December 08, 2014

So Much for That

Dear Wafers,

So Much for That is the title of a remarkable novel by Lionel Shriver, which you might want to put on your Xmas Reading list. It has two important points to make:

1. The U.S. is a violent, depressing country filled with people who are not very bright; who are, at the most basic level, selfish and cruel; and who stopped being human a long time ago.
2. Hitting the road is the only intelligent response to this state of affairs, and if there is any way you can escape, it's essential that you do so. (Shriver herself moved to England.)

The book is bursting with brilliant passages. Here are two of my favorites:

"There's something especially terrible about being told over and over that you have the most wonderful life on earth and it doesn't get any better and it's still shit. This is supposed to be the greatest country in the world,'s a sell...I must have forty different 'passwords' for banking and telephone and credit card and Internet accounts, and forty different account numbers, and you add them up and that's our lives. And it's all ugly, physically ugly. The strip malls...the Kmarts and Wal-Marts and Home Depots...all plastic and chrome with blaring, clashing colors, and everyone in a hurry, to do what?"
"[He] was born into a country whose culture had produced the telephone, the flying machine, the assembly line, the Interstate highway, the air-conditioner, and the fiber-optic cable. His people were brilliant with the inanimate--with ions and prions, with titanium and uranium, with plastic that would survive a thousand years. With sentient matter--the kind that can't help but notice when a confidant suddenly drops off the map the moment the friendship becomes inconvenient, disagreeable, demanding, and incidentally also useful for something at last--his countrymen were inept...these people had never been taught how to behave in relation to a whole side of life--the far side--that had been staring them in the face since they had a face...these shabby specimens of the species..."

"After us," wrote Yeats a hundred years ago, "the Savage God." Looks like He has finally arrived.



Anonymous Edward said...

When I first read this news about 20 minutes ago, Morris Berman came to my mind immediately.

China overtakes U.S. as world's largest economy, again
Posted: 8:36 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 7, 2014

Sorry, America. China just overtook the US to become the world's largest economy, according to the International Monetary Fund.

2:49 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Hola Dr. Berman and Wafers,


Many thanks for another great book suggestion. Jesus, the first quote from Lionel Shriver's novel says it all! There's beauty in telling it like it is, no?

Quite frankly, I'm sick to death of the *we can fix this* angle; you know, the one that says with enough elbow grease, intelligence, and progressive politics we can solve anything and get this train back on track. This is a bunch of malarkey. Whenever I encounter it, in book or human form, I wanna throw it against the wall...pee on it...or stick my tongue out at it. After all, how can a society that is dumber than a box of hammers fix anything? Here's a case in point: the militarization of college police forces. That's right...campus police forces. Turns out, several California college districts have purchased grenade launchers and one even purchased a $733,000 mine-resistant armored assault vehicle. This, w/out any community input at all.



4:03 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Not that surprising, of course. In any American high schl or college, if you look around the typical classrm, the yellow kids are focused on calculus (or whatever), and the white kids on updating their Facebk profiles. Upon graduation, the yellow kids go back to China and help the country expand its sci-tech-econ muscle; the white kids just continue being self-absorbed douche bags.


I confess I'm kinda sad, that these colleges didn't buy any drones.


5:31 PM  
Blogger Jake said...

Timely advice. I just applied for a job in our target country a few days ago.
It was custom-created for me. But of course, I need more than one way to get there. Thanks for the reminder to keep on working to make it happen.

I am still ambivalent about who I dislike more: the liberal/progressives and their lunatic hope and ineffective policies (it's like watching an ice-cube try to stop a forest fire), or the "conservatives" who don't actually want to conserve anything.

I think I'll let them battle it out, while they get choked to death or beaten to a pulp by the militarized police.

5:59 PM  
Blogger Frederick Froth said...

Sadly, despite the insightful things that the said lady has to say, she is associated with the UK neo-liberal (psychotic) magazine Standpoint which is a full on booster of the savage "god" of both old-time christian religion, and its bastard adolescent offspring global capitalism.

The magazine regularly features rants from prominent talking heads associated with right-wing USA think (stink) tanks such as the Heritage Foundation, the AEI etc etc.

Meanwhile the movie version of her novel Lets Talk About Kevin was very well done, and very disturbing too.

8:20 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

System of a Down's Toxicity album is aging like a fine wine...

8:24 PM  
Anonymous brooklynese said...

Shriver moved to England to get away from America? That's like avoiding McDonald's to eat at Burger King.

10:45 PM  
Anonymous Rusty Snag said...

Hello Dr. Berman and Wafers,

I know Chris Hedges gets mixed reviews on this blog, but I really enjoyed this article and would recommend it to Wafers everywhere (all 149 of us).

I got to the bottom of the article and observed that Chris didn't make a single suggestion on how to fix this mess we call America. Maybe he too is entering the realm of Waferism. There were also some good NMI-like comments following the article.

9:38 AM  
Anonymous Pilgrim said...

@ Dr. Berman...
>> His people were brilliant with the inanimate... <<

Reminds me of Auden's poem Moon Landing: "We were always adroiter with objects than lives, and more facile at courage than kindness".

11:06 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I think I screwed up on yr posts. Sorry! One rule we have here: post only once every 24 hrs. So re-send one of them, and I'll try not to botch it.


Not quite, but I take yr pt. I'd be happier if she moved to Bora Bora, but perhaps that's in the pipeline.


Chris' problem is that his heart and his head are going in opposite directions. He's really too smart to believe anything can be done to rescue America, but he wants to believe it, quite badly. In another 10 yrs, when things are dramatically worse than they are now, he might just enter the sacred halls of Waferdom. Meanwhile, as u pt out, Waferian and NMI-thinking is definitely a strong theme in the comments to his essay.


12:15 PM  
Anonymous Zeke said...

No problem MB! I forgot about the one-post-a-day rule since I was posting in separate threads. Just wanted to say I was looking forward to reading Shriver's book, and wanted to recommend "Billy Linn's Long Half-Time Walk", which I just finished. It's about a 19-year-old Army grunt on a victory tour after he gets videotaped in an iraqi firefight by Fox News. The poor kid gets sent to a Thanksgiving football game in Texas, and looks at the artifice of America with new eyes. The big theme of the book is how people "support our troops" and make a big show of thanking soldiers, but are really doing it for self-exaltation's sake, while not really giving a damn about the guys risking their lives for $14,000 a year. However there's tons of WAFerisms packed into the novel.

Far as Chris Hedges, I think he knows where everything's headed. His position is that you don't resist because you think you might win, but because its required, morally. There were comments to that effect in his interview at the Earth First conference - which was him at his most morose, he practically came out and said everything's irredeemably fucked.

Speaking of everything being fucked, anyone read the Senate's new torture report?

3:13 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Required by whom? I admire the Jews who left Germany in the 30s, not the ones who stayed. But that's just me. In any case, there *are* things one can do if it's all irredeemably fucked, which is where Dual Process comes in (and which overlaps easily with the New Monastic Option). I also think we need to smell the roses, once in a while. Waferdom is a rich mixture...


6:54 PM  
Blogger Val said...

MB, I much enjoy the conciseness of the list of core American characteristics that you've distilled from Ms. Shriver's novel: stupid, cruel, and selfish. I mean to commit this simple list to memory, with especial emphasis on the first item.

I suppose canned happiness quotients probably aren't the best criterion for selecting a Waferian place of expatriacy, but I *did* say before that I've been considering Costa Rica, and the following certainly doesn't seem to hurt:

I gather it has socialized health care, which I consider a major litmus test of a nation's basic sanity & viability as a home for civilized humans.

I've just read an essay by Charles Eisenstein about cultivating the mental attitude that he considers necessary to "living in the gift," as he puts it:

I think I descry a likeness or connection between Eisenstein's ideas and some of those put forth or referenced by MB, as for example in the essay "The Waning of the Modern Ages" (Counterpunch, 20 September 2012).

"...the biologist David Ehrenfeld writes: 'Our first task is to create a shadow economic, social, and even technological structure that will be ready to take over as the existing system fails.' "

Bailing on capitalism is something that I dearly wish to do. This would seem a bit tricky to pull off while that system still pretty much rules most of the world, very notably the place where I have the (mis)fortune to currently reside. But I think it's worth working on.

I (re)discovered that essay while searching for a thumbnail description or definition of Dual Process, and Dr. Belman obliged handsomely. I add it here for the benefit of those who, like me, have not grokked the concept from more in-depth writings:

"My guess is that 'dual process'—the disintegration of capitalism and the concomitant emergence of an alternative socioeconomic formation—is going to be the central story of the rest of this century."

Thanks, MB!

10:24 PM  
Anonymous Birney Zouave said...

Rick Santorum is running again; here's a link to his super-patriotic PAC site:

9:08 AM  
Anonymous JWO said...

A nice little WAF-er list here:

No big news from up in MN, I'm stuck in a lazy-susan (or is that cluster-f*ck?) of bureaucracy and covering of asses .. though I'm am very glad to hear Jake has a chance at getting out!

10:30 AM  
Anonymous Pilgrim said...

>> wanted to recommend "Billy Linn's Long Half-Time Walk"... <<

Absolutely! I finished the book a few months ago. As Zeke says, the protagonist, Billy Lynn, returns home and sees his culture with fresh eyes. The old hologram of a culture that he took for granted has been shattered by his combat experience. He's been forced to confront the ultimate matters of life and death, and this confrontation has been so overwhelming that he describes it with awe, mystery, and having a spiritual quality - of "being raped by angels"...

"The mystery, the awe, that huge sadness and grief. Oh my people. ... The soul is an actual, tangible thing, Billy knows this now. For two weeks he’s been traveling this great nation of ours in the good faith belief that sooner or later he’ll meet someone who can explain his experience, or at least break it down and properly frame the issue."

But no one can help him: "They want it to be easy and it’s just not going to be".

As he looks over the super bowl crowd he thinks … "the war makes him wish for a little more than the loose jaw and dull stare of the well-fed ruminant. Oh my people, my fellow Americans! See the world with prophet’s eyes!" And as he looks at the men "who lumber around with Cowboys jerseys hanging past their coattails and their pants bagged around the heels of their boots, a fatal foreshortening of vertical line that makes them look like a bunch of hulking twelve-year-olds. Oh my people." (Compare Kunstler)

He becomes fully aware of the rampant commercialism, describing the US as "a country with a mall attached". As for Americans in general … "All the fakeness just rolls right off them, maybe because the nonstop sales job of American life has instilled in them exceptionally high thresholds for sham, puff, spin, bullshit, and outright lies, in other words for advertising in all its forms. Billy himself never noticed how fake it all is until he’d done time in a combat zone."

Here's a Dianne Rehm discussion of the book, and here's the Bookworm podcast.

10:34 AM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Well, Dr. B and others

Another example of where "the charm never stops in this nation" as my friend says. He gave me this link as well.

Here is another example of our fucked up nation.

Now we have homicide that is prime time starring Elliot Rodger.

When one starts looking at all of this and collate it together one sees how "charming" of a society we live in which one sees everything as a competition, people as commodities and trophies, all because America is a business-oriented and opportunistic environment.

12:47 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

Anyone casting about for something amusing to do could do worse than to tune in to C-SPAN to catch the latest doings of Our Elected Representatives (OER).

Finding myself in that circumstance yesterday (Tuesday, 9 December), I joined the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee--Rep. Daryll Issa (R-CA), Chairman--already in progress.

The witness was Jonathan Gruber, MIT economics professor and unfortunate target of the wrath of OER. Gruber, who had been a key player in the development and introduction of the 2006 Massachusetts health care reform (AKA Romneycare), had also played a key role in the development of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 2010 (ACA, also known to familiars as Obamacare).

During subsequent discussions and panels following the bill's passage, Gruber had had the temerity to note the importance of the stupidity of the American voter--people that H.L. Mencken had dubbed the American booboisie--in getting the act made into law.

The nerve!

Following, a bit more background on the hapless Gruber's post-passage prattlings, taken from Wikipedia:
In November 2014, a series of videos emerged of Gruber speaking about the ACA at different events, from 2010 to 2013, in ways that proved to be controversial. Many of the videos show him talking about ways in which he felt the ACA was misleadingly crafted and/or marketed in order to get the bill passed, while in some of the videos he specifically refers to American voters as ill-informed or "stupid." In the first, most widely-publicized video taken at a panel discussion about the ACA at the University of Pennsylvania in October 2013, Gruber said the bill was deliberately written "in a tortured way" to disguise the fact that it creates a system by which "healthy people pay in and sick people get money." He said this obfuscation was needed due to "the stupidity of the American voter" in ensuring the bill's passage. Gruber said the bill's inherent "lack of transparency is a huge political advantage" in selling it.[23] The comments caused significant controversy.[24][25][26][27][28] In two subsequent videos, Gruber was shown talking about the decision (which he attributed to John Kerry) to have the bill tax insurance companies instead of patients (the so-called "Cadillac tax"), which he called fundamentally the same thing economically but more palatable politically. In one video, he stated that "the American people are too stupid to understand the difference" between the two approaches, while in the other he said that the switch worked due to "the lack of economic understanding of the American voter."[29]

2:00 PM  
Anonymous Curious said...

Let's suppose this form of communication (web)is somehow selectively shut down. Look around. Whoever you see is all the company and intellectual stimulation you have. I wondered why people are still streaming into cities until I had that tiny epiphany. Try living in a small town -- especially one in which everyone is multiply kin to each other by blood and/or marriage, which is the historic norm. There *were* no 'good old days'. Read The Road to Wigan Pier, and Akenfield ('Achingfield'); read reconstructions of stone age social behaviours, (as in) The Bog People; read historic statistics of incomes and diet and social conditions and opportunities for the 99% of *any* period! 'The good old days' exist(ed) only for the historically few with unearned incomes! The way of life that's passing is the best the common person has ever had. *We* at this blog would never have been educated or articulate enough historically -- or *allowed* -- to have so criticized our 'betters'. And that's what we're returning to. What we're all moaning about is really just the human condition. We're whiners. Don't breed. That's the only true freedom we have. What's coming -- with now all our folkways lost, our collective psychological grit all gone -- IS physically and materially the 'good old days'.... with all that made the common people's lives bearable arrogantly jettisoned for fake Versailles junk and Vachon cake, and 'this year's.... iphone.

3:06 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Well, I cdn't disagree more, but I confess I don't have the energy to revive that debate. We have discussed modern vs. pre-modern at great length on this blog, and altho both have their strengths and weaknesses, to my mind pre-modern wins the debate in those áreas that are really vital for human health and spiritual meaning. Anyway, there are many more on yr side than mine, if that's any comfort 2u. So at this pt, all I can do is say godspeed and gd luck.

Val, Pilgrim, and James-

We have an informal 1/2 page máximum rule on this blog. Yr posts are great, but kinda long. In future, I'd really appreciate it if you'd be sure to compress yr messages down to half a page. Many thanks.


5:28 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Here's a 12th reason: Lindorff spelled 'reasons' wrong, and Counter Punch didn't even catch it. Jesús Christ. That being said, it's a great essay.


5:45 PM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

@brooklynese - well said.

I recently visited London for the first time since 1999 and was appalled by how homogenized GB is becoming. You now see the same set of chain stores and eateries about every three blocks throughout central London. The theater district features most of the same lame-o shows that predominate on Broadway, and the citizenry are starting to more and more resemble Americans with their techno-centric behavior (though still minus about 30 pounds of bodyweight on average). Even the pubs have largely lost their unique character and become corporatized--a sad fact Simon Pegg used to great comedic effect in his movie, The World's End).

And let's not even get started about how the political left in GB has been every bit as co-opted as in the U.S. After all, a Republican president may have ramped up the war on terror with all of its hideous abuses, but it was a Labor Party PM who obediently went along with all of it.

6:22 PM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

MB - Sorry to violate the one post a day rule, but I just wanted to point out that the typo was NOT Lindorff's fault. The spelling is correct on his blog (and on The Smirking Chimp website)--it was CP that got it wrong.

6:36 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Well that's gd, but the fact that CP misspelled it is still a 12th reason I'm ashamed 2b an American. "Reason's"!
Can u imagine?


7:14 PM  
Anonymous lack of coherence said...

MB -

I wanted to see if you'd give your take on this news story:

"New Jersey daughter sues her divorced parents for college tuition -- and wins"

I had a similar experience, where my parents had the money, they just didn't want to pay for my school. They encouraged me to take out loans, while they were buying a new house and going on vacations (they were divorced, and also paying for new kids).

Do you think this is something common in America? Where parents will often give their kids the boot at 18 and do their own thing? I'd even asked to live at home and go to community college, and they told me I needed to go to a university, but they didn't want to help me.

9:25 PM  
Anonymous Bruce Bennett said...

That comment about Americans being "stupid, cruel and selfish" got me to thinking about an insightful observer of the United States - D.H. Lawrence.
In his words "The essential American soul was hard, stoic, isolate and a killer. It has never yet melted." It is tragic that it takes people like Lawrence, an Englishman who came to this country and traveled about or Alexis de Toqueville who did the same and wrote the incisive and prescient "Democracy in America" or even the brilliant comedian George Carlin who told Keith Olbermann not long before he died that "This country is finished."
When I look around and see what has happened to the U.S. in the 66 years of my life I see a country in rapid decline which is just going through the motions of being a republic while being torn apart from within. I have said this more than once on other blogs - The Republicans and, to a somewhat lesser extent, the Democrats are a far greater threat to this country than the Taliban or ISIS could ever be.

11:21 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

Hahahahahaha MB, very sharp!

11:46 PM  
Anonymous DiogenesTheElder said...

Here is something from a profound writer and thinker whose articles, for a time, appeared on Commondreams. He is responding to the most recent bile (quoted first) emanating from Fox "News" in their response to Tuesday's torture report. Clearly a WAFer, his name is Phil Rockstroh.

“The United States of America is awesome. We are awesome. But we’ve had this discussion. We’ve closed the book on it. The reason they want the discussion is not to show how awesome we are. It’s to show us how we’re not awesome.”— Fox News’s Andrea Tantaros

She's right insofar as "awe" being the root word of awful. The sight of a monster evokes awe. Hypertrophy (e.g., a system in exponential runaway and meltdown) is an awesome sight to behold -- from a safe distance.

The inevitable collapse of this awful system -- maintained by torture, police and military aggression, economic exploitation, the perpetual violation of human rights and civil liberties, ecocide, the suppression of the soul, the occluding of empathy, and myriad other violations of basic tenets of civility, humanity, and dignity -- would indeed be awesome. And is the last best hope for the perpetuation of the human species on this awe-inspiring planet.

Image: Pieter Bruegel the Elder, The Seven Deadly Sins or the Seven Vices: Lechery


9:08 AM  
Anonymous Patricia said...

I was hoping that with "Reason's" he was making fun of the gross illiteracy of many Americans, and I was disappointed to see no reference to it in the rest of the piece. Oy vey!

10:27 AM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Hello Wafers:

Lindorff also abused an apostrophe in Point #11 (he wrote "it's" instead of "its"), but never mind gringos, despite being a torture state, you're still "awesome", totally.


11:52 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Well, it's clear to me that all of u guys are un-American. I'm shocked and revulsed (if that's a word).


The plain fact is that Americans are selfish, callous, and narcissistic. Consider the fact that across the country, communities have passed laws making it a crime to feed the homeless. What other country does that?


11:59 AM  
Blogger Mister Roboto said...

I recently thought up a little ditty that sums up what I think of what this country has become, sung to the tune of I'm A Good Ol' Rebel, which is a pretty offensive song. I managed to make my version equally offensive in its own particular way. :-)

I'm a big city Yankee,
That's just what I am.
And for this redneck nation,
I do not give a damn.
I hope it falls to pieces,
Because that's its just deserts,
And if you don't like to hear that,
Well, the truth it often hurts.

I detest its shallow pop-culture,
And it's money-worship too.
I detest its provincialism,
And I think that so should you.
We think we're so exceptional,
But really we are not.
The only good thing about it,
Is some states have legal pot.

We are a rotten empire,
That has betrayed all faith and trust.
The best that it can hope for,
Is to quickly bite the dust.
The world is getting sick of
How we throw around our weight.
Our vanishing so-called freedom,
Is not the thing they hate.

Because I live in this country,
I'll probably get crushed in its fall,
And people I know will suffer,
And that's not nearly all.
But we chose to reap the whirlwind,
Through ignorance and greed.
We gave in to all the brainwashing,
And that's not what we need.

If we find ourselves back here,
In some future life,
Hopefully we will have then learned
Not to create so much strife.
Selfishness ain't the answer,
And ignorance ain't the way,
To make a stable society,
That in God's grace will maybe stay.

12:17 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Well, cut yr teeth on this, then:


12:21 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Howdy MB, Wafers-

O'er, the land of the cold-blooded...and the home of the torturer, eh Wafers?

WTF happened to you, America? And, by the by, WTF happened to this guy?:

The kinda cute dept.:

Grading student essays, I stumbled upon some doozies...

1. A student referred to the Monroe Doctrine as the *Marilyn* Doctrine.

2. Another student wrote, "Obama wanted to put a stop on Onto Mo Bay but congress would not allow it."

I shit you not! These are *real* examples.

Jesus, I'm thinking about ending it all; running out right now and throwing myself in front of an oncoming bus.

O&D, Wafers


1:22 PM  
Anonymous brooklynese said...

@Bill Hicks, Funny you should mention your experience, because I was going to write about the same thing. I first went to London in '92, when I was 10, and then went back when I was 18. I noticed that huge corporate stores had replaced small mom and pop stores that had been around for hundreds of years. I have family members who go several times a year, and they say they won't go out at night, because so many people are drunk out of their minds, vomiting on the streets, and fighting going on all over the place. England is also going down a very dark road with this whole nanny state business, and when I mean nanny state, I'm talking about installing cameras into people's homes for things they say, and being arrested for speech. Their government is also packed to the brim with pedophiles, fascists, and crooks as well. Maybe they're not as bad as Murica yet, but they're getting there, and in certain categories they are worse.

3:39 PM  
Anonymous COS said...

Bruce Bennet,

You say: "The Republicans and, to a somewhat lesser extent, the Democrats are a far greater threat to this country than the Taliban or ISIS could ever be"

Really? Do you actually believe there is a difference between The Republicans and Democrats? Really? They are different? They differ? This is a testament of the power of myths--evidence be damned. Guess you can fool some of the people all of the time. Guess Obama would go after the torturers but alas he is stymied by the meanie republicans from doing well anything of consequence of with a shade of principle. Where have you been since 2008? Where were you between 1992 and 2000? Oh I guess when Obama had both chambers of congress back early on goodness prevailded over the land? you do know its one system two parties? How can a wafer be so silly? Do you vote? I bet you do. How does one come to believe such balderdash?

3:51 PM  
Blogger NearFar said...


Sacvan Bercovitch (October 4, 1933 – December 9, 2014) has passed on. Two (2) obituary notices:
*A tribute:
* a video:
My condolences to all who are saddened and hurt by this news. Morris Berman introduced me to his work, otherwise I may never have heard of him in time, and for that I'm grateful. We all know that, unlike other "scholars," (such as John Michael Greer), MB will consistently and genuinely acknowledge in his books (eg. his copious endnotes) the debt he owes to the work of others. And he won't hesitate to pay tribute to certain 'precedent' figures in his own work, such as Bercovitch or Bateson or Mumford. And since, in that regard MB, you won't allow ego to trump integrity---your work allows for the possibility (at least) that, in the "future," the conversation will continue. And that now we can have *real* dialogue, bringing all sorts of people into the conversation. Wafers, at least, will recognize that what I'm saying is not only an exercise in self-congratulation, and it's not about kissing ass. It's about something else that really matters; it's about on *this* day I was able to pay triibute to the work of Sacvan Bercovitch.

4:43 PM  
Anonymous rectal rehydration said...

If I understand this, we torture people in secret prisons, then the White House says the report was released as a "significant step to rebuild our moral authority", then they ready the Marines for any protests that break out.

What a sick country this is.

Here's Obama's response to the torture report:

"When countries are threatened, oftentimes they act rationally in ways that in retrospect were wrong."

In other news: "UN Officials Demand Prosecutions for US Torture"

10:09 PM  
Anonymous I dunno said...

Dear Dr Berman and Wafers,

I bought a little house in N AZ for my brother and me, but he failed to show up, so it’s just me, an older woman, trying to cope w/ a huge yard (he was gonna grow a garden; build a windmill, etc).

But since, I had a water heater leak that damaged part of my home.

The problem is that the contractor I hired did more damage to my home than repair.

So, I filed a complaint w/ the ROC. And they are showing up tomorrow. And I’m scared. You would be too if you could see the damage. So I’m calling the sheriff to be here when both the contractor and the inspector arrive.

I am just too damn old to leave the country. But I’ll keep encouraging my grandsons to do so.

10:27 PM  
Anonymous I dunno said...

Dr Berman,

Sorry to post again, but I just wanted to add that a former employer of mine, Steve Singer, and his attorney were both shot dead by some nutty contractor in Phoenix a few years ago.

Steve was one of the nicest persons I’ve ever known.

11:21 PM  
Blogger David Bolas said...

Hello Dr.B and Wafers,

I hereby formally request asylum in Waferdom. This is my first effort at any blog. At 41, it's not for want of computer literacy. I just prefer person to person communication. It seems that it's been banned in the US though and MB persuaded me with his comment that this is the only blog worth joining. I loved the trilogy. I've enjoyed Dr.B's presentations as well, especially that dealing with Japan. MB's insights into it as well as the American contrasts were brilliant. As an amateur classical pianist its worth noting that most of the concert pianists in America these days are foreign, and the best players of western classical music are often Asian. There's no tolerance of pure art in a pure "hustling" society. I've had the good fortune to travel to more than 70 countries (not with the US military or for profit) since first starting with my dad as a teenager. What started as trips of self discovery and cultural appreciation have turned into a kind of "Escape from Alcatraz". America is a violent, hollow, empty place. Even war zones have more redeeming value. When someone shoots at you, at least you're aware of their intentions. That said, as lonely as life is in this cult they call America, there are people who know its DOA. But not all get that it's the whole culture that's degenerate, not just Hollywood, Wall Street,etc. As far as the CIA report, what do you expect from this f...ed up sick culture? "Rectal feeding"? That's nothing. The 6,000+ page report about the CIA was heavily redacted by the CIA. Beautiful. Furthermore, it doesn't even include events at Guantanamo or those carried out by the military. Rest assured, it's much worse. Where are Snowden and Assange when you need them, for Christ's sake? This is a whitewash.


YouTube: RT America "For-profit college used strippers to lure potential students."

UC Davis Economics professor shows that social mobility in America is no greater than that of medieval England or pre-industrial Sweden.

6:21 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Sorry to hear abt Bercovitch; he was one of the most insightful analysts of American dysfunction--psychology and history--we ever had. He was not born in the US, of course.


Welcome to the blog. Yr rt, this is the only blog you'll ever need. Also keep in mind that the US is basically a collection of violent morons, and you can't go wrong. My new post-it (on bathrm mirror): Rectal Rehydration for the Masses (and Obama)!


Relax; yr overreacting. Bruce was just saying that for the most part, both parties are fucked in the head. In other words, he basically agrees with you.


Or u cd take the bus to the airport, fly away, and never come back (except to this blog).


12:18 PM  
Anonymous I dunno said...

Dear Dr B and Wafers,

Sorry for the paranoid post last night. I didn’t call the sheriff, and nobody showed up w/ guns, so I’m still here. But you never know what douchbaggery Americans are capable of.

Thanks for your wonderful blog!

6:06 PM  
Blogger Mister Roboto said...

@David: One thing of which I find myself getting so damn tired, along with the hopeless social atomization (and all the things I railed about in my Big City Yankee song, which has a new verse on my so-called blog), is all the ugliness for the sake of ugliness. It really makes you scratch your head and say "WTF!" sometimes. And I'm not talking about people's physical appearance, because that's another thing there's way too much emphasis on in the USA (especially among young people today, worse than any previous generation).

@MB: Oh come on, you have to admit that Dmitry Orlov's blog is at the very least entertaining!

10:47 PM  
Anonymous MiB said...

So back in the US, besides the torture report which the average American doesn't give a goddamn about, torture is cool, at least according to the comments of my fellow citizens calling into my local right wing radio program. Besides that we now have Jamie Diamond along with President Obama successfully teaming up with the GOP tea party to allow Banksters to trade derivatives with FDIC taxpayer approved money. America is officially finished. If we don't get someone like Elizabeth Warren to vote for, I actually hope someone like Ted Cruz becomes president - Hillary Clinton can go fuck herself for all I care, she's a clone of Obama and a full out Bankster with a velvet glove anyway, and we all know it. We need an actual president that represents the stupidity, vileness and corruption of the typical American to run the country, and represent America to the world. Obama represents the passive agressive pseudo-left intellectual class which enjoys getting repeatly kicked in the ass in order to gain a respectability which is a phantom wish to begin with. Speed up the collapse and bankruptcy of the country and the world's new great depression. It really doesn't matter that much anyway for most peons like me, since were flat broke with no prospects of a future, so things really won't change much even if that happens, and even more so for the rest of the world which essentially serve as wage slaves for the Walmart's of the world.

Call me MiB since my initials are the same.

11:07 PM  
OpenID atearinrain said...


When I was 10 years old I moved to a small town of about 300, and spent 50% of the remainder of my childhood there (my mother and father had joint custody of me). My relationship with the natural world strengthened immensely, since I now had much more contact with it, and the social environment was the best I've yet to experience.

If not for the years I spent there, it's doubtful I'd have ever come to question the benefits of the material goods the U.S. is awash is. Out of all the criticisms I've heard of the array of devices with electronic displays, one I haven't heard is their two-dimensionality. Staring at a flat version of reality all day just sucks the life out of you. This thought occurred to me while jogging today. It's only after spending some time outside—and moving at a more natural pace—that my visual perception changes, so that my peripheral vision is kicked up a notch and I turn my head more instead of just looking straight ahead of me (narrow vision, quite literally). The three-dimensionality of things also pop out more, and the world has this beautiful depth to it that I lose sight of when I'm indoors too long.

So why do most people choose such a flat, bland existence? I think it's because American life just prior to cell phones really wasn't all that different. With most people working stationary desk jobs or stationary factory jobs, driving home via a lane lacking in width, walking to the door via a sidewalk lacking in width, spending the bulk of one's leisure time staring at a television—the subsequent developments of staring at a computer, and now tablets and smartphones, etc. are merely a difference of degree, rather than a difference in kind. I don't think the days of yore were a paradise, but, for these and many other reasons, I do think the present day is a kind of hell.

2:09 AM  
Anonymous Bid said...

Guess what guys?

It turns out that the Dalai Lama recently gave talks at the American Enterprise Institute - the entity that initially pressured Congress for "regime change" in Iraq. At these gatherings, the Dalai Lama said that anyone physically able should work, that God only helps those who help themselves, and that a certain amount of "wise greed" (the kind that people need to survive) is a good thing. He also said that American values - freedom and democracy - are what the world needs right now.

This guy is a stooge, and an apologist for American imperialism. I've been misled about this guy for so long. Any comments on this?

2:18 AM  
Anonymous I am not an anonymus commenter said...

hello mr.b,

just wondering if you are familiar with spanish philosopher/psychonaut Antonio Escohotado's work. In your books you use the term 'neoliberist' in a broader sense, but AE would argue that he hasn't yet come to know anyone who could name one of these neoliberalists --ie, generally it's used as a straw man.

Escohotado latest line of thought is that market opposition is indeed a monotheist/christian endeavour. He's now working on the third of this vouluminous saga.

I've attended a conference of his and watched a lot of them online, but sadly i am not familiar with his written work.

Just very interested in your oppinio about him.


5:41 AM  
Anonymous hulahopper said...

Is this book mostly about the US healthcare system? I got that impression from reading a few reviews on LibraryThing.

Often I come across comments/articles about how a government run healthcare system would be much better. It's often mentioned that the US spends twice as much money on healthcare compared to European countries, while Americans actually are less healthy than Europeans.

I used to live in the US, but now I live in Norway. I'm amazed at how much healthier Norwegians seem than Americans. But Norwegians get much more exercise (they often walk instead of driving everywhere, hiking and skiing is incredibly popular etc.), they eat healthier (less soda, less salt etc.), they work less hours (so they probably experience less stress), they really like to spend time outside (so I wouldn't be surprised if they actually get more sunshine/vitamin D than Americans despite the Northern latitude) etc.

If the US somehow instituted an identical healthcare system to Norway, I wouldn't be surprised if they still had to spend twice the amount of money, while remaining less healthy, because of the incredibly unhealthy lifestyles that Americans live.

I'm wondering if maybe it doesn't matter that much whether the healthcare system is run by private corporations or the government. If Americans want to be healthy, they need to start taking responsibility for their own health. But most of them seem too dumb to do that.

As for Norway, I think much of the reason for the better health is that there's more left-over of old traditions. But things seem to move in the wrong direction here, too. I see more and more fat people. I sometimes read newspaper articles on how more and more children are medicated for ADHD etc.

10:57 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


This is gd, but why not just shoot these people?:

2:10 PM  
Anonymous Troutbum said...

Dr. MB and Wafers Worldwide:
This past week the Senate released its report on the CIA and torture. Of course, the mainstream of media and politicians quickly retorted “This is not America. This is not who we are.” Obama said, this is“contrary to who we are.” Peter Beinart, writing in the Atlantic points out "America has tortured throughout its history.....Being a successful American politician today requires declaring that America is different, blessed, exceptional....After 9/11, while George W. Bush was announcing that God had deputized America to spread liberty around the world, his government was shredding the domestic and international restraints against torture....Those actions were not “contrary to who we are.” They were a manifestation of who we are."

Yes, there's some clear thinking for you. Torture is who we are.

3:17 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...


I read with great interest how, because of your youthful exposure to life in a small town, your “relationship with the natural world strengthened immensely, since (you) now had much more contact with it, and the social environment was the best (you’ve) yet to experience.”

I’ve been unpacking and arranging my books, and you prompted me to pick up “Dialogues of Alfred North Whitehead” and turn to the following (1935) statement by Whitehead in response to someone mentioning the American Midwest: “Man’s best thinking is done either by persons living in the country or in small communities, or else by those who, having had such environment in early life, enrich their experience by life in cities; for what is wanted is contact with the elemental processes of nature during those years of youth when the mind is being formed.” Years ago I had penciled “Loren Eisely” in the margin – a writer “long admired for his compassionate, probing meditations on the natural world” who had grown up “among the sunflower forests of eastern Nebraska and the high plains farther west.”

Although it can be stiffening to someone who has known nothing else, growing up in a small town has advantages over childhood in a big city, or worse yet Suburbia. In addition to contact with nature, a child grows up intimately knowing a few hundred people, with a large number of adults serving as role models.

You ask, “…why do people choose such a flat bland existence?” That’s a big question which is worthy of further discussion, but have people who simply don’t know any better chosen anything? They have, however, been taught that Superman stands for ‘truth, justice and the American Way.’ Which Wafers know is not true, and is not just – but it sure is American!

David Rosen

6:51 PM  
Anonymous KneelJung said...

Wafers, MB, atearinrain,

I find that most people these days find moment to moment actual lived experience "boring". I do my share of screen
watching, but simple, quiet reality always trumps screen
"reality" for me. A couple of months ago while in Maine
on holiday my wife and I watched dumbfounded and amused as a chipmunk stuffed two paper napkins into it's
swollen cheeks, probably for nesting purposes. Or a couple of wks. ago in a local park, sitting on a bench sipping coffee and observing a squirrel digging and burying a nut and carefully patting earth and leaves over the spot. I'm relating this in the oral tradition because I don't own an iphone or similar device.

As for the Dalai Lama, I always thought that guy smiled and giggled way to much for the media and darling celebrity types that have deified him over the yrs. He's the "alternative pope" for those who need such an entity.

Keep on Waferin' in the free world,

8:13 PM  
Blogger David Bolas said...

Hahaha, shooting all the homeless or "food insecure" in the US and properly disposing of the corpses would be the economic equivalent of a Star Wars program or the Manhattan Project. The last I heard, and this was about five years ago, there were an average of 86,000 homeless on the streets of L.A. alone on any given day. And the increasing number of people that couch-surf or move from motel to motel, I understand, goes into the millions. Even the conditions many shelters impose on homeless, in the winter especially, (have to be out by 8:00 a.m., can't check in until 10:00 p.m. etc.), are cruel and degrading. But keeping them around serves as negative reinforcement of the "pull yourself up from your bootstraps" myth. "If you don't shut up and get back to work, this is what will happen to you." America doesn't lack compassion for the needy, it seems to have an active contempt for them. At some level they are a reminder of the rot in a country that still brags of being the greatest/wealthiest in the world.

6:33 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


This is another reason why we need drones. Shooting these people one by one is far too time-consuming.


Well, the Dolly does say some gd (if obvious) things from time to time, but I shd tell u that I had a semi-private audience with him in Austria in 1982, and was forced to conclude he was not all that sharp. He indicated he was against war, and for peace, which struck me as a major intellectual breakthru. And yr rt, he's become a kind of fetish for the New Age crowd, who have yet to understand that he's probably the oriental version of a douche bag (not clear how to say that in Tibetan).


10:38 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

Mr. Roboto,

"Ugliness for the sake of ugliness" -- that says it all, doesn't it? I've noticed the same thing. For instance, there are several new houses going up in our area, and every one of them is a sterile, soulless McMansion.

But it's more than that -- just look at how much ugliness figures in popular entertainment today -- all with the excuse of "edginess" somehow being "reality" rather than an artificial, heavily stylized gloss on the actual real world. I find that many people are frightened by beauty -- real beauty, not Hallmark schmaltz -- whether it's the beauty of an object well-made, or a well-crafted thought, or the wonder of the natural world. "Why do people choose such a flat, bland existence" -- I think it's because they can't envision going beyond that, going beyond the limited selves they've accepted as being (or approximating) human.


Whether walking in our local parks, or simply observing our untended backyard, the sight of living creatures helps sustain me. At a nearby lake in the midst of the suburbs the other day, my wife & I watched 5 great blue herons wading through the shallows, occasionally flying from one side of the lake to the other, while hooded mergansers glided down the middle. So quiet, graceful, and stunning!

11:03 AM  
Anonymous Savantesimal said...

More progress toward increasing the ranks of the homeless and otherwise desperate has been made in this latest spending bill.

CNN: Congress approves plan to allow pension cuts

More than a million retired and current truck drivers, construction workers and other union workers could see their pension benefits cut now that Congress passed a proposal aimed at shoring up some of the nation's biggest pensions.

Tacked on as an amendment to the government's $1.1 trillion spending bill, the proposal was approved by the Senate late Saturday night.


12:52 PM  
Anonymous rectal rehydration said...

Ah, Sunday morning, when all the top brass goes on TV to clarify:

Dick Cheney: "rectal feeding was for medical reasons, not torture"

Michael Hayden: "These were medical procedures"

When asked whether rectal feeding meets the definition of torture, Dick Cheney responded:

"I’ve told you what meets the definition of torture – it’s what 19 guys armed with airline tickets and box cutters did to 3,000 Americans on 9/11."

He's basically saying, nothing we do can be considered torture.

This is a sick country.

1:19 PM  
Blogger farbror Frej said...

Check out this new documentary called "Divorce Corp". Not Court, but Corp as in Corporation. Theres also some director/author interview-material uploaded to Youtube. Comparisons are made between US and Scandinavia.

6:45 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,


Both Cheney and Hayden are war criminals. The unique thing about war criminals is that they are incapable of recognizing that they are such. High ranking Nazis during WW II, who were responsible for the torture and deaths of millions, acted in very similar ways. The sad thing is that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, the whole lot are gonna get away w/it. Obama, Hillary, Mittney perhaps, will make damn sure of it!

Not that it will be any consolation to the American people, who are for the most part in agreement w/Cheney, but the day that Dick Cheney dies should be recognized as a day of international rejoicing...

I dunno-

Glad to read that yer still w/us. Be sure to steer clear of contractors and the AZ police, for that matter; mean sons of what I've heard.

MB, Wafers-

Okay, one more idiot student example, and I'll stop!

Get a load of this:

A student spelled Karl Marx, *Carl Marks*.


6:57 PM  
Anonymous Pilgrim said...

A new Frontline is premiering on January 6th: Gunned Down: The Power of the NRA. It deals with the NRA's response to the Newtown massacre by Adam Lanza. Here's the trailer.

7:19 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

I'd marry her in a heartbeat dept.:

8:05 PM  
Anonymous Jill Simpson said...

^^^^ Friends- Nomi Prins gifted a great book list for all of us. What do the WAFers think about it? Klein's new piece is in there, too.

MB, any thoughts and/or your own book list gift? ;)


8:42 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Well, Nomi is a gd friend, going back several yrs now, and we typically send each other messages re: the sad state of American publishing. So I wd probably 2nd anything she recommends. As for my own list: honestly, I'm not really au courant. You know, I've been thinking abt possibly doing a book on the Surrealist movement, so recently read a # of bks on that subject. Best of the lot: Calvin Tomkins' biography of Marcel Duchamp. In fact, I'm halfway thru my 2nd read.


9:46 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


As we head into Xmas and then the New Year, I think we Wafers, as the most elite and outstanding group in America, need to think abt what questions we shd be asking ourselves b4 2015 is upon us. Here are a couple that we can probably dispense with at the outset:

1. How can I get Lorenzo Riggins to declare his intention to run for president?

2. Which revolutionary group should I join?

Two that I wd suggest instead are:

1. What do I want to do with the rest of my life?

2. Who are my friends?

Wafers are encouraged to add to this list.


10:24 PM  
Anonymous brooklynese said...

Wow, those are exactly the two questions that are most relevant in my life. Do you think the economy is going to crash soon?

11:00 PM  
Blogger Val said...

@ MB -

3. Where do I want to spend the rest of my life, and how soon can I get there?

4. How might I, in good conscience, depart from family members who may feel they have some good claim upon my support, moral or material, and who may even be devastated if I leave?

@ Miles, MB, & Wafers -

Speaking of Marx, today I had an annoying social experience indirectly involving him. While attending a weekly afternoon tea gathering, I was displeased by the arrival of another guest who has proven quite discourteous on prior occasions. She's a high school history teacher who invariably focuses the conversation on her area of expertise, so as to maintain the upper hand in discussion, loudly insisting upon the rightness of her viewpoint & opinions, and proclaiming at considerable length & volume the wrongness, stupidity & ignorance of anyone (such as myself) who ventures to question any of her statements, let alone disagree with them, or indeed expresses any opinion divergent from her own. She doesn't really converse, she lectures, and the true purport of her lecture is an exercise in personal domination.

This delightful individual, after declaring in a tone that brooked no disagreement that feudalism and its concomitant serfdom (presumably of the medieval European variety) were the exact equivalent of chattel slavery, no difference whatsoever, then launched into a lecture about Marx and what his work is really all about. I did not stay to hear the lecture, but excused myself as soon as I could without seeming too abrupt, and left.

Is hers a peculiarly American mode of "conversation," or is the rest of the world also afflicted by overbearing boors?

12:13 AM  
OpenID atearinrain said...

Dovidel, KneelJung, Tim Lukeman

It's simple pleasures like squirrel-digging and heron-wading that one can't truly live without. Wow, it sure has been neat talking nature with you all. Forget Alfred North Whitehead—these two hombres are definitive proof of nature's boost to the intellect.

Seriously though, it is pretty neat to read Whitehead say that. At a minimum, 84.4% of my own best thoughts have come to me while enjoying nature. And while it may benefit a person to eventually live in a big city, it's most certainly the case that a childhood spent in a nice small town enriches the soul.


Answering those questions probably prompts all Wafers living in the U.S. to wonder why they haven't left yet. Maybe someday I'll have the sense to do just that. I feel blessed to be very close to the friends I do have. It's just that the number of people I am friends with is so pitifully small.

1:33 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Well, if you live in the US, and you have yr head pasted on straight, you are going to have pitifully few friends. There's just no way around this.


Of course there are boors everywhere; the problem, according to the International Boor Index (IBI), is that the Boor Density (BD) is highest in the US. The IBI calculates boors per hectare; in America, it's 147.6. (Denmark, by comparison, has 4.3.) This is the correct answer to yr question #4: you tell everyone that the BD is simply too high for u2 stay any longer.

The boor you describe is actually a terribly sad and insecure person, and because of that is unable to engage in real dialogue (much like the trollfoons who descend on this blog from time to time). You did the right thing, altho sometimes it's nice to knock back a 6-pack of Bud Light and then unload on her shoes. (After which, you can leave.)

"Conversation" in general in the US, in my own experience of living there, is a waste of time. For the most part it's just monologues. The other person waits 4u 2 get thru what yr saying (to which they are not really listening) so they can then continue on with the monologue u managed to interrupt. Social interaction in the US is thus fairly tedious.


5:03 AM  
Anonymous kilo_mega_giga said...

MB -

I've noticed that when I suggest to people that we need to transition from capitalism to something else, I get one of the following responses:

1. um, we've already shown communism doesn't work

2. you mean going back to living in caves and dying at age 40?

3. oh silly, technology and the free market will solve everything

I have yet to come across anyone that thinks we could do something else.

What's going on here? Is it that people are only getting information from Facebook and major media outlets?

5:58 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Yes, but also don't forget that Americans, by and large, are dumb, and that means they don't have much in the way of imagination. They also have no training in, or sense of, historical process. An article that was cited previously, by Wolfgang Streeck in the New Left Review, wd be way beyond anything they've ever thought abt in their entire lives. Americans are brain dead, in a word; they are not Europeans. Brain biopsies have revealed that they have a puree of mixed vegetables up there rather than gray matter.

Hence, no need to be surprised at these responses. Reserve yr surprise for *intelligent* responses.


10:29 AM  
Anonymous James Allen said...


I imagine you're familiar with Richard Wolff, economics professor emeritus at U-MASS Amherst, now teaching at the New School in NYC. There are plenty of YouTube videos of his talks. He does a monthly update, treating a larger theme preceded by shorter introductory items of interest. These typically are posted by mid-month for the current month.

A favorite quotation: "If you lived with a roommate as unstable as this [American] economy, you'd have moved out long ago."

Sadly, though he is attracting more attention for his ideas than he has ever done, by his own account, the likelihood that the kind of economic and social change he might favor would ever be instituted here is negligible if not zero.

11:16 AM  
Anonymous Deb said...

Just in case anyone is hoping Australia might provide an escape from America's cultural wasteland, this just in in response to Sydney hostage situation as reported by BBC Radio 5:

"The situation here is one of creepiness. A lot of people have come to watch the hostage situation. Some people are bringing beers and taking selfies."

Having lived there I knew it was no escape. That is why I am very carefully doing my research.

11:21 AM  
Anonymous Pilgrim said...

>> Is hers a peculiarly American mode of "conversation," or is the rest of the world also afflicted by overbearing boors? <<

But dude, we're the nation of awesome awesomeness!


"The most difficult adjustment an expatriate has to make, on returning to his native land, is in the realm of conversation. The impression one has, at first, is that there is no conversation. We do not talk - we bludgeon one another with facts and theories gleaned from cursory readings of newspapers, magazines and digests."

"We are accustomed to think of ourselves as an emancipated people; we say that we are democratic, liberty-loving, free of prejudices and hatred. This is the melting-pot, the seat of a great human experiment. Beautiful words, full of noble, idealistic sentiment. Actually we are a vulgar, pushing mob whose passions are easily mobilized by demagogues, newspaper men, religious quacks, agitators and such like. To call this a society of free peoples is blasphemous. What have we to offer the world beside superabundant loot which we recklessly plunder from the earth under maniacal delusion that this insane activity presents progress and enlightenment? The land of opportunity has become the land of senseless sweat and struggle. The goal of our striving has long been forgotten."

Henry Miller, The Air-Conditioned Nightmare, 1945

11:31 AM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

MB, Wafers-

Who we are dept.:


You may have a shot with Michele, MB. Word has it that she's extremely unsatisfied w/her current husband, Marcus:

Michele has indicated that upon retiring from Congress, she is planing a well-deserved vacation to Mexico. Recent interest in the work of Diego Rivera, Victoria beer, and something about Mexico's *best-kept secret* were cited in her decision to travel. Needless to say, she's lookin' to party! Perhaps you could knock some sense into her...



ps: Hmmm, Michele Marie Berman. It certainly has a nice ring to it, no?

1:04 PM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...


You said "1. A student referred to the Monroe Doctrine as the *Marilyn* Doctrine.

2. Another student wrote, "Obama wanted to put a stop on Onto Mo Bay but congress would not allow it."

Wow, I am very confused by their responses. I may be reading your commentary wrong.

a. I thought an essay was about a half a page or more. I think in lower grade levels like in Elementary it was about 5-6 complete sentences. Am I wrong on this? How is one sentence an essay or did you pull these sentences from an essay?

b. Who is Marilyn? Why didn't they look up the Monroe Doctrine in an Encyclopedia or some kind of primary source either on the internet or the library?

I do have a theory as to why they may have derived Marilyn instead of Monroe and I could be wrong. They may have learned to read in a whole language way instead of phonetically.

To them, Marilyn and Monroe may look similar. They looked at the word Marilyn as a whole instead of breaking it down into it's syllables and sounds.

Look at the words stop and step. They may see the words as similar but not breaking them down phonetically.

c. If they didn't know how to cite and document sources why didn't they look up online how to do that or look it up at their local library? If they didn't know which style (MLA or APA) then ask the instructor?

d. What is "Onto Mo Bay?" I've never heard of this bay. Did they mean "Guantanamo bay?" If they did, I think the same idea may apply over whole language reading vs. phonetic but instead of sight it may be sound.

To them Onto Mo Bay may sound like Guantanamo bay. Again, to them they're both one and the same. In this case, it seems as though your student may be missing the trees for forest. I think they may not know how to read that well and how they passed the SATs and got into college is beyond me. Like Agent Mulder says "The truth is out there."

1:26 PM  
Blogger CB said...

Hi. This is my first comment. I stumbled upon this blog several months ago. I have read and enjoyed many of your books. It is so validating to hear someone else mention how lonely American life is. Connecting with people seems impossible at times. I grew up in NY state near NYC. The materialism and Faux news brainwashing is off the charts. I include my own family in this category. I moved to Maine about 11 years ago. The culture here is less materialistic. There are pockets of communities that will barter and make attempts t o live off the land. There are artist communities. The small towns have a more friendly vibe. Nature abounds and is great for the soul. So one can find decent, more offbeat people here. It takes time. In my corporate workplace d-bags abound. People almost seem to hate each other. I am trying to hustle and start my own business, so I can escape the idiotic corporate culture. I have to work , so moving abroad seems like an impossibility. Thanks for listening.

1:58 PM  
Anonymous Baronet Nerd said...


I'll look forward to your take on this subject. As I mentioned to you a long time ago, one reason why I decided to buy *Reenchantment* decades ago is that you are among the few English-language academic commentators on Surrealism who have anything good to say about it.

I've been a student of the Surrealist movement for decades, and here are some unsolicited reading tips on the topic to take or leave:

--The best books in English on Surrealism are by J. H. Matthews and Roger Cardinal.

--Avoid Mary Ann Caws and Anna Balakian.

--Mark Polizzotti's biography of Andre Breton contains invaluable information, but is, like most works on Breton in English, biased against its subject. If your French is still sharp, then you should rely more on Henri Behar's Andre' Breton: Le Grand Indesirable.

--Read the Surrealist manifestos in French, if you can. The Seaver/Lane English translation is awful (at one point, they render plumes metalliques literally, as "metallic feathers", because, gee, that must be right, since it's "surreal".

3:12 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Many thanks for yr biblio; greatly appreciated. I've never corresponded w/an actual baronet b4. This is very exciting.


Welcome to the greatest blog on earth. Check out "New Monastic Option" section of Twilight bk. If u can pee on yr coworkers' shoes and not get fired, I say go for it.


The actress, Marilyn Monroe. Time 4u 2 rent some of her films, amigo. "Where have you been, Joe DiMaggio..."


Clearly, I'm Mexico's best-kept secret. The only thing that worries me abt having sex w/Michele is that at the climax, I might yell "Yr a douche bag!", while she might yell "Bomb Iran!"
Not a marriage made in heaven, eh wot?


At least in 1945, Americans were reading!


5:40 PM  
Blogger Kanye Cyrus said...

Have you seen this Wafers? "Accordingly, the Department is increasing the fee for processing such requests from $450 to $2,350."

7:00 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...


Christ, what a quote. Great stuff.

8:02 PM  
Anonymous Kneel Jung said...

MB, Wafers-

Two of my favorite surrealists, Hans Bellmer for his erotic dolls/drawings/photography, and Georges Bataille for his
novels "Blue Of Noon" and "Story Of The Eye". A collection of musings titled "Guilty" is also worth checking
out. Bellmer actually illustrated the original version of
"Story Of The Eye" with photography, some would say
pornographic photography...

As for contemporary surrealism, look no further than
the new supergroup, "Bachmann Berman Overdrive"
"...takin' care ov bidness, evryday..."


As for contemporary surrealism, look no further than

8:55 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I did read "Guilty" some yrs ago, but will hafta check out yr other refs. Of course, my entire life is surreal, and copulating with Michele (or Sarah, on an ice floe, among the meese, w/Ed Meese present), as she screams in ecstasy, "Bomb Iran!", wd certainly be the piece de resistance of the entire venture. (Variations on the theme wd include getting Latreasa Goodman to run for pres in 2016, and peeing on 318 million pairs of shoes. Wafers are encouraged to provide other surreal events for all of us to engage in.)


9:35 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: I propose a new category of Surrealism, to be called Douche Bag Surrealism:

I doubt I've ever seen anything more pathetic.


9:40 PM  
Anonymous Brunnhilde said...

Greetings, Dr. Berman,

I am new to this site, but not to your writings, having read (and enjoyed) several of your books. Silly question, probably, but please tell me what Wafers means. I'm guessing that WAF is the acronym for "We Are F'd" but given your eloquence, there is probably a more profound meaning.

Great blog, by the way.

9:54 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I'm telling you, we have an embarrassment of riches here. 1st an actual baronet shows up, and then a princess (you). It's too much, I tell u; too much.

Yes, it is a great blog. It's really the *only* blog. When folks tell me they read other blogs, I can only shake my head. Why bother? This is the only blog you'll ever need. We dump on Americans, we shit on trollfoons, we do in-depth political analysis, movie and bk reviews, jokes and anecdotes, excerpts from songs (both popular and arcane)...the list goes on and on. We are, quite simply, la creme de les blogs.

Anyway, now that we've got that cleared up: consider my last 3 bks. NB = Neurotic Beauty, my study of Japan (soon to appear); SSIG = Spinning Straw Into Gold, a philosophical memoir; and then, going back to 2011, WAF = Why America Failed, a devastating analysis of the crumbling American empire. So Wafers are folks who have read, and enjoyed, WAF. There are those who thought it referred to the eucharist, and altho much transubstantiation goes on on this blog, we tend to eschew cultism of any sort, even tho we recognize that Waferdom is an enlightened state of being. (In fact, a flash of illumination is commonly known as a SSIG Moment.)

So welcome to the blog. Stay with us, and yr life will be sublime.


10:25 PM  
Blogger Val said...

Thanks MB for your illuminating information on the International Boor index. I'll lose no time in applying it to a resolution of questions #3 and #4. I'll also seek out international indices of Dolts, Buffoons & Douchebags, altho I'm sure all these groups overlap significantly.

@ brooklynese - Yes, according to my reference sources it is quite likely that the economy will soon collapse again, much as in '08-'09, & possibly worse. The red flag is the current steep drop in the price of oil (and hence of gasoline), which is bound to wreak havoc on the fracking industry and various financial rackets that prop it up. My principal sources: Raul Ilargi Meijer of theAutomaticEarth(dot)(com), Chris Martenson's "Peak Prosperity" website, & James Howard Kunstler's "Clusterfuck Nation" (a very apt name, don't you think?).

My personal fave Surrealists are Salvador Dali, Max Ernst, Rene Magritte, Giorgio DeChirico & Hans Bellmer. I also love the architecture of the Catalan Antoni Gaudi; he wasn't a Surrealist exactly - they generally shove him in the Art Nouveau box - but Dali adored him.

MB, your amatory adventures with M. Bachman remind me of that scene in the film "Europa Europa" where a uniformed Nazi Valkyrie shield maiden type moans "Mein Fuhrer!" as she climaxes because she doesn't know she's being screwed on the train by a Jew boy. Hard to beat that one for irony.

10:42 PM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

How about that, a majority of Americans now approve of torture:

Sadly, a plurality of black Americans also support torture. So how many torture supporters were out marching to protest police abuse this past weekend?

Anyone who cannot see that America's many horrific GWOT abuses overseas and its awful domestic police abuses are two sides of the same coin is a moron--but that would indeed include most Americans.

11:32 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


O those Valkyries; what cd be hotter?

The following is a true story: several decades ago, in Montreal, I had a date with a German girl who was an abs. knockout. I mean, like she stepped out of the pages of Vogue. So we're in a bar, getting increasingly cozy, when suddenly she starts ranting against the Jews, how awful they are. That kinda put a damper on the rest of the evening, as you might imagine. I really *was* afraid that she might be given to yelling "Sieg Heil!" when she came. Well, I never found out. "You really know how to pick 'em," a friend said to me, the next day.

Meanwhile, u shd know that there is also an Escalating Buffoon Index (EBI) as well as an Asymptotic Moron Coefficient (AMC) and a Runaway Dolt Profile (RDP).


11:33 PM  
Anonymous I dunno said...

@ Miles Deli

Thanks for your advice. I’ll be vigilant w/ everybody up here. Holy heck, this place has got to be the amalgam of American nuttiness!

BTW are you the namesake for the Miracle Mile Deli in Phoenix?

12:28 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


And there you have it. What are 'progressives' going to do with these data, except ignore them? Over and over I keep saying, It's not just the ruling class that is oppressive; *Americans* are oppressive! But there seems no way to wake 'progressives' up, because to admit this is to admit that their entire program of saving the country is for shit, and that the US has no future at all. Who is it they think they are liberating, anyway? Folks who believe, w/o any evidence, that torture prevented terrorist attacks, when what the evidence does suggest is that it served to manufacture more terrorists. And yr rt: 42% of blacks approve of torture, so it might be interesting to know what % of those who fall in that category are simultaneously opposed to police brutality. Man, are we screwed.


3:31 AM  
Blogger David Bolas said...

Deb, Dr.B, Wafers,

Despite its conservative government in recent years and participation in US Empire, Australia is a more humane society. In addition to its broad social safety net, consider this; in the wake of the unfortunate incident at the Sydney cafe, can you imagine Americans reaching out to Muslims the way many Aussies did in the #illridewithyou reaction if something like that were to happen here? They'd be walking the streets like lynch mobs looking for anyone they think looks Muslim for retribution. As far as the Anglo English speaking world goes, I have to think that New Zealand is probably the least infected with "American values". When I was there years ago, it felt like a comfortable walk back in time. And besides, if the shit hits the fan, you're close to Antarctica, which might be beachfront property soon. In any event, you probably wouldn't see too much stuff like this:

Didn't we get rid of all the native Americans? I thought that was "mission accomplished". Like MB says, why not just shoot these people? Charging those lithium batteries is time consuming and expensive.

6:46 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


In the wake of 9/11, Americans began attacking Sikhs because they wear turbans. It's a religion that has nothing to do with Islam. I'm wondering if there has been a dumber nation in the history of the world.


9:14 AM  
Anonymous Baronet Nerd said...

"I've never corresponded w/an actual baronet b4. This is very exciting."

I hate to disappoint, but as you may have gathered if you played around with the letters, "Baronet Nerd" is just a silly anagram for "Andre Breton", who appears to be everybody's least favorite Surrealist (or, at least, most Americans' least favorite, which is obviously a point in Breton's favor).

10:21 AM  
Anonymous Kevin said...

We were in NYC at the Met last weekend - great El Greco show and the newly-acquired Thomas Hart Benton mural "America Today." The major mannerist theme of the mural is 'grasping' - it's the perfect evocation of a nation of hustlers!

In any case, in the exhibit leading into the murals there was a great Benton quote: "The United States is loud and not in good taste." (1931)

P.S. Interesting connection between the shows:

10:51 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Sigh; u just broke my heart, amigo. I like to travel in the most high-flying circles, and here I am, back on earth. BTW, informal rule here: pls post only once every 24 hrs, thanks.

You'll always be a baronet to me...


11:04 AM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,


Yes, Andre Breton wrote the great work, "Manifestoes of Surrealism," no? Since Wafers are surrealists by nature, perhaps we could revise this title into a new book: Manifestoes of Waferism. Chapter one could be called Lorenzo's Burgers: An American Absurdity.

I dunno-

No; but it certainly sounds like my kinda place.

Enjoy a bit of Miles:


No worries. I was just pulling a few *surreal* excerpts from student essays I'm grading. Yeah, you're rt, "Onto Mo Bay" hasta mean Guantanamo Bay; student probably heard me discussing it in class, but didn't know how to spell it. Truth be told, I've given up trying to figure out what goes on inside the brains of my students. The Runaway Dolt Profile (RDP) is extremely high on campus...


Nice title for your new Japan book.


3:55 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Hello Wafers:

Thanks, Kneel, for introducing me to Hans Bellmer. I have a one-hour class every two years where I get to talk about Surrealism and Dada, before getting into Ionesco's "The Lesson." The students never seem to get into it, though.

After teaching my one Lit. class a couple of times I discovered that I was fighting a war on modernity. I open my section on The Absurd by going back to Descartes, follow through with Nietzsche, through to the Dadaists (reading Hugo Ball aloud to students is a hoot), then on to Camus and the Sisyphean bleakness of existence.

I set up our existence as a contest between the Gradgrindery of Rationalism and the fanciful feelings of transcendence that make life worth living. I'd been doing this for a few years, then read that some Belman fellah wrote about the same thing.

Q.) How many Surrealists does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A.) A fish.

I was listening to Randy Newman's "Sail Away" last night, and thought it was a great expression of Waferism, especially the song, "Dayton, Ohio - 1903."


4:04 PM  
Anonymous SW said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

From The Implications of the Torture Report:

"If you want to see the Deep State, look in the mirror. The torture report makes one wonder: Did all this happen against the will of the American people? To some extent that may be the case, because public opinion is virtually irrelevant.

The political game is so rigged that something like this was to a degree foreordained. It also explains why no one will ever be tried, at least in a US court. But why is it that our political system is the way it is? It is true that at the polls, Americans face a rigid, binary choice of pre-selected candidates in thrall to corporate money. That is the stock progressive critique of the American political system.

Still, it does not quite explain why the people just last month elected possibly the most reactionary and plutocratic Congress since the Coolidge era. There are other psychological factors involved than mere mystification and manipulation of a poor, deluded public. Just as Americans console themselves with the belief that Washington is not the real America when it is in reality only concentrated distillation of all the good and bad characteristics of any American town, so do people routinely condemn politicians and big-wigs of all stripes without noticing an uncomfortable resemblance. It is one thing for the Jon Stewarts of the world to denounce Dick Cheney and his henchmen for authorizing torture as if they were somehow disembodied from society at large.

It is more painful to reflect upon the results of a 2014 Amnesty International poll, finding that 45 percent of Americans believe that torture can be justified on public safety grounds, a significantly higher percentage than in any other country in what is now called the developed world. By contrast, respondents in countries like Chile, Argentina, and Greece, where the public knowledge of torture has been much more up-close and personal, gave sharply lower affirmative responses to the question than Americans did. Gazing at the snarling face of Dick Cheney, some Americans would be shocked to find it is a grotesque reflection of their own countenance, distorted as in a funhouse mirror."

Mike Lofgren

For the entire article:

It's well worth reading, including the footnotes.

4:31 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


As Geo Carlin once said, our leaders don't come from Mars. They *are* us; they reflect our values. And so a rotten culture selects rotten representatives. I've said it many times b4, that there are limits to the 'manufacture of consent' argument, which is also the false consciousness argument. What we have in the US is what Americans want; they just want it to work, which is now creating problems. If it takes torture to try and make it work, well, what the heck, let's do it. 62% of our fabulous citizenry also approve of drone strikes. This business of the public having the wool pulled over its eyes...hell, what if the wool *is* the eyes? The truth is that Americans are selfish, self-centered, and violent, which is why we get folks like Cheney and Obama in the W.H. In that sense, it really is representative govt, true democracy.

Meanwhile, I'm so excited that we now have a princess and a baronet on this blog, that I just dropped off a note to the King of Sweden, asking him if he wd consider Waferdom. Stay tuned, full report coming soon (I hope).


4:45 PM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Dr. B

Where was I? Mainly talking to my friend who is younger than me who sees what we see and having different conversations. In addition, I was just writing my fan fic just for cathartic release and just for fun.

You said ... "who believe, w/o any evidence, that torture prevented terrorist attacks" Yeah, all it is going to do is make them want to seek vengeance. Yeah, they may fear you at first but eventually the anger and rage builds up. I just have to conclude what you conclude, people here in the USA are dolts.

Dr. B and Kilo

Dr B said "...and that means they don't have much in the way of imagination..." I know exactly what you're talking about. My wife and I were discussing the merits of our capitalistic system. I told her what I thought the flaws were.

She asked me if I thought communism was better. I told her just because I don't like capitalism does not mean I love communism either. She asked me what I would suggest. I told her that I thought "small was beautiful and thought the small town state was great where there wasn't a lot of people and maybe we need to adapt some of the ways of the 50s or 60s or earlier." Guess what happened? She is an African American and she told me it was a racist time and what I was talking about was going back to the time of segregation and racism which was not what I said. I never said to take the downside of those times. Why not take some of the good aspects of different eras, be creative and try something new? Dr. B, imagine having pastrami on rye with mustard, turkey on white bread with mayo and hamburger with cheese and Ketchup. What I was asking was why can't one mix the different parts like having turkey on rye with mustard or hamburger on rye with mayo? It was frustrating to say the least and I love her a lot. On a brighter, slowly she is seeing America for what it is, a pile of shit.

If I don't like x why does it automatically imply that I love and I am loyal to y?

5:04 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


No offense to yr wife, but you hafta keep in mind that 99.9% of the American public makes no distinction between thinking and emoting. If they get enraged by the idea of 1950s racism, they think they've had a thought; they don't see it as an emotion, and they can't get it that you mean there are certain aspects of the past that are valuable--not *all* of the past. Do u.c. what I'm saying? They *want* to think, but they don't know how; and in addition, all of their thinking (which is actually emoting) is done in B&W terms, which helps to stoke their self-righteous rage. Hence, if you don't like capitalism, it means you must like communism. If you think there are valuable things in the past, then that must include racism. Etc.

When I say There is no hope, this is not hyperbole. There is no hope, end of discussion.


5:38 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

I've just seen Gone Girl. God damn. This is the American spectacle at its sharpest. Well worth a ride.

10:26 PM  
Blogger Val said...

MB, if our elected officials reflect a democratic polity, then I suppose that the effective abrogation of the Bill of Rights (always excepting the 2nd Amendment of course), particularly since 9-11, reflects the reality that a substantial majority of Americans don't care about and/or don't want the Bill of Rights any more - perhaps being actually hostile to it in many cases. This particular idea had not occurred to me in these terms before, & I find it disturbing. I hope Costa Rica has easy terms of immigration.

Speaking of torture enthusiasts, the head of the CIA was on Charlie Rose today, shilling for the wonders of water boarding, "enhanced interrogation," & other euphemisms. Charlie's a very affable guy; he never met a billionaire he didn't like.

I think I've encountered the emoting-as-thinking phenom quite a bit. It's like trying to reason with a brick wall, except that a brick wall is unlikely to shout back at you something furiously stupid as if it were a manifestly self-evident & incontrovertible truth.

I'll be sure to look up the cross-referenced indices of Dolts, Buffoons & Morons that u mentioned. It will be interesting to see how they're distributed globally, though I think I can guess where the highest concentrations are to be found.

Al - good one about the fish.

1:11 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I do see all this as a natural evolution of a hustling, or business, civilization. A few yrs ago I did an essay with a title like, "From Hustlers to Thugs," which I may have posted here (and/or on Counter Punch; I can't remember). Anyway, the pt of it was that hustling eventually issues out in thuggery, because hustling does not contain, in itself, an upper limit. This is what Lenin meant when he said that imperialism was the highest stage of capitalism. As the search for ever-expanding markets continues, republic turns to empire, and the empire bumps up against nations who don't particularly care to have their resources ripped off in what is euphemistically called "free trade." It was this imperial competition, in fact, that led to WW2. It's at this pt that having a large military becomes indispensable, if 'friendly' persuasion shd fail to work; and along with that, torture, genocide, and the decimation of civilian populations. This is the inevitable logic of hustling: we start out hustling, and we turn into thugs (see also Richard Powers brilliant novel, "Gain").

The American people have gone along w/this program at least since 1945. They *wanted* the fruits of empire, and they got them--frozen foods, tail fins, interstate highways, the whole 9 yards. Military might made all this possible, and in some vague and undefined way, I believe the American people understood this. So when a majority endorse torture, or 62% approve of drone strikes that murder women and children, they are in effect agreeing to the imperial program that made the American Dream possible--based on the slaughter of innocents. However, the American people are not very bright, and esp. not good at connecting the dots. So when, for example, our meddling in the Middle East results in the Iranian hostage situation (1980), or 9/11, the typical American is bewildered as to where this came from, and takes it personally. It's why Bush Jr. cd say in all stupid sincerity, Why would they want to hurt us when we are so good? The average American walking down the street believes in this cliche of American innocence; she is not aware that she has blood on her hands. Anyone who occupies the W.H. can do so only on condition that this imperial program (the American Dream in its evolutionary development) will be honored and supported; which is why the presidential 'debates' held on TV every 4 yrs are a farce. Jesus, what are Hillary and Jeb going to argue about, in Oct. of 2016, really? I remember that in 2008, CNN did a feature comparing Hillary's and Obama's eyebrows(!), and this is the type of thing that the American people, in their infinite wisdom, focus on.

In any case, when I talk abt dolts and morons, this is hardly hyperbole; it's what we've actually got, along with a deep kind of cruelty that is endemic to the hustling mentality and which has served, in the latest incarnation of that mentality, to infect the American soul as surely as cancer. This world can only get crueler and self-destructive until it finally implodes, which I believe I am going 2c in my lifetime. It's also why 'progressives' are so off the beam, believing that they do that a juggernaut of this sort can be modified or reversed. When did that *ever* happen to an empire or civilization, historically (and don't give me French Revolution; I'm not talking abt individual nations, but rather a socioeconomic formation that spans a gd part of the globe, like the Roman Empire or medieval Europe)? The 'progressives' are providing a service, just not the one they think: much as I've tried to do, they are documenting the collapse of this way of life. Subtract their optimistic foolishness, and they are doing important work, in other words.

(continued below)

2:58 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

This is why I've talked about outer (i.e. actual) immigration, or inner (the New Monastic Option) as the only ways out of this, at least on an individual basis. For there will be no collective action, no revolution; that is 'progressive' fantasy. The system simply has to continue committing suicide, and let's hope that the phoenix that eventually arises from these ashes is a better one than the last one, which was capitalism. (It may not be; I don't have a crystal ball, just a cautious, long-term hope.) Meanwhile, as I said above, as the year ends and a new one is almost upon us, Wafers need address only two questions:

1. What do I want to do with the rest of my life?

2. Who are my friends?

Happy New Year!


2:58 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: correction to last para of Part 1, 2nd and 3rd sentences. They shd read:

This world can only get crueler and more self-destructive, until it finally implodes, which I believe I am going 2c in my lifetime. It's also why 'progressives' are so off the beam, believing as they do that a juggernaut of this sort can be modified or reversed.

3:05 AM  
Blogger David Bolas said...

Kakistocracy: Government under the control of a nation's least qualified or most unprincipled citizens.

Sound familiar? I think I'm gonna vote repub in the next election. There is no real choice anyway. This place needs to hit bottom. As unpleasant as it will be, (maybe I can arrange to be out of town) I want to see tanks in the streets. No "Velvet" revolution is going to change the American psyche. Now that quality candidates like Donald Trump have announced their intentions, count me in! Along those lines, this is priceless:

Scott Walker's Hanukkah Message: 'Molotov"!

4:11 AM  
Anonymous Ray said...

Dear Morris, et al.

Regarding emoting as a deceptive substitute for thought...I have a family member who approaches most conversations (whether on public or private issues) with a massively tense emotional charge derived from an enormous chip on their shoulder about perceived injustices from long ago in family history. Then, when I try to respond while keeping my own temper in check, in a calm and deliberate way, this is eventually attacked as me using my (I paraphrase) "oh-so-quiet, oh-so-superior" manner to somehow nullify their emotion and win a (non-existent) argument.

There is no way out with these people - you either must contribute to escalating the emotional tension or you are attacked for being "oh-so-calm" as if that were itself an attack on them.

I realize that some manipulative sociopaths do strategically deploy a hostile form of "calmness" to infuriate and further egg on an already emotional person - and that Eichmann types are largely dispassionate in their nihilistic destructiveness - but surely there has got to be a limit to how often people who are trying their best to fairly discuss things are further attacked by the hysterical for doing this "oh-so-calmly."

Although the above example is from private life, I wonder if there is a corollary in public debate, where the very ability to think and not just emote - and calmly express the results of careful thought - acts as a red flag for the many who can only emote, infuriating them further.

This is not a disease of modernity - probably started in the Renaissance or when Hypatia or even Socrates were murdered. Have we really been that screwed up for that long?

6:17 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


If you responded by peeing on the shoes of this family member, he wd not be able to claim that you were oh-so-calm. Just a thought.


It is indeed sad that Sarah folded her cards so quickly; Michele as well. We really do need some moronic candidates up there, to polish the country off once and for all.


9:34 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: Molotov??! Jesus, what a goy!

9:38 AM  
Anonymous JWO said...

This article may have been posted here before, but I just ran across it:

9:52 AM  
Anonymous Neunder said...

Regarding your New Year's Questions, perhaps another way of putting them is this?

1. On my death bed, what would I most regret not having done?

2. Who in this world truly loves me?

11:17 AM  
Anonymous Pilgrim said...

I head up to the Esquire site every week to get my Charlie Pierce fix. Here's a recent entry...

As we continue to listen to the monsters among us discuss how fire-hosing hummus up a man's arse kept us all safe from another attack like the one that occurred partly through their own negligence, and as we here at the blog decline to move along to the next shiny object with everybody else, we discover that, beneath all the macho bluster, and the Jack Bauer fantasies, and the outright giggling sadism of our former leaders, there beat hearts of pure chickenshit.


11:18 AM  
Blogger KJ said...

Shriver moved to England! How hilarious. As a longtime resident here I can assure you the UK is as bad, if not worse, a dump than the US. It is hideously overcrowded, it is utterly stratified in terms of class and economic opportunity, and its countryside is being eroded very quickly as a result of its unstoppable population rise. Its popular culture is complete trash and there are an infinite supply of morons. Please don't kid yourself that the UK is better than the US: at least the latter has plenty of landmass in which someone who is determined to evade the morons can disappear.

11:42 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Sorry, I don't post Anons. You might wanna pick a handle, try again.


11:56 AM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Season's Greetings MB and Wafers,

MB, Wafers-

I wish all of you a Merry Xmas and all that kinda stuff. And don' forget:

'Twas the night before Xmas, when all thru the blog
Not a trollfoon was stirring, and Wafers were agog;
The Grecian Formula was applied by Mittney w/care,
In hopes that Lorenzo Riggins soon would be there;

The Americans were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of Kim's tushie danced in their heads;
And Wafers in their rubber boots, and MB in his Canter's cap,
Reminding all who'll listen that Americans are saps.

Anyway, you guys get the point...



12:44 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Beautiful song; I actually wept.


2:49 PM  
Anonymous Fidel Castro said...

MB -

What's your take on the Cuba news?

7:14 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Hola Fidel!

Gracias por escribir!

Con respecto de Cuba: 50 yrs overdue, but what the heck. Pls understand: we are not an intelligent nation.

Ademas, sus puros son fantasticos.

Hasta la revolucion permanente!


7:22 PM  
Anonymous I dunno said...

If I were Cuba, I'd be very careful.Once an American Embassy is established there, who knows? I wouldn't trust the US gov't as far as I could throw it. I'm very suspisious of this overture at this time.

@Miles Deli,

Thanks for the lovely video of Miles Davis!

Happy holidays to all!

9:15 PM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

Who could have ever thought that a U.S. Congressman who owns the website might be capable of sexual harassment of a staffer? If you want a real laugh, go to the link and check out the picture of this fat ugly creep.

“Farenthold regularly drank to excess,” said the suit, “and because of his tendency to flirt, the staffers who accompanied him to Capitol Hill functions would joke that they had to be on ‘red head patrol’ to keep him out of trouble.”

The congressman reportedly shared his “sexual fantasies” and “wet dreams” about Greene with other staffers and “regularly made comments designed to gauge whether [Greene] was interested in a sexual relationship.”

In February of 2014, Farenthold reportedly tried to entice Greene into a “threesome” with a female lobbyist. He told Greene that he is estranged from his wife and hasn’t “had sex with her in years.”

10:41 PM  
Blogger messtime said...

I was born & raised in the US, but 2-1/2 years ago i moved to New Zealand. I am 66 years old. Discovered this blog from another blog i was reading which mentioned this blog (Dark Ages America).

12:25 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Welcome aboard. We look forward to hearing more from you.


1:12 AM  
Anonymous Troutbum said...

Dr. MB and all WAFers Worldwide,

Another USA poll released further documents the ignorance of the American people.
"The survey of 1,416 adults, released for Constitution Day (Sept. 17) in conjunction with the launch of the Civics Renewal Network, found that:

While little more than a third of respondents (36 percent) could name all three branches of the U.S. government, just as many (35 percent) could not name a single one.

Just over a quarter of Americans (27 percent) know it takes a two-thirds vote of the House and Senate to override a presidential veto.

One in five Americans (21 percent) incorrectly thinks that a 5-4 Supreme Court decision is sent back to Congress for reconsideration."

America is becoming increasingly stupid and you can not fix stupid.
It's all here :

8:49 AM  
Anonymous Pilgrim said...

Thanks for that Hofstadtler link. I've had that book on my shelf for years now; it's time to pull it down and read it. Your article had a statement that I really liked concerning the "intellectual" viewpoint:

"It is a distinctive habit of mind and thought that actually forbids the kind of complete self-assurance we often associate with very smart people. "

I think this applies beyond the formal group of intellectuals and explains a much broader schism among the culture at large. It reminds me of Jonathan Franzen's essay "Why Bother" (from How to be Alone), where he complains of the declining readership of novels, and pursues some theories on what drives readers to read. One idea he mentions is that readers (and writers) are individuals who maintain a "conviction of complexity" and…

"...the way in which members of this community recognize each other is that nothing in the world seems simple to them."

Yeah. That describes me alright. He also discusses the theory that people who prefer nuance to closure are often people who have experienced some sort of turbulence in their lives. But he goes on to say…

"I suspect that art has always had particularly tenuous purchase on the American imagination because ours is a country to which so few terrible things have ever happened."
"Tragic realism preserves access to the dirt behind the dream of Chosenness - to the human difficulty behind the technological ease, to the sorrow behind the pop-cultural narcosis: to all those portents on the margins of our existence."

11:50 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Then there's this:


12:16 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

Regarding the poll cited by Troutbum...

If we were being charitable--and what better time to be so, eh?--then we could look at these statistics demonstrating a widespread ignorance among the electorate on the fundamentals of their democracy/republic and say that they really don't suffer all that much from their deficit.

Consider how poorly they are served by their government, broadly speaking, and how little their choices for leadership matter from one season and cycle to the next.

We might reduce the thing to the simple statement that they get/have the government they deserve. And, as is always apposite in these discussions, we might refer to an earlier comment by our own Mr. B referring to dear departed George, who noted that these leaders don't come from Mars, but instead come from the people themselves. GIGO, said George, garbage in garbage out.

12:34 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


True, but then there's this:


2:03 PM  
Anonymous Rufustina Firefly said...

This is scary, folks!

7:15 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Check out Dave Eggers, "The Circle," and also essays by Douglas Haddow in "Adbusters."


8:18 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


You might enjoy this film: "Night Train to Lisbon" (Jeremy Irons).


10:12 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Why didn't they just shoot him, like a dog? I don't get it!:

3:50 AM  
Anonymous Ray said...

Thanks Morris - you wrote:
"If you responded by peeing on the shoes of this family member, he wd not be able to claim that you were oh-so-calm. Just a thought."

Already did, figuratively, last spring. Long overdue, what a refreshing experience.

Just posted about it, because the blog doesn't just help us get set for our collective future, but (pardon me but it really does)also provides effective validation for many of us on a private/personal level, although that is not its intention.

Months after peeing, I'm still dealing with the internal toxic residue and still appreciate your support - this family member has been a hassle for ages.

Thanks for validating my choice to pee.


4:06 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Glad to hear it. Every Wafer shd always be carrying a 6-pack of Bud Lite, in the event that someone in the immediate environment needs a gd hosing.

The blog does intend to provide personal validation, BTW; the NMI option, for example, is a matter of individual choice. And the best choice, I think, in the case of folks like yr family member, is just simple avoidance. The NMI option says, Go where the (positive) energy is; don't waste yr time on dolts. This is why Wafers typically don't have many friends: most of the folks we meet on a daily basis are clueless, so we don't have people we can really talk to. Not a happy situation, but that's America.


10:04 AM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

Though the case for bringing Americans up on charges of rampant hustling has been made in spades by now, we should be pleased when we're presented with further evidence, since we never know which existing evidence might be dismissed or otherwise ruled inadmissable. To the end of further cementing the charges, I offer the following, which reports the application of a woman from Illinois to the US Patent and Trademark Office for a trademark for the sentence "I Can't Breathe." The applicant proposes to use the words on a line of T-shirts and hoodies.

And, for your cinematic.diversion, a recommendation for the movie "The Imitation Game," the story of Alan Turing and Bletchley Park. For those interested in learning how the German Enigma machine worked, the following:

3:38 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


That film is unreliable, according to a # of reviews. Better to read the bio by Andrew Hodges. Also, I did see a film on Turing a few yrs ago--"Codebreaker," I think it was--that was much more true, historically speaking.


5:07 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

So long, douche baguette dept.:

5:14 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Hello Wafers:

The curtain has certainly been pulled back this week, revealing the true nature of the mighty and terrible USA.

From raping helpless prisoners with rectal hommous, to shutting down cinemas in the face of less-than-articulate, and possibly Korean threats, the USA, in case there was any doubt, is a collection of vicious, thoughtless cowards.


7:14 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


All of which moved me to compose a little poem:

Is very high.

(RBI = Runaway Buffoon Index)


7:17 PM  
Anonymous Martha said...

Morris, Read Coming to our Senses some years ago, found it highly simpatico; recently discovered your series on Amerika (not that it's so new)---read Twilight last week, now reading Dark Ages, and just found this blog. Re leaving---is there anywhere to go? is Canada far enough? Seems to me Canada is far down the road of Americanization. (I'm Canadian, unlike the great majority of American liberals who habitually proclaim that they are moving to Canada, whenever an election doesn't go their way.) I love France, and speak the language somewhat, but it's so far from friends & family; you have moved to Mexico; my brother is exploring moving to Argentina, but I am reluctant to move somewhere I don't speak the language at all!

2:15 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Best thing is a non-Anglo country. Re: Latin America: it's not hard to get to an intermediate level in Spanish, and for just getting around, that's really all you need. I suggest you research various countries online, and also buy used guidebks off of Amazon. Also, there are lots of ex-pat websites that can help. Finally, pick 1-2 countries and go visit for a month, to get a sense of what living there might entail. Good luck!


4:35 AM  
Blogger jml said...

A quote from an essay by Iain McGilchrist that some Wafers may agree with:

"A generation of children is growing up who are either reluctant to read a book through or have actually lost the ability to sustain attention sufficiently to do so, that are dependent on a level of stimulation incompatible with the practice of scholarship, and are less empathic than their equivalent age group a few decades ago. A worrying number of them now need to be taught how to read the human face, something only autistic children had to learn explicitly in the recent past. Many of them are ignorant of their own culture’s history or of most of the great works of world literature. They are immersed in a version of the world that is for a large part mediated through technology. It is a world where they might no longer be aware of what it is that they are missing."

The essay is kind of long, but it's thoughts seem to accord with ideas expressed here.

7:40 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

I teach 1st grade in a very inner-city elementary school. Usually by December my students are able to at least read a few high-frequency words. This year most are still trying (?) to figure out simple letter/sound correspondences. In other words, learning to read is so far down on their list of priorities. What is a priority is getting a tablet for Christmas. Might there be a connection? Parenthetically, those projecting how many prisons will be needed in the future look at 3rd grade reading scores. Those who can't read at their appropriate level by 3rd grade almost never catch up and are destined to a life of poverty and criminal behavior.
I also am running into this craziness. For years I play sight word bingo on Fridays. Occasionally, a student would get a little upset if he or she did not win. Now students are getting upset almost to the point of violent if they don't have the word I call out! What kind of insane future are we headed if there is no sense of delayed gratification or cannot accept even momentary loss?

10:07 AM  
Anonymous ennobled little day said...

jml, Dan,

Here in small town Indiana, things do not seem to be that bleak, but then again I've only been teaching for less than two years.

A week or so ago, fellow veteran teachers were complaining about our students' reading scores. They said that if a student is reading significantly below grade level as a high school student, odds are they are not going to do very well academically. Even in classes like industrial arts! The teacher for that class was complaining of having students with a 3rd-grade reading level!! And yet, according to the state of Indiana, my high school is doing a very good job with their graduation rates.

1:02 PM  
Anonymous Kathy Sloan said...

I'd like to recommend to MB & all WAFers Paul Craig Robert's excellent book "How America Was Lost: From 9/11 to the Police/Warfare State." This summary is something that MB could have written himself: "Even as the view of America as a rogue state consolidates abroad, Americans appear largely bystanders at the spectacle of their government running amok. People forget the myriad instances of their government's flouting of the Constitution and international legal norms--if ever they were aware of them in the first place--accepting to live in the increasingly pernicious "new normal" with little protest.

Few American commentators have cut more clearly through the deepening deceit, hypocrisy and outright criminality that has infested
official Washington since 9/11 than Paul Craig Roberts. His scathing
critique sheds much-needed light on the country’s impending nightmare—economic collapse, internal repression, ongoing wars, and rising rejection by friends and foes alike." And that's it in a nutshell. As the aware Jews of Weimar understood - and as MB has urged - it's time to get out while you still can. The apocalypse is indeed coming.

Lastly, I have been urging all my colleagues on the radical left - both in the U.S. & internationally - to read the WAF trilogy & follow this blog. I have proudly brought new WAFers into the fold!!

3:04 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Thanks for ref to PCR and also for recruiting Wafers. Currently, in a nation of 318 million people, we have 146 registered Wafers, so I'm grateful 2u for your recruitment efforts.

Here's why it's important to get out: The % of Americans who are aware of PCR, or of what he is saying, or of me and what I'm saying, is minuscule. Match that fraction against 318 million people who are completely clueless and out of it, and you see why the Wafer plan makes sense, and the 'progressive' plan of turning things around(!) is little more than dog poop. There is simply no civilization in human history which, having reached the decline phase--when the fix is in, so to speak--managed to alter that trajectory. In fact, the historical record is that civilizations in the decline phase somehow do precisely those self-destructive things that hasten the decline. We might have a chance if the percentages were reversed; if there were 146 morons and 318 million folks like PCR. Instead, we have a handful of those type of folks, and 318 million people w/their heads tightly tucked in their rumps, rolling around like donuts. Quo vadis?


5:07 PM  
Anonymous Pilgrim said...

>> They are immersed in a version of the world that is for a large part mediated through technology. <<

This reminds me yet again of another Jonathan Franzen essay, this time "The Reader in Exile", also from How to be Alone. He implies that reading is a form of inoculation against the overwhelming influence of technology and that, at least in his circle of friends,...

"Every mother I know restricts her children's TV intake and sows resistance to it by encouraging reading."

...and consequently that...

"...those with the most access to information are the ones least tethered by the wires that bring it."

His hope is that...

"...and as the informational elite continues to inoculate itself with literacy, a certain percentage of readers will inevitably, like the fabled marijuana smoker, get hooked on harder stuff. Likewise, as the ranks of the preterite swell with the downwardly mobile, restless souls will have ever greater reason to seek out methods of opposition - 'to posit an elsewhere', as (Sven) Birkerts describes reading, 'and to set off toward it'."

I can't say that I see evidence that there's going to be too many "restless souls" out there; the anesthesia of this culture is too well engineered. It's so wickedly effective.

BTW: I assume by "preterite" he means those "left behind" ("bygone")? I've never seen this word used in this way.

6:23 PM  
Blogger Shane Neuhaus said...

Dr. Berman and Wafers, I was wondering if you have heard of "3rd worldist" communist factions such the Leading Light Communist Organization. Their line has some similarities to Waferism: i.e. The US and the First World "working class" are a lost cause, with the latter being little more than parasitic accomplices and pathetic freeloaders on the crumbs the wealthy throw down on the them from on the US reserve currency debt ponzi (which is tantamount to the disguised looting of the productive 3rd world). The Leading Lights advocate conning progressives into donating money as well as sabotaging imperialism internally, but reject out of hand "raising American working-class revolutionary consciousness."

8:22 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Birkerts was a real pioneer in sounding the alarm abt rdg on screens. See "The Gutenberg Elegies."


Never heard of the LLCO, but I like the idea of writing off the American people as change agents: I mean, what alternative is there? I also like the idea of conning 'progressives', and can't imagine it wd be all that difficult. However, I've never been a big fan of communism, and I don't have any idea of what the LLCO program consists of, or the goal that they are moving toward.


8:30 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

jml & Dan,

Thanks for the McGilchrist quote. The collapse of America’s ‘educational’ system and the reasons why virtually uneducable kids are showing up for school has already had a lot of ‘airtime’ on this blog.

The problem has been developing over a long time, and Paul Goodman had a lot to say about it in the 50’s and 60’s in “Compulsory Mis-education” and “Growing Up Absurd”. Back then he focused on lower working class youth who were alienated from middle class society. Interestingly, he also focused only on young men because, for young women, marriage could still function as an alternative to direct participation in the hustling society.

Educational collapse moved up the American social class ladder, and by 1979 Christopher Lasch, in “The Culture of Narcissism,” was talking about middle-class college students. He bewailed “not only the students reduced ability to read and write but the diminished store of their knowledge about the cultural traditions they are supposed to inherit.” He went on to say, “In the space of two or three generations, enormous stretches of the ‘Judaeo-Christian tradition,’ so often invoked by educators but so seldom taught in any form, have passed into oblivion. The effective loss of cultural traditions on such a scale makes talk of a new Dark Age far from frivolous.”

Today there is massive evidence that the overwhelming majority of Americans are, as Dr. Berman says, moronic at a cellular level; in fact, a great many are probably neurologically damaged by screen technology. And I’m sure it has passed the point of no return – “once a house is broken……”

Wafers who choose a New Monastic option, and who plan to raise children in Dark Age America, should educate themselves in the liberal arts and classical education, and begin gathering homeschooling materials.

David Rosen

10:28 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


No doubt that Goodman and Lasch were canaries in a coal mine. Going back abt a century, Arnold Toynbee said that when a civilization went under, it was not by being attacked from the outside, but rather by committing suicide. This has various aspects to it, but near-total disappearance of the basic cultural inheritance is surely one of the most significant ones. This now confronts us on a daily basis, and has been recorded by numerous YouTube interviews with the man in the street (or woman: students coming out of the Women's Studies Center at UCSB didn't know what "suffrage" meant, so were signing a petition to "end women's suffrage"), as well as Jay Leno's famous "Jaywalking" segments on his show ("What is the religion of Israel?" Ans.: "Israelite"), etc. The # of Americans who can identify Robert Frost is probably on the order of a few thousand at this pt.


12:05 AM  
Anonymous ny nazi goons said...

2 ny police shot dead like dogs - they deserve it - after all the killing and butchering of innocent people. More suicide bombings should commence in ny - the center of greed and nazi-like abuse of the entire American nation

12:11 AM  
OpenID atearinrain said...


it's interesting to hear that Paul Goodman felt women were fortunate in that "marriage could still function as an alternative to direct participation in the hustling society." A few years ago I decided to pass the time by reading a Time magazine article on the lack of happiness a more equal workforce has brought women. According to the article, women are now less happy than in the 50s, despite all the gains they've struggled for (not that the U.S. is currently devoid of sexism, of course); and if I remember right, the bulk of the article dealt with how perplexing this is. I don't remember the possible explanations the author posited; all I can remember is it seems an obvious case of "Be careful what you wish for." My gut feeling tells me that, while society's expectations to be nothing more than a housewife is certainly degrading, opening the gates to the workforce was like jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire. Personally, 99% of my paid labor has been extremely degrading. I do remember skimming the article for that explanation, and I did not find it. Considering it was Time, this did not cause me to second-guess my hypothesis.

I think I'll get some books by this Goodman fellow. My formal education didn't do much for me in regards to high culture or radical works, but in my defense I have spent well over a decade trying to rectify that.

12:44 AM  
Blogger Michael OConnor said...

I have come to the conclusion that Milton Friedman is what his initials are.

What will save of America? The resurrection and second coming of Kate Smith.

7:07 AM  
Blogger jml said...

a tear in rain

"women are now less happy than in the 50s, despite all the gains they've struggled for..."

Something that is usually overlooked and/ or never mentioned is that many women don't, and never did, want to work outside of the home, yet, now they are forced to. It's really no longer a choice, women today have to join the hustling culture. Admitting that one doesn't, that one would rather rear and nurture children, is taboo and akin to admitting that there is something very wrong with her - that she must be stupid or backwards. This has not been good for women or for children.

7:28 AM  
Anonymous ennobled little day said...

Dr. Berman, Dovidel and the rest of the Wafer crew,

I want to learn more about America's education system and public education in general. Any recommendations?

8:02 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


"When the moon comes over the mountain..."


10:23 AM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Hello Wafers:

...then there's Käthe Schmidt's "Gott Mit Uns..."

Someone on referred to "The Wandering Who?" recently, so I had to look it up. In doing so, I found this review, which ought to appeal to the Wafish mind:

Identity politics always tends toward the kind of politics espoused by zio-nazi neocon guru Leo Strauss, and his nazi mentor Carl Schmidt: The politics of loving the Self and hating the Other. Schmidt, and the even more radical Strauss, defined politics as the realm of human relations defined by enmity. All "political" activity, according to nazis and neocons, is just people banding together against an enemy.

"Jews" define themselves by despising "the goyim" - and the tables naturally turn. The same process underlies all nationalisms and tribalisms, including such subcultures as "gays" and "feminists"...perhaps even the "leftists" these subcultures lump themselves with. (The leftists I know do spend a lot of energy despising "the right"...)

What would be a more authentic way of doing politics? A way prophetic in its insistence on truth and justice...universal in its refusal to divide humanity into artificial categories...spiritual or religious in its consciousness of the weight of ethics and morality in the face of the infinite.


12:05 PM  
Anonymous lmk said...


women should be happy today since they can buy all the commodities money can buy.

what was the guy's name who wrote about capitalism and creative destruction?

most people around the world believe there are natural laws that guide human life; Americans only believe there are money and commodities that guide human life

I still wonder why Americans have mot yet realized that they can put 3 year old kids to work so as to increase economic growth and happiness of mankind

what is unnatural is natural says a typical American because he or she thinks Americans are free to think like that

did you notice how it is natural for Americans to make a movie depicting the murder of the leader of North Korea? this is natural because Americans are free to think it and to display it in their films. the moment the offended reacts and responds, everything the other side says or does becomes unnatural in the eyes of Americans. it is natural when Americans think about killing other people's leaders - it is not natural when other people think about killing you or killing your leaders

1:40 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Then there's this:

2:33 PM  
Anonymous COS said...

Enobeled little day,

John Taylor Gatto (a former NYC school teacher) has a great underground history of education. Quite readable and horrifying but not surprising...

NY Nazi Goons. What besides expressing disgust at your note is appropriate? Wafers? They deserved it? Yes all police bad and all of those arrested and shot are bad. I suppose such sentiments caught up in labeling are not uncommon in USA. Somebody gets robbed by black youths and well if one or more get shot they can be jubilant and say they deserved it. A person has an investment go wrong and well blame the jews...and on and on. Now you advocate bombing. I suppose if some child gets killed its just collateral damage in the mission to even some sort of score. Are the police angels--no. but the people they deal with are often pretty damn disgusting. To paraphrase Carlin--do you think the cops come from mars? They are mostly drawn from the communities they serve. Sadly, too man y people think like you--violence as an outlet for an impotent and frustrated self. Finding meaning in destruction and you cannot create. Such is the american way, you and dick cheney are of a kind.

2:36 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Here's the problem: we don't engage in ad hominem attacks on this blog (even if yr indignation is justified). You need to find a less personal way to critique, in future. Thanks.


3:07 PM  
Anonymous Martha said...

"Women should be happy today since they can buy all the commodities money can buy" is an awfully misogynistic comment, implying that women, as a group, have no interests other than shopping and acquiring material items. I just joined this blog, and hope this sort of comment is not generally acceptable here.

3:38 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


It's acceptable, as are the rebuttals of that pt of view. This is not a politically correct blog, altho obviously we draw the line at racial slurs etc. The only modification I wd make to that remark wd be something like: "American women (as well as American men) shd be happy today since acquiring objects is all Americans really care abt."

In general, we tend to avoid identity politics here (gender, race, religion etc.) since we regard all that stuff as distractions from serious questions, such as the relations of power, the spiritual emptiness of the country, and so on.


3:57 PM  
Anonymous Martha said...

Perhaps I should clarify! I am not interested in political correctness used as a way to stifle debate, which it often is. If someone wants to claim that women are more materialistic and addicted to shopping than men, let them make a reasoned argument and back it up with data, and people can argue against it if they will. But taking potshots, as I call it, is just a continuation of the mindless and impersonal style of communications that has become usual.

4:28 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Informal rule on this blog: post only once every 24 hrs. Otherwise, I'll be glued to this computer 24/7, and I really don' have time for that. As for potshots, I don't feel like being a blog cop, so to speak, and filtering out what people wanna say. Wafers are very smart, so when someone takes a potshot, it just tends to get ignored, and the discussion moves on to more intelligent things. Or, if someone says women are more shopaholic than men, you can always come back with: What's yr evidence? But the potshot folks eventually drift away...

Anyway, as already noted, we tend to avoid identity politics as shallow, the American substitute for genuine political discussion. But if u wanna see a great film abt female grit and determination, check out "Tracks" (Australia, 2013). I found it very moving.


4:49 PM  
Anonymous Michael in Oceania said...

Speaking of the two assassinated NYPD cops, here is this:

This reminds me of the conversation that you (MB) and Chris Hedges had last year on the Extraenvironmentalist podcast:

I remember that you and Chris were discussing the prospects of the police, military and "minion" classes turning on their masters. Chris was hoping against hope that this would happen, while you flatly dismissed the possibility.

Well, I suspect that both of you were half-right about this. On the one hand, I do expect that the police and military will turn on their masters at some point (Chris is right about that). On the other hand, they will not side with the people (you are right about that). This is not 1789, or even 1989, for that matter.

Rather, I think that the large, municipal police departments are transforming themselves into classic "warbands." Like urban gangs and narcotraficantes, they will rule through intimidation and terror. As Spengler pointed out, the population will simply be a part of the landscape (so to speak) as "warband" ex-police, gangs and narcotraficantes duke it out for local supremacy. I think we are seeing the "pre-Fort-Sumter" opening moves of the upcoming Second American Civil War.

5:52 PM  
Anonymous NOPE said...

Dr B

Thanks for the article. I love this one: "They are the natural products of a culture that has steadily mutated into embracing destructive hyper-individualism. The for-profit healthcare system, the prison-industrial complex, and the bitter segregation along race and class lines in the public education system are also natural products, along with deranged and violent police who face no consequences for shedding blood."

@COS - you wrote: "Sadly, too man y people think like you--violence as an outlet for an impotent and frustrated self. Finding meaning in destruction and you cannot create. Such is the american way, you and dick cheney are of a kind."

You and the fellow you attack make EXACTLY the points: America and Americans are violent people.

Consider what Americans did to Iraq. It shows a people who are violent for the sake of being violent, or to use your own words, it shows "violence as an outlet for an impotent and frustrated self." This is true considering that 15 out of the 19 terrorists who bombed the world trade center were from Saudi Arabia. In other words, Americans became violent against innocent Iraqi children when they could not go into Mecca and Medina to fish out the true terrorists. You can see then that Americans are not only violent people, they are stupid and wicked people who would kill the wrong people to satisfy their lust for blood.

This trait even shows inside America in how police kill unarmed people - as suggested by recent events and by the article provided by Dr. B. Have you ever asked yourself: why would police be militarized around the country AFTER trillions of dollars have been violently extracted and stolen from the American people via NY financial markets?

We need to embrace reality - people will fight back at injustice meted out to them. Many Americans will become suicide bombers the moment they realize how they have been violently duped by nazi-like gestapos in NY

8:08 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...


I was just about to write that my heart flutters as Kate Smith’s voice warbles through ‘God Bless Amerika’, and you come up with “…then there’s Käthe Schmidt's ‘Gott Mit Uns...’”

Back between 1933 and 1945, I guess Germany was an ‘Exceptional Nation’ too.

David Rosen

9:53 PM  
OpenID atearinrain said...


I do recall quite a few occasions in which people have told me they feel it's terrible that mothers are compelled to work to make ends meet, but I think you're right in that it is a taboo subject, because I am always surprised when I do hear someone voice that unpopular opinion. It's just another terrible tragedy of American life that children and their parents see so little of each other.


I think you're being a bit too sensitive. Poking fun at American materialism is one of the most popular subjects on this blog. I highly doubt lmk was singling women out; is it not obvious he said "women" because he was referencing my discussion of the decline in American women's happiness?


I highly recommend the ultra-Waferish TV series Black Mirror, of which I've now seen the first two episodes. In fact, I'm surprised no one here has mentioned it yet. It's pretty Twilight-Zone-ish, and extremely critical of modern technology.

12:40 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Annals of gd govt dept.:

6:47 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

And: cd this be part of "Dual Process" we've talked abt?:

6:51 AM  
Anonymous Wolfe said...

After reading this article provided by Dr Berman... the following:
Only rarely in U.S. history do writers transform us to become a more caring or less caring nation. In the 1850s, Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) was a strong force in making the United States a more humane nation, one that would abolish slavery of African Americans. A century later, Ayn Rand (1905-1982) helped make the United States into one of the most uncaring nations in the industrialized world, a neo-Dickensian society where healthcare is only for those who can afford it, and where young people are coerced into huge student-loan debt that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy.

And then watch the videos of an interview with Sir James Goldsmith (parts 1 -6)

And then reflect to understand that everything happening to America is man-made. Well, it can also be argued that it is God-made in the form of karma.

7:21 AM  
Blogger David Bolas said...


I have a little different take on your thesis. I think the argument of the US killing the "right" vs the "wrong" people in response to 9/11 begs the question; why did these people want to kill us in the first place?

In "Confessions of an Economic Hit-Man", John Perkins describes how he was employed by the US to corrupt the leadership of other countries for the benefit of US/multinational corps. They used any means necessary, sex, money. If the leadership would't "play ball", the US would ultimately send in the military (Iraq). Saudi Arabia during the 70s oil crisis was their greatest success story. That deal resulted in an agreement to keep the oil flowing at a reasonable price in exchange for the protection of the US that would keep the royal family in power. Thus, the most fundamentalist form of Islam (Wahabism/Salafism) was not only protected by the US, but promoted throughout the world with the petro dollars that flowed into the kingdom (>86 billion US$ over 40 years). Imagine if this $ had gone to promote Sufism or other Islamic thought? This US/Saudi alliance is so powerful, that collusion between the two has been suggested as a possible cause for the plummeting oil prices recently that have hit countries like Iran (Saudi Arabia's arch nemesis), and Russia (potential US rival) so hard.

Many Saudis don't like the ruthless regime, or its US alliance. Some of them took part in the 9/11 attacks. Where were the other hijackers from? Bingo! Egypt. Another ruthless torture regime backed by the US for decades. In fact, the only countries in the Mid East not in "partnership" with the US are, Lebanon, Syria and Iran. And we know what they've been subjected to.

As Hedges said, "the brutalized become brutal", and this part of the world has been colonized in the most brutal fashion by the West for over 100 years starting with the British and French and then the US from the 50's to present. My point is that if the US didn't brutalize other peoples, it wouldn't have to wrestle with the tough questions of "whom to kill" when "blow-back" is revisited upon it. Not gonna happen.

8:16 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


U might also look at works by Wm Blum, Steven Kinzer, and myself (DAA in particular), inter alia.


10:02 AM  
Anonymous Pilgrim said...

Dr. Berman...
>> cd this be part of "Dual Process" we've talked abt? <<

Good for them. But of course you know that here in the USA, in Florida, the "Sunshine State", they've gutted solar incentives and given the investor-owned utilities "virtually everything they wanted". I lived in Florida for 12 years, and if you stepped out of a darkened room during the summer without sunglasses you'd think the sunlight had welded your eyes shut.

I now live in NC, and have been planning on installing panels on my house (part of my NMI plan). However, ALEC has quite a foothold here and I wouldn't be surprised if they're able to do something similar by pandering to this state's market-besotted, low-information voters. My dolts are swinging for the fence.

BTW: those David Masciotra articles are terrific! Thanks.

12:05 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


David did an interview w/me for the Atlantic Monthly a while back that I thought came out pretty well; you might wanna try to find it on Google.

Meanwhile, I've been thinking abt a poem I wrote in the late 90s, and sent to a friend:

"The dolts are on the march.
There are more of them than there are of you.
If they get into power, they will hurt you."

OK, not quite up to the level of Keats, I grant u, but I'm struck at how prescient these lines were, and true today more than ever. But here's a homework assnment for Wafers lvg in NY: Go down into the subway w/a crayon, and on the sign that says "Danger Third Rail: High Voltage," scrawl: "Forget the voltage; what about the doltage?!" ps: don't touch the 3rd rail while yr doing this.


1:22 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Here's the thing: I don't post Anons. You might select a real handle and try again. Thanks.


10:26 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Gee, what a shock dept.:

10:33 PM  
Anonymous Martha said...

I'd like to address your questions, Morris, as the litany of what is wrong with Amur'ka is not only endless but is sickening to me. One of the main things I want to do with the rest of my life, as much as I am granted, is to play music. When I sit down with others, we play tunes that are sometimes so old they predate the Declaration of Independence. Others come down to us from Revolutionary or Civil War times, or the jazz age, and others were written by friends who have passed or are still with us. When we sit down to play, noone is taking calls or texting or surfing the net---everyone is present, attempting to bring all they've got to the circle, and listening intently to each other. We play in pubs, in living rooms, at campouts. Very few of us make any part of a living at it, or care to try. Our music community includes all ages---babies who sat on a couch at a party at age 4, sawing away on a tiny fiddle, are now hot teenagers with their own bands, calling square dances, or taking music degrees at college. We are housecleaners, farmers, doctors, landscapers, artists, computer specialists, and everything in between. We play for community dances where all ages, all races, all genders, are welcome, children join in almost as soon as they can walk, and those too old to dance sell tickets or just come to listen. We are keeping alive the old ways of entertaining yourself and your friends with nothing but a musical instrument and what is in your head and muscle memory. We are keeping alive rich and diverse musical heritages from Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, Cape Breton, Quebec, Mexico, Metis, and many others. I would love to hear what things from the past other WAFers are keeping alive!

12:53 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


True NMI activity! Bravo!


3:10 AM  
Anonymous JWO said...

(Yet) more evidence of the consequences of too much screen time:

and if any WAF-ers need some reading over the holiday (and like motorcycles and nature as much as I do) try reading Ara' blog here:

9:35 AM  
Anonymous Kevin said...

Two things:

- While no one should champion the hit-style killing of the two NY cops, I find it also offensive that this event has been used to dampen legitimate protest of police behavior in the NY suffocation case. My view is that the groups protesting should directly deplore the cop shootings but note that it will not change their stance.

- Sorry to dampen the techno-triumphalism of solar power but overall it's a loser without a transition to a different lifestyle. See the recent book that came out on Spain's long program with solar and the smaller-than-expected EROIs that resulted. (

Read the great book "Green Illusions" by Ozzie Zehner. Per Ozzie:

"Alternative-energy technologies don’t clean the air. They don’t clean the water. They don’t protect wildlife. They don’t support human rights. They don’t improve neighborhoods. They don’t strengthen democracy. They don’t regulate themselves. They don’t lower atmospheric carbon dioxide. They don’t reduce consumption.

They produce power.

That power can lead to durable benefits, but only given the appropriate context. Ultimately, it’s not a question of whether American society possesses the technological prowess to construct an alternative-energy nation. The real question is the reverse. Do we have a society capable of being powered by alternative energy? The answer today is no.

But we can change that."

11:33 AM  
Anonymous Rusty Snag said...

Hi Dr. Berman,

I thought Wafers might enjoy this:

I'm finding it interesting that people are now shooting back at the cops. The NYPD blames everyone but themselves: protesters, Mayor DeBlasio, etc. They never even considered that it is their own horrific behavior that is bringing out the shooters. I think you have written about this phenomenon in which the corrupt can only see themselves as perfect. If this continues, and there's no reason to believe that it won't, there are going to be a lot of dead people soon. America's cities are about to become a shooting gallery. Maybe we're already there. Me, I'm staying in my little town in upstate New York and practicing my NMI skills - making whiskey and curing meat.

12:53 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Where Upstate? That's where I was born. This random killing of cops is rather unfortunate, but as u pt out, to be expected. As someone famously said, War is the terrorism of the state, and terrorism is the war of the powerless.


I did read Ozzie's bk. There is a danger in investing too much hope in alt. experiments, but perhaps an even greater danger in not trying them. Sooner or later, Dual Process will out; or so I believe.


1:17 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Sorry, message was too long. I suggest you paraphrase and compress. Thanks.


4:15 PM  
Anonymous NOPE said...

So long as the NY terrorists kill innocent people, they should expect to receive what they give. That is the way it will be - george pataki and other ny terrorists can say whatever they want. They bleed blood like the innocent people they murder. Next time, it could be more bloody than they think if they keep behaving like terrorists paid to kill innocent people.

5:20 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...


You said: “…it's interesting to hear that Paul Goodman felt women were fortunate in that ‘marriage could still function as an alternative to direct participation in the hustling society.’”

I don’t believe Goodman said anything about this being ‘fortunate’ or ‘unfortunate’, and I don’t imply that either; I simply don’t know!

Here’s what Goodman said in “Growing Up Absurd” which was published in 1960:

“(I say ‘the young men and boys’ rather than the ‘young people’ because the problems I want to discuss in this book belong primarily, in our society, to the boys: how to be useful and make something of oneself. A girl does not *have* to, she is not expected to, ‘make something’ of herself. Her career does not have to be self-justifying, for she will have children, which is absolutely self-justifying, like any other natural or creative act. With this background, it is less important, for instance, what job an average young woman works at till she is married. The quest for the glamour job is give at least a little substance by its relation to a ‘better’ marriage. Correspondingly, our ‘youth troubles’ are boys’ troubles – female delinquency is sexual: ‘incorrigibility’ and unmarried pregnancy. Yet as every woman knows, these problems are intensely interesting to women, for if the boys do not grow to be men, where shall the women find men? If the husband is running the rat race of the organized system, there is not much father for the children.)”

I have no agenda regarding gender or feminism, but I’m old enough to remember that what Goodman describes above really was how people thought and lived back in the 40’s and 50’s. One reading a 50+ year-old book should remember the context in which it was written.

Basically, Goodman tells us that we’re surrounded by social and educational problems because we live in a flawed society.

David Rosen

7:00 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Annals of douchebaggery, or There just isn't enuf urine to go around:

7:44 PM  
Anonymous David G. said...

Speaking of the NMI lifestyle, I think technology is not only a cause of the dysfunctions noted about students and adults not being able to read, not knowing history, etc., it also can prevent us from leading an NMI life. My latest favorite technology to hate is the smartphone. I think it, along with pretty much every other technology, just gives people another way to entertain themselves and get dumber and lazier. I suspect that young people today growing up with smartphones will not be able to imagine any other way of being. People perversely always find ways to abuse technology, and I am becoming increasingly of the opinion that most technology creates as many problems as it solves. And these new problems are usually more complex and insidious than the old problems. I don't have a smartphone, but I suspect it won't be too many years before I won't be able to have my simple clamshell phone anymore, and smartphones will become the standard way things are done, just as the internet has become. I will be forced to adopt this technology, even though I don't want it and am trying to live a simple NMI life. This is another American value -- the worship of technology. I hope I can continue to hold out.

11:29 PM  

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