December 24, 2013

Foot Fetishism

Merry Xmas, Wafers-

With New Year's just around the corner, it's time to take stock of how blessed we Wafers really are. If you didn't see that post of the link to videos of the frenzy and fist-fights over the release of a new pair of sneakers, now would be a good time to view and contemplate them. These are your neighbors! Can you imagine living like that? And what future does a nation have in which personal identity hangs on footwear? Can you imagine the scenario that will ensue--and it will, mes enfants, don't doubt it for a moment--when the system breaks down, and there's no food or water? During the Fukushima disaster in Japan 2.5 years ago, 40 workers were trapped in a freezing basement overnight with only a single cup of ramen to go around, and they quietly sat there, each person taking only a spoonful for him- or herself, no muss/no fuss. Can you imagine Americans behaving that way? What portends for a nation whose citizens have no sense of individual dignity? It ain't gonna be pretty, amigos; of that you can be sure.

When I was in New York last month, I had breakfast one day with a colleague in the publishing industry, a very successful and respected guy, and we were talking about the "progressives" and their insistence that positive radical change, or even revolution, was possible in America. My friend just laughed. "All the government would have to do to take the steam out of it is provide everyone with a few more cable channels," he said. Or expensive sneakers, I might add. The truth is that no political program can give the citizenry a sense of personal worth; and if the latter depends on sneakers, then the program can only wind up in a strange and unhappy place. As NMI's, Wafers do what they can; but they are also a bit philosophical about it all: historically speaking, it's America's turn to decline, and foot fetishism is just a symptom of this process. That civilizations rise and fall is the way of the world, end of story.

But amidst the ruins, there is only this, for those who are interested: love and truth. I wish all Wafers a large dose of both in 2014. Merry Xmas!

mb

201 Comments:

Anonymous Vince said...

MB,

There was a shoe incident a couple of years ago at the local metropolitan mall. I apparently missed the whole "event", police and all, because I had chosen to shop later that day for some vitamins. Needless to say, I no longer visit that mall, which is right across the road from a major university.

Merry Christmas to you and all WAFers.

Hopefully it will be a peaceful holiday week.

Best,
Vince

12:57 PM  
Anonymous Ariel Ballesteros said...

Feliz Navidad y un buen proximo Año Dr. Berman!
All History is in the past to teach us, all present is now but the future is still to be written. Who knows, it might bring surprises (good ones) for all! A new order where the book does not die, where culture is not entertainment anymore, where the rest of the world stops copying american ways and therefore collapsing too. A world where fetichism goes back to black needle shoes and not (hot) air sneakers. Let's hope! In the meantime, congratulations to you and all wafers that put their minds to work this past year and did a great deal of suffering trying to put things into pespctive. May God give them enough sadness so they do not stop thinking! Salud!

1:32 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

To those of u who posted as Anon: I don't post Anons. Best thing wd be to pick a handle, such as Cranston Butterworth III, or perhaps Sam Schmeck, D.D.S., and re-send yr message. We wish to hear from u, but not if yr hiding. Thank you and Merry Xmas.

mb

1:46 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Season's Greetings WAFers:

Merry Christmas, and a Happy Airing of Grievances to all.

5:05 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

al-

A Festivus for the Rest of Us.

mb

5:08 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

This is probably my favorite song, prompted as an amalgamation in response to Ellen's links.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7EC6MrPVwr0

5:51 PM  
Anonymous Banana Head said...

MB and everyone else,

As I've actually started to pay attention to the speech and mannerisms of Americans, I have to agree with MB that almost every last one of them is extremely stupid. I started talking to someone on the bus awhile back about America's current plight, and what should be done to remedy it, and he immediately accused me of "wanting utopia". A couple minutes later, of course, he contradicted himself, and offered up a truly brilliant solution to America's problems: "I do my job, you do your job, and things will work out ok. People just gotta do their jobs." He also complained about "never having read any of the stuff I brought up", calling the reliability of my data into question, even though it turned out that he never reads.

I can't make this stuff up. This man has all the intelligence of maggot-infested fruit - and it seems that just about every American citizen is on his level. They all think that "if we all do our jobs" (do exactly what we've always done), our current predicament will simply vanish. They are not capable of comprehending other ways of living, other economic systems, and other political ideologies, let alone understanding how the American way of life led to the crash of 2008. It's all rage-filled, knee-jerk reactions, blind adherence to the current system, and utterances so unbelievably stupid ("I do my job, you do your job, and things will work out ok"), any sane person would wonder if there's something in the water that causes severe brain damage.

I really underestimated stupidity as a driving force behind the collapse of America. Turns out it just might be the single biggest factor.

9:24 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Banana-

And why can't 'progressives' see this? All you hafta do is start talking to any American you randomly meet, and the chances are that you'll encounter something like what you describe. Who is it 'progressives' are 'saving', anyway?

mb

1:31 AM  
Anonymous Holzwege said...

Little did old Karl Marx suspect that the fetishism of commodities would become so litteral a phenomenon.

At any rate, my best wishes to all Wafers and Waferettes.

5:00 AM  
Blogger Zosima said...

Banana Head,
You found an American on a bus who used the word utopia and even seemed to know what it meant? How lucky you are! In spite of everything else he said, that alone makes the event a Christmas miracle. You should have pinned a medal on him and considered yourself lucky to have found such a genius. As for the “people just gotta do their jobs” theory of collapse, I think someone did blame the collapse of Nazi Germany on the fact that the concentration camp guards took too many coffee breaks.

Yes, Santa doesn’t show up at Zosima’s log cabin until someone mentions Nazis. Though I don’t have proof, I blame this on Blitzen.

5:03 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Zos-

I'm sure it's Blitzen. I mean, it cdn't possibly be Donner, rt? Let's get real here!

mb

6:04 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Meanwhile, let's get our priorities straight:

http://allthingsfabandfly.com/kim-kardashian-and-jennifer-hudson-both-in-donna-karan-draped-plunging-neck-dress-who-wore-it-best/

6:12 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

This is what Americans think abt:

http://marquee.blogs.cnn.com/2013/12/09/selena-gomezs-f-bomb-trumps-mileys-new-hair/?iref=obnetwork

6:16 AM  
Blogger Publius said...

I would just like to thank everyone who contributes on this blog, and especially Morris Berman, for the intellectual companionship, ideas, encouragement, and, well, for just "being there." Otherwise it gets pretty isolating living here. Even in the "least miserable state" (according to Bloomberg).

Christmas Eve dinner was nice last night - older friends brought lutefisk from Ingebretson's. Great ham from a farm where the animal was treated well.

Unfortunately, not one interesting subject was talked about. I was shut down years ago by my mom-in-law, who considers herself a progressive; and my wife does not want to "hear it." It being anything like politics, social critique, current events, etc.

Even my mother, who I used to think of as not very.. informed... is more open to discussing what is wrong with the USA, and she's not really a progressive. Just a small town, ex-home-coming queen aesthetician running her own business in her 70's.

Anyway, another reason why my New Year's Resolution is to actively pursue leaving - nobody lets me discuss my actual environment here. It's like you are putting excrement on the dinner table to not talk platitudes.

"If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." Is that part of the core of the American ethos?

Be well.

11:22 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Pub-

Yr welcome. Rt now the US has reduced itself to Waferdom vs. horseshit. Guess who's winning? Sometimes I think my entire life in the US, from 1st grade on, consisted of farting at a cocktail party (metaphorically speaking, of course; they didn't let me drink martinis in 1st grade; it probably wd have helped). Of course, every society has informal rules abt not talking abt the elephant under the carpet in the living rm; the problem w/the US is that the elephant is now abt the size of 6 regular elephants. So the denial is enormous, and most Americans are very brittle: the slightest suggestion that something isn't rt drives them nuts. But you can take comfort in this, I guess, that denial hastens the collapse. After all, a society that wd get real is a society that is less precarious than one that has lost the ability to do so. Social interaction in the US has become completely vapid because the US has lost its way; it's going nowhere, and that's the baseline reality of our situation. So we get together and talk abt poop.

On that happy note, Merry Xmas!

mb

12:07 PM  
Anonymous shep said...

Ellen,

Thank you for the links which led me to other links (none to be reproduced here) to discover quite a few new creeps (Eugene Terre Blanche and the AWB), AND, heros (I had forgotten Steve Biko).


All WAFers,

George Carlin, who became, for me, the Shakespeare of our age, was a ferocious WAFer as we know. From his autobiography:

“When Brenda was alive I used to have this fantasy of Ireland, the southeastern parts... I no longer identify with my species... Once upon a time, people might have been good up to 10 or 12, or 100 or so, whatever the tribal unit was...When are we going to start assassinating the right people in this country? Why is it, by the way, the right wing guys assassins have tried to shoot survived? Like Wallace and Reagan? Don’t we have any marksmen on our side?”

Waaaay too many others to quote here.

But. Merry Holydays to all!

12:51 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Dearest Dr. Berman and Wafers,

Santa has checked his list twice and bestowed upon all Wafers of the World glad tidings and good cheer...

Merry Xmas, Wafers!

Jeff

1:01 PM  
Anonymous Banana Head said...

MB,

I suspect that progressives can't realize exactly who they're trying to liberate for several reasons:

1.) The unconscious programming you mentioned, by which nearly all Americans believe America to be immune to the historical cycles that promise the fall of every civilization that arises;
2.) The fact that progressives in America are so demonized and marginalized by the mainstream culture that they pretty much only interact with people in their own circles, and are thus not exposed very often to the sheer stupidity of the American masses;
3.) The fact that acknowledging the incredible stupidity of the American masses would entail acknowledging that America's plight has no solution, which would entail leaving one's job, friends and home for another country, a difficult thing to do;
4.) The fact that progressives in America, being demonized and ridiculed by mainstream culture, are a depressed bunch, and need something positive to hold onto, like the impending positive transformation of America.

Zosima,

I guess I should be grateful. He might be one of the smartest people in America, part of the intellectual 1% of the whole nation. I could have done worse; I could have spoken to someone that was completely unaware that America had any large-scale problem whatsoever (most of today's American youngsters).

1:50 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Banana-

#2 is an esp. relevant pt, I think. You may remember the Smithsonian flap of '95, over the planned exhibition re: Hiroshima. An uproar ensued that the Smithsonian was actually going to ask some real questions abt the event, as opposed to just glorifying our heroic bombers; until finally the whole thing got shut down. A colleague of mine who won the Pulitzer a few yrs back and does op-ed pieces for the NYT published an article in an edited collection on the event, a collection that criticized the cowardice of the Smithsonian staff. "We got back at them," he exulted--i.e., the Air Force and American Legion, that caused the event to fold. Huh? A recent poll revealed that something like 25% of Americans are not able to name the country we dropped the atomic bomb on, and something like 75% never heard the word 'Hiroshima'. So this colleague publishes an academic article in an academic collection, one that a few thousand poeple (at most) are going to read, and this is "getting back" at the Air Force and the AL. Jesus Christ; talk abt living in a fantasy world. Is this the 'progressive' formula for 'success'? I was left speechless. But if my colleague were to let this info in, that the nation is basically a collection of dumb clucks, and that very few Americans are interested in these academic discourses or capable of understanding them--well, it wd be depression city. What wd he then have to live for?

mb

2:20 PM  
Blogger GregJS said...

Dr. B,

Somehow your response to Publius really clicked with me - it was just so clarifying. So that'll be the one x-mas present I receive today - and a fine one it is. Thanks. I'd also make that my first bathroom mirror post-it, but it's too long, so I may just have to scrawl it across my entire mirror!

May the light of truth blaze brightly in the world today. (Yeah, right; "may it have even a snowball's chance in hell" is more like it).

Merry Xmas indeed!

3:10 PM  
Anonymous Kanye West said...

Morris, I need to ask you something. I remember reading in the blog posts about how you felt this country had culture back until a "buffoonami" came in and submerged nearly the entire country. I just want to know, what precipitated this mass degeneration of our culture? What the hell happened to our country? How did it get this bad? What happened to our people?

Does any of this upset you?

3:22 PM  
Anonymous Seeking Sanity said...

(formerly MikeAlan. I changed my name to reflect reality....plus there are more Mikes showing up all the time here)

Good observations about progressives. In the early 1990's I worked for a mainstream, not so radical, environmental organization. I always enjoyed leaving the field to go to the the Washington, DC office. For me it was like an anthropology trip. Most of the people in the DC office tried so hard to be politically correct and inoffensive, that it was a wonder they could accomplish anything. When I talked about the Midwest rednecks and racists I grew up around and dealt with on a regular basis they were stunned and appalled. I always thought they had lived a sheltered life where they didn't have to deal with America's more unpleasant denizens. I don't mean to insult them since I liked the majority of them, but they seemed to have a luxury in life I never had.

6:14 PM  
Anonymous ellen said...

The Queen broadcasts a TV Christmas Message to her loyal subjects each year. Channel 4 broadcasts an annual alternative message (previous messengers have included Sharon Osbourne and President Ahmedinejad ) delivered this year by Edward Snowden:

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/alternative-christmas-message/4od#3629294

7:05 PM  
Anonymous Banana Head said...

MB and anyone else who wants to read this,

I think American stupidity may be a result of centuries of deflecting any attempt to shine the light of awareness on its self-aggrandizing, psychopathic "core". After all, if you want to see yourself and your fellows as heroes after ethnically cleansing hundreds of Native American tribes, or dropping atomic bombs on major metropolitan areas, you *have* to be dedicated to ignorance and completely opposed to empathy or understanding.

America used to have much more intelligent people than it currently does. The Lincoln-Douglas debates were at a 12th-grade reading level. Our last presidential debate was at a 5th grade reading level, e.g., “Yes we can!”

After several centuries of unceasing wars of aggression, narcissism, and blind obedience, the American system has self-selected for sociopathic, borderline retarded people, genetically speaking. Basically, America has devolved into a collection of 300 million violent, knuckle-dragging brutes. This is America's punishment for all its crimes; I can't think of any greater punishment than simply *being* a retarded sociopath that can neither think nor love nor find a meaning in life.

7:30 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Banana-

Thank u, but pls note that we have an informal rule here: don't post more often than once every 24 hrs. I appreciate yr understanding.

Note to "Name Don't Matter"-
1. Yes it does. You need a legitimate handle to be part of the discussion.
2. Yr way off base: we do discuss solutions from time to time, such as Dual Process and post-capitalist formations. Yr not paying much attn to what's actually on this blog; that much is obvious.
3. I'm not interested in lectures on how this blog shd be different than what it is, or what subjects it "should" be addressing; and believe me, I've had a list of them. I also don't care much what outsiders think; they can think whatever they want. If yr not interested in what the blog is abt, the best thing wd be 4u to go elsewhere, rather than expend energy trying to get it to suit your particular needs. That's what an intelligent person wd do, it seems to me. (This is going to be very hard 4u to grasp, but the chances that I'm going to become a different person just for yr benefit are probably kinda small.)
4. I'm also not interested in meta-discussions, i.e. discussions abt the blog itself. Bores me silly. Again, yr probably better off posting to a blog that is more enlightened, i.e. one that follows your insightful guidelines and recommendations.
5. I and all of us Wafers wish you good luck in your search.

Kanye-

Gd questions, requiring an extended discussion...wh/I don't have time to get into rt now. But don't despair: you might find some of the answers in my bks.

mb

9:52 PM  
Anonymous Capo Pops in briefly said...

Ah Wafers. There are many signs to ferret out morons. MB you have in this "name don't matter" identified one of the key features of a americans of the moronic variety (I repeat myself). The belief in and the overweening compulsion to demand that critics provide "solutions". I would suggest that you MB are a very good social critic and should not be expected to be a social solution provider. What these twits do not realize is that there are no solutions for most of humanity's foibles and tendencies. There are results, consequences and predictable ends. Most problems like say stupidity, graying hair, mendacity, corruption and other traits of the cracked vessels known as humans are insoluble. John Gray in the Immortializatin Commission does a great job of showing how the various efforts to extend human life are also a sign of not accepting reality and thinking there are scientific and constructive solutions to problems!!! But alas, every day a new Obama voter is born, more hope, more schemes to solve poverty, illeteracy, drug addiction are hatched and to no avail. I woiuld also suggest that NMI or new arrangements are not solutions but reactions and or adaptations. Similarly, there is no failure there is only feedback but if you are a moron well the whole point of feedback is lost on you and well you go and again and again, vote, remarry, vote again for the lesser of two evils, recycle, and think that a new app for your tablet will solve all your problems.

Oh have to go and see what solutions Obama and Mr Ed, I mean the sebelius lady have for all of my and the nations health care!!!!

10:25 PM  
Anonymous Bingo said...

MB,

A Merry Xmas to you, and a very interesting New Year.

The US food distribution system is very fragile. The food riots you are hinting at are probably not very far off into the future. Once the shelves at Kroger, Publix, Jewel, and Walmart become empty, watch out. Recently I wrote a letter to my parents (who unfortunately live in the US) and I was trying to explain to them that once the food distribution system collapses, the menu of the day across the USA will become: “Neighbor on the barbecue”. Of course, the neighbor in question would have most likely died of led poisoning.

Shep,

I just noticed your question in the previous thread about who organized the email list that was to protect us in case the NSA got interested in WAFERS. I believe that was me. Only 7 people responded. If anybody else is interested to join the list, please email me: psychoanalyst101@gmail.com

By the way, the purpose of that list was in case the goons get really nasty and start disappearing dissenters, like it used to be done in Eastern Europe during communism. I grew up under communism, and what kept many Romanian dissidents alive in those days was the support they received from friends abroad. Basically, what I was thinking is that in case Berman gets disappeared NDAA style, some of us should be willing to pitch a tent in front of the US embassy in a place safe from the CIA’s reach, such as Moscow or Beijing, and do a long hunger strike there, with frequent appearances on alternative media like RT. That approach was very effective during the darkest days of communism, and brought about the release of many dissidents.

I tell ya, not even in my wildest dreams I would have imagined 30 years ago that in 2013 America would have nearly reversed roles with the former Soviet Union. Is that Karma, or what!?

Julian

10:25 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Julian-

Phil Roth says somewhere in "The Plot Against America" something like: "It's hard to believe that what I'm seeing is really happening in this country." Jesus. You read abt the cops turning into the military and just randomly killing people who look at them crosseyed (5000 civilians since 2001), or the branding of genuine heroes as "traitors," or the passage of a law that enables the president to rub out anyone he doesn't like, and you say: This just can't be real; it can't be happening. But it is.

Capo-

I just love these "enlightened" types that are actually terrific illustrations of what's fucked up abt the country, offering to straighten me out, or put the blog on a "truly" meaningful path. Imagine having the time or energy to bother w/some insignificant intellectual figure who isn't even on the radar screen, so as to guide him toward the "light." Honestly, there isn't enuf urine in all of the world to soak the shoes of these clowns. When Kanye asks, How did we get to be so dumb?, it's not exactly an irrelevant question. And jesus, the ego involved! He's so important, I shd rearrange everything to suit his guidelines. What dummies inhabit these 50 states! Nor is there any solution to this intractable fact. Clowns like "Name Don't Matter" will die clowns; the day will never dawn when they wake up.
As I've said b4, u wanna get some idea of who's out there? Start a blog! The trolls just won't quit. I repeatedly itemize what their assholishness consists of, and then, instead of just going elsewhere, they show up as examples of the very thing I've described! Honestly, ya gotta love 'em. At the end of the day it does give me a frisson of joy, I hafta admit.

mb

10:58 PM  
Blogger Kirk Knighton said...

Hi there - I've been reading Morris Berman's books for years but only just now stumbled upon this blog. People here are called WAFers? What on Earth is a WAFer?

11:19 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Dr. Berman,

Christmas may be the wrong holiday, and January 1st the wrong new year for you (and me), but here in rural Iowa it’s kind of contagious – so, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Thank you so much for this blog, and for all your writings.

David Rosen

11:50 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Kirk-

Thank you for asking. First let me make clear that there is no relationship between a Wafer and the Eucharist, the body of Christ, or transsubstantiation; altho entry into Waferdom (see the ps, below) does involve a prior kind of transformation of a truly profound variety. In any case, in specific terms, a Wafer is a person who has read "Why America Failed" (WAF), and is interested in issues of the collapse of the American empire. More generally, Wafers are the very best human beings the US has to offer; a very small group, as one might imagine. Most recent estimates have it that more than 99% of the American public are suffering from CRE, or Cranial-Rectal Embedment. This condition is the very antithesis of Waferhood.

That being said, welcome to the blog.

mb

ps: There's some debate as to whether the whole field shd be referred to as Waferdom or Waferhood, but we haven't put it to a vote just yet. Female Wafers, BTW, are referred to as Waferettes; and Wafers are also sometimes known as Waferinos.
ps2: There has also been extensive discussion on the feasibility of a Wafer T-shirt line, wh/might possibly interest you. For example, one shirt we've got in the hopper says:
(Front) WAFER OR DOUCHE BAG?
(Back) THE CHOICE IS YOURS.

12:05 AM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

Zosima & Banana Head,

You found an American on a bus who used the word utopia and even seemed to know what it meant?
How lucky you are!


"How lucky you are!" reminded me of this old pre-Python sketch.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VKHFZBUTA4k

Here's a more modern, more profane version for you Izzard and/or Rickman fans out there:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Lb-2VaJYPw

Mention declension of nouns and conjugation of verbs to some o' these kids today and if you're lucky,
the top 2% will give you a Beavis & Butthead snicker about 'conjugation'.
We're toast, I tell ya.


Capo,

Agreed, social/cultural critics often get the "So, what's your solution?" question, the questioner implying that, absent some wonderful path to a sustainable and equitable Nirvana, the critic's observations are without merit. Imagine the frustration of the interviewer trying to get a smidgen of hope out of a scientist who deals with climate change.
Skip to 5"40' unless you want to listen to the Blackwater weasel.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hxW9nTFtS0w#t=10


Thinking of the dominance behavior of rats as population grows & food is curtailed (and stealing a S. Delaney title):

Food riots ?
Aye, and Gomorrah.

Feliz Armageddon to y'all...

12:09 AM  
Anonymous Rufusteena Firefly said...

Here is an article by Rebecca Solnit.

http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175788/tomgram%3A_rebecca_solnit%2C_the_future_needs_us/

The book sounds very interesting. I admire her for the same reasons I admire Chris Hedges. They see the problems with clear vision but they don't give up hope. That appeals to me. Please note in particular what she says about Occupy near the end of the article.

12:58 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Ruf-

"Hope makes a good breakfast, but not a satisfying supper."--John Aubrey (approximate quote) There are, indeed, contexts where it makes sense. Unfortunately, this is not one of them. And believe me, Chris knows this. When I did the co-interview w/him in Vancouver last April (audio posted online), he was obviously depressed; you cd hear it in his voice. This is because he's no fool; he knows it's over.

Ty-

Food riots definitely in the pipeline, and much more besides. It ain't gonna be pretty. Meanwhile, Americans believe there are solutions for everything; it's part of the exceptionalist disease. Isaiah Berlin taught at Harvard ca. 1948, and said he was amazed at the naive optimism of the students in this regard. He said he just wanted to pat them on the head.

DR-

Many thanks. I'm guessing this is gonna be a gd yr 4u.

mb

8:01 AM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

infanttyrone wrote:

"Mention declension of nouns ..."

This brought to mind Mark Twain's essay on the German language, in which he wrote that he once heard a Californian student at Heidelberg, in one of his calmest moods, say that he would rather decline two drinks than one German adjective.

[We now return you to our regular programming.]

10:02 AM  
Blogger pinkpearl said...

@ellen - Thanks for the link to the Harry Patch video. A very brave, sensitive man. We all better get our sick bags ready for the war-glory propaganda to come in 2014.

@MB and anyone following the Hannah Arendt film discussion -

I watched the film on Christmas Eve. Oh dear. I let any expectations of historical accuracy go, but even so, it's just not a good film. I think the director forgot that she was working in a *visual* medium. Just scene after scene of people in drab mid-century clothes in drab mid-century rooms, talking a lot of clunky dialogue. Oh, and shots of Arendt smoking thoughtfully. Big ideas, yes, but they don't make a film.

I think von Trotta should have looked at Oliver Stone's JFK for clues on how to really mine the material for visual impact. Arendt's story certainly gives plenty to work with. Or even that excellent German film "The Lives of Others", which managed to make the image of a a guy sitting in a little room with headphones on interesting. The Arendt film is a real missed opportunity. Oh well.

Anyway, getting back to WAFerism: The ongoing hassles and weak official response to the storms in the Northeast US, Eastern Canada, and the UK look, to me, like signs of decline. Also troubling is the sitting-duck response of many (not all, to be fair) people in these communities. Jeepers, a century ago, you wouldn't have needed the government to tell you to check on your neighbours and to help out however you can. This lack of self-sufficiency in dealing with a storms *we knew were coming*, does not bode well. Ugh.

11:27 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Pink-

I actually liked it, tho I think she smoked too much. But as one reviewer said, the film wasn't really abt Eichmann; it was abt "independent woman stands up for truth." OK, but we needed to hear more abt the banality of evil, I'm thinking. Anyway...

Meanwhile, more evidence for mass CRE in the US:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/fracking-to-stand-still/article16055482/

Can u imagine such an essay appearing in the NYT?

mb

12:43 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Wafers (and Waferettes):

As we head into the new year, I wanna thank u all for making 2013 a rich experience. We've had a gd year, discussing all kindsa shit, and despite the trolls and buffoons, have emerged much stronger. Or perhaps because of them, who knows. But it's been fun, and at this pt, my personal philosophy is that if what yr doing isn't fun, u shd stop doing it immediately.

My Japan bk, BTW, is coming along; I'm now on the last chapter, and hope to wind it up in 2-3 weeks. Then I'll send the Word doc off to my colleagues at the U of Tokyo, and cross my fingers that they won't call me a henne gaijin (dumb foreigner) and blow it outta the water. Actually, the Japanese are far too polite to do anything like that, but I do need their input to make sure I didn't make any grotesque howlers (always a possibility). Anyway, w/a little luck, maybe it'll appear in print b4 2014 is out, quien sabe.

Then I hafta get busy preparing lectures for my visit to the U of Tokyo in April, and upon my return, lecs for the univ. network in Costa Rica in Sept. I was also hoping for a lecture invitation to Slippery Rock Community College, but so far it hasn't come thru (joke). But there's always Podunk U, eh wot?

Meanwhile, I've been thinking of making a short excursion to Vietnam while I'm in Japan (a mere 10 hrs away by plane). I figure I'll drop in on the Jane Fonda Institute for American Studies while I'm in Hanoi.

And of course, we are facing another yr of Ovomit and the further degradation of the country. More of Miley's tongue, Kim's buttocks, and the butchering of civilians in the Near East. Plus the droning of America, from sea to shining sea, w/the approval and applause of the American public. And then another yr of turkeys on the blog, telling me what the thing shd be abt, how I shd run it, what language I shd use, etc. Man, these folks make my day, I tell ya (and there's no stopping them!). We all need to accumulate urine for the great hose-out.

Plus, we can all look ahead to the Second Wafer Summit Mtg (1st was in Greenwich Village in Nov.) in Ireland, 1-5 June 2015. Mark yr calendars, Wafers, and start saving yr pennies, now.

That's all I got, chicos. Happy New Year.

mb

1:03 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Dr. B. - Sometimes when housemates are hogging bathroom I hafta pee in a jar. Should I stockpile for future ref?

3:31 PM  
Anonymous Birney Zouave said...

Reading Bruce Catton’s 1952 “Glory Road,” I came across this paragraph which seems to sum up the psyche of America itself. Its context is the sacking of Fredericksburg, Virginia, in 1862…

“This was the country of the boisterous forty-niner, the hell-roaring lumberjack, and the riverman who was half horse and half alligator. Without rancor (and also without the slightest hesitation) it annihilated Indian tribes so that it could people a wilderness, asserting that the only good Indian was a dead Indian and remarking casually of its own pioneers that the cowards never started and the weak died along the road. As it faced the cathedral aisles of endless virgin forests it shouted for immediate daylight in the swamp, even if whole generations must be brutalized for it. It was the country that invented the bucko mate and the Shanghai passage, and if the skysails of its incredible clippers gleamed on the farthest magic horizon they were taken there by men under the daily rule of clubs and brass knuckles. This nation accepted boiler explosions as the price of steamboat travel and it would boast presently of a dead gandy-dancer for every crosstie on the transcontinental railroad. It wore seven-league boots and scorned to look where it planted them, and each of its immense strides was made at immense human cost. And the army of this country, buckling down to it at last in a fight which had to go to a finish, was going to be very rough on enemy civilians, not because it had anything against them but simply because they were there.”

3:40 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Kev-

Given the trolls and buffoons who descend on this blog, not to mention the rest of the American population, we're gonna need all we can get. Hopefully many others will emulate your example.

Birney-

Cdn't be a better picture of who we are.

mb

4:38 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Dr. Berman, Banana Head, Zosima, infanttyrone, Capo, et al—

Re: Hearing the Word ‘Utopian’ on a Bus

Check out Jack London’s 1908 novel, “The Iron Heel”. In it he describes a lecture given by that generation’s equivalent of Morris Berman, and how effectively a business tycoon dismisses it with a single word. You guessed it – “utopian”. London then points out how easily a lifetime of brilliant study and thought can be neutralized with just one word when the public doesn’t want to hear the truth.

Amazon’s blurb on the novel said: “Set in the future, ‘The Iron Heel’ describes a world in which the division between the classes has deepened, creating a powerful Oligarchy that retains control through terror.” I guess we’re really entering that future. After WW II people described the book as “prophetic” because of what had happened in Europe. Now what’s happening in America makes it super prophetic.

Re: “What’s Your Solution?”

Jonathan Kozol, in “Death at an Early Age”, describes a teacher’s reaction to a poor ghetto student’s complaint that their old, tattered, and lily-white textbook was boring, stupid, and irrelevant. I paraphrase the teacher thus: ‘A lot of people worked very hard to write and produce this book. Can you make a better one?’ Not only does the poor kid have endure being in such a place, but she has to pretend to like it!

Yes, there are over 300-million Americans out there who are ready to hear “Have a nice day” and nothing else.

O&D,
David Rosen

4:55 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

I may have talked abt this b4, but if you google "heads wedged in rumps," you get 3 of my blog articles--that's it. No one else in the world has used that phrase, and certainly not with respect to American heads. This is very disturbing, really. I mean, if 'progressives' realized that Americans had their heads wedged in their rumps, we might start to get somewhere. And suppose Americans started saying to one another, when they parted, "Heads wedged in rumps," instead of "Have a nice day." That wd be a quantum leap in self-awareness, it seems to me. Starting in 2014, we need to launch a campaign along these lines, arguing that the trajectory of American decline might be halted if everyone in the country used the phrase at least 5x/day. It wd obviously make a gd post-it for Wafers, as well as a stunning Wafer T-shirt.

Also a gd daily headline in the NYT. When I was in college, I studied Russian for 2.5 years. I tried to read Pravda every day. Jesus, was it boring. The daily headline was some variant of "Millions Enslaved by Capitalism." True enuf, but then they were also enslaved by communism, and Pravda tended to avoid that fact. Also, how many times can u run that headline, really? But in the case of "Heads Wedged in Rumps," I think the Times cd run it every day for 10 yrs w/o exhausting the topic. All of us cd start writing for the paper, in fact, contributing our favorite stories; I cd quote from the morons and trolls that show up here. The horizon is infinite...

mb

5:33 PM  
Anonymous joe hohos said...

Dr. B, WAFer's,

Instead of wasting urine to soak the shoes of sad saps who will talk about miley and kim's rump while we do, and then an hour later wonder why their shoes are wet, let's put our urine to good use.
http://www.offgridworld.com/urine-powered-generator-produces-electricity-for-6-hours-on-1-liter-of-pee-power-your-home-with-waste/

Ellen,

Now the scrolling captcha is back to all words. It's kinda neat watching it change all the time.

Joe Hohos

6:36 PM  
Anonymous shep said...

Some words to remember:

"The mushroom strategy of the Main Stream Media."
*Mushrooms are kept in the dark and fed manure.”
__________

“Boeing the prime contractor for the U.S. ABM system—and Toys R Us. Yes, Toys R Us makes the guidance fins on the Iron Dome rocket.”

Bernie Sanders would love this one.
__________

“Charity is not justice.”
“Charity doesn’t get rid of poverty, but keeps it going.”
__________
Dr Berman.

U might find this doc. interesting.

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

Japan Behind The Mask - John Pilger

10:14 AM  
Blogger Dave Clark said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10:54 AM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Grtngs wfrs;

On the topic of "brittle" Americans ("progressives included), I've found that when posting at such places as Commondreams.org, I can say anything negative about Obama or some other individual, and there is generally a positive reaction, but if I say anything critical about the USA itself, the knives come out.

Regarding the term, "WAFer," if it is to mean the best that the USA can produce, that leaves us non-gringos out of the dictionary. I therefore resort to the old Anglo-Saxon term, "Wafmen" to describe us.

Someone in the previous blog article mentioned how Canadians patients don't threaten to sue nurses, as is apparently the case in the US. That may be, but we've become an increasingly litigious society ever since the 1982 repatriation of the constitution, which sadly put an end to the British North America Act and our tradition of prescription and muddling through the creation of legislation.

The new constitution introduced something called "The Charter of Rights and Freedoms," which mimicked the US constitution. Guess what happened? Suddenly we became litigious. Many Canadians now think of themselves as special beings worthy of suing anyone for an affront to their holy persons.

This was in the news a few days ago:

Hells Angels threaten lawsuit against Saskatoon company
Fired workers claim that company damaged their reputations


http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatoon/hells-angels-threaten-lawsuit-against-saskatoon-company-1.2469206

C'mon, the Hells Angels? Shouldn't they be whipping people with motorcycle chains, rather than attacking their victims with lawyers?

O&D

11:09 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

al-

Sorry, my bad: of course Wafers include non-gringos and folks from outside the US. I don't care for Wafmen since it excludes Wafwomen.

shep-

Many thanks. Someone once said that charity is the bourgeois form of justice.

mb

2:48 PM  
Anonymous Bingo said...

To Serve and Protect?

"Police Dog Bites Surrendering Man"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oc5H5GPE3P0

Julian

10:10 PM  
Anonymous Jerome Langguth said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

Happy new year to you and to all in Waferdom. One of the things I am most looking forward to in 2014 is the publication of your Japan book. I have been listening lately to the music of the contemporary Japanese composer Toshio Hosokawa and thought you might find his works interesting. Hosokawa's music is influenced by the Kyoto school, and "the way its practitioners deal with the contradiction between thinking- which is involved with European traditions-- and not thinking- which is Zen; how they try to find a balance and to create something new." It seems to me that the same could be said of your works, especially the consciousness trilogy. If you do not know him already, more information on Hosokawa can be found here:

http://www.karstenwitt.com/en/artist/toshio_hos
okawa/biography/

Jerome

7:15 AM  
Anonymous Bingo said...

Christmas Shopping – an American pastime....

"Hundreds of angry teens go on 'knockout' trashing spree in NYC mall":

http://rt.com/usa/brooklyn-teens-knockout-mall-917/

10:00 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Julian-

Not too far in the future, it'll be hundreds of thousands. Onward!

Jerome-

Thanks for the tip. I'm on my way out the door to Mexico City for a few days of R&R, but will def. check it out when I return.

Happy New Yr to u all, muchachos!

-El Berm

10:07 AM  
Anonymous politically incorrect said...

"Many Canadians now think of themselves as special beings worthy of suing anyone for an affront to their holy persons."

So where does that fit in with Canada being noted high on some "happiness Index"?

If that's true then is it just more of this eventual slide into the Abyss that the US is engaged in? Virilent capitalism infecting everything it comes in contact with?

It just goes to show that it may be only a matter of time for everyone else out there to be "in step" with us. (6 earth theory of consumerist expansion be damned) There really being no place to hide anymore. Maybe only "temporarily"?

I mean sure people don't like what they see happening ...but they like the comforts and trinkets too and you can't have both....

So places like those south of the border can stave off the flood a little longer but it's like entropy where eventually daily greetings could include the phraise "and fuck you too".... along with "salud". maybe a stretch but we never thought China would shake off communism and look at it now... perhaps this isn't a good example but a billion people looking toward the possibility of BMW's and all the other accompaniments? Sure they'll never afford it but just like people here can't afford it either...

I remember some commercial for ATT saying something to the effect:

"home sweet home...is never more than a phone call away...."

Ain't that the truth!

10:41 AM  
Anonymous shep (doomer) said...

El Berm,

I forgot to include Pilger's last sentence in his Japanese Documentary (1985 I believe).

“Despite all the pressures they live under, it seems to me that their everyday kindness, modesty, and grace remain unaffected. Of all their acheivements in recent years, this may be their greatess.”
__________
Little known factoid:
The Bishop of London's *hunting estate* had a *toll booth* where one of the main northern roads from London entered *His* land.
__________

Fr. Thomas Merton, dated December 13, 1960, IV.73:

"Prayer (yesterday's Mass) for Latin America, all of America, for this hemisphere—sorrow for the dolts, for the idiot civilization that is going down to ruin and dragging everything with it."
__________
"You only become a slave if u are afraid of dying." From the 80's film, "Quilumbo"
__________

Google has just purchased "Boston Robotics"?
Guess they are getting into the drone bus too?
__________

11:52 AM  
Anonymous Banana Head said...

Ok WAFers,

We've been talking about the stupidity of Americans quite a bit. What do you say we turn our attention toward the *viciousness* of Americans? I'm pretty sure this will be just as entertaining, with just as many examples.

Assuming this is fine, I'm going to start off with a few recent stories:
*Recently, there was a murder in Detroit over a pair of designer sunglasses;
*A woman stabbed her husband with a ceramic squirrel when he came home, for not picking up the beer she had asked him to get (all the stores were closed);
*Sexual assaults in the military have increased by 50% over the last couple years; prosecution of such allegations are still exceedingly rare.

Those are the stories I have right now.

4:05 PM  
Blogger pinkpearl said...

@El Berm - enjoy!

@WAFers - Re: empire etc, here is a very good documentary about the fall of Carthage, the Roman Empire and so on.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpaR6Sx3ZRg

7:29 PM  
Anonymous Edward said...

From article:

“[W]e knew in particular that one of our most formidable adversaries was not simply going to be the intelligence agencies on which we were reporting and who we were trying to expose, but also their most loyal, devoted servants, which calls itself the United States and British media.”

From comments:
I am losing interest more and more with msm, and tend to lean towards watching RT, Press TV, WorldLinkTV, freespeechtv, etc. The msm allowed the lies o 9/11, the WMD lies, etc, to prevail, and we are now engaged in dangerous stuff now because of it. America is a sinister nation now. We need to get back to what I thought America used to stand for....honesty, freedom, working for the common man. Mayb America was never any of that....

http://rt.com/news/greenwald-snowden-nsa-hackers-conference-889/

8:16 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Dear Dr. Belman:

There is no need to worry about "wafmen" excluding women, since the Old English "man" meant, according to the OED:

"A human being (irrespective of sex or age); = L. homo.

In many OE. instances, and in a few of later date, used explicitly as a designation equally applicable to either sex.
In OE. the words distinctive of sex were wer and wíf, wǽpman and wífman."

Come to think of it, "wafmen" is so close to "wyfman" (woman) that it purt'near excludes males.

O&D

8:20 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Wafers-

Am currently in Mexico City. No pastrami, but I had dinner with my publisher at an Italian restaurant. Meanwhile, here's an article I think we shd discuss: Emily Eakin, "The Civilization Kit," New Yorker, issue of 23/30 Dec. Check it out.

al: Wafpeople?

Pink: the Romans used salt; we use depleted uranium and agent orange. How long, O Cataline, will you abuse our patience?

Banana: A ceramic squirrel? This is a fucking joke, rt?

shep: I screened the doc. 1st-rate, thanks again. 1987, I think.

Pol: wasn't it "reach out and touch someone"? Soon: "Reach out and shoot someone!"

mb

11:06 PM  
Blogger Retter Hofbesitzer said...

Couldn't find a search. What's a wafer?

8:06 AM  
Anonymous Banana Head said...

MB,

It's not a joke. It really did happen. A woman stabbed her husband in the chest with a ceramic squirrel because he failed to bring home the beer that she wanted. The woman lied to the police and said her husband fell, but thanks to feminist political pressure, the woman isn't even being charged with lying to the police, and is being charged with domestic abuse instead of attempted murder. Think of how long a man would spend in jail if he did something similar. This woman's probably going to get out of jail in 6 months, and she tried to kill someone. Normally, I'd be ranting against the draconian sentences imposed on people by the American courts, but in this case, the reverse is true. Women can get away with just about anything in America, thanks to feminism.

As far as the '95 Smithsonian flap is concerned, I think it's more likely that your colleague only believed he "got back" at the cowardly staff on a personal level, not on a large-scale societal level. But even this is delusional: in all likelihood, none of the staff read what he wrote, or even heard about it. Only other progressives would have ever read it, and only a tiny handful at that. In this case, it really is true that if nobody hears the sound of the tree falling, it simply didn't happen.

9:56 AM  
Anonymous Kathy Sloan said...

Season's Greetings MB & WAFers!

I recently heard this statistic which I think tells you all you need to know: 49% of Harvard graduates are trained and go on to serve the financial sector and Wall Street; this does not include those who become corporate lawyers.

After World War I, the psychosis of permanent war was instituted in the United States. As soon as one enemy disappears, another one must instantly replace it. Thus America moves from the dreaded Hun to the dreaded Red; from anti-communism to the war on terror. The ruling class controls the masses through fear who acquiesce to their own enslavement in the process. For example, in the coal mines of southern West Virginia, the working class’ hero in 1912 was Mother Jones and now it is Sarah Palin.

Today less than 12% of the workforce is unionized in the U.S. and the vast majority of these workers are public sector employees who can’t strike.

The system that has been created in the U.S. is corporate totalitarianism. The criminalization of poverty, especially among poor people of color, is demonstrated by the mass incarceration of 2.2 million citizens, a total of 7 million if those on parole are included. The prison-industrial complex is run by a corporate, privatized system for profit.

Bill Clinton was a major facilitator of corporate government. He turned over the public airwaves to corporations; destroyed welfare, 70% of whose beneficiaries were children; tore down the division of banking between traditional functions and speculation/gambling; and pushed through NAFTA which devastated the American middle class and forced a huge migration of Mexican farmers, wiped out by corporate agribusiness, into the U.S.

Continuing the trajectory, Barack Obama functions as a brand for the corporate state. Advertising Age awarded Obama’s campaign its Marketer of the Year in 2008. Obama has conducted a massive assault on civil liberties, made the FISA Amendment retroactive to protect telecoms, used the Espionage Act of 1917 to silence whistleblowers more times than any president in history; and uses Section 1021 of the Military Authorization Act to carry out extraordinary rendition of American citizens, hold them in offshore U.S. penal colonies, and strip them of due process. Chris Hedges, Noam Chomsky and others sued the Obama administration over this unconstitutional act and it’s now making its way to the Supreme Court, a majority of whom have declared corporations to be human beings.

Corporate neo-feudalism is now global, a world of masters and serfs. The security and surveillance state has been created because the rulers know what’s coming with economic and environmental collapse. The Occupy movement rattled the corporate state and so it had to be destroyed. The systems managers and traders at Goldman Sachs are a collection of middle-aged fraternity and sorority members. The dead eyes and buzz haircuts of the enforcers of the security state are mirror reflections of the Stasi.

The collective pathology of money worship has finally devolved the U.S. into a rotting carcass. The Wall Street elite hoard commodity futures, causing the starvation of millions around the world, to feed the mania for profit; it is murder. The Wall Street elite’s lack of consciousness, worship of money, and incapacity for empathy make them the most susceptible to evil. They live in their elitist ghettos, congratulate themselves on pious acts of charity, and pay deference to systems of authority. Corporate culture absolves all of responsibility and requires passive acceptance.

In the final analysis, those few of us who understand the evil that is corporate neo-feudalism are forced to surrender our voices. This is the reality of 2013.

11:04 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Kathy-

You haven't been rdg my work, by any chance...?

Banana-

No, the guy actually believed that he had evened the score on a cultural level. Meanwhile, I'm disturbed that people even *own* ceramic squirrels. That in itself shd be a crime.

Retter, Mein Schatz-

Scroll back up, see my reply to Kirk Knighton. And please, always capitalize Wafers. Vielen Dank.

mb

6:42 PM  
Anonymous Kathy Sloan said...

MB, there's an honored section of my library devoted to the collected works of Professor Berman from which I frequently and proudly quote :)

The first book of yours I read was "Dark Ages America" and it was akin to the experience I had seeing my first Ingmar Bergman film: revelatory, mesmerizing and intensely profound.

To Banana Head: please do not engage in misogyny; WAFers by definition must be feminists. As Ani DiFranco famously stated: "Either you are a feminist or a sexist/misogynist. There is no box marked 'other.'" As a feminist leader myself, I have spent many years working against pervasive violence against women, rape culture, femicide, the feminization of poverty, sexual objectification of women, human trafficking, and all the myriad products of patriarchal misogyny.

10:52 PM  
Anonymous Suzanne said...

Now thanks to Bill Gates, WAFers have other uses for their urine:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2013/12/23/bill-gates-invests-in-the-urine-powered-mobile-phone/

11:39 PM  
Blogger GregJS said...

About the Emily Eakin, "The Civilization Kit," article in the recent New Yorker: I read it kind of quickly last week, so may be forgetting some things, but my general take is that an experiment of that nature – the guy featured in the story is trying to come up with a set of easy-to-follow plans for 50 machines (a tractor, a brick maker, etc.) that could be easily and cheaply assembled by any tiny community of people, which would then allow them to make whatever else they needed to function in a near-independent, decentralized way – could generate some very useful practical information. The emphasis of the article was too heavily on technology to be of great interest to me personally; but let’s face it: most of us in the civilized world have gone extremely soft, so we won’t stop sucking off the teat of centralized state power unless we feel somewhat assured of comfort and security. If an approach like this allows people to wean themselves from the mainstream and venture off to conduct experiments with alternative ways of living, then great. Anything that helps steer us towards decentralization seems like a good thing to me, even if, initially, it’s still based on fossil fuels and not particularly focused on NMI-type values. There is a certain “hump” of fear, uncertainty, and inertia that needs to be overcome on the way to trying out new ways of living, and this approach might help a few more – or maybe even many more – people to do that. I hope the guy succeeds. He seems pretty persistent – and skilled – so maybe he will.

12:09 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

WAFers,

I do not remember (senior deficit) how I got to this man named Marcin Jakubowski (I think it was on this here blog), but, here he is on a *TED* talk. He seems to be on the fence in some ways. He is a genius but words like 'technology' and 'industrial productivity" are part of his outlook. There are two places to click. Do both. One is a Vimeo on the right center and one is the TED talk on the left center.

We have lived on 40 acres for about 7 years and everything breaks all the time. Very frustrating. I wish I had discovered this long ago.

Doesn't really matter though. Collapse is near.

http://opensourceecology.org/wiki/GVCS
________________

9:12 AM  
Anonymous JWO said...

Hello all, 6 days away from the computer and I find lots of good stuff up here. A few things:

RE: Food in grocery stores. I read somewhere that all the food in grocery stores would equal around 4 days of food if, say, re-supply shipments were stopped. Not good.

RE: The circle jerk of progressive news. I was just talking with some guy at the bar last night. We were talking about living in the little blue bubble of the Twin Cities and some of Hedges work. The realization that 99% of the population would have no idea what we were talking about nor would care is one of the sadder parts about being a WAF-er.

RE: Eakin's article in the New Yorker. I wasn't able to access the whole thing, but dropping out via a self-sufficient lifestyle will probably be my way to survive in the US. However I am wary of techno solutions. They won't get you very far if you power is out for a week or a month! I got this book for xmas:

(http://www.amazon.com/Creating-Low-Budget-Homestead-Steven-Gregerson/dp/1610047621)

it has some great information, especially about off the grid power.

9:52 AM  
Anonymous Bruce Bennett said...

Hello WAFers -
To lead credence to the notion that Americans are dumb there is this - a new Gallup Poll shows that the most admired man and woman in the world are Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton! I'm sure the corporate types who back Hillary in 2016 will get a lift from this. However, the kicker is that George W. Bush came in second ahead of Pope Francis! The Pope has shown himself a definite improvement over his predecessors and has spoken out against the inequities of the capitalist system. However, Americans placed one of the most criminal, incompetent, reckless jerks to ever be in the Oval Office above him in admiration. Others who made the most admired list were Bill Clinton, Billy Graham, Bill Gates, Clint Eastwood and Ted Cruz. The woman's list includes Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama, Sarah Palin, Condeleeza Rice and Angelina Jolie. I know that polls are subject to criticisms but this is certainly telling. As an American I am embarrassed by this result.

11:18 AM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Dr. B

This "Who Knew" video confirms what you're talking about.
http://news.yahoo.com/video/whoknew-american-history-060000063.html

The article says "Scholars agree that one reason for the poor results is that America has a complex political system, which can take years to fully understand"

I disagree with what scholars say. It is not complicated at all. The US constitution lays out the blue print for how our federal government is supposed work. It is not a grantor of rights.

The bill of rights enumerate what our rights are meaning it just states them not grants them. Really, they're a bill of prohibitions on what the government is not allowed to do. The constitution is the set of constraints for what each branch of government is only authorized to do.

We have three branches of government called the Executive, Judicial and the legislative branch. Each of them have different functions to them. Each branch limits and checks the power of the other branches. This is called checks and balances.

What is so difficult about this? Why would scholars believe that this is difficult for people? Dr. B, if people find this difficult we're fucked as a nation.

11:32 AM  
Anonymous Golf Pro said...

There's a fascinating article here by John Simpson, the BBC's chief foreign correspondent:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2530571/100-years-World-War-I-I-believe-stand-crossroads-history-John-Simpson.html

What's interesting for WAFers is his casual acceptance of the USA's "continuing decline" and also how he doesn't see it as that big a deal in the global picture.

Simpson is about as establishment as you can get over here, so it's intriguing that he sees America as a hopeless cause.

11:50 AM  
Anonymous JWO said...

P.S. finally someone has put into words why TED talks really drive me crazy:

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/30/we-need-to-talk-about-ted

11:58 AM  
Anonymous Banana Head said...

Kathy,

I think the most significant - one could even say the final - transformation of American culture and politics occurred during the counterculture of the 60s. The message of the counterculture was this: "Fuck you, I'll do whatever I want, I don't care who I hurt, and I'm the only one who counts."

As Christopher Lasch diagnosed, this is a Culture of Narcissism. I'll go further and say this is also a Culture of Incivility. Fifty years later, things have only gotten worse.

12:28 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Suzanne-

Best thing wd b4 people 2b urinating on their cell pones.

JWO-

Post only once every 24 hrs, thanks.

Kathy-

Thank u. Some people have compared rdg my work to seeing a Woody Allen movie.

Bruce-

I'm confused. Was this a world poll or an American poll?

mb

1:22 PM  
Anonymous Bruce Bennett said...

I'll post twice today to answer your question, Mr. Berman. It was a US poll that asked what people in the world Americans most admired. Notice how few of the people were actually in the rest of world. Queen Elizabeth did made the woman's list. The results show how parochial we are.

2:54 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Bruce-

What a collection of horses' asses. But we already knew that. Also check out article in NYT by Stephanie Rosenbloom on American rudeness in public spaces. We already knew that as well. America is global nerve center of morons and boors. Need to put "Douche Bags United" on our legal tender.

mb

3:46 PM  
Blogger Cj said...

Hi Dr. Berman, watched an interesting documentary on Netflix titled 'American Addict' that to a large degree is about the influence Big Pharma has over the US government. After watching it's easy to see how the US government is in thrall to big corporations.

You may find it of interest.

Hope you have a great New Year!

Regards,
Chuck

4:31 PM  
Anonymous Politically Incorrect said...

Another poll => 33% don't believe in theory of evolution... cheer up, I'm sure if we all work hard enough we can round this up to a solid majority!

http://news.yahoo.com/one-third-americans-reject-evolution-poll-shows-191426764.html

5:44 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Can't say I agree with the Ani DiFranco quote. Reminds me of G.W. Bush - "Either you are with us or against us."

Banana, I feel the Sixties were more of a mixed bag. I experienced the counterculture quite positively, on the whole. There were some great things going on then, like open defiance of imperial wars and rejection of the consumerist paradigm. But it all failed because too many boomers sold out to become yuppies. Had they not joined the Reagan Revolution, Carter's proposal for energy conservation might have succeeded and we'd be in a much better situation today, economically, geopolitically, and of course in terms of energy, and for that matter climate change. But it's true civility took a big hit then. There was a huge spike in violent crime. Also, Robert Anton Wilson has pointed out that during the Sixties it once again became fashionable to engage in group hate, as long as the hated parties belonged to the correct group upon whom it is okay to discharge odium. Wilson was horrified by this.

I agree with JWO about TED talks. I was impressed by the first few I saw on video, but at a certain point I lost interest in them. They seem to me now like group therapy for privileged people.

9:34 PM  
Blogger pinkpearl said...

@cube - Actually the US system of government is kind of complex, though not necessarily more complex than that of other countries. You sketched out the federal system but there are also the state, county and municipal systems. Add the federal and state courts, assorted special-purpose quasi-judicial bodies and so on. All of this gets paid for by a whole bunch of taxes and *those* are all different depending on where you live too.

And that's just the basics. There is the whole issue of how these systems work on paper v. how they *really* work. It's actually a lot to know. *I* know more about it than the average person because I work in government and studied it at university, but there is still a lot I don't know.

Not that there is any excuse for not knowing the basic info from that article, but *real* understanding takes time and effort.

Considering Tainter's ideas about complex societies, I wouldn't rule out the possibility that the US system of government has gotten too complex. The average person just can't dedicate the time and energy necessary to understand it, never mind trying to influence it. Either way, we're fucked, as you noted.

11:29 PM  
Anonymous Golf Pro said...

TED exposed:

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

Truly essential viewing.

8:42 AM  
Anonymous xyz said...

Another survey of interest:

"A third of Americans reject the idea of evolution, a new Pew Research Center poll has found, including a majority of white evangelical Protestants (64%) and Republicans (57%).

That means one in three Americans would agree that "humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time."

This is embarrassing given overwhelming evidence that evolution is real (more on that below).

What's particularly disturbing is that the share of Republicans who don't believe in evolution has dramatically increased from 46% in 2009."

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/33-of-americans-dont-believe-in-evolution-2013-12#ixzz2p3vpKIta

There are detailed graphs I think you'll find very interesting.

9:24 AM  
Anonymous Banana Head said...

Kathy,

It is possible not to be a feminist and not be a misogynist, regardless of what you may think. The "you're either with us or against us" statement of yours reminds me of George W. Bush's attitude toward the international community regarding the wars he waged on Iraqi and Afghani civilians.

What's particularly disturbing is that you have remained completely silent on the actual issue I brought up - a likely 6 month prison sentence for the woman that tried to kill her husband. I imagine that if it was a man who was given a slap on the wrist for attempted murder of his wife, you'd be up in arms. Perhaps you believe this woman is a victim of the patriarchy, and that his wife, who attempted to kill him, is the real victim here? That would be a delusion of truly epic proportions. She attempted to kill her husband because he came home without the beer she wanted. She's not a victim; she's a monster.

The truth is, men these days have even more problems than women do. We are often drafted into the army and forced into suicidal situations on the battlefield. In America at least, 80 percent of homeless people are male. Men also get much longer prison sentences for committing the same crimes, and almost all incidents of police killing people involve only male victims. Men also have shorter lifespans, but women receive far more government funding for medical treatment and research. Lastly, in the under-30 age bracket, women out-earn men, graduate from college and high school at a much higher rate, and have a higher standard of living.

These are not trivial disadvantages. In fact, some of these disadvantages are problems that women as a group have never suffered, like the threat of being drafted and being forced into deadly situations. If you want to ignore all of this and claim men are still privileged, do so, but that would not be in keeping with reality, or with factual evidence.

I myself am a strong believer in women's rights, but I am opposed to feminism, because most feminists really do believe women are superior to men. And they are responsible for societal changes that now place men at a severe disadvantage...and then claim that this is progress. True progress would be equality between the sexes, and this is something that feminists usually oppose out of a wish for females to be the dominant, privileged sex, as men once were.

10:27 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

Well, another intrusion. Google is now messing with my e-mails & requires a sign-up to send some messages. Hell, why do that if they are recording all messages with their meta-data crap. Maybe they do not like me skipping the house numbers. Damn, of course, evil knows no bounds.

What do WAFers think of the topics of BITCOINS and payments to citizens to mimic QA (Taxi Driver: “THIS ISN’T A RECESSION, ITS A ROBBERY!”) by the Feds to stuff the pockets of the bankers?

http://rt.com/shows/keiser-report/episode-543-max-keiser-983/

11:24 AM  
Blogger Cj said...

Off topic but to me fascinating. Rip roaring critique of TED Talks..

Only 11 minutes long.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yo5cKRmJaf0

Transcript: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/30/we-need-to-talk-about-ted

Regards,
Chuck

12:14 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

xyz-

Pls post only once every 24 hrs, thank u.

Pink-

Govt is rational only on paper or a flow chart. These don't include lobbying and special interests, for example, or the emotions that drive all of this shit. "House of Cards" is an accurate portrayal of how Washington actually works. Cube, I'm begging u, give up logic as a way of understanding human reality. It's causing u2c less, not more.

Chuck-

Gd hearing from u, amigo. Have a great 2014.

On another topic: I happened 2c a TV program last nite, something called "Criminal Minds," and the story line involved the notion that some of the Roma, or Romani people (popularly known as Gypsies), practice a ritual killing of 10-yr-old girls from mainstream society. I cd hardly believe what I was seeing; it didn't seem much different than the medieval blood libel against the Jews. The show ended with the implication that this was a practice that was spreading or continuing throughout our society. I simply cannot understand what was in the mind of the writer (the libel has no basis in fact), or how the show got by the producers. But I am horrified that an entire ethnic group is slandered on a network TV show as perpetrators of grisly, ritual crimes. WTF? I'm guessing that (like me) not too many Romani watch televisión; but I wonder if anyone has called the network to protest.

mb

12:47 PM  
Anonymous Savantesimal said...

Not watching television very much, you seem to have lost some of the visual "vocabulary" of how things are presented. Criminal Minds is fiction, though of course presented in a way to make it seem like a documentary. The Romani family is simply a criminal family, though the name is clearly inspired by the proper name of the people known as Gypsies in popular culture. There have in fact been some complaints about that particular episode because it basically repeats many of the well-known stereotypes of gypsies in a slightly adjusted way -- using a single family with the name of that people.

2:06 PM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...

MB and Wafers,

Hello. Returning to U.S. from other countries and after being total away from U.S. Media (those who live away, I suggest that if you live out of the U.S. really get out of it--no u.s. media or culture, or checking your favorite sites--its hard but worth it).

Back to cases and yet one more mite on the ontology of the state of the american empire. Its striking how the U.S. is governed on the same principles that govern marketing for consumer goods and finance. Its all promotion and message--there is no governing. The obama care racket was promoted as getting more for less! Immigration, economic policy are run as promotions and not governance. Its fascinating. It remineded me that Earl Shorris was prescient in his very well done "Nation of Salesmen". So back to ontology--is the United States, a society, a culture, an empire, a nation? In my view none of the foregoing, its an agglomeration of twits feasting upon the decaying carcass of what was once a remarkably successful outpost of european culture. It is now neither successful or european in any meaningful measure.

Then there is corruption as there is no governance or principles only message, promotion and appearance.The most sensible thing I have read from a politician in years was by a republican senator from Oklahoma, Sen Coburn in the WSJ. Worth.

On for Pink and Cube....Look to the novelists to make things clearer. Joseph Conrad the Secret Agent and Vassily Grossman's Life Flows and or LIfe and Fate will be dark on some levels but will enlighten you on a key reality--the institutions which govern human affairs have since the enlightenment become based on myths and nothing else. Despite massive evidence to the contrary people persisted in communism and now persist democratic socialism, globalisation, progress, scientific progress, democracy, the idiotic view of americans both right and left and so forth.

4:35 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

MB,

During my holidays with friends and family I was thinking of your claim that the vast majority of Americans, including "progressives," are intellectually clueless. My friends and family are perfectly nice people and even share some of my views, but it's pretty much impossible to get any kind of conversation going on about current events. It's as if my friends and family (who are representative of most Americans in this respect) are willfully ignorant of what's happening around them. It's all quite distressing really, especially when you consider the people I'm talking about have advanced degrees and are by no means stupid people.

Banana Head:

Your comments contained some inaccuracies I thought should be pointed out.

"We are often drafted into the army and forced into suicidal situations on the battlefield."

The US does not have the draft. Americans who go into the army do so not because of a draft, which ended in 1973, but because they choose to do so.

"I myself am a strong believer in women's rights, but I am opposed to feminism, because most feminists really do believe women are superior to men. ... True progress would be equality between the sexes, and this is something that feminists usually oppose.."

There is a whole subset of feminism known as equality feminism, going back to one of the most important feminists, Mary Wollstonecraft, and continuing today. The evidence goes against your claim that "most feminists" oppose equality between both genders.

8:06 PM  
Anonymous Banana Head said...

Hey Kathy,

Did you know that many of your feminist colleagues are trying to change the legal system so that men are assumed guilty of sex crimes and violent crimes, and have to somehow prove themselves innocent? This is an attempt to deny men due process - just as the NDAA denies due process for many Americans. If you're in favor of men being assumed guilty until proven innocent, then you really are no better than an Obama or a Cheney, for obvious reasons. Men have the right to due process. It doesn't matter what we're accused of; we have the same right to consideration as women do, regardless of what feminists might think.

I would also point out, Kathy, that your whole theory about men being evil and privileged and women being pure-hearted victims is extremely, extremely bigoted. It demonizes men, upholds women as perfect (no race or sex or ethnicity is perfect), and brings to mind the attitude of the Puritans towards Native Americans, the attitude of so many present-day Americans toward Arabs, or the Medieval blood libel against Jews. Your whole feminist patriarchy theory is fundamentally about female self-exaltation and self-worship; it allows you to see yourself as perfect and see all those who disagree with you as being worthless at best, or contaminants to be eradicated at worst. In that sense, it's an us-vs.-them, black-and-white worldview no different in its basic structure than fundamentalist Christianity. It is this kind of thinking that is the real evil in the world, the kind that leads to permanent war, genocide, totalitarianism, and oppression.

On a final note, you have no right to tell me I'm a feminist if I'm a WAFer. I am a WAFer but not a feminist; I decide what my ideals are, not you. I'm willing to listen to constructive discussion and argumentation, but I will not have you tell me what I really believe in. It is also extremely arrogant of you to decide for Morris Berman what his trilogy on the decline of America means, ideologically speaking - that is, to decide for him whether or not his own books and his own ideas actually support feminist thinking. Something tells me that Morris Berman himself is the only one who could really make that decision.

11:14 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Banana-

I don't remember Kathy saying that my America trilogy was feminist in orientation, but I cd be wrong. Myself, I wasn't particularly focused on gender issues when I wrote those bks.

Mike-

Yeah, "stupid" is not esp. restricted to low IQ. Robt McNamara (e.g.), one of the thickest morons the world has ever seen, had a very high one.

Sav-

It hardly matters that the show is fiction; that episode presents a view of the Romani that is not merely wrong, but a horrific slander. Viewers are not going to say, "Oh, this is just fiction." Rather, they are going to take a particular view of these people away with them. (Cf. "The Merchant of Venice"). And "Romani" is conventionally used to refer to the Roma, not to a particular crime family; and within the show, it was *never* used to refer to a crime family, not once. The Roma/Romani were depicted as people involved in the ritual slaughter of white 10-yr-old girls as part of their culture. Who speaks for them, in objection to what is really a blood libel?

mb

11:45 AM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Dr. Berman, Sav, Wafers –

Josef Goebbels was right on when he said the most effective political propaganda is entertainment. Although he did us all the favor of killing himself back in 1945, Goebbels’ spirit is alive and well in American television and movies as they manipulate and reinforce slanderous stereotypes.

Capo –

It’s not only expats who need to avoid US media and culture. Can you imagine trying to follow a new monastic route with Fox News blaring in your ear? While Fox News is blatant, all American media is full of both overt and subliminal propaganda. (But of course we don’t consider Morris Berman’s books and blog to be part of American media and culture!)

George Bernard Shaw said that America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without passing through civilization. Whatever the US was at its apogee – as happens to every declining civilization – it is rapidly becoming a caricature of itself. If it wasn’t so dangerous and destructive, it would be funny.

David Rosen

2:59 PM  
Blogger pinkpearl said...

@Capo, please read my posts carefully if you are going to respond to them. cube & I were discussing a different issue altogether, not the extent to which government is based on myths. I wasn't seeking advice on understanding government. I *work* in government, in the belly of the beast. And why assume that I haven't already read Conrad and Grossman?

@WAFers, it's 2014! I feel certain that this year will give us plenty to discuss. Things will just get worse and worse, but it's all OK because Kim K will marry Kanye West and the Duchess of Cambridge will get sprogged up again!

4:30 PM  
Anonymous Ken Smith said...

Regarding the Roma people, sometimes the prejudice and slander comes from normally respectable sources, such as The New York Times. Two months ago, my son, a professor of philosophy at Université Paris Diderot - Paris 7, wrote a letter to the Times to protest an article published the previous week titled, “Are the Roma Primitive, or Just Poor?”

The protest letter, signed by 38 academics in Europe, Canada and the United States, expressed dismay that the Times would publish such an article. The letter said, in part:

"The headline pretends to present two sides of a legitimate debate, when in fact the first horn of the dichotomy has no place at all in civil discussion, in Europe or America. The article makes it appear acceptable to debate as a serious issue whether Roma culture will effectively be a plague on Europe until this culture is renounced by its members through assimilation."

Here is the letter to the editor:

A Group Letter to the New York Times on the Plight of the Roma in Europe

6:43 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Ken-

What cd be more disgusting, really? I still can't believe that TV show, can't believe the producer wd let it thru.

DR-

Actually, I think it was Georges Clemenceau who said it, but apparently there is a debate abt it.

Meanwhile, I wish all Wafers a Happy New Yr. I went to a dinner party in Coyoacán, the southern part of Mexico City, and had loads o' fun. As Pink says, 2014 will give us lots to talk abt, esp. in terms of massive stupidity of the nation and its unlucky inhabitants. I'm looking forward to releasing the pb edn of WAF b4 2 long, and to more troll and buffoon attacks on me and the blog. Tighten yr seat belts, muchachos, it's going to be an exhilirating ride (did I spell that rt?).

mb

8:46 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Happy New Year Dr. Berman and Wafers,

MB, Wafers-

I sincerely hope you and all Wafers had wonderful New Year's celebrations. I spent a quiet evening at home listening to my Miles Davis LP, "Sketches of Spain" and pouring a few cocktails, courtesy of Ballantine's; JFK's drink of choice, BTW.

As I sat there, quietly listening to Miles, it struck me as to just how lucky I am to be a Wafer in a world of non-Wafers. Resisting douchebaggery in a sea of douche bags is just as important as discovering a great new pastrami Reuben, it seems to me. Of course, America will continue to devour its own douche bags and shit them back out at MB and the rest of us Wafers throughout the course of 2014 and beyond. Of that there is no doubt. Yet, despite this endless stream of nincompoops, thugs, hustlers, and douche bags a genuine person is bound to emerge and climb outta the American cesspool and find this blog. And this ain't just the booze talkin'... it's a site to behold and a very fabulous thing indeed!

Anyway, my hope for 2014 is that many, many more souls will awaken to the truth about the suicide death cult that is America, its soullessness, its lack of real values and discover the virtues of Waferism. Hopefully, they will join the conversation that exists here and pursue the journey of a douche bag free existence. This philosophy, I think, can be summed up in a possible T-shirt idea:

front: BE A WAFER
back: THE SOUL YOU SAVE WILL BE YOUR OWN

Happy New Year, Wafers! And, as always, O&D!

Jeff

9:43 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

I really don’t see why WAF should should generate much heat from trollish sectors. Its basic point is that America’s failure was in its not listening to its (tiny) alternative tradition and so it didn’t question or try to slow down capitalist growth and all its attendant ills. But this fact should cheer up the usual swarm of right-wing orcs who patrol the internet. However, the fact that WAF leads one to the obvious conclusion that America never will be influenced by any critique offering a change of direction, this should cause consternation among the rapidly shrinking segment of progressive hopey changey types. But these are not the types who speak their truth to power rudely.
No, my guess is that attacks on you derive mainly from the anti-empire focus of DAA and your concerns about drone attacks. Since “Spiritual Industrial Complex” has now replaced Communism with Islam, your concern for drone victims represents an attack on their religion, which is now focused on hatred of Muslims. What it comes down to is that any American who doesn’t want to see Muslims killed is a traitor and a heretic combined. A good place to see this religion preached is at the NRO, where you’ll learn there are no innocent Muslims in the Middle East. Based on the fact that millions of Americans practice this religion, I would say that anyone who has expressed concern for victims of drone attacks, as you have, who gets less that 50 troll attacks a day, should consider himself lucky.

3:05 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Regarding the TV calumny against Romani people (I thought it was Romany?), I'm convinced and have been for a long time that US media are fully capable of systematically fomenting hatred in the public mind. They're far beyond mere corruption now. I bet they'd happily serve a regime every bit as mass-murderous as the Third Reich. And it wouldn't astonish me if they got the chance.

3:20 AM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...

DR,

You are correct. The U.S. is rather like the aging actress Nora Desmond in Sunset Strip! Yes you return to the U.S. and the need for people to be right, to lecture and to be smug and hectoring is overwhelming. This reminds me....


Pink,

Whats with your hostility?

You wrote about government as well as its complexity in your post. I added a comment in response on the myth basis of institutions (including but not limited to government )--a clear connection.

My comment good faith contribution toward dialogue. You seem not to grasp the spirit in which my comment was was intended nor its meaning or how one generates dialogue from a complementary idea.

As you have read Conrad and Grossman which one is closest to MB's work? Which devices do they use respectively to demonstrate fragility of human institutions? Do you think Grossman a Wafer? If so why?

7:50 AM  
Anonymous Bingo said...

Happy New Year, MB & Wafers! I have a feeling 2014 will be the Perfect Storm year, when Kim Kardashians’s ass and Myles Cyrus’s vile tongue will intersect, with dire consequences for the American Empire.

Savantesimal,

Evidently you never had to deal with gypsies first hand. I realize that this will not sound politically correct, but by en large, this highly romanticized group of people are basically a bunch of amoral psychopaths structured in a caste system, still living in the Middle Ages. For the past 1000 years, which is about when they migrated to Europe from India, the gypsies have refused to integrate into any of the European cultures where they lived. There used to be lots of them here in Romania, causing massive criminality problems. All affirmative action efforts of the current, as well as the prior communist regimes failed miserably. They simply refuse to be socialized and integrated into society, instead opting for a life of crime, begging, human trafficking, hustling, etc. Many haven’t even learned the local language. The only good thing about them is that after Romania joined the EU, gypsies migrated en mass to Western Europe, where stealing and hustling is working out better than here. Of course, they travel with Romanian passports, which gave this country a bad name. But the good thing is that ever since they left, criminality here is very low.

Just ask any French or Italian people to tell you about the ravages that migrating Eastern European gypsies have inflicted upon their countries. Or, ask any British person about how the Romanian gypsies are abusing UK’s welfare system, while also stealing full time. Last I heard, they found a route to get to Canada, where stealing is great and welfare best in the West. So, watch out, Canada!

Sav, if you ever find yourself in Eastern Europe, drop me a line, and I’ll give you a car ride through some gypsy areas. You will see huge tacky Disneyland-style castles which cost millions of dollars to build. All that money was generated from stealing, begging, and human trafficking in Western Europe. The amazing thing about these “castles” is that few of them have electricity or running water. How is that for a Medieval culture? Like I said, this and the prior regimes tried to integrate them, but failed. The communists used to give them free apartments, but the gypsies moved their horses in, ripped out the parquet and made a bond fire in the middle of the apartment. Today, they have fully subsidized spots reserved in all universities, but few of them ever enroll. Few of them even bother to finish 4 grades.

So, Sav, please don’t tell anyone about how wonderful the gypsies are, and how unfairly they have been treated. Their culture simply is not compatible with a modern society, and they refuse to change.

And this advice to Western European: please stop giving money to gypsy beggars. You only reinforce their behavior of ruthlessly exploiting their own children. Trust me, they already have more money that you ever will, and none of the money you give them will help their children.

Julian

10:36 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Kev-

Nor wd it surprise me if the NYT was leader of the pack. Man, are we in trouble or what?

Zos-

It is quite amazing, I grant u, but keep 2 impt facts in mind:
1. Most Americans are not very bright. This is a baseline reality in our sad country.
2. Many, apparently, have lots of time on their hands, and nothing better to do than unload their pain and rage on a minor intellectual figure who is not even on the radar screen. This too is a sad thing.

Jeff-

I wd also suggest:
SO MANY DOUCHE BAGS!
SO LITTLE TIME!

mb

10:38 AM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Hiya Wafland:

For those of you who look to Ani DeFranco for guidance in the ways of political correctness:

Ani Difranco fans slam singer over plantation retreat location

Difranco agreed to host a 4-day songwriting workshop in Louisiana which, according to the invitation, was meant to offer fans a chance to exchange ideas and make music with the folk singer for a mere $1,000 a ticket.

http://www.cbc.ca/newsblogs/yourcommunity/2014/01/ani-difranco-fans-slam-singer-over-plantation-retreat-location.html

That's a purdy good hustle.

Hmmm, Sunset Boulevard you say? I just had an image of Nora Desmond, as a withered USA, sidle up to her cellfone, and coo, "I'm ready for my selfie, Mr. DeMille."

11:59 AM  
Anonymous Golf Pro said...

Perhaps a new T-shirt should say:

SAY NO TO ROMAPHOBIA!

12:13 PM  
Blogger bowtiejack said...

Of course, during the decline of the Roman Empire, the focus was on "bread and circuses".

Just so in over 80% of the United States, the highest paid public employee is a football or baseball coach.

http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2014/01/priorities.html

4:34 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Wafers,

Over the decades I’ve collected a large library, and while packing it up for the move to Mexico I occasionally open something to see what jumps out at me. I hope Wafers won’t mind if I share today’s findings.

The Anglican bishop, Stuart Y. Blanch, who apparently was quite at home in world literature, began “The World our Orphanage”, his 1972 book on biblical theology thus:

“T.S. Eliot in his time expressed as well as any man the foreboding which sensitive souls felt as they viewed the development of Western Society – ‘a giant orphanage where no one knows his origin and no one ever comes to call for him.’ Eliot was born in 1888.”

While this should be clear to even a retarded reptile in today’s America, the only “sensitive souls” left seem to be people known as Wafers!

Later on, Blanch considers the possibility that the book of “Ecclesiastes” is of the same genre as Dag Hammarskjold’s “Markings”, and that “the author was keeping the ancient equivalent of a five year diary.”

Years ago, that sent me hunting for a copy of “Markings”, and when I opened it I found the following:

“Upon your repeated cowardice, your continuous lies, sentence will be passed on the day when some exhibition of your weakness, itself, perhaps, quite trivial, deprives you of any further opportunities to make a choice – and justly.
“Do you at least feel grateful that your trial is permitted to continue, that you have not yet been taken at your word?”

How I wish we could say that to Obama with full confidence that it would come true in his lifetime – as it did for Nixon.

Dr. Berman,

You’re right – I got the wrong George. It was Clemenceau who realized that Americans were too preoccupied with hustling to do civilization. It does sound like something Shaw would have said, however.

O&D,
David Rosen

7:15 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Julian-

For another take, you might want to click on the link in Ken Smith's post, above. Also keep in mind that refusal to be assimilated into modern society might be a sign of great intelligence.

mb

8:13 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

China Watch:

This is from Reuters from a few days ago. President Xi Jinping believes China is losing its moral compass, and wants the Communist Party to be more tolerant of traditional faiths, "in the hope these will help fill a vacuum created by the country's breakneck growth and rush to get rich." He's troubled by the combo of moral decline and hustling, apparently. Between 2008 and 2012, 143,000 gov't officials were convicted of graft or dereliction of duty. He sees a "moral numbness" taking hold. Xi understands that what is needed is a complete reform of the political system.

So in the English Preface to the Mandarin trans of WAF, I said China was the US in Mandarin and engaged in massive CRE. I'm hoping Pres. Xi likes the bk ("Belman!" he cried; "Belman!").

mb

9:18 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

Regarding the Mandarin edition of WAF, would it be overreaching if you were to suggest that the publisher consider a red binding for the book?

I don't think Mao would mind.

Worth a try?

9:49 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jas-

As long as it's a *little* red bk, so that the crowds in Tiananmen Square can wave it as they cry, "Belman! Belman!"

Favorite saying in the bk: "Political power grows out of the barrel of an egg roll."

mb

11:06 PM  
Blogger GregJS said...

Happy New Year Dr. B and Wafers!

Here's something in the "this is not a joke (but I wish it was)" department...

Actual top headline on CNN.com right now:

"26 movies added to Netflix streaming"

No, that is not a misprint. And I don't even care if all 26 happen to be genuine masterpieces of cinematography; this is still the absolute dumbest headline I've ever seen on a major news outlet. Pure, unvarnished newsvertisement. I wanna puke.

But I'm sure it will be surpassed by something even dumber in no time.

Is there still any room left to go onwards and downwards?

12:01 AM  
Anonymous ellen said...

Bingo,
For months now the papers here in Britain have been full of horror stories of what would happen on Jan 1st when we will be overrun with hordes of free-loading Bulgarians and Romanians--it hasn't happened. The only Romanians/Bulgarians that could be found entering the country were those who are already resident here and returning from a Christmas break.
Exactly the same stories about the horses and fires in the flats were told about the feckless Irish 60 years ago, when landlords with rooms to let would put notices in their windows: 'No dogs, No children, No Irish'

Whilst living in Holland and Germany, I became great friends with a large and welcoming family. The father was Romany and the mother had been a Red Army soldier, captured and, as a former POW, liable to be shot as a deserter if returned to the Motherland, so essentially a displaced person. The two had met in a concentration camp and subsequently married. That's true romance, the triumph of hope over experience. :P
Through them I got a bit of an insider's view of some of the Romany enclaves that are positioned in the no-man's lands (they don't pay taxes)on the grens between countries in Europe. A very different, interesting and powerful culture, with its own share of rogues and villains, like any other culture.

They don't have any intention of assimilating but I still count the remaining sons of the family as very good people and amongst my most trustworthy friends. I learnt a lot from them and consider myself privileged to have been allowed close enough to learn.

Britain has been subject to constant waves of immigration since the Angles and Saxons first overran the Picts and us Celts. We can handle a few Bulgarians and Romanys.

4:00 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Ellen-

Thanks for the personal angle on this subject; always helps.

Greg-

CRE deepens on a daily basis. I'm sure 2014 will bring us cnn headlines such as: "Miley Cyrus Talks About Her Tongue," or "Photo of Kim's Rump to Be Placed in the Smithsonian." I'm guessing they will not run anything along the lines of "American Culture Is a Pile of Shit," tho that could be the daily headline at cnn and the NYT for the next 20-30 yrs.

mb

8:22 AM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...

The plight of the Romany and Bulgarians. This is a controversial but not for reasons thought. Its part and parcel of the times. Whilst UK has 5 million people of african and asian (mostly india and pakistan) it is verbotten to speak of many of their unwillingness to assimilate via PC speech codes. ie.e pakistanis not assimiationg, continuing to marry cousins and then the race riots of 2011 all make the Romay look like pikers in the non-assimilationaist sweepstakes. The Bulgarians and Romany are well white and thus much of the animus held for other immigrants is focused in acceptable fashion on them. Shame really. You see it in U.S. Knock out game enthusiasts are characterized as troubled youths but once a white guy did it, a major federal case enthused. Its not about race (and I am no racist) but rather consistence and logic shorn of politics.

9:59 AM  
Anonymous Banana Head said...

In America, stupidity is considered chic (although nobody will ever put this in such an intellectually honest manner). Look at the winners of any reality TV show; the only type of intelligence they have is the ability to lie convincingly, manipulate coldly, and backstab cruelly. This is, quite frankly, sub-human behavior, but American culture looks up to this kind of behavior as an ideal. If it didn't, TV wouldn't be overrun with reality shows that offer these people huge sums of money as a reward for this kind of behavior. Real intelligence, like creativity, sensitivity, compassion, solidarity, and insight will see a person voted off any reality show, effectively disappeared. Chris Hedges has written brilliantly about all of this at Truthdig.

Unfortunately, I'd have to say that my parents suffer from CRE, especially my mother. My father, although he suffers less from CRE, is also a very angry, very nasty person. The rest of my relatives suffer from CRE for the most part - some of them are definitely sociopaths. Only my gf is different.

I gotta tell you Morris, and fellow WAFers, I can't relate to many people in America - where I'm stuck for now. I don't understand why everything has to be so nasty, so treacherous, so callous. I don't understand the sheer level of drama that occurs in most interpersonal relationships, or why Americans are intent on living this kind of lifestyle. I know they're attached to their unconscious ideals and suffer from extreme narcissism, but for fuck's sake, this kind of living is so alienating and excruciating that I just can't wrap my brain around the desire to adhere to it, even taking those factors into consideration. It's like choosing to be locked inside a soundproof coffin with needles stuck in your dick for 78 years (about the average life expectancy in America, for now).

3:01 PM  
Anonymous Kevin said...

Interesting (short) article on hucksterism from David Graeber - it appears that the observation is catching on!

http://thebaffler.com/past/buncombe

5:59 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Wafers,

I’m throwing PC overboard as I sail into the treacherous waters around the Gypsies in Europe.

I don’t for a minute doubt what ellen says about the people she’s known. However, having known many people from Eastern Europe and having traveled through Hungary and Czechoslovakia, I’ve seen and heard enough think that the general picture Julian has drawn is based on reality. After a thousand years it’s probably impossible to tell whether problematic behavior of significant part of the Gypsy population is the result of persecution, or if the persecution results from the behavior.

While developing her ideas about ‘synergy’ in different cultures, anthropologist Ruth Benedict compared two groups of cultures; one she found ‘attractive’ and the other ‘unattractive’. I think that’s legitimate, but I try not to prejudge people I meet based on my impression of their culture.

While every people should learn to live respectfully with those around them, I reject the idea that minorities should give up their language and culture, and assimilate into the majority society. Moreover, the experience of German Jews in the 20th Century shows that assimilation won’t save you anyway. Hell, capitalism has given rise to forms of culture that should be rejected! And doesn’t the New Monastic option involve an outright rejection of ‘modern’ majority culture?

But modern culture is rejected by both Wafers and gangs of thugs, and I know there are cultures that foster extremely destructive behavior – sometimes self-defeating or self-destructive, and sometimes behavior toward others that nobody should be expected to tolerate.

Much of what we think we know is wrong, and traditional liberal or conservative thought can’t even define this problem accurately, much less solve it.

Remember, there’s a shit storm coming, so get ready to witness some unpleasant realities. Capitalism will not be singing its swansong in a rose garden.

David Rosen

7:27 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

Emilio Estevez directed a film, called "The Way", starring his father. It has a powerful scene involving gypsies, I recommend it. Ive grown up with stories/slander of the tinkers and knackers, have seen a few in Ireland...I'm with Ellen. The damage people must endure to go along and get along in many social systems, especially capitalism, easily warps them into hating those who wont take that same crap. I think MB is right, they're taking a smarter approach than most.

8:09 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Well, Waferinos, this gypsy discussion has been very fruitful, if nothing else. And for that we hafta thank "Criminal Minds." I'd love to launch a series called "Criminal Behinds." It wd be abt the daily behavior of Americans, who think w/their rear ends and do it in a nasty and destructive way. Not completely dissimilar to my project to start something called "Assbook," w/Kim being Member No. 1. This also reminds me of a movie Andy Warhol made in the 60s called "Mondo Buttock," which showed 30-second slide exposures of naked rear ends, for 8 hrs. (Do the math!) As a takeoff on that, Peter Sellers starred in "I Love You Alice B. Toklas," in which he was supposed to go w/his girlfriend to a film called "Mondo Teeth"--same idea. One thing Wafers can be proud of is their occasional willingness to skate along the edge of utter dementia.

mb

8:42 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and Wafers,

MB-

I haven't seen the Warhol film. Thanks for the recommendation. Suffice it to say, that's a whole lotta ass! "Assbook" is a great project idea. I suggest Sarah's ass deserves a spot w/in the top 10. You know, my lifelong dream is to open a deli named "Mondo Pastrami" in LA; "Mondo Taco" would work as well...

Banana-

Great observations and, sad to say, completely true. CRE is on autopilot at this point in our history and runs rampant in the US. There's simply no way of stopping it, short of inserting nano drones inside every asshole in the nation. What a mess that'll make, yes?

Jeff

9:30 PM  
Anonymous Mikbeth said...

MB,

Well I just came back to the blog to see if the everything is still falling apart...good to see nothing has changed! Truth be told, I can barely summon up any interest to pay attention or read up on current events as it is just too depressing. My family life is challenging enough I just can't absorb too much more.

Besides I've had my head buried in my NMI activity of writing my family history. I realized the other day that the known history extends back 400 years and essentially traces the rise (and now fall) of capitalism. I'm actually using your work to inform my understanding of how my ancestors responded to the social, economic and political context.

On another note, I barely survived the consumerism of the Christmas season. My kids got more stuff than they know what to do with -- all purchased by my well-meaning wife and in-laws. I have hardly any influence in my own house. I'll spare you any further details.

My New Year's resolution is to become conscious of my "inner" hustler to see the many ways in which I too am caught up in the American nightmare.

Regards,

Mikbeth

9:44 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Mik-

Gd idea. Also try to become conscious of yr inner Kim.

Jeff-

Think abt this, then:

I read the news today oh, boy
Four thousand holes in blackburn, lancashire
And though the holes were rather small
They had to count them all
Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the albert hall...

I'm convinced Lennon was referring to assholes. This is why I am a Lennonist. (Just think how different Russia wd have turned out if they had followed John instead of Vladimir.)

mb

11:30 PM  
Anonymous Mondo Tuckus said...

MB, I can imagine that Russia scenario quite easily. It isn't hard to do. I would also suggest that in addition to swapping Lennon for Lenin, that they had swapped Marx, Groucho for Marx, Karl. Now that would have made for a revolutionary alternative.

5:05 AM  
Anonymous ellen said...

Capo Regime,

The 2011 London riots weren’t about race, they were very much multi-cultural youth riots. The rioters that I saw were all colours. We have had race riots here but those in 2011 were sparked by anger against the police who had shot dead a young, mixed-race hoodlum for no particular reason. They were then caught lying about the circumstances, concocting evidence and as the final triggering insult, they arrogantly refused to respond to the hoodlum’s white mother when she asked for an explanation of why her son was dead.

It was starting to look like a pattern after the death by police baton of Ian Tomlinson in the G20 protests in 2009 and the shooting of Menezes. Each time the police lied and got caught lying.
The 2011 riots were, in fact, so much equal opportunity riots that even the EDL, our home-grown white supremacist fascists, tried ( unsuccessfully ) to join in the orgy of destruction that ensued.

I don’t know of anyone at all who gives two hoots about whether the 300+ different ethnicities living here assimilate or not. That is a talking point fretted over only by op-ed writers trying to flog newspapers and politicians desperately scraping the barrel for votes.
The 300+ types of us ordinary working folk generally rub along and tolerate each others foibles pretty well.

Ye gods, if everyone assimilated we’d be eternally condemned to a diet of rosbif and fish and chips instead of the wonderful balti curries we get now—not to mention the other 300+ international eating options.

Here's some Lennonist rhetoric:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PN9n1bAahg4

'Sounds of laughter shades of life
are ringing through my open ears
inciting and inviting me
Limitless undying love which
shines around me like a million suns
It calls me on and on across the universe'

6:26 AM  
Anonymous Holzwege said...

Dr. Belman,

I have been meaning to ask whether you ever heard from the person who was going to compare the English text of your preface to the Chinese edition of WAF to the Chinese translation.

Best wishes to you and all fellow Wafers for a happier new year!

6:56 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Woodpaths-

Thank u for asking; I shd be giving u and other Wafers an update on the Chinese Front, so to speak (today Beijing, tomorrow the world). He wasn't able to find it, but then a Chinese friend did, and told me the Preface was published intact. Then something called the Global Times in Beijing asked me to send the Preface, and they liked it so much they are going to review the bk. This is ostensibly unbelievable, except that the winds just changed: scroll up, you'll see my message abt how President Xi recently came out against hustling! The GT also asked me if I wd write a column for their paper, wh/I said I cd probably do on an occasional basis after I finish my bk on Japan. Meanwhile, my agent tells me that the bk has thus far sold 528 copies in the PRC. As I make 50 cents on each copy sold, I've decided to hold off putting a downpayment on that villa in Tuscany I've had my eye on for a while now. But in general, the omens are gd for a Belman presence in China. Maybe I won't hafta wait 50 yrs for the crowds in Tiananmen Square to be crying out my name, and waving their copies of WAF, now bound in a red cover.

ellen-

I was actually in London when those riots occurred, strangely enuf. My impression was that they were a response to Cameron's austerity measures, but perhaps that was only part of it. They didn't seem to have an ideological edge (unfortunately).

Mondo-

The students of May-June '68 already thought of that, in fact. One of their more famous posters said: "Je suis marxiste, tendence Groucho." Personally, I'm not interested in any regime that doesn't have a sense of humor. Notice how grim the USSR was, the US is? I also worry abt the emerging eco-sustainable crowd for the same reason. When organic food became the rage in the 70s, I was living in San Fran, and the cashiers in the local health food store were quite rigid in their attitudes: u got smiles if u bought the 'right' foods, frowns if u didn't--nutritional Manichaeanism, for god's sake. (You can imagine their attitude toward deli meats.) I worry abt the potential rise of 'sprout fascism' as an aspect of the post-capitalist formation we've talked about. Time for some new T-shirts, perhaps:

WAFERS ARE NOT SPROUT FASCISTS

DOWN WITH NUTRITIONAL MANICHAEANISM!

How's that for esoteric?

Finally, it's a major tipoff to me that the trolls and buffoons who stalk this blog are so angry,in a lot of rage and pain. No humor there at all, let alone the creative dementia that is the hallmark of a genuine Wafer. When they get tired of hating me, I'm quite sure they go find another target to be self-righteously grim about. This inability to wink or chuckle is a sure sign of deep mental dysfunction, whether in individuals or in nations. Wafers are encouraged to submit lists of public items that are funny, such as Kim's rump, Miley's tongue, or Lorenzo Riggins' 2016 plans for a run at the White House.

mb

8:06 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: I just read that Karl Rove has started some sort of group to rescue the GOP from morons. He specifically said that We can't have stupid people or fools on the ticket as candidates anymore. This upset me very much: where is his sense of humor? Where wd the party be without Sarah, Michele, Herman (Cain), and Lorenzo? He wants candidates like Mittney. Of course, I did find Mittney hilarious in his own, dull way; but this desire to purge the party of outright buffoons is surely a move in the wrong direction. At the very least, SNL needs fresh material, and these folks certainly provide it.

mb

8:43 AM  
Blogger nosferat_saolin said...

Awful news on the home-front, Wafers. It seems that Americans are catching on that their future is dim. According to an AP poll, over half see the country worsening until 2050.

http://actualidad.rt.com/actualidad/view/116121-estadounidenses-tienen-esperanzas-pesimistas-2050

I still have complete faith that when Americans fully realize that they have been swindled, they will scapegoat some hapless minority instead of the real capitalist looters. Perhaps a Fascist party will arise to propose the elimination of "useless eaters". However, since the social base for an American Fascism, the rural "Walmart America", is chock full of 350lbs eaters who would likely blow their knees out if they ever tried to goose-step, I can´t even imagine Americans going out with a bang.

3:33 PM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

MB & any Tirebiting Wafers,

If our "other" back in the day had had the other Marx & the right Lennon as icons, then according to an obscure, absurdist science fictional law of symmetry (not to be confused with Fudd's First Law of Opposition), Nixon's White House Black Ops team would have to have been called the Electricians.

But, since neither of us were anywhere at all, then it would have been too much to ask for us to have been in two places at once, icon-wise.

As usual, practitioners of high comedic states of consciousness were well ahead of the curve balls being thrown in our Bush-league game of semiotics.

Like the original lyrics would have said if Shorty hadn't been a stickler for line length:

The words of the prophets
Are written on the subway walls
And album covers

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCzgdF_WjOg&list=PLtrJ8EhxGusbXa_HuXwtzoHxba6mf1aWj
---------------------------------

MB & any anti-Sproutdanistas,

I had the same experience when I moved to Seattle in 1977.
A friend quipped that all of the shared-housing ads she saw
were looking for "Radical female vegetables".

Doesn't "Down with Nutritional Manichaeanism" just play into that old binary paradigm ?
Would "Sideways with Nutritional Manichaeanism" be too left-field ?
Seems like it would oppose both forms of tunnel-blindness.
Of course, pro-Persian (well, more like anti-anti-Persian) groups might not see the bigger picture and view it as an insult, so maybe "Wafers Are Not Obligate-Vegans...Down With Nutritional Fascism" might be a safer construction.
They can always find you in Mexico, vato.
Die like Rockefeller, not like Trotsky, y'know.
---------------------------------
Re Karl Rove:

Risky as it might be (taking Rove at his word), maybe the fact that Herman, Sarah, Michelle, et al are too far out for *him* is a signal that they're right in the Goldilocks Zone for us Wafers.
I think a surrealist group in the 60's proposed George Metesky, and the Yippies had Pigasus, but as much as these are thought-provoking to the thought-capable crowd (well, not much of a crowd here in the USA), they were not viable national candidates capable of adding needed acceleration to O&D.

4:32 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Ty-

In future pls try to compress to 1/2 page, por fa. Also, I can't really follow yr stream-of-consciousness style, but I'm not here to censure style (you'll be glad to know).

Nos-

Problem is, the swindled are also the swindlers; they fully participated in getting screwed. This might hopefully mean that when they understand the American Dream is over, they'll start beating each other up. Which is sorta happening, already, but not w/much awareness. Another T-shirt, then:

DOUCHE BAGS NEED TO ATTACK DOUCHE BAGS

mb

5:12 PM  
Anonymous Mondo Tuckus said...

Ah, those wacky Situationists. May '68 was a bit before my time, but I love those slogans and am tickled that among them was one calling for a Groucho Marxism. I always liked "Under the cobblestones: the beach"!

MB, I strongly agree with you on the necessity of a sense of humor. I think the ability to laugh, and more specifically, the ability to laugh at oneself, is a sign of sanity. The absence of this capacity for self-deprecation, whether in individuals or in social movements, should be taken as a giant flashing warning sign, indicating dangerous mental instability.

As for Rove, that is truly sad news. If his proposal were taken seriously it would surely mean the end of the Republican party. The GOP's target demographic can be divided into two main groups: those who take buffoons seriously, and WAFers. By ending the practice of letting clowns run for office, the GOP is in effect destroying its appeal to voters, and sadly, we WAFers will be left without a candidate come 2016...while the Democrats are just as nasty and proto-fascist as the Republicans, they unfortunately play it completely straight. They're a party of terminally constipated neoliberal proto-fascists. There's no fun at all in watching our destruction at the hands of such a group of dour technocrats; if we're going down, I say let it be in a blaze of moronic glory. Stupidity got us into this mess, it seems only fair that we have a rabidly stupid leader at the helm as the American ship of state sinks beneath the waves.

Therefore, instead of banning buffoons, I propose the Republican Party adopt as its slogan and campaign song for 2016: SEND IN THE CLOWNS. Candidates should appear in pancake makeup during debates, and should be willing to engage in some pie-flinging as a debate tactic.

6:52 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Mondo-

1. Post only once every 24 hrs, thanks.
2. What about Sarah's tuckus? Is that not a Great Vision?
3. I forgot what it was.

mb

7:43 PM  
Blogger GregJS said...

Dr. B,

That sounds like a really promising development on the China Front! I'm excited to hear about it. I went to the Global Times site and it looks very legit. Do you know anything about it? Like the size of their readership, how big their presence is (regional, national, global), and who tends to read it (right or left leaning people, Chinese citizens learning English, ex-pats)? And do they have a print edition?

I'm guessing they're a good bit more literary over there, so a good book review and a regular column every now and then could have a real impact. And 500+ sales already for WAF (with minimal publicity, I'm guessing) is not bad at all.

And who knows - maybe you're catching Chinese society at a good time. They are not as immersed in hustling as we are (yet), have deep, deep cultural roots, and have been much more intentional about how they are modernizing than us sleepwalking psychos over here - all of that is in your favor.

Doesn't hurt to fantasize a bit, anyways...!

8:39 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Greg-

To my knowledge, the bk was never advertised. So maybe a sale of 528 was just based on word of mouth. I think the GT was favorably disposed because Pres. Xi has indicated a shift in the winds, from hustling to spirituality. Of course, for all I know it cd be cynical: spirituality for the masses, hustling for the elite. But maybe not. Anyway, as I told them, I have no time to be grinding out a regular column rt now, but after I get this &*&^((!!** Japan bk done, I might have a little breathing rm. Nor wd I have any strong objections to getting flown over for a lecture, but that, I'm pretty sure, is in the fantasy category.

Didju know that in China, Chinese food is simply called 'food'?

haha

But I wdn't mind visiting a dericatessen in Beijing, and having a pastlami sandwich with core sraw and lussian dlessing, along with a dirr pickre.

(I may be losing my mind here.)

mb

10:08 PM  
Anonymous The Dude said...

Speaking of CNN (though I'd rather not), the network just scored its lowest prime time ratings in 20 years. So what does the "genius" who runs things want to do about it? Maybe go back to reporting real news again? Surely, you jest:

In his first interview since taking the helm, the network president tells 'Capital' that he wants CNN to have more of “an attitude and a take." He wants it to compete not just with Fox News and MSNBC but with the Discovery and History channels. “The goal for the next six months," he says, "is that we need more shows and less newscasts.”

adding...

That meant less 24-hour news delivery and more personality driven "shows," according to sources present at the meeting. Zucker has told staff he wanted to “broaden the definition of what news is,” meaning more sports, more entertainment, more human interest.

stories.http://www.politico.com/blogs/media/2013/12/slow-change-at-cnn-178683.html

What is really breathtaking about this article is the utter lack of apparent realization on Zucker's part that what he wants to do is make CNN even more irrelevant than it has become already. How long do you suppose it will be before they just start running a real life version of the fictional show "Ow, My Balls" from the movie Idiocracy 24/7?

11:57 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

MB,

Will you address the current political situation in Japan in your book?

From what I gather of news reports, Japan is become more and more militaristic. A new law passed in Japan requires whistleblowers who leak state secrets and journalists who pass on that information to be imprisoned. Japanese PM Shinzo Abe visited the Yasukuna shrine in Japan to pay his respects, a shrine where convicted war criminals from WW2 are buried. Now, after 17 years of delay, the Governor of Okinawa has agreed to allow American troops to relocate an air base in Okinawa.

MB, I notice you have repeatedly praised Japan as being in some respects culturally superior to the US, but I'm wondering if you've also noticed this increased militarization of Japan and the increasing influence of the US on Japan? Or is this all more to do with Japanese politicians, as opposed to ordinary Japanese people?

12:05 AM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Wafmen! (Sorry, I'm a lapsed Medaevalist):

Hi Mondo Tuchas: I always liked "Under the cobblestones: the beach"!

I used to work in a commercial millwork shop. I made up a little poster near my workbench, upon it was written "Sous le plastic laminate, la plage!" For some reason I didn't last long at that job.

As for John Lennon and Nutritional Manichaeans, keep in mind that Mark David Chapman was a decent shot, while John Hinckley Jr. couldn't hit the broad side of a barn. 'Tis our fate.

The Creator intended it to be so...

Frank Zappa (he'd a bean a Wafer) - "Call Any Vegetable"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XhDGiW-qZ2k

1:15 AM  
Blogger Zosima said...

President Xi Jinping believes China is losing its moral compass, and wants the Communist Party to be more tolerant of traditional faiths, "in the hope these will help fill a vacuum created by the country's breakneck growth and rush to get rich."

Yes, he’s right, check out the moral compass of G W Bush, the most fervently religious president of recent times, he really filled America’s moral vacuum, didn’t he? Xi just needs to have more patience and let a billion hustlers bloom. Because even the dumbest American knows that once people are rich they become intensely moral. They learned this from a vast literature, books like Jesus CEO, and the teachings of Jim Bakker. I advise the Chinese to chop chop, those thoughts into mandarin, if they ever hope to be corruption free. Of course, there are some doubters out there who have found evidence that the richer you are, the ruder you are, and the more you break the rules...atheist running-dogs, no doubt.

http://www.ted.com/talks/paul_piff_does_money_make_you_mean.html

4:25 AM  
Anonymous ellen said...

Dr B,
No ideological edge (unfortunately)to the London riots- after the triggering incident it was just incoherent rage, a general expression of malaise without even the minimal Situationist organisation that underpinned Paris in May '68.
This cartoon captures the mood of the times best, I think, with the youth following the example of their 'betters' and some foot fetishism, to boot:

http://domesticempire.wordpress.com/2011/08/16/broken-britain-riots/

What everyone noticed was the absence of police for three days until reinforcements arrived from the rest of the country--they knew they would get lynched, otherwise. The events of Broadwater Farm in '85 are still quite raw.

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

I hope the riot experience hasn't put you off visiting our lovely Dirty ol' Town, all of life is here. I was thinking that with your renminbi royalties stacking up you could maybe put a downpayment on a highrise flat overlooking the Yangtze in Chongqing, as Tuscan villas are now well out of the reach of us mere mortals:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-D9xcZgKX4

Kevin,

Graeber makes a good point about beliefs, illusions and general bunkum in the Baffler article. Worth the read, thanks.



7:45 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ellen-

No, I miss London, having lived there for 3 yrs. Wish I cd spend 2 wks per yr there, but who has that kinda $? My Chinese royalties certainly won't pay the tab...

Zos-

Well, there's religion and there's religion; it's not that cut and dried. Altho it's certainly possible that Xi's chg of heart cd be a cynical move: Buddhism for the masses, hustling for the elite. But maybe not.

Mike-

Yes, working on it rt now (last chapter). Abe is Japanese neoliberalism's last gasp; it won't work out. But as in the US, sometimes bad is good (as I've often said on this blog).(Hence my interest in a Palin presidency.) As for Japanese culture: definitely superior to American 'culture' (=chasing $) in some ways, but hardly w/o its problems (including chasing $).

Dude-

"Idiocracy" is supposedly set 500 yrs into the future, but I thought 20 was a more reasonable figure.

mb

9:07 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Yes, Japanese culture is far superior to American culture. Is there any place in the US akin to Kyoto for instance? As some of you know I taught English in Japan for 10 years. One of my private students was a rich doctor who also managed a hospital. He told me that his wife wanted to build an addition to their home. He refused saying that an addition would make his neighbor feel bad. Can you imagine anything like that happening in the US?
I also became quite proficient in kyudo (traditional Japanese archery). At one tournament a Japanese got repeated bulls eyes but scored low. I asked why It was explained to me that he did not show the proper respect to the judges when he entered the dojo.
Finally, I reported a few months ago that that cursive handwriting is de-emphasized within the new Core Curriculum something that could never happen in Japan since calligraphy (shuji) is considered a great art form. Also, don't let Japan's modernization fool you. The Japanese language is divided into different registers of respect. Never did I hear even the most outlandishly wearing Japanese young person use the incorrect register when speaking to an elder.

9:37 AM  
Anonymous Rowdy said...

Dan,

I think Las Vegas is the American Kyoto.

11:24 AM  
Anonymous Golf Pro said...

Bad news for Kim K. as she has been comprehensively thrashed in the dysmorphic butt stakes by this tiggerish newcomer:

http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/beauty/jen-selters-shapely-bum-has-13m-followers-on-instagram/story-fneszy80-1226794696120

11:38 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Rowdy-

Or perhaps Trenton NJ.

ellen-

Check today's Guardian: apparently millions of Romanian vampires are abt to pitch tents in Marble Arch. Uga buga!

mb

12:13 PM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...

Hmmm,

Things do go dark in a uneven sequence. People are killing themselves over sneakers and across town a young lady sings an aria lovely room with a first rate orchestra and a rapt audience. Some people operate at low mental wattage and that seems to be the majority and even in these darkest times there is a tiny, tiny and I would add besieged minority of talented and capable souls.

What will the future look like or rather the spreading present. lately I've occassion to go on business to Vegas, Miami and Puerto Rico. All depressing in similar ways though with some subtle differences. All really "non-cultural" in that "culture" exists in some atavistic way mostly intended to inform tourism or official proceedings. A historical and with people putting a lot of emphasis on "pride" and rights. Not a big attachment to the work place or creativity but a combination of state dependence and hustling. Food, dance, art all rather contrived and again common simulacra or basic chemical laden crap. For all their talk of cultural pride, I was aghast at the popularity of spam and fast food in Puerto Rico, as Mexican for that matter I found no common cultural language with anyone there. Miami seems like a lot of poor people and a few rich from other lands enjoying sybaritic leisure--Vegas similar. All sleazy and depressing and little common or public space to enjoy. Have to pay to get out and about....People seem well a bit out of it...

2:31 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ynzgAxqZw0s

My mom and nana used to sing me the traditional version of this song as a toddler. Obviously the capitalist dregs are scared the knackers will steal their women! Same psychology behind suits hating surfers?!

3:05 PM  
Blogger GregJS said...

Dr. B,
Sounds like you're having a jolly time with the writing. You said it was like giving birth to a rhino before. I get what you mean - those little buggers have a way of growing to fearsome size during gestation. So maybe the writer's blessing/affirmation is: May your vagina be huge. (Sorry that was kinda gross. And never thought I'd say that to another man. Well, not sure I'd ever say that to a woman, either.) But really, I wish you continued good luck with it since many of us long to hold the horny little tyke in our arms.

Also, your Chinese pronunciation is coming along very nicely - I think you're ready for your debut over there. And I say this as the first winner of the Chinese award in my high school (which only meant that of the 5 other kids in the class, I was least mean to poor Ms. Su. Although I still remember 5 ways to ask "How are you?")

Dude,
Funny you mention Idiocracy. I was picturing the following scene in my head to explain how CNN came up with the Netflix headline, and imagined it would fit into that film: Some mid-level manager calls a meeting and announces that, "Now that we know our idiot readership will eat up any crap we throw at them, let's figure out how to use this to increase our revenue streams. So I want you all to come up with even dumber crap - that we can get paid for." Meanwhile, one of the other people around the table - all of whom are totally ignoring the speaker and looking at their smartphones - suddenly exclaims, "OMG! Netflix just added 26 new titles to their lineup!" To which the manager says, "That's perfect, James! Just the sort of crap I had in mind. Get Netflix on the line and see how much they'll offer us to run with that. And meet me in my office in 15 minutes to talk about a bonus and promotion for you."

Dan,
Interesting fact about Japanese language and youth. I suspect that those are the sorts of traditions/cultural roots that might make a difference in other parts of the world if they don't let Americanization go too far.

(This is gregjs by the way - not sure if my name will show up since I'm posting from my mom's iPad)

5:11 PM  
Anonymous Kanye West said...

Morris, is Why America Failed ever going to be available for the Barnes and Noble eReader, the NOOK? Is making that book available for the NOOK within your power? (because the other two are available).

6:51 PM  
Anonymous Banana Head said...

nosferat,

There are a great many bloodthirsty neoconservatives that "recognize that America is declining" and "hate many things about America". These are the people that bemoan how disrespectful children are to their elders, and then rant about how dropping atomic bombs on Japan was heroic, just and glorious, and how horrible and immoral it is that all American's can't recognize such self-evident truths. These are the people that bemoan the crude sexuality that is more and more becoming a hallmark of American culture, and then rant about how torturing tens of thousands of people, stripped of their most basic human rights, is something we should all be proud of, as patriotic American citizens.

The "majority of Americans that believe America will decline until 2050" are the type of people I'm talking about. They are true revolutionaries, in the worst possible sense: they stand for superficial, vestigial "morality" while glorifying the most evil impulses and actions in which human beings are capable of indulging. They are populist, bold, and armed to the teeth, and will probably end up creating a formal genocidal dictatorship within 20 years. In a very real sense, they are furious that America has a miniscule modicum of compassion and tolerance hidden away somewhere in its culture; and they won't take this unacceptable state of affairs lying down. No, these proud patriots won't stop until everyone they hate is dead, until America is cleansed of every last bit of charity, tolerance, love, compassion, and empathy.

8:47 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Kanye-

Depends on the publisher, I guess, and all Wiley did was make it available on Kindle, wh/it still is. The same arrangement will carry over for the pb edn, wh/I'm hoping will be available on Amazon in a month (print-on-demand); but I don't know much about Nooks, I fear.

mb

11:47 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

CRE...and Recovery:

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/01/05-0

1:55 AM  
Anonymous teri schooley said...

Speaking of feet, here's the head librarian at the new book-less library in San Antonio on one of the reasons to go all digital:

“If you have bookshelves, you have to structure the building so it can hold all of that weight,” Elkholf said. “Books are heavy, if you’ve ever had one fall on your foot.”

http://www.statesman.com/news/news/san-antonio-library-offers-glimpse-of-bookless-fut/ncb7R/

The "librarians" in this new "library" wear matching t-shirts and hoodies to imitate Apple's dress codes.

Xmas last year, I had an interesting discussion with one son's girlfriend, whose aunt and uncle are neuroscientists, about their research into how the use of computers, cell phone texting, digital readers and the general use of i-shit devices are destroying the pathways of the brain. Humans are losing the ability to retain both short- and long-term memories and are increasingly unable to reason independently or form logical conclusions to a set of problems presented in digital format.

But printed books are heavy, so there's that.

-Teri

5:03 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Teri-

Heavy bks: terrible thing. The lit on screen damage to the brain is by now quite extensive. Maryanne Wolf at Tufts has done some impt work on it; see also ftnote refs in "The Shallows," by Nicholas Carr, and ch. 3 of WAF. I do hope that aunt and uncle will publish the results of their research. The upside is that it's making the country increasingly dysfunctional, esp. the younger generation; the downside is that it's spreading to *other* countries. Still, we're probably the cutting edge in inability to think, synaptic damage, and so on.

O&D!

mb

10:17 AM  
Anonymous ellen said...

An interesting article and video at Truthdig on alternative ways of community organising to address our common problems. I have some issues with the simplistic changes to 'means of exchange', gold and silver dinars and dirhams instead of paper currency but the potential for creative change is there, and it sure beats rioting as a possible way forward:

http://www.truthdig.com/avbooth/item/meet_the_people_being_the_change_20140104I

Dr B,
I enjoyed the Guardian piece about vampires pitching tents at Marble Arch. Lee is one of our smarter and more subtle comics so doesn't get the big TV gigs but he does a mean take-down of our frequently absurd politicos.

11:30 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ellen-

I clicked on the link, but I got a 'page doesn't exist' message. One impt thing in the Dual Process process is differentiating the real stuff from 'holistic hustling'. My friend Joel Magnuson talks abt this in his book 'The Approaching Great Transformation', and see also Ozzie Zehner, 'Green Illusions'. The US has the capacity to turn everything into b.s. and hustling (see Marcuse, Thos Frank, et al.), so most of the new 'changes' are going to be snake oil. But not all of them, thank god.

mb

12:01 PM  
Anonymous Edward said...

A controversial new book by "Tiger Mom" Amy Chua, says some cultural groups are superior to others.

Chua highlights Jewish, Indian, Chinese, Iranian, Lebanese-Americans, Nigerians, Cuban exiles and Mormons and says they have three qualities that set them apart.

http://newday.blogs.cnn.com/2014/01/06/tiger-moms-new-book-some-cultural-groups-are-superior-to-others/

It may be taboo to say, but some groups in America do better than others. Mormons have recently risen to astonishing business success. Cubans in Miami climbed from poverty to prosperity in a generation. Nigerians earn doctorates at stunningly high rates. Indian and Chinese Americans have much higher incomes than other Americans; Jews may have the highest of all.

Why do some groups rise? Drawing on groundbreaking original research and startling statistics, The Triple Package uncovers the secret to their success. A superiority complex, insecurity, impulse control—these are the elements of the Triple Package, the rare and potent cultural constellation that drives disproportionate group success. The Triple Package is open to anyone. America itself was once a Triple Package culture. It’s been losing that edge for a long time now. Even as headlines proclaim the death of upward mobility in America, the truth is that the oldfashioned American Dream is very much alive—butsome groups have a cultural edge, which enables them to take advantage of opportunity far more than others.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Triple-Package-Unlikely-Cultural/dp/1594205469/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1389030454&sr=8-3&keywords=Amy+Chua

1:04 PM  
Anonymous ellen said...


Dr B,
Sorry, I have a lot of trouble with Truthdig links not working well:

http://www.truthdig.com/avbooth/item/meet_the_people_being_the_change_20140104
This one works for me or google 'Truthdig, meet the people being the change' which should also bring up the relevant page.

1:34 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ellen-

I still got 'page not found.' Not my lucky day, I guess.

Ed-

Another flaw in the American system is that all men are *not* created equal. Only a fool thinks otherwise, but that's the American ideology. Not sure abt the cause of this, but for many decades now, who does best on standardized tests? In order of skin color:
-Yellow
-White
-Brown
-Black
And this cuts across all socioeconomic groups. Politically incorrect, but these are the data.

mb

3:02 PM  
Blogger NearFar said...

Hi Dr. Berman and fellow Wafers. Happy New Year.

MB-

Just saw this today & wanted to forward this to you--a William Ophuls' interview from 40 years ago, 1973/74 (!)--just in case you hadn't seen it. This caught my eye as it may yours, ie., considering your current project:

OPHULS: "I hate to be pessimistic but I don't really think that Americans as a whole are capable of facing up to these hard choices and making this kind of self-disciplined policies and imposing them on themselves. I guess I can say this in part because I have experience in Japan where, even in a modern age with a relatively free market economic system, they still remain extraordinarily communalistic. I suspect the Japanese would adapt rather well to a stationary state economy. That's what they lived in for half a millenium. Their country was closed. They had to live in a spaceship...Maybe this is the answer to people who say, "Don't tell me about 'Limits to Growth.' I don't want to hear about it because the thought of not being able to grow and of having to live in that kind of stable society is so horrible I don't even want to think about it."

On the other hand, the cultural achievements of the Tokugawa Era in Japan are widely admired all over the world. It was the era before the Meiji Restoration, before the opening of the country. Kabuki, Japanese literature, haiku, Zen, brush painting, everything like that. Of course with that also went a political repression of the peasant class which you wouldn't want to endorse. But I'm convinced that such repression is not a necessary feature of such a society."

Read more: http://www.motherearthnews.com/print.aspx?id={89D47915-D490-404D-9FDB-F5CEFA36C6ED}#ixzz2pep0e966

FYI: the link above is to the "print" version, but is much easier to read then linking to each separate page as you read along.

5:01 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

El Huaso-

I don't appreciate the slander, my friend. If u.r. going to accuse me of making racial stereotype jokes, you'd better provide some evidence for that. Otherwise, maybe it's best u just continue lurking.

NearFar-

Jesus, thanks a million. That quote cdn't be more appropriate for my last chapter, which I'm working on rt now. Great timing!

mb

7:21 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Edward,

I agree that people are not created equal – thank God!

But what does it mean for a culture to be ‘superior’? A culture whose members make (earn or steal?) the most money, produce the most lethal weapons, score highest on standardized tests, do the most good (what’s good?), have a low crime rate because they’re law-abiding, have a low crime rate because they avoid getting caught, or can whistle with crackers in their mouths? There are other ways to be superior too. If you want kids to develop any one of the above superiorities, you need a different ‘triple package’ of qualities to achieve it.

I guess what’s superior is really a question of values.

If a culture values learning as an end in itself, whatever innate intellectual ability a person has is likely to be developed. ‘Positive expectancy communication’ happens in in communities and families where more is expected of children, and where and kids grow up surrounded by intelligent conversation. If other qualities are valued, they’re likely to be encouraged and reinforced.

In the US and some other Western societies there seems to be a presumption that differences are genetic. This happens not only in popular culture, but in medical research. It’s commented on more often in British medical journals than in the US, but it happens. But since human behavior is so complicated, it’s almost impossible to know. Where did I read that the social characteristics with the highest correlation between parents and offspring are political affiliation and religious denomination?

None of this is very profound, but in America it’s an ideological and passionately controversial question.

So, if you live in a society where your kids will need to be greedy and selfish, but you’d like them to be something else, move to a land where ‘good’ is still valued!

O&D

David Rosen

7:32 PM  
Anonymous El Huaso said...

Dr. Berman,


I certainly was not trying to slander you. I was referring to your jokes at the expense of the Chinese and Japanese inability to render our "r" and "l" sounds respectively. Like the "Belman" thing. (I get it—the Chinese can't pronounce the "r". But let's give it a rest, please?) Or this:

"But I wdn't mind visiting a dericatessen in Beijing, and having a pastlami sandwich with core sraw and lussian dlessing, along with a dirr pickre."

Personally, I found that passage to be cringe-inducing. Not the least because you confused Japanese stereotypes with the Chinese, which in and of itself is kind of offensive.

Maybe this is a generational thing. A lot of older white people I know and have met seem to find these kinds of "jokes" funny and usually ask me to "relax" when I voice objections to that kind of behavior. (I have found, interestingly enough, that turning the tables on them gets one accused of "reverse racism"—whatever that means.) Whatever the reason—whether it is my relative youth (I was born in the mid-1980s), the fact that I grew up around many Asians, the fact that my career involves the study and analysis of East Asian music within the context of early 20th century history, and am myself a part of a minority ethnic group—I did not find your remarks funny.

Please understand that my plea to you was meant in the spirit of kindness, respect, and friendship. Your writing has been a source of great comfort and inspiration to me. I just wished that you understood that not all your readers are middle-aged white USians and, thus, may not look as kindly to remarks that seem to make sport of other ethnic or national groups.

Again, thank you for all your work. And however you may choose to look upon my reply, your books will continue to have a place of pride in my personal library.


Best wishes,

El Huaso

8:23 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

El Huaso-

OH, OK, I get it. I agree w/yr friends, that u need to relax a bit more, but I can see that I'm probably beating a dead pastlami sandwich here. I had a favorite uncle who couldn't get over the idea of asking the waiter in a southern restaurant, "Hominy grits do you have?" I think I heard this at least 30 times. Perhaps there's some terrible genetic endowment here, that got passed on to me. In any case, I'm fully aware that not all of my readers are middle-class white Americans, thank you.

-Belman

ps: I'm currently re-studying Japanese, given my upcoming trip back there in April, using the Pimsleur disks, and I'm amazed at how the Japanese are able to pronounce words like "gasoline" so that it simultaneously sounds like "gasoline" and "gasorine". I might hafta get a tongue operation...

8:45 PM  
Anonymous dawgzy said...

Jon Talton is from Phoenix and was a featured columnist for his hometown newspaper- until he got fired for alienating the go-go-grow business community there. He now writes for the Seattle Times and keeps a blog about Arizona. He understands the reckless ignorance that's characterized the public life and much of the culture there and here writes about it on a national level. Crypto-WAFer?
http://www.roguecolumnist.com/rogue_columnist/2014/01/suicide-for-dummies.html#more

9:15 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

What Dovidel said, particularly as regards the need to define what is the meaning of "superior." Maybe superior people wind up as landlords and creditors sucking the lifeblood out of hapless tenants and debtors; that would appear to be in keeping with the meaning of "the good old American dream," as currently practiced. Or it might mean confusing academic "excellence" with browbeating your professors into granting straight As even when they don't feel you've earned them. Ms. Chua's book may be supported by statistics, but Edward's rather fulsome endorsement also makes it sound a bit like standard self-serving class and imperial propaganda. I don't know for sure, but maybe Dr. B. and the other historians among us could tell us whether the Brits were fond of praising their own cultural superiority while bombarding China into submission to their opium policy. I rather fancy it was their superior work ethic, enterprising spirit, spit-and-polish discipline and stiff upper lip that enabled them to do that.

9:23 PM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...

Dovidel,

The whole superior and inferior culture topic is well pretty loaded these days. Shall we say different? You and I share a background of a people who due to genetics just do not make good NFL or NBA players--but we do make good team owners:). We tend to get Tay Sachs, have significantly greater rates of mental illness and depression than the population as a whole but higher rates of literacy and scientific achievement. A speck in the desert with 8 millions has more technological and scientific contributions than the entire african continent. History, genetics, environment, culture, who knows what lay under the overdetermined differences between individuals and yes groups. Not a popular topic for discussion but as Phillip K Dick said Reality is what continues to exist whether you believe in it or not.

9:34 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Wafers:

Well, perhaps we all need to breathe, take a break, and enjoy some eco-sustainable entertainment. The following was actually banned in several countries. Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQoNoACFmh0

mb

11:00 PM  
Anonymous Lilac Ivy said...

I coincidentally encountered this article from the Atlantic a few weeks ago that seemed apt given the current topic: http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/05/race-intelligence-and-genetics-for-curious-dummies/276154/

11:44 PM  
Anonymous Edward said...

Kevin stated: "Edward's rather fulsome endorsement also makes it sound a bit like standard self-serving class and imperial propaganda."

I said NOTHING. Follow the links (references) provided to understand who said what.

Capo Regime stated: "A speck in the desert with 8 millions has more technological and scientific contributions than the entire african continent."

"technological and scientific contribution" is a relative phrase (with cultural and eurocentric bias), especially when hustling mentality/sentimentality defines the words "technological" and "scientific"

There is a saying that a snake that eats grass eats white grass, black grass, and brown grass. Amy Chua is definitely onto something. Deal with it, stop emoting!

For the mean time:
"PHILADELPHIA — The perfect crime is far easier to pull off when nobody is watching.

So on a night nearly 43 years ago, while Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier bludgeoned each other over 15 rounds in a televised title bout viewed by millions around the world, burglars took a lock pick and a crowbar and broke into a Federal Bureau of Investigation office in a suburb of Philadelphia, making off with nearly every document inside.

They were never caught, and the stolen documents that they mailed anonymously to newspaper reporters were the first trickle of what would become a flood of revelations about extensive spying and dirty-tricks operations by the F.B.I. against dissident groups.

The burglary in Media, Pa., on March 8, 1971, is a historical echo today, as disclosures by the former National Security Agency contractor Edward J. Snowden have cast another unflattering light on government spying and opened a national debate about the proper limits of government surveillance. The burglars had, until now, maintained a vow of silence about their roles in the operation. They were content in knowing that their actions had dealt the first significant blow to an institution that had amassed enormous power and prestige during J. Edgar Hoover’s lengthy tenure as director."

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/07/us/burglars-who-took-on-fbi-abandon-shadows.html?_r=0

6:03 AM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...

Edward,

No sentiment just facts. Whether Fritz Haber was hustling or sentimental matters not one itota. He discovered the synthesis of amonia and without him the worlds population would not have gone from 1.6 billion to 7 billion today. In fact, most of the people in the "developing world" would not be around were it not for Haber's discovery and its commericialization (yes hustling) by Carl Bosch. So yes, thanks to a couple of germans there are several billion non-european people inhabiting the earth. Irony eh?

10:07 AM  
Anonymous DiogenesTheElder said...

With regard to culture and so-called superiority, I agree with Dovidel completely - it all depends on what you value. How about compassion, empathy, and wisdom? Until these qualities are at the forefront of what are considered desirable aspects of human experience, any "cultural" form that its roots in the technocratic is likely to be onward and downward.

DTE

10:26 AM  
Anonymous ellen said...

Kevin,
In the days of Empire us Brits rarely openly praised our own cultural superiority but the assumption of it as innate was so profound as to seem bred in the bone. That's what a powerful class system does for its elites. Something that I learned recently is that over 40% of the Tommies fighting in WW1 didn't even have the vote, so who and what were they fighting for?
Little wonder then that we managed to fool so many for so long, we had fooled ourselves first.
And for those that were not so easily fooled, a gunboat or two could be swiftly dispatched to protect the trading interests of the Honourable East India Company which did most of the heavy lifting in the opium wars:

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

10:46 AM  
Anonymous Savantesimal said...

MB, the link supplied by Lilac Ivy led me to another one that should interest you. Looks like trolls are a major problem all over, and even worse for women than men.

The Atlantic: When Misogynist Trolls Make Journalism Miserable for Women

12:52 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Capo-

Once every 24 hrs, por favor.

mb

1:00 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Hi Edward. Yes you did say something, viz., that tiger-momism and similar manifestations represent a successful repertoire of tactics for achieving the "good old American dream." Surely you must be aware that the American dream has been described on this blog as a major part of America's problems, if not the problem itself. Whether placing one's primary focus on financial success in the context of a ruthlessly competitive, get-ahead society increasingly characterized by questionable financial practices and runaway debt even as the real productive economy undergoes an inexorable process of compressive contraction is a good thing or not depends on your value system, I suppose. Personally I would prefer to live in a society similar to that posited in "La Belle Verte," rather than one ruled by the offspring of tiger moms (which is too likely to perpetuate the one I'm already in). In my book, it would probably be better if the latter dumped the rat race in favor of being hippies in the Taoist mode, painting landscapes, practicing organic horticulture and building compost toilets everywhere.

In view of this, I'm relieved to see that Ms. Chua admits there are some problems in these putatively superior cultures, at least according to the blurb on the Amazon link you provided.

"But in all of America’s most successful groups, people tend to feel insecure, inadequate, that they have to prove themselves."

I've seen this for myself. Among the handful of people I've known from one of these successful groups are some notably neurotic individuals. One man I knew cared about nothing but money. It was the ultimate value to him, by which all things were measured. I've seen a grown man reduced to abject hysterics in the midst of housecleaning because he feared his home wouldn't pass the "white glove" test (his Jewish mom would stroke the banister while wearing a white glove - would there be dust on it?). Both these guys are well off, but those scenes struck me as fairly fucked up.

"Should people strive for the Triple Package? Should America? Ultimately, the authors conclude that the Triple Package is a ladder that should be climbed and then kicked away, drawing on its power but breaking free from its constraints."

That's an interesting idea, and may be possible for some individuals. But one has to wonder to what extent it's feasible for many people to consciously jettison a value system that has put them on top. Is it not rather the case that we must begin as we mean to go on? Humans are shaped by the value systems we live, and the notion of dropping them subsequently like a worn-out tool might not prove that practicable.

Ellen, thanks for the insight. Empire without the need for constant propagandistic self-aggrandizement - very slick! Now that's what I call a real empire. We murricans are amateurs, which is probably contributory to our sooner decline. As you may be aware, Americans are accustomed to hearing our own unwarranted praises - how free we are, how mighty, how redoubtable our tech-savvy and know-how, etc. - sung to us perpetually through every medium of communication, morning noon and night. Any interruption to this stream of warm pablum immediately produces loud public whining; and any hint of criticism - heaven forfend! - inspires furious rage.

Dr. B., I find it fascinating that several countries have decided it's necessary to ban "La Belle Verte." Can it be they actually have reason to fear that art has enough power to influence the world, or even change it? That's very encouraging, in its way.

Fewer Donald Trumps, fewer tiger moms, fewer homophobic Vlad Putins, less war mongering, more capitalism-repudiating drop-outs and hippie sluts: that's the kind of world I want to see.

Sorry this a bit sooner than 24 hours, but I had some things to say. I'll wait for the next cycle before posting again.

3:33 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

Capo wrote:

"[Frtiz Haber] discovered the synthesis of amonia."

For which work he received the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1918. The work for which he was honored took place at the University of Karlsruhe. before World War I, between 1894 and 1911.

As it happens, Herr Haber played an instrumental role in the development of chemical warfare " für Kaiser und Vaterland." Weaponized chlorine gas, among others. Noteworthy quote: "During peace time a scientist belongs to the World, but during war time he belongs to his country."

And ellen wrote:

...that 40 percent of the Tommies fighting the Great War didn't have the vote, so "who and what were they fighting for?"

Maybe some part of an answer to this question can be found in Chris Hedges's book War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning. And, as is often offered as a justification for fighting "once we're in it," aren't Tommies like Jerries like Yanks fighting for the guys and girls right next to you? Not for large causes or politicians' lofty goals, but just to take care of your buddies and try to stay alive?

3:57 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Kev-

Also compress to abt 1/2 page in future, por fa. Thanks.

I'm enjoying this whole discussion, wh/is fast and furious, and clearly a tribute to the greatness of this blog and the elite status of Wafers in a World of Douche Bags (WWDB); but I have to remind everyone once again: post only once in 24 hrs, and keep it to 1/2 a page. I realize this is cruel on my part, but then:
a) As u all know, I'm a very cruel person, even given to making politically incorrect jokes;
b) If I don't enforce this, I won't get any work done.

"We thank u4 yr understanding."

mb

6:19 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and Wafers,

Fucked up tiger moms to the contrary, Wafers. The only trouble is, that *this* is the mommie of the future:

https://socialreader.com/me/content/C4afQ?chid=72882&_p=article_related[5]

In addition, we are being shamelessly and cynically manipulated by Kim's rump, Wafers! I can barely control my anger... Time for some deli.

http://betabeat.com/2014/01/photoshop-expert-kim-kardashians-butt-is-using-tech-to-deceive-us/

ellen-

I guess it comes down to...

"We don't get fooled again...
No, no!"

Jeff

7:39 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

How sad is this? The whole country is turning into a tragedy:

http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/07/justice/north-carolina-teen-killed/index.html?hpt=hp_c3

mb

10:26 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

And in the "I guess we showed them!" Dept.:

http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/07/opinion/bergen-al-qaeda-terrority-gains/index.html?hpt=hp_t4

10:31 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

MB,

RE the teen shooting;

I watched Fruitvale Station last week...

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

At this point, does ANYBODY in the US trust cops? Id be pissing my pants every time I went in to work. Course that could be just the case and the cycle keeps escalating.

2:32 AM  
Blogger Zosima said...

Dan said...
Yes, Japanese culture is far superior to American culture. Is there any place in the US akin to Kyoto for instance?

I found this letter to NYT that describes who you should thank for its Kyoto’s existence. An American named -- “Henry L. Stimson, Secretary of War in the Roosevelt and Truman administrations, who twice visited Kyoto in the 1920's, was conscious of its irreplaceable cultural assets and concerned for the post war reputation of the United States. He committed himself to keeping the city off the target list and stuck to that decision in the face of many who urged its atomic bombing.”

So consider this -- since there was no surrender even after dozens of Japanese cities had already been leveled by American bombs, it looks like Japanese leaders didn’t care as much as Stimson did about its survival, did they?

Dr B - You might want to consider looking at the book, Five Myths About Nuclear Weapons. In a very interesting chapter, Ward Wilson says that the myth of A-bomb caused surrender served the interests of the US and Japan in the Cold War. Wilson makes a pretty good argument based on diaries of Japanese leaders that they were more concerned about the Russian invasion and attack on Aug 8, than they were about their own cities being leveled by bombs. They knew Japan was helpless against a Russian invasion because all their defenses were on the Pacific side to face the Americans. The back door, Sakhalin, Hokkaido and Japan's west coast was wide open to the Russians - hence quick surrender to the US was the now the best and only option. I found this most interesting, since most people, including myself believed the myth of a-bomb caused surrender.

4:06 AM  
Anonymous ellen said...

James Allen,
Due to my family background I have quite a preoccupation with military matters; Hedges's book 'War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning' (the only one of his that I have so far read) was an insightful eye-opener for me. However, combat vets tell me that the 'mateship' thing--fighting for your buddies, if not queen and country-- is heavily propagandised and overrated by the command structure as a motivator whereas the 'staying alive' thing has perennial allure.

In that vein and displaying some terrible bad taste is this brief (59 second) clip from 'The Life of Brian', prompted by Dr B's "we showed them" quip:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUHk2RSMCS8

4:09 AM  
Blogger KJ said...

I believe I've previously read on this blog support of local federalism and decision-making. Fellow critic of the US, William Blum, begs to differ:

"I don’t place much weight on the idea of “libertarian socialism”. That to me is an oxymoron. The key questions to be considered are: Who will make the decisions on a daily basis to run the society? For whose benefit will those decisions be made. It’s easy to speak of “economic democracy” that comes from “the people”, and is “locally controlled”, not by the government. But is every town and village going to manufacture automobiles, trains and airplanes? Will every city of any size have an airport? Will each one oversee its own food and drug inspections? Maintain all the roads passing through? Protect the environment within the city boundary only? Such questions are obviously without limit. I’m just suggesting that we shouldn’t have stars in our eyes about local control or be paranoid about central planning."

http://williamblum.org/aer/read/123

Any thoughts?

5:16 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

KJ-

Blum is obviously rt. Something wd hafta be worked out in terms of what wd be national decisions and what local; wh/cd be rather tricky, if parts of the country actually secede. Oxymoron or not, that may be what we're dealing with.

Zos-

I'll hafta check that out. I've read a lot of the lit on the surrender, and no one says it was Russian declaration of war on Aug. 8 that tipped the balance. After all, the Japanese didn't surrender until Aug. 15. The War Council was dithering around, conflicted abt it, even after Nagasaki, because the Allies wdn't amend surrender terms to say that the imperial structure wd be preserved (wh/they did turn around and do after the surrender!). Finally, only the emperor had the authority to make what was called the 'sacred decision', and break the War Council deadlock. Altho no one liked the phrasing of the surrender agreement--that continuity of the imperial structure was dependent upon Allied authority--the emperor independently decided that that was 'gd enuf', and so made his surrender speech on Aug. 15. It's not that the Russian entry into Manchuria on Aug. 8 didn't worry them; it's just that that was not the crucial issue. What the emperor feared was additional bombing. He didn't really have to, in that by Aug. 10, Truman told his advisers, "No more," and specifically said he cdn't stand the idea of "killing all those kids." But the Japanese cdn't have known that. Anyway, I suspect Wilson is wrong. None of the historians I've read mention him, or that argument, and there has certainly been plenty of going thru Japanese papers, by both American and Japanese historians. So it was, indeed, the fear of additional bombing that finally tipped the scales.

mb

5:42 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: After a little digging, I discovered that Wilson's bk--i.e., the part abt Japan--is based on an essay he wrote in 2007, "The Winning Weapon?" I need to print it out and read it, but just checking online, he says his 'revision' of the traditional picture is based on other sources. The ftnote here lists a # of them, 3 of wh/I've read: Dower, Bix, and Asada. None of these authors say that the Russian invasion/declaration of war (Aug. 8) was the reason for the surrender. Revs of the bk itself (in the NYT, e.g.) don't offer much enlightenment, and I was not able to find any revs by prominent American historians of Japan (e.g., Dower, Bix, Bernstein, et al.). Anyway, I'm looking forward to rdg the article, perhaps it'll chg my mind. In general, as a caveat, I hafta say that 'revisionist' work is not necessarily rt; wh/is why reviews are impt. Gar Alperovitz's revisionism--that the bomb was dropped to intimidate the USSR--has stood the test of time, at least in part (it was a factor, but not *the* factor).

mb

6:19 AM  
Blogger Zosima said...

Sorry for the second post, but this might save you a step. I’m not sure, but I think the pertinent chapter in Ward Wilson’s (2013) book is based on research by UC Santa Barbara prof Tsuyoshi Hasegawa.

The Atomic Bombs and the Soviet Invasion: What Drove Japan’s Decision to Surrender?

http://www.japanfocus.org/-Tsuyoshi-Hasegawa/2501

Tsuyoshi Hasegawa's research has led him to conclude that the atomic bombings were not the principal reason for Japan's capitulation. He argues that Japan's leaders were impacted more by the swift and devastating Soviet victories on the mainland in the week following Joseph Stalin's August 8 declaration of war because the Japanese strategy to protect the home islands was designed to fend off a US invasion from the South, and left virtually no spare troops to counter a Soviet threat from the North. This, according to Hasegawa, amounted to a "strategic bankruptcy" for the Japanese and forced their message of surrender on August 15, 1945. -- from Wiki Soviet-Japanese War

8:35 AM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...

MB, Wafers, in the midst of such dreck at times one is surprised by something which reveals an amazing human spirit; http://www.theatlantic.com/video/archive/2014/01/why-a-14-year-old-girl-decided-to-sail-around-the-world-alone/282781/

Call me sentimental but I find it genuinely exiciting when a young person undertakes such a remarkable effort. Hell most adults and even naval officers could not do it. Genuine, origignal indiviual achievement is so rare. A lot of officlaly approved acheivement, affirmative action, and meaningless paens to conformitiy. I love it when a teenager sales around the world. Its inspiring and well seems a lot more fun that my kibbutz experience though the rocket attacks did at a bit of terror but I digress...I think I am taking sailing lessons and buying a big ass sail boat--El Mero Wafer, Veracruz Mex.......join me if you look good in a bikini....or know how to fish.

11:26 AM  
Blogger Publius said...

I was waiting for the express bus home, downtown, inside a downtown office building. It's interesting to listen to the conversations of people waiting. Sometimes. Well, not interesting, but informative.

A millennial was gushing about a bluetooth toothbrush, which will tell you how well you are brushing.
And some other bluetooth device, that will tell you exactly how much you drink, how much you consume... Good lord. What to make of this device fetishism? Most everyone else is a smart-phone zombie.

We're starting to seriously explore emigration. I think we'll position this as "just an adventure" to the family, rather than, "We want out of this madhouse." It's starting to seem unethical to raise a child in this country. The PC/liberal nuts drive me crazy: my son told me they weren't allowed to sing Xmas songs, because "other people have other religions." Why not just sing everyone's songs? The "conservative" nuts aren't conservative anymore, they are Ayn Rand nutcases - Rand hated Christians and their morality. You get it from both sides here: want to home school your kid to teach them your values? The Progressives go after you. Against environmental degradation? The right-wing sues you. Want to build a solar panel in your yard? Your "liberal" rich neighbors complain to the city zoning board.

Watched an old classic movie the other day, Italian, "Umberto D.", by De Sica. Great movie. My 7 year old even found it interesting... no real violence. No special effects. Just a depiction of the life of an old, lonely, retired man whose only friend is a dog. Why was this interesting?

It was poignant and charming to see the police shut down a protest by pensioners by honking horns at the elderly protesters, rather than tase them, tear gas them, or bludgeon them. The film was about social alienation - yet what the film depicted as alienation seemed like an organic, interconnected, highly social life in comparison with the USA today.

11:27 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Pub-

See WAF, ch. 3, for the techno-buffoon angle.

Zos-

Thanks a mil; I oughta hire u as research asst. Will check it out toot sweet.

mb

12:05 PM  
Anonymous Jimmy Dean said...

"Yes, Japanese culture is far superior to American culture"

And of the 30+ million the Japanese imperial machine killed? In many ways Japan is far worse than the US, 3 examples: they have a much larger ecological footprint, their history of violence in the 19th/20th ceturies FAR surpases the US (add all slaves and US military kills globally, and Japan is still far ahead), they are much more techno obsessed (Berman denies this, and I am HIGHLY skeptical of his evidence), and they have have far more unnatural sexual habits than people in the US. Berman will deny the credibility of this evidence, so I challenge him to find academic research to back up these true claims.

Google "abstinence in japan", or, go to the popular porn website: pornhub.com. They have collected statistics on global porn habits, and Japan is by FAR the biggest porn consumer.

I have a feeling it will be very easy to criticize Berman's upcoming book on Japan. I expect it to be heavy on zen and craftsmanship, and light on the brutality of Tokugawa, 20th century Japan, and the techo-porn obsesses culture they have become.

1:16 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jimmy-

Guess you'll just hafta wait for the book! I look forward to yr easy critique.

mb

3:41 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Good day Dr. Berman and Wafers,

Jimmy-

Well, MB has indicated that his research on Japan involves study of both John Dower and Herbert Bix's work on Japan. Both of these authors have dealt specifically with the Second World War. I can guarantee you that both of these well regarded historians do not "go light" on the brutality of Japanese militarism and the atrocities committed by the Japanese during the war. A one-sided history would surely disregard these important authors, no? Regarding your criticism of Japanese pornography and sexual attitudes, and MB's supposed "denial" of this, I submitted, a few weeks ago on this very blog, an article which discussed a robotic masturbation device that not only was built in Japan, but was being demonstrated on a young Japanese participant. Dr. Berman thanked me for this contribution. Does this sound like someone who disregards and denies evidence?

Jeff

4:34 PM  
Anonymous Rowdy said...

What is important about "August Storm" is not complete Japanese capitulation to USSR with minimal casualties (first time Japan gives up pragmatically) but obvious realisation that USSR is sufficiently ruthless and prepared to tolerate casualties of invading Home Islands, which US may not be prepared to do (US troops in Okinawa already had enough etc.)

USSR gave advance notice of willingness to tolerate heavy casualties during the Kuril Islands invasion:

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

Generally, the atomic bomb controversy amounts to huge over-estimation by U.S. that they "won" the war against Japan, despite the contribution of China (held the Japanese for 9 years), Brit. Commonwealth (inflicted more Japanese casualties in one battle - Kohima-Imphal - than US did during entire Pacific campaign) and USSR (destroyed entire Japanese army in 1 month).

Which is to say, ultimately, that it was an ego-move, more than anything else.

5:07 PM  
Blogger NearFar said...

MB -

Terrific and you're certainly welcome. Alas, now I recall reading something else about Japan some time back, and maybe should've forwarded that to you, too. I think the author was Perry Anderson, although his writing lacks the concision of Ophuls: ie., parts of what Anderson writes abt are interesting, but can give you a headache. Frankly, he's a bit exasperating to read.

Let me check my journal notes & get back to you. For now, I think I'll follow the advice of those two great American philosophers, George and Jerry, and leave you on a high note:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O27RzZEOkeA&sns=em

6:32 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jeff-

Yeah, Jimmy's accusations based on having no access to my ms. were amusing, at best. Maybe the guy fancies himself a great mind-reader, who knows. But let me address the issues you raise.

1. I have a whole section on Japanese sexuality, and did (thank you!) put in the article you sent me regarding the robot masturbator; as well as info on the fabulous sales of plastic sex dolls and so on. However, this is not a lengthy section of the bk; the bk is not abt Japanese pornography, after all. If it *could* be proven that the Japanese are weirder sexually than Americans, so what? There's more to culture than sexual behavior.

2. Yr rt, I've followed Dower and Bix pretty closely, and in fact quote Dower re: 2 points. One is a statement to the effect that in terms of the Pacific War, the Japanese were the all-time greatest sadists imaginable (I forget the exact wording, but I do quote this statement). That's the qualitative angle. 2nd, I quote Dower on the quantitative angle as well, in which he says that if we add up the deaths from Hiroshima/Nagasaki and the Tokyo firebombings (9/10 March 1945), they are nothing in comparison to the mountain of corpses accumulated by the Japanese at Nanjing, Manchuria (site of the horrific medical expts by Unit 731), and the rest of China; as well as the Bataan Death March, and the Philippines. Some estimates are that the J's killed 15 million Chinese during the course of the Pacific War (1931-45). All of this is in my bk.

However, none of this will make any difference for folks like Jimmy, who "know" what I'm up to in advance. As I have repeatedly said, Americans are not very bright, and empirical evidence, or what I actually say, makes no difference to them. I learned this way b4 WAF, but ch.4 of that bk is a case in pt. Repeatedly, in that chapter, I say that slavery was an abomination, that the Civ War had to be fought to eradicate it, etc. Did readers pay any attn to that? Of course not! All they saw was an admiration for the Southern tradition (sans slavery)--one shared by Vann Woodward and Gene Genovese (far greater historians than I)--and this was enuf to start yelling 'racist' and 'pro-slavery'. Frankly, Americans are by now so stupid that empirical evidence, or what an author *actually* says, has become irrelevant to them. I might as well publish my Japan bk without any ftnotes at all, for all the difference it's going to make. My admiration of Zen and mingei (craft culture) is all they are going to see, and they'll start yelling "but what about Nanjing, you asshole??!!" Never mind that I talk about/condemn Nanjing. Against the Jimmys of this world, one is fighting a completely losing battle. ("Against stupidity, even the gods battle in vain"--Schiller.) I expect the bk to be ignored, as was WAF; but frankly, I cd write some of the reviews rt now. The NYT review of DAA was a classic case of what I'm talking about, and Michiko Kakutani is a Jimmy of the 1st order. (See my reply to her review, archived here ca. 16 June 2006; of course, the Times refused to print it.) I don't expect a fair trial for my Japan bk, not for a moment. But--one keeps writing, in the hope that there are a few honest readers still left out there, islands in a sea of Jimmys and Kakutanis. They are a shrinking #, given the disintegration of American civ, but a few still exist (they are known as Wafers). But thank u4 sticking yr oar into the waters, in any case.

(more below)

6:44 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Zos-

Thanks again for the Hasegawa link; I read the article line by line. Frankly, it has enormous problems. The abs. most that can be said is that the Japanese surrender was probably a combo of Hiroshima/Nagasaki and the Russian declaration of war on Aug. 8. Here are some issues that are problematic:

1. The essay is largely an attack on the work of Sadao Asada, who claims that the Russian declaration of war was not a shock to the Japanese. The problem is that many other historians say that it *was* a shock to them, so focusing on Asada is something of a straw man argument.

2. There remains the problem that if Soviet entry into the conflict was so crucial to the Japanese, why did they wait a full week after it to formally surrender?

3. Most damaging to Hasegawa's argument: he claims that when the emperor made his 'sacred decision' (he actually made *two* such decisions), it was because Japan's ruling elite convinced him to make it based on Soviet declaration of war. This is on page 1 of the article. Then on p. 19, the author writes: "It is difficult to document just how the Soviet factor influenced the emperor's decision and the thinking of his close advisers. It is possible to conjecture, however..." And that's what much of the essay is--conjecture. If yr gonna argue that the ruling elite didn't care about the bomb, but was all exercised over the USSR, and that this is what they told the emperor in terms of making a 'sacred decision'--well, prove it, man! We need to hear from the diaries/correspondence of the ruling elite; 'conjecture' doesn't cut it. You get the idea.

There is a lot more that's problematic abt the article, but I don't want to bend yr ear for another 10 pages. Nevertheless, there's enuf here of value to at least add some stuff to the ftnotes of my Hiroshima chapter, on the nature of the whole debate; abt wh/I was ignorant until u wrote in re: Ward Wilson and Hasegawa. *Thank you!*

mb

6:46 PM  
Anonymous bartleby the Scribbler said...

Jimmy,

"they have far more unnatural sexual practices than people in the US."

Do tell.

Does having an unnatural sexual practice mean one is having sex with a robot or a household implement? ... Or is this something that two humans do with one another?

Hard to imagine anyone more techno-obsessed than Americans so I'm looking forward to reading about that.


MB,

I'd consider expanding the section on unnatural sexual practices as I'm quite certain this will guarantee you a much wider US audience.


Perhaps include pictures of the butt of the Japanese Kim Kardashian?

Sorry... couldn't resist.

Wonder if you saw the Chinese film Rape of Nanking. Powerful film that the Chinese government tried to block from being made or shown.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66GPx02Y6uQ




7:19 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Bart-

OK, new title: "Unnatural Sex Practices in Japan." Then I'll watch the $ roll in. As for Nanjing: I wd imagine it wd be the *Japanese* govt that wd try to block it. Who *is* the Japanese Kim, BTW?

mb

7:44 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

All this talk of robotic masturbation machines, porn sites, bubble butts, and the rest have touched me on a fundamental level. I hope you'll excuse me for a few minutes. I'll hope to rejoin you shortly.

7:59 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

James-

Am switching over to 209, thanks.

mb

8:03 PM  

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