December 23, 2012

The Washington Times Interview

http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/conscience-realist/2012/dec/22/morris-berman-americas-culture-me-myself-and-i/

and

http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/conscience-realist/2012/dec/23/morris-berman-true-believers-and-american-dreams-d/

Merry Xmas!

200 Comments:

Anonymous sanctuary! said...

As a dedicated WAFer, for me 'tis the season to scan the news for tramplings. So far this solistice, no major stampede of Walmart shoppers over bodies dead or otherwise has come to my attention. Instead, what we get are these gosh-darn irrelevant reports about random shootings in various states of the union. Where are the darn tramplings?

On a serious note, Merry Whatever to all, and I'm excited about grabbin' a copy o' Straw to Gold. Wonder if we can throw a trampling of our own when the book comes out?

8:55 PM  
Anonymous JWO said...

Good interview, I hope it introduces a few more people to the blog and DAA/WAF/AQoV.

Congratulations on the book contract (previous post's comments) and I wish you and all WAF-ers good cheer and a good 2013!

9:16 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Sanc-

As u know, I'm a big fan of tramplings. Now the publisher of the bk is in Portland OR, and I'm trying to work out some West Coast lectures so I can get there in early April. I figure that if we announce the book launch for Powell's Bks, at least 500,000 people will show up; which guarantees some pretty heavy trampling. Hope 2 c.u. there (wear a metal suit).

Merry Xmas!

mb

10:04 PM  
Blogger LJansen said...

Re tour: I've heard Portland in April is divine!

But Seattle is dreamy too, you know.

11:51 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

LJ-

Indeed, and in fact, Antioch U. invited me to come and speak. Problem is raising $ for the trip, wh/they are currently trying to do. There's also a possibility of San Fran and Vancouver, but these are dependent on $ as well. I find it really annoying that I don't have large blocks of capital in numbered Swiss accounts.

mb

3:38 AM  
Anonymous Zero said...

I enjoyed reading the interview, and as usual, you point out the problems facing this nation. Yet, I could not help but notice that all reader comments dealt with defending Werner Erhard and his “est”. Nothing else from your interview registered with any of them. I think we might have to come up with a different term, because “dolts” just doesn’t do them justice anymore.

4:13 AM  
Blogger Zosima said...

Let’s all see if we can all help get you that Tuscan dream villa and ample travel cash, by researching the Mittney of ‘16. You can call your masterpiece, “The Adventures of Huckabee Dimwit.” If that title don't fetch them, I don't know Arkansaw!

http://livewire.talkingpointsmemo.com/entry/huckabee-schools-place-of-carnage-because-we-systematically

4:58 AM  
Blogger Cj said...

Great interview Professor! Sure to win you many new fans ;).

In regards to spirituality, are you familiar with Kramer and Alstadt's work "The Guru Papers"?

I'm probably one of the few that think this one of the most spiritual books I've ever read.

Appreciate your comments on Gowan's Soviet Union article. It stood me on my head as well. Perhaps the situation wasn't as rosy as Gowans portrayed but then again perhaps it wasn't as grim as portrayed in an 'unbiased' US media.

Hope you're doing well. I greatly appreciate your work and humor.

Chuck

9:38 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Julian-

Yeah, how ironic that was. It reminds me of emails I get: I write that Americans are angry and stupid, and then I get angry and stupid emails from them! Guess they showed *me*! In this case, you have a text on the pervasiveness of narcissism; 'est' gets just a passing mention in a larger discussion of much more serious stuff; and all the 'esties' care about is their own personal experience with est! It proves very little abt est in general, but more to the pt, it reveals that in fact, their understanding of the world is purely an individual one; only what affects them is real. Erhard, of course, provided no sociological understanding of the world because he had none himself: the program was his own hodge-podge of Zen and Heidegger, both of which are notoriously amoral (in fact, if either of them lean in any political direction, it's toward fascism--which is how, according to widespread testimony, Erhard treated his employees and subordinates). So naturally, his adoring fans can't think in any larger terms themselves--as is the case w/most Americans. The philosophy was essentially one of individual 'responsibility', and thus, as in the case of Oprah, meshed extremely well w/mainstream American ideology and eventually, Reaganism. And these bozos have no self-awareness at all! There is no understanding the fact that with an article that excoriates "Me, Myself, and I," if you respond in exactly those terms you are making the author's case. Beyond esties, who gives a damn abt est anymore? Yr rt, "dolts" is becoming far too mild a term. (Brace yrself for the flood of posts now, esties screaming and jumping up and down. This cd be worse than the Civil War and the attack of the trolls we had a while back. There is literally no end to American stupidity; it's a bottomless pit. I keep running this blog why?)

One thing I did admire abt Erhard, which was widely reported in articles abt est, and wh/an estie friend of mine in San Fran in the 70s told me about: he wd come into a 'seminar' of 250 people and declare: "You're all assholes!" And then 250 people would jump up and down screaming, "I am not an asshole." My friend Bruce's comment on this was: "Imagine: a guy enters the room and accuses everyone of being assholes, and then they proceed to prove he's right!" I guess not much has changed since 1978.

Man, when I say there's no hope for this country--Why do people keep doubting that? Oh, right: because only *they* are the important issue.

mb

9:42 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Chuck-

Yes, I did read that bk some yrs ago. Meanwhile, I'll get back 2u on Gowans when I hear a bit more from Rick Wolff.

Meanwhile, here's some more on US going down the toilet:

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/coaches_over_the_common_good_20121221/

mb

10:06 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: speaking of the destruction of the common good, this cartoon recently appeared in El Universal (Mexico City):

http://www.truthdig.com/cartoon/item/cell_phone_creep_20121223/

10:19 AM  
Anonymous bart said...

mb asks: "I keep running this blog why?"

As you've noted, it has little impact on the larger culture but it's of great importance to the lives and thoughts of the people who are following your writing.

Note the small irony that the Sirota piece is accompanied by an ad for NCAA football.

11:09 AM  
Anonymous TimR said...

Re: Turning economics on its head - I can't comment to the accuracy of Cj's article, but for some economic writing that exposes the mainstream dogma as just that, everyone should read up at least a little bit on MMT. This is an alternative school of econ., mainly linked with a group of academics at the Univ. of Missouri, Kansas City (which is where TPTB evidently banish all the contrarians.) They explain how both the Dems and Repubs are trapped in a false econ. paradigm, believing wrongly that a sovereign state is the same as a household and must keep to a budget or go bust. In fact, if the govt sector is in surplus, it means the private sector is in deficit; and vice versa. They call themselves "deficit owls", as opposed to the "deficit hawks" (Reps) and "deficit doves" (Dems). The doves accept the terms of the debate as set by the hawks, and merely argue for a softer version of austerity, or austerity later but not right now. The owls recognize that both views are the same and no help to problems of unemployment, etc. The website New Economic Perspectives has details for anyone interested.

12:31 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dear Wafers:

As predicted, rt on schedule, the buffoons are checking in to defend est. And signing in anonymously, of course. I tell u, it doesn't matter *what* u say. You write that they are predictable, and then, guess what? They do what u predicted! There finally is no upper limit to stupidity in this country. I love it; I literally can't get enuf of it. To quote Gore Vidal (as I have b4): "Stupidity excites me."

Tim-

Sounds gd to me!

mb

1:17 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and fellow Wafers,

Wishing all a Happy Holiday and good cheer!

Thanks for the Washington Times interviews and, as usual, your ability to get to the heart of the matter. I look forward to the new book. I especially like the subtitle; it says it all. I will certainly gather as many as I can to "trample" to the bookstore when it becomes available.

1:22 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jeff-

Many thanks, and Merry Xmas. If u cd video the stampede, I'd really appreciate it. I'm trying to arrange a World Anti-Buffoon Conference for 2014, and we could screen it there.

Meanwhile, yet another Anonymous buffoon attack about est! These folks are too much. You say they have kaka in their heads, and instead of shrugging their shoulders and walking away, they show u that they have kaka in their heads. I guess when yr dealing w/morons, it doesn't matter *what* you say! It's like robotic programming; which is the take many of the folks I knew back in San Fran, who took est, said it was ultimately about. The proof is in the blogging, I guess. I suspect they are unable to stop themselves. Ya gotta love them.

mb

2:06 PM  
Anonymous Savantesimal said...

The loonies are really coming out of the woodwork now. Firefighters shot responding to a fire in what was apparently a deliberate ambush. The NRA response to this one should be interesting. Will they demand armed escort for fire fighters now?

Reuters: Two N.Y. firefighters shot dead in ambush

A gunman shot dead two volunteer firefighters and injured two others when he ambushed them at the scene of an early morning housefire in a suburb of Rochester, New York, authorities said on Monday.

The gunman, who also died, opened fire around 5:45 am as firefighters responded to reports of a house blaze in the town Webster, about 16 miles outside of downtown Rochester, according to law enforcement officials.

Another two firefighters were injured in the shooting and were rushed to Strong Memorial Hospital, where they remained in "guarded" condition, according to a hospital spokeswoman. A third victim, an off-duty police officer, was hit by stray gunfire as he was driving by the scene.

"It does appear that it was a trap that was set for... first responders," Webster Police Chief Gerald Pickering said at a press conference carried by local television.

...

2:50 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Sav-

What can I tell u? I was born in Strong Memorial Hospital. But as events like this accelerate--and they will--we will get to the pt that we are eating ourselves alive. I'm guessing we are rt on the edge of that, now. (It's possible that much of this stuff is unreported. Certainly, not too many people care abt it, I'm guessing.)

As for latest est-buffoon bulletin: yup! Rt on schedule, another Anonymous one in response to my latest message that they have shit-for-brains. What a country. Imagine spending all yr time and energy worrying abt what some no-account blog says abt yr little pet belief-system. Maybe I shd take on the vegans next, just for the helluva it. We're drowning in douche bags, amigos; no hay remedio.

mb

3:24 PM  
Anonymous Seth said...

I understand why something like EST - something that doesn't really work - would be so important to a group of narcissistic morons. The reason is this:
1.) It was novel in its day, which is a precondition for anything to be successful in America;
2.) It involved a white person as the leader rather than, say, a Tibetan or Indian person, even though the latter is far more likely to be a genuine spiritual person (Chopra doesn't count, he's American as apple pie);
3.) It has no moral or ethical content; and
4.) While claiming to provide enlightenment and fulfillment, it doesn't actually provide any of either, for if it did, it would break the American habit of endless consumption - and Erhard wouldn't have been able to continue selling books and making money.

As for why Morris Berman got so many angry responses from the EST people, it's because Americans do, and always have, worshipped their leaders (not just political leaders) with great emotional attachment, and consequently, are naturally irrational people with an inherent bent toward fascism.

3:38 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Seth-

We're back to The True Believer, I guess. The fixation here, the compulsion, is truly impressive; one can see why this country is totally fucked. Anyway, I'm braced for the next wave of moronic posts, finger poised over the Delete button. Have on, buffoons! What else shd u be doing w/yr lives?

mb

3:51 PM  
Blogger Harriett Diller said...

Dr. Berman,

You may enjoy this brief video in which your book, DARK AGES AMERICA, makes a cameo appearance. My son made this in his film class.

Harriett

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OWbVA614KFc

3:54 PM  
Anonymous Kevin said...

Re TimR and Modern Monetary Theory (MMT):

- Yes, not the usual economic dogma but dogma nevertheless.

- From what I know, the problem with MMT is that its proponents are still Keynesians and believe in inifinite growth in a finite world. Yes, more humane policies perhaps but what does it matter in the end? (I'm currently reading - and laughing at - Joseph Stiglitz's book "Freefall." While (often) correctly analyzing the cause of many economic problems, e.g. securitization creating more moral hazard risk than the credit risk it eliminated through diversification, he really misses the big picture: he thinks everything would be fine if the world could just get growth going again by increaing global aggregate demand!)

- The "household is not a nation state" argument is made well by Steve Kean, whose "Debunking Economics" appears to be a good book. (It's high on my reading list; I can only recommend it from what I've heard.) He did a good podcast with the Extraenvironmentalists (as did Prof. Berman) - google it to find the episode. Kean is a follower of Hyman Minsky.

4:47 PM  
Blogger pinkpearl said...

Hmmmm... criticizing a cult in a newspaper with its own cult associations...things were bound to get weird!

5:41 PM  
Anonymous Xiale said...

On this blog American collapse is a given, but one aspect that may be overlooked is the very idea of childhood in this collapsing empire. I'm always struck by the lack of children playing in the street with other children. Surely much of this can be put down to video games, television, and the general lack of community that permeates this society. I have not seen any research on this phenomenon, but on the surface it seems to truncate socialization, while extending the idea of individualism. Perhaps Postman's Disappearance of childhood is fully here, and if so, how can an American revival be a serious thought?

7:33 PM  
Anonymous Zero said...

MB,

From the little I know about it, this “est” thing I gather it’s a totally bizarro cult. I once knew a lady who got mixed up in it. As a result, in only a few years she changed from a devout Catholic mother into a complete psycho. She abandoned her family, children, and church, ruined her career, and moved to California to be with the other wackos in her est cult. About 8 or 9 years ago I met one of her daughters, who told me her mother kept getting into even weirder cults than est, had a couple of illegitimate children in the process, ended up homeless, and spent her days obsessing about things like Nostradamus, Edgar Cayce, ghosts, witchcraft, spirit guides, etc. And it all started with est.

As a psychologist I have to say that “est” sounds like a very dangerous brainwashing swindle. But I must admit, it’s the ideal religion for the American people because it fits perfectly with their HPD (Hustling Personality Disorder).

Merry Christmas, MB!

Julian

9:46 PM  
Blogger LJansen said...

MB, I went to look up Esalen to see if we could rent it for your WAFer tour.

No such luck. Apparently, EST is still going! Who wudda thunk it?

But the ESTers must be sad. Google said: "Highway 1 currently closed both north and south of Esalen due to rockslides."

Will they take this as a sign?

11:23 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Harriett-

Too brief! But I'm flattered anyway. I trust he got an A.

Kevin-

I have the same problem w/Stiglitz and Krugman. They are great analysts, but ultimately want to save capitalism. Like Keynes, or FDR, I guess. The only real solution is to step out of the box, and declare the box a dead end. The only realistic future we have, I suspect, is steady-state eco-sustainable no-growth non-profit. But very few can imagine that, we won't embrace it voluntarily, and it will eventually be forced on us because our backs will be to the wall and there will be no place else to go. Interesting, tho, that after 40 yrs, "Limits to Growth" (Donella Meadows) remains the #1 best-selling environmental bk.

Pink-

Yeah, yr rt; I shoulda taken a swipe at the Moonies instead. But really, who gives a shit abt any of these cults? Why are we even talking abt them? I think I'm going to insult the Latvian Orthodox Church, see how excited they get. Or maybe bowling leagues. est is about as interesting as warmed-over dog turds. We need to retire this subject.

Xiale-

I played in the street w/other kids, but that was in the 50s. They paved the street (it was brick), people installed air conditioners (and thus went inside, in the summer), and in general the acceleration of capitalist society from 1960 on polished off what was left of the community. "Progress" (They also ripped out the trolley system and replaced it w/expressways. Everything was concrete, everything was life-killing. Talk abt ugly--and socially destructive.)

Julian, LJ-

Keep in mind that in a country that has no real spiritual center, the citizens are going to be desperate for redemption. What else wd one expect?

mb

1:35 AM  
Anonymous Joe doesn't know said...

Enjoyed the interviews, Maestro. I must admit that I knew little of est until I read about it after your mention of it. It certainly does sound like Rand warmed over, and at its core, seems to be about selfishness and cruelty. I, too, found it pretty ridiculous that all the comments after the article were from ESTies defending their philosophy with vigor, and when I read such things as "est changed my life 37 years ago", I realized what poor schmucks these folks are.
Instead of EST, how about workshops to develop a philosophy that talks about taking responsibility for the welfare of others and making that top priority? Geez. Never in a million years. I, as a fellow psychologist, concur with Julian. Sounds cultish. In fact, I'll go a step further and say it sounds like horseshit.

2:51 AM  
Blogger Zosima said...

This book review by Eric Boyer is superb, concise, and gives needed historical context to the phenomenon.

http://www.rickross.com/reference/est/est35.html

“Even in a field not noted for clarity of language, est-speak was exceptionally leaden and jargon-clogged.”

A sure sign that I’m dealing with with liars and frauds in nearly any area, is their use of “exceptionally leaden and jargon-clogged” language. It’s always a bad sign, when people refuse to speak clearly.

3:01 AM  
Anonymous tam said...

Thanks for the links, Doc! Always such a treat (and privilege!) to hear more from you! Can't wait to savor!

Below is a copy of what I posted in my FB status today. (I had had a momentary lapse, forgetting what you quoted regarding "whenever 2 Americans get together, they each know the other is trying to sell something." I really could kick myself for temporarily disremembering that! :) )

~Why I won't be responding with enthusiasm the next time I receive an invitation.~

About five years ago, a co-worker approached me, handing me a written invitation to a party at her house. I didn't know her very well, and felt honored that she wanted to include me. I gushed a few thank-yous, and after she walked away, I opened the card, and saw that it was an invitation to some sort of product-peddling event she was holding.

It was not the first time that I had been approached with this type of invitation. It was also not the first time that I looked into someone's eyes, thanking them, flattered to be invited and looking forward to attending a social event, only to discover that it was a commercial endeavor.

I remember telling myself then: this is the last time that you get excited about any invitation, coming from people you don't know well.

Well, just last week, a very good friend of mine (whom I know for two decades, and see a few times a year), called to invite me to an "Open House" at her place. I was not only glad to hear from her and get such an invite, but I was happy for her! She had suffered some grievous losses over the last years, and to hear that she was ready to open house and socialize again was heartwarming!

She told me she would send me the "details" of her Open House, via email.

I received the details. And, guess what? ... Yup, you guessed it. She is selling something. And the purpose of her "Open House" is to promote the product.

Hey, listen: I don't begrudge anyone from conducting business and earning a living. But please stop pretending that you want to socialize, when what you're really after is to target "consumers."

Thank you for reading (if you have). Merry Christmas! (And no, there is no ulterior motive in my best wishes to you for a healthy and happy Christmas!)

3:05 AM  
Anonymous Frankistein said...

David Sirota is onto something - whitemen are the problem in America today - they are the reason the country is going down the drain:

As USA Today documented, major football schools in 2012 “increased their athletics expenses at a greater rate than they increased their overall institutional expenses” on education. Additionally, 93 percent of Division I athletic programs spend more money than they generate, meaning money for education is often subsidizing coaches’ multi-million-dollar salaries, not the other way around.

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/coaches_over_the_common_good_20121221/

Yesterday, during a cable news discussion of gun violence and the Newtown school shooting, I dared mention a taboo truism. During a conversation on MSNBC’s “Up With Chris Hayes,” I said that because most of the mass shootings in America come at the hands of white men, there would likely be political opposition to initiatives that propose to use those facts to profile the demographic group to which these killers belong. I suggested that’s the case because as opposed to people of color or, say, Muslims, white men as a subgroup are in such a privileged position in our society that they are the one group that our political system avoids demographically profiling or analytically aggregating in any real way. Indeed, unlike other demographic, white guys as a group are never thought to be an acceptable topic for any kind of critical discussion whatsoever, even when there is ample reason to open up such a discussion.

http://www.salon.com/2012/12/17/would_the_u_s_government_profile_white_men/

10:16 AM  
Anonymous bart said...

Merry Xmas Everyone!

Just looking over Obama giving his supporters the finger for Xmas.

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/12/18

Note "Progressives were rightly outraged by Monday's announced offer."

They were really that stupid? They were expecting something else?

For an entire term as President, Obama has made it manifestly clear whose interests he supports and these dolts are shocked?

Yes, MB, the term "dolts" is an understatement.

10:50 AM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

Happy Horus & Isis times, WAFers !

Spending a month with family and friends here Deep in the Heart and chanced upon this video. I'd bet the event was planned well...either the kids' messages would stand or The System's response would provide an opportunity for some percentage of viewers to achieve enlightenment by witnessing a few self-evident truths.

Part 1
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-kEp6X4gX5A

Part 2
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2Wzao_2PSI

I guess if you wanna make a holiday punch, then sometimes you gotta break a few egg-noggins. Yeehaw.

11:19 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Merry Xmas, everyone. Hope yr having a gd day. I managed not to pork out at the party w/my Mexican family last nite, so am feeling fairly gd. It's just that this time of year is exhausting, for some reason; I find it hard to do much of anything. But I did go over Lilia's translation of poems in "Spinning Straw Into Gold" for the Spanish translation ("De paja a oro"). She has been the interpreter for the last 5 Mexican presidents, and we've been friends for 10 yrs now. She did a great job, so I'm happy about that. Now to make myself some tea and veg out on my couch, staring into space, perhaps drooling a bit. My life, in a nutshell.

Re: commentaries on est: we can probably lay this to rest, as I said; tho right on schedule, the esties are busy writing in to object to any offense to their Church. It doesn't really matter what I (or you) say; they'll probably be bombarding this blog for the next year. Jesus, Americans are so fucking dumb. How they waste their time, their lives. It takes yr breath away.

But that review by Paul Boyer (thank you Zosima) has a lot to say about why such a charlatan like Erhard got lionized (and why the esties writing in to this blog simply can't stop): the historical roots of the phenomenon in a hustling culture, a culture that revels in historical amnesia, and a people devoid of any meaning in their lives as a result, and thus desperate for it. But no such intellectual assessment can stop the phenomenon, which operates only on a primitive limbic level. So Boyer's review was written in 1993; nearly 20 years later, the broken and the pathetic are still going strong. Man, when I say there is no hope for the US, I mean NO hope (short of mass lobotomies).

tam-

Yes, this is "social life" in the US: hustling.

bart-

Yes, Americans are that stupid. They really, really are. IQ's got nothin' to do w/it.

Oh well...another dysfunctional year coming up in America, as the downward march continues, relentlessly.

O&D!

mb

11:42 AM  
Blogger LJansen said...

MB, forgot to say I really appreciated this jarring but demonstrably true idea from the article: "charity is basically the bourgeois version of justice."

12:24 PM  
Anonymous twig said...

Home Run Zosima!

Tks for the Boyer tip.

12:39 PM  
Anonymous Martin Ramirez said...

Good afternoon, WAFers. I wish I was not convinced myself, but el Gran Don Berman is certainly on the money about the Corporate States of Narcissistic Dunderheads. I sent his interview with Nomi Prins on Alternet to an American friend (I am a Mexican university student, but my family is highly Americanized in its customs) a few weeks ago, and his replies were “He just bashes America!” and “He is too full of doom and gloom.” Keep in mind, he has a very good reading level, is self-taught in literature and illustration and could be considered a quasi-expert in Chinese culture. Because I used to be like these clueless “good ‘Murikans” (and I am still learning to overcome my own moronic behavior), is there any hope I could make him “see the light” about his country’s social and institutional pathologies?
One more question: Where do the debates about whether television and video games are art, along with fandoms like this one (http://forums.fstdt.net/entertainment-and-television/my-little-pony-friendship-is-magic/), factor into the techno-buffoonery? I am very curious about it.
Thank you, and see you next week. Enjoy your life outside Gringolia, Morris.

1:10 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Martin-

Were we going to see each other next week? Where? Sorry for my failing memory. As for your American friend: he's not going to see the light about anything, because his head is filled with meat. (Check it out, do a biopsy.) However, one of the mottos on this blog is "Bad Is Good." If your friend had half a brain, along w/315 million other Americans, the country might have some hope. This wd not be gd, because it, along w/capitalism, need to go under. Hence, the more idiots, the better. Write him a thank-you note, in short; by not letting in a single ray of light, he is making an impt contribution to the historical process.

Meanwhile, more attacks from est-buffoons. As I said, they'll probably keep it up for another yr or so. This too will help the historical process. Jesus, what can one say in the face of such limbic density? "Thank you for your idiocy," I guess.

O&D-
mb

2:17 PM  
Anonymous Seth said...

Breaking News: some guy with the last name Spengler just killed his sister and a bunch of firemen and police officers with the same type of gun used in the Newtown killings. This guy left a note saying he was only "doing what he likes best: killing people".

But Obama will never, ever, ever, ever consider tightening gun ownership laws. He will shed more and more crocodile tears, but nothing will change for the better. In fact, I can see Obama *loosening* gun ownership laws in an effort to "allow citizens to effectively protect themselves from people like Lanza and Spengler", thus quoting the NRA's argument for the non-existance of gun ownership regulations almost word for word.

If this happens, American liberals will not bitch or moan; they will agree with this type of argument, ignore the fact that it has been used by the NRA for decades, make personal attacks against those that bring up this inconvenient fact, and claim that since it's being used by Saint Obama, it must be good and loving and conscientious and so Completely Moral.

I really don't understand how American liberals sleep at night.

5:51 PM  
Anonymous James44 said...

More to come too, as long as the destruction from the same quarter continues. I guess "We" must have to deal with the reality that wh insanity is in this house called Amewricano:

William Spengler, 62, who served 17 years in prison for manslaughter in the 1980 hammer slaying of his grandmother, set his house afire before dawn Christmas Eve before taking a revolver, a shotgun and a semiautomatic rifle to a sniper position outside, Police Chief Gerald Pickering said.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/25/william-spengler-set-trap_n_2362433.html

6:22 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Seth-

It's not that hard: they're douche bags.

mb

7:22 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: To answer yr question on a deeper level: Bernard Avishai, in his book "Promiscuous," says of the 'liberals' who show up on the Sunday morning talk shows and such, that their basic pitch is that happiness is a function of getting what you want. "In this view," he continues, "getting along means consuming goods, manipulating others' expectations to get them, [and] turning our lives into projects, so that the only important reality is appearance."

In short, they're douche bags.

7:42 PM  
Anonymous KickTheCan said...

Xiale said...

On this blog American collapse is a given, but one aspect that may be overlooked is the very idea of childhood in this collapsing empire. I'm always struck by the lack of children playing in the street with other children. Surely much of this can be put down to video games, television, and the general lack of community ...

MB said
Xiale-I played in the street w/other kids, but that was in the 50s. They paved the street (it was brick), people installed air conditioners (and thus went inside, in the summer), and in general the acceleration of capitalist society from 1960 on polished off what was left of the community. "Progress"...

This is a fascinating subject and really deserves a blog post of its own. I have to add that I grew up in the eighties and early nineties. We most certainly had video games (and air conditioning!). But video games were something you used in when it was raining outside, or you were waiting for your friends to come outside. We spent A LOT of time outside, and had a lot of fun. And 99 percent of the fun cost little to nothing. Nowadays, I almost never see kids outside. I think kids have always played outside because they are designed to play outside, it provides some sort of learning experience(s) crucial to a growing person.

10:31 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Kick-

One by-product of late-empire capitalism is the destruction of children, as well as the destruction of fun. For the historical roots of this, check out WAF ch. 3.

Thanks for writing,
mb

11:12 PM  
Anonymous Joe doesn't know said...

http://uk.news.yahoo.com/piers-unrepentant-face-59-000-petition-123737811.html

i'm really no fan of piers morgan (haven't seen enough of his show to make a decision, but he seems like a discourteous loudmouth, like most ppl in this country), but this is more O&D signs for my fellow WAFers. they want the guy deported for Christ's sake because of his political/gun rights views. Jesus, what a bunch of insane morons. so now if one holds a dissenting view, he/she should be thrown out of the country? Nice. had to pass this one on.

2:12 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Joe-

Well, perhaps he'll get off lightly, be deported. My own view is that for reasons of national security, anyone who voices a dissenting opinion should be rounded up and put in one of the detention camps (CMU's, or Communication Management Units) in Indiana or Illinois. We really can't be too zealous in the protection of our democracy.

As far as Wm Spengler, Adam Lanza, et al. go: let's not get confused and start thinking that this has any sociological dimension to it, i.e. is a by-product of the American Way of Life. It's nothing more than a matter of individual psychology or brain chemistry: psychotic loners going bezerk. Anyone who says otherwise is a threat to national security and needs to be put in a detention camp.

Finally: perhaps it's only a momentary breather, but the est-buffoons seem to have abated. They may have gone the way of the Civil War trolls, I dunno. But this has filled me w/a deep dread, because w/o being attacked by trolls and buffoons, I really don't know what can fill the Void, and I become suicidal. So I'm thinking that we should pick some target at random and insult it, see what happens. Two possible candidates I've already mentioned are

1. The Latvian Orthodox Church
2. Vegans

Wafers are invited to add to this list. When we arrive at a consensus, we can then formulate a nice insult, lie back, and watch the attacks roll in. My purpose in living will be restored.

Thank you all for participating in this exciting project.

mb

3:31 AM  
Anonymous Xiale said...

http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2012/12/21/the-higher-ed-bubble-is-very-very-real/

Talk about the commodification of education.

4:31 AM  
Anonymous Zero said...

MB,

For added enjoyment, may I suggest that we pick on a LARGER, and more “American” target? Possible candidates might include:

The Southern Baptist Church
The State of Texas
Kim Kardashian’s ass

Julian
PS – I was wondering, what do you think about Niall Ferguson’s overall ideas? He too seems to think America is a goner and the Dark Ares are at hand.

7:11 AM  
Blogger jml said...

i read this quote from the recent new yorker review of brad pitt's new movie "killing me softly":

"america is not a country, it's a fucking business. now give me my money."

seems to sum it all up in 3 short sentences.

one thing that struck me as i sat through the 20 minutes of previews for the movie 'lincoln' is that several of the new movies are exceptionally violent, more so than ever. and the feature big stars and lots of close ups of guns, as if they are fetishizing the gun. i know violence has been a part of american culture for a long time, but it seemed different. and i made this observation before the newtown shootings. i think in the coming years that america is going to become more violent, not less, despite the cries for gun control. too many people don't understand what has been done to them.

7:28 AM  
Blogger Barry Bliss said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9:25 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

jml-

There's no question that the US will become more violent in the next decade or so, esp. since we can expect an economic crunch larger than 2008. As the American Dream collapses, Americans will go completely batshit, since they have nothing else to hold themselves together. It ain't gonna be pretty.

Julian-

Problem w/those targets is that they are too large, too obvious--esp. Kim's rear end. We need something really trivial, off the radar screen, like est. That's why I think the Latvian Orthodox Church might be perfect. Let's not forget that George Costanza converted to that religion at one point; he was esp. enamored of the hats that the priests wore. As for Ferguson, I tried to read him but cdn't get very far, because he's apparently an apologist for empire. So the American one is not handling it's own very well, whereas England did (more or less), which was a gd thing; etc.

mb

9:34 AM  
Anonymous Kluggard said...

Joe doesn't know:
Jesus, what a bunch of insane morons. so now if one holds a dissenting view, he/she should be thrown out of the country?

Read two books:
1) The Culture of Vengeance and the Fate of American Justice
by Terry K. Aladjem

2) Animal Farm
by George Orwell

Then, you will understand why the first amendment applies ONLY when it protects the self-interests of SOME people. This is the most blatant form and source of violence in America since 1600s. Some people violate everything with impunity to get their way. It is always their way or no way. Talk about violence! This what their kinds learn from them: kill, violate, violence as a way of life.

9:57 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Barry-

Yr friend is sort of rt, but when he says "expanded," he really should be saying "Expanded." There's a ton of data I could hand him regarding diffs today vs. yesteryear: Lawrence Stone's study of literacy in the Colonies, e.g.; the fact that in the 19C, log cabins in the Midwest would always have a copy of Shakespeare on the shelves; the fact that in 1816, the city of Natchez, Miss. put on no less than 30 Shakespeare plays--etc. Todd Gitlin also did a study of what the best-seller list was in 1960 vs. 2000, and the drop in quality was phenomenal. The Expansion, in other words, is a quantum leap, esp. since the 1960s. Subjectively, someone such as myself can feel it all the time: conversations w/people have become vapid; univ. profs. tell me that freshman arrive not being able to read, and that they literally know nothing at all. You go into a cafe, and everyone's on a laptop or cell phone; newspapers are folding across the country; Borders is out of business, w/B&N soon to follow. When I was in high school, you really had to read and study; today, kids spit in the teacher's face and order pizza for classrm delivery on their cell phones...The list goes on and on, and it doesn't have much continuity w/the past. Some continuity, yes; but there is no doubt the diffs are far greater than the similarities. As one newscaster said in the wake of the Palin candidacy and her TV interviews, "We've never seen anything like this before."

You know, when I began doing the research on this for the Twilight book, I had no idea what was about to hit me. I was astounded by what I found, and it was hard to take in, because as an American I didn't want to face the fact that if this was our youth, then we simply had no future. I've heard the "it was the same before" argument many times, and I have to say that it probably reflects a desire not to have to stare reality in the face. If everything's the same, of course, then there's nothing to worry about, really. I'm sure your friend is being sincere, but I also think at bottom there's a form of psychological protection going on. Not that I don't sympathize.

mb

10:55 AM  
Anonymous TimR said...

Kevin (and all) -

People use MMT both to mean "a description of how the economy works", and "the policy preferences associated with people who analyze the economy using MMT ideas." Descriptive MMT imo is well worth anyone's time, as it "empowers" one to understand how things really work, *without* the ideological dogma/baggage that comes w most mainstream economic commentary (to analyze something does not imply an endorsement.) The mainstream of economics is actually a heavily ideological defense shield for the status quo, as many here are no doubt aware but may not be able to fully defend against without a superior analysis such as MMT. I agree that prescriptive MMT (using the system as is, but suggesting ways to use it for "good" instead of for "evil") no doubt has limitations. However, like Lietaer's idea of complementary currencies to give the system resiliency that I mentioned previously, it strikes me as a possible way to manage the transition to Something Else (assuming TPTB don't manage to surprise us and keep things going indefinitely) rather than stumbling blindly to our doom. MMTer's prescriptions (which vary among themselves, as I've said, and can be right-wing or left-wing for that matter) are not limited to being merely a more "humane" version of things as they are, but could be used explicitly to address the resource limitation issues you mention (specific policy ideas can be found in that community, one website being New Economic Perspectives.)

KickTheCan - I grew up in the 80s and 90s as well and shared a similar experience from what you say. Perhaps in addition to videogames etc, it's something to do w/ the scheduling and managed time kids have now? All that said, while I don't see *a lot* of kids playing these days, my niece plays w/ neighborhood kids (in a middleclass suburb.) And in my neighborhood there are "apartment kids" who play outside (the apts. being lower income than other parts of the neighborhood, and generally black or Mexican families - this seems relevant to the sociology of it all.) Otherwise there don't seem to be any kids in the neighborhood - could be because I'm in the city limits, and all the people with kids flee to the suburbs to be in "good schools" if they have kids.

1:58 PM  
Blogger pinkpearl said...

@tam - Your post reminded me of something: About 4-5 years ago, I figured out that I needed to drastically lower my expectations of people, especially re: invitations and social gatherings.

Too often there is some hidden agenda. I don't run into the sales pitch though. Usually the other person is looking for a free therapy session. "Let's meet for dinner and catch up" usually means something like "I'll talk all night about my marital problems (or my being single problems) without even trying to pretend to care about your life."

Forget trying to talk about WAF - or god forbid any book, idea, theory - in that scenario.

Reciprocity - that's the word I'm looking for. It's all too rare. I'm not sure many people even know the word any more.

6:18 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Pink-

Reciprocity has more than 1 syllable, so Americans can't possibly know what it means. Nor can they do it. Typical scenario: yesterday, I ran into a gringa who lives in town who knew I had been to Japan. "How was Japan?" she crowed. I got abt 2 sentences out when she proceeded to relate what I said to some dinner party she had recently attended. I just shut up, let her rave on, while thinking to myself: WHY DO I KEEP TRYING TO TALK TO AMERICANS?

On another subject: In a book that profiles Lewis Mumford among others, Casey Nelson Blake says (1990) that Mumford had effectively anticipated the NMI concept, envisioning a cultural retreat that sought "not to capture the citadel of power, but to withdraw from it and quietly paralyze it." A nice role for Wafers, I wd think.

mb

6:39 PM  
Blogger Phlogiston Água de Beber said...

mb,

I don't see how you could go wrong with Vegans, although a better target is Vegans/Vegetarians. I've never seen it fail. IMHO, they even make the ESTies look good.

I believe the V/V's suffer the same problem you admitted to. The need for a purpose to go on living. Their purpose is clearly to enjoy a sense of moral superiority without the need to actually earn it.

That should probably do it. Happy deleting!

Now I feel a need to stroke my own purpose. You suggested people may feel a need to avoid facing reality. That's a lot like shooting fish in a barrel. Which would probably be a lot of fun with an AK-47. The best available documentation says the actual real reality was stuffed under a large boulder, or perhaps tossed into an active volcano, a long time ago. Some brainiac had figured out it was possible to synthesize reality.

There have been many and invariably they work, until they don't. In some cases that has been a pretty short period. The brainiacs behind our current implementation have been madly releasing new minor version updates. Attempting to keep this synthetic reality from crashing. The people you say don't want to face reality, would I think be more accurately described as clinging to an out of rev version because the later releases have features they don't like.

In that vein, I'd like to suggest that the whole Mayan Calendar thing may have been a subtle hint that we should perhaps bump the major version number on the next update. This version has reached a point where it has too many unsatisfiable dependencies.

Not sure how this might relate to the Latvian Orthodox Church, but there may be room for a good solid insult there somewhere.

6:41 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Phlog-

My concern is that if we attack vegans in the Latvian Orthodox Church, it'll be kind of a small pool to draw on. We need to keep searching.

Meanwhile, I ask all Wafers to consider these words from D.H. Lawrence:

“See all men and women according to the Holy Ghost that is within them. Never yield before the barren.”

I'm having a hard time seeing the H.G. in Mr. Obama, or in Mittney; in fact, 99% of the American population seems barren, and they yield b4 the barren all the time. I remember a colleague of mine, a Jungian analyst, being invited to lecture some university psychology class (but it cd have been high schl; this was 20 yrs ago), and they just sat there dumbfounded. Their eyes had as much life in them as the formica tables at which they were sitting. There was no reaction; my colleague felt completely defeated. "They have no souls," he told me. Duh!

mb

7:33 PM  
Anonymous Seth said...

MB,

Speaking of soullessness, there are certain religious groups that believe that the death of the soul can actually occur before the death of the body; and that the result is literally a kind of zombie, somebody that experiences no real joy and has nothing resembling a conscience, even as his physical vital systems continue to function.

I know this is speculation, and can't be proven, and that maybe this is a bit off-topic. But your comment about the soullessness of Americans these days struck a chord. Timothy Geithner and Dick Cheney are great examples of this.

On another note, it's quite interesting how moral corruption eventually causes extreme stupidity and finally the inability to think - of course, America's a great example of this. The Hindu scriptures say that "from the contemplation of the objects of the senses comes greed, from greed comes anger, from anger comes the destruction of the intellect, and with the destruction of the intellect, man perishes." I know you've written you're no fan of religion, but this part of Hinduism, at least, strikes me as quite correct.

11:19 PM  
Anonymous satyaSarika said...

How about the gluten intolerant? Bread is no longer the Staff of Life.

Or better yet, the SSRI takers?

As far as I can tell, that stuff is sheer brain damaging poison, but the worse the brain damage, the greater the clinging to the meds.

2:21 AM  
Anonymous Stone said...

Well Wafers, here is the big news,

I have been planning my exit out of the land of "overfed, tatooed clowns" (James Kunstler dixit) for months now, and, this past Monday, I finally bought me a one-way ticket to Switzerland, my country of origin, and took the big bird that flew me out of the country where Amerikans, not guns, kill people. I have never experienced such relief as when I set foot on the Geneva airport.

I shall continue attending MB's liberating blog, although perhaps with less frequency, as, for the time being, I do not have my own computer.

When Freud crossed the border into England, he was asked, "How was it?" He responded: "I recommend it."

(I may not have gotten the quotation exactly right, but you get the point, I think.)

Pierre, back to speaking French full time

2:27 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Pierre-

Bonne chance, mon cher; c'est fantastique. N'oubliez pas votres amis, Les Wafers, je vous en prie. A toute a l'heure...

Sat-

Lactose intolerant wd also be gd.

Seth-

Zombification goes back a long ways in America. A # of foreign observers in early 19C observed how driven and joyless Americans were. We perished long ago; we're just unaware of it, walking around like robots.

Happy New Year, y'all, and-

O&D!

mb

5:18 AM  
Anonymous JWO said...

Well done Stone, and good luck!

10:49 AM  
Blogger jml said...

i know we are way past the est thing, but this relates to zombies, too.

one of the things i realized when i used to participate in the americanized yoga culture is that americans confuse narcissism with spirituality.

narcissists are people who feel a deep sense of emptiness (soullessness) - it is these people that are the most vulnerable to being filled with oprah-est-eckhart-new age bullshit.

americans think spirituality is about making themselves feel good - they don't get the ascetic, disciplined, humbling awareness- -of-something-bigger-than-themselves aspect. insatiable zombies.

11:53 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

jml-

Yeah, you nailed it. In Oprah's case, it's strongly tied to consumerism. See Bill Maher's videos of her Xmas celebrations; what a farce.

mb

12:18 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and fellow Wafers,

Stone/Pierre-

Congratulations to you for getting out; being able to breathe again must be exhilarating. Your Freud story reminds me of something the great author E.L. Doctorow wrote in his novel "Ragtime" about when Freud visited America. A character in the novel asked Freud what he thought about America and Freud responded, "It's a big mistake" or something like that.

Dr. Berman and Wafers-

Christmas eve dinner with family and friends at my home was legendary this year. As the evening wore on, the obvious topics of Obama, Mittney, guns, and American collapse took center stage. Let's just say that the Bozo tour of America could have kicked off right in my own living room! I was instructed by my wife to be civil and bite my tongue on a number of issues; sound advice as I mostly observed and listened to the buffoonery. Hey, turns out, America isn't failing at all! All that's just B.S. and an excuse to do nothing. How can it be failing? America can't fail! People that believe this, I was told, are just negative, depressed, and have given up on America. All this, while Bing was spinning on the turntable singing about peace on earth. What are ya gonna do, eh?

Have a splendid New Year everybody.

12:41 PM  
Anonymous TimR said...

Adam Lanza was a vegan... And believe it or not, there's actually a plausible case to be made that industrialized diets---whose excess Omega-6 fats vegans tend to consume in even greater excess---have contributed to increasing mental illness in the West in the past 50 odd years. It may sound like an incredible claim, but see Paul Jaminet and Shou Ching's current article on the Psychology Today website for the argument and evidence. (I also learned from a commenter on Jaminet's own site that Lanza *was* on some psychoactive drug---although this claim was unsourced---as I had wondered about here on a previous comment thread.)

Also wanted to respond further to Kevin about Steve Keen's book "Debunking Economics"--- I did in fact read this book. It was simultaneously exciting to see neoliberal economic dogma rigorously debunked (maybe this is an application of Vidal's "stupidity excites me" quote?) and excruciatingly tedious. Since, after all, you're seeing neoliberal econ. dogma rigorously debunked. It may be necessary for someone to do it, but I don't wanna read it. The opening and closing chapters however are pretty readable, where he talks in broader terms about the econ. profession, its history of squelching alternative views, its bias for the status quo while pretending to be a disinterested science, etc.

2:07 PM  
Blogger pinkpearl said...

Thought this was interesting, especially in light of recent events.

http://truth-out.org/news/item/13560-dr-gabor-mate-on-the-stress-disease-connection-addiction-and-the-destruction-of-american-childhood

2:17 PM  
Anonymous Suzann P said...

The land of the free, the lost, and the insane:

A homeless woman is fighting for her life after being set on fire while sleeping on a bus bench in Van Nuys, Calif.

The horrific crime occurred at about 1 a.m. Thursday when the suspect, believed to be 28 years old, walked into a Walgreens store and bought alcohol, KTLA reports. He then poured alcohol on the woman, lit a match to set her on fire, and ran.

But a witness, Erickson Ipina, was able to chase him down.

"I was following him and then I pulled out my cellphone. I called 911 and he just turned back on me and pulled out a knife, and he told me, 'Stop following me or I will cut you,'" Ipina told ABC.

But Ipina continued to follow the suspect until police arrested him. Investigators are trying to determine the suspect's motive.

The victim, a 67-year-old homeless woman, is in the hospital with extremely severe burns, and it is not clear if she will survive.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/27/homeless-woman-set-on-fire-sleeping-bench-van-nuys-video_n_2370826.html

3:03 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Well gang, I'm going in to Mexico City tomorrow for a few days of R&R; it's one of my favorite places.

Meanwhile:

Suzann-

Does he need a motive for random violence? He's an American, after all.

Jeff-

I think it can be very enlightening to witness buffoons up close. I suggest u follow Joe Heller's practice of always having a little notebook or 3x5 cards w/u, and making notes on what u.c. and hear. Then write it up later on. Think of yrself as an anthropologist observing a tribe of morons; wh/is, in fact, the case. I mean, personally, I love buffoons; I can't get enuf of buffoons.

mb

4:08 PM  
Blogger Phlogiston Água de Beber said...

TimR-

Now if we only knew whether or not Adam had visions of Latvian Orthodox Clerical Headgear dancing in his head. Unhealthy vegans are about as common as dirt in those locales where it is especially popular. The open and difficult to determine question is whether they became unhealthy before or after taking it up.

4:26 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Anon-

Two things:

1. I don't post Anons. Pls pick a handle. I suggest Rufus T. Firefly.

2. I don't post personal attacks on myself or the other Wafers. This blog is abt the US going down the toilet; it's not about me or them. Giving us lectures abt the imptc of not being angry and so on is the sign of a misguided and feeble mind. Our attitudes/emotions are our business, not yours, and in any case not the topic under discussion. I ask u to behave accordingly. As I famously once said to Mr. Whippy, don't be a daft wanker. (Whereupon he took his poor, abused organ and left. What're ya gonna do, eh?)

mb

4:58 PM  
Anonymous Vince said...

pinkpearl,

Here is the link to the Zeitgeist YouTube channel.

http://www.youtube.com/user/TZMOfficialChannel

About 20 minutes into the documentary you will see Dr. Gabor.

What impressed me about what he had to say concerning the whole notion that DNA determined the way in which someone was going to turn out in life.

MB,

I hope that you are well. I too am getting out of town for a few days. I will remain silent on the vegan subject because as I have already mentioned, I am a dietary vegan. It is not for everyone, but it works for me.

Best to you all in the coming new year. I trust that this will be another interesting year.

Vince

7:25 PM  
Anonymous Stone said...

MB and Jeff,

Thanks for the encouraging words!

By the by, Jeff, I didn't know that other Freud quotation. Glad to know it now. Gonna use it, of course.

Dear precious Wafers,

I wanna wish you a happy new year.

Yous all mean a lot to me. I read all the comments. And even now that I don't have a computer yet, i have actually been able to visit more frequently than I initially thought.

Pierre

9:41 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Actually, I think the Freud quote goes like this:

"America is a mistake. A giant mistake, but still a mistake."

Vince-

OK, that leaves us w/the Latvian Orthodox Church. Let me state this now, unequivocally, and see if these people are as stupid as the est-buffoons or the Civil War trolls:

"The Latvian Orthodox Church is a collection of meatheads, and anyone who belongs to it is borderline demented. Plus, your hats are ridiculous. Nyah, nyah."

Brace yrselves, Wafers, as the LOC (and I don't mean the Library of Congress) brings out the big guns.

10:17 PM  
Anonymous KickTheCan said...

KickTheCan - I grew up in the 80s and 90s as well and shared a similar experience from what you say. Perhaps in addition to videogames etc, it's something to do w/ the scheduling and managed time kids have now? All that said, while I don't see *a lot* of kids playing these days.....


I think you're right about the "scheduling" ie "play dates." What better way to turn some after school free time into a stress-fest than to call it a "play date " and schedule it from 345 until 515 or some such?
Ive wondered why we spent so much time outside. There were a lot of factors. I lived in a neighborhood with a lot of kids in the same age range, and we had woods and a farm field behind the houses. Another factor is that many of us were first generation middle class, parents having grown up working class/lower middle class. "Play dates" and 'stranger danger' over-paranoia seem to be a staple of second , third etc generation middle and upper middle class.
Ultimately I think we played outside because thats what kids do, and what theyve always done. Something has happened in the last twenty years. It began way before that but I think it went up exponentially in the last twenty years. Some combination of time-wasting, bad (as opposed to good) technology and constant negativity from the evening news and tv in general ...I'd like to read some Neal Postman books.
You're right though, theres still kids like we were, but it seems to be vanishing in the middle class. Maybe thats why I get a weird, plastic vibe coming off some of these gen-Y whippersnappers?

11:32 PM  
Anonymous Zero said...

Real Americans ride around in SUVs. So I say these traitors are un-American for relying on public transportation, therefore deserve what they got. Serve them right!

NYC Subway Slaying: Man Pushed To Death In Front Of 7 Train
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/27/nyc-subway-slaying_n_2373172.html

Homeless Woman Set On Fire While Sleeping On Bench In Van Nuys, Calif.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/27/homeless-woman-set-on-fire-sleeping-bench-van-nuys-video_n_2370826.html

BTW, over the past 2 years, Dr. Gabor Mate had several very informative interviews on Amy Goodman’s program. He was born in Hungary, lost his parents in WWII, had a lot of trouble raising his own children in Canada, and speaks very candidly about his own struggles. If you have children or grandchildren, I highly recommend his books. His interviews are found here:

http://www.democracynow.org/search?query=gabor+mate&commit=Search

3:47 AM  
Anonymous tam said...

Hi again, MB! OK; I'll be the first to bite...on the Orthodox thing. (Call me gullible; or more likely, I was absent when the sarcastic humor on this subject began here?)

As a cradle Orthodox, I will always hold dear the incense, icons, cupolas, tales of the saints, the choir, the candles, and so on. I never did, and never will, sign up for a bunch-of-dudes' dogmas. But I do love the sensually beautiful parts.

So, in case I missed your beef with Orthodoxy, would you kindly fill me in on it, please? Thanks, Doc!

5:02 AM  
Anonymous twig said...

Vince quoted: "... DNA determined the way in which someone was going to turn out in life."

Saw a program the other night where the commentator said that Condi Rice has 40% European DNA. No wonder she acts like a white Attila terrorist.

7:22 AM  
Anonymous AdamRT said...

Can you believe these things?

2 Rocket Launchers Turned In During LAPD Gun Buyback
http://blogs.laweekly.com/informer/2012/12/rocket_launchers_lapd_gun_buyback.php


200 Utah educators take class on handling, having concealed gun in class
http://www.cnn.com/2012/12/27/us/utah-teachers-weapons/index.html

7:48 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

AdamRT-

This is gd. This is the rt direction for America, imo.

tam-

I fear yr gonna hafta scroll thru the previous comments on this post. After the est-buffoon attack, idea was to just pick some random target, it didn't matter what, just to see if that particular sector of the American public wd go nuts. As for the sensuality of the Church: I'm quite on your side. Check out QOV, essay entitled "Spheres of Influence."

mb

9:41 AM  
Blogger Michael Waters said...

Good morning, Mr Berman.

Long time reading, first time typing.

(Personal note: Coming from someone who follows your life focuses-- thank you very much for your unwavering work ethic, and the perpetually accompanying, bizarre sense of humor.)

I actually had a question relating to one of the first posts I read. You were referring to an ideal "social safety net" which we do not have.

"In fact, numerous historians and sociologists have written books on the lack of any socialist tradition in the US (and the reasons for this); and given the fact that in both a practical and psychological sense, we operate on the ideology of extreme individualism, the nonresponse to Katrina should have come as no surprise. (Read up on the swift Mexican response to the earthquake of 1985, for example. Mexico is hardly a socialist country, but it does have a long tradition of social responsibility.) I understand the temptation to blame everything on so-called liberals, big government, and the like, but what we have in this country is laissez-faire. After all, the real function of FDR and the New Deal was to preserve capitalism...which is what they did."

This all rings as being terribly topical. Could you recommend any good studies, books, or researchers analyzing this sort of deficit?

10:47 AM  
Blogger Sarasvati said...

I went to EST in the 70’s…sent by my company’s psychopathic president. It started off by being told that we couldn’t eat during the day, and that eating was allowed only by special request. At 5’4” and 110 lbs., I had no intention of starving, so I received dispensation from a stony-faced facilitator and had to sit in the back of the room as punishment.
I knew something was seriously wrong when, on Day Two, a young woman got up and said she had been sexually molested at a young age and that she now realized she was “at cause.” The “trainer” then swaggered down the aisle and announced that “young girls can be mighty seductive.” I kid you not.
Then someone else in the company went to follow-on workshops and decided to have sex with the young woman sitting next to him. He went home and told his wife, who went ballistic, but according to Paul that was okay because he “allowed” her to be angry.
I didn’t last too much longer in the company…most everyone attended EST and the place, which was always a little crazy, went seriously over the edge. The president was eventually pushed out and I understand that he formed his own business consultant, EST-like company.

11:00 AM  
Blogger Street Lamp said...

What should the 314,982,000 persons located in the USA do TODAY to begin a preferred path? The present set up they have fallen into is a bust, everybody knows it though it cannot be said out loud without punishment, so now what? That it is a problem is old news, what do these people do? Are social critics suggesting that they know how to run a 8 billion person planet and what everyone should do to have the greatest possible existence on earth?

Street Lamp

11:39 AM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

Off topic, but I had to post this. I just passed a car with an Obama/Biden 2012 bumper sticker on one side of the rear window, and a "blind faith is not patriotism" sticker across from it. Cognitive dissonance, anyone?

1:46 PM  
Anonymous Seth said...

Speaking of the direction America is headed, today's "far left liberals" have the exact same political bent as the far-right fringe did about eight years ago. Nobody seems to bring this fact up except Chris Hedges, Morris Berman, Noam Chomsky, and a handful of other authors.

In twenty years, I predict the "far left" will be up in arms over the fact that *too many* atomic bombs have been dropped, and that only *half* that number were really necessary to promote peace, democracy and social justice on a world scale. And these "far left" people will go to "peace" rallies, fall all over themselves with praise of being bearers of peace and love, blah blah blah. And Oprah and Steven Colbert will shower them with praise.

Did they catch that guy who pushed a man in front of the 7 train? I only ask because I take the 1 train.

Seth

1:49 PM  
Anonymous Zero said...

MB,

As a Romanian Orthodox, I must tell you that there are many advantages to belonging to that religion. Please allow me to enumerate just a few:

1. Orthodox priests are known for their virility and gigolo-ish theology, which is why about 50% of the children in any given Romanian village look like the priest “serving” that village. In addition, Orthodox priests are allowed to marry, just in case the village is too small to satisfy their “needs”. This is a big advantage over Catholic priests, most of whom are obviously are a bunch of pedophiles and sex perverts (I am looking forward to vicious attacks from devout Catholics).

2. Orthodox faithful are allowed to drink to their heart’s desire. Priests too are known for their liberal imbibing. Not since Jesus (who notoriously changed water into wine) has there been a Christian group so given to partying and having a good time. Contrast this to the dreadful life of a typical Southern Baptist, who is not allowed to publicly drink any alcohol, not even when taking communion. Of course, Southern Baptists are ALL a bunch of drunkards in denial, consuming large amounts of cheap moonshined Whiskey when nobody sees them. (I am looking forward to attacks from devout Baptists.)

3. Orthodox faithful are not required to read the Bible or attend church. As such, they have plenty of spare time for engaging in philandering and partying as explained above, this without the burden of Biblical guilt or remorse. Contrast this with Pentecostal faithful, who also drink and philander excessively, but then have to sit in church 3 times a week and hear a whoremonging “pastor” put a guilt trip on them. (I am looking forward to attacks from devout Pentecostals.)

4. The Orthodox Church is considered to be the “official” national religion, which means that it is fully subsidized by the state. This way, Orthodox faithful can eat and drink freely at the church’s frequent feasts without having to put up with high-pressure fund-raising techniques from sleazy used car salesmen-like ”pastors”, as is usually the case with American evangelical churches. (I am looking forward to attacks from impoverished and brainwashed devout evangelicals.)

I hate to repeat myself here, but I am looking forward to attacks from pedophiliac Catholics, drunken Baptists, whoremonging Pentecostals, and brainwashed evangelicals.

Julian

1:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Yes you often say, no name, no post. Thats OK- I didnt want or expect you to post it. Thats why no name. Well it was Cassandra but.....who cares?

I had a drink and was fed up with all the mutual, if valid whining. You personally are becoming a bit strained, frustrated. Many of us are. It's understandable.

The moaning never ends. We know the US is well fucked. Do you ever speculate on what's next? That would be interesting - a pick me up for us all.


Let's all skip hand in hand into the sunset, whistling 'Strawberry Fields for Ever". Including the feeble minded...they too have their place......LOL!!!

2:29 PM  
Anonymous Kevin said...

TimR -
Thanks for the scoop on Keen's book. I'll still read it at some point but your point is well taken. Perhaps the best recourse for most is to listen to a couple of podcasts, since he emphasizes his points but not the details.

(Here for the Extraenvironmentalist interview: http://tinyurl.com/cuc2eaj
; here for the C-Realm: http://tinyurl.com/d443knw)

For me, the best non-technical book on economics that gets to the root of the issues is John Michael Greer's "The Wealth of Nature: Economics as if Survival Mattered."

Also, as a CT resident, I've gotta say that one of the real mysteries of the Newtown shooting has been the vapid local media coverage. Virtually no investigation or discussion of motive/cause. I know I shouldn't be surprised but still am.

4:11 PM  
Anonymous Susan W. said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

This is a little off-topic and also yesterday's story, but the article by Frank Rich on America's worship of superheroes is right on target and very entertaining. He takes on Petraeus, Armstrong and Paterno:

"Though we’ve also lived of late through the scandals of the Catholic Church and Major League Baseball, the unmasking of mega­ministers and Wall Street titans, and the penile pratfalls of John Edwards and Tiger Woods, our serial susceptibility to bogus heroes and their hoaxes remains undiminished. It’s as if there’s something in the national DNA that makes us suspend disbelief once our icons are anointed. You’d think in our digital age, when everyone can seemingly find out anything about anyone in a nanosecond—when transparency, thy name is Twitter—this pattern would have long since been broken and the country wouldn’t be so easily snowed. Instead, our credulousness seems as entrenched as ever, if not more so, with the same myopia by the press and public alike recurring with scant variation, whether the instance be as chilling as Paterno or as farcical as Petraeus."

He ends the article with:

"We can be as easily fooled by small-scale hoaxes like “balloon boy” as we are by big-time crooks like the lionized Enron CEO Ken Lay. Even fictional impostors, from Professor Marvel to Harold Hill to Dick Whitman (a.k.a. Don Draper), are beloved lodestars in our national mythology. So while it would be nice to believe that we’ve learned something from our mistakes and would not be sucked in by the next Petraeus or JoePa or Edwards or Armstrong, whom are we kidding? This is America, and, if Broadwell got anything right, it’s that once Americans fall for a guy, we just can’t stop ourselves from going all in."

The entire article is at http://nymag.com/news/frank-rich/david-petraeus-2012-12/
for anyone who's interested.

I'm trying to think of a group we can really annoy and have only come up so far with people who are a little neurotic when it comes to their pets. I know several. One had two poodles who ate at the table with her in baby high chairs and she never took vacations b/c no one could be trusted to care for them. But I'll keep trying.

5:04 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Thank u all for writing in. I guess New Yr's is a time to let it all hang out.

Susan-

Poodle owners might be a better target than the Latvian Orthodox Church, I'm not sure.

Cassandra-

I'm not strained or frustrated at all. I'm having fun. As for yr accusation that I don't speculate on what comes next, we've been doing that on this blog ever since I returned from Japan 6 wks ago, and in general for a long time (question of post-capitalist evolution). Ever think of scrolling thru the comments section of the last few posts, before unleashing a mindless, broadside attack? I guess the idea is, Why be intelligent, or do yr homework, or pay any attn to context, when you can just shoot off yr mouth and prove how clever u.r., rt?

Julian-

This blog has no problems with the Romanian Orthodox Church. Our focus of attack is the Latvian OC. We await their onslaught response with great anticipation.

Street-

See my reply to Cassandra. We've discussed likely disintegration of capitalism and evolution of new alternatives at great length. Also check out "Twilight of American Culture," ch. on NMI's, for individual choices.

Sar-

Many stories like that, of course, but we are now into bashing the Latvian Orthodox Church.

Michael-

Thank u for yr support. Check out ftnote refs in WAF. Also, the "conspiracy" essay in QOV.

mb

5:39 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

To be consistent you need to stick with something American like est, so the LOC is off track, is it not? Since there’s nothing more American than doing anything Israel wants, you could really annoy a fanatical cult by saying something bad about Israel/Judaism. That is, if you really want to get busy hitting the delete key, or even hit the delete key on your entire career. Your village, and maybe even all of Mexico (for harboring such a terrorist as you), will soon find itself under sanctions and blockade, and Hillary will get congress to authorize the use of force against you. Hey, why not start the new year off with bang?

9:45 PM  
Blogger dg said...

We may not have the violence up here, but we've got the dolts:

News flash for shoppers: Being stuck in Boxing Day traffic is not an emergency.

That's the message Burnaby RCMP had to give out Wednesday afternoon after an onslaught of 911 calls from frustrated motorists stuck in traffic on streets and parking lots, particularly at Metrotown.

Staff Sgt. Robert Marks said the calls - too many to count - started coming in around noon and continued into the evening.

"Obviously, people on Boxing Day are out returning things and doing their shopping. It's the traffic and people not being able to exit parking lots at the mall that's causing this. So it's kind of an unusual call to get as far as 911 calls are concerned."

The deluge of calls prompted Burnaby RCMP Staff Sgt. Steve Crawford to send out a Twitter plea around 2 p.m. on the @BurnabyRCMP account urging people to stop dialing the emergency number for traffic problems.

"Shoppers stuck in heavy Boxing Day sales parking lot traffic, pls don't tie up 9-1-1 emergency lines to report it's taking too long," the message said.

http://www.vancouversun.com/news/metro/Shoppers+call+gridlock/7747557/story.html

O&D

9:55 PM  
Blogger Street Lamp said...

With the "global village" we now have and moving towards a 15 billion person planet by 2100 and the activities associated with America to be found popping up everywhere now, will this eventually evolve into a discussion about human beings and la great versus shit life on earth for all humans? So called America might have been where this abuse of living blossomed, but it is no longer is alone in ruining everything for everybody. Name one place on earth where they are not spoiling the opportunity of being alive with gusto and lack of foresight?

10:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy New Year to all WAFERS!

Susan -- thanks for the link to the Frank Rich essay. I was reminded of the 2007 Susan Faludi book, The Terror Dream: Myth and Misogyny in an Insecure America. In the book, Ms. Faludi examines the need for Americans to embrace the idea of the invincible comic superhero -- when all else fails.

Someone on this blog talked about reading Janice Peck's book, The Age of Oprah and reminded me that the book had been on my "to read" list, but I couldn't check it out at the library -- reference only. Currently, I am writing a book, and the Schomburg Research Library is closest to my NYC apartment. The reading room at the Schomburg is the nicest reading and working room in the city -- IMO! Anyway, the Schomburg has a reference copy of the Oprah book, and therefore, very recently, I began reading it. Janice Peck connects all the dots. Thanks to whomever reminded me of the book.

About the New Age movement -- I agree with you, Mr. Berman -- the ethos of the movement has done a great disservice and the damage continues to ripple throughout this country. The other day, I met another New Ager, reminding me that they continue to spread their own brand of fantastical and magical thinking -- as documented by Barbara Ehrenreich, Chris Hedges and yourself, among a handful of other writers.

About the EST movement -- in the late 1970s, I was hired to work for a private employment agency in Lincoln, NE. I can't recall the name of the corp., but it was nationwide. The company sent me to Dallas, TX for two weeks of training. The training was modeled on EST. I can't begin to tell you what a bizarre experience it was. Shortly after returning to Lincoln, NE, and beginning work, the manager of the business and her Lincoln boss were arrested and hauled out of our office in handcuffs for skimming profits.

Tomorrow, I'm planning to order your book, QOV.

Thank you for all of your work and writing -- and for giving me a place to be where I don't feel quite so alone.

11:13 AM  
Anonymous Kay Johnson said...

To Morris Berman...

I forgot to sign my anonymous post -- Kay Johnson.

Please, forgive me! After reviewing the options, I think I figured out how to sign in without using the anonymous choice.

Feel free to send my post back to me, and I'll repost my comment.

Kay Johnson
NYC

11:19 AM  
Blogger NearFar said...

MB---

Here's something for your files:

http://edition.cnn.com/video/?/video/bestoftv/2012/12/20/ct-shooting-pkg-kyung-lah-notebook.cnn

Kyung Lah was CNNs Tokyo Correspondent for five years and is now back in the U.S.. She says she never covered a shooting in Japan because there wasn’t one. Kyung Lah says that even after the Tsunami (& folks lining up for food and water in the wake of disaster) there was no real violence, no riots or shootings because there it's about society: individual rights are 2nd to the community's needs in Japan.

Thanks.

Christian

12:47 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Kay-

I posted it, since u identified yrself, but pls use a handle in future. Kay is gd, altho I tend to favor Rufus T. Firefly. Tell us abt yr bk.

Street-

Lots of places where there are pockets of traditional societies, including Mexico and Japan. The latter is working on eco-sustainable alternatives, as are parts of Europe. The world ain't monochromatic, amigo. And again, yr kind of out of it in terms of previous discussions of evolution of post-cap society and the "dual process" phenomenon. Just blasting onto the blog with no awareness of previous posts, comments, and context--not very bright, but *very* American. I call it the Peacock Syndrome. (See Cassandra's 'contribution' for full version of this; why join her? Wafers are smart, and they do their homework, because they genuinely wish to learn, and also to responsibly inform. I shd add that I get these kinds of showoff/ignorant messages all the time. Tiresome! But they continue to validate my perception of The American People.)

dg-

Yes, lots of dolts in Canada, but abs. no one can out-do Latreasa Goodman--a hero of mine, and my pick for VP on the Hillary ticket in 2016.

Zos-

Israel is not like est: too major. Est is trivial, but we're thru with that. LOC probably has HQ church in NYC, so it's fair game. But in any case, they didn't respond to my insult. Which means either that they don't read this blog (quelle horreur), or they are too intelligent to take the bait, unlike esties or Civil War trolls. (God, I miss those trolls!)

Meanwhile, speaking of American liberal (or other) stupidity:

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/12/25

'Progressives' will never, ever wake up; the CRE is too strong.

mb

2:21 PM  
Anonymous Monnica12 said...

Whenever Americans say that a third world person or country is corrupt, I say look inwards. Look at yourselves in the mirror to behold the inventors of corruption:

NY woman accused of scam in name of Conn. victim
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A New York City woman tried to scam donors by posing as the aunt of a child killed in the Connecticut elementary school massacre, federal authorities said Thursday.

Nouel Alba, 37, was arrested Thursday and accused of using her Facebook account, telephone calls and text messages to seek donations for what she called a "funeral fund." She told one donor that she had to enter the scene of the mass shooting in Newtown to identify her nephew, according to the criminal complaint.

http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/story/20434651/ny-woman-accused-of-scam-in-name-of-conn-victim

+++++++++++++++++++++

Newtown Lawsuit: Lawyer For School Shooting Survivor Says $100 Million Claim Is About Security

A lawyer who's asking to sue Connecticut for $100 million on behalf of a 6-year-old Newtown school shooting survivor who heard violence over the school's intercom system says the potential claim is about improving school security, not money.

Pinksy's client, whom he calls "Jill Doe" in the claim, sustained "emotional and psychological trauma and injury"

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/29/newtown-lawsuit-100-million-irving-pinsky_n_2381733.html

5:29 PM  
Blogger Street Lamp said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6:28 PM  
Anonymous Zero said...

MB,

These are the most hilarious quotes I found in the commondreams.org article you provided:

- "Things would be even worse if Mitt Romney had won."

- “With re-election safely behind him, we hope Obama will be bolder in his second term,” Peter Dreier and Donald Cohen wrote in The Nation.

- “It’s time for President Obama to assume the Roosevelt-inspired mantle of muscular liberalism,” Anthony Woods wrote in The Daily Beast.

I laughed especially hard when I came across the term “muscular liberalism.” There is a certain delusional component to that kind of language. As if liberals really matter at all, or as if they ever mattered. Indeed, these people suffer from a very severe and incurable case of CRE.

It’s quite disgusting, actually.

Julian

7:06 PM  
Anonymous Capaneus said...

I can't in good conscience rip on the Latvian Orthodox: They cured my Kavorka. Now that women no longer throw themselves at me I'm getting a lot more reading done.

7:09 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Street-

Good question! Someone who has read "Why America Failed." More generally, a contributor to this blog, who also eschews Peacockery. Not a Cassandra (i.e., a horse's ass), or a stereotypical American (cocky, aggressive, arrogant and ignorant). A Wafer has a sense of humor (often of an outrageous variety); if he disagrees with something, she presents evidence for her views, sans Attitude. He or she is fully aware that 99.9% of the American public consists of douche bags, and either emigrates or becomes an NMI, as a result. (Now you'll be asking me what an NMI is. Check out "The Twilight of American Culture.") A Wafer doesn't attack me or other Wafers personally, doesn't tell me how to run this blog, and sticks to the subject: America in the toilet. And on that note:

Happy New Year!

Monnica-

What could be sleazier (or more American)? After 9/11 there was a rush to find out who died so that the sleazebags could use the credit card info of the victims. Hustling: what life is all abt. Time to put Nouel Alba's face on the $1 bill.

mb

7:18 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Capaneus-

I know just how u feel. I get so tired of all these beautiful young women knocking on my front door, begging for sex. I think I'll hafta fly to LOC HQ in NY, get the kavorka treatment myself.

Julian-

Really, those people need to have their shoes peed on. My concern is that there may not be enuf urine in the world to do the job.

mb

7:32 PM  
Blogger pinkpearl said...

So "Eight Mile", the Eminem movie, just came on TV. I just realized that movie is TEN years old. I saw it when it came out and was struck by how destroyed Detroit looked.

(Of course the filmmakers chose the most striking locations, so there's that. And at the time I had no real clue about Detroit's struggles.)

Thing is, as far as I know, Detroit still looks like that. If anything, it's worse, and many American cities and towns are in the same shape.

Ten years. It's beyond tragic.

10:16 PM  
Anonymous bart said...

Phil Ochs on liberals:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u52Oz-54VYw

and on the world-reknowned compassion that Americans extend toward their fellow citizens:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMeG6dAFqXw

as evidenced here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/30/nyregion/woman-is-held-in-death-of-man-pushed-onto-subway-tracks-in-queens.html?hp&_r=0

11:10 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

There is so much good in this interview, I hardly know where to start. How about the fact that Chomsky’s career was essentially, an accident. I’m only vaguely familiar with the ideas of John Dewey, but I felt his ethical ideas (fostering the growth of people’s moral sensitivity, and the goal of working towards alleviating societal evils) and ideas on education, which emphasized first-hand experience and doing practical things cooperatively, were quite beautiful. If I had a child, I would move as quickly as possible to the closest Deweyite school, or some equivalent, provided they still exist.

http://www.zcommunications.org/work-learning-and-freedom-by-noam-chomsky

6:20 AM  
Blogger Cj said...

Hello Professor, have you seen this article in the Baffler on OWS?

http://thebaffler.com/past/to_the_precinct_station

Needless to say I think it's angered more than a few.

Hope you have a great New Year!

Chuck

10:37 AM  
Blogger LJansen said...

Hi. I know we don't need more evidence of barbaric U.S. culture, but this article about fan behavior at Seattle Seahawk games is pretty scary. Grown men assaulting 14 yo kids b/c they are wearing the opposing teams' jersey??? http://seattletimes.com/html/take2/2020010620_taketwo28.html

And there were many commenters defending this behavior (of course)!

10:45 AM  
Anonymous Seth said...

MB,

Cassandras are not bad people. They genuinely care about the decline of human civilization that is currently underway, and as such, should not be categorized in a negative way. Open displays of compassion, in other words, are not always the result of self-hustling, speaking in your own terminology.

Cassandras attempt to enlist the emotions in addition to reason and logic in their quest to get other people to care and to acknowledge reality. And that's actually a very smart move, since mere fact and logic divorced from emotion has no chance to affect change in the world, because as Freud discovered, human beings do not respond to dry, prosaic fact alone. They need emotion and rhetoric in order to be able to commit to something.

And this isn't at all unnatural or even unethical, since positive internal psychological states are what all living things ultimately want and need. Besides, love and compassion for others is the basis for all ethical actions and ethical beliefs - if not in actual experience, than at least insofar as one's *intentions* are concerned - so without emotion, or at least the intent to create positive emotional states, truly ethical stances are impossible. Attempting to divorce emotion from ethics was the great mistake of the Enlightenment, and why the Enlightenment eventually resulted in atomic bombs and predator drones (the ultimate products of knowledge and intelligence divorced from feeling) instead of world peace.

Seth

2:51 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greeting Dr. Berman and fellow Wafers,

Dr. Berman-

I picked up a copy of "The Reenchantment of the World" last night at City Lights Booksore in San Francisco. It was shelved in the Green Politics section of the store. I'm looking forward to reading the book and thought it best to begin at the beginning of your trilogy on human consciousness for maximum understanding. While in SF, my wife and I were treated to some gorgeous weather today. We invented a game called "Dodge the Screen People" as visitors seemed more intersted in their screens than the city around them. On a lighter note, I did talk to a cabbie who is a Wafer, he just doesn't know it.

Cheers and Happy New Year to all,

Jeff

8:01 PM  
Anonymous James90 said...

Oh Lord, have mercy on our soul! May the new year bring about changes in our soul before it is too late for America:

1) Racquel Gonzalez, 24, has been arrested for allegedly assaulting her boyfriend, 30-year-old Esric Davis, when he had an orgasm and she did not, according to a police report obtained by the Smoking Gun.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/27/racquel-gonzalez-esric-davis-orgasm-assault-sex_n_2200096.html


2) Police in Florida arrested an "extremely intoxicated" woman after she allegedly beat her boyfriend over bad oral sex.
Scott told police that she became angry after Deleon "finished first and stopped pleasuring her."

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/29/jennie-scott-florida-arrested-oral-sex_n_2381876.html


3) The West Virginia woman, 41, is facing assault and weapons charges after allegedly waving a knife at two men who declined her demands to engage in sexual conduct at a motor inn.

She then reportedly uttered a line never before memorialized in a police report: “Somebody is going to eat my pussy or I’m going to cut your fucking throat.”

http://www.thesmokinggun.com/buster/west-virginia/woman-utters-line-never-previously-recorded-police-report

12:06 AM  
Anonymous Mark Notzon said...

Dear Morris:

What a delight to find a website whose author prefers Spinoza to Schopenhauer (which occured in your previous blog posting) for it takes no small effort of spirit to expunge the self indulgence of weltschmerz. I had a dream once about fellows walking along the razor's edge, but I woke up to find it the rim of a lens Spinoza was grinding. We were free either to let go and fall into the abyss or sacrifice our pride for the sake of clarity and the ecstasy that follows.
The best, Morris, for 2013, and all of that.

--Mark Notzon

12:49 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jas-

It's been too late for America for a long time now.

Seth-

Well, perhaps yr rt abt Cassandras in general, but this one was a peacock, and I don' have much sympathy for that behavior. Meanwhile, let's stick to the subject of this blog: America going down the tubes. Thank u.

1:20 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dear Chuck,

At least Thos Frank wasn't fooled. It's really pathetic, the Left in this country: everything is going to 'sweep' us into a new reality, but somehow never does. The clutching at straws highlights what they simply cannot face: game over. Check out the essay I have in QOV entitled "The Hula Hoop Theory of History." It's amazing to me, how they never get tired of the next hoop on the horizon.

mb

1:32 AM  
Anonymous Zero said...

Jeff,

Yesterday I took the “EL” (subway) downtown to see a comedy show. Virtually everybody on the train was staring at their screens. Some were also frantically typing endless text messages back and forth. To me, the term that describes them best is “little monkeys”. They were by far more amusing than the show we saw. Even my 6-year old made a joke about them.

I too met many cabbies who are WAFers in their thinking. Most were recent immigrants to the US, who have not yet acculturated into the American culture. On the other hand, immigrants who have been here for a long time or those who acquire education and a decent job in this country no longer notice the obvious WAFing signs and symptoms that a cabbie sees with ease. If I may paraphrase one of MB’s ideas, it appears that after a while, these immigrants’ eyes are replaced by wool. The American system of propaganda and brainwashing is extremely powerful, leading to a state of confusion and blindness. It takes active resistance and disengagement from mainstream media/culture and from many relationships in order to avoid being sucked into it. Ultimately one becomes lonelier and more isolated, however, the feeling of freedom that knowing the truth produces is well worth the sacrifices. That has been my experience.

8:34 AM  
Anonymous Seth said...

As far as America going down the tubes, you'll be pleased to know that the Federal Government has decided to start something called the "chained price index". This means that, for example, if the price of steak triples but the price of ground beef remains the same, the government will list the price of beef overall as not having changed.

A slick way to cover up America's economic decline insofar as rapid inflation of the price of basic goods and services is concerned - really a means of lying to the American public. It's analogous to declaring that there is no economic recession merely because the richest 1% have gotten richer over the last five years. But as many people have pointed out, this is what Americans want. They want to be deceived, they want to believe there is no decline, and the government is merely giving them what they want.

8:44 AM  
Anonymous bart said...

MB, Returning to Freud for a moment (from Mark Edmundson The Death of Sigmund Freud) his opinion of America as a hustler culture mired in political groupthink:

Despite his having been so well treated there when he visited in 1909, and despite the early success psychoanalysis enjoyed in the US, Freud never ceased to detest the country. To him, America represented a social catastrophe nearly as dire as the one embodied by the Nazis gathering along Austria's border. Virtually everything he knew...about the US irritated Sigmund Freud.

Americans, first off, were obsessed by money. Everyone in America, Freud believed, was dully materialistic, without cultivation, without subtlety, without the capacity to enjoy life's higher pleasures. The word "dollars" shows up in almost all of Freud's denunciations of the United States. In America, they compete with each other bitterly and worship the almighty dollar, and that alone, Freud said, time after time.

...But what most disturbed Freud about America was its politics. Americans suffered from what Freud liked to call "the psychological poverty of groups. " Much like de Tocqueville, but with far less sympathy, Freud saw America as a nation where the group tended to rule over, and often to crush, the individual.

Happy New Year all!

9:14 AM  
Anonymous twig said...

The hula hoop essay sd be submitted to CounterPunch, Truthdig and Op-Ed News, et.al.

Let's see who accepts it.

10:53 AM  
Blogger Reader said...

MB,

I just came off a 12-hour flight from Hong Kong. The young woman sitting next to me had her face in her phone screen the entire flight, literally, gaming and looking at photos. During her meals she did not put it down. I did not know batteries lasted that long.

Folks in HK are not as polite as the Japanese when speaking on their cell phones in public, including in restaurants, except when on the trains. Interestingly, no signs were posted stating not to speak on cell phones, but no one did; non-verbal phone use, yes.

KickTheCan,

I read an article recently which discussed the results of a study in England, on children who do not play outdoors. These children lacked a sensual and tactile relationship to nature, as well as an understanding of the value of nature for sustaining all life. For example, bees and butterflies did not exhibit any personal response from them aside from their book learning. The article finished by projecting that without an experiential relationship with nature future generations will lack the necessary regard for nature required to protect the environment; leading to a more rapid demise of our natural resources, ecosystems and biodiversity. I will try to find the article/study and post the link, it was quite interesting.



11:46 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Libra-

Best to send messages to most recent post; folks tend not to read the older ones. Thanks.

mb

11:53 AM  
Blogger pinkpearl said...

@Cj, to Franks's Baffler article on Occupy you can add:

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/12/30

Occupy is really bringing out the weirdness (maybe that will turn out to be its achievement). On the one hand, many dismiss it. On the other, the FBI and DHS and others were spying on it - they don't usually bother with groups that are perceived as no threat. So is Occupy important, or not?

I don't think anyone can really say, not yet. But it sure strikes a nerve.

11:57 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Libra-

Thanks for appreciation of my work. Again, pls send message to most recent post; and also, try to limit yrself to 1 a day (hard, I know).

Pink-

FBI thinks everyone's a threat. Their attack on OWS says little abt OWS, imo, but a lot abt the FBI. When an empire collapses, anxiety and paranoia skyrocket. Everyone becomes a target. Doesn't matter that OWS had no political platform, no political organization, and was little more than a display of energy. Things are so nuts in this country that the Right sees a revolution--and the Left sees a revolution! What a joke. Check out 2 essays on my archives from late last yr: "The Wall St. Protests" and "Energy vs. Analysis." Totally ignored, of course (as are all shades of gray).

mb

12:20 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

Actually, “the holidays” are good time to focus on America’s “work will make you free” culture. I find this to be one of the most telling and horrible aspects of America--the fact that we have almost no holidays, that we live, essentially, in a work camp. Outside of the government and education sectors, almost no one gets any holidays. And only the 1.7% of the workforce that are federal employees are guaranteed to get the 10 days mentioned below. Yes, my fellow Americans don’t seem to mind living by the ethics of a slave culture. You’ve got to slow down before you can stop, and this culture shows no signs of doing so. Could this be at least part of the reason for all the depression and mental illness in the US? People that have no time to rest, certainly don’t have time to think or create anything of beauty.

“The United States has just 10 national holidays, but for many workers even these aren't a sure thing. The U.S. stands alone among industrial nations in providing no legal guarantees of time off or holiday pay — not even for Christmas or the Fourth of July, said John de Graaf, who runs Take Back Your Time, a group promoting worker protections in the U.S. and Canada.
"It's not good. The thinking is so short-term. It might help the bottom line and shareholder prices in the short run, but in the long run we pay for this stuff," de Graaf said. He said studies show short holiday breaks refresh workers and make them more productive, while lack of time off can increase stress and health problems.”

http://www.mercer.com/press-releases/holiday-entitlements-around-the-world

12:22 PM  
Blogger pinkpearl said...

So, nothing - not even FBI interest - about Occupy is meaningful, yet people are still talking about it. Hm.

1:30 PM  
Anonymous Savantesimal said...

Re: inflation -- this "chained price index" gimmick is just the latest trick. Economic statistics have been deceptively reported for decades. Check out Shadow Government Statistics, a website created by a trained economist who realized that he was constantly having to fix his economic formulas for his major corporate clients because of government chicanery. Even using the US governments own methods from 1980, the real inflation rate has been running at about 10 percent for more than decade.

1:45 PM  
Anonymous Martin Ramirez said...

To Morris Berman: I should have specified that I intended to comment again next week. I beg your pardon.
I am very curious as to why you chose Mexico. Remember this quote from Porfirio Diaz: "Poor Mexico, so far from God yet so close to the United States." I would more or less tell you from my personal experience that most of Mexico has unfortunately been emptied of its substance. A large part of it is due to 'Murikan-style commercialism, but it was probably our own deficient education, coupled with a widespread societal obliviousness and apathy, which dealt the finishing blow. The mainstream culture is only slightly less decadent than its gringo and Canuck counterparts. We have the same cult of celebrity here, an increasingly wasteful consumerism, the local economies barely linger along, my generation knows less of this country than the foreign tourists, coarseness and a lack of craftsmanship are becoming the norm, we are owned by a small oligarchy just like Yankeestan, our traditions and art forms are being forgotten, and they are being replaced by garbage such as Televisa soap operas, ranchera/reggaeton music and entertainers in the vein of Cepillin or Polo Polo (look them up- just mentioning them fills me up with shame). Worst of all, the social-governmental abandonment of marginalized populations, combined with the Reaganite/libertarian worship of wealth and business that we learned from our northern neighbors, has brewed the toxic cocktail of an increasing lionization of organized crime (I remember three kids from my high school who looked up to El Chapo and the Cartels simply because of their wealth).
I myself plan to high-tail it to either South America or Eastern Europe after I have completed my university studies.
Speaking of the decline of capitalism, how long might it take for us to adopt the new ecologically sustainable, no-growth and nonprofit economies? I am eager to see this change.
Take care, you all.
Martin/ Joaquin Claro

3:52 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

It's 2013 and pundits already predict it'll be Hillary vs. Jeb Bush in 2016. I mean can presidential punditry get even more creative. As for liberals still believing that Obama is just waiting for the proper time for his Franklin Roosevelt populism to surface, what segment of the American people are more delusional than blacks? The real tragedy is that he's been able to neutralize perhaps the most potentially radical group in the US and turn their heads into virtual mush. I had hoped that their allegiances would be based on something more than tribalism but no matter how little Obama has done for the black community he still gains widespread support. I suppose it's somewhat analogous to Jewish support for Israel. Most of my Jewish friends are fervent liberals on most issues but when it comes to Israel they suddenly become right wing Zionist thugs. I know you wrote about tribalism in A Question of Values if I'm not mistaken.
Anyway, best wishes to Dr. Berman and my fellow wafers for a good 2013. Just don't stand too close to a subway platform in NYC.

4:36 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Pink-

*Are* people still talking abt it? Not my impression, tho I have no stats to speak of. I suspect everyone has 'moved on' except OWS 'veterans'. But in any case, it seems unlikely that we're going to have any surprises from that 'quarter' in the future. (Too many quote marks, I know.)

mb

4:48 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

Well, it’s been a week, and the only non-Est response to your Wash. Times interview in the comments section so far accuses you of the crime of being the “type of intellectual that has spent time in school, is well read...” Yeah, I hate those kind of intellectuals...doesn’t everyone?

I didn’t think you’d get any response to your idea that, “the whole premise (of the American Dream is wrong and needs to be abolished because it’s) based on the notion of infinity—of permanent growth—which is not possible in the real world.” This is clearly an idea that has never entered the heads of any of their readers, as evidenced by the fact that today’s two editorial writers are Ned Nugent and Oliver North.

8:17 PM  
Anonymous Zero said...

Happy New Year to WAFers everywhere!

It looks like we’ll have plenty to cheer in the coming year:

“2013: What's in Store?” (Op-Ed by Adrian Salbuchi)

http://rt.com/news/2013-global-politics-trends-150/

Julian

8:28 PM  
Anonymous Seth said...

Reader,

What you said about the results of that study on English children who do not play outdoors reminds me of a quote from Amma, "The Hugging Saint": "The greatest danger facing mankind today is not a third world war, but the ever-widening gam between man and Nature."

And this is absolutely true. I have this feeling that many electronic-obsessed people today lack even a relationship with their own body. They eat garbage, rely on caffeine and sometimes other drugs for energy, rely on alcohol for relaxation, and can't stand even spending a few minutes alone, in their bodies, and not looking at a screen.

These are signs of serious addiction and dependency. I personally think - although I cannot prove - that the television screen was invented precisely to make people addicted, to cut people off from one another, to destroy peoples' capacity for thought, and to basically sow the mental seeds for a global corporate totalitarianism. It was, after all, invented in America.

10:22 PM  
Anonymous Joe doesn't know said...

Happy New Year to my friends, my fellow WAFers, and El Maestro. A bit of pure Americana to bring in the new year:

Erika Menendez, 31, was being held without bail on a murder charge in the death of Sunando Sen. She told police she pushed the 46-year-old India native because she thought he was Muslim, and she hates them, according to prosecutors.

They had never met before she suddenly shoved him off the subway platform because she "thought it would be cool," prosecutors said. The victim was Hindu, not Muslim.


http://news.yahoo.com/suspect-nyc-subway-death-arrested-184159712.html

Dr. King was certainly right about anger and stupidity being a dangerous combination.

10:27 PM  
Anonymous Kay Johnson said...

Morris Berman:

You asked about the book I'm writing -- it's a biography about Nora Bayes, one of the early innovators in vaudeville and on the Broadway stage at the turn of the 20th century. For the most part, she's been forgotten. Usually, though, when I tell people she wrote the music to the classic American popular song, "Shine On, Harvest Moon," they recognize the title, and can sometimes sing the chorus. I've been working on the book, researching, for about six years, and I've been writing the book for the past year, along with a book proposal, in the solace of the Schomburg reading room in NYC.

My background is in music history, and my first real mentor, in the early 90s, was Rosetta Reitz, who did some of the earliest deep research on women in blues and jazz, bringing unknown women who made substantial contributions to life. Rosetta and I, prior to her death a few years ago, used to have lengthy conversations about these women, and the times in which they lived. She believed that you couldn't have one without the other, so to speak.

Nora was born in Chicago, and grew up amongst the diverse immigrant communities that spread out across the city. The genealogical research was quite instructive as I dug into the roots of both sides of her family, one side of which were professional hatters and furriers from Germany, who first settled in St. Louis in about 1870.

As you can imagine, the research pulled in more directions than I can count. During Nora's lifetime, I discovered that she took some very courageous political and social stands, including about race and gender. Had she been a less important artist, she may have been in jeopardy of losing her career. Eventually, the imperial powers of the vaudeville circuits did, indeed, blacklist her for daring to challenge them. During the last four or five years of her life, she spent a number of months each year in Europe, especially in France and in England.

Like all human beings, Nora was plagued with flaws and contradictions -- a very interesting woman. Nora was a singer, a comedienne, a writer, an editor, a scriptwriter, a producer, etc. She wore many hats, and wore them well!

Writing this book has been an illuminating experience. No one I know, despite their level of education, seemed to know anything about the era in which Nora lived -- from 1880 to 1928. While researching, from time-to-time, I lost track of whether I was reading about the 1890s, or if I was reading about 2009. The eras have a lot in common.

Most of my friends didn't know there was electricity in 1908, let alone in 1883. Therefore, I didn't ever find anyone with whom I could have any serious discussions about Nora's life and the times in which she lived. Sad, but true.

I could say so much more, but I'll leave it at that. I may have already used up my space. I'm happy to answer any questions anyone might have -- if anyone is interested.

Thanks for asking!

10:17 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dear Kay,

Happy New Yr. Bk sounds great--gd luck with it. If you'd like to read a novel abt roughly the same time period (in which the central figure is a woman), check out "Black Tuesday," by my friend Nomi Prins.

mb

11:38 AM  
Anonymous in.fern.all said...

Mr. Berman,

What do you think about the idea of numbering individual comments for easier referencing, rather than simply commenting on the latest post? It seems to me that it might help to facilitate more dialogue and coherence in the thread, without sacrificing spontaneity and novelty. There are several things I would like to respond to without having to reprint them and I suspect there are others who feel the same way.

12:39 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Fern-

I take yr pt, but I worry that creating a numbering system wd result in a complicated 'index', and possibly make things worse; esp. since I'm so technologically challenged. In addn, there are so many irregulars, people who just drop in and out, that I'm having a hard time enforcing the very few rules that we do have on this blog. So for the time being, let's continue to suffer with what we have, and hope it's not too onerous. Thanks.

mb

2:35 PM  
Blogger Barry Bliss said...

Dr. Berman,
After reading 2 more recently released books of yours I bought The Twilight of American Culture.
Reading it is like hanging out with a good friend.
I am grateful to have something coherent and clear to read (and it's nice to see confirmation that there is some sense to having monk-like tendencies).

I have 2 questions:

1. Do you think there are a few people that are training their bodies and minds to operate in a world without electricity, etc. and might they become important/valuable as the rest of society finds themselves ill-equipped to deal with a post-American empire world?

(Spartan type folks---stoic and meditative.)

2. It's been a while since you wrote T.T. of A.C.
In retrospect is there any ammendments you would make or is there anything you see differently in regards to what was covered?

3:53 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Barry-

1. I have no idea whatsoever.
2. I dunno...never thought abt it, since I followed it up with 2 more bks on collapse of American empire plus QOV.

mb

5:55 PM  
Blogger Reader said...

Thank you, Morris Berman, for making 2012 a very good year. In this year, I had the good fortune of stumbling onto your blog. I'm experiencing my reading of the blog and your books as a welcomed and valued mental exercise in learning; and I so enjoy those Aha! Moments, each time the dots connect. Hence, my intuitive knowledge and limited understanding, of this country’s failed trajectory, is now taking on a studied and knowledgeable form. And, yes, I have basked, just a little, knowing that my once wild ideas and thoughts, which no one gave credence to, actually have substance. As others have similarly stated, it was a lonely place out there before discovering your blog and your work.

I also wish to thank you for providing me with an expanded word definition, for (my new favorite word) “ontology,” as in “ontological knowing.” Seemingly a simple word, I have always found it to be elusive. I can now appreciate it as a word which denotes and demands great depth and complexity for real thinking; makes available a pathway for the construct of ideas; and provides a platform for the evolution of productive and meaningful conversation . . . something we have all hungered for and find here.

I have just completed my reading of your most recent trilogy; DAA, my favorite, still haunts me (in a good way). Onward, now, to your earlier trilogy on the evolution of human consciousness. “Coming to Our Senses” is tugging at me most strongly, but I will begin with “The Reenchantment . . . “

To all, Happy New Year!

6:58 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dear Reader,

Thanks for your kind words, and your support--much appreciated. You know, over the years, the most consistent feedback I've gotten regarding my work has been this: "I thought I was crazy until I read _____." There is a scene in the Charlie Chaplin film, "The Great Dictator," in which Hitler (i.e., Chaplin) is flying upside down in a plane, but he doesn't know he's upside down because he's flying in a fog bank. This describes the condition of most Americans, imo, and it's why they are so desperately unhappy without knowing why. And I can't imagine more than the tiniest percentage reading my work, or agreeing with any of it, really. But you do what you can, I guess, and my goal has been, for that tiny minority, to demonstrate: (a) we are living in a world that is upside down, and (b) this is what rightside up would look like. And so, there is this tiny minority that writes and tells me, "I thought I was crazy until I read ____." Who cd ask for more?

I guess Dec. 31st is a day for reviewing the year, assessing the gd and the bad. But today, Jan. 1st, is for looking ahead; for hopes and dreams. Me, I went walking in Condesa, where I stay when I'm in Mexico City; sat in a cafe fronting Parque Mexico, drinking cappuccino and taking in the scene; and read Roland Barth's book on Japan (bad) and started Robt Bellah's on the Axial Age (gd). Quite by accident, I ran into my friend Michael Nyman, the British pianist and composer (whose work I love), walking along with his new girlfriend, obviously very happy. (He lives nearby, in Colonia Roma.) Returning home, what came to mind was one of my favorite poems, "Gift" (Dar, in Polish), by Czeslaw Milosz:

"A day so happy.
Fog lifted early. I worked in the garden.
Hummingbirds were stopping over the honeysuckle flowers.
There was no thing on earth I wanted to possess.
I knew no one worth my envying him.
Whatever evil I had suffered, I forgot.
To think that once I was the same man did not embarrass me.
In my body I felt no pain.
When straightening up, I saw blue sea and sails.”

To all of you I say: Let's have a great 2013!

mb

7:54 PM  
Anonymous twig said...

Morris:

U are one brilliant dude!

Looking forward to 2013, but only because of ur writing and blog.

8:27 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

twig-

We're gonna have fun here; I guarantee it.

mb

9:20 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and fellow Wafers,

Zero-

Thanks for your observations and thoughts about the screen people that you encountered in Chi-town. Watching the, as you say, "little monkeys" walk around Frisco glued to their screens, completely oblivious to anyone around them, did provide a bit of comic relief; tragicomedy is perhaps a better description. I'm taking Dr. B's advice about carrying around a notepad at all times to record the activities of the Techno-Buffoons in action.

Dr. Berman-

I'm looking forward to more fun in 2013!

Wafers and Dr. Berman-

Please excuse the spelling errors in my previous post. I was using the computer/internet at the hotel I was staying in SF. It was time restricted to ten minutes for, ouch, 10 bucks! The dang hustlers would not even allow free internet.

11:19 PM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

MB,

Well, someone at the Cato Institute may have been cribbing from your blue book...
https://mail.google.com/mail/?shva=1#inbox/13be2c0c4c6cc06a

I had occasion to include these 2 clips in a message to an old college friend. Some here may be familiar with it, but for any who aren't...no (short)cuts, no butts, no coconuts...just hard work.

Part 1
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M5THXa_H_N8

Part 2
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uSAzbSQqals

1:53 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Ty-

Cdn't open Cato link, for some reason. Can u tell me what it is about? Thanks.

mb

2:48 AM  
Anonymous Zero said...

Things are looking up in Chicago:

"Chicago murder rate sets new record"
http://rt.com/usa/news/chicago-murder-year-city-038/

The good news is that mayor Rahm Emanuel finally saw the light, and officially joined the NRA this morning. Additionally, Chicago city hall will immediately provide every resident over the age of 2 with a free fully automatic AK-47 or Uzi submachine gun. Girls, women, and gay men have a choice of colors: peach, pink, or purple. Real men and dykes must choose between white, black or brown. The weapons come equipped with 15-inch bayonets, ideal for those frequent Chicago body-to-body combat situations. Every weapon also comes with 500 rounds of ammo, and 2 extended clips.

Unfortunately, for the time being, tanks, submarines, stealth fighter jets, and aircraft carriers remain illegal in Chicago. However, the office of the mayor has assured the public that this policy is under careful review, and it is very likely that at the very least tanks and submarines will also be allowed "very, very soon".

Personally, I wish to now publicly apologize for not voting for Mr. Emanuel in the last election -- I promise this shall never happen again.

Julian

6:10 AM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

MB,

I get emails from an outfit called "International Living", usually promoting (hustling) their seminars/workshops about various aspects of offshore retirement (usually real estate).
The emails often have short but complete articles within them to act as 'independent evidence' of the viability/necessity of moving out of the USA.
Favorite locations to promote seem to be Costa Rica, Panama, Ecuador, and Ireland.
No idea what the workshops are like and how hard the in-person-hustle there is, but the articles are occasionally interesting, and you can always ignore or read+delete them.

Here's the full article that references the Cato Institute. I thought it interesting that the retirement agendas of people in the more or less far-right and far-left crowds are growing toward acceptance of the idea that positive change isn't in the cards for the USA any time soon and that it is OK to be an expat.

Oops, seems I'm over the 4k character limit. Will see if the article will fit as Post #2. Preliminary experimental data is encouraging.

12:06 PM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

The Fall of America?
By Bob Bauman JD

A University of Oklahoma zoology professor, an expert on the thermal relations of amphibians, has debunked that well-known theory that a frog in cold water, heated gradually, will stay put until the poor, inattentive critter is cooked.

As water temperature gradually increases, he said, a smart frog will actively attempt to escape heated water. If the container size and opening allow the frog to jump out, it will do so.

James Madison of Virginia, the fourth U.S. President, one the Founding Fathers and the leading proponent of the Bill of Rights, may have anticipated the boiling frog theory when he said:

"I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations."

The 2012 Economic Freedom of the World report was released recently by the Cato Institute and Canada’s Fraser Institute. In just a few years, the U.S. has fallen from No. 3 in 2000 (behind the city-states of Hong Kong and Singapore) to No. 8 in 2005 and now has plummeted to 18th place, trailing such countries as Estonia, Taiwan, and Qatar.

Finland, Denmark and Canada now also have freer economies than the United States.

Americans will ignore this report at their peril; this is not something thrown together by ivory tower eggheads. The godfather of the Economic Freedom of the World report was the late, great Milton Friedman who suggested its need as a measure of liberty.

The extensive index covers the size of government (taxing and spending), legal systems, property rights, sound money, free international trade and regulation (including credit markets, labor and business regulations).

Reading this alarming report I was reminded of a point Ronald Reagan made in many of his public addresses—that the average republic in history lasted just over 200 years, citing Edward Gibbon’s 1787 work The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

On July 4, 2012 the United States celebrated the 236th anniversary of its independence as a nation...

According to the report, in 2005 the U.S. ranked 45th in overall size of government among 144 nations surveyed. Today, government has ballooned in size and the U.S. rank has fallen to 61st place.

Other areas of lost freedom include a substantial increase in stifling business regulations, labor-market restrictions, and barriers to trade. The U.S. standing fell in all those categories, and there was also a long-term deterioration in ranking on property rights as well. No doubt these disastrous developments serve as roadblocks to recovery from the continuing recession that began in 2008.

Cato’s Richard W. Rahn observes: "Worse yet, the U.S. decline continues and in next year's ranking it is almost certain to be lower."

If ever there was a concentrated compilation of facts urging Americans to "go offshore" you can find it in the pages of the above mentioned report.

Editor’s Note: Bob Bauman is a leading authority on dual citizenship and offshore asset protection, and one of the experts who contributed to the Safe Haven Strategies to Reduce Your Taxes, Preserve Your Privacy, and Reclaim Your Freedom Overseas report. Get your copy here.

12:06 PM  
Anonymous LarryA said...

Happy New Year MB!

Well, here's a WAFER New Years story to start the year off right:

Woman runs over teen at Wal-Mart over parking space, police say

http://now.msn.com/angela-cornett-allegedly-hit-teen-with-suv-in-walmart-parking-space-dispute

Happy New Year!
Larry

3:18 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and fellow Wafers,

LarryA-

Right on time. This story has all the essentials (Wal-Mart, SUV, shopping, anger, aggression, local school board *read dummy* member, e.g.).

infanttyrone-

I was surprised to read that Reagan actually quoted something from a book that wasn't Barry Goldwater's "The Conscience of a Conservative" or speeches written by General Electric.

Zero/Julian-

More info. about your buddy Rahm below. The article also reveals the fact that America has no real "left" to speak of. Gee, what a surprise! It's an interesting read at any rate.

http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/13567-there-is-no-american-left

8:04 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Calling All Wafers:

I almost never check the stats on this blog, but I just did, and it turns out that in Dec., the blog had 39,000 hits. Can u imagine? I figured it wd be more like 500. Who are all these people, anyway? After all, there are only about 25 regular contributors, if that.

Wafers are invited to speculate on who is tuning in to us. My guesses:

25%: CIA, NSA, FBI, DoD, and the NYPD, along with former members of the KGB, NKVD, and SAVAK
0.5%: Wafers
0.5%: Members of the Orthodox Latvian Church
45%: est-holes, Civil War trolls, free-lance buffoons w/nothing better to do, and all-around Berman-and-blog-haters that tag themselves as 'Anonymous' (people who have shit-for-brains and demonstrate it in neon)
29%: folks who are intrigued by the possibility that the US is indeed going down the tubes, and wanna learn more abt it; potential Wafers, in short

Waddya think?

mb

8:54 PM  
Anonymous Joseph Rank said...

The Koch Bros. funded Cato institute mentioned positive here, with no footnotes ?

Objectist World Order.

Throwing a few dozen Cato, Heritage, and AEP blowhards out of airplanes at 10,000 feet without parachutes would be a good start.

Actually, any non-productive money scavengers; such as investment bankers, most CEO's, and insurance executives should be added to the pool.

Rufus T. Firefly would approve !

9:11 PM  
Anonymous Captain Spaulding said...

I'm outing myself as one of the "29%." I'm not FBI, CIA, NSA, NKVD nor SPQR nor Lativian nor a Civil War troll (maybe an interwar France troll but not many opportunities to re-stage the Popular Front in the Midwest). But I am a mostly unemployed History Ph.D. living off of his wife, so I guess that qualifies me as a "free-lance buffoon w/nothing better to do."

Having read the Trilogy after hearing Gore Vidal and Chris Hedges reference your work, I've been enjoying this blog and its attendant controversies (est, Chapter Four, etc.) for some time now. My tendency is to read silently rather than barge in when I don't have anything substantive to add. I'm definitely looking forward to the new book on Japan this spring, especially as I'm trying to learn about non-European cultures to teach freshmen world history at a community college this year (I know, I know...)

So now you know where 40-50 of those 39,000 December hits come from. I can't vouch for the other 38,950 but, you know, there are a lot of unemployed Ph.Ds out there. Ciao e Buon anno!

9:36 PM  
Anonymous LarryA said...

MB,
1. I think most loyal Wafers "hit" the blog several times a day just to keep up with the dialogue. Also, each blog access equals at least two hits, one to the home page and another to the specific blog.
2. Do you have any stats on the origin of the hits (IP addresses)? I would imagine that lots of world citizens wonder what the hell is wrong with the U.S. and your blog is one of the few sources of honest dialogue without the propaganda or hustle, sort of a modern day "Radio Free Europe".
3. I suspect that for every person who post on the blog, there are several hundred regular readers who are truly interested in WAF and are a bit intimidated by online discussions.
4. All the rest are obviously CIA, FBI, KGB, and DoD spies and EST-holes, not to mention the usual trolls...

Cheers,
Larry

9:50 PM  
Anonymous DiogenesTheElder said...

0.1% -- Those who find interesting links to read and who also lament the culture of hustling for nothing so accurately describes contemporary American life as this.

10:00 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Captain-

Avast ye matey, and welcome aboard. Japan bk will be out spring 2014--I hope.

Chuck-

Thanks for Thos Frank's Baffler article on OWS. I like him because he's a straight-shooter, and he pegged the problems well. But the fascinating thing is how folks as smart (genius, in fact) like Noam Chomsky cd write bks hailing the whole thing as a 'revolution', whereas in reality it was a limp noodle.

I'm trying to figure out why I wasn't sucked in. This not to assert how smart I am--Noam & Co. are obviously way ahead of me in the brains dept.--but to really figure out why these folks wd be praising a movement that had no political platform or demands (cf. the SDS Port Huron Statement of 1962) and no political organization. As Frank pts out, these folks saw these things as a plus, whereas it had to be obvious (right?) that w/o them, the whole movement was doomed--little more than a carnival, as Frank says. I really did want OWS to succeed, but given their celebration of their own impotence, I was at a loss to figure out how this cd happen. I wrote 2 essays on this blog in the fall of 2011 ("The Wall St. Protests" and "Energy vs. Analysis"), which were of course ignored (or largely unread); but then there were commentators who made similar pts and were derided as fogies and spoilsports. Well, the game is over, and it's Fogies 1, OWS 0.

Here's the only thing I can come up with: no matter how smart u.r., the American brainwashing machine, which includes endless unwarranted optimism, is powerful enuf to override your intelligence. Americans simply cannot take it into their gut, that the country is *not* special; that it has finally hit a dead end; and that no amount of posturing or demonstrating can extricate us from our fate. Admittedly, these things entered my own gut slowly, over the years; I was born and raised in the US, after all. But I'm flummoxed that you have this series of very smart folks praising OWS for the very things that would obviously, inevitably, do it in. Or who look back on it now and proclaim it a roaring success. Wha?

Maybe the brainwashing means that to give up on the US, to look the evolution of civilizations in the face, is just too terrifying. But--I dunno...why should that be? Life will go on, w/o the US, w/o the American dream, and it may even be a better life. The crucial category, surely, is human being, not American. Is that really so impossible a conclusion to come to?
And yet, as Frank reports it, you've got all these folks who ought to know better, clutching at straws, seeing a revolution where there wasn't any, seeing power where there was only theater.

Honestly, I'm not patting myself on the back here: I really just don't get it. Maybe the US really *is* The Greatest Story Ever Sold.

(Sigh)

mb

10:52 PM  
Anonymous squirrely said...

CHOL

ie chuckle out loud

*back to lurk mode*

10:57 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

No, Squirrely, No! Don't leave us!

11:16 PM  
Anonymous Eatie McFootie said...

Greetings Dr Berman,and WAFers!

Sorry to intrude on your speculations about the lurker hordes - my only contribution is to suggest you look at IP's to see if any are from Langley ... yoinks!

But back to me (lol) I'm looking for citation re: Octovio Paz ~ "North Americans are big on pornography because they don't live in their bodies", from the AQV essay Love and Death?
It's for a book my husband is writing that he's optimistic 14 people may read.

Many thanks Dr Berman for sharing your lucidity with us!

11:30 PM  
Blogger Phlogiston Água de Beber said...

mb,

I thought the OWSers were deadmeat before they suffered their first pepper spraying. Not one person I had an opportunity to discuss it with had any sympathy for them. You won't go anywhere if you can't get those people. I would suggest those learned folk you mentioned were voting their hearts, not their heads.

How can you express doubt that the US is The Greatest Story Ever Sold? There's even an evidentiary comment above claiming that Radio Free Europe was not a propaganda outlet. The story has been sold very well indeed. Too bad it has a sad ending.

Umm, quite a few of those page hits were mine. I think it's a good policy to read much more than write.

1:07 AM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

Joseph Rank
I indicated where the Cato-referenced article came from (International Living).

I posted it only because it seemed interesting to me that the article's author was coming to conclusions similar to those MB and others here have come to wrt getting the hell out of Dodge while the USA proceeds/continues to crater.

Well, part of the motivation for posting it was also that I found out that MB is a huge fan of The Green Hornet.
But I got that information from a source deep within the Orthodox Latvian Church's counterintelligence community, so I can't be sure if it's legit or if I'm being fed misinformation in the service of one or more of their Labyrinthine machinations.
I suppose there's always a chance that they think it's legit but it's wrong.
Copernicus wasn't their first, and putting the sun in its proper spot didn't provide even limited immunity against future earthbound errata.
Of course, the OLC CIC could be being played for chumps by any of the alphabet soup agencies that make up MB's 25%.
Trying to keep these things straight is like electing a new Discordian Pope durin a Marx Brothers movie marathon.
------------------------------

Hey, GH...if we meet the Koch brothers on the road (with Kerouac), can we strap them to the kowkatchers of a couple of Neal Kassady's trains and do a velocity & distance problem that Survival Research Labs would eat their heart out for ?
Oh, Kato...

1:30 AM  
Blogger Reader said...

I am a child of the 60’s/70’s, having lived in political communes, marched in countless anti-war protests, as well as having fought for civil rights, Berkeley Tenant Union rights, United Farm Worker rights, gay and lesbian rights, and the rights of every other under-represented group out there, in the day; I was there, protesting, working, fighting, and marching. Dr. Berman, I agree with you, OWS wasn’t and isn't there. They were not coalesced, effective, articulate, organized, or with a message. They had no message. IMHO, they were infiltrate at the highest level, from their earliest beginnings, and therefore designed (literally) to fail. OWS was a test run for the imperialists on controlling mass decent.

1:41 AM  
Anonymous Xiale said...

In keeping with America going down the toilet, I've been wondering about election fraud. Lately, I've been reading some stuff by Mark Crispin Miller on the subject, but I'm not quite sure where I stand on the matter. If indeed Miller is correct in suggesting that massive electronic election fraud is an American reality, this could serve as one of the final nails in the American coffin. Any ideas on the subject matter would be appreciated.

9:13 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Reader-

I'm sure OWS was heavily infiltrated by the FBI, but I think they were a limp noodle even before that. I tell u, if the gov't is afraid of something as nowhere as OWS was, we are in major (paranoid) trouble. Dissent is now officially un-American; which is to say that in real terms, democracy is.

Ty-

What's the Green Hornet? Also note that Copernicus was not Latvian. As for the Marx Bros, I suggest we all move to Fredonia (and I don't mean the village in New York State).

Phlog-

Maybe we should start something called Radio Free Wafers. You know, I gave a lecture at Clark U. a few mos. ago, and after someone in the audience asked me what I thought were the positive contributions of the US. I said: "Jazz; Hollywood; the opening of its doors to immigrants, at least until 1924 (w/o which I wd never have been born, thank u, America); and at least the Idea of democracy." I.e., as I argue in WAF, America was basically abt hustling, and democracy was the decoy, or cover for this; but the Idea of democracy remains a great one. Jefferson, after all, got a lot of his material from Locke (and the Iroquois Confederacy); America was then partly a bright child of the Enlightenment. Sad that it turned out the way it did, of course, but hustling omnia vincit, conquers all. Mr. Fish had a cartoon a few months back of the upper 1% raping Lady Liberty. Ouch!

Eatie-

Probably lots from Langley. If this blog ever goes blank, you'll know they've shipped me out to Guantanamo and are torturing me in various ways. I am, after all, such a major threat to the nation--39,000 hits in one month! As for Paz, it's in "The Labyrinth of Solitude."

mb

10:08 AM  
Anonymous twig said...

Hey! Y'all come on over, or up, or down, or whatever! There is a Fredonia about 6-8 miles South of me in Assabama. U won't like it but then I (Me, Me, Me) won't be as miserable.

O&D

1:12 PM  
Anonymous Seth said...

Morris,

Remember, according to the conservative majority of Americans, America isn't a democracy, it's a REPUBLIC. Of course, those morons can't tell you what a republic is, or how it's different than a democracy, but basically, they believe a REPUBLIC is a place where everyone owns guns, dissent is punished with torture and execution, minorities have no rights, etc. But don't you dare bring up historical examples of a Republic (like in certain stages of the Roman Empire) and how those republics actually functioned; they will want to skin you alive because they believe God created the world WAY after the Roman Empire, maybe a couple minutes before the birth of Jesus, or perhaps around Easter last year, just before the Saint Patrick's Day Parade.

1:15 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

What's Shakin' Wafers?

Dr. Berman-

Could it be that many of the 39,000 page hits were from OWS adherents? I know it's a stretch, but we Wafers can only hope that many OWS folks were searching for an explanation as to why the movement failed and why Obama is an Obummer.

Xiale-

Mark Crispin Miller's work is good; particularly his early work regarding the presidency of George W. Bush. Miller was way, way out front, warning that Bush should not be seen as *just* a clown; a shrewd and dangerous clown would be more appropriate. Electronic vote fraud is a serious issue, but the crisis/issue goes deeper imo. Check out a short, but effective, book called "The Velvet Coup: The Constitution and the Decline of American Democracy" by Daniel Lazare. It's kinda like a before dinner cocktail. Then, as an appetizer, see Vincent Bugliosi's "The Betrayal of America: How the Supreme Court Undermined the Constitution and Chose Our President." Now, for some real meat and potatoes, read a work edited by Ronald Dworkin titled "A Badly Flawed Election: Debating Bush v. Gore, the Supreme Court, and American Democracy." A great dinner deserves a great dessert. Again, I recommend Dworkin's "Is Democracy Possible Here? Principals for a New Political Debate." I believe these titles all conform to your expressed desire to stick with the theme of America going down the toilet. Well, at least, an America stuck in the toilet. Cheers!

1:36 PM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

MB,

In case you missed the 30's radio theater program, 40's movie serials, comic books of various vintages, and recent movie (and T-shirt, action figure, cheeseburger, kiwi-flavored milkshake in a collectible glass, and all the other hustling tie-ins), here's The Green Hornet...

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

Twas all a riff based on the Cato/Kato homophone, but Copernicus not Latvian ?
I guess I done been played by the OLC shadow factory operatives again.

All hail Marx & Lennon,
ty

2:06 PM  
Blogger Phlogiston Água de Beber said...

mb-

A problem for RFW would be a territory from which it could operate unmolested. Methinks it would probably have to be from somewhere outside the solar system. That wouldn't make it unreachable, but it would make hitting it a pretty big challenge and would have a few years of guaranteed non-molestation.

The LOC might have been able to provide you with a semi-secure location due to the empire's desire to keep them onside against the hated Russkies. Too bad you've gone and alienated them.

I agree the Idea of democracy is a good one. The actual practice, not so much. Peoples like the Iroquois and for that matter most native american tribes could see it work pretty well because trade and commerce were not sufficiently important to make corrupting it an acceptably low-risk high-reward proposition. As you say, America was a creation of, by and for hustlers. The potential rewards were so high almost any level of risk was acceptable. For those rewards to accumulate in the 'right' counting houses, the demos could never be allowed to actually decide much of anything. They did have to be allowed to believe they were deciding almost everything.

Since that is working to its natural conclusion, I'm wondering if the best America could hope for would be the establishment of a theocratic government by the Latvian Orthodox Church. I'm sure we could do worse.

If you agree then I suggest it behooves you to start broadcasting the supporting propaganda on RFW. Perhaps the LOC will forgive your insult and support this proactive program to prevent the toilet from flushing.

Hail to the Patriarch or Metropolitan or whatever they call their god-walloping leader!

4:04 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Phlog-

The LOC has been strangely silent regarding my insult. Perhaps they took it as a compliment--as they did w/the Seinfeld episode in which George converted to the LOC, particularly admiring the hats worn by the priests.

Ty-

Yr saying yr a Lennonist? OMG! Where does that leave Desmond and Molly?

mb

5:29 PM  
Anonymous Paul Emmons said...

Wonderful interviews, Morris! If the typical reader of the Washington Times agrees, then the publication is better than I've given it credit for. At least someone there had the good sense to give you a hearing. But I've found the diverse and independent community at The American Conservative to be a breath of fresh air. They share our sense that the dichotomy of "conservative" vs. "liberal", as usually understood, is tragically false.

Re your observations about the bankruptcy of individualism-- in "Being as Communion", the Greek bishop John Zizioulas has given us a profound theological disquisition on the same insight. For him, "an individual" is merely a meaningless speck in a void, and individualism is a fatal heresy pervading not only America but the entire West. I did find his erudite writing very rough sledding, though, and understood only a fraction of it. You would be able to grasp it better.

6:37 PM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

Desmond & Molly are in a predicament.
Desmond hocked his Nobel Prize medallion to buy Molly a new ballet skirt.
Molly sold her soliloquy to buy Desmond a gadget she found at a kitchen store that makes what Outback Steakhouse has popularized as Bloomin' Onions.

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

But, this year, the two become as estranged as Leo & Penelope in Ulysses.
Desmond was not aware that Molly had given up dancing and taken up singing.
Molly did not realize that Desmond had developed an allergy to onions.

Neither had bothered to save their receipt, so with what paltry cash they have between them, they are now down at the local Walmart buying a 75% off nativity scene and hoping for better luck next season.

I could tell you that they got caught trying to swipe a couple of bottles of Maggi seasoning and a handful of Oh Henry candy bars, but that would be makin' shit up just to be mean.

6:43 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Ty-

How awful. Little I can say abt that.

Paul-

And they're owned by the Moonies! Will wonders never cease?

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, here's the latest update on TB's (Techno-Buffoons). My friend Joel Magnuson has a bk coming out soon called "The Approaching Great Transformation." At one pt he writes that there is a popular condescending view of “technology curmudgeons” as backward people, old fogies intimidated by the Net or the new technologies. So-called hip technoculture looks down on them—'technophobes' etc. He then goes on to say: “But the condescension itself has created a new class of curmudgeons—those who are angered and intimidated by these critics.” TB's, in other words. Joel also talks abt how cell phones and other techno-crap take us away from a physical, sensual relationship with the environment, and how destructive that is. I say: Fogeys Unite! Stop the Techno-Douchebags b4 it's too late! Pee on their fones! Drench them with nice, eco-friendly, organic urine!

mb

7:35 PM  
Anonymous mbl said...

I know this is probably redundant, but I couldn't resist sending this link of yet another example of random acts of violence in the USA.

(It's also another example of American nepotism: wealthy, spoiled kids gloating--accustomed to getting away w/things 'cause their parents are so well-connected. But the great thing about today's technology is that it's so easy to get incidents like this one videotaped then uploaded onto the web for all to see.)

http://www.theatlanticwire.com/national/2013/01/inside-anonymous-hacking-file-steubenville-rape-crew/60502/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=22UsHZXPi7Q&feature=player_embedded&bpctr=1357265936

8:52 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

More from Joel Magnuson on Techno-Buffoons:

“Most Americans wd rather believe in the most dreamlike science fiction about how technology will save us than face the reality that our way of life cannot last.”

This is CRE at its finest, of course.

10:19 PM  
Anonymous in.fern.all said...

I don't think we are going to stop the techno-d-bags. Perhaps the best we can do is make a case for personal restraint vis-a-vis technology, whether that entails outright rejection of a type or simply judicious and ethical use. What I dislike about the cult of electronica is its tendency to promote infantilism while destroying empathy, groundedness (the basis for sound judgment), privacy, and the kind of vivacity of spirit that can only come from exertion and a certain amount of sacrifice. I am especially apalled by the rapid conversion of spying/voyeurism and exhibitionism, behaviors
previously considered immoral and distasteful, into normative ones. It is truly grotesque.

2:27 AM  
Anonymous Zero said...

While growing up behind the “Iron Curtain” I was frequently listening to Radio Free Europe. While they were not necessarily lying about the situation in Eastern Europe, they were constantly distorting the facts about the US and the West in general. It *was* a very effective propaganda and disinformation outlet. Thirty years ago, when my family and I left Eastern Europe and came to New York City, we were absolutely shocked to discover that New York was a cesspool of crime, poverty, homelessness, exploitation, immorality, and overall a collection of the most degenerate human specimens we have ever seen anywhere. It was diametrically opposite from the way Radio Free Europe led us to believe America was all about. We were misled about the true reality of America. That was New York City 30 years ago – today, that reality has metastasized across the entire US.

That has been my experience with Radio Free Europe. A lying, deceiving, Cold War propaganda machine that was/is fully funded by the US Congress, whose sole purpose was to spew out CIA-concocted misinformation. However, what goes around comes around. Today, outlets like RT (Russia Today) are utilizing the same techniques employed by Radio Free Europe and the Voice of America during the Cold War (truth about the West, misinformation/omission about Russia). And RT is winning in the propaganda war. Today, nobody in the developing world with a quarter brain is listening to CNN, BBC, Voice of America. As described in the article below, 2 years ago Hillary Clinton admitted in front of the US Congress that the US is losing the “information war”.

“Hillary Clinton: Al Jazeera is ‘Real News’, U.S. Losing ‘Information War’"
http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2011/03/sec-of-state-hillary-clinton-al-jazeera-is-real-news-us-losing-information-war/

It is my impression that when it comes to empires, everything is perception and psychology. Once you lose the psychology, you will almost immediately lose the empire. After the Soviet Union lost the info war in the 80s, it collapsed. Today, the US and the West lost the info wars against Russia and China, and the US empire is in “full spectrum” collapse as we speak.

Why don’t these empires ever learn to stick with the truth?

5:24 AM  
Anonymous Rufusteena Firefly said...

Okay. I'm going to stick my neck out, nose in or some such. I've been too shy up to now. However, being the curious sort, I do have a couple of questions: 1. Has anyone dissing the OWSers checked out all the info about them and their assistance to folks in trouble and needing help after Sandy? I haven't heard that has stopped yet. 2. Have you heard about OWS buying up medical debt for pennies on the dollar and getting people (haven't heard how many but seems like quite a few) out from under so they can start over? Also happened, I hear, with mortgages foreclosed or about to be. I want to know if it's so and, if so, what you think of such stuff. If it turns out to be true, will you still be down on OWSers? Just asking.

By the way, I must own at least several hundred of the 39000+ blog hits. I've visited at least twice a day for about a year. Keeps my synapses synapsing.

7:23 AM  
Anonymous twig said...

mbl:

Ur blog is brilliant.

WAFers shud click on mbl's link and read her essays. I have no contacts but maybe some other WAFers cud help her get published!

7:35 AM  
Anonymous Xiale said...

In keeping with quotes about technology and America: "The vast material displacements the machine has made in our physical environment are perhaps in the long run less important Than its spiritual contributions to our culture." Lewis Mumford

8:39 AM  
Anonymous JWO said...

MB:

The irony of Techno-buffoonery is that many of the techies (of which I know many) are actually on the America is going down the tubes train, but they fully and truly believe that if only every poor kid had a laptop and every homeless person had a cell-phone the world would right itself.

Does that remind anyone of the %0.001 of Americans in OWS or many of the Obama-bots out there? How does that saying go about lipstick on a pig, or is that polishing a turd?

9:39 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Rufusteena-

The problem w/all that is that charity is the bourgeois form of justice; it's hardly a revolutionary program, which is what OWS was supposedly trying to put into effect. If they wanna become a branch of the Red Cross, that's fine, but it's hardly occupying Wall Street, or changing the nature of the economy.

Fern-

If each Wafer got 5 friends together, we could fan out across the country and attack the Techno-Buffoons by urinating on their shoes. Every time u go into a Starbucks and see a TB on a laptop: have 2 quick beers and drench their Guccis. Every time u.c. a TB in the st., on their cell phone, the same. In this way the Anti-TB Movement could swell into a mighty (yellow) river.

Alternatively: check out Gary Shteyngart's novel, "Super Sad True Love Story," in which the ethernet finally breaks down, and the TB's start having nervous breakdowns. The hard fact is that the electricity to power the Net and all of that virtual reality crap is generated by the burning of fossil fuels, and we are rapidly running out of them. Time is not on the TBs' side...

mb

9:55 AM  
Anonymous LarryA said...

Julian,
Thanks for your perspective and clarification regarding Radio Free Europe and other propaganda machines of world empires. Reminds me of the lyrics to a Dylan tune, "all the truth in the world adds up to one big lie". Certainly the ideal of a "Radio Free Europe" and the reality were two completely different animals. Just another illusion of my youth shattered all to hell!
Larry

10:36 AM  
Blogger Phlogiston Água de Beber said...

zero-

The truth rarely yields any significant profit. I suspect the USSR would still exist if any group inside it was seriously profiting. Instead it was capitalists in the so called free world that made almost all the profit from its existence. So much so in fact that they have been forced to lie about their profits in order to continue 'deserving' their monstrous bonuses.

It's a sad system indeed that can't thrive without a viable enemy. When most of Rome's enemies had semi-peacefully settled inside the empire, they were done. Naturally, this won't end well.

12:05 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and fellow Wafers,

It looks like a Subway shop in Florida will be adding a *knuckle* sandwich to their menu real soon.

http://news.yahoo.com/video/request-ketchup-philly-cheesesteak-leads-001204299.html

12:33 PM  
Anonymous JWO said...

Sorry for the 2 posts in a day, but see this:

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/01/04-8

12:46 PM  
Anonymous Kay Johnson said...

Thanks for the recommendation -- Nomi's book, Black Tuesday. So far, NYPL hasn't bought copies for their shelves, which is unfortunate! I have read all of her nonfiction books, and I regularly check her website. I have no idea who is working to promote/distribute Nomi's book, but if you speak with her, maybe you can mention that NYPL hasn't stocked the book for their readers.

The other day, I bought (with a gift certificate) QOV, and I am looking forward to receiving it in the mail.

Recently, I had a short conversation with a French writer who also regularly works in the reading room at the Schomburg, and I told him that I almost moved to France in 1979 -- all of my friends thought I was crazy. One of my biggest regrets is that I didn't follow through and move.

Somehow, we got off on the subject of children, and I told him that one of my sons is working on his Ph.D. at Baruch -- corporate/industrial psychology. His mouth fell open, and I told him I related to his reaction. My son, like so many others in this country, is out to get "his BIG piece of the pie."

The French writer has been in the U.S. for about 20 years, and he just doesn't fit into the American hustle. And, he notes that "the hustle" has gotten more pronounced since he first arrived. Of course, he's still a French citizen. At this time, he only has one American he counts as a fellow human being -- a man who went into public health. He also told me with great sadness that France is changing. Lastly, he confided, "I can only hope that the collapse happens soon and fast!"

I answered, "I agree, it can't come fast enough!"

1:08 PM  
Anonymous Seth said...

Morris,

I think that the reason that people like Hedges and Chomsky won't give up on OWS succeeding is not really due to brainwashing, but due to their passion for creating positive political change. When you're really passionate about something, it is a possibility that you'll cling to it even if it's a lost cause. In all other respects, Chomsky and Hedges see America as having reached a dead end. By "success", I'm not sure if Chomsky thinks OWS can really save us. After all, he recognizes the Keystone Pipeline, which will be finished soon, as game over for climate change, and in his words, the "death knell for the human species". It seems to me that Hedges, although holding out some hope that OWS will create significant change, define success mostly in terms of morality rather than in terms of effectiveness. Chomsky, on the other hand, thinks OWS has really changed the national political landscape, which is of course not true.

Phlogiston,

Truth is actually very profitable, in terms of community benefits, shared wealth, the health of the environment, the health of our bodies, etc. Lies are only profitable for a small minority of people who prey upon the world like parasites.

But since so many people continue to believe that truth will somehow result in an impediment to their happiness, we continue to live in a world of lies. However, truthfulness can never hurt us. It's always better to know what is real so we can react intelligently and ethically. Closing your eyes while driving on life's highway will not make you safe.

2:11 PM  
Anonymous Rufusteena Firefly said...

A few more questions (hoping I will be allowed): Do you think the Red Cross imitation could be a way the OWSers are using to win friends and influence people? Building a base of support, as it were? In the sixties the protesters sort of frosted the fern of a lot of the non-hip community so they were fighting the "regular" folks. Now if the people affected by Sandy see that the OWSers are very organized and doing what the government just refused to do (thank you, Republicrats in the House--as usual) and ditto the folks salvaged from death by crushing debt which is the seeming purpose of the banksters, would they not be influenced to look very kindly on anything the OWSers might want to do such as tip the balance of government by voting the current bums out and some actual governing people in? Given opportunity of course. But if push came to shove (which it more than likely will), would not these same "benefitees" of the OWSers in Red Cross mode be inclined to shove and/or push on the side of their benefactors? Flies with honey and all that. Again, just asking.(Last time to bother y'all, going back in my shell again now. Bye bye!)
Disclaimer: Poster is not allied in any way, shape or form with OWS or any subsidiary thereof, nor has ever even seen them except online as Poster does not own (or rent or even look at when out and about) a TV, iPad or fancy smartphone. Amen.

2:54 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Ruf-

I tend to doubt it, because the American public has no problem w/charity, but a big problem w/anything involving real change. But who knows? I don't have a crystal ball here...

jwo-

Gd article, but I think he may have missed the main pt. The key factor is that not having an alternative to the GOP---i.e. realizing that it's really a diff between Empire and Empire Lite--wd leave the 'progressives' psychologically bereft; wh/is very threatening (depression, nervous breakdown, etc.). I particularly liked this para, however:

"Obama has, among many other things, greatly expanded the horrific terror that is drone warfare, increased state secrecy and citizen surveillance, dramatically increased deportations of illegal immigrants, expanded defense budgets, undermined all serious efforts to curb climate change, largely preserved the ill-gotten gains of financial elites, put entitlement programs on the table for chopping and has turned rendition, unlimited detention and extra-judicial killing of US citizens into permanent and legally unassailable elements of American life."

mb

5:08 PM  
Blogger Reader said...

Rufusteena,

If I may jump in, you stated, “. . . in the sixties the protesters sort of frosted the fern of a lot of the non-hip community so they were fighting the "regular" folks.”

Perhaps you weren’t there or perhaps you’ve read too much main stream media propaganda. I was there and when we protested and fought for affordable housing we were fighting for the regular folks; when we fought for support services for abused women and children we were fighting for the regular folks; the same is true for healthy school lunches for children, job programs for the unemployed, and the right for farm workers to unionize (the largest movement that I actively organized with), to name a few. And believe me, all those regular folks appreciated our work and they benefited from our results.

Example: In the mid 70’s, we (our political commune) put on a couple of protests we called “Brown Bag With Butz.” Earl Butz, then Secr’ty of Ag., began the decimation of school lunches by stating that ketchup was a vegetable. Believe me, it wasn’t just a bunch of hippie’s who showed up at our well organized rallies, it was concerned regular folks, including parents and teachers, (needless to say, although invited, Butz never showed:) but we did fill countess pages of petitions with signatures.

If you are referring to the ruffling of feathers of law enforcement, the right-wingers, or the war mongers, well, then I certainly hope we did frost a few ferns.

OWS lacked the most basic requirements for becoming a successful movement. They had no stated purpose, no objective, no unified goal, no strategic plan and no leadership to speak on behalf of the movement and to keep it focused and unified. These things, at least, must be solid.

OWS is doing great work with Sandy relief, but that is not a protest movement.

7:54 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Reader-

I thought it was Reagan who said that ketchup was a vegetable...

mb

8:38 PM  
Anonymous sanctuary! said...

Re. Hillary Clinton: Al Jazeera is Real News

In the U.S., Al-J was already spottily available on cable and satellite, but the network bought Al Gore's Current TV the other day, so now a few dozen more 'Mericans will get the corporate worldview w/ a spritz of Arabia. I wld rather watch costumed zanies whacking each other over the kopf w/ wiffle bats (& down deep, wouldn't u?). Predictably, on the web True 'Mericans (TM) are tumbling on to damn the deal as traitorous. Everything feels like fake opposition these days...like zanies w/ slapsticks.... Still drinking eggnog & Old Kentucky & it's Jan. 4.

8:44 PM  
Anonymous LarryA said...

Earl Butz, that's a name that revives nightmares of the time. As Nixon's Secretary of Agriculture, he admonished small, family farmers to "get big or go away" and enabled industrialized, corporate farming via subsidies to criminal enterprises such as Monsanto. Monsanto is still around, poisoning and monopolizing the world's food supply, but the small family farm? Virtually extinct. As I recall, very few people gave a shit. The more things change, the more they remain the same...

8:56 PM  
Anonymous in.fern.all said...

Mr. B,

I don't think I can bring myself to pee on anyone; I'm too genteel. Besides, It's hardly a way to win hearts and minds: it would most likely backfire and cause a retrenchment of the opposition. At any rate, my personal plumbing doesn't allow for such freedom of expression. Since I use various modern technologies (pc, flush toilet, electric lights,refrigerator) I need to be very careful as to my criticisms, lest I be a hypocrite. If I had to condense them down to the fewest possible words they would be 1. overuse/overdependency, and 2. totalitarian bias. The more sparingly and judiciously we use these devices, the more personal power we retain. Beyond that, I'm reluctant to tell people how to live their lives despite my gagging and dry heaves.
I don't believe the decline of petroleum as an energy source will have much influence on the accessibility of communications tech. We have solar powered server farms, cell phones and laptops, and the mind-control benefits for the ruling elite are too great to simply let them go by the wayside. Consider the people who live "second lives" in virtual worlds filled with virtual products--a veritable emporer's robe economy(ahem,"dematerialized", for all the Bucky Fuller fans out there), with "the people" as the emperor, the rulers as the swindling "weavers", and the little boy, who would proclaim the truth, nowhere to be found. Mark my word, these perception altering gadgets will be the last thing to go.

10:24 PM  
Blogger Reader said...

Actually, Butz said it first, under Nixon, who also said it. But, it was under Reagan that the new, significantly less nutritious school lunch program was implemented; and no doubt he said it, as well.

10:53 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Fern-

That's too bad; the Wafer Urine Movement (WUM) needs every able-bodied beer drinker around. Keep in mind we are not trying to win hearts and minds, as Americans don't have much of either. As for petroleum and the Net etc., Joel Magnuson makes a gd case for the interconnection, so I suspect yr wrong. But you'll hafta wait for the bk to come out ("The Approaching Great Transformation").

mb

11:58 PM  
Anonymous Rufusteena Firefly said...

Reader
I have no doubt that you did wonderful work in those years of facing off with the government. Thank you for your efforts.

Just as an aside, I will place myself in time by saying the first vote I was old enough to cast in a national election was for JFK. Also, an older friend of mine was in his first year of teaching as an assistant professor at Kent State when THAT awful incident occurred. I am too young to have been a beatnik but I have an acquaintance twenty years older than I who was "gray listed" by none other than Joe McCarthy's committee. I went back to grad school in 1966 and was in a work-study program with three young hippies and three years later worked with an earnest young liberal, all of whom helped me find my political center--which is currently far too far to the left to even see the nearest Democrat.

I find that my high school classmates, with the exception of one or two, are moderate Republicans, as are my cousins--not rabid but implacable in their political orientation. Why are OWSers called "hippies" by these people? And why do many people of my age more often associate hippies with Woodstock and all that implies rather than with serious political activism? Have you wondered, ever, why you think of OWSsers as useless because they don't do things the way you did them or would do them? Do you think that the Feds and local police could have something to do with the OSWsers' choice of method--or seeming lack thereof? Have you ever read the book about strategies of resistance called "The Starfish and the Spider"(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Starfish_and_the_Spider)?

Methods used when you were in conflict with the government and those used now cannot be the same because conditions are not anywhere near the same. I'd be interested in hearing if anything changes in your opinion of OWS after considering all the above. Thank you.

And now I really will go back into my cave--and stay there, this time.

1:55 AM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

Rufusteena & Seth,

I tend to agree with what you two are saying wrt OWS.
My analogy is that, more than trying to be a classical protest/opposition movement, OWS in its early phases was more about people showing each other that they were/are not alone in opposing The System as it exists today. Sure, maybe they wanted "the 1%" to get the message as well, but OWS's long-term value my prove to be that it provided an opportunity for networking among people from a variety of ages/classes/races/etc that might not otherwise have gotten together and exchanged notes & viewpoints in today's environment, in which the spectrum of political dialogue is dominated by people & media organs that represent the limited bandwidth of the status quo.
To the extent that they were infiltrated/co-opted from whatever point and by whatever group(s), maybe they were suckered in and will be rounded up at some point, maybe whenever the prison segment of the MIPP complex (the other P is for Pharma) has a high enough vacancy rate to cause their bottom line to suffer. But, maybe there are enough NRA activists and Tea Party vocalists to keep the camps full and the machinery generating profits. On that note, I'm sure plenty of us who became politically non-Euclidean by jumping up off the gameboard from the left hand side will be less surprised than NRA and TP'ers who find themselves wards of the state (and houseguests of the MIPP complex, to whatever extent there is any functional difference between the two).

in.fern.all
I'm a fan of Bucky Fuller and have read many of his more popular books and a couple of the less popular ones. I am not familiar with anything he wrote that would resonate with your "dematerialization" or be taken as an endorsement for living cyber lives as compared to real ones. I did miss the entire Winnie the Pooh series as a child, so maybe some big meme of Bucky's whizzed by me in later years. Please elaborate at your convenience.

5:42 PM  

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