January 14, 2022

The Post-Collapse Scenario (Maybe)

Pankaj Mishra has a very insightful discussion of that famous book by Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth (1961), in the 6 December 2021 issue of the New Yorker. The book is the classic statement of anti-colonialism, and has been an inspiration to millions of the “Global South.” Fanon argued that the (European) bourgeois ideology of “equality and dignity was merely a cover for capitalist-imperialist rapacity” (quoting Mishra). I take this to be obviously true, and in Why America Failed I argue that our so-called democracy has largely been a cover for hustling, for consumerism, and for economic and technological expansion. The theme comes up again in my forthcoming book, Eminent Post-Victorians, which includes a chapter on Sir Isaiah Berlin. Berlin was the poster boy for liberalism, or “negative liberty,” by which he meant the freedom to do as you wished so long as it didn’t interfere with others (which he admitted it would). But what really emerges from a study of Berlin is that he always came down on the side of the status quo, in particular the British capitalist, and hierarchical, way of life. During the 1960s, he was extremely skeptical of decolonial liberation movements, and I’m guessing he detested Fanon’s essay. Still, his doubts were not completely off-base, and can be found in Fanon’s book as well.

Pankaj refers briefly to experiments conducted by elites in Asia and Africa, who “saw it as their duty to devise non-exploitative economic and social systems for their people.” My own version of this is what I have called “Dual Process,” discussed in the final essay of Are We There Yet?. Fanon was concerned that the dispossessed might adopt a “psychology dominated by an exaggerated sensibility, sensitivity, and susceptibility” (quoting Fanon). He coined the phrase “curse of independence”: the possibility that the newly liberated states might become a “receptacle for ethnic and tribal antagonisms, ultranationalism, chauvinism, and racism…[that the] new ruling classes in post-colonial nations would fail to devise a viable system of their own” (quoting Mishra). And so Fanon’s conclusion regarding decolonialization was ambiguous, even bleak; open-ended at best.

I have often said that I don’t have a crystal ball, and cannot predict how the future is going to play out. But one thing I am sure of is that the United States is finished, and that its collapse will come as a relief to much, if not most, of the planet. But “finished” can take many forms, and one possible scenario, discussed often on this blog, is secession: the breakup of America into various different sociopolitical entities. The hope I have is that some of these new regions will earnestly engage in Dual Process, the devising of non-exploitative economic and social systems. Who can say? But Fanon’s warnings about the “curse of independence” are quite relevant here. If these new regions and new experiments are infected by wokism, they are sure to fail. What if they are, in fact, dominated by the ethnic and tribal antagonisms (etc.) referred to by Mishra, or the psychology of exaggerated sensibility and sensitivity referred to by Fanon? For this is precisely what wokism is all about.

“Don’t fall in love with yourselves,” Zlavoj Zizek warned the excited youth of the Occupy Wall Street movement in its heyday. Which is exactly what they proceeded to do. Why? Because it is very hard for human beings to resist the temptation of proclaiming, “Look how wonderful I am.” Wokism, virtue-signaling, is a religion, and thus acts as psychological glue, providing the mind with (pseudo-)integrity. Dialogue with a woke is about as fruitful as dialogue with a bubba: once you’ve got The Truth, you are no longer capable of dialogue. Doris Lessing pegged this syndrome for communists in the 1930s, in The Golden Notebook, where she wrote that communism literally served to create a psychological existence for its adherents. If new secessionist sections of America are going to avoid the pitfalls referred to by Fanon and Mishra, they need to divest themselves of wokism from Day One. Don’t fall in love with yourselves, for fuck’s sake; just do what’s needed to be done, and be grateful for the opportunities offered you in the wake of the American collapse. If you are unable to, all you will wind up with is old wine in new bottles.

What are the chances? We are a nation of extreme individualists, all trying to show we are better than the next person. To Americans, other people are rivals, not potential friends or comrades. To put it bluntly, we are jerks, and the process of de-jerkifying ourselves, even if undertaken, will not be a smooth ride. Do you want to find yourself? Then—Buddhism 101 here—forget yourself. Hey, it’s worth a shot.



Anonymous Mormon Magic said...

I was just reading "American Religion" by Harold Bloom from the early 90s. Though his predictions of Mormon influence by 2020 were wrong (he assumed a higher growth rate than happened), he presented some interesting possibilities based on Joseph Smith's views on magic, kaballah, and gnosticism, much of which was shelved after his murder. I'm curious if you see Mormonism of some variety having a major influence on a post-collapse America.


3:43 PM  
Blogger Ajay Singh said...

Dear Dr. Berman: Many thanks for hitting the nail on our postcolonial heads, swollen with self-love. Your blog coincided with Robert Kaplan's oped in today's (print) Wall Street Journal, titled, "Russia, China and the Bid For Empire," echoing the well-worn establishment view that the drumbeat of imperialism today comes not from the West, whose "intellectuals can’t stop denouncing [it] for its legacy of imperialism," but from the East:


A close read of the jingoistic piece reveals that the two Eastern powers, illustrated ominously as octopuses grabbing pawns on a chessboard while Uncle Sam watches warily, are indeed a serious "threat" to U.S. superpowerdom. The U.S., Kaplan argues, has "no choice but to be a status quo power—i.e., it need not defeat or even seriously undermine these two revisionist empires, but it must firmly hold the line against their advance." Clearly, offense may have been the best defense during the Vietnam era, but it is now a recipe for disaster.

I also wanted to say a few words about Isaiah Berlin's status-quoism, but my comment might violate your half-page rule. Tomorrow, then.

7:41 PM  
Anonymous James Watrous said...

Dr. Bermam,

After reading your books on America I do think there is a good chance you're right, that the United States will collapse. I hope you're wrong, but only time will tell. That being said if, or more likely, when the United States collapses what will happen? Will we break up into various smaller countries. I live in California. California is bigger than many countries. Could California survive on its own as a country? I don't know. The fact we've had a severe drought for the last several years makes me wonder. Thankfully we've had a wet autumn this past season and I hope we get a wet winter. So far, it's been mostly dry. We've also had major wildfires because of the droughts and global warming. Would various states or sections of what is now the United States form their own countries? I don't know.

8:21 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Jus' fer fun, check out "Ecotopia," by Ernest Callenbach.


8:46 PM  
Blogger vsoguy said...

Good day Dr. Berman and Wafers,

Looks like there's not much hope for dual process in certain sections of Iowa. One has to marvel at this article about a rash of schoolkids that's popped up identifying as cats:


"We were at a tailgate and one of our friends that teaches said that they’re having a problem at our school because there are students that are identifying as cats,” she said. “And not only are they wearing ears, whiskers and meowing in class, they are demanding that there be litter boxes placed in the bathrooms. They’re demanding it so much that the parents are threatening to sue the school if they do not place litter boxes in the bathrooms."

It's hard to imagine, but probably true, that the worst of the dog days are still ahead..

9:02 PM  
Anonymous B. Louis said...

In my opinion, no album cover captured the essence of 'America' better than this:


A country irrevocably fucked from every possible angle.

9:11 PM  
Anonymous door said...

Dear Wafers;I read an essay by George Kennan in the 1990s that the U.S. was too big geography and should be broken up.His other points I don't remember.Thanks

9:36 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


A link wd be nice...


Time 4u 2 refresh yr post-it. May I suggest:



As for yr post-it, try



10:23 PM  
Anonymous Red Apples said...

James., MB.,

FYI there's a 40th anniversary edition of both Ecotopia and Ecotopia Emerging that is bound together in one volume that came out just last fall!


10:24 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Possibly relevant to my most recent post?:


"Last month the New York Post reported that Ms Cullors - a self-described Marxist - had bought a $1.4m luxury home in Topanga Canyon, near Malibu, and owned three other homes, including a custom ranch in Georgia."



10:36 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Cd u provide some links or reliable references for yr argument? This is not a space for people to just broadcast their opinions, which we don't find terribly impressive. Rather, we are big on evidence. Thank you.


3:07 AM  
Anonymous Cherith Cutestory said...

(1)Browsing reddit & found a top post, picture of a train that's been looted by thieves in LA. In the comments saw a comment chain started by someone saying: "I have been wondering for a while now if I'm actually witnessing the fall of the United States". This triggered a discussion, some are in denial and presented defenses of their arguments. Here are 2 for your amusement: Comment 1, Comment 2.
(2) Reading My Discovery of Islam by Muhammad Asad (formerly Leopold Weiss). He describes his journey when he traveled to Arabia as a journalist early in the 20th century. It's astoundingly entertaining and illuminating reading this account by a European Jew who lived among the desert beduins (even fluently learning Arabic), befriended King Abdulaziz (founder of today's Saudi Arabia), wrote a series of reports for a German magazine, all while being a contemporary of world war I and the Zionist campaign to settle in Palestine and displace the natives (he had a conversation with Chaim Weizmann about this too!). Unique vantage point, I know of no other person with this cultural background who experienced these events. In his traditional brilliance, Asad analyzes a puzzling question: why was (is?) Europe, despite freeing itself from the shackles of the Church, still carrying a visceral fear and hatred of Islam? Here's a passage from the book analyzing this.

3:50 AM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

If it’s not chicken sandwiches, it’s Wendy’s barbecue sauce:

An angry customer, irate at the unavailability of barbecue sauce at a Phoenix, AZ Wendy’s, walked up to the drive-through window and fired into the restaurant. Now in critical condition in a Phoenix hospital, Brian Durham Jr. had had nothing to do with the heated exchange that had arisen between a co-worker and the shooter; Durham was merely holding the customer’s change from the transaction.

In America, everybody has the potential to be an innocent bystander.


11:08 AM  
Blogger Gunnar said...

Well hell what good is a chicken sandwich w/o barbecue sauce? Fortunately the kid survived.


MB - cld a Russian invasion of Ukraine followed by an impotent response by an unpopular president be a Suez Moment for USA? I say a Suez confrontation b/c might not the same be said for Taiwan and/or Hong Kong?

11:33 AM  
Anonymous K-Dog said...

It seems wishful thinking to me. A mechanism to diffuse toxic individualism does not exist in America. A particular blend of resources and attitudes is needed to de-jerkify ourselves and that blend will not be found in collapse. Smooth ride no, more like a canoe in a hurricane.

Cooperation will come when squirrels evolve to be the new technical species. That should happen just before the sun goes red giant. Humanity is toast.

1:04 PM  
Blogger Joe McIlnen said...

Here’s a new and creative way for USAins to take out their anger after getting “unhinged”. Hijack and use a backhoe.


1:06 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


In the great tradition of Shaneka Torres. No BBQ sauce? I'd blow up the store! As for yr questions: everyone's playing brinkmanship at this pt. Outcome unclear. Who will blink?


I think I discuss Asad at some length in DAA.


1:25 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Cdn't run it (length rule).


3:08 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


3 questions facing America:

1. Is Kamala Harris in fact a douche baguette?
2. Do chicken sandwich suppositories increase intelligence? How crucial a factor is BBQ sauce?
3. What in the world is Tulsi doing at this critical juncture? Is it true that she will give the keynote address at the World Tulsi Convention to be held at Evergreen College?


5:39 PM  
Blogger Ajay Singh said...

Dr. Berman: On Isaiah Berlin’s status-quoism, a little-known example is his exchange with T.S. Eliot about a touchy sentence in TSE’s 1934 book, “After Strange Gods,” where he advocates a common religion as a key factor in maintaining social traditions than a homogenous population: “What is still more important is unity of religious background; and reasons of race and religion combine to make any large number of freethinking Jews undesirable.”

An endnote (#12) to Strange Gods in Volume 5 of “The Complete Prose of T.S. Eliot” says TSE clarified in 1940 that ‘By free-thinking Jews I mean Jews who have given up the practice and belief of their own religion ... . The Jewish religion … shorn of its traditional practices, observances and Messianism … tends to become a mild and colourless form of Unitarianism.’”

Further: “When Isaiah Berlin came across this sentence in 1951 and accosted him about it, TSE replied [in 1952] that ‘the sentence of which you complain (with justice) would never have appeared at all at that time, if I had been aware of
what was going to happen, indeed had already begun, in Germany . . . I still do not understand why the word ‘race’ occurs in the sentence, because my emphasis was on the adjective ‘freethinking.’”

Berlin didn’t demand an apology, even though TSE admitted his complaint was justified. In fact TSE never apologized for that sole fragment in his prose (his poems had a few) to stain his reputation as an antiSemite.

6:05 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


My new book contains a chapter on each, Berlin and Eliot, so I did run across that whole flap. Eliot was a fierce antisemite, to be sure; but man, he wrote some great poetry. However, I don't see that any of this has anything to do w/Berlin's political conservatism. Off-topic.


7:02 PM  
Anonymous Pastrami and Coleslaw said...

Apparently the new thing is to equate Schmiden with Carter:


Sorry, might be behind a paywall ... doesn't matter because the article isn't that great. It's more that it brought the comparison to our attention.

"The two men won the White House under similar circumstances. Carter beat incumbent Gerald Ford in 1976 as the un-Nixon, a moderate post-Watergate candidate of integrity and healing; Biden — though 25 years older than Carter was in 1976 — won against Donald Trump in 2020 with a campaign that struck the same themes. (A huge difference is that Ford immediately conceded after a closer election than 2020′s, and soon befriended Carter.) Both Carter and Biden inherited sour national moods: Carter faced a widespread sense of ennui and decline laced with fear; at least for now, Biden has it worse, with an angry and divided country exhausted by the pandemic and witnessing the Trump-dominated Republican Party’s assault on democracy. Under Carter, more than two-thirds of the nation thought we were on the wrong track; ditto for Biden today."

8:17 PM  
Anonymous Chuck Steak said...

One has to consider whether global warming will be the largest threat
to the continuation of US as we know it. It is hard to imagine that it
will prosper while the rest of the world's population perishes from all
its mistreatment of the planet.

A curious development is China, which was once a playground for many
imperialist countries, like US, England, Japan, Russia. Now they
employ the methods of their previous financial rulers:


11:46 PM  
Anonymous willy robinson said...

Great essay Dr. Berman, many thanks.

Disappointed in Berlin (a hero otherwise) that he got this question so very wrong (Self rule might tend to be awful for all the reasons he mentions, but imperialism is always always klepto. My opinion - no links to back it up), but doesn't it so often happen that questions of nationalism and identity seem to somehow bypass even the sharpest minds?

Happy new year to all Wafers.

7:20 AM  
Anonymous Dr. Shithouse said...

This. is. US. propaganda.


Such passion and indoctrination, maybe this lackey can help lead that farcical "rising up," "resisting," "revolution" against their masters/overlords.

12:04 PM  
Anonymous Emory said...

‘Travelers who were lost forever’: why tourists experience ‘India syndrome’ https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2022/jan/13/india-syndrome-lost-in-the-valley-of-death-harley-rustad

India is so mysterious!

12:13 PM  
Anonymous Cherith Cutestory said...

Stumbled on a comedian Wafers will love:

Rich People Can’t Preach ‘Togetherness’ – Drew Michael

12:27 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Hello Wafers:

Every day the CBC posts anti-Russian propaganda like this:


A few weeks ago they were posting similar stories about the Chinese threat. Orwell would be confused. We aren't at war with Eurasia, we aren't at war with Eastasia. We're at war with both Eurasia and Eastasia.

Caitlin Johnstone is in good form this weekend:

"The US government has substantiated these incendiary claims with the usual amount of evidence, by which I of course mean jack dick nothingballs."


12:52 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dr. Shit-

What the heck *is* Chris Hedges up to these days? Haven't heard a word from him in ages. Fomenting revolution? I think he may have given that up. Perhaps, shopping at Target (more likely Saks).


Check out E.M. Forster.


Whatever the gov't or the MSM puts out, the public will believe.


Rich people are trash. Period.


1:19 PM  
Blogger Joe McIlnen said...

And in our wacky Dysfunctional States of America, let’s end the week with some funny Karens.


p.s. Doctor, I finally saw “Unhinged”. I have to say the movie had a lot of errors in it; and in some parts it was downright unrealistic. But the first five minutes of it were right on the mark. The news clippings and commentaries about how so very angry and violent USAins are made me immediately think of what you have been saying all along. Perhaps the movie’s script writers attended one of your lectures or have read DAA.
And here is another violent road rage that happened in East Tulsa the other day. It was filmed by a mother and her 9 year old son. The kid’s comment probably is an accurate description/portent for literally anyone who lives in this miserable f*cked up country.
“Mom, call 911 before they shoot us too.” Yep. This kid certainly knows the score here.


1:32 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Some random musings:

1. Schmiden is probably washed up. The Dems will do zip between now and the Nov. election, at wh/pt they will get creamed. Check out various articles on CNN and elsewhere abt how this admin is tanking.

2. Things are on schedule for the World Tulsi Convention, to be held at Evergreen College on April 1st. Jack L. will give the opening speech, "Embracing Our Inner Tulsi: The Road to American Recovery." This will be followed by Tulsi's keynote address, "Basic Principles of Tulsism." She will then repair to the Evergreen gym and perform her workout sequence. Finally, in the concluding portion of her presentation, she will ram her head up her ass and roll around like a doughnut, urging Americans to follow her lead.

3. I need a vote here regarding Prince Andrew. Should he (a) be vigorously slapped; (b) have his shoes peed on by 174 Wafers; (c) be baked in a casserole dish; (d) all of the above?


1:44 PM  
Blogger Jack Lattemann said...

"Where's That Chris Hedges", composed to the Monkey House tune "Where's Mantis Evar":

Here I'm standing on the corner
Tragedy and Vine
A disgusted lone Wafer
Stumping for a sign
My phone just died
I haven't laughed til now
Hopin' for secession by tomorrow
Shoulda found an exit
But tried to prolong it
Now there's only one guy I know claims an answer

Where's that Chris Hedges?
He'd know what to say
He'd be strumming his repertoire
Living for revolt
Where's that Chris Hedges?
He'd know what to do
He'd be passing the petition
That's a joke now too

Where's that Chris Hedges?

2:58 PM  
Blogger Ajay Singh said...

Dear Dr. Berman: Since this blow started with Pankaj Mishra, Franz Fannon & the evil effects of (colonization &) decolonization, we all might want to sit up & take seriously a warning recently issued by Professor Gregory Stanton, founder-president of GenocideWatch, who evidently forewarned about the 1994 Rwandan genocide 5 years before it happened. Stanton is now holding up for India what appears to be a mirror from 28 years ago—he is predicting a genocide against Muslims in India, millions of whom have been living in tepid waters whose heat has been rising since a political nobody (like Hitler) presided over the massacre of a couple of thousand Muslims in 2002 & then went on to become the country's premier:


As for Prince Andrew, I think he should be vigorously peed on & exiled in India.

3:47 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Sorry, cdn't post it. This is not a place for people to broadcast their opinions. Opinions are like assholes; everyone's got one. So what? What we are interested in is evidence--proof, in the form of links or refs to reliable sources. If this is not what you care to do, we can only suggest that you find a blog where things like that don't matter. To stay on this blog, however, let me suggest the following format for your future posts:

1. You present an argument you have regarding the collapse of the American empire;
2. You provide evidence for your pt of view in the form of links or refs to reliable sources.

Thank you.




Where indeed. Something to be sung at the April 1st World Tulsi Conference.


6:29 PM  
Anonymous Glans Butterworth, III said...

Where's Mr. Hedges with all that rising up and resisting yammer? It's been crickets and tumbleweeds lately.

Chris, Chris you're our man, if you can't do it, no one can!


6:47 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

War criminal/piece of shit/dregs of humanity dept.:


7:13 PM  
Blogger Dan Daniel said...

Seeing Netanyahu's name in the news reminds me that we live in a world where Henry Kissinger is still alive and not in jail.

You can mock Hedges, but he is a midget among monsters compared to Kissinger. For some reason, this is never mentioned on his web site-


Then again... "The Fact That Henry Kissinger Is Still Alive Convinces Me That There Is No God"


7:56 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


O, we have talked abt Kissinger on this blog, more than once (along w/Obama, another war criminal who was awarded the Peace Prize). You just came late to the party, and are rather clueless. Here's the diff: Kissinger is scary and vomit-provoking, while Hedges is funny, and a tad pathetic. At this pt, however, there is very little to add abt either of them, really, if for different reasons.


8:34 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Well, in effect, you called the blog clueless, so what did u expect? Gd luck, amigo!


10:13 PM  
Anonymous B. Louis said...


Umair can be a bit 'one note' for me but he's written a really good one here.

I had the same experience as a child in America. Brutalized.

1:15 PM  
Anonymous Pete Christen said...

MB and Wafers:
Here's a hustle that might even surpass those of Pope Leo X:

Buyers are encouraged to act fast because "the rise in material cost alone has the potential to double the price of each bible in the future" and dark forces are trying "to stop this Bible from reaching the massive demand."

2:24 PM  
Blogger Ajay Singh said...

Dear Dr. Berman: My apologies for the "blow" typo. It was a first for me—never before has my left index finger intended to type "g", only to be countermanded by the ring finger landing on "w." I mean, that far left?!

2:51 PM  
Anonymous Mike R. said...

(corrected link)

Hedges, Shmedges, this is what USians care abt!


3:08 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Hedges is a rather slow learner, but it's possible that by now he too recognizes the core of American life: chicken sandwiches. Will he join Wafers in the suppository revolution, however?


I was jus' haven' fun...


5:13 PM  
Anonymous Luc said...

MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. SPENT THE LAST YEAR OF HIS LIFE DETESTED BY THE LIBERAL ESTABLISHMENTMartin Luther King Jr. was much more radical than he is often portrayed.


6:27 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Indeed. We've discussed that here several times in the past, but thanks. Meanwhile, in future: s'il vous plait, no block capitals. Merci.


8:29 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Here's a big surprise:


8:44 PM  

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