April 09, 2020

It's All Over but the Shouting


A few months ago, David Masciotra, a free-lance writer and author of Against Traffic, among other works, approached The American Conservative with a proposal for an article, which would be a review of my American Empire trilogy. He subsequently submitted the article, and never heard back. Since I'm neither a conservative nor a progressive, but only a writer interested in Reality, it's possible that TAC got spooked by David's essay. (To paraphrase T.S. Eliot, "Americans can't bear too much reality.") However, it's also possible that by that time the coronavirus was starting to make itself visible, and that TAC was thrown by that rather than anything ideological. I guess we can give them the benefit of the doubt. In any case, David and I agreed that I should just post his essay on my blog, and accept the fact that no American publication was likely to run it (for whatever reason). Hence, here it is.

It’s All Over but the Shouting: Morris Berman’s Work on American Decline

“Stick a fork in their ass, and turn them over. They’re done,” Lou Reed dryly announces on his 1989 song about the American Empire, “The Last Great American Whale.” The rock and roll poet’s grim diagnosis of a culture gone awry makes for a fine lyric. If Reed were to have expanded his morbid one-liner into a 1,000-page trilogy of books, full of assiduous research, brilliant anecdotes, and despite the sad subject matter, immensely enjoyable, and often amusing, prose, he would have something resembling the series of books on American decline from cultural critic, historian, novelist, and poet, Morris Berman.

Berman, while a visiting professor in the belly of the beast at the Catholic University in Washington, DC, began writing the first installment in the late 1990s, The Twilight of American Culture, after observing the coalescence of several pathologies that are now beyond dispute as inflicting pain on American life: staggering rates of inequality, governmental dysfunction, an ever-expanding militarism, the fracturing of communal and civic life, and the dominance of anti-intellectualism, visible in everything from an increasingly shallow pop culture to misspelled words on public signs. There was also an aura of threat in the air, of the kind predicted by Don DeLillo in his 1985 novel, White Noise. Like the thick presence of humidity on a summer afternoon, Americans couldn’t see that their neighbors were becoming selfish, and often cruel, but they could feel it.

Having studied the downfall of other empires, Berman saw the window for American reform closing. He warned that if America did not drastically transform its public policies, ideology, and working conception of citizenship, its troubles would only intensify and calcify, bringing a once-promising civilization past the point of no return. In the two books that followed—Dark Ages America and Why America Failed—Berman meticulously demonstrated that America’s myopic focus on profit, at the expense of everything else, its zest for war – at home and abroad – and its lack of self-awareness and insight had escalated, making recovery virtually impossible.

Simultaneous with the development of Berman’s argument, the United States suffered the worst attack on its soil on September 11, 2001, and responded by launching not one, but two disastrous wars. Its housing market and financial system crashed, liquidating much of middle class wealth, and it reacted with giving away boondoggles to the very parties of greed that caused the crisis. Then, in 2016, as the citizenry began to stratify in ways more violent and intractable, Donald Trump became President-Elect. Berman, whom the New York Times and other mainstream outlets dismissed as cynical, cranky, and “anti-American,” looks more and more sterling.

The left and right argue about nearly everything, making extreme accusations about each other. Maybe one camp is right on other issues, and the other is correct on some, but the larger possibility to consider is, what if they are all wrong on the main issue?

As Berman put it during a recent email exchange that I had with him:

Conservatives and progressives alike are patriots; like Trump, they seek to save America, or make it great again. What they are ignoring is the rhythm and record of history. All civilizations rise and fall; there are no exceptions to this rule, and America is not going to escape its fate. The great Southern historian, C. Vann Woodward, first suggested the inevitable decline of the nation in 1953. Andrew Hacker stated it clearly in The End of the American Era, 1970. Between that year and today, there have been a host of books—my trilogy on the American empire included—that have pointed out that civilizations come and go, and that now is our time. Yet on both the right and left, there is no recognition of this bedrock reality. If you do recognize the larger picture, you can't possibly care about impeachment, for example, or who wins these silly Democratic debates. All of that is theater, not reality.

The reality is ascertainable from the daily deluge of grim headlines—lead poisoning in the water causing irreversible brain damage in children, the rise of the “working poor,” near-daily mass shootings, America spending hundreds of billions on weapons of war while ignoring its crumbling infrastructure. Pundits and politicians have a tendency to treat all of these signs of pathology and dysfunction as isolated, but an unobstructed historical vantage point, which Berman’s work provides, suggests that all of America’s problems—from high rates of functional illiteracy to political corruption—are trees growing out of the same rotten roots.

Berman’s project becomes more excavation than analysis, demonstrating an affinity for radicalism, in the original sense of the term, which is identifying and criticizing an issue’s origin, rather than obtusely obsessing over its consequences. America, from its inception, was dedicated to commercial conquest, and equated “the pursuit of happiness” with the acquisition of wealth and property. The third book in Berman’s trilogy, Why America Failed, relies on assiduous research and sharp analysis to prove the case over its 400 pages. Meanwhile, the consistent papering over the more accurate story he tells, with red, white and blue advertisements, robs even many of the country’s leading dissidents of a holistic perspective. In his deployment of cultural criticism, Berman shows how, although his politics tend slightly toward the left, he is most in mourning over America’s destruction of tradition and refusal to balance its desires for commercial dominance with small scale, communal concerns:

Dating back 400 years—the continent was filled with individuals whose idea of the good life was goods, i.e. money and property. There were dissenting voices, such as Capt. John Smith and the Puritan divines, but these were increasingly pushed aside. The title of Richard Bushman's book, and the book itself, are good summaries of the process: From Puritan to Yankee. America was effectively born bourgeois; it had no feudal period. And while feudalism had its obvious drawbacks, it also had some serious advantages: community, craftsmanship, ties of friendship, meaningful work, noblesse oblige, and spiritual purpose, among other things. The American experiment was based, from the first, on hustling, opportunism; this is what the "pursuit of happiness" really meant in the eighteenth century—go out and get yours (which the Founding Fathers certainly did). "Virtue" originally meant putting the needs of society above one's own personal interests. By the late seventeenth century, the meaning had been inverted: it now meant personal success in an opportunistic environment. Blaming the corporate elite has its limits, because what virtually all Americans want is to join the upper 1 percent. Thus American spirituality, such as it is, can be summarized in a single word: More. More, more, I want more. Our leaders reflect our values, which is how America's consummate hustler, Donald Trump, wound up in the White House. In that sense, we have a genuine democracy.

In his seminal essay, “Democratic Vistas,” Walt Whitman worried that “genuine belief” had left American life. In the mad race for money and status, Americans were forgetting or neglecting the sociopolitical principles that could construct a spiritually strong society. For “genuine belief” to thrive, the believers must, in spite of their partisan or ideological disputes, maintain some adherence to tradition – a set of ideas, rites, and practices that form the foundation of their politics, behavior, and vision for the development of their culture.

Berman attempts to achieve a balance in his cultural and historical analysis by spotlighting societies where edifying traditions are steadfast, helping to anchor their respective cultures, and help inhabitants connect to each other with a shared sense of purpose. In Neurotic Beauty, Berman writes about Japan’s traditions of craft, family, and advantageous use of empty space in art and identity, and how those traditions are under siege by Japan’s own move to large scale, corporate capitalism. In Genio: The Story of Italian Genius, Berman examines the Italian gift of injecting space, movement, into static situations – the result of which is, arguably, the most significant creative legacy in the Western world.

It is not only through travel and study that Berman is able to contrast cultures that maintain some loyalty to their best traditions with the American fixation on commercial, technological, and militaristic “progress,” but also through his own experience. He asserts that the “best decision” of his life was moving to Mexico, and one of his worst decisions was waiting so long to do it. When I asked him about the “traditional society” of his Mexican home, as juxtaposed with his previous home in Washington, DC, he began with the caveat that “Mexico has been heavily Americanized, and traditional values—community, friendship, craftsmanship, spirituality—have accordingly been eroded in favor of hustling, individualism, alienation, and meaninglessness.”

Nevertheless, his move to Mexico was a “bet” on the lasting elements of tradition and communal life in Mexico, and it is one that has proven itself wise. Berman offers an anecdote to illustrate the camaraderie and generosity that often characterize his relationships and interactions in Mexico:

Something like this happens to me at least once a week, and it always wakes me up to the fact that I am not living in the US anymore. I live in an apartment building in Mexico City, one floor up. One day I was coming home from the supermarket, going up the stairs, carrying plastic bags full of groceries, and one of the bags broke. Contents spilled out all over the stairs and onto the ground: oranges, Diet Coke, whatever. At that point, at the top of the stairs, the door to the apartment there opened, and a 5-year-old girl peered out. Without saying a word, she came down the stairs and helped me put the spilled groceries back in the bags. When it was done, she went back upstairs and closed the door. Berman would not argue that acts of kindness never take place in the United States, or that every single Mexican behaves according to an ethic of solidarity, but the rarity of friendly relations in America, and the breakdown of community, as documented at length by Robert Putnam, Sherry Turkle, and many other scholars, is not accidental.

“For one thing, girls are taught to fear men, in America (possibly with good reason),” Berman said, and added, “The sexes pretty much hate each other, or are at least wary of each other. But equally significant, Americans of all ages are taught to not help other people (we even arrest people who attempt to feed the homeless). Their problems are their problems, not yours. You are not your brother's keeper, and in general other people are rivals or enemies.”

America has failed to enact the social welfare policies of its democratic peers in Western Europe, but what Berman indicts goes to deeper to core of America’s character. America has also neglected to preserve its “bonds of voluntary association” that Alexis de Tocqueville believed were crucial to the health of the society. In that sense, Americans interested in conservatism might consider that their country is the least conservative in the world. It invests almost no effort in conserving anything, from the beauty of its natural environment to the social ties that are essential for a durable civilization.

The improvements of American life for blacks, women, gays, and workers were possible through the courageous social movements of the 20th century, and these are improvements that Berman admires. He cautions, however, that none of them address the central problem of American culture:

Those were certainly great successes, and they made a great difference for the people involved in those movements. Personally, I applaud them. The problem, however, is that all of them were bids to have a greater share in the American pie—bids to enter the dominant culture. None of them envisioned, a la Lewis Mumford, Henry David Thoreau, or Ernest Callenbach, a different type of society. They merely wanted a greater role in the society as is. The only group that stood for a completely different way of life was the Native Americans, and look what we did to them. The savagery of that genocide, of a people who dared to disagree with the American definition of "progress," is unbelievable.

When Martin Luther King turned more radical, expressing opposition to the “spiritual sickness” of America, rather than only its racist laws, the country turned on him. Similarly, Berman describes in his trilogy how most of the public mocked and ridiculed President Jimmy Carter for his televised "Spiritual Malaise" address, given in Annapolis in 1979—a speech that now appears prescient in its condemnation of uncontrolled consumerism, unabashed selfishness, and the stunning inability of the nation to observe its own behavior.

The candidates in the 2020 race for the presidency, including the president himself, routinely repeat the bromide that the election will determine the “direction” of the country. The "soul" of the nation is somehow always at stake, and yet regardless of who gets elected, things continue to spiral out of control. Morris Berman’s sobering assessment doubles as a “Dead End” sign, warning that the winner might influence the speed and comfort of travel, but that ultimately, we're headed for collapse.


Blogger Michael Martin said...

I moved to New Zealand about the time you were finishing up your Twighlight book. The thing that stood out for me at the time, was the increasing hysteria and psychosis of ordinary Americans, along with the PC culture that deemed telling the unvarnished truth about anything as "immoral." Like you, I couldn't talk to anyone about serious matters, because I could never be sure if the person I was talking to would cork off and "go postal" on me. I ultimately saw my fellow denizens as so many head of spooked cattle, who could stampede at any moment. I simply couldn't continue to live in such an environment.

This is what the late Polish psychologist Andrew Lobaczewski called the hysteroidal cycle. He got out of Communist Poland in the 1980's and spent a decade in the U.S. He noted the Americans were already showing signs of thee same collective hysterical fugue which characterized Europe in the generation or so before the World Wars.

Like you, I regard moving to NZ to be the best decision I ever made, one which I have never regretted. The country's rational, calm and determined response to COVID-19 only confirms this. No society is perfect, but, compared with the U.S., NZ is a beacon of moral sanity just now.

9:47 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Congratulations on a v. wise move. It's quite amazing, really, that Americans haven't a clue as to how completely nuts they are. The prog press hammers away, on a daily basis, as to how bonkers the president is, but can't seem to grasp the fact that they are bonkers as well. As is any random American walking down the st.


12:09 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

The New Yorker periodically resurrects stories from past issues. In this case, a story from 1993 profiling the angry chronicler of the American scene, Bill Hicks.


12:26 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


A gd example of how America lives in fantasy-land. This article in the NYT lists the crap we are embedded in, and then resorts to exhortation as the way to address it: we shd do this, we must do that. Not a word abt how to enforce these noble objectives. Honestly, cd there be a clearer example of Cranial-Rectal Embedment?


This from the Times editorial staff. Why doesn't the NYT run a headline like "We are a collection of violent, selfish morons, and nothing is going to change"? That wd be news fit to print. I have often said that American stupidity hardly excludes the hi-IQ set, and here we have it: smart people living in total delusion. Is there no upper limit to this douchebaggery?


3:14 PM  
Anonymous Yoogoogulator said...


Thanks, great article.

"In America—I’m not kidding—people bark their approval.” I looked at him dubiously. “Ask around,” Hicks said, and he simulated the sound. “They bark like animals. It’s frightening. It’s what American society has reduced people to".



Does any else find it hilariously ironic that Hedges' revolution was canned after corporate restructuring?

4:01 PM  
Anonymous Tom Servo said...

The U.S. suicide rate increased 35% in the last two decades.


4:07 PM  
Anonymous Joe sixpack said...

1st time poster here w/ my own horror story tell. Last yr I threw my grandson a party for his 18th birthday during his weekend stay with my wife & I. A female classmate he was pals with wanted to go but wasn't invited; they'd apparently had a scuffle. 2 days later I learned that the car his deceased dad left him was trashed. He immediately suspected it was the rejected girl. Turned out this chick had a lot of issues that included an absentee dad. Being an old fart (64) I can say women back in my day weren't usually this bitter. They cut their losses & moved on. I pity these young men & boys coming up today, cause most females now are seriously screwed up.

4:45 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Welcome to the blog. Don't lurk; live! Yes, American women are confused, conflicted, bitter, and pretty much miserable. I'm not sure American men are any better, tho.


Really? Only 35%? Meanwhile, jus' think what the next decade will bring! I guess that's the 3rd option I omitted: 1) Emigrate 2) Become an NMI 3) Pack it in.


Re: Hedges: r.u. referring to the collapse of Truthdig? Actually, it's been a bit of a relief, not to read his weekly call for the masses to rise up. So much dogshit he peddled, and w/o the slightest bit of shame.


5:00 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: A win for the Gipper:


5:28 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps2: More info on a real piece of trash:


10:02 PM  
Anonymous Hanoi Joe said...


I moved to Vietnam about 10 years ago, shortly after I turned 30. I moved mostly because I realized everyone around me was insane and I had no future in the US. Anyway, I taught English, met a nice Vietnamese woman, got married, and we currently have a fully bilingual 5-year-old. For most of the last 10 years, we have been back-and-forth between the US and Vietnam to get a graduate degree, say bye to family, take care of loose ends, etc.

But last year we built a house in my wife's farming commune, and a few months ago (December 2019) we made the move permanent - just in time!!! So glad we're in a farming commune, growing our own food and surrounded by family right now. There's a COMMUNITY here! Holy shit! Indeed, if you go back about 5 generations, literally everyone in the commune has the same great great great great grandfather.

When we first got married and I wanted to live in Vietnam, my wife thought I was a little crazy, as the physical standard of living is higher in the US (at least for our socio-economic class). You need to remember that my wife grew up in the aftermath of the American War (and French Colonialism, Japanese Occupation, French War, Cambodian War, Chinese Conflict...), and she didn't even have indoor plumbing or electricity until she was nearly in college. Anyway, NOW she understands WHY I didn't want to be in the States.

If we were in the US NOW, our son wouldn't even see other children, and it would basically just be the three of us. But here, we live in multi-generational household and one of his cousins - who is also 5 - even lives with us. They play with other children every single day and are both quite happy (especially since they don't have school).

Also, the Vietnamese government has done a far better job dealing with Covid-19 than the US has, despite the difference in resources.

Anyway, I'm just glad we got out in time. And to be honest, I'm a little relieved that the US system is FINALLY starting to collapse. It seems like it's been on life support forever, but it looks like this virus will pretty much pull the plug. I just hope the US Empire doesn't start WW III or something on its way out the door.

Keep up the good work! Stay safe. Stay sane.

7:50 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Sintao! and thanks for writing. I shd 1st tell u that we have a half-pg limit on this blog, so in future, pls adhere to that guideline. But I loved hearing yr story, and have fond feelings myself abt Hanoi, wh/I visited for a wk some yrs ago. I also have a gd friend there; if you want his info, write me at mauricio@morrisberman.com. What yr describing abt communal and family life is also known as health, wh/is virtually nonexistent in America. It's hard to believe, how impoverished Americans are, and how clueless they are as to what's really impt in life. Anyway, w/or w/o the virus, the plug will be pulled. Abt that, I have abs. no doubt.


10:44 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Sorry, I don't post Anons. You need a real handle, e.g., Pierre Tete de Merde.


1:02 PM  
Blogger Cj said...

Terrific article Professor, too bad TAC wouldn't publish it. I used to peruse their website frequently but the many fawning articles about trump really turned me off.

Watching a lot of Aljazeera these days. They've become my favorite TV newsource.

Started reading Elena Ferrante's Neopolitan series per your recommendation. What a great writer! HBO has done an adaptation of the first book but I've yet to watch it.

Hope all is going well.


1:20 PM  
Anonymous Nigel said...

‘When all the graves were full, huge trenches were excavated in the churchyards, into which new arrivals were placed in their hundreds, stowed tier upon tier like ships’ cargo.’ Boccaccio - (Camus has a passage echoing this in The Plague). https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/09/opinion/coronavirus-economy-history.html

Why the Wealthy Fear Pandemics

The coronavirus, like other plagues before it, could shift the balance between rich and poor.

By Walter Scheidel

1:24 PM  
Anonymous Malleus Maleficarum said...

It may not feel like it now, but out of this crisis there’s a chance to build a better America.

Yeah, sure...

There is this trashy B-series movie (one of a number of collaborations between Roger Corman and Vincent Price that I can't help loving, especially the ones based on Edgar Allan Poe's stories), "The Masque of the Red Death," where, at the end of the movie, the Red Death asks Prince Prospero: "Why should you be afraid to die? Your soul has been dead for a long time." A question for America, indeed.

Americans are so scared of death that they can't face the simple fact that everything has an end. Hence the belief in never-ending economic growth, the belief that "science" will defeat death, etc. And they don't even realize they're dead already, as they have no spirit.

7:23 AM  
Blogger Himanshu said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

Excellent review of your American Empire trilogy! Thank you for posting.

I have a few questions around the Founding Fathers, who as you mentioned in the essay "went and got theirs". No doubt they were unusual men who were steeped in the Enlightenment and I am not trying to discredit them, with my questions, of their contributions towards the formation of the republic.But I have wondered in general: What was their psychological landscape?
1. Towards the end of their lives were they joyful people? For example Jefferson was said to be deep in debt. Such a situation generally makes people depressed, hopeless, etc.
2. I am ignorant on the subject but are their records that conduct a "horizontal" analysis of these men(i.e., what were they really internally as human beings)?
3. To Contrast: Gandhi(called Father of the Indian Nation), although coming from a wealthy background, gave up all of it and formed a movement that was successful, built and demonstrated a sustainable economic system on a small scale, spent considerable time in British prisons, but one can see in his body and face that till the end of his days he was a joyful human being.

Thank you,

8:10 AM  
Anonymous Birney Zouave said...

Dr. B-

Check out the long lines of cars queuing up for food-


10:17 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


In the land of Every Man For Himself, it's not likely the gov't will do very much to help these people out. But these pics are symbolic of what the country is abt.


"My life is my message." That might apply to all of them.


10:42 AM  
Anonymous George Washington said...

I've awaken from the dead after 2 centuries of sleep. How's our experiment doing? I shall report it to the rest of the settler-colonialists upon my return to the underworld.

12:08 PM  
Blogger Joe McIlnen said...

It just doesn't get any more bizarre here in America. Maybe it's another example of “love thy neighbor” in the United States. Or perhaps it's an American citizen's way of thanking nurses for risking their lives to save lives during this pandemic.


12:50 PM  
Anonymous Debra Hoyt London said...

AMLO calling Trump for help with his oil production dream tells you a lot about Mexican nationalism. Wheeee!

12:53 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


What does it tell you?


Not clear why the guy didn't just shoot all these nurses. Not a real American: slashing tires is lame. What we need is firepower. These nurses need to be taught a lesson. Helping people! Hmmph!


1:31 PM  
Anonymous al- Qa'bong said...

Hello Wafers:

For those of us who are familiar with the writings of Belman, there isn't much that we haven't seen before in this article, although one passage stuck out for me:

In his deployment of cultural criticism, Berman shows how, although his politics tend slightly toward the left, he is most in mourning over America’s destruction of tradition and refusal to balance its desires for commercial dominance with small scale, communal concerns...

I'm not saying that a non-gringo couldn't have written that, but it does express the "if it's not this, then it has to be that" attitude that seems to be typical in the USA. It is quite possible to be on the left and yet value tradition. Mind you, I come from the country gave the world "Red Tories," so perhaps that perspective influences my own attitude towards the "left vs. conservative" arrangement.


4:45 PM  
Anonymous Rustic Squash said...

When I was reading Google News, I noticed this article, which provides statistics demonstrating that America is not really a developed country. Instead, it's quality of life metrics like medical care indicate the country is more of a developing country.

Here is the link to the article:


8:15 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

More commentary on one of the great human beings of the 20C:


Meanwhile, we have yet to hear commentary on the virus from some of the leading intellects of American political life:

Rom Mittney
Botox Face
Ging Newtrich
Michele Bachmann
Sarah Palin
Dan Quayle

Speak, O sages! America needs yr wisdom.


12:31 AM  
Anonymous willy robinson said...

Well written article. Must've bee a lot of hard work to draw together the main threads of the argument into a short piece, and still keep intact some of the style of the trilogy.

8:07 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

I have a mask but what I really need is a barf bag for the next time I hear "We'll get through this together and will be stronger for it." First, what "get through"? The US leads the world in death while a much poorer country like Thailand has only 35 dead. Also, New Zealand has 1 and Hong Kong has 4. In other words, this government has failed miserably as Trump was too busy playing golf throughout January and February when he was more than aware what was coming. Two, what mean "together"? The virus bill gives 500 billion to the public while Wall Street walks away with trillions. Also, when was the last time Americans did anything together? We basically hate each other reflected in housing patterns and even those living literally next to each other like in tony suburbs make every effort not to meet. And after this has passed will we have learned anything? Of course not.

8:43 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


The period of 'social unity' after 9/11 was very brief; chances are it will be even briefer this time around. The national ethos is to not give a damn abt anyone but oneself.


Masciotra did most of the work, actually.


10:58 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: for example:


11:23 AM  
Anonymous Tom Servo said...

This article was written before Bernie Sanders dropped out of the race but I think it is an interesting critique of his campaign and the contemporary American left.


1:36 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Big Surprise Dept.:


1:56 PM  
Anonymous Debra Hoyt London said...

MB - It tells me AMLO doesn't know what he's doing.

4:38 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Maybe, but maybe not. He has been a disappointment in other areas, however.


5:37 PM  
Anonymous Malleus Maleficarum said...

On AMLO: he wrote a letter asking the king of Spain for an apology for the atrocities during the conquest of Mexico. (He didn't even ask for monetary reparations.) He was just grand standing. That is identity politics. As simple as that. Identity politics. Period. I am sorry, but in my book AMLO is a huge disappointment and his behaviour during the coronavirus crisis is consistent with previous disappointments.

7:15 PM  
Anonymous Yenab said...


Sheldon Solomon on the psychological cost of being an American

7:51 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


So far, 296 dead in Mexico. The question is whether the curve is rising or tapering off. No one knows, AMLO included.


8:09 PM  
Anonymous Lysol Impresario said...

Tom- great points on Bernard.

And now we see what the output from Alaska's voting, where he did well (up 86%) in '16, and he's been clobbered in the dbl digits! You'd think this would prompt some time for reflection?


8:23 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Schmernie has been crushed; a great relief to many, including declinists. My own concern is that schmernism has not been totally extirpated. It must be pulled out by the roots, so as to never confuse the American electorate again. As for reflection: what percentage of the American population engages in reflection? .000001%, maybe?


9:42 PM  
Anonymous Tristanhnl said...

To: Deb, Malleus, M Berman:

When it hits hard in Africa, South /Central America, and South Asia the global economic & geopolitical implications are going to be terribly frightening.

9:46 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Just a word on how this blog works (ideally). We're not big on opinions. Opinions are like assholes: everybody's got one. There is no reason for us to take your opinion seriously, since it doesn't seem to be an informed opinion. What we like to see, on the other hand, is evidence, and you have provided none at all. Can you come up with a link to an article in which some demographer or economist has made your argument, based on serious suggestive or predictive data? That wd be helpful. What you have posted is not.


10:49 PM  
Anonymous Benny Goldacre said...

Well Wafers, happy Easter. Do you prefer Mahler's 2nd - Mozart's Coronation - or Bach's Easter Oratorio?

12:06 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Xristos voskres! (Russian: Christ has risen!) Personally, I prefer Hymie Goldberg's "Requiem for Pastrami on Rye in F Minor." This Jewish tribute to Easter is also gd (Irving Berlin):

"In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it,
You'll be the grandest lady in the Easter parade.
I'll be all in clover and when they look you over,
I'll be the proudest fellow in the Easter parade.

"On the avenue, fifth avenue, the photographers will snap us,
And you'll find that you're in the rotogravure.
Oh, I could write a sonnet about your Easter bonnet,
And of the girl I'm taking to the Easter parade."


12:22 AM  
Anonymous Dr. Shithouse said...

Wafer Benny, Mahler's 2nd. Not only musically stunning--One long death march/funeral rites. For what purpose have you lived? What was the purpose of your life?

Reminds of Camus stating the world was a hospice, never a hospital. In the US, the 'world' was the coroner's office.

12:26 AM  
Anonymous Anjin-san said...

A friend recently sent me a link to this video of the founding fathers singing Don't Let Democracy Die.


I didn't have the heart to tell him that democracy has never really existed in the United States. If memory serves me correct many of the founding fathers Federalist Papers make that clear.

And any careful study of the last 240 years of American History make it absolutely clear!

8:11 AM  
Anonymous Silva said...

Ah, yes, just what the doctor ordered. Pissing away a few million dollars to fly fighter jets around to "honor" health care workers. This country can't fail fast enough.

9:36 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Note to Michael-

See what I wrote to Tristan, above. This is not an 'opinion' column, where people come and sound off. You probably need to find a different blog, where broadcasting off the top of one's head is the norm. Here, we provide documentation (references) for our arguments.


9:53 AM  
Anonymous Gradenwitz said...


Mozart's and Bach's pretty much tie it for me. With Mozart coming slightly ahead just out of my own personal musical temperament. Mahler's 2nd is beautiful though, Dr. Shithouse.


10:55 AM  
Blogger The Wanderer said...

RE: AMLO chose not to implement medical martial law ...so far

I'm an expatriate of over 10 years, with legal residence in Ecuador. I'm more concerned about catching tyranny so I chose to remain in Mexico.

Ecuador is competing with China for totalitarian control of the population. You are allowed out 1 time per week based on your cedula number. Mercados are closed down so only the wealthy can purchase food in the expensive Corporate Grocery Stores where they spray you down prior to entry (folks haven't bothered to ask...with what?) Fines are $100 to $6000 usd for going for a walk. The gov't has asked the people to help the military and the police enforce the curfew (2pm to 5am) by reporting your neighbors. And everyone is blaming "the poor" for the crisis because they aren't following the rules. They won't stay home and starve to death with their families. The gov't has sped up the installation of 5G to be completed by July 2020.

Alas...estoy agradacida estar en Mexico... this too is subject to change.

11:14 AM  
Blogger Joe McIlnen said...

Dr. Berman and Wafers,
I'm puzzled. What gives? Does anybody have the answer? Am I missing something? Or is this just another wonderful unique example of American exceptionalism? Don Trump in one headline says that it only is up to him, and him alone, when the U/S. economy will reeopen. Yet in another headline, the release of Don Trump's tax returns and financial records proving his “immense wealth” only will be made via a teleconferencing call, and not in persons seated 6 feet apart, next month by the U.S. Supreme Court. Yet Don wants to reopen the country, get people together again, and restart the economy as soon as possible.

11:40 AM  
Anonymous al- Qa'bong said...

Hello Wafers:

Wouldn't real 'Murrkans want to hear Gene Autry's "Peter Cottontail" on Easter?

As for Irving Berlin, not only did he write "Easter Parade," he also wrote "God Bless America," which Kate Smith used to sing, and which was considered a good luck charm by the Philadelphia Flyers (although why boys from Flin Flon, Manitoba, Smithers, BC, and Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan cared about this I don't know).

They recently tore down Kate Smith's statue from the front of the Philly rink because she also sang Lew Brown's "That's Why Darkies Were Born." Groucho Marx also once sang a bit of the song in a movie, by the way. Lots of entertainers sang the song in the 30s, as it wasn't considered outrageous the way it is today.

Incidentally, Iring Berlin also wrote a number called "The Minstrel Parade," which includes the endearing lines,
"Hear those coons playing tunes
Like they should be played"

In these days of wokefulness, shouldn't Irving Berlin be villified? Shouldn't "God Bless America" be thrown on the dung heap of history?

12:08 PM  
Anonymous SrVidaBuena said...

This would seem to be a fairly conservative source. While I don't necessarily agree with every claim made, the article at least begins to highlight aspects of the current 'hustle' in higher ed.


12:18 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

A very nice summation of your work regarding American history and society, MB. David Masciotra is such a good writer. Here's a recent piece he did on Bob Dylan's powerful new release "Murder Most Foul" about the murder of JFK and the subsequent moral decay of America:


Meanwhile, here is a bit of what Americans are doing during the crisis:


Luv to all,


1:14 PM  
Anonymous Jarvis said...

Good review of Matt Taibbi's "Hate Inc." which is IMHO the best critical work I've yet read on how and why the mainstream American media operates as it does. I highly recommend it. Taibbi also recently announced that he was going completely independent in his affiliations w writing columns/essays/articles etc. One of the few journalists who remains worth their salt.

Manufacturing Consent One Chyron at a Time

2:08 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Too true. I pegged administrative bloat as early as 1974, when I was teaching at Rutgers. My colleagues just looked the other way, or 'collaborated'.


When the moon comes over the mountain.


Just keep in mind that Trumpi's historical role is to do as much damage as possible.


2:11 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Taibbi's model is the 'rape' model of what happened to the American people, via media and corporations. This is only partly true. The more accurate model is that of 'consensual sex': Americans eagerly embraced what was being done to them. There are serious limits to Chomsky's 'false consciousness' argument, imo. And of course, it is terribly politically incorrect to observe that the American people are gullible, dumb as shit, patriotic, and in touch w/no critical faculties whatsoever.


2:31 PM  
Blogger Himanshu said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

The below article (Confucius is winning the Covid19 war) compares "hundreds of millions of Asians’ serene response to the coronavirus crisis with the West’s fear, panic and hysteria."
Excerpts: "I offer, as a working hypothesis, that the Asia triad of Confucius, Buddha and Lao Tzu has been absolutely essential in shaping the perception and serene response of hundreds of millions of people across various Asian nations to Covid-19. Compare this with the prevalent fear, panic and hysteria mostly fed by the corporate media across the West."
"The Tao (“the way”) as configured by Lao Tzu is about how to live in harmony with the world. Being confined necessarily leads to delving into yin instead of yang, slowing down and embarking on a great deal of reflection.
Yes, it’s all about culture, but culture rooted in ancient philosophy, and practiced in everyday life. That’s how we can see wu wei – “action of non-action” – applied to how to deal with a quarantine. “Action of non-action” means action without intent. Rather than fighting against the vicissitudes of life, as in confronting a pandemic, we should allow things to take their natural course."
"So what would be the ultimate insight a serene East can offer to the West in such hard times? It’s so simple, and it’s all in the Tao: “From caring comes courage.”
That last sentence in quotes would be an unintelligible language for the dominant culture of the US.

3:52 PM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

Just read White Noise by Don Delillo. I wanda make a slight metaphor about the toxic event. I grew up in the late 60s and 70s, before (anti)social media & dumbphones. The pace of life was much slower; it seemed like folks weren't just existing to consume. Folks in my hometown were more likely than today to invite you over for a BBQ or board games. Then the 80s came along and it was as if something had infected every1 & turned them aloof. Maybe Delillo saw this same phenomenon too. Brilliant book all the same.

5:08 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Well, he wrote it in the midst of the Reagan years, so that oughta tell you something.


Americans in particular don't know *how* to not be hysterical. They have no notion of the quietness of empty space. They are, in a word, fools.


5:47 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: Himan: check out ch. 10 of CTOS.

6:08 PM  
Anonymous Birney Zouave said...

Benny- My favorite Easter music is Bach's well-known chorale, "O Sacred Head" from his "St. Matthew Passion." (The melody was written by Hans Leo Hassler and harmonized by Bach.)

Bach also used the same tune in his Lutheran cantata, "Behold, let us go up to Jerusalem," BWV 159, Part 2. To quote Mr. Craig Smith in his program notes linked below- "The alto aria [Part 2] is a motionless floating aria, almost Buddhist in its otherworldly stasis."


The chorale melody is sung here by four sopranos standing behind the alto soloist, with Rudolf Lutz conducting the Choir and Orchestra of the J. S. Bach Foundation, set to start at 3:58-


The aria ends at 8:35; about 4-1/2 min. Here's the German-English translation; scroll down for Part 2-


6:59 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

A frank and sober portrait of buffoons:


10:02 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

O what a shock:


3:03 AM  
Anonymous Tom Servo said...

Well, this was probably inevitable. Bernie Sanders endorses Joe Biden for president. I wonder how Bernie’s followers will react to this.


4:06 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Let's face it, he was always a schmernie. American politics is not only a farce, it is a joke. And yet a lg % of the American public finds it exciting, and meaningful.


4:54 AM  
Anonymous Malleus Maleficarum said...

Himanshu, I have to disagree with you a bit on Asia. First, I don't think "Asia" is much more homogeneous than America (meaning the US, Mexico, Canada and South America). So Korea, Vietnam, China, Japan etc. are not necessarily the same. Second, I'm a great admirer of ancient Chinese culture, (Taoism, I-Ching... not so much Confucius) but currently China has very little to do with it. I'd even say that the people in today's China that are most closely related to that tradition would be, for example, the members of Falun Gong and, as we know, they have been mercilessly persecuted by the fascist government of China, in many cases ending up being cut alive and without anesthesia for body parts for transplants. Also, as anecdotal evidence, for what it might be worth, I've come across quite a few Chinese individuals and some of them are virulently nationalistic and not much better than their US counterparts, not all of them by any means, but enough for me to consider it noticeable (perhaps the children of the "communist" elites who can afford an education in the West?).

7:15 AM  
Blogger Joe McIlnen said...

Professional wrestling is deemed an “essential” business”, according to the Florida Republican governor. It just further goes to show what is important and of priority to many Americans. As Dr. Berman says, “It doesn't get any dumber.”


12:18 PM  
Anonymous Pat Chouli said...

Hi Joe McIlnen, thanks for responding to my post in the previous thread with “Big Bad Don”. What a hoot! As you would’ve noticed, I inserted a line into the 3rd verse of “Johnny B. Goode,” which is a direct quote from Reagan’s farewell address to the nation in Jan. ‘89 (“the shining city upon a hill”). Of course, I’m trying to be ironic. Wafers know that I’m referring to the first of four major Conspiracies (or unconscious mythologies) listed in Prof. Bergman’s essay “conspiracy vs. Conspiracy in American History.” Yep! so it doesn’t matter that Trumpi is dismantling the country, or that this pandemic is revealing the enormous cracks (a void) in (our) American way of life. There’s just no way Americans can ever detach, unplug, or deprogram themselves from these unconscious mythologies, which already have begun “in dialectical fashion, to turn against those caught up in their magic spell.” (to quote MB from his essay just mentioned). Until the bitter end, Americans will be gazing on that city!

3:44 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Note to OTC-

No pt in sending messages to older posts; no one reads them.


9:14 PM  
Anonymous Flyingspaghettimonstr said...

Mb, have u ever heard of the Battle of Hamburger Hill? Some1 mentioned a song by The Animals that appeared in the movie inspired by it (We Gotta Get Outta This Place). I read the army wanted the (strategically worthless) hill taken over, but it turned out to have been a farce. The movie trailer even claimed less than a 3rd of the GIs made it back. Talk about expendable cannon fodder!

9:57 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Ay, Schmernie! All you ever were, was a Schmernie!


Meanwhile, where is Tulsi in all this? We cd use her keen insights into the virus situation.

11:12 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

I think progressives always misunderstood the real role of Sanders in the Democratic party. His objective has always been to be a sheepdog of the establishment, constantly herding scores of young people and their energy into the hands of career politicians like Pelosi and Schumer. For this occasion I believe Chris Hedges does a really good takedown of Sanders' congressional career in this interview with Ralph Nader:

"What he intends to do is arouse public opinion in a progressive manner without taking a vote away from the eventual party nominee. He's setting millions of people up for a huge moral collapse when he eventually endorses Clinton for the nomination." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7CQ5YlwYy-U

"There are two versions of Bernie Sanders. There is the old Bernie Sanders, who mounted a quixotic campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination as a democratic socialist who refused corporate cash and excoriated corporate Democrats. And there is the new Bernie Sanders, who dutifully plays by the party’s rules and courts billionaires..." https://www.truthdig.com/articles/et-tu-bernie-3/

11:30 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


There's no question that Schmernie is utterly, and totally, full of shit. His subsequent adulation of Hillary, and now Schmiden, is barf-provoking. His candidacies served to create the illusion, for a very gullible electorate, that democracy was alive, in the sense that voters had real choices. But that was an illusion, which is the basic truth of American politics. Hence, I'm not sure Hedges is rt, that there are 2 Schmernies. This was a guy who was going to stick to his principles only if it was feasible, i.e. if his principles attracted voters. But these 'principles' were always quite flexible, adaptable to the way the wind was blowing. There was never going to be a betrayal of the Democratic establishment, on his part. So not 2 versions, and certainly not 2 individuals. Rather, one chameleon.


11:58 PM  
Blogger Jack Lattemann said...

Tulsism lives! In the twilight of her failed Presidential campaign, Tulsi Gabbard stepped into the smaller spotlight of Hawaiian state politics on April 8 by demanding Governor David Ige fire the state director of health and the state epidemiologist for jeopardizing the lives of Hawaii denizens by delaying travel restrictions and stay-at-home directives.

“I do not say this lightly,” Gabbard said, “but our lives and the lives of our loved ones are at stake, and I cannot remain silent.”


I submit this report for inclusion in the closing postscript of MB’s forthcoming slender volume, “History of Tulsism as a 21st Century Philosophy.”

10:24 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I guess lockdown means that the Wafer Urine Team (WUT) can't fly to Hawaii and pee on her shoes. When will we be done w/this turkey?


10:54 AM  
Blogger Mike Kelly said...

Hi MB and Wafers,

Due to a lack of much else to do, I've been graphing the progress of COVID-19 in the US and the world. I use the information reported on CNN every morning at about the same time. The only important thing I've been able to conclude is that once the death rate hits about 6-7% the cases will level off. However, all this is suspect because the data probably just isn't that good. Nobody really knows how many people have the virus or how many have died. Nevertheless, Wafers may want to view and comment:


Also, once again this week James Kunstler hits the nail on the head. American "healthcare" is about to be re-configured by the COVID-19 pandemic:


11:43 AM  
Anonymous Percy said...

WH, T Servo, MB:

Man, thank goodness I found this blog. You guys put to words what my better judgement has been telling me these past, what, 5-6 years(!) of Bernie's charades. They are the charades of a chameleon, you are absolutely correct MB.

MB, I viewed the criterion ed. of "Dersu Uzala." My 1st viewing, a magical film. Any more recs up your sleeve?

2:04 PM  
Blogger Krakhed said...

Thank you for the Patrick Lawrence article.

I found this helpful in explaining the economic crisis we seem to be at the beginning of: https://www.globalresearch.ca/corporations-broke-time-cut-their-credit-cards/5708053

I'd wager to say employment is going to be harder and harder to secure in the USA in the years to come.

2:40 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


"Juliet, Naked"; "Molly's Game".

2:58 PM  
Anonymous Malleus Maleficarum said...

I agree with Dr Berman: there are not 2 Bernie Sanders; there is only one and he's a tool of the establishment. Here is Michael Parenti (a former friend and fellow political activist) on Bernie Sanders supporting the bombing of Yugoslavia and breaking with him as a consequence:


So he went over to the dark side of the force, so to speak, a long time ago (if he ever was on the light side...)

3:48 PM  
Anonymous Vince said...

As I post this all I can hear are Dr. Berman's words; "get out", "emigrate now".

In my state of Michigan some idiots have decided to drive up to the state capital in Lansing to protest the stay at home order.


Just listen to the comments by the "protesters".

The current fine is $1000 a head. Their stimulus checks should about cover that and the gas money they wasted driving to Lansing.

My friends, even Canada looks better every day.


6:46 PM  
Anonymous Eric Jensen said...

After the American massacre and land grab, we have been sold the mythology of sharing in some wonderful plunder as well as freedoms and justice that we would bequeath on all. Why would those pirates want to share the actual wealth?
I remember a Cuban friend who told me that the Spanish conquerors were justified in killing the native people because they didn't have souls. I was stunned that she really believed that and realized how our essential view of the world can change.
I struggle with teaching my child the reality of America and the world. The first book I had him read on his own was Why America Failed. I admire Chris Hedges. Keep in mind that he doesn't offer any hope, only his personal quest.
I have lived in a number of countries and wonder which one will be left standing when ours goes down.

6:51 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Hit the road, Jack.


6:53 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Hello Wafers:

Say, Vince, whaddya mean "even" Canada?

We in the Great White North look upon the USA and thank Bog or God that our antecedents either landed at Halifax, Grosse Isle, Montréal or hit Ellis Island running and took a hard right turn after a few years.

7:16 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I think that Hedges is attempting to offer hope, just indirectly--thru the back door, as it were. Nor is he talking personally; his goal is definitely political. It's hardly some private quest. True, he is not making a prediction that the masses will rise up; he 'only' says that this is the only way we'll get out of this mess. Of course, he must know that these masses are not likely readers of (the former) Truthdig, but his endless harping on that theme, that this is the only solution, speaks for itself, it seems to me; and strikes me as being irresponsible, as a result. Not exactly 'admirable', imo.

I must admit, that the dissolution of Truthdig did, for me and possibly many others, have an important benefit: we don't hafta read, week after week, the same tedious Hedgean revolutionary message, completely out of touch w/Reality. It's because of his refusal to actually deal w/Reality, and his continuing self-delusion, that he appears so sad, so conflicted and confused. It's a dishonest message; a shambles, really.


7:42 PM  
Anonymous Dr. Shithouse said...

Dr. Berman and Wafers, this warms my heart.


The us empire 'govt' through "PPP, EIDL," etc.... is really helping support those affected by Tom Hanks Disease. Heck, the steak house executives even took a pay cut... Awesome sauce!

Perhaps, in a few weeks, we can all enjoy a 100$ steak and toast to continued hustling, huckstering, and imperialistic war mongering.

9:41 PM  
Anonymous A Reader in Dubai said...

Dr Berman and Wafers,

The South African publication "The Daily Maverick" has an article on hustling and cites Dr Berman: https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2020-04-06-shakespeares-hustle/

They seem to draw from an article in the Atlantic from 2013: https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/08/how-americas-culture-of-hustling-is-dark-and-empty/278601/


The Daily Maverick is probably most known for its journalism on corruption in SA and they have recently launched a project which aims to uncover UK foreign policy shenanigans: https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/declassified-uk/

3:01 AM  
Anonymous Tom Servo said...

@Joe McIlnen

Speaking of pro wrestling, Trump has asked WWE owner Vince McMahon to join his new economic advisory group.


Trump really is the perfect president for America!

3:08 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Reader in Dubai-

Thanks for the ref; this is a publication I was totally unaware of. That Waferism might penetrate South Africa is an interesting possibility.


3:46 AM  
Anonymous Joe sixpack said...

(anti)Social media has given particularly nosy, insecure & bitter folks a chance to snoop. I've seen many instances where someone took umbrage at something another party posted somewhere & throw that against the folks in real life. This mess is destroying us & we happily welcome it. You call this progress?

8:39 AM  
Anonymous Pastrami and Coleslaw said...

Dr. B and WAFers. I got my $1200 "stimulus" check from Il Douche yesterday ... so what shall I stimulate with it? Several cases of Corona Light so I can pee on the loafers of every politician I see? Or maybe lay in a supply of chopped liver?

9:35 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Liver. Always go for the liver.


10:14 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Cdn't run it. You provided no links, refs, evidence whatsoever. This is not how this blog operates.


3:15 PM  
Anonymous Anjin-san said...

My 15 year old grandson sent me this link about a group who were waiting for the rapture in 2011.

I thought it was pretty hilarious most of the way through but at the end it was just pathetic and sad. A fine example of American CRE.


5:31 PM  
Blogger Christian Schulzke said...

Dr B, I recently learned of Claude Levi-Strauss' idea of "floating signifiers" and was curious to know what, if any, opinions you had on his work.


5:41 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Wd require a v. long discussion. L-S had some great insights, but there is a problem of lumping together different 'primitive' traditions to create a big undifferentiated 'alternative' paradigm to the West. This occasionally brings him too close to Joseph Campbell, who was a pseudo-scholar, and largely full of hot prunes. For a critique of the latter (along w/Mircea Eliade), check out the ftnotes in WG.


If Americans aren't waiting for the Rapture, they are waiting for secular salvation: their hustling will have paid off, their ship is going to come in, and they'll be rich. John Steinbeck called them 'temporarily embarrassed millionaires'. I call them deluded buffoons. More than 99% of the country, really.


6:06 PM  
Anonymous Dr. Shithouse said...

Please take note Mr. Hedges; these are your USian minions who will def rise up, resist, revolt and fight the good fight.....


7:35 PM  
Blogger The Wanderer said...

Pastrami and Coleslaw said...
Dr. B and WAFers. I got my $1200 "stimulus" check from Il Douche yesterday ... so what shall I stimulate with it?

First, thank you for mentioning this. I just checked my online banking in the USA and sure enough my $1200.00 was electronically deposited yesterday.

I'm using it to stimulate the economy of Oaxaca, Mexico

8:18 PM  
Anonymous Vince said...

Dr. Berman,

Amen Sir! Somewhere cold and quiet.

@ al-Qa'bong,

I take it that you mean Canada has been turned into a right wing country? The main reason that I mention Canada is that I have family that immigrated from Malta many years ago. The other reason is that it someplace that I believe that I can find someplace cold and quiet to live.

This is what I think of when I am thinking of leaving the United States of Amnesia:



8:30 PM  
Anonymous Malleus Maleficarum said...

Eric, although still debated, it seems that smallpox may have been the biggest cause of death among the native population during the Spanish conquest of Mexico. Not denying atrocities and exploitation, I'd argue that the Spanish conquest generally considered that the native population had souls, which is why Catholic missionaries went there to teach them about Christ (they did engage in a campaign of cultural destruction, though, getting rid of artifacts and writings they deemed pagan abominations, an absolutely irreparable loss). Also see the "Leyes de Indias," about which French historian Jean Dumont said: “In that moment in Spain appeared the dawn of the human rights.” Don't forget either that the Spaniards fought a correctly named empire (the Aztec Empire) which was, like all empires, a rapacious enterprise and cause of several civil wars (which the Spaniards used to their advantage). Finally, the Spaniards did mix with the natives very early on, which is why, for example, there is nobility in Spain who are descendants of Montezuma.

PS Apologies for the last link being in Spanish.

2:20 AM  
Anonymous Northern Johnny said...

Hi Dr. B and WAFERS:

I would call the following New Monastic Option oriented:

Long ago, when I was in high school, I used to write up lists of all the classics I was going to read. I imagined getting through most of them before age 22. I was mistaken. Life kept getting in the way.

Prior to this year, I had read Dante's Inferno twice. Early into the COVID-19 crisis I decided the time had come to read the whole Divine Comedy. What a profound experience it has been so far, especially finally making the trip from Hell into Purgatory. In the history of reading life, I don't recall a more profound literary experience - and Paradiso awaits.

We should never cease to marvel that texts written hundreds of years ago can, under the right circumstances, remain alive with intelligence and imaginatively transfigurative. True art endures.

-Northern Johnny

10:31 AM  
Blogger Michael Burgess said...

Hi Dr. Berman and Wafers:

I think Umair Haque's description of what probably is unfolding in America is accurate. What he can't seem to accept is that the goal of average American is to hustle his/her way to wealth, to be 'independently wealthy' is the goal. As you have said, the mindset of the economic elite can be seen as widespread among those in America who don't have wealth and never will.


Haque, an economist by trade, to some degree seems to get it in one of his earlier essays when he writes," In a capitalist society, you aren’t seen as deserving of those things [basic goods]. Those are things which must be “earned.” But that also means: nobody has intrinsic or inherent worth. Because, of course, the definition of “inherent or intrinsic worth” is that I have a basic human right to things like housing and healthcare and medicine and so on."

I remember my parents pounding this into me and my siblings when I was young. Being nobody, nothing, you hustled to get rich, you became 'somebody'.

10:53 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Bravo! Most people don't get it, that I'm actually an optimist--in the long run. In the short run, all I see for the US is unmitigated disaster. But it's different if we start talking in terms of 50 yrs or so. The human spirit always manages to endure. Whether it's Dante or Proust or Cezanne, the voice of truth is never finally silenced. And this is our only hope. BTW, this wd be a gd time for u2 read my bk "Genio".


11:27 AM  
Anonymous Salam said...

Kelly Loeffler says criticism of her coronavirus-era stock trades is "a socialist attack" https://www.thedailybeast.com/sen-kelly-loeffler-tells-fox-news-that-criticizing-my-coronavirus-stock-trades-is-a-socialist-attack

Is it just me or is insider trading whereby political oligarchs enrich themselves at the expense of the working class seems to qualify as more communist...Might just be me

1:47 PM  
Blogger Christian Schulzke said...

For a critique of the latter (along w/Mircea Eliade), check out the ftnotes in WG.

I will definitely be picking that one up. It is funny you mentioned Eliade; I recently finished his book The Sacred And The Profane. Reading Evola's Revolt Against The Modern World now and its sending me down quite a rabbit hole.

2:55 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


A lot of these people were Fascists, as it turns out...


4:01 PM  
Anonymous al- Qa'bong said...

Hello Wafers:

It's just you, Salam.

Sorry for the ambiguity Vince, but I meant that people who land on Ellis Island running would be heading west (let's assume bridges), so a right turn would send them north.

I have mixed feeling about this:


On the one hand, these ruggedly-individualistic yahoos will be infecting each other, which can only mean good things for the human gene pool. On the other hand, they will also be infecting non-yahoos.

The reports out of NYC are horrific. I read that the virus is killing a thousand people each day, and that the worst hit are among the poorest, who have jobs that put them in contact with the disease, and who lack decent health care. One of Dr. Alison's Scotch facts comes to mind:


4:24 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Check out pics of lockdown protesters on CNN today. *These are yr neighbors!* Just a hunch, but I'm guessing that the left-wing socialist Hedgean uprising against our corporate masters may take a wee bit more time than we originally thought.

These pics are America, my friends. The horror, the horror!


4:41 PM  
Anonymous Pulse said...

In Trump's 'LIBERATE' tweets, extremists see a call to arms
Trump's tweets pushed many online extremist communities to speculate whether the president was advocating for armed conflict, an event they’ve termed “the boogaloo."


Trumpi's calling for a kind of proto secession

7:35 PM  
Anonymous Vince said...

@ al-Qa'bong,

No worries. I meant no disrespect to Canada or Canadians. It just that Dr. B. has indicated that there is not much difference between the U.S. and Canada. I have considered moving north many times.

Dr. Berman,

Unfortunately, some of those people that you saw on CNN could very well be my neighbors.

Here is a daily dose of George Carlin:



8:06 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


In terms of secession, geopolitics, and etc., one hasta wonder what all of this amounts to--if anything. Yes, it cd be 'proto', a dry run for something very significant. I suppose it depends on how organized these groups are, state by state. A possible scenario: while Hedges and (a few) other progs were talking abt a putative left-wing uprising, I kept saying that if there were any 'revolution' in America, it wd come from the rt. This was borne out in Nov. 2016. But Trumpi's rise to power might have been only Phase One of the process. Phase Two might be this 'proto' movement, culminating in Nov. 2020. Then Phase Three becomes obvious: Trumpola cancels the election of 2024, and installs himself as President-in-Perpetuity.

Hey, just thinking out loud.


9:25 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: re: those pics on CNN: what's really frightening is the degradation that one sees. But a # of zombie movie directors have added that what we are also seeing is zombification.

Americans in 2020:


Wafers are encouraged to add to this list.

9:42 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps2: more homework for Wafers: I have been trying to come up w/a reason as to why Schmiden shdn't have his shoes inundated, and I've not been able to. I ask Wafers to help me out here.

9:50 PM  
Anonymous Puddy said...

Biden might confuse the piss with rain.

10:05 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Hmm...gd pt. Is this *David* Puddy?


11:07 AM  
Blogger Mike Kelly said...



I don't know how best to say this, but it's not enough in America to be a decent citizen. We all are expected to be super-heroes all the time. They should issue capes as part of our official uniforms.



Homework assignment 2: I've got lots and lots of urinary product for Mr. Schmiden. Just give me a couple of craft beers or a big mug of coffee and I'll do the rest.

11:16 AM  
Anonymous Ellie said...

Largest study to date: Infectious diseases that can be acquired from other humans foster conformity and authoritarian attitudes.


"As COVID-19 becomes a global pandemic, it is imperative to consider the consequences of infectious diseases for citizens’ psychology and politics. Humans have evolved to avoid disease and infection, resulting in a set of psychological mechanisms that promote disease-avoidance, referred to as the behavioural immune system (BIS). One manifestation of the BIS is the cautious avoidance of unfamiliar, foreign, or potentially contaminating stimuli. Specifically, when disease infection risk is salient or prevalent, authoritarian attitudes can emerge that seek to avoid and reject foreign outgroups while favoring homogenous, familiar ingroups. In the largest study conducted on the topic to date (N>240,000), elevated regional levels of infectious pathogens were related to more authoritarian attitudes on three geographical levels: across US metropolitan regions, US states, and cross-culturally across 47 countries. The link between pathogen prevalence and authoritarian psychological dispositions predicted conservative voting behavior in the 2016 US Presidential Election as well as more authoritariangovernance andstate laws, in which one group of people imposes asymmetrical laws on others in a hierarchical structure. Furthermore, cross-cultural analysis illustrated that the relationship between infectious diseases and authoritarianism was pronounced for infectious diseases that can be acquired from other humans (nonzoonotic), and does not generalize to otherinfectious diseases that can only be acquired from non-human species (zoonotic diseases)."

11:32 AM  
Blogger The Wanderer said...

MB - I need a link to these cnn photos as in my mind, I see these protesters around the world as the deviants from the herd mentality of fear, panic and total submission.

The zombification looks world wide to me as we drank the kool-aid and about 1/2 the world's population locked ourselves up in our homes while we cough on anyone who suggests the cure may be worse than the non-quantified disease. The new global neoliberalism on steroids issues the propaganda via WHO and economic solutions via IMF/World Bank.

Our corporate masters are close to total control of us. We just need to get our Cootie-19 vaccinations so they can track us 24/7 (id2020.org)

11:40 AM  
Anonymous BH said...

Maybe Biden's shoes worn on that day were a gift from a by this time very old aunt and he is wearing them to make her feel good. Could To avoid hurting her feeling be a good enough reason not to pee on the shoes?

1:39 PM  
Anonymous Lulu said...

“It’s not Sweden that’s conducting a mass experiment. It’s everyone else.” https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/no-lockdown-please-w-re-swedish

It’s a question of liberty, not epidemiology

4:40 PM  
Anonymous Dina G. said...


Growth in surveillance may be hard to scale back after pandemic, experts say

“9/11 on steroids”

5:01 PM  
Anonymous Tom Servo said...

An interview with Anne Case and Angus Deaton on deaths of despair in America.


5:59 PM  
Anonymous Puddy said...

Gotta support the team

7:22 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...




7:58 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Hello Wafers:

You're all going to hell.



8:20 PM  
Anonymous Vince said...

Submitted for your approval:

Digitally Pacified.

Some Bill Hicks:



8:48 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

al, Vince-

Well done. I just wanted to furnish all of you w/new items for yr bathrm mirror post-its. For example, rt now mine says DEGRADED BUFFOONS. So when I wake up in the morning, and walk to the john, that's the 1st thing I see, and it reminds me of who my ex-neighbors are. Perhaps, next wk, I'll refresh, and post WEAPONIZED CLOWNS. Another possibility is MONETIZED DOUCHE BAGS. Etc.


10:25 PM  
Anonymous Birney Zouave said...

Dr. B-

Here's a photo of the lock-down protest in Ohio-


10:41 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


A gd portrait of the American people, I'm thinking. Meanwhile, Trumpi is now threatening China. He's really a declinist's dream: violent and stupid. I tell you, if he's not reelected in Nov., I'm gonna cry my eyes out.


11:02 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


This from the NYT, on the virus:

"But out of this crisis there’s a chance to build a better nation."

Yeah, that's gonna happen. What nation are they talking abt? Honestly, when I think of how many hi-IQ idiots need to be slapped silly, I hafta lie down from exhaustion. There seems to be no upper limit to the stupidity of folks like the NYT editorial staff. Two words that progs cannot get thru their thick skulls: "It's over."


12:35 AM  
Anonymous Malleus Maleficarum said...

Dear Dr Berman, I really don't think you need to worry for a second that Trump might not get re-elected. The progs keep on getting more stupid and clueless by the day (and that seemed impossible). For example:


The WHO decision sparked a fierce backlash from G7 allies and the UN, who pointedly stressed the need for multilateral solidarity.

These brain-dead progs keep on repeating the talking points of the 90s like parrots. The US population doesn't give a rat's ass about "multilateral solidarity."

Trump plans to use this crude anti-China narrative to bash Democrat presidential rival, Joe Biden. It has already started. A Trump online ad released this month claims “Biden stands up for China while China cripples America”.

Yep, Trumpo is going to mop the floor with Biden's capilar implants. He doesn't need to postpone or cancel the election.

9:59 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Fingers crossed!


11:25 AM  
Anonymous Braverman said...

Or as I call her, White Oprah...

How did Ellen become one of the biggest villains of 2020?
Arwa Mahdawi

Recently, and not for the first time, the comedian’s public persona has appeared to be at odds with her private actions


2:36 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Anyone who can tout 'being kind' to a war criminal like Bush is a douche baguette of the 1st order. Actually, an awful human being. So naturally, Americans love her.


3:07 PM  
Anonymous Jaco said...

My take on schmernie is that he was unwilling to show that Biden is both corrupt and inept and not only that this was what cost him the election, but it revealed a similar weakness in himself by then endorsing Biden.

if Bernie woudnt stand up for himself, why would he stand up for us?

3:23 PM  
Anonymous Puddy said...



Norm Macdonald on living in the age of COVID-19:


4:06 PM  
Anonymous Guilherme Souza said...

Great NRO poece 'on how the west has little moral or ethical standing to mock & criticize China's wet markets given how disease-ridden & morally atrocious are factory farms and animal agriculture in the US: being revulsed by factor farms is trans-ideological':


4:14 PM  
Anonymous Tomaz said...

In the current pandemic crisis, thinkers like Aristotle, Kant and Mill can help us think more clearly about the moral dilemmas we face, writes philosopher Rebecca Goldstein. https://www.wsj.com/articles/what-would-aristotle-do-in-a-pandemic-11587048934

4:33 PM  
Anonymous Alexander said...

I backpacked the N&S islands for a couple months when I graduated college, seriously considering moving there

--Jacinda Ardern’s leadership style, focused on empathy, isn’t just resonating with her people; it’s putting the country on track for success against the coronavirus--


5:58 PM  
Blogger alex carter said...

Fat Orange as agent of disaster/change:


Even found someone on Reddit explaining that Tubby's historical function is to destroy the US; count that as spotting a WAFer in the wile, I guess.

6:29 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Hmm! Perhaps Trumpi is a Wafer! Or at least a part-declinist. As for reddit: pls give us the link.


7:02 PM  
Anonymous belanna000 said...

New publication from SciReports.

"Mindfulness meditation reduces anxiety, depression, and stress, and it improves emotional regulation. But does mindfulness meditation alter pro-social behavior and make us nicer?"

Mindfulness meditation promotes altruism


9:11 PM  
Anonymous Needapassport said...


This article just provides further proof that the revolution is gonna come from the right rather than the left, as they try to do backflips to justify how Biden is a good pick to beat Trump.

6:49 AM  
Blogger Mister Roboto said...

I guess it's just par for the course at this point that the DNC responded to the challenge of ousting a dementia-addled nincompoop from the presidency by forcing another even more dementia-addled nincompoop into the nomination for that office. I'm inclined to think that everybody in the establishment knows in their heart that America was just a big mistake, so now they're just trying to expedite its demise so that we may be done with it once and for all.

9:16 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


If only!


9:35 AM  
Anonymous Jack Pirata said...

White House economic advisor Stephen Moore says Americans protesting stay-at-home orders are “modern-day Rosa Parks.”

“I call these people the modern-day Rosa Parks — they are protesting against injustice and a loss of liberties.”

So desperate to wear the mantle of being oppressed without ever enduring oppression...So much for the Trump administration being Nietzschean...

9:54 AM  
Anonymous Jade said...

There was a commenter who related his grandson's run-in with a bitter classmate & lamented the resentfulness of American women in general. I second that observation; Womenn here are not easy to befriend. That whole society has gone downhill since the 1st time I went there in '75. Back then it was quite remarkable. My last visit was in 2017. There was an air of hostility & most places were half-dead. I even happened across a discarded needle. Don't know what happened. My comparison would probably be that of a bodybuilder who was once in shape and has now let himself go.

2:35 PM  
Blogger Sarasvati said...

Regarding Ellen D. I had a disagreement with a friend about Ellen cozying up to Shrub. I said that she should have at least employed the old British social tactic for expressing extreme disapproval, the Cut Direct, whereby a person pretends they didn't see someone when they clearly did. Basically you completely ignore them to their face. Her reaction: You can’t make a scene like that. And this is someone who hated Bush and hates Trump. There really is no hope for the American people.

Jade, another friend of mine, one of the nicest people I know, lost his wife over two years ago. He just turned 57 and has started dating. After a number of false starts, he finally found someone he likes. Anyway, she’s a big-time Trump fan, and when he asked if she wasn’t disturbed by, among other things, Trump’s cheating and womanizing, she said, “no, all men are pigs.” He told me he called her on it, and I bit my tongue and didn’t tell him he should run in the other direction as fast as he could. He's pretty aware so I trust he'll figure this out sooner rather than later. In the meantime hope to be able to subtly nudge him that direction.

6:51 PM  
Anonymous Tammy said...

We Are Living in a Failed State

The coronavirus didn’t break America. It revealed what was already broken.


7:33 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Film rec: "The Banker". I loved this.

9:56 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers!

I'm here w/a public service announcement:

The spread of Covid-19 in America is based on two factors:

1. How dense the population is.

2. How dense the population is.


10:30 PM  
Blogger Joe McIlnen said...

Jade and Sarasvati,
This song more or less sums it up about women in America.

Dr. Berman,
This piece is an excellent example of the disintegration of the Unites States. It also is right on target with a lot of what you say in your book trilogy.

12:10 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Post only once every 24 hrs, max. Thank you.


1:22 AM  
Anonymous Orion said...

A spectre is haunting the West – the spectre of authoritarian capitalism

12:47 PM  
Anonymous Pat Chouli said...

Thank you ‘Reader in Dubai’ for those 2 links. Really good. It called my attention to David Masciotra, a writer who’s sustained a 7yr engagement w/ MB’s work. I’m reading some of DM’s other work around the web. IMO, he’s an attentive, careful, & scrupulous person whose writing style is unobtrusive. And that’s in marked contrast w/ a virtuoso stylist like, let’s say, George Packer (since he was just linked to above). And when we compare DM to other useful exponents of MB’s work, like Paul Christensen and George Scialabba. The latter 2 writers, IMO, give us those instantaneous flashes of perception, lit by a poetic fire. And Yes!, toward their remarkable insights, I nod in agreement. Meanwhile, DM’s workmanlike prose does the heavy lifting for us, but in an almost nondescript manner or style. And without pretense, condescension, or w/o engaging in the hagiographic. However, I do have some other concerns w/ DM’s writings that I’ll save for later. I’m over my 1/2 pg, and I apologize when this strays from the subject of this blog, the collapse of the American empire.

2:03 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Another film rec: "Money Monster".

3:20 PM  
Anonymous Anjin-san said...

Caitlin Johnson just wrote a poem about Ellen DeGeneres. Great title. Not the greatest poem but not the worst either. Given the recent interest in the blog I thought I'd post a link to it.


4:23 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Well, there's a reason that she's so popular among Americans: she reflects their values.


12:10 AM  
Anonymous Malleus Maleficarum said...

Here's Chomsky doing his lesser-evilism thing again of endorsing Schmiden after Botoxface:


And to think I once admired Noam... but this is revolting. Is he senile? It's like being molested by your step-father and going to your grandpa to tell him you're going to get violated again and grandpa telling you to get some lube. Apologies if the language is too crude but it doesn't even begin to express my disappointment with Chomsky.

5:09 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I guess I feel the same. Dick Gregory once said, "If we keep choosing the lesser of two evils, how come things are always getting worse?" This reconfirms what I've said, that in America even the smart ones are dumb. We've learned over and over again that this strategy doesn't work, and yet we keep doing it--the definition of insanity. Noam, Bubbele: *It's over!*


9:24 AM  
Blogger Ordinary Indian said...

@Reader in Dubai, Thanks for the links.

Back here after a long time. Read this interesting piece by Paul Mason: https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/coronavirus-signal-capitalism-200330092216678.html

It may be a bit premature to expect that covid will see the demise of capitalism. But for sure capitalism is in a serious crisis. It was already in a crisis, covid has definitely made that worse. However, whether that leads to the masses demanding their fair share, and hence digging capitalism's grave is too far into the future. An interesting read nevertheless. Whichever way things evolve, we are in for a long and deep trouble.

10:05 AM  
Blogger Nathan said...

Now people are protesting with signs that say "sacrifice the weak" .... So some Midwestern moms can get their roots dyed. True colors indeed

11:13 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Can ya give us a link?


11:25 AM  
Anonymous Anjin-san said...

Speaking of reflecting American values here is an insightful Wafer essay by Edward Curtin from a month ago.

"The rats are dying in the streets. They are our rats, diseased by us. They have emerged from the underworld of a nation plagued by its denial. Unconscious evil bubbles up. We are an infected people. Worry and irritation – “these are not feelings with which to confront plague.” But we don’t seem ashamed of our complicity in our government’s crimes around the world. For decades we have elected leaders who have killed millions, while business went on as usual. The killing didn’t touch us. As Camus said, “We fornicated and read the papers.”


1:54 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Check out a play by Wally Shawn called "The Fever."


3:17 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


You sure got that wrong, but then you know nothing abt our exchange. Not Verdadero; Pendejo, more like it. Or Pavo, perhaps. Vacio, even better.


8:35 PM  
Blogger Dan Daniel said...

If you ever have a moment of confusion about Trump losing the upcoming election, take a look at this ad the Trump people put together using Pelosi-


6:02 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dan D-

Many thanks. *What* a douche baguette!


7:58 AM  
Blogger Nathan said...


Sacrifice the weak

Or this photo

10:40 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


The true face of America; what we are all abt.


11:07 AM  
Anonymous Eliot Gardiner said...


My sequestered reading has been a book by the philosopher Elizabeth Anderson, quite the writer!

11:21 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: Nathan: this confirms what I've been saying abt elites vs. man-in-street: If the 1% are rapacious scumbags, how different, really, are the 99%? It's all The American Way of Life (hustle, step on other people, kill if you have to).


11:26 AM  
Anonymous Birney Zouave said...

Dr. B-

Slavoj Žižek's new book on the pandemic-


5:21 PM  
Anonymous Hawken said...

'In a truly free society, economic rights must be considered human rights.' Bernie Sanders (Schmernie) in his Twitter handle yesterday

Nothing he says really even means anything

5:45 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Actually, he's rt; the problem is that he's so full of shit it makes one dizzy just to think abt it. Schmernism must be stopped! I envision Wafers standing outside his house w/signs that say SCHMERNIE IS A TOTAL DOUCHE BAG.


5:51 PM  
Blogger The Wanderer said...

Morris Berman said...Film rec: "The Banker". I loved this. Muchas gracias!

I find I can no longer focus on "America" and Americans and their silly elections or celebrities. Over 1/2 our planet is locked up in their homes, our airports and ability to travel are shut down, there's an air of mass hysteria as we become more afraid of everyone else who might infect us and we seem to have declared a War on Viruses or Death.

I remain amazed at how effective the TV and Corporate propaganda is and how readily we humans give up our freedoms and are begging the global corporations to save us with a vaccine that can implant 24/7 surveillance in our bodies and adjust our dna.

Dr. Berman...I think what was wrong with Americans has infected the planet. Is this beyond the scope of Waferism or is it time we go global?

7:44 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I don't really know, altho I suspect that anything involving Bill Gates would have a negative impact on the world. As for films: try "Big Eyes".


9:01 PM  
Blogger Nathan said...

Sure is

10:50 AM  

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