May 02, 2018

Doubling Down

I can’t remember where I read this, but there have been a number of studies that demonstrate that “when myth meets fact, myth wins.” In other words, if you present someone with a list of facts that seriously undermine his or her belief system, the last reaction you can expect is acknowledgement of the error of their beliefs. Instead, they will just “double down”: vehemently insist, without being able to refute your facts, that what they have asserted is correct. What they will not due is engage you on a rational level.

I have seen this repeatedly on this blog. For twelve years now, when this type of confrontation comes up (dozens of times, in fact), there has been only one case in which the other person conceded that s/he was wrong, and that s/he would have to rethink his or her beliefs on the subject. The rest just double down—this usually involves a lot of rage on their parts—or simply disappear from the discussion.

Many years ago I wrote an essay on this theme called “Tribal Consciousness and Enlightenment Tradition” (included in the collection A Question of Values), in which I pointed out how feeble the Enlightenment tradition was; almost as if that period of European history had never even occurred. Arguments are marshaled on each side of a dispute not based on facts or reason, but on the side one is on; on who one is, basically. As a thought experiment, I suggested that if all Palestinians were suddenly turned into Israelis, and vice versa, you would find the “new” Israelis coming up with the very arguments about the disputed territory that they had previously rejected, and the “new” Palestinians doing the same thing from the opposite side of the stage. Truth, or objective discourse, is hardly an issue here. What is at stake is psychological, or religious, or ethnic, survival.

How many times have white cops killed a black unarmed male, who was posing no threat to them whatsoever, and then, after an internal investigation, been acquitted? One can reasonably guess that acquittal was the point of this “investigation,” rather than honestly getting to the bottom of the story.

These examples point up an obvious condition of our current situation: there is very real dialogue any more, and we have dissolved into a collection of warring tribes.

This dichotomy of myth vs. fact, tribalism vs. Enlightenment reason, is the focus of an essay I posted here a short while ago by Alan Jacobs, called “Wokeness and Myth on Campus”:

https://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/wokeness-and-myth-on-campus

Jacobs uses a different terminology than I do, but the problematic is the same. There is the world of critical thinking, science and philosophy, and instrumental and discursive reason. On the other side of the ledger we have the world of myth—the “nonempirical unconditioned reality” of our experience, not amenable to either verification or disconfirmation. Some of you may recall an earlier discussion on this blog about layers of mind, following the work of Merlin Donald: Mimetic, Mythic, and Theoretic. The Mythic layer is about narratives, belief systems, allegories, and is very old—hard wired, as we like to say. The Theoretic is a relative newcomer on the scene, going back only to the first millennium B.C., and (says Donald) its hold on our consciousness is rather tenuous. In a word, folks like the Hebrew prophets, or Socrates, or Confucius, or the Buddha, were not all that popular. The “crowd,” so to speak, was much more interested in the Golden Calf than the Ten Commandments. (For more on this see Neurotic Beauty, Appendix III. The shift from mythos to logos was the focus of Robert Pirsig’s seminal work, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.) As I argue in “Transference, Ideology, and the Nature of Obsession” (included in the collection Are We There Yet?), it may come down to a question of degree of zeal. We will never do away with narrative thought, nor should we; but what are the outer limits? Rajneesh? Jonestown? When we debate the nature of the Jordan Peterson phenomenon, for example, it is really this issue that we are debating. As Jacobs says (quoting Leszek Kolakowski), “One can participate in mythical experience only with the fullness of one’s personality.” Presenting facts, or logos, to someone caught up in mythos (any mythos), is spectacularly useless.

Jacobs uses current student protest as an example of this fruitless collision of the two worlds. When the protesters’ interpretation of events is challenged on a logical basis, the reaction is typically rage. What they are really saying, according to Jacobs, is “You are denying my very identity”—a response that makes sense only from within the mythical mode. Analytically questioning a religion, ideology, or complex mythical framework won’t work, because for the student protesters, for example, it really is an assault on who they are (at least, that's how they see it). Disagreement, honest questioning, or alternative points of view is for them “defilement,” something that has to be “cleansed.” Chants and curses, shouting down a speaker and refusing to let him/her present his/her argument—these things, says Jacobs, don’t arise from any type of discursive rationality, but “from the symbolic order of the mythical core,” and are a response to seeing that core disturbed. There is no point in talking to these groups about “critical thinking” and “the free exchange of ideas,” and phrases like these are simply not adequate to the cultural clash between the two modes of being. His final question: “Is the university the sort of institution that can accept and incorporate people who are operating largely from within the mythical core?” Perhaps, in the long run, no.

Of course, it’s not just the university that is at stake here. All of the above can be applied to the political world at large, whether we are talking about Palestine or white police forces. What the thinkers of the first millennium B.C. offered—Socrates, the Buddha, etc.—was distance, sometimes known as reflexivity: the ability to stand back from your particular narrative, your own mythology, and see it as a narrative, as a mythology. “Above all,” said Talleyrand after the Terror of the French Revolution, “no zeal.” Of course, one might argue that too much distance can lead to inaction, or apathy (think of Hamlet, poor shmuck); but given the current state of the human psyche, drowning as it is in narrative, I don’t think we need to worry excessively about that danger.

Here’s the flip side, in any case. Many years ago, I had a Native American girlfriend for whom passion was pretty much a way of life. We were both in our twenties; we talked a lot about life and love. I remember I said to her at one point, “I'm just concerned that passion has a dangerous side.” “Don’t worry, Maury,” she replied; “it’ll never be a problem for you.”

Ouch!

©Morris Berman, 2018

191 Comments:

Anonymous AaronA said...

Very interesting and perceptive, Thank you.

However, I'd suggest for large numbers of the population -especially whites, too much apathy and dispassion, brought on by an excess of logos, is the problem.

And it is because an excess of logos has created apathy in so many, the true zealots are allowed to flourish.

It reminds me of Yeats line "the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity".

It strikes me that the solution is for the sane and healthy part of the population to dial back the logos, and develop some conviction and passion.

In the end, it seems the true answer to the zealotry of the "worst" is not, perhaps, logos - but the passion of the sane and healthy. Good passion vs bad passion, perhaps - rather than logos vs passion.

8:45 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Aaron-

I'm not sure it's that easy. "Good" passion is perhaps on a slippery slope with "bad" passion. This is a very familiar historical pattern.

mb

9:05 PM  
Anonymous Mike R. said...

My experience (anecdotal) with americans is that they simply cannot handle the truth. Even when traveling they look for confirmation bias to see how other countries are 'just as bad' 'see, they have their problems too-just like us, etc...' Most reality-based and researched arguments are met with acute anger, or at the very least, the predicatable, "stop being 'negative', 'we have a lot to be thankful for,' etc...

If one continues providing reality, even when done in a respectful and courteous manner, is met with the aforementioned as americans cannot consider alternative narratives. It reminds me of James Baldwin's quote regarding--To be a (black) man in america and somewhat conscious, is to be in a rage almost all the time.

americans enjoy being asleep, and anything that disturbs that sleep is "negative."

9:58 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Hero, or Horseshit?:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/jordan-peterson-is-on-a-crusade-to-toughen-up-young-men-its-landed-him-on-our-cultural-divide/2018/05/02/c5bafe48-31d6-11e8-94fa-32d48460b955_story.html?utm_term=.684d6b2c5ad4

mb

10:58 PM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

I don't recall who here suggested Scott Erickson's book, The History of the Decline and Fall of America, but I just started reading it and found this sentence right in the introduction: "It is impossible to avoid the conclusion that Americans, whatever their moral strengths and weaknesses--were profoundly stupid."

Headlines: Here's a new one--swan pummeling! Florida Man Arrested For Practicing Karate By Kicking Swans In The Head.

Yet another classic mugshot: Man angry over socks attacks 2 with sword.

In this guy's defense, the smoke detector was asking for it: Man uses shotgun to silence smoke detector in his kitchen.

And lastly, this dude is just completely pathetic: Tampa man vandalized cars that reminded him of ones driven by college bullies.

12:41 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Bill-

Scott just sent me a copy of the bk, I guess for review purposes. I'm hoping to get to it b4 2 long. It sounds spot-on. I suppose it's because of the political correctness issue, but the refusal of literally anyone in America--any commentator, any editor, any institution--to (a) acknowledge that the country is finished, and (b) connect that fact with the fact that the avg American has shit for brains, is utterly amazing. What could be more obvious? I look at the front page of any major newspaper, and what you've got instead of any genuine recognition of what is going on, is a lot of people beating off. Oh, we'll impeach Trump; oh, Robt Mueller is going to do X; oh, the midterm elections will shake things up; oh, etc. But this is all theater; it has no more connection to reality than Hedges' call for revolution. ("Extra! Extra! Read all about it! 327 million morons rise up against their corporate masters!") Meanwhile, you've got 170 Wafers reading this horse manure and shaking their heads. There will be no wake-up moment for the rest of the country, this much is clear. Can you imagine this as a NYT headline: AMERICA FINISHED; POPULATION CONSISTS OF IDIOTS. And yet, that is the only *real* story that is going down.

mb

1:48 AM  
Anonymous Gordon said...

Thanks for your essay.

The observed societal polarization of America with tribalism trumping education and rational thought is fascinating. An understandable response to postmodernism and the corporate states actions to obfuscate the reality of fossil fuels effects on our planet and humanity

All Empires eventually implode in corruption and internal ideological schisms, but it is not only America;
it is Humanity that is unable to transcend ideology and conflict.

Thus evolution continues.
Cheers

Gordon

3:26 AM  
Blogger Nesim Watani said...

@MB

Could the mythical core be the final refutation of Democracy? If a people cannot be reasoned with when they are wrong then whatever interests they may have cannot be realized due to their own ineptness. A great example is how idiot people vote against their own interests. Their mythical core blinds them.

This reminds me of the Islamic Philosopher Al-Farabi, who postulated that Q'uran was written for the laymen because the average person was not bright enough to absorb higher concepts. His writings on societies were rather astute, too. He recognized that virtuous societies (ones made for the pursuit of human hapiness and well being) were exceedingly rare and that most are vicious societies that would pursue goals like wealth accumulation as the unifying goal.

4:34 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Nesim-

I suppose there are two types of barbarism, at least in the modern world: one, in which a society is completely enveloped in mythology (Nazi Germany, e.g.); the second, in which everything is perfectly rational (the vision of F.W. Taylor). Jacobs' question at the end was whether a university could continue to be a place of intellectual give and take, of alternative viewpoints, if its constituents were enveloped in mythology. I suspect that in the long run, the answer is no. Even many professors these days believe that their job is advocacy, rather than the inculcation of critical thinking. The same erosion of intelligence probably applies to society in general. I'm guessing that for most Americans, an idea is 'good' if they agree with it, and 'bad' if they don't. (You actually can see this in many book reviews, for example.) Critical analysis is way beyond their capabilities.

mb

5:21 AM  
Anonymous Sunbeam said...

Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors

Here's a primer for the prog's "cultural appopriation" debate: a brilliant history of Indian food that underscores that every culture is a blend of influences. Lamb vindaloo? Appropriated from the Portuguese, "vinha d'alhos"

https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/0195320018/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1525347006&sr=8-1&pi=AC_SX236_SY340_FMwebp_QL65&keywords=Curry%3A+A+Tale+of+Cooks+and+Conquerors

7:42 AM  
Anonymous Dean said...

This is how your 'public servants' are being trained to interact with the public.

Police Cadets Quit, Expose Dept. for Training Cops to View Public as ‘Cockroaches’ They’re at War With

https://www.kvue.com/article/news/local/are-austin-polices-cadets-trained-to-be-warriors-or-guardians/269-545190415

8:39 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dean-

Well, we treated Vietnamese peasants, and the Iraqi people, like roaches, so it was only a matter of time b4 this mindset got imported into the domestic sphere.

mb

10:30 AM  
Anonymous Aaron Thomas said...

Jordan Peterson is everywhere now and I came across a lecture from a podcast. Jordan is another blowhard self-help idiot. His appeal is largely his Canadian accent, the cadence of his voice, his slicked back hair, and his appeal to this bizarre online audience that largely spends time cloistered and debating the nature of a reality that doesn't really exist (e.g. conspiracy theories, alpha/beta dichotomy, etc.)

I get this sense that he appeals to the same people who listen to whatever pop culture crap is on youtube or Amazon at the moment, that he has nothing meaningful to say. After that first lecture I heard, I just skip over anything about him. That Washington Post article was about as insightful as Jordan himself.

There's this language of alpha/beta males that I've seen online that I haven't come across in-person, ever. The reality I see is a bunch of hustling self-centered pop culture consumers, not this alpha/beta dichotomy he's focused on. I'm not sure where this all came from, maybe watching too many action movies and the whole fitness craze that's really taken off since Schwarzenegger decades ago? Maybe that combined with a narrative that's largely driven by media companies and not actual lived reality?

I think Jordan Peterson falls into that group you referenced a while back: if they're on TV, they're most likely not giving wisdom and not to be trusted.

11:00 AM  
Blogger Michael Burgess said...

Hi Dr. Berman and Wafers:

Another great essay by Umair Haque. Maybe Dr. Berman you should send him a copy of "Why America Failed" although he seems resigned to and recognizes the primary aspects of America's decline. Your book really pulled together a lot of my own thinking and feeling about how America is and informed me of what I hadn't thought of as well. So, thank you.

https://eand.co/the-impossible-poverty-of-american-discourse-74a61ff062cf

11:05 AM  
Anonymous JUS said...

Hi MB,

You really should get a Youtube channel, MB. T.V is 20th century and blogs only go so far. II know it sounds crazy, but it would be good to have your voice and wisdom more out there more with a wider audience. The youth aren't interested in television, they are watching youtube. This is why and how Jordan Peterson became so popular so quickly. This is where the so called marketplace of ideas are wrestling it out.

JUS

11:25 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Aaron-

I don't doubt that he's a hustler, but his great appeal--in particular to young white males who feel lost and adrift--is not an accident. In many ways, JP is a replay of Robt Bly in the 90s, who was willing to talk back to feminists, and to affirm the importance of masculinity--w/o simultaneously approving of machismo. I think it's important to reject political correctness; the problem is that with JP, this has a definite rt-wing aspect to it, one that I don't think hasta be there. In addition, a lot of what he says is just common sense for males for survival in a competitive, hustling, and basically heartless, culture. Unfortunately, JP reduces the problem to individual psychology, when sociology--i.e. identifying and rejecting the nature of that culture--is really what's needed. Like Bly, JP doesn't want men to be 'soft'; which does make some sense...Bly's followers wd often say that women claimed to want men who were 'sensitive', but at the end of the day they went home with bikers. In my time I saw many feminist, academic marriages that were pathetic, lacking any life or spark. Ugh; not my cuppa tea. All well and gd, but it does leave open the question of the nature of society at large. The culture of America is one of high-pressured achievement and cutthroat competition. Overall, it's really quite sick. As if there were no other values, or no other way to arrange society. How to balance all these things remains unresolved.

For me, the JP phenomenon has been very interesting, because in a way he's a semi-Wafer. As in the case of Bly, his allegiance to Jung is very strong, and there are certainly some very valuable things in the Jungian corpus (the man's early flirtation with Nazism notwithstanding). (Check out my Reenchantment bk.) I also regard political correctness as deeply misguided, and see the postmodern trend of academia as mostly wrong-headed. But there is an overall tinge here that seems very rt-wing and even possibly fascistic. The vibe is wrong. JP comes across as very slick, a snake oil salesman, and I think all of us (young white males especially) need to be wary of this particular type of hustler, with his magnetic, mythological appeal.

mb

11:33 AM  
Anonymous Marianne said...

Wafers,

Doubling Down is a good explanation of how Evangelicals could vote for Trump in the last election. Given his anything but Christian values they couldn't see through him. They added their "Christian" values on to him without having a clue as to what they were doing. Their identities are so caught up in their beliefs that blindness is the result.

Thanks for the new entry and it's clarity on a pertinent subject.

Marianne

11:56 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

jus-

Yr rt, esp. since the masses are crying out, "Give us Berman! We want Berman! We are highly intelligent people--spiritually deep and intellectually very advanced--and want to carefully work thru complex issues. To hell with the sloganeers, like Peterson and Oprah, with their facile solutions. Clear analytical thinking is what our lives are all about."

This reminds me of a quote from Michel de Montaigne: "A man must become wise at his own expense." And so many Americans are ready and able to do the hard work involved. For this wisdom is what they are thirsting for. It's Berman, and YouTube, to the rescue!

mb

1:43 PM  
Anonymous Tay said...

https://www.cnbc.com/amp/2018/05/03/trump-leads-prayer-event-after-saying-lawyer-was-repaid-for-porn-star-money.html

Trump leads National Prayer Day event after saying he repaid lawyer for hush money to porn star

WHAT A HEADLINE! ONLY IN AMERICA

2:01 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

foofy-

Wasn't able to post it. Here's the deal:
1. Limit your posts to a half-page, max.
2. Post only once in 24 hrs.
We thank you for your understanding.
mb

2:23 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

I think the film "The Post" (rec. by MB) is a good counterexample to the phrase "when fact meets myth, myth wins." I screened the film last night, and was taken by the fact that a key theme of the film is the courage that it takes to rise above one's own tribe, so to speak; to speak truth to power and to confront myth. The journalists who were involved w/disseminating the Pentagon Papers, as well Katharine Graham (owner of the WP), were able to confront the documented lies of the US govt and print the truth about our involvement in Vietnam despite major pushback of those who wanted to double down on myth. Needless to say, this kind of valor is in short supply these days.

Miles

3:31 PM  
Blogger jjarden said...

What a NUT!!!!! And he was the Superintendent of Schools!!!!


http://www.foxnews.com/us/2018/05/03/new-jersey-superintendent-defecated-on-high-school-football-field-on-daily-basis-cops-say.html

4:11 PM  
Anonymous Tom Servo said...

The positive things Jordan Peterson has to say about getting your life together can be found in thousands of other less ideological self-help books. Even though I agree with some of his critiques of the PC movement the problem with Jordan Peterson and his conservative followers is that they are playing the same culture war/identity politics game that the progs are.

Peterson and his allies have the same role as the progs who focus on white privilege and the Patriarchy instead of issues of class, power and economics. Social conservatives are especially clueless on this point. They complain about cultural changes that they dislike but seem to be unable to understand that these changes are produced by the same economic system that they support so fervently.

4:27 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

jj-

Note that his leave of absence is paid, not unpaid. In general, this incident may suggest that the American people are turning into feces.

Jeff-

Peering into 1971, via that movie, is almost like looking at a completely different country than the one we live in today. I also liked the expose of McNamara. What a horrible human being.

mb

5:00 PM  
Anonymous Susan W. said...

I haven't posted here in quite a while but thought you might like this quote:


“Natures of your kind, with strong, delicate senses, the soul-oriented, the dreamers, poets, lovers are always superior to us creatures of the mind. You take your being from your mothers. You live fully; you were endowed with the strength of love, the ability to feel. Whereas we creatures of reason, we don't live fully; we live in an arid land, even though we often seem to guide and rule you. Yours is the plentitude of life, the sap of the fruit, the garden of passion, the beautiful landscape of art. Your home is the earth; ours is the world of ideas. You are in danger of drowning in the world of the senses; ours is the danger of suffocating in an airless void. You are an artist; I am a thinker. You sleep at your mother's breast; I wake in the desert. For me the sun shines; for you the moon and the stars. ”
― Hermann Hesse

5:05 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Susan-

Welcome back! Don't lurk; live! As the old medieval church saying goes, "Extra bloggem bermanem nulla salus"--there is no salvation outside of this blog.

mb

5:21 PM  
Anonymous DiogenesTheElder said...

Long time since I posted; I had to share this gem.

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2018/05/03/new-jersey-superintendent-defecated-on-high-school-football-field-on-daily-basis-cops-say.html

When I was in high school, there was a story of the so-called "mad bomber" who pooped in a shop classroom. This guy takes it to a whole other level. As we say often, just look at that face!


DTE

6:00 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

DTE-

Scroll back: jj actually beat you to it. But the more feces the better, is what I say.

Meanwhile, I am so excited that you and Susan have returned, I nearly fainted with joy.

Don't lurk; live!

mb

6:24 PM  
Blogger Sarasvati said...

I think that people tend to double down on their beliefs because, unconsciously, they’re really not sure they’re correct and so they indulge in constant self-reinforcement. This also explains proselytizing…the more people who believe as you do the more assured you are that you’re correct. However, you can be intelligent, educated, successful, wealthy and well respected, and still have it all wrong.

As I see it, the basic problem of humanity is one of wrong identification: people identify with their body/mind and their ego rather than with the awareness, or consciousness, that animates them and knows what’s happening. In this country, the ego is king and it’s killing us.

6:48 PM  
Anonymous DioGenes said...

Beautiful passage, Susan.

"When the great Dao is lost, goodness and piety begin. When the body's intelligence declines, cleverness takes hold. When there is no peace in the family, filial piety reigns. When the country falls into chaos, patriotism appears." - Dao De Ching

I think that both logos and mythos are destructive in isolation, which is precisely what the modern world has done. As a result, we don't have much of either.

"Logos" means scoring well on standardized tests and programming useless apps to solve normal human problems.

"Mythos" means watching meaningless superhero movies which turn the ancient sense of mythic participation into a bad caricature. These heroes are not inspirational; they are, by definition, freaks, whose stories are little more than harmless nerdy fantasies.

Choose logos or mythos, but today both are roads to a deficient cognitive compartmentalization.

7:11 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dio-

Very well said (unfortunately).

Zombie-

Jesus, you poor shmuck. You shd know that when I see yr name (among several others), I just delete automatically, w/o rdg yr message. Once someone attacks me personally, I have no interest in them or in anything they hafta say. What an empty life you must lead, that posting here, becoming an 'anti-Berman', makes sense to you, when you cd be learning French, or taking up cross-country skiing. You'll keep posting, of course--yr such a dumb bunny. But just know that I haven't read any of yr messages for a long while now, and that's not gonna change. You guys--there are a few of you--are so pathetic. But what the heck, knock yrselves out. What else is there, after all? Clearly, yr on the path to a rich and fulfilling existence.

mb

7:34 PM  
Blogger Kanye Cyrus said...

Sorry for posting to the old article MB, my browser screwed up.

Even though he makes some valid points, the thing that I don't like with Peterson is his Preaching tone. I bought 12 Rules for Life, read halfway through it and couldn't read it anymore. Beyond the lack of coherence - making a cocktail with quotes from the Bible, Evolutionary Psychology and Left wing-bashing in _every_ chapter into a different "rule" - what annoyed me the most is his Guru tone. "I know better than you and I will teach you how to be a better person, lost white male". Speaking of rules, one of mine in life is not to trust anyone who doesn't joke every now and then even when discussing serious topics, and JP definitely doesn't laugh a lot in his Youtube clips. It's no different from Rajneesh or Hedges really. Just another type of Mythos.

Meanwhile, this is quite on point:
http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/the-metoo-era-needs-some-sixties-spirit/21344#.WuudyMi-kWo

Kanye

7:46 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

K-

Yeah, grimness and lack of humor are a real tipoff to all these gurus, and these politicos. I can't imagine Hedges dancing, or cracking a joke; it seems utterly impossible. Also true of Peterson. And if or when grim people obtain any power, watch out! They are typically no better than the folks they replaced. And they are Oh! so important.

mb

8:16 PM  
Anonymous WuduFugel said...

Michael, thanks for the essay by Umair. As usual, he knocks it outta the park. It ties into an interview I put on the last post with Rick Shenkman and his book "Just how stupid are we?" When a culture becomes so dumbed-down, the only things that we can talk about in the public discourse are trivialities.

It made me think of that old Victorian story "Flatland". The main character is a square who lives in two-dimensional flatland. One day the square is visited by a sphere from a three dimensional world. The square finally realizes that a third dimension is possible, but can't convince anyone in flatland of this, and is eventually put into prison.

Most Americans, not all, but most - are flatlanders. They inhabit a world where everything is bad or good, liberal or conservative, democratic or republican, and so on. The problem is that reality is three-dimensional, it is complex and nuanced and difficult to understand. All our modern political discourse has done is diminish our ability to engage with this difficult reality. I don't see that changing soon either, unless everyone's TVs and smartphones blow up.

8:35 PM  
Blogger Allyn F said...


What you describe applies equally to scientific types. Someone said if a man’s paycheck depends on him believing something you won’t be able to change his mind. Submitting a scientific paper to a journal and getting a reviewer who’s career revolves around an opposing viewpoint can make your life hell. It gets to where you know who reviewed it based on the language in the comments section. We are all biased towards ourselves, natural selection “wants” us to think we’re the most important person around. Religions fight an uphill battle against this tendency, and secular society doesn’t seem to cut it either.

12:43 AM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

There are a million news stories in idiot America:

Actual headline: Nose-Picking Masturbator Nabbed Months After Terrorizing NYC Subway Riders in Separate Attacks. If that's all it takes to "terrorize" Americans these days, ISIS needs to rethink its strategy.

80-year-old school crossing guard pummeling--with bonus grabbing and pinching of female arresting officer's behind.

Modern day Penthouse letter: “We were called to the 1200 block of East Broadway to a report of a naked male underneath a car,” said Lt. Scott Powell of the Newton Police Department. ”.. He was attempting to stick his penis into the tailpipe of the vehicle.”

Socialized medicine is evil: Hospital charged a woman $5,751 for an ice-pack and a bandage.

And lastly: Yale rescinds Bill Cosby's honorary degree. War criminal president's ACTUAL Yale degree still valid.

1:39 AM  
Anonymous Prasenjit Sen said...

Hi Sunbeam... Thanks for info about the book. Looks interesting.

More than lamb, pork vindaloo is my fav (and popular, so far as I can tell). Not surprisingly, you will get the best vindaloo in Goa, a tiny state on the west coast of India that was under Portuguese control till 1961.

Prasen

2:19 AM  
Anonymous Italiana said...

Good morning Wafers - sorry about being away from posting for so long! I always read everyone's posts, enlightening all!

I couldn't resist posting this - a new essay by Linh Dinh. http://www.unz.com/ldinh/tokyo-dreaming/ He's in Tokyo, and so accurately captures the destructive influence of US/American 'culture' on Japan (and any other nation that was 'saved' by the US.)

Every day I see the quality of the discourse in the US getting worse and worse, it's amazing the inanity of it all. Is all of America being deliberately distracted by small shiny objects? I'm not sure there is that much planning going on. There truly seems to be no thought anymore.

We'll be leaving soon for our 4 1/2 months in Italy - can't wait to get back to our little village, where everyone isn't hustling all the time, and we have long conversations over local wine in our garden.

8:03 AM  
Blogger dg said...

MB et al,

RE: Hero or Horseshit?

Respectfully... Judging by the posts here, Wafers don't seem to be able to ignore Peterson any more than those they hold in contempt. This is the last place I'd expect to be talking about the latest fad more than a year on.

Way too much emotion/attention for/paid to him here--of all places! There has to be something else going on with the reaction to this guy that we're missing.

8:28 AM  
Anonymous Susan W. said...

Thanks for the welcome! It's been a while. I had never heard of Jordan Peterson until I read a post about him on this blog so I looked him up and watched a long interview with him by Russell Brand. From what I gathered he was (and perhaps still is) a working professor and counselor who gained notoriety when he objected to a Canadian law mandating speech concerning gender conform to certain p.c. standards. He stated this was an infringement of his rights of free speech and then of course -- the crowd went crazy. He correctly stated there are only two sexes and nature decides which one you are. I didn't find anything he had to say particularly controversial or original and, I must admit, it was refreshing to hear someone stand up for men. And to do it in a civil manner.

9:52 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

dg-

Yr way off base, amigo. This blog is keenly attuned to significant cultural phenomena. For better or worse, Peterson belongs in that category. Hence, this is the *right* place to be discussing him.

italiana-

Per favore, ragazza, take me with you! Stick me in a suitcase, punch holes in it, and feed me vitello tonnato on the flight over.

Waferinos-

You might enjoy the review I just did on Amazon of Scott Erickson's bk, "The History of the Decline and Fall of America."

mb

10:18 AM  
Blogger Gunnar Burton said...

For anyone interested in a Christianity better fitted to the 21st century (if such a thing is possible) check out John Dominic Crossan, John Shelby Spong, or my fav Marcus Borg who basically said the real trinity Americans worship all begin with the letter A *Achievement, Appearance, and Affluence*

The whole fuel standard debate makes me shake my head - "don't hurt consumers" by forcing manufacturers to spend $ to improve gas mileage. Fuckin' amazing to me how the lemmings blindly accept the fact that any increase in innovation or taxes is passed straight thru for them to pay. How fucking cynical are our corporate overlords 'go ahead raise it all b/c u ain't hurting us you're taking it out on your constituents.' My dad always said you can't hurt the rich they always have a trap door.

11:54 AM  
Anonymous Millennial Realist said...

MB,

I just received a copy of AQOV & SSIG. After reading the first 60 pages of AQOV, I started to think about our negative identity and "endless frontier" mindset in today's news. Regarding Trump & Russian collusion, it may indeed be true. However, the media and our politicians have really taken this to an absurd level. Now everything is blamed on the Russians! https://www.texastribune.org/2018/05/03/hysteria-over-jade-helm-exercise-texas-was-fueled-russians-former-cia-/
^^ Of course, the hysteria over Obama somehow invading Texas is blatantly absurd as well. Many Americans are profoundly ignorant. But it just goes to show how the U.S. needs someone to blame in order to feel satisfied. I guess the war on terrorism is losing its spark.

Regarding our endless frontier, planet Earth isn't enough for Jeff Bozo. I know I've posted about him quite a bit recently, but I wanted to highlight this sickness of "more." Here's a few of his quotes I've located from recent articles:

"I'm pursuing this work because I believe if we don't, we will eventually end up with a civilization of stasis, which I find very demoralizing." Humans "all enjoy a dynamic civilization of growth and change," and space travel is integral to that continuing, he said.

”If we had a trillion humans, we would have a thousand Einsteins and a thousand Mozarts and unlimited (for all practical purposes) resources and solar power unlimited for all practical purposes,” he said.

^^ Wafers, this is a very empty man. He has to look outside for growth, as opposed to inwards.

12:51 PM  
Anonymous Mike R. said...

WAFER Allyn F--you hit the hammer on the nail! Good luck to anyone thkg that "peer-review" is mostly honest, ethical, and based on merit. The man's paychk is dependent on having a certain unyielding view, and that certain view brings in grant funding, journal papers, and self-promotion.

WAFER Italiana-thx for the link re: Japan. It's infested with american hoo hah-spent only a few wks there, and the author is spot on. Hopefully, as america declines even further, countries can rediscover who they really are and who they really want to be after being "saved" by america. us Commodore Perry saved Japan by threatening to bomb the capital if they didn't open up trade w/ the west. Yep, many Japanese thk Perry 'saved' them.

1:02 PM  
Blogger librarian@play said...

I forget who said this, and I paraphrase: Live with passion but govern with reason. Perhaps implied in this, but grossly overlooked, is the need to make the passionate life and reasonable governance coexist harmoniously.

1:30 PM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Dr. Berman

You can add a 2nd person to your list and you've been right all along, myself. I thought if one could present a logical argument including showing contradictions it would change someone's mind. I lost a good friend because even though he and I agreed on feminism and political correctness when I showed him how inconsistent his own belief system was when it came to the Bible he just raged at me. At times, he still hen pecks me in my pm, puts me on ignore so I can't respond and does this in a loop. What I noticed is this, people can see the fallacies against other people's beliefs systems and make excellent arguments against them but when one uses the same arguments against that person's belief system they become enraged. There was an episode of Star Trek DS9 during the Dominion War and on one of the ships one of the Gem'Adar was nit picking, picking apart and making fun of the Bajorian Gods. The Cardassian pointed out and said that you see the founders as Gods and have similar beliefs when it comes to the founders. The Gem'Adar said in a serious voice "The founders are gods."

1:57 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

cube-

Looks like the old crowd is coming back. Great to 'see' you again, amigo. Don't lurk; live!

What wd yr friend do w/o the bible? Probably get a .357 Magnum and blow his brains out. Lots of Americans feel the same way about the US.

mb

2:43 PM  
Anonymous George Carlin said...

From my personal experience of a decade in the US, I found that people are highly insecure. The corporations and govt have done a splendid job of making people insecure and fearful. They have been told that the purpose of life is to get to Top 1%, which basically means 99% will be unhappy. Everybody is sad and insecure and add on top of that racism and everybody is right on the edge of lashing out at any target they can find to make themselves feel secure. Racism is not just white on non white but almost everyone, immigrants on immigrants etc. It's almost as if the culture gets the worst out of people. I think this insecurity is also the reason for whatever fake "success" the US has because people have few relationships and so it is all about hustling to satisfy their ego and insecurity. Take the case of Rajat Gupta, ex MD of McKinsey. His father was an Indian freedom fighter and mother a teacher. Gupta went through a lot of struggle to achieve success but that was not enough. Had to be a billionaire and got convicted of insider trading.

And when it comes to cops, not only are they insecure but they have it in spades. While driving with my friends on an empty highway in Boston a cop drove behind us for a while and then passed by us at first but later slowed down and pulled us over. He was red faced while approaching us and had his hand on the gun or taser, I think. I was scared and told him I didn't know why he stopped us. He said while passing by us he could see in his rear view mirror that we were laughing and making fun of him. Didn't know if i should laugh or cry at this.

America should be the land of the greedy and the home of the racists.

Another good story here. If only they had guns...

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-santa-monica-parking-lot-fight-20180503-story.html

3:00 PM  
Anonymous foofy said...

mb, re: JP, following dg, I think that the Wafer answer would be that JP has correctly stated the problem - the Failure and collapse of white supremacist culture - which he calls "chaos" - but, like any good opportunist, he'll sell you his 12-step recipe-in-a-book - as if that, or anything else, could seize the day from maw of darkness.

more towards dg's point: why should a Wafer care ? I think that the answer is that a bunch of tiki-torch-wielding knuckle heads whining about their MAGA-hat dreams deferred, and all with JP's inculcated rugged individualism and a steely self-bootstrapped spines, are likely to find the faults of their stars not within themselves, as they are wont to do.

But, I do want to question you, mb, about some of what seems, at least to me, unstated suppositions of the group - which read, to me, like what has been called elsewhere as "the politics of inevitably," but will now be described as the idea that: history drives the future, and culture creates individuals, rather that the opposite. I'll describe it further, with more detail, in response, on future days.

3:47 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

foofy-

Personally, I don't believe these circles (vicious or otherwise) run in only one direction. Culture certainly creates individuals, but then the individuals reproduce the culture in their own lives; which then creates individuals, etc. Chicken and egg.

George-

Yr lucky you didn't get killed. Seriously.

mb

4:27 PM  
Anonymous Esca Dreg said...

In our objective nothing-objectionable world everything is about an "object". So why not fall in love, marry and 'make out' with it?
Heartbreak Is Hard, Even When Your Lover Is the Eiffel Tower.
https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/nnqpnm/breaking-up-with-the-eiffel-tower
http://www.wkrn.com/news/ohio-man-arrested-after-trying-to-have-sex-with-a-van/1091397705

Having made love to a fence, postcoital bliss!
https://youtu.be/8qnIpkiBTTM?t=1288

Objectophilia : "a world in which people seem hostile and objects friendly and even affectionate and loving. Imagine dreading a touch of another human but longing for a passionate encounter with a large public structure. Naisho is a 37 year old woman who lives in San Francisco. She is married to the Eiffel Tower and her name in the passport is indeed Tour Eiffel as she had had it changed legally . She has always had a passion for objects and felt often isolated, misunderstood."

Misunderstood? In an asylum for the insane the sane will question his/her sanity. Wafers, be forewarned.
What a world we have created! Lord blimey!!

4:53 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

MB-

Well, I'm currently reading Scott Erickson's "The History of the Decline and Fall of America" and it's a hoot, however, his narrative is *awfully* close to yr line of thinking and the portrait that you present in the Berman Trilogy. I'm pleased that you pointed this out right away in yr amazon review. As the progenitor of the intellectual movement known as American Declinism (AD), I'm disappointed that Erickson failed to mention you in his satire. I dunno, he could of at least created a character named Dr. Mauricio Bermundez of Mexico who had recognized the death of the US long b4 it actually occurred. I'm having fun reading it, but I'm a bit peeved, in any case.

Miles

ps: Shades of Freddie Wadsworth:

http://www.cjonline.com/news/20180503/kansas-man-arrested-for-attempted-sex-with-car

5:28 PM  
Anonymous DioGenes said...

“In the United States we think we have at our disposal virtually everything—and I emphasize the word “think.” We have big houses and cars, good medical treatment, jets, trains and monorails; we have computers, good communications, many comforts and conveniences. But where have they gotten us? We have an abundance of material things, but a successful society produces happy people, and I think we produce more miserable people than almost anyplace on earth. I’ve traveled all over the world, and I’ve never seen people who are quite as unhappy as they are in the United States. We have plenty, but we have nothing, and we always want more. In the pursuit of material success as our culture measures it, we have given up everything. We have lost the capacity to produce people who are joyful. The pursuit of the material has become our reason for living, not enjoyment of living itself.”

― Marlon Brando, Songs My Mother Taught Me

5:48 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jeff-

It cd well be soft plagiarism, but the book is so funny I thought I'd give him the benefit of the doubt. It's even possible he never read my work. Plus, he deals a lot with futuristic stuff, which I haven't really written about except in a desultory fashion. (This part wd be more in line w/Lionel Shriver.) In any case, as the reality of American decline seeps into the consciousness of America, and more writers get on the bandwagon, I have a feeling I'll be left in the dust. Only the Chinese, 50 yrs from now, digging thru the ruins of American libraries, will say: "Gung hay fat choy! This guy Belman--he had it before anyone else." Boy, I cd do w/some Szechuan food rt now.

As for Dr. Bermundez, you'll be amused to know that I am a character in the following Mexican novel:

https://www.amazon.com/Zero-Sum-Game-Eduardo-Rabasa/dp/1941920381/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1525470147&sr=1-1&keywords=eduardo+rabasa

It was written by my Mexican editor, and is basically the fictionalized version of my depiction of society going to hell in a basket. Very funny in a dark sorta way. In any case, I appear as a silent guru, "Dr. Seeman." 'See' in Spanish is 'ver', and as v and b are often interchanged, Dr. Seeman is thus Dr. Berman. Altho (or because) he says nothing, he is sorta idolized from afar--like a GSWH. The bk was translated into French, got a rave review in Le Monde. Original Spanish title: La suma de los ceros.

mb

5:50 PM  
Anonymous Joshua said...

Mr Berman--you used the name Mother Theresa. It's been said of Mother Theresa that she espoused the evil of contraception, to an Indian diaspora bereft of (but desperate for) birth control. Denied courtesy of the Catholic Missionaries, causing the biggest famine of all time.

She might have been a wry and contemplative old woman, but che was a soft monster

10:07 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Josh-

It's not clear to me how that invalidates what she said abt the United States.

mb

10:40 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Wafers-

It's the fundamental kindness of the American heart that always impresses me:

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/may/04/native-american-students-colorado-state-college-tour-police

mb

10:46 PM  
Anonymous Aaron Thomas said...

Joshua, I’m not catholic, but blaming mother Theresa for the largest famine of all time just smells like bullshit and I think you just want some reason to bash her. The Catholic Church teaches natural family planning which is extremely difficult. People choose to have kids if they half ass natural family planning and have unprotected sex, that’s just stupidity on the part of the people having sex. I believe 90%+ of catholics use birth control anyway, they just ignore what the church teaches. Famine is due to governments, not religious people.

10:46 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Wafers-

If you parse this speech Trump just gave to the NRA, you'll see that he is largely incoherent. CNN thinks this is bad. I think this is exactly what we need in a president rt now, and in future up to the pt that the country implodes:

https://edition.cnn.com/2018/05/04/politics/donald-trump-speech-nra/index.html

Go, Trumpi!

mb

9:19 AM  
Anonymous troutbum said...

Dr. MB and all fellow Wafers:

Today, I cite a delicious piece posted at Naked Capitalism entitled, " How Bill Cosby, Obama and Mega-preachers Sold Economic Snake Oil to Black America". It's an interview with Lester K. Spence, who is the author of a book with a great Wafer title, " Knocking the Hustle" found here : http://a.co/8oP3IpO .
Here's one quote from the interview : " he describes a shift in America that took place when a new crop of intellectuals successfully sold the idea that everybody and everything ought to be judged by market competition and market-oriented behavior, something you call the “neoliberal turn.”
https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2018/05/bill-cosby-obama-mega-preachers-sold-economic-snake-oil-black-america.html

11:39 AM  
Blogger Gunnar Burton said...

This blog has completely ruined me now that I see all the botox faced celebrities and "news" anchors. So many of these women (and not a few men) have so much cheek filler that they either look like ventriloquist dummies or ravenous squirrels. Trans is the new feminine mystique.

Watching Netflix docu 'Bobby Kennedy for President' 1) I think Nixon woulda trounced him and 2) all the unrest of late 60's early 70's proves for me that there is no way to save the system from itself within itself - best possible advice, grossly misunderstood as apathy (numb out), must have been 'turn on, tune in, drop out.'

1:07 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Gunnar-

Once you realize that it's a turkey country filled w/turkey people, a great sense of calm will come over you. Trust me on this.

mb

1:30 PM  
Anonymous Anjin-san said...

There should be lots of interesting information on Marx as today is the 200th anniversary of his birth.

The Real News has an interesting video highlighting his insight that the means of production is perhaps the main shaper of culture.

Worth a look.


https://youtu.be/uHxOBrd9tWE

2:07 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Bro-

Cdn't run it (half page rule).

mb

2:39 PM  
Anonymous DioGenes said...

I can't get enough of this story.

https://www.vox.com/2018/5/2/17310444/hobby-lobby-bible-museum-antiquities-iraq-smuggling-illegal-artifacts-doj

I'm sure the Museum of the Bible really grapples with the big questions of early religion in Mesopotamia and the Levant.

I guess everything before shopping malls is just a period of history known as "The Bible"?

It's such a shame to be so bereft of history. History is the only way we can gain any real context for meaning in our lives. I can't imagine what it's like to be one of these people that doesn't have much of a sense of dates and events before WWII.

When people say something pre 1980s is old, I just laugh.

4:51 PM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

@Gunnar--unfortunately, my wife still watches CNN and the nightly "news" on a regular basis, and I can often hear the broadcast from an adjoining room even though I do my best to tune it out. What strikes me is just how screechy the female news anchors' voices always are--cutting through the air like a hot electric knife. It's truly unpleasant on the ears. The male anchors' voices aren't nearly as noticeable, though what they say is obviously just as imbecilic.

Here's an interesting essay from Ted Rall: America is One of the Few Cultures with Insults for Smart People. "At least among Western cultures and compared to many others, we Americans enjoy the dubious distinction of having a high degree of linguistic diversity it comes to mocking the smart and the educated (who, I can attest as the expellee-cum-graduate of an Ivy League school, are not always the same). Bookworm. Brain. Brainiac. Dork. Dweeb. Egghead. Freak. Grind. Grub. Longhair. Nerd. Poindexter. Pointy-headed. Smarty-pants. Techie."

Unfortunately, Rall uses Trump over Botoxface as an example of Americans' preference for the dumb, when that race was more an example of how when a dumb/dumb person runs against a dumb smart person, dumb/dumb will win every time.

5:41 PM  
Blogger jjarden said...

The people’s tyrant: what Plato can teach us about Donald Trump...

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.vox.com/platform/amp/policy-and-politics/2016/11/7/13512960/donald-trump-plato-democracy-tyranny-fascism-2016-elections

5:54 PM  
Anonymous Esca Dreg said...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WvksRlJACA4
Holocaust excuse: You would think victimized people to have higher empathy?

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/may/05/trump-team-hired-spy-firm-dirty-ops-iran-nuclear-deal
https://www.democracynow.org/2013/4/19/exclusive_allan_nairn_exposes_role_of
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/may/23/israel-south-africa-nuclear-weapons
https://www.haaretz.com/.premium-turning-blood-into-money-1.5383840
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/19/world/americas/mexico-spyware-anticrime.html
http://www.newsweek.com/israel-flagged-top-spy-threat-us-new-snowdennsa-document-262991
https://www.geopolitica.ru/en/article/israeli-assistance-dictator-regimes
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2U-LwvEChY0

6:21 PM  
Blogger Dan Daniel said...

Good timing and a good angle for me to re-approach the issue of 'narrative' and its destructive affect on culture. I see the focus on story from the smallest self-help platitudes to the infantile comic-strip behavior of the whole cast that make up the perverted Dance Macabre being led by Trump. Everything seems to be compressed into the basic Hollywood screenwriting 101 outline. Looking forward to tracking down your references, once I stop cringing every time I see the word 'myth' and develop a deeper understanding such as Jacobs offers.

9:08 PM  
Anonymous BrotherMaynard said...

George-
Top 1% work for 0.01% and live high pressure, high stress lives. See:
https://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/04/business/dealbook/tragedies-draw-attention-to-wall-streets-grueling-pace.html
And:
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/15/business/lawyers-addiction-mental-health.html

Doesn't sound like a healthy and happy life, does it? Cuernavca, the city of perpetual spring, is a wonderful city. Don't tell the gringos how nice it is; they'll ruin the place.

Bill- I recall in 2000 Bush vs. Gore. The line was 'who would you rather have a beer with?' Why this is basis for electing the president is beyond me. The implication was that Gore was an uptight egghead who read books- the average American couldn't relate.

BrotherMaynard

10:00 PM  
Blogger mike said...

I read your article. I say to myself after digesting it for a bit well yes at some level with people mainly functioning out of ego consciousness the arguments presented are reasonably accurate. And yet the age of reason which I re-frame as the age of growing ego consciousness, has brought us technology and impending massive ecological destruction. Our age of the machine is a result of a projection if you will of the ego on life using reason/logic/science. My sense is that we require imagination manifesting from the the mythological field/Mystery to provide the new stories that will move us beyond our present malignant narcissism/worldview. This will require openness to the imaginative field balanced by reason. In order to do this requires the individual to become conscious of their ego, how fearful it is (the holding on to beliefs) and how it uses reason for its own ends. My father was a hard core scientist for 50 years. His life is based on reason, nothing exists to him unless it is proven scientifically. To him God/Mystery is a lie. And yet his embracing of science/reason/logic is once again just another belief system, fundamentalist at that. He has limited consciousness of his own ego, and its my guess he is fearful of myth and its potential to knock his ego down to size. Reason will not get us to the new stories we require, it is a helpful tool for observing and taking in life and needs to be seen clearly as also being very dangerous to life when serving King ego.

10:59 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Bro-

Someone once said that the election of Ike over Adlai Stevenson in 1952 was "the victory of the shoe salesmen over the intellectuals." That election was a real turning pt, it seems to me.

mb

11:28 PM  
Anonymous foofy said...

mb, re: vicious circles, chickens, eggs and the so-called "politics of inevitability," the idea that I'm looking for a comment from you about, if you are so willing, I think is well described by you recently in your book review, where you write: "... (t)hey may have learned in school that every previous civilization went the route of birth/efflorescence/decay, but somehow ..." as if, this fact of history is somehow an ineluctable rule of nature, like gravity. Now, mind you, its not at all that I disagree with your analysis of the failure and collapse of this american carnage culture composed of white-supremacism, but I do want to discuss your repeated notion that the failure could somehow be "pre-determined" by history, so to speak.

From my perspective, such is somewhat "magical thinking," I think, and stated and repeatedly stated by so many, including you, as such just leads to yet another "leader" re-surfacing thinking that they can somehow beat the roulette-wheel of history with a yet another 1,000 year reich based on yet another form of white-supremacism - because, well, what else is there for a man to do but to become, like ozymandias: king of kings?

11:42 PM  
Anonymous Tom Servo said...

@Bill Hicks,

The sad thing is that even smart Americans are “dumb” in the sense that they buy into many of the worst aspects of American culture. Americans seem to bounce between gross anti-intellectualism and a naïve belief in progress defined as endless technological and economic growth. The influence of both of these traditions can be seen in the American lifestyle. For every conservative who laughs at climate science while driving his massive SUV there is a liberal who thinks the tech industry is clean and progressive while ignoring the pollution and deplorable labor conditions involved in mining for the rare earth metals used to make their favorite gadgets.

12:05 AM  
Anonymous Artemus Gordon said...

Nice essay and comments about the tendency to double down on stupid. I never knew about the historic trend of this tendency. Hell, I figured doubling down on stupid was just one more feature of our shitty culture and its need to turn everything into a competition. It's all lies, spin and propaganda to keep the hustle going no matter what anymore.

12:05 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

foofy-

As far as rise and fall of civs goes: well, it *is* pretty much like the law of gravity. The list of 1st-rate thinkers, from Toynbee on, who have looked into this issue confirms this analysis. What they disagree on is the crucial factor responsible for bringing a civ down--the why of it, so to speak--but there is no disagreement regarding the fact (inevitability) of it. It seems to me that it is your perspective here that is caught up in magical thinking.

Magical thinking wd also include your notion that a bunch of intellectuals might tempt some 'leader' to outflank history. If Hitler did read Oswald Spengler, I doubt he was consequently moved by this abstract argument to seize power. He was far more practically oriented than that. As for Trumpi--he doesn't even read! You seriously think he read Joseph Tainter, for example (WAY beyond his intellectual capabilities) and then said: "I'll show him! I'll beat the roulette wheel of history!" My friend, this is not how politics works. Not even close.

mb

12:15 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Tom-

Ain't it the truth? Americans are full of shit across the entire political spectrum. They simply can't connect the dots. I have a friend, very smart guy, who is careful all the time to call black people "African Americans," but is really into his smartfone. When I pt out that the manufacture and use of these fones is killing young black men in the Congo on a daily basis (a cause taken up by actress Robin Wright, among others), he has no response except to keep using his smartfone, and keep saying "African Americans." (If there's one thing political correctness won't do, it's save lives.) Similarly, I imagine millions of conservatives are happy with the fact that in the context of the Cold War, we 'won' the space race and put a man on the moon (think of the quantum calculations involved in such a project), but think things like evolution and climate change are hoaxes. But what the heck: not connecting the dots can only serve to accelerate our declinist trajectory. There's always a silver lining!

mb

12:36 AM  
Anonymous Megan said...

Jjarden,

Thanks for the Vox article on Plato and Trump. I followed one of the links in it to the one listed below, which I thought was even better. Very prescient and insightful:



http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/04/america-tyranny-donald-trump.html

3:59 AM  
Anonymous Puss Killian said...

In the Counterpunch article, the author uses the 2000 Presidential election of Bush over Gore as evidence that Americans are stupid. While Americans are most definitely stupid, this is a poorly chosen supporting argument, with cherry picked anecdotes to lend credence.

The article in the NY Mag notes what really happened in deciding that election: "In 2000, George W. Bush lost the popular vote and won the election thanks to Electoral College math and, more egregiously, to a partisan Supreme Court vote. Al Gore’s eventual concession spared the nation a constitutional crisis, but the episode generated widespread unease, not just among Democrats." I remember this vividly.

The Counterpunch article then states that Bushy only "acted stupid" (plenty of anecdotal evidence to refute that, or he was giving an Oscar winning performance). Even worse, the author notes that Bush was a teetotaler. Bush was and is an alcoholic on the wagon, not just someone who merely abstains.

While I definitely agree with the thesis of the Counterpunch article, the arguments and fact checking are weak. If the intent was to convince people, the weaknesses of the article do a disservice.

Unlike the great Dr. Belman's books and GBWH.

9:08 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Puss-

GSWH.

mb

10:16 AM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

The signs of decline are too numerous to count. I see this report as another, though it could be seen as countervailing evidence.

“On Tuesday [8 May], the Utah [“free range”] law will come into effect. It changes the state's definition of neglect to allow children of "sufficient age and maturity" to engage in independent activities like walking to and from school.”

The solons of Utah, inspired by at least one egregious case from 2014, have decided that parents need to be protected from one another and the instruments of power by a law that allows for the possibility that not all children moving freely about a town or city are either in imminent danger of harm or are suggestive of parental neglect.

The 2014 case occurred in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC. A concerned adult observed children of the Meitiv family walking home by themselves; their father had earlier left his sons to play in a park near their home. The adult enlisted the police, who picked up the children and returned them to their home. Shortly afterward, representatives from Child Protective Services visited to ensure the children were being properly cared for. This kind of CPS involvement—some would say interference—has played itself out numerous times across our country, and while there are ample cases of true neglect or abuse of children, not every perambulating child is a victim demanding intervention.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-43997862

12:35 PM  
Blogger Jack Lattemann said...

In this week’s news from Cascadia, we have a pathetic example about how this Merican culture is driving peple absolutely nuts. In Bothell, Washington, a northern suburb of Seattle, one Eli Aldinger, 22, deliberately ran over two pedestrians (both still alive but hospitalized) with his car because he didn’t want to go to work any longer to a job he hated and wanted a prison sentence to change the direction of his life. Aldinger told responding police, “I’m not happy with the direction my life is going. I’ve been working in the food industry for five years and hate it.” He was looking forward to spending “a few years in a room” and wasn’t looking for notoriety.

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/crime/police-man-deliberately-mowed-down-pedestrians-in-bothell-to-avoid-going-to-work/

https://www.king5.com/article/news/crime/1-million-bail-for-bothell-driver-who-reportedly-hit-pedestrians-on-purpose/281-546329697

Meanwhile, the mainstream media trumpet that “the economy keeps on delivering” – but exactly what?

https://www.seattletimes.com/business/us-adds-164000-jobs-in-april-jobless-rate-down-to-3-9-pct/

1:35 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jack-

I guess it didn't bother him too much to try to resolve his own misery by seriously hurting other people. Eli is a true American, no doubt abt it.

mb

1:45 PM  
Blogger Zarathustra said...

Megan, I'm sorry but that article in New York Magazine by Andrew Sullivan about tyranny, Trump and Plato seems to me just proof of what Dr Berman likes to say: in the US even smart people are stupid. I don't have the energy to unpick all the stupidity in the article but I'll make a couple of comments.

Part of American democracy’s stability is owed to the fact that the Founding Fathers had read their Plato. To guard our democracy from the tyranny of the majority and the passions of the mob, they constructed large, hefty barriers between the popular will and the exercise of power.

Say what? The whole point of the US from the beginning was to give the people (and not even everybody until the Civil Rights Act, which hasn't lasted very long, by the way) the illusion of freedom and democracy, while being nothing of the sort. As it has been mentioned before, the "US experiment" was never an experiment in "democracy" but in mass mind control.

The emergence of the first black president — unimaginable before our more inclusive democracy — is miraculous, a strengthening, rather than weakening, of the system.

Excuse me while I vomit.

“America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between.”

3:30 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Bro-

Cdn't run it (24-hr rule). I need to ask you to be scrupulous about timing and length of yr posts. Thank you.

mb

3:58 PM  
Anonymous George Carlin said...

MB - Haha I know, I was lucky that the officer was compassionate enough to let me live on.

Bro - More than the stress I believe its the toxic environment. Even if you love the work and are willing to put in the hours, if you have miserable people around you, it will be exhausting to work for even an hour. But yes whatever the cause, its not a happy life, far from it.

4:43 PM  
Blogger jjarden said...

Three New York City muggers jumped a teen for his expensive-looking sneakers that turned out to be fakes...

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2018/05/06/nyc-muggers-jump-teen-for-2g-air-jordans-which-turn-out-to-be-fake.html


Former NYC media player finds himself living in homeless shelter after life took ‘unfathomable’ downward spiral

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-media-player-finds-living-homeless-shelter-article-1.3973912

6:21 PM  
Blogger Gunnar Burton said...

There's a telephone call from JFK to his brother (Netflix docu RFK for president) upset that his approval rating had dropped from 76% to 70%, wow, when's the last time one of our fearless leaders had 70% approval?


The 3rd episode is heartbreaking. Seems like all decency (I know he wasn't a saint) died with him that night in L.A. It's been one cartoon caricature after another pissing on the people & obstructing any last ember of hope.

6:32 PM  
Anonymous Mike R. said...

(Anecdotal) Case Studies in Decline: Italian immigrant family that owns multiple homes w/outbuildings inc. new construction inc many bathrooms, all for the air bnb business on tiny city lots. They make so much, they say; the americans love them b/c of their accents and their ciao ciao! Being frequently displaced from their own bed and toilet is "no biggie" b/c the money is much!

They state they love the side hu$tle; shit phone beeping endlessly with business. All smiles. Any respectful questions to the contrary (destroying neighborhood communities, driving up rent, folks coming/going all hours, failure of the empire to provide real jobs, etc.) reveals silence---akin to dropping the dinner tray, or looks of constipated discomfort, & eye rolling (disdain).

Asked why not garden, read, nature walks, travel, etc...they said, "cannot do that, we're always thkg about the next thing, and cannot remain still, always need to be thkg about the next project or next move." In Italy, you can't make all this money. It's great." We're putting in a pool next!"

Cleveland Moffett's article came to mind in the Illustrated American, 1895 re: american restlessness for a buck. Even non-native americans could not escape the us mind control of hu$tling and huckstering. It was if their "Italian-ness" was reduced to mamma mia stereotypes to ramp-up the: sell sell sell, buy buy buy.

The us appeared to be a 'shit magnet;" a collection of jokes dressed up as humans whose only commonality was to get a bigger paychk.


6:46 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Mike-

Check out a film called "Big Night."

mb

6:55 PM  
Anonymous DioGenes said...

@Bill

Great article. I've often had similar thoughts myself. Asian Americans, for instance, get quietly insulted for 'being good at math'. If you accept this dubious stereotype, it's still totally backwards. Why would you mock people for being better than you at something?

Also, if you do get labeled a 'nerd', why would you isolate yourself by accepting this label? The majority that do this are a good portion of the smart but dumb types. I'm thinking of the fancy DC press corps and their annual WH correspondents dinner, which they have now termed 'nerd prom'.

I'm also thinking of how the label is now also meaningless, since you can become a nerd just by playing certain board games and watching bad sci-fi remakes.

I think most of the self-identifying nerds I knew in HS were actually dumber than the jocks, and were worse personalities. Americans on the whole are so dumb that they assume a kind of clear social neuroticism must mean somebody is some kind of genius.

8:01 PM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

@James Allen--my take on that Utah law is that while I detest the way children are no longer allowed to be children anymore (at least if they belong to Top 20%-er households), it also bothers me that the Utah legislature apparently has so few other pressing concerns as to pass a law prohibiting something that happened exactly once in a state all the way across the country from them. This strikes me as another example of how we are being governed by imbeciles who (like with Trump bombing Syria) react emotionally and irrationally to "news" stories they don't like. Just as irrationally, I might add, as the Maryland police and DCFS officials who didn't just tell the original complainant to butt out and mind their own fucking business.

Regarding the discussion of whether America is ripe for tyranny, it obviously is--but anyone who argues, as both sides of our idiot political divide do, that it will come from the other side is full of shit. When tyranny comes it will almost certainly be some sort of military dictatorship--and polls show that a substantial number of Americans, including Millennials, would support it. And given what a hard-on the American media has for the military industrial complex (that moaning noise you heard when Trump bombed Syria was a bunch of cable news anchors, including Rachel Maddow, orgasming), it's unlikely it would face much in the way of opposition.

8:58 PM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Dr B.

Even in the Bible it speaks against the love of money is the root of all evil yet we as a nation claim we're a Christian nation yet love money. Go Figure!

Guess what? My wife and I are moving to the United Arab Emirates for a while. I'm nervous about that. We do got to get back to learning our Arabic though.

9:38 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

cube-

Wow! You really took my injunction to quit the US seriously. Keep in mind at all times, while yr there, that u.r. surrounded by terrorists and infidels.

Insh'allah!

mb

10:13 PM  
Anonymous Esca Dreg said...

The Moravian Massacre: The missionaries who brought Jesus to the Lenape only to betray them.
https://youtu.be/cwf25wmxDI4?t=2135

Imagine standing shoulder to shoulder with your family and friends, unshackled and unbound facing the wall, awaiting your turn. Then the heavy cooper's mallet on the back of your head from the hands of people you trusted -not spared, 29 women, 39 children. Scalped while dying -one, scalped and left for dead, who lived to tell of the horrific cruelty of the pious white men of Pennsylvania.
https://youtu.be/cwf25wmxDI4?t=1273
It was 1782 America: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness." Happiness?
https://youtu.be/cwf25wmxDI4?t=2628

"The enemy boasted, 'I will pursue and catch up with them. I will plunder them and consume them. My lust shall be satisfied'."
EXODUS 15:9. https://cdn.history.com/sites/2/2018/03/GettyImages-170517867.jpg
Why would ​the ​Presbyterian minister​ C.H who believes in​ ​​divine justice​ call to intervene to prevent God's wrath?​

11:05 PM  
Anonymous Megan said...

Zarathustra,

Well, I agree about Obama part--that made me cringe too. But I'm surprised you found so much to object to in the rest of the essay. I thought his analysis of the Trump cult's rise was spot-on, and even more impressive since he wrote this before Trump was elected. As for the part about Madison and Plato, I can only say that I agree with them both, and I don't think "pure democracy" would be a good thing. Indeed, I'm thankful for, say, our undemocratic courts, that have checked some of Trump's worst excesses. Democracy sounds good, but do you really want the mercurial whims of 320 million, "Left Behind"-reading Americans (one third of whom believe the sun revolves around the earth) to dictate every policy? I don't. For every informed and intelligent Zarathustra out there, there are millions of frothing-at-the-mouth, Kardashian-loving turkeys! I tremble at the terrors they might unleash without some Madisonian bulwarks! At any rate, I think Sullivan's arguments in favor of limited democracy are controversial--but certainly not "stupid".

The more interesting question to me is whether American constitutional system COULD have worked in different circumstances? If, for example, we had rejected Hamilton's drunkenly expansive vision in favor Jefferson's more tempered outlook, would Kim's buttocks still have been inevitable?

4:52 AM  
Anonymous Mike Kelly said...

Hi MB and Wafers,

I just completed reading a book mentioned by Dr. B on this blog. It's The Overstory by Richard Powers. It was one of the most enjoyable works of fiction I have read in a long time. The book started off as very Waferian, and in spite of my fears, it never wavered off into optimism or solutions for the future, except to recommend that we wait for the worst to be over and then start to rebuild. Most of the book's main characters could be described as Wafers. So, thank you Dr. B for a fine reading recommendation.

I have a question for my fellow Wafers: have any of read any of Richard Powers' other works? If so, any you would recommend? Thanks!

8:34 AM  
Anonymous Cel-Ray Tonic said...

Cube: Congrats on getting out. A co-worker of mine is moving to Qatar with her husband to work on a desalination plant or something or other.

WAFers. I had a typically Amerikkkan moment this weekend. Sitting at the bar doing a crossword or 2 the three guys next to me carried on a 3 hour (!) conversation entirely about sports, and the whole time they (loudly) kept trying to one-up each other with a better story. Eventually even I could tell they were lying, but they just HAD to one up the other. Now I like watching Rugby and Soccer and enjoy talking about them, but 3 hours? Jeez.

8:56 AM  
Blogger Zarathustra said...

Bill, I don't think Trump reacted emotionally and bombed Syria. He just did what he was told by the permanent state. Apparently, the real targets in Syria were not a few buildings that supposedly served as chemical weapons labs, but airfields. However, the strikes failed miserably due to Russian involvement. America is not ripe for tyranny, but is a tyranny already. It does not matter who you vote for. I am amazed I have to repeat that obvious fact here. And the numbers of people killed by the police and the prison population are those of a tyranny.

9:06 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Mike-

Gain, and Galatea 2.2.

Megan-

I believe de Tocqueville wrote that democracy cd work, but only with a really intelligent population. Ha ha.

mb

9:06 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

https://edition.cnn.com/2018/05/07/politics/donald-trump-presidency/index.html

But this is a *good* thing!

9:24 AM  
Anonymous Insightful said...

Dr. Berman, you live in Mexico & not one mention of the Central American caravan that is in the news. Why? By the way, I'm not one of those people who doesn't want to let these people in to America. So i'm not coming at it from that angle, in fact, I welcome them. I just thought that refugees seeking asylum were supposed to apply for asylum in the first stable country they crossed into. Why aren’t they applying in Mexico? Mexico lets the caravan cross their whole country, all 2,000 miles, and yet it doesn’t intervene on behalf of these people? Is Mexico xenophobic?

11:37 AM  
Blogger Michael Burgess said...

Hi Dr. Berman and Wafers,

Looks like Thomas Frank might moving toward Waferism with his soon-to-be-published "Rendezvous with Oblivion". He sees the US as a society in decline. Should be an interesting book.

https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/1250293669/ref=ox_sc_sfl_title_1?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER

5:12 PM  
Blogger Origami Cactus said...

Great music video: "This is America," by Donald Glover (aka Childish Gambino). The video shows that American optimism is just a narrative which rests atop a violent society.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VYOjWnS4cMY

5:23 PM  
Blogger Gunnar Burton said...

Fitting isn't it that a porn actress is attempting to be the savior of the republic.

6:24 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

Under the heading “That’s fucked up, yo” this item:

https://www.chronicle.com/article/he-makes-a-joke-she-isn-t/243350

Academics in an elevator at the International Studies Association conference in San Francisco last month. A female professor closest to the floor buttons solicits the desired floors from her fellow passengers. A 76-year-old (male) wisenheimer says “Ladies’ lingerie” (floor), and subsequent developments have proven to be entirely predictable. (When I was growing up, the response was “Ladies foundation garments.”)

An argument for minimizing one’s interaction with those one encounters outside the confines of one’s own home. You can never know what might set someone off.

10:53 AM  
Anonymous Tom Servo said...

@Michael Burgess,

Thanks for the heads up on Thomas Frank. Frank is probably my favorite liberal writer precisely because he can admit that the United States has gotten worse over the last 40 years. Many people on the Left can’t accept that fact because it is seen as being in opposition to the theory that history is progressive and generally moving in a better direction.

Here is a good quote from Frank that I find to be fairly Waferish:

“I grew up in an era of rampant nostalgia--the 1970s, pining for the 1950s--and one of my beliefs is that nostalgia is really no worse or even all that different than a faith in 'progress.' Sometimes progress doesn't happen. Sometimes nostalgia makes sense. Sometimes the past really is an improvement on the present. At a time when inequality is growing, and most people find that unpleasant, they naturally get sentimental about a time when things were less bad--or when they believe things were less bad.”

Source: https://www.salon.com/2016/04/09/thomas_frank_democrats_just_arent_that_concerned_about_income_inequality_partner/

1:31 PM  
Anonymous COS said...

Insightful,

A large number of Central Americans have received refugee status and have settled in Mexico. Mexico is a large country and among the 120 million plus Mexicans there most assuredly are xenophobes, germaphobes and agoraphobes but the country is very open and tolerant. Consider for example: www.sandiegouniontribune.com/hoy-san-diego/portada/sdhoy-more-central-americans-are-giving-up-on-the-u-s-and-looking-instead-to-a-mexican-dream-20161203-story.html

As for the caravan, they want to go to the U.S. Assistance to refugees/migrants more generous than Mexico and the organizers of the caravan have obvious political hay to make.

1:42 PM  
Blogger Sean Wilmut said...

Well, we treated Vietnamese peasants, and the Iraqi people, like roaches, so it was only a matter of time b4 this mindset got imported into the domestic sphere.

Alfred McCoy has a new book, In the Shadow of the American Empire, in which he describes the control systems used in the Phillipines circa 1900, systems devised where American law etc was not in force; and then shows how these systems expanded, and came home to America.

2:31 PM  
Anonymous Esca Dreg said...

Forget mindfulness or meditation. The fastest way to hapeeness is to lower your expectation. Lower the target of your stream so to speak. It happens passing 50. Peeing on your own boots isn't that bad after all.
https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/may/05/happiness-curve-life-gets-better-after-50-jonathan-rauch

"Older people are most beautiful when they have what is lacking in the young: poise, erudition, wisdom, phronesis, and this post-heroic absence of agitation." -Nassim Taleb

Progs or Frogs, let the country go to the dogs. I don't give a damn anymore. I'm hapee ol' camper now.



4:35 PM  
Anonymous DioGenes said...

I think Trumpi may have just given us a Suez moment...

Some of the phrases in that speech on Iran were definitely taken right from 2003 era Iraq invasion rhetoric. Which he ran against!

He even dug out the ole 'with us or against us' idea, threatening financial sanctions on countries that do business with Iran.

So Russia, China, and EU all ignore and proceed to call the bluff? The US puts the whole world under sanctions and exists as a kind of tech-addled island incapable of communicating with itself or other countries?

I think 2003 and Iraq was 'fool me once' for Europe. Obama was 'fool me twice'. Bolton, Trumpi, and Bibi are so full of hubris they haven't even considered the overdue consequences awaiting.

5:13 PM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

Zar--I doubt Trump with his massive ego is ever "told" to do anything. Manipulated into doing certain things by the "deep state," absolutely. And how easy it was for the intelligence community to get their Syrian clients to engineer a false flag attack and have the American media hype it up as an atrocity in order to get our emotional 6-year-old president to react. Like taking candy from a baby--or more accurately in this case GIVING the baby the candy. I spent over 20 years conducting investigations involving senior officials at State Department, and I think I have a pretty good grasp on how they operate. Most of the worst atrocities the U.S. government commits are examples of "working towards the Fuhrer," in the parlance of Nazi Germany historians. None of the real players in Washington would ever be so crass as to give direct orders--and risk not having the plausible deniability.

As for America already being a tyranny--yes, it is already to some degree. But then again so is EVERY government, for what is government but a way to force individual citizens to conform to a certain societal norm? It is not tyranny that concerns me as much as totalitarianism--the day when all this wonderful electronic spying and surveillance technology starts being used to actually silence Wafers and other dissidents.

5:23 PM  
Anonymous Millennial Realist said...

Dr. Berman,

I just finished AQOV and was particularly intrigued by essay #28 "What If....?" Alternative history is fascinating and I'm sure you've spent quite a bit of time exploring the possibilities. One thing I haven't seen in your work or have heard you comment on was the Articles of Confederation. Maybe you have and I apologize if I missed it. But I'm wondering what your thoughts are if the AOC remained the law of the land. My initial thoughts are that we would've experienced significant roadblocks to westward expansion (a good thing, IMO) and that we probably would've explored other possibilities beyond just having "more."

5:26 PM  
Anonymous Kevin said...

John Ford, "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance": "This is the West, sir, " the reporter explains quietly. "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend."

Also, see Jonathan Haidt, "The Righteous Mind."

Kevin

6:40 PM  
Anonymous Henry said...

The Plagues That Might Have Brought Down the Roman Empire

Bioarcheologists are getting better at measuring the toll of ancient pathogens

https://www.theatlantic.com/amp/article/473862/

Meanwhile our biohazard facilities are decades behind up-to-date

9:40 PM  
Anonymous Aaron Thomas said...

Looks like the GMO debate will go on forever. Whether anti science or not, having a less efficient food system would probably be a good environmental thing since fewer people would mean less industrial garbage. Kinda hard at this point to tell people you’re going to take away huge amounts of cheap food, so I’d say it’s a non starter. I’m guessing we will all just be pointing fingers as the ship goes down and that will be the end of it.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/are-you-anti-gmo-then-youre-anti-science-too/2018/05/03/cb42c3ba-4ef4-11e8-af46-b1d6dc0d9bfe_story.html?utm_term=.e583332f07bc

10:39 PM  
Blogger jjarden said...

What happens after Capitalism ends?


https://eand.co/what-happens-after-capitalism-ends-92dc437327f8

11:01 PM  
Blogger Allyn F said...

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/environment/demonstrators-disrupt-seattle-traffic-in-protest-of-trans-mountain-pipeline/

Local evening news program quotes a local business employee, “I wish the demonstrators would stop to think how their actions affect the rest of the city.” Does Chase Bank reflect on their actions? Comments section abounds with defense of the bank against the liberal environmental crowd. Uh, 2008 anyone?

12:20 AM  
Anonymous Bolonga said...

What a damn shame...I just experience an actual growing phenomena in the CUNY higher education system, student's food insecurity. Seriously? What the actual (excuse my language here) living FUCK? Is this an actual thing now? Starving students in colleges and universities in New York City is now a thing? And the solutions are even laughable,shameless even. Giving out bags of rice and beans. Again I ask myself, why am I here? What am I dong surrounded by potentially starving students? How does this means for higher education in this country? The answer to the last question is simple, the education here is literally a joke.

12:05 PM  
Anonymous Birney Zouave said...

Dr. B:

Here's some A. Dorfman online-

https://fadingtheaesthetic.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/33788991-how-to-read-donald.pdf



12:39 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Bologna (sic)-

The next step beyond starving students will be beating them. You'll see.

mb

1:07 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: For a gd profile of the American upper class, check out the HBO series "Big Little Lies."

1:09 PM  
Anonymous Bolonga said...

I don't know about the beating part...the police already have a foothold in the campus. This is comming from the agricultural department. I argued at the table, that food security is perhaps a growing problem that would challenge us all at the root level. But to fully understand the problem, people need to start participating in food production. Growing food in community gardens etc. Heheh not going to happen..until its too late.

1:21 PM  
Anonymous Kevin said...

Giving students rice and beans is at least something. The California State University just asks alumni to send money to the university. They use the funds to build giant sports facilities and other huge superfluous buildings while slashing staff salary, especially in the arts.

2:05 PM  
Anonymous Cel-Ray Tonic said...

Re: Food production and insecurity.

I don't remember the numbers off hand, but small farm/no oil based fertilizer production of ACTUAL food can feed the world no problem. Distribution is the problem.

Also, what is it, 1/2 (?) of the US "food" production is for commodities to make other things out of, ethanol, corn syrup, cellulose, etc. Plus, American's throw out 1/3 (!) of their food. Plus, you wouldn't believe the amount of food thrown out at grocery stores because it doesn't look good (make a soup for crying out loud) or has passed an arbitrary "sell by" date ... which is provided by the food manufacturers by the way, a form of planned obsolescence.

Don't get me started...

2:12 PM  
Anonymous Zarathustra said...

Bill, thanks for the insight into the State department. You probably right. But about tyranny I insist a bit. I think people are not so scared of the police in every country.

4:13 PM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

Wafers--I'll bet you did not realize this, but according to douchebaguette NYT columnist Bari Weiss, we have all become part of the (very scary sounding) Intellectual Dark Web, or I.D.W. as she calls it: "Here are some things that you will hear when you sit down to dinner with the vanguard of the Intellectual Dark Web: There are fundamental biological differences between men and women. Free speech is under siege. Identity politics is a toxic ideology that is tearing American society apart. And we’re in a dangerous place if these ideas are considered 'dark'.”

But wait, it gets worse: "What is the I.D.W. and who is a member of it? It’s hard to explain, which is both its beauty and its danger. Most simply, it is a collection of iconoclastic thinkers, academic renegades and media personalities who are having a rolling conversation — on podcasts, YouTube and Twitter, and in sold-out auditoriums — that sound unlike anything else happening, at least publicly, in the culture right now. Feeling largely locked out of legacy outlets, they are rapidly building their own mass media channels."

DAA is "building so rapidly" that it only took a decade to reach 170 members. At this rate, MB will not doubt be in the White House (with Putin's consent) by 2021--and "Mama Grizzly" will finally get that Veep spot she wanted so badly.

9:15 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

I tell ya, I couldn't take more than 10 minutes of watching Gina Haspel. She seemed like a character straight out of "1984"; a cold bureaucrat utterly lacking any human empathy. She should be rejected, but does it matter at this point? I mean what other kind of terrifying android will Trumpo nominate in her place?

Miles

2:02 AM  
Blogger Gunnar Burton said...

I once lived in Monterey, the setting for Lies, it's one of the most beautiful places in the world but you have to b a major (C word, yes it's that bad) to stay there. My reaction to the show was mass grave children on top...

What can the US do to Iran except bomb the hell out of it? The only nation we're capable of occupying is our own, which will prob happen sooner than I ever imagined.

12:26 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Bill-

Yes, this blog is on the verge of taking over the world, and not a day goes by that I don't speak to sold-out auditoriums. The power and the glory, what a rush.

mb

1:54 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: Meanwhile, progs are suffering! Always gd to hear. Go, Trumpi!

https://edition.cnn.com/2018/05/10/opinions/trump-is-having-a-great-foreign-policy-week-bauerlein/index.html

2:04 PM  
Anonymous Pastrami and Coleslaw said...

Dunno if WAFers have seen this one regarding the professor who said "ladies lingerie" on an elevator, but FFS, can't people just take a well meaning apology (or joke for that matter)? FYI, it's a long article, but they do bring up some good points like, where does it end. Could saying "pussy hats" do the same thing?

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/05/is-this-old-lingerie-joke-harmless-or-harassment/559760/

I liked the comment from the "offender" when he said "I feel sorry for the woman who has nothing to think about but a relatively inoffensive offhand remark in a lift at ISA."

This is the shit people spend time on... O and D!

3:29 PM  
Anonymous Cody said...

https://www.tallahassee.com/story/news/2018/05/06/10-years-later-rachel-hoffmans-death-makes-police-informants-safer/580595002/

This poor girl was caught with a little pot. The police flipped her with likely false promises of a lighter punishment if she helped them. So she goes from buying a bag of pot to making a multi-thousand dollar deal *for cocaine and ecstacy*. The dealers find her wire and murder her. All because the police need to use kids in desperate situations to do their dirty work.

4:56 PM  
Anonymous Susan W. said...

What the Washington Post seems to forget in their article on GMO foods is there are no longitudinal studies of the effects of altering the genes in our food. His quote: " there is no reputable scientific evidence that direct genetic modification — instead of slower genetic modification through selective breeding — has any health effects of any kind." shows me he has NO idea what he's even talking about. Selective breeding is done within a species, such as cross pollinating corn for sweetness, higher yield, etc. Genetic modification is introducting genes from an entirely different species. A tomato will never ever breed with a whale to achieve cold-hardiness. In the early eighties tryptophan was pulled from the market due to unexplained deaths. When they investigated further it was discovered all of the people who had died used the supplement from one lab in Japan that had genetically modified it. Some people were sensitive and others were not. There's also evidence that the microorganisms in the soil are being impacted as the plants decompose. Why are there no articles on that? A good book to read on the effects of chemicals and GMOs on agriculture is The Poisoned Apple (primarily about French farming) or Seeds of Destruction.

5:20 PM  
Anonymous Mike R. said...

Case studies in american 'greatness.' "I'm Like the New Hitler."

Reported from the NY Post: An Arizona woman, Ms. Jacqueline Ades, who called herself the “new Hitler” was arrested this week for stalking a man — and sending him over 65,000 text messages in less than a year — after they went on a single date, according to reports. She broke into his home, bathed, stated she would bath in his blood, stated, "don't make me murder you."

http://www.kcra.com/article/police-stalker-sent-man-65-000-texts-said-she-wanted-to-bathe-in-his-blood/20644078

Just look at her, another fine american who will certainly "rise up," "revolt," and "do the right thing!" Hedges must have her in mind perhaps?

5:28 PM  
Anonymous Tortuga said...

Tim Ziemer, the top White House official responsible for leading the U.S. response if there’s a deadly pandemic has left the administration, and his team at the NSC has been disbanded under a reorg. What experts fear now.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/amphtml/news/to-your-health/wp/2018/05/10/top-white-house-official-in-charge-of-pandemic-response-exits-abruptly/


Stories like this really make me wonder about the conspiracy theory that Trump is controlled by people who are trying to bring about the End Times.

Or maybe it’s just nationalism and racism and wholecloth incompetence

5:35 PM  
Anonymous JUS said...

Hi Dr. Berman,
yes, hilarious response to my youtube suggestion. But I thought I'd show you what you would be competing with. Meet our first female president of the U.S. after Trump.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7mDxX-20zks

Chears!

6:24 PM  
Blogger jjarden said...

Richard IS AMERICA...


http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-met-animal-cruelty-pit-bull-charges-20180509-story.html

6:32 PM  
Anonymous Esca Dreg said...

Fearless journalism -Robert Jensen. Hombre con CABEZA, CORAZÓN y COJONES.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1oNRnTNB1O8
In contrast, Sean Hannity, un ser sinónimo de pendejo. He brandishes his pen as though ready to sign your execution warrant.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9mpwlkc2a5s

Robert wasn't waiting for retirement to speak his mind:
"Jensen drew widespread attention for an opinion piece he wrote for the Houston Chronicle on September 14, 2001, shortly after the September 11th terrorist attacks. In the piece, Jensen wrote that the September 11th terrorist attacks were "reprehensible and indefensible" but "no more despicable than the massive acts of terrorism – the deliberate killing of civilians for political purposes – that the U.S. government has committed during my lifetime."

"Jensen's piece drew both praise and criticism. Some individuals demanded that The University of Texas fire Jensen. In response, University of Texas President Larry Faulkner [a chupa-huevos] wrote in a letter to the editor published in the Houston Chronicle that he was "disgusted by Jensen's article" and called Jensen "a fountain of undiluted foolishness on issues of public policy."

Both R.J and S.H, made in America.

10:49 PM  
Anonymous Tom Servo said...

Diagnoses of clinical depression have increased 33% since 2013. The largest increase was among young Americans. “Since 2013, rates [of clinical depression] have spiked by 47% among Millennials, by 65% among adolescent girls and by 47% among adolescent boys, the report says.”

http://time.com/5271244/major-depression-diagnosis-spike/

Even many successful Americans seem to be doing poorly in our miserable culture. Doctors have the highest suicide rate of any profession.

https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/news/20180508/doctors-suicide-rate-highest-of-any-profession#

11:48 PM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Dr. B

What I'm nervous about is inadvertently breaking a law or social custom I don't know about. I've read things on the state department but what I'm afraid of is the things I would not know I'm ignorant of that would screw me up. Do you and others have any advice?

1:21 AM  
Blogger Zarathustra said...

Black activist jailed for his Facebook posts speaks out about secret FBI surveillance

Well, if this is not tyranny, it's certainly a good imitation of it...

4:00 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Zar-

How long b4 the FBI establishes a category of Serious Intellectual Dissent (SID), and takes me away in chains? 5 yrs? 10?

cube-

See my reply to Zar.

Mike R-

At least she didn't boil his pet rabbit.

mb

10:50 AM  
Anonymous DioGenes said...

@Tom

Interesting stats, but also a bit expected and self-fulfilling. When the medical psychiatry community promotes a definition of normal human sadness as disordered, eventually everybody in the society will get the diagnosis as this way of thinking spreads in the public awareness.

Go tell your doctor you are upset and sad about some things and see how easy it is to get a diagnosis for depression. (You will NEVER be diagnosed with being sane in an insane world.) If there was any good intent in those creating a strictly clinical model of the human mind (not sure there was), they definitely didn't intend this kind of mass therapy and happy-pill popping.

Been watching a lot of old 70s TV lately. Same sleezeballs here in the US as when Kojak used to bust their chops. They've cleaned up the cities and made the rackets real professional...

Who loves ya, baby!

11:10 AM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Hola MB and Wafers,

A nice quote from Erickson's "The History of the Decline and Fall of America":

Perhaps most importantly, Americans did not understand that the country was addicted to economic growth. They did not understand, therefore did not account for, what was happening as the pyramid scheme was approaching its limits. They did not understand that eventually all addictions 'bottom out' and that was beginning to happen in America.

In the future loomed the point when America could no longer grow itself out of the problems caused by its addiction to growth. Yet since America was unable to see the addiction for what it was, its problems were inevitably interpreted in a way in which the only hope was more economic growth. As America's addiction to growth approached its limits, efforts to keep the economy functioning would grow increasingly desperate. As a result, America's final decades would consist of an increasingly frenzied no-holds-barred focus on keeping its economy from collapsing.

12:01 PM  
Anonymous BrotherMaynard said...

Well, if this is not tyranny, it's certainly a good imitation of it...
The truth is that, while chilling, this is nothing new. The US has always stifled dissent if it is critical of the American way of life. As the professor has said the civic religion here is American itself. Hence, criticism of our lifestyle = blasphemy. See: The Palmer Raids WWI, Red Scare in the 50's, FBI disruption of civil rights movement in the 60's. etc.

I can't do better than to quote Joe Bageant: If middle-class Americans do not feel threatened by the slow encroachment of the police state or the Patriot Act, it is because they live comfortably enough and exercise their liberties very lightly, never testing the boundaries. You never know you are in a prison unless you try the door.”

BrotherMaynard

12:37 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Here's a great film: "Sing Street."

2:46 PM  
Anonymous Marianne said...

Wafers,

Wanted you all to know that my husband and I passed along our Water mentality to our kids. Just today we learned that our son is marrying an Italian woman. Our older son married a woman from Thailand and our daughter a man from India.

Looks like it was too difficult to find American's with their values.

Marianne

4:41 PM  
Anonymous Birney Zouave said...

Dr. B:

The New York Times printed an op-ed by Dorfman on May 9:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/09/opinion/gina-haspel-torture-cia.html

4:44 PM  
Anonymous Evan U. said...

In Europe, they actually fine and jail misbehaving CEOs. Why can’t we?

https://slate.com/business/2018/05/jes-staley-thomas-middelhoff-and-what-europe-gets-right-about-ceo-accountability.html?wpsrc=sh_all_dt_tw_ru

5:13 PM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

@Mike R--and yet I'll bet if the crazy woman in that story you posted had accused the guy of sexually assaulting her, the police would have arrested him and the #MeToo witch hunters would have demanded his imprisonment based upon her say so alone without any corroborating evidence.

@Tom Servo--regarding the huge spike in depression, so exactly what is it that has been growing at an exponential rate in America the past 5 years, ESPECIALLY among teenage girls? Why it's social media, of course. But just as with the recent spike in highway death that is quite obviously related to people fucking around with their electronic toys while driving, keeping these utterly frivolous bits of technodouchbaggery are more important to us than our very lives and those of our children. What a sick, pathetic, disgusting culture we have become.

@Dio--reading the article Tom posted immediately brought to mind my young niece, who is currently in a residential facility batting anorexia despite not being raised to believe looks and weight are at all important to who a person is. Her father (my brother), who is an MD told me that the number of cases of anorexia has been off the charts recently and is now striking girls as young as 12. Just like with the boys who become school shooters, this is a lot more serious a problem than just misdiagnosis.

7:47 PM  
Anonymous Mike R. said...

Jen SINcero, New York (Bowel Mvt) Times best selling author of “You Are a Badass” and “You Are a Badass at Making Money,” says most people are too afraid of money to really get rich.

“Our conscious minds are like, ‘Sure, I’d love to be rich—bring it on,’” Sincero says. “But then in our subconscious, we think rich people suck, [and] we think that if you get rich, it means you have to compromise your morals.”

Such impt work--both intellectually and ontologically--this WAFERS, perhaps, represented the spirit of the american empire! No wonder why it was a "best seller."

8:00 PM  
Blogger jjarden said...

Have any Wafers read the book, “A Canticle for Leibowitz”? I have not

Any good?

Morris, was Isaac Edward Leibowitz a model for your NMI?

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Canticle_for_Leibowitz

9:27 PM  
Anonymous Sonic said...

don’t get taken in by would-be gurus like Jordan Peterson

http://foreignpolicy.com/2018/04/04/god-is-ted-jordan-peterson-self-help-men/

Thus Spoke....

9:20 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

jj-

I devote several pages to the book in my Twilight bk.

foofy-

I don't think I'm getting thru 2u, and your mode of reasoning comes off as very scrambled. I don't have the time or energy to keep trying to straighten you out, unfortunately; it feels like an endless game of ping pong. I'm not sure what 'category' your mode of reasoning belongs to, but I think you'd be a lot happier finding a blog that is more congruent to it, whatever it is. Best of luck.

Birn-

One of my favorite writers.

mb

11:09 AM  
Anonymous Esca Dreg said...

Bill Hicks and George Carlin: cd you guys pls get in touch with me? I can be reached at escadreg at gmail. Thx

1:16 PM  
Anonymous Schmucko said...

Surprised I haven't seen this here yet. It hits the techdouchebaggery jackpot: Google's best and brightest inventing new ways for us to avoid conversing with each other. Don't make a phone call to order pizza delivery: outsource it to your "digital assistant" which will mimic human speech enough ("uh... um...") to pass as human to the poor employee fielding calls.
Link.

I've contributed to the blip in sales of CTOS mentioned a couple of posts ago. I come from a science background and think it'd do me good to be challenged on my reflexive scientism. About 100 pages in. Maybe I'll share some thoughts when done?

My teenage god-daughter suffers from depression and bulimia. I'm trying to convince her and her mom that the problem's not just in her but in her society. May be hardest for young people who are sensitive and compassionate to cope with a society that's contrary to that.

2:57 PM  
Blogger ccg said...

I guess in order to "balance" the excellent Dorfman piece on Gina Haspel, the Times editors decided to publish this suggesting that she is the best choice for CIA director:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/11/opinion/gina-haspel-cia-director.html?rref=collection%2Fissuecollection%2Ftodays-new-york-times&action=click&contentCollection=todayspaper&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=7&pgtype=collection&login=email&auth=login-email

Disgusting.

3:37 PM  
Anonymous BrotherMaynard said...

Interesting that many of the comments at Der Spiegel on articles re: USA/Trumpi are that the USA is basically a failed state at this point. Would the US media ever allow such thought? (Answer: No).
http://www.spiegel.de/international/

Pre-Wafer (?) thought in the NYTimes: 'USA too big too govern"; article states its is obvious that a country that has elected Trumpi & Co. has deep existential issues. Articles like these drive me nuts because in the last paragraph (after listing all the structural flaws and problems the USA has), the author basically offers drivel: strengthen electoral participation, strengthen our communities, blah, blah, blah. Just state the obvious: we're fucked and going down at a rapid and accelerating clip. He could have said break-up into 20 other countries in an EU style union. That would at least make some sense and, personally, I think our only shot at survival. Nope: drivel.
https://nyti.ms/2G84b5U

BrotherMaynard

7:10 PM  
Blogger Sarasvati said...

Here’s an article from the Pew Research Center about American views on torture:
http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/01/26/americans-divided-in-views-of-use-of-torture-in-u-s-anti-terror-efforts/

(One caveat: I don't know how legitimate the PRC is, so if another Wafer can link to something better I’d appreciate it.)

As someone who was raised Roman Catholic and left the church when I learned about the Spanish Inquisition, I’m appalled that anyone can think such a thing is even remotely acceptable. I’d like to think that most Americans don’t understand that torture isn’t about obtaining information (which still wouldn’t make it acceptable), but about terror and sadism. Viciousness seems to be a defining characteristic of too many people.

I love what Jesse Ventura said: “You give me a water board, Dick Cheney and one hour, and I’ll have him confess to the Sharon Tate murders.”

7:10 PM  
Blogger Michael Burgess said...

Hi Dr. Berman and Wafers,

Here is a story from "Blacklisted News" about political murders taking place in a southwestern municipality in Mexico called Coyuca de Catalan - there is a brief but unsubstantiated reference to the murders possibly being drug related. I thought that this sort of thing would be limited to northern Mexico.

https://www.blacklistednews.com/article/65804/mexico-91-politicians-murdered-leading-up-to-general.html

7:45 AM  
Anonymous DioGenes said...

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/05/11/lil-tay-shows-social-platforms-dont-enforce-age-restrictions.html

@Bill

As WAFERs, we look at Lil Tay and say, 'Wow, what a poor, damaged child with clear mental illness'. Yet much of the society envies her.

So, she will never see a psychiatrist, since her dysfunction is of a type that's considered *normal* by her peers. She is extremely well-adjusted.

Now, someone from a more sane family may look at her and the millions like her and withdraw from life and become depressed, and record a long clinical history.

But this response is *healthy*. Depression can be useful. It's evolution's way of saying, 'Withdraw from these turkeys around you, their values are unnatural, create something better.'

A good therapist tries to draw out that insight from the depression, but most of the humanism in mental health is gone. The language of humanistic therapy is used to rationalize an inhumane system and make money for Big Pharm.

"There are some things in our nation and in our world to which I’m proud to be maladjusted."

-MLK

11:12 AM  
Blogger jjarden said...

Morris,

Now I’m questioning my retention ability and whether or not I’m in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s!!!

I read (and loved) “Twilight” back in 2002, and didn’t remember the “Canticle for Leibowitz” part!

Here’s a review of another “Twilight” book ...entitled “Twilight of American Sanity”....and another book, “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump,” (both by Psychiatrists) explaining why Trump is CRAZY!

https://www.google.com/amp/amp.slate.com/articles/arts/books/2017/11/twilight_of_american_sanity_and_the_dangerous_case_of_donald_trump_reviewed.html

11:59 AM  
Anonymous Aaron Thomas said...

I'm not sure fraternal organizations get much press these days, but I've been thinking about them recently since I looked at a historic Knights of Columbus building that's being sold to a private developer to convert to condos.

I don't know anyone who has ever been in a fraternal organization and these organizations seem like an anachronism. I don't understand what they're about or what purpose they served, it seems mysterious to me. I think they were popular in the 50s and 60s and then died out, but I don't really know since I've never heard people talk about them.

I get this feeling we really lost something, maybe the decline of fraternal organizations is just following the general decline of America? I can't imagine any fraternal organization will have substantial membership in another 30 or 40 years.

12:17 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

jj-

I think it's in Twilight. Keep in mind that I am senile.

Michael-

One wd hope. Unfortunately, Michoacan is infected as well.

Sar, ccg-

Last poll I read, abt a yr ago, said that 67% of Americans approved of torture (and drone strikes). I wasn't surprised. Anyway, I'm hoping Gina gets confirmed, so we can make ever-clearer to the rest of the world who we are: virulent, vicious, and violent. And yes, disgusting beyond belief. What a paper the NYT is!

Bro-

Yes, we also stand for drivel.

Shmuck-

Give yr god-daughter a copy of QOV, and tell her she is living in a society whose values are upside down.

Bill and George-

Pls contact Esca; important. Thanks.

mb

12:52 PM  
Anonymous Mike R. said...

WAFER Bill--you're spot on the me too bowel mvt if the roles we're changed with a man sending 65,000 texts/with threats to a woman; the shyster lawyers like Gloria Allred et al would be presenting the female victim every 20min for 'news' updates.

WAFER Dio---depression as you state is quite normal for those stuck in the insane empire.
Withdrawal, withholding, and creating authentic happiness are key.

There is simply NO ONE to really talk to and/or engage in the empire, except for Dr. Berman's blog and perhaps a couple of real us friends.

Almost every american friendship, family, etc...is simple a sham/fake--superficial pleasantries, mutual belly rubs, yah yahing, and back to work, screen staring, stop being negative, etc...

An extremely empty place "live;" no wonder why the massive use of legal/illegal drugs, abusive porn, corporate sadism, screen addictions, etc..Being maladjusted IS a normal response to the shit hole business masquerading as a country.

1:52 PM  
Blogger Gunnar Burton said...

After reading Nomi Prins (nice interview with her & Matt Taibbi on Jeremy Scahil's podcast Intercepted) I'm thinking it isn't a blue wave coming, more like a crimson tide instead.

2:50 PM  
Anonymous Kiki said...

This is interesting and terrifying.
I'm not really surprised that people are being monitored, but since most of my family and friends are in denial it's nice to to be reassured that I'm not the crazy one as I've been told many times.

3:54 PM  
Anonymous Susan W. said...

@ Bill

Your niece and every other teenage girl are suffocated in the nonstop message that they are neither beautiful nor acceptable and must try harder if they every hope to be attractive. I started my career as a psych nurse on an eating disorders unit 25 years ago and it was unchartered territory. No one really knew what to do for them and looking at the growing numbers, no one seems to have effective treatment with years of experience to guide them. One unit I worked on, now closed, that seemed to help the girls the most was not primarily about eating disorders. They were in with a variety of addicts and I think (and this is only my opinion) they defocused on body image and saw the link between compulsive behavior/substance abuse (in their case food) and the never ending cycle of addiction. An eating disorder doesn't look like addiction but it is at the core. It's a hopeless attempt to avoid facing painful emotions or situations that begins by "working" in the sense that she feels affirmed and is on the right track to feeling good about herself. Many a girl told me that she had lost a few pounds and her friends told her she looked good so the "diet" becomes a permanent way of life and then takes over. I hope your niece can overcome this and understand its roots in her life so there'll be no relapses.

5:28 PM  
Anonymous Birney Zouave said...

Dr. B-

It's prom time in the USA, and the local newspaper web sites are publishing photos. I think this guy has the most interesting get-up so far; quasi-Louis XIV, or something-

https://expo.advance.net/img/5831e57da2/width960/164_twp550.jpg


6:23 PM  
Anonymous Tom Servo said...

@Aaron Thomas,

My grandfather was in the Knights of Columbus and was a founder of a local Italian-American social club that still exists today. My family used to go to the club and have homemade Italian dinners made by the mothers, wives and daughters of club members. Activities included card games, bocce and dances. Couples would have their wedding receptions at the club. The club would also raise money for charities. When I was younger my father had a falling out with the other club members so I have not gone to the club in years but it still exists although I imagine that most of the current members are getting up there in age.

When you read about America in the 1950s and 1960s you realize just how socially impoverished we are now. In addition to fraternal organizations and clubs Americans would frequently have card games and dinner parties complete with conga lines.

I suspect that many of our mental health problems arise from a lack of social interaction. Unfortunately, because of cultural changes so many Americans are now massive douchebags so it becomes hard finding people you actually WANT to socialize with. It is a real quandary for anyone who lives in America and wants to have a fulfilling social life.

7:07 PM  
Anonymous Esca Dreg said...

Stared long into the void, guess who's staring back now? This Is America -
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OA1V7cI28hI

She said 'son what are you doing here
My fear for you has turned me in my grave'
I said 'mama I come to the valley of the rich
Myself to sell'
She said 'son this is the road to hell'

And the perverted fear of violence
Chokes the smile on every face
And common sense is ringing out the bell
This ain't no technological breakdown
Oh no, this is the road to hell

8:03 PM  
Blogger jbkranger said...

There was a great book called "Tribe" by Sebastian Junger. I'm convinced after reading the book two times that an element of tribe must be part of any societal solution. It is how we are hardwired. The issue is can we have tribe and kill each other?

I've studied the Enlightenment for decades and am now convinced that it's lack of tribe is its greatest downfall

9:41 PM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

@Schmucko--indeed, my wife and I have numerous friends who friends have teenage daughters. One has hired a "life coach" because his daughter (who is adopted from China and an only child) has become an extreme introvert to the point of never wanting to interact with anyone despite the fact that he's told her he will pay for her education all the way through graduate school at any institution she wants to attend. The kid hit the lucky jackpot in terms of going from being an unwanted orphan to having every opportunity in life, yet she is still miserable. Another friend's daughter has started cutting herself, despite the fact her family are multimillionaires and she'll never want for anything. If these kids without unmet material needs are so unhappy, what chance do those from families of lesser means have?

@Aaron--I actually have a friend who belongs to an active Oddfellows chapter. From what he has said, it is indeed the type of thing America is sorely missing these days, a social society who gather together on a regular basis and are dedicated to raising money for charitable works and other worthwhile projects. I also got the impression that the only reason my friend's chapter is still going is because it's made up of retired guys in their 60s and 70s. Younger people just aren't interested.

@Esca--email sent. It'll be under Karl Kolchak, a fictional hero of mine.

9:49 PM  
Anonymous Zarathustra said...

US threatens European companies with sanctions after Iran deal pullout

Not sure how this ends... With Trumpolini bombing Berlin and Paris or with the US completely isolated from the rest of the world?

5:22 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Zar-

As you know, I have written the Pentagon repeatedly that they need to nuke Paris and Toronto. Finally, maybe they'll listen to me.

Tom, Aaron et al.-

Classic work on the subject is Robt Putnam, "Bowling Alone." And that was 18 yrs ago.

mb

9:36 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Check it out:

https://www.truthdig.com/articles/gina-haspel-debate-spotlights-americas-soul-sickness/

Last para says it all.

mb

9:48 AM  
Anonymous Randy said...

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/05/11/alan-dershowitz-donald-trump-what-happened-218359



The Friday Cover
‘What Happened to Alan Dershowitz?’

How a liberal Harvard professor became Trump’s most distinguished defender on TV, freaked out his friends and got the legal world up in arms.

The Via Negativa of Waferdom?

12:08 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

William T. Vollmann turns his writing toward climate change:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/why-have-we-done-so-little-to-tackle-climate-change/2018/04/06/d62710dc-2baf-11e8-8688-e053ba58f1e4_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.9cffa3a81087

Miles

1:50 PM  
Anonymous cos said...

Bill Hicks, nice post. There certainly is anomie among the affluent in u.s. and other affluent countries. Friends in Australia and Japan note high rates of depression and suicide among the affluent young and Elderly. As for those of lesser means as in Mexico ( see research by William Vega) or far poorer countries you see that survival and family add great purpose to life. The poor in the U.S. certainly lead lives of pain and dispair--yes the whites too! On Myth and fact. MB's note on grandfather in london reminded me of an uncle who took great pride in going to oxford and meeting Isaiah Berlin. Puzzling as this uncle worked at a car service in Queens. Turns out he and his friends (lubavitchers in yeshiva) visited Berlin who though a rationalist and secular was a descendant of the Alter Rebbe and inherited his Tefilin. Berlin would graciously allow Hasidim to his office to touch and or put on the relic.


2:24 PM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Our American society has this idea that we're in control of our lives and it is our fault we lose. Yet, those others will state that that not everyone is a winner and the everyone is a winner mentality and idea is wrong and society must have losers.

Here is my question. How is one in control of one's own life and it is our fault we lose if the "everyone is a winner" is false and some must lose? How can both concepts hold at the same time? My answer is that they can't and we live in a society filled with dumb asses and dolts who don't think through shit and don't want to think through shit. It's cranial rectal impediment or shit for brains syndrome. Finally, Cantor should have rejected Cantorism and should have embraced Canterism (Canter's Deli). I bet they make excellent Turkey Sandwiches.

5:33 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

cube-

1. embedment
2. If you go to Canter's, order pastrami, not turkey.
3. You can get enuf turkey just walking down any street in the US.

mb

6:03 PM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

@Susan W--thank you for that post. My brother just informed me that my niece is doing well at the residential facility and may get to come home early. Two months ago he was afraid he was going to lose her to the disease. We're the children of a mother who was manic depressive, and he said what his daughter is facing reminds him of what happened with our mother--that rationally she knew what she needed to do to get better (eating as opposed to taking her medications) but could not force herself to do it.

@MB--from that article about Haskell: "A clear majority of Americans—nearly two-thirds—support torture. It makes me sick even to say it. I fear that we’re fighting for nothing. Is this really the country we want to be?" Like most liberals, this guy is obviously finding it very hard to get over that hump and admit it's over.

Wafers--as I informed Esca via PM, I found out a couple of days ago that after six weeks of hell dealing with our hopelessly inept and uncaring medical establishment that the doctors were wrong initially and now think the growth that appeared on my liver is actually benign. So while I am still dealing with the awful aftereffects of chemotherapy and likely will be for the rest of my life, it looks like my "ticket to the (front row of the) freak show" won't be punched anytime soon.

8:40 PM  
Anonymous David G. said...

My theory about depression and the demise of social organizations etc. is that it is largely due to technology. I am getting grumpier and grumpier about the techno-gadgets taking over our society, economy, and lifestyle. TV started it -- people stayed home to watch shows rather than hanging out on their front porches and socializing. Smartphones are just TV on steroids. I am amazingly disappointed in people, especially those I otherwise consider intelligent and thoughtful, as to how technology is thoughtlessly accepted. No one I know thinks beyond "hey, this thing is convenient and cool". No one thinks of the social and environmental costs of technology. Things like Uber ruining the taxi industry, Amazon and Walmart ruining local economies, Facebook ruining minds etc. never seem to enter people's consciousness. We all kind of know what's going on -- American individualism, immaturity, worship of shiny things, etc. But I am feeling the squeeze -- that those of us who choose to live a simple life and not use smartphones etc. will ultimately be crushed and swept to the side. The increasing use of these things will eventually force me to buy a smartphone in order to function in society. I enter my retirement years dreading what the techno-scene will be in 10 or 20 years.

10:04 PM  
Anonymous Esca Dreg said...

https://www.truthdig.com/articles/sasha-abramsky-on-the-decline-of-empathy-and-the-future-of-democracy-audio-and-transcript/
"So there’s a reason that more Americans think that spiders are dangerous than think that nuclear weapons are dangerous. When you calibrate these probabilities of risk, you have these studies showing that things like climate change and nuclear war are way down the American priority of risk. And things like spiders are way up the American priority of risk."

Two-thirds of Americans support torture. The same number believe in guardian angel who keeps them safe from spiders and muslims. These are Pinker's enlightened people. A clean well waxed butt-hole helps to get that brilliant 'light' through.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iaO1WtQ2L3E
The enthusiasm of the technicians is 'breathtaking.'
https://youtu.be/iaO1WtQ2L3E?t=1204

Now I realize why I was not getting Stinker's message of progress. I understand now how Bill Gates gets it bright and clear.

10:43 PM  
Anonymous Aaron Thomas said...

I’ll have to go back and read bowling alone. I’m sure a lot of people would argue against the premise. People will say they have lots of friends. I think there is a big difference in having friends that share hobbies and people who you really depend on. I get this feeling that what people call community isn’t much, it’s more a group of people who like a certain lifestyle, and a lot of this stuff is just based on money. Once you get to the mass of people who aren’t rich urban dwellers you find tens of millions of people just watching TV and eating Taco Bell. Things change slowly so it’s hard for someone that is 25 to understand, but people who have been around a while understand the direction thins are going.

I doubt this stuff started as late as the 80s, I bet these trends have been going on much longer. Criticism against radio and planes is valid, it allowed people to isolate themselves and move around by themselves. I’m guessing TV and video games were just the end result of a long process that probably started 150 years ago.

12:16 AM  
Blogger Nesim Watani said...

58 Palestinians killed to a Press who had no idea how to really spin it. Fortunately for them, most Americans could give a shit. Watching the opening of that Embassy and the craven animals that made up the audience it was rather surreal to see the nakedness of the True American-Israel relationship. It was fitting. Trump is the perfect US president for this nation. He has made bare what is the depth of the American hand in the Israeli occupation, no flower rhetoric or pretending to be angry. Just pure ugly support no matter the crime.

First Trump shows what Vassals the Europeans are and now he shows America and Israel's Ugly face. Historical figure he is!

3:08 AM  
Anonymous Anjin-san said...

Another interesting tidbit that documents how long and how far the rot has spread:

www.truthdig.com/articles/the-pentagon-cant-account-for-21-trillion

Whilst Trump and his cronies have been making out like bandits for the last year or so, reading this makes you realize that the looting has been going on for a long long time.

9:43 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Bill-

Terrific news, thanks for letting us know. Congratulations.

David-

Check out WAF ch. 3.

mb

10:10 AM  
Anonymous DioGenes said...

I have a large collection of old books, mostly discarded from University libraries, and sometimes I look through and find a real treat.

Charles Angoff's "H.L. Mencken: A Portrait from Memory"

Absolutely hilarious anecdotes. Mencken would eat massive amounts of German food and then carouse the streets of Baltimore reciting Kipling to cops.

Not a good book if you will be surprised and shocked to learn that there were forthright racist opinions in old America, but I think most people here can maintain a bit of perspective.

The guy wasn't afraid to call a turkey a turkey. As he said of America, it's a barbarous country, deserves to go the way of Cathage and the Phoenicians!

10:16 AM  
Blogger Ajay Singh said...

For the ancient Greeks, writes Janet Coleman, professor of Ancient and Medieval Political thought at LSE, reason ("reasoned explanation" is the term she uses) was "a means of rephrasing rather than replacing myth."

I thought that was an instructive insight that supplements Morris's own thoughts.

2:33 PM  

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