October 11, 2013


Dear Wafers--and Waferettes:

I figured it was time to start another thread. Problem is, my mind is as empty as that of Bush Jr. Maybe I should go out to Crawford, start cutting brush. Or imitate Reagan: drool, smile absently, read slogans off of 3 x 5 cards. As for the 2016 election, I'm thinking we might cut off the rear end of a horse, put it on a platter, and then stick it on a table in the Oval Office. Well, I guess we've actually done that, more than once, in a manner of speaking.

Anyway, here's a new post-it for y'all to contemplate:



Blogger Dan Henry said...

Well, after another blow up with my father and uncle, both Irish immigrants, its turns out that preemptive murder is ok because, "its kill or be killed out there"

CRE, its contagious...

The utter revulsion and the simultaneous pity I feel for my father in this moment are tearing me apart. I dont think our species is capable of better than this as a whole, we are fucked.

9:28 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


They're now Americans, after all.


10:47 PM  
Anonymous ellen said...

This is interesting, a global round-up from major print papers on the NSA/GCHQ surveillance debate:


MP's and Lords have also called the UK's Schedule 7 (David Miranda airport detention) powers unlawful:


I've been thinking a lot about fascism (as opposed to thinking about Nazis)lately. Its usually defined as an unholy alliance between government and big business. Here is Greg Palast on Greece, Golden Dawn, the IMF and Stiglitz's startling statement on austerity riots:

--Did the IMF really write the riots into the plans?

Yes, Stiglitz said, matter-of-factly. "We had a name for it: 'The IMF Riot.' "

Palast asks who are the real fascists in this scenario:


So yeah, I guess its all over except for the rioting.

4:35 AM  
Blogger plbodden said...

dear morris: this repeated claim of yours that your mind is empty and that, therefore, you have nothing to say is getting old. 1. you have abundantly illustrated that it's not possible for you to enter an empty-headed state. 2. on the off chance that you've actually achieved such a state, how did you accomplish this? anyway: I'm here to help and I have to tell you there are lots of things to talk about -- like who makes better phones; apple or samsung? and what is the exact meaning of miley cyrus getting naked in public? just because these matters engender the sort of intellectual wrangling that absorbs most americans' expenditure of neurons is no reason to distance ourselves from these topics. we wouldn't want to come off as an elitist lot who has failed to grasp our society's most important contemporary issues. so, please, provide some focus; so, that we're not rattling on randomly.
bonjour d'amboise, cher ami!. ps: have you or will you ever give a lecture in france?

4:46 AM  
Anonymous Edward said...


I feel your pains!

The only thing I can tell you is to be careful; be wise; and above all, be reserved. Both people who were originally born here and people who immigrated to here after they became an adult have some unique issues. I have those two types of people in my life. Most of the people who were born go with the flow; they become like any other American in terms in being lost in the woods.

The people who immigrated to here can be difficult to handle sometimes, especially when they believe and act as if America is the best country ever. Sometimes it is difficult to get through some people who were not originally born here. From my personal experience, the best thing is to back off from trying to hold discussion with them on sensitive topics like politics, gay marriage, abortion, Obama, healthcare, etc. Engaging in a serious discussion in any of these topics with some immigrants is a sure way of looking for bitterness, hatred, and breakup. The best strategy is to avoid such discussions. You can say something and then leave it at that without getting into extended, heated discussion. I discovered that once they make up their mind about these topics, there is no more changing their mind even if evidence is there to prove their opinion incorrect. The best thing is to be careful and wise when dealing with them. Avoid, avoid, and avoid, so that you may still have a father and sisters and brothers. Sometimes pretend that you are ignorant of these issues. Think in advance about how you will respond to them in case they bring us such topics - this will help you to be reserved and to be respectful of their ignorance.

Remember: your father is still your father no matter what. Nobody has two fathers.

8:34 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

pill bottom mon cher-

I confess, I read yr message over several times, and I cdn't understand it. I also don't know what amboise is. I do speak French, so if you can arrange a lecture for me at the Sorbone, preferably the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, I wd be very grateful; but given my condition it wd be kind of a senile lecture, un peu vide. Che cosa faccia, eh? Oops, that's not French; sorry!


9:37 AM  
Blogger Sarasvati said...


Well, the inimitable Jed McKenna wrote “....People don’t like to have their version of reality fucked with.” I was reminded of this a few days ago when a family member sent me a diatribe (his “opinion”) accusing me of things too numerous to mention (all of them projection), because I don’t revere God, County and Apple Pie, to say nothing about American Exceptionalism. I just pasted Jed’s comment on my bathroom mirror, which is now so plastered over that I can no longer see myself…probably a good thing.

12:26 PM  
Anonymous Jesse said...

Would you participate in a study like this? Does it mean that these scientists got no more serious health problems to deal with?

"In addition, 46 of the men agreed to have their penises measured by a urologist in both flaccid and erect states."


1:24 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...


No, at this point he's just another douchebag. Revulsion and pity destroy any chance of respect for a person. Last night was merely the cherry on the cake. My fathers actually not technically an American either. Over 30 years here now, still on the resident alien card. He'd make a good case study for the power of American media. I've grown up with him railing against American society while time and TV have slowly worn him down to another amorphous American blob. And the difference between his views and my mothers and her siblings, first Gen Americans of Irish immigrant parents, used to be pronounced. Not so in the last few years. The rampant fear running through their generation as their bodies break down and their retirements look ever more at risk is toxic and vicious. He's still not completely subsumed, but he's too habituated to the daily slog to break out now. Last Christmas he tried to give 5 dollars to a beggar on the road side. The beggar was on the passenger side, my mother in the seat. She refused to roll down the window or even take the cash. And this is a woman who helped put 4 children through private, Catholic elementary and high schools...but being born here she's been further gone for a long time, I've never really seen much humanity break through her. She's taken the nuclear family role of the mother who'll kill other children for her own to heart just as this society intends. She took a second job working in the Chicago public school system kitchens, her first job is as a nanny for a wealthy old woman on the north shore(over $10,000/month spent on round the clock caretakers for this woman who has multiple sons still living nearby and one with her). At night shed come home and rage about the workers in the kitchens, disparaging them their welfare checks. Mitteney could do no better. But she's a fierce Democrat!!! But my father still can't reconcile his charitable tendencies with the vitriol stuck in his head. Last year he let out that mexicans are "vicious", and last night that blacks on the south side are "animals" incapable of living on the north side("civilized society"). I expressly pushed him on his charity after that bullshit, his response was that its "no skin off his back". And it just finally struck me then that I can't save him. He cannot wrap his head around the incongruity and this society intends to make sure he never does. He's a great example of the type of reasoning "liberal" commenters use to defend some of their evangelical friends who'd "give you the shirt off their back"(saw this just yesterday on NC). So set the nukes to self destruct, cause the real "animals" are right at home.

2:07 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Dan, Edward--

Arabs have told me that we have three fathers: what we would call your biological father (although with a bigger social role in their society), your father in Heaven (secularists find substitutes), and your teacher.

You can lecture to people, but in the end the best way to teach is by example. Trying to convince somebody by argument is usually futile, especially when the subject is an emotionally charged one. Your father will probably mellow over time – we all do – and will eventually decide that you’re not so bad after all.

Not all immigrants have been ‘converted’ by America. Many have come here and gone back – we’ve heard from some on this blog. Others lived out their lives regretting their ‘huge mistake’, quickly learning that they’d better keep quiet about it. Some can’t admit to themselves that they have made a mistake – hence the emotional overreaction.

Of course there are those who may have come from such miserable conditions or dysfunctional families that their lives here are actually better. Huge numbers of people in the world have trouble feeding their children well enough to keep them alive. I wear clothing made by slaves as I type on a keyboard made by other slaves!

I may have told this story before (I’ve reached that age.) but an Irish bartender (Chambers St. in Manhattan – block or two from City Hall in the late 60’s) had a picture of an old Irish castle on an otherwise drab wall. My girlfriend asked about it and I said, “That’s Ireland. It’s a lovely land, Ireland is.” The bartender added in his delicious accent, “It’s a lovelier land than this – in every respect but one.”

As the US declines, immigrants from many lands are finding that even that ‘one respect’ is fading fast!

David Rosen

3:57 PM  
Anonymous Paul Emmons said...

>I'm thinking we might cut off the rear end of a horse, put it on a platter, and then stick it on a table in the Oval Office.

It couldn't be any worse than the huge crab on Sarah's coffee table in the Alaska governor's mansion. The thought of how she would redecorate the White House should be enough to make anyone vote Democratic.

7:21 PM  
Anonymous Mikbeth said...


Greetings from a furloughed Federal employee! I have a lot of time on my hands these days but I've gotten deep into Season 1 of In Treatment. I'm stunned this show ever made it for three seasons as each show forces me to reevaluate and contemplate my life sometimes going into very uncomfortable places.

I watch the "negotiations" over the federal budget impasse with mixed feelings. I'm desperately in need of a paycheck -- I have two autistic children to provide for. However, I realize any "deal" is likely to result in a horrible outcome. I read the political back and forth that seems to predict that somehow the Republicans will pay for this and I can't stop laughing. It's not going to happen! Even if it does, it's hardly as if people will all of a sudden come to their senses and vote for someone who has a Keynesian outlook on the situation.

I remember telling everyone when the sequestration was proposed. I told anyone who would listen that it would indeed happen and that we should all embrace it because it was the best we could get. What do we hear now? Sequestration doesn't go far enough!

It's a sad day when I have to rely on Peter King of NY to state the obvious -- Senator Cruz is nuts.

Sorry for the rambling post. Feel free not to post. I just wanted to say thanks for bringing In Treatment to my attention. I greatly appreciate it and this blog which helps me realize I'm not losing my mind.

8:02 PM  
Anonymous AS said...

Anecdote from a "civilization" class I'm taking:

After an hour-long lecture on the French Revolution, the professor randomly calls on a student and asks: "Who were some of the losers of the revolution?"

There was roughly 6 seconds of silence until the girl - who was undoubtedly pondering her next tweet - responded with: "The French?"

8:47 PM  
Anonymous kyle said...

I was just at Walmart and was asked how I would be paying. When I told her I would be paying debit, the cashier said, "that's good because we don't take food stamps anymore starting today". If not even Walmart will accept food stamps then I guess the poor can just turn into cannibals? Maybe they can get by from a little garden in front of their apartments. I guess Walmart expects those on food stamps in the U.S. to eat by trading all the drugs/guns they have piled up.

9:03 PM  
Anonymous Ken Smith said...


I am also confused about "bonjour d'amboise". Might be an obscure reference to the French royal court as a retreat from the economic and cultural collapse in other parts of Europe. Amboise is a small town northwest of Paris and is famous for the royal residence of King François. More importantly, it is also where Leonardo da Vinci is buried.

Leonardo was having trouble with the power elite in Rome and the king invited him to move to Amboise where he could live and work. He packed his notebooks, drawings and many paintings, including the Mona Lisa, which explains why that work is in France instead of Italy. He spent the last three years of his life in Amboise.

Six years ago, I was on my way to Amboise to visit Leonardo's grave. Ma petite amie said she was hungry and insisted we stop for lunch and a bottle of wine. Then another bottle. Then it was too late that day and we overslept the next day and had to return to Paris.

Leonardo has been in the same spot for 400 years. I will try again to visit some time in the next 400 years.

12:20 AM  
Anonymous Megan said...

Well, here's a random thought for anyone who cares to comment. I love the concept of the New Monastic Individual (NMI), and to some extent that's a good description of my life. All the same, I often wonder if I'm not still far too involved with what's going on in this increasingly decadent world of ours. As I was telling my sister the other day, my real goal is to get to the point where I'm so out of touch with things that I won't even know who the next president is! (Predictably, the mere idea of this was horrifying to her.)

What I'm saying is this. On the one hand, it's a lot of fun to watch a civilization collapse. On the other hand, the existential price that one pays for having a front row seat, is a mind constantly churning and cluttered with stuff like "Kim Kardashian", "Miley Cyrus", Obama, American Idol, and all the rest of it. Indeed, even the most superficial contact with American life makes this virtually unavoidable. You can't even watch a serious video on Youtube anymore, without suffering through a thirty second, deafening ad for "Fast and Furious"!

So, in a sense, aren't we just unnecessarily torturing, and perhaps even fooling ourselves? Wouldn't a truly radical NMI - as opposed to a half-baked, "NMI wannabe" - not even get on the Internet, read newspapers, let alone watch TV? People like my sister will get very upset, no doubt, but it just seems to me that the price that we pay for watching this catastrophe unfold is a bit too high.

Even similarly inclined people will often respond to this by telling me, "everything is OK in moderation", and we simply need to be disciplined about what we see, read, take in, etc. etc. But I wonder if that isn't ultimately just a cop-out? In other words, pseudo-NMI-ism?

1:49 AM  
Anonymous Bruce Bennett said...

Morris -
If you do go to Crawford and try to imitate Bush the Lesser please do NOT go bike riding. After all, he routinely fell off whatever he was riding like his bike (despite the fact that he once said "I'm a mountain bike guy" and that Segway that he once tried. The man is an across the board fuckup and it would be dangerous to try to do what he does in that place. We don't want you injured exploring the idiot world of Wubya.
I know that there are some historians who claim that James Buchanan was the worst American president but my vote is still for GW Bush. That amazing combination of prideful stupidity, pathetic swagger, profound corruption/ dishonesty and recklessness is what gets my vote. I can still hardly believe that he was allowed to act out his fantasy of being "the Commander Guy" twice. Ugh!

3:11 AM  
Anonymous the muted two said...

Why no mention of US peak oil production in 1970 and global peak oil production in 2005? Maybe this is the most important issue now? It'll be back to walking and growing our own food whether we want to or not. Talk about Americans flying/driving for travel (as you suggest) is not a good recommendation for reasons of limited resources and environmental problems.

5:03 AM  
Anonymous JWO said...

Good one by Chris:


9:20 AM  
Anonymous David G. said...

Dr. Berman,

I have been hoping you would offer some thoughts on the US government shutdown. I am a federal employee and have been unable to go to work for two weeks now. I am unsure whether to think of this as a temporary aberration or as a sign of more trouble to come. My hope is that this crisis will discredit the Tea Party and the Republicans in general so that the wild swing to the right comes back to the center. But I fear that this might just be the tip of the iceberg in terms of political dysfunction. I know there is plenty of dysfunction in our system, but the existence of an extreme group with enough numbers to cause serious trouble is pretty scary.

The decline of the US is inevitable, it is just a question of whether it will be a slow downward slide over many decades (like Rome) or whether it will quickly crash and burn.

Meanwhile, life goes on here in the relatively peaceful Pacific Northwest. Just trying to make the best of it all and encourage my two graduate student sons to emigrate.

Anyway, help me to put this government shutdown into perspective. I don't like being pessimistic or slipping into despair, but I also would like to have a realistic understanding of what these current troubles might portend for the coming years.

Best wishes,
David G.

11:06 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I don't have a crystal ball, but I can promise u this: this can only get worse. Hope yr kids get out.


I wasn't aware I was recommending that Americans fly or drive, but u can be sure they are going to do it anyway. Pls post only once every 24 hrs, thanks. Re: hating Americans: you come late to the party, muchacho; we've had this discussion out already, more than once, and I can't get into it once again. Obviously, if u don't wish to hate them, then u shdn't do it.


Well, there are different ways of being an NMI; see the examples I give in the Twilight bk. I like watching the destruction and writing it up, myself. Here's an example: have u seen the HBO show "Veep", with Julia Louis-Dreyfus? Extremely funny on one level, but terrifying on another. I lived in DC for 8 yrs, and recognize the culture portrayed in the show: everything is about lying, deceit, competition, and putting the other person down. It reminded me of how I always had some physical ailment, when I lived there. And it's America writ larger, with Americans swimming in the waters of such disgusting behavior and not even recognizing it. The Veep herself is full of shit: dishonest, cowardly, and all about career. If you wanna see our fellow-citizens in action, and barf while laughing, this is the show 4u.


Genuinely sorry to hear abt yr situation. The problem is that this is what it looks like when an empire collapses--exactly like this--and the chances of improvement are not great, tho sometimes it does happen in the short term. It's breathtaking, how self-destructive it all is, really.


11:58 AM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

Megan wrote:

"...it's a lot of fun to watch a civilization collapse. On the other hand, the existential price that one pays for having a front row seat, is a mind constantly churning and cluttered..."

Are you channeling George Carlin? He said that when you're born into this world, you're given a ticket to the freak show, and if you're born in America, you get a front row seat. See George revel in the descent in the clip that follows:


And David G. expressed the hope that the government shutdown would discredit the Tea Party and Republicans in general, and produce a shift of those on the right back toward the center.

If the views I am hearing about the shutdown are even moderately representative, then a fair proportion of Americans see no harmful effects in their lives of a shutdown. For every "fallen warrior" family that missed, however briefly, the promised death benefit owed them, for every family with a child whose life could be prolonged by the results of research underway at the National Institutes of Health, I hear more individuals expressing the wish that the government stay shut down.

Though, interestingly, I have not heard recently from Grover Norquist, who is the author of the catchphrase stating that he would like to see the government reduced to a size that would permit us to drown it in a bathtub.

12:21 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Salut gaufrettes:

Bonjour l'angoisse means something like "hello, misery," if that helps.

This also ought to help:

"Microsoft is updating its Windows software for cellphones to accommodate larger devices and make it easier for motorists to reduce distractions while driving."


Yes; anything to encourage fone use while driving. The attendant rise in accident rates will hasten the Rapture.

Mind you, my bike commute might take me on the road to Gloryland if this keeps up.

12:26 PM  
Anonymous Ariel Ballesteros said...

It's hard to hear that the ones we ussually listen to have their minds at a still. Equivalent to a general being wounded at battlefield. On the other hand, it is okay too. Maybe that gives us a chance to listen to our own inner voice. That includes you too, professor Berman. Interesting to read all the comments posted here as well. They go from inmigrants, legal or illegal, to the moderation thing from the oracle at Delphi, to Chris Hedges, to Ophra, to the iphones, to Ted Cruz (let's say Cross)....the chatter of life. I live on the fringes of the Sonoran desert, on the sea of Cortez. I will take my hat and go on in a walk for good part of the day. See nobody, listen to nobody. Like man must have been six thousand years ago. I will look for a portion of that monastic state you talk about. Maybe you should do the same. Maybe we should let the goverment shut down in the hopes of "opening" a new one.

12:43 PM  
Blogger GregJS said...

Don't get your hopes up - it's not quite everything that a Wafer might hope for, and it doesn't really say anything new, but it's something. CNN has the following headline up on their homepage: America's Problem: We're Too Dumb

Of course, the story is surrounded by a bunch of dumb stuff.

Article is fairly short - maybe worth a glance if you want to see how the mainstream handles this sort of thing:

12:56 PM  
Anonymous shep said...

Tee Shirt:

"Make Marijuana Mandatory!" (Front)

"The World Is In Hospice!" (Rear)

1:16 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Good day Dr. Berman and Wafers,

A mean right hook!



2:04 PM  
Blogger Jake said...

I went to our local pub/watering hole on Friday- a place that does not have TV's on the wall, and which therefore does not attract the usual obnoxious "sports bar" goer.

My friend and I met and befriended a violinist for the Minnesota Orchestra - a world-class orchestra that has been "locked out" by the board of the orchestra for over a year. The conductor, Osmo Vänskä, just resigned. Musicians are leaving for other cities.

Anyway, this violinist is a father, and is anxious about his finances and future. He told us that the latest offer from the board was a contract that would give them a salary which goes down each year!

The board chairman is the vile and powerful Jon Campbell, who is the CEO of Wells Fargo, a bank notorious for its unprosecuted fraud and criminality.

It turns out, he's never even gone to a concert of the orchestra!

Morris, have you ever read the blog of David Brin? He's a science fiction author and "futurist." He claims that the USA is actually a font of civilization and peace, that the pax americana has been a great thing for humanity!

I think that people like Brin are such optimists, because they lack empathy, and cannot see beyond the bubble of technology and affluence they live in. They may read facts about the millions of people who have been killed directly and indirectly by American foreign policy and interventions, but they really see the sacrifice as worth it.

It was, to them.
What do you think of "thinkers" like Brin? They think people like us and Chomsky are just deluded nabobs of negativism. That we don't "get it." Whereas I feel that Brin doesn't get it.
How does one arrive at truth here?
Regardless, the system is going down into degradation and chaos, despite Brin's optimism that technology will save us.

3:39 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...


If you like Veep, check out In The Loop. Its a film that predates Veep. I think the creator actually had a series on the British airwaves that he adapted into In The Loop and then eventually into Veep. Peter Capaldi plays a hilarious lead in In The Loop at any rate, Scottish cursing to the max.

5:12 PM  
Anonymous Edward said...

Dan, your reply brought some tears to my eyes. Your mother is like someone I know in my own family – he thinks he has made it, so he thinks if someone is poor or homeless it must be that he or she is not working hard enough. I think the world is a useless place for all of us because some of us are simply wired not to learn and grow. I do not know what it is for certain, but I think it has something to do with material possessions. I think a lot of people in America today care more about their own personal comfort and happiness alone, and they are indifferent to the comfort and happiness of other people in America. They think as if some people do not fall through some hard luck or through some maladies imbedded in the capitalist market. They think everyone should be a millionaire only if they try hard enough in ripping other people off. This is the biggest problem upon which all other social, political, and economic problems in America depend. To care about our personal happiness is not irrational in the scheme of the market economy, but to disregard the welfare of other people as if we are individually an island is dangerous, and it is the foundation of the hustling philosophy - it is against human nature and against the idea of living a human society.

My personal self-interest and the general interest of the society should never be at war with each other. But in America of today, these things are in a fierce battle with each other, and I think the people with the belief that self-interest should take primacy over the general interest are wining this battle. They are winning so far, but at the end of the battle everyone in the society will lose including those who believe in serving their own narrow interest alone. When the entire society collapses, everyone loses. Imagine that the people who shut down the government are still drawing their salary and getting full healthcare for their kids while everyone else suffers. This is the mentality I am talking about – I got mine; too tough if you do not know how to get yours.

6:40 PM  
Anonymous Muska said...

Cheap, affordable, and accessible healthcare in China:

Zheng Yanliang, Chinese Farmer, Amputates Own Right Leg With Fruit Knife And Hacksaw


7:56 PM  
Anonymous Savantesimal said...


There is no need to worry about any loss of options for people on SNAP. It seems nearly impossible that Walmart would forgo the huge volume of business involved in public assistance. What is much more likely is that they have temporarily suspended the acceptance of the electronic benefit cards because of a recent snafu that resulted in some of their stores being cleared out. There was a major outage this past week, with 17 states losing their Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) services due to a problem at the Xerox processing center that administers these systems. Somehow, the EBT system in several Louisiana Walmarts failed in a way that removed all limits, gave the EBT cards infinite funds instead of none. So the card holders did what Americans always do, grabbed all they could possibly get for themselves, damn the consequences. Once the system has been overhauled to prevent future looting sprees, you can bet Walmart will be back in the EBT revenue stream.

Wal-Mart stores in Louisiana picked clean during EBT card outage

8:50 PM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...


Was that the bar that used to be in the basement of the Woolworth Building? I loved that place in the 1970's. It was called harrys I think, long gone.....

10:01 PM  
Anonymous joe hohos said...

Dr. B,

Thought you might like this. One step closer to having personal drones. At first, you might have to arm them yourselves but that's easy enough in America.

Dr. B, WAFers,

Some emigration questions. Do you have to have a degree to get out? Is the easiest way to get hired in another country first? From what I understand, the more 'desirable' you are the easier it is to go to another country. Is this true? My GF was walking around a little town the other day and heard many people talking about emigrating. Maybe people are wising up.

Has anyone seen Elysium? I had been excited about the possibilities, but once again, Hollywood ruined something which had potential. Lots of iffy gimmicks, weird decision processes by the 'leaders', etc. Very disappointed and not worth my time.

P.S. The caption right now to type in the box is CRE terd. Perfectly fitting for this blog.

10:38 PM  
Anonymous Bruce Bennett said...

Hmmm, I don't have TV anymore so I didn't know about "The Veep". Your comments about the characteristics of the the Veep made me think that, while Louis-Dreyfus is a fine actress, if she ever had to leave the show I know the perfect replacement - Sarah Palin. Let's see - "full of shit, dishonest, cowardly and all about career". Yup, I think we have a winner, Alex, because she wouldn't need any acting talent. Oh wait, I forgot. Palin would have to memorize lines and that might be too much for her.
Anyway, if this show ever comes out on DVD I will look into watching it. By the way, your comments about the appalling nature of careerism in what I call DeCeit are echoed in the recent book, "This Town". It pulls no punches and helps us to understand why we will get no assistance from our nation's capital. It is a profoundly corrupt place.

1:49 AM  
Anonymous Hans van Hoek said...

Hello everyone, what is your opinion on Xinhua, the official Chinese government news agency, saying that as American politicians continued to flounder over a deal to break the impasse, “it is perhaps a good time for the befuddled world to start considering building a de-Americanized world”.

Perhaps Washington's disfunction triggers a de-americanized world when a default is reached. Here in Holland America is still admired in many ways, dutch words are replaced by english words, american tv programs are copied, fast food everywhere.
Not too far from where I am a proposal for a fitness center with indoor pool was voted down and replaced by a drive through McDonalds, the first one in the region!

I just got back here after leaving the US and I, disappointingly so, see the changes from 30 years ago. Over here they call it globalization, I call it identity loss! It is time for a de-americanized world.........

3:22 AM  
Anonymous The Dude said...

David G said: "My hope is that this crisis will discredit the Tea Party and the Republicans in general so that the wild swing to the right comes back to the center."

NAFC. Not to be unkind, but have you been paying attention at all to the past 40 years of American history? This is the pattern--the right wing Republicans push the envelope to see just how much they can bully the country to the right, and the left eventually caves in, gives away much of the store and thus does the "center" continually move even farther to the right.

I'm so old and have been living in the DC area long enough that I still remember Gingrich's "Contract ON America" that swept the Rethugs into being the majority party in Congress in the 1994 midterms and directly led to the TWO government shutdowns of 1995/1996. And you know what? Many of the Republicans elected back in '94 would be derided as "liberals" by the current crowd.

As for being a federal employee--I don't know how long you have until you can retire and get out, but trust me things are just going to get worse until eventually the day comes when EVERYONE is fired and replaced by at will contractors. My guess is that will happen sometime during Hillary's first term.

4:37 AM  
Anonymous turnover said...

Another small bump on the road to ignominity -- Xinhua, China's official press agency, calls the US a failure. From their editorial:

Headline: U.S. fiscal failure warrants a de-Americanized world

"Moreover, instead of honoring its duties as a responsible leading power, a self-serving Washington has abused its superpower status and introduced even more chaos into the world by shifting financial risks overseas, instigating regional tensions amid territorial disputes, and fighting unwarranted wars under the cover of outright lies."

As the Chinese gain more power, they'll be relying on the US $ a lot less. That will make it harder for the US to borrow. After such a degenerate binge of low interest rate subsidies, it's going to be rough when interest rates rise.

5:51 AM  
Anonymous cell phones SF said...


San Francisco (CNN) -- If somebody pulled out a gun on a crowded train you were riding on, would you notice? These people didn't.

Why? They were too into their smartphones, a San Francisco prosecutor says.

7:58 AM  
Anonymous Megan said...

Dr. Berman,

Thanks for the response. I haven't seen "Veep", but I'll make sure to check it out on Netflix.

I love "Twilight" and would say that it's probably my favorite of your books. I suppose I've embraced something like the NMI ideal (not always by that name, of course!) since the time I read Hermann Hesse's "Steppenwolf" twenty years ago in college. Ever since, I've wrestled with the question of how to live in this society without getting corrupted by its values. Nietzsche says somewhere that we are undone not by having to say one big "no", but by having to say thousands of little "nos" throughout our daily lives. He says this in the context of rejecting deleterious influences in one's environment, entertainment, occupation, diet, etc. Well, that's the problem for those of us who are stuck here - you either sell your soul to false American values, or you constantly squander your spiritual resources defending against them. Or perhaps one can simply watch from the standpoint of a detached observer - though I'm losing my faith that that's even realistically possible.

I realize there's no easy answer to this. Obviously, I'm ambivalent myself, or I wouldn't have brought it up. But since emigration is not an option in my case, I feel that a more radical "turning my back on all of it", might be the only option left for me.

Anyhow, thanks again for your input. At the very least, I do think it's an important question.

10:03 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Ah Wafers, Wafers; I just leave my desk for a couple of days, and u inundate me with interesting messages. I did get the Chinese editorial in the mail from someone recently. Not that I trust the Chinese, any more than I trust Putin; but their characterizations of the US as dangerous to the world are quite correct. Will u tell me why I can't get the 'progressives' to listen to me? IT'S OVER, MUCHACHOS; I'VE BEEN SAYING THIS SINCE 2000. TIME TO EXTRACT HEADS FROM RUMPS, NO?


There *is* something u can do: Fly to DC, pee on Obama's shoes. You can't imagine how happy yr gonna feel afterwards. Make sure u get it on tape.


I don't have a TV either; I watched Season 1 of Veep on dvd.


11:31 AM  
Anonymous JWO said...


Are you a fellow Minnesota WAF-er? We should grab a beer sometime.

Regarding the orchestra, the icing on the cake is that they just completed a $50 million renovation of the concert hall! I know that the $ for the renovation and the $ to pay the musicians are from different pots, but what a joke! You can raise $50 mil for a building but want cuts from your musicians? This is what you get in non-profits from the same sort of corporatization that infects academia.

1:39 PM  
Anonymous J S RANK said...

Chris Hedges inching closer:
Originally in truthdig.

For more evidence of CRE, NBC News and Esquire have a new poll: "The New American Center: Why our nation isn't as divided as we think ".
It's portioned in eight demographics...two supposedly 'liberal', two 'conservative', and four 'in the middle'.
The poll findings are that 51% are "in the middle", yet check this out...from the article:
"The people of the center are patriotic and proud, with a strong majority (66%) saying that America is still the greatest country in the world....".

I took the poll ( unsurprisingly, I was way over on the left...a 'bleeding heart' HA ! Probably no real category for me ).
I really wanted to find out if the questions included any disclaimer or nullification questions....the Groucho Marx type to cull the dolts( Who's buried in Grant's tomb? ...What color is an orange? ...Is the earth flat? ).
No surprise again.

2:14 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Sounds like Chris has been rdg a fair amt of MB, or at least is ready to chuck it for distant shores. He is, after all, not one for limitless self-delusion. I look forward to lifting a few with him in Mexico City, and saying to him: "Doesn't it feel great to be out of all that?"


6:56 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...


I know you've said that American decline is gradual and ongoing right now rather than a single traumatic event that is to come in the future. But is it not possible that the US will experience some kind of major systematic crisis that will force it to reconfigure itself?

In this respect see this quote from today's Guardian:

"A leading ratings agency put the the US on notice of a downgrade on Tuesday amid political turmoil in Washington over how to resolve the budget crisis less than a day before the country's borrowing requirement expires.

Fitch warned that the political battle "risks undermining confidence in the role of the US dollar as the pre-eminent global reserve currency, by casting doubt over the full faith and credit of the US.""

It strikes me if the US dollar lost its pre-eminent role in the world economy, that would be a very good thing. It would mean less foreign interventions, less wars, and the compulsion for American politicians to re-examine military versus domestic spending.

8:14 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Dr. Berman,

You wrote: “Sounds like Chris has been rdg a fair amt of MB, or at least is ready to chuck it for distant shores. He is, after all, not one for limitless self-delusion. I look forward to lifting a few with him in Mexico City, and saying to him: ‘Doesn't it feel great to be out of all that?’”

I read Chris Hedges’ recent article, “The Folly of Empire”, and I just looked up your 2001 Guardian article, “Waiting for the Barbarians.” Chris has made a lot of wonderful observations about the US, Americans, and American society, but he’s taken a long time to reach the only proper conclusion: ‘Game Over!’ I think his Christian background and education have more in common with the American civil religion of progress than most people realize. Do you think that’s why it’s taken him so long to connect the dots?


The drab little bar itself was hardly worthy of mention. It was on the south side of Chambers St., perhaps half way between Broadway and Church Street. I don’t remember its name, but it was the bartender and his comment which stuck in my mind. They used to have happy-hour between six and seven PM as the Downtown area was clearing out. I’m not sure what I was even doing around there, but we probably got off the subway at the City Hall or Bklyn Bridge station and stopped in for a Cuba Libre before walking over to Chinatown.

The now 100 year-old Woolworth Building, however, is something to marvel at! Why they haven’t torn it down to build a McDonalds or Starbucks I can’t figure out.

David Rosen

9:01 PM  
Blogger Jake said...

I am, indeed, from the Lake Woebegone state. I'd be up for a beer. How do we arrange that? I live in the capital city. Poor Prof. Berman has to be our intermediary, I guess.

@Morris: you mentioned the difficulty you have in getting "progressives" to listen to you. Not surprising.

I actually find progressives to be some of the most closed-minded people I meet.

You make an interesting and great argument in WAF (as I recall it was that tome) that the Old South was an alternative to the North's hustling culture. That argument alone would cause most progressives to froth at the mouth. However, you are right in holding the south up as an alternative. But again, the sadly simplistic notions most progressives (and Americans in general) have just won't allow them to wrap their minds around it. For most Americans, issues are black and white.

However, anyone who is into literature realizes that the South had (has if you include people like Wendell berry) a tradition of valuing.... well, tradition versus commerce.

Progressives also have a religious faith in progress, both technological and moral, which is not born out by reality.

I think the cyclical view of history, with some caveats, is much more accurate. You seem to have some sympathy for that tragic but beautiful view of history. Progressives loathe the idea.

It is possible to be a humanist and also to reject progressivism. Many throughout history have done so. It seems to me this view is actually more humane, and allows one to accept real human societies and individuals as they are, instead of trying to transform them (whether through economic coercion or military force).

Progressives suck. American "conservatives" (really free-market Ayn Rand freaks) suck. American liberals. About the only American intellectual traditions I've ever found I can stand are the Transcendentalists - Thoreau, especially, and the Southern Agrarians. I think I really connected with you on that...

Have you heard of the author Ralph Borsodi? He wrote a wonderful book entitled This Ugly Civilization. This was in the 1920s! A book about how to escape, well... this ugly civilization. All Wafers should read it.

10:51 PM  
Anonymous sanctuary! said...

The only way a gunman or gungal cld get the attention of those American subway dolts is to throw one-hundred dollar bills at them, like the yippies' dumping bags of cash on the traders at the stock exchange. This brings to mind an amusing spectacle, seen too seldom today: American TV game shows featuring a "money booth." In the booth stood a contestant/victim. The host flipped a switch & fans began turning, a flap released paper money into the resultant winds within the booth, & the contestant danced like a maniac in grabbing all the money he could grab before the time ran out. Remember those? Some contestants, having filled their pockets, crammed dollar bills into their mouths in an awful parody of eating, their cheeks cracking & heads swelling.

12:29 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

Publius, JWO, and other MN Wafers:

If you haven't seen this, read it and weep:

As for Xinhua, I'd put a lot more stock in it if they weren't always asking for a de-Americanized world, shutdown or no. I guess I felt similarly about Putin's NYT Op-Ed--if he and I agree on any particular point, I doubt it's for the same reasons.

3:18 AM  
Anonymous ellen said...

A good article on imperial arrogance and General Giap who joined the ancestors recently aged 102:


'As one writer Jules Roy wrote about this epic battle at Dien Bien Phu, France believed in their blind service “to the most stupid imperialism in the world, which disguised its refusal to lose its dividends and markets as a crusade against communism.”'

'French generals were humiliated and despite the military defeat, the sense of white supremacy never allowed them to accept the idea of the independence of the people of Africa and Asia........ General Marcel Bigeard became an inspiration for US military officers and right up to his death in 2010 he kept up a healthy communication with general David Patraeus of the US military.'

'General Giap represented the vibrancy of a people who gained confidence from the knowledge that they were able to withstand the military might of the biggest military machine on earth. In the process, the Vietnamese pointed to the fact that political mobilization and heightened political consciousness can be a counterweight to imperial military and economic might.'

and this on an oddly similar Lost Cause addiction:


7:12 AM  
Anonymous Megan said...

James Allen,

No, I wasn't intentionally channeling George Carlin, but thanks for the link - he's hilarious!

Dr. Berman,

I'm probably a bit too much on the prim and proper side to pee in anyone's shoes. But I'm sure I'll take a vicarious pleasure if you get there first!

JS Rank,

Chris Hedges is one of the best cultural critics we have, and one of the best minds of our generation, period. But resignation is not in his nature. He has the "reformer" personality down to his bones. The same tendency that you see in people like Ralph Nader, Noam Chomsky, George Will, Gandhi, etc. He might get discouraged from time to time, but he'll always get back up and look for another worthy fight. And I say what the hell - if tilting at a few windmills is what motivates him to write his excellent books, then so much the better for us!

11:12 AM  
Anonymous Paul Emmons said...

Dr. Berman, particularly in view of _The Re-enchantment of the World_ and _Spinning Straw into Gold_, it seems to me that you may have a soul mate in Alain de Botton. An interview with him in last Sunday's radio program "On Being" was fascinating. http://www.onbeing.org/

He has plenty to say on the spiritual and ethical emptiness of modern secularity. He is an atheist who appreciates the depths of religious traditions. Therefore he draws fire from believers and unbelievers alike. This native Swiss lives in England and speaks in a British accent. How apt, I was thinking-- one is ever-more hard put to imagine an American nowadays articulating a position of nuance or mediation.

1:00 PM  
Blogger Cj said...

Interesting piece on the Huffington Post titled 'Why I Will Never, Ever, Go Back to the United States'.



5:57 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Just bring yr camcorder. As for Chris et al.: keep in mind that there are more choices available than fight or resign (which is a passive state).


You cd be rt. In his heart of hearts, Chris knows the US will be in a much worse place when he and I die than it is now.


The norm is gradual disintegration, but there is no doubt that this process is punctuated by 'nodes' of trauma (e.g., sack of Rome, A.D. 410). This will happen to us--2008 is certainly not the last financial crash we shall experience--as well. If history is any guide, there is no dying empire that 'reconfigured' itself and turned things around or even slowed its descent; usually, in the final phase, a civ accelerates its descent. As for US, I suspect 'resurrection' of the system will (as in case of Rome/Northern Europe) take place on other shores, on non-American soil. We don't have the intelligence, the will, or the historical experience to do something radically new.


What a depressing story. But then again, Bad Is Good!


6:55 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: to my horror, I just discovered that the gov't shutdown might end. What a bummer. Next to that was an article on why thongs may be bad for yr health.

7:05 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Send messages to most recent post. No one reads the old stuff.



I guess no one told Bob that American women, and youth, are also stupid.

And then, people are still weighing in on Miley Cyrus. Talk abt stupid...


7:33 PM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...


Indeed the Woolworth building is a marvel. The main lobby ceiling is truly a work of art. For some time it was the worlds tallest building. I spent some great times of my youth working in downtown at Centre and Chambers.

MB and other Wafers,,,,

Language is well everything. Though not a native english speaker I am always vexed when MB, or Chris Hedges and even the venerable H.L Mencken are referred to as "social critics". I think this diminishes them all and puts them on equal footing with "massage therapists", "democratic party activivists", "libertarian thinkers" "doomsday economist "(I get called that a lot), and so forth. The label I think trivializes and diminishes the ideas and defuses the importance of what these thinkers have to say. Its part and parcel of a culture where the views of sister soulja or Sarah Palin are weighed as equal to that of Bismark or Linus Pauling.

For MB, H.L. Mencken, Chris Hedges I would dispense with the "social critic" trivializing moniker and refer to them as say--"keen witted observers of reality" or observers of reality who unlike most of their contemporaries do not have their head up
their ass or honest and clearheaded observers of the human condition.

I do not have a ready substitute for "social critic" but we should dispense with that silly label.

8:26 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Anti-social critic?


You need to find other themes, yes? We talked abt this once b4. The world is not a guitar w/one string, and you shdn't be either. Thank you.


10:08 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

The Tea Party turned out to be just a better organized joke like OWS. I knew our right wing would never truly challenge the establishment the way Fascist parties did in 20thc Europe because they’re too enmeshed with corporate capitalism. Also, have you noticed how they’ve gotten nowhere on the social issues despite having electing three Republican presidents and dominating the Supreme Court? Abortion is still legal and immigration continues unabated. Of course, their fundamentalist Christianity mitigates against any revolutionary potential, when they lose, they just mollify themselves with prayer and thoughts of end-times led by that Great Revolutionary in the Sky. They’re truly pitiful, despite all their bluster, they’re just as meek as the left. So we can expect nothing in America but what we have now - a continuing drift towards irrelevance led by multibillionaires. America is becoming incredibly boring, I can hardly stay awake thinking about it. We might as well be discussing the history and activities of the Standard Oil Co (Exxon-Mobil). Time to change the subject to something interesting, like maybe, Japan?

4:33 AM  
Anonymous Golf Pro said...

It occurred to me the other day that the one word in the English language that I've never heard an American use is the word "sensible".

As in "that sounds like a sensible idea", or "that looks like a sensible thing to do", or "that doesn't seem very sensible".

I do suspect that if this one word could be introduced into public discourse, conditions within the US would improve immeasurably.

7:26 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

Si Amigo, entiendo!

The collapse is hilarious tho and I am so enjoying it.

8:07 AM  
Anonymous Smith said...

Publius, I'm having a little trouble understanding your argument.

You argue that we should accept real societies and individuals as they are, rather than try to transform them, as you feel progressives do.

But by that logic, why not accept American society as it is? Why not accept progressives as they are?

Why even criticize American society, in that case? Why try to stop Americans from rampaging and killing everyone abroad? It's only "who they really are", after all.

That seems like a contradiction to me. It's like that age-old problem with relativism and post-modernism: "If there is no truth, if everyone's views are equally valid, then why should your opinions have normative force over me?"

I'm getting a little worried. We're starting to define ourselves by being "against this American thing or other".

That's negative identity, and it won't save us.

8:21 AM  
Anonymous sanctuary! said...

"This is not one nation under God. It never was."


"She's a [...] good colleague, somebody who's respectable and dependable, and this is very surprising to everybody who works with her."

8:22 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Here's a gd film: I think someone already mentioned it here: "Disconnect."


9:28 AM  
Anonymous Troutbum said...

Hello Dr. MB and fellow Wafers,

Today, I call your attention to an article from Salon written by Michael Lind. Titled "Tea Party radicalism is misunderstood: Meet the “Newest Right”, Mr. Lind discusses how the Tea Party ( TP )is an continuation of the Old South racial politics. http://www.salon.com/2013/10/06/tea_party_radicalism_is_misunderstood_meet_the_newest_right/

Quoting " While each of the Newest Right’s proposals and policies might be defended by libertarians or conservatives on other grounds, the package as a whole—from privatizing Social Security and Medicare to disenfranchising likely Democratic voters to opposing voting rights and citizenship for illegal immigrants to chopping federal programs into 50 state programs that can be controlled by right-wing state legislatures—represents a coherent and rational strategy for maximizing the relative power of provincial white elites at a time when their numbers are in decline and history has turned against them. They are not ignoramuses, any more than Jacksonian, Confederate and Dixiecrat elites were idiots. They know what they want and they have a plan to get it—which may be more than can be said for their opponents."

Sounds about right to me... it's worth a read.

9:51 AM  
Anonymous JWO said...

Publius: You can send an email here if you wish - oner0zero02 at umn dot edu. That should be enough to foil the spam bots.


10:40 AM  
Anonymous Edward said...

Sanctuary! Thanks for the link. I wanted everyone to read it here, so I posted the entire short article here: If you thought the drama in Congress over the government shutdown couldn’t get any more bizarre, think again. On Wednesday night, as the House of Representatives was voting on a last-minute deal to end the 16-day budget stalemate, a long-time House stenographer calmly stepped up to the rostrum and started shouting into a microphone. The microphone she was yelling into was turned off, but lawmakers and staffers report she was ranting about Free Masons, the devil and the House being divided.
A House GOP aide told CNN the woman said, "Do not be deceived. God shall not be mocked. A House divided cannot stand." The woman, identified by ABC News and other sources as Dianne Reidy, was quickly pulled off the rostrum by House security officers. As she was being led away, she was heard to shout, "This is not one nation under God. It never was."
A number of staffers who said they knew the woman well told CNN's Dana Bash the incident surprised and saddened them. "She’s a well-known person, she’s a perfectly nice person, a good colleague, somebody who’s respectable and dependable, and this is very surprising to everybody who works with her," Bash reported.


Reflect on this for a moment and with WAFER’s eyes and mindset. What do you think possessed the women? Can you imagine what it would be like watching adults 8 hours daily behaving like morons and dolts? Unless you are an automaton, being among dolts for so long will either turn you into a dolt or into an insane person. I am telling you, this was the case with this woman, and this is the case with all of us inside USA.

10:43 AM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

Golf Pro suggests that the introduction of the word "sensible" into public discourse would have a beneficial effect .

Unfortunately, this would likely not be enough to bring about the amelioration hoped for. I challenge my fellow WAFers--may I consider you my fellows?--to name an American, whether inside the political establishment or outside among the everyday folk, who has not had recourse to the hackneyed phrase "the common sense of the American people."

Were the use of this phrase to become somehow forbidden, a fair proportion of what passes for the public discourse--but especially the ramblings of our elected representatives--would be immediately robbed of one of its principal "go-to" fillers.

To close:

"Common sense is the most widely shared commodity in the world, for every man is convinced that he is well supplied with it."
[Attributed to René Descartes]

11:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You state:
You argue that we should accept real societies and individuals as they are, rather than try to transform them, as you feel progressives do.

Yes, I am making that argument. That is the argument which would lead the USA to not attack other societies for being opposed to crapitalism, or "modernity", etc. It is also an argument that inherently respects the uniqueness of others and their societies. I don't see how that argument leads you to say:

But by that logic, why not accept American society as it is? Why not accept progressives as they are?

Good point. I do accept the fact that America is as it is, and I accept the fact that progressives have adopted the religion of progress, even though I think it is often destructive and used as an excuse for coercion and violence. I just don't agree with it. If I could, I would change the American belief in its exceptionalism, and progress, etc., and turn America into more of a Burkean society that focused on individual excellence and dignity, and did not value or allow great disparities in wealth, etc. But I can't change it.

Why even criticize American society, in that case? Why try to stop Americans from rampaging and killing everyone abroad? It's only "who they really are", after all.

How does rejecting progressivism and internationalism and globalism and crapitalism mean that one doesn't have the right to criticize immoral, violent behavior. I think you possibly equate justice and progressivism, or see them as so closely related, that you don't see how it's possible to reject faith in progress while caring about justice and hating ugliness.

The adherents of religious faiths, such as progressivism, are usually blind to the fact that what they take to be givens (eternal progress, etc.) are actually tenets of faith.

Finally, it is reasonable to believe that it is OK to try to change one's own society, while it is questionable to want to change other societies.

Or maybe I'm missing something, and I'm really just completely confused.


11:56 AM  
Anonymous Jesse said...

Oh Lord, have mercy on us:
watch as kim-like butt performs 'Butthoven's 5th' (as in Beethoven):



12:34 PM  
Anonymous Brian said...

Golf Pro--

Your post on the term "sensible" reminded me of one of my favorite passages in Lin Yutang's _The Importance of Living_ (one of my favorite texts as well):

"In contrast to logic, there is common sense, or still better, the spirit of reasonableness, the highest and sanest ideal of human culture. Humanized thinking is just reasonable thinking. The logical man is always self-righteous and therefore inhuman and always wrong, while the reasonable man suspects that perhaps he is wrong and is therefore always right. The opposite of the reasonable spirit is fanaticism and dogmatism of all sorts in thought and behavior."


2:05 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Just thinking outloud but I cannot understand how the USA has not collapsed by now and disintegrated into smaller independent countries like Republic of Texas..So many we have to realize that USA will go the way Wiemar Republic went when it collapsed by allowing a crazy Fascist mass murdering police state to come along called Hitler's Nazis! With all the economic problems the USA has I just do not understand how it has not come undone!

4:02 PM  
Anonymous J S RANK said...

@ sanctuary ...the House stenographer was not ranting, she was auditioning.

In other news, S&P was minutes away from putting the US on "selective default", their lowest of 20 grades of credit unworthiness.
Course, if hardly any media outlets report this, it isn't really 'news', right ?
( USA is already in 2nd tier category...lower than Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, Singapore, Canada, and Great Britain. US is in same club with France, Austria, and the Isle of Man. Somalia and Southern Sudan HERE WE COME ! )

Reminds me of my buddy Studs observing that most Americans were operating in a condition of "collective Alzheimer's".

Howzabout these for a new post-it:
"selective buffoonery", "selective insanity", "selective doltishness" ?
( Welcome others. )

4:05 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Pls post only once every 24 hrs (at most), thank u. Meanwhile, I think secessionist movements will have some serious geopolitical success w/in 30 yrs or so, but that's just a guess.


It was probably that or blow her brains out.


6:27 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Dear Wafers:

re: the blowing-out of brains; it's leaf blower season again. I keep seeing the same people out in front of their properties with their leaf blowers, blowing the same leaves up into the air as they did the day before. Whatever happened to brooms?

Anyway, I'd like to see these blowhards stick their gizmos into their mouths and blow their brains out...however long it takes.


Thanks for that Lin Yutang quotation. I could use that in discussions with fanatical atheists on a "progressive" discussion board I frequent, but I'd likely be crucified for doing so.

And Publius, thanks for bringing Ralph Borsodi to my attention.

And thanks, Dr. Belman, for bringing us all together (I must be having a delayed reaction to Thanksgiving Day, which was last Sunday here).

9:13 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Read my next bk, "Bel, Book, and Candle." There was an era, long long ago, when Kim referred to Novak, not to our beloved Rump Champ. O tempora o mores (Cicero, 1st Oration Against Catiline; In Catilinam, in Latin--note the accusative case).


9:42 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

There's an audio recording from a radio show done by Princeton professor Richard Falk, which WAFers might find interesting. Falk is a professor of international law and global politics. In the podcast he talks to a Santa Barbara radio station about American imperialism.

The link is here:


12:48 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

A few days ago I had a hilarious thought.

This dolt buffoonish country has been running from Communism for well over a hundred years. Turns out it is the far better system than capitalism. (This is not to say that either one is good.) I prefer good old Proudhon, Bakunin, Chomsky anarchism. "Anarchism is really a synonym for socialism. The anarchist is primarily a socialist whose aim is to abolish the exploitation of man by man." - Daniel Guerin.

Today I ran into this quotation: "Without stint Thatcher poured out her gratitude and admiration to a smiling Pinochet for "saving Chile from the communists," and restoring peace, liberty, and stability. She made no mention of the many thousands of Chileans whom Pinochet imprisoned, tortured, executed, or drove into exile. On that visit to Pinochet, Thatcher was wearing her fascism right under her makeup." (From the following article that is worth reading.)


Michael Parenti is apparently under the radar for most people but the most iinfluential books I have ever read are Dr Berman's AND Parenti's "Democracy of the Few". http://michaelparenti.org/index.html

8:24 AM  
Anonymous The Dude said...

@David Parent - the US hasn't yet collapsed for the same reason that the Tea Party backed down from the brink: the big money boys don't want it. As long as it is in their interests (and profitable), the US will remain a single political entity, held together by force if necessary. Once the cost of holding the US together outweighs the benefit, it will collapse swiftly a break into pieces while the elites retreat to their (at least temporarily) safe enclaves.

But you are right in that the fault lines for the eventual breakup are already forming.

9:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Dr. B,

Yesterday our nation's Scold-in-Chief blamed bloggers for the partisan strife in Washington that was preventing Congress from getting down to the business of improving the lives of a majority of Americans.

I hope you feel appropriately ashamed of yourself.

Evidently our representatives are too weak minded and too easily sidetracked by the arguments and claims of bloggers. The dunderheads simply become lost in the great din and hubbub, and can't figure out who or what, exactly, they are representing. Too much inconsistency, too many loud noises!

Apparently what the Prez wants is that, in the manner pioneered and proven by Phil Spector to provide a direct shot to the nation's limbic system, bloggers and other talking heads present a consistent Wall of Sound to "our" Representatives, so that they can in fact, you know, represent.

Yves at Naked Capitalism has some nice commentary on the President's latest address to the nation.

"These speeches are unpleasant to read because the blarney is so thick it could be packaged and sold as an industrial lubricant."


The puerility of this whole spectacle is mind-boggling.

9:48 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Yeah, it probably is the bloggers who are causing all our problems. That seems rt. As for Phil Spector, like many others I loved the Wall of Sound, and feel that it should now be imported into politics, but referred to as the Wall of Shit. Truth is, when you read abt the last days of Rome, and the nature of its emperors and government, the inanity of that is perfectly reflected in the last days of the US, as it merrily goes down the drain. It really is a fabulous spectacle, this shutdown charade being only the latest installment. Wafers need to adopt an alternate name, Fans of Folly, and not only sit back and watch the ridiculous show, but get in there and help it along. Start now: work for the election of Michele Bachmann, or Sarah Palin, or Herman Cain, or Lorenzo Riggins, to the W.H. in 2016. Hillary will be boring as Ovomit. We need to go out in a blaze of glory.


12:06 PM  
Anonymous the muted two said...

Cyber bullying death of girl in Florida is attributed to our culture and the media. Your theory in this case (that we don't attribute things to our culture), is wrong.


Also this week, marketing to teens on Facebook is criticized.


It's hard to believe your argument that we're completely stupid with our heads up our rears. We do A LOT of stupid things and our country is headed towards collapse, but you need to stop being so general with your commentary. You should be more nuanced. I tend to blame the rich and powerful, for the propaganda and way they've been able to shape the way we think.

Speaking from my own view, just because you have a cell phone and a car, doesn't mean you're a hustler and an idiot. Just try to drop out if you're a landless debt peon without a community, any simple living skills, or marketable job skills. Yeah, you can change, but it's extremely difficult.

Picking out random news stories of relatively rich yuppie idiots on their cell phones is only part of the picture. There is a large group of invisible people in this country.

12:07 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and Wafers,

MB, Wafers-

Well, the government is up and running again and our flirtation with sovereign default was just that... a flirtation. Ted Cruz just can't cut the mustard. We need Sarah or Herman Cain at this point. Both would put America outta business for good, don't you think?

Possible T-shirt idea:

Front: Shutdown Sarah in 2016...
Back: Meese for Veep!



A good interview with Stephen Kinzer about the significance of the Dulles Brothers in setting an American imperial agenda.


1:16 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I'm confused: I read the article, and it blames the two girls; it doesn't say anything about the culture being at fault. In addition, on those occasions when the culture *does* get blamed, it's pretty limited; i.e., the analysis is fairly superficial.

Frankly, *you* seem to be the one picking out random stories, such as this one or Facebook. Sure, there are exceptions, and you can keep sending them in. But the overall picture is what it is, and I guess yr not willing to see that. Wd be great to hang onto a picture of a basically sane or smart or decent America; I understand that. But if you were rt, we wdn't be falling apart. Nor am I just referring to anecdotal evidence. Ever since I published the stats of violence and stupidity in Twilight and DAA, the bks on the subject, the data, have been mounting up. Evidence is definitely not on yr side. Nor is it the rich who are the problem--another convenient, but incorrect, assessment--that's a debate we had on this blog long ago, and the OWS crowd lost.


4:00 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Dear Wafers, and the brave volunteers in The People's Front of WAF;

Shep, you might get a kick out of this, said by Michael Parenti on one of his Alternative Radio broadcasts:

"The most ruthless, selfish, opportunistic, greedy, calculating plunderers, applying the most heartless measures in cold-blooded pursuit of corporate interests and wealth accumulation, will produce the best results for all of us through something called “The Invisible Hand.”

On the subject of Alternative Radio, they had announced a Morris Berman show for October, but it appears that the show's been pulled (or is that "dropped"?).

Dr. Belman, is there any 'splainin' to do?

5:33 PM  
Anonymous Suzanne said...

The joys of being a teacher in Florida (don't forget to read the comments).


6:13 PM  
Anonymous ellen said...


Parenti gets Thatcher and the destruction she wrought completely right in that article. I like his analyses of class and race also and although I disagree on some of his points (eg his defence of Milosevic) his stuff is thought provoking and worthwhile.

Here's an interesting point for the conspiracy minded. Thatcher, previously thought even by herself to be a no-hoper, was put into power by the machinations of Airey Neave who is acknowledged to have been instrumental in the setting up and maintenance of the 'stay-behind' organisations (Gladio) in Europe after the war. His circle of influence was also implicated in various attempts at takeover of Britain's then social democracy by right wing, quasi-military coups in the mid 70's. He was assassinated (in the Palace of Westminster car park!)in '79 with Irish republicans (INLA) claiming responsibility but there are persistent and persuasive rumours that the intelligence services (for whom he had long worked)themselves took him out as he planned to reform and then lead them. With Thatcher as his puppet he would likely have succeeded in that reform. He was a very wily operator and Thatcher was always a populist puppet for his particular circle, having no great intellectual or political nous of her own.
She certainly found a soul mate in Reagan, right down to the resulting 'porridge brain syndrome' they shared in later years.

6:35 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Depends on what the host station is. Alt Radio is a fan of my work, and taped an hr of talk I gave in Seattle 2 yrs ago. It's aired a few times on different stations. It may be that this station found it offensive or too out there; or there may have been some scheduling mixup, for all I know. In general, whenever I get spat upon, cancelled, disinvited, and generally treated like dirt, I know I'm on the rt track.


6:37 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Hi Dr. Berman;

I received an e-mail from Alternative Radio in September (I'm on their list) with an October schedule in which they announced that they were airing a talk of yours on their "Alternative Radio feed":

October 22 Morris Berman - Unintended Sustainability

This is from David Barsamian and the AR crew, not from any campus/community station.

What will we miss?


8:20 PM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...


Ahhh Kim Novak! She and Lee Remick certainly were popular among us lads back in the day.....

I love coming here and well people pop in with notions at times which remind me of the policeman in Casablanca--Round up the usual suspects!!

So the anti-wafers explanation of why usa is going down fast usual suspects include:

Those darn republicans!

George Bush (now and forever).


Its those racists and sexists!

The rich and the corporations!

Republicans again!

Not enough government programs for education and poor!

Need to make sure everybody votes!!! If everybody voted it would be o.k.


If they drove prius's listened to NPR and wore birkenstocks and supported obama it would be all good.

Racists again dammit and those pesky tea partiers

Haters who are not progressives.

Its a wonderful technological advancing world, morris berman and his band of followers are just negative people who generalize based on selective reading of facts and probably are depressed and need prosac.

Sexist, racist, republican white males who work in multinational corporations who support the tea party and dont want latinos to vote and eat steak. If not for them the country would be a center no the apogee of high culture and civilization--the finer aspects, probity, creativity and keen wits of the american public are clearly being held back and we here are just focusing on the negative!!!!!

Be positive Morris!! Embrace teh now and the power of postive thinking. Common Wafers!!!!!

9:07 PM  
Anonymous Smith said...

Capo, since I don't really identify as a "progressive" as such, I can only speak for my personal opinion, but I do happen to think right-wing thinkers contributed a great deal to our collapse.

Historically, conservatives have usually been granted an "exemption from critique" and never held accountable for anything they do (example: the Left has been forever tarred with the brush of Stalinist Communism, but the Right has never paid for the crimes of Fascist Nazism; a second example, the Catholic Church was never punished for the Inquisition or Crusades, but atheists are being punished for Chairman Mao even though Mao's motives were political, not anti-religious).

I feel this exemption should be removed.

9:51 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Well, folks like Muted often mean well (and often, are just trying to prove they're rt and Wafers wrong); the real problem is one I've not been able to solve: namely, that folks like him come 'late to the party'. They advance their analyses like they were great insights and breakthrus, when the fact is that this blog has been going for a long time and many of these 'analyses' have been hashed out here and dispensed with, ad nauseam. I don't want to blow them off, but I'm also too busy and too tired to re-do all the rebuttals. I suppose the best I can do is suggest they go thru previous posts and comments, but really, who wants to do that? So there's no solution I can think of.

An additional problem with those posing as folks w/'legitimate objections' but who just need to show off or have a fight is: I can never win anyway! The long discussions we had abt WAF ch. 4 and the Civil War were paradigmatic, in this regard. I spent a lot of time going thru the trolls' arguments, showing how that was NOT what I wrote in my book, fencing w/them, etc., and in the end I convinced not one single person. No, I was a racist, I was pro-slavery, end of discussion. Why the fuck did I even bother?

There's also something abt the current state of brain damage in the US, combined w/electronic media (blogs etc.), that attracts people with Attitude. This is another aspect of American stupidity, I suppose. How often can I say that if you state yr objections to a Wafer position, do it politely, and provide evidence for yr views, we'll answer you to the best of our ability? When I get tired of the personal attacks, negative tones, anger, peacock behavior, and all the rest, and just don't care to entertain this shit, then I get: See, you refuse to debate! I tell u, there is absolutely no winning this. My mother told me to be a plumber, but did I listen? Do people hand Attitude to plumbers?

Or else (or in addition), there's the repeated insistence that I become a different person, or run a different blog. I shd be nicer (you all here know how perfectly awful I am), I shd say things differently, the blog shd be about 9/11 as an inside job, or therapy, or the internal politics of Myanmar, or abt the blog itself: a meta-blog. Jesus. If you don't like me or the blog (perfectly understandable), go somewhere else, no? I would. Why expend all that energy trying to get some minor, no-account intellectual figure to have a brain operation? I'm amazed at how much time some people have on their hands, really.To all those in this category, all I can say is Place yr lips upon my rump (and on Kim's, of course).

Finally, there's the bedrock problem of sheer ignorance, in a conceptual sense, that is pretty hard to drill thru. In order to get what I'm talking abt, you hafta think historically and sociologically. In WAF, at one pt, I say I doubt that there are 200,000 Americans who can see thru the dominant narrative; or who even know what the word 'narrative' means. Americans instead confuse emoting w/thinking, and basically just attack, or shoot from the hip. Almost no one is going to read my work, or Wm Appleman Wms, or Gene Genovese, or etc etc; they want Malcolm Gladwell, and the notion that one can 'get' things w/o thinking deeply. It's possible that the figure of 200,000 was far too generous, on my part. 2,000 is much more likely, sad to say. I shd just close down the blog and open an ice cream parlor. I'll serve only one flavor, tutti frutti, and then everyone will be happy.

al-Qaeda Qa'bong Gregory-

Oh, I forgot abt that. It's my Vancouver talk, April of this yr, on Japan as a post-capitalist possibility. You've probably heard it already:


I did submit a taped lecture to Alt. Radio on the role of deli-meats in history, but I was cruelly rebuffed.


9:52 PM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Dr. B, You said "In order to get what I'm talking abt, you hafta think historically and sociologically."

I do not think in this way. I simply took people's standards, beliefs, and values to their logical conclusions. In my head, I put them into sets and subsets and put them into more formal logical proofs. American standards are contradictions when taken to their conclusions.

I questioned various people on various sites and forums and showed them their contradictions. Their responses were colorful to say the least.

For example, people believe in this extreme internal locus of control. In their mind, one has control over his own destiny at all times. For this to be true, one would have to have control and knowledge of time and space itself. If all of us have control of our lives in an absolute way like most Americans believe then what if in order to control my own destiny and my own life there would be cases in which I would have to control other people's lives and destiny? One case in point is CEOs of corporations. It's absurd I tell you.

Instead of going for an IT degree I should've joined you Dr. B and became a plumber as well. You can eat your pastrami on rye and I can eat my turkey on white bread with lettuce, tomato and mayo.

At least with pipes, the problem can be solved and fixed. If we ever meet, it will definitely be my treat for some pastrami on rye for you.

12:00 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Fuck logic, open a deli.


3:32 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

What America is finally all abt:


3:49 AM  
Anonymous turnover said...

In response to MB's comment: "in the end I convinced not one single person. No, I was a racist, I was pro-slavery, end of discussion."

Yep. No surprise there. Most times, when I've clearly made my point to someone who holds a different view, they end up saying something like "I know what I believe and it doesn't matter what you say." Sad to say, I agree with, as you put it so eloquently, "Why the fuck did I even bother?"

5:26 AM  
Anonymous Jerome Langguth said...

Dear Dr. Berman and Wafers,

You have probably seen this by now, but it seemed the perfect complement to the Kim video. Is it for real or just an outtake from Idiocracy?



7:11 AM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...


I don;t think your assertions much like the last time you made a similar comment hold up to facts or logic.

The collapse and or decline of western culture has been people movement based. The See Barzun, Spengler, Toynbee, Gray, Ortega Y Gasset etc, etc,.......The right wing (am assuming you mean property owners as in the right wing of the French Assembly) does figure in so far as it being understood as elites caving to popular pressure (no standards in school, personal behavior, obligations etc)

How can say the Catholic Church "pay" for the inquisition which ran from 1550 to 1700? What is the mode of payment? As you know, the inquisition was more than anything a way to consolidate control by catholic monarchs in spain over a multi-cultural and multi religuous society. It was more political and probably rests on the spanish monarchy of the time more than the church of today no? Do you propose arresting the pope and the magistretum of the church to punish them for crimes of 400 years ago? Now via social gospel (oscar romero and mother teresa come to mind) the church has been nicely engaged in helping people around the world. Likley in the U.S. progressives conflate the position of the church on abortion with some sort of right wing leaning. But its hardly a right wing or conservative orgranization--conflating evangelicals perahps

Conservatives exempt from crticism? Have you been to a university or read a newspaper lately? I suggest you read Daily Kos, Washington Post or 90% of acadmic journals or journals of opinion. Is not Reagan the embodiment of evil among U.S. chattering classes and Thatcher in U.K. Bush exempt from criticism? Conservative and right wing thought embraced in universities and media? Do you want to crucify conservatives along Pennsylvania avenue? I think Dick Cheney is a dangerous psychopath--there feel better?

The Nazis and facism were a people movement. Very progressive and loved science. The business class and the Junker class were marignalized. The nazi leadership was populist and hardly right wing in any way. How you can align them as right wing is curious. I guess since they were nasty they have to be right wing?

Its interesting how messy contemporary labels (right left,) are used to to misunderstand and distot history.

I do note the progressive tendency to Punish others is very in vogue these days--see Obama and Dem party on Snowden, Bradley Manning, whistleblowers and the like. Our progressives have a bit of Torquemada in them still.

9:27 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


That video, and the contents of Kim's buttocks, are what America is all abt! ps: not kidding!


9:41 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

Some of the current comments remind me of Amazon Book ratings. Just read one yesterday where the book received 11 five star ratings and 1 one star rating (none in between). Obviously the one star person was completely off the mark. I always read the one star comments, just for laughs.


BTW, here are some great photos (hope the link is correct)

http://extras.denverpost.com/archive/captured.asp Great 30-40’s photos

10:01 AM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Dr. B

You're right I might as well open a deli. Trying to reason with the average American is a waste of my time and energy. Almost every time after each experience I feel like head banging and having a complete meltdown.

I looked up Malcolm Gladwell as I have never heard of him until you mentioned his name. I read different articles about him and I have to ask does this man have shit for brains? Americans eat this shit up?

Guess who used a version of Thin-Slicing. Those who committed the Salem Witch trials and those who tested people to determine who were witches.

They would put a suspected witch on this thing that they would lower into the water. If she drowned she was not a witch. If she did not drown she was a witch. Is this man crazy? How much acid is this man dropping? This is where his logic will lead to? Can he not see it?

This is pseudoscience and quackery. This is everything that is so wrong with America today. No wonder there is no rational thinking today or real rational discussions about anything. People eat crap up like this and perceive rational thinking as inferior. I feel like doing a head bang against the wall.

This is one piece of anecdotal and empirical evidence out of many that America is done. It is finished.

Don't people realize that if you put chocolate syrup, sugar and gold on shit it is still shit? American society and this world business and hustling culture is pure and unadulterated shit.

10:21 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Yes, Gladwell is wildly popular in the US, and commands huge speakers' fees from major corporations. It largely boils down to easy thinking for people who don't wanna think; and who wanna believe that real thought is not nec, just gets in the way. He's a gd expression of our collapse. Meanwhile, I ask u only to consider that when I say Americans have shit-for-brains, it might not be a metaphor. Altho I don't recommend u doing this, imagine a scenario in which you have an axe, walk out onto the street, and split open the head of the first person u.c. You then look inside, and--excrement, actual excrement. You then do this w/the next American you run into. After about a dozen of these homicides, w/the same result, what wd it be reasonable to conclude?


Yeah, the one-star ratings keep me in touch w/mainstream America. I love it.

Notice to all: pls remember the one post every 24 hrs rule. I can't keep track of u all, since my own brain is slowly morphing into dog turds w/advancing age, but I really do have a ton o' work to do, so need to slow down the pace here. I realize we are all eager to discuss and document The Great Collapse, but have mercy, I can't spend all my time online. I thank u 4 yr patience and understanding. In the meantime, this new post-it might be of help 2u between postings:


That shd tide u over, the more so since it's true.


11:32 AM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Dr. Berman, Capo, et al—

Re: Call For Advice

My desktop computer is several years old, so I’ll probably need to replace it after another year of so. Since I plan to be in Mexico about six months from now, I wonder whether or not I would be better off getting a new one in the US and taking it with me when I move my household stuff under a ‘menaje de casa’, or whether I should bring my old one and squeeze some more life out of it?

In short, the question is: How do computers available in Mexico compare in terms of price, quality, compatibility, etc.?
I only use a computer for the Internet and word processing. Unless there’s a good reason to do otherwise, I’d just as soon schlepp as little as possible and buy what I need when I get there – if and when I need it.

The same applies to my wife’s laptop.

I would greatly appreciate some sage advice from Wafers with a foot in both worlds. And anything else you can tell me would be most welcome. You can contact me at dhrosen@lycos.com , that is dhrosen(at)lycos(dot)com, if you don’t want to clutter up the blog.

Thank you very much,

David Rosen

2:02 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

"In the end, scholarship is meaningful only when carried out for the sake of life. Life is of the utmost importance. Scholarship without recourse to life is useless. Don't read books with a hasty mind."

-Nishida Kitaro

4:11 PM  
Blogger deflationista said...

Hey Morris-

Not sure if this was posted here earlier this week, but Chris Hedges sure does know how to sum up a situation:


Hope all is well.


4:22 PM  
Anonymous Brian said...

Dr. B--

Currently picking myself off the floor after that Kitaro quote . . . *thank* you (and *so* needed to hear that one today). Kitaro's a new name for me, so I look forward to doin' a little research and reading up on him and his ideas.


4:48 PM  
Anonymous ellen said...

Wonderful photos from the 30's and 40's, reminded me that I spent most of my childhood barefoot and dirty, too.

I found the following lovely war poem from Bruce Weigl, it again brought to mind the distressed Israeli soldier and his terse Sergeant:


Snowy Egret

My neighbor’s boy has lifted his father’s shotgun and stolen
Down to the backwaters of the Elizabeth
And in the moon he’s blasted a snowy egret
From the shallows it stalked for small fish.

Midnight. My wife wakes me. He’s in the backyard
With a shovel so I go down half-drunk with pills
That let me sleep to see what I can see and if it’s safe.
The boy doesn’t hear me come across the dewy grass.
He says through tears he has to bury it,
He says his father will kill him
And he digs until the hole is deep enough and gathers
The egret carefully into his arms
As if not to harm the blood-splattered wings
Gleaming in the flashlight beam.

His man’s muscled shoulders
Shake with the weight of what he can’t set right no matter what,
But one last time he tries to stay a child, sobbing
Please don’t tell…
He says he only meant to flush it from the shadows,
He only meant to watch it fly
But the shot spread too far
Ripping into the white wings
Spanned awkwardly for a moment
Until it glided into brackish death.

I want to grab his shoulders,
Shake the lies loose from his lips but he hurts enough,
He burns with shame for what he’s done,
With fear for his hard father’s
Fists I’ve seen crash down on him for so much less.
I don’t know what to do but hold him.
If I let go he’ll fly to pieces before me.

What a time we share, that can make a good boy steal away,
Wiping out from the blue face of the pond
What he hadn’t even known he loved, blasting
Such beauty into nothing.

5:46 PM  
Anonymous Bingo said...


For sure, that's some bitch ass Kim's sporting in that clip! Thanks, maestro!

Turning our attention to more trivial matters, Chris Hedges just published a very good essay. This time he chose a new topic: crumbling American empire. Here it is:

"The Folly of Empire"


All I've got to say about that is...


7:24 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...


You say in SSIG that people focus on form over content. Could you explain what you mean by that? On On one level it seems to me the opposite is true: people tend to focus on discrete, isolated figures (content) while ignoring the larger background and set of relationships from which those figures emerge (form). But I take it you're using the terms "form" and "content" in a different sense?

7:48 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


What's the page no.?


Keep in mind that the Japanese put family name 1st. Kitaro is his first name, in other words. Japan's greatest philosopher.


9:41 PM  
Anonymous Edward said...

Some American children with parents sometimes do not appreciate how lucky they are to have parents (no matter how imperfect those parents are). On the other hand, some American parents do not appreciate how blessed they are for having children who try to stay in school and out of trouble. There is confusion all over the place in America about what the word 'family' means. Read on....

"I'll take anyone," came the heartbreaking plea of 15-year-old orphan Davion Navar Henry Only, who stood in front of a St. Petersburg, Fla., congregation last month in a last-ditch effort to find an adoptive family. The story of his search for a mom and dad is both terribly sad and indicative of the problem facing so many older orphans who may spend years in foster care without ever finding a permanent home.


10:02 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

"In the end, scholarship is meaningful only when carried out for the sake of life. Life is of the utmost importance. Scholarship without recourse to life is useless. Don't read books with a hasty mind."

-Nishida Kitaro (1870-1942)

"Our duty is to compose our character, not to compose books, to win not battles and provinces, but order and tranquillity in our conduct. Our great and glorious masterpiece is to live properly"

-Montaigne (1533–1592)

1:02 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Actually, Nishida died in 1945, just 2 mos. b4 Hiroshima. As for Montaigne, few people know that he was addicted to pastrami, and that this was the hidden cornerstone of his entire philosophy.


2:24 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

So I went to a tribute Beatles concert with my slightly younger brother hoping it would be a bonding experience. Almost as soon as we sat down he started texting and calling various people. Then when the concert started he used his phone as a video recording device most notably during our favorite song "I am the Walrus." My blood was boiling. I told him to "put the fuckin' phone away" but his response was "just don't look at me." So I got up and moved to a seat in the back where I didn't have to look at him. And this guy's a high priced attorney not a teenager. Yeah, so much for our bonding experience. Later I tried to explain to him that the cell phone does not represent progress; in fact, it hinders progress as it works to stifle genuine communication and makes viewing a concert a less than authentic experience. I could have been speaking Chinese for all the impact those words had.

8:12 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...


You made the comment I referred to on p. 61, though you also referred to it earlier in the book (where you said something to the effect that we prefer to focus on the formal dimensions of a thing than its content).

9:57 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


OK, gotcha. Discussion of that begins on p. 57. Example I give is from the film "Blow Up," with the crowd chasing the guy who has a piece of the lead guitarist's guitar. The object is actually a broken piece of garbage, totally useless, but the crowd is gaga over it. Kim K. is another example: she has no content at all. What does this person actually *do*? She just managed to fit into the formal category of Famous Person. Or (p. 60), Herve is in love w/an image, a person he just glanced at once and never exchanged a word with. All of this is abt the imptc, to human beings, of form over content.


Clearly, his shoes need a whole lotta urine. Oddly enuf, I went to a concert last nite and sat behind 3 girls in early 20s who did pretty much the same thing. There was an announcement b4 it began, that use of cell phones and cameras was not allowed. All 3 girls immediately had their fones out; one kept taking pics w/her camera, then switched to her cell fone so she could watch the entire concert as an image, a video. Besides being distracting to have people around u who are not paying attn to the performance, the lights from these fones in the dark is harsh, very annoying. I left at the intermission. I frankly doubt I'll ever be able to attend a live concert again.

Your bro falls into category of what Daniel Patrick Moynihan once called "defining deviancy down." What was once rude eventually becomes the accepted norm, and bit by bit the entire culture is debased and degraded. Yr bro is at the cutting edge of that process. I'm guessing that for every person who reads ch. 3 of WAF, abt 1/4 million think their cell fones are oh-so-chic.

O&D, amigo; O&D.


10:30 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: Wafers: Scroll down to post of Preface to Chinese edn of WAF, where I say that China isn't going to be very different from the US:


10:36 AM  
Anonymous AS said...

Very interesting article on how the youth in Japan have stopped having sex with each other because, as one man put it, "Emotional entanglements are too complicated."

"Aoyama cites one man in his early 30s, a virgin, who can't get sexually aroused unless he watches female robots on a game similar to Power Rangers."


12:28 PM  
Anonymous Laurence said...

Dr Berman,

Finished the new book. Very relaxed and thoughtful. Just saw Sam Harris's next book is called Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion....

Sounds like his title has a little bit more chipped shoulder underneath it, but was wondering what you thought of, not so much his prompts for atheism, but this side of Harris's work, and the more "scientific" sides to the book the Moral Landscape.

Or at least why you think such different writers such as yourselves almost concurrently publish on a (superficially) similar topic

3:01 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...


Gorgeous poem, thanks.

3:40 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I never read any Harris bks, just the occasional article. His tone is wrong. Militant atheists bother me; it's like they've turned atheism into a religion. I think anything that ends w/'ism' is suspect, really, but when pressed, I tell people I'm a mystical atheist. Let 'em chew on that for a while. Anyway, glad you liked SSIG. Just doing my best to provide possible guidance for difficult times.


Yes, a great poem. Two yrs ago I was watering my garden and half-accidentally--I think I thought it was a wasp--I turned the hose onto what turned out to be a gorgeous blue dragonfly. It lay in the mud, twitching, trying to recover, and I felt sick as a dog--all that beauty destroyed, for nothing. The image stayed w/me for wks. I guess I must be 'religious', in some way, I dunno.


4:16 PM  
Anonymous shep said...


I like Valentine’s prose as well as Weigle’s poetry.

I know little about poetry but...

The gods' or devil’s.
We choose.
To kill or to love.
I sit here in a heap with regret
For the world’s hate.
It has always been that.
For me.

As a child.
For no damn excuse.
I killed a small beautiful bird.
Nothing but Intent.
Did not care if it flew.
No one to shake my small shoulders.
Performed a looooong lonely funeral.
Of two.
Never again.


Why America Failed? Hustlin’ created the hated isms. Made us dolts.



Doc, I do not understand how in the world you have lasted all these years with this blog. There iare many tho that appreciate it.

5:22 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


A poem of my own:

Blog of Ages

A million hits
10,000 troll attacks
Innumerable buffoons
Nearly 200 posts
And how many discussions of chopped
liver, O Lord of Deli Meats?
Wafers together, in a small boat
Drifting down the river
Of Endless Illumination.


(You read it here first.)

5:43 PM  
Anonymous Edward said...

Do you see any relationship between the following two stories?

1) Former Bush Official: We Went Into Iraq Because 'We Were Looking For Somebody's Ass To Kick': Report


2) 2-Year-Old Dead After Accidentally Shooting Herself With Handgun


6:45 PM  
Anonymous Ken Smith said...

While reading the comments here, it dawned on me that Etienne de La Boétie might be considered one of the first New Monastic Individuals (or NMI in Twitter-speak).

La Boétie, 1530-1563, is probably best known as the BFF (best friend forever) of Michel de Montaigne. But, his own work in Discourse on Voluntary Servitude (1548) has some currency, cited by both left and right, but now mostly by anarchists and libertarians. Here's a la Boétie clip:

Poor, wretched, and stupid peoples, nations determined on your own misfortune and blind to your own good! You let yourselves be deprived before your own eyes of the best part of your revenues; your fields are plundered, your homes robbed, your family heirlooms taken away.

Wow! Just think how much civilization and deep thought has progressed in the past 500 years. Well, maybe not so much.

La Boétie is cited as a major influence of libertarian thinker Murray Rothbard and also currently Lew Rockwell. But, la Boétie was also cited by French Marxist Simone Weil and currently by John Holloway, born in Ireland in 1947, a Marxist-oriented sociologist and philosopher, whose is closely associated with the Zapatista movement in Mexico, where he has lived since 1991. Holloway teaches at the Autonomous University of Puebla.

I've never read Holloway, but that was strongly recommend by John Ross five years ago when I had dinner with John at his favorite diner, Café la Blanca, near the Zócalo in Mexico City. John died two years ago. Fascinating writer. Read his El Monstruo: True Tales of Dread & Redemption in Mexico City and Zapatistas: Making Another World Possible: Chronicles of Resistance 2000-2006..

I must be getting close to Professor Berman's word limit, so I will close with another quote from Etienne de la Boétie:

Why in the world would people agree to be looted and otherwise oppressed by government overlords, not just out of fear since their consent to this is required? That consent can very easily and very non-violently be withdrawn merely by a simple refusal to participate.

This is not an unqualified endorsement of la Boétie. He also wrote but did not publish before his death at age 33 a manuscript in which he advised the state to punish Protestant leaders as rebels, and to enforce Catholicism upon France. Maybe I should be thankful as this belief drove my ancestors from southern France to Belfast -- not the best place in the world -- and that was followed two centuries later by emigration to South Carolina.

9:35 PM  
Anonymous Laughable Thinker said...

hello mr.berman,
just asking myself if you have a quick opinion on Ted Kaczynsk's work --just ended reading his "technological slavery" book, and I feel the uncontrollable urge to watch the whole 6 films of "the fast & the furious" if only to compensate ...

3:53 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Check out WAF pp. 97-102.


4:50 AM  
Anonymous JWO said...

WAF-ers. This weekend I picked up David Eggers' new book "The Circle". I enjoyed "A Hologram for the King" very much, but the Circle is better. I know this because by page 100 I wanted to shoot myself ... if I was the main character in the book that is. You can read a longer summary online if you wish (http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/oct/12/the-circle-dave-eggers-review).

It's been interesting so far how Mae has been reluctant to give up her privacy and how other employees seem to be flabbergasted when she complains about having sex recorded or that she doesn't text/photo every second of her life. I feel her reluctance, I often get ostracized because I'm not on facebook, or any of that other stuff. Eggers gets this exactly right, where not being on social media is seen as a huge inconvenience for other people. They have to talk to you in person or call you to invite you to some event and they just don't have the time.

Anyway, y'all will like the book.

9:09 AM  
Anonymous Smith said...

Capo, I don't feel your criticism of my viewpoint is accurate and I feel you put words in my mouth, but to be fair, I was rather unclear in what I was talking about and failed to define my terms.

Let me define what I see as "right wing":

Right-wing thought, to me, is the idea that it doesn't matter who's right or wrong, it only matters who's in charge, and morality is determined by whether or not you submit to the demands of authority. That's the kind of thinking I would classify as "right-wing", as opposed to "left wing" thinking, which in my opinion means that sometimes the sacred, hallowed "authority figures", down even to your own parents, can sometimes be hurtful and cruel and we should have the right to tell them so if it's true.

Let me give you an example:

Let's say I'm a boss, and I'm hostile and rude to my employees for no good reason. A left-wing person (Morris Berman, for example) would observe my behavior and would declare that I had a sense of entitlement, because I felt entitled to treat people poorly. But a right-wing person (Donald Trump, for example) would look at the same behavior and decide that it was the employees who had a sense of entitlement, since they felt that they were entitled to be treated with respect and basic human decency, when to the right-wing it's the boss who deserves respect, not mere subordinates.

Another example: Let's say I'm a little kid growing up in Nazi Germany, and for some reason I'm more tolerant of the Jews than my parents. Maybe my parents are Nazis and help push them into ovens, for example. A left-wing person would say that I had every right to criticize my parents and my country for behaving like assholes, even though I'm a kid, because ultimately it's the truth (as well as empathy) that matters, not authority or majority opinion. A right-wing person would NOT support the Nazis, don't get me wrong. What he WOULD say, however, is that because I'm a child, I have no right to criticize my parents or other German authority figures EVEN IF I'M RIGHT. That is, while the right wing person would privately feel the Nazis are wrong, he would also say that I have no right to speak against them, because of my lowly position. Besides, how dare I criticize my own family, I should be grateful for what they give me and shut the hell up!

In other words, left-wing thought is that lording arbitrary power over others is "self-centered", and if someone's being an asshole you should call them on it even if they're mightier than you. Right-wing thought is that resisting arbitrary power is "self-centered", and it doesn't matter if authority is behaving rationally or not, you only criticize subordinates, never authority. Right or wrong doesn't matter, only position and power does.

Is that clearer?

10:58 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Just a comment on this, since I continue to feel yr off-base. You seem to be talking about flexibility of thought, not right or left. There have been many conservative thinkers who have been flexible in their thinking, and many (very many!) left-wing thinkers who are authoritarian (Lenin, Stalin, etc.). In general, conservative thought (Edmund Burke, e.g.) is identified w/the position that society is best served by slow, evolutionary change (or no change at all), whereas "Jacobin" thought is utopian/radical, believes that the levers of power can be seized by 'the people', and altered in new directions, for their own good. Both sides of the fence have their fundamentalist contingent, and I believe that what u.r. calling rt-wing is really fundamentalist.

As for me, I wdn't call myself left-wing, because an impt component of socialism or progressivism is a belief in progress: over time, things are getting better. I don't see any evidence for that; in the US, just the opposite, in fact. Plus, there is much in traditional conservative thought I admire (its disgust at commercial, hustling culture, e.g.). My view of history is basically cyclical--civs rise and fall--although I see it more as a helix/spiral than as a simple circle. Just to clarify.

Anyway, thanks for bringing this up; it's a useful discussion to have. Capo, of course, can answer for himself.


11:57 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Dr. Berman,

Another school shooting in the USA..this time in the state of gamblers (hustlers):




12:32 PM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

"My view of history is basically cyclical--civs rise and fall--although I see it more as a helix/spiral than as a simple circle."

I was thinking along the same lines. If you look at the civilizations that came before us like Rome, Assyria, Easter Island, etc our society is doltish but could it be less doltish amongst all of them?

This leads to further questioning. As each civilization rises and falls does each successive civilization becomes less and less doltish?

Look at our own civilization vs. Rome. Wasn't Rome much worse. They didn't produce or sell anything and were not a nation of hustlers. They were a nation of conquers. Their whole economy and way of life was kept up by conquering other lands.

Business and hustling is our way. Even though it is doltish couldn't we say it is a lot less doltish than ancient Rome's doltism?

With each civilization's rise and fall and each one becoming less and less doltish and if this is true will we have a society that will eventually become enlightened?

1:20 PM  
Anonymous sanctuary! said...

The question may be one's attitude toward power: is power (any kind of power) the standard of value, or are there values transcending power? In short, does might make right?

I grok what Smith is saying. There certainly are fundies (inflexible thinkers), both right- and left-wing, whose attitude to power is blind worship. If you're on top, then you are the Truth and the Way by right, is their motto. Guess Smith encounters more capitalist fundies (in this sense) than noncapitalist fundies. The former have been in the ascendant lately, & surely the avg American dolt is less likely to be a Stalinist thug than a money-worshipper, whose only real standard of worth is "how much money do u have?" If u listen to the "Right" today (e.g. Greg Gutfeld of Fox News) it's palpable, this assumption that "he who has the gold makes (shd make) the rules, period." Much of the Ayn Rand kind of libertarianism seems less abt "don't tread on me" than abt "anybody w/ a dollar less than Mr. X has no right to criticize Mr. X." Materialistic elitism, basically. (AR started as a vulgar Nietzschean.) One of the things I dislike abt Mencken, btw, is his apparently sharing this kind of elitism (he too was sort of a vulgar N'ean; wrote the 1st Am book abt N, in 1905).

Power is a sort of form, while content is not the same thing, maybe.

2:00 PM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...


I honestly do not understand what you are saying. Thats o.k., some accuse me of being in my dotage.

I will say that the right/left and liberal/conservative dychotomies as used in popular American narratives and discourse obscure more than enlighten and to an empiricist are of limited use. If authority is the issue you are trying to get to then some sort of libertarian or even NMI approach is beneficial. I did not intend to put words in your mouth but punishing some contrived ideological perspectives due to crimes of the past to which they are tenuously linked seems a bit pointless.

Again, the whole right left and conservative liberal labels are distractions on a good day and do not help at all understanding the past or the present or how the future will unfold.

My view is that there are no solutions only results and consequences most of them unintended but perfectly foreseable if you are not blinded by the several isms on offer. These isms are all mental shortcuts and like any mental shortcut will make you miss key points.

Waferism by my lights is a sort of dogma and ism free view of the world. It is best grasped by reading widely, thinking clearly and not adopting the various isms. There is no progress, there are no solutions and most people are dolts. The corrollary is that the views most commonly espoused (progressivm, feminism, neo-liberalism) are all moonshine held dear by the same dolts. Its the best thinking from the isms that got us here today no? Its never 100% complete but Wafersim is a good way to get out of the seveal hive minds out there a.k.a narratives.

Read some Gibbon, a bit of Toynbee, Spengler, Nassim Taleb(yes), Montaigne, Mencken and Berman and shut off the TV and read you post it and remember that freedom more than anything comprises of having your own mind and relating to reality as it is.

Be well

3:00 PM  
Anonymous Megan said...

I would add that in true Burkean conservatism there is a kind of skepticism regarding human nature itself, and therefore of human institutions. Well, perhaps not skepticism about human institutions per se, but rather about their ability to transform themselves in a positive manner, except very gradually and over long periods of time. Hence, large-scale social engineering, foreign entanglements, rapid social upheavals, etc., are looked upon from this perspective with a mistrustful eye, due to the negative and unintended consequences that result.

I actually find this way of looking at things rather appealing. It's actually not that far from John Gray's philosophy, though, admittedly, I don't know Gray's personal views on Burke. For that matter, even the Jacobin-loving William Hazlitt thought Burke was a force to be reckoned with. I agree. Nevertheless, what a far cry the Neocons and corporate Republicans are from such a lofty and venerable figure as Burke! (And it goes without saying that Harry Reid is no William Hazlitt!)

Yes, we are living in very diminished times.

3:47 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and Wafers,

Interesting discussion about left/right definitions. It's interesting to note that the term "Jacobin" has been used to define extremism and ideological purity found within the right as well as the left in the US. I recall Mark Lilla described the modern Tea Party movement as "Tea Party Jacobins." This certainly adds to the confusion, yet describes the fundamentalism that can be found on the fringe.

I consider myself a sans-culottes dill pastramicus...


3:58 PM  
Anonymous Jesse said...

Ohio, what are they feeding the people from Porto Rocco?

A Cleveland man, described as a neighbor of Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro, faces 293 counts for the alleged murders of two women, and the rape of several others, including two children.

Law enforcement officials re-examined cases of other missing women in Cleveland following the Ariel Castro kidnappings and obtained the videotaped confessions from Elias Acevedo for two murders committed 18 years ago.

Acevedo, 49, was also indicted Thursday with hundreds of other criminal charges, including rape, gross sexual imposition and kidnapping.


4:36 PM  
Anonymous AS said...

It's just a matter of time before Belman does something similar, only with Thomas Friedman:


4:43 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I've been on the Friedman clone list for 2 yrs now, but the holdup is that I refuse to wind up with that absurd, ratty moustache of his.


I don't have a doltmeter (not an historical one, anyway), but I'm not sure it really matters. Altho if Princeton started a program called Comparative Dolt Studies, I might be persuaded to give a lecture in it.


Here again, u come rather late to the party, and I find myself having to spend time explaining stuff long ago explained. Some time ago, we had a long discussion of every aspect of WAF ch. 4. I dealt with every objection as clearly and as patiently as I cd (most of them were just rants). I convinced no one, but at least I tried to demonstrate how to read a text, what empirical analysis was, and so on. Finally, after weeks of this, I decided to close the file. There are only a very few topics we no longer discuss here, but the Civil War and WAF ch. 4 is one of them. Please feel free to regard the book as a disaster and ch. 4 as racist or whatever; that's fine w/me. But if u intend to contribute to our discussion, find another subject to attack me with (I know that's extremely impt 2u).


6:20 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

I love this stuff:




6:35 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


See, this is what I mean. Folks like u really wanna spend time discussing the blog itself. Ever heard the expression, Get a life? I think you might profitably adopt it as a mantra. Enuf, already; I'm exhausted from people like u. The subject here is the collapse of the American empire. Think you might possibly stick to that? Otherwise, I'm going to delete u automatically, pls be clear abt that. You might consider bothering another blog, BTW; perhaps there are some folks out there who have time for silly people who have nothing better to do. Not me.

How did Americans become so dumb, and so focused on trivia?


7:56 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Above, my latest reply to another bozo. There's no end to it. I write how people waste my time telling me how to phrase things, or discussing the blog, and then guess what? Yes, yet another douche bag writes in to tell me how to phrase things, and how I shd run the blog. Now of course he'll write in again w/more of the same; is there any doubt? How else shd he spend his time? And we wonder why the nation is in a state of collapse. If Americans aren't preoccupied w/Kim's rump, they are apparently concerned about my English usage. Man, there's not a day goes by that I'm not made increasingly aware that there is no hope. (A triple negative; he'll probably jump on me for that.)


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

"Plus, there is much in traditional conservative thought I admire (its disgust at commercial, hustling culture, e.g.)"

Contemporary talk radio probably doesn't qualify as traditional conservative thought -- nevertheless it's amusing how often their complaints (at general dolt-ishness) overlap with those on this blog. Of course they have very different ideas about the causes and solutions, but I sometimes wonder if the politically engaged on both "sides" realize how much they have in common. It may be the vast indifferent middle with whom they really have a beef.

"His tone is wrong. Militant atheists bother me; it's like they've turned atheism into a religion."

Amen! I can't stand that sort of thing either.

Ken Smith-
"That consent can very easily and very non-violently be withdrawn merely by a simple refusal to participate." (la Boetie)

That might work if everyone does it, but what does la Boetie say about the men with pointy sticks who get upset when you withdraw your consent?? That's where the rubber meets the road, Boesie.

8:13 PM  
Anonymous The Dude said...

WAFers - the holidays are coming up and I'm sure that many of you are looking for gift ideas. At the supermarket today while I was checking out I saw something to warm every WAFers heart--a special edition magazine called "The Making of Kim Kardashian--from Nobody to a Superstar." I went home a looked on Amazon, and low and behold, it's available for the truly bargain price of $9.95. Be sure and order two so you'll have one copy of this priceless Horatio Alger story to keep for yourself.


Personally, I STILL think she's a nobody, but in this dumbass country that's obviously just me.

8:22 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Dear Wafmen:


Indeed, Burke thought we were all rather wanting in "reason," which makes prescription and equipoise so important in how we treat each other.

Otherwise it's guillotines and drones for EVerybody.


Who is the Catullus of the Californians? The Virgil of the Virginians?

9:01 PM  
Anonymous Ariel Ballesteros said...

Dr Berman,
I watched the links that you displayed lines above and I find them very sad! As a mexican who got his education in the US and therefore is grateful to that country for that I am terribly anoyed by what is going on up there. Even living in a country that has tens of thousands of deaths due mostly (notice I said mostly, not solely) to the drug trafficking cartels I am concerned. These examples you gave us are embeded in the society instead of just fighting for the money that the drugs bring. Ii do not know if I make myself clear but your choice of links clearly (and sadly) opens eyes of what's going on up there.

9:40 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...


One of the problems with trying to define terms like ‘right vs. left’ is that the ground is shifting under our feet. The things these terms were invented to describe may not exist anymore – certainly not in the US. It may be like taking what was said about the class structure of 19th Century European society and applying it to 21st Century America.

Below is something I posted about two years ago, and I hope I will be forgiven for posting it again:

Here is a quote from Erich Fromm which I transcribed from a cassette recording of a 1976 radio interview program:

“I think the ‘camps’ are completely wrongly organized.”

“There are many people who are conservatives because they really hang onto the deep values of our Western Culture, and believe or are persuaded that the conservative parties who speak that way will in fact also have a policy which tends to realize this. And there are many liberals and leftists who have the same basic values and express them in political terms, maybe of socialism or some other ideology.”

“These two camps are basically very related because they have the same human aims.”

“While on the other hand, there are many conservatives who are just using conservative formulas for the naked exploitation of others – and many leftists who basically are not different, who also believe that a strongly authoritarian society as the best way to promote happiness for all people. What they really say, the Communists – is that all people should be bourgeois. That was really the aim of the Communists and social democrats.”

As we move from our moribund world system to a new and now unknowable one, our old ways of classifying people become meaningless, and new ones will have to be devised.

I guess if we continue to use these terms, we’ll have to start attaching dates and locations to them.

David Rosen

10:02 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

Anent pointless exchanges:

Whenever a discussion becomes sidetracked or silly or if things appear on the verge of becoming heated, I resort to the wisdom of the ages by quoting Quincy Adams Wagstaff:

"I don't care what they* have to say
It makes no difference anyway;
Whatever it is, I'm against it."

*Or, as appropriate, you, he, she, or it.

10:11 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


When a nation commits suicide, this is what it looks like. Stuff like this is now going on all the time. Every wk there's an article abt cops gunning down someone retarded or whatever. The collapse is staring us rt in the face.


Everyone needs 2 copies: one for the kitchen, one for the bathrm. Bathrm one shd be printed on very soft paper, of course.


10:17 PM  
Anonymous Mike Alan said...

Dr. Berman wrote: "The collapse is staring us rt in the face."

All I can say is from an intuitive energy level (yeah I know it's not quantifiable) this whole day felt like we slid quite a ways down the cliff of no return. While driving for work today it seemed that everyone was frantic for some reason. Waiting in the checkout line at Lowes took forever for people to pay and the people in line were getting antsy. I stopped abruptly and the guy behind me got bent out of shape about it. Maybe he shouldn't follow people so closely. It just seemed like there was a tension underlying everything and everyone today. It's as though the sheep are sensing the wolves have them surrounded but nobody wants to yell run and possibly look foolish.

Sorry it's not the most insightful post, but boy, could I just feel the negative energy everywhere today. I thought I'd see if anyone else here noticed it themselves. It seems people are starting to feel the new reality and it's not mating up with the reality in their head.

10:59 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Yr describing daily life as I usta experience it in DC. The fact that this energy is nonquantifiable is neither here nor there. It's *palpable*, and it's getting worse by the day. Look, we now live in a country where cops shoot mental patients just for sport, or so it seems. What did we expect? The US made money the purpose of life, everyone bought into it, and now there's no money.


I know it's America, but I'm just so tired of stupid people, in particular morons who keep showing up on this blog. Jesus, why me? Let them write in to Kim's blog, try to correct her behavior. As I keep saying, there's just not enuf urine to go around...


11:14 PM  
Anonymous ellen said...

Dr Hack,

'That might work if everyone does it, but what does la Boetie say about the men with pointy sticks who get upset when you withdraw your consent??'

Etienne was a theorist. Theories are interesting but need to be tested in the field before they can be declared to be of use or not.

Regarding what happens with the men with pointy sticks, you are better off studying people who have real world, professional experience of opposing those men and those pointy sticks. My personal favourites are Marshall Zhukov and General Giap but von Clausewitz and Sun Tzu are also worthwhile.
Of course all of this is mental masturbation until it is put into practice on the ground. Endless bloody practice and bloody practical experience made the difference for both Zhukov and Giap, who were both quite ordinary men who discovered in themselves an ability for extraordinary application.

'Everybody' isn't ever going to do anything.

2:49 AM  
Anonymous shep said...


Unfortunately, I agree with u. More hopium.

The only thing the world understands is violence. I used to think that boycott was an answer but here come the pointy sticks. It rankles the elites but eventually, after they give an inch with great howlin'...start back ruling as the 'hauteur gentleman' class playing with their puppets.

“The US made money the purpose of life, everyone bought into it, and now there's no money.” Dr. Morris Berman - The most succinct sentence ever formed about America!

I suppose it is the way of homo stupidus and cannot be changed because, to be frank, what the hell IS going on, besides hustlin' leading to class, leading to collapse, leading to thank goodness.

8:52 AM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Dr. B, I state from experience that you will not change anyone's minds no matter what reasoning you use. Believe me, I have tried by going to various blogs and asking the commenters various questions. It does not work.

It is not worth getting angry and worked up about. We live in a nation full of people who do not think and who do not want to think. Dr. Berman, we live with a dysfunctional people in a dysfunctional culture.

There is only so much one can talk about with this. I will continue to visit here and speak my peace but I am going to find something I can be for and not against. This is one of the main problems with the USA and I do not want to fall into the same trap.

I believe in order to build a better society one has to start off with solid, logical and sound beliefs. My wife and I have a non-profit.

We will do that and I am thinking of starting a group myself to come up with ideas and discuss various philosophical topics that may help contribute to it.

You take a very big picture and gestalt view of civilizations rising and falling. You have recorded and analyzed why America and other civilizations has failed in a global way and have done a post mortem analysis of America and why it failed.

In a system, one can predict future trends with reasonable accuracy if one looks at it in a gestalt way. This does not account for small fluctuations in a given system. Sometimes, what may seem like an insignificant action may bring more significant changes as time progresses even to thousands of years from now.

Dr. B you're very recording of things may bring significant changes to humanity as a whole. I am going to help bring this about. Metaphorically, sometimes the answer may lie in "splitting hairs" meaning sometimes one may find a load of treasure in the smallest of packages.

There is always a fly in the ointment somewhere. Look for hope not on the globe but in the smallest of small particles.

9:56 AM  
Anonymous Mike Alan said...

I hear what you're saying Dr. Berman. This sentence of your sums it up succinctly: "The US made money the purpose of life, everyone bought into it, and now there's no money. "

The following article also nicely sums up how things are going in the US. Here's an accurate quote from the author:

"We are simply not the same country that we used to be. Americans are proud, selfish, greedy, arrogant, ungrateful, treacherous and completely addicted to entertainment and pleasure. Our country is literally falling apart all around us, but most Americans are so plugged into entertainment that they can't even be bothered to notice what is happening."


Although most WAFers already know these things.

10:19 AM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

I think Dovidel is right(pun day, fun day). The labels are now useless. From my vantage point within the beast, I think labels along the nature/nurture question are appropriate. The American narrative tells us that we are all genetically wired for selfish gain and this drives the beautiful logic of the free market. Smacking such nonsense right in the face seems the appropriate response to me. Nurture party 2016!?

11:06 AM  
Anonymous sanctuary! said...

MB, maybe get someone to screen messages? They say Chomsky has had some poor devil screening his email for yrs, weeding out the abusives. Maybe for a cervaza or 2, somebody could screen for u, say weekly. Couldn't hurt? Imagine never seeing the words "building 7" or "civil war" again... the mind drools.

11:55 AM  
Blogger bowtiejack said...

Here's a good (if depressing) compendium of examples of the rotting of empire:

An Orgy of Greed and Corruption From Sea To Shining Sea.


2:56 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


That's all gd advice, but in the meantime, I suggest u change yr post-it to:


This might give u some encouragement to press on. Meanwhile, be sure to think long-term. The story of next 30-40 yrs will be the descent of America into the toilet; where we are now, for the most part. So think recuperation, not prevention. There is no prevention.


3:25 PM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...


While we can spend a lifetime chronicling the stupidity of americans (stupid, knavish, ignorant, violent, intolerant and utterly solipsistic and uncvivlized) and the consequences of said stupidity on the american "way of life", there is a lingering question. Why or how are they so stupid? Its not a new thing, Mencken beautifully described the phenomenon of american stupidity in his wonderful essays--"On Being an American and "The Sahara of the Bozart" and generally in much of his work. His Bathtub Hoax did great service as did the war of the worlds broadcast in highlighting how utterly idiotic and gullible americans were in the early 20th century. Lippman and Bernays made handsome livings exploiting the stupidity of the lumpen americanus as are many businesses and political interests in the present.

The question is why? There is a fascile answer that consists of well there are stupid people everywhere. It is true that there are stupid people everywhere but nowhere else are they so large in number and proportion and nowhere else do they set the terms of living as they do in the U.S.of A. They are also incredibly intrusive to an extent seen nowhere else today in the developed world.

The matter of how they become so stupid is interesting and would add to our understanding no?

5:07 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Just a guess, but I think America is No. 1 in utter idiocy because the entire civilization, from 400+ yrs ago, was devoted to business. Business has its place, obviously, but it's too narrow a perspective to become a way of life; and if it does, it's stupefying--it crowds everything else out. It's the one factor that makes the US different from every other nation in the history of the world. You can say, "Oh those Arabs; what merchants they are!" Sure; and what poetry they produced, what art, etc etc. Business wasn't the be-all and end all of Islamic or European or Latin or etc. civilization; only in the US. This, I believe, permanently damaged our brains.

Here's Mencken, vintage ca. 1920: "You can never underestimate the stupidity of the American people." What might he say today?


5:20 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and Wafers,


Yes, a few beers and a pastrami sandwich perhaps to screen out the nincompoops. But, you hafta admit, it's fun when MB *unleashes* on some of these bozos; kinda like secret drinking in the afternoon.


You deserve a Nobel Peace Prize for putting up with the bullshit you get from running this blog.

My intuitive sense tells me that the occupants of the sinking Death Machine of America should have better things to do than trying to tell you what to do. After all, nothing is stopping them from getting back to real important issues: building better drones, *winning* in Afghanistan, purchasing a Hummer, worshiping Kim's powerful ass, attending a Klutz University somewhere, and jacking off.

Sorry for the rant MB. I just feel that the merciless amounts of douchebaggery you receive threaten the blog. I fear that one day you may just say, "fuck it" and head out to the courts to work on your serve... and that'll be it.


5:59 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


It's true, sometimes they drive me to drink. Not the Peace Prize; perhaps the Pull Out Yr Hair Prize (and I don' have that much left). I just can't imagine it, myself: you read some irrelevant writer's blog, that has all of 135 people registered on it (out of a national pop. of 315 million), a guy whose work is largely unread (to say the least) and who has 0 impact on the national discussion, and you feel it's actually worth yr while to stop and tell him he shd be more polite, or say it this way instead of that way, etc. And this, after you specifically say that yr not interested in this crap and that if they don't like it, they can shove it. Jesus, what could be dumber? Self-righteous horses' asses w/nothing better to do w/their time...I wd pee on their shoes, but I have too much respect for my urine.

God, that felt good. I tell u, occasionally it's just too much. My mother's words keep coming back to me: Be a plumber, boychik; no one bothers a plumber. But oh no, I had 'aspirations'. So now I'm left listening to morons who think I shd bend over backwards for morons.


OK, I'll admit I'm a bit outta control here, need a pastrami sandwich with one of those half-dill pickles to calm down. (Recent research has just revealed that pastrami contains the same active ingredient as Prozac. Ain't that the cat's meow?) And perhaps a Cel-Ray tonic, side of chopped liver, and a matzo ball or two. A bit of cole slaw w/Russian dressing wdn't hurt, either. Some halvah for dessert...

But nothing wd compare to taking these flunkouts from Slippery Rock Community College and banging their heads together for 30 mins. or so (or holding them under water).

Yes, tennis...at least on that front, there's hope. I have had an inflamed tendon in my rt ankle for a few yrs now, wh/shut down my tennis game. I was slated to be the next Pete Sampras, and then it all collapsed. I've been playing tennis since age 11. Women wd watch me on the courts and swoon (well, perhaps I imagined that). Anyway, a few mos. ago I discovered this chica de rehabilitacion--a physical therapist, in other words--who is abs. marvelous, and I think in January I might make it back onto the courts. Go with an ex-colleague from Tec in Mexico City, w/whom I usta play, and put on my sneakers (with orthotics, of course) and an Ace bandage, and give it a whirl, w/my chica's blessing. More to come, amigos; stay tuned. I might even post the video on YouTube: "Was that Boris Becker We Saw On The Courts?" Can't wait.


ps: To All Blog Turkeys: Stick it, me entienden? Bother Noam Chomsky, fer chrissakes.

6:35 PM  
Anonymous joe hohos said...


I knew about the giant Pacific garbage patch, the debris and radiation from the tsunami in Japan, but this brought tears to my eyes.

8:21 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I read elsewhere that drone killings in Pakistan, Yemen, and Afghanistan over last 4 yrs have amounted to 3,000 people, most believed to have been civilians.


5:05 AM  
Anonymous turnover said...

From the NYT:

"The United States, Falling Behind

An alarming report shows that American workers are poorly skilled compared with competitors abroad."

That has to rate pretty high on the decline meter.

6:56 AM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Dr. B, I definitely will be thinking recuperation and will be recuperating as the years go by. You're right, there is no prevention.

I am thinking long term. I am thinking of 100s to 1000s of years from now. I think one of the main causes of civilizations collapsing is people become to rigid in their beliefs because their beliefs are the ones to help shape their identity.

There is no way to get rid of this as this is a part of human nature but I believe there is a way to circumvent it for another civilization in the distant future. No matter what values, standards, beliefs exist at the current moment the one belief this new civilization should have is checking and re-checking beliefs they have. Some of the tools that can be used are logic, philosophy, scientific method etc. The idea of checking and re-checking for things like inconsistencies has to be a part of the core of this belief structure.

The idea is to seek better and better objective truths not as a goal but as an iterative process. The process of seeking truth(s) is the truth. Both the process and the answer are one. To me, this should not only be just a rational thing but a spiritual thing as well. The rational and the spiritual are one. Maybe human nature can't be taken away but maybe it can be circumvented.

I will be taking lots of recuperation time, doing things with our nonprofit and working on the blueprints for the foundations of a new society for the distant future. Part of this blueprint is the blueprint can be changed itself, modified and made better. America is done and because of this it is the future that counts. I will try to make it brighter. In this distant and future society I hope your writings will be required study from elementary ages on up. Hopefully, they will see you as a genius of our time.

I hope as a 34 year old I make it to your age and I will have to try your pastrami on rye. Does it really have Prozac like properties?

You studied the past. I am using your studies to help create the new future. Even when I reach your age I will continue to do so.

9:07 AM  
Anonymous sanctuary! said...

Woman squirts boyfriend with water pistol & is arrested.


9:16 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I think psycho-logic may prove to be more impt than logic, myself. But if and when we all live on a galaxy far, far away, the determining factor, I suspect, will be the presence or absence of deli meats.

To the stars!


9:41 AM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

turnover directs our attention to a New York Times article reporting that "...American workers are poorly skilled compared with competitors abroad."

WAFers' daily interactions with Americans of all stripes--workers or not--may have caused them to react by saying "This is news?"

One segment of Americans, however, likely took some pleasure from the report, as it would serve to justify their treatment of these same workers: namely America's capitalists and captains of industry.

After all, why should they feel any embarrassment about their employment, hiring, and pay practices, or, for that matter, embarrassment about moving their enterprises to locations where the labor pool offers better prospects for increased profits?

See, it's all in how you choose to look at things.

11:26 AM  
Anonymous Brian said...

Dr. B--

Like many WAFers here, I was particularly struck by this sentence in one of your recent posts: “The US made money the purpose of life, everyone bought into it, and now there's no money.”

Succinct, and right on the money (ha ha) . . .

In mulling over this sentence, I'm also wondering the extent to which "money" in your sentence could be replaced with "power" and still resonate as forcefully (or, at least without seeming too reductive).

In posing this idea, I'm thinking of some of the ideas you encouraged me to mull over in _Wandering God_ (still my favorite). In other words, living in the vertical, sacred authority complex (SAC) structure that we do, it seems that the secondary substitute of $ (a substitute for that of primary experience) comes down to power, and that the US (and other Western cultures) has defined power so narrowly and framed it as a scarce commodity (i.e., climb up those ladders and pyramids for secular salvation, for there's only so much room at the top . . .). True power--knowing who we are--seems to be a "non-option," inasmuch as the controlling powers and structures make interiority and alternative lives of voluntary poverty (sort of what like Philip Slater did in the 2nd half of his life) seem options for "losers" in the SAC worldview of "climb the ladders . . .".

I guess I just think we're addicted to external power, and $ is one way of making that power manifest. Could the conditions possibly emerge to make a life rich in time and "wealthy" in experience something to aspire to, especially when the "career-as-secular-salvation" mantra we've heard for so long finally becomes untenable? When folks begin to recognize that self-restraint and virtue--not indulgence--become pathways to happiness? Stuff dreams are made of, I guess . . .

Best (and trying to live it out horizontally every day)--


12:05 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and Wafers,


Sorry to read about your ankle injury; sounds pretty frustrating. At least you've found a magical chica to work on it. The sooner she helps you get back on court, the better.

I've often said, w/o tennis, life would not be worth living. In addition, the Americans are in desperate need of new male star: like Pete... a hard worker with a *killer* serve-and-volley game.

MB, Wafers-

Good News! Lorenzo and Latreasa have found their campaign manager:



12:34 PM  
Anonymous Megan said...


I don't know about a society hundreds or thousands of years into the future. To me, that's just such a wild abstraction that thinking about it doesn't get my blood up very much. Probably a bit too utopian for a jaded old lady like myself! (I'm 43, but you'd be surprised how much ten years can disillusion you!) However, I suppose that one of the benefits of being 34 is that you can still think in terms of "blueprints for a society 1000 years into the future" (!), etc. Just take care that you don't lose your grounding too much in airy-fairy, millenarian fantasies. It's been said that you can take every illusion away from a person, so long as you still permit him his idolatry of the future.

I'm saying this in the spirit of friendly banter, not condescension, so take it for what it's worth. But I'm not sure that human nature can be so easily "circumvented", as you suggest. People will make just as much a mess of things in the future as they do now--and probably more of a mess! Besides, what relevance does a society ten centuries from now have for you--or for any of us? It's one thing to wish those yet-to-be-born humans well in a general sort of way. It's another thing altogether to spend your very limited time here trying to build a rarefied, Cloud Cuckooland society for them in advance!

1:28 PM  
Blogger GregJS said...

Was reflecting on how capitalism (and by “capitalism,” I mean the insane, hustling form of it that actually exists, not any textbook ideal) creates a sense of emptiness in people and then offers to fill it with useless crap. And since there is no end to the sense of emptiness, there is no end to the amount of useless crap we crave in order to fill it.

One of the rationalizations capitalists use to convince themselves that this is a good way to live is, “Everyone else in the world wants what we have.” And to a certain extent, this appears to be true. But why? Why do other cultures seem so eager to buy into this insanity? Most cultures can see how insane we are – and then they slowly start buying in. Obviously, to some extent, this happens because capitalist culture exports its hustling values at the point of a gun. But even when it doesn’t happen like that, other cultures start buying in.

Then it hit me: Maybe it’s mainly just the young people of other cultures who buy in – the people who are still too young to understand what they are buying into, the people in whom deeper, more community-oriented, non-hustling values have not yet solidified.

This would explain why hustling culture is stunted, immature, youth-worshipping culture: it only ever appeals to kids. So really, what we are exporting is an emptiness that curtails normal maturation.

Just some random thoughts. Probably nothing new to folks here. But they crystallized in a certain way that made me feel like posting.

Not like I’m going to go down to the local diner and share this.

3:10 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Dr. Berman,

For the second time this week, a math teacher has been killed by a student.




4:31 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

I think I found this line in a Counterpunch piece from a few weeks ago, it just occurred to me that itd make a decent post it for NMIs though:

Be a loose rivet. Let this thing rattle apart.

4:39 PM  
Anonymous Smith said...

The reason Americans are so stupid, or violent, is because of how Americans have always "reversed the ordinary pathways of ethics" in every domain of their interactions, even in the way they raise their children.

Usually, it was considered wrong to treat someone like trash because they're beneath you.

Usually, you were considered to have a sense of entitlement if hoarded all the pleasure in life for yourself, and left none for everyone else.

But thanks to the "family values" crowd on the right, and thanks to the "postmodern relativist psychologist/therapist/mind-controller" crowd, now you're considered to have a sense of "entitlement" if you RESIST selfishness, or tell someone to their face that they are being cruel.

In America, it's considered wrong to RESIST being treated like trash. Everything we learn in this society is designed to produce "Stockholm Syndrome," where (a la Charles Dickens) we are asked to be somebody's servant, and then be grateful for the scraps we are tossed. Lots of responsibilities to the powerful, but few rights.

Think about what happens if you display too much "kindness" or "intelligence." Either you get bullied in school (and your teachers reward the bullies for cruelty, not you for kindness), or your own parents punish you (unless you have the rare good ones, like mine) because you're refusing to "fit in with everyone else."

The same people who are now decrying America's collapse actually had something to do with that collapse, because they constantly stuck up for the worst sorts of people (such as Donald Trump), and shielded the worst people from criticism with "personal responsibility" garbage where everything is always the fault of the person who is trampled over.

Now they complain that young people are acting like beasts? They rewarded the adult beasts for 400 years. They rewarded warmongers, they didn't prosecute George W. Bush, they lionized Reagan, they lauded Woodrow Wilson for rounding up suspected Commies (and Wilson was a Democrat, lest Capo think I am excusing the left, ha ha! ^_^), at every turn they SUPPORTED the beasts...as long as they weren't the ones about to devoured. They treated dissenters to violence as "soapbox sadies"; now they are upset that our young has become violent.

Our young people are acting like animals because whenever they act like humans (i.e., the Vietnam protests), we beat their kindness out of them, and then we demonize them if they protest against that beating.

We're reaping what we sow. The psychologists decided that resisting being dominated was just as bad as dominating others, thus forcing an "equality" that didn't really exist, erasing the line between good conduct and bad conduct, which "de facto" always rewarded bad conduct by driving the good people crazy or driving them to kill themselves.

5:18 PM  
Anonymous shep said...

Hear ye, hear ye.


I would love for all WAFers to listen to this Guy McPherson talk, and give their comments. (One hour)

It is WAFerism (the only good ism) through and through. McPherson talks about everything we discuss on this blog and he spins the gold.


As for my reaction, I'm ordering a good supply of lobster tails (no deli meats) and working on learning to play the Mandolin (well). From here forth, I am going to have some fun especially with my son, daughter, animals and wife. I ain't gonna worry no more. To hell with civilization, it has always sucked.

11:09 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

I pulled into Nazareth, I was feelin' about half past dead;
I just need some place where I can lay my head
"Hey, mister, can you tell me where a man might find a bed?"
He just grinned and shook my hand, and "No!", was all he said

Take a load off Fanny, take a load for free;
Take a load off Fanny, And (and) (and) you can put the load right on me

Just feeling a little 60s nostalgia, folks: "The Weight," by The Band, 1968.


12:00 AM  
Anonymous Crowbar And Vaseline said...

Would you ever consider going on the Cenk Uygur show again?

4:01 AM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

"To me, that's just such a wild abstraction that thinking about it doesn't get my blood up very much."

Megan, I am very flattered that you said this. I've been told by various doctors I am an extreme concrete thinker. In their mind, I can't think in abstractions.

Maybe you're right Megan that human nature can't be circumvented. It is possible that I may be missing variables. In fact, I don't believe we can have all of them.

I look at human nature as having a list of rules that function in a system that make up the human psyche. My intent was to use the very rules to circumvent the rules causing a logical paradox.

From my interpretation, people need a form of belief(s), spiritualism, or religion. This is in the deep recesses of the human mind. These things give people their very identity. I believe this is part of Jonathan Haidt's Moral Foundation Theory.

Logic, ideas that form the scientific method, critical thinking, reason, and rationality can't be strictly be a part of rationality. This has to become part of the spiritual part of the human brain as well. It has to become a spiritual way of living as well.

Most people today will not accept this as their beliefs are too ingrained. A small group may and this is my intent. Even if it does not work and nothing becomes of it the whole idea is the process itself and not the goal.

I can at least say that the process itself was fun and I learned and had fun along the way by learning different things. Maybe one day, I will meet Dr. Berman and treat him to his dish that he enjoys which a pastrami sandwich on rye bread.

By the way, I don't detect any condescension from you whatsoever. I feel you talk to me with respect and I appreciate this. It is a rarity today. The people on here are intelligent and have a brain. It is easy to have a thought provoking discussion on here.

If nothing else I will just write a sci-fi novel or two and eat lots of Turkey Sandwiches with lots of gooey mayo, chips and a drink. Like Dr. Berman, I hope there is lots of deli meat in the future.

Megan, you said you're 43. You're not that old. I am nine years younger than you.

8:35 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Gd 4u! Just remember that the Enlightenment believed that logic, science, and reason were the keys to utopia, and the result was largely a disaster.


Teshekur ederim (thank you, in Turkish). Not eager to, frankly; Cenk is a nice guy, but he interviewed me without having read my work, thus misunderstood what WAF was about, and was aggressive from the get-go. It doesn't make for a fun experience, and if things aren't fun these days, I just don't do them.


10:06 AM  
Anonymous Smith said...

Berman, I disagree with you on this point.

I believe the Enlightenment didn't cause a disaster, because we never even tried the Enlightenment. At least, we never applied it to the whole of society; it was really only a few people who pursued reason and thought. I think you actually said so yourself, once, when you were citing data on Americans believing in UFOs, or most of them hating Darwin, or most of them being unable to figure out who our allies were in World War II, or most of them not knowing who we fought in the Revolutionary War, etc.

Most Americans couldn't even give you an accurate definition of what science is these days, and whenever somebody proposes teaching critical thinking methods in school, "reason" is usually dismissed as an "evil intellectual Commie plot."

Heck, think of that guy, I forget his name, you had to ban from your blog because he blew up at you for asking him to try to analyze a poem.

For this reason, I don't think that we're in trouble because we're a bunch of science-worshipers.

As Chris Hedges has recently said, most Americans do not read. Do not read, with a period at the end. Not that they read the Bible, or that they read Einstein, not that they read the tabloids...most Americans do not read, PERIOD.

Susan Jacoby recently released a book in which she documents stupidity, and she cited a news article in which a couple of Congressmen bragged that they had never finished a book since they left high school. Or maybe it was since they left college, I forget.

In my opinion, what actually caused the disaster was the backlash against the Enlightenment.

We ran away from thinking because thinking required too much from us. We ran into business, consumerism, money, reality TV, patriotism/nationalism, tribalism, etc.

Heck, how can the Enlightenment have caused a disaster when most Americans don't even know what it was?

However, I acknowledge that there was a correlation between the Enlightenment and the consumerism that came after it, which is where I think your argument is coming from, but that doesn't always imply causation. Ad hoc ergo propter hoc, meaning "After this therefore because of this", in my opinion.

I dunno, we're here discussing the collapse of the American empire, and that collapse is because of American stupidity and obsession with Kim Kardashian's ass. It seems weird to me to blame that stupidity on reason and thought.

10:33 AM  
Blogger GregJS said...

Cube & Megan,
Thinking 100’s or 1000’s of years ahead could, as Megan suggests, be an escape into abstraction and disconnection from reality. That possibility is always worth considering –it’s pretty much our culture’s default mode. But it isn’t necessarily that. It could also be an exceptionally sober, mature, large perspective to take – breaking the confines of the short-sighted, self-centered, false, immature here-and-nowness of the modern, hustling mentality. So I say let’s give Cube the benefit of the doubt here. (And I say this at the ripe old age of 45 – two whole years older and wiser than you, Megan! – although I’m pretty much a poster child for immaturity.)

With that said, I have my own caution along similar lines, but aimed instead at the urge to build a way of life with so much emphasis on rational belief. To me, this (more than thinking into the distant future) is what could easily become a way of unwittingly recreating the perverse, degraded mentality you are hoping to get away from, with its massive disconnection from authentic, visceral feeling. My sense is that only people grounded in their concrete, felt experience can build a truly life-affirming – and truly rational-logical – way of life; one that takes all aspects of life into account in a balanced, integrated way. As I see it, that’s the “job” of feeling. The rational mind, operating in isolation from feeling (as it so often does in our world), never gets this right, no matter how much it tries to correct its own beliefs. No truly rational structure starts with and rests on rationality alone. That’d be the ultimate form of “bad belief” and would lead to…exactly the mess we’re in now. So I just hope the culture you envision is grounded in felt reality and builds from there – and doesn’t carry the seed of disconnection another 1000 years into the future. We’ve had plenty enough already.

Also, I’d suggest that human nature is not innately screwed up and doesn’t need “circumventing.” As hunter-gatherers well grounded in feeling, we were more or less sane and healthy. From this perspective, human nature is something we need to recover, not circumvent.

Still, I give you the benefit of the doubt here as well, Cube. Maybe being grounded in feeling is what you meant by “spiritual” – although in our culture spirituality too is usually turned into yet another means of disconnection. So I guess I feel it’s worth expressing this caution precisely because our culture’s disconnection from feeling has such a sneaky-sneaky way of sneaking back into every “solution” we propose – i.e., the enlightenment, i.e., countless forms of spirituality, etc., etc.

12:16 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


A gd pt, but the US certainly did try to apply Enlightenment principles at various pts: F.W. Taylor wd be an excellent example, and he was certainly a disaster. The French Rev did, and so did the Soviet Union. But I'm hardly blaming stupidity on reason and thought--how did you come to that conclusion? It's a much more complex and nuanced picture.

You do have a tendency 2c things in B&W, and then get excited about your position (something that makes u feel gd, I understand). Also, to be contrarian for its own sake (ditto). ("I hate to be devil's advocate here..." Who are u kidding? You *love* it!) I have the feeling Wafers cd say abs. anything--the moon is made of Gouda cheese, e.g.--and you'd jump up and down and tell us No, it's Emmanthal. I think it might be a gd idea if you examined yr motives; yr critiques don't seem to come out of a thoughtful place, or a truly honest one, as far as I can make out. The day you get tired of critique for critique's sake, there will be a new, improved, and much larger Smith, I'm guessing.


12:22 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


A gd pt, but the US certainly did try to apply Enlightenment principles at various pts: F.W. Taylor wd be an excellent example, and he was certainly a disaster. The French Rev did, and so did the Soviet Union. But I'm hardly blaming stupidity on reason and thought--how did you come to that conclusion? It's a much more complex and nuanced picture.

You do have a tendency 2c things in B&W, and then get excited about your position (something that makes u feel gd, I understand). Also, to be contrarian for its own sake (ditto). ("I hate to be devil's advocate here..." Who are u kidding? You *love* it!) I have the feeling Wafers cd say abs. anything--the moon is made of Gouda cheese, e.g.--and you'd jump up and down and tell us No, it's Emmanthal. I think it might be a gd idea if you examined yr motives; yr critiques don't seem to come out of a thoughtful place, or a truly honest one, as far as I can make out. The day you get tired of critique for critique's sake, there will be a new, improved, and much larger Smith, I'm guessing.


12:22 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: There will be a lot of existential strain involved, if u go that route; it won't be easy. Gd luck!

12:24 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Yrs ago I had a colleague who said that there were two forms of barbarism: complete rationality, and complete irrationality. (Nazism was the attempt to combine both; see Jeffrey Herf.)

Meanwhile, why ask questions when u can just kill?:


Ah yes, as the Beatles said, It's getting betta all the time...


12:36 PM  
Anonymous Megan said...

Cube, Smith, GregJS,

First, Cube, thanks for saying I'm not that old--that's very nice of you!

Second, I think that the Enlightenment's impact on American culture is seen primarily in the form of what is called "instrumental reason"(more often than not, the "bad" kind of reason), rather than in the form of the "good Enlightenment" reason(critical thinking, belief in personal dignity, the fight against unjust and oppressive institutions, etc.) Thus, we are extremely clever when it comes to sending probes to Mars, building complex computers, and so on. Which is fine as far as it goes. Nevertheless, since the "good Enlightenment" has largely passed us by, we are as illiterate and underdeveloped as ever in the human sense--all of our sophisticated technological gadgets notwithstanding.

Of course, I'm not sure if I'm quoting Dr. Berman or Adorno, but you get the point! I would only add, my good Mr. Smith, that one doesn't need to be a "Darwin hater" or "evolution denier" to oppose the vulgar and heavy-handed scientism of people like Dawkins and Co.-- or the naive and rabble rousing approach of the New Atheists. But that's a discussion for another day!

5:27 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Yes, I do discuss gd vs. bad Enlightenment in the Twilight bk, tho Frankfurt Schl was my inspiration.


5:59 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and Wafers,


Go easy on the mayo... unless it's in the cole slaw.


Many thanks for posting Guy McPherson's talk. I listened to every single word and was quite taken by what he had to say. In particular, I was surprised to hear of the unheeded warnings about fossil fuel burning and climate change calculations that were made in the mid-19th century. The realization that it could be *game over* (and very quickly at that) with the release of Arctic Ocean methane is also too terrifying to contemplate to say the least.

McPherson has the courage to admit what many will not (i.e., that we may not have what it takes in wisdom, willpower, or long term thinking to intervene and arrest, what seems like, the methodical destruction and ruination of the planet). He deserves great credit for confronting reality and asking challenging and uncomfortable questions. Anyway, thanks again Shep and have fun pickin' your mandolin...

MB, Wafers-

Please allow me to add a correction to my previous post regarding Lorenzo and Latreasa's recent discovery of a campaign manager for their 2016 Presidential run. I'd forgotten that MB landed that job; his "wuv" of L&L so great that he felt compelled to manage their campaign. That being said, I certainly would not want to deny MB the pleasure of this experience...



6:41 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Home of the Brave Dept.:


7:27 PM  
Anonymous Lubavitcher Ribeye said...

Hello Dr. Berman,

New WAFer here, I just wanted to thank you for your insight and taking the time to clarify your theses with your readers on this site.

The "70% of Americans don't know what the Constitution is" polls are distressingly common but have been surprisingly steady over the last hundred+ years. Do you think that our levels of stupidity have significantly increased, or that hustling has increased with it and pure indifference to anything of importance?

I'm fascinated by hustling. It's everywhere, it permeates our schools and our media, and the only people who notice have turned it into a virtue.

What do you think the role of religion is in remedying the problem (at least for the individual)? I've personally found many Rabbis not only treading the line between conservative fundamentalism and liberal whateverism but elegantly dancing on it and teaching others to do the same. Where does the anti-hustling impulse come from? Many thanks.

8:36 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Welcome to the blog. Pls start posting under 199, however, as nobody reads the older stuff. Rabbi thugs and hustlers are everywhere:


Anti-hustling: you learn it from family role models. I had some great ones.

As for data on dumbness: no comparison, today vs. 1960; stats are clear on that.

Keep yr eye on the rib, boychik.


9:20 PM  
Blogger Tax35 said...

I am new to this whole Blog thing and Morris Berman. I read his book Twilight of American Culture and am reading Dark Ages America now. I find it interesting and fully agree with the symptoms described. I also agree that civil liberties under a full court press, let alone the body politic voting the fisc. I guess I am trying to reconcile everything in my mind, having just re-read Alexis De Tocqueville, Democracy in America (translated by Arthur Goldhammer). It seems to me that the symptoms Mr. Morris describes are the logical end results of Democracy (or in our case representative republic)that De Tocqueville predicts. Any thoughts/insight would be greatly appreciated.

Just to be clear, I ascribe to the Groucho Marx view of politics, "I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member".

9:15 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Welcome to the blog. Here are a few pointers to help you:

1. Post only once every 24 hrs. Don't send in multiple postings.
2. Send message to most recent blog post; no one reads the old ones.
3. Do not call me Mr. Morris.
4. Glad to hear yr a Marxist.


10:06 PM  

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