January 09, 2016

McFarland, USA

It occasionally bothered me that I had lived for a number of years in Mexico and had published several books, none of which were about the country in which I was living. Indeed, I had spent 2011-14 sweating over a long, fairly complicated cultural analysis of Japan. Recently, I was asked to give a talk to the sales personnel at the book chain Gandhi, in Mexico City (Mexico’s equivalent of Barnes & Noble), about my work, and in the question-and-answer period that followed one member of the audience asked me how it was that I hadn't written about my adopted country. I felt somewhat guilty.

"You're right," I replied; "I have no excuse. After all, I've been here for nine years. Maybe next year I'll move to Tokyo and write a book about Mexico."

Ha ha. Everybody laughed. But it may not be all that funny, and the question, as in the past, nagged at me. It might have been that I felt I had nothing new to say about Mexico, about which so much has been written. I mean, was I seriously going to rehash Cortés, sincretismo, Lázaro Cárdenas, and the emergence of the modern state? It didn't really appeal.

And yet, thinking I had nothing new to say didn't stop me in the case of Japan (and as it turned out, I was wrong); and in that case, I couldn't even read the language. So what was the problem? I kept scratching my head until, quite by accident (or synchronicity?), I happened to see a Kevin Costner film called McFarland, USA, released in the United States early in 2015. While not a documentary, the film is a true story, about a football coach named Jim White who accepted a position at the local high school of a dreary, 100%-Hispanic town in the Central (San Joaquin) Valley of California in 1987. He hated it, and took the job only because he had no other options. His students typically got up at 4:30 a.m. and worked as fruit and vegetable pickers—backbreaking labor for miserable wages—after which, at around 8 a.m., they went off to school. All Jim White wanted was the American Dream: to get out of this low-paying job and move up the socioeconomic ladder. The tension in the story, and its central theme, revolves around the Mexican/Chicano vs. US value-systems, i.e. warmth (the traditional Hispanic family structure and culture) vs. power (the go-go world of US capitalism).

But this tension, I realized, was an old theme for me, going back to 1981: The Reenchantment of the World, a study of the collapse of the magical tradition in Western Europe and the concomitant rise of modern science. Much of my book on Japan, for example, is an exploration of the conflict between the ancient Zen craft tradition and the imposition of modern US values that had eventually turned the country into an economic powerhouse at the cost of driving the Japanese people somewhat crazy (hence the title, Neurotic Beauty). Was Mexico so different? As the film ended, I recalled the words of Porfirio Díaz, that Mexico's problem was that it was tan cerca de los Estados Unidos, i.e. too close to the United States, and also a study by Professor William Vega at the University of California, Berkeley, which revealed that the rate of mental illness among Mexicans living in the US was almost exactly twice that of Mexicans living in Mexico. The theme of modernity vs. tradition is a very rich one, representing a conflict with no easy answers, and which is not likely to get resolved any time soon. Was it perhaps time for me to be examining it in a Mexican context? Had I finally found the topic of my "Mexico book"? Let me, then, talk a bit about the Costner movie, and the questions that I think it raises.

Of course, "Mr. White" is a rather ironic name for an American who moves into an all-Hispanic town, and in fact his students take to calling him "Blanco." Everything is alien to the White family: the language, the food, the entire way of life. Upon arriving at the house they have rented, they find a mural painted on the wall of the living room, of a beautiful indígena woman, a Mother Earth archetype, holding out a platter of fruit and vegetables and surrounded by flowers—a symbol of nurturing, sustenance, female wisdom. White's reaction is, "Paint store, first thing tomorrow!" Going to the only diner in town, they don't know what chorizo is, or what enchiladas are, and play it safe with tacos, which they presumably are familiar with from Taco Bell. And so on. It's as though they are walking across the surface of the moon.

White, in any case, discovers that while the football team is basically useless, not having won a game in decades, the school has a number of kids who can run like the wind, and so persuades the principal to launch a cross-country running team. In a series of endearing adventures, he whips his charges into shape, until they actually win the first annual cross-country state championship. (In real life, White coached his teams to victory 9 out of 14 times between 1987 and 2001.) He also gets the boys to start thinking about college, so that they don't have to remain pickers for nothing wages all their lives; and in fact all 7 of the boys (on the 1987 team) went on to graduate college and become teachers, coaches, policemen, and so on—solid middle-class jobs. The dirt-poor Chicanos, with White's help, thus make it into El sueño americano, the American Dream.

The impact White has on these kids is actually quite significant. For what was the alternative to the American Dream, if not stagnation, poverty, or worse? As one of the other teachers says to White, pointing to the building next door to the school, "That's the town prison. Handy, no?" But a few months later, she comes to White's office to read him a poem written by one of his runners, José Cárdenas (who later became a writer for the Los Angeles Times):

"We fly like blackbirds through the orange groves/floating on a warm wind./When we run, we own the earth;/the land is ours./We speak the birds' language,/immigrants no more./Not stupid Mexicans./When we run, our spirits fly./We speak to the gods./When we run, we are the gods."

"Welcome to McFarland, Blanco," she says to White.

White takes the boys to the ocean for the first time in their lives, and he gives them a sense of pride. "You kids have the biggest hearts I've ever seen," he tells them. And they begin to see themselves that way as well, and to open their minds to the wider world.

It's all very moving, and perhaps a bit too romantic—the film was made by the Disney Corporation, after all—and falls into the very successful Hollywood category known as the "White Savior" genre. Kevin Costner is hardly new to this role, having played it brilliantly many years ago in Dances with Wolves, in which he protects a branch of the Sioux Indians from an American Army intent on destroying them, and from which he deserted. (In the wake of the film, the Sioux Nation adopted him as an honorary member of the tribe.) The criticism of this genre is that it is patronizing: in order for the "natives" to be saved, a white male (usually) figure has to come in from the outside and organize/liberate them, since (the implication is) they would not be able to do this for themselves. (See also The Last Samurai, Avatar, and a whole host of American inner-city schoolteacher films.) However, a crucial element in most of the White Savior films is that the Savior himself gets saved, gets liberated in the process. Thus at the same time that Jim White's students enter the American Dream, he himself finds reason to reject it in favor of the lifestyle and values of traditional Mexican society. To my mind, this redeems the film (as well as White), and highlights the conflict of traditional vs. modern cultures. Let's look at a few examples from the movie.

-The mural of the Great Mother painted on the wall, which White said he would paint over. When he finally gets around to doing it, several weeks later, entering the room with two buckets of paint, his younger daughter tells him, "Don't even think about it." Clearly, the image has begun to percolate through the family's consciousness. (Compare this with the Starbucks computer-generated logo of the Great Mother archetype, which is nothing more than an empty corporate image. Sad to say, many Mexicans have bought into this trendy US lifestyle, sitting in cafés that have spread across Mexico like a cancer, hypnotically staring into their laptops, and drinking bad, overpriced coffee. Progress?)

-The town embraces the White family. A neighbor gives Jim a chicken. The Díaz family has him over to dinner, stuffs him with enchiladas, and gives him food to take home. "You are not family unless you eat with them," Sra. Díaz tells him. (Do even 10% of US families eat together anymore?)

-Over and over we see the town engaged in group rather than individual activities, such as a combination car wash and tamale sale, that the White family is drawn into.

-The town makes a quinceañera (coming-of-age party for girls) for Julie, Jim's older daughter, which overwhelms him, emotionally. "Gracias por todo," he tearfully announces in Spanish, to all who attended the event.

-Meanwhile, Jim comes to the attention of a rich white high school in Palo Alto, which offers him a coaching job. One of his runners finds out (from Julie, who is not happy about this), and confronts him about it: "Were you going to even tell us?" he asks, "or were you going to just run off into the sunset with those country club kids? We all get it: This is America. Gotta go bigger. Nicer place, better pay; everyone's always gonna go for the better everything. There ain't nothing American Dream about McFarland."

Jim says to his wife, regarding the job offer: "This is the situation we've always dreamed about." His wife replies: "Think of everything the town has done for us. They have protected Julie like family. You think we are going to find that in Palo Alto, or anywhere else [in the US] for that matter? Nowhere I've ever lived has felt this much like home."

-Then come the state playoffs, and Jim leads the opening cheer for the team—in Spanish: "Uno, dos, tres, McFarland!" he cries. After the match, he tells the recruiter from Palo Alto that he won't be taking the job. Jim White lives in McFarland to this day.

The psychologist Fritz Perls liked to tell the story of a Mexican farm worker who swam across the Rio Grande in search of work. Come Christmas, he swam back to visit his family, who wanted to know all about life in the mythical United States. "Well," he tells them, "the gringos are actually very nice people. There is only one thing that gets them angry: they don't like to be reminded that they are corpses."

And so the flip side of the White Savior, who breaks open a closed, dead-end life for his students, so that they can enter the American Dream, is that Jim himself becomes disenchanted with that super-individualistic, alienating dream, in which people are turned into the walking dead. He becomes, in other words, a human being.

Of course, a lot of Mexican life gets omitted from this picture. My neighbors across the street from me in Mexico are cold and rude, and used to toss their garbage off their balcony down to my front door, until a series of hostile exchanges put an end to it (more or less). In terms of being supportive as regards success, a Mexican friend told me that the society is like a pot of crabs: if one of them manages to get to the top and tries to climb out, the others pull him back down. (One of the runners' fathers in the film reacts to his son's desire to go to college by telling him, "No one needs a book in the fields".) Reviewing McFarland, the New York Times wrote that places like McFarland are often "nightmares of crime and dysfunction," and that the film is really "a slick and safe Disney version of a fascinating and complicated reality." If the movie expresses an important truth in terms of a conflict of values, it also papers over the dark side of traditional societies as well.

As for the American Dream: it works, in this film, but by and large it is a con, as Mexicans coming up to the US (legally or illegally) eventually find out. There is the study by William Vega, mentioned above, which surely says a lot about how psychologically damaging US culture is for Mexican immigrants. And what jobs are available to them, in any case? I am reminded of that song from West Side Story, "America," in which the Puerto Ricans say that now they are free—"to wait tables and shine shoes." It goes on:

"Skyscrapers bloom in America/Cadillacs zoom in America/Industry boom in America/Twelve in a room in America!" (Etc.)

In fact, it turns out that a rather heavy reverse migration has set in, such that between 2005 and 2010, 1.4 million immigrants moved back to Mexico from the US, and 90% of these voluntarily. According to Alysa Hullett, an American reporter living in Oaxaca, these folks are lonely and miss their own culture. One immigrant she interviewed in Washington State complained that it took him eight months to meet his neighbors, whereas in Mexico City, “the whole street piles into one house for dinner.” Clearly, things have changed. A 2014 Pew Research Center survey discovered that 65% of Mexicans say they would not move to the US if they had the means and opportunity to do so.

Surely, values must have a lot to do with this. At around the same time that Jim White was coaching his cross-country team in McFarland, Kevin Conway, owner of one of the largest farming operations in the San Joaquin Valley, was telling the American anthropologist Daniel Rothenberg:

“We’re in business to make money and bankrupt our competitors. That’s why we exist. We don’t exist for the benefit of the farming community. We don’t give a damn about the farming community. We don’t believe in promoting agriculture in general, so that all may benefit. We believe in promoting our label.”

A pretty good summary of the American ethos, it seems to me: life is about me, myself, and I; about making money, and not much else. This is the stark reality that the Mexican immigrant encounters.

As Rothenberg documents it in his book With These Hands, Mexican workers come up to the United States with images in their head of the country as a type of paradise: they are going to make a fortune up north and then return home and live like kings. It’s not a total fantasy: material life has improved for many towns in Mexico, as a result of migrant labor. But what most migrants typically get caught up in is a system of brutal exploitation—among the worst faced by the American working class. They often live in shantytowns, work 14 to 16 hours a day, make very little money, have their wages stolen from them, and are frequently subject to severe physical violence. Over the years there has been a lot of legislation attempting to curb these abuses, but as Rothenberg notes, given the “floating” nature of the farm labor system, these laws are very difficult to enforce.

There is also a heavy social and psychological cost in terms of value systems, according to Rothenberg. In Michoacán, Rodolfo Gutierrez, a student at a local university, told him: “I know a lot of guys from here who’ve gone north and returned really different, really cholo. They change—their personalities, their ideas, their clothes—their whole way of being. When they come back, they don’t show their parents the same respect.”

Also in Michoacán, Alberto Mosquera, a priest-in-training, said of the migrants that they “often lose their sense of community obligation. Their goals become individualistic and their attitudes become characteristic of North American culture. The men invest in their homes, but not in their community.”

The larger picture is that the imposition of neoliberal economics, and the American Dream, on traditional societies—whether we are talking about India, or Mexico, or Japan—allows a certain sliver of the middle class to rise to near-elite status, but at the expense of the rest of the population, and this then tears at the fabric of those societies. During the first two years of President Peña Nieto's sexenia (2012-14), 2 million more Mexicans fell below the poverty line, and Carlos Slim's personal wealth is equal to something like the combined wealth of the bottom 17 million people. This is the real upshot of the "meritocratic society," that the gap between rich and poor gets greater, not less, despite all the hype. Social mobility is largely an illusion, and certainly in the United States, which has nearly the lowest rate of social mobility among all the industrialized nations in the world, if not actually the lowest.

As for tradition vs. modernity, Oxford professor Terry Eagleton has this to say in his brilliant essay, The Illusions of Postmodernism:

"'Traditional' or pre-modern societies have a great many merits which our own set-ups lack...On the whole they have a richer sense of place, community and tradition, less social anomie, less cut-throat competition and tormented ambition, less subjection to a ruthlessly instrumental rationality and so on. On the other hand...they are often desperately impoverished, culturally claustrophobic, socially hidebound and patriarchal, and without much sense of the autonomous individual. Modernity has precisely such a sense of free individual development, with all the spiritual wealth that this brings with it; it also begins to hatch notions of human equality and universal rights largely unknown to its forebears. But we also know that this is the more civilized face of a barbarous uncaring order, one which sunders all significant relations between its members, deprives them of precious symbolic resources and persuades them to mistake the means of life for the ends of it." (Italics mine)

All I can conclude, at this point in time, is that too much traditionalism—what anthropologists call "hypercoherence"—leads to stagnation, and too much individualism and enterprise leads to chaos and alienation. Balance is finally the issue, which is one thing I took away from McFarland. In terms of values, Jim White was living at one extreme, his students at another. The collision of the two ways of life modified both, for the better. The real question is what this might mean on a larger political scale. For surely, to have nearly half the country stuck in poverty, while a small elite pursues the American Dream, can in no way be called "balance." It is, in fact, a disaster, and confronts us with a question that I, as a foreigner who has made Mexico his home, think about quite often: What would true success for Mexico be, and how is it to be achieved?

©Morris Berman, 2015


Anonymous Pastrami and Coleslaw said...

"workers come up to the United States with images in their head of the country as a type of paradise..." As someone who, for the most part, hates living in the US, I've always wondered why so many people come here with this idea in their head. I meet a lot of ex-pats (mostly English and Irish, but plenty from parts South) watching soccer and rugby and invariably the answer is the same, a shrug and "A Job."

Anyway, thanks for the essay and sorry about that dig in the last post.

3:35 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Being an immigrant from Ethiopia and living around allot of immigrants I can relate to the Mexicans . I was so obsessed with hustling like the Blancos I lost my religion my 2000 plus years culture and tradition and bond with my family. My hustling didn't get me much just an efficiency apt, a 2000 dollars car and walmArt clothes. After years of hustling I realized the American Dream is an illusion. I was chasing a ghost. EventuLly I became depressed because I had nothing to live for . I couldn't go back to my Ethiopian roots, since I got used to the hustling culture my roots seemed alien to me. Now I'm living with my Ethiopian family and assimilating back to my roots and saving money to go back to my homeland. Sometimes I think I was just a shitty hustler. I see allot of immigrants from Africa hustling and chasing the American Dream . I feel sorry for them because they don't know the truth. Like the Mexican community mental illness and feeling of not knowing who u are is a big problem with African immigrants. If somebody like me tells them they are chasing a ghost . They well be called lazy or " brother this is not Africa". Not just Africans, immigrants from all over the world are ashamed of their ancient cultures and traditional values. They want to be Americans. My problem with this is America is dying and they are going to die with America . To many immigrants are destroying themselves just so they can drive a Honda and shop at Walmart .

3:59 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Thank you for your personal input, much appreciated. Somebody--me? (I can't remember)--once called the American Dream "The Greatest Story Ever Sold." It is, indeed, an incredible scam; as you point out, a Faustian bargain. Many yrs ago Octavio Paz wrote that the problem is that one cannot just tell developing countries, "You don't want this." This will not work. Apparently, they hafta go after the North American defn of 'progress' to see for themselves the emptiness on the other side of it; meanwhile, a lot is lost. Paz didn't have an answer to this, and my own answer is that the system will crash during this century, demonstrating the futility of this way of life. Indeed, I regard that crash or disintegration as the essential story of the 21C. But it's going to take time to play itself out.

There are a # of interesting dimensions to this. Yrs ago, in "An All-Consuming Century," Gary Cross argued that since we seem to need large belief-systems, consumerism was beneficial in that it was a whole lot better than the other 20C alternatives, viz. communism and fascism; and that if the West didn't have consumerism, it wd have opted for something like those systems. But consumerism on the individual level is neoliberalism and imperialism on the macro-level, and the result is not pretty: destruction of basic human values, of the planet, of any meaning whatsoever. Now we have 'capitalism on steroids'--cell phones--with spiritually impoverished people fingering these things like rosaries. It's pretty pathetic. True, it doesn't have the horror of communism or fascism (the Orwell model); instead, it's the floating into nothingness, or what might be called soft fascism (the Huxley model). Gene Genovese called it "affluent depravity."

Dual Process, as I've discussed on this blog, might save us, but it will hafta be accompanied by the breaking up of empires, of large-scale socioeconomic formations. The issue of scale is crucial, in other words; we need to live local, decentralized lives.

Interesting, Bobby Fischer's last words--coming from a man who spent his entire life in his head: "Nothing is as healing as the human touch." No shit.


4:43 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Sorry, wasn't able to post yr follow-up comment. Informal rule here: post only once every 24 hrs. So you just need to wait a day, thanks.


6:52 PM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

Just wanted to clear something up as I obviously touched a nerve with my comment on the last thread about how having a gun fetish is a form of mental illness. Notice that it went completely over the head of the commenters who took me to task that I did NOT say that all gun owners are mental ill, and I also stated that I have plenty of experience with firearms myself. I also gave sensible advice to a commenter who is thinking of purchasing a gun and did not condemn them for wanting to do so. The key phrase in my post was gun FETISH--in other words someone who is so in love with the idea of owning a gun that they become completely irrational on the subject despite the overwhelming evidence that thousands of Americans are being slaughtered every year because of this country's inability to enact even the most sensible gun control measures.

Of course, the touchiness of many gun owners whenever anyone dares to criticized Americans' unfettered access to guns is a prime example of how America has reached the point where little children can be executed in their own elementary school classroom and the streets are being turned into an everyday version of the OK Corral.

Anyway, I'm not going to argue the issue any further as it is clearly pointless to debate people whose minds are so obviously closed.

7:57 PM  
Anonymous Marianne said...

What an engaging piece. Just reading your descriptions of Mexican people, their traditions, warmth and generosity brings back the whole sense of how I feel when my plane touches down in Mexico. Coming from the states the change is palpable.

I've lived in California all my life, grew up and went to school with Mexican kids and always felt the similarity between them and my Italian family. Your last question got me thinking. What would true success for Mexico be, and how is it to be achieved?

I taught Focusing in Mexico for maybe 10 years. In a 25 year career of teaching this process I don't remember anyone 'getting it' as quickly and thoroughly as they did in Mexico. I've lost contact now but remember centers were started in DF and a couple of other places. The eagerness with which they absorbed this process was heartening. Thanks for a great article.

Gunn Hi School in Palo Alto sounds like Blanco's offer. Just recently I learned Gunn has the highest suicide rate of any school in the area. It's students come from families that are exemplars of the American Dream.


8:50 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Somebody posted a comment and it seems to have gotten lost. Can't remember much...The Guardian, vibrators, whatever. Anyway, 1000 apologies, and whoever posted it, pls re-send message, and I'll try not to screw up this time.


Thanks for sharing yr personal experience. Not a surprise that Mexicans 'got' focusing. It's kind of amusing, the whole Human Potential movement, wh/basically consisted of trying to get Americans to become human beings, i.e. be able to feel and emote like most cultures on the planet do as a matter of course. When Mother Teresa referred to the terrible spiritual poverty she found in the US, she knew what she was talking abt. Imagine a movement of social/psychological engineering, designed to teach spiritually damaged people how to be human.

There's a lot I cd say abt the diffs between Mexicans and gringos, and in 9 yrs I've accumulated so many examples (usually, several times a wk) that I've forgotten most of them (I didn't take notes). The Mexicans themselves don't seem to understand this--or at least, many don't--and probably think I'm daft, as a result. But let me give you my most recent encounter with this phenomenon, which is a perfect example of what I'm talking abt. Xmas eve = Xmas dinner in Mexico; I spent it w/my Mexican family. One person there was a guy named Jose (not his real name), a friend of the family, who is an albanil, a construction worker. I've known him for a # of yrs. He's not an intellectual, and is just yr basic sorta guy. In the course of the evening, he asked me what I was currently working on, how my lectures in Chile went, and so on. He even asked me what I thought of the Muslim threat, how real it was, whether I thought Trump might become a presidential candidate, etc. So, not an intellectual (wh/is fine by me), but intelligent. I in turn asked him abt his latest building projects, where he was working these days, and what he thought the outlook was for his line of work. Jose is silent a lot of the time, but talks when he has something to say. Courteous, thoughtful.

The next day I went back to the house, and Jose was still there (he had slept over), along with some gringo I vaguely know, whom I'll call Joe Blow. It was an amazing performance: Joe talked nonstop thru the entire lunch, sort of like a parrot w/a vibrator up its ass. The talk consisted of the most superficial crap imaginable--what parties were going on, how many enchiladas he recently ate, that sort of thing. As for dialogue: an unknown concept, to J.B. He never once asked any of us a question abt ourselves, or said anything meaningful abt himself; we cd have all been cardboard cutouts, for all he was aware. It was like having lunch w/a machine gun. I got out as quickly as I reasonably cd.

Unlike Jose, Joe had a university education, held down a professional job in the US. Big deal. I have occasionally said that Americans are not really human beings; they are just jokes, dressed up to look like human beings. Perhaps Joe is an extreme, I don't know; I've just met so many Joes in my life, and I can say that to a great degree, this behavior is quite common among my fellow countrymen. The lack of self-awareness is absolutely dazzling. The Human Potential movement began in an attempt to change this, to turn Joes into Joses. It failed.


10:05 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

File this under Delusional Horseshit:


Wafers are encouraged to come up with an alternate SOTU for Obama. E.g.:

"The truth is that I came into office with no vision for America at all. I'm basically an empty person, a zero, and I got filled with the agendas of the Pentagon, Wall St., and the corporations. I'm little more than a war criminal, and a shill for those organizations. I presided over a genocidal plutocracy, which I actively promoted. We are far worse off now than when I took office, and no matter who succeeds me, America's future is bleak. Rotten cultures produce rotten leaders; this is only to be expected. I exemplify that truism. God Bless America!"

12:40 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I just discovered that yr lost message went to the post on CTOS, which is why it got lost. Always best to send messages to most recent post; no one reads the old ones. Thanks.


7:20 AM  
Anonymous Edward said...

Dr B - please educate us why Mexico has two presidentos:

"Flash frame: Why is this a paradox? It's paradoxical because today's Mexico has, in effect, two presidents. And among those two presidents, it is not Peña Nieto who Espinoza and I were planning to see as we'd spoken in whispered code upstairs. It is not he who necessitated weeks of clandestine planning. Instead, it's a man of about my age, though absent any human calculus that may provide us a sense of anchored commonality. At four years old, in '64, I was digging for imaginary treasures, unneeded, in my parents' middleclass American backyard while he was hand-drawing fantasy pesos that, if real, might be the only path for he and his family to dream beyond peasant farming. And while I was surfing the waves of Malibu at age nine, he was already working in the marijuana and poppy fields of the remote mountains of Sinaloa, Mexico. Today, he runs the biggest international drug cartel the world has ever known, exceeding even that of Pablo Escobar. He shops and ships by some estimates more than half of all the cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana that come into the United States.

They call him El Chapo. Or "Shorty." Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera. The same El Chapo Guzman who only two months earlier had humiliated the Peña Nieto government and stunned the world with his extraordinary escape from Altiplano maximum-security prison through an impeccably engineered mile-long tunnel."


10:25 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Well, El Chapo is back in custody. In fact, I told my Mexican friends that he is currently staying in my house.

Why El Chapo, or narcotraficantes? Basically, because the US provides such a rich mkt for these drugs. And why is that? It's called the American Dream, which destroys the soul. So, Americans need to fill the hole with something, and apparently cell fones and Kim's ass are not enuf. Hence, El Chapo.



10:35 AM  
Anonymous David G. said...

I was thinking of making a two-week vacation in Mexico this spring. Have never been there, would like to experience it and practice my Spanish. But then I read the US State Dept. travel advisory, which gave some rather dire-sounding warnings about homicides, carjackings, etc. It said that the big-name tourist destinations were "safe" but to avoid driving around except on main toll highways. It also had some cryptic wording about US Government employees (which I am) not being allowed to drive around or go to certain cities and regions, even on personal travel. Well, this all dampened my enthusiasm. Is this a realistic picture, or is it American fear-mongering? Even if true -- that there are indeed some real safety risks -- what do I make of it all? I suppose it may be true that Mexico has these issues -- which are acute and in-your-face -- but then the US, while maybe not suffering from such obvious issues, has more chronic, under-the-surface problems, which ultimately perhaps are worse. Anyway, I would be interested in people's comments about the feasibility of us gringos touring Mexico.

11:58 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I love stuff like this, and generally, when gringos ask me abt coming down here, I tell 'em it's dangerous. In fact, the greatest danger to Mexico is gringos! The Americanization of this country has been a disaster for it.

Anyway, the annual homicide rate for Mexico City is the same as that for Wichita: 9 per 100,000. While I don't recommend hanging around the border states, a few yrs ago I was dating a woman who lived in Juarez, reputed to be the nation's most dangerous city, and I never felt scared when I visited her. I've traveled all over this country, and have certainly felt a lot safer here than in the US. But I'm glad the US Govt is putting out dire warnings; we certainly need to keep the gringos out.


12:14 PM  
Blogger Newton Finn said...

I periodically read WAF in a devotional sense to keep some connection with reality, which probably puts me in the same lifeboat as many of the readers of this blog. As an outsider looking in on Mexico(a dangerous place from which to form opinions) let me take a stab at exploring the questions posed about the country's future.

Perhaps the best model out there for a sane society, one that lacks the wealth of Scandinavia, is the Cuba that was able to sustain itself after the fall of the Soviet Union. The transition this country was forced to make in the area of food alone, moving from importer to producer in the space of only a few very difficult years, is a legend in the left wing of the environmental movement, despite the total suppression of the story in the MSM.

As much as my sympathies lie with more anarchist forms of government, as much as I believe that small is beautiful in the conduct of human affairs, I doubt that Cuba would have been able to survive this crisis and make this incredible transition without the iron fist of Fidel Castro. Indeed, without a strong, virtually dictatorial leader who happened to be a true believer in a "religious" form of communism, Cuba today would resemble Haiti or the DR or would have regressed to its prior condition of immiseration under Batista.

When you add in the almost complete absence of abject poverty and serious crime, the high level of education of the average citizen, the extraordinary number of doctors that Cuba creates and shares with other countries, etc., along with the lack of even a credible suggestion that Castro has pilfered public money, you can make the case that he will be considered by future historians (if we still have them around and are here ourselves to read them) as one of the political luminaries of our time.

What has this to do with Mexico? It points to what I believe to be perhaps the only way for that country to "develop" for its own citizens, as opposed to serving global financial and corporate interests at the citizens' expense. God I hate to say it, but Mexico may need its own Fidel Castro to seize control, sever the servile connections with America and the Western global economy, wipe out the drug cartels, and steer the country--yes, with an iron fist when necessary--toward the model that Cuba has provided to the world.

I hope I'm not violating a policy for posting here, and if I am, please forgive me, but here's a link to a recent article that more fully explains and supports a similar position with respect to recent South American political setbacks:


12:29 PM  
Blogger remo26 said...

I have followed this blog for several years. I had originally posted a long bio of my connection with mb's work a few years ago. After it was immediately deleted because of some technical glitch, I lost enthusiasm to retype it, and contented myself to remain a silent observer.I am trying again here now. Note this will probably be a longish post. I guess I will start with my comments on the post (part I), then give some background on myself (part II).

I was intrigued by Morris' synopsis of McFarland, it reminded me somewhat of my personal coming to terms with identity. Growing up as an American from Iraqi Jewish parents, I never fit in well with the classic American jewry image. I grew up totally secular, but with rich traditional customs from my grandparents - food, language, social interaction. It was much more similar to typical Arabic culture, which I was fond of for some time. Yet, there was a difference even though religion wasn't a centerpiece of my being. Later, exploring South American culture, I developed a deep fondness for the simplicity of being, life fixed in the present, the warmth of acceptance, and absence of feelings of awkwardness. I think these points are resonant in mb's comments on Mexico and McFarland. I also reflected on works like Time and the Art of Living by Grudin and The Mezzanine and Room Temperature by Nicholson Baker.

However, I was also sensitive to the White Savior comment. This stirred reflections of multicultural identity works such as Thinking Class by Joanna Kadi, Food for Our Grandmothers, as well as Savan's media critique in The Sponsored Life and Sorkin's treatment of public space in Variations on a Theme Park. The connection being the encroaching industrial sprawl on our sense of being. Living now in Israel, I see these issues in the Arab/Jewish divide, and the never-ending antagonism of the Mizrahi working class vs. the Ashkenazi elite. The 70s Panther movement and more recently the Arse rejectionist movement are illustrations have things haven't changed much. As a "member" of the intellectual elite who is also rooted in tradition, this dichotomy is challenging to maintain.

Thoughtful exposure of these burdening issues in Israel are captured in Ella Shohat's Unthinking Eurocentrism, and more recently in Rachel Shabi's We Look Like the Enemy. Like the protagonist in the Israeli 60s film Sallah Shabati, only the white (read Ashkenazi) savior can save these wretched folk from their mire.

When I think of empowering works that sidestep this Great White Hope theme, I am reminded of the Cosby/Poitier films (Uptown Saturday Night, Let's Do It Again, and of course, especially, A Piece of the Action) - redemption not only from within, but from within the community. Also, George Dennison's The Lives of Children really resonates as being part of the problem that needs repair, not being external to it.

I know this has been a lot of works as reference points, but I think it my way to jump in with context.


1:32 PM  
Blogger remo26 said...

Now for more about me (part II). I originally read Reenchantment as part of a course on Magic & Mysticism in Science in the late 80s at RPI in Troy, NY. As a chemistry major, it was very influential to expand my passion for science into the philosophical domain. It inspired me to read on my own Social Change and Scientific Organization. This combined with many other works including microhistory or social history like Le Roy Ladurie's Montaillou: The Promised Land of Error, Carlo Ginzburg's The Cheese and the Worms, and the seminal book by Carr called What is History? were extremely influential in forming a worldview which illustrated how we fall through the cracks unless we can leave a big enough streak to make us memorable.

However, I think the quintessential mb moment I had was after reading Coming to Our Senses. I was halfway into the dark tunnel of getting my Ph.D. in Chemical Physics, enjoying the sheer immersion in scientific endeavor, while convulsing to the machinations of the productivity cycle of live-or-die by funding/publication of timely, industrially-relevant basic research. For me, CtOS really struck a cord, especially the first 2 chapters as a foundation.

After being "successfully" recruited into a corporate R&D program, I pursued the corporate ladder, while being constantly resentful of its intrusion on my identity. After moving into business & technology strategy, and teaching in the financial district on innovation, I totally entered a crisis of identity. Not wanting to stay on the treadmill, I "jumped ship." I reacquainted myself with tradition through exploring the nexus of Judaism and science. I worked as a principal of Secular Studies in a Sefaradi Yeshivah and taught Arabic music scales to 1st-7th graders to keep some income going, while I studied Hebrew, laws, and philosophy.

At this time, I reapproached CtOS. I was never happy with the way it resolved itself in the final chapter - striving for horizontality. The ascension model is ripe for abuse, but horizontality which has its analogue in Asian music as mb points out, is not the only mode available. I will save expanding in detail on this for another post.

I know ... my argument is weak because I don't support what I am trying to get at. It reminded me of mb's recollection is some work that I read many years earlier. It was at a lecture by Hofstadter of Godel, Escher, Bach fame. The article quoted mb saying to one of his grad students, "I wonder what he thinks dreams are?" The student tears into the crowd to ask Hofstadter, returning out of breath saying, "I asked him." Mb retorted, "well what did he say." The students quips, "confused brain patterns."

In my reconciliation of my religious lifestyle with my secular upbringing and intellectual pursuits, I believe that these are not mutually exclusive. As an owner of a patent law firm, which operates as custom boutique service provider (which I find resonates with some of the yearnings described in Neurotic Beauty), I now have freedom to marry tradition with modernity under my own rules. This was partly initiated when I actually married some 13 yrs. ago to traditional Jewish woman who grew up in Iran for her youth, then emigrated to the US, and became a lawyer - my spiritual counterpart. While my family tried so hard to integrate into the American Dream and melting pot, her family (with business acumen in simple retail) were able to transplant and keep their traditions growing because their was no corporate bossman to look askance at the strange music, fearful language, and odd foods.

I will stop here. I didn't even mention mb's trilogy which I felt was so true from experiencing the pressure cooker from within. Now I fear that the hustlers are coming to take over the EU and the Middle East. There are many problems here that I struggle with on a daily basis, but still my local environment, my network of community is resilient, and stronger than what I had previously experienced.


1:38 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Thanks for all the personal info. I'm glad my work made a difference 4u, and sorry about that earlier computer glitch. That said, we have 2 informal rules on this blog:

1. Please don't post more than half a page in length at any one time;
2. Please post only once every 24 hrs.

Other than that: welcome!


1:54 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Can you imagine 8 yrs of this (grotesque) face? Get used to it!



1:56 PM  
Anonymous Patricia said...

MB and all Wafers,

"Can you imagine 8 yrs of this (grotesque) face? Get used to it!"

No, no, a thousand times NO!!!


5:18 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Clearly, Wafers need to get their urine together and find out the date and location of her next appearance. We owe it to the world.


5:47 PM  
Anonymous Bruce Bennett said...

Dr. Berman -

"The greatest story ever sold."

One of my comedy heroes, George Carlin, once said about it -
"The reason that they call it the "American Dream" is because you have to be asleep to believe it."

I would recommend that my fellow WAFers go to YouTube and enter "George Carlin modern man" and be treated to a brilliant barrage of trendy words and phrases that we use to describe (and I think lessen) ourselves in this consumerist, social-climbing, career-obsessed, materialist country we live in.
By the way, the late writer Joe Bageant, moved to Ajijic, a small town on Lake Chapala in central Mexico and he also described the simpler life that he found there with a greater sense of community.
As been said before the Latino communities generally attach greater meaning to accumulating "social capital" than financial capital.

7:23 PM  
Blogger Marc L Bernstein said...

Here's a WAFer of a different kind:


His name is Ken O'Keefe. I like the guy. He's sick of BS and so am I.

1:57 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Note to Patricia:

Here it is again, that ridiculous, terrifying face. We all need to get used to it:




4:50 AM  
Anonymous Marianne said...


Your question is it safe to travel in Mexico brings back a recent conversation I had with my son, David who is a travel writer. David has traveled the world visiting 137 countries, I think he said, and talked about his disgust at Americans always worried about foreign travel. The lack of travel experience combined with the frantic mass media selling fear and trepidation results in inexperienced Americans fear of travel anywhere, really.

I remember visiting Puebla several years ago for a friends; quinceanera and wondering why it was touted as the safest place to visit in Mexico. I learned many police live there protecting all the drug lords who also live in Puebla. So for starters Puebla is safe and I wouldn't worry about travel in the rest of Mexico either, but like MB says the fear tactics help keep the gringos out of the country and that's a good thing.


12:07 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

"We have now developed a culture in which ignorance is celebrated, perversely flaunted as a badge of pride."

From a piece written by Gettysburg College philosophy professor Daniel DeNicola, found here:


And from Carl Sagan:

"I have a foreboding of an America in my children's or grandchildren's time--when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish what feels good and what's true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness...

"The dumbing down of America is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance."

The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark (1995)

12:15 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,


So sorry u lost yr houseguest, El Chapo, MB. Nevertheless, I'm working on arranging a suitable replacement: Kate del Castillo.


5:03 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...


Please excuse this second post violation, but I feel compelled to respond to Marc's post.


I'm shocked and deeply disappointed that you would think Ken O'Keefe qualifies as a Wafer. Quite frankly, he is nothing more than a raving anti-Semite; trafficking in dangerous and grotesque conspiracy theories. The only thing noteworthy about this interview is in its vile and crude ugliness. Please reconsider yr support of this obvious hateful nonsense.


7:18 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jeff, Marc-

I dunno anything abt the guy, really, but here's the last line of his Wikipedia profile:

'In April 2015 O'Keefe gave a speech at the neo-nazi seminar, "The London Forum", at the Grosvenor Hotel.'

Not gd, obviously.


10:02 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


2 films I saw recently. "Duets" is a rather Waferian film that I think you guys might enjoy. "Results" is an odd, off-beat film that (for me) was redeemed by the final line, uttered by the central character: "I'm not a douche bag." (I kid u not.)


12:28 AM  
Blogger remo26 said...

With David Bowie passing, I was reminded of these words (from 1980's "Up The Hill Backwards")as being WAFerish. BTW, I think he was referring to China at the time.



The vacuum created by the arrival of freedom
And the possibilities it seems to offer
It's got nothing to do with you, if one can grasp it
It's got nothing to do with you, if one can grasp it

A series of shocks sneakers fall apart
Earth keeps on rolling witnesses falling
It's got nothing to do with you, if one can grasp it
It's got nothing to do with you, if one can grasp it

Yeah yeah yeah
Up the hill backwards
It'll be alright

While we sleep they go to work
We're legally crippled it's the death of love
It's got nothing to do with you, if one can grasp it
It's got nothing to do with you, if one can grasp it

More idols then realities
I'm okay, you're so so

Yeah yeah yeah
Up the hill backwards
It'll be alright

2:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Check this one out Wafers:

Bowie sang "All the Young Dudes", today it's "All the Young Douchebags". It's a nice example of an article being quite fierce, without stepping into rudeness re the discussion around "whore" in the previous post.


4:01 AM  
Anonymous cos said...

Marc's posting on O keefe,

I am a Jew and well these days I am very suspicious when people are labled an anti-semite or neo nazi. Did this O keefe fellow say he hates the jews or disagrees with policies of state of israel? Was this noe nazi event in london an actual neo nazi event or did somebody brand it as such? Notwithstanding using wikipedia, we should be slow to quick judgement based on 2nd hand internet info in age when Edward snowden is a traitor, Putin has invaded Ukraine, there are "moderate feedom fighters" kidnapping chuldren, Hillary is bright, Glen Greenwald is not a journalist, etc. O keefe may or may not be o.k. but suggesting Marc " reconsider" seems a tad presumptuous.

8:29 AM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...


The O'Keefe interview started out as quite interesting (particularly his points about the US policy in the Middle East and policies of the State of Israel), but about 2/3 of the way thru he begins a wholesale rant about Jewish control of finance, media, Israel wanting to start a nuclear war, 911 as a false flag operation w/Jewish connections, and other conspiracy theories. I saw it as veering into some very heavy and seamy anti-Semiticism, while O'Keefe kept repeating the phrase, "I'm not an anti-Semite!" It reminded me of Nixon: "I'm not a crook!" All this stuff was kinda cloaked in a pro-Palestinian rights point of view. Criticism of Israel, of course, can be done w/out resorting to overt anti-Semitic attacks. Clearly O'Keefe can't do this, IMO. Anyway, your point is well taken. Perhaps I shouldn't have asked Marc to reconsider. And since most of the attacks on Jews came late into the interview, I wouldn't be surprised if it turns out that Marc didn't see the entire interview.


11:00 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jeff, cos-

If you go to some of O'Keefe's lecs on YouTube, they are accompanied by visuals that remind me of 1930s Nazi cartoons and propaganda, with a strong flavor of Protocols of Elders of Zion. I don't have any problem thinking Wiki was rt, abt the guy addressing a neo-Nazi forum. It certainly seems more likely than not.


1:16 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Jeff, cos-
No greater anti-Semite than Frank Sinatra. Just look at some of the songs he sang:
1. It Had to be Jews
2. I've Got Jews Under My Skin
3. Jews Do Something to Me (something that mystifies me).
4 She Loves Jews (Yeah, yeah, yeah)-a Beatles cover.

3:31 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Rt on. Even his nickname, "ol' blue eyes," was obviously an Aryan dig against Jews. And what about "Strangers in the Night"? Come on! (ref to 2 Jewish moneylenders) And then there was "Jew York, Jew York." I tell ya...


4:33 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

*What* prefrontal cortext? dept.:


5:21 PM  
Anonymous Birney Zouave said...

Dear All-

Just another sad example of a daily shooting in the USA- family behind on rent, armed constable arrives to serve eviction notice, dad answers door armed, gunfire erupts, and a 12-year old girl dies.


5:29 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

did anybody here buy power ball tickets. I didn't , I'm afraid what my imam father would think. I also don't want to feel like a sucker when I don't win. It seems like a way for the oligarchs to tease us little people and give us more hope about the American Dream . Morris I bet u can write a book about lottery tickets and America

12:30 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

For a delusional bit of fantasy delivered by a war criminal and shill for big business, check it out:

SOTU 2016

Oh no, the US isn't in decline; rosy future ahead! And ps, I achieved so much during my 8 yrs in office, in case you hadn't noticed.


3:50 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: Meanwhile, back to reality:


4:28 AM  
Anonymous Golf Pro said...

Surprised nobody has posted this ultra-topical (and limbic lizard brain friendly) piece:


6:36 AM  
Blogger Chad In Chicago said...

Golf Pro -

Great song and video.

"Nobody needs anyone
They don't even just pretend"

12:47 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

MB, Dan, cos-

What about "Pennies from Heaven"?

MB, Wafers-

"The Man Who Sold The World" dept:


Who's a dummy dept.:



4:49 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I tell ya, that guy Carson's a real teddy bear. He probably scarred that kid for life.


6:44 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Wafers: Good essay by David Cole in Jan. 14 NYRB on the misguided/symbolic nature of much of the identity politics going on on college campuses today.


7:16 PM  
Anonymous Birney Zouave said...

Dr. B & All:

An interesting essay linked below, on how religious authorities in the USA enable empire and killings of "the other" on a mass scale. Of course, nothing will change. I occasionally go to a "mainline" church, and I'm sure that our young pastor would be fired if she'd deliver a sermon that featured words to this effect, from my favorite quote in the linked article- "Much of mainstream religion in the United States serves as a conduit for the government’s military interventions, not its conscience."


9:32 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

American Christians are delusional. They think the empire has the same interest as them. It started with Jerry Falwell in the 70's and 80's. The church's alliance with the empire led to today's economic despair in middle America . with the rise of trump the alliance is falling apart. Check out the Thomas frank documentary what's the matter with Kansas on YouTube .

1:30 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Birney and Mohamed,
So true. The rabbi at the synagogue I attend on High Holidays puts quotes around the words "the occupation" when discussing events in Israel and the rabbi before him called the Shatilla and sabra massacres a blood libel.
Your essay reminded me of the time I taught at a university language program. I had a Japanese girl who never came to class. Finally, one day she came and I asked her why she was absent so much. So said she simply didn't feel like coming. Such a remark could never be uttered in Japan. No student would have the temerity to be so direct say to his or her teacher. Such is the corrosive nature of American culture.

8:25 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Note to Transatlantic-

Thank you for your input re: the situation in Germany, but pls note that sending messages to older posts is not very effective. Most people don't read the older stuff, so in future pls write in to the current post. Vielen Dank.


12:01 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

Yes, American Christians are delusional, but I don't necessarily see the alliance of Christianity and empire falling apart; it's too early to tell. Trump is essentially building a mass movement on the backs of the economically frustrated, what Eric Hoffer, described as "the new poor," i.e. people who have lost wealth and status and have built up huge resentment, and are ready to blame others for their misfortune. Millions of broke Christians to be found w/in Trump's movement as result of the crash of 2008, yes? He's using them as mortar to build his movement and the possibilities of what Trump would describe as "making America great again." So far this strategy is working. The reactionary and radical nature of the movement will most likely pull in greater numbers of reactionary and radical Christians. Overt Christian fear of Muslims is also helping stoke the fires of Trump's reactionary politics. Even if he fails to secure power, the drift toward some version of American fascism is probably in the cards for us.


12:16 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Yeah, that's the pt. Rt now, Trump wd lose to Hillary, because for most Americans he comes across as something of a threat, a loose cannon. But as things continually worsen under Hillary--and they will--even more odious demagogues will arise, and eventually one of them will be successful. Hillary can only offer us more tedious warmongering and crisis management; an ueber-Trump will inflict enormous damage, under the banner of Making America Great; and with an eventual population of hyper-douchebags, what he does will be celebrated (perhaps even in the pages of the NYT, who knows). I predicted the likelihood of American fascism in CTOS, which was nearly 30 yrs ago, BTW, altho I'm sure other commentators did as well. Of course, we're not that far away rt now, as all of us know: the govt can scoop anyone up, ship them off to a black site, torture and kill them, and all w/o any habeas writ or legal representation or even notification of the family. Nor does this bother 99% of the American public (assuming they are even aware of it).


12:49 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

Dan's comment on the student who said she didn't come to language class because she didn't feel like it perhaps highlights the consumerist nature of education, at least in this case: perhaps she felt she'd paid for the course--I'm assuming the institution charged/charges for attendance--and therefore was free to consume the instruction or not, according to how she felt about the course on any given day. This consumerist attitude, if I can call it that, may also be at work when students angrily or tearfully confront instructors over grades that are less than they feel they deserved. After all, they paid (i.e., borrowed) good money to attend this college, and they demand they be given their money's worth. And good grades.

And now for something completely different:

John Cleese was on a book tour promoting his autobiography entitled So Anyway...

Below, YouTube videos at two of his stops, the first at the Commonwealth Club of California (San Francisco) and the second at Google (Mountain View). The interviewer at CCC was Adam Savage of "Mythbusters;" the second interviewer was a Googler whose name I missed. Both sufficiently different in topics to warrant your dipping into. Cleese talks about Dunning-Kruger, "experts," technology as an impediment to creativity, Neil Postman (Google talk), and much more. Savage was the more engaged interviewer, but both wisely let Cleese have free rein.

Hope you find them worthwhile.

Commonwealth Club of California




3:29 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

How abt this?:


Someone in the article is quoted as saying that Americans are too dumb to be told the truth abt terrorism. Duh. Cd the critics be waking up to what I've been saying for yrs? In Twilight I wrote that Americans "reason" as tho they had chopped liver inside their heads. Only modification I wd make today is to say dog excrement instead of chopped liver.


6:31 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

White man loves numbers. He can quantify anything and everything under the sun. What he quantifies he controls (CDS credit default swap, GDP, FICO, RPM, caliber etc). He is paranoid about losing control. The colored man's subjective-contemplative mind seems gibberish to him. The white man is "happy" because in his country life expectancy is longer. Longer for what? Visit a assisted living facility and you'll know.

America is essentially a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant country where all "others" are tolerated under certain conditions. That tolerance will vanish as soon as the shit hits the fan and the white man senses that he is losing control. He will annihilate everything including himself if need be but not let go of the control knob. A must watch for all Wafers is Peter Ustinov's documentary On The Trail Of Mark Twain to understand this point.

Could Buddha or Jesus be born in a whiteland?

The Hustler and the Hermit.

7:14 PM  
Anonymous meowrxist said...


9:08 PM  
Anonymous Birney Zouave said...

This left me speechless- "The Official Donald Trump Jam."


9:56 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Abs. terrific! Reminds me of Hitler Youth rallies of an earlier era.


10:04 PM  
Blogger remo26 said...

This interview with composer John Adams highlights that mainstream intellectuals get the WAF concept at its core (maybe subliminally), but still many are in denial as to whether anything should be done about it. As he snaps into line at the end, "I wouldn't want to live anywhere else."


In another interview which I couldn't find again (it was in my post 3 yrs ago that never made it to the blog), Adams goes quite deeper in a real WAF way to defend Americans as not being so vapid to appreciate classical music, rather they just have been doused with such banal diversions to keep them focused on a handful of 6th-grade level sentiments that you have to dig real hard to get through the numb upper layer of their malleable persona. He said it better and in more detail, but I don't have the link.


11:29 PM  
Blogger Frederick Froth said...

Esca Dreg - yes a Jesus or a Buddha could definitely be born in the USA. But he/she would of course not be recognized. Jesus would of course be executed for even daring to criticize the controlling powers-that-be. Including all of the "official" Christian religious establishment both liberal/progressive and back-to-the-past "traditional"/conservative.
The Buddha would probably die of frustration after finding out that trying to teach Americans how to practice Real spiritual life is very much like trying to teach cows to jump over the moon.

12:03 AM  
Anonymous Transatlantic said...

"As he snaps into line at the end, 'I wouldn't want to live anywhere else.'"
The conditioning is powerful. I was at the Frankfurt embassy a few months back to deal with a few expat-related issues and the woman who checked over my paperwork asked me 3 times to confirm that I did not move to Germany for work or with the military.

She was in disbelief.

4:29 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


The 1st Buddhist teacher in America was Sokei-an, who died in NY in 1945. His autobiography is called "Holding the Lotus to the Rock," his image of what it was like to try to turn Americans into Buddhists. I.e., they are like rocks. You press the lotus against them, hoping it will 'take'. No such luck.


5:23 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: This is a gd example of why it's difficult to turn Americans into Buddhists:


5:33 AM  
Anonymous cos said...

I have noticed here and elsewhere the increasing use of the word Facism and from the context its hard to determine what its meaning is. Do you guys mean the dictionary term cooperation between business and government? If so you are about 100 years late in your observations. Do you mean a totalitarian state? An authoritarian oligarchy? Do tell.

7:55 AM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Hello Wafers:

Orwell wrote in 1946 that fascism has come to mean anything with which we disagree. It does have a real definition, though. Mussolini called it a mix of corporate and governmental authority. Sounds familiar, don't it?

I don't know if fascism is coming here, but 30 years ago I noted an error in Marx's calculations of the dialectic. He didn't even follow his own theory (or Hegel's theory, anyway), because the synthesis of feudalism and capitalism ought to be what's happening today -- corporations running sections of the world as fiefdoms, with little that governments can do about it --not socialism.

Remember the days when pop music performers such as Glenn Miller and Freddie Martin played variatons of classical music pieces (well, I wasn't around at the time, but I am aware of this)? Imagine people such as Kanye West or Justin Bieber singing selections from "Carmen" or "O Sole Mio" for big bucks today.

Do you want the experience of a Nuremberg rally without the brownshirt fashion faux pas? Go to a mass-attended sporting event and check out the vibe during the singing of the national anthem. Sieg Heil, daddy.

Oh, and those douchebags at Charlie Hebdo could have had a job in a Julius Streicher publication, were they looking for a sympathetic employer.



10:39 AM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,


The bar for American fascism is actually quite low, IMO. It's exactly as MB described in his last response to me. I'll leave it to other Wafers to assemble a crude ledger of comparisons. My own, however, would start as follows:

"I'm the commander -- see, I don't need to explain.... I don't feel I owe anybody an explanation."

~George W. Bush

This is also good:



2:04 PM  
Blogger Grandma said...

Hi Dr. Berman and Wafers All,

Dr. B, I loved this essay, thank you, and I have a question further exploring the differences between traditional and modern cultures. One characteristic of note for a culture is the use of scapegoating (the Germans between the world wars are the national scale example, always). That is, the choice of a certain characteristic in a population on which to heap all the blame and shame and other unresolved bad feelings so as to a) incite feelings of superiority in the scapegoaters and b) to unite people towards a common goal (which lacks any decided spiritual basis and is not for the common good). It's a bad idea, the idea is that in hurting others, they are actually hurting themselves, and history supports this observation. I expect that scapegoating in a declining civilization such as the US will increase, unfortunately, and DT seems to have plugged right into that.

I don't yet know enough to say that scapegoating as a practice belongs with any specific type of culture, although it is believed to have been practiced for millenia; it is a characteristic of humans. Is scapegoating relatively absent in more traditional cultures? Is it one of the differences between traditional and modern? I guess this is more than one question, but this is my current exploration. Scapegoating in terms of balance of values would certainly push things away from any equilibrium, away from the common good, as it did in Germany between the world wars.

Perhaps the practice of scapegoating is just another form of instrumental rationality, the identification of a "problem" with the solution built in to the identify.

I appreciate any thoughts you may have.

3:13 PM  
Anonymous Golf Pro said...

But anyway...


3:28 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


A true American, raising kids to fight, hustle, and compete. Just look at that face: our future, no doubt abt it. I say put her on the Trump ticket as VP candidate. Cruelty is fast becoming the norm in this country.


Gd questions. Scapegoating is certainly present in traditional cultures. Check out the work of Rene Girard, and also a short story by Shirley Jackson called "The Lottery."


4:06 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

To control you first need to quantify.

There won't be a need for Judenstern this time,.... Intrado, the company that makes Beware, has sophisticated(!) algorithm that has replaced the yellow badge.


I am sure all Wafers have a "number" by now. We are linked to a MRN, master-record-number of DMB.

ps. Didn't John Adams say that "I wouldn't trade any other country for...". I guess he knows his number; he is kosher.

6:22 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Light years from American life and 'culture':

Description of the Spanish artist Remedios Varo, by a friend (Juliana Gonzalez):

“Like a vibratile insect, always alert, she lived in perpetual exploration of clues, of revelations, expanding her intelligence and her intuition to understand the hidden meanings of being and of life….She had an exceptional love for all that could be experienced through the senses: her touch passed and repassed over the warm surface of wood or the coolness and solidity of a rock. She could be absorbed for hours in the weave of a cloth or the play of light on a window pane. She saw in everything the life latent within….”

9:08 PM  
Anonymous Ron G said...


Gog and Magog, or Dubya’s Biblical Mind Map. Did the U.S. base its foreign policy on the Old Testament?

10:22 PM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

Finally, y'all are outing Sinatra as the dangerous Jew-hater that he was.
But somehow, nobody has managed to suss out his unabashed exhortation that
they be subjected to waterboarding.
Oh, the title says it all, as long as you understand the code words.
You don't need to be up to date on Sicilian Kabbalah to figure this out.

Three Cohens in the Fountain

1:21 AM  
Blogger Frederick Froth said...

Speaking of fascism in America didnt someone once say that when it does come it will be waving a Bible in one hand and loudly proclaiming freedom too - now redefined as "liberty"
Chris Hedges wrote a book titled American Fascists: The Christian Right and its War Against America. Chris was prophetically correct.
Two recent essays address the topic of how right-wing christians have been quietly, and now very loudly, organizing to achieve the goal of created a fascist theocratic state. Check out:
When Exemption is the Rule: The Religious Freedom Strategy of the Religious Right by Frederick Clarkson
Why we Must Reclaim "Religious Freedom" From Christian Conservatives by Bill Berkowitz.

1:51 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I thought it was Orwell: "When Fascism comes to the West, it will come in the name of freedom."


According to some psychiatrists, the opening chapters of Ezekiel suggest the guy was a schizophrenic.


2:58 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: charming news from down under:


3:19 AM  
Anonymous Golf Pro said...

Dr. B,

I've started reading WG, and if you don't mind, I have a quick question to ask, which is: is music a symptom of the Sacred Authority Complex?

I'm guessing that hunter-gatherers don't have music, and its tendency to transport the listener into a blissful state (into the vertically sacred) suggests to me it might be indicative of the SAC.


8:09 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Short answer is that I don't know, but I believe HG's have rudimentary instruments, such as drum and flute. I once asked Jean Liedloff abt HG culture (she lived w/the Yequana Indians in Venezuela), i.e. culture in the high sense of the word, and she said: "No, they have no Mozarts among them."


9:07 AM  
Anonymous Michael said...

re: prehistoric music

Not strictly on HG systems, but Steven Mithen has a wonderful book called The Singing Neanderthals. His argument is very interesting, and antithetical to that of many evolutionary psychologists, like Steven Pinker, who claims music doesn't serve any successful or adaptive evolutionary modality, that it is nothing more than 'auditory cheesecake'.

10:28 AM  
Blogger Sarasvati said...


The quote, attributed to Sinclair Lewis, is: “When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag, carrying a cross.”


The Australian Aborigines play(ed) the didgeridoo, a wind instrument.


10:47 AM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

1. Jesus, I need pastrami dept.:


2. Heads rammed in rumps dept.:


Goodnight, Irene!


1:12 PM  
Anonymous Golf Pro said...

Thanks Dr.B, Michael and Sarasvati.

2:08 PM  
Anonymous Ron G said...

Interesting convo guys.

Anyone w/ interesting psychological studies of Ezekiel pointing out the schizophrenic idea? For some reason off the top of my head I can recall some things by Edward Edinger, some from his Ego and Self: The Old Testament Prophets, but he stopped short of diagnosing schizo. Of course, that was probably more of a Jungian reading.

Slightly related, I really like some of the publications by the psychologists Vaughan Bell and Tom Stafford on their blog Mind Hacks:

"A rare doc about 3 people who have had hallucinatory and profound revelatory experiences. 'Those Who Are Jesus' examines the borders between revelation and psychosis and hears people recount their intense experiences while looking at how they can be understood in terms of sociology, neuropsychiatry, religion and radical mental health. Julian believes he has been shown Jacob’s Ladder, how a universe is created and told his soul is Time itself.

Sadat says a vision of an angel said to him: “You were Jesus Christ before and you were raised to life again and you are Jesus Christ” Rachel is a prolific artist who claims her hand is controlled by an “other energy” or “Christ consciousness” which guides her to paint universal structures.

It’s a great non-judgemental documentary that looks at what happens when intense and idiosyncratic experience intrude on everyday life."


3:37 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

There is also the race thing. I think minorities could be turn into Buddhist . Whites no way. They are not going to follow a brown man from Asia . The appeal of Christ for whites is that he looks like them. If pastors started putting the real image of Christ on their church walls. They well start losing memberships.

10:33 PM  
Anonymous Edward said...



7:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A nation of douchebags:

12:55 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Brain-damaged people pursuing the American Dream.


2:01 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: this is kinda nice:


2:14 PM  
Anonymous Marianne said...

The way we are...

Taking a walk several days ago I saw a father and his son, about 11 years old, both angry and yelling at each other. The father said "I don't want you playing Kill Your Neighbor". Violence begins at home.


2:29 PM  
Anonymous Frankistan said...

This was initiated by a Muslim member of the UK Parliament:


White people of Europe and America love Middle Eastern Muslims because of oil.
In fact, Britain sided with Muslims against Jews during the creation of the state of Israel.

3:01 PM  
Anonymous Will Laitz said...

K, so i'm sure Hills is still a shoe in, but i can also see Trump and Sanders going independent...

And soooo many close, reasonably smart friends are reporting:

"Love that some of my friends are at an overflowing Bernie Sanders rally in Birmingham, just blocks from where Dr. King penned his famous Letter from the city's jail. Am I overstepping in saying Bernie is continuing the work of MLK in a way that no one has at such a high level since he was killed? He was in Memphis organizing striking sanitation workers. He was planning a Poor People's March on Washington. He saw economic rights as human rights, as FDR had, and as Bernie does. Has any presidential candidate of the or national politician from the last 40 years so strongly carried the torch of a robust social safety net and economic justice with such legitimacy and such gravitas? Wasn't it dangerous relatively recently in America to espouse the kinds of views Bernie campaigns on?"

I know he's a "moonshot", as Obama would say, but Obama wasn't making any #'s until around Feb. of that year...who knows, eh?

8:41 PM  
Anonymous Aaron said...


This is one white guy who is quite happy to listen to an Asian brown man. There are quite a few Eurasians and Asians from whom I've been more than happy to learn, translation issues and skin color notwithstanding, including Christ. I wouldn't mistake my own experience for a broader trend, but I am part of a century old (at least) movement in America. It is a minority movement, but it has managed to live this long despite industrialism and neoliberal pressures. And that probably thanks to publishing and independent inquiry.


10:35 PM  
Anonymous Birney Zouave said...

Dr. B and All: Happy Martin Luther King Day. Here's an article about how even his supporters turned against him after Riverside. I think he was the last real prophet; ignored by the establishment, and then ultimately suppressed when his message became too threatening to the power centers. Imagine if we had listened to his call for change, as spelled out in his Riverside speech- what would that have taken? Maybe a 270 million person brain transplant at the time?


12:23 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Some Americans are proud of it.Working like a dog is seen as a virtue. The French they are lazy. Hustle till u drop is the attitude . This is due to propaganda by corporate America . Workers are trained to feel a shamed when taking a vacation. Country musicians brag about working like a dog in a factory for low wage. Notice in the article rural Americans and Midwesterners take the least vacation. Look at me I'm manly and rugged ,I work 12 hrs a day for 11 dollars an hour, I'm overweight with diabetes and I live until 50. If u listen to presidential candidates they glamorize servitude to corporate America by visting low wage factories in the Midwest and talk about how these are true Americans working for the dream. But they die at 50 without ever achieving the dream.

1:19 AM  
Anonymous Peter Sloan said...


Yozza guys, I am still a wicked pessimist, but Laitz above has a point, this is starting to look more more more like Obama's candidacy when its juices started flowing.

7,100 apparently attended in ALABAMA!!! I looked up the capacity of Boutwell (5,000), and saw a friend post that 1,400 people were outside, but I just read the press release and learned they squeezed 5,700 people inside.

Professor Berman, what are your predictions for the U.S. if this happens? Carter redux? I really wasn't predicting this kind of response.

11:16 AM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

Jesus, somebody give David Brooks the memo: Trump is the G.O.P., dipshit.

Too late to turn back now. A long weekend...and *this* is what David writes up:



11:51 AM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Hello Wafers:

"White people of Europe and America love Middle Eastern Muslims because of oil.
In fact [sic], Britain sided with Muslims against Jews during the creation of the state of Israel."

I suppose the Balfour Declaration and the British suppression of the Arab revolts of the 30s didn't take place, then.

Statements like the above, and a previous one in which concern was expressed about the "Ottoman" takeover of Europe, come from the same mental zone as Donzo Trump's saying that Mexican rapists are invading the USA. (My guess is that "Ottoman" wasn't used in a similar sense as, say, "The 'Byzantine' machinations of the Republican Party...")

And what's with all the Sinatra bashing? Have you seen "The House I Live In?" Are you talking about the same guy?


1:19 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Currently in Mexico City. Took a taxi; the driver had a copy of vol. 1 of Proust next to him, in Spanish trans. We began discussing it. He said he identified a lot with Swann. We talked abt the themes of the bk.

What are the chances that such a scenario cd take place anywhere in the US? Negative infinity?


2:14 PM  
Anonymous Pastrami and Coleslaw said...

Yet another survey showing how dumb USAers are:


3:39 PM  
Anonymous trendy tristan said...

Go Sarah! Top trending story in NY Times:

"As Mrs. Palin announced her backing, Mr. Trump stood wearing a satisfied smile as she scolded mainstream Republicans as sell-outs and praised how Mr. Trump had shaken up the party. 'He's being going rogue left and right,' Ms. Palin said of Mr. Trump, using one of her signature phrases. 'That's why he's doing so well. He's been able to tear the veil off of this idea system."


Imagine Bernie vs. the Donald as America goes rogue!

7:47 PM  
Blogger Marc L Bernstein said...

A few wise persons are aware of the concept of dual process, which Dr. Berman discusses in his book "Dark Ages America" and which I have seen in at least one of his lectures and in the following article :


Richard Heinberg is working on the renewal portion of dual process, the formation of new socio-economic structures that will be present when the old ones, based primarily on capitalism and obligatory economic growth, deteriorate into oblivion.


Samuel Alexander and Ted Trainer are involved in the ideological underpinnings of this renewal process. Alexander and Trainer seem to be continuing a portion of the work of Lewis Mumford, and portions of the ideology of simplicity seem to be traceable back to John Ruskin.


"It is far more difficult to be simple than to be complicated; far more difficult to sacrifice skill and easy execution in the proper place, than to expand both indiscriminately." --- John Ruskin

9:55 PM  
Anonymous Bingo! said...

Hi WAFers,

It’s so fabulous to see Sarah Palin finally endorse Trump.

In paper tiger news, I found this to be interesting. I didn’t know the U.S. Navy is much smaller than the Russian Navy. Now I know why Putin has been so impertinent toward the exceptional ones:

“American Navy declining”

Mohamed: You’re right about the church and the empire. Much of what they preach in mega-churches and even some mid-size churches is not about submitting to Christ, rather about submitting to Big Bro. A few months ago I visited a Baptist Church in Florida, and all I heard that morning was about Romans 13 and how we should blindly submit to the government, blah, blah, blah. And that was cleverly delivered in that NPL-style hypnotic brainwashing speech you typically get on NPR and PBS. Talk about CIA/Tavistock mind control. But anyway, for a guy who grew up under communism, I must say that I found that only mildly entertaining...


3:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"56% of Americans have less than $1,000 combined in savings in their checking and savings account"


4:30 AM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

Oy vey iz mir!

"There is a crisis in American civic education. Survey after survey shows that recent college graduates are alarmingly ignorant of America’s history and heritage. They cannot identify the term lengths of members of Congress, the substance of the First Amendment, or the origin of the separation of powers. They do not know the Father of the Constitution, and nearly 10% say that Judith Sheindlin—“Judge Judy”—is on the Supreme Court."

[The first paragraph from the Executive Summary from "A Crisis in Civic Education," a report by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni issued this month.]

Link below:


8:31 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Less than that. I read a profile on a date line. The woman said in her free time she likes to write haiku. So I answered that I had lived in Japan and had read Basho. She answered that she had never heard of Basho.

8:33 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Great info, thanks. I didn't discuss Dual Process in DAA, but yes, in some lectures after that, and in ch. 7 of my Japan bk.

As for Sarah: You go, girl! More than ever, I want to copulate with her on an ice floe in Alaska, among the meese, with Ed Meese present.


10:35 AM  
Blogger Sarasvati said...

People say The Donald is popular because he speaks his (tiny, ignorant) mind.

Even though he lies – six Israelis celebrating in Jersey City on 9/11 turn into 1000 Muslims (and the corrupt MSM doesn’t make a correction) - I think he’s popular because occasionally he does tell truths we’ve never heard from anyone else: donations mean you owe the donor, GW did not keep us safe, and the Iraq war was a mistake – Duh! At least the Donald gives the rank and file permission to look at those things they don’t want to admit to themselves.

Anyway, no matter who is elected, the agenda will continue. I’m sure this has been posted here before, but it’s always a great reminder from the brilliant Bill Hicks:


Of course, it would be totally unnecessary to show this film to insider Hillary… she’s totally on board (just like most of them are).

The death spiral will continue no matter who‘s elected...the only thing that may vary is the rate of acceleration.

Trump/Palin 2016!

10:38 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

"However far into the forest you may go, men will pursue you and compel you to belong to their desperate company". 

W.A.S.P America and its cohorts in Europe are prime examples of control-freak insecure people.  Their dominant culture is so pervasive all over the planet that there is almost nowhere one can take respite from their "freedom&liberty" control.   Even formerly independent people of Iran and India, of Persian empire and Indus valley civilization among others, now live in the fear of being sanctioned by the pernicious WASP. Why can't Japan levy sanction on USA for illegal invasion of Iraq or atrocities committed in Afghanistan?  Why can't Algeria sanction France and UK for criminal bombing of Libya?

The wasp is spooked having "given" too much freedom to the slaves, the woman, the Wafers, the colored and supposed decolonized people of the world. Their harmless black mascot in "their" Whitehouse now gives them the higyeebigyies. The rightwing backlash is the result of their perceived insecurity.

Alan Watts and Anton Corey

WASP's mindset, never say sorry, but the opposite.

Shock Therapy for the wasp. Trump transforms into LaoTzu and Sarah becomes MataHari..

1:59 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Trump-plain 2016! It would be the best time of my life

2:55 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Thanks for updates on American stupidity. These are the people the progs think are going to make a revolution. Rotsa ruck.

I want to point out that America has had only 4 Great Thinkers who have argued that the country has no future because Americans are dumb as shit. These are:

1. H.L. Mencken, abt 100 yrs ago
2. Gore Vidal
3. George Carlin
4. MB, also known as Great Seer of Western Hemisphere (GSWH), and the only 1 still alive, altho foolishly ignored.

History is proving all 4 of these sages correct. And you were there.


3:41 PM  
Anonymous SW said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

Dan - Haiku - Basho - there's a connection?! That's like saying "I'm a scholar but have never actually opened a book."

A nurse I work with didn't know the medical meaning of the terms benign, malignant, or metastatic. Another (in graduate school) didn't know the meaning of the term malingering. Do not get sick.

4:34 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

Trump/Palin 2016!!! Trump remembers that more than 60 million dunderheads voted to place Sarah w/in a hair's breadth of nuclear codes in 2008. Indeed, a glorious American future awaits...


Now we're cookin'! What's it gonna take to sequester Sarah on an ice floe w/u? I hafta say that Wafers are motivated to make this happen. Jesus, I'd personally donate large amounts of cash to the cause.

Miles the Hopeful

5:45 PM  
Anonymous COS said...


I think you may like this book reviewed by the great John Gray (who in his fairly subtle way also views american elites as a group of simpletons prone to silly ideas though he is English). Nice attribution to Mencken.


A cab driver in Mexico city picked my son and I up from a cafe where he (my son) and a cousin were playing chess. Noticing the wrapped up chess mat under his arm, the cab driver pulled over and from his trunk produced a beat up copy of Polgars book on chess and then gave it to us as he was soon to get a new copy.

8:01 PM  
Anonymous Vox Day said...

Esca Dreg,

Hmmm, you don;t seem to like WASPS or I suppose nordics or Teutons? They have certainly in the scheme of things considering human failings done all right. Nitrogen fixing of soil, internet etc. So, if the WASPS are such baddies, who do you hold up as exemplars? You mention Japan, but they did have some less than exemplary moments--ask the Chinese or Koreans. The Aztecs got kicks from murder on a mass scale, the Indian Cast system and treatment of women there and in China. These horrors you note are true of humans everywhere, not merely WASPS. Ask gay people how its going in Saudi Arabia, or the whites butchered in Rhodesia. The geneocide in Rwanda was not committed by Presbyterians from Ohio. Anyone who has been in the same room with a history book can telly ya that humans can be pretty nasty. It is though funny (Ironic) that those who hate the Wasps tend to want what they have and created. Why the anger--go do your own thing. If there is some white protestant holding you back well move.

8:23 PM  
Anonymous Edward said...

Good article:


6:26 AM  
Anonymous Jennifer Piquant said...

discussions on the blog have become hackneyed, i recall 2006-9 as golden years. real substantive meat, then. contributions are more and more anecdotal, and our blog's writer drops in occasionally, approvingly nods, disappears. a very bad wizard. and i'm just a sad WAFer munchkin

8:41 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


You poor munchkin, you. We have indeed fallen from a State of Grace, and I am indeed a bad wizard. I try to do my best, but clearly I have failed miserably. Still, we limp along, and I can only encourage u2 limp along with us. But hopefully we won't continue this discussion as to how poor this blog is. As I've said in the past, the content of this blog is the collapse of the American empire. It's not abt the blog itself, which wd turn it into a meta-blog, and make things even worse, I'm guessing. Anyway, hang in there; perhaps we shall unexpectedly experience a Glorious Renaissance, quien sabe?


10:48 AM  
Anonymous politically incorrect said...

gee, and we were having so much fun....


3:56 PM  
Blogger Sarasvati said...

W.A.S.P. Story: About 50 years ago I had a boss, Col. John T. Tyler, Ret’d., who used to refer to me as that little Italian (“I” as in “eye” here) girl, and bragged about being a Yankee and a WASP, who tells it like it is. Finally one day I had had it, and looked at him and said “you know, Colonel, the term White Anglo-Saxon Protestant is redundant: if you’re Anglo-Saxon Protestant then you're obviously white, therefore you’re not a WASP, you’re an ASP” (use a drawn out “a” here). I’m still not sure if I got it exactly right, but he never referred to me as that little Eye-talian girl ever again.

On another note, according to Indian philosophy (I’m a student of Non-Dual Kashmir Shaivism), we live in the realm of the pair of opposites (Maya's Palace of Delusion). Everything is in contrast – good/evil, up/down, left/right, love/hate. We are also living in Kali Yuga, the darkest of ages. Quite the combination, eh?!? This certainly puts an interesting spin on things, and I guess if you take this line of thinking to its conclusion, nothing is wrong…not a hair out of place. Obviously, I still have a lot of work to do, so until I’m enlightened (HaHa) all I can say is OY!

4:37 PM  
Blogger took_the_red_pill said...

A timely article from Andrew O'Hehir at Salon. It appears that a very few media commentators are finally catching on to the Signs 'o the (Political) End Times:

Sarah Palin’s feel-bad politics...

The subtitle is more accurate: "The American right's rococo, self-devouring period reached its apex with Sarah Palin's deranged rant". The author cites Amanda Marcotte (linked in the O'Hehir piece). Both articles are largely about Palin's recent "endorsement" speech for Donald Trump in Iowa.

"...Palin’s glorious paean to the 'right-wingin’, bitter-clingin’, proud clingers of our guns, our God and our religions and our Constitution' was...[an] American rhetorical tradition. 'So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past'...Quite likely Sarah Palin was assigned to read that book...If she never got around to it...she [nonetheless] received the gist of Nick Carraway’s American epiphany.

"Except that it’s all gone sour: The paradoxical longing for what cannot be recaptured, expressed so beautifully by...[Fitzgerald]...has turned from sadness to bitterness and anger." There's much more: the alarming spike in premature deaths of middle-aged Americans (discussed here), Trump's Mexican "Great Wall", Palin blaming Obama for her son's arrest, etc. What a nightmare.

For some reason, it got me thinking about that Portuguese word "saudade", briefly approximated as "nostalgic yearning". It seems we Americans have our own "saudade", but it so often turns so dark, an empty nostalgia. You can certainly see this "American Saudade" in hate-radio rants, the Tea Party, etc.

O'Hehir quotes Marcotte: "Anger is turned into hate is turned into more anger, until it spins off, completely unmoored from any considerations like ‘why’ or ‘how’”. Indeed, that seems to be the zeitgeist of at least half the country right now.

1:20 AM  
Anonymous Edward said...

Whether or not you support Trump, this should be of interest to you.
They say they are 'conservatives' and that Trump is not.


1) What is conservatism?

2) Who is/was a true conservative, and can you show us how this person lives/lived by the creed?

3) Is there a conservative in the current crop of Republicans in the US Senate and House? And why is Ted Cruz claiming that there is none therein?

Here is the so-called 'conservative' bashing Trump for not being a 'conservative' enough:


7:40 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


On Sarah, be sure 2c the film "Game Change," starring Julianne Moore as Sarah. I confess, I'm upset by my own douchebag/hyper-douchebag theory, which says that Trump et al. can't win against Hillary. Whoever is pres now is nothing more than a funeral director, the corpse being the US. Obama was a truly shitty funeral director, with nothing more complex in his agenda than crisis management. Which will be Hillary's m.o. as well. But with Trump and Palin in the White House, we could get down to some serious damage. I guess that will hafta be postponed for a later date, when an even more dangerous demagogue arises, and with the US even deeper into its collapsing phase. By that time, the hypers might outnumber the ordinary douche bags, and then we'll see some *real* action.


On that note, the Kali isn't dark enuf, because if it were we'd be looking at President Trump. In any case, OY is the ultimate enlightened statement (much more accurate than OM). Of course, with a Bernie victory we might have pastrami in the W.H., so I'm torn in that direction as well. (I've already written him about moving the W.H. to Canter's Deli in LA, but no response so far.)


11:05 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Noam Chomsky and Hollywood have started a campaign #dumptrump. They are so naive. To dump trump u have to dump America

11:17 AM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Dear Morris,

Many thanks for your kind note and support. Let me assure you that pastrami will be highly accessible and quite noticeable in a Bernie Sanders White House. Indeed, my first act as President will be to replace the Great Seal of the United States with a large platter of pastrami. What the hell good is a bald eagle anyway? How does the motto "PASTRAMICUS MAXIMUS" strike u?

With Kind Regards,


A Future *To* Believe In...

12:53 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

If anybody thinks that just because I’ve made my escape to Mexico I’ve forgotten about the world’s greatest blog, they are sadly mistaken. Let me assure you that at least 365 of those two million hits have been mine every year for quite a few years up to the present.

It’s just that I’ve been overwhelmed by my wife’s health problems for the last year or so, but now that a complaint has been registered that the blog is in the doldrums, I’d better snap out of it and find something interesting to say. Of course you should remember that the blog suffered a great loss about a year and a half ago with the untimely death of a brilliant Wafer named Capo.

Also, not to worry – Mexico is absolutely wonderful, and we’ve found better health care here than we ever did in the US. It’s just taken some time to learn the ropes (and the language). Stories from Mexico to follow soon.


Back in the 80’s I worked in the lab at Seaton Hospital and then the State Health Department in Austin. My colleagues had so little to talk about other than what they saw on TV the night before that I learned all about sitcoms I’d never actually seen. We were all at least reasonably competent (most much more) at the work we did.

In sharp contrast to the rest of the American health care $y$tem, I’ve always been impressed with the competence of American nurses. So your report that some of them are swirling around the drain that the rest of the US is going down disturbs me.

David Rosen

6:47 PM  
Anonymous Frankistan said...

Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

"I suppose the Balfour Declaration and the British suppression of the Arab revolts of the 30s didn't take place, then."

If you think that Britain did not oppose the creation of the state of Israel and that the British military did not team up with the military of Jordan to fight Jewish soldiers during the creation of Israel, then you having not been reading the correct history books. Even Churchill predicted in his "The World Crisis" that Muslims will eventually overrun and take over Europe due to the policies of European governments towards Islam and Muslims.

9:37 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

W-ASP (Sarasvati, the hindu goddess of learning, you're right: there are no colored asps), is exemplified by Trump, Coulter, Clintons, Cheney, Palin, Limbaugh, McCarthy, Crow, Hoover etc. Obama and Condoleezza are wasp wannabees; they forgot history too easily or haven't looked themselves in the mirror.
47 of the 62 who own as much as the poorest 3.6 billion of the planet are American, mostly white and male -and you think that's unrelated?

Besides being ruthless and unrepentant the wasp suffer from an insidious kind of anxiety, savage anxiety!! Mark Twain wrote about this before Robert Williams.
Did you know the significance of skin in Redskin?

Terrorized by the wasp......
Do you know what the Puritan wasp Anslinger did to Billie Holiday for going Wafer?

Listen to this "thing" and you'll know where the wasps in Trump rallies come from.

Can you feel the savage's anxiety?

The end result of the wrath of the wasp, Darwin's Nightmare. Listen to the director's interview CD-2 if you can find a copy.

Why America Failed fits perfectly into the puzzle Why The West Failed. Where did they squander all the wealth they looted? How did they lose control?
Or was it just a matter of time as Chief Seattle had predicted -the end of living and the beginning of survival.

"Your destiny is a mystery to us. What will happen when the buffalo are all slaughtered? The wild horses tamed? What will happen when the secret corners of the forest are heavy with the scent of many men and the view of the ripe hills is blotted with talking wires? Where will the thicket be? Gone! Where will the eagle be? Gone! And what is to say goodbye to the swift pony and then hunt? The end of living and the beginning of survival."

11:54 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Pls make sure to limit yr posts to half a page, max. Thanks. (informal rule here)

In terms of Jen's complaint abt the blog getting hackneyed, she may have a pt. But I'm not sure that this is entirely the blog's fault, esp. since I am the Great Seer of the Western Hemisphere (GSWH). I think the crux of the problem is that unlike the rest of America, Wafers understand that it's all over but the shouting. The real story is that the country is going down the toilet. All the rest--Bernie vs. Hillary, Is Donald a threat?, etc.--is meaningless froth. Nothing real is happening in the US because the US is effectively over, altho those who believe that we need to keep tabs on the movements of Kim's rump wd disagree. In short, there may not be a lot more to say, anymore, beyond events such as Dawn Meikle or various links documenting American stupidity. We are living in a hiatus between a collapsed America and the emergence of a new socioeconomic formation--what I've referred to as Dual Process. That emergence is necessarily slow, altho I suspect the outlines of it will be a lot more fleshed out by the time I die, in 2045. So I know Jen will be disappointed, but we may currently be stuck with stories like Dawn Meikle and Lorenzo Riggins. (Wafers are encouraged to confirm or refute this analysis.)


2:27 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Hello Wafers:

At the risk of drifting away from a discussion of the fall of the US empire, would you mind, Frankistan, citing a couple of "correct" history books? I find your argument about Britain's relation with the Zionist state unconvincing. Had the perfide anglais assisted Jordan's military in their fight against "the Jews," wouldn't they have had better success? After all, they had just helped whup Hitler.

Furthermore, if the British were so concerned about a Muslim horde invading Europe, as you suggest, wouldn't it make sense for them to set up a European outpost in Palestine to help check this invasion?

In other news, for those of you who see Canada as a haven, this happened yesterday in my province...


Male, 17, charged with 1st-degree murder after La Loche shootings

4:44 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

al and Frank-

Let me put my 2 cents in at this pt. 1st, check out the section of DAA that discusses US role in events leading up2 1948. 2nd, I read a slew of bks during past yr regarding Zionism and formation of Israeli state (wish I cd remember the titles), and the problem is that within both the US govt and the British establishment, different factions wanted different things. White House was very pro-Israel; State Dept. was anti. In England, things perpetually went back and forth, producing Balfour Declaration, backing of T.E. Lawrence, and so on, until the British position vis-a-vis Arabs and Jews was virtually incoherent. By the time the British abandoned the Mandate they had, by their own admission, their heads severely rammed up their asses. Wish I cd remember these bks. Well, Tom Segev, "One Palestine, Complete," comes to mind, but I did read quite a few others, and this phenomenon of internal conflict was a pronounced theme in practically all of them.


7:15 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,


I'm very much inclined to agree w/yr analysis. The concept known as "America" has played itself out. The country is no longer a workable proposition any longer. Outside of the key individuals such as Dawn Meikle, Lorenzo, and perhaps Rayon McIntosh, the place is, quite frankly, boring and uninteresting.


7:48 PM  
Blogger Marc L Bernstein said...

Just brief mention of a youtube video featuring Abby Martin interviewing Vijay Prashad, a man worth listening to with regard to international politics and political history.


During the interview, Prashad mentioned that the USA engineered regime change in Japan not long ago, with scant mention in the press. I have seen little mention of it either, even in the alternative media websites I read.

So not only is the USA headed for irreversible deterioration and collapse, in the meantime this nation is doing tremendous harm throughout the world. Of course Noam Chomsky has mentioned this many times. Paul Craig Roberts and Steve Lendman write about this as well.

5:19 AM  
Blogger Sarasvati said...


Please, let’s call an ASP an ASP! Your quote reminded me of this Native American prophecy:

“When the last tree is cut, when the last fish is caught and all the rivers are poisoned, only then will you discover you cannot eat money.”

Dr. Berman,

Well, I find the on-going documentation of American stupidity here to be endlessly entertaining…I hafta laugh or else I’ll cry. I follow the blog every day and check out all the links. But, most importantly for me, it helps me cope with being so out of step with most of the people I know (especially family…wherever did I come from?) and the country in general.

BTW, thank you Dr. Berman…I’ve been meditating on OY and vast new realms have been opened to me. The biggest bonus of all is my sudden craving for hot pastrami on rye, which disappeared long ago when I left MatzahPizza on Long Island and stopped working in NYC.

Trump/Palin 2016!

8:27 AM  
Anonymous Golf Pro said...

The British tried to prevent Jews arriving in Palestine during the 30's with a Naval blockade, but after WW2 and the Death Camps etc. it was morally almost impossible to prevent Jewish immigration. Then you had the King David Hotel bombing, Roy Farren, various Israeli separatists being hanged by the British authorities, and finally after the formation of Israel Sir John Glubb ("Glubb Pasha") leading the Jordanian Brigade and giving the Israelis a rare whupping.

My favourite episode is 1st Royal Tank Regiment high-tailing it out of Jerusalem with the Colonial Governor's cash reserve hidden in a biscuit tin.

11:32 AM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

MB, your remarks on the Zionism/Israeli state comments in previous posts suggest how utterly foolish and egotistical those who aspire to high office are. The White House wants X, other government officials (Congress, department secretaries) want Y, and the people in whose name these individuals are acting may have no idea which course of action (or inaction) is the better choice.

In the case of the current runup to the next election, we are treated to the spectacle of candidates presenting "solutions" that are stupefyingly simplistic for problems that are demonstrably devilishly complex and intractable. These hopefuls are acclaimed for their sagacity by citizens who don't want to hear "It's complicated" or "Solutions to X will require compromise." Changing one's mind on an issue is forever stigmatized, with no small reinforcement by the scribes of the Fourth Estate, as "flip-flopping."

It won't matter who gets the nomination or who wins. The problems will be beyond the ability of any single individual to "fix"/solve them, independently or otherwise. And in a country where a distressingly large number of those who choose the winner(s) believe the earth is 6,000 years old, that men dwelled with dinosaurs, that God hates queers, and that we're entering "End Times"--they could be right on this last point, if for a different reason--it looks from my viewpoint as if Bette Davis had it right: "Fasten your seat belts, it's going to be a bumpy night." [All About Eve, 1950]

12:11 PM  
Blogger Juliet Cash said...

Hello Wafers, Dr. Berman,

I have been reading this blog for quite a while- although I haven't been posting anything for months. As always I share lots of what is being posted here with others and I look forward to the writings of Dr. Berman. But I wanted to say that I am surprised that MacFarland got made into a movie- being that it isn't a fantastic super hero movie- although the white hero as savior of brown people who are in the white man's land not by accident of birth but by the political actions that white men who created the conditions for the misery of illegal immigrantion-that part being left out from the film- probably justified the Disney involvement. That Disney presented the savior as being saved by those he is reluctantly saving is an interesting turn that super hero movies don't embrace. Buy could it be that in the end the community embraces values that are essentially conservative: religion, family, the Tribe helping itself while opening itself to outsiders for knowledge and guidance? I have been reading a conservative blog titled "The Imaginative Conservative." In it, fantasy and myths are exalted and reality, facts, science, liberal agenda, psychology, adult movies etc are derided as boring and empty of meaning. Here's an essay on humanity's longing for myth by a conservative who decided to interject his Christian agenda by stating that Christianity's tales were the ultimate truth encompassing all of humanities previously held myths into an eternal Truth that no other myth has been able to replace; because Christianity is the final truth of all of humanities unconscious longings for a super hero, a protector, a savior that descends to Hades to rescue his beloved and for eternal redemption.
Is the re - enchantment of the world just a return to religion? Conservatives seem to think that way and the rhetoric of itheor candidates is increasingly pointing towards that direction.



12:18 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


My personal favorite, of course, is Shaneka Torres. Where the hell is she, rt abt now? I miss her. Meanwhile, yr rt: just go to Paris or Berlin or Edinburgh and see what's going on, talk to a few people, and the boredom of America becomes crystal clear. It's kind of a nonculture by now.


Well, we do need an oasis, after all. There are 166 registered Wafers and nearly 322 million imbeciles, so if I can provide a refuge from imbecility, I will have performed a vital function, I'm hoping. Meanwhile, I recall, in the late 90s, I wrote the following message to a friend, which I told him was my credo for understanding the US (talk about prescient):

1. The dolts are on the march
2. There are a lot more of them, than there are of you
3. If they get into power, they will hurt you.

The rest is history. But it's all abt to change: between now and Nov. I'm going to declare myself the candidate for the Matzo Ball Party, and roll on to victory. Wafers are encouraged to draw up a platform for the MBP, to be presented at the MBP convention, which will be held in Katz's Deli, 209 E. Houston St.


3:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nicole Aschoff department on our good samaritan:

6:11 PM  
Anonymous Northern Johnny said...

Hi Dr. Berman and all:

Thought I would share this article from the excellent American publication Jacobin. It's called "Four Futures" and it was first published in 2011. It lays out scenarios for four different futures after capitalism: (1) Egalitarianism and Abundance: Communism; (2) Hierarchy and Abundance: Rentism; (3) Egalitarianism and Scarcity: Socialism; and (4) Hierarchy and Scarcity: Exterminism: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2011/12/four-futures/. The article's title and subtitles remind me a lot of Dr. Berman's discussion at the end of The Twilight of American Culture. I strongly recommend Jacobin for WAFers. Cheers from the currently green north.


6:12 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Hello Wafers:

I've probably posted this already, but here's a tune that could be an appropriate anthem/fight song for the Matzoh Ball Party.



There's going to be some Slim Gaillard on the show tonight...in about two hours...


O&D oroonie

6:39 PM  
Anonymous Paula said...

British Opposition to Jewish Immigration to Palestine

"Why did the British oppose Jewish immigration to Palestine?
The Jewish immigration to Palestine dates back to the 19th century while the land was ruled by Ottoman Turks. World War 1 saw the fall of Ottoman Empire, and Britain from among the victors, was chosen by the United Nations for Palestine Mandate. The terms of the Mandate, laid down at the 1920 San Remo Conference and became effective in 1923, was an echo of the Balfour Declaration with Britain responsible for its implementation until the time the region could become able to handle its government on its own.

The Jews and Zionists held the view that they were betrayed by the British and all their favors shifted to Arabs through Churchill White Paper, establishment of Transjordan and White Paper of 1939. However, they failed to see the British strategies, calling it a bias due to the factors such as keeping good relations with Arabs for their oil supply and such. Mainly, the British were worried about the offense it would create among the Arab population if it did not put a stop on Jewish immigration which led to unstable relations between the two nations as the British were responsible for peace in the land. Chaim Weizmann, Jewish representative at the Paris Peace Conference, was sure that he had made clear the idea of a Jewish national home in Palestine and that Britain would go along with it. However, British authorities did not do so and maintained the stance that the Balfour Declaration called for the protection of Palestinian rights as well. The same statement was clarified through the White Paper of 1922, which stated that a Jewish national home within Palestine does not stand for imposing Jewish nationality on entire Palestine; while clearly noting that the Jews had a right to come to Palestine."


2:57 AM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

How about a campaign slogan for the MBP?

"A matzo ball in every pot"

Or, with apologies to and a nod of respect for Mel Brooks:

"Don't be stupid, be a smarty
"Come and join the Matzo Party"

Or a signal of openness and willingness to work across the aisle?

"Come, sit, we'll have a nosh."

Let's get this Party started!

9:22 AM  
Anonymous Leonard said...

Dearest Prof.

Penny for your thoughts in regard to Presidential hopeful candidate Bernie Sanders? There seems to be quite a bizarre chance that he could win, and I've seen your predictions for Hilary and Trump, but what are your thoughts on this guy/the country if he wins? He seems almost like a Pseudo_WAFer

Nader is even impressed, but is worried he'll eventually fall into backing Hilary.

9:32 AM  
Anonymous michael said...

post carbon economy dept:

most emotionally complex countries:

9:39 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


OK, let's talk abt Bernie. A nice guy, but not likely to get the Dem nomination, because of corporate backing of Hillary. And I'm quite sure we'll see the day when he embraces Hillary after her nomination, and throws his support behind her.

Some quotes come to mind:

Gore Vidal: "Politics in the US is easy to understand. It consists of one political party with two right wings."

Michael Ignatieff: "The choice in America is between Empire and Empire Lite."

1960s graffito: "If elections cd change the system, they wd be declared illegal."

A graffito I saw in Chiapas a few yrs ago (I'm translating from the Spanish): "Our dreams don't fit into your ballot boxes."

In a word, there is no redemption of America thru the ballot box, altho every American continues to believe to the contrary. The progs are particularly susceptible to this. Bill Clinton was seen, in 1992, as the redemption of the Reagan-Bush era. In fact, he was nothing more than a Republican with Democratic language, and during his admin, the gap between rich and poor widened dramatically. He also instituted extraordinary rendition (torture at black sites), rolled back welfare, bombed a pharmaceutical plant in the Sudan (costing thousands of lives), etc. So then the next redemptive figure was Obama, who wd redeem us from the Bush Jr. era. In fact, he mostly did the opposite of what he said he wd. Guantanamo remains open, torture continues (sub rosa), millions of Mexicans have been deported, his record on persecuting whistleblowers is the worst in American history, he's done fuck all for the poor, being little more than a shill for Wall St. and the corporations, and he is, finally, a war criminal: every Tuesday, he meets with the JCS to select drone targets that murder women and children in the Middle East.

Did the progs learn anything from the abject failure of the Great Black Hope? No, not at all. Now they are embracing the Great White Hope, i.e. Bernie. But Bernie has said as president, he wd defeat ISIS (never mind that blowback from our Middle Eastern policies created the jihadi threat), and he has voted for military appropriations. Of course, if by some miracle he got elected, and then accomplished nada for 8 yrs, wd the progs have learned their lesson? Of course not! They wd then say, "Well, OK, it didn't work out with Bill or Obama or Bernie, but Joe Blow, the next liberal hero: he's our man. Vote Joe Blow!"

You get the idea. As I've said a million times here, Americans are just not v. bright.

The fact is that the country is going down the toilet, and anyone in the Oval Office is nothing more than a funeral director. Democracy is now little more than a shuck, because the candidates need corporate $ to be able to run for pres, and once elected, those funders expect a return on their investment--and they get it. No one with a truly fundamental critique of America can possibly get elected, or--if like Jimmy Carter--they do get into office, they are quickly rendered ineffective, and in fact reduced to the status of a bad joke. (What American wd agree with Jimmy, that we need to reject consumerism and stop blaming the USSR for all our problems?) No Green candidate, or anyone advocating a no-growth economy (which Bernie doesn't; his language is that of modified capitalism, like FDR), can garner more than 1% of the vote.

Anyway, that's my verdict on Bernie, and why I think all of you need to vote for me and the Matzo Ball Party next Nov.


Yes, but I seem to remember that the Brits subsequently backed away from the White Paper. There was an endless switching of policy depending on who was in Downing St., the Foreign Office, etc. British incoherence made such a mess of the Mandate that the Brits actually quit the country b4 the assigned ending date.


2:50 PM  
Blogger Christian Schulzke said...

The situation with migrants in Europe is really quite alarming. The attacks in Cologne and the response, both from it's clueless mayor and it's Imam (what a concept, an Imam of Cologne) are just breath taking. The Left is completely silent on this issue, but I think not engaging will ultimately push middle of the road Europeans to the Right. What do you do with people whose civilizational outlook is essentially anti-civilization and they refuse to integrate? This has the capacity to become an existential crisis for Europe, and I am scared to think of where it will all lead.


6:08 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...


H.L Mencken was immortalized by his 1926 essay "The Libido for the Ugly".  It was about the form, the things imbeciles build.  For your 2045 departure, to be remembered you should write a sequel to that ugly -​a deep diagnosis of ​the mind o​f the imbecile.​ 

If you need some inspiration to write you can hang this in ​front of your desk...




6:25 PM  
Anonymous Birney Zouave said...

Dr. B & All:

Here's a guy who thinks Bernie's the man, because only he can put forth a kinder, gentler way to sell endless war-

I gotta say that some of his arguments ring true...

7:39 PM  
Anonymous Vusnamefo said...

What happened to Benjamin Natal yah. He has been too quiet after the Iran nuclear deal.

10:47 PM  
Anonymous Peter Sloan said...

Leonard, Berman, Laitz:

Shout-out to anyone who still thinks Bernie can't win, among moderates, among non-whites, in the South, anywhere. He's the only candidate that makes any sense for our time. His is the only platform that accurately diagnoses and seeks to reform our deepest structural defect--a compromised democracy eroding into oligarchy by a flood of dark money, no longer representing the public good, accelerating us toward systemic collapse--at the scope and strata that it really exists and operates. People in all communities who listen to him start to understand this. (I wonder what moderate white liberals who say things like "sure, I like Bernie's policies, but he'll never win over the black community" really think they are saying about black Americans?) Even Hillary's former supporters, at all levels, including public figures who had already made their endorsements, are turning away from her as they realize her cravenness is not "pragmatism," her agenda is not progressive, and her core principles and values are elusive at best and illusory at worst. Hillary's are a politics of the past--exactly the politics we seek to transcend, precisely the past we pray does not determine our future. Not only do I predict Bernie winning the Democratic nomination, I predict a landslide victory in the general. Hope is not an attitude towards the world; it's a strategy. (I just made my first monthly donation to Bernie's campaign.) The GOP is in unmitigated free-fall, and the conditions for moving our society out of neoliberalism and dysfunction and into rational collective cultivation of the public good are set. It is either now, or not for another generation, but we can be sure it will happen one day. Bernie is resuscitating a political movement that literally died with MLK and RFK. His is a deeply emancipatory vision of a just society that has been seen by only the rarest, keenest eyes, his a story of America told by our greatest, most resonant voices. Don't be the last one on his side, because regardless of the outcome in November, history will know Bernie's to have been the right one.

12:19 AM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

"When You Wish upon a Star..."*

Outsourcing, corporate inversion, and all the rest. And now, from the Magic Kingdom, yet another way to maximize the bottom line.

Two dismissed workers at Disney's Orlando theme park have filed lawsuits in federal court in the Middle District of Florida accusing Disney Corp and two outsourcing firms of using the H1B visa program to replace American workers with foreigners.


*Written by Leigh Harline and Ned Washington, performed by Cliff Edwards in the character of Jiminy Cricket, in Pinocchio (1940). Now the representative song of the Disney company.

8:50 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Not quiet enuf: http://www.juancole.com/2016/01/netanyahu-demands-more-billions-from-us-after-iran-deal-insults-us-ambassador-steals-more-land.html


Time will tell!


9:16 AM  
Blogger Chad In Chicago said...


I think Dr. Berman made it clear in the post before yours that a Bernie victory wouldn't accomplish anything. At best he'd be Jimmy Carter. At worst his agenda would be dead on arrival.

I posted a response only because yours is the kind of knee-jerk speech I get from Bernie supporters. Have you asked yourself what he could possibly accomplish with an obstructionist Congress? Do you think Americans as a whole really support a progressive agenda?

Also, Bernie is just as much of a supporter of the military industrial complex as the rest of them. He's voted for the F-35 repeatedly:


To say nothing of the fact that the plane is completely useless:


11:58 AM  
Blogger Sarasvati said...

Peter, I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but as good as Bernie might be, if he gets elected president he will have to follow the same agenda as anyone else.

We have a one–party system with a difference in style not substance. When GW was President he had a Democratic Congress and still got everything he wanted. When Obama was elected, even though he had a Democratic Congress, he “couldn’t” get anything accomplished “because” of Republican obstruction. What a total and complete crock! I started getting very nervous about Obama a few weeks before the election, and once he named some of his cabinet members I knew we were totally skunked. Why do you think it’ll be any different with Bernie?

The Deep State decides what’s going to happen. Benjamin Disraeli, a Prime Minister of England, had the following to say: “The world is governed by very different personages from what is imagined by those who are not behind the scenes.” In any case, please watch my earlier Bill Hicks post:


BTW, the photo you see of Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon was taken at Bohemian Grove in 1967. BG is a three-week playground gathering for the rich and famous, with some rather unnerving rituals.

12:16 PM  
Blogger Juliet Cash said...


Bloomberg said he was willing to spend a billion dollars of his "hard earned money" to run as an independent shall Trump/Bernie be the nominees. What does that say about the establishment in both parties? Even if his voters knew better - as Wafers do that Bernie is pro- Israel, pro- empire lite- the establishment doesn't feel comfortable with a possibility of someone like him in the White House. Otherwise, the DNC would back him up uncompromisingly. Obama is already signaling that he wants Clinton. And Clinton is only promising to build on Obama's legacy- which means nothing to the average working Ameeican and poor. Bernie isn't getting that much mainstream media time either. In one report- don't know if it was alternet's or Common Dreams' it noted that Bernie's MSM time was minimal- - only 3%- in comparison to Clinton's. That doesn't mean that Bernie, if he won, is going to make a difference- given the fact that most of the Congress is either neocon or neoliberal- but a Bernie win is at best a symbol that a significant number of Americans are willing to explore what Bernie calls a Scandinavian type democracy. However, if Trump and Bernie are the nominees- and that's a big if- I still think Trump will win. Which slogan will resonate with most Americans; Trump's
"Making America Great Again"
"American Cultural Revolution" that Bernie has been proposing?
According to American exceptionalism the first one wins hands down.

Just recently, there was a write up on the one single characteristic that grouped all ""Trumpeters" across all ethnic, gender and class groups: their authoritarianism. Which is close relative to exceptionalism. Personally, I don't know of any American authoritarian who wasn't full of that America is number 1 type of arrogance. Surprisingly enough the American exceptionalism wasn't mentioned in the poll. It probably never occurred to the pollsters.


2:15 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Hello Wafers:

Christian (really?) wrote: "What do you do with people whose civilizational outlook is essentially anti-civilization and they refuse to integrate? "

That got me thinking of this:

"What do I think of Western civilization? I think it would be a very good idea."

Mahatma Gandhi

Lighten up, Europeans, and think of the Saracen hordes as conducting a mission civilisatrice of their own; you'll feel a lot better about them.

As for citing Palestinefacts.org, one may as well cite "facts" from MEMRI or any other Zionist propaganda site (try finding a reference to "Deir Yassin" on Palestinefacts.org for example). The ideological slant of that page is quite marked.

Anyway, when Donzo Trump said that he could shoot someone in NYC and not lose votes, he was probably correct. He's truly a man of the people.

2:31 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I read an article somewhere by a high-ranking military officer declaring that the F-35 is a certified piece of shit. (Of course, one cd say the same thing abt Obama.)

As everyone knows, I'm hoping for a Trump victory, tho I think it's unlikely. What a Bernie victory offers is the slim possibility, after 8 yrs of the same ol' shit, that the progs will finally wake up and grasp that elections are a pile of dog-do. However, it's more likely, as I said above, that they'll then turn their attn to the next 'liberal' candidate, Joe Blow, and get all worked up abt *him*. Then after 8 yrs of Joe Blow and more kaka, they'll alight on Lydia Phosgrove and get all worked up abt *her*. Then after 8 yrs of Lydia...

Progs are among the dumbest people in the country, what can I say?


2:35 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

Jesus, I can't take anymore of this "Bernie will save us" jazz. Bernie might've worked in 1916, but not in 2016. In any event, we hafta factor in the raw material of a so-called Bernie revolution. And this is it:



Meanwhile, this is also good:



3:40 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Yes McFlarland USA maybe one of those movies that shows some hope for small town USA and then you get crazy almost fascist prosecution like stuff from small town USA like this story... http://www.upi.com/Technology/2014/09/12/Teenager-Faces-2-Years-Jail-Time-for-Taking-Obscene-Picture-With-Jesus-Statue/1511410558954/ ... Proving once again the level to which small town usa enforces those aspects of cultural regression that your books cover thru American institutions that in the past would never allowed such waste of legal time or resources on harmless teenage prank causing no damage at all! Really sad this young man will go to jail for such normal teenage buffoonery!

5:53 PM  
Blogger Jack Lattemann said...

RE Shaneka Torres, she is currently under the administration of the Michigan Dept. of Corrections for at least the next three years and has been banned from eating at McDonald's:

6:40 PM  
Anonymous Halibus said...

Juliet Cash wrote: "Bloomberg said he was willing to spend a billion dollars of his "hard earned money" to run as an independent shall Trump/Bernie be the nominees"

Does anyone here know what Bloomberg produced for humanity to earn the $billions under his name? In other words, what products did Bloomberg design and produce that earned him billions of dollars in profits?

7:59 PM  
Blogger Marc L Bernstein said...

Here's a video of Thom Hartmann interviewing Jane Mayer, who wrote a book "Dark Money" about how billionaires engineered the radical right wing in the USA. Mayer and Hartmann talk about the Koch brothers (David and Charles), their father, Prescott Bush (father of George H W), etc. It's worth a listen.

"How Billionaires Built The Radical Right!" ---


Noam Chomsky prefers Bernie Sanders to others from the 2 main political parties ---


I'll bet that James Howard Kunstler will vote for Sanders, both in the primaries and in the general election if Sanders gets that far. Jim voted twice for Obama and openly explained why. In 2012, Jim explained that Mitt Romney's hairdo was too offensive to tolerate.

I voted for Jill Stein in 2012. I plan on voting for Sanders in the primaries in spite of his caucusing with the Democrats on military spending.

6:42 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Some of you guys have been sending messages to old posts. Not gd. No one reads the older stuff, and altho I post those messages, I don't respond to them. Pls send all messages to the most recent post, and all of us will be a lot happier. Thanks.

Does Bernie eat chicken nuggets? That's what I wanna know.

Meanwhile, the date for publication of my new novel is rapidly approaching, and publisher and I have been soliciting Famous People for blurbs. Whether these things actually promote sales, I have no idea, but publishers do like to have them. So the latest Famous Person wrote in, Berman is the Voltaire of the modern age.

Now as you all know, the title I most prefer is Great Seer of the Western Hemisphere (GSWH), since it most accurately captures my historical role. However, Voltaire ain't bad, really, so if any of you wanna start addressing me as M. Voltaire, or submit yr messages in French, I won't have any objections.


9:50 AM  
Anonymous Golf Pro said...


Why do you underplay your prestige in the Eastern Hemisphere?

10:53 AM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings M. Voltaire and personnes,

Just in time for the Iowa Caucus... Rachel Butterbaugh, 33, beat up her husband when he refused her sexual advances:


Jesus, sex w/a chicken nugget would be more pleasurable.


11:38 AM  
Blogger Chad In Chicago said...

I should probably apologize to Peter as I think my tone was a bit harsh. I had just gotten back from a weekend in Houston to visit my family and ran into a Bernie booster at my local bar. I got the same earful about how great Bernie was gonna be, but given I'd just bin in the Lone Star state I couldn't take it anymore.

Spend some time in Texas. After you wade through the over-sized trucks, guns, megachurches and Obama-is-a-Muslim parade ask yourself again what the chances are that that any kind of progressive agenda could ever be enacted, let alone supported in this country. After all, we're talking about people who are apparently afraid of Muslim zombies:


Oh, and Christian rock is everywhere in Texas. God kill me now if I ever have to listen to that shit again.

12:38 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


And another American to add to my hero list: Rachel Butterball. Just look into those eyes, amigo! There you will see the future of America.


Well, after all my attempts to get "Neurotic Beauty" publ. in a Japanese translation were cruelly rebuffed, I concluded that my prestige in the Pacific Rim was kinda low. Maybe they didn't like my referring to myself as Belman, who knows. Altho the publisher stealing my royalties and then the bk being unavailable for several mos. hardly helped the situation. At least WAF exists in Mandarin.


1:54 PM  
Anonymous Golf Pro said...

This is how bad things are getting in the UK:


2:20 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I love Dorset. 3rd story in "Destiny" is set there.


4:26 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

I know you recommend saying " I live among dolts" every morning but that doesn't quite work for me. Instead, I say "I live in Shitland." Two examples. As you may know, we on the east coast had a historic snow storm recently. Finally, after 2 days it stopped and "people" came out to shovel. My 91 yr. old mom lives alone. On both sides of her are families with strapping young men. Do you think anyone bothered to shovel my mom's snow? Of course not because she lives in Shitland. So my mom had to pay $20 to strangers to get it done.
Next, I went to the dentist yesterday and endured nearly an hour of drilling. Though the dentist gave me novocain, the procedure was still, to say the least, discomforting. The dentist had a young female assistant who, for an hour, made a point of averting her eyes whenever I looked at her. Did she really think I was hitting on her as 3 crowns were being inserted into my mouth? Aren't medical assistants supposed to show at least a some human understanding? I guess she felt I was taking valuable time away from her I-phone.
By the way, I'm living a Seinfeld episode at my new school. Apparently, you are expected to greet people with Good morning! How are you? How's it going? all fuckin' day. Not a few times was I told, " You don't talk much, do you?" "Why you always look so serious?" Well, maybe it's because I don't like living in a Seinfeld episode!

10:27 PM  
Anonymous lack of coherence said...

Looks like machines can now beat the top Go players. This is something new and unexpected.


11:32 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

Inverse of a typical 911 food order call:


Francis, you splendid and unimaginable douchebaguette! Wafers wuv u more than words can say...


10:43 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Instead of dolts you might substitute degraded buffoons. As for yr dental asst, in my experience American women are terrified of men. In Mexico, just walking down the st., young women look me in the eyes all the time and smile, and it doesn't mean they want sex. It's just called common courtesy. Plus, next-door neighbors here wd shovel an older person's snow gratis, except that we don't have very much snow.


12:45 PM  
Blogger librarian@play said...

On the bright side, at least Americans are doing what they can to thin the herd.


1:44 PM  
Blogger Sarasvati said...

Dan, Morris,

My husband’s 75year old sister lost her husband last April: she lost his pension, his Social Security, and then her job. One of her daughters lives about 20 minutes away and has two sons, one of whom is 16 and occasionally goes over to my sister-in-law’s to help around the house…for which she pays him $50. Her other daughter and her husband said that if he was their son, they send him to his grandmother’s and they’d pay him the $50. What’s wrong with these people? He shouldn’t be paid anything by anyone. Also, our niece with the two sons is constantly crying poverty. Their household income is about $150,000 a year, and they have no qualms about taking as much as they possibly can from anybody stupid enough to give it to them. Talk about Shitland!

Also, the last few times I've been to see a doctor they now sit in front of a computer and ask questions. At this point I'm convinced that the goal is simply to plug in answers to questions and have the computer come up with a diagnosis and treatment plan. Medicine is all about making money, and the patient just a necessary evil.

4:43 PM  
Anonymous Garrison Sloan Bates said...


4:58 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Medical care in Mexico is 1st-rate, and the staff is always friendly. The diff between here and the US is day and nite. When I had my 1st apptment with my primary care physician, abt 8 yrs ago, he was wearing a sport shirt and sitting in front of what looked like a 1935 Remington typewriter. He's an excellent physician, related to me in a very personal way. He spent 90 mins. with me, charged me next to nothing.

Several yrs ago, Ronald Dworkin did an essay in the NYRB in which he asserted that every single institution in the US was corrupt, without exception. He neglected to add, however, that these places are staffed by morons, for whom concepts such as service and decency are as alien as antidisestablishmentarianism.

I'm sorry, but there just isn't enuf urine to go around.


5:52 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

The anniversary of the Russian liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau on 27 January produced several articles. One of them in the Guardian brought me to an account of the trial of Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem in 1961 written by Martha Gellhorn* for The Atlantic Monthly. WAFers familiar with Hannah Arendt's book Eichmann in Jerusalem may find the Gellhorn account interesting.


*Martha Ellis Gellhorn is regarded as one of the greatest war correspondents of the 20th century. Among others, she covered the Spanish Civil War and the Japanese war in China pre-Pearl Harbor. She was reportedly the only woman to land in Normandy on D-Day. She was married to Ernest Hemingway from 1940-1945. Working well into her 80s, Gellhorn even covered the US invasion of Panama in 1989.

Nearly blind and suffering from metastatic ovarian cancer, she committed suicide in London on 15 February 1998 by taking cyanide.]

7:17 PM  
Blogger Rosegarden said...

While helping older relatives in the past decade, I have been in many exam rooms in doctors' offices and hospitals. It seems to be getting very crowded. First are the patient and myself, the advocate. Then the doctor comes in. We weave our way around the computer that takes up a huge amount of square footage. It needs its own chair and a cumbersome metal framework, sometimes screwed to the wall so you cannot see the doctor. The computer also takes up mental space. If the doctor is young, his eyes are glued to the screen. If the doctor is older, he hunts and pecks. One called in an assistant to find a menu. If your symptom is not on the menu, it must not exist.

Last there are the ghosts in the room, seeping out of the black box, hovering around us. The agenda of the programmer who sold his software. The goals of the insurance company that wants efficiency. The liability insurer who wants no claims. The politicians. The lawyers of all of the above.

My perception is the patient is the smallest entity the room, squeezed into the corner, his interests the least important.

8:48 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

At last I have begun taking lessons in Spanish at the local community college. Can't wait wait to use it in a real-life escape-from-Shitland context. BTW, the required books and mandatory web access are an incredible ripoff - pure academic racketeering. But I'll stick with it.

There's quite a bit more to complain about, some of it similar to or echoed in various posts here, but I want be brief and stay focused on the positive. I find this helps to stave off the self-destructive yearnings that American life otherwise tends to inspire.

On the upside, I was lately invited to give a talk about my art at another community college, 40 miles away. I did so today, and was well received. A steady paid gig doing something of the sort in, say, Buenos Aires, would suit me very well.


1:29 AM  
Blogger Christian Schulzke said...

Also, the last few times I've been to see a doctor they now sit in front of a computer and ask questions. At this point I'm convinced that the goal is simply to plug in answers to questions and have the computer come up with a diagnosis and treatment plan. Medicine is all about making money, and the patient just a necessary evil.

I can shed some light on this. I work as an IT clinical analyst for a three hospital “health system.” Massive amounts of electronic documentation is the new normal for health care. “Data driven” medical models are the goal. Whereas before a doctor would look you in the eye and listen to you describe what's going on with your health, now they sit and type at a computer keyboard. And if they don’t document properly, or miss something, they can get in trouble. All of that info is then collected and sent to the government as part of “Core Measures.” Medicare will compare the data with the national average and if your outcomes aren’t equal or above par, they will dock the re-imbursement the hospital receives. It is supposed to make health care better, and more aligned with “best practices.” It feels God awful impersonal and the cost of tracking all this data is IMMENSE, to say the least. I also have doubts that it’s improved healthcare much. For better or worse, this is the direction of healthcare, and not just in the US. Europe is on the same track.

It’s funny, this system is supposed to serve us, but I feel like it is us serving the system. That they system is an end in and of itself. I can’t publically question it though. Not at my job. Everyone believes in it, with all the zeal of Spanish inquisitor.

12:45 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

There is big difference between human being and being human. Americans in general lack empathy. They are not necessarily bad, but they are stereotypically indifferent. Dan, I know exactly what you are talking about. I have witnessed many such incidents in my life. And these days the disease, along with Burger King and Britney Spears, is spreading all over the world.
​Maybe it has something to do with Basic-Fault. Once damaged at formative years you are stunted for the rest of your life. I mean how can you teach someone to love who has never been loved before, especially in their infancy? ​How can tell about empathy who has never been empathized with in early childhood? Read a self-help book, "Empathy for the Dummies"?

Anton Corey, the Grand Wafer, explains the fault : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3eLCUG2HPY
MB's experience with his doctor and women passerbys in MX is very common human encounters there. Before asking for directions in MX people first say Buenos Dias/Tardes with a smile. Same to a street corner fruit juice seller, and you need not buy anything there. Such smile is not a hustler's smirk where the interloper is positioning himself for negocio. Even strangers in a restaurant say Buen Provecho and come and talk to you. Read MB's two essays on being human...

​Sarasvati, Time (its true name Hustling) is everything in America where Money-Talks-And-Bullshit-Walks.

6:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wafers I am afraid I have bad news for you: American kids are not the dumbest anymore! The title has been lost!


"What that means in practise, according to the OECD, is that these teenagers might 'struggle to estimate how much petrol is left in the petrol tank from a sight of the gauge, or not be able to fully understand instructions on a bottle of aspirin'."

According to the article it also looks like being a teacher is becoming an even more rewarding profession:

"In other disappointing young people news, a survey for the ATL teachers union found that four in ten teachers across England, Wales and Northern Ireland have been subjected to violence from pupils in the last year, with 90 percent of staff surveyed saying they have had to deal with challenging behaviour, like students swearing at them in class."


4:53 AM  
Anonymous Frankistan said...

@Sarasvati, you said: "...as good as Bernie might be, if he gets elected president he will have to follow the same agenda as anyone else"

This is why I want Hillary, Cruz, Bush, and Rubio to lose miserably and for Trump to win.
At least Trump may shake up things and either bring the nation to her knees or make changes for good. Everyone else is the same as usual.

Hillary will be worse than Obama, especially with her mentality that she is above the law and above the rules. Read these:

Government Finds 'Top Secret' Information In Hillary Clinton's Emails

Hillary Clinton’s Paid Speeches to Wall Street Animate Her Opponents

"Nine months after leaving the Obama administration, Hillary Clinton sat on a stage under the life-size model of a blue whale that hangs in the American Museum of Natural History.

For a fee of $275,000, she had agreed to appear before the clients of GoldenTree Asset Management, the capstone of a lucrative speechmaking sprint through Wall Street that earned her more than $2 million in less than seven months."


10:16 AM  
Blogger Ordinary Indian said...

"The larger picture is that the imposition of neoliberal economics, and the American Dream, on traditional societies—whether we are talking about India, or Mexico, or Japan—allows a certain sliver of the middle class to rise to near-elite status, but at the expense of the rest of the population ..." you are exactly articulating my experiences (I am an Indian). I wish someone did a deep analysis of what the politics of `development' is doing to the tradition of India (with all its associated problems of stagnation and patriarchy). Any plans of working on the Indian question?

11:53 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I think such analyses exist; I just can't remember the refs. Check out refutations of Thos Friedman's work; he's a big proponent of the globalization of India, and an even bigger shmuck.


11:57 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Dear Morris Berman,

I cannot recall, at the moment, why I visited your blog last week when I was in Tepoztlan, Morelos, but I was intrigued with your post “MacFarland, USA.” I have visited the blog before and have read several of your books, which I quote in my own work.
For forty-two years, I’ve been going to Mexico, and I lived there for a decade in Cuernavaca, San Miguel de Allende (now a suburb of Austin) and Tepoztlan, Morelos, which, in spite of the Internet cafes, still retains some of the magic of Mexico. The most magical spot visited on this trip was a site that I first visited in 1978 call Chalcatcingo, near Cuautla, Morelos—an ancient gathering site for Meso-American shamans that connects the “navel of the heavens” with the “navel of the earth.”
Certainly, I agree with a lot of what you say in “MacFarland, USA” about the cultural differences, but I have to contest what you have said about Dances with Wolves and Avatar (you can keep The Last Samurai, as I don’t really like Tom Cruise). Yes, it’s true, that the Gringo audience likes to be “inspired” by the “white [gringo] savior” but, as you also point out, the savior is transformed by his encounter.
In the case of the two films mentioned above, for me the transformation of the warrior is the most important point—and here’s why. I am a Vietnam veteran with a published memoir of my own 12-year odyssey of healing the wounds (to the soul) of war and gone through my own transformative experience. The transformative experience is an arduous adventure and, while the film media must condense, these two films, Wolves and Avatar, are really prime examples of the transformation of the warrior spirit. I use both films as examples in my lecture “THE WARRIOR SPIRIT AND THE TRAUMA OF MECHANIZED WARFARE,” which I have given in several venues including the Jung Institute in Zurich.
In both films the main character is severely wounded and though the wounds are physical they can, symbolically, be taken as wounds to the soul. And yet, both men stay in the military. Actually, the soul-wounded warrior only has three choices: 1) get out of the military, bury the warrior spirit and live one’s life with all of the dramatic consequences that derive from burying the archetypal warrior spirit in the darkness of the unconscious, from which it devours you; 2) stay in the military, where the warrior spirit is contained by the structure of the mechanized, military machine or 3) seek transformation. Actually, transformation of the warrior spirit is more likely to seek out the soldier, who is driven by archetypal forces beyond his control—and which he may often resent and fight—to complete his transformation-initiation. The purpose of which is clarified in Psychologist Ed Tick’s book, War and the Soul:
“A warrior is one who has learned, through serving the god of war—
the god of destruction and conquest—to embrace the beauty and
fragility of life and the compassion of extreme comradeship. In learning to serve goddess—the protector of the people and the
land—the warrior is transformed into an instrument of justice and
healing.” (War and the Soul, p, 255)
In both films, a wounded warrior stays in the military because his warrior spirit is unfulfilled. His transformation is thrust upon him by archetypal forces beyond his control. For example, the wolf—symbolic of valor among the Romans—is, for the Native American, a totem of the warrior. The film not only shows how the Sioux are losing their cultural identity, it emphasizes the fact that there is no redeeming savior, and that Native Americans are, in fact, the redemption of the White Man.
In spite of the fact that it is placed in a Sci-Fi future with some pretty hockey dialogue, the symbolism in Avatar is even more potent, in terms of the transformation illuminated in Tick’s statement above.
I believe that any film, book, theater, painting or any other form of art or cultural express that even hints at the salvation of “gringos” is worth savoring.

3:41 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


3 informal rules for this blog:

1. Post only once every 24 hrs
2. Limit posts to half a page
3. Send message to most recent post; no one reads the old stuff

Thank you.


11:10 AM  
Blogger jdmeth said...

Most people look at crop harvesting as back breaking work because to them it would be, just as playing football would be body breaking to most people. However most Mexicans are physically different than western Europeans and such work is not a problem. I worked at a produce packing plant where 5 lb consumer bags of potatoes where baled into 50 lb sacks and stacked 40 to a pallet eight high. The Mexican guys could out work me. Of course I was 45 and they where 20 and my main job was to program and maintain the automated machinery, I just stacked sometimes for a workout and to get a little respect. I could do their job but no way could they have done mine. When I was 20 and work on a farm I could unload 100 lb sacks of seed potatoes all day and stack them 9 high, those 5 ft guys couldn't have reached that high. I could also pick up a 100 lb bag off the floor by bending over and putting a hand under each end. Small guys can't do that no matter how strong they are, they can't get enough leverage to pick it up, they have either roll it up their legs or pick up one end and grab it in the middle. Having the right body makes hard work easier.

2:46 PM  
Anonymous KP said...


Speaking OF Eagleton

8:41 AM  

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