Understanding the US Empire
Is the US Empire Different From the Ones That Came Before?
All empires have been about wars of conquest, plunder, enslaving and exploiting as many people as possible and bringing as much territory as possible under their influence and control and looting their resources for the enrichment of a few. Since it’s based on uneven, unjust and coercive distribution of wealth from many to few, an empire naturally depends on wars and constant threats and punishment to keep the order and keep expanding. The US Empire is no exception. But, is the US Empire qualitatively different from those that came before it? I believe it is and I don’t mean in its level of sophistication and technology, its firepower or the amount of territory and wealth it controls and exploits. What makes it different from the past empires, qualitatively, is the giant multinational corporations it is made of and represents, and its “need” and endless pursuit for profits. The need for profits is built into the economic system of capitalism that it’s founded on. Investing has to result in profit and capital must grow. It’s the logic and modus operandi of capitalism. This is why capital always goes beyond the borders of its origin, in pursuit of new sources of profits, which ultimately gives rise to imperialism and empire. In previous empires, greed was the driving force for conquering new lands and looting new riches, but, that greed was optional. It depended on a particular emperor and his associates, as to how aggressive they wanted to be. In the case of current imperialist states and US Empire, in particular, greed and pursuit of profits is built into and is a necessary part of the system. Corporations don’t decide to pursue profits as if it were an option, but, as if it’s necessity and the lifeline for their existence.
It may come as a disappointment for those who believe capitalism may be reformed and made more humane and more tolerable, but, a system that’s based on exploitation and accumulation of capital and wealth in few hands, will inevitably expand into new territories, which it will then need to control to ensure its uninhibited functioning and protect and expand its interests. And this will inevitably lead to imperialism and the rise of an empire, that cares for nothing, but the growth of capital and wealth. You can’t plant the seed of an unwanted weed and expect an apple tree to grow out of it. What a system grows into depends on its nature and character. Anything else would be surprising. So, when US policy makers say that they had to invade such and such country or overthrow such and such government, I believe them. But, they can’t honestly tell people why they had to do it. That’s why they have to come up with bogus excuses. And, that’s another sign of a corrupt economic system that it not only keeps enriching few and impoverishing the majority, and keeps going to wars, it also understandably and consequently can’t level with people as to their true motives and reasons. Public deception is another necessary byproduct of an unjust economic system. That’s why they constantly have to brainwash, misinform and distract.
The US government itself is not the empire. The corporations and their owners, collectively and as a class, are. The government acts as the facilitator, enforcer and agent of the empire and through its representatives, lobbyists, mercenaries, think tanks, researchers, economists, sociologists, media, lawyers, judges, legislators, police and military, helps drive, maintain and expand it, setting its policies, plotting and paving its path and enforcing its plans. The government is also tasked with selling its agenda to the public, minimizing people’s dissatisfaction, cracking down in case of an uprising and in general, protecting its interests and ensuring its smooth and uninterrupted functioning. When it needs to go to war or do a regime change, for example, it’s up to its representative government (and media) to prepare for and execute it. Notice, that the empire keeps the media in corporate hands to maximize public consent. When there is unrest, it’s again the government that gets involved. The government is also a conduit for setting and executing long term policies for empire. The elections it conducts give the empire’s owners an opportunity to select the best face and marketer of its policies. So, in short, the government acts as an hired executioner and should not be confused with the empire, which pays the salaries. Politicians, judges, news reporters, broadcasters, intelligence agents, military personnel, diplomats, as well as myriad organizations and governmental and non-governmental organizations and entities are the enablers and work for the empire.
So, whether it’s Hillary or Jeb Bush or Elizabeth Warner or Bernie Sanders who wants to be the next president, we must remember that what all these candidates want to become is the leader of the US Empire to continue to serve the class of owners. A just and free world will only be created with the dismantling and uprooting the Empire, not by continuing to maintain it and run it for the super wealthy. You won’t see a leader who would want to do that in TV advertisements and debates and will not be promoted by the corporations that make up the Empire. A leader who will want to really change things will be on the streets and will rise up in a popular movement like the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s, which produced leaders like Dr. King and Malcolm X, who challenged the Empire and try to serve it. I’m not saying let’s ignore elections and pretend they don’t exist. In fact, we must use elections to debate issues among the people on the streets to raise their awareness, but, we must not be naive as to what such candidates will or will not do once elected and what and whom they would really represent.
Some would say: empires will always exist and there is nothing one can do about them. This line of thinking is the second line of defense the empire counts on. Those who pass through the first line of defense and aren’t deceived by empty and false rhetoric, promises and nationalism and have somewhat of a better understanding of the motives and agenda of the ruling class, are often caught by and turned away by this second line of defense, namely, apathy – the belief that it will always be like this and people are completely powerless. This is totally false. There is no government, no matter how strong, that can stop a determined and united people and their movement. This may sound like a slogan or cliche, but, it happens to be true and history proves it. Social movements do not appear out of nowhere and because of leaders like Dr. King, alone. Thousands of individuals whose names are never known contribute with their actions and teachings, individuals who break free of the prevalent brainwashing and apathy. Of course, it goes without saying that confronting and defeating the Empire is no easy task, especially in the age of the NSA and Homeland Security and violent police on the one hand and a relentless and nonstop brainwashing that starts from childhood and works on us every time we turn on the TV, on the other, but, their extreme caution and what seems like an overkill speaks to their ultimate weakness and insecurity. They know about the power people have against them, even if people themselves don’t.