July 10, 2013

The Postman Lecture

Dear Wafers:

This has the advantage of including the Q&A. Hope you enjoy it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70buY9TZ7bo

197 Comments:

Anonymous Gallifrey said...

Dr. B,

Long-time lurker, first-time commenter. Here are some slogans I wrote down in drunken tear. Props to George Carlin, James Howard Kunstler, Gore Vidal, et al for some of the quotes/paraphrases. Some statements that might be of use to the American newcomer, should they be posted at the entrances:

Welcome to America

•Where corporations are people, but the poor are not.
•Where everyone, no matter their background, has the opportunity to become a mindless consumer.
•We rain down more firepower on brown people before 9 AM than your country does all day.
•A level playing field? What are you, some kinda SOCIALIST?!?!?!
•Forgetting the past since the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor.
•Where we still think we’re the Rebels in the Star Wars metaphor.
•Restrooms for paying customers only.
•Financing world domination through debt since 1971.
•We have ways of making you buy Coca-Cola and Levi’s.
•Where everything will be fixed if we elect politician X to replace politician Y.
•Beatifying civil rights leaders once they are safely dead and unable to speak for themselves.
•Where there must never be impediments, physical or mental, to conspicuous consumption.
•Bread and circuses…please! Try double cheeseburgers and the Super Bowl!
•Maintaining the illusion of freedom through the exercise of meaningless choices.
•Voting against our best interests since 1776.
•Contrarians need not apply.
•Unless your topic of conversation involves shopping or TV, expect glazed eyes.
•Where limits do not apply, because (Jesus, the free market, Ayn Rand, Ronald Reagan) has blessed us.
•Substituting the dreaded Terrorist for the dreaded Communist since 2001.
•Where nothing is valued unless it can be used to make money.
•You’d better pray petroleum deposits are never discovered in your country.
•We never learn. It’s part of our charm.
•Thank you sir, may I have another?
•There will be blood (for you). There will be profits (for us).
•Where every tinpot dictator can be spun into the next Hitleresque existential threat du jour.
•Where only lesser mortals are afflicted by hubris.
•Proving P.T. Barnum right 1,440 times a day.
•Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.
•Home of the apocalyptic believer/presidential contender demographic.
•Mile after mile of mall after mall.
•When it comes to cheap, ugly architecture, we’re number one!
•Cheerful on the outside, terrified on the inside.
•Turning our landscape into a coast-to-coast automobile slum since 1945.

12:33 AM  
Anonymous Edward said...

Dr Berman,

You did a good job talking about Obama and his empty gaze. The man is an empty head and an empty suit. He thinks he can control everything through stealth and secrecy as shown in the following article:

In an initiative aimed at rooting out future leakers and other security violators, President Barack Obama has ordered federal employees to report suspicious actions of their colleagues based on behavioral profiling techniques that are not scientifically proven to work, according to experts and government documents.

The techniques are a key pillar of the Insider Threat Program, an unprecedented government-wide crackdown under which millions of federal bureaucrats and contractors must watch out for “high-risk persons or behaviors” among co-workers. Those who fail to report them could face penalties, including criminal charges

Under the program, which is being implemented with little public attention, security investigations can be launched when government employees showing “indicators of insider threat behavior” are reported by co-workers, according to previously undisclosed administration documents obtained by McClatchy. Investigations also can be triggered when “suspicious user behavior” is detected by computer network monitoring and reported to “insider threat personnel.”

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/07/09/196211/linchpin-for-obamas-plan-to-predict.html#.Ud51pazW4RP

5:15 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Ed-

It's the usual pattern of empires to get increasingly violent and self-destructive as they go down the drain; to do precisely the opposite of what they need to do. Obama is just following a giant meta-script; he doesn't have a clue. The effect, historically spkg, is to accelerate the downward trend. For a gd pic of this, search google for Goya, "Saturn Devouring His Son."

G-

Welcome to the blog. I love all of those slogans.

mb

10:19 AM  
Anonymous James Newlin said...

It's not enough to surround you with advertising, AOL wants to watch you watch it. For now it's opt-in only, but soon you won't know when they will tap into your webcam:

Be On can now offer biometric tracking to determine the emotional impact of a piece of video content, plugging into renowned consumer panels such as CINT and Toluna.

With this new partnership, Be One claims brands can measure the emotional impact of their content frame-by-frame at launch or before it goes live. Realeyes will be added to the Be On Insights package. This comes as the AOL division ramps up its bid to lure adspend away from traditional television budgets.

http://www.mediaweek.co.uk/news/1186208/

11:51 AM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Re: The American Dream as ‘MORE’

The following was excerpted from a commentary on a weekly Torah portion by David Silverberg of the Virtual Biet Midrash (House of Study). I ran across it back in 2000 (5761), and I trust that Waffers and Wafferettes will manage to decipher it.

“Parashat Chayei-Sara tells us that ‘Avraham was old… and God blessed Avraham with everything’ (Genesis 24:1). Midrash Rabba cites Rav Levi's three interpretations of this "all-inclusive" divine blessing that Avraham earned. The first reads, ‘… that He [God] gave Avraham control over his evil inclination.’ How are we to understand this explanation of the blessing of ‘everything’?”


“King Shlomo observes ever so astutely in Sefer Mishlei, ‘One who loves money will never have enough money.’ This applies to all types of good fortune: no matter how much good a person enjoys, he yearns for more. It would seem, therefore, that an individual can never be ‘blessed with everything.’ After all, the more one has the more he wants; how can one have ‘everything?’ Rav Levi therefore tells us that Avraham's blessing consisted of one critical ingredient: self-control. Avraham possessed the great gift of discipline and self-mastery. He took control of his natural human drives and never allowed them to overpower him. His priority scale remained fully intact at all times and ensured proper perspective and conduct. Only someone with such a gift can truly be blessed with everything, for only such a person can appreciate what he has without worrying about what he does not have.”

This should be perfectly obvious, but few Americans even want to develop such self-control when the ‘evil inclination’, particularly greed and gluttony, has been so thoroughly coopted into the service of Consumerism!

Fish is to water as American is to consuming junk.

David Rosen

12:03 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Anon-

Please note that I don't post Anons. Pls pick a handle--e.g. Sam Schmeck, Ph.D.--and re-send. Thanks.

mb

1:04 PM  
Anonymous JWO said...

MB: Thanks for the link. It is good to see people keep asking about NMI wherever you go.

Here is something in the CRE department: (http://abcnews.go.com/US/court-oks-barring-high-iqs-cops/story?id=95836)

2:07 PM  
Anonymous joe hohos said...

Hey WAFer's,

Another article from someone who gets it. Seems to be a lot of the points being brought up here.
http://www.businessinsider.com/the-left-right-paradigm-is-over-its-you-versus-corporations-2010-9

Gallifrey,
Love your observations

3:52 PM  
Anonymous Crowbar&Vaseline said...

Hope you are doing well Morris.

I've been following you for a long time but only started to comment recently. I think the work you do is exceptional. I've stated this before but wow, what a speech. I saw someone write this about you on the Youtube comments (I think it's a WAFer) but I'm going to repost it here.

"Morris Berman is such an extraordinary thinker and scholar. It seems that there is no interesting or profound author that he has not read, and few important works of history, science or philosophy with which he is unfamiliar."

Thank you for being you and enlightening us.

6:18 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

MB-

Many thanks for posting the Postman Lecture with subsequent Q&A. Both parts were very informative. Above and beyond the fact that many of your phrases deserved applause, I was surprised that you had to provide, to this audience especially, such a detailed critique of the negative effects of digital technology during the Q&A session. To me, it really reveals how deep the love of this technology goes and how easily we give it complete reign over our lives and consciousness; almost without thinking about it.

I also thought it was great that you reminded the audience that "real" change, or transformation from one socioeconomic formation to another, will not occur without pain and difficulty. This is a difficult truth to comprehend because most Americans have always believed that change could occur without pain.

Jeff

6:35 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Crow-

Many thanks. Love yr handle. Keep in mind that

1. 99.9% of the country has its head up its ass

2. The country has abs. no future

3. These two facts are not unrelated.

Keep posting, amigo-

mb

6:45 PM  
Anonymous LW said...

Good video, always love watching people whose views I respect, talk and answer questions. Just one request: the next time you speak somewhere and there is a Q&A, please try and ensure that there is a microphone for the audience. It's very annoying to not hear the questions asked of you. Otherwise, great job and thanks for the link.

6:51 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

LW-

If I can. I don't think they were set up for that, but I appreciate the complaint.

Meanwhile, in 1936, the Hearst newspapers wrote editorials addressed to American communists saying, "If you don't like this country, why don't you go back where you came from?"

Earl Browder, head of the American CP, wrote back, pointing out that "most of us were born here." He added:

"The revolutionary tradition is the heart of Americanism. That is incontestable, unless we are ready to agree that Americanism means what Hearst says [it is, namely] slavery to outlived institutions, preservation of privilege, [and] the degradation of the masses."

Ouch! I have no idea what the enlightened newspapermen said in reply.

mb

8:29 PM  
Anonymous mike daniel said...

Thanks very much for posting your talk and Q&A after. One question caught my attention and was around maybe a benevolent dictator taking over. My thought is in a way that is happening right now but is in the form of the government-corporate cabal that is taking over very rapidly now. Examples being the free trade deals with Europe and the Pacific nations, the proliferation US and some European forces in Africa, more US forces in the Pacific, the rapid development of drone technology (Argus) and the whole surveillance network which includes way more countries in terms of active involvement than they care to admit. Dave Pollard in his blog writes about corporate totalitarianism and how the present developments may portend a dictatorial (my word) regime that will interfere with the sustainable alternatives you suggest in some of your answers in the Q&A that might pop up. Labelling alternative communities as seditious, terrorist camps and the like. Do you have thoughts on this aspect?
Mike Daniel

11:32 PM  
Anonymous Brian said...

Good Day Dr. B and Fellow WAFers--

A cheery bit of progress to pass along:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/12/science/modest-debut-of-atlas-may-foreshadow-age-of-robo-sapiens.html?hp&_r=0

Time to go back and read the Post-Its on the bathroom mirror . . .

O&D--

Brian

4:44 AM  
Anonymous capo regime said...

Dovidel,

Thank you for that posting. Nothing of what is happening is new, but thankfully listening to sages whether historical like Morris or religious like the Bal Shemtov or the Lubavitcher Rebbe and then going to a meeting, shul, support group or a blog such as this or virtual Biet Midrash we shall obtain understanding and the clarity of mind to best deal with the challenges around us and ahead. Hope your9 days are going well. B'H'.

11:22 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

Infantyrone,

handle on NBL is shep. Rarely post.

shep

2:22 PM  
Anonymous Savantesimal said...

Look! Some American's actually have a latent conscience. Imagine an insurance executive realizing his "business" was hurting people rather than helping them:

Fresh Air: Former Insurance Exec Offers An Insider's Look At Obamacare

Wendell Potter is the former vice president of corporate communications at the health insurance company Cigna.

...

On March 23, 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was signed into law. It's aimed at making health insurance more affordable and reducing the overall costs of health care.

Some parts of the law have already gone into effect: Insurers can't impose lifetime dollar limits on essential benefits, like hospital stays; children can stay on their parents' plan until they're 26; children with pre-existing conditions can't be denied coverage; and all new insurance plans must cover preventive care and medical screenings.

...

From the interview:

"There are junk plans that are out there today, and some of the biggest insurance companies sell them, and they're very profitable for insurance companies. And a lot of people don't know they're in junk plans until they get sick or injured. And they find out at a time when it's really — quite frankly — too late, that they're not adequately covered. And some [plans] have lifetime or annual caps on how much the insurance companies will pay. And, increasingly, plans have very high deductibles. Insurance companies in these cases don't pay anything for coverage until you've paid quite a bit of money out of your own pocket. That's not a big deal for people who are quite wealthy or healthy or don't really need insurance, but for the rest of us — for folks who get sick occasionally, or get very sick, or injured, or who are not as young and healthy as we once were — these plans are not necessarily the best things since sliced bread."

[Hmm, I thought that when someone was deceived as to what they were buying it was called FRAUD. But not if you have enough lawyers and lobbyists, apparently... What you really need to hear, though, is the first few minutes of the interview where he describes the effect of seeing people lined up for a free health care event called a "Health Care Expedition". The pitiful sight of thousands of desperate people lined up waiting for health care that they could not afford otherwise made him change careers.]

2:48 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

Gallifrey has joined the fray with éclat. Sir, you should consider joining the ranks of the job creators by using the "Welcome" slogans for T-shirts, America's undisputed contribution to world fashion.

Separate subject: readers may find the following YouTube video worth a listen. It is a March 1997 lecture by Neil Postman at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Illinois entitled "The Surrender of Culture to Technology."

http:/youtu.be/hlrv7DIHIIE.

3:03 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

MD-

I read somewhere that this was already happening; an eco-commune in France, I think. Wish I cd find the reference 4u.

mb

8:16 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

From John Gray, "The Silence of Animals":

"To suppose that the myth of progress could be shaken off would be to ascribe to modern humanity a capacity for improvement even greater than that which it ascribes to itself."

True progress is seeing thru the myth of progress.

The fuddy-duddies are not those of us who scorn the latest electronic toy; it's those who scorn those who scorn it. True progress is recognizing that life is not supposed to be abt crap. The real fuddy-duddies are the ones interested in crap.

Just a question of looking thru the rt end of the telescope.

mb

10:00 PM  
Anonymous Vince said...

MB,

Congratulations on your award. Great lecture. I read it and watched it twice so that it would sink in.

I have noticed that when you or Chris H. give a lecture pointing out that our system is finished that the Q&A usually produces at least one person who insists that it can be saved. I run into this kind of wishful thinking every single day at work.

A new person comes along who will be able to do what the last person couldn't quite get done. It person does come along who can get the impossible done, it is usually through some sort of short term patch or cover up to a long ongoing set of problems that are the result of being grossly understaffed. That person is promoted, but the next person inherits the problems that his predecessor just glossed over.

Anyone bringing light to the real problems is ignored, castigated, or forced to resign, just as what happens to whistle blowers.

There are those who just refuse to let something die due to its inherent flaws, no matter the costs or consequences. That is what the hopefully optimistic questioners in your lectures remind me of. They just do not get that the system is the problem.

Again, Thank you.

Peace.

10:11 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Vince-

My friend Joel Magnuson says he encounters the same thing when he lectures. The audience insists that we'll switch to 'green technology' and all will be well. He shows them that the #s don't crunch, and that the problem is the American Dream itself; that growth is not the answer but the problem. They mostly run away, he says.

Consider that quote from John Gray above. Real progress is not the latest hip piece of crap, or some 'green', 'holistic' way of doing the same old same old; it's recognizing the fallacy of 'progress'. But as Gray says, this will never happen. It's like one Jungian critic once said of Freud's take on religion as an illusion: the greatest illusion is to think people will give up religion. And 'progress' is definitely a religion. Meanwhile, heads are rammed up rumps, and everyone thinks Steve Jobs and Bunmi Laditan are where it's at. CRE has never been greater. As u pt out, u move up the system by helping heads go deeper into rear ends.

Glad u liked the talk, thanks. I do hafta say that for the most part, this was a very receptive audience.

mb

10:54 PM  
Anonymous Mike Daniel said...

From my perspective everyone has a religious impulse or a more simply a desire to connect with the divine in themselves and the world. The problem is that if this impulse is unconscious it is very likely to be projected on some external symbol that carries group acceptance. So if the people of the country start out as hustlers because of their religious background (Calvinists) and so have already unconsciously projected the divine on to work and then to justify accumulation of wealth then it would take something drastic to shake that projection. And as you said Morris that won't happen until the end. The cinching down of the corporate totalitarian state will simply make the death that much more certain. Then I hope we can learn about this kind of psychic energetic process and internalize the religious impulse by making it conscious in ourselves as individuals. An example would be reconnection to nature as an entity that is reciprocal with us, as in and through Goethe's exact sensorial imagination.

1:51 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Here's a big surprise:

http://readersupportednews.org/news-section2/318-66/18377-microsoft-let-nsa-and-fbi-access-user-messages

And, CRE Dept.: Do you fucking believe this?:

http://readersupportednews.org/news-section2/314-18/18376-iowa-supreme-court-upholds-attractive-assistant-firing-decision

3:25 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

This American Life:

http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/11/justice/florida-rape-case/index.html?hpt=hp_t5

3:47 AM  
Anonymous Lonely Wanderer said...

MB,

You commented on Buddhist economics during the Q&A, which you claim will be our future after the failure of our current capitalist economic system. So I was wondering, can you recommend any background texts on Buddhist economics and how it works?

LW

3:50 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

LW-

Well, that's one possibility. There's no predicting the future for sure. In any case, "Small Is Beautiful" by Schumacher is the classic work; 2 works by Joel Magnuson; and there are a bunch by Indian authors. Gd luck!

mb

9:57 AM  
Anonymous The Dude said...

Savantesimal - as a cancer patient, that story about "junk" insurance plans really hits home. I've been sick since last November, really the first serious illness of my adult lifetime (I'm in my late 40s). My health insurance company had always made a tidy profit on me, but that has all changed in a hurry. I estimate that my medical care just in the past seven months has totaled around $250,000, and is going to skyrocket considerably higher before that day hopefully soon to come when I am declared cancer free (although that is a misnomer, once you get cancer even if you are "cured" you spend the rest of your life under the threat that it will return).

My chances of surviving this ordeal are based largely upon the fact that when the doctors propose a new treatment or drug I don't have to worry about whether it is going to bankrupt me. If I had one of those shoddy plans mentioned in the article, I could easily see where my choice at some point could become: have the next treatment that could save your life and lose your house, or don't for the sake of your family's financial well being and accept dying young.

There is no greater indictment of America's greed and stupidity that it forces people to make such choices simply so health care CEOs can rake in tens of millions on compensation each year. Also, in regards to the comment that plans with high deductibles are "not a big deal" for the healthy or those who don't "need" insurance--I am living proof that you can go almost instantly from being a person who has always been in good health to one facing a long-term, life threatening, very expensive to treat illness. Everyone needs access to affordable quality medical care that will be there for them even when the worst happens, but it isn't profitable so it will never be allowed.

9:58 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

CRE Update:

http://www.slate.com/blogs/trending/2013/07/12/sex_on_smartphones_survey_shows_many_do_it_and_few_are_further_than_five.html

10:45 AM  
Anonymous Jesse said...

Dr B, thanks for this one:

This American Life:
http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/11/justice/florida-rape-case/index.html?hpt=hp_t5


Did you read what the police said? Check out this part of the article:

"The couple inside the home refused to let the woman in because they said they were afraid to open their door. In the 911 call, the woman can be heard pleading in the background. The distressed couple begged police to hurry. Their home is in an isolated area, and the couple feared for their safety if they opened the door.

It took about 11 minutes for police to arrive.

A subsequent investigation led to an arrest of a suspect and prompted the spokesman of the DeLand Police Department to remark that "unfortunately fear dictates the response anymore not knowing if (you're) being set up for other criminal activity."


=> 11 minutes would have given the rapist enough time to kill the girl

=> the couple could have let the girl in since there are two adults in the house and since the girl is naked

=> put yourselves in the couple's position: somebody knocks on your door. You open the door and see a naked girl claiming she has been raped. Your wife is there with you. Yet you refused to open the door

=> the police say it is justified not to open the door since you are fearful not to get involved in a set up

=> you call the above a civilized society and you are proud of your existence???

=> I weep for America!

11:56 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

Well, a court decision OKs barring people with too-high IQs from becoming cops:

http://abcnews.go.com/US/court-oks-barring-high-iqs-cops/story?id=95836

Mike Daniel,

Yes, for all the religious talk in politics today, it is mostly about political power, not exploring & experiencing the sacred. Jung once said that organized religion was a means of avoiding direct religious experience, the letter over the spirit. You're right about the majority of people seeking to answer that inward yearning with illusions of power, wealth, status, ego, electronic crap, etc. Anything but actually going inward. Rather than cutting through the ego, they deify the ego: the sacred is not within you, you are the sacred. The very part of themselves they ought to be stripping away is the part they glorify & strengthen so they don't have to look within.

Let me recommend a couple of small films by Kelly Reichardt, Old Joy & Wendy and Lucy. The first is about the loss of connection in America, both between friends & between person & country. The second is about the lives of the marginal, where you need an address & a job already at hand to even apply for a job -- so many people are headed toward this limbo where callous contempt for "losers" rules.

12:12 PM  
Anonymous Mikbeth said...

Dr. Berman:

Given the pervasiveness of the NSA spying and the emergent police state in the US, to what extent is the national security structure a creation of the late stage financial capitalism of which you write? How are the two linked? If, as the Annal school predicts that the financial capitalist structure of 21st Century America will collapse upon itself, will it also take the national security state with it. That is to say, will the end of capitalism free us from the coming police state?

Mikbeth

4:15 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Mik-

That's a long discussion, and no one can know how things will play out in 30-40 yrs. I suspect that the security state will be with us so long as we have a centralized govt. That's why I think a future of 'Buddhist economics' is not going to be enough; we need to decentralize, and for that, we need secessionist movements. Of course, it will also help if the 'imperial overstretch' of the military happens w/in the country as well as w/o, such that total control (wh/is what the security state wants) becomes impossible.

mb

5:46 PM  
Anonymous AvengerSentinel said...

Random question, but Dr. B, would you consider having a child if you found the right woman? Only reason I bring this up is because you're a smart guy and it's very likely that you're children would end up being very talented and intelligent.

5:51 PM  
Anonymous Dr. Hackenbush said...

One thing I go back and forth on is the extent to which "the system" runs things and the extent to which specific actors run it.. Does "late stage capitalism" create the security state, as Mikbeth suggests, or do "planners"? Chomsky talks about "planners" in his work for instance. And many alternative economists say that there is no such thing as a "free market," that markets are always political, governed by powerful interests who set the rules (including which rules can be broken, bent, etc.) Control isn't perfect or all-encompassing, of course, but key institutions and players - such as Chomsky names (though he may hedge a little on full details and specifics) - would seem to have real choice in the way the world goes, and are not entirely puppets controlled by historical forces.. Well, maybe at some level, but doesn't that start to get overly deterministic. Don't living creatures have free will? And some have been working literally for generations to put themselves and their progeny in key positions of power, in order to pull the levers as they see fit, not as the system sees fit. Ah, but then you say, their desire to implement this plan is determined by the system.. That must be frustrating for them, if they ever think about it, that they're not really the ones in control! Even if they are pulling the levers. ha ha

7:34 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Hack-

It sounds like a chicken and egg problem. Of course historical actors have an impact, but at a certain pt they only have it if they are moving w/the grain. Everytime an asshole uses his cell phone in public, it has an effect. If someone, like myself, chooses not to buy one, it has no effect. There are periods in history more susceptible to fluidity than others, but for us now, the fix is in--path dependence, as Robt Bellah calls it. It's turtles all the way down.

Avenger-

I suspect I'm past my prime for all that, but finding a decent GF rt now wd not be a terrible thing...

mb

7:49 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Mikbeth,

I agree with everything Dr. Berman says about the security state’s quest for total control. After America’s definitive ‘Suez moment’ when the Empire starts shrinking, the military industrial complex will take over and the emphasis will shift to control of an impoverished and hostile US population. Then imperial overstretch will be superseded by homeland security (Reichssicherheit) overstretch.

The US will probably come to resemble Iraq during the recent US occupation, and the Empire couldn’t manage even that. How many boots on the ground would that take to pacify the entire US with over 300 million hostile people? Could the US raise such a huge army with soldiers willing to kill their own people? Our militarized police forces will brutalize minorities and people who can be dehumanized as ‘weirdoes’, but as more and more of the population turns hostile can they control the whole country?

In the long run I don’t think they can, but it’s not going to be fun while they try and eventually fail. Then, however, decentralization could take place. If you are quite young you might live through it – if you’re lucky. Or maybe unlucky – toward the end of his life, Isaiah Berlin is reported to have said, “I’m glad I’m old.” (So why stick around?)

I think many long-term outcomes are possible, but the US is going to be very ‘dystopian’ for a long time. For one very plausible scenario, see Marge Piercy’s novel, “He, She, and It.” It envisions a country of fortified corporate ‘green-zones’ surrounded by crime ridden chaos and some struggling alternative communities. It also has a fine version of the ‘golem’ story – at no extra cost.

Of course I could be wrong about all this, so maybe we’d better ask Thomas Friedman what he thinks.

David Rosen

10:16 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

DR-

A cutting-edge intellect like David Brooks might also be helpful on all this. We are so blessed!

mb

10:42 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

I don’t think the 'Suez moment' is applies to the current American situation. Britain had to go through two world wars with appalling casualties and total bankruptcy to get that level of weakness. A more apt comparison might be that we are at our Boer War moment. I also like the comparison with the Ottoman Empire which looked weak and decrepit for many decades before it collapsed in defeat. But that’s another problem with comparing America to these other empires, most of them were ended by military defeat, conquest, and occupation, and I don’t see how that happens to the US. Unfortunately for the world, America has some factors that are unique, such as a continental power base with no strong enemies near its borders. Find another example of that in world history, if you can.

8:25 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

ALL,

I guess this is another method to pee on a set of Guccis?

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/manhattan/man_gets_punched_out_after_yelling_p5WHbNs3vZENuZ20QuOXOP


9:40 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Z-

Canada is poised to strike at any moment. This is why I keep writing the Pentagon abt nuking Toronto, but do they listen? No!

But u raise an interesting pt, in terms of historical analogies. I'll have to check my Tainter, see if there are any. The US may indeed follow a different pattern of decline: Roman Empire, but w/a twist.

mb

9:56 AM  
Anonymous Savantesimal said...

David Rosen: That's the future I have been expecting. Especially since the Iraq occupation was such a clear foreshadowing of it. But I didn't read the novel you mention. I read William Gibson's Sprawl trilogy -- Neuromancer, Count Zero, Mona Lisa Overdrive. The genre he invented in the early eighties and named "Cyberpunk" looks to be exactly where we are headed. Corporations over-power civil government and take over most of its functions. As you would expect, this results in corporate enclaves where people who are useful enough to corporations to be worth some care and feeding are given shelter by the owner class, and a fairly uniform slum outside those enclaves where the "unprofitable" people live on scraps dropped from the corporate system and are bitter and violent towards even each other let alone the any of the corporate citizens who happen to cross their paths.

It's really a return to medieval society with some technology thrown into the mix. Walled cities = "gated communities" or I supposed "corporate campuses" for the lower classes of corporate citizens. They may as well live in dorms near their work centers, after all. The owners can't be expected to waste too much money on them, just like the feudal owners didn't waste resources on their serfs. And outside those protected environments, no more civil services and no more safety. The wild "bandits" and "highwaymen" will make their own society based on ethnic tribes, gangs, and personal "reputation". Armed escort will be required for anyone not already a warrior of some sort to go anywhere outside the enclaves. (Again, Iraq was a clear foreshadowing of this.)

12:54 PM  
Anonymous Shane W said...

As farcical as is may seem in the present, 30-40 yrs from now (maybe sooner), it will probably fall to Canada and Mexico to stabilize a by-then chaotic, anarchic, post-default-dollar-reserve-currency America, albeit with outside resources, perhaps from an amalgam of other nations. By then, the situation may resemble such an emergency (think Europe or Asia during WWII), that other nations will be forced to intervene to stabilize the US. Canada and Mexico seem the logical places to launch such an effort, as they both may see the advantages of gaining territory, and both have historical claims/grievances regarding territory. Whether they do actually step up to the plate when the time comes, or keep their heads firmly buried in the sand and their hands firmly grasped onto the US, plunging into the abyss with it, remains to be seen. The scenario I'm envisioning will only occur once the US has reached a certain level of exhaustion, terror, violence, and anarchy that it is weak enough that a Canada and Mexico, with a lot of foreign aid/reinforcement, can easily come in an stabilize things/provide order, like the US in Europe & Asia.

1:48 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Zosima,

The collapse is happening; the question is how long it takes.

You are right that each declining empire has some unique characteristics, and that you can’t use one as an exact model for another.

What happened at the Suez Canal in 1956, however, was a ‘Suez moment’ only for the deluded leaders of the British ‘Empire’.

Britain is a small country which conquered half the world. The reason the ‘Suez moment’ came so long after the Boer War (their Viet-Nam?) was because they had been piggy-backing on the US for a long time. The US had financed them and had saved their butts in two world wars. Together with the French and Israelis, the Brits were still able to take back the Suez Canal, but it was their internal weakness that enabled Eisenhower to spank them soundly and send them to bed without supper. (There were also serious troop mutinies during the Suez operation – but that’s for another post.)

It was probably a mistake for me to say that imperial overstretch will precede and lead to internal security overstretch in the US. Ultimately, it is internal decay which brings about the decline of empires, and the US has always been weaker that it looks because of its protected geographical position.

The great sage and public intellectual Thomas Friedman has written that American prosperity will be driven by highly educated immigrants from India and China, while never explaining that they are needed because the overwhelming majority of the American workforce has been reduced to blithering idiocy. Already it’s getting harder to keep educated immigrants in an increasingly impoverished land which lacks family and community. Where will all that high-tech weaponry come from?

Or, our Suez moment may come when nobody wants the Yankee dollar anymore.

David Rosen

11:28 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

This American Life:

http://www.zcommunications.org/obama-is-laying-the-foundations-of-a-dystopian-future-by-oliver-stone

4:42 AM  
Anonymous Jerome Langguth said...

Dear Dr. Berman and Friends,


Yet another snapshot of America unravelling. 73 year old soul singer Lester Chambers (Chambers Brothers) was assaulted on stage after dedicating Curtis Mayfield's "People Get Ready" to Trayvon Martin.

http://www.americanbluesscene.com/2013/07/lester-chambers-assaulted-on-stage-at-blues-festival-over-zimmerman-trial/

Jerome

5:42 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jerome-

I guess what I like most abt the US is how charming we are; how gracious.

mb

6:32 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Here's an example of how a tactic applied to war-time enemies has been transferred for use on domestic Americans, in this case NSA spying:

"the [Washington] Post explains how Alexander took a "collect it all" surveillance approach originally directed at Iraqis in the middle of a war, and thereafter transferred it so that it is now directed at the US domestic population as well as the global one.."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jul/15/crux-nsa-collect-it-all

MB, have historians coined a term to describe this cross-fertilization of tactics from the enemy periphery to the domestic core? Are there any historians of empire who have described this phenomenon?

6:58 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Mike-

The general phenomenon of setting up a Manichaean opposition to some 'enemy', and eventually finding the 'enemy' within, as a fifth column, is well known (e.g., Mary Douglas, Purity and Danger, or Norman Cohn, Pursuit of the Millennium). As for transfer of specific tactics in a collapse-of-empire situation, I haven't read anything abt it, but there might be something out there, I dunno.

mb

10:05 AM  
Anonymous Mikbeth said...

Dovidel:

Thanks for the book recommendation. I ordered it and look forward to reading it.

Dr. B.
I shared the lecture with some and got a response from one of my more intelligent siblings. He’s much older than I as he was born in the 1940’s. I was born in the mid-60’s. He did study philosophy at Yale as a doctoral student (he was ABD but never finished the dissertation for some reason). It was a weird response to say the least and probably underscores your point that I am surrounded by dolts. Nevertheless some of my brother’s choicer quotes are

“Let me say I am not inclined to give anyone who says the early Wittgenstein was a Platonist credit for being a deep thinker. Nor am I impressed by someone who says that physics has assured us that everything is just atoms and the void. It's not clear whether Berman really believes this, but he certainly put it out there as if he did. Similarly, his apparent endorsement of pop-psych determinism was hackish.”

“In addition, Berman is an unapologetic elitist. There is no need other than excessive ego to be this way. I take my cue here from Krugman. He's a very savvy guy to be sure. But the last thing he is an elitist. As a result, his message is much more salient for me than someone who is pleased with the fact that he can take his TIAA retirement income with him to Mexico, where he can get up in the morning and think about nothing --while the housemaid is no doubt making his bed.”

I actually give my brother credit for watching the lecture (though he skipped the Q & A) but I found his reference to your housemaid hysterically funny. I assured him that I would research the vitally important point about whether you had a house maid and get back to him. Do you in fact have a house maid? It is a question worthy of such media luminaries as David Gregory.

My brother wasn't totally negative. He did say he found you enlightening and that he did “agree with much” of your “characterization of Obama as someone lacking a central core. But as Berman himself implied, even that is better than a walking haircut. And politics is irredeemably about the lesser of two evils. Our Founding Fathers, particularly in the Federalist Papers, were clear about that from the get go.”

Thanks for indulging me.

10:44 AM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Dr. B

I have some of questions.

1. If you could create your own society what would be your own society?

2. If you do not mind my asking why do you only allow one post per day?

3. Is it that some technologies are bad in themselves or is it the way people use them? Are you completely against the cell phone at all or the way people use them?

4. What technologies do you think civilization needs and not needs?

5. Do you believe in outer space travel?

10:46 AM  
Anonymous ellen said...

Ian Cobain who wrote the excellent "Cruel Brittania" on secret complicity in torture: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/184627334X

has a good article on surveillance tactics and how they are being used:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jul/14/obama-secret-kill-list-disposition-matrix

11:23 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...


You can go to jail for a sarcastic Facebook comment:

http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/criminalizing-free-speech?akid=10691.241474.9B4UBm&rd=1&src=newsletter868356&t=9&paging=off

And I can only see this getting worse, as anything you post can & will be used against you. Wonder how many things can be defined as "terrorism" now? Simply typing the word itself?

Jerome,

The exultation in certain quarters over Zimmerman's acquital has been predictably disgusting. I'm trying to keep a calm, measured tone here, but when I see all the ugliness & hatred people are capable of generating -- to say nothing of how proudly & eagerly they display it, "in your face" & all that idiocy -- I really want to retreat into my little bubble built for two with my wife & not come out. The sheer crassness, shoddiness, emptiness of so much of this country creates a physical revulsion in me at times!

12:12 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Cube-

Wd love to answer yr questions, but alas, I just don't have the time. Sorry.

Mik-

No, I don't have a housemaid, as it turns out. But yr brother's response is a typical dolt strategy: find small things to pick at (in particular, stuff that is ad hominem) so u can ignore the larger pt. As I've said repeatedly on this blog, in America even the smart ones are dumb. What a lame and pathetic response. Just think of how depressed he wd become if he were able to let the information in (on some level, he knows this, hence...).

mb

4:08 PM  
Anonymous JWO said...

Interesting Marxist op-ed on T-O about why Americans don't fight back against their oppressors:

(http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/17498-why-arent-americans-fighting-back)

though I would add an 8th obstacle to his list of those "currently stand[ing] in the way of a proletarian knowledge of self and the enemy". That 98% of the american population has severe CRE and is in need of a crowbar.

4:43 PM  
Anonymous shep said...

This piece by Glen Ford, of Black Agenda Report, pretty much sums up the future of the world.

http://blackagendareport.com/content/us-war-against-world

4:48 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and Wafers,

Dr. B-

No housemaid! Gee, I thought all elitists had housemaids...tee-hee.

Mikbeth,

Just curious... did your brother lose it all in the Crash of 2008? He sounds pretty bitter. It's been my experience that attacks on teachers and academics who have decent retirements are always the same: They are big mouth elitists who don't deserve their retirements!

Jeff

5:16 PM  
Blogger Himanshu Tiwari said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

I enjoyed listening to “The Postman lecture”, especially the vertical and horizontal approaches to understand a person or society. On the same day I was reading an essay titled “Civilization and Culture” written by Sri Aurobindo in 1916. It seems to me that he uses the horizontal analysis to understand the modern man.

“The Philistine is in fact the modern civilised barbarian; he is often the half-civilised physical and vital barbarian by his unintelligent attachment to the life of the body, the life of the vital needs and impulses and the ideal of the merely domestic and economic human animal; but essentially and commonly he is the mental barbarian, the average sensational man. That is to say, his mental life is that of the lower substratum of the mind, the life of the senses, the life of the sensations, the life of the emotions, the life of practical conduct—the first status of the mental being. In all these he may be very active, very vigorous, but he does not govern them by a higher light or seek to uplift them to a freer and nobler eminence; rather he pulls the higher faculties down to the level of his senses, his sensations, his unenlightened and unchastened emotions, his gross utilitarian practicality. His aesthetic side is little developed; either he cares nothing for beauty or has the crudest aesthetic tastes which help to lower and vulgarise the general standard of aesthetic creation and the aesthetic sense. He is often strong about morals, far more particular usually about moral conduct than the man of culture, but his moral being is as crude and undeveloped as the rest of him; it is conventional, unchastened, unintelligent, a mass of likes and dislikes, prejudices and current opinions, attachment to social conventions and respectabilities and an obscure dislike —rooted in the mind of sensations and not in the intelligence— of any open defiance or departure from the generally accepted standard of conduct. His ethical bent is a habit of the sense-mind; it is the morality of the average sensational man. He has a reason and the appearance of an intelligent will, but they are not his own, they are part of the group-mind, received from his environment; or so far as they are his own, merely a practical, sensational, emotional reason and will, a mechanical repetition of habitual notions and rules of conduct, not a play of real thought and intelligent determination. His use of them no more makes him a developed mental being than the daily movement to and from his place of business makes the average Londoner a developed physical being or his quotidian contributions to the economic life of the country make the bank-clerk a developed economic man. He is not mentally active, but mentally reactive, —a very different matter.”

To me it seems to be an apt description of current day US and most of its people.

In the next essay titled “Aesthetics and culture”, Aurobindo condemns the European civilization of the 19th century (and one could say 20th century as well):

“Therefore upon even the European civilisation of the nineteenth century with all its
triumphant and teeming production, its great developments of science, its achievement in the works of the intellect we pass a certain condemnation, because it has turned all these things to commercialism and to gross uses of vitalistic success. We say of it that this was not the perfection to which humanity ought to aspire and that this trend travels away from and not towards the higher curve of human evolution. It must be our definite verdict upon it that it was inferior as an age of culture to ancient Athens, to Italy of the Renascence, to ancient or classical India. For great as might be the deficiencies of social organisation in those eras and though their range of scientific knowledge and material achievement was immensely inferior, yet they were more advanced in the art of life, knew better its object and aimed more powerfully at some clear ideal of human perfection.”

Thank you,
Himanshu

5:27 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

shep-

This is a pretty gd depiction of what happens to empires in their death throes: they lash out indiscriminately. My favorite line here: "Armed to the teeth, yet palsied to the core..." That's exactly where we're at. We look tough, but we're a house of cards, and the swagger is just compensation for deep insecurity. Alfred Adler once said that a person w/a superiority complex is just hiding an inferiority complex, and it seems to me that this applies to nations as well.

JWO-

Also a gd essay. He does say at one pt that "Americans lack political savvy." Jesus, the understatement of the century. They also lack any other type of savvy. Marx never counted on CRE, when he predicted revolution; he cd never have imagined the typical American buffoon of the 21stC, who can't spell 'mayonnaise' and can't define 'perpetual motion' (or much of anything else). Marx didn't know what a douche bag was, and he certainly cdn't have imagined 315 million of them collected in one geographical location. What revolution can such sad sacks generate? What future can they possibly have?

mb

5:30 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jeff-

Hafta tell u, I didn't exactly "clean up" when I retired--!

mb

6:05 PM  
Anonymous The Dude said...

So here's a pop quiz: say you are a manager of a chain restaurant in shit for brains America whose location just lost its lease and you've been ordered by corporate management to close the joint immediately. Problem: it's a Sunday night and the joint is still full of diners enjoying their meals. Do you:

A). Wait for your customers to finish their meals and then shut down, or

B). Call the cops and have armed police officers assist you in immediately kicking everyone out?

Guess which choice the real life shithead made:

http://www.wcnc.com/mobile-content/local-news/Hops-Restaurant-to-Matthews-customers-Get-out-were-closing-for-good-215467211.html

6:54 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dude-

As I keep saying, the US is such a charming and gracious place--a place that puts people first.

I'm disturbed, tho, that the police didn't simply mow all the customers down, who clearly had no right to be dawdling over their burgers. It wd also have been gd training practice for what lies ahead. Bam! Bam!

mb

7:46 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Hustlin' USA Dept.: This off cnn.com, about juror B37 in the Zimmerman trial:

"She will be writing a book about her experiences, literary agent Sharlene Martin said before her interview aired."

Everything hasta get turned into $...Was there ever a more restained, gracious, and dignified country?

9:32 PM  
Anonymous Smith said...

Hang on, I wouldn't blame "science" for this one.

Science had "lofty, noble ideals" too. You just don't hear about them because much of what you hear about science comes from religious people, who have an ax to grind against it and thus will never represent the scientific argument in its "strongest form".

So let me take my own shot at doing so.

Science was going to eliminate racism, by showing us what the Earth looked like from a distance, so we would see how meaningless our differences really were. Remember that Arthur C. Clarke quote.

Science was going to teach us how to reach conclusions before the verdict, rather than verdicts before the conclusions.

Science was going to cure diseases so mothers would never have to mourn losing their children as infants, and children would never have to see their parents wasting away, unable to play with them.

Science was going to figure out how natural disasters worked, so that we may better prepare for them and thus whole villages wouldn't be wiped out by earthquakes.

Etc.

It is "business" and "technology" that is responsible for the environmental destruction and commercialism we hate, not "science."

It is not the Enlightenment that brought us here, but the backlash against the Enlightenment once it threatened monetary values, and also threatened to teach people to think critically before accepting "pre-received conclusions".

Don't make St. Augustine's mistake. Don't throw out the baby with the bathwater.

10:33 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Zosima et al,

Re: Britain’s Suez Moment – Addendum

This was related to me back in the 1990’s by a British colleague (with leftwing proclivities) at Kuwait University who had been an actual participant.

Elite British and French paratroopers landed in Egypt and seized the Suez Canal, while British conscript troops were landed by sea and were supposed to move inland and consolidate their positions at the canal.

The conscript troops had decided among themselves that they wanted no part of it. They agreed to fight only in self-defense if attacked and that they would land on the beach but move no further.

Upon landing, a British officer told a platoon sergeant to order his men forward and the sergeant refused. The officer drew his pistol and repeated the order, whereupon the soldiers all worked the bolts of their Enfield rifles, arming them while making an ominous sound. The officer replaced his pistol in its holster, and the Empire learned that it could no longer depend on conscripts for imperial adventures.

In Vietnam I think the US military learned the same lesson again and again, which is why our citizen army was replaced by a volunteer army.

Also, about the domestic effects of an overseas empire: go to YouTube and look up “Chalmers Johnson, Conversations with History”. There are two, so choose the one where he isn’t wearing a tie and which features his book ‘Nemesis’. Very highly recommended!

Savantesimal,

Thanks for the tip on the William Gibson novels.

I do wonder about novels that feature a collapsing civilization but still center around computer technology. I understand that it takes a lot of energy to keep the internet going, so maybe cyberspace will also collapse in a post fossil fuel world.

David Rosen

10:54 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

DR-

Major factor in end of our involvement in VN was not so much fragging and combat refusals (the #s for which are relatively small), but the institution of a lottery for the draft. Up to that pt, sons of the middle class cd usually escape service via student deferments, for example, or political connections. Nobody except parents of the deceased cared if the kids were coming back in body bags because these were poor kids. Once the lottery system was instituted (1 Dec. 1969), the children of the *middle class* started coming home in body bags, and suddenly the war was intolerable: it's OK for poor kids to be cannon fodder, but not our (middle class) kids. By 1970, the war was increasingly untenable, and Nixon shifted to an air war.

Of course, it also didn't help that the Vietnamese kicked our ass but good, culminating in our humiliating exit in 1975.

mb

11:23 PM  
Anonymous satyaSarika said...

Re: fossil fuels:

A while back peak oil loomed. Now that is looking good compared to increased production through fracking and deep water drilling, especially in the arctic. Now it's looking to me like peak oil won't ameliorate the Global Warming near like some of us thought it would. Not to mention the tar sands gluck. I need to do more research to discover how these 'new sources' will likely be enabling the burning for that much longer. Ugh!

@Mauricio
I think you do a pretty fair job of maintaining a decent amount of humility in the face of folks' tendencies to treat you as an omniscient oracle. I appreciate it.

I've got my fingers crossed for Egypt's people. I think there's still much hope there. I liked Shamus Cookes' recent article on the subject: http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/07/12/whats-next-for-the-egyptian-revolution/

Hope it's not over idealistic

11:35 PM  
Anonymous Count Friedrich Sauerkraut Von Heineken said...

Hello Wafers,

More examples of the ignorance and carelessness of amerIkkkon citizens.

The post office in my town has a ramp, but the door isn't automatic, so it would be impossible to enter unless someone held the door-which isn't always going to happen, because common courtesy is no longer common. Sidewalks in my town are uneven, and on garbage day trash cans block the path. The aisles of the small local stores I wanted to support were impossible to navigate. Even taking my kids into Center City Philadelphia, where the sidewalks are plenty wide, I'd get the evil eye for having my stroller take up space. Also, smokers would carelessly flick ashes wherever they were, not realizing/caring that they were flicking them ONTO MY KIDS.

http://shine.yahoo.com/parenting/disabled-girl-turned-away-museum-because-her-wheelchair-145400907.html

1:37 AM  
Anonymous Gallifrey said...

Dr. B,

To paraphrase Thomas Lewis from your Postman lecture: "A good deal of modern American culture is an extended experiment in the effects of eating shit while being constantly told that it's chocolate ice cream."

2:02 AM  
Anonymous ellen said...

Dovidel,

The 'Suez moment' for us Brits was the moment that the illusion shattered, on both sides of the class divide. Britain had long been divesting itself of an empire that it could no longer control. (India, the jewel in the crown and main source of plunder, went in 1947)
I was a child of a military family and grew up in the outposts of empire, it was obvious to me then that the project was doomed. We were always hated by the locals who nevertheless worked for us for the ready money. The control was always an illusion enforced by brutality, usually delivered by co-opted higher castes of locals--again for money and benefits.

Pretty much nothing has changed in the tactics of empire.
Our soldiers are no longer conscripts but still cannon fodder, drawn from those who have no other prospects of decent work outside the military. Each year more kill themselves than are lost in battle, something the MOD denies by the simple expedient of keeping neither records nor providing any aftercare.
'Twas ever thus. Lions led by donkeys.

2:12 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Count-

r.u. checking yr post-it every morning, when u get up? The mystery is solved when u realize u.r. living among degraded buffoons.

Sat-

All oracles have feet of clay, so I do my best not to be too vatic. Actually, I think most folks on this blog--me especially--know that I'm pretty small potatoes, not even on the American radar screen, intellectually speaking. Friends tell me I'll be discovered posthumously. Jesus, talk abt cold comfort. (It's actually not that hard to retain yr humility when virtually no one reads yr work, no publisher is even mildly interested in doing the pb edn of yr latest bk, and you get a total of abt 2 spkg invitations a yr. These are pretty gd reality checks.)

mb

4:40 AM  
Anonymous Rowdy said...

Dovidel,

Britain is a small country which conquered half the world. The reason the ‘Suez moment’ came so long after the Boer War (their Viet-Nam?) was because they had been piggy-backing on the US for a long time. The US had financed them and had saved their butts in two world wars.

Check out "Britain's War Machine" by David Edgerton. The idea that the US "saved" Britain's "butts" is sadly a myth cherished only by Americans.

Also check out "The Wages Of Destruction" by Adam Tooze - the Nazis were way, way, weaker than they have since been given credit for.

It was the Japanese at Singapore who struck the fatal blow to the British empire, as it denied them a large portion of the raw materials they needed for the Napoleonic-style long war they were hoping to conduct against Hitler.

Armament supplies aside, the British were desperate to keep the USA out of the European theater until this point. Neither Nazi Germany nor the USA did any significant damage to the British Empire, but the US was eventually able to dwarf Britain thanks to the Japanese blow.

In truth, Suez was an irrelevance, except to the French who have never really forgiven the USA for the humiliation it delivered to them.

5:15 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Rowdy-

And to the British. The event had great symbolic importance, worldwide. It became clear to all who was running the show.

mb

5:32 AM  
Anonymous Rowdy said...

MB,

Well it was the Soviets who benefitted from Suez - the Egyptians showed little gratitude to the US.

The thing about Suez is the different attitudes of the British and French. The Brits were half-hearted from the start - there wasn't much public support, and plenty of internal opposition.

The French were much more determined - it was their attempt to re-establish themselves on the world stage. The British let them down, and so they turned to Germany and a united Europe.

Which is to say that from a French perspective, the USA could, and should, be faced down - defeat wasn't inevitable. The Israelis similarly didn't care about international approbation.

For the British, all Suez did was confirm a well-established downward trend. Nothing more. It was embarrassing for them, sure, but their allies were still surprised at how easily they caved in - as though they had given up before they began.

I think the loss of Singapore, then India were instrumental in inculcating this attitude. Suez is remembered because it was the last major blow, but it wasn't the most significant one.

6:03 AM  
Blogger Zosima said...

Smith-
Excellent defense of science. Science plus the ethics of our wisdom traditions from the Taoists and Socrates though Kant and others would have served us well. Instead we got science plus capitalism minus the wisdom, and the results are plain for all to see.

Dovidel-
Thanks for the details on the Suez Crisis. My point was that the US is not at that point of weakness militarily in relationship to other powers. But we certainly are weaker that we were in the 1950’s, as a multi-polar world that Wallerstein and others have described has developed and now many countries defy the US. China and Russia over Snowden, France and Germany over the Iraq invasion. Europe, China, Japan, and India are now much stronger and only Russia has weakened since the 1950’s.

Despite the persistence of a ridiculously bloated military and security establishment in the US, I’m starting to wonder if the whole of it isn’t beginning to resemble the cavalry in the sense that it really doesn’t seem very effective in gaining America anything, and is such a tremendous waste of national resources, that even our elites may have to conclude that it’s time to rethink things. What more can it do, where is there left to attack? Are we really going to attack China and turn bare all the shelves of our own Walmart stores, what is to be gained? The global nature of the economic system, and the ominous global environmental debacle, screams for a rethinking of the useless nationalist militaristic empire paradigm. America maybe the most hidebound nation on earth, clinging to an antiquated constitution, clinging to a 19th c. version of capitalism and social Darwinism, clinging to racism, and clinging to an antiquated empire paradigm. It somewhat resembles 19th c. China, which fell behind the rest of the world and had become ripe for dismemberment and revolution.

6:46 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Rowdy-

Pls post only once every 24 hrs; thank u.

I'm no expert on late-empire England, and you probably know lots more abt it than I do. But friends of mine who are experts wd disagree w/yr analysis. Again, yr overlooking the symbolic dimension of the event, wh/was enormous. If u check world newspapers prior to Suez, England was treated as No. 1, even tho it had economic feet of clay since the Boer War. When Ike told Macmillan that he wd destroy the pound if Britain didn't quit Suez, that was a shot heard round the world. Perceptions of who was in charge shifted almost overnight, and this was hardly insignificant.

However, I'm much more interested in America's (future) Suez Moment. It is now us who have feet of clay, while the world still thinks we're No. 1. What's it going to take to shift that perception? We need a symbolic event.

mb

6:53 AM  
Blogger Elan: Reviews and Reflections on Culture, Politics and Spirituality said...

Thought I would share this article from TruthOut, "Why Aren't Americans Fighting Back?" by E. Douglas Kihn. This is a good question indeed and obviously one that is of central concern to the ongoing discussions happening here: http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/17498-why-arent-americans-fighting-back

7:20 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Z-

There's no lack of countries to attack, and b4 the US goes down the tubes, it will probably attack them. Iran, for starters, but it doesn't really matter: the US just needs an enemy by wh/to define itself. Cd be Ghana, for all I know. Check out "Locating the Enemy" in QOV.

mb

9:58 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Now we're getting somewhere:

http://readersupportednews.org/news-section2/421-national-security/18426-edward-snowden-nominated-for-nobel-peace-prize

11:08 AM  
Anonymous Golf Pro said...

I think the best way for the USA to have a Suez moment is to attack Egypt.

12:31 PM  
Anonymous shep said...

I saw another good line yesterday.

"America has Rabies."

12:46 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Golf-

That's coming, fer sure; but 1st we need to do Iran and Ghana, plus nuke Toronto and Paris.

mb

12:48 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

There's a nice article at Asia Times entitled "Surveillance dystopia looms," by historian Alfred McCoy. Here's a good quote summarizing his views:

"Sadly, Mark Twain was right when he warned us just over 100 years ago that America could not have both empire abroad and democracy at home. To paraphrase his prescient words, by "trampling upon the helpless abroad" with unchecked surveillance, Americans have learned, "by a natural process, to endure with apathy the like at home.""

Link here: http://atimes.com/atimes/World/WOR-01-150713.html

1:08 PM  
Anonymous J S RANK said...

MB ...in reply to your comment at 9:58 .
Past is prologue. The US has ONLY attacked/invaded the weakest and poorest states over the last 60+ years.
Our military/industrial/congressional complex ( as Eisenhower at first correctly termed it ) is composed of cowards and chickenhawks: schoolyard bullies that pick on those they think they can beat up and assassinate with no adverse consequences to themselves.
One could go even further back in time and argue that WWII was an aberration. Re: the Central American 'banana wars', WWI with a practically already defeated Germany, Spain ( Spain ? ), and the Native American nations.
In retrospect, the Civil War was probably just practice.

The Zimmerman/Martin incident and trial is a microcosm and emblematic of this pathology.
A weak minded, sociopathic, imaginary 'supercop' creates in his warped mind an 'enemy' to profile and target. He arms himself with a deadly weapon. Then he goes looking for someone that fits his preconception, but also someone he figures would offer little to no resistance or danger to himself.
The murders of Emmitt Till, Matthew Shepard, and James Byrd are other notable examples of this mentality; along with countless serial killers.

So, the next 'involvement' for the US MIC could be Ghana, or Bangladesh, or Sudan ...or perhaps usual suspects Iran or North Korea.

Too bad they don't look closer. They could just attack Mississippi.

1:12 PM  
Anonymous Bingo said...

This is a fascinating discussion about America’s Suez moment. Lately, it seems that the American empire is being ambushed by 1000 little Suez moments. Moments such as Abu Graib, Collateral Murder video, force-feeding of Gitmo hunger strikers, IRS/AP scandals, blatant assassination of Michael Hastings, Edward Snowden, etc. Considering that many of these “1000 little Suez moments” also bear high doses of irony and imperial humiliation, perhaps this lame empire will die of 1000 slaps in the face.

Speaking for Snowden, the other day Greenwald stated that "Snowden has enough information to cause [more] harm to the U.S. government in a single minute than any other person has ever had," and that, "The U.S. government should be on its knees every day begging that nothing happen to Snowden, because if something does happen to him, all the information will be revealed and it could be its worst nightmare." It’s probably naïve to expect that this highly damaging information Snowden has will somehow remain secret indefinitely. Are we, perhaps looking at America’s final Suez moment here?

Bingo,

PS – now that I have finally left the US, and I am unlikely to return to that country again, I highly recommend WAFers take up “geographical therapy” ASAP. I never felt better in my life than I did after I left that hellhole of a place, 2 weeks ago.

1:16 PM  
Anonymous Troutbum said...

Dr. Berman and fellow WAFers:

Thanks to USA Today, we have a scorecard, of sorts. Quoting:
"In the year since the movie theater massacre in Aurora, Colo., 23 mass killings in 19 states have taken the lives of 126 people. Six of the attacks were public killings in which many of the victims were unknown to their killers.

A USA TODAY database of these shootings over the past seven years shows that what Americans experienced over the past calendar year is sadly typical. There have been 14 such incidents since Jan. 1 of this year, while 2012 actually had a low for the reporting period: 22 mass killings. The high was 37 in 2006, the first year of the examination. (The FBI defines mass killings as murders that occur in a short time span and in which four or more people are killed.)"

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/07/15/mass-killings-after-aurora/2512501/

I was expecting higher totals.

1:28 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and Wafers,

If I got a pastrami sandwich every time I've heard someone say that George Zimmerman was merely defending himself, I could resurrect the Stage Deli in NYC.

It seems to me, that all the talk surrounding the issues of stand your ground laws, self defense, and the right to use deadly force out of fear is simply a justification to pull the trigger. This puts everyone's life at risk from gun wielding vigilantes, no? In other words, we now have case precedent that whenever someone "believes" or "feels" threatened, even when police authorities specifically tell them *not* to pursue what they perceive as threatening, they get to pull the trigger...

Also, please see photo of Zimmerman's defense attorney, Don West, eating an ice cream cone with his daughter. The smug satisfaction, the sanctimonious smiles on their faces speaks volumes. Indeed, it's not about justice Wafers... It's about winnnnnning!

http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/28/us/zimmerman-lawyer-photo

Jeff

3:41 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jeff-

The trouble is that there's what actually happened, and what can be proven in court. These aren't the same thing; and with respect to the latter, on a whole # of levels, the prosecution did a shoddy job--it's quite a list. The court system operates on proof (historically, the emergence of modern science was conditioned by jurisprudence--make yr case). As far as I cd make out, the prosecution simply failed on that count--and in our legal system, that's what counts. This was a classic case of shooting oneself in the foot--and it wasn't necessary. You get rational, and you do yr homework (if u wanna win). Above all, u construct a convincing narrative, and the prosecution failed to do that. Did they think that emotion, rhetoric, and an incoherent/hostile star witness were going to carry the day? I just can't figure it. It's not like these folks don't know how the court system works.

Julian-

Congratulations again. That's pretty much what I felt when I crossed the Mexican border in 2006. Meanwhile, Snowden has been nominated for a Nobel. Not Suez, but pretty gd, I'd say. Meanwhile, all the US knows how to do is continue committing suicide.

shep-

More likely dopamine addiction; see SSIG, which shd be up on Amazon next wk (yea!).

JS-

As far as what actually happened on the Zimmerman night, who knows? Only Zimmerman, and how much can we trust his version of events? It does look like he is a cop wannabe; when the dispatcher told him to let it go (i.e., not follow Trayvon), he ignored the (very wise) suggestion. Beyond that, it's all speculation (and we are hardly short of that, these days, which tends to say more abt the speculators than abt reality). As for our wars: that's correct. After WW2, we never took on any heavies, and certainly (thank god) not the USSR. It was pretty cowardly: small countries that were no threat, and tinpot dictators. It's not about real enemies; it's just about having an enemy. Ghana and Chad need to hide under the bed...

mb

4:20 PM  
Blogger Himanshu Tiwari said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

It seems like the Zimmeran topic is hot on this blog. I read a column by Fred Reed (who was Joe Bageant's close friend and like you lives in Mexico) on Zimmerman. The opening paragraph is a blast:

"The Zimmerman affair warms the cockles of a curmudgeon´s heart. (I´m not sure what a cockle is, but I want mine to be at the right temperature.) Never have I seen such sprawling, cacophonous, indignant ignorance and frightful stupidity as that being exhibited by the American public. We are doomed. I am delighted. Curmudgeons love doom."

Below is the link:
http://www.fredoneverything.net/Zim.shtml

On a different note I had first hand experience recently with a friend of mine on the "in America even the smart are dumb" phenomenon. We were talking about the issues with the two-party system. I was trying to argue how the two parties are the two sides of a Mobius strip and they just play good cop, bad cop. My friend is a Democrat. He agreed with me to some degree. When I suggested that this is all the culmination of a long historical process and not much can be done because Americans suffer from CRE. He half nodded and half glazed over.

He then suggested that we need to find a way to convey all the historical information, the alternative tradition, etc in a simplified form like Morgan Freeman does on the TV show "Through the wormhole" about Quantum Physics. I did not know what to say. It seems even the smart people in the US want to use the same tools, to convey complex and nuanced information, that easily lend themselves to slogans, and soundbites.

Thank You,
Himanshu

5:00 PM  
Anonymous Bingo said...

American parenting at its finest:

"Chuck E. Cheese's Brawl Ruins Children's Birthday"

http://shine.yahoo.com/parenting/chuck-e--cheese-brawl-ruins-children-s-birthday-164311037.html?vp=1

Please allow me: USA! USA! USA!
Once more: USA! USA! USA!

5:35 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Julian-

Pls post only once a day, thanks.

What were they fighting abt, anyway? I confess, I love it. Read my new bk, "Chuck E. Cheese and the American Soul."

Yrs ago a woman who was working in admin at the Baltimore Symphony Orch told me of a case where there was some mixup regarding who was sitting in what seats at a concert, and the 2 couples in question just attacked each other. One woman took off her shoe and began beating the other woman w/her stiletto heel. I tell u, I love this; I can't get enuf of it.

mb

6:02 PM  
Anonymous Mikbeth said...

@ Jeff T:

I have no idea what my brother's financial situation was and he's hardly anti-teacher as his wife is a college professor. He just seems fixated on MB's characterization of Wittgenstein as being a one-time Platonist. To quote my brother again:

"Call me unfair, but I see no warrant for extending myself to try to understand somebody who can't even get his Wittgenstein or ontological status of claims in physics correct* - especially in front of an academic audience.. It strikes me that there are better investments of my time.
*An unforgivable blunder, by the way, for someone who has a Ph.D. in the History of Science."

I have no idea if his disagreement over Wittgenstein has any merit. I assume MB has a good reason for saying what he said in the lecture but it was hardly the main point. The dialogue with my brother got worse as he lectured me on the need to get out from under the "tutelage" of inferior thinkers and make up my own mind. Of course this comes from somebody who thinks Hillary Clinton would be a good option for President.
Another brother (there are 14 of us), in response to Dr. Berman’s lecture which he no doubt did not watch, recommended I read Bruce Lipton who argues that we can change our DNA with our thoughts which is total nonsense. Google him if you want to explore a high level of fraudulent thinking. He makes Deepak Chopra sound brilliant.
Apparently the note on my bathroom mirror is not strong enough to remind me that I live among dolts so I have asked my wife to slap me hard in the face if I ever think about sharing one of MB’s lecture’s again. Clearly my experience can stand as empirical support for MB’s arguments that it is hopeless.

8:22 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Mik-

Yr bro is one sad guy; basically, a jackass, and a scared one. As for Wittgenstein as Platonist: virtually all of W's biographers point out that the 1st phase of his life was an argument for pure Ideation, and the 2nd phase (following his 'retreat' from philosophy and years spent as a schoolteacher) an argument for the crucial importance of context; that philosophically speaking, he did a full 180 in midlife. While your brother's problem w/me is hardly the fine points of Wittgensteinian philosophy, he might educate himself on the subject, shd he want to, by reading ch. 6 of my bk "Wandering God," and also the refs cited in the ftnotes: Ray Monk, A.C. Grayling, et al.

As for atomism: well sure, Democritus was not aware of quantum mechanics and 20C modifications of his own theory, but (a) I didn't think this lecture was the rt venue to split hairs (or atoms) abt all that, and (b) my pt is that while 'common sense' (or phenomenology--the 'horizontal' approach) tells us that things are hard, blue, warm, or whatever, modern physics textbooks reveal that these are just appearances ('accidents', in Aristotle's terminology); it really all comes down to matter and energy. It's just an obvious case of what I'm calling the 'vertical' argument.

But this academic nitpicking is not what is really exercising yr brother, as u well know. He's scared: at what I said, and what it implies. The academic nitpicking, and the ad hominem attacks on me, are abt changing the subject, so he doesn't hafta confront something that's disturbing. I mean, even if I were wrong abt Wittgenstein and Democritus, so what? The main pt of this lecture stands, and that, for yr bro, is what he's trying hard not to look at. And he'll succeed, of course, because his self-delusion has very powerful energy behind it (existential terror).(Now he'll complain that I didn't get Sartre right, etc.) I think you get my point, even tho he won't and I'm guessing never will.

However, this is terrific evidence for what I've been arguing for years: 'dumb' is hardly a function of IQ. Robt McNamara was a complete idiot, IQ be damned. The result of that was yet another nail in the American coffin, namely Vietnam. In a technical sense, yr brother may be among the 'best and the brightest', and look what he comes out with. Basically, he's an educated fool, as you undoubtedly realized long ago--intellectually smart (tho maybe not; not too much evidence of that so far), ontologically retarded. Which brings me to my 2nd major pt: there is no hope for this country, and as you yrself pt out, he's pretty gd evidence for that argument. Exactly who is going to turn things around, when even the smart ones can't look reality in the face? What chance do we possibly have?

As a result--and no irony here--I'm grateful that yr brother exists and is who he is. Hopefully, he won't grow or mature or learn anything; he'll just keep doing what he's doing. At this pt in American history, that's just what we need--lots of guys like him. (That he's a sad sack and a putz, of course, isn't what *he* needs, but I suspect changing that wd require an act of God.)

Anyway, thanks for sharing; u made my day.

mb

9:41 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

Morris Berman said...Z-

There's no lack of countries to attack, and b4 the US goes down the tubes, it will probably attack them. Iran, for starters, but it doesn't really matter: the US just needs an enemy by wh/to define itself. Cd be Ghana, for all I know. Check out "Locating the Enemy" in QOV.

The Zimmerman case, Sandy Hook, and many others proves that Americans just can’t live without guns and the frequent need to use them to fill their emptiness with the cheap thrill of quick violence. So, you’re right, invasions of countries fill this need on a national scale and briefly unite what is obviously a soulless people riven by racial and class divisions that have to be covered up in some way; therefore right about now, America needs a big distracting invasion. I’m placing my bets on a darkhorse candidate: Cuba. Afterwards, I see America adding a string of sister gulags on that island to keep Guantanamo company.

As for the future, I see our elites simply continuing and accelerating current trends. This means the lower and middle classes will be pushed down into desperate poverty relatively quickly. But anyone who thinks this will lead to violence or anger towards the elite doesn’t understand the psychology of Americans. Most Americans will blame themselves for their poverty, or blame minorities, and direct their anger and violence there, as they do now. It’s also highly possible that Americans could descend to an Haitian level of poverty and still retain their love of the police state and their gold plated military machine of billion dollar bombers, as solace and to gratify their sick egos.

The bright-sided part me sees an upside to the Zim murder, if we could have an army of volunteers go around and execute anyone carrying a bag of Skittles or a soda, the diabetes rate would plummet, and so would health costs. Isn’t this is the only kind of national health care system Americans would support with enthusiasm? Expect it to be a plank in the next Republican platform.

9:53 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Z-

I like yr idea of a bullet-driven national health care system; it's both creative and poetic. However, George was toting a revolver, wh/is really small beer. Think of what he coulda done w/an AK-47, or a drone. Now *that* wd be a health care system we cd all be proud of.

Is this the only site in the blogosphere that has come to the conclusion that the US is basically abt death?

mb

10:39 PM  
Anonymous Joe doesn't know said...

re: martin/Zimmerman...there just cannot be rational discussion in this country because everyone reacts with pure emotion. americans lack the ability to take a deep breath and let the instinctual, uncomfortable feelings pass when experiencing anything remotely resembling a slight. being completely devoid of coping skills, and/or the ability to tolerate even a few moments of 'not getting my way', we have a nation of full-grown toddlers with firearms. Axis II personality disorders such as narcissistic and borderline personality disorders (or at least traits of these disorders) are so common that -as a mental health professional- it becomes difficult to even 'diagnose' these conditions, , because it's just the fucking norm for someone to have zero mood regulation/stress tolerance, and the desire to be soothed at all times. Perhaps, someday (DSM X, maybe?) the whole cluster of pers. d/o's will be renamed "American Personality Disorder". If fear and anger - matched with unabashed stupidity - weren't completely embedded into each of our countrymen, the ability to rationally and effectively discuss and address such things as Martin/Zimmerman would, however, be irrelevant, because these things would rarely occur.

11:36 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Dr. Berman,

I think you’re right that we tend to overemphasize GI resistance to the VN War and underemphasize the class nature of the antiwar movement. M. Scott Peck in his book on evil, “People of the Lie”, stated that the antiwar movement only took off after they started sending guys to Vietnam who hadn’t volunteered to go there. The impact of the antiwar movement grew as the war’s impact on the upper and middle classes grew.

I do remember reading, however, that the generals started asking draft boards to stop sending college graduates in their mid-twenties, but instead to send 18 year olds – who tended be less trouble. Also, I think a lot of GI resistance was passive: like drug use, goofing off, turning ‘search and destroy’ into ‘pretend to search, and avoid’, etc.

Ellen,

Over here, Americans have such an inflated opinion of themselves that when a war turns out not to be a ‘cakewalk’, they start whining that it’s ‘not worth a single American life!’ (Somehow the thousands of killed, maimed, widowed, and orphaned black, brown, and yellow people don’t seem to matter.)

So the pentagon tries to minimize casualties by substituting technology and massive firepower. What most people don’t realize is how damaged people are by going to war and killing. The person killed dies once; the person who kills dies over and over again. My father was a combat veteran, so I know.

Rowdy,

You are right that Americans tend to overemphasize the US contribution to both world wars, but it did help Britain. America came out on top by getting involved as late as possible and by leaving most of the fighting and dying to others.

Today, I doubt if most Americans know WWII Allies from Enemies.

David Rosen

12:22 AM  
Anonymous ellen said...

Mr Putin, for whom I have a sneaking regard despite his unashamed despotic tendencies, is further stirring the pot:

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iZhU3RfW07aWj6WkITWEvE6zjncQ?docId=CNG.886bc8276d21a6387c4560b483f7c95c.781

The telling phrase is this one from Putin, I think:
"We said: 'That will be without us, then. We have other battles to fight,'" he said with a smile.

Some Soviet-sized war games going on too, rattling a few sabres?:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-23327158

3:06 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

DR-

I do remember rdg the results of a poll abt 1-2 yrs ago: 50% of those polled said Russia was our enemy in WW2, and Germany our ally. When the Wall fell in 1989, the same % was unaware that Germany had previously been split in two. And when I tell people that Americans are brain-dead and that the country has no future--they laugh!

Joe-

Yeah, what can ya do, eh? Check out my essay "Tribal Consciousness and Enlightenment Tradition." It's like the Enlightenment never happened. How many blacks think GZ was innocent? How many whites think he was guilty? (Well, yes, there are quite a few in this particular case.) I was very impressed by an interview with a 34-yr-old black woman, I guess an attorney, working w/the defense team as a volunteer, who said that as she got to know GZ, it became obvious to her that he was not racist. I'm guessing--tho I cd be wrong--that if there had been a black person on the jury, it likely wd have been a hung jury. In general, there is very little ability to stand outside of ourselves emotionally and consider the objective facts of a situation (in my essay, I use Jews/Christians and the Dreyfus affair as my example).

mb

4:44 AM  
Anonymous Smith said...

Joe doesn't know, in my opinion, that's a tad unfair.

There's a reason people "can't handle slights," and it's because most of our social sphere in this country raise you to believe that "you must accept being abused and attacked in various ways."

So slights actually HURT MORE in this country, because your reputation can be ruined and everyone you know can be turned against you, and you have no ability to resist or fight back.

Think of the blacklisting example during the McCarthy era, for example. The mere suspicion that you're a Communist, and suddenly you lose your job and you can never get work again.

But I suppose if people got mad at being blacklisted, they merely have "poor coping skills."

And, you're raised to believe that you're being "emotional" if you don't automatically agree with what authority figures tell you (like therapists, for example) or with what conformist peer groups tell you (like classmates who mock and tease everyone who isn't like them).

In other words, if you had good coping skills, you would automatically agree with what the big people say (or so the schools seem to think).

I think you may have the problem backwards. The problem isn't that we aren't willing to tolerate slights, the problem is that as Americans, we're willing to repeatedly slight and abuse people and treat them with immense cruelty, and then condemn them if they don't agree.

After all, think of how many trolls post on Morris Berman's blog. Is Morris Berman reacting "emotionally" when he defends himself and considers the trolls to be assholes?

The fact of the matter is that what we need isn't a lesson in coping, but a lesson in empathy. We need to start respecting other people's anger when we hurt them, and apologize, and offer to make amends and make things right.

In my opinion, that is the skill Americans seem to have lost.

6:38 AM  
Anonymous Golf Pro said...

The only thing I can say about Martin/Zimmerman, as a non-American, is that *only* Americans think there is a significant difference between black and white Americans.

Which is not to say that the structures of prejudice are not real (and they exist in the country I live in too), but on a psychological level I don't think outsiders see any difference between the "races".

7:18 AM  
Anonymous LW said...

Finally received WAF (after reading the other two in the trilogy) and I am loving it. I can tell MB sort of said "F it" and just let loose. The very plain spoken and to-the-point nature of it is refreshing and yea, I guess I fall into the category of people who after reading it feel grateful that I'm not crazy (or at least I am not alone in my craziness).

I also love how MB will summarize an author or activists' call to action and then wonder out loud what type of drugs they were on at the time or suggest reversing earth's gravitational pull is about as likely as implementing the person's ideas.

Just a quick vid for those with time to kill. I came across this video (the truth about doom porn) on YT and while it seems to praise individual effort over a collective one (whatever floats your boat, I just want some sanity and I tend to hate groups of people myself - Carlin anyone?) it does seem to speak an underlying truth about our current and horrible way of life.

Enjoy: http://youtu.be/sMKFpwl7cAA

8:13 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

DR,

I wd have definitely been, as wd GW Bush, a "pretend to search" er, if I had had to go to the VW.

Saw an article the other day where police departments limit hires to an I.Q. of 104 (probably here, my memory is going, fast)

Ellen,

Re: "co-opted higher castes of locals--again for money and benefits.(bribes my addition)”

John Pilger just wrote an important essay about the legacy of Mandela.

http://johnpilger.com/articles/mandelas-greatness-may-be-secured-but-not-his-legacy

Mandela turned out to be the ultimate traitor to black people. He took the bribe and assumed the white greedy fox clothing. He is one pathetic soul today as is TuTu, I assume.

Here is a snippet from the article.

“A new black bourgeoisie emerged quickly, along with a rampant cronyism. ANC chieftains moved into mansions in golf and country estates. As disparities between white and black narrowed, they widened between black and black.”

11:08 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Here's a report on one of my favorite douche bags, whose shoes definitely need a yellow hosing:

http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/279-82/18450-david-brooks-wonders-why-men-cant-find-jobs

shep: a sad story, and an old one: revolution as a revolving door. It also confirms the view that identity politics is not real politics.

mb

11:24 AM  
Anonymous Jesse said...

Welcome to America, the land of the insane and the suspicious:

WASHINGTON -- Chances are, your local or state police departments have photographs of your car in their files, noting where you were driving on a particular day, even if you never did anything wrong.

Using automated scanners, law enforcement agencies across the country have amassed millions of digital records on the location and movement of every vehicle with a license plate, according to a study published Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union. Affixed to police cars, bridges or buildings, the scanners capture images of passing or parked vehicles and note their location, uploading that information into police databases. Departments keep the records for weeks or years, sometimes indefinitely.


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/17/vehicle-records-_n_3610770.html

1:19 PM  
Anonymous Edward said...

LW,

You provided this video:
http://youtu.be/sMKFpwl7cAA

I watched it and everything seemed enticing until the last sentence that says, "humanity can debt and collectivism did not work".

Then I realized we are dealing with the disciples of Ayn Rand.

In my opinion, her philosophy is trash.

Some debt is necessary for market economy. Without some bank loans, some businesses may not get started. The American Wall Street and banks have taken this concept to mean something else.

Some form of collectivism is necessary for the society to be safe and efficient. When you drove today, you drove on public roads, you drove a car made by a collection of work processes manned by human beings. Your father and mother had to run a collectivist family or you would be dead at day one.

The problem with Rand is that her philosophy is based on ignorance. She supported the kind of extreme capitalism that led to the current economic woes in America. Go talk to one of her disciples, Alan Greenspan.

2:17 PM  
Anonymous JS RANK said...

@ MB ...
The GZ case is a racially motivated ambush and murder, compounded by police and legal system incompetence and/or complicity, plain and simple.
The cops accepted GZ's version of events, when his timeline doesn't square. Police tapes have GZ repeatedly referring to the dead ( unkown ) teenager as 'the suspect'.
They ignored evidence: Martin's body was laying on the grass ... on his back, several feet away from sidewalk. IF GZ's claim that Martin was on top throttling GZ's head on the concrete when the shot was fired, how did the body end up where it was and in that position ?
Martin was found still clutching the Skittles bag in his hand. How does one grab another and start pounding while still holding the candy ?
Witnesses described the scene almost immediately after the fatal shot, as GZ straddling the prone Martin, and then GZ getting up and pacing around the body.
Despite this, police did not arrest GZ, did not have him taken to a hospital for his 'wounds', allowed him to wash up before interrogation, and then released him.
Pathologists also dropped the ball or ignored evidence; particularly blood, DNA, and trajectory ( very detailed and too long to post here). Again ...incompetence and/or complicity.
The prosecution was incompetently feeble or purposefully so. This was obvoius in jury selection: peers of GZ perhaps, but not the overall community and certainly not those of Trayvon Martin's. The bias inherent in at least one juror's comments after confirms this.

A killers story of fear and fringe myth is believed, while the narrative of the shadows ( evidence ) is not even considered.

AFA wars, past and future: just think ... If Hitler didn't have to inconveniently invade Poland first and piss off Western Europe, the US could have joined forces and gone after the Commies ! ( As around 30% in US and especially the 1%er's of that time would have preferred ).
A perfect current 'enemy' could be Costa Rica. They're deliberately trying to embarrass US with their health care system, and with no standing army, conquest would be a cakewalk.

3:05 PM  
Anonymous Bad Idea du Jour said...

Dr.B,

Reading Hacker's "The End of the American Era" and loving it!

In it he talks about how America's white collar executives are still Middle Class because, though they are at least as moneyed as their Euro counterparts, they largely remain Proletarian in character, i.e. there is no expectation that a successful American will be cultured in any way. In fact, devoting one's energies outside of the corporation's goals might even hamper your chances of advancement in Corporate America.

Which reminded me of my belly laugh of the weekend. My sister's friend has been dating this "great" new guy: a mid-40's, athletic, charming, and a very successful corporate suit --basically a salt-and-pepper "Ken" doll stuffed with $100 bills, hooray for her!

Apparently, My sister's friend and her fella went to Paris on vacation and when she asked him if he wanted to visit the Louvre he asked her, "What's the Louvre?" And no he didn't mishear, he didn't know what it was!

O&D!

3:50 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

JS-

How big race was a factor here, I'm really not sure; altho the fact that the cops didn't arrest GZ, and let him go on his own say-so until a major uproar ensued, certainly doesn't look good. As for the facts you cite: well, maybe. I didn't really follow the trial all that much, and what apparently was presented in court had lots of conflicting versions and evidence. Who was screaming on the tape when both mothers swore it was their son? There is also no evidence of GZ's racism; he comes across as a cop wannabe who saw an opportunity. I had the impression that any teen in a hoodie--white, yellow, hispanic, whatever--wd 'work' for him, in the sense of offering an opportunity to play law enforcement guy. And the witnesses u say described the scene immediately after: I didn't think there were any! Surely they wd have been brought in by the prosecution. Finally, I don't accept your assertion that the prosecution was purposefully feeble; they quite clearly wanted a conviction--they just were incompetent, and went abt it very badly. As I said earlier, there's what happened, and then there's the issue of proof, and the latter was not on their side, as far as I can make out. All in all, this doesn't strike me as an open-and-shut 'Hispanic guy guns down teenager because he was black' story. The only living witness to the events was GZ, and of course, whatever went down, he's not likely to make himself look bad. I doubt there's enuf here to actually know what went down. But in yr defense, two impt pts remain:

1. Dispatcher told him not to follow up, let it go, and he pursued it (tho it cd be for reasons I stated above, not for racist reasons).
2. Cops didn't arrest GZ until there was a furor abt it. This, in particular, looks bad. I do think it likely that if GZ had been black, and Trayvon white, cops wd have taken GZ into custody at the time of the shooting. However, this makes the cops racist, not GZ.

Anyway, as u know, there's no end to this debate, and we cd go back and forth on it for weeks, w/o any conclusive outcome--not something I have a lot of energy for. What I do think is incontestable is that the prosecution made a botch of their case. (How they let someone like Rachel Jeantel take the stand w/o prepping her beforehand, coaching her, role-playing the likely questions, and so on, is abs. beyond me. And she was their star witness. Man, talk abt fucking up.)

As for Costa Rica: I'm supposed to give some lectures there in Sept. 2014, so while I agree that they shd be vigorously nuked, I'm hoping the Pentagon will wait until October of that yr to give them what they so richly deserve.

mb

3:54 PM  
Anonymous CrowbarAndVaseline said...

Howdy Morris.

I'm not sure if you heard, but I think Hedges lost the case against the NDAA. Here's his quote, it was posted on Truthdig.

"This is quite distressing. It means there is no recourse now either within the Executive, Legislative or Judicial branches of government to halt the steady assault on our civil liberties and most basic Constitutional rights. It means that the state can use the military, overturning over two centuries of domestic law, to use troops on the streets to seize U.S. citizens, strip them of due process and hold them indefinitely in military detention centers. States that accrue to themselves this kind of power, history has shown, will use it. We will appeal, but the Supreme Court is not required to hear our appeal. It is a black day for those who care about liberty."

4:30 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Bad-

Well, that takes me back. Hacker's bk, 1970, may be the earliest in the it's-all-over genre, and then there's a continuous stream of them from that pt on till yrs truly. I was at Cornell when Hacker was, but didn't manage to study w/him; as a math major, I had too much to do. But I do recall a public lecture he gave (this ca. 1965) w/a title like, "Black and White Trash," which was pretty blunt. After the lecture, some guy in the audience--a man from Africa, if I remember correctly--said: "So what yr saying is that everyone is trash, rt?" Unfortunately, I can't remember Hacker's reply, tho I think it was a qualified yes. I wish he had said, "Well, Americans, for sure." 'Ken' is a pretty good example of an American nonperson; and we have so many of them now, don't we? We need a world MPH index: Morons Per Hectare. For example: Denmark, 0.6; America, 144.8.

O sure, we're gonna turn things around. Bright future ahead!

mb

4:33 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Crowbar-

Here's the article from Truthdig:

http://www.truthdig.com/eartotheground/item/chris_hedges_responds_to_ndaa_defeat_20130717/

Some time ago I wrote Chris and said, "You know, even if u win, u lose, because these people don't care abt the law or due process, and will just keep rounding up whomever they want even if it's declared illegal." He wrote back and said, "Yes, I know, but it's still worth the fight." So now, the whole effort has been snuffed out. I wonder how many times it's "still worth the fight," as the country slides down the drain. I keep wishing he'd come down to Mexico, already. I mean, it hardly means u hafta stop writing. All any of us can do now is chronicle the slide down the drain; there is simply no way to prevent it.

mb

4:54 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and Wafers,

JS RANK, Dr. Berman, Wafers-

On Monday, July 15, "Background Briefing with Ian Masters" radio program discussed how the prosecution blew the trial pretty thoroughly. "Did the Prosecution Blow the Zimmerman Trial?" is the title of the segment. It can be accessed here:

http://ianmasters.com/

Dr. Berman-

Thanks for the Matt Taibbi article about David Brooks and readersupportednews.org in particular (unaware of it until yesterday). The pap that Brooks peddles boggles the mind: "The Searchers" as an analogy for why men can't adapt or find work! Jesus, from what crevice in his ass did he pull this from?

I count my blessings daily for this blog. Not only do readers of the blog receive cutting-edge Waferian perspectives about the suicidal death cult that is America, they also get access to some dynamite websites that practice serious journalism as opposed to Mr. Brooks' shinola...

Dovidel-

I appreciate your points regarding American attitudes about war i.e., it's gonna be "cakewalk." I remember Cheney, like a hobgoblin, popping up everywhere to remind us how easy the invasion of Iraq would be. I witnessed friends and family buying into it in spades. One part of me thought: it's extraordinary how easily Americans were manipulated into this war. Another part of me thought: these fools want war! Talk about a reality check. I mean, this society really doesn't have a chance if (a)so many were so easily manipulated, and (b)they wanted the war... way, way down deep. Once they got it, however, and things began to go south, they bellyached and yammered on and on about American casualties only; just as you indicate. Oh, and the money it's costing! Let's never forget about that equation...

Mikbeth-

You and me both brother... I casually brought up a WAF analysis at a family event around Christmastime. Big mistake! My wife nearly had a conniption fit. Oh well, I deserved it and should have known better. Good news though; last week she downloaded WAF on her kindle.

Jeff

4:59 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jeff-

I guess it's like farting at a cocktail party. But at least yr wife is now rdg it (or scanning it, as it were; a virtual page is very different from a printed one). As for Brooks: you know, I've wanted to pee on his shoes for a long time, along w/Obama and Thos Friedman. But lately I've been thinking: why waste perfectly gd urine on such people? Do they deserve the honor, inasmuch as they are lower than pond scum? I might just decide to give my bladder a rest.

mb

6:38 PM  
Anonymous Joe doesn't know said...

Smith,

I don't know that we've really disagreed about much, whether I have it backwards or not, and regardless of where it came from, the issue remains. Poor coping skills/reacting with pure emotion and a lack of empathy are not mutually exclusive.

7:52 PM  
Anonymous Dr. Hackenbush said...

MB, one quick pnt on Zimmerman if you'll indulge me: I think there are conflicting reports on whether he followed the dispatcher's advice not to follow --- I think his story is that he was out of his truck, on foot, when they said that; and that he *was* turning back when he was (supposedly) confronted or jumped.

In general though, it seems like both sides are reading different sources that reinforce their own point of view and exclude any competing evidence. Liberals hear all evidence that supports their side, conservatives hear the opposite, and they get increasingly angry as they can't understand how the other side could be so clueless. LOL

8:35 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Hack-

I think it's pretty clear that both sides will interpret it thru their own particular lens, and that the twain shall never meet. Just to stand back for a moment, however, and look at the larger picture: ugly race relations is another factor in the American decline, it seems to me. The 'race problem', however one wants to define it, will never get solved; and altho we put slavery behind us, and the lynchings of the 1st half of the 20C as well, over the past 40 yrs things seem to have gotten worse rather than better. What's the stat? A young black male is 200x more likely to be in jail than in college, something like that? Or rates of incarceration, death row, etc.--it's not likely any of that is going to change very soon. The one thing that blacks and whites have in common in America is hustling: everybody defines life in terms of making a buck, and as an ideology, this ain't exactly the sort of glue that can hold disparate peoples together--just the opposite, in fact. The nation has feet of clay, and poor race relations is one foot among several that is sinking into our collective grave. The late Ronald Dworkin wrote (abt 2 yrs ago) that there wasn't a single institution in the US that wasn't corrupt--this from the pen of one of the most respected intellectuals of our time, and in the NYRB. It doesn't matter where you look--education, the military, intelligence gathering, foreign and domestic policy, the media, or race relations--it gets demonstrably worse almost on a daily basis, w/no solution in sight in any of these areas. I keep wondering when 'progressives' will wake up, but their ostrich behavior is of course one of 'these areas'. Brute fact: when a civilization dies, it dies, and this is what it looks like.

In any case, we are going to have lots more Trayvonish incidents in the years to come; of that, I'm quite sure. We aren't that far away from the pt that practically every American will carry a weapon, and use it w/o too much hesitation: the war of all against all.

mb

9:20 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

FYI: Just happened to run across this as the final para of a review of WAF in an Oregon newspaper:

"Maybe America didn’t fail. If America was founded on and historically dedicated to a hustling, money-grubbing, every-man-for-himself ethos, then, in fact, we haven’t failed but succeeded. In terms of obesity, gross income inequality, environmental degradation, unhappiness, anti-depressant use (2/3 of global market), homicide rates, and recurring economic meltdowns, America has succeeded beyond its wildest dreams."

Touche, I say!

mb

10:47 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Nailed at last: I found a website called "Berman Exposed." Nuts; they finally caught up w/me. OK, Wafers: Here's the dirt; I can't cover it up any longer:

"Berman is a Washington, D.C.-based hired gun who uses front groups to defend his corporate clients against the public interest. Using his lobbying and consulting firm, Berman and Company, as a revenue vehicle for his activities, Berman runs at least 23 industry-funded projects, such as the Center for Union Facts, and holds 24 'positions' within these various entities."

I love the idea of being a hired gun. Remember Paladin, hero of that old TV show? In one episode, he's shot and thinks it's over, so he says: "I die now.--Cervantes, Don Quixote, Epilogue." Now that's class, footnoting yr own death. Hope I can do that. Except I'd like to cite something just a bit more arcane. Perhaps: "Ah, merde!--Alexandre Kojeve, Introduction a la lecture de Hegel, p. 58."

mb

11:12 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Re: The Dangling Empire

Dr. Berman said, “When Ike told Macmillan that he wd destroy the pound if Britain didn't quit Suez, that was a shot heard round the world.”

The Achilles heel of a modern industrial society, and a declining empire or superpower in particular, is its currency. It was the collapse of the South African Rand that caused the Apartheid regime to cry ‘uncle.’

When I arrived in Mozambique in 1979 I decided that I needed a car, so I wrote and asked someone to wire 2,000 US dollars to Barclay’s Bank in Manzini, Swaziland. My two grand got me just 1,800 South African Rand which bought a used VW Beetle with right-hand-drive. Today my 2,000 US dollars would fetch 19,644 Rand – but a South African needs to come up with 19,644 Rand just to get 2,000 US dollars.

A collapse of the US dollar could very well be the Suez moment Americans themselves finally notice. Even the media’s spinning bullshit ‘news’ coverage couldn’t make people ignore that.

The US government seems to know this, and for another country to abandon the dollar as a reserve currency is seen as almost an act of war. The BRIC countries get away with a certain amount of trading using their own currencies, but weaker countries who spurn the dollar, like Libya and Iran, become targets for regime-change – which our ‘free press’ passes off to the US public as liberation, freedom, and democracy.

The US dollar is the fraying thread by which the American Empire dangles, and it seems to me only a matter of when and how internal and external events combine to snap it.

It won’t be fun.

David Rosen

11:44 PM  
Anonymous joe hohos said...

Dr. B,

Hate to burst your bubble but Berman exposed is talking about Richard Berman, not you. You're still small fries and under the radar I guess.

12:05 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Joe-

Ah, merde!

DR-

That may be the key, indeed, but for the moment the USD is doing well against the euro and the yen. Is time on our side, or theirs?

Meanwhile, I ask you all to ignore the text, and just concentrate on the face. Am I imagining this, or does it bear a strong resemblance to a horse's ass?:

http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/276-74/18458-thomas-friedman-is-a-bad-columnist-churchill-edition

mb

12:20 AM  
Anonymous LW said...

@Edward,

I concur. I'm no Ayn Rand-ian. I think that philosophy is pretty much Satanism (wow isn't it cool how selfish we all are???) without the silly symbolism. Anything in extreme is dangerous and of course If you're going to have a society you have to work together with other people in an efficient and fair way. No doubt about that. What we have now is a huge, bureaucratic nightmare - a globalist banking empire that serves no one but the tippy top of the wealth curve, but that doesn't necessarily mean that government is always big, corrupt and evil. But I do think that a government our size is inevitably going to be corrupt. We are way too big for own good.

As far as the video, I think I just enjoy hearing a bit of sense, a simple recognition that what we have now is inevitably ending and irreparably corrupt and damaging to the soul. I like little pings of truth these days and never expect a full plate of it. I take pieces of sanity where I can find it and I never expect anyone to be 100% in sync with me nor do I think I have all the answers. In my opinion, personal responsibility is just as necessary as a fair, efficient government for a truly desirous society.

Who will build the roads? Well if the roads are kept to a smaller, local community level - the people can do it themselves as part of a local collectivist solution (for much less cost) rather than some big, corrupt, debt driven government machine. Here is an example from Portland http://www.kgw.com/video/featured-videos/SW-Portland-neighbors-repair-street-city-fuming-207540181.html?c=n&fb=y&can=n

Debt is necessary or some businesses wouldn't get started? In our society today? No doubt. But maybe it shouldn't have to be that way and maybe we shouldn't limit ourselves to the way things have been - after all look around, do you want to stick to the way things are? Debt is necessary because prices of things are so crazy in relation to what people earn but that is controlled by a bunch of psychopaths on the top of our societal ladder. Debt is slavery. Maybe if government didn't subsidize and guarantee school loans no matter how crazy the amount, the loans would have to shrink to an amount people could actually pay off with money they could actually earn rather than be shackled to a 6 figure debt for 20-25 years? (remember people paying for college by working in the summer????) Maybe the price of a gallon of gas shouldn't fluctuate throughout the day either. The prices of everything around us are completely out of wack with reality as they reflect the cost of knee-jerk speculation rather then the actual inherent value of what is being purchased. I don't think debt is necessary in a just society (especially not in the amount we are experiencing), I think it is a symptom of a sick one. That's just my opinion though, I could be wrong. Cheers!

12:51 AM  
Anonymous ellen said...

shep,

Mandela, who is currently on his deathbed, has become a brand to the extent that his daughter is currently suing him for control of his actual ill-gotten monetary legacy. His grandson, meanwhile, has dug up the bodies of ancestors and reburied them elsewhere as he intends to open a Mandela theme park for tourists once Mandiba is finally planted.

http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2013/07/17/Mandelas-granddaughter-hurt-over-familys-burial-dispute/UPI-75021374060146/

State brutality, meanwhile, is back to apartheid levels with the gunning down of striking miners at Marikana, as John Pilger noted:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marikana_miners'_strike

There is also video footage on the net of a taxi driver being dragged to his death behind a police van for a PARKING VIOLATION.

http://news.sky.com/story/1058102/south-africa-man-dragged-behind-police-van

That's some progress, and some legacy for the sainted Mandela.

Dr B said in reply to DR:

'Is time on our side, or theirs?'

I would say neither. At the moment we are all spinning plates (fomenting wars and 'disorder') to try to keep the current global financial system going while the Saudi rial and Chinese renmimbi buy up what's left of the family silver.


4:28 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

Dovidel,

Agree with your comments on Americans & war. Everything is presented in terms of conflict - well, movie-style conflict, with quick cuts, muscular bodies (male & female, black & white), heroic grunts & shouts, carefully choreographed cool poses, punches of dramatic music, lots of guns in action - they do it all.

I spent a few minutes the other day clicking through someone's TV & noting the commercials for current TV shows - all of the above on full display. Plus we get the "reality" shows with names like Pawn Wars, Market Warriors, Cupcake Wars, Beard Wars, etc.

Listening to the NYC classical music station yesterday in the car, I heard them promoting some "Showdown of the Composers!" where great symphonies go head-to-head, of all things. Beethoven vs. Haydn in the steel cage? "Two men enter! One man leaves!"

As for government & neoliberalism, a well-written reminder of when the rot really started setting in with a vengeance:

http://www.salon.com/2013/07/17/a_fisher_king_in_the_white_house_partner/

Comments always worth reading.

Ellen,

That's sickening news ... but not unexpected, alas. I see there's a Mandela family reality show, too. Guess you've truly arrived when you get one of those!

7:37 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

DR:

U are dead on it. Money is always the lynchpin so, when the dollar goes...


Ellen:

RE: Mandela. Wow.


Dr Berman:

I surely believe the prosecution shot themselves in the foot, intentionally.

And: What a great idea! Fart at cocktail parties, then, annouce that u want to talk about WAF. Also, farting is not messy and u do not have to let anyone know it is about to happen.


General comment:

People in this country, esp. the South, do not know how to define Racism, after all, Americans are dolts. They think it is bigotry and play like they aren't oppressing anyone.

Blacks will always be crushed and despised. Hispanics are currently being played as a means to an end. This is just a necessary tool to stay in the kiss-my-ring seat.

7:46 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

shep-

No way. If anything, the prosecution shot themselves in the foot by being overly zealous for a conviction; and their anger and disapptment at losing the case has been quite obvious. There was no 'taking a dive' here; not at all.

mb

8:22 AM  
Anonymous Bill said...

Dr Berman,

How do you see the breakup of the fifty states playing out? Along ethnic lines, or maybe between the "mega regions" defined by Joel Kotkin?

9:09 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Bill-

Don't really know. In case of VT, for example, it wd be ideological (anti-corporate, eco-sustainable, etc.). Other regions, I have no idea, tho I don't think in general it wd be by individual states.

Truth is, it doesn't really matter for the US except in a negative sense. The US is the past; Europe or Asia are more likely the future, and where positive developments are most likely to take place. Check out most recent bk by Joel Magnuson: the genuine alternative expts going on in the US are very few, whereas in Spain, for example, a yr ago there were 325 of them. Impt thing is not merely to get the US off the stage as a world power, but to put an end to its corporate-commercial ideology, wh/is killing the human soul, other nations, and the planet in general. If it becomes decentralized via secessionist movements, that wd probably be a major step in that direction.

Of course, all this is guesswork: I don't have a crystal ball.

mb

10:23 AM  
Blogger plotinus said...

Dear Dr. Berman,
Every now and then I have to look at the website of Linh Dinh as I live near Philly and he is an astute observer of the city. Mostly it is photographs but he has a good rant from time to time. I like to think of him as Philly's own street poet Berman. I hope you and all Wafers enjoy it.
http://linhdinhphotos.blogspot.com/

10:39 AM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...

MB,

Lots of chatter on movements in states such as vermont (tiny, tiny part of 300 million place) or NH and the ever Texas independence meme. Movements as depicted in junior high history, films or books like Klopkins have really never exisited. Future for U.S on a good day could be the ungoverned areas in parts of asia and africa perhaps. Infrastructure wise it will come to resemble say brazil (without freedom or famiy ties of Brazil)--familiar outline of today but shabbier, corrupt and shiny malls and television spectacles. Bunch of sub normal iq obese pre diabetics or their sprats not going to be much good in the polity and civilization maintating let alone building game. More decline and depression, a few men (women) in white horses will appear to no avail and on it goes. Along with the title of your blog--the Dark Age of America will go on for generations. Combination of apocalyptic religous outlook, belief in ballot box and technology incline many including those commenting here that things will proceed rapidly up or down with some logical order and in fast fashion. Nope--this is going to drag on till Chelsea Clinton's duaghter is president.

11:46 AM  
Anonymous Bill said...

But how can Europe be the future if capitalism is ending?

11:52 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Bill-

Well, feudalism ended and Europe was still around, rt? Use yr imagination! Physical country is not = socioeconomic system.

Capo-

Kinda depressing, eh wot?

12:20 PM  
Anonymous Kevin said...

This just in from Jimmy Carter:
http://www.inquisitr.com/855289/jimmy-carter-defends-edward-snowden-says-america-has-no-functioning-democracy/

1:58 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Kev-

This is a great and courageous man, unlike the cowardly piece of dreck that currently sits in the Oval Office. Of course, he's rt: what kind of a democracy is it that we now have? A joke-democracy.

BTW, JC also weighed in on the Zimmerman trial.

mb

2:18 PM  
Anonymous Bingo said...

Speaking of Karma, I am getting multiple reports of people in various parts of the US (some being my own relatives too dumb to emigrate back to Europe) who are now looking to move into low-class trailer parks or some bombed-out foreclosed property in places like Camden or Detroit in order to carry on a Third World lifestyle on the cheap. Most of these people are educated individuals you’d expect better from. Of course, they also think they are lucky beyond belief to be living in America, and I’m sure all are ready to break into a “USA! USA! USA!” frenzy every time another Afghani family is murdered by their country’s drones.

Ah, the irony of Karma...

4:23 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Julian-

I've been thinking some more abt possible bumper stickers. "We Are All Detroit Now"--too esoteric? Americans aren't too swift, after all.

mb

4:47 PM  
Anonymous Smith said...

Joe doesn't know, I'm afraid I'm going to have to vehemently disagree with you.

Part of the reason we got into this mess is because we had no real "standards". We basically re-defined all of our vocabulary ass-backwards.

For example, if a teenager in school wishes to be treated with basic human respect and decency, he is likely to be told something lie, "What, do you think you're SPECIAL?!"

In other words, Americans defined pleas for civility and respect as though people were asking for special treatment.

No one owes you anything, is the ideology. But ironically, what happens if you criticize the rude people? YOU get accused of being rude, TO THEM! And "you owe them an apology", it turns out.

So essentially we've argued in favor of twisted "pretzel logic": we defined "criticizing rudeness" as "rudeness", therefore we were incapable of restraining rudeness, in the name of restraining rudeness...oh god my head hurts writing that.

As another example of Americans defining everything ass-backwards, take our concept of personal responsibility. Usually, personal responsibility means if you screw up and you hurt someone, you own up to it, apologize, and make amends if possible.

That includes polluting the planet for future generations, or abusing children through oppressive police tactics, or bombing small islands, or publishing a lying review demonizing Morris Berman's Dark Ages America, or detaining Americans without due process, etc.

But because of therapists like the one I recently had to leave (and it's really him I'm mad at, Joe doesn't know, not you, you're a good therapist, but this person literally tried to teach me everything backwards so that awareness of America's flaws was seen as a mental pathology to be fixed), personal responsibility suddenly became an unwillingness to criticize those who were responsible.

We thus had, as just one example, Reagan talking about the responsibility of the people on the islands HE BOMBED!!!

To summarize, Joe doesn't know, once you start judging people by their "emotional states" rather than by "whether or not their deeds harm others", you then remove the reason to treat other people with kindness and compassion at ALL!

After all, if it's wrong to "feel pain and anger" at having been mistreated, why then should we refrain from mistreating others?

Do you get my point, Joe doesn't know? I hope I made myself more clear this time.

5:02 PM  
Anonymous Troutbum said...

Dr. Berman,

This afternoon, Detroit filed for Chapter 9 Bankruptcy with debt and liability of just under $20 Billion, all this with only 700,000 residents. This happened after talks broke down yesterday when it was disclosed that the plan included settlements resulting in a 90% loss for muni-worker retirees, 81% loss for unsecured creditors, and a 75% loss for secured creditors. This will be a landmark case as many other towns, cities and even states head for bankruptcy. It will be the largest municipal bankruptcy in US history and it will bring much disruption to bond markets,and local politics and great hardship to state and local employees whose pension in this case at least will be worth 10 cents on the dollar. You thought you were getting $1000/month, here's your $100 now go away.

5:37 PM  
Blogger took_the_red_pill said...

Well, more from the Signs of the End Times department. Lots of linked articles in this one from Jim Hightower.

Exceptionally Mediocre on a Global Scale

"...on many crucial measures of national achievements, [the USA] has slipped in recent years...the U.S. rate of educational improvement...has tumbled to 25th place among rich and newly developing nations...[placing] us behind such education powerhouses as Germany. We’re lagging behind Colombia, Latvia, Portugal, and Slovenia too.

"Health care? We’re in 37th place...America’s infrastructure [ranks] 25th...[and] our middle class is being hollowed out."

Yet we still are willing to bankroll the enormous Utah (NSA) Data Center and we've been in Afghanistan 3x longer than we were in WWII. Can anyone still deny that we're finished?!

7:59 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Major Moron Dept.:

21 yrs in the slammer for this dolt, who stole $3m from the IRS and then bragged abt it on Facebk. Way to go Rashia! Nothing like staying under the radar...

http://www.opposingviews.com/i/society/crime/rashia-wilson-queen-irs-tax-fraud-gets-21-years-behind-bars

Has the US turned into a gigantic imbecile-manufacturing machine?

mb

8:13 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: Note to Jeff T.:

Just ran across yr review of "Counting Blessings" on Amazon. Very kind--can't thank u enuf.

mb

8:54 PM  
Anonymous Dr. Hackenbush said...

Tim Lukeman- Thanks for the link to Reagan article; I second your reccomendation. It somewhat fits with Russ Baker's view in "Family of Secrets", the idea of a lot of machinations Reagan was oblivious to. However I know a Reagan fan who insists depictions like this are smear jobs, that one has to read Reagan's letters to appreciate his intellect (I know, this gallery will hoot at that, but I have not read said letters, so I with-hold judgment... I was too young to pay much attention to Reagan and my opinion is still in flux.)

While at Salon, I came across a fascinating article on "The Lone Ranger." It sounds to me like director Gore Verbinski's movie might be the mass-market popcorn version of WAF, if such a thing can be imagined. The initial reviews warned me off as they did others, though even then I thought it intriguing that he seemed to be tackling ambitious themes. The Salon writer concludes his piece that it *is* a difficult viewing experience, but provides much fodder for discussion. The one thing still stopping me from running out to see it is that while I don't mind him mucking about with the original, I fear the "identity politics" theme might be too relentless and heavy-handed... perhaps unavoidably, but nevertheless; wherever my sympathies lie, it can be such a tedious aspect of modern entertainment, and I don't take any glee in twisting the knife once again in supposed reactionary bigots out there, if only because it's such a cliche. Anyway, get this, from Salon:

=====================
John Reid comes from the East, duded up in a fancy suit with Locke’s Second Treatise of Government under one arm, a clear reference to the naïve Eastern lawyer played by Jimmy Stewart in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence, a character who, as an advocate of the “progress” that will prove to be tragic for all, upsets the balance of the still-wild Western community. Reid is a hapless fool, and his fanatic dedication to the Second Treatise, one of the Founding Fathers´ favorite texts, is a startling symptom of the film’s tendency to represent the American experiment as a disastrous failure from its inception. The Second Treatise, you will recall, is the Enlightenment work that argues man exits the state of nature and enters into a social contract to better protect his property, which includes himself, his liberty, and his labor, as well as his material possessions. This conceptualization of human existence in terms of property rights led Marxist scholars to contend that Locke laid the groundwork for bourgeois capitalism, and that his Second Treatise can be read as buttressing the view that all relations are transactional relations.

Lest you think I’m reading too much into a foolish character and the book he happens to be carrying, Verbinski insists on its importance throughout the film. Latham Cole (Tom Wilkinson), the arch-villain railroad baron, quotes chapter and verse from the Second Treatise, as well. Tonto spends most of the movie trying to figuratively pry the Second Treatise out of John Reid’s hands. And in the end, the Lone Ranger and Tonto ride off proudly as justice-seeking outlaws.

9:33 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

"Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that but simply growth, We are happy when we are growing."

--William Butler Yeats

America, on the other hand, is imploding.

9:43 PM  
Anonymous Punctured Cocoon said...

"It certainly wouldn't be the United States -- they'd be clawing each other's eyes out for the Ramen!"

LOL!!!

10:10 PM  
Anonymous Pippa Abston said...

It took me a long time-- I'm 49-- to figure out what was happening in the US, so I have a hard time judging anyone else who doesn't see it yet. The situation is dire, and I agree with your assessment that it can't be fixed, sad as that is. The reason I stay, though, is that I don't think life is about fixing things anyway. Have finally understood the reason I'm always drawn to the verse "the light shines on in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it", even though I'm not religious. The whole point of the light is not to take over the darkness-- it is just to keep burning with love somehow or other and not let the damn darkness stamp us out. Sorry if that sounds dorky. I stay here because as a pediatrician with mainly low income patients, I plan to go down with the ship serving those who can't escape. If I knew of a way to help them get out too, I would. But I can't leave them-- at least for the children, it is not their fault. I won't be able to fix a blessed thing for them. I'll be there with them anyway. That might be ridiculous but it means something to me. If I weren't in this position of having committed to them, I would do what you did.

10:51 PM  
Blogger pinkpearl said...

MB, wouldn't Chris Hedges be more likely to move to Canada, seeing as his wife is from there? Not that Canada is a paradise, but it's at least as good as Mexico, and with climate change, almost as warm!

And who wouldn't love to see Chris rip on Stephen Harper?

11:07 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Pippa-

Sounds like yr a closet NMI. I'm sure everyone on this blog salutes you.

mb

11:07 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

MB-

My pleasure. I enjoyed your poetry very much.

Jeff

11:44 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Dr. Berman,

You said, “…but for the moment the USD is doing well…” Well, the moment can be fickle. Also, in view of events in the Euro-zone at the moment, shouldn’t the Euro have fallen through the floor against the dollar? I don’t pretend to understand all this, but I’ve read that the Japanese government has taken measures which lowered the value of the yen. Could this be to help prop up the value of the USD, which they (for the moment) hold in great quantity?

Ellen,

None of the Mandela family shenanigans surprise me. I worked in ‘The People’s Republic of Mozambique’ between 1979 and 1982, and I came to the conclusion that there was simply no politically correct way to describe southern Africa. Many ‘progressives’ with actual experience on the ground also decided to remain silent. Colonialism was very destructive!

When South Africans elected the African National Congress, people said that South Africa finally had democracy. I said, and still say that you’ll know South Africa has democracy when the ANC can LOSE an election! I just hope South Africa doesn’t end up like Zimbabwe.

Also, I said that it was the collapse of the Rand that did in the Apartheid regime. Well, I heard Johann Galtung say that a major cause of the regime’s fall was their realization that they were viewed by the rest of the world with total disgust. Since Americans neither know nor care what other people think, their Suez moment will probably come from the collapse of their money – the only thing they care about.

I don’t have solutions, and the fact that America failed does not make the rest of the world into a paradise.

David Rosen

12:05 AM  
Anonymous Autonomous Forehead said...

You make alot of good points, Berman. But I strongly disagree with you about technology.

I mean this with no disrepect, so please don't take this the wrong way. But the one thing I've noticed about folks such as yourself, Hedges, Orlov, and the peak-oil alarmist types, is a certain contempt or revulsion for digital technology, and a tendency to reject the notion outright that it may have something to offer in the way of solutions or remedies.

To name just one example, you said in the video that MOOCs are useless (or something to that effect). Not so! I speak from personal experience. I was a miserable failure in college, yet I find I'm able to learn advanced topics in mathematics and computer science using free online courseware. And learning about history and the social sciences is alot more entertaining than anything television has to offer.

The reasons for this probably have to do with the kind of person I am -- others may indeed find it useless. But for me, the classroom was always a miserable and useless experience, while the online environment is no comparison.

It seems that your analysis factors out the role of technology, or where it does factor in you only take into account the negative effects it appears to have.

2:52 AM  
Blogger Zosima said...

Morris Berman said...

"Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that but simply growth, We are happy when we are growing."

--William Butler Yeats

America, on the other hand, is imploding.
------------------------------------------------------
America is functioning as designed by its owners, generating growth and happiness for the only people who matter. All of the insane events chronicled by Waferinos and Waferinas over the years, bring nothing but delight to their eyes because they serve a vital and beneficial destractive function by blinding the masses the ongoing theft at the top. So, incidents of violence, stupidity, and lack of cooperation are all signs that the system is functioning well for our elite, to them these events represent the farthest thing from weakness, collapse, or implosion, and I’m sure that they wish for them to increase. Call it functional chaos, something that needs to be nurtured as something as important to the functioning of empire as any of the military services, and maybe more so.

If I had a dollar for every time I have heard collapse/implode I’d be on this list by now.

Billionaires' club has welcomed 210 new members, Forbes rich list reports:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2013/mar/04/forbes-rich-list-more-billionaires

3:10 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Z-

Well, it may function well for the elite, but it's still obviously imploding. The elite are not a measure of a nation's health, after all.

Autonomous-

I'm glad tech functions well 4u; I'm just wondering what u have lost, as a result. You may never know. There's a lot I cd--and did--say in response, but the truth is that u come late to the party, and at this pt I can't rehash all the stuff that was already discussed here, in great detail. You might wanna read ch. 3 of WAF, for starters (esp. if u think I'm ignoring the role of tech in American life); also the articles footnoted in Nicholas Carr's bk, "The Shallows"--on how damaging the technology is to the brain, for example; or Sherry Turkle's bk, "Alone Together." There's a dense literature on the negative effects of all this stuff, by now, and it becomes clear that the down side is far greater than any advantage a MOOC might give us (or a small % of people such as yourself). And I'm sure your online history course was "entertaining," but entertainment is not what real education is about, unfortunately (nor is it what life's abt, wh/is the worldview that screens tend to deliver). Anyway, it just may be that all these folks, including Hedges and Orlov, might know something you don't. But if u wanted to find that out, you'd hafta learn to think synthetically, and to do the necessary research, and these are not things online 'entertainment' can teach u how to do, I suspect. And then, it's pretty hard to learn about things (or a way of understanding the world) whose existence you aren't even aware of.

DR-

Dollar has been doing well against euro for a long time now, altho sure, that cd change next wk. As for yen, that's a deliberate trade advantage: if yen is weak, Japanese goods sell much better abroad.

mb

5:11 AM  
Anonymous ellen said...

Greetings from Airstrip 1.

Dr B,

You will be glad to hear that Mittney's outfit, Bain Capital is buying up the UK's blood supply for those re$urgent bucks. Thank god I stopped (due to age)regular donations of my once desirable plasma some time ago:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/is-there-no-limit-to-what-this-government-will-privatise-uks-blood-supply-sold-to-us-private-equity-firm-bain-capital-8718029.html

In tech news, Francis is offering indulgences for those faithful following him on twitter. Haven't we been here before with the sleazy granting of indulgences?

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/one-hell-of-a-deal-pope-francis-offers-reduced-time-in-purgatory-for-catholics-that-follow-him-on-twitter-8713666.html

and finally, bad news for Bradley, and by extension Edward Snowden's long term prospects of a decent life as a free man:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jul/18/bradley-manning-aiding-the-enemy-charge

5:42 AM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...

MB,

Interesting exchange with Autonomous. Like you MB am a former professor and undergrad math major. The online education fad has been one of my pet peeves. Some people love it (anecdotally not the the brighter best students) some don't. Like say television or even newpapers and the old general interest magazines onine education lets people learn "about" economics or history or math but no actually learn economics, history or math. Its impressionistic stuff without demanding application or evaluation. Can you imagine the "learners" from the online schools in repsponse to a short question fill out a blue book? Some people such as Austonomous remind me when I was an academic the political scientists who knew no math would run data through a point and click statistical program and yeild results which they barely grasped and had no understanding of how the results were obtained--and did not care because well that was what technology is all about! Its the same as people who watch television or read Hfuffington and are opining on issues of the day as if they where the equal of Benjamin Disraeli or Michelle De Montaigne. Ortega was right, the U.S. is the mass nation with no standards or points of reference merely the opinions and feelings of the mass man.

8:18 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

Dr Berman:

"There was no 'taking a dive' here; not at all."

There are many, many, many articles on CPunch and BAR that agree with me. I wdn't be surprised to see Hedges join in the fray. Also, this Trayvon thing cd be Suez for black people in this country.

The horror is: blacks have only two options because they will never, ever receive justice in this country. To violently revolt or to begin a collective NMI withdrawal and boycott from White domination, which is impossible.

The violent approach will eliminate them except as permanent slavery for the ones that survive. This is what the white man has always hoped.

Randy Shields of CPunch: "the criminal justice system is white supremacy’s playground, where racial hatreds, fears and suspicions are given free rein."

Seems to me, if you are correct, the empire has come to its senses.


BTW: Vermont depends on a huge stake in military industry and Bernie supports them fully.

8:38 AM  
Anonymous JWO said...

Auto:

Having taken several online classes in my time I would say they do work OK for math and other non-laboratory based science, but fail for many subjects that rely on extended reading or discussion, such as art history (my thing) or philosophy. If they work for you, great! But just realize they put you in a bubble.

Once you read through the older posts and comments I think you'll see that we here question the unmediated use of tech and techno-Utopianism, or what we NMI-ers (with a touch of hyperbole) call techno-buffoonery. It isn't and never will be "tech will save us all" or "no tech at all" because I like my vaccines very much thank you and well, we are all on a computer when on this blog after all!

8:59 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...


Autonomous,

I have a friend who used to say that digital technology was simply a different way of learning & thinking - in fact, a better one than reading & talking with other people. Some 10 years later, he says cheerfully that he knows he's getting dumber, but who cares, he's got all his digital tech to do his thinking, remembering, reminding for him. And he can't read a printed book for any length of time, as he once could.

It's not that tech doesn't have its upside - look at this blog, for example. But as Jerry Mander & others have been pointing out for close to 40 years now - and the studies support their words - no technology is neutral. Everything has a built-in agenda, and especially a downside that can't be seen until it's too late. The automobile promised greater freedom & delivered it. But it also invariably meant oil empires, superhighways, the alteration of sexual mores (both for good & bad, and so on.

Digital tech offers impressive speed & comprehensiveness - I've made good use of it myself. But it also shortens attention spans, increases continual distractions, trains us to need something new & different every second, makes us impatient & frustrated, isolates us while creating the illusion of connection, etc.

Dr. Hackenbush,

Having been a teenager when Reagan was governor of California, and then watching his ascent to the White House, I can assure you that Didion is frighteningly accurate & honest in her portrayal of him. During college protests in California, his comment about stopping them was, "If there's going to be a bloodbath, let's get it over with." Which is essentially American policy in a nutshell.

9:22 AM  
Anonymous Troutbum said...

Dr. MB and fellow WAFers:

Today, I'd like to call your attention to interesting blog post titled "Plutocratic Insurgency" in which the author argues that " plutocratic insurgency arises wherever you see financial and economic elites using such enclaves as staging areas for making war on public goods. This is what I take to be the defining political-economic feature of plutocratic insurgency: the attempt on the part of the rich to defund the provisioning of public goods, in order to defang a state which they see as a threat to their prerogatives.....the very wealthy today are so rich that they can effectively afford to buy for themselves the sorts of goods which previously required a state to provide. The result is a phenomenon whereby many plutocrats today see no reason to contribute anything to their host societies, and indeed actively make war on the idea that citizenship imbues them with any economic or social responsibilities...... The plutocratic insurgency from above thus mirrors the deviant globalization insurgency from below, and taken together they embody the contemporary crisis of the nation-state. "

Sounds about right to me. It's all here: http://smallprecautions.blogspot.com/2012/09/plutocratic-insurgency.html

9:25 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

shep-

The grass roots secessionists in VT are fully committed to getting free of the military connection, and they hate Bernie--as did the late, great Thos Naylor, who was head of the movement. As for the prosecution taking a dive: CP can say what they want, but what shd be quite obvious is how over-zealous they (the prosec) were. If this was 'acting', then yr taking conspiracy theory to an extreme. And what a betrayal that wd have been of the Martin family. It's too great a stretch, in short. Yes, the legal justice system is rigged against blacks, of course--which is why they let GZ go at 1st, until there was an outcry (wd never have happened if GZ had been black); but this doesn't mean that GZ himself was a racist, or that he was trolling for black teenagers. Your own approach is just too B&W, and if this trial becomes a Suez moment for the black population (wh/is unlikely), that wd be based on what is largely a misperception. As many have pointed out, Jimmy Carter included, the prosecution was so zealous that it overstretched: had it gone for manslaughter, GZ wd have been doing time now. I know all the stats abt young black men in jail, death row, etc.--there's no doubt that the system is rigged. But finally, you can't apply a blanket judgment; it has to be evaluated case-by-case. Which means GZ shd not get convicted of 2nd-degree murder; but neither shd he get off scott-free. Remember, he was the only living witness to what happened; the rest is speculation and conflicting evidence (a witness on the fone, who was not very credible, and two mothers who both insisted a voice on a tape was their son). In the absence of which (solid evidence), cries of "institutional racism" rush in to fill the hole, but that kind of emotional response is not what our legal system--any legal system--is (or shd be) abt. (I may say it better in "Tribal Consciousness and Enlightenment Tradition," in QOV.)

mb

10:06 AM  
Anonymous Bingo said...

More evidence is surfacing daily supporting the idea that, psychologically speaking, America is a nation with absolutely zero ability to introspect and reflect on its dire situation. Of course, without this ability it is impossible to accept fault and effect even the minutest of change in direction. Case in point, this is how the NSA reacted after the ongoing Snowden leaks:

"Snowden sparks NSA overhaul: Sensitive data to be treated like nuclear weapons"

http://rt.com/usa/snowden-leak-nsa-overhaul-303/

America really is a crazed-up nation lacking even the most elementary ability for self-examination. It's a completely insane and very dangerous nation.

MB: you really are a genius for having identified these traits so early on and before anybody else did.

11:12 AM  
Anonymous Autonomous Forehead said...

Capo,

Interesting how I remind you of people with no math skills or knowledge of economics, etc. What's more interesting is that I don't believe you've ever had the opportunity to grade any of my "blue books" or even to have a conversation with me. I'm impressed by your ability to glean so much about me from no less than a paragraph that I wrote on a discussion forum. Good on you, friend. All the best.

12:21 PM  
Anonymous satyaSarika said...

Re: "Indentity politics":

The civil rights, feminist, gay, disabled, and other movements are social justice movements focusing on the problems of particular groups of people. As such, they are broad movements with many factions among them. What's come to be known as "Identity politics" seems to me to be factions of these movements that have subsumed by the prevailing delusions of the 'American dream' with it's particular neoliberal expression seen today. I see 'identity politics' as the current form of co-optation of these legitimate social movements. "Identity politics" is yet one more way to be politically deluded. Using gay rights as an example, we see the public discussion limited to marriage equality and gays in the military. Both issues are extremely limited in terms of social justice, and the gays in the military issue is a complete red herring. The gay marriage issue is used to garner support for the completely irrelevant and sold out democratic party. And so on for the other movements. The most meaningful forms of these movements make common cause with the oppressed and exploited past their own particular issues of the day.

The reason I bring this up here is because of the frequent use on this blog of the term 'identity politics' without any nod to the legitimacy of these social justice movements as encompassing much more than simply identity politics. Perhaps I am stating the obvious.

2:42 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and Wafers-

Tim Lukeman-

Precisely! For the most part, Reagan was/is America. His laissez-faire individualism and draconian social vision is what the nation wanted; a crucial factor, of course, in our collective failure. Witnessing the national obsession of amassing huge sums of wealth during the 1980s, I recall Reagan declaring in 1983 (my HS grad. year), "What I want to see above all is that this remains a country where someone can get rich." You got that right Ronnie! Truer words were never spoken...

ellen-

I always knew Mittney and his coven at Bain Capital were vampires. In fact, Mittney kinda looks like a young Christopher Lee (no offense to Mr. Lee, of course). Remember the horror film, starring Lee, "Dracula: Prince of Darkness"? Like our Mittney, Lee played a villain who hissed his way through the film.

Jeff

3:00 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Sat-

No matter how ya slice it, identity politics does not take on relations of power; at least, not in any fundamental way. A gay, black, handicapped woman who is CEO of Goldman Sachs is, 1st and foremost, the CEO of GS, and if she wants to remain CEO, she'll pursue a career of hurting millions of people economically. Or perhaps become a war criminal (Condi Rice).

Autonomous-

1st, pls post only once every 24 hrs (an informal rule we have). 2nd, I'm sorry u chose to take the indignant/defensive route, altho I was abs. sure u wd. This will ensure that you cannot grasp what Capo or I or the others were trying to tell u. You hafta realize that most of us have major experience on both sides of the 'digital divide', historically speaking. Today's youth--you?--have experience only on one side, the most recent one. So it cd be that talking 2u is like trying to describe the color blue to someone who is congenitally blind.

But, I'll give it one little shot. Miracles do occasionally occur, after all. Get a copy of Keats' poems (hardcover, amigo, NOT online) and have a look at "On First Looking Into Chapman's Homer" (approximate title). Read it 5x. Then formulate a multiple choice, online test that seeks to extract the spiritual meaning of the poem. Best of luck.

mb

3:19 PM  
Blogger Bill Rogers said...

Dr. Berman and Fellow WAFers-

I think Herman Melville captured the essence of the unique American hustling culture best in his book The Confidence Man. It is a difficult read for even the most literate of us, but once one does some prerequisite homework and plumbs the depths with several careful readings, one will see that Melville had the scam figured out.

Melville took a lot of abuse from religious groups throughout his career, and not long after he wrote Moby-Dick, the word on the street was that he was insane. He was certainly broke, in debt, and miserable. By the time he wrote CM, he already had his post-it note on his mirror and wrote the book as his final 'fuck you' to the dolts.

It wasn't until the 1920's before scholars decided Moby-Dick was an important book. I think it was the 1950's before some were able to decipher the Confidence Man and say the same thing.

-Cheers

5:49 PM  
Anonymous Jesse said...

Oh Lord, please show mercy to use because we are wicked and lost:

Houston Captives: People Held In 'Prison Room' For Up To 10 Years, Police Say

Police uncovered what they call a "prison room" in Texas where at least four victims were being held against their will.

Officers responded to the Houston home at 8:30 a.m. after a tip that four men, ages 79, 54, 74 and about 65 were being held captive in the garage, KTRK reports. When they arrived, the front door was nailed shut. Inside they found a trash-ridden room with no beds. The four victims were inside.

One of the victims says he's been there for about 10 years, according to CNN. Three of the men couldn't walk and were transported to a nearby hospital.

Three women and a suspect live in the house, and one person was taken into custody. It wasn't immediately clear whether that person would face charges.

Details about the victims and their captivity were still hazy at press time. Police told some news sources that the men may have been homeless, and were lured to the house with beer and cigarettes in exchange for their Social Securty and Veteran's Administration checks, FOX 4 reports.

One of the victims reportedly said he'd been staying in the house for six months, according to KTRK. He reportedly had no desire to leave, but said his living conditions were not good.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/19/elderly-people-held-captive-houston-garage_n_3624424.html

6:05 PM  
Anonymous Bad Idea du Jour said...

More from Hacker! re: black/white race relations in the US

After predicting (accurately) that black men will be harassed and imprisoned at increasing rates in the future AH writes: "And having concluded that official agencies can no longer guarantee protection, more and more citizens of both races will purchase guns. Women's purses, executives' attaché cases, and automobiles' glove compartments will hold such weapons, as will the drawers of bedside tables in countless homes around the country. As more people own guns, the use of firearms will inevitably increase, accompanied by the plea of "self-defense." Jurors and juries will find themselves under growing pressure to render verdicts of "justifiable homicide," particularly in cases where white householders take the lives of black intruders."

This is from <1970.

My to-do list:
1) Read more Hacker
2) GTFO

O&D!

6:28 PM  
Anonymous Shane w said...

http://news.yahoo.com/faa-warns-public-against-shooting-guns-drones-183617273.html?.tsrc=attmp
only in America...

6:51 PM  
Anonymous Dr. Hackenbush said...

Tim Lukeman, Jeff T- The article linked to, though, describes Reagan as a strange void, a shell, a front-man; how can you work up so much ire for that? If it's true, better direct your energies to the schemers and operators behind the Fisher King's throne... such as, if you believe Russ Baker (whowhatwhy.com), "Poppy" Bush...

Also: have you read his letters? :0)

8:34 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Autonomous-

Jesus, what a sad guy u.r., eh?
I ask you to post once every 24 hrs, and instead I get a flood of abuse. Your abuse of me won't solve your own problem, amigo, even if u were rt; and it's no small problem. As for Chris 'attacking' me: I *did* write him abt it, and he wrote back, explicitly, that he wasn't referring to me and that he considered what I was doing down here very important work. You might also check out the blurb he wrote for WAF (back cover). The truth is that we have a high opinion of each other--something u apparently can't understand.

And altho you'll never figure this out, u blew it. I did say it wd be a miracle if you chose a different path, but of course, miracles don't happen all that much. I didn't expect u to take me up on my suggestion, after all. Reminds me of the Robt Frost poem on the subject (something you have no idea of, to be sure). You cd have entered a different world, gotten yourself on the rd to a real education. Even more important, you cd have started to look inward, instead of making me or the outside world the problem. But no, you decided to stay self-righteous and get abusive. So now, yr off the blog, and will continue living in an indignant fog. What a triumph for you! I guess you showed *me*, eh?

We do have a saying on this blog: Bad Is Good. The more stupidity, the more block-headedness, the more self-destruction, the faster things will devolve. I cd say, "Yr only 1 person," but the truth is--u.r. the vast majority, at least in the US. O&D, my friend--yr the cutting edge of it. More power 2u.

Bad Idea-

GTFO = Good Idea!

mb

8:53 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Speaking of poetry, here's a short one from a recent issue of the New Yorker by someone named Robt Watson, wh/I thought was kinda neat. It's called "The Greeter":

He's not the Reaper, but he does stop by
To say, to everything that's ever lived, "Nice try."

10:49 PM  
Anonymous Michael in Oceania said...

MB;

This latest troll attack reminds me of the kind of irrationality I dealt with before I left the U.S. in 1999. Like you, I was close to being a nervous wreck by the time I left, and for similar reasons. What I couldn't deal with anymore, was the large and ever-increasing list of topics that you simply were not allowed to be honest about. Accidentally blurting out the truth in casual conversation got me into many altercations which almost became violent, and actually got me fired from one job. I simply wasn't nimble enough to suss out the latest "forbidden truth" du jour, and thus I kept stepping on conversational land mines.

What happened to Chris Hedges at Rockford College was a frequent occurrence with me. I think that, if I had stayed in America, especially after 9/11, I would probably be dead. I'm not exaggerating! I just wonder how long it will be before some unbalanced nutcase decides to bump Chris off. I truly don't think the "deep state" will have to do anything with him - just wait for a psycho to cork off!

I don't know how many here have read A. Scott Berg's outstanding biography of Charles Lindbergh, but I recommend it. When Lindbergh lost his son, the collective psychosis of America was such that he had to flee to Europe, under cover of darkness, to protect his family. I think the psychological trauma Lindbergh suffered knocked some hinges loose. Think of his flirtation with the Nazi's, or his sowing of wild oats all over Europe in his old age (he had more illegitimate children than "legal" offspring!).

I think the lesson there, is don't put off emigrating if that is what you plan to do. You might end up a basket case if you wait too long!

11:34 PM  
Anonymous AS said...

This is completely random, but I just saw a film you might enjoy. It's called Only God Forgives, and in it, a family of trashy and corrupt Westerners (okay, that was redundant) are brutally killed/decapitated by a Thai Angel of Vengeance figure. You might want to check it out some time.

11:49 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

AS-

Sounds pretty grim!

Michael-

Actually, I wasn't particularly nervous at the end of my time in the US; but I was very tired and frustrated, and very much alone. It felt like DeLillo's "toxic event," like a cloud, was hanging over the place, and the cloud was death. I didn't quite foresee the slide into totalitarianism, but I was quite aware, like yrself, that I had no one to talk to, and it wasn't a great feeling.

As far as our latest troll attack (it's more of a buffoon attack, really): I feel genuinely sorry for the poor shmuck, hiding from his own sadness and depression by raging at me. He may go another 20 yrs b4 he becomes aware of what he's repressing--a terrible fate, when u think abt it; the waste of a life. Of course, 1 person doesn't make much difference; the awful thing abt it is how representative he is. This guy really is America in microcosm; what more proof do we need that we are going down the drain?

It's interesting that Chris, in recent interviews, is striking a sadder and more pessimistic note. This is because despite his deep wish to believe that we can turn things around, he's too smart to *really* believe that. Anyone w/half a brain can see the handwriting on the wall. As he wrote in a recent article, and I did at the end of WAF, Moby-Dick is smashing the ship to pieces now. To quote Walter Cronkite, You Are There.

mb

12:50 AM  
Anonymous Joe doesn't know said...

http://news.yahoo.com/ny-woman-accused-posing-marathon-202353374.html

how very American. Hustling or bust!!

1:27 AM  
Blogger pinkpearl said...

I've had instructors (not coincidentally, younger ones) who taught classes *as if* they were online courses, but they just happened to be in the room. They'd race through a bunch of presentation slides as their "lecture", then hand out some notes on the topic, expecting the students to use the rest of the class time to read through them while the instructor did his/her own work on a laptop. No class discussion, no attempt to engage with students, and a rather p1ssy attitude about questions.

So the virus spreads both ways.

1:34 AM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Mr. Lukeman and Dr. B

Mr. Lukeman you said, "Digital tech offers impressive speed & comprehensiveness - I've made good use of it myself. But it also shortens attention spans, increases continual distractions, trains us to need something new & different every second, makes us impatient & frustrated, isolates us while creating the illusion of connection, etc."

Why is it that I being on the autism spectrum can see all of this so clearly but most people do not? Why am I not affected by this digital tech or am I affected and I don't realize it?

Even if I am affected by both my autism and this digital technology how am I able to see the writing on the wall? How do I differ from the rest?

Why as every day passes I feel like I am going to puke even more at all of this? Why do I feel this extreme antipathy towards the business culture and all of its crap? Every time I hear the word "professional" I think to myself what a joke. I feel myself tense up and wanting to have a meltdown :D

By the nature of my disorder I shouldn't even perceive any of this but yet I do, why?

3:04 AM  
Blogger Zosima said...

“a clear reference to the naïve Eastern lawyer played by Jimmy Stewart in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence, a character who, as an advocate of the “progress” that will prove to be tragic for all, upsets the balance of the still-wild Western community.”

I thought I would challenge the Salon film reviewer’s interpretation of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. I see that movie as an important allegory for America. The first thing to notice is that she didn’t even spell the name of the movie correctly, and Salon didn’t catch it either. The town in the film is hardly in balance, it’s being terrorized by the hired thugs of plutocratic ranching interests led by Valance (Lee Marvin). Stewart’s character represents more than just “progress”, he wants to bring civil society, literacy and education to the town, whereas Valance destroys the offices of the town’s newspaper and nearly beats the publisher to death. Stewart is trying to get the town to create a sense of commonweal, not unlike MB’s notion of what Jimmy Carter was trying to do. So we have a face off between thug culture and a culture centered around the common good. Which side will win? It doesn’t look good for civil society, and we must wait to see which side the pivotal character (John Wayne) in the film will support. And that’s where I see a great lesson for what has gone wrong with America, in real life it looks like Americans made the wrong choice after Jimmy Carter. Wayne’s character represents the American people, or a reluctant conservative everyman faced with a Kantian moral choice. I think John Ford is making the case that if the common American conservative does not side with civil society, we are doomed to being ruled by thugs, and unfortunately that is exactly what has happened. This film was selected for preservation by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". I believe it’s a vitally important film, and urge everyone to see it.

A side note: Has anyone noticed the rise of that the nihilistically irresponsible conservative in America parallels the decline of the western genre in film and TV? Westerns dominated for decades, declined in the 1970’s and vanished by the time Reagan entered office. The example of men with guns acting morally for the common good was no longer there. A good research topic for a budding cultural historian, perhaps?

Sorry for the length.

3:37 AM  
Anonymous Susan W. said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

I recently read The Water Thief by Nicholas Lamar Soutter and would like to recommend it to the blog readers. It's a novel written in the style of Farenheit 451 about the absolute control of corporations and the voluntary enslavement of the middle class. "Futures" are owned by the corps and people work to increase their balance or work off debt, much like we do with credit cards or student loans. It also explores the question of do you revolt or do you find a way to make a meaningful life in the midst of a dystopian world.

I don't know if Autonomous is still reading the blog or not but (if you are) please watch the movie Disconnect with Jason Bateman. It's 3 interconnected stories about the dehumanizing effects and the level of cruelty we can inflict on each other through technology. It's also a snapshot of contemporary America --- disconnected, self-absorbed, self-promoting, amoral, indifferent.

I've never gotten the impression from reading Chris Hedges that he thought America could be turned around. When I read Losing Moses on the Freeway, I felt I understood his moral stance much better. While I don't know him and never expect to (and certainly don't think I in any way speak for him) my impression is that his writing is more about the imperative to speak the truth and live the truth, not simply as an American, but as a human being. Though his writings are primarily about America, the themes are universal and his latest article on Truthdig (about the novel Moby Dick) could easily be written about globalization. I admire him and am glad the two of you have become friends -- you're both doing valuable work.

9:15 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Susan-

Just to set the record st.: I think that in the beginning, and certainly with OWS, Chris thought that there could be a movement for effective resistance/change in the US. As time went on, his focus began to change: morality for its own sake (after all, OWS was a colossal flop). Now, his tone is clearly pessimistic, and I think he sees his commitment as 'existential' (as he himself recently put it in an interview). His Pequod article was not about globalization, but about America; very similar to what I wrote abt Moby-Dick towards the end of WAF, in fact. And truth be told, we've been friends for a long time (at least via e-mail).

Just ordered Water Thief; thanx for the ref. Disconnect looks really gd as well.

Pink-

Excellent example of destructive effects of online 'learning'. I've sat thru Power Pt presentations that were all whiz-bang flash, in wh/the technology was used to disguise the fact that the lecture had no content. Unfortunately, the audience typically thought it did.

Joe-

Apparently there was a large credit-card scam set in motion on 9/12/2001, in which hustlers were trying to use the credit card no's of the dead. It's not as tho there are any limits to our hustling, or our degradation.

Cube-

Once again: we're not a therapy group here. I think there are probably a lot of blogs out there that wd be interested in helping you, and I think these wd be the appropriate place for yr questions. Thank u for yr understanding.

mb

9:56 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Heads Rammed in Rumps Dept.:

http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/19/justice/new-jersey-plane-abuse/index.html?hpt=hp_t2

Smooth move!

10:14 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

Dr Berman;

Thanks for the inside on Bernie Sanders. When I first heard about the concentration of military stuff, I knew he was one of them. Seems like I never ever read about it altho I'm sure Naylor must have mentioned it in his writings that I always read?

Here is an article about the vaunted CIA.
http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/07/19/panama-nails-a-cia-torture-capo/

A quote from the article: "let’s just enjoy watching one of the world’s minnows (Panama - for arresting a CIA agent named Lady) shit in the eye of the planet’s only 800-pound crocodile."

WOOOOOOOOAH. Things are coming apart at the seams.

O &D!


(One reason that Occupy was a flop, is due to the most common topic on this blog. Dolts! The 85% are plain stupid. (It is, by the way, IMO, 15% of the pop, not .01% that are either filthy rich, racists or sycophantic for their own sake.)

10:31 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

shep-

I dunno if Tom ever published his views on Bernie. I was a gd friend of Tom's, so I knew. Also, he sent me the draft of an essay on the sorry state (in 2 senses) of VT, wh/excoriated Bernie; but I think Tom died b4 he got around to publishing it, I can't remember.

As far as dolts, I can tell u that conservatives hardly have a monopoly on doltage in the US. I remember marching against the invasion of Iraq in 2003: many of the protesters' signs were misspelled. I remember being in LA a few yrs ago for a screening of 'Heist'; one woman wanted me to pose for a foto while flashing the V sign (I declined); another said we hafta extend American middle-class life to everyone on the planet (wh/wd in fact require the resources of 6 Earths to carry out). The 'left', whatever it consists of these days, is as stupid as the right. Americans are just plain dumb, that's the bald truth of it, and the stats on this bear me out. (The stats also don't distinguish between rt and left.) OWS produced nothing comparable to the SDS' Port Huron Statement (1962), as I mentioned b4. My guess is they simply lacked the brainpower to do it. How long b4 'progressives' own up to all this, and throw in the towel? Well, they'd probably get so depressed they'd kill themselves, I suppose. But all over the US, at electrical installations, u.c. signs that say: Danger: High Voltage. Where are the (desperately needed) signs that say: Danger: High Doltage?

Anyway, let the charade continue...

mb

11:14 AM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

"Once again: we're not a therapy group here. I think there are probably a lot of blogs out there that wd be interested in helping you, and I think these wd be the appropriate place for yr questions. Thank u for yr understanding."

Sorry Dr. B. I wasn't seeking therapy from this group. What I was seeking was a dialogue but coming from a different perspective.

If you don't want me to bring up my disability on this group again I will not. I will respect you and the group but I believe my intent is to contribute but from my perspective. I was using a form of lateral thinking.

My thinking was maybe you could use the information I could give you and transform it into useful data to help prove your points. I do disagree with your thinking on this but I will respect it.

Is everything good between all of us though?

11:44 AM  
Anonymous LW said...

Just finished WAF, and wanted to say how much I loved it. The law review editor in me noticed a few spacing issues but that aside . . . (kidding of course).

I enjoyed the entire book, but the chapter on the South is absolutely brilliant (my family has its roots in Southeast Missouri and all share a passion for Civil War history - and they will be receiving copies of WAF shortly) and the last chapter rang true on so many levels. I'm sending copies to several family members in hopes of spreading the message around. Where is that old southern grandmother now? Indeed. Wonderful job MB, just lovely.

12:16 PM  
Anonymous J S RANK said...

@ MB ... My bumper sticker is simple. It reads " YOU IDIOTS ! ".

I was the first OWS 'protestor' in my upscale, mid town community of conceited rumpholes. I had the sense to dress incognito: trench coat, wig, false beard, hat, sunglasses. I called myself Corporal Thing, but said little.
My sign was 'TAX the RICH' on one side, and the website for the original Wall Street OWS.
I would march, silently, through the local farmer's market.
In the beginning, the crowd reactions were about 50/50 . Supporters would give thumbs up, high fives, or vocally as "Right on !" or other affirmatives.
The negative commenters, practically to a person, would repeat, " Huh, Tax the rich ! " as though those around them couldn't read.
For myself, this was as much a social experiment and street theater as genuine protest.

Soon enough in the following weeks, others joined, and crowd and media attention was generated.
Then, it began to devolve. Dissaffected young people that were apathetic to everything except legalizing marijuana, 'kumbaya' liberals with their expert opinions, scores of homeless with all of their various problems gathered; bringing with them their individual gripes.
Eventually agent provocateurs arrived.
I just faded out of the scene, recognizing the futlity.

It's not merely that Americans are just plain dumb ...it's that they're just plain dumb and think they're smart.

12:42 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Cube-

Yeah, we're square, but I'm aware that every message u send is abt yr own personal situation. No need to keep repeating it: we get it, I can assure you. Two things, in any case: 1. That's not what we're doing here. We talk abt the politics of a dying empire, and I'd much prefer it if u cd stick to that. 2. Just a side note that might help u: one aspect of depression is that depressives narrow the world down to themselves: Oh woe is me. This is not to downplay the gravity of their, or your, situation, but I have a suspicion that if u cd get into the issues of the larger world, and leave your own personal issues aside just a bit, yr life might improve quite a lot (to yr surprise). But #2 is just a suggestion. #1 is--rules of the game. Thanks!

LW-

Many thanks. I'm glad u didn't read ch. 4 and decide I was pro-slavery, as so many American readers (= morons, aka jackasses, conceited rumpholes, and total douche bags) apparently did. Do be sure to have a look, however, at James Oakes' recent bk, "Freedom National," which is something of a supplement to or modification of my argument, as I mentioned b4 on this blog. But thanks again for yr kind feedback, and join me in praying that I may finally find a publisher for the pb edn. So far, no one wants it (no money in it, and what else is there in life? What irony, given the pt of the bk.).

JS-

Yes, yr last line says it all, as does the phrase "conceited rumpholes"--wd also make for a gd bumper sticker and post-it for all Wafers. What we have is 315 million people with their heads buried in their rear ends, while proclaiming the brilliance of their vision! Repeat after me:

THERE IS NO HOPE

Good night and good luck (Edw R. Murrow)

mb

1:13 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and Wafers,

Dr. Hackenbush-

I appreciate the response and your plea to look behind the Fisher King, so to speak. It's pretty well documented that officials who worked with Ronald Reagan were startled by how little the man knew about crucial issues before him; this, coming from folks who liked and respected him. He was certainly a "front-man" who was well suited to lead the gathering conservative crusade coming out of the upheavals of the 1960s and 1970s. Though Reagan was no intellectual, he drew on the ideas of a small but influential group of thinkers known as "neoconservatives." We all know who those characters are, right? They were largely running the show for RR, just as they were for GHWB/Poppy, BC (economic policies), and my personal favorite... GWB.

What's remarkable is how effective Reagan was at reading and setting American's mood and cultural zeitgeist during the 1980s: i.e., free-market capitalism, greed, deregulation, traditional values and individualism. All of these things were sold to the American people without a whole lot of arm twisting (see Gil Troy, "Morning in America: How Ronald Reagan Invented the 1980s"). The problem is, as MB and Louis Hartz pointed out, is that America is a "fragment" society. It really does worship the things that RR and the neocons stood for and wanted. This also explains the near sainthood status of RR. Americans worship RR because Americans worship extreme individualism, dog-eat-dog competition, and hustling to the max. Unfortunately, this is what he, America, and most Americans are all about.

I have not read "Reagan: A Life in Letters." I did read, however, "The Reagan Diaries," edited by Douglas Brinkley (not a bad historian IMO). Sure, Reagan was not a complete moron as his diaries attest to. But, I hafta admit that one of my favorite things to do is "rip" on how stupid he was and the doltish things he did and said! My piggybacking on Tim's comment is an example of this. It probably raises my blood pressure and I ought to stop, but I just can't help myself.

Regarding Russ Baker's books and website, I have know idea... I tend to shy away from books and arguments that, I feel, move too closely into the conspiratorial range. Too much Hofstadter in me I suppose...

Jeff

2:35 PM  
Blogger Horatio Nelson said...

perhaps what cube is getting at with the self-centered focus is exactly how to live with "no hope". other than Buddhism, or just toasting some marshmallows over the flames of Rome's burning, I don't see his/her cries as anything other than how can one reach a stable and determined perspective on living in a society that is destined (thankfully, such as it is) to sink. how does one find the will to continue? do you take up a position that you will live -in spite- of all of this insanity.

I know that your humility prevents you from positioning yourself as some kind of guru, but the simple fact that you recognize what's going on is such a relief to some of us, who have waffled our entire lives between the duality of believing that "either everyone else in this damned country is insane, or I am." your constant revelations are naturally going to attract many who need a support group for coping with this, since most are not in a position to run away (some of have barely skills to survive in THIS environment, much less a healthy one).

so I wouldn't castigate cube too much. finding another like-soul to recognize what's going on is so rare, that it is hard to realize that these like-souls can't help, and can only commiserate.

by the way, while catching up on your lectures, I was well chuffed that you got something out of the Rudofsky recommendation. suggesting books is always fraught with the worry that, after reading it, the person you recommended it to will think somehow less of you than before. your quoting in at the B.C. lecture in April did give rise to a question on my part: if one reads extensively in preparation for a trip to do a little cultural anthropology, doesn't that affect what one tends to see when they finally get there? it's different than simply going and seeing what IS there, isn't it?

2:39 PM  
Anonymous joe hohos said...

Dr. B,

Just read a book, Austerity by Mark Blyth, which I recommend to all WAFer's. It explains exactly how and why the crash of '08 happened and why austerity is a bad idea. However, the book also states why you can't have a gold standard in a democracy and makes the case as to why Bretton Woods had to be repealed.

All,

I am still getting my degree and, unfortunately, am going to school online. I had the privilege of being able to go to a few classes, and I greatly preferred that over online school. I feel like I learned more from class and would get more out of it if I was able to attend in person.

3:27 PM  
Anonymous ellen said...

Glenn Greenwald does a good round-up on the circular logic being employed by TPTB with regard to press freedom, privacy and legal rights issues. There is this gem that surfaced: according to Brian Hauck, a deputy assistant attorney general,
'Americans targeted overseas do have rights, but.....they could not be enforced in court either before or after the Americans were killed.'

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jul/20/press-freedoms-manning-risen

shep,

Apparently Panama has caved and returned the convicted CIA agent, unharmed, to the bosom of Uncle Sam, even though Italy requested his extradition.(but unfortunately has no extradition treaty with Panama)

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-23382876

3:52 PM  
Anonymous Shane W said...

Cube--
imagine that you live in a culture where you aren't labeled, set aside, and pathologized. Instead of being labeled as "autistic", and therby set apart, you're simply considered eccentric, yet fully a part of society. In this culture, being on the autistic spectrum is irrelevant, indeed, you yourself may not even know you fall on the spectrum, and the autistic label is not one you have to wear like an albatross around your neck, defining everything about you. The US is good for pathologizing everything under the sun in the DSM, and then giving people a label by which to define themselves as damaged, different, and apart from. Break outside the US DSM mold, see yourself as you might be seen in some other culture.
Speaking of DSM, how ironic that someone (Joe Doesn't Know?) was discussing how everyone in the US exhibits a personality disorder, for example, Borderline, then we have someone on the blog exemplify that (Autonomous), thereby proving the point...
MB, Capo, extracting my head from my ass has been a process for me, but maybe I am proof that miracles do happen. Unlike some on here who have been certain of the nonsense of the American way of life, I've certainly embraced technology (including social media), progressive politics, identity politics, AA, and a whole host of other false Gods our culture promotes over the years, but I did finally come to realize the futility and even dangerousness of it, back out of it, and have grown out of it. I consider myself fortunate. So, maybe I've grown into becoming a WAFer...
I've ran into a wall concerning my NMI project, which is to get involved in the local Spanish immigrant community. One legal services group wanted me to help people prepare for the citizenship test, which I wasn't interested in for obvious reasons. Numerous attempts to contact the local Hispanic association and an immigrant services group have gone unanswered. I work as a teller in a credit union, and contact with Spanish-speaking members is the highlight of my day--they're the most gracious, kind, thoughtful people I deal with, and I look forward to seeing them. There's only so much I can get to know them at work, though. I'm naturally shy and have to push myself to be outgoing. I'm not really sure what my place could be in the local immigrant community, and how to bridge the cultural, class, and language barrier, but I DO know that I enjoy being around real, warm, empathetic, kind, self-assured people, something most Americans definitely are not. It certainly fills a void for me. Any ideas would be appreciated...

3:53 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

"Good night and good luck (Edw R. Murrow)"

I like the signoff.

Possible alternatives, available for use under the Fair Use doctrine.

So long, and thanks for all the fish. (Douglas Adams)

Goodnight and good news. (Ted Baxter [Ted Knight], WJM-TV)



4:16 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jeff-

Just keep in mind that ketchup is a vegetable and that trees cause pollution, and you'll be all rt.

Horatio-

There was no castigation involved. It's just that the blog hasta stay on track. It's simply not a blog abt anyone's personal problems. Hope u understand that.

Shane-

Yes, I do have one. Print up a T-shirt:
Front: Waferismo
Back: Que mas?
(Don't forget the upside-down question mark in front of Que, and the accent over the e in Que and the a in mas.)

mb

5:35 PM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

Jeff T,

I'd just add that while Reagan was in large part an outwardly affable empty suit, every so often he'd forget himself & let something really nasty & viciously mean-spirited slip out. He was an actor, after all, and knew how to present himself in public. Whether this was completely calculated on his part, or just something that came naturally & instinctively to him after a lifetime in Hollywood, I can't say. But someone doesn't get that far & make that much money by being entirely vacuous & unthinking, even if it's his innate inclination. He was fleeing & refuting an alcoholic & emotionally absent father, so there has to be a fair amount of rage beneath the comforting avuncular illusion he preferred. To quote the title of an old Pearls Before Swine album, "... beautiful lies you could live in." Which also sums up the American worldview & most desperate desire of the empty heart.

Here's a question: Why do so many Americans actually crave having emotionally damaged men in positions of power? (I think the answer is all too clear.)

5:59 PM  

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