December 20, 2019

The Real Beneath the Real


I want to follow up on the article posted by Tia at the end of the last thread, an article called "Marcuse Today," by Ronald Aronson, publ. in 2014. It raises some very important issues regarding what would constitute real social change. Let me, however, begin with an anecdote. In May of 1968 students had taken over the Sorbonne, and public debate went on for two months. A friend of mine, a prof. of French, arrived outside of Paris by plane in May, and went directly to the Sorbonne, where he remained until the student movement collapsed in June. What he told me was this: that for two months he listened to debates about the nature of man, what real change was about, and existential questions of a sort that could never be discussed by Americans because Americans are clueless; they couldn't begin to understand these types of concepts. I call these issues "the real beneath the real."

The Aronson article makes it clear that Marcuse alone, during the sixties (One-Dimensional Man, 1964), in terms of sociopolitical analysis, was going for the whole ball of wax. He regarded the US as totalitarian because it had colonized the minds of every American. This, writes Aronson, "is wholly compatible with civil rights, a free press, and free elections." My own critique of the Occupy movement (which Aronson, oddly enough, regards somewhat favorably) was that its goal was the redistribution of wealth (hence 1% vs. 99%), rather than the core issue, namely the relations of power. I never saw a single article from the movement on the latter subject. But Aronson sees a deeper layer, even than that, in the Marcusean outlook. As in the case of Aldous Huxley, he is pointing to the "comfortable oppression" under which we "happily" live in a Brave New World. This reality is one that is so global, that the citizenry is unable to think in terms of alternatives, or to even be aware that alternatives might be necessary. Thus the core issue is not civil rights, or a free press, or free elections, or the distribution of wealth, or the relations of power, but the consumer society in which we are all immersed. "The pleasures of consumption," writes Aronson, "absorb political opposition." He doesn't, however, take a stand on the issue of false consciousness vs. Americans eagerly buying into the system, a la the Janis Joplin song--a weakness in the essay. But he emphasizes that there is, today, "no significant opposition to the system as a whole and its way of life." It is this that both Marcuse and Huxley targeted (along with Allen Ginsberg). Radical change, says Aronson, is not merely about alternative politics, but about creating a different sensibility and different values.

But if that is the case, then we have to talk about the consciousness of individual Americans, and how to change that. "How can a movement break with this all-absorbing world to demand and create a better one...And in the name of what?" Aronson asks. But this is where we hit a brick wall, because Americans are not Frenchmen. They can no more hold a May-June debate at the Sorbonne than sprout wings and fly. In political terms, they lack awareness of literally everything. In a word, they are children.

E.M. Forster raised the issue of individual consciousness in his essay "What I Believe," which I discuss in the Twilight book. One can regard the essay as an early manifesto of Waferism, I suppose. Marcuse had no idea of how systemic change might occur; Huxley provided an early reference to the New Monastic Option in suggesting that the dominant culture would remain as is, and that a handful of the alienated would live on the margins of this culture--like Native Americans on reservations (who have different values to this day). I also confront this issue in the chapter on Machiavelli in Genio. My argument is that his biographers all got him wrong, making him one of the most misunderstood individuals in the history of political theory. The bottom line for Machiavelli, the real beneath the real, was our actual day-to-day behavior amd values. Either they were about ego, or about decency; but like Forster, or Marcuse, or Huxley, he had to pose this mental breakthrough as an ideal, because he had no idea as to how a society might get there. Wafers have to live with the fact that decency is its own reward, and that as the whole constellation of capitalism collapses, there might be a different possibility on the other side. In that sense, he, along with these other writers, are utopians to a greater or lesser degree. But what else is there? C. Wright Mills called our present system "crackpot realism," which is where we are today.

Machiavelli died disappointed, but I hardly think his was a wasted life. Might as well go for broke, don't you think?



Anonymous walt meldrich said...

The Boston Review article link is missing "-today" at the end. Otherwise it will not get you to the interesting take by Aronson. I am going to read Marcuse again.

6:24 PM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

Speaking of real, George Carlin was a declinist who saw thru the Amerikkkan charade.

7:57 PM  
Anonymous Pastrami and Coleslaw said...

Oops, the whole link didn't copy over:

A quote: "There are dozens, hundreds, thousands of opposition organizations and movements trying to save animals, clean up the environment, help workers, protect children, support women, remove poisons from food—but no significant opposition to the system as a whole and its way of life. Neoliberal capitalism rules nearly everywhere despite all apparent conflicts."

I would add that Neoliberal Capitalism is so pervasive it can actually commodify those split-up opposition forces. What we would call green-washing and pink-washing these days. If fact many of those forces are so intwined in the system they practically have corporate sponsorship before they get started, I'm looking at you "Green" New Deal.

Anyway, that's probably a 1/2 page already so thanks for the post MB and I'm looking forward to the discussion.

8:41 PM  
Blogger Joe McIlnen said...

I just finished reading “The Real Beneath the Real”. I want to thank you for your brilliant and pointless essay.
A little levity here; a paraphrasing and a parody of similar words you said on Pirate Television, Doctor Berman, when someone sent you a E-mail about Why America Failed.
All kidding aside, like then you are so very correct now. Nothing is going to change in the United States as it further disintegrates. The citizenry is totally dumb, blind, and clueless. But at least we Wafers and you shall sit back and enjoy it.
To expedite the disintegration, the popular bumper sticker on conservatives' cars, SUV's, Hummers, and pickup trucks says it all: “TRUMP 2020”! And maybe after he's reelected these same fake patriots can buy a new one that says, “TRUMP FOR LIFE”, to expedite it even faster.

8:50 PM  
Blogger jjarden said...

2020....The New Dark Ages

10:10 PM  
Anonymous NeedaPassport said...

Very good post MB I have always found the French to be a very interesting culture and people they always seem to get to the root of their problems and tend to actually attempt to participate and change things rather than wait for elections like Americans.
My question to you is why is it that the French people are like this compared to other European cultures in regards to the idea of growth?

PS: sorry for the last post without a name

11:31 PM  
Blogger Gunnar said...

I think I’m beginning to understand I may have achieved a higher consciousness because I think I get what you’re saying and it resonates. For some reason I remembered this story from college, the time Oscar Wilde came to
Leadville, the more things change..

They’re building the infrastructure for camps, ‘first they came for the immigrants...’ these are concentration camps who are we to talk about the Uighurs?

12:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"But this is where we hit a brick wall, because Americans are not Frenchmen"

You'd be surprised how things changed since Mai 68 MB. Neoliberalism and Hustling are the new Existentialism and there isn't much recognizable in the Paris of today compared to the Paris of back-then.

In other news, we've had a taste of Shriver's Mandibles - i.e. "les Mandibules"? - in the past couple of weeks with the country being at complete standstill due to strikes. Public transport continued to be shut down and protesters even initiated power cuts in a few parts of the country. It ain't Venezuela yet, but the future is definitely not going to get any brighter.

Merry Christmas to Wafers! Wishing you all to shop til' you drop.


2:54 AM  
Blogger Himanshu said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

Speaking of the real beneath the real: An extended relative who lives in Aberdeen, SD sent the following column published in their local news outlet:

I was stunned that a news outlet in as conservative a state as SD with its murderous history of First Nations people (Wounded knee, etc) actually published this article because the author challenges Americans to really understand Christ's teachings and look at how the USA was really built? I wonder if SD would be a safe place for the author in the future?

In any case Feliz Navidad and a Happy 2020 to you and Wafers! I am rooting for Trumpi to be re-elected which it looks like he will be and buffoonery to reach asymptotic levels at all levels in the US.


7:54 AM  
Blogger Mister Roboto said...

Probably pointing out the obvious here, but I have observed that one of the things that makes Americans children throughout their lives is that they live entirely in their fantasies, and there can be nothing else. Perhaps being a Wafer is about accepting the fact that there's no breaking through a wall like that and the only remaining alternative is to "cultivate one's own garden" to the best of one's ability.

8:41 AM  
Anonymous Macdonald said...

New John Gray pieces:
John Gray reviews The Criminal Child and Other Essays by Jean Genet, translated by Charlotte Mandell and Jeffrey Zuckerman. interesting insight into the dark side of human nature.
John Gray
Conversations of a cockroach and an alley cat
A Point of View

John Gray on A Point of View: reflects on the lessons for today of an unusual U.S. newspaper column from the early 1900s.

I believe this is in preparation for his next book? He said it's gonna be about cats...Still need to pick up his most recent on atheism(s).

“Marquis’s readers knew they were stuck in the roller coaster of history. They must trust that politicians and intellectuals who talk grandly of a radiant future living through one disaster after another which their leaders clearly could not prevent or control, they did not believe they were on the brink of any new world. What they wanted were voices that recognized the dark underside of the human world in which they actually lived and yet still found pleasure, adventure and romance in being alive. Much has changed since Marquis imagined the conversation of the cockroach and the alley cat, BUT the human situation remains the same.“

10:16 AM  
Anonymous Fiery meatball said...

American males are assholes.

11:25 AM  
Anonymous Classic Hoover! said...

Narcissism and the Idolization of Technology - A reappraisal of Marshall McLuhan's philosophic critique of technology

11:32 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


True, but I'm not sure the women are a whole lot better.


I'm sure yr rt, but the French still have spine, as the gilets jaunes have shown. American street demos, like Occupy, are lame in comparison. It cannot be said that the French lack guts, hearts, brains. Americans have anuses (ana?), not much more.


Well, at least 170 people won't find it pointless.

Onward, Wafers! Into the breach!


12:27 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

I can't help it; I love Americans:

12:41 PM  
Anonymous Savantesimal said...

MB, you should have also brought up E. M. Forster's prescient short story:
The Machine Stops

Since it is out of copyright, you can easily read it for yourself:
The Machine Stops (PDF)

4:23 PM  
Blogger jjarden said...

Of Course they will....and then it will move on to Axes and Machetes that viewers will want to see.

But she’s got great Tits now!!

18-year-old getting breast-enhancement fell into coma-like state

6:32 PM  
Blogger comrade simba said...

MB & Wafers, The Iowa woman is showing her greatness for sure, but after reading the bit about decency being its own reward I really don't know how to process this sparkling jewel of kindness.

Mexico is out due to the wife's Irish skin, but our sights are set on Victoria Island, B.C.

12:14 AM  
Anonymous Tom Servo said...

Several major technology companies are being sued over the use of child labor in the mining of cobalt in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The suit alleges that children were killed or seriously injured mining for cobalt used to power products such as smartphones, laptops and electric cars.

4:30 AM  
Anonymous A.N. Halpin said...

The Collapse of Civilization May Have Already Begun

This article brought to my attention thru Lewis Dartnell, not a dumb guy.

11:45 AM  
Blogger Gunnar said...

Americans love to label (Warhol’s Tomato Soup can comes to mind), but a label like PTSD is meaningless. Maybe it shld stand for Pretty Tragic Stuff, Death. Label it, throw meaningless dirty paper at it, and move on. Imho only the good ones suffer like this, RIP.

11:54 AM  
Blogger Ordinary Indian said...

Just what I had said in an earlier comment. Some vindication from an academic. Some civil servants refer to Brexit as Empire 2.0 only half-jokingly, says Dr Priyamvada Gopal

Finally, Indian youth have woken up big time. Protests rage on against a discriminatory law. Govt trying to crush it ruthlessly in some places. Not a happy situation. But we had to reach here some day. Hundreds of thousands of people on the streets. Did not happen for a long time. Just when I thought the youth was lost in their electronic cocoons. Let's see...

12:14 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I know Lewis, actually. Yes, very bright.


There were 2 articles in the Guardian on that subject. How people can be aware that every time they use their cell fone, they are killing children in the Congo, and yet continue to use these fones, is beyond me. (Check out Wally Shawn's play, "The Fever," from 1990, on being globally interconnected.)


I assume you mean Vancouver Island. I lived there for 3 years. The geography is gorgeous. Unfortunately, it's probably the most boring place on the planet. Look b4 you leap.


I think I did read it, yrs ago.


12:59 PM  
Anonymous Vernon said...

“There must be a return to an earlier, gentler, more sacramental vision of the world; one that has a greater sense of natural limits and a restored sense of wonder at creation.”

The Enchantments of Mammon by Eugene McCarraher review – an epic blend of history, prophecy and polemic

I hope this book gets widely read though I think it might need what Barfield called a "romanticism come of age"

3:01 PM  
Blogger alex carter said...

mb - I did my homework; read the article. They need a proofreader as only in German are you allowed to crash words into each other to make a new word...

In any case, "In his post-Marxism, Marcuse could not have foreseen the Marxist paradox we are living: capitalism has proven unable to create an “ever-more-comfortable life” for everyone in spite of its unstoppable drive for profit and growth." - Really? That's only Marxism 101. Capitalism requires an immiserated portion of the populace to keep prices down and workers at their wheels.

Indeed, children are dying for coltan, columbium-tantalum ore to make "smart" gadgets. This has been known since said gadgets came into being. As an electronics tech, this era's buggy-whip maker, I'm well familiar with tantalum capacitors, and they're in everything.

6:00 PM  
Anonymous Narrow said...

RIP Jerome L. Singer, "The Father of Daydreaming" (1924-2019). A seminal psychologist who explored the positive, creative and productive aspects of daydreaming has passed away at the age of 95

7:18 PM  
Anonymous Julianne said...

It appears that Chinese tourists are steering clear of the American trainwreck:

1:10 AM  
Blogger FarmerBrown said...

Hola GSWH and Wafers,
Choice cut from the article,.....“My friend, the way it is with us Bushmen,” he began, “is that we love meat. And even more than that, we love fat. When we hunt we always search for the fat ones, the ones dripping with layers of white fat: fat that turns into a clear, thick oil in the cooking pot, fat that slides down your gullet, fills your stomach and gives you a roaring diarrhea,” he rhapsodized.
Do you think there is enough fat on a moose to tide us over as regards a roaring diarrhoea?I hear its good for the body.What do you say Senor,a great excuse to trek to Wassila if you ever needed one.As an aside,this may prove to be the trip when a certain member gets to secure lodgement in certain quarters.Wafers, I jest,the article does a wondeful job of illustrating something called levelling mechanism or enforcing humility Prof. Berman refers to in his most enlightening book, The Wandering God.Thank you for this book,among the many other books,essays and recommendations on this gem of a blog.Happy Holidays

1:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: France:


4:07 AM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

Here's to another year of blessings and beyond!

Frohe Krishtmouses meine Kinder,


11:40 AM  
Anonymous Vintage said...

A Mexican indigenous town's environmental revolt

Revolt against the modern world. It does not have to be like this.

11:52 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Arriba! Thanks for the ref. And thanks to all Wafers for the great posts. Feliz Navidad. Keep in mind that "I'm dreaming of a white Xmas" was written by a Jew. I suggest replacement of traditional Xmas ham with platter of chopped liver.


1:33 PM  
Anonymous JD Doucet said...

I met Ram Dass once at a documentary premiere that he was featured in. Seemed like a truly happy and special person.

4:09 PM  
Blogger Dan Daniel said...

Try explaining repressive desublimation to most Americans and they look at the ground and wait for their chance to tell you about the great rock festival they went to, or how liberating Burning Man is (do you have any idea how many people in this world need permission and a $600 ticket before they can take off their clothes and smile... sad).

9:50 PM  
Anonymous Anjin-san said...

One of the best articles on the real beneath the real in Afghanistan is from Kit Knightly at Off-Guardian.

I think Americans can look forward to being there indefinitely.

10:25 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dan D-

In America, the Douche Bag Index (DBI) is now at 148.8. By comparison, in Denmark it's 0.9. These are scientific studies.


Merry Xmas 2u all. Trumpi's impeachment was a total farce, but since Americans are douche bags, they don't understand this. Furthermore, he will be acquitted by the Senate, and ride to victory next Nov. And hopefully cancel the election in 2024.


12:06 PM  
Blogger Joe McIlnen said...

Doctor Berman, Wafers and Waferettes,
Merry Xmas to all that celebrate. I'm guessing that this, “The Real Beneath the Real”, will be the last post on this blog for 2019.
So that being said, let me also throw in a big, Happy New Year! And keeping with the tradition, here are some New Year's predictions. First off, Don the Con Trump will be reelected. The stock market will continue its bull(sh*t) run all the way up until Election Day. Don the Con will personally take credit for it, inexorably milking it for all he can, thus easily ensuring his reelection. But it won't stop there. The bull(sh*t) market run will continue its phony run, right up until January 20, 2025, when he finally leaves office. The same thing will go for the super-inflated housing market, where prices for these monstrosity McMansion homes in many ordinary middle class areas now go for over a million dollars.
Being lucky, always having perfect timing ( especially when it comes to cleverly walking away before business catastrophes ( like the defunct United States Football League and Atlantic City casinos) occur, and having gotten away with it his whole life, Don the Con will exit the White House to tremendous accolades by his dumbed down, functionally illiterate base of diehard supporters. Shortly afterwards another 2008-type crash will hit the country. And soon after that the big one, the devastating one Doctor Berman has predicted, also will occur. Trump, having skipped town, will be relaxing over in Russia either with Putin, the Agalarovs, or some other Russian oligarch. And his Christian Right fanatics will be blaming gays, lesbians, Spanish immigrants, and not having prayer in public schools as the cause for the United States' irretrievably falling apart into chaos and food riots.
Finally, with the United States being a hustling culture all the way to the end, many of the gun toting 2nd Amendment “patriots” will take to monetarily “Ubering” themselves. Like Blackwater, they'll be offering armed mercenary assistance in the midst of the chaos to any citizens who feel they need it. All the citizens would have to do is download the app on their smartphones. The “patriots” will be there in no time at all with their firearms to “defend freedom and the Constitution”.

1:03 PM  
Blogger delete said...

Good Morning Dr Berman and Wafers/Waferettes

Food for thought from George Monbiot

Best of the season to all

1:55 PM  
Blogger alex carter said...

I read (ok skimmed some parts of it) Fanny Trollope's book last night and it sure delivers the goods.

She mentions another book by one Captain Hall, that might be a good read, too.

8:54 PM  
Blogger jjarden said...

Of Course they are!!! MERRY PUMMELING!!!

12:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking of the real beneath the real:

"I can’t help but think that this relentless urge to make ourselves better, richer, prettier, shinier is just a desperate attempt to hide our empty, rotten cores..."


3:11 AM  
Blogger Yossi said...

So presumably Monbiot gets to decide what is or isn't fake news?

5:02 AM  
Anonymous Anjin-San said...

As a celebration of Christmas in the time of Trump I would like to suggest Wafers help with lyrics for my proposed revised seasonal classic, "I'm Dreaming of a White America."

I am not a very creative writer... that part of my brain is underdeveloped... but I have taken a few stabs at a possible opening verse...

I'm dreaming of a white America
Just like the one I used to know
Where strange fruit dangle in the trees above
On the white robes gathered below


I'm dreaming of a White America
A land forever free
No black or brown or red or yellow
Only white like me.

Seanson's Greetings to all... and on to the New Year.

8:16 AM  
Blogger Ordinary Indian said...

Merry Christmas to all. And my (two cents worth) musings on a lazy, Xmas day. I ask the question, as a species (not Americans, Frenchmen and so on), are we capable of a radical/fundamental shift? Right from the early days of this wise species, the march towards destruction of the weak, other species, the natural environ, is a constant. (Sapiens, Harari) Occasionally, in the last few thousand years, exceptional individuals have appeared, and have offered alternate sensibilities. But soon we have turned these men into gods, and the species have marched on. In a long term, I do not see much hope for salvation. The near-total environmental collapse in on us.

In the short term, wish Wafers a very Happy 2020.

9:31 AM  
Anonymous Applewood said...

Michael Moore: Sanders can beat Trump in 2020

Oh good grief

4:44 PM  
Blogger flanagle said...

I didn't know that about the composer of "White Xmas". But I do know that the guy that wrote the music for the song "Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag and smile, smile, smile" would go on to later shoot himself. Happy New Year fellow WAFers, should be a doozy.

5:04 PM  
Anonymous Ofeef said...

From the free territory of Chapare, profiling the union-based resistance to Bolivia's right-wing coup regime, which kicked out the government's armed forces and is now bracing for a bloody re-invasion

via TheGrayzoneNews

8:07 PM  
Anonymous Tom Servo said...

Andrew Bacevich on the failure of America's war in Afghanistan.

8:20 AM  
Blogger Jack Lattemann said...

Happy Boxing Day, Wafers, here’s your report from Cascadia:

In response to declining enrollment, Evergreen College in Olympia has announced that next semester it will introduce 11 “paths” to give students “a clearer road to a career,” and next year will add paths related to business, psychology and social work. “It’s just a way of innovating yet again, which is the way we roll,” said Evergreen’s VP for college relations and buzz words. I think a path in Tulsi-ism would fit right in:

The figurine of Mary went missing two days before Christmas from a Nativity scene erected on Olympia’s state capitol campus:

And in Portland, advocates for the homeless on December 20 met outside city hall to protest cleanups of homeless camps where all personal property is seized and stored in a city warehouse. The city contracts with a biohazard company to make the sweeps:

10:48 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


No plans to squash political correctness, I guess, which is the core reason for declining enrollments.

Check this out:


12:04 PM  
Anonymous Birney Zouave said...

Dr. B-

Here's some US health care billing outrages-


1:25 PM  
Anonymous DioGenes said...

Re: Trumpi's extraordinary timing—

It was said by Solon to Croesus:
"Call no man happy until he is dead; he is at best but fortunate."

Visiting the US for a week, and one thing is clear: once you cross that border all free subjectivity vanishes. People talk to each other like they are objects, about other objects. It's a society of button pushers.

Tell Americans you need time to inhabit your own subjective space and process things instead of simply react to them and see the button you will push.

4:29 PM  
Anonymous Bandiera said...

Prison guards tried to poison the guy who filmed Eric Garner's murder by NYPD by putting rat poison in his meatloaf

They poisoned everyone on a cell block so they could poison a guy whose crime was filming the extrajudicial police execution of a black man in broad daylight for selling loose cigarettes.

8:28 PM  
Blogger Dan Daniel said...

An interesting read, if both short and very questionable in places. On 'countercultures' and what they could mean today. My biggest question for those of us still inside the beast is if it is at all realistic to hope for even small groups and communities to act in a sane and healthy manner.

A nice film looking at a retired woman who rescues and rehabilitates owls in Ontario, Canada, from 1975. A reminder of what it means to do something simply because it is right and good. She and her husband appear financially comfortable which makes indulging eccentricities easier. Typical slow 1970s documentary style so be prepared to relax into its rhythm.

@ Anjin-San- you might be interested in this collection of songs. I hope the satire comes across; Youtube banned the video for a couple of years because of its language and such. Skip ahead to the full songs after the 4 minute ad at the start-

10:17 PM  
Blogger Gunnar said...

Congrats MB that was a nice credit/citation. I thought a better ending might b it’s (really) over, what do we do now? Even Marley tosses up his hands.

Meanwhile, here’s a nice story to ring in the new year.

10:54 PM  
Blogger FarmerBrown said...

Hola Senor,Wafers

Below is a description of the video.....

The twin ruptures of Trump and Brexit in 2016 presented a challenge to scholars of neoliberalism. Were we witnessing a backlash or a frontlash against the dynamics of neoliberal globalism? Through the idea of "distressed neoliberalism," my talk suggests two ways of answering these questions. The first focuses on the intellectual networks of neoliberalism connected to the Mont Pelerin Society. Here we see a neoliberalism distressed by the failures of the constitutional fixes of Maastricht and Geneva. Far-right neoliberals from Prague to London rediscovered the necessity of shared culture and even race, turning against supranational integration and immigration and opting for varieties of secession. The second approach is not through ideology but the practice of corporate capitalism over the last forty years. Trump’s economic policy is shaped by his advisors who come from the world of distressed debt investment--also known as vulture capitalism--buying bankrupt and ailing companies to flip them for short-term gain, feeding what one could see as bankruptcy as a style of politics. Perhaps we best understand the present as a move ever further from fairy tales about the “magic of the market” and toward an ever more frank admission that the state and laws are intended, above all, for the enrichment of the few against the many.

2:25 AM  
Blogger Rook said...

A belated merry Christmas and a happy new year to Dr. Berman and Wafers!

Another year closer to the collapse of the madhouse USA. I pray that the lunatics don't drag the rest of the world down with them. Take care and have a good time, everybody.

10:58 AM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

”Stupid is as stupid does” (Forrest Gump)

An article from today’s edition of ars technica on the effect of cell phones on classroom learning:

An article from MIT Technology Review by philosophy professor Ron Srigley on the same topic, embedded as a link in the former article:

And a college graduate offers her assessment of why college students are so stupid:

“Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups” (George Carlin)

1:37 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


And yet no amount of data, whether from the US or the Congo, can stop people from using these addictive toys.


Americans are wonderful people.


Americans are wonderful people.


1:52 PM  
Anonymous Katelyn said...

Brave new world

7:11 PM  
Blogger NW Eastcoaster said...


Sanders has a fair shot at Trump if (1) he is allowed to be nominated by the DNC and the super delegates,(2) he campaigns hard in the swing states, and (3) most of the votes are counted fairly.

I will admit that 1 and 3 will be the most difficult to achieve because re: (1) the super delegates tend to be inclined toward the conservative centrist candidates who won't stop policies of austerity and won't cut the military and re: (3) swing states with republican majorities have worked to disenfranchise those who are most likely to vote for democrats.


As a person of color, I would say some, but not all Americans are wonderful. I've seen way too much racism, overt and covert, to say otherwise, not to mention too many stupid Americans voting against their own interests--voting for Reagan and Bush Jr. twice.

2:30 AM  
Blogger Himanshu said...

Dear Dr. Berman:

A very good article on Counterpunch titled "Donald Trump Will Easily Be Reelected: There Has Been No Repudiation of What He Represents and There Won’t Be":
Excerpts: "Trump doesn’t want to restart history, to repudiate Francis Fukuyama, or Bill Clinton. Nor does he want to start a clash of civilizations, to validate Samuel Huntington, or Bush Jr. He is content with leaving history alone, which seems natural, coming so soon after Bush Jr.’s counselors, who wanted full spectrum dominance. The deal, as Trump sees it, is ever-changing, immune from textual recreation, legal solidity, constitutional affirmation."...."he never was the bearer of a virus, which implies something alien. He is the perfect mirror, just as Nixon followed Johnson, Reagan followed Carter, and Bush followed Clinton, in performing not so much an oscillation but an exaggerated return to form. Empires, heavy and difficult to maneuver, don’t engage in circular or sideways motions. Trump is the accelerant to the end point empire needs now, just as Reagan and Bush served their functions earlier, and in that sense he is a true man of the people. You don’t beat a man of the people electorally, you just don’t."
Best Wishes,

7:17 AM  
Anonymous Sybok said...

The minimum age for buying tobacco products in Turkeyland has increased from 18 to 21. This will allegedly save 223,000 thousand lived according the National Academy of Medicine. Really? I've never smoked, but everyone I have ever known who does started when they were in their early teens. The NAM knows this. The smug, virtue-signaling politicians who pushed this bill know it. And the president who signed it in to law knows it. The economy is tanking, cops are gunning down black people on a daily basis for no reason while brown people get tortured, starved and raped in ICE camps and the planet's fever continues to rise. But hey, what does all that matter if instead of addressing these real, exigent problems we can pat one another on the back for pretending to care about the teenagers who will inherit all of the problems we refuse to confront?

7:49 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Finally, got off Facebook. Sorry, to say this, doctor, but I've come to the sad conclusion that Jews hate everyone but reserve their greatest hate for fellow Jews. The level of hate leveled at me for supporting Palestinian rights was off the meter. However, I did realize what is actually meant by the term "self-hating Jew." It means any Jew who has the audacity to concern him or herself with the lives of a non-Jew. It truly got insane and I doubt a gentile would resort to the following: contact the FBI, try to get me fired, describe the funeral of my still living mother (no rabbi would officiate because of my political views) curse the memory of my father,label me a pedophile for traveling overseas, refer to my 95 year old mother by her name, and contact the places I am currently performing stand-up comedy. Yes, it was all depressing but at the same time illuminating. To be honest, I shouldn't have been surprised. Not a few times have I been invited to a Jewish friend's family gathering and immediately got the vibe "Yes, we invited you but we were really hoping you wouldn't come."

9:39 AM  
Blogger jjarden said...

Of Course She Did!! This is what Americans DO....

10:20 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Americans are wonderful people. Just look at her face.


Pretty shitty, all of that. Of course, Jews don't hate all other Jews, just the non-Zionist ones. The Zionist ones have no interest whatsoever in facts or truth: mythology ueber Alles. Anyway, I learned long ago that there were better places to put my energy.


I was being ironic, amigo.


11:30 AM  
Anonymous Glans Butterworth, III said...

Anecdotal Observations from France Visit

1. Many French teenagers and adults endlessly playing with dumb phones at the supper table, resto, trains, buses, streets.
2. Obscessions with american "culture"--pop singers, pop teevee shows, Vegas trips, fantasy movies, "reality" teevee shows, cowboys, big cars, fast "food."
3. Anglo-Saxons (Brits) Repeating the "american dream" mantra, or waxing poetic about american "freedom" propaganda.
4. I don't have the energy correct them anymore. F it. What's the point? "How could they see anything but the shadows if they were never allowed to move their heads?” Plato's Allegory of a Cave.

12:09 PM  
Anonymous Turan said...

A peek at Nabokov's motel diaries as he traveled to create Lolita, the first of the great modern US road novels:

2:35 PM  
Blogger Gunnar said...

Oh fer fuck’s sake, puppies thrown @ cars and now 6 more thrown out of a car..

What a year it’s going to be...

4:04 PM  
Blogger Joe McIlnen said...

England for some time has been nothing more than “United States Lite”. It's too bad that France is in the process of joining and enlarging it. The rest of Europe, as well as China and parts of Asia, also now are merrily hopping along the Yellow Brick Road of United States consumerism and are joining the big club of “American Exceptionalism”.
Doctor Berman,
Perhaps you are incorrect about Global Trends 2030 and the United States' power and influence in it diminishing. With the above cited examples, as well as the United States still having over 700 military bases scattered around the planet to ensure our “exceptional” way of life is enjoyed by millions ( and perhaps billions) on Planet Earth for years to come, you'd never know it.

5:03 PM  
Blogger comrade simba said...

For lovers of all things Vonnegut:
Authenticity claiming hypocrisy... gotta love it!

5:22 PM  
Anonymous Kenneth Lambert said...

Regarding Marcuse and "the whole ball of wax," Todd McGowan picks up where Marcuse left off, with a politics for the 21st century grounded in Freud's theory of psyche, particularly his concept of the death drive.

McGowan argues that the whole ball of wax boils down to how we relate to the death drive, or the satisfaction we derive from repeating loss. Nostalgia for "better times," paranoia about "alien others," the patterns of consumption and accumulation of late capitalism, and many other current phenomena draw their power over us from how we relate to this drive. He argues that we will become free by taking up a new relation to the drive and understanding how we get our satisfaction.

For the details, check out McGowan's recent and forthcoming books, all available at Amazon:

Enjoying What We Don't Have: The Political Project of Psychoanalysis (2013)
Capitalism and Desire: The Psychic Cost of Free Markets (2016)
Universality and Identity Politics (forthcoming in 2020)

5:53 PM  
Anonymous Watkins said...

I'm reading Joseph Frank's definitive biography! A chilling read

Dostoevsky: A Writer in His Time

7:03 PM  
Anonymous Birney Zouave said...

Dr. B-

I thought you could use a few laughs; check this out-

9:03 PM  
Anonymous Jake Northtop said...

"By stark contrast, Matt Taibbi’s new book - Hate Inc. - is genuinely one of the best accounts written in years of how the US political media deceives, divides & propagandizes. It covers Russiagate, explains Trump, eviscerastes Maddow/CNN & much more. Read it" - Glenn Greenwald

7:59 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Time will tell!


1:08 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,


Any word from Bill Hicks? I have a bad feeling about this to say the least...

MB, Wafers-

Attacks on Jews are becoming more brazen and violent:

Michiko Kukutani should reread "DAA" by Morris Berman. I hope she chokes on it!:


1:47 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

I just came across this fine article by Andre Vltchek about how the decline of the United States is expressed or mirrored by that of its literature:

It's one of his better pieces, I think.

4:15 PM  
Anonymous Erwan said...

Watkins __

"I am perplexed by my own data, and my conclusion is in direct contradiction of the original idea from which I start. Starting from unlimited freedom, I arrive at unlimited despotism."

Shigalev's bemusement in Demons

I've read about that book. Will need to pick it up

Watkins __ MB __ Wafers

Are there any respectable film adaptations of Dostoevsky? Seems to me they could be almost equally brilliant as screenplays but nothing comes to mind that I've seen.

4:28 PM  
Anonymous Sybok said...

You've heard the phrase 'life is cheap', but now we know exactly how cheap it is: 60 year old man beaten to death over a dollar bill.

On the lighter side of gun violence: Gunman Opens Fire During Texas Church Service, Is Shot Dead by Churchgoers. This reminds me of my favorite John Dillinger quote: "You can get a lot more from a simple prayer and a Thomas sub-machine gun than you can from a simple prayer alone."

Finally, Ben Cain asks why Napoleon Hill outsells Nietzsche: The Dark Reality of Self Help.

I'd wish you all a happy new year but, well, that would just be stupid...

7:54 PM  
Blogger jjarden said...

Recent Hedges interview....

9:04 PM  
Blogger Himanshu said...

Dear Dr. Berman and Wafers:

Perhaps the following article was posted here before but the author seems to be a Wafer:"Quit America! The Case for Moral Disengagement from American Politics" Excerpts: "But what does it mean to disengage? People have children to feed, jobs to perform, which in many cases may be jobs that help people, in education and social services for example. But there are also single people, younger people, those with greater mobility and options. If one can leave the country, I would say, do so; America is not a project worth salvaging. A fascist power that is the leading roadblock to world progress, in places as far away as South America and India, is not something to devote one’s only precious life to. Even if Hitler is winning, do you want to join him as an ally, do you want to entertain ideas of moderating and refining and containing him, do you want to keep looking for the good Germans to overturn the oppressive order once and for all? And what if, in that effort, you become collateral damage?"..."If I were a little younger, I would leave America and put down roots somewhere else; if there is a country where there seems a greater hope for promoting democracy, then that is a choice people should explore. Is America so much better than every place else? Why can’t we take our democratic ideas elsewhere and make those places, not at the center of the fascist hegemony, better, by our example and productivity? Why should we feed this particular machine with our minds and bodies?"..."If one is older or is restricted or does not have the mobility I speak of, then one can stay in place, but at the very least one should downshift, retreat from capitalism, and morally disengage from anything having to do with saving this country’s place in world politics (i.e., empire). One can, out of a sense of duty, provide for one’s children and family, but not be morally committed to the idea of America, which has become toxic beyond rescue, because it is not America of the old we’re talking about, but a new form of neoliberal fascism that is in mortal combat with the principle of life itself."

7:13 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I too am worried abt Bill, who has just disappeared. I'm hoping he's not ill, or worse, and will be back with us asap.


10:58 AM  
Anonymous Adlai Dern said...

Kafka-esque much?

"The CEO of Centene, which manages health insurance plans, is a bundler for Joe Biden. Here’s audio of an event hosted by Centene filled with Democratic lobbyists laughing it up about how Medicare for All will never happen"


2:47 PM  
Blogger Michael Burgess said...

Hi Dr. Berman and Wafers:

Paul Craig Roberts may be a conservative, certainly in his peak career years as an assistant secretary of the Treasury under Reagan (and how he remembers those years) but outside of his comments about upward mobility in this article, he is dead on. When an economist of note like PCR says that when external costs are included in the cost of industrial production, in his opinion, NO profit would have occurred (I think this is an opinion in that he doesn't cite any references) and that the external costs of production may even exceed the value of the produced items, it is worth taking note. His concern for the environment and the loss of non human life is also unusual for an economist - even a retired one.

3:47 PM  
Anonymous Ellie Feener said...

To Erwin and Watkins

'The more I detest men individually -- the more ardent becomes my love for humanity.' ~ Ivan Karamazov

'Well then, eliminate the people, curtail them, force them to be silent. Because the European Enlightenment is more important than people.’

~ Dostoevsky, Notebooks for The Brothers Karamazov

Two fascinating quotes for pondering.

6:07 PM  
Blogger Quercus said...


There are quite of number of Russian language film adaptations of Dostoevsky's novels. They are long (as are the novels!) but faithful to the mood and meaning behind the novels. Russians are serious people.

Of course, Hollywood adaptions of his works (e.g. the 1958 "The Brothers Karamazov" with Yul Brenner) are superficial rubbish.

But I would highly recommend the Kurosawa's version of "The Idiot".


6:16 PM  
Anonymous Anjin-san said...

A recent essay in the Atlantic indicates what horrors will be coming when Trump wins reelection.

Onwards and downwards.

10:21 AM  
Anonymous Ana Gonzalez said...

Chaucer the European looks like a nice biography

11:29 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I'm already excited abt his *3rd* term!

To all Waferinos:

Feliz anyo nuevo!


2:36 PM  
Blogger alex carter said...

Happy New Year everyone!

Himanshu - I've been saying this for a few years now. If you can, get out of the US/the Anglosphere if you can. MB's been saying this for far longer.

In my 20s I could have wetbacked it to France and picked grapes or something, learned the language, and after 10 years of being a decent resident probably gotten citizenship just fine. Or just about any non-Anglosphere country really. If I'd saved up a nice big bolus of money for retirement I could still do the same, but the way the social system works here, I was destined to never have it no matter how hard I worked. My relatives with, I'd say, a few millions, will take those dollars to their graves.

What are the retirement age 99% to do? Tread as lightly on the Earth as possible I guess, and try to enjoy the show.

7:38 PM  
Anonymous Italiana said...

Buon Anno MB & Wafers,

Hope everyone survived New Year's Eve. Nice calm night with friends, watched all the fireworks in the Val di Chiana from our friends' terrace (every little town/village has their own show).

I submit the latest from Linh Dinh:

Interesting character study of masses of tourists and expats in a Vietnamese city. Towards the end, when talking about moving on to a more traditional city (read "non-improved"), he says the following: "In two hours, I’ll board an all-night bus for Hoi An, a town that has retained more of its history than anywhere else in Vietnam. Every other place has been well razed, bombed, bulldozed or simply improved. Man doesn’t just befoul, but make much that’s worth preserving, at least until recently. Progress is the heroin of the masses." I think the last sentence says it all.

3:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy New Year and new decade to all Wafers!

Australia is going up in flames for the start of the year. Nobody seems to give a shit though.

Onwards and downwards!


5:06 AM  
Blogger meangenekaz said...

@Miles Deli

Jeff - perhaps Bill Hicks is NMI MIA.

The post to Paul Craig Roberts is the point. The human race at this point seems dangerous, a sick joke and irrelevant. "I'll make my own breakthrough to my retreat and view."

The planet will still be in orbiting around a small star long after the human race is even a memory.

Keep on chooglin'.

12:32 PM  
Anonymous Kiki said...

“The experience of reading poetry aloud when you don't fully understand it is a curious and complicated one. It's like suddenly discovering that you can play the organ.” ⁦
Philip Pullman on reading Milton aloud

1:14 PM  
Blogger jjarden said...

George was a Prophet....

12:46 AM  
Anonymous Tom Servo said...

An article on phone use and deaths from distracted driving.

7:07 AM  
Anonymous Ox said...

The war criminal navy seal starting a leisurewear line. How sheek!

10:01 AM  
Anonymous Krakhed said...

Stumbled across this gem reading about how scientists feel about climate change. Can be applied to our neoliberal economic order maybe.

"Sometimes I have this dream.

I’m going for a hike and discover a remote farm house on fire.

Children are calling for help from the upper windows. So I call the fire brigade. But they don’t come, because some mad person keeps telling them that it is a false alarm.

The situation is getting more and more desperate, but I cant convince the firemen to get going.

I cannot wake up from this nightmare." --Stefan Rahmstorf

Happy New Year Wafers!

4:20 PM  
Anonymous trying to stay sane said...

Coming to this party late - busy with holidays and sick computer - so will briefly add my 2 cents. One of your best, MB. Lays out the case with clarity and depth.

My image of getting to the real beyond the real is a deep dive to the bottom of an ocean. Passing through layers of illusions, myths, deceptions and outright lies until one has gone as far as one can go and finding that only on the bottom can one really breathe

Or an archaeology dig, exposing layer after layer until a civilization's truths are revealed. Failure to dig deep enough leads to mis-impressions and wrong-headed interpretations.

I don't know any Americans who would be willing to dive or dig deep enough. For 99% it's just not going to happen. They'll never be able to think their way out of the box of "comfortable oppression" - its too much a part of who they are. They will forever be blind to alternative values or economic systems. This is the weakness of the Hedges approach to change. Even if the masses could be convinced to rise up in sufficient numbers against the oligarchs, the usurpers would simply replace their former masters and start the cycle over again. (the book to read is The Mandibles).

4:50 PM  
Blogger Gunnar said...

MB, is the conflict in Iraq a potential Suez crisis for US?

7:18 PM  
Anonymous Tula said...

Netflix to begin filming ‘Alexander the Great’ series in Egypt’s Siwa next month

8:11 AM  
Anonymous Pion said...

Personality is not only about who but also where you are

Interesting piece from Dorsa Amir on environmental influences on personality

"After all anybody is as their land and air is. Anybody is as the sky is low or high. Anybody is as there is wind or no wind there. That is what makes a people, makes their kind of looks, their kind of thinking, their subtlety and their stupidity, and their eating and their drinking and their language."

Gertrude Stein

9:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Progs will NEVER get it:

Just when the Labour Party received one of the biggest slap in its face in UK's electoral history.

There's this too:


9:54 AM  
Blogger Dan Daniel said...

When 9/11 happened I was working with someone who grew up in Israel. Had fought in a couple of their wars- '67 and '71? One thing thrown around by the US media after 9/11 was arming pilots. And one of the examples used- that El Al pilots were armed.

He though that arming US pilots was as stupid an idea as you could have. His reasoning was pretty simple: El Al pilots had grown up surrounded by guns. Had all been trained as Israeli Air Force pilots, including arm-to-arm combat training. Individually and as a culture they all knew what guns were for and what it means to use them properly.

As he saw it, US pilots would be wanna-be cowboys and would make a mess of it.

I was reminded of this after the weekend shooting at a church where the gunman was shot and killed by security after killing two other people-

This has been jumped on by the NRA and others to show how brilliant their 'To stop a bad guy with a gun you need a good guy with a gun' aphorism is. If only everyone was armed, no one would be shot. What an unbelievably infantile and stupid culture we have. Here's a better exploration of this than I could ever provide here (by someone who is worth listening to for his willingness to dig into US stupidity; check out other talks by him)-

10:53 AM  
Blogger jjarden said...

American education is a wonderful thing....

12:10 PM  
Blogger Sarasvati said...

“BilLHicks” Blogger page:

The Downward Spiral:

I’m far from understanding anything about blogs, posts, websites, etc., except as I’m able to maneuver around, but I think this is his site with a very recent link posted, and one from December linking here. I’m hoping this means he’s alive and well and just getting a little R&R.

Wafers, please, please correct me if I’m wrong about that site,
and if I'm right: Bill, Return to us!!!

1:28 PM  
Blogger Michael Burgess said...

Hi Dr. Berman and Wafers:

Well, Ronald Purser has written on the takeover of buddhist mindfulness by corporations, schools and the military, anything can become a commodity in America.

2:51 PM  
Blogger Nathan said...

"Whose Utopia" by Cao Fei asked real Chinese factory workers to act out their hopes and dreams. The artist spent six months visiting the factory and conducting art workshops with the workers in the film.

Seems like a somber, but touching piece Wafers might enjoy. Happy New Year everyone

4:47 PM  
Anonymous Anjin-san said...

When I was in school a half-century ago we used to get exercises comparing and contrasting two different things or places. We would often do Canada and the USA. In those days I always wished I could live in the United States. It was the shinihg land of the future.

How things have changed!

5:44 PM  
Anonymous trying to stay sane said...

Himashu, Thanks for the reference. Great article. He gets it.

Kenneth - before reading anything else on thanatos, get Ernest Becker's The Denial of Death. Pulitzer Prize winning study of Freud's death drive as THE driver in all human cultures.

Just finished reading eye-opening book about the national network of far right political and religious organizations you never heard of. (I had not.)Working in the shadows to turn America into neoliberal-fundamentalist Christian oligarch. Called the Council for National Policy and composed of NRA, Tea Party, Federal Society, all Koch's groups, DeVos groups, 1,000s of conservative Christian churches who are told how to vote, extremely sophisticated computer programs that get the vote out, millions of campaign door knockers, 1,000s of religious and conservative radio stations, TV networks. Began, of course, as reaction to Civil Rights Movement and Roe. And grew into electoral powerhouse. Makes strong case that if not for the Council's efforts, Trump would not have been elected. "Shadow Network", Anne Nelson.

6:04 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

In terms of the assassination of General Soleimani, I'm certain the president thought this through thoroughly and worked closely w/his trusted advisors to make such a grave decision. Just like he did when he fired Gary Busey in "The Celebrity Apprentice."


7:23 PM  
Anonymous Classic Hoover! said...

I asked my students to turn in their cell phones and write about living without them Here's what they had to say

9:19 PM  
Anonymous Birney Zouave said...

Dr. B-

Tulsi's latest; a 54 second video on the subject of war in the Middle East-

She asks- "What's the end goal ?" "What are we trying to achieve here ?"

11:53 PM  
Anonymous Tynor said...

Wartime Albert Camus letter lays bare his Vichy-era anguish | Books | The Guardian

7:51 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Check out "Super Sad True Love Story," by Gary Shteyngart.


1:27 PM  
Anonymous Baba Jo said...

Errol Morris's “The Fog of War” with McNamara is still one of the best documentaries I’ve seen. It contains perennial wisdom.

“What makes us omniscient? Nothing." Re: Iran War

"What makes us omniscient? Have we a history of omniscience? We are the strongest nation in the world today. I do not believe we should ever apply that economic political or military power unilaterally. If we had followed that rule in Vietnam we wouldn't have been there. None of our allies supported us. Not Japan, not Germany, not Britain, or France. If we can't persuade nations of equal values of the merit of our cause, then we'd better reexamine our reasoning."

1:37 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

Under the heading, “Well I think my work here is done...*

The National Security Council official brought in by former National Security Adviser John Bolton to serve as the director for countering Iran’s WMD is leaving the job for personal reasons. He returns to the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy**, which was paying his salary during his NSC stint.

*It appears the decision has been taken to just start whacking the MFers, as the sanctions were only killing random Persians

**And, on the evidence, democracy could sure use some defending.

1:52 PM  
Anonymous W.M. Murch said...

New Quantum Paradox Clarifies Where Our Views of Reality Go Wrong

“A thought experiment has shaken up the world of quantum foundations, forcing physicists to clarify how various quantum interpretations (such as many-worlds and the Copenhagen interpretation) abandon seemingly sensible assumptions about reality.”

2:11 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I thought Morris let McNamara off the hook too easily, along lines of "mistakes were made." McNamara was a horrible war criminal and shd have been hung by the World Court. For what it's worth, he was also a colossal douche bag.


5:00 PM  
Blogger jjarden said...

7:44 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Hello Wafers:
I was looking forward to replying to Kiki's post about reading Milton aloud. I participated in a couple of all-day Sunday "Paradise Lost and pizza" events as an undergrad, where we students, and a few profs, took turns and read the entire book aloud. We'd start at 9:00 a.m. and finish around 5:00 or 6:00.

Then I heard about Trump ordering that hit on the Iranian general. Poetry readings suddenly don't seem as much fun to talk about. Then again, perhaps Milton puts Trump and his minions into perspective. Better to reign in the USA than serve in heaven, I suppose.

When The Great Satan finally collapses, do you think its physical landmass is too great for it to be sown with salt afterwards?

Amerigo delenda est

12:41 AM  
Blogger Joe McIlnen said...

Regarding the tragedies that are occurring in Australia as a result of the wildfires:
The loss of human life there certainly is bad enough. But if the koalas and other species of wildlife disappear forever, it shall be one of the most sorrowful events of all time on this planet.
It is deeply sad that our civilization has been separated from nature as it already is because of technology and mechanization. I hearken to Doctor Berman's first two books on human consciousness ( The Reenchantment of the World and Coming to Our Senses) where he mentions this. Whether or not human-induced climate change is the cause of the wildfires is cause for debate. But the net result is that we further are being separated from nature.
Again, very sad.

1:26 AM  
Anonymous Tom Servo said...

Bruce E. Levine has an article on what he calls “shit-life syndrome” in America. That might be one of the best descriptions of life in America that I have seen.

Opioid overdose deaths were 85% higher in areas of the United States that suffered auto plant closures.

6:00 AM  
Anonymous Northern Johnny said...

I first took in Ernest Becker's view via Jeremy Rifkin, whose philosophy used to be grounded in his existential view of the human condition.

The Ernest Becker Foundation made a documentary that can be viewed here:

Missing your posts, Bill Hicks. Hope you are well.

-Northern Johnny

8:11 AM  
Anonymous Russell said...

"The architect lobby in the EU is trying to rewrite laws that makes modernism in architecture mandatory and effectively prohibits hugely popular reconstructions of historical buildings and neighborhoods."


10:23 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


We've talked abt this b4. Just airing yr opinions is not what we do here, for the most part. From now on, pls state your argument regarding a specific pt, and then provide evidence for yr pt of view. Otherwise, I won't be able to post yr stuff. Thank you.


1:04 PM  
Anonymous Italiana said...

Greetings MB & Wafers,

Michael Hudson, independent economist, has an enlightening article on the economic meaning of the US's latest assassination - noting that there is in effect a primary strategy behind all of the US's belligerent behavior. Preventing de-dollarization, especially of oil reserves. The empire could collapse if enough countries get the courage to band together and opt out of the stranglehold the US has on them.

3:55 AM  
Blogger Ordinary Indian said...

Hello everyone,

Have not posted lately. Deeply disturbed by the developments in my country. A fascist power has unleashed all its might on the citizens, particularly the young, educated university students. No surprises there. A copybook of fascism is being played out. Students in two universities were attacked earlier. Yesterday, one of the most prestigious universities in the heart of the national capital was attached by goons in which many students and professors were seriously injured. No arrests yet, as expected. Nationwide protest against a divisive law is going on, mostly peaceful. Along with students, ppl in their 80s and 90s have also come out on the streets. The world misses a Gandhi today.

A link here:

We are at a point of bifurcation, a-la-Wllerstein. Authoritarian/totalitarian minority, moderate/democratic Population, who wins? Moment of grave crisis with regional and global consequences.

11:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

incredibly sad news:


12:08 PM  
Blogger Himanshu said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

An insightful article below by Johan Galtung written in his typical & inimitable "stream of thought" style:

He says the following about Trump and the US:
"Trump belongs in a psychiatric clinic, not in the White House."...

"It is easy to say that Trump should not have been elected-he was. There is cognitive dissonance between democracy as FAFE–fair and free elections–FAFE making Trump US President, and Trump being a dictator. FAFE as pillar in US democracy, and Trump FAFE as president, lead to another dissonance: did USA elect an “unleveled” president? If yes, what does that say about US voters? If no, when did “unlevel” happen?"

My question: Why just Trump shouldn't much of the US population be in a psychiatric ward?

Best Wishes,

5:25 PM  
Anonymous Anita said...

Pion - I've always loved that Gertrude Stein quote.

That is an interesting opinion piece. Very interesting they linked personality traits to societal factors. They argued that the Big 5 Factors are peculiar to WEIRD cultures. However, some of the traits, such as extroversion and neuroticism, are universal. Ah, the mysteries of anthropology!

Be well in 2020 Wafers

5:45 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Sorry, I don't post Unknowns. You need a real handle to participate. Thanks.


6:53 PM  
Anonymous Birney Zouave said...


I read that article by Michael Hudson on another site. As Yogi Berra once said- "Predictions are hard to make, especially about the future," and I wonder what would make Europe "bail" on the USA. They are so used to "free" defense provided by the USA- what would they do if they had to build up their own military might at the expense of their national health care and other social safety net benefits? I talked to a German guy last spring who seemed to feel that his country was "entitled" to perpetual "defense" from the good old USA.

7:35 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


It's deja vu all over again.


7:56 PM  
Blogger Yossi said...

Birney Zouave
You mean "free" attack don't you? Abolish NATO and send your military home to make Europe a safer place. You're gonna have to do it soon anyway as your currency collapses.

11:34 PM  
Anonymous Italiana said...

Greetings MB & Wafers,

Birn - that is a valid question - indeed, what would it take for Europe (as a whole) to finally say 'enough'? I'm not sure. But I've heard more grumbling amongst both the regular folks here in Italy and Switzerland, as well as popping up once in a while in a newspaper article. That tells me that there is an undercurrent building. But I'm sure they'll take it very slowly, probably hoping the US will 'come to its senses'. (Which of course it won't.) I've also seen polls showing growing support in Germany for US forces to leave. One even reported in the Stars & Stripes (2018). NATO/US military in Europe is a HUGE infrastructure, with many local economies dependent on all those military folks and their money. Any drawdown would have to be gradual or the economic hit would be huge.

Yossi - agree re safer, but making the change would be painful for the Europeans, so that's why they are just grumbling right now.

3:36 AM  
Anonymous cormorant said...

@ Birn:
There's nothing 'free' about US defense, that's yet another example of Yank lazy thinking and imperial ignorance/arrogance:

I'll tell you what costs a lot in Europe, socially and monetarily: dealing with the fallout from massive human displacement caused by wars across Asia and North Africa which were fuelled by the good old USA.

5:46 AM  
Anonymous trying to stay sane said...

Italiana and Wafers of all types and nationalities:

It may also be that the US joined with NATO to overthrow Gaddafi because he had stopped recycling petrodollars through NY banks and threatened to disrupt the system agreed to in 1973 by which American dollars used to purchase oil in the Middle East would be invested in NY banks. The author of the article admits that his opinion is but a thesis, but it rings true to what I know about America and the Middle East.

7:19 AM  
Anonymous Hans Castorp said...

Nice excerpt from Andrew Bacevich’s book “The Age of Illusions: How America Squandered Its Cold War Victory”

US is obviously a society undergoing self destruction - check out the bullet-point list of stats about 2/3rds of the way through

1:14 PM  
Blogger flanagle said...

More 'Winter-Wonderland' fun in the United Security States of Anxiety (USSA):

This was great sport for my friends and me about sixty years ago. No one ever took any potshots at us or even wanted to beat us up. Thankfully, the shooter didn't kill them. Several comments I read on Yahoo said the kids had it coming. Jeesh, I'm glad I escaped the hell out of batshit country nine years ago. Ain't been back since.

1:17 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


The only people who don't realize that the place is batshit are Americans. They are drowning in mythologies. But the fact that the country is batshit is no hyperbole. Scroll thru the data of 'impossible' incidents provided by Wafers over the past few yrs. What else can one call this behavior? (Murdering your children, peeing on merchandise in stores, shooting someone because he looked at you--etc. and etc.)


That's quite a list. I didn't read the rest of the article; does he say, anywhere, that Americans are douche bags and buffoons? Or does he take the usual prog line, that they are victims?


3:01 PM  
Anonymous Pat Chouli said...

I’m sorry abt going over the 1/2 pg. rule. I don’t have my notes with me & can only access the internet at the library 1x a month or so. Instead, here are 2 songs that have a nice Waferian flavor to them. And I’ll end w 2 quotes I like so far in 2020. Enjoy!

“To start saving the world, we must save each person individually, one-by-one; to save everyone is romanticism or politics.” ~ Charles Bukowski

"What unites Trump, Putin, Johnson, and the rest is not ideology, but that they have no coherent ideas about the future and all peddle warped nostalgias. Fact-checking won’t change this." ~ William Gibson

5:11 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


You didn't. As for warped nostalgias...I wonder. Trumpi seeks to upend globalization, and the neoliberal post-WW2 consensus. Perhaps he's doing it unconsciously, as it were, but he's doing it.


5:38 PM  
Blogger Himanshu said...

Dear Dr, Berman and Wafers,

Below is a very good interview of Johan Galtung (conducted in 2017) centered around the question: What will replace Capitalism?

In response to a question about the Trump phenomenon in the US he says: "Well, I think the Trump phenomenon has two aspects. One aspect is that this is a clinical case of autism. And even if I’m brought to court I will say what I have just said. And Trump in the White House means that the White House is now a day-care center for the psychiatric patient. That’s one aspect.

But, having said that, I am of course not blind or deaf to certain abilities he has. He is consistent, and his program boils down to two points: “Give capital what capital wants” and “Give the army what the army wants.” What he wants I wouldn’t call “an anticommunist revolution,” I would call it “a super capitalist revolution.” In other words, capitalism without any constraints, pure capitalism, pure market. He’s a purist, a market fundamentalist, if you will. And as for the army, he’s of the firm belief that the military know best. They know where a military intervention is needed and in what way. In other words, “Give them the freedom.” So, you can say, he stands for the freedom of the supermarket, and for the freedom of the Pentagon. He doesn’t trust the State Department, but he has trust in the Pentagon. But I can say one thing. In fact, he shouldn’t trust the Pentagon either because the military are more sensible than he is."


7:34 PM  
Anonymous Italiana said...

Greetings MB & Wafers,

@sane - I've read that theory behind the Libya/Gaddafi NATO/US operation before. It is also mentioned (I think) in the Michael Hudson article. Bottom line - the empire must nip any attempt to deviate from the US dollar as the world's reserve currency. If that happens, the dollar craters. The empire can't whack China and Russia, so they go after any smaller country that attempts any independence.

On another topic, how nutso the US healthcare system is, I offer this link with 30 folks responding to Bernie Sanders' question about their most absurd medical bills.

6:12 AM  
Blogger Janet D said...

Loved the story. Well done, MB.

In more declinist news: According to the New England Journal of Medicine, within 10 years, HALF of all Americans will be obese, with approximately 1 out of 4 Americans becoming severely obese. (can be found in multiple places on web, here's one:

My favorite quote: “It will probably take lots of federal, state and local policy interventions and regulations to have a big impact" .

As if.

And all those extra health care costs are going to be dragging down our system as well. Administration of the U.S. health care already costs 4 x as much as Canada: (can be found other places as well).

Even if the US did ever manage to change to single payer (not likely at all, esp with GOP in control), can you imagine the utter mess that transition will be?

9:43 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Thank you. Nice to think of Americans waddling down the st. In future, pls send messages to most recent post, as no one reads the old stuff. Thanks.


10:14 PM  
Anonymous liv said...

I have read a very nice piece that summarizes the whole shitty life in America despite the fact many Americans are still in denial. Enjoy. I am so content to be reading this from Spain.

Here is another. You can say goodbye to public schools in the US soon, only private will be available. Who cares about the 99%. On the other hand, indeed the US public schools are worth shit.

5:38 PM  

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