• Dinner with Morris Berman

    August 30, 2014

    Tags: ,
    Posted in: Democracy

    They say never meet your heroes to avoid disappointment, and what with the various restraining orders and security, I have not met many of mine (maybe next year Miley?)

    I did have dinner with Dr. Morris Berman, and that made up for a lot of missed opportunities elsewhere. Dr. Berman, for those who don’t know, runs the blog Dark Ages America. Berman (pictured, left, perhaps not the best photo either of us has ever taken, but then again, the raw material is what it is) also wrote three books that to me are crucial to understanding the changes in America over the past couple of decades: The Twilight of American Culture, Dark Ages America: The Final Phase of Empire and Why America Failed: The Roots of Imperial Decline.

    The titles tell the tale, and Berman’s blog is equally dark and straightforward. I’ve written more about Berman’s work here.

    Dr. Berman gave a talk at Washington and Lee University in Virginia on post-9/11 America. As you might imagine, his survey, and, more significantly, his predictions, were of great concern.

    Central was the notion that Americans have become enveloped in their own myth, what some call “American Exceptionalism,” to the point where critical thinking, reflection and debate are no longer possible among us. Anyone who tries to engage on America thoughtfully is either ignored, shunned or dismissed as a traitor (it is thus not surprising that under the Obama Administration whistleblowers are punished with the Espionage Act.) Replacing reflection in America is cheerleading, the endless pronouncements of who is Number One (as if anyone was asking outside our borders) and of course the citing of our exceptionalism as justification for everything from the destruction of the Native Americans to plans for the bombing of Syria.

    Our present days are defined, according to Berman, by endless war and the completion of our police state. Is it not odd that the only country anyone can claim that won WWII has somehow seen fit to engage in continuous conflict ever since? Following a very brief respite between the Cold War ending and the convenience of 9/11 kicking off the Global War on Terror, America has now firmly set itself on course for endless war. The elements are all in place, primarily an enemy defined more by a tactic (“terrorism”) than anything else. Such an “enemy” can never really be defeated, and that indeed is the point.

    The police state in America, always bubbling below the surface, with zit-like bursts during the J. Edgar Hoover years and the 1968 Chicago police brutality, now is in place. Cops regularly exercise “frontier justice” on our streets, gunning down the guilty and the innocent alike in what the media rushes to call righteous shoots. Police departments across the U.S. are equipped with the weapons of war, everything from armored vehicles in suburbia to drones soon everywhere. Things like “stop and frisk” in New York City criminalize everyone, with particular attention to race.

    But worst of all is the realization that the power of government, spurred by surveillance tech undreamed of by the SS and the Stasi, has grown in power such that Americans can be denied jobs, travel and life itself based on their names being put by anonymous officials on secret lists. Indeed, the president can now indefinitely imprison Americans with the stroke of a pen, or choose to simply have them killed as they stand at the push of a Predator drone button. Imagine such power in the hands of a terrorist, then look out the window and realize it’s us.

    Overlaying all this is of course our society and economy’s descent into what Berman calls Neo Feudalism. A very few rich control everything, served by a class of workers kept dangling just over starvation, with the mass of poor available in the wings to replenish the ranks should those workers complain or demand food and lives.

    America as anyone might recognize it based on the previous definition, will simply devolve out of existence.

    Now that was a hell of a lecture. We had a great dinner afterwards. I shall also note that Dr. Berman outdrank me two-to-one while still telling better jokes.



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  • Recent Comments

    • Human Relations 1932 said...

      1

      Berman tells it like it is, as do you. I’m grateful both of you are around. Many, many thanks.

      08/30/14 4:46 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...

      2

      OH MY GOD.

      08/31/14 12:13 AM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...

      3

      Really?

      08/31/14 12:15 AM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...

      4

      Dr. Morris Berman?

      08/31/14 12:15 AM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...

      5

      Holy mother of blog connections.

      08/31/14 12:16 AM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...

      6

      Well, did he give you a Wafer button?

      08/31/14 12:18 AM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...

      7

      “Overlaying all this is of course our society and economy’s descent into what Berman calls Neo Feudalism. A very few rich control everything, served by a class of workers kept dangling just over starvation, with the mass of poor available in the wings to replenish the ranks should those workers complain or demand food and lives.”

      Yeah, but the French oligarchy never saw it coming either. The difference here is..guns. 300 million of them. And the collectivists know it.

      08/31/14 8:28 AM | Comment Link

    • Stephen said...

      8

      By any chance, was this talk recorded and is there a link? I’ve always enjoyed Dr. Berman’s talks that I’ve seen online.

      08/31/14 6:12 PM | Comment Link

    • wemeantwell said...

      9

      I’m not aware of a recording; you might check the university web site. Everything he says is so spot-on I kept nodding and agreeing and murmuring “I wish I wrote that.”

      08/31/14 7:08 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      10

      “Central was the notion that Americans have become enveloped in their own myth, what some call “American Exceptionalism,” to the point where critical thinking, reflection and debate are no longer possible among us.”

      Translate the sign of the TIMES: Suppress all the news that was once fit to print. It works – even ISIS PR copies US “no torture” photo tactics:

      “The Al-Qaeda splinter group ISIS has issued a directive banning the unauthorized publication of “images of slaughter” conducted by the group’s “soldiers” on various fronts, according to a copy of the orders circulating on social media. The directive says that the group’s upper leadership must give explicit permission before the publication of such images, which have generated international revulsion in recent weeks, following the widely seen photos and videos of ISIS’s victims in Syria and Iraq. The order specifies that the material should not be relayed via “official” ISIS media or personal social media forums.”

      Crazy like FOX

      09/1/14 4:02 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...

      11

      “Central(to our success) was the notion that Americans have become enveloped in their own myth, what some call “American Exceptionalism,” to the point where critical thinking, reflection and debate are no longer possible among us.” said the current Director of the CIA, Allen Dulles to the assembled National Security Council Special Group or Forty Committee, while celebrating “mission accomplished”, whereby he added, “thanks to that dolt Truman. He didn’t even know while I was playing yes man, I was also writing speeches for his presidential opponent at the same time.”

      National Security Council Special Group or Forty Committee:

      quote” Since those days the Special Group or Forty Committee has become a power unto itself. The State Department has thousands of career people who are responsible for the Foreign Policy of the United States to the Forty Committee’s five men. They approve items that have much greater impact on world events than the State Department. They do this secretly, without proper review, without comprehensive experience and often without anyone but a very few “spooks” knowing about it.

      NSC 5412, “National Security Council Directive on Covert Operations,” which continued to be the U.S. Government’s basic directive on covert activities until the Nixon administration’s NSC 40 in 1970, began with this statement of purpose:

      http://www.ratical.org/ratville/JFK/40Comm.html

      There are so many links within that article alone, it took me 5 hours this morning just to cover them. However, there is one more, that vindicates Jim Garrison’s view the CIA and DOD ARE the governmment. By someone who knew a coup d’etat has taken place….

      http://www.prouty.org/garrison.html

      Astounding. The skeletons are coming out of the closet..one by one. Beginning with Edward Lansdale.

      http://spartacus-educational.com/COLDlansdale.htm

      Sorry for the side trip. I can’t help myself. This stuff needs to get out there.

      09/1/14 7:46 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      12

      http://bostonherald.com/news_opinion/us_politics/2014/09/biden_well_follow_terrorists_to_gates_of_hell

      Note to Joe: We’ve been on that road a hell of a long time.

      MB: “Our present days are defined, according to Berman, by endless war and the completion of our police state. Is it not odd that the only country anyone can claim that won WWII has somehow seen fit to engage in continuous conflict ever since?”

      09/3/14 8:00 PM | Comment Link

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