An alumnus of Columbia University, Berman completed his Ph.D. at Harvard University in 1968. He is on the editorial board of Dissent and a regular contributor to The Nation, The New York Times Book Review, Bennington Review, New Left Review, New Politics and the Village Voice Literary Supplement.
His main works are The Politics of Authenticity, All That Is Solid Melts Into Air, One Hundred Years of Spectacle and Adventures in Marxism and On the Town: One Hundred Years of Spectacle in Times Square. His most recent publication is the anthology, New York Calling: From Blackout To Bloomberg, for which he was co-editor, with Brian Berger, and also wrote the introductory essay. In Adventures in Marxism, Berman tells of how while a Columbia University student in 1959, the chance discovery of Karl Marx's Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844 proved a revelation and inspiration, and became the foundation for all his future work. This personal tone pervades his work, linking historical trends with individual observations and inflections from the situation.
During the mid- to late-20th century philosophical discourse focused on issues of modernity and cultural attitudes and philosophies towards the modern condition. Berman put forward his own definition of modernism to counter post-modern philosophies.
This view of modernism is at odds with post-modernism. Paraphrasing Charles Baudelaire, Michel Foucault simply defined Modernism as the will to –heroize– the present. Berman views postmodernism as a soulless and hopeless chamber in which a whole generation of Foucault's "followers" have chosen to suffocate and choke.
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