Journal #111 - Franco “Bifo” Berardi - The American Abyss
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Journal #111
September 2020
Journal #111 - September 2020

The American Abyss

Surfing the Waves of the Unknown

During the summer of 2016, I was writing the last chapters of a book titled Futurability: The Age of Impotence and the Horizon of Possibility, where I outlined the prospect of a bifurcation: either social solidarity and conscious subjectivity will be reconstituted, or the world will be drawn into a new form of global fascism. In that context, I was obliged to confront the impending American elections given that after Brexit in June of that year, the victory of Donald Trump became possible. Both of these events were symptoms of a widespread psychosis invading the scene of the global brain.

That book was not especially about America, nor about elections, nor about Trump. Nevertheless, a consideration of the American scenario was crucial to understanding trends in human evolution.

Now, in summer 2020, Trump seems to be drowning, but it’s hard to say what will happen next. The man has many arrows in his quill, even if his victory becomes more unlikely. He is already sending signals of his unwillingness to accept the results of the election; he is already hinting at Democratic Party fraud; and, most dangerously, he has referred his followers several times to the Second Amendment, which, in plain words, is a threat to trigger a wave of armed violence.

I know that it is dangerous to write in simultaneity with events that nobody can precisely foresee, that can only be vaguely intuited. But the only way to imagine something about the becoming of the psycho-sphere is to run ahead of the dynamics of the disaster. My job is not fortune-telling, so I will not engage in predictions about the results of the American elections, but my point is that whatever happens in November, a conflagration has been sparked in the US that will bring increasing violence and that, in due time, will lead to the explosion of the federal state, with unimaginable geopolitical implications.

The Unmaking of the USA

I would say that the main historical thread of the last twenty years of world history is the not-so-slow disintegration of the US. Of course, the September 11 attacks are one starting point for this unbelievable process. This is by far the most powerful country in the history of the world, the most armed, the most aggressive, the least accessible, protected as it is by two oceans. The only way to destroy it is to turn the giant against itself.

This is exactly what bin Laden’s strategy achieved. Under the unintelligent direction of Dick Cheney and George W. Bush, the giant entered into a process of self-destruction. First the quagmire of Afghanistan, and then the quagmire of Iraq, provoked a sort of self-destroying fury in the American brain.

Salman Rushdie recounted with some anticipation this self-destroying fury in a book published in 2001 titled Fury.

Then came the financial collapse of 2008, and the election of a black president. Barack Obama in the White House was a shock for the supremacist instinct, deeply rooted in American history and in the white American psyche.

The rise of Trump must be viewed as an effect of the white reaction to a long list of perceived humiliations: defeats in two wars, the impoverishment of the middle class in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, and a sophisticated, elegant black person dancing in the rooms of the White House.

Four years of Trump have almost finalized the disintegration process of the structures of the US state. In 2020, this process was almost complete when the pandemic erupted and swept the country.

What’s next? Obviously, I do not know, but I have noticed that, after a series of political setbacks, Trump has turned into the leader of the people of the Second Amendment. When the most recent Black Lives Matter protests spread across the country, and earlier when a group of Trumpists entered the Michigan state capitol building with their weapons drawn, the likely backdrop of the next five years was exposed.

Trump called for the army to crush the riots, and the army said no, defying the word of the president. Then he sent federal troops to Portland, fuelling rage and escalating the riots. Is he pointing to a fully-fledged fight just before the elections?

“The Masked Versus the Unmasked” is the title of a May 2020 article published in the New York Times by a liberal, moderately progressive, highly educated journalist—actually, my favorite American journalist, Roger Cohen. The title promises something enigmatic, but the text is very clear, from the very first lines:

A neighbor in Colorado would tell me it was time for liberals to “gun up.” The other side was armed, he argued, and would stop at nothing. What would we tell our grandchildren when Ivanka Trump took office as the 46th president of the United States in 2025 and term limits were abolished? That we tried words, all manner of them, he scoffed, but they had the rifles.1

Unsurprisingly, Cohen immediately adds that he disagrees with his neighbor and that American democracy has nothing in common with Hungarian democracy. I’m not sure that his optimism is well founded.

Even if Viktor Orbán is a fascist and Hungarian democracy is in very bad shape, I’m sorry to say that American democracy is even worse because it is the expression of the American people, and they are the product of centuries of genocide, of deportations, of slavery, and of systematic violence.

American democracy has been a fake since the beginning, when slave owners who wrote the Declaration of Independence stopped for a moment to consider the possibility of writing something about the problem of slavery, but instead decided to postpone such discussions indefinitely.

We should not think that Trump is an aberration of the American spirit, or the exception in a country of sensible people: he is the perfect representation of the white unconscious, pestered by a devastating sense of guilt resulting from the genocide of the native population, the forcible importation of millions of Africans, the long-lasting oppression of black slaves, military aggression against countless populations, the nuclear annihilation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the killing of millions of Vietnamese people, the extermination of Chilean democracy, the killing of Salvador Allende and of thirty thousand people after September 11, 1973. Not to mention the phosphorus bombing of Fallujah and the uncountable victims of the catastrophic wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Thanks to his ignorance and moral abjection, Donald Trump represents the true soul of America, the unmovable soul of a population formed by a never-ending sequence of exploitation, oppression, bullying, invasions, and abominable crimes. Nothing but this. There isn’t an alternative America, as many thought in the 1960s and ’70s. There are millions of women and men, mostly nonwhite, who have suffered from American violence, and especially at a certain point in the ’60s and ’70s, fought to reform America to become more human. They failed, because there is no way to reform a nation of bigots and killers.

Now more than ever, it is possible to envision the opportunity to destroy America, not to reform it. And this is possible because America is destroying itself. Osama bin Laden succeeded in his attempt to turn the greatest military power against itself. The 9/11 provocation succeeded in drawing the giant into a war against chaos. Those who wage war against chaos are doomed, because chaos feeds upon war.

In 1992, when George Bush Sr. said at the first summit on climate change in Rio de Janeiro that the lifestyle of the American people was not subject to negotiation, we learned that the planet faces a dilemma regarding its future: unless America is broken, humankind will not survive.

In the American literary consciousness, we can find countless footprints of this horrible manifest destiny, and in the following paragraphs I want to retrace some of them. At first I considered writing about the books of Joyce Carol Oates, particularly American Martyrs, or of Octavia Butler, especially the dystopian premonition of The Parable of the Sower. Instead I decided to speak only of white males, so that the abyss may be described from the inside: Cormac McCarthy, John Steinbeck, Philip Roth, and Jonathan Franzen. I know that this is a debatable choice, and some may reproach me for it. I am reproaching myself for this choice, but I excuse myself for a very personal reason: I am male, I am white, I am old.

I know what I’m talking about.

Inner Dark

Cormac McCarthy’s second novel, Outer Dark, published in 1968, may be read as a metaphorical journey back to the original soul of white America. The time and the place of the story are nebulous: wilderness, the absence of historical references, and a pervasive sense of obfuscation.

Somewhere in Appalachia, sometime around the turn of the twentieth century, a woman whose name is Rinthy gives birth to her brother’s baby. The brother, Culla, leaves the nameless infant in the woods to die, and eventually tells the sister that the baby died of natural causes. The woman does not trust him, and goes away, into the darkness looking for the child.

“The children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth,” reads the Gospel of Matthew. The oppressive presence of the Biblical God is in the background of the book: the shadows of guilt obsessively haunt the characters of the novel, but no consciousness emerges from their actions, nor from their words.

After abandoning the child, Culla goes wandering and looking for a job (what else?), finds a job and weapons, kills a squire, then finds a new job, then flees from the police.

Nothing makes sense. Culla’s actions are like fragmentary memories of a nightmare.

The final episode of his journey is the most absurd, and the most creepy: Culla falls into a river, breaks his leg, and comes out from the water to meet the three people who have been following him. These three men are carrying his son, the child Culla abandoned. The child is horribly wounded, with a torn eye. The men accuse Culla of fathering the child, and of abandoning him. Then one of the trio slays the baby.

The ending of the novel is swathed in the surrealistic light of madness: after surviving his creeping adventures, Culla makes friends with a blind man. He watches the blind man walk towards a swamp: certain death. The novel ends with Culla thinking: “Someone should tell a blind man before setting him out that way.”

The fake glory of the colonization of the West is recounted here as a nightmare, as a foggy meandering between violence and fear and abjection.

Wrath

From the nightmare of McCarthy to the historical reality of John Steinbeck—I was reminded of the most important American novel of the 1930s while reading an article from the far-right libertarian financial blog Zero Hedge, an interesting reference for white supremacy.

As a reader of this repugnant but useful rag, my attention was captivated one day by an article titled “The Old America Is Dead: Three Scenarios For The Way Forward.” Written by Wayne Allenswroth, the article was about John Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath and the 1939 film adaption by John Ford.

The novel stages a community of farmers in Oklahoma in the days of the Great Depression. Due to debt, and due to the financial context that the farmers are unable to understand, one day they receive a visit from the landowner’s men, who bring the message that they are evicted:

Some of the owner men were kind because they hated what they had to do, and some of them were angry because they hated to be cruel … And all of them were caught in something larger than themselves. Some of them hated the mathematics that drove them, and some were afraid, and some worshiped that mathematics because it provided a refuge from thought and from feeling. If a bank or a finance company owned the land, the owner man said, the Bank—or the Company—needs—wants—insists—must have—as though the Bank or the Company were a monster, with thought and feeling, which had ensnared them … The bank—the monster has to have profits all the time. It can’t wait. It’ll die.2

Steinbeck describes here, in a quite vivid way, the impotence that workers, and functionaries, experience when facing the monster of financial capitalism. But the interesting thing is that the pro-Trump Zero Hedge resurrects Steinbeck now, as the scenario of the Depression returns through the conditions triggered by the pandemic. Steinbeck continues:

At last the owner men came to the point. The tenant system won’t work anymore. One man on a tractor can take the place of twelve or fourteen families. Pay him a wage and take all the crop. We have to do it. We don’t like to do it. But the monster’s sick.3

The tenants sit on the ground while the landowner’s lawyer finally tells them:

You’ll have to get off the land. The plows’ll go through the dooryard.

And now the squatting men stood up angrily. Grampa took up the land, and he had to kill the Indians and drive them away. And Pa was born here, and he killed weeds and snakes. Then a bad year came and he had to borrow a little money. An’ we was born here. And Pa had to borrow money. The bank owned the land then, but we stayed and we got a little bit of what we raised.4

But the owner’s men are inflexible:

We’re sorry. It’s not us. It’s the monster. The bank isn’t like a man …

The tenants cried, Grampa killed Indians, Pa killed snakes for the land. Maybe we can kill banks—they are worse than Indians and snakes …

And now the owner men grew angry. You’ll have to go …

We’ll get our guns, like Grampa when the Indians came. What then?

Well—first the sheriff, and then the troops. You’ll be stealing if you try to stay, you’ll be murderers if you kill to stay. The monster isn’t men, but it can make men do what it wants.5

These pages illuminate the sentiment and the mythology that lie beneath Trump, and make up his strength. The white people who earned this land by killing Indians are under threat because of liberal globalism. Trump is their weapon against the globalist threat. The people of the Second Amendment are facing their last opportunity to save their social dominance: this opportunity is Trump. Just read what Allenswroth writes at Zero Hedge:

Our people, our culture, our history, everything we hold dear, is under relentless attack by the Main Stream Media, politicians, “activists,” and kritarchs in the courts, aided and abetted by enemies within, often our own kith and kin, who have internalized the blood-libel Leftist narrative of an irredeemably “racist” America that must be razed to the ground …

Our enemy, in this case is the globalist Blob and its militant would-be Che Guevaras and LARPing Leninists, the MSM, the bureaucracy, the courts, the big corporations, and the education establishment. Yet, for the most part, until recently, the Blob has not confronted the Historic American Nation head-on. The Blob has been patient, killing us by the death of a thousand cuts, taking ground steadily through subversion, using propaganda and misinformation, censorship via Tech Totalitarians, and the slow encroachment of what the late Sam Francis called “anarcho-tyranny,” with mass immigration (“the Great Replacement”) as its weapon of mass destruction. The Blob is amorphous, a slippery, slimy thing that probes and gropes its way into whatever social-economic-political cracks it can exploit, eventually engulfing its prey like quicksand. Then Donald Trump was elected president. The Blob was shocked. Orange Man Bad seemed to threaten its plans to finish off the Historic American Nation. And so, ever since November 8, 2016, the MSM have kept the country in hysterics with one manufactured crisis after another. Fake news via a social media, a hybrid warfare tactic, kicked into high gear: Russiagate, Ukrainegate, the Chinese Virus panic and ensuing lockdown and economic crash, and now the myth of St. George Floyd and blacks being “hunted” by whites that catalyzed the mobs that have looted and burned American cities. Using the Chinese Virus and Floyd riots as cover, the Blob and its militant wing—Antifa and Black Lives Matter—ratcheted up anarcho-tyranny to new heights.6

This narrative is rooted in racialized memory and supported by an army of white people who own weapons and who Trump has unified with the definition “people of the Second Amendment.”

At the end the article, Allenswroth turns to an open invitation to prepare for civil war:

If we bank solely on electoral politics, we will lose, especially as the demographic ring closes. The winners will show no quarter. Political life as we knew it in America is over. Again, the America we grew up in and loved is dead. Elections are a holding action at best. It seems highly unlikely that Trump (or anyone else, for that matter) can, for instance, deport and encourage to self-deport tens of millions of illegal aliens, even assuming a desire to do so.7

Trump cannot do the job alone, is the claim. “We” must take our weapons and do the job: deport tens of millions of illegal aliens, right? We did a century ago, when we deported indigenous people, when we slaughtered them. And now, goes the racist white position, we have to do it again.

Madness? Yes, but what the political pundits cannot grasp is this: madness, and only madness, is now ruling a world that is totally out of control.

Allenswroth wonders, What if Trump loses the election in November?

And this is his answer:

Trump loses, and the Blob and its allies triumph. But because this is a country now and not a nation, with no shared sense of common identity and agreed-upon history, culture, beliefs, or language, only a full-blown police state can hold it together. Even that might not ensure order in a chaotic post-America, and the diminishing number of whites will surely not enjoy the protection of the state. At some point, white Americans might well be living like white South Africans, ever in fear for their lives. If order breaks down, vigilante groups, even criminal gangs, will step into the void, as vigilantes have done in Mexico and Hispanic gangs have done to protect their neighborhoods during the Floyd riots. The good news: white men have followed suit when mobs threatened their homes and history.8

This Country Is Frightening

From the years of the Great Depression I jump to the 1960s, when progressive consciousness spread out from black revolts and from universities.

In American Pastoral, Philip Roth stages the tragedy of a man who has grown up in with a somnambulant trust in the American Dream. Suddenly, he is obliged to face the reality of a mental breakdown that traverses his family, his village, his country, and the world as a whole. He is called the Swede, but he is a young Jewish man from New Jersey. He’s tall, handsome, a good baseball player. We are in the ’50s and life looks joyful and glorious for him. He marries Miss New Jersey, and they have a child, Meredith, aka Merry. Merry is affected by a pronounced stutter. There’s no way to heal this flaw, this small stain on the picture of perfect American joy at the beginning of the ’60s.

Then Kennedy is killed, and one day while Merry is watching TV she’s shocked by the image of a Vietnamese priest, dressed in saffron, who lights himself on fire and stays still until the moment he falls, a human inferno. For Merry, this is the beginning of a monstrous mutation. She recoils from this image, she cries, she babbles. Then more Vietnamese priests kill themselves, and the girl’s brain is forever scrambled.

The new American reality tears a whole in the fenced-off garden of the Swede’s American Dream. The black uprisings erupt: Watts is on fire, Newark is on fire. The Swede protects the factory that his father bequeathed to him. But everything is changing all around. Most importantly, Merry has gone crazy: she does not come back home at night, spending her nights with communists and anarchists instead.

Then comes the tragedy, the irredeemable tragedy. Merry becomes a murderer, a terrorist: she sets off a bomb that kills an innocent passerby. Merry is on the run, Merry will never come back, her mother has a nervous breakdown. Then Merry meets up secretly with her father, but she is as thin as a rake, she’s dirty, she’s ruined. Merry has been raped.

The world of the Swede has broken down, but he must resist, the factory must go on, his wife is out of her mind, she’s fucking the heinous neighbor, an intellectual. The Swede calls his brother, his cynical brother, and tells him that nothing is left of his world. His brother replies:

“You think you know what this country is? You have no idea what this country is … This country is frightening. Of course she was raped. What kind of company do you think she was keeping? Of course out there she was going to get raped … She enters that world, that loopy world out there, with what’s going on out there—what do you expect?”9

Earlier in the same chapter Roth writes:

Yes, at the age of forty-six, in 1973, almost three-quarters of the way through the century that with no regard for the niceties of burial had strewn the corpses of mutilated children and their mutilated parents everywhere, the Swede found out that we are all in the power of something demented. It’s just a matter of time, honky. We all are!10

It’s just a matter of time, says Roth. We are all under the power of something demented.

Now the time has come, I guess.

No one would have ever fathomed that America—the greatest country in the world with “the greatest economy ever”—could be on the cusp of another civil war. Now, after more than one hundred and seventy thousand dead in the unspeakable massacre that the American health system has committed, after the killing of George Floyd and the explosion of protests with continuous escalations in police violence, after Trump’s warning about the coming electoral fraud by the Democrats, after the call-to-arms he issued to the people of the Second Amendment, after the lines of people buying weapons in the early days of the pandemic, after the armed mobs protesting against the lockdown, I think that civil war is the most likely prospect for this country that is the terminal malady of humankind.

Senility

The madness of an autumn prairie cold front coming through. You could feel it: something terrible was going to happen. The sun low in the sky, a minor light, a cooling star. Gust after gust of disorder. Trees restless, temperatures falling, the whole northern religion of things coming to an end.11

This is the opening of The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen’s 2001 novel that marks the passage to the new century—a century of swift disintegration, beginning with the disintegration of the human brain:

Alfred lacked the neurological wherewithal. Alfred’s cries of rage on discovering evidence of guerrilla actions—a Nordstrom bag surprised in broad daylight on the basement stairs, nearly precipitating a tumble—were the cries of a government that could no longer govern.12

Alfred Lambert is an old father of three, and husband to Enid. The Lambert family is the protagonist of the novel.

Indeed, The Corrections is an account of the decomposition of the American brain, through the story of a couple of old people: Enid, a woman on the brink of depression who discovers the magic of psycho-pharmaceuticals, and Alfred, who is wandering on the border of Alzheimer’s disease.

The world is getting less and less comprehensible, objects are sliding out of hands, actions get confused, overlap, lose their meaning and their functional relationships.

Not only because of neuro-chemical degradation, but also because of the transformation of the mental environment, reality has grown incomprehensible for the old brain:

Black man performing oral sex on white man, camera shooting over left hip sixty degrees behind full profile, crescent of high values curving over buttock, knuckles of black fingers duskily visible in their probing on the dark side of this moon. She downloaded the image and viewed it at high resolution. She was sixty-five years old and she’d never seen a scene like this. She’d fashioned images all her life and she’d never appreciated their mystery. All this commerce of bits and bytes, these ones and zeros streaming through servers at some midwestern university. So much evident trafficking in so much evident nothing. A population glued to screens and magazines.13

Astonishment, sorrow, and absurdity are spreading everywhere.

And there was a very important question that he still wanted answered. His children were coming, Gary and Denise and maybe even Chip, his intellectual son. It was possible that Chip, if he came, could answer the very important question. And the question was. The question was.14

I use the word “senility” to refer to a condition of extreme dissociation of cerebral flow and the surrounding universe; it happens when the brain loses nervous system integration that is needed to consistently elaborate both semiotic and natural impulses. Senility, thus, is an individual condition that is encapsulated in a confused mental state of the old mind. But the expanding presence of old people spreads this condition well beyond the limit of a marginal pathology. Many signs in the present American situation point to a political diagnosis: the American brain is irreversibly rotten.

But before political senility it is psychological senility. And before being psychological it is a neurological dysfunction.

The contemporary widespread perception of an apocalyptic vertigo is not only generated as a reckoning with the long history of racial violence, industrial pollution, and economic hyper-exploitation. It is also the result of widespread neurological degradation, and of the inability of the American mind to come to terms with senility and impotence.

In the movie Nebraska, directed by Alexander Payne, a police officer discovers Woody Grant walking on the highway. Woody is then picked up by his son David, who learns that Woody wants to go to Lincoln, Nebraska, to collect a million-dollar sweepstakes prize he believes he has won. When David sees the sweepstakes letter, he knows immediately that it is a mail scam designed to get gullible people to purchase magazine subscriptions. David brings his father home, where his mother Kate becomes increasingly annoyed by Woody’s insistence on collecting the money.

It is a heartbreaking story, the story of people (most white Americans) who have grown up with fake mythologies and have been nourished with horrible food (in both the physical and spiritual sense), and are now sleepwalking towards the swamp, but still trust in their superiority.

Un-American Quichotte

In the surrealistic baroque of the novel Quichotte, Salman Rushdie recounts the story of an Indian-born writer living in America who works for an opioid pharmaceutical enterprise (the producers of Oxycontin, by the way) and falls in love with an Indian-born TV star. He travels from California to New York City with his fictional son Sancho Panza, and is confronted by countless acts of racist rejection and aggression from the true white Americans who do not love the brown pair.

“I want us to speak to each other in that language, especially in public, to defy the bastards who hate us for possessing another tongue.”15

This is the best definition of Americans: those bastards who hate us for possessing another tongue (and also, it must be said, for speaking better English than they do).

Ignorance is the bedrock of American supremacy. They know nothing about the world, about the numerous and infinitely different countries of the world, they do not speak any language except an impoverished form of English, they do not know, and they protect their ignorance as the origin of their strength. And they have some reason to do this, because ignorance has been the force of those who don’t want to be distracted by beauty, by unpredictability, by complexity, so that they can focus only on winning the miserable game of competition, profit, accumulation.

This has been the force of the American people during the last two centuries. But now?

Don’t forget that there is another side of American power, which is the contrary of ignorance: knowledge. American universities and other cultural enterprises are the places where knowledge is stored, processed, transformed, created. By whom? By people who come from India, Japan, Italy, China, and many other countries. Silicon Valley would be nothing without the Syrian Steve Jobs, without the Tamil Indian Sundar Pichai, and countless engineers and designers who come from all over the world. The movie industry would be nothing without Italians and Jews. And so on and so on.

The ambiguous greatness of America has been the result of the marriage between Anglo-Saxon brutality (and ignorance) and cosmopolitan curiosity.

Now, for the first time in history, the integration of these two cultural components is breaking down. The anti-global reaction wants to expel, to forbid, to reject, to build walls, erase multiplicity, and reduce complexity.

The core of the process of disintegration is to be found here: in the social blame surrounding intelligence, irony, consciousness, and imagination.

Too Much and Not Enough

Then I read the e-book (not all of it, for God’s sake) that Mary Trump has devoted to the psychoanalysis of her uncle. Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man is a useful book, written with some understanding of the psychoanalytic background of the current catastrophic situation. The author is not only a professional psychologist, but also the niece of this horrible man, who is also a poor unfortunate whose life has been miserable, as is often the case with people who are obliged to defend a self-image that is profoundly fake.

Trump’s father, Fred, was a highly functional sociopath, according to Mary Trump. After describing the philosophy that the father transmitted to his son, Mary comments: “Fred’s fundamental beliefs about how the world worked—in life, there can be only one winner and everybody else is a loser (an idea that essentially precluded the ability to share) and kindness is weakness—were clear.”16

Then Mary recounts some family anecdotes. After having a bowl of mashed potatoes thrown on his head, Donald Trump feels humiliated:

Everybody laughed, and they couldn’t stop laughing. And they were laughing at Donald. It was the first time Donald had been humiliated by someone he even then believed to be beneath him. He hadn’t understood that humiliation was a weapon that could be wielded by only one person in a fight. That Freddy, of all people, could draw him into a world where humiliation could happen to him made it so much worse. From then on, he would never allow himself to feel that feeing again. From then on, he would wield the weapon, never be at the sharp end of it.17

In Mary’s opinion, Donald has a double problem: he had too much, and not enough. Too much ego, a resentful ego, nourished by a father incapable of providing affection. And not enough love, because his mother was sick, absent, and psychologically dependent on the sociopath.

This looks like a good introduction to the psychogenesis of the president of the United States of America. But also, I guess, it’s a good introduction to the psychogenesis of American white males, and of America itself: the psychogenesis of the American abyss.

×

All images by Istubalz.

Franco Berardi, aka “Bifo,” founder of the famous Radio Alice in Bologna and an important figure in the Italian Autonomia movement, is a writer, media theorist, and social activist.

© 2020 e-flux and the author
Journal # 111
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Notes - The American Abyss
1

Roger Cohen, “The Masked Versus the Unmasked,” New York Times, May 15, 2020 .

Go to Text
2

John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath (Viking, 1939), 32–33.

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3

Steinbeck, Grapes of Wrath, 34.

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4

Steinbeck, Grapes of Wrath, 34.

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5

Steinbeck, Grapes of Wrath, 35.

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6

Wayne Allenswroth, “Old America is Dead: Three Scenarios for the Way Forward,” Zero Hedge, June 29, 2020.

Go to Text
7

Allenswroth, “Old America is Dead.”

Go to Text
8

Allenswroth, “Old America is Dead.”

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9

Phillip Roth, American Pastoral (Houghton Mifflin, 1997), 276.

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10

Roth, American Pastoral, 256.

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11

Jonathan Franzen, The Corrections (Picador, 2002), 3.

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12

Franzen, The Corrections, 6–7.

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13

Franzen, The Corrections, 303.

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14

Franzen, The Corrections, 159.

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15

Salman Rushdie, Quichotte (Random House, 2020), 151.

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16

Mary L. Trump, Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man (Simon & Schuster, 2020), 43.

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17

Mary L. Trump, Too Much and Never Enough, 46.

Go to Text

Roger Cohen, “The Masked Versus the Unmasked,” New York Times, May 15, 2020 .

John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath (Viking, 1939), 32–33.

Steinbeck, Grapes of Wrath, 34.

Steinbeck, Grapes of Wrath, 34.

Steinbeck, Grapes of Wrath, 35.

Wayne Allenswroth, “Old America is Dead: Three Scenarios for the Way Forward,” Zero Hedge, June 29, 2020.

Allenswroth, “Old America is Dead.”

Allenswroth, “Old America is Dead.”

Phillip Roth, American Pastoral (Houghton Mifflin, 1997), 276.

Roth, American Pastoral, 256.

Jonathan Franzen, The Corrections (Picador, 2002), 3.

Franzen, The Corrections, 6–7.

Franzen, The Corrections, 303.

Franzen, The Corrections, 159.

Salman Rushdie, Quichotte (Random House, 2020), 151.

Mary L. Trump, Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man (Simon & Schuster, 2020), 43.

Mary L. Trump, Too Much and Never Enough, 46.

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