January 26, 2013


Dear Wafers, Lurkers, and Assorted Shirkers:

Once again I have no great insights to share at this point, being buried in my own work. In any case, let us continue documenting the ongoing collapse of the American empire, evidence for which confronts our eyeballs on a daily basis.

Oh well, I just remembered an old socialist joke I thought I might as well share with you:

A bunch of poor pig farmers in Upstate New York finally got tired of being exploited by the rich. So they gathered all of their pigs in a dozen or so trucks, and drove down to the city, to Tiffany's Jewelry on Fifth Avenue. There, they opened the truck doors, and tossed all of the pigs onto the sidewalk in front of the store. It was a classic case of throwing swine before pearls.

Ha Ha


Anonymous Captain Spaulding said...

Well, if we're trying to build enough anecdotes to comprise a data set, here's one that particularly galled me this morning:


Instead of drafting all of these squalid laws, the Congress should simply draft a blanket one that reads, "Anything that remotely resembles simple, basic decency and compassion is herewith forbidden."

3:32 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Here's a joke that I'm sure less than a million in the US would understand.
Golda Meir was visiting Brezhnev in the Kremlin and Brezhnev fell madly in love with her. So he said. " Golda, I will do anything for you. Just tell me what you want and I will do it. Golda replied, "I want free emigration for anyone in the Soviet Union who wants to leave" whereupon Brezhnev said, " Golda, you little devil, so you want to be alone with me?"
Could you give me your personal E-mail. I just ran across some statistics you may wish to expand upon in this blog.

4:00 PM  
Anonymous Swordfish said...

Hi, lurker here peeping out from under my rock. I think I hit up this site at least 5x per day, so you can add me to the tally... I'm not particularly well informed enough to participate in most of the conversations here, but I like knowing all the WAFERs are out there. I also have a taste for beer, and a relatively overactive bladder, so would certainly offer myself as an operative in any WUIU activities in the offing.

By the way, to Cap'n Spaulding: The ag-gag movement has been going on for a while. We've already got a federal law that makes it an act of terrorism to essentially cause economic damage to animal enterprises...the law, called the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) is so broadly drafted that things like boycotts may even be actionable. I think that one person has already been convicted under the AETA, and currently resides in one of our extremely hospitable CMUs.

You're right. We should just draft a blanket law. I like the wording of yours, and I'd add that anything that causes any corporation to lose any money whatsoever, should forthwith and herewith be considered an act of terrorism. Lock 'em all up. Let god sort 'em out. And by the way, we need MORE CMUs.

5:24 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Pls send message to most recent post, and pick a handle, as I don't post Anons. I suggest Rufus T. Firefly.


That is currently de facto, if not de jure. Frankly, I think anyone who does anything w/in the continental US, Alaska, and Hawaii, shd be locked up, w/o rt of appeal. Plus beaten w/a stick.


Am very excited abt yr bladder and potential contribution to our future Event at the W.H. And don' worry, there will be many more CMU's; I'm quite sure of it. Soon, everyone will be a terrorist. (According to guidelines of the DoJ, you qualify if you have more than 7 days' supply of food in yr house. I'm serious.)


A few yrs ago, when Medvedev was the official President of Russia, he and Putin were having dinner in a fancy Moscow restaurant. The waitress approached Putin and asked him, "What can I get you?" "I'll have the steak," said Putin. "And for the vegetable?" she asked. "He'll have the steak too," said Putin.


7:31 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

MB said, "Soon, everyone will be a terrorist".


9:04 PM  
Anonymous The Dude said...

One aspect of the American empire that I find truly fascinating is how it has so successfully dumbed down the masses that it need not engage in any form of censorship. I'm currently reading Nick Turse's scathing new book, "Kill Anything that Moves, The Real American War in Vietnam," which makes a strong case that the vast majority of Vietnamese casualties were caused not by "collateral damage" but as a result of deliberately murderous policies and orders that ran from McNamara right on down to the line officers in the field.

What is really remarkable is that Turse was able to build much of his case from the U.S. government's own files and can he publish his book freely with no fear that it will be suppressed. More astonishing is that his book even received a glowing review in that most dedicated organ of pro-empire propaganda, The Washington Post:


Just like with WAF, not enough people will read Turse's book to have any real effect on public opinion, and our reptilian leaders know this. Were he alive today, Joseph Goebbles would undoubtedly be awed by how the American media propaganda and distraction machine (what the late Joe Bageant so aptly called "The American Hologram") has so thoroughly accomplished what he set out to achieve without having to resort to overt censorship and coercion.

10:24 PM  
Anonymous Winter In America said...

Dr. Berman,

I was intrigued by your allusion to the 7 days of food supply/terrorism connection issued by the DoJ. Could you provide a link for the DoJ document containing this entry? I'd be interested in sharing this info, but I'd feel more comfortable if I could do so by backing up the veracity of it with a viable source.

I did a web search and didn't come up with much other than links leading to Rand Paul and numerous prepper/survivalist type sites. I followed up on some of them that provided external links to documents or government pamphlets -- none of the linked files I downloaded from these sites made mention of the 7 day supply of food question.

In the Seven Signs of Terrorism pamphlet, sign #4 Acquiring Supplies made was no mention of it, another document sourced to the 7 day food supply linked from a message board was the CRS Report for Congress - Order Code RL32366 - Terrorist Identification, Screening, and Tracking Under Homeland Security Presidential Directive 6. I must confess I didn't peruse the entire 40 pages -- I only read over the chapters I thought the subject might be under. I didn't come across anything, but then again neither of the files above were DoJ documents - nor were any of the others I saw.

So yeah, if you could save me the time and drudgery of trying to find the needle in the haystack a citation would be greatly appreciated. Keep up the good work.

10:59 PM  
Anonymous Bingo said...

Maybe most WAFers won't fully understand because you haven't lived through it, but this guy's story is very similar to mine. And his feelings as well. I escaped communist Romania with the same hopes and for many of the same reasons as he escaped Poland. My question today is, WTF?! How did we get to this point in history? How did what I ran away from 30 years ago catch up with me across the ocean. This is truly disheartening. Check it out:


Of course, there is one *huge* difference between the Eastern block countries and the average American or Western European of today, sinking into the same kind of totalitarianism and austerity that gripped Eastern Europe 30 years ago. The difference is, Eastern Europeans were (and still are) truly intelligent, fully aware, and capable human beings, who maintained their dignity and humanity, even through Stalinism, and then even through the most barbaric neoliberal hurricane of plunder and theft that the West unleashed upon the East after the 1989 revolutions. On the other hand, Westerners are, for the most part, nothing more than hedonistic, selfish, ignoramuses, unable to see beyond their immediate selfish interests, and most likely unable to survive outside the system of institutionalized corruption, theft, and global exploitation that the West has represented for the past 500 years. As far as I am concerned, I hope America takes Western Europe down with it in its collapse.

PS – I noticed that every time I criticize Western Europe, there is always at least one West European apologist jumping in. As such, I am looking forward to see how any proud Western European (currently unemployed and living under austerity, of course) will explain away the past 500 years of Haiti-style plunder and genocide that their respective (but proud, of course) Western European nation has engaged in. As Clint Eastwood might say, “Go ahead, punk, make my day”… Try to explain all that away...LOL

11:05 PM  
Anonymous satyaSarika said...

Just noting a bit of synchronicity: I had just ordered Hannah Arendt's "Life of the Mind" and her work on totalitarianism and then they get mentioned here.

Recently finished the Janice Peck book on Oprah (fantastic) and the 'Bright-Sided' by Barbara Ehrenreich. Always enjoy a good critique of New Age Sap!

As to the hit list on the site, I will often hit the page a few times a day. My one true simpatica friend who had a clear gaze died in Sept '08, and since then, I haven't had much of anyone to talk to in RL. I have a wonderful gf, but she doesn't have the will to look at the true state of affairs, being all caught up in grandkids and the like ...

I think that being resigned to superficial BS in conversation with most folks so as to avoid becoming a total social pariah causes me quite a bit of sorrow, so reaching out to hear others helps a tad. It was such a blow when Joe Bageant died...

12:46 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Yr life in the US sounds like mine, b4 I hit the rd. What a pleasure it was, to live among people with whom I had abs. nothing in common.


The diff is that in the Eastern bloc, the totalitarian style was from Orwell, whereas in America it's from Huxley. I don't share yr antagonism to Western Europe, however, despite all its faults. In fact, I think it cd be our last best hope. Every time I go to Spain or France or wherever I think, "Yes, this *is* a civilization."


I can't really be of much help, because my own source for that was a list of 'terrorist characteristics' that Rand Paul cited in a speech he gave 1-2 yrs ago on the Senate floor, and which I saw online as a video. He also indicated that the DoJ list included having a missing finger, or having loaded weapons in your house--which apparently 50% of American households do. I couldn't imagine he made it up. You might try writing the DoJ, or even Rand Paul, and see if that generates a response. Sorry I can't be more helpful.


WAF sold 5500 copies in a nation of 315 million. While I'm sure the FBI has a file on me, it's also the case--unless they are more wigged out than I thought--that they know a nonthreat when they see one. Who am I going to influence, really, the more so since my writing contains polysyllabic words? As far as the (very small) American rdg public goes, I'm completely off the screen; my stuff almost never gets reviewed, for example, or even cited by other authors. But it's even worse than that. When I lived in the US and was asked to speak in a sociology or politics class, let's say, I would start by asking the 50 students there: "Who of you has heard of Noam Chomsky?" At the most, 2 kids wd raise their hands. The govt has abs nothing to fear from me or Turse or Chris Hedges or etc etc. 1st, Americans have fruit compote in their heads; 2nd, almost all 315 million of them believe in the American Dream ("They call it a dream because you have to be asleep to believe it"--George Carlin) How many of them do you think even know who Robt McNamara (one of our greatest war criminals) even is? And if they *have* heard of the tiny handful of dissenters such as Noam or Chris, they dismiss them as crackpots. It was a common saying, pre-1989, that in the USSR you can't say anything, but if you did it caused a huge uproar; whereas in the US you can say anything you want, but it didn't make the slightest bit of difference.


8:44 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...


Have you noticed that if you do manage to engage people in a discussion of American wars -- if they don't shut you off almost immediately -- they often tend to speak of those wars as being like natural disasters? Something mere human beings have no control over, that just somehow start by themselves & sweep everyone up? The notion that American actions & policies might have contributed to those wars -- that certain powerful Americans wanted those wars -- is an utterly alien concept.

Cultural anecdote for the day: Mercedes-Benz using the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil" in their latest car ads. Basic capitalist co-option or devilishly clever irony on someone's part?

Next thing you know, it'll be Phil Ochs singing, "I ain't marchin' anymore ... 'cause I just bought a new SUV!"

This, in keeping with MB's point that The Powers That Be realized how much more effective a sickly-sweet ocean of cotton candy is in muting dissent, rather than the martyr-making of a crushing iron fist.

9:58 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12:46 PM  
Anonymous ennobled little day said...


Interesting link, although I think Alex Jones' and his ilk need to sit down and read William Clifford's The Ethics of Belief really, REALLY carefully. Ever since he cut off Noam Chomsky in mid interview and started bad mouthing him immediately afterwards, I can't help but think of him as a sincere Bill O'Reilly.

1:28 PM  
Anonymous Susan W. said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

Tim--in the last several years we've had a number of soldiers on the unit. One said to me one day, "I"m glad we're fighting them over there so we won't have to fight them here". He was about 22 and had no idea that same line of BS was used in the Vietnam war to justify it. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

little day---I don't know if you're reading this or not (I read your response on the other post) but I was speaking more in general, rather than specifically, about the exploitation of children. The kids I see are loved and look to be doing well but this culture is doing a job on them. If you can, make time to read Postman's The Disappearance of Childhood. This quote is from it:

"The most striking example of the "show business" model of the world is Sesame Street. Its creators have accepted without reservation the idea that learning is not only not obstructed by entertainment but, on the contrary, is indistinguishable from it....One of the consequences of this fact is that television "Las Vegasizes" our culture. It goes without saying that Sesame Street in particular would do very nicely at prime time with both adults and children, not b/c of its alleged educational function but b/c, quite simply, it is a first-class act."

And the conclusion of the book--

"Those parents who resist the spirit of the age will contribute to what might be called the Monastery Effect, for they will help to keep alive a humane tradition. It is not conceivable that our culture will forget that it needs children. But it is halfway toward forgetting that children need childhood. Those who insist on remembering shall perform a noble service."

5:55 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Julian, Day-

Check out the interview Piers Morgan had w/Alex. It was astounding: Alex was like an endless trumpet fanfare, unwilling to let Piers say a single word.


This is gd, but they're not going young enuf. I won't be satisfied till every neonate in every OB-GYN ward in the country is given an AK-47. KILL needs to be imprinted on the tender brain of every American.


6:07 PM  
Anonymous Bingo said...

I am antagonist toward Western Europe because I saw them in action after 1989. Instead of helping the Eastern Block transition after 1989, they descended like vultures with the IMF in tow, and stole everything that was not nailed down. They are like locust, as Arundhati Roy described them. Millions died in the Eastern Block and Russia, millions more had to emigrate, life expectancy dropped dramatically, all because of the West’s policies post ’89.

Personally, when I see the French civilization I think of the millions that died at the hands of France’s colonial wars and genocides (still ongoing, i.e., Mali). I feel the same about UK, Netherlands. Even a tiny nation like Switzerland (the “money rats”), built its wealth by cheating others (i.e., trillions hidden by dictators in Swiss banks). When I think of Switzerland I think of the Davos cleptocratic fat cats meeting once a year to decide whom to rip off next. Yes, Switzerland is the perfect place for them to meet.

But there is another way to building civilizations: hard work and win-win partnerships. Post war Germany and now China are examples of that. But I don’t expect the US, France, the UK to change their ways. They are oblivious to the fact that nation after nation in Africa, Latin America, and now Eastern Europe are telling them that they are looking for win-win “partnerships” of the type being offered to them by China. Nonetheless, Western nations insist in the same IMF-style plunder, corruption, and theft in their negotiations, as is now evidenced in Greece. They embody the definition of craziness, by persisting in the same deviant behavior even when reality has changed fundamentally. People are fed up with being ripped off by these smooth-talking Western vampires. I think the model of the West is dead, and I for one, am looking forward to dancing on its grave.


7:07 PM  
Anonymous ellen said...

Greetings from London, Dr B and WAFer's. I'm another lurker who clocks in several times a day for essential reading.


The Polish refugee that you linked to is quite right. I lived as an illegal 'behind the iron curtain'in Bulgaria in 1978 with the constant state intrusion, being followed, bugged, harassed etc. It felt far less oppressive than the advanced surveillance state we now have as a matter of course in 'free' Britain.

I don't share Dr B's hope for western Europe, a common saying here is that when the US sneezes we catch a cold--and we did originally teach(by example)the art of the hustle to the US settlers .

You are quite right that we also suck everything dry, the British Empire was a masterclass in that skill. Napolean called us a nation of shopkeepers--he was referring to the hustle mentality and did his best to emulate that in his own bid for Empire, since that is what works for imperialists.

Having been on both sides of the curtain though, I try to avoid too much broad brush. Human nature is much the same wherever you go, greed and venality is an inescapable part of it, along with the better qualities.

I think that Alex Jones makes some valid points but his manner of making them is a complete turn-off to anyone not in the market for being driven into an emotional frenzy of fear and confusion. He is a demagogue and those people are always more dangerous than helpful--even if they sometimes speak the truth.

7:20 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Well, China is no place I admire; torture of dissidents proceeds apace, and the gap between rich and poor is on the order of US levels. And I think much of Europe was forced into IMF rules by the US, and the whole casino capitalist economy. Rather than dancing on Europe's grave, I'm hoping they can find a new direction and preserve what has always been great about their civilization. Just wandering around those cities in Italy and France is a great pleasure--at least, for me.


7:25 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I don't include the UK in Europe. Neither do they, from what I understand! Anglo-Saxon culture is a world apart.


8:11 PM  
Anonymous ennobled little day said...


Thanks for the recommendation and the quotes. I don't think I'll see Sesame Street the same way again.

(I already have the book on my Amazon wishlist. I may get it sooner now...)

Dr. B. and Julian-

I can't stand that man (Alex Jones). I skipped around the clip, watching a few minutes here and there. He's a dangerous clown. Sincerity just ain't nowhere near enough.

I've been very busy lately with student teaching. It's been three weeks and I'm still adjusting. If I misinterpret things, or seem to miss the point...

I'll probably revert to lurking until I can get my schedule back in order.

If anyone tells you that teachers don't work hard, you know they're full of it.

10:08 PM  
Anonymous The Dude said...

@Tim Lukeman - absolutely. Talking frankly about America's wars past or present in "polite company" is absolutely verboten unless you want to make yourself a social pariah. And this is just as true with most liberals and progressives as it is with the reactionaries and wingnut conservatives. It's hard to keep reading books like Turse's (and WAF) because you can't find anyone to discuss them with (expect in my case my father and my brother, fortunately). Nevertheless, I suppose I will keep on doing it since I have this sick addiction to the truth and a visceral hatred of hypocrisy in all forms.

11:19 PM  
Anonymous Captain Spaulding said...

Thanks, Swordfish, for the shout-out and I'm glad you liked the language for my proposed "Preserving Human Decency Act of 2013." It's interesting that the cruel treatment of animals by agribusiness is not considered an act of terror (or of women by men in general: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rebecca-solnit/violence-against-women_b_2541940.html). One of my old high school teachers said that most people were like animals in the feedlot and now the feedlot will be guarded by the NSA.

I have to admit, I've been visiting this blog more frequently since I "came out" and have also watched, and re-watched, Chris Hedges' YouTube videos religiously. (Not many online videos of Dr. B.) It's weird: like I get some strange comfort or solace of knowing that I'm on a sinking ship. Even though I know the narrative pretty well at this point, I still return to hear it again and again. I think more than documenting American decline, this blog provides a space for community and I'm grateful for all the postings.

With that in mind, Dr. Berman, I don't think you have much to worry about from the CIA, FBI, NSA, etc. Since your position argues for either external or inward exile, it doesn't really threaten the structures of power, unlike Hedges' (and Chomsky's and Moore's) calls for mass action. Indeed, have you ever had any over-the-phone/internet debates with them about what you see as the futility of trying to awaken the American people? I imagine they'd be lively. Do they take your work to be an endorsement of a sort of quietism? (A quietism I practice everyday but which Hedges blasts - vide Dante - as desiring a peaceful life without taking the risk of political commitment and action).

11:30 PM  
Anonymous Pedro said...

What else needs to be less violent?

Obama says football needs to become less violent: report

1:40 AM  
Blogger Reader said...

I'm reading and I am keeping up, almost. The semester just starterd.

2:23 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Yeah, but u 4get that Obama is a douche bag. He dresses chic, but he's actually a douche bag. Hope you will join the Wafer movement to pee on his Guccis.


Well, Chris is a friend, and I respect his position; I just don't agree w/it. I agree w/Robt Bellah's concept of 'path dependency': there comes a pt where the fix is in, and you simply can't stop the ship from sinking. Or to switch metaphors, if you see an Abrams tank moving relentlessly towards a cliff, about to go over it, do you get in front of it and say "Stop!", or do you just get your ass out of the way? After all, it's going to plunge into the abyss with or w/o u. I feel terribly sad abt Rachel Corrie, for example, but I think she was kinda foolish. The truth is that it's very hard for Americans--even Noam Chomsky--to give up on America. The left keeps hoping against hope that somebody will pull a rabbit out of a hat at the last minute. Our last 'rabbit' was Obama, and look how that turned out! Or OWS, which these folks (amazingly enuf) continue to praise as effective. (Talk abt cognitive dissonance!) Well, I don't have a crystal ball (and neither do they), but I just don't think it's rocket science: we entered path dependency a long time ago, and the only way out is thru--which is to say, down. The scenario is not one of resurrection; rather, it's one of decay. And from the general, worldwide decay and collapse of capitalism--wh/won't happen overnight--from those ashes, a new socioeconomic system will eventually be born. I doubt the rebirth will be on American soil--places such as Japan and Europe are a whole lot more active in terms of alternative energy/currency/lifestyle expts than we are--but if history is abt one single thing, it's abt change. Meanwhile, I personally don't see the value of protest for protest's sake, wh/I regard as a symbolic gesture by now; but that's just me. (Occasionally I get this line of objection at my lectures, and I always say: "Hey, don' let *me* get in yr way. Knock yrself out! But let's talk in 10 yrs about how much social change you've managed to effect." This tends to make these folks a bit more reflective, because, you see, most Americans do know in their heart of hearts that its Game Over, and that there's fuck all they can do abt it.) Anyway, you won't find too many online videos of me, true; given my outlook, I'm not exactly persona grata. After all, I'm saying what everyone knows, but doesn't want to acknowledge. To quote Garrison Keillor, "Here in Lake Wobegon we look reality right in the eye and deny it."


Good thing u have yr fa and bro. In the meantime, pls put a little post-it on yr bathrm mirror, so you can see it every day: I LIVE AMONG DOLTS. Because you do, mon cher; you live among dolts, and let me tell u, there are a whole lot more of them than there are of you.

O&D, amigos, O&D!


3:15 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: I very much doubt Gary Wills has heard of WAF, but this is from his article in the NYRB, Jan. 21:

"The South escaped one of the worst character traits of America, its sappy optimism, its weakness of positive thinking. The North puffed confidently into the future, Panglossian about progress, always bound to win. But the South had lost. It knew there was an America that could be defeated. That made it capable of facing tragedy, as many in America were not. This improved its literature, but impoverished other things."

(As I note in WAF, C. Vann Woodward was pointing this out in the fifties.)

3:20 AM  
Blogger Barry Bliss said...

Have you read the latest Chris Hedges article?


"There are ample historical records that disprove the myths espoused by the neo-Confederates, who insist the Civil War was not about slavery but states’ rights and the protection of traditional Christianity. But these records are useless in puncturing their self-delusion, just as documentary evidence does nothing to blunt the self-delusion of Holocaust deniers."

Are you basiclly in agreement or would you say you see things somewhat differently?

5:13 AM  
Anonymous Golf Pro said...



5:44 AM  
Anonymous Bingo said...

MB said: “I don't include the UK in Europe. Neither do they, from what I understand! Anglo-Saxon culture is a world apart.”

In my experience, the main difference between England and Europe is that, as Woody Allen might say, in England “the food is terrible and the portions are too small.”


6:44 AM  
Blogger Zosima said...

From your Counterpunch article:
“The only problem is, without a positive vision of the good life, the good society, what are we? How could we be anything else except a ship without a rudder?”

America doesn’t have a positive vision, but do other countries really have a vision? If so, can you describe one that does? Not that there aren’t remnants of traditional cultures in many places, remnants that capitalism is rapidly exterminating, because it seems to me that nearly all countries are following the capitalist model, just as we are. You say “if history is about one thing, it’s about change.” I agree, and I’ve seen nothing but change for the worse, and no evidence that it will not continue. I also see no evidence of any “decay and collapse of capitalism”, but only it increasing in power everywhere. I do see lots of decay and collapse of people, communities, and ecosystems caused by capitalism, but capitalism’s job has always been to run right over them like that Abrams tank you mentioned. At this rate all life may be dead before any rebirth happens. Sure there are some tiny alternative activities like Mondragon in Spain, which has been around since the 1950’s, but then, we need to ask ourselves, is capitalism stronger or weaker in Spain since the 1950’s? In Europe?...

7:16 AM  
Blogger jml said...

i'm surprised no one else has mentioned or included a link to the following article by thomas friedman about his brilliant solution to the problem of high university tuition - make it cheap by making it online. from what i gather, fewer teachers teach more and more students who are located anywhere in the world where they can log onto a computer. who needs person to person interaction?


the best statement can be found in the comment section. "mr. friedman, your flat world looks like death valley."

7:37 AM  
Anonymous JWO said...


Good luck teaching! The profession runs in the family so to speak, my Mom, Dad, one Aunt and Brother-in-law all teach, and every one works nights and weekends.


The comments on that Wills essay are interesting, and show that a WAF-er discussion can out-do even the NYRB.

8:48 AM  
Anonymous ellen said...

Dr B,

I have never before come across the term 'path dependent' but it does more accurately describe the utterly erratic process of change that I have observed myself over the years than any easy pathway to better things.

I agree that the fix is a long time in, western civilisation has had its chips and there is little will or ability to stop the blindfolded march into oblivion.

My only hope is that those who come after us will take our example as a salutory lesson in how not to conduct their affairs, or at least try to get a bit of respite before the next bunch of megalomaniacs start casting a predatory eye on its neighbours.

9:03 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


The vision of the EU constitution was 15 (later, 25) countries living together in peace. But of course, Europe is basically abt consumerism, just not as keenly as the US, and does have many pockets of traditional culture. Cuba and Venezuela, of course, have a different vision than ours; so does China, really, but in a chilling version (authoritarian capitalism, dominated by the concept of 'harmony'). And finally, Scandanavia is a very compromised capitalist system, in which the purpose is not to make a bundle, but to live well. As for Mondragon, I fear it went the way of all flesh a long time ago, sad to say. But no, capitalism is not succeeding, worldwide; just the opposite. It is running out of resources, and it is creating huge political instability. In a word, it is eating itself alive, and all of this is generating the alternative experiments we've talked abt on this blog (Spain alone has 325 of them as of last August, according to an article in Common Dreams), and what I call the Dual Process. That's what I see as the dominant picture now, not the victory of capitalism. However, I don't have a crystal ball, and I'm sure that if we wind up in a green, eco-sustainable, decentralized place, it's going to take several decades to achieve. I see that, as a likely new socioeconomic formation, as our only hope; but of course, there are no guarantees. History is about change, but change is not necessarily better. For all any of us know, it cd be much worse.


Well, that's not my experience, and apparently not England's either. It's hardly an accident that they have basically been unwilling to join the EU, and have refused to adopt the euro; they see themselves as world's apart, and that's probably an accurate perception. Sure, both England and the EU are consumerist economies, but there remains a difference in Latin and Anglo-Saxon sensibilities, which is probably why England keeps refusing to get on the EU bandwagon. Also check out the Guardian article cited by Golf Pro, above (hilarious, in its own way).


Well, Chris is doing journalism, not history, so that passage glosses over a lot of things that need to be spelled out. Yes, in the fullness of time, as the War dragged on, it became about slavery as the rallying point for the Union cause; but as I show in WAF, and other historians do as well, it didn't start out that way. The crucial pt was a conflict of cultures, and this is stated even by Jas McPherson and Eric Foner, if you read them closely enuf (who are usually identified as being in the 'let freedom ring' school). This doesn't mean that slavery wasn't a horror and Reconstruction wasn't a failure, and Chris is certainly right to emphasize that. The danger, however, is that this overlooks the positive diffs the South had from the North, which Gary Wills pts out (see above), I pt out, Vann Woodward pts out, Gene Genovese...etc. It has cost us dearly, as a society, to see the South *only* thru the lens of slavery; and as I say in WAF, the scorched earth policy of the North became the model the US would extend to Vietnam, Iraq, and etc. Looking at the South thru Manichaean eyes has done the US a lot of harm, imo; which is why I was encouraged that Gary Wills wrote what he did. (He will probably be bombarded, as I was, with charges of 'racism', 'pro-slavery', etc.--Americans are not the sharpest nails in the box, as I keep telling u folks; complexity is literally, physically, beyond their neurological abilities.)


9:50 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: Speaking of 'let freedom ring':


10:12 AM  
Anonymous nicodemas said...

Doc B:

No human can survive the capitalists, including the capitalists (the only scrap of justice left).

AH, Shakespeare:

"Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more."

11:07 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


On verra, mon cher; on verra!


11:25 AM  
Anonymous The Mule said...

To: concerned in ca

I have similar concerns. I have an only child at home. I was against having children most of my adult life but late in my 30s, I could see my wife wanted to have a child and I had softened up on the idea (for some inexplicable reason). So I have a young child at home, who it turns out is of course ADD/ADHD and challenged learning-wise. Very bright, but reading and writing (especially the writing part) is a chore for him. School does not agree with him. I don't even know what to do for him right now, in terms of what the future will hold for him. I am not someone who has worked with his hands, being a software guy for most of my adult life, so it's not like I can teach him carpentry, or plumbing or welding. At least not without learning that stuff for myself. I do tell him and his friends that they we are living in strange and difficult times. My own standard of living having been ratcheted back to about the year 2002 or 2003, I am lucky to be able to provide for my family and cling to the bottom rung of the middle-class. The future doesn't look too great from where I sit. I don't want to dampen his enthusiasm for things, he already knows he's different, not great at school and I tend to tell him the truth about the world, at least as I see it. It's a dilemma.

11:26 AM  
Anonymous Daddy Issues said...

Another 'educational' toy.


They need to make accessories like handcuffs, a strip search curtain, and probing tools.

11:45 AM  
Blogger LJansen said...

MB, I'm wondering why you characterize Rachel Corrie as "foolish" for standing up for Palestinian rights, yet valorize Jimmy Carter, who did the same thing. You could say Carter was asking to be "run over" by the tank of right-wing Zionists and their supporters in the U.S. & Israel by writing that book "Peace Not Apartheid."

1:14 PM  
Anonymous TimR said...

I was wondering lately - suppose it's true we're at or near peak oil, and someday soon skyrocketing prices force massive social collapse as our current infrastructure no longer makes sense - would economic elites just try to manage it by insulating themselves, and letting the West's middle and working classes descend into the ranks of the global poor.. Or, would they turn to nuclear power to maintain some sort of semi- status quo. As far as I know, nuclear is only off the table for political reasons, perhaps including the entrenched power of the oil biz. But if "they" wanted to I'm sure they could sell it as an emergency measure. Then they could continue this whole shebang. Or am I missing something.

Susan W.- Re "children need childhood", how does Postman define childhood? If he doesn't want kids watching Ses. St., does he accept any forms of "entertainment", or what would he put in its place?

1:37 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I read where capitalism thrives in the common law socieities of the Anglosphere, including the U.S., and U.K., and that businesses much prefer the certainty of common law systems as opposed to continental civil law systems. So, at least from a legal standpoint, the U.K.'s system of common law historically has much more in common with the similar common law systems of the U.S. and Canada. Structurally, it makes sense that societies based on common law value capitalism highly, and that highly capitalistic societies would be based on common law. Common law is really worlds apart from civil law in so many ways....

2:03 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


You can be sure that whatever the rich need to do to maintain their position, they'll do. They're sociopaths, in a word. But there may come a time when they can't save even their own hides. Just a thought.


Same thing? Last time I checked, Jimmy was still alive.


Maybe u cd get him some regular lessons w/a craftsperson in yr community, if someone like that exists?

Meanwhile, chew on this, amigos:
"Neither 'Americanism' nor 'communism' is capable of overcoming the nihilism that the best thinkers of Europe confronted with anxiety, the abyss of nihility that opened up in the spiritual depths of the self and the world. For the time being they are managing to keep the abyss covered over, but eventually they will have to face it."
--Nishitani Keiji, "Religion and Nothingness" (1961)


3:03 PM  
Blogger Phlogiston Água de Beber said...


Just as true of Capitalism as it is of Fascism.

The century of Einstein and Planck was also the century of Hitler. The Gestapo and the scientific renaissance were children of the same age.
There is a terrible similarity between the principles of Fascism and those of contemporary physics.

Fascism has rejected the concept of a separate individuality, the concept of 'a man', and operates only with vast aggregates. Contemporary physics speaks of the greater or lesser probability of occurrences within this or that aggregate of individual particles. And are not the terrible mechanics of Fascism founded on the principle of quantum politics, of political probability?

Fascism arrived at the idea of the liquidation of entire strata of the population, of entire nations and races, on the grounds that there was a greater probability of overt or covert opposition among these groupings than among others: the mechanics of probabilities and of human aggregates.

But no! No! And again no! Fascism will perish for the very reason that it has applied to man the laws applicable to atoms and cobblestones!

Man and Fascism cannot co-exist. If Fascism conquers, man will cease to exist and there will remain only man-like creatures that have undergone an internal transformation. But if man, man who is endowed with reason and kindness, should conquer, then Fascism must perish, and those who have submitted to it will once again become people.

--Vasily Grossman Life and Fate

Fascism rested on the notion that the State led by infallible men could bring its adherents to Utopia. Provided their infallibility went unquestioned. Thus it became necessary to eliminate those who might raise questions.

Capitalism demands an ineffectual State whose leaders are guaranteed to be known as fallible. Whereas individual capitalists are also open to recognition of fallibility. The Markets are seen as taking all probabilities and collapsing them into a single wave. Thus, collectively capitalists are just as infallible as Fascists. Humanity comes off the same either way.

I hope this answers the question of why we can openly criticize the politicians and even Jaime and Lloyd without winning a free trip to gitmo. It makes them seem human. It's important to seem human, when you're not. As Grossman understood sixty some years ago, actual humanity is incompatible with domination by infallible systems, whatever they are called.

To flog the dead OWS horse one more time. They didn't ask Wall Street to shut down. They asked for a place at the table and that you can only get "the old fashioned way." You have to steal it.

4:12 PM  
Anonymous satyaSarika said...


Whatever Vassily Grossman's insights may be, I'm NOT putting him on my reading list. Comparisons of quantum mechanics and human social systems strike me as opportunist nonsense, whether they are done by New Age yokels, or other less reprehensible thinkers.

As to being able to openly criticize our dear leaders here in the states, I go for the simple explanation that they are not in the least threatened by any intelligent criticism, knowing that the vast hordes of dolts can be relied upon to be clueless as usual.

I am practicing peeing standing up, when I get a chace to go the for the Guccis!

4:53 PM  
Anonymous Kevin said...

In my view the money line from the Chris Hedges article on the South was: "The steady rise of ethnic nationalism over the past decade, the replacing of history with mendacious and sanitized versions of lost glory, is part of the moral decay that infects a dying culture."

Also love the illustration.

4:55 PM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

Anyone see the short NY Times Magazine interview with Ray Kurzweil?


A perfect example of someone who's technically smart (in a very narrow way) but doesn't have a clue about basic humanity. Enough technical advances & we'll all live forever in a super-scientific Utopia! There's no need to worry about anything ever again!

Mark Slouka's excellent War of the Worlds explores this type of techno-magical thinking & its basic dread of messy human existence. I've heard people say they're not worried about peak oil, because science can always come up with new energy sources. I've heard some claim that science will just manufacture as much fresh air & water as we'll ever need.

As to what actual human life would be like in such a future ... tumbleweeds rolling by to the chirping of crickets. These types, held up as exemplars of Progress, have no concept of what a real human life is, do they?

5:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shane - the UK does not have a 'common law ' system. England does, Scotland does not. The UK is the United Kingdom of Scotland and England - with two different legal systems, educational systems etc. Scotland's law is continental and systemic - England's is the mediaeval precedent system which was adopted in the USA.

Just to be clear.

The Cathar

5:11 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


True, but equally dangerous is forgetting the values that did exist, and/or blotting them out of existence. Hence, Vann Woodward, Gene Genovese...I guess I just hafta keep saying these things over and over, because of the Manichaean way Americans think. I'll get thru to them when pigs fly. I guess, as w/est and the OWS, we need to retire this topic, and focus on the Latvian Orthodox Church once again. God, those sons of bitches; I'm gritting my teeth.


Those shoes are far too dry, and need to be vigorously hosed down. Wafers: pls pick a date when we can all converge on the W.H.


5:13 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and fellow Wafers,


You got that right! My brother-in-law, a very bright scientist with the humanity of an ant, is always trying to get me to read Kurzweil. I'm too nice of a guy to tell him that I want to urinate on his Kurzweil library.


Regarding the significance of dangerous utopian ideals, see John Gray's book, "Black Mass: Apocalyptic Religion and the Death of Utopia." He provides a window into what's on deck for us all. Along with MB's trilogy about the United States, Gray's work is a *must* read for all Wafers, Lurkers and Assorted Shirkers.

Dr. Berman-

American detachment and casual acquiescence about the realities of drone warfare and the fact that they will be used against them in the future is absolutely terrifying. We Wafers are keenly aware that CRE Americans and the national security surveillance state have been gunning for total domination and a state of perpetual paranoia since 1947, yet the speed at which this is occurring now is simply astounding. That being said, however, urinating anywhere near the WH, the prez., Mittney, or the Pentagon will be photographed by a drone... sent to a human drone... and, well... you know.... (Sigh) We could all be in big, big twubble.


A society that arms its children with guns and gives them assault weapons and ammo for Christmas is not long for this world. Thanks for the NY Times link.


6:50 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


There is a kind of exponential or logorithmic factor that gets triggered when an empire starts to crumble, for some reason. They tend to do precisely the opposite of what they shd be doing, if they want to prolong their existence; and, they tend to do it with greater frenzy, as their time runs out. As the decline speeds up, in other words, so does the repression, and the self-destructive behavior. If u think it's ugly now, just imagine the US 5-10 yrs down the road.


7:02 PM  
Anonymous ennobled little day said...



As a high school science teacher, I think I'll be fine in the short term. My beginning salary will be up to twice as much as that of a community college adjunct instructor.

It's the medium and long term that worries me. I'm told that I will not earn as much as current teachers. Current 40 year veterans earn up to $70K/year. Probably a bit higher in large metro areas. Supposedly, given current trends, I can expect to earn up to $50K/year by the time I reach their age. (Assuming the country doesn't fall off the edge, etc.)

7:02 PM  
Blogger LJansen said...

MB, Jimmy Carter has secret service protection. Rachel didn't.

7:24 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


A lotta gd that wd have done Rachel Corrie. There remains a difference between a real bulldozer and a metaphorical one, yes? You know this, right? Why are we even discussing this?


8:13 PM  
Blogger PedroC. said...

Re: Kurzweil

I think you should read his works. He is an incredibly intelligent man who is also completely clueless on social issues, which makes it all the more interesting.

He represents the other possible end to this decline: while the fall of capitalism is inevitable, the outcome is still in the air. We could enter a new dark age and have a new system emerge from the ruins or we could be living the end of humanity, not just capitalism. His technological predictions have been somewhat accurate and he estimates that strong AI (human-level artificial intelligence) will be brought to existence by the early 2020's. His utopian, techno-religious ways lead him to believe that this AI, coupled with the amazing and ever-progressing advances in biotech, nanotech and robotics will usher us into a new age of Abundance. More cynical (realist) thinkers would argue that once we've made thinking machines our role in evolution is over.

While I agree with his views on the exponential rate of technological advances, I don't agree with his outcome.

I can corroborate his technological forecasts in my field (biotech). We can do things now that would've been impossible just 10-15 years ago, and there are many advances just around the corner that will border on magical.

Of course, progress in technology does not mean actual human progress, which is the vital truth the techno-religious don't seem to grasp. I fear that technology is using us, meme-like, to reach the silicon mind and then will quickly discard us for the 'better' model.

9:53 PM  
Anonymous in.fern.all said...


I agree with you about the general direction technological progress is taking us but don't assign any kind of predeterminative intent or consciousness on its part. Whether commoners survive will depend, as always, on their usefulness to the ruling elite, which should prove interesting as the econonmy continues to automate.


I second MB's suggestion of a craft class for your child. From my experience working with hyperactive people, physical engagement with the world, especially to constructive ends seems to help calm them and provide a way to focus. Wouldn't hurt to try. As for yourself, it's never to late to learn manual skills. Many community colleges have continuing education programs in such things, from basic handyman up through specifics like carpentry, plumbing, etc.

11:59 PM  
Blogger Reader said...

jml said, "I'm surprised no one else has mentioned or included a link to the following article by thomas friedman about his brilliant solution to the problem of high university tuition - make it cheap by making it online."

I counsel students and I can tell you for a fact, after many years of experience, that fewer, far fewer, than 50% of college/university students are successful online learners. Online education is not a blanket solution. I will also say that for many disciplines, not a solution at all.

To The Mule, don't let your son have one more bite of junk food or processed food of any kind; clean out your kitchen and buy clean and organic food in its whole food form. Yes, it makes a huge difference, I've witnessed it. Trying this is cheaper than the drugs and eating simply, costs less. If it doesn't work, good luck.

12:44 AM  
Anonymous Martin Ramirez said...

(My comment is too long. I will upload the rest tomorrow.)
@Zero and Michael: I am guilty of brashness. I am LGBT myself, and your gay friends certainly must be wonderful people, but I have to admit that I don't find what often passes for the social scene very comforting. Singling out groups was a poor decision, but I wanted to illustrate American decline and self-indulgence from my own angle. I beg your pardon, late as I may be.
One detail I find amusing in this whole ordeal is that you rarely find a middle ground in American politics anymore. You can't just be tolerant and accepting of sexuality anymore. You are either a reactionary Puritan, or you are a sleazy hedonist. More and more people seem to be taken in by this insane political/social polarization every day.
@Morris: My own father has often fallen under the throes of fundamentalist Catholicism, global warming denial and New-Age "think positively and you'll become wealthy" balderdash. As you can judge from my two examples, my own close connections aren't exactly doing well either.
Modern Americana also reminds me of the Devil card from the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck. So intoxicated are the Adams and Eves with their distractions and temptations, they no longer even know they exist in degraded, oppressive circumstances while a monstrous-looking gargoyle keeps them as prisoners in an ominous dark void, even possibly the underworld itself. The manner in which the Devil spills the flames from the torch of enlightenment, being the materialistic creature that he is, could be considered a parallel to the increasing marginalization of the intellect and the appreciation of beauty and depth today. Not just that, but in hindsight, the cranial-rectal embedment probably was not helped by the lack of a humanistic education. We on this blog, Chris Hedges and the great Joe Bageant (rest in peace) were most definitely luckier than the majority.
May you all learn from the collapse and grow.

1:46 AM  
Blogger NearFar said...

Hello fellow Wafers,

Sign me up for this Slouching Toward Washington Tour! We got some territory to mark!

Yep. Something to look forward to. 'Cause we are just "Biden" our time. It's over kids. But who's listening? (hey dude, set your cell phone on vibrate for just one second, Ok? Cause I got something to tell you: it's over. As in: Exhaustion & Collapse over. As in "we are Toast over"... ya know, set your ring-tone to this one: "Elvis has left the building" (and we aint't talkin' 'bout young beautiful Elvis).

And the rest of the world? Are they upset, confused, flabbergasted? Well, know this, cause Blowback is a bitch: they can't wait to shout it from the roof tops some day: "America has left the Building!"

Fat, Bloated, bleary-eyed, over the hill America..that one..not the younger version with so much promise...yeah, yeah God Bless the U$A).

And so as we prepare for our grand excursion and March on the White House (or Yellow House when we get thru) here's another signpost marking our pitiful march off the cliff. A link to a news item about the inauguration.

Most of the Dolts out there are still talking about Beyonce Lip-syncing the Nat'l Ant'um.

Well la-dee-freakin'-da.

But we WAFers are payin' attention. We are patient. We know how to dig deeper. Because Beyonce ain't the only lip-syncing going on.

Check out this article if you can:


Good luck,


P.S. And don't forget what William Carlos Williams said about poetry: "It is difficult to get the news from poems yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there."

3:11 AM  
Anonymous ellen said...

Pedro said:

'...technology is using us, meme-like, to reach the silicon mind and then will quickly discard us for the 'better' model.'

This has already happened, at least in war technology with the development of the first completely AI drone.


Which may go some way to explaining the heavy investment in perpetual warfare as its the only 'growth' area of manufacturing left and happily dispenses with messy human workers and artificers--except, of course, as targets for the technology.

4:14 AM  
Anonymous Bingo said...

Re: Kurzweil,
To me, Kurzweil and the transhumanists in general represent the scariest element of the elites. Once they manage to transcend our biological limitations, expand their minds, and extend their lives, I would expect 99% of homo sapiens to be deemed redundant, and then hunted down and exterminated with drones. So, an economic collapse, a new Dark Age and a return to neo-feudalism would suit such a “master race” just fine. This seems to be the general direction, anyway.

@ The Mule,
ADD/ADHD is a totally manufactured disorder, like much of the DSM, in order to sell drugs. The effects of drugging children and adolescents is that today we have 34 times (3400%) more children and adolescents on SS disability due to mental illness than we did in 1987, before this massive medication of children began.

Why not try a total change in lifestyle? Go 100% organic food, move to a house closer to nature, get a pet or two, get rid of the TV and video games, and spend lots of time as a family. And, if your child is on medication, stop taking him to psychiatrists, get a good book on how to wean him off of the meds, but do that very carefully as the withdrawals can be very dangerous. A good book about this is: “Your Drug May Be Your Problem: How and Why to Stop Taking Psychiatric Medications” by M.D. Peter Breggin and David Cohen (Breggin is one of the most adamantly anti-medication psychiatrist in the US). Finally, emigrating to a saner country may not be a bad idea either – it is amazing how much happier children are in any other country other than the US.

I have a young child too, and believe me, every time we come to the US, she becomes depressed and for a month of two acts like she has ADHD. Once we return to Europe, she miraculously becomes the most well-adjusted kid in the world. America is a terrible place for children and adolescents.


5:36 AM  
Blogger jml said...

here's a sheriff advocating for citizens to arm themselves rather than rely on police.

i can't help but think that the current media obsession with gun control will have the effect of making our society more violent rather than less.


in this late stage of capitalism, are social programs like education and police becoming something we can no longer afford? will everything be do-it-yourself?

8:08 AM  
Anonymous Nicodemus said...

Maybe climate change won't get us first?

This is way better than peeing on shoes.



8:22 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Gd article. In general, I think Obama is following the Clinton pattern of focusing on identity issues as a way of distracting the American people from issues of power, wealth, and control. Of course, Americans are already preoccupied with lip-synching and Michelle's haircut, instead of with genocide and the corporate plutocracy; but identity issues invariably get them all worked up. Clinton was a master at it: he somehow convinced black people that he 'felt their pain', at the same time that the minimum wage didn't rise and the gap between rich and poor got wider. So his office is in Harlem; big deal. Obama and the gay Latino poet seem to fall into the same category. And it works, it works. Let's blow hot air over the culture wars, while the military and the corporations secure their hold on the nation, and we murder kids in Afghanistan.


8:30 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


My kinda guy, w/o a doubt. We never *did* stop being Dodge City, did we?


8:59 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

“Any government, however despotic, is based upon people’s opinions.”--David Hume

10:36 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

This American Life Dept.:


10:53 AM  
Anonymous Stone said...

The quotation from Nishitani Keiji's "Religion and Nothingness" (1961) is basically Heidegger's position, although Heidegger stated his assessment of Americanism and communism much earlier.

11:30 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


True, except that the diffs between MH and the Kyoto School are fundamental, and discussed in great detail in the philosophical lit.


11:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find articles of this sort really frustrating. Apart from the fact that Reich only sees consumer capitalism as an option, what really frustrates is how he gives Obama a complete pass. In fact, if all you knew of Obama's economic policy was what you heard from Robert Reich you'd be led to believe he was Eugene Debs or a member of the IWW.



11:57 AM  
Anonymous Shane W said...

Mittney was robbed of the election, I tell you! Had this been in place, our beloved Mittney would have won! And think of the future repercussions, by making it possilble for the GOP to win the presidency, yet still lose the popular vote by, say, 5-10%, makes the path that much easier for any of our favs like Sarah, Michele, Rick, or Herman to get in an really take things over the edge. I think this congressional district voting is something WAFers really need to get behind,
Shane W

12:28 PM  
Anonymous Shane W said...

Oops, might help if I included the link:
Shane W

12:29 PM  
Anonymous satyaSarika said...

Regarding the toy airport scanner:
The one star reviews on Amazon show many sympatica with WAFers: http://www.amazon.com/PLAYMOBIL%C2%AE-36138-Playmobil-Security-Check/product-reviews/B0002CYTL2/ref=cm_cr_dp_qt_hist_one?ie=UTF8&filterBy=addOneStar&showViewpoints=0

They're quite a fun read. It's also just a wee bit comforting that they outnumber the 5 star reviews.

For anyone who's following the John Gray reference, that's John N. Gray, NOT the John Gray responsible for 'Men are From Mars: Woman are from Venus'

Re: Vassily Grossman: I looked him up on Wiki and it certainly looks like he had much to offer; I got turned off by the analogy of human affairs to quantum mechanics as that's been done to death by the New Agers.

3:38 PM  
Anonymous Jascus said...

The land of the insane and dumbL


3:58 PM  
Anonymous Marcos said...

Xiale, please disregard Robert Reich because he is trying to sell some books. The link you provided, http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/01/29-2 , has this about him:

"Robert Reich has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton"

When he was destroying the American economy via outsourcing in 1990's, Sir James Goldsmith was warning about outsourcing and globalization:


4:09 PM  
Anonymous The Dude said...

Here is yet another disturbing statistic about the empire's imperial legions that has gone virtually unnoticed:

"...perhaps the most condemning evidence against claims about men’s biological impulse to help female soldiers is the prevalence of violence against women in the American military. According to military statistics, there were 19,000 sexual assaults in 2010. For context, 462 soldiers died in combat that same year."


And yet our bedwetting mainstream liberals and progressives, most of whom have never served in the military themselves, would lead you to believe that allowing gays to serve openly and allowing women to serve in combat roles is a shining example of America's continuing march to enlightenment. When the arguments over who is allowed to do the killings become far louder than the arguments over whether the killings themselves are at all justified, you know there is no hope that America will ever pull out of its downward trajectory.

4:38 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Well, apparently she did treat him w/disrespect. It's for the same reason that I keep writing the Pentagon that we need to nuke Paris and Toronto. Neither France, nor Canada, have shown the US the respect that we certainly deserve. What in the world are we waiting for?


And on a similar note, let me quote the immortal words of that great humanitarian, Madeleine Albright: "What's the pt of having this great Army, if yr not gonna use it?" My kinda gal.

The fact is that the Death Instinct, like Don DeLillo's "Toxic Event," hangs over the US like a dark and omnipresent cloud, and it seeps into the minute details of our lives: TV shows, kids' toys, relations with co-workers, our sex lives. As the medieval alchemists never tired of saying, the macrocosm reflects the microcosm, and vice versa. Can any of u imagine what the US is going to look like in 10 yrs' time? Because it's not like any of these trends are going to be arrested. To do that, you need to have reflexivity on both the macro and the micro levels, and reflexivity takes intelligence. End of story.


5:54 PM  
Anonymous sanctuary! said...

Apparent bestsellers, recently spotted in a Books-a-Million:

The Joy of Hate: How to Triumph over Whiners in the Age of Phony Outrage

Demonic: How the Liberal Mob Is Endangering America

I Am John Galt: Today's Heroic Innovators Building the World and the Villainous Parasites Destroying It

Someone should dig up Streicher's paper and stitch together a book from it, replacing "Jew" w/ a neoliberal or Randian epithet of choice (such as "liberal" or "unions" or "Marxists") and submit it to publishers. The results might be instructive.


6:10 PM  
Blogger Mark Fuller Dillon said...

The Dude wrote:

"When the arguments over who is allowed to do the killings become far louder than the arguments over whether the killings themselves are at all justified, you know there is no hope that America will ever pull out of its downward trajectory."

That must be one of the more haunting comments I've read this year: it's a perspective that seems utterly foreign, utterly unthinkable, in today's corporate media and White House.

6:31 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

A line from the work of French historian Ernst Renan: "A nation's existence is an everyday plebiscite."

6:35 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


“Imperial expansion as an emotional projection of the self magnified the insignificant individual and received his fanatic support. Despair deriving from the narrow confines of the citizen’s freedom and the straits of his economic life found compensation in the nation’s foreign expansion.” (From Maruyama Masao, 'Nationalism in Japan', 1951.)

Sound familiar?

6:41 PM  
Anonymous Bingo said...

Obamacare at its finest:

“Suspect in killing of California urologist had incontinence after prostate surgery”


All I’ve got to say about that is: Bingo!

6:58 PM  
Blogger Phlogiston Água de Beber said...


I'm glad you at least gave Grossman a look. Not that it's anything to me whether you read him or not. BTW, he wasn't comparing QM to social systems. What he wrote was that Fascists (he didn't mention Communists in the same breath, but it's implicit in the story) relied on the same principle to justify their policies of mass murder.

However you choose to view it, that was only a few paragraphs out of 900+ pages of the best literature I've ever read (not finished yet). Not that I'm any noteworthy critic of literature.

The Kremlin crowd thought highly enough of it to say that it could probably be published in 2 or 3 hundred years. The KGB arrested the manuscripts, but not the author, however Grossman had given one to someone they would never have a reason to connect with him and it got out.

I did the wiki check on John N. Gray and he certainly seems worthy of respect. I may read the recommended work, though it isn't very probable. With regard to revelations about the horrors of Utopian Movements, as one old warrior used to say about those with firsthand knowledge, Grossman had been to the other side of the hill and seen the elephant. He was a war correspondent for the Red Army newspaper and a Ukrainian Jew.

Spoiler Alert: Grossman believed the key to survival of humanity was, kindness.

Regarding MB's question as to what the US might look like in 10 years or so. If backs-to-the-wall capitalist creeps make a Hindenburg choice (Hitler 2.0), it might start to look a bit like the Stalinist USSR and 3rd Reich as pictured in Life and Fate. Hmmm, methinks the differences have already started to fade.

O&D, kindness probably can't stop it, but I was convinced before finding Grossman and I recommend it.

7:30 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

CRE Dept.:


9:32 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

What's Shakin' Dr. Berman and fellow Wafers?


I listened to an in-depth interview with author Nick Turse, author of "Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam," yesterday on the Terry Gross radio program. It was an amazing interview. You can access the interview through the NPR website.

Bingo and PedroC-

Regarding transcending biology, immortality, the singularity, and other Kurzweil Hocus Pocus, truth be told, he wants to deny me one of the great pleasures I will have in this short life; attending Dick Cheney's funeral. If there's one schmuck who would take Kurzweil's offer of living forever, it would be him. Think about a wrinkled, hunched over, bionic, and half silicone Cheney refusing to push up daisies. Man, that gives me the creeps!


I love your poem and you can count on me to deliver a mighty stream on the banks of the Potomac when we Wafers hit Washington. By the way, Elvis had a big hit in the early 1970s with a song called... "It's Over." Maybe we ought to play it while we tour DC.

Dr. Berman-

Thanks for your thoughts and message received loud and clear. As the crumble and crack-up intensifies, I really do have to think about exiting the US... stage left.


9:56 PM  
Blogger Phlogiston Água de Beber said...


Part of it is true. God passes the spreads to bookies via his earthly representatives in the Latvian Orthodox Church. They finance their lavish accommodations and smokin' headgear by taking a cut of the profits. Americans are not the sharpest knives in the drawer, but they do know their sports, and gambling.

10:01 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Yeah, I forgot abt the LOC connection. I wonder if George Costanza is involved in this, in any way.


10:58 PM  
Blogger Phlogiston Água de Beber said...


Oh yes, George acts as a messenger delivering the spreads to a number of NY bookies. Of course, he doesn't realize that's what he is doing. All it took to recruit him was a vague promise that someday he'd get one of those coveted hats.

1:51 AM  
Anonymous Stone said...

Re. Heidegger and the Kyoto School:

Dear MB,

I do not know the Kyoto School, and I defer to your knowledge of the matter.

I was merely speaking about the Americanism and communism issue and how remarkably far-seeing Heidegger was about the similarities between the two ideologies, a fact that is becoming more and more obvious, as America undoes itself, as authors such as Dmitry Orlov have pointed out in their books.

The same is true of Heidegger's warnings about the ecocide that industrialism brings with it (in fact, Americanism and communism are both varieties of industrialism). Too bad, he did not see through National Socialism.

Incidentally, Orlov has just published the book he has been working on for the past five years: "The Five Stages of Collapse: Survivors' Toolkit."


5:06 AM  
Anonymous satyaSarika said...

Kindness as a guiding principle might well be enough. Dalai lama says, "My religion is kindness."

If we practiced kindness as our guiding principle, that alone would probably be enuf to create a sustainable economy and end crushing poverty and famine.

It probably *is* just that simple; apparently we have some fatal flaw that lets the least capable and most ruthless (in terms of survival with dignity) run the show. Still, we have the example of Jean Bertrand Aristide and some others.... Evo Morales, perhaps? Jimmy Carter ... Perhaps Dilma Roussef?

I just finished MB's 'Coming to our Senses'. I'm finding MB's consciousness trilogy much more challenging than the more recent trilogy on US. I'm reading in reverse order, having recently finished the superb "Wandering God". The CTOS is very dense for me because its erudition is way beyond my educational experience, but the concepts are clear enough.

For me it was was hard to get going with CTOS, but by the end I was utterly fascinated and happy to think so hard. I hadn't thought much about the Nazis since I read "Mass Psychology of Fascism" and of course thinking of the modern US in terms of Fascism. Seeing fascism in terms of heresy is a new POV for me.

I recommend the the CTOS to any who haven't read it. It's a harder read than Wandering God because the chapters lack subtitles, but very thought provoking.

6:50 AM  
Blogger jml said...


Regarding "America is a terrible place for children and adolescents."

The following essay "Loving Children: A Design Problem" by David Orr, professor of Environmental Studies at Oberlin does a great job of explaining why this is.


A quote from the essay, "Over and over we profess our love for our children, but the evidence says otherwise. Rarely do we work with them. Rarely do we mentor them. We teach them few practical skills. At an early age they are deposited in front of mind-numbing television and later in front of computers. And we are astonished to learn that in large numbers they neither respect adults nor are they equipped with the basic skills and aptitudes necessary to live responsible and productive lives. Increasingly, they imitate the values they perceive in us with characteristic juvenile exaggeration."

His solution is to design places and life in a way that accords with nature/ecology, our disconnect has made us and our kids crazy.

7:12 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Nishitani was a Kyoto Schl philosopher, studied w/Heidegger 1937-39. Hopefully u won't need a tool kit in Switzerland.


Glad u enjoyed it. It has pictures, at least.


9:23 AM  
Anonymous failedevolution said...

The totalitarianism of the one-dimensional culture and slow death :


10:35 AM  
Anonymous For What it's Worth said...


There are places for children that 'accord with nature/ecology.'
Here is Santa Fe, NM, we have our kids in a Waldorf school, which has an emphasis on being in nature, gardening, camping, as well as a focus on dance, art, music, history. Academics are introduced slowly at first, and often taught 'kinesthetically' (clapping and moving while learning multiplication tables) and while the kids are behind other school kids during the first few grades, by 6th and 7th they are often ahead, and even enjoy learning.
But it's not cheap, even with a generous tuition assistance program. A high percentage of the kids come from 'hustler' families (or 'trustafarians') so their home environments may lack common sense boundaries or real emotional connection. Still, it's better than the institutional hell that is our current public school system.
Dr. Berman, do you know about Waldorf (there are something like 600 schools in 90 countries) and what is your take on this form of alternative education?

10:54 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

In the coming age of Endless Technoglogical Progress, writer Michael Ventura asks, "What are human beings for?"


And that seems to be the crux of all the discussion here: what does it mean to be human? I mean, truly human? What is a good & meaningful life?

The American answer seems to be a combination of power, consumption, profit, hedonism. What can be done, what can be taken or stolen, will be. For what purpose? Simply MORE. And when there's nothing left to take or steal or own or eat, what then?

They don't have an answer for that. The very question is completely alien to them. In fact, the idea of a reasonably whole human being & a genuinely human life is equally alien.

Recommended reading: Erich Fromm's The Heart of Man: Its Genius for Good and Evil.

10:58 AM  
Anonymous TimR said...

This blog entry by Jim Reed (proprietor of the Museum of Fond Memories) reads like something that could have been posted here:

1:36 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

What it's Worth-

Yes, I do know abt Waldorf, Rudolf Steiner, etc. A gd thing for kids up to abt 11-12 yrs of age, I think.


1:42 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

Thanks for that link, jml.

"A landscape organized for the convenience of the automobile and trivial consumption tells young people more about our real values than anything taught in school."

2:17 PM  
Anonymous Swordfish said...

Wow, so much here! I'll comment on poetry though, becos i likes it... Christian, great article about poetry, and yes, as MB says, the culture wars are stoked to a fever pitch mostly to distract us from what's going on. When I say anything like that to anybody I get a completely blank stare, like I suddenly sprouted a fake tan and turned into John the Boner.

I don't think poetry is dead though, although a lot of it lately seems to fall into that mode of "wistful celebration of America," that American poets are so full of (gag me), plus an almost studious avoidance of the political. WHy? Because it's hard to look America in the face and still feel like writing poetry (or doing anything creative for that matter). MB I can see why you feel more creative having emigrated. In fact, Henry Miller said the same thing, he couldn't write a word until he got to France, and that was back in the 30s I believe.

But, poetry ain't dead. I've been reading some Gerald Stern lately, and he, besides being an amazing poet, also manages to include the political without in any way losing his lyric force. Check out his poem "Voltage" for example. But he's a really old guy so maybe it takes age, and America won't let anyone grow up anymore, we're all supposed to stay YOUNG in addition to garnering more and more stuff. Sheesh, I almost feel as if I can see Delillo's toxic cloud, growing worse, and everyone checking out more & more, faces sucked into their little techno devices. It's not pretty. (and I have to now read DeLillo...as well as numerous other books mentioned on this site!)

But, sigh. There's always the WUIU! Let freedom rain (yellow).

2:38 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Spkg of bks, u might wanna pick up a copy of "The Yellow River," by I.P. Daily. Yes, poetry lives!


2:49 PM  
Anonymous The Dude said...

And here we have the sad story of a Cuban immigrant who found out the hard way what modern America is really all about:

"An elderly Georgia man has been charged with shooting dead a Cuban immigrant who mistakenly turned into his driveway on Saturday night.

"The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that 69-year-old Phillip Walker Sailors has been arrested and charged with murder after allegedly shooting Rodrigo Abad Diaz, a 22-year-old Cuban immigrant, in the driveway of his Lilburn home.

"Passengers in Diaz's car told police they were on their way to pick up a friend to go ice skating around 10:00 p.m. on Saturday when their GPS navigation system directed them to the wrong address. As they briefly stopped in Sailors' driveway, the Vietnam veteran and former missionary came out of his house with a .22 revolver and allegedly fired two shots. One was a warning, the other struck Diaz in the side of his head. Diaz died the following morning at a local hospital; the three passengers in his car were uninjured.

'Angie Rebolledo, Diaz's 17-year-old girlfriend, says that as she tended to the stricken victim Sailors offered no assistance and showed no remorse. Sailors also allegedly held the three passengers, all students at Parkview High School, at gunpoint until police arrived."

Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/342420#ixzz2JUReoheO

A heavily armed missionary who shoots first, ask questions later (if at all) and shows no remorse for his actions--yep, that's America in a nutshell.

2:51 PM  
Blogger Phlogiston Água de Beber said...


Are you sure that wasn't P. Little More? I'd almost swear that's what I heard long ago.

3:16 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Maybe it was P. Allday Long; I can't remember.


What a terrible thing, that a 22-yr-old boy gets murdered for nothing, except for being caught up in very typical American pathology. I guess we can expect to see Sailors running for public office b4 too long.


4:22 PM  
Anonymous Bingo said...

All in a day’s work:

“Chicago Teen Who Performed At Obama’s Inaugural Events Fatally Shot”

“Six people injured in Phoenix, Arizona mass shooting:

Ah well, just an average day in America.
And wait, it’s not even 3 PM in California.


5:33 PM  
Blogger Phlogiston Água de Beber said...

Not only a terrible thing for young Mr Diaz and his companions, but I think not just typical American pathology. What happened here is an example of the GPS having given itself an enhancement to its original mission. Now it can not only assist in raining death from above onto helpless populations, it can also steer helpless motorists into death from a front porch.

So, where are the calls to pee on the shoes (probably not Guccis) of Roger L. Easton, the inventor of the Devil's Own Pitchfork?

5:53 PM  
Anonymous Jascus said...

The Dude, thanks for the story about the 22-year old shot dead for nothing.

The killer, Sailors, did what he was told to do by people like Hannity of Fox News and Rush Limbaugh of talk radio. They whip up fear and hatred in the minds of these people that "strange-looking" immigrants are coming to take over their inheritance and properties. So they stockpile guns and live in fear. Imagine shooting somebody simply because they drove up to their driveway. Sick people!

6:20 PM  
Blogger Reader said...

Here's an oxymoron for you:
"AIG To Teach Ethics at Sonoma State University." AIG, a corporate criminal, also funded SSU's new "Center for Ethics, Law, and Society," thereby, corporatizing the public CSU system in CA. Further evidence that higher education is in serious decline.

Sonoma State Univ. was one of the most radical colleges back in the day; a leader and in the forefront of the Viet Nam demonstrations and long after.
I know, I was there.


10:37 PM  
Anonymous Bingo said...

I am amazed by the rapid increase in mass shootings across the US. Could it be that we have reached some kind of societal “critical mass” that triggered a spontaneous “chain reaction of craziness” that might greatly speed up the collapse? Kind of like an atomic wacko-fission bomb. Are you aware of any theoretical provision for such a process? Please say “yes” -- I really can’t take the snail pace of this “decline” anymore.

I can see Dick Cheney devolving into a Darth Vader kind of character, if he had the chance. Personally, I don’t buy into that transhumanism, singularity bullshit. In a former career I used to be a computer engineer, and despite the great promises we’ve all heard over the past 40 or so years, we have made about as much progress in the field of *true* artificial intelligence as Dick Cheney has made toward Jesus. Our computer/software science is totally dead end and we have no alternative paradigms. We’ve also just about reached the limits of silicon. And our understanding of biology and the processes behind most cellular and diseases processes is extremely limited -- just take any medical book and look up the etiology (cause) of most diseases, and you’ll see “unknown” everywhere. We’re pretty clueless about everything (although you won’t hear that from Kurzweil). As such, I would venture to say that if WAFers manage to remain alive for another 15 or 20 years or so, we’ll all get the pleasure of reading the obituaries of most of these immortality-delusional uber-techno-buffoons (UTB).

Here’s another recent article about the corporatization of higher education. I teach too, but have become pretty cynical about the whole American higher education. To survive, I adopted this motto: “milk it while it lasts!”

"How Our Universities Have Been Turned into Corporate Marketing Centers"


3:08 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I was thinking abt that recently, in fact, that these school massacres and such might start to snowball. Americans are in huge amts of pain, and might increasingly lash out in a whole # of ways, esp. given the fact that they are not very bright and so are unable to figure out who and what is causing that pain. Certainly, the sheer # of ueber-buffoons is increasing on a daily basis. (I even see it in the pattern of emails and blog messages I get now, as opposed to 7 yrs ago, when the blog started. Complete strangers are hurt and angry, and if I'm not willing to 'take care' of them, they react by being abusive. It really does feel like a trend.) There will be more massacres in the future, of course, but whether it will amount to a 'fission reaction' is hard to say. However, we did have exactly that process occurring in the financial world in 2008, and suffered a knockout punch that we never really recovered from. This will certainly happen again, since the president is committed to catering to the wealthy, and chose to appoint neoliberal economic advisers in the wake of that crash. The same factors that led up to 2008--CDOs, derivatives, credit-default swaps and so on--are still operating. So altho the next bubble may not be in the housing industry, it will be somewhere (read Matt Taibbi), and will constitute another knockout punch. Keep in mind that Rome was not built in a day, and also didn't collapse in 24 hrs either. Most days were like any other days in a slow process of disintegration, but punctuated by sackings by the Vandals, Visigoths, and such until it was no longer really Rome. It didn't just 'collapse' at 2 p.m., Aug. 4, A.D. 476 or whatever. In addition, the US is nested inside of capitalism in general, and that beast is coming apart worldwide, but slowly (will take rest of 21stC). Things may not be all that dramatic, in short, tho I can assure you of this: by 2025 or 2030, we shall be looking at a very different USA--a caricature, perhaps, of what it once was. (The outlines of that are obvious even now: universities as corporations, rising police and surveillance state, endless wars against nonexistent enemies, meaningless political elections, etc. Nobody is really directing any of this anymore; in systems theory, this is known as 'runaway'.)


7:39 AM  
Anonymous nicodemus said...

The neat thing about this blog is being on the inside...to be able to explain all that is happening.

To laugh at things. To scoff at the dolts. To realize real justice is on the way, "in a mighty stream" and that there is really "Power in the Blood".


8:06 AM  
Anonymous JWO said...

More in the palm-to-the-forehead department from my neighbors in Wiscon-insane:


The ironies abound (or is that paradoxes), the Sheriff is black, a democrat and apparently doesn't know his job very well (i.e. the Sheriff dept. doesn't respond to 911 calls).

O&D indeed ... I gotta get the hell outta this country, though my best shot is Canada and I wonder how different that would really be.

8:55 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Well, I'm not sure abt 'blood', but I do know that it's possible to see the story of the US (and of capitalism, and more generally of modernity) as a narrative. Imagine how different things wd be, if instead of a nation of 315 million angry, hurting morons we had a nation of 315 million people who understood just the bare minimum of history and sociology. In WAF I wrote that it was unlikely that even 200,000 people in the whole country would be able to grasp what I was talking abt, what my take on the American narrative was. In fact, I doubt there are that many who can even define the word 'narrative'. It is this blindness, this life-under-water, that enables me to refer to "the fix is in," or Robt Bellah's concept of "path dependence," because if you are incapable of reflexivity, of grasping your own situation, then you simply cannot escape from it--no how, no way. And the depth of this ignorance is most visible in the so-called 'progressives', the putative Left in this country, who still, at the end of the day, clutch at straws, stay brainwashed by the American Dream, tell us that OWS was a great and important achievement ('transformative!'), and that we are somehow (in the absence of any political clout whatsoever, mind you) going to turn things around. If any of those folks had even 10% of the insight of someone like Arnold Toynbee, how different the current political discussion would be! And yet they are stuck in Left vs. Right, in 'Progress', in Technology, in all of the categories that simply do not describe our situation anymore. They have no broad understanding at all, that we are at the tail end of the disintegration of a massive socioeconomic formation, and in the process of evolving toward something else. They can't see that clues to the future lie in a too-quickly discarded past, that Mr. Obama is a meaningless joke, that Newtown and Columbine are symptoms of a civilization in its death throes--etc. etc. So the discussion remains stuck in a predictable rut, spinning wheels and going nowhere. Instead of real intelligence, let's just have yet another unsuccessful conference on climate change, or on how to revive the American Dream, or some other hackneyed, losing proposition. And let's label those who don't agree 'defeatist', 'pessimistic', or whatever, even though we ourselves are flying upside down in a fog bank, going nowhere fast, and unwilling to just stop for 2 seconds and admit the appalling truth: Game Over. And to work thru the depression and anxiety that that entails--like adults, who understand that death is part of the normal course of things, and comes to us all. Oh no, let's never do that.


9:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nicodemus - I'm sure you don't mean it that way, but your Power In The Blood comment has dangerous undertones, most evident in 1930s Europe.

The Cathar

9:35 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

As ususal at this time of year, one of the biggest & oft-repeated stories on TV "news" is about Super Bowl ads - how much they'll cost, how big they'll be, how important they are. Of course half the "news" stories you see these days are glorified ads in themselves, the better to train the next generation of obedient consumers.

Also note the sheer busy-ness of of TV "news" - countless crawls at the bottom of the screen, something flashing in the corners, bathetic piano music over maudlin "heartwarming" stories, etc. The last are especially egregious, in that they constantly promote the "military = hero = epitome of humanity" meme.

In fact, that might sum up the current American ethos: Buy & Die.

MB, I agree with your notion of Americans being in massive, overwhelming pain. They know they're suffering, they know something's terribly wrong - but they're afraid to look at the reasons for it, preferring escape through sensation or denial via scapegoats. No wonder so many seek refuge in the digital world, where they have the illusion of control & being in the know. Even the illusion of "choice" - even though it's just choosing the next American Idol, or the latest diet or self-help program.

11:17 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


A few yrs ago Ralph Nader made the comment that Americans have no political power or influence over what determines their lives, so as a substitute they are given little gizmos they can hold in their hands, wh/give them the illusion of control. He also pointed out that social change requires political clout, and that the Left didn't have it. A couple of yrs ago I was asked to lecture an economics class in Guatemala, abt 125 students. Abt 1/3 had electronic toys in their hands. At the end of the lecture, I told them that these toys gave them no power at all, and that if they wanted some understanding of what the US had done to them, historically speaking, they would have to go to the library. This knowledge, I said, was the beginning of political power; wh/was a very different thing than pressing buttons on a toy. I don't know if any of them heard me.



11:33 AM  
Anonymous nicodemus said...

The Cathar:

You are correct, "good man".

I write too hasty.

I am in a very small group called christian atheists. I, strangely enough, love Bluegrass gospel music.

I was referring to the old 1899 Campground song called: "There is Power in the Blood".

I guess i was mocking it because I do not believe in Gods nor that anything is going to come to the rescue of this planet. Global climate change will see to that, and, the powers that be are going to blindly (selfishly) unleash the worst blood letting that this already plasma soaked world has ever seen.

12:51 PM  
Anonymous Marcos said...

Young people kill; grand fathers kill; and life goes on in America:

"Phoenix police Sgt. Tommy Thompson said 48-year-old Steve Singer was one of three people shot by suspect Arthur Douglas Harmon.

A second victim remains in critical condition and a third suffered non-life threatening injuries.

Phoenix police are continuing to search for 70-year-old Arthur Harmon who fled the scene near 16th Street and Glendale Avenue after opening fire around 10:45 a.m. in the lobby of the law firm DeConcini McDonald Yetwin & Lacy, P.C.

Thompson said Harmon also shot at a vehicle on 16th Street after the shooting, when he learned he was being followed by a Good Samaritan.

Thompson said Harmon went into the law office for mediation and apparently got into an altercation with Singer and Hummels.

Harmon then shot the victims and left the building"



1:21 PM  
Anonymous The Lonely American said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and WAFERS. I completed the trilogy on American decline in 2011, read A Question of Values and have been a lurker on this blog ever since. I wanted to propose another suggestion for anyone interested in immigrating: teaching English as a foreign language. Dr. Berman has often mentioned the graduate school option for those interested in immigrating but I can't recall the English teaching option being discussed much on this blog.
As a young (29 years old), rather lonely American (lonely in the sense that I "get by" with my "fellow" Americans in daily life but don't relate to their shared goals of wealth and material prosperity), I've slowly been positioning myself to teach English in Europe. I went through the TEFL Institute of Chicago's online teaching certification program (not meant to be an advertisement for the school) and am currently using their job placement assistance to find work abroad. Typically, English teaching positions in Europe will allow one to meet their expenses and live decently while positions in Asia will allow one to live decently, meet their expenses and save a little money on the side. I've had two American friends teach English overseas - one in Japan for over 3 years, and one in Poland for a year - and both enjoyed the experience immensely. For those interested, teaching English overseas could be another way of living outside of the American bubble and, perhaps, enjoying a fuller, more rewarding life.

Keep up the good work Dr. Berman and WAFERS. Next up on my reading list: The Reenchantment of The World.

2:12 PM  
Blogger for everyman said...

Morris--I learned the meaning of the word "metanoia" from reading J.R. Oppenheimer's autobiography years ago. So, metanoia for our country in addition to the "acceptance of death" you suggested in your essay "Raiding the Inarticulate: Democracy in America, Revisited". How many generations of this deeper self-reflection will it take until the scales are set aright?
best, Doug Carhart, Santa Rosa, CA

5:10 PM  
Anonymous ennobled little day said...

Dr. B.-

You mentioned something about "systems." I bought a book years ago, when I was still an undergraduate, on "general system thinking" by this guy called Gerald Weinberg. I remember feeling as if the book gave me a perspective that I was not getting at the university. It allowed me to "take a step back" and see science differently. It's hard to explain what I mean, and I never finished the book.

The book seemed to offer something that I was expecting to learn about in my science courses, but never quite did. Makes me wonder if science, too, gets neutered in subtle ways by political considerations.

Does any of what I just said make sense???

6:03 PM  
Anonymous Andrew P said...

What do you think about the treatment being meted out to Chuck Hagel? This is a man who elected to participate in Vietnam war. Now, he is a bad guy.

7:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...



7:25 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Teaching ESL in Europe doesn't pay very well, but if u can live very simply, it can be done. It pays very well in Japan and Korea. Definitely, an option to explore.


Only a few 1000 Americans are into reflexivity. Most wdn't be able to tell u what the word means.


Systems theory can be heuristically valuable, but in general I think it's pseudo-science (Malcolm Gladwell, e.g.). For a fuller discussion, u can check this out, if u want:

“The Shadow Side of Systems Theory,” Journal of Humanistic Psychology, Vol. 36 No. 1 (Winter 1996), pp. 28-54 (I'm the author).


8:21 PM  
Anonymous Winter In America said...

Re: Dr Berman's 9:16 AM response to Nicodemus -- I've been in the same mindset for some time now, and Dr. B your comments resonated with me from top-to-bottom. Yeah, I've been treated to the "defeatist", "pessimistic", and "doomer" retorts.

Defeatist? Not by a long shot -- more like Bob Marley's Exodus (minus the religious connotation):

Men and people will fight ya down (Tell me why!)
When ya see Jah light. (Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!)
Let me tell you if you're not wrong; (Then, why?)
Everything is all right...

Uh! Open your eyes and look within:
Are you satisfied (with the life you're living)? Uh!
We know where we're going, uh!
We know where we're from.
We're leaving Babylon,
We're going to our Father land.

Pessimistic? Yeah I'll cop to that one only after I've responded with one or both of the following quotes:

"It's easy to tell the difference between an optimist and a pessimist; but it's difficult to recognize a pessimist from a realist."

"The difference between an optimist and a pessimist is that the pessimist is usually better informed."

After the doomer charge has been leveled I try to clarify that it's the system that's doomed. For me, not having a vested interest in its continuation, find myself at peace with its demise. So no I'm not a doomer -- I'm elated.

In Tim Lukeman's reply to Dr. Berman he stated: "I agree with your notion of Americans being in massive, overwhelming pain. They know they're suffering, they know something's terribly wrong - but they're afraid to look at the reasons for it..." reminded me of the root of my nom de plume. For the uninitiated it derives from the Gil-Scott Heron song Winter In America. Tim's line to Dr. B can be found in this stanza (full lyrics here) http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/gilscottheron/winterinamerica.html:

And now it's winter
Winter in America
Yes and all of the healers have been killed
Or sent away, yeah
But the people know, the people know
It's winter
Winter in America
And ain't nobody fighting
'Cause nobody knows what to save
Save your soul, Lord knows
From Winter in America

To fully appreciate Winter In America watch Gil-Scott perform it by going here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L2EhaPUqG3M --
I think this video was an excerpt from the film Black Wax -- check that out, it's worth it -- Netflix might have it.

9:07 PM  
Anonymous ennobled little day said...


I don't know why it never dawned on me before to look up your full publishing history on my university's libraries!!! My university actually has copies of your books!!! I feel like such an idiot!! hahaaha Like I've been lobotomized or something!!!

Makes sense, actually. Most of the times that I've set foot on a university library, I was on a mission for a class or a lab.

9:09 PM  
Anonymous Paul7 said...

"It's easy to tell the difference between an optimist and a pessimist; but it's difficult to recognize a pessimist from a realist."

I will give you the best definitions for the three dreaded words:

The optimist believes that happiness is greater than pain in the world.

The pessimist believes that happiness is less than pain in the world.

The realist believes that happiness is equal to pain in the world.

You can also use the glass is half empty, half full, or equally empty and equally full

11:12 PM  
Anonymous ennobled little day said...

I found the following "gem" at Yahoo. It's about people who earned masters degrees who now regret it.


One in particular caught my attention.

"Not only was my first master's not worth the debt, it wasn't worth the emotional journey of going through a program that requires such introspection and self reflection. If I had to do this all over again, I probably would have just gotten an HR degree instead of a social science degree."

I bet this guy is a douche bag with his friends and family. I don't know...

Dr. B-

I got the article and will probably read it over the weekend. Thanks!

6:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having read this blog for some time I first concluded that things were bad but that the real answer was for people to stay and attempt to change things. OWS was a useful litmus test, but could never change anything. Unfortunately. I see some links to 60s hippies who thought they could change it all too. And look how that turned out.

Slowly I find that my conclusion about changing the US from within has withered away with each new revelation of horror,(almost daily) and the feeling of powerlesness that goes with this. This is a dangerous feeling and in a population can have unpredictable and lethal outcomes, one being fascism. And nowadays a modern state has too many powerful weapons at its disposal. That's also why the US gun nuts are deluding themselves thinking that they can with force oppose a modern, vicious state. But it makes them feel good and in control. It's part of the bread and circuses thing - in Europe it's football which distracts the masses from those who are plunging them into trouble.I've seen it all my life, where the football results are discussed while the real world is falling round their ears. The forlorn hope is to avoid regarding these people with contempt for their wilful ignorance. The contempt does bad things to one's outlook on humanity. Not healthy.But it's there.

The weight of evidence is too great - I now have to agree that for the US, the only answer is indeed to flee. I can see no way out. In Europe where I am, there are also worrying problems, but maybe not so serious. Tho' I am in Western Europe, I intend to move to Eastern Europe to sidestep some ugly trends. I won't be looking for a job there, and thus escape a real problem, because the drift there is to Western Europe for work.

I agree with Mr Berman's comments on TEFL/TESOL. And don't forget you'll be competing with jobless people from the UK and Ireland, both Anglophone countries. By all means try it, but be aware of these issues. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. A foot in the door may be all you need.

The Cathar.

7:25 AM  
Blogger jml said...

"Are shooting ranges the new bowling alleys?"


the recent obsession with gun control is not about conditioning us for restriction.

8:04 AM  
Blogger plotinus said...

Dear Dr. Berman,
I was wondering if you ever read a book called "World As Laboratory" by Rebecca Lemov?

9:06 AM  
Anonymous Troutbum said...

Greetings WAFers,

Yes, there is tremendous pain hidden and buried in America's population. I have a friend who volunteers at a Chicago suburb mental health/counseling clinic as a counselor. He tells me the volume of people seeking help has been going up every month for the last year or so. Last night he said something going to blow, meaning that a critical mass is forming. Meantime, the clinic funded in part by the state of Illinois is now 11 months in arrears according to their signed contract.
Then, my friend points out did you know that America leads the western world in abused children? The facts are here: http://www.childhelp.org/pages/statistics

Quoting from the website: "Children are suffering from a hidden epidemic of child abuse and neglect. Every year 3.3 million reports of child abuse are made in the United States involving nearly 6 million children (a report can include multiple children). The United States has the worst record in the industrialized nation – losing five children every day due to abuse-related deaths."

And there are good reasons to believe the number is actually 50% higher due to misleading death certificates.
I'm simply speechless.

9:46 AM  
Anonymous shit_head said...

so WAFer was for Why America Fails! ok i'm not yet a WAFer, but i'm lookig for it --i've been onto your other trilogy mainly

wanted to ask you ... do you know anything about Ruth Shady's work? A peruvian friend told me she has done work about Caral civilization. My friend told me it seems to have been a peaceful civilization --no weapons found among ruins, or mutilated corpses etc ..

11:03 AM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and fellow Wafers,

jml, Wafers, and MB-

Another example of the appalling nature of American society going down the tubes. The smile on grandma's face, firing that gun, reveals the sickness that *is* America. The article also reminds me of a key passage in MB's WAF. I.e., as contemplated in WAF, where are the grandmothers who will stand up against the rot, the decadence, the gangsta mentality, the trash in America? Er, right, at the range... bustin' some caps! This is way, way beyond scary...

Well, we can always look on the bright side of any issue; Robert Putnam will have some fresh data for a sequel to his work, "Bowling Alone." How about, "No Longer Alone: Granny Dropped Her Bowling Ball and Picked Up a GLOCK."


12:48 PM  
Anonymous Mark Notzon said...

Dear MB, "Lonely" et al:

On TESOL as a ticket abroad:

For any of those interested, Southeast Asia is also another venue for whom the TESL certificate or degree can provide access to a work permit and a sustainable (tho' marginal) salary. Generally for most newcomers who are enthralled by an alien culture, drawbacks like burdensome teaching loads, absurd schedules, and apathetic students will not really catch one's attention until after a year or so. In the main, whether one is teaching in a public or private school, or one of the numerous "language schools" which dot the landscape like fast food eateries, a teacher is generally expected to provide a lot of "edu-tainment."

Better jobs, in which academic competence is expected from teachers and students, and salary approaches something near to what one might call "middle class," do exist, but are few and far between, and in a lot of cases, will require something like a Master's degree in some subject of merit, and not just a certificate in TESOL. When I wanted to extend my stay in Indonesia after working on a three year university project, I could only get a visa by taking on late evening classes five nights a week at a language school, which would have been intolerable had it not been for the weekends, vacations and money it afforded me to continue my study of Javanese meditation in Central Java--which had become my reason for staying. Later on, I took on a very good position at a private high school with a joint Australian-Indonesian curriculum, the diploma allowing them access to colleges in Australia.

(Off the record: I don't believe in "applied linguistics," or anything that is applied, except as is politically correct, say, between consenting adults. The science of linguistics misapplied or wrongly theorized, has not done much to improve what is called "language arts" in the public schools of the USA, as the verbal SAT scores, and not those alone, indicate. The term "applied linguistics" serves the rhetorical function of denoting practicality and knowledge based on an empirical foundation. Such earmarks are of course attractive to the pragmatist, expanding global economy. The educational bureaucracy that thinks literacy is the outcome of linguistics and concocts such a name, knows this.)

Mark N.

12:58 PM  
Anonymous swordfish said...

ah yes, I.P. Dailey...well there's also Patti Smith's amazing song -- "Pissing in a River". I suggest we WUIU operatives adopt it as an anthem, just change the words from "Pissing in a River" to "Pissing on the Guccis". Or, since it's that time of year, how about "Pissing on the Super Bowl" (ok, it doesn't scan), or "Pissing on the Oscars" (got the rhythm back). Really, folks, no one will care unless we piss on their circuses...(although even then amnesia would set in pretty fast, probably by the next commercial break and highly newsworthy ad campaign...).

And more on the "runaway" unraveling of Amurky, and its "massive pain" full-on capitalist style:


Of course, those are poor children, not the ones who'll be in power in 2035, and who, even now, are being vetted for Harvard or Yale.

2:59 PM  
Anonymous Middle Aged Guy said...

Heard this playing on a video dance game. The lyrics (I presume without any irony) perfectly express the dominant American mindset:

"I never get enough I’m easily bored
So keep it comin’ or I’ll head for the door
Give me more...Give me more....Give me more...

Well I got my own money, I can't be bought
Those are the rules of the game
Men must be taught
Give me more, Give me more, Give me more..."

At least back in my youth we had songs like "Money" by Pink Floyd which offered a cynical awareness of the dominant economic reality.

3:43 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


No, am ignorant of Shady.


No, am ignorant of Lemov.


Pretty depressing, but not surprising. This is a case of 'transfer of pain'. Society kicks the crap out of the adults, who then kick it out of their kids. What are the kids supposed to do, kick their dogs? (See story by Jas Joyce called "Counterparts".)


4:54 PM  
Blogger Ort said...

Re: "A few yrs ago Ralph Nader made the comment that Americans have no political power or influence over what determines their lives, so as a substitute they are given little gizmos they can hold in their hands, wh/give them the illusion of control." -- MB

I've always respected and admired Ralph Nader, although I can't relate to his (socially, not sexually) straight-arrow wonk persona. I regard him as a secular, or sociopolitical, ascetic.

In fact, the virulent anti-Nader sentiment that arose from the ostensible "left" after the 2000 highjacked presidential election was a real political epiphany for me: I finally understood the pejorative aspect of "liberal".

The Nader-bashers were almost exclusively progressive-liberal lite types, True Believers in "More and Better Democrats" who still believe that the last, best hope for Amerikan political salvation is through the Democratic Party-- the same crowd who dogmatically believes in "lesser-evil" politics: "working within the system", "incremental change", supporting "humanitarian" military intervention and scams like "Responsibility to Protect", etc.

Damn, I've already used up my post quota of ironic quotation marks, not to mention that I'm digressing again.

My actual point, I guess, is that Nader drives me crazy. The quote you cited makes perfect sense to me. But I just can't fathom how Nader can have such relatively profound or at least enlightened insights, yet still preaches and exhorts citizens to pursue conventional political activism.

Last year, he briefly initiated or joined in an aborted and futile call for Democrats to challenge Obama in the primaries. Without digging up the specifics, as I recall Nader and others were clear that they weren't even calling for a real challenge; they envisioned a virtual challenge (my term) to either force Obama to "move to the left" or remove all doubt that he is actually a reactionary authoritarian despot (again, I paraphrase).

Nader et al made it painfully clear from the outset that they didn't really want to hurt Obama politically, just give him a sort of wake-up call from the left. The whole thing was a crock, since both the Democratic party organization and the liberal-lite progressive voting bloc had already long since jumped on the Obama 2012 bandwagon or tied themselves to its bumper.

Nader is smart, savvy, and experienced enough to know perfectly well that ordinary unprivileged citizens won't acquire political power or influence by working within the corrupt and decadent duopoly. So why does he still buy into, or act like he buys into, standard "inside politics" pseudo-pragmatism?

Is it just stoical habit, a reflexive "we're lost but we need to make better time" attitude? Does he know better, but thinks it's necessary to keep cheerleading conventional political activism in order to boost morale among the discouraged, disillusioned, and cynical?

There are certain lines from Bob Dylan songs that burned into my head when I was in my impressionable teens, and stay with me. One, from "Queen Jane Approximately", is "Trying to prove that your conclusions should be more drastic."

The Nader quote strikes me as a suitably drastic conclusion, on a whole different level than his conventional politics.

As you might put it, what is Nader smoking?

BTW, Dr. Berman, I also think this phrase succinctly describes your work.

7:24 PM  
Anonymous Mikbeth said...

I'm not sure how much TV is watched by DAA members but this review of the HBO show Enlightened was intriguing. It purports to describe the hell wrought by the marriage of New Age and corporate culture. Has anyone seen it?


7:42 PM  
Anonymous Rufusteena Firefly said...

Some right wingers seem to be seeing the light. Okay, maybe this guy is a libertarian, but even so...


perhaps things are farther along than we think!

10:08 PM  
Anonymous The Dude said...

Here's another appalling aspect of America's rapid decline, physical infrastructure decay, at perhaps its most frightening:

"On Wednesday night in Washington, D.C., the city's Metro green line, which connects its southern fringes to its northern extremities, up and stopped moving during rush hour after workers accidentally cut power to it while battling a fire. What ensued, according to one eyewitness account from a man named Scott, was a chaotic mass of thousands of sweaty bodies, vomit, urine, and panicked people smashing apart Metro cars in a desperate attempt to get fresh air:

"The next two hours were spent in the dark on the train. An hour in, panic started to set in. In our car, one woman had passed out. We heard people pounding on windows in other cars, we heard glass breaking and people screaming. More than two hours in, folks in our car forced open the emergency door to get some air into the car. Some to actually exited and walked the tunnel. Mind you, we were in the dark somewhere under the Anacostia River. Inside the temperature was close to 90 degrees. Most people managed to get their coats off, and in some cases, even shirts came off, I was dripping with sweat, but tried to keep breathing and conserve my energy and keep calm. I did not talk much, and kept my eyes closed while standing face to face and body to body with the other sweaty passengers.

"About two and a half hours, someone threw up in our car. The car also smelt of urine. I'm certain more than one person had pissed themselves. The car smelt rank, and the situation was getting out of control. Multiple emergency doors were forced open, and now passengers were wondering around in the train tunnels in the dark. The train operator came by our car, asked us to help him get the door closed and said not to open it again. He said several other doors were open and had to be closed. He had police and firemen with him. They were trying to round up everyone and get them back on the train before the fire department would give permissions to the power company to restore power to the third rail."


In the past 10 years Metro has had to raise its prices about five times due to funding cuts from the Maryland, DC and Virginia governments even as the service has steadily worsened and accidents and other incidents have steadily increased. Meanwhile, Virginia just spent billions of dollars building brand spanking new toll lanes on its side of the Capital Beltway specifically so rich bastards in their Lexuses and BMWs can pay a variable rate of up to $6 or more (one way) to bypass traffic jams during rush hour.

What a country.

11:39 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Crack cocaine?

Stay conscious of length, por favor...thanks.


11:57 PM  
Anonymous Ken Smith said...

Morris Berman has an article today on Counterpunch about Seinfeld, the show about nothing. Well worth reading.


Jeffrey St. Clair, the editor of Counterpunch, promoted the article on his Facebook account to his 2,743 "friends", with a post that included the cover shot of Why America Failed. The posting on Counterpunch also includes the book cover, along with a link to Amazon.

12:14 AM  
Anonymous Joseph Hohos said...

Dr. Berman,

I moved into a house six months ago in which a friend had previously resided. I was intrigued by the title of a book he had on left behind: Dark Ages America: The Final Phase Of Empire. About 5 months later I picked up the book and looking at it noticed it had the words Advance Reading Copy Not For Sale on the cover. This intrigued me even more and I read the book. I then looked you up, found your blog, and am thoroughly enjoying it. The only question I have for you so far: You believe America has no way of changing course whatsoever and we are headed for an iceberg. Let's say miraculously Americans decided to wake up and change course. What actions could possibly be taken at this late point in the game to stay afloat, or no matter what will American corporacracy succeed in taking us down?

1:37 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


That wd change the game, to be sure, but it isn't going to happen; so, I'm not really able to relate to your question. More interesting for me is: What's likely to happen?, and What do each of us want to do about it? Historians have this odd habit of wanting to stay in the real world, I guess. But I'm happy u stumbled across my work, and welcome to the blog.


2:35 AM  
Anonymous Fan said...


I'm a fan of the HBO show 'Enlightened.' I wouldn't call it a marriage of New Age and corporate culture. It's more about New Age vs. corporate culture. The story follows a 40 something woman who has an epiphany at a Re-hab center and ends up attempting to reveal the corruption in the company that has demoted her to a low level tech position.

I appreciate that it manages to satirize New Age thought while also honoring the human urge to understand what it means to be 'awake' and aware of a culture that has been enslaved by a sick power structure.

WAFERs might enjoy it for this reason, however the main character, played wonderfully by Laura Dern, is not especially bright, and some of the exceptionally intelligent people on this blog may find her annoying.

9:44 AM  
Anonymous satyaSarika said...

Regarding MB's book 'Coming to our Senses':

MB describes his bodily feeling coming out of Van Gogh exhibit and walking through an exhibit of premodern Asian art on his way out. He describes the intensely uncomfortable bodily sensations occasioned by the Van Gogh exhibit and how they melted away and were followed by a sense of ease when seeing the Asian art.

I just wanted to share that I experienced something of the same type of sensation when shifting from reading CTOS, which left me in a rather hyper state of body/mental excitement, to a study of Ellen M. Chen's 'In Praise of Nothing', which is a study of 'Daoist metaphysics'. I feel now a bodily sense of peaceful, open, and magnetic interest.

As to pix in CTOS, Robert Fludd's artwork is my fave.

4:05 PM  
Anonymous TimR said...

Whoops, forgot to put my name on those comments about Seinfeld..

6:16 PM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

Just as a comparison between Then & Now, here's the first episode of Pioneers of Thirteen from PBS, about the first 10 years of public television in the 1960s:


The second episode on the 1970s just aired a couple of days ago & isn't posted yet. But just look at this brief sampler of what PBS used to be, and then think about the sheer amount of lard in their current programming, devoid of substance & nourishment of any kind.

This alone is a powerful example of cultural decline. I'd say more, but I don't want to miss Suze Orman & Wayne Dyer, who come on right after the umpteenth doo-wop pledge drive, which is followed by some MTV-style "science" show funded by the Koch brothers.

7:04 PM  
Blogger Phlogiston Água de Beber said...

Fan says there are "exceptionally intelligent people on this blog."

Holy Mother of George Carlin! Why aren't there prominent warning sign popups or something? Ernst Mayr warned us about them. He called it a lethal mutation. In more recent days, Craig Dilworth has expressed somewhat similar sentiments with backing evidence. Maybe that explains why the word "dolt" is used around here with about the same frequency that Valley girls use "like."

I'm shocked, shocked I tell you to learn that there is intellectualizing going on in this establishment. It should be closed immediately!

Where in Hell is the Exit?


7:42 PM  
Anonymous Bingo said...

I loved reading your description of what transpired on the DC Metro line. I only wish I were a pickpocket on that train – after a day like that, today I’d be retired in the lap of luxury, for sure!

Re. New Age,
About 15 years ago I saw a low budget movie called “The New Age” which I thought might be worth mentioning here. It is a pretty good dramatic satire of the corporate/yuppie/New Age/immorality aspect of the movement. I can’t find much about it anymore except this, but it's worth checking out:


9:00 PM  
Anonymous LarryA said...

Hello MB and fellow WAFers,
I've been retired for a couple of years and reading all I can to understand the U.S. decline, including WAF and TAC. You reference Lewis Mumford a lot, as does James Kunstler ("Geography of Nowhere". Which was intriguing because Mumford wrote one of my city planning textbooks, "City in History" I used in a city planning class in the early 70's (I'm a retired architect). I dusted off the old book and read, for the first time, the commentary on the evolving technocratic society in the process of losing it's soul, and this was 50 or 60 years ago. As I recall, the focus at the time was on the various configurations of cities, walled cities, radial cities, and all the other categories and specialties. But Mumford was speaking to us about encroaching technology driven by technocratic teams of specialists, each with an agenda and devoid of meaning and humanity, the epitome of "Voltaire's Bastards" that John Saul describes. Kunstler emphasizes the cause of our cultural dysfunction as a natural result of an overly complex and unsustainable built environment that prioritizes cars over people, with collapse inevitable ("Collapse of Complex Societies"). I guess this is a "chicken and egg" sort of question, but to what extent do you attribute our collapse to the pathologies of our built environment? Or perhaps the built environment is just a natural evolution of an increasing complex system created by various technical specialists? After all, the age of Voltaire and the "French Enlightenment", corresponds with the founding of the U.S. Are we simply at the tail end of the "Age of Reason" that Saul describes? These are issues that few people will even discuss, because they require a generalist perspective.

On a different subject, I've been reading a bit of Greek history, specifically about Alexander and the founding of the Alexandria library to preserve Greek and Egyption knowledge and culture in spite of the encroaching Roman Empire. Since Egypt was in the "collapse" phase and Greece had long since given up on the idea of a participatory democracy, do you think Alexander's role was somewhat monastic, contrary to his reputation as a "conqueror"?

9:18 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


2nd door on the left.

Two films in the Don't Miss! category:
"Margin Call," which is a perfect portait of the famous 1%, and "God Bless America," which is a perfect portrait of the 99% who are supposedly their victims. See these two movies and you don't hafta read any of my bks, I'm telling u.


11:05 PM  
Anonymous shane w said...

Oh, the irony. Karma?

3:30 AM  
Anonymous Shane w said...

Destroyin public universities is something WAFers can get behind, besides, isn't "university of Phoenix" enough?

5:10 AM  
Anonymous Nincompoop said...

I like Matt Taibbi's writing about the too big to fail financial institutions. He points out that their size is much larger and more dangerous than in 2008. All you have to look at is the Dow Jones >14,000 to see the ignorance in investors (imagine the wonderful size of the next final panic), yet, Taibbi, today, 2-3-2013 Sunday, never mentions to Bill Moyers that it's OVER.

Come oh come great panic equalizer. Your time is nigh.

"Just the facts mam"


11:10 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...


A depressing but not surprising story. I'm still amazed at the number of parents I've met who are frantic to get their children into college, yet express a visceral disdain & contempt for education. It's the certificate that matters -- learning a presumably marketable skill that a company will take seriously, and nothing more. I've heard several parents warn their kids not to waste time learning anything that won't lead to a high-paying job; certainly they want their kids to avoid the arts & humanities at all costs. Really, if they could simply pay someone however many thousand dollars a degree costs these days & get the certificate immediately, they'd be thrilled.

One mother once told me, "I don't want my son to learn how to think, I want him to get a good job!"

12:02 PM  
Anonymous Daniel D said...

shane, yes there is Karma.
Those who live by the guns die by the guns. The sniper got snipped.


2:35 PM  
Anonymous Mike Alan said...

Due to the hustling required to barely keep treading water (slow the sinking) in this insane consumer paradise, it's been a while since I've had time to sit and read the blog. As usual, there are numerous good thoughts from everyone. Thanks to all here for some of the best reading on the web.

I enjoyed your “milk it while it lasts!” comment. That’s how I’ve looked at nearly everything in this society for at least a decade or more. I just hope I don’t check out with that same mentality as I would like to see this whole consumerist crap pile crumble before I die. It would be nice to leave the world a better place for my son. A guy can dream can’t he?

Concerning Nader and his insistence on working within the “system” to change things, like you these people have puzzled me most of my life. I started putting the pieces of this puzzle together in the 80’s when I read Ed Abbey’s The Monkeywrench Gang. The gang starts off cutting down billboards because they are eyesores and nobody asked them if they could build them and ruin their landscape. So, they took them out themselves. Sure, they could have went through the usual methods of trying to change things by writing letters to their politicians, and petitions and protesting, or getting on the local zoning board and all those other useless methods. Then the politicians would have patted them on the head and smiled at them, but the billboards would have still stood because we know that commerce takes precedence over people in The Corporate States of ‘Merica. Yeah, yeah I know we live in a land of laws and all that other mythological crap, but the reality is that the legal system is there to maintain and/or increase the wealth and power of the already wealthy and powerful. Hence the basic reason I find it absurd to work within a flawed system to create the needed change. Most folks are incapable of seeing or even considering that reality. Now, I'm not advocating violence, especially against corporate/business property, like billboards...Gasp!! I'm just noting the futility of working within the system to create actual change for the better. (Especially now that messages like this one will be stored and scanned at the HSA's huge server farm in Utah.)

I’ll try to add to the discussions about technology in a future post as this one is already long. Keep it up WAFers as this is one of the few refuges of sanity available in this Idiocracy.

3:46 PM  
Anonymous ennobled little day said...

I just finished reading your article! Something tells me that I'm going to end up reading every single word you've ever written.

I like the term "gold fever." Ever since I first read Plato as a teenager, I've been avoiding that type of disease.

A passage also caught my attention: "...there is no relationship whatever between Enlightenment, or self-transcendence, and ethical behavior. More often than not ... they are actually antithetical." It reminded me of a (Japanese) video game series I fell in love with years ago called Xenosaga. Specifically, it reminded me of ALBEDO.




It all takes place 4000 years in the future. Many of the characters are artificial humans (the little girl MOMO, Albedo and Rubedo/Jr.), robots (KOSMOS) or cyborg (Ziggurat 8 aka "Ziggy"). MOMO contains highly sought after information in her.

5:48 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Yesterday I participated in a seminar on Edmund Burke's "Reflections on the Revolution", a polemical against the French revolution, written in 1790. I found myself arguing against his critique which is that reform rather than revolution should have been the proper course. There seemed to be no reform path open to the would be reformers. Much of his argument points to the importance of maintaining the traditional institutions and their corresponding values of obedience including the monarchy, church and aristocracy. He brings out the poor treatment of the king as reason to oppose the revolution, yet glorifies the mistreatment of the peasants and those of lower status. Our culture's embrace of democracy seems to be a reaction to the horrible conditions of 18th century Europe. What traditions were worth keeping?

8:15 PM  
Anonymous in.fern.all said...

No new comments all day? Hmmm...
Will new ones appear within the next half-hour? It's 7:20 pm and less than 5 minutes left in the game.

10:21 PM  
Anonymous Captain Spaulding said...

Here's a recommendation for the front cover of the WAF paperback: it's a perfect combination of Americans' propensity for violence, techno-buffonery, and self-destructive stupidity.


10:50 PM  
Anonymous Mark Notzon said...

Dear MB et al,

For a "WAFER-esque" view of American football, take a look at Andrew O'Hehir's "Football's Death Spiral" at Salon.com.

He says, in part "There are many reasons why we can’t and shouldn’t ban football altogether....it’s
likely to collapse on its own, and a whole lot more rapidly than anyone thinks."

--Mark N.

8:18 AM  
Anonymous ellen said...

A very interesting take here, from Chomsky, on 'Is America Over?':


'The United States is in favor of stability. But you have to remember what stability means. Stability means conformity to U.S. orders. So, for example, one of the charges against Iran, the big foreign policy threat, is that it is destabilizing Iraq and Afghanistan. How? By trying to expand its influence into neighboring countries. On the other hand, we “stabilize” countries when we invade them and destroy them.'


'Writing about the overthrow of the Salvador Allende regime and the imposition of the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet in 1973, he said that we had to “destabilize” Chile in the interests of “stability.” That’s not perceived to be a contradiction -- and it isn’t. We had to destroy the parliamentary system in order to gain stability, meaning that they do what we say. So yes, we are in favor of stability in this technical sense.'

From my reading of this piece he doesn't seem to have many illusions left regarding the saving grace potential of Democrat policies. In fact he sounds to me like a fan of Dr B's work, a full blown WAFer.

8:46 AM  
Anonymous poop said...

Oh Goody! Now the lonely money changers are furiously pushing (dope) "mini" nuclear plants.




Won't do any good; as Porky Pig would say, "That's All Folks".


9:34 AM  
Blogger Allen said...

Another joke, courtesy of Wendell Berry:

Economics 101

The Economist takes a field trip to visit The Farmer. He sees the fields and takes a few notes. The Farmer stands by with pride as the Economist scribbles feverishly upon his pad.

The Economist closes his notebook and wipes his glasses as The Farmer looks out declaring, "Beautiful isn't it? These fields mean food through the winter for the entire valley."

The Economist sighs knowingly and says, "Possibly but scarce resources mean we must better manage resources to optimize production."

At first The farmer seemed confused and a little dejected that The Economist would not, could not, behold what lay before his eyes but then a gnawing doubt came over The Farmer, "the man of letters must know something", and he asked The Economist to explain how things could be better.

The Economist did just that.

The Farmer excited by the prospects of such amazing abundance practiced exactly what The Economist had preached. This went on for several years, despite decreasing results, as The Farmer thought that The Economist must have the wisdom that would bear fruit but only after years of implementation.

Finally one winter, by now The Economist hadn't been seen for years, The Farmer decided that he would go back to The Old Ways as the people in the valley had suffered since the advent of The Economists' wisdom.

The Farmer found that once again the abundance he produced was quite enough to feed the people of the valley and that this was enough.

After a few years of this The Farmer received an unexpected visit from The Economist. Upon arrival The Economist immediately took out his notebook and began scribbling. The Farmer looked over and said, "I took your advice and the people of the valley barely made it through the winter whereas before we lived in abundance. Now I've gone back to The Old Ways and once again the people are fed."

The Economist spoke, "Yes, I can see that. That explanation may be all well and good in reality, but it will never work in theory."

10:29 AM  
Anonymous Martin Ramirez said...

One detail I find amusing in this whole ordeal is that you rarely find a middle ground in American politics anymore. You can't just be tolerant and accepting of sexuality anymore. You are either a reactionary Puritan, or you are a sleazy hedonist. More and more people seem to be taken in by this insane political/social polarization every day.

10:53 AM  
Anonymous Pedro P said...

Thanks poop for the following articles on mini nuclear power plants:


That is the kind of the thing that greed produces. They want to export the plants to other nations where the plants will eventually kill a lot of people. Imagine having five or six nuclear accidents in a nation.

I have been thinking about something lately, based on the work of Berman and based on the thoughts of the WAFERS here:

Why should the dolts in USA be allowed to have some dangerous weapons and technologies? Is the world safe in such a situation?

4:33 PM  
Anonymous Savantesimal said...

The flood of psychoactive drugs continues. Often with the active collusion of the "victims"! Some people want these drugs for non-therapeutic purposes, and are willing to lie to get them. So perfectly healthy adults can be "diagnosed" and given a prescription for Big Pharma's products, leading to their addiction and ruin. Including death.

NY Times: Drowned in a Stream of Prescriptions

The story of Richard Fee, an athletic, personable college class president and aspiring medical student, highlights widespread failings in the system through which five million Americans take medication for A.D.H.D., doctors and other experts said.

Medications like Adderall can markedly improve the lives of children and others with the disorder. But the tunnel-like focus the medicines provide has led growing numbers of teenagers and young adults to fake symptoms to obtain steady prescriptions for highly addictive medications that carry serious psychological dangers. These efforts are facilitated by a segment of doctors who skip established diagnostic procedures, renew prescriptions reflexively and spend too little time with patients to accurately monitor side effects.

Richard Fee’s experience included it all. Conversations with friends and family members and a review of detailed medical records depict an intelligent and articulate young man lying to doctor after doctor, physicians issuing hasty diagnoses, and psychiatrists continuing to prescribe medication — even increasing dosages — despite evidence of his growing addiction and psychiatric breakdown.


6:41 PM  
Anonymous shane w said...

Honestly, I can't imagine that in the fullness of time, the U.S. influence and contribution to history is actually quite small and insignificant. Other nations and cultures assimilate and adapt our technological advances easily. Looking into the crystal ball of the future, I think we'd be shocked just how small & insignificant the American contribution will be. An insignificant bizarre aberration.

7:45 PM  
Anonymous Bingo said...

Super Bowl winner was chosen by God:


2:29 AM  
Anonymous Swordfish said...

Ah well, as long as drone strikes on American citizens are legal:


that's really all that matters. Thank you DoJ.


10:38 AM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

Just in case any Wafers are thinking about emigrating to Antarctica...


6:40 PM  
Anonymous Ray said...

Morris, Barry, Julian/Bingo, Ellen, et al.

Re: The credibility of Western Europe: A.)As Last Best Hope to Save the West's Soul/ vs. B.)Original Heart of Darkness For Whose Co-Downfall in the U.S. Undertow We Should All Pray

Like the U.S. South since 1865, Carolingian West Europe since 1918-1945 has developed a thin but real layer of awareness of tragedy and pessimism, on top of its original racist/imperialist impulses. Wolfgang Schivelbusch has written eloquently about this parallel. Even the U.K. since Suez has cultivated an (elite) culture of post-imperial regret.

In the case of the U.S. South, this confrontation with nemesis, having nowhere to go beween 1870 and 1970, curdled into a rancid set of cultural resentments that did nothing to curb the hybris of the whole Union, which grew and grew for the next hundred and fifty years. Instead, the South's mutated baggage eventually fed back into mainstream U.S. culture and has helped feralize the country big time since approximately the Carter/Reagan transition period.

In the case of the U.K. and West Europe, (and Japan) their post-1945-56 emotional understanding of tragedy, limits, and nemesis is adulterated by the prosperity of the last sixty years or so of living as privileged, access-all-areas party animals in the captive menagerie of U.S. client states.

As the US era passes, will carpetbaggers, porn talent scouts, real estate speculators, sex-tour child abusers, hostile-takeover lawyers, arrogant technocrat consultants, bleeding-heart Guardian readers in patronizing ethnic skirts, Golden Triangle drug mules, and other Euro-, UK-, or Japantrash continue to loom large in Europe's encounters with the entire non-West?

I'm cautiously with Morris on this point - there survives enough non-hustle, non-exploitation, NMI-long-view value in Europe's cultural DNA to make one regret it if the Continent cannot make a coherent contribution to the After America world - to cite Paul Starobin.

But I'm with Julian/Bingo on another point - the long-term racism and arrogance has been chastened by Auschwitz, Ypres, Algiers 1962, and Kenya/1955, but survives and will probably insist on a Fortress Europe of tightened visa controls and paramilitarized enforcement to keep out the barbarians after the US can no longer play its role of despised but useful neighborhood bully.

6:51 PM  
Anonymous in.fern.all said...


Regarding western europe, I came across several articles in Der Speigel about the demographic situation in Germany and how people there are responding:

Stemming the Tide: A New Wave of Stores Keep German Villages Alive

Volunteers Wanted: Locals Help Save Germany's Shrinking Towns

Troubling Trend: Shrinking Population Triggers Explosion in Vacant Homes

The story about the stores is especially interesting because they (the stores) are community owned. Compare that with how Americans deal with the problem of depopulation and loss of local businesses. On the other hand, Americans are old hands at volunteerism, no doubt an outgrowth of the wilderness/frontier experience while Europeans seem to be quite new to it. For those thinking of translocating, this could prove an opportunity to at least make oneself useful to the community in some way while getting established. If you read the other real estate stories, especially those regarding Berlin, you'll see that hustling is alive and well in Europe but the people do seem more psycho-socially functional.

p.s. it's not really 8:50 pm in my neck of the woods.

8:52 PM  
Anonymous Rufusteena Firefly said...

Here are two interesting (to me at least) items:



Unfortunately, I find that the California initiative mentioned in the second URL failed to pass due to a huge infusion of corpocash at the last minute. BizAzUze,no?

4:32 AM  
Anonymous Bingo said...


Good points about Europe. Despite its many flaws, I think the US does have many redeeming qualities that will be missed once its Empire fades way. We’ll miss the relative peace. But I don’t think Western Europe was ever cured of its imperialist drives, so as the US becomes weaker, I expect the Frances and the Englands of Europe to become increasingly brutal and shameless, as we now see in Mali, Libya and Syria.

But I shouldn’t paint with the wide brush. Bush was right saying there are 2 different Europes: Western and Eastern Europe. I do not think Eastern Europe has any business in a European Union with the traditional colonial powers of the West. The East has no common economic interests with the West, and there is little cultural commonality. Why would anybody want to mix Slavs with Germanics or Christian Orthodox with Catholics? Especially when one side (the West) has made its living primarily from stealing, corruption, war, genocide, and colonization, while the East has been largely agrarian and peaceful for much of its history. You really can't change that kind of history in a few decades. So, now that the “European Dream” is finally dead, I expect Eastern Europe to distance itself from the West. Being in a “union” with the West is like being in a marriage with a drunken, cheating, wife-beater -- divorce is the only solution. Also, being in NATO probably helps the East for the time being, as it protects it from being overtly attached by the West when it (the East) finally files for divorce. I expect a “friendly” divorce to happen.

And, by the way, the NMI is far more prevalent in Eastern Europe (especially South-Eastern Europe). The monastic option was the only way to survive the 600+ years of Ottoman occupation and the Communism that followed it. We’re old hand at NMI. The fall of capitalism will mean nothing to us in the East. Our only experience with it was the neo-liberal version brutally imposed by the IMF after 1989, so nobody will miss it. Similarly, the economies in the East are not really capitalist, so they should adjust much easier than the West to whatever follows capitalism. Personally, I put my money on the East (and that after having lived most of my live in America, the “Mother of all capitalist orgies”).

6:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is much discussion here about a coming catastrophe. There is of course right now a catastrophe for many homeless and poor, to say nothing of those killed round the world.

Yet how do WAFers think a wider catastrophe will look?

I see in the US environmental degradation, an authoritarian state, not in the old Fascist mould, but more sophisticated because of the technology of spying. A vast increase in those imprisoned for 'terror', and an impoverished population - but not overwhelmingly so. Eventually an acceptance of state control by the population, as has happened in Germany and Italy between the wars.

For Europe, something similar but milder, for a revolution might occur if measures are too harsh.

I could be wrong.

The Cathar


6:38 AM  
Anonymous JWO said...


I tend to envision the decline of the US to be a mix of the movies "Idiocracy" and "The Day After Tomorrow" ... perhaps with some "Mad Max" and "Soylent Green" thrown in.


11:45 AM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and fellow Wafers,

Further evidence about the United States of Fear:


Has anyone watched the series "House of Cards" starring Kevin Spacey? Dr. B may have mentioned it in a previous post, not sure though. I think it's a must watch for all Wafers. Check it out and have a great day.


12:33 PM  
Anonymous Levantine said...

Hi, ennobled little day. You said...

I just finished reading your article! [...] A passage also caught my attention: "...there is no relationship whatever between Enlightenment, or self-transcendence, and ethical behavior. More often than not ... they are actually antithetical."

Where is the article you referred to? I tried to find it by googling the above quote, but it's not [yet] listed by Google.

Hi all, I'm a newbie living in Eastern Europe.

2:08 PM  
Blogger For Everyman said...

Dr. Berman- In reading "A Question of Values", and the sad state of Guatemala, I'm reminded of Martin Prechtel's beautiful and heartbreaking works on the effects of Christianity on Santiago de Atitlan. "Secrets of the Talking Jaguar", I think. Do you know of him? He paints a picture of the spiritualy rich and complex pagan peasant culture there before the right wing takeover of the '80's. You'd appreciate it, I think. Doug Carhart, Santa Rosa, CA

3:00 PM  
Anonymous Captain Spaulding said...

Anonymous - I'm dubious about making predictions about what the future will be like, even if the signs are not particularly auspicious. Studying history, you come to realize that events have so many multiple variables that its impossible to do too much more than spin out hypotheses. Probably the most serious indicator of looming disaster is global warming, as this truly frightening animation makes clear: http://www.climatecentral.org/blogs/watch-62-years-of-global-warming-in-13-seconds-15469

I guess the broader question needs to be asked: if, as Dr. Berman argues, it is too late to save America from itself is the same true of the planet? Many scientists argue we're already past the point of no return. Do we need to expand our discussion beyond leaving America and NMI to how to anticipate a radically changed world? (In other words, should environmental perspectives like Bill McKibben's and James Howard Kunstler's be incorporated into any dialogue about our options?) It might be nice to escape to Mexico but if it jumps to 130 degrees - as Australia recently experienced - what are we really escaping?

6:49 PM  
Anonymous ennobled little day said...


The article (see below) is owned by some private publisher. To access it, you either need to go to the journal's website and pay for it, or (at least in some states here in America) download it from a public university library.

“The Shadow Side of Systems Theory,” Journal of Humanistic Psychology, Vol. 36 No. 1 (Winter 1996), pp. 28-54 (I'm the author).

I've been thinking of Plato since I've mentioned him in some earlier post. Have any of you guys read the middle books of The Republic? I'm thinking in particular about where he describes the different types of unjust societies.

9:32 PM  
Blogger John D. Wheeler said...

Quite frankly, I'm coming more towards the AGW deniers side of the argument. Not that I deny that the Earth is warming or that it is because of the carbon dioxide humans have put there. What does not follow is that reducing carbon dioxide emissions is the best course of action. We now know that we have saturation effects going on, where almost all the energy that can be absorbed by carbon dioxide is already being absorbed. Pumping all the CO2 we want into the atmosphere may only raise the absorption say from 98% to 99%, whereas the most draconian cuts could only reduce it from 98% to 92%, for example. Our time and energy might be better spent on alternate methods.

Unfortunately I suspect there is a natural method for cooling the planet: desertification. I suspect by the end of the century Eurasia and the Americas may resemble the Sahara.

10:24 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Note to everybody: Pls start posting to the most recent post, as no one reads the old ones.

Thanks, mb

11:01 PM  

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