June 10, 2013


Dear Wafers and Waferettes:

Time to switch to a new post. As usual, my mind is a total wind tunnel, so we'll hafta go with 181. Hope yr all doing well.



Blogger Morris Berman said...


Check out Jeffrey Herf, "Reactionary Modernism."


5:09 PM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

Here's the problem with identity politics today:


Read the comments posted. For the most part, they're incredibly supportive of this SEAL's choice -- and certainly every citizen should have equal rights & equal dignity. I have LGBT friends & family, and I naturally want their lives to be as good & safe as possible. What decent human being wants anything less?

However -- note what happens when a couple of posters remind readers that this SEAL was part of the war crimes committed in Iraq & Afghanistan, denying life itself to countless people, many of whom had simply made the "mistake" of living on their own land & being in the way. Note how the liberal supporters of said SEAL attack those dissenting posters, making excuses for what America has done, ignoring the deeper ethical & moral issues in favor of feeling good about their open-mindedness.

It's not that feminism, gay rights, etc., aren't important issues -- especially if you're a member of any one of those groups. It's just that they wind up being used as a distraction by both sides -- as targets for conservatives, as proof of progressive righteousness for liberals. Either way, they very effectively sidestep any in-depth discussion of far more pressing issues, the ones nobody wants to talk about. And sadly, in a post-collapse world, they're probably going to be the first ones who suffer a good deal of the immediate backlash, because the Dolts will desperately need scapegoats rather than face their own complicity in what's happened.

What so many don't want to admit is that the only dividing line that really matters now is between the relatively small handful of people with the bulk of wealth & power, and the rest of us. Yes, it IS a good thing that minorities have more of the rights & freedoms they justly deserve -- but look at how many alleged progressives use those victories as excuses for ignoring spying, torture, war crimes, etc. "Isn't it wonderful that we've done these good things? Oh, don't look over there, though!"

And let's face it, those alleged progressives weren't necessarily leaders in securing those victories, they had to be dragged kicking & screaming to endorse them only when polls showed the public demand for them.

6:16 PM  
Anonymous shep said...

Found this on Amazon Books Dr Berman.

Any relation or contact with Paul Berman?


6:49 PM  
Blogger Boris the Spider said...

I've wanted to go back to Ireland for years -- and stay. My two previous trips were just as a tourist passing through, but oh the rural country of the southwest was phenomenal. My wife and I encountered and old man driving a donkey cart who only spoke Gaelic -- or maybe he figured that was the best way to avoid talking to yanks. On the whole, nobody was hurrying around and everybody was relaxed. And yes, the pubs at night are full of people paying attention to one another. But then, this 1999, before smartphones. I hold out hope that some places can resist change or at least hide from it, now that the "Celtic tiger" nonsense is over.

7:24 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

From Agence France-Presse:

"A solid majority of Americans support the US government’s programs tracking telephone records to try to uncover terror, a Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll found Monday.

Despite US intelligence concerns raised by contractor Edward Snowden’s leak of the government’s monitoring of private users’ Web traffic and US citizens’ phone records, Americans may be surprisingly comfortable with their loss of privacy in the interest of national security.

Overall, 56 percent of Americans told pollsters it was “acceptable” for the National Security Agency to access the telephone records of millions of Americans through secret court orders, compared to 41 percent who said it was not."

Anyone expecting that the "debate" over the NSA that we're now seeing will lead to any meaningful, systematic change are in for a sore ride. As usual, the NSA scandal is just another blip on the American radar, passing away, off the screen as fast as their own liberties. Or at least, I hope I'm wrong.

8:21 PM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...


Right or left--all the same to me. Both are just utopians who in the pursuit of their goals have no problem killing millions. Both are part and parcel of the same thing actually--developing some earthly paradise. Right, left, fabian, rappites, onieda, bolshevik, menshevic, trotskyite, all the same. To the victims of the Aztecs being killed by them or Spaniards made no difference. Some of my relatives were murdered by Soviets and others by Nazis the right wing left wing thing did not make too much difference to them and millions of others.

The atheists and the progressives are every bit as superstitious and idiotic (and a lot less fun to be around and usually a lot nastier) as traditionalist religous missionaries.

8:41 PM  
Anonymous Vince said...


I just finished "Quiet" this week. After putting the book down I had some final thoughts about what the book meant to me. But let me say the following.

What the author did was to remind me that being the kind of person that I am is perfectly fine for me and those of us who are not afraid of self-reflection and honest critical thinking. With that being said,

I was reminded of a period in my life before I had to worry about making money for a living. During that time it was so much easier to make careful observations and ask legitimate questions about life, especially our way of life. However during that period of time I always seemed to find it hard to understand why adults didn't always do what was rational or reasonable.

Today I find that after turning off the radio and television permanently, with the exception of some classical music, it is becoming easier to reach some of the same levels of clarity that I had before having to sell my time to someone else.

Now I can only work towards pulling myself away from the system in such a way as to reclaim some truer version of myself. A partial practice of the monastic way has proven to be a challenge but refreshing, despite living and working in the Metro Detroit area.


10:01 PM  
Anonymous Edward said...

America helping the "freedom fighters":

Muhammad al-Qatta, 15-Year-Old Boy, Reportedly Executed By Syrian Rebel Group For Blasphemy


11:54 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Once again, the American collapse comes down to who Americans are, namely spineless idiots. I'm glad Snowden did what he did, but most Americans just don't give a damn; it's OK to destroy the nation in order to "save" it. 99% of the American public probably don't know who Bradley Manning is. In the end, the American Dream is the Greatest Story Ever Sold.


11:56 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Re: Right vs. Left & Nasty vs. Nice.

This grim old Marxist has observed that human beings fall on normal curves in terms of many important characteristics such as intelligent vs. dolt, civil vs. nasty, compassionate vs. cruel, and the 7 deadly sins. Sadly, the curve for these qualities seems about the same for both leftists and right-wingers.

Of course, there are factors that can skew the curve one way or the other for certain groups. For Americans it is skewed sharply in the brutish dolt direction.

I think I do detect a certain smugness in both Orlov’s and Greer’s voices while hearing them speak. However, it may be a mistake to demand that a person be a saint before you’ll listen to what they say. If you elevate anyone to sainthood, it probably means you just don’t know them very well.

About feminism becoming “a distraction after a collapse as will all sorts of isms” – that’s another matter. As I understand World Systems Analysis, the time of a system’s decline and replacement by another will be a time of struggle over whether we move in either an egalitarian-democratic or hierarchical-authoritarian direction – and then the concept ‘left vs. right’ may be useful. That may be the only opportunity people ever have to change their societies’ basic features – such as exploitation, oppression of women, racism, etc.

Many of our ‘progressive’ ideas are actually ‘bourgeois-progressive’, so that bourgeois-feminism, which simply wants an equal chance for women to join the one-per-cent, would indeed be a distraction – as would other pseudo progressive ideas.

Look around you; a society based on exploitation corrupts everything, even progressive ideas. Our perverted society leaves none of us untouched, and ‘The American People’ may need 40 years wandering in the wilderness to get their heads extracted.

David Rosen

12:38 AM  
Anonymous Smith said...

Capo, my problem is that even when you say both the right and left are the same, you still take a potshot at the left.

This "left and right" are the same stuff ONLY gets brought up when the Right might actually be in danger of being criticized for something.

In the end, it's still just a way to make sure the Left never gets a "fair and serious hearing."

And you missed my other point: the Left has paid for the mistakes of Communism, but the Right has never paid for the mistakes of Nazism.

THAT was my point, that when the Right makes makes mistakes, it still tends to be popular, while if the Left ever screws up, it's a pariah forever.

Do you understand now, Capo? It's not about the ideologies themselves, it's about the fact that only certain people ever tend to be PUNISHED for them.

Heck, the Right has never paid for Pinochet, either, while the Left still gets smeared with Castro.

Is any of this clear to you, Capo? This is a subject that is a MAJOR sore spot for me, and I sometimes feel like I'm completely alone in my feelings about this.

6:32 AM  
Blogger jml said...

here's some good news: iowa city is trying to ban drones and surveillance cameras. i think parts of iowa still possess the independent-minded realism of the farmer. it's interesting that this is being done in iowa and not in other more liberal parts of the nation.


6:46 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...


"Spineless" is right. It's really astonishing to me that Americans are completely willing to give up on their constitutionally protected liberties in order to protect themselves against such a minor threat to their own well-being (i.e., terrorism, which if measured statistically causes very few deaths compared to other causes).

The whole notion of whistleblowing has been disappointing for me. One often hears from leftist/progressive thinkers (for whom I have much respect) that the kinds of whistleblowing we saw with Manning and now Snowden will force Americans to pressure their government to change. In fact, I am becoming more and more pessimistic that this is going to happen, because of the spinelessness of the American populace.

More and more, I'm thinking that you hit on a deep truth when you talk about how America defines itself in terms of "negative identity," i.e. in opposition to allegedly evil forces (in this case terrorism). Because if we don't posit that hypothesis, it becomes very difficult to understand why it is that Americans are so willing to give up their basic freedoms in response to such a minor threat.

I wonder what your take is on people like Glenn Greenwald and the whistleblowing movement? From your comment, it seems you think they are incapable of accomplishing meaningful change due to the stupidity of Americans. But at least I hope you can agree with me it's a worthwhile effort?

7:27 AM  
Anonymous Shane w said...

Rhetorical, I know, but with the whole snowden thing, I'm wondering if the US has reached some critical mass of incompetence, if it's simply just not possible for the US to do anything without fucking up royally. He seems like a thoughtful guy and I empathize with him, but he was just a low level contractor without a high school diploma, yet he had access to all that info

7:56 AM  
Anonymous Troutbum said...

Dr. Berman and WAFers across the Planet:

Earlier Mike posted comments on how Americans were not alarmed over the state spying on virtually everybody according to a recent Pew Center poll. I found this note at the Hullabaloo website (http://www.digbysblog.blogspot.com/) citing an article from the NYTimes quoting, " Only one-third of adult Americans can correctly identify the Bill of Rights and fewer than 1 in 10 know it was adopted to protect them against abuses by the Federal Government, a poll made public today says."

While the poll is dated, I doubt much has changed. As a friend says," you can't fix stupid".

New York times article here : http://www.nytimes.com/1991/12/15/us/poll-finds-only-33-can-identify-bill-of-rights.html

9:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

quote:"Once again, the American collapse comes down to who Americans are, namely spineless idiots."unquote
Nube here. I'm glad I found this blog. It's refreshing to read viewpoints that reflect reality instead of bullshit. Hope I can stick around.

10:44 AM  
Anonymous joe hohos said...


My neighbor lent me this book and I think it is of interest to all of us. Welcome to the Machine by Derrick Jensen and George Draffan.

From pg 12 para 1, "I'm not sure whether the Indians, whose lands were being stolen by Washington and many others would be so quick to ascribe the loss of their lands and their way of life-what is these days called genocide-so much to the Invisible Hand of providence as it was to an entire culture of rapacious people hellbent on taking everything that could be turned into money and destroying everything they could not understand."

11:45 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

To MB's point that most American's could care less about being spied on, here is a response I received from a colleague when I asked him his opinion about Snowden:
"I saw something about this guy on the news. I already figured we were being watched, especially after 9/11. If you log on to the internet, have a cell phone or even watch TV or play xbox online your are pretty much giving the green light to be monitored. I personally don't care or have anything to hide. Most people bitching about it are not part of our generation and are foreign to the idea. I almost expect it with todays technology. It has to be monitored some way. If you don't like it... live in the dark age with no phone, TV or internet."

Smoke em if you got em folks. This thing is plunging faster than the Hindenburg

6:21 PM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

"In the end, the American Dream is the Greatest Story Ever Sold."

Dr. B, I'll drink a bottle of scotch with you on this one.

In the distant future you will be known as one of the greatest thinkers of all times.

You are spot on with most of the things you say.

Do you ever feel sad or anger though about all of this?

8:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mike's right, I'm afraid. I subscribe to the print edition of the NYT, because I like to have a daily newspaper. The "Times" has been falling all over itself in painting Glenn G. in an unflattering light, telling us how plots have been foiled, etc. But- nowhere is it discussed why we have to worry about terrorism in the first place; i.e., our world-wide empire of military bases, which empowers our corporations, which endears us to the peoples who get in our way, which leads to blowback... -BK

9:02 PM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

Welcome to America, Land of Opportunists:


Hey, who needs museums or libraries, right?

To update the Beach Boys, "Everybody's gone hustlin', hustlin' USA!"

9:21 PM  
Anonymous The Dude said...

Good news about Prism: "Liberal" Senator Al Franken thinks it's just a swell idea:

Franken, the Minnesota Democrat who is on the Senate Judiciary Committee, knew about the data-mining. Or at least that's what he told Minnesota's WCCO on Tuesday. "I can assure you, this is not about spying on the American people," Franken said. The senator also believes the data collection has saved American lives:

"I have a high level of confidence that this is used to protect us, and I know that it has been successful in preventing terrorism.

"There are certain things that are appropriate for me to know that is not appropriate for the bad guys to know."


Don't worry citizen. This is being used to protect you. I can't tell you how or against whom exactly, but trust me.

What an absolute tool.

9:49 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

To the folks who posted as Anon: I normally don't post Anons, so in future pls pick a handle. E.g., Sam Schmeck, or Cranston Butterworth III. Something memorable. Thank u.

Recent poll by Agence-Presse turned up the fact that 56% of the American public is not bothered by recent revelations regarding NSA and surveillance. What *would* bother them?


1:01 AM  
Anonymous Shane w said...

Regarding the left/right, I thought the US had no left, the gore Vidal saying that American politics is one party with two right wings.
Anyone notice how fragile the powers that be are making the US out to be regarding the snowden leak? I mean congressman, Senators, agency directors are literally hysterical over the" damage"done by the leak. Says a lot about just how fragile the US must really be psychologically right now.

7:49 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

This is as delicious as it gets. I'm giddy as can be.

Fracking is coming to NAPLES, FLA.


This is the belly of the wealth beasts. This is where the money speculators reside along with the plastic housing subprime bastards (I know one personally).

8:01 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I don't post Anons, so perhaps u cd pick a handle and re-send yr message. I suggest Sam Schmeck or Cranston J. Butterworth III.

Thank u,

10:30 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

MB and fellow WAFers,

There is a basic logical fallacy lying at the core of the flawed thinking that it's OK for the NSA to collect phone data on millions of innocent Americans. Such spying is justified in terms of the need to maintain American security. It makes sense on some level that if you are insecure due to potential terrorist attacks, the government should protect you from that. Security is a necessary precondition of liberty.

But the fallacy lies in thinking that terrorism is such an evil threat that we must give up all our constitutionally protected liberties and allow a secret, all-powerful government to operate in the dark. There is a kind of magical, reality-impaired thinking that lies at the root of Americans saying that the NSA can spy on Americans in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

11:21 AM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Salut Gaufrettes

Mike mentioned "negative identity" upthread. I was rather surprised by Dr. Berman's comments on US negative identity when I first heard them, since I've known negative identity to be prominent among Canadians. As Hegel (and Kenneth Minogue too, I believe) said, Germans started this by showing how they were separate from Napoleonic France, and used this difference as something around which they could unite.

Various other nationalities depend on this sort of self-creation as well, but Canadians have to be among the worst.

Ask Canadians what defines us, and the majority will probably say something about how we're not "Americans." Now that's negative identity.

12:52 PM  
Anonymous Swordfish said...

More on "hustlin, USA"


NY Gov Cuomo wants to turn the SUNYs (my alma mater :() into tax-free havens for bizness. To their credit, many faculty oppose the plan. And Cuomo's response?

"[The situation is] delicate, because academics are academics. … But you can be a great academic and you can be entrepreneurial, and I would argue you’d be a better academic if you were actually entrepreneurial.”

Welcome to O&D Inc.

2:36 PM  
Anonymous James Newlin said...

There's a series this week on APM's Marketplace on consuming. The CEO of Unilever said yesterday (paraphrasing here) in response to a question about capitalism in general: "Capitalism is the best system we have for dealing with the economy." The existence of "the economy" and our use of money today are relatively new ideas.

As David Graeber explains, for most of human civilization, our trade has been based on complex credit systems, not barter or currency. Margaret Atwood argues, we should think of debt not as "they'd borrowed the money! Surely one has to pay one's debts!", but rather to think of debt as a metaphor for sin, and calculate the real costs of how we've been living, and of the natural resources we've been taking out of the biosphere.

Final comment: The Amish are not committed to the natural environment -- only technology as it relates to community/family. They see the environment as something Jesus gave humans to exploit, and is why the Amish are strong supporters of natural gas fracking (especially since they can make a lot of money).

3:26 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings from Oceania,

"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."
~ George Orwell

Dr. Berman and Wafers-

The willingness of Snowden to reveal the extent of government surveillance is an act of incredible political courage. Predictably, he is being denounced as a traitor (The Enemy of the People) by (Two Minutes Hate)FOX News and the 56%. He will most likely spend the rest of his life in prison if China complies with Obama and hands him over. Could this turn out to be a "Suez Moment" for the US if China refuses?


The surreal nature of this story, is highlighted by one of my own Senators, Dianne Feinstein of California. Regarded as a liberal Democrat, she is actually a total embarrassment to the principles of democratic government. She has also called Snowden a "traitor" and his NSA leaking "an act of treason." She has the issue totally bass-ackwards; Feinstein is the one who is guilty of treason for allowing all the spying in the first place! Where does she get the idea that the government can spy on ordinary citizens?

"If there is hope [wrote Winston]it lies with the proles."

I used to believe this. However, the proles, 56% and climbing, agree with policies such as, indefinite detention of suspects without legal representation or habeas corpus, kidnappings across the world, enhanced interrogation, extraordinary rendition to black sites outside the United States, targeted killing. How do we turn around all of these abuses as well as govt. surveillance?

"He loved Big Brother."

"How easy it all was! Only surrender, and everything else followed. It was like swimming against a current that swept you backwards however hard you struggled, and then suddenly decided to turn round and go with the current instead of opposing it. Nothing had changed except your own attitude; the predestined thing happened in any case. He hardly knew why he had ever rebelled."


4:33 PM  
Anonymous Sean K. said...

Recently, every year has gotten worse in terms of societal mood. Of course, it's gotten worse in every other way as well, but it just seems that from my perspective, there has been a steady fall in spiritual endurance. The nation is getting nastier, less patient. Faith in politicians isn't just a punchline to a joke anymore; it's truly depressing and enraging. I know some people who are non-political who are sick of heath care cartels and banking fraud and schools being systematically destroyed.

This seems apparent when I look back on 2011, when Occupy broke out. If that happened today, I think it would be uglier. More beatings and less attempts on the part of the authorities to squash them quietly.

Simultaneously, you have this desire among some to hurry things along, so that an apocalyptic conclusion to this mess can be reached and we can begin to rebuild some kind of meaning to our lives. It's a tempting thought, but this is dangerous thinking because things never fall apart quite like one thinks.

I wrote something up a bit back called "The Collapse of American Optimism and the Rise of Apocalyptica" which goes into a bit more detail. Search the name if you're interested.

5:06 PM  
Anonymous Bingo said...

30 years ago in the Soviet Union:
- Many people’s telephones and mail were being spied on
- Occasionally, dissidents were on hunger strike
- A few dissidents were holed up in foreign embassies for years
- Cases of prison torture were rumored to occur
- Disgruntled citizens would seek political asylum abroad
- Occasional leaks about state abuses occurred
- The economy was in free fall
- The USSR was losing a stupid war in Afghanistan
- People who sensed the coming collapse would leave the country

Today, in the United States:
- Everybody’s telephones and mail are being spied
- Today, over 100 people are on hunger strike in Gitmo
- Julian Assange is holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy
- Widespread torture occurs in numerous prisons
- Edward Snowden is seeking political asylum abroad
- Frequent leaks about US government abuses occur
- The economy is in free fall
- The USA is losing a stupid war in Afghanistan
- WAFers and many other Americans and immigrants are rushing toward the exit door

To me, the most pertinent question is: “Is the USA’s historical clock today pointing at 1980, 1985, or 1989?”

2:25 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


US economy is not in free fall--yet. It's slowly moving toward the abyss, however. 5 years? At the very least, we are going to have another 2008-type crash, probably worse.


7:06 AM  
Anonymous Troutbum said...

Dr. Berman,

Here's a comment I posted earlier in the year which now has taken on
new relevance:

The total surveillance state is upon us... it is reality...note the article from the Electronic Freedom Foundation on the new "Stingray" system. Quoting the EEF, " The device, which acts as a fake cell phone tower, essentially allows the government to electronically search large areas for a particular cell phone's signal—sucking down data on potentially thousands of innocent people along the way. At the same time, law enforcement has attempted use them while avoiding many of the traditional limitations set forth in the Constitution, like individualized warrants. This is why we called the tool "an unconstitutional, all-you-can-eat data buffet." Here's the link : https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2013/02/secretive-stingray-surveillance-tool-becomes-more-pervasive-questions-over-its .

Now, Argus is deployed, here's the description : "DARPA and the US Army have taken the wraps off ARGUS-IS, a 1.8-gigapixel video surveillance platform that can resolve details as small as six inches from an altitude of 20,000 feet (6km). ARGUS is by far the highest-resolution surveillance platform in the world, and probably the highest-resolution camera in the world, period. ARGUS, which would be attached to some kind of unmanned UAV (such as the Predator) and flown at an altitude of around 20,000 feet, can observe an area of 25 square kilometers (10sqmi) at any one time. If ARGUS was hovering over New York City, it could observe half of Manhattan. Two ARGUS-equipped drones, and the US could keep an eye on the entirety of Manhattan, 24/7". Read all about it here: http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/146909-darpa-shows-off-1-8-gigapixel-surveillance-drone-can-spot-a-terrorist-from-20000-feet .

They got us if they want us.

7:08 AM  
Anonymous Martin Ramirez said...

@Mike: Americans are terminally ill patients (not to mention ignorant ignorant of their diseases and moronically attached to them), to put it politely. There is nothing you can do to save them- you just have to let go. If you are still in the country, try to apply for asylum before the panopticon reaches its pinnacle of brutality and oppression.
@Capo: The far left is also batshit crazy, but at least in Western civil society, the independent-minded progressives (those who don't support big biz, the surveillance state or the major political parties) tend to be more humane, civil, educated and thoughtful. Whatever their flaws, or their unrequited love for 'Murika (in the case of Americans), you can derive good insights from some of their literature (Counterpunch and Voltaire Net, for example) if you also pay attention to the writers' inaccuracies and biases. There was a time when the moderate right also shared these characteristics, but it has sadly passed. Even in more intellectual circles than Fox news, Anglo-American magazines such as The National Review, the American Conservative, The Spectator and The Salisbury Review all have horribly chauvinistic, belligerent editors.
I am a green minarchist myself, but I pragmatically adapt ideas from different perspectives.

9:30 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Dr. Berman,

I am reading a book titled "The self-aware Universe" authored by a Quantum physicist named Amit Goswami. I was pleasantly surprised that he refers to your work (The re-enchantment of the world) in the 1st chapter of his book.

I have read some of your books (Twilight, WAF, and question of values). I did not see any mention of Howard Zinn and his works on US history. I am just curious to know your views on Zinn's works on US history?

Thank you,

9:47 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...


Have you ever given any thought to establishing an alternative living community, a commune, where like-minded people (read: WAFers) could go and live? Imagine how nice it would be to have a place where you could escape from American consumerism and have interesting conversations every day, with a real sense of community and people supporting one another. Such a place would of necessity have to be established outside the US. Israel has something like this, in what they call the kibbutz. Is this a crazy idea?

10:37 AM  
Anonymous James Newlin said...

The word collapse is used too often -- decline seems more appropriate. Things are already bad for many people (let's not forget other animals) around the world -- climate change, poverty, war, hunger -- we should focus on that. I don't see the point in talking about a potential halt to the industrial economy (though that would be good for climate change mitigation), anyone's guess as to when/if that will happen, and I don't agree with prepping and living in fear. If the whole industrial economy stopped, it's not likely you could stockpile enough stuff or be self-sufficient enough to make it on your own, at least not in America. And I'm not sure fear is a good way (or even possible) to get people to change.

No need to be scared to want to live simply and buy less junk.

12:27 PM  
Anonymous LW said...

Finished DAA yesterday, now reading TAC. I know, out of order - but at least I'm saving WAF for last.

As for current events: every time I hear a govt official say that the NSA is not listening to the content of calls or reading the content of emails, I wonder what they will say when the next leak that drops proves otherwise.

What a bunch if psychopathic liars! The NSA guy was under oath when he denied that the NSA scoops up info on millions of Americans and when people call him out it's not called perjury, instead he just did the best he could in an impossible situation. Really? Great so next time some regular joe gets caught lying under oath let's see if he gets the same forgiveness. Creepy how easy it was for him to lie under oath, it just proves how none of it matters. It's all lies and positioning. Gross.

12:41 PM  
Anonymous Rowdy said...

I think that the US will hold out longer than the USSR for the reason that the Soviets aimed for autarky, whereas the US is deeply enmeshed into the global ecomomy.

Which means that nobody really cared when the USSR went over the cliff (because it didn't affect anyone else much), whereas almost everybody (creditors, importers etc.) will care when the US does.

This is where the USSR vs. US analogies break down, imho.

1:50 PM  
Blogger NearFar said...

Hi WAFers,

The following quote from this article posted yesterday at Common Dreams is another wake-up call to how little time we have left, and that we are in the terminal stage:

"Political philosopher Sheldon Wolin coined the term “inverted totalitarianism” (in his book, *Democracy Inc.*) to describe the current system of governance in the United States. Unlike standard totalitarian models, like Nazi Germany or Stalinist Soviet Union, an inverted totalitarian nation-state does not commit carnage and violence on its own citizens (no “concentration camps” or “gulags”) but keeps the totalitarian engine running by keeping the population in a permanent state of political apathy (using brainwashing by the government’s partner—the media) while the state becomes a servant to corporations (not the people)."


Based on this reading, we have moved beyond "inverted totalitarianism." It is apparent now that our nation-state (in tandem with corporate power) today *does* indeed "commit carnage and violence on its own citizens." Because today the corporate state includes internal totalitarian control through, not only the propaganda system (managing/engineering consent) but also through the prison-industrial complex. Those are our gulags. Certainly with the disappearance of the middle class, there is no longer a barrier between the Super Rich-Power Elite and... all the rest of us. It would seem that a "vibrant" middle class provided one of the last vestiges, or provided cover and camouflage for the illusion of the American Dream, and it ''prevented'' us from seeing (of course, the wool is the eyes so it was consensual) the nightmare we are now waking to, and we are all in jail. Of course, my short critique has been exhaustively covered before by others who don't want to turn a blind eye to the internal workings and distribution of power in our society. And in fact, my comments could sound like one cliche after another strung together like beads hung around our necks so that it is (for some) choking off further discussion. But for those just now waking to this nightmare, this is unadulterated horror. As Ophuls writes in 'Immoderate Greatness': “It is only late in the game—usually too late to do much about it—that those living become aware of a gradual and imperceptible transformation that has rendered the civilization increasingly tired, depleted, impoverished, vulnerable, and ineffectual."

2:07 PM  
Anonymous DrCiber said...

Dr. Berman asked what *would* bother the American public. That's easy: not having a 6 liter SUV out in the driveway that they can fire up to recharge their smartphones when there's been a power outage and their battery is gettin' low.

9:55 PM  
Anonymous Jimmy Joe said...

Hello Morris, I just finished reading How America Failed for the nth time; thanks for reminding me about the current state of affairs...

I was first introduced to some aspects of the coming decline in How You Can Find Happiness During the Collapse of Western Civilization; I don't recall the author. He laid out a 30 - 40 year road map that we have followed nicely.

So, I have been on-board with this type of thinking for many years, and have taken some steps to secure my future (I'm 57). One thing that has repeatedly nagged at me is trying to visualize just how this collapse will manifest itself in practical terms. People in other countries stage protests, throw things and burn things, but it is difficult for me to see that happening in the U.S.

I live on the central California coast; are starving gang mobs going to travel the short distance from Los Angeles to take my food?

I am curious to hear any opinions about this topic...


10:58 PM  
Anonymous James Newlin said...

I was reading your chapter "The Rebuke of History" and I think it's interesting you don't mention the Lost Cause by name. The points you are arguing in the book are some of the key tenets of the Lost Cause -- the arguments for which have been discussed in numerous books (The Myth of the Lost Cause and Civil War History, Romanticism and Nationalism in the Old South, Ghosts of the Confederacy: Defeat, the Lost Cause, and the Emergence of the New South)

The belief that slavery had nothing to do with the war was widely accepted in the postwar North and became part of the Civil War legend was advanced by such prominent 20th century historians as Charles and Mary Beard, Avery Craven, and James G. Randall, influenced surely in part by their own racism. Others also set slavery aside as the critical concern of the Confederacy and critical issue of the war.

In my reading, it seems the hustling north vs the more agrarian south is a false dichotomy -- one of the main tenets of the Lost Cause was that the industrial north wanted to force their way of life on the south. Foster argues that the Lost Cause did little to influence reconstruction, despite the popularity of the myth.

2:45 AM  
Anonymous ellen said...

I'm not much of a fan of petitioning TPTB (since I've learnt the hard way that no Power ever willingly surrenders power, it can only be taken from their cold, dead hands, as Charlton Heston reminded us) but this looks a fun way of giving the Panopticon a much needed poke in the eye from us spied-upon masses. How many signatures will it gather in the next month?:


No need to worry anymore that by disclosing our views we will be fingered for particular attention by the surveillance state-- they already have all that crap stored for leisurely future perusal.
As Foucault noted in Discipline and Punishment "The Panopticon is a machine for dissociating the see/being seen dyad; in the peripheric ring, one is totally seen, without ever seeing; in the central tower, one sees everything without ever being seen."

7:00 AM  
Anonymous Troutbum said...

Dr. Berman and fellow WAFers across the planet:

The story about spying on citizens just keeps getting bigger. Bloomberg News is reporting that " Thousands of technology, finance and manufacturing companies are working closely with U.S. national security agencies, providing sensitive information and in return receiving benefits that include access to classified intelligence, four people familiar with the process said. These programs, whose participants are known as trusted partners, extend far beyond what was revealed by Edward Snowden, a computer technician who did work for the National Security Agency. " .....
" Many of these same Internet and telecommunications companies voluntarily provide U.S. intelligence organizations with additional data, such as equipment specifications, that don’t involve private communications of their customers, the four people said. Makers of hardware and software, banks, Internet security providers, satellite telecommunications companies and many other companies also participate in the government programs. In some cases, the information gathered may be used not just to defend the nation but to help infiltrate computers of its adversaries."....."
Before they agreed to install the system on their networks, some of the five major Internet companies -- AT&T Inc. (T), Verizon Communications Inc (VZ)., Sprint Nextel Corp. (S), Level 3 Communications Inc (LVLT). and CenturyLink Inc (CTL). -- asked for guarantees that they wouldn’t be held liable under U.S. wiretap laws. Those companies that asked received a letter signed by the U.S. attorney general indicating such exposure didn’t meet the legal definition of a wiretap and granting them immunity from civil lawsuits, the person said."

The Bloomberg article is here: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-06-14/u-s-agencies-said-to-swap-data-with-thousands-of-firms.html
The best analysis ( so far ) is here: http://www.zerohedge.com/print/475240

7:51 AM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

@Mike- First, please forgive me for my ignorance. I may be interpreting things to literally. I do have an Autism Spectrum disorder. Again, I do apologize.

There are certain aspects about our constitutionally protected rights that I do not grasp.

As an example, we had the typhoid mary case. She was forced to give up her liberties to protect other people's lives. She had a disease called Typhoid which was easily communicable. She used to be a cook. She felt like she had the right to be a cook. The state of NY felt like she did not because her disease was hurting and killing people.

My questions are this. What happens if one's liberty contradicts one's right to life? If contradictions like this happen then how are our rights truthfully inalienable? I don't understand.

10:30 AM  
Anonymous satyaSarika said...

@mb: You ask, "What *would* make Americans take action?"

I'm reasonably sure Americans would be out in the streets rioting if their bank accounts were messed with a la Cyprus.

Could be wrong, since so many lost pension funds without much of a social movement. I spent my 401k on frivoloties such as food and housing so at least the fux didn't lose my money for me.

10:59 AM  
Anonymous John Wolff said...

I emailed popular collapsitarian Dmitry Orlov with criticism on his predictions about mass suicide and the soon to be popular profession of the roaming storyteller, and of his choice to live on a sailboat in preparation for the collapse.

He responded by doing an internet search on me, and responding to my email with a jab about my sexuality. I think you have to question someone that responds to criticism with an attack on someone's character.

11:08 AM  
Anonymous Sean K. said...


I went to a play last week and my friend I met there kept checking his phone, twitter if I saw correctly. At a minimum it was distracting to me. What's worse is this happened one other time I went to a play with someone else. I was pretty pissed off and I let her have it. It's very unusual for me to get mad. This bothered me far more than I was prepared for. In turn she got mad at me for being so annoyed. I didn't talk to her for about 3 months after that.

That this happened with two different people, both of whom are well read enough to know better, is very distressing and has only accelerated my own retreat out of mainstream society.


A corrupt, illegitimate government can only rule through fraud or force. Fraud is far more effective and so force is only used when fraud is exposed. It does not mean our government is "too good" for violence.

*The criminality of a government is measured not by the power that they use, but by the power that they claim to have.* If you measure the US government's nature not by the power that it uses, but by the power that it claims, then it is one of the most authoritarian governments in the history of mankind.

11:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Morris Berman

"The Pew Research Center has unveiled its stats on the United States' reading habits in 2012, revealing that 75 percent of Americans aged 16 and above read at least one book this year. That figure includes printed books, audio books and e-books, an increasingly popular medium. Readers polished off an average 15 books apiece, a number that was clearly bumped up by voracious bookworms because the median number of books consumed was six." -http://now.msn.com/how-many-books-did-americans-read-in-2012

ROCHESTER, N.Y.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--For years, people have been crying about the death of the book. While reading books may be declining, Americans are reading. Just one in ten (9%) say they typically read no books in an average year. About one-quarter (23%) read between 1 and 3 books, while one in five (19%) read between 4 and 6 books and 13 percent typically read between 7 and 10 books. And, over one-third (37%) of Americans say they read more then ten books in an average year. -http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20080407005211/en/One-Third-Americans-Read-Ten-Books-Typical-Year

I remember one of your books had much harsher statistics about U.S. readership. What's wrong with those statistics above?

11:58 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Doesn't say what type of bk. Most are trivial: wire rack sales in supermkts, e.g., self-help fluff, and so on. Yrs ago, Philip Roth calculated that for every 75 readers of serious bks, 1 replaced them. Plus, I doubt these stats u quote are the only ones around, tho I haven't done any research on the topic since Twilight. Who knows? Despite appearances, the American public may have suddenly become intelligent.


I think the evidence I cite in ch. 4 holds up, and is buttressed by historians other than Craven and Beard. But I tell u honestly, I can't debate the topic anymore; there's no pt. I did a ton of this when the bk came out, and reviewers called me pro-slavery etc.; I doubt I made any headway with them at all. By now, it's exhausting, and (for me) not all that interesting anymore, I hafta admit. Be sure to read n.41, in any case.


12:28 PM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...

On the Pew reading data....

Its very flawed as 16 and above includes high school students, college students and the like-they have to read a book or two or at least the Wikipedia summary. The telling data is that of college graduates or adults not in school--and that goes down something like 75% not reading a book in the last year. Pew is well known for shabby research---that's why they are so popular. The recently published a paper on immigration and Puerto rico is listed as ac country and people from there who relocate to mainland are said to be immigrants--see a problem with that. Anyway the key is the age--16 and over and that adds bias as they allegedly read several books. Usual pew crap. I once baffled one of their reseachers with the fact that kids with bigger feet have better reading scores. She went on about nutrition and this confirmed what they at Pew consider the pressing issue of prenatal health. I pointed out that kids with bigger feet are older and thus more adept at reading.

Key takeway: Be very war of any study from mainstream media or well known "institutions with such positive news--they are invariably flawed. See a former collegues work tittled "check the numbers" published by the Frasier institute. Policy researchers, politicians and journalists cannot do math and don't understand research design. MB--you will enjoy this a famous economist (knows as the Capo) once said the difference between 2% and 3% growth is not one percent but 50%--90% of people don't get this and it has implications.....

1:05 PM  
Anonymous sanctuary! said...

Dr. Berman asked us (maybe only rhetorically), "56% of the American public is not bothered by recent revelations regarding NSA and surveillance. What *would* bother them?"

My answer: if all TV channels broadcast live video of the entire population of various American towns being fed en masse into large execution chambers, w/ appropriate panicked commentary, then you might get a reaction similar to the reaction to Orson Welles's "War of the Worlds" 1938 radio hoax. That's the only thing I can think of. But, of course, the authorities - even if they permitted such a thing to be broadcast - would totally defuse its impact by message-massage, by labeling the victims "Pedophiles" (remember Waco?), "Racists," "Communists," "Terrorists," "Drug Pushers," "Home-Grown Traitors," or other witches.

So, my answer is no good. Have to fall back on an old cliche: Americans will riot when, & only when, the TV goes off forever and there is no more booze in the house.

1:46 PM  
Blogger pinkpearl said...

@ John Wolff

Maybe you already know about this, but Dmitry Orlov was very recently caught up in a sh1storm about the role of women post-collapse. It all has to do with some comments he made at the Age of Limits conference and a blogger named Gail Sawacki.

Anyway, given how all that went down, your exchange with Dmitry isn't at all surprising. On the plus side, we learned some important things about him and his followers and can respond accordingly.

Choose your post-collapse community wisely!

3:17 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and Wafers,

MB and James Newlin-

Speaking of n.41 in WAF, I ran across this recent obituary for historian Robert Fogel.



I think your list speaks volumes. I shared it with my wife and she responded with two words, "Oh shit." Thanks for your insight.


3:27 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...


As much as I would like to emigrate, it simply isn't an option for me at present. And as much as I agree with you and Dr. Berman about the current state of American culture, it is very difficult to live without any hope.


I don't think that our rights are inalienable. Precisely because our rights come into conflict with one another - such as the right to life and the right to liberty - we do sometimes have to give up a right. Which means that our rights cannot be truly inalienable. You have to remember, the idea of inalienable rights is rooted in the natural law tradition, which is theoretically quite problematic, because it makes no sense (to me at least) to say that a right is "natural."

6:24 PM  
Blogger NearFar said...

Hi WAFers,

Here are some more jigsaw pieces to the O&D puzzle:

What is worrisome to me about all this, is that the U.S. is going to have many Zombie after-lives, and that's because, quite simply, we are assholes. That's how we conduct our affairs. I am certain that we (as a nation of...? I don't know how to characterize our country, really. What real good have contributed to the world? The 'hustling ethos'?) are the biggest road-block to humanity having a sustainable future. Even William Ophuls, whose Immoderate Greatness conveys a kind of dignity and equanimity in the face of the worst possible news ...even he can barely hold back his derision or bemusement re: the U.S.:

“Despite its current difficulties, the United States retains many geopolitical advantages and has enormous potential to thrive in an increasingly networked world... However, whether the world can remain networked even to its current extent once critical shortages of energy and materials emerge in the decades to come remains an open question. For an argument that it cannot—that, in fact, radical relocalization impends—see Jeff Rubin, Why Your World Is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller (New York, NY: Random House, 2009). It is also an open question whether the United States can desist from suicidal stupidity. Despite rising criticism at home and abroad, it persists in simultaneously pursuing all three major pathways to self-destruction mentioned in the previous chapter: war, debt, and inflation. This cannot have a happy ending.” (excerpt from: “Immoderate Greatness: Why Civilizations Fail.”---footnote#4 in the 'Conclusion')
@Sean K. - your comments are valid for sure. However, based on what you convey, I feel like there is some kind of disconnect. I'm sorry to say that as I read over the comment I made re: inverted totalitarianism, etc...well my reasoning is somewhat convoluted and it is obvious I must clear up thinking and learn how to write better. I am just kind of winging it. To my credit, I am gradually making improvements. I am an auto-didact. Let me work on formulating my ideas again, and perhaps re-post.

1:45 AM  
Anonymous The Dude said...

Agent - seriously? Have you noticed that the bestseller lists are loaded with almost exclusively with sheer garbage?

Years ago I was an aspiring mystery writer. Problem was, the stories I wrote tended to be noirish and dark, whereas almost all of the successful mainstream mystery novelists were wither writing "cozies" (total fluff) or series work which mainly consisted of cranking out basically the same book featuring the same protagonist over and over again. Slowly but surely, I became a DISCOURAGED aspiring mystery writer.

Frankly, if all a person does is read the crap on the bestseller lists, they might as well spend their time watching teevee instead.

5:38 AM  
Anonymous Martin Ramirez said...

@James Newlin: Even if the "Lost Cause" were true, I can't help but see the modern culture of Protestant/Evangelical ranchers and cowboys as one improvement in American life. If I were one, I wouldn't want to go back from growing crops and wrangling cattle in a materially modest but independent life (even this is being lost to modern capitalism) to subordinating myself under a rigid class hierarchy that also exploits slaves. Most Neo-Confederates probably fancy themselves as the landed aristocrats and members of a Dixie politburo that "maintains order"- yew can doubt they'd want to be the dirt-poor serfs, else they'd hightail it to Canada or Latin America.
@John Wolff: That's a shame about Orlov. Would he behave the same way if he were a lady or a queer? I don't think so.

8:37 AM  
Anonymous LW said...

@ John Wolff

Beware the "doomers." They are all over Youtube and I'm sure a few have written pamphlets that they call books for you to read.

Morris has demonstrated his level of intelligence and analysis so I really enjoy hearing his opinion on the fate of America. But you need to be weary of the people out there that say the end is perpetually just around the corner. It's basically fear porn for the masses who need an adrenaline rush every two seconds in order to stay awake. Of course they never stop to question why the world hasn't ended yet despite the million predictions by these gurus that it was IMMINENT!!!!!

And yes, if you question someone's ideas and they respond by attacking your sexuality it's probably wise to assume your instincts are right, they are a hack and move on.

9:15 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

Forthe Wafer Rushbo lovers, here is a real good double speak sentence.

"The people are going to find out just how expensive free healthcare is." 6-15-2013

2:25 PM  
Anonymous Bingo said...

I have a movie recommendation: "In Tine" (2011). It's about a dystopic society where one’s life is traded like money for goods and services. People are genetically engineered so that everybody is born with a clock on their arm. When you run out of time, you die. The rich practically live forever, in secluded communities. The poor hustle in ghettos, always with only a few days or hours left to live, often buying extra days at high interest from payday loan type banks owned by the rich. The movie portrays very accurately capitalist society today. It takes place in the year 3000, but the setting looks like America today, except for a few minor technological improvements. This makes me think that society is static, the way a neo-feudal society might be. When you watch it, pay attention to the exchange between the girl's father and her friend right after they took her father's million years out of the vault. That is one of the best explanations of the bullshit called the American Dream I ever heard. There are other good lines in the movie.

4:14 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

I hafta tell u guys that I just received, via snail mail, a packet of $1 bills printed up by somebody on the blog (I assume; no name on envelope) with Kim's ass replacing Geo Washington. In the lower left-hand side it is signed "Kim Kardashian, CRE Leader of the United States." On the upper left it says: "This ass is tender for all wants, public and private." Frankly, her ass doesn't look very tender here; it looks powerful, aggressive, and ready for action. On the back side: "In Kim We Trust." I tell u, I was so moved (no relation to any bowels here) I wept. Soon, I'll be posting the link of the "Bermversation" conducted in Vancouver in April, and you'll see how relevant all this is to the movement (again...) I'm trying to start, called moveovergeorge.org. As the saying goes, From your lips to Kim's rump. More later, amigos...


5:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@ The Dude
Well, most of what people read is completely garbage. I once saw a lady on the train reading a self-help on how have to sex.

@ Morris Berman
Don’t you think there is any difference between ignorance and stupidity? I mean the US working class isn’t entirely hopeless. I am one who is neither optimistic nor pessimistic. I know you embrace pessimism. But I think it’s the result of being perhaps too impatient. Human beings have been around for at least 150,000 years, class-based civilization 10,000 years, and capitalism for only the last 400 years. Humanity have always undergone tremendous revolutionary and evolutionary changes. Aside from all the struggles we have seen outside the United States, the United States itself have seen its fair share of struggles. Have you read Strike! By Jeremy Brecher (http://www.amazon.com/Strike-Jeremy-Brecher/dp/0879320184/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1371333802&sr=8-1). I mean, I know you’re a fan of world-systems analysis, but the implications Wallerstein, for example, provides us with requires a belief and promotion in class-based struggle, not pessimism. How else can we achieve the “egalitarian-democratic” model he sees as one of the outcomes of this process?

Personally, I am a libertarian communist (mostly of the class-struggle anarchist variety). My views is mostly derived from libcom.org. Have you ever heard of that site? It’s a huge resource for literature on working-class struggle and revolution. It can change your life and perspective! Hopefully you’re not too dismissive of such views that sees mass, collective struggles by the working-class as important.

6:27 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


One problem w/coming to the party late, so to speak, is that a lot of the issues newcomers raise have been hashed out here many times over the past 7 yrs, and it becomes increasingly hard to keep rehashing it. Sorry. On stupidity: yes, Americans are truly dumb. The brain is quite plastic (research dating from J.Z. Young, 1948, and much afterwards), and has been severely damaged by staring into screens since around 1950, now accelerated by cell fones and pc's. Damages synaptic connections, tons of data on this; see ftnotes to Nicholas Carr, "The Shallows," just for starters. Working class is indeed hopeless, married to the American Dream, and fairly conservative, in fact--all the polls show this. Any revolution in the US will come from the rt, esp. since there is no left, left. This is why the Tea Party made heavy inroads into electoral politics, and OWS fizzled out like stale Coca-Cola. Wallerstein's "Utopistics" doesn't predict any egal-democ future; he says he doesn't know what the future is, beyond the disintegration of capitalism. If yr really sitting around waiting for a proletarian revolution, all I can say is Godspeed. History is not, as Marx said, about progress. Certainly, it *contains* progress; but progress is not its goal. It has no goal; that's just teleology, metaphysics. Civilizations rise and fall; that's the historical record. And no empire in its dying phase was able to reverse its trajectory--not one. (Toynbee, Tainter, etc.)

Anyway, this cd be a 2-wk discussion, but as I said, I just can't do it. Maybe some of the Wafers will respond, they're a nice bunch. You might also wanna read some of my work (Twilight might be a gd place to start), or scroll back thru the comments section of various posts.

All the best,

11:12 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

American Morons Dept., Cell Phone Division:

So I arrive at the Miami airport from Barcelona, and get in line at Immigration. Large electronic signs everywhere: NO CELL PHONE USE. I look around, and at least half a dozen people are on their cell phones. Then, an incident: one douche bag is on his fone, and in front of him--I mean, 18" away--is a customs officer saying loudly in his face, "You can't use your cell phone." She says it no less than four times. Does he turn off his fone? No; he keeps staring at it, and then at her, while she is practically yelling at him. This is a real American; a complete, and utter, buffoon.

Recent New Yorker cartoon: a wedding scene in church. Priest is standing in front of bride and groom, and maid of honor and best man. All 4 of them are on fones. He has apparently just said to the bride, "Do you take this man..." She wakes up from her fone-trance, says: "Huh? Oh, yeah--I do."

How far-fetched is this? A friend of mine in Mex City was having sex w/his girlfriend when her fone rang, and she took the call. My guess is that millions of people are doing this every day, in mid-screw. Time for the New Yorker to capture that in a cartoon, I suppose.

Remember to read yr post-it on the bathrm mirror every day, kiddies.


11:22 PM  
Anonymous Michael in Oceania said...

I don’t know how many of Dmitri Orlov’s critics on this board have actually read his post on the subject of feminism, but here it is:


For me, the money quote is:

“There is a big unintended consequence that results from treating women (or men) as a (fake) political class: it cuts across the real class lines, to the great disadvantage of the lower classes. America's class war against its lower classes is a permanent, full-spectrum, total war, and it is by this point quite close to total victory. Among its foot-soldiers there are numerous higher-class, educated women ensconced in various official positions who, while supposedly championing the rights of women and children, end up oppressing lower-class, uneducated men. To do so, they rely on the services of America's oversize criminal-industrial complex, which imprisons a larger share of the population than Stalin did during the height of his purges, with the majority of the inmates male, non-white, uneducated and poor.”

I see nothing here that MB would disagree with (though that is for him to say!). I will only add, that modern, post-1960’s feminism received huge funding from the Ford and Carnegie Foundations. The same thing applies to all the rest of the “identity politics” of the last 50 years. Do you honestly think these foundations would fund anything that really helped anyone but their plutocratic masters? It’s just more “divide and rule”!

11:34 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Say, Michael in Oceania, those upper-class women oppress educated, lower-class men too (I'm bitter, so sue me).

My theory about end-timers is that, by believing that they are the last humans alive before the Rapture, they give meaning to their otherwise bleak existences.

2:10 AM  
Anonymous Bingo said...


I witness similar morons on phones incidents every time I go through immigration. It’s very entertaining.

Today I was riding this 19th century joke of a subway called “EL” we have in Chicago. My seven-year old daughter remarked that of the 7 other people in the car, 6 were staring at their phones. The one who was not was a homeless dude sleeping in one of the chairs.

I will be leaving the land of techno-buffoonery shortly, this time hopefully for good. But I will miss the free entertainment I get here from watching them make asses of themselves.

Regarding your Kim’s ass $1 bills, my only question is whether or not there is a tattoo on her ass. Perhaps something that reads, “USA! USA! USA!”

5:43 AM  
Anonymous Shane W said...

Reading Orlov, I think the REAL diversity is among traditional societies, as opposed to the faux diversity promoted by the West/US. From what little I know about Anthropology, societies arrange themselves in myriad different ways w/regards to sexuality, gender, aggression, hierarchy, etc. The real LACK of diversity seems to me to be the one-size-fits all politically correct "diversity" approach of the US, and to a lesser degree, the rest of the West.
The conservative resurgence evident in Orlov's posts seem to me to be a reaction to 70 some-odd years of doctrinaire Communist dictatorship. Which brings me to my next idea, someone had mentioned the idea of a zombie America continuing into the future, and I thought, isn't the world littered with zombie empires? Indeed, isn't "zombiehood" the ultimate destination of all former empires, ultimately, a shell of their former selves? France, Britain, Spain, Japan, Russia, Italy (Rome), Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Mexico/Guatemala (Aztec/Maya), Chile/Peru/Bolivia (Inca) It still remains to be seen what becomes of India & China, but I can think of no former empire that's ressusitated itself, all are condemned to "zombiehood", if you will.
Lastly, reading Orlov is very depressing to me. MB, are you still confident in the resilience of various societies during the collapse of industrial capitalism? Particularly, do you feel secure in Mexico/Latin America? Just wondering...

11:45 AM  
Blogger pinkpearl said...

@Michael in Oceania

Not to get into a major debate on the WAF blog but just because Dmitry writes something doesn't make it true. For one thing, that quoted paragraph is frankly a mess. A tiny number of women are elite and highly educated and have enough power to influence anything. The rest are struggling like everyone else, but on generally lower wages. A scary-high number have been raped, or beaten up by boyfriends or husbands. And so on - you can look up the stats on how American women fare compared to other developed countries. It's not pretty.

And that's WITH all these elite women supposedly looking out for their interests. Is it likely to get better in a fail or collapse scenario? When we can't even talk about it now?

I commented on the last blog post that this stuff is much scarier when you think it might happen to YOU. Try thinking about from that angle.

2:12 PM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Dr. B

"How far-fetched is this? A friend of mine in Mex City was having sex w/his girlfriend when her fone rang, and she took the call. My guess is that millions of people are doing this every day, in mid-screw. Time for the New Yorker to capture that in a cartoon, I suppose."

I would be pissed if this happened with me.

Dr. B, if it is true that empires rise and fall then how has china lasted all of this time? What are they doing right that other empires are doing wrong?

2:19 PM  
Blogger jml said...

random thoughts on collapse:

after looking at these photos,


the thought occurred to me that america has been in decline for a while. i am thinking probably most of my life actually. i was born in 1968. is it possible that we have been in decline since 1970 - the year that oil production in america peaked? and if we are in decline, when was the apex? if america was founded on hustling, could it have been possible ever to really have had a golden age?

another observation: at the checkout in the grocery store a few weeks ago, the girl behind the register didn't know what cauliflower was. she had to ask me so she could look up the code for it in the book.

one more: i spent three weeks in a nursing program beginning mid-may before dropping out. during orientation, everyone had to watch a video entitled "run, hide, fight" on how to respond to a shooter on campus. then we learned that sometime in the near future we would be the subjects of a drill where an armed gunman would come into the auditorium where the lectures were held shooting or acting like he was shooting. because we would not be told when this was going to happen (unlike the fire drills we had as kids) we would not know if the gunman was "real" or not. at this time, we could practice what we had learned from the "run, hide, fight" video. i couldn't believe what i was hearing so i wrote this down. most of the students were half my age in their early twenties. no one seemed surprised or bothered by having to take part in this strange ritual. this is the new normal for american students. how different our culture would be if adults convened and asked themselves,"what is it about our society that produces crazed young men who want to kill innocent people?" instead we all have to be conditioned that this is just normal now.

2:58 PM  
Anonymous shep said...

Comment heard on Bill Moyers (Not the brightest bulb - neither was his guest - both have hope).

The original *Ike* quote was, "Military, Industrial and CONGRESSIONAL Complex".

Someone got him to change it they said?

3:05 PM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

Good basic article on dystopian America, if you ignore the required-for-public-consumption note of hope at the end:


My wife & I walked down to a local place for brunch this morning. While picking up a newspaper across the street, we were treated to some impatient young woman in her expensive car honking & screaming at other drivers for not rushing out into traffic -- they were making her wait for a few seconds, keeping her from turning, just to do something so selfish as to be safe & not endanger others. She screeched into her turn, still screaming & cursing at everyone in sight.

And yes, she had her cellphone out as well!

4:09 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Originally, Ike wrote: "Military, industrial, and gastro-intestinal complex." It took a while for his advisers to convince him that this was demented, but finally they prevailed. Too bad, in a way; it's now clear that the G-I complex has had an enormous (if subtlely invisible) influence on postwar American history.


I think the decline began in 1971, with the repeal of the Bretton Woods Accords (see DAA). From that pt on, wealth moved steadily from below to above. Golden Age: if yr talking about a wealthy period, but one in which $ was rather decently distributed, the high pt wd be ca. 1950; but it wasn't so great for minorities, obviously. From a spiritual, nonhustling viewpt, the place was in collapse practically from the early 17C, since the basic premise was wrong.


Well, I'm not an expert on China, but my impression is that modern China has very little continuity with the ancient one, and even the ancient one had huge dynastic discontinuities within its history. The same might be said of Egypt. These are more like different nations, than different phases of the same nation, I think.


4:19 PM  
Anonymous James Newlin said...

If someone stops mid-coitus, maybe the sex just wasn't that good and the phone seemed like a good excuse to stop. Pre-cell phone, people probably just went through with it until the sex was over, since it's hard to just say, "I'm not feeling it". I still agree we're too obsessed with cell phones, but not sure I'd blame the phone in this case.

4:30 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I know the gal, actually, and she's crazy abt the guy. Which tells u something abt how addictive these gadgets really are.


5:31 PM  
Anonymous shep said...


U ever tried stand-up? Ur really good!

6:26 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I take it yr referring to my comment on the repeal of Bretton Woods.

The answer is yes, tho I'm so ashamed of it that I do my best to hide it. It was 1982, and I had just moved from Montreal to Victoria, BC. Victoria is a very provincial place, there's nothing to do, so people drink a lot. I was asked by a local band leader to warm up the crowd for him at a "gong show." I got there around 7 pm; what I didn't know was that the audience had been drinking since 3. So I got on the stage, wearing a beret, and made some comment abt having just arrived from Quebec, and added some jokes abt it, wh/I actually thought were pretty good (the band leader's girlfriend, who was a non-drinker, agreed w/this assessment later on). Within 60 seconds of my shtick someone in the audience yelled "Gong him!", and it was basically downhill from that point on. The band leader rescued me by bursting into some Beatles tune, and I escaped, ignominiously.

Thus my short, and pathetic career, as a stand-up comic. For God's sake, don't tell anyone.


7:37 PM  
Anonymous JWO said...

Tim, thanks for the link to the Salon essay. Typical Salon snark aside, of particular note to me was the reference to Neil Postman, whose "Amusing Ourselves to Death" convinced me many years ago now to trash my TV. Also, his comments that books wouldn't have to be banned because they would become unnecessary to a screen/pop/in-the-moment culture.

8:02 PM  
Anonymous Winter in America said...

Howdy All,

Is the Snowden episode a snow job? Naomi Wolf: My Creeping Concern That The NSA Leaker Is Not Who He Purports To Be.

Wolf surmises in point a. I gather that he arranged for a talented filmmaker to shoot the Greenwald interview. Well she was right on that score. The NYT ran a front page story yesterday (Player in Leaks Case, Out From Behind Camera) on the filmmaker — perhaps Wolf was privy to that before she posted?

Wolf makes some interesting observations nonetheless — as a rule-of-thumb I wouldn't dismiss her contention out-of-hand.

More from the surveillance state, all of which, like the above, is par for the course — nothing new here.
IRS's Big Data Tracking
and from today's NYT: Fears of National ID With Immigration Bill.

Some added context as to where all of this is heading Philadelphia Closes 23 Schools, New $400 Million Prison Being Built

As is, this is a full plate, but if you have some additional time check out comrade simba. His posts are infrequent, but every so often I'll check back in to see if he has something new to say — I would guess he would fall under the category of what you all refer to here as a Wafer. Be forewarned he often talks about what he's up to on his homestead — essentially someone who is establishing an NMI? lifestyle, or as the blog's subtitle reads: Unplugged... The Rise Of The Peasant

8:39 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

Besides supporting the Kim-tushy greenback, I think waffers should get “behind” a movement to draft Dick Cheney for pres. He looks like he’s seeking the spotlight, still going strong, and will probably live forever. You’ve got to admit there’s no one else who better personifies America’s maniacal focus on the love of money and mass murder.


9:03 PM  
Anonymous Shane w said...

Do you think there will ever come a time when the blog will have served its purpose, when there's nothing more left to say regarding US collapse, and you will close that chapter (the DAA blog)? Just curious if you've ever thought of that, or what your thoughts are about that.

9:30 PM  
Anonymous Ken Smith said...

It's Father's Day. Several things happened today that reminded me of negative comments here on Dr. Berman's site about technology -- particularly those disparaging comments about iPhones, iPads, text messaging, etc. You might ask, how on earth is Father's Day connected to mass market gadgets?

My daughter called me from her iPad using Skype as she dropped off my ten-year-old grandson at camp, somewhere in the middle of Texas. The boy was far more interested in joining his buddies than talking to me, but I did get about a minute of "happy grandfather's day" on a video Skype call. Not as good as being there in person, but still it was very good.

Then, I got a text message on my iPhone from my son saying that he just had a reminder from Facebook that it was Father's Day. "Happy F-Day. Can't talk now. Am at CDG going to KEF." What?, I wanted to ask. My son was at the airport in Paris on his way to Iceland. No other details provided. But, I know that he still alive and well.

This evening, I received an email with a photo attachment from five-year-old Nicolas, wishing me a happy father's day. I met young Nicolas some months ago when his two aunts and his grandmother, who are raising him, were visiting their friends in my neighborhood. Although from an upper middle class family in Mexico City, the mother of young Nicolas has abandoned him and the father mostly ignores him. So, his family is the grandmother and the two aunts.

The boy seems starved for a paternal influence and he has adopted me. I consider this an extreme honor. Young Nicolas laughs at my mistakes in Spanish and take great pride in teaching me how to speak correctly.

These feel-good moments today were made possible by gadgets and technology.

I should add here that while I have a MacBook Air, an iPhone, a couple of back-up Samsung phones, and the latest whiz-bang digital cameras, almost nobody in my social circles knows that I own this stuff or that I'm a secret techno-nerd. I still believe that the American culture and economy is going downhill rapidly, with no hope of reversal, but I am grateful that some gadgets and technology provided some pleasant moments.

11:12 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


That's a really gd question. We get something like 1400 hits/day, so apparently it's serving some purpose. But this is essentially a stop-and-think blog, rather than a call-to-action blog, and eventually folks may get tired of that and we'll be getting 14 hits/day; who knows? In terms of action, all I've advocated is
1. Emigrate
2. Become an NMI
3. Pee on Obama's Guccis,
and as the crunch of collapse gets worse, people may want something more in the way of "solutions." Or the Thought Police cd close me down as an "intellectual terrorist," and leave me to rot in Guantanamo.

In a sense, there *is* nothing more to say regarding the US collapse. After 7+ years, we've just abt hashed it out, in broad strokes, anyway, so perhaps it's all over but the crying. The basic scenario is fairly clear, I'm guessing. But there may be an interest in the finer details, as the scenario plays itself out: another 2008-style crash, only worse; the Army on every streetcorner, to prevent social unrest; gasoline going to $100 a gallon; and so on. Of course, eventually the electrical grid and the ethernet might not function, in which case the collapse of the blog will be part of the larger collapse.

But until that fateful day, I'm wondering where Wafers think the blog should go, at this pt. Shd we focus more on chopped liver, and deli meats? On Kim Kardashian's rear end? On the theological significance of Osiris, and Amun-Ra? There's a lot to choose from, obviously.


11:18 PM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

"and as the crunch of collapse gets worse, people may want something more in the way of "solutions." Or the Thought Police cd close me down as an "intellectual terrorist," and leave me to rot in Guantanamo. "

You're a good man who understands. You see what I see although in different ways. I don't want you to die :(

11:34 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Here's something to think abt:

Using the scroll wheel on the mouse works very well to enlarge the images. Big brother is truly watching and it is a scary reality.
So you thought you might hide in the crowd.............

This picture was taken with a camera 70,000 x 30,000 pixels (2100 MegaPixels).

It can identify a face in a multitude.

The cameras are not sold to the public and are being installed in strategic locations. (This one is in Canada)

Place the cursor in the multitude of people and left double click a couple times.
It will continue to show the people much closer, when you double left click again or click more if needed. Amazing!!

There were thousands of persons and yet one can spot and recognize any face.

Imagine what this means... both police and Army have it.


1:08 AM  
Blogger NearFar said...

@Winter - What Naomi Wolf is expressing says more about her than Snowden or this situation. I've been thinking alot about this issue after Lawrence O'Donnell on msnbc mused that Snowden was a high school drop-out, and an IT guy perhaps lacking critical thinking skills, and other inane remarks as he interviewed Glenn Greenwald, etc

This needs to be put in stark terms: either you are someone who has a genuine moral existence or you do not. If you do *not* have a genuine moral existence, you really have no means to process, let alone empathize with, people such as Daniel Ellsberg, Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden...and fundamentally, they must resort to simple stock characters - (ie., the traitor - the crank - the disgruntled employee) - some flaw in the personality, to explain what motivates these actions. That's the place Naomi Wolf is coming from. Not explicitly, but the awkward tone of this piece, not wanting to pick a side, having creeping concerns, Indicates that Wolf may need to re-examine or re-locate her own moral compass again.

I agree with what David Rosen mentioned on the blog here a little while back, when he points out that "a society based on exploitation corrupts everything, even progressive ideas. Our perverted society leaves none of us untouched." I also talked to another blogger friend of mine about this and he agreed that *that's* what the "creeping" sensation is for Naomi Wolf. My friend also mentioned something else which I will paraphrase: either you are a journalist or you're a hack. What's the difference? it's the difference between being (a) guided by principle or (b) being guided by the need to flatter, serve, and excuse the actions of government, no matter how heinous. And the latter (b) is the kind of imbedded world Naomi moves in. That's the circle, and that's the crowd she runs with. Eventually you have to choose which side you're on.

1:39 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...


I can appreciate your affection for those moments. And I appreciate some of the benefits of the digital world -- this blog, for instance. The question is, does that outweigh the cultural & emotional drawbacks of the digital world?

Here's a small example from an advice column this morning, about parents not wanting family members to plaster pictures of their new baby all over Facebook:


Note that the answer boils down to, "Get with the program, it's here to stay."

And of course we've seen many stories about people losing jobs or not being hired in the first place for a single embarrassing picture on Facebook. Conversely, there are plenty of stories about people not being hired because they DON'T have any online presence & therefore must be hiding something.

Or consider this story, about pre-programmed Facebook messages from the dead:


This strikes as rather creepy, shallow, and a denial of the basic truth of death. Which is all too common in American culture anyway, of course ... but it's one more example of leaching away the humanity of our flesh & blood existence in favor of a digital simulacrum.

And of course there's Morris' latest post about spy camera capabilities. Right now anyone can Google a picture of your home from must about any angle. They can find out far more about you than you imagine with a simple online search. Both corporations & governments have been data-mining for years.

As someone once said, the danger isn't that computers will learn to think like us, it's that we'll learn to think like computers. And live like them, as well. And for "computers" just read "the entire digital world" from now on.

How much of our humanity do we really want to outsource to machines? Is the virtual & digital really as "real" as the tangible world? Very few people want to grapple with these questions.

7:34 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Americans Are Weird Dept.:


8:00 AM  
Anonymous JWO said...

Tim and Ken regarding tech and buffoonery.

It isn't necessarily the technology itself that is the problem, it is the universality of it ... it's everywhere. And it becomes a problem when users can't set the thing down or turn it off.

I've spoken of it here before, but think of it in terms of the Amish (and others) mediation of technology. They try to keep their culture by restricting certain technologies. Electric refrigerators are out, but propane ones are OK. While it seems arbitrary, it isn't the electric fridge that is the problem, it is having electricity in the house in the first place, because then the temptation exists to start plugging in all sorts of other things.

I'm afraid I can only speak of my own experience with tech: I have the best computers and $10,000 worth of digital photo stuff at work, but on the weekends or at home all I have is a dumb-phone and a radio. Taking a weekly tech holiday is quite nice and gives you perspective to all the techno-buffoonery out there. BUT, there is no way I would give up the tech stuff at work and go back to film. So, it comes down to how you mediate your tech for yourself. On the blog I think we are emphasizing the buffoonery more than simply the tech, we all are on a computer when we're here after all.

9:01 AM  
Anonymous Troutbum said...

Dr. Berman and fellow WAFers across the planet:

Confirming what many thought was obvious, The National Security Agency recently disclosed in a classified briefing to Congress that," it does not need court authorization to listen to domestic phone calls, a participant said..... Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, disclosed on Thursday that during a secret briefing to members of Congress, he was told that the contents of a phone call could be accessed "simply based on an analyst deciding that." If the NSA wants "to listen to the phone," an analyst's decision is sufficient, without any other legal authorization required, Nadler said he learned..... Because the same legal standards that apply to phone calls also apply to e-mail messages, text messages, and instant messages, being able to listen to phone calls would mean the NSA analysts could also access the contents of Internet communications without going before a court and seeking approval."

Then the article notes, " The Washington Post disclosed Saturday that the existence of a top-secret NSA program called NUCLEON, which "intercepts telephone calls and routes the spoken words" to a database. Top intelligence officials in the Obama administration, the Post said, "have resolutely refused to offer an estimate of the number of Americans whose calls or e-mails have thus made their way into content databases such as ¬NUCLEON.""..... A Wired magazine article last year disclosed that the NSA has established "listening posts" that allow the agency to collect and sift through billions of phone calls through a massive new data center in Utah, "whether they originate within the country or overseas." That includes not just metadata, but also the contents of the communications."

Your Constitution is now evidently toilet paper!

Read the article here: http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-57589495-38/nsa-spying-flap-extends-to-contents-of-u.s-phone-calls/

10:03 AM  
Anonymous ellen said...


I think we might be hearing a lot more deliberate confusion-inducing speculation regarding Snowden. I remember wiki leaks being 'outed' as a CIA front by several otherwise very smart people when Assange was first being hunted after the Manning leaks.
Its a method of ramping up paranoia as damage limitation, and also inevitable under such blanket surveillance--when you know that someone has the capacity to be watching but cannot ever be sure that they are watching at any given time, then people self-censor just in case--which also serves the purpose of the surveillance, (suppressing dissent)--whether the surveillance is active at that that moment or not.

Blame Jeremy Bentham.

From 'panopticon as metaphor':


'The Panopticon is an ideal architectural figure of modern disciplinary power. The Panopticon creates a consciousness of permanent visibility as a form of power, where no bars, chains, and heavy locks are necessary for domination any more'

Dr B,

Police helicopters in the UK have had those camera capabilities for at least 10 years. I had the very weird experience, about 10 years ago, of being tracked across London by one when I was making my way home by foot as all the transport was shut down in the aftermath of some football related street 'disorder'. The facial recognition software is far more advanced than they let on also. It makes me wonder how we have any unsolved crime left at all, although the very nature of 'crime' has been massively redefined of late too, with police no longer attending burglaries unless you catch and hold the burglar yourself or can supply his name and address.

10:08 AM  
Anonymous Mark Notzon said...

I popped into the local library yesterday and found the lucrative "For Dummies" self-help series now offers a volume entitled "Raising Digital Families--For Dummies." Mildly amusing if you read the "for" as in "Raising Worms for Fun and Profit."

An enthusiastic reviewer on Amazon encourages you to buy this book for someone who is going to have a child. It is never too late, is it? But I did read somewhere the very best of pre-natal neuro-planning suggests delaying reading until the second trimester to maximize the signal to noise ratio.

10:40 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

Dr B(eret)-

I was referring to countless, very clever, remarks you have made during my time on this blog. (sans one respite)

Behind every good comic, you obviously, have good writers. The Wafers will not let u down because they know clever when they see it and can thus supply you with endless material.

U shud reprise the role with the beret as it will automatically piss off the french fry people (Southern Wannabe Aristocracy Morons).

11:26 AM  
Anonymous Smith said...

Berman, for another direction the blog could go, let me HEAVILY recommend the following book:

"The Reactionary Mind", by Corey Robin.

He basically came up with a concept to explain why right-wing voters seem to "vote against their own interests", as you might put it.

According to Robin, however, that's not actually the case. They DO get something out of the bargain, it's just not quite what we would accept were we in their place.

According to Robin, the answer is "democratic feudalism". Basically, the ruling classes, in response to challenges, do not JUST crush the lower classes. They also "democratize" privilege, so to speak, by multiplying ranks and privileges; you have to accept somebody having unlimited authority over you, but you can make a Faustian bargain and actually accept that if, in "another domain of human life", you get to BE an authority figure. Sort of like the role of the "henchman"; you have to serve the villain, but you get to beat up everyone even smaller than you in return.

Some men are willing to accept lousy jobs in factories, for example, because in exchange they get to rule over (and in some cases abuse) their wives and children when they come home.

Or, some poor whites historically were willing to accept never being respected, but they could be satisfied if they, in turn, got to treat black slaves like dirt. Like John C. Calhoun's justification for slavery, it puts mastery within the reach of every man, or makes every man a king. Calhoun wasn't technically lying, the situation of poor whites did in fact improve under slavery.

It's not just in America, either: some classes in foreign countries actually accepted being dominated by imperialism, AS LONG AS they themselves ALSO got to be kings but over different people, like the corrupt African warlords for example.

Democratic feudalism - the poorer classes get to be kings if another class gets to play the serfs.

That's why I don't agree with others on this blog that feminism divided the lower classes. This isn't exactly a politically correct thing to say, but the lower classes, in my humble opinion, divided themselves, because they wouldn't accept any bargains unless, to paraphrase a quote from Wilhelm Reich's "Listen, Little Man!", they could keep dogs in order to also be masters. Feminists weren't responsible; the lower classes were simply not willing to "share power". They were willing to be free, but not willing to allow others to be as free as they were.

So Berman, for another direction this blog could go, since we've already explored how the upper classes got arrogant, why don't we explore the arrogance of the lower classes, who keep accepting being dominated in some spheres (factory, country, field, etc.) as long as they themselves got to be oligarchs over the community, or the family, or the small business, etc.?


11:36 AM  
Anonymous sanctuary! said...

The easiest way to discredit a dissenter is to call him a witch. Pedophile works, rapist works (Assange, perhaps Dominique Strauss-Kahn), racist works. Commie, not so much, these days (except when appealing to Am buffoons who old enuf to be on Medicare).

But a very subtle & effective way to quash a rebel is to claim that he's actually a secret agent of the powers he claims to rebel against. Look at the psyche-out involved: 1. It introduces paralyzing paranoia. 2. It appeals to the dolts' need for one-up-man-ship. "I'm a lil smarter than everyone, because I heard/know the SECRET secret about the person revealing secrets." 3. It flatters people by affirming their correct belief that powerful conspirators exist, while neatly rendering ppl incapable of putting their fingers on just who the conspirators are. 4. It creates cynicism, apathy. 5. It throws the concrete rebel under the bus; support for him or her is necessarily diminished.

If they wanted to squash the Waferian Movement (God forbid there be such a thing, paraphrasing Marx, but anyway...), they wld simply proclaim that MB is a secret employee of a Russian or Chinese or Iranian firm, w/ a questionable relationship to x # of ladies, & that accusation alone wld be the decimation, if not end, of this blog - by desertion. Hopefully we wld see thru it, but ya never know.

Yrs ago I got interested in libertarianism, ashamed to say (I was 14), & supported Ed Clarke 4 Prez in a classroom debate. My opponent said he heard Clarke was a homosexual. That destroyed my side instanter. No 14 yrs olds in the South 30 yrs ago wanted to be associated w/ a homosexual. I myself was looked upon askance for yrs after that. O beautiful for spacious skies.

12:50 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Re: Americans’ acceptance of 1984 – The great majority of Americans believe what they’re told by their television – hence, no protest over the loss of the bill of rights, habeas corpus, etc.,(like 1930’s Germany) about which they neither know nor care. It’s hard to feel sorry for them.

In fact, it’s time for Wafers to reread “Gulliver’s Travels”, particularly “A Voyage to the Country of the Houyhnhnms”. See how Yahoo-like the majority of Americans have become.

Some of that small minority of Americans who still have some brains know that the government can and will do whatever it wants to them, and that there isn’t anything they can do about it. This reminds me of something theologian Krister Stendhal said:

“Our age and that age of the first century have more in common than we think… Both times can be characterized as cosmically scared, frightened ages, caught under principalities and powers where tiny little human beings just know that they cannot do much, that they are not in control, that they are just caught.”

Non-lobotomized Americans really should get their butts in gear and either find an NMI solution (if possible) or relocate.

It’s the ones that know what shape they’re in and think that they (and Obama?) can still do something about it that I feel kind of sorry for.

Tim Lukeman—

Not wanting people “to plaster pictures of their new baby all over Facebook” goes beyond “the cultural & emotional drawbacks of the digital world”. It shows that trying to raise children decently in this Sodom and Gomorrah is, if not a doomed endeavor, certainly a steeply uphill fight. The whole environment is cultural & emotional poison! I can only advise parents to get their kids out of here.

David Rosen

12:54 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Wafers can't be stopped. But I hafta confess that this whole blog was set up by Iranians, who told me that when I died I'd have access to 72 virgins.


I dunno...I'm not sure how one cd prove that...beyond James Joyce's short story, "Counterparts."


You mean Freedom Fries, rt?


1:01 PM  
Anonymous in.fern.all said...

Tim, JWO, and Ken,

I have recently come across a very interesting blog, "The Compulsive Explainer", hosted by a man named Hal Smith, a former electronics engineer and software developer. The core idea of his blog is that having become entranced by technology, we have traded our human qualities for machine qualities, in effect committing suicide. Most of the entries are succinct, a bit polemical but quite meaty and encompassing a wide variety of topics. Interesting that it should come from someone with a tech background.

1:17 PM  
Anonymous joe hohos said...

Dr. Berman,

What then caused the collapse of the left in the U.S? Was it the ineffectiveness of Carter, combined with the rising influence of money in politics?
Also, with your positions and the relative success of the blog, why hasn't this blog been shut down yet? Does the gov't not feel you are a threat, since you have no political inspirations, or is it because you hold the position there is nothing to be done? We have talked about the "solutions", but since they are so outside the box and unreasonable to the powers which be, do "they" believe there is no threat from you?

1:33 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and Wafers,

Violent and Dumb Americans Dept.:

1. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/17/catholic-mass-shooting-utah_n_3452993.html

2. http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/06/17/192646711/cringe-miss-utah-fumbles-on-income-inequality-question

Utah is now in desperate need of Mittney.


4:17 PM  
Anonymous ellen said...

More from Snowden, a Q & A for the Guardian:


and he seems to have found an ally in the Chinese state media:


5:26 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I cover that topic in DAA: the pouring of huge amts of $ into rt-wing propaganda and think tanks, beginning ca. 1979. But historically spkg, I don't think the left ever amted to very much in the US anyway, for reasons discussed in WAF. As for me: I don't believe there's nothing to be done. What u can do is emigrate, or at least become an NMI. However, the NSA understands that I'm really small potatoes, and certainly no threat to the PTB (Powers That Be). In terms of the national dialogue, I'm not even on the radar screen. The blog has 125 registered users; WAF sold all of 6000 copies; I can't get an article into The Nation or most of the left-wing websites; etc. I see ads in the NYRB and elsewhere for conferences on 'end of empire'; they never ask me to speak. You get the idea. The PTB ain't losing any sleep over li'l ol' me.

Besides, the gov't wdn't shut down any blog, really; there's no need to. 1st, any single blog, esp. a small one like mine, is drowned out by the ocean of info that cascades across our screens on a daily basis, making censorship superfluous. Then, if they wanted to kill Truthdig, let's say, they'd probably just hack it and disrupt its functioning.


6:23 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Logical Endpt of the American Dream Machine:


6:52 PM  
Anonymous Kevin said...

They won't be coming for us - remember McKenna's Five Percent Rule: "As long as any school of dissent remains below five percent of the population no money is budgeted to destroy it."

7:09 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...


Concerning WAF's title, which I know you've mentioned a few times before...

Its an interesting situation. Editor/publisher (cant remember) forces a sensationalistic title (I'd call it dumb but lets give him some benefit of the doubt) that fits the American marketing model. But it also digs at American patriotism, our holiest of holies...its like saying "cunt" in "polite" company in the US.(something I have enjoyed for many years, god bless my Irish roots on this front) So, the title alienates 99% of the country, whereas, I'd wager, "Capitalism and its Malcontents" would have caught a fair amount of "Liberal" eyes.(IIRC this was your intended title?) I doubt they'd agree with or even finish the book, but you'd have sold more copies...

8:02 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I had wanted "Capitalism and Its Discontents." Wiley just wdn't do it, and of course yr rt: putting 'America' and 'Failure' in the same line was probably suicidal. But frankly, the bk touches the 3rd rail of American politics in a # of ways, wh/wd have probably turned potential readers off regardless of the title:
a) The essential pt of the country from Day 1 was hustling. Ideals didn't have much to do w/it. This, and the willful ignoring of alternative voices, basically doomed the country from the start, and we are now getting our karma.
b) Technology is the hidden and irrational religion of the country, and most of it is crap, substitute satisfaction for being deprived of real life.
c) The story of the Civil War was not, initially, a heroic battle to end slavery, and the down side to that battle was the destruction of the only nonhustling way of life America ever had (utopian communities excepted); tho it was tragically rooted in a slave economy/culture.
d) The nation is now like the Pequod, run by a fanatical ideology and being rammed by a whale. It cannot, and will not, escape its fate.

In addition, Wiley was pretty much a disaster as a publisher. If they had any interest in actually selling the bk, you cd have fooled me. Too boring to go into details on this pt, but I've had decades of experience w/publishers, and Wiley was on another planet. In fact, that section of the company went bankrupt (gee, what a surprise), and I believe got sold to the Turner Corporation.

Now, of course, my agent can't seem to get any publisher to take on the pb edn, and it's probably more because of $ considerations than ideological ones, tho they may be related. But they all look at the low sales figs and say: "Eek!" In a word, I'm fucked.

The wonderful irony here, as I think I've mentioned b4, is that if America failed because it wd never pay attn to alternative voices, I just prove the pt by being an alternative voice commenting on all those alternative voices. So the bk is a meta-failure, as it were. My mother told me to become a plumber, but did I listen?


Yeah, except during the McCarthy era the gov't typically went after the small fish who couldn't defend themselves. If someone was internationally visible, they tended to avoid confrontation. So they ruined a lot of lives to no purpose at all. As far as small fish go, I suppose I'm something like a guppy.


9:47 PM  
Anonymous Winter in America said...


Sharing the link for Namoi Wolf's take on Snowden wasn't meant as an endorsement of her on my part. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts on what you think motivated her. All of what she raised could have been written
by Rumplestiltskin for all I care. Bottom line, I have absolutely zero interest in her.

I'm more interested in the nature of this Snowden episode and how it's being played out. Shit, the media could have been all over this story when William Binney broke it — he was NSA. Fact-of-matter the same videographer who shot the Greenwald/Snowden interview did a mini-doc (The Program) on Binney, which was aired on the NYT's website.

As an aside I'm not viewing the Snowden revelation in isolation — a whole lot of noteworthy events have been happening in the short span of 6 months since Patreus was couped out of the CIA and some other generals were caught up in what we were told were sex scandals right up thru Boston to this — just to reference a couple.

Incidentally, before anyone gets their knickers in a knot, I'm not implying there is any direct correlation between these events. There just seems to be a whole lot of shit in the air — I don't like the smell of it, and perhaps, just maybe it's headed for the fan.

For all I know, Snowden may very well be the real deal, I just haven't come to any conclusion just yet, and I'm not gonna jump to any either. This story is way to fresh for that. We'll know for sure once we see if, when, and how the state moves against him — there's plenty of examples we can use as a yardstick. Nuff said!

10:24 PM  
Anonymous Edward said...

Americans are really funny. Some guys on CNN are criticizing the newly elected president of Iran as a ship in wolf's clothing. They say the man is a fanatic masquerading as moderate.

No mention of how people voted in Iran (90% or 20%).

No mention of the fact that Iranians actually voted to elect their own leader through a democratic process.

No mention that the voting process was peaceful - more peaceful and more corruption-free than the money-infested charade they call election in USA.

11:15 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Hi all:

"The core idea of his blog is that having become entranced by technology, we have traded our human qualities for machine qualities..."

You might find Thomas Carlyle's 1829 essay, "Signs of the Times" interesting, as he says something similar (not that Carlyle is similar to anyone).


As I went to look for the essay with Google, the name "Carly Rae Jepson" popped up. Who the heck is Carly Rae Jepson?

Regarding that Utah beauty queen, she could have been GeeDubya's running mate, judging by her public speaking abilities.

11:24 PM  
Anonymous Rufus T. Schmeck said...

Dr. M.B.,

I've been looking for your new book, "Spinning Straw Into Gold", to preorder it as I did with W.A.F., but I can't seem to find it anywhere. Who is the publisher?


6:53 AM  
Anonymous Bingo said...

"46 shot, 7 dead over the weekend in Chicago"


Just like that song:

Now this could only happen to a guy like me
And only happen in a town like this
So may I say to each of you most gratef'lly
As I throw each one of you a kiss

This is my kind of town, Chicago is
My kind of town, Chicago is
My kind of people, too
People who smile at you

And each time I roam, Chicago is
Calling me home, Chicago is
Why I just grin like a clown
It's my kind of town

My kind of town, Chicago is
My kind of town, Chicago is
My kind of razzmatazz
And it has all that jazz

And each time I leave, Chicago is
Tuggin' my sleeve, Chicago is
The Wrigley Building, Chicago is
The Union Stockyard, Chicago is
One town that won't let you down
It's my kind of town.

8:28 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


But this is why everyone needs to be armed to the teeth, to *prevent* this sorta thing--as I've been saying all along. There is simply no reason why each and every American shdn't be supplied with their own personal predator drone.

Rufus, u angel u!-

SSIG is literally on the verge of publication, and shd be listed on Amazon by early July. Hang in there, amigo; help is on the way!


8:57 AM  
Anonymous Red on the Head said...

Dr. MB,

Here is the 5 minute “Nag-Factor” video mentioned in the above Truthout article. Slightly disturbing, me thinks.


10:21 AM  
Anonymous Dumbisco said...

Alan Grayson On Trans-Pacific Partnership: Obama Secrecy Is 'Assault On Democratic Government'

"This, more than anything, shows the abuse of the classified information system," Grayson told HuffPost. "They maintain that the text is classified information. And I get clearance because I'm a member of Congress, but now they tell me that they don't want me to talk to anybody about it because if I did, I'd be releasing classified information."


This Obama guy is something. By the time he is done, he will turn America in Kenya or Nigeria where monkeys run democracy in monkey style. Don't call me a racist because I am a black man from Africa.

12:29 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Hola Wafers!

Bret Frangipane is the valedictorian for the class of 2013 at Pacific Palisades High School . This is his valedictory speech. He's certainly wrong that America was founded on community; in fact, it was founded on precisely the opposite, and has succeeded brilliantly in that. That aside, I'm impressed:

"You've done it. You've passed the tests. You've woken up early, studied late, and respected deadlines. You deserve this. So here's the big day. And now the fun begins: you are a high school graduate; it's time to focus on those life dreams. Yep it's time to go into the world and get rich. Time to get that business degree from USC and become a corporate executive. To win the lottery jackpot. But before you get out there to fulfill the American Dream, I implore you: don't.

"That is, don't waste your life dreaming for fulfillment through individual wealth and material things. Happiness is not so cheap to be owned. Happiness is so precious precisely because it is often difficult to find, to capture, to nurture. It is petulant and irrational, seemingly complex, but ultimately simple.

"Yet we, who are granted the right to the pursuit of happiness, are led astray by our own selfishness. Run by the individual, for individual benefit, generating plenty of individual glory, our lone-wolf society is faltering. It is not that we face issues more serious now than before, but that we cannot competently cope with our battles because our foundations are eroding. Families, torn apart. Prisons full. Streets forsaken, but for drive-bys and drive-thrus. We have forgotten the very thing that founded America: community. Marx and Engels remind us that prosperity is a collective product reached only through the united action of all members of society. This, a reverberation of our beloved We, the People so universally acknowledged, yet so incompletely fulfilled. How can anyone live for personal material accumulations? I know that I cannot.

"Instead, I will direct my efforts to the betterment of myself and the improvement of our world. How silly it seems, that we are nation of 300 million, each one working for himself! Let us not work for personal gain, but to strengthen our community as a whole. If our nation restructures its priorities, swapping global domination for communal compassion, then we will truly prosper.

"Therefore, leave high school with a common mission. Work diligently. Think with an open mind. Find your passion, and nurture it for your own sake. Then, share it with the rest of us. Forgo the individualistic American Dream in favor of community ideals. We shall make on these barren streets the stuff of dreams tangible and accessible to all. Then, Class of 2013, then, we will know true happiness. Thank you."

While we see a flicker of light at the high schl level, Harvard is busy destroying what is left of higher ed, motivated by tech innovation and economic expansion, but (in usual American style) covering it up with the "democracy" b.s. slogan. Check it out: Nathan Heller, "Laptop U," New Yorker, 20 May 13. This will definitely polish off real education in the US, and hasten our descent into the toilet. But then, Harvard had Oprah give the commencement address...

O&D, chicos-


1:49 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Good day Dr. Berman and fellow Wafers,


If there's a category for Honorary Wafer, I think Bret Frangipane is a most deserving candidate. Good news about the publication of SSIG! I tell ya, I'm like a junkie in need of a fix. Pastrami on rye can only take a guy so far...


The daily level of violence that Chicago produces reminds me of a lyric in The Doors song, "Peace Frog":

There's blood in the streets it's up to my ankles
Blood in the streets it's up to my knee
Blood on the streets in the town of Chicago
Blood on the rise, it's following me.


3:55 PM  
Anonymous Martin Ramirez said...

@MB: Aww, how poignant. I wish Bret Frangipane the best in his probably tough life. Where can I find more information on him?
@Ken Smith: Just moderate your use of electronic technology. Don't become addicted to it. You can utilize it more or less intelligently if you understand it's not a substitute for the physical world, and stick to its more utilitarian or intellectually stimulating functions (be careful not to cross the line into techno-buffoonery).
@Smith: I recommended Corey Robin previously, but thank you for elaborating on his book in greater detail.
That is it for today.

4:08 PM  
Anonymous Troutbum said...

Dr. Berman and fellow WAFers across the planet:

From the "You can't make this stuff up Dept."

A recent poll found that although Republicans think Benghazi is the biggest scandal in American history, 39% of them don't know where it is!
Quoting the poll results: " Republicans think by a 74/19 margin than Benghazi is a worse political scandal than Watergate, by a 74/12 margin that it's worse than Teapot Dome, and by a 70/20 margin that it's worse than Iran Contra. One interesting thing about the voters who think Benghazi is the biggest political scandal in American history is that 39% of them don't actually know where it is. 10% think it's in Egypt, 9% in Iran, 6% in Cuba, 5% in Syria, 4% in Iraq, and 1% each in North Korea and Liberia with 4% not willing to venture a guess. "

Remember, you can't fix stupid!

Poll results here : http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/main/2013/05/voters-trust-clinton-over-gop-on-benghazi.html

4:38 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Only in America Dept.:


5:50 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: And people laugh when I say the country is finished. They laugh!

6:24 PM  
Anonymous Dr. Hackenbush said...

I share your ambivalence and wait-and-see wrt Snowden.

I notice that those responding to Wolf's piece do not address her actual points. Instead they simply *assert* (presumably based on their intuition?) that Wolf has such-and-such motive, that Snowden is obviously legit. And to question the official narrative is just paranoia, cynicism, etc.

Your point is excellent though, that the fact this is being taken up by major media in such a big way --- after ignoring other whistle-blowers --- is itself reason enough to give one pause.

I think perhaps some of those who accept Snowden at face value, while willing to credit TPTB with being surveillance experts, for some reason do not extend them the same courtesy when it comes to deceiving and manipulating the public through outright fabrication and deceit. Such "psy-ops" seem like they could only exist in thrillers, but they are well-documented in our recent past. See e.g. Russ Baker's book "Family of Secrets."

7:20 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

I just came in from outside to post this.

So there I was, sitting in my backyard, re-reading Why America Failed (the chapter on worshipping technology, no less), admiring my lawn (cut with one of those acoustic wheel-driven blade mowers) with all its dandelions and wandering bugs, and garden (cultivated with a spade, fork and hoe) when the neighbours all around fired up their various motorised yard-maintenance gizmos.

Because of the noise and exhaust fumes, I was having trouble following along with the story of Mr. Smooth-it-Away, and so came inside.

By the way, a leaf blower is the Devil's right hand.

8:14 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Always check the post-it on yr bathrm mirror. You are surrounded by techno-douchebags. This might help (in addn to WAF ch. 3):



8:20 PM  
Anonymous LW said...

New Whistleblower story alert! This time it's to do with Bank Of America. It turns out they lied a lot and forced people into foreclosure - who knew??? I have to admit that while I'm always happy to see corruption and evil douche-bags exposed, it would have helped more if these spineless losers would have stepped up while all of this was going on. American of course have no loyalty to anything but their wallet and level of comfort in the moment and as these people say, they were rewarded with Target gift cards for their bad acts. Good Lord . . .

Anyway, take a look for yourselves. Of course this news is all part of a CIVIL lawsuit where BOA will only pay a fine if anything. God forbid we lock them up like real criminals...



9:10 PM  
Anonymous Troutbum said...

Dr. Berman and fellow WAFers across the planet:

Today, I wish to draw your attention to an interview with an honorary WAFer; Henry Giroux, author of "America's Education Deficit and the War on Youth".

Consider the following quotes from the interview:

" Keeping up with the Joneses has been replaced with the struggle to simply survive - and mimics a neo-Hobbesian world in which the politics of disposability has replaced the most minimal elements of the welfare state. With the growth of finance capital, a global shift in power, and a move from a society of producers to a society of consumers, American society took a turn to the dark side, one that eviscerated any pretense to democracy and condemned millions of people to a life of perpetual suffering, hardship and misery. Under the dictates of a neoliberal society, not only are resources and consumer goods thrown away, but human beings are now also considered excess to be relegated to the garbage can of society. In other words, we do not just throw away goods but also people."

" This Hobbesian-inspired culture of cruelty is also an outgrowth of a market-driven philosophy in which economics are removed from matters of ethics, morality and social costs. Within this discourse, society as a construct disappears and politics is no longer about the language of the common good, public values or the public interest. Ruthless competition, crushing the enemy and embracing a survival of the fittest ethos have become the new normal dominating American culture."

" And as the bonds of trust are replaced by the bonds of fear and humiliation, all forms of dependency and trust are viewed with suspicion - making it easier for a society to inhabit a formative culture in which many Americans seem to delight in human suffering, a particularly pathological mentality at this time when so many Americans are teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, homelessness, joblessness and utter despair."

" .... One consequence is the emergence of a kind of anti-politics in which the discourses of privatization, possessive individualism and crass materialism inundate every aspect of social life..."

Read the entire article here: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/17047-laboratories-of-democracy-an-interview-with-henry-giroux

Over to you, Dr. Berman

9:13 PM  
Anonymous Jerome Langguth said...

Dear Dr. Berman and Friends,

Thanks for the recent enlightening posts and links on techno-bufoonery and the perils of solutionsim. Wafers who enjoy classical music might enjoy this blog post applying the insights of Nicholas Carr to the current state of classical music. The blog itself is always thought provoking, and is likely to appeal to many who post here.



7:17 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

It's interesting to see how the same tactics used against Daniel Ellberg are being used against Snowden now. Everything is spun to make the story about the messenger, not the message, Discredit the man, ignore the truth he revealed. I've even heard people dismissing that truth by saying, "Hey, everyone already knows we're being spied on, what's the big deal?"

The real crime here, of course, is that someone didn't obediently fall into line, but instead called The Official Story into question in a very public way. So we get a lot of so-called liberals fulminating about honor & duty & Doing Things The Proper Way (i.e., ass-kissing those in power).

As for the attention, maybe it's simply seen as an opportunity to crank up the fear index & make the police state even more acceptable to the public. Can show trials be far behind?


I agree with you re: moderation in technology. It does have its uses, after all. It's just that so many people forget it's a tool & embrace it as a way of life. Emerson's famous line about things being in the saddle & riding mankind seems appropriate here. It's the difference between using a tool or being used by the tool.


Thanks for the Giroux article. Well worth reading.


Re: the masturbating fetuses story. What IS the weird nexus of the authoritarian windset & human sexuality in its most warped aspects? I know Erich Fromm wrote about what he defined as "necrophilia" in that mindset, a fascination with death & decay, accompanied by a fear of life & healthy sexuality; Wilhelm Reich also pointed to that connection. But why is our society so utterly obsessed with sex (or sensation, anyway), yet so immature about it & so terrified of it?

9:35 AM  
Blogger pinkpearl said...


Oh god, lawnmowers. And leafblowers. Such evil inventions.

My family has a cottage in a wooded area on one of the Great Lakes. Despite the woods, cottagers somehow have enough lawn to need cutting and of course, they all use gas mowers.

From Friday evening to Sunday afternoon, during daylight hours, the lawnmower noise is pretty much non-stop. The sound *really* carries too.

So any thoughts you might have of a peaceful summer weekend in the woods are shot to hell. It's extremely grating, and I say that as someone who lives downtown in a major city, with a construction project going on across the street from my apartment.

Whenever I have pointed out to folks in this cottage community the irony of all of us leaving our city homes for the woods only to listen to all this lawnmower racket, they honestly don't get it.

And forget explaining to them that lawns were invented to sell lawn care products or that lots of native grasses look just as good and require no maintenance. They're totally brainwashed.

It's stuff like this that tells me MB is right. The lawn thing is just not that hard to figure out, but most people can't do it. So we will never, ever solve our really big problems.

10:03 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Nick Turse Revisited Dept.:

The May 5 issue of the NYTBR did a review of a biography of CIA director Wm Colby, in which the reviewer (Evan Thomas) portrayed the guy as a "Boy Scout" and "romantic idealist" who wanted to create "freedom and democracy." Leave it to the Times, eh? In the Letters section of May 19, someone named Marke Lemle Amsterdam gives us a dose of reality:

"The Phoenix program run by Colby targeted not only Vietcong fighters but civilians, including mayors, village leaders, and other elected political leaders, approximately 80,000 of whom were 'neutralized' and over 26,000 of whom were tortured and killed....The Phoenix program was just one in a series of covertactions undertaken by the CIA...."

2:12 PM  
Anonymous The Dude said...

From the "deflecting corporate responsibility for killing idiot Americans who eagerly participate in bringing about their own demise department," here is the AMA's latest sellout/cop out, labeling obesity as a "disease" in order to deflect attention from the fact that it is the food industry pumping out high calorie but highly profitable poison combined with so many idiot Americans' willingness to stuff their faces with that garbage while refusing to exercise that is so obviously the real problem:


2:37 PM  
Anonymous Zaid said...

Oh my god! Dr B, you are 100 years ahead of everyone in USA; someone has been listening to your suggestions about using drones. Notice what the chief says: We use drones first. Then we follow up with developing the policies and laws about using the drones and where and when to use them. America, the land of the dolts and dumber!

FBI's Robert Mueller: Drones Are In Use In America

Asked if the bureau had developed a set of policies governing drone use and privacy protections, however, Mueller said that such a process was just starting.

"We are in the initial stages of doing that," Mueller said, emphasizing that the FBI drone program was in the nascent stages. "I will tell you that our footprint is very small. We have very few of limited use, and we're exploring not only the use, but the necessary guidelines for that use."


4:50 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


This is v. gd news. Once a week, for the last yr, I have written the JCS at the Pentagon, urging them to adopt the following policies:

1. Provide every man, woman, and child in the US with a drone, an AK-47, and a .357 Magnum.

2. Vigorously nuke Toronto and Paris.

3. Start drawing up a list of American cities for possible future nuking, with Newark, Detroit, and Peoria at the top of the list.

They say one person can't have much of an influence, but apparently these letters are beginning to have some effect!


5:38 PM  
Anonymous Bingo said...

I have a feeling things are soon going to get much nastier in Creepville, USA. Check these out:

"Michael Hastings, 'Rolling Stone' Contributor, Dead at 33"


"NSA Revelations Only "the Tip of the Iceberg," Says Rep Loretta Sanchez"


5:47 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Accurate lyrics, anyway:


6:22 PM  
Anonymous Dr. Hackenbush said...

I am enjoying the noise stories. Leaf-blowers have always seemed especially absurd to me. My parents moved outside of town to escape, but in rural AL it seems that not just some, but *all* the motorcyclists shun the muffler. So you hear them from miles away, both coming and going.

Somebody posted above about terrorist drills that would not be announced as drills. Can that possibly be legal or approved by the school's insurance policy? There are so many ways that's messed up, I don't even want to get into it. For starters, what if somebody thinks it's real and shoots the actor, in self-defense?

Dave Emory of spitfirelist.com has been posting his doubts about the Snowden story over there.

And speaking of (possible) psy-ops against TAP, this article gives some recent examples, and waxes philosophic about it all:


"...Given the scope and content of what Hammond’s hacks exposed, his supporters agree that what he did was right. In their view, the private intelligence industry is effectively engaged in Psyops against American public., engaging in “planned operations to convey selected information to [us] to influence [our] emotions, motives, objective reasoning and, ultimately, [our] behavior”? Or as the philosopher might put it, they are engaged in epistemic warfare.

The Greek word deployed by Plato in “The Cave” — aletheia — is typically translated as truth, but is more aptly translated as “disclosure” or “uncovering” — literally, “the state of not being hidden.” Martin Heidegger, in an essay on the allegory of the cave, suggested that the process of uncovering was actually a precondition for having truth. It would then follow that the goal of the truth-seeker is to help people in this disclosure — it is to defeat the illusory representations that prevent us from seeing the world the way it is. There is no propositional truth to be had until this first task is complete."

7:54 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and Wafers,

Techno-Buffoonery taken to a higher level:


Wafers are really gonna hafta watch out with dolts walking around with these on their heads...


9:30 PM  
Blogger jml said...

interesting article about the decline of the u.s. in the guardian:


george packer says that things really began to change around 1978. a while back, mb said that people often asked him when collapse would happen, like it would be a single event, kind of like a natural catastrophe - an earthquake or hurricane or tornado. he said that he responded with something like, 'look all around you it's happening now.' people have been waiting for something that actually has been happening for a while, slowly. it's just hard to see b/c we are in it.

7:41 AM  
Anonymous JWO said...


Thx for the link!

10:51 AM  
Anonymous Edward said...

Bingo stated: "I have a feeling things are soon going to get much nastier in Creepville, USA. Check these out:

"Michael Hastings, 'Rolling Stone' Contributor, Dead at 33""

You read my mind. Read this article about his wife's anger at NYT and the response from NYT:


There is one revealing comment posted under the article:

"The assassination was not enough. So let the character assassination keep on continuing till all people are indoctrinated into believing he was not good at what he did."

11:24 AM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Salut Dr. B. and the wafer nation:

Thanks for that Christine Rosen article. This line especially resonated with me:

"They believe that their relentless analysis of data will solve complicated problems, like the obesity epidemic. Morozov argues that they make the fundamental error of equating information with knowledge..."

Last year at a conference I heard a presentation by a prof who was gushing about how the Internet is giving us access to all the knowledge that there is (I'm paraphrasing). He was especially chuffed to tell us that we are now in the position to know everything, just because we have access to all this information.

While he was saying this I kept thinking about Gutenberg's invention, and what it did to the human brain. Before printing we had an oral tradition of storytelling - and the memories to be able to tell stories that could last hours, or in some cultures, days. Once we had books we could just look up what we wanted to know - memory wasn't necessary, and so ours withered.

If we can look up "everything" on the internet, our brains will have little purpose other than to decide upon which which link to click. Our thumbs will become our most important organ.

I hope at least we'll still have electrolytes by then.

12:42 PM  
Anonymous Troutbum said...

Dr. Berman and fellow WAFers across the planet:

Today, I wish to draw your attention to an article in the Guardian by George Packer of the New Yorker Magazine. He's the author of a new book "The Unwinding - An Inner History of the New America". Quoting from the article:

" In or around 1978, America's character changed. For almost half a century, the United States had been a relatively egalitarian, secure, middle-class democracy, with structures in place that supported the aspirations of ordinary people..... . The institutions that had been the foundation of middle-class democracy, from public schools and secure jobs to flourishing newspapers and functioning legislatures, were set on the course of a long decline. It as a period that I call the Unwinding..... There will always be isolated lawbreakers in high places; what destroys morale below is the systematic corner-cutting, the rule-bending, the self-dealing..... Al Gore made $100m in a single month by selling Current TV to al-Jazeera for $70m and cashing in his shares of Apple stock for $30m. Never mind that al-Jazeera is owned by the government of Qatar....
It is no wonder that more and more Americans believe the game is rigged. It is no wonder that they buy houses they cannot afford and then walk away from the mortgage when they can no longer pay. Once the social contract is shredded, once the deal is off, only suckers still play by the rules."

I guess it's all Gore's fault...just forget 400 hundred years of history. George's view is a little short on historical context and perspective. Packer is very careful in referring to the unraveling of the American social contract as an "unwinding", not as an inevitable decline and fall, in other words it's just an aberration or maybe the social contract itself was the aberration. He is unable and /or unwilling to follow his premise to its conclusion which is collapse.

It's all here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/19/decline-fall-american-society-unravelled

3:06 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Good day Dr. Berman and Wafers,


Many thanks for the article. It's curious to note that Packer's Guardian article about American decline explains more than his recent 430 page book on the subject.

I'm currently reading his new book, "The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America." To be honest, I'm seriously considering returning the book.
Examining the current state of America through the lives of a few desperate and struggling Americans, the book is somewhat of an absorbing account of the breakdown of America and the social contract that has been systematically decimated over the last 35 years. Much of it, of course, destroyed by the American people themselves, but you would never know this reading Packer. The book also fails to dissect and examine this destruction in any coherent or deeply meaningful way, except to say that Americans are hurting. The only analysis the reader gets about how all this came about, is in the prologue; a few passing sentences about the risks of a nation coming apart and how too much freedom leaves you on your own. The most tedious aspect of the book is the relentless optimism of the main characters that Packer has chosen to highlight. As the country repeatedly fails them, grinds them to dust, and turns them into prescription painkiller addicts, their optimism about America never abates. Worse still, is that these people have no clue as to what is *really* killing them. They really don't know what to do with all their depression and rage while Packer wanders from decade to decade using fragments from pop songs, TV shows, newspaper clippings, and short polemical biographies of politicians and celebrities (the winners in America) to describe America's slow meltdown. Over all, there is no attempt to explain America's failure or even a willingness to admit that it has failed. The message here is... America is "changing," becoming "different." In Packer's telling, the country once was "great" because it had FDR and reform and a capitalist elite who were willing to work a bargain for the middle class and create the American Dream... now it doesn't.


3:16 PM  
Anonymous Politically Incorrect said...


on the lawn thing...

there's an iteresting video ("The Power of Nightmares") that included clips and a brief biography of Sayyid Qutb who was one (if not the) father of islamic extremism. In his travels to the US to further his studies in the 50's, he was apparently so appalled by the American culture of waste (people in the suburbs watering their lawns) and the obsession with sex (as it pertains to the culture as a whole - which I'm sure relates to how products of every kind are 'marketed' (brainwashing - appealing to people's 'base desires') and the influences on morality of interpersonal relationships) that it really cemented his ideology of what Islam would never become if he had anything to do with it. Not saying that suicide bombings and the like in the name of a religion is anything to brag about but... his fight was one of Islamic 'traditional values' (perhaps a parallel to the chap. 4 discussions on the South vs North hustling in WAF). In light of that I wonder what Dr B's take is on this radicalization in terms of maintaining a rather repressive (albeit, if you will "traditional") cultural influence on the middle east. I mean, there are a number of factors to consider but I wonder if certain aspects of the eastern cultures had been allowed to develop in their own way we would have the situation we have now. I suppose it's one of those historical hypothetical's but it's interesting to think how all pervasive and destructive the path we are on as capitalism unravels... and what might have been?

"Progress" notwithstanding...

5:45 PM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

The American Dream & its discontents:


The comments are especially interesting.


I agree, the decay has been going on for some time now. I'll be 60 in a few more months, and I can look back over the past 5 decades & see the incremental changes as the social fabric pulls apart, the public gets dumber & proud of it, and consumerism conquers all.

Jeff T,

The next step after Google goggles is simply having that stuff surgically embedded, and undoubtedly paying big bucks to do so. Can you say Borg?

6:06 PM  
Anonymous Jesse said...

The country called the United States is no more; what is left is the shell:

Revealed: the top secret rules that allow NSA to use US data without a warrant

Fisa court submissions show broad scope of procedures governing NSA's surveillance of Americans' communication


7:11 PM  
Anonymous Shane W said...


This article neatly sums up why I'm not afraid of an omnipotent big brother surveillance system controlling everything: the achilles heel is American hustling itself (& American ignorance, which this article doesn't deal with) The corruption of contracting, lobbying, & dishonest hustling assures the downfall of techno big brother surveillance along with the rest of the US. O & D has reached critical mass, IMHO.

8:27 PM  
Blogger plotinus said...

Dear Dr. Berman,
May I suggest that the next time you write to the JCS be sure to include the following suggestions to your 1,2,3, list for every American:
4) Several half gallon bottles of cheap 100 proof vodka.
5) A few grams of meth, not the quality kind manufactured in Mexico by responsible drug chemists but the nasty variety made in Appalachia and the Plains states, you the stuff made out of used lithium batteries, drano and crushed sudafed tablets.
I only feel that this might provide some suitable acceleration to a process that is moving much too slowly. Just some thoughts.

11:19 PM  
Anonymous turnover said...


While I'm not familiar with Norm Ornstein who wrote that article, "Government Privatization Paves the Way for Crony Corruption," a quick look at the American Enterprise Institute where he works shows that Dick Cheney and Daniel D'Aniello (Co-Founder and Managing Director of the Carlyle Group} serve on the AEI's board of directors.

I guess it's possible that a group like AEI can encourage independent analysis, but with a board like that you have to wonder.

4:42 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Very gd suggestions, thank u. As far as accelerating the decline, we've talked on this blog of a "Suez Moment," when the 2nd-rate status of the country will become apparent worldwide. We aren't quite there yet; our situation is more like water dripping on a rock. Every day, there's a multiple shooting, or something like Edward Snowden, or news that Harvard has embraced online education, or another load of lofty bullshit from the president that is exposed as a lie. And so more and more, the country is perceived by the rest of the world, and even by some Americans, as shabby; and from there, it might not be a large step to conclude that it is really a failure, a failed state. After that, it will take a while to realize that this is not (simplistically) the product of Reagan or the last 30 years (Packer, Michael Moore)--which wd imply things can be fixed--but that the failure is embedded in a value-system going back 400 yrs; that the whole "American Dream" was a crock. *That* will be a bitter pill for us to swallow, and perhaps for those countries (like Mexico) that are seeking to emulate the US, still.

I remember being at the Berlin Wall ca. 1991, after it fell, and the Germans had tables piled high with Communist memorabilia: red stars, commissars hats, and the like. It was like viewing a corpse: these things, once terrifying and powerful, were now lifeless; there was no longer any energy behind them. Of course, the USSR literally collapsed overnight, which is extremely unusual (the Mayans being the only other case I know of). But as the drift toward shabbiness and failure inexorably continues, and our integrity slowly leaks away, there will come a time when the American eagle looks like the red star, and the symbols become hollow to all. This is the death of 1000 cuts, and we are living thru it. There is no resurrection in our future, regardless what the left (e.g. the Left Forum) or the silly conservatives say; only the autumn of empire, and finally, the winter of our discontent.

Non-creative thinking invests its energy in how to avoid or even reverse all that. Creative thinking seeks alternative ways of living in a post-capitalist world.


5:34 AM  
Blogger NearFar said...

@ellen - I appreciate your immediate response to my discussion with Winter In America. You zero'd in on the Panopticon, and you nailed it. My knowledge of this has been rudimentary. In fact, I only started researching this topic a few days before you mentioned it. It is so crucial to these discussions.

@Winter in America - thank you for your quick response as well. I feel like I got a better sense of your perspective on a topic that can (potentially) drive me into a kind of frenzy (ie. the hypocrisy of the 'fourth estate' which is criminal). I tend to agree with your comment that "We'll know for sure once we see if, when, and how the state moves against him" (meaning Snowden), but it's not an enthusiastic embrace on my part (and you seem ready to move on to other topics).

@Dr. Hackenbush - although you did not direct your remarks toward me, I have to clear up one discrepancy. My remarks about Naomi Wolf are not based on intuition. In fact, what I wrote to Winter is, for me, an extended meditation on one particular sentence from Chris Hedges' book "Death of the Liberal Class." Writing about the liberal class (and the 'media' is identified as one of its pillars) Hedges makes the argument that in a functioning democracy, the liberal class functions as a safety valve for various sorts of discontentment by discrediting those who talk within a society of profound structural change. Here's the specific sentence I am referring to:

"It also serves as an attack dog that discredits radical social movements, making the liberal class a useful component within the power elite."
I'll have the chance to hear from Hedges next week during a hiking/lecture/teach-in. I'll provide more info soon.

6:31 AM  
Blogger jml said...

al Qa'bong:

regarding the wonders of the internet, someone (although i can't remember who!) said: 'information is not he same thing as wisdom.' we have lots of the former, not enough of the latter. and, it would seem, information is useless without wisdom on how to use it.

6:53 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

I am extremely happy these O&D days that capitalism is dying. Ever since I can remember (back as far as 10 or 11), everything seemed to me to be corrupt in this country. I think of hundreds of examples.

I am reading a book by Christopher Hill, "The World Turned Upside Down" 1972, regarding revolutionary England between 1640 and 1660 as publishing was little more than pamphlets and capitalism had not yet figured out monopoly of the process . It is most interesting and engrossing. Talk about halcyon days. Common people were peeing on feet all over the place, telling it like it is (was).

No hierarchy escaped derision or exposure of extreme hypocrisy.

7:14 AM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...


Your reply to Plot is quite thought provoking. Made me think about the inexorable miasma of decline. Some think (poor deluded bastards) that by voting in the right people or some other fix things will turn around. Others are waiting and seeking either the big catalclysm which will bring forth some deliverance or comeuppance to people they don't like. The reality is that the USA will slog forward declining and becoming shabbier, more violent, stupider and so on for a while yet. Neither deliverance nore collapse will deliver and appear like a Hollywood blockbuster folks, more like the growth of kudzu. American life will continue to be like a JG Ballard novel with empty husks of people going about a banal existence in a amoral, arid, cruel and boring world.

9:21 AM  
Anonymous Kevin said...

Per Greer's post this week, I guess this blog is just a "circle of intellectual heretics on the fringes of contemporary culture."


9:48 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

You learn something new & disgusting every day. Apparently there's such a thing as preschool admission coaches for wealthy parents, to ensure that their precious angels get into the right preschool:


I just picked up a copy of Barbara Ehrenreich's This Land is Their Land, a collection of short but incisive & scatching snapshots of America in decline. What especially struck me were the examples of wealthy excess, reminding me of MB's statement that if money is your value, then you have no values, because money in itself can never be a value.

I'd understood that intellectually, of course, but suddenly it hit me viscerally. I thought about these people frantically accumulating more & more money, spending it on empty excess, and saw them as not knowing what life is supposed to be about. I mean, the very concept of a meaningful life, a life of personal, interior substance, is an alien blank to them. They've got tons of money, they spend it on crap & get even more -- but beyond that, they just don't know what they're supposed to do next. They have no concept of anything beyond more money. It's a void to them. When you get right down to it, how can it be called anything even remotely like living?

And this is the ideal, the apex of existence, that Americans aspire to every waking moment of their "lives" ...

10:31 AM  
Anonymous James Newlin said...

From Stanford: Global scientists sign message on Scientific Consensus on Maintaining Humanity’s Life Support Systems in the 21st Century: Information for Policy Makers.


This report makes the argument that since we were able to build so many planes during WWII, build the interstate highway system, and build 6 billion mobile phones, we should therefore be able to address climate change, overpopulation, and resource depletion over the next 30-50 years.

These seriousness of these problems has been known since at least 1972, and yet as a species we continue to make these problems worse. I see no chance of the recommendations in this report being fully embraced and implemented.

10:52 AM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

Tim Lukeman-

You're right, after the "Google goggles" (nice phrase BTW) surgical implantation will probably be next. Meanwhile, take a look at what is predicted for the evolution of the human eye and face as a result of this technology; assuming we humans are around in 100,000 years:


I'm a firm believer in nonviolence, of course, yet sometimes I feel like yelling at these Techno-Buffoons. Ya know, like Ralph Kramden used to say, "One of these day... POW!!! Right in the kisser!" (Sigh) Oh well...


1:03 PM  
Anonymous Brian said...

Dr. B--

You wrote: "Non-creative thinking invests its energy in how to avoid or even reverse all that. Creative thinking seeks alternative ways of living in a post-capitalist world."

Task for today: write on Post-It for mirror (along with others). What a *tremendous* 1-2 punch that captures so much. *Thank* you . . .

T-shirt idea as well ("non-creative" statement on the front, with "creative" statement on the back . . . but where does Kim K. go???).



2:46 PM  
Anonymous JWO said...

MB and WAF-ers:

A short little triple book review here that may be of interest:


3:13 PM  
Anonymous joe hohos said...

Dr. Berman,

We often talk about what will happen once America collapses, but what if it is like a Suez moment? I mean, America becomes second rate in the eyes of the world, but the Chinese take up the mantle of capitalism. Britain is still around, but now they are pretty much a groupie of America. In this scenario, nothing much will change, only the power base. I'm afraid by the time the upper echelon realizes the destructive path of capitalism, it will be too late for the world.

You also often mention there are something like 325 alternative living experiments in Spain alone. I found this website showing alternative living experiments all over the world, including a bunch in the U.S. http://www.ic.org/

4:25 PM  
Anonymous The Dude said...

MB - "Non-creative thinking invests its energy in how to avoid or even reverse all that. Creative thinking seeks alternative ways of living in a post-capitalist world."

Yep--exactly why even the most well meaning (ie: non-corrupted) liberal commentators often sound like total twits.

In some ways I feel "lucky" in a perverse way that I have and am battling cancer right now in that I may well not live long enough to killed by the collapse. Of course, in my condition and being fortunate enough to have good health insurance, emigrating is no longer an option.

Just for a relevant example of why so much of what America does is unsustainable, the total cost of my chemotherapy treatments alone adds up to around $30K per month.

6:31 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Just want u 2 know that everyone on this blog is pulling 4u. Keep checking in w/us.


Chinese may take up mantle, but fact is that the cap system is in worldwide collapse. So it won't last there either. Issue is what lies beyond all this, 40 yrs from now or so. Buddhist economics? Lots to think abt. Dual process, etc.


Kim's buttocks go on $1 bill. Check out new movement, Moveovergeorge.org (coming soon).


Wonderful bk. He was a great historian.


9:43 PM  
Anonymous ellen said...

Near Far,

My interest in this (surveillance and the machinations of power) is primarily about how we internalise these mechanisms and so get subtly manipulated and then also manipulate ourselves. Probably due to my age(60) and a lifetime of active dissent, I am now far more interested (dispassionately)in how this stuff works on me, (and by extension on others)--since I have long realised that I am inevitably socially and culturally constructed by it and there really is no escape.
Since none of it can ever be eradicated, the only thing left for me is to attempt to understand it.
I don't know where your particular interests lie and no longer really 'do' conclusions, but you might find the concept of 'gaslighting' helpful.


Its the well-worn mechanism at work behind Chris Hedges truthful remark regarding the liberal classes serving TPTB by discrediting radical social movements.

Dorpat's book is the most comprehensive on the subject but there are more accessible others.


7:24 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...


You might check out Theodore Roszak's The Cult of Information, written in the early days of the computer, and Neil Postman's Technopoly, written later into the computer age -- both deal with the vast difference between information & wisdom.

Jeff T,

I love how that projection of humanity in the future blithely assumes that the Techno Age will continue unabated, fully-powered & gathering strength all the time!

For more of the same:


Mark Slouka's excellent War of the Worlds from the early 1990s was one of the first books to deal with this sort of pro=virtual, anti-reality worldview. It's almost a technological version of the Gnostic distrust & disdain of the flesh.

Seriously, this sort of bright-sided technological optimism strikes me as being no different than, say, the Ghost Dance -- an essentially religious response of despair to the collapse of a culture that nobody dares adknowledge.

7:40 AM  
Anonymous Martin Ramirez said...

Yahweh certainly chose the wrong family for me. Unfortunately my relatives know practically nothing about the topics discussed by WAFers, and after months of desperately seeking work, pa found some hotel-related projects in Texas and wants me to finish my university classes there. The problem is that economically, we seem to have no other alternative. If I have to go, I hope I can take detours to Chihuahua or the other border states during weekends and holidays.

8:51 AM  
Anonymous LW said...

Thought you would get a kick out of this:


10:37 AM  
Anonymous Bad Idea du Jour said...



Yesterday, I noticed two young people on the corner, both handsome teenagers, a boy and a girl, not close enough to be together, but they were close and the boy was obviously talking up the girl. It was very human scene, played out billions of times since we scoured the savanna for roots and berries, except that this girl had her nose buried in her phone the entire time and didn't even look up at the poor kid.

In unrelated news, my president is Clare Daly!



12:59 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Good day MB and Wafers,

The Dude-

So sorry to hear about your battle with cancer. Be strong and, as MB wrote, we are all pulling for you.

Best to you,


1:29 PM  
Anonymous The Dude said...

Thanks, MB and to everyone else as well. As they say, I'm a long way from dead and plan to do everything I can to keep it that way.

I had another observation yesterday, but didn't want to violate the one-post a day rule.

It is fact that the Internet has greatly accelerated the atomization of public opinion by enabling people to only expose themselves to information and opinions they agree with, but lately I have noticed an even more disturbing trend--that news and opinion websites are increasingly banning commenters who don't go along with the site's prevailing opinion even if those commenters do not act trollish or use profanity, and back up their statements with sound reasoning and facts.

Myself, I got booted from supposed liberal bastions The Raw Story and Common Dreams last year for having the audacity to argue that because of his horrible record liberals should not vote for Obama again, even if it meant a Romney victory (basically my argument was that there was so little difference between the two that it is better for us to get stabbed in the front rather than the back so at least we are all on the same page about who the enemy is). Other commenters got incoherently angry or called me a Republican plant, and next thing you know my access to commenting on both sites was denied.

It seems to me that America is rapidly becoming a society in which everyone has their beliefs, however misguided, and virtually nobody, left or right, is willing to listen to anything that even remotely challenges those beliefs--in other words perfect fodder for TPTB to keep us all isolated and unable to ever rise up in unity against them.

5:16 PM  
Anonymous Dr. Hackenbush said...

NearFar- I'm not sure I follow your point. You are saying Wolf is just serving as an attack dog for the liberal class, discrediting Snowden? It doesn't seem to fit to me, but maybe I'm misunderstanding you.

I don't know much about Wolf (I get her confused w/ the other Naomi, haven't read either of their books.) But her comments about Snowden just seemed logical on their face to me, putting aside the source. My point was that several people rejected her arguments, but did not specifically address them. Maybe she is a tool; maybe Hedges is a tool for that matter --- he's part of the "liberal class" himself, isn't he? I guess he got booted from (or left) the NYT, but he writes for TruthDig, and they seem just big enough to be compromised to some degree (for all I know.)

I think Hedges' point about the liberal class being duplicitous is a good one, but I doubt he means it in such a monolithic way as you seem to be applying it. Wolf can say nothing worthwhile? even stopped clocks are right twice a day, etc. But please clarify if I'm misreading you.

7:23 PM  
Anonymous Shane W said...

are there any parallels in previous civilizations of the civilization's influence and power peaking after the civilization goes into decline. If, indeed, the repeal of Bretton Woods did mark the beginning of the end of the US, what to make of the fact that "globalization" and the pervasiveness of American "culture" shows no abatement now, some 40 yrs later, as all the BRICS emulate our destructive path. Is there any historical precedent for influence peaking after decline begins?

8:26 PM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Dr. B

You stated: "but that the failure is embedded in a value-system going back 400 yrs; that the whole "American Dream" was a crock. *That* will be a bitter pill for us to swallow, and perhaps for those countries (like Mexico) that are seeking to emulate the US, still."

My response: It was a bitter pill for me to swallow as well. What led me to your conclusion was my trying to figure out how to function in American society, my own personal experiences and sorting out certain contradictions. We are a business culture and that is the flaw. It is out of balance and out of whack. This whole business culture goes against who and what I am. This whole business culture sucks out your soul.

My question is how do I reason with my Significant Other and convince her that this whole business culture and the American dream is the flaw? I love her a lot and I feel like this business culture is ripping her soul a part.

Mr. Tim Lukeman, you seem to have cultivated your soul? How do I do what you have done? How do I develop an inner rich experience? There has to be something that is beyond this soul sucking existence that is the business culture of America.

Tim, I hate this business culture with a passion and the darkness and coldness that it brings. I think it is slowly destroying my wife. It is like the "Nothing" on the movie called "The Never Ending Story."

What is beyond all of this? I must know and I need to know.

12:25 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Gd question, and I don't have an immediate answer. But civs have different parts. On a cultural and ideational level, the US is still influential, quite obviously. As you note, other countries think the American Dream is where it's at, and sit around watching reruns of "Friends" on their TV sets. It's a mad world.


6:43 AM  
Anonymous ellen said...

Edward Snowden leaves HK:


Bad Idea,

Go Clare Daly! Time someone said it in a parliamentary space. Enda Kenny's response was a masterclass in blustering evasion of the point.

8:38 AM  
Blogger NearFar said...

Hi Wafers,

I'm on the road now to take part in this:


Here's how it happened Wafers: I was on a waiting list for this backpacking trip. A month ago 2 participants cancelled and I got in. Very cool & a fine opportunity, indeed!
@ ellen & Dr. Hackenbush - thank you for your feedback, both of these deserve thoughtful responses. I am driving through Maryland now, on the way to New Hampshire (see above link). I'll reflect on these points while I'm driving and will engage with you in the coming days (good news: do I really need to take techno-buffoonery up Mt. Washington?). Anyhow, I will check out this gaslighting concept ellen. I have heard the term but have no working knowledge of it, and had not been given the impetus to look into it further until your remarks. Thanks Dr. Hackenbush, excellent: your points are certainly valid and bring some crucial questions into sharper focus. I have some of my notes with me, and so I can flesh the thing out. Here's more of the Hedges quote, because my characterization of the entire passage in my remarks above is misleading:

"In a traditional democracy, the liberal class functions as a safety valve. It makes piecemeal and incremental reform possible. It offers hope for change and proposes gradual steps toward greater equality. It endows the state and the mechanisms of power with virtue. It also serves as an attack dog that discredits radical social movements, making the liberal class a useful component within the power elite." Hedges also says this in a nearby passage, and what he is referring to how these various discredited pillars of the liberal class continue to live long after their death: "it has lent its voice to hollow acts of political theater, and the pretense that democratic debate and choice continue to exist." The liberal class "lives on" in a kind of myth. What I think I'm pointing to is that the ideological and cultural/social mechanisms and structual iterations that are in place continue "operating" even after their death. Like it's on "automatic pilot" when we know its on life support, at best. This kind of intersects with shep's question to MB above, perhaps. But the thing is, when I read something like Naomi Wolf's remarks, it's pretty clear to me that Wolf doesn't realize her "profession" is dead, that it's the end-game now she's playing. And she wants to talk to her readers about a creeping sensation, that she admires Glenn Greenwald but she's been talking to a high placed official in the intelligence community, and so she wants to let her readers know that she's afraid that Snowden may not be who we think he is?

10:10 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

A bit more about the usefulness of the liberal class to the powers that be.

Just look at how nearly all liberal bastions excoriated & condemned Martin Luther King in the last year of his life, after he came out against the Vietnam War, called America the greatest purveyor of violence in the world, and attacked rapacious capitalism itself. This is never taught in schools, of course, where they want grade schoolers to get a bland, vaguely noble image of A Great Man they can never be. But just do a little research & you'll see just how vicious they got -- the NY Times had more than one editorial calling him foolish, misguided, destroying the progress he had made, etc. -- and that was the mildest of it.

Really, how is this any different than many good liberals today standing up for gay rights & such? Not that fighting discrimination is a bad thing, far from it! But it's useful, it directs political & social energies & attention to tweaking the most blatantly ugly things, without ever touching the deeper issues. As long as everything remains the same & runs smoothly, that's all they want. Yes, invite more marginalized people on board the Titanic; just don't ever question its course.


I can't pretend to have discovered any secret, much less to have achieved some high level of inner peace & enlightenment. What I am striving to do is immerse my mind & soul in quality & substance as much as possible -- books, films, music, Nature, etc. It's a constant struggle to deal with the voices of superficial consumerist culture, because you have to be aware of them & understand them in order to reject them.

Do you have a blog or email? That's probably the best place to discuss this topic in depth.

10:50 AM  
Blogger NearFar said...

errata: I meant Shane's question to MB, not shep's: ie., there may be a correspondence between how the "liberal class" lives on in a kind of self-perpetuating momentum after its death (after it has been, among other things, discredited. And long past the time when it should not have ceded its role and function to the machinations of the corporate state. This is a mixed-blessing, because the bitter truth is that the power elite needed the liberal class in its role as both a safety valve for popular movements and civil discontent and its role as, finally, an attack dog to discredit those who would give voice and praxis to the necessity to make profound structural changes in our society). So the corporate state and the power elite screwed themselves, in a sense.)...apologies for my 2nd post in one day.

11:29 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

There is a burgeoning new double speak within the frightened multitudes today. They call renting (cars, rooms etc.): "Sharing".

See the new phenomenon on this Sunday Morning on CBS clip.


The American douche bag populace will next roar toward alchemy.

11:37 AM  
Blogger Sarasvati said...


Like Morris said: we’re pulling for you. I also cannot leave the country due to a serious health condition: progressive MS. Over the past seven years I’ve watched my physical ability deteriorate to the point that I have to use an electric wheelchair and my energy level is practically non-existent…even keyboarding is difficult. Oy!

I’m also very familiar with our “health care” system, which is really a very expensive “band-aid” system, nothing to do with health. I avoid mainstream medicine because for me it’s caused additional problems, but have had to bite the bullet and take medicine to help me function. Both my husband and I are retired and income-qualify for assistance, so it’s free instead of a $500/month co-pay. Nothing like this country’s ability to make money off of someone else’s tragedy, eh?

I sometimes get angry at the “universe” because as far as I can see I have the double whammy. Not only do I have this stinking disability, but I also know very directly that I (all of us actually) don’t exist as who and what I think I am, but live the illusion because the truth isn’t my day-to-day experience. But one or the other, please, preferably the latter because that way none of it would actually matter.

But, so much for Metaphysics. Today that old Chinese curse holds sway: “May you live in interesting times.”

Hang in there and know you’re not alone.

12:23 PM  
Anonymous Shane W said...


Everyone's been talking about a "Suez moment", is Edward Snowden the US "Suez moment", certainly seems like a blatant snub to me by a lot of countries.
by my reasoning, sub-Saharan Africa is the most peripheral, least engaged with global techno capitalism. If it follows that a renaissance occurs on the periphery, wouldn't sub-Saharan Africa be the best candidate, since it's the least engaged/affected by industrial techno-capitalism?
Also, as has been mentioned before, I think the analogy of addiction goes a long way towards describing modern techno industrial capitalism. We've already mentioned that capitalism depends on maximization rather than optimization, which is shared by addiction as well. I mean, the only way to effectively describe modern consumerism is through the lens of addiction, and all marketing and advertising is focused on getting consumers hooked. To me, everything can be seen through the lens of addiction, especially why cultures that supposedly hate the American way still manage to be saturated with American culture and influence. Addiction does make people do things that are contrary to their values and best interest....

3:40 PM  
Anonymous For What it's Worth said...


Even in this f*cked up culture that's in rapid decline, it's still true that you are responsible for discovering and engaging in what is meaningful. Spend time in nature. Make art; write, paint, photograph. Do charity work. Find groups of like-minded people and spend time with them (this blog is a good start, but face to face contact is even better)

Here's a video I came across today. While it's not in the U.S., it does show what one man can do that has meaning and value.


3:52 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


WSA doesn't talk in terms of renaissance from the periphery, but of resistance and rebellion. Not likely to occur in sub-Saharan Africa, I'm guessing. Venezuela more likely, etc. Also core countries contain peripheries, and peripheral ones contain cores. Check out their lit.


4:15 PM  
Anonymous Jesse said...

To Dr B: I know you talk to Chris Hedges. I have a message to Chris through you.

Shane W said that Edward Smowden could be the Suez moment for USA; here is the article Shane posted:

Here is a quote from the article:
"The bottom line is very simple: allies are supposed to treat each other in decent ways and Putin always seems almost eager to put a finger in the eye of the United States, whether it is Syria, Iran and now of course with Snowden," Schumer said on CNN's State of the Union.

Chuck Schumer took millions and millions of dollars from the thieves in the Wall Street during the healthcare debates. This was why public option was excluded. This is why no laws can be passed in Congress to help the American people. This is why thousands of Americans die yearly due to lack of access to medical care. Chuck Schumer is also yet to utter a word about the mortgage heist by his friends and sponsors in the Wall Street. Therefore, Schumer has no moral basis to call Snowden a traitor. It is interesting that Schumer mentions Iran and Syria in his utterance above because he wants to send young Americans to go to war in Syria and Iran so as to defend Israel. This is also treason.

Message to Chris Hedges:
The people of Occupy Wall Street need to adapt to the current realities. People who love America should think like Edward Smowden. You cannot fight the US government directly. You cannot fight the traitors in the US Congress directly. But you can fight them indirectly. You should recruit people who inside NSA, FBI, and CIA and then use them to cause HUGE problems for Obama and other thieves and traitors in the current US government.

5:09 PM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Mr. Tim Lukeman

You can either email me at cubedemon@yahoo.com or you can write a comment on my blog at


7:11 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Morris, you may remember me from a couple years ago. I wanted to move to small town Kansas to learn a different culture and skills. Lead a neo-monastic life and so on. Alas, this was America and, as you'd expect, my radical and generous project was crushed immediately when i realized the sellers of my property had lied to me on every occasion (as did the documents) and my old schoolhouse was filled with friable and deadly asbestos. I had inherited a death-trap. No recourse for me in Red State Kansas, so this now-homeless Upper West Side Jew spent some time sleeping in my 99 Buick and old lady's garage in Lorraine, KS (pop. 100 and dying). So another sign that points to the end of humanity and us, as you'd say, eating ourselves. Needless to say, America is far past the point of redemption, but don'tcha think it's worth it to create institutions here and now that prepare for the collapse and help convey a better way forward? Or it is just entirely pointless to try anything here at all. Amerikkka, I just can't quit you!

8:15 PM  
Anonymous Dr. Hackenbush said...

NearFar- good on you for getting into that trek. hope it goes well, sounds nice.

Responding to your clarification: I agree with the Hedges point in general, I'm just not sure it's a useful frame to apply to Wolf's brief notes on Snowden.

For one thing, isn't most of the "liberal class" pro-Snowden? It's more the establishment types who are bashing him, not the "softer gentler capitalism" types.

For another, Wolf isn't bashing him along the standard lines, that she disagrees with any violation of his oath of secrecy, no matter what principle he's standing on; she's saying he might be (knowingly or not) part of some weird psy-ops play on the public's naive and credulous nature.

That sort of argument, which verges on the dread "conspiracy theory" bugaboo, is really only ever made by marginalized, "radical" voices. The "useful" liberal class Hedges talks about never, or rarely, makes that kind of argument (and when they do, e.g. Watergate, odds are IT IS ITSELF a ploy of some sort! That is, Watergate was not what it was sold as to the public.) Ordinarily, the useful liberal class acts as if psy-ops type behavior never exists in the real world, that you can take the mainstream narratives at face value.

anyways, probably starting to beat this horse to death, and I do play a horse doctor, so...

10:46 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Jesus, what a horror story. Don't u have any legal recourse at all?
As for trying to change things or whatever: you might wanna reread NMI section of Twilight bk, as well as Joel Magnuson's recent "The Approaching Great Transformation." But ultimately, you need to think abt emigrating. The US is no big deal, really; it's not some magical nation, and there are many countries that are far more interesting. Spread yr wings, live a little!


11:52 PM  
Anonymous ellen said...

Dr Hackenbush said:

For one thing, isn't most of the "liberal class" pro-Snowden? It's more the establishment types who are bashing him, not the "softer gentler capitalism" types.

I think that most of the "liberal class" (those with no journalistic access) are silent on the issue until they see which way the wind is blowing. The liberal class values the status quo and have their own comfortable positions and world-view to defend against all-comers. It is in their interests to not rock the boat. Ed Snowden, like Manning, has the potential to be a 'Suez moment'--but once the liberal classes realise that they will turn against and vilify him. The liberal class is part of the establishment. The Guardian newspaper is not some radical beacon of crusading light--it is profit driven and trying to capture a slice of the US market, it just knows its profit centre and caters, to a degree, to the softer aspirations of the liberal class, thus providing an outlet for discontent without ever disturbing the status quo.

Manning is currently on trial, Turkey, Greece and Brazil are in public insurrection --who is reporting from the ground on that now? I can only find updates and comprehensive coverage on anarchist outlets.

6:06 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

I always wanted to go on the Hedges' trek. Glad to hear a wafer is participating and will ultimately share some comments with us old beat up wayfarers that are slowly dying (happily) and unable to participate for physical reasons.

I, for one, have always, always admired Chris Hedges. He stands very tall. I rate him with the highest of the highs. Much like Phillip and Frida Berrigan of non-violence.

I suspect if Hedges wasn't a bona fide Christian, he would be a damn good serial vigilante.

6:54 AM  
Anonymous ellen said...

Ecuador's Foreign Minister is now holding a press conference in Hanoi for the press pack seeking Snowden, a complex piece of theatre playing out:


8:44 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Try to post only once a day. It's hard, I know, because this is the most exciting website in the entire universe.


Are Wafers also wayfarers? Time to take a poll.


9:13 AM  
Blogger Cj said...

Hello Professor, here's an article in The Guardian you may find of interest: Decline and fall: how American society unravelled


Hope all is well,

9:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Back in after some moving around and taking care of business.

I'm currently working in Ho Chi Minh city in Vietnam at a language school. Another interesting experience in SE Asia.

In a future post I'd like to mention in some more detail a Buddhist retreat I took in Thailand (may be related to New Monastic Option).

Tonight though in a discussion with about 23 of my Vietnamese students the discussion of what country they most want to visit came up. Only 4 out of 23 listed the USA as a first choice of destinations. It's quite subjective but may point to the question of US influence in the world. The students here are as influenced by Korean and Japanese pop culture as US culture and look at Taiwan and Singapore as economic models to follow.

I wouldn't be surprised to see the US fade into relative obscurity in some regions in the world as much as going out with a bang.

More on other topics soon!

El Juero

11:02 AM  
Anonymous Dr. Hackenbush said...

ellen- I think I largely agree with you. It's hard sometimes when using these nebulous phrases like "liberal class" to be clear within just a few sentences.

I know there are those who wait to see which way the wind blows. My emphasis in using the term "liberal class" was on those who are genuinely, but mildly, reformist: the ones who attempt to ameliorate the worst ills of the system, while preserving its core nature intact.

True, they're also part of the establishment; I spoke too loosely in trying to make a distinction between them and the *hardcore* establishment types.

6:48 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

a horror story indeed. tough crowd and tough town. lucky i'm 6'6" and befriended an offensive lineman otherwise my outsider ass woulda been in real trouble...amazed my jaw was never tested. anywho, i have no recourse. i found the school documents showing that asbestos remediation had been "completed," little did i suspect that "completed" meant "we've done what we can do and we're COMPLETELY done with this building." Shoulda written a novella. Maybe when I finally find my neomonastic space. hope you're well, dan

1:29 PM  

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