The Empire Strikes Back
There will be a lot of fodder for debate and a lot of controversial aspects that people are sure to disagree with. And I want to keep a metaphorical relationship between the government in discussion, to the Empire in the Star Wars universe. If you disagree that one is anything like the other you can argue that too. And if it is similar then what is it that makes it so? What is at the heart of this empire? And what is it that continues to put it in a position to be influenced and arguably taken over by the "Sith"? Is there a Palpatine among us? How do we detect a Palpatine? If there is, are there rebels who oppose this person and can they be successful?
This is an open discussion of sensitive beliefs and perspectives. I ask that people who choose to participate do so respectfully and abide by the supplementary guidelines specified in this post and in a thread I'm also starting called Verbal Combat: Aggressive Negotiations . This thread will serve to evolve a system of unofficial self-imposed regulations... a discipline for those who choose to approach discussion in similar fashion to light saber dueling.
Because I want my topics to be a positive experience for everyone, by posting on this topic you acknowledge that I am moderating it to some degree but am actively involved in it unlike a referee. So please respect: other participants, the progression of the discussion, differing opinions, differing personalities, people's time (in general), and an overall air of positivity. If you are in a bad mood please refrain from posting. If you started off in a good mood and someone said something that changed that then please wait at least an hour before responding. There is a way to imply personal faults indirectly. Please avoid doing that. If that's what you were thinking then you can reword it in a way that takes the other person out of the equation.
Example 1: Where did you get that idea from (other person is in the equation)
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Try not to make general conclusions about an idea if you don't agree. Your opinion is valuable but it doesn't automatically invalidate someone else's opinion. And you don't have to prove your opinion is superior in a way that discredits the other person or makes it seem like they're inferior to you in reasoning.
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I am no fan of the US government (or any government), but I would not call them an empire.
Kyrin Wyldstar wrote: No its not an empire. It is a democratic republic. As for striking back, striking back at what? by MAGA I assume you mean the Make America Great again slogan that President Trump used in his campaign. Im not sure how that equates to striking back?
First let's define what I mean by empire.
An "Empire" is (1) an extensive group of states or countries under a single supreme authority, formerly especially an emperor or empress.
"the Roman Empire"
(2) a large commercial organization owned or controlled by one person or group.
In my definition, and in this context, it is not strictly that but rather based on likeness or behavior. We can look at how the Roman Empire behaved but also the British Empire and how they maintained influence and control of territories. Every nation has foreign policy and foreign interests; especially with trading partners. But sometimes influence goes beyond this and other nations are often very wary of the US and it's influence because the US government has been known to involve themselves. (see imperialism).
For example... The US government has been trying to broker peace in the middle east for a long time but for what purpose? It is clear that Israel is a strong ally of the US and that the US never holds Israel accountable for any wrongdoing. What was the effect of Trump announcing that Jerusalem was the capital of Israel? Why was it so controversial? Would it mean the same thing if Jamaica recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel? Would it mean the same thing if Jamaica recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine? Why does anyone care if these states are truly sovereign? And... as an "ally" of the US isn't it possible for Israel to do things for the US that the rest of the world disagrees with without the US being directly responsible? And... hypothetically, say the US is an Empire, isn't it more... "efficient" to create local governments just like it is more "efficient" to create a representative democracy? Aren't empires fundamentally unpopular? Do empires even work? Does the US claim to be capitalistic and is the capitalism practiced in the US pure capitalism? Because if it's not then I would propose that classic definitions need not limit the scope of qualifying behavior.
In the end, I'm really not going to be moved from position by appealing to a classical definition, but rather I expect any Empire to disguise itself in order to maintain its holdings. If the US is an empire then I would expect it to be an empire in the most efficient manner which incites the least amount of rebellion. Empires and rebellions, in my view, are like peanut butter and jelly. The more you rob people of their freedom the more they will resist. Therefore, the US preaches freedom while using military and economic force to control people both in named territories as well as de facto territories. Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are US territories by name but if other territories are under US control by different means then the result is the same.
Although Kagan said he sought to avoid “a definitional argument,” much of the disagreement between the two scholars was over semantics, with Ferguson defining “empire” broadly and Kagan restricting the word to its more traditional interpretation.
Again... just to reiterate and keep us from repeating a pointless debate I'm using a paintbrush not a pencil. In my opinion *IF* the US is indeed more powerful than any empire in human history then we need to update our definition of the word and allow it to include a more successful version. Because in my opinion it is the denial of the word and the refusal of the direct responsibility that allows the US to operate an an empire and have that much power. But because we deny it in a literal sense Webster isn't going to update its definition to include the US and therefore people will continue use that to argue that it isn't. But definitions are not born from heaven. They relate to a standardization of a common tongue. Therefore, if it is true, that it is but that we're in denial of it then that denial is the reason the dictionary cannot be trusted. That's what denial is. We're lying to ourselves.
In the broader definition he favors, the United States ranks as one of the most powerful empires in all history.
“Militarily, economically and culturally, the United States has all the attributes of past empires,” he said. U.S. bases exist in almost two-thirds of the world’s countries. The United States accounts for roughly 40 percent of the world’s military spending. No empire has ever been as powerful as the United States in its ability to project its power around the world and into space.
The U.S. share of the world’s economic output is more than 30 percent, Ferguson said — three times larger in its share of global output than Great Britain at the height of the Industrial Revolution.
And the United States has the ability to make its cultural values attractive to other peoples.
But Americans refuse to believe in the existence of their empire. Ferguson said it is good for public officials to maintain this position. However, academics and intellectuals can afford to tell the truth.
“This is an empire in denial,” he said. “One that refuses to acknowledge its own existence.” For Ferguson, this state of denial constitutes the problem. He said that despite its power the United States has been one of the least successful empires in history. In its foreign interventions, it has failed far more often than it has succeeded in leaving behind its democratic institutions.
We have been preaching freedom, but is freedom truly what we bring to the world? Is Globalization, led by multinational corporations designed to bring freedom or to capitalize on cheap labor? If, I (representing a corporation) am paying you then I can argue that I'm not enslaving you and therefore you're free to work for me or not but I am guiltless. If anything I'm helping you. But this is what I say when in fact I am exploiting you and the difference in cost of living which is exploiting the relative poverty of your economy. And if I continue to pay you those same wages then your economy will only grow to the extent that you can buy the same things that my home economy can buy, but not from me because you couldn't afford it.
When slave masters in the south took slaves it wasn't about being evil it was about economics. They wanted to exploit human capital and even though they didn't pay their slaves, they paid "for" their slaves. The point of the money transfer wasn't to benefit the slave but rather the slave master. Now things have changed... evolved... but the US is still capitalizing on cheap labor for the benefit of shareholders. Think about it. Those shareholders collectively use their corporations to lobby the government. The government then has the power to force its citizens (via military service) to "improve the conditions" in other regions of the world as a farmer would till the ground to be ready for plantation (figurative and literal); ready for this system of Globalization where cheap labor can be harvested.
Now we don't think about it this way because we're not supposed to. It's their job to maintain the illusion that there is a separation between government and corporations (which are typically properties of wealthy families which takes the place of kings and their courts) the same way there is separation between church and state. If church corrupts the state then why would it be any different for corporations? Corporations don't advertise their relationships or brag about which politicians are in their pocket. If they did it wouldn't work! And that's why I'm saying it's an empire. Of course its not going to agree. If it did it wouldn't work!
Kyrin Wyldstar wrote: You have come to some hasty generalizations in characterizing the US govt as an empire based on some of its actions. The reason it is not an empire is because it does not call itself an empire. Sure one may characterize some of its actions as empiric but there is no grand conspiracy as you are trying to depict here that a secret empire is in operation. Meaning there are no policies in place that dictate it to be an empire. The US govt also has social programs in place and humanitarian efforts. But you are not calling the US govt a socialist state nor are you calling it a humanitarian state are you. In fact the US govt is one of the most complex and successful republics in the history of this planet. And that's all it is, a democratic republic based on capitalist economy. None of those aspects are pure - democracy is representative, republic is rule by the people, equal opportunity for all, not equal outcome. That is how its designed and that's how it operates. There will never be a perfect democracy because it leads to the downfall of a nation, there will never be a perfect capitalist economy and in fact ours is regulated. So its disingenuous to characterize a few behaviors and then slap a universal term of Empire on the whole. Its a fallacy.
It's not a fallacy and you proved my point by saying the reason it isn't is because it doesn't claim to be. This is like saying you're not a male because you don't claim to be. As a society we can deny your gender along with you but if gender is based on your genitalia then you don't "need" to say anything. You're identified by your features. Again, this denial exists for good reason. Because if it didn't deny it it wouldn't work. People would rebel. Consider the movie, The Matrix. While you were in the Matrix was there signs on every building saying "this isn't real. This is the Matrix." ? Someone almost had to literally tell you that it wasn't reality. And it existed exactly as such, as a deception, because that was the only way to get the stupid humans to accept the program. Make sense? I'll rest my case on that note.
MAGA or "Make America Great Again" is insidious in its tactical manipulation. Why? Because it capitalizes on people's pride and patriotism. But that last word... "Again" is loaded like the barrel of a tank. And maybe there is someone who has never considered this before but I would invite you to think about it from a different perspective.
mine... for example.
My pride and patriotism exists but it isn't cut and dry. It's very complex. I love the United States but I love it for the people who I see and experience making progress in a positive direction, not simply prosperity because that is an end that often does not justify the means. I love the potential for the US to be greater and that potential makes it great. But pride based on wealth and weapons, in my opinion, is a fallacy. I don't have that wealth. I don't possess those weapons. I cannot even ask for that wealth or those weapons. 99% of us cannot boast about our personal wealth. So therefore, to me, its more of a marketing scheme of the 1% to have us all be so proud of what amounts to their bank accounts. The American Dream is the idea... the notion... that any of us can ascend to those same heights. Sorry, but that's a lie. Billionaires are made in some of the poorest countries. So you can get rich anywhere you can find opportunities. But if opportunities are kept away from you then you can't dream the American dream. But perhaps there was a time when "some people" had an advantage that they still have but that grows less and less effective.
My father was an immigrant from Jamaica. He worked hard. He did well, relatively speaking. He became a Computer Analyst for the city and ran a department. For the record, a lot of Jamaicans do well and there are opportunities out there that Jamaicans and Africans and other immigrants uncover that perhaps most lower income Americans don't know about. And that is a thing that is great. At the same time I know my father desired to retire to Jamaica but the expense of all his responsibilities here became a trap. If you don't start the game with money its easy to leave the game with debt.
"Again" is a very loaded word to add because it then begs the question "If not now, when was America great?" To make it great again implies that it isn't great right now. And so we need to know what makes it great and what time period do you consider it being great and what precipitated its decline. If the average American is mostly concerned about having a job (which is perfectly fine and normal) then they would naturally feel threatened by the argument that "other" people are "taking" their jobs.
From my perspective, being black, I first want to know if people think America was great during slavery... and subsequently Jim Crow and segregation because A) is was obviously not great for my people it wasn't that long ago, C) My step kids were told just this very week that they should go back to the plantation, and D) when African Americans left the plantations and gained the very freedom that America (claiming not to be an empire) was advertising, we had to compete with whites for jobs. Whites didn't like that and unions started to form. One of the basic tenets of capitalism is competition and yet a segment of the American population seems to feel as though the "others" are "taking" their jobs when in reality either people are more qualified to do the job or others are willing to work for less. In either case, no one is hiring themselves. And no one is owed a job. The hiring decisions are driven by the very "market forces" that define capitalism.
And if white children are telling black children such hateful things these ideas must be heard from parents. And this is what I mean by a certain zeitgeist.