Empire in the Mirror
Empire – A Tribe on Steroids
Inside the belly of the beast can the harbinger of what is to come be seen, for the internal machinations of the Pax Americana have become rusted and decrepit, its lifeblood infected and diseased by the spoils of its conquests and the narcissism of its hubris. In pursuit of unmatched wealth and power its internal organs have been infected by the malignancies of greed, arrogance and corruption, spreading from coast to coast, a haze of barrenness infiltrating every city and every town, afflicting a society 300 million strong, slowly yet invariably eroding the foundations of an Empire on fast-forward time, as if America’s domination has been accelerated, her reign compressed and her demise made absolute. Yet in her accelerated cycle can civilization once more bear witness that while the greatness of man may build empires, it is the deep flaws inherent in our nature that crumbles them as well.
What the genius of humankind helps construct the vices of the human condition will assuredly destroy, for what is history but a written record of our greatness always decimated by our weaknesses, of our vices, corruption and incurable penchant for death, violence and destruction as always laying waste to the marvels humankind is capable of constructing? What is history if not a linear pattern, repeated over and over and over again, regardless of time, location or of cultural differences, of the triumphs of humankind trumped and squashed by the mammalian passions and emotions inherent in our primate species, of our species taking a leap forward only to have us take two leaps back?
The story of America, whether as Empire or as superpower, is one of man’s penchant for absolute power, and how that power corrupts absolutely, as always without fail, along with man’s quest to continuously expand the power, wealth and reach of the tribe, usually at the behest of the leader(s), as always thanks to our inability to control our ingrained mammalian behaviors and psychology that, inasmuch as we would like to discard from our condition, remain deeply entrenched in our psyches and in our human-primate nature. We cannot compete with millions of years of evolution, after all, an existence based on epochs of survival and natural selection, on instincts and behaviors molded over eons that eventually determined who and what we are today. From our deep psychological need for a hierarchical structure in our societies, one based on rank or caste or socioeconomic status, to our almost universal acceptance – indeed a disturbing desire – in delineating power to an alpha male among us, usually chosen or tolerated as group leader, to the innate quest for wealth and power in men in order to attract the best possible mate for procreation to the primordial need to belong to a tribe, today categorized by the nation-state, to the insatiable protection of and desire for territory and its resources, our primate-mammalian behavior dominates every aspect of the human condition.
For what are we in reality – without the smoking mirrors of religion and the delusions of ego by which we see and judge ourselves – but a mammal that triumphed over all other hominid species, when such was the reality on the planet, destroying and making extinct all potential competitors through the violence and viciousness that are part of our nature and that we have seemingly perfected to an art form, until we alone remained, roaming the lands of Earth, in time becoming like locusts decimating forests and jungles and untold number of species in our quest towards becoming rulers of the planet? What are we if not a species born in violence and evolved through violence, forever bedeviled by our inability to control our animal urges, behaviors and instincts, always enslaved to the emotions of greed, ego, competition and selfishness, easily corrupted by the aura of money, materialism and wealth, frustrated by the always strong urge to copulate, controlled by our hunger to procreate, to attain the power and domination and wealth needed to successfully attract a mate and inevitably pass on our genes?
What is history if not a case study in the human condition, of our inability to cease war, violence, tribalism, destruction and of our inability to control the corruption spawned by power or the fragility of our psyches? What we are, is a species descended from the always brutal and difficult animal world, where survival is a matter of life and death, where selfishness is to live another day, where procreation is the driving force, where our greatest traits and most debilitating vices were first engendered and molded. Where we rose from and remained for hundreds of thousands of years determined who we are today, for 200,000 years as homo sapiens and 10,000 years of civilization cannot compete with millions of years of mammalian evolution nor millions of years of acquired behaviors, psychology, instincts and emotions that have contributed towards creating the most dominant species the world has every known. It is through studying Empire, therefore, that humanity, and civilization, can best be understood, for within its borders lies the greatness of man as well as the worst in the human condition, the reality of our enslavement to our evolutionary psychology as well as the necessary clues to escape our animal bondage.
What is Empire if not the basic human tribe on steroids, a case study into the success and failures of a collection of individuals comprising a vast population that has risen to the top of the human pyramid? Tribes of the past, bonded by and based on blood, ethic or religious similarities, competed with each other for marginal swaths of territory and resources, as far as small segments of land was concerned, relative to the size of Earth. Usually competition among rivals could be peaceful, based on diplomacy, or violent, based on the perpetual state of war humans have always lived in.
As humans grew in numbers so too did the size and numbers of tribes, invariably putting greater and greater stress on both land and resources, eventually creating a push phenomenon whereby weaker, less sophisticated, perhaps smaller tribes, unable to compete with the more powerful, larger ones, were forced out of the tract of land they inhabited. The strongest of these tribes usurped the land and resources they wanted and needed, usually by invasion or conquest, or by assimilation of the lesser, weaker tribe. These strong tribes thereby pushed weaker ones into new lands, as well as those new tribes created through discontent or due to differences among peers.
The push factor among tribes, as well as the search for lands full of resources and sustenance, gave rise to human migration patterns that eventually settled all of Africa, Asia, Europe, Oceania and the Americas. Over millennia, as tribes settled, grew distant to each other (both genetically and environmentally) and procreated within close genetic blood lines, similar ethnic traits appeared, showcasing homogeneity among populations, whether by the inter-breeding of close blood lines or by environmental evolutionary causes. Over generations various genetic mutations appeared, giving populations the distinctive ethnic or racial appearance we see today. It was the proximity of both genetic lines and tribal lands that created homogeneous peoples in various regions of the planet. It was the vast distances of Earth, or its naturally inaccessible barriers, that allowed multiple tribes to possess the genetic diversity we see today. Indeed, it could be said that Earth, with its continents and natural barriers, is to humanity what the Galapagos Islands are to its birds and lizards. Each region created its own ethnicities, based on distance, genetics and environment.
Once the available land’s resources and its habitability became compromised, a tribe would simply move to new land, either bumping into another tribe, where, depending on the size and power of the group, would proceed to invade, wage war, conquer and/or expel (assimilate) the new rival, or, if the tribe was stronger than the invaders, then sidestepping the territory and finding virgin land somewhere else, which would eventually over time run out of resources or be overrun by other tribes. In much the same way our closest primate relatives, chimpanzees, as well as many other mammal species, establish territories that are zealously protected. Indeed, we as humans are extremely territorial, as much as any other mammal, as can be witnessed by the endless conflict over land and resources since we left the jungles of East Africa that has oftentimes resulted in brutal warfare, mass murder, ethnic cleansing and untold levels of human wickedness.
It is humans, in groups or tribes or clans or families or city-states or nation-states or Empires, which compete with other rival groups for the Earth’s finite lands and resources, all for the greatest game on the planet, that instinct all Earth’s organisms possess, that drive called survival. It is in the world of nature, of which our species has been a part of for millions of years – to be distinguished from that of civilization – where survival of the fittest decides winner and loser, life and death, prosperity and ruin, and where natural selection oftentimes creates brutal and violent competition among rivals, along with all corresponding survival behaviors, that elevates surviving into a joust where living one more day is the ultimate reward. The world of nature is harsh, difficult and oftentimes violent, yet it is the rule rather than the exception, where all of Earth’s organisms gather to give great balance to the planet’s living world. It is from this context, and this reality, from which our evolutionary psychology rises, where our ingrained behaviors evolved and our undeniable penchant for control of both land and resources developed.
In Empire’s Shadow can Humanity be Seen
Throughout human history Empires have risen to the zenith of human achievement, becoming a regional hegemony unmatched by rivals, for years enjoying the glory of power and wealth, the torch of human greatness passed onto its people, only to eventually and inevitably fall to the embedded vices of the human condition, becoming the spoiled, gluttonous, arrogant, greedy, warmongering and deluded society whose foundations crumble below the weight of corruption and decay, creating over time the nadir of our worst failures, a failed state.
With the death of one Empire another will always be waiting in the wings, eager to take its place among the great monuments of civilization, ready to be crowned the next step in our evolution as a civilization, ready to partake in its journey through Empire’s stages, rising, maturing and falling, traversing from the principled and humble to the debased and arrogant, once more falling for the trap of humankind’s making, destroying itself from within at the hands of its own hubris and corruption. This Empire will in time, guided by the deeply flawed hands of man and by the unshakable reality that is the human condition, inevitably crumble to the ground, crashing upon its foundations, assisted in its downfall by the inertia that is humankind’s embedded mammalian psychology.
The inability of man to escape the instincts of the animal world, with our hunger for survival, of power and wealth, our pursuit of domination, comfort and territory, our bondage to ego and competition, with our drive, whether conscious or subconscious, of pursuing and securing the best genes for procreation – just as all living organisms are designed to do – have condemned us to repeat history over and over, forever to disregard its most valuable lessons, forever to remain adrift in the ocean of delusion clinging to the raft of our hubristic and self-deluded greatness.
Our species is impotent to the winds of change for we are and forever will remain slaves shackled to the demons of the human condition, the gumbo of our evolutionary tinkering deeply ingrained into our psyches, from our inception as a species making us who and what we are, making us highly susceptible to the debasement and vices prevalent in modern civilization, especially modern forms of Empire. Unable to see past the foggy mirror placed in front of our eyes by theology and our deluded ego, hypnotized we remain to our self-aggrandized beliefs, destined to forever believe ourselves god-like creatures whose mastery is unrivaled, our denial blinding us to a reality altogether different.
Ironically, the same mammalian instincts, behaviors and psychology that enabled us to become the dominant species on Earth, enabling us to lay claim as rulers over all things living at the expense of all forms of life on the planet, will invariably also help seal our fate, for what we once did to others, and today do to the planet, will inevitably one day in the not to distant future be done to us. We are human, after all, all too human, embedded in our being the seeds of destruction and brutality and violence that for too long been the hallmarks of our existence, for millennia decimating the planet, its living organisms and ourselves.
It is in Empire’s decline, therefore, that we can see how the human heaven eventually becomes its hell, how our greatest triumphs become our greatest defeats, how Empire’s virtues steadily become its vices and how our fragile psyches fall prey, as they always do, to Empire’s follies. What man does at its height and full glory, at a time when the baskets are full, springs are flowing and minds are at ease, can tell us who and what we truly are, helping us decipher the human condition, for if when times are good we invariably descend into the ominous caverns of human vice and wickedness, what does that say about us as a species?
It is inside the parameters of the lands called the United States that the downfall of humanity’s latest foray into Empire can readily be seen. Growing in size and proportion every passing year, her decline, while not imminent or yet seen, can nonetheless be felt, upon closer inspection, much like the movement of the winds or the arrival of the tides. Her destiny has always been foretold, much like every past attempt at human Empire, for nothing is as predictable as the human condition and our species’ inability to defeat the hands of evolution. In the delusion of our minds Empire seems like the chosen kingdom of the gods, yet in reality is but the consequence of our mammalian pathology, a quest achieved by gang warfare, violence, death, lust for territory, greed, arrogance, corruption of morality, hunger for resources, power, control and the always hovering ego.
The Pax Americana is as Empires have always been, growing internally at first thanks to comparative advantages in technology, population, philosophy or resources, flourishing regionally thanks to increased power and wealth, until that time that her belly overflows her waistline and the greed of man becomes the pursuit of imperial hegemony. To appease the growing hunger of her leaders for power and of her people for increased living standards expansion of her borders becomes state policy. Thus, Manifest Destiny is birthed and the hand of god is proclaimed to be the guiding force empowering the quest for expansion onward, thereby granting forgiveness, and an excuse, to the litany of crimes against humanity that is logically to follow.
Born through Manifest Destiny, growing and expanding, like any Empire before, through war, violence, genocide and ethnic cleansing of peoples whose lands she coveted, her appetite for land leading to rape, pillage and stolen territories, to the decimation and suffering of millions of indigenous peoples, enriching and gorging herself through the natural resources prevalent in the lands she stole in pursuit of Empire, her power and wealth growing exponentially through the mass exploitation and toil, not to mention the unpaid blood, sweat and tears of African enslavement, America set her sails on the course to hegemony, using the blueprints of Empires past to transform herself into a modern incarnation of Rome.
Ethnocentrically centered on her Anglo-Saxon pedigree, America would, in pursuit of possession of lands from Atlantic to Pacific, imitate her English predecessor, embarking on a Crusade of brutal warfare against America’s native and darker skinned peoples, decimating millions of human beings through destruction of cultures, decimation of societies, rape of women, pillage of land, genocide, ethnic cleansing and the devastation of a continent at one time fluid with heterogeneous cultures and peoples. It would be during her wars against the native peoples of America that the Empire’s xenophobia, racism, antipathy and hatred of those whose skin is the color of the land would be cultivated and conditioned into her population, to remain in perpetuity, transcending time and space, generation after generation.
It would be her sense of superiority over these “different” peoples that would nurture in America’s evolving character the belief that their death, cleansing and destruction – whether in the Great Plains or Southeast Asia or Latin America or Mesopotamia or among her very own urban jungles – would be of no consequence or importance, their death a product of expanding the Empire, their suffering seen as no more significant than that of an animal. In the quick span of time and conquest, between and during the intervals of constant warfare, those massacred and cleansed were seen as subhuman, savages and barbarians whose death and tragedy at the hands of Empire’s army were logical consequences to resisting Manifest Destiny and god’s chosen state.
Of course the torture, dehumanization, rape, pillage, brutal occupation, murder, humiliation, disappearances, decimation of human rights, false imprisonment, tyranny and utter contempt for human life prevalent in America’s disasters in Iraq or Afghanistan are not exclusive to the last few years. Rather, it has been methodical and systematic, an unending product of expanding Empire and of maintaining control over her vast fiefdoms throughout the globe, lasting over decades of time, past, present and future, afflicting millions from almost every land, of every religion, of every ethnic origin. It is the nature of Empires, and thus of humankind, from those in Mesopotamia, Asia and Africa and Mesoamerica, from Sumer to Babylon, from Egypt to Greece to Rome, from the Mayas to the Inca to the Aztec, from the Ottomans to the Persians, from the English to the Spanish.
The brutality of the Pax Americana, with the stench of death, indigence and suffering apparent everywhere it lays its omnipresent grip, is the result of policies created and enforced towards maintaining wealth and power, of expanding interests and of retaining control over the vast sphere of influence. It is the result of Empire building and of curtailing rivals and rebellions to its hegemony, of retaining for both the masses and the Establishment the greatest standard of living the world has ever seen. For the Empire, it is standard operating procedure, becoming the modus operandi of presidents, of time periods, of education and of generations born and dead, a policy to be continued until decline and fall or until its philosophy is altered from within.
To the heathens whose skin was and is the color of the earth, Manifest Destiny did not end with the extermination of the Native Indians. It has continued mercilessly, devastating millions of people whose only crime is inhabiting lands whose resources the Empire covets and whose slave labor her population depends on for their ever-expanding waistlines their voracious greed and ever-demanding standards of living. Indeed, it is because of the demands of the citizenry inside the Empire, whether made knowingly or not, by its sheer spending capacity, demand for goods, needs and wants, along with its refusal to institute change that America embarks on the destruction of lands and the near enslavement of peoples. Inside Empire her entrails must be fed and appeased to the engorgement of their lifestyles, less the hunger pains of having to live like the rest of the planet creep into existence, popping the infallible bubble shielded by predatory capitalism and debauched democracy.
The slaughter has not stopped, it has simply evolved, from smallpox-infected blankets, Fire Water and banishment into hellholes called reservations to the wholesale mass murder in the Philippines to the introduction of crack cocaine into America’s urban jungles to the devastation of economic genocide called sanctions to the virtual enslavement of land and peoples called market colonialism that has resulted in vast poverty and lost opportunity to the chemical WMD called Agent Orange in Vietnam that has killed hundreds of thousands and riddled with disease countless more to the herbicide warfare in Columbia to today’s dirty bombs in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon called depleted uranium, with cluster bombs, missiles and artillery raining down on innocent populations who will have to live generations with cancers, disease, death and deformities, the American appetite for violence is and has remained unrelenting, a natural product of her imperial and Empire aspirations, along with the love of materialism by her population that has, with the passage of time, only continued to grow.
Unwilling to alter a standard of living that has reached unsustainable proportions, with its population expanding instead of curtailing its outrageous demands for ever-increasing standards of living, its greed of material wealth and love of consumerism outstripping all semblance of control, the population inside the Empire are complicit in the crimes furthered by America. In its locust-like appetite for materialism and consumerism the citizenry of the Empire has condemned billions of their fellow human beings to a life in utter indigence, their abilities and talents used not for the betterment of themselves or their families, but for the greed of the plague hemorrhaging the planet towards its ultimate limit.
Untold millions remain at the margins of society, sacrificing opportunity and happiness, having to live inside polluted lands, under corrupted governments and under extreme duress, all so that the chosen few in America can continue living in privilege, comfort and security, without the concerns and stresses of billions, without knowing what suffering is like, without seeing that reality for billions is a life harsh, brutal and oftentimes full of tragedy, where life is lived one day at a time, meal to meal, surviving living in shacks, drinking foul water, hoping to escape the fate of disease, forced to allow capitalism to exploit your full life, slowly, yet surely, eviscerating the energy inside you that makes you human.
For the prosperity of 300 million people five billion must be sacrificed, their lands pillaged, resources stolen, their nations made subservient vassal states squeezed of their energy, their soils despoiled, air poisoned, water made toxic. Billions of human beings make two dollars or less a day, with billions making a dollar more, all living on fumes, finding food from the garbage heaps of society, forced to become the automatons churning America’s unending addiction to materialistic goods, transforming thinking flesh into robotic automation, becoming the slaves of the Empire, of the Pax Americana, the only nation blessed by the Christian god.
Every Empire has its domestic slaves, as well as its foreign ones, a servant class of people engineered by society to do America’s dirty, dehumanizing and hard labor, the kind of work hidden from view, tucked away in the armpit of the state’s cesspool, jobs Empire’s citizens no longer care to perform. It is the labor of sweat, of blood and of tears, of unhinged and exerted energy that punishes the body and drains the mind and that has produced in the citizenry such aversion to its toil as to grant it exclusive reservation to the slave class.
America is no exception, and inside its bowels, where once those of African origin boiled under the midday sun or inside the scorching factory, to be whipped or raped or lynched, where once the Irish and the Italians and the Germans and the Polish suffered severed limbs or broken backs and worn out bodies, today imported from Mexico and other “southern” nations a new generation of Empire’s slaves can be seen, picking up where the slaves of old left off, fighting xenophobia, injustice, inequality, discrimination and prejudice at work and at play, their dark skin and indigenous faces making them aliens and criminals in a foreign land, the new scapegoat to the native population, the new untouchable caste whose work and toil add comfort and relaxation to the citizenry, their only crimes the pursuit of a better life, the pursuit of happiness and the chance to be human, an opportunity to escape the market colonialism masked in neo-liberal colors and NAFTA language and sweatshop reality, as well as the corrosive omnipresence of the Empire that devastates all southern peoples not living inside its borders.
Wherever one cares not to look is where this new slave works, hidden behind the periphery, squeaking out a clandestine life, becoming a shadow of a human being, marginalized and blamed by the ignorant and fearful for the Empire’s ills, doing all the work the gluttonous citizenry has become too arrogant and lazy to perform, laboring so that the populace can retain their ravenous standard of living. Indeed, they have been allowed to enter the domain of the Empire undocumented with a wink and a nod, for the Establishment, as well as the intelligentsia and the corporate world, know that they are vitally important to the short and long term economic vitality and increased standard of living of America and its people, injecting new life and energy, as well as new ideas, into the Empire, regardless of what the ignorant, uneducated and fearful masses may think and notwithstanding the political spin so-called lawmakers give.
Over the last several decades it has been the Empire’s society itself, those hundreds of millions residing inside the only land blessed by the Christian god, that has raised the specter of worry among many who think that America has begun its eventual decline and fall. It is the Empire’s hubris and mentality of ignorance among its people, along with its materialist and consumerist addictions, bred from birth and through nurtured brainwashing, that has indeed launched the Pax Americana’s decline into orbit. Today’s citizenry has become lazy and complacent, with the absolute hypnotizing trance of television helping to morph normal human bodies into the obese creatures of gluttony. Television monitors have become the sun Americans revolve around, inside their little solar system the small moons of remote controls hover close by, with meteorites called crumbs landing and dotting the surface of the torso, the family couch becoming the Jupiter to our Uranus, the glow of our all powerful sun feeling warm and cozy and hypnotic to our brain dead thoughts.
The population has fused itself with the always-expanding vehicle, one becoming part of the other, with humans dependent on the driving and power of the car to transport them even to the nearest store, one block away. It is for those who drive and gorge on gas every week that Iraq is being destroyed by the Empire’s military. No longer walking or exercising, only doing snack and junk food aerobics with the wrist and fingers, Americans and their waistlines have exploded outwards, showcasing symptoms of the diseases of greed and gluttony, much of it the result of both laziness and the chemically-laced, hormone-full, preservative-saturated, sugar-coated garbage we call food.
The American people pray nightly to the television monitor, its human actors becoming the new mythological gods and goddesses, adored and elevated and seen in perfection, the Almighty Dollar becoming the new god of worship, the grand cathedrals of commerce called malls becoming the new sacred ground from which capitalism and human can be brought closer together, joined in a heavenly satisfaction of inner turmoil by the purchase of material goods. It is capitalism, and the mirage of comfort it spawns, that has made the Empire’s populace complacent, obedient, comfortable and unwilling to question authority. These are but the crumbs and bones and scraps capitalism’s masters give the masses to remain silent and acquiescent.
The Empire declares itself the land of the free, yet its population works the most of any developed nation, almost becoming automatons in need of no rest or relaxation. It becomes sacrilegious to take time off work and cherish one’s family; it is heresy to take time off in order to take care of personal duties. Americans either become addicts to work and slaves to their bosses or one becomes an unwanted pariah. The pressure to conform and remain complacent while the system shackles one’s life is omnipotent; its effects on stress and life become extreme burdens on one’s psychology. Every year hails the arrival of more police powers, more autocratic rule, less democracy and civil rights and liberties. Every year sees the government of, by and for the People transformed into one of, by and for the Corporate World.
The Empire leads the world in psychotropic, sedative and anti-depressant drug prescriptions, as if its populace is suffering extreme forms of mental disorders, with stress and depression rampant, unhappiness continuing to rise and the overall feeling of well-being eroding with the passing of the seasons. People are overworked, underpaid, struggling to make ends meet, even with two jobs, fearful and made insecure by the same government created to protect and defend them. Television has become teacher, parent, babysitter, best friend and role model for children whose brain waves are being rewired thanks to the rapid imagery and fast sound bites seen on the monitor, their behaviors being conditioned to suit the interests of the corporate world, in time becoming one more serf to the corporate master. Reality cannot offer perfection and so Americans seek the fictions of television, becoming glued to the shows that offer the greatest beauty, the best fantasy, the happiest ending, the joyful perfection that humanity always seeks yet can never achieve.
Every year that passes the decimation of education by government can be seen and felt, with students falling behind world leaders in the sciences, liberal arts, mathematics and in reading. Americans no longer have knowledge of the world outside their immediate bubbles, understanding little about other cultures and even less about history. University tuition and costs have seemingly continued to rise on a per year basis thus having the effect, along with the slashing of funds for both student loans and financial aid, of making college unattainable to millions of otherwise qualified individuals. Elementary and secondary schools now teach to standardized tests, besides having funds slashed across the board, creating entire generation of robots and automatons, thereby helping to erode free thought, reasoning skills, logic and critical thinking, in essence preparing children for a life as unthinking drones, engineered for obedience and blind loyalty, not one full of knowledge and free thought. This might be, in fact, exactly what leaders have had in mind all along, for an uneducated mind is easier to control and manipulate than a thinking, knowledgeable one.
In the most powerful and wealthiest nation on Earth, one that considers itself an Empire, superior to and above all other states on the planet, pregnant with a myriad number of colleges and universities, it is incomprehensible that inside its borders exists a level of fundamentalist religion that beckons the days of the Dark Ages, a time when humanity turned backwards in time, doing its best to declare open warfare against science, reason and logic. Where one would expect renaissance and enlightenment, because of education levels, wealth indicators and standards of living, instead one finds open hostility to knowledge and an uncompromising love for ignorance. Where one would expect secular thinking and scientific reasoning instead one finds religious conviction and archaic, primitive thought.
Indeed, the religious fanaticism prevalent among large segments of society is a symptom of the disease called under education, of the state purposefully creating millions of ignorant, unthinking citizens, the easier to control and dominate them. For if they can be brainwashed from youth to place blind faith and loyalty in an entity never seen or heard, thinking this hollow fantasy an Anglo-Saxon white man with a white beard hovering in the sky above, then how easy can it be to condition them to place blind faith and loyalty in a tangible, visible government creation that is manufactured to be the only human entity capable of protecting and securing their person and family?
Where one would expect common sense to prevail, such as in the use of contraception and in the reality of evolution and global warming, instead one finds the idiocy of abstinence, of creationism/intelligent design and of the Rapture, all based on the thousands-years-old, primitive, archaic and fantasy-laced fables and myths. Only in America, among developed nations, can scientific fact be challenged by theological ideology, making science fit the religious beliefs of the nation. Only in America can the obviousness of evolution be ignored and discarded, to be denied its teaching in a 21st century classroom. In America, pro-life means saving pin-size zygotes, but not the life of the diseased or of the suffering through stem-cell research. Pro-life would rather have a woman and child suffer in indigence and lost opportunity for life rather than giving the woman a chance at a better life down the road. It would call the destruction of microscopic cells murder but stay silent on the mass killing by America of over 250,000 innocent Iraqis.
It is in this religious zealotry that one can see the xenophobia, indeed the boiling hatred, that millions of Americans possess for the Empire’s new enemy, the dreaded Arab. Combined with the rabid patriotism, blind loyalty and love of the red, white and blue – betraying the high level of testosterone inherent in America’s tribal fascination – evangelical belief loves to hate dark-skinned enemies, bomb innocent heathens and wage war on the descendents of the New Testament people which, naturally, like Jesus himself, are Arab. Unlike Jesus, however, whom they hold in very high regard, they have no qualms unleashing state sponsored terror on the innocent, on children, babies, grandparents and women. Such is the culture of life.
In this frenzy of manufactured and conditioned hate we see the engine moving the pistons and spark plugs of America’s Middle East disasters, with blind loyalty to flag and cross, confident that the infidels will be brought under the boots of the great American military. In the mammoth churches of the evangelical cults can we see the grease lubricating the American military-industrial complex, granting it the green light needed to eradicate the lands of ancient Mesopotamia, where the Euphrates and the Tigris meet, where Babylon once stood, where civilization itself first breathed life. The fear and bigotry against those they do not know or understand, against those they are told are the enemy, are a corrosive and dangerous belief structure, one based on ignorance and blind faith. Millions of ethnic minorities throughout history have been exterminated for less hatred engendered.
War as the Health of the State
With the rise of the Industrial Revolution giving her the strong winds needed to maintain Empire’s momentum, America soon found herself growing exponentially, rivaling European powers, yet confidently knowing that her endowed resources, both natural and human, combined with her rivals’ lack thereof, would eventually allow her to supplant those she desired to become. All that was needed was time and perhaps even a little luck. Coincidentally, it would be the unlucky disasters of World Wars I and II, both of which devastated America’s European rivals, that would grant America the ascendancy, as well as the opportunity, she had been waiting for. It would be through war that the health of the state would be assured.
After the end of the Second World War, with her rivals decimated and in desperate need of both reconstruction and peace, America became the world Empire her masters had always envisioned. Not only would America rebuild Europe’s and Japan’s battered infrastructures and economies, not to mention Western Europe’s militaries, resulting in an immense shift in the balance of world power, she would also go on to usurp Europe’s colonies in the Middle East, with their vast petroleum fields, as well as those of Asia and Africa whose natural resources the western world coveted.
With Latin America already firmly in her tight grip, America would, thanks to the manipulations and fears of the Cold War, extend her imperial hegemony throughout the globe, using her military to overtly control the world’s natural resources, her growing intelligence services to covertly dominate the nations of the planet, her wealth and power to support and maintain puppet regimes, her corporations to supply the world with American goods and military equipment, and her political strength to dominate world affairs. The Pax Americana had, thanks to the wickedness that is human war, become the dominant nation in the free world, becoming, again, thanks to human destruction and violence, the new Empire, an entity whose dominance would not and has yet to be challenged.
World War II, with its eventual carnage and suffering, its devastated peoples and ruined cities, with the tens of millions of dead human beings, nonetheless was the catalyst that propelled the American Empire to new heights, leaving its motherland untouched and unharmed, allowing it to spread its military to all corners of the globe, creating a plethora of golden opportunities it would take full advantage of. Following years of depression that only entry into the war could alleviate, America was transformed from rising star to full-fledged Empire. If war was the health of the state, World War II was the wonder drug – the penicillin – that inoculated America from malady and gave it superpower status.
Like all Empires, America began her quest for hegemony through warfare, a tool that would suit her needs quite well in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, though like a powerful narcotic would soon become an addiction she would not be able to exorcise from her psyche. From the inception of her creation war, and her ability to wage it, has been of paramount importance, both for the well being of the economy and to the mythology of her greatness. It has been war, along with her success, or failure, on the battlefield, that has defined both America’s history and her people’s belief in her omnipotence.
Indeed, the use of war has created the national character just as much as the national character has created war. America’s over 100 military interventions throughout the world since the start of the twentieth century, to say nothing of the various adventures against it own indigenous population in the nineteenth century, has conditioned the citizenry to an almost perpetual state of warfare, passed on from generation to generation, that has served to create a war culture ready almost at a moment’s notice to march lock step with the thunderous drums of war generated by the government and, most recently, by the military-energy-industrial complex.
War is as American as apple pie and baseball, a national pastime that serves to maintain the perpetual wartime economy so needed for a viable standard of living. It has been her many wars that have contributed to her unsurpassed wealth and power, for her military has at present established over 700 bases worldwide, most of them located in vital geostrategic lands full of important natural resources and interests. Firm control over the world’s natural resources, especially petroleum, has assured America of cheap raw materials from which to exploit, basically pilfering them from third world nations, offering very little in return, only enriching the elite majority at the expense of the indigent masses, while helping to increase the giant, though excessively gluttonous, America empire. Much of her wealth has been and continues to be generated from the suffering of billions of humans who will never see the benefits of the treasure that lies below their feet, as well as the pillaging of resources, along with the rape of land, air and water, that do not rightfully belong to her.
America’s addiction to war has created a war culture at ease with the idea of warfare as a means of securing for the nation and the citizenry a comfortable standard of living. In order to maintain the comfort and excesses afforded inside the Pax Americana, full of cheap gas, lumber, minerals, foodstuffs, goods, construction supplies and raw materials, the nations of the globe, especially those of the south, must supply America and her economy with the natural and human resources needed to quench the hunger emanating inside the belly of the beast. Using the allocation of power it maintains, along with its unequal bargaining power, America has established with the nations of the south very favorable trade terms so that it may continue pillaging the resources it needs to maintain its unsustainable development. It therefore supplies itself with great natural wealth at very low costs, exploiting and devastating the lands of the south so that its economy may continue expanding and so that its people may continue living in comfort and gluttony.
This is the reality of America, though today Empire, instead of stretching for a few thousand miles, encompasses all corners of the globe. Its reach is omnipresent; its grip omnipotent. From exploiting mineral wealth in Africa, timber in Asia, oil in the Middle East, produce in Latin America and cheap, slave labor throughout the southern nations of the globe, the Pax Americana has assured itself of the very best resources from all reaches of the planet, all at the lowest costs and prices. Since its corporations dominate world trade, since its political power is that of Empire, America determines policies as well as terms, assuring itself of free rape, pillage and destruction of lands, resources and peoples it wants to exploit.
With a myriad number of governments, dictators and so-called kings in firm, clenched American control, with reward given them if they obey the Empire’s dictates, with punishment if they do not, the nations of the planet are but fiefdoms of the Empire, with proconsuls and chieftains and lord and masters guarding America’s lands and resources, with its garrisons and centurions and legions protecting her interests. With the expansion of Empire also comes an expansion of its military, for citizens of the lands being exploited and pillaged need to be controlled and dominated, lest rebellions and revolutions and movements try to usurp power from America.
The peoples whose lands and resources are needed by the Empire do not take kindly to having their lands destroyed, their resources stolen and their lives made barren, and must therefore be controlled and made subservient to the dictates of Old Glory. It is therefore imperative for the Empire to maintain order in the lands it controls, and must thus have garrisons and bases throughout the globe. Today, these number over 700 worldwide, the product of protection of resources, assets, interests and geostrategic locations, of establishing a presence, of intimidating potential rivals, of squashing any form of challenge to the Empire. This is the reality of today’s Empire; a modern day version of Rome on steroids and human growth hormone, needing war, tyrannical vassals and all forms of unscrupulous accords to maintain power and control and a belief in its god-given right to exploit the entire planet for its continued, and dangerous, reign.
Lesson Learned or History Repeated?
It is within America’s borders that the erosion of her power and wealth can be studied, where the rampant decadence can be traced, where her lost values can be seen and where her afflictions can be analyzed. It is inside her where the human condition can be analyzed and where we can see, quite possibly, the direction where America and humanity are headed in. For over one hundred years she has been the Rome of the modern world, unrivaled in power and reach, for years the leader in introducing new technologies and medicines, her higher education once highly sought by the world’s university students, her cities expanding vertically as well as horizontally, their wealth apparent with the construction of giant skyscrapers, giving rise to a new paradigm in human ingenuity, creating steel and glass canyons populated by millions of human beings, her population rising from an amalgam of the world, her principles becoming a shining beacon upon civilization, a land like no other, at one time full of opportunity, sought after by millions of individual people from all over the world, her pursuit of equality, freedom and democracy spawning innumerable admirers throughout the planet. Her principles and culture have reached every corner of the globe, her wealth and influence have touched every single human being; like Rome before, she will undeniably leave a legacy wherever her hands have touched.
Yet the corruption of her society, its love for the Almighty dollar, the debasement of her principles, and the outward decay of her foundations can all be seen in the darkness that is her present existence, like a full moon finally giving light to dark surroundings. She is Empire, not unique and not new, not the first and not the last one; her methods are those used by all powers that have come before, regardless of size or power, of wealth or location. Empire is humanity just as much as humanity is Empire. It is our greatest desires giving rise to the best in humanity, only to have our deadliest vices entangle us in a web of corruption and debasement. Empire is war and conquest and destruction and suffering, regardless of time or of power, showing us, more than anything, that it is humanity that must change Empire, not the other way around. Only then can Empire as we know it be crushed, its violence and exploitation and corruption of human behavior finally suppressed and put to rest.
Yet for some reason the human condition demands that Empires rise and dominate, just like they have from the very beginning of our long journey on Earth. We as a species can never seem to escape this reality, just like we oftentimes fail to dominate our primate urges and behaviors. We must understand our origins in order to understand our psychology and our actions and maybe then, after careful examination and upon further introspection of ourselves, looking not into a foggy mirror but into a lucid image of who and what we really are, will we be able to exorcise our innermost demons, shedding our violent skin aside, understanding our mammalian origins, and hence our behaviors, and forever putting a stop to the human malady of warfare that always seems to resurrect itself from our psyche at the touch of our passions, emotions, behaviors or instincts. Perhaps we will one day learn to control the wickedness that for too long we have unleashed upon our fellow human beings. It is in Empire’s cycle that humanity’s truth can be seen. It is in its actions that our behaviors can be studied and analyzed. In Empires past, present and future we see ourselves; in their history can we see our future.
Like all Empires before and all that are surely yet to come, America has reached her apex and downward is she now headed. One day soon the torch will be passed on to a new generation of Empire, surely, like her predecessors before her, following the cycle of hegemony, rising, maturing and eventually falling, growing pure, reaching the pinnacle of power, declining, debased and corrupt just like her predecessors, her citizens growing self-aggrandized, gluttonous, ignorant and arrogant, their delusion of grandeur and superiority unleashing suffering and violence upon the world. Perhaps, however, tomorrow’s power will learn from the present’s errors, absorbing the lessons inherent in the rise and fall of the Pax Americana, understanding that our human nature is as powerful as our greatest technologies, if not more so. Perhaps humanity will learn as well, preferring to live in unison rather than die divided.
For Empire today is global, no longer is it the regional power of yesteryear. As a result, the playing field has shrunk, the powerful competitors are closer and the chances for conflict have intensified. With dwindling resources, especially those of water and oil, with a booming human population, with the existence of nuclear weaponry, with global warming soon to unleash its dastardly consequences upon our fragile civilization, with human nature being what it is and with the primitive love of tribe and theology embedded in our psychology, the danger of self-extermination has grown exponentially, threatening to destroy all life on the planet.
With a future based on more conflict, not less, with old Empires and new rivals ready to wage battle over territory and resources and power and control, there now emerges a vitally important decision to be made: do we continue our ways, which based on technology and human nature means certain extermination, or do we find common ground, understand who and what we are and deviate away from a path that continues to bring us closer to the brink of self-destruction? Unfortunately, momentum is with the former, just as it has always been. Dare we change it, and the course of human destiny as well?
Something much greater than humankind’s primitive fascination with the tribe or Empire must surely exist, waiting to be incorporated into human civilization, waiting to shed its enlightenment upon all of humanity.