March 09, 2012

Interview with Nomi Prins on AlterNet

Check it out, amigos:


Anonymous shep said...

Best I have ever read Dr. Berman.

It seems to me a synonym for the American hustler is bully and I wish u cd weave this into ur interviews, if u agree!

Also, I just realized that Joe Bageant was in Mexico too?

Ignorance and courage in the age of Lady Gaga

By Joe Bageant
Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico

"If you hang out much with thinking people, conversation eventually turns to the serious political and cultural questions of our times. Such as: How can the Americans remain so consistently brain-fucked? Much of the world, including plenty of Americans, asks that question as they watch U.S. culture go down like a thrashing mastodon giving itself up to some Pleistocene tar pit."

8:28 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

I recall an essay in from a professor who looked forward to a plagiarized paper. She said those papers were the only ones with grammatically correct sentences.As a public school teacher I can assure you that you haven't seen anything yet. Kids are graduating high school and still can't write a cursive x or z. I continue to do my little survey and ask HS students if they know what the Cold War was. I get answers that make the people on J-walking seem like Rhodes scholars. Imagine a period in American history that costs the US trillions, led to the national security state, included Vietnam and the Cuban Missile Crisis and students think it has something to do with global warming!
With regard to Iran, are you aware that even threatening another country is a violation of the UN Charter? Yet the US and Israel daily threaten Iran who by the way; among Israel, India,and Pakistan is the only country that has signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

8:47 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...


Just read the Alternet piece, as well as the comments in response. Good to see WAF getting a bit more attention! I think the inevitability of collapse is starting to become apparent to a slightly larger number of people -- though a fair number will happily choose denial rather than acknowledge it, I'm sure.

I also want to thank you for your recommendation of The Joneses a few posts back. Finally saw it the other night. I expected a scathing critique of the consumer mentality & got it; what surprised me was how utterly sad it is, as well. Watching the lives of the couple played by Gary Cole & Glenne Headly disintegrate into despair & emptiness was heartbreaking. Yet to the Joneses, it's just business. What a multitude of horrific sins that detached phrase glosses over! "Nothing personal, it's just business." To that mindset, nothing is personal, is it? Persons don't enter into the equation at all. Persons really don't exist, I guess.

9:11 AM  
Blogger Louis Proyect said...

So you think that the American people are not too "bright"? Is it in their genes? Do people come into the world with a innate desire for Mercedes-Benz's? Or is it possible that your denigration of them comes from the vantage point of someone who has lived in the ivory tower his entire life?

9:11 AM  
Blogger kate59 said...

Wow -- awesome interview/article at Alternet. As usual, your command of your subject and language are superb. I just hope LOADS of people are reading it!

9:13 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Evidence for the sheer stupidity of the American people is quite massive by now, via a whole slew of studies conducted by folks both within and without the ivory tower; you might wanna check them out. As for the genetic component: personally, I believe it's there, but that's not really necessary. After 400+ years of behaving the same way, what's the difference, really?

In addition, you don't know very much about me: I've worked as a waiter, chef, chauffeur, secretary, bank teller, and a dozen other nonacademic jobs I have by now forgotten. Nice try, tho (old American custom: if u don't like the message, attack the messenger--also not very bright).


Alas, she's a vegetarian; tho she tolerates my deep commitment to chopped liver.


9:30 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

BTW, is anyone even a little suspicious concerning the death of Andrew Breitbart? He said at the CPAC conference that he had damning evidence against Obama which he planned to publish on March 1, the day he died from an apparent heart attack. He was 43. Then on March 5, Steve Bridges, 48, a GW Bush and Bill Clinton impersonator, suddenly died of a heart attack. Both had reportedly been in good health. Oh, the NDAA bill took effect on March 1. Perhaps I'm being a bit paranoid but I recall a line from Gore Vidal: "Third world debt equals third world politics."

9:50 AM  
Blogger Fobbs on the Verge said...

Wow! Your take on the situation in America is spot on. I left the states over a decade ago and I don't regret it. I think the situation will not change as long as we don't change what we consider as important. I agree war is an addiction for Americans and they don't care if people get killed. The more drones and automated means of killing people are used/developed, the less we will care and the more violence we will perpetrate. My advice is if you can leave the USA, do it before it is too late.

9:59 AM  
Anonymous Kevin said...

Excellent interview - a good one to pass on to those I've recommended the book to.

A topic for discussion:

As I noted in a previous comment thread, John Michael Greer's weekly posts are focusing on the same topic, the rise and fall of the American empire. This weeks post ( focused on the origins of the American empire.

His historical analysis is similar to WAF but, pre-Civil War (which is obviously next week's post), posits this taxonomy: "...three nascent American cultures—call them New England [WAF: the North], Tidewater [WAF: the South], and Frontier [WAF:???], if you like—also define three modes of expansion, two imperial and one much less so."

Greer characterizes both the North and the South as imperial. He continues: "The Frontier model is something else again. It also had a powerful expansionist dynamic, but it was egalitarian rather than hierarchical, and didn’t provide anybody with a convenient place to hook up a wealth pump."


(I was going to (figure out how to) post a comment at his site on WAF but found it already referenced in the comment thread with this reply from Greer: "Escape,...That last Berman bit is good -- clearly I need to revisit his work.")

10:57 AM  
Blogger Glock said...

Coming to the US to live with my new wife from Wales, UK, I have observed nearly all the trends you mention in your works. From outrageously bad architectural zoning to the hustler instinct, to find that someone out there can also see it going wrong and has bucked the system bravely to write an accessible account...thank you. If I may add something? I have noticed that nearly every building here is what I would call temporary. The stone cottages and buildings of my own country would never be built here. There's no seeming desire to build a permanent home, in a permanent village where one can hope a clan of descendants will be living happily in 500 years time. My idea is that the USA is in fact a temporary society that will, in one afternoon with a bulldozer, look like it never existed. Well, I'm here now and I can't go back to my village and dream of the ancient Celts at the local Stonehenge, still standing from times lost in the mist. Their stone edifices were built I suppose because there was no where else to move onwards to. Where will Americans hide or run to next when the big bad wolf comes to blow down their wooden shack? I will feel safer when people build in stone. Then they will become a nation!

12:28 PM  
Anonymous Susan W. said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

Over thirty years ago Eric Fromm wrote:

"Most individuals as well as social classes who cannot bear disillusionment without positive solutions will simply not listen to, understand, and certainly not agree with the disillusioning analysis, even if the critical thinker speaks with the voice of an angel."

2:20 PM  
Anonymous Joseph S. said...

Great interview, MB, as always. Funny how I only heard of Alternet this week and now I see their articles everywhere.

Unrelated question: If you were to choose some songs to play in the background of your BookTV lecture, which ones would they be? I'm watching it right now with some Heitor Villa-Lobos pieces playing softly, but what would your suggestions be?


2:34 PM  
Blogger Dana Seilhan said...

Louis: I've completed one quarter of community college--hardly an ivory-tower academic. (Actually, I'm more than a little bit of a loser, by current American standards.) I've lived among "ordinary" people my entire life, both military and civilian, Southern and Northern. I agree with Dr. Berman's assessment. I have no idea what my IQ is (my stepmom refused to tell me), but I've had a child who was tested at 180, and I'm still painfully aware that there are important gaps in my knowledge.

The Internet is the only place I bother talking about this stuff most of the time. Because I see the same responses his dean friend saw--and those are the nice responses. Those aren't the ones who yell at me for being a damn Obama-loving socialist. (I didn't vote for Obama, though I did in this year's primary because I'm that fed up with the GOP. Good Cop, Bad Cop--and I fell for it.) It's a rare human being who is willing to have intelligent, non-belligerent discussions with me about this. Even one of my friends from elementary-school gifted class(!) has a "let them eat cake" attitude about the whole thing--and votes right-wing Republican, proudly.

Don't judge a person's words by the person's status. Judge the words on their own merit. If Dr. Berman's words don't match your experience, try asking other people from all walks of life. You might be surprised.

3:48 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


"Barbara Ann" (Beach Boys), with apologies to Barbara Ann Nowak (one of my heroes). Followed by "White Shade of Pale" (Procol Harum).


4:20 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

I meant whiter, of course.

4:40 PM  
Anonymous Joseph S. said...

Thanks for the suggestions, MB.

There's an interview on Salon today about Thomas Drake, the NSA whistle blower who was on the receiving end of the Obama Administration and Justice Department's wrath until the court of public opinion made them drop all the charges. He talks about what he did, whistle blowing in general, and what he called the "dystopian bureaucracy" of the NSA, among other things. Any thoughts on it?

Here's the link:


7:23 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Honestly, I think anyone who can get out of the US, and chooses to stay, is nuts.

8:32 PM  
Blogger Brianw said...

Years ago I studied US historian William Appleman Williams's works and was struck by what he called the USAmerican weltanshauung: prosperity for a few men thru expansion at Any cost. I thought of this cultural ethos when reading Berman's thoughts on "America."

10:07 PM  
Blogger Russ said...

Dan, I'm not the least bit suspicious that someone as unhinged as Breitbart, who hysterically screamed for several minutes that Occupiers were a bunch of "rapists," would drop dead of a heart attack. His damning evidence was apparently a picture of Obama hugging Derrick Bell. I don't find that nearly as damning as Obama appointing Larry Summers and Jeffrey Immelt to fix the economy.

2:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This may be a healthy location to acknowledge the existence of a concerted plan and course of activity dedicated for some years already to taking a new authority over the U.S., successful today maybe only at the most minimally visible levels, underway nonetheless.

The name change will come (be announced) perhaps when the heart of your message, Morris, makes it into wide-scale collective awareness in such a way that a reason for intelligence, ability and fairness sink in after more of the heavies are released from their destructive intent, or maybe after we have both left these lives.

As you have suggested, the physical scape isn't going anywhere.

We may see. Until then, thanks for what you do.

2:37 AM  
Anonymous Julian said...

I thought this was interesting (of course this is nothing new for anybody reading this blog and MB's books):

9:16 AM  
Blogger ijcd said...

Prof. Berman and DAA'ers,

I have been away for a while, but still reading the posts and comments, which have become much more intelligent and have helped me learn a lot more (learning, my favorite passion). I just posted a comment about your interview with Nomi Prins, in Facebook (for whatever's worth), but also just posted a review (the same) in each of your trilogy + 1 books on America. Below is what I wrote.

The best and most useful useless scholarly work on America today.

Nomi Prins, in her book review of "A Question of Values" introduced me to Prof. Berman's work, and led me to discover others' writings as well. Everything touched upon, dissected, and thoroughly and brutally analyzed by Prof. Berman in his books (Twilight of American Culture, Dark Ages America, A Question of Values, and Why America Failed) were topics I already had a good observational, introspective and intuitive understanding of: reality in American society, it's dominant ideology, it's soul or lack of any, the alienated and solitary narcissistic/self-absorbed individuals occupying this land, and the infectious influence American popular culture has had on other peoples of the world, with the accompanying changes forced upon new immigrants, most particularly on their children, by the daily striving for survival in this barbaric economic system and by the poisonous effects of entertainment/educational institutions. However, all my observations and conclusions were still not well connected as a coherent system of thought about this nation. Prof. Berman does a superb job at synthesizing what many of us were able to see, yet had neither the skills and the scholarly training, nor the time to pursue such as a personal research topic. We just basically knew something was very wrong around us, with the people living in this society, and most of the time our friends and relatives. The power of propaganda and "education" on the subconscious is extraordinary, especially in this population.

By the way, I thank Julian for sharing his experiences as a mental health professional in the US, and I commend him for his decision to go back home. I can't do that now, for Cuba is much too destroyed and demoralized, and my closest family members are in Miami. I always find a great deal of new information, references to books & videos and catharsis in this blog site.

El Cubano
O & D!

6:14 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Thank u, and welcome back. Gd to have u among us again, muchacho.


7:32 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Millard Fillmore Alert:

As many of u know, I have occasionally denigrated Millard Fillmore, our 13th president (1850-53). I have called Mr. Obama "the Millard Fillmore of the 21st century." Wikipedia doesn't think much of him (MF) either:

"Fillmore opposed the proposal to keep slavery out of the territories annexed during the Mexican–American War in order to appease the South and so supported the Compromise of 1850, which he signed, including the Fugitive Slave Act ("Bloodhound Law") which was part of the compromise.... After his presidency, he joined the Know-Nothing movement; throughout the Civil War, he opposed President Lincoln and during Reconstruction supported President Johnson. He is consistently included in the bottom 10 of historical rankings of Presidents of the United States."

As in the case of Mr. Obama, it's hard to avoid the conclusion that the guy was a premier douche bag. And yet, I recently ran across the following quote from his first annual address to Congress, 1850:

"We should act toward other nations as we wish them to act toward us....Justice and conscience should form the rule of conduct between governments, instead of mere power, self-interest, or the desire of aggrandizement."

Judging by that standard of decency in foreign policy, MF may be a greater president than any of the postwar crowd excepting Jimmy Carter. What a thought.

7:53 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: perhaps, along with the two T-shirts already in the Wafer T-shirt series--O&D (Onward & Downward) and HRIR (Heads Rammed In Rumps)--we need to add a third: MFWR (Millard Fillmre Was Right).

7:56 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Dr. Berman,

A Yahoo news item jumped out of my computer. Sarah Palin accuses Obama of wanting to take America back to the antebellum period!

Apparently she has read YAF, and she too has misunderstood Chapter 4. Obviously she was born too long ago to have benefitted from No Child Left Behind.

David Rosen

10:31 PM  
Blogger ijcd said...

Hi Prof. Berman,

Is the Mexico meeting taking place? I think plane tickets will be quite high due to spring break for the children of the empire. Let me know, and I'll see what I can do. I have been thinking of taking 10 days instead and learn how to meditate at one of the Vipassana Meditation schools, which are free of charge and non-sectarian:
It's a tough choice, but I think this will really help people like us, who are not yet able to leave the "monster", find some peace.

By the way, Prof. Berman, ask your Mexican friends about Jose Marti, the Apostle of Cuban Independence. He lived in the US in forced exile after advocating for freedom from Spanish colonial rule in Cuba. He was a true intellectual genius and worked as a journalist for many newspapers, both in the US and Latin America (as a correspondent from the US). He saw the true nature of this culture and the soul of this nation, he wrote plenty of articles. There is a famous phrase in reference to America, and he used it to defend his assessment: "He vivido en el monstruo y le conozco sus entran~as". In English, more or less goes like this: I have lived inside the monster, and I do know its "guts" (which you should read as inner workings, it's ugliness and true nature and intentions).

El Cubano

O & D!

11:46 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Dr. Berman,
Let's not be too harsh on MF. As I wrote perhaps a year ago, after leaving office he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Oxford University. He turned it down saying he was unworthy for such an honor. Contrast that with Obama who not only accepted the Nobel Peace Prize but used his acceptance speech to call ML King and Gandhi naieve' about the world but then went on to bomb 6 (so far) countries.

10:02 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Entrails, viscera, is the usual translation. As for the Wafer Summit Meeting, it has largely collapsed. We needed 12 to make a go of it, and I got a definite commitment from 2. So I suspect I'll just be sitting by myself at some bar in the DF that weekend, crying into my cerveza.


Why is anyone listening to Sarah anymore? Like a comet, she streaked across the sky and was gone--even missing the chance to copulate w/me on an ice floe among the meese. I like your retitling of WAF: YAF might reasonably stand for, You Are Fucked!


10:02 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Yes, I've had to reassess my entire Fillmorean world view, no doubt abt it. I just wish I cd somehow get to pee on Mr. Obama's shoes, preferably b4 he leaves office.


11:54 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

Just learned that General Sherman, during the Battle of Atlanta, was the first person to use firepower (cannon bombardment, shock and awe) on civilians! Do not know what use this fact has but I was born and raised in Atlanta (my mother repeated, mechanically, and endlessly, the WAF chapter 4) and I like history because it shows this country's true self, or for that matter, most any other place where higher up people are, generally, bullies.


Sorry the Summit Meeting did not materialize.
I wd have loved to have been a fly on the wall with a video camera.

12:03 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Dr. Berman,

I don’t know why I hit the wrong key and typed YAF for WAF – and I can’t afford the years of psychoanalysis it would take to find out. You are the one who should be saying “You Are Fucked” since you have managed your escape. I’m still stuck here in the ‘guts of the monster’, so for me WAF means “We Are Fucked” – at least for now.


So Jose Marti was just another ingrate who failed to appreciate the benefits our empire bestows on the rest of the world. Another malcontent who hates us ‘because we’re so good’!

David Rosen

12:24 PM  
Anonymous Kevin said...

Perhaps we shouldn't get too excited by what any president says about anything - it's the actions that count. Obama's speeches are often fine, just completely independent from reality! I don't know about Fillmore but, per Elvis Costello, "pretty words don't mean much anymore."

As an example, I don't see any reason to praise Jimmy Carter on this front. When the Iranian revolution and "hostage taking" occurred, I don't remember him addressing the American public with the facts of the CIA's intervention in Iran in 1953 and telling us that "you reap what you sow" (which would have sounded in character with "born again" Jimmy). He clearly scores some points with his malaise speech and his contemplation of a non-materialist future but in his foreign policy and appeasement of the Catholic lobby on social policy he was no hero.

2:08 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


His foreign policy was pretty gd the 1st 2 yrs in office, in fact--pretty much a reversal of what had been going on since Truman. (I think I make that case pretty well in DAA.) However, toward the end he got corrupted by Brzezinski (a Russian-hating Pole), and the fear of losing office if he didn't adopt a "tough line," which is a real pity--the more so since the tough line was too little and too late, and did nothing to save his political ass.


4:59 PM  
Blogger ijcd said...

Prof. Berman,

Perhaps we should plan for the slow season, when plane tickets are cheaper, if there is such a time of the year for travel to Mexico. I bought your WAF for a friend of mine, a retired prof. from U.C. Berkeley, and he loved it, although he found it useless for him. He is used to accusations of being a commie, etc. I make a point to tell him that the great usefulness of your writings is helping us make a better case when talking to others. I have used your examples and statistics quite often. However, he has grown tired ot trying to have an intelligent argument with people here, he just wants to live in peace now. I should follow that example...

Yes, I guess he was, and apparently so am I! He did, however, become enchanted by the busyness and "liveliness" of Americans of his epoch, which basically has not changed much to this day. He grew apart from all of that in time, regardless of what Wikipedia says about his adoration of American hustling.

El Cubano

O & D!

7:41 PM  
Anonymous Julian said...

Here is a great example of how America is winning "hearts and minds" in foreign lands (and at home, too):

7:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

H.L. Mencken, who considered himself a displaced German all his life and suffered under the anti-German hysteria in America during World War I, had a number of characteristic things to say about the nature of the American people as he found them. One saying that sticks with me is that Americans are less "a people who conquered a continent" than "a people broken to the plow." Here is another one at random, from 1921 - and it is closer to the mark from the WAF perspective.

"[T]he [American] colonists, saving a few superior leaders, were men of small sensitiveness to the refinements of life [...]: soldiers of fortune, amateur theologians, younger sons, neighborhood 'advanced thinkers,' bankrupts, jobless workmen, decayed gentry, and other such fugitives from culture – in brief, Philistines of the sort who join tin-pot fraternal orders today, and march in parades, and whoop for the latest mountebanks in politics." (From The American Language: An Inquiry into the Development of English in the United States, Second Edition, p. 68.)

An extended treatment of the topic from the same author (with George Jean Nathan) is found in the preface to The American Credo here. Despite some nonsense about social mobility, they lay their fingers on the fear and invidiousness at the heart of the typical American.

3:26 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Thanks for writing in (would love it if you'd use a handle, BTW). Mencken never did use the actual phrase, "Cranial-Rectal Embedment," but he did say that "you can never underestimate the intelligence of the American people."

Meanwhile, consider this, from Noam Chomsky: "Everybody's worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there's a really easy way: stop participating in it."



3:53 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

HRIR Dept.:

After 8 terms in the House of Representatives, Dennis Kucinich finally lost his congressional seat, apparently due to GOP gerrymandering. That seat may eventually be filled by John McCain's hero, "Joe the Plumber" (who, it turned out, wasn't actually a plumber).

Not a day goes by that the American head does not plunge deeper into the American rump.


4:36 PM  
Anonymous Julian said...


I was wondering if you knew that Sigmund Freud despised American-style capitalism and referred to the United States as "Dollarland".

If anybody still thinks the hustler mentality of America is a recent development, Freud evidently picked up on it more than 100 years ago.


5:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

News flash: People aren't smart enough to sustain democracy


People Aren't Smart Enough for Democracy to Flourish, Scientists Say

The democratic process relies on the assumption that citizens (the majority of them, at least) can recognize the best political candidate, or best policy idea, when they see it. But a growing body of research has revealed an unfortunate aspect of the human psyche that would seem to disprove this notion, and imply instead that democratic elections produce mediocre leadership and policies.

The research, led by David Dunning, a psychologist at Cornell University, shows that incompetent people are inherently unable to judge the competence of other people, or the quality of those people's ideas. For example, if people lack expertise on tax reform, it is very difficult for them to identify the candidates who are actual experts. They simply lack the mental tools needed to make meaningful judgments.

As a result, no amount of information or facts about political candidates can override the inherent inability of many voters to accurately evaluate them. On top of that, "very smart ideas are going to be hard for people to adopt, because most people don’t have the sophistication to recognize how good an idea is," Dunning told Life's Little Mysteries.


7:13 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

You have to feel bad for the few hundred thousand soldiers who have been given the impossible task of completing the mission Bush and Ann Coulter sent them on more than ten years ago to, “invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity”. The Pentagon hasn’t released any figures on how many Muslims they have converted to Christianity at the point of a gun, but they do claim to have killed a lot of “leaders”. But how many leaders does it take to encourage someone to join the fight against a gang of heavily armed foreigners who are bombing and killing your friends and family, and protecting a corrupt puppet government? Iraq and Afghanistan each have only about 30 million people of the total 1.6 billion global Muslim population. The conversion mission begins to look daunting indeed, and frustration is bound to boil over, so occasionally one or two of our stressed out Rambos will come to the obvious unsaid conclusion that in order to complete the mission, we’re going to have to kill everyone who won’t convert.
Perhaps we should have more patience, the American wars to convert the Middle East into a Christian province of the empire have only been going for ten years, twenty, if you include the sanctions that killed 500,000 children in Iraq. If you had the foresight to buy the stocks of war corps when Bush was appointed president, your patience has already been rewarded. The ordinary grunt in the front lines, however, probably doesn’t own much Halliburton stock, but hope for them may come tomorrow if Mississippi and Alabama Christian voters of the Mayella and Bob Ewell type can propel that great war hero Newt Gingrich into the oval office.

9:30 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Good article, but Duh is probably the most obvious response. Yahoo shd have titled it, "American Heads Deeply Embedded in American Rumps; Prognosis Not Good."


This, at some pt after his return from the US, where he gave lectures at Clark University: "America is a mistake, admittedly a gigantic mistake, but a mistake nevertheless."


10:52 PM  
Anonymous Chaz H Holmes said...

I have just enough money left for a plane ticket to anywhere in the world. Where's the best place to show-up without any money?

2:23 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I'm not an expert in such things, but offhand, I'd say nowhere. Why don't you do a little Internet searching on cost of living indices, b4 u get on the plane?


2:53 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

In praise of hustling: Yet another buffoon weighs in.

7:31 PM  
Anonymous Ray said...


"...a plane ticket to anywhere in the world."

Better do it fast before other countries start applying the "emperor's new clothes" solution to our complacency about being able to go anywhere our precious boundary-busting little selves please.

In the next few decades, more and more countries will likely start adjusting (gradually) their entry and visa requirements to the realities of ebbing American power and ability to intimidate. We will begin to understand better the way most of the world's non-western population has been kept in national cages in this, the age of the compulsory and onerous visa for the unpowerful. And exactly how much of an unreflected entitlement it is to assume we can just become travelling NMI's whenever we want.

7:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


How do you like that word "New norm" (used once again in the CNN hustler video)? It's used more and more by the mainstream media.

The nitwit populace is being acclimated incrementally into being the beasts of burden that they've collectively chosen to be, since they never resist anything that their criminal government introduces into their society, no matter how sick, perverse or detrimental it may be.

Like savages, they'll be working 3 jobs just to make $20,000 a year total from all three jobs, and they'll stll think their way of life is the best.

It's beyond pathetic.

9:56 PM  
Anonymous Yardbird said...

Encyclopedia Britannica to no longer make print encyclopedias.

10:57 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


What I enjoyed abt that 'hustler' article was that the guy depicted the lifestyle as cool, and thus implied that he was cool for recognizing this trendy 'new' way of life. It never crossed his mind that that way of life was the ultimate in bullshit, and that people caught up in it were probably driven and miserable. Thos Frank ridiculed this way of thinking yrs ago in "One Market Under God."


11:09 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Altruism: This is a subject we've discussed on this blog from time to time, the pros and cons of the "Lord of the Flies" argument and so on. I wanted to bring your attention to an article by Jonah Lehrer in the March 5 New Yorker, "Kin and Kind," which is a state-of-the art discussion of the subject. The essay reveals how there are no easy answers, and how complex the whole topic is, even going down to the cellular level.

Lehrer quotes E.O. Wilson from an article he publ. in 2007, to the effect that as far as he can make out, selfishness triumphs over altruism within groups, but that altruistic groups triumph over selfish ones. I cdn't help thinking about WAF, because my argument might be phrased along similar lines. That is, if u want to succeed in the US, screw the other guy--wh/is our 400-yr history of hustling--but what this does to the country vis-a-vis the rest of the world is put us one-down (eventually), and lead to our decline. And all of this on a cellular level. Amazing!


10:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr. Berman,

Do u have a date for your September trip to VT? Are you going to visit any other spots in the North East? I'm from Boston and will definitely make a trip to Montpelier to see your show. 

Mike O' 

11:49 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

"It never crossed his mind that that way of life was the ultimate in bullshit, and that people caught up in it were probably driven and miserable."
While I agree that it is unfortunate that people have to rush from job to job throughout a workweek , I am a bit confused by calling it "the ultimate in bullshit." If their jobs are providing needed services, what is "bullshit" about that ?
On another note, has anyone seen the latest Harvard Business Review? They say that two of the real reasons America is losing jobs is because of a.) automation (not because we're exporting jobs overseas and b.) that americans are more interested in services than goods.
This does not make a lot of sense to me. How can you have services without goods? Are people going to restaurants, tipping the waiters but not eating the food? People are no longer buying cars, clothes, and furniture ?
I'm being a bit faceitous, but I still dont see how americans can prefer a "service economy" over a "goods econ omy." Harvard Business Review is weird.

2:13 PM  
Anonymous Bill said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

Even though this is from a 'former' employee of Goldman Sachs, it echoes many things that you have said in your writing. To hear it coming from this particular individual(within the belly of the beast) speaks volumes of the speed that these ideas might be traveling at.

3:44 PM  
Anonymous A Natural Mystic said...

Chaz - According to Guy McPherson, one of the best and cheapest countries for an American to escape to is Belize - extremely low cost of living, official language is English, intact culture, etc. I know the late Joe Bageant lived there for some time and probably would also add his endorsement, but I would be careful and do some research before buying a one way ticket. Your specific needs, expectations, etc are unique and thus your mileage is likely to vary.


Looking forward to hearing you speak in San Francisco!

4:29 PM  
Blogger ToiLET ApPLe said...

thank you so much for this blog, I just became aware of your writing from the article on alternet, will order your book today.....

I think you may enjoy this bit of news, it seems to show your thesis well....

4:45 PM  
Anonymous Nate in San Jose said...

"It's almost like some weird form of economic cannibalism."

Even though he doesn't get it, he gets it.

6:16 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Mike O:

Vermont State House, I think it is, Sept. 14. No other spots, I fear.


True, but a lot of these services are not needed, just manufactured needs...a big part of the hustling economy. Plus, there isn't much choice in this lifestyle, altho the people usually believe there is. This was Thomas Frank's major pt.

7:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Morris, Alfie Kohn was always a loan voice in the wilderness, especially via his book No Contest.

9:56 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

“It's just capitalism doing what it's designed to do: be as profitable as possible. We simply must adjust. And that, my friends, is the hustle.” Ah yes, whatever capitalism decides, must be the best of all possible worlds. And if capitalism decides to bring back slavery, will Mr. Granderson say “we simply must adjust”? This kind of passive acceptance is the wet dream of the billionaire class. Throughout history people have decided to make different kinds of adjustments, in say 1789 or 1917. I suggest we at least try to imagine living in other ways, it would have to start with rethinking our ideas about work. I know, its a long shot, but what have we got to lose?

10:15 PM  
Blogger ToiLET ApPLe said...

what do you think as Apple being the peak of the empire? I read a while back on a business blog the idea of Apple inc. being a symbol of the empires final peakishness?!

interesting idea from a capitalist view point, have a look if you wish:

peace out, from Canada

11:29 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...


You don’t like working your fingers to the bone for peanuts? Well, you just ‘can’t adapt’!

You’re concerned about the masses of workers who “stand outcast and starving midst the wonders they have made”? Well, they just ‘can’t adapt’ to the changing times.

See, don’t you feel better already?

David Rosen

12:26 PM  
Anonymous Julian said...


"a plane ticket to anywhere in the world."

Keep in mind that with a US passport you do not have the right to work anywhere except the US, and obtaining a work visa on your own is a hassle in most countries. If your parents or grandparents immigrated to the US from a European, Asian, or Latin American nation, it might be worth exploring what it would take to get citizenship in that country through inheritance (usually it's not that difficult if you can prove they were born there). A second passport might also become useful in order to escape the US in case Droner declares Marshall law.

Or you might just consider getting a job in a place that is looking to hire Americans. Last time I looked on craigslist, there were tons of jobs in China for Americans of any age with a college degree, paying over $2000 a month teaching English, often with subsidized housing and meals (Beijing, Shanghai, etc.). This topic is often discussed on China's CCTV Crossover show:

Here’s an interesting article:

Just some thoughts. I hope it helps.


3:04 PM  
Anonymous Mark Notzon said...

Hello MB, et al:

A bit off topic maybe, but I recently discovered the writings of Raymond Tallis, British neuroscientist and public intellectual of MB’s caliber, who is deeply conversant with Western philosophical and scientific traditions. If any WAFer’s have wondered not only about the value, but the distortive glamour of “brain imaging” and explaining human behavior in soley in terms of what part of the brain is lit up, or indeed reducing human thought to the various states and chemical baths of brain tissue, please dip into Tallis’ “Aping Humanity: Neuromania, Darwinitis, and the Misrepresenation of Humaniy.”

An avowed sceptic and atheist, Tallis has rattled his colleagues by contending that the activity of the mind cannot be reduced to the activity of brain matter, and without understanding the mind as mind, history, art, and philosophy can hardly be understood or pursued as human endeavors. He is gifted stylist, and something of a wit, and also very thorough in his arguments. “Neuromania” as he calls it, is a symptomatic of a dogmatic scientism as hazardous in its own way as is religious fundamentalism. I found it restorative to find that secular humanism should have such an articulate voice reminding us that it is not simply an idealogy, a form which it often assumes in the “MacThink” of North American cultural wars…. Which many celebrate as “freedom of speech.”

--Mark Notzon

6:34 PM  
Blogger gerardomundo said...

Professor Berman,
In my 65 years I have never written a fan letter. This may be a fan letter. I’m not sure. I read “Dark Ages America” when it came out and just finished “Why America Failed.” Both books penetrate America’s hallucination of itself. I have for years annoyed friends and family with my claim that, even though America can tie its shoes, it is fundamentally schizophrenic. The majority of people in this country engage in a sad attempt to hold simultaneously to the teachings of Christ and the pagan idolatry of capitalism. Imagine, I suggest to my still hopeful associates, someone who believes concurrently in the Prince of Peace with his invitation to compassion, mercy, love and community and the macho, testosterone, narcissistic, dog-eat-dog blather of “free market” ideology. Your books have articulated the framework in which this pathology manages to gestate. I recommend them regularly.
I remember when I was a student at Berkeley (1969) taking an undergraduate course called “Contemporary Natural Science,” a course that mercifully simplified scientific concepts for non-majors. One day a graduate assistant who conducted our twice weekly discussions announced that he and an associate had discussed an algorithm delineating a timetable for doom. Our capacity for creating technologies of destruction, he maintained, will outrun our emotional capacity to control them. Although this pertained to the developed world (not just America) it certainly reflected this country’s significant role in moving this apocalypse forward. Your analyses so effectively discuss the historical and sociological milieu if which this grim process is taking place.
I found especially engaging your discussion of the south and the “clash of civilizations.” I have long had a lifelong radical’s antipathy to the south. That anger blinded me to its aesthetic qualities. I first encountered a more nuanced perspective when I read “My Reading Life” novelist Pat Conroy’s treatment of his own artistic journey.
I want to thank you for your courage and your clarity. I can imagine you feel isolated in a mighty small corner of American intellectual life. But there are a bunch of us who sit in that corner with you. “Why America Failed” may offer a grim prognosis but I took from it also an implied invitation to live an authentic life. Like you I am tired of gnashing my teeth over America’s stupidity. I have scheduled a trip this summer to Santa Marta Columbia to investigate retiring on a beautiful coastline. I am learning Spanish as quickly as my deteriorating brain cells allow. I look forward to your next project.
All the Best,
Jerry Darr ( )

11:51 AM  
Anonymous Joseph S. said...

Just stopping bye to say "hello" to humanity's new idol, the iPad 3.


12:43 PM  
Anonymous shep said...

Jerry Darr:


There was a time in recent history that I wanted to get the Rosetta Stone for Spanish. Probably should!

Went to a Santa Marta site and there were NO tours or shopping listed! Prices were 50's/60's in America.

Columbia seems to be like the U.S governmentally, however, Venezuela is next door.

Good luck.

Onward and Downward.

8:12 PM  
Anonymous Susan W. said...

Dear Dr. Berman,


You might want to read Erewhon by Samuel Butler. It was E.M. Forster's favorite book and there's a lengthy discussion on machines. And maybe learning Spanish isn't such a bad idea either. From Zero Hedge:

"George Orwell was right. He was just 30 years early.

In its April cover story, Wired has an exclusive report on the NSA's Utah Data Center, which is a must read for anyone who believes any privacy is still a possibility in the United States: "A project of immense secrecy, it is the final piece in a complex puzzle assembled over the past decade. Its purpose: to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks.... Flowing through its servers and routers and stored in near-bottomless databases will be all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails—parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital “pocket litter.”... The heavily fortified $2 billion center should be up and running in September 2013." In other words, in just over 1 year, virtually anything one communicates through any traceable medium, or any record of one's existence in the electronic medium, which these days is everything, will unofficially be property of the US government to deal with as it sees fit... As former NSA operative William Binney who was a senior NSA crypto-mathematician, and is the basis for the Wired article (which we guess makes him merely the latest whistleblower to step up: is America suddenly experiencing an ethical revulsion?), and quit his job only after he realized that the NSA is now openly trampling the constitution, says as he holds his thumb and forefinger close together. "We are, like, that far from a turnkey totalitarian state."

6:23 PM  
Anonymous Mark Notzon said...

Dear Shep, MB et al

"There was a time in recent history that I wanted to get the Rosetta Stone for Spanish. Probably should!"

I heard and saw all the adverts for the Rosetta Stone language learning packages, and I think the marketing behind it is far superior to the pedagogy it delivers in a handsome and attractive "state of the art" package.

The price is exorbitant--and the money could be better put towards a ticket for getting out. Once there, get a pocket grammar and dictionary, pad and pencil, and hang out in cafes or bars, and make friends. A traditional course might help.

One thing that really gets me about the Rosetta Stone folks is
how they exploit the neoromantic fallacy that you can learn as you did when you were a child. Sounds fun, nice and cozy, doesn't it? All you have to do is sit back "interact" with the screen and high Castilian will flow out of your mouth naturally.

It is a product of the "edutainment"' and "convenience" industry which wants you to increase the digital clutter in your living space. I guess that is what "childhood" is all about.

In any case, even if you do find that you are "learning" through
Rosetta Stone, there are much cheaper digital packages around that offer the same format.

Any package that makes you think you can skirt grammar by returning to your childhood is bunk, in my book.

If Champoillon had to learn Ancient Greek through the Rosetta Stone package, he wouldn't have the skills to decode the stone.

11:06 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

Thank u Mark.

I know all marketing is about lies and money. I look into stuff all the time that is not close to what they tell u to get u to investigate. I fell for it but was too cheap.

6:35 PM  
Blogger J. P. CAZADOR said...

@ Shep,

For learning Spanish on your own with a mail order course, nothing beats the language company called Cortina.

They're out of Connecticut and have been around since the 1940s, teaching numerous languages. The Spanish course costs $129.00 and it's really worth it, as it teaches you to read, write and speak at the same time. You can't get the most out of a language without being able to do all three. Check out the link I provided above. I think you'll like the course.

The second choice would be Linguaphone:

They are like Cortina in that they teach you to read write and speak at the same time. They're more expensive than Cortina, but are equal in quality, so I'd go with Cortina for the price, but look into both before you decide.

3:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

American life department: 

" I did what I had to do", Salem mother tells police after allegedly slashing children s throats, setting apartment on fire

8:11 PM  
Anonymous Julian said...

There you have it -- Martial Law has finally come to America's shores (I like the photo of Obummer too :)

8:43 PM  
Blogger ijcd said...

KKK member running for sheriff... enjoy this guys:

O & D!

El Cubano

11:07 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...


Mike is correct about magic techniques. Language, like sex is best when it involves human to human interaction – and this is also true for language learning.

However, it has been my experience, both as a language teacher and learner, that every kind of exposure to a language helps – and that no single method alone is enough. Also, different methods are more or less helpful in different ways to different people.

Back in the late 70’s I used ‘Listen and Learn’ records, phrase books, and grammar books to try and learn Portuguese. I didn’t consider them very successful at the time because I wasn’t at all fluent when I landed in Mozambique. After I got there and started to pick up the language by living and working, I realized that the vocabulary, familiarity with the grammar, and memorized sentences that I had brought with me were much more valuable than I had realized. It would have been much harder to start ‘cold.’

Learning about grammar really helps, but don’t try to memorize it – let it soak in. Excessive grammar memorizing can slow you down. Instead, memorize phrases and sentences, and sooner or later grammar features will ‘click’. The book, ‘501 Spanish Verbs’ is valuable if you use it mostly as a reference book.

Cazador is correct about Cortina, it’s good and comprehensive, and you do need something like that. But you should supplement it by finding simple things to listen to and read – comic books are great if you can find them, and you should also decipher news articles from BBC World. Also, see if you can find ‘Learning Spanish Like Crazy’ cheap on line – I recommend it.

It can be fun, and it’s a lot of hard work, but it will really help when you get there.

Finally, when you are there, don’t be afraid to make mistakes – just try and say it as best you can. You will never learn anything by waiting until you are perfect.

David Rosen

11:50 PM  
Anonymous Julian said...

Anon (re. Salem mother tells police...),

“The mother accused of slashing the throats of her two children and setting fire to her apartment told police she was trying to protect them.”

That mother must be a war hero, because she’s using US military logic: “We had to destroy the village in order to save it.”


11:56 PM  
Anonymous shep said...

Thanks to all who have encouraged me to learn Spanish to get ready to depart for somewhere in the Southern Cone, as they say. Friendship is all that matters in this universe.

I am old as dirt and about fizzled out, but by Diety, I am going to learn Spanish. I have a plan thanks again to my compadres! For some reason, I always, always had the desire but was either too lazy or it seemed too hard. If u think about it Americans shud have been made, by code, to learn Spanish, and pass a test, instead of arguing about the “Official “ language. This is how a “Shining City on a Hill” wd have responded.

Ordered from Cortina just now. (7:30 AM C.T. 3-20-2012)

By the way, for some reason, Cortina only charged me a total of $127.94. I think they have messed up and I owe them some additional. The shipping was $11.39 for 8# of materials and the total charged was less than the advertised price of $129.50 (Including a promotional discount). As we all know, the traditional way of American companies is to sock-it-to-you with shipping and handling. (Part of the crooked marketing schemes - Bastards)

Thanks again and,


Here is a quote from a black Florida preacher in 1865 named Richard Edwards that I read last night that stirred me pretty good while reading and thinking about all the good WAF'ers:

"So long ez de shadder ob de gret house falls acrost you, you ain't gwine ter feel lak no free man, an you ain't qwine ter feel lak no free 'oman. You must' all move--you must move clar away from de ole places what you knows, ter de new places and what you don't know, whey you kin raise up yore head douten no fear o' Marse dis ur Marse Tudder."

8:55 AM  
Blogger J. P. CAZADOR said...

@ Julian,

Yes, in addition to a good course with grammar one MUST interact with speakers of the language as much as they can. At the time I learned Spanish I was single and therefore was more mobile, so to assist in learning Spanish I moved into the Little Havana section of Miami, FL and immersed myself in the language. I sought every opportunity to speak it, and I would spend hours reading out loud to improve my pronunciation and acclimate my tongue to speaking the language, thus eliminating an american accent over time.

I only watched Spanish movies, listened to Spanish radio, read Spanish books and newspapers, etc., and I've continued doing this on a daily basis for the past 23 years since I began to study Spanish in 1989.

The book that you mention, 501 Spanish Verbs by Chris Kendris, is an excellent reference book, and a must have in ones book collection.

I would also recommend buying a dictionary that is completely in Spanish and to gradually use it more and more as learning progresses, rather than use a Spanish-English one all the time. You'll get a better understanding of a word's meaning when it's defined in it's own language.

By living in hispanic neighborhoods I also inadvertantly discovered that these neighborhoods were like enclaves where one could escape, to a degree, from the decadence of American "culture", and I continued to live in them up until I moved to the Dominican Republic.

5:34 PM  
Anonymous Frank Hartzell said...

Your comments are brilliant and right on, except for the hopeless pessimism. Imagine if the year was 1950 and the Civil Right movement was envisioned. Or if the year was 1750 and the Revolution was envisioned (An already mature Ben Franklin talking at a pub).
Great intellectuals would say those changes were impossible.
Greed and hustlerism is not only in the fabric of Americanism it IS the religion of America, especailly for Evangelicals, who pretend to worship Jesus but cut all the red writing out of the New Testament!
Your frustration with stupidity is understandable, yet celebrity worship and market worship are two poles of stupidity that deserve more thoughtful separation. Doing show will show that there is a dogged communal spirit, one of putting Jesus back in the faith despite the Jesus Freaks best efforts to replace him with a badly written Horatio Alger hero.
As a newsman of 35 years, I found all your pessimism to be valid. But I also found real strenght, blind Boxer the Horse strength usually but a decency quite the equal of the Mexican kind you rightly refer to, in American small towns, despite their full Sinclair Monty Lewis. There is a true great awakening possible (despite the fact past Great Awakenings have actually been revivals of the most deeply held stupidity). Have faith man, its one of the true Lukean Forces in the universe...

5:08 AM  
Anonymous Julian said...


If I were to learn Spanish, I would probably take the same route as you, namely to simply immerse myself into a Spanish-speaking community. My native tongue is Romanian, which is another Latin-based language that is very similar to Spanish, so learning Spanish should not be too difficult. Romanians who move to places like Spain usually learn to speak fluent Spanish in less than a year.

I am very curious about exploring South America this year or the next. When is it the best time to go there? Is it during the warmer months (Dec – March)?


11:18 AM  
Blogger J. P. CAZADOR said...


I have heard many times that the Romanian language is very similar to Spanish.

Where in South America would you like to go? I like Colombia and Venezuela. Central America is nice too. I've been to Panama, Honduras and El Salvador.
The Warmer months aren't bad if you don't like the heat and humidity. Many parts of Colombia are cool all year round due to the altitude.

9:54 PM  
Blogger Mike Cifone said...

Dear Maury,

It was wonderful to finally see you in person, hear you talk and at least get you to sign a book I consider to be deeply important to my life (Wandering God). Thank you. Too bad I goofed and sent an email too late for us to get a beer. Oh Well. On the off chance that you're still in town either Friday or Saturday, I'm free and my offer for a beer or dinner still stands. I'll check in here and in email to see.

I will admit that I was going to seek some general advise and wisdom from you on several things, but a fragment of a brief conversation you were having with one person as I departed, which I overheard, was all I needed to hear ... I think there's some Daoist wisdom contained in the fact alone.

Thanks again for all your outstanding work, and your commitment to the human spirit.

Kind regards,
Mike Cifone.

4:55 AM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...


There is an interesting article on Antiwar(dot)com by Justin Raimondo, (March 21, 2012) under the title, “George Packer and the Unfathomable: Why did an American soldier murder Afghan children in their beds?” It is well worth reading.

Among much else, it contains the following:

“We have earned such enemies many times over, in many different places all over the world. And when they exact vengeance, we whine and cry and squeal about “terrorism.” Has a more narcissistic, callous, willfully blind people ever existed anywhere on earth? The Romans, for all their brutality, never expected mercy from their enemies, and the British, for all their arrogance, at least tried to mollify the natives. We, on the other hand, don’t care to even know about the suffering of our foreign subjects: we blank out their cries of despair.”

Wow! "Has a more narcissistic, callous, willfully blind people ever existed anywhere on earth?"

I was about to write, “These words say it all!” But they don’t say it all – there is much, much more. However, they do say a lot.

David Rosen

1:21 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

As one LA journalist wrote, "They hate us because we don't even know why they hate us."

4:07 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

The thing I like so much about Dr. Berman’s work is that he has been bold enough acknowledge certain unpleasant and likely irredeemable aspects of America. Acknowledgement may not lead to a reassessment or change of direction, but who can say where simply being honest about ourselves will lead?
For, example, war has become such an important factor in the economy of certain regions of the country, like the South and Sunbelt, that it may not even matter whether these wars end in victory, in fact, it may be better if they don’t end at all, as long as they continue to be expensive enough to prime the economy of the region. These wars have the added appeal of killing people who are not like us religiously or racially. This is undoubtedly why politicians from this region must and do advocate for war with great enthusiasm.
I’ve been reviewing the old Cold War thriller Fail-Safe, largely overshadowed by Dr. Strangelove which came out the same year. In it there is a professor based on the real life advocate of limited nuclear war, Herman Kahn, played brilliantly by Walter Matthau of all people. After listening to the Republican debate in Arizona, I was struck by how much Gingrich, a former professor, made the same arguments for war only replacing Islam and Iran for Communism and the Soviet Union. It is so difficult to change a way of life, so it is easy to see how desperate these people were to find a replacement enemy.

6:59 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


My favorite in that film was Peter Sellers, playing Henry Kissinger.


8:59 PM  
Anonymous shep said...

The American farce is responsible for:
"Life sucks and then u die."

9:16 PM  
Anonymous David M said...

Dr. Berman & DAAers.
When you live in the cosumeristic bisque, all that matters is money. If you can make money by losing wars so be it. Those folks not dodging the bullets are comforted by the losing with finacial gains.

A few days ago at dinner, while some of the party were playing with their cell phones, I was explaining how people respond to their gadgets like Pavlov's dog such as when the cell phone rang. One of my friends explained that she keeps hers on vibrate. There you have it!

I'm reading "Gravity's Rainbow) by Thomas Pynchon and the Hereros seeking final zero reminds me of us DAAers. Their culture was destroyed by christianity and western sensibilities so they are commiting a sort of cultural suicide just waiting unemotionally as they can for the end.

By the way my faverite role by Peter Sellers was in "Being There". His character reminds me of George Bush especially at the end when he walks on water.

10:31 AM  
Anonymous Paul said...

Dr B.
I just wanted to thank you for your talk at Modern Times in San Francisco Thursday! It was probably not all that suprising the resistance to the critique you gave on the Occupy movement. Unfortunately, people who are personally caught up in trying to change the system will have trouble seeing much beyond their struggle. On the whole I think you planted some seeds... at least more people showed up at that venue than the last time I saw you in SF.

One question I had which I would have liked to have asked was how much of a role do you think religion played in shaping the capitalist model (certainly this wasn't exclusively American?) Consider the "Roman" Catholic Church (in a sense) being if not 'the' at least one of the oldest 'corporations' on the planet. I just think it's odd how religion continues to get a free ride as in how all this can somehow be "God's work"?...I mean, what a convenient and clever con job... from the Crusades on down thru the Puritans as well as all the wars of 'conquest' perpetrated in the name of religion? (in reality $$$) Modern corporations perhaps drawing the parallel to 'kingdoms' in this respect. (think of Microsoft as the 'Kingdom' of Bill Gates and the influence he wields)

Perhaps some differences there but basically the model is one of conquest and opposed to 'need' and the 'craft' involved in supplying the need.

1:34 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Yeah, that was loads of fun, eh? I felt sorry for that poor VN vet who insisted change was possible because it happened with civil rts and the antiwar movement. The problem is that even if these were successful, they certainly didn't address the structural (esp. socioeconomic) problems of the US; that has remained unaltered for 400 yrs. They were abt very specific issues, and even then, the gains are debatable, as I tried to suggest. Taking on the whole ball of wax is a very different thing, but I don't think I was able to get thru to him.

In general, 'progressive' audiences expect their speakers to say certain comforting things, and when they don't, the audience gets upset. It's very hard for Americans of all political persuasions to hear that the game is truly, truly over and that the best one can do is emigrate.


3:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Ascendence of Sociopaths in US Governance

In this article, I'm going to argue that the US government, in particular, is being overrun by the wrong kind of person. It's a trend that's been in motion for many years but has now reached a point of no return. In other words, a type of moral rot has become so prevalent that it's institutional in nature. There is not going to be, therefore, any serious change in the direction in which the US is headed until a genuine crisis topples the existing order. Until then, the trend will accelerate.

The reason is that a certain class of people – sociopaths – are now fully in control of major American institutions. Their beliefs and attitudes are insinuated throughout the economic, political, intellectual and psychological/spiritual fabric of the US.


4:31 PM  
Anonymous Julian said...

Speaking of emigration, here is an article I thought to be informative:

11:57 PM  
Anonymous JWO said...

A little off topic, but I just finished "The Telling" by Ursula Le Guin yesterday and one word she used to describe the corporate gov of Aka really hit home, "Egocrat." How perfect is that? I have always been amazed at the level of hubris needed to play in politics and Egocrat is a great label.

9:32 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Food for thought dept.:

"They tranquilize themselves in the trivial."--Soren Kierkegaard

"If a way to the better there be, it lies in taking a look at the worst."--Thos Hardy

9:03 PM  
Anonymous Julian said...


"They tranquilize themselves in the trivial."--Soren Kierkegaard

Yeah, in this cycle of empire, the circuses are dirt trivial, it seems.

Yet, this has had no tranquilizing effect on me. Quite the opposite—it drives me nuts. Case in point: I have not been able to figure out a way not to automatically be taken to the Yahoo home page when I finish checking my Yahoo email. So, I am forced to endure numerous curse words popping up into my head every time I see Kim Kardasian’s face. I had a similar, but somewhat more repulsive effect when Lady Gaga used to frequently rear her ugly head on Yahoo’s page. Not very tranquilizing at all; but I figure, it must be a sign of my good state of mental health.


10:22 PM  
Anonymous TonyU said...

Dr Berman,

Your prophecy may come as early as next summer if Israel decides to attack Iran.

I listened to the following program:

Bill Moyers and Andrew Bacevich discuss a new vision for America’s global role

Bacevich says that if Israel attacks Iran, the US will be forced to get involved.
He also says that in1953 CIA and British MI6 overthrew a democratically elected president of Iran without any regard to the people of Iran and that most Americans do not know this while 100% of Iranians know this.

Then I read this:

“In September 2010, he (Golberg) published a remarkable piece in the Atlantic Monthly, forecasting an Israeli air strike on Iran.

So temperatures are rising in Jerusalem. As time is running out the Goldberg scenario becomes more and more likely. What he hears from his sources, and what I hear from my sources, lead us to believe the coming summer is a crucial one. If senior Israelis are now shouting gewald, American decision makers and opinion leaders had better pay close attention”

I think the American people are tired of wars, and if Israel attacks Iran, nobody knows what will happen. Bacevich says that nothing is guaranteed once a war starts and that an Iranian-Israeli war could lead to disaster for both Israel and the US.

11:32 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I think Israel and the US can be counted on to do the worst thing possible. Both base their identities on denying other people's identity. This is both addictive and unstable; and as Marshall McLuhan pointed out long ago, it leads to violence.

Meanwhile, check out Dark Ages America, ch. 5.


12:49 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

I don't think Israel will attack Iran. The Israelis and using the Iran threat to divert attention from their continued stealing land and now water in the territories. Also,tea party members are not particularly fond of foreign aid so Israel is probably afraid of losing their 3-4 billion $ aid package thus again the terror card. I think crunch time with come if Romney is president. Mormons feel that they are God's chosen people so I don't think he would be much inclined to support Israel as much as past presidents.
Anyway, I now think we can effectively kiss goodbye to the 4th amendment ( their papers) since the govt. claims the right to keep your papers for 5 years even if you are no longer under suspicion of being a terrorist. Of course, the recently passed NDAA did away with the 5th (deprived of liberty without due process) and the 6th (right to a trial). I just hope we the people can retain the 3rd amendment (quartering of soldiers). I have a rather small apartment and I don't think it's big enough for 2 (and you know soldiers with their 30 minute showers 2-3 times a day. Oy, my water bill!).
Then couple all this with a new spy center in Bluffdale, Utah that has everyone under complete and total survailance and one can easily see that the only freedom one has here is to say and do things that the government finds pleasing.

9:56 AM  
Blogger Zosima said...

I’m hoping for war with Iran too, because what would follow would cause our empire to collapse much quicker, unfortunately I think we’ve seen the type of country that represents the strongest we are willing to risk attacking. Countries no stronger than the starved and gutted Iraq of 2003 or the semi-medieval Afghanistan of 2001, where our military has barely limped away with nothing close to victory.
What is really interesting is what’s happening at the Supreme Court. Like they did in 2000 when they threw the votes of 50 million Gore voters in the garbage, they are about to throw the votes of the 69 million Obama voters in the garbage by overturning health care. I love to watch people pretend they live in a democracy and then let five unelected people show them just how little democracy they are really allowed.

8:53 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Keep in mind, in the final phase of empire, bad is good.



10:58 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Here's another example (I love it):

11:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Zosima - I am not hoping for war against Iran because there WILL be all sorts of unpredictable and uncontrollable consequences.

Which is to say that it WILL be a world-wide disaster causing unimaginable murder, mayhem and suffering all over the world. It may even cause World War III.

Of course the current world "order" is also unspeakably dreadful for most people.

11:21 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

I wish Herman Cain was still running for President, but it’s good to see he’s still fighting against the heavy hand of government regulation on business. I’m sure he would agree with me that the burdensome government regulation that prevents us from using slave labor should be repealed immediately.

11:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So many people like U Mr Berman are dead, in exile (as U are), in prison or neutralized. Neutralized by Big Media or the economic system. They live either in poverty, on the slim margins or underemployment with hand to mouth with not much hand or mouth to feed, house or live.

1:13 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Dear Dr. Berman and friends,

There is a nice piece on the Occupy movement by Thomas Naylor on the Counterpunch site today. WAF is praised for pointing out that the US is unfixable.

7:52 AM  
Anonymous Julian said...

This is what hustling mothers typically do in the land of hustlers:

"Trayvon Martin's family tries to trademark the name of murdered son"

9:01 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I tell u, I've never felt more alive in my life since I became an 'exile'. This is the most vivid 'deadness' I can imagine anyone experiencing. But I take yr pt: I'm certainly marginalized by the media, and culturally off the radar screen.


Several yrs ago, in Flint MI, a 6-yr-old boy shot a schoolmate, a 4-yr-old girl named Kayla, in the chest. Two wks later the father of the boy was trying to market a book contract to literary agents.


10:20 AM  
Anonymous David M said...

Dr. Berman & DAAers
Rather than post about the deaths and destructions and the spiralling down of the empire I thought I might share something that helps pick me up. It's by Baudelaire called "Elevation"

Above the lake in the valley and the grove
along the hillside, high over the sea
and the passing clouds, and even past the sun!
to the farthest confines of the starry vault

mount, my spirit, and wander at your ease
and range exultant through transparent space
like a rugged swimmer revelling in the waves
with an unutterable male delight.

Ascend beyond the sickly atmosphere
to a higer plane, and purify yourself
by drinking as if ambrosia
the fire that fills and fuels Emptiness.

Free from the futile strivings and the cares
which dim existence to a realm of mist,
happy is he who wings an upward way on mighty pinions to the field of light;

Whose thoughts like larks spontaneously rise
into the morning sky; whose flight, unchecked,
outreaches life and readily comprehends
the language of flowers and of all mute things.

Of course reciting french poetry can get you introuble with the neighborhood republican, so lets call this freedom fries poetry.

11:54 AM  
Blogger PedroC. said...

“The renewal of American leadership can be felt across the globe. From the coalitions we’ve built to secure nuclear materials, to the missions we’ve led against hunger and disease; from the blows we’ve dealt to our enemies, to the enduring power of our moral example, America is back. Anyone who tells you otherwise, anyone who tells you that America is in decline or that our influence has waned, doesn’t know what they’re talking about.”

Obama via Justin Raimondo's column.


6:08 PM  
Anonymous Julian said...

I too am hoping that the empire would kindly complete its collapse in a speedy fashion already, so we can all get on with our lives. But after some reflection, I now think that to hope the American empire will collapse with the grace and savoir faire of the Soviet Union is perhaps too much to expect from a nation of ignorant brutes. I think the empire is likely to go on militarily. It is likely to survive even a war with Iran, maybe even one with China. And even when it will be flat on its back, exhausted, hallowed out, and fully defeated, before giving up the ghost, it is still unlikely to seek repentance. But such a process is likely to take a long time.

So let us hope that a non-military event might haste its demise. The only one that I can think of is a collapse of capitalism itself. At the moment I am a bit short on ideas as to how that might come about in a peaceful fashion, but one can try to envision a monetary collapse, say one caused by an unexpected, yet difficult-to-fix, jamming of the money printing presses down in the basement of the Fed or the Treasury, or wherever they print dollars these days. Perhaps the jamming of a very special Chinese-made ball bearing, one difficult to order from an enmity-filled China, and impossible to build from scratch in an uneducated and deindustrialized America.

Ah, the “audacity of hope”

6:39 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Doncha just love denial? What a sad, stupid man Mr. Obama is. But it is ignorance such as this that can only serve to hasten the decline, so perhaps we should just applaud. Right on, Mr. Obama! You tell 'em!

Yes, O&D.


8:00 PM  
Blogger J. P. CAZADOR said...

After spending almost a month in the U.S. visiting my parents I am back home in the Dominican Republic.

Words can't describe how good it feels to be out of that sick insane asylum. I'll have to go back in July, but only for two weeeks instead of four.

I could never live there full time again.

8:23 PM  
Anonymous Julian said...


I admit, 4 years ago I was suckered into voting for Obummer. Of course, I’ve learned my lesson. After that bitter experience, my initial reaction was to say to myself, “I’ll never vote again!” But on second thought, perhaps that’s precisely what the elites would have us do. So then, how should we use our votes to quicken the demise of the empire? Would you recommend that we should just vote straight down republican? Straight neo-con? Should we just look for the Mussolini candidate (a.k.a. “Sua Eccellenza Benito Mussolini, Capo del Governo, Duce del Fascismo e Fondatore dell Impero” – this needs to be read out loudly, while shaking a fist in the air).

How about if we volunteer our time to the Mussolini candidate's campaign? Perhaps even talk or threaten (just like Mussolini would) our friends and loved ones into voting that way?


9:11 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

"...the enduring power of our moral example". I suppose he's referring to the 155 prisoners at Gitmo who have already been exonerated but will stay there the rest of their lives; the fact every single E-mail, telephone call, credit card purchase and what books we are taking out of libraries are all being monitored; the fact we no longer have habeas corpus and that the entire constitution has been eviserated, and now just looking at someone the wrong way can get you killed and the killer walk free (stand your ground laws). Indeed, it's mourning in America.

11:58 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Well, one option is not to vote. Another is a write-in: you could put your mother down as your choice for pres, e.g. Or simply write, "Chopped Liver!"


4:41 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

A few more examples of our "moral example" should also include pissing on Afganis; burning their holy books; going on killing sprees launching drone strikes on wedding parties, funeral processions, and rescue workers.
Julian, don't feel so bad. In 2008 I made phone calls for Obama-Biden, wore an Obama t-shirt (became a good dish rag),went door to door the day before the election, and urged all my friends and relatives to vote for him. I suppose I should have been a more fervant reader of Chomsky, Zinn, Blum, Chalmers Johnson and, of course, Dr. Berman to realize that you do not get within a 1000 miles of the presidency unless you first pay fealty to the national security state. I personally will sit this election out. That would seem to be the more moral choice. Otherwise, you are just endursing war and the continued influence of the corporate superstructure over our lives.

8:22 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

The last time I felt really good about this country (It ain't mine) was when Jimma' cancelled "Hail to the God damned Chief". I have not voted for the longest; so long, I can't even remember.

Piss on this place.

Cannot remember much these days so learning Spanish is really tough. I may make it though. Maybe immersion is the best way and I shud just leave for somewhere, with my Cortina Language Course in tow?

8:25 AM  
Blogger J. P. CAZADOR said...

@ Shep

If you can make the move, do it. I only go back to the U.S. to visit my elderly parents and see how they're doing.
When you are away from America for a long time you can see with even more clarity what a sick place it is. If you have the ability to get out of there, don't pass it up. Once you aclimate yourself to a country with a real culture you'll wish you'd have left sooner.

8:08 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

So we’re “Looking for the Mussolini candidate”, worried about “the fact we no longer have habeas corpus and that the entire constitution has been eviscerated” and wondering who to write in for President this time? I think current events have pointed us towards us the answer to this perplexing situation.

“You really want us to go through these 2,700 pages? (Laughter.) And do you really expect the court to do that?” Antonin Scalia made this comment.
So here we have an unelected judge who thinks that a bill passed by a Congress with a huge majority and signed by a President that won by nearly ten million votes is not even worthy of being read. Scalia’s attitude of complete disregard for democracy would certainly make Mussolini proud, and serves as a great lesson on the undemocratic nature our system.
However flawed the bill might be, there are people who stand to lose their health care if all of its provisions are overturned, some people might even die. It is a near certainty that none of those people were in the courtroom to hear these privileged people laugh at their possible fate.
Also, you can bet that a court like this would never in a million years consider overturning those laws that destroyed our right to habeas corpus and our other civil liberties. To a thug like Scalia, only those laws that might give some poor slob some health care are in violation of the constitution.
So, I’m going to write in Scalia for President, why not, since he already has veto power over our elected President?

10:22 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

It's Obama's own damn fault. If he had just designed a plan expanding Medicare for all and market it that way it would have had near universal support and none of this ensuing controversy would have happened. Of course Obama didn't want to cut out the insurance companies (and their campaign contributions) so now we are faced, according to an article by Steven Rosenfeld in Alternet today, that not only is the Supreme Court poised to declare Obamacare unconstitutional but may even go further and strike down any expansion of Medicaid which covers 70 million low income people, 1 in 3 children and assists in long-term care. As a result, the SC could enshrine"a private sector monopoly on future health care delivery." So the Right will get its long sought for wish: health care for only those who can afford it and the hell with anyone who can't. But hey, this fits quite well with the great myth, as Dr.Berman, consistantly points out, of rugged individualism. This is how the Right will celebrate their victory no doubt and the very idea that we live in a society where people have some responsibility for each other's welfare will soon be considered un-American if not treasonous.

10:25 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

George Galloway.

Just re-elected?

Excoriating Hillary Clinton!

If just one politician like this wd come to America, we cd all have some fun before the end.


3:04 PM  
Anonymous TonyU said...

"It's Obama's own damn fault"

I agree with you 100%. Obama is a complete failure to me. He had the goodwill of the majority of Americans, but he squandered it. I voted for him. My entire family voted for him, donated huge sums of money to him, and volunteered countless number of hours to him. He had the opportunity to either use the medicare program or the public option to give us a robust healthcare insurance, but he chose to squander the opportunity. More than 75% of Americans (including democrats, republicans, and independents) wanted a publicly-funded health insurance:

However, Obama did not care about the desire of the majority of Americans who voted him into office. We did not get anything from a Congress and a Whitehouse controlled by democrats.

The cacophonous talk that Americans are not smart enough to practice democracy is insane:

The majority of Americans desired a good healthcare insurance program, but we did not get it and we will never get it because the people in various levels of the government think they know what is good for us. Yet, they enjoy the same thing for themselves and for their families. The government is good for them, but bad for us.

If the American people are not smart enough to understand democracy and what they want from their government, then the American government (which has killed millions around the world in attempts to impose democracy) should begin to impose democracy at home here in USA. In other words, the American military should invade America to impose democracy in America. Or, Russia, France, UK, Japan, and Australia should combine to invade America to impose their kind of democracy on Americans.

4:36 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Frankly, all the data we have on Americans suggest that they aren't smart enuf to practice anything. Stats on ignorance and stupidity are by now mind-boggling. Plus, the thing abt polls re: health care is that it depends on how the question is phrased. Ones that ask, "Are you in favor of the government providing health care?" get a Yes; but if the next question is, "Would you be willing to pay for such a program?", the answer tends to be No. And if the question is, "Are you in favor of socialized medicine?", the answer is definitely No.

As far as the Pentagon invading America, in a certain way it already has (the detention camp in Marion, Illinois, e.g.); but this strikes me as being far too mild. Even the NSA system of total surveillance is far too mild. What we need is for the Army to occupy every city of more than 50,000 people, with tanks on every streetcorner. Perhaps even bomb a few cities, just to make sure everyone knows who's in charge. This obvious failure on the part of the gov't to take matters in hand is disturbing, don't you think? I can't understand why the Pentagon is pulling its punches. What, exactly, are they waiting for?


4:57 PM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

I can't understand why the Pentagon is pulling its punches. What, exactly, are they waiting for?

Maybe they're waiting for the State Department to finalize the conditions of Bashar al-Assad's exit from Syria and installation in an appropriate US city...demographics point to Detroit, but The Artful Basher doesn't like cold weather, so he's pushing back with proposals for Tampa, Tuscon, or Tuscaloosa.

5:23 PM  
Anonymous Nate said...


"Are you in favor of socialized medicine?" --Never mind the full-blown commie socialized medicine available to our vets!

Off topic, but I wonder if anyone else has noticed the new trend of people playing loud music in public (boom-box style) instead of wearing headphones? I haven't been able to figure out if the sound is coming out of people's phones or some other handheld gadget, but I am starting to see (and hear) this absolutely everywhere.

My only explanation is that people must now be so isolated and socially retarded by the American experience that they must bring their music along (while walking down the sidewalk or changing at the gym) in order to express themselves comfortably.

I really, really need to get the hell out of this Kafka story of a country.


7:18 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Nice alliteration. I guess u like cities that begin with T. No reason the Pentagon shd not vigorously nuke them, I'm thinking.


7:24 PM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

Alliteration - just one of many perils of having been an English major.

I just started with Tampa and remembered a couple more warm-weather ones.

But seriously, folks...if Assad decamps from Syria, look for a spike in US aid funds to his new home. And for extra credit, see if you can track any *frozen* funds in the US and elsewhere that seem to thaw and then evaporate. Abracadabra...where could they have gone to ?

11:03 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

In bringing up the undemocratic nature of the Supreme Court, I'm pointing to the fact that our political system has a number of features (Senate, Electoral College, etc.) that make it nearly impossible for the people to exercise power effectively. Our system makes it almost certain that people like Scalia, Blankfein, Limbaugh and other rich people will be able to thwart the will of any majority no matter how intelligent people are. The political system does matter, rich people in Denmark have less ability to thwart the will of the people because they live under a political system that makes it more difficult. Our hustling culture may have come first, but it was brilliantly reinforced when the founders created a political system with so many undemocratic features enabling rich people like themselves to rule without serious challenge.
This powerlessness is evident in the Occupy movement where the left is reduced to sleeping in a tents in the cold rain to express its political will, using the desperate tactics of people in countries with no democratic traditions. It’s another example of the pitiful futility of an alternative tradition that continues to insist on working within a rigged political system. I say, let’s have the honesty to say that it needs to be scrapped, at least this would clear the air and allow people to proceed without illusions. Like MB, I hold little hope for this happening, and believe that emigration is the best choice we have, at this point. But, I do think we need to keep in mind that our political system is a salient reason for America’s failure to slow down or reverse hustling culture.
There’s lots of good stuff on the undemocratic nature of the US constitution. I like, The Frozen Republic: How the Constitution Is Paralyzing Democracy by Daniel Lazare. Lewis Lapham wrote a review of it called Sacred Scroll in his book Waiting For The Barbarians.

3:13 AM  
Anonymous TonyU said...

@ Zosima

“The Frozen Republic: How the Constitution Is Paralyzing Democracy by Daniel Lazare. Lewis Lapham wrote a review of it called Sacred Scroll in his book Waiting For The Barbarians.”

Thanks for the information! This is why I visit here.

One thing caught my attention from Lazare’s book: The US Constitution is venerated like the Holy Bible, and trying to change the US Constitution is like trying to change the word of God in the Bible. Those who wrote the US Constitution are regarded as infallible in similar manner the American Talibans regard God as infallible.

As a result, the defenders of the static nature of the US Constitution say that the American system of government is the best ever, because the country has done very well economically and that a lot of people want to come here to live. America is therein regarded as God’s paradise, not to be tampered with or criticized.

Well, so far, America has done well in her economy because other nations were systematically destabilized and pillaged by the American government through coup d’etat, wars, economic sabotage, and imposition of self-serving economic policies. It is like this: America looked better in comparison to any other nation because Americans systematically held everyone else down through wickedness and greed (compare to the self-serving, blood-thirsty God of the book of Joshua in the Bible):

Mexico's corn farmers see their livelihoods wither away
Cheap U.S. produce pushes down prices under free-trade pact

Food imports hurt struggling Haitian farmers

In Honduras, a Mess Made in the U.S.

America eventually became at home what she practiced abroad. Greed, wickedness, bellicosity, and pillaging as a way of life have come home to roost. Americans are now discovering that the universe is governed by laws not discoverable in the American Constitution.

Karma is real!

11:14 AM  
Anonymous Ray said...

Alliterating "T" cities...

Ty's Topic.....

Tyrants terrifying Toronto - thus temporarily trying to trample Trenton - though this trope tricks Terrytown thoroughly, thanks to Tsingtao's thoughtful trinkets that trap testy Tampans timing their takeoff to Trincomalee

2:04 PM  
Anonymous Vince said...


May I recommend Sheldon Wolin's "Democracy Incorporated" as well. SW also argues that our system of government was intentionally designed to prevent the governed to have any real direct impact on how they are governed. He points to the fact that the Senate always seems to be populated by rich, and predominantly white legislators.

I decided to read DI after reading Chris Hedges book "Empire of Illusion" and listening to him speak and extensively mentioning something called "inverted totalitarianism".

Inverted totalitarianism does not rely on a charismatic leader; quite the contrary. It relies on the anonymity of the corporate state. Anything that can cause a person to fall out of favor in such a system can be financially, intellectually, and politically exiled. Self-censorship has become the new form of control if one wishes to have any chance to succeed in our system of hustling.

The Zeitgeist film series talks about the mechanisms in place to keep our system (dis)functioning. The people who maintain "manage" or so-called democracy and the corporate welfare capitalist system are referred to as self-appointed guardians of the status quo.


4:45 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...


Thanks, I enjoyed hearing George Galloway’s true and applicable comments on Hillary. It makes me sick when I hear Americans say they oppose our colonial wars because they are too expensive and bad for America. There is no point in trying to remind them that the people we are killing, maiming, poisoning, orphaning, and widowing are real human beings, because most Americans don’t seem to believe that they really are human beings.

There is an interesting political history of George Galloway in today’s Independent, . It’s called “George Galloway: The political rebel with a cause”.

It contains a quote from Christopher Hitchens who says, “He (Galloway) looks so much like what he is: a thug and a demagogue.” I would say that for Hitchens to call anyone “a thug and a demagogue” is projection pure and simple.

David Rosen

4:51 PM  
Anonymous Julian said...

Regarding the American people not being smart enough to practice democracy, let me share my own experience as an instructor at several so-called “universities” in the U.S. In the philosophy, sociology, and psychology courses I have taught many times over the past several years, I would have to say that at least 95 percent of my students exhibit deep commitment to one or more of these ideas:

1. The Earth is only a few thousand years old, and Adam and Eve were riding around on dinosaurs

2. Separation of church and state is very bad for the country and needs to be done away with, because “this country was founded on Christian principles” (I guess they must be confusing hustling with praying)

3. Some students who propose #2 above, also suggest that we should not test new pharmaceuticals on animals because they are God’s creation too, but instead we should test them on prison inmates

4. Religion is good, science is bad. My favorite here: “the theory of evolution is just a theory.” (Never mind that in science the word “theory” refers to a solid explanation that has to be based on very solid evidence and also needs not to contradict the rest of science.)

5. The same students supporting #4 above also believe that we must immediately stop teaching evolution in biology classes, and replace it with Intelligent Design. (Yes, I’m talking about THAT “Intelligent design”—the concept which all school systems in Europe rejected on the basis that it is “scientific fraud” and the Catholic Church labeled as “poor science and poor theology.”)

And I could go on. But the obvious question is: Do we really want these people teaching democracy to the Middle East?

5:18 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Check out "Idiot America," by Charles Pierce.


Tampons? Really?


If u live by the dollar, u die by the dollar. (Karma)


7:10 PM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

I think Ray said Tampans...residents of Tampa...
If they went fishing in Macau they'd be Tampans on sampans...

9:46 PM  
Anonymous shep said...


Gorgeous George came to America and made a fool out of Abnorman Coleman.

He has a web site and a call-in show that records calls from people all over the world and beats the crap out of them every time, esp. when they call from America and try to take him on.

I was surprised about the comment in the Independent about him supporting the Syrian killer. He takes a lot of flak from the Imperials.

Actually the best I've heard was when one of Ronnie Stupid's sons, I think, Michael, had him on his show and he destroyed every point that Reagan made. It lasted for a while and it was so delicious.

O&D (Fast Please)

10:16 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

Just blaming things on the ignorance of the American people is too easy. As if democracy is only possible in a nation of highly educated philosophers. Just how up on Darwin and science are the people of Bolivia or Costa Rica and lots or other places that have just recently created more democratic constitutions and forms of government? Are the works of Voltaire dangling from the coca trees? The desire not to be exploited and to fight for fairness predates formal education, Darwin and modern science. The answer must lie elsewhere.

10:21 PM  
Anonymous TonyU said...

May America implode or be destroyed by an unknown force.
That’s all I have to say concerning the death of the mother in the following article!

Hospital: Mom booted from ER who died in jail was treated appropriately

A New Year's Eve tornado in 2010 destroyed Brown's home in north St. Louis home, the Post-Dispatch reported. She and her two children moved to Berkeley, a St. Louis suburb, and she lost her job at a sandwich shop soon afterward, the Post-Dispatch said.

According to the Post-Dispatch, her utilities were shut off because she stopped paying her bills, and after a child welfare agent who visited the home in April found a feces-filled toilet, burn marks on the floor where she had lit fires to keep warm and other distressing signs, Brown was arrested for parental neglect. Police reported at the time that she seemed confused, the newspaper reported.

Her mother, Dorothy Davis, received custody of Brown's children on the condition that Brown couldn't also live with them, and Brown's home was condemned, the newspaper reported. She lived in four homeless shelters from May until September, according to the Post-Dispatch.

[She] sought treatment for a sprained ankle and died in police custody after being arrested for refusing to leave the emergency room.

An autopsy determined that Anna Brown's death in a jail cell in September was caused by blood clots that formed in her legs and migrated to her lungs

11:55 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

"All [Americans] are constantly seeking to acquire property, power, and reputation, but few contemplate these things on a grand scale."

--Alexis de Tocqueville

2:24 AM  
Blogger Zosima said...

"All [Americans] are constantly seeking to acquire property, power, and reputation, but few contemplate these things on a grand scale."
--Alexis de Tocqueville

Tocqueville was a wealthy aristocrat, which means he probably didn’t stray too far from a good meal when he conducted his survey of “all” Americans. But, assuming he did talk to mill workers, too, and even they agreed that Americans will remain rugged individualists forever, and won’t mind watching their child die for lack of health care. How do you explain the fact that the guy who said health care was a right got ten million votes more than the guy who said it wasn’t? We live under a system that says five guys on court a get to decide if health care is a right, not the people. Five rugged individualists with government provided health care btw. I agree hustling culture is there, but it helps greatly to have an undemocratic political system there to deny alternatives, and tell certain people their votes don’t matter. it’s a big reason why America has failed.,_2008

Q: Is health care in America a privilege, a right, or a responsibility?
McCAIN: I think it’s a responsibility, in this respect, in that we should have available and affordable health care to every American citizen, to every family member. And with the plan that I have, that will do that. But government mandates I’m always a little nervous about. But it is certainly my responsibility. It is certainly small-business people and others, and they understand that responsibility. American citizens understand that. Employers understand that.
OBAMA: Well, I think it should be a right for every American. In a country as wealthy as ours, for us to have people who are going bankrupt because they can’t pay their medical bills--for my mother to die of cancer at the age of 53 and have to spend the last months of her life in the hospital room arguing with insurance companies--there’s something fundamentally wrong about that.
Source: 2008 second presidential debate against Barack Obama Oct 7, 2008

4:11 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Tocqueville talked to pioneers in shacks in the Midwest, among others, so I don't think his personal background is all that important here. What he noticed was an individual concern to make it in America, not a concern abt the nature of America at large. This remains true today, and it has been our story for 400 years.

As far as McCain vs. Obama went, I very much doubt that health care was the crucial issue for American voters. There were lots of issues involved, not the least of which the fact that McCain was tied to a discredited war and Bush admin/ideology. Obama was smart to keep hammering at that pt: "American can not afford 4 more yrs of Geo Bush," he said over and over again. His main focus on the campaign trail was hardly socialized medicine.


11:13 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

Local TV news programs around here interrupted their regular broadcasts the other night with urgent "Breaking News!!!" banners to announce that there were several winners of the Mega Millions lottery. During the week leading up to the lottery drawing, that was the lead story for many if not most TV news programs, in fact. Just givin' the people what they want ...

I've just started reading The High Price of Materialism (2002) by Tim Kasser, which I picked up at a library book sale. In brief, it boils down a decade of empirical research to show (from the introduction) "that merely aspiring to have greater wealth or more material possessions is likely to be associated with increased personal unhappiness. He documents that people with strong materialistic values and desires report more symptoms of anxiety, are at greater risk for depression, and experience more frequent somatic irritations than those who are less materialistic. They watch more television, use more alcohol and drugs, and have more impoverished personal relationships. Even in sleep, their dreams seem to be infected with anxiety and distress. Thus, insofar as people have adopted the 'American dream' of stuffing their pockets, they seem to that extent to be emptier of self and soul."

The Joneses, anyone?

It's a peculiar sort of stupidity, because a fair number of people know they're living self-destructive lives with self-destructive values. They're like the overeaters who say, "Yeah, I know it'll kill me, but it tastes so good!" They wind up feeling sick after every meal, but go on doing the same thing anyway. The prospect of changing their lives for the better, for wising up, is just too much to face, apparently. I think in many cases, this stupidity a very conscious choice.

2:07 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

"It seems as if virtually everyone in America dreams of starting a business. We're a nation of entrepreneurs."

--Rom Mittney, "No Apology"

3:25 PM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

Take a musical break from the rat race with Little Feat's version of The Joneses

3:30 PM  
Blogger ToiLET ApPLe said...

hi, just finished reading the first chapter (had to wait a while to receive the book in Canada). I really like the last line of that chapter, I agree totally, people just don't want to see the truth. I always wondered why some many Americans reject the idea of global warming and so on. I guess its a pointless enterprise, you can't teach a fool not to be what he is.

4:14 PM  
Anonymous Ray said...

infanttyrone said...
"I think Ray said Tampans...residents of Tampa...
If they went fishing in Macau they'd be Tampans on sampans..."

Hey, thanks for speaking up for me Ty……since Morris insists on misreading my doggerel in the worst’s the only response possible..

Deer Morris mon cher:

Fishing with your tampon from Ty's sampan,

One is neither Macauan, or Tampan, but a Taipan,

Though If a cow on Saipan goes moo, while he wallows in goo,

You guessed it, here’s some inevitable island beef moo goo gai pan.

……Anybody else with tired old orientalist clichés we can eviscerate here?

Love all your impassioned posts re: Onward and Downward, but for now I'll just focus on some light relief for the Electronic Spooks from Unnamed Security Entities taking down our every word...hi guys..!


4:35 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

There are some very powerful people out there who make it their business to keep Americans from getting the facts, it’s so important to them that they didn’t even care that Fox News operated at a loss for many years. The oil companies have recently spent a lot of time and money bombarding the American people with lies about global warming. The number of people who believe in human caused climate change has dropped significantly since this campaign started. They did this for the same reason corporations spend billions of dollars on advertising, because it works. Needless to say, there was no comparable campaign to counter the misinformation. If they thought Canada was as important as the US they would have done it there too, and you would be complaining about how foolish Canadians are. Powerful interests work very hard and spend enormous sums to get Americans to think the way they want them to think, and when they are not opposed, they succeed.

7:36 PM  
Blogger Alan MacDonald said...

Prof. Berman, per the Herman Cain ad for skeet shooting bunnies, I agree with your observation that at the end of Empire "bad is good".

Best luck and love to Occupy Empire.

Liberty, democracy, justice, & equality

Alan MacDonald
Sanford, Maine

Signage and chant:
"What do we aspire?
to Occupy the Empire!"

8:21 PM  
Anonymous TonyU said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:41 PM  
Anonymous TonyU said...

The land of demonic “Christians” and Jesus lovers! Do you think they will treat a billionaire from Europe like this??

Lopez, a Mexican national said he has been barred from entering the United States to bury his 10-year-old son, a U.S. citizen who died Tuesday in a house fire in northeastern Pennsylvania that killed three other people.

"I told the customs officer that all I want is a permit to see my boy for one last time. They treat me as if I am a criminal," Lopez, 34, a bus driver, said in an interview Saturday. "Right now, I need their support, and they are refusing to help me."

Lopez was a teenager when he entered the United States illegally in 1995 and wound up in Shenandoah, a blue-collar town with a large Hispanic population. He married a U.S. citizen who gave birth to Damien in 2002. He later divorced Damien's mother and married his current wife, Danielle Lopez, who's also a U.S. citizen.

In 2007, police in nearby Frackville stopped Lopez for running a red light and turned him over to immigration authorities. He agreed to leave the U.S. voluntarily and began the process of applying for legal permanent residence.

8:59 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I deleted yr other comment because I don't like to have too much text from any one person on any one day; clogs the air waves, and I like to encourage as many people as possible to participate. But re-send it in a couple of days, and I'll post it. Thank u for yr understanding.


9:35 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


7:26 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Descent into madness dept.:


10:58 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

And another example of the authoritarian flight from reality:

The latest iteration of Lysenkoism to go along with the gulag.

11:28 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

So there I am with my girlfriend eating at a Chinese buffet and suddenly a fight breaks out, food and chairs flying and someone even pulls out a taser. The police arrive before the fighters leave and everyone's in complete shock. Nice way to spend a Sunday dinner.
With that as a backdrop, I'd like to comment on an article in this month's Foreign Affairs called "Good Night Baghdad" by Ned Parker who excuriates Iraq for not getting its political house in order.He writes:"The Iraq state cannot provide basic services, including regular electicity in summer, clean water,and decent health care; meanwhile, unemployment among young men hovers close to 30%...". Is this man insane? The US invasion and previous sanctions helped destoy their electrical grids, destroyed their water treatment facilities, destroyed their entire social services infrastructure, killed roughly a million people, created 4 million refugees, and women in Falluja are advised not to have children for fear of birth defects. Later he writes:" Iraqs leaders need to know that the international community has "redlines," and that secret prisons,the use of torture to extract confessions,and the harassment of democracy activists will not be tolerated." Did he not hear of Abu Grahad and by the way, how about the harassment of OWS here in the US? Finally, he adds: " The US...must not countenance any democratic backsliding [in Iraq]. Oh you mean like our losing 4th, 5th,and 6th amendment protections? Really, are the political elites in the US that so willfully blind that they can't see what they write and think is totally risable?

12:03 PM  
Anonymous TonyU said...

Dr B
Thanks for the info!

“And by the time they finish, the nation will be a gulag. … it will plunge us into despotism, leaving us without a voice, trapped in eddies of fear and terror, … to push us out of our jobs or send us to jail.” - Chris Hedges

I came to USA more than 35 years ago, long before “terrorists” and “terrorism” were concocted, as a bludgeon, to create fear and trembling in the minds of wimps. I can go back to my native country in a heartbeat – whenever I want, whenever I need to. I have nothing to fear because I do not depend on anybody’s jobs or crumbs for my existence. If an honest accounting is done, America owes more to my people than my people owe to America, and indisputable facts are in the public domain to prove this! Publish or delete!

12:04 PM  
Anonymous Sanctuary! said...

"everyone in America dreams of starting a business. We're a nation of entrepreneurs"

No wonder the country is inundated with advertising.

Most businesses fail, but don't count on anyone to advertise that lil factoid. (Least of all Mitt Rantorum or Nuke Omni.)

2:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great Hedges recommendation today, one of the user comments said something to the effect of how with information like this, Hedges is going to scare away more would be activists than will be gained. Ties well to the, irreversible historical development , in DAA.

It feels as if we are moving away from a fascist government that goes after the poor and minorities and is turning into a Stalinist government that goes after everyone. Do you think we will see the government going after its own employees anytime soon? We already do see that with whistle blowers and if the Salem Witch trials and McCarthyism is any type of guide I’m guessing we will see a lot more of it.

I’m pretty much sold on emigration now, I’m wondering what you or anyone on this blog think about moving to the P.I.I.G.S. countries, Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, and Spain. What do you think their long term stability looks like?

Mike O'

2:20 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Yes, insane, but so are his 311 million fellow countrymen, who wd probably agree w/his "assessment". HRIR!--never forget it.

Meanwhile, here's a new bk that looks gd: David Unger, "The Emergency State."


5:18 PM  
Anonymous Julian said...


I hear ya, my friend. I immigrated to the U.S. 30 years ago, when my country of birth was a Stalinist dictatorship. But things changed meanwhile, with my native land becoming a free democracy, and America becoming what Dr. Berman describes in his books. So 5 years ago I couldn’t take it anymore, and moved back to my country. Never felt happier. But I am warning you about something: if you have been acculturated into the American culture (as is expected to have been after 35 years) and were educated in America, when you go back to your country give it a few years to get fully readjusted. It does take time to unplug from one culture and plug yourself into another one. Unless, of course, you kept going back and forth all these years, in which case it wouldn’t be a big deal. I’m speaking from experience.

Mike O’,

I like Greece because it is traditionalist, has nice weather, it’s laid back, and has a great lifestyle. Right now Greece is also very cheap. However, you can get all that, plus English as second language, better infrastructure, and a more stable economy if you just go to the Greek side of Cyprus. In Europe, France and Scandinavia are also worth looking into. But whatever you do, avoid the UK -- I lived there for a while, and that dump sucks worse than America.

Just my opinions, for what they're worth.


8:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello all, (Here's an update on educational "reform")
As you must know, teachers are being blamed for everything and our tenure and seniority rights are being quickly eliminated. The new trick sent to us by Obama and Duncan is called "value added" evaluations. This means that teachers will be evaluated on how well their students do on standardized tests. In the rest of the world "students" are evaluated for how they do on tests, but not here in the good ole USA. For foreign language teachers, like myself, who don't have any standardized tests we will be graded based on the schools overall reading scores. This sounds fair doesn't it? Then when the scores drop twice in seven years, I can lose my job. No excuses...If the school fails they can fire the entire staff and open up a corporate-run charter school instead. Isn't that a neat trick. Those teachers will make very low wages and can be fired at any time. Also constant turnover will take care of those pesky pensions no one likes. It's madness. Chris Hedges, and Diane Ravitch are about the only friends teachers have left. Just check up what is happening in NYC (of all places). We are up against Bill Gates, Arne Duncan, Obama, etc. Nice, isn't it? You gotta love corporate reform. Over 100 college professors from almost all the Illinois colleges and universities sent a letter to Immanuel saying what madness this is, and no Illinois paper dared publish it. Isn't that fitting? Bill Gates is really into the Khan Academy. He thinks 150 to 200 students could watch lessons on screens with no teachers needed, just "supervisors" or guards who would encourage the students to stare at the screens. Now that is educational leadership...He is pouring millions into the Khan academy. It is very cost effective, you know. Google this if you don't believe me. Soon no teachers, just guards.
John in Chicagoland

10:38 PM  
Blogger ijcd said...

We live in a psychopathic society, not a shocker for anyone here:

And a very good read here:

11:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, the pointer to led me to another interesting story. It seems the corruption and corporatism isn't completely unopposed yet. There might be some legal troubles for the Koch brothers.

The Kochs’ very bad week
From a damning documentary to a federal investigation, the arch-conservative brothers find themselves in hot water

11:06 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

Paul Craig Roberts, for me, is somewhat of a mole. I love 90% of his essays but...

He is a Ray-gun man all the way and a Free Market Chicago School Milton Friedman worshipper. He seems to have liberally changed some over the years but he refuses to give up the hustler ideals of the so-called Free Market. He thinks Ayn Rand hung the moon.

He even goes so far as to "shockingly" say that the Chile affair with Pinochet was all a pack of left wing liberal lies. He has no use for Naomi Klein's book, "The Shock Doctrine".

I just do not know about him -- although the, Glen Ford, Obama rant is absolutely accurate as fas as I'm concerned, but it seems to serve his purpose, getting rid of Obama, but for entirely different purposes. He will still vote for the toad crazies on the Republican side. If he isn't a mole, then, he must be a schizo.

Obviously, I well may be wrong.

2:09 PM  
Anonymous David M said...

Dr. Berman & DAAers
Just a couple of comments about the threads running through the site.

About immigration: I wish anyone who leaves the best of luck. My wife and I are stuck because of the financial collapse. We like so many others are being sacrificed to the great god of Capital. Like the children of hinnon who were sacrificed to Baal, this is our Gehenna.

About the homeless: I read an article a few years ago by a librarian who did some research on the subject. It seems that it is librarians who actully take care of the homeless in cities across the country because they tend to hang out there. Now whether it is accurate today or not I'am not sure. He found that about 90% of homeless people were transitional and usually found a home in 6 months or less if provided assistances. The other 10% were typically suffering from emotional, or mental disorders or physically handicapped. His research showed that if a home was provided through tax revenue that it would be cheaper than calling the police and hauling them off to jail. (It would also be more humane heaven forbid) This includes transitional and permanent.
Bytheway: The official nom de plume(If I may use this in this context) of the homeless in Saint Petersburgh Fl is (Drumroll please) URBAN CAMPERS and camping is not allowed in the city.

2:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr. Berman,

Brilliant analysis and I think your points have validation in Howard Zinn's People's History of the US which captures the core of this trajectory about our nation's history being rancid from the very start of the colonial discovery of the Americas. This is a continent steeped in brutal exploitation and genocide to benefit a few.

I have a question about Europe - do you believe they may be heading in the same direction as the US? Already the consumption of US big tent spectacle films which celebrate this ethos of huckterism, bloodthirst, greed and myth of exceptionalism are the largest box office draws there, eschewing the works of their own arthouse masters. Europeans adore coming here too, they are fascinated by the culture that often repels them. Living in Los Angeles - I am amazed at all of the transplanted Europeans who bash the US but yet can't seem to leave! Do they want to be hucksters? Are the Europeans we are receiving purely motivated by greed and see the US as a place to fulfill this vision? If anything every European country has been besieged by US neo-liberal economic doctrine. In my parent's country - Greece - the political class is in total contradiction to the people who are continuously screwed - yet I have Greek friends who tell me that the people there are stupid too and deserve the government they get or keep voting for. And in Italy - the entire younger generation is seeped in Infotainment and is quite dimwitted.

So, I am wondering if this is a world problem due to the failures of the people's revolution - the communist hypothesis in the last century which promised this egalitarian world based on superfluous abundance which was created by capitalist development yet fell into a rigid totalitarian structure.

Quite possibly after the failures of this project the world has reverted to a stark fragemented nihilism. NO FUTURE screamed Johnny Rotten and the outcome has been mass conspiracy theories and ultimate free makret huckster Ron Paul as the only radical option.

Yet, Do you see a potential workers revolt emerging toward a new existing International socialism or is this world stupidity going to grow and infect everyone else since the US has its hands on almost every country and its political class?

I asked an Old Greek Man why we came to America - and he told me -


I used to laugh at him but now take this seriously.

3:39 PM  
Anonymous Nate said...

TonyU- I can remember when Sec. Clinton & Obama took to the airwaves to "condemn" the ouster of Zelaya. I don't LOL much during the news, but I certainly did that day (I'm sure Zelaya was holding his breath for the US Marines to come and return him to power!)

Julian- It's probably not a coincidence that you came to the US during the Reagan era and had loads of undereducated freshmen showing up to your classroom. What should be a national shame winds up being "running the government like a business."

I'm in my mid 30s and a public school survivor. Trust me, the house of horrors that was my education haunts me every single day. Hopefully some of your kids left your class better than when they came in.

5:42 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Once again, I have to ask the Anons to give themselves a real handle. We have too many Anons, and it's confusing.

Keep in mind that it was Reagan who said that trees cause pollution, and that homeless people are homeless because they want to be. I wonder if he was demented because he found it a desirable state.

As for Europe: as it gets more Americanized, it will get more stupid. What other outcome is possible, with those countries overcome by cell phones and screens and full-blown consumerism? Check out Victoria De Grazia, "Irresistible Empire". But, for counterpoint, Steven Hill, "Europe's Promise".


6:51 PM  
Anonymous Julian said...

David M,

You live in St. Pete? I used to live there too. My parents are still there (and in serious denial about America’s future, despite having lost most of what they worked for their entire lives). Check this out:

I was curious, is this sadness truly palpable around there now? I’m asking because I am hoping that if things get really bad, my family too will decide to leave. I'm hoping for a triple dip, you know.


I’m surprised I haven’t been fired yet, considering I often bring into conversation topics such as corruption in government and business, foreclosures, pointless wars, etc. What I noticed is that a good percentage of students who say they took a major financial hit in recent years are open to speaking about these topics once I bring them up. I get good evals from them, so I guess they like it.

11:16 PM  
Anonymous satyaSarika said...

hehe like that idea of the happily demented Ronnie
Amy @ democracy now showed a sic rantorum ad likening rom to oilybomber. most likely all true. mean as a snake rom vs trigger happy oily cretin.
I feel sorry for people in slc. The widely published 'secret' site in utah will certainly become a focus point for enmity ...

2:40 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

John in Chicago,
As a veteran public school teacher let me give you a piece of advise-get out of the profession. Through various insane policies and insane people like Michelle Ree, Duncan, Obama, Rhambomb I am thoroughly convinced that there is a concerted effort to dismantle the public school system and hand it over to the hedge funds. I mean how else to explain No Child Left Behind which is a form of psychological torture for all those involved? And it's even more insidious. I noticed that teacher fronted instruction, not group work, is now in vogue. Why, since all data indicates that pair/group work is so much more effective not only educationally but, more importantly, socially. My guess is that the elites do not want students helping each other. They prefer a country where everyone is atomized, fending for themselves in a vicious dog eat dog capitalist environment (notice that I did not say "society" since that would imply some form of socially responsible behaviour and kinship).
I had a rather heated argument with the president of our union who recently endorsed Obama. When I told him that Obama applauded the firing of the 93 teachers in East Falls, Rhode Island he countered that Obama is still better than the Repubs. I'm still waiting to see how.

9:17 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Dick Gregory once said: "If we're always voting for the lesser of two evils, how come things are getting worse?"


10:38 AM  
Anonymous Nate said...

MB- The absurdity of trees causing pollution reminds me of the VA State Dept of Transportation's official name for them: "Fixed and Hazardous Objects"!!!

Julian- For many kids college is their first real exposure to different ideas and different people. I grew up with the Adam & Eve riding dinosaurs crowd (among them, but never one of them --thanks mom and dad!) and many of them ditch that nonsense in college when profs (like you) talk sense to them. Of course, it's not nearly enough to stem the tide.

12:34 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...


In the Teaching Company’s course, “Emerson, Thoreau, and the Transcendentalist Movement”, Professor Ashton Nichols, of Dickinson College talks about Amos Bronson Alcott (the educational reformer and father of Louisa May) and says the following:

“He set off from his home in Connecticut, to the American South as a teenager, and at one stage literally became a wandering peddler. He later said that the style and the elegance of the aristocratic southern families had inspired at least some of his values for the rest of his life. In fact he was one of the very few transcendentalists with direct connections to life in the antebellum South in America.”

Lest anyone get the idea that Alcott was ‘soft on slavery’, Nichols also says:

“Alcott, like Thoreau, helped fugitive slaves on the Underground Railroad, and he also supported John Brown.”


“Alcott was arrested for not paying his taxes in 1843, in protest against slavery, and against northern acceptance of economic exchange with slave states.”

What finally did in his famous ‘Temple School’ was his admission of an African American student. That was too much even for ‘anti-slavery’ New Englanders. Remember the Phil Ochs song “Love Me I’m a Liberal” with the lines “I love Puerto Ricans and Negroes, as long as they don’t move next door.”

In one of her autobiographical writings, Louisa May Alcott says that a fugitive slave had been harbored in her house when she was young.

So we see find somebody who, like Dr. Berman in WAF, had a more nuanced view of the antebellum South than most Americans today seem capable of.

David Rosen

1:58 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Thanks for that terrific story. I had never heard of Amos Alcott.


2:12 PM  
Anonymous A Natural Mystic said...

TODAY'S latest development in Cranial Rectitis:

"Google unveils Project Glass augmented reality eyewear:

Google has revealed details of its research into augmented reality glasses.

It posted a brief introduction to Project Glass, photos and a concept video at its Google+ social network.

The images show a minimalist design with a microphone and partly-transparent video screen that places information over the view from the users' right eye."

Hilariously, the new device is described as something that helps you "explore and share your world, putting you back in the moment," when in fact it is something that take you out of "the moment" and inserts you into a digital fantasy world.


7:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear teacher Dan,

I am also kind of veteran now. I have taught over 12 years in a public high school. My high school is in a rich suburb of Chicago, so they aren't focusing too hard on us -yet. Our parents are wealthy and powerful and have lawyers. I am out of Chancellor Rahm's grasp. The first goal of the corporate reformers is to punish and close down the heavily minority schools in the city. Isn't that nice? This is what Bloomberg is doing in NYC as well. It is too early for me to get out...I also have a family. I am also off the radar because I teach foreign language, an unessential subject in the mind's of the reformers. I will just keep my head down and try to avoid the Soviet-style purges that are coming. Remember teachers are responsible for this economic meltdown. That is what FOX news says every day. It is actually a very savy idea of turning the dying middle class on the middle class that still has a union. Now the corporate elites just have to sit back and watch the middle class eat itself. Soon we will all be collecting aluminum cans.

7:45 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Thank u guys for writing in. I love it when I read statements of decline-denial, such as come out of the mouths of folks like Mr. Obama, and the bks of so many others. You know that line from Garrison Keillor?: "Here in Lake Wobegon we have the ability to look reality right in the eye and deny it." Amen. Jesus, every day the data gets thicker and thicker, and we keep pretending this sort of stuff (Google eyewear, the destruction of the school system) doesn't matter. 311 million people suffering from CRE. What wd it take, O Lord, to extract their heads? No hay remedio, claro!


9:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Further evidence that we are already a banana republic (from "With Liberty and Justice for Some", Glenn Greenwald): After reciting refusals by Ford to prosecute Nixon and Obama to hold Bush, et al responsible for torture and other war crimes, "...the surest sign of a underdeveloped, tyrannical society is just what the United States has embraced: a setup where political elites are free to break the law with impunity and never suffer the consequences ordinary citizens do. Unequal treatment, not legal accountability, is the defining feature of a 'banana republic'. "


6:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Trying to think through the main arguments and would appreciate comments: is "hucksterism" culturally determined or part of human DNA? Did evolution favor greedy/self-interested behavior over cooperation? Or are we a combination of both and free to choose? Which predominates in the human character, evolutionary-speaking? Polk

6:58 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

Well, Google is offering something called augmented reality goggles "to give you a heads up on the world around you" -

And here I thought I was aware of the world around me when I simply opened my eyes & went for a walk. Silly me! All I saw in my local park was a gorgeous heron striding through the marsh, several deer, two species of ducks, a pair of turtles on a log, a woodchuck newly emerged from his burrow, and countless birds in blossoming trees. To think that I could have been watching Youtube videos & getting the latest clebrity gossip instead!

Just another example of the desire to cocoon the person inside a digital bubble & cut out the actual physical world. Set your AR goggles on "Constant Distraction" & never be troubled by reality again, I guess.

People want to become the Borg, they really do ...

8:34 AM  
Anonymous David M said...

Dr. Berman & DAAers
That argument for voting for the lesser of two evils is so weak; it's a cop-out. To think that you only have one of two choices in an election just shows how unimaginatively lazy the American voter is. Some folks tell me that if you don't vote for one of the two major parties you are throwing your vote away. This is short sightedness. What they can't see is that if most democrats would vote for another party (other than republican) or an independent or not vote at all, in the long run it would send a message to the party that some change is needed. But in this culture where instant gradification is the virtue, not patience, the same political hacks will continue to be elected. Of course its all moot now, the momentum built-up from the many years of proceding in a destructive direction will just keep us on course. (Dr. Berman's battleship in a bathtub)

I live just outside of Myakka City; which is 20 miles east of Sarasota. I have spent time in St Pete but most of what I know about what goes on up there is through the local media and for the last few years I haven't been reading or listening to the news. Even the local news from progressive sources is hard to take these days.

11:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not sure if you've seen his works, but Adam Curtis has done some really great documentaries that go nicely with your work. The Century of the Self, The Trap, and The Nightmare specifically (check YouTube). One thing I think you should point out in your works is that healthy values (healthy for the individual and society) start at home. The outside world (consumer culture and politics) just seduce us into it's system, so if there's another option (besides bailing on the culture/country) we have to create it for ourselves and spread those values and processes like the plague. Capitalism does not equal greed or materialism, immature adolescent values as embodied by affluent depravity, decadence and hedonism does. We must teach people to take into account the greater good and the consequences of our actions and not just behave like selfish animals. Liberty means we have to accept the good with the bad, but we should only promote the good and discourage the bad as it relates to what's healthy. These days the bad sells, so it's an uphill battle. Keep up the good work.

12:50 PM  
Anonymous Meri said...

As usual comments on this site r so inspiring & enlightening, I hope I can respond to @least two.
To ijcd from Cuba: I'd recently gotten into a heated argument w/a Cuban-American who insisted the US is the greatest country in the world, land of opp'y, etc., & Cuba's a terrible place 'cuz communism doesn't work, etc. It was like talking w/a male, hispanic Sarah Palin, lol.
To Louis: I don't live in an ivory tower @all--come from a blue-collar, working class family, had very diff childhood&life, graduated from a top college but am now being punished w/massive debt & I even ended up homeless 4 a while, after graduating from college w/honors. U r prob a good person who means well, so I'd ask u to consider there's truth behind Morris's claims. I've gotten into many, many discussions w/a variety of Americans across the cntry on homelessness, poverty & stud loan debt, as I made a docu film on it&have been writing about it & believe me, Americans voted for all this.

They want harsh laws forcing stud's to pay off loans. They want welfare, food stamps, soc sec, etc., budget cut, 4 the rich to pay less taxes, 4 surveillance cameras & undemocratic laws like Patriot Act&NdAA to be passed (makes Amers feel safe.)

Who's living in the ivory tower here? Talk to ordinary working-class, blue-collar people. Yes, they might say they're unhappy w/the way things are but they are ignorant as to what needs to change & most of them don't care about their fellow human--it's all about me&my own pers suffering.

Again, I'm not touting myself as a genius/expert. There's much I'm ignorant on. I'm well-educated by Amer stdrds, but I'm frustrated by how diff it is to get an education & to obtain knowledge in this cntry. Problem is, most Amers want it to stay this way.It's a willful ignorance.

1:56 PM  
Anonymous Mark said...

I read one of Julian's older posts and he mentioned that the UK is a worse place to live than the US. I would have to disagree with that because i grew up there and moved to the US in the early 90s. The cultural differences between the two countries are pretty vast even though politicians of the two biggest parties have adopted some form of neo-liberalism, its still a very different place to live.

I would have to admit out of all of the Western European countries that the UK is probably the most americanized. However, the UK is really four countries rolled into one. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are very different to England. For example, students in England now have to pay 9000 pounds a year to go university but in Scotland it's free. There are also large regional differences in England. The Northern part of England is much more left wing than the South and the Conservative party normally has a very hard time getting MPs elected in those constituencies.

It's much easier to find and make good friends in England. I can pick up my phone and call one of them and its like i never left. As long as you live near a fairly large town or city you can get around using a combination of public transportation and a good bicycle. The pace of life is a lot slower than the US plus they have much better beer and cider;)

4:46 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


The notion that hustling, or the capitalist-entrepreneurial mentality, is part of 'human nature' is in fact part of the propaganda machinery of capitalism itself. Max Weber understood that capitalism was as much a type of culture as it was an economic system, and that prior to it, societies were steady-state, not organized around 'growth'. "A man does not by nature wish to earn more and more money," he wrote, "but simply to live as he is accustomed to live and to earn as much as is necessary for that purpose." Weber argued that Adam Smith's idea of ceaseless economic striving was actually a very peculiar form of behavior, one that had to be explained rather than taken for granted. (In general, the 'human nature' argument boils down to an assumption, like 'instinct' a century ago; it's hardly an established fact, and everyone seems to have their own version of what that 'nature' is anyway.)

For more on this, check out Joyce Appleby, "The Relentless Revolution," esp. pp. 17-18.

As for competition vs. cooperation, check out "Kin and Kind" by Jonah Lehrer in March 5th New Yorker.


6:21 PM  
Anonymous Julian said...

Re: “Google unveils Project Glass augmented reality eyewear.”

Oh yeah. There ain’t no more bread to go around. But the circuses sure is top notch!


PS – I’m writing like my online students usually do.

6:30 PM  
Anonymous IsoscelesPopsicle said...

For what it's worth, Adam Smith considered the desire to make more and more and more money a form of mental illness.

11:18 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Maybe; but he certainly argued that the sum total of individual selfishness was what made for a healthy and prosperous society--that was the "invisible hand." So I guess it's a question of how many "and more's" are involved. Check out "Adam's Fallacy," by Duncan Foley, for a more elaborate exposition than I can give here.


12:27 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

anon 1250 pm, "Capitalism does not equal greed or materialism..."

I think, one of the best illustrative definitions of capitalism was produced by the I.W.W. (founded 7-7-1905) on a poster copyrighted in 1911. It was called: Pyramid of Capitalist System.

The base of the pyramid shows a mass of people holding up all levels of society with the words: "We Work For All." and "We Feed All."

The first level above the workers is a group of individuals having a big old party with lots of food and drink with the words: "We Eat For You".

The second level shows individuals representing the Security State with the words: "We Shoot At You."

Third level has the Bishops, Popes, Christians, Priests and Rabbis with the words: "We Fool You".

4th level shows representations of Kings, Presidents, Dictators, Elites with the words: "We Rule You". The peak of the platform pyramid has a huge sack of gold money with a giant dollar sign.

Pretty impressive! To me.

I have a framed copy of it in my new Spanish language lab, to inspire me, that I recently set up to get the hell out of here one day to watch the slaughter from afar. I hope I make it in time.

12:32 PM  
Anonymous JM said...

I haven't read The Wealth of Nations but I have it on very good authority that self-interest was not Smith's "invisible hand."

In For the Common Good Herman Daly states that both Smith and David Ricardo were aware that the Principle of Comparative Advantage used to justify free-trade would be short-circuited if capital were allowed to flow freely over international borders. Capitalists would build their factories where labor was cheapest doing great damage to the societies in their own countries. Which, of course is exactly what is happening today.

According to both Daly and Noam Chomsky in Hopes and Prospects (p81), Adam Smith actually used the “invisible hand” to represent that force of conscience and love of country that would prevent the capitalist from investing and transferring capital abroad.. Chomsky quips dryly, “We need not tarry on the force of (Smith’s argument).

I'm not defending Smith's overall thesis but I do find it exceedingly ironic that the metaphor of the "invisible hand" has come to represent self-interest and greed when in its original context it was used to represent morality and self-restraint.


5:41 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Well, I'm not sure how gd that authority is. Chomsky knows a lot abt foreign policy, less abt political economy. Again, I refer u to Duncan Foley for a more accurate account.


5:50 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: The following is from Paul Edwards (ed.), "The Encyclopedia of Philosophy," under Adam Smith:

"Smith believes that the general welfare will be best served by permitting each person to pursue his own interest. Sympathy, which figured largely in Smith's account of moral psychology, is not mentioned in his economics. Self-interest is the motive required to explain economic action. Smith argues, 'Every individual is continually exerting himself to find out the most advantageous employment for whatever capital he can command.' Since the most advantageous employment of capital is to be found in producing and selling the goods which satisfy the greatest needs of a people, the capitalist is bound to work to satisfy those needs. Intending only his own gain, he contributes nonetheless to the general welfare. Thus, the capitalist is 'led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention.'"

6:23 PM  
Anonymous David M said...

Dr. Berman & DAAers
The conversation about the invisible hand guiding people people morally and ethically reminded me of an anecdote. An acquaintance of mind who worked for Hollywood studios making movies related a story about a co-worker. Seems they they were filming a movie on a small island that had a small number of gas stations. His co-worker had an idea; buy up all the stations (corner the market)raise prices (stick-it to the poor islander)and after showing an increase in profit sell the stations for a profit also. Which he did. Now my friend had nothing but praise for this schrewed person and his ability to make money on the backs of other people. Gee I wander what the hell happen to this so called moral ethical invisible guiding hand.

9:45 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


That's the brilliance of Duncan Foley's bk, actually: he shows how Smith attempted to separate out the workings of the market as a 'science' (impersonal market forces) from culture and morality, and how the theory is crippled as a result, in actual practice. "Invisible hand" was, in fact, sleight of hand, because how the sum of millions of individual selfish actions could somehow miraculously get converted into a positive (and moral) outcome for society as a whole defies all logic, and is never truly explained.

When I studied Smith in graduate schl, what we learned was that he was part of the 18C Scottish enlightenment, wh/took its cue from the model of universal gravitation, as put forward by Isaac Newton. It's a mechanical model, and thus a perfect explanation in physics and astronomy. So what occurred to Smith and many others was, Why wdn't this work in the social sciences as well? You have all of these mass particles running around like billiard balls, but also attracted to each other according to the law of universal gravitation--Newton's invisible hand, tho he never used that particular phrase. (He actually took the concept from alchemy, as I discuss in "The Reenchantment of the World"; what Newton called "action-at-a-distance" was really inexplicable, but part of the Western magical tradition, the Theory of Correspondences and the alchemical notion of affinity. Long discussion, anyway.)

So Smith's Newtonization of economics amounted to saying that whereas Newton's law was based on matter in motion, his own theory was that of greed in motion: every single 'atom' of society pursued its own self-interest; and just as in the planetary case one got perfect harmony, via the agent of universal gravitation, in the economic case one got socioeconomic harmony, i.e. wealth, via the agent of the invisible hand. Of course it doesn't work out very harmoniously in practice, as we all know, and I think precisely for the reasons Foley states.


10:21 AM  
Anonymous Ray said...

So here we are,stuck in this particular version of an Anglosphere-Enlightenment-instigated dystopia. with a whole new continent as an amplifier for its madness. Since the eighteenth century, its elaborate philosophical rationalizations for selfishness and sleaze have warped the history of the world.
I ownder about the missed potential for earlier capitalisms -Venetian, Rhineland-Dutch, or French mercantiliste to have generated their own Smith-type abominations producing rationalizing justifications for greed. Or is this particular kind of smarminess about the equivalence between morality and utiliity, between power and virtue, particularly Anglo-Saxon?

11:04 AM  
Anonymous Julian said...


If possible, could you recommend a few good sources discussing the “circuses” employed by the Roman Empire? I am very interested in this topic, especially in how it contrasts with the circuses we see today in America.

Thank you for any suggestions.


1:05 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I haven't read any specialized studies of the subject myself, but when I went to Amazon, there were a # of titles that might be what yr looking for.


2:13 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

Considering that humans spent at least 95% of our evolution in groups or tribes of probably 200 or less and considering that most of them developed in relative isolation from each other and probably had at least some differences in ways of life, organization and survival strategies, and considering the fact that there have been many thousands of different tribes, why should all of humanity now follow this one particular and peculiar tribe, global capitalism, and its illegitimate and irresponsible leaders off a cliff?

6:49 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


1. Because group suicide is exciting?

2. Because w/their heads rammed up their rear ends, it's a lot easier to roll off a cliff?

3. Because we need to honor the memory of Milton Friedman?

4. All of the above?



7:14 PM  

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