June 24, 2013


Hi There Waferinos! Time for a new post. I should say that I have the following four potential posts in the wings, but it's not quite time for them yet, so we'll have to go with 182 for the time being:

1. The video of the lecture I gave on June 22 at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, MI. This was part of receiving the Neil Postman Award for Public Intellectual Activity, and was called "In Praise of Shadows." As soon as I have the link, so will you.

2. Promo material for my new book, Spinning Straw Into Gold. We are literally a week away from posting it on Amazon (cross fingers).

3. The "Bermversation." This is nearly three months old, recorded when I was in Vancouver in early April. What those folks have been doing with this tape, I have no idea. Using it for dental floss, maybe. But it'll be worth waiting for, because it discusses the new movement, Moveovergeorge.org, which aims to take the 1st president off the $1 bill and put Kim's rump on there instead; a heartwarming development that I think captures the tenor of the times.

4. Announcement for the return of my book Coming to Our Senses. Yes, I kid you not. A long story, and I won't bore you with the details, but CTOS is soon to be listed on Amazon once again, and not just as a used book. Hooray! Suggest you all get one for the kitchen, one for the bathroom.

Anyway, stay tuned to the most exciting website this side of obama.pure-horseshit.gov.

Wafers Rule!


Anonymous sanctuary! said...

America will kiss heaven when an LGBT runs Gitmo, or is CEO of Goldman-Sachs. That's the prog dream.

Until that mountaintop moment, Americans can continued noshing on Death --

"What shall we do in a post-collapse world?" is written in the wrong tense, amigos. It's 2040 now; that's my slogan. Why wait? After all, how many times do we say "I shoulda done yadda 20 yrs ago"?

It's an interesting thought exp to assume that it's 2040 & that kapitalism is kaput & then ask urself: what'll I do today?

7:16 PM  
Anonymous Shane W said...

In regards to sub-Saharan Africa, I was thinking back to Twilight, when you mentioned the role of Irish monasteries in preserving Greco-Roman knowledge during the Dark Ages, to be rediscovered during the renaissance, and where you mentioned that the renaissance is always on the periphery (eg, NOT Rome or NOT the US). I was extrapolating that to the current situation, thinking, "which part(s) of the world have the most sustainable lifestyle, use the least energy, and are the most resilient or resourceful, things I consider to be most valuable in a post-carbon, post-techno-industrial-capitalist world. I'm not so sure that it is so much based on political resistance to the current status quo as much as it is identifying the cultures best adapted to a sustainable, zero-growth, post-capitalist world. Obviously, the US is ground zero, the belly of the beast, and the worst, so, therefore, the question becomes, which culture(s) is/are the least affected/connected to the US techno/industrial/consumer capitalism? Political thorns in the US side, like Iran, Venezuela, Russia, etc. are often very involved or dependent on the global economy through oil and other resources, so while they may function as a political antidote to US power in the current setup, they're much more engaged in our system and way of life than other societies. I was thinking of societies that may not be as VOCALLY opposed to the US as actually less engaged with our culture/economy

8:30 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Renaissance was not in Irish monasteries in 4C, but in northern Europe in 10-11C--the urban revival, or early renaissance. That was the periphery at that time, i.e. peripheral to the old Roman Empire. Anyway, I doubt Africa will be it this time around, but who knows.


9:07 PM  
Anonymous Troutbum said...

Dr. Berman and fellow WAFers across the planet:

Today, I want to call your attention to a blog by fellow WAFer, James Howard Kunstler who writes every Monday AM @ http://kunstler.com

This Monday he writes:
" The USA slogs deeper into paralysis and decay in a collective mental fog of disbelief that its own exceptionalism can’t overcome the laws of thermodynamics. This general malaise precipitates into a range of specific quandaries. The so-called economy depends on financialization, since it is no longer based on manufacturing things of value. The financialization depends on housing, that is, a particular kind of housing: suburban sprawl housing (and its commercial accessories, the strip malls, the box stores, the burger shacks, etc.).....

Apart from that unhappy equation, entropy never sleeps. Everything in America except the Apple stores and a handful of big banks is falling apart — especially the human habitat and households. Suburbia will only lose value and utility. Big cities will have to get smaller (ouch!). Tar sands, shale oil and shale gas will not ride to the rescue (they cost too much to get out of the ground). The entire declension of government from federal to state to local will be too broke to fix the roads and make “transfer payments” to idle, indigent citizens. This populace will lose faith in their institutions… and disorder will eventually resolve in a new and very different disposition of things on-the-ground. If we’re lucky, this will not include cruel despotic leadership and war.......

China is imploding under the weight of its half-assed crony command economy and banking system. Nice try. Cookie fortune says, “Industrial era entered too late in game.” All else there is desperation: e.g. the idea of moving hundreds of millions of peasants into new cities. As Tony would say, “Fuggeddabowdit.”"

It's a short read and it's always delicious even without fortune cookies.

9:12 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

This from an article by David Cole in the NYRB, June 20:

Since 1960, more than 1.3 million Americans have died from firearms. The US firearms homicide rate is 20x higher than the combined rate of the next 22 high-income developed nations. Between 2000 and 2008 there were more than 30,000 gun deaths a year in the US, for an avg of more than 80 per day. Every year, 2x as many people are killed in the US by guns than die of terrorist attacks worldwide. Americans face a one in 3.5 million chance of being killed in a terrorist attack, but a one in 22,000 chance of being murdered. However, only 26% of Americans favor banning handguns.

10:03 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Douche Bag Nation Dept.:



5:35 AM  
Anonymous Golf Pro said...

Interesting read:


5:40 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...


But at least those handgun deaths have been for something truly meaningful & important, e.g., buying celebrity footwear:


8:38 AM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...


David Cole at NYRB like most progs gets it somewhat wrong. Most firearms deaths are due to suicide and not murder. If you look at the data, you will see the biggest threat is not a loon with a gun but the person you see in the mirror. Like most progs Cole cant do math or data--why let details get in the way?

11:28 AM  
Blogger NearFar said...

@Dr. Hackenbush - I'm scrambling to get some last-minute things done, and will probably reference our back-and-forth in future threads, but as MB might tell us: we probably both have bigger fish to fry. To my mind, Hedges' Death of the Liberal Class (DLC) demonstrates how liberal institutions (the media, the university, the Church, the arts, the Democratic Party, labor unions), by abrogating their roles within a traditional democracy (and we were never really a democracy--Chomsky makes a strong case that we were never set up to be one in the first place. Chomsky prefers the term polyarchy) were complicit in the rise of the corporate state and facilitated their (the liberal class) own demise. The essential focus, to my reading of it, is this: did the liberal class have a useful role to play on behalf of the power elite? Yes they did. But now our liberal institutions are discredited and, if anything, primarily serve corporate interests: as I outlined above. Did the power elite screw themselves? In a sense. But as MB said elsewhere, they don't care if our system is chopped-liverism: as long as they're in charge.

@ellen - thanks, a brilliant-quick take on the current dynamics of this and, if Dr. Hackenbush is agreeable, I will let yours be the last word.

@Tim Lukeman - You point out some essential facets of all this. Hedges says in a video lecture at Zuccotti Park, that once MLK began pissing off white northern liberals, his fate was sealed. And when King spoke out against the Vietnam War, LBJ removed the 3-man FBI security team he had accompanying King (almost a year to the day MLK was assasinated). You also raise another point that DLC addresses: what is one of the things that filled the vacuum left open, once the liberal class & its institutions betrayed their roots, severing themselves from both their vital role in a functioning democracy and the life-blood of popular and progressive movements? You recognized it: identity politics. That is one of the big ones that fills that vaccum. It is anemic at best. Faux-liberalism, boutique activism.

11:41 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Cole's figs for firearm deaths include suicide, homicide, and accidents. But yr rt, he didn't break it down. However, his figs for homicide rate in US are corroborated by other sources. We're No. 1! (if u exclude hairy political situations, such as Colombia)


12:43 PM  
Anonymous James Newlin said...

How much did China's demand for silver in the 16th century ultimately lead to the hustling then decline of America? If this demand hadn't been there, it's possible the European colonization of America never would have happened.

Maybe America's story could begin by talking about the consumption of the Ming Dynasty?

12:51 PM  
Anonymous Shane w said...

I wasn't clear, I was thinking of a "reverse Renaissance", whereby those things that have been progressively discarded since the beginning of the Renaissance and age of reason are rediscovered. Which cultures are the "wealthiest" in that regard?

1:04 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and Waferinos (I like it),

Dr. B-

Jesus, what god-awful statistics. 1.3 million Americans KIA from firearms since 1960 is a stark reminder of how lost and deranged the nation is. What to do when this kind of evidence is essentially ignored by the majority?

Congratulations again on receiving the Neil Postman Award for Public Intellectual; a most deserving award. I was so excited to read about the release of SSIG and the reissue of CTOS that I put my pants on backwards this morning! I'm looking forward to reading both and posting Amazon reviews. In the spirit of Eric Hoffer, I'm a "true believer" in Moveovergeorge.org. We need a tag line for the movement. How about, "Moveovergeorge.org: Democracy in Action... you bet your ass"?

Wafers and Dr. B-

Looks like president Obama is about to lay out some more crapola regarding the environment today. It never ceases to amaze me that when he speaks one way about an issue, the exact opposite occurs. It's magical I tell ya...



1:17 PM  
Anonymous Jim said...


I'm on a Hedges kick the past week. I pulled Losing Moses on The Freeway: The 10 Commandments in America, because I had nothing to read and haven't been able to hit my state library--too busy slaving for the man.

Then, two nights ago, I started plowing through The Death of the Liberal Class. Dovetails nicely with much of Dr. Berman's work, Kunstler, JM Greer, Orlov, etc. Each bring a common structure, but a unique variation; think a different chord voicing, but it's the same song and it's surely not never-ending progress that's for sure.

According to Hedges, we've been on the downward slope since 1917.

Having read Chomsky extensively, as well as Zinn's take on history, these writers/thinkers have helped me frame a worldview that helps me know which way the wind's blowing.

I was reading last night and Hedges (summarizing Russell Jacoby) was commenting onb public intellectuals, like Lewis Mumford, Edmund Wilson, John Kenneth Galbraith, etc. who actually wrote for public consumption and were read widely, by the common man, unlike today's intellectuals who "cluster in universities, producing monographs and articles read by a select few." Not that the common man in the 21st century could handle Mumford; in fact whenever I cite him, I just get a blank look.

1:39 PM  
Anonymous joe hohos said...


Par for the course dept

Also, a few interesting gun facts. We average 3.5 homicides by gun for every 100,000 people, while no other country in the west is even at 1.

Walden Two, by B.F Skinner seems to advocate many waferian values.

2:20 PM  
Anonymous Politically Incorrect said...


That brought a chuckle...

I can see it now
The big O and Oprah,
bending over a hot stove
only we can't see the stove...

having a sense of humor about all this sure does help one get through the days...

2:39 PM  
Anonymous Jesse said...

Do not watch the video here if you are not strong - the video shows a man who invaded a home and beat a woman mercilessly:


This is coming from the most "civilized" nation. I tell you, some people are worse than animals.
America is really sick in the head and heart!

3:00 PM  
Anonymous Edward said...

Recent article by Chris Hedges may be signaling something new in hsi thinking. Read a passage:

Kasrils in his autobiography tells of an incident involving a South African death squad led by the notorious killer and former police colonel Eugene de Kock. De Kock was the commanding officer of C1, a counterinsurgency unit of the South African police that in the 1980s and 1990s kidnapped, tortured and murdered hundreds of anti-apartheid activists and ANC leaders. He and his hit squad had recently assassinated three of Kasril’s ANC comrades. Kasrils tracked de Kock, nicknamed “Prime Evil” and now serving a life sentence in South Africa, along with de Kock’s squad of killers, to a hotel. Kasrils organized a group of ANC insurgents to gun down the members of the hit squad there. De Kock and his men had left, however, before Kasrils and his party burst into the room where they had been. I asked Kasrils if he would, should the situation be repeated today, organize an armed group to kill de Kock and his hit men.

“I see this as similar to the French Resistance and the resistance in Europe against the Nazis,” he said. “So, you know there were the battles in the open, but most of the battles were by stealth. I don’t think there’s anything morally wrong in the battle of stealth against power when you are engaged in a war. They had killed, murdered in cold blood, three of our people in Swaziland. You’ve got to take harsh decisions at times, and this is in the context of an ongoing war there. … I put it within the context of a revolutionary war.” He said, nevertheless, that “when I look back and I meet some of these people who we fought before and I hear from them how they knew someone who died, I wish that that person didn’t have to die.”


3:37 PM  
Anonymous satyaSarika said...

@Mb I begin to understand your deli delight after my trip to NY state, where I was treated to pastrami, corned beef, pickled tomatoes and potato salad from the 2nd Ave deli. The provider of said feast is a right wing twit so i guess I can be said to have sold my soul for pastrami on rye.

That was the highlight of my trip, after holding new granddaughter (puir wee bairin). Sadly, daughter in law is firmly in the american dolt camp, and son is not far behind.

@martin: Please don't go to texas, unless it's Austin, where I here there is some semblance of sanity. i think you'll be even more unhappy there.

A good article from Rebecca Solnit on the takeover of San Franscisco by technobuffoons: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/southkorea/10138403/Surge-in-digital-dementia.html

5:09 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Actually, I'm gonna be in NY in Nov., and am planning to have the 2nd Ave Deli prepare a tub of chopped liver for me, so I can do a kind of mud pack thing. How I'll manage to hold out for 5 mos., I have no idea.


6:05 PM  
Anonymous Ass Puncher said...

Berman is exactly right about Americans and their inability to acknowledge what's happening to this country. If you say anything remotely "negative" then you become a pariah. When I share news items on Farcebook about the latest Wall Street scandal or the Trans-Pacific Partnership, I notice that I begin to lose "friends." I appreciate Hedges, but he seems to romanticize the idea of "dying with your boots on." Die for what though? For this idiotocracy? For a bunch of social darwinist pigfuckers who would rather let the nation go bankrupt than allow the whole population to have free healthcare? Not my idea of honor, but to each his own.

10:22 PM  
Anonymous Kyle H said...


What is your opinion on all of the delusional happy talk making its way around the America public over the last decade or so? Crazy talk like "We'll never run out of oil! :)" or "Climate change is bullshit! :)". This bizarre eternal optimism is just plain depressing for anyone with half a brain cell. When some of my co-workers were talking about the news I tried to bring up the NDAA and how The United States can indefinitely detain citizens now. Of course, I was given weird looks and someone even had the audacity to call me a "conspiracy theorist".

10:34 PM  
Anonymous Joe doesn't know said...

From the "angry and stupid is a dangerous combination" dept:


1:26 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Kyle, Ass-

Alexis de Tocqueville said American democracy cd only work with an intelligent population. He didn't say what wd happen if we became a collection of 315 million moronic douche bags, but it's not hard to guess. As far as 'friends' in America: what a joke. There are neither friends nor community, only 'networks' (of douche bags). We managed to hustle ourselves into the grave. Now, it's all over but the shouting.


1:41 AM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Dr. Berman

"There are neither friends nor community, only 'networks' (of douche bags)."

I can't freaking stand it. I desire a friendship that is deep, meaningful and lasts. As I am discovering how America truthfully works and what I am being told to succeed here I have to restrain my gag reflex.

What happened to all of the deep and meaningful friendships? What ever happened to helping each other out and caring for one another? Why can't one just go to college just to improve his thinking skills and expand his horizons? Why is the sole purpose of college these days is just for obtaining a career?

Finally, why is it every time I say anything remotely negative it is swept under the rug and people get angry and have cardiac arrest? We live in a carnival freak show.

7:32 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I often wanna pat u on the head and say, "There, there." But let me add: why restrain yr gag reflex? Just let it fly!


9:17 AM  
Anonymous Martin Ramirez said...

@SatyaSarika: Don't worry. I have already negotiated to either remain in Mexico,or study abroad at a nicer country such as Norway.
@Troutburn: What should China's most aware do? I hope the country's future could have a positive path in store for it. If Chinese culture has endured for a relatively long time (five thousand years, and even the Mongolian conquerors assimilated), surely it could gradually sneak out of modern capitalism into another paradigm throughout the twenty-first century?
As for Kunstler, he called Arab peoples "camel jockeys who won the lottery" (regarding oil), said rthat Mesoamricans were "evil cannibals", and he seems to have fantasies about subduing women and gays, which seeped over into his "World Made by Hand" novel. He also whitewashes the Israeli government's oppression of Palestinians. Especially since I fit some of the characterics he dislikes (of Arab heritage on my paternal side and genderqueer), fuck that quasi-racist, mysoginistic, homophobic New York Ashkenazi geezer who daydreams with post-industrial power trips. They may accurately chronicle the collapse, but trust me, you don't want to live under his, Orlov's or Greer's social prescriptions.
@Morris Berman: Is there any chance we could preserve some accomplishments of the last few centuries through means such as printing presses and telegraphs, using dedicated communities to disseminate information?

9:21 AM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...

Cube & ass puncher,

The U.S. is indeed a freak show. Chris Hedges and Snowden are certainly fine people. Heroic. Snowden sacrificed a cush jub and living in Hawaii with a pole dancer to inform his fellow citizens. Hedges braves approbium and probably lost chance at a secure sinecure to inform his fellow citizens. Despite my deep admiration and respect for both they seem to have missed the point that their fellow citizens are not worth these sacrifices. Me at 29 I would have just gone on living with the pole dancer in hawai and taken up being a well accessorized NMI. Hell I would do it at 49 too.

10:10 AM  
Blogger jml said...

martin - where in texas? pockets of houston are interesting and tolerable. houston is now the most diverse city in the nation. if you stay out of the 'burbs, it can be an ok place to live and study. the cultural aspects make it much more interesting than austin or dallas imo.

10:23 AM  
Anonymous k_pgh said...


“This spring students, parents, and teachers in New York schools responded to administration of new Common Core tests developed by Pearson Inc. with a general outcry against their length, difficulty, and inappropriate content. Pearson included corporate logos and promotional material in reading passages. Students reported feeling overstressed and underprepared—meeting the tests with shock, anger, tears, and anxiety. Administrators requested guidelines for handling tests students had vomited on.”

10:24 AM  
Blogger Paul Brodsky said...

Regarding friendships in America, I`d like to add a few points. I immigrated to the US from Russia with my family in `95, when I was 10 years old (I now live in Montreal). I can honestly say that I developed ONE meaningful friendship during my 15 years in the states.....with a Russian-speaking person:) The rest of the people I came across were simply that...people I came across. No interesting conversations and nothing to talk about with the average American. Topics are limited to food and the weather. Furthermore, and I`m not alone here, many immigrants to the US that I`ve spoken to have one similar complaint: Americans are not interested in getting to truly know a person. They`ll smile at you, ask you about your day, but thats about as far as you`ll go.

11:05 AM  
Blogger Paul Brodsky said...

Regarding friendships in the US, Professor youre right on point. They dont exist. It`s all about `networking`(God I hate that word). Immigrated to the US from Russia in 95 with my family when I was 10. Never could adapt to US culture, way of life etc. My parents adapted, however. Glad to say I am now living in Montreal.

11:09 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Spasiba, ochen' priatno, and welcome to the blog. One rule we have here: post only once every 24 hours, thank u. As for your encounter with Americans: the problem is that instead of brains, they have pirozhki inside their heads. Strashno.


Delighted to hear abt the vomit. This *does* show real intelligence. Hopefully students will go to W.H. and do same on Obama's Guccis.


1st we need to create those communities, and Americans are generally not interested in that.


11:31 AM  
Blogger EditNetwork said...

Apropos of nothing (or perhaps everything), here is a probing & provocative book review, by Robt. W. Merry of The National Interest. His subject is John Gray's latest, "The Silence of Animals: On Progress and Other Modern Myths." http://ukiahcommunityblog.wordpress.com/2013/06/26/the-fallacy-of-human-freedom/

3:50 PM  
Anonymous sanctuary! said...

My sympathy for the whole getting-to-know-people thing is not unlimited.

As a general rule, the more people I've interacted w/, the worse things became for me. The amt of crookedness & "motiveless malice" out there, denied by Oprah, is crippling (my mileage). However, I concede I was born & bred in the United Snakes and lived there 40+ yrs.

The United Snakes...where 'burb people have perfect lawns & new cars & happy smiles but can't keep a promise or refrain from stealing anything that isn't nailed down.

Seems techno-buffoonery is part of a vicious downward spiral: ppl turn to their Screens to escape dolt-world and, thus endoltifying themselves, become part of the problem, which they try to escape by turning to etc etc. Being whirled down a drain involves vortex pressure, of course. MB's analogy to substance abuse and ref to path dependence are apt. No individual "bootstrap" solution could have halted Rome's fall. Ppl are, always, part of a larger collective - & our collective (to change the metaphor) is falling like a leaf in Autumn.

4:27 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

There's a fascinating new book about which I intend to buy shortly, and I think fellow WAFers will find it of interest too: America's Deadliest Export: Democracy - The Truth About US Foreign Policy and Everything Else, by William Blum.

Also of interest: National Insecurity: The Cost of American Militarism, by Melvin Goodman.

6:14 PM  
Anonymous Winter in America said...

Knowing you're on an outing I'll run this out the flag pole anyway. Dr. Hackenbush pretty much summed up, in all his interventions, where I was coming from in sharing the N. Wolf link and he did a fine job of it imho.

My "nuff said" remark, wasn't meant as an end to the exchange on NW or Snowden, more to the point it was meant as a period to conclude my clarification as to why I cited the NW link. I can see how it could be misconstrued as something other. My apologies — all the best on your travels.

Dr. H.,
Have you seen the WAPO Wonkbook entry Wonkbook: Does Edward Snowden even exist?

No, the authors aren't insinuating Snowden isn't real. Their clarifier reads: (Editor’s note for the literal minded: It is not, in fact, all too perfect, and this column is not actually suggesting Edward Snowden isn’t real. It’s just a conceit to make a larger point.)

On 6/26/13 the Times published Under Snowden Screen Name, 2009 Post Berated Leaks.

Disclaimer: I don't know the background of, or where these writers fall on the ideological spectrum, or their motivations for writing these articles. I'm just sharing the info — just some more food-for-thought.

10:03 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Don' Mess With Texas Dept.:


11:04 PM  
Anonymous LW said...

Hey all, good news! Real debate and discussion (about actual issues) is about to hit the airwaves! No more fake, left/right talking points, check it out for yourself and restore your faith in America!


12:28 AM  
Anonymous Bingo said...

Paul Brodsky,
My experience exactly, except that I came to the US from Romania. Basically, Americans are interested in sizing you up to see how they may profit. Until 5 or 6 years ago, many immigrants would have accepted the “interpersonal vacuum” of America for its economic benefits. However, today it makes no sense to live in the US, even from an economic point of view.

And the reasons to leave the US are not limited to its current economic hardship and social isolation. The most urgent reason to leave is the rise of this monstrous police state we see here. I was raised in Communist Romania, which was one of the most repressive regimes of Eastern Europe, but I never felt as unsafe and as creeped out as I am in the US today.

I lived in Houston. The biggest problem with Houston is that it is VERY polluted. It is littered with aging oil refineries and chemical plants constantly spewing out toxic chemicals. The stench in the air changes from day to day depending on what chemical is being illegally released. The water is equally toxic. It does not matter in what part of Houston you lives, the pollution will be a major problem. You lose years of life by living in Houston.

Re. N Wolf’s take or Snowden:
Why should we care about what a lady who rubs shoulders with Arianna Huffington has to say? Personally, I never bought her books and I get annoyed every time I hear her speak on some worthless MSM show.

2:20 AM  
Anonymous Edward said...

Don's get sick in America:

Wladyslaw Haniszewski was at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Jersey when he suffered a stroke that left him comatose. However, when hospital staff learned he was an undocumented immigrant from Poland, the stroke victim was deported to his native country -- while unconscious.

According to The New York Daily News, Polish officials were furious when they received the 69-year-old Polish immigrant under the circumstances.

"Imagine being carted around like a sack of potatoes," Ewa Junczyk-Ziomecka, Poland's consul general in New York, told the outlet.

Haniszewski, though undocumented and uninsured, had resided in the New Jersey town of Perth Amboy for the better part of 30 years. He was previously admitted to the New Brunswick hospital by a friend for symptoms relating to his blood disease before he suffered a stroke this month.


3:35 AM  
Anonymous ellen said...

Apologies for my earlier double posting, Dr B. I got carried away with the drama on this most exciting website.

The 'Insider Threat Programme' is revealing:

'WASHINGTON — Even before a former U.S. intelligence contractor exposed the secret collection of Americans’ phone records, the Obama administration was pressing a government-wide crackdown on security threats that requires federal employees to keep closer tabs on their co-workers and exhorts managers to punish those who fail to report their suspicions.'

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/06/20/194513/obamas-crackdown-views-leaks-as.html#.Ucm7bvpwZjp#storylink=cpy

A few years ago I remember reading that both the US and UK had employed several of the top ex-Stasi men, but when I went looking for the reports again several days later I could no longer locate them on the net. It did immediately put me in mind of 'Operation Paperclip' where useful Nasties were snatched and whitewashed by the victors and redeployed at the end of the WW2 hostilities.

A good film (the only one??)on the DDR and wholesale spying on the populace:


6:59 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Yes, it seems clear we are in the midst of the emergence of a full-fledged police state. Pretty scary. I read that the Stasi spied on 3 out of every 7 East Germans. Now the US spies on 7 out of every 7 Americans.

As for medical care: this happened a few yrs ago at a hospital in Bklyn:


Video shows at least one other person in waiting rm just sitting there, watching the victim collapse, and doing nothing abt it. Staff did zip for an hr, then falsified records to cover ass. Reminds me of my essay in QOV, "Ik Is Us."


8:48 AM  
Anonymous Martin Ramirez said...

JML: What Bingo said about Houston, and unfortunately, it would be San Antonio or Brownsville. My wealthier uncles bought a cookie-cutter McHouse over there which looks comfortable on the inside, but is ugly as sin from an aesthetic point of view. If you take into account this lack of artistic style and modern infrastructure failures, even the lower middle class sections in Latin America are more beautiful than their Yankee counterparts today.
@Bingo: Weren't you back in Romania? If you have the citizenship, what is stopping you from returning? You have no idea what I would give to be in such a position. My family is even thinking of bribing Jesuits (I hate the Catholic Church myself) to help me study abroad (in any place that isn't 'Murika).

10:48 AM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

"Gingrich maintained that it was a blow to democracy and traditional marriage."

If I was Morgan, I would've said "I am ignorant on many matters such as this and I do not understand your response. Can you explain how it is a blow to democracy and traditional marriage?"

For real though, how does Gingrich come to his conclusion? What is his thought process and logical reasoning to this?

Paul and Bingo, what are both of your countries like? Does the general population respect those who are different from the norm? Is the general population tolerant of differences?

10:58 AM  
Anonymous James Newlin said...

@jml @ Bingo: There are tolerable pockets in every city, but Houston has more negatives (car-dependent, pollution, junk food, economic segregation) than pros (Menil, Miller Outdoor Theater, Rice, fine arts, performing arts). If you haven't seen it, read: Houston. It's Worth It.

Also, don't forget about "purple drank".

Something else -- I recommend John Seymour's books. John Seymour (1914 - 2004) spent much of his life farming and studying the rural way of life, including endangered traditional crafts and techniques. He is the author of The Guide to Self-Sufficiency, The Self-Sufficient Gardener, and The Forgotten Crafts.

11:17 AM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...


I note a bit of Malinchismo. Are you intending to pursue a field of study not available in Mexican Universities? What is wrong with El Tec and perhaps even its Cuernavaca Campus? Unam is pretty awesome as are some of the newer campusus around the country. Chile and or Argentina would be fun and all would be a lot less expensive than Norway or U.S. Just curious what young people are thinking these days......Yes I am a Mexican, former professor and even a PhD I'm afraid. Made sense in the 70's can't see that its the case now though manito.

2:46 PM  
Anonymous Dr. Hackenbush said...

Mike- I'm sure the William Blum book is worthwhile to read, but personally I'm a little burnt out on that genre of books. (This blog is enuff :)) I'm glad they're out there, but I feel like I've read plenty of them to get the general drift. I guess publishing new ones can add a tweak here or there, and hopefully wake more people up to some degree of wakefulness.

One thing I wonder is whether there's a lot more of them in the past few years, or if there's always been waves of them and I'm just late coming to the party.

Winter- Thanks for the compliment. I will definitely check those links out when I get a chance.

7:10 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

What trash America generates: Kerry, Dershowitz, Gregory:


12:39 AM  
Anonymous Michael in Oceania said...


Great to see CTOS back in print. I still have my copy from the 1990's in my home library.

Is this a straight reprint, or is it a revised edition?

1:18 AM  
Blogger jml said...

a while back we talked about possible brain damage from screen technology, well here's some proof:


seems the right side of the brain is being underdeveloped as a result of all of this screen dependency. the right side is the side that we use for creativity and intuition. at the same time that this is happening, arts programs are being cut. here in texas, we just had to make the case (again) to keep art part of the college core curriculum. people who take art classes become much more observant - there have been many studies about this.
it seems we are creating a generation of zombies who made this deal with the devil: "give me your brain and i will give you this cool toy."
i may have shared this at one time, but last fall, i had a student who brought an interesting book to class. i wanted to remember the name of the author and title so i got a scrap of paper and began writing it down. he said,"you don't have a phone?" i said, "phone? what does that have to do with this book?" he said,"you could just take a photo of the cover." writing it down seemed foreign and archaic to him. i said, "better yet, i could just read the name of the author and title and remember it!"

6:41 AM  
Anonymous Martin Ramirez said...

@Capo Regime: Yes, Mexico has fine universities, but we face the problems of rampant unemployment, "right-to-work"-esque treatment of workers, and acts of violence by organized crime enabled by the banks' money laundering (thanks, neoliberalism!). And unfortunately, I can't take on these problems alone, and most of the routine protests seem to be ineffective demonstrations of discontent, false-flag government operations to discredit independent activism, or both. If that wasn't enough, the separation of church and state is also endangered: https://twitter.com/anonopshispano/status/347101803562799106
So far, real estate in San Antonio has been the only productive enterprise for my family, and if possible, I would prefer to negotiate so I could study somewhere else. But maybe Chile and Argentina are good options.
P.S.: If I become president, I will declare "Castrate a Priest or Neolib/Libertarian Economist Day" a state holiday.

8:54 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


It's not listed on Amazon yet, actually; I need to check with the distributor, Book Clearing House, as to when that will happen. It's already listed on their website: www.bookch.com, however. Not a revised edn, but a reprint I did in the 90s under the Seattle Writers Guild. Long story, in any case, but it shd be posted on Amazon b4 2 long.


9:06 AM  
Blogger NearFar said...

Hi WAFers,

No wi-fi buffoonery during the truthdig trek (see link above if this sounds presumptuous). Chris Hedges read his newest column to the group. Very humorous and down right bawdy. Didn't think I'd ever use those words to describe a CH column. I won't give it away, but his next piece on truthdig is about 'bowl phones'. And it will be accompanied by an audio recording of the interview CH did when he first learned about the multiplicity of uses for the bowl phone. Anyhow, I'll check in next week.

@Winter - no hard feelings on my end & no offense taken. And I didn't get the sense that you were cutting off the dialogue. Thanks for your kind words and wishing me happy trails.

@Edward - Tracking w/ you on the latest CH piece. In fact, I've already asked one of the hikers abt their own take on this, and they were in agreement. I also mentioned during our conversation, that what troubled me abt the piece was that Kasrils, who wasn't afraid to use extreme violence against the state, expressed real concern about how to fight the corporate state, ie., this was going to be difficult, if not impossible, to come up with strategies and tactics.

@Jim - CH's books help me to find a kind of "voice and address" for my anger (and a rage that I feel just below the surface that is blind and ineffectual). At other times, I feel a kind of numbness abt what's happening to us, because it seems overwhelming, and CH's words can be like those yellow sticky-note reminders of what matters. I agree with you that his work dovetails with MB's. Both communicate to me, and I believe other readers too, on multiple levels. I connect their work to my past reading experiences of writers who bring a counter-voice to the traditional voices who we are taught are supposed to matter, or canonical voices who we are supposed to embrace. I connect these readings up to many poets before, who read as militant outsiders, not valued for what turns out to be, ultimately, more of the same indoctrination inside the embrace of spectacle and empire. George Oppen is one of those poets who I believe gives us a counter-tradition to think abt along with CH & MB. In the past few days I've been meditating on these lines from his poem "Route":

Department of Plants and Structures -- obsolete, the old name
in this city, of the public works

Tho we meant to entangle ourselves in the roots of the world...

10:28 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

Dr Berman,

I think u will enjoy this article in counterpunch, today, 6-28-2013, if u haven't.


It is way too complex for me to digest, but, it is a book review written about:

"David Caute, author of Isaac and Isaiah: the Covert Punishment of a Cold War Heretic, has long been a historian of ideas and a novelist. I always preferred the latter persona, in particular Comrade Jacob, a generally sympathetic account of Winstanley and the Diggers during the English Revolution (his history tutor at Oxford was Christopher Hill)."

I just read, last night, of the Diggers at St George's Hill in 1649. I guess one of the worst ideas of humanity is 'private property'.

1:06 PM  
Anonymous ellen said...

Greetings from Airstrip 1,

First we have the latest on the unholy connections between spies, priests and the Vatican Bank:


Then Professor Ludlow on unholy alliances between private spies, dodgy corporate business, the DoJ and law enforcement:


and then someone called Em who asks some very good questions about the possible ramifications of these public/private partnerships that no-one in authority wants aired:


2:22 PM  
Anonymous Savantesimal said...

Twinkies are back! Consumerism lives! Obviously, all is right with the world.

---------- quote ----------

Hostess: Twinkies to return to shelves July 15

The company that went bankrupt after an acrimonious fight with its unionized workers last year is back up and running under new owners and a leaner structure. It says it plans to have Twinkies and other snack cakes back on shelves starting July 15.


The trimmed-down Hostess Brands LLC has a far less costly operating structure than the predecessor company. Some of the previous workers were hired back, but they're no longer unionized.

---------- end quote ----------

Yep, those uppity workers expecting decent pay and respect from management have been put in their place. The corporate veto of bankruptcy has been played and now the owners have their way. (Meanwhile, as some of you might know, bankruptcy is essentially denied to private individuals now due to changes in the law.) Soon the legendary example of gooey sweet junk food that Americans have become accustomed to will return to shelves.

And regarding the question from the previous thread, why is "Americanization" progressing as America itself declines, the simple answer is that "Americanization" is not about America. As MB has pointed out (and others as well), there is no distinctive "American" identity. "There is no there there" as the famous phrase goes. So-called "Americanization" is simply the growing influence of techno-buffoonery in the world. Americans are the most susceptible to the plague, and so they seem to be "leading the trend". But they are not really the creators or controllers of this historical trend. That is just more puffery that too many people have accepted without question. As already noted in this blog, other nations are also getting caught up in it, whether it's junk food or trashy entertainment or gadget addiction. They are just a bit more resistant due to having an actual culture of their own.

3:49 PM  
Anonymous joe hohos said...

Dr. Berman/Wafer's,

Are there any other countries which have been able to keep a strong craft tradition amidst the onslaught of "consumerism"? Also, do you think Germany and Switzerland have done a decent job of balancing craft with modern technology? For instance, Swiss watches are known as the best in the world, German cars are known for their craftmanship but still built in factories etc.

7:05 PM  
Anonymous Dr. Hackenbush said...

From the "digital dimentia" story above:

"Heavy users are likely to develop the left side of their brains, leaving the right side untapped or underdeveloped," he said.

The right side of the brain is linked with concentration and its failure to develop will affect attention and memory span, which could in as many as 15 per cent of cases lead to the early onset of dementia. "

I would have thought, based on popular science reporting, that developing the left side of the brain would be a positive for concentration?

Also I would have thought that playing videogames, for example, might be a fairly "zoned out" right-brain activity. Perhaps. Not that the article is wrong, I'm just saying that in terms of the popular science we're familiar with, this article seems slightly askew.

7:53 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Sure: Mexico and Japan, for starters. You just have to go to rural areas, altho Tokyo has more than 2000 potters making a living from their pottery. This is probably true for many countries.


Be sure to check out the Levellers as well. I also liked the 5th Monarchy Men.


8:45 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

So the New Yorker has called the NSA spying legal (keep in mind that it endorsed the war vs. Iraq in 2003), and most Americans (= a collection of 315 million buffoons) now don't give a shit. Here's a gd op-ed dissent in the NYT:


11:52 PM  
Blogger jjarden said...

I'm looking forward to all of this as Dr. Bermam has had a tremendously positive influence on my life and thought.

I have a question for Dr. Berman and others. Over the last few weeks I have been trying to get educated on the Renassiance, The Enlightenment, and the Romantic Age, and the differences between them all. If we are currently in a Dark Age, and I believe we most definitely are, which of the three ages above would be the ideal age to come about again? Which of the three would be the best for us all? I'd like to learn more from you all, and hopefully Dr.Berman will answer this too. Thank you.

11:59 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I don't think history is going to repeat itself in any formulistic fashion. But you might want to check out my Twilight bk, also the post from some time back on Pitirim Sorokin, and the one on The Waning of The Modern Ages. It's not really a question of which wd be best for us; the important question is, What is likely to happen? Also check out work by the World Systems Analysis school.


1:49 AM  
Blogger jml said...

dr. hackenbush:

i don't think that right brain activity is the same thing as "zoning out." i do know that drawing and painting - two activities associated with right brain activity - take an enormous amount of concentration.

on another note, i was listening to this lecture by noam chomsky - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-yvHMtgac0Q) he said that the u.s. has been in decline since 1945, or something like that. am curious what some of you think about that statement?

9:41 AM  
Anonymous Mike Alan said...

Concerning friends in the the US, I am glad to encounter others here who share my observations on the topic. I have always been a person who has known quite a few people, but who actually has very few friends.

The comment above about "being sized up" by Americans sounds tight on target. I was born in the US and have felt this way ever since I can remember. Sure, there are those many meaningless interactions like the checkout line where it's all banter and no sizing up. However, if you end up sitting next to someone in a restaurant or plane, etc... you can bet the sizing up will occur. I usually see it as they are figuring out where you lie in the oh so important social strata.

As for immigrants, I can't tell you how many times someone from another country is taken aback when I have even the slightest knowledge of where they are from. Then, as I ask them more questions about their country they usually tell me I am the first person who has asked them any such questions since they arrived here. It happens all the time. I am interesting in other places and how people live there and what they think of Americans. It usually catches them off-guard and they are hesitant at first, but after a while they usual open up.

As for networking (I too hate that word) and community, it's a huge Catch 22. It would be nice if there were more cohesive community in the US. However, I can barely stand to interact with most of these people at the most basic, superficial level, let alone have a deeper conversation with them. All the better I guess. Although it does make for a pleasant surprise when you finally do encounter someone who is awake.

Enjoy the summer fellow WAFfers. It's the season when all the best in tattoos, body piercings and other forms of subconscious self-mutilation are on proud display!

12:32 PM  

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