Sunday, November 27, 2005

THE END OF EMPIRE?

For the US Empire to be replaced by a new empire, a potential candidate must exist. Rome had an obvious successor in Byzantium and possibly the revived Persian Empire. At the end of WW1 everyone knew the US was about to replace Britain. We do not have any obvious candidates to succeed the USA. The most powerful economy in the world is the European Union, the most important states of which are ex-empires and are aware of what a terrible burden the imperial mantle can be. The citizens of these countries would be against the resumption of empire. Other potential candidates are India and China. Both countries have internal problems that make the social, political and economic difficulties of the USA look mild by comparison.

China and India are such huge and populous nations they are virtual empires or worlds to themselves. They have enough problems of their own without taking on the rest of the world. Problems like massive demographic and environmental disasters, towering corruption, minority nationalist movements, and three quarters of the population in abject poverty. As well, China has yet to undergo a transition from dictatorship to “democracy”. Both economies are fundamentally weak, being dependent on cheap exports to the developed world – a free ride that could end suddenly with high petroleum prices or political changes in the importing nations.

The old empires could rely on military power alone. A modern empire must have some level of appeal, some aspect of universality allowing it to expand and hold populations. The road to empire for America was paved by several hundred years of “Occidentalization”, a result of European colonialism. American culture, attitudes and politics were not altogether foreign to peoples who had already imbibed Western notions of “democracy” “rationalism”, science, education and clothing styles. Keep in mind these Western notions, now universal in at least half the world, were initially adopted at gun point. The cultures of China and India, no matter how much the rest of us might appreciate their cuisine, philosophy or the music of Ravi Shankar, are cultures still too “national” to have universal appeal.

Consciousness plays a major role in empire building. Arrogance, xenophobia, racism, chauvinism and militarism are the attitudes that underlie the imperial ideology the majority of the population must possess in order to successfully pursue empire. One must hold others in contempt in order to dominate them. The ordinary person must believe in the righteousness of empire to willingly pay the taxes and give their lives in the inevitable imperial wars. The imperial ideology was at its height in the first decades of the 20th Century. Today, other than the Neocon lunatic fringe, it has few takers. As shown by the world-wide opposition to the Iraq War, most people reject militarism and empire-building.

The people of the world reject the Globalist’s New World Order – for what it is, a US dominated and driven global corporate state, Theirs is a new vision, of a world without empire, militarism and corporate greed. Theirs is a vision of grass roots, and therefore true cooperation among peoples, not states. Theirs is a vision of justice and peace, and thus the antidote to the disease of empire.

10 Comments:

Blogger labby22 said...

wow, you managed to speak for the entire world on this there porcupine!!!

"The people of the world reject the Globalist’s New World Order"

yes, yes, workers of the world unite....and all that huff.

I still contend however that once a void exists, a nation, or nations will stretch their hand out in an attempt to grasp that which is vacant. Nations, who for only years earlier lay prostrate, have risen and made a gamble. Or are we forgetting how close Germany came in the forties, after it was believed to be completely incapacitated.

I mean, you sit here and write up an entire post about how Imperialism is soooooooo dead, and there is no chance of it getting up again. I wonder if maybe you dont write these simply to wrap yourself in ignorance. Since humans have figured out how to fasten a sharp stone to the end of a stick they have been fighting eachother for control of resources. And yet we now are somehow gonna forget this violent way of life.

8:55 PM  
Blogger Larry Gambone said...

You only show your own ignorance. 80-90% of the world opposed the US attack on Iraq. Only the ruling classes are eagar and willing to support US imperialism. Never before has their been so much opposition to the empire. Look what is happening in Latin America. Furthermore, don't confuse end of empire with the end of struggle or even violence. That is a straw man argument. What is ending is the global domination of one parasitic power. There will still be hassels and conflicts.
Sure, maybe I am a little too optimistc, but at least I don't share your anal world view.

1:56 PM  
Blogger Larry Gambone said...

Of course,its easy to sneer - any nine year old knows how to do that. Imagine how far the anti-slavery movement would have gotten if they thought slavery was innate and eternal. One has to have a positive view, we must think we can win, otherwise we are defeated from the very start. You treat empire ahistorically. It is an historical phenomenon, which means it has a beginning in history and therefore an end. Empire is rooted in the development of the state and class division and the first empires developed out of the first states which arose among the Sumerians approx. 3000 BC. There is nothing eternal about empire, indeed the Middle Ages were without a true empire, and some people think we may be headed to a similar situation of multiple and diffuse power structures. Empire and corporate capitalism have presented humanity with a choice, destruction or change to a more democratic and decentralized politico-economic structure. I tend to think humanity has chosen the latter.

3:48 PM  
Blogger labby22 said...

"There is nothing eternal about empire, indeed the Middle Ages were without a true empire, and some people think we may be headed to a similar situation of multiple and diffuse power structures"

Ya, cause im sure that fuedalism is the answer your looking for Larry!! Gimme a break. And thanks for that concrete evidence, "some people think", wow.

6:36 PM  
Blogger Pat Murtagh said...

The 'Middle Ages' actually had many empires if you include the Islamic World, India and China in the summation. The Mongol Empires were also, of course, part of the 'Medieval World' as were the Holy Roman Empire at times of strength and the Angevin Empire.
All that being said it doesn't negate Larry's main point. Human society changes. Some of us call it "progress", and there is now a "self conscious" opposition to "empire" that has been an historical fact and thus an influence on history for over 200 years. This "idea" is not something that can be eliminated by simple minded tirades about inevitability. It will continue to exist and inspire resistance to imperial designs long after all of us who speak here are dead.
There may be something such as being too optimistic, but there is also something such as being too pessimistic and being proud of expressing viscious emotions that are better confined to 11:30 PM in a bar.

10:49 PM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...

Empires have existed since the rise of the state system, but until the British empire (or at earliest maybe 16th cent. Spain) nothing approaching a single global hegemon.

And even under the Brits, arguably, there was usually some challenge from some power dominating the Continent. The US Bretton Woods/UN Security Council system came a bit closer to true globalism than the British; but even so, there was still a rival power withholding major portions of the Eurasian heartland out of the Grand Area.

So the idea of a single state or system of states capable of dominating a global system has existed for a comparatively brief period. And although there will no doubt be small-e "empires," in the sense of regional power blocs like China and the EU, there is no prospect for a successor Empire after the U.S.

And btw, labby, you can "contend" for a different point of view without being a horse's ass. You should try it sometime.

9:42 PM  
Blogger Peter Porcupine said...

Soooo....If the European Powers don't want to resume Empiric status because they've been there, done that; China and India have their own fish to fry; there is no Africn or South Americcan country sufficiently organized to create an empire...

Does that mean since there is no successor we can just keep being one?

Or do we need to face the reality that there will be a totalitraim Arab/Islamic empire in our lifetimes?

7:13 AM  
Blogger Pat Murtagh said...

If you want a living example of islamic states who "go the limit" you can look at either Iran or Saudi Arabia. Both are indeed authoritarian, and both are very unpleasant places. Yet to call them "totalitarian" is to stretch the definition of the word to the breaking point. Yes, I know all about the historical influence of fascism on groups like the Muslim Brotherhood or the Baath Party, but the societies that the Muslim world HAVE created in "real time" are far from the the idea of "totalinarianism" that history produced in Europe and East Asia.
The actual fact is that Muslim societies are subject to the same sort of "push and shove" of interests as countries like the USA are, and they produce societies that are very similar to those desired by the ruling class of the USA at most times. In actual fact a lot of the Muslim countries are indeed very much American creations.
They will be totalitarian when it is in the interests of the USA, and not a second before. REAL totalitarian states such as Libya will switch their allegiance at will.
A final point...I have a minor interest in Islamic history, and I have read several books on the subject. The general impression I have come away with is that there is no more fissiparous group of people in human history short of the Trotskyists. I include the Protestants of the late Middle Ages in this comparison. I don't include American evangelical groups because I find it hard to take them seriously. Long before there was an "Islamic Empire" said caliphicate would tear itself apart in civil war.

7:07 PM  
Blogger eugene plawiuk said...

I will add to this debatewith a shameless plug for my blog article War and the Market State. Phillip Bobbitt says that Empire will be replaced by a Market State, which is now evolving out of the current round of Trade Agreements...interesting hypothesis...not quite a thesis or theory yet, cause we have not seen the death of the Nation State...however I put his analysis under my libertarian communist gaze and come up with some interesting connections.

7:24 AM  
Blogger Dick Martin said...

The End Of Empires? I don't think so; the Americans have become decadent with their power and will destroy their power with their lake of goodwill. They are loosing in South America. Bolivia just elected a radical native union organizer who is in good with Fidel and Chavez. They are loosing in the Middle East,and Africa is in chaos. Sure one could say that China is corrupt and and not able to organize itself as an efficient state, but look at the United States, the US has done everything the Chinese are doing now to come to power, i.e. the corruption, the mining dissasters and abuse of working people, civil war. Things move fast these days and it is amazing what the Chinese ruling elit have done, they are now the largest producer of information techonolgy hardware (Africa has cheap labour too, but none of this is happening there), and only a few years behind the US in a lot of technology things. Whether there will be a space in the contest of power for greater freedom I don't know but I guess it will be a long time before most of the world lives in cooperative commuity and freedom. I don't expect the revolution to sift down from what happens with state organization; we are talking about a distinct and different type of organization, an organization that operates through lateral connections like a network that is able to contain and isolate authoritarian lineal command social structures. I yet don't see how this is going to become any sort of reality soon, although there may be emergent possibilities, as there are very few working examples of this actually being the way people do things anywhere.

Dick Martin

10:21 PM  

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