November 23, 2013

Counting Blessings Goes to Second Edition; Crowds Are out of Control

OK, Waferinos: you've been asking about it for a long time, so here it is, with a brand new publisher (One Spirit Press, the one that did "Spinning Straw Into Gold") and a brand new front cover (Cliffs of Moher, off the coast of Doolin, which will be the site of the International Wafer Summit Conference of 1-5 June 2015):

http://www.amazon.com/Counting-Blessings-Morris-Berman/dp/189307529X/ref=sr_1_9?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1385256725&sr=1-9&keywords=morris+berman

Remember to get one for the kitchen, one for the bathroom. And as for the ideal Xmas gift, don' get me started...

mb

200 Comments:

Anonymous Capo REgime said...

Its out you say! Its here! O.K. I will get it and get some for friends and family!

Out theme for the recent Chassidic new year--not bothering with Douchebags! Focus on the beauty of life, and the beauties of Riga, Brooklyn and yes Condessa and Roma back home. All the Tsuris of dealing with schmucks like muted. Not worth it and well you won;t change them. In my business life idiots often retain me to advise them. They don't listen disaster or unpleasantness ensues and I enjoy smiling and charging them more. But beyond circumstances where it may be possible to profit from an idiot do avoid treating with them.

Interestingly my business and wafer interests are in fact intersecting. The decline of the U.S. will not follow a neat slow descent as many here note. Rather, we shall see a sort of fractal shift for as idiocy piles upon idiocy increasing fragility ensues. and this coupled with complexity is a heady mix. Capo predicts (you saw it here first) total U.S. chaos by 2015 end of year (many technical economic reasons for this). In fact, the collapse of the U.S. is well underway--Obamacare, it takes longer to fix an escalator on a D.C. subway than constract the empire state building in 1920's, dollar lost 1/4 of value against RMB in 5 years, 50 million on foodstamps, 2/3 overweight or obsese NSA spying, really what exactly do americans have to be "proud" about? A friend of mine says that for some parts of the country the apocalypse has already taken place and its spreading and will soon envelop the whole joint. Tend to agree and there a re reams of data that support this notion.

8:59 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Capo-

Suggest u get 2 dozen copies, jus' hand 'em out on street corners. As for beauty, I think tomorrow I may go to the Met. But I've also been thinking that some things are so horrible, they oddly become beautiful. Muted is like that. He's not merely an asshole; he's the dregs of humanity, a complete piece of trash. I wish I cd barf on him, really; soak him with puke from head to foot. It wd improve his looks, and make me feel good at the same time. Who cd ask for more? The guy is like a hit-and-run driver on this blog, an interesting American combo of a moron and a coward. And yet, in his awfulness, there is also a weird type of beauty there; I can't explain it. It's somewhat dialectical: he's so disgusting that he becomes strangely attractive. Anyway, I hope he'll be back so that I can vomit upon him verbally, if not literally, and in general treat him like dreck. There's also a horrible beauty in a country that can throw up such detritus, detritus that actually thinks it's clever and smart. If Muted wd ever rent Madison Square Garden to do a one-man show (just give his opinions on various things for an hour or two), I'm telling u honestly, I wd pay Big Dollar to see him in action. Perhaps he cd team up w/Kim and Sarah--a night to remember. It wd be YouTube's finest hour.

Here's another example of horrible beauty. I was in an airport bkstore on this trip, perhaps in Atlanta, and there was this book for sale by Daniel Pink entitled "To Sell Is Human." The flap copy said that when you get rt down to it, everyone in the US is in "sales". But this, for Mr. Pink, is a beautiful thing, not a horrible one. The bk is a kind of hustler's guide. Mr. Pink declared that we spend our entire lives trying to persuade others to "buy" something. So, like Dale Carnegie of yrs past, he is going to show you how to do it more effectively. Author bio says that his bks have sold more than 1 million copies in the US alone, and have been translated into 33 languages. The guy is like Muted: trash masquerading as quality. I confess I didn't buy the bk, but my hat is off to him. He's rt: all Americans are selling something, in one way or another, and this is what our lives are abt. I salute him. I love him. I love Muted. They, and America, are beautiful.

O&D,
mb

10:19 PM  
Anonymous Bingo said...

Capo,

The Suez Moment expands:

http://rt.com/news/iran-historic-nuclear-deal-201/


MB,

If this is any comfort to you, Obama’s popularity now ranks lower than Toronto’s drunken, crack-smoking mayor Rob Ford’s. As an added benefit, since Ford is a drunken maniac, it is highly likely that he has already barfed on Ovomit’s Guccis:

http://rt.com/usa/toronto-mayor-approval-obama-212/

12:56 AM  
Anonymous Golf Pro said...

WAFerism in 3 minutes:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0rUtSLZTlc

7:52 AM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Ellen

You said "Human beings generally are not rational creatures." I understand what you're saying in theory and I understand it rationally but I am having a difficult time digesting this. The best way to understand what I perceive and what tension I have is this. Imagine a person does not know the Earth is round. This was during the time before ancient Greece. All of a sudden he is whisked into space by aliens and he sees the planet as spherical like.

The problem is you're dealing with a person in which the converse is more true that your statement. Even though I do have emotions and can feel them my rational side is more dominant. I think this was the case with Socrates as well.

If what you say is true then it explains a lot to me and I have been able to have experiences and gather empirical data that may prove your right. Socrates tried to sell rationality to ancient Athens but he was made to drink hemlock for it. This has been so enlightening for me though and it would explain why people react the way they do when I ask questions. A woman in my group told me the same thing. She told me that most people do not follow logic as a primary means of understanding a situation. Most people are more aware of the social impact and their emotional response to things.

Ellen, it is no wonder the USA is collapsing. The narrative is logically fallacious and people have an extreme emotional attachment to it. They can't rationally examine their own standards and values at all.

Jonathan Haidtt says the same thing. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Haidt

He has what is called the moral foundation theory. I have been reading it.

Dr. B

How was your flight over there and your flight back? You didn't have any problems with security did you? By the way, you mentioned Atlanta, I live in Atlanta. It is another version of Hollywood. It is all about hustling and the people are fake and phony. Let me put it to you this way, Atlanta does not even need snow. Atlanta has so many flakes already meaning those who say they're going to do something but they don't. They see something better and they drop you. This has happened to my SO and I in more ways than we can count. In Atlanta, we have millions of "muted" and worse.

11:45 AM  
Anonymous Mike Alan said...

I posted this on an earlier thread Dr. B. before I realized you had posted new threads. Sorry about that. Here it is again on the latest thread.

Your latest presentations make for enjoyable listening. I like how you mention the folks in your 911 presentation and how clueless they were to understanding why someone might attack us.

Querent,

On the topic of science fiction, The Machine Stops by E. M. Forster was quite prophetic. In it people rarely interact personally and spend most of their time staring at screens. They spend all of their time in their cube sharing ideas and knowledge through an internet type of system and have no interest in nature or travel. The Machine provides everything and is worshiped by the vast majority of people. (iPhones anyone?) However, a few people prefer to actually experience real life and these folks are known as rebels and troublemakers. (He even predicted Wafers!) Not a bad bit of science fiction prognostication considering the story was first published in 1909. Here's a link to a better and fuller plot summary: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Machine_Stops

The Marching Morons by Cyril M. Kornbluth is another favorite of mine. It provided the seeds for Mike Judge's Idiocracy movie although there are a few intelligent folks in the future of Marching Morons. They must have been those who followed the NMI path.

Philip K. Dick is another favorite of mine. Many of his stories will provide enjoyable reading for Wafers.

1:15 PM  
Blogger Listener said...

After two months of cataloging the local library finally fulfilled my request and allowed me to read Spinning Straw Into Gold. They also fulfilled my request of Wandering God, though in that case it was only interlibrary loan. But at least I only had to wait about two weeks for that. Wandering God really gives me a lot to think about, as someone who has become absolutely obsessed with Counter Tradition #1 over the last two years.

I won't be making any more requests at the library as I'll be moving soon. I've taken a job as an English teacher on the outskirts of Moscow. This will be my second time living outside of the US. Several years ago I taught Social Studies at a school in El Salvador. That was a frustrating and disappointing experience in many ways, though it had little to do with the country. Reading Why America Failed a couple years ago, also from the library, was a major factor in pushing me to try to go outside the US again, even with all my concerns.

Since I graduated from college I have looked but have been totally unable to find any place where I feel I could live and devote my energies. Every institution that would be of interest to me seems to be either corrupt or in a state of collapse.

This has resulted in my withdrawal and living a sort of NMI, but this has been far from successful and far from a fulfilling life. After briefly visiting a commune in Oregon, and finding that unsatisfactory I decided it was time to try teaching again.

Wherever I am I look forward to reading your Japan book as well as earlier works I have not yet read.

2:01 PM  
Anonymous Pauli said...

A good book: “Arguing for Our Lives: A User's Guide to Constructive Dialog” by Professor Robert Jensen

A good article on the book:
Professor Robert Jensen on "Arguing for Our Lives: A User's Guide to Constructive Dialog"

19 May 2013 12:17 By Laura Byerley

Question: You say that our culture has attacked the idea of critical thinking. Why is this – and how can we create a culture in which people aspire to be critically thinking intellectuals?

Answer: A number of factors undermine critical thinking. In the public schools, the obsession with standardized testing is an obvious problem. More generally, we are the most propagandized society in history, targeted by the massive advertising, marketing and public-relations industries. And we live in a hyper-mediated, entertainment-saturated culture that has made it easier to tune out than to take responsibility for thinking critically.

3:37 PM  
Anonymous Pauli said...

Sorry, I forgot to include the link to the article:

http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/16464-professor-robert-jensen-on-arguing-for-our-lives-a-users-guide-to-constructive-dialog

3:38 PM  
Anonymous Dr. Hackenbush said...

Sorry the Baltic Beauty blew you off Dr. Berman... Your loss is our gain though as we enjoy your NY Diary, very amusing all around. You kind of glossed over how the conversation started though -- which many storytellers do, it's one of my pet peeves. Was there a "meet cute," like in the movies? j/k... (ps. I tried to chat up some cute girls at an art store that was having an evening "Sip n Shop" [they ply you with wine and discounted art supplies]-- I finally mustered the courage to try and break the ice as they walked near me, saying "You should try some of these brownies, they're incredible" or something; the plain one [she wasn't terrible, just slightly like Chelsea Clinton] at least smiled at me, but the really cute one hunched into some shell of protection and scooted by avoiding eye contact.)

***
RE "blowback," I agree with it as far it goes, but I think there's just more to it. I've heard some very serious students of terrorism (Webster Tarpley, David Ray Griffin, there are many) who connect our own Intel spooks to Al Quaeda. Not claiming an "inside job," just saying -- we clearly were connected to those guys during the 80s, supporting them against the Soviet Union, and it's very plausible that the CIA maintained its ties with, and had assets within, Al Quaeda, to the present day. We were openly supporting them in Syria! It's quite convenient how Al Quaeda establishes a "franchise" in whatever "hot spot" our foreign policy analysts are interested in due to Pipeline Politics and Resource Extraction needs... and so we can justify sending in the Drones or whatever.

Megan- For links that are not "clickable", just highlight them with the mouse, right-click and select "open link in new tab" -- at least in Firefox you can do that, but probably IE too.

7:05 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

Bingo said: MB,

If this is any comfort to you, Obama’s popularity now ranks lower than Toronto’s drunken, crack-smoking mayor Rob Ford’s.

Actually, this should not be a comfort but should be rather distressing for followers of wafer theory which states that the American people and their leaders are one and the same. Our leaders are doing all the things the American people supposedly approve of; they're drone bombing other countries and they're allowing hustling to reach the most extreme levels in our history esp among our richest hustlers. Based on this incredibly successful record the approval ratings of our leaders should be at least 90%. But they're not, congressional approval is 9%. 9%!!! Charles Manson and Adolf Hitler could beat that. These numbers might make sense if Jimmy Carter was president and the congress was made up of JC types, but our current leaders are making a run at being the greatest hustlers in our history, yet they they don’t enjoy the immensely popularity we would expect given this stellar record. Frankly, I’m boggled, what gives? Dr. B, please explain this strange development before I lose faith in wafer theory.

7:23 PM  
Anonymous Constable Jones said...

It sure was good to see CNN airing a documentary about Miley Cyrus last night. What used to be filler on VH1 is now featured on CNN as serious material deserving of our national attention. The movie Idiocracy is now reality and I love it.

8:59 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Zos-

I don't think those ratings are related to the fact that the govt is staffed with hustlers. For one thing, 62% of Americans approve of drone killings. But the low data are associated with congressional gridlock (e.g. recent attempt to shut down the govt), and (correct) perception of Obama as an incompetent buffoon re: Obamacare. Also note that Waferism cannot explain everything. For example, I haven't yet worked out nature of rings of Saturn according to Wafer theory.

Hack-

My opening line was, "How do you feel abt vigorous and prolonged sexual congress?" That melted her heart straightaway.

Listener-

Vsivo choroshevo!

mb

10:03 AM  
Anonymous JWO said...

Good interview here of Henry Giroux by Moyers:

http://billmoyers.com/segment/henry-giroux-on-zombie-politics/

"It's easier to imagine the death of the planet than imagine the death of capitalism..."

10:21 AM  
Anonymous Golf Pro said...

Dr. B,

The rings hover around Saturn because they're too dumb to do anything else.

10:36 AM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

Zosima said:

"...followers of wafer theory which states that the American people and their leaders are one and the same."

Perhaps you'll forgive me for resurrecting something I'm fairly certain has been cited in these pages (electrons? pixels?) before: a bit from George Carlin on American politics, American politicians, and the people who vote for them.

Though your point needs no particular reinforcement, representing as it does a fundamental principle of the universe, perhaps you or others here might enjoy--one more time--the perspective of the master.

http://youtu.be/yOCLf7YrbMI

10:49 AM  
Blogger Himanshu Tiwari said...

Dr. Berman/Swami Pastrami and Wafers,

I have questions about Thanksgiving day. What do we really celebrate on that day? When we say Happy thanksgiving do American people know what they are wishing each other about? Are we celebrating genocide of American Indian people? Or is it about harvest? I've heard stories that its is thanking the Natives of the east coast who threw a feast for the first European settlers (Puritans)..is that the true story?

Dr. Berman,

Being from India I have to say I like your pseudonym "Swami Pastrami". A saffron robe, a bead necklace, vermilion on forehead and you will be all set :)

Thank You,
Himanshu

1:10 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Wafers,

I ran across another of America’s dumb ideas the other day in an e-mail from a website called ‘Democracy Journal’. It contained the following:

“Last Friday, the Commerce Department released its most recent quarterly GDP report. Watching and analyzing these reports has become a ritual of today's news cycle. Are we heading up or down, quickly or slowly? We were told that the economy grew at a rate of 2.8 percent last quarter, enough above projections to create some positive headlines. But have statistics ever seemed more disconnected from the reality they're supposed to reflect?”

“Since the 1940s, GDP has been the predominant way we measure growth. But critics noted flaws from the beginning. Cigarette sales, a polluting factory, ballooning medical costs -- all are counted as "growth." Meanwhile, unpaid labor, like caring for an ill family member, is left unmeasured.”

So America is obsessed with ‘how much’ and oblivious to ‘of what’! It’s a real American disease, endemic in a hustling society. It’s what Marx called ‘commodity fetish’ – a mental disease. It’s “the love of money” which the apostle Paul warned is “the root of all kinds of evil” – a spiritual disease. All in spite of Einstein’s warning that “not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.”

When Phaedrus, in “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”, tried teaching about quality, he was ostracized and driven insane. But the French religious philosopher, René Guénon (1886-1951), titled his excoriating attack on modern civilization “The Reign of Quantity”.

So here’s another of America’s dumbest ideas, GDP as the measure of the country’s wellbeing. A land that knows not Quality but is obsessed with Quantity. All that matters is “More” – now that would fit on a coin!

We’ve got dumb ideas all over the place; they’re our real Gross Domestic Product, and Gross they are indeed.

David Rosen

1:12 PM  
Anonymous ellen said...

Cube,
I don't experientially know that the earth is round, I have been told that and shown images of it but I experience the world as quite flat beneath my feet, as does everybody who can walk, including you. The world being round is still a belief in an abstraction that is unknowable in any concrete sense to most of us. I personally give up belief each night that the sun will rise the next morning, as otherwise I have severe debilitating sleep disturbances. Am I going to let anyone argue me back into belief? Hell, no. I like the quality of life-saving and sanity-saving kip that I now get and my belief or lack of it has not one iota of effect on what the sun decides to do.

Dr Hack,
'Al Quaeda' means database in Arabic and was the name given by the western alphabet agencies to the lists they kept of useful foreign rebels against the established authorities in their particular areas. It has long been accepted that there is no unified group known as 'Al Quaeda'--that is a convenient catch-all fiction, a time-saving sound-bite term for many disparate malcontents. In the way of these things, any rag-tag group of rebels has begun labelling themselves 'Al Quaeda' and flying the flag as it gets them notice, airtime and new recruits--rebels learn from their opponents' propaganda methods too, in time.
I still think that the Gladio blueprint has been repurposed for these modern times, with control of global resources (as ever) the goal, not defence of an occupied Europe.

http://21stcenturywire.com/2013/05/25/britains-mi5-connection-to-woolwich-slasher-michael-adebolajo/

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2334476/Woolwich-murder-MI6-connection-Younger-brother-Michael-Adebolajo-paid-thousands-spy-Middle-East.html

For that reason alone I appreciate Mr Putin and his very wily Mr Lavrov providing some much needed counter-muscle to the prevailing western orthodox narrative. Its getting old and needs a new plot-twist or two.

Speaking of twisted plots, here's another, The Isle, from Kim Ki Duk who always does a good line in truly horrible beauty. He's reviled in Korea and makes no real money either:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lH0qPk9fRlA

3:10 PM  
Blogger GregJS said...

Dr. B and Wafers,
I agree that the NYC Wafer gathering really shows the growing global power and influence of this movement. And we did a great job keeping our cool and acting totally natural even with the AOC restaurant hopping with CIA, FBI, and NSA agents keeping close tabs on us. Wonder what they made of us all ordering merguez sausage sandwiches?

But seriously, if Waferism hasn’t yet caught on in a big way, it keeps getting plainer for me why this might be so. I’ve thought our culture was insane – literally – since my teens. So having viewed our culture in these terms for 30+ years, I’d say I’m fairly well primed for the message that our culture is O&D. But every time I go a bit deeper into this Wafer point of view – listening to/watching Dr. B’s talks, meeting up close and in person, starting in on DAA (OK, I’m starting to get it now, all the talk on this blog of America being in a “dark ages” wasn’t just rhetoric or poetic-historical allusion – we have may literally (there’s that word again) have entered into a genuine, for-real dark age) – I keep doing these double-takes. The idea that we need to find a way to improve/course-correct/influence our culture has always been my unquestioned default assumption. I’ve never considered any other possibility. So I can only imagine what Waferic ideas must sound like for the vast majority of people who are NOT starting from “We’re totally insane” but rather from anything from “Our culture is not too bad” to “It’s OK” to “It’s great – the best in the world.” The cognitive dissonance must be far too enormous to overcome. At least, primed as I’ve been, I don’t resist this point of view – but I do still find it shocking.

But also very liberating. It’s good to be freed of the whole question of “How do we turn this Whole Big Mother around?” and that mode of thinking. The NMI option, which already sounded good in TAC, sounds even more sensible from the point of view that we’ve already gone over the cliff’s edge. Not that the question of how to lay the foundations for a new society/culture is any simpler; but it just feels better to have a more realistic orientation to things. So I’ll do whatever tiny bit I can to help lay what seems like a decent foundation; but no more thinking that this society has a future.

So thanks again Dr. B and y’alls.

3:26 PM  
Anonymous Politically Incorrect said...

Speaking of counting your blessings...

Some news from the front:

http://news.yahoo.com/knockout-game-suspect-charged-hate-crime-100039465--abc-news-topstories.html


It looks like things are gearing up for another holiday season.

Happy Thanksgiving

3:50 PM  
Anonymous Kevin said...

"It is now easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism" is usually attributed to Marxist philosopher Fredric Jameson, though the quote has also become associated with Slavoj Zizek.

Also, a recent interview with Robert Jensen mostly focusing on his 'arguing' books can be found here: http://c-realmpodcast.podomatic.com/entry/2013-10-30T10_14_43-07_00

5:32 PM  
Anonymous Kevin said...

Oops - should also have included this link: Richard Heinberg's excellent summary of "I-Don't Have-A-Clue" Krugman's bizarre realization that "maybe we're in a permanent depression (because Larry Summers tells me so...)":http://www.postcarbon.org/blog-post/1961268-krugman-goes-splat

6:43 PM  
Anonymous Dr. Hackenbush said...

"My opening line was, "How do you feel abt vigorous and prolonged sexual congress?" That melted her heart straightaway."

hahahaha... Kewl. I'm gonna try that on the next chiquita I see.

On second thought, that might be misconstrued. It may take the savor faire of the Ber Man to pull that one off. "No, it's okay -- see, I wrote this book of sensitive poetry. Here, have a copy -- baby."

Listener- What happened in El Salvador??? And the Oregon commune? Details!

Mike Alan- Thanks for the book recs, those sound good! "The Marching Morons," I like that..

8:09 PM  
Anonymous Megan said...

Dr. Hack,

Thanks a lot for the clicking info. I would never have figured that out on my own!

Dovidel,

I actually have "The Reign of Quantity" on my nightstand! Rene Guenon is definitely one of my favorite modern thinkers. While some people find his outlook overly pessimistic and grim, I have rather the opposite reaction. Kind of like, "We're in the darkest part of the Kali Yuga, folks: don't sweat the small stuff!"

As for American Education, I can only say that my time as a teacher was by far the most disillusioning period of my life. I believe in God, but why he felt the need to put me through that is something utterly inscrutable to me. I'm trying my best to forgive him, of course, but getting rid of all the resentment is an ongoing process!

11:06 PM  
Anonymous joe hohos said...

Himanshu,

Found this posted by an acquaintance of mine and it explains exactly what you were asking. Very interesting, and remember, most Americans are not taught this in school, either.
http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2012/11/23/what-really-happened-first-thanksgiving-wampanoag-side-tale-and-whats-done-today-145807

11:17 PM  
Anonymous Dominic Toretto said...

Mr.B, just watched your 9/11 talk. It's refreshing you admit you have no idea if that was an inside job, tho you don't belive it was. Just curious abt why you belive that.

5:57 AM  
Anonymous Troutbum said...

Dr. Mb and fellow WAFers:

I call your attention to a fellow traveler, Henry Giroux who was interviewed by Bill Moyers recently.

Quoting Dr. Giroux directly : ".....the problem is the crisis, while we recognize in many ways is associated increasingly with the economic system, what we haven't gotten yet is that it should be accompanied by a crisis of ideas, that the stories that are being told about democracy are really about the swindle of fulfillment.

The swindle of fulfillment in that what the reigning elite in all of their diversity now tell the American people if not the rest of the world is that democracy is an excess. It doesn't really matter anymore, that we don't need social provisions, we don't need the welfare state, that the survival of the fittest is all that matters, that in fact society should mimic those values in ways that suggest a new narrative.

I mean you have a consolidation of power that is so overwhelming, not just in its ability to control resources and drive the economy and redistribute wealth upward, but basically to provide the most fraudulent definition of what a democracy should be.

I mean, the notion that profit making is the essence of democracy, the notion that economics is divorced from ethics, the notion that the only obligation of citizenship is consumerism, the notion that the welfare state is a pathology, that any form of dependency basically is disreputable and needs to be attacked, I mean, this is a vicious set of assumptions.

BILL MOYERS: Are we close to equating democracy with capitalism?

HENRY GIROUX: Oh, I mean, I think that's the biggest lie of all actually. The biggest lie of all is that capitalism is democracy. We have no way of understanding democracy outside of the market, just as we have no understanding of how to understand freedom outside of market values."

It's an incredible interview by Bill Moyers and it all here:
http://billmoyers.com/segment/henry-giroux-on-zombie-politics/


7:08 AM  
Blogger Publius said...

Prof. Berman:
I'm enjoying listening to you at work today. You are a great public speake!
Just listened to your interview with Thom Hartmann. He's a good bloke. Somewhat optimistic.

I'm feeling a lot better and more enthusiastic about the opportunity to either really emigrate, or become an NMI.

What can you say to the problem of the spouse? That is, even a somewhat open, thoughtful spouse might be loathe to give up the "perks" of this materialistic society.

My own wife is much more into the idea of emigration than opting out. I guess there is the idea that in the new country, one can continue to benefit from consumerism, while escaping some of the evils of the USA.

Anyway, thanks for giving me hope. Yes, the author of a book named Why America Failed gives me hope. WAFer irony.

12:54 PM  
Anonymous joe hohos said...

Dr. B, WAFer's,

The musical style may not be everyone's cup of tea, but the lyrics are too waferesque not to post. It's a shame Kanye and Jay-Z are household names, but not Immortal Technique. Then again, it just does that much more to prove your theory, Dr. B.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-VY0xflOkw

P.S. The little box does say pls enter the text. I wonder if it's one of those little tests that find out how much attention you are paying to the instructions. I also tried to just enter the numbers and that doesn't work.

1:38 PM  
Anonymous teri schooley said...

David,
Yes, we love to count things. But if it makes you feel any better, all the numbers used to express that counting are just made up. (Ya want numbers? We got numbers! How about 42? Now there's a number; the answer to the universe and everything in it.)
Actually, the number 42 as the answer to everything is from "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy", which is a wonderful series of books, later made into a radio program from the UK writer Douglas Adams. It was made into a movie - it's a science fiction comedy and worth watching, if you enjoy movies in the Monty Python style.

To explain the number 42:
"In the first novel and radio series, a group of hyper-intelligent pan-dimensional beings demand to learn the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything from the supercomputer, Deep Thought, specially built for this purpose. It takes Deep Thought 7½ million years to compute and check the answer, which turns out to be 42. Deep Thought points out that the answer seems meaningless because the beings who instructed it never actually knew what the Question was." - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phrases_from_The_Hitchhiker's_Guide_to_the_Galaxy

The opening bit from the movie is a riff on the 5th book in the series, where the dolphins are running a Save the Humans campaign, but give up in the end, deciding to leave earth altogether. ("Good-bye, and thanks for all the fish!") Funny stuff - here's the 3 minute opening, with the dolphins:

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

Now getting back to the GDP, one might note that back in April of this year, some really smart people, who are In Charge of Official Numbers and Other Assorted Bullshit, decided the GDP was not up to snuff. So they simply changed the way the GDP is figured. Economists are now going back and changing the entire US history of GDP numbers from the Great Depression on. This short excerpt from an article of April this year explains it:

"Changes in GDP Measurement Create Growth Out of Thin Air."
"The art of measuring the size of the economy just got a new box of crayons.
"The Bureau of Economic Analysis announced last week it would be changing the guidelines with which it calculates Gross Domestic Product [...]
"The new changes, which will include definitional changes to expand what is counted in GDP, are expected to add 3 percent to the GDP report, while not changing the actual output of the economy. [...]"
http://dailycaller.com/2013/04/30/changes-in-gdp-measurement-create-growth-out-of-thin-air/#ixzz2lmKBGZsJ

And there you go.
I think you can safely ignore any numbers published from "official sources" in any major media outlet - the numbers are made up to start with and changed (you call it "changed", we call it "adjusted") willy-nilly to "appease the markets".
Being a bookkeeper, I like numbers. What we have now is not related in any way to arithmetic.
Don't know if that makes you feel better or not.
-Teri

4:14 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

Golf Pro said...
Dr. B,
The rings hover around Saturn because they're too dumb to do anything else.

That’s right, the Cassini probe proved that waferology is the best explanation for what’s going on with Saturn’s rings. They’ve been in decline since about 1960 when they stopped reading good books, and a rapid increase in the number of misspelled signs in the 1990’s led to the conclusion that they will completely collapse in 30-40 years. Dr B. is just showing his usual modesty by not accepting credit for this discovery.

BTW is it really so far afield to expect waferology to be able to explain current American public opinion when it can supposedly explain public opinion during the civil war and the Carter administration? Beyond the recent fluctuations over gridlock and Obamacare, polls have showed that congressional approval has been abysmally low for many years. Plus on the general question on the the direction of the country/right track wrong track, the polls have been overwhelmingly negative for most of the century. Based on that, it seems that the vast majority of Americans agree with wafers that their country is going to hell in a handbasket.

4:38 AM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

I recently rediscovered a website that I had lost track of in the digital desert that I think other WAFers might find worth a look.

Entitled "Arts and Letters Daily," it is compiled by the Chronicle of Higher Education and I think it offers a wonderful aggregation of articles on a wide range of topics. I hope you might agree.

From today's daily, a link to an article on Aldous Huxley and our modern dystopia.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/nov/22/aldous-huxley-prophet-dystopia-cs-lewis.


7:55 AM  
OpenID parkyourtuchus said...

MB,

Any good deli experiences lately?

Feeling like a schlemiel and a schlmazel here as the local emporium is no longer carrying Cel-Ray ... nothing good left to wash down the corned beef on rye sandwiches. Time to organize a sit-down strike if only to better promote the candidacy of Lorenzo (the Magnificent) Riggins.

Tuchus

9:16 AM  
Blogger bowtiejack said...


Wafer Theory is apparently only the start.

http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2013/11/civilization-collapse-in-climate.html

When our forebears were killing off the great herds of buffalo, there was an interesting aspect to it. The buffalo hunters, with their great long-range buffalo guns, would pick one off which, dead, would simply flop over on its side. Did the other buffalo stampede? No.

If anything, they simply glanced at the dead one ("What's the matter with Larry?", "Dunno.") and went on contentedly grazing.

Which seems to be an apt metaphor for the awareness of our own fellow citizens.

11:38 AM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Wafers,

Unfortunately, a time when books like Dr. Berman’s superb America trilogy are really needed is a time when most people will shun them. Our world system is in sharp decline, and excellent books don’t become bestsellers.

In his post about ‘la longue durée’, Dr. Berman said: “It is our particular (mis)fortune to be living through the beginning of the end, the disintegration of capitalism as a world system. … What is on deck, so to speak, is largely unknown, and to have to hover over the unknown for a long time is, to put it colloquially, a bit of a drag.” (…like having brilliant books marginalized and ignored.)

In her magisterial “The Great Tradition in English Literature from Shakespeare to Shaw” (1953), Annette T. Rubinstein also understood the importance of the place on the arc of the world system you happen to be living in when she said the following:

“When we today think of a progressive artist it is almost impossible for us not, at the same time, to think of him as an ‘opposition’ artist – as one who, with all his greatness, cannot speak in the tones of easy unself-conscious authority which a great writer, serving as the voice of his time and happily representing a comparatively unquestioned tradition, can use. It was Shakespeare’s great good fortune – and ours – that brought him to birth at the brief period in which he could at one and the same time express his own deepest convictions and the central feeling of his age, analytically rather than argumentatively, to an audience which largely shared and embodied both.”

Wow, what a contrast! And it goes beyond excellent writers outsold by Ann Coulter and Thomas Friedman; you really have to feel sorry for sensitive and intelligent young people as they stare bewildered into a murky and dismal future.

David Rosen

4:49 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Ah, Wafers and Waferettes! We have so much to be thankful for. In particular, instead of being douche bags (=99.9% of American population), we are Wafers and Waferettes. Tomorrow, we can watch Wal-Mart shoppers trample each other to death to save $29 on a DVD player.

My VA-NY venture wound up horribly, with me being stuck in a Super 8 Motel because fog prevented airplanes from leaving or entering Roanoke Airport. Man, was that a lot of fun, sitting in a sterile hotel rm watching reruns of "Friends" and ads for discounts on DVD players.

In the Atlanta airport today, a young and attractive airport worker (I think--we were on an escalator) started to tell me how I was going to have a fabulous holiday and eat tons of food. Was this really a come on? If so, I rather blew it, telling her we were celebrating the near-extermination of an entire indigenous people. Upshot: no sex for the berm. (Latvia, here I come.)

Anyway, I finally got to a computer here in Mex City to find no less than 19 Wafmessages!

Hack: Sad to say, no bk of mine ever got me laid. I'd probably have better luck starting a conversation abt the rings of Saturn.

Anyway, y'all have a great holiday tomorrow. I'll be on a bus back home, finally, finally.

mb

10:50 PM  
Anonymous Bingo said...

My Fellow Americans (a.k.a. “folks”):

This dude's gonna look for ya if you don't sign up for Obamacare by Jan 1st:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=46rkQiXs6Eg


MB,

I maintain my faith in the unavoidable certainty that Waferism is destined to establish itself as GUTEM (Grant Unifying Theory of Everything and More). Here at WAFer Laboratories we have nearly completed reconciling Relativity with Quantum Mechanics, after which we shall redouble our focus on the Theory of MoGEAPS (Measurement of Global Economic Activity by Pastrami Sandwiches).


Publius,

Yes, consumerism is omnipresent these days. There are flashy malls and Walmart-like superstores in every country, with the difference that in most other places (except the US) you can still find many, many vibrant farmers markets and small family-ran shops stocked with exotic items you won’t find anywhere else. When I was living in the US I had a hard time finding even an independent coffeehouse, leave along a supermarket. Let me tell you, I sure don’t miss hellhole America.

3:18 AM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...

MB,

Hope you made it back home to Mexico safely and are in good spirits. Not to be inappropriate but given that we are human and adding to that the fact of being a wafer puts one in a weimar frame of mind sometimes one cannot despite advancing years fight the urge to have a drink and get laid. MB from a few of your posts its clear you have goils, goils on your mind. Go out to acapulco or something have some fun and come back with more and more insights which many of us vale and benefit from.

8:54 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Capo-

Are u trying to embroil me with women, as Newton once wrote to John Locke? They keep approaching me, what can I do, muchacho? Offer them turkey, perhaps.

mb

9:32 AM  
Anonymous ellen said...

Bowtie,

That was a good article cited by Digby, the complete version in the NYT was even better:

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/11/10/learning-how-to-die-in-the-anthropocene/?_r=0

Cube,
I haven't read Jonathan Haidt but did do a bit of cursory investigation and must admit that he has no appeal for me. Whether it was his enthusiasm for positive psychology or his being a Professor of Ethics at a NY business school that prejudiced me most I'm not sure, but either way I won't be reading his book.
Chris Hedges did a emotional hatchet job on the book that I found entertaining though and Haidt responds in the comments. I like Hedges primarily because he understands squaddies and their complicated griefs when so few others do and really nails it when he says: 'Haidt mistakes the myth of war for war.'

http://www.truthdig.com/arts_culture/item/the_righteous_road_to_ruin_20120628

Finally, just to prove Dovidel's point re Shakespeare, for NMI's everywhere who might be mourning the loss of the myth, 'Sweet are the uses of adversity':

'Now, my co-mates and brothers in exile,
Hath not old custom made this life more sweet
Than that of painted pomp? Are not these woods
More free from peril than the envious court?
Here feel we but the penalty of Adam,
The seasons' difference, as the icy fang
And churlish chiding of the winter's wind,
Which, when it bites and blows upon my body,
Even till I shrink with cold, I smile and say
'This is no flattery: these are counsellors
That feelingly persuade me what I am.'
Sweet are the uses of adversity,
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head;
And this our life exempt from public haunt
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones and good in every thing.
I would not change it.'

11:32 AM  
Anonymous sanctuary! said...

MB, there's something intriguing abt the image of u sitting listlessly in a Roanoke Super 8 letting re-runs of "Friends" (what, no wrestling matches?) wash over u. As u well know, that, or something quite like it, is a cultural experience that is truly representative of the way that a large # of Americans live now. Maybe u were a bit more archaelogist than u expected to be on this trip.

(Full immersion wld've involved also grabbing a Big Mac, a 6-pk of Bud, & a fistful of lotto tix, and scamming somebody out of a defense contract, a paycheck, or his life savings. But we can't have everything.)

Since u made it back to civilization safely & happily, I kid a little. Here's raising a glass of fruit punch to u & saying Salud!

1:26 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Glad you are safely ensconced in Mexico. As for women I told you at our luncheon that I visit SE Asia every summer and it's not to see Buddhist temples (hint, hint).

4:42 PM  
Anonymous Banana Head said...

Hi! I just wanted to remark on "To Sell Is Human". I think the book is an example of an idea that has always been at the core of America's consciousness: happiness and meaning come from taking advantage of other people. It's the psychology of winning that permeates corporate capitalism.

Contrast that to the Tao Te Ching, which says:
"If you rejoice in victory, then you delight in killing, and if you delight in killing, you cannot fulfill yourself."

It seems to me that hustling - taking advantage of other people - seamlessly blends in with permanent war and sadism. It also seems to seamlessly blend in with intolerance and fundamentalism, which is basically asserting your own *ideas* at someone else's expense. It's all part of the same thing which binds all the elements of American character together: "I win, you lose."

4:51 PM  
Blogger Courtney Meyers said...

Cubeangel,

You have a great point about the incredible emotional attachment Americans have to their unconscious ideology and their political leaders. They speak of people like Obama and Romney as if they were living saints, kind of like how Medieval Catholics spoke of Catholic saints. They cannot bear to hear anyone criticize their Chosen Leaders without erupting into a mindless rage. It seems to me that such a mindset naturally pushes a country towards fascism. If we are not critical of our politicians, it allows them to take advantage of us, and of people outside our borders as well.

What really interests me is that even though Americans are attached to their politicians as if they were saints, they have no real attachment to their families or "friends". Their devotion to their ideals is only abstract, and in the crudest and most emotional form (the attachment to the President or the person who ran against him); in actuality, they live without compassion for anyone.

4:57 PM  
Blogger pinkpearl said...

A co-worker actually said this to me today:

"After watching TV and talking on the phone, I don't have time to look at art."

This, despite her claims of wanting to be a graphic designer. She said it with no embarrassment whatsoever. I think it's an embarrassing thing for anyone to say.

Morris, it made me think of all the times you've said that in the US you didn't have anyone to talk to.

7:18 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

My Romney supporting brother and I just had a huge Thanksgiving phone discussion about immigration. He and most of white red state America hate the fact that more immigrants are coming into our already crowded country. I tried to convince him that we needed to ignore ethnicity and unite behind our common culture of hustling, but he wasn’t having any of it. It seems to be a real cultural divide, almost a clash of civilizations, that looks like it’s going to play out for a few decades. In the long run it won’t matter as white people eventually die off and are replaced by immigrants from virtually every part of the world, except surprisingly, white Europe. But it’s going to take a while for a group that is in the majority now to be reduced to an insignificant minority, and it’s hard to believe it will go smoothly without eventual violence. A very interesting discussion considering Thanksgiving is a story about uninvited immigrants just showing up and eventually pushing aside the established traditional tribal culture.

7:23 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dear Waferinos-

I'm safely back home now, using my own computer and toilet seat. What joy.

Banana-

The psychology of hustling, "To Sell Is Human," Dale Carnegie, and Oprah, are finally the reason why Americans are hurting, angry, and depressed. No matter how chicly you dress it up, if yr taking advantage of other people--The American Way--yr going to finally be unhappy.

Dan-

I know, those temples are so sexy!

Happy genocidal murder of the native population anniversary to all!

mb

8:15 PM  
Anonymous From Imbecileville said...

Here is the latest from the great cultural historian, Jackson Lears, in the current issue of the Nation. Typically brimming with roundhouses at and insights into contemporary American society in equal measure this is scholarly criticism of the first rank.

http://www.thenation.com/article/177016/get-happy?page=full

Enjoy!

9:58 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

BTW, one of my heroes died 11 days ago: Doris Lessing, a fabulous writer. Try "Briefing for a Descent into Hell," for starters.

mb

11:12 PM  
Anonymous Bananda Head said...

MB,

Do you think Americans know that taking advantage of others is making them unhappy? Might it be a sort of addiction? Or do you think they keep doing what they do, over and over, not realizing it's making them unhappy? I feel you're going to say it's the latter.

11:25 PM  
Anonymous Megan said...

Courtney,

No kidding about peoples' attachment to their chosen leaders! However, I don't think it's so much a matter of ideology as it is of narcissism. In other words, even the most illiterate American takes his or her ideological positions VERY seriously--not because they care about ideas, mind you, but because they are so enamored of themselves as to preclude any ironic distance from their own opinions. Indeed, I think that most of the raving and venom you see on blogs and "comments" sections these days, can be attributed to the drastic spike in narcissism over the past twenty years. Ideology is a factor in this, of course, but I think ego and low empathy are the real culprits.

(Note: anyone who doesn't agree with me on this must have a single digit IQ, as well as serious douchebag tendencies!)

11:31 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

The essence of America:

http://money.cnn.com/2013/11/29/pf/target-black-friday/index.html?hpt=hp_t1

5:19 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Fabulous evening. My cousin used the F-bomb in front of my 89 year old mother,spilled his wine all over my girlfriend's dress, then tried to steal my doggie bag!
Took a ride after dinner and could not believe it- the parking lots in front of Macy's, Sears, and Target were completely full-truly a nation of morons. What a wretched impression it leaves on children. Yes, I understand the first Thanksgiving basically coincides with a campaign of genocide, but at least it provides or should provide an opportunity for families to spend time together. Now families across the country eat fast in order to take advantage of the evening's sales. Was there ever a nation more committed to killing the emotional life as this one?

8:29 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

The heart and soul of the USA:

http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/11/29/21669088-violence-flares-as-shoppers-slug-it-out-for-the-best-black-friday-deals?lite

10:46 AM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

MB,

I found this link posted on Ian Welsh's site a few days ago. Im only up to the third lecture so far but theyve been very interesting.

http://www.cbc.ca/ideas/massey-archives/1985/11/07/massey-lectures-1985-prisons-we-choose-to-live-inside/

12:46 PM  
Anonymous Jasco said...

Bananda Head, you stated this "Do you think Americans know that taking advantage of others is making them unhappy? Might it be a sort of addiction? Or do you think they keep doing what they do, over and over, not realizing it's making them unhappy?"

Well, the law of karma is real.
They are now reaping as they sow, so they are cannibalizing their nation and people as they did to other peoples and nations. One becomes what one thinks and does!

1:07 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jasco-

In this case, karma by History, not by God. There is no saving this nation, wh/is intent on suicide.

Dan-

Ian was a student of mine, many yrs ago. I think I assigned that little bk by Doris for the class.

mb

1:43 PM  
Blogger Listener said...

Dr. Hackenbush

While I don't at all regret going to El Salvador and consider it a worthwhile experience on the whole, it was very frustrating. After I graduated from college, not really knowing what I wanted to do, a BA in history not being particularly valuable in the job search, and after having enjoyed a 3 week class in Germany and Italy my senior year I decided to try getting work abroad. I originally did an interview for an english teaching company in Japan, which ended up being the worst interview I've ever done. Eventually after a half hearted attempt to get into grad school I found and applied to a social studies job. The interview in this case went much better being limited to only two questions 'Do you want the job?' and 'Do you have any questions about the job?'

However the interviewer, the owner/president of the school also made some odd comment about the country being protected from a natural disaster because of it being named after the savior, but I overlooked it at the time. I then lost contact with the school but eventually found out that the man who interviewed me had severe neuralgia. Later he had a surgery, but apparently the surgeon had no previous experience and the patient went into a coma, which he did not awake from, now basically a vegetable, for several months.

When I arrived in country a teacher from the US picked me up from the airport and on the drive to the school basically told me that the school would make all kinds of promises to me and they would keep none of them, and he was right.

The principal of the school was an exceptionally annoying man, who by chance had a younger brother in my 11th grade class, who I have a feeling reported on my new and inexperienced attempts at teaching.

There was no curriculum. The school was always exceptionally loud with virtually no discipline.

The biggest problem was that I received virtually no help or guidance at all, the administration regularly made and broke promises, yet the principal especially felt free to criticize me regularly, yet at the same time offered little in the way of help.

My roommate was a more experienced teacher so he could deal with it better, but he told me he couldn't imagine would it be like as a new teacher at this school, because when he first started teaching he received a lot of help and guidance.

There's a lot more I could say about it, but I know it wasn't just me as another more experienced teacher left the school at about the same time, and I don't believe the principal continued in that position the following year.

Not much to say about the commune. I was only there for a couple of days. It was interesting and some things were appealing about it, but I felt I would find greater satisfaction living abroad. A few months ago I took the CELTA course, and with my previous experience I feel better prepared for this attempt living and working outside of the US.

2:36 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

What does this tell u abt yr fellow countrymen?:

http://poy.time.com/2013/11/25/face-off-who-should-be-times-person-of-the-year/slide/poll-results/

4:02 PM  
Anonymous Banana Head said...

2.4% of responders chose Edward Snowden. To me, that says that at least half of those have awoken to the reality of what America is and where it is going.

4:20 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Banana-

More than 10x that # voted for Miley Cyrus' tongue. I suspect *that* is where America is going.

mb

4:39 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

More on the Where America is Going Dept.:

"Fights and a shooting mar US holiday shopping
At least three people injured and a Walmart store is evacuated as post-Thanksgiving shopping rush sparks violence."

Like Reagan said: greed is good.

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/americas/2013/11/fights-shooting-mar-us-holiday-shopping-2013112920223965344.html

5:17 PM  
Anonymous Dr. Hackenbush said...

Listener- I guess people are crazy everywhere.

ellen wrote- "'Al Quaeda' means database in Arabic and was the name given by the western alphabet agencies to the lists they kept of useful foreign rebels against the established authorities in their particular areas."

I've heard that; also that the list included lots of the baddest of the bad prisoners that they sprung from prisons specifically in return that they would help with terror missions and that sort of stuff. I also get the impression that once those guys get used in one area, it's not like they're gonna go back to civilian life and be fishmongers or something; they move on to another "hot spot" like Syria, they don't just quit. They're like career mercenaries used by our alphabet agencies to 1)destabilize regimes we don't like and 2)be bogeyman "terrorists" to justify more "defense" spending and our involvements overseas. We run both sides of these operations in other words. That's why I don't think it's just strictly "blowback"; yes our actions create blowback/terrorists, but that's actually "a feature, not a bug"; it's by design. And I think many of these Al Quaeda types are on the payroll (maybe with plausible deniability, at several degrees removed) of our alphabet agencies. Our alphabet agencies are apparently (and probably have been for centuries) involved in the poppy/opium trade in Afghanistan; and that is used to fund all this stuff. It's a stupid web of deceit that's probably not worth trying to untangle, but then again, what else to do as world systems re-calibrate.

Megan- You're welcome. Re: your disillusioning time as a teacher, that sounds fascinating. I wonder about teachers a lot, ever since I read Gatto and he exposed the long strange history of secret agendas behind compulsory education, and the use of teachers as unwitting dupes in the whole thing. I wish I could hear more about that, although I suppose I have read Gatto's own account of *his* disillusionment, so maybe I have a general idea already.

6:09 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Megan,

I think we’re actually in a near freefall *toward* Kali Yuga.

I’ve always been attracted to scholars with religious backgrounds and interests, like René Guénon or Ivan Illich who clearly see modern secular ideologies as corrupted forms of religion – as do John Gray, Robert Bellah, and Morris Berman.

So, you’re another wounded (ex)-teacher. I’ve always been attracted to the fields of teaching and health care, but have never liked working at either in the US where they’ve been completely corrupted and perverted. I shake your hand in heartfelt comradeship and sympathy.

Teri,

I was born in February of 1942, so 42 was always my ‘magic number’. It was probably the darkest moment of WW II when the allies were hanging on by their fingernails on all fronts. There never were very many of us ‘42ers since birthrates were low and death rates high, so we’re spread thin over the Earth. It’s always been my impression that we seem to be a mini-generation between the 20’s-30’s ‘lost generation’ and the 50’s ‘boomers’, and we usually have to view things as outsiders. Hence, Nietzsche’s ‘perspectival’ nature of truth seems natural to us.

So, I was delighted to discover that 42 is the meaning of everything. There’s been a lot of speculation about how Douglas Adams came up with that number, but I would have chosen it in a heartbeat.

I don’t find the latest news about our phony GDP numbers disturbing at all. Back in the 60’s I picked up a paperback of sociological essays about alienation which contained a chapter called “Of happiness and despair we have no measure.” All I can remember is the title, but in our present context that’s enough. So, it doesn’t bother me that the US GDP is ‘adjusted’ (fake) or made up out of thin air because the shmucks are measuring the wrong thing anyway.

David Rosen

6:19 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Hi Dan Henry. Thanks for the link to "Prisons we choose to live inside." I first heard that while sitting in a Saskatchewan wheat field in a grain truck back in 1985. It was just me and the night and the stars and Doris Lessing every evening that week. I guess CBC's Ideas favours the Massey Lectures on its site, as another great programme of theirs, "The Crusades, through Arab Eyes" is no longer in their audio archive. I blame Stephen Harper.

@Listener

That's an interesting account of your time as an ESL teacher. I tried getting jobs doing that in Europe and Asia, but wasn't hired. I had a couple of interviews, one for a job in Tours, France, that would have seen me living in penury, and another in Orleans, France, that I'm relieved I didn't get.

The boss was, how you say, "une hache de bataille." If one doesn't like our hidden class system in North America, the overt class system in Europe will have you reaching for your pitchfork. This patronne asked me about my work history, and upon finding that I had worked as a farmer, labourer, welder, miner, oilfield roughneck and millwork-carpenter, derided my attempt to move out of the working class. At one point she turned to her boy Friday (who had gone for coffee or something and had just returned), and said "Maintenant Il fait les meubles!" as if someone who made furniture was akin to Quasimodo leaping about her office.

"A la lanterne! Your mother is a hamster and your father smells of elderberries, and I urinate on your chausseurs, you outrageous French person, you!"

(..well, I didn't actually say that, but boy, I sure wanted to...)

6:27 PM  
Anonymous ellen said...

Dr Hack said: 'We run both sides of these operations in other words'

Yes, although how much control is exercised and retained and for how long is a very murky area. Britain at least has a very long history of this, something that I was first alerted to during the 70's Irish 'Troubles' when it became obvious that at least half of the 'acts of terror' were either directly instigated by or encouraged by state actors of various kinds. This is still not really widely acknowledged and is unlikely to be, although plenty of those state actors have since admitted collusion.

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

The above unit was disbanded as irreparably tainted (no prosecutions however, the bereaved relatives of the murdered are still agitating for justice after 40 years) but similar units then followed, the DET, 14 Int. and now SRR.

There are thought to be 100-200 disgruntled Brits (along with assorted other nationalities) currently fighting as rebels against Assad in Syria. Some of those moved on from Libya and other hot spots so I would agree that going back to being a fishmonger or unemployed and probably now unemployable doesn't have quite the same cachet as being a 'freedom fighter'

From some of the investigations I've read, the entire 'war on drugs' was in fact a drug-running operation set up and facilitated to fund some of the CIA's murkier exploits in South America (Iran/Contras etc ) and there was the same going on in Cambodia/Laos during the Vietnam war with the Air America set-up. They've got form in the drugs business, you could say.

12:27 AM  
Anonymous Megan said...

Dovidel,

Thanks a lot for the sympathy! Yes, as Dr. Hack mentioned, my disillusionment with teaching was pretty similar to Gatto's experience. As I'm sure Dr. Berman can attest, the worst part of teaching is probably all the "faculty meeting" stuff. Teachers these days are--with a few rare but refreshing exceptions--very materialistic, self-satisfied and class-conscious. In other words, most of them are there for the status aspect of having a "respectable" job, rather than for love of learning or anything like that. And the things they talked about at lunch in the teachers' lounge! Good grief, it was just such a perfect reflection of our society: the latest stupid movie, the latest mindless scandal in the media, the latest foolish meme that's gone viral on the Internet, etc. Yes, it was positively suffocating to be around that for 8 hours a day! How I longed to talk to a real person, or someone who might actually have an interest in books or ideas--or who occasionally could have spoken a human word to me. Unfortunately, that never happened. Well, the janitor and I got on pretty well, as he shared my love of Dostoyevsky, and was far better educated than most of my colleagues. Which reminds me. One time at lunch, one of them actually said, "If he's so smart, why is he pushing around a broom for six dollars an hour?"

I swear, that attitude was just oozing out of all of them.

1:53 AM  
Blogger J. P. CAZADOR said...

Woman uses stun gun on holiday shoppers:

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=143_1385775772

3:09 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Hunter-

What great human beings Americans are! They know nothing, they read nothing, and beyond shopping, they believe in nothing and care for nothing. Our future is bright!

mb

5:21 AM  
Anonymous Bingo said...

Wafers,

For the edification of the Wafer community, please share your own Black Friday horror stories. Illustrations of stampedes, gratuitous violence, profanity, greed, and hustling are all appreciated here. Of particular value will be clips of fatal shootings over toasters, X-boxes, and plasma TVs.

Meanwhile, here are my modest contributions. In the first clip, don’t miss the extra-large GMO-induced ass covering half of the screen:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ucrM3TLLJRs&feature=player_embedded

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sb1HhyYE1Ug

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=dFFqUdToBGc

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWVV__VWw7Q


Enjoy!
Julian

6:46 AM  
Anonymous Bananda Head said...

MB,

I concur. I only meant to imply that 1.2% of Americans know what sort of society they are living in and understand where it's going. That leaves 98.8% being illiterate, ignorant and most likely vicious. Not really an optimistic point of view, to say the least.

I find it astonishing that anyone would vote for Miley. After all, what has she done? She's taken popular music to a new low by transforming it into pornography. Lady Gaga has followed suit, and I assume that just about any female artist who makes it big will, from here on out, be naked or nearly naked both in live performances and in music videos. I also assume they will engage in lots of suggestive poses, like Miley does. Anyone can be a prostitute, but I assume Americans admire her because she has pretty much cornered a new market and made hundreds of millions of dollars. It has nothing to do with her accomplishments and everything to do with her financial "success".

10:21 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Julian, Wafers-

I was talking to a friend of mine when I was in NY, a medium-level honcho in the publishing industry, and we were discussing the issue of 'progressives' and their belief in positive social change or even revolution. He shook his head. "In the case of the American population," he said, "all you need to stop a revolution is to offer everyone free cable service, or something like that." And this is exactly right. 'Progressives' have a tendency to believe that Americans in general are at the level of what used to be the intelligent middle class, the 'chattering classes' that read the NYRB and weighed in on serious issues. But that class has shrunk dramatically in the last 30 years or so; Philip Roth once calculated that for every 75 serious readers who died, they were replaced by 1. And what do polls indicate? That 29% think the sun revolves around the earth (or don't know which revolves around which); that 45% believe extraterrestrials have already landed; that 62% say drone strikes that murder civilians are just fine; that 25% say Miley Cyrus shd be the 'person of the year'; that a full 2/3 of the nation believe evolution is a mistake; and so on. Then you look at these tapes, of Americans brutalizing (even killing) each other for discount TV's or whatever at shopping malls, and you know exactly who it is that 'progressives' are proposing to liberate. Remember how the NYPD dumped the OWS library in the garbage 2 yrs ago? 'The masses' don't give a crap about learning, art, creativity, personal development or really anything, beyond electronic toys and Miley's tongue; and given the chance, they'd be only happy to lynch what's left of the chattering classes. My friend had it rt abt cable TV: this is the bedrock reality of where the American public is, and the failure of The Nation and the whole Amy Goodman crowd to look this in the face is the Achilles' heel in the whole program of 'let's turn America around.' Jesus, talk about delusion...These are your *neighbors*, fer Chrissakes.

Another example of this delusion: also in NY, I was attempting to discuss the 'progressive' optimism w/a colleague of mine who falls into that camp. It was like talking to a brick wall. This is someone who won the Pulitzer a few yrs back, and who regularly does op-ed pieces for the NYT. I mentioned a YouTube video made outside of the Women's Center at UCSB, in which some guy had a clipboard and was collecting signatures for a petition to "oppose women's suffrage." Women coming out of the Center were only too happy to sign it, because they thought suffrage meant suffering(!). My colleague discounted this, since (he said) 'suffrage' is an archaic word. Really? They don't study the history of the Suffragettes in Women's Studies classes? The pt is that w/this level of ignorance about the world, and abt American history, 'progressive' hopes for positive social change are reduced to zero. As one 'progressive' journalist once wrote me, when I sent him some of the above data: "I can't think too much abt that, because if I did, I wouldn't be able to do the work I'm doing." Bravo: at least he was honest, wh/cannot be said for most of the 'progressive' crowd, who are living in a fog regarding what most Americans read and think. The bottom line is that we are in no way like France at the end of the ancien regime; rather, we are like Rome in the 3rd century A.D., when the 'intellectual' class was publishing bks with errors of spelling and grammar that wd have made Cicero blush--let alone the rest of the population.

mb

10:54 AM  
Blogger pinkpearl said...

MB!

I just listened to your WLUR interview. Great stuff. I liked the mention of The Gutenberg Elegies. I read it when it came it out and I've gone back to it a couple times since. It was one of the books that helped me figure out just how out-of-step I was/am with the mainstream culture. Not only because of what it said, but the fact that I was reading it at all. To this day I still know very few people who would be the slightest bit interested in such a book.

Now I'm reminiscing. As rotten as the culture already was in the 90s when Birkerts' book came out, it's worse now. I recall people who were at least familiar enough with serious books, authors, etc to pretentiously name-drop them, and there were enough people around who would recognize the reference. Now there is no point - no one would know who or what you were talking about.

Imagine though - the desire to at least *appear* to be a well-read person, thinking that had social value, at least in some circles. That there was even a common idea of what "well read" even meant. WOW.

Nowadays, as far as I can tell, letting on that you read serious books marks you as a weirdo. I've encountered outright hostility on a few occasions. Ugh - think how much worse it will be in another 20 years.

11:07 AM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Megan

Your colleagues asked ""If he's so smart, why is he pushing around a broom for six dollars an hour?"

I can provide this answer. It is because one's intelligence is respected less than one's salesmanship type social skills as defined by the American culture. It isn't about being able to do the job or having the aptitude for it, it is about the number one thing and that is personality.

It doesn't matter how intelligent one is. One's personality is the first basis that is checked to determine if one's personality is a good fit for the organizational culture. Now you're given personality tests which ask very vague questions. Even the structure of the test makes no logical sense because if one looked at it logically and rationally one can put two answers unless one strictly agrees or disagrees 100% of what the question says. If a person has strong agreement does he not have minor amount of disagreement somewhere? If one somewhat agrees with something doesn't he automatically have some disagreement with certain aspects as well?

Maybe he had issues with the interpretation of this type of test. It doesn't make him non-intelligent but it means he thinks in a different way. The problem is your collegues did not think any of this stuff through. I bet they're the first to cry that students lack critical thinking skills. Am I correct? If yes, then they're it is like the pot calling the kettle black.

My experiences, my observations and based upon other people's experiences including your experiences that you have mentioned so far lead me to question this phrase which states "In the land of the free, the one eyed man is king."

There may be some truth to this but if there is some falseness to it. If a given civilization, society, or life form did not evolve eye sight would they even be able to conceive that eye sight could even exist? If a person claimed to see how would this civilization react? Would this person be considered mad? Why couldn't this concept apply to your janitor friend as well? What do you think?

Here is an issue that applies to me. I have a major hesitation to when I speak almost like a stutter. My verbal communication would not come across the same because of this. It would come across as though I was intellectually disabled.

My point is your colleagues were not thinking this stuff through whatsoever and did not seem to care to do so. Neither do most people in America and if one tries to have a rational discussion with them you can forget it. They, like your colleagues, are so attached to their ideas that it like trying to take their heads out of their rectum in which their heads are super glued in there.

11:17 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Julian, see the woman using a taser at Frankin Mills Mall not too far from where I live? Yeah, how about that ass! Reminds me of Bellow's line in Seize the Day: "How did people get this ugly?"
Dr. Berman, I know we spoke about progressive delusion at our luncheon. By the way, on the bus trip back I sat near a woman from Kenya who could not stop talking on her cell phone after the driver announced to make such calls short and in a low voice. I asked her to stop but she didn't. So I went to the bus driver and asked him to repeat his announcement which he did. This stopped her for about 15 minutes then proceeded to use her phone. I then said in a loud voice, "I did not pay money for this ride to hear your fuckin' phone calls!" Think that helped? Of course not.

11:27 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

Dr. Berman:

There is the 'people's' history crowd that still plods onward. More and more comes out about the real history of this crappy ass world. I continue to discover a few great new humans. (My amazon list, thanks to WAFers is so long I would bankrupt if I ordered all of tomes about the stupidity of humanity. And this does not include essays.) Few, listen, much less read. This is the way it has always been. A small minority, like urself!

Can't wait to see the cliffs in Ireland, if, there will be a way 18 mos. or so from now. My pessimism grows by leaps and bounds each day. This country is insane.

I probably will not make it to the promised land tho because of the hassle of travel which undoubtedly will be much worse as time clicks away.

Cheers!

Onward and Downward!

12:03 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

shep-

Not really always; the US usta have a vibrant middle class, according to all indicators. Todd Gitlin did a comparison of NYT best-sellers in 1960 and 2000, and the difference in quality was dramatic. In last 50 yrs, expansion of # of dolts has been dramatic. If u don't make it to Ireland in 2015, I may shoot myself (no pressure).

mb

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/11/25

12:29 PM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...

Ah the foolishness just does not stop....

Unlike say London or even New York, D.C. has very uncivilized taxis. They play the radio dammit. Its tough for Capo at times but instructive all the same. Some poor refugee from war torn Somalia or Ethoipia is most likely your D.C. cab driver and they love NPR. So NPR was on yesterday and they interviewed some young man who had launched a scheme to take e-readers to somalia to get all of the kiddies there to read. By skipping the paper book and go straight to kindles you see he could help bring about literacy and social progress to somalia. I was gobsmacked at the utter idiocy of this and wished MB were listening. My driver a good natured man from ehiopia just laughed and laughed, he said they can;t get the majority of people in the U.S. to read. Why go to somalia why not start in D.C. or Baltimore? He pointed out that somalis were never much for reading or writing and were based on an oral tradition. I assured him that this was not meant to work but only as a way to get grant money and make the do gooders feel good, he agreed and said he had seen this sort of western self promoting world saving schemes in ethiopia since the 1970's. I agreed but pointed out that when it involves technology or talk of democracy its particularly annoying. He agreed and proceeded to tell me of a host of other idiotic things he saw americans and brits doing as a kid. This brings me to a second point--language--there is something particularly idiotic or odd that americans and brits share in world saving dellusion. Its very odd.

3:37 PM  
Anonymous Dr. Hackenbush said...

ellen- I'm glad somebody else cares about this stuff because to me it's fascinating and ought to be common knowledge. But for most people it seems to be a bridge too far or something.

Along similar lines, I came across a lecture/documentary of sorts about the infamous Sandy Hook massacre recently, that may be too strange even for me to contemplate... True or not, it's definitely "trippy." The speaker (who IMO seems to have stepped out of some 19th century intentional community-- not the typical product of American skools anyway) argues that the Sandy Hook community was populated by lots of suspiciously spooky types, and that nothing adds up about the crime or its aftermath. She speculates that it may have been some kind of controlled experiment in social engineering, a sophisticated test-run of the propaganda arsenal. In short, a serious mind-****.

http://www.ascensionwithearth.com/2013/11/unraveling-sandy-hook-by-sofia.html

7:34 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Dr. Berman,

You said, “…the US usta have a vibrant middle class, according to all indicators.” I read that far and thought, “Really?” I’d always observed that most people calling themselves middle-class were really working-class in denial. I remembered sprawling suburbs of ticky-tacky houses where men in grey flannel suits schlepped home to Betty Crocker wives, while their kids sat in front of the TV.

Back in the 70’s hospital laboratory workers referred to themselves not only as ‘middle-class’ but ‘professional’. Yet they were paid (or docked) by the hour like factory workers. While some professionalism was required for medical laboratory work, it was diminishing rapidly as the work was automated and Taylorized. In fact, hospital management used a ‘professionalism mystique’ to keep their workers docile.

They had college degrees but they only talked about TV programs, so I learned all about sit-coms and soap operas I never saw. How people like this can maintain the fiction that they’re middle-class today is something of a mystery, and finding out would be like studying the psychology of sea-slugs.

Well, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven…”, so this was clearly not the vibrant middle class which was responsible for that now vanished quality in American culture. (With that quality gone, it’s hard to believe that we used to complain about it!)

Our late, lamented vibrant middle class must have been a lot smaller than the above-mentioned pseudo middle class. Who and how many comprised it? Surely more than a few New York intellectuals. The boomers are still around and mostly supporting dreck for culture, so wouldn’t the generation of GI bill veterans be the last of that vibrant middle class? And I’d pick the granddaddy of all techno-dreck, television as the greatest single lobotomizer of subsequent generations.

David Rosen

9:25 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

DR-

The vibrant middle class kept the publishing industry alive, in fact. Publishers cd count on 6% of the public buying a bk, and so cd publish fine, if esoteric, titles--i.e. take the loss. By 1990 the fig had slipped to 4%; I'm guessing it's 2-3% by now. University Presses can hardly afford to publish fine esoteric titles anymore.

mb

10:01 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

'The masses' don't give a crap about learning, art, creativity, personal development or really anything, beyond electronic toys and Miley's tongue; and given the chance, they'd be only happy to lynch what's left of the chattering classes. My friend had it rt abt cable TV: this is the bedrock reality of where the American public is...

Yes. I read Jimmy Carter’s Crisis of Confidence (malaise) speech and I was thinking of the context. Carter gives his speech on how we must do something beyond just mindless consumption and that for the good of the country we should try to conserve energy and become less dependent on oil. All the networks broadcast it and a brief discussion by TV reporters follows. Then what happens? Someone says “and now back to our regular programing” which we are very sorry we had to interrupt and which is sponsored by Exxon and Cadillac, as it has been since the beginning of the TV era and still is now. One 15 min speech is supposed to cancel out decades of non-stop advertising pumped into everyone’s home telling people that life IS all about mindless consumption. And social scientists write books about how disappointed they are that the American people didn’t listen to Jimmy and stop buying Cadillacs. Yeah, right. Who decided this (constant advertizing for buying Cadillacs) was to be “our regular programming”? I ask this as someone who grew up completely in the tv era, and can still recall the advertising jingles from my childhood, if that isn't brainwashing for mindless consumption then I don’t know what is. How can an ordinary person be expected to resist something that is fed into his home and those of all his neighbors, and is celebrated by all (especially the educated elites) as a good thing?

10:03 PM  
Anonymous sanctuary! said...

Capo, you mentioned that "there is something particularly idiotic or odd that americans and brits share in world saving delusion".

A book related to this is GOD WON'T SAVE AMERICA: PSYCHOSIS OF A NATION (some title, huh?) by British writer George Walden. MB has a great quote from it on p. 56 of WAF. The theme of the Walden book is that Puritanism warped America from the outset. Puritanism is, of course, a GB/American connection.

1:15 AM  
Blogger Listener said...

al-Qa'bong

This will actually be my first time as an ESL teacher. I taught social studies before. I would teach social studies now if I could, but there are a thousand or more ESL jobs for every job teaching other subjects (in english.) Though it's possible I may be able to tutor history at another company if I wish to take on additional work. It's also possible I could find a social studies job more easily outside of Russia, but for me going to Russia is more appealing than the actual job.

From what I understand getting an ESL job is much easier in Asia than in Europe, especially if you are not an EU citizen, and tends to pay better. I won't be making a lot of money, but since the apartment is covered I should be ok.

I'm very familiar with John Gatto, mentioned here several times, having read one of his books, and having listened to several hours of his interviews. I have no illusions about teaching. I think I'm a competent teacher, but not much beyond that, and I don't consider it any sort of calling.

ESL teaching is not easy, is not as attractive an option as it used to be, and should not be taken on lightly. Even now I have doubts about it, but because of my previous experience, my CELTA training, and a greater commitment than before to make things work, I think I can do it.

1:49 AM  
Anonymous Megan said...

Cube,

I think my arrogant co-worker made that comment because he's a philistine, and like all philistines, he judged personal merit in terms of economic rank. I honestly don't think he looked at it any deeper than that, which is unfortunate, but fairly typical.

In a word, Cube, my teacher-colleagues are cultural boobies, and live and breathe precisely the same values as those simian creatures you saw tearing one another apart at Wal Mart on Black Friday. What they don't understand is that "class" has nothing to do with income, and has everything to do with quality of soul. A person who drives an ice cream truck or sweeps chimneys for a living, but who is nevertheless noble, generous, kind, sensitive to beauty and to the higher values, etc.--that person is an aristocrat in the literal sense of the word (i.e., "best"); whereas anyone lacking these qualities--even if he's an Ivy league professor or owns half of Manhattan's real estate--is plebeian.

Of course, if you got paid $80,000 for being a janitor, and $18,000 for being a teacher, then that same idiot colleague of mine would probably have been eating lunch in the janitors' closet--and making fun of all contemptible minimum wage teachers who waste their lives with Plato and Chemistry books!

2:16 AM  
Anonymous Kanye West said...

Hey Morris, I'm on board with pretty much everything you're saying but you're off base when it comes to extraterrestrials. The truth is stranger than fiction, and believe it or not, a number of very credible people (former astronauts, even the current Prime Minister of Russia) have spoken out about the subject of UFO's and alien sightings. If you were still in the US, you would be able to request some documents through the Freedom of Information Act that were previously classified talking about strange spaceships in the sky, this goes back to the 1940's. I know a few people who do very serious research into this who are stigmatized and laughed at, I'd be thankful if you not ridicule this subject if you haven't taken the time out to really look into it. I recommend Richard Dolan's "UFO's and the National Security State" if you want to learn more.

And if you're going to have one of your speeches on the subject of 9/11, you owe it to yourself to read at least one of David Ray Griffin's books. If you consider yourself a scholar and intellectual, there is no excuse for not being willing to look into the case that David Ray Griffin very compellingly presents. I suggest "9/11 Ten Years Later: When State Crimes Against Democracy Succeed." If you email me you're address, I'd be willing to buy the David Ray Griffin book for you.

4:18 AM  
Anonymous Bingo said...

MB,

It’s tough to watch Amy Goodman these days. Each one of her shows is now a wall-to-wall celebration of progressive victories. How they stopped the Vietnam war, how they liberated women, blacks, gays, etc. There’s almost no difference between her show and Rachel Maddow’s. It’s become unbearable to watch. Worse, her show is becoming increasingly similar to Noam Chomsky’s rants about how the US is still the “richest nation in history,” how it is a “free nation,” etc. Sometimes I wonder, what’s wrong with these people. Have they not read the news lately? How many other nations maintain a Gitmo of their own? How many other nations incarcerate 3 percent of their population? How many other nations are so heavily in debt as the US? How many other “democracies” murder their own citizens without a trial? This is totally Orwellian: slavery is freedom, debt is wealth, shopping is community, etc. The progressives suffer from a very weird combination of severe delusions and denial, thus can be considered to be seriously mentally ill, in my opinion.

So, if Amy Goodman and Noam Chomsky represent the pinnacle of intellectual thought in America, then there is no hope. There will never be a revolution in the US. It will be, as you wrote, only a certain descent into the Dark Ages.

That’s why, “my fellow Americans”, I say why not just maximize your Black Friday shopping experience... like these guys here:

“Black Friday shopping marred by shooting, clashes and arrests (VIDEOS)”:

http://rt.com/usa/black-friday-violent-shopping-490/

Julian

4:26 AM  
Anonymous ellen said...

Hi Dr Hack,
I did watch your doc and found it very trippy too. I also didn't hear one speculation that could be corroborated with a primary source in any way. This lady has built her story out of what snippets of peripheral info are on the web and filled in the gaps with speculation. I think that is a form of denial and wishful thinking that is quite dangerous.

I am sure that she wants to believe that children and teachers didn't die and that the incident was an elaborate staging for some arcane government experimental purpose but that is not founded on any evidence at all.
In my experience, reality is far more brutal and immediate than any imagining and cannot be confused with some vague fantasising based on internet speculation. I do like the scientific method and rely on it as being currently the best that we have got for practical purposes.

Besides, if the lady wants government experiments conducted on an unknowing populace, there is plenty of documented history on those that have occurred in all too horrible, well-documented reality. People, lots of them, do die in government experiments, eg:

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

...and I don't see why this lady needs to believe and try to prove otherwise unless her fear of brute reality has overcome her reasoning powers. This is cognitive dissonance at work.

I did find interesting her assertion that Newtown was a transition town and that the B'hai faith featured strongly. Both of these are quite culty, with a 'positive' and New Age outlook that doesn't sit well with an accurate assessment of reality, ( and which has me, at least. backing away rapidly)
I also noticed a lot of very crude confusion and suggestion tricks in her film--- which tells me that the lady is looking for a lucrative following of believers to exploit, like so many others on the internet, and is not above using a bit of perception shaping of her own to achieve this. I personally find that to be abhorrent.

8:45 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Julian-

It is quite amazing, I agree. Progressives live in a kind of bubble, and reinforce each other, while they are desperately clutching at straws. The list you mentioned cd be significantly expanded: since 9/11, police forces have killed 5000 American civilians; if you look at the cops cross-eyed, you get arrested and strip-searched; the 'richest nation' has a distribution of wealth on a par with Egypt and Tunisia; etc. They also confuse identity politics with substantive rearrangement of the relations of power, which is simply not the case--etc. I'm beginning to wonder if there are any genuine critics left. The desperate need to be optimistic can only hurt us, in a context in which there is no objective basis for such an outlook. It's a variant of American exceptionalism, really: "Yes, all empires die, but *we* won't." Yeah, tell me more.

Kanye-

I don't have anything to say on the subject of UFO's, really, except that I doubt Vladimir Putin is a reliable witness in this matter. In any case, I suspect we have more pressing things to worry about. As far as 9/11 goes, I certainly have the right to give a talk on the subject (the only one I've given on it since 2002, in fact) w/o discussing the inside job theory, because I don't believe the theory and I think it's a distraction from the real issues that are raised by the event. (In my view, that wd be like focusing on the Reichstag fire of 1933 instead of WW2 and the industrial murder of 12 million people.) You probably came late to the party, but I did, at one pt, give a list of reasons why I didn't find the topic interesting or consider it a subject suitable for this blog. I simply can't run thru all that again every time someone writes in and says, "We hafta discuss 9/11 as an inside job." If that's a burning question 4u, I think you'll find that there are numerous blogs eager to delve into the subject, but this is not one of them. Even typing all of this out is getting to be a drag, frankly.

Zos-

As I indicate in WAF, Jimmy was touchingly naive, because he somehow believed that a TV sermon on the deeper purposes of life cd reverse 400+ yrs of American history--i.e., of hustling. He was speaking out of the alternative tradition I identify in the bk (Thoreau, Mumford, Emerson, Puritan divines, etc.), but w/the exception of the antebellum South (wh/obviously had its own problems), that tradition was completely exhortatory: it had no power to compel Americans to stop shopping, for fuck's sake, and start thinking about your spiritual purpose on this earth. What must Jimmy think now, of the utter horseshit we are immersed in, 33 yrs after Reagan replaced him in the W.H.? What must he think, when he sees the videos of Black Friday stampedes at Wal-Mart--of his fellow countrymen behaving like animals for the sake of a discount TV set? I doubt he ever read the 'Carter' sections of DAA or WAF, but I'd give a lot at this pt to interview him. Problem is, no one wd carry the interview. He did say, a few mos. ago, to a reporter at the Austin newspaper, that "we no longer have a functioning democracy in America"; not a single media outlet, to my knowledge, picked that up (beyond the Austin paper). All of this is Why America Failed.

mb

10:32 AM  
Blogger Cj said...

@Kayne regarding UFOs. This is a topic I've followed for most of my life. In regards to Dolan's works I'd take them with a grain of salt. He seems to have never met a rumor or incredible story that he didn't believe. His support of those within the wilder fringes of Ufology-notably the reptillian nonsense-has pretty well discredited him.

If you want to read credible works on UFOs consider the books of Vallee, Kean, Alexander, Harley Rutledge, Sturrock, the book 'Clear Intent', etc.

Unfortunately the majority of the literature on UFOs is not worth the paper it's printed on. It's possible to find good work but these are the exception rather than the rule.

Chuck


10:45 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

"Sanc,

Puritanism warped America from the outset."

Did u ever get that right!

" “

"Most of the Wampanoag had died from the smallpox epidemic so when the Pilgrims arrived they found well-cleared fields which they claimed for their own. A Puritan colonist, quoted by Harvard University's Perry Miller, praised the plague that had wiped out the Indians for it was "the wonderful preparation of the Lord Jesus Christ, by his providence for his people's abode in the Western world."




__________

Dr B,

"This is the way it has always been. A small minority, like urself!"


I was referring to *most* of the hx of the US. My 16th b'day was 1958 and that was the real Camelot for the right class, which I admit was much larger than today.

__________

WAFers,

What do you think about this? I post quotations under a file title of "Where Are The Churches". I am up to 246 pages. Here is an example. Seems very accurate to me.

Rev William J Barber - Pharisitical hypocrisy!

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

__________

It is also a hobby of mine to find hidden (on purpose) gargantuan boulders of history that swamp and crush man’s revisional historical crap.

Here is a historian that has attracted me. The guy is humble and off the main track in a good way. This BTW is not about a one string instrument. It is about class! I am beginning to think Dr KIng was in error. It was not a trinity of Racism, Classism and Militarism but rather only the duopoly of Class (Hustlin') and Militarism that is the problem.

Some quotes from Dr Jeffery's web site: http://www.jeffreybperry.net/

"Allen also consistently challenges the “white” assumption and describes how the “white race” was invented as a ruling class social control formation in response to labor solidarity."

"Finally, and very importantly, Allen emphasizes that European-American workers do not “benefit” from “white skin privileges,” that these “white skin privileges” are a “poison bait,” a “baited hook,” and they are not in the interest of working class people."

Also ck this out: http://www.amazon.com/The-Invention-White-Race-Volume/dp/1844677699



I suspect some will think Mr Perry is a nut case?

11:00 AM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...

Sanctuary!

Thank you for the citation--indeed its in WAF and will obtain the Walden book.

The crowds are out of control MB. Ah for my fellow wafers don't be seduced by the siren call of PBS, NPR and Amy Goodman. Their dulcent voices and their conceit of being the voice of reason and decency aligned with democracy and the oppressed will surely take you to the rocky shoals. Avoid.

The voices that will set you free or make you feel a bit sane do not have mass audiences and do not send you tote bags or coffee mugs if you pledge during their fundraising drives.

No sir, the revolution will not be televised and true insights to the condition of the US will not be gained by sending $50.00 to PBS and getting your Depak Chopra or Wayne Dwyer DVDs'.

Read MB, Chris Hedges, John Gray, and for some technical perspectives Vaclav Smil is very useful. Nassim Talem and Alain DeBottom are also fine contemporary writers. There are more and none will be on Oprah or Charlie Rose. Of course, I tend to favor the old as it has withstood the test of time (who will read an Oprah book in 40 years?).

Accidentally I picked up the Autobiography of Ulysses S. Grant. As a Mexican not emotionally attached to the Civil war so lets dispense with that... Halfway through the first volume--the man could think and boy could he write. The ability to self reflect, empathy, complex thoughts, admitting error and all in a compelling prose--so good some thought Mark Twain ghost wrote the book. Compare that to the Dreck of today.....

11:10 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

shep-

Informal blog rule: try to limit yrself to half a page. I know it's hard, but we do need a length limit. Thanks. Plus, remember that if u don't show up in Eire in 2015 I'll kill myself.

mb

11:30 AM  
Anonymous Mo Ronich said...

Dig in and enjoy:
http://laughingsquid.com/supercut-compilation-of-black-friday-shopping-chaos/

11:35 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

al-Qa'bang,
I taught ESL in Japan from 1983-1993 in the northeastern part of the country. All in all it was a splendid experience. I got to learn the language, became a bit of a media star as I became proficient in kyudo-traditional Japanese archery, and got to see the country from top to bottom (the Sapporo Ice Festival is something one should not miss). The students are a teacher's dream in terms of class control. I hardly ever needed to raise my voice. If you do teach in a private language school you will have to smile a lot and be pleasant. Most students there just want the experience of having some contact with a native speaker. In other words, put your Steven Krashen textbooks aside and just be pleasant.
Finally, the food is superb, the country-side is spectacular and nothing beats an outside hotspring as snow falls on your face.

12:19 PM  
Anonymous Banana Head said...

Ok, about UFOs, I can't claim to know with 100% certainty if they've paid us a visit, or if they exist. But these logical points cannot be contested:

1.) If a civilization that technologically advanced wanted to hurt us, we'd all be dead or enslaved already.
2.) If UFOs did land on this planet, the public would have heard about it. Something like that simply could not be kept quiet, by any means.
3.) A civilization with technology advanced enough to travel the universe would almost certainly be peaceful, because self-annihilation would very shortly occur if this were not the case (You think nuclear war is bad? What if we had technologies millions of times as powerful?)

So that leaves the possibility that some extra-terrestrial race saw us and was simply indifferent. Or maybe saw us as irredeemably violent, greedy and corrupt and decided to run like the plague. In any even, all these malevolent alien conspiracy theories only have one purpose: to distract us from the problems caused by other human beings, on planet Earth.

3:13 PM  
Anonymous Banana Head said...

MB,

I'm actually pretty worried to hear that Amy Goodman and Noam Chomsky have gotten on the delusional, optimistic bandwagon of "This wonderful country's in the process of turning around." These two used to have much more integrity than that.

I'm assuming you don't watch TV, but I occasionally do, and I've noticed something. Advertisements are increasingly *ordering* people to shop, in a subtly autocratic way. They are getting louder, more strident, and much dumber. Nobody seems to notice, but yet, nearly everyone seems to enjoy this.

Maybe in ten years, watching a set duration of advertisements every day will be mandated by law. Every TV will have sensors installed that allow it to detect whether you're actually watching the advertisements, or if you've just left the TV on. You'll have news headlines of hapless people being carted off to jail for not watching enough exhortations courtesy of J. C. Penny and Sears to buy, buy buy! We'll see heartfelt and passionate explanations by both parties why this is good for America - the necessity of increasing consumer spending will help get America out of debt and get America back to being the richest country in the world, blah blah blah. Watching advertisements will be elevated to the highest and noblest rank of American patriotism. And before each program, you'll be treated to this: "Have *you* done your part today to keep the American economy float? If not, then stay tuned!"

3:25 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Banana-

An informal rule on this blog: post only once every 24 hrs. Thanks. As for UFO's, it's not a topic that interests me very much, altho I suspect yr rt on all counts, esp. re: the whole thing serving as a distraction from stuff that's real. But I do want to add one pt re: Kanye's argument where I think he missed the pt of what I was saying. The 45% of the American population who believe ET's are among us have no evidence of this whatsoever. Most of them (all, imo) were not abducted, and very few bothered to do the research Kanye is suggesting we do. So saying these believers may be rt is a rather strange way to argue it--it wd be coincidental at best. 150 million Americans have their own reasons for believing iin this sort of thing, but these reasons don't have a lot to do with scientific verification. *Why* so many people believe in UFO's is, at least for me, the crucial issue here.

As for Amy and Noam: they don't lack integrity; rather, it's that their desperation is clouding their judgment (I suspect). Finally, on the subject of ads: In 10 yrs, external TV's won't exist; they will have been implanted in our brains. Have a look at Wm Gibson's novel, "Neuromancer"--1984! (Talk abt prescient.)

mb

6:44 PM  
Anonymous Dr. Hackenbush said...

Re: formerly vibrant middle class

The early 80s movie "My Dinner w/ Andre" seemed to be a sort of elegy for that social formation, perhaps... The characters seem a bit anxious about the direction things were taking, into a purely Taylorized, lobotomized, fluoridated (ha) public...

I've been reading Christopher Lasch's _The Revolt of the Elites_ and he has a chapter about early American ideas favoring the democratization of intelligence, virtue, "competence".. It was not considered desirable per se that all should have "social mobility" or be able to rise in status; the stress was on widespread self-sufficiency and personal capacity for judgment. Industrialization ushered in more class-ist ideas, viewing laborers as unfit for the world of ideas. There's an incredible (in its frankness) Woodrow Wilson quote about how "one class of men, a necessarily larger group" will have to be intentionally kept ignorant, to suit them for their purpose as dumb instruments of a ruling class. That plan has succeeded quite well.

ellen- Thanks for checking that link out and offering your views. I found it half-way plausible, but maybe I'm just susceptible to those techniques of "confusion and suggestion" you mention.. ha. I mean she does point out some weird things -- those photos *do* look odd, the public statements by officials *do* seem strange. My main problem is that I'd have to have a better context for what she presents: she talks about the "2-D" media frame vs "3-D" reality (and the 6th dimension as well!) in her talk; but I feel like her speech suffers from the same limitations that she criticizes, as you maybe allude to. I can't dismiss her as confidently as you do, but I can't quite get on board with her theory either.

7:20 PM  
Anonymous Ole Jack Williams said...

Amy Goodman is just another "feel your pain" limousine liberal scumbag making millions working for a company that has unpaid interns. Stop pretending Chomsky or Goodman or any of their ivory tower ilk give a crap about anyone but themselves.

8:28 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jack-

I dunno abt Amy, but Noam is a friend of a friend, and a person of great integrity. He is motivated by feelings of justice, by the plight of the underdog, and by anger at corruption and greed. He has devoted years of his life to 'telling it like it is', to an America that vilified him in return. Frankly, he can hold my bank acc't anytime (well, not much in it, but that's not the pt). I wd say the same thing abt Chris Hedges, for example. You may be rt, that there aren't many 'real' ones out there, but they are out there. (My guess is that Amy is sincere and dedicated as well, just terribly misguided.)

Meanwhile, Wafers might wanna discuss the following:

http://vimeo.com/70534716

mb

8:56 PM  
Blogger pinkpearl said...

MB

The YouTube video "I Forgot My Phone" depicts *exactly* what the loneliness video is about. It *shows*, it doesn't tell. It's also half as long - better for today's attention spans!

I recall that some WAFers were very dismissive of the phone video. Someone called it "douchebags on parade". So it will be interesting to see what WAFers think of the loneliness video.

Anyway, it's all a recipe for even worse general mental health, which will screw up society even more. Great, just in time for climate chaos too.

10:00 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

All hail the Techno savior!

http://mobile.theverge.com/2013/12/1/5164340/delivery-drones-are-coming-jeff-bezos-previews-half-hour-shipping

10:05 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Pink-

I liked the cell fone video, and I probably called the BOPs (Buffoons On Phones) 'douche bags on parade'. The video was an excellent depiction of DBsOP. But this recent video is illuminating as well, in its own way. Moronism may do us in faster than global warming. When it gets this massive, it's called a Buffoonami.
We shd be able to work that into a new Wafer post-it.

mb

10:15 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

Hack, here’s the full quote:

“We want one class of persons to have a liberal education and we want another class of persons, a very much larger class of necessity, to forgo the privileges of a liberal education.”
- Woodrow Wilson

I wonder if when we post data on the average American’s ignorance we might at the same time consider Wilson’s famous wish. He was president of Princeton U when he said it and became potus three years later. That ignorance represents the fulfillment of the wishes of our elite, it’s not some flaw in the system but a rather design feature that our elite sees as one of its greatest achievements.

10:22 PM  
Blogger Alexey L said...

Fellow Dr. Berman and Wafers,

I stumbled upon this interesting article titled "Why have young people in Japan stopped having sex?"
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/20/young-people-japan-stopped-having-sex

A good reflection of our times.

Thanks.

Alexey

5:24 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Alexey-

Thank you. I printed the article out when it first appeared, because it raises questions of the nature of Japanese 'austerity', which I talked abt in my lecture at UBC last April, and which features in the bk I'm currently writing abt Japan. Obviously, there's austerity and there's austerity, and this is the life-denying version of it.

Another dimension of the austerity question is economic. Japan has a great talent, historically speaking (Tokugawa era), for doing much with little--elegant simplicity. But if the austerity is imposed by a 'neofeudal' regime, such as is now in process in the US (the 1% vs. the 99%), or if the austerity is of the Greek-Spanish-British variety, it casts the whole thing in a different light. Like the Western industrial democracies, Japan is currently in denial, pursuing a neoliberal ideology of 'growth' that will eventually hit the fan, as it did in 2008. Spain is already into what I've called the Dual Process phenomenon, with more than 300 experiments in alternative energy, currency, and ways of life going on, and a secessionist tradition (Basque region, Catalonia) that may reinforce this. Such expts exist in the US, but (see Joel Magnuson's bk) are few and far between by comparison. And unlike Japan, the US doesn't have a whole minimalist tradition to fall back on; the American Dream (based on the 'infinity' of the frontier) runs counter to the Japanese Dream of generating beauty out of simplicity. Spain may be able to finesse Dual Process to its advantage, and Japan may be able to reinvent itself by means of a strategy I call 'archaic modernism' (more on this in my bk). But I wd be disturbed in both cases if the context for these paths is a tiny rich elite that doesn't have to bother w/any of this, while the rest of the population has turned off the heat and wears heavy sweaters indoors to get thru the winter (e.g.). My projection for the US, in any case, is either secession and a major political crack-up, or an Orwellian neofeudal security-surveillance state, maintaining the status quo thru violence. As I show in WAF, the alternative tradition in American history has for the most part been exhortatory and feeble. So while Spain and Japan, for example, might have a way out, the US simply does not, short of substantive geopolitical breakup (in which case it stops being the United States). But I'm concerned about the context in which Japanese minimalism, or Spanish expts in Dual Process, might take place.

As for sex: the stats are that there's not much of it in the US either anymore, given the long working hours that employed Americans, at least, are required to put in; but this is perforce, not the result of an overt rejection of it, as among Japanese youth. Definitely not a healthy sign.

mb

7:24 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

Dr. Berman,

My last comments had 350 words (obviously too long). When you say i/2 page, is that about 200-250 words at the most?

I ask because I'm not sure.

BTW: I think you are sincere about Eire. I'm aware I *occupy* the bottom of the intellectual pole: but self-conscious...and for that reason, I gotta be out, altho I would not trade places with anyone else.

9:42 AM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Dr. B

Last night, I had a strange dream. I was in a small town in a small common-wealth type country. This town was named Griffin. It was in the distant future long after the USA's collapse. It was on the North American continent somewhere. First, the commonwealth was not a country in the sense we know today. It was a federation of 10-20 small towns made up of 400-700 people each. Compared to the US it was miniscule.

There was a central government made up of a few people who met every so often maybe at a deli or something. Dr. B, you would've loved the deli as they made the best pastrami on rye ever made. These group of people were mainly called to be the final decision makers of different issues that cropped up. The towns voted on these issues and these leaders examined the issues at hand. In order to become these leaders, one had to study and understand philosophy and one had to understand the history and culture of various civilizations through both reading textbooks and being immersed in different civilizations that exist in this current era. Usually, they were around your age Dr. B.

In fact, this society was an intellectually based and spiritually based type society. Knowledge was valued for its' own sake and people believed there was a lot more than just the material realm. Hustling is completely anathema to this society. There was little stores and quaint shops but these shopkeepers had deep friendships with a lot of their customers. They considered each other family. It was a spiritual love and bond that existed. It was true positivity and no going by a said script. Education was free and the teachers were held in high esteem and respected. The teachers had excellent knowledge about their subject and other subjects including philosophy and the literary arts. It was not a one-sized fit all environment. Children were grouped according to different learning styles. Some families home-schooled the children one on one. Children weren't taught just facts but how to think and how to relax and calm their minds as well and tune into a non-thinking.

There was one man they held in high regard and in high esteem. His name was Morris Berman. Long after the crash of the US, they were able to find copies of his books and copies of this blog on both on hard drives and paper as well. They realized the dangers of the computer and overuse and even though they have computers these computers are restricted to libraries and other archival sites. Each person is restricted in the time allotment of usage.

One can read paper copies and books for as long as they want unless this book was in heavy demand. They were able to download the contents of the hard drive and print it in paper form for all to read. Dr. Berman's books and blog became #1 in this society. They noticed he referred himself to Molis Belman in a tongue and cheek way and the people adopted this as well because they saw the humor and they had a sense of humor that was intellectually and spiritually based. To them, it represented that there was a lot spiritually and intellectually they did not know nor understand even though they are far more along than the typical American is today. Some of the delis were named in his honor. It was such a strange dream Dr. B. What do you make of it?

9:46 AM  
Blogger Cj said...

Hi Professor, UFOs isn't really a suitable topic here but thought I'd take a stab at your question "*Why* so many people believe in UFO's is, at least for me, the crucial issue here."

The answer is because so many people see objects in the air that are unidentifiable and exercise flight characteristics beyond our level of technology. These objects have been filmed, seen by hundreds (if not more) people at a time, been picked up on radar, chased by jets, etc. There's a lot of good documentation for anybody that wants to make the effort and has an open mind. Leslie Kean's new book would be a good start. The works of the astronomer/computer scientist Jacques Vallee I also highly recommend.

The larger issue IMO is what are they? Interpretations tend to be based upon a cultural assessment. In ancient times they were the crafts of the gods, in post WWII Sweden they were thought to be secret Nazi weapons, and in our time they're generally interpreted as ETs. What they are or could be is limited to the perceiver's imagination.

I have no doubt they're real and that they exhibit behaviour that seems to indicate a non human intelligence at work. We have no idea what to expect from an intelligence that may be beyond ours and that ultimately may end up being unfathomable. Differing from many others I have no idea what they are.

That's probably more than you wanted to read and I won't post on this again.

Regards,
Chuck

9:59 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Chuck-

Thanks for the input. I suspect (along w/Jung) that all of this is just projections of the human mind; but obviously, I cd be wrong. If so, I think it might be time for these folks to declare themselves.

cube-

I assume yr pulling my leg. A utopian society, based on my work and pastrami sandwiches? You actually dreamt this? Cute!

shep-

Maybe it just seems long. Try to compress it, perhaps. As for Eire: I don't really expect it to happen. As I said, I wd do it only if 7 people (besides me) actually commit themselves to buying a plane ticket, and showing up. Last time we tried to do this it was for Mexico City, and everyone was excited abt the mtg until it came time to get real. Then they had a pie in the oven, goldfish to feed, etc. Bottom line: virtual reality is not reality (tho the Wafer mtg we just had in Greenwich Village was a sight to behold).

mb

10:17 AM  
Anonymous JWO said...

Good stuff WAF-ers! When I left work on Wednesday there was 18 comments and now we're up to 108 with some great comments.

Alas, I had to break my Buy Nothing Day pledge last Friday and buy some hardware to fix my sister's toilet ... even the local hardware store was a madhouse! But, I survived the throngs with my wax ring and flush valve intact.

MB and Banana. Regarding mandatory commercials and implants, try reading the Y.A. novel "Feed" by M.T. Anderson:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feed_(Anderson_novel)

the above Wikipedia page is actually a very good one, especially note the "Themes" section.

Re: The Innovation of Loneliness video. It is a good one, especially the Quality vs. Quantity and learning to be alone. The latter is something very important to me, I guess growing up in the woods and spending 6 hours alone on a bicycle makes me now crave a quiet cabin on the river.

10:25 AM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

MB wrote, in response to Chuck:

"If so, I think it might be time for these [UFO extraterrestrial] folks to declare themselves."

The obvious question occurs:

If you were a representative of a technologically advanced life form, and had been observing what goes on around here--or indeed, across the globe--among the so-called apex species, would YOU declare yourself, or simply continue watching, perhaps even placing bets with your mates on what asinine thing we might do next?

Sort of like watching a continuous loop of Jackass the Movie, no?

11:19 AM  
Anonymous JWO said...

Sorry for the 2nd post in a day, but here's a good WAF-er essay by the recently mentioned Sven Birkerts:

http://lareviewofbooks.org/essay/the-lint-of-the-material

12:00 PM  
Anonymous Holzwege said...

Dear Zosima, Hackenbush, and, generally, all Wafers,

Here is what John D. Rockefeller (1839-1937) had to say early on in the previous century on "molding the docile folk" through education:

"In our dreams...people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hands. The present educational conventions (intellectual and character education) fade from our minds, and unhampered by tradition we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive folk.

We shall not try to make these people or any of their children into philosophers or men of learning or men of science. We have not to raise up from among them authors, educators, poets or men of letters. We shall not search for embryo great artists, painters, musicians, nor lawyers, doctors, preachers, politicians, statesmen, of whom we have ample supply.

The task we set before ourselves is very simple... we will organize children...and teach them to do in a perfect way the things their fathers and mothers are doing in an imperfect way."

The foregoing quotation is drawn from John D. Rockefeller's 1906 first mission statement for the General Education Board.

12:02 PM  
Anonymous ellen said...

Regarding the loneliness video and the Japanese as outliers in a world of humans no longer so keen on reproducing itself, I think that these things are connected and have more to do with long-term alienation than being directly caused by the availability of social networks. In fact social networks exploded through promising (though not delivering on the promise) to relieve some of the feelings of alienation.
The concept of alienation ( which encompasses a lot more than simple loneliness) is generally attributed to the Industrial Revolution and urbanisation, people leaving the land to work in factories and 'dark satanic mills' and basically becoming physically and psychically rootless. I doubt that there is a quick techie fix for this.

I think many young people now especially do not see a viable future for themselves and so are less inclined to reproduce, and who can blame them? My own parents had 9 children simply because the Pope (whom they blindly obeyed) insisted on it but didn't seem to like either children or each other too much. As a result, the surviving 7 of those 9 children only managed 3 offspring between us and none of those 3 is now likely to reproduce for good, practical, individual reasons, demographic timebombs notwithstanding.

I think that this is mother nature flexing her muscles--and it has been a long time coming. Look at the breeding problems of animals in captivity-- when caged they naturally stop producing unless artificial insemination programmes are used.
Margaret Atwood ruminated on where this might horribly go in her Sci-Fi novel 'A Handmaid's Tale.'
I can't think of a worse prospect than being forced to produce human grist for those satanic mills, just to keep some nob in the style to which that nob believes himself either divinely or financially entitled.

Let them eat cake.

12:28 PM  
Anonymous j said...

Dr. B,

The innovation of loneliness is a great video. Explains a lot re no one wanting actual connections anymore. But just like our leaders don't come from a vacuum, they are representations of the collective, aren't these social networks the same? People were getting lonely, felt they wanted connections, so joined the network, deepening their loneliness?

12:31 PM  
Anonymous Banana Head said...

Indeed, the austerity measures being implemented all across the world are about denying poor people access to the most basic necessities of life: food, clothing, shelter, and medicine, so more wealth can be transferred upwards. I am saddened to hear that Japan is going along this route as well.

I suspect that the USA will not break up or really break down. Instead, it will be an Orwellian police-security state, rife with assassinations, torture, 16-hour workdays, and a neofeudal system complete with 21st-century terminology. Europe seems to want to go the same route, so in my view, they will.

Maybe instead of disintegration of the present regime, or the "Waning of the Modern Age", Orwellian police states will spread out all over the globe. This is my vision of the future, and it's also Chris Hedges's vision of the future. I hope it does not come to pass, but there isn't a single scrap of data which suggests it could be anything but, at least to me.

1:59 PM  
Blogger Publius said...

The WAFers are really active this past week!
I don't need to report in, but simply feel like it.

Thanksgiving "up north." I interacted with the locals (my hometown area), and I noticed something I would like Prof. Berman's commentary on, if he so wishes to comment:

The rural vs. urban divide and how Prof. Berman's theories might apply.

I noticed that the people i interacted with were not necessarily more intelligent or well-read than the urbanites, but there was more real human contact. I discussed politics with a friend who is running for office, and his campaign manager, etc. I don't have more hope, but I was somewhat heartened by the far less rigid carapace of ideological protectiveness.

It also feels like the empire's decay and crudeness is not so pervasive. There were no Black Friday crowds - of course, that is helped by the fact that the town has lost 30% of its population since I left 25 years ago. People seem to care about their fellow citizens more, e.g., a donation bucket in the local coffee shop for a local resident dealing with cancer. Local art on the wall. Locally written and edited books about history, etc.

Do rural/provincial areas tend to do better or worse in the declining phase of empire?

Book note: I read William Ophuls' short but nicely concentrated book, Immoderate Greatness: Why Civilizations Fail.

I derived no hope from his book, but profited from the analysis of why collapse/decay is not stoppable. So I have even less angst now about spending time and energy on political reform or arguments.

Has Prof. Berman, or other WAFers, read any of Ophuls works?

Short vignette of the north: I'm in my mid-40's, but I "got in trouble" on the way north. A very plump, middle-aged woman felt that I had cut her off re-entering the rural highway from a gas station. What really happened? I saw her headlights a mile back, but got on the highway and gunned it, so that her car wouldn't blind me with snow if I were behind her. She thought my move was risky.

Anyway, she followed us for 50 miles, pulled into my mom's driveway, and demanded to talk to my mom, and proceeded to report my crimes. She also yelled at two poor hapless children riding their bikes in the snow. Their crime: not wearing helmets.

2:08 PM  
Anonymous Lubavitcher Ribeye said...

Fascinating post, Dr. Berman.

While we're on the subject of the United States going through major economic/political upheavals, how do you think that will materialize geographically? Do you see a Conservastan forming in the Old South and the United States of Canada forming in the North?

I'm personally dreading the future of the Northeast - I met with some younger people (all liberal and all have masters degrees from top schools) and they are convinced that Obama is a great leader who has to "stay the course" in Afghanistan. It makes me wonder what the majority of the folks were thinking when they voted for Obama here by a 2-1 margin.

2:50 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and Wafers,

Wafers, MB-

Well, the first leg of the Holiday Season is over for me: praise be to Heaven. The obligation to visit *family* each season is becoming more and more bothersome and a pain in the ass. I was in rural Missouri of all places, visiting my older brother and his folks for the past five days. Jesus, what a collection of morons. Yes, for five straight days, I had nothing short of an outta body experience as these people did nothing except stare into screens, graze, and dream of going shopping... or shooting. Indeed, some wanted to take me to the local gun range to pop off a few rounds. When I objected, it immediately raised their fixed assumptions and suspicions.

Additionally, the last three days of my visit rendered me completely mute. And, of course, "visit" is really a non sequitur as any kind of dialogue or conversation besides the trivial with this crowd was virtually impossible. Oh, the horror of it all, Wafers. Truth be told, bidding adieu to these buffoons was the happiest day of my life; up there with sitting down if front of the perfect pastrami Reuben. I tell ya, the shit I observed down in the proverbial Heartland can only be described as the darkest of the dark. It gave me the willies, Wafers... the willies.

Meanwhile:

This coulda been me...

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

And the latest from Japan...

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/12/robot-handjobs-vr-tenga_n_4261161.html

Jeff

2:51 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Pub-

A discussion of Ophuls' bk can be found in the Archive of previous posts. Woman who followed u is a true American, imo.

Banana-

I don't know if Japan is in austerity mode, but the neoliberal bent of the current gov't there is not a gd omen. The contrary data to yr vision are the post-capitalist alternative expts, esp. widespread in Europe. Of course, this doesn't mean they'll succeed--but, they might.
Check out recent bk by Dan Hancox, e.g.

Jas-

Gd pt! We might be a tragicomedy show for them.

Show me another blog where pastrami, UFO's, the social media, alternative post-capitalist expts, and John Rockefeller get discussed w/in the space of a few hrs. I really feel bad for all the non-Wafers out there.

mb

3:02 PM  
Anonymous Kanye West said...

If you had to guess, will there be secession movements in the United States or will it become a bigger version of the Orwellian Neofeudal Security state it already is now?

4:38 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Kanye-

There already is one in VT; I gave the keynote address at their annual mtg, Sept. 2012.

rebbe-

No way to know. What I *can* tell u is that history is inevitably messy and nonlinear, and heavily subject to the law of unintended consequences. As for young people, they are just as stupid as old people, at least in the US, if not more so. Don't be looking to them for hope.

Jeff-

Trust me: it can only get worse. As for Japan: thank you. I'm collecting anything I can get rt now on the economy, otaku, and Japanese culture in general.

mb

8:27 PM  
Anonymous Savantesimal said...

Re: the reason for the belief in UFOs.

This is the modern form of Apocalypticism. Back when the Roman Empire ruled more-or-less the known world and no one could imagine how it could possibly ever be overthrown, there were many cults preaching some catastrophic end of the world. One of them was -- Christianity! :) Think about it, what is the message still present in this religion, even after it was co-opted by the very Empire it was reacting against? ---> "Get ready for the End of the World, because God might show up at any moment and overthrow everything." Many other movements of the time had similar views even if they used different names for the god(s) who would bring on the end.

Now here we are in a world ruled even more completely by a shadowy force that might be called "Capitalism" or maybe something else. The real rulers are behind the scenes, unlike the old style of direct rule, but still very much in control and people feel it even if they think they live in "democratic" societies. No one can imagine how to get out of this world system. Or as others have said, and been cited on this blog "It is now easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism" (Fredric Jameson, apparently). Yeah, that's how the rank and file Roman citizens felt about the Empire, too. So what's the modern equivalent of "divine intervention"? In a world-view based on techno-progress is has to be other civilizations from other worlds, who will of course be vastly more advanced than our current rulers.

The exact form of the imagined intervention varies, of course. Some people expect an invasion by enslavers or predators (cf. The Puppet Masters by Heinlein or the Twilight episode To Serve Man) and some expect a sort of graduation into the larger universe (cf. Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke). But it's always an outside force beyond control of the current rulers, because their control here is so complete.

9:00 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

More on the theme of "progressives" who have their heads up their asses:

An article at vice.com describes how many major liberal news outlets (Mother Jones, Democracy Now) exploits unpaid interns while railing on about how horrible economic inequality is. Here is one nice quote:

"Meanwhile, Democracy Now!, the venerable progressive broadcast hosted by journalist Amy Goodman, requires interns at its new, LEED Platinum–certified office in Manhattan to work for free for two months, for a minimum of 20 hours a week, after which “a $15 expense allowance is provided on days you work five or more hours.”"

http://www.vice.com/read/the-exploited-laborers-of-the-liberal-media

Mother Jones Reportedly Told Its Interns to Go on Food Stamps Because It Pays So Little

http://www.thewire.com/culture/2013/12/mother-jones-told-its-interns-go-food-stamps-because-it-didnt-pay-them-enough/355654/

9:34 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Megan,

You are rare among Americans; take away the material possessions from most Americans and there’s usually nothing left. My high school back in 50’s was saturated with your former colleagues’ attitude. While none of my teaching experience has been in American public schools, I know quite a few teachers who tell me about their troubles.

I get the impression that the idea of raising students from working to middle class is now a forgotten dream, and teachers are becoming aware that they themselves are not highly regarded by the general population. They too are now asked the same cruel blame-the-victim question that most other Americans must answer: “If you’re so smart, why ain’t you rich?” Many college and university teachers also complain about this attitude in their students.

I guess this attitude has been present to some extent throughout American history. I once quoted a long comment that Alfred North Whitehead made to a journalist in 1943 – here’s a bit of it:

"One of the great fallacies of American thinking is that human worth is constituted by a particular set of aptitudes which lead to economic advancement. This is not true at all. Two thirds of the people who can make money are mediocre; and at least one half of them are morally at a low level. As a whole, they are vastly inferior to other types who are not animated by the economic motives; I mean the artists, and teachers, and professional people who do work which they love for its own sake and earn about enough to get along on. This habitual elevation of the type of ability that leads to economic advancement is one of the worst mistakes in your American thinking…"

And it only gets worse as we sink into the depths of Dark Age America.

David Rosen

9:54 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Sav-

It *is* a perfect metaphor, when u think abt it, and no surprise that it shd get dressed up in whiz-bang advanced technology.

Mike-

Don't pay any attn to what they say; pay attn to what they do. This is a strong clue to the kind of world we wd have, if they were in power. Gross!

mb

10:25 PM  
Anonymous Megan said...

Dovidel,

Great quote by Whitehead. Yes, the great myth of American capitalism is that it rewards the most skilled and intelligent, when in reality it only rewards the most aggressively acquisitive. I guess we are misfits here, but that kind of "success" just has absolutely no appeal for me. The fact that someone has a BMW or earns $100,000 per month, just makes me want to yawn. But a bloke who can write a beautiful sonnet, or who can read Beowulf in the original Old English--now that's something I find impressive!

I wonder, though, if it's even worth trying to bring working people "up" into the middle class? Most middle class jobs these days are so alienating, and so far removed from anything real (think technocrats in cubicles), that I honestly believe one is better off just cutting grass, paving roads, or building houses. At least that kind of work has dignity, and doesn't erode away your humanity.

Plus, in the midst of the Kali Yuga Dark Age, one might as well hang out in the sun as much as possible!

1:45 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

I saw this on the conductor Lorin Maazel's site:

Lorin Maazel's take on Kim's rump.

3:00 AM  
Anonymous ellen said...


As Chomsky is currently taking a lot of flak as a gatekeeper of opinion and discussion on the subject, a timely film featuring academics looking at the academic response to the events of 9/11:

'As well as probing the repercussions several scholars have endured due to their investigation of 9/11, this documentary provides an analysis of impairments in professional inquiry, ranging from the failure to critically reflect on terms functioning as thought-stoppers (such as “conspiracy theory”) to the structural approach that restricts inquiry to the broad implications of 9/11 while shutting out enquiry into the events of the day itself. Morton Brussel, Professor Emeritus of Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has stated: “The main thesis of the film concerns the silence of the academic community on this vital issue. I think it is extremely important and very well produced.” '

scroll down for a trailer:

http://911inacademia.com/

Shep,

Some good, 'new-to-me' perspective on Mr Perry's site, and very interesting video talks. I wasn't aware how powerfully Marcus Garvey had figured in US black history before.

7:45 AM  
Anonymous Troutbum said...


Dr. MB and fellow WAFers:

Today, I bring your attention to yet another missive by Dr. Henry Giroux. He is , of course, spot on.

Quoting directly:

"The language of stupidity replaces reason as scientific evidence is disparaged or suppressed, thoughtful exchange gives way to emotional tirades, violence becomes the primary means for solving problems, and anger is substituted for informed arguments. Unsurprisingly, any viable sense of social responsibility disappears beyond the fortressed enclaves of ever-more-sequestered lives while various ideological fundamentalists assert their judgments of the world with a certainty that brands dissent, moral inquiry and critical questioning as excessive and threatening.....A savage market fundamentalism relentlessly denigrates public values, criminalizes social problems, and produces a manufactured fatalism and culture of fear while waging a fundamental assault upon the very conditions that make politics possible.

It's all here:
http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/20307-hope-in-the-age-of-looming-authoritarianism

8:02 AM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Dr. B

Yes, I really had that dream. It was very intense and it was the first time I dreamt about anything in a long time. I did drink a couple cups of sleepy time tea that previous night with vanilla in it. I do have a form of sleep apnea so the tea does help with that.

The dream did enlighten me to something which leads me to ask some questions. What if the issues with our nations is not the political or economic systems but what if the issue is our nation and various other nations are simply to big? What if having a small nation or a loosely associated town-states is a better way to go? Could the nation state and the idea behind it be a failure because it eventually reaches the point of diminishing returns and a big nation simply can't be managed effectively?

In my dream, I was given a bird's eye view of other areas. There were no nation states. The world mainly consisted of small towns and communes. There were different governments as well including communistic and participatory democracy. WAFerism and the deli meats was just one way.

It wasn't utopia. People still drank to much. Floods and Natural disasters still happened. Sometimes there was the occasional panty raid. Sometimes children scraped their knees and broke their arms while playing different outside games. Sometimes kids broke things by accident while in the house or in stores. Kids were made to be responsible and had to help pay for all or part of it. Sometimes the occasional theft happen by children again they were made to repay what they stole or give back what they stole. Crime was a rare occurrence.

My dream was weird and intense. I don't know what it means assuming dreams even have meaning to them. There are some cultures, both in the past and the present, that believe some dreams may show the future or at least a possible one. I don't know if this is true or not. I don't believe there is any scientific proof of this.

Megan

What did you used to teach? What was your subject? What was the final straw that made you quit teaching?

9:11 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

cube-

Well, an amazing dream. Perhaps it represents the world as you'd like it to be. As for issue of size, yes, to be sure, and we've discussed it a lot on this blog in terms of Dual Process, eco-decentralization-sustainability, secessionist movements, and so on.

ellen-

Nice trailer (I guess), but once again I hafta reiterate that this blog is not the place for 9/11 speculation. I'm getting kinda tired of saying that I'm getting kinda tired of saying this, quite frankly. Nor am I in 'denial'; I just don't give a damn, and for a whole host of reasons previously listed (and more than once). One of these is that if academics get down to it, and manage to prove that yes, it was indeed an inside job, it won't make the slightest bit of difference, politically speaking. Not that I have any objection to Griffin & Co. pursuing the topic; if that's how they want to spend their time, I can hardly object to the attempt to uncover the 'real story' (whatever it proves to be). But it's not how I wish to spend *my* time, and I'm not interested in having discussions of it potentially swallowing up this blog. As far as I'm concerned, there are more impt things to discuss.

I do want to pt out, however, something seriously misleading in that trailer: the claim that the 'academic community' (as tho it were monolithic) has accepted the gov't narrative as laid out in the Report of the 9/11 Commission. This is simply not true. Chomsky has pted out that we have no proof that Osama orchestrated the event; Akbar Ahmed has argued that the core of the matter is the tribal effort to survive, not Islamic jihad (which I discuss in my 9/11 lecture at Wash&Lee University). In fact, I wd venture to say that more than half the academic community is persuaded by the argument originally made by Susan Sontag in the New Yorker, and followed up by Michael Scheuer (2004), myself (2006), and many others, that the real story is our history of meddling in the Middle East. None of this got mentioned in the public govt 10th anniversary discussions of 9/11, which gave the usual crap about how an evil enemy came outta nowhere etc.--even tho the CIA routinely talks abt blowback. *That*, to me, is the story that is being suppressed (cf. what happened to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright in 2008), and that's a much bigger fish (again, to me) than a purported tale of an inner cabal setting up the event. In other words, I agree w/much of the the academic community that the enemy is w/in; it's just that this 'enemy' is a foreign policy tow'd Islam that goes back at least to 1953, and even further back, a foreign policy that believes the US shd be a model for the rest of the world and shd control that world, militarily if necessary.

Anyway, enuf w/discussions of 9/11 as an inside job. I do appreciate your concern; I just can't keep reciting my position on the topic over and over again.

mb

10:43 AM  
Anonymous Zapo Zapo said...

In March of 2012, Kalief Browder says he ripped the sheets off his bed inside a jail cell at Rikers Island, and fashioned a noose from the ceiling. According to Browder, just as he was about to hang himself, New York City Correction officers stormed into the cell and grabbed him, tackled him to the bed, and punched him repeatedly.

Browder, who joined HuffPost Live for an interview Monday, says he was punished for the suicide attempt, one of five or six such attempts during his three-year stay at the notoriously violent New York City jail. Correction officers "starved" him, he says, withholding up to four meals at a time while he languished in solitary confinement.

And all for a crime for which he was never convicted.

In 2010, a complete stranger accused Kalief Browder, then just 16 years old, of robbing him. Browder was walking home in the Bronx from a party one night when police officers stopped and arrested him. Browder says officers told him he'd probably be freed later that night. Instead, Browder would go on to spend three birthdays on Rikers.

This past January, Browder was offered a deal: Plead guilty and be sentenced to time served, or plead not guilty, and if convicted, face another 15 years in jail. Browder, who has always maintained his innocence, refused to plead guilty, and in June, charges against him were suddenly dropped.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/02/kalief-browder_n_4373544.html

Genocide in the making, completely engineered and maintained by the survivors of Hitler's Nazi camps!

10:55 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Zapo-

Given the article, yr conclusion is a bit of a nonsequitur. Yr saying that Jews did this? I hope not.

mb

11:24 AM  
Anonymous Bingo said...

MB,

I regretfully must report that Amy Goodman just could not restrain herself anymore, so today she dedicated her entire program to the deification of Noam Chomsky. First, she interviewed an idiotic French animator who apparently produced an animated documentary about Chomsky’s life. We’re talking major Chomsky worship here! In the second part of her show she showed Chomsky himself in what I can only describe as a wild and out-of-control self-congratulatory backslapping orgy. Most embarrassingly, Amy was visibly having an orgasm every time she said “Chomsky”... which she said lots and lots of times...

Here are the links:

Animating Noam Chomsky: French Director Michel Gondry on New Film "Is the Man Who is Tall Happy?"

http://www.democracynow.org/2013/12/3/animating_noam_chomsky_french_director_michel?autostart=true

Noam Chomsky on Education & How “Manufacturing Consent” Brought Attention to East Timor Massacres

http://www.democracynow.org/2013/12/3/noam_chomsky_on_education_how_manufacturing?autostart=true

Julian

11:52 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Julian-

Well, I haven't seen any of this stuff, and I realize that Amy is desperate to keep the hope of a reformed America alive. But let's keep this in perspective: Noam really is a heroic figure. When nobody was willing to call the US gov't on its foreign policy, he was, and he understood what we were doing in the world. He had to publish his bks w/virtually invisible presses, and endure the scorn of mainstream academics and journalists. I don't agree w/Noam on a # of things--we actually met in 1982 or 83 and argued a lot--but he remains, when all is said and done, the conscience of the nation. I expect that the turnout at his funeral will be enormous. As for Amy: she really needs to get herself a couple of hobbies, clearly.

mb

12:25 PM  
Anonymous Deborah said...

It's pleasant to imagine that communities such as this might survive and even thrive in the future.
http://www.versobooks.com/books/1490-the-village-against-the-world

12:38 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Deb-

Yes, a happy story in the Dual Process vein that I've talked abt. Be sure 2 check out the Alternet rev by my pal, Nomi Prins. This kind of socioeconomic formation may be our only hope, in a post-capitalist world--if it doesn't just remain a 'fringe' type of operation. The NMI concept was foreshadowed by Huxley in Brave New World, where he talks abt 'reservations' on the margins of the larger society, where an alternate tradition is preserved. What a catastrophe capitalism proved to be. Have you read "Gain," by Richard Powers?

mb

1:04 PM  
Anonymous joe hohos said...

WAFer's,

A nice, concise history of our gov't spying on Americans which I think many of you might enjoy.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mmad6q6s_n0

3:42 PM  
Anonymous Kevin said...

Per both UFOs and alternative societal lifestyles, here's Tainter (page 122 from "The Collapse of Complex Societies") on 'scanning': "The system as a whole engages in 'scanning' behavior, seeking alternatives that might provide a preferable adaptation. This scanning may result in the adoption by segments of the society of a variety of new ideologies and life-styles, many of them of foreign derivation (such as the proliferation of new religions in Imperial Rome)."

So that's how we ended up with the sickness of monotheism. Terence McKenna makes the same point (before Tainter) about the UFO phenomenon being the same kind of reaction in the 1940s and on (though clearly one that has never "caught on" with the general populace).

This isn't to say that one shouldn't 'scan'. (Isn't that what we're all doing?) I recently asked a young man who had "dropped out" and become a permaculture designer - which I wholeheartedly applaud and support - whether he ever thought of his choices in term of 'scanning'.

4:17 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Kev-

This fits the framework described by Kuhn in "Structure of Scientific Revolutions." The paradigm-shift is basically a leap of faith, because it occurs b4 all the "data" are in. Historically, the hold of capitalism on Europe has been much weaker than on America, so we can expect 2c more alternative, post-capitalist expts arising there. Over here, the hold of the American Dream is fierce, so the 'scanning' tends to take place *within* the paradigm; which is bankrupt. (Barbara Ehrenreich's bks are particularly good on this pt.)
It also means that paradigm-shift and social change in the US will be fairly tame and fairly lame (see Joel Magnuson's latest bk--lots of 'green' and 'holistic' businesses around that do the same ol' shit but w/a bunch of chic buzzwords).

The reality is that US presents us w/the specter of a hollow shell, mouthing slogans like Freedom and Democracy, but not really living them (if it ever did). To shore itself up, to make the shell seem real, it has the military; which is now being turned on the citizenry itself--a classic case of overkill, since the citizenry still buys into the slogans, and is not really aware that the emperor is naked (except perhaps on an unconscious level). Nor is there any need to get all emotional abt this, pro or con: this is what happens to all empires in the final phase. Since, pace Amy Goodman, there is no reversing this process, there is finally only one question each of us has to ask ourselves: What is really important to me? Answer that honestly, from the deepest part of yrself, and you've got a life--even in these troubling times.

mb

4:41 PM  
Blogger Publius said...

Well, Detroit went bankrupt. The largest municipal bankruptcy in US history! And now the fun really begins, as the unions and banks and hedge funds start fighting over the scraps.

Not just an omen of the future: the literal future!

Detroit, where the American Dream/Nightmare was largely manufactured, is fittingly enough showing us the future.

I once talked about Prof. Berman's book WAF at work, with my colleagues (tech writers). No fruitful discussion. The closest was someone bringing up Thomas Friedman's latest book as something related to WAF.

So what am I doing here? I am starting to ask myself that question too often for comfort. The shackles in my mind are fraying, but are there.

5:04 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Pub-

Get seriously involved w/my work and you'll have no friends and no one to talk to. You'll be an exile in yr own country. The upside: you won't be wallowing in bullshit.

mb

5:46 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and Wafers,

MB, Julian-

I suggest we create a care package for Amy Goodman:

1. K-Y Jelly and crowbar.

2. Complimentary weekend stay at a bermanic monastery (more info. @ bermanicmonasteries.com).

3. Admission ticket to the International Wafer Summit Conference(IWSC) in Ireland, 1-5 June 2015.

Meanwhile:

Grandpa Jones props his little granddaughter on his knee after a hearty Thanksgiving dinner and says, "Libby-pie, what big Holiday follows Thanksgiving?" Libby, looking a bit perplexed, shrieks "Black Friday!"

O&D, Wafers!

Jeff

5:52 PM  
Blogger GregJS said...

Two books I’m reading form an interesting contrast. One is DAA. The other – by one of my favorite writers on India, Alain Danielou – is Virtue, Success, Pleasure, and Liberation. (Finding it at the used bookstore was the extent of my Black Friday shopping; not very American of me, but I did make sure to elbow a few people in the face just to be in the proper spirit of things.) I’m about ½ way through both.

With recent posts covering both 9/11 and Jewish (yikes) conspiracy theories and UFOs, I feel emboldened to bring up the topic Danielou focuses on in the first part of his book: the benefits of the caste system. Now, I’ve always assumed that saying anything good about the caste system is taboo – meaning, of all the aspects of traditional culture, a formal caste system is something we’re supposed to be unambiguously glad to be rid of. It’s the epitome of exploitative, dehumanizing oppression (as it may have become, but perhaps only after British rule?). Still, Danielou makes a case for its value – even its necessity – although his case rests on assumptions so different from those we in the modern west make about the nature of life as to be almost unintelligible from our POV. So I won’t even try to present his case. I’ll just say that, unlike so many who write about Indian culture, Danielou doesn’t recoil from what’s offensive to the western mentality or try to prove that India is “good” by western standards; and so he can offer a truly alternative view on how to organize society so that it isn’t guaranteed to quickly go down the Dark Age tubes. This makes a fascinating contrast with the grotesque, doomed picture of American culture Dr. B expertly paints in DAA – i.e., our hopeless entanglement in a mechanism reworking the entire globe to serve narrow market interests.

In contrast, a caste-system provides the benefits of civilization (specialization) without turning people into cogs in a value-destroying, world-consuming machine. Each ethnic group is incorporated into the larger society without having to give up its unique and essential character, customs, values, and identity in the name of abstract “equality.” In other words, it’s not “You are free to get with the program or be exterminated.”

Of course, there’s no way in hell we’re ever going to reshape our society along these lines. A caste-based culture is predicated on people having a basic sense of completeness and therefore not seeking false compensations. That minimal sense of completeness is long gone in the west. Feeling incomplete is the hell we’re in; and no way in this particular hell are we going to accept any limitation on our compensatory striving. So really, I’m just throwing this out there for anyone interested in alternatives to modernity for the sake of their NMI/scanning pursuits.

10:49 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Greg-

It's an interesting topic to think about. Way back in 1984 (I think it was; I believe I cite this in WAF), Jackson Lears made the pts that

a) There really isn't a watershed difference between, let's say, The National Review and The Nation; i.e., between the Right and the Left in the US. Both were committed to 'growth' and 'progress' and technological innovation;

b) It may be that the real radicalism is to look backward and to see what was valuable in the societies that got discarded in the rush to modernity.

I agree w/both of these pts; except that when u try to make this arg, you get labeled as a 'feudalist', 'pro-slaveryist', 'regressive', and so on. But the truth--as Gene Genovese pts out--is that one can be repulsed by modern capitalist society as 'affluent depravity', w/o simultaneously embracing the downside of traditional societies or the premodern era. Ultimately, there is no utopia, and every socioeconomic formation has its shadow side: as those who are alive 50 yrs from now are going to learn. But when I am accused of just wanting to go back to the past, what I say in response is that (contra Nietzsche) history is not a circle. Yes, I believe in a cyclical theory of the rise and fall of civs--what cd be more obvious, from examining the historical record?--but this does not mean that we shall get the past in the form of the past. I see things more like a helix. There might be a return to all sorts of premodern elements--and like Gary Snyder, I think that wd be gd, depending on the elements (house calls by doctors, for example, wh/existed a mere 40 yrs ago)--but this doesn't mean that a post-capitalist, postmodern formation wd be a simple repeat of, say, the Middle Ages. Not a chance. We know too much now, and by 2100, after 600 yrs of capitalism and tech innovation, we will surely not just wake up in A.D. 1400. It's interesting to compare what might be similar between 1400 and, say, 2100: e.g., homeostatic (no-growth) economy; sustainability; high degree of decentralization; local life, smaller communities; and so on. But if this does come to pass, it won't be in the form of medieval Provencal villages. It will inevitably incorporate elements acquired during the modern period, and therefore be a different type of creature. Maybe it will involve some sort of caste system; I have no idea. But as Dual Process deepens, we shall perhaps move toward a type of medieval modernism, or postmodern medievalism, if one can imagine such a thing. And of course I'm hoping it'll be better than what we've got now, but there are no guarantees.

I think it was Wittgenstein who said that when a civilization dies, its spirit hovers over the civilization that replaced it.

mb

11:38 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

While speculation about what a “post-capitalist, postmodern formation” is fun, exactly who or what stops those who “committed to 'growth' and 'progress' and technological innovation” (capitalism)? I’m assuming that you don’t just expect someone to go up to Bill Gates and Lloyd Blankfein tomorrow put a gun to their heads and say “stop”. Doesn’t this hardly minor detail deserve to fleshed out, esp when you consider that millions of people for hundreds of years have tried to put an end to capitalism?

I recall some vague talk about capitalism running out of “resources” like oil. But even if we run out of oil, I still don’t see how that turns Bill and Lloyd and the gang into impoverished ditch diggers incapable of switching to alternatives like nuclear or even back to coal which fueled capitalism for a century. Such a world would look different that today, but it could hardly be described as post-capitalist. Sorry to be such a party pooper.

3:58 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Zos-

It's a gd question, tho I think there is a vast amt of lit by now about resource stress and the fact that there really are limits to growth, based on that. Nuclear energy is proving to be increasingly problematic, and there isn't an infinite supply of coal around--or of anything, really, which is the conceit on which capitalism is based. As far as people trying to put a stop to capitalism for hundreds of years: sure, but not to growth. The goal was better distribution of wealth, not an end to the project of economic expansion and endless tech innovation. The USSR was hardly uninterested in the latter, for example, and in general socialism was just the flip side of the coin--not a different coin. Politically and ecologically, capitalism is becoming increasingly dysfunctional; and economically as well: 2008 was only a harbinger of things to come.

I suspect the real problem will not be the durability of capitalism, but the relations of power. That seems to weather and trump everything, including identity politics, wh/is clearly a red herring in this regard. Folks like Gates and Blankfein don't care *what* the system is, or what one might call it, as long as they remain on top. Hence, Hedges' dark vision of neofeudalism, backed by the security-surveillance state, could well be in the cards. In such a world, there might indeed be no growth and limited tech innovation, but with a tiny ruling class at the top being serviced by the bottom 99.9%. Thus I think the issue we might better be discussing is not whether capitalism will last past 2100--that's not very likely--but whether we are going to get a decentralized, eco-sustainable world or a sharp socioeconomic pyramid ruled by an iron hand.

mb

5:36 AM  
Anonymous teri schooley said...

Dr. Berman,

Nomi Prins - brilliant, brilliant woman. On behalf of the human species, and without knowing her marital status, I would suggest you abandon dreams of copulation with the Village Idiot (Sarah Palin) and instead focus on producing offspring with Nomi. Just a thought.

I hope you don't mind if I put in a plug for her here; this link takes one to a list of her articles:
http://www.nomiprins.com/articles/

Re: alternative societies, I thought Naomi Klein wrote a very good article two years ago about how capitalism cannot be the form of economics which will deal with climate change. The "liberals" hated her article, mostly, it seems, because she posited that the issue requires such fundamental changes in how we think about our spending, our economy, and our values that such radical changes could not be "sold" to "the other side". I.e., too much hard thinking and hard work involved. Everyone wants easy-bake solutions to every problem. Aside from the scorn heaped on her from the liberals, her article went nowhere.
http://www.thenation.com/article/164497/capitalism-vs-climate?page=0,0

Best,
Teri

5:55 AM  
Anonymous Jerome Langguth said...

Dear Dr. Berman and Wafers,

For the bulging techno-buffoon files, this video offers a preview of some of what Google has in store for us. Drones delivering Morris Berman books is only the beginning. Google promises authenticating electronic vitamins (so Google knows you took your medicine?), wearable electronic identification in the form of cool tattoos, and presumably much more. The Google researcher in the video acknowledges that there is still a "mechanical mismatch between humans and electronics", but they are working on it.

http://www.brasschecktv.com/videos/the-surveillance-state/its-cool-to-wear-the-mark-of-the-beast-.html

Jerome

5:55 AM  
Anonymous ellen said...

Who is to say that a decentralised, eco-sustainable world will not just be a conglomeration of smaller socioeconomic pyramids ruled by a multitude of traditionalist iron fists--and is this the progress or regression?
I always found Orwell's 'Animal Farm' to be a much sharper observation of the way that humans traditionally organise themselves ( might makes right) than even '1984'.

Dr B,
You misconstrue my reasons for posting the link about academics responding to 9/11. I don't subscribe to the 'inside job' theory since I know far too little of the forensic evidence remaining after the event (as do we all, currently) to formulate any kind of theory of what happened. I would however, like to see a rigorous professional investigation of such a world and game changing event--which has not yet happened.
It is odd that London's tube disaster of July 2007--quickly attributed to terrorist bombs--suffers from a similar lack of open forensic investigation, with the debris similarly swiftly disposed of and no real searching investigation carried out into what looks very like a catastrophic infrastructure malfunction, rather than a straightforward terrorist bombing.

Without an open fearless investigation how do we ever further knowledge for all of us, even those of us of the ignorant, untouchable caste?
However, I know that you do not want that discussion on this blog so will not mention the taboo signifier '9/11' again. My link was for information purposes only, since the taboo subject nevertheless keeps cropping up in tangential fashion, blowback against Chomsky being only the latest manifestation.

6:34 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

Dr Berman,
If Mother Nature turns out *not* to be a real player, I vote for "a sharp socioeconomic pyramid ruled by an iron hand", otherwise there will not be a 2100.
_______________
Ellen,
Please e-mail me shepherd2121atteleclipsedot net. Would like to discuss Mr Perry with you, if you care to. If not, I understand.

7:13 AM  
Anonymous sanctuary! said...

An obstacle to societal evolution (or societal scanning) is the strong bias for seeing the latest time as the end of time. Eschatology has been around a while, but now we're sandbagged by the secularized version (see WAF, pp. 81, 82) where history is progress toward a final pinnacle, plus Am's take on this, wh/ is "we are it! We are the pinnacle! We are the ultimate!" Fukuyama's book "The End of History" is an example of this viewpoint.

I appreciate the life-giving contrary perspective of comparing year 2100 and year 1400. It's heartening b/c it means we do have a future - of some kind. The "end of history" viewpoint really means there is no future. The End is death. At the top of a pinnacle, there is nowhere to go: no movement, rigor mortis.

Prob'ly the pinnacle bias will die hard, b/c it is so ingrained by educ, culture, adverts*, everything. So maybe we shd expect a sort of paralysis to linger for this reason in addition to uncertainty, depression, and repression.

(*Adverts do promise better gadgets in the future, but gadgets aren't a future.)

8:34 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

shep-

You may get yr wish! (altho I hope not)

ellen-

You cd be rt, altho I think it more likely that there might be a diversity of forms. Animal Farm is hardly the only model around. The secessionist movement in VT, for example, looks very different from the one in TX. As for 9/11, as I said, I have no objection to a full and fearless investigation of the subject; I just don't wanna be doing it myself.

Jer-

Personally, I won't be satisfied until every American has an obligatory cell phone shoved up their ass. (Dialing wd take place via sphincter control.)

teri-

Not completely nowhere. I picked up on it in essays called "la longue duree" and "waning of the modern ages," if memory serves (Archived on this blog), and delivered these as lectures 2 or 3 times. But given my nonvisibility, yeah, I guess that's nowhere. The Left can't handle no-growth, or a chg in the def of 'progress'. The Nation has just come out for Hillary in 2016--what a joke.

mb

9:51 AM  
Anonymous Dave said...

"...He had to publish his bks w/virtually invisible presses, and endure the scorn of mainstream academics and journalists. I don't agree w/Noam on a # of things--we actually met in 1982 or 83 and argued a lot..."

To be a fly on those walls...

Two questions:

1) Can you recall what you and Noam Chomsky argued about?

2) Could you go into a couple of the things that you currently disagree about? I can imagine it would mostly have to do with the foundational stuff like views of fatalism vs almost blind optimism in the United States etc... Or are there some specifics, like his views on the Al-Shifa bombing etc, or something.

I respect you both (highly) and am just a little curious to hear how you react against each other

10:53 AM  
Anonymous Santa Chaz said...

Some gift suggestions for the Wafer on your list.
1. Cooperation without concern.
2. Unquestionable assertions.
3. Refined analytical techniques.
4. Their very own religion.
5. Unmitigated audacity.
6. Functional irregularities.
7. Unwarranted nonsense.
8. Liberation from reflexes.
9. Reconsidered conclusions.
10. Field-tested receptivity.

12:36 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Santa-

What a list! I love it! Just add chopped liver and we're home.

Dave-

It was abt the role of culture in US foreign policy. Noam was completely blind on this score; it was just a question of politics for him, nothing more. I came away thinking that his mind was like the space between 2 parallel lines: infinite in 1 direction, very narrow in the other. Just by comparison, Noam met Gregory Bateson at one pt, and reported that he found him incomprehensible. To me, that said a lot (abt Noam, not abt Gregory).

As for present disagreements: I have the impression Noam is a Marxist progressive: we are going to overthrow capitalism, eventually, and usher in a world of democratic socialism. Who, pray tell, is 'we'? The collection of morons who leave hate mail on his answering machine? The bulk of the nation that thinks Darwin got it wrong? And once we have socialism, with its commitment to economic expansión and technological innovation--what then? u.c. the problem: leave culture, ecology, and spirituality out of yr analysis, and it's not much of an analysis.

mb

3:14 PM  
Blogger Himanshu Tiwari said...

GregJS and Dr. Berman,

I have heard of Alain Danielou but I am not familiar with his works. I do know that he was a faculty member at Benares Hindu University (BHU) in Varanasi (Benares), India. I was born in Varanasi (some say it’s the oldest living city in the world) but lived there only for the first year and half of my life. My father got his degrees from BHU.

The best piece of writing on caste system that I know of in English is by Sri Aurobindo. He discusses the caste system in his book (a collection of essays) titled “The Foundations of Indian Culture” and another book called “The Human Cycle- The Psychology of Social Development” (The pdf versions are free online). I highly recommend both these books. Anyone familiar with Sri Aurobindo’s writings will say that his writing style is “Edwardian English” and it tends to be quite dense with a lot of compound sentences – Just a FYI.

Dr. Berman,

I wanted to share something with you that I have been very sheepish and deeply embarrassed to say. When I learnt that you were coming to Lexington, VA to give a talk I wanted to give you the book “The Foundations of Indian Culture” by Sri Aurobindo (I picked this book because you are a cultural historian) as a token of gratitude and appreciation for all the useful and deep knowledge that I have gained from your works. But I misplaced the book and could not find it in time. I found it about a week ago. If it is ok with you I can mail it to you. You can email me your address to himanshutiwari@yahoo.com

Regards,
Himanshu

5:48 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Himan-

No need to be embarrassed. Altho if you need to discharge yr guilt, pls pack in with the book

1. Chicken tikka masala
2. Pappadam
3. Raita
4. Mango chutney
5. Keema naan
6. Mango lassi.

Namaste-

mb

6:02 PM  
Anonymous Megan said...

Himanshu,

I agree with you entirely on Sri. Aurobindo's "Foundations of Indian Culture." I actually have two copies myself. In my opinion, Sri. Aurobindo is unequivocally the greatest thinker in Indian history, and without a doubt their finest prose stylist.

Funny, I was going to recommend "Foundations" in relation to the "caste system discussion", but I see that you beat me to it!

6:26 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Hack-

No more on 9/11. Bo-ring! I'm not kidding. Thanks.

mb

8:11 PM  
Blogger GregJS said...

Dr. B,
I’m a big fan of looking backwards at what’s been discarded in the rush to modernity. It’s probably to be expected that people who are sold on modern, mono-culture capitalism will oversimplify and label anyone who looks backwards as feudalist, regressive, and all that. Oversimplifying is their M.O., after all. But your way of responding to that mindset – by pointing out that old, discarded social-political formations do not have to be (and cannot be) brought back in their old form – is a good one. And I guess an appropriate example for these types of people, since they usually claim to be “lovers of democracy,” is democracy itself, revived in a new form by our founding fathers after a few millennia of lying in the dustbin – and continually tweaked, although not usually for the better, right up to the present moment. (The part about how we won’t ever wake up one day and find ourselves in medieval Provence is a bit of a come-down, though. Any chance you’re wrong on that one? Please?)

Himanshu,
Aurobindo has been on my radar screen as someone to check out for a long time now, but it just never seems like quite the right time to dive in. I do realize reading him will require some serious work on my end. Thanks for the recommendations, which probably just moved him up a notch or two in my ever-growing reading list. And I probably will start with one of the books you named since they seem likely to line up with my areas of current interest.

Oh – I see Megan has now just emphatically seconded the recommendation: “greatest thinker in Indian history!” Whoa! This could lead to a major reshuffling of my stack of books! As a matter of fact, why don’t you just go ahead and send me that second copy of yours, Megan – and, modest person that I am, I’ll only ask for a side order of pakoras to go with it. Ah what the heck, thrown in a couple gulab jamun as well.

9:26 PM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...

MB,

Did you actually sign off with Namaste? Does this mean we should send somebody to your home in Mexico and look for a pod under your bed a la invasion of the body snatchers? First saying Namaste then its going to be Bro this and bro that and really lets give Obama a chance, the new techno corp is great and I get to see Latvian bathing beauties dawg...

Also while I am in a give MB a bit of Tsuris, I think you are mistaken on tenses. NeoFeudalism is here now, the iron fist security system is in place now, idiocy rules now. The dystopia is here and will get even worse.....

As for the UFO's who are behind 9/11....just kidding....

What does strike one about Chomsky is that he may well be useful tool to give credibiility to the regime (much like Amy Goodman). I mean how really radical can you be as a full prof at MIT? I suspect that in realiy much like say the faculty at UC Berkely or even Hopkins or Columbia, there is an acceptable type of radical on faculties. Lots of progressives and lefties spouting off as you pont out the conventional marxian leftist gruel.

Namaste Bro....

9:55 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Megan,

What you write about today’s middle class jobs being alienating reminds me of something that Paul Goodman wrote back in the early 60’s in “Compulsory Mis-Education”. At the time he was writing about working class youth, but as you say it now applies to most young people. Here are some bits of what he had to say:

“So far as they (young people) can see – and they see clearly – the absorbing satisfactions of life do *not* require all this work and rat-race. In societies where it is possible to be decently poor, persons of superior education and talent often choose to be poor rather than hustle for money.”

“In the inflationary American economy, however, decent poverty is almost impossible. …”

“As it is, the only ones who can afford the absorbing and simple satisfactions that do not cost much money are those who have succeeded economically and are by than likely unfit to enjoy anything. From this point of view, the chief blessing that our copious society could bestow on us would be a kind of subsistence work that allowed spirited people to be decently poor without frantic insecurity and long drudgery.”

Just thinking about young people in America today is very depressing.

Capo,

About the Ethiopian cab driver: Americans’ need to be constantly saving people seems like a perversion of Christian salvation. The Medieval Church would torture a confession out of an accused heretic in order to save their soul from damnation – before burning them to death. I sadly remember when the US military reported destroying a Vietnamese village ‘in order to save it’. Well, George W. Bush says “we’re so good”, so it must be true. God forbid all these poor heathens should be ‘left behind’!

David Rosen

10:52 PM  
Blogger Publius said...

Wow, check this out:
An article on mindfulness in the New York Times.

Here's a money quote from the article:
The paradox of profit-minded techies engaging in the realm of nonattachment is not lost on those shepherding these wired flocks. Marc Lesser wore the black robes of a Buddhist priest as director of the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center near Big Sur in the 1980s. “I literally didn’t know what to do with the $60 monthly stipend I used to get,” he said. Today, as an M.B.A. and chief executive of Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute, he is comfortable integrating money with mindfulness. “All business is about helping people in some way and you can’t do that without focusing on success,” he said. “The hope is that turning a profit can be done more wisely and compassionately.”

Does the USA have to turn everything to horse$&*^?

11:13 PM  
Anonymous Megan said...

PS Cube,

I hope I didn't seem rude for not answering your earlier question to me, but I didn't see it until rereading the comments a few minutes ago. My apologies. I'll give you an answer in a day or two, and hopefully in the meantime Dr. B. will allow this post to slide (I know about the 24 hour rule, and promise to keep to it in the future!), since I don't want to look like just another solipsistic American jerk!

1:15 AM  
Anonymous ellen said...

Himanshu,

I also recommend the writings of Sri Aurobindo which I read and was impressed by when very young. Although his style is dense I found him to be the clearest exponent of the Hindu worldview and practices, not shirking from also examining the limitations. I also liked that he had been an early exponent of Hindutva and jailed by us Brits as a subversive for agitating for Indian self-determination before turning in his maturity to a more inward reflection. In that sense he was coming from a completely opposite ideological perspective than the more traditionalist Danielou and is a good alternative perspective.

I like a thinker who is not afraid of also getting his hands dirty and that real-world engagement permeates and grounds his later writings which I found to be truly sage and authentic.

1:24 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Pub-

Yes. A few mos. ago the WSJ did an article on exactly these types of organizations, i.e. the Zen-Money link. It's basically all the US knows how to do (besides dropping bombs).

Capo-

Shit, man, I was talking to a devoted Hindu, so just trying to be nice, esp. if he might send me some lamb biryani. You are getting much too worked up, tho the bit abt Latvian beauties does interest me. But yes, I do know that neofeudal UFO's engineered 9/11; that's a slam dunk. Chomsky's a prof at MIT for his linguistic work, not because of writing 40 bks on the violence and dishonesty of US foreign policy; for which his colleagues probably hate him. You need to give credit where credit is due. I disagree w/him on a few things, but there aren't too many Americans I respect as much.

Om Shanti; also Vishnu, Shiva, and Mango Pickle-

mb

2:43 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: Teri: Yeah, I shd probably knock out a few kids w/Nomi, but I love her as a friend, and u know how sex screws everything up. Besides, the thought of copulating with a dumb right-wing bimbo leaves me trembling w/excitement. Come to me, Sarah! Let me shtupp your brains out (or the empty space in your head where brains are normally located)!

2:47 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

All WAFers,

Got to weigh in on Amy and Noam.

A while back a post said Amy was "collecting millions". Rubbish! Look at her. She isn't making any fashion statements that I can tell?

Saw a video of Chomsky recently where he recounted that Amy, while reporting on the Timor massacres *in* the streets of East Timor, was "almost beaten to death". How many have done that?

I heartily agree with Dr. Berman about Prof. Chomsky: "there aren't too many Americans I respect as much." The man is a hero, as much as anyone, and humble, and brilliant, and probably has read as many books as anyone, and on top of that can remember every page, it seems like.

I also happen to think that he has contributed as much as any individual to explaining this crummy society.

It is real easy to criticise.

8:18 AM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...

Interesting....

Yes Chomsky did great and pathbreaking work in linguistics. REvolutionized the field in fact. It was interesting how this was leveraged into being a fairly conventional spokesman/political commentator of the left. Great linguist but a pretty standard commentator of the left. If there is a single original idea in his political work, word of it has failed to get out--its all obvious stuff which appeals to popular sentiments and prejudices. Easier than reading Gray, Schumpeter, Taleb, Negri, Keynes (yes), Barzun Chalmers Johnson etc. More importantly very simpatico with sensibilities of progressives and idealistic college sophomores. As a friend said of Bill Clinton he has so many opinions your certain to agree with him on something. Same is true of Chomsky.

Amy got beat up. That is a sad and bad thing when people are subjected to violence. Dan Rather was almost killed in Viet Nam It does not make her any less of a shill or him a sane or decent person. both are careerists and douchebags of the 10th magnitude.

9:41 AM  
Anonymous Banana Head said...

Americans are incapable of understanding that non-Americans have any value or human rights at all. They are incapable of understanding that dropping ordinance all over the Middle East has made another 9/11 likely. They are so cognitively impaired that the only thoughts they can think are thoughts of self-exaltation, narcissism, arrogance and hatred.

That's what's frightening about Americans; they don't merely do evil, they do evil without understanding anything about what they do, or why they do it.

11:43 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Capo-

Post only once every 24 hrs. I've got work to do, and can't be spending all my time on this blog. Thank u 4 yr understdg.

You really need to rethink what u.r. saying. I agree, Noam's mode of analysis is not that new or inventive, but the material he's been able to dig up, using that methodology, on how the US operates abroad--thousands of pages' worth of text--is indeed new and necessary. Nor is he confused abt his opinions, and in fact, he basically has only one and hasn't wavered from it (unlike Mr. Clinton).

No one's perfect, amigo, not even me (altho obviously I come pretty close, as I'm sure we all can agree). In terms of changing American opinions about things that are crucial, Noam certainly has a better track record than myself, and I'd be proud to have even half that influence. He remains the conscience of the nation. So pls, don't be foolish or petty: he's head and shoulders above the rest of us, and has put his talent to very gd use. We are all in his debt, and if we start badmouthing friends, what will we be able to say abt enemies?

mb

11:56 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

Capo,

How about contacting me at shepherd2121atteleclipsedotnet.

12:13 PM  
Anonymous turnover said...

As for Noam, I puzzled over how society got so far down a dead end path. His work was a helpful intro to how things work. He studies so many issues, plus has a enviable memory and can come up with powerful examples to back his points.

True, after a while I began to weary of his assertion that if people just understood, or had the education and knowledge to see what what going on, that would change things. I wound up feeling consumer society was largely mutual seduction, not one sided oppression.

Way back there, I can't recall when, Noam did say that he put forward his prescription for change by education and involvement just so he could have a positive suggestion, say something hopeful. Noam actually could be more of a WAFer than it appears.

1:00 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

turnover-

WAF stands for something else: We Are Fucked. I'm waiting for Noam, Chris, and a bunch of serious critics too intelligent to believe that rebellion or education or chopped liver can change the situation, to come out of the closet already and join Waferdom, say: We Are Fucked (WAF). At this pt in American history, optimism is a crime against humanity. It's not onlly wrong; it's cruel. The American head is embedded in the American rump and that is our future, nothing else. I'm hoping these guys will join me in an edited volume of essays entitled "Brown Horizons."

mb

4:10 PM  
Anonymous Turkey Testicles said...

As Oswald Spengler put it:

"Optimism is cowardice".

5:07 PM  
Anonymous Erico said...

Just wanted to post a few links I think folks here will enjoy, in case you haven't already read them.

Here's a great essay on smarm, I liked it so much it was practically erotic lol;)

http://gawker.com/on-smarm-1476594977

And a thoughtful essay on living in the margins that likely will resonate with many here.

http://christyrodgers.wordpress.com/2012/08/14/life-in-the-margins/#more-204

Reading this blog helps keep my insanity tolerable, thank you MB and WAFers.

7:42 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and Wafers,

MB-

WAF= We Are Fucked! Another stroke of brilliance, MB...

I'm looking forward to the publication of "Brown Horizons." Jesus, what a fantastic title! Please allow me to suggest a few subtitles for this future work:

"Brown Horizons: Up Shits Creek"

"Brown Horizons: T'ainted Dreams"

Jeff

8:17 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Banana-

This is the one crucial factor that the 'progressive' left is unwilling to take in, because then the whole left-wing program comes apart: Americans, as compared to most other nations, are simply not very bright. The other nations know this; it's the subject of a lot of their jokes. They are ignorant of basic info about history, politics, sociology; they have a very deep anti-intellectual streak (going back a long ways); most of them (88%) don't travel abroad; they don't even understand the concept of putting yrself in the other person's place and seeing what things look like from that perspective; they are brainwashed abt the nation from age 3; and they think everything comes down to $.

*This* is the populace the left wants to liberate? *These* are the suppressed masses that are going to rise up, reclaim their birthright? Wha?

mb

8:43 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

"If you love what is holy and hate what is ordinary, you float and sink in the sea of birth and death."

-Linji, Chinese Zen monk, 9thC

10:59 PM  
Anonymous Megan said...

Greg,

Regarding Sri. Aurobindo: on further consideration, I would actually recommend "The Human Cycle" to begin with, rather than "Foundations of Indian Culture." ("Foundations" is now renamed "Renaissance in India") The latter is an brilliant defense of a traditional culture against a smug, "white man's burden" type of critic. But I fear you might find it too topical and its concerns too parochial for your first experience. For admirers of works like Dr. Berman's "Trilogy", or Barzun's "Dawn to Decadence", I think that "The Human Cycle" will have a lot more resonance. Anyhow, here's a link to all the downloadable PDFs of the Collected Works: (If you'd like, I'll be happy to send a jar of tamarind to go with it!)

http://www.sriaurobindoashram.org/ashram/sriauro/writings.php

(By the way, I'm impressed that you're so well-informed about Sri. Aurobindo, Ellen!)

Cube,

To finally answer your question (!), I was a History teacher for a good number of years. I don't know if there was a "final straw" as you put it, but I felt like I was dying a slow spiritual death in that atmosphere. Of course, towards the end, there was this one baggy pants-wearing little smart aleck (formally diagnosed with Anti-Social Personality Disorder)who threw a book at me and told me to "go f*ck myself", because I demanded that he stop talking during Study Hall! So, yeah, stuff like that eventually began to take its toll on my hypersensitive nervous system! And eventually I just resigned. (Best decision of my life, I might add.)

Dovidel, I fear I'm pushing my half page limit now, but thanks as always for the stimulating thoughts. I really enjoy your posts!

1:47 AM  
Anonymous ellen said...

Megan,
I was lucky enough to grow up in places like Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, India, Cyprus etc, all outposts of the dying British Empire, and the very different cultures I was immersed in provided a welcome escape from the stultifying confines of my own military family background. The world and its varied peoples truly are amazing and worth investigating for their own sake, not for what material profits can be produced for the investigator.

Dovidel,

I read a recent article that addresses your question about the western need to 'save' other foreign peoples. It does so by looking critically at charities and 'humanitarian' efforts abroad and the self-interests that are masked by these efforts. It applies equally to the blunter military exploits also:

http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/12/04/capitalising-on-the-useful-poor/

Chris Hedges talks on 'The Pathology of the Rich' at the Real News Network:

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/20460-chris-hedges-the-pathology-of-the-rich-part-i

4:31 AM  
Anonymous Kanye West said...

Hey Morris I just read Chris Hedges' recent article, I want your opinion on this quote:

"With the folly of the human race—and perhaps its unconscious lust for self-annihilation—on display at the U.N. Climate Talks in Warsaw, it is easy to succumb to despair. The world’s elite, it is painfully clear, will do little to halt the accelerating destruction of the ecosystem and eventually the human species. We have, through our ingenuity and hubris, unleashed the next great mass extinction on the planet."

Is Chris Hedges correct in saying this? Are we not paying enough attention to the issue of climate change? Or is Chris being unnecessarily misanthropic and gloomy?

7:12 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Kanye-

You might find some answers in the following documentary:

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

In the quote from Chris you cite, he hints at an explanation in terms of an unconscious death wish, but I'm not sure that's the case. It's far too 'global' an explanation, and if we really had a death wish we wdn't have waited this long to do ourselves in. What we really need to do, I think, instead of hosting regular climate change conferences that go nowhere, is host a conference on *why* we are doing nothing about the problem. William Ophuls has some good answers on that score, but I believe that a major conference analyzing our resistance to deal with it would probably be more fruitful at this pt.

mb

8:14 AM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Megan

Well, be glad that kid did not carry a knife. How was the administration there? My wife is a history teacher as well. The things she has described to me based upon her experiences makes me despair, especially with the hustling and social maneuvering one has to do with administration to assuage them.

Both of you are troopers. The work environment would be like Substance D to me in the movie "A Scanner Darkly." It would be like a slow death.

Megan, you write so well, brilliantly and intelligently that I become envious. I have to look different things up like definitions and context to different things. You don't spout out the same hackneyed lines and phrases. You are definitely refreshing and challenge my mind. I bet you did not just teach to the test, you really wanted your students to learn, is that correct?

For me, as a student in middle and high school it was so mind numbing especially during the SATs. They didn't teach the substance of the material but taught how to take the test. I hated it and felt like I learned nothing. I had major problems with the SATs and got low scores. It was impressed upon all of us that if one did not go to college one would not succeed. I felt like my years in school were wasted since I had major problems with the test. A combination of these things got me into things I shouldn't have gotten into like drugs. I pretty much gave up.

I realize now it wasn't totally me. It is a school system that reflects the true values of our society and that teaching to the test is another form of hustling to obtain their federal funding whether they're effective or not.

Dr. Berman is right. Our nation is done. I don't know if you read the story about my dream or not but if you didn't please do. It's the place I would want to live. You would thrive there.

8:33 AM  
Blogger Himanshu Tiwari said...

Megan,

Thank you for strongly endorsing my book recommendations. I agree with your suggestion about "The Human Cycle". I am glad to find people on this blog who are familiar with Aurobindo's works. I would also add that if one wants to read "The foundations of Indian culture", one first read the publisher's note which says that the essays under "The defense of Indian culture" are unfinished.

Ellen,

I am impressed too with your understanding of Aurobindo's works!

Greg,
I made gulab jamun over the holidays.

Dr. Berman,

I am impressed with your familiarity with Indian food! Lamb Biryani! Boy, its been a while since I had it. But what the heck I will cook Chicken Biryani (Hyderabadi style) this weekend. Good quality lamb is hard to come by around here in Appalachia.If we meet again we should have a meal. I will arrange for lamb/chicken biryani provided you are responsible for pastrami! We could call it Biryani-Pastrami Summit/Conference...now that I am thinking about it..that could be the title for a WAFER conference!

Himanshu



9:00 AM  
Blogger Jack Lattemann said...

For a holiday gift, I tried ordering a copy of WAF from my favored independent bookstore in Seattle and got a message back that it was "out of print" (!) and unavailable. Then I tried a bookstore in Portland, who told me they had one copy of WAF left on their shelves. Got it! Also ordered two copies of QOV for friends, fortunately those are still available. Like that old sci-fi series opener, they control the horizontal, they control the vertical.

10:10 AM  
Anonymous sanctuary! said...

Megan, so glad for your sake that you left that school. Yr anecdote abt the violent smart aleck put me in mind of the doltish population in general, who act even worse in some ways. When Hedges & others decry state repression, missing from their analysis is that it doesn't come out of nowhere. Police depts w/ tasers 'n' tanks aren't primarily in place to terrorize WAFers. They aren't used mostly against democratic socialists or no-growth advocates. The fascistic mentality is given a point of purchase by an increasingly degraded & depraved populace. What do u say to someone who is deliberately blocking EMTs from reaching trampling victims, because he is trying to grab a $30 DVD player? "I'm disappointed by yr behavior, sir?" Maybe, but use of a taser or a nightstick is prob also indicated. Fascist rule doesn't pop up ex nihilo. There are many vicious circles; the whole thing is interconnected; & repressive mechanisms are hard to understand w/o taking into acct the character of the population. A country dominated by violent crooked toughs, generally ends up w/ a violent crooked govt.

10:34 AM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Good day MB and Wafers,

RIP Nelson Mandela.

Jeff

10:54 AM  
Anonymous JWO said...

Some good stuff in this new Reality Asserts Itself interview with Chris:

http://tinyurl.com/l942nbe

"The Pathology of the Rich"

Some of the comments are crazy though...

11:38 AM  
Anonymous RealityChecker said...

There were harsh words directed here recently at Edmund Burke.

The following article, which compares and contrasts Burke with Thomas Paine provides a rather more nuanced and intelligent perspective on Burke and his thought:

http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/french-connection_769084.html?nopager=1#.

12:20 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Enrico; thanks for that great essay on snark and smarm. I’m constantly being accused of snarkiness when engaging in on-line discussions. I don’t know what to say, my students tell me that it’s my best quality. Henceforth I shall wear my snark as a badge of honour.

Thanks also to all the other Wafmen for their recommendations for reading. I doubt if I can keep up; there’s too much there and I’m not growing any younger or more energetic. My computer’s bookmark file is seriously overheating and may blow a fuse soon...because that’s how I understand computers to work.

My tiny, local rebel bookstore was successful in bringing in Spinning Straw into Gold, which I plan on reading over Christmas. I’d also like to luxuriate in a couple of Raymond Chandler short stories during the holidays if I can.

O&D

12:47 PM  
Anonymous joe hohos said...

Kanye,

Since you're new to the game, check out Guy Mcpherson re climate change. Guymcpherson.com

WAFer's,

The amount of glowing praise for Nelson Mandela from 'progressives' is horrifying!

p.s. no numbers today in the box hmmm!

2:03 PM  
Blogger GregJS said...

Thanks for the thoughtful recommendation and link (and most generous offering of tamarind), Megan. And if it’s OK to keep our yoga stretch pants on just a bit longer on this blog, I’m curious if you, Himanshu, or Ellen can give just a brief, maybe even one-sentence, thumbnail sketch of Aurobindu’s take on caste (for example, for Danielou, I’d say his take is that the caste system is an expression of inviolable natural/cosmic law as applied to human society). Ellen, you mentioned that Aurobindo and Danielou represent something of polar opposites. Sounds intriguing, but I didn’t quite get what the contrast was. Can you say a wee bit more about that? Not trying to sidetrack the blog – but my curiosity is aroused.

3:01 PM  
Anonymous in.fern.all said...

Greg,
Regarding the caste system, I read a book, maybe four or five years ago by either Joseph Tainter or that guy with the name of Diamond (I can't remember his first name right now for some reason)which discussed the strategies that various cultures have developed over time to deal with resource constraints. He wrote that the caste system was a way to accommodate large numbers of people within small areas of land in a way that minimized competition and hence conflict. Everyone had a meaningful role, effectively no unemployment. By minimizing social mobility the overall societal competition for land, women, and commerce is reduced. Seen from that perspective a caste system actually makes sense.

12:43 AM  
Anonymous Megan said...

Greg,

As a loose and imprecise comparison, Sri. Aurobindo's approach to "caste" is somewhat reminiscent of Plato's "Myth of the Metals." It's important to point out, however, that Sri. Aurobindo makes a crucial distinction between "caste" (which, in its modern manifestation, he found barbarous, degraded and inhuman--particularly "untouchability"), and "chaturvarnya" (i.e., the four social orders). According to Sri. Aurobindo, in the early Vedic period--which was for him one of the high points of human civilization--chaturvarnya was still a very plastic, fluid, and humane concept. Its emphasis was primarily on individual predilections, abilities and innate tendencies. But over time this ancient understanding degenerated and stultified into a rigid preoccupation with "birth," etc.--with all the attendant evils.

That's a very sketchy summary, of course, but I hope it helps a little!

Cube, thanks so much for the kind words--I appreciate that very much! But don't even get me started on the administration! Oh my, that was the worst part. I'm so sorry, though, that the SATs caused you grief. SATs are a horrible measure of intelligence--especially in the case of someone with autism. You sound very bright to me, but you have your own style of thinking, and I could see how SATs would be a very poor measure of your true intellectual abilities. If it's any consolation to you, I still (literally) have nightmares about my High School days!

Sanctuary, you are spot on in your observations. I truly hated to play the disciplinarian in my classroom--it went entirely against my nature. But when 20% of your kids don't even have the rudiments of common courtesy--well....that's what cattle prods are for!

2:18 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home