Clark will host cultural historian Morris Berman tonight for the first public lecture of the fall semester’s Difficult Dialogues Symposium, “The End of Things/Death, Extinction, Renewal.”
Berman will deliver “The Waning of the Modern Ages” at 7 p.m. Monday evening, in the Higgins Lounge at Dana Commons. An innovative cultural historian and social critic, Berman has taught at a number of universities in Europe and North America. In 2000 “The Twilight of American Culture” was named a “Notable Book” by the New York Times Book Review. This was the first volume of Berman’s trilogy on the American empire, followed by “Dark Ages America” (2006). After the publication of his last book, “Why America Failed” (2011), the Second Vermont Republic stated Berman had become “one of the very first well-known, left-wing writers to acknowledge that not only is the American Empire in decline, but that it is completely unfixable.”
According to Berman, the disintegration of the American empire, which we are currently living through, is actually part of a larger process of disintegration, namely the slow-motion collapse of capitalism as a sociopolitical formation. In America, laissez-faire capitalism succeeded by marginalizing all of the other alternatives for more than 400 years, eventually creating a way of life so lopsided that we are literally tipping over from our own “success.”
Other events and conversations in the symposium present opportunities to consider our situation and the questions of ending from a variety of perspectives. Sarah Buie, director of both the Higgins School of Humanities and the Difficult Dialogues Initiative, says the dialogue symposium topic is “provocative, multivalent, and will likely take us into unexpected territory.”
Featured guests to campus include Susan Herman (President of the ACLU), Elizabeth Kolbert (New Yorker columnist and author on climate issues), Susi Moser (consultant on climate change/adaptation and Clark PhD) and Tibetan monk Tenzin Yignyen, who will help us end the semester by creating and disassembling a sand mandala. For a complete list of events, visit www.clarku.edu/difficultdialogues.
All of the Symposium events are free and open to the public. They are sponsored by the Higgins School of Humanities. For more details, call 508-793-7479.
Clark’s Difficult Dialogues program is part of the National Difficult Dialogues Initiative to create a culture of dialogue on college campuses. In 2006, Clark was one of twenty-seven independent programs nationwide, selected from over 700 colleges and universities to have their original dialogue initiative program funded by the Ford Foundation.