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Posted on Nov 25, 2010

By Nomi Prins

“A Question of Values” is an alternately sobering and inspiring collection of essays by noted historian and cultural critic Morris Berman. Berman pulls no punches in laying bare the truths about who we are, not just as a nation, but also as individuals wrapped up in the destructive pursuit of material excess. In the unswerving style of his other writings, he rips apart the national illusion of greatness.

The book is divided into four sections: “Lament for America,” “Mind and Body,” “Progress True and False” and “Quo Vadis?” (Where are you going?). Each part examines the American identity from a historical, spiritual, technological and alternative future perspective, respectively. Taken together, they ask the imperative questions: How did we get to this point, and how do we get out? Or will we? (Here being a country caught in a societal malaise of promoting external accumulation over internal compassion.) Taken together, the sections inspect our inner and outer fabric as a nation.

In Section I, the second essay, “Conspiracy vs. Conspiracy in American History,” Berman dissects America’s profound sense of self-importance, a central theme of the entire collection. He discusses how the “post-election euphoria in the United States over Barack Obama was nothing more than a bubble, an illusion, because the lion’s share of the $750 million he collected in campaign contributions” came from Wall Street. Thus, the fact that Obama proceeded to promise to rein in Wall Street’s excesses lay in stark and rather public contrast to his own connections with the banks.

This political sleight of hand is part of a larger problem for which Berman lists four descriptive conspiracies (or fallacies): First, that we are a chosen people (so we get to do whatever we want); second, that America itself is a kind of religion; third, that we must endlessly expand, whether it be geographically or financially; and, lastly, that our national character is composed of extreme individuals going back to our colonization. This he considers to be the main reason why “American history can be seen as the story of a nation consistently choosing individual solutions over collective ones.”

Berman expertly interweaves narrative and analysis, supported by anecdotes, historical fact and a plethora of quotes from historians, philosophers and authors, spanning Plato to Chris Hedges. With an ardent voice and poignant prose, Berman brings us to his conclusion that the only hope for America is to stop believing its own hype—something he doesn’t consider very likely. Ranging from Wall Street bailouts to political delusion, to 9/11 and the Iraq war to the Virginia Tech massacre to the interplay with China, Berman’s lament isn’t for an America that lost its way, but for one that never had a heart, but rather a colossal ego that raids other nations with self-righteous impunity.

 

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A Question of Values

 

By Morris Berman

 

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The collection also provides a guide not just on what to think, but how to think. In Section II, Berman subtly balances the more dour aspects of the first section with a chattier discourse, relying on a combination of outside sources and his own entertaining life experiences. The section covers the message in certain modern Greek tragedies, like the movie “Damage,” and the very mortal question we all ask ourselves at different points in our lives: If I had to do it all over again, would I do it differently? And if so, would I wind up in the same place anyway? In his essay “Be Here Now,” Berman examines the need to be present in one’s life, because of the rapidity with which it flashes by. As Zen as this sentiment is, coming at the heels of his historical analysis, it centers our own focus, not selfishly, but with self-awareness. For in the end, as Berman writes, “there is no forcing things to make sense: either they do or they don’t, and there is no guarantee that they will.” It’s the thought about them that counts. Or doesn’t.

Section III spans the socially bankrupt practices resulting from endless technological advances, through the disastrous global competition for food and water. If we measure progress by consumption, how can it ever stop until there’s nothing left? According to Berman it can’t, which underscores a phenomenon he dubs “catastrophism.” As he puts it, “it is a fair guess that we shall start doing things differently only when there is no other choice; and even then, we shall undoubtedly cast our efforts in the form of a shiny new and improved hula hoop, the belief system that will finally be the true one, after all of those false starts; the one we should have been following all along.”

In Section IV, Berman brings us full circle in our assessment of national identity, taking us to Asia, a target of Ben Bernanke’s snotty finger-wagging this month. Berman notes the irony that “when Mao Zedong called the United States the paper tiger in the 1950s, everybody laughed.” As we know now, this pronouncement wasn’t so far off base. Our Washington finance chiefs, notably Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Fed Chairman Bernanke, want to keep pumping, printing and devaluing our money to create the illusion of national economic well-being while demanding that China keep its currency strong. And thus America’s national ego carries on, as Berman illustrates.

In “A Question of Values,” Berman not only warns us that America must change or die, but he calls on each of us to stop and imagine the potential of living in a better way. As such, there is also something uplifting about the book; it makes you want to call your parents to see how they are doing, or check in with your friends or your community. You know, be more in touch. Help someone.

When Berman’s last book, “Dark Ages America: The Final Phase of Empire,” came out in 2006, New York Times reviewer Michiko Kakutani declared it “the kind of book that gives the Left a bad name.” There is no doubt that Berman’s work hits American ideals where it counts, but Kakutani’s kind of knee-jerk rather than introspective response is precisely the reaction that illustrates Berman’s thesis. 

If there is anything missing from Berman’s collection, it’s that it offers no pat remedies of the kind that authors tend to stick into the wrap-up chapter. But, it’s the lack of a clearly delineated way out of our collective malaise that is the most honest answer of all. It is the basis of our entire value and priority system that is off. So, the only possible strategy for any kind of national redemption is to reassess our core values and original construction. There’s no easy way to achieve that. Still, any hope of resurrecting ourselves as a nation begins with a keener awareness of who we really are and why, and to that end, Berman’s book of essays will inspire much-needed introspection.

 


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By TAO Walker, December 7, 2010 at 10:15 pm Link to this comment

Alas poor “Aldabaran”....so much vitriol, so little opportunity to vomit it anywhere but into cyberspace.  There’s a healing Ceremony for that CONdition.

May s/he get well soon.

HokaHey!

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By Aldebaran, December 7, 2010 at 2:33 pm Link to this comment

moonraven:

Your animus toward Anarcissie seems odd and misplaced, to me. It would be better directed at TAO Walker, I think, who strikes me as a pretentious gasbag of the first water.

By the way, TAO Walker, have you ever heard of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky? I gather that Beelzebub doesn’t often visit the reservation.

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By moonraven, December 5, 2010 at 7:36 pm Link to this comment

Narcissist,

With a PhD in English, I think I know when I write literary criticism.

Just as I know when you write unadulterated twaddle.  And with no motivation whatever to improve.

Why not just put a sock in it?

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By Anarcissie, December 5, 2010 at 3:33 pm Link to this comment

moonraven, December 5 at 7:41 pm:

‘... 1.  I don’t write lit crit on plastic progressive sites. ...’

Sure you do.  That’s what you’ve been doing when you complained about my ‘windbagging’, except for the call to action I mentioned—which turned out to be completely vacuous.  But if what I write puts you in such a sour humor, why don’t you just skip reading it?  Your complaints are too vague to lead to any improvement on my part.

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By moonraven, December 5, 2010 at 2:50 pm Link to this comment

s/b “dragging”.

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By moonraven, December 5, 2010 at 2:41 pm Link to this comment

Narcissist:

“moonraven—What you wrote was, ‘Get off your ass and DO something.’  That doesn’t look like the purely literary criticism you now profess to be making; it looks like a stern call to action!  Indeed, as soon as I read it I got up and got another cup of coffee.

In any case, your critique is pretty odd.  Isn’t this thread intrinsically windbaggish, flogging as it does that old standby ‘American materialism’ and even invoking the ‘we’s’ to do it?  At least I managed to drag in the Book of Changes.  And as for my hogging the thread, it hasn’t stopped you from making your little contribution.  Dame un breque, por favor.

1.  I don’t write lit crit on plastic progressive sites.

2.  Drinking coffee and smearing caffeine-jag commentary seems to be all you are good for.

3.  The thread is not windbaggy a priori, but de facto, as it has unfortunately served for nothing but pompous posturing and piddly positions.

4.  “Drahhing in” the I Ching—and quoting in incorrectoly are hardly virtues.  That just shows how completely derivitive your thinking is.

5.  Not much stops me from calling you emperors of ice cream (find the literary reference) naked as jaybirds.

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By Anarcissie, December 5, 2010 at 2:32 pm Link to this comment

moonraven—What you wrote was, ‘Get off your ass and DO something.’  That doesn’t look like the purely literary criticism you now profess to be making; it looks like a stern call to action!  Indeed, as soon as I read it I got up and got another cup of coffee.

In any case, your critique is pretty odd.  Isn’t this thread intrinsically windbaggish, flogging as it does that old standby ‘American materialism’ and even invoking the ‘we’s’ to do it?  At least I managed to drag in the Book of Changes.  And as for my hogging the thread, it hasn’t stopped you from making your little contribution.  Dame un breque, por favor.

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By moonraven, December 5, 2010 at 1:35 pm Link to this comment

Narcissist:

“Moonraven—Thanks for your kind advice.  Unfortunately, like most of the material here, it is uninformed.  You have no idea of my activities.

In any event, this is hardly a venue in which to discuss practical activism, as I think you would know if you engaged in any.”

1.  My advice was kindly tendered because you are a tedious windbag and threadhog.

2.  I have a fair idea of your activities:  boring folks to death with self-important puffery.

3.  I was not DISCUSSING practical activism.  As a very active indigenist activist in Latin America, I am offended by your posturing.

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By Anarcissie, December 5, 2010 at 11:04 am Link to this comment

Moonraven—Thanks for your kind advice.  Unfortunately, like most of the material here, it is uninformed.  You have no idea of my activities.

In any event, this is hardly a venue in which to discuss practical activism, as I think you would know if you engaged in any.

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By moonraven, December 4, 2010 at 3:29 pm Link to this comment

anarcissie:

I think you are full of it.

Stop throwing words at the wall here.  Words are not spaghetti.

Get off your ass and DO something.

(BTW:  That is the hexagram’s message.)

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By moonraven, December 4, 2010 at 3:28 pm Link to this comment

anarcissie:

I think you are full of it.

Stop throwing words at the wall here.  Words are not spaghetti.

Get off your ass and DO something.

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By Anarcissie, December 3, 2010 at 8:34 pm Link to this comment

moonraven, December 3 at 8:03 pm:

Anarcissie:

Very interesting unconscious error:  The quote is from the 5th Hexagram of the I Ching, Waiting (Nourishment), six in the 4th place:  It is

“Waiting in blood.  Get out of the pit.”

(Not wading, which implies SOME movement.)

Good catch.  Of course, ‘waiting in blood’ is a far more effective way of describing the situation.  My error was a sort of phonetic typo combined with attraction to a cliché.

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By TAO Walker, December 3, 2010 at 5:50 pm Link to this comment

The critical distinction between free wild Human Beings and captive domesticated Two-leggeds is not one the latter are apt even to recognize, let alone make.  “Anarcissie” offers worthwhile observations and analyses about the grim CONdition our tame Sisters and Brothers are in, but assumes, apparently, that it’s all there is happening here, Humanity-wise.

There is really no way “out” of that partly self-inflicted predicament, which is why “Anarcissie” and others are unable to find one using the semantic and other “tools” available to them within the CONtraption.  The Way, rather, goes back into our essential Human Nature, back into the organic integrity of abiding-in and fulfilling our given function within the Living Arrangement of our Mother Earth….as vital components in Her immune system.  The Way goes back into the natural organic form of Humanity, which might be described in English as genuine Living Human Community.  The Way takes us through the temporary illusion of miserable solitude in the virtual world-o’-hurt, and back into being all together in the never-ending Song ‘n’ Dance of Life Herownself.   

We are, of course, “stuck with” language….by all accounts one of those “gifts” we have from “the gods,” along with “individual”-ity and agriculture and the pyramid scheme.  What this Old Man suggests, to those effectively imprisoned-by (but seeking sincerely a viable alternative to) a language which is by-design CONfining, is to learn and use (in whatever “tongue”), sparingly, the Natural Language of Organic Functional Integrity. 

Being carefully and simply descriptive when speaking or writing, is using the Natural Language.  Avoiding subjectively “value”-laden terms of the kind “gerard” rightly notes sow CONfusion instead of clarity, and thus reap CONflict instead of comity, is doing that, too.  Trusting your fella and gal Humans to be as capable as you are of recognizing and responding, with mutually beneficial effect, to those problematical situations before us, thus sparing us all the futility of “argument” and the arrogance of “persuasion,” is abiding in the integrity of our given organic function….as is having the quiet humility to let Nature speak for Herself.

It is in-large-measure the relentlessly “self”-referential character of the language of “civilization” that makes it so seductive to those all wrapped-up in the suffocating shroud of their very own “unique,” “individual,” “self.”  The “self,” is a counterfeit….a cheap imitation plastic substitute for the Natural Persons we Human Beings are.  The “self” is only an effect, a symptom of the “civilization” disease process here.

Sages for ages have urged members of the subspecies homo domesticus to grow beyond the artificial limits of the “self” (which keep them within the make-believe CONfines of the disease fever dream), and so become viable Persons and Peoples in the larger Living Arrangement….The Way.

Talking and eating less….breathing together (ie:  conspiring) more….a-k-a, The Tiyoshpaye Way.

HokaHey!

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By moonraven, December 3, 2010 at 3:03 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie:

Very interesting unconscious error:  The quote is from the 5th Hexagram of the I Ching, Waiting (Nourishment), six in the 4th place:  It is

“Waiting in blood.  Get out of the pit.”

(Not wading, which implies SOME movement.)

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By Anarcissie, December 2, 2010 at 8:39 pm Link to this comment

It’s reasonable to suppose that human language, and the kind of ideas that develop along with it, evolved because it conferred a greatly enhanced ability for humans to coordinate their activities, that is, it was a means of information, command, persuasion—and deception.  This gave the communities of those who used it great power over those who didn’t, like the rest of what we might call ‘nature’.  So language and ideas formed by language are intimately connected with the desire for and use of power.  Thus, it seems, people fall in love with some of their ideas, and the ideas take them over.  The tools take vengeance on their users by changing places with them.

Still conferring power, the tools and those they have subjugated march forward to victory.  They surround themselves with desolation.  Human beings seem to be coming to the end of that road.

It would indeed be nice if we could just walk away from it all, but I myself have not found that to be possible, and I have done quite a bit of walking.  So I am sitting here in the brain of the Beast, and occasionally I pass along more words from an old book: ‘Wading in blood.  Get out of the pit.’  I don’t know if anyone is listening.

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By gerard, December 2, 2010 at 7:11 pm Link to this comment

Taowalker, perhaps more than any other one of us, has put forth pregnant suggestions for thought. This recent interplay between some of us regarding ideas, words, nature, civilization, individuation, choices etc. for example, has been mostly inspired by his challenges.  Thanks for that.
  One of the tenets of the Tao, as I understand it, is that anything that can be said is not worth saying, or in other words, the problem is with words themselves.  The moment you choose one, all the others fall out and you are stuck with whatever limitations (and all words have limitations) you have chosen to put forth.
  For a crude example, if I express the idea of “truth” all shades of “nontruth” fall out of sight, even though there is no such thing as pure truth and the entire idea includes all shades of meaning, including the opposite. 
  If we follow this way of thinking, every word is at least a partial lie by its insufficiency, imperfection, impreciseness. Therefore, don’t trust words over experience itself.
  If we can’t trust words, can’t talk to each other meaningfully, can’t get even a provisional sense of who’s who and what’s what, we are forced back into
art and sign language, which certainly have their virtues and accomplishments, but ... having taken us out of Eden, can the elimination of idea-making put us back?
  Anarchissie’s “we humans are stuck with ideas” brings out both the strengths and limitations of languages, and of trying to name things in order to frame them for each other’s attention, delectation, differentiation and preservation—and destruction!
  The words and ideas are not the things, for sure. They are not the experiences.  All we can hope is that they are “reasonable facsimiles” that can be understood by at least one other person, and can be revised when necessary.
  Once having spoken, there is no turning back, The first sun ray falling on the wall of a cave made that clear. Signs and symbols, Babel’s baubles and bubbles.  Human CONstructs, all!
  Not to minimize the great value of direct experiences, if it were not for words to codify, label and share experiences, we would probably have all gone made before now.
  Consider the current WikiLeaks sharing—words expressing ideas kept secret regarding the likely
misguidance of tremendously important public affairs affecting millions of people.  Whether the words released will help us (that irritating “we” again!) is now largely up to us.  Will we permit the persecution of the messenger?  We may wish to “retire” from the scene, but ...

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By TAO Walker, December 2, 2010 at 4:12 pm Link to this comment

Is it a particular “idea” that is “powerful,” effecting the mixed-bag of results “Anarcissie” mentions?  Or is it, rather, the apparatus erected by those who persuade first their own “self,” and then others’, that some CONstruct will be the means of their gaining the upper-hand in that gnostically postulated love/hate “relationship” with each other and with “Nature”?

The hidden “self”-satisfying psychology of your average over-educated “values” monger, while perhaps as deserving of amused criticism as is referenced below, finally ends-up as just another trivial “answer” in the “global”-ists zero-sum game of all-the-marbles.  Stripped of all the advertising, that’s just another kid-stuff version of “Our Ford”‘s “better idea.” 

Maybe “romance” is one of those “ideas” you’re “stuck with,” when our natural talent for Spontaneous Affection gets lost in the double-shuffle or smothered in the cradle of “civilization.”

HokaHey!

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By Anarcissie, December 2, 2010 at 11:12 am Link to this comment

TAO Walker, the ‘plain truth of Nature’ is that human beings are stuck with ideas.  Many ideas are anything but ephemeral and manipulable—some of them have endured for thousands of years and been powerful enough to manipulate humans into working for, living for, even dying for them.

The article which begins this discussion is a minor case in point.  Going by Prins’s review, the Berman book is yet another voice in the numerous choir that bemoans our attraction to material possessions.  This particular choir goes back to the ancient world and there must be tens of thousands of renditions of the song still resonating in our ears.  Apparently most of its hearers never tire of it. especially in its more simple-minded forms.

An old Chinese philosopher once speculated to me that this sort of thing was a pastime for the rich, since they could bemoan all their stuff and at the same time, by mentioning it repeatedly, both glory in it and in their superiority to it.  It is win-win all around, except of course for the poor people from whom they stole the stuff in the first place.

In addition, like many moralists, Prins-Berman seem to have a case of the ‘we’s’.  They do not say that I am too much concerned with material goods, or you, or he or she or it or they; it is ‘we’.  If they said I was too concerned with material goods I could have them come to my house and examine my rather frugal life; it might be amusing to hear them trying to scrape some sort of critique, but maybe they could do it; even Diogenes threw away his tin cup.  But the we’s are so amorphous and vague we can never point to any specific case of them (except in language, course).  So there’s another very persistent and useful idea: ‘we’ can enjoy saying all kinds of bad things about people, and feeling superior to them, as long as ‘we’ use this wonderful, slippery pronoun.

As for Nature, I take a rather Gnostic view.  Nature and humanity—it is not one of those simple romances.

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By TAO Walker, December 1, 2010 at 4:00 pm Link to this comment

“racetoinfinity” seems to be suggesting that despite having botched its “job” here, Humanity (or at-least its ideating and conceptualizing cohort) still gets to go on to the transcendant state predicted for it in that commenter’s offering below.  Somehow that doesn’t add-up….as if raping and murdering your Mother, and all your Brothers and Sisters, is no obstacle to moving on to bigger and better things in the larger Living Arrangement.  It’s as if, after all’s said and done, destroying the Earth would be no more than a youthful indiscretion….or maybe even the rite-of-passage to “made” manhood.

The Way sentient Beings get to go-on to what’s next is by fulfilling the responsibilities incident to their organic function in any given Here-and-Now.  When “racetoinfinity”‘s Kind have cleaned-up their mess here (along with their act), and gotten well in the doing of it, and so are no longer subject to “quarantine,” then we’ll see what they might be up to taking-on “arriba y adelante.”  Wishfully-thinking-out-loud isn’t a trustworthy sign of the maturity essential for achieving that, though. 

‘Til then, it might be a good idea not to get too far ahead of their “self”....in that make-believe race-to-infinity.  Anyhow, lots of us have been there and back quite a few times already.  It’s no big deal.

“gerard,” bless her Heart, still frets about “losing” things she really likes.  “Words,” as such, are not the issue.  It’s the CONgenital tendency of our tame Sisters and Brothers to CONfuse words with the things spoken-about that has CONtributed CONsiderably to the trouble they’re in. 

As the Sages say, “Less talking and eating, and more Breathing.”

HokaHey!

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By frecklefever, December 1, 2010 at 11:43 am Link to this comment

ITELLECTUAL PADDY CAKING OVER COFFEE AND SMOKING PIPES….IS A
STUFFED CHAIR PASTIME NAUSEA…...

TWO SUNS….

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By racetoinfinity, December 1, 2010 at 3:12 am Link to this comment

@TAO Walker -

The reasoning mind and ideation (conception) was an evolutionary advance over embededness in nature.

(The Tao is about Nature with a capital N, which is the always-already alpha and omega of Involuton/Evolution, and the still point that observes and transcends the whole process.  Yes, it is organic, but masters technology and the cybersphere.  It includes and transcends nature, mind, and soul in Spirit, and beyond even that to a non-definable place beyond words (“Zen”) - in that you are correct). 

The problem is that during the European Enlightenment, or the age of reason, mankind made the error of dissociating pathologically from nature, instead of the healthy growth that is differentiation from nature (whch includes it fully while transcending it in Mind).  We need a NEO-organic transformation, i.e. a RE-integration with nature, but at a higher level including mind and vision, beyond embededness in nature (but including it), beyond mere reason and ideation (and including them), to a networked vision of loving stewardship of our planetary resources for the common good, a new communitarianism that honors individual innovation and creativity. 

Corporatism and materialism are the pathological results of our split from nature in the modern era, going back to at least the 17th century.

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By gerard, November 30, 2010 at 11:53 pm Link to this comment

TaoWalker:  As I am sure you know, If you push words too far, the argument about ideas, thoughts, words and speech becomes like aa snake eating its tail. And since its mouth is full it can’t utter any more words at all. That would be something I definitely don’t want to live long enough to see. As long as we are trying to express our thoughts, all is not loar.
  I understand that there is a life beyond words, and that words often get in the way of direct experience.  But I wonder if we would still be human if we lost our ability to invent and manipulate languages, trying to express and describe for each other those strange, wild, wonderful birds that flit about beneath the lining of our bone-headed skulls, trying to learn how to say I love you, to shape a mutual understanding not only about what life is,  but also what it may/may not mean, and why it might someday bring us all to account for each other. I do not regard language so much as an individuator as a unifier, a communal device for sharing.
  Oddly, looking back over this, I do not find one word that starts with CON-.  I can’t help wondering why.

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By TAO Walker, November 30, 2010 at 5:13 pm Link to this comment

If “Anarcissie” will re-read what this Old Indian offered here earlier about “ideas,” it should be clear there was never any suggestion to “....get rid of” them.  Rather, based on their essentially ephemeral and manipulable character (and that of such kindred notions as “values”), it was suggested we would be wise not to depend on them for “answers,” to anywhere near the extent the domesticated peoples tend habitually to do.

It was just such make-believe and inherently weak CONceits the Ancients meant when they cautioned that, “Leaning on thorns and thistles courts disaster.”  It’s better by far to follow what they called, “The plain truth of Nature.”  For us surviving free wild Human Beings that means abiding wholly within the organic integrity of ou r given function within the Living Arrangement of our Mother Earth.

“Anarcissie,” and others in-thrall to “ideas” and their insubstantial and unreliable ilk, might try imagining, for example, the unwelcome CONsequences should the Kidneys, tiring of their own pissy “job,” get the bright idea of taking-over the Heart’s.  The domesticated peoples are right now reaping the “rewards” of having forsaken their place in Her immune system, and trying vainly to set-up their own half-baked “self” instead as “the brains.”

Here in Indian Country we’re so happy not to be “....stuck with ideas.”

HokaHey!

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By Anarcissie, November 30, 2010 at 3:11 pm Link to this comment

Marshall, November 30 at 11:05 am:

Chris i understand your general stance against war, though i’m not clear on whether you call yourself a pacifist or not.  But I also understand that there are groups like Al Qaeda that cannot be ignored.  Our drone attacks have been hugely effective in targeting those threats. ...

I was astonished by the last.  As far as I know there is no independent evidence that drone attacks reduce the threat of terrorism, which I believe is what Al-Qaeda is supposed to be about.  In the case of the most recent terrorist attack of which I have any detailed knowledge, the attempted Times Square car bombing, it is obvious that drones were not going to stop such an attack, and in fact the bomber actually said he was inspired by them.

I don’t know what the real purpose of slaughtering people in Afghanistan and elsewhere with drones is, but it clearly has very little to do with stopping Al-Qaeda and terrorism.

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By Anarcissie, November 30, 2010 at 2:44 pm Link to this comment

TAO Walker, it seems to me we are stuck with ideas, for better or worse.  Even the idea of getting rid of ideas is an idea.

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By truedigger3, November 30, 2010 at 2:42 pm Link to this comment

By Arabian Sinbad, November 30 at 9:15 am

Arabian Sinbad wrote:
“As opposed to the vices of the material carnal souls, what America and the world at large need now is spiritual revival that checks and balances the excessive materialism of modern times.”
——————————————————————————-

Unfortunately if this spiritual revival do materialize, it will be started and led by either malicious opportunists or religious lunatics and fanatics which will lead to a very ugly situation.
What is needed is more rational humanistic ideas to be accepted and taught to the population with the result of a shift in culture.
The parable of wordly materialism and salty water is an excellent parable.

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By frecklefever, November 30, 2010 at 2:38 pm Link to this comment

THE MANUFACTURED GOODS OF THE EARLY AMERICANS…ENTICED THE
THE NATIVES FROM THEIR TRADITIONS…A PROOF OF THE POWER OF
COMFORTABLE MATERIALISM…A DRIVING FORCE OF HISTORY..AND
BECAUSE EUROPE WAS A HOTBED OF WARRING TRIBES COMPETITION..FOR
SUPERIOR WEAPONS WAS THE SPUR ...THESE INVENTIONS CAME TO NATIVE
LANDS AND DOMINATED WARFARE…AND THE NATIVES SUFFERED THE
CONSEQUENCES…OF HISTORY AND ITS BLIND AMBITIONS…TODAY ITS
FASIONABLE FOR INTELLECTUALS…TO EXCORIATE THEIR EUROPEAN
ANCESTORS…BUT EVEN A CURSORY KNOWLEDGE OF HISTORY WOULD
INSTRUCT…THAT ALL PEOPLES HAVE BARBAROUS HISTORIES..THE
PROBLEM WITH THE AMERICAN INTELLECTUALS…IS THEY DISPARAGE THEIR
ANCESTORS AND SET THEMSELVES AS PREY..TO BE MANIPULATED AND
BECOME AGENTS..OF THE LIKES OF RACIST ORGANIZATIONS EG. LA
RAZA…ASK LA RAZA WHAT RACE WIPED OUT GERONIMOS MOTHER..WIFE
AND CHILDREN..THE SIMPLE REALITY IS OUR ANCESTORS…GOOD AND
BAD..STAYED ALIVE LONG ENOUGH..TO KEEP THE LINE GOING THAT LED TO
YOU AND US EXPERIENCING THIS BEAUTIFUL GIFT..LIFE…

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By Arabian Sinbad, November 30, 2010 at 4:15 am Link to this comment

An eighth-century Arab mystic gave the parable of worldly materialism as follows: “The parable of worldly materialism is like salty water; the more you drink from it the more you get thirsty!”

And another thirteenth-century mystic talked about the “seven holes of worldly deception” as being the seven deadly vices of false pride, lust, greed, envy, anger, avarice and malice.

As opposed to the vices of the material carnal souls, what America and the world at large need now is spiritual revival that checks and balances the excessive materialism of modern times.

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By gerard, November 29, 2010 at 9:04 pm Link to this comment

truedigger3: You can count the wars started and promoted by women on the fingers of one hand, and even when women were “behind” the wars, it was men who killed each other, as well as what we like these days to call “collateral damage”—which is mostly women and children.  You can also count very few women who invent and manufacturer weapons of mass destruction, sneak killers like cluster bombs and drones, etc.  It’s mostly the devious minds of men, sorry to say.  Women do work in the services, and in defense plants—if they can tell themselves they “have to” do it, and/or are not actually killing anybody themselves, but even that excuse wears thin over time. When men stop being the prime movers of war, I’ll stop ragging on them, gladly. It gives me no satisfaction whatsoever.

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By gerard, November 29, 2010 at 7:21 pm Link to this comment

Frecklefever: “At this point in time ...” as the literati love to say:  I am (provisionally) prejudiced against so-called “white” people because their history is so discriminatory, cruel, unreasonable, injurious, unjust, undeomcratic, cold, selfish and inexcuseable.  What have I left out?
  Now that you bring it up, ever since grade school I have been ashamed of what is so often called “the dominant culture.”  I am still ashamed of it, 90 years later.
  It is no shame to be ashamed of shamefulness.  Look at the record worldwide ever since there have been “white” people. I’m not so much prejudiced as ashamed.
Prejudice comes from “pre” plus “judge”, meaning to judge before (prior to) evidence. I’m judging
“Whitesville” after centuries of continuous evidence based on behavior, day after day after day.
When the evidence stops recurring, I will gladly give up my shame, believe me! It’ll be a great load off my psyche.

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By gerard, November 29, 2010 at 7:21 pm Link to this comment

Frecklefever: “At this point in time ...” as the literati love to say:  I am (provisionally) prejudiced against so-called “white” people because their history is so discriminatory, cruel, unreasonable, injurious, unjust, undeomcratic, cold, selfish and inexcuseable.  What have I left out?
  Now that you bring it up, ever since grade school I have been ashamed of what is so often called “the dominant culture.”  I am still ashamed of it, 90 years later.
  It is no shame to be ashamed of shamefulness.  Look at the record worldwide ever since there have been “white” people. I’m not so much prejudiced as ashamed.
Prejudice comes from “pre” plus “judge”, meaning to judge before (prior to) evidence. I’m judging
“Whitesville” after centuries of continuous evidence based on behavior, day after day after day.
When the evidence stops recurring, I will gladly give up my shame, believe me! It’ll be a great load off my psyche.

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By truedigger3, November 29, 2010 at 6:46 pm Link to this comment

Re: By gerard, November 27 at 3:23 am

gerard wrote:
“I must call to Gulam’s attention the fact that men are the war-makers, not women.”
——————————————————————————

gerard,
That is not true. When women reach positions of leadership and power, they could be very uncompromising and war-mongering, for example as Indra Ghandi of india, Golda Mayer of Israel and Margret Thatcher of Britain.
In certain cultures, the the duty for “vendetta” is continuously drummed in the ears of the sons by their mothers from early childhood until the “deed” is done.

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By TAO Walker, November 29, 2010 at 5:48 pm Link to this comment

Ideas are by-definition abstractions.  What this Old Man was suggesting below is that their efficacy as inducements to actual mutually beneficial responses, to the many degenerative manifestations here of the “civilization” disease, is at-best severely limited.

Besides, since all ideas are in-effect “created equal,” and most everybody will admit to there being at-least some “bad” ones, it may be wise not to rely too much on them as a remedy for what ails us.  Also, as “competitors” in a “marketplace,” the already (literally) questionable “worth” of ideas depends heavily on the relative persuasiveness of advocates and the generally fickle receptiveness of potential “buyers.”

If ideas and other sorts of abstraction were the best we could do, we’d have to rely on them despite their inherent deficiencies.  Luckily, we have our given organic function, as vital components in Her immune systems, within our Mother Earth’s Living Arrangement.  Not only is no “mediation” necessary to its fulfillment, our actual experience with all such derivative attempts at “improvement” is that they invariably interfere with us….mostly by degrading Human integrity in ways whose CONsequences are so much with us here in these latter days.  This Old Indian hopes “Anarcissie” finds this responsive.

We need only DO what we ARE.

HokaHey!

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By frecklefever, November 29, 2010 at 4:48 pm Link to this comment

GERARD..I WON’T MAKE THE MISTAKE OF COMPLIMENTING YOU.. AS TO
YOUR WHITESVILLE COMMENT..ITS A REVELATION THAT YOU CAN WRITE A
SENSITIVE POST….THEN SPIT OUT A RACIST SLUR…PROGRESSIVES HAVE A
REAL CONTEMPT FOR THEIR WHITENESS….ITS A REAL PSYCHOSIS….

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By gerard, November 29, 2010 at 3:47 pm Link to this comment

frecklefever: Please!  Arrogant? Gibberish?  N-O-T!
  Actually, for me and many others, these voices you castigate are more valuable than a lot of the mean-spirited and destructive criticism in comments coming from some of the grown-up spoiled brats living in Whitesville, U.S.A.

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By frecklefever, November 29, 2010 at 3:17 pm Link to this comment

GERARD….WELL WRITTEN….YOUR POST IS THE RED ROAD WE ALL ARE
TRYING TO ACCOMPLISH .....IT WELCOMES ALL…

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By moonraven, November 29, 2010 at 1:30 pm Link to this comment

freckle:

You sound like one of those assimilated (read emasculated) indians who believes the gringo dictum about being nice—while the gringo shoots you, your horse and burns your house to the ground.

Time to wake up and ride the Red Road.

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By Anarcissie, November 29, 2010 at 12:05 pm Link to this comment

Very good, gerard.  That’s what’s happening.  It would happen faster if more people would stop looking for great heroes and noble government, and start doing it for themselves, but it’s happening anyway.

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By frecklefever, November 29, 2010 at 10:50 am Link to this comment

TAO WALKER..OLD MAN TURTLE…MOONRAVEN..YOUR ARROGANCE HURTS
MY HEAD AND YOUR GIBBERISH IS UNWISE…..

THE RED SKIN MAGICIAN…DOES ENFOLD THE TUXEDO SKY…IN HIS
DEEPEST BLUE RIVER EYE..CAN YOU HEAR HIS RETURN….RETURN O NATIVE
CRY…
OR. THE BEAUTIFUL HONE OF MY CRAZY HORSE EDGE…WAS A GIFT FROM
THAT PEASANT…STONEHENGE…
     
    CHEYENNE BODE

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By gerard, November 29, 2010 at 12:49 am Link to this comment

Continuing, the dream is father to the act, and it is possible that there are many ways to tomorrow, all related to a common goal of reintegration.
  This person or group come to realize they have an ability to do one thing particularly well and they do it, and it is passed on to others because it succeeds. Another group in another place has a different genius, and acts accordingly, and a third, fourth, fifth\tieth, five-hundredth section of humanity experiments with other ideas, succeeds and passes results on, multiplied by thousands. War, fear, overconsumption and greed die of the unnatural psychic death they have been breeding for centuries.
  All the efforts have in common an emphasis on treating one sickness here, another there, for the sake of cleansing, disinfecting, healing wounds, helping to cure one or another of the many contagious psychic and material diseases of the modern world. Reactionary efforts to squelch innovations fail because so many remember the pains and frustrations of the past. 
  At first many older people refuse to believe what is happening, but, once engaged, the young are steadfast. It takes time to realize that perhaps calamity has been avoided. Some efforts gain more “traction” than others; some are better supported than others, but they all learn from experience, and add up exponentially to a common emphasis on inter-relatedness, empathy, creative effort, commitment, sharing and joy.  All become part of the growing, universal human awareness.  Animals and trees, the mountains and the wind join in because they recognize this human homecoming and rejoice. 
  More and more people hear the good news, and want to become a part of the change.  They engage, and their children join, and the world is not going back because a new world has been “discovered.” Human beings, as they become more aware and more conscious of thoughtful, soulful human behavior, recognize a new day and will not turn back.
  Corporations and warlords finally wake up and find themselves freed from the chains they forged around themselves while they were anaesthetized by greed, a false dependence on compulsion, and desperate existential loneliness.
  The fateful countdown of Revelations and the dour calendar of Global Warming will be replaced by the birthday celebration of a world being reborn.
  “I may not get there with you, but ...”  Selah!

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By Anarcissie, November 28, 2010 at 11:14 pm Link to this comment

TAO Walker, if you do not believe in the external agency of ideas, why are you advocating ideas here?  Or even describing them?  Not that I necessarily disagree with the ideas you appear to be advocating.  This is not a rhetorical question.

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By TAO Walker, November 28, 2010 at 9:09 pm Link to this comment

Again, there’s no question of “gerard”‘s genuine good will.  She does illustrate, though, the tendency of so many today who persist in looking for healing in some external agency….some idea or organization or movement, for example.  She can be among the “healers” she seeks by ceasing to fear for the “self,” her own and “others,” and giving her precious attention to whatever manifestation of the mess presents itself to her everyday….which some of it does to all of us.


Take the Medicine….then BE The Medicine.

HokaHey!

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By gerard, November 28, 2010 at 6:21 pm Link to this comment

Forget everything else I’ve said—or tried to say.  Just remember, my pleas call for healers, not soldiers.  That’s all I’m reaching for—a shift not of stars and planets but of hearts and minds.  I do not believe that Nature in any of her forms will be forced to continue to suffer if this shift away from exploitation and violence happens. I believe such a change can happen, and that it will be a shift back to more compassionate, communal ways of living.  I would like to help it happen.  I believe it is an inner, spiritual shift that will reconnect people to Nature and people to each other everywhere, and that millions of people are longing for it and trying to learn, understand, realize, divine, intuit, ways to find a way.

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By TAO Walker, November 28, 2010 at 5:01 pm Link to this comment

“gerard” took somebody to task awhile back for not acknowledging her own conditional phrasing, in a statement she made about the innate propensities for organized violence (or lack thereof) in human females.  Here she disregards similarly qualifying terminology applied to “assumptions” about her general preference for Two-leggeds, in the “global” “survival” lottery.  This Old Indian based that carefully hedged “assumption” on her own consistently homo-centric and human-istic offerings here.

“gerard” then goes on in her latest below to confirm the accuracy of said “assumption.”  That her homo-centric and human-istic convictions are held and advanced sincerely has never been questioned by this Person.

If there is a fatal flaw in her belief system, however, it may be revealed most clearly in her expressed concern about finding some way for each “individual” to “save” their “self”....and for great numbers of these to do that.  The “self,” though, is only an effect, a symptom, of the “civilization” disease.  As the disease process runs its course here these CONstructs’ inherent lethality, temporarily partly buffered in their own half-lives by the euphoria of believed-to-be-unending “progress,” becomes more-and-more manifest among the “individual”-ized members of homo domesticus.  Our tame Sisters and Brothers are now suffering, in-spades, the same CONsequences they were once so instrumental in inflicting so slap-happily upon the rest of our Living Arrangement.

That “gerard” and other homo-centric human-ists are made uncomfortable by observations like that, which place their “kind” in a context not governed at all by their professed “values,” but rather by the natural rythms and flows of Life Herownself, and so not susceptible to manipulation by the “self”-obsessed, is certainly not surprising.  The irony here in these latter days is that “individual”-ized people are already trapped in just exactly such a CONstruct, the “global”-ized “New World Order,” the degenerative effects of which “gerard” and others regularly lament on this site.

That “gerard” in her domesticated CONdition would like some “guarantees,” should she take a chance on The Tiyoshpaye Way, is not surprising either.  That anyone presuming to offer her some is trying to run some kind of scam is dead certain.

So there’ll be none coming from this Old Savage.

HokaHey!

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By moonraven, November 28, 2010 at 4:53 pm Link to this comment

I don’t believe for one moment that there is a democracy gap in the US.

YOU folks vote for your government.

Voting for genocide, imperialism and hypocrisy means that’s what YOU want.

Saying that it isn’t is just coy dissimulation.

I haven’t read this book by Berman, but found most of his previous one, Dark Ages America to be on target.

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By REDHORSE, November 28, 2010 at 4:50 pm Link to this comment

ANARCISSIE: I haven’t been peeking.

      “Drug/Booze Addled” is perhaps the wrong way of saying it. It’s human damage and confusion I’m trying to describe. All are touched by it. “We the people—” are wounded,the American psyche is fractured, and the fractures are being exploited. The common thread is our humanity. I’m suggesting that a little serious time connecting with ourselves might allow us to connect with others.

        (By the way, invite me next time.)

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By G.Anderson, November 28, 2010 at 4:48 pm Link to this comment

yes, that’s right get grip on yourself. Your view of the world is distorted,by your
continual desire for conflict.  Just like a smoker that needs to feel the pressure of the
smoke entering his lungs to feel alive, that conflict makes you feel powerful and alive.
This you continually create with others. Your a microcosm, it’s the same mechanism
that is at work in our so called political leadership. Feeding the self through conflict.

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By Anarcissie, November 28, 2010 at 3:17 pm Link to this comment

We have met the enemy, and he is us?  If so, all we have to do is go out and defeat ourselves.  Aux armes, citoyens!

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By Shaman Omaha, November 28, 2010 at 2:11 pm Link to this comment

There is a way out!  A new organization, Humanity Rising, unites the 12 step approach with the insights of psychotherapy to create a mutual self-help program for recovering, one citizen at a time, from the effects of the world-view presently dominating us.  Berman describes the world-view and the consequences very well.  The Left has made the mistake of trying to solve the problem at the same organizational level at which the problem exists.  Forming another organization will not solve the problem.  AA never claimed it could cure alcoholism, but it has helped one alcoholic at a time stop drinking.  In the same way, Humanity Rising can help one citizen at a time recover.  Go to http://www.humanityrising.net to see the principles behind this new way.

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By gerard, November 28, 2010 at 1:33 pm Link to this comment

TaoWalker:  11/28 Your remark about the “two-leggeds” is assumption, but of course I realize we do a lot of that in these shadowy comments, make assumumptions—some accurate, some way off beat.
  Thanks for your answer.  Yes, I am thinking about millions in all different kinds of situations and locations,(especially young people) and how they might possibly “abide healthily” whose present is already miserable.  How will they endure what looks like the coming future? Or is that not “important” in the scheme of things—even though we have the means to help large numbers, if only a more universal degree of caring were to spread among us?
  Yhere may be “no war and peace” in Nature, but there is starvation and sickness galore. And out of such suffering may have come the “idea” of individualization. “Mother” Nature casts off a large number of her children who might, with a little help from their friends, become viable.  In my opinion, the ending should come before the beginning, if we are to limit numbers—not by allowing deliberately engineered kill-offs like wars and poverty.
  Where we differ most, I guess, is not in how we can save ourselves(following your admirable suggestions and others similar) but how to make it possible for people in all places and conditions to save themselves—or at least not to kill and be killed in internecine fights for survival.  And in that very process, to raise the level of morality and compassion everywhere.
  My hope may well be in vain, though.  I realize that.

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By G.Anderson, November 28, 2010 at 11:45 am Link to this comment

The war outside is really the war inside projected onto others. if you don’t fight the war
inside then you will always be destined to fight the war outside.  Peace yourself.

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By Anarcissie, November 28, 2010 at 12:08 am Link to this comment

gerard, November 27 at 9:35 pm:

... Nobody has the faintest idea as to how to start making peace. ...

I know how to start making peace.  I don’t think that’s the problem.

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By Anarcissie, November 27, 2010 at 11:59 pm Link to this comment

REDHORSE, November 27 at 8:01 pm:

ANARCISSIE: No, I mean ALL of us. Myself, Prins and Berman included.

You, Prins and Berman can speak for yourselves, but I am curious as to why you think I am a ‘drug/booze addled addict’ who ‘needs a serious inventory of personal values and a major reality check.’  Have you been peeking at my orgies or something?  I thought I had drawn the curtains pretty carefully before getting started.

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By TAO Walker, November 27, 2010 at 11:18 pm Link to this comment

The “refuge” (wondered-about by “gerard” earlier) exists for a domesticated “individual” in leaving the CONfinement of the make-believe “self” and returning to the organic integrity of free wild Natural Person-hood.  For “people” in-general it is in the Natural Form of Organic Community, the ORGAN-ization of Humanity in-keeping with our given Function in the Living Arrangement of our Mother Earth….again, abiding healthily together within the integrity of our form and function as Persons and as Peoples.

The subspecies homo domesticus is suffering the natural and inevitable CONsequences of having been lured out of our given place in the Living Arrangement, and then becoming trapped in an exploitative artificial arrangement generated by a retro-viral wannabe “parasite,” the pseudo-“metabolism” of which operates on various kinds of degenerate “energy” obtained by processes which systematically degrade Natural Vitality.  This has presented here as the “civilization” disease.  What is required is Medicine….not another “better idea.”

So our “refuge” is in our very Humanity.  The “refuge” of Humanity is in our given place, as vital components in Her natural immune system, in the Living Arrangement of our Mother Earth….all within the never-ending Song ‘n’ Dance of Life Herownself.

HokaHey!

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By TAO Walker, November 27, 2010 at 9:04 pm Link to this comment

This isn’t the first time “Gerard” has raised her no-doubt heartfelt concerns about the “numbers.”  She apparently wants to “save” as many “people” (evidently only of the Two-legged variety, though) as possible from the deadly effects of the “civilization” disease.

This Old Indian’s remedy, as prescribed below, is not “geographical.”  There’s no need for anybody to “come from” or “go to” any place.  The Medicine for “individuals” is to get free of their “self.”  For the domesticated peoples it is to come together as free wild natural Persons in aid of our Mother Earth, clean-up whatever manifestations of the mess are right in-front of them, coalescing there into organic Communities and getting well together in the very doing of it.

So, yes, this is The Way for as many Human Beings as possible to live together through this process.  We can take a “head-count” when its over….if there’s any who’re still the least bit interested in such trivia.

None here in Indian Country are likely to participate in it, though.

HokaHey!

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By gerard, November 27, 2010 at 7:32 pm Link to this comment

Taowalker:  One question:  Roughly, how many people can you envision finding the way to your suggested refuge, from where will they come and where will they go ?  Or do you see this as a reclamation-right-where-everybody is?  Or do you see this as the escape of a “saving remnant”?  Please answer if you feel like it.  I don’t mean to quiz you.

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By TAO Walker, November 27, 2010 at 6:51 pm Link to this comment

There’s no need to doubt the sincerity of “Gerard” and others here, in their expressed wish for a cessation to the ravages of the “civilization” disease in their own half-lives and upon our Living Arrangement as a whole.  The problem with “peace,” however, and similarly make-believe CONceits with which the sub-species homo domesticus is so enthralled, is that they have absolutely no meaning outside the self-destructing virtual world-o’-hurt in which their kind is trapped.  In Nature there is neither “war” nor “peace.”

As the retro-viral CONtraption disintegrates, and CONsolidates its dwindling “energies” in an ever more tightly CONstricted CONfiguration, more and more of the domesticated human population is being subjected to a phase of the disease process that’s squeezing the dregs of Natural Vitality out of them before ejecting their husks back into our greater Living Arrangement.  The smothering sensation accompanying this is, quite naturally, inducing CONsiderable panic among those caught-up in it.

It has again been asserted here that no viable alternative is on-offer….at least none not partaking of the fatal flaws inherent in the dominance-paradigm’s privateering pyramid scheme that is the operating system of the damned thing’s globe-girdling apparatus.  Here’s one.  Get free of your overly-esteemed “self,” tame Sisters and Brothers.  It is the artificial CONstruct keeping you captive to that which is killing you so ruthlessly.

Cast-off the degenerative illusion of “individual”-ity, and come together as free wild Natural Persons and Peoples, where you live and breathe every Day, in aid of our Mother Earth….as the vital components in Her natural immune system Human Beings are in our essential nature.  Coalesce into genuine Organic Human Communities, which are the natural organic form of Humanity.  Clean-up together the mess you’ve been (in the throes of your induced delusion of “separateness” and “superiority”) so instrumental in making here….and in which your “self” is suffocating anyhow.  Get well all together doing it.

It really is as simple as taking your Medicine.

HokaHey!

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By Gulam, November 27, 2010 at 6:30 pm Link to this comment

Over of the past fifty centuries of recorded history, the only century in which
women in large numbers played a formal role in politics, voted, and directly
influenced public policy was the 20th century. That was also a time of world
wars, mass killing on an unprecedented scale, environmental destruction much
more virulent than ever before, and a dramatic increase in the gap between the
rich and the poor. One of the first things that German women did after
receiving the right to vote was to help elect Hitler. Anyone who traveled in
Eastern Europe and Russia during the decades of Communist control will
remember being confronted again and again by large, humorless bureaucrats
with crooked lipstick. The World Wars and revolutions of the 20th century were
not only conflicts in which many civilians were caught up in the violence, moves
were made again and again that intentionally slaughtered vast numbers of
civilians. Though the two phenomena may not be causally related, feminism
and rising industrially enabled mass killing, they are two phenomena that
arrived on the scene at the same time. They are part of the same overall end-
of-a-cycle decadence.

Most female mammals display characteristics that are distinctly different from
those of the males of their species, and people who live in intimate contact with
animals see this every day. Wild dogs live in packs. Male dogs naturally fight to
decide the pack’s leadership, a sorting process that is necessary for their group
survival. Once a dog knows that he cannot win, he yields, rolls over, baring his
underside, and the match is over. An Afghan would never take a female dog to
the dog fights in Afghanistan. It could be dangerous, and it would be regarded
as naive, unmanly, and ridiculous. A bitch will kill when she feels that she or
her pups are threatened, but that behavior is something entirely different from
fights among male dogs. This explains the current usage of a word that once
simply meant “female dog.” The vulgar usage of the word “bitch” implies
unnecessary harsh or inappropriate aggressiveness, behavior that is unlike
male bravado, which requires confident forbearance and pleasure in having a
worthy opponent. In nature most fights among male dogs are a contest without
serious injury, part of normal male dog dominance determination.

Dogs can be especially bred and trained by humans to do many things, but it
would weaken a pack in the wild to lose the second strongest dog. Male dogs
fight to settle their pecking-order; killing is not their intent; fear and anger are
not their motivations. It may happen that occasionally an ear or a lip gets
snagged in an Afghan dog fight, so one could not say with a straight face that
it is never a “blood sport.” This is why the ears and tails of the dogs are cut
short when they are young, but dogs are not often seriously injured in a
supervised “sag jangee” in Afghanistan. It is an oddly civilized past-time, more
so perhaps than several professional sports in the West that come to mind. The
Afghans have a great deal to teach the West about the nature of gender and the
limits of dominance and violence. Perhaps this is the reason Western armies
keep going there to take the course.

This is the opening line from a story in the New York Times, published 6
December 2008.

“HOUSTON — The two undercover agents were miles from any town, deep in
the East Texas countryside, following a car carrying three dog fighting fanatics
and a female pit bull known for ripping off the genitals of other dogs.

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By frecklefever, November 27, 2010 at 5:37 pm Link to this comment

IN THE SIXTIES I BECAME A CONSTANT CRITIC OF AMERICA..AFTER COLLEGE
WE MOVED TO THE REDWOOD FOREST AND LIVED IN A REDWOOD
HOGAN…I BUILT..LATER ANOTHER MOVE AND ANOTHER HOGAN MADE OF
FERRO CEMENT..IN MALIBU…BUT NOW I WANT TO SHARE MY LOVE OF
AMERICA BY LISTING ITS PLUSES…VIEWING THOSE WONDEROUS
CITYSCAPES AT NIGHT LIT UP IS STUPEDOUS..THEY ARE OUR CULTURE
ICONS THAT INFLUENCES THE WORLD..AS DOES OUR MOVIES..POP
MUSIC..JAZZ…DANCE..FASHION..AND THE BEAUTIFUL ENGLISH
LANGUAGE..THAT OTHER COUNTRIES SPEAK TO SHOW OFF THEIR
MODERNITY..THE COUNTRY GEORGIA JUST PASSED A LAW TO TEACH
ENGLISH AS A SECOND LANGUAGE…AS THE GERMAN ROCK GROUP
RAMSTEIN SCREAMS ..WE ARE ALL AMERICANS..WALL STREET IS NOT
AMERICA NOR IS GEORGE BUSH…THEY ARE ITS FREAKS..

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By gerard, November 27, 2010 at 4:35 pm Link to this comment

I guess I qualify as an “incurable person” when it comes to ending wars.  As a woman, and as a human being, it seems abundantly clear to me that violence in any form for any reason is unfair, and counterproductive because it produces more violence in nearly every case throughout history. Whatever
“settlements” or treaties resulting have almost always been one-sided and cause a residue of pain that calls for resentment and/or revenge rather than reconciliation.
  Putting the issue in terms of “defending our women” harks back to tribal wars that were no more glorious than today’s battles except that they were on a much smaller scale and therefore less damaging
  Peacemaking is an underdeveloped art and science because resorting to war has always been the preferred answer. Peacemaking has also been habitually damned as “weakness” “cowardice” and “giving in,” while war has been glorified.
  So we have arrived where we are:  Nobody has the faintest idea as to how to start making peace.Nor do most people even believe it is possible. Who’s surprised?  Things will not change till we human beings change—and change in exactly the fundamental ways that some commenters advocate—that is, love each other, work together where you are in whatever ways you can to restore the human relationship to the planet and to each other.
  A moral-spiritual shift in favor of cooperation and understanding is possible—between different peoples and between humans and all other life forms. Massive yearning is a first step (which is beginning to appear). Declaring some kind of worldwide Armistice is only the first possible gesture.  It will take years of thoughtful education and participation to bring about a true widespread reconciliation.
  More violence simply digs our hole a little deeper.
“Peace is the way,” somebody said or wrote during the 60s, but “the way” has never been discovered, practiced, tried and corrected, refined, expanded.
Only sporadic attempts have been made by enlightened and committed MEN (yes, men) and women here and there, for the most part undervalued, unwept and unsung.

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By TAO Walker, November 27, 2010 at 3:20 pm Link to this comment

The unrelentingly homo-centric CONceit that informs this article (and its subject book), and all the comments here, illustrate perfectly the fatal disconnect between their own “self” and our Mother Earth’s Living Arrangement that is at the root of all those symptoms cataloged and lamented here by “individual”-ized members of the subspecies homo domesticus….perhaps epitomized in these latter days by theamericanpeople herd.  Yet so many are hell-bent on somehow saving or “re-building” the very “civilization” disease that’s killing them.

Perhaps these “ones” are among those unfortunates described by the Ancients when they tell us there are no incurable sicknesses….only incurable people.

HokaHey!

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By G.Anderson, November 27, 2010 at 3:19 pm Link to this comment

No Gerard, the cultural insanity of war is everyones responsibility regardless of sex.
Maybe the next time the Nazis are on the horizon the men should just refuse to fight,
and instead go off to cloud cuckoo land with you and leave the women behind to learn
to speak German.

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By gerard, November 27, 2010 at 3:09 pm Link to this comment

One more word in self-defense:  Note the “women GENERALLY ...” in my previous post.  I would also ask what is the proportion of men to women in the Armed Services?  Like, if all those men (including in the Pentagon, wearing all those Christmas-tree suits) and all the “private contractors” were to simply “get a grip” and stop fighting ... yeah, if .....
  It’s doubly complicated by the fact that most of the weapons—not to raise a troublesome subject—call up images with sexual implications. “F… you!” blown up into mass murder.  Shall we talk “perverse” here?  What about condoms for cluster bombs?
  If the world is to survive, men have to come to terms with their responsibility for wars—whatever war wherever. War is primarily a masculine-oriented machine, and we are all at its mercy.  It will kill the human race if we let it.  So part of the “re-evaluation of values” has got to be understanding why men continue to fight wars and how can they be brought to understand the problem? And how to cut back on other massive violences like needless starvation and disease. In other words, how to glorify (and spend billions)on manufacturing
“weapons of mass compassion and understanding.”
  This is not an attack on men or a “battle of the sexes” but a plea that men take responsibility for what they are doing and allowing by catering to the war machine.  So don’t come back at me with being “sexist” or a “man-hater”. Women have their weaknesses, for sure, but GENERALLY they don’t kill people unless they’re being personally attacked—and even then…
  We’ll never find ways out of this mess unless men can end war as a system of domination and a way to steal resources and make money. This goes for all these Wall Street “warriors”, too, as they suck the blood out of Mother Nature’s veins and change it into “securities” and “trusts”.
  There is talk here and there about violence to stop violence.  Good luck, but I doubt it.  The transformation has to be a lot deeper than that.

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By REDHORSE, November 27, 2010 at 3:01 pm Link to this comment

ANARCISSIE: No, I mean ALL of us. Myself, Prins and Berman included.

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By Anarcissie, November 27, 2010 at 11:20 am Link to this comment

REDHORSE, November 26 at 7:12 pm:

‘... Like any drug/booze addled addict America needs a serious inventory of personal values and a major reality check. That’s “them”-“us”-“I”-“they”-“we”-“all” and “everyone”. ...’

If you need a ‘serious inventory of personal values and a major reality check’ why aren’t you off doing it, along with Nomi Prins and Morris Berman, instead of coming out here and lecturing us?

I have a sneaking suspicion that Prins and Berman and even perhaps you yourself, REDHORSE, do not actually mean ‘I’ or ‘we’ but ‘you’ and ‘they’.  But the you’s and they’s here and elsewhere already think they are in touch with reality and have wonderful personal values. 

The purpose of the book and the review seem to be to puff up the writer and his readers at the expense of some despised category of fatheads—a motive I can sympathize with, but whose execution is far better served by direct abuse than weaseling around with the we’s.

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By Ouroborus, November 27, 2010 at 11:15 am Link to this comment

By C.Curtis.Dillon, November 27 at 10:02 am Link to
this comment
Gerard:

One comment: Maggie Thatcher and the Falkland’s war! 
Power knows no difference between male and female.  A
woman in power is just as likely as a man to wage
war.  Need I point out Germany’s Merkel and
Afghanistan?  Women may be nurturing by their nature
but give them power and they are just as capable of
violence as any man.
=========================================
I would concur with your statement; I’ve never been
able to see much difference between men and women in
power.
Our recent examples would be Condi Rice and Hillary
Clinton; both scared the hell out of me!

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By C.Curtis.Dillon, November 27, 2010 at 5:02 am Link to this comment

Gerard:

One comment: Maggie Thatcher and the Falkland’s war!  Power knows no difference between male and female.  A woman in power is just as likely as a man to wage war.  Need I point out Germany’s Merkel and Afghanistan?  Women may be nurturing by their nature but give them power and they are just as capable of violence as any man.

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By G.Anderson, November 26, 2010 at 11:27 pm Link to this comment

Please, blaming either sex for where we are in this world is not productive, poverty is something both sexes share now share. Turning people into victims, has only resultued in cosmetic changes, when systematic changes are necessary.

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By Snick@1984, November 26, 2010 at 10:26 pm Link to this comment

Wow, really man? Feminism and females going into the workplace are what has brought about the ruin of our country? yeeah, that’s it. It’s hatred for a specific segment of the population like that that led to the Holocaust

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By gerard, November 26, 2010 at 10:23 pm Link to this comment

I must call to Gulam’s attention the fact that men are the war-makers, not women.  Men are the perennial advocates of violence and destruction under the guise of conquest, security, wealth, progress or some other abstract nonsense.

Women are generally protective and nurturing, whether they are working in a house, an office or a factory.  As people who bear children and care for relatives, generally speaking they are more likely to search for constructive solutions to problems. They are less qualified to fight physically, which makes them less likely to fight.

Women have been fully as responsible as men for bringing mercy, health and understanding into the world, whether they work in or out of their homes.
Women generally hate war and all its horrible lingering results.  They resent giving their sons and daughters to the “I’m stronger than you” war machine that maims and kills and causes hatred and a desire for revenge.  Wars are primarily men’s doings, sad to say.  Women wish men would give up acting as if force equals strength. 

Many women work at two-bit jobs outside their homes because the men related to them are gone, sick or not earning enough to keep the family minimally comfortable.

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By Gulam, November 26, 2010 at 9:29 pm Link to this comment

For the last half century a great many if not most of the best new jobs created
by the booming economy have gone to the wives of men who already had good
salaries and high social status. These double-income couples by their very
existence have diminished the prospects of a similar number of lower class
white and minority families who do not have one parent with a high-end
occupation, dramatically increasing the distance between the haves and the
have-nots. Working class women must go out to work, because high cast
women have taken away their husbands’ chances for a job good enough to
enable them to stay home with their children. In a nation with an incarceration
rate far higher than anywhere else on earth, many American women, especially
black ones, have husbands either in prison or out of work because they have a
prison record.

After the Second World War had Americans simply carried on with traditional
ways, no enemy could have touched them for generations. The oil that
Americans had under their own land would have lasted many decades longer
had it not been consumed in an orgy of material excess. Instead of following
the standard patriarchal model supported by of all of the world’s major
religions, modern capitalists chose, like their fellow materialists the
Communists, to use the Enlightenment rhetoric of liberation to rearrange the
social order. By women to work outside the home, putting them into the work
force, the West embarked upon an unstable course of continually increasing
consumption that could only be sustained by taking by force the resources of
the rest of the world. This made their need to dominate other nations
inevitable, their destruction of the environment was greatly accelerated, and
their family structures were undermined. Feminism is the key to bringing on
rapid decline; it opens he door to destruction.

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By John Steinsvold, November 26, 2010 at 8:56 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

An Alternative to Capitalism (PLEASE!)

The following link takes you to an essay titled: “Home of the Brave?” which was published by the Athenaeum Library of Philosophy:

http://evans-experientialism.freewebspace.com/steinsvold.htm

John Steinsvold

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By REDHORSE, November 26, 2010 at 6:56 pm Link to this comment

An obvious shift in American (and World) ecological/financial/social/political values is underway. The core problem is the inability of the American People(s) to access legislative representation with vision and sane moral principals. One hopes the Prins/Berman revelation that most of Obama’s campaign money came from the “Gold Sacks” thugs and other Wall Street players is jolt enough to make us wake up and smell the fascism.

      G.ANDERSONS stats tell the story. The looters, though they proclaim belief in free markets, produce nothing. In fact they’ve destroyed the greatest economy on Earth.

      The American Shadow is deep and ugly. But America is also in possession of great Light. Baboonus Washingtonus is an insane ape drowning in self-delusion. Its over. Lets not let the beast take us down with it.

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By berniem, November 26, 2010 at 3:20 pm Link to this comment

Sorry, but the only people who still cling to the delusion of American greatness and exceptionalism are spineless politicians, ignorant bigots and low-rent white supremacists(AKA conservatives), militarists, and the plutocrats who pull all the strings! Historically, this nation was a flash in the pan; a rock superstar that ODd after their third hit record. Let’s hope that something remains among the ashes to allow the rest of us to try and put Humpty together again!

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By mrfreeze, November 26, 2010 at 3:00 pm Link to this comment

Yesterday’s piece entitled “Thanksgiving Wars, No Thanks” inspired Fat Freddie (a frequent “contributor” to these threads) who stated, as clearly as I’ve ever seen, the reason why our empire is doomed to failure:

“...if they’ll grant me that these early Americans believed passionately in a common good and the promise of mutual assistance” (quote from essay)....

Freddie’s response:

“Mutual assistance? Of course, they did. But is it voluntary, or coerced, EJ? That’s the difference between individualism, and collectivism. Get it? If private individuals voluntarily contribute to the community, there’s no problem. It is when the community takes, without permission, from the individual. Taking something without permission, regardless of intent or justification, is theft. Why is that so hard for some people to understand?”

Fat Freddie’s notion that we are all being robbed (essentially by each other) here in the U.S. is “the” mental disorder that has been ingrained in our national consciousness. It has become the standard rallying cry of our culture: “If only I can be AN INDIVIDUAL, unfettered by that pesky government and by those terrible regulations. Oh don’t let me forget, MY NEIGHBORS are nothing but a bunch of free loaders and they are forcing me to be part of the community.

My dear friends, it’s obvious what has happened over the last 30/40 years: Average people have “bought into” the notion that “trying to be rich” (no matter the cost in debt, bankruptcy, over consumption,etc.) is the American Dream. We live in Satre’s “self-deception” so-much-so that we can’t stop our inevitable demise. Most Americans won’t even see it when it actually pulls the rug right out from under them. They will simply “blame” someone else.

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By dcrimso, November 26, 2010 at 2:37 pm Link to this comment

E. Cioran said something to the effect of become the best consumer you can be, because this system has a life of its own, and the only way to get to something different, was to force the system to its inevitable demise.

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By REDHORSE, November 26, 2010 at 2:12 pm Link to this comment

These first few comments have been enjoyable and insightful. And, I’m always glad to see N.Prins appear on TRUTHDIG. THANK YOU!!—-All I want for Christmas is a monthly N.Prins series on practical American financial reality. Pretty Pleeeeeezzze!!   

       
      Like any drug/booze addled addict America needs a serious inventory of personal values and a major reality check. That’s “them”-“us”-“I”-“they”-“we”-“all” and “everyone”. Americans have been beaten silly by a vicious machine that touts the brass ring promise of “life, liberty and—happiness” when most aren’t even in the game.


        Posters comments on the nature and diversity of the American demographic are spot on. That Obama was in fact a Wall Street shill when the entire Nation believed he was a voice for populist reason is smoking gun evidence that the Washington Machine and “We the people—” are two separate entities. “WE” are far from powerless but N.Prins and Mr. Bermans suggestion “WE” spend serious time in a redefinition of who “WE” are is sane, practical and necessary.

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By G.Anderson, November 26, 2010 at 2:06 pm Link to this comment

Endless excess? Really? Tell this to the 42 million people in this country that survive
on food stamps, the millions of children growing up in dire poverty, the aged living on
pet food. Did we forget them? No, the problem with America is that the wealthy, the
1%, who own this country, is that all they are concerned with is keeping their plutocracy
going, no matter what happens to the other 99%. Yes, they are bored watching the
poor struggle and die, because obviously their poverty is there own fault. They love to
jerk off their guilt, with endless discussion about what is wrong with this country,
avoiding the obvious, that it is they who are wrong with this country. The left loves to
create victims, that they cant exploit, as an absolution for their sins.  I am sure this
book will provide endless hours of mental masturbation, for those so inclined, in
comfortable settings, far, far from the cardboard boxes of the homeless.

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By gerard, November 26, 2010 at 2:01 pm Link to this comment

In my view:
  1. “We” are many (e pluribus unum) who, with the increases in complexity (racial, material, social) fell apart under the pressures of “rugged individualism” and a “competition” heavily weighted in the direction of money, to the exclusion of higher values like mutual understanding, sharing, cooperation, etc. 
  2. The final coup de grace was capitalism buying government which, in its effort to beat down competition of ideas and methods, has cut “the public” loose, renighued on its responsibility and severed access so that the financial/political world is inaccessible to the masses, and does not, cannot change itself.  It has forgotten how, if it ever knew.  It is self-absorbed.
  3. Among “average” (lower/middle class) Americans the spirit of cooperation and compassion is generally high unless propagandized into vicious class war.  By far the majority of individuals tend to help others, behave as human beings, and try to do their best according to shared religio-democratic indoctrination from parents and schools.
  4. I feel it is vitally necessary to break the “bubble” surrounding, protecting and caging what is often called the “elite” world (gated community) of fools whose power is inordinate and whose behavior is purely destructive others, and of the earth. My hope and prayer is that this “reconstitution” can be done without violence, by finding and using a new “social technology” that reaches through the bars, into this prison of “the financial elect” and recall these oligarchs in business and government to a sense of mutuality with the poorest beggar on the city streets.
  5.  This is a call to healers, not to soldiers.

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By Skip Wenz, November 26, 2010 at 1:55 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

America has been in a state of decline for several decades, due in part to the
moral contradictions of materialism versus idealism. All states of decline
progress along an accelerating curve. Decline starts slowly, sometimes
imperceptibly, then gradually accelerates until, at the end, it speeds along
unabated.

Those of us on the left could clearly see the approach of the Death of Empire in
the 1960s — there were even songs about it. America has managed to wobble
along since then, getting farther and farther into debt, increasingly replacing
political discourse with entertainment until the two have become
indistinguishable, undermining the middle class. The wobble accelerated with
the temporary right-wing takeover in the 2000 election, then became more
erratic with the crash of 2008-09.

Now, after the 2010 election, the lunatics are firmly entrenched in the asylum,
and the center can no longer hold. Expect accelerated chaos.

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By keeperofthefire, November 26, 2010 at 1:12 pm Link to this comment

this 60s hippi activist/back to the lander was a part of a movement that(without the internet& its years of endless&useless; talking about how f;d up our system of gov is,and how the majority of citizens are asleep at the wheel)unlike your selves we by the millions actually did something about the madness by rejecting the “american way”&dropping; totally out by simply stopping being a shop till you drop collecters of useless junk and living the simpler life,growing our own food,fixing our own cars,building our own homes,burning credit cards,using the barter system,heating our homes with wood we cut ourselves& guess what if 50%of citizens could try to change their lives this way,we could bring this evil/greedy/violent system to its knees!!!!what do you folks think of this simple way to begin to change this insane system?if i can manage to “drop out” for 44yrs anyone can!!!

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By Hammond Eggs, November 26, 2010 at 12:27 pm Link to this comment

” . . . as Berman writes, “there is no forcing things to make sense: either they do or they don’t, and there is no guarantee that they will.”

The results of the recent election prove that, in this nation, things don’t make sense.  A nation eviscerated by the Republicans (and the Democrats) returns the Republicans to power a mere two years later.  That is the point where insanity and stupidity intersect.

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By Anarcissie, November 26, 2010 at 12:13 pm Link to this comment

Nomi Prins:
’... So, the only possible strategy for any kind of national redemption is to reassess our core values and original construction. There’s no easy way to achieve that. Still, any hope of resurrecting ourselves as a nation begins with a keener awareness of who we really are and why, and to that end, Berman’s book of essays will inspire much-needed introspection.’

Looks like we have another serious case of the we’s here.  I imagine the book is like the review.

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By Ouroborus, November 26, 2010 at 11:23 am Link to this comment

As expected from the below commenters; good comments
all.
Prins is quite excellent in her analysis of American
materialism. And I do agree with “NYCartist” we
comment regarding “Howard Zinn’s point that the
interest of the gov’t and the interests of we, the
individual citizens are not the same.”
I do think “we” are guilty of gross materialism; the
result, no doubt, of sheep like behavior and a lack
of developed critical thinking skills.
Like John le Carre, I am horrified at the behavior of
the U.S. government in the name of the U.S. citizens;
for which they should be held fully accountable.
But we all know that’s not going to happen.

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By Arabian Sinbad, November 26, 2010 at 11:02 am Link to this comment

When I landed on the shores of America thirty years ago, I was first struck by what I called then the “glitter of materialism.” Though a little disturbed at what I felt as “not all that glitters is gold,” I continued to look positively at the so-called great American democracy, thinking that I can pick and choose the positives and discard the negatives about America and its values. However, as I started to experience and observe firsthand the results of America’s political-military arrogance and wrongs around the world, and the Wall Street tight grab on the economics of America, I became disillusioned and realized that coming to America was more than I bargained for.

In fact, I am now working on writing a book about my experiences in America which I will entitle “More Than I Bargained For!” I am sure I will be quoting lots of intellectuals who were ahead of their times in exposing the wrongs of the American system and values, such as Noam Chomsky,Zinn,Robert Fisk, Chalmers Johnson,Chris Hedges, Michael Moore, Amy Goodman and others!

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By NYCartist, November 26, 2010 at 9:28 am Link to this comment

Am a big admirer of Nomi Prins’ work.  I do take issue with the concept of “we” when writing/discussing the U.S. (and concept of “national character” for me is silly).  Howard Zinn’s point that the interest of the gov’t and the interests of we, the individual citizens are not the same.  That the gov’t policies further consumerism as a way of managing the economy and then flip blame onto “We, the people” doesn’t “work” for me.  “We” are many diverse groups, overlapping in the U.S.  The concepts listed in the review imply that the populace is middleincome,etc.  There are lots of poor people…

  Militarism, imperialism is gov’t policy.  As Zinn and Chomsky pointed out, the majority of people in the U.S. support policies that are fair in re the poor, peace, environment, etc.  That the gov’t ignores the will of the people is termed
“democracy gap” by Chomsky.

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