[Marxism] Morris Berman?
lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Mar 9 07:09:25 MST 2012
This guy's new book "Why America Failed" has garnered a lot of
favorable buzz on the left. This interview with him by Nomi Prins
on Alternet has an exchange that makes me wonder why:
NP: Most political analysts place the blame for our current
situation on major institutions, whether it is Wall Street,
Congress, the Bush or Obama administrations, and so on. You agree
with them to a great extent, but you also seem to place a lot of
emphasis on the American people themselves—on individual values
and behavior. Why is that? How do you see that as a factor?
MB: The dominant thinking on the left, I suppose, is some variety
of a “false consciousness” argument, that the elite have pulled
the wool over the eyes of the vast majority of the population, and
once the latter realizes that they’ve been had, they’ll rebel,
they’ll move the country in a populist or democratic socialist
direction. The problem I have with this is the evident fact that
most Americans want the American Dream, not a different way of
life—a Mercedes-Benz, as Janis Joplin once put it. Endless
material wealth based on individual striving is the American
ideal, and the desire to change that paradigm is practically
nonexistent. Even the poor buy into this, which is why John
Steinbeck once remarked that they regard themselves as
“temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” Hence I would argue that
nations get the governments they deserve; that the wool is the eyes.
In addition, all of the data over the last 20 years show that
Americans are not very bright, and not even the bright ones are
very bright—it’s not merely a question of IQ. A Marist poll
released on July 4, 2011 showed that 42 percent of American adults
are unaware that the U.S. declared its independence in 1776, and
this figure increases to 69 percent for the under-30 age group.
Twenty-five percent of Americans don’t know from which country the
United States seceded. A poll taken in the Oklahoma public school
system turned up the fact that 77 percent of the students didn’t
know who George Washington was, and the Texas Board of Education
recently voted to include a unit on Estee Lauder in the history
curriculum, when they don’t have one on the first president.
Nearly 30 percent of the American population thinks the sun
revolves around the earth or is unsure of which revolves around
which. Etc. etc. How can such a population grasp a structural
analysis of American history or politics? They simply aren’t
capable of it.
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