August 13, 2013

Interview with the Atlantic Monthly

Dear Wafers/Waferettes:

This was for the online edition of The Atlantic, on the occasion of the publication of Spinning Straw Into Gold. Hope you enjoy it.


Anonymous Capo Regime said...


Wonderful. Great interview and distillation of central ideas--not just for Wafers but for anyone interested in regaining humanity.

Regaining of humanity and being truly human is not an easy business. "Smith" accused me of "sour grapes" but alas that is not the case. When you are not steeped in the political dogma and civic religion of the U.S.A you accept life for what it is, the beautiful, the painful, the fun and the boredom, goodness and evil. Once you are free of the American dream and its several components such as belief in equality, justice, fairness, democracy and most destructively human progress and perfectibility you will find you gain a lot and lose nothing. Some seem to think that there was some golden age in America--anyone who can provide the coordinates or time of said age gets a cookie (high school civics books, norman Rockwell stills, sentiments and speeches of policians and Andy Griffith show don't count).

Bravo Maestro.

10:25 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

Lucid, straightforward interview that lays it all out beautifully.

I noticed the first two comments, both going directly to nitpicking in order to avoid dealing with the issues you raise. That's a common response, isn't it? Find some pragmatic, niggling little detail, the sort of thing that each individual must work out for him/herself anyway, and use to to dismiss everything you're saying. "You can't deliver a solution that addresses every 100,000 details I've mentioned immediately & thoroughly? Then you have nothing useful to say!"

I just remembered a scene from The Razor's Edge, when someone objects to Larry's desire to go forth & find meaning. "What if everyone did that? What would happen to the world?!?" Well, the world might be a better place, for one thing. But as Larry notes, not everyone is going to do that; in fact, very few would even dream of it, much less do it. But the mere fact that he's going to try is seen as a threat, something to be mocked & dismissed as quickly as possible.

The assumoption behind this, it seems to me, is that everyone raising such objections is still assuming that life will go on as before, with the same hustling mentality in place, as if it's some natural law of the universe. They simply cannot see beyond it!

10:56 AM  
Anonymous JWO said...

Good interview, though it is hard to explain some of the concepts like "hustling" and "enchantment" in such a short space. The comments so far show that they don't quite get it, but we shall see if people who actually read the whole thing show up later.

11:07 AM  
Anonymous derek said...

already one negative comment on the article. keep up the good work, morris.

11:07 AM  
Anonymous sanctuary! said...

Meaningful and wonderful interview. Btw, much Existential Strain appears to be showing up in the comments up to now. Some of these folks are really hurting.

11:47 AM  
Anonymous LW said...

Good interview. And if you ever want to reinforce your opinion that America is beyond help feel free to read the comments sometime:

"America is not in decline whatsoever. Consumerism is what keeps the economy going when other countries are still stuck in borderline recession."

"Interesting perspective for the single mother to mull while in line at Walmart. Maybe once she ontologically knows herself she can quit at least one of her part time jobs to find something which enchants her."

They don't get it. They will never get it. It's over. I want out!!!!!!!

1:13 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Dr. Berman,

I read the transcript of your interview with The Atlantic magazine.I liked your take on the importance of sadness in our lives. It reminded me of a quote by Aurobindo: "The psychic sadness is of a purifying and not a depressing kind."

Have you read the poem "The Hound from Heaven" by Francis Thompson? The poet speaks of many of his emotions including sadness in understanding truth:
"With them joyed and was bereaven.
I was heavy with the even,
When she lit her glimmering tapers
Round the day's dead sanctities.
I laughed in the morning's eyes.
I triumphed and I saddened with all weather,
Heaven and I wept together,
And its sweet tears were salt with mortal mine:"

Here is the link:

Thank You,

2:02 PM  
Anonymous St. Benedict said...

New to the blog -- I've been a lurker for far too long.

I enjoyed reading the interview -- and then I read the comments. Most of the commenters are perfect specimens of the problem you discuss in the interview and in your books, Morris. Defensive, dismissive, proud of their workaholism, celebratory of what William Morris once dubbed "useless toil." The drugs have clearly taken effect.

4:07 PM  
Anonymous Rossana said...

Good words, well put, Dr. Berman. I look forward to reading the book and reflecting some more on why America is such a dismal place. But what do you say to those Americans who by necessity must remain "stuck" in the system--who have no choice, due to their lack of awareness or to real and practical limitations, but to remain as they are? I know it's not your "thing" to offer popular solutions, but it's hard not to feel regret that "escape" is something only a few can achieve.

4:59 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Thank you all for yr feedback. I haven't read the comments to the interview, but from what u guys tell me, they cheer me immensely, because they confirm my take on America and Americans: stupid and self-destructive. Can u imagine if readers weren't threatened, suffered no existential strain, and wrote tons of positive shit? Jesus, it wd blow my cultural analysis rt out the window. This is why I love buffoons, and hopefully they'll become more voluble and hysterical as time goes on. I look forward to a tizzy of self-righteous rage. When I say we're thru, I mean we're thru. What cd I or anyone say that cd penetrate these wooden heads? CRE rules!


Check out my Twilight bk, section on the New Monastic Option, if you can't leave the country (physically).


5:36 PM  
Anonymous Mike Daniel said...

Morris, Wafers and Waferettes,
A great interview and to the point. I read through most of the reactions. Two main themes, what you said is elitist and the second is more emotional in nature and can go in a variety of directions mostly showing what you are saying is not practical. In most cases the fundamental points of attempting some personal introspection and examining the culture one lives in goes nowhere at least for now.
It must be terrifying to have a personal and national mythology shown to be empty. Edging into Illich territory.

6:12 PM  
Anonymous shep said...


Nature Spinning SIG.

“Quartet” - Best flick I have ever seen. Must be my age? See, you have to walk in the shoes to really know.

@ Capo
“citing the uniqueness of the race issue in the U.S.” I never ever said this. I am talking as a Southerner. Again, if you aren’t black OR raised in the South you cannot understand the level and viviousness of race in the Southern United States of America. That is all I have ever tried to get across.

“americans of all colors and orientations have had a heck of a great ride.”
Not true. Where I live and all over Alabama, the poverty of blacks is indescribable. The shacks are a disgrace, but then, as the talking points go: “They are lazy because they get food stamps.” Nobody lives this way on purpose.

“...absolutes which are incorrect and outright silly.” Your opinion only.

“to behave badly and treat others poorly” Being black makes Ms. Tail Fluffed that much worse because she KNOWS better.

“...somewhat prosperous: to behave badly and treat others poorly.” Exactly - skin color does not matter. They all do it when they get the entitled feeling. Me thinks driving Porsches will do the ttrick.

to be cont on 8-14 because of length:

6:30 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and Wafers,

Dr. Berman-

Ausgezeichnet! Straight to the essentials and straight to the soul. It's wonderful that the "Atlantic Monthly" interviewed you and provided links to your past and present work. This is a very big deal!

By turns informative, provocative, and challenging, this interview and your candid responses will raise the terrible specter of CRE everywhere. I predict that the blog will be hit with a tsunami of rage and nonsense. Man the barricades MB, the birth of a new world is at hand...


6:38 PM  
Anonymous Dr. Hackenbush said...

mb- Or we could agree to agree on that awards biz; I take your point re using a scalpel vs. a shovel.

ellen- Wow, incredible article you linked. I had not looked into the Barrett Brown story, that was a good overview. These hacker email dumps from giant secretive entities are extraordinary to contemplate. Think of all that somebody could learn about the nature of the way our great nation operates (although evidently if you try to do that, you risk some sort of trumped up charges on anything they can find - doesn't help if you unfortunately lose your cool as Brown did under the pressure.)

Film-maker Adam Curtis has a new blog post up about the history of British intelligence where he creates an image of the intelligence world as mostly filled with mediocrities and incompetent boobs. Maybe so, but from reading that Nation article, I think there must be a lot of very clever and malicious people too, scheming to maintain their death-grip on power (e.g. leaking fake documents to activist groups, then exposing the documents as fakes, discrediting the group. Sneaky!)

8:00 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


A tsunami of stupidity is called a buffoonami, and it may be abt to land on this poor blog. But it's OK: I've missed the trolls and the morons, and the existential strain evoked by the Atlantic interview shd bring them out in droves. I really love them; they make my case for me, over and over again. It's sometimes hard to hear them, tho, because their heads are embedded so far into their rumps. So I say to all u trolls and buffoons out there: SPEAK UP! Defend the very way of life that's killing you! Wafers enjoy watching lemmings run to the sea. You'll show *us*!!! (I seem to be getting pretty gd at troll-baiting.)

Mike D-

Americans will start introspecting when pigs fly.


10:01 PM  
Anonymous Vince said...


I finished reading SSIG the other day. It deserves another read this weekend. It made me think even harder about why I should have to work hard for 5 days so that I can "have" 2 off?

I read the interview and most of the comments. Most of them are pretty predictable. I really like the people who believe that were are a consumer culture for good reason and the people who believe that we have a "free market system".

If our culture is what happens when at least three generations are raised on television, then imagine what it will be like when three generations are raised on the internet and smart phones. I can only think that we will witness exponential stupidity.

At least one movie saw it coming over 30 years ago: Network.

Here is a clip that I am sure that you are familiar with.

I continue my quest to find a part of Michigan to move to where I can experience some peace and quiet. I have some straw of my own to spin, but the current area where I live in is just surrounded by too many fools.


10:55 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Gd to hear from u. I loved 'Network'. The film most appropriate for our times and where we are headed is called 'Idiocracy'. The time frame is 500 yrs into the future, but I suspect it's actually abt 20 yrs away. Americans don't have too many brains left, but the fones and screens are polishing off what little remains.

The thing abt work...5 days on, 2 off, is of course the legacy of the Protestant ethic: fun has to be 'earned'. One possible way out is to disconnect from the consumer culture to the extent that you might be able to do 2 on, 5 off. Another is to abs. love what yr doing. This is often hard to arrange, and I know I'm one of the lucky ones: I work 7 days a wk, and sometimes 8 hrs a day, and have no complaints. Margaret Mead was once asked what her hobbies were. "Hobbies?", she replied; "Why would I need hobbies? I'm doing exactly what I want to be doing."

Anyway, I wish u much luck in separating from the fools, and spinning yr straw. Let Ruskin be yr guide.


11:11 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Dr. B,

Nice interview and you're right that the comments are evidence of American decline. I weighed in on your favor in the comments page. So many of your American critics were too stupid to realize that your comments are paraphrases of conclusions you reach in your books, after extensive argument and annotation.

The very fact that supposedly "educated" Americans - the readers of the Atlantic - can't pick up and read your works, and give an informed opinion. If even the supposedly "intelligent" sector of American society formed by Atlantic readers are this uneducated and uninformed, can't pick up a single one of your works, and many of them engage in ad hominem arguments against you, how well does that bode for the rest of society? Not very well, one must admit.

11:40 PM  
Anonymous Jesse said...

Dr B, the article contains a lot of gems. You are a sage and philosopher.

ontological knowing vs intellectual knowing

Knowing who you are is difficult for most people in America because who they are is defined by material possessions. Today, knowledge and skills that lead to high salary are what matters to Americans. Reasoning and analytical skills are derided as useless and academic. Hence a person who makes it to NFL or NBA is more valued and respected than a professor or a teacher. But sports star will never help in solving any scientific or social problem for the society. Americans know about what brings big houses, big cars, and big ego, but soon they may not know how to make the cars or the houses because foreigners will overtake them in the skills required to produce these things.

12:13 AM  
Anonymous Captain Spaulding said...

As we continue to collect data on the Downward Slide, here's an interesting blog piece by Charles Simic on the decline of used book stores and how it is contributing to the exponential rise of our great national buffoonami:

I certainly see this in my area where almost all the new and used bookstores in my college town have closed down - there used to be at least a dozen in walking distance of downtown - to be replaced by burger joints and 7-11s. Even more galling, when one of our most beloved bookstores closed a few years ago to be replaced by Five Guys burger joint, the online comments practically celebrated this triumph of "market forces" over "outmoded" business models. Maybe if they'd renamed the bookstore "Kim's Rump," they'd still be in business.

12:22 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I agree with u that we live amidst a Confederacy of Dunces, but I'm not exactly a household word, so we can probably forgive these poor commentators their ignorance of my work. What is more problematic is their existential strain: faced with the possibility that their lives may be misguided, and captive to an empty commercial narrative, they lash out. Which, as I said, is personally reassuring: the CRE, and accompanying collapse of the nation, is proceeding apace. Hence, I'm suggesting a new post-it for all Wafers:



2:58 AM  
Anonymous Jerome Langguth said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

Thanks for posting the interview. I do think that the smug and hostile tone of many of the responses makes the connection between existential strain and American CRE clearer. I have been reading Jacques Ellul’s book on propaganda and he points out that, contrary to the received view, propaganda does not characteristically work by manipulating people against their will. Rather, “the propagandee is a close accomplice of the propagandist” and is “unconsciously complicit” with propaganda precisely because it soothes the “strangling anxiety” characteristic of life in a technological society. The current buffoonami, then, is just more evidence that your thought disturbs the smooth functioning of the propaganda of hustling, and that you and not Chomsky are right about the “consent” of the American people.


6:58 AM  
Blogger jml said...

Wonderful interview.

The reference to the importance of sadness reminds me of this quote from the film "Old Joy":

"Sorrow is just worn out joy."

If allowed, sadness can cause deep reflection about the past. Many artists claim that this is the state in which they create their best work. This is something most Americans will never understand.

7:32 AM  
Anonymous ellen said...

Nice interview, Dr B, and hilarious string of comments. Do you think that if we deliberately stirred the controversy a little, a la Oprah's handbag, we could boost your profile and thus encourage sales a bit?

Thanks for the tip to Adam Curtis's new blog post, Dr Hack. Its all quite true and documented, in all its bat-shit crazy 'bureaucracy gone mad' glory. It would be hilarious too if it didn't have such tragic consequences. I got interested in this double-dealing stuff during the Irish 'troubles' when it became known that the most vicious butchers of the IRA were in the pay of British military intelligence(oxymoron alert)and various security forces.

All of Curtis's docs, most of which are free on the net and cover a similar Waferesque beat, are well worth a watch.
'The Power of Nightmares' is probably most relevant here, though 'Century of the Self' and 'All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace' continue the theme.

Finally, something idealistic and sane from David Graeber. We can still dream, can't we?

7:51 AM  
Anonymous Edward said...


I suggest that everyone read the article many times. Then everyone should also read the comments carefully. We will then examine each negative comment for validity. Instead of making general statements about some of the negative comments, we need to actually reproduce the negative comments here with the name of the writers and then respond to them. That way everyone can learn something from the mistakes of the fools. This should be an interesting exercise. Don't you think so??

8:09 AM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...


Really? Poverty in Alabama? Poverty in the most of the world is far, far, far worse than than of Alalbama--surely you are being "ironic". Its hard for me to believe anyone with a working neuron and an internet connection would think poverty in Alabama worse than Burkina Faso, El Salvador, Haiti. How to be polite to a wafer uttering such bald face nonsense.

It is not opinion but its verifiable by facts that Americans of all colors have had it better in the last decades than the rest of the world. Far better. Food stamps you say? How about watching children die of hunger today to to the tune of 2 million per month in South Asia alone?

My 'opinion only" is based on being a development and humanitarain aid worker in 35 nations for 20 years though I moved to being a rgular economist I am fairly engaged in hunger issues.

"My opinion" is based on facts which are readily accessible through the internet thingy. World is much bigger than your experience in Alabama and the south. Fully 3 billion or so people today living on less than $1.00 a day can dream of living in a shack in Alabama. You are entitled to your own opinions but not your own facts.

Have you ever left the U.S. Have you seen poverty in other nations? If you had you would consider the poor in Alabama as fairly damn lucky compared to most of the world.

9:17 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

Captain Spaulding,

Thank you for the Charles Simic article. I've also noticed that used book stores are disappearing, and never more noticeably so than around colleges, of all places.

In nearby Red Bank (hometown to Count Basie), there used to be at least 3 small bookstores & 4 or 5 used book stores. I not only bought my first copy of The Lord of the Rings in one, but my first book on Jung, June Singer's Boundaries of the Soul, as well as Theodore Roszak's Where the Wasteland Ends. Jesus, I bought David Meltzer's collection of interviews The San Francisco Poets off a drugstore spinner rack, along with Nabakov's Ada, Mailer's Miami and the Siege of Chicago, and Doris Lessing's Briefing For a Descent Into Hell -- a drugstore spinner rack!

Red Bank got upscaled & yuppified; the last remaining used book store, the wondrous Book Pit, was choked to death by petty restrictions so the block could be turned into cramped, overpriced luxury condos with no parking. To paraphrase the poet, "All charms fly / At the touch of cold industry."

The Book Pit had an entire wall of turn of the century books, fiction & non-fiction, providing an incredible window into daily life & the worldview of 1900. Even the totally disposable romances & melodramas were beautifully written, with gorgeous illustrations. My wife & I bought as many as we could & love them dearly.

Where do you go to find such things today? The only way to find them online is if you already know they exist. But what about all those fascinating books you didn't know you wanted & needed until you stumbled across them in person?

9:31 AM  
Anonymous shep said...


Hope you got settled in your home country!

Please e-mail me at


9:54 AM  
Anonymous James Newlin said...

I said to a co-worker I enjoy reading books and that we should spend less time at a wage job. He responded by saying he hasn't read a book since he was forced to in school, and that I was lazy for saying we should work less. I work in a factory and we regularly have 60 hour weeks, and most if not all of us aren't paid a living wage and we have no pension, so not the best deal for us. There is no anger at our situation, instead co-workers fight each other.

Even people who are in a crap situation will defend it proudly, the most prominent displays in the shop are our American flag and our statement about our sustainable business practices and excellent treatment of employees. These guys know something is wrong, but they're not sure what, so in the meantime they're stockpiling firearms and ammo. The lunch conversation is always about firearms, where to buy the most ammo, and guns that will best kill a person. I'm more scared than anything, if it were just idiots with cell phones and mountain dew that's one thing, but they're heavily armed idiots planning for some coming unknown event.

It doesn't take much time reading through conservative websites to see what actually drives the desperate need to own high-priced killing machines. There is a vast, festering paranoia in conservative circles about the "looters" and "parasites" coming to take their hard-earned material possessions in the supposed coming debt-fueled collapse of society. It's painfully obvious what motivates the rabidly pro-gun base: a deep-seated desire to unwind the social contract and cleanse undesirables who are allegedly stealing their tax dollars. These murderous fear-fueled fantasies have no bearing on any events that will actually take place in the real world (except possibly some decades on by climate change induced migrations), but they are strong motivators nonetheless.

9:58 AM  
Anonymous Josie Green said...

A terrific article Professor Berman. My Husband and I enjoyed it very much. Your blog is one of three I follow. We live in Silver Spring and we have seen things go downhill even in this area which is supposedly the most educated and affluent in America. I love the posters here. I look forward to Hakenbush, Dovidel, Capo, Zosima, Mike and Jeff. My husband thinks they don't exist and its just professor Berman doing different voices! Even so its funny to imagine you doing funny voices! This is my first time commenting here.

Mr. Shep I am a 5th grade teacher in silver spring Maryland and my students all know that in relationship to the majority of the world even the poorest americans have been much more fortunate. It cannot even be compared. They also know when you say something like "If you are not black, you do not know what racism really is" that it is as Mr. Capo said an absolute.

Mr Mike. I think you have a good idea. the Atlantic was the magazine for super smart people when I was a student at Towson University. I tried reading it and did not understand it. Now the people who make comments seem very mean and ignorant.

10:09 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


It's true; I am all those people! Pretty clever, eh?


Actually, the Mtn Dew is pretty scary all by itself. But what u describe is still small potatoes, sad to say. These guys need drones. In fact, each and every one of us needs a drone, to be deployed at any moment.


I love the fools; I tell u honestly, I abs. adore them. Without the fools, where wd I be able to point, and say, "See?"


I had this idea of flying to Zurich, buying Oprah's handbag, and wearing it on my head. This shd get some play in the press. However, I don't have 32K.


At this pt, I'm wondering what Americans *do* understand--abt anything!

O&D, amigos-


10:50 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Dr. B,

Fair enough. Though I would point out, it says in the second paragraph that you're the author of numerous books, so even if you're an unknown quantity among most, they should still be aware that you support all your arguments in your books. It is not difficult for them to access your books online for free (on Google Books), but instead they are intellectually lazy and uninformed (like 99% of Americans).

As for The Atlantic, it's quite sad to see that they deleted all my comments. In one of the comments they deleted, I replied to someone who said that most Americans are thoughtful and well-developed, noting that Americans aren't thoughtful and well-developed because they keep electing war criminals and most do not care about or discuss the fact that their country is in a state of endless war. Apparently that's not polite enough for The Atlantic- too much reality for their editors to handle.

11:11 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Apparently the editors are as much in denial as the commentators. But this is good: denial hastens the decline. Only reality can slow the process at this pt, and that is abs. the one thing Americans are not interested in.


11:33 AM  
Blogger Boris the Spider said...

Great article, Mr. Berman. I was really taken by your comments on the somatic signals that tell us when we're on the right track. I have a tendency to live entirely in my head, and it's all too easy in this American culture to ignore bodily sensations and dismiss them as having any content or message.

You mentioned the Rudolph Steiner exercise with the coin. Are there any other methods you could point us to that might help people like me get out of our damn heads and back into my bodies? I realize your book Coming to Our Senses probably addresses some of this, but I read it in the '90s and I've forgotten if you covered this ground there.

1:02 PM  
Blogger NearFar said...

Hi Wafers,

Yeah alot of those comments over on the Atlantic website are desperately inane. Viciously incoherent. Hell, just push the envelope a little further and these folks wiIl go ape-shit beserk.

Anyhow, to find my own footing again (that's the problem w/ CRE: it does rub off on you, whatever type of armor you carry or "protection" you wear) I am reminded of something MB said abt Paul Auster's work during his talk at Elliot Bay Books in Nov. 2011. Here's my transcription:

"It’s interesting that the theme of Paul Auster’s novels is that American society is incoherent, that it lacks a true identity, and that it’s nothing more than a hall of mirrors. He’s been saying that for decades and by and large Americans don’t know who Paul Auster is and they don’t read him. Auster is tremendously popular in Europe, he’s been translated into more than twenty languages: those are the bulk of his sales. Americans are not interested in this kind of perception." [1]

Btw: I lived in Germany for 3 years (2007-2010) when I was in the Army & can vouch for Auster's popularity in that country. I traveled extensively by train and (no exaggeration) *every* (no kidding) large Bahnhof that I was in had German editions of at least 1or 2 Auster novels in stock in their bookstores. Many of the smaller train stations did too. Some even stocked the original English titles too. I recall seeing his books in France too. And CH says that his latest book (with Joe Sacco - Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt) had fantastic sales in France.

[1] Pirate Television: Morris Berman - Why America Failed - YouTube 2012-02-16. MB discusses Auster beginning at 24:40 & finishes at 25:08

1:08 PM  
Anonymous Savantesimal said...

Well, we've talked quite a bit here about the cadre of historians and other commentators around the fringes who have been noticing the hollowness of the so-called American dream. But it looks like enough has seeped into the mainstream to attract some notice in the corridors of power. Some counter-arguments are appearing in the media. On the NPR show Marketplace for Aug 13th there was a segment about a new book from one of the "sages" of the American Enterprise Institute. The segment is very short, so I'd have to wait for more extensive reviews before coming to a conclusion, but it looks like he is claiming that American decline is all the fault of people getting lazy and not hustling hard enough.

Marketplace: On the waning of American exceptionalism

Say what you want about Congress today, or how lazy the younger generations are, or even how we don't really make anything in this country anymore. But the fact is that for centuries, America has thought of itself as exceptional.

'American exceptionalism' is the phrase you always hear. In his new book, "American Exceptionalism: An Experiment in History," Charles Murray of the American Enterprise Institute puts that characteristic into historical context. The idea took hold in part, he says, because of how hard Americans work.

While Americans might moan and groan about their work schedules compared to other nations, "we're a shadow of our former selves," says Murray.


1:46 PM  
Blogger bowtiejack said...

Ian Walsh nails it:

"As you’ve probably heard, Obama has appointed James Clapper (the man who lied under oath to Congress about NSA spying) to review NSA spying.

I am in awe, few things have impressed me this deeply.

This isn’t just a middle finger to everyone to everyone who is against blanket surveillance (aka. the majority of Americans), it is Obama saying “Kiss My Ass.”

It’s really hard for most people to understand just how much contempt our lords and masters have for us. They really don’t give a fuck what’s good for us, what we like, or what we think. They are rich, or powerful, or famous because they deserve it, and if we aren’t any of those things then they don’t give two fucks what we think. By not being rich, powerful or famous we have proven we don’t deserve any say. After all, if we had any qualities that were worthwhile beyond the sort of qualities you praise in a dog, we wouldn’t be peons, would we.

In this, Obama is very similar to Bush, actually, but in general it’s a characteristic of everyone near the top of our current society. Starting at about the Senior VP level, people decide that they deserve everything they’ve got and everyone else doesn’t. If they did, they’d have it.

The media is full of studies showing that power decreases empathy, and I’ll bet that’s true throughout history. But I’ll also bet this, the degree to which it is true is social, and in many times and places it has been less true. Over the last couple generations we’ve seen a significant, measurable fall in the general level of empathy in the population as a whole. If you have an ideology which glorifies greed and which claims that society is a meritocracy when there is copious evidence to the contrary, those who win will believe they “deserve” what they have, and everyone else “deserves” what they have. Add to that objective circumstances which amount to dog-eat-dop (there simply are not enough good jobs to go around) and people will either band together, or turn on each other. Generally, we’ve chosen, for ideological reasons, to turn on each other.

This isn’t necessary: it isn’t what happened in the US in the Great Depression, for example. It’s a choice, and our choice is to be bastards to each other."

4:57 PM  
Anonymous Jesse said...

If Hilary Clinton becomes the next president, America will decline faster than is expected because that family is full of dishonest and self-serving thugs who have never managed a penny without a controversy. They have lived off government funds and government healthcare all their adult lives so much so that they do not understand what it means to work for a living. They spent 12 years in governor’s mansion in Arkansas; they spent 8 years in the whitehouse; she become a senator from NY immediately after leaving the whitehouse; then she became the secretary of state for Obama after that. They have never worked for a living in the private sector, and under their watch the US treasury was looted via derivatives (see this video: The Warning @ For her to return again as the president will nail the country to the final coffin.

Unease at Clinton Foundation Over Finances and Ambitions

Soon after the 10th anniversary of the foundation bearing his name, Bill Clinton met with a small group of aides and two lawyers from Simpson Thacher & Bartlett. Two weeks of interviews with Clinton Foundation executives and former employees had led the lawyers to some unsettling conclusions.

The review echoed criticism of Mr. Clinton’s early years in the White House: For all of its successes, the Clinton Foundation had become a sprawling concern, supervised by a rotating board of old Clinton hands, vulnerable to distraction and threatened by conflicts of interest. It ran multimillion-dollar deficits for several years, despite vast amounts of money flowing in.

5:52 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...


So, your husband thinks I’m one of Dr. Berman’s fictional creations! Well, just ask anyone who knows me, and they’ll tell you that an invention by such a distinguished professor would be a tremendous improvement over my sad reality. Some great composer might even set my life to music, as Prokofiev did for Lieutenant Kijé. Anyway, truth is stranger than fiction, and as far as I can tell, I post on this blog, therefore I am.

Also, check out the novel “Sophie’s World” by Jostein Gaarder.

About ‘The Atlantic’ magazine: Why should it be exempt from the general dumbing-down that has been going on for a long time throughout our blessed land?

I agree with what you say about poor Americans, of whatever color, being better off materially than probably the majority of the Earth’s population. But there’s another dimension to it. Napoleon once said, “In war the moral is to the physical as three is to one.” Although it’s not easy to measure somebody else’s misery, I think the same is true of poverty in the US.

America has a way letting the poor know loud and clear that they *are* poor. Then they are told that their poverty is their own fault. After all, Oprah and David Brooks say that people are poor because of their bad attitudes – so it must be true! Every American is asked the cruel question, “If you’re so smart, why ain’t you rich?” (Footnote: Vonnegut)

Moreover, not only do American workers direct their resentment against each other as James Newlin describes, but they hate and fear those below them on the social ladder – and the poor often further internalize their contempt.

Sometimes I think of the US as a large self-organizing ‘Rube Goldberg’ contraption of dysfunction.

David Rosen

6:19 PM  
Anonymous The Dude said...

@St. Benedict -Defensive, dismissive, proud of their workaholism, celebratory of what William Morris once dubbed "useless toil."

My wife and I recently had a night out with a terminally ill cancer patient and his wife whom we met during my chemotherapy treatments (he's a huge baseball fan and we treated them to a game). From talking to him at the chemo clinic, he seemed like a really nice guy who was dealt a very bad hand at age 58. He was initially told he had three months to live, but so far has survived 18--though he is really broken down now and the end is clearly not far off.

At one point the women excused themselves, and as my wife and I were driving home she told me a little more about his story as relayed by his wife. He was workaholic who routinely stayed in the office until 9:00 every night and was often an absentee father. Worse yet, he smoked for 40 years until the cancer came on. Now, despite his outwardly positive demeanor he is very angry and resentful of his situation, which has been very hard on his wife.

Listening to all of that, I couldn't help but think of the old adage, "Nobody on their death bed ever dies wishing they had spent more time at the office." So many Americans would be so much better off if they took that saying to heart. My friend in misery acquired all of the trappings of a middle class life, suburban house, three kids sent to college, etc. But to what end?

7:45 PM  
Anonymous Mikbeth said...


I was having a very difficult day before I read the article. Afterwards my spirit lifted. I can't explain it, but reading an article that reflects a sane view of the world is comforting.

I read the comments section and could not understand what these people were talking about. They must have super powers of denial to repel the truth.

I ran across the following quote in my research of French Canada from Peter Moogk's La Nouvelle France which suggests the problems of subordinating humanity to technology are not new -- "In one instance, Hurons perceived that the French could be slaves to their own technical marvels. The natives observed how the Jesuit missionaries regulated their prayers, meals , and actions by the chiming of a clock and correctly deduced that the ticking 'Captain of the Day' ruled these Europeans lives."

7:52 PM  
Anonymous Dr. Hackenbush said...

ellen- I've never made time to watch Adam Curtis's documentaries, though they do sound intriguing. You might be interested in a sort of cautionary take on them from James Corbett though. He talks about them, with clips, in this video:

As he describes it: "The Power of Nightmares. The Century of the Self. Pandora’s Box. All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace. If you’re familiar with the alternative media, you’ve doubtless come across references to the documentary work of Adam Curtis. But besides the well-known examples of brilliance within Curtis’ work is a deeply doctrinaire strain that seeks to normalize mainstream history and convince us that the driving ideologies of the political elite are exactly what they say they are. Join us today on The Corbett Report as we deconstruct Curtis’ documentaries and look for the deeper meaning behind the globalist ideology."

Not that Corbett is immune to criticism himself. I'm sure many would write him off as one of the unfortunate "paranoid" among us.

Re Bookstores- Here in Birmingham we are lucky to have Jim Reed's "Museum of Fond Memories" as he calls it, which is a used book store like the Watts Towers are some old junk lying around. I don't think it would be over-statement to call it an unsung national treasure, at least where bookstore lovers are concerned. Look up his blog online, you can probably find pictures. It's a sort of continuing evolving installation of all sorts of miscellanea, not to be missed if you're ever passing through the SouthEast.

Josie- Sigh, I *wish* I was MB. Then I would at least know something about the finer points of the pastrami sandwich.

8:03 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Wafers: We seem to have an embarrassment of riches these days. I'm esp. inspired by the meatheads at the Atlantic, the commentators, that is. The more douche bags, the better; and whether at the Atlantic or elsewhere, we certainly don't lack for douche bags. Even as we speak, OB-GYN wards across the land are cranking out future morons by the ton. It's the greatest show on earth.


Just sit and watch yr breathing for 15 mins. every morning. As for Steiner, he's only one guide among many, but he has a # of interesting exercises in a little bk called: "Knowledge of the Higher Worlds: How Is It Attained?"


I'm pulling for Herman Cain, myself, tho I wdn't object to Lorenzo Riggins.


I hadn't thought of it b4, but it's possible that people that don't post on this blog don't exist. "I Wafe, Therefore I Am."


Check out the Lilliput section of Gulliver's Travels, where he keeps consulting his pocket watch. As for Atlantic commentators, if u just keep in mind that 99.9% of Americans have dog turds inside their heads, a lot that is puzzling is miraculously explained.


9:42 PM  
Anonymous Joe doesn't know said...

I know it's been stated on this post several times by my fellow Wafers, but I had to add my two cents...the comments after your interview, Dr. B., are mind-blowing. They shouldn't be, I should know what to expect, and once again it confirms the reason your theories are sound. I can't help but think to myself, however, after reading five or six comments "fuck me, we're doomed". The blockheads have obviously not read your work, and if they had, they'd have no hope of making sense of any of it. The existential strain was pouring out of my computer as I read. Uggg. I have a headache now.

Great interview though, Maestro. Very clear and succinct and true.

12:53 AM  
Anonymous J S RANK said...

@ MB ..."if u just keep in mind that 99.9% of Americans have dog turds inside their heads". Many laughs ! I found that in commenting other places cyberly, that I had to phrase things to pass the censors. The most ridiculous, antiseptic expressions would be banned. ( An excuse, it was my truth-telling they really abhorred ). So, I had to become a wordsmith of sorts to get past the pecksniffian marms.

I'm afraid 'turd' does not pass muster....but this does: "Dumber than a dog dropping".

@ Dovidel : This is a nation of haters, because they can't stand themselves; yet, they are fearful cowards that can't commit sepuku quickly.

Interesting day for me. I had some idle time waiting for a friend, and eventually went for coffee at a nearby McD's.
I noticed one man in the rather full room actually reading a book.
I complineted him on his practicing a 'lost art'. What is that? he asked. Reading !
Turns out the book was a bio of Walter Lippman, and my new, unexpected friend was pleased that I had more than a little awareness of the man and his works.
We talked of other things, but I noticed that this elderly gent had someting that most do not: a sparkle in his eyes....and a smile.

Made my day.

12:54 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Try "warm baby diarrhea," see how that goes over. (horrible image)


I tell u, morons are my data base. Can u imagine writing my books, and then discovering a sensitive, intelligent lay public? God, how embarrassing that woulda been. Guess I don' hafta worry too much about that...

O&D, muchachos...


2:31 AM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

Just read through SSIG. I enjoyed it, have taken more than a few quotations down, and will definitely have to reread regularly. "Suspicion of narrative" is how I tend to phrase the notion in my mind. I first came across it from Nassim N Taleb; the more descrpitions, experiences, formulations of it, the better. She's a seductive bitch, and "willful deceit is the sexiest is sirens"(jcapan, Ian Welsh's site). I also really like the connection you point out between Chance and Fate. I struggle with hesitation as a habit, and have been making a concerted effort to identify the habit as it appears in my thinking. Your framing of the leaps we continually encounter seems dead on to me, and I am going adopt it to hopefully take some chances of my own. 

3:17 AM  
Blogger Zosima said...

I like this idea that we’re all just different aspects of Dr Berman’s brain. If true, then I would say that Zosima’s rants are what results when he eats some pastrami that is a bit off. I immediately thought about the control room scene with Tony Randall and Burt Reynolds in Woody Allen’s, Everything You Wanted To Know About Sex. Btw, I discovered Prokofiev thanks to WA’s film Love and Death. MASH did a Lieutenant Kijé parody with a fake Captain Tuttle, very funny.

It’s fun to see The Atlantic buffoonami in the comments section. Did you know tsunamis are also possible in the Atlantic?

I have a feeling Clinton won’t run and that both parties will reload with fresher kleptocrats, in an attempt to stave off boredom and keep the farce of public participation going for true believers like those Atlantic commentators. I hope we get a super-crazy Republican again, but I think our plutocracy may still be a little gun shy after G W Bush and won’t allow it. One thing to look forward to is after the Reps. win the Senate in 2014, there will be another impeachment spectacle. Until then though, we have only the Oprah $40k purse crisis. Let’s hope it leads to full scale war with Switzerland. Did anyone notice that the infamous purse resembles Oprah; big, empty, with no distinguishing quality other that being worth too much money?

3:20 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


It's true, u guys don' exist; yr just various parts of a solipsistic dialogue I've been having within my brain for the past few years. However, given the sheer volume of morons, dolts, buffoons, trolls, and just plain assholes that have shown up here, I think I might be a candidate for permanent (Gestalt) therapy. Whew! What if my therapist encourages me to "embrace your inner buffoon"? Ouch! Anyway, no my dear, yr not rancid pastrami; more like one of those delicious half-dill pickles that the Stage Deli (7th Ave between 52nd and 53rd Sts.) usta serve b4 its untimely death last Nov.

In the meantime, on the off-chance that u all r real, and not just part of a psychotic Bermanic interior dialogue, here's a new post-it for yr mirrors:


Neat, eh?

As for Oprah and her big, empty handbag, it seems that she and it are a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, and signifying nothing.

And speaking of SIG: I discovered a passage in Maimonides' "Guide of the Perplexed" in which he is referring to SIG moments, without realizing it:

"We are like someone in a very dark night over whom lightning flashes time and time again." His biographer, Joel Kraemer, comments: "The horizon of the ordinary human world is transformed by revelatory moments."

This can probably include both the sublime and the ridiculous. You guys can decide into which category the following revelations fall:

1. Yr going along, rdg this blog, maybe contributing to it, and suddenly it comes 2u: Yr a Wafer!

2. Someone is a devotee of Oprah, hangs on her every word, then reads Janice Peck's bk, and it becomes clear: the woman is a douche bag with a handbag, nothing more.

3. Yr sitting on yr couch, drinking yr tea with milk and sugar, and the following thought enters yr brain: My God, the United States consists of morons! There is no positive social change ahead; WE'RE FUCKED!

Wafers are invited to add to the list of Maimonidean-SIG revelations.


Throw caution to the winds! This life is not a dress rehearsal! "Half the house will have to come down" (Cavafy). Go for the gold, chico!


4:08 AM  
Anonymous Michael in Oceania said...

Rod Dreher has just discovered MB:

I have followed Dreher's blog for several years, and I figured it was only a matter of time before he discovered you.

Dreher is trying to work out an NMI option (what he calls the "Benedict Option") in his hometown in Louisiana.

His mind is still caught in the "Culture Wars" mindset and the "left/right" false dichotomy (scroll down the comments and you will see that I "tweaked" him about that). However, I think he is starting, slowly, little by little, to grow out of that.

I hope he drops by your blog someday. I suspect you and he might have some interesting things to discuss, and notes to compare.

7:16 AM  
Anonymous ellen said...

Hi Dr Hack,

I am not suggesting that Adam Curtis has the 'bedrock truth' as Corbett puts it. I gave up on bedrock truth about the same time I gave up on definitive conclusions, some 20 odd years ago.

Corbett is right though that the BBC is an arm of the British establishment (even more so in the last 5 years after a government crackdown) but it still has put out some good subversive programming in its time--I take the propaganda element as a given but have a well-honed ability to discriminate and know where the off switch is.

Every person on the planet has an agenda (including Corbett) either knowingly or unknowingly and every piece of information comes with bias.

This thinking business is a double edged sword or 'Razor's Edge', to use an old metaphor. Some 20 odd years ago I thought myself into a brick wall (something Corbett will face if he pursues 'bedrock truth')and then spent 3 years with a very unorthodox zen teacher (Korean, ex-military, who could well have been a fascist monster had I enquired too deeply into his ideology, I was past caring) who taught me to not get caught in my own thinking too much, something I couldn't learn on my own.
I don't get too picky about ideology when someone saves my life.

I can recommend a good book for anyone similarly afflicted (written by a German aristocrat but no less worthwhile, whatever his ideology):

Or you might like to look into Korzybsky, (ideology unknown) who takes a western tack to much the same place:

Remember Freud, who started all this unconscious nonsense, himself said: "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar"

Someone should tell Corbett that what motivates the characters and movements that he studies is really power, not money. Surrender the drive to power and man is free, but that only really works if he very painfully figures it out for himself and then actually does it.

8:05 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Karlfried von Duerckheim (Hara) also flirted with Nazism, but it's a great book. (Same applies to Eugen Herrigel.) Sounds like yr karma ran over yr dogma.


Pass this on to Rod, it might help him clarify a few things:



8:18 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

What struck me about so many of those comments to the Atlantic interview was the intense anger & resentment. It's almost tangible, oozing from the screen. And again, it quite deliberately short circuits any thought, any consideration of the ideas MB is proposing, any reflection on the current state of things - THAT is never to be questioned, because it's always been that way, always will be that way, and how else can people live anyway?


Dreher is interesting; I've read him over the years. At times he's practically a hippie, despite his visceral loathing of the 1960s, shown by his inability to get out of the culture wars, as you say. He might benefit from CTOS, because his weak point is clearly his unease about the human body & sexuality in particular. Add to that his need for a hierarchical order to the universe, and his own desperate desire to be accepted by the family that essentially rejected him for thinking outside his box as a child.

But aren't we all wounded in some way?

Dr. Hack,

I don't necessarily believe every single word of Curtis' documentaries myself. But he does provide a lot of fascinating information & unexpected links; at the very least, he'll make you look at what you already know in a new light.

In the end, we have to follow Buddha's advice to be our lamps & seek our own salvation, however we do so.

9:14 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

@ Capo Regime

I’m terribly sorry that I have apparently crushed ur sensibilities with a comment or two about Race in AMERICA. Frankly, you remind me of the Evangelical Prosperity Christians, here in the South, that are always putting together “Mission” trips to Africa. Why don’t they stay here and work with black people? Plenty to worry about here! But u know what, they think blacks are lazy good-for-nothings that are beyond hope.

Let me say this, quickly, one more time. I have never ever said that black Americans are worse off than other countries. You are wrong, if you , for a second, think, I believe that any American is worse off than slaughtered blacks, with flies all over their faces in Africa or anywhere else on this blue orb. Somehow, you have made this conversation up in your own mind. This is my only conclusion given the brimstones thrown at me.

There are many things that have ruined this country & I do not know if one can rank these three atrocities. 1. Capitalism, better known as Hustlin’ on this site (By the way, you ever made money on currency speculation?) 2. Calvinism and 3. RACISM. (Same as all the WHITE countries).

THIS country is the only one I am talking about! You have gotten a teacher in Maryland all worked up about something I never said. This is the second time I have pointed this out. I would rather you just ignore my posts if you are going to interpret them to suit yourself, thus confusing the other commenters.

Are you a black Southern Homo Sapien in Alabama? Have u ever heard of walking in someone else’s shoes? U shud, because this is the only way change can come about, or nothing will ever be done about, what to me, is the worst of the three problems. RACISM.

I wonder why you find discussing Race in America so indigestible? That’s all I am trying to do, after all, Dr. Berman’s book title is Why AMERICA Failed and the blog is Dark Ages AMERICA. The why is important isn’t it?

BTW, people learn good wholesome things on Andy Griffith.

I will leave this alone with words of my best friend:

"Let’s try and make the most of our existence. Let’s give it our best, appreciate its every moment, and enjoy it to the fullest. Let’s live with honesty and integrity so we won’t stagger through the twilight of our days with a heart clogged with remorse. We should live life by what is right, not by what we can keep out of sight."

9:51 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Future Trends Dept.:

11:14 AM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...


Wow. Its as if your interview was the setting of some sort of psychological experiment. State a clear eyed view of reality and see what the dolts say and do! Going back to that reviewer of your work in the NYT it is all of a kind--defensive, viceral and unthinking basically the reptile brain in full control.

The historical record shows that idiots have always been in abundance in the U.S. (mencken "on being an american" prohbition, creation of christian science) but even during my modest period of observation as an adult over the last 50 years it seems stupidity has increased but perhaps its a constant and I am more observant? Perhaps they are more visible with social media? Or if in fact (as we may suspect) the number of morons has increased what has been the tipping point or the mechanism which fomented the explosion of morons?

On an aside, your ideas from SSIG, the Steiner excercises and the insights of Maimonides all evocative of ideas of The Bal Shemtov, older I get the more I am convinced the strategy of my Hasidic relatives to withdraw and find meaning outside the hustle and brazen materialism was the way to go--o.k. maybe not be hasidic (not that there is anything wrong with that) but finding true meaning and yes the hackneyed term a community. But with that comes hate from the masses (just as you saw in comments of interview). Ortega y Gasset was right--the mass hates the original, the independent and noble.

11:23 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

I thought I'd respond to some of Obama's comments in his latest speech on Egypt. The mendacity and hypocrisy of the current American president is always a worthy targets of critique.

He said, "we did align ourselves with a set of principles: nonviolence, a respect for universal rights, and a process for political and economic reform."

This is coming from the president who continues to assassinate people throughout the world and provides billions in military aid to a government in Israel that has over 600,000 settlers living in illegally occupied territories, and another government in Egypt that has massacred more than 600 political protesters in a single day.

"While Mohammed Morsi was elected president in a democratic election, his government was not inclusive and did not respect the views of all Egyptians."

Obama's government does not respect the views of all Americans, especially the millions of Americans opposed to the mass surveillance law-abiding Americans in violation of the fourth amendment.

"We support universal rights essential to human dignity, including the right to peaceful protest."

What a crock of shit. If the US government cared about the right to peaceful protest, it would not be compiling long dossiers against political activists and vigorously prosecuting them for crimes.

"Let me make one final point. America cannot determine the future of Egypt. That’s a task for the Egyptian people. We don’t take sides with any particular party or political figure."

The US government gives over a billion dollars in military aid to the Egyptian military, and before that it supported the dictator Mubarak. In the very same speech I'm quoting from he criticized the Morsi government. And he expects us to believe that the US government doesn't "take sides"?

11:58 AM  
Anonymous Marcos said...

Michigan Doctor Accused of Stealing $35 Million in Federal Health Care Funding, Defrauding Patients to Receive 'Unnecessary" Treatments

Dr. Farid Fata, 48, of Oakland Township, Mich., allegedly gave ''unnecessary chemotherapy to patients in remission' and deliberately misdiagnosed patients in order to defraud the federally-funded health care program of approximately $35 million over a two-year period, according to the complaint."

Prosecutors wanted to keep the doctor behind bars, but a judge set Fata's bond at $170,000 on Friday. The conditions of his release on bond were he must where electronic monitoring 24 hours a day, he cannot leave his home, surrender his Lebanese and U.S. passports, and he cannot practice medicine or prescribe medication.

12:54 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


All that's true, but keep in mind that probably more than 90% of the American public can't find Egypt on a world map, and more than 99% wd not be able to tell you what the current conflict is abt. So the pendejo in the White House can say anything he wants. He cd declare an embargo on Egyptian cuisine, and Americans wdn't bat an eyelid. He cd denounce Tutankhamun and Nefertiti as Middle Eastern troublemakers, and perhaps throw in Ramses II for gd measure, and the American public wd get angry at King Tut et al. as agitators and communists.


I'm quite sure that the MPH (Morons Per Hectare) index has increased over the last century, and exponentially. By comparison, it's something like 0.6 for Denmark today, whereas the US averages out at 148.4 (certain areas, such as Berkeley, are appreciably higher).


12:57 PM  
Anonymous JWO said...

Any WAF-ers going to this?

2:12 PM  
Blogger NearFar said...

A possible reading of that "Future Trends Dept" article abt Raytheon is this: are we really surprised that a corporation in our War (oops, I mean Defense) Industry is given a Climate Leadership Award by the EPA? One serious question might be this: is this the model, or the template, for how the U.S. (and its complicitous population) is going to deal with every real social crisis from here on out? What real solutions are left now that we've marginalized most every alternative voice or dissenting opinion through-out our entire history? This is it. This is our solution. And we shall reap the whirlwind. We let our military-industrial-corporate complex decide for us both the nature of the crisis (is there really one?) and what our response(s) should be. And if it also happens to be a good business opportunity? Well, there you go. Market-based solutions. Another serious question is this: what is the consequence going to be of always putting our eggs in this one (military-industrial-congressional-corporate) basket? This sent me back to something the economist Richard Wolff (RW) mentioned during a Q&A following one of his talks [1] (transcription mine):

RW: What happens to a society(?):

— if its economic power is declining;
— if its political power is declining;
— if its cultural and moral role in the world is declining;
— it still has the world's most powerful military?

What will Leaders be tempted to think about doing when they have only one card to play? And by the way, this may come to many of you as a scary thought, but if you pick up a reasonable French or German newspaper: there's a column on this question every week.

Audience member: "What question is that?"

RW: The question is, What happens to a Colossus when it begins to go down politically, down culturally, down economically...but has the most powerful military in the world? What it will tempted to imagine is possible is ...that if they use what they got...maybe they can recoup what they lost... Uh oh. Uh oh.

[1] (Capitalism Hits The Fan - Richard Wolff . Quoted remarks begin at 1:44:03)

3:54 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

What's shakin' Dr. Berman and Wafers?

MB, Wafers-

Future Trends Dept.:,0,3505371.story

A three-day trade show for domestic drones kicks off in DC. Featuring over 600 exhibits, it's the largest domestic drone and hi-tech surveillance show in the world. Spokesperson for the conference, Melanie Hinton, stated that domestic drones are a "growth industry." Excited customers are encouraged to operate drone simulators that fly these devices over the Hindu Kush and watch whirligig-sized drones take photographs inside houses from front yards in suburbia...

"Whither goest thou, America, in thy shiny car in the night?
~Jack Kerouac, 1957

Josie Green-

Many thanks for the shout-out! I look forward to more contributions from u.


Maimonidean-SIG revelations:

1. Colleague thinks Hillary will be the answer: I remain silent, focus on my breathing, and just listen.

2. My wife switched from her Kindle edition WAF to my hard copy edition: a breakthrough.


6:14 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I keep writing the Pentagon to the effect that the world is undernuked, and that we need to start by wiping Paris and Toronto off the map. The fools refuse to reply. Their loss.


8:43 PM  
Anonymous Jesse said...

Mike and Dr B: I am troubled about this quote from Obama: "While Mohammed Morsi was elected president in a democratic election, his government was not inclusive and did not respect the views of all Egyptians."

Not inclusive: What does this mean? When was the last an administration in US is inclusive of all the people in America? Obama himself did not get the votes of 76% of white people, but his current administration constitutes more than 90% white people everywhere. When was the last time you heard a person in his government who sounds like a WAFER?

Not respect the views of all: Obama’s administration does not respect the views of all, hence the problems with NSA surveillance, with whistleblowers, and with IRS. Obama targets people and groups who disagree with him for prosecution and harassment.

Given that Obama’s government is not inclusive of all persons and all views, the US military should do like the Egyptian military and take over the country from Obama. We know that military coup will not happen in America yet, because no country pumps in guns to disgruntled groups inside America and Americans are still asleep.

8:57 PM  
Anonymous Edward said...

@bowtiejack, thanks for the link to Ian Walsh’s article on Obama and NSA.

The article is very good. He claims that power decreases empathy and that the level of empathy in the general population in USA has decreased over time. He also claims that when the system runs on greed, people who stole the wealth of the nation will believe they deserve what they got and that people who are poor deserve their destitute condition. This is deep. I wish someone here can recommend books that explore this topic.

The comments therein are even better; everyone should read the comments. Obama is the biggest hypocrite ever. Either he has no brains or he strongly believes that Americans are dumb. I think it is both: he is dumb and Americans are dumb like him. This also calls into question the so-called education from Harvard – he learned nothing; he was not taught how to think and reason.

@NearFar, thanks for the video from Robert Wolff.

Some of the numbers from the video are mind-numbing. America borrows heavily from China, and America owes China 1.5 trillion dollars. The US government has to pay $60 billion in interests per year to China because of the 1.5 trillion dollars owed to China. This is unbelievable. What does this say about the mental capacity of the people that run America?
The American workers work more, make less in salary, and owe more in debts because of the squeeze put on them due to greed by top managers, wall streeters, and owners of firms. In 1970, the American workers owed 30% of their annual income as debt. In 2007, the American workers owed 125% of their annual income as debt.

11:59 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Nicholas Lamar Soutter, "The Water Thief."


12:38 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I got a copy of "A Question of Values" from the library and read it in one day. It was a great collection of essays and I recommend it to anyone. One of my favorite parts was when you discuss America's foreign policy with China and Japan. The Japanese putting on a front for General Macarthur was amusing and revealing. You really hit the nail on the head with China knowing we're suckers. They just tell American elites what they want to hear and make meaningless concessions while continuing their authoritarian ways. The ego's of US leaders blind them to the fact they are being played and they tell themselves China will adopt American democracy and consumerism. After reading your analysis I saw both Senator Baucus and Henry Paulson basically say, "we've talked to China about our trade deficit, they understand the situation. They didn't resist any of my recommendations." (Higher currency, higher domestic consumption) This confirmed my notion you were correct, Baucus and Paulson got empty rhetoric and soon they'll be empty handed. Thanks again for all the fantastic writing you produce.

1. Do you ever feel like a Cassandra? Warning about the future but nobody listens?

2. Would you ever publicly debate anyone who holds an opposing viewpoint on America?

1:41 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Wow, fast work! That's pretty impressive. Glad u liked it, in any case. Re: US foreign policy: if yr not very bright, and yr impressed w/yrself, then yr easily manipulated.

1. If I'm like a Cassandra, I don't care that much. Truth is, I don't really expect anybody to listen, and my life isn't predicated on being influential. WAF sold 6000 copies in a nation of 315 million people, which says it all. What I care abt, finally, is that it's a gd book; that I did my best in writing it, was as honest as I cd be, and that a few people enjoyed it.

2. It doesn't interest me that much, because I'm not sure there wd be any pt to it. After the dust wd settle, both of us wd probably still believe what we believe. So it wd be a debate just for public show. I don't believe minds really get swayed by that sort of thing. The ideal setting, in my mind, is sitting around with a dozen people for an afternoon and doing the best I can to take on their objections or critiques. This works better because it's a truth-seeking kind of context, whereas public debates are more of an impress-the-audience kind of context. Tedious, imo.


3:28 AM  
Anonymous ellen said...

Dr B said 'Karlfried von Duerckheim (Hara) also flirted with Nazism, but it's a great book.'

In the interests of transparency, the Graf did rather more than flirt. He was a state-sanctioned, official, proselytising, anti-semitic, True Believer for a number of years and did time in Japan (18 months) after the war for his beliefs. I don't know (and who could know for sure?) that he ever changed them.

That said, it is still a good book and I have yet to catch fascism from it.

Actual, observed behaviour is a far better indicator of a decent person than professed beliefs.

3:36 AM  
Anonymous shep said...


U are one funny dude. "God bless a Coat Hanger".
"Get that thing out of me". "Christians don't know a scam when they see it." "Getting rich off of Insurance scams." U are on the way to Carlin and Hicks status. Bravo.

6:50 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Dr. Berman and WAFERS,

I was recently a part of a "speed dating " exercise (which was really a speed networking exercise) at a local non-profits meeting. seven people were pitted against seven others. One group remained in the same place and the other shifted every 3 minutes. In the 3 minutes we were to get to know the other person. In the end the conductor of the exercise said if you had a good time doing this exercise you are an extrovert and you should be excited. Otherwise you are an introvert and would need to work on social skills.

I raised my hand and said I am an introvert but I could still have a good conversation.

Why are extroverts aggrandized and introverts demonized in the US?

Thank You,

7:28 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

The kind of education "reform" we're getting now:

The final line:

If you are backed by enough money, you will almost always retain your status in America — no matter how wrong you are and how many lives you ruin.

God knows there's plenty wrong with American society today. But this deliberate destruction of education in the name of profit strikes me as especially ugly. It's essentially mutilating the minds of entire generations in order to produce endless cannon fodder, complacent service workers, and technically skilled drones as needed.

8:25 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Susan Cain, "Quiet".


9:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you are interested in what will happen as the Colossus with the biggest and most guns collapses, you might want to read Dmitry Orlov's two books, "Reinventing Collapse" and "The Five Stages of Collapse."

An engineer whose family moved here from Russia when he was a kid, he visited the Soviet Union during its collapse, and does a contrast and compare analysis of what is likely to happen in the U.S. based on the Russian experience (first book) and follows up with a higher level anaylsis of collapse as it effects various aspects of society (financial, political, cultural) in the second book.

Very interesting, thought provoking reading. On his blog, he is currently doing a series on the characteristics of communities that abide.

Among other things, Orlov argues that when the dollar loses its world reserve currency status, America will no longer be able to afford its foreign adventures and that the military will therefore turn its efforts inward and operate domestically in order to preserve a flow of funds to the miitary industrial complex, and that cities will basically be occupied. He argues that there is a good chance that many of our troops and materiel abroad will simply be abandoned, because too costly to bring home. Bad news if you've got relatives on foreign bases.

He also argues that financial collapse will likely lead to the large-scale release of prisoners from our for-profit prison system, with not-so-rosy results for the rest of society, and that political collapse and the diminishing power of the central government will enable the rise of drug cartels as local and regional bosses and de facto governing powers.

So, in case you were wondering whether it was a good idea to emigrate from the U.S., and that MB's ontological and cultural anlysis of a brain-dead America was not quite sufficient, Orlov will give you some further reasons to take that course.

Btw, Orlov lives on a sailboat with his family in Boston Harbor, and is positioned to sail away when and if necessary. Like our host, he walks the walk, as they say.

10:07 AM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...

Sir Taigo,

That was a brilliant summary of the reality that is unfolding. This Orlov is clearly on the the practical implications of MB's observations and analysis.

By my lights the work of MB helps break through the fog of propaganda, cant, indoctrination and well garden variety stupidiy and super duper strength super sized american stupidity. A quick look at Orlov's blog seems to suggest that he is a cassandra pointing out the inevitable of reality asserting itself and that it will not be pretty. I agree.

What MB notes in Existential Strain and is a theme in much of his work is that people are in effect going apeshit as the world they thought they inhabited is well a fiction. Reality is felt much more harshly by the poor and as the U.S.A becomes poorer things will become harsher and harsher. per Orlov people who are part of tight knit groups with skills will be most likely to survive. Those who are true 100% americanos only have the official narrative of shopping, voting and "correct" political attitudes and television will be good and hosed. Its clear that those less in the Matrix will have an easier time of it.

Thanks for posting--very interesting and fixed some ideas for yours truly.

11:51 AM  
Anonymous satyaSarika said...

@Dr MB:

I read the Atlantic interview and many comments. Enjoyed the interview. Thought a few of the comments had legitimate criticism. Specifically, since the SSGIG booklet deals with the spiritual dimension, more feeling of empathy and compassion in interview and less judgement would be more attractive, without compromising integrity. This seems merely a matter of style, not substance. I assume I know enough of you to think there is plenty empathy there.

For example, the comment about working in a corporation populated mostly by: (i paraphrase) overweight women with dead eyes, who were already dead, pretty much brings to mind the zombie apocalypse rather than any spiritual understanding. I think it's perfectly possible to have a harsh critique of the US culture and its people without losing all feeling for them/us.

To me, style is not the important thing. Your Postman lecture presents a relatively humble person. So your style isn't fixed and unchanging.

1:06 PM  
Anonymous Smith said...

Jesse, I agree with you, but I'd like to add the qualifier that that needs to apply to lots of our previous presidents, not just Obama. Sure, punish Obama, but frankly the people before him needed to be punished as well, and Americans had no problem with overreach of power then. They never have, actually.

Lots of American Presidents targeted people who disagreed with them for harassment. That goes all the way back to Woodrow Wilson and the first Red Scare if you're talking about the 20th century, and if you go back as far as our country's beginnings, John Adams did the same thing with the Alien and Sedition Acts.

Heck, George W. Bush targeted Muslims, Greenpeace, liberal political protesters in general, environmentalists, scientists, etc. But back then, Americans cheered him on for doing it.

What I find interesting is that all these scandals are starting to get people pissed off at Obama...because he's targeting "conservative white Christian men." That's the one group in this country that's almost never legitimately been persecuted in the "political sense."

But now THAT group is suffering. Now the "conservative white Christian males" are in danger of being locked away without trial for their beliefs...

...and now suddenly they see the value of criticizing the President for overreach of power, after they slammed the Dixie Chicks when they criticized Obama's predecessor Bush.

Protesters were a "bunch of whiners" and "traitors to their country," Americans said. Now Obama's enlarged the scope and dragged the "decent God-fearing folk" into his net, and NOW they're willing to criticize the President and their country.

Berman, do you find all of this as hilarious as I do?

3:06 PM  
Anonymous Birney Zouave said...

Prof. Berman-

I am a professional tour guide at one of our national military parks. As a guide, I get to meet people from all over the country, and although I have to say that most tour parties are predisposed to have a meaningful experience, I have noticed a disheartening trend lately.

While perhaps not directly associated with your newest main theme of “existential strain,” my observation is related to something I read in your book “A Question of Values.” In that volume, you wrote about having gone to a conference where many in the audience constantly manipulated their “smart” phones. I must tell you that this phenomenon has recently cropped up on my 2-hour car tours through the battlefield, mostly on tours with teenage children.

Most people are not US History scholars, and many battlefield tours are with families with children, so we vary our tour strategy. When kids are on a tour, we may give mom and dad some battle history/political history one minute, and then stop to see a bronze sculpture of a regimental mascot in the next minute. Most children and adolescents can be eventually engaged by covering the various facets of the national park; the monuments, the historical landscape, stories of the soldiers and civilians; there’s literally something for all ages.

Recently, I’ve had two family tours where the teenage children simply would not put down their phones for more than one minute. Both of the tours seemed to have had relatively affluent parents, judging by their dress and type of motor vehicle, and both tours had two children, with all four children possessing “smart” phones. On the first tour the older teenager dutifully followed us around when we got out of the car at the various tour stops, texting away, but at least seemingly listening to some of what I was saying, because he’d look up briefly at times and nod. I was afraid he might trip over something as he walked and texted, as if hypnotized…

On the most recent “teenage texting tour,” both kids were sullen the whole time and frequently verbally disrespected their parents, who were very nice 40-something adults; both parents were keenly interested in hearing about the battle and its place in history. Even though I tried mixing things up as on past tours with teenagers, nothing seemed to click. The mom finally confided to me in an aside that she had half-promised the kids a canned Segway tour earlier in the day, and then decided that a car tour with a live guide might be more interesting. So I suppose I was really coming in second to a Segway! During the last few stops, the mom and dad practically had to beg the kids to get out of the car.

At any rate, I’d like to think most of my generation (born in the late 50s) would not have furiously texted and checked email on a tour with their parents, if smart phones were available in our teenage years. To me, it would have been like reading a hard-cover mystery novel while sitting in 8th grade history class. As a sixth-grader in the early 70s, I remember taking a school bus tour of the battlefield, and all of us sat quietly as an elderly guide sternly lectured us. We may not have all been totally interested, but at least we respected the gentleman.

Best regards, and thanks for your thoughts in various books and articles; your writings are always thought-provoking.

PS- one of the park rangers is working on an article about Northern capitalism as being one of the major causes of the Civil War, so maybe some of your ideas are starting to permeate the “establishment.” Also, please take note that the battlefield guides are not employed by the National Park Service; nor do we speak for them…

5:26 PM  
Anonymous Jesse said...

Smith, you stated: “Now Obama's enlarged the scope and dragged the "decent God-fearing folk" into his net, and NOW they're willing to criticize the President and their country.”

Obama’s NSA policy is almost the same as that of GW Bush.

I do not know if he widened the scope to include religious people alone. What I do know is that Obama is a fool in this whole fiasco because he heavily and loudly criticized GW Bush on the same policy before becoming the president:

Obama promised a lot of things to get our votes. This is why looking at him now is so painful for me. It is also very painful for a lot of young people who have been turned off by politics because of his blatant lies and somersaults.

6:50 PM  
Anonymous Ken Smith said...

I followed Morris Berman's link to The Atlantic article and comments on that site before reading the comments here. I should not have been surprised by the Atlantic comments, but indeed I was startled by the clueless tone of many. There is a festering mean streak in America that is fueled by willful ignorance.

I have nothing to add to the above comments, other than to say that I am continually impressed by how smart some folks are in these comments. Almost all of the comments here are well reasoned (although not always correct) and I learn something every day.

Now, if we could only convince Professor Berman to abandon the obsolete BlogSpot content publishing system and get a proper and readable blog, such as WordPress, we would see this site gain even more readers -- and more book sales.

7:05 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


It seems to me this has come up before, namely your concern as to what I said to someone, how I said it, etc. Once again: that is not the subject of this blog. When the Atlantic interviews *you*, you can do it differently, and I'm sure you'll have the abs. perfect touch. But until then, I think you might want to think about the phrase "get a life." Worrying abt my mode of expression--well, I sincerely hope you have better things to do with your time. The subject of this blog is the collapse of the American empire, OK?


Granted that yr not employed by the NPS, someone hasta be in charge here, and I think it's their responsibility to make it a requirement of the tour that (as on airplanes) all electronic devices be turned off. I confess that there is a level at which I am in favor of all this, in that part of the collapse of our culture is this type of rudeness, distraction, and lack of interest. So these kiddies are doing their bit to hasten the process of social disintegration. But I don't think you shd hafta put up with this crap, and some no-phone policy needs to be hammered out by your employers and enforced. If people wanna use their phones, they shd not be permitted to take the tour.


7:09 PM  
Anonymous LW said...

Just something that struck me today: I am single, and admittedly pathetic enough to try online dating. No, THAT didn't strike me, I've known about my sorry state of being for quite some time now. But as a note, the online dating stuff just doesn't (hasn't) worked. Most women never actually meet but instead prefer to enjoy a weird, short, uninteresting digital flirtation before simply fading away into the Internet void leaving me to wonder if they were even real women at all. Ugh, shivers . . .

But I digress, what struck me today, and made me a bit sad, was realizing how many single mothers were on this site looking for some type of love/support/HELP!. Pictures of moms with their kids in living rooms and by kitchen tables etc. It really hurt my heart to see how many families are broken and how many mothers are just hoping someone will find them attractive enough to lend a hand. I know this is old news and it may not have the same effect on others. On other days I too may be the one laughing off this realization: "Wow, breaking news, American families are shit! Gimme a break!"

Still, for whatever reason, it hit me today, and just seemed really sad. Happy Friday, have a good weekend!

8:20 PM  
Blogger Horatio Nelson said...

on existential strain theory--

one of the best examples of this is provided by the von Trier film "Melancholia".

everyone except the depressive girl can't face the fact that what they do in their normal everyday life is generally meaningless. they all expect her to "be happy!" no matter what lengths they go to for her, yet she knows that the stereotypical life doesn't truly satisfy. because she won't get with the program, most of them fall out with her. her parents, as narcisstic as they are, are the only sane ones because they know that none of the "rituals" and seemly behavior mean a damned thing, so one might as well go their own way.

then, the end of the world comes. everyone else realizes that their life's activities have been meaningless, while she is free from worry and pain because a) she knew it all along and b) no one is expecting anything from her anymore. in the end, she helps the few remaining family members face the ultimate reality of death.

8:53 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...


Just wanted to confirm, I am in fact a unique human being, and not just some product of Dr. Berman. I, like you, look forward to the posters here. Here, among commentators on this blog, we find a level of intelligence and critique which is sorely lacking among the general American public.

After all, if we were to go into bars and work telling people about the decline of America, we would be met with, at best, blank stares and the admonition that we are being too "negative." The pervasive anti-intellectualism and unthinking authoritarianism of American culture is what makes this blog so valuable, as a forum for people with alternative views to share their thoughts.

9:38 PM  
Anonymous Marcos said...

LW says: “what struck me today, and made me a bit sad, was realizing how many single mothers were on this site looking for some type of love/support/HELP!”

Americans can’t get along with each other because they are immature. Yet, they run around the world puffing and gloating as if they are the most civilized specie ever created by God. It is like the coffin – when you look outside, it is pretty. But when you look inside, it is rotten and death. Americans look good outside, but are rotten inside. This is why they can’t get along with anybody.

9:50 PM  
Blogger bowtiejack said...

I’ve been reading a lot lately about computers (and cellphones) as possibly “transitional objects”.

Transitional objects are early childhood’s teddy bears, favorite blankets, dolls, etc,, which give the child a sense of connection to the world in the absence of Mom.

Or as Wikipedia puts it “. . . a physical object, which takes the place of the mother-child bond.”

That sure sounds like a lot of what we’re talking about here.

10:05 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


One of the most destructive aspects of a hustling culture--one defined by science, technology, and economic expansion--is the hidden shadow side of all of that fanfare, or 'progress'. That's why I keep hammering at the pt of, How do you define the term? The underbelly is misery, in particular the inability of individuals in such a culture to find love. If competition, and thus fundamental disregard of other human beings, reigns, how is it not going to seep into romantic or familial relationships? The problem is that within a scientific culture such as ours, only things that are tangible and measurable have meaning; whereas the truth is that those things are the *least* significant, from a human pt of view. And so the pain u.r. describing--such as single moms hoping against hope to find a guy--and let's face it, most of them won't--is not visible because not technically measurable. What does the GDP (for example) have to do with this very real reality? A sentence such as "this is a soul-destroying culture" can't be translated into a scientific or measurable idiom; and so the overall brutality of the culture never gets addressed, or even perceived. Can a president who has no inner life himself, talk to the issue of the inner life of American citizens? The fact is that this nation is a slaughter-house of innocent victims--the children of those single moms, for example--and will hafta try to patch themselves together as best they can. And they don't do a very gd job of it, typically adopting the formulas of the very culture that is killing them--a kind of Stockholm Syndrome. Hence, the origins of Existential Strain.

A recent story from England: a Polish couple, immigrants; she has a 4-yr-old boy, and lives with the child and her boyfriend. They proceed to torture the boy to death, which included starvation and beatings. At the sentencing--25 years in jail--they show no emotion at all. A picture of the boy is of a kid who is absolutely adorable, a little child smiling into the camera; an innocent. And I thought: what did this kid ever do to wind up with a fate like this? To die in extreme pain, b4 he had ever lived? I had a desire to interview the mother; say: What in the world were you thinking, that torturing and killing your child cd be OK? When u were starving him, or locking him in a closet for several days, what was going on in your mind? This is not rhetorical: I think we might learn a lot about the nature of societies like the UK and the US, in which money is everything, and life is little more than a Darwinian existence.

So the inner life is largely ignored, and we focus on crap instead. And then of course there's Oprah, who reduces the solution to "right thinking" and extreme individualism--a Reaganite ideology that in a larger sense makes her, Reagan, and much of the American public war criminals of a sort, in the battle for the human soul.


10:08 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Check out ch. 1 of "Coming to Our Senses," for greater elaboration and refs.


10:16 PM  
Anonymous The Dude said...

Birney Zouave - I may have mentioned this before on DAA, but there was a public opinion poll out around the 4th of July before last in which only about two-thirds of American adults could correctly identify which country the US declared its independence from. The kicker was that the percentage grew worse the younger the age group with less than 40% of those under 30, who would have been the most recent products of our "stellar" educational system, getting the question correct. I shiver to think how low that percentage will drop when the kids who are being raised with "smart" phones become adults.

I, too, was educated in the 70s and remember having quite a few teachers who encouraged their students to THINK. A lot of the students couldn't be bothered, of course, but at least the opportunity was there for those of us who were so inclined. George Carlin's claim the the "owners" of this country don't want citizens who are capable of critical thinking is becoming more and more true every year.

11:34 PM  
Anonymous J S RANK said...

@ Horatio N ...check out the often panned, but truly cult classic romantic comedy "Joe Versus the Volcano", 1990, Tom Hanks - Meg Ryan.
Sad, blue wonder he's dying !

@ MB and fellow WAFer's ...I think that what you have defined so well Dr. B, is that this "culture of hustling" is un-natural....certainly not healthy on a human or any biological level. Basic physics of Newtonian principles would be as destructive.

Constant movement, eternal inertia, perpetual motion is anti-dynamics and antithetical to existence.
But that is what 'hustling' demands.

12:08 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Good interview - well worth a re-read.

Greetings Dr. Berman and WAFers. It's most refreshing to find an honest assessment of the state of the nation for a change. I've been wanting to leave for decades, but struggling artists aren't at the top of most countries' list of desirable immigrants - even the French don't *really* want us. However the current state of affairs and the way things are evidently trending inspire one to make a great and unprecedented effort to get the hell out of Dodge while that is still possible.

So majestic is Kim's posterior, so transcendental are its cosmic orotundties, that I fear even Dr. Berman may not be thinking quite big enough. TV spots and dollar bills can't do it justice. I feel it's no more than our patriotic duty to create a national shrine, a vast marmorial temple along the lines of the Lincoln Memorial - only far bigger of course - in which her marbled gluteus, execauted on a colossal scale, will receive due reverence. Failure to prostrate before it will be severely punishable. We should be easily able to afford this, by raiding what's left of Social Security and slashing teachers' saries by 187 percent, and of course canceling school lunches. It's just a modest proposal.

1:28 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I wish u luck on yr departure plans. It's sobering to realize that after more than 400 yrs on the American continent, non-Native Americans produced a political expt that in essence now reduces to Kim K's rear end. Oh, one can rant on abt the Supreme Court and the Interstate Hwy System and other so-called marvels of the American Way of Life, but these are trifles, really. When the dust settles, we see that it was always abt Kim's tush. Her rump is the Grand Tetons; her crevice, the Continental Divide and the Bicameral Legislature. That this topographical wonder got left out of Mt. Rushmore remains a dark stain on American history. It is certainly time to repair this egregious omission.


2:35 AM  
Anonymous James Newlin said...

I thought readers of the blog might enjoy this:

Conflict Kitchen is a restaurant that only serves cuisine from countries with which the United States is in conflict. Each Conflict Kitchen iteration is augmented by events, performances, and discussions that seek to expand the engagement the public has with the culture, politics, and issues at stake within the focus country. The restaurant rotates identities every few months in relation to current geopolitical events.

4:56 AM  
Anonymous Golf Pro said...


Check this out for internet "dating":

7:56 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

The only thing internet dating did for me is help me improve my typing skills.
Just back from my annual 2-3 month tour of SE Asia. Wafers, do consider Cambodia or Laos to emigrate to. The people are genuinely friendly, the food is superb, and not expensive. In addition, there are few techno-buffoons and rudeness is almost non-existent.
Finally, for anyone who still harbors the idea that things can get turned around here, Larry Summers, one of the main culprits behind the 2008 financial meltdown is seriously being considered to be the next Federal Reserve chairman. Not only is it game over but the tarmac now covers the playing field.

8:15 AM  
Anonymous Marcos said...

If Egyptians fail to realize that to play with the devil, you must become like the devil. If they fail to learn from the past of Chile, El Salvador, and Iran. If they stop and realize that the America they want to be like is decaying and dying. If they realize that democracy means anarchy and greed and misuse of language for personal gains. If they realize that calling segments of their society 'terrorists' is a tactic used by GW Bush and Obama to demonize other people so as to kill them. If they know that the biggest terrorists are Obama and Americans. Then and only then, the bloodshed will end; they will start to think how to face their collective internal and external enemies; I saw some Egyptian women on youtube going naked and trying to expose their skin like American women. I said to myself: This is democracy. This is freedom. They want to be like kim kardashian. This is what they want in Egypt when some Americans are running away from America because this type of decadence.

Egypt's military-backed government released a statement Friday accusing "terrorist groups" and "outlaws" of confronting security forces, which it said must "stand together against a terrorist plot." The interim Cabinet authorized police to use of deadly force against anyone targeting police and state institutions a day earlier.

Egyptian state television showed footage of armed Brotherhood supporters under the banner headline "Egypt Fights Terrorism".

8:20 AM  
Anonymous From Imbecileville said...

Here is an Ivan Ilyich moment from the dying Clive James that appeared in the New Yorker a few months ago. Absolutely love the title, which is better than the poem itself.

Leçons des ténèbres

But are they lessons, all these things I learn
Through being so far gone in my decline?
The wages of experience I earn
Would service well a younger life than mine.
I should have been more kind. It is my fate
To find this out, but find it out too late.

The mirror holds the ruins of my face
Roughly together, thus reminding me
I should have played it straight in every case,
Not just when forced to. Far too casually
I broke faith when it suited me, and here
I am alone, and now the end is near.

All of my life I put my labour first.
I made my mark, but left no time between
The things achieved, so, at my heedless worst,
With no life, there was nothing I could mean.
But now I have slowed down. I breathe the air
As if there were not much more of it there

And write these poems, which are funeral songs
That have been taught to me by vanished time:
Not only to enumerate my wrongs
But to pay homage to the late sublime
That comes with seeing how the years have brought
A fitting end, if not the one I sought.

8:34 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Great poem; I remember cutting it out and stashing it somewhere, when it was published a while back.


Octavio Paz wrote that less developed countries wd hafta go thru the process, copy the US, in order to discover the mistake of doing so--by which time, it was too late to change course.


A gd example of what a joke this admin is. At least Obama backed away from having Jas Clapper investigate the NSA. Of course, 95% of the American public can't tell u what the Fed or the NSA is. Maybe 99%, I dunno.


9:40 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Dr. Berman,

Thank you for referring me to Susan Cain's book "Quiet". I listened to a TED talk given by her. I completely agree and identify with what she said.

Also as J. Krishnamurti says in the quote below, being inward looking (introverted) is essential to come to true understanding. I also see him suggesting one become a NMI:

"Self-knowledge, then, is the beginning of the freedom of the mind. There cannot be understanding of oneself, fundamentally, deeply, if there is any form of assumption, any authority, either of the past or of the present. But the mind is frightened to let go of all authority and investigate because it is afraid of not arriving at a particular result. So the mind is concerned with achieving a result, but not with the investigation to find out, to understand. That is why we cling to authority -religious, psychological, or philosophical. Being afraid, we demand guides, authorities, scriptures, saviors, inspiration in various forms, and so the mind is made incapable of standing alone and trying to find out. But one must stand alone, completely, totally alone, to find out what is true." - J. Krishnamurti, Amsterdam, 1955 Talk1

Thank You,

10:57 AM  
Anonymous Jesse said...

@Golf Pro: Check this out for internet "dating":

I do not understand how some people are wired. What makes them think they can get along with other people in cyberspace when they cannot get along with people and loved ones next to them in real 3-dimensional space? They hate themselves, they disrespect their parents, and they destroy their communities, all because of greed and lack of empathy. Yet they think they can get along with other people via the cyberspace. They think they can recreate communities of love and caring from afar, at long distance from other people. There is a blatant element of insanity in this kind of thinking and dishonesty. That way madness lies (thanks to Shakespeare)

11:10 AM  
Anonymous Golf Pro said...


I think the illusion is that it's "just" the internet, but really the interactions are emotionally just as fraught, or perhaps even more concentratedly so, than in real life. Even aliases don't offer much protection - when someone insults you, it still hurts.

Golf Pro is my real name, btw.

12:55 PM  
Anonymous Smith said...

Actually, Jesse, the people who hate others aren't the same ones who want to love the Internet people.

Rather, they are the ones who GET trampled on, but are then told THEY are at fault if they refuse to "get along with" the jerks.

Of course they hate their communities. What are American communities like?

American communities reward jerkass behavior, and punish good and decent behavior.

Maybe they're dating over the Internet because the Internet doesn't have insane and arbitrary rules that constantly require that the LEAST self-aware people constantly be catered to and their ideas reinforced, while the people who are trying to be reasonable are constantly told that they must accept being dominated by those who are not reasonable.

I agree that it's not a real solution, but their actions do make some sense, in a culture that isn't actually very good at identifying which people are good and decent and which people are insane.

Maybe they'd prefer the Internet because at least the Internet isn't constantly trying to convince them, to borrow Berman's words in an earlier article, that up is down, black is white, and smart is stupid.

The Internet may not cure their loneliness, but at least unlike Americans, it doesn't keep asking them to LIE TO THEMSELVES.

Does that make things make a bit more sense, Jesse?

4:21 PM  
Anonymous Mike Alan said...

Nice interview Dr. B. I enjoyed reading it as I do all of your interviews. I also enjoyed the comments. It was just like bringing up any of the topics discussed here to any of the true believing wage slaves in this country.

James Newlin, I can empathize with your experiences in dealing with the blue collar crowd. While I have done the whole college and corporate and non-profit job thing, somehow I always end up back in the blue collar realm. I guess I'm not polite enough for the white collar world.

Anyway, the levels of wage slave mentality and self-depreciation in the blue collar world are incredible. Every now and then I will encounter someone who does have a clue, but for the most part these folks are happy to slave away while getting through every day with some form of stimulant, from coffee and cigarettes to Mtn. Dew and alcohol, or religion all in the hopes of buying that boat or big screen TeeVee so they zone out when not at work. And yes, the guns are a vital part of it all. It appears they plan on using the guns to fight to keep their wage slavery intact. It's incredible to behold at times.

6:22 PM  
Anonymous sanctuary! said...

Communicating via internet is no substitute for real face-to-face interaction...but it's better than having nobody but dolts to communicate with, isn't it? It's kind of like having a smart pen pal when you're surrounded by awful people. (Only it's worse, because screens aren't healthy.) A solution, move to a decent area then get out and meet people.

6:36 PM  
Anonymous Edward said...

If you were a cop, would you do this to save a life? Are you this brave and sympathetic?

"With only seconds to spare, a resourceful Chinese cop figured out how to rescue a suicidal woman dangling precariously from a ledge.

Authorities were called to the heart-pounding scene in Sanlitun in Beijing on Wednesday after a woman climbed to the top of a billboard and appeared to be prepared to jump, according to ZUMA Press, an independent photo agency that released the dramatic images.

To help bring the woman to safety, the unidentified policeman handcuffed himself to her and used a rope to pull her up. Cops didn’t reveal any details as to what led the woman to nearly take her life."

7:04 PM  
Anonymous James Newlin said...

Marcos -

" If they realize that democracy means anarchy and greed"

Anarchy is not synonymous with chaos and violence. Nor is America a democracy. I recommend reading the book The Democracy Project by David Graeber. Or read Tolstoy, or publications by IWW.

Also if you're a fan of Chris Hedges, here's a article written by David Graeber that strongly denounces what Hedges said about anarchists in Occupy. I agree with a lot of what Hedges says, but on this he was way off, it was anarchists who organized OWS in the first place!

12:46 AM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

Mike Alan said:

"Anyway, the levels of wage slave mentality and self-depreciation in the blue collar world are incredible."

While you may not change your opinion(s) regarding those who comprise America's blue collar workforce or find a reason to forgive their ignorance--willful or otherwise--after you've read it, you might want to read Joe Bageant's Deer Hunting with Jesus.

A native of Winchester, Virginia, Bageant escaped his blue collar world, aware of its liabilities and limitations, only to return toward the end of his life. His perspective may help explain why people of the lower class behave as they do.

7:59 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...


Even better is an actual pen pal, as I've recently rediscovered in my attempt to regain my handwriting. I still have bundles of letters from friends in the 1960s & 1070s, which I can return to as the mood strikes me. How often do we revisit our old emails? Now that I've got a real pen pal again, I'm thoroughly enjoying it!

In fact, while I'll still use the occasional email, I'm reverting to handwritten letters for the people who matter to me. It really does make me think & write differently to put pen to paper; it feels deeper & richer, demanding more of me but also rewarding me with much more substance.

I always carry a couple of pens, a small pocket notebook, and a small Moleskine sketchbook with me now. As Yogi Berra once so wisely stated, "You can observe a lot by just watching." I can't draw for beans, but I'm learning. And there's a lot to draw!

My wife has suggested that we start setting aside a day every so often where we simply do without any electronics, other than leaving the refrigerator running. No phone, lamps, TV, computers, etc. We can walk, talk, write, make art, make music, just relax, read, meditate, etc.

A couple of lines from A Thousand Clowns:

"You've got to own your own days and name them, every one of them, or else the years go right by and none of them belong to you."

"I want him to know the special thing that he is or else he won't notice it when it starts to go."

Everything today is geared to crush any knowledge of being that special thing & wire us all into the Matrix. Don't let it go!

8:53 AM  
Anonymous shep said...


"Anarchy" is a very confusing term to me.

Literally I think it means NO hierarchy, which is a really good thing, to me.

However, most seem to think it is bomb throwing only.

Has Graeber introduced a third way to think about it?

I read his objection to Chris Hedges and wasn't too comfortable with it. Hedges is a peace monger and I believe Graeber is. I was frankly confused by the two articles. I see truth in both?

Any insight to peace or incite to riot to my debacle? I'm spinning, not into gold, but just spinning.

11:25 AM  
Anonymous Marcos said...

@James Newlin: All I can say to you is this: Thank you, thank you, and thank you for opening my eyes. Thank you for introducing me to David Graeber. Thank you for leading me to materials that helped me to finally nail the meaning of the word ‘anarchism’. This is the main reason I come here: What I learn from here I can never learn from anywhere on this planet. How I live in USA without knowing about the work of David Graeber is really baffling to me.

David is a very smart teacher. I used to think that anarchy means chaos, violence, lawlessness, or a condition of state of nature as described by Hobbes. I used to believe that a place full of anarchy needs a good government where people are cared for and protected from harms. To be honest with you, I do not know where I got these ideas from. After listening to David Graeber since last night after your recommendation, I am a wiser WAFER today. According to Graeber, anarchism is democracy without the government; it is acting and living as if you are already free. And democracy is a bad way of organizing communism. The following passage from Graeber captures the mind of a true WAFER: “Student loans are destroying the imagination of youth. If there’s a way of a society committing mass suicide, what better way than to take all the youngest, most energetic, creative, joyous people in your society and saddle them with, like $50,000 of debt so they have to be slaves? There goes your music. There goes your culture. There goes everything new that would pop out. And in a way, this is what’s happened to our society. We’re a society that has lost any ability to incorporate the interesting, creative and eccentric people.”

Everybody here should spend some time listening to Graeber. The first video is an interview with Charlie Rose (at least watch this interview many times):

1:49 PM  
Anonymous sanctuary! said...

mb, how's the buffoonami these days? Have the trolls got u hopping & popping? It's exciting I'm sure!

Just thinking abt the upcoming US elections ('14, '16) is tingle-making! And u r in the cat bird's seat for it all, able to turn away to yr upcoming book, or watch the Abrams flip dirt-ward (like the Trans-Ams plunging over the cliff in old '70s teevee shows), ad libitum.

It's truly a gd time to be alive.

2:46 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...


The problem in Egypt is not an excess of democracy, but rather a lack of democracy. When their military rulers staged a coup on their democratically elected leader, and now massacre political protesters demanding his reinstatement, the problem with that is that is a form of arbitrary rule, backed up by violence, that goes against the democratic will of Egypt in electing their leader.

As for your comments about the misuse of language, I think you have a stronger point. The problem with the term "terrorist" is that it is a loaded and one-sided term, so that the people in power using it use it only against their enemies, even though they engage in the same killing of civilians as their enemies.

What we are seeing now is that the meaning of the term "terrorist" has been broadened to include not just those who target civilians for political ends, but also anyone who is opposed to the policies of established governments, even if they do not take place in any violent acts. Really, the term has been drained of meaning, and is now little more than a tool for those in power to consolidate and expand their unchecked power to do whatever they like to dissidents.

Here is an example of what I'm talking about:

"The partner of the Guardian journalist who has written a series of stories revealing mass surveillance programmes by the US National Security Agency was held for almost nine hours on Sunday by UK authorities as he passed through London's Heathrow airport on his way home to Rio de Janeiro.

David Miranda, who lives with Glenn Greenwald, was returning from a trip to Berlin when he was stopped by officers at 8.30am and informed that he was to be questioned under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000. The controversial law, which applies only at airports, ports and border areas, allows officers to stop, search, question and detain individuals."

If only the public would wake up out of their Manichean, us-versus-the terrorists mentality and realize how the term is constantly being abused for political ends, we would be much better off.

3:50 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


We rarely lack for trolls and buffoons here, sad to say. But I'm pulling for Lorenzo Riggins for president.


4:16 PM  
Anonymous ellen said...

Here's more on that Greenwald partner story:

We have lots of those anti-terrorism laws being interpreted and used against an ever widening class of non-terrorists. (that means anybody in practice)

The Sunday papers meanwhile are full of a new police inquiry into the killing of Diana by the SAS (which is not at all beyond the realms of possibility) which will engage the general public for a time before the inevitable whitewash.

I read the Chris Hedges article that so incensed David Graeber.

The comments are great, Hedges has apologised and regrets the article apparently and for at least one contender it wasn't anarchists doing the organising for OWS but the FBI and their agents provocateur.

We've had long-term undercover policemen popping up and confessing everywhere in the alternative movements lately too.
Things must be bad for such obvious desperation to be on show from the establishment.

5:30 PM  
Anonymous Jesse said...

WAFERS are 300 years ahead of the rest of America. After reading the snippet posted here, click the link to read country-by-country examples:

What America Isn't Doing That The Rest Of The World Has Mastered

Americans, it seems, are always striving for bigger, faster, stronger -- but when it comes to slowing down, we're seriously lagging behind the rest of the world. Where productivity reigns supreme, constant multitasking and connection to digital devices (even during vacations and weekends) are inescapable facts of daily life.

Here in the States, no daily activity exists outside the grip of a mobile device: We check our email while going to the bathroom, text while walking down the street (and having sex), and interrupt conversations with our friends and family members to pick up the phone. Fifteen percent of US respondents to an AOL survey even said they send emails while at church.

This go, go, go mentality isn't universal -- and many cultures have a leg up on the U.S. when it comes to taking time to slow down, unplug and recharge. Most of these traditions existed long before email was invented -- maybe that’s why they’re so deeply rooted in their respective cultures, even as technology advances.

6:05 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


To me all these toys are like the Easter Island statues Chris Hedges talks about: the civilization was collapsing, so instead of doing anything intelligent they just constructed these expensive monuments and worshipped them. This was an early form of CRE. Always being on the fone is our contemporary form of it.



6:51 PM  
Blogger NearFar said...

@Edward - yes excellent, indeed those numbers from Richard Wolff are mind-numbing. I think it's important examine the situation of the Amer. worker since the 1970s just as you mentioned: "American workers work more, make less in salary, and owe more in debts." Since the 70s, the gap between rich & poor has widened to unprecedented levels. In 1970, among all advanced industrial nations, the U.S. had the most equal distribution of wealth & income. The gap between rich & poor was smaller in the U.S. than it was in those other countries. Today? We are the most *unequal*. But why? As RW explains, since the 70s, 2 factors (among many) can be highlighted: since then we've had both increased worker productivity *and* a precipitous decline in *real* wages for workers. Workers continue to produce more & more for the employer, but the employer doesn't give them any more. RW says, "you don't need an advanced degree in economics to understand that if workers are producing more & more for the employer but he's not giving them more & more, then the whole benefit of rising productivity accrues to *profit*. So the people who made out like bandits in the last 30 yrs were (1) the employers & (2) whoever could get a piece of the profits the employers were getting (stockowners/shareholders). Also, with declining real wages, workers since the 70s have gone on a borrowing binge to keep up their standard of living. But what's the source of the money lent to the workers? Where does it originate? Yep! That's right: the 'extraordinary profits made by American business.' These 'capitalists' turned around and used the extra profits they got (by not paying higher wages over the past 30+ yrs)...turned around & lent it to the workers instead. RW: "Let's think of ourselves as an employer. Instead of paying workers higher wages over time as they work harder and better for you... you *don't*. Instead of paying them more (like we did from 1820 to 1970), instead of that: we give them a loan. Which they have to give back to us. With *interest*! What does that tell you abt the society in which you live?" You'll recall that RW says at this pt. we should begin playing the National Anthem! For me, if that's not a telling aspect of how our own socio-economic dynamic is being played to the tune of Joe Bageant's "American Hologram," I don't know what is. The American business community (oxymoron alert) & corporations (the "capitalists") are playing us like a fiddle and we play right along.

@Sir Tagio - I share in Capo's appreciation of yr Orlov summary. I'm past my 1/2 pg. limit but want to key in on a few of yr points in my next post.

@James Newlin - Due to space constraints I can't address this now. However, Hedges was not denouncing anarchists in Occupy, but the Blac Bloc. Of course Graeber points out that anarchists often utilize what's called a "diversity of tactics." So 'Black Bloc' is a tactic in that sense. Graeber is not incorrect. Also, Hedges now acknowledges that "occupy" is another tactic. But he's hardly backed off from his criticism, nor would I characterize his current stance toward BB as an apology.

8:05 PM  
Anonymous Dr. Hackenbush said...

Sir Tagio- Does Orlov explain the mechanism by which the US dollar loses reserve status? Currently the US military enforces it (by controlling oil shipping lanes, etc. and requiring countries pay for oil in dollars.) As long as the military enforces the use of dollars this way, US dollars can be used to fund the war machine. So how does that cycle break down? Does Orlov give specifics?

10:23 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Tim Lukeman,

Thanks for the lines from 'A Thousand Clowns' – they really jogged my memory.

Back in the 1960’s the protagonist’s struggle to save his nephew’s spirit, was really a struggle going on inside many of us as we tried to avoid being swallowed by a soul crushing system – the American Dream. Looking at what happened to most of the ‘boomer’ generation, I’d say it was a struggle that very few avoided losing rather badly.

The line – “I want him to know the special thing that he is or else he won't notice it when it starts to go.” – reminded me of the following lines from William Wordsworth's, “Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood”:

“Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
Shades of the prison-house begin to close upon the growing Boy”

I managed to avoid the ‘prison-house’ by vigorously eschewing home-ownership, finding a way of picking up two different master’s degrees along the way, never staying at one job in the US for more than two or three years, and most important, living and working overseas as much as possible. You could call it ‘the simple life’, but it’s been anything but simple. In fact, it’s really been quite an adventure so far.

I’m not patting myself on the back for this; I had advantages many people didn’t have, and even far fewer young people have today. I guess I also had a number of lucky events as well.

Today, Americans still seem to be chasing a life of money and things, at a time when the money and things won’t be there for most of them. How many will have the insight to try and make a virtue out of what will certainly be a necessity?

David Rosen

10:39 PM  
Anonymous Edward said...

Dovidel states: “I managed to avoid the ‘prison-house’ by vigorously eschewing home-ownership, finding a way of picking up two different master’s degrees along the way, never staying at one job in the US for more than two or three years, and most important, living and working overseas as much as possible.”

I think it is wise for young people to get BS, MS, and PhD or MD and then relocate to other nations where they can apply these high degrees. With these degrees, they will get a good job in most nations of the world outside USA.

Dr B, what do you think about this? I ask because I advised a young person to pursue MS and PhD and then run from USA afterwards. I do not really know if this was a bad advice.

11:42 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Outside my area of expertise, really, tho I'm guessing it depends on the country. American degrees carry a lot of weight in some nations, and not much in others. I also suspect it varies from field to field, professionally speaking.


12:37 AM  
Anonymous Sami said...

CIA Admits It Was Behind Iran's Coup
The agency finally owns up to its role in the 1953 operation.

Sixty years ago this Monday, on August 19, 1953, modern Iranian history took a critical turn when a U.S.- and British-backed coup overthrew the country's prime minister, Mohammed Mossadegh. The event's reverberations have haunted its orchestrators over the years, contributing to the anti-Americanism that accompanied the Shah's ouster in early 1979, and even influencing the Iranians who seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran later that year.

But it has taken almost six decades for the U.S. intelligence community to acknowledge openly that it was behind the controversial overthrow. Published here today -- and on the website of the National Security Archive, which obtained the document through the Freedom of Information Act -- is a brief excerpt from The Battle for Iran, an internal report prepared in the mid-1970s by an in-house CIA historian.

The document was first released in 1981, but with most of it excised, including all of Section III, entitled "Covert Action" -- the part that describes the coup itself. Most of that section remains under wraps, but this new version does formally make public, for the first time that we know of, the fact of the agency's participation: "[T]he military coup that overthrew Mosadeq and his National Front cabinet was carried out under CIA direction as an act of U.S. foreign policy," the history reads. The risk of leaving Iran "open to Soviet aggression," it adds, "compelled the United States ... in planning and executing TPAJAX."

TPAJAX was the CIA's codename for the overthrow plot, which relied on local collaborators at every stage. It consisted of several steps: using propaganda to undermine Mossadegh politically, inducing the Shah to cooperate, bribing members of parliament, organizing the security forces, and ginning up public demonstrations. The initial attempt actually failed, but after a mad scramble the coup forces pulled themselves together and came through on their second try, on August 19.

page 1,0

page 2 (with documents),1

1:04 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Actually, I wrote the story up in DAA, but without this later documentation. But it's been known for a long time now. (I used secondary sources.) The bit abt 'open to Soviet aggression' is baloney.


8:28 AM  
Anonymous JWO said...

Whew, I'm away from the computer for a few days and find a lot to read up here!

Here is a link to a story about techno-buffoonery and how relying on google isn't all it's cracked up to be:

David, Ed, et al.: I really think that a key to surviving in the US (or where ever) as a NMI is to unplug. I find that spending my weekends with nothing techno but a radio really helps.

9:46 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Dr. B,

I was wondering if you've written anywhere about the parallels between our current era, where language is being widely abused and ordinary terms such as "terrorist" and "spy" are being abused to criminalize dissent, and the era during the Roman empire. Was language as debased during the waning of the Roman empire as it is today, or is this peculiar to our own era?

11:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr. Hackenbush,

Orlov does not describe the mechanism by which the $ will lose reserve status. Nor does he try to describe the particular way in which the U.S. will collapse. In general, he approaches it from the standpoint of Peak Oil and Peak Resources, colliding with a system that depends on infinite growth. Basically, we currently use Treasuries and other sovereign bonds as the "stores of value" and reserve assets of our banks. However, bonds are promises to pay in the future, which depend on future production, which can only go down now that we have peaked in oil. (Barring a miracle in new technology that won't itself depend on sufficient available oil production to roll out before oil becomes too costly to obtain.)

Orlov refers his readers to the wealth of other works out there on the subject of peak oil and its consequences for the economy, takes collapse as already "baked in the cake" and proceeds to investigate and discuss the conseqeuneces and probable manifestations. IMO, at this, he is unparalleled.

On his blog, as opposed to the two books of his I referred to, he does go into some discussion of the $ issue. He notes for example that China has been busy making barter arrangements for oil and resources in Africa, locking up future production and bypassing the $'s use in international trade. James Rickards, author of Currency Wars, has similarly argued that the U.S. sanctions on Iran are one of the most self-destructive acts we could undertake, hastening the end of the $'s use in international trade, because it is driving countries in the Mideast to make their own direct barter arrangements with Russia and China. There is also a lot of activity by the BRIC nations to establish independent trade mechanisms bypassing the $, and indications that nations will use gold to settle trade imbalances.

Foreign countries are buying less and less of our Treasuries. The very fact of QE proves that we can no longer rely on foreigners to buy our debt. The Fed is now the major buyer of Treasuries, so we are monetizing our own debt. A recent report on ZeroHedge indicates that foreigners are currently engaged in a large scale sell-off of their Treasuries. China is using them to purchase companies in the West, including the acquisition of a large natural gas company. Support for the $ is gone, we are in the unwind phase, and it is going to collapse entirely.

IMO it is a fallacy that the U.S. military can perpetually sustain the use of the $, thorugh sheer force of arms. If you really want to get into how and why the $'s use as the reserve currency will end, IMO the best discussion of this topic is on the FOFOA blog. Be warned though it takes a major commitment, because you will have to read a lot of material, and will cover a lot of ground, including monetary history from post WW1 and monetary theory.

One of the things you will learn there, however, is that the Euro was specifically designed to survive hyperinflation of the U.S. dollar so that it could be used in international trade when the $ collapses. It does this because it uses gold as a reserve, so that as the dollar hyperinflates, gold more than keeps pace and the Euro central bank balance sheets' net worth also gaps up and they remain solvent with a functioning stable currency and no hyperinflation of the Euro, maintaining price stability as measured in Euros. (Gold is the first line on the Euro CBs' balance sheets, and it is marked to market every quarter.)

The U.S. can of course always print to infinity, and can monetize its own debt to infinity, and so can never technically go insolvent, but only at the price of making our currency worthless and destroying the value of Treasuries as collateral and as reserves in the banking system.

This is too big a topic for a comment or even a single essay but I hope I have given you some leads to investigate.

11:31 AM  
Anonymous Golf Pro said...

Re: Glenn Greenwald's partner.

I guess the UK is now playing East Germany to the USA's Soviet Union.

12:04 PM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...

Edward: As a practical matter this person you advised can pursue an education overseas while receiving U.S. financial aid/loans. As a practical matter he/she may have more fun and it may well be a far lower cost than in U.S.. Two of my children did this and my niece is doing this currently--Uni Buenos Aires a fraction of cost of University of Phoenix or some such crap.

Will add that most of world is not as agog over credentials as in the U.S. The thing is not about "getting a degree" its about obtaining understanding and insight and some skills.

As primitive as the U.S. has become the "degree" has become a totem of some sort. Probably being a waiter in Milan will be more enriching intellectually than most american universities these days.

MB: That terrible tale of the boy you noted is illustrative of human nature and well existence of pure undilluted evil. As no doubt many are tired of my saying, the ongoing darkenss of america will not just provide us more evidence of it being ladden with morons but we will see violence, tragedy and pain and violence visited upon the weak and the innocent. Its ugly now and will get uglier.

12:07 PM  
Anonymous in.fern.all said...

James, Ellen,

re: David Graeber's letter to Chris Hedges

There's an excellent comment response to that letter on that lays out wonderfully, in prose poem style, the chief problem with black block as a tactic--namely it's too vulnerable to infiltration and lack of accountability. And the whole mask thing is a turn-off to the people you're trying to win and influence, to borrow from Dale Carnegie. (I know, ugh!)Why mask yourself? Is it any less ineffectual than sitting down and linking arms in passive resistance, your face revealed for all the world to see?

On a totally unrelated topic, who was it here that said you could post without entering the address numbers presented in the confirmation window? I tried it once and it didn't work. Is there some particular way to go about it?

12:12 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Sir T-

If u cd compress a bit in future, I'd appreciate it. We try to limit posts to 1/2 page, if possible. Thanks.


Late Roman Empire got increasingly stupid, but only evidence we have re: language is poor spelling and grammar, not any Orwellian manipulation. But who knows?


12:22 PM  
Anonymous shep said...

in.fern.all -

I am having no problem not entering the numbers - it is quite enjoyable too - just the word.

Sometime tho I have to hit the "another word please - circle arrow" button to make sure I type in the correct leters

12:43 PM  
Anonymous James Newlin said...

I don't think protests will do any good anyway, most Americans are too checked out to care. I think civil rights and environmental movements were complete failures; we're more segregated than ever, and we've trashed the planet a lot more since the 1960s. There were minor victories, but overall it was a huge failure, capitalism won and we're going into the decline.

Peaceful protests seem better to me than violent ones, but when you're met with guns and tear gas and rounded up quickly, seems like militant tactics might be necessary sometimes. I think people are more turned off by riot police than they are black bloc.

I support resistance to capitalism, if I'm going to criticize anyone, it's the police, military, politicians, and corporations. They love it when we fight each other. But we did allow these people to come to power, if we really did want to change, we would have made it happen by now. We are stupid and easily bought off.

3:30 PM  
Anonymous Brian said...

Hi WAFers--

Move over, Latreasa--,0,4320826.story



5:37 PM  
Anonymous Jesse said...

James Newlin, you stated “Peaceful protests seem better to me than violent ones, but when you're met with guns and tear gas and rounded up quickly, seems like militant tactics might be necessary sometimes.”

I read the exchange between Chris Hedges and David Graeber. I think both men are both right and both wrong. In today’s setup, violent confrontation alone will never work because the government has more deadly guns. But non-violent means will never work also because the police will be unleashed with deadly force as you said. In my opinion, the innocent masses have to use new ways and means. I say use sabotage. Hack the power grid. Recruit and unleash 2,000 Edward Snowden’s and 2,000 Unabomber’s. Poison the food of politicians. Use some guerrilla warfare on the wives, children, brothers, sisters, and parents of some members of the police force in your city. In other words, use fear and violence wisely and make life unbearable for the thugs as they make life unbearable for the rest of the members of the society. Meanwhile, enjoy the show:

Damon Holbrook, 3-Year-Old Michigan Boy, Dies After Shooting Himself In The Head
A tragic accident occurred in a small Michigan town Sunday when a 3-year-old boy died after shooting himself in the head.

According to the Associated Press, the child, identified as Damon Holbrook, picked up a loaded gun belonging to a man staying in his home in Dundee near the Ohio border. The man, reportedly a friend of the boy's father, had allegedly left the gun on the floor of a bedroom closet after returning home from work.

5:46 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I'm still backing Lorenzo Riggins for pres in 2016. He's my hero, bar none. A cutting-edge intellect: the face of contemporary America. Check him out!


5:55 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Advertisements for Myself Dept. (sorry):

7:53 PM  
Anonymous LW said...

I can't help but think, "So what? What are you going to do about it? Nothing!" whenever a new story comes out informing us that the U.S. government or one of its creepy allies has (once again) completely disregarded privacy rights, human rights, climate science, etc...

Most recently the Brits detained Greenwald's partner as an intimidation tactic and also took encrypted files from the Guardian UK HQ and destroyed them. Also, a leaked report indicates that sea levels will rise by as much as 6 feet by 2100.

I see the sensational headlines on sites like HuffPo and Drudge and just shake my head. As if anyone will do shit about it? Enough with the dramatics, exclamation points and red font (EMERGENCY!!! EMERGENCY!!!) There is no emergency because no one gives a shit and nothing ever changes anymore. All we have are bullshit "discussions" and meaningless "debates." What? The world is going under? Hmmm, let's debate whether we should do shit about it. What? The government is gathering all your personal info online and everywhere else without probable cause, reasonable suspicion or a warrant? Interesting, we should have a discussion about that....blah, blah, blah. And in other news, TWINKIES are back!!!!!!

The only things Americans care about is keeping THEIR head above water (if they can even do that) and no amount of sensational, trendy, online "slacktivism" will change that or anything else about our current state of affairs. I mean for fucks sake, even Occupy Wall Street went home because it got cold!!!! The only thing that will change anything at this point is the complete collapse of our way of life and a fresh start from the ashes of our crap-corporate-mafia-capitalist hell hole.

Just venting. Had to do it. Slave on.

7:59 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


But the shit u are yelling abt *is* the collapse. Whenever I read something about an intelligent American, or something gd happening here (both extremely rare), I get a bit nervous, because that cd slow the collapse down. How awful it wd have been, if OWS had been organized, knew what they were doing, and had a mission statement with the kind of cutting edge insight that was in the Port Huron Statment of 1962. Yes, we are immersed in poop, but that very poop is our salvation. Hey, there's a new post-it 4u all!


8:14 PM  
Anonymous Dr. Hackenbush said...

Sir Tagio- Fair enough, though I wonder if one can quite gloss over the transitional details as Orlov does. And whether it happens in the short, medium or long term might hinge on a better sense of how that transition works.

One thing you wrote - " we are monetizing our own debt" - seems to run counter to a view of money I've come to through the MMT school. They would say (if I'm not butchering it too badly) that the US gov issuing "debt" is a policy option, not a necessity. That is, it's an institutional arrangement, an accounting term, a historical artifact, not reflective of the underlying reality.

By issuing debt, however, (rather than simply issuing money debt-free) they serve at least two valuable purposes- subsidizing wealthy lenders, and creating a haze of confusion around the system in the minds of the public, which constantly screams "Oh nooooos! Debt!" Not understanding that personal private debt is fundamentally different from the sort of "debt" a sovereign currency issuer has.

Harumph. Well that's my little soapbox for the night.. I highly recommend people try to grasp this MMT biz, it really can revolutionize your understanding of "the system," I think closer to the reality. (see

JWO- I wrote a blog post some time ago on the same idea as that Salon writer has, although mine is written in an eccentric style that's probably off-putting to many, *and* I don't have Salon's readership, so I guess I understand that you didn't give me credit... :-)

8:53 PM  
Anonymous Susanne said...

@Edward et al,

See occupations that are desired in other countries:

9:06 PM  
Anonymous DiogenesTheElder said...

Received SSIG and promptly read it cover to cover. I was reminded of another book I am reading by James Hollis called Hauntings. It is psychological (he is a Jungian) but asks many of the same questions.

I was struck by one of the strands in the text which had to do with societies that cultivate authenticity. That question has been with me for some time, and I have attempted to live my life according to Kant's categorical imperative as a way to answer it. In other words, it has become most important to cultivate authenticity and genuineness in myself as best I can with the thought that if everyone did that, the world would be better off. This is no small task in the US today as the culture all around devalues such pursuits (in fact crushes them). To live authentically is radical and even subversive. So sad that we have reached such a point as a society.

I can't recommend Hollis enough; one might think of Hollis as Berman from a depth psychology perspective.


9:40 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...


I agree with Dr. Berman that it’s very difficult to predict the value of American degrees in other countries; they’ll vary by country and by professional field. Moreover, these credentials have become exorbitantly expensive in the US, even as their real value declines. So, I was going to suggest that your advisee get his/her degrees overseas, but Capo beat me too it.

I agree 100%, and Capo’s experience seems more relevant for a young person. My life was not the result of some plan. I just kept taking the road less traveled by, letting way lead on to way – and that has made all the difference. (Thank you, Robert Frost; there’s a reason that poem is so popular.)

I suggest presenting your young advisee with a copy of “The New Global Student: Skip the SAT, Save Thousands on Tuition, and Get a Truly International Education” by Maya Frost. (Available cheap.)

No need to wait until college to study overseas, especially since American high school is such a huge wasteland. The time to go is before you stick your foot in a trap and are saddled with the ‘American Dream’ – family, house, career, debts – as Zorba said, “The full catastrophe!”

I hope your young American is exceptional, since hardly one in a thousand Americans seems open to the idea of studying in another country. And how many parents in the US wouldn’t be horrified?

In other lands parents who can afford it often send their kids to English-French-German-etc. language schools so they’ll learn another language well. Here learning another language is an odious burden, and a contaminating un-American one at that.

In what language, other than American English, is the word ‘foreign’ so pejorative?

Oh well, what the hell, it’s their loss!

David Rosen

11:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cool to hear you say Americans are pretty much all children. I've been saying I'm surrounded by oversized children for years, but unfortunately have not met anyone that understood what I was talking about.

I also like your discussion of the value of sadness. I'm fond of saying depression is the best thing that every happened to me. For me it is proof that I'm not a robot. The problem of our societal self-destruction is, as you say, ontological. One can't convince others through reason that mainstream American society is terrible; one comes to this realization after pain and contemplation (something robots are incapable of).

12:41 AM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...


"In what language, other than American English, is the word ‘foreign’ so pejorative?"

Well, the Greeks had that "Bar, bar, bar" barbarian word.

Carry on...

12:51 AM  
Anonymous ellen said...

Dr Hack,

Re: your interesting click-bait content,'pay per click' advertisers are the paying customers of Google's tightly guarded and constantly changed and tweaked algorithm, not simple billboard informational sites like yours. The game is rigged, excluding the majority of simple sites (to maintain control and market share) and the entire SEO industry has grown up to chase and try to beat the rigged game, as you have seen. ;)

Rumour has it that Bradley Manning will receive his sentence today:

And then there's this snippet:

3:53 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

Here is a clip that shows that a common Chimpanzee is wiser than an American. They get angry and fight back when screwed.

8:09 AM  
Blogger Jack Lattemann said...

News from the American heartland:

Yes, I think the term "barbarian" covers this.

9:46 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

First let me enthusiastically second DTE's recommendation of James Hollis. I've been reading & learning from his books for a decade now, and agree that WAFers will find much to like in them. One of his key points, made again & again, is that we spend too much time pursuing happiness -- which in fact makes us miserable -- instead of meaning. Sound familiar?


Thanks so much for the link to David Masciotra's blog. I spent some time there, and was especially struck by this article:

Yes, what did happen to romance & joy -- not only in music, but in life itself? He's pointing to something quite significant about our culture, which is stuck in an adolescent mindset that glorifies violence, contempt & disconnection, but is clearly terrified of genuine feeling & the vulnerability it requires. All our so-called positive thinking is gloss & kitsch, designed to remove rather than engage other human beings. The last thing such people want to be is "real" in any true sense of the word.

Another story about the destruction of the American educational system:

As always, the comments are illuminating (and sometimes sickening but revealing).

9:48 AM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...

Tim Lukeman,

The piece from Salon is as one would expect.

What is missing is that since 1960 school funding per student in Philadelphia has adjusting for inflation quadrupled and performance has on good years remained flat and in most cases declined. Student behavior has worsened and parental engagement has declined. Staffing has increased with an army of social workers and aides and of course affirmaive action in the ranks of the teachers along with unions has not helped the plight of the students. In the Salon piece lies the central piece of the progressive/american liberal fallacy--with lots more money and the right programs we can change people--the glorious state in the hands of smart and capable people will solve all! What you don;t and won't here is parents demanding more homework, strict norms of behavior, more demanding classes, and standards. You will not see teachers following the university model where math and science majors are paid more than history and english teachers to attract people away from higher paying jobs. Instead graduates of teachers colleges with no background teach (or pretend to teach) math and science. MB and I with math degrees and PhD's are not eligible to teach in Philadelphia schools for example.

The problems are not economic per se--they are political, cultural and social. I and another volunteer for example used to do underground teaching in an ultra othodox communities in New York, Philly and B-more. These kids were 15 and up and had never been in a real classroom (they had only studied Torah and Religion) In 6 weeks we covered the entire elementary to high school math curriculum from arithmitic to intro calculus. Exactly 100% took the GED and scored 99% on average on math test and then 75% passed AP algebra and calculus. Cost of this? About $50 per student for kosher lunch and a room rented from a shul ranging from free to $200.00. American mainstream culture is the problem not "funding" . Most of these kids were from poor families, many were children and or grandchildren of holocaust survivors and suffered the affronts of racism (actual beatings and taunts) so they had plenty of reasons (per the liberal or progressive lament for people not being producitve) to check out--but its culture!!

On a related note--its a fact provockative of myrth but a fact nonetheless that in Mexico 18% of adults have a college degree. In the U.S. 11% of hispanics have a college degree. Odd that?

11:50 AM  
Anonymous JWO said...

It is interesting to compare the Philadelphia School issue Tim and Capo are talking about with something like this:

Coming from a family of teachers, I've seen both the good and the bad of the system. But Capo is right, if you come from a home with no books and not enough to eat and you're moving from apartment to apartment every few years it doesn't matter if you go to Phila Public Schools or friggin Boston Latin, you are not going to succeed easily.

1:32 PM  
Anonymous MLW said...

Hi Dr. Berman,

Ever since I read "Why America Failed" I now am bombarded everyday with signs that you are right. One example: the "Fox Nation" twitter feed, for people who "believe in the American Dream" is just celebrity cleavage. Before reading your book this would have shocked me.

1:36 PM  
Blogger Boris the Spider said...

Thanks, DTE and Tim Lukeman,

I didn't realize Hollis' new book was out. I saw him speak last year, and you're both right, he's quite good and pertinent to the existential strain problems that we live amidst.

2:44 PM  
Anonymous Sean K. said...

I'm currently in the process of reuniting with my biological family and it's a lengthy process of meeting lots of people and learning names -- not to mention trying not to make an ass out of myself (something I've failed at numerous times already).

Anyway, during a meeting with my uncle, we somehow got into politics and he mentioned that there are too many people living off of the productive class -- typical Republican thinking, although I don't disagree in principle. I noted that part of the reason this is so, is because they would start demanding changes to the system if they weren't getting subsidized into passivity. The subject was quickly changed.

The more I think about it though, the more it seems that this is true not just with the poor with food stamps or disability, but also with the rich and middle class. The rich are kept passive through rising stock prices. The middle class is kept passive with rising or at least steady housing prices. These opiates are kept working by the government through various mechanisms. Would the middle class who are so conscientious be willing to “do the right thing” and reform the county if it meant losing half their assets? Probably not.

It seems that everyone has an investment in maintaining the status quo except for those who truly have nothing -- basically no one because even the ultra poor have subsidies they would lose without the government. The result is that everything keeps getting worse, the end result of a society which can’t understand communal thinking or responsibility to each other.

4:29 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


From what I understand, the lower classes aren't getting much of anything anymore. The real figure for poverty, as opposed to the official one, is something like 1/3 of the country. As for the middle class: does it still exist?


5:03 PM  
Anonymous Edward said...

It is AK47, the favorite toy that should be given to all boys in America:

A gunman entered the school and talked to a clerk. The man, who was dressed in black and had an AK-47, surrendered peacefully after being confronted by police officers, Channel 2 Action News reported.

5:06 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


See, that's the thing: if the guy had had a drone, no surrender wd have been necessary. AK-47's are the dark ages (america).


5:59 PM  
Anonymous Dr. Hackenbush said...

Sean K.- "too many people living off of the productive class"
True, the rich people are getting all sorts of services and crap, and doing nothing (truly) productive in return. Most of their "wealth generation" is a dis-utility for the rest of us.

Capo- "more homework, strict norms of behavior, more demanding classes, and standards"
Really, that's your prescription? Sounds awful... I agree with some of your criticisms, but I don't think you can just bombard people with knowledge and expect them to become professors. Somehow you have to help them (or stand out of their way and let them) discover the "joy of learning" - sounds sappy but there it is. Let them follow their nose to some extent.

The kind of knowledge you get from sheer will-power --- i.e, people who approach learning instrumentally, to get ahead, make money, be successful (not learning out of genuine interest)--- is a machine-man model. Empty. And many people disengage from it anyway, probably the brighter people. I got plenty of "force-feeding" in school, and the only value I think was "being exposed" to the stuff; little of it inspired me, it was mostly a helter-skelter of disconnected, senseless info; more a training in being disciplined enough to do shit for shit's sake. (simplifying a bit for the sake of brevity.)

Diogenes- please expand on your attempts to live authentically- what that might look like specifically, what you think it might look like for others, for society as a whole- sounds interesting.

8:06 PM  
Anonymous Jesse said...

This is for Sean K and his uncle: There were article written in 2008 that showed the ceo's of Ford and General Motors making millions in salary in 2008 when their firms were losing money in the same year. In fact, the same articles showed that in the same 2008 Toyota sold more cars inside USA than all the American automobile companies combined, and yet the ceo of Toyota made significantly less in salary that year than the ceos of Ford ad General Motors. Someone can dig for the articles. I am not sure of the year this thing happened; I think it was either 2008 or 2009 or 2010.

Now, shift forward to 2013 (remember that they report performance for previous year). Akio Toyoda, the ceo of Toyota, made 1.9 million in salary in 2012. He did a good job as a ceo because Toyota sold more cars and made more profits thereby leading to highest ROI for Toyota when compared to other automakers. Alan Mulally, the ceo of Ford, made $21 million in salary in the same 2012:
"While the company generated the highest return last year among the world's five biggest automakers by sales, President Akio Toyoda, 57, is the lowest-paid chief of the group, earning less than one tenth as much as his best-compensated counterpart"

Toyota president delivers highest returns for lowest pay

Toyota President Delivers Highest Returns for Lowest Pay: Cars

Sean K, I have a good suggestion for you: avoid this kind of discussion with your republican uncle because he does not know what he is talking about. If he thinks he does, then tell him to come here to debate me, one-on-one. I will prove to him that he is a traitor to America. Those people are heartless traitors and they are doing a good job destroying this country.

11:07 PM  
Blogger MJ said...

U.S. Air Force can’t find enough people willing to be drone pilots

Michael Grunwald, senior Time correspondent, tweeted: "I can’t wait to write a defense of the drone strike that takes out Julian Assange." He later deleted the tweet.

11:41 PM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...

Dr. Hack,

Those were not my recommendations but rather if you read my post--these were things parents of Philadelphia schools would not demand or protest for or encourage. Again, I and others have taken students in very disadvantaged circumstances and were able to teach them and have them reach amazing goals. Sadly, there is no easy way to lean most real subjects and principles--a bit of work and mental discipline go a long way in learning and everything else--what no app for that?

My solutions? I have none. Just that a sizeable portion of the "students" in the U.S. along with their parents and their offspring are not educable in any real sense--abstract thinking, discipline , hard work, parental encouragement. I would add that this can be done in less time than is now done in the holding pens called schools. The Finns and the scandinavians don;t start kids in school til age 7 or so and it ends at age 15. My Hasidic charges had ajoy of learning but also of focus and hard work. Anyone who has worked in China or even Russia will tell you the same. Culturally U.S.A are slovenly dolts who want to always be entertained and have the joy of work and learning but alas that is not the entirety of life Dr. H.

As for the philly kids not having enough to eat, the pub schools feed em b fast and lunch. Willng to get the caloric value exceeds that consumed by a village of Chinese.

12:05 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


What an awful human being Grunwald is. But it may say something abt the journalists in the mainstream media, I dunno...they don't keep their jobs by criticizing the US. Grunwald probably fancies himself a patriot. We may be getting to the pt that you cannot simultaneously be a patriot of the US and a patriot of humanity.


12:08 AM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Sean K:

A la lanterne à vous.

If you look into Raymond
Williams "Keywords," you'll find that "the productive classes" and the "industrious classes," in other words, the people who make things, were identified when the "idle classes" or what's today called "the 1%" were called "the idle classes."

12:22 AM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Sorry for the second post in 24 hours (maybe you could combine the two?), but " We may be getting to the pt that you cannot simultaneously be a patriot of the US and a patriot of humanity" doesn't sound as if the author of WAF could have written it.

That ship sailed sometime around August, 1945.

Being a "patriot" of any artificial nationalistic construct such as "the USA" or "The People's Republic of Blogovistan" works contrary to humanity.

12:30 AM  
Anonymous ellen said...

Something that it cheered me to read yesterday, though it may well just be posturing:

From the 'Oh no, not the Spanish Inquisition' dept:

And some GCHQ Inquisition and the modern version of bookburning in the Guardian's basement:

Strange days, indeed. The following isn't Ben E King but has a charm of its own, anyway:

3:56 AM  
Blogger Zosima said...

I sympathize with the sentiment that America is not declining fast enough. The daily postings only depress me more, because they don’t include any new double digit slaughters. Nothing since Sandy Hook. I thought Americans were a nation of achievers, when is someone going to break that Korean student’s Va Tech record?

Capo Regime said...ultra orthodox kids took the GED and scored 99% on average on math test and then 75% passed AP algebra and calculus.

There’s the answer right there to all the world’s problems; everyone should convert to ultra orthodox Judaism. I’m ready, I can already feel myself getting smarter as I type. I’ve often wondered what would have happened if Judaism had been a proselytizing religion.

Capo Regime said...On a related note--it’s a fact provocative of mirth but a fact nonetheless that in Mexico 18% of adults have a college degree. In the U.S. 11% of Hispanics have a college degree. Odd that?

Yeah but Latinos are the fastest growing part of the prison population, so at least they get to experience that part of the American Dream.

“I like to be in America
Okay by me in America
Everything free in America
Life can be bright in America
If you can fight in America”

4:20 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Precisely why everyone needs their very own drone. "I feel pretty..."


Post only once a day, thanks. You cd be rt, altho the issue of the bomb remains a much-debated topic. But I do suspect there's a difference between patriotism (pride in country) and chauvinism (which is never desirable).


4:51 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

This is what's left when an empire had its Suez Moment long ago:

On the other hand, here's what happens in empires about to have their Suez Moment:

Word has it that Lorenzo and Latreasa Goodman will be running for pres/VP on the McDonalds Independent Party ticket in 2016. Perhaps that inevitable victory will finally be our Suez Moment.


5:13 AM  
Anonymous marc said...

@Zosima: “There’s the answer right there to all the world’s problems; everyone should convert to ultra orthodox Judaism. I’m ready, I can already feel myself getting smarter as I type. I’ve often wondered what would have happened if Judaism had been a proselytizing religion. Yeah but Latinos are the fastest growing part of the prison population, so at least they get to experience that part of the American Dream.”

The word 'truth' is like the word 'terrorism'. Those with more publicly-funded guns reserve the right to define who is a terrorist. They say that truth is relative, that one man’s truth is another man's fiction. Some say that in the current America, the truth is on the side of those who have pillaged the wealth of the nation for themselves alone.

Sometimes I fight some thoughts such as, Bloomberg of New York probably scored 100% in all his exams but what did he produce for America, what did he leave behind for the billions under his name when Bill Gates gave the world Windows for his wealth? Why is it that for every Bill Gates out here, there are 2 million Bloombergs in the Wall Street, in America, in the world? What is success, primitive accumulation of money or developing the society that gave you the opportunity to be alive? The same God that created the good men of this world also created the Hitlers of this world and why? Who will be blamed for the decline and fall of America, those poor, working people who did not have enough to eat or those who scored 100% in their Ivy League classes but took down the American healthcare system with their useless knowledge, greedy bent? Tell me, am I losing my mind for thinking these thoughts?

7:40 AM  
Anonymous Josie Green said...

Hello everybody and Dr. Berman.

So many interesting and strange things discussed.

Mr. or Ms. Zosisma. I don't think the point made by Mr. Capo was about Orthodox Judaism. Its about how educational results can be achieved outside the standard approach to education on a shoestring provided you have motivated and capable students. I have been a teacher for 37 years and have seen all kinds of fads. I am also a Jewish woman and I think your statements are hurtful and mean. I teach a lot of Salvadoran kids and it made me realize what a useless term "latino" is. Its clumping together Argentine lawyers, Mexico city intellectuals who chat with Dr. Berman and Mayans from the Highlands of Honduras in one bunch. Many years ago we had a lot of kids from Puerto Rico in our schools in Maryland and they are as different from the Salvadorans as Canadians from Chileans. I also teach in a community center and I find we have results with adults from India which are mind boggling. For me and my fellow teachers its very hard to be between incompetent administrators and these poor central American children. Their parents often do not speak Spanish well but Nuahtal or other indigenous languages and are illiterate. I have seen my school enrollment change from midel class Jewish and Ethnic Catholics with centuries long traditions of literature, reading and writing to children of illiterate people and its hard to admit that my efforts may make a difference to getting their great great grandchildren a break. At best we keep them a bit safe, well fed and comfortable and teach them some rudiments to get by in a hard society. Sometimes we cant do that. I guess this is what my perspective is on a failing America. I imagine in other parts of society people all see failure in different ways. Its very sad. Its sad to me that some of you smart people are mean and sarcastic to other people here. This week I begin my 38th and last year as a teacher. We are moving to Canada to be near my daughter in May. We can't wait!

9:46 AM  
Blogger MJ said...

"We may be getting to the pt that you cannot simultaneously be a patriot of the US and a patriot of humanity."

That all turns on how we define "patriot," and so is not necessarily true. Edward Snowden, for example, is a patriot of America in the sense that he has faith in the American ideal of a constitutionally limited government and in the American people. But he is not a patriot of the US government.

As I see it, patriotism is not necessarily a bad thing. When it's directed towards allegiance to worthwhile national values (such as privacy against unreasonable government intrusion), patriotism can be a good thing. Unfortunately, however, most Americans today who call themselves patriots are instead people who blindly support whatever the US government does: "my country, right or wrong." That kind of jingoistic patriotism is indeed a threat to humanity.

10:10 AM  
Blogger Horatio Nelson said...

here's one for you Wafers:

10:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

RE: the discussion of education in public schools. As an explanation of why it has all gone so badly, Wafers might be interested in the analysis and critique made by Ivan Illich, in "Deschooling Society."

Writing in 1970, Illich predicted, based on a structural analysis of what "education" was, that (i) school budgets would get bigger and bigger, with perpetual claims to need more and more money, (ii) schools would deliver worse and worse results, and (iii) some part of the student body would eventually be treated regularly with drugs to make them more cooperative.

His critique of the education system was not that it was an indoctrination system preparing minds to believe in certain national myths or fill minds with certain erroneous content or that it failed to teach people to think, but that the very structure of the system acculturated people into passivity, into a belief that the things they wanted or needed were services to be provided to them by service industries.

Education was something to be delivered by an education system to recipients, whose job it was to absorb it. From there it is a quick, reflexive hop to thinking that "health" is something to be delivered by a medical system, and so on. Generalizing, a good, healthy society is something to be delivered by the political system. In other words, the education system creates the template for the consumer society.

Illich argued that the education system would fail because it removed personal motivation and responsibility. The more you pushed a "recipient" mindset in education, the worse results you would obtain, which would be met with claims that the service industry that was to deliver the results needed ever greater resources.

10:34 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


As I said, that's chauvinism--not the same thing.


10:39 AM  
Anonymous Jesse said...

Read and watch the video and cry as I did. If only we ALL start showing some love and sympathy instead of talking tough and arming ourselves as if war/death is inevitable (notice that medication is also involved as in all other recent shootings):

Hill's brother, Timothy, told ABC News the suspect has "long history of medical disorders" including bipolar disorder, and was bound to "do something stupid."

Timothy Hill, 22, said he's not close to his brother and thinks he last saw him in January 2011. Hill,who said his brother once threatened to kill him, also said his Michael Hill was taking drugs for treating attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder as early as age 6.

"I had a feeling he was going to eventually, one day, do something stupid, but not of this magnitude," he told ABC News.

A woman in the office called WSB-TV to say the gunman asked her to contact the Atlanta station and police. WSB said during the call, shots were heard in the background. Assignment editor Lacey Lecroy said she spoke with the woman who said she was alone with the man and his gun was visible.

“It didn’t take long to know that this woman was serious,” Lecroy said. “Shots were one of the last things I heard. I was so worried for her.”

School clerk Antoinette Tuff in an interview on ABC’s “World News with Diane Sawyer” said she worked to convince the gunman to put down his weapons and ammunition.

“He told me he was sorry for what he was doing. He was willing to die,” Tuff told ABC.

She told him her life story, about how her marriage fell apart after 33 years and the “roller coaster” of opening her own business.

“I told him, ‘OK, we all have situations in our lives,” she said. “It was going to be OK. If I could recover, he could, too.”

Then Tuff said she asked the suspect to put his weapons down, empty his pockets and backpack on the floor.

“I told the police he was giving himself up. I just talked him through it,” she said.


11:22 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...


Oh, I agree that the culture (or lack thereof) is at the root of the education problem, no argument there. But it's interesting to note how money for even the basic supplies of education is denied, while there's always plenty for the new sports stadium or yet another new prison -- the latter clearly being THE great American growth industry for the coming decades.

Good article by Henry Giroux on schools as dead zones of imagination:

The story about the Australian student shot dead by three teens who were "bored" made me feel physically sick. Although I'm glad I can still feel that way. Here's a perfect example of what the current culture has spawned. I'll bet the bored teens have no notion of what or where Australia is, much less what human life is, including their own.

Our culture despises knowledge (other than the utilitarian & technical), art, genuine feeling, empathy, thought itself. I've seen parents discourage their children's interests in music or literature, urging them instead to focus on science & math. All that matters is the certification for the good job. Of course that won't be there for the vast majority of their children anyway. Why don't they just put all college students in Thunderdome & those who survive get the handful of jobs? It'll probably come to that in due course.

For me, it's those "useless" interests such as art, music, literature, etc., that have enabled me (college dropout) to hold onto my soul.

11:52 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

Great (Athens, Alabama) Rock Band with Brittany Howard on SNL. So musically talented! My main envy!

Contemporary, vicious, outrageous Racism:


1:35 PM  
Anonymous sanctuary! said...

Tim Lukerman said:

"Our culture despises knowledge (other than the utilitarian & technical) [...] All that matters [to US parents] is the certification for the good job. Of course that won't be there for the vast majority of their children anyway. Why don't they just put all college students in Thunderdome & those who survive get the handful of jobs? It'll probably come to that in due course."

Tim, the sentence abt Thunderdome shd be on wall posters. Love it, love this blog.

2:07 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Hack, Capo, Tim L, et al --

I went to public schools in NYC or on US military bases overseas, and the content was 99% propaganda and mindless busywork. Today, it’s playing with techno-dreck and calling it ‘computer literacy.’

In that context, “more homework, strict norms of behavior, etc.” would seem awful to me too. The result of all this, however, is that now many, many kids come to school with no concept of what it means even to be a decent human being. Most of them are the neurologically damaged products of a youth-adolescent techno-culture which is driven by advertising and marketing.

Capo’s yeshiva bokers came from a culture that values learning as an end in itself, and years of Talmud study was terrific ‘mental exercise’ which enabled them to read and analyze a text. If that’s all they got: ‘dayeinu’-‘nos bastería’-‘that would be enough.’ They had the values and ‘mental horsepower’ to do whatever else they wanted.

I’ve seen a similar intellectual ethic among Chinese students, and I hear it’s prevalent in Russia too.

I said this before but I’ll say it again. If you are a teacher visiting your students’ homes, and take a ten-cent tour of the house without seeing any books, your teaching job is going to be an uphill fight if not outright hopeless.

I also recommended an article by a retired philosophy professor, John Kozy on this subject. Check it out here:

And there is no prescription! Schools simply cannot fix the rotten culture they’re built on.

Jeremiah (2:5) must have been thinking of American consumer culture as his God asked: “What wrong did your parents find in me that they went after worthless things, and became worthless themselves.”

David Rosen

2:15 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and Wafers,

Horatio Nelson-

Regarding bullet proof school supplies, the best defense against an armed school shooter is a "Kids in America" burger or one of Lorenzo's six McDoubles.


No worries. We Wafers engage in a Wafer Rumpus (WR) from time to time... We all still wuv each other, tho. I can only speak for myself, of course, but a pastrami sandwich and a cream soda settles me right down.


Looking forward to a Lor/Lat run in 2016. I may even volunteer to walk some precincts for the McDIP.


Remember back in 2011, Obama asked Iran to return one of our drones that had crash landed there? I recall Iran saying something like, no one returns a symbol of aggression, or something like that.



2:20 PM  
Anonymous Edward said...

Naked Breastfeeding Yoga Mom Says That Photo Was Not Staged

More relaxing natural environments (lots of pics)

7:05 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

Holy s--t, shep, those kids can play! Thanks for this Alabama Shakes vid. Now there’s a real song - pace, drive, pickin, vocals, and a great Like A Rolling Stone style organ to bring us all closer to Jesus. I guess we should feel fortunate, our music may be better than what they had on the Titanic. This is like a final flicker of light as we go under.

2:39 AM  
Blogger Zosima said...

Forgive the second post, I feel I need to respond since this was directed at me.

Josie Green said...I think your statements are hurtful and mean. I teach a lot of Salvadoran kids and it made me realize what a useless term "latino" is.

Josie, then your argument is not with me, I was just reporting what I heard that day on the radio. Latinos are the fastest growing populations in the US prison system according to NPR's Maria Hinojosa host of "Latino USA."

Also, I was semi-serious about the world converting to Judaism precisely because of what Dovidel said, they have a culture that values learning as an end in itself, and I thought that would be a good thing for the world. I’m not Jewish, so I don’t know if what I said was some kind of sacrilege or insult. If it was, then, I’m sorry, because that was not my intention.

5:16 AM  
Anonymous ellen said...

35 years in the brig for Bradley. Here's a reminder of what he revealed to us:

David Miranda is going to the High Court over his Schedule 7 detention, (we still have some honest and awkward judges in place but going to law is always a gamble)

There was an absurd snippet on the UK TV news yesterday. Massoud Shadjareh, who sits on the Schedule 7 'Accountability Board' (supposedly for oversight but clearly a toothless political sop to the masses) relates how he is regularly stopped under Schedule 7 and questioned about how often he prays, who he votes for and his opinions on the Arab Spring.
(Its the 'Cameron under pressure over Guardian...' segment, starts at 2:43, avoiding the smug Hague like the plague)

I found this piece very Waferish too:

6:38 AM  
Anonymous marc said...

Also, I was semi-serious about the world converting to Judaism precisely because of what Dovidel said, they have a culture that values learning as an end in itself, and I thought that would be a good thing for the world. I’m not Jewish, so I don’t know if what I said was some kind of sacrilege or insult. If it was, then, I’m sorry, because that was not my intention.

Everyone here agrees that the US is on decline. We may disagree on the details and sources of the core reasons for the decline. There are some undeniable facts that should not be considered “sacrilege or insult”:

1) Latinos did not run up the trillion dollars in debts owed by USA
2) Latinos did not bring down AIG and they did not create trading on derivatives
3) Alan Greenspan, Robert Rubin, and Larry Summers (presented here ) are not Latinos and they got the best education and learning that their culture and America have to offer
4) Latinos and Mexico had nothing to do with the decision to invade Iraq so as to pillage and steal the country’s crude oil
5) Latinos have nothing to do with the slaughter currently going on in Syria and Egypt.

These are uncontestable facts that WAFERS and reasonable people should not be afraid to confront. If America goes down tomorrow, reasonable people will trace the root causes, and I state here without fear that Mexico and Mexicans will not be among the primary causes.

9:04 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

I had a real good experience yesterday. Our dishwasher stopped so we began the old hand washing trick. Got a cheap Walmart drain board (shuda made one - got plenty of wood).

Damn if it wasn't fun to stand there like I was back in the good old days. Got to look calmly out the window at our goats. Didn't get in a hurry. Only thing distracting was the pull on my poor little lower back - but it was worth the serenity. and the down time. SWEET!

Zosima -

Glad you liked the Shakes. Naturally, I found even better performances that were at festivals instead of on collapse correct T-V. I can't get over how good they are. Here are the lyrics.

Wish we cud somehow reproduce cartoons on Dark Ages. Saw one today of MLK talking to Obama. MLK says: "So, that's my dream. What's your dream? Obama responds: "To not piss off rich people - that's really about it." Obama's jack-ass expression seals it.

ALSO: This from an article on the Black Agenda Report . com: "The Black “leaders” that invited the commander-in-chief of the racist global capitalist order to the Washington Mall, later this month, are committing a desecration. “It brings a clear message, even though it is not acknowledged on a conscious level, that the highest aspiration and possible achievement for an African American is to be able to serve white power – to be a servant.”

9:28 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Check out a poem called "Gift," by Czeslaw Milosz.


9:42 AM  
Anonymous Jesse said...

Dr B, two questions:

1) Most of us here would not qualify for admission into the universities Obama attended. What are the names of those universities? Did he LEARN how to think for himself from those universities?

2) The poem seems beautiful. I have no clue how to interpret it. What is the meaning? Anyone?

A day so happy.
Fog lifted early. I worked in the garden.
Hummingbirds were stopping over the honeysuckle flowers.
There was nothing on earth I wanted to possess.
I knew no one worth my envying him.
Whatever evil I had suffered, I forgot.
To think that once I was the same man did not embarrass me.
In my body I felt no pain.
When straightening up, I saw blue sea and sails.

Thanks in advance!

10:18 AM  
Anonymous Sami said...

I am a card-carrying member of the Tea Party.

“We want our country back” from Obama , from the Chinese, from Mexicans, and others.

“We love the pre-civil war era when the South was strong” (Steve Wilkins, “Call of Duty”).

10:31 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

People Whose Shoes Need Urine Dept.:


1. Try Google, yes? He learned 0, except how to move in elite circles.

2. No interpretation needed. It just is what it is. As someone once said, "Reality has no ideology." Just enjoy it.

Altho if u wanted to make things interesting, you cd download the Polish original ("Dar") and start learning a new language. Dzień dobry!


10:49 AM  
Anonymous Smith said...

I think the masses are becoming aware of people like us, actually. People like us, who question the "way things are", or actually have compassion for people who suffer.

But that's not a good thing, because now they're trying to actively discredit us, rather than simply ignoring us.

Take a look at this editorial from David Wong, at Cracked, specifically aimed at people who don't like "the way things are":

To summarize, according to David Wong, if you don't like the way the world is, you're a cynical "20-something" who's either too lazy to work within this system, or a television addict, or just plain ignorant.

After all, the world is actually a wonderful place, and shame on you for not being able to see it!

Just thought everyone here might like to see a good example of why we're not taken seriously, and why genuine tolerance of others' views cannot gain any ground because certain views are "typecast" before they're heard.

Folks like Wong are part of the problem. But he insists on characterizing "complaining people" (like Berman) as part of the problem.

11:42 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Well, gd luck w/all that. Here's what I found online at Wikipedia abt Steve Wilkins:

"In his pamphlet Southern Slavery, As It Was (ISBN 1-885767-17-X) (co-authored with fellow Christian minister Douglas Wilson), Wilkins argued for a revisionist view that the status of slaves had not been as bad as is currently taught in American schools. He stated for example that: "slavery produced in the South a genuine affection between the races that we believe we can say has never existed in any nation before the War or since." Historians such as Peter H. Wood, Clayborne Carson, and Bancroft Prize winner Ira Berlin have condemned the pamphlet's arguments, with Wood calling them as spurious as holocaust denial.[3] The book was also criticized for its plagiarism in "at least 22 passages.""

Whew! Scary guy!

All the best,

12:03 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I'm so ineffectual in terms of changing anything in the US that I doubt I can be characterized as part of any serious problem. Jesus, if I'm a problem, then the country is in worse trouble than even *I* thought. However, in terms of folks like David Wong, Wafers shd be aware that the buffoon-to-Wafer ratio is something on the order of 100,000:1. Indeed, it may even be 1 million:1. So have no doubt, if there's going to be any sort of battle, we will lose big time.


12:26 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Hiya Wafers:

Wilkins' comments remind me of Archie Bunker's "carefree days of slavery."


Your description of that cartoon piqued my curiosity, so I used, er, Google, to find it.

12:32 PM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...


Thanks for putting up that Steve Wilkins nonsense.

When the South was strong? Really? I guess the Tea Partiers (or most americans) have never heard of General Bernardo de Galvez. He was the Spanish Governor in New Orleans in 1778-82. My guess is all the strong southerners were on vacation 1779 as De Galvez took freed blacks, native americans and a large contingent of Mexican Cavalry and routed the British everywhere along the gulf coast culminating in siege of Pensacola and driving the English out of the gulf and west of appalaichans. Even then Mexicans doing jobs americans could not do. So no Mexicans no U.S. of A. On a even more stark basis Mexico City was the center of economic activity and civilization in the Americas for over 300 years. In fact--Coins minted at the casa de moneda in Mexico city were the defacto currency of the U.S. until 1855--that's where the term dollar comes from. A strong south? The only thing worse than the race hustlers and the ignorant tea party twits.

12:38 PM  
Anonymous sanctuary! said...

Zosima's point plainly was that whomever the US govt classifies as latino, it is the US that is corrupting or criminalizing them, not the other way around.

12:59 PM  
Anonymous Edward said...

Sometimes I feel like: this must be unreal! How can someone spend days and nights in the house with you and you feel nothing about the presence of another human being? What of the security guards – are their heads up their a’sshole?

Jennifer Lopez had an unexpected and uninvited guest stay in her Hamptons home.

John Dubis, a 49-year-old former fireman, allegedly settled into the guest house of J.Lo’s $10 million Water Mill home in early August for six days without being noticed by Lopez's security guards, reports the New York Post. Dubis slept on a couch and parked his car out front in plain sight of her security, according to sources.

According to the Post, a Lopez employee finally spotted him and confronted him on Aug. 8. The accused stalker tried to claim he was the divorced singer’s husband and he told the police that he was the father of J.Lo's children, so she had been allowing him to stay in the pool house. He was taken in for psychiatric evaluation.

1:39 PM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

An article WAFers will appreciate:

The comments are especially good. More people do feel this free-floating stress, constriction, fear, all eating away at our sanity like a fine but ceaseless mist of acid. Too many succumb to it & lash out at designated enemies, rather than changing their own lives, e.g., Sami. The tragic irony is that he hopes to be saved by the very forces that are devouring his life daily.

Let me recommend the animated film The Book of Kells, as it's not only a work of visual beauty, which is nourishing in itself, but the perfect symbolic representation of the NMI life.

2:22 PM  

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