America on the brink

Historian Morris Berman began writing his trilogy before the 2000 election, 9/11, the Iraq War, and the Bush economy––subsequently producing the books The Twilight of American Culture and Dark Ages America. As we all know, the picture hasn’t been pretty for much of the last decade and Berman has remained one of the most astute commentators on the tortured journey of a nation that once stood for more than greed and political paranoia. Berman’s new book, Why America Failed, is reviewed in the current issue of TruthOut in an extensive essay by David Masciotra entitled “America: What Happened?,” Summarizing Berman’s points, Masciotra lists four key themes:

1. Accelerating social and economic inequality .
2. Declining marginal returns with regard to investment in organizational solutions to socioeconomic problems or, in other words, the political system becomes dysfunctional .
3. Rapidly dropping levels of literacy, critical understanding and general intellectual awareness.
4. Spiritual death, what Berman calls the “emptying out of cultural content and the freezing of it in formulas, kitsch.”

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