January 17, 2018

320

Well, Waferinos, it's time to start a new thread. Problem: my cranium is as empty as Bush Jr.'s. I can hear the wind whistling between my ears. I keep biding my time, waiting for a foreign Suez Moment (fSM), but thus far Trumpi has yet to generate another, hopefully more outrageous, shitholegate. Jesus, what's a weary declinist to do?

Anyway, coming off the last thread, I like the idea of Wafers forming face-to-face meeting groups, such as we've done at the NY Wafer Summit(s), and plotting the coup de grace, whereupon (to quote the ever-prescient Benjamin Rush) the nation will implode in "an orgy of selfishness." Said orgy is, in fact, going on in slo-mo; it only accelerates when Wal-Mart has a sale, and you can see what The End will look like up close. I keep waiting for some Jesus-like figure holding up a sign in the midst of one of those events, and crying, "Kill! Kill your neighbor! That's it! The meek won't inherit shit!" Weren't a bunch of people recently arrested for feeding the homeless? That's the spirit!

We have strayed so far from anything decent. Apparently, a group of black women met with Obama shortly after his inauguration...

https://www.rawstory.com/2013/01/noam-chomsky-blasts-obama-he-has-no-moral-center/

But this could apply to practically any major political figure today, really. Once, the US was drifting. Now, it's just circling the drain.

-mb

January 08, 2018

Oprah-Riggins in 2020!

Well, Wafers, what can I say? The US is circling the drain in a race to the bottom. Absurdity is the touchstone of the final days of an empire. A country filled with horses' asses can only generate horse's-ass politics, and can only put horses' asses in the White House. Where is Joe the Plumber when we need him?

I've been reading Fellini's autobiography. He records several instances of meeting with American producers to obtain financing for various films. In most cases, they would have him come to their hotel rooms in Rome, greet him in their underwear, with a glass of Scotch in one hand and a telephone in the other (talking to Tokyo or whatever), wheeling and dealing. They had no interest in cinema or art; they were vulgar hustlers, nothing more. All of this dates from the 70s, or earlier. Fellini doesn't comment on any of this, he just reports it. The difference from European producers couldn't be more stark.

I would ask: How did we manage to produce such a garbage culture?, but I think I've already answered that. Anyway, Onward Toward Self-Destruction!

-mb

December 24, 2017

Ho Ho Ho

Well, Waferinos, Merry Xmas! May this year be filled with pastrami, corned beef, matzo ball soup, cole slaw with Russian dressing, dill pickles, and Cel-Ray tonic.

Right now, 2018 is more or less a blank slate for me. I have to give a lecture in Merida in March, and will visit friends in Ireland and England in October. But of course, I am looking forward to what Trumpi will do, and can only hope it will be extremely damaging. Which is likely, as we all know. 2017 was a bumper year for him screwing the country, and 2018 could well be even more horrific. Maybe we will nuke Toronto and Paris after all, as I've been urging the Pentagon to do. Hey, a man can dream.

Kim Jong-un's haircut continues to look absurd, and for that alone, North Korea also needs to be nuked.

Anyway, Wafers are marching ahead, 173 strong, showing the remaining 325 million what a real life is like. To all of you, comrades in arms, the best to us in 2018.

L'Chaim!

-mb

December 16, 2017

As the World Turns

This was the title of a soap opera that ran on CBS for 54 years. Since about a year ago, it has seemed to many of us that we are living in a soap opera; that everything has gotten overblown, exaggerated, unreal. There is, after all, no thinking process going on within the head of Trump; he gets captured by some emotion, or impulse, and runs with it. One only hopes that this “limbic” mode of relating to the world won’t be operative in the case of a nuclear war with North Korea, but at this point, who knows?

As 2017 winds down, and we are faced with another year of soap opera “reality,” it might be good to speculate on what’s coming down the pike. As far as America goes, the answer is simple: cultural suicide. You’ve got people fucking vans and rioting over incorrect cheeseburger orders; others running around with pussy hats and actually believing that this activity amounts to confronting power; a tax bill that will make a lopsided distribution of wealth even more lopsided; progressives urging revolution and others thinking that identity politics is the answer; an epidemic of opiate use, in addition to widespread alcoholism and suicide; and the militarization of police forces around the country. And this is only a partial list. We are fucked, and there just is no way out.

I have proposed “Dual Process” as a portrait of what is happening (see AWTY, last essay): that concomitant with the disintegration of capitalism, alternative experiments are arising to fill in the resultant gaps. Such experiments are especially rife in countries suffering from austerity programs, such as Japan, Spain, Greece, and Portugal. And along with this, the growth of secessionist movements, such as we see in Scotland, Catalonia, and parts of the United States (something I predicted in 1981). One hopes that all of this will get stronger over time, but in the case of the US, the whole ideology of “Me, Myself, and I” is so deeply entrenched, that it is unlikely these things will take place in a serious way. The temptations of “greenwashing,” for example—adopting the symbols and language of green politics while retaining the ideology of economic expansion—are very hard to resist.

Meanwhile, on the world stage, it is clear that the US is finished, or shortly will be. Even internal intelligence memos say this, that China is rising and that there is no way to resist it. When England was eclipsed, at least it had the US to fall back on. We have no one, and it’s likely that most nations of the world will be happy to see us go. Even our allies know we are jerks; Trump is merely the outward manifestation of this (like a sacrament, noir version). Mr. Putin would love for Russia to relive its former imperial glory, be a major player on the world stage; but I suspect the nation is no match for Chinese hegemony.

One diplomat recently argued that America vs. Europe is repeating the drama of the Western vs. Eastern wing of the decaying Roman Empire. America will simply collapse, he said, and become irrelevant, while Europe will morph into some version of the Byzantine world. That is, it will neither be a success nor a failure; it will just limp along. And yet, within that structure, citizens will be able to lead modest and reasonable lives.

But getting back to China: check out my Preface to the Mandarin edition of WAF, archived on this blog. I was frankly amazed that it escaped censure, because I predicted that China would copy the American model of expansion, of cultivating economic colonies around the globe. It is now the world’s largest economy, and President Xi hardly shows any tendency toward restraint, or toward the marginalized alternative tradition I discuss in WAF. All of this will put an enormous strain on planetary resources, and the ignoring of this, and the disregard of climate change, can only pour oil on the ecological fire we are currently caught up in. In any case, the geopolitical situation is one of horror vacui, and as the collapse of America will leave an open hole in the world system, China clearly intends to fill that empty space. I suspect it will.

In the Twilight book, I discuss E.M. Forster’s notion of an “elite”—not, he says, an aristocracy of money or power, but an elite of integrity, of right intentions. People like John Ruskin or Gandhi stand out in my mind as representative of such movements; as Wafers, it is what all of us on this blog aspire to (which is why the blog has evoked such rabid animosity—the “existential strain” I have written about in the past). Despite every attempt in the past to corral such people, to trap them in some form of institutionalization, they always slip through the net, and go free. They resist definition, and yet when you run across one of these folks, you know it. It is folks like these who are best equipped to carry out the positive side of Dual Process, but it would seem that neither the US or China are very interested in what they have to offer. After all, they often choose to point out the down sides of modernization, and nations bent on hustling aren’t going to be receptive to this message. Here again, the “Byzantine” model of Europe may be the most likely place for such people, and such movements, to flourish.

On a world scale, the next 30 or 40 years are going to be rather hellish. As I have often said, you don’t get history for free. Hegel declared that it was a slaughter bench. The point is, you don’t transition out of an enormous world system that has been with you for centuries, overnight, and with relative ease. The collapse of Rome was a nightmare, as was the implosion of the feudal system in Europe. Capitalism is hardly going to escape the same fate; it may even be worse. What lies on the far side of this transition is anybody’s guess. Huxley agreed with Forster, but (like Ray Bradbury) predicted that this Ruskinesque “elite” would have to live on the margins of the dominant culture, whatever that culture might be. “Communities of the abandoned,” Ernest Becker called them, and said that when a person gets to the point of seeing the emptiness of the dominant culture, he or she is then confronted with the question of the meaning of life. American and Chinese (and European and Latin American) consumerism is designed to keep people from asking that question. But, he suggested, such an awareness might just be a new form of religious consciousness, one that could make it possible for us to survive as a race. There are attendant evils on this, of course: the fascism of New Age cults, for example. But all this elite can do, is its best, hoping it will be good enough.

As for Wafers, our motto is something along the lines of “Virtue is its own reward.” (Ruskin: “There is no wealth but life.”) Gandhi once said, “People ask me what is my message. I have no message. My life is my message.”

December 04, 2017

Hell Bent on Disaster

Wafers-

Nothing like a dramatic (but correct) title to usher in the new year. The passage of the GOP tax bill is giving Americans what they have endorsed since 1945: extreme individualism, the "endless frontier," the "religion" of America, hustling, competition, and empire. And of course, very little kindness; very few breaks for the less fortunate. So now, we are reaping what we sowed, namely being ground into the dirt. Yes, we certainly are a City on the Hill, a model for all nations to follow!

Me, I'm throwing a New Year's party at my apartment in Mexico City. At midnight, we shall all look North, shake our heads, and sigh.

One thing I can assure you: 2018 will be worse. "How long, O Cataline, will you abuse our patience?" (Cicero)

-mb

November 22, 2017

Pardoning Turkeys

Well, Trumpi pardoned a turkey. A wonderful thing, to be sure. But what about the 325 million or so other turkeys, walking the streets of our fair nation, and shopping their eyeballs out? Shouldn't they receive a pardon as well? Our Leader has been conspicuously silent about that.

And so, as we careen toward Thanksgiving and Xmas and the New Year, and contemplate our fellow Americans trying to stuff the emptiness in their lives with Wal-Mart, let us look ahead to 2018, and the foolishness that awaits us in the coming year.

I wish you all a fabulous Waferian holiday season, one filled with great inner joy.

-mb