January 08, 2014

209

Dear Wafers (and Waferettes):

Time to move on to a new post. Only 8 days into the new year, and we are blessed by a few contributions from trolls and buffoons. Ya gotta love 'em; or at least, *I* do. They are what makes this country great.

Of course, I'd love to post something intelligent here, but as in the past, my mind is a wind tunnel; it resembles that of G.W.Bush. What a thought. But I'm up to my eyeballs these days, muchachos: trying to get the pb edn of WAF finished and online on Amazon, and then there's the last chapter of the Japan book...don't ask. Other events you Wafers might be interested in:

-A publisher in Athens wants to translate SSIG into Greek. Greek, I say. Next thing you know, I'll be giving lectures at the Parthenon, between large platters of dolmades. Just call me Zorba.

-The Spanish trans of SSIG, "De paja a oro," should be out by spring. More lectures, but this time punctuated by chiles en nogada.

-Moving rt along: I'll be doing a phone interview (again, on SSIG) on the Judith Regan Show (based in NY; pastrami this time?) the morning of Jan. 25. For those of you who can't hear it live, not to worry, I'll post the link.

-Departure date for Tokyo: April 9. I was also invited down to Vietnam, so I'll spend a few days in Hanoi. I keep wondering if the Jane Fonda Institute of American Studies is still functioning, after all these years.

Sayonara, Chicos; try to stay warm.

-mb

195 Comments:

Blogger Morris Berman said...

James-

Hope u enjoyed yrself. It reminds me of a Brit who usta be on this blog abt a yr ago. He finally left because I kept calling him a daft wanker. I guess his feelings were hurt. I tried to explain to him that it was nothing personal; I had no idea if he was daft, or a wanker. But I lived in England for 3 yrs at one pt, and so picked up a lot of expressions, like "noughts and crosses," or "bloody hell." "Daft wanker" was one of them. I really wasn't attacking him as a daft wanker; I just liked the sound of the phrase, daft wanker. Sorta like Belman, I suppose. Anyway, he cdn't get past it, picked up his crumpets, and left. Cheerio, daft wanker.

mb

8:09 PM  
Anonymous Dr. Hackenbush said...

Sensei Berman- If your mind is a wind-tunnel, why not check out the new video adaptation of my comic "Planet of the Slob-oids" -- it's just the thing to give you a new perspective on civilizational collapse (I don't know if I'm commenting on it or an example of it.)

http://timrockscomics.blogspot.com/2014/01/slob-oids-book-record-set-video.html

I invite comments from all you Wafers out there as well. I'm sure the story is at least somewhat influenced by TOAC, DAA, and this blog...

8:15 PM  
Anonymous Banana Head said...

The Obama Administration has seized total control of America's educational system. Now, something called the Common Core is being implemented in just about every state. Basically, the aim of the program is to crush independent thought and real intelligence. There is no flexibility in this curriculum; every student is expected to know a set of "facts" (many of which qualify as government propaganda). Creativity is eliminated, as is the subjective feelings and interpretations of individual teachers. My guess is that roughly 75% of students educated with the Common Core method will turn out illiterate or semi-literate. I would also guess that things like music, art and literature will wither away to just about nothing as a result of the Common Core.

You'd think the American government would learn its lesson about the disastrous effects of standardization in education (as it has become more standardized, students have gotten dumber). However, it seems to me that an illiterate populace is exactly the goal here.

Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

9:44 PM  
Anonymous bartleby the Scribbler said...

Excuse the double post, MB. But to answer your query about Chinese attempts to block the film on Nanking (English title: " City of Life and Death"):

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/director-lu-chuan-retells-chinas-408067

THR: Is this what you had experienced when you made City of Life and Death, when nationalists denounce you for featuring a conscientious Japanese soldier emerging from the massacres with anguish and guilt?
Chuan: Oh, I was called a traitor and all sorts, yes. A lot of people who were ranting against me actually hadn’t seen the film – they were just incited by others to come out and give me a hard time. I haven’t changed the way I approach history in my films – you can just have a look at The Last Supper and you will know. It’s not like I am sticking to my guns because I want to confront their haranguing – it’s just that I think the way history is taught has to change. Or else our society will forever be mired in this unenlightened, extreme nationalist zeal – and to struggle in it.

There's a short documentary on the DVD that goes into Lu Chuan's difficulties in making the film in detail.

Cheerio, mate!

9:53 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Bart-

Yeah, but that Japanese soldier wd historically be very exceptional (see the famous J film, "The Human Condition"). Pt is that J nationalists claim Nanjing was a fabrication, and the Chinese, naturally enuf, are enraged at this. They use documentary footage of the massacre as proof of what happened, and rightly so. I guess Lu Chuan was striking a discordant note.

Banana-

So are the products of these types of programs the trolls and dolts that show up on this blog?

Hack-

Truly terrifying. I worry that I may slowly be turning into a Slob-oid. Or at least, my mind is currently quite sloboidal, wh/is why all I cd come up w/4 this post was 209. Film is a cross between "Idiocracy" and "Riddley Walker" (Russell Hoban).

mb

10:26 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Dr. Berman,
Ready for 100degrees plus in Hanoi in April? Anway, do visit Halong Bay while you are there and take a trip to Sapa north of Hanoi to see the hill tribes and perhaps do a day or 2 of trekking along the rice terraces- breathtaking vistas. Oh yes, go to a water puppet show along the lake area.
Banana,
I've been a public school teacher in inner-city Philadelphia for nearly 30 years and yes if someone graduates educated; that is, someone who has developed some level of critical analysis, it was more of in spite of rather than because of. By the way, the Core Curriculum was never field tested. Parenthetically, the high school I graduated from had a nationally recognized space program. Astronauts, in fact, made occasional visits. Last week the program was eliminated due to lack of funds (the district is deeply in the red).Interestingly, the district was able to find funds to continue the football program. Glad the birthplace of the nation still has its priorities straight.

1:21 AM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

MB,

Here's a clip of Larry David taking a Bluetooth buffoon to task to cheer you up.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LtdpJlZ07u4

9:52 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dan H.-

This was gd, but it wd have been better if he had peed on the guy. Who never got that he was being annoying, obviously. Perfect profile of America.

Dan-

Maybe 110; it'll be May. BTW, my host asked me if I wanted to fly down to Saigon during the 6 days I'm there. I'm concerned that that wd make the visit too hectic. What do u think?

mb

10:23 AM  
Anonymous Edward said...

I, Edward, agree with Noam Chomsky.

Now follow step-by-step instruction to continue.

Step 1 - read this:
"Author and activist Noam Chomsky said that the congressional controversy over extending unemployment benefits is evidence that American politics has descended into madness.

"The refusal to provide very minimal living standards to people who are caught in this monstrosity -- that's just pure savagery," Chomsky said during an interview with HuffPost Live. "There's no other word for it." "


Step 2 - go to the link below to read the full article:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/08/noam-chomsky-us-politics_n_4563600.html

11:13 AM  
Anonymous Bingo said...

MB,

I am looking forward to your lectures on the steps of the Parthenon. I recommend you wear a toga, and after your lectures you might need to replenish your strength with a plate of souflaki. Afterwards, you and your Greek WAFers will likely enjoy late night frappes at a taverna by the beach. Ah, what a life!

Banana head,

I teach online at a bunch of so-called American universities. No exaggeration here, but American education is a total, complete, and absolute disaster. My students are illiterate morons who can’t even tie their own shoelaces, leave alone spell. We’re talking imbeciles here. Complete idiots. Did I mention morons? And morons! And it’s not just online schools. I used to teach at brick-and-mortar universities too. It’s the same everywhere. Today, all American colleges and universities are equally bad. Any idiot can (and should) get a PhD today. From the schools’ point of view it’s all about milking the government of student loans and military tuition assistance dollars. So I am looking forward to this Common Core thing, because I’m dying to see how things could possibly get any worse than they already are.

WAFers,

For your personal amusement, check out this “parking while black” clip. Please watch the entire clip, as the crescendo of insanity jumps way off the chart toward the end:

http://rt.com/usa/omaha-parking-police-assault-video-258/

And here’s another example of police state stupidity. I’m afraid the world is getting fed up with this demented and ridiculous nation, and I have a feeling this dumbass bully is going to end up getting its ass kicked around the block in a very humiliating manner:

http://rt.com/news/us-india-diplomatic-row-366/

Julian

12:18 PM  
Anonymous Pauli said...

The land of the free and the insane. Where is Amy Chua, the Tiger Mom?

Jennifer McCarthy Pulls Gun From Vagina After Dispute Over Space Aliens: Cops

The ex-wife of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Cormac McCarthy was arrested Saturday after allegedly whipping a gun out of her vagina and threatening her boyfriend.

Jennifer McCarthy, 48, got into an argument with her 53-year-old lover about space aliens, according to a probable cause affidavit obtained by The Smoking Gun. McCarthy left her Santa Fe residence, then came back and changed into lingerie. The outfit was accessorized by a silver handgun placed in her vagina, with which she began to have "inner course," [sic] according to the affidavit.

While cleaning the chamber, McCarthy reportedly posed the question, "Who is crazy, you or me?" before pulling out the gun and pointing it at her boyfriend's head, the Albuquerque Journal reported. The boyfriend told deputies he wrested the weapon away from her and put it first in the toilet, then the trash can.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/08/jennifer-mccarthy-vagina-gun-_n_4563551.html

12:44 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Pauli-

This may put me off dating for at least a month. (Normally I'm just worried abt teeth.)

mb

3:10 PM  
Anonymous Savantesimal said...

Re: the decay of education in the US

More NPR talk shows about what everyone in the field already knows. Looks like MB could insert a new chapter into the DAA discussion about the craziness of "higher" education detailing the corporate manager takeover. Everyone else is getting pay cuts, the "administrators" who don't actually educate anyone are making all the money.

(WHYY) Radio Times: The rise of adjunct faculty

Part-time professors or adjuncts now make up over 49% of the faculty on university campuses and 70% of community college faculties. But low pay and job insecurity have led many adjuncts around the country to try to unions to get better working conditions. .Today we’ll look at why adjuncts are on the rise, what it means for the part-time teachers, and the effect the trend is having in higher education. Marty talks with DEBRA LEIGH SCOTT, a writer and educator who has been an adjunct for over 15 years and is working on a documentary and book on the topic and ADRIANNA KEZAR, Professor of Higher Education at the University of Southern California.

3:27 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

Examples of oafish behavior, general ignorance and stupidity demonstrated by citizens from Barrow to Bangor to Biloxi and beyond are normally sufficient to cause most WAFers to keep to their houses.

And if, despite misgivings, WAFers do manage to summon the courage to interact with others on a social level, they are doing so in a country where there actually exist people who pack pistols in their privates. Literally.

As Sergeant Phil Esterhaus* used to say to his charges after morning roll call and briefing as they were leaving, "Let's be careful out there."

(Played by Michael Conrad, Hill Street Blues, NBC 1981-1987)

5:12 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Then fly back to Hanoi? Forget it. It's too much travel if you only have 6 days total. I suggest you do a 2 night tour of Halong Bay then if you have more time you can take any number of day trips such as to the Perfume Pagoda which I highly recommend by the way. You can always get up early and see Uncle Ho. Just wear respectable clothes.

2:10 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dan-

Yeah, I think yr rt. Halong Bay seems like the more reasonable trip. As for the Uncle:

Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh!
NLF is gonna win!

mb

8:30 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Duh! Dept.:

http://money.cnn.com/2014/01/09/news/economy/congress-millionaires/index.html?hpt=hp_t3

8:46 AM  
Anonymous Banana Head said...

MB,

Actually, the Common Core curriculum is just a few years old, if that. It would therefore be unlikely that any of the people trolling this blog have been educated with the Common Core curriculum. I would guess that very few people educated with the Common Core curriculum would be literate enough to engage in trolling; therefore, in a weird way, you're actually indebted to the Obama Administration for making trolling of this blog less likely in the future.

Bingo,

I've had enough experience at American colleges to be aware of all this. I attended a state university, and was shocked at the level of stupidity and illiteracy. Based on the essays I read, most students couldn't string together a proper sentence, let alone make a compelling argument. Spelling errors and grammatical errors were rampant; I got the distinct impression that the students were attempting to regurgitate information in a non-plagiaristic form without comprehending any of the information, or what they were writing. These students knew nothing, cared about nothing except themselves, and were interested in nothing except making money, having sex, and using drugs. They were incapable of understanding the simplest and most unambiguous information; philosophy and ethics were way, way beyond anything they could ever hope to comprehend.

The future of a nation filled with these kind of people is obvious.

10:07 AM  
Blogger GregJS said...

Wafers,

Might be time to start bombing/droning those darn uppity Europeans. How dare they invite Snowden to testify about US misdeeds.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/10/world/europe/eu-panel-invites-snowden.html?_r=0

Yep - big time “Duh” on CNN’s “government of the millionaires, by the millionaires, for the millionaires” article, Dr B.

Just saw “Zero Dark Thirty.” Pretty sure it would have struck me as totally “rah-rah USA!” even before reading DAA. But afterwards…oh man. And I’m willing to bet that the CIA-NSA-ETC funded that film after a team of psychologists found that the best way to make Americans (those with any tiny shred of a conscience still left in them) feel comfortable with our black-ops torture program is to show movie-star beautiful Americans - real characters who you get to know and identify with over the course of the film - torturing unattractive, beady-eyed, brown-skinned, non-people. They probably found that this is the very best wash job of all. Just apply a small dab of “The Hollywood Treatment,” rub it in, and the stain is gone!

11:50 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Banana-

Then the trolls I'm getting are probably the result of No Child Left Behind. Not a major difference. Anyway, sometimes when I give a lecture, someone will ask me, "But what about the young people?" And I say: "Yr joking, rt?"

We are staring at the detritus of empire...

mb

12:12 PM  
Anonymous Bingo said...

I'm sitting here pondering a simple question: “For whom the Belman tolls?”
Any guesses?

12:18 PM  
Anonymous Smith-son said...

Banana Head stated this claim:
"I got the distinct impression that the students were attempting to regurgitate information in a non-plagiaristic form without comprehending any of the information, or what they were writing. These students knew nothing, cared about nothing except themselves, and were interested in nothing except making money, having sex, and using drugs."

"They were incapable of understanding the simplest and most unambiguous information; philosophy and ethics were way, way beyond anything they could ever hope to comprehend."


Please give us some information on philosophy and ethics you learned from "smart" colleges and teachers and students. Give us names, theories, claims, and thoughts in philosophy and ethics so that we can become smart and learned like you.

12:38 PM  
Blogger Karl said...

Interesting take in the New Yorker on America's hustling culture. Is this the reaction that you typically get from people who should know better? - i.e. yes, we're all hustlers but that's a good thing somehow.

http://www.newyorker.com/talk/financial/2014/01/13/140113ta_talk_surowiecki

Con artists are greedy hucksters who sell us dreams that never come true. But Americans have a soft spot for them. Witness the current success of “The Wolf of Wall Street” and “American Hustle,” films that celebrate (sort of) the art of the grift. Somehow, living through two bubbles in which plenty of investors and homeowners were suckered by sugarplum visions hasn’t dampened our appetite for watching spectacles like Christian Bale duping almost everyone he encounters, including F.B.I. agents, and Leonardo DiCaprio hypnotizing a mark into buying worthless stock.

[...]

It seems that con artists, for all their vices, represent many of the virtues that Americans aspire to. Con artists are independent and typically self-made. They don’t have to kowtow to a boss—no small thing in a country in which people have always longed to strike out on their own. They succeed or fail based on their wits. They exemplify, in short, the complicated nature of American capitalism, which, as (University of Pennsylvania historian Walter) McDougall argues, has depended on people being hustlers in both the positive and the negative sense. The American economy wasn’t built just on good ideas and hard work. It was also built on hope and hype.

(my apologies if duplicate comments came through, I am on my 12th try with the captcha)

1:09 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Banana,

Please don’t worry so much about common core – most American kids show up for school in such a sorry state that Plato’s Lyceum or Aristotle’s Academy couldn’t even scrape them off the sidewalk. They’d probably have been held up as living proof that some people are only fit to be slaves.

When an entire society turns into crap, it doesn’t really matter what happens in any one part. I think reforms should be directed at reducing the amount of suffering people endure while the ship sinks.

Greg,

As I recently said, aside from ‘the big lie’ Josef Goebbels’ greatest discovery was that the most effective form of political propaganda is entertainment. So, who says that Americans never learn?

On the other hand, Goebbels may well have learned it from Hollywood in the first place.

David Rosen

1:09 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Karl-

I just read that piece today. Yeah, it shows how Americans admire con artists, but it also seemed to say that everything in the US was a con; that hustling was our way of life. Do u think the author might be a potential Wafer?

Smith-

I guess u don't have much experience w/this blog, so let me clue u in: we don't put other Wafers down. We don't act condescending or patronizing toward them, because they are literally the only people of any value left in the US. You can disagree, of course, but do so w/o the Attitude. If you seriously have a question for Banana, you just ask it straight, capito? Otherwise, you won't be appearing on what is the only blog worth following in the entire world. To get barred from this blog is literally the worst thing that can happen 2u in yr entire life, so think before you hit Send, shmendrick. I leave it to Banana if he wants to respond 2u, but in the meantime it wdn't hurt to resend your request for info in an extremely polite and considerate way. (Nor wd an apology be outta place.)

At some pt in every American's life, they come to a fork in the rd. They can decide to be a Wafer, or a putz. You, Smith, are now at that pt. Choose carefully, because the rest of yr life depends on it. (Pls don't think I'm kidding.)

Julian-

Beats me. The Chinese?

-Belman

8:18 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and Wafers,

Karl-

Yes, a very insightful article. Many thanks. I would also suggest to Mr. Surowiecki that Obama is one of the biggest con artists of all time. Oh, and a douche bag of the first order. That would also be good...

Hack-

Nice comic. I love the artwork as well as the storyline. I was hopin' to see Dronar make an appearance on the doomed planet, tho. Maybe next time.

MB-

Possible T-shirt suggestion:

(Front) Don't Be A Putz
(Back) Be A Wafer

We could also order up one that swapped Putz for Potzer.

Jeff

9:00 PM  
Blogger ccg said...

A worthwhile quote, I believe, from an Op-Ed piece in today's Times by Richard Aregood on Chris Christie:

"Governor Christie, with hardly any visible qualifications, was named U.S. attorney for New Jersey in 2002. This is a great job. Kim Kardashian could find corruption in New Jersey and get convictions. We have dishonest politicians so stupid that they will risk jail for a no-show job or a free driveway paving."

9:22 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

Dr B., Thanks for the thanks on the Wilson/Hasegawa stuff. I’m an ex-grad student with daily access to thousands of books. I do have an eye for books that question the consensus and reappraise history, that’s why I liked WAF. I liberated Wilson’s book again to check his sources on the quotes of the Japanese leaders strangely subdued reactions to the bomb vs their more intense reaction to the Soviet attack, they come from mainly from:

Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire, by Richard B. Frank
Racing the Enemy: Stalin, Truman, and the Surrender of Japan, by Tsuyoshi Hasegawa

“The Supreme Council didn’t meet to discuss the bombing of Hiroshima, yet they were seated at the table discussing surrender within six hours of learning that the Soviets had declared war.”

Wilson also showed six photos of moonscape that were once endless city blocks. Hiroshima and Nagasaki right? Wrong, only three of the six photos, the firebombings actually destroyed a larger percentage of cities in more than a dozen cases, though the two a-bombs did kill the most people.

I don’t think any of these authors would deny the bombs weren’t also a major factor. Speaking for myself, I had never before seen any discussion of evidence of the leaders initial reaction to Hiroshima or the Soviet attack, so I found it quite surprising, and the thesis plausible. However, I’ve also never read any books on the surrender. It’s funny though, now I’ve begun to think that maybe the Hiroshima to surrender period deserves to be declared its own era of Japanese history.

For what it’s worth, Richard Rhodes (Making of the Atomic Bomb) gave Wilson a blurb: “brilliant, original, and important...”

1:23 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Zos-

Oddly enuf, Hasegawa is very critical of Frank. But he finally doesn't clinch his case.

mb

4:31 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

For those of you who missed it, 4 yrs ago:

http://projects.washingtonpost.com/top-secret-america/articles/monitoring-america/1/

10:06 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

This is also kinda instructive:

http://swampland.time.com/2014/01/10/report-suicide-rate-soars-among-young-vets/?hpt=hp_t2

10:13 AM  
Anonymous bartleby the Scribbler said...

MB, There's also this:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/09/us/suicides-eclipse-war-deaths-for-us-troops.html?_r=0

"The suicide rate among the nation's active-duty military personnel has spiked this year, eclipsing the number of troops dying in battle..."

Has there been a military in the history of the world whose number of suicides surpassed that of soldiers killed in action?

More American exceptionalism?

Hack, Nice work. Enjoyed it greatly. Looked like Wally Wood influence in the astrowoman... I imagine the profiled position must have invited a Kardashianesque posterior. Admirable restraint.

10:42 AM  
Anonymous Banana Head said...

Dovidel,

You may be right, but assuming you're right (and there's a very good chance you are), I think we should analyze *why* Americans arrive at school, at the ripe old age of 7, hopelessly crippled, both mentally and morally. Not that I think there are any easy answers for this - speculations and discussion would probably more helpful than quick conclusions.

On that note, I would posit that America's lack of safety regulations for food and beverages may have something to do with it. Nearly all American food is genetically modified; in much of Europe, genetically engineered food is punishable by imprisonment. European scientists have concluded that genetically engineered food causes cancer and has very little actual nutrition - that is, very low levels of vitamins and minerals compared to non-engineered food. Americans grow up malnourished on the cellular level, despite their obesity; this in turn is probably partly responsible for why most of them exhibit a total inability to think.

Nevertheless, this can't be the whole story; there are parts of the world where starvation is common, and where most people can think deeply despite this. Brainwashing, cruel treatment by their families, and neglect also have to be considered.

MB,

Thanks for telling Smith to be respectful. I really don't see what I said that implied that I was smarter or better than anyone. I suspect he became enraged when I implied that Americans, as a people, aren't all that bright. Americans cannot handle even the slightest criticism of America, as you know; a strong criticism, like the one I had leveled, usually inspires murderous rage.

4:04 PM  
Anonymous Dr. Hackenbush said...

MB- Thanks for watching the video, that's very cool of you to take the time.

Jeff T- Surprised anybody remembers Dronar, I barely do myself. Still have the notes I'm sure, just takes so much time to develop any of these projects, and I have several others as well.

Bartleby- Wally Wood, great artist. Especially in his depiction of derrieres; it was the Kardashians meets 1950s space opera, one might (but probably shouldn't) say.

8:46 PM  
Anonymous Edawrd said...

Noelle Roni, Former School Principal, Says She Was Fired For Opposing 'Disrespectful' Practice

A former Colorado charter school principal is claiming she was terminated from her job after attempting to halt a practice that embarrassed students.

Noelle Roni was the principal of Peak to Peak Elementary School for more than eight years before being abruptly fired last November. Roni says that higher-ups at the school became angry with her when she demanded that cafeteria workers stop stamping the hands of children who did not have enough money in their account to pay for lunch, according to CBS Denver.

Although the charter school is allowed to set its own policies, other schools in the Denver area notify parents when students do not have money for lunch, rather than stamping their hands, according to Colorado outlet the Daily Camera. Roni reportedly was told that some children were too embarrassed to go through the lunch line because of the practice.

"The kids are humiliated. They’re branded. It’s disrespectful. Where’s the human compassion? And these are little children," Roni said to CBS Denver.

Some parents at the school were upset over Roni’s firing. Following her dismissal, the parents organized a group, Concerned Parents of Peak to Peak, which says it works to "restore trust of our teachers and staff after [Roni’s] abrupt termination." The group also hopes to recall two school board members for their handling of the firing.

"Regardless of whether Ms. Roni can be reinstated or not, members of this group want Peak to Peak to take steps to restore her reputation in the educational community, a reputation that has been unfairly tarnished by the events of this fall," says the group’s website.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/09/noelle-roni-fired_n_4569907.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular

9:02 PM  
Anonymous Suzanne said...

Banana-
It seems that those corporate types pushing the Common Core are more interested in a money/Big Data grab than crushing independent thought, although doing an end run around the unions also seems to be a top priority:

http://www.alternet.org/education/flow-chart-exposes-common-cores-myriad-corporate-connections?page=0%2C0

9:31 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Banana-

Actually, I think Americans are morons on a cellular level; which has many causes (as you point out). As for Smith: I really enjoy giving these bozos a choice between being Wafers vs. Douche Bags, because I know they will always choose the latter. Becoming a Wafer involves a quantum leap in consciousness; if yr a moron on a cellular level, how's that gonna happen? And part of being a moron is to show up here w/an Attitude. Then, you say to them: yr welcome here; just drop the Attitude. Most just disappear; a few come back and pretend to have changed, but the leopard's spots eventually surface once again. The truth is that very few Americans can escape this culture, which cripples them in almost every way. They are rude and stupid and arrogant and emotionally retarded. The system cranks them out, and they in turn reproduce the system, which is moving in a downward spiral to our collective death. And 'progressives' are going to reverse this trajectory how, exactly? Warren Wagar ("A Short History of the Future") believes that only embryonic gene surgery can save us, to create a new species, wh/he calls Homo sapiens altior--Wafers, in short. Actually, I think the 1st step, in the case of Smith and Muted and all of the other clowns that periodically show up here, before embryonic gene surgery can even be considered, is just to take a large spoon and scoop the dog excrement out of their pathetic, undersized crania. *Then* we can talk abt replacing the poop. But 1st: let's just remove it. Less is more, etc.

mb

10:36 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

MB said: Can you imagine Americans behaving that way? Can you imagine the scenario that will ensue--and it will, mes enfants, don't doubt it for a moment--when the system breaks down, and there's no food or water? What portends for a nation whose citizens have no sense of individual dignity? It ain't gonna be pretty, amigos; of that you can be sure.

http://news.msn.com/us/tap-water-may-be-out-for-days-after-wva-spill

The water was being distributed to residents at volunteer fire departments, community centers and other sites. No problems were reported at the sites, county emergency officials said.
"Everybody's been pretty patient with us," Greg Lay, Boone County emergency services director, said Saturday.
----------------------------------
Well, we didn’t have to wait long for the answer, did we? Americans patiently waiting in line for water; and not just a basement full of people, but 300,000 of them!

I think these Americans deliberately started behaving themselves just to annoy you because they knew your Japan book was coming out and that it would be full of unfavorable comparisons. Now you're going to have to retract your last post, stop using the ramen anecdote, and issue a full apology to the American people.

Sorry about the bad news. I’m sure none of us expected the Americans to pull this trick. Those bastards!

12:46 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Zos-

I'm truly disappointed. But I suspect that when the problem goes nationwide, I'll be vindicated. So I think I'll keep the ramen anecdote for now, because by the time the bk appears, the rioting may have occurred. But if not, you can say: "Nyaa, nyaa!"

mb

5:01 AM  
Blogger Dave Clark said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9:00 AM  
Anonymous Banana Head said...

MB,

Indeed, a brain transplant followed by a mind transplant would be the only way to change the clowns. And because neither of these things is possible, the clowns will continue down the path they are on, getting worse and worse with age; when they end up bitter and alone in their old age, they will blame everyone but themselves for their predicament.

That's another very American trait: refusing to take responsibility for one's actions. It's always the irredeemable evilness of the Other that makes them do what is only right and necessary, be it dropping A-bombs on urban areas, torturing tens of thousands of people, or dooming most humans and most species on the planet by making environmental reform impossible for any country.

Americans effortlessly create drama wherever they go. For them, abusing people for no reason, whether on a blog or at home, is second nature. They feel they have a right to abuse others, due to their narcissism, and never apologize for anything they do, no matter how destructive. Smith's behavior is basically a microcosm of America.

I do have a confession, however. I am Noah, the guy you didn't want to talk to about a year and a half ago, lol. I had not yet recovered from autism, which I acquired as an infant due to the greed of a horrible, conscienceless doctor. You see, I had a terrible reaction to a vaccine, and she kept on giving me more of it until I became fully autistic, because, you know, she wanted the money. I recovered from it recently, but millions of Americans are not so lucky...

So we're cool now, MB?

9:55 AM  
Anonymous Frankistan said...

Thanks Zosima for the following:

http://news.msn.com/us/tap-water-may-be-out-for-days-after-wva-spill

"Sorry about the bad news. I’m sure none of us expected the Americans to pull this trick. Those bastards!"

What can I say?

Thanks Edward for the following; Noelle Roni said my mind for me:

"The kids are humiliated. They’re branded. It’s disrespectful. Where’s the human compassion? And these are little children"

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/09/noelle-roni-fired_n_4569907.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular

Finally, I will say this: I am a victim. You are victims. Every American standing patiently for days in West Virginia to get some clean water is a victim. If not, B will not be living in Mexico and this blog would not exist.

Now TRUE/SMART Wafers can pounce on me!

10:13 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dave Clark-

Pls post only once every 24 hrs, thank you.

Noah-

Who is 'she'? And I too have a confession: I never knew one cd be cured from autism. But I'm extremely happy to hear it, and welcome back to the blog. I'm sorry abt events of 1.5 yrs ago, but yr messages were literally incoherent, and trying to untangle them was exhausting; I just didn't have the time. Anyway, the ones from 'Banana' have been smart and to the pt, so when you say 'recovered', u ain't kidding. Congratulations.

Muted-

I didn't read yr last attempt to post. Pls don't come up w/another alias. It's really no use: whatever the handle, you show yr true colors. All of this is quite tedious, and why yr still lurking around is a mystery to me. I'm abs. certain you've got better things to do, and as for me, I don't intend to be reading yr stuff, entiendes? So pls, go somewhere else. Thank you, and all the best.

Frank-

Oh, sure it wd; it began 4 mos. b4 I hit the rd.

mb

10:52 AM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Banana,

“Why Americans arrive at school… hopelessly crippled both mentally and morally?” That’s a tall order, but let’s see what I can do in half a page.

A number of things are operating synergistically within American society, in various proportions within different subcultures.

1. Several generations of Americans have grown up with television which has turned the US into an intellectual wasteland. Screen technology causes permanent neurological damage to children, shortening attention spans and rendering many incapable of imagination and critical thinking.

2. Taylorism: Over the 20th Century most jobs have had the thinking, planning, imagination, and craftsmanship taken out of the work. Adam Smith himself correctly predicted that this could make workers “as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to become.”

3. America’s small nuclear family is a bizarre anomaly in human history which causes diminished home life – latchkey kids with lousy role models. Many kids enter school without ever witnessing an intelligent conversation among adults.

4. Consumer culture offers only what Dr. Berman calls “substitute satisfactions” which leave most Americans thinking like crack addicts.

5. Advertising and marketing have produced a youth culture in which kids detach from adults and virtually raise each other.

6. A critical mass of dumb kids establishes a culture within each class and school thereby stifling those kids who are capable of learning.

7. That so many kids are overfed but malnourished sugar junkies doesn’t help either. Children and teenagers are coming down with what used to be called ‘age-onset’ diabetes!

8. Finally, schools are designed to produce obedient workers, and No Child Left Behind forces teachers to concentrate on coaching for standardized tests.

If there was only one cause there might be hope that the situation could be turned around. But almost every aspect of American society is coming together to produce intractable moronic CRE.

What say Wafers?

David Rosen

1:06 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Good day Dr. Berman and Wafers,

An interesting article by Andrew J. Bacevich in today's LA Times. It doesn't go far enough, of course, but it's still worth a read. Take care Wafers.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/commentary/la-oe-bacevich-failed-wars-20140112,0,5920178.story#axzz2qCxkYmWH

Jeff

1:06 PM  
Anonymous Captain Spaulding said...

An interesting article from last November. In all our discussions about America's imperial decline and fall, there's still the even more sobering specter of climate change:

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

All best,

- The capt.

3:01 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

Dovidel wrote:

"2. Taylorism: Over the 20th Century most jobs have had the thinking, planning, imagination, and craftsmanship taken out of the work."

Would you say we'd be justified if we were to criticize the workers who held these jobs for the workplace transformations that made these people either less employable or totally unemployable? For whatever legitimate criticisms we might level at Americans and American workers, could we justifiably fault them for not being better educated or for not anticipating the changes that would deprive them of their livelihoods?

Richard Wolff speaks--and writes--about these shifts (automation/computerization and global telecommunications) and their role in making increasing numbers of American workers redundant.

Certain commentators, the politicians they influence, and the people who embrace these ideas--some of them victims themselves of the workplace upheavals--have a prescription for the unemployed, without allowing for the variations in circumstance that make this or that worker no longer of use to the capitalist machine: namely, more education/training/retraining.

Somehow this advice seems not quite sufficient to meet the needs of either the individual affected or society he inhabits.

4:47 PM  
Anonymous Edward said...

I wanted to select key quotes. However, every word and every sentence will remind you why America is dying. Read and learn – it contains all gems of waferism!

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/01/the-agony-of-frank-luntz/282766/

8:30 PM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...

Dovidel,

That is a great list. Very insightful and could not agree more.

James Allen,

Weather workers in Tayloristic production lines can be criticized and whether we are justified in doing so does not matter one bit. I suppose soldiers in the wermacht or red army could be critized and one could say if they only had different work place skills the world would be a better place. etc. Again pointless. The issue at hand are social systems and culture. Americans are douchebags and most are dumb as nails. Its a deep problem and like I have often stated in this blog--there are no solutions for most things In your note you seem to imply (hint) that critics and observers ought to offer solutions to the conditions and or tendencies they observe. I think there is no responsibility on the part of the critic and social observer like Dovidel, MB, or anyone to offer up solutions to the planet, nation of some poor miserable former las vegas mortgage broker turned stripper and crack addict. And well, as a practical matter research on training programs shows they don't work.

9:40 PM  
OpenID atearinrain said...

Hey, it's alright if you've got little more to blog about. What you've already written has been a great help, which is more than I can say for most other contemporary authors. Most of Why America Failed was a confirmation of thoughts I had formulated 'on my own,' and it was very nice to read at least one other person write it. 95% of The Reenchantment of the World just completely blew my mind, however. I read SSIG yesterday, and afterwards I felt better immediately. Your work has a powerful healing effect, especially this one. If you're pondering what to blog about, I would suggest more of this compassionate and spiritual stuff. This Wafer has spent a good deal of time thinking about the decline and collapse of our civilization, but have been yearning for my pleasant thoughts with which to occupy my mind. Again, you get an A+ for SSIG. Guessing from your blog alone, one wouldn't expect the BerMan to have such a big heart. But after reading The Reenchantment of the World, I knew ya had it in ya.

9:47 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Singin' in the rain-

Aw, shucks. Well ya know, people are complicated; they have more than one side to them. I hafta be a tad harsh on this blog because (a) I don't have a lot of patience w/the progressive position that things can be turned around; they can't; and (b) because we are inundated by rude assholes, trolls, and general all-out buffoons, and I need to pound them into the dirt so that they'll go somewhere else already; tho they usually ain't gd at taking a hint. Anyway, it's not like the various parts aren't connected; it's just that ya hafta emphasize different ones in different contexts.

Keep the faith, bro-

mb

10:35 PM  
Anonymous Maurice Ravel's blue suit said...

Dovidel,

A good list. I think it's mostly a GIGO (garbage in, garbage out) problem, one that is inextricably linked to the bad side of a market state such as ours (yes, there is a good side). As Morris points out often, even people with IQs of 160 can nevertheless be utter morons, akin to stuffing a top shelf computer with nonsense.

Part of the problem is selling and the lowest common denominator (LCD): First, selling to the LCD is important because in doing so we reach the largest audience and thus maximize profit potential, but it means we have to pander downward rather than attempt to elevate culture. It is easier to produce things too when we do this. Making quality things takes time and effort and talent. Making garbage things doesn't, and we can thus make more of them. Easier to make a dumb pop song or manufacture a pop star overnight than it is to write a symphony. So Gaga lives while various orchestras die. The only problem then is one of selling the garbage - which is to say there is no problem at all in a place where advertisers will find you even if you try to hide from them. And a dumb consumer is a better consumer anyway, so win-win.

I think about the cultural things that are pitched to society and shake my head. Thus, while I've been forced to know about Miley Cyrus wagging her skinny bottom around or every detail of Michael Jackson's life, the average American would struggle (and fail) to name 10 famous paintings or half a dozen famous composers or other such things. It's a society that now actively pitches against the humanities as a viable education choice.

Americans are also painfully Americo-centric. Ask your average person who the first person on the moon was, and a fair number will know about Neil Armstrong and name him. Ask about the first guy in space and with few exceptions you'll either get "I don't know" or "some Russian." It is extremely rare that you'll hear Gagarin's name, especially among those who weren't around in the '50s and '60s. We know that the Wright brothers invented the airplane, but not who invented the automobile (most who even know his name these days will hilariously name Henry Ford). We go through brief surges, called booms, when one of our American sons wins some world-class competitive event that we would ordinarily ignore, then go back to ignoring it when the American cedes dominance (See: Bobby Fischer and the brief chess boom of 1972, little bicycle booms when Americans win the TdF, etc.) If it's not American, we don't want to know about it, and we are certainly the worst offender in our reluctance to learn a second language.

There's a lot more, but this is what I would add to your list. That teachers get blamed for the problems of educating our children rather than the overriding culture itself is just sad.

1:05 AM  
Anonymous Banana Rotten!!! said...

Dovidel,

Those are all good points. I'll add these to your list:

9.) American culture has become completely militarized. This entails embracing military values: blind obedience, anti-intellectualism, aggression, and a complete lack of love or empathy;

10.) American culture has become inundated with Christian fundamentalism, which crushes curiosity, intellectual discussion, objectivity and compassion in favor of beliefs that are completely detached from the real world, ignorance about everything except the Bible, and hatred of anyone who isn't a Christian fundamentalist;

11.) Most American parents go through the motions of taking care of their children, and attempt to manipulate them into feeling loved, when in reality, they do not love their children at all. These children are painfully aware that they are not being loved; this sets the stage for craving the substitute satisfactions that you mentioned.

12.) In many American families, discussion of the painful contradiction between a parent's attempt to make a child feel loved and his or her lack of love for the child cannot be discussed. Even worse, the mere awareness of this contradiction is punished with subtle forms of abuse and neglect. This gives rise to the habit of engaging in self-delusional fantasies, as well as the creation of tens of millions of supremely fucked-up individuals on the larger scale.

13.) American parents have nothing of value to pass onto their kids, with the exception of money and property. They are, in fact, infantile, which leads to the sorry de facto situation of children being raised by children.

MB,

I don't remember the name of that doctor, but because of her, I had no ability to enjoy life for 30 years. My autism wasn't cured by any treatment; rather, I spontaneously recovered from it. My brain must have gone through a long healing process. I'm pretty skeptical that autism can really be cured by medical treatment; I went to a lot of quack doctors that promised me a cure and delivered nothing except a bill for their services. In any event, it *is* great to have recovered from it, and I'm glad you find my posts to be worthwhile.

7:59 AM  
Anonymous JWO said...

MB/WAF-ers: Maybe the techno-buffoons really will kill themselves off:

http://www.startribune.com/local/239902971.html

David: Good list and I'll add Nature Deficit Disorder to the list. I've been re-reading Richard Louv's book (http://richardlouv.com/books/last-child/) for some tips on how to get my niece out at about. One thing I didn't think about is how "strapped in" strollers/seats/backpacks kids are, even when outside for a hike.

8:57 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

jwo-

Gd article! Americans are such a collection of douche bags.

Mr. Linden-

A tragedy, what happened 2u, really. I'm just glad yr back among the living. To the list, pls add 14: Massive douchebaggery. This is also called a buffoonami, i.e. a tsunami of morons. From outside the country, we are viewed as the #1 threat to world peace; and the citizens as rubes. Just pick a random one walking down the street, try having a conversation.

mb

9:37 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Zos-

Secret of patience of WV residents re: water shortage revealed: they're drinking Coke! Not same thing as Fukushima, I fear. We'll hafta wait for water shortage *plus* nothing on shelves in stores, for a true analogy, to test the mettle of our fellow countrymen. Bonzai!

mb

9:45 AM  
Blogger bowtiejack said...

Dr. B:

More confirmation of your work and the decline we're in.

A University of North Carolina professor is under attack (including apparently from her own University) and receiving death threats for her study finding that 60% of their athletes read at less than an 8th grade level, and 10% at less than a 3rd grade level.

http://www.universityherald.com/articles/6767/20140111/unc-academic-scandal-literacy-study-author-mary-willingham-receiving-death-threats.htm

I had previously posted a link showing the highest paid employee in most states was either a football or basketball coach (it's basketball in North Carolina).

http://patriceayme.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/highest-paid-us-public-employees-by-state1.jpg?w=629&h=353

All this is eerily reminiscent of Kurt Vonnegut's novel Player Piano (1952!) where the universities abandon the pretense of educating athletes and just have professional teams (even as they now have professional coaches).

I haven't found anything where the NC professor has been called a "communist" yet, but I'm sure that's coming.

9:46 AM  
Blogger Dave Clark said...

jwo said: "Just pick a random one walking down the street, try having a conversation."

Easier than that: Just listen to the conversations people are having in public places. Nearly everything you'll hear will fall into one (or more) of the following categories: food, power (conflict/aggression/violence), TV, sports, sex.

10:17 AM  
Blogger Publius said...

Dear fellow WAFer:
It's good to be back.
My wife and I had one of the worst experiences of our lives at the company holiday party this past weekend.
The company must have spent well over $100,000 on this bizarre extravaganza, with too much cheap booze, a terrible and terribly load cover band that performed bizarre costume changes between almost every song, and heart-attack inducing "appetizers" in lieu of snacks. Plus we had to drive over 3 hours through a snowstorm and fog to get there!

I'm glad I went, though.. the utter inanity of it. The insult: they could have boosted everyone's salary about at least $1k per year - money a lot of us need for things like food, shelter, clothing, education, and medical care.
But no... it was spent on complete inanity. I guess the locals who served us and arranged the thing and cleaned up afterwards benefited...

I'm glad we went, because it made it even more clear that we need out.

Our CEO also caused me a moment of mental anguish when he used the phrase, "the devices that we all love," in reference to the Iphoneys, iPads, and smartphones that make up much of our market (as a tech company).

I don't love devices... I felt somewhat isolated at that moment.

JWO: we need to meet in real life. It's getting harder for me to tolerate the charade without meeting people who aren't deluded. I have a few such people around, but the more the merrier!

"The devices that we all love so much... " Ouch.

11:10 AM  
Anonymous Holzwege said...

Dovidel's attempt at responding to Banana's question “Why Americans arrive at school… hopelessly crippled both mentally and morally?” is keenly perceptive.

Banana Rotten's contribution to it is also worth meditating about.

I am in agreement with the points made by both.

11:38 AM  
Anonymous Bingo said...

Wafers,

It will take a real miracle for the Empire to recover from this "Sans-Culottes" Suez Moment:

http://rt.com/news/pants-subway-ride-underwear-486/

Julian

12:00 PM  
Anonymous Pauli said...

Chris Hedges nails it:

"Christie is the caricature of a Third World despot. He has a vicious temper, a propensity to bully and belittle those weaker than himself, an insatiable thirst for revenge against real or perceived enemies, and little respect for the law and, as recent events have made clear, for the truth. He is gripped by a bottomless hedonism that includes a demand for private jets, huge entourages, exclusive hotels and lavish meals. Wall Street and the security and surveillance apparatus want a real son of a b*tch in power, someone with the moral compass of Al Capone, in order to ruthlessly silence and crush those of us who are working to overthrow the corporate state. They have had enough of what they perceive to be Barack Obama's softness. Christie fits the profile and he is drooling for the opportunity."

http://www.opednews.com/articles/Chris-Hedges-The-Trouble-by-Chris-Hedges-Chris-Christie-140113-25.html

12:51 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Pauli-

Then Christie is my man. I doubt he'll get the GOP nomination, but if he does I'll work hard to get him elected. While the country has steadily disintegrated under Ovomit, Christie would clearly accelerate the process. We need as much violence and stupidity as we can get at this pt. Hopefully he'll pick Sarah as his running mate.

mb

1:27 PM  
Blogger GregJS said...

Post-Autistic Banana, Dovidel, and others,

I always feel torn about entering into conversations about how we get so screwed up as children in this society because, from my POV, the essential things never get said - because they cannot be said. And in my experience, any attempt to even suggest this much - that there is so much more to say - does not get far. But then it always feels wrong to keep my mouth shut, too. So...

While I don’t doubt that the sorts of things that you and others have articulated (here on this blog but also anywhere else the topic of “what the hell happened to us?” comes up) are significant contributing factors, an even larger problem, as I’ve come to see it, is that the very most damaging, injurious things that happen to us in civilized childhood are SO damaging that they force us to shut down our very capacity to even know/feel that they happened to us. The result is that we - and I’m talking about civilized peoples as a whole, but the most highly modernized, westernized peoples especially - have never (even in all of our psychological sophistication since Freud; and partly because of it) developed the language or concepts to recognize and articulate this deeper level of damage. This in turn keeps us focused on the things we can articulate, setting up a negative cycle where we keep damaging ourselves more and more on the level that has been rendered unknowable precisely because it has been rendered unknowable. It’s like the joke where the person goes looking at night under the streetlamp for the dime he dropped because it’s easier to see there - even though he knows he dropped the dime somewhere else. As a society, we’re constrained to look for explanations for “what happened to us” only in the areas already considered to be “real” - the areas where we already have the words/concepts to create explanations. But what we've lost lies somewhere else.

Banana, your points 11, 12, and 13 are very much in the realm of what I'm referring to. It’s just that the specifically most crippling aspects of the “lack of love for the child” that you refer to have remained, as far as I've seen (and as odd as this must sound), completely unspoken.

Really, this is such a thorny problem, it can hardly be broached. And it’s an all-or-nothing deal - it’s not possible to say “just a little bit” about it (not that this blog would be the place to do that anyways) without either being totally misunderstood or sounding like a coo-coo because, being so far outside established areas of discourse, any attempt to broach it gets shut down immediately. I’ve been working for the past couple years to come up with the minimal amount of explanation that will make these things intelligible - and several hundred pages in, it’s still growing. So really, all I’m trying to do at the moment is put in a little plug for the idea that, if we seem like royally screwed up people - and it’s pretty obvious we are - there may be WAY more to the story of why this is so than has even been hinted at anywhere in our entire intellectual/academic/scientific tradition. If I ever do manage to get my version of this down (my own little rhino that I’m trying to squeeze out), I’ll post it somewhere for anyone else who’s into this kind of psychological stuff.

1:44 PM  
Anonymous Golf Pro said...

Not been paying much attention to the USA recently as I am transfixed by Francois Hollande's shagging antics.

Could Obama be persuaded to get on the back of a scooter and surreptitiously visit the apartment of a young actress for python-hiding merriment?

Would make a nice change from usual US news i.e. extreme weather, mass shootings etc.

1:50 PM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...

To laugh or cry?

Guy drops phone in icy river and dives after it--he dies, companion dies too....and has friends who try to save him natch....here you go: http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2014/01/13/man-dead-woman-missing-after-falling-in-icy-river/

This goes to Dovidel's point--Americans are by and large stupid at the molecular level.

At coffee today with a grad school chum who is about to retire from NIH I was told that 10% of american children are diagnosed with ADHD and are medicated with essentially amphetamines. The rate in France is .01% (for math challenged that is one tenth of one percent). Can't wait to see how these kiddies will turn out......

2:32 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

James Allen,

Thanks for your comments on what I wrote, but I think we’re talking about different things. My post may have been somewhat cryptic because I compressed it so much.

I wasn’t trying to laugh at, praise, or condemn anybody, but to understand (footnote: Spinoza) why kids who are incapable of much learning are showing up for school. It is clearly happening, and I was asked for the reasons why. Nor was I trying to give advice to anybody.

Moreover, Taylorism isn’t about eliminating workers’ jobs. It’s about transforming the work to make it more efficient, but with the unfortunate and destructive consequence of dumbing it down.

Under the management techniques developed by Fredrick Taylor, the thinking part of work has been taken over by a few managers and engineers, and most workers are left with pre-planned motions or routines which require little or no planning, imagination, thought, or craftsmanship. The classic example is the assembly line. Throughout the 20th Century, largely mindless work has been extended from manufacturing to clerical work and on throughout the work force. I've seen it take over medical laboratory work, and computer technology now makes it possible to dumb down the majority of jobs.

After WW II, industry and other employers started introducing automation, and then outsourcing to the Third World, in order to reduce the need for American workers. Apparently that’s what Richard Wolff is talking about, which is an altogether different matter.

I suppose the personal and social costs of dumbed-down jobs with stupefied workers, and indirectly their uneducable children, is one more example of how capitalists profit by externalizing costs. Environmental destruction is another.

In any case, I don’t have a solution, and aside from emigration or some New Monastic Option, I don’t think there is one. And how many Americans would listen to, or could even comprehend that?

David Rosen

2:54 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Capo-

That's one-hundredth of a percent, actually.

Greg-

Try to limit posts to 1/2 a page, if u can. Thanks.

mb

4:20 PM  
Anonymous Politically Incorrect said...

Tis the season, just give em' a reason...

http://news.yahoo.com/mexican-vigilantes-seize-drug-cartel-bastion-220248151.html

I say just "give em' a reason" because you have to read the comments section to see all the gringo gun nuts salivating over the chance to go on a killing spree...

The glorification of Vigilantes as saviors really paints a picture of where we're headed... I'm thinking what they're thinking is now's their chance to settle some scores, "clean house"... forget the 'drug' excuse... if vigilantism is legitimized then it's open season... for any reason... forget the politicians, the system, the police, or even the real culprits... heck, they want to kill something! and damn you if you get in their way! Comments talking about making examples of ...people on food stamps, healthcare, whatever... like what the hell does any of that have to do with what's going on in some isolated town in Mexico?


Anyway, further downward we go I guess...

6:56 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

Mr Rosen:

Thanks for taking time to expand on your original comment. The challenges associated with carrying on discussions in cyberspace, with space limitations and all the other handicaps that can lead to incomplete communication or misunderstanding, eh?

Perhaps at some future Belman World Assembly we can sit down face-to-face and offer our respective views on international affairs, speculate on where it might be most profitable to search for Jimmy Hoffa, and sketch out our ideas for an appropriate [Belman] team T-shirt.

Thanks again.

7:00 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Good day Dr. Berman and Wafers,

Texting in a theater leads to a double shooting. A male texter was shot dead and his wife wounded in the violent spectacle. Suspect in question, Curtis Reeves, is a retired police officer.

http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/13/justice/florida-movie-theater-shooting/index.html?hpt=ju_c2

7:04 PM  
Anonymous Dr. Hackenbush said...

GregJS- Doesn't sound coo-coo to me, but it does beg for further elaboration. Do you have a blog or anything where you can explicate this at greater length? Or maybe if you strung it over a few brief posts here you could get the gist of it across? Also, is it mostly your own analysis, or can you cite anybody who has informed your thinking on this?

Of course "Banana Head" introduced the topic in his list - I have to admit I never thought of American parents as particularly unloving of their own children; I mean yes, in the sense that this blog discusses the damaging effects of American culture, that relationship would be part and parcel of it all. But the family to me does seem to have remained, relatively speaking, a "haven in a heartless world," an exception to pure mercenary motives, for many people. Not all, but for many; I think a lot of people must think, at some level, "I can't change any of that, out there; but my own family can be a refuge." Of course it's not that simple, and may not work as they desire, but they still feel differently about those who are part of that non-market community. It's a bit over my head though, and maybe my generalities are based on faulty impressions, or sentimental cliches or something.

8:15 PM  
Anonymous ellen said...

GregJS said:

'As a society, we’re constrained to look for explanations.'

I am not a believer but something of what you are getting at has been addressed by religious folks of many varieties since the beginning of time.
Here is one lucid treatment of it (as an ebook pdf)
'The Cloud of Unknowing' that might assist in your own labours:

http://www.catholicspiritualdirection.org/cloudunknowing.pdf

And you're right, 'it’s an all-or-nothing deal.' Explanations, rather than clarifying, lead away from what you are trying to get to, which is why the above is an instruction manual and why I like films with virtually no dialogue.

Here's Run Run Shaw's fabulous Hollywood take on a Philip K Dick story:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_saUN4j7Gw

10:22 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

Zos-
Secret of patience of WV residents re: water shortage revealed: they're drinking Coke! Not same thing as Fukushima, I fear. We'll hafta wait for water shortage *plus* nothing on shelves in stores, for a true analogy, to test the mettle of our fellow countrymen. Bonzai!

Comparing the behavior of Japanese nuclear workers, who are no doubt trained to deal with emergencies, with the behavior of sneaker crazed teens from America’s poorest ghettos is hardly a true analog. But by making it, you seem to be suggesting that similar workers in the US, in an emergency, would not cooperate, and would instead act like ghetto teens. I find your analogy dubious and easily refuted. Workers in the US and throughout the world have behaved just like the Japanese in those kinds of situations (workers trapped in coal mines, etc.).

“We'll hafta wait for water shortage *plus* nothing on shelves in stores, for a true analogy, to test the mettle of our fellow countrymen.”

The only one I can think of is Joplin Mo -- the whole town was wiped out by a tornado. You got anything on them?

11:31 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jas-

In case u didn't know, the World Belman Summit Conference is already in the planning stage. It will take place in less than 17 mos.--a mere blink o' the eye--in Ireland, 1-5 June 2015. If we run the sessions from 8 a.m. to midnight every day, we shd be able to exhaust all possible topics, and nobody will be limited to half a page or speaking only once every 24 hrs, you'll be glad to know. In fact, I'll just shut up and listen 2u guys, altho I may take notes for a new bk: "Beyond Douchebaggery: The Belman Alternative." Catchy title, eh wot? Actually, that wd also make for a gd Wafer T-shirt, front and back.

Jeff-

Life follows art. Be sure 2c a film called "God Bless America." Quite honestly, I've tried to find reasons for not passing legislation making the public use of cell phones a capital crime, and I cdn't come up with a single one.

Hack, Greg-

I have no problems with people starting a thread on a topic with 1 daily installment, max 1/2 page, for weeks on end. We cd run several of them simultaneously. No reason not to carry on some penetrating intellectual analyses over time, given the fact that this is the only blog in cyberspace worth paying any attn to; as all of u recognize, I'm sure. With the trolls and buffoons driven back under the rocks out of wh/they originally crawled, we can now start to explore some innovative approaches to blogging. Personally, I wish it were possible to use the blog to release some kind of skunk fluid, to spray on the morons and douchebags who keep hanging around (it might also be gd for use in movie theaters, on cell fone users). I do feel kinda sorry for them: their noses pressed to the glass, so to speak, seeing the elite having an elegant party, to which they will never be invited. But these turds brought it on themselves, shot themselves in the foot, and are now condemned to Utter Darkness. Poor buggers; too stupid to exercise even elementary courtesy, willing to strut like peacocks even if it means they'll never get another shot w/the only blog worth writing into. Poor stupid buggers.

Anyway, Wafers are encouraged to think of possible month-long threads we might wanna pursue:

1. Why do morons exile themselves from the blog, via their own stupidity?

2. Greg's theme (by which he becomes a kind of sub-blogger)

3. DR's theme (ditto)

4. Cell phone use as a capital crime, pro and con

5. Mr. Linden, didju wanna add one? (American parents as an unmitigated disaster, etc.)

6. The 2016 Lorenzo Riggins presidential bid

7. Jacks are wild

mb

12:04 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Zos-

Well, u cd be rt, but I have the impression yr comparing apples w/oranges. 1st, Fukishima workers aren't necessarily trained for a situation like that, which was accidental, unexpected, and aberrant; this is just the Japanese way of behaving in groups--something I guess yr not very familiar with. My pt is that the WV residents can afford to be patient because they can buy water in stores. You pointed to their patience as equivalent to the patience shown by workers at Fukishima, which is rather dubious: Going out to a store was not an option available to the latter. And there are no sneaker-crazed teens in Japan, getting into fist fights over running shoes; they just don't behave that way. When there's a sale in a Japanese dept. store, they don't trample a few people to death and then refuse to get out of the way when the medics arrive--this has happened more than once in the US at Wal-Mart sales. Serious differences in national character is a fact of life; whole libraries are devoted to the subject. I don't know abt workers in coal mines (is there anything to fight over in those situations?), but I do know that newspapers around the world commented on the Fukushima workers, and how exceptional that behavior was. Finally, I'm not sure what Joplin has to do w/anything: yr sarcastic way of arguing? (not appreciated, OK?)

mb

1:44 AM  
Anonymous Banana Head said...

Greg and other WAFers,

I think perhaps I can shed some light on the "unspoken" level that you speak of. It has to do with who Americans are, why they are valued, and the meaning of their existence.

In America, people define themselves entirely by comparison with others: how much they hold a leg up in the worldwide competition, the war of all against all. (E.g., how much richer you are than your neighbors, how much sexier you are than your "friends".) Being imprisoned in such a self-definition, Americans do not attach intrinsic value to their own lives, or the lives of others; their overvaluation of themselves is basically a defense mechanism, not an expression of confidence or self-love.

As Americans have learned to value themselves and others only for their "productivity", they never really have a moment's respite from the inner torment, since by that definition, only infinite productivity - an impossibility - would allow them to love themselves. Coupled with an identity based only on competitive comparison, this literally reduces the chance of happiness to negative infinity for a typical American. Even when Americans are ostensibly enjoying themselves or socializing, they're not having fun; they're working hard at attaining a competitive advantage over others in the vain hope that if they succeed enough, maybe they'll finally be happy.

On to the third part of the equation: in such a context, life not only becomes meaningless; it becomes a curse, something to be hated and destroyed. And this, I posit, is why America is slowly committing suicide, and attempting to take the whole world down in tandem with its suicidal frenzy.

To sum all this up: the emotional scars we carry around inside are the result of having the American way of death (not life) imposed upon us. We are among a tiny handful of Americans who have escaped from this way of death.

2:08 AM  
Anonymous Golf Pro said...

Do WAFers approve or disapprove?

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/14/man-shot-dead-at-movies-for-texting

5:29 AM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

A complementary item to JeffT's Tampa movie theater shooting incident, this one also involving a cell phone:

http://www.newser.com/story/180639/2-dead-after-man-dives-into-river-for-his-cell-phone.html

A trifold tragedy, as two would-be rescuers attempting to help the phone owner themselves become victims: a female missing and a male in critical condition.

6:46 AM  
Anonymous DiogenesTheElder said...

GregJS --

In response to the pages you have written - indeed, I am interested in such questions. If you haven't already, check out the work of Alice Miller.

I work in two contexts in an attempt to increase kindness towards children. In fact, just yesterday the semester began with one of my university courses. It was (and is always, I'm afraid) a shock to hear how college students think about children's behavior.

Appreciate your posts.

To all others who post regularly and MB for facilitating the blog - thank you. I am filled with gratitude for such kindred spirits.

DTE

8:15 AM  
Anonymous JWO said...

Publius: I lost your phone number so I sent you an email.

WAF-ers: Sorry no links today about the downfall of America, but how about Suntory buying Beam?

http://www.latimes.com/food/dailydish/la-dd-japanese-company-buys-jim-beam-20140113,0,6185633.story

I never liked Beam anyway, I like Old Grand-dad better. Though Yamazaki, made by Suntory, isn't bad!

8:41 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dio-

I think the question of how a society treats its children is probably the best indicator of what that society is about. For the crucial importance of the 1st 5 yrs of life, check out ch. 1 of CTOS. No love in that early period and u.r. essentially doomed. The abuse of kids, in any form, has to be one of the worst things in the world, given that they are so helpless.

Golf, Jas-

One thing about modern technology is that finally it begins to backfire, causing more problems than it originally solved. The avg rate of speed of a car in Manhattan these days, e.g., is 9 mph--! It was much higher 40 yrs ago. As for the movie theater incident, I recommend the film "God Bless America." Also, I think shooting the guy may have been a tad over the top; if he had taken the guy's cell fone away and then beaten him to death w/it, it wd have been more appropriate: symmetrical, and even a bit poetic, really.

mb

10:44 AM  
Blogger Publius said...

I'd like to relate a positive experience that happened in the USA!

I was at my favorite local pub on Sunday evening, having recovered from the scandalous waste of the company party. Just chatting with a friend from up north who is running for office. He's a good chap - no really original ideas, or any idea of how f-ed up the nation is. But he wants to do good. He may... he has a good heart.

Anyway, I recognized a gentleman who is a bit senior to Prof. Berman... an old biology professor. One of my favorites, who used to spice his lectures on cell biology with asides about social justice, the evils of the American system, etc.

I got up the nerve, and said hi. Sat down and chatted with him and his charming young daughter, who is a senior in theater at an elite eastern school. What great people!

The daughter was rationally concerned with her post-college prospects. I didn't try to overly alarm her, not wanting to advocate emigration or NMI stuff so quickly.

Anyway, there are good people out there... Prof. Berman likes to use a broad brush to paint Americans as stupid. Sometimes I think that might cause those of us still in the USA to despair of meeting good people, but it simply isn't true that there are no smart, articulate, sensitive people to be found. I keep meeting them, if I look carefully!

Regarding the thread here on children: yes, the abuse of children (and other groups) is actually celebrated by the authoritarian personalities who rule this sad nation. It's time to stand up to bullies wherever you see them. Governor Christie is a pathetic loser... he should be shouted down, rather than indulged or run away from.

11:29 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Pub-

Please! I never said all Americans were stupid. I said 99.9% of them were. This leaves .001 x 315,000,000 = 315,000 who are not stupid. Probably a major overestimation, but I'll concede it as a possibility. Anyway, glad to hear you have managed to stumble upon the ones in this category; most of us, I suspect, are not so lucky. (The # of officially registered Wafers, BTW, is 134. Somebody calculate for me what % that is of 315 million.)

mb

11:39 AM  
Anonymous Edward said...

America, the land of the free and the insane. An ex-cop knows nothing but how to take guns to movie theaters and how to use the guns to resolve simple conflicts.

The ex-cop is not a 20 years old thug. Rather, he is a 71 years old who retired 20 years ago from the police force. You cannot make up these things even if you are a genius:

Chad Oulson, Slain Moviegoer, Was Texting Toddler Daughter Before Curtis Reeves Shot Him

http://news.yahoo.com/man-shot-dead-over-texting-dispute-florida-theater-010200912.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/14/chad-oulson-movie-text_n_4594450.html

11:44 AM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...

MB,

You point on the treatment of children is spot on and very much overlooked--it is central to the long term well being of society and it tells you about the values of society.

While there are horrific cases of abuse of all sorts, the more insidious and accepted forms of neglect and abuse are also alarming. No real maternal leave, Kids as young as 2 medicated with psychiactric drugs, mothers discouraged from breastfeeding, putting toddlers in front of TV.s for hours on end or giving them tablets and of course food....Daycare centers which remind me of things I saw in romainia and well how well can a child be treated in a place in a shopping center. The fact that the U.S. leads the world in horrible exploitative pornography of the vulnerable is also sickening. Bottom line--Americans do not give a damn about anybody, not even children, mentally ill or elderly. Horrible people and government.

12:10 PM  
Anonymous Politically Incorrect said...

and so the lights dim a little more...

http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-57617199-38/appeals-court-strikes-down-fccs-net-neutrality-rules/

maybe we eventually resort back to smoke signals?

2:16 PM  
Blogger GregJS said...

Hack - The gist: civilized life injures, more than anything else, one essential component of our psyches; we become defensively shut down as a result - especially at this level of the psyche; this injury then gets perpetuated endlessly because it renders its cause unknowable and its effects unintelligible. Sort of like if breaking a leg was so painful that it caused us to shut down our awareness of having legs - which then caused us to keep breaking them. If you don’t even know you have legs anymore, what can you do about all the problems that broken legs cause? So restoring normal, felt awareness of this part of us breaks the cycle. But even this gist obscures more than it reveals. That’s what I meant by “it’s an all or nothing deal.” This stuff only makes sense when all the pieces are included. I don’t have this - the full picture - online yet, but hope to within a few months. The articulation of this component of the psyche - what it is, how it functions, how civilized life injures it, etc. - is a new concept, as far as I’m aware.

Banana - Your analysis seems right on. I think what I’m talking about might just be a different level of explanation of what you’re talking about (and that the excellent 1st chapter of CTOS and Alice Miller - or anyone else in the psychology field I know of - talk about). Seems we’re all in agreement that our way of life induces/rests on/expresses/reinforces certain kinds of childhood mistreatment. I’m just adding that there may be a whole other part of the psyche that is most particularly injured and shut-down by this - and that for this very reason is rendered unknowable.

ellen - Yes, very true that spiritual seekers and artists also refer to things we can’t express - although for different reasons than what I’m referring to here, which is not really spiritual or aesthetic-expressive in nature (although it has implications for these areas of life). Any “higher” capacities generally require dedicated cultivation. The component of the psyche I’m talking about is fully functional from birth (think of it as a foundation, not a steeple), but civilized life shuts it down. That’s why we can’t express this. This problem really is as simple and mundane as a broken leg. But it’s part of the psyche, not the physical body, so that makes it a bit harder to articulate; but still, the main reason we can’t express it is that civilized childhood totally shuts it down.

2:25 PM  
Blogger Jack Lattemann said...

Per your request, I calculate the Wafer proportion to be 0.00000043 of the USA population. Perhaps we should start calling this the W-Factor.

On the literary front, have you found English-language and Japanese-language publishers yet for your book on Japan? I am looking forward to the paperback edition of WAF this spring, as I've been unable to find any of the hardbacks except at antiquarian prices. (WAF has already been priced as a "classic"?!)

2:44 PM  
Anonymous sanctuary! said...

Banana Head, thank u for an accurate & brilliant analysis in yr comment (above at "2:08 AM"). It really spoke to me - it's my own thoughts too, stated far better & briefer than I could ever hope to do. U nailed it! Dave Rosen's list was superb, too.

Has anyone seen the corny old flick "Things to Come" (1936), arguing for a technocratic empire? One of the things that's good in it is the character of the buffoon gangster - a proto-Christie who rules his little fiefdom of untrammeled capitalism as "a great man." The epitome of the repulsive and repugnant Dolt. Worth lookin at.

2:56 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jack-

Well, I guess we can say that the W-Factor is small, but powerless. On the bk front:

1. Am working hard on the WAF pb edn. It's possible it cd be 4 sale online (as a print-on-demand bk) by Feb. 1st. Stay tuned to this channel for more exciting developments.

2. I finished the Japan bk on Jan. 12 at 5:30 a.m. Jesus; it was like having a cow. There's still a lot to do in terms of mop-up and editing, but it's 95% done. I'm figuring I'll send it to my agent in 1-2 wks, and to my colleagues at the U of Tokyo around the same time. My agent will look for an American publisher; and I plan to talk w/Shibata-san at UT, who translated my Reenchantment bk into Japanese decades ago, to see if he'll wanna take this on. If so, it might get published by Kokubun Sha. Spanish trans probably by Sexto Piso here in Mexico; as for the Urdu and Quechua editions: still up for grabs. More to follow.

mb

4:11 PM  
Anonymous ellen said...

GregJS,

I wasn't referring to any 'higher' capacities acquired through cultivation, dedicated or not. I would class language and verbal skills as higher capacities requiring cultivation.

I was in fact referring to something similar to a pre-verbal state (years 0-3 ish) which is where this damage that you postulate first begins. (I wouldn't use the word 'damage' as I am incredibly picky--I would refer to 'change' without weighting it with a good or bad value)

Logically these things are unknown and essentially remain unknowable because when they occurred the person experiencing them had neither language nor verbal skills to either express or examine them.

We become trapped in language which has its own rules, narratives, traps and taboos and few manage to escape its rule.
(BTW, I love language and logic, I also like to dump it when it suits me to do that.)
I would suggest that we and the anon who wrote the linked instruction manual in the middle ages are talking about the same thing-- we have just labelled it differently.

People define themselves by their 'differences' and make them super-important, when everyone begin from an undifferentiated state. Does the 'importance' come from the perceived, 'actual' differences or from the use of the definition? And who decides what is important and what is not?

That old anon had a very different goal to anything I would recognise but he sure knew what he was about. And BTW, you cannot get back to a pre-verbal state once the brain is hard-wired for language, you can't unpickle a pickle (ie, no time machine---another reason the unknown remains ever unknowable ) but you can access a close approximation after some huge effort, commitment and inevitable pratfalls--which is an education in itself.

4:26 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Wafers,

Concerning ‘lousy’ American parenting, I’m sure we all know it’s more than a matter of how much American parents love their children.

A year or two ago, in another context I sent the following post:

“I spent a lot of time with a four-generation working-class family in São Paulo back in 1982, and I was really impressed by how difficult it was to see where the family ended and the rest of the neighborhood began. The center of the house was the kitchen, and it was always a hub of warmth and friendship. In terms of material wealth and possessions, these people were surely well below the US poverty level, but I can tell you that they were in no way poor. One of the daughters (after a mistake in judgment) had been abandoned by her baby’s father. She and her baby were showered with help and affection, and I cannot imagine that anybody in such a situation could ever be driven to abuse a child – or that it would even be possible.”

“I am sure that the isolated ‘nuclear family’ is a bizarre aberration on this planet. But it is one that most Americans take as normal…”

This experience awakened me to just how inadequate even the best ‘nuclear family’ really is.

Children need to be born into an unstressed environment where they form a close bond with their mother from the moment of birth. They then need to be surrounded by unconditional love for years. And that kind of continuous unconditional love surely is beyond the capacity of any two isolated parents, especially in a capitalist society. That’s why I think this bizarre anomaly known as the ‘nuclear family’ is such a significant factor in America’s pathology.

Almost everything done in the US in terms of childbirth and childrearing is wrong! And what I’ve said is just one part of it.

David Rosen

7:59 PM  
Anonymous Dr. Hackenbush said...

Hm, well never fear MB, it appears GregJS is not going to embark on a series of sub-blog posts per my request. I will just have to wait for his blog proper, it appears.

Meanwhile, does everyone remember when I posted that "trippy" lecture about the Newtown massacre? No? Well anyway, here's a video that's trippy in its own peculiar way. I think I could watch this 10 times and it would still feel other-worldly. Not saying the guy isn't perfectly sane and rational -- it's just that he has the air of a movie character about him, and it's a little hard to fathom that it's an ostensibly dull lecture on C-SPAN3 we're watching here... He does say he's also a novelist at one point, so perhaps that explains the intensity, and the way he offhandedly dramatizes various tangential anecdotes... well, pour a glass of wine and see for yourself what kind of head-space you're in after 10 or 20 minutes: http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/Tanen#

8:46 PM  
Anonymous Banana Head said...

Sanctuary,

Thanks, I'm glad it was helpful for you. I think one little part of my analysis wasn't clear. Americans only value themselves and others for their "productivity". However, basing your self-worth on accomplishments is a recipe for endless inner torment, because it is, in fact, a form of self-hate. It dehumanizes people by causing them to attach no intrinsic value to their own lives, or the lives of others. In practice, it also causes perpetual frustration and dissatisfaction, because no matter what you accomplish, you'll always want to accomplish more. People who are driven to succeed can only be satisfied by infinite accomplishment, fame and fortune, none of which is possible. How do I know this? I used to be one such driven individual - competitive, self-centered, restless, perpetually unsatisfied, and self-hating. I was lucky to somehow escape this mindset; 99.99% of Americans never escape it, and therefore, happiness is absolutely unattainable for them.

MB,

I would definitely say that how Americans relate to one another deserves to be explored on this blog. One facet of this - perhaps the most important facet - is how American parents raise their children.

I'm going to relate some anecdotes that I've personally witnessed:
•American parents almost never attempt to comfort their children when they cry;
•American parents offer their children toys or television shows instead of what they really need - attention, love, and wisdom;
•American parents are moody and unpredictable; they lash out at their children, often for no reason;
•Americans talk to their children as if they were objects instead of human beings.

9:48 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Mr. Linden-

Let's face it: people who are angry, and hurting, and anxious, and depressed, and not very bright (in a whole # of ways, but esp. psychologically)--which describes almost all of the American public--don't exactly make loving parents (duh!). To be raised by American parents is essentially to be traumatized, soul-damaged almost beyond repair. Then that generation has kids, and repeats the cycle.

Have a nice day :-)

mb

10:49 PM  
Anonymous Bingo said...

Ellen,

Interesting discussion about language. I am not sure what you mean by “trapped in language,” whether you mean language in general or the language each of us is familiar with. But in any case, it seems that the brain is hard wired for language from birth. Things like syntax and grammar processing are encoded in our genes and expressed in the brain as what Chomsky called the Language Acquisition Device. That’s why children in all cultures learn their native language the same way and follow the same stages. It's hard coded in the genes. At least that’s what neuroscience tells us today. Also, I for one am not convinced that language is among the most powerful factors shaping culture.

And, speaking of children, we are finally getting somewhere:

“A 12-year-old boy opened fire with a shotgun on Tuesday at the middle school he attends in Roswell, N.M.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/15/us/2-injured-in-shooting-at-new-mexico-school.html?hp&_r=0

There isn't a dull moment, in the Land of the Brave.

Julian

10:51 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

Sorry. I think complex analogies discombobulate me, probably due to the fact of having been educated in America. Anyway, coke or no coke, I do think we share at least a slight bit of disappointment that there hasn’t been at least some minor trampling in WVA, after all, these are Americans waiting in line for stuff. On the Japanese and the ramen, I noticed you said they were trapped overnight, does that mean it was only one night and they knew they were going to get food the next morning? Have you or any other Wafer got a link or a source? You never told us how the story ended, I’d like to know what finally happened.

12:06 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Zos-

Well, u may have a pt abt folks trapped in mines; I'll hafta think abt it some more. As for Fukushima, the original source I read was in an unpublished paper by a colleague of mine at the U of Tokyo (he gave it at a conference somewhere: Korea? I can't remember). He didn't say what the outcome was, and I didn't follow it up, altho it did get wide coverage. I mean, I assume the poor buggers got out eventually. I'd like to tell you that TEPCO broke in the next day and gave them each a large platter of corned beef sushi, but that's probably a long shot. Anyway, no happy ending: lots of workers got radiation poisoning, there's a lawsuit pending (guy'll probably die before he wins his case), and so on. And of course, Japanese group psychology definitely has a down side to it, but that's another (long) discussion.

mb

12:47 AM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

Here's a good piece on the American Dream.

http://dissidentvoice.org/2014/01/getting-ahead/

1:32 AM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

MB said:

"...lots of workers got radiation poisoning, ..."

I may be mistaken in my memory of the events surrounding Fukushima, but I seem to remember the reporting highlighting the fact that at least some of the Japanese workers at the plant chose to stay at the site and attempt to get the reactor(s) under control and otherwise mitigate the effects of the accident. This despite the fact that they knew the dangers involved and the risks posed by the radiation.

I seem to remember that at least some of the Russian workers at Chernobyl behaved in a similar courageous fashion.

As for the lawsuits, I should think they are focused on holding TEPCO responsible for the management and safety failures that made the accident both more likely and less manageable once it had occurred.

8:39 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jas-

I read abt one lawsuit in the Japan Times, but I don't recall details of the suit. TEPCO was involved in a lot of cover-ups prior to the accident, then gross mismanagement after. Exposure of many workers to radiation: voluntary in some cases, but also involuntary. There's a new bk on the subject abt to come out from Union of Concerned Scientists that hopefully will provide details.

Dan-

Gd essay. Sacrifice is the cornerstone of civilization.

mb

9:19 AM  
Anonymous Edward said...

The masters of the universe - they have done so much evil to other people that they must keep on eye on everyone around the world. Because of their hustling more of existence, they must gather information to be used in exploiting other people. This is why the world hates these impetuous, bellicose, rapacious maggots!

WASHINGTON, Jan 14 (Reuters) - The U.S. National Security Agency has put software in almost 100,000 computers around the world allowing it to carry out surveillance on those devices and could provide a digital highway for cyberattacks, the New York Times reported on Tuesday.

The NSA has planted most of the software through getting access to computer networks, but has also used a secret technology that allows it entry even to computers not connected to the Internet, the Times said, citing U.S. officials, computer experts and documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

The Times said the technology had been in use since at least 2008 and relied on a covert channel of radio waves transmitted from tiny circuit boards and USB cards secretly inserted in the computers.

"The radio frequency technology has helped solve one of the biggest problems facing American intelligence agencies for years: getting into computers that adversaries, and some American partners, have tried to make impervious to spying or cyberattack," the newspaper said. "In most cases, the radio frequency hardware must be physically inserted by a spy, a manufacturer or an unwitting user."

Frequent targets of the program, code-named Quantum, have included units of the Chinese military, which Washington has accused of conducting digital attacks on U.S. military and industrial targets, the Times said.

The newspaper said the program had also succeeded in planting software in Russian military networks as well as systems used by Mexican police and drug cartels, European Union trade institutions and allies such as Saudi Arabia, India and Pakistan.


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/14/nsa-international-computers_n_4599030.html

10:00 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

Dan H.,

Just read ur post, "Getting Ahead".

My life was the opposite of Mrs. Schuster's I went from the genteel to the uncouth and am very proud of it because I made the right choice and did not know it, absolutely, until the last few years. I have always been vaguely sure of my path but ur article cinched it.

Very thankful to you. Tks.

10:43 AM  
Blogger GregJS said...

Dr. B - Congrats on getting to the near-completion phase of the Japan book. Now when a woman asks, “‘Is that a banana in your pants or are you just happy to see me?” you can say, “Oh that’s just my baby rhino’s horn starting to stick out. Wanna see?” (If it’s an American woman, like Sarah P., though, just be sure to do a thorough cavity search. She may be packing - and you know where the ladies up here keep their guns.)

Your openness to people starting other threads is generous and encouraging. Thanks, Hack, for the interest, too. What I’m talking about, though, is book-length; so a blog like this is not the right forum for “Greg’s theme” (has a lovely ring, though). And I have trouble enough keeping my posts short, as is - so don’t encourage me too much. (I mean, I went over the 1/2 page limit the other day just talking about NOT being able to talk about something.)

ellen - If “Cloud of U” is mainly about entering into non-verbal experience, then it may be very relevant to what I’m talking about, so thanks - I’ll take a look. But I’d be bowled over if a Middle Ages writer so much as touches specifically on what I’m talking about. (Keep in mind, I haven’t even said what it is I’m taking about yet! So you kinda have to take my word for it, at least for now, that I’m talking about something that hasn’t been discussed elsewhere. Well, I don’t know that for certain; but I’ve spent most of my life exploring this kind of stuff and haven’t caught so much as a whiff of it anywhere else.) Clearly, there are things ABOUT non-verbal experiences worth putting into words. One of them, I’d say, is that there’s a component of the psyche that’s most specifically injured by our way of life and that, because of the nature of it and the way it’s injured, we have no language or concepts with which to talk about it, and for that reason (and that reason alone) it’s currently unknown - and therefore this damage gets perpetuated. This can and should be put into words - just like, if you went to a doc with a broken leg, you wouldn’t want her to say, “Oh, you know, ‘broken leg’ is just a concept - it doesn’t describe your actual experience, which is beyond words. So just think of it as a ‘change.’ Enjoy your changed leg!” You’d probably want a doc with a clear and reasonably accurate verbal concept of “broken leg” and what to do about it. Same deal here. (And even if our leg is broken in pre-verbal infancy, we can still understand the concept later in life.)

As for American’s waiting politely in water lines: We love to “pull together” (and “support the troops,” etc.), during crises. This is not genuine civic-mindedness or social connection. It’s one of the many ways we mask the absence of it.

10:52 AM  
Blogger Publius said...

Hmm. Treatment of children. Collapse of US society. Violence. Device-fetishism. Where to begin?

What is frightening is realizing that I think things are bad, even though I am accustomed to them. How must our American society seem to those who are not accustomed to it? Or to our thinkers who pointed out how bad it is decades ago, such as Ralph Borsodi, who wrote, "This Ugly Civilization"?

Regarding children, I am reminded of an ugly American ex-friend. This friend and his passive, abused wife and anxiety-ridden daughter were over for dinner last fall. At some point, the wife and kid left, leaving the inebriated husband.

My son wanted to play the piano for us, and wanted everyone to listen, or some such situation. The "guest" got angry, accusing us of letting him "run things," and interrupted "adults," etc. Somehow he ended up making my son cry, and my wife angry... he pursued the argument with me wife, and even followed my poor son into another room as I tried to console him.

My wife ended up kicking the SOB physically out the door. I had to come between them, because she might have pounded his offensive face... I didn't want a lawsuit or more violence.

On retrospect, I admire my wife's ability to sense immediately what the man's character was - although to give myself credit, I had often thought him to be of questionable character. He once offered a woman friend of mine $100 to eat some chocolate cake after putting salsa on the cake. She did it, he gave her the $100. A trivial incident, but somehow... revealing and an example of the American propensity to use money, make money the end-all and be-all, and use money as a way to coerce others. My friend was getting divorced, and desperate for money!

So why did we tolerate this moron as long as we did? My wife liked his wife... it's hard to find "good" people. One hopes...

Hell's bells. I'm done. Is suppose some people here have heard about the verdict in the case of two police officers who beat a young mentally ill man to death. They got off scott free. The poor young man never resisted - it was all caught on camera. He begged for his daddy while being beaten to death.

The jury evidently thought the mentally ill harmless man had it coming. A jury of our peers. God, they really are idiots, aren't they?

I'll just have to huddle here in the USA with the few WAFer-types I can find while I plan my escape.

12:44 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Hola Dr. Berman and Wafers,

Dan Henry-

Thanks for the piece about the American Dream and the website as well. Gun violence, murder, and American madness runs throughout the nation, of course, but the assertion that Colorado deserves special attention because of its past is compelling.

Wafers-

I'm enjoying the discussion surrounding the issue of *why* Americans are so damaged and emotionally disturbed. A recognition of the fact, as MB points out, that broken people can't help but raise broken children is a critical factor, it seems to me. For a humorous take on this theme, check out Gary Shteyngart's new memoir, "Little Failure." His observations about America, Russia, parenting, family relations, and life in general are hilarious and brilliant.

MB-

Congratulations on finishing your book on Japan. I'm looking forward to reading it.

Holy shit, "God Bless America" is the film of the century! Never in my life have I had the experience of projectile vomiting while laughing simultaneously. Please tell me you were the script consultant for this film.

O&D,

Jeff

1:26 PM  
Anonymous ellen said...

Bingo,
I would suggest that the reason that children all learn the grammar and syntax of their mother tongue at roughly the same rate is that they are surrounded by and influenced by others constantly using that mother tongue. They are immersed in a particular language from the moment of birth and mimic or copy what they hear with a slowly increasing proficiency.
Different languages use profoundly different systems of grammar and syntax which have to be absorbed or learnt in order to attain fluency. That would suggest to me that language acquisition is not in fact genetically encoded and I disagree with Chomsky. Immersion or absorption is considered the most efficient means of acquiring a new language because that mimics the way that one’s mother tongue is first acquired.
I’m not at all sure that “language is among the most powerful factors shaping culture”—my point was that language acquisition is the beginning of the feeling of being cut off from the unknown, god, nature, the pre-verbal state (or whatever one wants to call it) that then engenders a feeling, in a many socialised people, of incompleteness, something missing or lost. Language functions as a distancing tool even as it allows us to communicate ideas to each other, however approximate and error-strewn that communication inevitably is.
A famous case from the Ukraine concerns an otherwise normal and healthy 3 year old, who was abandoned, lived mainly with dogs for the next 5 years and had no prolonged exposure to or immersion in human language for that time. Sadly, by the age of 8, the window of brain plasticity (the ‘critical period hypothesis’ that probably IS genetically determined) that allows for the easy acquisition of language (amongst many other interesting traits) had closed and the adult has a permanent impairment with regard to facility with logical thought and language. However, Oxana has a phenomenally direct and immediate understanding of dogs with whom she shares little genetic similarity and now works caring for animals. Other feral children without even her first three years of exposure to language fare less well and never subsequently acquire any language skills:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93HymGXC_wM&list=PL2714147C1F3EE9E2

The following documentary from 1990, ‘Child of Rage: A Story of Abuse’ comes down heavily on the ‘nurture’ side of the genetics /nurture debate. After extensive therapy, ‘Beth is currently doing well and works as a pediatric nurse.’ (Wikipedia)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2-Re_Fl_L4

1:36 PM  
Blogger F. Thomas Matica said...

I know that we are all swimming in this culture, but I sure hope those texting abbreviations don't make it into your books. I don't want to learn text!
And, God, please don't start talking text either !!!
Love your work, senor !!!
Thomas
Vancouver, WA

2:05 PM  
Blogger Karl said...

re: New Yorker piece -"Do u think the author might be a potential Wafer?"

Well, he may be...I guess the question is will someone reading that have the WAFer epiphany?

The New Yorker is not exactly a magazine directed to shaking up people's worldview; I'm not saying it can't, but as you have probably seen people can sometimes only handle the truth indirectly.

I think this is the case with other magazines that have a similar audience - Harper's (well Latham) can be a bit dense and The Baffler can have too much literary jargon.

I used to read zines back in the stone age, those were usually more direct. Did you ever read Processed World?

2:32 PM  
Anonymous Sm said...

Has anyone read this new book by Jaron Lanier called Who Owns the Future?

Seems like relevant reading here.

- Sam

2:38 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Tom-

Yeah, I know, they are annoying. Don' worry, my bks are safe, if not my blog.

Jeff-

Correct! They hired me as a consultant, but then fired me pretty soon after because
(a) I insisted that a revolver was primitive, and that the guy shd be toting an AK-47 and flying around in a drone;
(b) in the movie theater scene, I wanted the guy not to shoot those kids on cell fones, but take their fones away and subsequently beat them to death with them. I did like the part where one guy in the theater says, just b4 he's blown away, "you realize I'm recording this." I tell u, that film captured American douchebaggery, and a potential visceral response to it, pretty well.

Pub-

Americans are not just stupid; many of them are seriously cruel, as you've found out.

mb

4:39 PM  
Anonymous Banana_Poopy_Head said...

MB,

Indeed, I made things way too complicated in my analysis. Terminally fucked up people raise terminally fucked up kids. It really is that simple. Nevertheless, I think my anecdotes do help to provide graphic illustrations of what passes for American parenting. Some other interesting parenting events in America that I've recently come across:

•China Arnold microwaved her 28 day old daughter to death in order to take revenge against her husband, whom she hates;
•Lakeisha Adams stuffed her three-months old baby in a clothes dryer, tumbling and burning the baby boy until he died (there are many other such examples of recent infanticide via clothes dryer in America);
•Carrie and Larry Williams tortured their children to death, based on advice from a Christian fundamentalist book called "To Train Up A Child". This book recommends beating children with a plumbing tool, freezing cold water baths, withholding food and putting children out in dangerous cold weather as forms of punishment. This book is very popular with American Christian fundamentalists; this book has literally sold close to a million copies in America.

Am I wrong in declaring that this kind of book could only ever be popular in America?

4:51 PM  
Anonymous Michael in Oceania said...

@Wafers:

Great discussion about the effects of American child-rearing practices. I can't disagree with any of it, and it conforms to my own experience growing up. American "families" (to the extent they any longer exist at all) are loveless hells, for the most part.

Tom Fleming (of Chronicles magazine) has done an interview for a Serbian magazine, in which he cites American mobility and rootlessness as a major cause of the arrested emotional development of Americans:

http://www.chroniclesmagazine.org/2014/01/15/america-nation-of-transients/

Again, this answers to my own experience. Now, I think that there are aspects of American origins, which Fleming is still not willing to look squarely in the eye. Nonetheless, it is another tile in the mosaic, so to speak.

I do want to focus on the hopelessness expressed by some of the posts here. Almost all of us here were a product of American child-rearing practices. Nonetheless, we are here on this blog, right? Some might attribute this to lucky happenstance, but I think there is more to it than that. I think, for all of us, there was an element of moral freedom and choice involved. No matter how screwed up our childhoods were (and mine was pretty typical of a mid-20th-century American family), the fact remains that each of us knew that we were messed up, were unhappy about it, and have tried to address the issue in some way. That is the element of moral choice I am speaking of.

I am reminded of the New Testament story of the healing of the man born blind (John 9:1-12). There are many lessons and morals one can draw from this story, but I will focus on one.

In the Orthodox Church, we are taught that God works in synergy with us. One way of expressing this synergy is the saying: "Without God's help, man can do nothing, but without man's effort, God will do nothing!" If you are born blind, and know that you are blind, and you want to see, with all your heart and soul, then "the hand of the Lord" is never far away. However, if you are blind, and arrogantly insist that "I see," then you are hopeless.

In other words, the moral choice here is much like Step One of the 12-step programs - admitting that you are powerless, and asking for help. I think most of us on the blog have made that choice years ago, which is why we are at the level of awareness we're at today.

5:43 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Wafers,

How does this perverted society screw thee up?
Let me continue to count the ways.

Throughout history, from biblical times to the rise of capitalism, people became adults around puberty. Girls had their first period, while boys went through a puberty ritual (Today I am a man.), and they were ready for marriage. Teenagers are biologically geared up for sex, so when they hit puberty they married them off – no problem. Since when was teenage sex anything but normal?

“Childhood” consisted of two parts. During their first seven years children were helpless and cared for by their family. During their second seven years children worked, girls learning and doing women’s work, and boys learning and doing men’s work.

My father was born on a farm in then-rural New Jersey in 1910 where he went to a local school house. After the third-grade they had a graduation and many of the kids left school and went to work on the family farm.

We’ve extended childhood indefinitely with the invention of ‘adolescence’, partly to keep young people out of the labor force. There is a whole adolescent culture, created by advertising and marketing, in which young people are trained to be consumers. The result is that Americans never really know when they have grown up – and I would argue that most never do.

One resulting harm is that in the typical American nuclear family kids are being raised by parents who never really grew up themselves, and who have little or no support from either family or community.

Furthermore, in a nuclear family children, who need exposure to many caring adults, have only their parents as role models. The media supplies role models, so many kids want to be sports stars, rock stars, or other impossible dreams and have no ambition for anything real. But then, most of what’s real sucks anyway.

David Rosen

7:31 PM  
Anonymous Birney Zouave said...

To understand America, in addition to reading WAF, DAA, etc., I would recommend Prof. Mark Noll's "The Civil War as a Theological Crisis." Here's a short, on-target review of the book- http://jsr.fsu.edu/Volume9/Dollar.htm

8:59 PM  
Anonymous Golf Pro said...

Re: the genetic origins of language.

I have to confess now that for the first eight years of my life I was raised by chimpanzees, and as you can all ascertain, this has not impaired my proclivity for the loquacious.

I do, however, have a taste for the occasion flea.

6:20 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Golf-

Thank u for coming out of the closet. Time for me to confess that I was raised by rabid dogs; which most of my critics have already figured out.

Mr. Linden-

You are not a Poopy Head. My critics, on the other hand, often are. But then, the Poopy Head Population (PHP) of the US is quite high.

mb

6:53 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: Besides some guy mowing down 2 people in a grocery store, cnn lists the following as a Top Story:

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1924333-jim-harbaughs-wife-sarah-isnt-fond-of-the-8-walmart-khakis-her-hubby-wears?utm_source=cnn.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=editorial&hpt=hp_t3

7:02 AM  
Blogger Mister Roboto said...

Dovidel:

The second half of your post in particular hit the nail right on the proverbial head.

10:08 AM  
Blogger Publius said...

Ok, I need a quick work break.

I am finding the discussion of "childhood" interesting.

My father was pretty much a jerk... alcoholic. He was great at what he did, though. Strangely enough, he was also sensitive and open - in my small town, he defended a homosexual who was in his line of work. He wrote endless letters to the editor defending liberal causes...

Anyway, one thing that I think saved me somewhat, or allowed my eventual recovery, was being free to roam nature unimpeded. I had my own motor boat at the age of 9! Can you imagine the look on helicopter moms if they say a 9 year old motoring around a lake on his own?

I think that many of the points here have been good, about the abuse and lack of real love on the part of American parents. They think that materialism and consumption are love, or make up for lack of attention, compassion, and time.

Another serious pathology in the USA is the suffocating nature of authority here. Children aren't allowed to do anything, unless you live in a rural area. Children are subordinate beings, never allowed to be out of supervision or control.

Now that I think about it, American adults are also treated that way, more and more, with constant surveillance and micromanagement on the job, etc.

America is not a land to be a child in. It is a land of fearful, anxious, overworked, insecure debt slaves... how is it even possible to protect children from this? It isn't, and they learn fast that their fate is the same as their parents. Is it any wonder that they seek escape in virtual reality, video games, drugs, whatever.

Being cut off from nature is a pathology all by itself, and since we pride ourselves on the "devices we love" (to quote my CEO), we are becoming increasingly unhinged, ungrounded, and unreal.

I am actually shocked that I never have one conversation at work about anything substantial or interesting. Nothing. Nada. Not even with my departmental colleagues, who are more artsy/intellectual (or I thought they would be). The one time I tried to mention a Morris Berman book, the closest one coworker could get to pigeonholing the subject matter was Thomas Friedman.

Strangely, I've actually found that those of a real, traditional, Burkean conservative bent are far more likely to be able to engage in a discussion of ideas, and to critique American culture.

Good news: it is almost certain that we will be able to travel this coming year to Europe, to scope out new homes and make human contacts there!!

12:28 PM  
Anonymous Bingo said...

ellen,

No disagreement there, except that I think in the early stages of development, biology plays a foundational role in socialization. Development must take place within the limits of our biology, otherwise you would expect dogs raised among humans to become human. But I agree, nature as well as nurture both play a role.

Regarding the “Child of Rage” documentary, I’m afraid that’s what happens when children are raised in a “bitch” of a country... :-)

Are you a psychologist?

Cheers,
Julian

12:55 PM  
Anonymous ellen said...

GregJS,
I don’t understand what you are trying to communicate with the broken leg analogy but will attempt to clarify what I am saying. A broken bone in an otherwise healthy organism will immediately begin a process of knitting itself back together again. This little understood process does not rely on doctors or concepts for it to begin or for it to continue to completion. It doesn’t rely even on an understanding that something is ‘wrong’—it just happens, one expression of many unknowns.

Of course there are things that one can do to help the process, the most obvious being that the two broken ends of bone are properly aligned and stabilised to give the best result in a fully healed bone. Unset bones often heal crooked. I wouldn’t necessarily call a healed crooked bone ‘damaged’ if it still performs its primary purpose of providing structure to the body and producing a variety of new cells. I would call it changed from its previous alignment.

Were I a star athlete though, whose career was terminated by a broken bone that had healed crooked, I might well hate my crooked bone and consider myself damaged even if the crooked bone still does a good job of providing structure etc for the body. I would be a deluded and bitter person, feel sorry for my perceived losses and have a ready excuse to drown my sorrows in whatever excesses were to hand. Freedom of choice, a truly wonderful concept, and the reason that I make fine distinctions in my use of words. As much as I am able, I attempt to avoid suggesting that someone is damaged when they may not see themselves that way. After all, what do I really know about another person’s self-definition until they tell me?

The impression that I get (and it may well be a mistaken impression ;) ) is that you are assuming that there is a ‘natural state’ that is correct and right and that we should consciously strive to return to that. I am saying that ‘correct’ and ‘right’ ( or ‘damaged’and ‘undamaged’) are static, human-conceived concepts that carry with them all the corruptions, biases and power agendas of the flawed humans that formulate them, whereas lived experience is an incredibly complex, dynamic process that refuses to conform to our pre-conceived concepts (however well-meaning ) of it.

Grrr, language and its minefields! Now I need a long lie-down with an obscure and mystifying film to watch as light relief. I like this version but it is also available in 7 parts on youtube with English subtitles if anyone is interested in the explanatory bit, such as it is:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lF6DAFjOEiE

12:57 PM  
Anonymous FatBoy Jade said...

The sins of these people are so great that no amount of repentance will save them. This is what you get when money and market takes over everything:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/16/dennis-mcguire-execution_n_4610582.html

2:33 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Wafers,

Greg: Let us hear from you. I agree with what you’ve been saying and I don’t think there’s anything coo-coo about it. As a grim old Marxist materialist my angle is to search for those structural features of American society that screw people up so badly and try to see how it gets passed from generation to generation. As you said all this is complicated and we can only do a little at a time.

The overwhelming majority of Americans accept, though it seems with some reluctance, the society’s ethos, which is, in Dr. Berman’s words, “I’m here to get mine, and to hell with everybody else.” But to be a parent, and particularly a mother, in today’s America requires nearly pure altruism – a value held in contempt by the society at large. This has got to put the different parts of the psyche into conflict. The unconscious limbic system pushes parents to love and sacrifice for their kids, while the conscious ego screams, “Get these goddam kids out of my life.”

No wonder that so many parents get pushed over the line and abuse their children in various ways. While psychological abuse can be even more damaging, it’s only when it gets brutally physical that our simple minded society takes notice.

Dr. Hugh Drummond, a psychiatrist who used to write for “Mother Jones” magazine decades ago, pointed out that epidemiological researchers have never been able to find any essential difference between parents who abuse their children and those who don’t.

As I’ve said before, the structure of American families in a rat-race society makes ‘parenting’ an almost impossible task. All the rest is commentary – but that’s where it can get really interesting.

By the way, all of this, and more, needs to be well understood if anyone hopes to raise children in a New Monastic Community in the US.

David Rosen

4:40 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Well, Waferinos, I've been enjoying the discussion abt infancy and childrearing, etc. Let me put my 2 cents in, a bit.

1st, let me alert u2 the fact that CTOS 3rd edn has only abt 80 copies left, after which it's out of print. I need to start thinking abt a 4th edn; the folks at One Spirit Press, who did SSIG, are interested in taking it on, by scanning the text (the thing is so old, I have no computer files). Well, sometime later this yr, I suppose.

Meanwhile, ch. 1 of that bk discusses infancy and childrearing, then the rest of the bk expands the influence of that on politics. I was thinking abt this in the light of Dana Priest's articles (Wash Post) on the militarization of the police, or the data on police killing civilians (5000 since 2001), or that story of the cops killing a homeless guy (mentally ill) and then being acquitted, and on and on. As far as fascism goes, it's all there save for the concentration camps, and rumor has it they are under construction. (We already have 2 detention camps in Indiana and Illinois:

http://www.democracynow.org/2009/4/17/little_guantanamo_secretive_cmu_prisons_designed

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

Frankly, it seems fully possible that the gov't will be rounding up "intellectual dissidents" in 10 yrs or so, and housing them in such facilities.)

In any case, I was writing CTOS 20 yrs ago; here's what I wrote at the end of ch. 8:

"Born in modern hospitals, lacking the continuum experience that Jean Liedloff speaks of, suffering the confiscation described by Henri Wallon, and yearning for a Transitional Object to 'make it all right,' modern man and woman are, to my mind, less autonomous and more desperate for salvation than their counterparts were at any other time in history. They are the driest tinder imaginable for fascism..."

Makes ya think.

mb

7:04 PM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...

Dovidel,

While I generally agree with your posts I will differ a bit with you on a key point. The monster that is family law in the U.S. is actually well exploited by women in the u.s.--no altruism there. The majority of divorces (no fault divorce being the norm) are instigated by women and in about 90% of the time they get custody of the kids and the house (common in middle or upper middle classes). Male pays child support (in New York till the kiddies are 21), and often alimony. If he falls behind he can end up in jail. If mother denies him the ability to see his kids there is nothing he can do. If she takes up wiht a drug dealer or convicted crimimal he can;t get the kids out of the house unless he can cough up 50 to 100k for lawyers--and he can't. If he loses his job in theory he can get child support lowered by in practice it never happens plus he can;t afford lawyer anyway. Plust even if the guy sees a judge and porves he earns a lot less the law imputes income so the guy has to pay based on the highest income he ever earned! And really if lucky gets to see kids on weekends. If mom and boyfreind move across country he is hosed and cant see kids unless he can afford to fly cross country for weekend visits. Most kids are abused under the care of mom or boyfriends. Sort of a result of feminism--all guys bad, all women poor victims. A couple of relatives practiced the drak art that is family law--its a racket and advice to all young men--do not marry in u.s. and never an american women.

7:29 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

"...have never been able to find any essential difference between parents who abuse their children and those who don’t."

And considering the current state of affairs in America, with high unemployment, extensive underemployment, and all the rest, would we be surprised to learn that the number of abusing parents is considerably greater than statistics indicate is the case?

If the hustler-culture MB has identified was already inherently disposed toward a certain degree of (child) neglect and even maltreatment, shouldn't a ratcheting-up of the pressure on parents caused by the economic conditions now prevailing be expected to make good parents less good and poor parents worse?

7:59 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/16/justice/ohio-dennis-mcguire-execution/index.html?hpt=hp_t2

http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/16/justice/new-mexico-search-settlement/index.html?hpt=hp_t2

8:00 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

Dovidel,

"The overwhelming majority of Americans accept, though it seems with some reluctance, the society’s ethos, which is, in Dr. Berman’s words, “I’m here to get mine, and to hell with everybody else.” But to be a parent, and particularly a mother, in today’s America requires nearly pure altruism – a value held in contempt by the society at large. This has got to put the different parts of the psyche into conflict. The unconscious limbic system pushes parents to love and sacrifice for their kids, while the conscious ego screams, “Get these goddam kids out of my life.”"

And if a mother is able to deal with the self sacrifice, the next tier of the dissonance usually crushes her, as is my experience with my mother. This is manifested in the savagely proud mindset typical of mothers who come from a family of decent or better means. Competition runs one ragged and the cognitive dissonance eats away. If you love your own child truly, how can you not love every other child. And the level beyond, that every one of us was once such a child... well that's just too much fuckin liberal-commie-pinko bullshit for a god fearing, gun worshipping people like the American body politic.

Larry David illustrates again;

http://www.movieweb.com/tv/TEaShaejwXPBdj/condolences

11:19 PM  
Blogger GregJS said...

ellen - Sorry my leg analogy didn’t help clarify things. What I hear you saying, though, is that life works just fine (bones heal) without our value-laden concepts - good-bad, damaged-undamaged; that really, it’s only our freely chosen frames of reference (“I’m a star basketball player; I need my legs to be just-so”) that induce us to impose values/concepts on what is otherwise simply life-as-it-is; and that this freedom can turn against us when life-as-it-is doesn’t fit our concepts of how it “should” be. I.e., if we posit “damaged-undamaged” as real, then we suffer when our life circumstances happen to enter the range we defined as “damaged.” Our freedom lies in choosing what frames of reference/values/concepts to impose on life - or in choosing not to impose any at all.

I hope that comes reasonably close to what you’re saying (otherwise, it truly might be time for me to abandon language altogether!) I agree with all of the above; but there are interesting things about this worth considering. For ex, could there be ways of treating a child that would render her unable to attain this freedom - that would make her so full of fear, so mentally disorganized, so numb and disconnected from her direct, sensate experience that she’d never be able to follow a conversation like the one we’re having or self-reflect clearly enough to recognize what frames of reference, values, and concepts she might be imposing on life?

What I’m suggesting is that this freedom may rest (like all of aspects of us) on a foundational psychic structure that shuts down w/out certain non-negotiable early experiences/forms of nurturance. We can still say that having this foundation - or not - is neither “good” nor “bad”; but it doesn’t seem quite right to leave it there. What about that person without her foundation or freedom? What about other freedoms we might not even know we’re missing? Might be worthwhile to articulate (to the extent possible) what this foundation consists of, how our way of life might not allow us to sustain it (or even recognize parts of it), and how it might be restored, if that’s possible - and of course, how to maintain it right from childhood.

Dovidel - Thanks for 2nd non-coo-coo vote! Rare experience for me. I’d continue chiming in on this interesting conversation; but no joke, it’d take a couple hundred pages just to establish a shared frame of reference (seriously). Really, I only intended to suggest that there may be a whole other missing piece to all of this - and then shut my mouth.

11:39 PM  
Anonymous Banana Head said...

Wafers,

Capo Regime is right. In America, men suffer quite a bit more than women, generally speaking. 90% of prisoners are male - and most of these for non-violent drug offenses. 80% of homeless people are male. Men receive longer sentences, have a shorter life expectancy, are four times as likely to commit suicide, and receive very little federal funding compared to women. Men are portrayed as idiots in the commercial media, whereas women are portrayed as smart, sassy and competent. If that isn't enough to sway you, the lovable Barack Obama said this: "Women are superior to men in every way. All you men out there, do exactly what your woman says."

Considering that American prisons are now concentration camps - prisoners work 14 hours a day and are paid 1 dollar a day, and are given meals that are both skimpy (in terms of portions) and unsafe to eat - and considering that 90% of American inmates are men - yeah, we can say American men have it much, much worse than American women.

1:53 AM  
Blogger bowtiejack said...

Everyone probably knows this, but it's worth stating.
Obama is announcing a burlesque of NSA “reform”.
There has been much going off into the weeds about such things as "metadata”, foreign leader wiretaps, and such.
Under the Stasi (and totalitarian secret police generally) a dossier was kept on individuals ”of interest" to the state.
The NSA and the modern security state don't need to do that. They just keep ALL the info on everyone ALL the time. They don’t need a dossier on you. If you come up on their radar, for example by participating in an Occupy Wall Street rally or by disclosing some government crime, they just google their records for what they might know about you. Which will be pretty much everything. In short, they have a dossier on you, on everyone. All the time. Just in case.
Idiots who talk about how you don’t have anything to worry about if you’re not doing anything wrong are trying to distract people.
Total surveillance of the population means total subservience of the population. Which is the real point.

12:41 PM  
Anonymous Bingo said...

Capo,

I agree with what you wrote. American women in general and feminists in particular have been duped into a lose-lose situation. They lose, and their children lose. What do they get in return? Well, liberty, of course. The liberty to work 3 jobs while still living in poverty, the liberty to have their children babysat by television, the liberty to replace their children’s father with numerous disgusting boyfriends, etc. This kind of liberty is the only kind America can offer: the liberty to be bad, degenerate, selfish, and irresponsible. So American Women got their American Dream. I hope they like it. And I hope they feel proud of themselves for having destroyed an entire generation of children.

Case in point, this news just in:

“An Oregon reserve officer and former sheriff’s deputy is behind bars after allegedly beating his girlfriend’s four-year-old son nearly to death”:

http://www.infowars.com/police-reserve-officer-beat-4-year-old-put-him-in-critical-condition/

Julian

1:06 PM  
Blogger Bertrand Caso said...

DOUCHEBAGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

1:27 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Bertrand-

You took the words rt outta my mouth!

mb

3:06 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Michael,

Excellent point! My comments are about US society, and aren’t intended to prejudge individual Americans. I’m reluctant to dismiss any person as hopeless, but it does appear that huge numbers of Americans suffer from terminal stupidity. A quintessential American characteristic is to assume the CRE position and arrogantly insist, “I see!”

Banana,

The US has been experiencing waves of religious fundamentalism, but I’m afraid that this sort of thing is happening in many other parts of the world and is showing the worst of many religions. The decline of capitalism as a world system puts a lot of stress on people’s lives and, as Obama regretted saying, “they become bitter and cling to guns and God.” Bishop John Shelby Spong mentions the same book in his, “Sins of Scripture”, where he deals with biblical passages that lead to child abuse, homophobia, misogyny, etc.

Señor Roboto,

See Daniel Quinn’s novel, “My Ishmael” (sequel to “Ishmael”) where a gorilla is a teen-age girl’s wisdom teacher. He very eloquently describes the bizarre modern anomaly we call “adolescence” – and much else besides.

Publius,

When parents are the kids’ only adult role models, parents lacking absolute perfection are ‘inadequate’. A small town may permit kids more contact with other adults who can fill in some of the gaps. Most American kids are pretty well segregated from adults, so it’s no surprise they end up with media ‘celebrities’ as role models. It takes a village… – it really does.

Dan Henry,

You said, “If you love your own child truly, how can you not love every other child?” In a society where virtue means success in a competitive environment, it’s hard for ‘love’ to mean more than ‘pride of ownership’. I guess Sarah Palin’s ‘grizzly bear mom’ teaches her children to step on others to get to the top. “If that’s not love, what is?” Sarah will never know.

David Rosen

4:22 PM  
Anonymous JWO said...

I ran across this as a hyperlink somewhere or other:

http://www.ksl.com/?sid=23241639

about "Reformed Luddism" and choosing your technology wisely. I think most WAF-ers would like it.

5:13 PM  
Blogger diana said...

Wow. I just bought a copy of CTOS a couple of weeks ago. Have not read it yet. Based on the parenting discussion here, seems like I need to get started.

Well, 11 years ago, I brought home traumatized baby from the hospital. Labor lasted 18 hours. I still remember that she spent most of the first months of her life just staring intently at me. She refused to take a bottle so I had to breastfeed her exclusively during those first few months. She actually breastfed until she was 4. She did not sleep alone until she was 5. I did not work for the first year of her life. I could do all this for her because I have a partner who did not think I should be out making money. I did not worry about a career. I was also old enough to intuitively understand what she needed and to put her needs first. This is not to say it has been easy. But it has brought me satisfaction. I guess she is my project.

At 11, my daughter is kind,thoughtful and smart. Not spelling B smart, but the kind of that allows her to actually process information and hold an intelligent conversation.

Most importantly, at 11 her dolt meter is extremely impressive. She is a constant source of amazement to me. Some days, I can't understand who she avoids all that toxic stuff floating around.

7:52 PM  
Anonymous Banana Bread said...

Julian and Capo and others,

It's no secret that 99% of women are exclusively attracted to narcissists, sociopaths, criminals and war criminals. I'm lucky; I'm dating an American woman who grew out of that, sees the utter corruption of the American way of life, and appreciates that I don't fit into one of the above categories. For years, however, just about every American woman treated me as if I didn't exist. They were too preoccupied with their own uniqueness, their endless personal "needs", their incessant desire for drama, and their inability to take an interest in anything outside themselves.

One of the most prevalent forms of psychological violence in America is the refusal to acknowledge the existence of others. It seems to me to be the worst type of psychological violence, for once you've ignored the reality of the existence of others - or, more specifically, reduced them to the level of non-persons - it becomes very easy to do all manner of terrible things to them.

There's a video on Youtube of a Canadian man walking around in an American city, asking Americans which country America should bomb next. The responses were casual, nonchalant, calm, and sometimes cheerful. There was no hint of any awareness of the reality of the humanity of the people that would be killed and injured, or the suffering that this would entail. In the minds of these Americans, the people they wanted to bomb simply didn't exist, except as detritus to be cleared away, or as objects to be destroyed for entertainment.

8:01 PM  
Anonymous ellen said...

GregJS,

I am responding to only one point from your post as this huge subject could get out of hand and this is not really an appropriate medium or venue to tackle it in any depth. I should also add that I don’t subscribe to any kind of prescriptive blueprint. Each individual is unique so generalisations are just that—general ideas to explore and consider, not prescriptions.

‘Might be worthwhile to articulate (to the extent possible) what this foundation consists of…’

Logically, the foundation has to be grounded in the physical body before any psychic concerns. Sri Aurobindo (whom I rate as a thinker) makes the point that as long as we are embodied persons then we cannot be separated from nature, regardless of what we might otherwise think or have been taught. Even in a totally enclosed prison cell ( he did some time himself ) we are embodied persons therefore inescapably immersed in nature until the death of the body.

What is truly weird is how easy it is to forget or discount that.

The physical body is also our first experience of ‘knowing’--- through sense impressions--- upon which the whole house of cards that is later held as ‘certain’ knowledge is subsequently built.
Fascinating stuff and worthwhile to explore.
I look forward to reading your own blog about it if you decide to put it online.

5:39 AM  
Anonymous Banana Head said...

I meant to say, "99% of American women" instead of "99% of women". Forgive my typo please.

9:08 AM  
Anonymous Chaz Homz said...

Regarding Americans being stupid: Singer/Songwriter Aimee Mann said in one of her songs, "You've got to be smart if you're fooling yourself".

1:29 PM  
Blogger GregJS said...

ellen - Yeah, we are drifting a bit far afield. But it’s been interesting to hear you riff on my suggestion that there may be some currently unnamed/disrupted foundational level of being. I’d love the chance, even if just for curiosity’s sake, to ask a roomful of psychologists what, if anything, they think might constitute a “foundation of human nature” - and would consider myself lucky if someone of your obvious intellect were to take a look at my proposed answer to that question someday.

3:05 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Wow! Wafers, please! An overwhelming fact of life in America today is that 1% controls, dominates, and exploits the other 99%. The old union-organizer in me calls out: “Don’t fight each other, that’s what they want!”

Capo,

What did I write that came within fifty feet of divorced fathers in family courts? Something about child abuse? (Incidentally, 95% of the time kids get screwed by family courts.)

I don’t think we differ about much. What you say is true – for upper middle class people who can afford divorce lawyers, and most of them are falling fast. Divorced working women are usually quite poor and get insufficient, if any, child support. And it’ll only get worse.

Most divorced mothers get custody of the kids, and that’s where child abuse occurs because that’s where the kids are. If 90% of fathers got custody, it would be reversed. American society is doing this! And everybody suffers in different ways.

Banana,

Yes, many men have it particularly tough right now. The economy has changed and jobs have shifted from manufacturing to crummy clerical, retail sales, or service jobs which women have usually done.

A lot of violence against women goes unreported. I’ve read that one in five American women will be raped during their lives, and I’ll bet that’s a conservative figure.

Julian,

I see American feminism as ‘bourgeois feminism’ which wants more opportunities for women to join the one percent. A working-class man can’t support a family anymore, and the majority of working women in America are working because they have to. I don’t think women working in the ‘service sector’ of the economy at or near minimum wage are following a ‘fulfilling’ career so they can feel liberated – not the ones I’ve known.

Finally, America is in free fall, and nothing will stay the way it is very long.

David Rosen

5:16 PM  
Anonymous Banana Head said...

Dovidel,

Yes, violence against women is underreported. But think about this: American prisons now resemble concentration camps. Tens of thousands of inmates are tortured every year with sleep deprivation, extreme heat, extreme cold, waterboarding, beating, solitary confinement, and starvation. Many end up committing suicide. Even those that are not tortured are forced to work 14 hours a day for less than 1 dollar a day. And guess what? 90% of inmates are male - and more than 99% of those tortured are male.

And as far as inadequate child support goes, what about the men being forced to pay? If they're lucky, they work 3 jobs and live in poverty. Many end up going to jail - which, as I mentioned before, means going to a concentration camp for years. And all this because American women desire no-fault divorces, so they can exploit their ex-husbands for money, using the legal system to do it.

In America, if you're a man and you have children with a woman, that woman can force a situation on you for 18 years where you either work 3 jobs and live in poverty, or go to a concentration camp for years. I don't think you're being sensitive to the plight of American men. I'm not saying that American men are morally superior to American women; I'm just saying that despite their depravity, they are the primary victims of the American system, whereas women are the primary beneficiaries for the time being (until everything collapses).

8:08 PM  
Anonymous Capo Regiime said...

Dovidel,

Hello! Was actually countering your statement that women in america have to be altruistic to be mothers, whereas in fact in the past many saw that it made economic sense to get divorced and lord it over men and damage kids. Actually, even controlling statistically for the smaller percentage of men who get custody, a child is several times more likely to be abused while in custody of mother (and or boyfriend or other live in male). Just the facts. The connection with the free fall of the u.s.a you point out and institutions such as family law, public "education", media, late stage crony capitalism is pretty strong. Who knows what strange arrangements and daily facts of life will emerge in the next 50 years. It will get a lot uglier and well as the late Pat Moynihan pointed out we are doing a hell of a job of defining deviancy down.....

8:26 PM  
Anonymous ellen said...

Banana,

The American prison system is horrible but it not even remotely comparable to the horrors of the concentration camps. I, for one, find it quite offensive that you are attempting to draw a parallel between the two simply to prove a point that American men are now victims of American women, after centuries of having the upper hand.
Perhaps you should take a look at the real horrors of concentration camps, there are infinitely worse fates available to both men and women in this world than having to pay for the feeding and support of children that you have freely chosen to sire:

https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=concentration+camps&hl=en&qscrl=1&rlz=1T4MERD_enGB500GB500&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=8aHbUuGoEqKJ7Aa76oDIAw&sqi=2&ved=0CEMQsAQ&biw=1093&bih=460

5:23 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Anon-

Two things:
1. I don't post Anons. You need a handle.
2. Don't send messages to old posts; no one reads them.

Thanks,
mb

6:15 AM  
Anonymous Holzwege said...

Ellen,

You seem to assume that the only concentration camps that there ever were and will be are the Nazi ones.

A concentration camp is basically an extremely abusive prison. Concentration camps have existed in Soviet Russia, Communist China, the war torn territories that used to be known as Yugoslavia, and, unfortunately, in many other places. There is at least one clear case of a concentration camp run by the U.S. today, namely, the camp at Guantanamo Bay.

Also, the Nazi concentration camps are to be distinguished from the Nazi death camps. One might say that death camps were concentration camps of a sort, but the reverse is not the case.

7:19 AM  
Anonymous Susan W. said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

David R.--

I've been reading the discussion on child rearing with great interest and what you've had to say, in my opinion, comes closest to the reality faced by single mothers and the difficulty of rearing children in a society that has no extended family to provide role models, practical help and much needed respite for the parent. I know what I'm talking about---40 years ago I was 24, flat broke, no skills and the lucky member of a "typical" American family who believed abandonment built character and was far less trouble to them. All sorts of things can go wrong when a young mother has no guidance or support. It sets up a situation where immaturity, desperation to provide and fear cloud judgement and that contributes to why children are forgotten in cars, abusive boyfriends gain entry into homes and other horrors fill newspapers. I'm not justifying any of this though it may sound like I am. I'm simply saying the stage is set for tragedy and it frequently occurs.

A good friend at work is a member of a large Hispanic family and while they're not perfect, they really do help each other out, particularly with the kids. As has been discussed on this blog many times before, this in all but nonexistent in America.

Banana Head--

While it's true that a woman can get child support for 18 years to accomplish this (often) miraculous feat you have to hire a lawyer, tract him down, garnish his wages and if he quits that job, do it all over again. Such fun and if you think cops are delighted to find deadbeat dads and throw them in jail, think again. For every father who participates in his child's life there's at least one who disappears under the rock he crawled out from under. But the points you make are certainly not all wrong and I've known plenty of divorced dads who have suffered from the loss of their children and done everything in their power to make it as good as possible for the kids. There's plenty of injustice and pain to go around to both parents and the children, caught in the crossfire, suffer the most.

9:25 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Wafers: You want pathetic? I'll give you pathetic!:

http://www.cnn.com/video/?/video/showbiz/2014/01/19/exp-julia-roberts-barricade-sag-awards.cnn&hpt=hp_c2&from_homepage=yes&video_referrer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.cnn.com%2F

10:22 AM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...

Ellen,

Indeed concentration camps were (are) far worse than prisons. Perhaps banana was a bit hyperbolic, but one should not minimize the horror that are american prison systems.

As for child support being used for care and feeding of children it is to some extent a canard to justify excesses by the state. Child support is often punitive, has nothing to do with expenses of raising children and really as I described earlier if you loose your job (as a male) and can;t pay you go to jail--how does that help anybody. Most men do want to feed and support their kids but paying what they can;t afford is well impossible in a contracting economy no? Moreover supporting a womens lifestyle and often a boyfriend being called dad, not being allowed to see their kids and no real recourse is a sort of horrific psychological violance on the father no? Its not as simple as providing for the care and feeding of children and incidentally they are not always voluntarily sired. To say what you do uses the rationale used to justify th the horrors of a family destrying racket. Much like saying we drone and bomb to bring freedom.

10:24 AM  
Anonymous Bingo said...

Wafers,

Since we are now discussing the virtues of American parenting, I submit the following article as proof that love for one’s own children is alive and well across the Land of the Free:

“Two Maryland women charged with killing two small kids say they were performing the ritual of exorcism, according to police. The toddlers’ deaths were discovered on Friday morning around 9:30 am when police officers responded to a home at a townhouse in Germantown, Maryland. There, they found a “very bloody scene” involving six people, four of them children under the age of 10.”

http://rt.com/usa/exorcism-children-women-killed-853/


Holzwege,

Re. concentration camps. I worked in the so-called US justice system, and I saw what US prisons look like. They are by far, among the most barbaric and savage prisons in the world. Torture, be it physical, psychological, or emotional, is practiced routinely, systematically, and regularly on inmates. Additionally, the US imprisons nearly 3 million people, by far more than any other nation in the world. So Gitmo is not the only American concentration camp – every US prison is a concentration camp. The Nazis could learn a thing or two from today’s America.

Julian

11:27 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Capo-

Pls post only once every 24 hrs, thanks.

mb

1:59 PM  
Anonymous Banana Head said...

Ellen,

Read what Bingo has to say about American prisons. Torture is practiced routinely; exposure to extreme heat, exposure to extreme cold, sleep deprivation, beating, waterboarding, sensory deprivation, solitary confinement - all these happen routinely in American prisons. In addition, these prisoners are forced to work 14 hours a day for less than a dollar a day. I should also point out that American prisons are immensely profitable for corporations, due to the slave labor.

I have every right to call them concentration camps. As Holzwege said, there's a difference between concentration camps and death camps. I'm not being the least bit insensitive; you don't seem willing to acknowledge the frequency and intensity of torture in American prisons. Just because it's largely men who suffer this treatment in America doesn't mean it should be ignored. Ignoring the suffering of people - especially men - is a true American specialty. Let's not do that here.

5:04 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

diana –

Congratulations on what you’ve achieved for your daughter. Simply to be in her presence must be a great joy. Isn’t it sad that such a child is so rare in America?

You post on this blog so you’re a Wafer – and are therefore living proof that the real difference between people is between Wafers and the rest. Unfortunately this means 99% of American kids aren’t as lucky as your daughter.

Wasn’t it Otto Rank who thought that we all spend our lives trying to overcome the trauma of birth? Whether it’s a blessed event for the mother, however, I leave to women who have actually experienced it to judge.

I like to call commercial infant formula the granddaddy of all junk food. While there’s little doubt that human breast-milk provides the best nutrition for infants, it may be that breastfeeding’s greatest benefit is the bonding it promotes between mother and child. It seems that the medicalization of childbirth and neonatal care has done a lot of harm.

Susan W.—

Thanks for your comments. I think what you describe is more typical of family life in America than the experience of the social stratum where there is enough money available for anybody to come out a winner, and for high-priced divorce lawyers.

At the end of the day, everything in a capitalist society is designed to serve the system for the 1% with everybody else being used. I‘ve had plenty of experience, both professionally and personally, with our magnificent family court system, and briefly stated – it sucks! How many times have I been in family court watching everybody – lawyers, parents, social workers, judges – falling over each other swearing that their only concern was “the welfare of the child!” – only to see the kid get screwed.

Capo,

I don’t see much disagreement, but only “a failure of communication” which I’ll try to address soon.

David Rosen

5:10 PM  
Anonymous Edward said...

Philosopher has spoken again:

Suddenly the whole world is talking about income inequality. But, as this debate goes on, it is beginning to look as though the thing is being misconceived. The income inequality debate is confusing matters more than clarifying them, and it is leading us off in unhelpful directions.

In the first place, to frame the issue as income inequality is to lump together different issues that are not especially related. What we call “inequality” is caused by two different constellations of problems.

At the top end, there is the growing wealth of the top 5 percent of workers. This is linked to things like perverse compensation schemes on Wall Street, assortative mating (highly educated people are more likely to marry each other and pass down their advantages to their children) and the superstar effect (in an Internet economy, a few superstars in each industry can reap global gains while the average performers cannot).

At the bottom end, there is a growing class of people stuck on the margins, generation after generation. This is caused by high dropout rates, the disappearance of low-skill jobs, breakdown in family structures and so on.

If you have a primitive zero-sum mentality then you assume growing affluence for the rich must somehow be causing the immobility of the poor, but, in reality, the two sets of problems are different, and it does no good to lump them together and call them “inequality.”

Second, it leads to ineffective policy responses. If you think the problem is “income inequality,” then the natural response is to increase incomes at the bottom, by raising the minimum wage.

But raising the minimum wage may not be an effective way to help those least well-off.


http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/17/opinion/brooks-the-inequality-problem.html?ref=opinion&_r=2

8:12 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

RE Edward's David Brooks piece

Money in any society based on specialization of professions (at least so far) must be fungible. That fungibility thus renders money with extreme power. The anonymity and opacity that such money brings to transactions between humans makes honesty practically impossible to count on or enforce. To say that allowing any human being the amount of influence over another that concentrations of money, such as we are rampantly experiencing, can provide is utterly naive and utter bullshit. Brooks is a buffoon.

12:59 AM  
Anonymous ellen said...

Holzwege,
No, I don’t assume that the only concentration camps were death camps or run by Nazis. You’re on a bit of a wild goose chase there, not a woodland pathway. The point that I was addressing was the false equivalence being drawn between concentration camps and the US prison system simply to provide a handy and totally spurious rationale for a deadbeat dad to not pay to support his progeny.
You might like this interesting digression though on the cyberwald and modern teaching methods.

http://www.ucalgary.ca/ejournal/archive/v8/hfc.html

Capo,
I’d really like to hear your clarification of an involuntary act of siring child. Are you claiming that men have absolutely no responsibility for the consequences of what they choose to do with their sexual organs? Are the mechanics of sexual reproduction no longer common knowledge in US culture? Is this special pleading for men with that old canard that they keep their brains always in their peckers?
"To say what you do uses the rationale used to justify th the horrors of a family destrying racket. Much like saying we drone and bomb to bring freedom."
I don’t understand what you mean by the above. I think that you are reading a lot into my comment that is not there—family destroying racket? Droning and bombing to bring freedom? No, just that it is manifestly obvious to anyone with a working brain cell that there are consequences to all actions and claiming ignorance of the possible consequences has never been an acceptable defence amongst rational adults.

From the micro to the macro on the subject of intended or unintended consequences and the acknowledged dangers of mission creep, there is this gem of a cautionary tale of our dystopian present and past. Who knows what the hypothetical future will bring?

http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175795/tomgram%3A_alfred_mccoy%2C_it%27s_about_blackmail%2C_not_national_security/#more

GregJS,
Try Lakoff & Johnson on ‘embodied cognition.’ Lakoff though, has taken to advising Obomber & co on appealing to the masses :(
‘Metaphors We Live By’ is particularly interesting.

7:53 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Well, check these out, then:

http://www.truthdig.com/eartotheground/item/a_wall_street_man_owns_up_to_his_wealth_addiction_20140119

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/david_brooks_utter_ignorance_about_inequality_20140120

mb

11:02 AM  
Blogger Publius said...

Is humor welcome here? If so, here's a great skit from the classic 80's comedy group SCTV, called Women Say the Darndest Things. It is very un-PC, but most here will realize it is satire, I trust!

I hate to wade into controversial waters, but here goes.

Feminism in the United States has tended to overemphasize division and conflict, has tended to under-emphasize the innate differences between men and women, and has thus helped to undermine families and communities. This has benefited both the corporate state and the wealthy. Why? Social solidarity has been lost. True community and family life requires interdependence and specialization. Communities that value child-rearing as a valid social role do much better at raising children and maintaining a social environment that allows humans to thrive at all ages.

Growing up in the 70's, we were constantly hearing about divorce, and my parents were constantly threatening divorce. Just thinking about it brings back the feeling of insecurity and anxiety. No-vault divorce was mainly good for men. Not so good for children and women.

It's kind of like basically every socially progressive innovation of the 20th century was either consciously or unconsciously used to destroy real, organic community. While forced racial integration may have been the right thing to do, it had the perverse effect of completely destroying self-sufficient, coherent, vibrant black neighborhoods and business districts in St. Louis, Harlem, and elsewhere. Forced integration of schools destroyed ethnic neighborhoods and stoked racial animosity...

Partly this is because life is inherently tragic, and sometimes there are no optimal solutions. One can't help but wonder, though, if there hasn't always been a hatred of real community in the hearts of the elites, both liberal and conservative.

11:24 AM  
Blogger bowtiejack said...

NSA bottom line is really about political blackmail, not “national security”. It’s simply continuing the great work of blackmailer-in-chief J. Edgar Hoover with the new technology.

Here’s a great article pulling it all together: policy, economics, and history. Again confirming everything Dr. B’s been saying for years.

It's About Blackmail, Not National Security
http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175795/

The US is attempting to ensure its dominance by maintaining 40% of the world’s military forces with only 23% of the world economic output, which itself will decline to 17% in 2016. That can’t go on.

Bottom line, it will be cheaper for NSA to have its nose in EVERYONE’s business than maintaining all those aircraft carriers and military bases (800? 1,000? worldwide) as the empire’s mailed fist withers. Domestically, dissenters and protestors can be controlled.

An empire maintains itself by dominating local leaders. Let General Alexander show you how its done (from one of the Snowden documents):

“Indeed, in October 2012, an NSA official identified as “DIRNSA,” or Director General Keith Alexander, proposed the following for countering Muslim radicals: “[Their] vulnerabilities, if exposed, would likely call into question a radicalizer’s devotion to the jihadist cause, leading to the degradation or loss of his authority.” The agency suggested that such vulnerabilities could include “viewing sexually explicit material online” or “using a portion of the donations they are receiving… to defray personal expenses.” “




12:15 PM  
Anonymous bartleby the Scribbler said...

From today's Independent on global inequality in wealth:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/politics/oxfam-warns-davos-of-pernicious-impact-of-the-widening-wealth-gap-9070714.html

1:00 PM  
Anonymous Pauli said...

Thanks to Edward and Berman for the articles on David Brooks.

David Brooks talks the way he does because he has never worked in his life for the material possessions he has - he has always stolen from those who actually work. How can he afford a $4 million house with his salary as a journalist?

Because he is a parasite, he talks like a parasite.

http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/housingcomplex/2012/05/09/david-brooks-moves-to-ward-3/

http://wonkette.com/472004/david-brooks-collects-enough-pennies-to-buy-his-4-million-dream-house

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/reliable-source/post/surreal-estate-david-brooks-moves-from-bethesda-to-cleveland-park/2012/05/06/gIQAs27Q6T_blog.html

1:26 PM  
Anonymous Capo REgime said...

Ellen,

Many fellows wind up finding out that a woman claiming to be on the pill or iud all of a sudden ends up pregant. My late wife practiced family law for 15 years and got out of it and turned to raising our younger ones and advocating for men. 1.) Men and women are equal allegedly and yes women can also use birth control. 2.) women can choose to terminate pregnancy, however father has no right but rather an obligation to pay for child support whether or not he knew sexual act would result in pregnancy 3.) women do not need to get a lawyer to track down child suport, the government does it for them. 4.) men do not have an avocate to see their children unless he can afford it and most cant. 5.) to your point--yes there lots of birth control opions available to women as well as men. 6.) If as we are told men and women are equal why not give custody eqully to both parents and no adult pays anything to each other or 7.) do it like france or even Iran, whoever does not need support from other spouse to help bringup kids gets first right (and in U.S. women earn as much as men.

To clarify, saying that child support and family law is for the good of the kids is as accurate as saying we invade them for liberty. Yes, family law is a family destroying racket. 50% divorce rate and social science shows that kids without involvement of fathers are twice as likely to have problems and 5 teims as likely to be abused. No--fathers are not opting out of childrens lives--they are being foreced out and often by force of arms and imprisonment. This is not family destroying? And whether happy or not as they do it--police do round up "deadbeat dads" and do put them in jail--how does that help the kids and what do you think the effect is on the guys future for gainful employment? Have you heard of parental alientation---done by women to men? How is it any of this has eluded you as a wafer? Are you a family lawyer for anybody else with experience in the matter? Save for some women getting a relaible month tax free payment from kids fatther and lving with bf or new hubby or family lawyers everybody hates the family law system--kids especially lose from this villification of men you and others advance.

4:05 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/what_obama_really_meant_was_20140119

4:23 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

There's an excellent article over at the NY Times today by philosopher Peter Ludlow. In "Fifty States of Fear" he writes:

"We are conditioned to fear persons in caves in Pakistan but not the destruction of our water supply by frackers, massive industrial accidents, climate change or the work-related deaths of 54,000 American workers every year. Fear of outside threats has led us to ignore the more real dangers from within."

The full article is available here:
http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/01/19/fifty-states-of-fear/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=1&

4:42 PM  
Anonymous Banana Head said...

Ellen,

Read Capo's latest post. It's completely true. In America, fathers rarely get to have any access to their kids in custody battles. American women often lie to men about taking birth control, precisely because they want to get pregnant and collect child support while sitting on their asses. Even worse, a DNA test is not required to collect child support - all a woman has to do is claim some guy is the father, send a court order to his last known address (he doesn't actually have to even receive the letter) - and he'll automatically be held financially responsible for that woman's children. It doesn't matter if he's not the father, and even getting a DNA test to *see* if he is is illegal in many states.

Remember, America is all about hustling, and American women are no exception. In America, if it is profitable to use pregnancy and child rearing to extort money from the man you (falsely) claim you loved, then that is what you do. If it is profitable to make up false accusations against your husband, file for divorce, collect huge sums of alimony and get the house all to yourself, then that is what you do. It happens all the time, and if you say otherwise, then you're not being honest. I personally know people whose relatives have been victimized in this manner. One such person is my gf's stepfather - his brother had this happen to him.

Child support is sometimes justified, but usually it's used to enslave men. Why should men have to pay for most of their childrens' expenses but in return have no access to their children? This doesn't seem unfair to you?

What would you be saying if this situation was forced upon women? If men got custody 90% of the time, often forbade their ex-wives from ever seeing their kids, and forced them to pay 1,000 a month or else face years in jail? What would you say, ellen?

5:10 PM  
Blogger GregJS said...

Hi Wafers,

I'll have better than normal internet access for the next week - including unlimited netflix streaming (which means "26 New Movies Added To Netflix Lineup" is suddenly vitally important news to me, so I eat my words) and youtube (locked out on my town's free wi-fi) - and would like to watch a few good movies. God Bless America is at the top of my list, but if there are any other truly must-see wafer-friendly movies, or if a list has already been compiled in an earlier posting, please fill me in.

NYT Mag had the following article:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/19/magazine/technology-is-not-driving-us-apart-after-all.html?ref=magazine&_r=0

Once again, scientists spend a bunch of money on a research project to "objectively" study some aspect of how we live and come to conclusions that just seem absurd. If you were going to study cell phone use in American society, would you choose the steps of the Met museum (or any museum) as one of your main sites to gather data? Do they think museum-goers are representative of the US population? I suspect results would be different at many, many other sites in the country. Also, a study like this does not so much as touch on how the quality of interaction between people has changed in the era of ever-present screens. Harder to objectively quantify - so therefore does not count to many people in the scientific world.

Not that I'm against doing studies like this, but some scientific types can seem so inept and so over-eager to draw conclusions.

5:52 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Wafers,

As I type on a computer made by slaves in China, I reflect on how people tend to obsess over one or another injustice or dysfunction of our declining world empire.

Yes, American family courts really suck! (More about this later.)

However, the isolated, unsupported nuclear family has been getting more and dysfunctional for a hundred years since the US became a predominantly urban society – long before 1960’s feminism. With post WW II suburbanization and the introduction of TV, the situation really went to Hell.

There have always been nuclear families – a man and a woman have sex and produce a child. But, without the support of a multigenerational extended family or a close-knit community, a nuclear family is woefully inadequate to provide what infants and children need. Parents of newborns are too immature, and even that first critical bonding between mother and baby is difficult without mature support and assistance. It’s often harder for a single mother, but what’s needed is beyond the capacity of young couples raising children alone.

The suburban family between the 40’s and 60’s was a nightmare for everybody involved. Housewives’ intellectual life was often little more than choosing between brands of laundry detergent. Surprise, surprise, when their husbands start to find the women they meet ‘out in the world’ more interesting! The ‘mid-life crisis’ is not new to this generation.

That was the message of the movie “The Graduate” – the ‘boomer’ generation wanted something better. They never found it.

Poor working and lower middle-class women usually work because the family needs the money. To the extent that women chose ‘careers’ to find fulfillment, American bourgeois feminism led women out of one lousy situation into another.

America offers nothing but delusional lose-lose situations. Some say it’s because of feminism and divorce; Oprah and David Brooks say it’s your bad attitude; I say, “America Failed!”

David Rosen

7:27 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Greg-

"The Joneses".

mb

8:06 PM  
Anonymous Michael in Oceania said...

@Publius: "Feminism in the United States has tended to overemphasize division and conflict, has tended to under-emphasize the innate differences between men and women, and has thus helped to undermine families and communities. This has benefited both the corporate state and the wealthy. Why? Social solidarity has been lost. True community and family life requires interdependence and specialization. ... It's kind of like basically every socially progressive innovation of the 20th century was either consciously or unconsciously used to destroy real, organic community."

I agree completely. There are, indeed, hard-wired differences between men and women, and they exist for good reason. Women tend to focus on the immediate relationships about them, whereas, men tend to look at the bigger picture. This (for example) is why smart businessmen always get their wives to meet with potential business partners, because often women can sniff out scoundrels intuitively, without waiting to get stung first.

On the other hand, it is usually the man in the family, who would have to decide whether or not it is time to move to another country.

As I see it, these differences are complementary, and not in "opposition." Catherine Austin Fitts has said that, in her experience as an investment adviser, that men are easy to fool, and women are easy to fool, but a man and a woman together, as a team, is much harder to fool or con.

Identity politics is designed to break up these relationships, so that people become easier to exploit. No, this is not an "accident." It was intended that way from the beginning. See Adam Curtis' BBC documentary "Century of the Self" for the lowdown on how all this was set up, from Edward Bernays and Walter Lippmann on forward.

8:39 PM  
OpenID atearinrain said...

On his blog, Dmitry Orlov praised Carolyn Baker's book Collapsing Consciously, which I am finding to be very rewarding. I bet y'all would like it as well. Here's an excerpt:

"Today, Americans are addicted to a particular notion of happiness that is defended by indefatigable 'positive thinking'—typified by yellow smiley faces, a la the world's largest corporation, Walmart.... If we examine the etymology of the word happiness, we notice that it is related to words like happen, haphazard, and happenstance. That is because the root word, hap, means 'fortune' or 'chance.' Sometimes we are fortunate enough to be happy, and at other times we are, unfortunately, un-happy. Presumably, mature adults understand this, but a culture of two-year-olds does not."

I remember back when I was involved with Occupy Wall Street, many of my online comrades had WAY too much faith in their fellow Americans. I would occasionally say things like "I'm sick of living in a country full of overgrown children," hoping I would get better reception than when I said this out loud in real life. It didn't. The Occupy folk I knew were, for the most part, unable to comprehend what I was talking about.

Just when I thought the comments on this blog couldn't get any better, you Wafers start criticizing American women, and in particular how they manipulate others with their victimhood charade. I was in a long-term relationship with an especially nasty one of the sort, and it seriously fucked me up for several years. Ever since then I've had an overblown fear of American women, although a part of me believes it may be a healthy and appropriate defense mechanism. My friendships with women never seem to last more than a few years, as it is only a matter of time before their ugly side shows itself and they go batshit crazy over something ridiculous (apparently the superficial barbie doll Katy Perry empowers women, and criticizing her is tantamount to sexism?). I need to find myself a hot Indian chick, hubba hubba.

1:49 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Tear-

Well, this brings up a # of impt issues, really. Let me try to sort them out.

1. One can have some (or lots of) disagreements w/the Baker-Greer analysis, but at least they are onto the fact that we are disintegrating, end of story, and are not peddling some 'progressive' b.s. abt 'taking back the American Dream.' For yr OWS pals to take in what u were saying, they wd hafta admit that we (and they) had hit a brick wall, w/nowhere to go. This is a scary place to be, and fear of that fuels the perpetuation of old patterns. A couple of yrs ago I wrote a 'progressive' journalist I know, giving him the stats of American stupidity. He wrote back: 'I know all that, but if I paid too much attn to it, I wdn't be able to keep doing what I'm doing.' At least he was honest.

2. The metaphor of the brick wall is not quite rt. In Christianity, this place we're now at is called 'the dark night of the soul'. I think it was Andre Gide who talked abt the need to leave one shore and set out on unchartered waters, not having the farther shore in sight, but trusting that it's there (I talk abt this in SSIG, in fact). That's probably the best metaphor, because it shows the importance of faith, and also reflects the real fear of drowning. Problem is, we're drowning already, so might as well set out to sea.

2a. To get some sense of what a culture caught in this trap is up against, think of major shifts that occurred in yr own life, and how scary that was. Personally, I faced that at age 30, when I gave up my academic career (forever, it seemed like at the time) and moved to San Francisco and wrote the "Reenchantment" bk--wh/paradoxically turned out to be the only best-seller I ever had. I felt like I was entering a void, gambling on a long shot that I wdn't starve to death or wind up on the streets. It wasn't fun; it was required reserves of courage I never knew I had. I just had to trust the universe, so to speak, grit my teeth, and put one foot after another on a daily basis. I haven't read Carolyn Baker's bk, but it's hard for me to imagine an entire society consciously doing something like that. Guess I'll hafta read the bk.

In any case, I'm sure the Occupy folks thought they were doing something radical, but I don't see it as radical at all; and it's hardly surprising that it went nowhere. Now that that's past, they don't know what to do w/themselves. (Recognizing the stupidity and violence of the American people wd be a gd place for them to start, but that wd undercut the whole project--whatever that project was.)

(continued below)

6:18 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

3. We need to put the 'women issue' to bed, so to speak. This blog is not abt gender, and I feel like it may have recently gotten hijacked by a discussion of who suffers most, men or women. Shit, we cd be debating that till the cows come home; I mean, I've got my stories as well. But the topic of this blog is the collapse of the American Empire, w/an occasional foray into the imptc of deli meats--that's it. For those who wanna do identity politics, there are tons of blogs out there where you can work yrself up into a froth over race, gender, and so on; but this is not one of them. I do agree that as things disintegrate in America, rels. between the sexes can only get worse, because everyone's life is increasingly painful and issues of identity can serve as a convenient lightning rod. But from the viewpt of this blog, all that is a distraction. We will soon have a female president: so what? I mean, look at her! An apologist for empire, nothing more, who will just carry on in the present useless crisis management mode. We could have a brilliant black female handicapped president, and the country wd still go down the toilet because that's its historical phase rt now. All that president wd do is more of the same--assuming she wd want to stay in the presidency. Were she to undertake 'collapsing consciously', her career wd quickly resemble that of Jimmy Carter--the only postwar prez who had the rt idea, and understood what the US had to do to save itself. But (see above) the American people aren't interested in 'limits to growth' etc., so they put a drooling buffoon in the W.H. to replace Jimmy, who told them that the American Dream was alive and well. In such a context, identity politics doesn't amount to much.

Anyway, I think we need to leave the gender issue behind, and get back to tracking the stupidity and violence of the American people, the trajectory of collapse, and the Dual Process we are seeing in our time, of alternative social expts emerging to fill in the slack as capitalism falls apart. That's really the only hopeful sign there is.

Of course, some of you might say: well, if yr so keen on deli meats, why don't you go to a blog that discusses them? Alas, my friends, there is none; wh/is why it's left to us Wafers to pastramicize, and to rhapsodize abt the imptc of chopped liver.

I thank you for hearing me out.

mb

6:21 AM  
Anonymous Dave Young said...

From Commentary magazine this month:

The Closing of the Scientific Mind by David Gelernter

A selection:

"At first, roboticism was just an intellectual school. Today it is a social disease. Some young people want to be robots (I’m serious); they eagerly await electronic chips to be implanted in their brains so they will be smarter and better informed than anyone else (except for all their friends who have had the same chips implanted). Or they want to see the world through computer glasses that superimpose messages on poor naked nature. They are terrorist hostages in love with the terrorists."

http://www.commentarymagazine.com/article/the-closing-of-the-scientific-mind/

8:04 AM  
Anonymous JWO said...

Greg: A few suggestions, though I don't know if they're all streaming -

"Idiocracy"

"The Fog of War"

"House of Cards" the second season should be streaming soon-ish

"Jesus Camp"

"Surrogates"

"Gattica"

"The Wire" if you have time

"Falling Down"

10:12 AM  
Blogger Publius said...

@Mike: I was pleasantly surprised by the article you mentioned in the NY Times by a philosophy prof, entitled "Fifty States of Fear."

I think he is correct in general, but overly optimistic in terms of the American public, when he states, "Yet ultimately we are not powerless. We can resist the impulse to be afraid. We may not at the moment have answers to the very real dangers that we face in this world, but we can begin to identify those dangers and seek solutions once we overcome our fear."

He also doesn't go far enough in his analysis, as Carl Schmitt, if not Hobbes, advocated staging terror events if necessary. Heck, Edward Bernays advocated staging and manipulating the public with propaganda, which would obviously include staged events. I think the Gulf of Tonkin incident is far from the only or first or last staged outrage in our history.

@Michael in Oceania: good point. In general, it is hard for me to fit in with any existing political group in the USA, because I believe in tradition and community and interdependence, while my progressive friends find that stultifying and too conservative, and the conservatives I know advocate economic liberalism and libertarian ideology, and thus further the destruction of community and family. There is literally nowhere to turn in the USA. Oh, sure, you have a few groups like those who publish the New Atlantis, but they have their own weirdness - the New Atlantis is partially the spawn of the Neocons, Leon Kass, and their ilk.

Basically, though, there is just too much to think about for most people. Life is too complicated already to consider fundamental questions regarding government, political science, technology, etc. I see that in my in-laws when I try to discuss things: they stop listening, and simply say, "well, you're just ruining to enjoyment of the present to worry about such things," etc. Egad!

That's why we intend to emigrate to a country where life is far slower, or if we are forced to stay in the USA, do an inner migration to a place and situation where life is far slower. We'll see.

I'm reminded of one of my friends (who is getting divorced like everyone else) sitting in a bar, continually pressing the icon of her Groupon app on her iPhone, trying to make it work and giver her a deal... We've become glorified monkeys in Skinner experiments, manipulated by technological complexity that paradoxically turns us into simple automatons programmed to consume.

11:24 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

There *are* a few smart ones left, after all:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/01/19/1270877/-Adios-Gringolandia#

mb

11:48 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Anon-

You need a real handle. Also, when I said enuf w/the gender issue, I wasn't kidding. Thank you.

mb

2:36 PM  
Blogger diana said...

David -

Thanks. How could I not love a girl who asked for a diary and pens with scented ink for her birthday?

I have not worked out a plan yet for leaving the USA and this is causing much anxiety as I think about her future.

4:36 PM  
Blogger Alexey T. said...

Wafers,

I cannot be happier as the comments of this post finally touch upon a topic that I have been killing myself trying to "resolve" - that of having children or not. After much delberation - both "classic" and "romantic" to use Pirsig's terms - I've concluded that, even if it's technically possible to raise healthy children in our collapsing society, I am still not going to do it. The chances of having a child growing into your average stupid westerner are just too high. Despite any parents' efforts and love for their children, if you're just a middle class westerner working 9-to-7 who likes to moderately enjoy the benefits our civilization has to offer and who's barely able to stay out of debt, I believe that not having kids is the smart move to make.

It's a hard decision to come to, especially when you love someone and know that this issue will lead a relationship to end, but I am now convinced it's the right one.

Long live Wafers. Hopefully when everything goes down, the last remaining human left to spread his genes will be a Wafer!

Take it easy fellas'.

Alexey

5:05 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Dovidel said…

Thank you atearinrain!

Dr. Berman,

I found the whole debate fascinating, but it was a distraction. As every classroom teacher knows, it’s hard to keep a discussion going without it getting sidetracked. It can be like herding cats. It’s interesting how seemingly contrary arguments can both be largely true, each from their own point of view. I guess it was Nietzsche’s idea that there is no “Truth”, but that all truths are perspectival.

While there is no hope for America, I still think reforms aimed alleviating suffering are worthwhile – as long as we don’t expect more than that. It is easy to get narrowly focused on this or that injustice so you lose sight of the bigger picture.

Thank you for all your efforts, and your patience.

Greg,

I hear you. There is something missing from the picture we’ve been able to put together, but I think it may require a different way of ‘knowing.’ I don’t believe in belief, but I’ve always been attracted to religious thought because I can’t escape the feeling that there is something “More”. Whether it’s ‘out there’ or within us I don’t know – possibly both.

Are you familiar with Richard Bucke’s ideas on “Cosmic Consciousness”?

David Rosen

5:29 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Hi Banana Bread. Was the guy you saw ("There's a video on Youtube of a Canadian man walking around in an American city, asking Americans which country America should bomb next") Rick Mercer from the CBC doing his "Talking to Americans" schtick?

He did a program on The Ivy League once, including a visit to Harvard, around the time of the US invasion of Iraq, where he asked a professor if the US oughtta bomb Saskatchewan (where I live). The esteemed academic said, "Yes."

Mercer looked at the camera, mouthed "Harvard" and subtly pointed at the prof in derision.

6:13 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Alexey-

Leave the country, then have kids.

Diana-

Whatever u do, hit the rd.

mb

6:25 PM  
Anonymous Banana Head said...

MB and other WAFERS,

I'm going to run with Morris Berman's idea about America's "civil religion" and take it one step further. What if this "civil religion" was only a roundabout way of engaging in self-worship? What if most Americans never worshipped America, and only ever worshipped themselves?

Chris Hedges has written that popular entertainment 50 years ago centered on fighting against "evil" Communists, Asians, etc., and that this was evidence that America still, at that point, had a semblance of community. However, talking to people who grew up 50 years ago, and seeing how fucked up their families really were, I wonder if this "civil religion" of 50 years ago was in fact always a "self religion", or self-worship.

It seems to me that even if there is a distinction to be drawn, "civil religion" always devolves into "self religion" unless some very powerful, very positive cultural changes take place to arrest or reverse this process. As Andrew Bacevich said, the cultural revolution of the 1960s wasn't a fundamental change; rather, America just became more itself. Instead of worshipping themselves in roundabout, more socially approved ways, Americans these days worship themselves very directly.

The American Right pretends to return to the "good old days" of civil religion, but if you listen to any religious neoconservative, you'll quickly observe that they directly worship themselves. They all think they are the chosen Right Hands of God, and that their own hatred and selfishness corresponds exactly with the desires of God. In short, the Right is totally full of shit here, as with everything else; they're just engaging in hypocrisy.

8:04 PM  
OpenID atearinrain said...

Fair enough mb. I wasn't arguing that guys have it worse than gals these days, or that American gals are more worthy of contempt than American guys. I found the discussion interesting because how we fail miserably at relationships in this country seems like an interesting facet of our social disintegration, but the battles of the sexes are always a bore. Men are surely as much at fault imo, and their behavior just as disgusting. Kinda like comparing the flavor of a rotten apple to that of a rotten orange (not that I would know).

Publius, I agree that there is just too much to think about these days. For a modern individual to pry one's head out of one's ass is a long hard road out of hell. I think of this as related to Joseph Tainter's The Collapse of Complex Societies. On the one hand, I've always admired intellectuals who have opened windows into new worlds. On the other hand, I've always held people like my stepfather in high esteem; people who live a very slow life in a rural setting, with little knowledge and little care for the world at large. Just good-natured midwestern folk who maintain a relatively healthy community in the neighborhood they were raised in. And did so without reading a single word of community-building, anti-capitalist propaganda. And I am very anti-capitalist lol.

12:08 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

"...if civilization were to collapse, in a short time, over 400 nuclear power plants around the world would begin to melt down because they require an electrical grid in order to operate..." DOH!!!

It's inevitable. Nothing really matters in the long run. There is no where to hide. Forget about money, pleasures, things, morality... . Prepare to die in ur own way.

8:19 AM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Dr. B

I hope you enjoyed your thanksgiving and your Christmas. Did you enjoy yourself and eat a lot of holiday food?

Ellen and Dr. B

Part of the reason that America is collapsing is because of its ideas. The ideas that made America great are the same ideas that is causing America's decline.

I don't know if this is accurate but this seems to describe some of the qualities of American culture. http://www.bu.edu/isso/Tips/AmericanValues.pdf

Let's take a look at #9. When this statement is generalized I believe we can derive that America is an action oriented culture which is more pragmatically based. The emphasis is based more on pragmatism then idealism. There is no thinking of the ideas behind pragmatism, idealism, work, etc.

All of this being said, this is one of the issues with America and that is pragmatism especially the darker component of it. When one becomes to pragmatic and practical one becomes to rigid in his thinking. The attitude is one must accept x because it would be to impractical to change x to y. Because of this there can be no reflection or discussion of ideas at all and it leads to stagnation. There is a bit of truth to the whole attitude mantra that exists in society. Beliefs can have some influence but not to the extent Americans believe.

A lot of Americans deny certain aspects of their various beliefs. These aspects can come about if one believes in these beliefs in a strict and absolute manner. This strict and absolute manner leads to darker aspects of these beliefs.

For example, let's say someone came up to me and said "Courage is the endurance of the soul." My question or them would be is what if one's courage is based upon ignorance.

Pretend we have Jelly Beans in a jar. We have different colors of Jelly Beans. Another thing a lot of people seem to do is to deny there is a certain color or jelly bean. People would deny that it is possible to have courage that is based upon ignorance. Ellen, pragmatism has a darker side to it. Pragmatism can lead to a form of immorality like Enchanced Interrogation Techniques. You deny the jelly bean is in the jar. You can't do that. One has to look at ideas including pragmatism in its entirety. It is true one can be to idealistic but it is also true one can be to pragmatic.

A lot of people in America based upon what they say are to pragmatic in certain aspects especially when it comes to change. In their mind and for the individual it is impractical to try to change things so one must accept things as is. On the other hand, Americans believe in their ideals at the expense of how they work in reality. Americans are extreme in both ways depending upon the aspect of it.

It is like having a pastrami sandwich on rye bread with a side of liver. For the live, it is like having overcooked parts and undercooked parts. The rye bread is hard and crusty with some mold. The pastrami has mold on it as well even though parts of the pastrami is still good. There is cheese as well on this sandwich but people deny there is cheese on it.

Dr. B, Bon Appetit

9:24 AM  
Anonymous Edward said...

First, Frank Luntz came out to admit he was part of the cause of the division in today's America.

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/01/the-agony-of-frank-luntz/282766/

Now, it is Glenn Beck making the same confession (after the fact):

Glenn Beck admitted Tuesday that he has some major regrets about his time at Fox News.

“I remember it as an awful lot of fun and that I made an awful lot of mistakes, and I wish I could go back and be more uniting in my language,” Beck said during an interview with Megyn Kelly. “I think I played a role, unfortunately, in helping tear the country apart and it's not who we are.”

He continued, “I didn’t realize how really fragile the people were. I thought we were kind of more in it together and now I look back and realize, if we could've talked about the uniting principles instead of just the problems, I think I would look back more fondly.”

Beck left the network after two and a half years in June 2011 to start his own media company. His tenure was full of controversial moments, from accusing President Obama of being a "racist" to gutting a fish that he compared to the mainstream media on air.

He has made similar remarks about his time at Fox News before, telling the AP last year that he wishes he had used less divisive language.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/22/glenn-beck-fox-news-mistakes_n_4643537.html

10:44 AM  
Blogger Lex ov said...

MB,

I don't live in the US but Europe. I equally grew up in the UK and France and I don't feel it's much different over here regarding everything you guys talk about on this blog than in the US. It's pretty much the same, with better social security, more holidays, more people to talk to, and of course better food and wine. Sure, European equivalents to Mexico - places like the Scandics, Belgium or Switzerland - are still child-rearing-friendly and wafer-friendly in general, but it takes a very particular set of circumstances - support from family/friends, knowledge of the language, work relocation, wafer partner etc... - to make raising children possible, even in those countries. I do not have those circumstances and do not plan to have them (for personal reasons)in my life. I thus considered raising children in my "home" countries for a while but I am just realizing that "mission impossible" in this respect, would be a euphemism, unless you want to give birth to a genuine ipad "mini".

P.S. Not sure when I posted last reply but +- 2 hours I believe I am still playing with the rules... If not, forgive my lack of punctuality!

Thanks.

Alex

10:46 AM  
Blogger Publius said...

Techno-narcissism at its best! A Google Glass app let's users view themselves having sex from their partner's POV. The Matrix is darkness descending!

In response to my disgust at Google Glass morons, I just purchased one of the four remaining copies of Prof. Berman's book Coming to Our Senses from Amazon.

A coworker of mine was on the TV news a while ago because he proposed to his fiancée live on Google Glass. What can one say to this?

I'm loving the cold weather here in the northern plains region. Reminds me of childhood, and lots of somatic memories of building snow forts, fires, playing in the woods. Makes me realize how even a nice city (by American standards) is a sterile, overly-controlled place.

I am having some luck in hitting the books, part of my necessary skill improvement for emigration...

@tearinrain: yes, as William James once said, to paraphrase, the content of a man's character is more important than his intellect or outer achievements. Goering had a hi IQ and was a real "go-getter," after all. A janitor you can trust is worth 100 bankers!

11:10 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Switching over to the next post, muchachos. Join me there...

mb

11:25 AM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

Regarding Edward's report on the recent doings of Messrs Beck and Luntz...

Now would seem a perfect time for a new book from each, given their seeming regrets over their actions.

Might I offer the following as possible titles?

For Luntz, "Luntz' Lamentations."

For Beck, "Beck's Blubberings," with subtitle "I Never Thought You'd Take Me Seriously."

Sadly for us, but fortunately for them, they had a ready audience that, as the old saying had it, "Don't know shit from Shinola."

1:48 PM  

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