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Morris Berman and the Decline of America

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Posted on Feb 10, 2012
TVW

American cultural historian and social critic Morris Berman shared the findings in his new book “Why America Failed: The Roots of Imperial Decline” with an audience at Seattle’s Elliot Bay bookstore last fall. Like much of the tidings brought to us by the best of our sober-eyed critics, his forecast for the future of the republic and the welfare of its coming generations is not hopeful. —ARK

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moonraven's avatar

By moonraven, March 1, 2012 at 12:24 pm Link to this comment

Plurality is VERY important to me.

And to all the other billions of non-whites who live on this planet.

Don’t let the doorknob hit you in the ass.

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By cmontefu@live.com, March 1, 2012 at 11:48 am Link to this comment

moonraven Thank you for answering my post .It was rude and insulting as I thought it might be.you said nothing of any importance.Who you are seems very important to you but not me .You have said nothing of any value and your insults are boring.Have a nice day.

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By moonraven, February 29, 2012 at 12:44 pm Link to this comment

cmonte:

You are the one who is rude:  1.  You are not fluent in English yet you insist on posting comments on an English language site.  2.  You DEMAND that I answer your incoherent post point by point, when I have no such obligation.

I haven’t lived in Gringolandia for 20 years—and to tell the truth, as a Native American, I really do not care what happens to most of you gringos.

As for what country should take the place of the US as the Global Bully:  NONE.  I believe in plurality.

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By cmontefu@live.com, February 28, 2012 at 5:08 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

moonraven I tried this site to see if their was a debate looking for answers to our problems.I see as on most other sites rude incoherent rants from one or more of the others on the site that side track any attempt at civil debate.I find it hard to believe that this is the case even on the whitehouse face book page and the tea party site as well as others crazy hateful nonsence is the norm.We as a society are done if this is the only way people can speak to each other .I will not waste my time trying to change such a person as yourself you are done.I feel sorry for those lost souls who are so full of loathing and hopelessness.

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By heterochromatic, February 28, 2012 at 3:05 pm Link to this comment

you’re a big sucker, chica.

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By moonraven, February 28, 2012 at 2:55 pm Link to this comment

Hardly chiquita at 5 feet ten and 175 pounds.

You people believe in voting—which is only for suckers.  That has been amply demonstrated ad nauseum on this silly site.

That’s plenty of proof for me.

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By heterochromatic, February 28, 2012 at 2:50 pm Link to this comment

no moonie, yours was the infantile comment, mine was the infantile response.


you’ve not demonstrated anything that entitles you to dismiss everybody else as
professional suckers, chiquita.

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By cmontefu@live.com, February 28, 2012 at 2:39 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

moonraven saying nothing and being rude has not gotten anything done in this country for decades .You must be very happy with that.What can you answer that wont be a glib remark that says nothing .Answer my post clearly with counter points like what other country do you think should take our place?

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By moonraven, February 28, 2012 at 2:38 pm Link to this comment

Hettie:  Infantile comment.

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By heterochromatic, February 28, 2012 at 2:34 pm Link to this comment

moonie—- what do you mean about professional suckers?  did you earn your
living by sucking things?

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By moonraven, February 28, 2012 at 2:27 pm Link to this comment

I don’t do videos either.

You may not remember your posting nbame, but you are not a professional sucker, like 99% of the folks posting here.

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By moonraven, February 28, 2012 at 2:23 pm Link to this comment

cmont:

Your post is absolutely incoherent. 

Patriotism, pal, is the last refuge of scoundrels.

Give me a break.

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By heterochromatic, February 27, 2012 at 8:35 pm Link to this comment

Sorry——FYI you’re not supposed to bite videos, you’re supposed to listen to
them.

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By I don't remember my login information, February 27, 2012 at 5:17 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Sorry about the memory lapse.

In general, when I see a video posted with no transcript, these days I simply move on.

This is becoming an illiterate society, and I’m just not going to bite any more.

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By cmontefu@live.com, February 27, 2012 at 2:49 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Moon raven Well what is your point I did not buy McCarthy or his scare tactics .Patriotic pap what is that clear thinking please .what I posted was and is fact and reality is what I deal in not agenda driven opinion.America is a work in progress we have come far but their are mistakes we repeat driven by fear and the same lies by people in power who are driven by their agenda and money.Read my other post people from all over the world in other countries are committing crimes against humanity right now what do you have to say about them.The last go round Pres.Clinton stepped in to stop slaughter in eastern Europe what other country was ready to do that before we lead the way to save innocent lives .What other power do you want to take our place ?

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By moonraven, February 27, 2012 at 11:46 am Link to this comment

I was a kid when McCarthyism was at its height, but I didn’t buy it.

You bought the patriotic pap and now you are sniffling at reality.

Pogo said that when I was 10 years old.  I knew it was orrect then.  What took you so long?

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By cmontefu@live .com, February 26, 2012 at 7:52 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Heterochromatic a direct result of John Kennedy to compete with Russia to get to the moon .No small feat by any standard. Kennedy did not want Russia a communist country that killed 11 million of its own people by Stalin its war time leader to surpass our country a free constitutional republic.One who just helped defeat 3 crazy dictators who would enslave the world.Also 30 years of the best economy of any country which raised the largest middle class any country up till that time.Not to mention Cuba The almost end of the world by putting Russian missiles in striking distance of new york.Kruschev thought he could bully Kennedy he was wrong Kennedy was great in the time he had to be and Kruschev folded we took out our missiles from turkey they from Cuba.Your dam right a Communist scare almost the end of the world by human hands I was a kid but can remember how close we came.

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By heterochromatic, February 26, 2012 at 5:33 pm Link to this comment

our trips to the moon were a direct result of “the communist scare”

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By cmontefu@live.com, February 26, 2012 at 8:22 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

America has failed before. the civil war was our end maybe but no. then the great immigrations of the turn of the last century 1900 we were going to lose our identity as a country groups sprang up to stop the change including the clan all the same hysteria that we have now including the crash on wall street and the war .but then the 40s thru the 60s we were going places and to the moon and with the most affluent middle class ever .we have been here before and came out of it .And most likely will again.This has if you know history happened before the religious right the communist scare the anti new deal group .All fear based ideas to put us in a panic .Until one congressman said to McCarthy” sir do you have no shame” he ran over all kinds of people accusing them of being communist.Now its Islam fanatics the great demons to our way of life as if its so frail and weak it could be destroyed by them.When in fact it is destroyed by us and our over reacting to them.Pogo I have seen the enemy and it is us.

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By moonraven, February 13, 2012 at 12:34 pm Link to this comment

Gerard,

The bottom line is very simple.

Leave off the drama and the angst.

Just listen to the sound of FLUSHING and get on to your next lifetime.

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By heterochromatic, February 12, 2012 at 4:30 pm Link to this comment

gerard—- the statement was about our collective share of the world’s wealth. 

you certainly can do, and have nicely done, a job of looking deeper ....but I meant
it to be just as shallow an observation as it is….... our nation is still richer beyond
merit even as our share of the world’s wealth has been pissed away in a chunk in
recent years.

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By gerard, February 12, 2012 at 4:14 pm Link to this comment

Interesting to look a little deeper into that earlier statement “We’re not suffering
as a nation.”
  What does “as a nation” mean, exactly?  Compared to other nations like
Bangladesh or Kenya?  Or compared to Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Japan,
Australia:  Or Greece?
  And what does “suffering” mean?  Financial?  Spiritual? Social?
  How much—and how much of what—have we lost by fighting merciless, all-
consuming wars in Asia and in the Middle East that have cost us trillions in
losses?
  How much “moral face” have we lost in reputation internationally?
  And how much do other nations suffer when we default and they depend upon
our economic stability? How much do they lose when our civil rights are curtailed
and we start jailing protesters here instead of allowing their opinions to “get an
ear” with their government and with fellow-citizens.  How much does
“surveillance” cost us not just in dollars but in self-respect and mutual trust?
  I could go on and on.  It’s a deep-rooted question about a deep-rooted deca-
dence we have on our hands here and now.  Not to see it is a kind of blindness,
deliberate or otherwise.

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By moonraven, February 12, 2012 at 11:19 am Link to this comment

NABNYC:

Clearly you have never been to Mexico.  Great opportunities?  You are kidding, right?

When I left Diddlysquatsville USA twenty years ago I loaded a computer and a few clothes and some books into a 1965 VW Beetle (easily reparable in Mexico) and headed south to write about the role of Zapata in the Mexican Revolution of 1910.

My opportunities to bankroll that project were so fabulous your mouth would water:  teaching whatever at a couple bucks an hour or directing a school at also a few bucks an hour)!

Nevertheless, I managed to upgrade that just a little, branch out into some lowpaid consulting work that took me to South America and the Middle East and GUESS WHAT:  I actually managed to save thousands of dollars when I was never able to do so in the USA!

Folks do not come to Mexico for the brilliant financial opportunties, however—it’s a country with 75% poverty and 50% informal employment (for those actually working). 

PS:  Informal sector jobs are really fabulous:  If you like selling pirated dvds on the street corner.
For a step up from that, try 8 hours coking in a restaurant on weekends (busy busy busy) for 10 dollars a DAY, cash in hand.  My 17-year-old adopted nephew just quit that job to devote more time to his studies—maybe you’d like him to recommend you?

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By heterochromatic, February 12, 2012 at 10:15 am Link to this comment

freeze____and perhaps the “sample” you’re working from is not representative.
mebbe them’s the knuckleheads who have been duped into tossing away their
money and attempting to love in an advertisement world

the houses they lose, and the lands on which they’re sited, represent real assets
and those things remain valuable (the value now depressed but not so forever).
even tough your clients no longer own them, somebody else will.

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By mrfreeze, February 12, 2012 at 9:17 am Link to this comment

grokker - Hetero and a few of the other knuckle-heads here on TD subscribe to the worn-out notion that America is rich because or GDP is large and that people are out there buying stuff. But you hit the nail on the proverbial head.

I mentioned this on the other recent post about the HAMP program that I happen to work with families who are facing foreclosure and other financial problems. Here’s a good statistic you can use at your next get-together:

The average client I work with is on the verge of losing his/her home, has $40,000 in unsecured debt (many have more) and they usually have a small mountain of other debt. They are all underwater in their mortgages, someone has been out of work for a long time or has just lost a job. 50% are generally good money managers who have simply succumb to our (wealthy) economy and the other 50% are “living the American Dream,” of (fake) wealth and prosperity…...that is, they are all going bankrupt because they can’t stop spending. Add to this the fact that all of their 401K’s have either been tapped out (to pay for their living expenses) or are worth far less than they were several years ago.

Sometimes it helps to hear know a few facts before making general statements about things.

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By grokker, February 12, 2012 at 5:11 am Link to this comment

The “wealth” spoken of by Hetero is an illusion, a house of cards based on nothing but debt and dubious entries on balance sheets devised by equally dubious economists. Americans seem to still be able to go to the mall and buy gadgets, but look at the credit card balances of the average American. When the U.S. dollar is no longer the main currency you will see the shit hit the fan here and it is going to happen. Part of the U.S. beef with Iran is because it is threatening to move away from the dollar as an oil currency and other countries will follow suit. When Wall Street is finally made to account for hundreds of trillions in toxic derivatives, you’ll see a crash like never before. Wealth for this nation should be considered as far more than what is on some balance sheet. What do we have to give to our progeny? That is a true measure of wealth, and from this perspective it doesn’t look like much.

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By mrfreeze, February 11, 2012 at 9:51 pm Link to this comment

heterochromatic - The books are cooked. What flavor of Koo-laid do you prefer?

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By buboeboy, February 11, 2012 at 6:59 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The Germans aspired to being the master race. Americans truly believe they
are. He’s correct in claiming that the American psyche is incapable of
implementing the effort necessary to effect a radical, thorough and lasting
change. Anyone’s would, really. This land possessed more natural resources
than anyone in the human history of the planet had ever previously
encountered. The human beings who invaded from Europe didn’t stand a
chance: They overindulged in the over-abundance and ultimately destroyed the
future for their progeny. There was nothing which had come before which they
could refer back to. Some instances in the ancient world were available for
reference, Sparta, Rome, but nowhere near the scale of resource availability,
acquisition and usage which ultimately found expression in North America
particularly. The psychological precedent and impact will never be equaled:
Unlimited abundance seemingly forever and the morality which developed to
accommodate the ongoing rape and pillage of nature and the indigenous
population is more vivid today simply because it continues steamrolling on
while resources dwindle to a shred of what they once were. It is conservatively
estimated that over twenty-five million Native Americans perished in the
creation of The United States of America. Genocide? Yes. Are most Americans
aware of its extent? No (with good and obvious reason) and now that our
domestic resources have been used up in accommodating our “Living Large”
lifestyle; we have taken to the exploration and expropriation of other nations’
resources. It admirably continues the legacies and traditions of The American
Way except that Mother Nature isn’t quite as co-operative as she once was to
our heavy handed application of our predatory and lethal capitalism. Sadly, it
will soon turn out to be the classic and always waiting terminal of “Every Man
For Himself!” because in all of our stunning achievements we forgot to seriously
address the most fundamental approaches to life threatening situations and
self-perpetuation - Mutual co-operation, mutual respect and mutual trust and
without these one had better hold on tight because it’s gonna be a wild ride!

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By heterochromatic, February 11, 2012 at 6:45 pm Link to this comment

freeze_____ long ago noted the concentration of
wealth.

long ago noted that wealth was concentrated here in
America far too much and that it would and should
have to spread

no party SHOULD last forever and as America assumed a
less exaggerated position, so must we insure that we
work to reverse some things here.

from the early 1930s federal income tax obligation
for the highest bracket was never less than 63% until
Reagan got it reduced from 70% to less than 40%.

conditions have changed

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By mrfreeze, February 11, 2012 at 6:07 pm Link to this comment

heterochromatic - “we’re not suffering as a nation”

What an interesting way to look at “us.” If you’ve been paying attention, you’d know that most of that wealth is owned by far fewer of “us.” It’s concentrating more and more in the hands of fewer interests.

Certainly, we are not materially “poor”.......for now….but I’m afraid heterochromatic, you are like so many Americans who think the party is going to last forever. We have simply not set ourselves up for future success. Telling yourself that we’re wealthy (“we?”) feels good, but we’ve picked all the low-hanging-fruit of this continent’s resources. The days of economic reckoning are coming.

We can only cook the books so much and pretend we have a viable economy for so long.

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By heterochromatic, February 11, 2012 at 5:57 pm Link to this comment

most don’t think that, but don’t seem to mind someone
else asserting it.

while you’ve got a good point that America is
slipping, we’re still not suffering as a nation.

Americans owed more than 50% of the world’s wealth
and we’ve dropped to less than 40%.....

http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/14/americas
-dominance-of-global-wealth-is-slipping/

all in all though, we are the 5%

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By mrfreeze, February 11, 2012 at 3:25 pm Link to this comment

I suppose everyone in the world thinks his/her country is “the greatest country in history.” Willard Romney, that empty shell of a man, recently used the line in his campaign. But here, in America we’ve become rather smug and unthinking in believing our own bullshit. We call it “the American Dream” or “American Exceptionalism.” Berman makes reference to “manifest destiny” the older more poetic version of the same concept. Ultimately, Americans are incredibly naive and narcissistic about who and what we are. We are so shallow and needy these days that there’s a national uproar about Clint Eastwood’s superbowl rah rah twaddle. We keep telling ourselves how wonderful we are and to think otherwise is sacrilege…even though people are constantly saying how much they “mistrust” the government…...never mind we are (supposed to be) the fucking government.

Here’s the truth: The world has changed. After the 2008 crash, there emerged a new econo-paradigm that will inevitably be the undoing of the U.S.. We no longer have a “country,” so much as we have a nation divided up into regional interests that are run not by citizens through representative government but by defacto chambers of commerce. No longer do we here the question “what’s good for the community.” It’s always “what’s good for the BUSINESS community.” And worse yet, the business community doesn’t even need us anymore. The whole shift will be selling to emerging markets because, after all, once Americans are all reduced to minimum-wage jobs there won’t be a market here to sell to.

Unless someone here on TD has some brilliant ideas on how we will start “creating things” again, our country will be more and more run by bean counters and financiers who don’t produce anything. The rest of us will be left to fend for ourselves….which I suppose is what everyone wants….right?

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By NABNYC, February 11, 2012 at 2:34 pm Link to this comment

I have great respect for Morris Berman, but do not agree that people should leave the U.S. to save themselves from some terrible fate that is inevitable if we remain.  Maybe yes, maybe no, but nobody knows.  People throughout history have predicted “the end” of some nation or society, sometimes on religious grounds, sometimes on political, but most such predictions are not borne out by history.  Sometimes they are, but even then, leaving the country does not seem like the best solution.  Of course everyone refers to the Jews of Europe, or maybe the native Americans of the U.S., but practically speaking, mass evacuation is never really an option for working people who have no money, no resources, no ability to support themselves in another country, perhaps not even the ability to obtain a work visa.

Further, I’ll bet Mr. Berman had great opportunities in Mexico—teaching, pursuing his interests in research and writing.  Your average unemployed factory worker, car maker, carpenter, teacher, attorney, has no similar opportunities available in other countries. 

So I share the fear of the future, am aware of the horrible trends, but I likely won’t leave.  We also have to remember that these things tend to come in waves.  Think of Mussolini hanging from the bridge, of Hitler’s people in the bunker biting down on poison capsules cowering in fear of those coming for them.  Wall Street, the multinational corporations and the politicians they own are having their moment as rulers of the earth, but I predict that very soon things will turn against them, and they will be stockpiling provisions in bunkers.  I’ll stick around to see the end and hope my side wins.

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By gerard, February 11, 2012 at 2:22 pm Link to this comment

Surfboy and Emile Z: Thanks for the encouragement.
Both your comments came as a great birthday present!

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By heterochromatic, February 11, 2012 at 11:31 am Link to this comment

from the Spanish-American War on down.

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By rumblingspire, February 11, 2012 at 11:26 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

thanks for the reminder Morris. 

“I’m freezing, i’m freezing, i’m icicle blue
(So low, low cool)
Cyber, neurotic, technicians imbue
I’ve been admitted to Refrigerator Heaven
Until they discover a cure for cancer, i’m low
Refrigerator Heaven
So low, Refrigerator Heaven

I’m ice packed, i’m hand-stashed, i’m waiting for you
I’m older and younger, preserved in a tomb
I’ve been admitted to Refrigerator Heaven
I feel like i told you, on my heart
I won’t get back until my sin sets down on the moon
I won’t get back until my sin sets down on the moon”

Alice Cooper - Refrigerator Heaven
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CAKH4BphIVw

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moonraven's avatar

By moonraven, February 11, 2012 at 10:54 am Link to this comment

Well, Gerard, until folks in the US start seeing reality, anyone who DOES should definitely leave.

I left twenty years ago.  Best life decision I ever made.

Morris Berman lives in a bubble of Gringolandia—San Miguel de Allende—however.  He needs to learn Spanish and get out and see the damage that the imposition of the gringo’s war on drugs has wreaked here in Mexico:  75,000 dead in 5 years.  not too many low-level wars can boast that total.

Gringos get the drugs, and the drug money to launder to save their banking system—and Mexico contributes the dead bodies—many without heads and boiled down to make pozole.

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By trog69, February 11, 2012 at 10:32 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I plumb forgot to mention my sincere appreciation for
TD for providing this book synopsis by Prof. Berman.
This is the type of journalism that is non-existent in
the US today. One more symptom of our “Americanism”.

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By Galen Flynn, February 11, 2012 at 10:31 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I have to admit I found the heavy pessimism in the video did resonate with me, but after coming back and reading the comments I think they touch upon some important weak points in the mentality of the speaker. Gerard mentions that not all of us can leave, I’d like to add there aren’t a lot of options for those of us who can. I understand the speaker has left for Mexico, which isn’t a country that provides the social services Americans want and European states have. European states do not have an immigration policy is open as the U.S., you are unlikely to be allowed to work there unless you hold a masters in a hard science field such as biology, chemistry, or physics. The prospect for getting citizenship or the right to work in any South American country is very dismal. The only place in the world with many opportunites for U.S. immigrants is East Asia, specifically China, although South Korea, Vietnam, and Japan hold opportunities for those who would like to teach english as a second language also. Giving up on democracy in the United States and moving to China to continue the struggle doesn’t make a lot of sense, see todays article on truthdig about the Chinese man arrested for distributing his poem online. That being said, there are some political arguements to be made for moving to China, they are doing more than any country to address Global Warming by maintaining their One Child policy, and don’t have the violent imperialist history of the U.S., if you want work and don’t mind forfeiting your role in the political process, its a decent pick, other than that, not a lot out there.

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By trog69, February 11, 2012 at 10:22 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Here’s my anecdotal for why Prof. Berman is absolutely
right, and those who stay in the US are doomed;
Wisconsin’s Gov. Walker, should his recall election be
held today, would win against any of the present
candidates, according to the most recent polls.

“Game over, man; game over!”

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EmileZ's avatar

By EmileZ, February 11, 2012 at 9:53 am Link to this comment

@ Gerard

It is important for me to say that I value your comments and I feel that they are often the best that are written on this site.

You are awesome. I don’t know how to put it any better than that.

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By balkas, February 11, 2012 at 8:57 am Link to this comment

“why america failed”? this description appears misleading. it is also vastly inaccurate and
inadequate.
the ONE PERCENT had never succeeded nor ever wanted to succeed in manner expected
by world’s and ‘american’ 99%.
actually, the ‘american’ ONE PERCENT, had succeeded beyond its wildest dreams as far as
world’s and ‘american’ ONE PERCENT’S end solution is concerned.
it has succeeded to a very high degree to divide ‘americans’ by ethnicity, cults, race,
family, wealth, education, healthcare, right to know, etc., like no other ONE PERCENT had
since a pharoah’s time.

is this enorm/brilliant success now waning? and is it because of the NINETY NINE
PERCENT’S efforts—largely or solely?
this is what we need to study!

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By Amelia Free, February 11, 2012 at 8:54 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What is missing here is the gaping avoidance of acknowledging the America and
its quest for identity has been written, defined and pursued by MEN.  So, the idea
that “violence creates identity” is a peculiarly male form of identity formation.  90%
of his quotes come from men commenting on a male idea of order.  This is how
the masculine narrative subsumes the feminine under its narrative.  Berman does
so by asking “what is american identity” the assumption being that the male model
speaks for everyone.  Time to step away from the microphones, guys, and let a
different perspective take up the room on the stage.

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By doublestandards/glasshouses, February 11, 2012 at 7:26 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

He’s absolutely right about militarism.  People who opposed the Bush Administration’s shredding of the constitution don’t have a problem with Obama’s doing the same things and worse.  Most people have come to accept the killing of innocent people in the AfPak war as unavoidable “collateral damage”.  Drones have now been approved for air space within the US.  If they are going to be used against domestic terrorists presumably there will be collateral damage here also and it is likely that Americans will accept it out of fear.  Not even Orwell could have dreamed this up.  The war on terror will become a war on American citizens.  We will see the president on tv telling us that while some innocent Americans are being killed by the drone attacks, he is doing his best to keep it to a minimum.

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By EmileZ, February 11, 2012 at 6:18 am Link to this comment

Don’t let JimBob get you down on the U.S. Morris.

Come on back to stay and we’ll give you a parade.

You’ll love it!!!

Help us find that “balance we need in order to meet the future intelligently and courageously”.

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By Bill Desmond, February 11, 2012 at 5:56 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“Come, my friends.  Tis not too late to seek a better
world.”

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By John Poole, February 10, 2012 at 9:33 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’ll second gerard’s thoughts. There are powerfully toxic and perhaps fatal belief
system memes currently controlling the weak and warped minds of the ruling elite
in many countries today but Truthdig is a powerful antidote for nihilism.

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By JimBob, February 10, 2012 at 9:10 pm Link to this comment

Hey, everyone gets old.  The question is, how do you get
old?  With grace and generous wisdom?  Or pissed off at
God because you don’t get to stay 25 forever?  Countries,
civilizations, even empires—to paraphrase Mitt Romney -
- are people.  We have a choice.

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By gerard, February 10, 2012 at 5:57 pm Link to this comment

Everybody can’t leave!  It seems to be that this sort of radical scholastic negativism actually aids, matches and promotes the apocalyse of religions and all fringe myths of the “end of days” that have intensified and faded, intensified and faded periodically for centuries.
  Of course I recognize that the “signs” are obvious and intensifying, and may be beyond control if ways of thinking persist and bend even more toward favoring dissolution.  I think it is what Seymour Hirsh was trying to say in his essay on “The Samson Option"regarding Israel’s persistent reactionism.
  I do not believe we can predict the ultimate outcome and that doing as much as one can is not useless.  Some things may occur that are unpredictable—sudden openings, creative turns, evidences of better ethics, more empathetic realizations ... Certainly mass movements like we are seeing in various places are signs of hope as well as of danger.
  And the U.S.—in spite of enormous ignorance, arrogance and error—still has millions of citizens who are becoming more and more aware of our faults, problems and possibilities.
  At this crucial time both optimism and pessimism sicken me because I think they are a distraction from that balance we need to find in order to meet the future intelligently and courageously.

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