December 17, 2018

Against the Current

In 1980, Isaiah Berlin published a collection of essays entitled Against the Current. the book has an intro written by someone named Roger Hausheer, dated 1979. It contains the following long paragraph (italics are mine):

"Surveying the mondern world, Berlin detects at the heart of the most disparate movements, from the nationalist tide in the Third World to the radical unrest among the disaffected young in the industrial technocracies, what may be the early stirrings of a reaction destined to grow into a world-transforming movement. It is the reaction of some irreducible core of free, creative, spontaneous human nature, of some elementary sense of identity, dignity and worth, against all that patronises and diminishes men, and threatens to rob them of themselves. This is but a modern expression, taking novel but recognisable forms, of the great battle begun by Hamann and Herder against the central values of the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century faith in liberal rationalism, cosmopolitanism, science, progress, and rational organisation: a battle waged throughout the nineteenth century by the great unsettling rebels, Fourier, Proudhon, Stirner, Kierkegaard, Carlyle, Nietzsche, Tolstoy, Sorel; and continued in the twentieth by existentialists, anarchists and irrationalists, and all the varying strains of contemporary rebellion and revolt. For all their deep differences, these thinkers, groups and movements are brothers beneath the skin: they fight in the name of some direct inward knowledge of self and free causal agency, and an irreducible sense of specific concrete identity. Rational and benevolent colonial masters and technocratic specialists and experts, no matter how altruistic and honourable their intentions, precisely because they view men as in the first place heteronomous objects to be administered, regimented, and controlled, not free and unpredictably self-transforming causal agents, must necessarily fail to respect and understand this fundamental human craving, and often enough ignore, crush or eradicate it. Rebellion against regimentation takes the form of a demand to do and be something in the world, to be one's own master, free of external intereference--an independent self, whether individual or collective, not dictated to or organised by others. The long and heated contest, which stretches back at least to the middle of the eighteenth century, has never been more alive than it is today."

I was, am, struck by how dated this text is, at least as a portrait of Americans. Certainly it spoke to me, inasmuch as it reflects the aspirations and consciousness of those of us who came of age in the fifties and sixties. But imagine the following experiment: You come up to any random American walking down the street (especially one less than 50 years of age), and somehow manage to separate him or her from his cell fone for 2 seconds. You read him the above paragraph and ask him to tell you what he thinks; what his or her reaction is.

1. On the intellectual level: what are the chances that this poor shmuck recognizes any of the names cited, Nietzsche and Tolstoy included? Pretty small, I'm guessing.

2. On the ontological level: what do the phrases "irreducible core of free, creative, spontaneous human nature," or "fundamental human craving," mean to this guy? Can he or she make sense of them at all? For in order to have that core, that craving, you have to not only be intelligent, but also have a sense of yourself, and these are things that most contemporary Americans simply don't possess. Rather than self-awareness, they have cellfone-awareness, or screen-awareness (not that technology is the only cause of American soul-death). If they ever did have that core or craving, it was erased or co-opted years ago. It is a fair bet that your question will be met with blank incomprehension, for it's not merely that you are talking to a moron (true enough); you are actually talking to a robot. I suspect that nearly 40 years after 1979, no one on this blog would believe that the fight for an independent self "has never been more alive than it is today"--at least,as far as the US is concerned.

From a declinist point of view, of course, the fact that a nation managed, in 40 years, to snuff out what it means to be a human being in most of its population, is no mean achievement. In the Twilight book I argue that one of the key factors in civilizational decline, whether in ancient Rome or contemporary America, is spiritual death. Well, folks, this is what it looks like. Welcome to our world.



Anonymous krakhed said...

Dr. B-

Having recently discovered your work, I feel grateful for this blog and the chance to trade ideas with like-minded folks. Thank you for that.

One of the things I love about your writing is that it has turned me on to some other great literature which I'm slowly plodding through. So my question to you and any other wafers that want to chime in-- Besides the work from Dr. B, What is the essential wafer reading list? I realize there's probably not going to be consensus on this, but I'd love to hear all your thoughts. Sorry if this has already been posted elsewhere. If you can direct me to that, I'd be grateful.


5:34 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

It seems to me, that we are entering a new phase of history: a dark resurgence of dangerous nationalism coexisting w/a deep decay of democracy in the western world. I also think that the yellow vests in France can be compared to the sans cullotes, the commoners who staged an incoherent revolt during the opening stages of the French Revolution. They then became increasingly radicalized, of course. Economic elites have knowingly twisted government to serve them instead of everyone else. They have knowingly changed the economic policies of western governments to benefit them at the expense of everyone else. This is how we got Trumpicus, BTW. Obama and the Clinton Dems basically *pretended* to be on the people's side -- giving us band-aid solutions, ruinous wars, and empty words. Well, the bill is now due, and it's gonna get worse. If they had half a brain (they don't), they would realize the consequences of stepping on the necks of the masses for 30yrs. So when the Revolutions really heat up, I won't shed a single tear for any of them. This may make me a nihilist, (I'm actually a Nilssonist) but I refuse to participate in collective suicide or war on ourselves.



5:43 PM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

@MB--Welcome to our world, indeed. I have to say I'll always be grateful that I am just old enough to have had most of my primary schooling in the 1970s. Even in a small, Republican-dominated rust belt town (that nevertheless had strong unions back then), I was exposed to a wider variety of ideas than I'll bet most Ivy Leaguers are these days--to the extent that I was able to comprehend them back then..

@Tom Servo--heh, welcome to MY world. Where rich, white "Lexus" liberals make up a majority of the population. It's a fairy tale land of McMansions, "lawyer foyers," vacation properties, horse farms, private schools and the very latest fashions and electronic gadgets. Where teenagers own toys worth more than the average American's net worth. Where a clueless woman at a party can make this truly dumb statement: "those Mexican workers at the (horse) barn work so much harder than any American would" without it being challenged despite the fact that those workers probably live four to room and send most of their meager earnings (because she and her friends would be up in arms if they had to bear the cost of paying the "help" a decent wage) back home. You can bet that the wives were all out pussy-hatting while the guys were all out golfing. And don't even think of mentioning these peoples' enormous carbon footprints. You're likely to get thrown out of the country club. At least I think you would--I don't belong myself. I'd rather eat glass than hang out with them any more than my social obligations require me to.

10:10 PM  
Anonymous cos said...

Imagine the heady atmosphere of Berlin, Norman Cohn and John Gray hanging out--he strongly influenced both. Imagine Berlin hanging out with his Cousin the Lubavitcher Rebbe in New York (Berlin was a Schneerson on his mothers side,heir to the teffilin of the Alter Rebbe a Lubavicher who was secular but clearly kept the tradition of mental intensity) Berlin was a great intellect and a nexus of minds and history. One wonders if such men still exist

11:02 PM  
Blogger Penny Lane said...

Thank you for this post, MB! The colonization of the American mind has been an insidious part of our self-inflicted tragedy. Imagine that we are dumbed-down, mesmerized and blunted into tolerating quotidian atrocities and unvarnished ecocide! Spiritual death, indeed. But for me the real kicker has been the banal torment of American interpersonal life.

One of my closest friends, who died of galloping ovarian cancer, possibly thanks to asbestos-infested talcum powder, could not believe the operatically selfish reactions of some of her family and friends to her tragedy.

I could believe it all too well. Having spun-out from my middling class perch into poverty after the great recession, as the water-torture of job, family and health setbacks trickled on, nothing prepared me for the reactions of people whom I turned to for encouragement and moral support. I think that we could add 'schadenfreude' to our list of addictions. *Sigh.* I would say that the “fundamental human craving” includes some measure of empathy, autonomy, and dignity. Oh well.

11:56 PM  
Anonymous DioGenes said...

Nice reading selection MB! It's a good sample of why I think the US 'individualism' is just an economic construct. On a real level, you can't have any actual individualism without even semi-individualized people- just a sort of pantomime of 'freedom'.

For instance, I enjoy the BBC program 'A Point of View', in which presenters have just that. It would be impossible to make it in America because nobody has any opinions that aren't mass-produced. It's like the hell of the victorious Nietzschean herd spirit.

@Les Hommes

Well, ya, gender relations in the US are not much more than a Him idiot and a Her idiot taking turns at trying to poke each other in the eye. They are egged on by the corporate elite, who love to have a workforce suspicious and envious of each other in a gender-charged social Darwinist free for all.

My point was that, in the wider world and in history, women have done a heck of a lot better than Hillary Clinton and Jane from accounting, figures Americans absurdly celebrate as some kind of trailblazers.

2:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is very little understood about the electronic age is that it angelizes man, disembodies him, turns him into software...We are all robots when uncritically involved with our technologies.
Marshall McLuhan

8:47 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I have a feeling the masses are not going to rise up. Lie down even more, perhaps, at least in the US.


Welcome to the blog! It's really the only one worth bothering with. BTW, always, always, capitalize Wafer.


10:40 AM  
Anonymous Pastrami and Coleslaw said...

dg: Good one, I randomly grabbed "Technopoly" by Neil Postman off the shelf this past weekend. Despite being over 25 years old, it has held up pretty well.

"Technopoly eliminates alternatives to itself in precisely the way Aldous Huxley outlined in Brave New World. It does not make them illegal. It does not make them immoral. It does not even make them unpopular. It makes them invisible and therefore irrelevant. And it does so by redefining what we mean by religion, by art, by family, by politics, by history, by truth, by privacy, by intelligence, so that our definitions fit its new requirements. Technopoly, in other words, is totalitarian technocracy."

10:48 AM  
Blogger jjarden said...


A Florida father shot and killed his older son in order to save his younger child after the brothers got into a violent fight over a pool game on Sunday,

12:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am having great trouble logging in as something other than anonymous.
Google Account seems to demand that I have a cell phone; I entered my
land line number and it rejected it. It mentioned something about being
a "guest" but did not give any clear way to become one. Why is there even
a status of anonymous to be clicked when MB does not read anonymous entries?
He suggested that I post this so someone can assist me as


1:09 PM  
Anonymous Cel-Ray Tonic said...

Just saw this regarding our discussion of the rich-white pseudo-progs and douchebags and whateveryoucallMadeleineAlbright:

"The powerful are very good at disseminating their own bullshit,” he says. “They don’t need the intellectual reputation laundering of ideas festivals to make their heavily marketed bullshit smell even sweeter."

though it (as usual) strays toward the "we must" stuff at the end...

3:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


A friend once asked me "if you were to pick three books you'd have to live with for the rest of your life, what would they be?". Since I can't pick books written by the Great Seer of the Western Hemisphere (GSWH) MB, counting out Coming to our Senses, my top 3 would be (in equal order of preference):

a. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance - Robert Pirsig
b. We Need to Talk about Kevin - Lionel Shriver
c. A language Older than Words - Derrick Jensen


3:13 PM  
Blogger alyosha said...

Chris Hedges talks about the transition from a print-based culture to image-based - that's what this posting is about.

I can't find the link (too lazy to search), but Ian Welsh ( talks (maybe a yr or 2 ago) about the decline of long-form argument.

@Bill Hicks - I now understand your hatred of libs, although I don't share it. I grew up in the 1960s/70s in a rust belt, working class town. FDR was a hero to my parents' generation, and the benefits of good government (liberalism) were all around and appreciated by nearly everyone: a government that mostly worked for the benefit of most people, the interstate highways, putting a man on the moon, the invention of the internet (to come) - all acts of good government. Also: a decent, affordable education for people of modest means at a good state university.

I've observed that people born after 1960 are reliably conservative, and to my sensibilities, spitting on everything created before them. It's too bad you missed the 1960s.

Why get worked up over "Lexus Liberals"? I live in materialist, affluent Orange County California, and work among techno-twits (more a clinical term, less of a slur; they simply don't know any better, and are the product of their conditioning). I tell those very few who understand that I'm in exile. However I know that any judgments I may lay upon these people says much more about me than it does about them. They have chosen their path, and I, mine. All my energy is going into getting out, rather than picking useless fights.

3:16 PM  
Anonymous krakhed said...

Thanks Dr. B, I will remember that.

Certainly this represents a blip, but I'm expecting more headlines like this in the future:

I stumbled across this quote recently. I haven't read his work, but many of his book titles have a hopeful ring that I'm skeptical about.

"I used to think the top environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse and climate change.
I thought that with 30 years of good science we could address those problems.
But I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed and apathy...
...and to deal with those we need a spiritual and cultural transformation-and we scientists don't know how to do that." - James Gustave (Gus) Speth

5:09 PM  
Blogger meangenekaz said...

Hola todos los Waferes,

Gee, trump lied. Google: Casper Star Tribune 12/13/2018 "Coal port loses case in court" Out in coal flyover kuntry anyone paying small attention (a small number at best) knows that king coal used to be a merry old soul.

@mauricio - at your past book lecture events, you've usually used a small vocal-support-system. Hence my question. Granted, standing room only attendance, massed party gate-crashers and hordes of moonlighting NYPD security guards; granted the mice-that-roared should be the mice-whisperers, something might be better than nothing...I suppose a megaphone will suffice in a pinch. Just a thought.

Save the best for last department: in my hiatus I finished "Destiny" by reading chapter 3. It was most satisfying. A nod to your comment in the last post.

@PK - Ludwig Wittgenstein was a tortured soul.

5:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr. Berman, thanks for responding. It really is quite a privilege to be able to communicate with a renowned author such as yourself and to hear your opinion on the important issues of our day.

Certainly Wilhelm Reich was quite a peculiar figure. I agree his criticisms of modern society were quite apt and some of the most pointed that I had ever read. His book "Listen, Little Man" is certainly up there amongst his best. I believe a lot of his anger was directed to society and his peers for letting society prosecute him simply for doing his research/studies. No doubt he was vilified by many powerful industries, however it certainly strains credulity in regards to his persecution. Arrested and condemned to death for absolutely nothing - over 2 tons worth of his work burned in the incinerator? Can't think of a single academic figure who was more condemned then Reich (perhaps Tesla). Certainly, if his work was considered that much of a threat to the industries which felt threatened by him, then we do indeed have a lot to learn from him.

10:05 PM  
Anonymous Wudufugel said...

One day, quite a few years ago now, I was working one of my crappy hotel jobs and had to come in early to work a morning event. It was probably 5 am or so. I was back in the kitchen area to grab some coffee, I felt tired as hell and needed some caffeine to get going. While I was standing at the coffee machine an older coworker came over, he was a half-indian guy who to me always seemed to have something wise to say. He looked as tired as I felt.

We both stood there for a moment, a bit detached, kind of surveying the scene: a group of tired, overworked people puttering around before sunrise, drinking awful tasting "coffee" to push ourselves through the day. He looked at me and said "There's got to be more to life than this". Of course I'd heard that phrase many times before that day and I've heard it many times since, but he said it with such conviction I've always remembered that moment.

I think most Americans, if you dig beneath the surface, yearn for something different, its that innate biological desire to feel free. But that part of them has been buried so deep within, that to recover it requires a colossal effort. Most people are stuck just trying to make a living and pay the bills, for those that can get past that, only a fraction can dig themselves out of all of American's damaging mythology. America has become a cruel, stupid nation and so it produces cruel, stupid people. But if those people were put somewhere else, I like to think there is hope they could become something different.

10:22 PM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

@Miles--I'm a bit of a Nilssonist myself, though I've always preferred which was the theme song from Midnight Cowboy--yet another great late 60s/70s flick that would never get green lighted in mainstream Hollywood today, with its endless array of remakes and stupid superhero movies (oh look, FEMALE Ghostbusters, isn't that just GREAT?). A movie that not only requires thinking, but shows the seamy underbelly of American life AND has no silly happy ending--what was the director THINKING?

From Mark Ames today: New York Times, 1918: "Kaiser's German agents inciting American Negroes!" New York Times, 2018: "Putin's Russian agents inciting African-Americans!" 100 years of America blaming structural racism on evil foreigners. This culture is too exhausted to invent new lies. Yep--Hillary lost because black voters are simple-minded and thus easily subject to Putin's evil manipulations. This is how contemptible both liberals and the media have become in America.

Meanwhile: "Hookworm, a disease thought only to affect the developing world, is thriving in some parts of the rural US. And if you think racism has something to do with it, you're right..." Nah, it was Putin, PUTIN I tell ya...

10:32 PM  
Anonymous Matt Fox said...

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey sent an envelope of his beard hair to rapper Azealia Banks so she could craft an amulet talisman to protect Dorsey from ISIS


9:10 AM  
Anonymous Italiana said...

Greeting MB & Wafers from a very cold Italy,

We made it back to our little haven in Italy last night, very cold here, but we are so happy to be back among friends and neighbors, all of whom live much more simply and slowly than anyone I know in the US. Just being here calms us both down.

Fantastic post. Agree with the various comments that the situation has gotten markedly worse in the years since - I don't know many people younger than 50 that could possibly identify any of those philosophers or writers. I read a comment on an article in the NY Times about Russian interference in the 2016 election on Facebook and Instagram (most of the posts could have been posted by any right wing organization) - the comment noted that he suggested that a student (college) of his read Solzhenitsyn's "Gulag Archipelago". Her response - "What's a Gulag?". What do they learn these days? There is no hope.

Meanwhile, a ray of light at a family gathering before we returned to Italy - one young man, just married into the family, was actually aware of US history - US role in the overthrow of Mosaddegh in Iran, Allende in Chile, havoc in Central America. I was actually stunned. Someone who has a clue.

10:28 AM  
Anonymous Pete Christen said...

MB and Wafers. I recommend Isaiah Berlin's short essay from 1988, "The Pursuit of the Ideal." In it you will find an artful critique of America's hustling culture. A quote: "Only barbarians are not curious about where they come from, how they came to be where they are, where they appear to be going, whether they wish to go there, and if so, why, and if not, why not."

10:53 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Just a note to all Anons and Unknowns: I don't post Anons and Unknowns. You need a real handle, like Ludwig Scheisskopf.


Just get outta this country.


Sometimes they clip a mike onto my lapel, but mostly not, unless it's a large audience. As for Wittgenstein: WG ch. 7.


Pls help out Vic Bold (above). I dunno what to tell him.


11:54 AM  
Anonymous Cel-Ray Tonic said...

Vic and other Anons: I just click on the Name/URL option then type in my handle. May I suggest "Corned Beef on Rye" or "Potato Knish" as a name.

Say what? department:

WAfers: The new Blue Planet II is on Netflix streaming right now, highly recommended.

1:27 PM  
Anonymous Hans Castorp said...

Message for Dr Vic Bold:
I was able to post by selecting the Name/URL option under where it says “Choose an Identity” in the comment form. Once you select that option, you can enter any name you choose to use and leave the URL field blank. I did this from a desktop browser, and I expect that posting from a smartfone my present different challenges. Also note that you will hav to complete the image captcha before you are allowed to hit the “Publish yor comment” button. Hope this helps.

2:01 PM  
Anonymous Ted King said...

Mauricio, here are my 2018 film recommendations for your blog. Happy holidays guys!

Leave No Trace~ Debra Granik’s harrowing film about an Iraq War veteran with PTSD and his daughter living off the grid

The Endless~ tells the tale of two brothers who decide to drive out into the wilderness and revisit the cult to which they once belonged.

Wildlife~ the two halves of an imploding marriage, set against a wildfire in the hills of Montana in 1960.

You Were Never Really Here~ a grizzled mercenary hired to take down a New York sex trafficking ring. Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead wrote the score.

3:01 PM  
Blogger jjarden said...

How frustrated and horny do you have to be?

4:33 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,


Great film and soundtrack! I'm very happy yr a fellow Nilssonist. Indeed, Putin is our versatile bogeyman. That said, however, how does President Idioticmeanyhead survive all this? I see no escape route for our Trumpi. NOBODY survives 17 different investigations, w/more to surely come? I could be wrong, of course, but I could see Senate Reps cutting Trumpo loose b4 2020, and the day he's out of office he will be indicted, at minimum, for paying off the gals. In any case, here's my prediction: He'll resign w/in six months, and we're gonna hafta prepare ourselves for the fact that we're not gonna have Trumpola to kick around anymore.


I once had a student ask me what "Greco-Roman" was. I said it was Steely Dan's 3rd album. Same student then asked me to define Steely Dan. Gun to the head moment! Enjoy yr little haven in Italy...


If you can't physically get out, I recommend mushrooms. Do them w/a guide, of course.

MB, Wafers-

Well, another yr over, and a new one just begun, eh? I sincerely hope all of you have a wonderful Holiday and New Year. As for me, I'm about to board that big ol' jet airliner, to touch down in San Francisco. I'll keep an eye out for suede ankleboots and Converse to unload on.

Luv to all,


7:57 PM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

@alyosha--I guess I've heard sentiments such as (in reference to the epidemic of opiate addiction and suicide) "good, I hope more of 'em die. They all voted for Trump anyway," too often and know that had I not left my hometown as a young man that would be me they are talking about even though I'm farther to the left than any of them are. It also grates because I live in Northern Virginia, and these are people who at least peripherally walk the corridors of power and have far more influence on government policy than average Americans. One person I know covers DOD as a pool reporter covering Mattis, and routinely ignores massive Pentagon war crimes and corruption scandals and instead asks the SecDef inane questions about bullshit no one outside the Beltway cares about. Of course, she's a pussy-hatter in good standing. My personal hope is that the stock market crashes below 5,000 permanently and all of these people lose their high paying jobs, great health insurance, huge houses and retirement funds and have to go work at three horrible minimum wage jobs just to survive while snot-nose Ashley and Jasper end up in public school getting their asses kicked everyday by kids who've never been forced to attend sensitivity training. Might beat a little empathy into the whole family.

@MB--hey now HERE is a guy who has likely been reading your stuff: Make America Grate Again. "Shades of Viet Nam: it’s become necessary to destroy the country in order to save it." No Hedges-like hopium!

10:45 PM  
Anonymous Tom Servo said...

@Penny Lane,

Your comment on the “banal torment of American interpersonal life” really hit the nail on the head. I think the low quality of interpersonal life is the worst part about living in America. I find that most friendships in this country are shallow and if you ever fall on hard times most people will not only refuse to help you but they will dump you as fast as they can.

I am always puzzled when I hear foreigners claim that Americans are friendly. I think this is due to the social pressure in America to put on a happy face and act positive so Americans come across as sunny at least on the surface. However, if you have lived here long enough you will find out the truth that Americans are generally not friendly people in any deep sense. Americans are superficially friendly but once you get to know them long enough the mask comes off and you see the nasty reality which is that most Americans are ridiculously selfish and mean-spirited people.

11:41 PM  
Anonymous De burca said...

I'm currently doing research on the development of cultural nationalism and its impact on literature and art in general. Herder is a huge influence and is rather unsung today, even in academic circles, it seems.

5:30 AM  
Blogger Marc L Bernstein said...

Linh Dinh describes his experience recently in Japan :

I disagree with Dinh that it is "bad" for the population of native Japanese to be going down. A hideous famine sometime this century would take it down later anyway.

At the end of the article Dinh says :

"Judging by its history, Japan is eminently capable of reinventing itself, so with its tremendous human capital still largely intact, perhaps it won’t just save itself, but show us all what to do next."

I don't like the term "human capital" , as it pertains to capitalist ideology, but otherwise the remark seems consistent with one of the messages in "Neurotic Beauty".

Congressional "Progressives" [quotation marks are mine] Join Pro Wall St. Coalition :

5:44 AM  
Anonymous DioGenes said...

Why Starbucks Failed In Australia

Short answer: because Aussies aren't turkeys

After failing there, the little Napoleons at Starbucks management decided to press on- to Italy! LOL! Because of all the countries in the world that need a lecture on coffee from Seattle, Italy immediately comes to mind.

Any Aussie Wafers around? I've really enjoyed every interaction I've had with Aussies. I've noticed it's kind of an inverse America. Americans take themselves very seriously but are just empty blowhards. Aussies seem casual so it's easy to underestimate them, but many that I've met are really quite sharp.

8:54 AM  
Anonymous krakhed said...

Thanks Kanye, I will update my reading list.

Another study showing the eroding social capital in America: "3 in 4 Americans Struggle with Loneliness"

11:13 AM  
Anonymous Tyler Kinz said...

"If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away." Thoreau in "Walden"

11:36 AM  
Blogger Michael Burgess said...

Hi Dr. Berman and Wafers:

This essay by Umair Haque is interesting and makes points that many here would agree with. One issue I have with the essay is that he equates 'civilization' with community - you don't need 'civilization' to have purpose, worth and value - community provides that - the decline of purpose, worth and value seem to be why civilizations always fail eventually, certainly Haque admits that this has happened in the United States. Every country that has followed the US's example may very well suffer the US's fate - even formerly great civilizations such as India and China - that they accept America's view of what is important may be a demostration of their own decline.

11:46 AM  
Anonymous Mike R. said...

Alyosha, re: "Why get worked up over "Lexus Liberals"? I live in materialist, affluent Orange County California, and work among techno-twits (more a clinical term, less of a slur; they simply don't know any better, and are the product of their conditioning)."

Wafer Bill Hicks has well-researched arguments re: lexus libs and the like, they're vile, however....

these folks don't know what they don't know. Their "information" is from MSM, mass-produced PC "thinking," and Horatio Alger/Eddie Bernays influences. It's kinda like a village filled with idiots (99.7%). Smile, and move on permanently.

The debt slaves have endless bills and hamstering at some corporate shit house; at the end of the day, they CHOSE this path of willful blindness. Do NOT try to correct them, show them the way, etc...You WILL be met with ferocious attacks.

T-2 until we're refugees from this shit hole.

12:20 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Actually, L.D. wrote me a while ago that he enjoyed rdg "Neurotic Beauty."


And so, here we are again, careening toward the end of another year. Bad yr for America, gd yr for the blog. 2 more yrs of Trumpi, hopefully 6, to look forward to. Deeper into the rump goes the American collective head; an inspiring sight! Empires don't wake up; they die. And above it all floats this blog, an oasis of sanity in a nation of imbecility. Merry Xmas to all, amigos.

12:33 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


The Guardian reports that 60% of Americans now have a favorable view of Bush Jr. We need to start compiling a Shithead Index (SI).


12:51 PM  
Blogger Gunnar said...

I nominate'The Sane Society' by Eric Fromm as essential to the Wafer reading canon.

1:16 PM  
Anonymous Vic Bold said...

Vic Bold is following the advice of Hans Castrop. (THANXX)
It will be a veritable miracle if I am accepted as having the
NONrobitic name of Vic Bold.

1:17 PM  
Anonymous Henri said...

That feeling when you realize Trump is getting us out of this Syria quagmire, that if we had The Botox Face we'd be deeper in it. Then still, putting my views of open-ended military commitment to an undeclared war on the other side of the planet aside, it just smells like Trump sold out in exchange for something from the people who now get to bomb the shit out of Northeastern Syria.

I need a drink.

1:45 PM  
Anonymous Vic Bold said...

Why build a wall with all this potential opportunity for illegal immigrants?

2:20 PM  
Anonymous Italiana said...

Greetings all!

@Bill Hicks - your comment on the NY Times 1918 version of "German agents inciting American Negroes" reminds me of a book by Vincent Cannato, "American Passage: A History of Ellis Island". In the book he talks about how the power structure and media demonized those immigrants from Southern Europe, excoriating them in the crudest terms as ignorant, stupid, and generally beneath the "better" stock from northern Europe. The terms and epithets he quotes have been recycled for each successive wave of immigrants, being currently used to great effect for those from Central America. The power structure and media don't need to invent new lies - the vast majority of the population don't remember/never learned the old ones, so there's no penalty for recycling them!

@Matt - I second MB's response - just leave!! I can't tell you how liberating it is.

3:32 PM  
Anonymous David Nadler said...


4:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Home is where you park it":

4:46 PM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

@Tom S/Penny L -- Bingo on both of your comments. I found out during my cancer struggle how shallow so many American friendships are. Mostly what we got were superficial gestures early on--and as my battle stretched into its second year they seemed to get bored with it and we got offered even less than that. Of course, they all heartily congratulated me when I finally "beat" it, so there's that.

@Henri--I've been staunchly against every American war of the 21st century, including Afghanistan, and astonishingly Trump is now pledging to end that quagmire as well. Something is going on behind the curtain that we can't see--but I think it's centered here in Washington. As for the Kurds, the former CIA and military officer and Presidential Daily Briefer Patrick Lang has been warning for several years on his blog that it was just a matter of time before America inevitably "betrayed" them. Their eyes should have been wide open given daddy shithead Bush's inaction back in 1989. The real Bill Hicks once said--in trashing Bush's case for the Gulf War--something to the effect that when Saddam was gassing the Kurds, Bush couldn't even be bothered to interrupt his round of golf.

Wafers--so how are you guys liking all the chaos in the financial markets? Seems you can't just go around racking up $22 trillion in debt and then go around pissing off three of your biggest foreign creditors (China, Russia & Saudi Arabia), which may be why the Fed is continuing to raise interest rates. The Fed's choice appears to be between a major recession and the collapse of the dollar. Either way, 2019 looks like it is going to be a declinist's wet dream.

12:32 AM  
Blogger jjarden said...


1:34 AM  
Anonymous Monty said...

Stewart Brand, the man behind the Whole Earth Catalogue, the stunning
Earthrise photo, online communities, and the ecomodernist movement, is the 2019 Paradigm Award Winner!

9:48 AM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Hello Wafers:

I haven't posted anything in a while, and I'm not sure how this story fits into the Great Wafer Narrative, but it's hilarious:

Three involved in naked kidnapping have rare psychotic disorder: court

When RCMP arrived, the group were chanting and refusing to get out of the vehicle. They clung to each other and the SUV.

One of the teens believed the police "were monsters who would kill them," said the document.

Officers said the group displayed extreme strength. Two were pepper sprayed but seemed unaffected. The three adults were also shot with Tasers several times.

One also slid under the SUV and had to be dragged out with a strap.

The neighbours later told Mounties the group seems "demonized" and "obviously not in their right minds."

Happy Festivus everyone.

10:45 AM  
Anonymous Vic Bold said...

Thank you, Jesus, Allah, the Buddha, and all other unemployable deities for guiding
Vic Bold into finally having a name.
(1)For others who have difficulty, make sure they do NOT confuse Name/URL with
Name OF URL instead of Name OR URL (whatever that means).
(2)Wafer may have to be expanded to Whifer (why humanity inevitably failed).
(3)Do you think any of your readers (maybe even you?) would consider being the
new Secretary of Defense? Act fast before it goes to a temp agency.

1:12 PM  
Anonymous COS said...


Who knows about motives? The mass media and progs seem to think they are able to read minds. Its fascinating (and as you point out a strange feeling for many) to see Trump move to pull out troops from Syria and Afghanistan, lead criminal justice reform which mostly benefits poor minorities and at the same time realize that progressives (and media) hate trump more than they care for peace or that poor minorities will not spend 40 years in prison for selling a lid of pot. What motivated Trump to do this? Who knows! Vanity, some dark conspiracy or maybe a stopped clock is right twice a day. Nassim Taleb put it well: "I can easily understand that someone can hate Donald Trump. But hating Trump more than loving peace is not a morally defensible position". On other Trump developments, he announced the signing of the farm bill on twitter. He attached a video of himself with a hat, overalls and a pitchfork singing the theme from Green Acres. Yes he did. Quite antic and self deprecating Say what you will, the guy does not have a stick up his ass like Obama or Botox face who rev on about the "dignity of the office" and are well boring...Say what you will Trump is many things but not boring--appropriate for Fin de Sequile as humor needed in transitions. Alternatives and saivors to Trump? What a Sanders or Clinton-apropos of Berlin;" Utopias have their value, nothing so wonderfully expands the horizons of human potentialities, but as guides to conduct the can prove literally fatal".

1:28 PM  
Blogger Gunnar said...

A cpl movie recommendations

First Reformed - christian minister confronts the end of humanity

Roma (Netflix) - terrific movie from Mexico

2:34 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Glad u finally sorted things out. Now, pls observe our rules. One of them is: post only once every 24 hrs. Thank you.

Meanwhile, here's what's real news to Americans:

Personally, I'm very excited abt this.


2:57 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: remember all those turkettes who got excited abt 'leaning in' (b4 they put on pussy hats)?

Another fad down the toilet! God, I love it.

3:04 PM  
Anonymous Janelle said...

This year's American installment of the Night of Ideas will feature appearances by philosophers, musicians, artists and a puppet of Noam Chomsky. Depending on the venue, shots of Socrates, Kant and Nietzsche will be supplemented with chasers of yoga, tai chi, meditation, music, dance and virtual reality experiences.

Looks like fun!

6:11 PM  
Blogger CB said...

I haven't posted in a while . In the past few days I have really been brought down by several encounters over several days. 1- walked into gas station , said hello to clerk. She looked at me , no response. 2- went out to shovel driveway , neighbor across street comes out , does not look up , shovels, goes back into house. 3- go to gym. Scan my card. Man at desk is sitting with arms folded across chest, says hostile hello while not even looking at me , but looking down. 4- was a victim of gossip at work to which no one will acknowledge and through a long , insane chain of events prompted me to quit. I could go on, but I wont. This is a broken society and I am started to get a proper complex and depressed by trying to live here.

Thanks for understanding what most here dont or wont.

Cheers and merry christmas.

6:19 PM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

Wafers--I assume you are all familiar with the shut down of Gatwick Airport by private drones--well, you'll be happy to know that the technodouchebags in the drone industry fear a huge loss of profits should one take down a major airliner than they are worried about the massive loss of life such an event would entail.

Meanwhile, another one of these shitty for-profit colleges just abruptly closed, with the assholes who ran it having the stones to blame the Department of Education for greatly tightening the restrictions for the school's students to receive federal student aid when it was no doubt just another worthless scam diploma mill. The staff and students were informed of the closing on a Monday morning as they showed up for classes and were told to gather their stuff and immediately leave the premises.

While it is nice that even under evil old witch Betsy DeVos the DOE still retains enough effectiveness to shut down a scam university (even though the students are now getting doubly screwed), here are two social problems that if we had any sense would not exist. There should be no such thing as private ownership of drones, nor should there be any such thing as private universities, especially not ones that prey on the poor and working class.

On that note, I'm blessedly leaving the imperial capital for few days. Hope everyone has a great holiday--even if it has no religious meaning for you.

12:29 AM  
Anonymous DioGenes said...

Will Self on the ideology of personal finance

Been reading, and throughly enjoying, David Graeber's "Debt:The First 5,000 Years". He exposes economic life as little more than an empty ritual, a kind of social madness in which the rulers basically coerce everybody into running around to get enough imaginary currency to pay their 'debt' and 'taxes'. Markets are actually an invention of the state, which sets the initial 'debt' everybody else then has to meet in the state's own currency.

Oh, also, apparently only conquered peoples would be subject to taxes in antiquity. It was mostly seen as a form of tribute.

As somebody who has to stress over reporting a meager independent income to the state, which will then give me most of that money back, I've never been so disgusted with all things 'money'. As Graeber says, money is a kind of last resort as a way of keeping society together. If you can't get through life without paying a bunch of people off, you are probably dealing exclusively with angry, indifferent, hostile people. It's really rather psychopathically antisocial to measure out all human relations down to two decimals, but that's the world we've made.

3:48 AM  
Blogger jjarden said...

You don’t have to be Sigmund Freud to clearly see that this country is being led by a crazy man....

Inside Trump's love of self-admiration

4:04 AM  
Anonymous Nann Milne said...

Interview with existential psychotherapist Irvin Yalom on how his approach to psychotherapy has changed after 60 years in the consulting room - 60 years! -

8:09 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Life in America will disappt u a lot less if you realize, and keep in mind, that those around you are jackasses. It's easy to forget this, and believe u.r. dealing with normal human beings.


11:40 AM  
Anonymous Noah said...

Noam Chomsky says US should stay in Syria to protect the Kurds

It's a strange time in American politics.

1:09 PM  
Anonymous Vic Bold said...

Someone once said, "Without memory, there is no understanding." I know someone who goes to
Apple school to understand her Apple computer. Its staff is all young perky techie types
and draws the line for the past at 1990; "If anything happened before then, it has no
effect on me." Eric Hobsbawm reported a student asking him, "Why is it called World War
Two? Was there one before it?" This suggests that Mrs. Obama's boots will also be forgotten.
(I hope this is not within the rule of 24 hours.)

1:51 PM  
Anonymous Eva M said...

Best UFC fight ever? Jordan Peterson itching to take on Slavoj Zizek – ‘any time, any place’

4:05 PM  
Anonymous Cameron Alexander said...

We Know How Trump’s War Game Ends

Nothing unites our political class like the threat of ending our never-ending war
Neil & COS

Read this Taibbi column on Trump's withdrawal and the ridiculous reactions from the elites and MSM

4:32 PM  
Anonymous Italiana said...


@CB - I'm so sorry to hear about your particularly bad stretch of dealing with the turkeys. Don't get a complex - it isn't you, it's them and this sick society!

@Dio - Thanks for the rec for Graeber's book, sounds fascinating, and really rings true. Graeber seems to be on to something. On this same note (not quite, but close), here is an interview with the classical economist Michael Hudson, whose thesis is that the current neoliberal, Milton Friedman school of economics has flipped the definitions of basic economic terms to serve the interests of the rich and of capital - e.g. freedom is now defined only as freedom for capitalists to do what they will, everyone else - too bad.

He also wrote a book on how ancient societies actually understood that debt would increase exponentially, and would periodically declare "debt jubiliees", forgiving all debts, so the society could get back on track.

3:10 AM  
Anonymous Megan C. said...


Yes, the "non hello" when you wave to someone or actually say "hello" is one of the more charming features of American life. I've had the exact same experience several times in the past week. Just yesterday as I was driving home I waved directly at a neighbor pushing her baby in a stroller. She clearly saw me wave, but she just looked at me like a zombie. And then I walked past another woman at work and said, "Hi, how are you?" and she just looked at me too--kind of like she was in a diving suit and I was worlds away. In any case, I just wave and say hi to people as kind of a game now. I don't expect a response. But it's the little things like this that tell you the whole story.

Still, don't forget that if you look a little bit behind the veil, there's a whole world--a whole shimmering, blissful, achingly beautiful cosmos--out there. Try to always keep that in mind and don't let them crush your spirit. On that note, I hope everyone has a truly joyous Christmas!

4:36 AM  
Anonymous Tom Servo said...

Good article on the transformation of Christmas from a rowdy festival to a commercialized domestic holiday. It is a good reminder that pre-industrial societies were not all about misery and that peasants had fun too. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if your average medieval peasant had more fun on Christmas than your typical Westerner does today.

8:23 AM  
Anonymous Chad said...

Mauricio -

I just finished 'The doomsday machine' by Daniel Ellsberg. Best and also most important, by far, of my 2018 reads.

The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner

In your thesis and predictions, is global thermonuclear war an immediate concern or consequence? Somewhere between reading Ellsberg's and also Schlossberg's 'Command & Control' i became convinced it is still a key existential risk. Did you read thru either of these?

Happy merry WAFers!

11:07 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Haven't read them.


Myself, I prefer Nancy Sinatra's boots.


1:44 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Then there's this:

2:05 PM  
Blogger Gunnar said...

Yet another, this one lethal, example of frayed, atomized relationships. Can't come up with any snark so...

Yuletide greetings to all!

3:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wafers, MB,

Hope ur all hanging in there with your non-Wafer families. Alcohol and food comas are my coping mechanisms.

Much recommended documentary on "McYoga":


4:15 PM  
Anonymous Vic Bold said...

On Ellsberg: Do you remember those happy carefree days of the Cold War when the US had
10,000 (TEN THOUSAND) targets combined in USSR and China? I continue to vigorously disagree
with your taste in boots of the stars...this Nancy Sinatra is beneath you! Show a bit of
both style and class by watching the complete "Rocky Horror Picture Show"on YouTube to view the kinky footwear of a true star, Tim Curry. It is also--in an odd way--an excellent
Christmas movie.

4:42 PM  
Blogger Nesim Watani said...

Jordan Peterson has avoided debating Douglas Lane of Zerobooks and Professor Richard Wolff because as Douglas pointed out, Peterson doesn't have a clue about what he talks about. This can be seen in how Peterson claim to be a huge fan of Fredrick Nietzche, and yet, he ignores Genealogy of Morals, which can be said to be Nietzche assault on the same Christian morality that Peterson invokes as the source for values needed in the world.

Peterson is a charlatan and fits the mold of a narcissistic ass that exalts himself in the myriad of ass festivals his followers hold for him.

Anyway, real news had a great takedown of George Bush Sr, which the media and many awful people act like he is some sort of good human...

5:25 PM  
Anonymous Yoogoogyoolator said...

Best evidence of why Stephen Hawking thought any alien race would be hostile. Pinkerton should clip and tape to his bathroom mirror. Questions can be directed to Hedges. Gates can fill in the awkward silence with "these are exciting times". Indeed, like super nova exciting. God is laughing, so should we!

@Matt Fox & @Dio
Have you met Alan?

9:33 PM  
Blogger jjarden said...

Burned out on Collapse....

1:34 AM  
Anonymous Italiana said...

@Chad - I have also read Daniel Ellsberg's book. It is chilling. Despite having worked for many years in DoD (Navy), but in Intelligence, and later than Ellsberg, my exposure to these types of plans was only on the periphery. But what he says rings true. Once, when I was a young analyst, I participated in a war game at the Naval War College in Newport, RI. I was shocked to hear various senior participants very casually discussing using tactical nukes, no qualms at all from anyone. It was the first of many wake up calls for me.

I actually do believe we are too close to nuclear war, primarily due to the actions of the US - withdrawing from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty (which was designed to increase missile flight times, giving everyone a slightly longer time to properly evaluate a situation), threatening to put short range missiles right on Russia's border (which would severely shorten any response time, and would have been barred by the INF treaty), and withdrawing from the Iranian nuclear deal, to name just a few examples. I personally find Trumpi's appt of John Bolton, who has never found a treaty he likes, or a war he didn't like, ominous. Scary times.

10:03 AM  
Anonymous Pastrami and Coleslaw said...

A funny takedown of the "Green New Deal" yet still capitalist types here:

10:20 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Be bold! Embrace Nancy! She's gonna walk all over you. Which will give you the style and class you badly need. (Actually, someone once said she looked like a pizza waitress.)


Have a Merry etc. Bk rec: Michel Houllebecq, "The Map and the Territory." Won the Prix Goncourt.


10:32 AM  
Anonymous Mike R. said...

Christmas Tymes 2018 us empire observations---scowls, facial contortions akin to smelling flatulence, no affect when one says excuse me, hello; rapid/pressured speech/eyes darting, magazine racks filled with Anglo-Saxon douche baggery worship--Markle/Brit shit, GW Bush legacies/awesomeness, which "hero" fire/police/military man is the hottest, 1001 ways to makes lotsa $ in 2019!

For kicks, we give enthusiastic greetings/smiley faces and see what type of response we get (mostly blank stares/listless expressions).

This is of course, excellence news and right on target for THE shit hole country.

Make america disappear!

12:11 PM  
Blogger Jack Lattemann said...

Holiday greetings from Cascadia, Wafers, here’s your regional news update:

“Clopening” and erratic work schedules take a toll on local workers:

And in my home city of Olympia, a judge is now allowing a city-supported homeless tent camp to remain open; Thurston County Superior Court Judge James Dixon denied the request by business owners for an injunction against the camp. An estimated 300 homeless campsites have sprung up around Olympia over the past year. Collapse before our very eyes, and giving lie to the ballyhooed “full employment” having anything to do with keeping a roof over one’s head:

Seattle Times economic columnist Jon Talton does connect some dots by pointing out too many people are stuck in crummy jobs, and often multiple crummy jobs:

And finally, the perfect killer gift under the holiday tree in the average Merican household: Alexa -

3:16 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Actually, I thought your predictions/observations were spot-on. Obama is a nothing, and Michelle is a turkette. We need some commentary on Meghan, however: one of the great douche baguettes of the 21st C.


Not clear to me why these homeless people weren't gunned down like dogs. These campsites give America a bad name. Can't have that.


3:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

MB, sorry for breaking the 24-hour rule by 30 mins, but you guys have to check this out:

Looks like the domino effect of "baby it's cold outside" is kicking in. I can't wait for 2019!


4:51 PM  
Anonymous Cruttenden said...

Netflix has an eight-hour-long series called Trotsky. Wonderful period production. Russian&English subtitles. Scenes @ the 1940 eve of the murder to revolutionary Russia. Hitler and Mao had nothing on Trotsky Lenin Stalin

8:00 PM  
Anonymous Aaron Thomas said...

Jack - I'm also in the NW and the homeless tragedy has been on my mind for years. There's one group - the NIMBY types that don't really want to do anything about homelessness, notably, by allowing for multifamily housing in the city. A second group - you have the people who prefer "a la carte handouts" which for them involve token acts of charity and patting themselves on the back (e.g. giving a homeless person a sandwich), while doing nothing meaningful for the problem. Then you have religious people, who do some to help, but it's far too little. Mixed in with this is the constant call for more taxes to throw at homelessness, which I see as more a political game played by social justice warriors to back their political views than to help people. Some of these groups mix together, so you'll have a NIMBY type who is religious while giving a trivial amount of money so they can alleviate some of the guilt for what they're doing. Or you'll have a NIMBY social justice warrior that keeps housing prices high through zoning laws, then tries to make up the difference in taxes.

The overarching thing I think is that people don't really want to do anything, they don't want to leave the comforts of their situation, and they don't really care about homeless people. Obviously we have the money to get all homeless off the street, but we don't want to do that.

7:53 PM  
Anonymous BrotherMaynard said...

Wishing a Merry Christmas or Seasons Greetings to my fellow Wafers....

Special thanks to Wafer Sarasvati for introducing me to the work of Father Richard Rohr- my kind of priest (i.e bordering on excommnication). I've noticed a funny thing about the Roman Catholic Church: all the priest who actually try and implement the teaching of Jesus Christ such as Thomas Merton, Teilhard de Chardin, Richard Rohr, James Martin, etc. run afoul of Rome. Go figure.


11:53 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Check out the "Grand Inquisitor" section in Brothers Karamazov.


11:05 AM  
Blogger Gunnar said...

Of course xmas dinner w/ relatives was difficult kept mouth full of food to keep it shut ;) a little different this yr I felt sadness/empathy more than anger - my nieces and nephews are getting started in life and they have such naive childlike faith in technology & belief in everything getting better and better all the time, work hard and get the reward something I've always equated to a lab mouse finding its food pellet. I won't say anything instead trusting my presence is enough of a warning as well as an understanding I'll b there when things go to shit.

I see homeless people every day I'm about a half step ahead of them - everything Aaron said is absolutely true. Since we've been w/o even a warming shelter one church took it upon themselves to make bag lunches of pb&j stating they wanted to do more but local ordinance won't allow it now that they've opened a warming shelter I'm guessing they feel relieved of responsibility - gotta say too that some homeless deserve no pity they're diseased nasty folks if you gave them a mansion they'd find a way to fuck it up.

Richard Rohr is great he publishes a daily meditation you can get each morning as an email.

12:01 PM  
Anonymous Rolf said...

Poop and personality: Paper resurrects the Freudian "anal" character, who holds back assets and excrements.

2:55 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

An article from the (UK) Guardian’s website today may find WAFers nodding in agreement:

America only wants the 'best' immigrants, but would its own people pass the test?

And, embedded as a link, this study that likely won’t tell WAFers anything they don’t already know/suspect:

The immigrant paradox: immigrants are less antisocial than native-born Americans

In Trump We Trust, All Others Pay Cash.

3:27 PM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

Back from having spent the holiday in the super-liberal, academic and professional enclave of Charlottesville. Having been visiting regularly for the past 25 years, I was struck (almost literally on one occasion), by how much more prevalent aggressive driving has become there. It's like still being up here in NoVa without all of the expressways--which is worse. The next thing I noticed is that about 60% of the vehicles are SUVs, large pickup trucks and luxury vehicles. So much for well off liberals and their supposed concern about global warming. The number of street people hanging around the downtown mall has exploded (there has always been some, given that it's a college town), which probably isn't surprising given that the cost of living has also exploded and is approaching NoVa levels that even the middle class can barely afford.

But the most striking observation was the sight of the Robert E. Lee statue that caused all of the recent mayhem still standing (like a stone wall?) in the courthouse square, surrounded by a small fence and watched by surveillance cameras. Two people dead (one a state trooper in a helicopter crash), many more injured and the divide between Americans greatly worsened--for nothing. Fortunately my dad and my brothers are all pretty hip to what is really wrong with America if not actually full blown Wafers. That made it all a little more bearable.

4:52 PM  
Blogger Himanshu said...

Dear Dr. Berman and Wafers,

Seasons Greeting s and a Happy New Year! Hope that this blog continues to flourish with its Wafering. Below is a Waferesque column which in the last paragraph says the following (dual process?):

The huge imponderable at present seems to be the following:

In the coming decades, which form of globalization will have more influence over human lives – that of finance, power and violence, or that of awareness, understanding and compassion? The latter would be in harmony with the living economics of nature, while the former represents the economics of death, which is nothing but camouflage for the greed and lust of Homo Implacatus.

Best wishes,

5:35 PM  
Blogger jjarden said...

Here comes Santa Claus......

Ex-Walmart Santa Claus arrested after bodies of his 2 children unearthed from yard

8:29 PM  
Blogger meangenekaz said...

Hola todos los Waferes,

"For a wide variety of reasons, it is very far from my intention to express an opinion upon the value of human civilization. I have endeavoured to guard myself against the enthusiastic prejudice which holds that our civilization is the most precious thing that we possess or could acquire and that its path will necessarily lead to heights of unimagined perfection. I can at least listen without indignation to the critic who is of the opinion that when one surveys the aims of cultural endeavour and the means it employs, one is bound to come to the conclusion that the whole effort is not worth the trouble, and that the outcome of it can only be a state of affairs which the individual will be unable to tolerate." - Sigmund Freud

@MB Thanks for the reading suggestion Mauricio, i.e."Civilization and its Discontents". It was a good weekend past. Including my annual review of the fave Dickens tale, one of the only dvds I own, George C. Scott in "A Christmas Carol" (he was superb). No bah humbug here, when we have the planet's bestest blog! And god bless us every little (Waferinos) one!

Let it snow, baby it's cold outside!

8:44 PM  
Anonymous krakhed said...

Hope you all survived Christmas gatherings with families and in-laws. I stumbled across an oldie but a goody film recommendation The Network (1976). Dark and satirical, I enjoyed it greatly.

10:14 PM  
Blogger Frederick Froth said...

Im from Australia which is a virtual paradise compared to Amerika.

Re the comment by Gunnar on nasty diseased people check out the book by Nancy Eisenberg titled White Trash The 400-Year Untold History of Class In America. A significant percentage of USA citizens were/are truly despicable.

11:03 PM  
Anonymous Italiana said...

Greetings Wafers & MB!

We had a lovely Christmas with friends, good food, interesting conversation. They're not Wafers, but not the mainstream either. Proto-Wafers, shall we say?

Found this in The Atlantic - all about how giving allowances to kids for doing chores around the house is something that is only found in the US/Western cultures. Basically trains the little ones to expect payment for doing chores that should be a natural part of any family/community. Gotta train them to be hustlers right from the get-go!

2:41 AM  
Anonymous Christensen said...

Total of 2018 Condemnations adopted at UN General Assembly:
🇮🇱 Israel 21
🇮🇷 Iran 1
🇸🇾 Syria 1
🇰🇵 North Korea 1
🇷🇺 Russia 1
🇲🇲 Myanmar 1
🇺🇸 US 1
🇩🇿 Algeria 0
🇨🇳 China 0
Hamas 0
🇮🇶 Iraq 0
🇵🇰 Pakistan 0
🇶🇦 Qatar 0
🇸🇦 Saudi 0
🇸🇴 Somalia 0
🇹🇷 Turkey 0
🇻🇪 Venezuela 0
🇿🇼 Zimbabwe 0

I learned from the UN General Assembly that Israel is 21 times worse than North Korea. ???!!!


8:22 AM  
Anonymous Mike R. said...

Wafer Bill Hicks got me thinking re: us empire currency mottos--

"All for nothing." "I got mine, fuck you." "The ends justify the means." "What's in it for me?" "We need to take it to the next level." "Someday my ship will come in." "Not my problem." "We will never apologise for america, never." "Employment at will." "Do whatever it takes." "All for one, one for none." "Emotionally stunted, under God, for corporate worship we trust."

Also, perhaps, a montage of 'extreme' porn stars on their currency--since usa-ers have a vociferous appetite for this american 'culture.' Yet, many get offended when they see a nipple from a usa, usa, sports game.

8:29 AM  
Anonymous Tom Servo said...


I would also recommend the book "Catholic Modern: The Challenge of Totalitarianism and the Remaking of the Church" by James Chappel. It discusses how the Catholic Church dealt with modernity and especially the challenges presented by totalitarianism in the 1930s. The book has helped me make sense of the different factions within the Church and among Catholics.

The one downside is that the book focuses mostly on European Catholicism so it is perhaps less helpful for Americans. That being said I think Chappel does a good job broadly presenting the different ways in which Catholics responded to modernity.

10:27 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Don't forget my favorite, after we fucked over Iraq in 1991, from Bush Sr.: "What We Say, Goes." (They didn't mention that at his funeral."


Fabulous film: "Woman Walks Ahead." Speaking of Native American history, I'm now re-rdg "An Indigenous Peoples' History of the US," by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. On p. 1 she writes: "It shd not have happened that the great civilizations of the Western Hemisphere...were wantonly destroyed, the gradual progress of humanity interrupted and set upon a path of greed and destruction." Thesis of bk is that settler-colonialism and genocide were foundational to the existence of the US." Have we changed much since those days?


11:06 AM  
Anonymous SrVidaBuena said...

Without necessarily endorsing this in its entirety, seems to speak to the 'rot' at the spiritual core... and yet more news from Cascadia. Not an inaccurate depiction of Seattle based on my few, recent trips downtown.

11:42 AM  
Anonymous Tirman25 said...

Kids are being traumatized by lockdowns. They've wept, soiled themselves, written farewell letters to their family members, and drawn up wills saying what should be done with their toys

I would not raise kids here

12:12 PM  
Anonymous Vic Bold said...

The first sample of Donald J. Trump presidential papers are now available. Act fast
because supplies are limited.

1:23 PM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

@Mike R--Great list! Don't forget: "Money Talks & Bullshit Walks"

@Christensen--the real farce is that the U.S. was only condemned once.

Here's a great year-end read: THE 25 WORST HEADLINES OF 2018.

This one is pretty good, too: The British Royals Have Always Been Scum. "Despite generations of imperial murder, torture, rape, and plunder, the British ruling class still gets the brown-nose treatment in historical depictions. Not so in The Favourite, where the royals are shown as the disgusting creatures they were and still are."

And finally--A rare Tweet that's a rare treat: "I think people who think Trump is just an ignorant moron underestimate him. He *is* an ignorant moron, but he has the basic salesman ability to read a room of equally ignorant, stupid people and tell them what they want to hear. It's a rare and useful skill."

4:47 PM  
Anonymous Zapotosky said...

The Hardest Course in the Humanities?

In 1941, W.H. Auden taught a class that required 6,000 pages of reading. Who would dare revive that syllabus? The University of Oklahoma. And students are lining up to enroll.

7:42 PM  
Anonymous Aaron Thomas said...

Gunnar, I have a hard time just saying we should totally give up on anyone that's homeless, even if they're an addict and thief. Everybody deserves a meal and a place to sleep, but people do have to take at least some minimal responsibility. Some people may need more tough love, just cut off the people who are capable and refuse to help themselves. I'd rather give people the benefit of the doubt until they prove themselves otherwise. I know people who will perpetually take advantage of others, but I can't imagine most homeless people are also awful people in general, most are just down on their luck.

Just to put this out there, most people who go to church aren't any different than those outside of the church, except they think they're good people. I would guess at least 95% of people who attend churches regularly will end up in hell, if not a higher percentage. For the bulk of these people, there is no observable difference in their life vs that of the average person. It's still all noise, overeating, busyness, electronics, and shopping.

Good luck getting these people to put down their cell phones and not watch NFL for 1 day of the week, much less any difficult sacrifices or substantial changes. People with nice cars and lots of money have a hard time even giving $5 to the poor.

8:44 PM  
Anonymous Cosmo said...

Highest recommendations for this Japanese film The Shoplifters

9:46 PM  
Blogger jjarden said...


What Americans DO BEST!!

10:44 PM  
Anonymous Megan C. said...

The comments about "McYoga" reminded me of a funny story. I was living in South India for an extended period (I should never have come back. Big mistake.), and there was this one sannyasin (world renunciate) whom I kept running into. He seemed sincere at first, and we had several long conversations about the Gita, Swami Vivekananda and the like. He certainly looked the part with the ochre robe, the beads, topknot, ashes smeared on his face, etc. It turned out, though, that he lived most of the year in New York, and made a killing teaching "Yoga" to this particular group of rich women.

Anyhow, there was something unwholesome about him that put me on my guard. He always seemed to be hitting on me. But our paths crossed several times a week, at the Ganesha temple, various "pujas" where he would sit there cross-legged for eight hours singing bhajans and meditating, etc. Then, alas, one day I found him in an internet café looking at porn! I was appalled. I was standing behind him, and when he suddenly turned around he didn't even show the slightest sign of embarrassment. He just gave me a leering smile and muttered something about "The Left Hand Path." I smiled too and then shook my head and walked away, avoiding him at all costs from that point on. But, yeah, he certainly knew what he was doing when he brought his racket to America! At all events, this is now what I think of when I hear "American Yoga." (Namaste!) But yikes, I wonder if he is still out there scamming rich and gullible American women?

6:26 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I crossed swords with the Rajneeshee at a conference in Germany in the 80s. They were so totally brainwashed it was frightening. Shortly after I left, Ma Sheela, his right-hand-gal, turned against him and the headline in the German papers was (quoting her): "To Hell With Rajneesh." The baghwan was a bagman, and conned a lot of people. The crucial pt, however (to me, at least), is how desperate people in capitalist societies are for meaning, and for community. The phenomenon of Hitler shdn't surprise us. (BTW, I think there is a Netflix series on their attempt to take over a small town in Oregon, but I haven't been able to see it.)


Ah, poor Laquisha; I remember this case well. The older gent accidentally brushed against Laquisha's daughter, very slightly, as he was walking along; our hero went nuts. But instead of being given a medal of honor for her heroism (beating him with a brick), she got arrested. What an upside down world! Note that the original coverage said she wd be charged with attempted murder. Now, she faces a mere 15 yrs in the slammer. (ps: why she wasn't carrying an AK-47, like any responsible American would, I have no idea.)


I proclaim this The Year of Meghan Markle! Whatta gal! Those hats of hers have captured the hearts of millions.


10:35 AM  
Anonymous Vic Bold said...

Strange is America to read that to be free means to treat every other person as a potential enemy who wants to either kill or enslave you. Darwin meets Edmund Burke? Just viewing for 30 seconds gives you all you need to know.

1:32 PM  
Blogger Uncle Mark said...

The Netflix series about Rajneesh's attempt to take over an Oregon town is Wild Wild Country.

4:07 PM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

Great holiday headlines in idiot America:

“You Love Those Dogs More Than You Love Me”: Chicago Attorney Arrested After Throwing Wife’s Dogs Off Balcony. Check out the mugshot of THIS sociopath.

18-year-old charged with felony arson for flaming bag of feces. In this case we have possibly the most douchebaggy mugshot ever taken.

Med Flight rescue mission aborted, pilot injured after someone shined laser pointer at helicopter. "Not only do we urge people not to do this, it's illegal to do so," said Smith. "Aside from that, it's just common decency and care for fellow humans." Expecting "common decency" from Americans? That's crazy talk.

And finally--a dispatch from Shithole Nation:

Deadly Hepatitis A Outbreaks Are Exposing Crumbling U.S. Public Health Infrastructure. But of course there's a movement afoot by asshole NIMBYs to place the blame on the victims--most of whom are homeless and don't have health insurance.

7:14 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

I recently went to Poor People Dental Care for an extraction. After 4 1/2 hours waiting, I was finally led to the chair by a guy who seemed fresh out of dental school.

During extraction the tooth broke up, and he had to dig out the roots piece by piece. It was neverending agony. While I moaned in pain a dental colleague stepped over & thrust a beefy arm over my face to proffer his cell phone to the assistant, inviting him to yuck it up over some dumb picture. Later as I writhed in agony a woman's voice behind my chair chuckled over some joke or other.

Both dentists seemed astonished that I should be in in such pain, & insisted repeatedly that I wasn't & couldn't be because Lidocaine. In fact the pain was so bad that at a couple of points I wished I would die so that it would end.

At last a more competent dentist finished the job. I think the experience lasted about 50 minutes in all. It is without doubt the worst of my life. Basically, I was tortured: not out of willful malice, but out of callow indifference & unconcern.

Sorry for length, but I can compress can no more without omitting essentials.

9:47 PM  
Anonymous Nikki Lear said...

Interesting new books on Islam

Illuminating Islam’s Peaceful Origins

Prophet of Peace Amid the Clash of Empires
by By Juan Cole

By Jack Miles
Alfred A. Knopf

7:59 AM  
Anonymous DioGenes said...

@Tom Servo

I'm not even sure you can talk about any Catholicism in America beyond the most general superficiality. Stripping away all the problematic religious/institutional baggage, there is a basic Catholic "method" that's entirely foreign to America. It involves history and continuity.

The hyper-Protestant method we now live under would love to eliminate all history and run society on the basis of fads, gadgets, and legal documents enforced without depth or context. The only remaining purpose for America is to attempt to destroy any historical sense entirely.

I once read that history majors are by far the worst paid grads in the country. Fads like 'nutrition science' are considered more rigorous and impressive than actual history.

What role do you think mercantilism may have played in forming the American mentality? I think the lack of inherent value in any American enterprise and the obsession with cashing in to pay off more leisured creditors is a kind of a colonial logic. The colony is in eternal debt to the mother country, so it must tolerate a second rate, solely economic existence.

9:36 AM  
Blogger Ordinary Indian said...

@Megan, @MB, over generations westerners have come to India and have tried to search meaning with the 'gurus' like Rajneesh et al. Include the Beatles guys and 'Branjelina'. I have a simple advice on this point. Forget the gurus. If you are searching for meaning, spend some time with the ordinary folks here: the local green grocer, the fishmonger, the butcher, the barber or the janitor. Just try interacting with them if you can. They can teach you a thing or two about life. Some ppl were shocked when I came back to India after spending a few years in the US. I knew exactly what I was doing and I am so happy I did it. Spiritually I am so much at peace in spite of all the problems one faces in an 'under developed'country. But on that pt too, I quote MB: Nothing works here, but everything works out eventually.

12:24 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


But no glamor in ordinary people. Americans want glamor, not enlightenment.


Length just fine. You had an American medical experience, I guess. In general, Americans don't understand that indifference is a form of violence.


12:37 PM  
Blogger Lucky Joestar said...

“It is a fair bet that your question will be met with blank incomprehension, for it's not merely that you are talking to a moron (true enough); you are actually talking to a robot.”

We have a colloquial term for such people these days: NPCs (non-playable characters, as in characters with very predictable responses).

6:18 PM  

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