Keith's NO EMPIRE Blog

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Wednesday, June 01, 2005

No Empire (7/30/04)

The movement which began in opposition to the conquest of Iraq now continues in opposition to the occupation of Iraq. There is an awareness within the movement that Iraq is not an isolated incident and that the movement needs to address the ongoing problem of U.S. militarism. Additionally, there is a sense of the need to deal with other peace and justice issues not directly related to Iraq. These concerns need to be linked conceptually.

Structurally, all of these problems are manifestations of empire. The United States has a military presence in 153 of the 189 U.N. members, for a total of 725 overseas bases. That’s not defense, that’s empire! Additionally, over half of the world’s population live in countries whose economies are more or less run by the (U.S. controlled) World Bank and IMF. Further manifestations of empire.

Up until recently, the American empire was something of a stealth empire to most Americans. The cold war and official rhetoric provided semi-plausible pretexts for U.S. military interventionism and massive military budgets. Following the collapse of the former Soviet Union, however, the barely restrained use of military force (and threat of force) against defenseless Third World countries (justified by flimsy pretexts) has created a situation where the reality of empire is becoming obvious for all to see. This is the Achilles heel of the American empire. The American people are not likely to support Imperial wars of conquest. Once they are forced to accept reality for what it is, voluntary support for the system will collapse.

Aye, there’s the rub. Getting the American people to recognize reality in the face of massive propaganda to the contrary. Honest discussion is drowned out by the din of hundreds of media flacks, and the constant use of patriotic jingoism. Yet, if not now, when? Never has the disconnect between reality and mythology been greater. Now is the time to exploit that schism to shatter the mythology. Once people accept that America is an empire, their perception of reality will profoundly shift.

Imagery and vocabulary are critical. There is no such thing as a good empire. Empires don’t liberate, they conquer and occupy, subjugate and exploit, kill and terrorize. We don’t have a defense budget, we have a military budget. We are lied to by the corporate media. Our government mostly serves the interests of the corporate elite, whose control over the economy roughly translates into effective social control. The IMF and World Bank serve the interests of the First World corporations. The WTO, NAFTA, etc. are attempts to institutionalize world-wide corporate rule. The invasion and occupation of Iraq is an attempt to establish direct U.S. control over the Middle East oil reserves. Also, to send a message to other Third World countries to get in line and stay in line or else. Brutal Imperial aggression which all citizens have an obligation to resist.

An essential component of resisting empire is to identify the various manifestations of empire as examples of Imperial aggression, domination and control. We need to link the specific problem with the overall theme. END THE OCCUPATION and NO EMPIRE. CLOSE THE S.O.A. and NO EMPIRE. NO SPACE WEAPONS and NO EMPIRE, etc. All of these need to be visually linked through posters, bumper stickers, etc. Right now the emphasis should be END THE OCCUPATION and NO EMPIRE. We need to be creative in finding ways to break through the propaganda and discredit the mythology.

While ending the occupation of Iraq is a critically important part of opposition to empire, the end of the occupation would not signal an end to progressive attempts to roll back empire. No doubt opinions would vary as to post occupation priorities, however, I think that slashing military spending and dismantling the neo-liberal instruments of economic domination and control (IMF, WORLD BANK, WTO, NAFTA, FTAA, etc) are essential priorities. The key is to stay focused on dismantling the structural components of the American empire.

Stopping and dismantling empire will require a frontal assault on official mythology and propaganda. This can only be carried out through direct communication. Posters, bumper stickers, leaflets, whatever. The corporate mass media is an instrument of elite propaganda. Talk of media reform is a pipe dream, and a waste of time and resources. We need to find creative ways to bypass the media and, hopefully, discredit them as well. The intent is to create a network of people who are opposed to an American empire, and who share a fundamental belief in peace and justice. This could include considerable diversity of political perspective. The core unifier would be fundamental decency and opposition to empire.

Seattle Keith 7/30/04


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