September 22, 2015

The Clark University Lecture

Dear Wafers-

About three years ago at this time I gave a lecture at Clark University in Mass. entitled "The Waning of the Modern Age." I was vaguely aware that they recorded it, and I may have asked them for the link, or may have just forgotten about it--I can't remember. Whatever the reason, the link never got posted on this blog. But Wafers are an enterprising lot, as we all know, and one of you guys managed to dig the link up from the Clark U. archives and send it to me. I don't think the talk has any surprises in it for you at this point, but I thought I'd post it anyway, just for the heck of it (plus the Q&A at the end). So here it is: enjoy!

http://commons.clarku.edu/videoarchive/62/

181 Comments:

Blogger Jacob James said...

Anonymous Rusty Snag wrote:

Dr. Berman,

Hello. I enjoyed the article you posted about the little boy with the Mohawk haircut. Did you notice that he attended Arrowhead Elementary School? This irony was probably lost on the Americans who read the article.



There is quite a history to the use of Native American imagery in contemporary American culture. Noam Chomsky even mentioned it in a piece on the assassination of Osama bin Laden:

"The remnants of that hapless race [Native Americans] protested vigorously. Choice of the name [Operation Geronimo] is reminiscent of the ease with which we name our murder weapons after victims of our crimes: Apache, Blackhawk. Tomahawk,… We might react differently if the Luftwaffe were to call its fighter planes "Jew" and "Gypsy". "

The full article can be found here: http://www.chomsky.info/articles/201105--.htm

And here is a comprehensive list of weapons named after native tribes:
https://medium.com/war-is-boring/twenty-u-s-weapons-named-after-native-americans-8b88e2c7ed12

1:40 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

MB,

I started reading Sex At Dawn yesterday and I just ran across athought from you in part 1 chapter 4. Wasn't sure if you knew about it.

3:10 PM  
Anonymous Divas Butler said...

To return to a discussion had in the previous thread about how pundits and intellectuals such as Professor Alfred McCoy are writing articles suggesting that Prez Obama and his administration are really a bunch of brilliant strategists and chessmasters with outstanding foresight whom history will ultimately vindicate; What would people like McCoy make of the following article:
http://news.antiwar.com/2015/09/22/new-us-trained-rebels-in-syria-gave-their-weapons-to-al-qaeda/
Personally this article made me want to jump up and chant USA! USA ! USA! for 5 minutes.

5:31 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dan-

Never heard of Sex at Dawn, actually; I take it the authors were referring to Wandering God? I'm very much in favor of sex at dawn, altho I find that dusk is also OK. Plus, on the same Amazon page, below it, is a bk entitled The Ethical Slut. This seems even more intriguing. I really do like the notion of ethical sluts running around the countryside, perhaps having sex at dawn. Whee!

mb

5:34 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Oh mother, tell your children
Not to do what I have done
Spend your lives in sin and misery
In the House of the Rising Sun

Violent beating of New Orleans McDonald's worker:

http://foxct.com/2015/09/05/louisiana-women-arrested-after-video-of-violent-fight-with-mcdonalds-worker-surfaces

Yawn... I think I'll whip up a batch of potato knishes.

Miles

6:29 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jeff-

Why is it always at McDonald's? Can you imagine something like this at Canter's? Fist fights over matzo ball soup?

Divas-

It's possible the US military really doesn't care what happens in any conflict situation, so long as we can keep on making war.

al-

Sorry, too long, chico...

mb

6:57 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Well, Wafers, here's what I conclude: progs are fun--entertaining, even. I esp. enjoy it when they call for revolution, or claim that we are on the verge of one. For an antidote to this mishugas, check out the essay by Barrington Moore in the 30 Jan 69 issue of the NYRB, "Revolution in America?" It's as relevant now as it was then, perhaps more so. Moore seeks "to distinguish between rhetorical pipe dreams and real possibilities." He notes that one factor that always exists in a revolnary situation is a sharp conflict of interest w/in the dominant class. Do we have that today, in 2015? Not at all: the 1% know exactly what they want, namely $ and control. Moore writes: "the predatory solution of token reform at home and counter-revolutionary imperialism abroad continues to work." Touche.

Another necessary factor for revolution is loss of unified control over the army and the police: "without control or neutralization of the government's armed forces, revolutionary movements do not have the shimmer of a ghost of a chance." Do revolutionary movements today (which are, progs pls note, nonexistent) have control over the armed forces, or any chance of having it? Last time I looked, no. Moore asserts that no significant social transformation can take place "unless the insurgent elements can neutralize or gain control of the instruments of violence." Rotsa ruck, guys.

Moore also pts out that urban revolnary movements are short-lived; that "there has never been any such thing as a long-term revolutionary mass movement in an urban environment." The creation of a liberated area, he goes on, is virtually impossible, because to sustain itself, "any oppositional political movement needs to be able to obtain for its members day-to-day benefits and protect them against reprisals." But left-wing movements cannot provide this; all they manage to provide is symbolic gestures. In addition, the mass of the underlying population in an industrial society "has enough fear of the prospects of liberation...to make excellent recruits for 'spontaneous' violence and pogroms."

(This is one reason I keep saying that any revoln that succeeds in the US will come from the rt, not the left. Here's a telling stat: In the wake of the Kent State shootings of 1970, Gallup conducted a poll wh/revealed that 58% of Americans believed that the (unarmed) students who were killed were responsible for their own deaths. Meanwhile, the progs, in the teeth of data of this sort, keep on insisting that the American people have some sort of revolutionary potential.)

(continued below)

8:38 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Moore doesn't, of course, use the phrase "Dual Process," but he says that there might be a chance for liberated areas "if the process proceeded slowly and quietly and managed to establish communities w/considerable autonomy." But he doubts whether such a process cd change the larger society (so do I), and worries that such communities might remain distinct only in trivial ways, such as dress or eating habits--in wh/case they wd be a type of "tourist attraction."

However, what if there is a major breakdown or collapse of the political apparatus? The white population, in particular, he says, wd be more likely to be angry at the disorder than at the govt. They wd be likely to support whatever leader promised to get the electricity turned on and the gas pumps and TV sets working again. (My agent once said that all the govt needs to do to avert revolution is offer the public more satellite TV channels. Smart guy.) As a result, a major disruption wd be likely to result in martial law (something I've been predicting for some time now, here on this blog), or equally tragic consequences. And even if some left-wing group did seize power, "a revolution that tries to remold society against the mores and folkways of the mass of the population must turn to terror and propaganda on a gigantic scale in order to stay in control." The outlook is not gd, in short.

None of this, of course, will make any difference for the progs. As I've already indicated, progs need the illusion of revolution, or of the possibility of dramatic positive social change, to feel any sense of identity at all--that their lives are worthwhile. There will be no wake-up call for them, only more and more agitation for revolution in the face of the sort of contradictory facts and arguments advanced by folks like Barrington Moore--a great historian of revolution. The progs are not great historians; most of them aren't even historians. But they are certainly Americans, in the sense that Walt Disney was. Fantasy ueber alles (and entertainment, as I said earlier), is what they are offering us.

mb

8:40 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: Wafers: I forgot to mention that I have a special treat 4u. Many of u know I was in Amsterdam in May, traveling around with an old friend of mine. Unbeknownst to me, this friend took a foto when I was standing in front of the statue of Spinoza. He later sent it to me, and the meaning was obvious: Here we have the two greatest Jewish thinkers of the last 400 years, face to face (and both of whom were excommunicated, I think it's fair to say). For those of you who wd like a copy of this collector's item, write me at mauricio@morrisberman.com.

9:06 PM  
Blogger Marc L Bernstein said...



If capitalism makes it it the end of this century, as you suggested that it might in your talk at Clark College then it might outlive much of what we currently call civilization. Martin Rees (Our Final Hour --- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Our_Final_Hour) gives us only about a 50-50 chance of being around past the year 2100. I don't really know about near-term extinction, a popular (yes that's macabre) topic in some circles and on some internet sites. However, a catastrophic die-off is virtually inevitable this century.

So the ongoing collapse goes something like this, roughly (but not necessarily) in this order:

the USA
capitalism
industrial civilization (see Richard C. Duncan's Olduvai theory)
civilization
the human species
a whole lot of other species as the 6th mass extinction continues

onward and downward!



Another anecdote on hustling in the USA:

http://www.rawstory.com/2015/09/these-37-tweets-show-how-the-pharma-ceo-gouging-aids-patients-is-even-worse-than-you-think/

The above link is about

"Martin Shkreli, the former hedge manager turned pharmaceutical businessman who jacked the price of a life-saving drug from $13.50 per tablet to $750"

What kind of a psychopath do you have to be to do this to persons suffering horribly from AIDS?

9:53 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Marc-

No, it'll be finished by 2100. But it will take a gd part of the century to disintegrate.

mb

9:57 PM  
Anonymous Edward said...


American dream and American hustling rolled together. I tell ya, someone needs to write volume 2 of "Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us" by Robert D. Hare. If this is what capitalism is about, please give me socialism and communism. That one man must engage in primitive accumulation of money at the expense of other people's lives is simply uncivilized and barbaric and wicked. His crime/mindset deserves the death penalty.

"Meet Martin Shkreli, a 32-year-old former hedge fund manager turned pharmaceutical kingpin who's in the news this week for buying a 60-year-old drug that treats life-threatening parasitic infections in AIDS and cancer patients, and overnight hiking its price from $13.50 a pill to $750 - an increase of 5,455 %"

Read it all here:

http://www.commondreams.org/further/2015/09/21/health-care-america-profit-driven-somebody-invariably-consummate-douchebag

10:01 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Ed-

Well, at least the word 'douche bag' is getting some currency, at long last. He's just the extreme form of the average American, whose life is abt hustling, and not a whole lot more. This is like Shaw's story of asking a woman if she wd sleep w/him for 500 pounds. She agreed to do it. Then he said, "How about 5?" "Certainly not!", she exclaimed; "what kind of woman do you think I am?" "Madam, we've already established that; now we're just arguing abt the price."

mb

11:02 PM  
Anonymous lack of coherence said...

that link is not user friendly.

they make you download silverlight.

maybe someone could post this to a better site?

1:03 AM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

Today, and for the next few days in America, it's gonna be All Pope All the Time. Road closures, travel delays, "enhanced" security measures, the whole Geschichte.

With seemingly the entire press corps breathlessly following this story, I note the absence of someone whose insights and reporting were always a valuable counterpoint to the blatherings of the mainstream press. I refer to Father Guido Sarducci, former gossip columnist and rock critic for the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano. Though his current whereabouts are not known, I thought perhaps the community might enjoy looking backward for some earlier commentary from Fr. Sarducci.

First, his piece entitled "Life Is a Job":

http://youtu.be/e7ykYHwG5i4

Second, a David Letterman interview from the late 1980s:

http://youtu.be/l6tEWWmdOyI

And finally, an interview with Canadian Broadcasting Corp in which he offers an inside view of the selection of Karol Wojtyła, Pope John Paul II.

http://youtu.be/ipmBwwOO6ZE

7:42 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

lack-

Just scroll down to the screen at the bottom and click on the arrow (>) to start the video.

Jas-

Ja, die ganze Geschichte. I suppose it's better than O.J. 24/7 for an entire year.

mb

9:12 AM  
Blogger Juliet Cash said...

Wafers, and Dr. Berman,

There's a new film " on the foreclosure crisis by the title "99 Homes" that dwells with what people who got caught on the real estate nubble had to do to survive.
http://www.salon.com/2015/09/22/sinister_visions_of_america_in_crisis_hollywood_finally_gets_foreclosures_right_in_99_homes/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=socialflow
Ground zero is Florida. The story line is a young man who got evicted from his home where he lived with his mother and daughter and had to live in a motel. His only job opportunity was to work with the same real estate hustler in charge of his eviction for which he worked for 6 months until one day he had to evict his best friend. When I read about the CEO that hiked the price of a lifesaving pill 5000% and compared it to this type of small time hustlers I thought that the greatest amount of guilt and shame must be given to the ones who have more power to make different choices. Power is freedom of choice. Although there might not be much of a difference between a $5 and a $500 dollar hooker her moral position as a hustler is way above the moral position of the John who hired her in the first place. But our society celebrates the John while condemning the hooker. A John has far more freedom than a hooker in walking away from the deal. So does the CEO has more freedom to price the lifesaving pill more fairly than the salesperson that he hires to market it among doctors etc. sure this culture is all about hustling but the makers of the system itself bear the most responsibility - and are the emptiest souls. And that means that the educated, universities, and professionals, executives, politicians and the power positions bear the brunt of the blame rather than the plebeians.

Anyway, returning to "99 Homes," I like when a filmmaker doesn't create a black and white villain archetype.

"But Shannon also gives this corrupt profiteer a soul. In a memorable speech, Carver says that he got into his business to put people into homes, not take them out. When greedy banks and an inattentive government created the bubble and the crash, he had to adapt. “I have two daughters, I wasn’t going to let them live in some hotel,” Carver thunders. “America doesn’t bail out losers, America was built by bailing out winners.” By the end you may not agree with Carver’s methods, but you understand his worldview, the same one that Nash must grapple with."

JC

12:08 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Juliet-

I don't remember the exact details of the Shaw story, but I believe he was talking to a high-society lady at a cocktail party, who had a lot of choice. His pt to her was that it was only a matter of degree; wh/is true for hustling as well, I think.

mb

1:11 PM  
Anonymous COS said...

Juliet,

I typically enjoy your insights. Your post reminds me of Mencken, when he noted that the poor automatically are gods children and the rich are automatically in league with the devil. I don't know that moral systems are means tested so to speak although that is common in the Marxian vernacular and common with the progs. Plenty of great people who are poor as well as a slew of despicable ones as well. True also for the rich, some a great people and others evil sociopaths (and true for the poor as well.). My father was very rich. One year he provided school supplies to the children of an entire housing project in Baltimore (over 200) including shirts, backpacks, notebooks, sneakers, jackets. Some 25 mothers complained that they did not like the things because they were "shitty brands", and called my father a cheap jew--nice huh? As for the hookers, selling sex is as a practical matter much like selling bananas. If I walk away from expensive produce its not a case where the produce guy is more moral than I am. In a Smithian sense we did not come to agree on price is all. As for the foreclosure issue in Florida, those who got foreclosed are hardly victims. The cases of 40k a year teachers say getting a liar loan for 700k in hope of flipping the place for 800k but then things do not work out is not a situation where I cry at her misfortune. Not to many white hats and black hats out there. Life is well--ambiguous.

2:30 PM  
Anonymous Pastrami and Coleslaw said...

Lack: Try using Internet Explorer, or install a Silverlight extension for Chrome. You might need to download Silverlight even for IE.

3:33 PM  
Anonymous Drippings said...

Morris,

You're right about the progs and their "revolution." The progs are mostly concerned with policing people's language for anything that might hurt other people's feelings. At American colleges professors have to be very careful not to say anything that might hurt the feelings of their students. This is the result of a cultural program that was imported into the US by a group of postmodernist French intellectuals during the 80's, who in turn borrowed alot of their ideas from Chairman Mao.
It's very hard for me to imagine how progs could organize their own armies and mount a resistance against the right-wing militarist elements in the US, when their primary political focus is creating an environment where no one ever gets his/her feelings hurt.

Drippings

5:50 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Drip-

Yes, many progs have bit the dust on this blog, trying to shame me or other Wafers abt being politically incorrect. They can kiss my tushie. Meanwhile, didju hear the one abt the rabbi who went into a bar and...

mb

6:00 PM  
Blogger dale said...

Dr. Berman, thanks for pointing us to the lecture. I always enjoy your lectures and radio/podcasts immensely. They are all so good, I save them and listen to them again. I did bristle just slightly tho, as you came on strong as you ever have for Socialism. I associate Socialism with Progressives, thus my antipathy. In its favor, of course, is that it is not Capitalism, but Anarchism isn't either and presumably wouldn't include any tyrannical Progressive schemes.

#2 -- this story was at the local tv news website:
Teen seriously injured in CRR cliff fall
Fell 40 to 50 feet trying to retrieve dropped cellphone

http://www.ktvz.com/news/Teen-seriously-injured-in-CRR-cliff-fall/35441476
It's not a really big town here and they have a moderator who absolutely doesn't let you riff on the tragedies of others--How boring! Especially since this is probably the best setup since Shaneka Torres. So I had to bring it here. So now we know cell phones can kill by brain cancer and by people following them off cliffs. We do have a great rescue crew here and they did work courageously into the night to recover the iphone6. Its touch and go but everyone is praying it can be restored back to working order--don't know what happened to the teen.

7:34 PM  
Anonymous Brian said...

WAFers--

Today I had a few most lovely exchanges today at the ol' "institution of higher learning" where I teach. I'm fasting this week, something I do twice a year (for a range of reasons . . . sacred, physiological, and otherwise). When a few colleagues inquired why I was skipping lunch, I politely explained. They, meanwhile, seemed absolutely spooked until I shared that, yes, I also happen to fast to enhance cognitive functioning (although not the primary reason). "Whew" seemed to be the collective response from colleagues, as if to say, "Oh, it's 'safe' to talk about *only* because I mentioned that there was a 'cognitive' [read: "scientific"] rationale for doing so." I notice the same phenomenon when conversations come up about yoga: "intelligent" folks in the academy will spook if I share that there's a somatic or sacred reason why I practice. However, it becomes "safe" to discuss if I mention that yoga helps reduce stress (i.e., "whew . . . there's a scientific basis").

I'm simply amazed at non-WAFers' seemingly absolute *fear* of interiority; these folks are *incredibly* wounded. No wonder "cognitive neuroscience" is all the rage on campuses; all we need to "solve the problem" of being human is "more and better science." Of course, Dr. B, your trilogy on consciousness immediately came to mind today.

Pass the pastrami; O&D--

Brian

7:37 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

New Word:

progolution

noun / prog-o-lu-tion

: the usually violent attempt to end the rule of one government and start a new one for entertainment purposes.

: a sudden, extreme, or complete change in the way people live, work, etc. w/out really changing.

: an instance of spinning inside an orb lined w/mirrors

synonyms: progvolt, doltriot, dookiebellion, fucktardapocalypse

Miles

8:23 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Brian-

Never forget that most Americans are beyond hope. That wd make a gd post-it for yr bathrm mirror. I think it's fair to say that they have no souls, and therefore are unreachable. Just feed 'em what they wanna hear; you'll stay employed longer.

dale-

Well, some form of democratic socialism wd be a lot better than what we have rt now, but it remains hard to achieve, and doesn't solve the problem that socialism is very much into economic growth and technological innovation. I guess Marx can be excused for not talking abt eco-sustainability (or cell phones).

Jeff-

I get a charge outta progvolt. Zowie!

mb

9:14 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

This looks gd:

http://www.amazon.com/Heart-Goes-Last-Novel-Positron/dp/0385540353/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1443063180&sr=1-1&keywords=the+heart+goes+last+by+margaret+atwood

10:56 PM  
Anonymous J S RANK said...

Been awhile. Capitalism = economic addiction. Most don't know...whether they are 'winners' or 'losers' that they both are constantly degraded and de-spiritualized by an invention that is slowly using them up.
It just drains everything, and grows nothing.

Poor suckers on all sides never see this. The 'rich' ( though better off, temporarily ) and the 'poor' all get to drown together.

A 'Winner takes All' monopoly system is an extinction equation.

11:23 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

JS-

Too true. I think the quote I have toward the end of my lecture, from Shadia Drury, regarding the modern age in general, is rt on the mark. We are in the grip of "vast, impersonal forces" (TS Eliot) that move geologically, and that determine the details and texture of our lives. But these forces operate dialectically: as Drury notes, the modern age opened on a great, positive note (Pico della Mirandola, e.g.) and eventually turned into its opposite, crushing the life out of everything. This was true for the Roman republic and for the feudal age as well, and it will be true for the socioeconomic formation that replaces capitalism. Nothing is forever, and all civilizations have bright and dark sides; this is just the nature of reality. It's why I ended my lecture w/the quote from Mark Strand, and the suggestion that we probably need to slow down, stand back, and get some perspective on the whole situation. History, after all, moves much more slowly than the life of any one human being.

Of course, regardless of the formation in question, it's great to be born during a time that the curve is rising, and depressing to be living thru the 'endgame', wh/is where we are today. Hence Johan Huizinga's famous book, "The Waning of the Middle Ages," wh/characterized the winding down of feudalism as a period of pervasive psychological depression. After all, early phases of capitalism were pretty upbeat, and hustling in a limited context can be a lotta fun. Richard Powers makes this pt pretty well in his fabulous novel, "Gain," in wh/2 brothers run a soap and candle shop on the Boston pier in the 18C. But by the late 20C, the co. they started has become a huge corporate pharmaceutical firm, wh/is poisoning rivers and causing cancer--the typical capitalist scenario today. In a word, scale is a very important issue in the nature of economies--perhaps even more impt than the system itself.

Food for thought, anyway.

mb

11:57 PM  
Blogger Juliet Cash said...

@COS
thinking. I take you might be a libertarian? In the libertarian universe there are no unequal power relationships. Everyone has the same ability/intelligence, same access to resources and same access to knowledge/information to make optimal choices for themselves. Which is why in their world there are no victims. Everyone equally owns to themselves- isn't that your perspective?
Who has more access to information to make gains on a stock purchase- the CEO of the company whose stock is in question, the institutional investor, or a mom and pops investor? Isn't the CEO an insider? Which is why we have certain laws against insider trading. Democracies operate on that knowledge- that unequal power relationships can easily corrupt those with more power/access.
Look at Donald Trump. Why do you think he is feared so much by the other establishment contestants? The same people who created him. Because he owns to himself. We already know his womanizing, his bankruptcies, his narcissism, his racism and yet people are seduced by his grandiosity. Because we have a world in which money is power. Power to make the rules. Power not to be manipulated. People crave being on that top 1% because they think that's the only way to own to themselves. That's why the little manager working on any firm craves to be on top- for freedom to do anything they desire according to their own wishes. And he will obey what comes from the top in the hope that one day he will inherit that position. Money and being self directed are one and the same under capitalism. By commoditizing everything capitalism sees wealth as freedom- which is why people accumulate it. Communism encourages social capital- which is what capitalism has a great disdain for.
And so when the teacher whose wages are stagnant, her work no longer controlled by her creativity, three kids to feed and a husband whose prospects are equally diminished as hers sees other people less educated than her getting ahead by speculating in real estate she is seduced by flipping a home. But the institutional underwriter who has access to actuaries who can tell him who is most likely to default on a loan goes ahead and approves that loan because he can pass the risk unto small investors who in the case of default can hold the bag. he has many times greater moral responsibility. Not only he has more access to information but his choices effect a greater # of people than the choice of the teacher to flip a home. Same with the prostitute and the man who hires her. He has no desire to know her- he eschews that information- because In knowing her particular situation the morality of buying her sex begins to tickle his conscience- if he even has one. Believing in buying Sex is already an indication he has very little left. As for the rich making donations I wonder how many charities would be even necessary in a world where resources and knowledge were shared equally? Perhaps we can ask a Native American.he might have access to that information if it weren't that long ago our ancestors eviscerated his tribe and the information.

JC

10:18 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jul-

Try to post only once every 24 hrs, and keep yr post to 1/2 page maximum. Thanks.

mb

10:51 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

COS-

Wasn't able to post it, since 24 hrs hadn't elapsed since yr last one. Pls wait till a day has gone by, and re-send. Thank you.

mb

12:10 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

On the eve of Pope Francis's speech to a joint session of Congress, Jon Schwarz of the website/blog "The Intercept" wrote a piece entitled "The One Thing Pope Francis Could Say That Would Truly Stun Congress."

Schwarz wrote: "The Pope could also strongly criticize capitalism, as he did in great detail in his 2013 apostolic exhortation The Joy of the Gospel."

The article expands on this idea by quoting from a papal speech delivered in June 2015 in Santa Cruz, Bolivia at the World Meeting of Popular Movements. The Pope indicts the colonialism and greed that has made paupers of much of humanity and that underlies many programs and policies of the First World nations.

You may find it interesting, I believe it fits within the general framework of MB's works and criticism. Find it here:

http://interc.pt/1FuGLq4

12:29 PM  
OpenID vwclown said...

Hello Dr. Berman and Wafers:

Thanks, MB, for posting the lecture. It's always refreshing to hear you speak, Morris; reminding me how I ended up here at DAA. - Fruitlady

12:35 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Ah, Woman of Fruit! Glad u enjoyed it.

Meanwhile, here's an abs. fabulous documentary: "The United States of Amnesia." Very moving. It's a bio of Gore Vidal.

mb

1:11 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

More on Gore:

One thing that comes out very clearly in this documentary is that Gore was a Wafer, down to his socks--e.g. the denunciation of empire, the rejection of phoniness, and the frank recognition that the American people are clueless and stupid (and that as a result, democracy is impossible for us). There are a lot of great quotes from Gore, but two of my favorites are: "As for the 20th century, I wdn't have missed it for the world"; and what his partner, Howard Austen, said to him just before he (Austen) died: "It all went by so very fast, didn't it?" I feel both of these sentiments very deeply.

mb

1:36 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

MB,

Yes, the citation was for Wandering God. The main author, Chris Ryan, was on Joe Rogan's podcast recently. He went in to some depth on the reasons why he loves Spain and hates the US.

http://podcasts.joerogan.net/podcasts/christopher-ryan-phd-2

2:06 PM  
Anonymous SeanKerrigan.com said...

Those having difficulty watching the speech (due to problems with Silverlight or whatever) can listen to the audio of the presentation here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qAno20iKHXM&feature=youtu.be

4:26 PM  
Blogger Christian Schulzke said...

What kind of a psychopath do you have to be to do this to persons suffering horribly from AIDS?

It would be comforting if he was a psychopath, but I seriously doubt that he is. Rather is an all to typical example of an average Joe Blow American businessman.

He is simply too young and cocky, and lacks the restraint people of his ilk have to avoid crowing about what he is doing.

4:29 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Sean-

Thanks!

mb

5:24 PM  
Anonymous 11459115 said...

Yet more bullshit from racist Morris "The Sky Is Falling" Berman. You whine about America, yet you continue to come back and profit from it like the schmuck you are. If it weren't for America, you'd be eating tacos out of the gutters.

5:46 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

114-

"Haters gonna hate!" I love it when trash like yrself shows up here--confirms my view of the US in spades. Listen, douche bag, my so-called profits are practically nonexistent; I make next to nothing in royalties, and that's been the case all my life, whether in Mexico or the US. Wdn't it be nice 4u to know what yr talking abt?

Meanwhile, this won't make any difference 4u, but what kind of a life do *you* have, spending yr time attacking someone who is trying to make a contribution to social and political understanding? This is what yr life is abt? Are u proud of this? What a fragment of dreck u.r., amigo. You call me a racist w/o proof, and don't even have the guts to sign in w/a real name.

Anyway, I'm not expecting u to learn anything from this; to go out and actually get yrself a life. I ran this poison from u to demonstrate to the Wafers (a) what the US consists of, and (b) what I hafta put up with (garbage like yrself). In future, I shall delete anything you post w/o rdg it, so perhaps send yr hate mail to Noam or Ralph. What an awful, awful human being u.r., and how sick u must feel inside, w/all that bitterness within u (note that poison corrodes the vessel that contains it).

mb

5:57 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Who says we don't have choice in America?:

http://www.latimes.com/food/dailydish/la-dd-starbucks-pumpkin-spice-toasted-graham-latte-20150924-story.html

6:34 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

114-

Well, when the sky does fall, I hope it lands on yr ass. In case you haven't noticed, you need to get some help, pronto. Why not take up croquet or lawn bowling? How about building a treehouse? Better still, find a shrink who can give you lessons on what it means to be a human being. Good luck, klumnik!

MB-

Thanks for the heads-up regarding the Gore Vidal documentary. I surely would've missed it.

There will never be another like Gore in a million years. Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

1. "Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn."

2. "I never miss a chance to have sex or appear on television."

MB, Wafers-

How about that Pope Francis? Airing America's dirty laundry before Congress. Have I died and went to Heaven?

Miles

6:56 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jeff-

What particularly impresses me abt these trollfoons is that they actually think I'm rich. Where they get this idea is beyond me. Some yrs ago I estimated all the hrs I spent wrtg bks, and all the royalties I had earned, and divided the latter by the former. It came to 2.5 cents/hr. So much for lucrative careers in wrtg.

Of course, 114 wrote back immediately, but I just deleted it w/o rdg it; I assumed it was just more poison. We've discussed this b4: you tell them that making a career out of hatred is wasting their lives, and that they might better take up croquet or lawn bowling. So what do they do? Respond w/more hatred! Not too bright a crowd, these payasos.

mb

7:04 PM  
Anonymous Drippings said...

There was an article in Salon some time ago written by an author who had published a book that appeared on the NYT bestseller list for a short time. A year later he had earned a whopping $6,000. And yet in the US people commonly believe that you can get rich like J.K. Rowling by writing books. Indeed there are thousands of books with titles like "How To Get Rich Writing Fiction." Because of course anyone can put words on a page, right? So goes the logic of the typical American who doesn't even bother to read books but nevertheless believes that he or she is qualified to write them. Now the book market is saturated with millions of awful books, and the good books get lost in the crowded market. Not that they would be read by many Americans anyhow. Lets not forget that James Patterson is America's favorite author. And to a large extent television personalities such as Bill O'Reilly dominate the bestseller lists. It's as if the television set ate the book trade and then pooped it back out into a repulsive new form. I think when future historians look back on our age they will conclude that the television was the most powerful weapon ever created, both in terms of its subversive and destructive capabilities.

8:58 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

More on American intelligence:

http://edition.cnn.com/2015/09/23/politics/ben-carson-fundraising-muslim-comments-fox-and-friends/index.html?iref=obinsite

With regard to Gore Vidal: I can't remember where it was published, but shortly after DAA came out Gore did an article, half of which was a riff on the book (which I greatly appreciated, of course). He commented on my observations on how stupid Americans were, and shortly after did an interview in Toronto w/the Globe & Mail (issue of 9-10 June 2006) in which he called America "a nation of morons" and added that "stupidity excites me." What I particularly liked abt Gore in general was that he pulled no punches abt any subject he talked abt, whether it was Reagan or JFK or the Cold War; and he cdn't care less that calling Americans morons was politically incorrect. I also take pride in the fact (all modesty aside here) that of all the historians, sociologists, political commentators and whatnot who have attempted an analysis of the American condition during the last 50 years, only 2 of them--Gore and myself--identified the stupidity of Americans as a significant factor in the collapse of the country. Gore was a Wafer, not a prog, and I admire his commitment to reality above all else, to calling a spade a spade.

mb

10:29 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Bk rec: "Euphoria," by Lily King. In my Reenchantment book, 1981, I included 2 long chapters on the work of Gregory Bateson. "Euphoria" is the fictionalized version of a love triangle, and anthropology triangle, that flourished in New Guinea in the 30s--Margaret Mead, Reo Fortune (her 2nd husband), and Bateson (her 3rd), when they were all engaged in field work there. The bk is very rich; there is also a decent description of the work of Ruth Benedict that I enjoyed. It is, however, fiction: a good bit of what King invents in the story is just that, i.e., invention. But a terrific read nonetheless.

mb

8:23 AM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Dr. Berman,

Check out John W. Whitehead’s article on today’s (25 Sept.) lewrockwell.com. You are mentioned in the third from the last paragraph, which includes a link to DAA. Here is the paragraph:

“Professor Morris Berman suggests that the problems plaguing us as a nation—particularly as they relate to the government—have less to do with our inattention to corruption than our sanctioning, tacit or not, of such activities. ‘It seems to me,’ writes Berman, ‘that the people do get the government they deserve, and even beyond that, the government who they are, so to speak.’”

See it at:

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2015/09/john-w-whitehead/you-are-supposed-to-be-distracted-and-diverted/

David Rosen

10:55 AM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Hello Wafers:

That Ben Carson story has given me an idea. Our community radio station is in the midst of our annual fundraising drive. In the past, I've tried raising money by using lame bribes such as giving away CD compilations in return for donations.

I have seen the light now, though. I'm going to say that Muslims shouldn't be allowed on the air. This might upset the hosts of the Pakistani and Arabic shows, but nertz to them, this is (almost) 'Merrica. I'm going for the dough.

About that CD...here's the first half:
1. Sphinx The Original Dixieland Jazz Band 1920
2. Skip, Skat, Doodle-Do Dixieland Jug Blowers 1926
3. 'Taint a Cow in Texas Margaret Whitmire 1927
4. That's How I Feel About You Guy Lombardo & his Orch. 1928
5. Persian Rug Charley Straight & his Orch. 1928
6. Broadway Melody Nat Shilkret Orchestra 1929
7. Maile Lau Liilii Mid Pacific Hawaiians 1929
8. Tight Whoopie Mozelle Alderson 1930
9. I'm Through with Love Bing Crosby 1931
10. Any Time, Any Day, Anywhere Chick Bullock 1933
11. Easy Rider Mae West 1933
12. Tidal Wave Fletcher Henderson & his Orch. 1934

I really hope this is under half a page.

11:43 AM  
Anonymous COS said...

MB: Great lecture. No easy solutions and indeed like so many pathologies the decline of the U.S. or any empire is over determined by many seen and many unseen and understood causes. Though the knuckleheadedness of humans seems to be a very prominent factor. It strikes me that many use the metaphor of Rome when referring to the U.S. Maybe an insult to Rome, perhaps the U.S. is more like the Hapsburg Empire but more aggressive?

JC: Nobody denies the existence of unbalanced power. Its not a 2015 thing but from 10,000 years ago and for as long as we inhabit this orb. My point is that I don't see the logic (and disagree in principle) with the idea that those with more power have more moral responsibility. How is that more determined? Is moral responsibility a function of income, power (however defined), responsibility (however defined--work or is it number of family dependents). Your example of the school teacher seduced by flipping houses seems to excuse the poor from making ethical choices. Its the sort of situational ethics immortalized by Bernstein and Sondheim in West Side Story--Gee Officer Krupke, the bit where the delinquent youths make sociological excuses for their delinquency. If there is to be any sort of moral system (whatever it may be, some categorical imperative) it should apply to all equally. But alas, no such system works. Despite some protestations and claim of loftier motives most of us humans are well animals. As for communism which you cite favorably it was a utopia and its pursuit entailed the death of millions. Prostititution is as they say the oldest profession. Protestations as to its unseemliness have been around in the west since the written word, not going to change ever. For some reason the pursuit of utopias seem to leave a lot of dead. I am not a libertarian and do my best to not adhere or follow any political programs (which are religions). If one needs to add meaning to the world, I find any of the old religions though flawed do a lot better to add meaning that belonging to the Sierra Club or stomping for Bernie. The world is chaotic and our oughts and shoulds are meaningless. I find living in the world as it is, taking solace in say the ideas of MB, Viktor Frankl the way to go (not Hayek or Misses) but as a practical matter, I will certainly do everything to insure my kids every single advantage and not feel one wit of guilt.

1:23 PM  
Anonymous Golf Pro said...

"Euphoria" is the fictionalized version of a love triangle, and anthropology triangle, that flourished in New Guinea in the 30s--Margaret Mead, Reo Fortune (her 2nd husband), and Bateson (her 3rd), when they were all engaged in field work there.

The thing is here, I wouldn't mind betting that the islanders of New Guinea had an absolutely brilliant sociological analysis of the behaviour of Mead/Fortune/Bateson, and better than anything that this triumvirate had of the natives of New Guinea.

4:22 PM  
Anonymous SeanKerrigan.com said...

Hey everyone. I found the Truthdig post where Vidal discusses (practically reviews) Berman's Dark Ages America. You can read it here: http://www.truthdig.com/dig/print/20060207_president_jonah_redux

Alternatively, you can listen to Vidal read the (slightly abridged) essay here: http://www.truthdig.com/dig/audio/20060207_president_jonah_redux

One last link for laughs. Here's a MadTV sketch from the 1990s on the nature of the US presidency: https://youtu.be/va71a7pLvy8

4:38 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Sean-

Many thanks. I had just forgotten where it was.

Golf-

I don't doubt it for a minute.

DR-

Thanks for the heads-up!

mb

5:53 PM  
Anonymous Drippings said...

Morris,

I have a question with regard to the quote above: "It seems to me that the people do get the government they deserve, and even beyond that, the government who they are, so to speak."
Before I pose it, let me just say: I'm not trying to be contentious or anything. I'm just trying to understand your point of view better.

Do you feel the same way about the Mexican people with respect to their government?

7:14 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

MB, Wafers-

I watched the Gore Vidal documentary late last night, via Netflix. It is outstanding; a fine tribute to one of the great philosophers of America. Be sure to stick around while the credits roll, as Vidal comes back into view and quietly says, "You know, the most powerful four words in the English language are: I told you so." Jesus, I got chills when I heard that...especially after he eviscerates the cursed George W. Bush administration. I'm in full agreement that Vidal was most certainly a Wafer for the very reasons that MB pointed out. The essence of the film, imo, is the realization that practically everything Vidal did and wrote was, as Jay Parini so eloquently states, "to save the Republic and defeat the Empire." I think the same thing could be said about MB's American Empire trilogy as well.

Meanwhile, I really think the time has come for Ben Carson to manage our affairs. Who better to channel the religious fears of millions of anti-Islamic American douche bags than Dr. Ben? We've shredded every other Constitutional protection; might as well finish off the one that permits the right to practice yr religion w/out discrimination. Besides, Article VI only gives readers a headache, yes? Here's what Jefferson said about this kind of issue at his first inaugural address: "Having banished from our land that religious intolerance under which mankind so long bled and suffered, we have gained little if we countenance a political intolerance." How un-American, right?

Miles

7:53 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Perhaps many of you know that the Pope is scheduled to be in my city, Philadelphia this Saturday and Sunday. About 1 1/2 million will be in attendance both days to see him. If what he has already said in Washington and NYC is any indication, he will speak about the perils of materialism, self-absorption, the excess of capitalism, unfair labor practices, and climate change. Needless to say, most people here will be using their I-phones to record the event. Will there even be 20 people in attendance who will note the sad irony that the I-phone is symbolic of all those things the Pope will rail against? I doubt it.

8:11 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Drip-

It's a fair question, to be sure, and one I've thought abt a lot. Which raises the question whether my assertion is true across the board. Probably not. But here's the Mexican situation, in any case. For the middle class, I'd hafta say yes. They were easily seduced, for example, in 2006 to vote against Lopez Obrador--whose vision was essentially that of FDR--by claims by the PAN that the guy was a communist and would take away their TV sets. The middle class had an oppty to vote for a fairer country, to move 2mm to the left, and refused to do it, being foolishly bulldozed by baseless fears. Even members of the PRD, confronted w/the fact that the US effectively runs the economic show down here, go into denial--I've seen it in action. So if these folks are going to bitch and moan about journalists getting bumped off, narcotraficantes terrorizing the northern states, Pena Nieto not giving a damn abt murdered students in Iguala, and so on--yes, they have only themselves to blame.

But for the 50% of the country living in poverty, it's a more complicated situation. Lots of them are indigenas; many don't even speak Spanish. They are caught in a web of history that goes back to Cortes, and that hasn't changed much since then. They have no access to information (as does the middle class), whether we are talking abt books or the Internet (a large % are illiterate as well), and centuries of oppression have left them passive, and fatalistic. This is not, quite obviously, the condition of the poor in America, who wd seem to be in a very different historical and sociological situation; who do have access to information, but whose idea of life is basically hustling--same as the rich, in fact. So I may be wrong, but it's a judgment call: the Mexican poor are victims, and don't deserve the govt they have; whereas the US poor (and certainly the middle class) are victims as well, but people w/the means and ability to see outside the box. They just don't want to; they wd prefer to try to game the system in their favor.

Another pt: for the poor in Mexico, it's not that they deserve the Mexican govt so much as they view it as irrelevant to their real interests, and they may be rt. (Benito Juarez, for example, the only indigena president Mexico ever had, is not known for having done much for his own people.) Historically speaking, it's hard to say that the govt ever did much for them, and so they pursue alternative routes, such as sneaking across the border in search of higher wages. Of course, once they land a job picking lettuce or whatever, most of them discover that the image of the US as paradise was something of a con. But many have managed to send $ back to families back home, with positive results for those communities. There actually is something of a safety net down here, but it's family, not govt, and they know this. In the US, the lower classes, willfully ignorant of history, spend their time voting against their own interests, unraveling the New Deal, and so on, and then wonder why life has handed them a raw deal. It's a very different psychology, but it hardly hasta be that way.

(continued below)

9:20 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

There is also another factor here--I'm not sure how it fits in--but whenever one of these research institutes takes a "World Happiness Survey," Mexico is typically in the top 5 countries, and way ahead of America. This lends a subjective dimension to poverty. For what Mexicans have in general, despite decades of Americanization, is community, family, friendship, religion, and (in many rural areas) an age-old rhythm of life. Americans, on the contrary, have alienation and psychological misery: a system that teaches them to hate themselves; broken family life; no one they can trust--all of which has been well-documented. Money ain't everything, in short. In the 1930s, Lazero Cardenas did try to pull the peasantry out of poverty, doing all sorts of things in the direction of socialism and modernization. But he also ruptured traditional lifeways, so it's a tossup as to what the final outcome was. You see the problem, trying to make this assessment. It's hard to come up w/a definitive response to yr question, in short, but thanks for raising it; and one wd have to ask if it also applies to India, for example, or any nation that has a large, impoverished population that is 'submerged'--out of it, so to speak.

mb

9:20 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Here's an interesting study: one way or the other, Americans hafta obliterate their consciousness:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonkblog/wp/2015/09/25/these-places-banned-booze-now-theyre-dealing-with-something-far-worse/

10:15 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Drip-

Some further thoughts on Mexico vs. the US (again, thank you for posing the question). One way we've framed the issue on this blog, in the past, is in terms of false consciousness, or what Chomsky calls "manufactured consent." There is some truth to this, that the American people have been hoodwinked; but my argument is that for the most part they have collaborated in the hoodwinking. Or (to switch metaphors) this is not (mental) rape, so to speak, but consensual sex. Another way I've put it is that Chomsky's argument is that they've had the wool pulled over their eyes, whereas my view is that the wool *is* the eyes: they hardly have any objection to the American Dream.

One issue abt Mexico that interests me is the impact of the American Dream on that country: how strong it is, how it has functioned in Mexican history, and how it functions today (see, e.g., Joseph Contreras, "In the Shadow of the Giant"). This is certainly the psychology of the wealthy in Mexico, of the elite, as well as of the aspiring middle class. It's precisely why the middle class could be hoodwinked into believing that Lopez Obrador was some sort of communist, a threat. But I don't think the lower classes are hoodwinked, or that the American Dream is part of their psychology--although crossing the border to find a better life does suggest some confusion on this score. But I cannot, for example, imagine the sort of uprising that took place in 1994 in Chiapas, the Zapatista Rebellion, ever happening in the US (check this out: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-25550654). The only populist uprising I can imagine happening in the US is a right-wing one. In addition, as far as border crossings go, that figure is way down. In fact, between 2005 and 2010 1.4 million immigrants moved *back* to Mexico from the US, and 90% of these voluntarily. Clearly, things have changed. A 2014 Pew Research Center survey discovered that 65% of Mexicans say they would not move to the US if they had the means and opportunity to do so. So as you can see, we've got a complicated picture on our hands.

mb

9:52 AM  
Anonymous ennobled little day said...

Dr. Berman,

I appreciate the insights on Mexico you provided, particularly about the Mexican middle class. I have family members who belong to that group. I like to think of them as suffering from "a massive inferiority complex."

I finished reading Twilight and just began reading Dark Ages America...

10:25 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Day-

Say more about that; I'm sure I could learn a lot. A Mexican friend told me that the Mexican belief in the superiority of the Other--1st Spain, then Europe in general, and finally the US--goes back a long ways. There is a whole debate about whether Moctezuma had this dream, that Quetzalcoatl (feathered serpent, in Nahuatl) would return as a 'white savior', and thus initially welcomed Cortes (many historians believe the Spanish concocted this story after the conquest). But the native/white savior motif remains strong (see the Kevin Costner film, "McFarland, USA"). For me the basic psychological difference between Mexico and the US is that the American soul has a huge hole in the center, which Americans try to fill w/drugs, war, braggadocio, and so on; whereas the Mexican soul is not so much empty as torn, conflicted. Historically, phenomena such as sincretismo were attempts to patch things up, as was the importation of facets of the Other, the foreign cultures regarded as superior. While the (repressed) American inferiority complex took the form of reaction-formation, i.e. a superiority complex, in which you try to impose your way of life on others (see Freud, Adler), the Mexican inferiority complex invited the Other in. Mexico City has a "Museum of Invasions" in Coyoacan, which I haven't visited for many yrs, but I recall the list was of something like 147 American invasions in the last 150 yrs. It's a perfect setup, really: one side thinks its superior, so it imposes; the other side thinks its inferior, so it allows (or tolerates) the imposition. A macabre kind of dance, really.

mb

11:01 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: Here's a mural of Quezalcoatl in Acapulco, done by Diego Rivera:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quetzalcoatl#/media/File:Quetzalcoatl_Mural_in_Acapulco,_Mexico.jpg

11:03 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Day-

Sorry, cdn't post it. A bit too long, and it violates the once-a-day rule. Pls shorten, post tomorrow.

mb

1:09 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Hilarious film:

"The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared"

10:00 PM  
Anonymous Drippings said...

Morris,

I love the figure of speech -- 'the wool is the eyes.' I've heard Steven Pinkerton say that Chomsky's politics are rooted in assumptions about human nature that come from Rousseau. George Lakoff says that progs are stuck in an 18th century mindset, where human beings are rational agents who will make rational decisions so long as they are presented with factual information. There's a book called the 'Linguistic Wars,' about an intellectual feud between Chomsky and Lakoff, which I've not read, but I've heard Lakoff say elsewhere that progs have no political power because they try to persuade people with facts and logic. This would seem to be Chomsky -- just give people the facts, ie, lift the veil and then the people will start making rational decisions.
Anyways. I appreciate your thoughtful responses, and I enjoy your work alot.

-Drippings

11:20 PM  
Blogger Juliet Cash said...

Cos
We are not going to agree. I think nuance is to be able to view circumstances in which decisions are made in order to understand how malicious the intent was. In a court of law, for example, the mastermind of a killing usually receives harsher punishment than the person who was hired to kill. There are mitigating factors when sentencing is applied. Being homeless or hungry will produce more sympathy for stealing food than it would towards a person who does it for the thrill to shoplift. Even parents of more than one kid can understand this when making moral judgements in applying punishment. They know the difference between the instigator from the usually younger and naive one who got talked into doing something wrong. One has to understand the relationship between power and freedom of choice. The more choices we have the less we can claim hardship as an excuse to unethical behavior. The more choices we have the more empowered we are to walk away. Coincidentally, when democracy crumbles we see a lopsided application of Justice. The more powerful folks get lenient or no punishment while the little guy gets the entire full force of the law. There are no Utopias- however, a more functional and just system uses that type of nuance when applying punishment.
Also, prostitution is as old as slavery and we got rid of Slavery. Even our founding fathers had slaves. It is a fact known by most people who have helped women exit the profession that prostitution , like slavery, Is a product of mostly economically unjust system. Same can be said of poverty. Totally man made. It will take both economic gender equality and moral men to stop believing they are entitled to purchase women in order for it to end.

Dr. Berman,
I enjoyed the Clarke university lecture that was posted in YouTube. There's always something new to learn from your talks. Thanks for the Gore Vidal documentary. His witty sarcasm was such a delight to listen to. Loved every single quote. I think you noted this one on your lecture: "Americans never learn. It is part of our charm."

JC

11:20 PM  
Anonymous SeanKerrigan.com said...

Dr. Berman,

I recently collected as many photos as I could of José Clemente Orozco's "The Epic of American Civilization" at Dartmouth. You can see the whole album here: https://imgur.com/a/mCURI

My favorite is probably "Gods of the Modern World." Though "Modern Migration of the Spirit" and "Modern Human Sacrifice" are a close second.

12:31 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Sean-

Yeah, good. If you ever get to Guadalajara, check out the Hospice Cabana for his murals of the coming of the Spaniards to Mexico.

mb

2:24 AM  
Anonymous COS said...

JC: You cant have officer krupke ethics and then assert moral men will turn away from prostitution. Jee officer Krupke I was lonely and I have acne so I offered the girl a $20.00. There are still slaves, not just in the southern u.s. way but still plentiful. People need not agree but logic important, i.e you note there are no utopias yet advance standard gender and justice tropes, men bad, democracy good, women victims etc....I am not so sure about justice getting worse as democracy cumbles, and keen to see where you place the halcyon of democracy and justice...Are you toying with a Rawlsian theory of justice combined with social justice alinsky dreaming? What is the essential basis/theory/thinker in your musings besides Gee Officer Krupke, Judge my mothercis a junkie so cut me a break

8:11 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

So I got to see Pope Francis yesterday both in the afternoon and in the evening. He certainly knows how to do pope-a very kind countenance, spoke of tolerance, religious freedom and the perils of globalization. As predicted, editorials in our major newspaper wrote about his economic naivete.Right, better to go bankrupt for healthcare and education. As Micheal Parenti notes, the rate of poverty in the world grows faster than the rate population growth.
Anyway, I did get to see what martial law looks like-brutish, mean and full of laws that simply made no sense. Cars were not allowed on major highways, bridges were closed, no allowances for the handicapped, and worst of all 4$ for bottled water! During the visit, Rome issued a notice that the Vatican would not divest in fossil fuel investments leading me to think that this pope like many before him is, sad to say, just for show.

8:15 AM  
Anonymous ennobled little day said...

Dr. Berman-

(Here’s a heavily modified version I what I submitted yesterday.)


Well, most of them still live in Mexico, and I have only visited them a handful of times. I have always gone with my dad, though, who loves to talk about politics, culture, etc. from an idiosyncratic right-wing orientation. Despite being an ass, my dad is also well loved, so family and friends always respond to his obvious provocations and often get an argument going for a good hour or two...

Among many in my father's generation, there is a sense that Mexico has something that the Americans do not understand or are unable to fully appreciate. Their actions, on the other hand, seem more “conflicted.” I have an uncle who founded his own engineering firm in Mexico and worked himself half to death to keep it going. I believe he wanted to be like one of those "brave American entrepreneurs." (I know that his youngest brother was thinking along those lines, and to this day this brother of his is still hatching plans for making money.) Despite all this work, though, he would still find time for his two sons (both of which went to college and studied civil engineering, just like their dad and uncle) and even helped out several members of our extended family.

One of his sons is now a professor of civil engineering in the University of Guadalajara (or so I am told). I have never spoken to him much, but he seems to have a bit of an interest in other cultures, particularly in how Mexico could incorporate their best qualities in its own culture. For example, he thinks highly of a Japanese-Mexican businessman who likes to compare and contrast Japanese culture with Mexican culture.

8:23 AM  
Anonymous Noam Chomsky said...

Dr. Berman,

It's been called to my attention on multiple occasions that you frequently cite me in your lectures and writings as an example of someone who unwittingly misleads the public. Normally I don't take issue with scholars citing my wo. Except when scholars misrepresent my ideas in an effort to demonstrate how 'wrong' I am, for the purpose of promoting their extreme ideological views.

I'm only going to warn you once. Either you cease and desist all such activities. Or my team of lawyers will use your proverbial nutsack for a punching bag.

Noam

12:23 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Wafers-

This is cute, no? Can you imagine the real Noam Chomsky saying 'nutsack'? Or saying that I misrepresent his ideas w/o providing a single example? (And same, re: my 'extreme ideological views'?)

Who will show up next on the blog? Kim Kardashian? Hillary?

I love it!

mb

12:58 PM  
Blogger jml said...

"Normally I don't take issue with scholars citing my wo. Except when scholars misrepresent my ideas in an effort to demonstrate how 'wrong' I am, for the purpose of promoting their extreme ideological views."

Can't help but think that the real Noam would've been able to properly construct a sentence. This Noam needs some serious help.

3:31 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

jml-

True, but at least the guy's got a sense of humor; wh/most trollfoons do not. I'm going to ask Wafers to submit possible answers to "Noam"; in the meantime, here's my own:

Dear Noam,

Thank you for writing in; I've been an admirer of yours for years. I apologize if I wrote anything to offend you. Pls don't do anything to my nutsack; at this pt, I don't have much else going for me, in my life.

Actually, I don't think I'm misrepresenting your ideas, esp. your concept of "manufactured consent." As I've said repeatedly, I partially agree with you. The problem I have is twofold: one, you believe that Americans have more than half a brain, whereas in reality they have dog excrement in their heads. Two, you think we are going to have some form of left-wing revolution and that this will usher in a stable period of democratic socialism. I don't mean to offend you in any way, so please don't take this personally, but quite frankly you have yr head rammed up yr buttocks and are rolling around like a donut. For someone of your stature, this is embarrassing, and I suggest you get yrself a crowbar and a bucket of K-Y jelly and get down to work.

Thanks again for writing. I do hope we can continue this conversation as soon as your head is fully functioning once again. And pls, call off yr lawyers; I need my balls, amigo. (Word has it that you recently fell madly in love, so you understand what I'm talking abt.)

Hasta la revolucion permanente-

mb

4:44 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Hola MB & Wafers,

MB-

Holy Mother of Balls! Noam may have liberated his head a few millimeters:

http://www.salon.com/2015/09/25/noam_chomsky_bernie_sanders_cant_save_america_partner/

Still a bit too sanguine, sad to say.

Miles

5:08 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Arriba! Mariano Rajoy is a douche bag!:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/28/catalan-separatists-win-election-and-claim-it-as-yes-vote-for-breakaway

10:02 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Meanwhile, Americans are so smart!:

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/sep/27/driver-spider-petrol-gas-station-fire-lighter

10:10 PM  
Anonymous troutbum said...

Dr. MB & fellow Wafers,

There's a new book about the fact that 1.5 million US families are living on $2 per day. This includes 3 million children.
Even worse, this number appears to be growing. But you can relax, I'm sure President Trump will fix this problem.

It's all here : http://www.yesmagazine.org/commonomics/13-million-american-families-live-on-2-a-day-these-authors-spent-years-finding-out-why-20150924

6:11 AM  
Blogger Juliet Cash said...

Cos,
When did I imply that the rich are all bad and the poor are all good or that women are all good and men are all bad? You are misconstruing my argument showing no desire in seeing its logic. I am only talking about freedom of choice as it relates to power to walk away from unethical decisions and the degree of culpability and responsibility powerful individuals have when making unethical or immoral choices. Two main reasons why the powerful should bear more responsibility for making unethical choices are self evident: their choices effect more people and by having more choices they have less excuses to claim hardship or insurmountable circumstances when not doing so. I don't need to summon a philosophical authority. I have examples to argue the point. Wall St. derivative crisis is one example. The bankers created the exotic mortgages and derivative instruments by changing the laws designed to prevent them from this type of unethical behavior. They marketed them widely, heavily and aggressively. How is the designer of a product that effects millions of lives equally culpable as the end user on taking in one individual loan? No comparison. In the blaming game the bucket stops at the purveyors. The powerful create the conditions for the less powerful or disempowered to err and then pass the entirety of the consequences of their 'creative ways to circumvent the law'- aka. regulations- unto the consumer. I agree with you the justice system can operate skewed against the less powerful indefinitely but it contributes to the public perception the system is rigged undermining their faith in another one of its institutions. Second ex: prostitution. The John has more power to walk away from the street hooker than the she has to exit the job. How hard is to see that? Is it an inherent right of men to have sex with women by any means necessary? Is it a moral imperative? Nope. However, his choice to see a hooker isn't going to stop the rest of his life. Him seeing a prostitute carries no weight when getting a job or a promotion. Or a girlfriend for that matter. He has choices. How many prostitutes can write down their 'job skills' on their resume? How many are constrained by having to pay the rent on their next trick? Freedom of choice: for whom? The powerful. Slavery 3rd ex: The slave owner had more power to free his slaves than the slaves had power to just walk away even when told to leave the plantation. The powerful created the hostile environment conditions for him to want to stay a slave under his master's protection. His "newfound freedom" was often in name only.
What's the basis of my thinking? Logic.

JC

7:06 AM  
Anonymous COS said...

MB: I hope that Noam and his abodados do not squeeze you aguacates too hard!

JC: Your point is pretty obvious. You observe power differentials exist (surprised?). Yes, I know and so does everybody else. You seem to advocate a system of ethics where those with more power or responsibility have a higher duty. Understood. You seem very fixated on prostitution and the issues of power relations inherent in that activity. Any freshman at a decent school will point out, via logic that inductive reasoning has many weaknesses--namely if one of your examples is not complete then the whole structure is flawed. Also, I pointed out that moral systems really do not exist per se. Your premise of those with more power or rich having to be more responsible hearkens back to the idea of noblise oblige and even is apparent in theories of Elite rule common in Potical theory and sociology (the logical extension is that those with more responsibility have more capacity and thus should have greater say as the poor are unable to make fully ethical choices given their circumstance, this line of reasoning was used for proprerty requirements for voting and rights of peerage) My other point, is it would be hard to implement such a system with as you describe a bit a post modern situationist ethics leads to the hedge fund manager you cite could have suffered from depression and has an addictive personaliy and is addicted to making money and so he is abosolved of equal responsibility. Your best bet if you are to wish for a moral system then a transcendent one is your best bet. The ten commandments being only 10 are broken daily, I don't see how some scheme of holding people differentially responsible based on some status would work in a simulation let alone in reality. Anyway, logically for something like what you seem to be advocating, starting with a general premise and proceeding deductively may help provide clarity and a cogent argument. As for prostitutes, I recall Xaviera Hollander converted her experience to millions and to celebrity, Heidi Fleis did o.k. and then of course a young blonde was elevated from a brothel in ricoleta to the first lady of Argentina. Start from general clear premises to clarify thinking/arguments as you seem to be saying and conflating many things. Don't poo poo the philosophers--you can learn a lot and beware cognitive biases where we all harbor under delusions of adequacy.

3:21 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jul and COS-

Maybe it's time for me to declare that you both won the argument, and now need to direct yr energies to replying to Noam, on my behalf. As you can imagine, I'm a bit worried abt my testes.

mb

4:42 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

One of the great war criminals, and douche bags, of our time:

http://www.commondreams.org/views/2015/09/28/debacle-inc-how-henry-kissinger-helped-disorder-world

5:24 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Noam-

Ray Charles did a song once called "You Better Leave MB's Balls Alone"; goes something like this:

Well I know you've got yr money
And you've got a new fifty-six too
But if I ever see MB's balls in yr new car
I'm gonna do some work on u

Well I don't believe in trouble...
And I don' wanna start a fight
So if you'll take heed and stay away from MB
Then everything will be alright

MB-

Many thanks for the Greg Grandin essay which sets the record straight on Herr Kissinger. Perhaps he will provide evidence at a future war criminal trial against Kissinger. Incidentally, I get the WSJ delivered every Saturday for the book review section. Two weeks ago, *this* was staring me in the face:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/kissinger-the-freedom-fighter-1442570401

Apparently, Niall Ferguson has been named official Kissinger biographer. Imagine that!? It's shit like this, you know, that can take yr breath away...

Miles

ps: I ran down a copy of "The End of the American Era" by Andrew Hacker. Here's a good quote by Hacker:

"A nation that honors only achievement grows restive when attempts are made to explain the causes of failure."

7:04 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jeff-

Well, Ferguson has been an apologist for empire for some time now...mb

8:07 PM  
Anonymous Drippings said...

Speaking of Kissinger. He wrote an article in NYT or the Washington Post, maybe a couple years ago or less about a "new world order," or something like that. He brought up the question of whether America should continue to think of itself as "exceptional." He said (paraphrase): yes, it should, because it's important for a nation to have an identity.
Isn't that f***ed up? It really struck me as bizarre. Exceptionalism seems like just another way of saying "superior." Superiority doesn't seem like an identity to me, but rather an inflation of identity. If I'm right about this then this would mean that America has an inflated sense of identity, but without any content -- like a balloon full of hot air.
Isn't that strange? It's almost like saying "my identity is that I have an inflated identity."
I don't know if this makes any sense, but anyways....

- Drippings

11:06 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Drip-

Alfred Adler claimed that people who had a superiority complex were actually hiding an inferiority complex. This strikes me as being very applicable to the US.

mb

11:10 PM  
Blogger Marc L Bernstein said...

Frank Rotering seems to be onto something:

http://nomoreillusions.org/dissenting-progressives-ditch-suzuki-and-klein/

"... let me suggest two reasons why progressivism falters so badly when it addresses a systemic issue such as the ecological crisis. The first is that the movement arose for the purpose of resisting capitalism’s destructive tendencies. As a resistance movement it can fight effectively for social and environmental reforms within the capitalist context, but it lacks the theory, strategy, vision, and leadership to transcend this context. Unfortunately, the ecological crisis requires humankind to do precisely that. Under these conditions, progressivism can do little more than present a list of high-minded demands and hope that these are interpreted as a workable strategy."

"The Guardian newspaper, for example, sympathetically covers a wide range of social and environmental concerns, but scrupulously blocks all critiques and proposals that might lead to systemic change. The progressive movement, under its current leadership, plays the same diversionary role."

12:59 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Marc-

This is an interesting article, and I thank you for bringing it to our attn.; but it's not w/o its own fundamental flaws. For one thing, he ignores the fact that Klein, in her original article in The Nation ("Capitalism vs. the Climate," Nov. 2011), calls for a "new civilizational paradigm," and does talk abt resource limits, not just global warming. I discuss that article in my Clark University lecture, in fact (her bk on the subject, "This Changes Everything," had not yet been published). So this is both inaccurate and unfair. However, he's rt in saying that her solutions fall into the category of wishful thinking--as I also pt out in my lecture. This was the argument Klein had w/Elizabeth Kolbert in the NYRB after Klein's bk was published, and as far as I was concerned, Kolbert won that argument hands down.

2nd: author assumes that the progs constitute an organized movement, and that it has a specific leadership. Not so; it's just a decentralized collection of ideas and people. There *is* no clearly defined movement, no real political clout on the left (as Ralph Nader has pointed out), and therefore no one to 'dump' and replace. Occupy Wall St., for example, had no leaders and no political organization, wh/is one reason it just faded away.

Finally: his own solution is faulty, in fact a tad hilarious, given his critique, because it's just more wishful thinking. He says his strategy involves the choice between revolution and ruling-class transformation; and since he concludes (correctly) that revolution is unlikely to succeed, he opts for the latter, wh/consists of the following:

"First, remind the ruling class of its historical responsibility to provide enlightened social guidance. Under current circumstances this mandates the shift to a contractionary economy. Second, demonstrate to this class that its true interests lie not with a short-term wealth grab before collapse, but with a long-term future in a sustainable world. And last, assure them that, although capitalism must be superseded because of its ecocidal expansionism, business will continue to flourish."

I'm guessing the r.c. will have a good laugh at all this, inasmuch as these folks are hardly interested in their historical responsibility, or in abandoning their program of short-term wealth grab (if they were, things wd have changed long ago). (In fact, I think it's likely these people are sociopaths.) Nor do they trust that business will flourish under a no-growth or degrowth (homeostatic) regime, and they certainly don't wanna try and find out. In short, this is a kind of intellectual's fantasy that ignores the reality of power.

Two final pts: one is that the dilemma of revolution vs. reasoning w/the r.c. is posed quite clearly in an abs. brilliant film, "The East," released in 2013. The film finally opts for reasoning w/the Power Elite, because revolution doesn't seem to be changing anything; but the conclusion is rather lame, as a result. The movie does, however, make the case for ecotage along the way, and in that sense is very unusual.

2nd: when the dust settles, I still think what I've called Dual Process is the only path we have out of the eco-mess we're in (and wh/I also refer to in my Clark lecture); but I acknowledge that that too has some serious difficulties (wh/I'm only too happy to discuss). But at least it doesn't depend on something as unlikely to succeed as reasoning w/the r.c., or on any form of wishful thinking that believes this transition can be managed w/o a serious crunch. Both individuals, and systems, change when there is simply no alternative--when everything hits a wall--and historically speaking, the change ain't pretty ("you don't get history for free," is how I like to put it).

Thanks again for raising these issues-

mb

4:00 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Meanwhile:

1. The rest of the world is getting tired of US trying to control everything and everyone;

2. Obama is a little turkey:

http://edition.cnn.com/2015/09/28/politics/obama-putin-un-syria-isis/index.html

8:54 AM  
Blogger Juliet Cash said...

MB,
I am suspecting the Noam who wrote that comment is an American douchebag. The lawyers ganging up on you is typical American dialogue when guns are not available. The real Noam would prefer dialogue than threats given that he left; The crazies don't have an organized and constructive way to channel all of the anger. His critique is not as direct as yours, Dr. Berman. He won't go to the jugular- the American character. He probably wants to keep a few friends at MIT and or is too old and afraid of change to become an expat.
Cos,
It is an interesting reply. Won't deny it. But I can easily tear apart the CEO's claim with the choice caveat: doesn't his wealth give him access to the best mental health coverage? In order for a mitigating factor to be valid it has to be related to the crime. Is a bout of greed followed by a gouging of the consumer the best treatment for depression or would Prozac and talk therapy be the most reasonable choice ? The CEO could argue: my mother was emotionally unavailable my father was a greedy bastard. But it won't gather as much sympathy as "my mother was a meth addict and my family were gang members and I had no access to any mental health workers." The caveat is easy: the more wealth, the more choices- less excuses. Let us not forget the 2nd caveat: his actions effect the largest number of people. That one he loses. Hands down. The famous prostitutes you noted do not represent the majority of the prostitute population. (What happened to the John? He is nowhere to be found- maybe he opted for his dad's stash of porn pin ups or a blow up doll?) But the caveats don't discriminate by profession- or wealth. It can be applied to the wealthy and powerful prostitute as well as the 50 dollar hooker. In other words she would have more access to choices than the lower class prostitute which gives her less excuses. Measuring power by wealth only is myopic. The powerful individual doesn't have to be rich- although wealth is usually associated with having more clout. He has to be influential, own to himself and has the ability to influence the actions of others. Charles Manson comes to mind.

JC

9:28 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jul-

Well, of course I never really thought this was Prof. Chomsky. But it shows the confusion that can be trolled into a blog; and the thing w/trolls is, they've got a lotta time on their hands. Suppose someone signs into a blog as Vladimir Putin, tosses around a few Russian phrases, and sounds like a diplomat? Suppose someone signs in as Kim, or Hillary? Of course, I can't imagine any public figure being aware of this blog or giving a damn abt it, but u.c. the problem. Some time ago David Graeber signed in, and instead of trying to engage Wafers in a dialogue, behaved in a very aggressive (American) way. I decided that it really was Graeber, and treated him w/respect (wh/is more than he did for me). But now anyone can sign in as Graeber, and it cd easily get confusing. Maybe Trump will be next!

mb

9:41 AM  
Anonymous Pastrami and Coleslaw said...

Good essay on green-washing:

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/09/29/fund-raising-as-the-world-burns-shell-drills-the-arctic-takes-a-timeout-and-big-green-declares-victory/

compare it to this from the XO of the Sierra Club:

http://www.commondreams.org/views/2015/09/29/shell-shocker

Hmmm ... who is fooling who ... or fooling themselves? How does that saying go, "the road to hell is paved with good intentions".

12:11 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Pastrami-

This is like that essay claiming that Obama's foreign policy, while looking ad hoc and ill-conceived, is actually cunning, a masterpiece of strategy.

When I say that Americans have their heads impacted, I'm including progs in that count.

mb

1:12 PM  
Anonymous Drippings said...

Morris,

I read a book by a man named Carroll Quigley, who seemed to be arguing that Western civilization as a whole was in terminal decline and not just the US. According to his model of history, civilizations have cores and peripheral aspects, and over time the core erodes while the peripheral parts develop and compete for dominance among each other, and eventually one of the peripheral areas becomes the new core, and this goes on and on for a while, until expansion and growth is no longer possible at which point the last core establishes a "universal empire" over all areas of the civilization (including the previous cores), and then stagnation sets in and the civilization begins to fracture as it succumbs to internal conflicts and invasions from outsiders.

I probably didn't do a very good job of accurately summarizing his theory, but it seems to me that within his model if the US dies then so does Europe. You seem to be suggesting that Europe's fate is mostly independent of the United States'.

My question to you is: is there a fundamental theoretical disagreement here behind the different conclusions? Eg, does it have to do with different views about what a civilization actually is, or even whether such a thing as a civilization exists, or something like that? Is there an intellectual divide among scholars about fundamental theoretical assumptions that might account for these different conclusions?

2:18 PM  
Anonymous Deluded to the very end said...

Mr.B,

i just watched the whole conference. Very informative, a usual --tho I must say you broke a little bit my heart there when the words "there's no doubt about it" went out of your mouth. I also read last week "Destiny" and liked it a lot. Clear narrative and elegant endings. Made my last weekend. I also fell for "Felicity" I must say, because it's J.J.Abrams who I belive is a powerful wicked sorcerer from the douchebag-paralel-universe --the one in which everybody sees things in binary. Guess what, he's doing the new "Star Wars" horseshit movies, so what can u expect? Loved the book cover also, but I must say i found that the graphic-editing of the inner pages poor. Talking about deserts, just asking myself if u have digged Reza Negarestani's "Cyclonopedia".

deluded TTVE

2:58 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Anon-

2 things:

1. I don't post Anons. You need a real handle, like Gefilte Fish.
2. Pls send messages to latest post. No one reads the older stuff.

Thank you.

Drip-

Most scholars don't pay much attn. to Toynbee or Quigley these days. I read Quig a few yrs ago and liked it, but never wrote anything abt his work. As for yr questions, they are gd ones, but it wd take me abt 20 pp. to respond, and I just don' have the time rt now, so hafta beg off. Just one observation, tho: I believe that to the extent that other countries are tied into the US and its economic system, they will suffer. In crash of 2008, e.g., Scandanavia and China were largely (not entirely) protected.

mb

3:20 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

It's virtually impossible to avoid politics and politicians unless you cut yourself off from all media.

Failing that, it never hurts to inoculate yourself against the pestilence by spending time with one of our social critics.

Try this. George Carlin's May 1999 appearance at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, where he dissects political speech and pillories political correctness:


http://youtu.be/Pc0ZHsoHAlE

3:28 PM  
Blogger k_pgh said...

With Kissinger, Hillary, and especially Noam, poor Madeleine Albright is feeling dejected and overlooked. She just wants everyone to check out her spiffy jewelry collection. And, why shouldn’t they? The pieces are a delightful microcosm of America from robopathic careerism to the enjoyment of genocide all working to cover a growing void.

From The Gazette:
As her career advanced, her pins got bigger. “I wore them partially to cover up the holes of the other pins,” she said with a laugh. “But some of it had to do with messages I really did want to send. One of my bigger pins is my American flag I wore with (North Korean dictator) Kim Jong-il,” she said. “They kept criticizing the United States and I figured that if they took a picture of their dear leader with me that it was going to be publicized, so why not wear the biggest American flag I could find.”

It was a serpent pin that started it all. “The whole story never would have happened if it hadn’t been for Saddam Hussein,” she says matter-of-factly. After the Gulf War, it was her job as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations to enforce sanctions against Iraq. “I was told I was supposed to say perfectly terrible things about Saddam Hussein constantly, which he deserved. Then all the sudden a poem appeared in the papers in Baghdad that compared me to many things one of them being an ‘unparalleled serpent.’ I happened to have the snake pin so I thought I’ll have a little fun and I wore it during our debates on Iraq.”

Also, some faces of Madeline.

5:07 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

MB, Wafers-

What am I missing? Putin has called for a generally broad international coalition to fight the Islamic State given that IS is *already* a clear and present danger to Russia, and countries that border Russia. Putin also indicated that IS fighters are in the Caucasus region, have declared their allegiance to IS, and want to open the door into Russia. He makes a strong case that some pretty serious action is required against IS in Syria for Russian and European security reasons, and Obama blames Russia for the crisis in Syria. WTF? Obama has a serious disconnect w/reality. The bottom line is that he is in denial about IS, and Putin is not! He can't even acknowledge Russia's perspective and position regarding the so-called war on terror that was largely created by the US. When is Trump gonna take over, already?

Miles

5:32 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Well, it's clear that American politicians are generally clueless, and jackasses to boot. We never, ever seem to get it, that we do things that piss off other people and that they are reacting to those things. That we live in a reciprocal world is something Americans, of whatever IQ, are simply too dense to grasp. The list of critics who have pointed these things out, even including Henry Kissinger, is long enuf that you'd think the clowns wd sit up and take notice. But they don't, and they never will. Meanwhile karma, in the form of History, is punishing us virtually on a daily basis now, and you know what? We can't even figure *that* out! Honestly, I don't think there's been a country this dumb in the last 10,000 yrs.

mb

5:41 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Dr. Berman,
Your answer to Drip’s question about whether Mexican deserve their government or not seems pretty much in line with everything I’ve read, heard, and observed living here in Mexico over the last year and a half.

Perhaps a large part of the Mexican ‘inferiority complex’ you comment on is that most Mexicans have been to a large extent colonial subjects, from the time of the Spanish conquest until today as they live in the shadow of the colossus to the north. On the other hand, most Americans have the psyche of colonizers – which they claim the God-given right to practice all over the world.

I’ve been told that well over 90% of Mexicans are indigenous or ‘mezcla’, and that what many Mexicans feel about themselves is, “Somos españoles denigrando a los indios y somos indios odiando a los españoles.” That is, “We’re Spaniards denigrating the Indians, and we’re Indians hating the Spanish.”

I know some solidly middle class families with luxurious homes and fancy cars, as well as some reasonably prosperous working-class families who have built nice houses and drive used cars. They like to buy things, but in both cases the close-knit mutually supportive families have been remarkably resilient so far. These families, by the way, remind me of the Arab families I got to know over the years in the Middle East. I hope they outlast the capitalist world system, because when industrial civilization collapses, they’ll really need these family safety nets.

David Rosen

6:05 PM  
Anonymous SeanKerrigan.com said...

Hi all,

Chris Hedges did a presentation a few hours ago in Princeton. I went and recorded some of his Q&A. I'm sorry the quality is poor. I didn't have time to arrange for better conditions. I would have gotten more, but the camera crapped out. He has some good responses none-the-less. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7hkYgZ-Rjjw

One thing I've been thinking about lately is how quickly our society devolved once we became an image based society, basically, in as little as one lifetime. Socrates believed that written words were inherently low-context compared to spoken language. We can see now that he was right, but the image is even more low context. You can't communicate any depth with an image, but it creates the powerful illusion of knowledge and a good way to control the masses.

I compare it to the story of the Tower of Babel. You've got the all powerful Adamic language which united humanity under a single empire. Empowered by this unity, King Nimrod challenged God by building the Tower. God got pissed off, destroyed it, scattered humanity and created new languages to prevent such challenges from ever occurring again. But now we have a new global language: the image. And it too is threatening to unite humanity, enslave it, and create a world system to kill God (all meaning in life).

In short, I need to get a real job. My mind is just hyperactive with too many ideas these days.

2:46 AM  
Blogger Frederick Froth said...

Sean for a fascinating take on the historical and cultural associations between the word and the image, or The Alphabet Versus The Goddess check out this reference: www.alphabetvsgoddess.com
The author was a neurosurgeon and a professor of surgery too.

6:48 AM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

News out of Ashville, Ohio offers two things at once:

(1). Yet more proof--though surely the case requires no further buttressing by now--that we live among morons; and

(2). For all its faults and failings, Facebook can occasionally serve a social purpose.

To wit:

"Gone are the days of going underground, fleeing the country or even burying your cash after sticking up a bank.

Apparently the new approach to dealing with stolen loot is posting photos of it to Facebook."


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3248275/Are-dumbest-thieves-Cocky-bank-robbing-couple-arrested-posing-Facebook-photos-thousands-dollars-cash-stole.html#ixzz3nE7xagpp

9:13 AM  
Anonymous Sexy Don said...

D Henry -

Sex at Dawn , while very entertaining and provocative , is a fun popularizing book , holds a lot of holes / flaws ... Fantastic counterweight arguments to its content can be found in the opposing book , Sex at Dusk ... Read them both concurrently , you won't be disappointed ...

9:56 AM  
Anonymous Pastrami and Coleslaw said...

Sean, 2 books are right up your alley:

Snowcrash by Neal Stephenson (fiction) and The Rise of the Image, the Fall of the Word by Mitchell Stephens (nonfiction).

10:01 AM  
Anonymous Kevin said...

Catching up:
Overall I like Frank Rotering's work ("Contractionary Revolution" references ROTW, by the way), especially his fundamental insight: when conceptualizing, the 'institutions' and 'logic' of capitalism need to be bifurcated. (Essentially the final point in this excellent essay: http://nomoreillusions.org/the-three-most-dangerous-illusions/)

That said, his musings on 'green reformism' figures being CIA directed (book cited) seem shrill. I think they're just misguided.

Here's an intriguing interview with one of the authors of "The Worm in the Core" (where I first heard about the book): http://douglaslain.net/zero-squared-22-the-worm-in-the-core/

Finally, the for the 'halo' section (light discussion in Eros Regained chapter) of ROTW from the September 2014 Harper's Findings: "Granadin scientists who dosed volunteers with a prize-winning young red wine made from Syrah and tempranillo grapes determined that the consumption of alcohol causes ethanol to enter the eye's tear film, which then evaporates more quickly, increasing perception of halos."

12:32 PM  
Blogger Kanye Cyrus said...

Hello MB, Wafers,

I am currently on holiday in California. It's the first time I go to the West Coast and I am really surprised by how friendly Americans are. Strangers regularly strike conversations with us in bars & restaurants and I've even had a guy tell me that I parked in the wrong place yesterday and that I would get fined if I didn't move my car. This would NEVER happen in cities like London or Paris. On the road, I am also finding that American drivers are much less stressed out than Europeans, they don't honk so much and very often give way at crossroads, even when they don't have to. I don't know if this friendliness is particular to California, but so far Americans haven't come across as douchebags to me, quite the opposite. I am sure that if I was to probe them on a deeper level, there wouldn't be mush substance to our conversations beyond hustling, but on the outside at least, Americans come across as much nicer than Europeans. Am I insane?

Kanye

2:07 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Kanye-

I lived in SF in the 70s and it was very much like that, laid back, tho probably superficial. But the few times I've returned since then (ie decades later) I found it quite harsh and rush-rush, so I dunno what to tell you. I do like the phrase "mush substance," however; gd description of American conversations in general.

mb

3:18 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Hola MB and Wafers,

Kanye-

Rest assured, the majority are douche bags. Watch out for texting California drivers! They are completely out of it. Incidentally, I asked students about the Syrian crisis in class today. Out of a class of 40, 3 reluctantly spoke up. One blurted out, "Obama knows what he's doing." It took everything in my power *not* to burst out laughing! It's becoming virtually impossible to carry on any type of critical intellectual conversation w/anyone anymore. On my drive home, I remembered how I used to despise and deplore people who believed that we were in some kind of crucial end times scenario. Now, however, I'm not so sure that there isn't an end times moment upon us all...

MB, Wafers-

Delaware PD killed a man in a wheelchair:

https://www.rt.com/usa/316451-video-police-shoot-man-wheelchair/

Way to go guys!

Miles

5:16 PM  
Blogger Juliet Cash said...

MB,
I didn't imagine the real Chomsky would do so. My message got all messed up when I tried to copy and paste it from my Notes app. Crap happens!
I imagine you probably have gotten a few impersonators trying to give themselves legitimacy after being blocked on a previous post under a different name. That's American ingenuity!! Hahah! My point on the wrecked message is that the real Noam is probably a Wafer who lost his "nutsak" when falling short of blaming American imperialism on the American character. He has been able to determine that the only insurgency in America would come from the right but won't admit that the left sold out. Anyway, I wonder how many people troll on him or send him hate emails?

Miles, MB and Wafers
Now Putin and Obama are fighting ISIS(L) together. Except that Obama knows somehow that the positions Putin have targeted are not ISIS but Assad's opposition- isn't Isis Assad's opposition too?. So by our administration's intelligence there are 3 separate armies fighting each other: ISIS, the Syrian opposition armies, and Assad's army. And Obama's eye in the sky intelligence is able to differentiate between all of them, as he proclaims our government is fighting ISIS while helping the good guys- the rebels.

Sean, pastrami,
Interesting thoughts on the print vs image cultural impacts- especially the re wiring the brain. But I suspect the print was a way to control and monetize knowledge. Moving images is just a way to monetize information at a faster pace by taking away the effort of reading. Universities are trying to make access to research papers much more expensier and inaccessible to the commons. They are still trying to control knowledge. Let's give the masses lots of moving images while the powerful keep the important information to themselves. In that sense I see a dumbing down on the wide use of the image by the masses. My 2 cents.

JC

7:41 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jesus, will ya look at this face?:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/clinton-undermines-her-health-care-plan-with-one-terrible-policy-call/2015/09/30/4192f2ac-6243-11e5-9757-e49273f05f65_story.html

10:39 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

On the other hand, this looks quite attractive:

http://variety.com/2015/film/reviews/toronto-film-review-michael-moores-where-to-invade-next-1201590554/

11:21 PM  
Anonymous troutbum said...

Dr. MB and all Wafers worldwide,

Today, I bring to your attention a short essay by Charles H. Smith, "It's One Indivisible System" regarding how ......

"while you pursue your good governance, populist, Left/ Right /Socialist/ Libertarian, etc. reforms, please understand the system is indivisible: the Deep State, the Imperial Project (hegemony and power projection), the State, finance in all its tenacled control mechanisms (greetings, debt-serfs and student-loan-serfs), crony capitalism /regulatory capture, money buying political influence, media propaganda passing as "news", and the evisceration of democracy (something untoward could happen if the serfs could overthrow the Power Elite at the ballot box--can't let that happen)--it's all one system."

In other words, there's nothing you can do to change the trajectory , you can only rearrange the deck chairs as the ship sinks. It's all here : http://www.oftwominds.com/blogoct15/one-system10-15.html

9:14 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Trout-

He's rt, but if we frame the implosion we are slowly going thru as one aspect of Dual Process, then the outlook (long-range, at least) is not entirely grim. The other aspect, of course, is to develop an alternative system and alternative structures/institutions: currency, energy, ways of living, and so on. These will proliferate and become more attractive as the current system disintegrates. It will be most difficult in the US, because the US is the epicenter of the current system and the most committed to averting change. But Europe, Asia, Latin America--possibilities are better.

Keep in mind that all civilizations collapse; there are no exceptions. The one that will replace ours, will do so as well, in the fullness of time.

mb

10:46 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Octavio Paz, in "The Labyrinth of Solitude," and Carlos Fuentes, in "The Death of Artemio Cruz," argued that there was a continuity between the Aztec pyramid of power (symbolized by actual pyramids), the Spanish colonial viceroy system, and the modern capitalist system. In "A Concise History of Mexico," Brian Hamnett writes:

"The later Aztec state developed an increasing preoccupation w/human sacrifice on a large scale as a means of propitiating the gods upon whose goodwill the agricultural cycle depended. What this implied in political terms remains unclear, but it does suggest a deepening consciousness of the precarious basis of the empire on the part of its rulers."

When one compares the Aztec pyramid of power w/that of the US capitalist pyramid, in particular in the later phases, the issue of human sacrifice stands out, it seems to me. Late capitalism is certainly engaged in the sacrifice of the lives of most of the people living under it: 0.1% of the US population owns 20% of the wealth, and 1% owns something like 47%. The idea of a "service state" has emerged, in which the bottom 99% make their livings by serving the top 1%. Meanwhile, one might say that the Aztec elite awareness of the precarious basis of empire is paralleled by a similar awareness among the US ruling class, which shows up in the security state, the surveillance state, the militarization of the police and increasing police brutality, and in general the expansion of more aggressive forms of control. In the Aztec case, the collapse came from the outside: it was the result of the invasion led by Cortes, plus the alliance of peripheral states with Cortes against the Aztec empire. The empire was not brought down by rebellion from within; there was no rebellion in the core area.

mb

12:05 PM  
Blogger Christian Schulzke said...

Am I insane?

Its the west coast. They project an image of being touchy feely but are really a bunch of self centered pricks. On the East coast they act like blunt tough guys but underneath are really a bunch of softy's.

Yes, in America they will hold the door open, stop at a crosswalk for you (writing tickets to drivers who don't is a favorite of cops. Where I live they even set up crosswalk stings) and they will smile disingenuously when you say "hi", but its all a front.

Try engaging one of them in a conversation about Camus, or Berlin's idea of positive vs negative liberty, or Moby Dick as a metaphor for the US and see what kind of responses you get. Hell, try and have a conversation without them asking you what you do for a living--usually it's the second question you are asked after meeting someone, and it tells them all they feel they need to know about you as a person.

Europeans may be more superficially rude, but I cherish the authenticity they bring to an interpersonal interaction, as well as general knowledge and curiosity about the intangibles of life.

2:30 PM  
Blogger Christian Schulzke said...

My apologies for two posts, but I just got word that a mass shooting happened in my state (Oregon) in the town of Roseburg at the community college.

From massacre to massacre...

2:39 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Hello Wafers:

You'll like this. The Great American Pastime meets selfie culture:

http://www.tsn.ca/must-see/video/ford-must-see-announcer-destroys-selfie-girls~717995

Oh yeah, there was another massacre in the USA today.

5:15 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

JC-

Isn't our foreign policy, if we can call it that, a ghastly joke in the Middle East? Remember when Obama called ISIS the "junior varsity"? Who came up w/that one? Our armed moderates (another CIA recommendation, BTW) in Syria promptly had their weapons taken away from them. We are the laughing stock of the entire world. Obama will go down as a worse flop than George W. Bush.

The curious thing about Obama's, as u say, "eyes in the sky" is that they have *never* been right about anything. One thing is certain: from Cuba to the collapse of the Soviet Union, the CIA has called it wrong! Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan pointed this out on numerous occasions, and even recommended that the CIA and other agencies be abolished. I think Moynihan has never gotten the credit he deserved for really foreseeing the absolute danger that these agencies posed. Jesus, they even failed at preventing 9-11; nor did they analyze it correctly. Now, of course, they run the show, and use 9-11 as a reason to meddle into everything, destroy countless lives, and cause this nation irreparable damage. All this, while the American people cheer them on. In any case, as troutbum's contribution points out, the president does not run the country. MB has said something very similar to this.

Miles

5:27 PM  
Anonymous SW said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

From George Monbiot in today's Guardian, a description of consumer items -

"An egg tray for your fridge that syncs with your phone to let you know how many eggs are left. A gadget for scrambling them – inside the shell. Wigs for babies, to allow “baby girls with little or no hair at all the opportunity to have a beautifully realistic hair style”.The iPotty, which permits toddlers to keep playing on their iPads while toilet training. A £2,000 spider-proof shed. A snow sauna, on sale in the United Arab Emirates, in which you can create a winter wonderland with the flick of a switch. A refrigerated watermelon case on wheels: indispensable for picnics – or perhaps not, as it weighs more than the melon. Anal bleaching cream, for… to be honest, I don’t want to know. An “automatic watch rotator” that saves you the bother of winding your luxury wrist-candy. A smartphone for dogs, with which they can take pictures of themselves. Pre-peeled bananas, in polystyrene trays covered in clingfilm; Just peel back the packaging."

Really, one wonders - exactly what is Big Brother watching us for? Are they not convinced by now we pose no threat except to ourselves?

Here's the entire article:

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/sep/29/water-mars-intelligent-life-earth-nasa

6:00 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

SW-

Exciting stuff. I think we also need an anal cream for dogs.

Meanwhile:

http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2015/10/01/oregon_police_say_several_killed_in_umpqua_community_college_massacre.html

I can't figure out why everyone doesn't get a gun and just start shooting everyone else.

Wash Post reports that since the beginning of Obama's 2nd term, there's been a massacre of at least 4 people every single wk.

USA! USA!

mb

6:17 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Of course, the media will report this massacre as the work of (yet another; we seem to have an infinite supply) a crazed loner. No possibility that this might have anything to do w/our way of life, or the American Dream. Oh no, let's forget abt sociology. Meanwhile, the shooter apparently posted this on the social media some time b4 the shooting:

"This is the only time I'll ever be in the news. I'm so insignificant."

Obama is soon to issue a statement. Can't wait.

http://edition.cnn.com/2015/10/01/us/oregon-college-shooting/index.html

6:39 PM  
OpenID vwclown said...

Dr. Berman and Wafers,

Terrible news about Umpqua Community College. Beautiful area and the best ice cream I've ever had. Amazing river setting for outdoor recreation/camping/fly fishing. Guess there's just never enough for some people... I mean, if you can't be happy with really good ice cream on a sunny day by the river, you're just an asshole. - Fruit Woman

6:51 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Fruit-

Last time I checked, country was filled w/321 million assholes.

mb

6:54 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Meanwhile:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/27/opinion/sunday/stop-googling-lets-talk.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/01/opinion/talk-to-each-other-not-your-phone.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=opinion-c-col-right-region&region=opinion-c-col-right-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-right-region&_r=0

7:01 PM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

@MB - "Wash Post reports that since the beginning of Obama's 2nd term, there's been a massacre of at least 4 people every single wk."

Yet we are supposed to believe that Iran/ISIS/Syria/Russia/China/North Korea/Kony/(your preferred foreign villain here) is the real threat to American lives.

Right on cue, of course, Obama gets up and runs his mouth about how we need "new laws" to stop the gun violence. The man has claimed the right to drop predator drones on any human being on the planet who disagrees with American hegemony over the planet, yet we are supposed to believe that he is utterly powerless to stop the violence in the streets here at home. What a cowardly piece of human garbage.

8:19 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Bill-

No doubt abt it, the guy's a punk. Meanwhile:

•Between 1966 and 2012, there were 90 mass shootings in the U.S. out of 292 globally

•While U.S. has (less than) 5% of the world's population, it saw 31% of public mass shootings

I also think this is kinda neat (Middle Ages coming back):

http://edition.cnn.com/2015/09/14/health/michigan-plague/index.html?iref=obinsite

mb

8:27 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

How cd the country *not* be finished?

1. We have at least one massacre a week
2. A president who is full of shit
3. Bubonic plague in Michigan
4. Millions thinking that electing Bernie Sanders is gonna change everything
5. A complete horse's ass likely to get the GOP nomination.

9:24 PM  
Anonymous Edward said...

Dr B wrote: "No possibility that this might have anything to do w/our way of life, or the American Dream"

Bill Hicks wrote: "Obama gets up and runs his mouth about how we need "new laws" to stop the gun violence. The man has claimed the right to drop predator drones on any human being on the planet who disagrees with American hegemony over the planet, yet we are supposed to believe that he is utterly powerless to stop the violence in the streets here at home. What a cowardly piece of human garbage."

Yes, Obama does not see any relationship between the violence he unleashes in Syria and the violence unleashed in a community college in Oregon today by Chris Harper Mercer. Violence is the only "way of life" for Americans going back hundreds of years. Today, police in USA shoot first and ask questions later. This is violence. Today in America women (on death row) are put to death with lethal injection. This is violence in the minds of kids. Today, wall street thieves steal billions of dollars from elderly pensioners with the help of politicians. This is deadly violence that cause thousands of suicides per year among our elderly parents. The culture is the problem, not guns or Chris Harper Mercer. By the time Obama figures out the problem it would be too late for any solution.

http://www.rawstory.com/2015/10/umpqua-college-terrorist-identified-as-26-year-old-chris-harper-mercer/

10:38 PM  
Blogger plbodden said...

well -- not to take anything away from you and gore -- i think george carlin had pretty well worked out the american stupidity factor. carlin's job title may have been comedian, but i think he was also a damn fine sociologist and a keen observer of life in the usa. very best to you, maurice!

12:31 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

pl-

True, but I don't think George ever connected the stupidity factor with the decline of empire, any more than H.L. Mencken did (in an article in 1920, he predicted that there wd eventually be a moron in the White House; but he never said this meant the US had no future and wd collapse). Gore and I reign supreme, chico! (nice try, tho)

Ed-

It's too late *now*. How're we gonna get ourselves a whole new culture? In one pic after the massacre, one woman is hugging another one and holding a cell phone. There is no understanding that the whole cult of 'progress', of celebrity, of hustling, of getting 'ahead' w/attitude or $ or the latest tech toy, *is* the key factor in turning out kids who are bitter and alienated and finally run out and shoot everybody up. Mercer wrote that he wanted to be significant, be "in the limelight." Now, he is. This is a sick but nevertheless oddly rational response to our culture; it's hardly a "crazy loner" over and over again. A la Goya, we are devouring our children.

As for Obama--who is basically an empty person--or Hillary or any of them: the goal is not solutions; it's just crisis management, keeping the lid on things. Obama can hardly believe that yet one more speech abt gun legislation is going to bring abt gun legislation.

mb

2:51 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: Obama is quoted as saying: "Somehow this has become routine."

Yes, somehow. Gee, wonder what that cd be, genius. When I lived in the US, my impression was that everyone was shooting at everyone else, on a daily basis, but with words rather than guns. This is the nature of American society--competition and one-upsmanship. It's only logical that some members of that society are going to decide bullets do the job better than words.

3:18 AM  
Blogger Marc L Bernstein said...



"Tens of millions of people died in Hitler’s war not so that Germans could live, but so that Germans could pursue the American dream."

interesting article:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/16/hitlers-world-may-not-be-so-far-away

---

Dr. Berman takes after George Carlin: "A president who is full of shit"

I say:

Obama is an American (in spite of what birthers say). Americans have dog excrement in their brains (according to Dr. Berman, a reliable authority). Therefore Barach Obama has dog excrement in his brain.

I would like to add that the entire collection of Republican presidential candidates is analogous to an ululating sphincter.

3:21 AM  
Anonymous troutbum said...

Dr. MB & all Wafers:

In light of Oregon's news, take a look at the stats from the City of Chicago, just for the month of September:

Final September Totals
Shot & Killed: 58
Shot & Wounded: 303
Total Shot: 361
Total Homicides: 61
Source : http://heyjackass.com

That's 12 shootings per day. The reason there's not more killed is the trama doctors are now very skilled at treating gunshot wounds. It's estimated that the cost of this stupidity for the 9 months YTD is about $128 Million and that's only medical related, estimated total annual costs are approaching $2.5 Billion, see here: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2013-05-23/first-lady-s-chicago-shows-gun-toll-for-city-that-bleeds

It was H. Rap Brown who said, "Violence is a part of America’s culture. It is as American as cherry pie."

6:25 AM  
Anonymous turnover said...

"It's only logical that some members of that society are going to decide bullets do the job better than words."

Alright! Dr. B, that's a beautifully tight thumbnail of American culture.

7:57 AM  
Blogger Rook said...

Hi ,and greetings from Germany,
I just finished read WAF: What a great read. The Zeitgeist seems to be bearing your analysis out, Prof. Strangely, I feel less depressed after reading it. I am more accepting that reality is just the way it is, and I just got to get on with living my authentic(ish) life. I always knew this but had lately lost touch with who I was. I am actually inspired to read literature again. I am looking forward to reading Octavio Paz - I studied Hispanic Lit many years ago; you know how that looks on a CV? Lulzy, as the kids say. I am currently reading DAA. It's good but not as much "fun" as WAF.
Take care,
Rook

7:58 AM  
Blogger jml said...

"Hell, try and have a conversation without them asking you what you do for a living--usually it's the second question you are asked after meeting someone, and it tells them all they feel they need to know about you as a person."

Try telling them that you are an art teacher. I find people usually find a quick exit from conversing with me and subsequently pretend that I am invisible. This used to hurt my feelings, but now I find it kind of a relief to be left alone by these types. Better to be poor and happy than a huckster.

8:52 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

jml-

I tell all Wafers to approach Americans as tho you were an anthropologist visiting a strange tribe. This particular tribe happens to not have souls. As a result, it's largely impossible for them to relate to art. No need to have hurt feelings: yr among douche bags. All they really wanna do is make $ and shoot each other.

Rook, Mein Schatz!-

Vielen Dank fuer Ihre Brief. Sehr Freundlich, mein Herr. Yes, I suppose DAA is kinda depressing, but as you say: better to know the score than wallow in crap. Personally, I find the truth an antidote to depression, only because it's the truth.

Marc-

This Snyder article is kinda strange, to me; he seems to be conflating a # of things that don't really belong together, such as the Holocaust and agriculture, or "ecological panic." There is a lot of peculiar skewing of history here. However, I don't have any doubt that in a crunch, Americans would behave like Nazis. The entire way of life leads to the destruction of empathy, even the notion that the Other exists, has a point of view (all of our studies of empathy in the US support this). In CTOS I wrote--this in the late 80s--that Americans "were the driest tinder imaginable for Fascism." We may see this played out in our lifetime.

mb

10:05 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: In the Gore Vidal documentary I mentioned above, Gore says at the end of his life that the 4 sweetest words in the English language are "I told you so." I'm enjoying saying that as well.

As Gore well knew, this kind of arrogance is not only justified, but enjoyable. After my Hiroshima talk at Bluestockings on Sept. 7, a bunch of Wafers and fellow travelers went to Rosario's for pizza. A colleague of mine, wonderful guy, who writes trenchant critiques of US foreign policy in the Middle East, asked me: "Doesn't it bother you that everything you say and write is ignored? It sure bothers me." And I told him: "You need a bit of arrogance. My own attitude is, 'I've told you [Americans] everything you need to know about what's coming down and what we need to do to repair the situation, and you paid no attention to it. Now you can drown in your own ignorance.'"

mb

10:13 AM  
Blogger Juliet Cash said...

Wafers, MB,
Trump is still ahead by double digits! "I am going to make America win so much we are all going to get bored of winning"- Trump noted in one of his rallies. Can anyone stand a chance against the embodiment of the American Dream in all of its bravado? And how about the simplistic use of language that any American can understand?
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2015/09/30/suffolk-poll-republicans-trump-carson-fiorina/73035550/

So we have yet another massacre from an American nihilist who wanted to play hero. At least he will be in the news. That's a winner!!

MB,
I loved the Gore documentary. "I told you so" such a great ending. I also liked that he noted that envy" to paraphrase it as being the staple of American life. Which is why dialogue is about one- upmanship. Facebook offers so many examples of it. The phoniness of face to face American relationships become transparent when they post what they really want to say to each other by using memes on Facebook. Needless to say the ugly side shows up.

Miles-
Don't you think that our Middle East policy is being used by Putin to play geopolitics and get even from the Cold War and dismantling of the USSR? We created the 'war on terror' and now Putin is fighting terrorists. We handed him the slogan. I agree with you the CIA's intelligence is a joke. Remember the evidence against Saddam?
But their purpose was never to protect us the average Joe or Jane- but the American interests. Euphemism for "property"

JC

2:27 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

This just in from CNN:

And now, let's listen to the President...

My Fellow Americans,

To expect Americans to exhibit traits of being human is self-deception. As a product of both history and habit, this country has become an ungovernable nation. At this point in our development, it would behove us to turn our attention to the new generation of American youngsters being spawned in our rotting empire this very moment.

Michele and I visited a close friend who had just given birth yesterday. As we walked past room after room of these bubbly neonates, the thought occurred to me that in fifteen years hence, there's a good chance that a respectable number of these infants will be unemployed miscreants, criminals, terrorists, rioters and marauders in our decaying ghettos and suburban slums. How many, I wondered, had come into this world unwanted by their own defective parents and unneeded by an uncaring society? How many will become, simply put: superfluous Americans? Will these new Americans ever recognize their own humanity in a society so alien and anarchistic as this one? The answer, I'm afraid, is no.

As your President, I refuse, yet again, to wring my hands, make empty promises, and pleas for reform. No; not this time. There is simply no way to rehabilitate this society, short of an army of sociologists, psychologists, and brain surgeons.

Therefore, since this government can no longer guarantee your protection, I strongly recommend more and more citizens purchase guns. I want to see guns in schools; guns in churches, mosques, and synagogues; guns in child-care facilities; in women's purses; and in every crib and automobile in this country. Don't be shy now... Put them in your backpacks, briefcases, refrigerators, desks, dresser drawers & bedside tables. Indeed, the time has come to get serious.

May God bless you, and the United States of America.

2:29 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jeff-

Two cars in every garage, and an AK-47 in every cradle.

Jul-

Trump in '16!

mb

3:42 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jeff: speaking of which:

http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Monitor-Political-Cartoons

10:04 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dual Process:

http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Making-a-difference/Change-Agent/2015/1002/A-visionary-s-quest-a-city-filled-with-gardens

10:06 PM  
Anonymous Dawgzy said...

Gore Vidal was a complicated fellow; an arrogant narcissist, convinced that he was the true American aristocrat, from his insider status ( as he never hesitated to mention) saw America in a clear way, and portrayed it accurately. He had no use for the "average american" commented on the corruption and dysfunction of the USA. He certainly knew something about empire. I wonder what might have become of him if, of example his early novels had been more fairly reviewed in the NYT, if he had won his campaign for Congress, if Bobby Kennedy hadn't invited to leave the WH because Gore was gay. I'd guess that all of this served not only to inform him about how things worked against a critical "other" in the USA, but to sharpen his critique as well. Seeing him speak a few times reminded me that I didn't have to like someone to respect and agree with him. What a amazing body of work. His wit seasoned all of this nicely.
He of course wasn't the only writer to have problems with the NYT., of course. Corey Robin comments on another aspect of it here along with references to his own experiences here: http://coreyrobin.com/2015/09/30/clusterfuck-of-corruption-at-nyt-book-review/
JML- there was a nice piece 35 or so years ago in the American Journal of Nursing by the Dean of the Nursing school at the University of Pennsylvania. She commented on her peers' peculiar reactions at Penn faculty gatherings after they asked her "...and what do YOU do?" She attributed it to the fact that nurses have intimate access to everyone's bodies and physical processes, including those of Ivy League professors and deans, including their dying and death. I'm glad that I read it near the outset of my nursing career.

11:03 PM  
Anonymous Brian said...

Dr. Berman--

Thanks very much for posting that piece on Orion K. from the Christian Science Monitor; as you suggest, yes, very much in the spirit of dual process.

I've met Orion and spoken with him briefly, for we're both members of a "dual process"-esque group here in New England that's all about trying some experiments, supporting one another, and having fun in the process (believe me, I absolutely "get it" about delusional progressives. In contrast, one of the things I appreciate about this group--known as New England Resilience and Transition--is that folks are relatively grounded. There's a Yankee sort of "can do" attitude about the group and experiments at play that taps into the agrarian, independent mindset of the region). Dual process in action for when "the center no longer holds" . . .

Here's a link on the group's activities as well: https://nertnetwork.wordpress.com/

Brian

11:19 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Brian-

Thanks for the link. This is great, it's exactly what I'm talking abt. "Revolution" doesn't have a chance in the US, and the endless emphasis on it by the progs is both divorced from reality and irresponsible. (They also need to get a sense of humor, and to have a shitload of therapy.) What makes sense, at least to me, is the creation of alternative structures, an alternative socioeconomic formation, that will become more attractive and more influential as American civilization, and capitalism in general, falters and disintegrates.

Dawg-

Yeah, the thing w/Gore...at the end of that documentary, he's asked what he thinks his legacy will be, and he says, "I couldn't care less." This was (to me) the only false note in the film; I didn't believe him. Not that legacy hasta be a matter of ego; in that sense, he was probably telling the truth. But I suspect Gore felt the same way I do: here we have this enormously rich and powerful country, with such huge creative potential, and what did we go and do? Piss it all away. And our own fate (i.e., Gore's and mine, altho obviously I'm not in his league) was to be shut out, ignored, and marginalized--which is my argument in WAF, that America failed precisely because it refused to entertain alternative voices and narratives. So it pissed it all away by following a narrow and unimaginative trajectory, one that has been destructive to other nations (long list here) and finally to ourselves. I do occasionally get asked what I think the upshot or impact of my work will be, and my honest admission is: "Not a whole lot." But I do care abt this, not because I need to be celebrated (I'm actually quite happy with what I've accomplished, i.e. for its own sake), but because--perhaps like Gore, I dunno--I feel folks like us held up a mirror to the US, and the US replied, to its own detriment, "Go away." Gore, of course, was supremely visible and supremely well-connected; if he cdn't get a decent hearing from the NYT and other media outlets, who could? Critique is usually welcomed by such outlets; fundamental critique is not. And so, as Gore realized, the charade goes on.

mb

5:19 AM  
Anonymous NJGuy said...

Today, October 3rd is the 90th anniversary of Gore's birth.

9:25 AM  
Anonymous COS said...

The discussion of Gore Vidal is very interesting and leads to thoughts on critique.

There is the political/theological critique of say a Hedges.

There is also the academic/intellectual critique of a say a Chomsky or our good amigo MB.


The strand of Gore Vidal is the patrician man of letters critique. Frankly, in many ways the most enlightening. Typically not fettered by political fads or to genuflect to various academic authorities and focusing on thoughts and observations from the front row seats and relationships with historical figures. Among this group I would place Sir James Goldsmith, Lewis Lapham formerly of Harpers and now Editor of the very fun Laphams Quarterly, earlier on there was of course Mencken and now even in a peculiar way Nassim Taleb. All are(were) Bon Vivants, dismissive or even contempous of academics, and not "pure" prophets or saints. The fact than any ciritic has human flaws or inclinations tends to disqualify him in the eyes of Americans. You can only critizse if you are pure and if you are not people will not listen to you--for example some dismiss Vidal becuase he was arrogant and gay, others dismiss Goldsmith for being a womanizer and a jewish billionare, Lapham for being an old rich white guy, Taleb for being arrogant and pretentious etc..... Its an funny thing how when messages are disturbing people dismiss it based on some characterisitic of the messenger.

Lastly there are of course the military strategy critics. This one is well worth viewing.

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2015/10/lawrence-wilkerson-the-empire-is-in-deep-deep-trouble.html

11:02 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

COS-

I have the impression that Wilkerson is catching up to my own critique 15 yrs later, but what the heck. He probably won't get listened to either.

mb

11:21 AM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

JC-

Re: Putin and Syria

I look at Putin's intervention in Syria as a way to show Russian military might to the Americans, filling a void left by American inaction, and an unwillingness to be pushed around any longer by Obama. It's obvious Obama pulled a boner in Syria that triggered an unnecessary humanitarian disaster. Putin might be pulling one too, time will tell, but he didn't start the crisis. Russia has a right to protect a strategic ally in Assad from American attempts to topple him. By my lights, it's not fair to criticize Putin's intervention in Syria w/out criticizing the stupidity of Obama for meddling where we have no business. But alas, Assad kills his own people, cries our president w/the mental capacity of a 9-year-old. Well, yes, Mr. President, so do you; and so does yr #1 ally in the Middle East: Saudi Arabia.

Not only have we handed Putin the "war of terror" slogan, we have handed him a lot of terrorists to deal with as well. Putin made this point at the UN; stressed the point that lots of jihadis fighting in Syria are Russians who can/will threaten Russia. If there's one thing the West should know about Putin is that he's a strong believer in state power, and will not allow what has happened in Iraq to happen in Syria. Furthermore, unlike Obama, I don't think Putin has a blind spot about the rise of Islamic State, nor is he naive to the world-shacking power of religion when it's highjacked by politics. I could be wrong, but I feel that Putin's intervention in Syria is more credible than Obama's ad-hoc policy that has materialized into ISIS control of half the country.

Finally, the larger point to all of this is that most of the world no longer believes that destiny and good intentions carry American interests across the globe. There's a growing suspicion that the American nation has not only lost its marbles, it has lost its credentials to run and control the world. Who could blame them, really?

Miles

12:57 PM  
Anonymous Al B. Tross said...

I can't understand why people label American millennials as narcissistic:

http://mediadownloads.mlb.com/mlbam/2015/10/01/14-416010-2015-09-30/web_cut/mlbtv_511523483_1200K.mp4

1:35 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

fyi dept.:

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/ng-interactive/2015/oct/02/mass-shootings-america-gun-violence

http://www.theguardian.com/film/2015/jun/01/vince-vaughn-guns-in-schools-will-prevent-mass-shootings

http://takingnote.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/10/02/after-oregon-shooting-rudy-giuliani-bashes-obama-on-gun-control/?_r=0

5:58 PM  
Anonymous El Alamein. said...

Miles,

I agree with practically all of your analysis, except re: Putin and religion. He has used the orthodox church very strategically to his advantage at times. Not to sound like some Sam Harris-type crypto-bigot, but the Russian orthodox are some scary folk.

As for obomber, I felt like learned his lesson too late. He was really into this Arab Spring, humanitarian intervention thing in his first term. By the time the neocons were pressuring to invade Syria in 2013, he was smart enough to negotiate a settlement with Putin to avoid war with a reasonable diplomatic face. However, conditions had already degenerated to the point that the current situation was probably inevitable. Not to mention the fact that he had already destroyed libya. Nor to mention the fact that Morsi was overthrown by his generals in large part because he wanted to intervene in Syria on the side of the rebels, something the American media conveniently neglected in their coverage http://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/africa/morsi-role-at-syria-rally-seen-as-tipping-point-for-egypt-army-1.1450612)

7:04 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Wafers-

I have a feeling that in a few days, no one will remember Roseburg. I wonder how many Americans can identify Dylann Roof.

mb

9:34 PM  
Blogger Marc L Bernstein said...


Lawrence Wilkerson has called himself a slow learner. It should be no surprise that it took him an extra 15 years to figure something out that Dr. Berman already comprehended. Wilkerson is just about the only Republican that I will go out of my way to listen to. He's been a regular contributor to youtube's "The Real News" for a few years now. Even military men can come to their senses. Another scholarly and noteworthy one is Andrew Bacevich.

When it came to understanding the US empire, there was nobody who could hold a candle to Chalmers Johnson. His book reviews were scintillating and his interviews were enthralling. He was sharp as a tack almost right up until he died.

A lot of very bright people seem to behave as if there is no global human overpopulation problem. The ones that come to mind are Chris Hedges, Nafeez Ahmed and Tad Patzek.

Dr. Patzek and part of his family:

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-hrnugpVKhf8/VhAXoHS0ONI/AAAAAAAAA9U/xaVAfAZgTEI/s400/DSC00074small.jpg

"Oh joy, what a nice, BIG family I have" thinks Tad. "Uh-oh, now there will be even more suffering in the world", thinks philosopher and anti-natalist David Benatar.

Dr. Patzek does not write very often on his weblog, and WAFers might not know about him. I find him to be insightful but a "tad" contradictory. How can someone who is ethically-minded and also a real expert on Peak Oil theory voluntarily live in Saudi Arabia? Anyway, here's his latest. It's easy reading and not long.

http://patzek-lifeitself.blogspot.com/2015/10/progress-traps.html

Anthropologist Ronald Wright's work on "progress traps" is interesting as well.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Short_History_of_Progress

As they might say somewhere on an inner city basketball court, we "be" in a lot of progress traps today.

3:35 AM  
Anonymous Brian said...

Fellow WAFers--

Here she is . . . in all her glory. I felt so uber-warm and fuzzy after reading this piece. If nothing else, I'm reminded that she remains not only a bastion of virtue, but also a true humanitarian and developmentally evolved woman of grace and civility.

P.S. Oh, and here's your "trigger warning:" ready the bucket for projectile vomiting

http://nypost.com/2015/10/02/secret-service-agents-hillary-is-a-nightmare-to-work-with/

O&D--

Brian

10:48 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Brian-

Not much of a surprise. Don't tell me The Donald would be any worse. Meanwhile, check out an essay from a few yrs ago posted on the Archive section of this blog, "A Farce Named Hillary." Her Guccis need a whole lotta urine.

mb

ps: Much the same has been reported abt Oprah, BTW. These folks are so full of shit it makes one dizzy.

10:58 AM  
Anonymous David G. said...

I'm feeling like it is getting harder and harder to live the alternative lifestyle part of Dual Process. Example: everyone uses smartphones, and the way business is transacted increasingly relies on these devices. I was recently in Washington DC and needed a cab to get back to my hotel from a kind of out-of-the way place. I tried to call a traditional cab but without much success. My host pulled out her smartphone and ordered a ride from Uber. Worked slick, but if this is how cab rides will eventually be done, then I will be forced to get a smartphone in order to function in society. This is only one tiny example of how technology and this lifestyle are being forced on all of us. I am torn inside because I know this is going in the wrong direction, yet this is what everyone does. And I am eventually going to get pulled -- along with all of them -- into this giant sucking down the toilet. Unless I can escape out of the US, which is nearly impossible. However, I was in eastern Germany for vacation a few weeks ago, and it was wonderfully not Americanized. Maybe I can go there for my escape -- assuming they don't also go the direction of aspiring to be westernized, meaning Americanized.

12:15 PM  
Anonymous Edward said...

Obama said:
1) Our inaction is political
2) More Americans die per year at the hands of mass shooters than at the hands of foreign terrorists
3) NRA holds politicians as hostages – both Republicans and Democrats

Governor Cuomo of NY said:
1) Democrats should shut down the government over gun issue
2) Americans should make gun issue a single voting issue

Lt. Governor of Tennessee, Ron Ramsey, said:
1) “Whether the perpetrators are motivated by aggressive secularism, jihadist extremism or racial supremacy, their targets remain the same: Christians and defenders of the West,”

2) “think about getting a handgun carry permit”

3) “Our enemies are armed. We must do likewise”

http://www.salon.com/2015/10/02/tennessee_republicans_dereanged_reaction_to_oregon_shooting_christians_must_now_arm_themselves/

Based on the above, it is safe to say that the American politicians do not care about the safety of the American masses since the political career and self-interest of the politicians override the safety of the masses

12:56 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

David-

Rest assured, there are pockets of sanity. I hafta have a computer in order to work; there's no way around that. But I own nothing else: not a beeper, a fax, a cellphone, a smartfone, an iPod, an iPad--none of it, and my life is infinitely better for it. It may not be the most convenient thing, but convenience is not high on my list of values. Pls also read the Turkle articles I posted above:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/27/opinion/sunday/stop-googling-lets-talk.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/01/opinion/talk-to-each-other-not-your-phone.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=opinion-c-col-right-region&region=opinion-c-col-right-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-right-region&_r=0

mb

1:33 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: Here's Franzen on Turkle:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/04/books/review/jonathan-franzen-reviews-sherry-turkle-reclaiming-conversation.html?hpw&rref=books&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=well-region&region=bottom-well&WT.nav=bottom-well&_r=0

3:45 PM  
Anonymous Buddy said...

Was it in the Farce of Hilary post that someone shared the link of Hilary completely lying about her lack of safety deboarding a helicopter> W/ the real photos showing her walking unfettered ?

5:07 PM  
Anonymous COS said...

MB: Franzen is brilliant in his review of Tuttle.

An examination with considerably more philosophical and historical insight is in John Grays latest The Soul of the Marionette, A short inquiry into human freedom. A quote close to the conclusion: " Belief in the liberating power of knowledge has become the ruling illusion of modern humankind. Most want to believe that some kine of explanation or understanding will deliver them from their conflicts. Yet being divided from yourself goes with being self aware. This is the truth in the Genesis myth: the Fall is not an event at the beginning of history by the intrinsic condition of self conscious being. and " We yearn for a type of knowledge that would make us other than we are--though what we would like to be we cannot say."

What indeed is the purpose of all this technology, media and propaganda? Other than to make us soulless douchebags?

5:24 PM  
Anonymous troutbum said...

Dr. Berman and all fellow Wafers worldwide,

There is an important new book that is explosive in its approach to the business of slavery. The book is :
The American Slave Coast, A History of the Slave-Breeding Industry By Ned Sublette, By Constance Sublette

Citing one review, “Authors Ned and Constance Sublette tell the brutal story of how the slavery industry made the reproductive labor of the people it referred to as "breeding women" essential to the young country's expansion. Captive African Americans in the slave nation were not only laborers, but merchandise and collateral all at once. In a land without silver, gold, or trustworthy paper money, their children and their children's children into perpetuity were used as human savings accounts that functioned as the basis of money and credit in a market premised on the continual expansion of slavery. Slaveowners collected interest in the form of newborns, who had a cash value at birth and whose mothers had no legal right to say no to forced mating."

It’s mind boggling, link here : http://amzn.com/161374820

7:02 PM  
Anonymous SW said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

Brian - I've always detested Hillary Clinton. I will vote for anyone - and I do mean ANYONE - to not have to look at her for the next 8 yrs. I pegged her for an opportunist from the very beginning and she's yet to disappoint. She has the most soul-less eyes I've ever seen.

10:35 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Yeah, sure, it's always a crazy loner:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/05/us/4-students-arrested-in-northern-california-suspected-of-plotting-killings-in-high-school.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=second-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

6:17 AM  
Blogger Marc L Bernstein said...


If you are not quite convinced that human beings are laying waste to the earth, a book from a few years back by Andrew Blackwell should help to convince you:

http://www.visitsunnychernobyl.com/

"Andrew Blackwell takes eco-tourism into a whole new space. Visit Sunny Chernobyl is a darkly comic romp."
–Elizabeth Kolbert (author of Field Notes from a Catastrophe)

My online friend, writer and journalist Hambone Littletail (actual name Sam Mitchell) does weekly Sunday youtube "sermons" in which he reads excerpts from a book. In the following he reads from "Visit Sunny Chernobyl" :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZclqwlkRzA&feature=share


a review:

http://www.npr.org/2012/07/14/156490977/sunny-chernobyl-beauty-in-a-haze-of-pollution

6:36 AM  
Anonymous Gore Vidal Sassoon said...

MB and Waferdom,

I'm a long-time lurker here and wanted to weigh in on the gun-control issue for a minute. I'm part of several anti-gun groups online and one frequently repeated refrain keeps getting under my skin; that all these people involved in shootings MUST be mentally ill. I suppose some of that is our definition of mental illness. Recently it came out that the mother of the Oregon shooter had a stockpile of weapons (similar to the Sandy Hook mother). Everyone online starts chanting that she is mentally ill like her son. I don't think that is true. The sad truth is that very typical Americans DO amass stockpiles of weapons. These people are NOT atypical. If they were, we wouldn't have another mass shooting every week and we wouldn't have the staggering amount of firearms in this country that people have accumulated. It seems that no one wants to admit that these shootings are part and parcel of 21st Century American life, perpetrated by very typical Americans.

1:09 PM  
Anonymous Dawgzy said...

GVS- in the face of repeated, overwhelming evidence that guns are a plague upon the land, the status quo abides. A few things have happened: guns have become normalized in the culture (fetishization is another matter). - enough Americans feel threatened viscerally so that FEAR has become a political commodity; and the NRA et al have succeeded in creating an arms race. No need to tell you that "bad guys" get their hands on legally purchased guns and "good guys" buy them just to keep up, continue spiral. Have pro gun lobbyists published lists of instances where good guys have prevented or interrupted (potentially) fatal acts by bad guys? I'm sure that it's happened, but the instances would be laughable stacked against the number of mass killings. Still, the day after Roseburg, I Heard an entire segment where a Guest on an NPR/OPR show insisted, loudly and without counter argument, that the lesson was that there weren't enough GGWGs on the campus. I have exchanged my usual tin foil fedora for a white hat in order to write this properly. Godspeed on your mission, but I'm afraid that it will tale several horrific episodes orders of magnitude beyond the new normal to engage the sprit and the levers of reform, if it happens at all. Oh, and another thing, the Douglas county sheriff is not just a pro gun type, but an unusually nutty one. His career provides us with a "naturalistic experiment." Will he be re-elected- I'm betting that he will, and overwhelmingly.

4:28 PM  
Anonymous Golf Pro said...

Blimey.

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/oct/05/tennessee-boy-shooting-girl-neighbor-puppy

5:30 PM  
Anonymous COS said...

The gun debate is like the terrorism meme fascinating for many reasons. Both are handy in giving people of the left and right something to posture about and serve as signifiers of being "good". Keeping us safe and eliminating the scourge. Both alas are rooted in cognitive errors or lack of perspective. In the last week more people killed in auto accidents that in the tragic shooting. One of the best things Rolf Dobelli wrote was "the news diet" for news distorts what is in the world. People feel outrage for the 10,000 or so people murdered by guns per year but for some reason don't seem as upset by the 200,000 killed by medical errors per year. The true killers are the American diet with 1/3 of American adults either pre diabetic or diabetic--that is a plague not 10,000 homicides with firearms in a nation of 300 million. The largenst number of deaths due to firearms are suicides. Removing guns (good luck with that) is not feasible and even if it were, there would be a bull market in clubs, knives and other means.

5:49 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

Dawgzy-

You speak the truth, my friend. The only thing I would add to yr analysis is: Americans refuse to regard themselves as citizens of a social order in which authority of government plays a principal role. We are, simply put: a terrifying lot to the civilized world. The most prized possession that Americans have is their money, of course; next in line is their guns. As Gore Vidal once remarked, "We have made a lot of trouble for ourselves."

MB, Wafers-

Trump the vigilante:

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/oct/03/oregon-college-shooting-donald-trump-vigilante-movie-death-wish

More sadness:

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/tennessee-boy-11-shoots-girl-8-argument-puppy-article-1.2385429

Miles

6:04 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Buffoons-in training dept.:

http://edition.cnn.com/2015/10/05/health/being-13-teens-social-media-study/index.html

10:22 PM  
Anonymous David G. said...

Dr. B:
Thank you for the words of encouragement and the article by Turkle (and commentaries thereof). This gives me some hope that people still recognize some basic human values (empathy, in-person communication, etc.) as being worthy of trying to preserve. The comeback, though, is that being hooked on smartphones, communicating via texting, multitasking, etc. is just an alternative way of being, no better or worse than the old way. I don't buy it, but I wonder what kind of convincing argument can we make to defend what we would call basic fundamental ways of humans relating to each other. For example, if empathy is decreasing, it seems self-evident that this is a bad thing, but maybe lots of people would say so what. But then if a critical mass of people can't even recognize that empathy is a good thing, then we are hopelessly lost.

10:44 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

David-

Well, that's where the New Monastic Option (see Twilight bk) comes in. NMI's/Wafers may be marginal, but we exist, and we try to wake up other people to authentic life. Turkle is clearly a Waferette.

mb

12:46 AM  
Blogger Christian Schulzke said...

Oh, and another thing, the Douglas county sheriff is not just a pro gun type, but an unusually nutty one. His career provides us with a "naturalistic experiment." Will he be re-elected- I'm betting that he will, and overwhelmingly.

I live 1.5 hours drive South of Roseburg. I can tell you unequivocally that the sheriff's views are not outside the mainstream when it come to Roseburg. Oregon is technically a blue state but that is only because of Portland and Eugene, everywhere else is red, red, red.

Interesting article from the guardian on perceptions in the US on gun control and the fact that the shootings are having no effect on increasing support for gun control--not that I'm all that supportive myself in terms of a solution.

http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2015/oct/02/mass-shootings-have-no-impact-on-support-for-gun-rights-in-the-us

4:43 PM  

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