:

An Imperfect God
http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/25/an-imperfect-god/

Discussion:
http://live.huffingtonpost.com/r/segment/god-theism-religion-/50b420102b8c2a5ff80000e0

1:23 AM  
Anonymous Zero said...

MB,

Nice work rocking the cradle. May 2013 bring you many similar conquests.

Shep,

Indeed, Amy and Chris are great people. I admire them too. Hedges reminds me of the Romanian dissidents of yesteryear, whom I greatly admired as a teenager. They were strong on principle but it was difficult on their families, plus all that torture they had to put up with. I hope Hedges has the sense to hit the road when The Man takes the gloves off.

Seth,

Ceausescu was America’s “darling” for decades. He was the original “maverick”. Nixon, Ford, Carter, and Reagan all loved him. He was always received in the US like a king. They couldn’t get enough of the SOB down in Washington. The more he tortured his people, the more they loved and cheered him on. It reveals America’s long (and ongoing) tradition of hating human life and supporting those who do the same. Of course, in Romania he was despised. He was a low class semi-illiterate psychopath that could not even speak his native tongue correctly. I remember how everybody sneered and exchanged amused glances when he delivered his rants full of conjugation errors and mispronunciations of common words. The 30 minute trial and speedy firing squad followed by history’s perpetual ridicule is just what he deserved. I just hope they also give him the postmortem Nobel Peace Prize. Here’s an article detailing his cozy relationship with America:

http://alina_stefanescu.typepad.com/romania_revealed/2009/02/ceausescu-and-the-west.html

4:50 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Julian-

Thanks. Altho she may have conquered me, I'm not quite sure.

Ty-

I don't know if you'd be eligible, but the soc security system here is IMSS: imss.gob.mx. You'll need what's called a CURP to apply. A better idea: find an ins. rep for any one of the major private companies (Inbursa, e.g.), take a physical exam, and see how it flies. Coverage is pretty good, and if you fall ill, they won't immediately reject your claim and make you fight them for 6 months to squeeze out a check for $57 or whatever. Note that you don't need to wait 3 yrs to set this up.

mb

6:20 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

Zero:

I want to thank you and all the rest on this blog for the ongoing education of myself. Most here are way above my intellectual abilities and experiences but I find it to be like a wonderland.

I am flabbergasted at ur post re: Ceausescu.

The Reagan connection was fascinating and I also read a birthday greeting to him by Nixon (an announcement by Richard that Ceausescu had finally attained the status of a great world leader as he) and details about a deal brokered by John Mitchell and John Brennon between Iraq and Romanian for military uniforms and the millions in commissions .

I thought I knew a little of the depravity of our Presidents and their court jesters but the information concerning Nixon's gang and their dealings around the world is one of complete fantasy. I can't express how sick I find these people.

8:32 AM  
Anonymous Ruben James said...

shep, you wrote this: "I thought I knew a little of the depravity of our Presidents and their court jesters".

Why do you think the US is going down fast? It is because some people have mastered the art of hypocrisy and wickedness, and they are now applying the same at home in USA. One eventually becomes at home what one practices abroad. When they run out of people to fool abroad, they have to practice their art inside their homes. Karma is real, and only a fool thinks otherwise.

10:43 AM  
Blogger Biel Moll said...

An admiration letter from Mallorca (Spain) plus some questions

Dear Morris,

My name is Biel and I am writing you from the Mediterranean island of Mallorca, Spain.
I read your trilogy The Reenchantment of the World, Coming to Our Senses and Wondering God with enthusiasm and joy, I found them simply fantastic. I admire your ability to analyze and detect the issues that really matter. Since I discovered your books I’ve wanted to get in touch with you to ask about some of the issues you talk about, issues that have to do with my profession.
After getting my Degree in Philosophy I entered the world of psychotherapy, studied Gestalt, corporal therapy and expressive movement therapy. In your books you deal with a range of concepts that have raised in me many questions about the true meaning of my profession. You may not have time or energy to answer my questions after your trip to Japan, if that would be the case, I'd appreciate very much if you could at least refer me to other sources of information where I can try to find answers to my concerns. Otherwise, I would love to have your personal opinion. The issues I ‘m interested in are the following:
-In Coming to Our Senses you mention that the energy triggered through the heterodox movements ends up being assimilated by the system. How do you think this works in the human potential therapeutic movement?
-In reference to the movement used in therapy as well as in the human potential, what would you say its limmits are? Which are its false promises?
-I would also like to know your opinion on the human potential movement: do you find it valuable enough? Which parts are most interesting and which ones aren’t?

Let me thank you in advance for taking the time to read this letter and I hope to hear from you.
Best regards and good christmas
Biel Moll
bielmoll@yahoo.es

11:55 AM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and fellow Wafers,

A delightfully insightful post Dr. Berman. Indeed, I see it as a comprehensive reminder, despite the outrage and the extreme situation of the world, of the importance of taking pleasure in life's little details, the beauty of the truth, the amusement and irony, the grandeur of it all, and the emotional surprise and splendor of an affaire de coeur. This is the *real* magic for sure!

While, as you indicate Dr. B, ever more things are "escaping from our conscious control" and the very real sense of being adrift becomes more and more obvious, this blog and your work, at the very least, is a genuine oasis of clear thinking and sanity. And even when sanity is not enough, it's never enough, it has humor.

So, best wishes and Happy Holidays to you and all Wafers. May 2013 bring joy, graciousness, and peace.

Jeff Tidwell

12:44 PM  
Anonymous TimR said...

Just to clarify, my "striking parallels" comment was a joke --- obviously the parallels are superficial, and Prof. Berman is pretty much the opposite of McAfee, at least from what little I know of the latter from news reports. I thought the emoticon after my comment would help to imply it was all in jest, but apparently humor is not my metier.

1:36 PM  
Anonymous Mark Notzon said...

Dear MB et al

Fine post. Janus is the god with two faces who isn't a liar, and does not suffer from CRE.
--
'However, the state of the world is obvious: capitalism is coming apart, and this is the real story of the 21st century.'

I came across this poem by Susan Richardson at the Dark Mountain website. (The "phoruscidiae" are a family of predatory birds, exctinct versions of which were, from their anatomy, rapacious,)

Phoruscidiae

by Susan Richardson

This is not a guillemot
bobbing in the froth of our dreams
or a mallard dabbling in shallow water
for our shoots and seeds.
This is not a jay storing our acorn-mistakes
for future gorging, or a great grey owl braced
for the twitch
of lemming beneath our snow.
No. And this isn’t a fossil:
scientists who hypothesise -
flightless…exceeded two metres in height -
should unfledge their computer models and edge
into the light where a beak slashes open
the belly of sleep, rips
the flesh from our skittish pledges,
crushes smug bones and scythes
the scrub as it hunts
our mammal logic.
Futile to assume we can outpace it.
Useless to play dead.
Too late to plead now it copulates
with greed, exchanges
gifts of shifted blame
and squats on top of our world, coercing
it to crack.


--M. Notzon

2:10 PM  
Blogger NearFar said...


You know, when I was a little kid, one of my favorite shows was "All in The Family". Wasn’t that Archie Bunker a hoot? Man, he was kind of “out there” in his arguments, his ignorance and his hilarious malapropism slips.
And yes in the arguments, I usually took the side of “Meathead”.
I was thinking of Archie Bunker two nights ago when I heard Bill O'Reilly confronting Bob Costas (who was his guest on the O’Reilly Factor just two nights ago following the firestorm of controversy that Costas “caused” over his [supposed] “pro Gun Control" position & "America’s Gun Culture" remarks during a Half-Time NFL game this past Sunday).
Remember that episode of "All in the Family" where Archie Bunker does a TV editorial about how to prevent Sky-jackings?: "Arm all the Passengers...pass the guns out to the passengers at the beginning of the flight and collect them at the end: NO MORE SKY-JACKINGS. Case Closed" (shot pans to "Meathead" looking disgusted, shaking his head in astonished & "entitled liberal" disbelief ).

Guess what Wafers? If you take Bill O’Reilly’s side in the “2nd Amendment” argument, then Archie Bunker doesn’t have a punch line anymore in that episode. Yes, if we think that much of mainstream America doesn’t agree with Archie Bunker on Gun Control and “right-to-carry” laws, then WE are the Meatheads.

Here’s Bill O’Reilly’s question to Bob Costas, asking what he (Bob Costas) would do if he found himself in that theater during that shooting in Aurora Colorado a few months at the Batman movie…

For the sake of space, I’ve cut out lots of “good stuff”

***
O'REILLY: But here is where you made your mistake. Are you ready for your mistake, Costas?
COSTAS: Yes, I'd like to hear it.
O'REILLY: All right, you're going to.
O'REILLY: I'll tell you what I mean. You and I are in a theater --
COSTAS: Yes.
O'REILLY: Ok, in Colorado.
COSTAS: Yes.
O'REILLY: We're watching the Batman movie.
COSTAS: Yes.
O'REILLY: The nut comes in through the back door --
COSTAS: Yes.
O'REILLY: -- with his guns and he opens fire.
COSTAS: And his body armor.
O'REILLY: His body armor, whatever else he had and he opens fire.
So you and I are looking now -- and where --
(CROSSTALK)
COSTAS: And this gun that can fire off hundreds of rounds --
O'REILLY: Right. And we're saying to ourselves, gee, I really don't want to get killed here. And you're seeing other people go down.
Answer my question now. It's a very simple -- as you know, I'm a simple man. Would you rather have the choice of ducking down on the floor or having a handgun on you to pull out and defend yourself against the man?
COSTAS: The hypothetical that you present --
(jump forward another minute)
O'REILLY: But you're evading --
COSTAS: -- for popcorn --
(CROSSTALK)
O'REILLY: -- you're evading my question and going --
COSTAS: -- and -- and that dispute would escalate because somebody has a gun.
O'REILLY: You're evading my question. Bob Costas and O'Reilly are in the theater.
COSTAS: Yes.
O'REILLY: Do you want to hit the floor and hope you don't get shot or do you want to have a gun on that you could protect yourself with?
COSTAS: All right, fine.
O'REILLY: Ok. I want to be able to protect myself against that loon with a gun --
(CROSSTALK)
COSTAS: And --
O'REILLY: -- rather than being on the floor.

REFERENCES:
(1) Bob Costas explains 'gun culture' comments| December 05, 2012 | O'Reilly Factor | Bill O'Reilly | Special Guests: Bob Costas
http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/oreilly/2012/12/06/bob-costas-explains-gun-culture-comments?page=1

(2) Archie Bunker on Gun Control:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLjNJI54GMM

3:02 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

NearFar-

I ran it this time, but you'll hafta be much more concise (by abt 50%) in the future. Thanks.

Tim-

It's OK; I like to think of myself as a thug.

Biel-

Thanks for wrtg, and I'm glad my work was helpful 2u. As for yr questions, they wd require a lotta time to answer, and I fear I don't have it. Lo siento!

mb

6:16 PM  
Anonymous Zero said...

MB,

In my opinion, thinking of oneself as a thug is a very healthy way of coping with America. Not only that, but I think hustling is a very potent psychotropic drug.

To illustrate, I noticed that every time I return to the land of the hustlers, I experience an amazing mental switch from that of a regular guy to a regular thug. I can’t help myself – it’s a natural process. When I am here I become more assertive, more hustling, critical, suspicious, and distrustful. I always look for a quick hustle or for a way to take advantage of the system, and when I do I get a feeling of great pride and accomplishment. Whether it’s that eight free refill at a corporate coffee shop, or returning some useless item at Target or Walmart on the last day a return is allowed, I always hunt for freeloading opportunities, and I get a euphoric sense of triumph every time I mooch on something. It's like a drug. It is ME versus THEM. But I only do that while in America. If I behaved like this in Europe I would be looked upon like some kind of lowlife.

So I too am a thug and I'm damn proud of it.

6:03 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Julian-

That's gd thuggery. Just remember that life is abt conquering other people, and you'll be fine.

mb

9:00 AM  
Blogger John Baruntse said...

Europal

I wish I could agree with MB about the coming fall of capitalism - many have predicted that for a while. It is a dynamic and flexible system and of course is utterly amoral. I fear that the price of the current crisis will be paid by the ordinary person. As always. And the next time too.

We have such short memories. We hear the drum beats of war again in a near identical rerun of the lies to justify the Iraq war crimes. "Syria's Assad has chemical weapons,"- no sources given, "humanitarian need" etc etc. And my country,the UK, the first to ever use chem weapons in the Middle East is taking its usual humiliating position (the Lewinsky option) to the US. Again. We are sleepwalking to disaster. Again. The same crap for Iran and it's alleged nuclear programme - this from the most aggressive and heavily armed country in the world!Again.

I cant share the anti technology views either (I'm not trying to be difficult, honest!), it's just that tech has given us so much. Most of us would not be alive and communicating but for tech. Yes I know we have murdered many with tech. We have to control it, just as we have to control govt and capital and so on. A lot of powerful stuff to control and I dont know how to do it. I used to believe it was through socialism and I still believe that it's socialism or barbarism, but that dream has been tainted. Badly.

I notice a fatalistic theme to many of the responses here, mine included. That's a worry.

May I suggest to all but especially the US folks here, that if you're a TV watcher, then (flawed as they are) then tune into Al Jazeera, RT, France 24 for another view of the world; The US media is among the most compliant/complicit in 'The West', and you might like these channels. Europe too has a compliant press but as this is mostly a US website......

11:48 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

John-

Well, Francis Fukuyama decided ca. 1991 that democratic capitalism ws the 'end of history' (no more calls, folks, we've got a winner); that now looks kinda silly, in retrospect. (Actually, a large # of intelligent people thought it was silly in 1991.) Fact is, nothing lasts, and certainly no particular socioeconomic formation. Not the Roman Empire, not feudal Europe, and not capitalism, for which the bell now tolls. (You cd probably benefit from rdg the World Systems Analysis lit.) Both ecologically and from w/in the system, the signs of inevitable demise are there. The historical record is that nothing is forever.

As for technology, most of it in the 20C has been damaging. The car was a regressive step for the human race, along with television and the cell phone. And I'd much rather be talking 2u face to face than via a screen. I doubt it's an accident that the 20C is the century of genocide par excellence. Yes, modern tech has many benefits, but an extremely large down side as well. It has taken an especially heavy toll in terms of meaning and the life of the spirit. We tend to not wanna talk abt the costs of 'progress', when that is a very much needed, and crucial, discussion. (More refs: Albert Borgmann; also "Why America Failed," ch. 3)

As for fatalism: I don't see it as fatalistic to observe certain obvious downhill trends; which says very little abt the very long run, of course. But no one on this blog claims to have a crystal ball, or thinks the future is set in stone. We aren't trying to predict two centuries ahead, in other words. That capitalism is on its last legs, however, strikes me as being obvious, not fatalistic. And we have talked a lot on this blog about decentralization, sustainability, alternate forms of energy and economy, and so on (you come to this discussion kind of late, amigo). The really interesting questions now involve what the sources of creativity and social transformation might consist of.

mb

1:42 PM  
Blogger PedroC. said...

Dr. B,

Have you read 'Sex at Dawn'? It's about sex in the early days of humanity. Basically the thesis boils to: we behaved like bonobos; females had multiple sex encounters with many males and did not form couples. In your studies for WG did you find any support to this? Or is just feminist propaganda?

I'm curious about the repercussions of such a 'family' (or tribal) structure on the psyche of a child (no father and multiple mother figures). The book blames agriculture for the abandonment of that social arrangement and the institution of the nuclear family.

-PedroC.

PS: If you're interested in repeating your amorous experience ;) you should do what many Mexican writers do: give talks at universities to Spanish-lit majors. 90% are female. Most of them are bat-shit crazy (and terrible writers), but none give up the chance to 'have an experience' with a published author.

2:15 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Pedro-

I haven't read it, but it does sound like feminist propaganda, as u suggest, or perhaps the unconscious desires of the author. However, the crucial pt, as always, is the evidence: what are her ftnotes like? Usually, this stuff is a projection of present issues onto the past, and the notes don't support the argument. The worst in this genre was Riane Eisler's "Chalice and the Blade," based on the faulty anthropology of Marija Gimbutas. I pretty much dismantle the latter in "Wandering God." Of course, anything written about the Paleolithic is going to be guesswork, but some guesses are better than others.

As far as sex at Mexican universities go: thanx for the tip, but I'd rather be surprised than go hunting, so to speak. That's why I wrote (above) that she may have conquered me. Remember Norwegian Wood?

mb

3:22 PM  
Blogger pinkpearl said...

So I witnessed some humanity last night. Maybe these were potential NMIs. This happened in Toronto, so not technically the USA but not far off, either.

A (probably homeless) drunk man had fallen on the sidewalk and hit his face hard. Blood streamed out of the wound and he just lay there, not unconscious but pretty out of it.

Three different people whipped out their cell phones to call for an ambulance. At least NINE people waited until the ambulance arrived. One young woman held an umbrella over his face to keep off the rain. A few others kept watch for the ambulance so as to wave it down (this all happened on an obscure side street).

Essentially every person that happened by seem to feel that they couldn't leave until they were sure this guy was taken care of, even if others were waiting with him. Of the nine people, probably 7 were under 30. It was good to see this.


@PedroC, that whole "Sex at Dawn" thing sounds like a male fantasy to me, that it's somehow more natural for women to have multiple partners (thereby making it much easier for men to have sex with them - how convenient!). Anyway, it's not like anyone really knows what sex was like back then.

6:40 PM  
Anonymous Xiale said...

MB,

Not sure if you've seen William Hogeland's book, Founding Finance: How Debt, Speculation, Foreclosures, Protests, and Crackdowns Made Us a Nation. In any event, it appears to reinforce some of the ideas regarding hustling from our inception as a nation. Below I've posted a link to an interview with the author for anyone thats interested.

http://www.bostonreview.net/BR37.6/william_hogeland_founding_finance_fathers_constitution_democracy.php

7:05 PM  
Anonymous Susan W. said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

The subject matter of the current post is something I've been thinking about for a while and agree with. I'm not a bible thumper but the advice "this the day the Lord hath made, rejoice and be glad" seems close to what you're saying.

John--I was recently in England and the news reporting was so much more professional than in the US that it doesn't even look like the same type of program. I watch NBC news strictly for the entertainment value and a superficial overview of what's happening (that's considered important by the editor's standards). I don't feel as much as a fatalist as I do a realist. There are many people working to avert climate change with next to no impact. An article from the climate talks in Doha:

"The US is refusing to budge, and other counries are hiding behind its inaction, said Samatha Smith of the World Wide Fund for Nature.
Climate activists are deeply frustrated. This is the 18th Doha summit, and no progress has been made on a single decisive question."

So that leads us to the next article, an interview with Dennis Meadows who wrote The Limits to Growth 40 yrs ago:

"Meadows: The fact that the collapse hasn't occurred so far doesn't mean it won't take place in the future. There is no doubt that the world is changing, and we will have to go along with it. There are two ways to do that: One is, you see the necessity of change ahead of time and you make the change, and the second is that you don't and are finally forced to do it anyway. Let's say that you're driving a car inside a factory building. There are two ways to stop: Either you put on the brakes or you keep going and hit the wall. But stop you will, because the building is finite. And the same holds true for Earth's resources."

Both articles are on Der Speigel online. http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/limits-to-growth-author-dennis-meadows-says-that-crisis-is-approaching-a-871570.html

Pedro--the only thing I know for certain about sex eons ago is that it was apparently a big hit and there are now 7 billion of us to prove it.

9:04 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Note to escapefromwisconsin:

I just posted a note on yr blog, abt contacting me (mauricio@morrisberman.com). Thanks for the 7-part article you posted here some time ago. Wd love to compare notes. Hope u.r. reading this, or my note.

mb

10:19 PM  
Anonymous Katherine said...

Pedro mentioned "Sex at Dawn" (when males have the most energy?).
Someone else said: Sounds like a male wet dream.
Morris Berman said:
Sounds like feminist propaganda.
Hmmmm

One of the most interesting writers on the sex-at-dawn or dawn-of-sex general subject is Leonard Shlain, a prominent laparoscopic surgeon who was prompted to research the development of sex and society as a result of his observations on the anomalous features of the female reproductive physiology when compared to those of all other apes and mammals. His work is speculative but he has a ton of documentation---in fact, like MB, Shlain is a great synthesizer. Shlain's books: Art and Physics; The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image; and Sex, Time, and Power. I have read the latter two and found both utterly fascinating.

Check out his bio on Wikipedia. He is not a crank.

His daughter, Tiffany Shlain, a filmmaker, produced a documentary on her father called "Love, Death, and Technology." Kinda pregnant title.

11:13 PM  
Anonymous Joe doesn't know said...

Or should I say, she once had me?

first Beatles song I ever heard, courtesy of mi madre.

Great post, Dr. B. Just wanted to check in and say hello.

Julian - I spend most of my time here (sad and unfortunate, but exit strategy is slowly in the works) - but I know exactly what you mean, for when I spend time abroad (albeit limited) with my inlaws, I notice to "thuggery" armor that I have to wear in the states slowly start to dissolve, and it's amazing how I feel when it's gone. the first time I left, I wept when I realized what my life was like here; how I always had to have my guard up lest I get pummeled by everyone from the barista to the car wash guy. It's so hard to be a lotus in the cesspool.

11:19 PM  
Blogger Reader said...

To pinkpearl,

Thank you for your response to pedroC. as I was put off by his/her comment as well and, frankly, surprised that MB didn't pick it up as totally sexist; a male fantasy, not a female fantasy.

11:28 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Katherine-

My own experience of Shlain, a long time ago, left me w/the feeling that he was doing very trendy, and very sloppy, scholarship--like Riane Eisler. I think I was supposed to comment on a lecture he was going to give based on "Alphabet vs. Goddess," and then (this is really vague in my mind, because it's more than 20 yrs ago, and my brain is gradually turning into shit) I was happily off the hook because he had a cold or something and cdn't come. The paper he submitted was simply awful: largely unsubtantiated slogans, but ones that the Eisler crowd wd love. Then I read the reviews of his work, and the anthro community hacked it to pieces. The problem w/"a ton of documentation" is that the quality of the doc, rather than the wt., might be what we hafta look at. When I think of all the damage the New Age did to the thinking process, I weep large tears. Maybe the real question is this: Can Joseph Campbell be stopped?

mb

11:38 PM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

B(erm)anzai-san,

I read the Japan series on escapefromwisconsin's blog soon after the link was posted here.

Reading about economics usually makes me wish for things that make more sense to me, like Firesign Theater or Marx Brothers routines.

But I just re-scanned the section on deflation and had a question...I see current news reports of US companies sitting on piles of cash and recall hearing that when the TBTF banks got bailed out with hundreds of millions of USD they did not loan much of it out.
During the run-up to the election I heard lots of talking heads saying that businesses were reluctant to invest in new tech or new production capacity or to hire new people because of "uncertainty" about the future. A frequent implication was that businesses thought a Democratic victory would lead to more taxes and restrictive regulations.

What do you think of the idea that at least part of the rationale for sitting on lots of cash is that, even though prices of food and other essentials may be rising, businesses are anticipating that overall deflation will come soon, either in the US itself or in countries where the businesses have to spend money on resources and/or labor ?

Seems like maybe they are waiting for the international equivalent of the sales where stores liquidate their holiday gear (ornaments & gift wrap, etc.) in January at huge (50-90%) discounts.

11:48 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Reader-

Well, it cd be both (or either), depending on what turns yr crank.

Ty-

I honestly don't know, as I hafta struggle w/economics discussions, so will need to go over it again more carefully. But I was impressed by that very long essay, that was in line w/that Kunstler remark we've talked about (the hand-crafted society), and the post on Callenbach (a wabi-sabi future). And also how the author meshed it w/Daly and the Limits to Growth discussion, and even the issue of the psychological poverty of the permanent growth/hustling life, which is collapsing all around us. I had a similar reaction to Michael Zielenziger's bk (Shutting Out the Sun), which is able to look at Japan only thru an American capitalist growth-model, and thus find it wanting; when scaling back may be exactly what an intelligent life requires.

mb

12:32 AM  
Blogger pinkpearl said...

@ Reader - No worries

@infanttyrone - Check out rdwolff.com, the website of an American economist. He has made remarks that essentially confirm your idea - corporations are hoarding cash rather than investing because conditions - in particular labour costs - are not to their liking just yet. Also, those folks just really, really like having all the money to themselves.

1:40 AM  
Anonymous Hal Mark said...

This thing keeps happening with married white women. Does anybody has a theory as to why?

Anna R. Welsh, a married mother of three small children, was arrested Wednesday on sex crime charges, according to Oregon police.

The 31-year-old Nehalem, Ore., woman allegedly engaged in sex abuse involving three 15- and 16-year-old boys

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/07/anna-welsh-oregon-mother-sex-crime-minors_n_2258045.html

4:47 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Anon-

Sorry, I don't post Anons. Pls pick a handle and re-send. I suggest Rufus T. Firefly.

mb

10:27 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

Thank God the humor keeps coming. Surely we will not make it 'till 2016.

"But history will no doubt record that withering Republicans were finally wiped from the earth in 2016 when the relentless (and rested) Conquistadora Hillary marched in, General Bill on a horse behind her, and finished them off." - Maureen Dowd

11:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks re anons. I DID name myself Europal. The thingy allows 'anonymous' so I did that along with Europal.

I cant resend -it's lost, so let it go...

11:16 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Ay, Europal! Sorry! I guess I musta missed that. Please, try to reconstruct it, give it another shot.

mb

11:22 AM  
Blogger CJ said...

Hi Dr. Berman,

Another great thought-inspiring post, yes, the concept of gratitude is an important one, and thanks for sharing some of yours. Your last couple of posts inspired me to re-watch the movie Departures (Okuribito), another one of my favorite Japanese films. It has had me thinking about compassion and wisdom as human beings and needed transformation.

Question: The consolidation of the media has always concerned me, in terms of limiting what we see and hear as citizens, as without rational conversation and critical thinking, even potential NMI's might not break through to see clearly. How important is this media topic to you? Bill Moyers did a nice job with the interviews on this show I thought:
http://billmoyers.com/episode/full-show-big-media’s-power-play/

Best wishes for Happy Holidays to you, with hopes for a New Year of awakenings for all!

12:00 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Finally, farewell to 2012. Romney and Obama spent together 2 billion dollars and not once was the word poverty mentioned even though either 1/2 the country is already in poverty or close to falling into it. Ditto for gun control. One debate took place in Colorado, the state with the Aurora and Columbine attacks but of course the presidential commission that ran the debates was told not to bring up the issue-democracy at its finest. Also, global warming wasn't mentioned though the earth's temperature is slated to rise 7 degrees F.by the end of the century (it took from the end of the Ice Age to now to rise 7 degrees F ). Finally, there was no mention of the loss of civil liberties (NDAA, renditions, torture, etc.), Wall Street corruption,and foreign policy except which candidate can bend down faster to kiss
Netanyahu's ass. It all came down to style in other words and on that Obama was sure to win given Romney's near lack of it. So a hearty welcome to 2013 and get ready for the Grand Betrayal- the rich will have to pay a measly 2% more in taxes while the social safety will be all but eviscerated. As the great Alexander Cockburn wrote after Obama's election in 2008, Obama was selected "to complete the inferno."

5:26 PM  
Anonymous shep said...

SAYONARA!

5:30 PM  
Blogger PedroC. said...

Re: 'Sex at Dawn'

Thanks, Dr. B. I researched the sources and it appears the authors of that book made several mistakes when building up their thesis. The book is a best-seller, so it will misinform many into thinking that their statements are truly the latest in academic anthropology. It prompted one researcher (Lynn Saxon) to write a book ('Sex at Dusk') refuting the claims in a chapter-by-chapter basis.

I found out about 'Sex at Dawn' when I was telling an acquaintance of mine (hardcore feminist) about 'Wandering God'. She said that 'the latest findings' show that humans were bonobo-like in their early history and told me about the book as if it had academic merit. Apparently, she and her group (Spanish-lit majors in their thirties) are using 'Sex at Dawn' as some warped way of 'scientifically' justifying their lifestyle (some critics argue that the authors wrote it for that same reason). So it is a female fantasy, proven at least in a very small subset of self-defined feminists, college educated, northern Mexico living, middle class women. The male fantasy equivalent would be the 'harem' thesis of early sexuality, where a strong male would have several women to mate with. But, anyhow, how sad if you need science to backup your sexual fantasies...

Re: 'Norwegian Wood'

! Those are the best/worst experiences. Hope you weren't as mean as Lennon and did not burn her apartment after ;)
'So, I lit a fire, isn't it good? Norwegian wood.' (The delivery of the line doesn't make me think of Lennon pensively kindling the fireplace.)

Saludos,

-PedroC.

6:39 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dear Chuck,

Gd to hear from u, and I trust all is well in San Diego. As far as the media go, Americans tend not to be curious about what's outside the glass sphere in wh/they live, as far as I can make out, so I'm not sure how much the issue matters. Those who really want to break out of the mass hypnosis will do so anyway, whether it's by rdg the Guardian online or Al Jazeera. (Cf.: only 12% of Americans ever go abroad, if you exclude occasional holidays in Mexico and Canada.) It's kind of a catch-22, really: if you haven't been brainwashed, yr motivated to find alternative info sources, and if you have, none of that matters anyway.

Yrs ago, when I lived in the US, I wd occasionally be asked to address a univesity class in sociology or whatever, and wd often address this topic of media and information flow. I wd typically start by asking a class of 50, say, how many had heard of Noam Chomsky. At most 2 students wd raise their hands. Then I wrote the name on the board, suggested they go home after class and google it. I never got any feedback, of course, but I can't imagine more than 1 or 2 actually did that. Americans simply aren't a curious lot, and certainly not about things that might jar their worldview. That's my take on it, anyway; thanks for asking.

Happy New Year, amigo!

Dan-

Grover Norquist said that Obama won because he succeeded in getting the majority of Americans to think that Mittney was (direct quote) "a poopy-head." Politics is getting so sophisticated, really; altho I do believe that Mittney *was* a poopy-head.

Pedro-

No, no fires. She just wanted to meet and exchange stuff (I had a bottle of her shampoo), then ran off. What can ya say? As for Sex at High Noon: the contemporary collapse of the mind has led to the phenomenon of people thinking an argument must be correct if they like it.

Shep-

u going anywhere? we'll miss ya!

mb

7:17 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

Shep’s mention of 2016 got me thinking.

I know most of us have been pretty despondent since Mittney’s disappointing loss. It’s even caused a question to come into my mind, an ominous question, almost too frightening to contemplate--what if the steady rise of stupidity has come to an end--and the US has reached some kind of peak stupidity? No one is predicting a stupidity collapse, but even a stupidity plateau, especially in the political realm cannot be brushed aside, after what happened to Mittney. I don’t want to be an alarmist, but I wonder what this all means for the chances of a restoration of kind of truly insane G W Bush type President that we need to cause the devastating apocalyptic collapse we all hope for. I just wanted you to know that you are not alone, that there are others thinking about this possible crisis, and that the truth is out there. I know that as we have with all the other vital issues, WAFers will Shirley lead the nation on this one too.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
& F.Y. Bill O'Reilly!

7:38 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Z-

I'm guessing it'll be Hilary in 2016. But who can defeat her? Certainly not Sarah P., or Barbara Ann Nowak. Wafers need to start coming up w/GOP candidates, *now*!

mb

7:59 PM  
Anonymous sanctuary! said...

Trouble in Hustlerville (as always)
http://tinyurl.com/boa9r48

Remember, the world depicted in this editorial is supposed to represent the top, the Mt. Olympus, of current (and, really, past) American aspiration and energy. Does it feel like a world any human being would want to have something to do with? Contrast it with the world of the craft tradition.

The very last paragraph of the story reads like a WAFer commandeered the keyboard for a split-second.

9:46 PM  
Anonymous TimR said...

A "lively and provocative" talk as Yves Smith calls it:

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2012/12/former-president-of-the-central-bank-of-belgium-on-why-the-money-system-is-a-taboo-topic.html

This is pt. 3, if you watch the whole thing he also has some interesting views on history and anthropology. He seems a little flustered in the q&a afterwards, as the audience is resistant to his ideas.

9:55 PM  
Anonymous Katherine said...

Reader: Agree w. you re knee-jerk responses to Sex at Dawn. This book may be substandard tripe, but the idea that early matriarchies were replaced by patriarchies has a pretty respectable pedigree.
Dr. Berman said, re Leonard Shlain:

The paper he submitted was simply awful: largely unsubtantiated slogans, but ones that the Eisler crowd wd love. Then I read the reviews of his work, and the anthro community hacked it to pieces.

I don't know anything about Riane Eisler, so tarring Shlain with the Eisler brush means nothing to me and sounds like a dicey syllogism. Career anthropologists have hacked apart or buried the work of many of their colleagues (such as, say, Marvin Harris). Being a card-carrying anthop. or card-carrying anything doesn't protect against believing the ideas one likes.

Curious as to how the mainstream anthrops explained the central question that Shlain raised. But I guess this is not the place to seek or find enlightenment on that topic!






9:59 PM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

@pinkpearl
Thanks for the link to Prof. Wolff's website.
Just listened to one clip with him & Thom Hartmann and was able to understand what they were talking about.
Reminded me of Richard Feynman's idea that until you can explain something in simple terms you don't really understand it very well.

MB,
Re your question of who can beat Hilary, my early bet is that the GOP will ride Santorum unless something scandalous derails him. He was the late surger in their debate circus and doesn't have the sex baggage of Cain and Gingrich, the doofus and racial baggage of Perry, or the batshit in her own right plus married to a 'pray away the gay' husband baggage of Bachmann. Sure, they might find an innocuous governor, but the configuration of their active base will require someone who has more sizzle than mere competence, and Santorum's recent hoopla about the UN somehow turning into an international and omnipotent Child Protective Services agency that wants to takes good Christian special-needs kids away from their parents was his way of planting an early flag.
I know Ryan will have his supporters, but unless he develops some seriously gonzo memes for himself, then he's just a super-wonk. As such he would be swatted off a debate stage like an unruly kitten by Hilary's mama-cat wonkishness. Plus, as we saw in 2008, she can turn on the waterworks when needed.

No, it's Hilary's to lose if she wants to play.
Like Obama has been, she will be the one that the big-money interests want.
Santorum will need video footage of Hilary performing a satanic ritual on Santorum's daughter (preferably at the grave site of Vince Foster) to have a ghost of a chance.
But be of good cheer...she may get some good cred for her upcoming role in demolition of Syria, and I'll bet you $20 that They will delay the attack on Iran until just after her inauguration.

Time to scrap the 5-volume set on the Principles of Mittnism and get to work on your collection of Hilarious Haikus.

What rough beast slouches
Her drones aimed at Damascus
With eyes on Tehran

10:18 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Katherine-

Depends on how u define enlightenment. The 'early matriarchy' argument has no pedigree at all; such a thing never existed. Check out "Wandering God," esp. the anthropologists I cite who critique Gimbutas: the whole edifice is full of holes. As for Shlain: hard to compare him w/Harris, since he's still left standing after the critiques. What critics found problematic w/Shlain was the unfortunate combo of a simplistic, reductionistic argument + a lack of evidence-- truly sloppy scholarship (check out Tim Callahan's review of 1999, and you'll see what I mean). A thesis can make u feel warm and fuzzy, and still be wrong. Not much enlightenment there, sad to say.

mb

1:53 AM  
Anonymous Ivy Mike said...

"...to lead the nation...meaningful collective action..."

Leftists can never quite ween themselves from yearning to control their fellow human beings.

"[T]he leftist is motivated less by distress at society’s ills than by the need to satisfy his drive for power by imposing his solutions on society."

~the convicted environmentalist
The danger of Leftism
http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/fc-industrial-society-and-its-future#toc31

8:34 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Mike-

Yeah, I guess the only ones who are worse in this regard are Rightists. Ultimately, Left vs. Rt are tired old categories; they have more in common than apart. In any case, it doesn't sound like you've read any of my work, but then I know yr a busy guy.

Here's what turns out to be (it's not his actual subject) a pretty gd description of US foreign policy, and it doesn't matter whether Dems or GOP are directing it:

"The fear of being killed turns us into killers. The fear of a totally vacant universe turns us into vacant mechanisms who react only under the stimulus of terror. We turn on elusive menaces with the same blind ferocity that we attribute to our obscure enemy. Our fear of destruction attributes to the lurking dangers that surround us all the cruelties with which we would like to annihilate our own aggressors. An unending cycle of fear engendering cruelty, which in turn engenders more fear, opens up as the only perspective of human existence in a universe bereft of an all-powerful principle of goodness."

(This from Fred Licht's biography of Goya. Here's a guy who's not just shooting from the hip.)

mb

10:09 AM  
Anonymous Savantesimal said...

Industrial Society and its Future is the manifesto written by Ted Kaczynski

Ivy Mike is citing The Unabomber as an authority on political psychology?

Hmm....

As far as candidates that might possibly save the Rethuglicans from the Hillapocalypse in the next election cycle, I suggest Elizabeth Dole. She ran before, but couldn't raise enough money to make a decent campaign. Maybe she would have more appeal now. But she's not a radical, and the ideological "purists" would probably resist her candidacy even if she was their only hope to stave off Hillary.

11:52 AM  
Anonymous Brian said...

Prof. Berman--

Had to share this with you, and I'm *more* than eager for any thoughts you could post (I apologize in advance if this post is too far afield from this thread's focus, and I appreciate if you wish for me to email you separately instead):

I'm currently registered to take a course in Human Development Theory (helping me to better understand passages like Licht's . . ."the fear of being killed turns us into killers"). I reviewed the syllabus and Ken Wilber's work is front and center (_A Theory of Everything_ is a required read, along with Don Beck's work on spiral dynamics).

Your take? My loose analysis on Wilber from what I've read online reminds me of the "mental theme parks" and paradigm dropping-and-replacing that you write about convincingly in your works. I'd appreciate any insights!

Best--
Brian

12:24 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dear Brian,

Find a different course. It's sad to me that people read Wilber as tho he's legitimate scholarship. If u check the ftnotes of his books, they are just his personal riffs, mostly; they don't refer to real scholarship or primary sources. But we are at a pt now that even university faculty don't know what real evidence is, so they assign Wilber, Eisler, Campbell, and so on, when these are little more than personal projections onto history and anthropology, and in which the author has his/her thesis in advance and then just vacuums up the material that 'validates' it. Again, there's a difference between feel-good, and truth. More often than not, they don't coincide.

You know, when I began work on "Wandering God," I believed (a) there was a matriarchal period that came before patriarchy; (b) hunter-gatherers were religious. You read Jung, Eliade, Campbell, et al., and that's what they say. Both of these beliefs were blown sky-high by the actual research I did (except b is true in the case of Australia), and it wasn't easy for me, because I spent 10 yrs on the bk and twice was threatened to have it blow up in my face. What I finally published was completely different than what I went in with, but this is the price of respecting genuine scholarly research and evidence. Folks like Wilber aren't worried about real evidence; the hobby horse mustn't be disturbed. He's entirely in what I label the 'ascent' tradition in "Coming to Our Senses"; he really doesn't grasp horizontality. Plus, the whole thing seems to be abt ego, abt being a guru; about being the next Freud or whatever--abt making HIs Mark in the world. Hence his face on the front cover of his History of Everything (and who writes a 'history of everything' anyway?!). What massive insecurity, and what enormous sadness that must underlie all that braggadocio. Check out Jeff Meyerhoff, "Bald Ambition," for a closer look at Wilber, in any case. Wilber is surely a sign of our (disintegrating) times.

Sav-

Plus, he misspelled 'wean'. No, our friend Mike is not the sharpest nail in the box.

mb

1:06 PM  
Anonymous Brian said...

Prof. Berman--

Many, many thanks for helping me confirm my suspicions on ol' WIlber; the cult/guru/ascent aspect all had me ill at ease . . . and your post has encouraged me to revisit and reappreciate _Wandering God_ (not that I have ever *not* appreciated it, for it remains my favorite work of yours . . . been so useful in helping me understand lots of ideas that I previously couldn't name, but just sort of "felt" intuitively).

Peace and best to you--

Brian

1:51 PM  
Anonymous TimR said...

Coincidentally in the speech I linked to above by Lietaer he talks about patriarchy and matriarchy, agreeing with MB that the latter never existed. But he says there were multi-focal (I think he used that term) societies, that supported feminine values, such as long-term thinking (e.g. cathedrals were built to last forever = sustainability) over patriarchal short-termism.

Here is an interview with him somebody linked to in the comments that is pretty good. He joked in his speech that he has learned not to describe problems without offering solutions, and thus has some ideas about introducing complementary currencies that could make the financial system more resilient (a feminine, ecological value vs. the current drive for efficiency, in his terms.) I know MB you're not for solutions, but his seem more thoughtful than most on a couple levels. 1, he recognizes capitalism and communism as basically the same thing, sharing the fundamental assumption about the pyramidal monopoly control of money. 2, his proposal may not be a complete radical reworking of world civilization, but neither is it a completely meaningless patch - if you listen to his explanation, it sounds like it might be a way of creating a more "mixed" system (masculine/feminine). And in an imperfect world, if this could be effective and something the banksters (only with their backs to the wall I'm sure) could be brought to accept, it might be a stepping stone to something else - and preferable in the meantime to the apocalyptic dystopia scenarios.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ykvRceBQRl8

2:11 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Tim-

Many thanks. BTW, I'm not opposed to solutions; I'm just opposed to unlikely ones! Ones w/a hope in hell, I tend to admire. Also: too much of this rt brain/left brain, female/male dichotomy stuff strikes me as being arbitrary. E.g., I see gothic cathedrals as far more 'male' than 'female', and I don't see long-term planning as belonging to either gender, in particular. There's far too much reductionism in these binary approaches to the world, it seems to me; tho many folks enjoy getting worked up about these schema. (Indeed, I've been to feminist symposia, or New Age ones, or Postmodern ones, that were little more than revival meetings.)

Brian-

Glad to be of help. The New Age spawned a whole raft of people who confused feelings and slogans with truth, and thought they were thinking when they weren't. It also spawned a # of 'scholars' whose work was really pseudo-scholarship, when u look at it more closely. You know, I did try reading Wilber at one pt, and the absence of any real empirical basis for his ideas left me feeling like I was eating cotton candy. But as our culture collapses, more and more people like cotton candy, actually think it's steak, and don't know what empirical evidence is anyway. Not much any of us real steak-eaters can do abt it, I don't think, beyond avoiding cotton candy ourselves.

mb

2:51 PM  
Anonymous Mark Notzon said...

Dear MB et al,


I had not come across the name Shlain or his work before reading this blog. The title of his work "The Alphabet and the Goddess," recalled the "White Goddess" (1948 ) by poet Robert Graves, in which he reconstructs arboreal schemes of alphabet favored by the Druids (one example of many), suppressed, and supplanted by the mentality of the Roman patriarchy (and Roman cement?--there go the trees!) But the similarity is only topical, and superficially so, for the texture of Graves is richer, and his distance from Shlain is one of both depth and heigh (not to mention comprehension), as is the distance between Jung and Joseph Campbell, and Freud and Calvin S. Hall.
.
I have a certain affection for popularizers, I don't think I would have studied Western philosophy in school or out if I had not come across, as a teen ager, Will Durant's "The Story of Philosophy." When I was teaching in China a few years back, I would recommend it to my students who wanted an introduction to the subject that was accurate, literate, and in clear English. However, there is a great difference between such an introduction, and the Macthink, fast- thought of flat world that is spreading, in which paradises lost can be quickly regained by imbibing and applying the latest oversimplification.

Neuroscience, by the way has become a high profile fetish, whatever merit it may actually have in the "advancement" of knowledge. A county library I visited recently had erected a three dimensional model of the brain outside its main doors--where traditionally a statue might have. That organ has become, symbolically, as significant as the Philosopher's Stone was in the days of yore.

I would have preferred a tasteful statue of a nude. But then you'd have to worry about a fig leaf. The secularity of science can be as dull as the religiosity of fundamentalists.

5:30 PM  
Anonymous Katherine said...

Mark said:
I had not come across the name Shlain or his work before reading this blog. The title of his work "The Alphabet and the Goddess," recalled the "White Goddess" (1948 ) by the poet Robert Graves, in which he reconstructs arboreal schemes of alphabet favored by the Druids (one example of many), suppressed, and supplanted by the mentality of the Roman patriarchy (and Roman cement?--there go the trees!) But the similarity is only topical, and superficially so, for the texture of Graves is richer,

Mark must be a really fast reader!
Re Callahan’s review of Shlain’s The Alphabet and the Goddess, C, like Mark, also fastened on the grotesque, offputting word “Goddess” (upchuck! But I guess “God” as in “Wandering God” is not upchucky), but did allow as how its use might be a result of weak editing! Namely, the use of the phrase “the Goddess” with the article and u.c. Maybe Callahan would have found the name Goddess, like the name God, preferable. Callahan criticizes Shlain for dipping into fields other than his own, then adds: “For example, my expertise as an artist doesn’t exactly help me when I write on subjects having to do with the Bible.” This goosey=gander attitude to field dipping does not predispose me to take Callahan’s assessment of Shlain’s work seriously, regardless of where it was printed(Skeptic mag). But I only read the first two pages, which was the most I could find for free online. I would have to pay for an e-download or something to read the rest of it.

MB said “A thesis can make u feel warm and fuzzy, and still be wrong.”
Who is “u”?
I make an effort to speak for myself only. And not make assumptions regarding others' assumptions and premises. Not very scientific. Having read the mission statement of The Skeptic I can say that this more or less matches my own attitude.
The reasons others take up ideas (feminist agenda, word vs. image, whatever) and the uses to which they put them says little to nothing about the merits of the ideas themselves.
I shall read “Wandering God”---I'll even pay for it (library does not have). It is curious is that Shlain’s ideas and delvings led him to on-the-surface similar horizontal/vertical conclusions as, so I read, MB in WG. "We" shall see.

8:54 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Katherine-

Hard to reply, since u seem to be preoccupied w/matters of style, and are all over the place as well (are incoherent, in other words). Thanks for the insult re: title of my book; it does tell me where yr coming from. "God" was meant to be generic, as in Divinity, or Belief.

Merits of ideas depend only on evidence. The 'goddess' crowd, and Shlain, invent theirs rather than find it in the historical record; and what they find, they bend to their thesis. "u" is you, them, and the New Age audiences that uncritically adore them. And trust me, I have nothing in common w/Shlain.

mb

10:12 PM  
Anonymous sanctuary! said...

"I feel it is so, therefore it is so." Or "Wishing makes it so." Could that be the fundamental epistemic principle of doltism?

A more prescriptive way of formulating it might be, "Let's pay little attention to the world around us. Instead, let's fly off into fantasy and call that real."

Not to be reductionist, but might we find this principle behind a significant amt of error in the West and East?

(This is prob already discussed in CTOS or WG but it has been a while & I don't have them to hand, sorry.)

12:01 AM  
Anonymous ennobled little day said...

"But as our culture collapses, more and more people like cotton candy, actually think it's steak, and don't know what empirical evidence is anyway. Not much any of us real steak-eaters can do abt it, I don't think, beyond avoiding cotton candy ourselves."

Awesome!! I'm going to frame this and place it opposite to my toilet so that I can read it on a regular basis... ;)

I should start reading your books. (I've only seen interviews of you on the web.) Any recommendations as to where to start?

12:10 AM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

Re: The Alphabet and the Goddess
I don't know anything about Shalin,
but that title reminded me more of La Muerte y la Brújula

Katherine said
The reasons others take up ideas (feminist agenda, word vs. image, whatever) and the uses to which they put them says little to nothing about the merits of the ideas themselves.

It's a little late in this time zone and I'm a bit tired, so I don't want to argue with your overall statement, but whenever I encounter one set of ideas that seems to be designed and deployed in opposition to another set of ideas that has already achieved a status of general acceptance, then I get (cue Elmer Fudd voice module) vewy, vewy suspicious.

Examples: Climate Change Denial ideas, Holocaust Denial ideas, Quantum Mechanics Denial ideas.

If the uses to which these are put (CCD>greed, HD>power, QMD>academic stubbornness in the face of experimental evidence) don't saddle them with an added burden of proof when you subject them to analysis, we'll have to agree to disagree about whose handicapping system results in a better return on investment.

1:15 AM  
Blogger Zosima said...

Nice to see someone firing at the founding fathers and the constitution with both barrels. I don’t think Spielberg will find a saintly America father figure in this book to make a film about.

----The Tea Party and Occupy activists would find George Washington there with a club, trying to lock them up.
----The founding fathers agreed: there’s a popular democratic movement that we have to suppress.
----One of the very purposes of the federal constitutional convention was to suppress populist efforts.

http://www.bostonreview.net/BR37.6/william_hogeland_founding_finance_fathers_constitution_democracy.php

1:28 AM  
Anonymous Zero said...

MB,

In reference to the idea of masculine vs. feminine, what do you think about delimiting these along the lines of morality, as in Kohlberg vs. Carol Gilligan. I am referring to the idea that Kohlberg gave a higher moral weight to male values such as justice and fairness (justice perspective), while Gilligan emphasized traditional female values such as compassion and caring (caring perspective). Gilligan’s highest moral development level would be the Morality of Nonviolence (moral equality between self and others, where no one, including oneself, should be hurt).

Do you know of any human societies where the caring perspective took hold at any point in history?

Julian
PS – Of course, I am asking if you know of any societies *other* than the European Union, because as you probably know, as of yesterday, the EU attained the highest Morality of Nonviolence... along with Henry Kissinger and Barack Hussein Obama...)

3:47 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Z-

I guess Charles Beard is alive and well, but from another angle. Still, from what I've read, motives of Founding Fathers were kinda complex.

Ty-

Honestly, I can't understand what yr saying. But I hafta confess, the whole goddess topic bores me to tears by now. I was writing "Wandering God" 15+ yrs ago, and then went on to other things. The fact is that this blog is, or at least hopes to be, abt the collapse of the American empire, period. Perhaps in some parallel universe I'm sitting around running a blog on the Goddess, but that ain't this one.

Day-

That's not gonna work unless u spend a lot of time on the toilet :-( As for my books: I have a feeling that's not the best place to read them; tho my critics wd argue otherwise. I dunno...depends on what yr particular interests are. You sound like a poetic kinda guy, so maybe "Counting Blessings" shd be where u shd start. In the meantime (i.e. while yr waiting for it to arrive in yr mailbox), here's a little haiku to tide u over:

The King said "Shit!"
and there was a movement
throughout the land.

Sanc-

Check out an essay in QOV called "Tribal Consciousness and Enlightenment Tradition."

mb

4:04 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Julian-

Apparently, hunter-gatherer societies had a greater degree of equality than what came after, altho I dunno if that translated into a greater degree of caring. The problem is that there was, in fact, an underclass: infants. So if u survived, it was a better deal than living in civilization. (Freud wd not have been able to write a book called Hunter-Gatherer Society and Its Discontents.)

mb

4:23 AM  
Anonymous Mark Notzon said...

Dear MB, K, et al.

"Mark must be a really fast reader."

True I didn't even look at Shlain's book, much less read it entirely. I found a summary on the website where I learnt that the Iconic Revolution which inundates us now on a daily and minute to minute basis, may stimulate the right side of our brain so as to usher in an efflorescence of cognitive harmony. Supposedly the more I immerse myself in a stream of commercials and MTV,or video games the more "whole" I will become.

I didn't have to read Shlain to recognize the scent coming out of the kitchens that concoct anodynes of popular thought, for I had smelled it before. Back in the 70's, the son of Wilhelm Reich (I believe) came out with a best selling tract, "The Greening of America," which posited as society was becoming "friendlier"-- one anecdotal evidence being the number of people you meet smiling on the streets--it would soon emerge that the Lion would lay down with the Lamb.(What happened, hunh?...Maybe not enough people read the book, darn, just within inches of the tipping point.) I recall the "New Yorker" being taken in on this and serializing it.

Such narratives are facile renderings of the Enlightenment trope, which posits an ideal attained, if only some or all of the past is abandoned, or in some versions, regained. Like fast food items, these notions are convenient, but lacking in nutrient, and shallow. They strike a chord, make people feel good, make sales for the publishers, fame for the authors, and then fade away.

11:33 AM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and fellow Wafers,

"I hate reality but it's still the best place to get a good steak."

-Woody Allen

12:17 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Mark-

Wilhelm did have a son, but Charles wasn't it. As for "The Greening of America," I remember Herbert Marcuse reviewing it, and calling it "the establishment version of the Great Rebellion."

mb

4:04 PM  
Anonymous bart said...

mb, thanks again mucho for thoughts from the diamond mind... Also I love the marvelous Fred Licht biography of Goya and greatly appreciate the quote from it.

I've expanded the sentence on my bathroom mirror to "I live among dolts who have an endless appetite for bullshit."

I'm late reading the thread. I agree with Julian's analysis of CH, but wonder where Seth comes up with the notion that CH is repenting for his "jingoistic" reporting, and have never read anything by Hedges or heard him speaking where I'd characterize his words as a "rant". I think his motivation comes from his background at Harvard Divinity School, his pastor father and the tradition of Bonhoefer, Dorothy Day, MLK, liberation theologists...The survival rate isn't good for those on the front lines opposing a totalitarian state. And I imagine the same will hold true in what Sheldon Wolin's has termed our "inverted totalitarian state".

I wish he'd leave the country because I frankly worry he'll be in deep trouble if (or when) things turn serious. And I see another crash as highly likely given that the banks are virtually immune from regulation, oversight, or meaningful prosecution.

From today's NY Times:

"State and federal authorities decided against indicting HSBC in a money-laundering case over concerns that criminal charges could jeopardize one of the world’s largest banks and ultimately destabilize the global financial system."

http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/12/10/hsbc-said-to-near-1-9-billion-settlement-over-money-laundering/?ref=business

Having writtenAmerican Fascism it's hard to believe he doesn't understand what he's facing in the US. And the only thing I imagine would cloud his vision so badly is the deep religious background. I see this nightmare coming every day living in NM where they push the buttons on the targets selected by Obama and I'm surrounded by the largest military arsenal ever known to mankind. The mindset out here, when it isn't totally zombified, is profoundly frightening.

Something like this. Note the reference to Kirkland Air Force Base, located in my beloved Albuquerque.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/28/atomic-bomb-moon-secret-mission-nuke-cold-war_n_2199615.html

5:11 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

bart-

I'm hoping Wafers will eventually have their bathrm mirrors plastered w/post-its. As an alternative to yr latest, I wd also suggest "I live among degraded buffoons who can't get enough pap." This is so true, it's terrifying.

I may be naive, but I suspect that Chris is too prominent for the US Gov't to go after him. As De Gaulle said abt Sartre, when rt-wingers wanted him imprisoned for treason (he urged French youth to refuse to serve in Algeria): "One doesn't put Voltaire in jail." I suppose Noam Chomsky is our equivalent; he doesn't pay taxes (from what I've heard from folks close to him), and the IRS does nothing. It wd be too dangerous for the gov't to fuck w/him, really; it wd precipitate an international outrage. The same may be true for Chris. You know, during the McCarthy fascism, the HUAC did not go after the big fish, because of this (for the most part), but after the little ones, who had no protection. I don't really think I'll wind up in Guantanamo w/a hood over my head, because I'm so marginal and inconsequential; but stranger things have happened. In the case of Chris, as w/Chomsky, he wd have the backing of the entire international community, shd anything happen to him.

Besides, he doesn't *really* constitute a threat. It's precisely because 99.9% of the American public is clueless and/or apathetic that the gov't doesn't hafta worry about anything he says, or publishes, or does.

How many Americans know who Goya was? How many wd care, if they did? How many are capable of rdg Fred Licht's biography? You see my pt.

mb

5:48 PM  
Anonymous Mark Notzon said...

Dear MB,

"Wilhelm did have a son, but Charles isn't it."

I was in error, and am happily corrected. Especially for the sake of Wilhelm, whose work and insights via bioenergetics and Alexander Lown retrieved me from a deep depression in my thirties.

7:12 PM  
Anonymous Linda J said...

Thank you Jeff for quoting Woody. My ironclad motto when I remember it is: WWWD. (What would Woody do.)

9:23 PM  
Blogger took_the_red_pill said...

Prof Berman:

Regarding Chris Hedges and Noam Chomsky, I have two minor corrections.

1) Amy Goodman did an interview with Chomsky a few years ago where he was asked about his encouragement of income tax protest (re: endless wars, Pentagon cost-plus insanity, etc.). He said that his (late) wife Carol went back to grad school because they had young children and there was concern he might actually do prison time (this was in the Vietnam era). Instead, the IRS just contacted the payroll department at MIT and had his wages garnished.

I don't know if he still refuses to pay income tax. I have noticed that his most recent books are published with some sort of legal preface (an irrevocable trust, I think). That may have to do with his rather advanced age, however.

2) Hedges has repeatedly mentioned being harassed, especially while traveling during the Bush "Lost Decade" (2001-2009). He's not the only one; Naomi Wolf and others have reported similar things. On multiple occasions, Hedges' airline boarding passes were marked with TSA codes that resulted in searches and detainment. Not until he filed legal threats did the harassment finally cease.

Now, this treatment isn't Gitmo, of course, but in the case of both Hedges and Wolf, there wasn't even a scintilla of lawbreaking involved.

9:50 PM  
Anonymous in.fern.all said...

What happened yesterday to earn the EU the title of Highest Morality of Nonviolence? I didn't read the papers.

10:48 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Pill-

Thanks, all that's gd to know. Well, not gd, but helpful. During the early 1970s a special 10% VN war tax was added to Ma Bell phone bills. I refused to pay it, and wondered if I'd get thrown in the clink. But instead, the IRS just seized the cash from my bank acc't every month (thereby forcing me to be a war criminal, but then I was already one by paying my income tax). As for harassment, there's lots of stuff around abt the gov't seizing reporters' computers, that sort of thing (Laura Poitras, e.g.). Some democracy we've got here. And oh, the Dems are so left-wing, eh?

mb

11:23 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

I read “Greening” in the late 1980’s when I worked at the largest used bookstore in Atlanta and we had to deal with mts. of copies. People were unloading them like the were German Reich marks after WWI. What Reich did in 1970, was take the counterculture of the 1965-70 period and predict it would become the dominant paradigm. The lesson I got was don’t select recent trends and assume they will continue. No, we didn’t become a hippy counter cultural ecotopia, instead we chose a relic from the 50’s to be our president so we could relive that era, and Jerry Falwell became the cultural guru of the era, while people like Timothy Leary vanished. By the late 80’s the only sign that the counterculture ever existed were Grateful Dead concerts, your local health food store, and New Age shops selling crystals and incense.
But to be fair, by 1975 people like Paul Ehrlich were predicting doom just ahead, based on recent population and resource shortage trends. He specifically singled out Japan for immediate doom. So, what happens? Japan has an economic boom that staggers the world. Fast forward to 2000. Nothing to talk about but how great an economic superstar the US is, and that we had to deal with looming budget surpluses as far as the eye could see, so all that money wouldn’t burn a hole in our collective pocket. Along comes G W Caligula to end that little problem for us. So now (2008-12) the US is an economic basket case, on it’s way to becoming Greece, nothing but decline ahead, and the trendiest forecasts are for the end of industrialism (Orlov , Kunstler), or the end of everything (Zerzan, Derrick Jensen, Guy McPherson.) So based on the prediction track record, I’m thinking, flying cars in every driveway by 2015.

4:52 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Z-

Actually, the counterculture was far superior to Charles Reich, I'm thinking. He had little more than fried rice in his head. But flying cars by 2015 seems pretty solid...I'm also thinking that the owner of the Stage Deli in NY (on 7th Ave. betw 52 and 53 sts.) runs against Hilary on the Chopped Liver Party ticket in 2016 and wins. Canapes for everyone!

mb

5:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think the Quakers were ever harassed directly but during the Vietnam war some did opt for variations of voluntary poverty to put themselves out of paying into the tax/war system.

Speaking of the gov. "cracking down" on things (not), can you believe the latest HSBC non-case? Check out this NY Times editorial. Most of the early comments have it pretty right.

http://tinyurl.com/hsbc-case

Glad Obama's over the election hump so the Justice dept. doesn't have its hands tied with political considerations!!!

El Juero

6:01 AM  
Anonymous neunder said...

did you see this cellphone story?

Woman thought phone call was more important than Staten Island judge's order

http://www.silive.com/news/index.ssf/2012/12/authorities_woman_thought_phon.html

12:00 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Neunder-

I love it, how abs. dumb Americans are. And every day they get dumber, and every day there are more of them. I think it might be time to make the public use of cell phones a capital crime (no right of appeal).

mb

12:21 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and fellow Wafers,

Linda J-

Thank you. Your practice of a WWWD philosophy is excellent advice.

Zosima-

Your description of folks dumping their "Greening" books off on you and the Atlanta bookstore in the 1980s is hilarious! I'm sorry you had to deal with that and, as MB says, the "fried rice" that is Charles A. Reich. Speaking of fried rice, both Bill and Hillary were taught by Reich at some point at Yale. I had a similar experience working at a used bookstore as a teenager. The store had so many copies of "Greening" that we essentially tossed them into the garbage bin. Indeed, the movie cowboy was in office and the hustle moved in a decidedly vertical direction. With Ronnie running the show/empire, American's flushed any pretense of saving the earth, or themselves, down the toilet. For an insightful look at this period and the schizophrenic atmosphere of the the 1970s and early 1980s check out the book "Mad as Hell: The Crisis of the 1970s and the Rise of the Populist Right" by Dominic Sandbrook.

Dr. Berman-

The insanity of gun violence continues in the so-called land of the free and home of the brave. As you are well aware, it is essentially becoming an everyday occurrence in the United States as politicians and brain-dead citizens continue to bury their heads in denial. It is so tragic that it borders on the absurd. A mall, in more progressive Portland no less, at Christmastime filled with children visiting Santa forced to hit the deck as the bullets fly. Considering the depths of repression, fear, anger, and outright madness and insanity that exists in this nation, a more important Reich should be considered at this point. Indeed, Wilhelm Reich's "The Mass Psychology of Fascism" should be required reading, no? Fat chance!

http://www.latimes.com/news/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-oregon-mall-shooting-could-have-been-worse-20121212,0,1182302.story

2:30 PM  
Anonymous LarryA said...

Good Day MB,
Your comment regarding Wilbur's work certainly rings true for me, "The New Age spawned a whole raft of people who confused feelings and slogans with truth, and thought they were thinking when they weren't. It also spawned a # of 'scholars' whose work was really pseudo-scholarship, when u look at it more closely. You know, I did try reading Wilber at one pt, and the absence of any real empirical basis for his ideas left me feeling like I was eating cotton candy. But as our culture collapses, more and more people like cotton candy, actually think it's steak, and don't know what empirical evidence is anyway. Not much any of us real steak-eaters can do abt it, I don't think, beyond avoiding cotton candy ourselves.

My wife and I belonged to a meditation group for a few months until the "leader" started pitching Ken Wilber and Hawkins (Truth vs. Falsehood). I found it grossly naive and offensive so I started discussing the writings of Hedges, Matt Taibbi, and Chalmers Johnson. Needless to say, my discussion was considered an "affront to positive energy", although I now tend to agree with you that Hedges is a bit of an optimist.

We had a similar experience in Santa Fe at the Truthdig fundraiser last April. They had a young lady lead a meditation (to a roomful of retired geezers (like ourselves), who made a pitch for dropping the "negative heavy, negative energy of political discussion and focus on the positive, healing energy". There's a whole new strain of people who are in serious denial and play the magic card with themselves and those around them.

I suppose there comes a point where one can only respond with a smile and a "how nice!". As Jim Kunstler would say, "It's all good".

2:39 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jeff-

"Character Armor" is also relevant. But u.c., if those kids had each been toting an AK-47, there wd be no problem! Woody's gd, but what abt Oprah, or Dr. Laura? (toss cookies here)

Larry-

You'd think Truthdig wd have more brains than that, given the nature of their political reportage; but it's basically a truism: If yr an American, u have no brains, by definition. That 'leader' sounds like a cutting-edge intellect. I tell u, so many people need to have their shoes peed on, there just isn't enuf beer in the country to do the job properly. The mind (and bladder) boggles.

mb

3:41 PM  
Anonymous sanctuary! said...

News "bite" from the halcyon yr of 2015...

Candidate Deli defies US decline with New Age campaign slogan.

"I'M CHOPPED LIVER, YOU'RE CHOPPED LIVER - AND IT'S OK"

(Below the fold:)

Mr. Deli promised to appoint MB to the post of White House taster.

"I've never tasted the WH before," joked the prof from a flying car. "But if appointed I promise not to, say, barf on anyone's shoes, or anything like that."

4:20 PM  
Blogger jim said...

A beautiful metaphor: only extreme pressure can create a diamond.

I think the only workable approach to our problems is to see & address what's actually causing them. From what I'm seeing in the news & have read in history books, it seems to me that poor mental hygiene & the sacred social status of material acquisition as a cardinal virtue account for more problems than the next ten vectors put together.

I also think our chances of collectively comprehending this situation, let alone working to fix it, are slim to none, so I'm keeping my eyes wide open & thoroughly enjoying the ride downhill while the slope is still gentle enough for it to qualify as comedy, black though it may be.

5:30 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

“Actually, the counterculture was far superior to Charles Reich.”

Hey, I’m with you on that. Though I got the impression the book was very sympathetic to the CC. To me it read like Alvin Toffler fluff for hippies, and wasn’t aspiring to be much more than that. Had I read it in 1970, I would have said,,”yeah, the future looks great, I can’t wait!” But reading it from my bleak 1989 perspective just brought to mind the foolish optimism of the Dylan song which I updated for Reagan era: the times they “aren’t” a changin, unless you mean they’re changin into your worst nightmare.
Fooled by the pace of change, we were. When I saw the movie 2001 in 1968, everyone thought we would surely have huge space stations and bases on the moon by now. I was just a kid, but the pace of change felt jarring, but I thought it was mostly good and that it would continue, not stop and regress as it has. I’m reading Moondust, by Andrew Smith about the lunar astronauts, those guys were true techno-utopians, they believed we could do amazing things with technology if we tried. Maybe that’s because they actually lived it. One of Apollo 16 astronaut John Young’s colleagues commented that the 1960s was like “a decade from the twenty-first century transported to the twentieth.” I think that was what it felt like culturally as well as technologically. Many people thought if the space program could move that fast, so could societal change. People who weren’t alive during those years have no idea, it looks unbelievable from today’s perspective, progress is supposed to be steady, not spike and collapse.

Jeff T- been meaning to recommend that Mad As Hell book also, good stuff on Carter, “malaise”, and the American people’s efforts to get back on the fast track towards stupid after being sidetracked by the sixties.

7:11 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Z-

Well, what I meant by that was that there were a # of different strands in the counterculture, and some of them (Tom Hayden and the Port Huron Statement, e.g.) were quite intelligent. Reich was an embarrassment to himself, thinking that the revolution would take place via San Fran flower children and hip boutiques. There was no understanding of the role of power in history, or the mechanisms of social change, in his work.

An image that haunts me from late 1979 or early 1980, when I lived in San Fran: I'm in a cafe, and the waitress is wearing a button that says, "The 80s." I was puzzled, so I asked her abt it. "I'm trying to be hopeful," she told me. Then came Reagan. What I didn't know at the time was that Vietnam was no aberration; Reagan was no aberration; and that in the context of 400 yrs of hustling, the 'aberrant' quality of most of the counterculture was pathetic. In fact, most of it was coopted (Jerry Rubin was iconic) into more, and more chic, hustling. Only in the context of a meathead public could Reich's book become a best-seller, after all, instead of a bad joke.

mb

ps: Just to avoid any ambiguity: I don't think much of Charles Reich. I worry that I didn't make that entirely clear.

8:31 PM  
Blogger LJansen said...

Written by some misguided astronauts in the 60s? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PcseuqnRRyE

11:24 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

MB says
...capitalism is coming apart, and this is the real story of the 21st century...the socioeconomic formation that has been with us for 500 years or so is finally coming to an end. ...the direction the nation is pretty clear: downward, and absolutely nothing can alter that trajectory. No empire, in its dying phase, was able to halt or reverse the downward path it was on...we will not escape our fate. disintegration itself, …. is how substantive change is going to take place.

When I read this I can’t help thinking of all the monster movies where they think they’ve killed the monster, but it springs back to life while everybody is celebrating. Weren’t people declaring this monster dead in the 1930’s, the 1970’s, etc. And in your formulation nobody even has to kill the monster--it just dies of natural causes, its excesses. Good triumphs because evil gets tired. No intelligent person would argue with you that America is now or will becomes a place for decent people. But I don’t see what prevents America or capitalism from remaining the evil monster that it is for many decades or even centuries to come, provided there are no physical/resource limits. Doesn’t it worry you that this whole disintegration theme is a subtle way for last chapter hopefulness to enter the picture?

2:19 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Z-

Good argument, thanks!

Well, the fact is that they were right, the doomsayers of the 30s and 70s. Huge socioeconomic formations--Roman Empire, feudal Europe--don't disappear overnight. (One might even argue that they don't disappear totally; the university system, for example, is a medieval institution at its core.) The only two exceptions to that that we have are the Mayans and the USSR, which went into free fall and came apart in a relatively short time. I'm quite sure that the death throes of our current system will take the rest of this century to work themselves out. And yes, there are clear resource limits in this drama, ones that make this vector inevitable--limits to growth, on wh/(growth) capitalism surely depends.

But it's not quite a case of good triumphing over evil. History guarantees only this: change. It doesn't guarantee better; it guarantees only different. And all large socioeconomic formations are a package deal, with upsides and downsides--a theme developed some years ago by Warran Wagar in "A Short History of the Future," in which he shows that the 'green option' that may await us isn't going to be some happy utopian idyll. No: like capitalism, the world of decentralized eco-sustainability is definitely going to have its particular problems; and as in the case of capitalism, these problems may get louder (so to speak) over time. That is the 'rhythm' of civilizational change, as Toynbee demonstrated long ago (see Joseph Tainter for a more empirical/materialist update).

It's kind of like Russian dolls, i.e. nested formations. America sits inside of capitalism, wh/in turn sits inside of modernity, now in the process of 'waning', as the Middle Ages once did (Huizinga). In her biography of the Hegelian scholar, Alexandre Kojève, Shadia Drury writes: “Every political order, no matter how grand, is doomed to decay and degenerate.” As for modernity in particular, she says:

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

Personally, I'm hopeful that this next phase of human history will be better--at least for a while. In terms of the human spirit, at least, yes: I remain an incorrigible optimist. But as I said, there are no guarantees; and whatever succeeds capitalism, it too won't last forever. The only forever, as Heraclitus told us long ago, is change.

mb

6:23 AM  
Anonymous TimR said...

"TSA's Grip on Internal Travel is Tightening":

http://dollarvigilante.com/blog/2012/12/11/tsas-grip-on-internal-travel-is-tightening.html

10:58 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

How did your blog get on the page
for wikipedia deaths in 2012? Is
there some kind of black humor in
this?

1:05 PM  
Blogger Reader said...

Regarding the monastic option, I came across this little jewel while reading a wikipedia entry on the life of Sri Ananda Mata Moi.

"Once when asked how someone would know whether to choose the renunciate life, she responded 'would one deliberate on whether to flee a massacre?'"

3:55 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and fellow Wafers,

Dr. B-

Thanks for the W. Reich reference. I know you are way busy, but thought you may get a kick out of this. Tased-for-Tech! The madness continues!

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/woman-tasered-trying-buy-too-many-iphones-174321967--finance.html

4:08 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jeff-

Good story. Tho I think anyone buying a cell phone shd be tasered, just on principle.

mb

4:58 PM  
Anonymous ennobled little day said...

I just copied and pasted your Katha Upanishad quote onto my facebook account. It's sad to say but I don't think I know of that many places where I can run into stuff like that.

Schopenhauer was into the Upanishads. If you don't mind me asking, what do you think of him? Do you think he's worth studying?

And thank you for the haiku and your recommendation, although I kinda have my eye on A Question of Values.

I just finished finals and I think my brain is shot to shit...

7:11 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Day-

I think the last time I read Schopenhauer was 1967. Gd, tho. But maybe a bio of Spinoza (or Montaigne) might be better, I dunno. Yes, QOV cd be the rt tonic, as soon as yr turdile brain comes back to normal. Of course, if it never recuperates, u might grow flowers outta yr ears. Daffodils are nice.

mb

7:55 PM  
Anonymous Chris said...

MB, Pedro, Etc...

Been a while since I've commented here, but I'm rather confused about the discussion of Sex at Dawn. Having read the book (which cites MB, btw, though not specifically about sexuality) the argument of the book is not some weird matriarchal harem thesis. It rather says, if we're going to be very reductive about it, that men and women both find novel sexual partners interesting and that marriage and monogamy as presently practiced have flaws and limitations (not shocking news, I don't think) and that some aspects of HG social organization dealt better with these realities than modern civilization.

The ultimate argument may or may not be correct, but the realities they are trying to explain (amongst them, the fact that women like sex too! OMG, as the kids might say) doesn't seem terribly controversial. It is certainly not some sort of "goddess" tract and, if anything, seems to grant more license to men than women after discussing how similar the sexes are in some respects (see, in particular, chapter 22).

I'm not endorsing any particular conclusions here, but puzzled at a studied misreading of the book that led to a conversation completely disconnected from the content of the book. While I don't doubt that some "crazy" women could use it to justify a hyper-promiscuous lifestyle superficially predicated on some lightweight "feminist" ideology/agenda, that's not what the books is about, anymore than WAF is about endorsing slavery. The whole thing is largely OT to the DAA blog, but I thought this was worth pointing out.

10:45 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Chris-

Thanks for the clarification. I don't remember how we got from whether the bk was a male or a female sexual fantasy, to the whole goddess discussion, but as you conclude, it's all rather far afield from the intended subject matter of this blog anyway. Also a bit tedious, it seems to me. As far as I know, the goddess issue is fairly moribund among anthropologists these days; and one can predict that there will always be, every 20 yrs or so, another 'revelation' abt Sex in the Stone Age and Its Meaning for Today; in the same way that Our Educational System Is Threatened regularly hits the shelves (or screen). Anyway, I'm glad we can dispense w/all that and move on to more exciting topics, such as what Rom Mittney is doing these days.

mb

11:17 PM  
Anonymous Joe doesn't know said...

Dr. Berman, re: Rom, he was at the Manny Pacquaio fight, probably cursing Pacquaio by introducing himself prior to the fight by saying "Hello Manny. I ran for president. I lost" Shortly thereafter, Manny was knocked out cold by his opponent. Thank you, Rom.

http://sports.yahoo.com/news/mitt-romney-attends-pacquiao-marquez-024440609--box.html

If you aren't familiar, Pacquiao is a boxer, beloved by his filipino countrymen, of which my wife is one, and she is convinced that Rom's "bad juju" rubbed off on Pacquiao and caused him to lose.

12:19 AM  
Anonymous in.fern.all said...

"...the green option which awaits us isn't going to be some happy utopian idyll".

I agree with this statement. After initially embracing the Natural Capitalism concept of Paul Hawken I have, over the last ten or eleven years, come to the conclusion that the sustainability paradigm will most likely come to resemble The Village in the British tv series "The Prisoner": everything bucolic and cheerful, people driving electric cars, however, everyone and every place is under surveillence and a weird remote-controlled thing-a-mo-bob goes after all would-be rebels and escapees. Everyone there is either a spy or a lobotomized moron (not too far from what we have now).
We can debate whether it's sustainable; I suspect it might be if built on a recycled materials/renewable energy platform, hard goods replaced largely by virtual goods and wealth denoted in power via psycho-neural conditioning and eyeball time, rather than money, what might be called "attentionomics".
I'd be interested to know how to salvage human dignity under such circumstances.

12:36 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Joe & Fern-

I too have suffered from Mittney's bad mojo. Rupert Murdoch called to say that he is pulping all of the copies his press printed up of my "Principles of Mittnism." There goes my villa in Tuscany. Plus, besides the bad mojo, there's the added factor that Rom, plain and simple, is a douche bag. Of course, the real pt is that millions of Americans--47% of the popular vote--regarded one of the silliest, most vapid people in the nation (possibly, the world) as presidential material. But Obama isn't much better, which suggests that nearly all of the country consists of silly, vapid douche bags (some being more chic than others, of course; which is so important in terms of which direction the nation needs to go in). And from this raw douchebaggy material, we are supposed to have a Renaissance, a phoenix rising from the ashes. Yeah, right, as my freshman class at Cornell liked to say, 50 yrs ago.

Which brings us to the Green Future of the US. Again, let me recommend Warren Wagar's book, wh/discusses the potentially repressive aspects of the 'green option'. In a word: not in the US. Europe is probably a better place for it, maybe also Latin America. The problem w/the US is who we are--hustlers from Day 1. It's in our DNA, and I'm convinced that whatever system we wind up with, we'll fuck it up badly along egocentric, hustling lines. I remember when Buddhism began to sweep the nation in the late 60s and early 70s. Was it about love for all creatures, about dissolution of the ego and the emergence of a sangha, a selfless community? On the surface, maybe; the reality was something like Zenner Than Thou, and My Guru Is More Enlightened Than Yours. The New Age easily turned into big business, and Richard Baker (San Fran Zen Center) wound up driving a Mercedes, which he claimed he had to have in his position as roshi. He also slept with his female disciples. Quelle surprise! The problem is that anything that gets fed thru the US hustling filter comes out self-serving and competitive and aggressive, because that is our ethos. So just as the recovery of Europe took place not in Rome, but in the North, it is likely that a successful post-capitalist formation will not happen on American soil. Japan, for example, is a more likely candidate: eco-sustainability was a strong element of the Edo period (1600-1867), and the Japanese have the notion of Community First in their DNA (to the detriment of the individual, as many have pointed out; but that's a whole other story). Europe also had a long feudal tradition of noblesse oblige. The problem with America is that it was born bourgeois-entrepreneurial; getting one up on the other guy is all it knows. So as far as the 'green option' in this country goes, we can surely expect a lot of Greener Than Thou behavior (which I in fact saw in health food stores in the 70s: I'm organic/yr a lowlife, kinda thing). Human dignity requires things such as sensitivity, self-awareness, and compassion, after all--not exactly our strong suit. It's like taking communist ideology and grafting it onto an autocratic tsarist nation: you wind up with an autocratic communist nation. (For a great satire on this, see Mikhail Bulgakov, "Heart of a Dog".) Similarly, a green collection of self-serving buffoons at the end of the day is still a collection of self-serving buffoons. "All hoods make not monks," as Shakespeare put it. The only hope for America is to remove everyone from the country, relocate them to Antarctica, and bring in a whole new set of people with a whole new value system. It's that or mass lobotomies, what can I tell ya.

mb

2:20 AM  
Blogger pinkpearl said...

I'm reading up on the Roman Empire for my upcoming trip to Italy (I plan to see lots of ruins). So, did the Romans, or some of them, know their society was collapsing, at the time? Did they have these kinds of discussions about what the future holds, how to salvage some of the valuable bits of their culture? Is there evidence of such discussions?

Feel free to point me in the direction of any books or resources. So far I haven't come across any that discuss what Romans thought at the time.

10:35 AM  
Anonymous Stone said...

Collapse is merrily proceeding at the predicted pace (actually somewhat faster, according to some statistics -- not unlike climate change):

This week, there were two multiple shootings.

On December 11th, in a Portland area mall, a man shot dead a man and a woman, before killing himself.

Today, in Connecticut, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, someone started unloading. As this is fresh off the wire, more cannot be said with any degree of certainty. All I could glean is that some folks were injured.

A Merry Onwards and Downwards Christmas to ya all!

Pierre

11:35 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Pink-

I can't remember; I was doing research on Rome in the mid-90s, long long ago. But be sure to read "Rubicon," by Tim Holland, and Anthony Everitt's bio of Cicero.

mb

12:35 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and fellow Wafers,

Relocating all Americans to Antarctica is a non-option Dr. B. You stated in a past interview, Chuck Mertz, I think it was, that because of America's "negative identity" it will eventually declare war on Antarctica and declare that penguins are terrorists. That observation earned a chuckle from Chuck! After Syria, Obama stated that he plans to put Operation Numb Nuts Nimrod into effect. I'm certain it's gonna take mass lobotomies to fix it.

12:57 PM  
Blogger Franchesca Lebrón Marte said...

CNN now reports the death toll at 20 at the Connecticut elementary school shooting.

1:01 PM  
Anonymous Stone said...

Connecticut elementary school shooting UPDATE 12:54 pm ET: Associated Press is now reporting:

An official with knowledge of the shooting tells AP that "27 people are dead, including 18 children."

1:12 PM  
Anonymous TimR said...

Zosima wrote:

"When I saw the movie 2001 in 1968, everyone thought we would surely have huge space stations and bases on the moon by now. I was just a kid, but the pace of change felt jarring, but I thought it was mostly good and that it would continue, not stop and regress as it has."

Wow, you should really listen to this speech by David Graeber, since he addresses this topic directly and has a really fascinating take on why the "progress" slowed to a trickle. Highly recommend for anyone, he has unusual but compelling ideas. (A common theme in some of the links I've posted lately: the audience doesn't seem that appreciative in their Q&A, like they've got fried rice for brains as some uncharitable people might say :-) And Graeber almost appears to be suppressing giggles like it's driving him a bit mad, I feared for his health.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-QgSJkk1tng

1:27 PM  
Anonymous Scotty said...

Stone, at least 27 were killed in the elementary school shooting at Sandy Hook today. While we can agree that this is yet another sign of the accelerating decline of our culture and society, perhaps we can all try to comment on it without snarky irony?

1:35 PM  
Anonymous sanctuary! said...

Re shootings. 1. The more guns there are, the more likely it is that shots will be fired. 2. When the guns are in the hands of dolts, that likelihood increases exponentially. These two obvious observations are considered, by the Am media, as 1. very controversial to state; and 2. forbidden to state (all Americans are unquestionably above avg). This is part of why the shootings will only increase in #.

Re Schopenhauer. The best place to get yr feet wet IMO is not w/the heavy philosophy of World as Will & Representation but w/The Wisdom of Life & Counsels & Maxims. Written on a popular level and gives a fine flavor of Schop, humorous too. Prometheus Books put out a paperback ed. & Penguin has a similar ed. (both are culled from a much longer work). Montaigne seems saner, tho. The Screech translation of M is well regarded.

2:48 PM  
Anonymous LarryA said...

Pink,
Anthony Everitt's recently published book "The Rise of Rome: The Making of the World's Greatest Empire", is a good read on the subject.

3:19 PM  
Anonymous Joseph S. said...

Re recent shooting in Connecticut, I'm surprised everyone's talking about "gun control". To me, and I'm sure to most of the other WAFers, it seems guns aren't the problem, but rather that there's a serious cultural deficiency going. (surprise surprise)

3:58 PM  
Anonymous Brian said...

I think we will all agree on this; the tragedy which occurred today in Connecticut would have been averted if only those children were armed. Think about it, those kids could have each packed a small 9mm pistol in their lunchboxes. Too bad our tyrannical, terrorist, muslum, Marxist, banker, black panther president would never allow that. I've had it up to here (my fingers are pointing to my chin)!

Merry Christmas

4:19 PM  
Anonymous Zero said...

The news coming out of Connecticut is shocking. I don’t have words to describe my feelings about this. It is so tragic that this time there were young children who fell victim.

However, I don’t expect any national introspection or true reflection to occur after this. None whatsoever. I expect the same formulas to be appealed at, perhaps arming teachers and students, the same blame the individual but absolve the monster the American ethos has devolved into. I am sure Obama will publicly keep 2 minutes of hollow “silence” for the victims (time which he might as well use to mentally review his "Tuesday kill list”), just like today he was photographed wiping fake tears away. I expect the same. The same circus. The same garbage from a megalomaniacal monster. I don’t expect anything to change. And nothing should change, of course. This is the greatest nation in history, it is perfection. You can’t improve perfection. No need to change anything here. Period. And it is all very, very tragic that these children died.

MB,
Why are these shootings happening? Are they all just random signs of breakdown? Are they coordinated actions of the shadow government to desensitize and frighten the American sheeple? Are these rogue breakdowns in a system of “programmed” killers created by the military complex, like Alex Jones maintains? Why are these things happening at such a rate? And why are they so hideous?

Here is an interview Oliver Stone had with RT’s Abby Martin this week, where he describes the military complex as a parallel America taking the country into tyranny. He also talks about his new 10 hour documentary, “The Untold History of the United States”. In the interview he presents some very interesting explanations for the double nuclear bombing of Japan, the reason for D-day, and alludes to an interesting explanation for the assassination of JFK. If he is right, and the military complex did assassinate JFK 50 years ago, then why would “conspiracy theories” such as those of Alex Jones be implausible today?

Here is the interview:

http://rt.com/programs/breaking-set-summary/oliver-stone-american-history/

5:18 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dear Wafers:

Regarding our latest tragedy, namely Newtown, CT, I don't have to tell any one on this blog that this will not be the last massacre we have in this country, nor will it be the last time the root causes are not confronted. Once again we can expect lots of hand-wringing, the usual condemnation + pieties, and of course explanations that focus on the killer (lonely, deranged) and never on the society that keeps generating killers. This loss of young lives is such a terrible thing--20 children were murdered--and such an inevitable thing. We won't do anything about it; we won't understand anything about it; and we certainly won't learn anything from it. Like Vietnam, or the crash of 2008, this is just an 'aberration', some sort of freak deviation from the 'healthy' path that we normally pursue. Yeah, right. Within another 6 or 8 months, some version of this event will occur again--you know it and I know it. But the key issue--that there is a spiritual sickness in America that goes right down to the core, that is rotting us out from the inside; that what we are actually doing is committing national suicide, step by step--no, this we shall never talk about. The repeated denial of reality, the inability to face who it is we really are--our fundamental values and behavior--is almost as tragic as the events themselves. All those young lives wiped out, and--the music goes on.

mb

9:46 PM  
Anonymous Stone said...

No, Scoty, the irony is necessary, for it snaps the events out of the usual empty pieties and hackneyed language that inevitably attach to those horrific occurrences.

These murders must not be allowed to go simply in the murder or multiple killings statistics.

The irony debunks the massive societal denial surrounding these acts that, in the end, threaten us all. Indeed, any one of us could one day happen to be in the place where one of those "lone nuts" decides to unload his (primarily men perform these acts) semi-automatic gun.

10:23 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

NPR’s coverage said essentially, “move along, nothing to see here.” In fact, they interrupted their coverage to remind everyone that Syria has chemical weapons. That’s right, 26 shot dead at a school, but the real threat to your children lies 7000 miles away in Syria. Hmm...does anyone else think we may have a nice little Christmas war to celebrate the season, and distract us again from what horrible people we are?

As with all social and political problems in America, the only solutions that are allowed to get put on the table for discussion, are from right-wingers. David Brooks had a whopper. No, he didn’t say let’s arm all the six year olds in the classroom, that was Bill O'Reilly. This is a “serious” millionaire NYT pundit, the thinking man’s right-winger said the solution is to keep the shooter’s name out of the media. Brilliant huh? See the kind of thinking that will get you a seven figure income. The shooter is DEAD, he’s not reading the NYT. This idea is so brilliant, I think it should be applied retroactively, even to historical crimes. Kennedy was gunned down in Dallas by, Anonymous. And, Anonymous shot Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre. Somebody started WWII and killed six million Jews. You guessed it...Anonymous. David Brooks just solved the problem of evil, forever.

10:35 PM  
Anonymous Xiale said...



The fact that this event comes as a shock to anyone speaks to the lack of critical analysis regarding the state of our nation, and furthermore, illustrates the cultural and spiritual decay in our nation. This shooting isn’t the first or last of its kind, and the reasons behind these shootings escape Americans precisely because they are rooted in the very nature of American culture. In the days to come the media will focus on guns, and psychotic individuals having easy access to these guns, while ignoring the real problem. The problem is not one deranged individual, but rather a nation organized according to a deranged ideology, and the surrender of all cultural and spiritual mores to those deranged principles.

10:56 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Dear Dr. Berman and fellow Wafers,

Thank you so much for you thoughts and words. They are very much appreciated.

Jeff

11:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It will probably be the same empty replay we've seen before after such an event. One difference this time is the kids and the community are white so it may get more of response on some level.

John Zerzan (Anarchy Radio podcast) comments on shootings and violence almost weekly - no shortage of "material" to talk about.

His persp. on the violence is it's a response to mod.civilization, the disconnected and alienated emotional world people have come to inhabit. Some wld say the stats or events are different in the US but I think he'd say the response to the larger alienation is reflected differently in different places.

Worth thinking about I believe.

I must admit to struggling to understanding Zygmunt Bauman (my poor educational background) but events like this make me think about Liquid Fear, Liquid Times etc..

It was mentioned in the NYTimes that one of the weapons used was similar to military grade used in Iraq, Afg. etc..You see militarized police busting down doors in a nice Ct. neighborhd. Cld almost be US troops entering Muslim homes in war zones.

Violence outside, violence inside?

El Juero

11:37 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Anon-

I don't post Anons. Pls pick a handle and re-send. I suggest Rufus T. Firefly.

Pierre et al.-

Thanks for yr input. I think all of us are totally disgusted w/the commentary that passes for political or social analysis in response to these recurring events, so as to never have to look at the deranged and violent mindset of a country that is generating deranged and violent behavior. If it's OK to drop napalm on infants on the other side of the globe, eventually the disease invades the domestic front. I believe the phrase is 'chickens coming home to roost.'
I still ache for those poor children, wiped out--for what?

mb

12:58 AM  
Anonymous Jerome Langguth said...

“Like Vietnam, or the crash of 2008, this is just an 'aberration', some sort of freak deviation from the 'healthy' path that we normally pursue.”

Exactly. I heard an NPR guest “expert” saying this kind of thing barely an hour after the horrific details of yesterday’s shooting were released. The speaker referred to the shooting as an “extremely rare outlier event”, implying I guess that any excessive anxiety or fear one felt about it was not rational (rather like fear of flying, I suppose). The assumption seemed to be that listeners would be anxious mainly about the possibility of being personally involved in a mass shooting or other violent event, not at the general conditions of violence and thoughtlessness that prevail in our society.

While listening to this disturbing broadcast on the way to my home in Kunstlerville (suburban northern Kentucky), I saw someone standing by the road dressed as, I think, the Abominable Snowman. The snowman was carrying a sign with an anti-Semitic slogan scrawled in marker on the front and gesturing wildly at the early rush hour traffic from this otherwise deserted sprawl-zone sidewalk (I am not joking). Yes, the dark ages are well underway in America.

Jerome

8:06 AM  
Anonymous bart said...

Brooks along with Puddn'head Mark Shields were both on the PBS Newshour. Brooks also said that there's simply nothing that can be done since countries with strict gun control laws (he referred to the Breivik incident in Norway) have had no luck in stopping gun violence.

The Brady campaign reported that 10 people were killed in a typical year in Norway, whereas 12,000 were killed in the US.

That such outright bullshit can be spewed by this cretinous nobody on NPR and PBS is an indication of just how far gone "intellectual" discussion has become in our degraded country.

Blessings on you, Professor Berman, for providing the single forum I'm aware of where like-minded people can come to mourn or cry out against horrific events like the one that occurred yesterday. It provides relief from the sanctimonious and empty crap spewed by the media circus performers and our vapid child-murdering President.

Why karma or "divine justice" or the chickens coming home have to roost amidst innocent schoolchildren instead of the actual perpetrators of our depraved foreign policy is a question I have trouble answering.

8:35 AM  
Anonymous Susan W. said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

Maybe this will wake people up to the myth that we "live in a democracy"--exactly how can anyone believe that b.s. when the NRA can dictate to every congressman, senator and presidential candidate that they can forget getting elected if they make a peep about changing the gun laws? How could anyone be so cowardly and evil to shoot children? And that includes "our brave boys fighting for freedom".

9:19 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jerome et al.-

There's no doubt in my mind that w/in my lifetime, what's left of it, martial law will be declared (to control the population over food/water/fuel shortages, e.g.), and the armed forces will patrol the streets of every major city. Anyone breaking curfew, or looking 'suspicious', will be rounded up and interrogated, and you certainly won't be allowed to call your lawyer. And David Brooks and all the other media clowns will be pressed into gov't service, to say that this is merely an 'aberration', and that things will be back to 'normal' in a short while. Sit tight, my fellow Americans.

And almost no one in the country will make the necessary connections, because Americans are far too dumb to think synthetically or analytically, and haven't been taught how to do that anyway (and exactly who wd teach them, at this pt, when the teachers themselves are dumb as a stick?): which are: that if you have no real center, no identity save that generated by opposition to something or someone else, you are going to be engaged in endless wars to prove you exist; that if you've been hustling for 400 years, that's eventually going to deplete the earth's resources and drive you to comandeer foreign markets, also leading to war; that if you feel life is simply about profit and the latest piece of techno-trash, ditto; that if you believe our mission is to spread (read: impose) 'democracy' around the world, you will provoke wars among peoples who are not interested in your odd and hypocritical brand of 'democracy'; that if you worship the country as though it were a sacred entity (the 'civil religion'), you make it impossible for genuine criticism/discourse to enter the public arena and enable the system to self-correct; that if your (fungible) enemies are always the darkest of the dark, and you are always the shining City on the Hill, even if u.r. murdering children by the boatload, ditto; that if the individual counts for everything, and the community counts for nothing ('socialism, OMG!'), you will finally destroy the very fabric of your so-called society; etc.

Myself, I keep wondering how long I'm going to be allowed to say these things. But then, it reaches all of 100 people or so, so I don' think they are too worried abt it at the NSA.

Jesus, how the fuck did it come to this?

mb

10:26 AM  
Anonymous Stone said...

An important book regarding the phenomenon of multiple killings:

Mark Ames, "Going Postal: Rage, Murder and Rebellion from Reagan’s Workplaces to Clinton's Columbine" (2005).

To get a sense of how far this phenomenon reaches politically speaking, see Ames's article about Ayn Rand's relation to a serial killer, at exiledonline.com.

11:14 AM  
Blogger pinkpearl said...

@ mb and LarryA - Thanks for the book recs! Googling them put me on to a few others as well.

---

Re: the shootings, you've all said it all: Nothing is going to change, dead kids are the price Americans are willing to pay for their access to guns, and few people are seriously reflecting on how insane that is.

Betcha the malls are crowded today, what with their only being 9 shopping days left till Christmas. Now THAT is a priority.

12:10 PM  
Blogger Reader said...

Anonymous said, "One difference this time is the kids and the community are white so it may get more of response on some level."

Additionally, it is now reported that this family was quite wealthy and a "pillar" in the community. The shooter was so disturbed the mother took care of him, but this didn't stop her from not only owning the guns but she took him to the shooting range and taught him to shoot them. This family appears to be an exemplary model of a family in failed America.

Becoming an expat might just be a matter of running for our lives, literally.

My heart breaks and my tears fall for the children.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/cheats/2012/12/15/lanza-deeply-disturbed-kid.html

12:39 PM  
Anonymous ennobled little day said...

Dr. Berman and sanctuary!-

Thanks! I already own Schopenhauer's "The Wisdom of Life" and "Counsels & Maxims" (in a single volume). I figured it'd be easier to digest than some of his other work.

Also, I bought "A Question of Values" a couple of days ago. I believe it's the one that has the essay on Seinfeld. I'm looking forward to reading that one in particular.

Both books are on my list of things to read this winter break. If you see a youngish guy who kinda looks like Charlie Sheen reading either in an airport in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Denver or Indianapolis, you'll know it's me.

12:59 PM  
Anonymous Savantesimal said...

Another one! We are approaching one multiple shooting "incident" per day now!

Washington Post: Police kill man accused of shooting officer, 2 employees at Alabama hospital

A man opened fire early Saturday at a hospital in Alabama, wounding a police officer and two employees before being shot and killed by another officer, authorities said.

...

2:14 PM  
Anonymous Seth said...

It seems like every couple weeks a massacre like that that just happened in Newtown, CT occurs. And yes, Obama will refuse to discuss the possibility (the necessity, really) of tightening gun laws, or perhaps even making them illegal. No, Obama will shed crocodile tears for the victims and then refuse to take any action that might prevent this from happening again.

What is really disturbing is how many people think Obama's tears are genuine. They really do believe a man who is constructing the Keystone Pipeline - which, if built, will warm the Earth another 15 degrees or so, leading to the death of basically everything - would be saintly enough to weep for the death of people he never knew.

The lesson is this: if people are determined to believe something in spite of reality, there is basically nothing one can do to rouse them from their ignorance. If they want to believe crocodile tears, and not changes in gun ownership laws, are what will prevent another massacre, that's what they will believe dammit, reality be damned.

2:15 PM  
Anonymous Zero said...

MB,

You wrote: “Myself, I keep wondering how long I'm going to be allowed to say these things.”

As one who was raised in a totalitarian system, I think that is a very valid concern. During Ceausescu’s 25-year reign of terror in communist Romania, there were a handful of Romanian dissident writers and poets openly critical of the regime. Some of them were forced into exile abroad, others were jailed, and others were allowed to remain free in Romania or kept under house arrest. They were all persecuted, followed around, censored, marginalized, declared “non-persons”, stripped of their citizenship, and there were assassination attempts against some them. The ones jailed were usually tortured and beaten. However, what made the difference for most of them (but especially those who were jailed) and what probably kept them alive is that there was an active group of supporters living abroad who would frequently organize demonstrations, protests, and hunger strikes in front of the Romanian embassies in Washington and various European capitals in order to denounce the treatment of these dissidents.

As such, in case WAFers’ favorite writer gets carted away to Guantanamo and this blog is shut down, it might not be a bad idea for us to have an alternate way of getting in contact with one another, should it become necessary to organize protests in front of US embassies and US corporations in Moscow, Beijing, Caracas, Quito, Vienna, Geneva, etc. Seeing how quickly this country is moving toward totalitarianism, I am thinking it might not be a bad idea for WAFers to open a secure email address at a non-US site such as hushmail.com and share that with one another soon. What do you think, MB?

By the way, one such dissident writers is Paul Goma. He was also one of my inspirations while I was growing up in Romania. It is worth reading a little about his riveting life here, as it provides a glimpse at what ordeal likely await US dissidents in the not-so-distant future:

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

5:53 PM  
Anonymous TimR said...

Zero - thanks for link to Stone int., can't wait to watch it.

On the question of "why" these massacres happen, nobody ever thinks to ask whether the shooters are on some form of pharmaceutical drug. Seems relevant to me. Oh wait, pharma is kind of a big advertiser... Mustn't offend, mustn't offend... To be fair I don't know what the stats are, just speculating. I do know they've been involved in at least some of the cases, but it was never raised as a possible cause, just considered incidental.

6:09 PM  
Blogger salgal said...

Pinkpearl, can I steal your comment verbatim? It says it all.

8:04 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Day-

But I worry that it might be Charlie Sheen!

Sav-

Truth is, 0 wd chg even if there were a massacre a day in the US. And we may eventually get to that pt.

Seth-

Obama is chic, gives lofty speeches, and in fact is as sick as they come. He shreds the Bill of Rights, has people he doesn't like rubbed out, and kills children and innocent civilians in the Middle East on a regular basis. 53% of eligible voters voted for him last month, including 'progressives'. How's he different from G.W. Bush, again?

Julian-

Well, it can't hurt, tho I don't think anything is going to happen immediately. But if there is a sudden crunch, things might get very drastic overnight, including a dragnet sweep of dissidents. I can't imagine that there aren't plans in place for such a thing, tho I may be too little a fish to be on the list. You guys can also contact Chris Hedges on my behalf (via his publisher, Nation Bks), shd such a thing ever become necessary. Anyway, I hope I'm just being paranoid.

There usta be a joke during the Cold War I thought was very true: In the USSR, you are not allowed to speak your mind, but if you do, the impact is enormous. In the USA, you can say anything you want; it won't make a bit of difference.

mb

9:19 PM  
Anonymous Daniel Mune said...

Seth: “Obama will refuse to discuss … tightening gun laws, or perhaps even making them illegal. No, Obama will shed crocodile tears for the victims. What is really disturbing is how many people think Obama's tears are genuine”

It is easy to blame Obama on the problem created by the founding fathers inside the US constitution. Even if Obama suspends the constitution and bans the sale of all guns from today, what of the guns already in the hands of millions of Americans? How does he force Americans to return the guns? Be real in your criticism because Obama did not create this problem!

Morris Berman: Obama “kills children and innocent civilians in the Middle East on a regular basis. 53% of eligible voters voted for him last month, including 'progressives'. How's he different from G.W. Bush, again?”
Therein lies the source of the culture of guns and violence in America. America spends more money on guns, military, and bombs than the rest of the entire world combined. The US Senate is full of who? The US House is full of who?

Seth, note these things: Mitt Romney pledged to spend almost $3 billions on military guns that experts at the Pentagon say they do not need, and yet about 76% of whites voted for him. Admit that America is full of hypocrites and people full of self-hate, vengeance, aggression, etc. That Adam Lanza shot his own mother says a lot on the level of self-hate. Remember how Americans soldiers were shown urinating on dead Afghan soldiers – I mean why this kind of self-immolation? Karma is catching up with you faster than you think, and there is nothing you can really do about it.

11:26 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

Julian said: Seeing how quickly this country is moving toward totalitarianism...

I see it as already there, but in a much more subtle and diabolically effective form than the totalitarians of old could ever dream of (see Sheldon Wolin Inverted Totalitarianism.) The old type just isn’t needed anymore and is too disruptive to commerce. You don’t need a Goebbels when you’ve got a few dozen David Brooks types. That’s the genius of our system, if I was running it I wouldn’t change a thing.

MB said: In the USA, you can say anything you want; it won't make a bit of difference.

That’s the key as to why there won’t be any kind of dramatic heavy handed sweep of dissidents. We’ve already talked about how pointless this would be since so few people even know that C Hedges, Chomsky, Dr B and the WAFers exist.

As for as mass shootings, very soon these events will soon only be reported on The Weather Channel, like tornado outbreaks. And why not, since Americans just view them as acts of God, beyond any human control.

TimR --Thanks for the David Graeber vid...he’s on my radar now.

9:12 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

I've been too angry & sickened by the latest shooting to comment much. What would I possibly have to add? So much of the online/pundit discussion seems to be the equivalent of arguing over what brand of aspirin to prescribe for inoperable cancer.

Of course you've all seen plenty of people suggesting that teachers should be armed. Some even said that students should be armed. 40 years ago this was the punchline of Archie Bunker's solution to plane hijackings, just an idiotic, reductio ad absurdum joke. Now?

As for Charles Reich, I can't be too hard on him. Obviously his book was his way of coming to terms with his own life. The Green future he envisioned was a beautiful dream. But the thing about dreams, however beautiful & moving, is that you have to wake up from them at some point & face the real world.

9:20 AM  
Anonymous Susan W. said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

I recently read a book on Thomas Merton's analysis of America and the violence and crimes committed in the 20th century. He believed modernity itself was facing a nervous breakdown b/c of the internal contradictions (hypocrisy), dehumanization of individuals, isolation, and lack of any spiritual center. A brief quote:

"The 20th century was revealing itself to be great and solemn revelation of the chaotic forces inside everybody. We had to face it for what it was -- a global spiritual crisis. All the inner force of humanity was exploding outward, the good together with the evil. Or as Merton so eloquently described it: "the good poisoned by the evil and fighting it, the evil pretending to be good and revealing itself in the most dreadful crimes, justified and rationalized by the purest and most innocent intentions." In such a world it was the monk's task to defend the common conscience of ordinary people and stand with them against the sophisticated idols of the new Promethean Age."

While America is certainly setting the standard for senseless, random violence, a Chinese student recently told me this is happening in China too but it's simply not reported due to fear of copy-cat crimes and not wanting the world to know their society is also troubled.



9:39 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

What an empty, meaningless douche bag. This, while he's killing kids in the Middle East:

http://www.cnn.com/video/?hpt=hp_c2#/video/politics/2012/12/15/obama-weekly-radio-address.cnn

9:56 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: Here's another 'isolated' problem (basically, just another way of killing kids):

http://www.cnn.com/2012/12/14/health/kentucky-overdoses/index.html?hpt=hp_t3

10:04 AM  
Anonymous Zero said...

WAFers,

As I mentioned in my post above (under “Zero”), if you wish to share an email address so we can keep in contact with each other, should this blog be shut down by the emerging totalitarian state in the US, please email me an email address. I will make a list of those who email me, and then share it with all of us (if you specify that you want your address to be shared).

What I recommend is that you open an anonymous secure free email account with hushmail.com (or hush.com), because their servers are not in the US and they do not have a record of the passwords, thus cannot read your emails. The only restriction with the free address at hushmail.com is that you need to log in at least once every 3 weeks in order to keep the account active. I have just opened such an email account, so if you want to share your email address, please email me at:

licurici1001@hush.com

Julian

11:41 AM  
Anonymous Charlie Van said...

Von I. Meyer Arrested: Indiana School Threatened By Man Owning 47 Guns

CEDAR LAKE, Ind. -- Authorities say an Indiana man who had 47 guns and ammunition in his home has been arrested after allegedly threatening to kill people at an elementary school near his home.

Cedar Lake police were called to the home of 60-year-old Von I. Meyer early Friday after he allegedly threatened to set his wife on fire. A police statement says Meyer also said he would enter Jane Ball Elementary School and "kill as many people as he could."

Authorities found 47 guns and ammunition worth over $100,000.

Prosecutors filed felony intimidation charges against Meyer on Saturday, one day after the massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. He is being held without bond.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/16/von-meyer-indiana-school-guns_n_2311717.html

1:16 PM  
Anonymous AA Burke said...


In this country, you can legally buy assault weapons. What does that say about us?

Think about it. We have a national legislative body that fears the clout of the National Rifle Assn. more than it worries about the consequences of allowing people to buy weapons designed for war.

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-1216-lopez-guns-20121216,0,4562115.column

1:31 PM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

The chatterati are all over TV & the Internet today, rehashing the same tired arguments, studiously avoiding any critique of our culture, basically saying to the next generation: "We surrender. Your future will be one of ever-increasing violence, PTSD, endlessly gnawing fear, without any hope of safety any time or any place. We can do nothing to help you or save you. We can guarantee nothing except that things will get progressively worse & worse & worse."

Let Alexander Pope say it:

Lo! thy dread empire, Chaos! is restor'd;
Light dies before thy uncreating word:
Thy hand, great Anarch! lets the curtain fall;
And universal darkness buries all.

3:00 PM  
Blogger LittleBrother said...

"The manager displayed a beautiful resignation. I fretted and fumed and took to arguing with myself whether or no I would talk openly…; but before I could come to any conclusion it occurred to me that my speech or my silence, indeed any action of mine, would be a mere futility. What did it matter what anyone knew or ignored? What did it matter who was manager? One gets sometimes such a flash of insight. The essentials of this affair lay deep under the surface, beyond my reach, and beyond my power of meddling."

· Joseph Conrad, "Heart of Darkness"
__

From an e-mail written the other day:

The Big News Story here is another slaughter of the innocents.

What strikes me apart from the heartbreaking horror is that conventional mass media, corporate/mainstream and "alternative" alike, still clings to normative coverage with terms that are no longer operative: "unspeakable", "unthinkable".

What adult who pays any attention to the Amerikan status quo doesn't find this to be an ordinary, if not everyday, occurrence by now? How is it "unthinkable"? And especially how can it be called "unspeakable", since reporters and media analysts and pundits earnestly blow off their big bazoos ad infinitum about such incidents?

I just now got a "special" e-mail about the shooting from CommonDreams listing contributions from the Usual Suspects-- Randall Amster to Abby Zimet. The hand-wringing analysis proceeds apace.

I appreciate that it's a normal, reflexive coping strategy to intellectualize heinous atrocities. But, if nothing else, it should be perfectly clear by now that the vaunted Second Amendment is a wide-open Pandora's Box.

It's inconceivable that at this late date, the lid of that box can be weighed or tied down with reform legislation, aka "gun control laws".

The malignant tumor of Amerikan gun-nuttery is fully metastasized, and a vociferous plurality across the political spectrum regards the box as a kind of Wishing Well; where the right to bear arms is concerned, reactionary wingnuts make common cause with gun-lovin' liberals, progressives, and self-styled leftists.

I am equally skeptical towards the well-intentioned call to drastically beef up mental health care institutions and services to detect (catch) and treat (cure) potential homicidal maniacs before they act out-- not least because the Big Pharma meds which have become all the rage for decades now are just as likely to induce homicidal violence as reduce it.

And then there's the pursuit of all of the chimerical questions about the perpetrator's "motives", etc. It's a farce, a protective delusion reinforcing the pretense that if we learn enough factual details, and analyze them diligently enough, we'll discover some satisfactory explanation and/or solution to the problem.

The horses of the apocalypse are out of the barn, and won't be reasoned back inside.

Finally, there's the galling spectacle of President Obama pretending to be overwrought.

It's just as well that I'm at home alone today. If I were among people, I probably wouldn't be able to stop myself from expressing this cynical opinion aloud. And that would surely appall anguished Normals.

One can quibble over whether someone in Obama's position has such a warped, fractured consciousness that they experience what seems to them an authentic emotional reaction. But given his serene enthusiasm for authorizing and perpetrating his own homicides, retail and wholesale, I have to regard his crocodile tears as just another professional performance.

There's no punch line to this. I'm just bummed by the atrocity and meta-bummed by the atrocious ripple effects. It's long past time to concede that terminally deranged persons going on homicidal rampages is a feature, not a bug, in Amerika's nominally "free", gun-saturated society. The horror, the horror...

3:34 PM  
Blogger Reader said...

Zero,

I thought the hushmail idea interesting so did a quick search, found this. Maybe not so private/safe anymore?

"Hushmail has turned over cleartext copies of private e-mail messages associated with several addresses at the request of law enforcement agencies under a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty with the United States.[5]
An example of this behavior is in the case of U.S. v. Tyler Stumbo.[6][5][7] In addition, the contents of emails between Hushmail addresses were analyzed, and a total of 12 CDs were turned over to US authorities.

4:00 PM  
Anonymous Marcos3 said...

Here is the sobering list. Read it and weep

Eric Harris age 17 (first on Zoloft then Luvox) and Dylan Klebold aged 18 (Colombine school shooting in Littleton, Colorado), killed 12 students and 1 teacher, and wounded 23 others, before killing themselves. Klebold’s medical records have never been made available to the public.

Jeff Weise, age 16, had been prescribed 60 mg/day of Prozac (three times the average starting dose for adults!) when he shot his grandfather, his grandfather’s girlfriend and many fellow students at Red Lake, Minnesota. He then shot himself. 10 dead, 12 wounded.

Cory Baadsgaard, age 16, Wahluke (Washington state) High School, was on Paxil (which caused him to have hallucinations) when he took a rifle to his high school and held 23 classmates hostage. He has no memory of the event.

Chris Fetters, age 13, killed his favorite aunt while taking Prozac.

Christopher Pittman, age 12, murdered both his grandparents while taking Zoloft.

Mathew Miller, age 13, hung himself in his bedroom closet after taking Zoloft for 6 days.

Jarred Viktor, age 15, stabbed his grandmother 61 times after 5 days on Paxil.

Kip Kinkel, age 15, (on Prozac and Ritalin) shot his parents while they slept then went to school and opened fire killing 2 classmates and injuring 22 shortly after beginning Prozac treatment.

Luke Woodham, age 16 (Prozac) killed his mother and then killed two students, wounding six others.

It is about 4 pages, so continue here:

http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-colorado-batman-shooter-de-mystifying-mass-murder-in-america/32135

6:30 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Shootings like those in Newtown should no longer surprise us any more, as Americans have made a religion out of violence. Our films glorify torture, our President kills civilians in secret through drone strikes, and many people own guns. When Obama came close to crying as he discussed the tragic event in Newtown, I had to ask myself, does he not have any tears for the innocent victims of drone strikes whose lives he regularly kills? Now the US military is even targeting children in Afghanistan.

Should we really be surprised any more at the regular mass killings any more? It seems to me like is a case of "mission creep," with the same militarized brutality practiced on people outside America's borders coming home to roost behind them.

7:07 PM  
Anonymous ennobled little day said...

I have some background in pharmacology, so I have some opinions about this...

(Although, my memory is a bit hazy, so don't be surprised if there are some inaccuracies.)

Usually, when someone gets on SSRIs their depression doesn't subside until a month or two after taking the first pill. If you start getting manic or something soon after taking that first pill, that's probably a sign that you may be bipolar. At that point, you should be taken off the SSRI and put on a non-SSRI antidepressant (often Wellbutrin). Later on you may need to be put on mood stabilizers.

I'm inclined to think this (the Lanza mass shootings) may be a case of psychiatric malpractice. I obviously don't know, though, since I'm just some random guy relying on the news media for all the details.

7:43 PM  
Blogger LittleBrother said...

Afterthought:

There's an apocryphal, but hilariously ironic anecdote told about Pancho Villa: as the Mexican revolutionary was about to be shot, he found himself unexpectedly struck speechless. Villa supposedly turned to some newspapermen on the scene and implored, “Don’t let it end like this! Tell them I said something.”

This, I think, is the true significance of the babble of hysterically solemn discourse emitted by the mass-media commentariat and Amerikan intelligensia following domestic shooting-sprees.

There's a collective impulse, or sense of duty, to say something that's ostensibly insightfully constructive, regardless of how vacuous, trite, or absurd it actually may be.

First of all, it's their job; they're paid to "say something". Furthermore, if they don't, some abstract audience, e.g. "the public", or "history", may condemn them as reprehensibly cynical, or apathetic, or cowardly, or intellectually and morally bankrupt.

Thus, the collective determination to "say something", to preserve one's dignity in the face of imminent catastrophe rather than risk a profound silence.

Meanwhile, "The Onion" gets to the dark heart of the matter far more honestly than the Serious Grownups' mass-media reporting and tendentious pseudo-analysis.

See what you think:

Fuck Everything, Nation Reports

Right To Own Handheld Device That Shoots Deadly Metal Pellets At High Speed Worth All Of This

11:02 PM  
Anonymous Savantesimal said...

It's not surprising that Hushmail has turned over information to US authorities. Canada is not exactly the ruled by the official opposition to capitalism. There are very few "privacy services" online that cannot be searched on demand by US authorities. That's why it's best to rely on distributed systems like Tor, which was originally an acronym for "The Onion Router" but now it's just the name of the system. Besides providing a way to avoid direct surveillance of your Internet activities ("traffic analysis") it also gives access to special services through it's completely anonymous "hidden services" network. Among those services are some email providers somewhat like Hushmail, but more secure.

The Tor Project

11:50 PM  
Anonymous Seth said...

Morris,

I agree with you completely. That was the point of my post :). Obama is definitely like G. W. Bush, but I'd say he's worse, because of the number of countries he's at war with, and the magnitude of the transfer of wealth upwards that resulted from his "bailouts". And the Keystone Pipeline...don't even get me started on that.

I'm pretty disturbed how most Americans *know* what the results of a completed Keystone Pipeline would be (doomsday global warming scenario in the future), and *continue* to regard Obama as capable of shedding sincere, saintly tears for the victims of Newtown (whom he never knew).

Well, this is why I plan on leaving America. You're lucky you got out when you did, before things got to this point.

11:19 AM  
Blogger Andrew Campbell said...

Unfortunately, we don’t have control over how our country is directed. All we can do is plug away daily, make sure we have a roof over our heads and food on the table, try to pay off our debts… you know the drill! For me, I try not to let all the politics of survival bring me down, by immersing myself in the fantasy lives of the silver screen. It may seem superficial and somewhat childish, but hey! We all have to hold onto something that makes us feel good…

6:00 AM  

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