July 03, 2015

2nd U of Southern Maine Interview




Anonymous James Allen said...

Thanks for these links.

And now for something completely different.

Apparently Amber Roof, sister of Charleston reprobate Dylan Roof, had set up a GoFundMe account seeking help in defraying certain costs associated with the disruption to her nuptials and planned honeymoon caused by the recent activities of her sibling. Five days and $1,600 along in her quest, she took the account down.

Chutzpah doesn't quite seem to capture this, and further comment seems superfluous. Read for yourself:


11:52 PM  
Blogger Marc L Bernstein said...

I wonder if there is a flaw in human nature that prevents the aggregate collection of humanity, except for a small number of exceptions, from being capable of practicing voluntary simplicity. It is just too easy to succumb to the temptation to enjoy the comforts and conveniences present in the unsustainable lifestyles of Western industrial civilization.

A couple years ago I ran across the Simplicity Institute:


a quote on their 1st page :

“What people must see is that ecologically sane, socially responsible living is good living; that simplicity makes for an existence that is free.” – Theodore Roszak

In principle this sounds great but most eco-villages either fail or else are not really 100% sustainable. Samuel Alexander writes about this:


So, as you say in this 2-part Soapbox interview, the vast majority of communities and entire nations may have to collapse or else experience some sort of major catastrophe before a substantial number of persons from those communities or nations set about living according to a different set of values, customs or economic activities. This could be true in Japan as well as in the USA and in the European countries.

7:11 AM  
Anonymous Birney Zouave said...

Dr. B-

As you suggest in the interview, there's a mini-massacre every day in The USA. Here's an Iraq vet who shot his ex-girlfriend and himself in front of 50 people in a bar. PTSD or what? The remarks in the comments section range from thoughtful to bizarre...


9:09 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Grotesque. As I've said b4, there isn't enuf urine to go around.


12:56 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Thought for the day dept.:

“Try not to become a man of success, but rather a man of value.”--Einstein

1:10 PM  
Anonymous July Fox said...

Listening along while I do some chores ... provocative ideas as always, sir!

BTW -- Any WAFers have a recommendation or two for a good film based around the time of the revolution ?

Wanted something topical to view this evening

1:14 PM  
Anonymous Edward said...

Dr B, the interview was interesting. Two quotes from you caught my attention:
1) “If you make your enemy completely evil, you never learn anything yourself, the cost to you is dear– you engage in a scotch-earth war. Examples are Civil War, Iraq, Vietnam, Soviet Union, etc”

I recently started reading a book by John Tirman
“The Deaths of Others: The Fate of Civilians in America's Wars”

2) “Maybe if one gun man with AK47 kills 300 people, there might be some reconsideration in controlling guns.”

Karma is real for Americans! When you consider other peoples’ lives as meaningless, eventually you begin to think of American lives as also meaningless. What was the saying that goes like this: you become what you think and do – if you love to hate and kill, you will always hate and kill.

4:47 PM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

@James Allen--As you can see by Amber Roof's engagement photo she, not surprisingly, is marrying an Army NCO. Yet again, there's the tacit connection between the violence America perpetrates against other nations overseas and the violence we perpetrate against ourselves here at home.

Michael Moore made essentially that same connection in Bowling for Columbine over a decade ago, but most liberals who otherwise cheered that movie selectively overlooked it. Seems Moore had the audacity to point out that many of the missiles the U.S. was dropping on Serbia at the time of the Columbine shootings were made at a plant right there in Littleton, CO, and many students of Columbine High School had parents who worked there.

Just like now, Obama supporters are giving him a pass on his total inaction on gun control--accepting his lame excuse of political gridlock in DC when somehow he has the power to drop predator drones killing hundreds every year all over the Middle East and South Asia. As long as liberals continue to make excuses for and support cretins like Obama and Hillary, nothing's going to change. Even Bernie Sanders (assuming he had more than a snowball's chance, which he doesn't) does not represent the kind of true break from politics as usual this country so desperately needs.

11:32 PM  
Blogger Marc L Bernstein said...

Ann Jones ---

"It’s hard to know why we [citizens of the USA] are the way we are, and—believe me—even harder to explain it to others. Crazy may be too strong a word, too broad and vague to pin down the problem. Some people who question me say that the U.S. is “paranoid,” “backward,” “behind the times,” “vain,” “greedy,” “self-absorbed,” or simply “dumb.” Others, more charitably, imply that Americans are merely “ill-informed,” “misguided,” “misled,” or “asleep,” and could still recover sanity. But wherever I travel, the questions follow, suggesting that the United States, if not exactly crazy, is decidedly a danger to itself and others."


Personally I like your [Morris Berman] description better, that it is wise to remember that US citizens are, by and large, jokes dressed up to look like people.

"Survey says: 35 percent of Americans would expatriate" ---


5:10 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Superb interview and a rather intelligent interlocutor which I'm sure you especially appreciated. You remark that Americans confuse productivity with creativity reminded me of a line from Alistair Cooke's America who said that Americans confused creativity with enthusiasm which then triggered something you said that life in the US is equivalent to "eternal zumba"-frantic non-stop activity. What an insane culture! Not only does it not provide those things humans truly need-friendship, neighborhood, love but it extinguishes silence which as we know is the font of all genuine creative enterprise.
Sean, I have a friend who occasionally needs to borrow from me $50 or sometimes $100. Yesterday he sent me a text asking for $750! The guy didn't even have the decency to call and ask me directly. In fact, he now assumes I will meet him tomorrow at our usual meeting place for me to give him the money which is doubly strange since I didn't even respond to his request! Why would he think I would naturally give him $750 without first talking to me why he needs it, terms of repayment, etc.
Finally, I read here that women especially are wedded more to their cell phones than men. How true. I notice women for the most part holding their phones on their hand while walking. Now unless you are a centipede, why would you commit 1/2 of your upper limbs to holding a phone? Wouldn't it be better to have both hands non-committal in case of something unexpected? I also notice the same behavior when they are walking with a man which tells me that they are in a sense, on a subconscious level, hedging their bets. "Yes, I'm walking with this man, but I should still hold my phone in case I get a better offer." Am I right on this or reading too much into it?

7:36 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I don't post Anons. You need another handle. I suggest Turkey Bladder, or Cranston Butterworth III.


Maybe this time just send him a small vial of urine (to be applied to his shoes). Or perhaps a large vial.


Yeah, but it's abt finding a better-paying job, not a superior way of life. More hustling, in short.


Bernie will embrace Hillary publicly b4 Nov. 2016; of that you can be sure.


12:42 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Talk abt rt on target:


12:58 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,


Many thanks for providing the U of Southern Maine interview. I thought it was a great interview w/good questions and thoughts. I wish there could have been a bit more time to discuss yr new book on Japan. Hopefully, you can do another interview w/these folks in the future. Also, many thanks for pointing out that Dylann, after all, is a product of American culture. Yes, he's one screwed up putz, but he ain't from Mars.

Packer's review of the Hedges and Murray books was also quite good. Perhaps George is beginning to see that there's no way out of our decline, and that talk about structural change actually occurring in the US is just that: talk; the equivalent, as you say, of cocktail party jabber. I can't speak for Murray's book, but I had the kind of negative reaction that Packer describes while thumbing thru Hedges's new book. Of course, Hedges is a great writer, but I thought he was essentially grasping at anything that would stick to prove that we are approaching some sort of revolutionary moment in the US. Unfortunately, I think the revolution that Chris sees coming is in his mind more than anything else. It's kinda like Chris is caught in the old Dusty Springfield song, "The Windmills of your Mind" (insert "his" for "your" and we got it)! I'm much more in agreement w/yr view, and appreciate that you continually point it out, that we will probably witness some sort of revolution from the *right*, before this thing goes down for good, and it ain't gonna be pretty. It'll be capitalism's last gasp, 3rd act, or encore, or whatever.

Anyway, hope yr doing well, finding time to relax, and enjoying the summer down in Mexico.


9:32 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

I know. "Send not to know for whom the bell tolls" and all that, but like Faux News, I report and you decide.

Under the heading "More urine for application elsewhere," the following:

A Texan youth who ignored the "No Swimming Alligator" sign:


And a Maine youth who used his cranium as a baseplate to launch a July 4 mortar-firework, since he was literally not using his head at the time:


And finally, evidence that we can easily find use for the urine thus saved elsewhere. From a Jimmy Kimmel bit where he confronts U.S. Americans* with the idea that the 4th of July may be moved to a date in February. He calls these folks "gullible"; you may choose a different word.


*a delicious formulation we owe to Miss South Carolina when she was being questioned by a judge in the 2007 Miss Teen USA pageant

9:38 AM  
Blogger Kanye Cyrus said...

JHK seems to have read Neurotic Beauty!

"It’ll happen everywhere. The Japanese are next, of course, and they may be the most fortunate, since they retain more than a few shreds of memory for exactly that mode of life: the Tokugawa shogunate (the Edo period, 1600 – 1853), a manner of high pre-industrial economy and culture that might have persisted indefinitely had not Commodore Perry come knocking on their door, so to speak, in his “black ships.”


You can really smell the collapse in Europe with Greece unraveling and its people queuing at ATMs to take out cash. How long until the rest of the European dominos fall? Perhaps Europe will fall earlier than the US after all!

11:39 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


It looks like Hedges' mind, and reality, have long since gone their separate ways. It really is a shame; he usta be one of the most clear-headed journalists in America. This is very sad.


1:26 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: Here is Truthdig's attempt to disqualify Packer's review (like the content of the review has no validity):


1:35 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Here's the kinda thing that keeps us stuck in the Civil War, as I mentioned in my U of Southern Maine interview:


I guess America is the real 'lost cause'.


1:39 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,


I love it! Let's attack Packer w/out any evidence at all. This review was so pathetic, that I decided to google some pics of its author, Kasia Anderson. Turns out that Kasia is the assistant editor over at TD...and drop-dead gorgeous! Jesus, she looks like Daryl Hannah in her prime. Oh yeah, she's gonna do jus' fine all out here in LA, no doubt about it. Fame, a pair of Jimmy Choo's, and a fuel-injected Stingray awaits, Kasia...


Many thanks for those stories. I was particularly taken w/the youngster who launched a firework from his head. What an absolute dumbshit! RIP, Devon...


6:11 PM  
Anonymous SW said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

One of the first books I read by Hedges was Losing Moses on the Freeway. It was autobiographical and I understand (maybe) the lens he views the world through. Two books he said influenced him at an early age were The Brothers Karamozov and Man's Search for Meaning. I read both at age 18 and have my original copies. After almost 50 years in the world I still appreciate both for showing me there's a spiritual dimension to life. But I also know my own limitations and other's. All I have to do is look at my coworkers to see a tiny - but representative - snapshot of America. Overworked, strapped for cash, lookin' for love, poorly educated and not caring anyhow. They're well-intentioned, family-oriented, decent people who are completely clueless. As the world tightens the thumb-screws they'll blame the Mooslims, 9/11, Russia, China or whatever "enemy" is added to the list. Predictable as cows, he's got to know they can't be herded into a revolution. He has more in common with Jeremiah than as a guest on Democracy Now and perhaps the shrillness of his rhetoric is a reflection of his desperate denial of the glaring facts.

Would you consider at some point doing an article on the Edo Period of Japan? I really enjoyed the interview and, in particular, the last part. When you mentioned nothing went to waste I remembered a quilt a friend gave me her mother had made. She said all the scraps of material in the quilt she recognized as those used in dresses for her and her sisters.

7:09 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Hello Wafers:

Yesterday I saw that Truthdig comic about how the Confederate flag is "the same thing," and thought how the recent criticisms of Dixie are almost mindlessly facile, and also how they prove your theory, Dr. B., that gringos see anything they oppose as pure evil.

I've nominated Randy Newman as the Wafer song laureate before, and here's yet another reason to do so:



The video selections aren't the greatest, but they don't hurt the song none, I reckon.


9:50 PM  
Anonymous Kathy Sloan said...

Chris has written extensively about the fact that radical movements on the left don't exist in the US because they were systematically destroyed by anti-communist hysteria. He correctly says that any uprising, therefore, will be a fascist one, followed by a declaration of martial law. Whether this occurs first or environmental catastrophe precedes it is anyone's guess. Packer completely misunderstands & distorts Hedges. This is a very poor comparison between authors & I'm disappointed that this is recommended. I "get" the criticism of Chris for remaining in the US yet Chris himself has said that even though it's probably doomed to failure, it's a moral imperative to resist and revolt. I have recommended MB's books to people from around the world at every opportunity & quote Professor Berman constantly but I stand with Truthdig on this. Chris Hedges deserves our support for ceaselessly speaking truth to power all over the world; I often marvel that he hasn't been imprisoned or assassinated. He doesn't just talk the talk, he walks the walk. He teaches Howard Zinn at a maximum security prison. He speaks out passionately against the patriarchal misogyny that infects so-called progressive men on the left. He lived the reality of war and saw first-hand the disembodied limbs & flesh that are the remnants of US drones & hellfire missiles. Chris has been on the front lines everywhere - how many of us can say that?

10:35 PM  
Anonymous lackofcoherence said...

I'm starting to wonder if most of the police shootings are against people who ARE armed. People are posting stories DAILY like this one below. I'd say we just live in a violent society, so people are shooting cops, cops are shooting unarmed civilians, and everyone is wanting to pack heat. I'm not sure I'd blame the cops as much as America itself. Seems like everyone is ready to shoot everyone else. I mean, cops just come from the ranks of the population....


9:47 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Yeah...it's possible that on some level, Hedges does know his position/ambition is completely futile, and thus he gets more hysterical, rhetorical, and disconnected from reality as time goes on. Much of his stuff over the last 2 yrs falls into this category, and to say that the US is now "in a revolutionary moment" comes across as frankly nuts.

As for Edo (Tokugawa) period: see early chs. of my bk, NB.


There's a big diff between the Hedges of yesteryear and that of the last 2-3 yrs, it seems to me, altho I sense a connection in that the early wrtg and activism may have eventually warped his perception of what's real and what's possible. He seems now like a kind of Pied Piper, and foremost among his rather mesmerized followers is--himself. Leaving Packer's rev. of Murray aside, Packer has, imo, pegged the problem(s) of the more recent Hedges exactly: rhetoric instead of analysis, wishful thinking turning into (mis)perception, and a man who is deeply at odds with himself, in terms of political purpose. For me, at least, it's a sad spectacle, the more so in that he seems to be unreachable in terms of dialogue. That was my experience of him in the Extraenvironmentalist interview he and I did 2-3 yrs ago, and also that of Sam Harris, who labeled him as 'sanctimonious' and said that one cdn't really debate with him. The whole approach seems to be one of "I've got God on my side"--left-wing fundamentalism, in short.


Not only as evil, but as monolithic. Americans don't live in a complex world, and this certainly applies to much more than the antebellum South.


12:36 PM  
Anonymous COS said...

Being educated outside the U.S. the civil war seemed to be not a civil war per set but a sort of war for regional autonomy. Its also puzzling that the confederate flag having only presided over slavery for 4 years is so vilified whereas the stars and stripes which presided over slavery for the previous 84 years of slavery gets a pass. Only confirmation number 2 million that Americans are a bunch of inflamatory dolts. Why the fixation with revolt with Hedges et al? Reading of Barzun, Toynbee or Spengler ( Gray also) will demonstrate decline is a long process with flare ups until bottom is hit...a way off sadly. Then something new not necessarily better will emege. As for Europe collapsing their troubles are economic and political. just as collapse of soviet union there is sufficient social and cultural capital to reemerge. as for the u.s. there is only identity politics and hustles & when that ends there will be little else...

12:54 PM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

Apps über alles:


Saw a brief news story about FIFA champion Carli Lloyd on TV last night. The gist of it was that the REAL victory would be forthcoming, as she could now cash in big-time with corporate advertising deals & such. Obviously the only reason to devote yourself to doing anything is for the big payoff at the end.

I found this especially interesting in that I'd just dug out my old copy of The Simple Life recommended by MB previously & came across a paragraph about Emerson's disappointment with Thoreau. The gist of that? Emerson was bemoaning Thoreau's lack of ambition & failure to become an important, influential man, when he clearly possessed the ability to do so, and instead opting for the essentially NMI life that he chose.

Sad to agree with you about Chris Hedges. It seems he desperately wants to believe that things will turn around & redemption will come to us all -- hell, I'd like to believe that myself! -- but I just can't see it happening. The vast transformation in consciousness required for that is beyond the majority of people, most of whom wouldn't want it anyway. That's the key, isn't it? A basic psychological precept: far too many stay imprisoned in misery because it's at least familiar & strangely comforting, while real change is just too frightening & uncertain. Better the devil you know, even if it's eating you alive each day. As Zorba says, "...he never dares cut the rope and be free."

1:28 PM  
Anonymous JWO said...

RE: Hedges, Packer, etc.

I haven't read either Chris' new book or Murray's so I'll let that be, but I personally think Packer is absolutely correct when he says this:

"The revolution didn’t come — it never does in America, not since the first one, no matter how bad things get. The Tea Party reared up, only to be appropriated by billionaires and partly dissolved into the Republican Congress. Occupy Wall Street flashed across the sky and flared out, more a meme than a movement."

It's related to something I see all the time on blogs and news sites: "We must fight ______, now is the time to change _______, act now!" ... aaaannnnd then ... nothing happens. You get 10,000 people to sign an online petition that has no legal value without verifiable names and addresses. Even though I like the commondreams site, they seem to be particularly vulnerable to this. Perhaps it's because they insist on the "progressive" tag, and I ask progress to what? Regression (to craft, farming, whatever) is what we need.

Anyway, Kunstler and Orlov and the Druid see this Greece thing (plus Puerto Rico!) as the start of worldwide financial collapse. Considering I only have a couple hundred dollars in the bank I really don't pay much attention to economics, but I wonder what other WAFers think.

2:13 PM  
OpenID vwclown said...

Hello there, Dr. Berman and the Wafers (not to be confused with Gladys Knight and the Pips...),

I want to wish everyone a Happy 7th, for the same reason I would wish a Happy 4th. I guess to celebrate "the bombs bursting in air"...

I have a fondness for Chris Hedges similar to Kathy's, so it stings when this good person isn't being respected and his flaws are highlighted. I do, though, understand the negative opinion of Hedges' entrenched ideology. Accepting collapse is a tragic and demoralizing process, especially for intellectuals. When these thinkers don't get out in front of the facts, they can lose their minds and/or have emotional breakdowns. Chris Hedges understands what is happening, clearly, but he keeps reaching back to save people and it confuses him. Frankly, his message gets confusing beyond comprehension with this need to be inclusive and excite the masses. He really must release the idea of inclusion to remain sane, but I guess he feels an overwhelming sense of moral obligation to save as many as he can. He gives the 'educated masses' way too much credit. He doesn't seem to know they are at best, like precocious children who can parrot, but don't really comprehend.

I assume everyone will go through or has gone through this cognitive dilemma as they put the pieces of US failure together. We've all tried to have conversations with, but only into, the blank stares of our very smart friends... It's particularly painful to see the brilliance of Hedges go through this process, out loud, in his writing. Tom Lewis' idea from Daily Impact is, "save yourself". You can hope good and determined people happen to live in your area, but forget about saving as many as you can. Trying to get people to come around to your message will only act as an anchor to your efforts rather than some kind of life preserver of numbers. Chris Hedges keeps trying to get people to wake up and do something before terrible events unfold. The people he's talking to aren't yet forced to wake up and won't until then. Plus, it's already too late to change the system; that opportunity was missed in the 70s. Just ask Dr. Berman. -- Fruit Woman

2:20 PM  
Anonymous Pastrami and Coleslaw said...

Then there's this department:


I wonder what the stats are for the US?

3:04 PM  
Anonymous SW said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

Kathy- I don't know if I read this or saw it in an interview in a response to a question, but I remember him saying "I fight fascists not b/c I think I'll win but b/c they're fascists". I admire the fact he apparently lives by the code of honor he espouses and does his best to expose and fight injustice. What I've noticed from reading his Truthdig articles is what Packer says in his article - no one's rushing to man the barricades and there's no evidence they ever will. This does not make Hedges own resistance any less admirable or correct. Nor, in his defense, does it change the fact that Packer was singing in the liberal's Let's Invade Iraq Choir.

Dr. Berman - I saw that debate on YouTube several years ago and if Hedges was sanctimonious, Sam Harris was insulting and insolent. There's a "poll" (taken I believe in Egypt) that is perhaps the only one he's ever read in his life as he quotes it continually to support his position that Muslims are basically inferior and crazy, especially in contrast to Sam Harris. He would entertain no arguments based on first person accounts, basic decency or an accurate accounting of history. He had, after all, the results of his "poll" and it was infallible. Just ask him.

4:46 PM  
Blogger Kanye Cyrus said...

The gods are striking, they've had it with douchebags!


5:52 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,


Indeed, serious radical movements on the left do not exist. Hedges is right about this, but he's wrong in thinking most Americans share his basic philosophy: a moral duty to fight for revolution. Beyond the fact that Americans are walking nightmares, the great unmentionable is that the majority of them, left & right, are not interested in revolution, despite Hedges' call to start one or dream about one. Simply put, Americans are interested only in themselves and getting ahead. Hedges' own irrelevance points to a possible reason why he hasn't been liquidated; why waste a bullet, so to speak. I hope he will eventually realize this b4 he's diagnosed w/cancer from the stress of attempting to make Americans *care* about anything... Recall that even the New Deal was essentially a tame response to large-scale system crash. In fact, the Supreme Court declared much of FDR's policies unconstitutional, while millions of Americans declared it "socialist." In many cases, of course, the idiots were being helped dramatically by his programs. If FDR and Henry Wallace failed to penetrate the brains of Americans, even in such a minute way, how the heck is Hedges gonna do it? Even if we had a viable left movement to join, it might be the height of irresponsibility and dangerous to join one at this point, teaching the masses the people's history notwithstanding. Much better to be a Wafer, avoid unachievable utopian projects, and begin to practically prepare for a dual process alternative way of life.

In terms of patriarchal misogyny w/in the progressive movement, I fear that you are right about this. According to historian James T. Patterson, in "The Eve of Destruction: How 1965 Transformed America," sexism and misogyny were rampant w/in militant civil rights and leftist student groups of the 1960s. A sociological study about this at the time revealed that a male SDS leader noted that female members of SDS made "peanut butter sandwiches, waited on tables, cleaned up, and got laid. That was their role." Later, when young men began resisting the military draft, one of the antiwar slogans of the era played on this sexist view: "Girls say yes to guys who say no." Cute, eh?


6:11 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Wow! Lotsa stuff today. I recently received this message from a colleague in Canada: "I see Chris' ongoing de-volution into deterministic revolution as a natural outcome of choosing to continue living in the US - especially in the Northeast. Now that he's on this path, he's never going to see things in another light. You made the right move to maintain sanity by getting out of there. Otherwise, you might be on the same path as Chris and so many other intelligent people who just end up getting sucked into the abyss of the culture's ongoing implosion."

Amen, say I, to that.

Now to specific responses:


Yes, maybe neither Hedges nor Harris came out of that debate covered with rose petals, but if Harris can't be reasoned with (not sure that's true), neither can Hedges. He's a very different person now than a few yrs ago: largely a guitar with one string, who seems to have run out of ideas, and has lost the critical/analytical edge he once had. Packer is rt to score him for rhetoric (preaching). And yes, it's not to Packer's credit that he supported the invasion of Iraq, of course, but that hardly weakens his critique of Hedges, it seems to me. As for Hedges' resistance: we've discussed that at length on this blog, and it depends on one's orientation, I suppose: were Jews in Germany who hung on to 1939 doing the rt thing, or were they just plain stupid? Hedges trained as a seminarian, and is into "noble gestures." I trained as an historian, and am rather pragmatic abt these things.

Fruit Woman-

Ya know, I have a feeling that Hedges does *not* understand what's happening. A few yrs ago, I was one of his greatest admirers, not only because of his activism, but esp. because of his sharp analytical mind. That mind seems to have degenerated over the past few yrs, and in an embarrassing way. What a loss! Thus he thinks a revolution is abt to occur because Tariq Ali says so; equates Israel with ISIS; is opposed to legalizing prostitution (which wd seriously undercut organized crime); tells us that some girl in Seattle is "the scariest woman in America" due to her rather mild activities on the Seattle City Council; claims Wall St. was "quaking in its boots" over OWS when they were actually quaking with laughter (at him, among others); and finally, shifts from being a journalist to a preacher (ordained minister) and thinks rhetoric is the same thing as reality. I'm completely flabbergasted; "poor Chris" is all I can say (and poor us, as well--we are impoverished by his own impoverishment). Perhaps my Canadian colleague is rt, that something similar might have happened to me, had I stayed in the US. I dunno, but I shudder at the thought.


6:53 PM  
Anonymous Sean Kerrigan said...

I saw a billboard advertisement on the way home today; it was for Vitamin Water. The ad read, "For life, liberty, and the pursuit of the hustle." Apparently it's part of a media blitz to sell to the entrepreneurial type. Looking online, I see the title of the campaign is "Hydrate the Hustle."

On the topic of annoying ads, earlier today while passing a television, an ad was selling some moisturizer that promised to "quench your skin." Thinking back, I still remember a radio ad from a few years ago selling a "sexy breakfast sandwich." It's like marketers are out to enrage me, like any reaction is a good reaction as long as it's strong.

I don't watch TV or consume ads in any way, but they still slip through my defenses. As a result, when I am exposed to them, it seems much more jarring, like I'm hypersensitive to their absurdity.

11:30 PM  
Blogger Frederick Froth said...

Speaking of the confederate flag, left and right wing revolutionary movements in the USA, and the antebellum south there is an interesting essay on Tomdispatch by Greg Grandlin titled How Endless War Helps Old Dixie Stay New.

4:23 AM  
Anonymous SW said...

Dear Dr. Berman and Fruit Woman,

I don't know when the Tao was written but this is a quote that seems to sum up wisdom in viewing world events:

"The master does his job
and then stops.
He understands the universe
is forever out of control,
and trying to dominate events
goes against the current of the Tao.
Because he believes in himself,
He doesn't try to convince others."

At some point in mid-30's Germany I would have left had I been a Jewish citizen. I would have encouraged as many people as I could to also leave but going down with the ship doesn't appear to be wise to me. The thorny question here is would I have left if the people dearest to me couldn't - or wouldn't? At what point do individuals make that decision - is the situation futile? have I done all I can? is leaving an act of courage or abandonment? It seems to me the threshold is different for us all.

8:52 AM  
Anonymous SeekingSanity said...

I agree with you on Chris Hedges and how he has seemed to morph over the years. It appears that Chris Hedges suffers from the delusion of having faith in the American people to do the right thing. Wafers gave up on that delusion years ago, if they every developed such a faith.

For decades I have wondered how low this crap heap of a country could go and I've realized there is no bottom. That's what has me quaking in my boots.

8:54 AM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

Confident that the burden of chronicling the daily (hourly) disintegration of the country can be borne by my fellows, I offer a suggestion for your future reading.

"In August 1911, a starving native American man walked out of the Butte County [California] wilderness into Oroville and became an instant journalistic sensation..." [From the chronology prepared by Nancy Rockafellar on the history of Ishi, at http://history.library.ucsf.edu/ishi.html]

Ishi--the word in the Yahi language means "man"--was the last of his tribe; the others had been killed in the settlement years of the mid-19th century, and those who had survived the slaughters had essentially gone underground (the Period of Concealment, 1870-1911).

He was taken from Oroville in September 1911 by UC-Berkeley anthropologist T.T. Waterman. Ishi would spend the next years at the Museum of Anthroplogy in San Francisco until his death there in March 1916. Waterman and preeminent anthropologist Alfred Kroeber would study Ishi and learn about his life and culture.

In 1961, Kroeber's wife Theodora would write the book I recommend to you now:

Ishi in Two Worlds: A Biography of the Last Wild Indian in North America (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1961)

The book is still in print, and you may find it worthwhile. Hustling sweeps all before it.

11:43 AM  
Anonymous Shenjingbing said...

Greetings to all from a Wafer-in-training.

A partial antidote to annoying ads and TV's cultural poison:

I’M THE SLIME - Frank Zappa

I am gross and perverted
I'm obsessed and deranged
I have existed for years
But very little has changed
I’m the tool of the government
And industry too
For I am destined to rule
And regulate you

I may be vile and pernicious
But you can't look away
I make you think I'm delicious
With the things that I say
I’m the best you can get
Have you guessed me yet?
I am the slime oozin' out
From your TV set

You will obey me while I lead you
And eat the garbage that I feed you
Until the day that we don't need you
Don't call for help... no one will heed you
Your mind is totally controlled
It has been stuffed into my mold
And you will do as you are told
Until the rights to you are sold

That's right, folks…
Don't touch that dial

I am the slime from your video
Oozin' along on your livin' room floor
I am the slime from your video
Can't stop the slime, people lookit me go

11:47 AM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

Tracey McCloud, a 44-year-old Cleveland woman, called 911 to report bad Chinese food:




3:58 PM  
Blogger Don Italo said...

Hey Mr. Berman,

As someone who has abandoned corporate life (and pay) in order to pursue a career as a college professor in History, I can empathize with the peculiar attraction to futile endeavors for the sake of inner satisfaction. I've been thinking a lot about the seemingly inextricable strain of economism that seems to pervade the United States and the West in general. For example, the prominence of the idea of "private property rights" is held in high regard as being a cornerstone of Western civilization and the Enlightenment, its great gift to humanity, if you will.

But I wonder how much this core idea, or specifically the fetishization of this idea, is to blame for all the nonsense that has followed and more specifically, to what extent it is a reflection of the particular demographic responsible for its ascendance. I tend to view the Enlightenment as a period of time in which the Merchant class gradually displaced the Nobility as the center of power. Thus the idea of what constitutes "modernity" and "civilization" tend to reflect the values of this class, chiefly that acquiring wealth is the pinnacle of human achievement.

My own point of view is that the "Modern Age" can adequately be described as the commercial or capitalist age (or whatever word suits you). It is essentially an age in which commerce, wealth accumulation and economics have have occupied a preeminent position in the ideology of states, and by extension, the people belonging to those states. Democracy, Republic or Autocracy... all of them serve the ends of wealthy class. This is not inherent to the core values of the systems, rather, each system is manipulated in such a way that the same end is achieved.

To put it simply, I think that in this case, ideas have come from the top-down. The rampant and insipid consumerism that plagues the globe is essentially a reflection of the values of the ruling class. It is so well entrenched at this point that replacing those rulers is not sufficient, new ones with the same core values will rise to take their place.

I really have no idea how you go about fixing that. Even if one takes a very long term outlook... say 200 years. I'm really rather stumped.

4:44 PM  
Anonymous Savantesimal said...

Public Radio on topic again:

The Diane Rehm Show: Texas Textbooks And Teaching The Civil War And America’s History Of Racial Segregation

Texas textbooks are in the news again. Five years ago, state education officials created a stir when they changed curriculum guidelines to address what some on the board of education saw as a liberal bias. Those changes were incorporated into new textbooks. Now the textbooks are ready for delivery to about 5 million Texas students when school begins in the fall. Critics say the revisions whitewash America’s history of racial segregation and distort the causes of the Civil War. Texas officials dispute the charges. We look at the controversy over teaching American history in Texas and elsewhere.

One of the guests is James W. Loewen, author of "Lies My Teacher Told Me". Worth a listen.

Podcast is here: drshow-2015-07-08

5:19 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


All true, but I think that constellation is breaking up in this century. Check out works by Wallerstein and the World Systems Analysis School. Also relevant is the classic by C.B. Macpherson, The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism, and Shadia Drury's bio of Alexandre Kojeve. The way to fix it is via Dual Process, discussed passim on this blog and also in my recent bk on Japan. Unfortunately, history takes longer than 1 single lifetime, so each of us only gets to see an 'arc' of the whole process (helix). Also note that ideas typically come from the top down (Antonio Gramsci).


Nice, but in future pls limit yr posts to half a page. Thanks.


I salute: Lorenzo Riggins, Latreasa Goodman, Shaneka Torres, and now Tracey McCloud. I ask all Wafers to look deeply into the eyes of Tracey, and also Shaneka, to get a gd view of what the future of America is going to be like. (Alternatively, if you can get a gander deep inside the rump of Kim, that will do just as well.)


Very famous bk. A.L. Kroeber was a spectacular anthropologist, 30 yrs at Berkeley. His daughter is Ursula K. LeGuin; the K stands for Kroeber. Her bks are very much anthro and social commentary, disguised as sci-fi. I drool on her Guccis.


6:59 PM  
Anonymous Edward said...

Jeb Bush said this yesterday: The American workers need to work longer hours so as to grow the economy. Here is the full quote from Jeb Bush:

“My aspiration for the country and I believe we can achieve it, is 4 percent growth as far as the eye can see. Which means we have to be a lot more productive, workforce participation has to rise from its all-time modern lows. It means that people need to work longer hours” and, through their productivity, gain more income for their families. That's the only way we're going to get out of this rut that we're in.”


The man does not even know that Americans work longer hours than the workers in most other industrialized nations in Europe. But note the word: “growth’. DR B talks about growth in economy in WAF.

7:10 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Only way we're gonna get outta the rut we're in is by putting Tracey McCloud in the White House. Meanwhile, is there no way to stop the TB's (Techno-Buffoons)?:



8:27 AM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

July 4th melee in Cincy leaves man unconscious and being laughed at:


Baby, if you've ever wondered,
Wondered whatever became of me,
I'm living on the air in Cincinnati,
Cincinnati, WKR*I*P


1:29 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Thank you for your post, but I need to point out two things:

1. I don't post Anons, so you'll need to get a real handle.
2. Please send yr message to the most recent post, as no one reads the old stuff.

Hope to hear from u again, amigo-


2:40 PM  
Anonymous politically incorrect said...

Dad should have given the baby a gun... Wasn't it John Lennon who said Happiness is a warm gun?



4:14 PM  
Blogger Don Italo said...

Thanks for tips.

I'm familiar with Wellington and Gramsci but I'll look into the others when I get a chance. I'm still a bit ambivalent to World Systems theory but I believe it certainly has merit to it.

While I tend to agree that we are approaching a breakup of the constellation... I'm less confident that what comes out the other end will not simply be a rehashing of the old paradigm under some new veneer.

Quien sabe?

- Italo

6:42 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


2b sure, there will be a lot of that (greenwashing). Let's hope it's not all of it.


7:41 PM  
Anonymous Sean Kerrigan said...

Here's an interesting story from Los Angeles on the treatment of Rafe Esquith, a well known and decorated teacher focusing on Shakespeare productions at his elementary school. Apparently he is being hunted for some off color joke, though most people seem convinced it is being used as an excuse to attack someone who is an example of exemplary teaching -- which apparently cannot be tolerated in LASD. Knowing LA as I do, I find this believable.


10:04 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


In the endgame of empire, it becomes impt to root out and destroy any glimmers of decency, talent, or creativity. I'm glad to see the LASD is doing its part.


12:09 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Author doesn't mention that Carter was the only president who tried to get the American people to give up hustling and consumerism in favor of a deeper spiritual purpose, or to get the nation to give up its Manichaean habit of finding fault with every country (read: USSR) instead of itself, but it's a gd essay nonetheless:


5:47 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: the article also mentions how, "When the Reagans took over 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, their interior decorator reportedly couldn’t wait to 'get the smell of catfish out of the White House.'"--a gd example of how the South is endlessly denigrated and ridiculed by the rest of the country.

5:52 AM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,


The things that you mention that Jimmy Carter stood for are totally unrecognizable now. Can you imagine Obama standing up and saying, "It's a no-brainer, folks: we hafta give up on hustling." Or something like, "I say to you quite frankly that police brutality is now over in this nation." Then, actually *do* something about those things. But, oh, no!!!

Meanwhile, here's Philadelphia's finest in action:


Ed, MB, Wafers-

Sure, multimillionaire Jeb ($28.5 million made between 2007 and 2013) knows what's best for the American working classes. Here's what those poor saps put up with:

1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AlKAJTD1oeM

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

3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7z-NZsfFIjA

4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Tbsd6IbFTA


1:45 PM  
Blogger Juliet Cash said...

Hello wafers

I don't think that most Americans would understand the Einstein quote on success vs value you posted earlier. Dr. Berman, I am curious, have you ever asked an American audience for their personal definition of adding value to their lives beyond material success?

Would they come close to this thinker's definition?:

"One's life has value so long as one attributes value to the life of others, by means of love, friendship, indignation and compassion."
Simone de Beauvoir

How often do Americans practice any of those?


(I agree that Hedges might very well be delusional in thinking that Americans are on the cusp of revolution, but so was Carter in trying to convince Americans to live frugally; Carter overcame his unsuccessful presidency to much later become a man of value. Maybe there's still hope for Hedges- or maybe one has to be delusional about another person's worth in order to be of value to them)

5:50 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Gd question. I practice indignation quite a lot, for sure, but it doesn't seem to be having any effect. As for Jimmy, I think he was a man of value while in office, but as most of the country wdn't recognize value if it hit them over the head, he never had much of a chance. Turning to Chris, one can only hope, but I think he's going to stay stuck in a permanent rut, as it feeds his reputation, and that's hard to walk away from--it's a heady wine. This is what Geo Packer was talking abt, when he said that Hedges' real motive was to flatter his admirers. It happens to politicians all the time, of course: the presentation is frozen into an icon or automaton, in a kind of mechanical 'dance' that the person does with his audience. I saw a lot of this on the New Age lecture circuit, yrs ago, where folks like Ronnie Laing or the Dalai Lama got deified/reified. And I finally realized that if any supposedly new way of life was going to be riddled with ego, then in some depressing way we wd be constantly recycling the old politics. Hmm...


6:21 PM  
Blogger Christopher said...

"the presentation is frozen into an icon or automaton, in a kind of mechanical 'dance' that the person does with his audience."

I've listened to a lot of Hedges' talks on youtube, and this is exactly what I've been noticing for the past few years. Underneath the emotional preacher veneer, he's become terribly robotic, constantly plagiarizing himself and repeating the same applause lines over and over again. I think he's no longer interested in/capable of further analysis. He's got his view and he's sticking with it.

Anyway, ahoy Wafers, this is my first post, having been lurking for some time now.

7:38 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Well, welcome, Christopher; no pt in lurking forever, I guess. There is, of course, not much possibility that Hedges cd ever acquire political power in America; most of the people he is hoping to 'liberate' wd string him up, given half a chance--after all, he's an intellectual and he reads bks, so it's a gd bet they hate wd him. But if he did acquire power, I suspect we'd all be in a lot of trouble. This is a very old story, esp. on the left: cult of personality, stereotyped formulas and speeches, an emotional pitch, and the merger of ego with The Cause. Jesus, do we need to go thru this yet one more time?


8:00 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Great piece about Rafe Esquith. Yes, his real crime was teaching his students how to think. And why was he teaching Shakespeare to 5th graders? Didn't he know that his role in education is to get his students proficient in filling in bubbles on state exams? There was an incident at my school in which teachers can only release 1st and 2nd graders to people who they know at the end of the day. An adult came in to take a child who the teacher did not know. He subsequently held onto the boy resulting in a kind of tug of war. The result is much like Mr. Esquith's-he has to stay in a kind of teaching jail until his case is investigated. He was only trying to protect the child!
There could not have been a more perfect day weather-wise in Philadelphia today. Still, as I sat in Rittenhouse Square I estimate around 80-90% were on some form of techno-crap. So this is it? The apogee of human progress? To experience near perfect weather with wires hanging from your head? That all the wars, the discoveries, the great migrations all happened to bring us to this lovely point where no one talks to another corporal being.
It all reminded me of that scene in Woody Allen's Hanna and Her Sisters when the Max Von Sydow character says something like, " People always ask, "How could the Holocaust have happened? But that's the wrong question. The real question is, "Why doesn't it happen everyday?" But, of course, it does but it's subtle". And that's what we have with techno-crap-daily genocides. What crime! A complete negation of the Greek idea of knowledge as a social construct. I mean how will these people look back on their lives? Man, I had so many great text messages!

8:28 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


In "Sleeper," Woody wakes up 200 yrs from now and the entire landscape of the US consists of computer terminals and McDonald's restaurants. Fairly prescient, I'd say.


9:29 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Here's another great film: "Woman in Gold," true story. Abs. terrific.

11:00 PM  
Anonymous Sean Kerrigan said...

This comic (SMBC) explains why democracy doesn't work pretty well: http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?id=3792

Meanwhile Chomsky is flirting with a limited endorsement of Sanders. He's donated to him in the past. Though he's still playing the "Safe state vote whatever" / "battleground state vote Democrat" nonsense.

As for the election in general, it's hard not to see the various candidates as modern extensions of Rome's emperors. Hillary is probably Nero. Though I don't think anyone can claim the title of Caligula yet. Maybe 2020, if there's still a country then.

2:17 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Surprising stat from the June 22 New Yorker, and I quote:

"Most religiously motivated hate crimes are against Jews: in 2013, sixty per cent of such crimes were of this type, whereas fourteen per cent were anti-Muslim."

8:56 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Good Stuff Dept.:


9:16 AM  
Blogger Juliet Cash said...

Thanks Dr. Berman for the reply. I can relate on the indignation commentary. It is no use though. Americans are suspect of indignation, Dr. Berman, regardless of where it comes from - but I would say, especially coming from intellectuals( they are more forgiving with hustlers) - for probably the same reason they are disdainful about victims of poverty or of police violence or inequality,,or any kind of victims in general: they firmly believe that individuals are 100% responsible for both their successes or their failures. To most Americans public displays of indignation is the equivalent of a complainer or whiner; one of America's most cherished self help gurus, Eckhart Tolle has stated in one of his many best selling books that "there are no such things as victims- only complainers." Americans love to hear those words. The American myth of the self made individual doesn't give any credit to any supporting actors or actresses or the larger role of the community inside of that successful persons life- the hero stands alone. As such, If success is 100% self made so is failure. And it feels very personal- as Packer noted in his op-ed. And given that compassion acknowledges the plight of the victim why would it grow in America? I suspect that's also why Americans rather listen to the lies of an outspoken hustler like Donald Trump than to any truth telling, no matter how well intentioned and well researched, coming from any intellectual.

I do think that Hedges feeds his audience's egos like a Sunday preacher feeds their church members with stories of hope. In view of the condition the American left is in, hope is all that they have left going for them. It is either that or leave. Certainly, if you have become the latest victim of 100% self made failure in America you aren't going to get any compassion from any body else.


(I believe it was John Steinbeck who once stated - to paraphrase- that if you ever needed help in America, go ask the poor for it; you are not going to get it from anyone else)

12:46 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Dr. Berman & Wafers,

Re: Religiously motivated hate crimes are against Jews.

There’s always been an undercurrent of anti-Semitism in the US, but after WW II and the Holocaust it hasn’t been acceptable to express it in polite society. As America fails, the need for scapegoats increases. So I’m really not surprised by the above data.

After all, what do most Americans know about Jews and all the varieties of Judaism?
When America’s failure becomes truly undeniable and the great American people conduct their own search for scapegoats, they’ll look at Wall St. and see Goldman-Sachs, at Washington and see, Zionists who put the state of Israel ahead of their own interests, and crazy neocons like Wolfowitz and Victoria Newland.

I think I’ve said this before, but when the Christian Right (Chris Hedges’ “American Fascists”) sours on Christian Zionism, American Jews will move way up on America’s scapegoat hate list.

Of course Jews won’t be the only ones – notice how Donald Trump’s ridiculous comments about Mexicans put him at the top of the opinion polls.

David Rosen

5:42 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Hello Wafers:

Don Italo, you're probably correct about the connexion between the Enlightenment and the ascendancy of the merchant class.

Thomas Halliburton made the same connexion in the 1830s, with Sam Slick:

"As for Latin and Greek, we don't vally it a cent; we teach it, and so we do painting and music, because the English do, and we like to go ahead on 'em, even in them 'ere things. As for reading, it's well enough for them that has nothing to do, and writing is plaguy apt to bring a man to states-prison, particularly if he writes his name so like another man as to have it mistaken for his'n. Cyphering is the thing—if a man knows how to cipher, he is sure to grow rich. We are a "calculatin'" people, we all cipher.

As for Woody Allen, one of my favourite quotes from Hannah and her Sisters is " How the hell do I know why there were Nazis? I don't know how the can opener works!"


6:40 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Why I Moved to Mexico Dept.:

For a gd comparison between Mexican and US values, check out a Kevin Costner film called "McFarland, USA." It does have more than a hint of his 1990 pic, "Dances with Wolves," nevertheless...


8:02 PM  
Anonymous J S RANK said...

MB, WAFers ...Has anyone seen the 1942 Tracy-Hepburn movie, "Keeper of the Flame" ?

I'd love to see a modern adaptation.

10:08 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,


Today my wife and I watched the movie "Woman in Gold." We were both speechless after the film. It was an extremely powerful movie. Hands down, a brilliant film; best I've seen this year. We can't thank you enough for the recommendation.


11:28 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

I remember an interview with Tony Morrison. She was asked about black antisemitism. She said the reason blacks hate Jews is because Jews think they are white. I think this was a key insight-Jews trying to align themselves with the white elite while forgetting their history as the perpetual outsider. Now Jews think that alignment will save them. But the elites will need a scapegoat as the economy sinks and "lazy blacks" will only go so far. Notice that the Treasury secretary is always Jewish as well as the head of the Federal Reserve-convenient scapegoats just in case. We are and have always been just tourist attractions. The gentiles admire the best of us: Bernstein, Irving Berlin, Spielberg, Milton Berle, etc. But, in the end, we still killed their God no matter what Vatican II said.
Last week I attended a comedy show and the comedian asked, "Are there any Jews here?" So I raised my hand. He said, "Are you Jew? Are you a pedophile?" Everyone laughed. So I assumed that must be a widespread assumption that we are pedophiles. Then the show ended and I was treated like the plague. Hardly anyone would come next to me. And this is in liberal Philadelphia. Another Woody Allen quote from Deconstructing Harry. Allen's brother-in-law says," You don't care about the Holocaust." Allen replies, "Of course I care about the Holocaust, because all records are meant to be broken." Chilling.

7:38 AM  
Blogger Kanye Cyrus said...

Lifting your spirits department:


8:37 AM  
Anonymous COS said...

Many of the crimes against Jews are underreported. An elderly aunt was punched on a bus in baltimore by two "youths" last year. She is ultra orthodox, the two youths blacks yelling (on surviellance camera) "f you Jew bitch". This was not considered by the authorities a religiously motivated crime--that would require the asailants to be dressed as Klansmen I suppose. This was per the state a case of aggravated assualt. This sort of thing is common in the orthodox communities in Baltimore and Philly (where I have relatives so see this first hand). Its a sort of scapegoating which does not fit the progressive narrative nor are the victims sympathetic for the fellows on the right.

10:19 AM  
Blogger Jack Lattemann said...

Lisa Gorcyca for next U.S. Attorney General! Let's lock up kids in a medium security prison for not wanting to see their estranged father:

10:41 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

JS Rank,

it's been years since I saw "Keeper of the Flame" but your reminder brought it back in chilling detail. Agreed, highly recommended for Wafers.

Juliet Cash,

Your post reminded me of Oprah's oft-repeated dictum that she doesn't believe in luck, that we make our own luck through Secret-like positive thinking, that chance & circumstance play no part in our fates, i.e., it's your fault if you're a failure, a loser, a whiner, a complainer -- and how the self-proclaimed "winners" love to apply those labels! Because Vince Lombardi was absolutely right about winning being the only thing, as far as Americans are concerned.

An article about the demise of the lengthy email:


I've noticed this myself. I never hear from some family members because their only "communication" is texting or a single, truncated smattering of words on Facebook -- and I participate in neither. And trying to talk with people who "communicate" that way is an exercise in futility & frustration for the most part, as they quite literally don't know what they're talking about. I mean that they have no actual knowledge of whatever they're so firmly & loudly sure of -- it's all a repetition of viral memes & such, no context, no background, no history. And if you do bring up such things, you'll get "Elitist!" or "Snob!" flung in your face. I've been told to stop worrying so much about facts & be more of a "real person" -- and you can imagine what's meant by that.

11:49 AM  
Anonymous Golf Pro said...

On the subject of Jews:


12:40 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...




Check out Janice Peck, "The Age of Oprah," and Nicole Aschoff, "The New Prophets of Capital."


1:56 PM  
Blogger Christopher said...

Superhero movies have been all the rage for a while now, with yet another one on the way ("Batman vs. Superman"). Aside from the obvious infantilism of the whole thing, is this an expression of a subconscious desire for a new savior? Do Americans have some sort of incohate awareness of just how bad things really are, and now, having witnessed the abject failure of the political system to fix things, are grasping on to the image of these preternatural heros that will break into history and rescue us?

5:50 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Hello Wafers:

I've always seen superheroes as a replacement for the gods that modernity killed. Haven't most of them come about as a consequence of a botched science experiment or a similar cause? Frankenstein's creature was more or less a superhero gone bad. Mary Shelley got it right; what's wrong with Marvel Comics?

Say, Golf Pro, that "Borat" character was created by a guy named Cohen. I've seen only bits of the film, but it seemed to me that it is a swipe at Muslims and Central Asians, not at Jews.

How do you anticipate, Dovidel, that Christian Zionists will behave once someone explains to them that Jesus is considered a prophet by Muslims? Will they carry on their rapturous way, waiting for the fruits of Dimona to bloom and bring about the end times, or will they somehow come up with a new belief?

11:30 PM  
Anonymous J S RANK said...

Tim L. YES ! A hidden classic. Kind of a political Film Noir. Cukor considered it a dud, but the country was in the midst of WWII and concentrated on fighting the all too real fascists and imperialists. Course, few knew then of the machinations and prospective coup by the Bush family crime syndicate.

KOTF could be modernized quite easily. I would drop the love interest ...maybe have the protagonist female ?
( BTW, the cinematography by William Daniels was outstanding, better than "Citizen Kane" IMO )

I'm always considerably impressed by Tracy's museum: "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? ", "Judgment at Nuremburg", "Inherit the Wind", "The Last Hurrah", "Bad Day at Black Rock", "Tortilla Flat", "Fury", along with his comedic stuff.

Another pol/thriller is the Jane Fonda "Rollover".

Also, corporate slime detailed : "Michael Clayton". Had Oscar recog w/ Tilda Swinton scoring a Best Supporting Actress for her role as corporate killer Karen Crowder. Sidney Pollack was also brilliant as complicit lawyer/stooge Marty Bach. ( Don't want to spoil ). Next to last thing he ever did.

12:42 AM  
Anonymous SeanKerrigan.com said...

Christopher: Superheroes like Superman represent state power, and dark vigilante heroes (like Batman) represent dark state power a la the CIA or NSA. In almost every iteration, their monopoly on force is seen as necessary and welcome. The only exception is Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, which actually has a lot to say about power and how it is used in a collapsing society.

This reminds me of sci-fi author Norman Spinrad who wrote a book called "The Iron Dream." It is written as a novel within a novel. So he writes as another author writing another book. In this meta book, is an alternate universe where instead of becoming head of the Nazi party, Adolf Hitler emigrated to America, learned English and became a pulp science fiction writer. He then sets about writing this novel titled, Lord of the Swastika, which is the novel you read in "The Iron Dream." It basically has Hitler's ideology in a sci-fi setting with aliens and ideas of racial purity. In the story, Hitler's book is a big success with critics.

Spinrad was making a satire on the fact that many sci-fi novels of the era were basically narrow minded, fascist, "us verses them" stories. He used the fake Hitler novel to satirize how similar many sci-fi novels were to that ideology. In the same way, Nolan deconstructs the typical superhero film in his Batman series. It's the only Superhero film worth seeing in many decades and legitimately got people talking about themes and symbols.

That said, it's an anomaly. There's a TON to say about SH movies and I'm thinking of writing a book on it.

2:04 AM  
Blogger Yossi said...

Excellent article by Chris Hedges in latest Truthdig http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/we_are_all_greeks_now_20150712
As he says the only viable option to revolt is submission. Or has anyone else got another option?

3:30 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Yes indeed! It's called Dual Process, and I've discussed it on this blog and in my recent bk on Japan, at length. Hedges' thinking has gotten increasingly simplistic, B&W, and probably won't appeal to very many people. Local resistance and organizing around specific issues is often valuable and necessary, but revolution won't happen in the US unless it is a revolution from the right (which cd easily happen, I think, as the economic crunch deepens). Americans fully buy into the American Dream; the great majority don't resent the upper 1%, they just wanna join them! I've been rdg Mark Rudd's bk "Underground," a personal history of the SDS, and one thing he makes clear is that the greatest mistake made by the Weathermen faction was to ignore the context in which they were operating. Until the last 2-3 yrs, when it was clear we were losing, only a tiny sliver of the American public was opposed to our involvement in Vietnam. The great majority of Americans were not marching in the streets, were not opposed to capitalism, and were alienated by revolutionary rhetoric. Instead of working to build a broad movement to end the war in Vietnam, says Rudd, we (Weathermen) opted for a fantasy of revolution and guerrilla action. When the Weathermen met with the Cubans and Vietnamese, these savvy folks told them that it was impt not to get too far ahead of the masses, and to see that revolution had to develop as "a growing consciousness in people's minds, step by step." Of course, the Weathermen were talking abt violent revolution, and Hedges et al. are talking abt civil disobedience; but Hedges still remains on the very far edge of the mainstream American context, and he seems to be unable to see that. (In this regard check out George Packer's excellent NYT review of Hedges' latest bk, esp. where Packer points out the difference between the latter's stated purpose, and his real purpose.) Preaching to the converted finally doesn't change anything, and even in the 60s, 'revolution' was basically a grin w/o a cat--wh/is why the whole thing collapsed in a puff of smoke. Most of the radicals reverted to the American Dream, opened up chic boutiques or got corporate jobs. And if there was some revolutionary consciousness around in 1968, there is just abt zero around today.

I suspect part of Hedges' frustration is that he is trying to light a fire under ice cubes, and on some level he knows that. Revolution in the US is a joke, for a whole # of reasons. These include the fact that Americans buy into the Dream; that Americans are (imo) rather spineless, a nation of sheep, accustomed to bowing to authority; are strongly conservative (this includes so-called liberals); and are basically dumb. Conservative: a good chunk of the population wd string Hedges up, if they had a chance. Jesus, the man reads *books*--they hate people of his class. And dumb: I've been reporting on the stats for yrs, and once sent some of them to Hedges. He wrote back: I can't really pay attn to that, because then it wd be difficult for me to do the work I'm doing. Well, no shit, man; maybe it's time to rethink the work yr doing?

America is so far gone that I don't think Dual Process can really take off here in a serious way; Europe and Latin America are far more likely, imo. And I can't get into a whole discussion of the concept rt now, once again, so can only suggest you check out ch. 7 of "Neurotic Beauty" for an extended treatment. In the meantime, don't be seduced by Hedges' either/or thinking; reality is a lot more complex than he makes out. We're not talking France in 1789 or Russia in 1917; the more accurate comparison is Rome in A.D. 400, or feudal Europe ca. 1450. Huge changes like these don't take place overnight.


Note that Spinrad is very similar to Philip Dick's novel, "The Man in the High Castle," written many yrs ago.


6:14 AM  
Anonymous Pastrami and Coleslaw said...

Jimmy and Willie:


9:58 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

It occurs to me that the common denominator of these ongoing discussion, from superheroes to Hedges to the Weathermen, is power & illusion. These are the things most desperately sought by the public. If they can't have the power, they'll accept the illusion of power. In any case, they'll opt for illusion over reality every time. When Reagan was elected & people starting cheering "We're Number One!" with such fervor, I knew that they had realized on some level that we weren't Number One, not any more, and never would be again.

Note how Superman has been given the Dark Knight treatment in order to make him popular these days, all grim-'n'-gritty. Most people don't want to look at the real reason Superman is a hero -- not because he has such incredible power, not even because he uses that power for the benefit of others -- but because he refrains from using that power for his own selfish advantage. Possessing power & not using it for yourself? Now that's un-American!

I remember Archie Bunker demanding of Edith, "Prove to me that you're human! Do something rotten!" Because people can't ever do good things just because it's the right thing to do, apparently. Not superheroes, not real people. What a Hobbesian view of existence!

I think the argument that superheroes represent a return of the gods is true to some degree. It's true about all genre fiction. Superheroes even have their own priesthood -- geek culture, arguing over minutia with all the intensity of church doctors arguing over the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin. And what is geek culture in the end? Another manifestation of the frantic hunger for power & importance. Geeks know a lot of factoids, but they have no depth. Depth is the very last thing Americans want today.

Remember, Marvel's Stan Lee once said, "People don't want change. They want the illusion of change."

I think CGI movies in general, with their scenes of orgasmic mass destruction, are in some way a communal ritual about power, naked & purified of all thought & reflection. Good is Us & Bad is Them. We reinforce our illusion of innocence & justify the use of power, while at the same time coarsening the soul & eliminating conscience, empathy, tenderness -- the United States of Amygdala, turned up to 11.

10:14 AM  
Anonymous Golf Pro said...


I think the point of Borat is that he's sufficiently foreign, and his "TV show" so safely far away, that he can lure people into saying what they really think.

Also he's on record as stating that he worships The Hawk.

Here he is meeting a real man:


11:01 AM  
Blogger Christopher said...


Your remark about the intelligence (or lack thereof) of Americans reminds me of what I consider one of the central paradoxes of Chomsky's approach. He's constantly railing against "elites" who consider themselves so much more enlightened than the American people, who are (according to Chomsky) chock full of good sense. So, my question is, why is it that these same people apparently need someone like Chomsky to point out to them the situation they're in, if they have the kind of practical wisdom that he thinks they have? Here's his dilemma: if they are as smart as he says, they should already be aware of all the things he's talking about, yet they're obviously not; if they're not as smart as he's saying, then they need a knowing "elite" (like him!) to make them aware, but then what sense does it make to pound the table screaming "democracy now!" when the voting people need an "elite" to lead them by the hand?

12:13 PM  
Blogger Jarid Wagner said...

Good interview. I'd be careful saying China is the #1 economic power. Their GDP is about 60% of the USA's - other factors go into economic power but that is the primary one and their is a significant gap. Also it seems unlikely (though possible) the US would slip into third or fourth in economic power - other countries just aren't even close in terms of country GDP. I think it's much more likely that the US would fall a lot in per capita income - perhaps even last among the first world but China is the only one poised to overtake it's total GDP.

Franzens' 'Freedom' was a great book and it really was the fictional manifestation of the ideas and concepts you talk about in a lot of ways. I don't think the characters led failed lives though - failure was part of their lives but not the whole thing at all (IMO). At the end the son seems very happy once he marries and settles down with that girl next door - he had earned money from the Iraq War but he seemed to have developed a conscious and did grow as a person. The daughter seemed content too but she just wished she had as much money as her brother to travel. Then the parents even seemed OK at the end - they had their affairs and 6 years of separation but they end up together. I agree with your central claim though - the book was about how choices don't lead to freedom and can lead to misery.

3:46 PM  
Anonymous JWO said...

More on infantilization:


If using coloring book helps you destress, I really don't give a damn, but $999 for "weekly preschool classes for adults"??

God help us all.

3:51 PM  
Anonymous COS said...


I would not put too much store in GDP numbers--they are very crude measures. For example what is the good of comparing U.S. GDP with say Italian GDP when you figure that a majority of Italians (72%) own their homes outright and student loan debt is virtually unheard off and you can exist very comfortably in Italy without a car. So what is the point of higher GDP? If I mow my lawn there is no contribution to GDP but if I do my neighbors it goes to GDP. Then there is the whole healthcare fiasco in the U.S. no? Obesity and violent crime rates U.S. vs Italy? Key point--GDP is a very, very flawed mode of comparison. GDP in a sense is a sort of "hustling measure", it makes no distinction between producing a truckload of potatoes or doing high speed trading or some rigged financial transaction. If you have a nuclear leak or a major storm like Sandy, the money spent on clean up goes to GDP--as does expenditures in fat farms, rehab, public schools and Anthony robbins seminars.

As for Films, an underrated one is Frankenheimers Seconds which starred of all people Rock Hudson--its wonderful and deals with values and identity.

5:21 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,


Not only have you hit on the central paradox of Chomsky, you have hit on one of the central paradoxes of democracy in general. Although rarely discussed in open company because it infuriates Americans, democracy tends to want to level everything to a form of egalitarianism. However, it takes an elite to push civilization forward. There's just no way around this. The curious thing is that oftentimes a truly cultured and sophisticated elite are ruthlessly destroyed...much to a civilization's detriment. This factor is depicted, in various ways, in MB's film recommendation: "Woman in Gold."

Also, check out Paul Fussell's book, "Class: A Guide Through the American Status System" for an amusing take on some of the things you are describing and the myth of social equality in America.

MB, Wafers-

What a Shock Dept.:



5:46 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dona nobis pacem dept.:


7:49 PM  
Anonymous Frankistan said...

The so-called tradition of those people in the South - thanks to the divisive antics and self-interests of individual politicians


8:40 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Southern tradition dept.:


10:39 PM  
Blogger Yossi said...

Thanks for your response. I don't disagree. Hedges, like a lot of analysts, identifies the problem but is not able to offer a workable solution. Revolution is not going to happen and even if it did would result in tyranny. Local resistance and organizing around specific issues is valuable but is a pin prick. Few people are able to emigrate, and even if they could would probably still be in the world-wide tentacles of the empire. What is a person to do other than submit?

2:05 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


With Dual Process, you work to create a different way of life, and esp. a different economy: alternate currency, alternate energy, no-growth enterprises, etc. Millions are now doing it, esp. in Europe. It can also be combined with the Monastic Option (see the Twilight bk). As for emigration, u can still find pockets of traditional culture all over the world. Re: Hedges: I don't think he *has* identified the problem! Or at least, he's leaving out some major parts of it, wh/is why his world view is B&W.


2:28 AM  
Anonymous Golf Pro said...

Interesting piece from Immanuel Wallerstein on the Latin American Left:


Note how the "Progressive" Left cannot tolerate any other Left vision.

8:06 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Check out "Rich People Things," by Chris Lehmann. Esp. gd are the chapters on David Brooks, Malcolm Gladwell, and Ayn Rand (utter douche bags), and the iPad and social media.


9:20 AM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

MB, Wafers-

Well, how many Republicans can stand on a debate stage w/o tipping it over, Wafers? Answer: at least 17. The 17th GOP candidate has entered the 2016 race: Gov. Scott Walker. Walker, a lover of corporate money, union busting in a largely blue state, and a far-right Evangelical who belongs to a church that speaks in tongues and believes in end-times scenarios said that the most significant *foreign* policy decision of his lifetime was Ronald Reagan's decision to break the strike of the air traffic controllers in 1981. He went on to say that this convinced the former Soviet Union that Reagan was tough on communism. What an absolute joke that is... Walker is a comprehensive douche bag of the first order; a person a douche bag looks at and says, "now there's a douche bag!" Perfect for American tastes and sensibilities.


Unbelievable! Many Americans are upset about the new interpretation of Atticus Finch found in Harper Lee's new novel. As a result, some have indicated that they will not read it because they don't wanna tarnish their image of Atticus from "To Kill a Mockingbird." Jesus, did it ever occur to these people that the characters in both "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "Go Set a Watchman" are the creation of the author, and she can do whatever she wants with them. Furthermore, taking the shine off Atticus makes him a whole lot more interesting, no? I guess people will cling to the conceptualization of a character that fits their worldview.

Anyway, many thanks for the insightful essay on the Southern literary tradition. I ordered up a copy of T. Geronimo Johnson's "Welcome to Braggsville: A Novel"; added to my copy of "Go Set a Watchman," of course. Can't wait to dive into this one...



4:41 PM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

One point to make about that New Yorker stat is that there are nearly twice as many Jews living in the U.S. than there are Muslims (which skews the raw data). And I would guess that Jews are on average higher up on the societal ladder and thus more likely to believe that the police/court system will take their complaints seriously. If so the number of hate crimes against Muslims is likely to be underreported compared to those against Jews. Anecdotally, my wife's family is Jewish and I have never once heard her or any of my in laws mention that any member of the family or anyone they know ever having been a victim of such a crime.

I say that not to disparage the victim of any kind of hate crime. I just get suspicious when raw statistics are thrown out there by the establishment media like that, especially when neoconservatives are always looking for ways to make Jewish people--and therefore Israel--more sympathetic and Muslims less so.

7:50 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

As we learn that one more clown has appeared to squeeze himself into the clown car, we look forward to a campaign sure to offer endless possibilities for our mirth and merrymaking. (Boasting a keen eye for the ridiculousness inherent in any given situation, Andy Borowitz today gave us "Poll: Palin Would Bring Much-Needed Dignity to Republican Field" on the New Yorker website.)

Under the heading of Onward and Downward, this excerpt from Alan Weisman's Countdown:

"Discussions of carbon emissions usually lead to calls for clean renewables to replace dirty fossil fuels immediately. [Roger Martin of Britain's Optimum Population Trust], however, has alluded to the growing understanding that this can't happen anytime soon, if ever: renewable technologies potent enough to run all the world's factories, vehicles, heating, and cooling simply don't exist yet, even if the political will to switch tomorrow existed. And the amount of fossil fuel required to mine component metals and to build solar and wind power installations incurs an emissions debt that takes decades to environmentally amortize before their output can be considered truly carbon-free. In the meantime, he argues, the best hope to keep the planet livable is to reduce the number of us making all the demands."

With 17 candidates from a single party now jockeying for the top spot--and likely more to come--we see the future foreshadowed, since the losers in the race on that side will almost certainly be back again. Tanned, rested, and ready as the saying goes, and eager to pander to a population a disturbing number of whom believe some or all of the following: climate change is bunk; evolution is "just a theory"; dinosaurs coexisted with man (it's in a MUSEUM for pete's sake!); and America is the greatest country that ever existed or ever will exist.

O&D, yo, O&D.

10:44 PM  
Anonymous Crazy Eddy said...

WAFERS! Salvation, of a sort, is at hand! Donald Trump is now the leading Republican candidate! A prophet of decline who (dare I say it?) overshadows even Mittney! If Mittney was just a haircut and an empty suit, Trump is a BAD haircut (possibly a bad hairpiece) and an empty suit!

How about some nice slogans to commemorate a man who will surely lead us onward and downward into a firey oblivion!


11:53 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jas, Eddy-

Here's the problem: I personally think it's wonderful that Trump is #1 among Republicans, and I fervently hope he gets nominated, and that he becomes our next president. I may even take time off from researching my next book, "They became a collection of clowns and that finished them off," to work on his campaign. However, all the polls indicate that if he were to go up against Hillary, she would hand him his toupee on a platter. And the thought of that pasty-faced douche bag dominating the screens and air waves for the next 8 yrs--well, I don't hafta tell u.

It's like this: current US population is 321 million douche bags. But this group can be broken down into ordinary douche bags and hyper douche bags. As of now, the former outweigh the latter by a hefty margin, and it is this larger subgroup that will be voting for Hillary. So while Trump will easily get the hyper douche bag vote, it won't be enuf to put him over the top.

Now I know what yr thinking: the douche bags are evolving into hyper douche bags. True! But not fast enuf for this election; in 20 yrs, maybe. Hence, the Wafer desire to see Trump in the driver's seat will unfortunately hafta wait a while. The next 8 yrs will be Hillary's, pasty face and all.

However, take heart: this blog will be around for all of us to chart the continuing descent of the US into chaos and self-destruction. Obama was an empty shell--a punk, really--and he did us a lot of damage. But it was *random* damage; he is a clueless individual and had no clear idea of what he was doing. With Hillary, the damage will be more organized, more focused. And then in 2024, at long last, we may get someone like Donald, or if we're lucky Herman Cain (or Shaneka Torres), and that will put the final touches on The American Experiment, once and for all. Like you guys, I wd love to skip the Hillary phase; but history is what it is, and we are going to hafta look at that joke of a face for the next 8 yrs.

"Our cause is lost;
My cookies are tossed!"

but only for a while. And so I say 2u:



12:36 AM  
Blogger Yossi said...


Once again thanks for your response.
I am relatively new to your blog and your reference to the use of Dual Process to create a different way of life is a new one on me. I have only come across the term in Daniel Kahnemann’s book ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’. I will get a copy of your book on Japan. I am interested to know of the European models that you refer to. The only one I have come across are the Mondragon co-operatives in Spain, but I’m not sure that they use their own currency or pursue a no-growth philosophy. Do you have any more info on others or can you refer me to a book/web-site.
Many thanks.

2:00 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I'm curious as to what Kahnemann means by the term, since I coined it myself, and never read his book. Is he really discussing the capitalism to post-capitalism shift? As for Europe: check ftnotes in Japan bk (I recall an article on Spain, e.g., wh/had 325 separate alt. currency expts going on abt 3 yrs ago; probably more today). Mondragon, from what I understand, is old hat, and has gone the way of all flesh. You can find more stuff via the Net; e.g., 40% of energy supply in Denmark comes from wind power, or so I recently read. As for the US, check out Joel Magnuson, "The Approaching Great Transformation" (there is probably a European equivalent, tho I'm not familiar w/the French or German etc. literature on the subject).

There is a lot of this going on--at least that's my impression--but the model is one of incremental growth until things 'take off'. See my discussion of monasticism in the Twilight book: it began in the 4thC and took centuries to have a serious impact. It was hardly clear, in A.D. 450, that some Irish scribe copying a Greek ms. was going to be making any kind of historical difference, but these are small cumulative effects that eventually break thru. Or consider the invention of double-entry bookkeeping in Italy, 13thC, as an early capitalist form, that slowly gained momentum. These 'organic' changes are the real stuff of socioeconomic evolution; altho inasmuch as things are speeded up now, I think we are going to see the emergence of serious alternatives by mid-century, and the falling away of capitalism by 2100. It's a nonlinear process, of course, but I think the vector is clearly there.

Other scenarios are, however, possible; I don't have a crystal ball, and sci-fi lit is full of dysfunctional futures, any of which cd happen. Dual Process may well be the most optimistic of the bunch (I'm a great believer in the human spirit, wh/I think is unfortunately dead in the US--but not elsewhere). The least likely scenario, however, is the one currently promoted by 'progressives': a revolution that is going to turn everything around. In his book "Underground," Mark Rudd talks abt how the Weathermen had drifted into this kind of fantasy, that since they wanted this (revolution) to happen very badly, they were finally convinced it would. 'Delusional' is probably the best word for this.

(continued below)

2:43 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

The epilogue to Rudd's bk is very instructive, because he talks abt a 40th reunion of SDS or Weathermen at Columbia in 2008, celebrating the events at the university in 1968, and what had been accomplished. Abt 400 people showed up, and he points to their careers in a nonhustling direction: environmental law, poverty law, NGO's, health clinics, and the like. He is proud of this, and I agree that these folks are worthy of our admiration (check out the marvelous speech rendered by Susan Sarandon in the movie "The Company You Keep"--vilified by the American press, of course; god forbid the 60s rebels might have been rt in their vision of a different America!); but when the dust settles, it's 400 people; and if they had really changed the US, we wdn't have the pathetic, self-destructive country that we do today, quite obviously. The 60s *seemed* revolutionary; looking back, it was a grin w/o a cat.

Anyway, what I'm giving you is the honest assessment of an historian who is making an educated guess as to how these changes might play out, and of what is coming down the pike. There is no Truth here w/a capital T; as I say in my Japan bk, my final chapter is a speculation, not a prediction. My problem with Hedges and the progs in general is their strong tendency toward simplistic, B&W analysis and fast, revolutionary changes that seem terribly unlikely, at least in the US and Europe.
In fact, reality is quite 'dense'--layered and complex--and history is a weird and nonlinear process. One of my favorite novels is "The Last Enchantments," by Chas Finch, the last line of wh/reads: "Honestly, this world. It's the strangest thing.

Gd luck in your researches, and let us know what u find.


2:43 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: there's a nice video of Bruce Springsteen singing "This Land Is Your Land," wh/he prefaces by saying that the song is a warning: that as with individuals, so w/nations, the best part of us can slip away. The problem, as I think I show pretty clearly in WAF, is that the best part of the US, the alternative tradition, really never had much of a chance, and that that is why America failed.

2:49 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...


Along with the wonderful Seconds (Rock Hudson gives a devastating, anguished performance), I'd also recommend The Swimmer and Save the Tiger -- all three are scathing examinations of the poisonous allure & failure of the American Dream, as well as the soul-crushing nature of our official notions of both success & manhood.

Another example of how everything -- EVERYTHING -- can be & is co-opted, assimilated, commodified:


And I see that the shining paragon that is Scott Walker has proclaimed that the minimum wage is "a lame idea" as part of his grand vision of America. Downward until we hit bottom, except there may not even be a bottom at this point.

8:37 AM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Hi MB & Wafers,

MB, Crazy Eddy, Wafers-

Well, if you can't blow it out on the Wafer blog, where the hell can u blow it out?:

WAFERS 4 $TRUMP$ 2016!

At this point, of course, my support for Trump is considerable, but I hafta go w/MB on this one: we're simply looking at a Trump bump. His rise in the polls is similar to effects of Viagra: an American hard-on for Trump that will soon fade into a whiskey dick. However, once Hillary begins seducing Americans w/her pantsuits and sensible shoes, declaring nuclear war on Iran, and jabbering on about American greatness...the electorate will be ready 4 a Triple Crown.

Meanwhile, here's another entry 4 our America today dept.:



1:49 PM  
Blogger Juliet Cash said...

Dr. Berman

In the second video you talked about a zero waste society Japan once had which lasted 250 years- when they were closed up. Given their present technologically driven economy do you see that perhaps their aging demographics - anti sex and anti marriage youth- is simply adjusting themselves towards a zero growth economy given they have had a long slug of a recessionary economy and the Fukushima conundrum? Cuba after the embargo had to revert to a closed economy and they had a fairly homogeneous insular society already. ( albeit they had an agricultural base economy to fall back unto). After communism collapsed their oil supplies dwindled and their population decreased quite dramatically adjusting to their new realities. Cuba has lived with austerity for decades. Now Cuba appears to be opening up to capitalism and global trade. Do you see any relationships between Cuba and Japan?

Another point I wanted to raise is that technology is making labor more productive and the number of laborers much smaller. Wouldn't you say that the future human waste is going to be the result of automated and digitized replacement of workers -already under way - and that capitalism will have to become totalitarianism due to mostly that new conundrum? Will we have an increasing number of economic non participants receiving welfare due to increases in surplus productivity? Some Scandinavian countries are already talking about a living allowance- another capitalism lifesaver.


(Capitalism is quite resilient- it transforms itself- or so it appears- like its participants it always has to be reinventing itself)

3:18 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Maybe other Wafers can speculate abt all that, since I just don't have time to respond to all yr questions just now (sorry). Also, I'm not sure I have any answers beyond pure guesswork.


3:22 PM  
Anonymous SeanKerrigan.com said...

With regard to "capitalism lifesavers" Juliet, (if I understand you correctly) I'd say implementing something like a living allowance reform requires human power or human insight not currently present in the US or in the world generally.

Machines (not literal machines, but social machines) are in control right now and they have an insatiable logic and relentlessness that focuses on efficiency before all other considerations. Even if such reforms are necessary to preserve capitalism for a few more years or decades, it seems unlikely changes will be implemented because machines are just too short sighted. Human beings like Obama are not in control, and even if he was, he's no FDR. Though I could be wrong, I see no evidence there's going to be a New New Deal, even in the event of some kind of catastrophic economic collapse -- at least not in the US.

7:42 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Sorry, amigo, I don't post Anons. You'll need to get yrself a real handle and then re-send your message. One possibility is Cranston Butterworth III; another is cornedbeefsandwich. Farfel is also gd.


9:38 PM  
Anonymous Crazy Eddy said...

Doc, you're killing me - you're saying we have to wait until 2024 before we can get a full blown lunatic douchebag in the driver's seat? I'm a patient man, but that's a mighty long time.

Maybe if somebody creates an app to let douchebags vote via their smartphones, Trump can harness the hyper douchebag vote - if we making voting so easy you can do it from the comfort of your own home, while you're on the toilet, even, we may have a chance to steal this election from Hillary the Harpy and hand it to President The Donald.

For this "vote electronically, on the toilet" campaign, I propose the following slogan:


1:41 AM  
Blogger Yossi said...

Thanks for all that good stuff. I will certainly research the topic.
Daniel Kahnemann’s book makes no reference to the transition from capitalism to post capitalism. That's why I was interested in your use of the term The following might be helpful.
“The spontaneous search for an intuitive solution sometimes fails‚”neither an expert solution nor a heuristic answer comes to mind. In such cases we often find ourselves switching to a slower, more deliberate and effortful form of thinking. This is the slow thinking of the title. Fast thinking includes both variants of intuitive thought‚”the expert and the heuristic‚”as well as the entirely automatic mental activities of perception and memory,
“System 1 operates automatically and quickly, with little or no effort and no sense of voluntary control. System 2 allocates attention to the effortful mental activities that demand it, including complex computations. The operations of System 2 are often associated with the subjective experience of agency, choice, and concentration.”

1:56 AM  
Anonymous DeadThoreau said...

Check this out, here's a essay written by a guy who had just spent three years in Thailand and has just moved back to the US. Here's some gems.

"After the glow of happy returns wore off, I have to be honest with the fact that I just don't like the US lifestyle. I came back to give the west a full on fair shake. I even saw it with new eyes. And there's much I really love about US that I had to be away from before I could appreciate it. It truly is a tremendous land of amazing professional opportunity, as well as a place where self development is encouraged and valued. Every system is crooked, but the corruption here is way toned down compared to SE Asia. The work place has some clowns, but is largely a meritocracy, where good workers are advanced, and losers get let go. People try hard. They want to make things better. The innovate. But what's really turning me off is how processed it all is. How boring. It feels like this grey machine. A conveyor belt. Relationships feel flimsy. Everybody works. Watches TV. Works more. The amount of hostility towards men is repulsive, as it plays out in the workplace and in media. But the underground of MGTOW and Red Pill is filled with a tremendous amount of hostility as well. I just really can't believe how unhappy and depressed most people in the west are. It's like there is this War on Love, destroying relationships between lovers, friends, and communities. There's not much neighborhood or local cohesion. I feel everybody keeps busy busy busy all the time, working buying and watching, working buying and watching, to avoid admitting how bleak and punishing the average life is here. I don't want to support it. I don't want to fit in and be part of it."

"The place runs well. The trains are on time, as they say, but psychologically, I feel the West is a very hostile and weird place these days. Especially when it comes to men / women relationships. I am shocked at the deterioration in relationships that I have seen, in just the past ten years. It's just so aggressively mercenary. The romance has been drained from the punch. There's very little charm in the process. I found dating pretty pointless, but still fun and sweet enough in Thailand. Even it if leads nowhere beyond walking around a mall and having some sex, it was lighter and more pleasant. In America, dating is this grim operation to perform: shit tests, hoops, Social Market Value, and the flat-out rude bossiness that has become the modern American woman. Joyless. Probably that's what this entire post comes down to... that one word: Joyless. America is not a life. It's a job. The job is work. And work sucks."

2:33 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I agree that on a spiritual level, America died a long time ago. It's almost as tho the place is a conspiracy to snuff out the individual soul. This is why I am happy to be out of that environment. All in all, it's a severely depressed nation. Misery is the American's daily fare.

Fritz Perls usta relate an anecdote that kind of summarizes it. It involves the story of a Mexican who usta swim back and forth across the Rio Grande, to make $ for his family. The 1st time he returned, everybody asked him what it was like up north. "The gringos are very nice people," he replied; "there's only one thing that gets them angry: they don't like to be reminded that they are corpses."


Sounds like he never uses the phrase "Dual Process," then. As for mental operations: nothing new there, as far as I can see, except his terminology.


Great slogan, I love it. As far as who's in the W.H.: no, not a lunatic douchebag just yet, but take heart: American presidents have been destroying the country ever since Reagan. Just look at how much worse off things are now than they were in 2008. Life is adrift, meaningless, and these words describe Obama as well. He's nothing but a Nowhere Man, and Americans are very clearly Nowhere People. Hillary will continue the pattern of crisis management, but this is an m.o. that can only hurt us. And then, god willing, we'll finally get a Trump or a Shaneka in the Oval Office in 2024 (or maybe my personal favorite, Lorenzo Riggins), sworn in in Jan. 2025, and--fasten yr seat belt, dude, this is gonna be a barrel o' laughs.

As for smartfones, I think it's time to ram one up every American's ass, so s/he can communicate thru sphincter control.


4:32 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Partners in genocide dept.:


11:06 AM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,


Just to piggyback on Sean's comments, there's a general unease about the future of our spasmodic globalized capitalist economy. You're right, capitalism does have a certain flexibility to it, but its future is far from secure. The whole thing hinges on resource extraction, consumption, and heavy reliance on long lines of credit that stretch circuitously back to major financial centers whose only consideration is their own bottom line, i.e. capital accumulation at the expense of others. And now we can throw the dying planet into the equation. Increasingly, the world will probably become more and more like the situation that Greece faces today: a great pawn shop w/people perpetually in debt, stupendous inequality, massive unemployment, and a very uncertain future.

I'm convinced that the underground story of industrial capitalist progress is downward mobility -- a descent into social oblivion, really. Sure, it did produce upward mobility, but the costs were huge... I think that this is/will be the case wherever a form of rapacious capitalism is practiced. I read (I think it was Ronald Wright "What is America") that in 1820, 80 percent of Americans were self-employed -- a definition which meant that people retained land, had common rights to woodlands and grazing rights, and the ability to fish and hunt. In other words, the ability to subsist outside of *any* industrial capitalist orbit. In fact, "unemployment" was not even invented as a census category until the 1870s. By 1940, however, the number of self-employed had shrunk to 20 percent. Indeed, 80 percent of Americans were now locked into a vigorous competitive hustling commercial civilization; submitting to it quite freely as MB correctly points out. Where has it gotten us? Trump? Hillary? Cell fones? Kim's rump? Ironically, this was the kind of situation that Southerners were desperately trying to prevent when they went to war in 1861. Indeed, handing the much touted and celebrated competitive free market model to a Southerner, was like handing a crucifix to a vampire.

Anyway, this is Darwinian war to the death that we are engaged in, no doubt about it. It's hard to predict what will occur and what the fallout will be, but one thing's for sure: faith in economic growth will not save us. Nor will it led to a new pathway to freedom.


2:03 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Unfortunately, I don't post Anons. Suggest you get a real handle and re-send yr message. Possible handles: Hans Schmaltzkopf, Franz Scheisskopf, and Herr Kopf.


5:27 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


This is the link that Anon (above) sent in:


It's basically the argument that I make in the last chapter of my Japan bk.


6:23 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

And yet another mini-massacre (but who's counting?):


6:43 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

The day the music died dept.:


6:45 PM  
Anonymous Dawgzy said...

"Dung of the devil". Who writes his stuff? http://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/07/13/pope-calls-world-youth-rise-against-global-capitalism?utm_campaign=shareaholic&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=socialnetwork

6:50 PM  
Anonymous Cranston Butterworth III said...

"Sounds like he never uses the phrase 'Dual Process,' then. As for mental operations: nothing new there, as far as I can see, except his terminology."

Hmm, in that case, you should contact the Nobel committee, so that they can take Kahneman's Nobel Prize back.

8:08 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I guess he's got some gd speechwriters, what can I say? I wd have preferred "hot dung," but just plain ol' dung is OK as well. Also, he needed to add that the dung of capitalism was reproduced inside the heads of Americans, but inexplicably left that out. I'm thinking *I* might apply for a Vatican speechwriting job, but my Latin and Italian are rather weak. However, Francis is from Argentina, so perhaps he'd be OK w/my writing in Spanish.


8:11 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Well hopefully there's more to his bk than that, eh? Or else they gave the award for other work of his, who knows? But if it was for that fairly trite stuff quoted by Yossi, then a stiff letter to the Committee wd not be entirely outta place, and hopefully you'll help me draft it. Besides, think of all the mis-awarded Nobels: Obama, Henry Kissinger, etc. In general, people get far too worked up over the N.P., I'm thinking.

Love yr handle, BTW.


8:39 PM  
Anonymous J S RANK said...

Miscellaneous musings, ala Sidney Harris. Brilliant CGO Daily News / Sun-Times writer.
Like the handle, but how abt BRYAN Cranston Butterworth III ?

New one for Anons: Mahatma Cane Jeeves.

AFA "Dung of the devil"...pretty good. Could have been "Diarrhea of the Dictator Class". Prolly too long.
I remember Pres. Harry Truman had a short speech to a 'tea and crumpets' ladies crowd, where he mentioned numerously of the MANURE that the Republican's were spewing. Aghast, some of the ladies implored 1st lady Bess Truman to have the Pres. use the term 'fertilizer'. Bess replied, " Honey, you should know the time I had to get him to say 'manure'. "

Ran onto another Sci-fi series now in aftermarket that looks promising: "Fringe".

Dealing with local A-H's as usual. I smile and wave at everyone, and the corroded hearts and minds think I'm crazy. The local 'homeless' respond in kind. We even talk. Sure, some of them are loony. Some are even batshit crazy. But most are friendly. And EVERYONE has a story ! Some of them compelling. Better than most of the dreck that passes for literature these days ( excepting the Omnipotent Seer of the Universe, our blog benefactor, MB ).

Have plenty of material for my cartoons: Tsipras and the Greeks. And Donald Trump !
Manna from who knows where ? " I thank whatever gods may be for my unconquerable soul ".

IDK, ...what if GOD or the gods were morons ?
That would explain a lot.

WAFer ON !

12:30 AM  
Blogger Juliet Cash said...

Miles, Sean and MB and wafers

Progress,,, isn't that a loosely defined term after all? Whichever advantages some privileged folks had back in the 1820's others didn't. Native Americans weren't after all too fond of the property rights and privileges of white settlers. Women were practically erased from public life and beyond marriage and raising children most peasant white women were beasts of burden and serfs to men. Look up the daily life duties of a married peasant white woman living on a farm.( refer to Howard Zinn's People's History of the US) it was nothing short of slavery. the US might have had a lot of land owners but there was still great wealth inequality. Plenty of oppression to go around. Hasn't our existential problem already been defined by Marx: class struggle- and isn't what individuals and societies do to ameliorate or rid themselves of it what makes them become more humane? More progressive?

We seem to always swim back to inequality and then return to snatch out a bit more of freedom in the form of wealth redistribution. " A free man knows when he has has enough", Dr. Berman noted, but try feeling free at $7 dollars an hour in the US. Anyway, my original point is that we have the technological ability to feed and cloth and shelter every single one of the 7 billion residents of planet earth. But That will require giving up competition- hustling- and start sharing. Could it be that sharing isn't attractive because scarcity is what manufactures the attractiveness of the ruling classes? How different are we to our ape ancestors? . Our Darwinian instincts to dominate to get access to more sex - Donald Trumps' of the world- are our valued model. Working for a living - our most cherished American value- only masks mankind's true motivations: get access to more women. And so pre industrial civilization again might sound great to some folks but it isn't anything to feel great about if you are a woman, a slave or a "lesser human" who is conscious of history.

David Hume
"Sex and hunger make the world go round"

This quote talks about the need to earn a living.

"We should do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian Darwinian theory he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living."-
R. Buckminster Fuller

2:08 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Two things:

1. It's a tad long. Try to limit posts to half a pg max, thanks.
2. Best to send messages to most recent post; no one reads the old stuff.

Onward, Downward-


4:14 PM  

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