December 22, 2012

Thomas Naylor (1936-2012)

I just learned yesterday that my friend and staunch Vermont secessionist, Thomas Naylor, died on December 12 from a massive stroke. He was only 76 years old, and very actively writing and organizing conferences for next year. I spoke to Tom about two weeks ago, and although his voice was kind of thin, he seemed fine: happy to chat, intellectually alert. A few days later, he was dead. I also spoke to his wife, Magda, yesterday afternoon, who told me that no one saw it coming.

There was no one like him, really; he articulated a rare political position, and he did it well. I admired Tom because life for him was not a pose or a hustle; it was about integrity, sincerity, and dedication to a vision. Tom stood up for what he believed, even though it was vastly unpopular. For me, his little book on "Secession" offered an important prediction regarding America's future. It's a manifesto, really, and a possible roadmap for creating a decentralized, eco-friendly, non-imperial America; or non-America, really, which I think needs to happen. He saw that America's soul had rotted out, and that the small minority that cared about quality of life, and about living a truly moral life, needed to separate out from the huge machine that was devouring us all, even murdering our children. The movement he created, the Second Vermont Republic, was his answer to the nation's spiritual suicide-in-progress.

So Tom will be sorely missed; he leaves a gap that will be hard to fill, in Vermont or elsewhere. Edwin Markham wrote a poem many years ago about Lincoln, saying that when a great man dies, it's like a tall cedar being cut down in the forest, and that this "leaves a lonesome place against the sky."

Bless you, Tom. R.I.P.



Anonymous Dan said...

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Who will guard the guards? You are not too far off suggesting guns in the hands of children or at least high school students. I recall a mass shooting at a high school in Arkansas. I later found out that that school had off on the first day of hunting. I mean talk about chickens coming home to roost. Anyway, it's far too late to do anything about gun control. In response to Connecticut, there has been a spike in assault weapons sales. Americans couldn't care less about the evisceration of the 4th and 5th amendments but are hell bent on protecting the 2nd (which is dubious since we no longer need "a well-armed militia").
Anyway, watching Obama talk about gun violence while he's waging Murder Inc. abroad is sickening. One wonders if he himself sees the irony. Probably not.

8:34 AM  
Blogger Cj said...

Hi Professor, I'm sorry to hear of the loss of your friend. I'll try to read some of his writings.

I found an interesting article on the blog "What's Left" by Stephan Gowans that mirrors in a way, in my opinion, one of your themes that alternative traditions/systems have to be destroyed by capitalist elites. In this case it's the Soviet Union.

It's an interesting read. If you have the time to check it out I'd be interested in your opinion.

I realize it has nothing to do with the loss of your friend but wanted to bring it to your attention and since this is your latest posting...

Anyways, hope this finds you well. Thanks for all the great articles.


10:45 AM  
Blogger LJansen said...

Very sorry for your (& our) loss, MB.

Last thread included a comment: "R.I.P., America."

More likely, it would be the rest of the world that would rest in peace if America died.

11:10 AM  
Anonymous Brian said...

Dr. Berman--

Thanks very much for this news regarding Naylor; such a powerful and necessary voice, especially with respect to the People's Republic of Vermont.

I continue to take solace, knowing I can travel up ol' route 91 from CT to VT to learn from my "international brethren" in the VT Commons and VT Independence Party (we half-jokingly refer to the I-91 trek as the "Overground Railroad").



11:27 AM  
Anonymous Seth said...

A great and compassionate man is now gone from this world. RIP.

12:04 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I'm thinking of the ancient Greek doctrine of ecpyrosis, whereby the world ends in cosmic conflagration. Much later (ca. 1800), Benjamin Rush predicted that the US would end in "an orgy of selfishness". But why not an orgy of self-destruction? If every single person in the US, including infants and school children, started toting an AK-47, a lot of our problems wd get solved quite quickly. I've written the NRA abt this, but they seem to think I'm some sort of crank. This hurts my feelings, the more so since Bella Santorum (age 3) is a member.


Many thanx; I just printed it out. Merry Xmas.


12:29 PM  
Anonymous satyaSarika said...

Dear MB,

Sorry to hear of the loss of your friend. I'll look into the 'Secession'

Thanks to a recommendation on your blog, I'm reading the Janice Peck work on Oprah. Really fascinating to me. Never watched Oprah that much and didn't have much opinion on her and her empire, other than disliking about everyone she has propelled to celebrity status, especially yuk yuk Dr. Phil. Anyway, tracing her show's rise with the concomittant rise of Reaganism and neoliberalism has been fascinating.

Speaking of Oprah's chosen ones, once I listened to Eckhart Tolle on PBS for about 15 minutes till I started gagging. I found him to be yet another snake oil saleseman. Do you or others on this blog have an opinion of him you'd like to share?

Hope all here are as safe and sound as possible and able to celebrate some holiday of choice!

2:29 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Glad yr enjoying Peck. Wanted to tell u and other Wafers that I just signed a contract w/a small publisher in Oregon to do my 'spiritual guidance' bk, "Spinning Straw Into Gold." It's abt as far from Tolle as one can get. I tell u, I just ate lunch, and if Herr Tolle was around I'd really enjoy bringing it up on him. Do u remember when Kramer barfed on Susan Ross? It would be like that (wet, violent, and perfectly aimed). Which is my general reaction to the New Age. The horror is not merely the snake oil salesmen; it's also the buyers.

Anyway, my Mexican publisher will be doing the Span trans of the bk ("De paja a oro") around the same time, i.e. in the spring. The subtitle, BTW, is "Straight Talk for Troubled Times." Snake oil content is just abt 0. I expect to sell abt 14 copies, as a result, but as Phil Roth once said, An author is not there to be loved.


3:08 PM  
Anonymous Dani Frank said...

Compare the death of Thomas Naylor to the death of Daniel Inouye. I did not know that Thomas Naylor died because I did not see anything on CNN or Fox or MSNBC about his death. But after the death of Daniel Inouye, the news media could not retrain themselves. One lived off the tax revenues and had full healthcare coverage - probably the best medical care that America has to offer. The other probably did not have enough money to pay his hospital bills. The Christian nation indeed!

6:57 PM  
Blogger LJansen said...

Michael Moore: "Guns don't kill people; Americans kill people."

7:40 PM  
Anonymous Xiale said...

Do you have a release date for Spinning Straw Into Gold? Also, a few years back I read Barbara Ehrenreich's book Bright-sided, attacking all of this New Age positive thinking. Was wondering if you read it, and what you though of it if indeed you did read it.

11:26 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


No official release date, but I'm guessing around April 1st (don't read too much into that). I loved Barb's bk.


This is where I concur w/the NRA, and w/Michael. Americans are so violent that if guns really were effectively banned, we wd start using knives, stones, anything we cd lay our hands on. The enemy is always outside, and he is the darkest of the dark--that's all we know, and we behave accordingly. Of course, being dumb doesn't help. MLK once said that the deadliest combo in the world was anger + stupidity. Gee, I wonder what country he was talking about? Duh!


12:15 AM  
Anonymous Zero said...

Dear MB,

I am sorry to hear about the loss of your friend. I will look into some of his writings.

I hope your Oregon publisher does justice to your new book. In the Dark Ages that we live in, an author’s value is not measured by how many copies the book sells. Quite the opposite seems to be true: the more books an author sells, the greater the banality and mediocrity that those books represent, and we can use Sarah Palin, Ann Coulter, and Thomas Friedman (among many) as case studies to prove this point. I imagine that your books will be truly valued and discovered once the second Renaissance kicks in, whenever that will take place.

4:10 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Thanks for yr encouragement. 2nd Ren won't happen on American soil, I'm guessing. Cf. revival of Europe in 11C, long after Rome collapsed: it happened in urban centers in the North. I suspect that w/in 5 yrs of my death I won't even be a footnote in American 'intellectual' life; altho perhaps Chinese historians, writing many yrs from now abt why America failed, will stumble upon my work by accident, and I'll be given the Mao Zedung Award for Significant Intellectual Activity posthumously. What a rush.


7:55 AM  
Anonymous twig said...


Is it Cascade Books, Eugene, Or.? (Straw/Gold)


Here is an article by one who I think is a brilliant writer. He considers others rather than the dolts we live among in this wretched individualistic world. Ecpyrosis?

8:28 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


One Spirit Press, Portland. Bk shd be out ca. April 1.

Re: this article: yes, such wonderful people, Americans. 38 states have capital punishment, 24% of Americans polled say it's OK to use violence in the pursuit of yr goals, and our homicide rate is thru the roof. As for ignorance/stupidity: these data are also thru the roof, reproduced in many studies (not just mine). The Land of the Clueless: what %, do you think, know abt the 'indefinite detention' clause, or abt the NDAA? The detention centers (CMU's) in Illinois and Indiana? The murder of civilians in Pak/Afgh by predator drones, and the domestic use of drones by state police forces? What % do you think wd give a damn if they did know?

Yes, a great, illuminated, and peaceful people; no doubt abt it. Just hang out in bars and collect anecdotal 'evidence'--excellent sociology.

Ecpyrosis, now more than ever.


8:47 AM  
Blogger jml said...

here is another blog regarding the inherent violence of america. it is by ian welsh.

a quote: "The two most important things to understand are that gun control would reduce harm significantly, and that gun control is a palliative for a sick culture. The US does have more guns than anyone else, but countries like Finland have a pile of guns and people don’t kill nearly as many innocents with them. Likewise every military age male in Switzerland has an assault rifle, and they don’t have killing sprees."

and another: "People have to be medicated to function in American society because it requires unpleasant and unnatural behaviour, virtually all the time. School and work both require people to act in ways that normal, healthy, unmedicated individuals find hard to sustain."

his blog and this one are where i go to find some sign of sanity

9:27 AM  
Blogger LJansen said...

Do any other WAFers follow Gerald Celente? The guy is an entertaining and fearless critic of the ol' U.S. of A.

At minute 9 of this video, he has a very touching memorial to Thomas Naylor, who apparently wrote for the Celente's Trends Journal:

10:20 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Many thanks for sending this link. Celente is a friend of a friend of mine, and this is a fine tribute to Tom.


1. Michael Moore makes the pt in "Bowling for Columbine" that Canadians have more guns per capita than does the US, and a low homicide rate (unlike the US). Bottom line: Americans are stupid and violent, and if it weren't guns, it wd be knives or clubs. NRA is probably rt on this score.

2. In order to get thru the day, Americans hafta stuff themselves w/Prozac and cell fones.


11:09 AM  
Blogger pinkpearl said...

Sorry to hear about the loss of Naylor. I will look up his work.

MB, your books and the comments in this blog are a gold mine for finding out about great books and writers.

I signed DAA out of my local university library yesterday. ( I've read Twilight and WAF.) Guess what book was on the same shelf? "Suicide of a Superpower" by Pat Buchanan!

12:33 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Always glad 2b of help. Hope u enjoy DAA; it's the lengthiest of the trilogy, and some folks tell me they like it the best. As for Pat, I've never been a big fan of his, I hafta admit (among other things, there always seems to be an antisemitic 'hum' lurking there).


I was floored by the Gowans essay, since it seems to stand reality on its head. But I'm not an economist, so I passed it on to my friend Richard Wolff, who informed me that the essay is poorly researched and full of holes. I mean, I found it odd to hear that the USSR was some sort of people's paradise, given the long lines in front of near-empty grocery stores (and that antedated the Reagan arms race). Anyway, Rick referred me to the bk he did with Stephen Resnick, "Class Theory and History," and wrote that he'd get back to me w/more detailed critique of Gowans after the holidays. Stay tuned. And thanks again for referring me to the article.


1:56 PM  
Blogger CJ said...

Dr. Berman,

Very sorry to hear about the departure of Mr. Naylor, and thank you for sharing it.

I just wanted to comment on the Newtown tragedy... so horrible, and so disgusting how desensitized we have all become. I re-watched Bowling for Columbine this week to gain some more perspective on the source of the insanity and violence, now already 13 years since that tragedy... with no significant change. The closing interview with Charleton Heston is just eery and telling, the coldheartedness. There truly seems to be an emptiness within us, a sick emptiness, where we lack the capacity for Love and Belonging -- essential, bridging human needs per Maslow's hierarchy... and so the continued loss of morality as part of the potential for esteem and self-actualization. Do you think this may be part of what perpetuates the mean-ness and mental illness?

I also just wanted to share this piece on Newtown from Bill Moyers which I thought was good, and yet saddening --

Any thoughts on why we continue to let relatively small groups like the NRA pull the wool over the eyes of the country? Didn't Australia (albeit not an empire) have the courage to ban weapons in 1997?

May there be peace on earth... someday soon.

3:19 PM  
Blogger Boris the Spider said...

Jared Diamond's new book touches on some of the same issues you raised about child-rearing in hunter-gatherer societies in Wandering God.

There's an excerpt here:

4:28 PM  
Anonymous Paul SS said...

Talk about madness! I am willing to bet that the same morons seeking to deport Piers Morgan were also involved in requesting that the OWS people be labeled terrorists – the second amendment protects them but it does not protect anybody else including the children murdered by Adam Lanza.

FBI Investigated 'Occupy' As Possible 'Terrorism' Threat, Internal Documents Show

Piers Morgan Deportation Petition Posted To White House After His Gun Control Rants

4:35 PM  
Blogger pinkpearl said...

Whoops! I didn't mean that PB was one of the great writers I've found through your work. Although it was interesting to dip into his book to try and understand his perspective, whacked as it is.

5:34 PM  
Blogger abigail said...

I'm so sorry to hear that. I learned about Thomas Naylor here on DAA (among other amazing thinkers) and have devoured the stuff he posted on Counterpunch. He articulated the secessionist position so well. It's harsh when someone who's actually trying to do some good in this country dies.

R.I.P. Mr. Naylor.

6:15 PM  
Anonymous TimR said...

The spiritual guidance book sounds interesting, I'm curious to see what you say. But then I've always found self-help books intriguing, even if the genre seems determined to outdo the cynic who said that 90% of any given field is worthless. A couple I would recommend: "Be Still Like the Hummingbird" by Henry Miller (point being that the hummingbird is paradoxically still/not-still when he hovers in one place, his wings a blur - which Miller makes an allegory for some sort of way of being.) And Robert Kiyosage's (sp) "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" - a work about hustling, by a hustler (Hey, why not go straight to the source, right?) It may be hard for some to take, stylistically, as Kyosage is constantly selling (his book, his other books, himself, his board game --- MB, where's your board game! j/k*) but amid all that I found that he does actually have some insights into how "the system" works. His approach is to re-orient the reader from the worker/employee mindset to the owner/rentier capitalist mindset. Questionable perhaps as spiritual advice, but a revealing look at the big picture. And at least Kiyosage doesn't pretend he's nobler than thou, as many businessmen do --- he frankly admits that he simply made a pragmatic decision not to be victimized by the system (at least in the worldly sense of the word --- I'm sure a real guru would consider his adaptive acculturation to be itself a form of victimization.)

On the gun violence topic, I wanted to mention that I stumbled across some articles presenting a "conspiracy theory" view of Newtown (on Or really, rather than theory, more of a "conspiracy question" view of the shooting, as the writer raises a lot of questions about the plausibility of the official narrative. I have no idea myself what the truth is, but the questions are provocative. Many of them I can dismiss, but I do wonder about the idea of a "scrawny" guy, who's pretty young, loaded down with armor and wearing a mask, and with multiple weapons, managing to be so deadly efficient. They said there was only one wounded, and that I think may have been someone behind a door (so not a reliable witness.) He may have had experience with target practice, but it's not as if he was in the military or special forces, which seems like the kind of skill level he would have to be operating at.

*Actually, not such a bad idea at that... "WAF: the Board Game" -- featuring donut-shaped, HIR pieces you roll around the board --- a desolate USA of suburban sprawl, TV watchers, and SUVs --- while searching for limbic pleasures, warding off the predations of other players, and distracting oneself as much as possible w iJunk & iCrud... I'd say get it ready for Xmas 2013, but who knows if the Chinese imports will still be flowing at that late date...

6:27 PM  
Blogger Living Hero Radio Show and Podcast ~ Jari Chevalier said...

I moved to Vermont, read Naylor's book (have been meaning to for over a year), got a radio show slot (starting the show in January), was planning to invite Naylor as a guest of Living Hero within the first few months, and now he's gone! Very sad about his death! Btw, Vermont is not America, secession or no secession. Sending good wishes to all of you (especially you, MB) from VT . . .

6:43 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Just a clarification: "Spinning Straw Into Gold" is not a self-help book. It's abt as far from the New Age/Oprah genre as a book could be. I'm expecting a sale of about 14 copies, nationwide. Intelligent readers might like it, but as Adlai Stevenson famously remarked: "It's no use; I need a majority."


7:15 PM  
Anonymous Amar said...

You did a great job, I am with you in your next step.

11:17 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I don't post Anons, so you'll need to pick a handle. Also, pls post to most recent one, since no one reads the older stuff.

Thanks, mb.

1:09 AM  
Blogger Libra said...

Hi,this is Anon,

I don't know which newer post to put this on.

Anyway, I have been reading your blog as well as learning about Mr. Naylor, once again, my condolences.

I have learned I am not crazy about thinking that people have become more like sociopaths. But particularly in the DC area. I moved here in 1992. I hated it when I first moved here but by 1997 I enjoyed where I was. After the Bush administration was elected in 2000 things changed abruptly. People got downright mean, selfish, and petty. Then came the influx of the use of SERIOUS drugs...not pot, not alcohol, but cocaine and prescription drugs. Usually in DC when an administration loses an election the people in that administration leave DC and people from the new administration come in - NO SUCH thing happened this time. The Bush administration people vowed to stay and thwart Obama. The past 13 years have been plagued with myopic and materialist people that discourage and ostracize people for intellectual discussion about religion, politics, science, or feminism. My best friend from Australia and I were asked to leave a restaurant for having a discussion about evolution and Desmond Morris' book The Naked Ape. Another time we were asked to leave a restaurant because we were having a discussion about birth control during the brouhaha about Sandra Fluke and Limbaugh.

It has become insanely expensive to live around here and it is twenty to thirty years behind the times in terms of accepting women as equal. I don't see how we can progress as a society unless DRASTIC reforms happen in Washington DC and particularly Northern VA.

The only way to do this is to end the industrial military complex which heart of power lies in Northern VA. The greed is staggering. I am particularly disappointed in Mr. Obama because one of his 2008 campaign promises was to change the procurement process. It is the source of corruption. Nobody has to work for private industry in this town. They all earn their living off of the taxpayer. Then complain about the taxes they have to pay? How senseless is that?

11:33 AM  
Blogger Libra said...


I watched your interview on Over the past five years I came to the same conclusion about becoming a monastic individual. Leaving the US is not an option for me because of my children.

Thank you. I am not crazy.

11:38 AM  
Blogger Libra said...

Oh my god. I am reading your book, The Twilight of America. My sons are now 18 and 21, I used to take them and their friends on a Ferris Bueler's day off and we would go to the museums on the National Mall. Like the Hirshhorn Museum of Modern Art or the National Gallery of Art.

I've taught them the value of integrity and to read books. They do not have iPhones and now that they are older they see the value in this. They see that they are independent of the internet culture and will not just plug into the mindless commercial crap that is spoonfed to them. I have been doing this all along.

Thank you for your inspired work!

12:00 PM  

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