Dark Ages America: The Final Phase of Empire

Dark Ages America: The Final Phase of Empire

4.7 6
by Morris Berman
     
 

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In Dark Ages America, the pundit Morris Berman argues that the nation has entered a dangerous phase in its historical development from which there is no return.

As the corporate-consumerist juggernaut that now defines the nation rolls on, the very factors that once propelled America to greatness—extreme individualism, territorial and economic

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Overview

In Dark Ages America, the pundit Morris Berman argues that the nation has entered a dangerous phase in its historical development from which there is no return.

As the corporate-consumerist juggernaut that now defines the nation rolls on, the very factors that once propelled America to greatness—extreme individualism, territorial and economic expansion, and the pursuit of material wealth—are, paradoxically, the nails in our collective coffin. Within a few decades, Berman argues, the United States will be marginalized on the world stage, its hegemony replaced by China or the European Union. With the United States just one terrorist attack away from a police state, Berman's book is a controversial and illuminating look at our current society and its ills.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this provocative, scattershot jeremiad, cultural historian Berman (The Twilight of American Culture) likens America to ancient Rome on the brink. On the geopolitical plane, he contends, the United States is a belligerent, overstretched empire, saddled with huge deficits and a hollowed-out economy, vulnerable to terrorist blowback and, worse, collapse if foreign creditors finally pull the plug. The rot is cultural and spiritual, too: Americans are cold, alienated shopaholics immured in suburban anomie, each encased in a private bubble of iTunes and media noise and indifferent to the public good. Culprits include globalization, technology and, more fundamentally, the individualism and commercialism that is the bedrock of American identity. Because American civilization is a "package deal," the author considers it impervious to piecemeal reform and, given Americans' ingrained "stupidity" and willful blindness, unsalvageable. Berman's attempts to tie every American dysfunction to an all-encompassing sickness of soul overreaches, leading him to lump together serious issues like poverty and the Abu Ghraib outrages with trivialities like annoying cell phone yakkers or the "freedom fries" phenomenon, which he bemoans as "symbolic of an emptiness at the core." Often stimulating and insightful in its particulars, his indictment, like the jingoism it abhors, is too sweeping and essentialist to fully capture American reality. (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Freedom of choice? It's Wendy's vs. Burger King, according to Berman in this critique of the U.S. economy-a nice follow-up to The Twilight of American Culture, which condemned the country's corporate, consumerist culture. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A resounding, if sometimes overwrought, indictment of all that is wrong with American culture, from arrogance to xenophobia and all points between. As sociologist and cultural critic Berman (Wandering God, 2000) notes, the rest of the world hates us because we don't know it hates us-and don't much care. The American empire is both military and cultural, and both are weaker than we think; two pitiable Asian nations are enough to pin down our vaunted fighting forces, and "many of America's values in the early twenty-first century are corrosive, and unless the nation can do some rather elaborate soul searching, it needs to lose influence in the rest of the world." Neocons will dismiss the claim that America's influence is anything but benign, but Berman fires with both barrels at a culture that, he argues, is rapidly slipping into "second- or third-rate status" as an international power, to be replaced, one supposes, by China, which by Berman's account is just an Asian iteration of the same problem, in which society is an arena for personal enrichment with none of the requisite reciprocal obligations. The great mass of Americans, by Berman's depiction, live lives driven by "infantile needs and impulses," thereby-and here he grows breathless-making possible a society marked by latchkey kids, college graduates who can't find America on a world map, idiotic television shows, obese mall-goers, knee-jerk reactionaries and a president who "lack[s] the ground-level gray matter necessary for the job." Not that it's all Bush's fault. By Berman's lights, he's a symptom-but also a cause, a perfect exemplar of a Darwinian society that doesn't believe in Darwinism, a country of a few wealthy people andof "competition, extreme individualism, and loneliness forced onto everybody else," what passes for freedom these days. There's no room for comfort in Berman's critique: If he's right, we're doomed. Hope he's wrong, then, but by all means consider his provocative argument.
Philadelphia Inquirer
Berman assembles with uncommon clarity a vast amount of scholarship, data, and commentary in support of conclusions that most readers will resist.— Gresham Riley
Gresham Riley
“Berman assembles with uncommon clarity a vast amount of scholarship, data, and commentary in support of conclusions that most readers will resist.”

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393078312
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
02/07/2011
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
400
File size:
519 KB

Meet the Author

Morris Berman is a cultural historian and the author of The Twilight of American Culture. He has held a number of university appointments, most recently as Visiting Professor of Sociology at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.

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Dark Ages America: The Final Phase of Empire 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book laments prevailing U.S. policy, its declining civilization, current administration and dominant economic order. Author Morris Berman predicted bad times in his last book, `The Twilight of American Culture,¿ and in his eyes, they have come to pass. He is comprehensive, albeit not necessarily objective, in his charges, concerns and criticisms. His recaps of previous administrations, and his explanations of current policies are detailed and interesting. However, the depth of his dismay make his heartfelt arguments veer into intemperate language and leads to uneven presentations of some issues. Berman offers intriguing reasons to oppose much in the political, philosophical and societal evolution of the U.S. He examines the impact of Sept. 11, 2001, including the resulting foreign and domestic policies. He diagnoses a paucity of public debate and decries blows to civil liberties. We recommend this book to those who want to understand a point of view that departs from standard political thinking.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Greece, Rome, Spain, France, the Netherlands, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union. All of these nations have come and gone in greatness victims of the cyclical nature of history. But one question that has always been in the back of my mind is: When is it OUR turn?' Morris Berman's recent book 'Dark Ages America: The Final Phase of Empire' successfully presents an interpretation which gives a poignant answer. Covering not only our empirical foreign policy but our social consciousness as well, Berman writes frankly and vividly about a case for the U.S. being an economic and military empire (a fact conveniently overlooked by Americans). The U.S. is not only the most powerful nation on Earth for now but also the most debt-ridden. China, our largest creditor, and the European Union are poised to become the next 'king of the hill' so to speak. This book is a wake-up call to all Americans. Berman points out that it is too late to save this country from its eventual Dark Ages but we can soften the blow by taking another good, hard look at where our nation is going.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Morris Berman¿s Dark Ages America is an exceedingly well-researched study of contemporary America. More than exposing the problems of the present political regime, Berman¿s book exposes the large-scale structural dilemmas beneath the surface of American consciousness, which present an extraordinary amount of momentum toward a disastrous future. Gleaning insights from macro historical perspectives, such as present in Joseph Tainter¿s The Collapse of Complex Societies, Berman demonstrates that America has moved beyond the `Twilight¿ phase of its cultural history and that `post-9-11 America¿ is quickly moving into `Night.¿ Berman explores four characteristics of the European Dark Ages. With exhaustive, always relevant, and often humorous findings, he demonstrates that contemporary America vigorously expresses (if not outright flaunts) these outward symptoms of cultural, moral, political, and economic decay. The signs are: the triumph of religion over reason the breakdown of education and critical thinking legalization of torture and marginalization of the United States on the world stage. Each page of Dark Ages America is compact with information, yet Berman¿s fluid and accessible prose pulls arguments and insights together into a clear-sighted and unified vision. For those readers who still see the light of youth in dead forms, this book will be a shocking revelation. However, for seekers of truth, this book is a sobering, yet ultimately hopeful vision of America¿s present cultural crisis. I highly recommend it!
Sam_Holloway More than 1 year ago
This is a stark and pitiless look at the ethical foundations of the U.S.A.'s ongoing collapse.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago