December 07, 2013

Home of the Brave

One of the more famous quotes made by Nelson Mandela during his lifetime has been curiously omitted by the mainstream American media in the gushing obituaries that have recently appeared. It goes like this: "If there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the United States of America. They don't care for human beings." I had occasion to remember this remark upon recently reading a review of Stephen Kinzer’s book The Brothers, recently published in the NYTBR (issue of November 10). Kinzer used to work for the NYT, then switched over to The Guardian, and in between wrote two important books on American interventionism: All the Shah’s Men and Overthrow—both of them powerful indictments of U.S. foreign policy. He now returns to the scene with a biography of the Dulles brothers, John Foster and Allen. The opening paragraph of the Times review is worth quoting in full:

“Anyone wanting to know why the United States is hated across much of the world need look no farther than this book. The Brothers is a riveting chronicle of government-sanctioned murder, casual elimination of ‘inconvenient’ regimes, relentless prioritization of American corporate interests and cynical arrogance on the part of two men who were once among the most powerful in the world.”

Both brothers, Kinzer tells us, were law partners in the New York firm of Sullivan & Cromwell, a firm that, in the 1930s, worked for I.G. Farben, the chemicals conglomerate that eventually manufactured Zyklon B (the gas used to murder the Jews). Allen Dulles, at least, finally began to have qualms about doing business in Nazi Germany, and pushed through the closure of the S&C office there, over John Foster’s objections. The latter, as Secretary of State under Eisenhower, worked with his brother (by now head of the CIA) to destroy Mohammad Mossadegh in Iran, Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala, and Patrice Lumumba in the Congo, among others. The two of them pursued a Manichaean world view that was endemic to American ideology and government, which included the notion that threats to corporate interests were identical to support for communism. As John Foster once explained it: “For us there are two kinds of people in the world. There are those who are Christians and support free enterprise, and there are the others.” It was not for nothing that President Johnson, much to his credit, privately complained that the CIA had been running “a goddamn Murder Inc. in the Caribbean,” the beneficiaries of which were American corporate interests.

The destructiveness of the Dulles brothers in foreign policy was mirrored by what went on in their personal lives. They were distant, uncomfortable fathers, not wanting their children to “intrude” on their parents’ world, and they refused to attend the wedding of their sister, Eleanor, when she married a Jew. At home and abroad, the two of them were truly awful human beings. But the most trenchant comment made by Kinzer reflects an argument I have repeatedly made, namely the relationship between the macrocosm and the microcosm. “They are us. We are them,” says Kinzer, and this is the God-awful truth: that it is a rotten culture that produces rotten representatives. Americans benefited, materially speaking, from the corporate profits generated by the violence fostered by the CIA and the State Department, and didn’t say boo. They mindlessly got on the anti-Communist bandwagon, never questioning what we were doing around the world in the name of it. Their focus was on the tail fins of their new cars, and the new, exciting world of refrigerators and frozen foods, not on the torture regime we installed in Iran, or the genocide we made possible in Guatemala. By the latest count, 86% of them can’t locate Iran on a world map, and it’s a good bet that less than 0.5% can say who John Foster Dulles even was. When Mandela says that “they don’t care for human beings,” we have to remember that the “they” is not just the U.S. government; it also consists of millions of individual Americans whose idea of life is little more than “what’s in it for me?”—the national mantra, when you get right down to it. The protesters who marched in the streets against our involvement in Vietnam, after all, amounted to only a tiny fraction of the overall American population, and it’s not clear that things have changed all that much: 62% of Americans are in favor of the predator drone strikes in the Middle East that murder civilians on a weekly basis. You don’t get the Dulleses rising to the top without Mr. John Q. Public, and he is as appalling as they. Like the Dulleses, he typically believes in a Christian world of free enterprise vs. the evil others who do not, “thinks” in terms of Manichaean slogans, and is not terribly concerned about anyone outside his immediate family—if that. America didn’t get to be what it is by accident; this much should be clear.

“They are us. We are them.”

©Morris Berman, 2013

116 Comments:

Anonymous shep said...

12-7-2013

I believe that the vast majority of humans have a price that will cause their moral gates to implode. Unfortunately, Mandela is one of those.. As the planet (esp. the USA), celebrates his fame and good works, they do not know, or mention, his legacy. John Pilger has written an article to point out the repercussions his hurtful actions have had, while on this earth. The first and last paragraphs are Pilger at his best.

Quotes from the article:

“I had asked him why the pledges he and the ANC had given on his release from prison in 1990 had not been kept.” (Does this remind anyone of Obama, and ALL other Presidential Candidates since Ronny Raygun?)

"You can put any label on it if you like," he replied. "...but, for this country, privatisation is the fundamental policy." (Mandela)

"That's the opposite of what you said in 1994." (Pilger)

"You have to appreciate that every process incorporates a change." (Mandela)

Read and weep:

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

IMO, he has joined the Dulles parade and ridden off in his heavenly Mecedes.

3:04 PM  
Blogger GregJS said...

Maybe I’m over-reaching here, but I think I see a parallel between two threads of discussion currently running on this blog. One thread is Paine vs. Burke. Now there seems to be a bit of a Danielou vs. Aurobindo contrast being made – and in both cases, the division seems to fall along very similar lines. True, other than Danielou, I’m not very familiar with these players beyond what I’ve read here on this blog (or on RealityChecker’s recent link), so I hope someone will correct me if I’m wrong, but the parallel seems to be that Paine/Aurobindo represent more of the “we’re all equal” POV while Burke/Danielou give more emphasis to meaningful differences between people – differences often expressed in terms of class/caste.

This isn’t a distinction I’ve given much thought to, but it does seem worth clarifying and sorting out. What I think I can say at this point is that the two points of view don’t seem irreconcilable. For example, I get the way there is no absolute difference between a human and a cat, as Ellen quotes Aurobindo saying; but at the same time, there are pretty huge differences that wouldn’t make much sense to ignore.

Not knowing who Burke was, the quote posted by Michael a few weeks ago struck me as insightful – in a way that’s not typical of today’s apparently more polarized, more black-and-white world; and it did seem to express a POV very much in line with the general Wafer POV (so I, too, was surprised at some of the comments that followed). But I can say with much more assurance that Danielou’s expression of the “there are real, important differences between humans” POV is thoughtful far beyond what I normally encounter these days; and that his presentation of it does not in the least come across as a simple-minded, reactionary, unquestioned acceptance of authority.

(Now I see in.fern.all and Megan’s comments at the end of a previous post. Both make a lot of sense – thanks. No doubt, class distinctions can be abused, as Megan points out. But as in.fern.all also points out, they can be highly beneficial too.)

Dr. B. – I’m in the midst of reading, in DAA, about the very things you mention in this post. Much of it I already “knew” in one way or another – but reading it in the detail with which you lay it out is jaw-dropping and nauseating. Great stuff.

3:46 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

The two of them pursued a Manichaean world view that was endemic to American ideology and government, which included the notion that threats to corporate interests were identical to support for communism. As John Foster once explained it: “For us there are two kinds of people in the world. There are those who are Christians and support free enterprise, and there are the others.”

Yes, it does seem that the American fundamentalist Christian worldview is a paranoid one. This is inevitable, since a powerful entity called Satan stalks this sinful world. He has led various populations astray throughout our history. When we arrived here we found that Satan was in control of the heathen native population, plus evil papist French and Spanish Catholics harassed our borders. Then, just as we had finished ridding the continent of these minions of Satan, came the Red Menace. “Godless Communism!” We were told we had to “bear any burden” to get rid of Satan’s latest trick. And when we convincingly proved that we would blow up the world (“better dead than red”), Satan fled the scene again around 1989. But where did he go? To Islam, of course. And when we finish killing all the Muslims, don’t think Satan will give up. He will find others to do his work, like those self-declared mystical atheists attacking this Holy Land from what they think is the safe-haven of papist controlled Mexico. The Lord’s work is never done.

Try this: The Spiritual Industrial Complex: America’s Religious Battle Against Communism In the Early Cold War, by Jonathan P. Herzog

http://www.amazon.com/Spiritual-Industrial-Complex-Americas-Religious-Communism/dp/0195393465/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1385531608&sr=1-1

6:57 PM  
Anonymous joe hohos said...

Dr. B,

Thanks again for your wonderful take and insight on other's works. Your pov is fresh realism at it's best, and I am glad fate led me to you, about a year ago, in a round-a-bout way.

7:39 PM  
Blogger Astra Navigo said...

Shep is right - it's a very, very bad idea indeed to make a saint out of a person whose past is as checkered as Mandela's.

That said, even a blind pig finds an acorn or two - and Mandela's quote above at the beginning of this article is at least cogent to one of our problems as a country.

9:29 PM  
Anonymous Michael in Oceania said...

Re: Edmund Burke:

@GregJS: It does seem like that quote I posted a fortnight or so ago, hit some raw nerves. I backed off of that subject, because I don't want to see a flame war on this blog about Burke or any other subject. I learned a long time ago that, when people have deeply entrenched positions, trying to get in "the last word" is generally counter-productive.

I have both Burke's Reflections and Paine's Rights of Man in my library, and have studied both of them. Unlike many so-called "paleo-conservatives," I do not hold up Burke as any kind of "oracle." He was right about some things and wrong about others. To me, he is most useful as a corrective to the nostrums of doctrinaire ideologues such as Rousseau, Paine, Marx or Ludwig von Mises.

I mention Mises advisedly, because it looks like "Austrianism" is shaping up (at least in the U.S.) to be the Marxism of the 21st century. The similarities are more than skin-deep. Mises was as militant an atheist as Marx ever was, both of them took a purely instrumental view of human beings, and both of them saw traditional family relations as impediments and obstacles to their respective Utopias. As with Marxism, there is an enforcement of Austrian "orthodoxy" and banishment of "deviationists" on sites such as LewRockwell.com.

For a brief, yet effective, takedown of the philosophical premises behind "Austrianism," see this article by Thomas Fleming of Chronicles magazine:

http://www.chroniclesmagazine.org/2010/02/22/abuse-your-illusions/

I am relieved to see that "Austrianism," as an ideology, is only taken seriously in the U.S. I hope that fact will limit the damage this doctrine will do.

@RealityChecker: Thanks for the link to Gertrude Himmelfarb's article. I have always liked her work - scholarly, humane and empathetic. It is a real shame that her son, William Kristol, inherited all of her intellectual brilliance without (apparently) so much as a trace of her conscience and humanity.

And with that, I (for one) am ready to draw a line under the discussion about Burke. I suspect everyone has had their say by now.

9:50 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Astra Navigo, Shep, at al—

I think it’s a bad idea to make a saint out of anybody. If you regard someone as a saint or a hero, it just means that you don’t know them very well. Or to put it another way, if you really need a saint or a hero, the only way you can have one is to forget all about the real live person – I don’t think you will ever have both.

To paraphrase Mao (whose deification wasn’t such a great idea either) – if a person’s actions are 70% satisfactory and 30% unsatisfactory they should be generally praised, while if their actions are 30% satisfactory and 70% unsatisfactory they should be generally condemned. Maybe an 80/20 ratio would give you a hero, and 90/10 a saint. As Dr. Berman said recently about Chomsky, “Nobody’s perfect.”

And, you have to be especially careful about turning leaders into heroes. In fact, the American socialist Eugene V. Debs used to tell audiences of working people not to follow leaders. He said, “If I could lead you into the Kingdom of Heaven, it wouldn’t do you any good because somebody else would lead you right out again.” Admire a good person, but keep your own critical faculties intact and working.

I guess all of this is why identity politics is such a distraction from reality.

Also, I lived and worked in southern Africa (Mozambique) between 1979 and 1982 where I had a lot of informal contact with ANC people, and I also traveled through South Africa and Zimbabwe. It is my impression that the changes Mandela’s detractors criticize him for failing to bring about may happen someday, but it would take several generations. Fearsome is the damage that centuries of colonialism can do to a people.

David Rosen

10:58 PM  
Anonymous Megan said...

Himanshu

How are you? I'm so glad to see that we share a common admiration for Sri. Aurobindo. He's certainly not a name that pops up very often in this country! In relation to this above discussion, I was going to mention that he actually taught a course on Burke during his professorship at Baroda. Still, as I'm sure you'll agree, I think it's important to point out(re. Greg's post)that it's difficult if not impossible, to speak of Sri. Aurobindo's philosophical positions on such matters without falling into distortion or caricature. His thinking was simply too vast, profound and many-sided to be amenable to any of the standard categories (i.e., conservative vs. liberal, etc.). Other than pointing to his great depth, and to his colossal status as a modern Indian sage, there's not much else you can say that wouldn't simply be misleading. (Though I definitely recommend Satprem's outstanding and highly readable, "Sri. Aurobindo, Or The Adventure of Consciousness", as perhaps the best single introduction for Westerners)

I'm sorry that your wife had to go through the same thing as I did in her teaching career. But Washington DC is notoriously bad when it comes to public education. It's bad everywhere, but from what I hear, DC is REALLY BAD! Of course, the college route isn't perfect either, but that level is clearly better than secondary ed., so I certainly hope it works out for her.

6:01 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

MB,

Not only are Americans not concerned with one another (outside their immediate family), but they are deeply distrustful of one another. A recently conducted poll shows this quite well:

".. a record high of nearly two-thirds say "you can't be too careful" in dealing with people.

An AP-GfK poll conducted last month found that Americans are suspicious of each other in everyday encounters. Less than one-third expressed a lot of trust in clerks who swipe their credit cards, drivers on the road, or people they meet when traveling."

Given this lack of trust, it's pretty much guaranteed that Americans will not be able to come together in solidarity to challenge the most pressing problems they face, and positive social change is pretty much foreclosed (other than in inconsequential areas).

Since the majority of Americans can't trust one another with simple, basic things, you can bet that they won't be able to come together to challenge the kind of barbarism in their foreign policy you reference, let alone an ubiquitous surveillance state that is hell-bent on destroying their privacy. Positive social change presupposes that there's solidarity and trust among ordinary people, but this is entirely lacking.

MB, I'm wondering if you'd agree that this lack of trust is just as problematic (from the perspective of achieving social change) as the incapacity to think which you often discuss.

11:18 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Mike-

Very likely. And u know, we allegedly come together in times of crisis, such as 9/11, but some time ago I read that as soon as that happened, there was a rush to locate credit card #s of the dead and use them to run up large bills. It kinda takes yr breath away. Of course, it's not like millions did this, but there's a predatory atmosphere that pervades the country that I find scary. If you've seen the series "House of Cards," it's absolutely perfect: everyone is using everyone else, all the time, for personal gain. Whew!

mb

11:33 AM  
Blogger Himanshu Tiwari said...

Megan,
I am doing well. Thank you. My wife and I are having a quiet day while the ice storm is gathering to hit the Blue Ridge mountains in SW Virginia. How about you?
I wholeheartedly agree with your comments about Sri Aurobindo and his works! It is not wise to try to categorize his work.

Dr. Berman,

I really liked your post "Home of the brave". I would also like to add that it is no coincidence that Allen Dulles was appointed to the Warren Commission. The MSM is also not talking about the role of CIA in getting Mandela arrested five decades ago:
http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-12-06/cias-role-nelson-mandelas-1962-arrest

On a related note: The intensive media coverage of the half-century anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s murder was long on hype and emotion but short on explaining how revolutionary JFK’s foreign policy was in his extraordinary support for Third World nationalists, as Jim DiEugenio explains.

John F. Kennedy's Vision of Peace
On the 50th anniversary of JFK's death, his nephew recalls the fallen president's attempts to halt the war machine:

www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/john-f-kennedys-vision-of-peace-20131120

Himanshu

5:25 PM  
Blogger Himanshu Tiwari said...

Dr. Berman,

Apologies for the second post, but I see that I failed to paste the link to Jim DiEugenio's article in my previous post :
http://consortiumnews.com/2013/11/25/jfks-embrace-of-third-world-nationalists/

Himanshu

5:59 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

I just watched Denis Villeneuve’s “Prisoners”. I highly recommend it, it is an excellent dramatic depiction of "the cycle of abuse" that Ian Welsh recently blogged about.

6:23 PM  
Anonymous Savantesimal said...

MB, not only was there a sudden rush of fraud after the 9-11 attacks, such as fake charity websites begging for donations to help families -- but actually just taking the money for themselves -- there were pranksters calling the NYC emergency services. Yes, right along with the real people trapped in those buildings and calling for help on their cell phones were jokers calling in and screaming for laughs. But of course 911 calls give the location of the caller (or at least the cell tower) and the operators could tell the calls were coming from some suburb or another borough than Manhattan. And you would think even the lowest random idiot would know about the location function of 911 calls... but several people in NYC have criminal records now to prove that they didn't. I remember the constant chatter about the actual events being punctuated with the occasional mentions of these idiots. And then a few trailing news stories about prosecutions, along with the news stories about the scam charity websites. The fake charity websites sprout up after nearly any major tragedy. Every school shooting that makes national news inspires a few. I wonder if such tragedies inspire the same sort of exploitative behavior in other countries?

7:09 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Sav-

Yr last question is what comes to mind, for me. I wonder if there are any comparative studies. Of course such people constitute a tiny fraction of Americans, but I can't imagine it happening *at all*--except in the US, where everything is an oppty to hustle, huge misfortune included. Another example: Do you remember this?:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steven_J._Baum_P.C.

At Baum's Halloween party 2010, his employees came dressed as poor people who had lost their homes (his firm's specialty). They dressed like homeless folks and pushed shopping carts w/signs like "will work for food." These employees made their livelihood destroying the lives of the people they were making fun of. Joe Nocera of the NYT put pics of the party online, wh/led to the firm going bankrupt, thank god. Again, the # of Americans who behave this way is tiny--but in what other country in the world wd such a vile thing be regarded as humor?

mb

9:46 PM  
Anonymous Michael in Oceania said...

@Mike, MB & Sav:

I think that pretty much nails it. Americans hate and mistrust one another, and with very good reason.

I can't remember if I told this tale already (forgive me if I did!), but my decision to move abroad came about in 1997-98. I was working as a contract programmer for a grocery store chain in S. Carolina. During my time there, it seemed as though, every time I turned around, that one of my co-workers was getting divorced. Sometimes, adultery was involved, but those cases were a minority. Most of the time, it was people simply deciding that something else (career, "self-fulfillment" etc.) was more important than their families. The reasons given were often shockingly trivial, and the effect on the children was either ignored or rationalized.

As a life-long bachelor, I had assumed, until then, that I had missed out on most of what life was about. I still regret not having a family, but in that year, I began to think that maybe God had done me more of a favor than I knew. At least I never got hitched to a sociopath!

As Ross Perot said, in one of the few things I agree with him on, "If your wife and kids can't trust you, why on Earth should I?" America has had the highest divorce rate on Earth for many generations. Americans don't even care about their own families.

This is why the Surveillance State in America is here to stay. It isn't the "Russkies" or the "Ay-rabs" that Americans are most frightened of - it is one another, and with good reason! Look what happens when there is a power outage in a major American city, or other occasions when the Eye of Sauron is not transfixing society with its beady stare. Americans don't help each other, but turn on each other at the first opportunity. As both Washington and John Adams took great pains to point out, you cannot have political or civil liberty under such conditions.

That is ultimately why I have never developed a passion for knowing such things as "who killed JFK?" Even if Kennedy had lived and served two terms, I think he would have failed in most of his initiatives. JFK, like Jimmy Carter, was trying to enact policies and laws which were (and are) spiritually too far in advance of the people as a whole.

10:05 PM  
Anonymous the muted two said...

Mike -

I recently took a temporary job as a flower delivery driver and I've seen some interesting things -

Generally people in suburbs are very suspicious when I pull up with flowers and I've had several people grill me or stop to stare as I get out of my car. And the number of gated neighborhoods/communities far from the poor parts of town is amazing. Google "The Landings Savannah GA" for one extreme example.

The best story: one time, I tried to leave the flowers with a neighbor when the person to get flowers wasn't home. That neighbor not only refused to hold flowers for their neighbor, but also said they'd never met them. And these people live next door to each other!

I think our isolation and fear will only get worse. You should see these rich gated communities - you would be shocked at these private cities that are being built at the edges of metro areas.

11:11 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Muted-

The Wafers wd like to thank u4 yr interesting, and courteous, contribution.

mb

11:42 PM  
Blogger GregJS said...

I guess I’m not quite able to let go of this one yet, Michael, because the Burke-Paine and caste discussions have me wondering something that’s shaken me up: To what degree is the prevailing body of liberal/progressive/left ideas (huge generalization, obviously, but valid up to a point) influenced and informed by the very worldview that those liberal/progressive ideas are intended to counteract? I mean, there’s clearly a world-destroying, world-raping, hustling, commodifying approach to life that the liberal left attempts to counteract. But to what extent has that world-destroying worldview narrowed the range of discourse so that even those of us attempting to stand up to it are unwittingly constrained to do so from WITHIN that world-destroying approach? In other words, to what extent might we be “taking on” the right on the very terms that they themselves have set? Perhaps at least some ideas now considered to be innately oppressive and aligned with the right (class/caste distinctions, for example) could in fact turn out to be part of a deeper humanistic tradition that has been largely snuffed out and lost in the west and that deserves serious re-examination. I guess it’s really just that I’m bumping up against some unexamined assumptions I’ve bought into – assumptions that certain ideas from “the past” are “dead” and deserve to remain dead because they are so “obviously wrong.” (Of course, this would only echo the way we’ve pretty much wiped even older, stranger aboriginal perspectives off the face of the earth altogether. So, same old shit after all.)

OK - I think I'm done now!

1:26 AM  
Anonymous Pauli said...

Michael in Oceania stated this: ""If your wife and kids can't trust you, why on Earth should I?" America has had the highest divorce rate on Earth for many generations. Americans don't even care about their own families"

the muted two stated this: "Generally people in suburbs are very suspicious when I pull up with flowers and I've had several people grill me or stop to stare as I get out of my car. And the number of gated neighborhoods/communities far from the poor parts of town is amazing"

There was a famous TV talking head who divorced his wife, and then he bought a house next door to his wife’s house so that he could see regularly his kids. He was on TV talking about this as though this is normal and civilized and recommended for the rest of the world.

There is something about Americans in the sense that they think their lifestyle, culture, and way of life are the best and should be universalized for all human beings. As a result, if Americans have a serious case of not knowing how to get along with each other, then they walk around as though the entire planet should emulate this dysfunctional family lifestyle. If they begin to sleep with their parents in sexual intercourse, then they automatically behave as if the entire world should start doing the same. If they decide to kill and eat children for lunch, then they automatically think as though this is cool and that the rest of the world should adopt the same behavior. If you argue with an American about the backwardness of any of these things, he or she will quickly tell you to get out of the country if you do not like the country and her freedoms. This is why they think their backward type of democracy is the best.

4:51 AM  
Anonymous ellen said...

I am leaving the debate on Burke et al except to point out that the true meaning of 'radical' is root, as in going to the root, the source of things when they become problematic. GregJS in his original comment mentioned yoga, which led to my quote from the Katha Upanishad which is the first recorded use of the word and makes clear that 'yoga' is about harnessing all of the senses to improve discernment about what is vital--- stretch pants don't get a mention in this poem written at least five centuries before Christ was born.
And the idea of difference is just that, an idea, a man-made concept, non-essential, impermanent and subject, in time, to revision, like all concepts.

Chris Hedges is in fine discerning form today, on 'Shooting the Messenger' about the different bias in reporting on Snowden's leaks and other types of leaks from Assange, Manning, Hammond etc. His interviewee suggests why: "Perhaps another factor may be that Snowden’s revelations concern the surveillance of us. The WikiLeaks/Assange/Manning disclosures tell us more about our war crimes against others. And many Americans do not seem to care about that."

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/shooting_the_messenger_20131208

joe hohos,
The scrolling captcha (verification characters in the box) clearly learns by experience and has registered that the numbers were being ignored. Smart robot, and a wee bit scary.

7:44 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

muted,

That's an interesting story. It seems to me the default reaction to people considered a stranger among most Americans is to view them with hostility and suspicion. It's a pretty logical reaction, if you remember that Americans are now conditioned from a very young age to form their identity solely around how they can advance their own individual self-interest.

I wanted to recommend this article by David Simon on how there are now two Americas, the rich and the poor. He gives a structural explanation for the trend towards gated communities that you referenced, which is that the metric of capital has become the dominant way of measuring social progress.

I think one of the major tragedies of our time is the fact that we are living in the shadow of 1989 and the fall of communism. Despite how socially, culturally and ecologically destructive capitalism has become, Americans are simply unable to imagine an alternative system in which profit-making is not the sole value, because communism was defeated and there is nothing else on the horizon. No wonder, then, that so many people are depressed, apathetic, and cynical about politics.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/08/david-simon-capitalism-marx-two-americas-wire

10:29 AM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

Mike reported:

"[An AP-GfK poll found that] '...a record high of nearly two-thirds [of Americans polled] say "you can't be too careful' in dealing with people."

I don't doubt that Americans--many, most--can be suspicious of one another, for varying reasons and often with some justification. Many of those occasions and the underlying reasons for this mistrust are regularly pointed out by WAFers posting to this blog.

I can't help but notice, however, that the question as posed seems all-but-guaranteed to produce the result cited. A bit like the question "When did you stop beating your wife?" A leading question, as the legal folk might say. "Asked and answered" too.

This tendency occurs often in interviews conducted by members of our Fourth Estate, or in the myriad talking-heads exchanges that fill the airwaves. Example: asking someone who's just been evicted or foreclosed upon "How bad are you feeling right now?" (Looking on the bright side of such things, we have to concede that if the reporter doesn't himself supply much of the "text" of any given exchange with the interviewee, he will often find his conversation going nowhere. And his "piece" for the six o'clock on the cutting-room floor.)

And finally, Mike wrote:

"Since the majority of Americans can't trust one another with simple, basic things, you can bet that they won't be able to come together to challenge the kind of barbarism in their foreign policy you reference."

Ah, but in the case of American foreign policy, lack of trust between individual Americans seems almost inconsequential. Why? Because virtually everyone has signed on to the notion of our exceptionalism, to the idea that God created America to shine our light on all men not fortunate enough to have been born Americans or sensible enough to have set out for America as soon as time and tide would allow.

Mistrustful/distrustful of one another or not, you don't have to trust your neighbor to subscribe to the great myth, and to allow that myth to dampen any inherent concerns you might harbor that your neighbor is gonna screw you the first chance he gets. After all, we can agree, can't we, that foreigners as a general class deserve whatever life gives them. Myth makes might. And what's a little distrust among Crusaders?

11:09 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

Mute,

Do not worry re: The Landings, Mother will permanently put them under water pretty soon.

11:11 AM  
Anonymous Judy Sacco said...

Your post today is very timely. The Huff Post this morning had an article titled, "White House Seeking Radical New Political Powers for Corporations." An exerpt:
The Obama administration appears to have almost no international support for controversial new trade standards that would grant radical new political powers to corporations, increase the cost of prescription medications and restrict bank regulation, according to two internal memos obtained by The Huffington Post."

It's worth reading the whole article. It really is all over for ordinary people.

1:16 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Judy-

Quite honestly, anyone who can get out of the US, and chooses to stay, is nuts at this pt.

mb

3:30 PM  
Blogger Cj said...

Finally a break from the love fest surrounding Mandala:

https://gowans.wordpress.com/2013/12/09/why-the-west-loves-mandela-and-hates-mugabe/

Chuck

3:36 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Look at that face. And people wonder why I'm sexually aroused. Sarah! Have my babies!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/09/sarah-palin-show_n_4413091.html?ref=topbar

3:51 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

http://money.cnn.com/2013/12/09/news/economy/america-economic-mobility/index.html?source=cnn_bin

Actually, I read somewhere that more than 95% of Americans die in the social class into which they were born.

As for cop killing student in San Antonio: this is really incompetent. If he had used an AK-47, we could have had another Kent State. But then, a drone wd have been even more effective. I'm just finding this person-at-a-time approach very annoying, and frankly very un-American.

Also annoying is some verkakte article abt George Zimmerman's girlfriend. Do we need to hear any more abt George Z? I mean, it now seems like he took his cue from the other George:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/20/bush-official-iraq_n_4132719.html

Except that Bush liquidated hundreds of thousands, not just one random teenager going to a convenience store. This is true Americanism, in the spirit of the Dulles brothers. Zimmerman is a piker; an annoying little shit, really.

If every American were equipped w/an AK-47, and encouraged to just roam around their neighborhood (or local college) mowing down everyone they saw, we'd finally be getting somewhere. Obama is trying to destroy us economically, but I think it's time to bring out the hardware, so to speak.

mb

6:42 PM  
Anonymous joe hohos said...

Ellen,

Could be a program, but it is still scary, indeed.

Dr. B.,

Zimmerman is in the news again,not for the murder of Trayvon, but for beating his gf a 2nd time since the murder

9:51 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Joe-

The guy reminds me of Raskolnikov (Dostoyevsky). You'd think, after being acquitted, he'd have the sense to lay low. It reminds me of O.J. Anyway, someone shd beat *him* for being in the news every other day. Enuf, already. He looks as dumb as Kim Jong-un.

mb

11:25 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

They will hurt you dept.:

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37057.htm

2:48 AM  
Anonymous ellen said...

Cj,

In addition to the wall-to-wall Mandela coverage on the TV news here in Britain, there are many interviews with white South Africans from behind their security gates. They are expecting major mayhem directed their way to kick off now that his restraining influence is gone. They are obviously terrified.

I was wondering why he was kept technically alive for so long at such an advanced age when the kindest thing might have been to let him go naturally.

Joe hohos,
My scrolling captcha has inserted a number for the first time in several weeks. A really fast learner.

4:02 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

kids being handcuffed for farting? Hell, I'd be in San Quentin by now life without parole.
Check this one out:
King5.com-TSA agent confiscates sock monkey's toy pistol
Now i can sleep much better knowing that Rooster Monkburn has been disarmed or First they came after sock monkeys but I was not a sock monkey so I did nothing.
And check this one:
www.economicpolicyjournal.com/2013/12/rutherford-institute-defends-10-year.html
You can't have children shooting imaginary arrows or else they might engage in more serious subversive activities such as painting or writing novels, screenplays or poetry.

8:34 AM  
Anonymous Tim F said...

Shep -

That's all very well for John Pilger to make those comments, but let's not forgot Mandela's (and the movement's) primary objective was to end the apartheid regime - which clearly he was instrumental in. It is easy to be cynical, but I believe there was not just something pragmatic but something truly powerful in the way he conducted himself after he was released.

Why should he have been expected by Pilger or anybody else to bring in radical socialism within such a short term in office? Can we say any country is truly doing that in a democratic way that respects peoples freedom?

I am not suggesting he couldn't have made much bigger steps towards a different type of society but equally shouldn't all nations? The difficulties and obstacles of which are frequently spelled out in this blog.

10:51 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

@ James Allen:

"I can't help but notice, however, that the question as posed seems all-but-guaranteed to produce the result cited. A bit like the question "When did you stop beating your wife?" A leading question, as the legal folk might say. "Asked and answered" too."

If the question was truly a leading question, you'd expect it to produce a similar answer every time it was asked. But the important thing is that whereas half of respondents in 1972 answered "yes" to the question, today, today a record-high of nearly two-thirds answer yes. This historical variation, I think, reveals something important about how Americans have become less trustful, rather than just reflecting the bias of the pollers. (And of course there's plenty of sociological literature arriving at the same conclusion, such as Bowling Alone).

"Ah, but in the case of American foreign policy, lack of trust between individual Americans seems almost inconsequential. Why? Because virtually everyone has signed on to the notion of our exceptionalism, to the idea that God created America to shine our light on all men not fortunate enough to have been born Americans or sensible enough to have set out for America as soon as time and tide would allow."

This claim about Americans' beliefs may have been true at some point, but new polls suggest that their belief in American exceptionalism may be waning. To quote an article discussing that poll:

"A majority of Americans believe the US plays a less important and powerful role in the world than it did 10 years ago, according to a long-running study that found that most people now believe America should “mind its own business internationally and let other countries get along the best they can on their own”."

52% of Americans share that belief, so we can't just casually say that "virtually every American" believes in American exceptionalism and their duty to act as crusaders, in disregard of empirical evidence.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/03/american-public-mind-its-own-business-survey

10:55 AM  
Blogger GregJS said...

Dr. B,
At about 2/3 through, DAA builds more like a tragic novel than ordinary non-fiction. Makes me wonder if you actually saw it in those terms or if it just came out that way because of the nature of the subject matter. I also have to wonder how, apart from the technical difficulties of piecing together the details of a huge story like that, you were able, on an emotional level, to sift through so much repulsive material without becoming soul sick to the point of losing heart. In any case, you’ve done a huge service – regardless of how many people did or did not read it (can’t remember if this is one of the books you’ve mentioned as not selling so well; I did see the idiotic NYT review of it, which unfortunately probably scared a lot of readers off).

As I was reading on Sunday about the lies our gov’t told leading up to the ’91 and ‘03 wars in Iraq, I thought, “I wish I’d been paying more attention to the media back then, just so I could remember how these things played out in real time.” Then, Monday morning, Seymore Hersh (the reporter you referenced on the Abu Ghraib story who also broke the My Lai massacre story) was on Democracy Now! describing how Big Bad ‘Bama lied about what we knew about the use of chemical weapons in Syria in order to ramp up support for attacking Assad. But I guess in this case we decided that Assad serves our interests, so we didn’t attack.

Anyways, my gut response to all this is the following little upchuck of sarcasm – a “poem” entitled…

“America’s Invitation To The World: Come Progress With Us”


It’s A Party!!!

Dear (soon to be toiling) masses of the world,

The U.S. Corporate Elite
and its global associates

invite YOU
to invite US
to support YOU

in giving up your way of life,
extracting the “resources” beneath your feet,
and giving them to us – to support our way of life,

after which, you can go fuck yourselves.

See you soon!

p.s. No R.S.V.P. required.
p.p.s. Toxic waste hors d’oeuvres will be passed around.
p.p.p.s. If you have any questions or concerns, the U.S. Army will be available to assist you.
p.p.p.p.s. Don’t forget the part where you go fuck yourselves. That’s key.

11:30 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Mike-

A noninterventionist posture is not new in American history, and it's why we took so long to enter WW1 and WW2. This is not the same thing as rejecting American exceptionalism. Americans can easily believe (and almost always do) that we are No. 1, and at the same time say that we need to not involve ourselves in other people's affairs. Altho on a real level, domestic and foreign policy are intertwined, in the popular mind they are two distinct issues.

Greg-

I basically wrote myself out of the US--I left the country 4 mos. after DAA was released. As for the NYT review, I'm sure Michiko Kakukaka killed the book off. After her review, it never had a chance. You can find my reply to it in Archives here, 16 June 2006 or thereabouts; the Times refused to print it, cowards that they are. In any case, the bk sold abt 50,000 copies, wh/is pretty gd for something that was panned by the NYT; but in a nation of 315 million, it wasn't able to make a dent, beyond more prominent writers 'lifting' the ideas (sans attribution). (But even they made no difference, really.) As for WAF, Wiley hc edn sold 6000, end of story, and not a single publisher was willing to bring out the pb edn--probably for financial reasons, I'm guessing. But in general, there's no surprise here: critiques that are this fundamental cause most Americans to go numb. It's like telling them that the milk that came out of their mother's breast was poisoned (a gd analogy, actually).

mb

12:30 PM  
Anonymous Politically Incorrect said...

"They will hurt you" should have been the title of that article!

really spelled it out to a 'T'...

And yet people turn a blind eye to it all... like it can't happen to them... which is all they really care about ...themselves and their toys...

It's not uncommon to see a fleet of police cruisers patrolling the streets of most major cities now. Everywhere you go that's all you see... cops... and we're suppose to think this is normal?

One thing about federal crimes is there is no way to purge a record of whatever infraction gets you caught up in that system... (one strike and you're out - so to speak) you can become like a troll living under a bridge if you're lucky....

A dark age is upon us...

12:55 PM  
Anonymous joe hohos said...

Ellen,

My scrolling captcha is now doing the same thing - this can't be a program, this blog is being watched, whether by Google, or alphabet agencies, who knows? Hello, watchers, we know America is screwed, how bout you?

1:44 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Joe-

When I take a leak (and I don't mean a Wikileak), the NSA records it in their computer files. Of this, I have abs. no doubt.

mb

2:03 PM  
Anonymous Edward said...

All true wafers must read the entire article:

America is a country that is now utterly divided when it comes to its society, its economy, its politics. There are definitely two Americas. I live in one, on one block in Baltimore that is part of the viable America, the America that is connected to its own economy, where there is a plausible future for the people born into it. About 20 blocks away is another America entirely. It's astonishing how little we have to do with each other, and yet we are living in such proximity.

There's no barbed wire around West Baltimore or around East Baltimore, around Pimlico, the areas in my city that have been utterly divorced from the American experience that I know. But there might as well be. We've somehow managed to march on to two separate futures and I think you're seeing this more and more in the west. I don't think it's unique to America.

I think we've perfected a lot of the tragedy and we're getting there faster than a lot of other places that may be a little more reasoned, but my dangerous idea kind of involves this fellow who got left by the wayside in the 20th century and seemed to be almost the butt end of the joke of the 20th century; a fellow named Karl Marx.

The last job of capitalism – having won all the battles against labour, having acquired the ultimate authority, almost the ultimate moral authority over what's a good idea or what's not, or what's valued and what's not – the last journey for capital in my country has been to buy the electoral process, the one venue for reform that remained to Americans.

Right now capital has effectively purchased the government, and you witnessed it again with the healthcare debacle in terms of the $450m that was heaved into Congress, the most broken part of my government, in order that the popular will never actually emerged in any of that legislative process.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/08/david-simon-capitalism-marx-two-americas-wire?CMP=twt_gu

2:30 PM  
Anonymous kyle said...

MB-

I know how much you hate the dolts who post on your blog and send in moronic hate filled screeds. This phenomenon seems to be on every site that posts information of any value. Dmitry Orlov is having the same problem over at his blog. You might want to take a look at his latest blog post about this topic, you'll get a kick out of it. http://cluborlov.blogspot.com/2013/12/blessed-are-idiots.html

2:40 PM  
Anonymous Michael in Oceania said...

@GregJS:

Re: "To what degree is the prevailing body of liberal/progressive/left ideas (huge generalization, obviously, but valid up to a point) influenced and informed by the very worldview that those liberal/progressive ideas are intended to counteract?"

It sounds as though you are going through the same set of realizations which so many of us on this board have had to go through. I went through the same process in the 1990's. If you haven't already done so, you may want to get a copy of MB's (recently republished) book Coming to Our Senses. He discusses this in great detail there.

To summarize the thesis of the book: Ever since the fall of the Western Roman Empire, West European culture has periodically reinvented itself every 500 years or so. A cultural paradigm is established (often with great bloodshed), and lasts for half a millenium, until it breaks down under its own contradictions, at which point another paradigm takes over, and around the carousel we go again. We are in the midst of the breakdown of the current Reformation-Rennaissance-Capitalist paradigm, and the next paradigm is up for grabs.

I note, that this dynamic seems to be limited to West European societies, and those other cultures which have come into the West's orbit. Even Eastern Europe and Russia (the Orthodox East) has only been subject to this to the extent that Western culture has forced itself upon her (e.g., Peter the Great).

I, myself, am an Orthodox Christian, and I will say that MB's book was (paradoxically) one of the steps along the way to the Church for me. Mostly, the book acted as a kind of a solvent, which broke loose my inherited cultural prejudices long enough for me to look at alternatives with fresh eyes.

So, don't panic at the fact that you are being shaken up! This is what the Polish psychologist Kasimierz Dabrowski called "positive disintegration," (http://positivedisintegration.com/) in which a previous, no-longer-functional worldview gets broken up, so that a larger, more functional and inclusive worldview can form. Take it from me - there is life on the other side of this!



2:52 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Kyle-

It's a combination of factors, I suppose. One is that if you have a nation organized around hustling for hundreds of yrs, you are going to have a very lg # of stupid people--in fact, the vast majority. Another factor is that the brainwashing capabilities of America are 2nd to none, so even citizens w/a high IQ are dumb, functionally speaking. And finally, the whole system is in a state of collapse, so the average American doesn't thank me or Orlov for the analysis: no, they shoot the messenger. The fact is that they really are losers in the system, and they are bitter abt it--hurting and depressed and angry and anxious--so they lash out at the obvious targets, not at the system that has rendered them losers. I keep asking the trolls, Why me? I'm off the radar screen; no one has even heard of me. But it's not a rational process: they find a target, they shoot. Momentarily, they feel good, but eventually the rush wears off, and they are still hurting, still losers. Solution? Attack again! Will a day come that they wake up? Yes: when pigs fly.

mb

2:57 PM  
Anonymous JWO said...

Ed: I did enjoy that article by Simon, despite the fact he has hope the US can be changed and "I'm no Marxist". It has just started showing up reposted on "US" websites like huffpost ... how much you wanna bet he is going to get slammed by douchbags, just like Dmitry (thx Kyle)!

Joe: The Captcha program got hacked a few weeks ago which allowed bots to post despite having to type in stuff. That's probably why it has been changing.

5:27 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

David Simon's ideas are...quaint.

"And that notion that capital is the metric, that profit is the metric by which we're going to measure the health of our society is one of the fundamental mistakes of the last 30 years. I would date it in my country to about 1980 exactly, and it has triumphed. - LMFAO, what a truly American delusion.

And on he goes with this Great Society nonsense, with no recognition of the fact that the US was the only major country left intact after WWII. I love The Wire, but this is pathetic American middle class delusion. If this is the depth of our critique of capitalism, we dont deserve to cross.

5:43 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and Wafers,

MB-

An excellent blog post. I read Kinzer's book, "The Brothers," when it first hit the shelves. Among the many takeaways that this work reveals is the fact that American involvement and action in Vietnam falls squarely on one individual: John Foster Dulles. Kinzer argues that it was JFD's insistence to crush Ho Chi Minh that led directly to war in Vietnam. At the Geneva Conference, Dulles simply walked out of the conference when the French admitted that they had lost in Vietnam and the British agreed! Churchill even told Dulles that, in terms of Vietnam, "the loss of the fortress must be faced." Indeed, Churchill's warnings and conclusion that Ho was too popular and powerful to defeat went unheeded. It's poetic justice that Ho was one monster that the Dulles brothers could not slay...

It is sobering and tragic to realize that if Dulles had agreed with the French and British at Geneva there would have been *no* American War in Vietnam. Kinzer is very insistent on this profound point.

Jeff

5:44 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jeff-

It's not likely that an event like VN cd be turned on or off by a single person, to be honest. VN war was part of the Cold War's "perimeter defense"; one way or another, we were going to find a country to make war on (if it's true, e.g., that JFK wanted to scale things down in 1962). This is in our DNA, not only in our Cold War outlook.

mb

6:04 PM  
Anonymous shep said...

12-10-2013

All WAFers,

http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=11156

This article reports, “1 out of 3 bank tellers in N.Y. are on public assistance”. Sounds like everyone is becoming Walmart type workers.


O&D


Tim F,

Read Chapter 10 of "The Shock Doctrine" by Naomi Klein and I think you will agree with me.

Also, Nelson's foundation financials show hundreds of millions in assets.

Also, Dennis Brutus, a fellow prisoner at Robben Island agrees with Klein, Pilger and a raft of other people on this.

7:17 PM  
Anonymous the muted two said...

Christmas in China --

A man who was fed up with his girlfriend's incessant Christmas shopping responded to her request for one more look around a mall shoe store by leaping seven floors to his death.

The 38-year-old, identified as Tao Hsiao, had been shopping with his girlfriend at the Golden Eagle International Shopping Center in Xuzhou, China, when she asked to check out one last shoe store.

"He told her she already had enough shoes, more shoes that she could wear in a lifetime and it was pointless buying any more," an eyewitness was quoted as saying. "She started shouting at him accusing him of being a skinflint and of spoiling Christmas, it was a really heated argument."

Surveillance footage shows Tao angrily hurling the shopping bags and jumping over the railing onto the cosmetics section below.

http://gawker.com/man-commits-suicide-in-mall-after-girlfriend-refuses-to-1479660064

9:03 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Muted-

I think he did the rt thing. Sometimes, you just can't take it anymore. Anyway, that's one Xmas she'll never forget.

mb

10:11 PM  
Anonymous Frankista said...

Dan Henry said these things:

1) “David Simon's ideas are...quaint.”

Please elaborate for us!

2) And on he goes with this Great Society nonsense, with no recognition of the fact that the US was the only major country left intact after WWII. I love The Wire, but this is pathetic American middle class delusion. If this is the depth of our critique of capitalism, we dont deserve to cross.

a) What is nonsense about great society? Please explain!
b) That US was left standing after WWII means what to you? Please explain!
c) What is pathetic and delusion you refer to? Please elaborate!
d) What is wrong with this critique capitalism? Please elaborate!

For the sake of some of us slow wafers, please be kind enough to explain the things above, line by line and point by point (all of them: 1, 2a, 2b, 2c,2d)

10:36 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Well, it cd conceivably be better than the US:

http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/10/tech/innovation/mars-one-plan/index.html?hpt=hp_t2

2:18 AM  
Anonymous ellen said...

Tim F said with regard to Mandela:
"Why should he have been expected by Pilger or anybody else to bring in radical socialism within such a short term in office?"

...and the short answer is: because that was the campaign mandate that he was elected on. He sold his people out like every other politician who believes that charisma and lies will suffice, rather than making good on what they were elected to do, which is to make changes for the better for all the people.
At least he had the grace to step down after one year in office and not continue the charade. The ordinary S. Africans are not fooled about what has happened, since they have to live with the results, but they have fallen for his personal charisma.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-24164411

Dr B,
Your beloved Sarah Palin features in this story that manages to cover media censorship, slavery, celeb culture, urination, techno-drama and dumbing down-- all in one:

http://www.politicususa.com/2013/12/04/hold-up-martin-bashir-defecate-sarah-palins-mouth.html

Noam Chomsky describes himself variously as a libertarian socialist or an anarchist-syndicalist. Here he talks on the possible future of political discourse in a non-Manichean fashion: 'What is Anarchism?'

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oB9rp_SAp2U

Joe Hohos,
Shame about the scrolling captcha being such a boring story of a simple malfunction. I was getting quite pleasantly carried away with the smart robot tale! ;)
Still, we know, thanks to Eddie, that there are plenty of other smart programmes watching our every move online.

4:17 AM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

Frank,

Did you read his piece? Very evident where hes coming from... I get the feeling you may be on the wrong site. Here's another direct quote to slap you in the face.

" I don't believe that a state-run economy can be as viable as market capitalism in producing mass wealth. I don't.

I'm utterly committed to the idea that capitalism has to be the way we generate mass wealth in the coming century. That argument's over."

4:20 AM  
Anonymous The Dude said...

That story about the Chinese guy committing suicide just shows that it is not all that simple to say that "most" of the rest of the world hates America. I'd say it's more of a global civil war between those who for some unfathomable reason want to be just like or a lot more like us, and those who want little or anything to do with our predatory capitalism and hyper-consumerist lifestyles. "The Lexus and the Olive Tree," as one blind pig who found one particular acorn put it as he was arguing in favor if the Lexus.

When I was in Bangkok last year, I couldn't believe how many huge, American style shopping malls there were (and how bracing 68-degree air conditioning is when walking in from a typical mid-90s, high humidity summer day). The Thais are also choking in traffic that not only puts our own car issues to shame, but makes crossing the street a matter of life-or-death (hint: to avoid getting killed you learn to cross when the locals do).

But most appalling were the omnipresent KFCs (in particular), McDonalds and other fast food joints in a city in which almost every street corner is lined with vendors selling locally produced fresh fruits, vegetables and freshly cooked meats. I figure in 20 years Thailand, or at least Bangkok, will be full of fat, waddling fools who will have no earthly understanding of how they got that way, and American capitalism will have won yet another war without firing a shot.

4:32 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dude-

It's known as soft power. Most of the world does hate America, *and* seeks to copy it culturally; a strange contradiction, but there it is. The #1 TV program in the Gaza Strip is--"Friends"! We could have skipped the Cold War by raining Big Macs down on Moscow. (When Pizza Hut opened there in 1990 or 91, the line at the door stretched a couple of miles into town, with people sleeping in the street overnight to get a slice.) In Mexico, Japan, it cd be described as a love-hate relationship, wh/is not uncommon.

ellen-

I'm not sure what the national debt hasta do w/slavery, and that whole exchange strikes me as being truly bizarre; but I'm all hot and bothered from that pic of my True Love, S.P.; whatta gal. As far as Noam goes (unless I'm misunderstanding you), I never said he was Manichaean, but he does believe that we are eventually going to turn things around in the US and move on toward socialism, or some form of democratic populism and social equality. He has asserted or hinted that for years. He is, in other words, a 'progressive' (which doesn't nec make him Manichaean).

mb

5:41 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: here's another shot of my sweetheart:

http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2013/12/09/palin-goes-outdoors-with-new-show-on-sportsman-channel/?hpt=hp_bn3

BTW, does anyone know whatever happened to Linda Tripp?

6:01 AM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Dr. B

I don't understand the concept of how one can love and hate something at the same time. How is this logically possible?

If they hate America then why copy us culturally? Why would they copy something that is anathema to who they are? What is a good way to wrap my mind around this?

To ask a more general question, how and why do people hold onto contradictory beliefs and standards and accept and believe all of them at the same time?

"If every American were equipped w/an AK-47, and encouraged to just roam around their neighborhood (or local college) mowing down everyone they saw, we'd finally be getting somewhere. Obama is trying to destroy us economically, but I think it's time to bring out the hardware, so to speak."

This reminds me of an advertisement for a game which was a military combat sort of game. In the advertisement, they used the average joe who had different jobs like chef, bus driver, accountant, etc and they all had different types of weapons. They were killing each other and blowing stuff up. It was exactly what you envisioned. I tried to find the video to add in some comedy relief but alas poor Yorick I could not find it.

8:26 AM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

Ellen wrote:

"[Mandela] sold his people out like every other politician who believes that charisma and lies will suffice, rather than making good on what they were elected to do, which is to make changes for the better for all the people."

Not as well-informed about politicians and their many pre-election-day promises as I should be--for purposes of amusement if nothing else--I'm having trouble identifying enough politicians from our history who've delivered on what they've promised to get together a three-on-three basketball game. Hoping that any given politician will actually either attempt to or actually deliver on such promises seems doomed to produce disappointment.

As for determining what would benefit all the people, we might agree on some things that would meet that simple criterion in the abstract, but given the competing interests that exist in a diverse society like the American one, determining how to go about delivering that benefit would be a considerable challenge. Someone's ox would necessarily have to be gored to achieve such sweeping--if agreeably beneficial--change, and since benefits are never come without cost, the question of who pays will remain a constant impediment.

Those best equipped to help defray such costs have made their position clear, it seems to me, and those who serve these people and their interests have shown that they are unwilling to offend their benefactors for the sake of the larger masses.

To return to the central point, believing that any politician, even one who truly has the noblest intentions and possesses an earnest, heartfelt commitment to serving the greater good, will be able to stand against the forces that resist change is naive.

8:27 AM  
Blogger Jack Lattemann said...

RE: Linda Tripp, a banal Ho Ho Ho. She and her spouse run an internet business where every day is Christmas, The Christmas Sleigh.
http://thechristmassleigh.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?

10:55 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

cube-

Well, how do u feel abt yr parents, for starters? I keep telling you, the world is not logical, it's psycho-logical; and if u keep on approaching it like Cantor and Goedel et al., you won't be able to understand very much. (You might think of it as a Moebius strip that is simultaneously inside and outside; but I recommend that you drop the logistics altogether.) That Palestinians hate America and love "Friends" is a real fact, and describes a lot of what goes on in the world vis-a-vis the US. So Aristotle wrote that a thing cannot be both A and Not-A. Smart guy, but in the world of human relations, that happens to be wrong. He shd have payed more attn to the work of Sophocles and Aeschylus.

Jas-

I can't speak for ellen, but I think she's making a distinction between politicians who get co-opted vs. those for whom it's not even an issue (i.e., ones who are corrupt from the get-go).

mb

11:02 AM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

MB,

Soft Power ?
Well, maybe compared to bullets and all that...
Here's Norman Spinrad's 1999 take on what happens when the Irresistible Corporation meets the Immovable Culture.
Of course, even in 1999, Shenzhen and other Special Economic Zones made his premise more than a bit IWW-ish (um, wobbly), but it's still a sweet and short (and sour for anarchist-syndicalists) funny read.

http://www.sff.net/people/normanspinrad/mouse.htm

And you can bet yer bottom yuan that Disney architecture will not permit visitors to the Middle Kingdom's Magic Kingdom to jump to their deaths. Mexico and Costa Rica may tolerate side-of-the-road shrines where some hapless driver or short-term-pedestrian met their doom, but other than those dedicated to Dear Chairman Walt, memorial markers are seriously bad feng shui, especially so for customers taking a Blodie.

#

11:15 AM  
Anonymous Troutbum said...

Dr. MB,

Interesting remarks regarding the Dulles brothers. I've just finished reading " JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters" by James W. Douglas and it is a fascinating account of why JFK was murdered. In it, Mr. Douglas shows a hidden history of JFK's turn towards peace and nuclear disarmament and how elements of our Government killed him. After the Bay of Pigs, JFK fired Allen Dulles from director of the CIA. Then, LBJ appointed A. Dulles to the Warren Commission, where he directed an investigation that pointed to himself and other CIA types. Douglas also eviscerates many of the conclusions of the Warren Report.

The mind reels at the human and financial costs if even partially true. End of the cold war, withdrawal from Vietnam, no slaughter in Indonesia; all of this may have had a different history.

Read the book, it's better than most murder novels except its non fiction.
Link : http://amzn.com/1439193886

11:48 AM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Good day Dr. Berman and Wafers,

MB-

Hot damn! That's a great shot of Sarah. Instead of wearing a "Women who Hunt" T-shirt, she shoulda been wearing one that said, "Woman on the Hunt"! That woulda sealed the deal, at least for me...

Thanks for the feedback regarding Kinzer, Dulles and Vietnam. You're right, it's an overgeneralization to place the entire Vietnam War at the feet of JFD.

Wafers, MB-

Boy, it's been a long while since we heard from Tim Lukeman. Hopefully, all is well with Tim and we can enjoy more of his blog contributions very soon.

Jeff

11:51 AM  
Anonymous joe hohos said...

Ellen,

I too was having fun with the idea. Not to say the "hacking" incident wasn't false flag to explain why they were changing the way they watched us. Joking, sort of.

Frankista,

Not speaking for Dan Henry, I'll try to answer your questions.

1) His ideas are ignoring the fact America was starting as a business, not a country. That capitalism is the only way is thinking within the same paradigm; "the problems of the world can not be fixed with the same kind of thinking that got us into them in the first place" Albert Einstein.

2a) The "great society" nonsense is that America used to be great, not have these problems, capitalism was put in check by labour, the courts, and representatives of the people; the American "myth" so to speak. For example, Senators were elected by their respective state legislatures until 1913.

2b) To me the fact the US was the only one left standing means there were no checks and balances on our system, no competition. It is well known Germany was technically more advanced than us; for instance, they came out with a jet right before the end of the war; we were still using props. With the western world's infrastructure knocked out, we were the only ones who could produce at a high level, quality and innovation be damned!

2c) Pathetic American middle class delusion, to me, would mean ignoring people at the margins throughout our history. Sure, the postwar period was great for middle class whites, but what about anyone of color or even not middle class?

2d) There is no critique of capitalism is the problem. He believes capitalism is the only way, with some populism and labor thrown in to keep capitalism in check. Instead of opening his mind and understanding there are limited resources in a limited world, and realizing THIS IS CAPITALISM, he tries to say we need a "more friendly" capitalism. That just doesn't exist.

Dr. B,

Sorry for possibly going over the half page limit. It's really hard to tell with this box.

12:49 PM  
Blogger Clint Beach said...

To Morris Berman, Back to Cold War, free enterprise and Christians. It all led to 108 Pershing nuclear missiles in Germany, near Ulm (birthplace of Einstein), next door to an elementary school in Mutlangen, or two miles from the center of Heilbronn just north of Stuttgart. These nuclear missiles if armed (usually not as Army was scared of accidents) and fired would have had West Christians blowing up East Christians (orthodox Russians) and thus killing free Enterprise and Jesus worship in one battle. Not sure how we passed that up, but glad Gorbachev had some sense.

1:19 PM  
Blogger GregJS said...

It’s true, Dr. B – we here at NSA can’t tell the difference between passing urine and passing secrets, so we just keep an eye on it all. And yes – please everyone, do sign in using the full captcha. Thank you.

Good response to Kakutani’s criminally unprofessional, least-substantive-review-ever. As you say, she really did totally refuse to engage with the book – which gives the impression of an intentional “hit job.” But how in the world do people like that live with themselves? Oh yeah, they don’t.

Michael,
Thanks for sharing your experiences. If we’re talking about the same thing, then I think I, too, have been through similar processes of seeing beyond cultural prejudices. Actually, there were three “big ones” where I ended up seeing things totally differently: a “spiritual” one in my teens (“our culture’s crazy because we’re all totally identified with ego”), a psychological one in my 20’s (“our culture’s crazy because it makes us repress so much”), and an anthropological one around 30 (“our culture’s crazy because it violates how humans evolved to live”). MB’s first trilogy sheds a great deal of additional light on all three of these major shifts. What I was describing the other day feels a bit different, though. (But maybe it’s not different and I’m just too much in the “newness” of this latest “shake up” to see how it fits the same general pattern as the others.)

What feels different in this one is that, in each of those other three cases, I passed from one fairly clearly defined way of seeing things to another. Like, first I was in the “let’s all live for our egos” camp; and then I switched to the “let’s all transcend our egos” camp. There were always those two fairly distinct “camps” with fairly distinct, fairly clear-cut ideologies, POVs, etc. Same with the political-social realm: left vs. right.

What “shook me up” about the caste thing was that an idea/institution that seemed to belong so wholly and unambiguously to one “camp” (jerks who want to divide and oppress others for selfish gain) suddenly seemed like it could conceivably belong in the other (people who want everyone to have the greatest chance to develop within a unified society). It’s this potential “misfiling” of a major, well-known idea (i.e., not some little “nuance”) – as opposed to a total change of worldview – that feels new to me. So in other words, in considering the value of caste, I don’t think I’m in the process of changing yet again to a new worldview (I’m certainly not becoming a member of the oppressive right!) Nor does it feel quite the same as simply “learning something new” or “adopting a new idea” either. “Misfiling” is the best I can come up with – and I suspect it’s related to our uniquely modern-style of disconnection from reality. Which leaves me wondering how much of this might be built in to my current worldview…

Muted,
I hope the (ex)girlfriend get those shoes finally - otherwise, what a tragedy.

1:26 PM  
Anonymous JWO said...

I sure hope this is one of those fake news things or at least not true:

"Couch’s attorneys argued his parents were responsible for the teen’s actions that night because of the way he had been raised. Defense attorneys put a psychologist on the stand who testified Couch was a product of wealth and got whatever he wanted."

http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2013/12/10/teen-sentenced-to-probation-for-deadly-dwi-crash/

Time to revive the post-it

Onward and Downward!

1:51 PM  
Anonymous Banana Head said...

MB,

I think you have a point with the potential for someone to be A and Not A at the same time. It kind of reminds me of what the war criminals that devastated Vietnam said about their war crimes: "We had to burn the village to save it." Probably all of this would fall under the category of "living or believing in a contradiction". It happens, and most of the really bad stuff that happens is a result of it, it seems.

Neoliberal capitalism is a contradiction. It's essentially "economic elitism for everyone", which is a contradiction in terms, since wealth is a finite resource. Neo-nazism is also a contradiction, inasmuch it claims white racial superiority without a shred of credible scientific or historical evidence (all of which militate against the idea of white superiority).

The Enlightenment seems to me to have been an attempt to try to stop living and believing in contradictions. In its best and most beneficial form, it stuck to facts instead of wishful thinking.

But perhaps this is just a first step. Aside from recognizing what is real, you have to care enough about it to do good in the world.

2:17 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Greg-

Three comments I remember abt Michiko:

1. Norman Mailer: If she weren't an Asian woman, she wdn't have her job.

2. Salman Rushdie: (she's incompetent--more or less, this is what he said)

3. Jonathan Franzen: "She's the fucking stupidest person in New York City."

Her idea is that if she agrees w/a bk, it's a gd bk, and if she disagrees w/it, it's a bad one. Talk about Enlightenment tradition!

Jeff-

I keep waiting for her to wear one that says BERMY, COME TO ME! Then I'll know there's a god.

Trout-

I think it was Walter LaFeber who calculated that the Cold War cost us $8 trillion in 1967 dollars.

mb

3:27 PM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...

Hello all,

Brief as on vacation!

First--When Grapes of Wrath was publsihed and released in 1939 it was attacked by many as a distortion and full of lies. Think about that...

Love Hate relationship. Much is made of this clumsy colloquilism. It about ambivalence. I really don;t like India but I really enjoy food. Most Americans don;t like Mexico but they sure love Salsa and Tacos. A lot of people overseas do not like the government of the U.S. or its foreign policy but love the Godfather Trilogy and Elvis. Why is this even a topic of discussion? MB does not like Palins policy ideas (such as they are) but loves her tuckus.

3:28 PM  
Anonymous Edward said...

The Dude said: "in 20 years Thailand, or at least Bangkok, will be full of fat, waddling fools who will have no earthly understanding of how they got that way, and American capitalism will have won yet another war without firing a shot"

The key phrase is "American capitalism". American form of capitalism is different from the forms of capitalism being practiced in Germany, Singapore, Malaysia, Sweden, Japan, Hong Kong, Australia, Canada, France, etc. American capitalism is best described as vulture capitalism (the words of Gov. of Texas, Perry).

We are here to learn and to educate each other, so there is no need to get belligerent (RE: Dan Henry). EXPLAIN and ELABORATE if you can! I think David Simon confuses American capitalism with other forms of capitalism or he thinks that every nation in the world is like America in practicing vulture capitalism. Plus, he confuses Marxism with socialism (or at least he equates Marxism to socialism, and he talks as if Marxism is the opposite of American form of capitalism). Read this from the impromptu speech:

Capitalism stomped the hell out of Marxism by the end of the 20th century. After the second world war, the west emerged with the American economy coming out of its wartime extravagance, emerging as the best product … in terms of just how facile it was in creating mass wealth.

Socialism is a dirty word in my country. I have to give that disclaimer at the beginning of every speech, "Oh by the way I'm not a Marxist you know". I lived through the 20th century. I don't believe that a state-run economy can be as viable as market capitalism in producing mass wealth. I don't.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/08/david-simon-capitalism-marx-two-americas-wire?CMP=twt_gu

Pauli said: There is something about Americans in the sense that they think their lifestyle, culture, and way of life are the best and should be universalized for all human beings. As a result, if Americans … decide to kill and eat children for lunch, then they automatically think as though this is cool and that the rest of the world should adopt the same behavior

3:52 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Capo-

Sad to say, I have never run across any online fotos of Sarah's tushie. Do they exist, do u know? I imagine it to be quite substantial.

mb

3:58 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Capo,
Did you know that John Ford who directed The Grapes of Wrath never read the book?
The Dude,
Lay off Thailand if you can. I have been there every summer except 2 since 1989. Yes, it has its problems but you will not find a more gracious people, the food is excellent, the beaches are breathtakingly beautiful (as well as the women) and violent crime is near non-existent. Yes, the traffic in BKK is terrible but they at least invested in a first-class subway system free of urine smells by the way. Not a few tourist guide books, in addition, say the same: the Thais invented fun. In fact, when a Thai husband comes home from work the formulaic saying from the wife is "Did you have fun today?", not the banal How was your day?

5:00 PM  
Blogger Himanshu Tiwari said...

Dr B and Wafers,

6-year-old suspended for kissing girl, accused of sexual harassment:
http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/11/living/6-year-old-suspended-kissing-girl/

Morris, if they can do this to a six yr old...then they could sentence you for life for your comments about Sarah Palin..if she will be our next pres...:)

O & D
Himanshu

6:55 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Himan-

They don't need my comments abt Sarah to lock me up, or anything, really. If they don't like you, they'll lock you up, period, and there's very little u can do abt it.

SARAH, BABY, COME TO ME! YOU ARE SO STUPID, I HAVE TO HAVE YOU!

Dan-

My fantasy is that I am married to Sarah, come home, and she says: "Can I offer you a plate of chopped liver, dear?"

mb

7:57 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

I really can't take much more of this:

http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/11/justice/george-zimmerman-no-charges/index.html?hpt=hp_t3

8:03 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

I remember reading some comments made by right-wingers about Palin after her first hunting shows aired, a lot of them were convinced that Sarah’s a faker when it comes to hunting (kind of like G W Bush was a fake cowboy who sold his “ranch” and moved to Dallas the moment he left office). They said she looked completely inexperienced and was a terrible shot, plus she demonstrates a dangerous disregard for basic gun safety (a la Dick Cheney). See photo below, with the gun pointing at her own head. Serious hunters don’t do stuff like that, but dumb clowns do, and that’s why there were 14000 accidental shootings and 850 deaths last year. Hey, maybe she’ll accidentally plug her husband, then the chances of your longed for tundra tryst will increase substantially.


http://bulgebull.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/191da-sarahpiers.jpg

12:01 AM  
Anonymous ellen said...

Dr B,
In Sarah's case the offer would be a plate of freshly killed, raw moose liver, I assume?
I found a rear view pic for you of the young Palin, then Heath. There are others but the comments are too vile to link to:

http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/7f0711d7fb/sarah-palin-struts-that-ass-from-fod-team

Re Chomsky, I should perhaps have written 'possible future of non-Manichean political discourse' which he talks about as options, more in hope than expectation. As Camus said, “We have to imagine Sisyphus happy” --pushing that rock endlessly up the hill--- otherwise we would all head for the nearest shopping mall to
commit seppuku like that exasperated Chinese chap.

Paul Watzlawick, who was a member of the group around Gregory Bateson, wrote some helpful books about teasing out some of the human complexities we all face-and his approach is a good fit with the theories of Dabrowski that Michael in Oceania mentioned. This one is also quite funny and realistic while promising no simplistic fix:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Situation-Hopeless-But-Not-Serious/dp/0393310213

4:53 AM  
Anonymous Tim F said...

Shep / Ellen:

I haven't read the Shock Doctrine, I will try and check it out. I imagine I wouldn't disagree with it nor the general stance Pilger was making to Mandela when he interviewed him. What I particularly didn't like at the end of the Pilger article was how he referred to the white security guards giving Mandela instructions the subtext being "nothing has really changed here - black man being ordered about by white men". I see that as massively patronising towards Mandela and to a movement that has removed apartheid.

To make a comparison to UK politics - I think this line would be appropriate in terms of the huge disappointment most people had towards Labour's time in office (after 18 years of the Conservatives) compared to the expectation. They hadn't removed apartheid though!

6:56 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ellen-

Thank u4 that video. Quite a substantial rump on that lady. I can see us making love, then eating moose liver. If I don't get to shtupp her w/in the next 20 yrs, I'll kill myself; tho Michele Bachmann may do in a pinch.

Zos-

That pic of Sarah is less arousing...She really is dumb as a stick, isn't she?

mb

7:10 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

Ellen,

Thanks for the Chomsky. There is no one like him. Thank you. Chomsky’s explanation of Anarchy is a beautiful thing to watch .

I learned (among many other historical items):

"Adam Smith and his bitter condemnation of division of labor and his insistence that in any civilized society the government will have to prevent it because it will destroy personal integrity and essential human rights. It will turn human beings into a creature so stupid and ignorant as can be."

"The enlightenment and romantic era was directly opposed to the industrial revolution."

"THe Spanish Civil War was crushed by Communism, Democracy and Fascism (working together) before they cud turn to their petty differences. They agreed that the effort of free people to control their own lives had to be crushed. "

WAFers,

The last I will say about Mandela.

“Liberated people don’t live in squalor.” "Reconciliation is Not Decolonization."

Apartheid still exists in all corners of the globe. Minorities are apart anywhere u go.

Jimmy Carter (Not a dime's worth of difference between Mandela and Jimma) should have noticed that South Africa AND Palestine function as apartheid states as does the USA and many others.

The best on I have found among innumerable articles re: Mandela: a must read.

http://blackagendareport.com/content/nelson-mandela-contradictions-his-life-and-legacies

7:21 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Wafers (and Waferettes):

Some yrs ago I was at a cocktail party and a tall, gorgeous woman came up to me and said: "Have I given you my card?" She had long legs, high heels, short skirt, red lacquered nails, and was carrying an attache case; looked very LA, in short. I said, a bit dumbfounded (why would she be approaching a zhlub like *me*??): "Uh, no." She then took out a little gold case, extracted a card, handed it to me, and disappeared. I looked at the card: All it said, in huge block capitals, was: MY CARD

I laughed out loud. Where is she?, I thought; I want to marry her. Alas, she was nowhere to be seen.

This is actually a true story. But reflecting on it now, it seems to me that Wafers need an official Wafer Business Card (WBC), to distribute at appropriate moments. I am, therefore, taking nominations for suggestions of what it might say, b4 going to press. Here's my own suggestion:

I AM A WAFER

UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES
WILL I TOLERATE HORSE
MANURE.

(Phone #)

Whaddyu guys think?

mb

11:09 AM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...

Love it--My Card.

Up there with--can you call me a cab? Yes--you are a cab!

11:40 AM  
Anonymous Brian said...

WAFer Card Nomination

"My Kard(ashian)"

Well . . . there's got to be *something* on the card that would generate a dolt's interest?!

In solidarity--

Brian

12:14 PM  
Blogger Publius said...

Thinking about how Ivan Illich's work applies to being a WAFer, and Prof. Berman in general.
Both great thinkers!

Illich was very much against "credentialism" and the way in which westerners in general turn every area of life into something to be exploited by bureaucrats and businesses. He wanted us to de-institutionalize ourselves: de-school. Don't go to the hospital to die. Don't get your food from combines, etc.

Quite inspiring. I think he would be a wafer.
If I am going to be a NMI, wherever that is, part of it will be to de-institutionalize myself and my family. I am applying it already, by teaching my son to play the recorder as I teach myself, or teach him about electricity myself, etc.

The schools here, even in the "least miserable state" (according to Bloomberg) really scare me. I need to get my son out, but to do that, I will need to get myself out of the 9-5 cube job. At least now I am inspired by the goal and work, instead of overwhelmed. Thanks to Illich and MB!

12:17 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Dr. Berman & Wafers,

RE: Official Wafer Card.

Years ago, when I became marginally computer literate, the first thing I did was to create my own letterhead. It consisted of the following:

INSTITUTE FOR THE PREVENTION OF ARBITARY BULLSHIT
DAVID ROSEN, FOUNDER & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

How about the following for a Wafer Card?:

“I am a member of the Wafer Institute for the Prevention of Arbitrary and Capricious Bullshit.”

Such a card would be ridiculous with a cell phone number, Facebook info, or any other techno-dreck info. Maybe a PO Box would be okay, or the location of a hollow tree where messages could be left.

In any case, the US is declining to the point where arbitrary and capricious bullshit is just about all that’s left!

David Rosen

12:21 PM  
Anonymous cactus practice said...

Dr. B, looks like you have some supporters:

http://www.scotsman.com/news/wafers-of-the-world-unite-1-811743

Nice headline at least.

-cp-

12:41 PM  
Blogger GregJS said...

How 'bout:


WAFERS -

thoughtful people who know things in America
really aren’t as bad as they seem.

They’re much, much worse.


We should probably also carry a second card to hand out as citations whenever we spot someone acting like a dumb American. That could get expensive, however.

12:47 PM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

shep,
Maybe 3 years ago I watched a documentary on Youtube on the Spanish Anarchism that existed before being crushed by the unholy trinity of Communism, Democracy and Fascism that Chomsky cites.
Fascinating & heartbreaking.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0XhRnJz8fU

Zosima (& MB),
MB's eventual, ecstatic, Ice Capades merging with SP should become a Pay-per-View event, the funds raised from which might go to subsidize Stateside samizdat (I'm seeing paperback copies of WAF smuggled in to replace Gideon books in hotels/motels across the land, but that's just me, more into freebies than hustling).

Tundra Tryst...beautiful...I can see the commercials for the PPV show now, but we'll need alternate versions so folks in TV land don't see just the one psychic fishhook.

My Modest Proposal: The Thrilla in Wasilla !

MB,
If, in one of the PPV trailers, Sarah met you at the door with a tray of baguette rounds topped with a spreadable paste made from suitable moose liver, fat, wine, and herbs, she could be billed as the Kosher Pate Animal...whaddya think ?

In another ad, she could offer you a desert consisting of layered sponge cake, whipped cream, jam, and non-Kosher moose liver, and she could be The Dish not to be Treifled With ?


WBC Committee:

-----------------------------------
I am a Wafer
I am not a Host
Take your vampire squid elsewhere

*If I want you to have my contact info, I'll write it on the back of this card.
-----------------------------------



20+ years ago, he saw the future and cracked us up with it...RIP
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mCUOEoPucJ8

Eso es todo para hoy

12:47 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

cactus-

At last, official recognition from Scotland. I do support their secessionist movement (voting will take place next yr).

Capo-

These are old vaudeville routines.
"Call me a taxi." "Yr a taxi!" Or, "Take my wife; somebody, please, take my wife."

mb

1:28 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and Wafers,

MB, Wafers-

Depending on the situation, of course, here are a few Wafer Business Card suggestions:

1. WAFER: The only solution this side of a pastrami sandwich.

2. WAFER: Imagine there's no douche bags, it's easy if you try...

3. WAFER: Call me, you won't regret it.

Jeff

3:20 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jeff-

4.

DOUCHE BAG, OR WAFER?

IT'S UP TO YOU.

(phone #)

mb

3:30 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Small Victories Dept., or Things I can be proud of:

Just on an impulse, I plugged these words into Google:

"heads wedged in rumps"

I was the only author that came up, specifically, two of my essays that are archived on this blog. I found this extremely telling, because I keep reading stuff by 'progressives' and nowhere is there any admission that the US is simply finished, let alone that it is finished because Americans have their heads wedged in their rumps. This failure to recognize the CRE factor blinds progressives to a genuine understanding of our situation, and thus leaves them publishing what is essentially fantasy. Can you imagine how different things wd be, if one googled "heads wedged in rumps" and instead of 1 author, you got a hundred? I'm convinced that day will come, but I'm also sure it's a long ways off. Hence, we have another possible Wafer business card, for distribution in the interim:

HEADS WEDGED IN RUMPS

EXTRACTION SERVICES AVAILABLE

(phone #)

mb

7:44 PM  
Anonymous Kanye West said...

Are you familiar with the work of Richard Heinberg Morris? Have you read any of his books?

7:51 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

MB,

Where you are getting this crazy idea that America is finished, I don't know. Just today, brave American soldiers killed 15 wedding guests by drone in Yemen, making America that much safer against the evil terrorists. In a few months, with more of these drone strikes, America will surely be totally immune from the terrorists. Things are really looking up in the land of the free and home of the brave!

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/12/air-strike-yemen-15-wedding-guest-killed-mistaken-al-qaida

8:21 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Kanye-

Peak oil guy, but no, I haven't read him.

mb

3:57 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Mike-

Yeah, a pity it wasn't 15 million; you can't be too careful w/all these terrorists lurking abt. And if most of them are "collateral damage," well, tough luck, eh?

By 2016 we shall have had a piece of garbage in the White House for 8 yrs. Meanwhile, the 'progressives' are getting all excited abt Hillary, and the importance of electing her--nothing more than a proponent of empire, really (see "A Farce Named Hillary," archived on this blog 2-3 yrs ago). What will it take for these folks to see that they are endlessly repeating the same cycle? In 2008 Michael Moore told us how the Obama election was going to 'sweep' the nation. But the guy proved to be a war criminal and a shill for the Pentagon and Wall St., a friend of wealth and power. So then in 2011 Moore told us how OWS was going to 'sweep' the nation...until it proved to be innocuous, intellectually vapid, and politically impotent. And now, Michael and Amy and The Nation are going to tell us how a Hillary presidency is going to 'sweep' the country, when the only thing that needs sweeping is their feeble brains. When will they finally say: "Hey, it's the *system* that's the problem, the entire way of life; and anyone that gets elected to office in the US is by definition part of that, and programmed to perpetuate it"? When pigs fly, is when.

Of course, the positive side to this foolishness is that it hastens the decline of empire. Not that anything can stop it, but if 'progressives' lived in reality, instead of in 'sweepings', we might have a slower or more intelligent decline. But no, Hillary is The Answer; and then, after 4 or 8 yrs of pure shit, of war criminality and cozying up to wealth and power, someone *else* will be The Answer, and so on. Not even a glimmer of light, of self-awareness, ever enters the 'progressive' brain--not even for a split-second. Hi-IQ dummies, is what they are. Clowns, really.

Meanwhile, NMI's can just go their own way. I was at Cornell in 1962 when W.H. Auden came to do a reading, and the crowd had overflowed into the rest of the bldg and beyond, so that loudspeakers had to be set up for the additional crowds outside. (Today I figure someone like Auden would draw an audience of less than a hundred. We went from Auden to Miley Cyrus in 50 yrs.) I can't recall which poems he read, but I remember the timbre of his voice. It was the voice of someone with integrity, someone serious about his life and work--the very opposite of American politicians and public figures. And here is the comment of Alexander McCall Smith, in "What W.H. Auden Can Do For You": "Auden helps us to respond to the world, as any good poet will do, and shows us how a life embedded in a culture may find in that culture the things that sustain us and point us in the direction of good choices. Auden, like any great poet or any great artist, for that matter, helps us live." This is, to my mind, the life of an NMI.

So get out there, Wafers, and mix it up! Show the morons what real life is like. And if they hate you, or ignore you, so much the better: it means yr on the rt track.

mb

5:49 AM  
Anonymous ellen said...

Tim F,

My last post on Mandela, too.

In addition to the very informative article from Black Agenda Report that Shep posted, here is Ronnie Kasrils, a long-time member of the ANC executive, making the same point about the sell-out of Mandela and dating it to Davos 1992. The last few moments of the vid are worth listening to as he warns about the dangers of blindly following a charismatic leader:

http://www.truthdig.com/avbooth/item/the_shifting_economics_of_the_anc_from_liberation_movement_to_20131212

Here is the ANC Freedom Charter which is the manifesto Mandela was elected to implement, it is clear and simple:

http://www.anc.org.za/show.php?id=72

Anyone under the protection of bodyguards would be well-advised to do what the bodyguards instruct, whatever the skin colour, but the question I would be asking is: why would the universally loved and respected black 'father of the nation'- in a vast majority black nation - need white bodyguards?

And apartheid was dismantled by the SA Apartheid State itself, (as it was no longer sustainable, the apartheid state had become a pariah and business was suffering)after backroom deals with Mandela (Davos) so that nothing in reality changed much---see the Freedom Charter that didn't get implemented.

Here's a clear-sighted, non-patronising resume from a long-time activist who wasn't fooled either:

http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2013/12/514199.html

'Instead of brainwashing children to focus on hero figures let them be taught to be independent and critical thinkers, and to learn that it is never wise to put individuals in positions of supreme power. That way corruption lies.'

And yes, I was thinking of Tony Blair, New Labour and the Fortress Downing Street he built when I mentioned politicians who depend only on charisma, lies and deceit. The first time I saw him speak I thought he was doing a comedy impression of Thatcher, practised in front of a mirror.

6:13 AM  
Anonymous the muted two said...

Re: Camden, N.J.

Apocalypse, New Jersey: A Dispatch From America's Most Desperate Town by Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/news/apocalypse-new-jersey-a-dispatch-from-americas-most-desperate-town-20131211

When talking about jobs leaving town, they don't only go overseas. Many go to Texas. When you hear someone use the phrase "open for business", they mean the state treasury is open to corporations.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/12/01/us/government-incentives.html

7:16 AM  
Anonymous Golf Pro said...

What a remarkable fellow this person is:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/13/uruguay-president-jose-mujica

The world's first dual-process President.

9:12 AM  
Anonymous Pauli said...

The debate here sounds like the debate created by David Simon’s speech:

"Third Way, a Democratic group that sides with liberals on gun control and social issues but frequently backs Republican economic policies, set off an intraparty powder keg last week, after its president and co-founder published a Wall Street Journal op-ed attacking Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and her proposal to expand Social Security benefits. Leach, a self-styled progressive who has been endorsed by Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.), is the latest Democrat to jump into the fray."

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/12/daylin-leach-third-way_n_4429675.html

The article by the people of Third Way that caused the debate:

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304337404579213923151169790

10:51 AM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Dr. B

To answer your question, I love my parents and have a deep and profound admiration for them. My parents were the ones who helped educate me and got me through special ed. When I was in Kindergarten there were people who believed I belonged in a mental institution.

It took me a bit to understand what you meant by psycho-logical. I tried looking up its dictionary definition but could not find it. A thought occurred to me that you were meaning psychological but you hyphenated the word into it's di-syllabic parts.

You were doing that to emphasize the word psycho. You had another meaning. You were trying convey that people have certain emotional attachments to their culture and beliefs. It doesn't matter how contradictory they are. What you were trying to convey is this emotional attachment can get to the point of being psychotic.

What you did was fascinating. You emphasized one of the syllables of the word psychological to convey a point and meaning. This leads me to a conclusion. In different cultures can the emphasis on a syllable of a word or a word change the meaning of a sentence or paragraph? Is this another way people in their respective cultures communicate?

This means, if I am to understand people I have to understand the various cultures they belong to through their emotional context, the context of emphasis, the words themselves and other contexts.

Dr. B, what you do is you look at different contexts of different cultures in our past and you draw your conclusions and make predictions as to what could happen to this one. Am I right so far in what you're trying to convey or am I still way off?

1:43 PM  
Anonymous shep said...

Maybe WAFer cards sd be dark urine yellow with a tiny splotch to scrape for "Eau de WAFER".

Infanttyrone,

Thanks for the Sp. Revo. Doc.

"Freedom and the Universe are my God
Freedom is my homeland
Reason is my flag
Truth is my path
That is how I think"

el cabrero

"The anti-authoritarian ideas of Bakunin (Chomsky's favorite) triumphed in Spain over those of Marx. Everything has to be free so that it works."

"Marx was authoritarian and Bakunin wasn’t."

"Anarchism was based on raising people’s awareness through education in order to create what we wanted, a new world. Freedom, solidarity and the lack of authority."

"Anarchism is a program for living. Its a way of life."

Maybe WAFERS shud go 'all in' for Anarchism?

2:28 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and Wafers,

Techno-Buffoons on display:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6B7u2_ptNAg

This vid has it all...

* fone brawls
* police brutality
* muddled and incoherent citizens
* exploitation of LA's skid-row homeless
* a George Zimmerman lookalike hustler who mumbles, "I buy fones... I buy fones."
* sublime chaos

Enjoy Wafers,

Jeff

2:35 PM  
Anonymous AS said...

"Remove hope from the equation" - The trailer for the 2nd season of House of Cards:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jFhJjCmYi1M

God I love that show.

2:39 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

cube-

It was Goethe who said it, not me (psycho-logisch). As for your parents: dig deeper. Try psycho-analysis.

mb

2:57 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Wafers,

Here’s a bit from Vonnegut’s “Breakfast of Champions” that stuck in my mind:

“Patty Keene was stupid on purpose, which was the case with most women in Midland City. The women all had big minds because they were big animals, but they did not use them much for this reason: unusual ideas could make enemies, and the women, if they were going to achieve any sort of comfort and safety, needed all the friends they could get.”

“So, in the interests of survival, they trained themselves to be agreeing machines instead of thinking machines. All their minds had to do was to discover what other people were thinking, and then they thought that, too.” (Equally true of males, of course.)

While people everywhere believe untrue things, Americans have swallowed massive quantities of unadulterated bullshit – many times more than people in most other places. When ‘W’ said, “We’re so good”, he must have meant, “We’re so good at believing patently moronic things.”

So God’s own people, who regard America as the true and only Heaven while they actually live in Hell, have a built-in case of denial that propels them from zero to rage in two seconds. They’re existentially strained to the breaking point.

I suppose the difficulty of constantly discovering what other people are thinking and thinking that too is one of civilization’s discontents, but it’s even harder to constantly *pretend* to think as others do! So, Wafers who stay and follow the NMI route should forget about influencing the overwhelming majority of Americans, but ought simply to regard them as incurable mutants with terminal CRE who become dangerous when provoked by their ‘unusual ideas’. For them, “Have a nice day” will do.

David Rosen

5:58 PM  
Anonymous Michael in Oceania said...

@MB: "So get out there, Wafers, and mix it up! Show the morons what real life is like. And if they hate you, or ignore you, so much the better: it means yr on the rt track."

Interesting that you should say that just now. Rod Dreher (whom I have mentioned on this blog before) has an article about two "intentional communities" (maybe "intentional neighborhoods" is more like it) in his latest posting at The American Conservative:

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/benedict-option/

The really interesting thing, is that these people are not trying to "go Amish" and isolate themselves from the world entirely. Instead, they are trying to find a way to face the current anti-culture together, as opposed to trying to duke it out individually. This is very important. I can testify, from my own personal experience, that hardship (whether financial or spiritual) is much easier to surmount if you are a part of a community closely enough knit, that you would take the bullet for your fellows and they, in turn, would do the same for you. In that way, I am truly blessed.

For those stuck in the U.S., finding like-minded people, and living in close proximity to each other, will be the key to outlasting whatever it is that the U.S. will face in the years ahead. That should be everyone's first priority.

7:29 PM  
Blogger pinkpearl said...

Have any WAFers heard of the Anastasia/Ringing Cedars movement? I just heard of it today. I was talking to a co-worker at the office Christmas party who mentioned that she was reading a series of books that were really changing how she sees the world, etc. I was all ears. But it turned out to be New Age bollocks, albeit with a Russian flavour. So I dropped some hints about the various intentional communities and some outright cults that have been setting up in the Taiga, especially since the end of the Soviet era. I don't think she got the hint.

Anyway, here's the connection to WAFerism: holy hell are there going to be a lot of weird NMI-wannabe detours in decades/centuries ahead. I guess there always are some around, but I can see how, as America breaks down, there will be even more, as people seek alternatives.

DId that happen with the Roman Empire too? Or did Christianity have enough of a foothold by then to tamp down weird little movements? (Not that Christianity doesn't have its own big helping of weirdness.)

Also, WAFers have been posting some great links lately! Thanks!

8:01 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Pink-

Yes, that was the pattern during the Hellenistic period and also during the centuries around the birth of Christ (if he even existed). Lots of bks on these sects and cults; one of them, and not necessarily the best, got gd PR and triumphed (TY St. Paul). We are slowly entering a period of alternatives, secession movements, and so on that is going to have a large dose of strangeness, 2b sure. Tighten yr seat belts and hang on to yr Waferdom.

mb

8:19 PM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

cubeangel,

I was a high school teacher in Southern California for some years.
I had a Latino student who told me that his Dad had a funny way of pronouncing 'casino'.
His Dad broke it into two syllables, 'casi' and 'no'.
He would say 'casi' with a questioning intonation and then say 'no' with a special emphasis.

Casi in Spanish means almost.
No in Spanish means no.

So his Dad was making a joke about your chances of winning in a casino.
What he was saying with two short syllables and some extra intonation was something along the lines of:

"Do I almost have a chance of winning if I go in there?",
followed by his emphatic answer.

I don't know if every other language has similar things going on amongst the people who speak them, but I would bet that at least French has some things like that, as French and Spanish have a lot of roots in Latin.

Probably Prof. Chomsky could tell us more on this, but unless one could frame the question in a way that would allow him to relate it to oppression due to the evils of capitalism I doubt he would reply.
(That was supposed to be funny...please don't fry any brain cells trying to solve that problem. I suspect it would take an almost infinite number of Wafers eating an almost infinite amount of pastrami before anyone had the first hint of how to frame the question in such a way.)

shep,
My pleasure...hope you enjoyed the film as much as I did.

8:44 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

MB:

I hope the WAFer community will forgive this digression from larger communal concerns to a smaller personal matter.

I expect to be visiting New York City soon, and want to ask whether you have a deli recommendation for me. I'll be staying within a matzoh-ball's throw of Katz's, but confess to being a bit daunted by its popularity as a "must-nosh" for visitors to the city.

Naturally I would expect to order a pastrami sandwich, no matter which deli you recommend. How do you recommend it be dressed? Slaw? Mustard? Russian dressing? Accompanying beverage?

Any suggestions/recommendations will be handled in the strictest confidence.

Thanks.

9:32 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jas-

Don' get me started! There are literally 100s of pages I cd write in response to yr request, so much so that I don't know where to begin. I'm going to let the Wafers step in for me, on this one. Enjoy!

mb

ps: Cel-Ray Tonic

9:43 PM  

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