February 08, 2015

238

Well, Waferinos-

We've got a good discussion going on the Ukraine, so we might want to continue with that; although a subthread on the merits of chopped liver would not be totally amiss, methinks. I don't have a lot to add right now, being up to my eyeballs in trying to get out the Japan book and the Spanish edition of SSIG. Also doing my taxes. When I saw how little I earned last year, I wept. Not sure how I manage to keep going; it sure ain't from book sales. "Little Known Author Dies in Mexico from Poverty, While Trollfoons Applaud"--a future newspaper headline somewhere, I suppose. On the bright side, we now have 157 registered Wafers, so our victory is assured.

Life goes on, amigos. Try to avoid talking to Americans, in the meanwhile; it's just too depressing.

mb

133 Comments:

Anonymous SeanKerrigan.com said...

At the risk of making a wildly depressing post, you might find some sick amusement in seeing a photo gallery of people (mostly Americans) taking 'selfies' with the dead. Though really, I'd skip this one. Pretty grim.
https://likes.com/weird/selfies-with-the-dead?v=b2ahnfgub2waU3Bxx1R0I5I41ykxBc0fO&page=1

On the more positive side, I recently rediscovered this insightful article from 2011 from a John F. Schumacher. He writes: "The biggest problem is that, by design, we are cultural creatures, fated to be normal except for rare individuals with enough courage and conviction to liberate themselves partially from culture’s powerful gravitational pull. Even well meaning individuals who profess concern about the unfolding apocalypse usually plod on like zombies in allegiance to their cultural norms."
http://www.culturechange.org/cms/content/view/762/1/

Finally, Here's some Gil Scott Heron for the cold winter months: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m2zKdIcOV5s#t=126

2:40 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

cafe-

Sorry, wasn't able to post it, because you attacked Miles personally--which was totally gratuitous. It seems you are unable not to do this sort of thing, which means this is probably the wrong blog 4u. I'll say this only once: get some therapy for yr anger, then perhaps come back in a yr or 2. Gd luck.

mb

5:35 PM  
Anonymous COS said...

Oh Miles,

I give you facts, which I did not make up, I rely on relatives (I am of Russian/Mexican background, and the good Doctor's Kissinger, Chomsky and of course Dr. Mearshiemer at the Council of Foreign relations. the standard villification of Putin with no facts at all is standard american PR approch no?
Here again this is from the reisdent expert at Council of Foreign Relations (In Washington D.C---not Moscow:) from Link provided earlier... If you have evidence debunking these plain facts (Not assertions or name calling or refering to him as a thug but real facts), I suggest you present them to Kissinger, Chomskly and CFR for if you do so, you will likely gain a comfortable sinecure, some fame and a voice in the councils of state.

"According to the prevailing wisdom in the West, the Ukraine crisis can be blamed almost entirely on Russian aggression. Russian President Vladimir Putin, the argument goes, annexed Crimea out of a long-standing desire to resuscitate the Soviet empire, and he may eventually go after the rest of Ukraine, as well as other countries in eastern Europe. In this view, the ouster of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014 merely provided a pretext for Putin’s decision to order Russian forces to seize part of Ukraine.

But this account is wrong: the United States and its European allies share most of the responsibility for the crisis. The taproot of the trouble is NATO enlargement, the central element of a larger strategy to move Ukraine out of Russia’s orbit and integrate it into the West.

For Putin, the illegal overthrow of Ukraine’s democratically elected and pro-Russian president -- which he rightly labeled a “coup” -- was the final straw. He responded by taking Crimea, a peninsula he feared would host a NATO naval base, and working to destabilize Ukraine until it abandoned its efforts to join the West.

Putin’s pushback should have come as no surprise. After all, the West had been moving into Russia’s backyard and threatening its core strategic interests, a point Putin made emphatically and repeatedly."

If you have actual facts, do present them not to me but to the world--fame awaits!!!

How about that Bruce Jenner!

5:52 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Hello Wafers:

On Friday morning, as I was pedalling my way to the old factory through new snow in -17ºC temperatures, a woman pulled up next to me and asked me if I had dropped my keys. She saw them fall out of my pocket, got out of her car to pick them up, then followed me until she caught up to me to give them back.

How about that?

Say, SeanKerrigan, do you find it ironic how Schumacher says:

Even well meaning individuals who profess concern about the unfolding apocalypse usually plod on like zombies in allegiance to their cultural norms.

yet relies on using the "zombie apocalypse," one of the most common pop culture themes today, as his metaphor?

6:09 PM  
Blogger CB said...

Greetings from the cold and snowy NE. We had a high of 7 degrees today. Nothing to do but eat and let the cabin fever induced anxiety rise , then subside. I thought about calling the Anthem insurance hotline as I am one of the 80 million subscribers whose info has been compromised. Then I came to my senses. The damage has been done and speaking to some corporate drone over the phone will probably add to my anxiety. Enjoy your sunshine and pleasant breezes. In case you missed it , Kim K has gotten a haircut as reported by Huffington Post.

7:33 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Wafers-

Good args back and forth re: Putin vs. the West. Once again, I confess to being of two minds abt this, so what follows are some random thoughts, the result of thinking aloud. I hope it's helpful, but it may not be.

Walter LeFeber once calculated the cost of the Cold War to the US, in 1967 dollars: $8 trillion. Just think of what we cd have done w/that $, if we weren't unconsciously wedded to a Manichaean program of We Good/You Evil, to fill the vacuum at the center of the American soul, which consists of little more than shopping. As it turned out, we cd have probably won the war by raining Big Macs down on Moscow for 3 days, at the cost of 100K max.

Altho the 2 camps are not mutually exclusive, American politicians tend to lean toward the Idealist camp on the one hand, and the Realist camp on the other. The 1st says we have a mission to 'civilize' the world (bring them the glories of individualism, capitalism, 'democracy', etc.), whether they want it or not. Reagan and the Bushes fall in this camp. Realists include George Kennan and H. Kissinger, and the thesis is that whatever another country does w/in its borders is its business, not ours. We do not preach human rts to them or whatever; we just arrange trade agreements. Of course, Kissinger violated this in the case of Chile, and Kennan did include some purple prose in the 'Long Telegram' of 1946, which he later regretted; but these are basically the 2 schls of thought.

The problem, for me, is that historically speaking, everyone had blood on their hands, and the Realist schl may not be all that realistic. Thus we cdn't interfere w/Russia militarily when it crushed the Hungarian rebellion of '56, or Czech spring in '67--but (imo) we were rt to speak out abt it. And when Bush Sr. went to China a week after Tiananmen, toasted its leaders, concluded a trade agreement, and said 0 abt the massacre: that was OK? Wd it be OK for us not to protest female circumcision in Islamic countries, because 'that's their business'? You get the pt.

As for the Cold War (which obviously is getting echoed in the Ukraine today), I have often wondered abt the following:

1. We were quite aggressive re: the USSR even b4 WW2 ended; plans for making them the new enemy, to replace the Nazis, were already being formulated. And part of the reason that the bomb got dropped on Hiroshima was to 'get a leg up on the russkies' in the postwar era; there's no question abt that. Then we ring the country w/missiles and military bases, and object to Russia's objection to this! By a curious logic, *they* become the aggressors (cf. Churchill's 'Iron Curtain' speech of 1946).

(continued below)

7:34 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

I have often wondered how Russian (or Cuban) communism wd have developed, w/o the US threatening the country all the time, forcing it into an endlessly defensive posture. Cd have turned out v. differently.

2. In that regard--and I'm not sure this makes much of a diff--was the internal repression, the brutality of the Soviet regime (you cd go to Siberia for 10 yrs for telling an anti-govt joke, and many did), the Moscow show trials, the eventual purging of Jews and intellectuals, the outrt psychosis of Josef Stalin--it's a long list--was all this really the product of 'godless communism', as the US wd have it, or is it not the case that historically spkg, Russia was never *not* autocratic, from Czar Nicholas II all the way back to A.D. 1000? It cd have probably taken American democracy and made it autocratic! (For a great sendup of all this check out Bulgakov, "Heart of a Dog.")

3. Finally, as already mentioned, there is the matter of Russia's *external* repression, namely of the satellite countries. Yes, this can be seen as the nation protecting her flanks, so to speak, but she also destroyed any kind of spirit or self-determination in those countries. (Tito's Yugoslavia was the only one to escape the hammer--and sickle--to some extent.) It may be that defense and offense overlap here, and that may be what is currently going on w/Putin and the Ukraine. I dunno; I'm just saying.

What we are left with is a gigantic mess, the legacy of the Cold War in which blame can be apportioned on both sides, I think. As Miles/Jeff notes, Putin is a dangerous guy (the rise to the top of the KGB shd tell us a lot abt him), and Mother Russia has indeed become a kleptocracy for him and his friends. It's an arbitrary govt, a govt of men and not laws, and if he wants a critic rubbed out, he just does it w/impunity. However:

1. So what? That's their country, not ours, and his offense is again a defense--against NATO and the machinations of the US.

2. Speaking of which, as most of u may know, I regard US foreign policy as 100% machiavellian. All our talk of 'freedom' and 'democracy' is just so much cant (whether at home or abroad), a cover for our attempt to control the world, both geopolitically and economically. The antebellum South saw this with respect to the North prior to 1861 (NB: this does not excuse slavery); Japan saw this prior to Pearl Harbor (NB: this does not excuse the massacres in China and Korea). We are basically a load of horseshit looking out for its own egregious interests, and I have no doubt that Putin is fully aware of this.

To sum up: trying to assign blame or responsibility here is a little like trying to do it in the case of the Charlie Hebdo massacre. Too many crisscrossed threads, too much incredible complexity, all rooted in a long history. In the case of Putin, my view is in his favor, rather than that of the US; but by a slim margin (52-48, maybe).

Just my 2 cents. Hope this helps.

mb

7:39 PM  
Anonymous Troutbum said...


Dr. MB and all WAFers:


Today, I bring to your attention a extraordinary book by Ed Baptist, " The Half Has Never Been Told - Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism". Baptist's astonishing book places slavery at the core of the early American economy especially during the explosive growth of cotton domestically and in the global economy. By 1850, there were over 3 million slaves in American, which represented almost 20% of US National wealth, generating almost half of the economic activity in the US, all derived from the cotton economy produced by slaves. Along the way, no surprise, were hustlers who traded slaves, and forced an internal migration of almost 1 million slaves, moved to the deep south's cotton fields. Major banks up north facilitated this growth by allowing slaves to be used as collateral for mortgages and then securitized the mortgages and sold them around the world. Shades of 2008! And over time, cotton production radically increased not because of technological advances but rather by torturing slaves to pick faster. Baptist labels this process the "whipping machine". These are only a few of the highlights found in this important and remarkable book. All citizens and every WAFer needs to read this history.

8:49 PM  
Anonymous McFly said...

Bill Cosby was forced to cancel his show in boston today, because so many bostonians are outraged by the guy. Meanwhile, we inch closer to nuclear holocaust with each passing day in Ukraine. Boy, you gotta hand it to Americans. They sure know how to reserve their outrage for things that really matter.

Oh, did you hear that the pentagon spent over half a million dollars on pharmaceutical contracts for viagra? Isn't that nice of 'em to care so much about the soldiers' pleasure? In other news, Pentagon officials are still scratching their heads over how to deal with this mysterious epidemic of rape in the military.

I had a strange dream last night. I used doc brown's machine to go back and visit my ancestors. I woke myself up screaming "don't you dare get on that fucking boat!!"

Don't forget to watch the Grammy's tonight! LL Cool Jay is hosting! I can't wait to find out what song wins. Will it be a song about asses? Or will asses just play a peripheral role in the lyrics?

8:55 PM  
Blogger Marc L Bernstein said...

Some of the trusted scholars and intellectuals whose assessments of and opinions on the current crisis and events in the Ukraine:

Steve Lendman
Stephen Cohen
Immanuel Wallerstein
Paul Craig Roberts
John Pilger
Noam Chomsky
Dmitry Orlov
Chris Martenson
Ron Paul (a strange ally)
Henry Kissinger (a stranger ally)


I wouldn't mind hearing your reaction to any of those figures and their published writings on the Ukrainian matter. Some of them write weekly (or even daily, like Paul Craig Roberts and Steve Lendman) articles on their weblogs.

a few examples :

Kevin Zeese -

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/chomsky_and_kissinger_agree_avoid_historic_tragedy_in_ukraine_20150206

Lendman -

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2015/02/monsantos-land-grab-in-ukraine.html

Wallerstein -

http://iwallerstein.com/panic-about-panic-russia-and-the-world-system-today/

The crisis in the Ukraine has been called the most dangerous since the Cuban missile crisis. I'm no historian so I lack a strong opinion on the matter. That's why I'm asking.

9:34 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Trout-

I'm aware of the bk. When I was doing research on WAF ch. 4, I drew a lot from a listserve of scholars interested in the Civil War. One of them wrote me directly, said he felt the coming wave in C.W. studies was the global aspect, and how cotton fit into the world mkt. He was a grad student, I think, and I think I mentioned this somewhere in the footnotes to ch. 4; altho I cdn't do much more at the time, because the Baptist bk hadn't been published. But I did feel that the world economy approach was probably the rt way to go, in terms of generating a more comprehensive picture.

mb

9:42 PM  
Anonymous KJ said...

Dr Berman, I was wondering if you knew of the work of Andre Vltchek, a Czech left-wing writer who has written much on western imperialism and rapacity. I thought you might enjoy his words on page viii of the introduction to this book available to look at on Amazon. He discusses the ultimate hopelessness of trying to educate western peoples about the crimes of their governments, due to their own apathy and being sunk in their consumer lifestyle. I feel it chimes in well with your own fatalism. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Fighting-Against-Western-Imperialism-Vltchek/dp/6027005823#reader_6027005823

4:35 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

KJ-

Thanks for the ref. In my Japan bk, at one pt, I quote from David Shulman, who is an Indologist at the Hebrew University, and who says that the West has never understood the economic imperialism it has waged against the East; it just fails to see it. This is what I'm referring to above: economically, the North boxed the South into a corner, as did the US w/Japan. Many more examples cd be cited. And yes, I do think consumerism has a lot to do w/this blindness, but there are other factors as well (e.g., the American need to appear 'innocent' to itself). However, I'm not really a fatalist, as u assert, because I do think there is a way out, albeit long-term, namely Dual Process, wh/I've discussed on this blog at some length. In other words, I'm a declinist, believing that we have to crash in order to wake up; altho in the case of the US, I don't think there will ever be a wake-up. So yes, in the case of America, I'm pretty fatalistic: it's over, and I doubt we'll ever recover. Europe and Latin America, different story (hopefully).

mb

8:49 AM  
Anonymous KJ said...

Well, I'm a European and I have no hope for "my" continent. People here don't give a damn; they are not much different from Americans, believe me. Whatever non-Imperialist future may be possible lies in the Eastern, African and South American countries, in my opinion. The English speaking world is too far gone in its righteous narcissism.

9:35 AM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

Shouldn't the WAFer community have a patron saint? (No actual religious connection intended or implied, of course)

I make bold to nominate George Denis Patrick Carlin. His early comedy gave us classic characters: Al Sleet, the Hippie-Dippie Weatherman, whose most remembered forecast might be the following: "Tonight's forecast: Dark. Continued mostly dark tonight, changing to widely scattered light towards morning."

Over time, he became increasingly cynical, as shown in this excerpt from his HBO special "Life IS Worth Losing":
I look at it this way... For centuries now, man has done everything he can to destroy, defile, and interfere with nature: clear-cutting forests, strip-mining mountains, poisoning the atmosphere, over-fishing the oceans, polluting the rivers and lakes, destroying wetlands and aquifers... so when nature strikes back, and smacks him on the head and kicks him in the nuts, I enjoy that. I have absolutely no sympathy for human beings whatsoever. None. And no matter what kind of problem humans are facing, whether it's natural or man-made, I always hope it gets worse."

In an interview reflecting on his life's work, he captured what I find I feel about the way things are going, both here and abroad in the wider world. Carlin told his interviewer that when we're born into this world, we're given a ticket to the freak show, and if you're born in America, you're given a front row seat.

George, how we miss you..

11:04 AM  
Blogger Kanye Cyrus said...

Old wine in new bottles but great piece still:

http://www.icij.org/project/swiss-leaks

11:30 AM  
Anonymous Snail Flatus said...

mr berman,

i know you've said that China seems to be following the same course as the US. But the ideological flexibility in China is astonishing when you consider how they were able to mobilize a billion-plus people to suddenly embrace capitalist production while retaining their communist identity (even if only nominally). That sort of contradiction would trigger a collective aneurysm in the American population.

11:51 AM  
Anonymous lack of coherence said...

Marc -

Re: "trusted scholars and intellectuals"

I think you need to look for better sources. Dmitry Orlov has repeatedly denied that Russians are even in Ukraine, and he claims that the 2014 Ukrainian Revolution was led by neo-nazis (a severe distortion of the truth). This is totally absurd. There's much to criticize, but Orlov is dead wrong on this one (much like much of his other writing, like claiming Boston will experience a 2 week fast collapse due to high oil prices). Orlov is also a 9/11 truther. He has a history of repeating bad information and spreading lies and conspiracies.

http://cluborlov.blogspot.com/2014/08/how-can-you-tell-whether-russia-has.html

Ron Paul is another guy who spreads bad information of all kinds, including that climate change is a hoax.

I think MB is doing well to call it a near split here. For a quick recap on the lies and life of Putin, I recommend watching a recent Frontline episode. Putin is extremely corrupt and is thought to be one of the wealthiest people in the world due to his criminal activities.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/putins-way/

11:53 AM  
Anonymous Golf Pro said...

Personally I see USA vs. Russia as being like Chelsea vs. Manchester City. I'd like to see both sides lose.

I don't really understand why any of the little people like us bother to take sides, as though we have any control over the machinations of the big power players. It's vain in both senses of the word.

I don't think the US is the only country in the world imprisoned by its own narratives or its own previous behaviour. As I said before, what Russia is doing now is exactly what it has been doing for centuries. Putin might be more cunning than Obama, capable of a greater range of thought, more subtle in his reasoning, but at the end of the day is he any less of an automaton for all that? There's nothing that marks him out as being any different from a long, long, long line of Russian autocrats.

The same applies to my own country, which is an inveterate meddler, and always will be. An Iranian comedian was once asked what would stop Britain interfering in the Middle East, and his reply was "coastal erosion". This solution will take even longer with countries the size of the USA and Russia.

12:04 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

MB, COS, Wafers-

Well, I think I'm gonna take COS's advice and attempt to land a cushy job at the US Department of State. Perhaps I can convince both *bomber* McCain and Lindsey Graham to arm Ukraine w/ketchup shooters and diced onion grenades. If I'm successful at the State Dept. roundtable, I'll hafta take a hiatus from the blog; If unsuccessful, I'll be back by Wednesday...

COS-

I did not say that you had made up facts. I'm jus' saying that there are other sets of facts concerning the larger discussion and dynamic about Ukraine, Russia, trust issues w/Putin, etc. I respect Mearsheimer, Chomsky, and others who are desperately trying to stave off an historic miscalculation and blunder in arming Ukraine. Jesus, I'm praying for Obama to follow Merkel's lead and make the right call.

You know, if you scroll back to the first blog conversation Wafers had about the Crimean annexation, months ago, you'll see that I wrote (under my original handle, Jeff T) that Putin was probably doing this for defensive reasons. I cited NATO influence/pressure, Russian sacrifice in World War II as a precedent, and the fact that for far too long the US has treated Russia w/terrible dishonesty as reason enough to give Putin the benefit of the doubt. I recall a person named Jonathan thanked my contribution and analysis. However, he completely flew off the handle when I lodged the slightest criticism toward Putin. I decided to let it go, but it did get me thinking...

My views began to shift during this more recent crisis in eastern Ukraine and what appears, at least to me, to be an unfolding tragedy in Ukraine w/human rights violations. As a Wafer, I tend to side w/the oppressed in most situations. In other words, in such a world of conflict, a world of victims and executioners, as Camus reminds us, it's the job of thinking people to *not* be on the side of the executioners.

Miles

12:37 PM  
Anonymous turnover said...

Nicely balanced thumbnail on Ukraine. Thanks!

Personally, I've had little luck in changing people's opinions or resolving conflicts. Fuhgeddaboud wading into thousand year old messes.

While it's painful to watch the tidal wave of propaganda in the US, what really smarts is how the people I've talked to go along with it. How many times do you have to see the giants of US media dishing it out before you at least question the accuracy of this sort of "journalism?"

Maybe I exaggerate, but Ukraine propaganda accepted without discussion by the mainstream seems the best current evidence of irreversible idiocy and a destructively self centered culture. PS-- I've stopped asking people what they think about Ukraine. I get a lot more out of cooking a nice dinner.

2:11 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

KJ-

Note that most of Europe is not English-speaking.

mb

2:48 PM  
Blogger Sam Holloway said...

lack of coherence, I want to briefly address your criticism of Dmitry Orlov. Nowhere does he say that there are 'no Russians in Ukraine.' On the contrary, he suggests, as would any serious historian, that eastern Ukraine is home to many ethnic Russians. What he and others have said repeatedly-- contrary to the more breathless Western propaganda-- is that no regular Russian forces are in Ukraine. Also, I don't think it's as absurd as you do to suggest that the Ukraine coup government is led, at least in part, by neo-Nazis. More importantly, though, it bears mentioning that the U.S. spent well over $5 billion and several decades trying to turn Ukraine into a NATO stalking-horse, and what we're seeing today is the ugly result.

Beyond all that, I'm tickled by the whole thing in light of a book I recently read, "Fields of Blood" by Karen Armstrong. Therein Armstrong tackles the long-standing myth that 'religion' is at the core of state violence. How any honest student of history could still make such an assertion after the secular bloodbaths of the 20th Century is beyond me, but what the hell. Armstrong goes back to the beginning of civilization to put more nuanced definitions on the concept of religion, and to demonstrate that it's civilization itself, not religion, which is the prime mover of organized violence. The idea that some are inherently worthy of more resources and material privilege is nigh impossible to maintain in real life without structural societal violence. Hence warfare.

3:12 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

KJ-

BTW, pls post once every 24 hrs, maximum. Thanks.

Snail-

I'm no China expert, but as far as I can make out, the shift to capitalism *did* trigger a collective anyeurism over there, esp. in rural areas. From Deng Xiaoping it's been a kind of cowboy/crony capitalism, w/a tiny sliver of urban rich raking in the renminbi. This is what led to Xi Jinping's speech, a yr ago, that capitalism had led China off the rails, was an empty way of life, and what China needed was to return to Confucian values. Shock therapy was pretty much a disaster; 1% of the pop. owns 47% of the wealth--as in the US--and the adaptation has hardly been smooth.

mb

3:13 PM  
Anonymous COS said...

Lack of Coherence,

I think in waferdom we can do better than smears and name calling.

Ron Paul is singular in his opposition to the U.s. engaging in war and meddling in other countries affairs. He though you may disagree with his views is remarkable in being consistent and ethical.

Orlov is a witty and engaging writer. Very astute, original and a NMI. Again, you may disagree with him but like Ron Paul you can disagree with peoples views without calling them kooks and liars.

Frontline is as you probably know a PBS show which is sponsored by corporations and the U.S. I suspect who pays them may bias their perspective? If they do a show detailing how the Clintons are now worth a few hundred million or how Jon Corzine bilked people out of 1.2 billion and never was prosecuted well then we can talk. Again (and as MB pointed out) if Putin is a thug and corrupt so what of it? The U.s. drones and tortures and invades. Who or what is the other to which Putin is compared too? Maybe Norway? Also, technically Orlov is correct that Russia is not in Ukraine (aid and "advisors" yes as there are EU and U.S. advisors on other side too ya know). I do ask people this--how would U.s. handle Russians or Chinese involvement in overthrowing the elected government of Mexico or even say domican republic and installing people aligned to their interests? Just asking. Painting, Husien, Assad, the Ayatollahs, Ghadaffi, Putin as really big bad guys does serve a useful purpose--can do what you will with them, their country and their people.

I also read in El Pais and in the Guardian that their are a lot of Neo Nazi elements in the new "government" of Ukraine. Flying in Ukrainian Americans from Chicago to help run the government there a little over the top no?

4:35 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

Saw a hybrid today with a bumper sticker reading 'Im ready for Hillary'. The lighthouse is out of commission. Can anyone see the rocks?

4:53 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dan-

Maybe he meant he had a .357 Magnum in his glove compartment.

COS-

Just a clarification. It's not OK to attack other Wafers personally, call them kooks, liars, or whatever. However, public figures, as far as I'm concerned, are fair game--Paul and Orlov included. If someone wants to call Obama a flatulent piece of dreck, wh/is what he is, I certainly have no objection. So we need to be clear abt our targets. In any case, I think the discussion you, Miles, lack et al. has generated is a very helpful one. We can all see that the Truth is clearly not on any one side. (Or at least, that's how I see it...)

Onward, muchachos...

mb

5:46 PM  
Anonymous potstickers said...

It's so obvious that this is all a pathetic attempt to spark a new cold war, and the left fell for it 100% like lemmings off a cliff. How many times have I woken up to giant headlines in 48 bold that announced the RUSSIANS ARE INVADING!!! Five hours later, the "Russians are Invading" headlines are at the bottom of Huffington Post, The Guardian etc. and Kanye is back at the top! It is just so transparent, obvious, and sloppily done, they just don't give a shit anymore about covering their tracks. Americans don't care either. They just eat up their propaganda without question. There doesn't even need to be logic behind it.

The media, reports what they WANT to happen as news now! It's incredible! I remember the Huffington Post declared one morning that the seperatists were on the retreat and were on their last legs. On the front page there was a photo of the Ukrainian army with this beautiful angelic light shining on them. So I went over to the Saker, and he reported exactly the opposite- that the separatists had the Ukrainians surrounded in a cauldron. Well, two days later, the Ukrainian army was crushed, and no headlines at Huffington Post.

Anyone who wants to fight with Russia, sign up and head to the frontlines. I'll monitor your progress from my hammock.

6:43 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

pot-

On that note, u might enjoy an old Alan Arkin film called "The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming!"

Walter Lippmann once wrote, "Our imperialism is largely unconscious." Or as I wrote in QOV, we badly need an enemy in order to function, and it doesn't really matter who. Meanwhile, the avg American citizen is living at the bottom of an aquarium, so to speak: glub glub, completely out of it. And the warmakers are little more than marionettes on strings, being manipulated by the unconscious programs I describe in that bk. Just take 3 steps back, and what u.r. watching is a huge, irrational joke. Nor will any light be shed on this, of the sort that can actually make a difference. Life is really a game, in the US; the problem is that it's a *bad* game: stupid, transparent, and low-class.

mb

7:07 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: This is kinda nice:

http://www.commondreams.org/views/2015/02/09/new-evidence-half-america-broke

Meanwhile, we're up to 158 registered Wafers. I gush, I drool.

mb

7:40 PM  
Blogger Alogon said...

>the bomb got dropped on Hiroshima was to 'get a leg up on the russkies' in the postwar era;

My understanding is more specific: Naturally, our good ally Uncle Joe was officiously itching, and preparing, to "help" us conquer Japan. He could then demand a piece of it afterwords, as in Germany's case. We could not refuse his offer. The only way we could prevent this outcome was to end the war on our own ASAP.

Despite the lamentable slaughter that resulted, I daresay that Japan benefited in the long run. The country recovered rapidly enough to begin challenging American economic hegemony within twenty years. By contrast, some parts of eastern Germany are dilapidated to this day.

Is this correct? I will gladly defer to your historical knowledge.

8:06 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Al-

Threatening the Russians was only 1 strand in a complex set of reasons for the bomb, but quite honestly, I can't get into that here, since it wd mean reproducing an entire chapter of my Japan bk. Maybe when it comes out u can have a look, see what u think. Meanwhile, it's still mired in crap w/the printer, while I contemplate seppuku.

mb

8:25 PM  
OpenID vwclown said...

Hi Wafers and Dr. Berman--

Sometimes pictures are all you need:

http://www.businessinsider.com/school-lunches-in-the-us-compared-to-other-countries-2015-2?op=1

8:29 PM  
Anonymous Ballgazer said...

Berman,

Which one of your books talks about Market Fundamentalism? Thanks bro.

8:43 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Ball-

Pls don't call me Berman. Let me suggest 2 possibilities 4u:

1. Great Sage of the Western World (GSWW)

2. Mr. Berman

Either one will do nicely.

As for mkt fundamentalism...I suppose WAF comes closest to that discussion. Thank u4 asking.

Fruit Woman!

I was worried we had lost u. Meanwhile, what the hell is popcorn chicken? I'd eat any of those other lunches b4 I'd opt for the American one. Spain, Italy, Brazil--all look terrific. We look boring; and of course, we are.

mb

8:58 PM  
Anonymous Hugh Melioration said...

Dr. Berman,

Ahh yes, the Arkin cold war send-up film!
May I also suggest (if you can find a copy of it)
" The Coming War With Russia-Where? When? Why?"
-A twisted piece of fundamentalist christian cold-war
fear rant by Dr. Jack Van Impe, who later became a
televangelist along witth wife "Rexella". I've got the original. vinyl version, but it might be up on youtube, don't know... But this shit's been goin' on forever.

HM


10:35 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

HM-

I enjoyed Arkin's imitation of a Russian spkg bad English, tho he was not as gd as Peter Sellers in The Party (as Hrundi V. Bakshi).
The Impe thing sounds like the foreign policy version of Reefer Madness. I keep wondering exactly when the country turned into a vast collection of douche bags.

mb

11:31 PM  
Blogger Marc L Bernstein said...

My agreement with Ron Paul does not extend beyond his basically isolationist foreign policy and his presumably libertarian attitude towards drugs, gambling and prostitution. It just so happens that his isolationist attitude tends to make sense compared to current policy in Washington. That's why I mentioned that Ron Paul is an odd ally in the context of opposing bellicosity towards Russia in general and the activities of the USA in the Ukraine in particular.

Dmitry Orlov is a very creative independent thinker, part of the "peak oil group" along with coming up with his own ideas about the collapse of societies. He's also an engineer and has his own ideas about linguistics. Nevertheless, it is quite evident that although he has been living in the USA since the late 1970s , he retains a measure of partisanship with regard to Russia. He never bad-mouths Putin for example, and within Orlov's writings I cannot remember seeing any mention of the oligarchic nature of Russia's political economy. So I take his words with a grain of salt. It's a matter of emphasis. The official narrative in the USA is a bunch of lies, and he's doing his best to offer an alternative.

This is why I read articles by so many scientists, journalists, scholars and intellectuals . Very few are perfect. The more statements a person makes, the higher the likelihood that he will be wrong in at least one of them.

In any case, I think that Morris Berman's assessment is fairly balanced, and his 52 to 48 percentage is reasonable. For sure there is no good reason why the USA should have been meddling in the Ukraine in the 1st place, and as Chomsky and Paul Craig Roberts have said, it is reckless and dangerous.

3:56 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Marc-

I've said this b4, but the historical record is that when an empire dies, it becomes heavily irrational, and just lashes out at any target that presents itself (or that it invents). It does precisely those things that aggravate its condition and accelerate the decline. Altho I didn't deal w/foreign policy in the Twilight bk, e.g., I listed 4 internal factors that we needed to reverse pronto if we were to save ourselves. If one reads that bk 15 yrs later, it comes across as a documentation of American foolishness, because in every case we did precisely what we needed to avoid. This is of course no less true of US foreign policy.

The best Obama cd come up with in terms of a foreign policy has been, "Don't do stupid things." Which is completely laughable, and yet, we can't even seem to do *that*. America is little more than a 3-yr-old w/a bazooka in its hand, waving it around. Wm Lederer, author of "The Ugly American" (1958) was asked (on NPR) a few yrs ago if he thought the country had learned anything from his cautionary tale, and he replied, "Not a thing." In particular, we have no knowledge of the history/culture of the peoples we deal with (i.e., destroy), beyond a set of cliches, and what's worse, we don't *want* to know anything about them. Whether it's in postwar Japan or contemporary Iraq, our foreign policy boils down to "Let them be like us, then everything will be fine." This might be called the Meathead School of American foreign policy.

But why the lashing out at the end, the courting of disaster? Because on some level, the empire knows it's over, and it's in denial abt this. In fact, it is quite terrified of this. It thus is in the grip of an illusion, that if it struts its stuff on the world stage, huffs and puffs, it can fool itself and everyone else that it is still the giant it once was; which makes it doubly dangerous. Feet of clay, amigos; feet of clay.

mb

4:29 AM  
Blogger Sarasvati said...

Alogon makes a perfect point: the tremendous loss of life and destruction at Hiroshima and Nagasaki might be considered a boon because 20 years afterwards Japan was able to challenge American economic hegemony: “Despite the lamentable slaughter that resulted, I daresay that Japan benefited in the long run.” How pathetic that this sort of thinking doesn’t make us cringe. There’s no question that humanity is clinically insane.

Ukraine: We are awash in a sea of truths, partial truths, spin and outright lies, and I automatically assume that whatever we’re told by the MSM is a lie until proven otherwise. A lot of effort has to be expended to tease out the facts, but even so we can actually be sure of nothing. However, this doesn’t mean we can’t make educated assumptions. Always follow the money, look into who benefits, and really doubt the official story if significant parts don’t make sense. There’s no question that we’re busy causing as much disruption in Ukraine as possible. Bear-baiting is a dangerous game.

7:12 AM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

[M L Bernstein]

"..., it is reckless and dangerous."

Since there seems to be a longing in certain quarters for a return to the days of the Cold War, I take Mr. Bernstein's comment as an impetus to recommend a film from 1965 that highlights the dangers inherent in macho posturing and the ease with which demonstrations of power can quickly lead to fatal mistakes.

The movie in question is The Bedford Incident. Destroyer captain Richard Widmark shadows a Soviet submarine across the North Atlantic as military correspondent Sidney Poitier, invited aboard to observe antisubmarine warfare operations, becomes horrified as he sees Widmark adopt an increasingly more aggressive posture toward his Soviet "target."

Supporting actors include James MacArthur as Ensign (and gunnery officer) Ralston and Wally Cox as Seaman/sonarman Merlin Queffle.

9:20 AM  
Anonymous Hugh Melioration said...

MB -

Sellers finest moment! And ultimately a very sweet film
about sincerity thwarting a bunch of clueless, hustling phonies...and the Mancini soundtrack is fantastic too!

HM

9:32 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

HM-

Thanks, but pls post only once every 24 hrs max. Kind of an informal rule here.

mb

12:44 PM  
Anonymous fries4fingers said...

Berman,

I think you're exactly right about America. This country is fucked. Thanks for writing these great books, man.

12:59 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

fries-

"Humped six ways from Sunday" might be a more elegant way of putting it, but let's not quibble. However, I hafta ask u not to call me Berman. Let me give you a couple of options:

1. Greatest Thinker in the History of the World (GTHW)

2. Mr. Berman

Either one is fine, thanks.

mb

1:23 PM  
Anonymous lack of coherence said...

Sam -

> Nowhere does he say that there are 'no Russians in Ukraine.' On the contrary, he suggests, as would any serious historian, that eastern Ukraine is home to many ethnic Russians.

Funny, he's making the *exact* comment on his blog today. I of course meant Russian solders, not ethnic Russians.

Orlov then continues in his latest blog post with the following:

- claiming 9/11 was an inside job

- claiming Charlie Hebdo was an inside job

- claiming Boston marathon bombing was an inside job

- claiming that Ukrainians shot down the plane, not Russia

I don't think he deserves a response. I recommend that other people avoid his thinking - it will take you down a rabbit hole full of BS.

Calling him "a witty and engaging writer" or "creative independent thinker" doesn't mean much to me. Someone can be witty and creative, and totally full of shit (which I believe Orlov is). I think a lot of conspiracy writers get large audiences because they're very entertaining and engaging.

4:40 PM  
Anonymous J S RANK said...

GTHW/MB - I was going to bring up re: half-america-broke, but u already got to it @ 7:40. Paul Bucheit ?
Thing is, it's worse than what the article suggests, as many that think they are not broke are technically 'under water' with debt and are peonage slaves. Many others that think that they have wealth base it on some form of stock ownership which is as ephemeral as the next crash or disaster.

As to ur reply to pot @7:07 ...the dynamic for control of the masses by the oligarchs is the use of the 'common enemies' ploy. The CE's are whatever boogiemen the rulers decide: Nazi's, communists, immigrants, different races/religions, gays, etc. Some kind of present threat, no matter how real or remote.
Indeed, it is a game, but it's a bad carny game where the suckers still play it, even when they suspect it is rigged.

Perhaps a way to maintain sanity in this HSWFS existence is to realize that everything is a farce.
Kurosawa's "Ran" a black comedy ?

4:51 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

lack-

Besides, why read any other blog, when there's this one? It's all here: politics, sex, Kim's rump, movie recs, the works--a one-stop shop. When folks tell me they read other blogs, I just feel sorry for them. ps: we are now up2 159 registered Wafers.

Jeff-

Next time u go2 W.H., bring a 6-pack of Bud Lite. Meanwhile, I wasn't able to run yr post: too long. Abt 1/2 that length wd be perfect. Pls resend in 2 cute little bundles, thanks.

mb

5:24 PM  
Anonymous COS said...

Lack,

So its safe to assume you don't like Orlov? He is a great writer, very popular and witty and so many of us like him and enjoy his work. His essay today was thought provoking and brilliantly written--almost as good as Belman el Magnifico! You say he is full of B.S.--how about them weapons of mass destruction and the B.S. the nyt puts out and the white house puts out. He makes a great point--when did government and mass media stop lying? Who pray tell are the truth tellers you approve of? Brian Williams? The U.S. Department of State? Orlov is in his latest essay noting the importance of a bit of skepticism. What is the matter with that? Who is your source of reality? By the way--the Russians did not shoot down the plane--the Ukrainians did and that's per Spiegel and El Pais--you can of course rely on NBC or NPR for truth on the matter. Orlov makes a point which is subtle and seems to have eluded you--yes there are Russians in east Ukraine who are soldiers. That is not the same as in Russian soldiers taking orders from Russian army. Next you will be telling us there are no U.s. "contractors" in the west and that John Kerry has a brilliant and honest perspective on the matter. Orlov Rocks and his unspell work is a brilliant breakthrough for literacy education....and he is a true NMI. Love his work and like the guy, I encourage all wafers to read his blog and buy his books--his five stages of collapse marries up nicely with Dr. Bermans work actually.

5:56 PM  
Anonymous JWO said...

Yet more on Ukraine (I however have little to say on the matter):

http://www.commondreams.org/views/2015/02/10/wretched-us-journalism-ukraine

6:08 PM  
Anonymous kilo_mega_giga said...

Re: COS

Something isn't subtle when it's just wrong. There are Russian soldiers, sent by Putin, in Ukraine. This is a fact. There are definitely subtle points to what's going on, but this isn't one of them.

I don't think you have to either believe the U.S. government or accept all these conspiracies people throw around. Putin is corrupt, but our government is full of idiots and thieves also. This doesn't mean then that the U.S. government lies about everything (9/11, Boston bombings, etc). Despite what we did in Iraq, this doesn't mean 9/11 was an inside job.

I read his five stages of collapse book, and he makes a load of bizarre predictions. Other than for entertainment purposes, there's no point in discussing how collapse will play out specifically, which is all that Orlov does. I believe this is the guy with the sailboat who is ready to leave Boston when shit hits the fan?

Sorry, but I put Orlov in the camp with other cranks, conspiracy theorists, and people who like to make predictions. I think it's sad people are sucked into the writings of people like Orlov. We have enough problems in the world to then be creating imaginary ones.

7:00 PM  
Blogger Sam Holloway said...

Daily greet, GSWW and Wafers.

"There are Russian soldiers, sent by Putin, in Ukraine. This is a fact."

kilo_mega_giga, I'd love to see your evidence. To date, I've seen no proof of regular Russian forces in the Donbass or in any territory that is still realistically claimed by the coup government in Kiev. Even the U.S. has given up on making the assertion. Besides, I doubt the Russians would bother with cloak and dagger if they felt directly threatened by the half-baked neo-Nazi and conscript militia currently taking a beating on behalf of the Pentagon and the State Dept.

Anyway, it looks like the next rash move belongs to the U.S. (surprise!). For those of us averse to WWIII, the EU leaders look like they might be doing us a favor by flinching at the notion of sending more and bigger weapons to the proud ideological heirs of Stepan Bandera. I'm no fan of Putin, but he didn't spend $5 billion and several decades ginning up this fight. Perhaps the EU honchos will have the sense to dial it down. Goodness knows they'll have enough trouble dealing with Greece.

8:37 PM  
Anonymous Fred R said...

Kilo,

A lot of reputable people throughout history have liked making predictions. Much of the scientific method, medical practice and even physics are about making predictions.

Orlov's work is based on the extrapolation of his and his families experiences during the collapse of the soviet union to the united states--and evidence of collapse is well visible in the U.S.

A lot of people have even I dare say referred to the host of this site as a crank or an america hater etc... This sort of thing is surprising. It is indeed a high art you must practice--yes the government of the U.S. lies but not about certain things. How does one know this? Faith?

Indeed Putin may be corrupt and boil live kittens. Interestingly, Russian friends and international newspapers note that he has galvanized the russian people and has amazing approval ratings--see the Atlantic December 16, 2014 and The Hill December 29 2014. Indeed, perhaps the U.S. can use a corrupt thug who the defense department informs us has Aspergers.

The question for people who call Professor Berman a crank, dear old me Fred (a reactionary), Chomsky a commie, Ron Paul a kook is on what basis do you dismiss ideas in a world of official lies and propaganda? How do you evaluate truth? Big hint--it may be in the Work of Karl Popper..

8:41 PM  
Anonymous smelly said...

Lack of Coherence,
i don't know if those claims that Orlov makes are true or not. But have you ever heard of Operation Gladio? There's a BBC documentary, made in 1991 about Gladio. You can watch it on Youtube. Gladio was covert US/NATO sponsored terror operations against civilians throughout Europe. The crimes were perpetrated by right-wing extremists, then blamed on socialists in order to consolidate power on the right, and to scale back civil liberties, etc. So Orlov's claims are not outside the realm of possibility. I would agree that there's a lack of evidence for what he says, but it is not insane to inquire into the possibility, given the existence of Gladio.

Dr Berman,
What do you think of Julius Evola?

9:28 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

kilo, Sam, et al.-

Well, as far as cranks go, there are gd ones and bad ones, in my opinion. Crankage, in and of itself, is not nec. a bad thing. Unsurprisingly, I regard myself as one of the gd ones, but my enemies thing differently, naturally enuf. It's OK; time will tell who was nuts and who was on target, and Fred is rt to cite Karl Popper in this regard.

As for Evola: a bad crank, at least to me. Crypto-fascist, dark side of certain Gnostic spiritual traditions, etc. People like him give me the creeps. Check out ch. 8 of CTOS, and also the work of Eric Voegelin.

mb

9:52 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Hello Wafers!

MB-

Many thanks for the repost. I'll do part I tonight and part II tomorrow.

MB, Wafers-

I'm back a day early from my foray at the State Dept. It saddens me to report that I made absolutely no headway w/McCain and Graham regarding my proposal to arm Ukraine w/ketchup shooters and diced onion grenades. They accused me of being a WIMP, Wafers; and silly for my refusal to stand up for America. I then decided to go and see lil' O and big Joe. Upon arrival at the White House, I was briefed that the president and veep were busy watching the film "The Hunt for Red October" w/Sean Connery, Baldwin, and Bradley Cooper, the American Sniper, in attendance; a sorta *Blast to the Past* Monday, I suppose. I advanced my position to Obama and he replied, "Drop...Dead, Turkey!" I said, whaddabout pastrami bombs and chopped liver nukes? Kishka drones? Sides of kasha varnishka? "Nothin' doing," barked Joe, "Putin and the russkies are immoral, that's the fuckin' point, kid!" I thought about unzipping, but was suddenly hit w/stage fright. I was told to hit the road and head back to LA.

MB, pot, HM-

Remember Claudine Longet in "The Party"? She gave me a deep case of puppy wuv, I'm afraid...

MB, marc, pot, Wafers-

Do Americans have an unconscious desire to die? I believe a strong case can be made that American civilization has a *massive* death instinct, in the Freudian sense. Two cases in point:

1. This who-blinks-first brinkmanship w/Putin over Ukraine.

2. My recent emotional breakdown watching the terrible carnage of "American Sniper" at the local cineplex.

*Stay tuned, much more on both of these points tomorrow...

toddles,

Miles

10:15 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jeff-

I think it's in the Seinfeld episode, "The Fatigues," that Jerry says that Israeli soldiers carry kishka with them in case they are captured behind enemy lines. Then they just eat the stuff and die of indigestion.

mb

3:11 AM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

Amidst all this talk of Ukraine, we've been overlooking Obama's latest foreign policy disaster in Yemen--in which the U.S. has now been forced to close its embassy and flee with its tail between its legs. You would think we'd have learned by now that bombing another country indiscriminately, even in support of that country's government, can rapidly destabilize the very regime we are trying to support.

Heck of a job, Barry.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/02/10/us-yemen-security-usa-idUSKBN0LE25720150210

3:13 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Bill-

The bottom line is that America *has* no coherent foreign policy, beyond "When in doubt, drop bombs." The working title for DAA was "Colossus Adrift," and it still applies. We are now a nation w/o a moral compass, both at home and abroad, and so our responses to literally everything are ad hoc. We limp along in a poorly executed state of crisis management, having no idea what we are doing or why we are doing it. People keep writing me asking when the collapse is going to take place, and I tell them: "Just look around." This is classic slo-mo disintegration, the proverbial death of 1000 cuts.

mb

4:07 AM  
Anonymous Troutbum said...

Dr. MB and all WAfers worldwide,

The Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Ala., released a report on the history of lynchings in the United States, the result of five years of research and 160 visits to sites around the South. The authors of the report compiled an inventory of 3,959 victims of “racial terror lynchings” in 12 Southern states from 1877 to 1950.
You can see the report here : http://www.eji.org/files/EJI%20Lynching%20in%20America%20SUMMARY.pdf

5:20 AM  
Anonymous Hugh Melioration said...

MB, pot, MD,

C. Longet! I have several of her lps. Listen in small doses only...
And the visiting Russian song and dance troupe at "The Party" really livened things up!

JA,

I forgot about " The Bedford Incident", another good one of the time.

D.C. is knee-deep in raging torrents of Wafer urine...
Wait, it was only a dream! Maybe a drone strike with urine filled balloons from above!?

O&D,

HM

10:04 AM  
Anonymous Pilgrim said...

Maxima vs. optima (yet again)
 
I finished Nicholas Carr's The Glass Cage: Automation and Us last week. To me the heart and soul of the book is Carr's plea that - before we further apply technology to our work environments - we look inside ourselves and ask what it is that we ultimately want from life. "What is human being?" he asks. Is it acquisition that gives us fulfillment, or is it the creative-yet-sometimes-frustrating engagement with the world . Our technology then needs to compliment this ultimate goal.

As it now stands the field of automation is in the hands of the "data fundamentalists", who seek to sideline the human component and eventually eliminate it. Currently automation "is tied to the profit motive; consequently, it has little appreciation of the human." Learning, mastery, fulfillment, joy are not priorities.

Here is another application of optima vs. maxima. Will we design technology that caters to the maximum of the few at the expense of the optimum of the many? Will we demand a working environment that fosters growth (and accept the struggle that that growth demands) , or will we take the route of ease, comfort and eventual enfeeblement?

HuffPost has a good article on the book, and here's some author interviews: RadioWest, C-Span, and YouTube.

10:16 AM  
Anonymous Dawgzy said...

Off topic but, http://www.al.com/news/index.ssf/2015/02/indian_citizen_stopped_by_madi.html
You're a tenant farmer in India, you"re very poor. What could make matters much worse? I know- a visit to a safe suburb in the land of opportunity! (with a side of southern fried)

2:34 PM  
Anonymous lack of coherence said...

Today is the first request for use of military force since 2002:

"Obama asks Congress to authorize U.S. war on Islamic State"

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/02/11/us-mideast-crisis-congress-authorization-idUSKBN0LF1KP20150211

2:45 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Hola MB and Wafers. Here's part II, continued from above...

1. This who-blinks-first brinkmanship over Ukraine: Jesus, this shit's dangerous, no? Americans have gone to war for less (even outright fabrications), of course, but is it worth the risk now? How *far* are these knuckleheads willing to push their case against Putin? It doesn't take a genius to figure out that Putin holds many strategic cards in this situation. He's got cause, i.e., cornered by the west into responding in Ukraine; he has formidable monetary resources (over 350 billion in currency reserves); a reformed and quite capable Russian military; he's got a large Russian speaking minority in Ukraine genuinely sympathetic to Moscow, and more. Putin, in a word, has escalation dominance: any move the west makes, he can escalate even further. He can do all sorts of things: increase the pressure inside and outside of Ukraine. Not saying he will, but he could put pressure on Baltic countries, which would be a *severe* challenge to the western alliance. Russia has influence in Syria, Iran, North Korea, and elsewhere. How far will/could this go? It's as if Obama has failed to grasp that the Americans have stumbled into and caused one disaster after another for the last 45 years. Anyway, food for thought, yes?

2. "American Sniper" film: I watched the film on Sunday. In one sense, it's a chick-flick: Kyle's wife and family are central to the story; particularly their attempt to rehabilitate the damaged Kyle and come to terms w/his PTSD. Clearly, this was Eastwood's attempt to appeal to the many American women out there who are trying to deal w/their damaged husbands in one form or another. In another sense, one could interpret this film as a complete indictment of the Iraq War; just how Bush/Cheney ruined the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans, squandered trillions of dollars, and systematically murdered countless numbers of Iraqis. And for what? Our ego? Our negative identity, as MB points out. Jesus, I tell you guys, I broke down and wept over the violence depicted in this film. It shows the helplessness and suffering of the Iraqi people, the thuggish and pathetic Americans pursuing their destructive death instinct w/out realizing that it was gonna follow them home. I was so disgusted about how *easy* it was to take gullible and uncritical Americans to the cleaners on this war... Realizing, in the end, that all they had to do was read MB's Twilight and DAA books and get a clue.

Well, it's all too late. Thanks for listening...

Miles

2:52 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Well, just to switch tracks for a moment, here's a wonderfully stupid film: "The Interview," with Seth Rogen. An impt subtheme is that there can be no peace in the world until Kim Jung Un deals with his haircut--something I've been saying for yrs.

mn

10:58 PM  
Blogger Manol said...

Hi Morris,
I'm writing from Chile and I am a big fan of your blog. I'm interested in America's decline because my personal theory is that Chile is so small that it's just like some paper boat on the oceans of history. I mean, we were conquered by the Spanish conquistadors, "liberated" by Napoleon's personal revolution, and recolonized by the British and American empire, roughly in that order. And, as you very well know, the attempt to be “re-liberated” by the USSR ended in the most stupendous disaster.

Nowadays, besides reading your blog and comments, I also listen to Richard D. Wolff's podcast “Economic Update” (http://www.rdwolff.com). He is a Marxist economist who supported the "Occupy Wall Street" movement. Sometimes his podcasts are on the pessimistic side, which is strange in a Marxist economist, since Marxism has a rather optimistic view of mankind.

I've been a reader for years of Howard Kunstler's blog and enjoyed pretty much your interview on his podcast.

I'm also currently reading Lionel Shriver's novel So Much For That following your suggestions.

I'm writing to tell you that some 5 years ago I read this curious book by Stephen Kotkin's Armageddon Averted: The Soviet Collapse, 1970-2000. The title speaks for itself, a very interesting and fun book I read in 2 days. It reminded me of a time in which every day something new was happening on the USSR as it was collapsing. But then the book on its ending chapter (spoiler ahead) had a very interesting prophecy: America rather sooner than later would start crumbling just like the USSR did, because the historic forces were similar for both empires, or something like that. I think it’s a good reading recommendation for wafers. Then yesterday, while browsing around I found this article: http://www.cringely.com/2014/06/15/ibm-back-ussr/ which brought up some Deja vu feeling in a literary sense. Since I don't know of anybody who cares about these personal serendipities, I decided to write to you this comment.

Hugs.
Manuel,
A Chilean WAFER.

1:56 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Hola Manuel!

y gracias por escribir. There is also a major Wafer in Temuco, who keeps threatening to invite me down again. Perhaps you guys should get in touch. (If he writes in, I'll let u know.)

Rick Wolff is a friend, or at least acquaintance, of mine. Yes, he's a Marxist, but he's too smart to believe the US is going anywhere positive; hence the conflict.

Anyway, glad you enjoy the blog, and we look forward to hearing from you again.

-mb

4:25 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Gee whatta shock dept.:

http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/how-facebook-makes-us-unhappy

10:34 AM  
Anonymous Michael said...

No fooling...

http://anonhq.com/us-military-lost-400-million-worth-weapons-yemen/

11:44 AM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings all,

MB, Bill, et al.-

re: Obama's Islamic State war request

Jus' heard J. Mearsheimer on the radio. He made reference to Obama as: the man w/the Midas touch in reverse. Ain't dat da bomb diggity! Obama has screwed up in:
Afghanistan
Iraq
Libya
Syria
Yemen
Ukraine (TBD)

Incidentally, Wafers, have a look at this:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/04/18/us-ukraine-putin-diplomacy-special-repor-idUSBREA3H0OQ20140418

Miles

1:37 PM  
Anonymous JWO said...

A good one over at the Druid this week:

http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2015/02/the-butlerian-carnival.html

"One feature of times like these is that the number of people who can have an influence on the immediate outcome declines steadily as crisis approaches."

and

"For well over two centuries now, since it first emerged as the crackpot belief system of a handful of intellectuals on the outer fringes of their culture, the modern ideology of progress has taken it as given that new things were by definition better than whatever they replaced. That assumption stands at the heart of contemporary industrial civilization’s childlike trust in the irreversible cumulative march of progress toward a future among the stars. Finding ways to defend that belief even when it obviously wasn’t true—when the latest, shiniest products of progress turned out to be worse in every meaningful sense than the older products they elbowed out of the way—was among the great growth industries of the 20th century"

4:13 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jeff-

Everything the guy touched turned to shit domestically, as well. The truth is that like Bush Jr., he's a nonentity, nothing more than the proverbial man (ie American) in the street. Any Joe Blow walking down the streets of Peoria cd have done as bad a job as either of those clowns. And how did Obama and Bush get elected? Oh yeah, 318 million nonentities in the street...Only Wafers working as SWAT teams, armed w/crowbars and buckets of K-Y jelly, can save us. Probably not gonna happen.

mb

4:18 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Shd we call it "nut-gate"? I really love this, for some reason:

http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/12/world/asia/korean-air-nut-rage-verdict/index.html

4:32 PM  
Anonymous SW said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

Looks like we're approaching Suez at a more rapid clip as fewer and fewer nations want to be lead by the nose into the next disaster. From Counterpunch:

"The striking absence of a US representative at the confab, when US Secretary of State John Kerry was less than an hour away in nearby Kiev, suggests that there may be a split between leaders in the EU and Washington on their approach to the crisis in Ukraine. While US politicians and diplomats are nearly unanimous in their support for providing so called “defensive” weapons to Ukraine, leaders in Europe oppose the idea. Merkel has been particularly outspoken on the topic, saying on Monday:

“I am firmly convinced this conflict cannot be solved with military means. I cannot imagine any situation in which improved equipment for the Ukrainian army leads to President Putin being so impressed that he believes he will lose militarily. I have to put it that bluntly.”

First, no one wanted to help us bomb Syria, our diplomats in Yemen have grabbed the first flight out and now Europe for some strange reason doesn't want to go to war with Russia! Why ever not?!

Here's the whole article:

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/02/11/will-the-german-chancellor-bring-peace-to-ukraine/

@kilo:

I don't read Orlov's blog or have read any of his books but it wouldn't surprise me if this was a false flag event. It seems very strange to me the way the two brothers were found was one had left their DL in the stolen car. Terrorists bring along their DLs? Really? I certainly don't know.

6:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your writing has truly transformed my way of thinking, and my perception of this 'American' world around me.

Thank you. I will continue to follow, and to recommend your work.

7:39 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Anon-

That's great, thanks. But be advised that I can't run yr posts in the future if u continue to check in as Anon. I just don't post Anons. Idea: pick a real handle, and continue to contribute.

mb

8:27 PM  
Anonymous Rusty Snag said...

Dr. Berman and Wafers,

I have not posted here or even had a chance to read the blog recently until today. My friend and I drove an old Chevy Astro from upstate New York to the state of Nayarit in Mexico. My friend is spending the rest of the winter here, and I came along to help drive. I also came to liberate myself from douchebaggery for a couple of short weeks. it rained in Nayarit today so I caught up on email and of course turned to DAA to catch up on the news. My God this Ukraine thing has gotten senseless but to avoid depression I am going to ignore it until I return to Los Estados Unidos. Nayarit is overrun with gringos, myself included. However, with a tiny bit of effort you can avoid the douchebags and limit interactions to Mexicans, who are almost invariably kind and gracious. I have much more to say about Mexico, but I think Dr. Berman summed everything up quite nicely: in America everyone bothers you. In Mexico everyone leaves you alone. How incredibly refreshing.

8:28 PM  
Anonymous COS said...

Miles,

Your turn about is remarkable and noted...

This is instructive for it compares and shows the coverage of the front lines from a paper in Kiev and the U.S. reporting. You will notice that as usual U.S. reporting tends to be abstract and key details and color are always left out. The Ukrainian coverage is very realistic and literary.

http://www.peakprosperity.com/blog/91774/us-suicidal-strategy-ukraine

How anyone still at this late stage and very dangerous time is focusing on Putin's "thuggishness: rather than the danger the insanity and utter stupidity of the Obama administration is beyond my comprehension.

On a chilling note, the FEC and FCC are trying out ways to censor independent media and websites/blogs under some version of the fairness doctrine of political speech. Alas, the door shuts and in 5 years time there will be no place for the Wafers or the remnant of non morons. We will have to be happy with Cokie Roberts and brian williams.....and other government spokestwits.

What collapse some say? Hell its ongoing--if the election and subsequent "governance" of Obama and his gang is not a sign of cirleing the toilet I don;t know what is. Some will not be convinced until people are killing each other over boxes of twinkies. Then again, americans are not a perceptive lot. Its over.

8:37 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

COS-

They are already killing each other over new tennis shoes and DVD players at Wal-Mart sales, so Twinkies probably aren't that much of a stretch. Then when the EMT arrives, they refuse to get outta the way. If they didn't have shopping, and they didn't have an 'enemy', they'd evaporate overnight. This is a kind of voluntary *1984*.

Rusty-

Yeah, a lotta tourists in Nayarit, that's fer sure. Another diff between Americans (i.e., estadounidenses) and Mexicans, which can easily be observed in places like Nayarit: when u.r. talking to Mexicans, u.r. talking to actual human beings. When yr talking to Americans, yr talking to jokes dressed up as human beings.

mb

10:00 PM  
Anonymous J S RANK said...

GTHW/MB ...other WAFers...

I've been asking this question for years; posed by Steinbeck in "Lifeboat" about what to do with the Nazi's ( official sociopaths ) and other sociopaths in our midst ?

It really is not a moral dilemma.

Godwin is a false paradigm. It precludes and eliminates the extreme that should awake and empower all civilized.

The question among moralists...who would NOT kill a homicidal maniac like Hitler if they had the chance ?
Why not ?

America is a land of the stupid and homicidal sociopaths that are intent on murder and eventual suicide.

We can either step out of the way, or we can accelerate the process.

11:04 PM  
Anonymous SeanKerrigan.com said...

I'm going to have to disagree with those who've criticized Dimitri Orlov's latest book, The Five Stages of Collapse. He basically makes few specific predictions on what will happen, but rather explains what might happen given past trends, magnified to a global level. Collapse is a given, so if you accept that as I do, the rest is easier to digest. As the book continues past the halfway point, it gets really interesting, because its less and less about collapse, and much more about how societies really function.

He discusses the role that commerce plays in a society vs a gift or trade based one. I had not really thought of commerce as a corrupting force before. Later, using the Roma and the Russians as case studies, he shows various ways in which groups have effectively resisted centralization (which of course, is more fragile and functions poorly during collapse). Finally, he concludes with the Ik, a society which has basically become hyper-individualized due to the extreme requirements for survival. Civilization effectively created a situation for the Ik where love was impossible.

Anyway, I found it to be super insightful, but maybe I'm not as well read overall. People who have been reading his blog for years might not get as much out of it, but I recommend it.

3:25 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Somebody just sent me this:

http://www.tricycle.com/special-section/witness

5:52 AM  
Anonymous lack of coherence said...

Sean -

Orlov's writings are popular because of the sensationalism and wild predictions, not insight. He talks about a 2 week fast collapse of Boston (while of course he'll escape in a sailboat...), future groups of scrappers tearing about suburbia and doing black market medicine, and he's given specific predictions about collapse due to high oil prices (his predictions have already been wrong). If this were fiction, great, but he's selling this as non-fiction, and I think the guy is about 95% full of shit.

Re: Kingsnorth

> For the earth itself, the Holocene Extinction is not a crisis—it is just another shift. Who determined that the planet should remain in the state in which humans find it conducive?

This "just another shift" attitude as Robert Jensen says, is sociopathic. This isn't just another shift, this was a very big effort on our part to trash nature.

Kingsnorth has gone from optimistic progressive to sociopathic, and I think that's sad. Another bad crank in my mind.

7:31 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

lack-

Well, a provocative essay nonetheless, and worth discussing here, I think, since it's quite relevant to end of empire. Of course, the End Days, wh/we are lvg thru, are going to throw up lots of cranks, both gd and bad, along w/lots of food for thought. As far as the environmental question goes, I greatly admired the issues raised by a film called "The East," and whether ecoterrorism has become some sort of social responsibility. But in the end, I'm convinced that we simply have to 'get thru' this final phase of America, and of capitalism. I've said it b4: we won't change out of virtue, but out of necessity. A no-growth, homeostatic economy will only become an attractive option when the current system of extraction-exploitation-expansion hits a brick wall, has no place to go. The env. movement has had a tendency to speed things up, say that this day is just around the corner; which to many has become boring, a form of crying wolf. Myself, I suspect 30 or 40 yrs is more likely. But the day can't be put off forever, that's for sure. So you have folks like Orlov, Kunstler et al. speculating on what that future might look like. Most likely it will be very different from anything we can imagine, but it can't hurt to think abt it, at this pt.

In terms of concrete action, however, here's what seems optimal, at least imo:

1. If yr an American, get out as soon as you can. If you can't get out, the New Monastic Option is really yr only choice.

2. If yr European, or Latin American: follow the slide toward Dual Process, of creating alternative structures to replace the ones that are currently disintegrating.

3. Stay in touch w/this blog; it's the only one you'll ever need.

mb

8:01 AM  
Anonymous smelly said...

Prediction: Now that Germany and France have said "enough, no more arms," the US will ignore them and then proceed to arm Ukraine anyways.

Am I right, Dr. Berman?

The basic formula I used for this prediction was this: What's the dumbest possible thing the US could do? Ok, that's what they'll do.

8:02 AM  
Blogger David Bolas said...

Dr. Berman, Wafers-

Count me in with those anxiously awaiting the book on Japan. I've always admired Japanese culture and its apparent struggle between an American styled modernity vs traditionalism. Somehow, even in its neuroses, it seems cutting edge, almost avant-garde in confronting some of the troubles of the human condition in the modern world. Along those lines and on a more comic note, consider:

www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/japan/11405651/Japanese-revolutionaries-plot-to-crush-St-valentines-Day.html

The "Romantic Industrial Complex", and "Chocolate Capitalism" are two of my favorite new terms!

8:41 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

smelly-

As a shorthand rule of thumb, that's probably the most reliable, esp when 'dumbest' coincides with 'most destructive'. The US simply doesn't *know* how to do what's intelligent; it doesn't have that capacity.

mb

9:06 AM  
Anonymous Pilgrim said...

Just a few more thoughts on Nicholas Carr's The Glass Cage

Many very smart people in the 19th century fervently believed that the machine would free humankind from labor and usher in a new age of enlightened self-actualization. We know how that turned out. That belief is now making a comeback among automation enthusiasts, but Carr quotes Hannah Arendt to show how shallow this notion really is…

"In a prescient passage of The Human Condition, Hannah Arendt observed that if automation's utopian promise were actually to pan out, the result would probably feel less like paradise than like a cruel practical joke. The whole of modern society, she wrote, has been organized as a 'a laboring society,' where working for pay, and then spending that pay, is the way people define themselves and measure their worth. Most of the 'higher and more meaningful activities' revered in the distant past have been pushed to the margin or forgotten, and 'only solitary individuals are left who consider what they are doing in terms of work and not in terms of making a living.' For technology to fulfill humankind's abiding 'wish to be liberated from labor's 'toil and trouble'' at this point would be perverse. It would cast us deeper into a purgatory of malaise. What automation confronts us with, Arendt concluded, 'is the prospect of a society of laborers without labor, that is, without the only activity left to them. Surely, nothing could be worse.'"

On the next page Carr says the following...

"We may have to shift our view of progress, putting the emphasis on social and personal flourishing rather than technological advancement."

Absolutely! This reminds me of Juliet Schor's advice in Plenitude: The New Economics of True Wealth that we opt for "social capital" instead of "economic capital" (see also C-Span). But that would be an alternative tradition; we'll have none of that.

11:12 AM  
Anonymous COS said...

Sean,

Nice note. I and many others agree on your assessment of Orlov's work. Though you and thousands of others find Orlovs work brilliant, some like lack seem to have some animus against him which is not rationally or clearly expressed. Probably some sort of emotional component present when people react so strongly to ideas they disagree with and rather than argue or point out flaws in idea resort to insights such as "he lives on a boat" he is "full of shit", he lives in Mexico! He is lefthanded! He/she is not perfect or agrees with me so he is full of shit...



MB, I think that your standard is laudable of not attacking other Wafers and that calling say Obama a douche is all right. I do think that when people here note their admiration or liking an author or idea other people can and should debate the merits of ideas just saying well the author you like is "full of shit" is a bit uncivil and really not the sort of reposte which furthers discussion. Its on the order of sure you love your wife but well she is a cow and your kid is a twit. I am not a particularly sensitive sort but comments churlish invective comments like those made by lack seem to belong to a lesser place than your blog.

Fuerte Abrazo!

11:19 AM  
Anonymous Golf Pro said...

"Orlov...is about 95% full of shit."

Seconded.

Kunstler is about 75% genuine insight, 20% dubious speculation and 5% batshit lunacy.

Dr. Berman is 100% the light of mankind, without whom we would all be blind etc.

12:40 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Just in from CNN:

Final negotiations are underway to fill the vacancy left by Brian Williams' suspension from the anchor desk at the "Nightly News." Sources at NBC have confirmed that Mauricio Belman will head the news program as early as Monday, February 16th. Internationally known as a rigorous truth-teller and deli meat aficionado, Belman's commission is not w/out controversy. A recent interview w/Belman from Mexico City stipulated that he plans to take his program in an entirely new and radical direction. Beginning on Monday night, Belman indicated that he will be conducting numerous cranio/rectal extractions on random Americans; sharing fun facts about chopped liver; and ending his nightly program w/a segment called "Douche Bag Nation." In addition, Belman revealed that he has landed his first *high profile* interview w/cutiting-edge Americans: Lorenzo Riggins. Riggins, a provocative and leading American intellectual, has recently announced his candidacy for the presidency in 2016. Stay tuned folks, the fun has just begun.

COS-

Thanks so much. You know, I figured I should take another look at the Ukrainian conflict when you, MB, and other Wafers weighed in w/thoughts, feedback, and constructive criticism.

smelly-

Yes, the US will probably ignore the deal. They will continue to lead Kiev down the *primrose path* of dangling weapons in front of them, in effect, aggravating and prolonging the conflict. There's only one way outta this situation: the US is gonna hafta respect Putin's national interests; take NATO and EU expansion *off* the table; and walk away from trying to peel Ukraine out of Russia's orbit. Until the US is prepared to do all of these things, this conflict ain't gonna stop.

Miles

12:54 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jeff-

Well, I adore Lorenzo, as you know. I'm only hoping he has the sense to put Latreasa Goodman on the ticket w/him. As for US in the Ukraine: problem is, if they manage to back off, they'll just go somewhere else and fuck *that* place up. They don't know how to do anything else, really.

Golf-

Well, what can I say? These people write in and call me Berman, and I say, Hey, shmendrick, try Mr. Berman or else Great Seer of the Entire Planet (GSEP), the Light and the Truth (LT), etc.. So then what do these fazools do? They just disappear! Like it's too much to address me as Supreme Divinity (SD), or whatever Kim Jung Un is called by the North Koreans these days. (And I have a much better haircut, to boot.) I tell ya, it's enuf to make me wanna throw in my royal sceptre.

COS-

I guess it's OK to say "Orlov is completely full of shit" at the *end* of one's list of evidence, rather than at the beginning. I also find it hard sometimes, but it's best to reserve rhetoric for the conclusion, I think, when the reader is more prepared to hear it. Or one might just say, "He's full of hot prunes," which has a nice lilt to it. In the case of Obama, however, "a little piece of excrement" strikes me as quite apropos, and no evidence is needed because it's been piling up for almost 8 yrs now.

mb

2:27 PM  
Anonymous Fred said...

In the arguments too and fro on Orlov and Ukraine one is struck by a factor which is probably near and dear to that of the good Professor. And that is modes of knowing and argumentation. One wonders if somebody concludes that Orlov or Berman is 95% full of caca how this figure is obtained. Is it through some process of Popperian falsification of propositions? Is it some sort of semiotic approach like CS Pierce? I dare say some sort of hermeneutics a la post modernist? Some sort of computer alogorythm where the text is analysed and some output gives a weighting scheme with some percentage of propositions declared BS? I suspect its none of the above. More typically those who call B.S. on something and proffer no evidence typically are motivated by strong normalcy bias and when it is attacked a response emerges. Of course, to those like this fellow Lack of Coherence or Golf pro one can merely ask--what or who is your touchstone?

3:02 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Fred-

I guess someone needs to invent a poop-meter. They cd take Thos Friedman as the standard: 100%.

Meanwhile, I dunno if any of you have seen the TV series "Homeland," w/Claire Danes. I never saw seasons 1-3, but just watched 1st episode of season 4. Pretty gd; except that it shd have been called "American Butchers in Action."

mb

6:46 PM  
Anonymous kilo_mega_giga said...

Speaking of Thomas Friedman, I came across this amazing gift for Valentines Day.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PF5tnDNVSpE

6:58 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Hello Wafers:


The propaganda pattern behind this Ukrainian fiasco is starting to grow old. The Russians are merely behaving in a manner dictated by history and geography. Their response to the Western machinations in Ukraine shouldn't come as any surprise. The US, of course, ignores history and instead focuses on PUTIN. Putin's the Devil, you see, as was Ghaddafi, bin Laden, the Ayatollah, Arafat, Uncle Ho, Uncle Joe, Uncle Adolf... well, you get the picture. One guy is set up as the evillest dude on the planet, and since the USA is the greatest force of good to have ever existed, it's the duty of good 'Murrkans to wipe the evil folks off the land.

As for Juliet Schor, regardless of whatever else she says, her use of the term "social capital" reveals that her mind is still shackled by capitalism. Furthermore, Nicholas Carr ought to read Thomas Carlyle's 1829 essay, "Signs of the Times." Carr ain't saying anything new.

I found Kingsnorth's essay interesting, especially in how he notes the similarities between various organisms, such as bacteria and humans, on the existence of life on the planet. To outright reject his thesis is to engage in a bit of species-based arrogance, I think.

Humans like to think we're the centre of creation, and that all this is here for us. I tell my students to visit the badlands near Drumheller, Alberta, for a bit of perspective. I encourage them to look at the strata that make up the valley and to consider that some day everything they know will be summarised in a paper-thin layer of stone 50 feet below the Earth's surface.

O&D...seriously.

6:59 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

kilo-

All Wafers will want one of Kim's anus, clearly. But the guy was rt: this is the endpt of capitalism, 2b sure.

mb

8:13 PM  
Blogger Kanye Cyrus said...

My problem with the likes of Greer, Orlov, Hedges or Kingsnorth, is that despite making valid points, those guys take things too seriously. I mean you read Kingsnorth's article for instance, there's not ONE joke in there. I find this ironic for a guy who's trying to "let go" and make peace with how screwed we are. I really wish that sometimes, those guys knew a bit more how to say "fuck it" in their writing, rather than overanalyse things. This would makes them much less "heavy" to read and I am sure they'd actually attract a bigger audience! I think that Russell Brand for instance, whether you agree with his views or not, finds the right balance between taking it easy and delivering the message. Watch a couple of his "Trews" videos on Youtube if not familiar with the guy.

8:14 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

Speaking of anuses, actors, and anchors, WAFers might be interested to hear that suspended NBC newsreader Brian Williams's daughter, actress Allison Williams, can be seen enjoying the ministrations of her new beau in the opening scene of Season Four of HBO's "Girls."

Leaning against a kitchen sink, Ms. Williams--as character "Marnie"--is having her salad tossed by her boyfriend.

I was unable to find anything but a still of the scene in question, but there may be a clip somewhere out there on the Internets.

As for Brian Williams's future in broadcasting, I have every confidence that he'll find his way back to TV. After all, we have as evidence the case of Marv Albert,(born Marvin Philip Aufrichtig), a former NBCer who was fired following his felony trial in 1997 on charges of forcible sodomy. Albert was brought back on the air by NBC less than two years later, a visible demonstration of the compassion of this media conglomerate. [Albert now does NBA broadcasts for the TNT network.]

Marv, Brian, Allison. Anilingus, sodomy, storytelling on an American scale. What's not to like?

9:20 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Kanye-

Yeah...they are indeed a grim bunch. I never heard a 'progressive' crack a joke, really. I think it's partly an overcommitment to The Cause, which finally blinds the devotees (it's actually an addiction, of sorts); and partly a lack of perspective--believing that one is Really Important (Cause and Ego somehow merge into one). Not that these guys have any chance of changing anything, or getting into power; but historically, when the left does take power, it tends to bring its zeal and lack of humor w/it, w/accompanying heavy costs. Mind you, I'm not arguing w/their message(s), which are often accurate and very important; but the *style* is wrong, and in the long run, that makes a difference. I always did like the May '68 Paris poster: "Nous sommes marxistes--tendence Groucho" (We are Marxists, Groucho-style.) Or the American version, "I won't join yr revolution if I can't dance." I have the impression these guys don't dance.

mb

9:36 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Dr. Berman and WAFers:

Here is an article well worth reading:

Farewell to Rationality! Playing With Fire in an Age of Absurdity

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/02/13/playing-with-fire-in-an-age-of-absurdity/

9:44 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

I visited the art institute today. I found these two pieces excellent. Who knew Mark Twain could paint?

http://www.artic.edu/aic/collections/artwork/30709?search_no=2&index=21

http://www.artic.edu/aic/collections/artwork/97912?search_no=24&index=101

I've always found Kingsnorth pretty dead on, though also on the heavy side. I think levity might quicken the transition to something better.

Golfpro hit a 500 yard drive there.

11:02 PM  
Anonymous Birney Zouave said...

They forgot the hyphen on the sign.

http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/unified-sportsmen-will-pay-for-welcome-warning-signs-in-conoy/article_ab3543a6-b3f5-11e4-87ec-1357fa177c67.html

6:07 AM  
Anonymous Evola Virus said...

The blanket rejection of Evola carries a certain irony when one considers how much Evola and Berman agree regarding certain important points.

For instance, Evola's Ride the Tiger posits something very similar to the "New Monastic Option". Further, Evola's essay "American 'Civilization'", though dated in some of its details, summarizes with admirable brevity the points that are regularly beaten to death on this blog. For instance, Evola states,

"The American 'mind', puerile and primitive, lacks characteristic form and is therefore open to every kind of standardisation."

10:18 AM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Hola Dr. Berman and Wafers,

MB, Wafers-

A rock-throwing orchard worker, Antonio Zambrano-Montes, shot to death by police in Pasco, Washington.

Jesus, Wafers, the cops shot this poor man like a dog in the streets.

(Warning) graphic content:

http://rt.com/usa/232223-mexico-protests-pasco-police-shooting/

MB-

On a lighter note:

The 3rd season premiere of the TV series, "The Americans" is called "EST Men." Without giving too much away, a couple of the main characters attend an est session in DC.

Miles

10:32 AM  
Anonymous smelly said...

It seems that American Progressives and American "libertarians" are caught in a strange pretzel of contradictions.

American Progressives promote increases in wages, expanding social security, etc, to stimulate economic demand. Libertarians are fervently opposed to these aims, and believe that the "free market" is the way to solve all of our problems.

Progressives promote policies that would address climate change, while libertarians deny that it exists.

To me, the strange thing about this, is that libertarian policies would seem to be better for climate change, because they would cause a severe depression and therefore lead to the end of growth. While progressive policies would lead to further increases in consumption and therefore to the degradation of the environment (not just climate change, but also plastic in the ocean, etc).

This is very peculiar to me.

11:33 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jeff-

est had already surfaced in the 2nd season, in fact. Stan Beeman's wife did the 'course', met a guy during it, and then had an affair w/him. But more est-nonsense shd be fun; I look forward to it.

Evola-

Some of that is true, but I'm hardly a romantic crypto-fascist, as far as I know. You might want to read ch. 8 of CTOS to get a sense of my suspicion of all that Evolism. There's an inherent sickness in it that comes across in the tone, above all else; and as my grandfather usta say, Tone makes the music. Eric Voegelin was onto this dark Gnostic streak as well--a gd writer 4u 2 read, I'm thinking. Not all conservatisms are the same, amigo.

mb

12:04 PM  
Anonymous lack of coherence said...

re: smelly -

> Progressives promote policies that would address climate change, while libertarians deny that it exists.

libertarians don't deny it exists at all, they just want free market solutions. You're probably right that if you got rid of government subsides for oil/gas/wind/solar, the system would collapse a lot sooner.

Like MB has said, progressives don't have a problem with wealth, they're just pissed that everyone isn't getting a bigger slice of the pie.

It seems Americans fall into one idiotic camp or another, whether it's republicans, democrats, tea party, or progressives.

Perhaps the 95% full of shit number was a bit high for Orlov, better to save the high numbers for bigger idiots. At least Orlov is keyed in to the fact that America is well on the way to crash and burn, and that there is no hope. Still, the 9/11 inside job, etc. makes him a nut in my book.

1:48 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Wafers-

So, just finished watching Season 4 of "Homeland." Pretty impressive. The psychological cost (to Americans) of regularly butchering 100s of innocent people is made quite clear, as is the physical cost. Yet I wonder what the avg American would see in this series, really. Because the American military and diplomatic personnel in the show are largely clueless that it is our meddling in the Middle East that stirred up all this shit; for them, it's just a question of our Way of Life being attacked by Evil, end of story. No other narrative is possible. It's only the enemy who states, at various pts in the show, that if you terrorize people, eventually they are going to terrorize you back. Duh! But I'm guessing almost all Americans dismiss that as enemy propaganda; the notion that we create our own messes, or might be in any way responsible for what's going on, is far too much a stretch in terms of alternative narrative. So I'm guessing most viewers will see the show as reinforcement of the Good Guys/Bad Guys notion that they have in their heads, and never imagine that Gee, maybe the enemy is us.

mb

6:04 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

And of course, what we do abroad, we do at home:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/02/13/1364206/-VIDEO-released-showing-Alabama-police-paralyzing-innocent-grandfather-from-India-officer-arrested?detail=email

7:06 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

MB,

I quit watching Homeland after hearing enough resulting discussion of the show with cousins and theit friends. Youre right, they dont see the big picture. Hearing Carrie freak out about 'gettibg hit again' began to haunt me. In other news, House of Cards season 3 releases in the next week or two.

7:09 PM  
Anonymous tam said...

I'm grateful to be fortunate enough not to have to pay too much attention to the calendar, nor to any sort of media, and am pretty swift at tapping into serenity at almost each moment. It was already after sunset when I realized today is 14 Feb. I instantaneously recalled the programming from my early years ... and I thought of goofy love, and not too many twists and turns in my mind later, I noticed my mind thinking of you, dear MB! :) If I were to have a silly funny Valentine, my choice would be you!

Now, as for war-stuff. Is there not a human creative enough to switch things up? Big weapons, blow-up stuff, kill-kill-kill; same old, same old.

I love my men! So please don't get me wrong when I present this proposal (because, honest to jiminy, I don't like my men flaccid). BUT: we do know that it's mostly men who do all the blow-up, beheading, burning alive situations. And men do drink water. ... Is there not one Mensa-type [besides me] who's figured out that all we have to do is just seep a few drops of testosterone-reducing serum into the water-supply of any group of [perceived] enemies?

Hey, before you balk, big-pharma would salivate at such an arrangement! Pharma would *love* to siphon away some of those bucks going to old-fashioned violent Defense contractors. Talk about free market and competition!

I would break my no-popcorn rule, and buy a huge bag, to sit back and watch the enemy just plain ol' go limp. ... Heck, no one's killin' anyone. Think of it as a "time out" for the kiddos.

Luv to all here at the blog and especially to you, Doc! ~t.
tam

7:25 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Toma! Bozhe moi! I thought we had lost you forever.

As far as spiking the water supply, I think we shd probably start w/*American* water. Once we stop fucking with other countries, chances are they won't feel the need to fuck with us.

As for Feb. 14, of course I'll be yr valentine. (Make love, not war.)

Lish' uvidel' vas
Kak lyubliu ya vas...

mb

8:10 PM  
Anonymous kilo_mega_giga said...

MB -

I was wondering if you'd comment on this article:

http://motherboard.vice.com/read/the-new-american-dream-let-the-robots-take-our-jobs

This seems like a legit fear that many in business are starting to have - that technology in the next couple of decades is going to put people out of work faster than ever, and that this has the potential for creating problems very quickly. Some have said the 3.5 million truck drivers are all likely to be out of work in 10-20 years, and this is just one of many sectors likely to be wiped out. You've said before that millions are already permanently unemployed, but I think this will ramp up very quickly in the next 10 years.

How do you see this playing out? Do you see a Universal Basic Income happening in America? The author has said it's either that, or collapse. Do you share this same fear about how much worse technology will make things for us?

9:00 PM  
Anonymous Ballgazer said...

Lack of coherence,
Most libertardians I've talked to completely reject the existence of climate change. That includes Ron Paul and many members of congress, and the koch brothers. Also, Libertardians hate liberal progressives. I think in the future libertardian militias will be utilized by the US elites to massacre liberal progressives who participate in political protests; similar to what US elites have done all around the world in post WW2 era, eg El Salvador, Indonesia, etc.

9:11 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

kilo-

Hard to say. Tech has certainly rendered a lot of jobs obsolete since, say, 1965; but a lot of these predictions, based on inflated notions of 'progress', didn't pan out. It's a kind of red flag that gets waved every so often to get Americans worked up, but much of it has turned out to be red herring instead.

mb

9:42 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Salt-

Sorry, I've stopped posting messages addressed to 'Berman'. You can try 'Mr. Berman,' if you'd like, or Great All-Knowing Seer (GAKS).

Anon-

Sorry, I don't post Anons. Pls pick a handle and re-send. Possible handles include Shmendrick J. Tuchuslicker, or Gehackte Leber. Thanks.

mb

10:49 PM  
Blogger worriedreader said...

Please write about what is going on in Mexico. Since those 43 students "disappeared," there's been an outpouring of allegations of nationwide state-sanctioned murder, corruption and "disappearances"and collusion with drug lords. The Mexican president sounds like Mitt Romney, with lots of houses and money and little concern for average people. I don't tend to believe what US media says so most of what I'm referring to was written by progressive or leftist Mexican journalists , who give the impression everyone is fed up -- and something big is going to happen. Maybe this is nothing new but I hadn't been seeking out news from Mexico for a while, until the 43 "disappeared," and I can't figure out if things have gotten really bad or if people are just talking. Would appreciate your take on it all. Including,how does Mexico compare to the US these days?

11:49 PM  
Anonymous PhillyCheeseSteak said...

Julius Evola was an interesting guy. I don't endorse his racist reactionary views but at least he was intelligent. This is a quote from his essay on American "Civilization"

"In American society appearances are masks not faces. At the same time, proponents of the American way of life are hostile to personality. The Americans' 'open-mindedness', which is sometimes cited in their favor, is the other side of their interior formlessness. The same goes for their 'individualism'. Individualism and personality are not the same: the one belongs to the formless world of quantity, the other to the world of quality and hierarchy. The Americans are the living refutation of the Cartesian axiom, "I think, therefore I am": Americans do not think, yet they are. The American 'mind', puerile and primitive, lacks characteristic form and is therefore open to every kind of standardization."

11:53 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

worried-

Problem is, you know as much as I do. Living down here doesn't give me any kind of inside track on Mexican politics, I fear, so there's not a lot I can tell you that you haven't already read in the newspapers. How the Iguala story is going to play out, I have no idea.

mb

9:32 AM  
Blogger jml said...

You are mentioned in a post on an esoteric-ish blog called "rune soup" (http://runesoup.com/2015/01/risk-a-little-more-light/).

Here's the quote:
"I cannot attempt to satisfactorily answer the ‘what are we to do’ question without running the gamut of social media outrage...First, listen to this interview from my favourite American-historian-in-self-imposed-exile, Morris Berman. There are few people as adept at painting the reality of our situation with enlightened resignation."

The article is about the sad predicament that is contemporary western culture and encourages an NMI response.

The interview he refers to is your most recent w/ James Howard Kunstler.

10:57 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

jml-

Thanks for the ref. I'm frankly shocked when *anyone* cites me these days.

mb

11:13 AM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

MB, Wafers-

I hope all of you had a wonderful Valentine's Day. Yesterday, my wife and I took a trip to Catalina Island, off the coast of LA. On the ride over, we had a delightful conversation w/a very sweet elderly Jewish woman from Suffolk County, New York. She was out west visiting her son and daughter-in-law, who were also on the boat. Turns out, her recently deceased husband was in the US Army during WW II and was one of the only Yiddish speakers in his unit that participated in the liberation of the Mauthausen Nazi concentration camp in May of 1945. After the war, he earned a PhD in history, taught for a number of years, but finally went into business. Eventually, the conversation turned to good delicatessens on Long Island. At which point, she emphatically remarked: "The best deli is the one in my kitchen." I literally cracked up, while my wife wanted to adopt her.

Cheers,

Miles

1:34 PM  
OpenID vwclown said...

Dear Dr. Berman and WAFer/ettes:


I love this blog. I visit every single day, (no point in going anywhere else) but I haven't been posting. I've been in a snit. The noticeably rapid destruction of institutions which should have been more enduring (in my mind) is bugging the hell out of me. I haven't quite made it to that "space between" where I can maintain focus on my goal of the New Monastic Option. There is so much to do! Maybe my snit is really nothing more than plain old "fear and loathing"! HA! I really do enjoy reading what others have to contribute here. Thanks everybody.
(PS I'll snap out of it; I usually do.)

2:56 PM  
Anonymous tristan t said...

MB,

Also, check out the new issue of Adbusters.

There's an entire page with a single quote from you on it (per their favored McLuhanesque layout style)....

"Much was lost in the transition to modernity: craftsmanship, a deep appreciation of beauty, community, silence and, above all, a sense of spiritual purpose." –Morris Berman

You're becoming the zeitgeist. Cheers!

3:24 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Fruit Woman-

When an empire collapses, we live in the bizarro world, where bad is good. No need for a snit: institutional collapse is to be expected, and welcomed. I tell u, my worst nightmare is that Ovomit will announce: "My fellow Americans! I've been rdg MB's blog, and I've come to the conclusion that I'm a total douche bag. As a result, I'm shutting down the military, apologizing to all countries in Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East for what we've done to them, and suggest that all of you find a Wafer and get help extracting your empty heads from your oversized rumps. And speaking of rumps, I'm shipping Kim out to Antarctica, where she can shtupp the penguins to her heart's content. Meanwhile, the final act of the military will be to round up all the thugs in the House, Senate, Wall St., and corporate HQ's around the country, and ship them off to a small village in SW Bulgaria, around which I'm putting a chain link fence. Thank you for your understanding." Anyway, no need to worry abt that; as I keep saying, things are gonna get a whole lot worse b4 they get better.

tris-

Well, I keep telling u guys that I'm clearly the Great Seer of the Western Hemisphere (GSWH), and I guess somebody finally believes me. Adbusters sends me complimentary copies of their issues, but I haven't received this latest one as yet. Kalle Lasn told me he was going to run my "Love and Survival" essay (check Archives of this blog) in the latest issue...It's not there? Pls fill me in.

mb

3:59 PM  
Anonymous El Alamein said...

GAKS -

My only problem with Homeland Season 4 is that it didn't make the point that Pakistan is the Ghost of America Future: A country whose Manichean obsession with an external enemy leads to a militarized but ultimately dysfunctional state that desperately tries to juggle its foreign monetary backers and blowback from its own intelligence operations.

Did you see Musharraf's recent admission that the Taliban, LeT and other extremist groups were all the product of ISI backing? (Shocking, I know). Sadly, I don't think we'll ever see GWB go on TV and admit that he knew Iraq was BS all along, or see Obama admit that he only ran for president because he thought his skin color would inspire people and had no plans or capacity to exercise his office.

9:40 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Desert Fox-

Well, the show does argue that the Taliban was in bed w/the ISI, at least. But it has no political analysis beyond the enemy saying that the US is ultimately the cause of them, i.e. the blowback. So it's not clear where a voice that wd say what yr saying abt the American future wd come from. We are already at that future, and who says this stuff beyond folks like Chomsky, or Chalmers Johnson (now deceased)?

Anyway, the day that Obama publicly declares that he's a douche bag, I'll know there's a god.

mb

9:54 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: Re: yr 2nd post: post it in 24 hrs, thanx.

11:04 PM  
Anonymous Mark said...

The topic of this Intelligence Squared debate (Declinists Be Damned: Bet On America) might interest some of your readers. I watched the whole show and i found it interesting that Josef Joffee (arguing) for the motion, pointed out that America is by far the world leader in military expenditure. I think that just because a country spends a ton of money on its military doesn't mean there isn't a decline. Think about how all of that money could have been used for more positive things like education or healthcare.

You could also argue that America hasn't really won a war (achieved actual military and political success) for a long time. Everything they do just makes it worse for themselves and everyone else.

http://library.fora.tv/2015/02/11/Declinists_Be_Damned_Bet_On_America

12:04 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Mark-

It also reveals a hollow core. You strut yr military when there's nothing left to strut. Joffe is a dunce; he can't see that bravado is a mask for pathetic.

mb

1:06 AM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Check this out everyone. A chimp has more humanity and love than Americans. What does everyone think?

http://themindunleashed.org/2015/02/told-chimp-lost-baby-chimps-response-heartwarming.html

If Americans behaved like this chimp, I think we would have a different America.

My encounter. One anecdotal of personal experience of how American culture just sucks.

I encountered someone on Facebook who has Cystic Fibrosis who supposedly has a son who was abused severely. She seemed so very sweet. One day I encountered something very disturbing and shocked the hell out of me. Do you all know how papers were released on the extent of the torture of terror suspects and terrorists? She supported torture all of the way even though torture has been proven that it doesn't work and it isn't humane. I tried explaining the facts to her and then I tried to explain the idea that we could become like the enemy we're trying to fight by Nietzsche. She wouldn't listen. My friend got into a bad confrontation with her and her friend about something I posted. I deleted the post to try to keep everything calm. A few days later he was still upset about it and asked if we could discuss this and she acted like she didn't care. I cut her off and when she asked why. I told her the truth.

11:50 AM  

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