October 22, 2014

Interview with the University of Southern Maine

Dear Wafers:

This interview (in 2 parts) was recorded a couple of weeks ago, and recently aired on YouTube. Hope you enjoy it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IXh0seZ-iZs

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xuxo80hBlrI

130 Comments:

Blogger Dan Henry said...

Listening now, I also recommend Snowpiercer for at least one watch. Good twist.

4:27 PM  
Anonymous kilo_mega_giga said...

You said you never saw a statement from Occupy that outright rejected the American Dream. I recommend you read David Graeber's "The Democracy Project." Graeber was one of the central people involved in Occupy, so his words on the movement are important.

He basically says there is conventional wisdom he thinks we should challenge:

The nature of money and debt (global debt jubilee?);

The assumption that work is necessarily good. There is plenty of work being done we'd all probably be better off without, and workaholics are not necessarily better human beings. And this is true even if we don't take into account ecological concerns;

Submitting oneself to labor discipline - supervision, control, even the self-control of the ambitious self-employed - does not make one a better person. What actually is virtuous labor about? Labor is virtuous if it helps others. Technological development should be directed less toward creating ever more consumer products and ever more disciplined labor, and more toward eliminating those forms of labor entirely;

The amount of bureaucracy (mostly corporate, financial, and educational);

Communism. All societies are communistic at base, and capitalism is best viewed as a bad way of organizing communism.

I read this as a total rejection of the American Dream. This to me was at the root of Occupy, although many or most of the participants were focused on other things.

The other people central to Occupy were Adbusters, and I think they're pretty well against the American Dream as well.

11:10 PM  
Anonymous Snowpiercer said...

Here's a link to Snowpiercer, free to stream. It's a Korean movie directed by Bong Joon-ho.

http://lunamovies.com/snowpiercer-2013-hd/

more info

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1706620/

11:19 PM  
Anonymous Mo Ronich said...

Good interview. I was left with the feeling the interviewer will have to go through some of the stages of grief as he realizes there's no bunny rabbit forthcoming.

10:42 AM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

MB-

Many thanks for your most recent remarks about the shipwreck that is America. You know, you once described your analysis as essentially *farting* at a cocktail party; this interview propels that perturbation into full-blown irritable bowel syndrome. I would also argue that it goes a step or two further, in fact. To take on the vacuity and black hole of the American soul and value system, as you do in this discussion, is the equivalent of a martyrdom operation...

Jeff

11:20 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Kilo-

Graeber showed up here several months ago (very rudely, I might add) and mentioned The Democracy Project. When I searched for it, I found it was a book. So I asked him if there was an article, something posted on the Net, and he never replied. My pt is that nothing equivalent to the Port Huron Statement showed up on the Net in Nov. 2011 or shortly thereafter, which is when OWS was in full swing. I might have missed something, but I tell u, I was pointedly looking for it, and didn't find it.

Yes, most of the participants were into 1% vs. 99%, which is just trying to fulfill the American Dream, not abolish it. Even if Graeber does stand for its abolition, and even if he *had* posted a Manifesto in 2011 or early 2012, this is not where the heads of OWS demonstrators were at, as far as I cd determine--even from favorable reviews of the movement.

As far as Adbusters goes: no question abt that, and I even wrote abt them in the Twilight bk. Their (lack of) impact on the majority of OWS folks is, of course, something else.

mb

11:59 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Esp. for hispanohablantes: Here's the video of the lecture I gave in Costa Rica. It's a bit blurry or muffled--C.R. is much better at ecology than technology (which I regard as a gd thing)--but you muchachos can probably understand it nevertheless. Gozalo, chicos!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1c4eg1tZXhY

mb

5:58 PM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

Another sterling example of American narcissism:

http://www.modernhiker.com/2014/10/21/instagram-artist-defaces-national-parks/

6:32 PM  
Anonymous ennobled little day said...

Listening to you speak Spanish in that link you just posted... That's some pretty good Spanish...

8:35 PM  
OpenID atearinrain said...

Thanks mb for the "Anyone who says there is no hope for the US can generally be trusted." It truly made me laugh out loud.

Bill Hicks,

funny you mention Bageant's Deer Hunting With Jesus, because the guy who gifted me What's the Matter With Kansas said the same thing when I summarized the book for him.

Seeing as how I stubbornly refuse to leave the country, I've finally begun Twilight so I can better understand this NMI business. Coincidentally, Thomas Frank is quoted right at the beginning, writing how the multinational entertainment oligopoly "is putting itself beyond our power of imagining because it has become our imagination, it has become our power to envision, and describe, and theorize, and resist." Shortly after reading that, I experienced two situations which exemplified this perfectly. I suddenly had this urge to cry, in a public setting no less, followed by nausea. In retrospect, I should have went through with it and used that opportunity to vomit on some douchebag's shoes.

kilo mega giga,

I was also involved with Occupy. Since you admit that "many or most of the participants were focused on" things other than rejecting the American Dream, what does it matter what Graeber wrote? For me, Occupy was a great learning experience—becoming intimately acquainted with the douchebaggery of the American Left. The closed-mindedness and selfishness astounded me. Furthermore, as weak and unradical as it was, it still stood no chance of winning over the majority of Americans. Americans do not rebel; they merely seek out anodynes.

11:06 PM  
Anonymous Troutbum said...

Dr. MB and all fellow travelers,

Our friend, Chris Hedges has posted an excellent article titled"The Imperative of Revolt" over at : http://www.truthdig.com . In it he interviews John Ralston Saul and Sheldon S. Wolin, both I nominate as Honorary WAFers.

Quoting directly, " Democracy has been turned upside down,” Wolin said. “It is supposed to be a government for the people, by the people. But it has become an organized form of government dominated by groups that are only vaguely, if at all, responsible or responsive to popular needs and popular demands. At the same time, it retains a patina of democracy..... see democratic rituals and institutions, especially in the United States, as largely a facade for unchecked global corporate power.....all the institutions that make democracy possible have been hollowed out and rendered impotent and ineffectual.....“You need a professional or elite class devoted to profound change,” Saul said. “If you want to get power you have to be able to hold it. And you have to be able to hold it long enough to change the direction. The neoconservatives understood this. They have always been Bolsheviks. They are the Bolsheviks of the right.



10:03 AM  
Anonymous JWO said...

A book review of "Descent into Hell: Civilian Memories of the Battle of Okinawa" here for those interested in that sort of thing:

http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2014/oct/23/descent-hell/?insrc=wbll

Ugh, I need something to take my mind off NYC Ebola, crazy people in Ottawa, douchbags painting National Parks, ...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aiTxXuAUCb4

10:27 AM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

Re grade inflation

This is a post I just read on another forum.

"SGA76 02:37 PM Yesterday

Originally Posted by xSneak:
How does someone work 120 hours a week?

I used to work 96 hours a week while going to school 25 hours a week with five 2 hour commutes Monday through Friday and a 1 hour commute on Saturday.
It takes 4-5 pots of coffee each day.
And 5 hour energy drinks.
And gurana tablets.
And eating breakfast/ lunch/ dinner behind the wheel.
And meditating 2 hours a day instead of sleeping Monday through Friday.

Honestly, I don't remember much from then but I made straight As."

Americuh

11:05 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Trout-

I've always said that if there were 2b a revoln in the US, it wd come from the Right. There are gd historical reasons for this, and the neocons didn't really have much of a challenge, because they were working with the grain of American society. A Red or Green revoln doesn't have much chance here, because it wd be working against the grain--big time.

Tear-

Sorry abt missed oppty. Projectile vomit is probably as gd as urine, where douche bags are concerned.

As for revoln in the US: I once mentioned the following to Hedges: That in the case of every successful revoln, 3 conds were present:

1. Widespread dissatisfaction with the present system.
2. A revolutionary cadre with a coherent program, ready to take over and act with force.
3. The willingness of the police and military to defect to the side of the cadre/people, or at the very least to hold their fire.

These things do not obtain in the US, and Hedges certainly agreed with me abt #3. As for #1: yes, there's widespread dissatisfaction, but not with the American Dream. The downtrodden merely want to get *into* the dream, nada mas. Re: #2: OWS? Don' make me laugh!

Douchebaggery on the Left: I was very impressed, when I marched in DC in 2003 against the invasion of Iraq, with how many words (including elementary ones) on signs were misspelled. I pted this out to some woman I was marching along with, and she immediately got hostile. When I say there is no hope for Americans, I mean just this: NO HOPE.

Meanwhile, just look around the country, the news you guys are posting: every day the American head goes a bit deeper into the American rump. These clowns are going to make a revoln? Let me give you a great deal on the Bklyn Bridge...

mb

12:44 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Dr. Berman,

Have a look at Fred Reed’s article, “A Southerner Repents: A Confession” at today’s (24 Oct ’14) lewrockwell.com:

http://www.lewrockwell.com/2014/10/fred-reed/a-southerner-repents/

The next time some progressive accuses you of being an apologist for slavery over WAF’s fourth chapter, “The Rebuke of History,” send them the above article and promise to join Reed in atoning by “helping black children from Alabama to move to Detroit, where they will enjoy the splendid education, the perfect social equality, and the high economic station that Yankees, never hypocritical, provide for those darker than they.”

Christopher Lasch once pointed out that in in age of absurdity, it becomes impossible to recognize parody. The same can be true of irony. I wonder how long it would take most American progressives to recognize what Reed is doing, and how they would rationalize rejecting what he says.

I realize that there is an existential difference between chattel and wage slavery. However, when I look at what the US is doing to most of the rest of the world, I find the smug self-satisfaction of the winners of the American Civil War beyond endurance.

Wafers,

If any of you think that Ovomit ever had even a modicum of moral principle, please check out “CIA Warned Obama that Funding Rebels Doesn’t Work … But Obama Decided to Fund Syrian Rebels ANYWAY For Cynical Political Gain.” See it at:

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-10-20/cia-warned-obama-funding-rebels-doesn%E2%80%99t-work-%E2%80%A6-obama-decided-fund-syrian-rebels-anyw

O&D, David Rosen

2:07 PM  
Anonymous modern hiker said...

Here's another great article about Americans on vacation -

> Ms. Nocket had been enjoying her time in the outdoors so much that she decided to document her trip on Instagram. And apparently Nocket was so moved by all the natural beauty she saw that she just had to paint all over it.

> Sadly, this is not a one-time thing. Nocket’s “work” has also been spotted (and Instagrammed) in Yosemite National Park and Crater Lake National Park, as well.

> According to her Instagram feed, Nocket has been traveling quite extensively – she has photos tagged from all over the West, including stops in Carrizo Plain National Monument, Sequoia, Bryce, Zion, Grand Staircase-Escalante, Grand Canyon, Canyonlands, Rocky Mountain and Joshua Tree National Parks – where just today rangers posted this photo of Barker Dam, which has been closed since last February due to vandalism. There’s no telling how many of these paintings she left.

All so she could post her crap on Instagram..........

4:59 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dave-

A great essay by Reed; many thanks. Last time I researched world literacy, which was ca. 2003, the illiteracy rate in Detroit was 47% (6% in Vietnam, by way of comparison; by now it's probably 75% in Detroit and 1% in Hanoi).

I suggest Wafer demonstrations at all 'progressive' offices (The Nation, Democracy Now, etc.). We shall hold up signs saying "Dolts Don't Revolt" and "High Moron Index = No Revolution". Etc.

6:35 PM  
Blogger comrade simba said...

Would someone be so kind as to translate "O&D" for me, please. I see it pop up here now and then and can't figure it out.
Thanks!

8:59 PM  
Anonymous Curious said...

There are worse things than ebola and beheadings, apparently.

Sit down, brace yourself: THE HONEY BOO BOO SHOW HAS BEEN CANCELLED.

Grief counselling available. Please email for rates. No personal cheques. All major credit cards accepted. Will consider bitcoin and barter.

10:02 AM  
Anonymous kilo_mega_giga said...

I agree with you on OWS. I think some of the leadership and some of the people had more radical things in mind, but the vast majority of people who came to Occupy just wanted a bigger slice of the pie.

Progressives are pretty solidly focused on climate change & equality, so if you gave everyone a fair cut and started putting solar panels on everything, most liberals would be totally happy.

11:01 AM  
Anonymous ennobled little day said...

Dan Henry-

I once tried working that hard back in grad school. I was averaging 12-14 hours a day, 7 days a week in the laboratory. I got to the point where I was seriously contemplating throwing lab rats against the wall or opening them up without anesthesia just to see what would happen (to say nothing about other things going on in my life).

A lab mate (born and raised in Italy) eventually told me that she held weekends sacred, implying that I should do the same. I also noticed that even on weekdays she would make time for her husband and friends. I'm glad I took her advice and (tried to) followed her example: I calmed down and even increased my productivity.

I recently heard of a high school teacher who tries to juggle (reportedly) 4 jobs at a time. Most teachers are not like that, but there is some pressure from above to participate in extracurricular activities. There's an expectation to work (a lot) more that just the obligatory 40 hours a week. (And teachers routinely work more than 40 hours a week anyway.) And no one really complains against that expectation.

12:30 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Comrade-

Onward & Downward. Here are some examples:

http://www.commondreams.org/news/2014/10/21/us-cities-criminalizing-sharing-food-homeless-report

And like this is gonna happen, rt?:

http://www.commondreams.org/news/2014/10/24/bill-moyers-grassroots-pro-democracy-movement-must-rise-challenge-corporate-control

mb

2:14 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Oh yeah, b4 I 4get: "Begin Again," a really great film with a fab soundtrack.

2:15 PM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

The consumerist virus is worldwide, alas:

http://www.salon.com/2014/10/25/the_chinese_are_literally_eating_this_exotic_mammal_into_extinction_partner/

Frankly, I feel worse for the rest of life on Earth being victimized by this narcissistic worldview than I do for the people, many of whom should know better & certainly have access to the knowledge to make them know better. This could be such a beautiful world, if people were actually civilized & empathetic, Yes, some are, but not nearly enough. What's especially sickening is just how many have willingly & eagerly embraced ugliness, callousness, ignorance.

Personally, I cultivate & cherish a few close & genuine friendships, and do my best to be as good as possible to the wildlife around me, animals certainly deserving of admiration, consideration, and respect.

6:57 PM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Dan Henry

Is this what they mean by working hard? This is pure insanity. 5-6 pots :o 5 hr energy drinks. gurana tablets? Is this what Americans expect? OMG.

This can't be good for one's health. In fact, it isn't. http://www.caffeineinformer.com/caffeine-overdose-facts-and-fiction

8:53 AM  
Blogger Kanye Cyrus said...

And now there's this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ZfltpUhP30

9:22 AM  
Anonymous teri schooley said...

Dovidel,

I think the CIA is just covering its fat ass for when this whole manufactured ISIS thing turns out to be another bit of BS propaganda like the reasons given to invade Iraq. The CIA has been funding, recruiting, and training the "rebels" who morphed into ISIS for several years now. I am firmly of the belief that ISIS *is* the CIA. We seem to only be hitting civilian homes and infrastructure, haven't sanctioned the countries that buy oil from them (sanctions being our preferred method of coerced diplomacy, I find that odd - God knows, we sanction the hell out of everyone else), can't seem to find their strongholds or fleets of tanks and trucks (where are those NSA satellites when you need them?), and are now talking about bombing oil pipelines and refineries (only inside Syria, of course). Maybe the CIA and Pentagon aren't making enough jack from the heroin trade in Afghanistan any more.

-Teri

9:39 AM  
Anonymous ennobled little day said...

I found this book called 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed by Eric Cline from George Washington University.

I wonder if it may shine further light into what's going on today in the world. Any comments?

11:20 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

This American Life:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/11170805/Man-arrested-for-assaulting-victim-with-a-burrito.html

1:37 PM  
Anonymous Curious said...

Has anyone else read (some text, somewhere, somewhen) that immediately preceding their extinction ammonites developed explosively into a myriad of bizarre forms? -- and wondered if maybe this world is somehow ordered so that sheer mass of a particular life form triggers such inexplicable pressures? I agree most of our species has dog shit for a soul -- but are we really *this* bad as the endless competition for new lows suggests? We built the Parthenon! This endless mounting stress and depravity; and no one however rich and greedy realizes contentment or happiness in his/her frantic successive satiations. It seems like sheer mass of us has shifted some vast order which must now ponderously right itself, and that our bizarre behaviours may be -- *must* be, we're not this bad -- exactly analogous to the bizarre metastasis of the ammonites just before their extinction.

4:11 PM  
Anonymous AS said...

An Indiana man killed his 13 yr old neighbor after shooting the boy 9 times for laughing at him:

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/10/indiana-man-shoots-and-kills-13-year-old-neighbor-for-laughing-at-him/

5:51 PM  
Anonymous Capt. Spaulding said...

Read the following piece by Thomas Frank on salon.com (http://www.salon.com/2014/10/26/thomas_frank_we_are_such_losers/) about Rick Perelstein's new book on Reagan (the third in his series about the rise of the American right). The whole piece, and especially the final paragraph (see below), recalls your disenchantment with any notion of liberal politics though Frank is much harsher on Carter than you are in "Why America Failed." Indeed, he sees Carter as a sort of template for the Obama presidency, rather than the final moment when a sense of decency was possible in our political system. Interesting that you both wind up in the same place from two different starting points.

"The moral of this story is not directed at Democratic politicians; it is meant for us, the liberal rank and file. We still “yearn to believe,” as Perlstein says. There is something about the Carter / Obama personality that appeals to us in a deep, unspoken way, and that has led Democrats to fall for a whole string of passionless centrists: John Kerry, Al Gore, Michael Dukakis, Gary Hart and Bill Clinton. Each time, Democratic voters are enchanted by a kind of intellectual idealism that (we are told) is unmoored from ideology. We persuade ourselves that the answer to the savagery of the right—the way to trump the naked class aggression of the One Percent—is to say farewell to our own tradition and get past politics and ideology altogether. And so we focus on the person of the well-meaning, hyper-intelligent leader. We are so high-minded, we think. We are so scientific.

We are such losers."

- The Capt.

11:58 AM  
Anonymous JWO said...

Sigh, more this American life I guess:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alan-singer/common-core-history-exams_b_6050456.html

My favorite line is this one:

"... their effort to promote new national Common Core standards and mystically prepare students for non-existing 21st century technological careers ..."

Exactly! Who needs to know about Incas or the Romans when you have smart-phone games to program.

5:35 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

AS-

But why only 9 times? This I simply can't understand. More reason why Americans need to be carrying semi-automatic weapons, rather than revolvers, which are rather primitive.

mb

7:09 PM  
Anonymous tam said...

МБ,

I'm giddy-thrilled whenever you post links to your interviews! I get to crank up my computer speakers, then proceed to go about household chores, eyes/hands-free! While my ears & mind absorb the words of a kindred spirit! Thanks for these latest! :)

I chuckled when the interviewer noted that you seemed rather blasé about the collapse. 'Made me recall the first time I heard you [via BookTV, when you were peddling WAF]. Evidently, just prior to the event, a young man approached you and asked, "America's failed?" With an element of bemusement, you told the audience, "He still thinks it's going on..." (hahahaha – great line! – ya hooked me with that one, fer evah!)

And then when the interviewer says how deep (dark? heavy? <--one of those adjectives, anyway) your assessment is? ... 'Just reminds me of the many times I've been accused of same. (I do joke-around a bunch when on this subject, so that probably throws idiot-Americans *way* off any critical-thinking path they might have been near.)

Wishing you pleasant autumnal temps in the tropics! :)

7:52 PM  
Blogger Val said...

I had an unpleasant experience lately while shopping at the local mall. Upon attempting to exit Safeway with my eggs and bread, I suddenly found my way blocked by a manager who aggressively demanded to know "what's with that bag?" and insisted upon seeing proof of purchase on the spot.

Last year city hall passed an ordinance encouraging shoppers to bring their own bags, and I had done so.

It transpired that I had been "frequently" observed by store security wandering in the flower department (even though I enter that store probably no more than twice in an average month) and this evidently was cause enough for suspicion and for me to be confronted and as good as accused of criminal activity.

How soothing to be thus reminded that merely by entering an American supermarket I become the object of constant surveillance. Had I lost my cool in the encounter or been caught shopping while black, I expect I'd likely have found myself handcuffed with my face to the ground and a taser up my ass.

My theory of causality? In these times when the indebted masses are dunned and squeezed ever harder so that Wall Street can further bloat itself, people steal more often; so the corporate owners of us all double down on law enforcement (though not against themselves of course - anything but that!).

It seems a trivial incident, but it could easily have turned quite ugly. I take it as a warning. Of course I'll boycott that store henceforth; but I well know that what I really need is to boycott this country. Unsafe at Safeway, unsafe in the USA.

8:56 PM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Dr. Morris Berman and others

This is a prime and in your face example of how America failed.

I hope I will be allowed to post this from my blog. She has given me permission to post her posting from her Facebook wall on my blog. This is an autistic woman who is in desperate need of help from her family and society at large. Guess what? No one cares. It's similar the incident that happened at the hospital when you tried to seek help for someone.

http://whyifailedinamerica1.wordpress.com/2014/10/28/a-cry-for-help-from-melissa-fields/

What a fucked up country we live in with a fucked up people.

12:27 AM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and respected members of the Wafer cognoscente,

MB, Wafers-

This is progress:

http://www.theguardian.com/money/2014/oct/26/male-vasectomy-increase-recession-children-economy-afford

A few suggestions:

a) Mandatory vasectomies for *all* American males beginning at age 14.

b) 7-Eleven gift w/purchase: a free AR-15 assault rifle w/150 rounds of ammunition for any Super Big Gulp purchase.

c) An FDA ban on the active ingredient, methyl cellulose, found in K-Y Jelly.

This should do the trick, no?

Jeff

1:45 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jeff-

We might as well throw in a free lobotomy, what the heck.

Val, cube-

All of this sorta stuff is gonna get worse, as the yrs go by--you can count on it. It's part of the larger cultural and social implosion.

mb

ps: Just wanted to let u Wafers know that I hafta go to Chicago Nov. 5-6, and Vancouver Nov. 8-12.
Hence, if u all cd slow down the posts during Nov. 5-13, I'd appreciate it. After that, I'll be around for a while, I promise.

8:44 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

tamo-

Some glitch occurred w/yr post, and I lost it. Izvinite, really. I remain technologically challenged, I guess. Please, send it again. Spacibo.

mb

8:49 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

tam-

So now yr post came thru, but at an early pt in the comments section. I swear, I have no idea how these things work. Anyway...once you grasp that America is, indeed, finished, it becomes an interesting question, what 'progressive' activity finally amounts to. Ah, those poor, deluded souls. *Very* foolish people, thinking that their activities & articles & such will reverse the downward trajectory. "Lord, what fools these mortals be," wrote Shakespeare in Midsummer Night's Dream. However, they do serve a particular function, and it's rather an impt one: they provide an archive, a record of what specifically went wrong; a portrait of what a civ looks like when it's on its last legs. After all, that's what we're doing here. When a Wafer posts a link abt a cop killing a child because the kid looked at him cross-eyed, that's an important service. MLK said that the worst combo was violence and stupidity, and while he was talking abt Bull Connor, it really does apply to most Americans. Which is a major factor in our collapse. Cops killing kids signals the end of civilized society, after all; as well as kids killing kids, wh/happens often enuf these days. So both Wafers and 'progressives' are providing a much-needed database of our disintegration. At least there's the hope that other nations will ponder this info and say, "Shit, let's not do *that*!" As for us, the momentum is too fierce now for anything to arrest it. 'Progressives' don't understand this; Wafers understand it only too well. Wafers watch as the lemmings rush to the cliff's edge, and they say: "Jesus, will ya look at *that*! Ain't that the weirdest thing!" And it is, amigos; it really is.

mb

10:28 PM  
Anonymous kilo_mega_giga said...

You mentioned Krugman, and how infinite growth never crosses his mind.

Funny thing, he just wrote a piece criticizing the degrowth movement. He's thought about it, and he's pretty well opposed to the idea.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/19/opinion/paul-krugman-could-fighting-global-warming-be-cheap-and-free.html

This gets back though to the two main concerns of progressives:

1. Climate change (i.e. we need to install wind turbines & solar panels everywhere)

2. Equality (poor people, gay people, and women all deserve a larger slice of the pie)

Beyond these two big issues (which are obviously valid concerns), progressives basically have little else to say. Sure they might mention guns or abortion, but the driving concerns aren't any type of general criticism, it's just tweaking the system so we can all be well paid consumers.

I've tried to bring this up with liberals/progressives, and it's like talking to a brick wall. People are immediately defensive if I attack liberal/progressive values.

11:02 PM  
Anonymous Bill Bob VI said...

@MB are you speaking In Chicago? Where and when? If I'm able I'd love to check it out. Gracias.

11:03 PM  
Anonymous David G. said...

Dr. B:
Are you giving a talk in Vancouver, like at UBC or somewhere? If so, can you post the details? My son would probably be interested in hearing you.
David G.

11:11 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Bill, David-

Many thanks for your interest. No, these are not lecture tours, as it turns out. Instead, meetings I hafta go to, plus hanging out w/friends. However, there's a gd chance I'll get invited to UBC once again in 2015, and I'll be sure to post the details.

kilo-

I'm aware of the Krugman attack on degrowth, and recently a friend of mine in the movement sent me a rebuttal of Dr. K that was pretty devastating. I'd post it, but it's buried somewhere in my emails (sorry). Anyway, I just googled 'degrowth rebuttal of krugman' and got lotsa stuff, if that helps.

mb

12:23 AM  
Blogger Sir Tagio said...

MB,

I'd like to second tam's reaction to news of a new MB interview to listen to. You give great interviews and your unwillingness to sugarcoat is unbelievably refreshing.

Speaking of which, the idea that your analysis is "depressing" is itself revealing of the deep buy-in to the Am. Dream. Hearing that America is not and is not ever again going to be number 1 and the Source of All Things Good and, further, has too many dolts to even hope for any kind of meaningful change is "depressing," it seems to me, only if you have internalized Am exceptionalism (or to use Obama's re-branding, "indispensability,") and the consumerist AmDream. Ridding oneself of this internalized crap I guess then involves working through the Kubler-Ross stages of grief over a lost and beloved identity - one that was killing you, but hey, nonetheless held fondly for so long.

Btw, I think that Krugman's degrowth ire was directed at the Post Carbon Institute, and the rebuttal that you may be looking for is by Richard Heinberg, a Sr. Fellow in Residence there, appropriately titled,” Paul Krugman and the Limits of Hubris":
http://richardheinberg.com/museletter-269-paul-krugman-and-the-limits-of-hubris.

It would be fun and interesting to have a link to a global map on the sidebar identifying all the places that you have been invited to give talks. We could identify these places as "Wafer Towns" or "Wafer Hotspots" or "Wafer Oases" or some such description. These people are obviously made of sterner stuff.

Something like this map, albeit with MB talk locations rather than - the truly depressing - nuclear power plant locations.
http://www.google.com/fusiontables/embedviz?viz=MAP&q=select+col0%2C+col1%2C+col2%2C+col3%2C+col4%2C+col5%2C+col6%2C+col7%2C+col8+from+587899+&h=false&lat=37.43997405227057&lng=24.609375&z=2&t=3&l=col1

9:42 AM  
Anonymous Brian said...

WAFers--

Here's a surprise (yawn):

http://news.yahoo.com/facts-italy-u-come-bottom-modern-life-survey-000717363.html

O&D--

Brian

11:26 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Sir Tag-

Many thanks. I don't get invited to do interviews very often anymore, probably for the reasons u cite. One symptom of a dying society is that it has lost any interest in reality.

I saw this in the case of the univ. press reaction to my Japan bk. Just received a letter from a colleague, a Japanologist, at the U of Cork in Ireland (he's British), who read the pdf of the bk. An amazing achievement, he wrote; that univ. presses weren't interested in this is beyond understanding. Hey, I wrote back; this is America!

But this is the story of WAF, really: that America persistently did itself in by ignoring or marginalizing those voices attempting to wake it up. It never did wake up, and now is in its final necrotic phase as a result. It's also the case that the % of the pop. that wants bromides and fantasies is roughly 99.9%. So...my work basically joins the ranks of the Irrelevant. Wafers are reduced to winking at each other, pretty much.

mb

12:31 PM  
Anonymous Savantesimal said...

The Dunning-Kruger effect marches on, but I find it interesting that he doesn't distinguish between Americans and other peoples. Has he extended his research beyond Americans, I wonder?

David Dunning: We Are All Confident Idiots

The American author and aphorist William Feather once wrote that being educated means “being able to differentiate between what you know and what you don’t.” As it turns out, this simple ideal is extremely hard to achieve. Although what we know is often perceptible to us, even the broad outlines of what we don’t know are all too often completely invisible. To a great degree, we fail to recognize the frequency and scope of our ignorance.

...

1:14 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

Continuing my last thought:

Same forum, different thread, common lunacy;

"harsaphes 02:32 PM Yesterday
Look. For those who want to make more money here's what I can tell you. You have to work your ass off and make it happen. I don't mean complaining about an 8 hour day. You have to work a 12 hour day. You might have to work on your day off. But you have to make it happen. I get up at 5 am, do a workout and I'm at work at 715. I leave work around 7. I eat around 730 and go to bed around 10. NOW. Lots of people would say I don't have a life and that might be true, but I alternate a five day, four day week. I make my own hours at the company I work at because I've positioned myself as an invaluable employee. I own an apartment in Manhattan and two on Maui. I deserve everything I have because I made it happen. No college and my parents always thought I would amount to nothing. I'm not blowing my own horn but for those who need a pep talk, I'm giving you one."

O&D

2:29 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dan-

Looks like his parents were rt.

mb

3:22 PM  
Anonymous the dude downstairs said...

MB -

I'd like to hear your thoughts on Putin's recent speech:

http://rbth.com/international/2014/10/29/time_to_establish_a_new_world_order_says_putin_40973.html

4:12 PM  
Blogger dg said...

progress

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/B0ql6SdIQAIzjSg.jpg:large

10:11 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

dg-

Ain't it the truth...

dude-

At 1st rdg, it makes a lot of sense. You know, some time ago an international poll was taken, asking the question, "What nation do you think is the greatest threat to world peace, at the present time?" The US and Israel said Iran, and everyone else said the US.

I suppose a major source of the problem is American hubris and 'exceptionalism'. When the USSR collapsed in 1989-90, it wd have been possible for the US to talk in terms of partnerships and a multipolar world. But we followed the (very foolish and destructive) lead of Francis Fukuyama, that the collapse supposedly showed there was only one viable type of socioeconomic organization, and that was the American capitalist 'democratic' model. It never occurred to Americans that in terms of collapse, we were next; and that in fact, we were already collapsing. From 1970 on, political scientists like Andrew Hacker were talking abt the end of the American empire. All of them (myself included, of course) were ignored; such a notion was 'plainly' absurd. Serious kicks in the teeth don't make a dent on the (brainwashed) American consciousness, including 9/11 or the crash of 2008. Obama is just a continuation of the "We're No. 1" mentality, and when, a couple of yrs ago, he gave a stupid speech on American exceptionalism, Putin rightly pointed out the dangers of such a belief system (which Americans are not able to recognize as jingoistic and aggressive). The reaction of the American public to this, unsurprisingly enuf, was to hate Putin (as recorded in a # of polls taken after the latter's speech).

Historical movements typically have a mixture of motives behind them. There is a level on which Putin is driven by ego, and by the desire to restore Russia's past 'glory', when we lived in a bipolar world. It's a power play, in short, and if he is long on criticizing the US, he is short on criticizing Russia and himself. But the confrontation w/the US as hubristic, overweening, and probably the most destructive force on the planet today, is rt on the money.

The problem, of course, is that, as Gore Vidal once said, Americans never learn anything. We will see this all as an attempted power grab, not a call for a more ecumenical world; and certainly, not as both at the same time, because Americans are incapable of grasping the notion of paradox--everything for them is B&W, as it was during the Cold War and now the so-called war on terror. Yes, Putin is a KGB product; he is an autocrat, and he has his enemies (e.g. critical reporters) rubbed out. But he's no idiot, and unlike Obama (who, in comparison, is a sad joke), he does have a vision of international relations that is at least worthy of public debate. Our problem is that we can't separate wheat from chaff, not even theoretically; wh/is the monomaniacal logic that dragged us into Korea and Vietnam, and that led to the crimes of Guatemala and Chile (to name but a few of our foreing policy disasters). It will be more of the same when Hillary is president, inasmuch as her idea of foreign policy is something along the lines of Watch out for Putin and Shore up the dying empire. This is why I keep saying that in America, even the smart folks (high IQs) are stupid; everything is a chess game (zero-sum logic), and everything is Manichaean. And even if we did have someone around with visionary leadership capabilities, such a person cd not get elected because this suppleness of understanding is not what the American public wants to hear, or is even mildly capable of. (As I explain in DAA, Jimmy Carter's election was an accident, and he was widely out of favor by the end of 1978.)

mb

11:34 PM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

I was thinking about the movie Being There and Paradox as well like you mentioned Dr. B. People in many walks of life have their own assumptions and interpretations of reality. Chance the Gardener was kept sheltered in his life and he has a severe disability. He doesn't even know how to read or write. All that he knows and understands is what he has saw on TV and working in his garden. People would ask him questions and all he would talk about was his garden and people thought he was being metaphorical and was this profound guy. He thought real life was like Television and one thing he was good at that I noticed was mimicking people's body language, mannerisms and words on TV. He was never dishonest nor deceitful in anyway. He literally thought this was what people did since in combination with his possibly intellectual disability he was simply living how he always lived watching TV and being the gardener in the garden of his caretaker.

Another thing is, he comes out wearing formal clothes all of the time so his mannerisms and his clothing make him seem like he is this profound man. Because of his living conditions and how he was raised he had no sense of self. He was a caricature of TV and combined with his knowledge of how to tend a garden people thought he was this very complex man. A number of people in America live shallow and unfulfilling lives with their own prejudices, biases and views. Chance the Gardner or Chancey Gardnier(Eve mistakenly misunderstood him when he choked on wine that Eve gave him in the limo). Chance was a blank slate and was a very simple man. Everyone projected their own biases, thoughts, needs, desires and own emotions onto him. Yet, his simplicity, purity and innocence made him profound.

This story assumes 1979 level of technology by the way without the internet. There was no way to profile him and computers at the time could not determine his ethnic background based upon his speech mannerisms, non-verbal language, and the clothing he wore. He had no Identification or any life history whatsoever. There was no driver's license, no work history, no home history. No one could identify who he was.

Chancey had no anxiety whatsoever because of his purity and innocence. He was treated well by his benefactor who eventually died and after that he was kicked out and did not realize he was being kicked out at first. In his mind later, being kicked out of his own residence when his benefactor died was an end of a movie and start of a new one.

This is why I have to ask what is simple and what is profound? What do these things even mean? The man was not profound in the slightest, very naïve, and oblivious in his own way it made him very profound. The man was a walking paradox and he was complicatedly simply. Eve and other women was intrigued, enticed and turned on by his looks, manners and his profound simple-mindedness.

What does every one think?

9:17 AM  
Anonymous JWO said...

MB and Dude: Orlov did a post about Putin's speech:

http://cluborlov.blogspot.com/2014/10/putin-to-western-elites-play-time-is.html

The main thing is that western media (even sites like CounterPunch) has said nothing about it, rather we get hard hitting stories about sexy Halloween costumes and Miley's new dress.

10:30 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

jwo-

As I mentioned above, there is reason to be wary of Mr. Putin and his possible ambitions for Russia; these are entangled with the ideas he puts forward for a true internationalism. But this much can be said of him, as opposed to Mr. Obama and most Americans: he's an adult. Mr. Obama and most Americans are adolescents, at best ('clowns' wd be a more accurate assessment), and it's no surprise that our media outlets have largely ignored the speech.

mb

12:53 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and Wafers,

MB, Wafers-

It appears that Francis Fukuyama is singing a slightly different tune these days... I listened to a recent interview w/him at one of your old stomping grounds, MB, Forum w/Michael Krasny. Though FF, in my opinion, still relies too heavily on grand theory, he did entertain the possibility that the US is failing in a myriad of different ways and falling apart. He hit on the dangers of economic inequality in the US, concentration of wealth, wholesale corruption of the political system, and the origin and peril of American gun culture. I don't think it's too much of a stretch to say that FF regards Obama as a pathetic joke and a political lightweight; punching way above his weight class, so to speak. Anyway, I found it to be a quite lively discussion.

http://www.kqed.org/a/forum/R201410021000

O&D,

Jeff

2:05 PM  
Anonymous kilo_mega_giga said...

here's a new ad for a gadget. Thought this might give you a laugh.

http://i.imgur.com/tiC9ufb.jpg

4:28 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

kilo-

Look at that face: staring into nothingness.

mb

4:59 PM  
Blogger Frederick Froth said...

Very important News Flash!

It seems that Kim Kardashian may be a member of the British royal family.
Her mother is Princess Anne.

2:54 AM  
Anonymous Troutbum said...

Dr. MB and all fellow travelers....

In a short article in the Atlantic Magazine, the title of which pretty much sums up the entire story, " Just Looking at Cash Makes People Selfish and Less Social" we learn that " research has indicated that simply thinking about money turns people into antisocial, unethical pragmatists who are unwilling to help strangers."

Yep, we knew that!
Go here : http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/10/just-looking-at-money-makes-people-selfish-and-less-social/382088/?utm_source=nextdraft&utm_medium=email

6:31 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Fred-

I tend to doubt it, but if the Nelson monument in Trafalgar Square were replaced by a statue of her buttocks, I wd personally be ecstatic.

Meanwhile, here's a combo of 2 depts: The NYT Is a Joke + There's No Waking Up the US:

http://consortiumnews.com/2014/10/25/treating-putin-like-a-lunatic/

mb

10:07 AM  
Blogger Val said...

@ kilo & mb -

I love the caption to that ad. Techno doodles deepen our humanity, much as cheez doodles deepen our appreciation of fine cuisine (thank you Mr Kunstler). Who needs Socrates or Buddha when we have digital gnosis? Checking stock market figures on my Dick Tracy watch is better than reading War and Peace.

On the criminalization of private or personal charity - Aldous Huxley foresaw this long ago in one of his essays. I can't cite it, but I think it's one in which he discusses topics connected with Brave New World. He suggests that one day only government-sanctioned official agencies will be permitted to offer relief to the poor, and everyone else will be punished for trying it. I imagine this probably seemed like a phantasmal dystopian projection to most people at the time, but now it's crystal clear that he extrapolated the trends with considerable prescience. That man sure knew how to read his tea leaves.

12:40 PM  
Anonymous Pongacat said...

I have huge admiration for your insights, but I must admit to being at a loss over the degree to which you view Carter as a great and noble exception in the line-up of presidents or presidential hopefuls..He was no Henry Wallace or even George McGovern. Yes, I know, that he brought human rights to a more prominent position etc., but the man surrounded himself with tri-lateralists, including the Commission's co-founder Zbigniew Brzezinski, who, in advocating a greater role for corporations in governance, complained after the years of student unrest that the US had "too much democracy". ZB had been a counsellor for Johnson and is a strong influence in the Obama administration - the most tri-lateralist of them all.Carter continues to defend Obama, and in 2010 made the ridiculous assertion that all animosity towards him was because he's black.Please remember that, in the spirit of the fiscally elite
ZB/David Rockefeller Trilateral Commission, it was Carter, not Reagan, who began dismantling the gains of the New Deal and introduced market-friendly reforms, lower taxes and neo-liberal rhetoric about shrinking bureacracy and balancing the budget. In 2004, Carter went on to push Congress for NAFTA, which has been a catastrophe for peasant farmers in Mexico, small farmers in the US and the environment in both countries. The Carter Doctrine developed US essential interest in the Middle East, which has subsequently been so disastrous.
And in an interview in the NY Daily News in '76 Carter said that he saw nothing wrong with ethnic purity being maintained in neighbourhoods - an extrordinary position that Jesse Jackson described as a "throwback to Hitler racism".
Carter , ahead of Reagan,courted the religious right vote in the south and brought religion into politics, which you may not disapprove of, but religion and morality are not one in the same -
and there is much in Carter's record that is morally questionable.

1:28 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Ponga-

I agree w/u, except that Carter has to be seen w/in the larger picture of what he was trying to do, wh/I regard as a major deviation from the American mainstream. In terms of defending this stance, I'd rather not repeat all the evidence from the Carter sections of DAA and WAF; I'll just refer u2 them (and hope that this will help).

On another note, I suggest that Wafers take a look at Geo Packer's essay, "The Holder of Secrets," in the Oct. 20 New Yorker.

mb

3:48 PM  
Blogger John Cougar Melonhead said...

From the They Hate Us For Our Freedom Dept.:

Wisconsin town fines old guy $86,000 for keeping some old tractors and wooden pallets on his property, then sends in a SWAT team and armored military vehicle to beat the money out of him:

http://rt.com/usa/200655-wisconsin-armored-vehicle-collect-debt/

I don't know, he does look kind of dangerous (photo here: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/authorities-harm-sending-military-vehicle-elderly-couple-property-article-1.1989935). I wouldn't have approached him without close air support and on-call artillery.

Keeping America safe from kids dressed as anime samurai (shot 4 times in back):

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/10/29/utah-police-shooting/18102775/

Michigan cops use homeless man for target practice (45+ shots fired):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Iigvm5iPkU

5:56 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Melon-

This really *is* America, now. It's still hard for me to grasp that.

mb

6:23 PM  
Anonymous DiogenesTheElder said...

kilo and others:

If it's gadgets you speak of, take a look at this!

http://pavlok.com/

Should be standard issue in the US of A. There can be no populace more deserving than ours.

O&D
AOBTS

DTE

7:40 PM  
Anonymous Curious said...

This is almost beyond belief:

www.policestateusa.com/2014/robert-leone/

9:46 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Curious-

It's amazing how much rage and pain are out there, much of contained in the bodies of cops. We are really finished, no question abt it. I guess everyone shd be wearing a pavlok (see above).

On another note: a film that was uniformly panned, but wh/I found brilliant, is "Are You There," starring Owen Wilson. It reflects on the choices we are now facing, and that us Wafers often talk abt. Very moving, really.

mb

10:59 PM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

Speak of the police state & the militarization of everyday life:

http://www.alternet.org/education/how-military-invaded-my-high-school?akid=12428.241474.UzfZln&rd=1&src=newsletter1025446&t=17

3:55 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

This American Life/Wonderfully Pathetic Dept.:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/magazine/teaching-civility-two-daring-assignments/2014/10/30/6c71682e-4b3c-11e4-a046-120a8a855cca_story.html?hpid=z5

On a more serious level, I note the death of Galway Kinnell, whose work I've quoted in my own.

mb

5:47 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: according to Kinnell, all Wafers are poets. He claimed that it was the job of poets to bear witness: "To me, poetry is somebody standing up...and saying, with as little concealment as possible, what it is for him or her to be on earth at this moment."

9:38 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

As a follow-up to my previous post about the militarization of America, here's a story from today's CBS Sunday Morning, about the mother of a dead Marine making a ballet about his life & death in Iraq. The entire news presentation turns an individual's private anguish into mawkish patriotic kitsch -- but more importantly, from the introduction about "warriors who fall" rather than "soldiers who die", it studiously avoids any exploration of the politics, the national myths, the lies that led to his death. He became a Marine out of high school due to 911, yet Irag had nothing to do with that. The fact that he died for a lie is never mentioned. And in similar "inspirational" stories that network news shows run on a regularly basis, we never hear about the lives of Iraqis that were shattered by the war -- not unless they've fled Iraq & come to America, of course. The overall tone is meant to convey that noble, innocent young Americans gave their lives proudly but vaguely in a necessary war that was waged for the purest of reasons, and that we must support them by never questioning Why.

Here's the transcript of the story:

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/a-marines-story-told-through-ballet/

This is the culture within the mirrored sphere you've written about, MB, where the only reflection is that of self & self-delusion, rather than genuine inner reflection.

In the same vein, I'm hoping this film will be available on DVD soon, as it seems prime Wafer material:

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/14/movies/14chai.html

12:13 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

General Waferian Notice of Fun-Filled Events:

I'm going 2b in Chicago and Vancouver during Nov. 5-13, dependent on the computers of friends for my blog communication. This cd be iffy, so during that time, perhaps a bit less posting might be a gd idea. Thanks.

And then there's the World Wafer Summit Conference (WWSC), tentatively scheduled for Ireland June 1-5, 2015. We've talked abt this b4; I mentioned that I wd be willing to do it if 7 Wafers besides myself committed to attending this earthshaking Event. I esp. need to know if it's on or not since I'm going to be in Europe 2nd half of May, and wd need to coordinate with other flight plans, friends in Cork and London, and so on. I shall raise this topic once again in mid-Nov., when I'm back home; but in the meantime, I'd like all of you who are contemplating coming to the WWSC to think carefully about it. There wd be a lot to plan: plane reservations, of course, and then a guesthouse that cd accommodate all of us (I have one in mind, actually, but they wd require advance deposit from each person, that sorta thing). Plane tix, at least, wd hafta be purchased by Dec. 15 at the abs. latest, and wd involve the honor system: you can't say u bought a ticket if u didn't. Doing that wd obviously screw the rest of us, and this wd be very non-Waferian behavior, to say the least.

In terms of who can attend: I'm trying to avoid the debacle of a few yrs back, when we were trying to arrange a Summit Conference in Mexico City. Everyone who said they'd attend pulled out at the last minute; folks who had never been on the blog but heard that there was "a party" going on, suddenly wanted to attend. Great. So I'm limiting attendance in this case to active and engaged Wafers, i.e. those of you who are a real presence on this blog (lurking doesn't count, sorry). You know who u.r., in any case--folks who are committed to the discussion going on here, and who participate in it. This shd guarantee a spirited conversation in Eire when we meet face-to-face.

As most of u know, my email address is mauricio@morrisberman.com. Since I don't want to give out info on the blog regarding location, hotel, or any other details (e.g., Mittney might join us), interested Wafers are asked to communicate directly w/me on this project. Then we can put together a List, and those of us who are going to Eire can write to the group as a whole, if nec.

Anyway, lots to think abt. I'm hoping we can pull this off. Think of how the 'progressives' will be quaking in their boots!

mb

12:14 PM  
Anonymous kilo_mega_giga said...

MB -

Tomorrow is election day and it looks like Republicans are set to control the house and the senate.

Any predictions on the upcoming elections? Anyone you endorse?

10:09 AM  
Anonymous BelmanBrigade said...

Zachary for President:

http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2014/11/man_claims_subway_diet_failure_provoked_robbery_of_sandwich_shop.html

Will Goldman Sachs and Oprah back him?

As president-in-waiting, he could drum up business at deli counters throughout the country.

10:10 AM  
Anonymous Pilgrim said...

I finished reading The Empire of Necessity, and after mulling it over for a few weeks here's some of the issues that I found most interesting...

- The title of the book comes from an epigraph of Melville's: Seeking to conquer a larger liberty, man but extends the empire of necessity. I take it that "liberty" here does not pertain to its more lofty meanings, but rather to the pursuit one's own desires - even if it means sacrificing community. In my own words, the pursuit of wealth and status often necessitates the imposition of one's will upon others, the exploitation of externalities, the creation of false scarcity, and the loss of one's more communitarian (little-r republican) ideals. Compare the "hedonic treadmill" in WAF.

- To what degree was slavery necessary for freedom? We've read about how expansionism was a safety-valve for the nation (WAF, DAA), allowing some to escape the economic stratification by heading to the frontiers and making their fortune. But slavery had stoked the country's economy from its earliest days, and even at the frontiers it was often necessary to employ slavery in order to compete and achieve one's "freedom".

- The "existential impasse". Paraphrasing, it goes like this…
1) The slave master sees the slave as nothing but a tool, with no will or inner life of his own.
2) The master becomes ever more dependent upon his slave, not just for labor, but also for his own self-esteem.
3) The master gradually becomes conscious of this growing dependence upon his slave.
4) The slave himself becomes conscious of his value to his master, and to his master's dependency upon him.
At this point I'm reminded of the "existential strain", where step 5 could take a couple of directions. Step 5a would entail the master coming to question his assumption of superiority and recognize the slave as a fellow human being (and thereby step into a new life of expanded humanity). Of course, there's also step 5b, where the master reacts to his sense of dependency by becoming ever more cruel and remote.

Here's one interview (CSpan) with Grandin, and here's another.

2:22 PM  
Anonymous Seeking Sanity said...

Here's one that Wafers should enjoy. A Dallas Cowboys football fan tears up his house after the team loses. He's living the American Dream.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1mGzaDh0M8

5:39 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Pil-

That master/slave psychology was explored by Hegel in a famous passage in, I think, the Phenomenology of Spirit. "Lord and Master"? Something like that. Also picked up by Jessica Benjamin in "The Bonds of Love." Both worth rdg, I can tell u.

kilo-

I'm hoping for a massive GOP victory, and only sorry that Palin, Cain, Mittney, and Lorenzo Riggins aren't in the running. The Dems are a pathetic collection of clowns and have done the US a lot of damage in the past 6 yrs, but the GOP can be counted on to do even more damage, and that excites me no end. After the Dems lose the Senate, I'm wondering if Obama might possibly look in the mirror and say to himself: "Cd Belman have been rt all along? Am I, in fact, a complete douche bag?" One can only hope.

O&D, muchachos; O&D.

mb

6:56 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

MB, Wafers-

This just in from CNN:

President Obama resigning the presidency. Obama stated three factors that contributed to his recent decision:

a. Realization that he is a douche bag.
b. Enrollment in Chicago's Avalon Park branch Bermanic Monastery.
c. Sudden desire to work at Bebe's Kosher Deli in Chicago.

MB-

Any advice for a penurious Wafer wanting to go to the WWSC?

JT

9:41 PM  
Anonymous Bongo the Dentist said...

@mb I agree with you and voted Libertarian because they would be the best bet to really destroy the current paradigm. They won't win, but still, I vote for what I want, not what others want, and I want this whole house of cards to come tumbling down. I certainly don't want to prolong it.

11:12 PM  
Anonymous lack of coherence said...

Anthony Bourdain just did a show in Iran, I highly recommend it.

I just found this comment on another blog about a trip to Iran (in response to watching the above mentioned show):

"One time about 6 years ago, me and my family were visiting Iran. And we arrived without having booked a hotel. So we thought we could just get a cab and go to the first hotel we could find. To our surprise all the hotels were full, or ridiculously expensive. So the cab driver that had been driving us around for what seemed to be an eternity, offered us to come sleep at his house. This really surprised me a lot.(We are 7 people total in my family)
So we arrived at this guy's home and his wife or kids had no idea he was going to bring home a family of 7 from Sweden to sleep. But they didn't really care and welcomed us like we were their neighbors.

I was expecting them to just put us in a room and let us sleep. But oh I was so wrong, they made us the biggest dinner ever and wouldn't let my mother help them cook it or anything. And the food never stopped coming. And we just sat there for like 5 hours eating and speaking with this lovely family that we had just met. It was my first time ever in Iran and I will never forget that day. Iran is absolutely awesome and the people are the most friendly people ever."

Axis of evil huh??

Here's more on the show

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/perspective/features/2014/11/02/Food-star-Anthony-Bourdain-tells-of-a-different-Iran-than-expected.html

6:51 AM  
Anonymous Quadster said...

Thought this would be apprciated here:
http://cluborlov.blogspot.com/2014/09/americathe-grim-truth.html

8:15 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

lack-

This is exactly the diff between Americans and other people. Check out my essay, "Love and Survival," on this blog. Americans have no inherent goodness in them; they're just douche bags.

Bongo-

Gd 4u. Remember that Rome wasn't destroyed in a day.

Jeff-

That's gd news. The Bermanic Monastery is doing the nec work: we pull Americans in off the st., give them lobotomies, and then see if we can turn them into some semblance of human beings. A dirty job, but someone hasta do it. Re: travel to Eire: yeah, $ is a problem here, I know. Wish I cd give out scholarships, but I'm worried abt going broke myself. Maybe my Japan bk will sell 1 million copies, and then I'll be able to fly everyone to Ireland.

New Yorker recently had a cover cartoon of A Day in Congress, or something like that. It showed clowns, the Mad Hatter, etc. as our congressmen. Right on target, I wd say. Hopefully, today's election will make things even worse.

mb

mb

11:20 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

lack,

And here's the counterpoint to your story, about a 90-year old pastor in Florida facing jail time & a fine for feeding the homeless:

http://www.salon.com/2014/11/04/90_year_old_florida_man_faces_jail_time_for_feeding_homeless/

1:14 PM  
Anonymous Dr. Hackenbush said...

Dr. Berman and all- I've been reading T.S.Kuhn's "Structure of Scientific Rev." Just wrote a short essay applying it (somewhat speculatively on my part) to the question of man-made global warming. Basically I suggest people should not be so credulous about scientific ideas of recent vintage, given what Kuhn says about the way science is practiced in reality (vs. the myth.)

See here:
http://timrockscomics.blogspot.com/2014/11/curb-your-credulity-what-thomas-kuhn.html

Appreciate any feedback!

***
Pilgrim- I have a post on my blog (under the "Articles" tab called "You Got Farmed." I wonder if it might be applicable to the Master/Slave conceit you are thinking about?

Who is the author of that book, by the way?

***
Also, thanks to the Trollfoons who commented on my "Trollfoon Central" post. (Scroll a few posts below the T.S. Kuhn essay if interested.)

1:53 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

I note the passing of Thomas Louis Magliozzi (28 June 1937-3 November 2014).

I think we would be justified in identifying him as a WAFer, and a Mensch to boot.

Below, the 3 November "Fresh Air" replay of Terry Gross's 2001 interview of Tom amd his brother Ray.

Remember: "Don't drive like my brother...and don't drive like my brother."

http://www.npr.org/2014/11/04/361408028/-we-have-learned-absolutely-nothing-tom-magliozzi-on-decades-of-car-talk?sc=17&f=13&utm_source=iosnewsapp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=app

3:49 PM  
Anonymous jason jones said...

you've got to be kidding me......

"90-year-old Florida man arrested for feeding the homeless"

http://khon2.com/2014/11/03/90-year-old-florida-man-arrested-for-feeding-the-homeless/

5:59 PM  
Anonymous DiogenesTheElder said...

Robin Williams, now Tommy. Ugh. Such laughter silenced. Lamentations and sadness abound.

And then there's this, a comment from the DailyKos regarding our current exercise in democratic governance:

"My husband keeps wanting to blame voting machine tampering.

I keep telling him the problem isn't with the voting machines. The problem is that there's a big swath of the American public that are among the dumbest fucking idiots in the world.

I think I'm going to bed."

I think that says it all (not sure if the f-bomb is suitable for the blog - please forgive if it is not).

O&D
AOBTS

DTE

10:44 PM  
Blogger Val said...

@ Jason - Way to go Fort Lauderdale! A. Huxley's prognostication is vindicated once again!

This quote caught my attention:

"One of police officers came over and said ‘Drop that plate right now,’ as if I was carrying a weapon," Abbott said."

I find this shocking. Why no taser? Why no grinding his face in the cement or twisting his arms and stomping the old geezer while shackling him? One can only hope they'll beat him to a pulp like Pennsylvania state police recently did to that handicapped guy for driving too slowly.

On another note, I'm very excited that on this election night Oakland mayor Jean Quan is up for reelection. If she wins, the Coliseum City development project will go through, and square miles of upscale malls and condos will blanket the south side of that city. Progress never ending! I'll keep my fingers crossed.

11:07 PM  
Anonymous kilo_mega_giga said...

As predicted, Republicans dominated the election. I want to highlight one election result:

"George P. wins Texas election, accomplishes Bush family first"

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/midterm-election-2014-george-p-wins-texas-election-accomplishes-bush-family-first/

oh then there's this:

"Jeb Bush may run for president in 2016"

http://www.greatfallstribune.com/story/opinion/columnists/2014/11/04/jeb-bush-may-run-president/18508541/

7:45 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

kilo-

Frankly, I'm abs. ecstatic. This GOP landslide accomplishes 2 things:

1. Obama may finally,at long last, hafta look in the mirror and say, "Shit, I really *am* a douche bag." He will accomplish 0 during next 2 yrs, and his 'presidency' will be revealed for what it was: trivial. The American people are hardly the brightest population in the world, but at least they know a douche bag when they see one (themselves excepted, of course).

2. Hopefully, during the next 2 yrs (and beyond?), the GOP will be able to inflict serious damage on the country and its (non)future. Obama did a lot of damage, but most of it was desultory. The GOP, on the other hand, knows exactly what it's doing. A gd step on the road to massive collapse. O&D, I say.

mb

ps: Wafers, pls hold back on posts for a wk, if u can; I'm off to Chicago and Vancouver, so computer access will be touch and go.

10:52 AM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Hello Wafers:

Say, Doc. B., on your trek between Chicago and Vancouver you could stop in at Saskatoon for a beer.

O&D

4:54 PM  
Anonymous Bingo said...

MB & Wafers,

I would like to share a thoughtful video interview with Warren Pollock. It is a multi-faceted interview where he touches on many points that MB covered in his books, including the inevitability of the coming Dark Ages. At one point in the interview it sounds like he has adopted a new monastic lifestyle. He also talks about one of Chris Hedges’ favorite topics, Inverted Totalitarianism. Enjoy!

http://usawatchdog.com/damage-control-going-to-wear-off-in-2015-warren-pollock/

Otherwise, I too am ecstatic to see the War Party back in control. We can now finally expect to see some serious tax breaks for billionaires and, at last, a full invasion of Canada.

O&D,
Julian

11:40 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Anon-

Sorry, I don't post Anons. Pls pick a handle and re-send yr message, thanks.

Everybody-

Just hold off on postings for abt a wk, while I'm on the rd, if u possibly can. We can resume our joy over GOP victory on Nov. 14.

mb

6:55 AM  
Anonymous Rufustina Firefly said...

Will you refuse to post this? I hope not but won't be surprised if it doesn't make it into the conversation here.
I just saw something (in the comments section of an article by Henry A. Giroux) about Occupy that perhaps y'all might consider.
Quote: "Occupy Wall Street was terrifying to our financial 'elites' precisely because it had no leaders, who could be bought off or killed, and no specific demands, which could be ridiculed or nit-picked to obfuscation by technobabble. It was terrifying also because people from all over the political spectrum were having real-time conversations about their living conditions which were unmediated by paid 'experts,' and discovering how much they had in common.
"This is the model for organizing the next wave of popular resistance. According to the mythology surrounding the Founders, we are a nation whose leaders have been granted 'the consent of the governed;' we now have the task of discovering for ourselves the ways in which we can withdraw our consent."

I think it makes sense. But then I have been an Occupy supporter from the get-go, as you know. Sorry to beat what you consider a dead horse, but still...

2:23 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Ruf-

Yes, pls hold off on comments for just a few days. As far as OWS goes, I don't think it terrified anybody. The Left's susceptibility to romantic idealism, esp. of the self-inflating kind, is legendary.

mb

12:12 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dear Wafers,

I'm still in Vancouver, but I think we can probably revive this tragically neglected blog at this pt. I have access to a friend's computer today, and on Wed. I fly back to Mexico City, so will be back in action on Nov. 14. I know u have suffered terribly w/o our usual interaction, so perhaps it's time to pick up where we left off.

Meanwhile, Cdn friends told me that 3 wks ago Canada passed a law similar to the one England passed 2 yrs ago (or so, I guess), outlawing "terrorist speech." Problem is, in neither case was the phrase explicitly defined, so it becomes a rather large net capable of sweeping up anyone the govt doesn't like. I can't imagine it won't be long b4 the US passes similar legislation. I recall, a few yrs ago, predicting that the US wd create a category called "intellectual terrorism," and this cd be it. Given the vagueness of definitions here, this blog cd easily qualify as criminal activity. Just for starters, I've urged the nuking of Toronto and Paris, and 'admitted' to funnelling billions of $ to al-Qaeda. This probably will not be read by the FBI as irony, since I have a feeling that irony is not their strong suit. We have already shredded the Bill of Rts, so might as well polish off the 1st Amendment, is what it looks like. Where will we be in 10 yrs? The blog closed down, and me in Guantanamo? It's an interesting thought…

mb

4:57 AM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings MB and Wafers!

A week w/o this blog is like the onset of early stage dementia or the sundowning syndrome. The ol' noodle begins to turn into chopped liver as I nearly forgot my password to post this comment.

More on the student stupidity front: a lecture about the 1920s revealed the fact that my entire class, 47 students, had never heard of Duke Ellington or Louis Armstrong. This is *not* a joke! I'm considering a final exam essay question which will deal specifically with this issue. Something along the lines of, in 500 words or less, describe your recent discovery that you are a complete dumb shit and what is to be done about it.

Meanwhile, here's a bit of *bad is good* news: a recent CBS News poll revealed that 71% of those surveyed said they supported continued air assaults against Islamic State. Even more notable, the number of people who supported sending US troops back to Iraq to fight IS had increased to 47%, up from 39%. A total of 58% said they considered IS a major threat to American security, tho IS hasn't mounted any attacks outside its home ground in the Middle East. There's just no reason in the world to think that things have changed in the slightest...

O&D,

Jeff

ps:

I am the living death
the memorial day on wheels
I am your yankee doodle dandy
your john wayne come home
your fourth of july firecracker
exploding in the grave

~ Ron Kovic, 1976

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2014/nov/12/iraq-war-veteran-activist-tomas-young-dies

1:02 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jeff-

In the Horse's Ass Dept., have yr students chew on this:

http://www.usmagazine.com/celebrity-body/news/kim-kardashian-bares-butt-on-naked-paper-cover-internet-memes-20141211

mb

1:53 PM  
Anonymous neunder said...

Dark Age America:

Hungry Women TEAR UP McDONALD’S After They Were Late for Breakfast Menu
http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2014/11/breakfast-beatdown-hungry-women-tear-up-mcdonalds-after-they-were-late-for-the-breakfast-menu-video/

Two Calif. Women Camp-Out In Front Of Best Buy, 22 Days Ahead Of Black Friday
http://lasvegas.cbslocal.com/2014/11/11/two-calif-women-camp-out-in-front-of-best-buy-22-days-ahead-of-black-friday/

2:46 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

Jeff,

Given the reality of the US military as a massive jobs program, that figure is surprisingly low. If there's anything Americans love to hate, it's wasted taxpayer money. So WTF are we paying all these fuckers for?! Get those boots on the ground!

4:15 PM  
Blogger k_pgh said...


Dear Dr. Berman,

Nuking Toronto and Paris is very important as they are the embodiment of all things evil and dark and together form the Primary Eigenvector of Evil (PEE). Sadly, I worry that Americans aren’t up to the challenge of intentionally nuking anyone these days. If Americans want to protect the world from the PEE, they may have to settle for several dozen drone strikes instead. In a better world, Americans could subcontract the nuclear missile launches to Russia – just as they’ve done with their space program. Unfortunately, given the tensions with Putin, this seems unlikely for the time being. Still, we can always hope for some random nuclear destruction even if it’s not as satisfying as nuking the PEE.



--

For an entertaining onward-and-downward take on America and Nuclear Weapons see: John Oliver – Nuclear Weapons: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Y1ya-yF35g

5:04 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Waferinos-

Gd 2b online again. Shd tell u that a # of Wafers wrote in to say that they suffered terrible withdrawal symptoms during our little hiatus. This included severe rashes, the shakes, and a couple of near-psychotic episodes leading to injections of Haldol. I apologize for all of this, as I know that a day w/o this blog is basically a lost 24 hrs. At least no one killed themselves (that I know of).

Onward into the breach! Let us fight against the govt, and the trollfoons.

mb

6:04 PM  
Anonymous Vince said...

MB,

I hope that you are doing well and that you had a safe trip. I have been reading for a while, but not contributing. Since we are on the topic of nuclear war, I thought that I would add the link for the old HBO movie "By Dawn's Early Light".

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

In today's day and age it is hard for me to imagine HBO or anyone else for that matter making a movie questioning the sanity of such a weapons program. There is a line by one of the military leaders in regards to a decision by the stand in president to order a full nuclear strike against the then USSR. "You are destroying God's work now!" was how I believe the line read.

In all seriousness, while I believe that Guy McPherson is correct in assessing that our future is quite dire when it comes to the climate, I am actually really concerned that we may actually sleep walk our way into what could by the final conflagration / WWIII.

Of course we all know that our way of life is not sustainable. But destroying any chance for any type of new era of possible enlightenment or spiritual renewal in the future seems to be at serious risk given the fools that we have running the show.

Wouldn't you agree?

Peace,
Vince

9:19 PM  
OpenID atearinrain said...

According to the late Edward Dorn, it's been douchebags on parade in the US since at least the '60s. Seems we can add him to the list of famous Wafers, as he was also fond of pissing on American douchebaggery. Here's how he concludes the very Waferesque "The Smug Never Silent Guns of the Enemy":

And more corrupted reports follow you out
the door, they implore you to think young
and you do
it is such a pleasure in the sagebrush
in the open saturated air
zipping up your pants
having made more of the latest news
on the new snow.

10:04 PM  
Anonymous AS said...

2 videos worth watching:

For the Douchebags on Parade file: Texas college students fail to answer basic questions about US history/politics (who fought the Civil War, who's the vice president, etc.):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRZZpk_9k8E

How Americans interact with each other:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Czb4rImsph0

Film recommendation:

The Immigrant (2014) - A pretty scathing indictment of the American Dream, the film follows a Polish immigrant who travels to the US in 1921 with her sister and quickly realizes that the Land of Opportunity isn't so magical after all.


12:14 AM  
Anonymous Golf Pro said...

Nice bit of context here:

http://www.thedailymash.co.uk/news/celebrity/kardashian-photo-breaks-human-spirit-2014111392762

8:59 AM  
Anonymous neunder said...

Buffoons attached to cellphones:

Photographer Captures 'The Death Of Conversation' Due To Smartphones

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/10/27/photographer-smartphones-babycakes-romero_n_6054650.html

9:38 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

neunder-

There is a very small % of Americans that is catching onto the fact that most of their fellow countrymen are douche bags.

mb

10:54 AM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and Wafers,

AS-

Many thanks for those two videos. You know, the great thing about this blog is that it's essentially capturing the *essence* of what America has turned into right before our eyes, yes? Wafers are performing one of the most vital and necessary public services: recording and documenting the collapse of the United States. One day, scholars in digital libraries from far away lands, will pour over this material, evaluate it, and write up dissertations and award winning works of history and sociology for the few honest readers who are still left alive on the marble. At this late stage of America's development, this blog is its only hope...

Dan-

Yes, I thought the same thing about those dismal numbers. Makes one wonder what happened to the doctrine of manifest destiny, and our providential mission, no?

Wafers, MB-

The time has come for me to swipe a move from the Bingo playbook... or, as MB says, pick a handle, already. Henceforth, I will no longer be known as Jeff T. My new handle will be a combo of two of the many things that I love in this world: Miles Deli.

Miles

12:53 PM  
Anonymous Troutbum said...

Dr. MB and all fellow WAFers:

Todat I nominate William Greider as an honorary WAFer for his short spot on commentary on the Democratic Party.
Quoting, " Democratic Party is utterly out of touch with ordinary people and their adverse circumstances. Working people have known this for some time now....54 percent suffered a decline in household income during the past year. Sixty-three percent feel the economy is fundamentally unfair. Fifty-five percent agree strongly (and another 25 percent agree somewhat) that both political parties are too focused on helping Wall Street and not enough on helping ordinary people....Long ago, the party abandoned its working-class base and steadily distanced itself from the unglamorous conditions that matter most in people’s lives....The Republicans are a wholly owned subsidiary of the business-finance machine; the Democrats are rented."
He fails at the end calling for "insurrection inside and outside party bounds" which isn't going to happen.
It's here :http://www.thenation.com/article/190385/how-democratic-party-lost-its-soul

3:23 PM  
Anonymous Curious said...

Oh! I! *AM* so joy!ful. SUBSCRIBE HERE! SUBSCRIBE HERE! SUBSCRIBE HERE! as Russell Brand would say:

www.voltairenet.org/article185860.html

10:07 AM  
Anonymous neunder said...

It's this statement by the photographer, Babycakes Romero, that hammers the point home:

"All social etiquette regarding the use of phones in company seems to have disappeared. The device takes precedence over the person that is present and that felt wrong. It is a form of rejection and lowers the self-worth of the person superceded for a device. I feel it also highlights a growing sense of self-absorption in people as they would rather focus on their world in their phone rather than speak to the person they are with."

I believe you've said similar things.

10:38 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

neunder-

Check out Daniel Patrick Moynihan on "defining deviancy down," wh/is what has happened over the last few decades.

Jeff-

Does Miles refer to running, or jazz?

mb

12:03 PM  
Anonymous schmuckwithunderwood said...

Y'all ready for Waferbowl 2014? Here's some videos from last Waferbowl to get you pumped up!

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

3:16 PM  
Anonymous Pilgrim said...

@Dr. Hackenbush...

>> I have a post on my blog (under the "Articles" tab called "You Got Farmed." I wonder if it might be applicable to the Master/Slave conceit you are thinking about? <<

I apologize for the late response. I was honoring the professor's request that we hold off from posting for a week.

I liked your "You Got Farmed" post up at your blog. And an impressive web-site as well! But although your blog article sounds very much like a plantation situation, I'm not sure that the existential impasse would broadly apply. Folks more learned than I may disagree, but I would think that the authoritarian relationship would need to have a certain degree of intimacy involved. The slave must be allowed to penetrate the master's personal sphere, and to be able to clearly see the master's faults and weaknesses - sufficiently enough that the master's claim to superiority is called into serious question. By the way, the book's author is Greg Grandin.

This reminds me of one of Wallace Shawn’s essays. As you probably know, Shawn is an actor and playwright, and was in My Dinner with Andre, The Princess Bride, and many other movies/plays. He wrote a beautiful book of essays, one of which talks about the relationship between people of privilege and those less fortunate - and by extension, the relationship between the US and the world...

"It's obviously a characteristic of human beings that we like to feel superior to others. But our problem is that we're not superior. We like the sensation of being served by others and feeling superior to them, but if we're forced to get to know the people who serve us, we quickly see that they're in fact just like us. And then we become uncomfortable - uncomfortable and scared, because if we can see that we're just the same, well, they might too, and if they did, they might become terribly, terribly angry because why should they be serving us? So that's why we prefer not to talk to waiters."

Here's two links to Shawn discussing his essays (CSpan and Laura Flanders).

4:08 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

Since diving into the jazz section, I've encountered several excellent artists and have been grooving since. Just want to recommend one such group; Thievery Corporation. Probably only new to me, but damn they're good.

6:34 PM  
Anonymous kilo_mega_giga said...

MB -

My parents continue to blame me for my complaints about work and the economy. They tell me it's my way of dealing with things.

What's the best way to handle it? I try to explain to them that I'm not the only one tired of how things go at work.

10:39 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Well, from the "Everything gets commodified" department:
A few days ago I was talking to a friend who never reveals his emotional side to me. It's always boring hard reality-where did you go? What time did you get there? and so on. Finally, he starts emoting and telling me about his problems at home, fears about his job, his children; in short, a real pouring of the heart. It was so refreshing to hear this. Then at the end he asked me for a rather big favor. Amazing! He needed something from me, knew what I wanted (an emotional connection) and so decided to reveal some aspects about his life which, on reflection may or may not be true after all.
I mean how sick is this country if you can use an emotional outpouring as a means to gain something? I suppose it's not very new. Didn't Clinton get elected with his "I feel your pain" crap. I suppose that Americans are so devoid of emotional connection that if a candidate even approximates empathy Americans are sure to follow.
Yes, I've been away for a while. Unusually busy as a public edjewmacator.

8:35 AM  
Blogger Mister Roboto said...

@Troutbum: The past five years in general and the most recent election in particular finally drove home for me the realization that American progressives are mostly nincompoops and codependent losers and probably always will be. (As that bluntly-spoken character from the HBO series "The Newsroom put it, "If liberals are so fucking smart, then how come they lose so goddamn always?") This realization is proving key to extracting the tentacles of the malign influence of the Politics Industry from my mind. I guess I wouldn't have identified with the progressives for so long if I weren't those things to some extent myself, but I would rather not be somebody who doubles down and mainlines the Kool-Aid with a syringe and tourniquet upon seeing all the evidence that it doesn't amount to so much as a hill of beans. I may be a loser, but as long as one is a graceful and reality-based loser in a society full of delusional narcissistic asshole so-called winners, that really isn't such a bad thing.

8:45 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

Here's an interesting article/interview about the failed moment of the 1970s:

http://www.salon.com/2014/11/16/thomas_frank_on_ronald_
reagans_secret_tragedy_how_70s_and_80s_cynicism_
poisoned_democrats_and_america/

While I agree with one comment that Thomas Frank is far too much a believer in the innate goodness of the otherwise duped American public, victim of manipulative leaders -- I do agree that the mid-1970s was the closest we came to taking a good, hard look at ourselves. But too many people even then option for golden illusions over painful, unsettling truth.

Meanwhile, we get this sort of "scientific" idiocy:

http://www.salon.com/2014/11/16/death_should_be_optional/

Now, does anyone really believe that if the majority of human beings became immortal, even if it were possible, that they'd somehow develop into enlightened, creative uber-souls? Or that the rich would control it & decide who gets to be immortal & who doesn't?

Yesterday I was driving through the local town where I spent my teenaged years, and was reminded of a bookstore no longer standing, one which provided me with my introduction to a world of ideas. The town used to have 4 used bookstores, plus a couple of stores for new books; now it has no bookstores of any kind. And I was struck by a Proustian flood of memories, drenched in a sense of loss, as I recalled how much richer everyday life was then, by how much potential existed -- and how it was all squandered by this country over the past 40-50 years. Even allowing for teenaged optimism & a Romantic sensibility, I got a visceral sense of just how hollow, superficial, and frantically ugly contemporary culture has become -- how very little people settle for today, and yet how desperately they claw for it.

1:38 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

kilo-

Waste of time. Jerry Seinfeld once said that at some pt in yr life, you realize the only thing you can do w/yr parents is have dinner. He meant w/o any significant discussion. I think this may be gd advice. Impt to go where the energy is, and not interact w/folks who just drain it from you.

shmuck-

Abs. wonderful. Americans are so hi-class, eh?

mb

7:54 PM  
Anonymous Troutbum said...

To Mr. Roboto,
Yes as a class most if not all Americans, even Progressives are hopeless. Nonetheless, as an old Professor once explained to me, "You got to pick the diamonds from the dung". There are many people who have snippets of wisdom in their observations. It's up to WAFers to make a coherent understanding of our reality. It's synthesis that matters.

7:57 PM  
Anonymous Ray said...

Tim,

I was touched by what you wrote (extract below). How precisely your words (and their old-school rhythm) convey the emotion of losing so much of we all just breathed in freely back then. It's almost Japanesque. Thanks.

"...a sense of loss, as I recalled how much richer everyday life was then, by how much potential existed -- and how it was all squandered by this country over the past 40-50 years...I got a visceral sense of just how hollow, superficial, and frantically ugly contemporary culture has become..."

Novels get started with less, Tim. You have the perfect opening lines for the very last great American novel that should be written.

Morris - it's Ray, been away for years, just had nothing worthwhile to add in the meantime. But have followed the discussion, shook my head,gritted my teeth, and laughed out loud in disbelief with all you guys almost daily. Serial but interrupted Lurkerdom - I think this is my third time around. I've taken your advice from 2012. Writing a novel, man, just as you suggested after one of my posts about the cannibalization (down to the surveillance cameras themselves!) of the Borders flagship store in Ann Arbor on the very last day of the closing-out sale.
Thanks Morris.

4:55 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Ray-

Gd to have you back. In future, pls send messages to latest post, as no one reads the older ones. Thanks.

mb

9:51 AM  
Blogger Charles Bynum said...

I would love to know what a wafer is. I recently read three of your books, Twilight of American Culture, Dark Ages America, and Why America Failed. It is refreshing to find a like-minded individual, as I thought I was the only one. The issues you write about seem like they should be readily apparent to most people, but alas, they are not. I happen to share your belief that the end is inevitable, but I appreciate the fact that you do not fall into despair. I am sometimes told I am a pessimist, but then the realist appears as the pessimist to the unbridled optimist. I have thus stopped sharing my insights with people as they seem to be easily angered and before you know it, I am called un-American. Ag well, as I always say, "To thos who cannot see, words are inadequate. To those who already see, words are unnecessary." Let me know what a wafer is. Thanks, Charles

9:42 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Charles-

Pls send messages to most recent post, as no one reads the older stuff. Wafer comes from WAF--Why America Failed. Hence, a Wafer is someone who identifies with the themes of this book. More broadly, it refers to an intelligent, alert, and decent person: there are a total of 145 Wafers registered on this blog, and in the US. Divide that by 318 million, and you get the % of the American population who are Wafers. It's a rather small #. Anyway, welcome to Waferdom; there is no higher state of consciousness.

mb

11:26 PM  

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