Tag Archives: Morris Berman

The Waning of the Modern Ages: Presented by Morris Berman at The Vermont Independence Party | Vermont Commons

24 Sep

3. What, then, is that alternative worldview, that “new civilizational paradigm”? In Why America Failed I lay out, unsurprisingly enough, the reasons for why America failed, and I say that it was primarily because throughout our history we marginalized or ignored the voices that argued against the dominant culture, which is based on hustling, aggrandizement, and economic and technological expansion. This alternative tradition can be traced from John Smith in 1616 to Jimmy Carter in 1979, and included folks such as Emerson, Thoreau, Lewis Mumford, Jane Jacobs, Vance Packard, and John Kenneth Galbraith, among many others. In England it is particularly associated with John Ruskin and William Morris, who argued for the need for organic communities with a spiritual purpose, for work that was meaningful rather than mind-numbing, and who did manage to acquire a large number of American disciples. In a forthcoming book by a colleague of mine, Joel Magnuson, entitled The Approaching Great Transformation, the author states that we need concrete models of a post-carbon economy, ones that break with the profit model of capitalism—and not in cosmetic or rhetorical ways. He gives a number of examples of experiments in this vein, ones that I would term elements of a steady-state or homeostatic economy: no-growth, in other words. After all, writes Magnuson, “permanent growth means permanent crisis.” Or as I have put it elsewhere, our job is to dismantle capitalism before it dismantles us. Again, this does not mean taking on Wall Street, which I don‟t believe can succeed. But it does mean leaving the field: for example, seceding. (Movements for secession do exist at this point, Vermont being a prominent example.) And if that‟s not quite viable right now, there is at least the possibility of living in a different way, as David Ehrenfeld suggests. My guess is that “dual process”—the disintegration of capitalism and the concomitant emergence of an alternative socioeconomic formation—is going to be the central story of the rest of this century. And I suspect that austerity will be part of this, because as capitalism collapses and we run out of resources—petroleum in particular—what choice will we have?

via The Waning of the Modern Ages: Presented by Morris Berman at The Vermont Independence Party | Vermont Commons.


Celebrating the Future Independence of Vermont, at the Vermont Statehouse in Montpelier: Toward a Politics of Jubilee

16 Sep

I spent Friday, 14 September in and around the Vermont Statehouse. Sometime back in the mists of history past some good Vermont citizens decided that, in the face of the cancerous growth of the American state, that Vermont folks of conscience and caring had to organize and urge their fellow Vermonters to secede from the Union. And so the Vermont Independence Party (VIP) was born.

And Friday was their third state-wide convention, with visitors from several other states as well. This convention was organized toward the reading of The Montpelier Manifesto, listing 29 grievances against the Federal Government of the United States of America and urging secession. The conference was held in the House Chamber of the Vermont Statehouse, for it seems that, by law, Vermont citizens have the right to occupy use the statehouse when it is not otherwise in use.

I was there with the Northeast Irregulars, a contingent of the New York Path to Peace, organized by Charlie Keil. We brought musicians from Jersey City, New York City, Connecticut, and Vermont. At least.

Here’s some photographs of that glorious day. I apologize to all those who were there for the celebration but not in these photos.

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That’s Charlie Keil on the right and Jack Lazarowski on the left. Jack and his wife Linda put Charlie and I up for the night. Thanks, Jack and Linda!


Julie Buck and Rob Williams at the podium on the House Chamber. They were co-chairs for the event. Continue reading

Downsize the State: Nothing Succeeds Like Secession

4 Sep

The good people at the Second Vermont Republic are at it again, helping to organize The Third Statewide Convention on Vermont Self-Determination, with a keynote address by Morris Berman (Why America Failed).

The convention will be held in the Vermont State House, Montelier, VT, on Saturday 14 September, 2012, from 9AM ro 4PM (party afterwards!).

Occupy Secession has this to say:

Only in Vermont would it be possible to hold a statewide convention on political independence in the House Chamber of the State House, where the Governor, the Lt. Governor, Council of State, Congressional Delegation, and the vast majority of the members of the State Legislature are all unconditional apologists for the American Empire and vehemently opposed to Vermont separatism. Yet that is precisely what is about to happen in Montpelier, Vermont on September 14th. Not only that, it is the third such convention, the other two having been held in 2005 and 2008. There is no charge for the use of the most prestigious venue in the entire Green Mountain State, because it happens to be the People’s House….

At the end of the meeting convention delegates will be invited to consider endorsing The Montpelier Manifesto calling for the rejection of the immoral, corrupt, decaying, dying, failing American Empire as well as its rapid and peaceful dissolution. Not unlike the 1963 Port Huron Statement issued by the Students for a Democratic Society, The Montpelier Manifesto is aimed at all citizens of the United States, not just those living in Vermont. Continue reading