2006-07-15

EMPIRE DIMMING 'Dark Ages America-the final phase of empire' - Morris Berman

Sent: July 02, 2006

“The abuse of buying and selling votes crept in and money began to play an important part in determining elections. Later on, this process of corruption spread to the law courts. And then to the army, and finally the Republic was subjected to the rule of emperors.”
– Plutarch, Historian of the Roman Republic

If you plan to be around in 2030, or so (by the grace of Dame Fortune, I plan to be adorning an urn on some relative's mantel by then; a mere 88-year old ash of my former self), the books reviewed in this post are required reading. You simply must take the time to read Berman, Chalmers, and a half-dozen others in order to prepare yourselves for the very different future that will soon be upon us; soon being 20 to 30 years from now.

Like Kunzler's "The Long Emergency" (previously posted – about our post-cheap oil lifestyles) and "Sorrows of Empire," (link below), these books are essential as they serve as crude road maps to help prepare and guide you through the onrushing (as in runaway freight train), cataclysmic changes I believe are coming to this most hubristic and disassociated of nations.

''Dark Ages America: The Final Phase of Empire" - reviews & interviews http://morrisberman.blogspot.com/

(contains three mp3 interviews: w/ Leon Charney 59 mins * w/Leonard Lopate 32 mins * w/ Michael Krasny 52 mins)

(as conversations are wont to do, all three pursue entirely different directions and focus - lots of damning new info here)

(start at the 10-minute mark of the Charney interview, unless you have an abiding interest in Yiddish traditions)

and this from Gore Vidal in TruthDig (emphases added NjW)

While contemplating the ill-starred presidency of G.W. Bush, I looked about for some sort of divine analogy. As usual, when in need of enlightenment, I fell upon the Holy Bible, authorized King James version of 1611; turning by chance to the Book of Jonah, I read that Jonah, who, like Bush, chats with God, had suffered a falling out with the Almighty and thus became a jinx dogged by luck so bad that a cruise liner, thanks to his presence aboard, was about to sink in a storm at sea. Once the crew had determined that Jonah, a passenger, was the jinx, they threw him overboard and—Lo!—the storm abated. The three days and nights he subsequently spent in the belly of a nauseous whale must have seemed like a serious jinx to the digestion-challenged whale who extruded him much as the decent opinion of mankind has done to Bush…

Not since the glory days of Watergate and Nixon’s Luciferian fall has there been so much written about the dogged deceits and creative criminalities of our rulers. We have also come to a point in this dark age where there is not only no hero in view but no alternative road unblocked…

I have read many of these descriptions of our fallen estate, looking for one that best describes in plain English how we got to this now and where we appear to be headed once our good Earth has been consumed and only Rapture is left to whisk aloft the Faithful. Meanwhile, the rest of us can learn quite a lot from “Dark Ages America: The Final Phase of Empire” by Morris Berman, a professor of sociology at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C…

Berman sets his scene briskly in recent history. “We were already in our twilight phase when Ronald Reagan, with all the insight of an ostrich, declared it to be ‘morning in America’; twenty-odd years later, under the ‘boy emperor’ George W. Bush (as Chalmers Johnson refers to him), we have entered the Dark Ages in earnest, pursuing a short-sighted path that can only accelerate our decline. For what we are now seeing are the obvious characteristics of the West after the fall of Rome: the triumph of religion over reason; the atrophy of education and critical thinking; the integration of religion, the state, and the apparatus of torture—a troika that was for Voltaire the central horror of the pre-Enlightenment world; and the political and economic marginalization of our culture…. The British historian Charles Freeman published an extended discussion of the transition that took place during the late Roman empire, the title of which could serve as a capsule summary of our current president: "The Closing of the Western Mind." Mr. Bush, God knows, is no Augustine; but Freeman points to the latter as the epitome of a more general process that was underway in the fourth century: namely, ‘the gradual subjection of reason to faith and authority.’ This is what we are seeing today, and it is a process that no society can undergo and still remain free. Yet it is a process of which administration officials, along with much of the American population, are aggressively proud.” In fact, close observers of this odd presidency note that Bush, like his evangelical base, believes he is on a mission from God and that faith trumps empirical evidence. Berman quotes a senior White House adviser who disdains what he calls the “reality-based” community, to which Berman sensibly responds: “If a nation is unable to perceive reality correctly, and persists in operating on the basis of faith-based delusions, its ability to hold its own in the world is pretty much foreclosed.”…

The final dire warning from this troika of deep thinkers comes from Chalmers Johnson, whose 2004 book, “Sorrows of Empire” mirrors the metaphorical device used by Professor Berman: the decline of the Roman Empire after Julius Caesar. More on this signal work in a future post.

DN interview – 7 minutes http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=04/05/26/150229

Review and interviews http://www.americanempireproject.com/bookpage.asp?ISBN=0805077979

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