The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

On Stratfor

Wikileaks has dumped a bunch of internal Stratfor documents, which they presumably received from Anonymous.  Years ago I used to read Stratfor’s briefs.  After a while I stopped, because their economic analysis was absolutely awful, straight up cookie cutter consensus macro, which missed the important events.  Since Stratfor’s briefs were supposed to give insight into what was going to happen, and since they were wrong about something so important, I decided they weren’t worth reading except as a gloss on what a certain part of the foreign policy establishment was thinking (the guys who think they’re cowboys.)

I think that Michael Brenner’a appraisal of Stratfor themselves, that they’re a immature, unprofessional and hustlers is true.  The incredulity, reading them, is “people pay for this?”

Which leads to the question of how much of worth there is in the files.  The main problem isn’t whether the files are really from Stratfor, I believe they are, the problem is that Stratfor seems somewhat clueless.  So, for example, if true, that Russia and Israel sold out those who bought military equipment from them is fascinating and important:

According to the leaked document, Israel gave Russia the “data link codes” for unmanned aerial vehicles that the Jewish state sold to Georgia, and in return, Russia gave Israel the codes for Tor-M1 missile defense systems that Russia sold Iran.

I’m inclined to believe it, but really, who knows.  I should add that countries who are serious about their defence, really should make their own equipment if they can.


Justified Pessimism


It is in blood that empires, like humans, are born, it is in blood that they die (reprint)


  1. Celsius 233

    Damn; I’m pissed the Ruskies wouldn’t sell Iran the S-300, which even the U.S. fears facing.
    But then, this goes to a far larger issue; that of the right to self defense.
    You are so correct;
    “I should add that countries who are serious about their defence, really should make their own equipment if they can.”
    Unfortunately; that’s not realistic in today’s world; with the exception of about 6 countries (China, US, Russia, Israel, India, and possibly France and/or Sweden).
    Reality sucks…

  2. par4

    @Celsius233; Don’t forget Germany.

  3. Celsius 233

    par4 PERMALINK
    February 29, 2012
    @Celsius233; Don’t forget Germany.

    Yup, I did; but my guess is their system is U.S. built; Germany is concentrating on financials (and possibly manufacturing) as their next conquest. They already have the manufacturing part.

  4. Kevin

    So basically Stratfor are the mall cops of the intelligence community?

  5. @Celsius 233

    Realistically there are only five major tech trees that can deliver high end military tech, and a couple of off-shoots/emerging tech trees.

    US is the motherlode here — if someone wants it, they can get it for a price.

    European NATO
    UK can build their own submarines, reactors, guided missiles, major surface combatants, heavy ground combat vehicles, but they rely on other NATO partners for key capabilities. Germany and Netherlands have key high end electronics, as well as surface and subsurface combatants, but they round out capabilities with US and joint purchases.

    France — a meld of local tech and interoperability with US/NATO tech, with minimal rounding out (E-3/E-2, catapults etc)

    Russian — mirrors a decent chunk of the US/NATO/French tech trees but often at a lower levle of sophistication, and much lower prices. Industrial complex is running down (see the Mistral purchase) but if you want, they can sell something like what you want.

    China — an offshoot of the Russian tech tree that is melding both indigenous development and European technology.

    Those are the major tech trees. Then you have tinkerers/melders such as Israel and Sweden that will produce a lot of local designs that have key components being foreign (jet engines are the most notable).

    India is an emerging tech tree that is melding Russian, British, French and some American systems.

  6. Morocco Bama

    It’s essentially fast food unintelligence. Which means it’s ubiquitous shit. Let’s be realistic. REAL intelligence is not available to us. We are left to read between the lines of past and current events and extrapolate. We will never have access to juicy savory material. A commenter on another forum had this to say about it, and I share the sentiment:

    I can imagine Wikileaks is in a dire financial situation since Paypal/Visa/Mastercard have blocked their account, so they have too “sell” the stuff they can put their hands on as if it was each time revolutionary groundbreaking exclusive top secret blabla news , similar way Nasa has to find water/plants/martians/whatever on Mars every year to get new funds approvals from congress 🙂

  7. Celsius 233

    Dave Anderson PERMALINK
    February 29, 2012
    @Celsius 233
    Realistically there are only five major tech trees that can deliver high end military tech, and a couple of off-shoots/emerging tech trees.

    Wow, thanks for that! That’s a very interesting run-down of the current status quo; from wence comes the info?
    Cheers Dave…

  8. Juan Cole has some commentary, link. The Pakistani betrayal is especially troubling, though not exactly surprising.

    But isn’t “immature, unprofessional and hustlers” the description of much of US intelligence? It’s the Mayberry Machiavellis in other jobs. It’s not like the CIA does all that much better. They’ve got good field people, and good technical staff. But their politicized senior staff takes what their field technical people give them, and turn it into shit.

    …or perhaps this is most secret agencies, throughout history.

  9. Ian Welsh

    There’s some key stuff made by various parts of the alliances. For example, Canada makes the cruise missiles (a fact that could be used to ramp us up to deterrent capacity very quickly.)

    The problem with the US is that unless you have a lot of domestic clout, if you buy from them, then have an actual war, there’s a good chance they’ll cut off the parts/munitions. No matter how good the gear, if you can’t repair it or get ammo for it, it becomes crap pretty damn quickly.

  10. Stormcrow

    Not actually Pat Lang, Ian. The piece was by Michael Brenner.

    Not that this detracts from its accuracy. It nicely focused all the things that have made me uneasy about George Friedman’s work over the last few years. In particular, The Next 100 Years, which I simply could not continue reading past the first hundred pages. It was the mental equivalent of trying to eat sawdust.

    Read the comments. They’re just as devastating as the lead post.

  11. Stormcrow

    The problem with the US is that unless you have a lot of domestic clout, if you buy from them, then have an actual war, there’s a good chance they’ll cut off the parts/munitions. No matter how good the gear, if you can’t repair it or get ammo for it, it becomes crap pretty damn quickly.

    That’s a common problem with all external arms exporting nation-states, not the US exclusively.

    Remember what happened to Argentina’s supply of French-supplied Exocets and Super Étendards when the Falkland War broke out? France cut them off. What the Argentines did, with what they had, was remarkable, but they were essentially raising on a busted flush.

    France (along with almost everybody else) prevented Iraq from replacing the Osirak facility after the Israelis air-struck it: there was a full-scale conventional war going on between Iraq and Iran by that time, and nobody particularly wanted to see this escalate into a regional nuclear war.

    In the 1950s and early 1960s, the PLA had the mind-boggling habit of ripping out the as-shipped avionics from the MIG-17s they got from the USSR, and replacing it with their own. Apparently, they didn’t trust the USSR to keep them in spare parts if a shooting war broke out.

    I could go on.

    Bottom line is, you can’t trust an external sovereign-state arms supplier for one minute, past the point where your aims diverge from theirs.

  12. Ian Welsh

    Thanks Stormcrow, fixed.

  13. Which leads to the question of how much of worth there is in the files.

    There is a lot of worth in the files. The kind where you say: “Someone pays for this shit?” I mean the clowns at Stratfor thought T-Paw and Michele Bachmann were serious contenders for the GOP nomination. Curdled milk has more charisma than T-Paw.

  14. @Celsius — the tech tree information is open source — the easiest way to pick things up is to scan arms sales competition headlines and take notes of which countries are entering systems for consideration.

    For example — the recent Brazil multi-role fighter jet (won by the French Rafale) had early round contenders from the US, UK/Rest of NATO, France, Sweden (with significant US content) and at least an expression of interest from Russia.

  15. Celsius 233

    Dave Anderson PERMALINK
    March 1, 2012

    Thanks Dave.
    The arms game is just insuring we are in a perpetual state of war. It’s just too obvious to miss; yet the public is kept off balance just enough to perpetuate the game.

  16. Morocco Bama

    Yeah, they have us caught between a rock and hard place. You take away the arms manufacturing and economies come crashing down precipitously rather than in slow motion. Ultimately, we know it has to happen….the collapse that is, but it would be better if it could be directed by “we the people” rather than bu a select few who envision a new world without us.

  17. ” The incredulity, reading them, is “people pay for this?” ”

    Well, not with their own money. When the government works with these people, often enough it’s our money. When it’s companies, it often still is our money, as it seems a lot of those companies were being fed by our tax dollars. I was reading recently that Booz Allen has laid off a number of mid- and senior-level managers to cut overhead now that Federal funding is drying up a bit. When the money was flowing, they were happy to tack on extra overhead, as the cost would be footed by the government – IE, us.

    Something tells me there’s a lot more money being wasted by warfare queens than by welfare queens.

    As for why anyone takes them seriously – well, I think it dovetails nicely with your Fukuyama post. Be it George Friedman or Thomas Friedman, Nicholas Kristof or Charles Krauthammer, we have held up ignorant fools as geopolitical experts. These are people that not only lack the capacity to analyze the situation, they usually don’t know – and are often even contemptuous of – the facts. This mind set is prevalent in academia, where many international relations classes prefer to approach the geopolitical situation not as a scientist but rather as a literary critic.

    There are many intelligent and informed individuals out there, but they usually get much less attention. This is because it’s much more fun for some to read the equivalent of an adventure novel than the equivalent of an encyclopedia.

  18. Morocco Bama

    Despite his particular brand of politics, what he said…emphatically. Notice the looks of incredulity from the other members.

    Nigel Farage- Unelected Puppet Papademos

    Farage: What gives you the right to dictate to the Greek and Italian people?

    ‘Who the Hell You Think You Are?’ Nigel Farage throws egg in Eurocrat faces

    Nigel Farage: Greece under Commission-ECB-IMF Dictatorship

    Honesty like this makes Stratfor look like the steaming pile of bullshit it is.

  19. darms

    S-300 Wikipedia:
    Key sentence – “The S-300 was jointly produced by Almaz with Samsung Group of South Korea since 1993”

    Those very same Samsung fuckers have a state subsidized memory chip plant in Round Rock, TX paying minimum wage. It’s past time for the machine to stop.

  20. Morocco Bama

    Ha, Deep In The Heart of Texas…..presumably the most conservative and isolationist of all states, and here it’s building South Korean memory chips for Russian missiles. This is how the game is played these days, and this is why I say that Global Capital is loyal to each other, not to the rest of us. Nation-States are a ruse for Arms Sales at the expense of the “Little People.” Yes, it’s time to put a stop to the machine….and that machine is worldwide and supersedes any notion of a Nation-State.

  21. Isn’t the US capability to manufacture its own defense eroding, just like its capability to manufacture anything else?

  22. stevo67

    Wow. Went to and read the blurb about George Friedman’s speculation that China will not be a superpower this century. What. A. Fucking. Moron.

    Please tell me he’s not related to Tom “the moustache of wisdom” Friedman, because if they’re family I hope their wives are using birth control.

  23. Morocco Bama

    Ummm…….George and you both have it wrong. By the end of this century, in fact well before the end of it, the notion of Superpower will be an anachronism relegated to the obscurity of history so long as there is still a human species. Even if there still is a human species, the notion of a Superpower will be as the notion of the Black Hand is to us now.

  24. Formerly T-Bear

    Yesterday (Tuesday 6 March) AlJazeera had this about Stratfor from Mark LeVine:

    Stratfor and geopolitical instruments of our demise
    The privatisation of intelligence procurement has led to the rise of Stratfor, as recently leaked emails reveal.

    One comment stood out:

    Strategic ignorance

    Indeed, strategic ignorance was perhaps more important than strategic intelligence – getting people to avoid understanding or exploring, or even thinking about the consequences of their actions enabled the larger system to run guilt-free.

    Why does that hold no surprises?

  25. Formerly T-Bear

    Another note. Just getting started with Nissim Nicholas Taleb’s “The Black Swan, The Impact of the Highly Improbable” (ISBN 978-0-1410-3459-1). In the first chapter, Taleb points out that history is opaque, whilst living through historical episodes, it is impossible to predict what information is important and what isn’t; that information is, to paraphrase the famously written description of evil – banal, for predictive purposes. Only in hindsight do selective “particles” of information fit together to comprise a narrative; those “particles” cannot easily be identified contemporaneously with their happening. A point that should not be lost sight of when considering the works of allegedly “intelligence” industries.

  26. Celsius 233

    @ Formerly T-Bear
    March 7, 2012
    Here’s a link to a “Black Swan Glossary” from Wikipedia;

    Thought you might be interested.


  27. Celsius 233

    @ Formerly T-Bear
    Forgot; I listened to DeVine’s Al Jazeera piece; nice catch, thanks.

  28. groo

    friends, I sense some sort of exhaustion on the side of our valued host.
    On my side, on my compagnion commenters.

    To endlessly repeat like a broken record is not a worthy thing to do for any sensible person, right?

    We all see the prpblem from slightly different angles, but if integrated, the picture with all the pointillistic dots describe the scene quite correctly.
    (I’m no friend of postmodernist construction of ‘reality’. Reality bites. I think we agree on that.)

    The dark heart of all that is located in the US, which long has infected the western way, which has virtualized ‘property’, including IP.
    Because real assets less and less out for the grab, more and more absurd claims are made, like with Apple.
    In a sense, Apple is the culmination of all that.
    No wonder that they are the most valuable company on the planet.
    Why that? Because the geeky middle class stabilizes the system for some time, until it implodes by its inner vacuum.

    On a broader scale, Morris Berman nailed it:
    ‘Why America failed’.
    This is a book presentation, and I’m impressed.

    Maybe there is a rush now about who states the obvious best.

    MB goes down to the ontological basis of the US, and diagnoses it as deeply pathological, and criticizes eg Chomsky and Moore of not recognizing the essence.

    Interestingly enough he cites Hegel’s concept of ‘negative identity’, which defines itself by an imagined enemy.
    On everything else it is empty.
    Remember CG Jung’s conception of the shadow.

    This is very frightening, if true, and I have not many arguments, that this is not so.

    This nicely blends with George Carlin ,who recognized this insanity early on.

    Sometimes I am inclined to just escape into another universe in the buddhist way.

    But why should we do that?
    If it is false in THIS universe, it is false in the other, considered, that the logic is the same.
    Buddhist circularity of time and rebirth wo’nt save us from that.


    My fustration has reached dangerous levels.

  29. @groo –

    I’m about halfway through Berman’s talk (thanks for the link). I shall continue, but I thought I’d jump in here, given your take.

    This all goes back to the contentious fights we had a few threads back here over identity – who’s “American” and all of that. While it is true that a large sector of the American public – arguably a predominant one – is nationalistic enough to cling to the “negative identity” that collectively defines us, I have to go back to the idea that this is not an immutable condition.

    As many of us here (not all) are mature enough not to reactively defend our “country, right or wrong” – which is the poison that gives life to self-identification through the shadow “other” – then I say such the grip this has on us – this American “DNA” – is a tenuous one, regardless of its historical pedigree.

    Many of us, including those who are not yet aware of the grip that our cultural narrative has upon us, share the frustration that you articulate, and in that frustration is the seed of awakening (after the last spasms of lashing out, which is the first response of frustrated know-nothings).

    I think a more global nature of thinking and identity is helped along by this phenomenon of social media. (As an aside – I think the social media phenomenon, on this global scale, has a very short half-life due to the unfolding collapse of resources and complex society. However, it is interesting that it is manifest precisely in this historical moment of the global collapse of “conventional” institutions – the very institutions that feed our “conventional” notions of negative identity.)

    I too am frustrated (and I, too, feel straight-jacketed by an aversion to repeating myself, and my blog suffers so), but I am not frightened.

    I see hope in this great shake-out.

    Now, back to Berman’s talk…

  30. groo

    thanks for your comment.

    Looking forward to your final assessment of Berman’s talk.

    As a European I’m worried, that whatever goes on in the US comes to Europe with a delay of ca 10 years, and I do not like that, as you can imagine.

    There now seems to be an acceleration, and Germany, as Britain, play a prominent role in transporting the pathology to our shores.
    I get quite angry about this roll-back, eg the abandonment of habeas corpus, all this homeland security paranoia, the overtaking of society by the financial sector and its backers.

    There is a deep impression in -not so many- European intellectuals, that the ties between the US and Europe should be capped.
    Only the astute ones notice that, and I myself count me as one of those.

    I do not want to embarrass any US-centered intellectuals. Actually there are more of them than in Europe, as far as I can see.
    Maybe it is because of this positive hope, as Heinrich Heine said:
    “Where danger is most imminent, salvation is nearest”, which is a very Hegelian thought, but am not quite sure if this is more of a hope than a fact.

    Hope/action is antagonistic to despair/passivity.

  31. I wonder if Berman is self-aware enough to see his own identity-building through the abnegation of the American “other?”

    At least, in his bitterness, he sees the value of local action & community building. His bitterness is no more offensive than those who are overly-enthusiastic about it… but no matter how you come to it, that’s really the solution. Not overthrowing anything, or any of a number of eliminationist “solutions.”

    Just being there. And surviving. (I’m not sure if “lotus in a cesspool” is the proper frame of mind for it, however – haha.)

    Of course, there’s nothing wrong with emigrating to a like-minded culture or community, either. I’m quite envious of those who can do that.

    As for your lament about importing our pathology, I think, perhaps, that our product is becoming overtly toxic enough to slow that down, or maybe to eliminate it altogether. On the other hand, what Berman describes as an American problem is really one of Western civilization in general – and probably, to a significant degree, a human one (as one questioner pointed out regarding the question of the shadow “other” – Tutsi/Hutu, etc.)

  32. Celsius 233

    March 9, 2012

    Of course, there’s nothing wrong with emigrating to a like-minded culture or community, either. I’m quite envious of those who can do that.

    I emigrated to a culture which is the opposite of our western culture. It tends to put things in perspective quite nicely, along with bending the limits of what one thought they knew.
    Having been out for 9 years, it’s apparent motivation and attitude are very important. Many leave for all the wrong reasons and become disillusioned; language and culture can be very intimidating.
    Nationalism (like most isms) and religion are eating the U.S. from the inside-out; there doesn’t seem to be a way out of the spiral of disintegration, at least none anybody can agree upon.

  33. Celsius 233

    groo PERMALINK
    March 9, 2012

    As a European I’m worried, that whatever goes on in the US comes to Europe with a delay of ca 10 years, and I do not like that, as you can imagine.

    You should be very concerned; you should see what effect it’s having here in SE Asia.
    Western ideals; especially the U.S. version, is infecting every aspect of life. But at least here in LOS, the English language is not doing well. The upside for me is, I’ve had to learn Thai and at my age that has proven quite a challenge.
    I’ve come to not like my species very much; our nature knows no bounds and lacks an altruist bent for the most part.
    Fortunately, I’ve also found some rare creatures with intelligence and vision and just the right balance of idealism; not too much mind you, but just enough for flights of imagination.

  34. Celsius 233

    Oh dear, make that “altruistic” please. 😉

  35. Celsius – just to be clear: By “like-minded” I meant people sharing a healthy disdain for “the American way of life.” Didn’t mean to imply cultural similitude.

  36. Celsius 233

    March 9, 2012
    Celsius – just to be clear: By “like-minded” I meant people sharing a healthy disdain for “the American way of life.” Didn’t mean to imply cultural similitude.
    Thanks for the clarification; I didn’t assume anything, just not sure of your meaning.

    Through my wife (highly educated and well traveled) I’ve met just such people here.
    I have a saying; Culture is the cloth, in which we wrap our humanity.
    It’s my way of saying/acknowledging the commonality of our species values throughout the world.

  37. Morocco Bama

    Celsius, you may have emigrated, but you have never left. You are as American as Apple Pie, Hot Dogs and Chevrolet. It becomes you and you become it. Same goes for the recipient of your incessant ass-kissing parade, T-Bear. The two of you combined exemplify America in all its splendor and glory. It reminds me of a saying here in America, I’m sure you have heard of it, “you can take a redneck out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of a redneck.” That description fits you and T-Bear to a Tee.

  38. groo

    Morocco Bama, please do not be so bitter.

    You’re right, in a sense.
    As for me, I’m as Bavarian as one can be, but I’m also opposed to it. It is the only way for a reflective being:
    a) Recognizing who You are as part of a collective.
    b) Seeing its limitations and pathologies
    c) somehow stand above that.

    As you can see, this the elementary cell of a Hegelian triad:
    Thesis-Antithesis-Synthesis, all in one’s socalled ‘Self’.
    It is this inner tension at one’s core.

    You eventually emigrate from Your culture, like Celsius did, just to considerably shift the weights in T-A-S, to keep the balance within yourself.

    I don’t think that Celsius is hopeful that he ultimately got rid of his inner redneck, to use Your words.
    We never can. But we can corner ‘him’

    Thai culture at its base is probably one of the most evolved on this planet. (politics aside)
    The elderly and demented from Europe are sent there, because there (still) is an environment and habit of emotional/metaphysical caring, which is mostly lost in Europe and in the US, due to thinking in profit-terms.
    The western cancer ‘profit-motive’ and ‘self-interest’ eats this all up.

    As to Petro’s remarks:
    I agree. Berman’s thesis ofcourse is not the last word.
    A ‘person’ is a very volatile entity, stabilized by the culture and subsequentally internalized.
    This goes all the way down to the nervous system, and puts some serious constraints on one’s ability to think and act.
    Cultural programming is one layer above our genetic constraints, and it is difficult to escape from that.
    How can You reprogram yourself in such a situation?
    This is near to impossible.
    Your inner observer -the third entity in my model- is the most powerless of all, but the only one who can -ahem- initiate ‘change’.

    Must not be ridiculous Obama-like ‘small change’ or outright (collective self-) deception.

  39. Celsius 233

    March 9, 2012

    Your Berman link is excellent; sorry for not checking it earlier. Yes, I’m late to the party, but I have to agree with his comments about Moore and Chomsky. I’ve been listening to Chomsky for 40 years and grow weary of his shtick. Moore? Credit due, but ineffectual in the end.
    I’m of the thought that it’s up to each of us, in the end, to find our own answers and our own paths to follow. We find simpatico people along the way; not many, but the few are valuable if we’re able to listen.
    Unlike Petro, I didn’t find Berman “bitter” but rather a clear voice of reality; of the way it really is and it resonates with me and my experience as a fellow expatriate.
    Cheers groo…

  40. Celsius 233

    Well, you posted while I was writing; so, I missed it. I’ll not comment on that however.

  41. groo

    To strengthen Berman’s thesis:

    I was puzzled from my first encounter by american belief, that anything is possible if you just belief in ‘it’ and pursue it with personal power:
    Being a worldclass pianist, or correcting your eyesight by will and effort.
    This is such an outlandish claim, that I watched this disease carefully.

    To be -as an individual- the creator of your own fate, is deeply ingrained into american genetics, which originally was in dialectical opposition to European Feudalism, where everybody has his place in the order of nature, and this is god’s will.

    So the Americans changed that.

    They invented some maneuvering room by the Calvinist (evangelical) belief, which Max Weber called protestant ethics: That, by one’s deeds and the property one accumulates, one gains a favorite place in heaven.
    Homosexuals and hermaphrodites and dimwits in general are what they are by their own mischief. they just do not use their manouvering room to behave properly.

    The ‘good’ is given (god’s word). We just have to accept that.
    Science? Nope.

    Americans tend to believe in divine intervention into worldly affairs somehow in the probability-space of beliefs between the Turkish and the Taliban.
    Thus they are not an enlightened people in the classical European sense, but stand on their own, with the help of ‘god’ which they defend not by argument, but by force.

    The YOU is challenged to execute god’s will.

    one of the most revealing observations comes from Jon Schwarz:
    Look at this:

    Jon deconstructed the whole thing:
    It is a syndrome, or meme, or religious conviction, to provide ‘help’, where actually it only provides destruction?

    This is a devastating diagnosis in its own right, but it is suppressed and ignored.
    I don’t care.
    I just ask:

    Why is that?
    Which diagnosis is a conspiracy?
    Which is a plain stupid variant of self-deception?
    Which resembles some -ahem- reality’?

    You guess!

  42. Celsius 233

    @ groo;

    Berman is effective because he couches everything in proper context, IMO.
    I watched again and frankly, as a decade long expatriate, his seeing is very like mine. Sure, that’s a bias on my part, but it’s the way I’ve seen things from very early on. When I was 14 (1959) I wrote an essay on my own (not an assignment) about the violent history of America/Americans from day one. Yes, I included the Native Americans and “Negros” as they were termed then.
    So, I’ve always sensed there was something wrong with the sold America; I just never quite bought it; so, Berman is spot on, IMO; and that was a great and reaffirming experience for me.
    Cheers groo…

  43. Morocco Bama

    Petro, I share your criticisms and hesitation about Berman. I’ve been down that road, meaning I’ve reviewed Berman a while back, and it is also a dead end road. Berman is yet another in a long line of opportunists who make their living off of flogging dead or dying horses. He’s a bully picking on those who either a.) don’t even acknowledge him and his accompanying criticisms, or b.)can’t acknowledge him and his criticisms because they lack the neural and psychical pathways to do so. He beats this horse with no name and his audience laughs and feels all puffed up and superior, but to what end? Okay, so it’s cathartic to release and laugh at the buffoonery every now and then, but it becomes tedious when someone tells the same joke over and over again….and that’s what Berman does. It’s the same schtick reconstituted in a myriad of ways to an audience so groomed and trained, it will laugh at anything, even its beloved grandmother’s tragic death.

  44. groo

    Morocco Bama

    …Berman is yet another in a long line of opportunists who make their living off of flogging dead or dying horses. …

    Berman as a patho-someone, making money out of his outlandish belief, by appealing to some flagellants, who punish themselves.
    Nothing is out of discussion.
    Actually Berman was interviewed by the Young Turks, who went down the same road.
    The interview was quite unpleasant.

    We have a ‘saint’ over here, whose name is Karl Valentin. he was for some time the most celebrated artist in Germany in the 1920’s, and died of hunger in 1948, just a couple of 100 meters where I lived for some years,

    George Carlin squared, if you will.
    A hypochonder, an outright idiot, an artist of the absurd. Everything open to discussion.

    Nowadays he is considered a national treasure from the left to the right here in my country, which makes me sort of confident that not everything is lost.

    If Americans would consider Carlin a national treasure, this would be a first step towards
    true reflection.

    See eg here:


  45. groo

    I ask You a question:

    Who was the deepest critic/embodyment of the american soul?
    A mile below Mencken and Carlin. -?

    On the German side it was
    Karl Valentin
    Paul Klee
    Max Ernst.

    They embody the national soul, 20th century.

    A layer deeper it is Goethe, Caspar David Friedrich, Hoelderlin, the brothers Grimm.

    A layer deeper it is… .

    This is not to say that I am a cultural imperialist.
    Far from that.
    The British have their own: Shakespeare and Turner and Blake,
    the Italians, the French, the Russians, all have.
    I respect that, in a sense.

    On a strange level we conversate about national myths, right?
    And these myths have a strange quality: they are axiomatic self-defining, which is their basic quality, and which often has the constituent ‘man’, which means ‘human’, against all those ‘inhumans’ out there, against it defines itself, which is the vanity of the ‘other’, whom we are licenced to kill, because of their very property: that they are inhuman.
    Somehow we should have overcome this primitive distinction, one should think, but we do’nt.

    It is about defining one’s identity,

  46. groo

    …They embody the national soul, 20th century. …
    I correct myself:
    Those have been the best, but not the most effective wrt change.

    The national soul does not align to the best.
    This is an undercurrent.
    And diagnosis is different from perspective.
    The artist is like a doctor. He senses the disease, but does not necessarily have the cure.

    I apologize.

  47. To be -as an individual- the creator of your own fate, is deeply ingrained into american genetics…

    They invented some maneuvering room by the Calvinist (evangelical) belief, which Max Weber called protestant ethics: That, by one’s deeds and the property one accumulates, one gains a favorite place in heaven.

    Homosexuals and hermaphrodites and dimwits in general are what they are by their own mischief. they just do not use their manouvering room to behave properly.

    Yes, optimism is the death of us all over here in the land of the perceptual plenty.

    I just wanted to point out the “liberal” side of optimism, since you most distinctly described the meritocratic “conservative” side.

    In this (the “liberal”) world, the “unfortunates” you describe are not necessarily suffering the consequences of mischief, but are instead working through their challenges at “their level.” Just as paternalistic and stupid, but at least there is not the impulse to “do something” about them.

    It’s a nitpick – but also a good segue to an embarrassing personal confession. While I have always eschewed pure “belief,” I was persuaded to adopt an “act-as-if-true” ethos in the eighties (my greed years) – kind of like “The Secret,” except extended to altering my very world-view. Coming off of a decade of Carlos Castenada (I told you this would be embarrassing… just wait), I was drawn to Jane Roberts and Seth after I became aware of Carlos’ fraud (see, even more embarrassing.)

    While not “believing” in disembodied voices from the hereafter, I was persuaded, after reading a few of those lengthy tomes, to give the universe of Seth the benefit of the doubt, a fighting chance, with a mind so open that my brains fell out (Sulzberger).

    We had a recycle bin in our company office for used printer paper. I taped a sign over it that read, “In a world of infinite abundance, [something something about not needing to recycle].”

    These are the sort of sins that all the repentance in the world will not rid me of.

  48. groo

    regarding Israel, in Ian’s opening citation, I have a big problem, but anyway.

    Israel is an empty state, in the sense that it defines itself by the holocaust and the enemies it endlessly creates, and as such is quite similar to the US, which defines itself by an endless movement of ‘go west’ and a quest of the ‘pursuit of happiness’, -an equally empty quest- which may be a strange parallell in the first place, but is’nt.

    One can unite this by the concept of negative identity, which defines the ‘self’ via a never fulfillable quest.
    Think Cervantes’ Don Quixote, who read some cheap novels (think hollywood) and went out for a fight against the windmills.

    Judaic thinking does this by constructing a plane of the ever-present.
    First You have to believe this, and for that You need yearlong training, which changes Your nervous system, and makes You a different sort of -ahem- man.

    See this:

    In the Old Testament, events and persons were differentiated and arranged, not by their position in chronological sequence to each other, but according to the impact of their occurrence.

    This conception of time is so deeply embedded, that nobody in their respective context seems to recognize that, like the fish does not know about the water.
    The same about the endtime (armageddon), or circular time (buddhist).

    So we are deeply embedded into cultural narratives, which cannot simply be resolved by believing or not in the big-bang and its underlying axioms, that the universe is constructed along mathematical tautologies.

    I feel exhausted and apologize for bringing this into discussion.
    But whenever I think about something, which concerns me deeply, I invariably end in such silly questions.

  49. alyosha

    groo – thanks so much for the link to Morris Berman. Never heard of him, but I quickly bookmarked most of his works. Didn’t have the time or patience to listen to much beyond the first four or five minutes. Hopefully more time later to read him.

    Celcius – I’ve often thought that a country like LOS, having a language that’s difficult for westerners to learn is something of a barrier that works mostly to your advantage.

  50. Celsius 233

    alyosha PERMALINK
    March 10, 2012

    Celcius – I’ve often thought that a country like LOS, having a language that’s difficult for westerners to learn is something of a barrier that works mostly to your advantage.

    Very astute understanding; I agree whole heartily. Cheers…

  51. Celsius 233

    Nuts; spell check screw-up; make that “heartedly”, please. 😉

  52. John Puma

    “Stratfor CEO: WikiLeaks ‘makes war more likely’ ”

  53. groo

    John Puma,

    Once again one of those ‘Friedmans’.

    Whe have our own Friedman(s), like a certain Michel Friedman, who taught morals to the rest of us in his own TV-show over here, until he was caught as a heavy Cocaine sniffer, routinely being engaged with multiple Ukrainean prostitutes at the same time, who were enganged under dubious circumstances by pimps of the the worst sort.

    So this ‘Friedman’ (your link) tells us :

    That corporations and governments are much more powerful than Anonymous and WikiLeaks, meaning “they will win” in the ongoing power struggle simply by changing the rules of the conflict — I.E., changing the Internet itself.

    Aah! Hookudanode?

    To cite Harrington, who again refers to a recent Lakoff-piece:

    Politicians have always lied. What Ziegler did was introduce the art of lying about lying. … , the tactic persisted and eventually went mainstream.
    Now after four decades of consuming artfully deployed layers of deceptive and imprecise language, most Americans have abandoned the idea that it is possible to identify personal agency and/or chains of causality within the forces that shape the public portion of their lives.

    Here we are again.
    The self-proclaimed masters of the universe assert as their privilege to lie with impunity, and lie about their lying towards their selfdeclared underlings, thus totally messing up any communication.

    The central issue presumably is a communication-breakdown, which is deliberately promoted between Teabaggers and 99%ers, which presumably succeeds, and is a cynical play by the 1%ers.
    Which reveals something about their nature: That they are compulsive gamblers.

  54. John Puma

    To groo,

    To me this story illustrates the contemptible strategy of those who seem to need to control everything: first, control the avenues by which they blame innocent others for their many crimes.

  55. groo

    John Puma,

    a good current assessment of the situation is here.

    ‘The Plutonomy Reports”!

    Fulbrook refers to them as the ““Citigroup Plutonomy Memos”

    This basically shows it all.
    Funnily a lot of sites classify this as a conspiracy or fake, which it is definitely not.

    The 1% exposed its strategy in this 3-part pdf, which citigroup subsequently tried to retract, but is all over the net now.

    Fulbrook’s paper in RWER is here:

    Basic message of citigroup: the 99% are dumb as a piece of bread.
    So why bother to put it out in the sunlight?

    Later on they seem to have noticed that this may have not been such a good idea.


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