December 13, 2013

The Dregs of Humanity

Every once in a while something happens to remind me of why I left the US. I have a US mail drop in a town that is an ex-pat haven, about 1.5 hours from here, and drive over there to get my mail about 2-3 times a month. I try to go in and out very quickly, because I don’t like the place: it’s overrun with gringos, and the ambience is similar to Los Angeles. The other day, as I was leaving to go back home, I came to an intersection and drove through it (no lights; it was just my turn), but because of the car ahead of me I couldn’t get all the way across. Which thus blocked a woman (gringa) of about 30 years of age who was trying to go across at a right angle to me. Frustrated, she yelled “Stupid!,” at which point I didn’t miss a beat and yelled back “You are!” (There wasn’t enough time to add, “Douche bag!”)

On the ride back home, I reflected on how awful Americans are as people--really, a disgusting collection of human beings. Whereas I literally never have interactions like that with Mexicans, this sort of thing is coin of the realm in the US; I probably had 2-3 exchanges like that per week when I lived in DC. I tried to recall the last time someone was this rude to me down here, and then I remembered that it was about 6 months ago, in the same town, and also in an incident involving a gringa. I realized that in the more than 7 years I’ve lived here, no Mexican ever cussed me out--not once; and the only such behavior I witnessed between Mexicans themselves was when I was in a taxi in Mexico City and someone cut my driver off. He leaned out the window and yelled “pendejo!,” or something like that. That was it: one time in 7 years.

Back home, I went to a supermarket to get some groceries, and as I walked by a 20-year-old Mexican woman coming from the opposite direction, I unexpectedly sneezed. “Salud!” she cried. And it was such a wake-up moment, for me: Yes, this is how people in a decent society treat strangers—not like strangers. We’re all in this together, is the feeling; your health is my concern. You can say that this is "pro forma," but man--it counts. This is precisely what Robert Putnam, in his famous book on the collapse of community in America (Bowling Alone), referred to as “social capital,” and he argued that it made a huge difference for the health of a society.

In any case, I happened to be carrying a copy of the New Yorker for December 9, so I sat down at a café within the market to eat something before I started shopping. There was an article on what is known by the police as the Reid Technique for obtaining confessions. It includes bullying, lying, and manipulating until the suspect breaks down and “confesses.” Recent research has turned up the fact (what a shock) that a large percentage of these confessions obtained under duress are false. The Brits, in the 1990s, began to worry about these sorts of heavy-handed techniques as making criminals out of innocents, and instituted a more “journalistic” approach in which the cops just gather information, then point out inconsistencies. It’s working a whole lot better, according to the essay; and when Saul Kassin, who teaches at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in NY, was asked about the possibility of replacing the Reid Technique with something like what England had instituted over here, in the US, he replied that it was unlikely: The culture of confrontation is too embedded in our society, was his reply.

I do understand how strung out Americans are, even down here in Mexico. The culture of confrontation is all they know, all they’ve known all their lives. Also the culture of anger, the culture of entitlement, and (Lasch) the culture of narcissism. They are hurting; their lives are meaningless, for reasons I’ve written about at great length; and they walk around with a short fuse. So if someone inconveniences you for a moment at an intersection, God forbid, you lash out, because this is what Americans do. That it might not be such a big deal, and that you can choose—as Mexicans typically do in that situation—just to lean back for a moment and wait—why, that never even enters your mind.

Sitting in that café, and reading about the “culture of confrontation,” I couldn’t help thinking: What was God up to, when he made the US? Did he decide to gather up all of the trash, all the human garbage from the planet, the dregs of humanity, and plunk them down in one particular country? Was this His idea of a joke, or was he trying to create an object lesson for the rest of the world: Don’t be like this!? It makes you wonder.

I also couldn’t help thinking about the intangibles that make up such a large part of our lives. They don’t tell you about the courtesy and graciousness of various nations in travel guidebooks, nor about the rudeness and boorishness (and sheer stupidity) of Americans, in guides to the US. And in making assessments like “We’re No. 1!,” Americans never factor in the intangibles such as lack of elementary courtesy or lack of basic decency, because all they know in terms of criteria is material wealth. But you can’t eat your stock portfolio; and having people yell at you (or act friendly toward you) on a daily basis makes a big difference in the quality of your life. I finished the New Yorker article, and felt so happy that I was not living in the US, or in that pathetic mini-gringolandia where I have my mail drop. I have no interest at all in the culture of confrontation, in a society described by the biologist David Ehrenfeld as "a collection of angry scorpions in a bottle.” Let them attack each other all they want; I'm not part of that sad, destructive way of death anymore.

Salud!

©Morris Berman, 2013

191 Comments:

Blogger GregJS said...

Not only are Americans rude, as you describe in the traffic incident, but we’re addicted to the rush of chemicals generated by acting that way. So even though the woman you were “blocking” could easily have seen it was not intentional on your part, she wanted to get her “fix” of angry chemicals, so she saw the situation in a way that “justified” giving herself that fix. I’d say the overwhelming majority of us are addicted in similar ways.

More thoughts on caste. I have no intention of pushing this topic, BTW – it’s not something I’d given any thought to before (until a week or two ago) or that I particularly care about; but am I just seeing things now or might the following two examples from DAA lend support to the idea that there’s a natural, potentially even healthy, tendency for humans to divide themselves into distinct racial/cultural groups and that ideologically trying to override this tendency (“we’re all exactly the same”) has contributed to, in the form of unintended consequences, some of the worst features of American life?

Page 254 mentions that one possible historical reason (in addition to corporate malfeasance) that Americans overwhelmingly chose private cars over public mass transportation was that they didn’t want to ride with people of different classes/races. Sounds likely enough, no? Perhaps it was in cultures that maintained clearer divisions of 1st, 2nd, 3rd class seating that mass transportation remained more popular and widespread? If so, just think of the gabillions of gallons of oil burned – in gas tanks, to pave roads, to build sprawling suburbs, and to fight wars to keep all of this going – because people wouldn’t accept having a possibly unnatural form of “equality” forced upon them. Which would make Rosa Parks a massive environmental destructress. (I’m kidding.)

Then, p. 273 suggests that one reason Portland, OR might have taken such a different developmental direction from the rest of the country in the 1970s – and is so much more vibrant than most American cities – is that it was so racially homogeneous. Again, this sounds like a plausible explanation – or at least an important factor. And again, if there is some truth to this, look at the enormous host of problems that might follow in cities that try to get people to live as if the distinctions we seem to naturally make between ourselves don’t exist: rotting inner cities, police brutality, white flight, suburban sprawl (again) and gated communities, and so on.

Am I reading too much into this, Dr. B?

Interestingly, it seems that a formal caste system allows for much greater cultural/racial diversity within, say, a single city because all groups have their place and everyone knows how to relate to everyone else. No need to try to run away from or eliminate “others.”

10:25 PM  
Blogger Katy Anders said...

I was thinking about this the other day while I was maneuvering through traffic. Someone had slowed up at an inconvenient place to turn into a parking lot, and everyone else was quickly becoming furious. I even found my own temperature rising, and then I thought: Who the hell cares? This person just wants to turn!

A professor of mine was talking about time she'd spent in Italy. She said they considered traffic laws to be "recommendations" in a way that Americans do not. She cited an incident where someone she was riding with got out of a ticket because, even though he was going the wrong way on a one-way street, his car was facing in the right direction as he went.

We're all wound a little tight here.

10:41 PM  
Anonymous SrVidaBuena said...

Interesting observations. My experience in Mazatlán over five years was that all drivers of every nationality were constantly honking and hurling epithets at each other (I lived nowhere near the 'snow birds'). One time I remember a guy in a car almost running over a bicyclist, who gestured the equivalent of the 'bird', the car pulled over and another guy jumped out with a bat and started yelling at the bicyclist, they both 'puffed up', shouting and gesturing, then the whole thing was over. They drove/rode away without a real blow exchanged. Eventually I attributed this behavior to being in a 'high-affect' culture. Lots of bark, very little bite.

Here in a the Seattle-area, on the contrary, I think we must be at ground zero for hostility, passive-aggressive, seething, just under the surface (maybe other places are worse, I don't get out much). It's especially noticeable when people get behind the wheel with their cell phones. We barely coexist, barely tolerate each other. I tell people who ask me about Mexico's reputation for violence, that Seattle is the only place I've ever had my life threatened. As much as I like Mexico, and still plot my return, I remember the hassles, paying off transitos, paying off almost anyone official to basically do their job, etc. the list goes on and on. The difference is in the US, there is nothing to balance out the hassles. It's a joyless existence. In Mexico it balances out in a thousand little ways, simple courtesies and so on which lead me to believe my adopted countrymen actually enjoy (mostly) their shared existence. None of which you need reminding Dr. B, sorry to ramble. Que le vaya bien.

11:44 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Greg-

I doubt Ms. Douchebag saw or thought abt anything, really. The combination of Americans being on edge all the time, and also feeling entitled all the time, means that stupid/violent behavior is going to erupt all the time. As I say in WAF, it's not that there are any socially organized constraints anymore; it's OK to say whatever u want and act however you want--a nation of spoiled children. I mean, it's also why this blog (and most others, I suspect) is attacked by trolls and buffoons. Courtesy and thoughtful critique are simply not part of our culture, and Americans by and large don't know the difference between thinking and emoting. I've said it b4: if u really wanna get an idea of who's out there, of what this country consists of, start a goddamn blog.

Regarding yr other questions: yr tapping into a very rich vein here; lots of stuff to think abt. I'm hoping Wafers will take it on, and (being Wafers) approach it intellectually rather than emotionally--because these subjects of race and class are ones people easily get worked up about. One thing that occurs to me is that there is no utopia. For example, Japan is a de facto caste society, and the ethos of everyone knowing their 'place' goes a long way to defuse possible tensions. And yet, it's 9th worldwide in terms of suicide, and has a shitload of psychological problems that it can't seem to solve.

As for issues of exclusion: there's the issue of forcing people to integrate vs. just allowing them to do what they want...except that a segregated situation turns into bad schools and few economic opportunities for particular groups. In the generation just b4 me, when I was a child, swimming pools had signs that said "No Dogs or Jews Allowed." Well personally, as a Jew, I don't want to hang out at some WASP club that looks down on me; but (a) historically, this had negative economic consequences for Jews or any excluded group, to not have access to all levels of society, and (b) there's something repulsive abt the sign on that swimming pool.

My mechanic, Rafa, is a 1st-rate mechanic, and he learned the trade from his father. His son will probably have the same career. Why should society pressure him into being a stockbroker or lawyer in Mexico City? A good mechanic is much better than a lousy lawyer. On the other hand, suppose he *wanted* to be a doctor? That a caste system would prevent him from going to med school is probably an offensive notion to most of us.

These are not easy questions, and formulaic answers will not be of much help.

I thank u4 raising them.

mb

12:01 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Sr Vida-

Actually, the culture of bribes and payola for traffic violations or just getting thru the day has dropped off significantly down here in the last decade or so.

mb

12:24 AM  
Blogger Yossi said...

I wish that your comments were just about the USA. Here in England, which is really the 51st state anyway, I live in a fairly quiet coastal town and have encountered such aggression and rudeness routinely. Just last week an oncoming driver, who didn't have right of way, gave me minimal space to pass, and as I squeezed through the space I looked at him and smiled, He wound down the window and called out 'You f...ing old c..t, why don't you learn to drive'. This sort of behaviour is not unusual and happens consistently in supermarkets, gas stations, the busy street.
It's a lot more than just 'American' culture. People all over the Western world can be douchebags. It's more to do with the hustling, grasping culture wherever it is.

3:26 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Muted-

I guess leopards don't change spots, eh? Ya think someone has grown up and then boom! Back to Square One. Yr doing yr 'ambush' thing again (long list), as well as attacking me personally. (And what exactly do Mexican obesity or immigration rates hafta do with anything??!) Ironically, yr exactly the type of person I'm describing in my post. This is the wrong place 4u, amigo. I wish you the best.

Yossi-

Yr rt, except that Americans are the cutting edge of this kind of behavior, because we are the world epicenter of hustling. So sure, we export that behavior to other nations, as part of our way of life. No great surprise there.

mb

7:02 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: I'm also wondering how often this kinda thing happens in yr small town (our own drive-by shootings aren't even reported anymore; practically a daily event over here):

http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/14/us/colorado-school-shooting/index.html?hpt=hp_t1

7:30 AM  
Blogger Risky Business said...

Good blog Mr. Berman. I get reminded almost daily why I left the Us, mostly in the media and american movies. The people in the US do not treat each other well. There is a lot of anger, suing, mistrust and just 'leave me alone and do not bother me' attitude. I now live in a society where mutual respect and decency are the norm. Sigh......!

7:30 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Risky-

Congratulations. Here's what u left behind:

http://ap-gfkpoll.com/featured/our-latest-poll-findings-24

mb

7:48 AM  
Anonymous Golf Pro said...

I think Britain is a bit of a schizo place in many ways - it's precisely midway between Japan and the US culturally. It's got a deeply embedded caste system, but it was also among the chief progenitors of exploitative capitalism. So it's partly deferential, partly aggressive-competitive. I tend to find unexpected rudeness but also unexpected kindness in pretty much equal measure.

A good example is this story, which surprised me enormously, I have to confess:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2523024/What-Black-Friday-Britons-materialistic-people-world.html

7:56 AM  
Anonymous ellen said...

Apologies, I am still on the previous thread for the moment.

Pinkpearl,

I have spent some time wandering about in Russia in the last few years and came across the Anastasia/Ringing Cedars phenomenon. I found it quite a basic, tacky, New Age, merchandising operation but it has a surprising number of sincere adherents in both Russia and the US now. It struck me as fulfilling the same legitimate romantic need that the growth of the earlier Wandervogel movement addressed, some factions of which were eventually subsumed into the Hitler Youth. The potential for ideological exploitation is ever present.

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

However, one of my more pleasant Russian discoveries, apart from the freedom to stroll, unhindered by heavies, through the Kremlin and wave at Putin when I saw him through a window (he didn't respond)--was the thriving Dacha system that fed some lucky Russians during the 1990's turbulence when the USSR collapsed. This seems to dovetail well with the Anastasia ideology, however wacky belief in a naked Siberian wood nymph might seem at first glance.

Calculating and naked opportunist that he is, Putin has also recognised the popular appeal and has released public land to expand the Dacha system, as reported with plenty of positive spin here:

http://thebovine.wordpress.com/2009/08/09/in-1999-35-million-small-family-plots-produced-90-of-russias-potatoes-77-of-vegetables-87-of-fruits-59-of-meat-49-of-milk-way-to-go-people/

This strikes me as an eminently sensible use of 'the commons' and I would even consider a swift conversion to belief in naked wood nymphs should it ever appear as an (unlikely) item on Fortress Downing Street's agenda.

We still have a residual 'allotment' garden system in the UK, left over from the wartime 'dig for victory' movement but allotments are increasingly scarce and hard to get hold of. 20 years ago I rented mine in distant Highgate after a two year wait on the list. I am sure some predatory property developer is, yet again, currently scheming to turf us elective peasants off the land.

8:35 AM  
Anonymous Tod said...

MB: "if u really wanna get an idea of who's out there, of what this country consists of, start a goddamn blog."

I had to stop reading any comments on news articles and most blog comments years ago for this reason. It has nothing to do with the opinions expressed (mostly), but how they are expressed. With poor grammar and poor reasoning. Local news commenters seem to be the worst. They just love to get angry about stuff. A kid steals a candy bar from a convenience store and there's a barrage of comments about race, how poor people are awful, and how he and his parents should get a maximum jail term. I live in a major metro area in the northeast, by the way, and not some backwater.

I realize that a few commenters don't represent everyone, but it's telling that this level of anger exists at all, and seems to be increasing. It's also telling that other intelligent people I know may reject the politics of the commenters, but miss the point about the poor quality and vindictiveness of the comments overall.

9:24 AM  
Anonymous Red on the Head said...

Dr. Belman,

You might be right about America. Check out HBO’s new documentary “Trophy Kids”.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LqIvsMZhuz8

9:46 AM  
Anonymous Deborah said...

Guide books may not warn you about the rudeness of Americans, but I did read to my amusement years ago a comment in a Lonely Planet Guide that America is the only country where you are not supposed to respond honestly when asked "how are you"? The answer has to be "awesome", "fantastic" or some such idiocy. I will say, though, that I live in a part of the US (rural area 30 miles outside of Charlottesville) where I have maybe encountered rudeness twice in 20 years, and that from New Yorkers (judging from the accent). Not that I don't see it in excess when I go to D.C. The rudest place I every lived, however, was Sydney.

9:47 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Tod-

The bare fact is that Americans are in a great deal of pain, but they don't know how to look inward, don't know how to process it; so they project it outwards. It's what our foreign policy is abt as well. For neither the nation, nor the individuals in it, will there be an 'aha' moment. They'll just do the same ol' same ol' until they die. This *is* the reality of America in 2013--a kind of mass psychosis.

mb

9:56 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Red-

Also check out a 2011 film called "God Bless America."

mb

10:26 AM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...

MB,

What a sort of Proustian Madeline experience.

I am assuming that the town where this took place was San Miguel. Maybe get a mail drop to D.F or Roma? I don't know where in lindo Mexico you live but certainly you can avoid this. I would hasten to add that as things have gotten worse in the U.S. more americans are moving to Mexico some are fine people but there is a certain douchebag component. One only hopes that a good sized portion of them have a dark night of the soul or go back to the U.S.A.

Two thoughts occur to me. First as Einstien pointed out--you can't count everything that counts. Courtesy, decency, values and so forth are not in guiebooks and fairly impossible to quanitfy. Americans while innumerate love percentages bandied about by official organizations... Americans are uniquely stupid and at the same time attached to some peolitical meme or another. For example--I mentioned to someone how much I enjoyed living in Australia and that its truly pleasant and well governed. Then somebody said they are racist and sexist! I noted they had a woman prime minister a few years ago. I once noted that the train and transit system in Spain is a marvel and it was noted that they are socialists! Incidentally, the people saying such things were both Harvard graduates.

There are indeed no utopias and the first step to deeply understanding that is that man is not perfectable. At core, the U.S. society is obsessed with progress and its corrollary perfectability of man. This causes a sort of congnitive dissonance and alienation. Think about it--to live in the U.S. you have to believe several dozen lies before lunch and then have negagive views of other people. Japan has a low crime rate and great schools--oh they are racist. Norway has great schools and a happy population--oh they are all white and they are not good if they where they would have a black president like us. on and on.

11:30 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Capo-

Yes, San Miguel, aka Barf City. The problem w/gringos escaping the US is that they leave because of all the awful features of American life (which they correctly perceive), and then, because they inevitably carry the American virus, they turn the Mexican town they live in into the US (if there are enuf of them to do this, as in SMA)! What was the pt of leaving, again?

mb

12:48 PM  
Anonymous Bruce Bennett said...

Speaking of the excesses of American cops, I just read about an incident where they picked up a teenage boy on something and he ended up being shot in the head. The cop's story? The suspect shot himself while he was handcuffed behind his back. Our police are increasingly resembling fascist thugs who are using more and more military-grade equipment.

12:51 PM  
Anonymous Zizama14 said...

Dr B said: "The problem w/gringos escaping the US is that they leave because of all the awful features of American life (which they correctly perceive), and then, because they inevitably carry the American virus, they turn the Mexican town they live in into the US (if there are enuf of them to do this, as in SMA)! What was the pt of leaving, again?"


This is exactly what I have been thinking about. Americans have forked up their own nation and they are now running to other people’s nations with the same mindset and ignorance that ruined their country. The whiteman has been running the show in America, and the whiteman forked up everything, so then why would anybody allow the whiteman to come into his/her society with the same deadly mindset and ignorance? This question is particularly troubling when one looks at the history of Columbus and the fate of the American Indians at the hands of the gringos.

1:28 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Ziz-

Even worse, check this out (poor Mars!):

http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2013/0910/More-than-200-000-people-apply-for-a-one-way-trip-to-Mars

Bruce-

Data are that American police have killed 5000 civilians on the st. since 2001.

mb

2:39 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

When I was in Ireland in late 2010 my cousin was driving me somewhere. We were in Offaly, his home. Its a very rural area with very old, narrow, winding roads lined by heavy vegetation. We were driving along and came upon a tractor headed against our direction. My cousin slapped the car in R and reversed, at least a quarter mile, until he had a space to pull into to wait for the tractor to pass. He never let out so much as a sigh. I was immediately impressed by the scene and had a good laugh at one of my maternal uncle's expense. He had been talking about retiring to Ireland just before I left for my trip. He is a very "American" man, despite being a first Gen son of two Irish immigrants. Multiple massive homes, new cars every few years, hates welfare etc...utterly typical. My cousin knows him as well, so I mentioned my uncle's remarks and we talked a bit about the differences in tempo between the cultures. The string of expletives that would have flown from his mouth...to give an anecdote, he nicknamed me the "commie-pinko-fag-liberal-bedwetter" while I worked on one of his additional homes over the summer 7 years ago. The tag still comes up... the idea that he would be able to meld into that rural Irish culture seems utterly ridiculous to me, but then he is still human. Deep down I know he struggles with the "existential strain" and searches for an escape. The problem is that at his age/level of habituation, he's more likely to warp a new culture than be molded by it.

2:48 PM  
Blogger bowtiejack said...

A short anecdote on the moron-infused nature of American life.
Some years ago, I was in Naples, Florida and got a call from my teen-age daughter, who was living in Washington, DC with my ex-wife, that she needed a $100. I was just going to send her a check, but then I remembered I had seen a Western Union set-up in the Publix grocery store. I had never wired money before and thought it would be interesting to try it out (hey, indulge me, other people do drugs and race motorcycles for the same reason).

There was a heavy-set woman clerk operating the Western Union terminal in the store who typed in all my information. Until I said “Washington, DC” and we hit a snag.

Clerk: What city?
Me: Washington, DC
Clerk: No, what city?
Me: Washington, DC. That’s the city.
Clerk: No, you don’t understand sir. I have typed in Washington, but I can’t just send it to a state. I need the name of the city in Washington.

Me: It’s not in Washington state. It’s in DC. You know the District of Columbia?
Clerk: I’m sorry, sir. I need the name of the city. What city in Washington?
Me: (knowing I was in Republican territory). Where the President is? George Bush? The District of Columbia? You know, the seat of government?
Clerk: (getting increasingly angry). Sir, I can’t send it if I don’t have the name of the city.

Manager: (coming over after seeing the clerk getting upset).
“Is there a problem, Darlene?”
Clerk: He won’t tell me the name of the city. I typed in “WA” for Washington, but I need the name of the city.

Me: (running through the whole George Bush, District of Columbia, seat of government business again for the Manager).
Manager: Sir, but Darlene needs the name of the city in Washington.
Me: (running through the whole District of Columbia, seat of government business YET again).
Manager: (apparently despairing) Just type it in the way he says, Darlene.

Anyway, the damn wire transfer went to Walla Walla, Washington or someplace and it took my daughter the better part of 2 weeks to straighten it out and finally get her money.
I despair of the geography and social science classes in Florida high schools.

Oh, and it's well to remember (I think when Clinton was President) that New Mexico applied for some government matching-grant. They got a letter from the US Treasury informing them that only states of the United States were eligible for such grants and that New Mexico, as part of Mexico, was not. It's not just Florida, people.

4:19 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Bowtie-

I think I recall, yrs ago, having an argument w/a postal clerk abt New Mexico not being in the US, or so he claimed. This is really wonderful. We need indicators that the nation is in a state of advanced collapse, and these are as gd as any. What impresses me is how adamant these people are.

mb

4:44 PM  
Blogger pinkpearl said...

@ellen

Thanks for that comment. The back-to-the-land part of Ringing Cedars I sort of get, as I have those tendencies myself. According to my co-worker, Ringing Cedars is also about stuff like this: the first man a woman has sex with leaves an imprint on her, and it stays forever, and that's why virginity has traditionally been highly prized.

<>

There's also some other stuff about we shouldn't wear shoes because they impede the flow of energy from Earth into our feet & bodies. Going without shoes in Russia seems like a really bad idea for about 10 months of the year, but OK.

Though I suppose WAFerism sounds just as nuts to many people. But at least we get to keep our shoes and - MB, maybe you could weigh in on this - there is no virginity nonsense. I can be a WAFer AND a slut, right?

6:57 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Pink-

I can't speak for other Wafers, but personally, I am very pro-slut. I think sluts are wonderful, and am not really interested in virgins, as u might have gathered from my keen interest in Sarah Palin. (Altho she's an intellectual virgin, inasmuch as nothing real in the idea dept. has ever penetrated between her ears.)

Truth be told, I'm much more interested in Kate Mara, and the slut-character she plays in "House of Cards," Zoe Barnes. I was intrigued, watching Season 1, in this muckraking online journal she works for, slugline.com, and was thinking that I might start something called slutline.com, which wd make me a trillionaire and put Facebook in the shade (actually, I hear it's pretty passe these days anyway). Now the idea of slutline.com is that it wd monitor the location and movement of all sluts in the US at any given time; so if someone needed to find a slut in his neighborhood, it wd be a piece of cake. As for Waferettes, they might wish to help me in setting up an equivalent website for locating male sluts; tho I haven't figured out a name for it yet, since I don't know how one refers to a male slut. Anyway, we cd make a lot of folks happy plus make a shitload o' cash in the process. Suggestions, commitments, and cash are all welcome; also ideas for T-shirts, mugs, underpants, etc.

Hope that answers yr question.

mb

7:16 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

I am equally pro-slut. I recall when Gore Vidal appeared on the David Suskind show years ago and was asked about pornography. Vidal admitted that porn was distasteful "but at least people are doing something" he said. Could be said the same for sluts.

8:41 PM  
Anonymous intotheabyss said...

I just wanted you to know that Robert Putnam is as much as a hustling fraud as any other American that you despise. That book you reference, "Bowling Alone" was written and researched by a family friend of mine, but he signed a horrible ghost writing contract with Putnam- a move my friend regrets to this day. Robert Putnam didn't write a word of that book, and none of those ideas in that book are his.

9:28 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Abyss-

Two issues here: I have no way of knowing if what you claim is true. I'm not saying that it isn't; I just have no way of verifying it. After all, yr an anonymous source, and your family friend is not identified. All of this cd be pure invention.

2nd, if it is true it's of course bad; but then, if your family friend did his homework, what's in the bk is valid, and it's a very unhappy portrait of the US. As far as what we've said on this blog about, e.g., social capital--all of that holds if the research was reliable.

mb

9:52 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Regarding caste and the public transport system, my boojwah French brother-in-law expressed amusement at our taking the tram in Nantes last summer, saying that public transportation is a "multi-cultural experience." He wouldn't be caught dead riding the tramway.

In other words, there aren't many "respectable" white folks on European trams or buses, based on this incredibly representative demographic source.

Say Yossi, England isn't the 51st state, Canada is. Further evidence is that folks in England (I did a whole one-week investigative journey there last summer) are far more polite than are Canadians.

10:08 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Dr. Berman, I can hardly express how therapeutic and cleansing it is to encounter your refreshing frankess when elucidating the character and quality of our countrymen, among whom I have the misfortune still to reside. When you describe them with such brutal honesty as "a disgusting collection of human beings," it gives me a warm fuzzy feeling, better than hot cocoa spiked with brandy. Thank you for telling it like it is.

Ardently I pray that I may one day have the means and the courage to leave this place of misery, mendacity and woe, before it's too late.



10:42 PM  
Anonymous Joe doesn't know said...

Maestro,

I haven't posted in a while, I hope everyone is well. I have to relate an anecdote, and per your post, it is timely. Today my wife and I went out to pick up necessities (in very poor weather, I may add)...we stopped at a very busy gas station on our way home, and as I was pumping gas, I noticed a woman in a BMW parked nearby rolled her window down and asked a man walking by if he could give her a jump, as her battery was dead. The man, incensed, responded "are you fucking kidding me? You are asking ME for a jump? you have a forty thousand dollar car and you want ME to give you a jump? Fuck you bitch!!!" I was utterly and completely appalled. I have lived in America all of my thirty-something years, and still, these types of common transactions hurt me very deeply. I yelled to the man "hey, are you kidding man? it's nearly Christmas!" to which he responded "fuck you, asshole". So I pulled up and gave the woaman a jump. My wife, who was born and raised in the Philippines, told me this situation was specifically the difference between our cultures; it wasn't a matter of getting angry at someone that asked for help; it was completely and totally a natural part of Filipino culture, to help someone in need. She, as I, was very upset by the man.

I don't know why these situations continue to tear at me. Ulitmately, it falls on me to expatriate and liberate myself from this hell.

I hope you are doing well, Dr. B.
All the best to you this year. Prospero Ano!!

11:09 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and Wafers,

James Allen-

My recommendations for good Deli in NYC are as follows:

* You can't go wrong with Katz's, imo. Especially since you'll be right there.

* An absolute must is 2nd Ave Deli. There is *no* better pastrami; you'll have an outta body experience.

* If you get out to Brooklyn, try Mill Basin Kosher Deli. I highly recommend the Super Deluxe: Corned beef and pastrami w/ russian dressing and cole slaw. It's the only way to go...

Enjoy your trip!

MB-

What the hell... I'm liberal, count me as pro-slut as well! Lord have mercy, what will the little wicked Zoe be up to this season?

bowtie-

Great story!

Toodles,

Jeff

11:12 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Re over-zealous militarized police and other muscle heads: I've noticed a disquieting rise in official activity lately. I live in a large conurbation on the western seaboard. I've had occasion drive a lot over the past week, and out of eleven 20-mile trips, *every single time* some fire engine or cop car has fired up its siren and roared around forcing cars aside. After a block or two they shut it off, as if there were no emergency. A local university I visited was having an ostensible fire drill, with several huge red vehicles milling around, to no discernible purpose. In seven years of higher education I never witnessed such a scene. WTF is going on? Have the Feds picked up some al Qaida chatter online? Do they expect a Xmas bombing? Or are they just preparing for what they hope will be enough of a public disturbance to justify imposing some sort of "emergency" conditions? Or am I just imagining things? It strikes me as disturbing. Have other people noticed such goings-on in their region of the US?

11:55 PM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

To: slut.com Research Department

Elayne Boosler had a bit in her act quite some time ago dealing with the slut phenomenon.
After the usual hilarious analysis, she got to the problem stated above:
that we don't have a word for male sluts.
Then realizing that she had a close-enough-for-government-work solution,
she said, 'Well, there is "Senator"!'

In his blog back in the cyber-stone-age, the late Robert Anton Wilson never referred to George as a comedian, but as the Philosopher Carlin.

All hail the Philologist Boosler!

12:42 AM  
Anonymous MaserT said...

Berman said: “I think I recall, yrs ago, having an argument w/a postal clerk abt New Mexico not being in the US, or so he claimed. This is really wonderful. We need indicators that the nation is in a state of advanced collapse, and these are as gd as any. What impresses me is how adamant these people are”

I had a heated argument with two true Americans. One is 20 years old (the boy). The other is 36 years old (the old fool). I told them both about this white professor I saw on CNN arguing that he will never buy an American car; that he will always buy Toyota or Honda because he gets the worth of his money in terms of reliability, performance, quality, and resale value. I concluded by saying that I agree with the professor because I have 1999 Toyota Corolla that keeps going and going without any problems. The boy got mad and stated that buying American cars creates jobs for Americans. The old fool stated that it is un-American to choose import cars over American-made. I said this: but American auto makers are reaping off everybody by making cars that break down very often; that it is not true that buying American-made is synonymous with patriotism. Further, I said that the free market requires that purchase decisions be based on value and quality. None of them had a clue to what I was saying – they just hate foreign cars for no rational explanation.

I found out days later that the boy was waiting for a junkyard to buy his American-made car for $300. He had bought the car and it broke down; the transmission was completely ruined, so he needed more than $1500 to get a new transmission. He could not afford it. Meanwhile, he has been walking to walk and back. Two days later, the old fool was mad because his wife’s Chevy van had a heater that broke on her and a repair shop was asking for $1100 to fix it.

2:23 AM  
Blogger Zosima said...

“Data are that American police have killed 5000 civilians on the st. since 2001.”

That’s all? This is very disappointing, that’s barely 1 per day. That means only a 1 in 315 million chance to see the American population reduced on any given day. When the data get to 5000 a week, then you’ll have something significant to talk about.

“Even worse, check this out (poor Mars!): More-than-200-000-people-apply-for-a-one-way-trip-to-Mars”

I don’t get yr point here. This story has nothing to do with the US, 75% of the applicants are non-Americans and the company that’s running this scam is Dutch.

Dr B said: "The problem w/gringos escaping the US is that they leave because of all the awful features of American life (which they correctly perceive), and then, because they inevitably carry the American virus, they turn the Mexican town they live in into the US (if there are enuf of them to do this, as in SMA)! What was the pt of leaving, again?"

That's an interesting point. Americans go to Mexico and instantly turn towns into rude places just like America (and why don’t Mexicans pass anti-douchebaggery laws to prevent this?), but far more Mexicans have moved to America so why don’t they change the areas of the US they have moved to into charming, gracious Mexican towns? Then Americans would be able to see examples of the proper way to live without leaving their own country.

7:36 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Anon-

I don't post Anons. You might wanna pick a handle and re-send yr message. I suggest Cranston Butterworth III, or perhaps Sam Schmeck, D.D.S.

Kev-

Pls post only once every 24 hrs, thanks. (I'm actually trying to get some work done.) As for cops etc. in yr neighborhood, keep in mind that a large % of Americans are mentally ill.

Joe-

Interactions like that take place on a daily basis, all across the US. We really are awful.

mb

9:55 AM  
Anonymous mk said...

Hello!

So much to think about reading this blog. Just received Counting Blessings, can't wait to start reading.
Everyday I witness our decline and then can't wait to come home to heal from the fray.

mk

9:56 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

mk-

Enjoy the bk. Meanwhile, this might make u all warm and fuzzy:

http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/13/opinion/cupp-hillary-clinton-bankers/index.html?hpt=hp_t4

mb

10:04 AM  
Anonymous Edward said...

Zosima said: That’s all? This is very disappointing, that’s barely 1 per day. That means only a 1 in 315 million chance to see the American population reduced on any given day. When the data get to 5000 a week, then you’ll have something significant to talk about.

In a period of 12 years, 5,000 souls have been killed. This amounts to about 417 souls per year. I tell you (as a WAFER), that 20 deaths per year at the hands of cops are still too many dead people, especially given that WAFERS would prefer a rational society where reading and thinking rule the day, where human life is more important than economic progress/growth.

Zosima said: I don’t get yr point here. This story has nothing to do with the US, 75% of the applicants are non-Americans and the company that’s running this scam is Dutch.

On the contrary, the story has a lot to do with USA. It has more to do with USA than the other 139 nations talked about in the article.

The 200,000 applicants come from 140 nations. This means on average, there are 1429 applicants from each nations (200,000/140) which is 0.7% from each nation.

But USA is an outlier when you do not use the average measure because USA contributes 25% of 200,000 (which is 50,000 applicants). Read again: “Mars One reported that the applicants came from 140 countries, with about a quarter coming from the United States, 10 percent from India, and 6 percent from China. Brazil, Great Britain, Canada, Russia, and Mexico, each put up about 4 percent of the applicants.”

Zosima said: That's an interesting point. Americans go to Mexico and instantly turn towns into rude places just like America (and why don’t Mexicans pass anti-douchebaggery laws to prevent this?), but far more Mexicans have moved to America so why don’t they change the areas of the US they have moved to into charming, gracious Mexican towns? Then Americans would be able to see examples of the proper way to live without leaving their own country.

You asked two questions and each question assumes that the dolts in the US government would allow Mexicans and Mexican government to do as you are suggesting in your question. You further assume in your questions that the economic decay and problems and unemployment in Mexico have NOTHING to do with carefully designed foreign policy of the US government toward Mexico. Of course, you further assume that “the proper way to live” is the American way because you hold the belief that “far more Mexicans have moved to America”. The overall assumption in your questions is that Mexicans need America more than Americans need Mexico. By extension, you must be of the opinion that the world needs USA more than USA needs the world. I differ: Without the US, the world would be a better, more peaceful place to live.

11:29 AM  
Anonymous Banana Head said...

MB,

Speaking of the dregs of humanity, I just received an email promising me penis enlargement pills that actually work. It said that Michelle Obama was offering this new product to all interested men because she want to "show the world her warmer side".

Americans are used to this kind of stuff - they expect and desire their politicians to be nothing except self-interested hustlers (whose actions will somehow miraculously benefit all of America). I'm sure this email has gotten more than a few Americans to purchase this snake oil. Do you think that this advertisement would be an effective marketing strategy in any other country? I do not think so. I think the citizens of every other country out there are too smart for something like this, barring those with genetic disorders like Down Syndrome, or with serious brain trauma.

11:47 AM  
Anonymous Ariel Ballesteros said...

Dr Berman,
I was reading lines above how americans are according to you in a "grat deal of pain" and that they " don't know how to process it" and " project it outwards". And then you say: "it's what our foreign policy is about as well". Then, I can not stop thinking what kind of use they will make of the 3,000 or so nuclear bombs that they have. What is your guess on that? Is there hope for the rest of us? Will we still be here to enjoy and visit the slutline.com that you came up with? Salud y larga vida!

12:25 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

Jeff T:

Thanks for taking the time to offer your deli recommendations. I plan to visit at least one of them.

Thanks again.

12:46 PM  
Blogger GregJS said...

I totally agree that Ms. Douchebag reacted without the least trace of thought. If addiction is even a useful way to describe her behavior, it would be in a totally unconscious way. Perhaps a NON-addictive (“un-American”) driver would have been more fully conscious in noting to herself that you were only inadvertently blocking her.

I also agree that the caste issue raises some very thorny questions (like in the examples you gave) – and that there is no utopia. Generally speaking, my interest is in what’s healthy and normal for humans – as much as such things can be determined. So for ex., in a culture where everyone’s legs get repeatedly ritually broken and no one can walk, it’d be reasonable to say they weren’t healthy and normal in that regard; but if they gave this odd practice up, that wouldn’t make their way of life utopian; they’d simply revert to being healthy and normal once again in that regard (although other things would no doubt get better too, as a result; but still, no utopia; they could still be a bunch of assholes, if that’s what they were before – but assholes with normal, healthy legs now). Similarly with this caste thing, I’m just wondering if there might be a way this, too, could be part of what’s normal and healthy for humans (i.e., a healthy, normal version of it). Glad to hear you think it’s worth exploring and appreciate your reflections. I probably won’t go searching for further examples; but if anything really jumps out at me and seems appropriate, I might mention it again here.

Anyone who enjoyed the discussion of modern, human-built landscapes in DAA might also enjoy Jonathan Hale’s “The Old Way of Seeing,” which explores why, in the entire history of the world, until very recently, there was never such a thing as an ugly building. His core idea, as I recall, was that up until recent times, every building had some kind of internal coherence and relationship of parts (windows, doors, ornaments, roof lines, etc.), which we recognize as beauty, life, charm, humanness. This applies regardless of how inexpensive or “utilitarian” a building might have been and whether it was created by a trained architect or by peasants working in their vernacular style (who I generally suppose would not have been intentionally creating “internal coherence” or “relationships of parts”). But now our landscape is crowded with ugly, deathly, inhuman shit-boxes, both large and small. Since cost/architectural training don’t seem to be the issue, it appears the phenomenon is induced by western style modernity and is due to a loss of some sort of natural perceptual ability that all humans used to have (another possible aspect of what is normal/natural/healthy for humans?).

1:12 PM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Zosima

You asked "Dr B said: "The problem w/gringos escaping the US is that they leave because of all the awful features of American life (which they correctly perceive), and then, because they inevitably carry the American virus, they turn the Mexican town they live in into the US (if there are enuf of them to do this, as in SMA)! What was the pt of leaving, again?""

To answer your question it is because they do not know anything else that is beyond their box. They would have to think out of their box.

I believe it was asked why wouldn't other cultures pass anti-douchebaggery laws. I am not an expert like Dr. B. The man is a genius when it comes to this stuff. I bet it has to do with their culture as well. I don't know much about other cultures to provide a satisfactory answer.

Dr. B

It was Goethe who said it, not me (psycho-logisch). As for your parents: dig deeper. Try psycho-analysis. I looked up Goethe to obtain a brief overview of who he was. I don't know how accurate wikipedia especially the quote "Goethe was also a cultural force, who argued that the organic nature of the land moulded the people and their customs—an argument that has recurred ever since. He argued that laws could not be created by pure rationalism, since geography and history shaped habits and patterns. This stood in sharp contrast to the prevailing Enlightenment view that reason was sufficient to create well-ordered societies and good laws" which is from this web site, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johann_Wolfgang_von_Goethe. I would have to double check with more primary sources but if this quote is accurate and the page is accurate what you're trying to tell me is that I can't go with the "prevailing enlightenment view that reason was sufficient to create well-ordered societies and good laws."

What he is saying is the physical external environment helped mold and shape the culture. A culture that lives closer to the equator will have a culture that is different than culture that lives more towards the artic regions.

Those cultures who had less resources and lived within smaller geographical locations would probably have a more communitarian mindset. Those who lived in more extreme climate conditions were forced to pull together more. Let's look at Japan. It is a smaller geographical area and I believe it is considered an island. There culture is more community minded. This is because they had to function this way since their resources and geographical area was more confined and limited. When the US was first founded the geography was huge with more varying climates. This also led to our development as a nation. This is what led to the assumptions you came up with in conspiracy vs. Conspiracy that you wrote Dr. B. Am I on the right track at least?

Concerning my parents, you state and I will quote "Dig Deeper." Will you please help me to do this if you do not mind? I tried to meditate on this but I don't understand. Can you please clarify further if you have the willingness and time to do so?

2:35 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

cube-

I jus' don' have the time, sorry. Keep in mind this is not a therapy blog. In terms of yr parents and psychoanalysis, why not look for a psychoanalyst? That cd be an interesting journey 4u.

Ariel-

I have a feeling that slutline.com, like cucarachas, will outlast everything.

Banana-

This was a satire, rt?

Anyway, thank u all for yr interesting contributions; this sure has been a lively discussion, for some reason. But I hafta go whip up a batch of chopped liver now, so Later, amigos...mb

3:04 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Dr. Berman, pinkpearl, Wafers--

Re: Monasticism and Sluts

If the archdruid, John Michael Greer, is correct about monastic communities, I’m afraid I have some very bad news for healthy red-blooded Wafers planning New Monastic communities. He claims that the survival rate of intentional communities which do not require celibacy is dismal indeed. This subject is dealt with at length in his “Archdruid Report” of October 23, 2013 titled “Reinventing Square Wheels.” Check it out at:

http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2013/10/reinventing-square-wheels.html

I leave it to you to judge his arguments, but I find it very discouraging, and for once I really hope he’s wrong.

Whenever people set out to do the same dumb thing again while hoping for different results they tell themselves, “This time it’s different.” The only hope I can think of that it may actually be different this time is that all of the successful monastic communities that needed celibacy to survive existed before the availability of reliable birth control.

So as wafers embarking on the NMI path prepare their lists of the features of modern civilization that are worth saving for future generations, I hope they give high priority to modern birth control methods – and not just as abstract ideas.

David Rosen

4:21 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

DR-

I'm sure he's wrong. Just look at the Shakers, for example: celibacy kills. A civ w/o sluts isn't even worth discussing, imo.

mb

5:35 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Wafers! I love it when I get inadvertent confirmation of my arguments. Here's the latest: a buffoon signs in as Anonymous w/a dumb message about how the Americans defeated the Nazis (actually, it was the Red Army that did most of the heavy lifting there, but let's let that go for now), so my post is all wrong, etc. I write back (see above), as I always do in these cases, that I don't post Anons and wd he pls pick a handle and re-send his message. Does the horse's ass do this? Oh no; instead, I get a big
Fuck You, you have no balls, you aren't willing to say this to my face (how I'm supposed to do that, I have no idea), etc.--in short, he exemplifies the very kind of trashy American behavior that I describe in my post. His behavior confirms the argument. And the dumb cluck doesn't even see this! Ya call them garbage, and then in response they *behave* like garbage. Americans: ya gotta love 'em! (I'm guessing there are more trolls and cretins in the woodwork, just waiting to come out. As Gore Vidal famously said, referring to his fellow countrymen, "Stupidity excites me".)

O&D-

mb

7:53 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

MB,

"Data are that American police have killed 5000 civilians on the st. since 2001.”

And it's no wonder, given how militarized law enforcement has become. They are encouraged government to look at themselves as soldiers fighting wars, whether against drugs or on terrorism, and have many of the weapons of actual soldiers.

I disagree with Zosima that this is statistically insignificant, as it's just one innocent killed by police a day. People are not just statistics, and even one death of an innocent person caused by police brutality is a moral disaster which should not occur.

To see how warped this all is we should look at the situation in Iceland. They just had their first death ever caused by police in early December, when Icelandic police encountered an armed suspect. The police officers there, who were totally justified in shooting the suspect, actually apologized to the suspect's family. Given Americans' egotism and profound lack of empathy, it's impossible to ever imagine such a thing happening in the US.

8:19 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

MB,

A t-shirt idea; "I love America because dumb" with a collage of the faces of our best. Sarah could be the center piece.

9:36 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Then there's this:

http://money.cnn.com/2013/12/15/pf/college/college-president-pay/index.html?hpt=hp_t2

mb

12:23 AM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

MB,

My late friend, Ron Shock, once played to a crowd in Mississippi that was so dense that he just up and told them that they were stupid.

Pretty sure it was something like, "Y'all *are* stupid."

From somewhere in the crowd came the analysis-reinforcing retort:
"That's right, buddy, we're stupid. Hell, we put the "R" in 'stupid'."

Memory and a note pad often trump imagination.

2:41 AM  
Blogger Zosima said...

Edward said: 5,000 souls have been killed. This amounts to about 417 souls per year. I tell you (as a WAFER), that 20 deaths per year at the hands of cops are still too many dead people, especially given that WAFERS would prefer a rational society where reading and thinking rule the day

Maybe I’ve been reading this blog incorrectly, but I thought we agreed that rationality is not possible for them, they are the dregs of humanity, they love only money, war, and violence, so outside of a handful of WAFERS, 99% of those 5000 don’t fit your description; they have no souls. Also, someone described these people as “innocent”, (these so called “civilians” are heavily armed with over 300 million guns and kill 16000 of their fellow civilians every year) but as we know, they are completely guilty, completely responsible for their leaders and their cops. They are us and we are them, right? I always assumed that the continuous posting of murders here, whether done by cops or “civilian” Americans, was meant to cheer us up. I was merely pointing out that the cops aren’t wiping out the dregs of humanity at anywhere near the rate we need to see in order to rid the planet of this scourge, and therefore, we shouldn’t get our hopes up when we see these numbers. Plus, I guess I’m a bit of a stat freak, so if someone throws a raw number at me I immediately look to check the rate, percentage, median, etc. to get the overall context.

Morris Berman said...Then there's this: http://money.cnn.com/2013/12/15/pf/college/college-president-pay/index.html?hpt=hp_t2

A record 42 private college presidents saw their earnings top $1 million in 2011

Well, some Americans certainly haven’t failed. And for succeeding, as they have, in educating everyone in this society into agreeing that the majority of wealth should continue to flow into the the hands of the 1%, frankly, I’d say they’ve been under-compensated. BTW, were you able to convince any of the students at Wash & Lee to reject Wall St and instead follow your example and go live in a small Mexican village after they graduate?

3:09 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Zos-

I'm sure that in that effort, I failed miserably. As for the 5000 killed: they may well have been douche bags, for all I know, but I'm not sure it's OK for cops to blow them outta the water just for looking funny or whatever. It does make for an 'interesting' kind of society, tho, I'll grant u that.

mb

5:59 AM  
Anonymous ellen said...

Dovidel,

Very interesting article and comments from the Archdruid, but one thing that the Roman Catholic monastic tradition has taught us is that celibacy is observed more in the breach than in the practice. There was even a female Pope, Joan, unfrocked when she suddenly gave birth in the middle ages. (This has given rise to the venerable tradition of subsequent popes having their dangly bits inspected before being allowed to take office, by sitting in a special chair with a hole in the seat)

The reason that the latest Benedict resigned is reputed to be that news of his cohabiting with a longtime male partner was about to become public, swiftly averted by his abdication and the pardoning of the whistleblowing Vatican butler. (servants know all the secrets)
The same applies to Buddhist celibates who, in practice, rarely are actually celibate past the initially enthusiastic novice stage.

I think that the attempts to control our natural sluttiness (as well as other wayward traits)is what leads to authoritarianism and the draconian rule-making and subsequent stifling bureaucracies that develop.

A degree of pragmatism, inclusivism, flexibility of thought and willingness to change and adapt is essential in solving the human problems that will inevitably crop up in any communal endeavour.

6:05 AM  
Anonymous Golf Pro said...

Isn't there a story (poss. apocryphal) that Gandhi used to test his celibacy by going to bed with two beautiful ladies every night?

6:27 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

For me, I did not understand a word of what the Archdruid was putting forth. He seems to be daft, and, wordy.

For instance, he stated, "There’s a good reason why the English word “lord” comes from an Anglo-Saxon term meaning “giver of loaves,” and it’s the same reason why generosity is always one of the most praised virtues in feudal and protofeudal societies: from Saxon England to Vedic India to the First Nations of the Pacific Northwest coast, giving lavish gifts to all and sundry is the most important economic activity of the aristocrat."

U have got to be kidding me. Generosity certainly doesn't come from Aristocrats. Screw them! This is Orwellian at its finest. Anglo-Saxons, always, want to know, like Columbus, when he first showed up is: "Where's the gold! But first, bring me many, many sluts, or boys!"

Plus, what have the Pacific Northwest Indians got to do with Saxons? Geese!

8:10 AM  
Blogger Alexey L said...

Dear Wafers,

Thank you Morris for yet another insightful post.

I've been thinking a lot about the subject of "having kids" recently and I want to ask for some Wafer advice. I find myself in a situation, where even though all rational evidence points towards NOT having children, I will very probably still have some. This is because this decision for me is largely irrational - not in a pejorative way but more irrational as in based on love. I do not intend to live in a voluntary-simplicity-type community where I teach my kids to garden and live sustainably, but to stay in the heart of our collapsing Empire - it is again irrational, but it is how it is for me.

Do you know any Wafer in a similar life-situation who managed to raise kids successfully and wrote about his experience? Is it even possible to raise healthy kids in this world?

Many thanks.

Alexey

8:14 AM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Dr. B

You said "I jus' don' have the time, sorry. Keep in mind this is not a therapy blog. In terms of yr parents and psychoanalysis, why not look for a psychoanalyst? That cd be an interesting journey 4u."

No problem. In the meantime, I will enjoy some chopped liver like you. If I am ever in Mexico or you're ever in Atlanta we'll go out to a deli. My treat.

You said that anon said "Fuck You, you have no balls..." This is definitely not new to me. I guess it is Americans at their best. To look at the character of a people all one has to do is examine what people would do when no one is looking. If you look at different blogs, forums and other areas on the net you will see the masks come off. Personally, I have received way worse. What you received was the nicer version. Let's just say what an acquaintance and I were told to do would be rated NC-17.

Ellen

You said "A degree of pragmatism, inclusivism, flexibility of thought and willingness to change and adapt is essential in solving the human problems that will inevitably crop up in any communal endeavour."

I definitely agree. All of these things are promoted in the USA but my experience they're not actually done. One can't have to much pragmatism though. To much pragmatism leads to inflexibility to changing the status quo. I will try to explain. A lot of people accept things as they are and see life as unfair. From my experience, they do not know how anything can be changed. What they don't perceive is that their very beliefs help to shape the reality of things in our social veneer. Certain aspects of life are unfair because people accept it as so. This unfairness and the inability to do anything about it causes some of the unfairness. Life will never be truthfully fair but some of the unfairness could be reduced. They have put themselves into a form of a circular reasoning. I have tried explaining this to various people and I received the same results as Dr. B did with anon.

Those who rationalize Enhanced Interrogation Techniques claim pragmatism as well. To me, one has to be both pragmatic and one has to have ideals as well. Without ideals how can an individual or a society have virtue or morality? One of the things I perceive in the USA is people are becoming more pragmatic and inflexible in certain areas and more idealistic and inflexible in others when they should go a bit more to the other side.

8:24 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

I read George Saunders's great essay, "The Braindead Megaphone," a couple weeks ago. Apropos of the comments about reporting non-news as news with a straight face, I saw this line today:

"Twitter said Beyonce's album release generated over 1.2 million tweets in 12 hours, with a tweets-per-minute spike of 5,300. The tweets-per-minute count around the album surpassed the record set when the Syfy TV movie 'Sharknado' aired in July, Twitter added."

Now THAT is news! 'Sharknado' dethroned!

8:43 AM  
Blogger Sir Tagio said...

Dovidel,

What ellen said. An institution that has "celibacy" as an operating condition will self-select for homosexuality, concentrating it to a greater degree than found in the population considered as a whole. However, to the extent that heterosexuals are involved and, nowadays, homosexuals have marriage rights, the point of having "celibacy" as an operating condition is not so much to preclude sexual activity as it is to treat a spouse and family life as an externality that the institution does not have to deal with, pay for, or reckon in its own existence. This makes the institution's own survival more stable, less costly, more controllable and resilient to societal shocks.

In this regard, the monastery is no different than the modern corporation. Both secure their own survival and longevity by treating "social reproduction," i.e., the act and necessity of society replicating itself, as someone else's cost and Someone Else's Problem. They just float along on the top of the society they inhabit, taking social reproduction as a given, and find ways to extract sustenance and "profit" from their perch in the social ecosystem. Viewed as an institution, they appear to be "sustainable" because they have greater-than-human longevity.

IMO it is a mistake to focus on the "sustainability" of a particular social form or institution and ignore the surrounding social ecosystem. It is better to think about people. The Archdruid's analysis would have been better and more complete IMO if he followed through along ellen's line of thought. As MB pointed out, people who in full religious fervor actually do adhere to celibacy "for real" take themselves right out of existence, leaving only a bunch of nice furniture behind and "inspiration" for future stylists who want to sell "simplicity" to dolts upon whom the irony of being a buyer and consumer of simplicity is lost.

The truth is that the Evil Elitz and rest of the surrounding society will only permit the monastery or other "other-worldly" institution to serve as a "refuge" and to retain its "separatist" privileges and structure so long as it fits within their overall worldview and scheme. Cantor's history of the middle ages is clear that monasteries survived and thrived for hundreds of years because they had a monopoly on education and administrative skills, which the Evil Elitz needed, and also served as a separate track for societal advancement and/or security for their surplus sons and daughters. Beginning in poverty as self-sustaining communities, in a relatively short time they ended up receiving large endowments of land and wealth from the Evil Elitz.

In short, the idea of a monastery or other commune that is radically at variance from the surrounding accepted modes of thought and social structure but which is "sustainable," is fantasy-land, historically speaking, appealing as it may be to Wafers and others disaffected with this society.

Orlov has done great work exploring alternative "communities that abide," and the Roma are an exception to the above, but that may not be a model many are prepared to adopt.

I suspect that a more fruitful approach than re-launching the monastery is to begin leaving large urban areas and moving back into towns, maybe small cities, and begin the work of getting your community on board with re-localizing food production and other facets of life, and building local resilience through local alternative currencies. Along these lines, see the following:

http://www.theautomaticearth.com/automatic-earth-launches-facing-future/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=to9wKF9sWVg

10:26 AM  
Anonymous DiogenesTheElder said...

Greg JS - You may be interested in Christopher Alexander and "A Pattern Language" regarding human-scale architecture.

I am imagining that many of you have seen this:

http://newsfeed.time.com/2013/12/12/the-affluenza-defense-judge-rules-rich-kids-rich-kid-ness-makes-him-not-liable-for-deadly-drunk-driving-accident/

In short, the story of a 16 y/o who killed several others while drunk driving. The judge bought the defense's story that the child had "affluenza" and was never taught responsibility.

As my mother used to say, "it's all over but the shoutin'"

DTE

10:28 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

DTE-

That's not merely the collapse of jurisprudence, it's the collapse of reason itself. And the guy's a judge. And people keep telling me I'm wrong, that America has a future.

mb

10:45 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Alexey,

As a WAFer and parent of a young child, I will tell you that it can be done. As a parent you have a great influence on your child's values and outlook. I don't let my daughter watch television (not that she wants to, as she's under 1), and when she's older I will expose her to philosophy, journalism and other intellectual endeavors. Thus, despite the corrosive influence that American culture has on everyone living within its borders, it is still possible to raise a child here who has higher standards.

10:59 AM  
Anonymous Banana Head said...

MB and everyone else,

No, that was not satire. I really did receive an email promising effective penis enlargement pills, courtesy of Michelle Obama, as a result of her desire to "show the world her warmer side". I can't figure out if this was meant to imply that I'd get to have sex with Michelle Obama, or that Michelle Obama is behind the marketing of the pills. I don't think it really matters. Yes, America is this stupid.

As far as the rich kid getting away with multiple counts of manslaughter on account of being rich, I think we're eventually going to see formal laws codified that protect the super-rich. Something like a law that gives immunity to various offenses if you are taxed at a certain rate, justified by the fact that "these people contribute more to the national treasury than anyone else", despite the fact that most of them hide their money offshore to avoid paying taxes.

11:11 AM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...

Celibacy or other requirments at odds with human nature will not work in the long term.

It reminds me about the priest said to the rabbi : "How come you never eat ham?" The rabbi said, "It's against my religion. How come you never go out with a girl?" And the priest said, "it's against my religion." And the rabbi said, "You ought to try it. It's a lot better than ham."

There have always been the development of utopian communities in times of social change or when circumstances allowed the affilaition of such crazies or ernest people seeking an escape. But lately it appears that the rise of utopian communities (Rappites, Oneida, Early Mormons) is low must the the totalist control of government in the U.S. and the narrow range of tolerance.

Alas, we know that americans are stupid, violent and intolerant. What of it? Yelling at them or reasoning will not work? The question is why do so many still rail against idiots? Its like calling back the tides folks. Why bother? Is that the best use of our energy? Let us be amused by the idiots and seek to not be injured by their idiocy. Lets make money selling them useless dreck and if they are comely lasses' inviegle them for our lurid desires....

11:16 AM  
Blogger Himanshu Tiwari said...

Dr. B and DTE,

About the affluenza kid: I think this is really encouraging. Someday the lumpen-proletariat may elect him to be POTUS. He should be groomed in Affluenza so that he is ready for the big job!

Himanshu

1:00 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Capo-

Yes, it's like standing on the shore and saying to the incoming ocean, "Go back!" But it has a certain poetry to it, it seems to me. Plus, it's fun: much better than billiards, for example.

Banana-

It's just not clear to me how a larger dick is 'warmer', or why Michelle wd want to be in the larger organ business. And on that note, didju hear the joke abt how Bach's wife chased him around the church until she caught him by the organ? (20 kids!)

Mike, Alexey-

Check out Gloria DeGaetano at the Pacific Coaching Institute. Tell her I sent u.

mb

1:18 PM  
Blogger pinkpearl said...

@ellen

Your comment about monks breaking the celibacy rules is so much classier than what I was going to say, which something along the lines of "yeah but those monks and nuns were always going at it, transgression is HOT".

@everyone following this celibacy v. slut conversation

You know that post-menopausal women are still capable of and often quite interested in sex, right? That'll solve some of the birth control problem.

@Sir Tagio

Orlov? Ugh. There are all kinds of problems with his "communities that abide" research, a big one being that it is really limited and superficial. If you follow his work you probably know about the kerfuffle over his ideas about where women fit into "baseline" society, and he ignores every example of a successful society that doesn't fit his notions. His work is so weak. I don't understand why anyone pays attention to him.

@shep

According to dictionary.com, lord originated from an Old English word that meant loaf-keeper, which makes a whole lot more sense. The Archdruid was all over the place in that post.

---
I get a vibe from some online collapsitarians that they actually really dig the whole feudal set-up and can't wait to get back to it. Maybe they watched Excalibur too many times. At any rate, they seem to assume that *they* won't end up in a serf-type role (the same way the nouveau-riche build themselves mini French chateaux - they just ignore the unpleasant connotations), even though the majority of them would, because that's how feudalism works. I don't often see them thinking out loud about all the possibilities for post-collapse societies, and there are many! Where is the creativity, the imagination, in this group? And how do they think they will navigate the post-collapse world *without* creativity and imagination?

But maybe they are mostly just doomer-porn aficionados, full of hot air, who wouldn't know the right way to hold an axe, never mind chopping wood with it. Not that I know how to chop wood either.

---

@Alexey

I think having kids out of love is the best reason possible, so do it. Then teach them to think independently and to be resilient – and by resilient, I mean to expect change and accept that they will have to adapt to it, and to have the cognitive and physical skills to be able to do so. Learning is, in itself, a skill, and they will need it. (I'm always amazed at how much people resist learning *anything at all*.) But don't go the full Sarah Connor ;)

2:15 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Pink-

That's a gd topic, the post-capitalist world, and certainly worth discussing. You might wanna check out the recent bk by Dan Hancox. The real problem, of course, is that it's so iffy, we cd just be spinning wheels, or bldg castles in the air. It might be better, as historians trying to see into the future, to talk abt what is *likely* to happen, rather than abt the wonderful worlds we'd like to construct. That, after all, requires a lot of imagination as well.

mb

2:43 PM  
Anonymous Golf Pro said...

I see the post-Capitalist world as being the kind of amiable rut that India and China had settled into until they were rudely interrupted by Westerners.

i.e. lots of physically small people working in agriculture on poor but sufficient diets based on a staple crop. Everybody fairly happy and non-confrontational because they don't know anything better, but also everyone is a bit underfed, and there are occasional famines and outbreaks of disease.

It'll be a generally calm, settled but boring sort of a world, a global Punjab.

I imagine this kind of outcome for humanity horrifies most progress-orientated Westerners, which is why they prefer visions of techno-feudalism ruled by an evil elite. At least in that case there would be a)excitement and b)gadgets.

4:04 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Golf-

We need to think of what an exciting, homeostatic (no-growth) culture might look like. There are actually elements of that in traditional Japan. Americans are so jaded that unless something new is occurring, nothing is exciting. This cd actually be a demented world view. 10,000 Tweets is not exciting; it's dull as shit.

mb

5:57 PM  
Anonymous Frankista said...

For WAFER record:

Former government contractor Edward Snowden praised a federal judge's ruling against the National Security Agency's phone surveillance programs on Monday, applauding the judge for bringing the issue "to the light of day."

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon ruled Monday that the agency's phone surveillance program was likely in violation of the Fourth Amendment, which protects individuals against "unreasonable" searches and seizures.

In a statement distributed by journalist Glenn Greenwald and published in the New York Times, Snowden predicted Leon's ruling would be "the first of many" against the controversial surveillance practices.

“I acted on my belief that the N.S.A.'s mass surveillance programs would not withstand a constitutional challenge, and that the American public deserved a chance to see these issues determined by open courts,” Snowden said. “Today, a secret program authorized by a secret court was, when exposed to the light of day, found to violate Americans’ rights. It is the first of many.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/16/edward-snowden-nsa-ruling_n_4455290.html

11:35 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Followers of celibacy vs. slut conversation,

Please don’t mistake me for the archdruid – I’m just the messenger. I hope he’s wrong, and Wafer NMI’s should set out to prove it.

Dr. Berman,

The archdruid actually considers the Shakers to be a partial success since they lasted so long, whereas the average life expectancy of intentional communities is about 2 years. He (not I) says that a really successful monastic organization needs to make a place for those who cannot make the full commitment, and who tolerate and support it. Hence the monks and nuns on one hand, and the laity on the other. Shakers didn’t do this.

ellen,

Your right that trying to control our natural sluttiness leads to tyranny. Also, the ‘American Hologram’ really does stifle ‘flexibility of thought and willingness to change’ – and how!

pinkperl,

One advantage of strict rules is that they create possibilities for transgression which, as we all should know, can wonderfully enhance exhilaration. But really, women should wait until they’re postmenopausal? Only 50 year-old women should be asked to the senior prom?? Three cheers for birth control!

Golf-pro,

Pass or fail, Gandhi’s celibacy test sounds like a win-win situation – he could score 50% too.

Sir Tagio,

You’re probably right about celibacy selecting for homosexuality, but gays out of the closet and reliable birth control could change that. Not everyone needs to have children anymore since today’s world is a rabbit cage bursting at the seams.

I agree that Corporations are destructive since they must take from society, externalize their costs, and care about nothing but their own profits. Religious, monastic, charitable, or socialist organizations should not operate that way, but they often have and do. Working in health care or education should be something like joining a religious order.

Capo,

Yes, most Americans are dumb. But remember, ‘when the student is ready the teacher appears.’ Ready students are few and far between in this blessed land, but there are a few.

David Rosen

12:12 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Frankista-

This is gd stuff! Meanwhile, here's something else to think abt:

I just screened Margarethe von Trotta's 2013 documentary on Hannah Arendt, wh/specifically focuses on her coverage of the Eichmann trial in 1961, and the storm that broke when she published "Eichmann in Jerusalem." Part of that storm was that she found Eichmann boring, mediocre--nothing more than a bureaucrat; hence her famous phrase, "the banality of evil." It's an interesting film, but disturbing on 2 counts. 1st, we now know that Eichmann was acting; that he hoped to get acquitted by saying he was only a cog in a large machine, following orders. Arendt claimed he was dull, not demonic; she got conned, in other words. It only came to light a few yrs ago: an interview recorded w/Eichmann in Argentina in the 50s by a Dutch journalist, in wh/Eichmann says things like it was his intention to kill as many Jews as possible, and that he wished he had killed 10 million. Demonic, in short. (I also heard from another source that he was fascinated by the Jews, learned Hebrew, and made 2 trips to Palestine; but I don't have the documentation for that.) Anyway, the tapes came into the hands of Bettina Stangneth, who published "Eichmann vor Jerusalem" in 2011, telling the full story and refuting the banality of evil argument. (English translation due out next yr.) Now there's no way that Margarethe von Trotta did not know of the existence of this bk; she probably even read it. Of course, the info in it wd have made it impossible for her to make the movie abt Arendt, so--I guess she chose to ignore it. I suppose she cd have made the same movie and then added an epilogue, but it would have undercut the film severely. Still, one cd argue that Arendt was right in general but wrong abt this particular individual, and that a great deal of evil comes about by people not thinking, and behaving like robots. I can buy that. But it turns out that Eichmann was the wrong person on whom to hang the argument, and I'm disturbed by the possibility that von Trotta deliberately ignored the Stangneth bk and went merrily on her way.

The 2nd disturbing thing lies in Arendt's argument about the role of thinking in preventing things like genocide. Towards the end of the film, at the height of the controversy, she holds a lecture at the New School to defend herself against all the charges against her. She says she was after a philosophical question, the nature of evil and how it can be prevented. In Eichmann, she saw a man who lived in cliches; he simply never thought; and if he and people like him had thought, evil could be avoided. The problem is that Arendt learned how to think from her professor/lover, Martin Heidegger, who joined the Nazi Party in 1933 and as the new rector of Heidelberg U. gave a speech glorifying Hitler. She died in '75, he in '76; at some pt, I think it was in the 60s, she traveled to Freiburg to ask him how he cd have given that speech (this scene is in the movie), and he has no answer for her. So apparently, despite the best of (her) intentions, this lecture at the New Schl has a big hole in it: not-thinking can lead to evil, but thinking is no insurance policy against it. Hmm.

Anyway, the film doesn't deal w/this issue either, so all we're left w/is "a talented woman who stood her ground." It's an absorbing movie, but--off; and a missed opportunity to have discussed some really important stuff.

Jus' my li'l ol' opinion...

mb

12:14 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

For the record, I'm all in favor of sluts. Nuts to celibacy and to institutions based on it.

Funny people should be slamming the Archdruid around here. Until 2008, I was totally unaware of any possibility of collapse, economic or civilizational; I was pretty much living in a Star Trek-is-our-future universe. Then I stumbled upon his blog, which brought to my attention many things I'd never been cognizant of before, such as the way the USA is decaying at an exponentially accelerating rate, and the fact that natural resources are being depleted with a rapidity that does not bode well for the future - and that there is no backstop, no techno-miracle to rescue humans from the consequences of our feckless choices. Same with Orlov, whom I discovered thereafter. I have to admit that some of their followers are annoying, especially Orlov's, certain of whom seem to positively yearn for an end to pesky modernist conceits like women's lib and gay rights. Doomer machismo is tiresome. Over the last year or two I've found myself diverging from the views currently being expressed by the authors of those blogs. Still, I have to credit those guys with waking me up to some fairly important things, and changing my world view in a way that I fancy maps better onto what's actually happening than what I thought before.

What really interests me now is the topic that Pinkpearl, GolfPro & Dr. B. have brought up - the possible forms for a post-capitalist society, preferably one that's more fun to be in than this "culture." I'm sick to death of the relentless techno-triumphalist Randroid propaganda that we've been getting nothing but in the USA ever since Reagan's first Presidential campaign in 1980. I realize that speculation about possible futures isn't necessarily a utopian exercise, but I might as well mention that my favorite utopian scheme ever is that depicted in Aldous Huxley's novel "Island."

Or, if we're to consider likely futures rather than the one that I'd prefer to see, what indeed are some of the developments that might conceivably come about? Do you, MB, think that we're likely to witness a global economic collapse of the sort anticipated by Nicole Foss, among others, or is it rather the case that the United States in particular will just grind down gradually into some state of ultimate ignominy, while the rest of the industrialized world manages to muddle on?

1:23 AM  
Anonymous ellen said...

Cube,
I don’t know what definition of pragmatism those people were applying but anyone who can take an act of torture and then attempt to legitimise it with the weasel words ‘Enhanced Interrogation Technique’ is not to be trusted with the language—or with anything else. Language is part of ‘the commons’ too, a shared public resource and some privatising PR flack imposing a slick new label does not change the vile deed or the meaning of the deed.
I am going with this definition though there are variations, (and I actually like the William James flavoured variation best): A practical, matter-of-fact way of approaching or assessing situations or of solving problems.

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/pragmatism

It has long been recognised that torture provides no reliable information. Tortured people say whatever the interrogator wants to hear, just to make the pain, physical and/or psychological, stop. So no pragmatism in the euphemism ‘Enhanced Interrogation,’ just a desire to inflict maximum pain on a helpless prisoner. Sadism is the proper English word for that.

Regarding idealism, having been disillusioned of all my youthful ideals I find that I pragmatically manage much better without them-- so I’ll take strong ethics and a functioning moral compass over ideals any day.

Dr B,
According to the Dutch interviewer, Eichman was thinking—he was thinking that he would have liked to have killed more Jews—he just wasn’t thinking in terms that his captors approved of, which would explain his lies at his trial.
I don’t see that Heidegger’s Nazism or his speech as the new rector of Heidelberg U necessarily taints Arendt’s later work and conclusions. She was taught a method of thinking and she was free to either accept or reject the content of Heidegger’s thought whilst retaining the method. Her own subsequent acts and behaviour would be a better indicator of her autonomy than a blanket judgement of guilt by association.

3:07 AM  
Blogger Zosima said...

Just read your comment on Eichmann/Arendt. You just have get your hands on Claudia Koontz's book, The Nazi Conscience. Chris Hedges briefly mentioned it in his review of Jonathan Haidt's dreck. I’m only half way through and I must say it is the best book I’ve read on the whole context of the Nazi experience and how it transformed Germany in just a few years. Studies showed that the level antisemitism in Germany was essentially the same as France, Britain, and other countries before the Nazis took power. Getting control of the education system played a big part, and when respected professors like Heidegger joined, their credibility helped the cause enormously. Just think if you were an eight year old child in 1933, by 1943 after 10 years of propaganda telling you what to think of Jews you would be well prepared to be a concentration camp guard. The book has completely convinced me that the power of propaganda can get people to do anything.

http://www.amazon.com/Nazi-Conscience-Claudia-Koonz/dp/0674011724/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1385858514&sr=1-1

3:10 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ellen-

No, I think yr quite wrong, abt Eichmann, Arendt, and me. Eichmann as he presented himself was not thinking in any sense of the term; his defense was a string of obedient cliches (his machinations of self-presentation involved thinking, of course, but that's a whole different dimension, a meta-level). This comes across in the tapes of the trial, and also in what Arendt says of him in the bk and in von Trotta's film; she makes that case very well. It's hardly a question of what his captors approved of. 2nd, I'm not making any blanket judgment of her via guilt by association; that's a misreading of what I said, and she did confront him about the 1933 rector's speech. What she wanted to know was, "What went wrong with *your* thinking, which is not mine?" No guilt by assn, then, altho I do think it can be argued that she did learn from him a mode of thinking divorced from feeling. This is, I believe, another flaw in her argument, since--as Hans Jonas and Gerschom Scholem both pointed out to her--she saw the trial as a philosophical problem and never connected any of it to her heart, or guts. Fact is, a lot of evil in the world comes abt precisely because of that disconnection, as the case of Heidegger shows (as someone once said to me, "Dasein never had an orgasm"). Arendt escaped Germany for Gurs, France, temporarily, waiting for a visa to the US to come thru. Eichmann was in charge of deportations from Gurs to Auschwitz. Had the visa not come thru in time, Arendt would have been gassed. To von Trotta's credit, she does have Jonas berate her in the film for never coming to terms with this--and she is not able to answer him. There is also a brief ref to her daughter, a psychoanalyst, saying that if her mother doesn't connect w/her emotions, they will eventually overwhelm her. I guess she kept that at bay by chain smoking.

Zos-

Also relevant is a bk by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, "Hitler's Willing Executioners." Actually, that bk cd be used to buttress the Arendt argument, in a way.

mb

6:19 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

This is kinda interesting:

http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/17/living/parents-student-suspended-sexual-harassment-hugging-teacher/index.html?hpt=hp_t2

See, if the teacher had been armed, she cd have just shot the kid, making suspension from schl unnecessary. As for our ongoing slut discussion, and what the future might bring, I shd say that I am no more interested in a future w/o sluts than I am in one w/o corned beef.

Kev-

As for global collapse, we did have that, more or less, in 2008, and I'm quite sure an even bigger one is in the pipeline. But as in case of Roman Empire, these are 'nodes' that punctuate the daily routine of crisis management, wh/the US will do until it can't do it anymore, and things will become increasingly frayed and fragmented. The problem here, as opposed to Europe, is that post-cap expts are pretty limited (see Joel Magnuson's bk), whereas Europe has vigorous Green parties and lots of alternative expts going on. What the US knows how to do is not no-growth, eco-sustainability etc., but rather repression and coercion. We talked earlier abt 5000 civilians killed by cops since 2001; the rate of that, along w/the militarization of the country, will increase dramatically during the next 20 yrs; the police state will become much more visible. As America feels increasingly threatened, it will become increasingly dangerous, both w/in and w/o the country. It may be ironic, that collapse, coupled w/NMI behavior, may be the only thing that can save us.

mb

6:40 AM  
Anonymous Jerome Langguth said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

I saw the von Trotta Arendt film recently as well, and I think that you are right that it is missing the nuances that would have made it a really great film. Not just that Arendt was actually wrong about Eichmann (she was, I think), but also that her own thinking on the connection between thoughtlessness and evil deepened in her later writings, and especially in The Life of the Mind. It is in that book, I think, that she tries to answer the question about Heidegger and the Nazis for herself. Part of the answer is that "thinking does not endow us directly with the power to act" (Heidegger). For that, judgment of particulars and "conscience" are required. So thoughtlessness does ineluctably lead to evil-- but thoughtfulness does not guarantee the good unless it is combined with judgment and a good will.

8:05 AM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...

The term "post capitalist" is being used as if that is some sort of eventuality and that "capitalism" is still operative. The U.S. has not been a capitalist country in a true sense since 1913 or so. The economy has consisted of regualted (i.e. officially protected) cartels and oligopolistic crony capitalism which has reached its apogee in recent years. The concentration of firms in banking, communication and automobiles has been amazing. The number of even beef slaughter faciliites has declined by 90% in the last 40 years. Obamacare? Bank Bailouts? Post capitalism was strangely a term coined by Peter Drucker and then some of the French structuralists. The U.S. has been on the road of post capitalism for quite some time. What ails the usa and what people are railing against is not capitalism but rather a feudal type order which arises under crony capitalism with some sort of marxian popular narrative. The go to book is Schumpeter Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy and of course Drucker's Post Capitalist Society. For those who like structuralists, contemporary feminist scholars and philosophers, Schumpeter and Drucker will upset you by virtue of coherency, clear writing and an empirical bent:)

8:27 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jer-

Yeah, she was still struggling w/the problem of evil when she died. And probably, Life of the Mind was an improvement over Eichmann in Jerusalem (which I still think cd be correct, just not in the case of Eichmann). But I have this feeling that she was never able to solve the problem of evil because, like Heidegger, she never connected thinking with something more embodied, more visceral. I have always admired MH because he was onto what most Western thought (certainly since Descartes) has missed, namely ontological knowing as opposed to just intellectual knowing. Yet his knowledge of the ontological was, ironically, intellectual. He talked about the 'ground of Being' but was not himself grounded; so when Hitler came to power, w/all that enormous energy that swept the country, MH also got swept away, like a leaf in the wind. I doubt he ever understood this; which is why, when Arendt asked him how he cd have possibly given that rector's speech of 1933, he had no answer. He was a great thinker, but not much of a feeler; and this can be a recipe for falling into the pit (just as feeling w/o thinking can, of course). One can be brilliant but blind; and in some ways, this was Arendt's problem as well, altho her contribution to political science was enormous. This is what Jonas and Scholem tried to tell her: Eichmann nearly murdered you, you personally, and instead of taking that info in, you made his trial into an abstract philosophical problem.

mb

8:27 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

for 12-17-2013 Tuesday

infanttyrone,

I think you will love this as much as the Sp. Rev. Doc. But this time, it all ends better than it was.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FNIQLE869VA

One question I have is: why haven’t I heard about this woman? A blindingly brilliant, brilliant person! This documentary is about one of the most wonderful human beings and I wish it would happen that every person would view it.

It is ALL common sense! A Garden of Eden (homeostatic - no growth culture) had been destroyed in Maathai’s village and she willed it back into being. This is Anarchism at its peak power.

Culture is the answer and she recognized that Colonial Culture is worthless and ignorant to the extreme and fiqured out a masterful way to resurrect the old cultural values of the Kenyans. It is all about L-E-G-A-C-Y. Something we morons do not have. It has been destroyed by capitalism all over the planet.

8:42 AM  
Anonymous Zizama14 said...

Dr B,

RE:Margarethe von Trotta's 2013 documentary on Hannah Arendt.

I saw a trailer on the documentary in which Hannah Arendt says this:
"Trying to understand is not the same as forgiveness." I think she was right for trying to understand what caused people to do evil.

Further, she was Jewish:
Arendt was born into a secular family of German Jews in Linden (present-day Hanover), the daughter of Martha (née Cohn) and Paul Arendt.

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

Unrelated, but similar story:

Patricia Adler, CU-Boulder Professor, Allegedly Forced Out Over Prostitution Lecture [UPDATE]

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/16/patricia-adler-deviance_n_4454652.html

1) white men would not get into trouble where these women got into trouble

3) freedom of thought means freedom of thought, and to understand the thinking process of prostitutes or Nazis, one must spend some time studying these things.

8:58 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Some good news:

The American Studies Association backs a boycott of Israeli institutions.

http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/12/17/american-studies-association-backs-boycott-israeli-universities

Good article from Bill Moyers:

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/World/WOR-01-131213.html

9:27 AM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Ellen

I did not know that in practical terms torture does not work anyway. I don't agree with what they say because it is morally wrong. I did not know it had fallacious premises as well. Let's look at this conceptually.

This is my interpretation of what those like Dick Cheney say. Their argument is even though it is logically fallacious and has been proven to be so is based upon pragmatism. Let's pretend that the logic was sound. It would still be immoral either way. This is where I have issues with pragmatism and when others tell me to "get into the real world."

You defined pragmatism as "A practical, matter-of-fact way of approaching or assessing situations or of solving problems." Just because the world works like x,y,z does not mean the world is morally right. Can one be so practical that one gives up his ideals entirely? How much of one's ideals does one have to give up before one loses his very soul?

Americans would say that hustling in an opportunistic environment is a part of the real world. This is one of the facts in their mind. In their mind, they can't deviate from it and they can't do anything about it. In their mind, they're approaching situations in a matter-of-fact way. You will hear it in their discourse all of the time.

By their very acceptance of this "real world" doesn't their acceptance give this "real world" form? Yes, there are cases that practicality and pragmatism is good and noble and one does have to re-examine ideals but one has to look at his ideals as well? Can pragmatism be a form of an ideal and value in itself? When does pragmatism become not a virtue but ignoble and a vice? Can pragmatism ever go to far? This is one of the things I see with Americans today by their discourse.

When do we start doing what is morally right instead of doing what is practical and expedient? This is why Socrates chose to drink hemlock instead of escaping which was suggested to him. He believed was doing good for the youth. He believed in his ideals. People were threatened by this. Practicality and pragmatism was suggested to him. He believed in honesty, truth and virtue. This is why he chose to override his survival instincts by drinking the hemlock.

If a nation must murder 500,000 people to save it's people from a disease would this cure be worth it. The USA actually would do this. I would not put it past them and the people would support it.

The ideals of morality and virtue would be sacrificed to pragmatism. When does the preservation of the nation come at to great of a cost to morality and virtue. Does pragmatism ever become a vice? When does this slippery slope end?

If one can't be virtuous, one can't be moral and one can't the truth behind things then how would living be virtuous? What is life without examining it to determine what truth and virtue is? Is Socrates right? Is the unexamined life worth living? This is why we have to examine and revise our ideals from time to time including pragmatism.

9:54 AM  
Anonymous Edward said...

We are in the digital age in which some people have serious problems thinking up original thoughts.

This fellow named Shia LaBeouf was accused of plagiarism.

He (Shia LaBeouf) apologized like this: "Copying isn't particularly creative work. Being inspired by someone else's idea to produce something new and different IS creative work."

But then he seemed to have plagiarized his apology by copying Yahoo. Here is a quote from Yahoo:

"Merely copying isn't particularly creative work, though it's useful as training and practice. Being inspired by someone else's idea to produce something new and different IS creative work, and it may even revolutionalize [sic] the "stolen" concept."

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/17/shia-labeouf-plagiarism-short-film_n_4458796.html

10:11 AM  
Anonymous Manfrdo said...

But in replying to the rude motorist as you did and wishing you had added "douchbag" you are engaging on the level of which you so despise.

I can understand your anger at this behavior but to retaliate with anger does no one any good - not the society or your own peace.
The patience you admire in the Mexicans is what you needed to exercise in this incident.
PS: I love your books.
Manfredo

10:18 AM  
Anonymous Golf Pro said...

I think Heidegger would have benefited enormously from the ontological experience of meeting Kim Kardashian, and copping a feel of the Dasein of her big butt.

Probably would have been good for Kim too.

11:07 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Man-

You might be rt in some sort of strange, strictly logical world, but not emotionally. My experience is that if I don't fight back, stand up for myself, I feel like shit. So I'm glad I retaliated, and wish I had had time to add "Douche bag." Mexican patience wd not have helped in this case; and BTW, the Mexicans don't take insults lying down--of that, u can b sure. In that sense, I certainly wish I had been more Mexican.

Ziz-

I'm not slighting her contribution; I just see some serious problems w/her approach, and w/that of the film. In addn, I very much doubt being female was a factor in the ire she raised; whenever Max Blumenthal or whoever writes an unfavorable bk on Israel, for example, it generates a huge uproar among American Jews. Finally, I don't see the Adler incident as similar at all.

Capo-

Technically, yes, but 'post-capitalist' is informally used to mean, After the present socioeconomic formation that developed in Europe around A.D. 1500. It works for most people as a convenient shorthand, I think.

mb

11:13 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Golf-

I suspect the only thing Kim wd get out of that encounter is that she wd then go around saying, "Duh! Sein!"

Ziz-

Just a ps here: Raul Hilberg published his classic work on the Holocaust the same yr as "Eichmann in Jerusalem," and it also generated a storm of controversy for discussing Jewish collaboration w/the Nazis. Not quite as heavy as the controversy Arendt generated, but this was not because he was a man, but because he wasn't reporting on the Eichmann trial, wrtg in the New Yorker, and arguing for the 'banality of evil'. Von Trotta, to her credit, didn't attempt to make the Arendt story into a feminist one, wh/wd have ruined the film and violated history to boot.

Meanwhile, it turns out (as has been pted out by a # of historians) that Arendt plagiarized heavily from Hilberg's work. Here's the Wiki commentary:

"The Destruction of the European Jews [by Hilberg] provided, in Hannah Arendt's words, 'the first clear description of (the) incredibly complicated machinery of destruction' set up under Nazism. For Hilberg there was deep irony in the judgment since Arendt, asked to give an opinion of his manuscript in 1959, had advised against publication, arguing that it dealt with things one no longer spoke about. Her judgement influenced the rejection slip he received from Princeton University Press following its submission, thus effectively denying him the prestigious auspices of a mainstream academic publishing house."

And: "Hilberg counted up to 80 passages in Arendt's book taken verbatim or indirectly from his own work."

Not exactly her finest hour.

mb

11:58 AM  
Blogger pinkpearl said...

@MB

I don't see the harm in really letting our imaginations rip. We won't accurately guess everything that is likely to happen, there will be surprises, so our imaginations must be in top condition.

That said, imagining a future of fabulous new technologies and unlimited natural resources probably isn't a great use of one's time.

Even if we limit ourselves to looking at the past for ideas of what future societies could be like, we have a LOT to consider, the whole of human existence, really. All kinds of societies with all kinds of belief systems, social organizations, ways of getting stuff done, etc. Surely out of all of that the collapsitarians can come up with better ideas than some version of feudalism. I think it's just that many collapsitarians are attracted to feudalism for their own reasons, and aren't interested in alternatives.

Re: the Hannah Arendt film, rats, I was looking forward to it. But re: the new info on Eichmann from Stangneth's book, it's possible that von Trotta didn't know about it, just based on the timing. The Arendt film was released in 2012, which means it was likely mostly made during 2010-2011, with the script written well before that, maybe years before. So if Stangneth's book came out in Apr 2011, it might have been too late to change the film without making a mess of it. Also, Arendt didn't have that info at the time of the events in the film. The Heidegger stuff definitely should have been explored more, even if only to consider how Arendt couldn't process it either.

@David Rosen

Re: post-menopausal women, you mis-read my post. I said it would solve "some of" the birth control problem. I'm not advocating celibacy for all women under 50. *I'm* not yet 50. Anyway, many societies had a handle on birth control long before synthetic hormones and latex, so I'll think we'll be fine.

@Zosima

My grandparents had German neighbours who grew up under Hitler and to their dying days spoke favourably of him. This is how they thought about it: the war and genocide were bad, but can be removed from the assessment, because what really mattered to them was that before Hitler they starved, and under Hitler they had enough to eat (even though one winter during the war they had nothing to eat but turnips [ugh]). That is some crazy compartmentalization, but then going hungry for years probably messes with your head. Not that it's a total explanation (not all Germans were starving, for one thing), but it was interesting to observe that thought process directly.

@everyone

Re: imagining post-collapse/capitalism/empire/whatever societies, I think the Transition Towns movement is on the right track. Their deal is mainly about post-fossil fuels, but the focus on local and co-operative strategies is, I think, bang-on. And they've got the right attitude: change is coming, how can we adapt and create something really great in the process? It's much more appealing than the usual collapsitarian "it's going to be really awful and most of you will have to submit to authority if you want to survive".

12:02 PM  
Blogger Himanshu Tiwari said...

Dr. B,

I would like to know briefly What your take is on the book "America the beautiful" by Ben Carson?

Thank you,
Himanshu

12:05 PM  
Anonymous ToddBC said...

Mr. Berman

I've been reading checking out your blog for the past two years, but this is my first comment. I live in the Metroplex in Texas.

This post reminded me of something I remember reading many years ago in a paper or magazine. A gentlemen hiked from Canada to Patagonia sometime in the 1980s or early 90s. He was asked about the friendliness of the cultures and countries he encountered along the way. He responded that only in two countries were people uneasy about the stranger at their door: Guatemala and the United States. That has always stuck with me.

As for driving, I too have a litany of expletives spoken to other drivers in the course of my commute. But spoken to myself inside my car. The lack of tactical and strategic thought given to the act of driving by drivers, much less courtesy, seems heightened lately. I am far from perfect but at least I'm trying to drive well.

Then I remember that 1 in 8 American adults may be functionally illiterate. That will vary by state, region, and city, but you can assume that close to 10% of your fellow drivers cannot even read the road signs. Throw in the cellphones, the pharmaceuticals, the alcohol, and the aforementioned pain and anger, I think what the f*ck are we doing out here?

Lastly, I work in a city that boasts about the fact that it is the largest city in the U.S. without public transportation. A big part of that is the taxes required to be part of the regional system but another significant part, I suspect, would be the influx of "those people" riding the buses into and around town. I laugh since, statistically, the safest place on an urban roadway is on a transit bus.

Always a stimulating read from you. All the best, sir.

12:08 PM  
Anonymous JWO said...

Another good essay by honorary WAF-er Henry A Giroux here:

http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/20669-radical-democracy-against-cultures-of-violence

MB, you are cited in there (#11).

Some good points:

"The brutality, cruelty and collective infantilization so rampant in American society both fuels and reveals neoliberalism's anti-democratic machinery of social and civil death."

"America has become a society that thrives on a denial of reality - mistaking democracy for capitalism, massive inequality for meritocracy, ignorance for reason, war for peace, charity for justice, freedom for an unchecked individualism, and entertainment for cruelty."

1:03 PM  
Blogger Sarasvati said...

Alexey,

Re having children. About 30 years ago I watched a program on TV featuring a man with, I think it was three, terribly deformed children with very short life expectancies. He knew there was a good possibility that the children would be born with this genetic disability, but said that he was willing to take the risk. I remember being appalled, because in reality he was risking the children’s lives, not his. With the increasingly dystopian promise of the world today, I think the question should be one of fairness to the child, rather than fulfilling one's own personal desires.

1:51 PM  
Anonymous Rambeau said...

Speaking of the culture of narcissism....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kjoUjOHjPI

Video has gone "viral," and the scariest part is how admiring most comments are, with many expressing their wish that they could be like these people.

2:16 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

JWO-

Thanks for the ref. It's gd to see that my Nuremberg essay is getting some circulation. Also nice that Henry called me "always brilliant," wh/is certainly not true; "always annoying" comes closer to the mark, but what the heck, I'll settle for brilliant, if he insists.

Todd-

Always great when someone stops lurking and steps into the spotlight; a courageous act. Re: Guatemala: check out an essay I wrote in QOV called "A Month in Xela" (those folks have reason to be edgy, believe me). Also keep in mind that a hefty % of the American public is actually mentally ill--no joke.

Himan-

Hard to give u a take since I never read it.

Pink-

I wasn't aware that I was anti-imagination; news to me, in any case. As for the Arendt film: yes, Arendt is off the hook re: the real Eichmann, but in case of von Trotta: well, who knows, really? I personally think she wd have been aware of a bk like this released in April 2011, wh/wd not be too late for her film (except to screw it up royally). My guess is that on the eve of that release there were excerpts and major discussions in Der Spiegel and Die Zeit and Neue Zuercher Zeitung, which she probably reads pretty regularly. But yr rt, the timing is kinda tight, so I cd be wrong abt this. But I suggest u.c. the film; even w/all its problems, it's quite absorbing, and well done.

Regarding sluts and deli meats, I do want to remind u all of the Seinfeld episode in which George brings a pastrami sandwich into bed with his girlfriend, to combine his two greatest passions. Obviously, this struck a deep chord w/me. Anyway, he tells Jerry that she wasn't having it, and had limited him to strawberries and chocolate syrup. He shakes his head: "it's just not a meal," he tells Jerry. This is my kinda guy. Someday, I'll give Sarah a royal shtupping, with a plate of grilled moose cutlet nearby.

mb

2:30 PM  
Blogger Karl said...

From the review, it seems that movies about hustling are still going to be popular -
--------
American Hustle Is an Essay on the Brilliance of Corruption

BY REX REED

excerpt -

We’re all con artists, see. Everyone is conning someone else in order to survive. That’s the cockeyed theme of American Hustle, a crazy, classy mess of a movie that shifts tempos every 10 minutes, leaving you breathless. Marveling at a quintet of throbbing star performances and trying to keep up with the elaborate plot twists (inspired by the real-life Abscam political scandal) that come at you in sections will make you feel like your attention span is on speed dial. You won’t doze in this one.



link- http://observer.com/2013/12/grand-illusion-american-hustle-is-an-essay-on-the-brilliance-of-corruption/

2:33 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and Wafers,

Zosima-

Many thanks for the Claudia Koontz book reference... and the Jonathan Herzog one as well. Both look incredibly insightful.

MB, Wafers-

A very clear and effective rebuttal of Hannah Arendt's "banality of evil" thesis is David Cesarani's 2007 work, "Becoming Eichmann: Rethinking the Life, Crimes, and Trial of a 'Desk Murderer'"; published before Bettina Stangneth's work on Eichmann. Arendt's characterization of Eichmann as a mindless, dull and dim-witted "cog" in the Nazi machine, is systematically decimated. In short, Cesarani documents very thoroughly, that Eichmann was an extremely energetic killer of Jews and how it is mythological to think otherwise. I highly recommend this work.

BTW, has anyone seen the HBO film, "Conspiracy" starring Stanley Tucci as Eichmann and Kenneth Branagh as Heydrich? This film is about the 1942 Wannsee conference. The entire film is a about the conference, where a table full of high ranking Nazi officials, many with PhD's, discuss the fate of millions while eating lunch. Truly chilling...

Jeff

3:33 PM  
Anonymous Samya said...

@Frankista, check out a traitor calling a patriot a traitor:

Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton spoke out against former government contractor Edward Snowden for leaking classified details on the National Security Agency's controversial surveillance practices, suggesting Snowden should "swing from a tall oak tree" as punishment.

Speaking on Fox News on Monday, Bolton, who served under former President George W. Bush, characterized Snowden's actions as treason, and urged against any public talk of amnesty.

"I must say absent some other important piece of information, it has to be one of the dumbest things that I've seen in a long time, to be speculating about it publicly, even if they are contemplating a deal with Snowden some kind of amnesty," Bolton said. "The last thing that people ought to be doing is speculating about it publicly. It will inevitably make it a political football and enhance Snowden's bargaining power."

Bolton continued, "My view is that Snowden committed treason, he ought to be convicted of that, and then he ought to swing from a tall oak tree.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/17/john-bolton-edward-snowden_n_4461196.html

3:50 PM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

shep,
Thanks for the link. I don't have time to watch it right this minute, but I saved it to my YT favorites just in case. I'm jaded, cynical, etc., but not so much that I can't still enjoy a happy ending.
Who knows, if old Doc McPherson and Nietzsche are right, maybe we should try to find a happy ending to something every day, seeing as how any day now might be THE DAY for all of us, as each day is *the day* for some of us.

Zizama14,
Are you saying that if a white male professor asked undergraduate student 'assistant teaching assistants' to volunteer to dress up and act 'in character' as a variety of prostitutes, then he would face less of a problem/punishment than Professor Adler encountered ?

If so, you and I could probably (here comes the hustle...what can I say, I was born & raised in the USA) rent ourselves out to some well-endowed (in the collegiate/financial sense of well-endowed) physics department where we could be inspected, interrogated, and otherwise probed and analyzed to demonstrate the viability of one or more of the multiple-universe hypotheses being touted these day. Maybe maybe maybe if the male professor were gay and had some male ATA's dressed and acting as gay prostitutes, then he could weather the storm of protest by claiming to have been suitably diverse...maybe, but even that's enough of a stretch to go beyond the elastic modulus of my string theory. My bet would be that the students would tie the dude up using the Kinbaku techniques covered in the course's 12th lecture and throw him to the tender mercies of the administration.

@Bueller...anyone ?
How big of an enrollment did that Deviance course have to have to justify giving credit to undergrads who were assisting graduate-level TA's ? I've seen high school kids with casts on their arms, legs, or both being given PE credit for helping out in the school's office areas, but sheesh!!

MB,
Seriously, if you're going to go forward with this slut.com thing(Google it and you'll find out that someone seems to have the domain name locked up but isn't actively doing anything with it...no doubt waiting for someone with deep pockets to buy or lease it from them for more than a trice), you better get Elayne Boosler on board as your VP of Communication or Philology or something. After all, she's the one who, in response to the tendency of social media to waste huge amounts of people's time, coined the phrase "Facebook is a clocksucker".

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/elayne-boosler/facebook-is-a-clocksucker_b_843815.html

Finally, any idea why one of the big DOE research facilities, Sandia Labs, is saddled with what in Spanish means 'watermelon' ?
Some sort of Illuminati code ?

4:39 PM  
Blogger Publius said...

wow - I go away for a few days, and it goes crazy around here!

I was leaving a holdout Swedish store on Lake Street called Ingebretson's on Sunday with my kid, after his swimming lesson. We had to get some new buttons to replace missing buttons on a hand-made Norwegian sweater (made by my great-aunt in Norway decades ago). Great place: they have an old-fashioned deli and butcher counter. Amazing throwback to when the whole area was Scandinavian immigrants. Anyway, I pulled out into traffic legally - nobody coming down my lane of the four lane street. Some other driver was somehow outraged - thinking maybe I was going to hit him, though he was in the middle lane. Anyway, I didn't know I had offended him. This crazy guy started to swerve in front of us, hit is breaks. I was confused, thinking maybe a drunk guy was at the wheel. Then at a light, he got out and started cursing and gesticulating... He looked downright dangerous and enraged, as though he could kill.

If he had actually attacked and tried to harm me or my child, I realized at that moment that I would have been able to stomach doing whatever it took to stop the threat. I'd never felt such disgust and loathing for a human being before. He was a brutish primate at that moment. I completely ignored the SOB, of course.

A female friend of mine was once thus accosted, and the male attacker threw a lit cigarette in her face when she rolled down her window to talk. This is the same state where an enraged doctor/driver drove the old lady who offended him to the margin, then grabbed her dog and threw it to its death in traffic. Uff dah.

Regarding Orlov and the ArchDruid - I see they are getting some flack. Come on - they have their own theories and ideas, which they have laid out thoughtfully for your reading and benefit. The Arch Druid is one of the subtlest thinkers on collapse of empire/civ out there... he's no "doomer." Orlov may be a classic doomer, but he is a kind and smart guy. Of course he may be wrong, as might Prof. Berman. Orlov has the mind of a scientist/engineer, and his perspective is more systems oriented, less humanistic. Big whoop... part of the fun of collapse thinking is the amazing variety of thinkers out there: Berman, Orlov, Diamond, Tainer, Spengler, Gibbon... it's a feast!
Regarding Arendt, I personally know one of his devoted students/acolytes at the U of Chicago. That info on the secret tapes of Eichmann is news to me. Thanks... will look into it.

4:47 PM  
Anonymous Bingo said...

WAFers,

I know we’ve been less than kind on Amy Goodman in the past, but today she had a very good discussion about BigPharma and the overselling of ADHD. Five years ago when I wrote an articles about this topic, people looked at me like I was a mental case myself, and almost lost my job over it. I’m glad to see that word is getting around about the criminal operation that psychiatry has become in America. Here’s the clip to the discussion:

“The Selling of ADHD: Diagnoses, Prescriptions Soar After 20-Year Marketing Effort by Big Pharma”:

http://www.democracynow.org/2013/12/17/the_selling_of_adhd_diagnoses_prescriptions?autostart=true


And here’s the NYT article that one of her hosts wrote:

“The Selling of Attention Deficit Disorder”:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/15/health/the-selling-of-attention-deficit-disorder.html?_r=1&


And if that wasn’t evil enough, doctors are now forcefully coming out against vitamins. Yeah, the opinions of American medical doctors have finally become as valid as those of Dr. Josef Mengele. It’s nice to see they all agree that anything BigPharma isn’t making a profit on is bad for your health. Here’s the disgusting article in question:

“Multivitamin researchers say "case is closed" after studies find no health benefits”:

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/multivitamin-researchers-say-case-is-closed-supplements-dont-boost-health/

Julian

6:28 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Pub-

Yeah, a lot of activity here. But what do you expect? This is the #1 site on the blogosphere, bar none. People are just begging to become Wafers, and who can blame them? Anyway, a few notes: Arendt is female; the Stangneth bk won't be out till late next yr; the data indicate that at any given time, 25% of Americans are mentally ill (when I first came across this, I was sure it was a typo, and that they meant to say 75%). The rest need lots of urine on their shoes, quite obviously.

Ty-

Slutline needs major financial backing, and thus far I haven't been able to attract wealthy donors. As for Facebook, when it came out I immediately suggested a site called Assbook, which wd just show rear ends (like Kim's), but again, no takers. Sandia Labs because located in the Sandia Mountain Range.

mb

7:13 PM  
Anonymous shawn said...

Mr Berman,
I moved to Canada three years ago and have had similar experiences. People here are so much more civil than those in the US.
I work as an Emergency Room nurse and since moving to Canada I have never been threatened with a lawsuit. It was a daily occurrence in the states. If people had to wait for treatment of minor problems they would threaten to sue.
I tell my friends back in the states that the best thing about Canada is how seldom I encounter Americans. I am in the process of getting Canadian citizenship and will never move back to the US.
I really enjoy your books and blog. Keep up the fine work.
Shawn

8:20 PM  
Anonymous RealityChecker said...

Just wondering: What do Morris and the rest of you think of the work of Herbert Marcuse, especially One-Dimensional Man?

Of course, many of the particulars of that book are dated, the prose is often turgid, and individual points and some of the broad sweep are debatable, but I think that, overall, his analysis only improves with age.

8:21 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Reality-

A terrific bk. In general, the Frankfurt School's analysis of modern industrial society was spot-on, imo. (Another influence on Hanna Arendt, BTW)

Shawn-

Thank u, and congratulations on getting out. I keep saying that any American who can afford to leave and doesn't is mentally ill; but being mentally ill, they just don't listen to me. I mean, how do you wake up fish to the existence of water? It's nice to find an exception here and there, in any case. Enjoy.

mb

10:42 PM  
Anonymous ellen said...

Cube,
I don’t have any answers for you but, ye gods, you have a lifetime’s thought and reflection laid out there to keep you occupied finding your own answers to your questions. I don’t think that this deeply personal process can or should be carried out as a public spectacle between anonymous strangers on a blog. For discussion you need to find someone you can trust and do it face-to-face. That might take time, it took me many years.

For the record and not up for discussion since it is my hard won personal view, I don’t believe in the concept of a soul and am deeply suspicious of all unexamined concepts. I also think that you are conflating ideals and morals—the two are not synonymous. One is purely conceptual and the other concerns actual behaviour in the world.

I think a lot of people, not just Americans, are confused but if I cannot make a practical contribution then I will vote with my feet and move rapidly away. I am not at all bothered about what others might think and am not in the business of convincing anybody of anything.

In lifeguard training, if a drowning person struggles and jeopardises the rescuer, a knockout punch is considered pragmatic. Why should two people drown?

Here's some happy music, instant bliss, ;)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zaGUr6wzyT8

and I can heartily recommend the doc on Wangari Maathai that Shep linked earlier, too. That's the basic, simple (!!) stuff that really matters and makes a difference. Socrates made his own choices and is long dead anyway:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FNIQLE869VA

3:00 AM  
Blogger Zosima said...

Banality of Evil, from WIki: Her thesis is that the great evils in history generally, and the Holocaust in particular, were not executed by fanatics or sociopaths, but by ordinary people who accepted the premises of their state and therefore participated with the view that their actions were normal.

That doesn’t sound unreasonable, except that I would add the word “solely” after executed. The major premise of Nazi society was the idea that certain groups of people were subhuman/dangerous enemies, and that then justified any action against them.

Let’s look at cases of evil committed by people not living under a totalitarian dictatorship. American generals issued orders that civilian areas of Vietnam were to be bombed and strafed under a policy that Nick Turse describes as “kill anything that moves.” Were those generals demons foaming at the mouth? Or had they simply been part of a culture whose leaders told them this; “let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” Or this: “extremism in defense of liberty is no vice.” These leaders told us we must go to extremes to prevent our subhuman/godless communist enemies from prevailing during the Cold War...and we obeyed, just like the Germans obeyed.

The Pentagon’s own War Crimes Working Group said: “Atrocities were committed by members of every infantry, cavalry and airborne division, and every separate brigade that deployed without the rest of its division—that is, every major army unit in Vietnam.”

Those soldiers had not just experienced starvation, or lost 2 million dead in WWI, or seen their nation partitioned and occupied by foreign troops, as had the Germans. The America of that time was described by economists as the ultimate affluent society, as prosperous as any in human history.

5:33 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Z-

Arendt may have been rt, but not in the case of Eichmann, as it turns out. Also, much killing in VN was 'demonic', involving cutting off ears for necklaces and a deep hatred for the 'gooks', that sorta thing. Hannah had a piece of the truth, but only a piece, it seems to me.

mb

7:42 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

cube-

Pls take ellen's advice. This is not a therapy group or a place to work out personal issues, which is why I suggested finding a psychoanalyst. We're here to talk politics, in particular the collapse of the American empire. I understand that you have a very strong need to bring the discussion back to how that affects you personally, and from time to time that might be OK, depending on the issue and the context; but the general idea is to leave ourselves out of it and just observe the American political scene. You won't find the answers to yr life that you are seeking here; it's not what we are set up to do. I say all this because there was at least one case I can think of, in the past, where the individual involved got it into his head that I was his father, the blog was his family, and in his mind we were going to sort out his life for him. When he repeatedly failed to get what he wanted, he wd fly into a rage. In its own way, a scenario like that is as bad as these trolls that show up from time to time. Anyway, u get my pt.

mb

7:56 AM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Dr. B

Okay, I misunderstood the discourse that took place in our postings. No problem, I will keep to the theme the best that I can. I do have problems with determining the context behind things including knowing what is relevant and what is not. Consider it as part of a comprehension and communication problem that I have.

All that I ask is will you please just be patient with me and forgive my transgressions that I have committed and that I may inadvertently commit.

9:22 AM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...

Marcuse, the Frankfurt school generally have a few core ideas surrounded by a lot of pretentious claptrap. Only Foucalt is more tedious to read. Its like the old Mencken quote: "An academic is an obscurantist or he is nothing"

Again, I would venture that Norman Cohn, John Gray and yes Karl Popper can write clearly and presicesly and lay out brilliant analysis without the masturbatory discourse. Of course academics don;t like them for they are well--clear thinkers and writers. They actually drill down to causes and not jerk off to abstractions of systems and structures. I once picked up Michael Hardt and Negri's Multitude and really just hurled it into the fireplace. Frankfurt school and structurualist post descendants were the editors who were duped by the physicist Sokal who made up an article with jibbierish and it was published in one of the top journals of this people.

Cube--MB is correct. Get out there do things and get a shrink.

The multivitamin issue. Funny how the sponsorship of the study or methodology not shared. At end of report some doc gives a yes but may help in people with poor diets--good thing there are no people with poor diets in U.S. But americans are dolts and will drop well proven health inducing supplements as they will conflate with multivitamins and then take the "safe and effective" FDA big pharma junk.

If you read Gray and or Cohn you will get the entire evil issue well sorted. Gray does a nice job of explaining how Christianity picked up ideas from Mani (as in Manichean) and thus the evil issue combined with utopianism. I think Jesus was important if nothing else as the reform rabbi:)

10:00 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

For Wednesday 11-18-2013

Dr. Berman,
Good thing there is a 24 hr rule. This blog is in a frenzy. Suez is near, I hope.
Currently reading, Counting Blessings and George Carlin's bio and having a ball.

Ellen,
“I’ll take strong ethics and a functioning moral compass over ideals any day.”
Yes. Yes. Yes.
I also hope many WAFers will take the time to read about Wangari Maathai! Thank you for the rec to Cube.

WAFERS,
I have discovered a new hero: We can’t have enough of them. Nikki Giovanni Here are a few comments from her interview on Democracy Now.
http://www.democracynow.org/2013/12/16/nikki_giovanni_on_1_year_since
RE: Sandy Hook and cun control. “I think we need leadership. I thought that was a pitiful statement the president made.”
RE: Leadership. “And I’m tired of watching the people that say they care bow down to the people that we know don’t. You know, I was just enchanted by the fact that the pope pushed back on Rush Limbaugh, that he said, "I’m not taking it. Rush Limbaugh is a fat, drug-addicted idiot who sends his brown maid out to buy his drugs. I’m not going to have him saying it." ...”We’ve got the right wing that’s, I think, a little nutty, and we’ve got the left wing that’s a little without balls.

Capo,
What do u think about this? Maybe, just maybe, this is it. MAYHEM! YEEHAW!
http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/12/17/did-someone-say-crash/

Bingo,
Vitamins can be huge hustle. While in Nursing school, many moons ago, we learned that if the body has enough it will immediately pee it all away, so, no benefit, but profit, except in obvious cases.
BTW: Do u remember who the leader was for the hidden e-mails that were to protect us in case the NSA got interested in WAFERS? Seems it was Tim?

10:01 AM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

pinkpearl--

Sorry about my misreading of your post; it was a feeble attempt at levity. I didn’t really think you were advocating celibacy for women under 50. Who was it that said, “The best things can’t be said, and the second best are misunderstood”?

Capo--

I take the word ‘capitalism’ to mean what actually exists, while theories and definitions of capitalism are either critiques or rationalizations trying to justify it. As John Kenneth Galbraith said, “The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.” Among the Great American People, the flimsiest of rationalizations have clearly won out, and 315-million dolts swallow the dreck whole.

Moreover, existing capitalism changes over the decades and centuries. Failure to understand this has made many Marxists look pretty ridiculous, which caused me a great deal of frustration over three of four decades. So many Marxists seem to be the opposite of what Dr. Berman said about Heidegger in that they are ‘feelers’ but not ‘thinkers’. They needed Eastern philosophy to teach them the importance of ‘balance’. Some of the more intelligent Marxists were associated with the New York socialist journal, “Monthly Review”, and about 50 years ago two of them, Paul Sweezy and Paul Baran, called what existed then ‘monopoly capitalism’.

It seems to me that the ‘post capitalist’ world system is now virtually unknowable, but surely it will involve a great deal of struggle, perhaps throughout the 21st Century. I base this largely on Immanuel Wallerstein’s World Systems Analysis. If it’s correct, our thinking about ‘post capitalist societies’ should involve imagining what we would like to see, and fighting to create it. I guess one strategy that NMI’s and New Monastic Communities should adopt would be, as Gandhi said, to “be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Anyway, that’s my simplistic way of looking at it.

David Rosen

10:39 AM  
Anonymous Vince said...

Shawn,

What part of Canada did you move to? I have been considering moving out of the U.S. for a while. I have relatives that live just outside of Toronto.

The encroaching ghetto / white trash culture has become to much to handle.

MB,

Facebook = Fakebook.

Link to a funny tidbit.

Tourist walks off Australia pier while checking Facebook.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-25426263

Peace,
Vince

11:11 AM  
Blogger pinkpearl said...

Good talk here by Gar Alperovitz. He discusses some co-operative/socialist-type businesses and organizations already operating and growing in the US, and some speculations about the future.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vX-MocuuOfc

12:09 PM  
Blogger Publius said...

@Prof. Berman:
Oops! I knew that Arendt is female. That was a typo!
I've actually read her book, "On Totalitarianism," along with some of "The Human Condition," and "Eichmann in Jerusalem."

With the Eichmann book, I think Arendt was trying to show that you didn't need the classic, villainous "evil mind" to cause great evil to be done. Now, the new evidence you mention may show that Eichmann personally was more consciously evil than he led on, but you could also interpret it another way: he still didn't think that what he did was evil, but he consciously changed his appearance in the hopes of lenience, or being accepted, even if he knew he would hang.

Evil is a tough subject to crack. A Polish psychologist named Andrzej Łobaczewski tried in a book/subject called Ponerology . Have you heard of him, or this book?

Anyway, part of his thesis is that as a society gets taken over by real sociopaths (of the hardcore 1% variety), the rest of society is forced to adapt. Many adapt by taking on some of the traits of the sociopathic leaders. This seems to have happened in Germany. A good portion of the people went along with it or actively helped, suppressing their conscious pangs of guilt.

A minority rebel or actively try to stop it.

Anyway, we are seeing a similar process in the USA today. Most people I know in the corporate world do no oppose the viciousness of corp culture. If they did, they wouldn't be where they are.

Anyway, interesting topic.
I love Arendt's ability to formulate grand theories and incorporate all the evidence and theory, from ancient Greece to modern economics. Great mind. But not right about everything, evidently. I don't think she was a self-righteous idealogue.

12:46 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Wafers-

Frenzy indeed; we're reaching some sort of critical mass here. I may hafta get myself cloned, to deal w/this blog. But gd stuff, in any case, and since the trolls and buffoons seem to have receded (for now), I suppose I shdn't complain. Wd it be too much to ask for an intelligent, douchebag-free year? Yeah, probably. After all, the job of a douche bag is to be a douche bag; I just wish they'd do it somewhere else, so us Wafers can continue to figure out how to save the world.

Of course, I'm not much for New Yrs resolutions, since I never keep them (I will avoid cheesecake, etc.); but I think it might be nice for Wafers to construct a Wish List. E.g., I wish Sarah P. sends me an email and begs for sex, that kinda thing. Or: I wish all 'progressives' would give that shit up, and become Wafers. You get the idea.

cube-

What I propose is that you make absolutely sure that anything u share is not abt you--not even slightly. Before you hit send, re-read yr message and ask yrself if it's abt yrself, or the outside world. Make sure words like "I" or "me" never appear. For example, if you want to discuss Dual Process or post-capitalist formations, don't talk abt how these things are going to impinge on yr life. What I'll do on my end, to help u, is delete anything you send that is abt u. If that happens, u might consider reviewing it, trying to figure out why it got deleted, and then not repeat that mistake in yr next message. I really need you to be conscientious abt this, because it's soaking up a lot of my time to keep discussing what this blog is and how it operates, and time is not something I have in large supply. Above all, never apologize; never, ever ask for my forgiveness--ever. Thank you.

mb

6:44 PM  
Anonymous Michael in Oceania said...

@Publius

Re: Łobaczewski - I second your recommendation. I especially recommend the chapter in "Ponerology" entitled "The Hysteroidal Cycle." The text of that chapter can be found here:

http://www.cassiopaea.com/cassiopaea/psychopath_macrosocial_evil.htm

The application to contemporary life should be almost self-explanatory.

6:59 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Season's Greetings Dr. Berman and Wafers,

My Wafer wish list to all of you, sung to the tune of...well, you know.

On the twelfth day of Christmas
my true love gave to me:

12 Wafers splitting
Eleven douche bags douching
Ten Guccis leaking
Nine crania CREing
Eight hustlers hustling
Seven Mittneys Romneying
Six Latreasa Nuggets waiting

Five-McDoubles-for-Lorenzooooo

Four corned beefs
Three pickle barrels
Two Kimmy rumps
and a Palin presidency!

Cheers,

Jeff

11:34 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jeff-

That was so beautiful; I wept. Meanwhile, I screened "Game Change" for the 3rd time, wh/is abt the Palin 2008 VP campaign. It's really a brilliant 'documentary'; Julianne Moore stars as Sarah to devastating effect. Her sheer ignorance of everything is breathtaking; she also comes across as mentally unbalanced and even dangerously power-hungry--a sick person for a sick time. What a pity she and McCain lost the election, esp. given what we now know about Ovomit.

Of course, Julianne is very beautiful, and I probably wd not turn down the chance to make love to her on an ice floe in Alaska, among the meese, and with Ed Meese watching. However, so effective is her Palin, and so stupid, and really so deranged, that I realized that the much- ballyhooed coupling and/or nuptials between me and Sarah is not going to take place. One kiss, and I'd probably barf.

If she did run for prez, tho, I'd definitely work on her campaign. America deserves nothing less.

Merry Xmas.

mb

3:32 AM  
Anonymous Holzwege said...

Dear Dr. B,

I thought this may be of interest (if you don't already know it). Claude Lévi-Strauss wrote an entire book of essays about Japan. Its title: The Other Side of the Moon: Writings on Japan.

8:38 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Holz-

Thanks for the tip. Title is actually "The Other Face of the Moon." I intend to read it.

mb

9:54 AM  
Anonymous D Henne said...

Gosh, guys, while I agree that most Americans are thoughtless ignoramuses, my life experience has not been in such a dysfunctional society as you all describe. I grew up in a small town in West Kentucky in the 1950s (14,000 people) and we had one murder in ten years, someone robbing an all-night gas station. People were friendly to one another on the street, and road rage was completely unknown. For the last 44 years I have lived in Tallahassee, FL, and have never been treated rudely by anyone I have met on the street or in malls....traffic is a lot worse than it was when I came here, but somehow we all manage to get along. I certainly would hate to live in the places you describe.
Dr. David Henne

12:07 PM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

shep,
Re Nikki, Rush, and Francis
I read the Giovanni transcript and then googled the sentence she attributed to the pope. The only substantive link I found just referred me back to her appearance on Democracy Now.
Then I googled something like 'pope & limbaugh'.
All I got were Limbaugh's comments (unsurprisingly idiotic) and the pope's reaction in an interview with an Italian newspaper or magazine, which was very matter of fact and not remotely, in either tone or content, related to the quote attributed to him by Giovanni.
Maybe she was using poetic license (hey, she's a poet) and extrapolating from what she thought the pope felt about Limbaugh?
If you have found a source which corroborates Giovanni's quote, please share it.
Maybe she got a bad translation and what the pope really said was something more like, "That fat douchebag, Limbaugh...I wouldn't waste my piss on his Guccis".
Geez, talk about a pay-per-view event worth watching...

Re vitamins:
I have had a few conversations about this with a MD friend who uses the same 'you just piss away what you don't use' fact (no dispute about that) coupled with the huge profits made by the vitamin industry to justify not taking multivitamins.
My counter-arguments are these two:
1) Yes, the amount of vitamin 'c' needed to prevent scurvy is tiny, but I'd rather piss away 10 cents a day than risk scurvy or any of the other conditions known to be preventable by various vitamins.
2) The numbers (RDA's) used by the gubmmint and medicos focus on doses required to 'survive'.
As in, how many milligrams of vitamin/mineral X do you need in order to survive and not be afflicted by condition Y.
Virtually none of those numbers are related to doses required to 'thrive', which would encompass areas like optimal emotional mood, mental acuity, or athletic performance.
We usually reach the 'agree to disagree' point rather quickly and then move on to topics where we hold nearly identical views on things like Limbaugh and the pope.

1:42 PM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Dr. B

It is a reasonable compromise.

By the way, happy holidays.

A funny, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krampus, legend that I read is about Krampus. Based upon the beliefs of the more alpine countries, Krampus is the opposite of Santa. He beats people who are naughty. There are a lot of naught people in America. Krampus is going to have a long naught list of people to beat down. More than likely you'll be on the nice list. Santa may give you what you want lol.

Check out this cartoon video about Krampus and naughty children. Do you think this would be fitting for Americans today?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9p1JYvV178E

2:18 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dr. Henne-

My bags are packed; I'm Tallahassee bound!

mb

4:27 PM  
Anonymous Troutbum said...

Dr. MB,

Well it seems you now have competition ( its the American Way!)
for the affections of Sarah. Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone confesses to missing her and he finds her mind amazing! But probably a little different than yourself. He's just missing all the weirdness she brings to the conversation. It's all here : http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/sarah-palins-impressively-incoherent-duck-dynasty-comments-20131219?print=true

Enjoy the atrocity !

5:11 PM  
Anonymous Savantesimal said...

If stupidity excites you, this should give you an orgasm.

Woman doesn’t understand how light refraction works, conspiracy theory ensues

If it was possible to actually laugh yourself to death, it probably wouldn’t be a good idea to watch this woman’s video.

Aside from the hilarity, the video is a perfect example of how ignorance of science goes hand-in-hand with conspiracy-mongering. It’s also noteworthy how “chemtrail” alarmists express nearly identical concerns about the prismatic nature of certain contrails.

This video is a few years old and not much is known about the woman who uploaded it. But let’s hope someone sat her down and put her mind at ease with a little scientific knowledge, dispelling her confusion of light refraction in water droplets with a secret government water-poisoning campaign.

...

6:26 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

David Malone added a good post recently

http://www.golemxiv.co.uk/2013/12/the-undeserving/

Pretty much the crux of humanity's problem with creating a society, and exactly why The US is such a rotten individual/greed/property slanted sink hole.

6:40 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

This is pretty gd on the difference in attitudes toward books in the 1st and 3rd Worlds:

http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/2007/lessing-lecture_en.html

6:54 PM  
Anonymous shep said...

For 11-19-2013
Anyone,
Do not know how I missed “IZ”.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V1bFr2SWP1I
http://www.youtube.com/watch?annotation_id=annotation_609514&feature=iv&src_vid=V1bFr2SWP1I&v=7BqZPLNoaos

Infanttyrone,
10 4.
I cannot remember, ever, taking a Vitamin and I haven’t contracted scruvy yet. Hope I don’t!
Also, I thought the same about the Rush Francis quote but I didn’t try to look it up because I loved hearing it so much and willed it to be factual.

7:10 PM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...

Ah the sight of MB in Tallahassee Florida! Imagine living in the same town where the Florida state legislature convenes? Can you imagine the utter douchebages and utter twits that comprise that august body? The mind reels. Home of Florida State which defunded its computer science department to better fund football--and has a grade forgiveness policy even in graduate school--second chance to take over and erase the first failing grade. Ah Florida land of excellence. Then there is Orlando where people can actually get married (a woman on a plane once showed me photoes of her 28 year old nieces wedding at Deisney) at disney world with people dressed like disney characters with a window which frames cinderellas castle off in the distance. There is of course Miami and South Florida which along with Las Vegas vies for all time douchebag central. The good doctor may have never met rude people in Florida but I suspect there is a considerable element of that--a college town and state capital full of polite people? What are then odds wafers?

But really--what is the capital of douchebags? It is a country full of them but my bet is Florida, followed by Nevada and maybe New Jersey...

7:10 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Capo-

Yr not leaving me much to live for. I've scratched Sarah off my list, and now there goes Florida. The abyss yawns. But we do need to establish a DBI--Douche Bag Index--for various locales. My vote wd, indeed, be for NJ.

I've been thinking that for the holiday season, Wafers need something more conversation-starting than "Merry Xmas" or whatever. I suggest "Happy Collapse," but see what u guys can come up with.

mb

8:15 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Thank you Dr. B for your astute forecast of industrial civ's probable near-to-mid-term prospects, which is pretty much confirmatory of my own expectations and those of other bloggers and authors I hold in esteem. You are of course right that 2007-08 already saw a financial collapse, but my impression is that the next time around the kleptocracy will have a harder time papering it over with "quantitative easing," market bubbles and various other assorted creative accounting tricks. Only the American public's amazing myopia and devotion to Kim's nates will be able to prevent it from glimpsing the man behind the curtain.

Seeing that we appear to have already unremarkingly shuffled across the threshold of a dark age, as a painter I cannot help wondering if the fine arts as we know them will survive, and if so in what forms and in what geographic locale(s). Surely not the USA. Europe, perhaps? Since immigration there is difficult (you gotta have lotsa Euros), my current hope is that I will be able to cobble together a downmarket yacht and sail it to Uruguay.

About techno buffoons: I feel that the word "buffoon" may be a bit too recondite for the vocabularies of the people whom it is meant to affront. If we wish them to feel our scorn, permit me to suggest the term "techno Bozo."

As for a suitable holiday message, I've long wanted to place in my front window a large seasonal banner conspicuously declaring that "Mithras Is The Reason For The Season." But first I'll have to install windows of lexan or some other shatterproof material.

11:41 PM  
Blogger deflationista said...

Morris-

I hope that you and all my fellow WAFers take a few minutes to read this excellent essay posted over at Dmitry Orlov's blog:

http://cluborlov.blogspot.com/2013/12/american-collapse-recovery-or-whatever.html

It's a good one.

Hope you all have a great day!

11:45 PM  
Blogger Jack Lattemann said...

A Wafer new year's toast:
"Bottoms up!"
(In honor of Kim)

12:27 AM  
Blogger Zosima said...

“Julianne Moore stars as Sarah to devastating effect. Her sheer ignorance of everything is breathtaking; she also comes across as mentally unbalanced and even dangerously power-hungry--a sick person for a sick time.”

I know you feel that our times are especially sick, but it’s been my experience that Palin types have always been a dime a dozen within the super-crazy conservative Christian milieu that make up at least a third of this nation. In the book Mad As Hell: The Crisis of the 1970s and the Rise of the Populist Right by Dominic Sandbrook, he reminded me of a similar character from my old home state of Florida: Anita Bryant. She even looked a bit like Sarah, and was just as crazy, and I would bet that she could also have been elected gov of a small red state. I will admit though that Palin’s depth of stupidity appears to be unmatched. Also, unlike Sarah, Anita had talent; she could sing.

4:46 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Zos-

Something to do w/orange juice...?

Jack-

Or perhaps: "Rump Ahoy!"

Kev-

I kinda like "techno-trash" or perhaps "techno-turkey" for the alliteration.

mb

5:58 AM  
Anonymous Zostiza said...

My new year resolutions:

I resolve to love a country that preaches full love and freedom for homosexuals

I resolve to love a country that renounces and preaches full hate and antipathy for Christianity

I resolve to love a country that renounces thinking, education, and health while shoving death into my throat

I resolve to love you as you implode before my eyes and before the eyes of the entire world

America, you are great!

7:50 AM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

MB:

If you're giving up hope of ever--as the kids are wont to say--"hooking up" with Sarah P, I wonder whether you might not consider replacing her as the focus of your attention with that Minnesota minx Michele Bachmann?

I think you'd find her an absolutely first-rate replacement, every bit as vacuous as SP and with the added advantage of living in a place more easily reached by public conveyance, a factor of some importance when it's time to skedaddle. (Waiting hours or days for the next floatplane out, as an Alaskan assignation might require, would not be something you'd easily countenance, I suspect.)

In any case, we follow with interest--at a safe physical distance, of course--your communications regarding the lustings of your loins. (Eye protection suggested, hard hats generally not required.)

7:52 AM  
Anonymous ellen said...

A really good presentation from Gar Alperovitz on practical possibilities already afoot in the US, linked above by pinkpearl. He's a new name to me but he seems honest and clear-eyed and does not gloss over the pain and risk involved in real change.
He gave a web address at the end that has more info on the practicalities of the models he talks about. Worth a look, even for me who resides elsewhere-- I'll steal any good, workable idea I come across:

http://community-wealth.org/

I liked the 'Ponerology' chapter that Michael in Oceania posted also, and will read the book. I have studied a lot of the existing literature on psychopathology but few have clinically recorded its political process on the ground to date, so that's new.
I am acutely aware though that 'looking into the abyss' can swiftly induce paranoia in the unwary so won't be joining the 4th Way cassiopeians who kindly hosted the chapter on their site.

All numbers now on the scrolling catcha, something's going on.

10:18 AM  
Blogger GregJS said...

My bit of seasonal cheer:

Whadayacall 3 congressmen sucking up to their corporate lobbyist pimps?

Ho, ho, ho.

("Ho" in this case is not quite the same as "slut" as it's been used on these pages lately.)

Happy Ho-lidays everyone!

11:53 AM  
Blogger Publius said...

Everyone here wants to boink Sarah Palin. Don't forget the crazy woman politician from my state, Michelle Bachmann!

I wonder which of them would win in a cage match?

Hey, the GDP went up more than they originally thought, I heard on NPR this morning.
Nothing like the lulling, hypnotic power of NPR announcers to induce you to think all is well.

Regarding vitamins: we wouldn't want the rubes to think they can have any control over their own health and bodies. We want everyone to believe they need, and be forced to buy, medical care, I mean sick care, I mean pre-paid medical plans with $5000 deductibles. Yeah, that's the ticket...

GDP up, unemployment up, desperation up. It's all going great.

11:57 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Wafers-

So many sexual choices: Sarah, Michele; I've got my work cut out for me. If any of u know these fine ladies, perhaps u cd put in a gd word.

Muted-

Yr wasting yr time. I deleted yr latest w/o rdg it, will do same w/all future messages from u. Go somewhere else. Ura douche bag. Merry Xmas.

mb

8:33 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

MB,

Wouldn't going after Julia Louis Dreyfus while she's on set and in costume for Veep be the best option?! She's very funny, has lots of money...and think of your offspring. Sarah's progeny do not impress...

9:17 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dan-

Not a bad idea, except she admires Joe Biden. Getting from there to Waferdom cd be a bit of a stretch.

mb

9:45 PM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

MB,
So many sexual choices ?
Cowboy up, hombre!
To El Wafero Maximo this dynamic duo does not present a choice,
but rather a conservative combo platter but waiting to be ordered.
I recommend that your Rush Right over to the next Neocon confab, where the Serf 'n' Turf babes no doubt will appear.

To disCERN which particular one is the proton and which the neutron,
you may need to consult the Oracle of Geneva
(AKA the Large Hardon Collider) whose sense of these Barbie-like phenomena is beyond our Ken and above reproach.

When you see them together in matching miniskirts designed by Mary Quant, um, you'll know it's time to go into action,
and before you know it, your strong nuclear force role will become clear.

Well, maybe not quite clear, maybe more like translucent, since you will be the source of gluons holding (if not binding)
our two preeminent Fundamental FIghting-for-Freedom Females together.

(If Sarah calls the milky, sticky stuff 'moose-ilage', just go with the flow...it's 'an Alaskan thing' with her.)

And, yes, you can refer to whichever one first tweets about your triadic tryst as a Technidiot.

Oh, and like I really need to mention this, please record the session.
You can keep it under wraps until 2015 and use the premiere of it to lure on-the-fence Wafers to Ireland.
Like that baseball flick said, "Film it and they will come."
Of course, regarding your protein intake in advance of all this, keep it up.

9:56 PM  
Blogger Jack Lattemann said...

News item: Doused douche bag in the Down Under!
http://seattletimes.com/html/nationworld/2022496883_apxaustraliafacebookfall.html

12:32 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jack-

This is indeed a story for our times. Whatta douche bag! And there are so many of them, even beyond this blog.

Ty-

Jesus, I probably deserved all that. Grotesque, amigo. Time to get back to collapse of empire, and let Michele and Sarah go.

mb

1:21 AM  
Anonymous Michael in Oceania said...

@Ellen:

"I liked the 'Ponerology' chapter that Michael in Oceania posted also, and will read the book. ...I am acutely aware though that 'looking into the abyss' can swiftly induce paranoia in the unwary so won't be joining the 4th Way cassiopeians who kindly hosted the chapter on their site."

Me, either.

The ONLY thing valuable about that site, in my view, is the publicity around valuable works concerning psychopathology. These folks are into channelling via Ouija board and all kinds of other occult weirdness, which go against my Orthodox Christian convictions.

Thanks for the opportunity for me to make that very clear to everyone.

2:40 AM  
Anonymous Rufusteena Firefly said...

Hey, WAFERs are a tad behind the times. Here's a quote from Fr. Thomas Merton, dated December 13, 1960, IV.73:

"Prayer (yesterday's Mass) for Latin America, all of America, for this hemisphere—sorrow for the dolts, for the idiot civilization that is going down to ruin and dragging everything with it."

What say y'all?

4:25 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Ruf-

Check out the epigraph to "Destiny."

mb

9:44 AM  
Blogger GregJS said...

On the connection between militarization of the police force/domestic scene and our foreign policy, a couple possible parallels, based on my reading of DAA (which I just finished the other day and promptly passed on to my parents, who are even more clueless than me about how the US has behaved around the world; not sure they’ll be able to handle it, actually – but I sure got a lot out of it):

First parallel: just as Bush Jr. went, overnight, from lost little boy to big strong man who “knew what to do” after 9/11, could a similar thing be happening with the countless Bush Jr.’s out there who also feel lost in this empty society – until we put a cool-looking SWAT outfit on them and a gun in their hands? Is going after the “bad guys” even within our own borders (and tasering, pepper-spraying, or killing them) a “force that gives us meaning” (to borrow a phrase)?

Another parallel: overkill leading to blowback. Seems very likely that, just as our harshly violent policies in the Middle East are the best conceivable recruiting tool for reciprocally violent Muslim extremists, turning our schools and society into an impersonal militarized zone is only “enlisting” more and more of our young people to decide that life sucks and the world is against them, and to engage in retaliatory mass shootings.

In general then, that the more we sweet, kind, innocent, smart, loving, rich (or soon-to-be-rich), law-abiding “good” guys go after them nasty, mean, loser “bad” guys out there, the more them “bad” guys out there seem to go after us “good” guys. Manichaeism: great results every time.

So…since I’ll be joining my sis back in NYC (known to all as the site the 2013 WWWS – World Wide Wafer Symposium) next week to check out the Vermeers on display there, I’ll also head over to Wall St. and help out by doing some volunteer stop-and-frisk of anyone I spy wearing a symbol of criminal “gang” affiliation: a business suit.

1:28 PM  
Anonymous shep said...

Dr Belman and Sister Palin, young and in love. Is that sofa an ice floe?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EH7mYnYhaac

3:07 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

shep-

And the crowds cried "Belman! Belman!"

Greg-

That's been the pattern w/foreign policy for a long time now: young adults who are basically losers in American society go over to ___ (you name it) and suddenly, compared to the little brown people (quoting Bush Sr.) they have under their control, they are Big Shots, Important People. It's a heady wine, and they abuse it accordingly, as torture at Abu Ghraib showed. Something like that has also been going on for a while domestically as well, but since 2001 it's been No Holds Barred.

mb

5:35 PM  
Anonymous CMC said...

MB,
An anklebite re the affluenza judge: "And the guy's a judge." Judge Jean Boyd is female.

6:36 PM  
Blogger PWS said...

We permanent residents here in Ajijic see this behavior about this time every year when the snow birds from the US and Canada arrive en masse for the "high" tourist season. Suddenly there are car horns blowing in the village, which is something we just don't hear most of the year. It scares the horses, but other drivers don't pay much attention to it.

I remember having the same feelings for the 20 years we lived near Wilmington, NC, if it's tourist season, can we shoot them?

7:02 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

CMC-

And the gal's a judge!

mb

7:02 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Dr. Berman & Wafers--

Thanks for the link to the article by Doris Lessing. I urge all Wafers to read it at:

http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/2007/lessing-lecture_en.html

It reminded me of some of my own experiences during the years I lived and worked in Mozambique shortly after independence.

Whenever I met Black South Africans or Rhodesians/Zimbabweans, they always asked me for books in English. What Kind? Shakespeare! King Lear, Macbeth, and Julius Caesar were the three I had with me, and they circulated all around – and were always returned. They didn’t strike me as particularly religious, but they knew the King James Bible, which clearly hadn’t harmed them at all.

I was told by people working for the WHO that when the French left a colony, the already scanty health care system fell into chaos, as had happened when the Portuguese left Mozambique, but the British left behind a much more solid infrastructure. Much of the health, education, and welfare work appeared to have been done in Anglican missionary institutions. I noticed that Black Africans who had gone through missionary schools had a brightness about them and appeared much better educated than the overwhelming majority of Americans.

I think British racism may have prevented some of the ‘brain-drain’ from British colonies which occurred in Portuguese colonies. Educated Africans in Portuguese colonies were expected to become thoroughly assimilated into Portuguese culture – they were then known as “asimilados”. Immediately after Mozambican independence most educated Africans left for Portugal, and Mozambique fell apart. On the other hand, it seemed that while Africans in British colonies got the message that they would never really be welcome in British society, many did come out of missionary schools with real literacy and a love of learning.

Also, people in southern Mozambique were living under the traditions of four or five-hundred years of Portuguese colonialism, which weighed like a mountain on every aspect of their existence.

David Rosen

7:24 PM  
Anonymous Capt. Spaulding said...

Dr. Belman -- Happy Festivus and thanks for an enlightening year of airing of grievances. I guess I'll have to wait awhile before I can observe the feats of strength (perhaps at your next speaking engagement). I suspect that 50 years from now, Festivus will have replaced our current commercial Saturnalia and selections from WAF, translated from their original Chinese, will make up part of the new liturgy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F73sMmb6CS0

Pastramilly yours,

- The Capt.

10:59 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Capt.-

No! Not the feats of strength! Next you'll be asking me to make a contribution to The Human Fund. ("They drove my people out of Bayside, sir!")

mb

12:26 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

I for one most avidly do *not* wish to couple with Palin or that Bachman lunatic. The mere thought is enough to inspire celibate aspirations. Speaking of rejecting which, I would dearly love to join or establish a monastic order of Eros and Aphrodite, and can't imagine why nobody's done it already. I'm sure there would be plenty of eager adherents. Probably Mithras would be involved too somehow, especially at this Solstice time, the perfect season for festal Erotic jollification. Bottoms up!

1:18 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Somebody just sent this to me--a wonderful Xmas story. As follows:

This letter was sent to the Lions Bay School Principal's office in West Vancouver after the school had sponsored a luncheon for seniors.
An elderly lady received a new radio at the lunch as a door raffle prize and was writing to say thank you.
This story is a credit to all humankind and makes one feel there is still hope for us all !
Forward this to anyone you know who might need a lift today...

Dear Lions Bay School :

God bless you for the beautiful radio I won at your recent Senior Citizens luncheon. I am 87 years old and live at the West Vancouver Home for the Aged.
All of my family has passed away so I am all alone.
I want to thank you for the kindness you have shown to a forgotten old lady..
My roommate is 95 and has always had her own radio She would never let me listen to it.
She said it belonged to her long dead husband, and understandably, wanted to keep it safe.
The other day her radio fell off the nightstand and broke into a dozen pieces.
It was awful and she was in tears. She asked if she could listen to mine, and I was overjoyed that I could tell her to fuck off.
Thank you for that wonderful opportunity.

God bless you all.

Sincerely,
Edna

1:23 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Dovidel,
Thanks for the Doris Lessing link. A superb speech needless to say. Recently a book warehouse had a book giveaway on a Saturday morning. I told the teachers at my school about it and said it would be a great way to fill up our library. Of course only the school librarian and myself went. Ever the principal was less than enthused since it would require staff to stock the new books. As for my 2014 wish, I hope for widespread economic collapse which would force the US to close all or most of its military bases world wide. In fact, I would like the Pentagon budget reduced to water pistols. And I don't mean good water pistols, Doctor Berman, you and I surely remember the water pistols of our youth when you had to pull the trigger a number of times for the water to come out. I want the Pentagon to have those. And finally, I would like every living president to fly to each country, deplane, genuflect on the tarmac, and beg forgiveness for all the crimes the US perpetuated upon that country.

6:33 AM  
Anonymous ellen said...

For anyone following Sarah and her antics (which keep on giving), I found this brilliant rant from an irate southerner about the Duck Dynasty 'reality' TV controversy, courtesy of a commenter on Matt Taiibi's blog:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KW343K1-upo&feature=share

Lewis Lapham writes on the saving grace of laughter and the genius of Mark Twain:

http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175786/tomgram%3A_lewis_lapham%2C_laughing_into_darkness/

The criminal trial for the murderers of Lee Rigby (the squaddie killed with cleavers in the street in Woolwich, London) has finished and although the verdict was a foregone conclusion, the defence offered is an interesting insight into the confused, narrow and deadly serious thought processes at work in these young men. A search for ideological 'purity' seems to have been a major motivation.

"One of his defining childhood memories was the death of a nephew. The young boy grieved - and concluded that academic studies might be relevant for mortal life, but "greater success" would be found in entering paradise."

This is from the BBC, that running dog ( 走狗 )of the capitalist establishment, so be forewarned:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-25424290

The new, all-number captcha still works if you continue to ignore the photo of house numbers---??

7:46 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Wafers:

As we approach the end of 2013, it might be gd to reflect on the important blog issues we dealt with this year. What comes to mind as subjects of significant discussion? What was of particular importance 2u? And what r.u. hoping to discuss in 2014? So much to think abt!

I can't remember much because my brain is slowly turning into goat turds, but a couple of things occur:

1. Tapering off of troll and buffoon attacks--the Muteds, the Anons, the Autonomouses, and other collected morons that have insisted on making a display of their rudeness and sheer stupidity. I guess they just got tired, took my suggestion to fuck off and bother someone else (poor Noam; will he ever forgive me?). Hopefully this trend, the withering away of the douche bags, will continue.

2. The arrangements for the First Great Wafer Meeting in Greenwich Village, wh/took place in November. History may in fact record that as the most significant event of the year.

3. Lorenzo Riggins, his call to 911 after discovering that McDonald's stiffed him one hamburger. He is the greatest American ever, putting George Washington and Abe Lincoln in the shade.

That's all I got rt now. My Most Important Wish for 2014 is that Ovomit makes a televised speech (preferably on Jan. 1) from the Oval Office that goes like this:

"My fellow Americans: I can't remember exactly where I read it--it was on a blog named Belman or something like that--but after months of following it I came to the conclusion that I am a complete and utter asshole; a douche bag of major proportions. As a result, I can no longer continue on as your president. Really, I'm pathetic: a war criminal and a shill for Wall St., not much more; a piece of dreck, lower than pond scum. So I'm resigning effective immediately, and suggest that Herman Cain or Lorenzo Riggins step in for me, until the time that a new election can be held. Let me once again affirm that I'm a douche bag, and ask your patience and forgiveness. I esp. want to thank Belman, whoever he is, for repeatedly pointing this out to me until the message finally sank in.

"Thank you and good night."

mb

11:39 AM  
Blogger Jack Lattemann said...

In case you haven't seen it, here is the link to Dan Savage's review of Palin's new book:
http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/good-grief-and-great-tits/Content?oid=18503580

Christmas every day? This is batshit crazy enough to scare all the meese away. As they say on the rocks, Wafers, "Bottoms up!"

7:08 PM  
Blogger pinkpearl said...

@ellen

Thanks for the CultofDusty link. That was a quality rant!

Coincidentally, the other day I discovered that a co-worker of mine *could* explain to me what Duck Dynasty is, but did not know what cholera is. I mean, she didn't even know it that it's something bad. Given that Haiti had that horrible round of cholera following the 2010 earthquake, which was well-covered by the media (strangely enough), it's not like it's some obscurity from the distant past like scrofula.

So, there is no chance of her understanding this video, which is how the topic came up:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7QDv4sYwjO0

The way things are going, especially re: infrastructure and municipal governments etc, we probably will see cholera outbreaks in the USA within 5-10 years. And people still won't figure it out.

At least MB will be able to enjoy that sweet taste of vindication.

7:19 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jack-

What's important, I suppose, is not that some psychotic douche bag wrote this absurd bk, but that many millions of Americans think she is presidential material, and a Great Human Being to boot. As George Carlin was fond of saying, "Where do you think our leaders come from? Mars?"

Pink-

I wasn't aware I was pushing for a cholera epidemic, but what the heck: let's throw in Bubonic Plague for gd measure (scrofula wd also be gd).

mb

8:07 PM  
Blogger pinkpearl said...

I meant vindication re: America failing, not specifically re: cholera.

8:28 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

"...let's throw in Bubonic Plague for gd measure ."

And don't forget the boils and locusts. You can't have a proper apocalypse without boils and locusts.

9:05 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Pink-

Oh; less dramatic, I'm sure. But like James Allen, I'm also a fan of boils and locusts. As well as blood, frogs, and the death of the 1st-born males. (The rest of the plagues seem to have slipped my mind.)

mb

9:13 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

If only the American Empire collapsed. Dayeinu!

10:03 PM  
Anonymous Troutbum said...

Dr. MB and fellow Wafers,
There's a new Harris poll out and it's quite interesting. Seems that many of our fellow Americans have quite a religious streak inside them.
According to the poll, 74% believe in god, 72% believe in miracles, 68% believe in angels, 58% believe there is a devil, 42% believe there are ghosts, 36% believe there are UFOs and 47% believe in Darwin's theory of evolution.

It's all here: http://www.harrisinteractive.com/NewsRoom/HarrisPolls/tabid/447/ctl/ReadCustom%20Default/mid/1508/ArticleId/1353/Default.aspx

2:25 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Trout-

47%? Usta be something like 36%. Maybe we're making progress? I shudder at the thought.

DR-

Switching from Jewish to Christian songs, we might have:
"On the 1st day of Xmas my true love gave to me, an Empire completely up a tree."

mb

3:01 AM  
Anonymous David Henne said...

Capo,
You're right about the state legislature.....I stay as far away from the state government buildings as I can. I can only say that Leon county is an island of enlightened blue in a pitiful sea of the surrounding red counties.
Don't blame football for the cuts the University has had to make under the Reign of Terror of the cost-cutting Republican legislature; most of their expenses are paid for by the knuckle-dragging boosters, and football brings in far money to the university than it costs.
I would never defend the rest of Florida; it represents pretty much everything Morris has said about America as a whole, on steroids.
Having degrees in composition, my main interest is in the musical performing groups at FSU, and they are world class. The concerts and recitals are a joy to attend.
That, great local medical facilities, and the general laid-back atmosphere of the town make me very glad I live here.
Morris, my wife and I have an empty spare bedroom you can use anytime!
Dr. David Henne

10:50 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

David-

Many thanks for kind invitation. Now I just need an invite from FSU to lecture; except that audience might lynch me 10 mins. into it. Merry Xmas.

mb

10:55 AM  
Anonymous Kenneth J. Silver said...

I was in Amsterdam earlier this month. It's not an ideal society, and some xenophobia is creeping in, but in every dealing with another human, there was a sense of mutual respect. People were polite on public transport. No one went nuts on another human being. Everything was clean - there's nothing like leaving a clean, modern European airport and landing in a dirt-strewn US airport with toilets covered in human waste. Likewise, there were no BREAKING NEWS horror stories 24/7/365. There was a weather emergency on day, but people just carried on like adults. At a soccer game, no national anthems were played, no limbless soldiers were marched onto the field for cheap emotions and nationalistic lunacy. I felt safe.

And in the US, all there is the hum of violence. I landed on the day the young patriot shot up his Colorado school, leaving a young lady brain dead, and now dead.

Also, the unAmericans inspected my luggage in the US airport, for as we all know, underwear and Maalox are a dangerous combination in any suitcase.

Again, Amsterdam is not Utopia, but do you think they'd stand for this?

12:48 PM  
Blogger Publius said...

@Prof. Berman:

The most significant subject discussed was the probability that emigration is the only viable option for me (and therefore us, as in family). I thought of myself as a real cynic and realist, but something has really kept me from making the existential choice that I really need to pursue leaving the USA with actual actions and plans.

I think that I have unconsciously been affected by the psychology of prior investment: I've given "it" a go here, my whole life (although I've traveled and studied abroad, and almost moved to Scandinavia once).

To really tell yourself that not only do you have the right and freedom to leave, but that you area really going to give it a try - that's a new step.

Also, art and literature. This blog has made me realize that sometimes you just have to put away the critique and worry, and read poetry or stories. Or view art. Listen to music. Life is about way more than the collapse of the American Empire, or techno-narcissism, etc. The regular contributors here mostly seem to have more interests than politics and kvetching.

For 2014: I want encouragement and somewhat practical advice for WAFers who want to make the transition to being an NMI or emigrant.

How do you transition out? How do you deal with resistant family? One's mother saying, "Why would you want to leave the USA! You're abandoning me!"

Finally, are you willing to sell a signed copy of any of your books to a WAFer? I could buy from Amazon, but that seems so... impersonal!

P.P.S. I'd also like more on spirituality in the new year. I know you've written on this some time ago, and plan to acquire those books (as well as others. I like Thomas Merton, for example).

4:01 PM  
Anonymous Bingo said...

MB & WAFers,

My Xmas gift to all of you is this series of clips:

“Americans Brawl Over New Air Jordan Sneakers”

http://www.infowars.com/americans-brawl-over-new-air-jordan-sneakers/

Now that’s what I call “exceptionalism” at its finest.

Julian

6:07 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Julian-

We're such a *classy* people, aren't we? Here's the crucial question, posed below one of the videos:

"Again we ask the question, if this is what Americans behave like over trainers, how are they going to react when the food runs out?" And the food *will* run out.

Pub-

I don't have any extra copies of my bks. I just don't stock them, sorry.

mb

9:16 PM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...

Publius,

As somebody once told me things are simple what is complicated is our perceptions.

Leaving the U.S.A should be pretty damn simple. I mean just 100 years ago or even 70 years ago people came by ship to the new world (or Australia). Telephone calls were prohibitively expensive and travel took weeks--often unpleasant and dangerous. Once at destination, only way to communicate was by letter which also took weeks. No email, no phone no nada. People did it fine. People do it now. I have met Bangladeshis in madrid who left their wife and infant son for months or a year at at time to work. Phillipino nannies with children and spouses in Manila tend to children in New Jersey--millions and millions leave their country and leave home behind. Perhaps the chloriine and food additives have made americans so wussified that they can't do this simple thing. Yeesh, am sure people MB marvel he lives in Mexico. You think by some accounts he was paul bowles living in the deserts of morocco or a remote village 100 miles from rangoon where he sustains himself wearing a big diaper like garment and eating mangoes and chasing young women. Really--emigration is easy, oh so easy so why make it such a big deal?

9:40 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Pub-

The Net is very helpful in this regard. Pick 3-4 countries u might wanna move to. Research them on the Net, and buy used guidebks off of Amazon. In addn, most countries have an ex-pat community that has a website, where you can read other people's experiences and ask questions. Then go visit yr #1 choice for a month, and not as a tourist. Forget 'the sights'; talk to people instead. If you decide against it, move on to #2 on yr list. Etc. But you can do a ton of groundwork in advance very cheaply.

mb

11:45 PM  
Anonymous ellen said...

I was in two minds about posting this but I think it relevant. What I found interesting was the two forensic psychiatrists giving their assessments of the murderers and the personal drives that motivated them. The woman had previously assessed for trial Anders Breivik, the Norwegian Neo-Nazi who killed many on Utoya island and in Oslo.

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/video/2013/dec/20/inside-mind-lee-rigby-killer-michael-adebolajo-brother-video

It was the footage of the Air Jordan scrums that prompted me to remember this, and the impossibility of constructing a viable sense of personal identity around ownership of particular branded footwear.

Next year is the centenary of the start of WW1 and the politicos here are proposing to celebrate it.
The last surviving Tommy, Harry Patch, had something to say about that:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2d26IVqVivE

Happy Christmas Wafers, here's a classic from the Pogues and Kirsty McColl:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HwHyuraau4Q

5:00 AM  

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