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JimD

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Empire - America and the future
« on: October 23, 2013, 06:13:58 PM »
We talk constantly on the Forum about American motivations and intentions.  There is often a big divide between what the non-American posters think is going on here and what those of us from the States think about what motivates Americans and what we intend to do in the future.  Or perhaps it would be better to say what the folks who make the core decisions for America intend to do in the future as I don't think they are listening all that much to what we us peonos have to say.   There is huge frustration on the part of most posters here with the intransigence of American policy and decision making at our leadership levels.  I offer a partial explanation.

I argue all the time that most US actions can be best explained by examining them in the light of what it takes to run and maintain our empire.  Below you will find an example of what I am talking about.  In the lead paragraph an author/historian named Chalmers Johnson is mentioned.  If you find the article interesting and want to learn more about this subject I would suggest (as SH did earlier) that you visit your library and check out a few of his books on this subject.  They are excellent from my perspective of a former cog in the gears turning that empire wheel.

http://www.tomdispatch.com/archive/175568/
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2013, 08:04:02 PM »
I argue all the time that most US actions can be best explained by examining them in the light of what it takes to run and maintain our empire.  Below you will find an example of what I am talking about.  In the lead paragraph an author/historian named Chalmers Johnson is mentioned.  If you find the article interesting and want to learn more about this subject I would suggest (as SH did earlier) that you visit your library and check out a few of his books on this subject.  They are excellent from my perspective of a former cog in the gears turning that empire wheel.


I think the US comes in for a lot of attention as not only is it a major carbon dioxide emitter, one of the highest emitters per capita (right at the top if you rule out small nations), a major historic emitter - but also it's currently enjoying the later days of a role as the worlds eminent superpower (much as the country from which I originate did before my lifetime).

I find the US fascinating in many ways - it's a large diverse country, with all sorts of views and opinions. The thing that stands out the most to me though, is not the military strength of the US (which seems rather poor if you consider the cost gone to in order to achieve it), or the territorial control wielded through alliances (if such term applies to much weaker partners like the UK), or the economic strength (which is considerable) - but the brilliance of the American propaganda machine.

So many of the people there believe it is a bastion of freedom and individual rights, and yet it has the highest incarceration rates in the world:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_incarceration_rate

So many Americans believe the role of the US in the world (and hence of all those bases referred to in your link) is to spread freedom and democracy, but yet I'm fairly sure the US is one of the only if not only nation on earth willing to mass kidnap citizens from other nations as a matter of top level policy and imprison them for decades without charge, trial or due process - and to add icing to the cake to torture them to boot (I grant numerous other nations are complicit in the rendition and torture network, and the UK is certainly not exempt from involvement in torture).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wech_Baghtu_wedding_party_airstrike

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/may/22/uk-support-cia-rendition-flights

http://www.policymic.com/articles/23174/guantanamo-bay-detainees-most-are-cleared-for-release-but-remain-in-gitmo

Americans believe they are most of the world, and the rest is just little places that don't matter (though I imagine the people who really run the show know better, or they wouldn't bother with interfering with the rest of the world).

http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/politics/stories/9-of-the-stupidest-geography-gaffes-by-politicians

They believe they are a leading nation in just about any indicator you care to measure, despite the fact academically other nations are climbing fast - from a position of leadership.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/11/education/us-students-still-lag-globally-in-math-and-science-tests-show.html?_r=0

Another reflection of the brilliance of US propaganda is the insidious spreading of memes from the nation to the rest of the world. You see this with some people in Russian cities today, who despite living to a standard at least as good as many in America, continue to believe they are poor and deprived and the streets of the US are paved with gold. It's ironic that America spends so much time and effort shouting about it's prosperity (for the few) and values (smoke and mirrors) and then complains when so many people believe it and try to move there!

This same effectiveness of propaganda is seen in the enthusiasm with which other cultures and nations have embraced the American idea of progress - the basic idea of which seems to be the sustainability equivalent of smashing down the door to your childrens room, taking all their things, using what you can and destroying what you can't - then returning to cut their throats for good measure when there's nothing else left (I refer to resource depletion and climate change and the way the attitudes of those who make decisions in every day life really will hurt those in the future or younger).

And there I realise perhaps I've succumbed to the propaganda somewhat myself - because it is really the American idea of progress? Or was it inherited from the British empire - which Gandhi described thus:

Back in 1928, Gandhi warned about the unsustainability, on a global scale, of western patterns of consumption. "God forbid that India should ever take to industrialisation after the manner of the west," he said. "The economic imperialism of a single tiny island kingdom [UK] is today keeping the world in chains. If an entire nation of 300 million took to similar economic exploitation, it would strip the world bare like locusts."


And just rebranded and claimed by America, as it grew out of the ashes of the British empire?

Regardless, I perceive propaganda as being the unique strength of America (the British empire tended to go in for more slaughter, arguably). The level of development of this technology can also be seen in the ability of so many people there (compared to other nations) to deny basic science (note belief in creationism and climate change denial).

The first thing many people from the country will do when a non American says things that sound critical is to attack their basis for knowing about the nation. I have spent several years of my life (cumulatively) in America. I used to be married to an American. I've taken the time and trouble to examine the constitution somewhat (and various other areas of legislation but mostly specific subject areas) and discuss politics at length with people there. I have friends there (some of whom would even agree with my sentiments above). I've had my fair share of negative dealings with the US, just as with the UK (of which I also hold just as many negative sentiments but voice them less often here as the UK is no longer especially significant globally). After the UK, I can confidently say the US is the country I know the best.

I also would grant that my views have been changed by experience of the US, though perhaps not in stereotypically consistent directions. On gun control I've moved from roughly neutral to firmly pro gun. On healthcare I've moved ever more firmly in favour of public healthcare along European lines (I mean, call yourself the land of opportunity - and can't provide basic universal healthcare?).

If my general views on both nations (US and UK) are becoming more negative, that would be because my ongoing experience of life as influenced by both nations is becoming more negative - as well as the destruction of my future and any expectation of ultimate quality of life as I grow older.

Additionally with the recent spying revelations from the US, I can be pretty confident I'm under surveillance (despite not having exactly done much wrong). Given that innocent until proven guilty is a dying concept in these nations, I feel personally threatened (one is on shaky ground merely being prepared to challenge the status quo).

Anyway, that's the perspective of an outsider, which is all I am anywhere.

ggelsrinc

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #2 on: October 24, 2013, 09:16:08 PM »
Permit me to take an alternative and perhaps minority point of view and I'll try to keep it as simple as I can!

The American people don't want an empire and they had the sense to know from the first days of their foundation, that the days of empire are gone. Did the Brits know that at that time? It's an illusion that the American people have it so good or have ever had it so good. Our world is just as unkind to us as it is in most of the nations of our world, so enjoy what life you have.

I hear a voice of disinformation echoing around my world and it's always in the English language. Since it comes from places like the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia, I can figure the rest of our world must have grown up enough to not behave so crudely and that "shut the hell up" day has never dawned in those English speaking places I identified.

Bitter grapes are better to make wine and not whine, during our dust to dust lives. Death visits the elite the same way it visits the poorest of mankind, so it all equals out in the end.

Is that doomsday enough to suit the palate?   


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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2013, 12:54:30 AM »
I hear a voice of disinformation echoing around my world and it's always in the English language. Since it comes from places like the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia, I can figure the rest of our world must have grown up enough to not behave so crudely and that "shut the hell up" day has never dawned in those English speaking places I identified.


Do you speak many other languages and fluently conserve often with other speakers of those languages? If English is your primary language and almost all you use for discourse, of course you'll mostly hear English speaking perspectives...

Bitter grapes are better to make wine and not whine, during our dust to dust lives. Death visits the elite the same way it visits the poorest of mankind, so it all equals out in the end.


The same way?

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/apr/15/lady-thatcher-funeral-arrangements-criticised

http://iconicphotos.wordpress.com/2009/08/12/vulture-stalking-a-child/

ggelsrinc

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2013, 02:17:16 AM »
I hear a voice of disinformation echoing around my world and it's always in the English language. Since it comes from places like the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia, I can figure the rest of our world must have grown up enough to not behave so crudely and that "shut the hell up" day has never dawned in those English speaking places I identified.


Do you speak many other languages and fluently conserve often with other speakers of those languages? If English is your primary language and almost all you use for discourse, of course you'll mostly hear English speaking perspectives...

Bitter grapes are better to make wine and not whine, during our dust to dust lives. Death visits the elite the same way it visits the poorest of mankind, so it all equals out in the end.


The same way?

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/apr/15/lady-thatcher-funeral-arrangements-criticised

http://iconicphotos.wordpress.com/2009/08/12/vulture-stalking-a-child/


I've only had Latin and Spanish in High School and German in college, because I was a Chemistry major and 4 years of only one language was the requirement. German helps in Chemistry. Latin was removed after my two years. I wish they still had Greek, but it was gone when I went to High Schools offering it. I was a Sputnik child, when our government actually tried to finance education for national security reasons.

English is a major world language and I was pointing to countries and not the language itself.

The snake knows how to speak English fluently. I know because I'm about thirteen sixteenths English and learned the speak the language back to it's German heritage. We are the ones working to deceive our world in terms of language. A blowing viper is a two legged snake blowing smoke up people's asses, just ask anyone from West Virginia and they'll tell you about it.

The media language is definitely English, but I suspect the real power using that media to deceive involves old money interests in Europe and not the US.

JimD

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2013, 05:10:47 PM »
The ability of an empire to hold position relative to its rivals or to rise in comparison is also affected by what is happening to its allies.  Are they growing in strength or are they in decline.  An interesting article which sheds some light on that sub-issue.

...If Citigroup is right, the slight rebound in Europe over the summer will not be enough to stop Club Med going from bad to worse, with a string of soft defaults/restructurings....

...If Citigroup is broadly correct, Europe faces a lost decade that is far worse than anything suffered by Japan, which will render the region marginal in coming world affairs, and is likely to have non-linear political consequences. The lesson of the 1930s is that you have to discredit both the moderate Left and Right in turn before voters turn to extreme parties en masse....


The economic tide ebbs as well as flows.

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/finance/ambroseevans-pritchard/100025913/citi-forecasts-greek-devastation-unstoppable-debt-spirals-in-italy-and-portugal/
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

ggelsrinc

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #6 on: October 25, 2013, 08:21:19 PM »
The ability of an empire to hold position relative to its rivals or to rise in comparison is also affected by what is happening to its allies.  Are they growing in strength or are they in decline.  An interesting article which sheds some light on that sub-issue.

...If Citigroup is right, the slight rebound in Europe over the summer will not be enough to stop Club Med going from bad to worse, with a string of soft defaults/restructurings....

...If Citigroup is broadly correct, Europe faces a lost decade that is far worse than anything suffered by Japan, which will render the region marginal in coming world affairs, and is likely to have non-linear political consequences. The lesson of the 1930s is that you have to discredit both the moderate Left and Right in turn before voters turn to extreme parties en masse....


The economic tide ebbs as well as flows.

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/finance/ambroseevans-pritchard/100025913/citi-forecasts-greek-devastation-unstoppable-debt-spirals-in-italy-and-portugal/


Give me a break! The logic goes like this. America is an empire, because they buy our bananas. America is an empire, because they stopped buying our bananas and told us where to put them. Let's ignore the fact that few areas of America are suitable to grow bananas and 317 million people might want a banana once in awhile. America is an empire explains everything. <sarc>

Trade in any commodity is a two way street and empires had citizens who knew they were building empires. Empires require mass effort to build them and can't be accomplished without the masses assisting. Americans don't own the international corporations and the rich own them, some are American and many are not. Just because a corporation started it's business in America doesn't make it American.

JimD

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #7 on: October 25, 2013, 09:00:12 PM »
There is no definition of empire that America does not fit.  Even if one is ignorant of history and political science and holds only the most rudimentary understanding of what an empire is and how it functions it should be glaringly obvious that America more than qualifies.

To ignore one of the major factors influencing American decision making and public opinion is inevitably going to lead one into making unsound judgments about what is going on and what might happen in the future.

You have previously bragged about how you don't do polite.  I won't comment on how that weakens your positions, but I will say that sarcasm should be saved for when you know what you are talking about.

We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #8 on: October 26, 2013, 12:26:30 AM »
Trade in any commodity is a two way street and empires had citizens who knew they were building empires. Empires require mass effort to build them and can't be accomplished without the masses assisting. Americans don't own the international corporations and the rich own them, some are American and many are not. Just because a corporation started it's business in America doesn't make it American.

That's a really odd idea of how empires work. Do you really think during the days of the British empire the average person living in Great Britain actively worked towards and valued the British empire?

The mass effort to build and maintain the American empire comes - quite simply - from taxation. Taxation to fund a disproportionately (and slightly ridiculous in the modern day context) large proportion of global military expenditure.

Imperial ambitions are driven primarily by the few at the top, not by the many lower down. The majority merely passively comply with the whims of those who have the power and influence in their society, in many cases by doing little more than merely adhering to the laws they are constrained by and paying taxes etc - a threat backed up with force by the elites, after all (imprisonment and historically armed force as a mode of tax collection too).

ggelsrinc

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #9 on: October 26, 2013, 01:45:43 AM »
There is no definition of empire that America does not fit.  Even if one is ignorant of history and political science and holds only the most rudimentary understanding of what an empire is and how it functions it should be glaringly obvious that America more than qualifies.

To ignore one of the major factors influencing American decision making and public opinion is inevitably going to lead one into making unsound judgments about what is going on and what might happen in the future.

You have previously bragged about how you don't do polite.  I won't comment on how that weakens your positions, but I will say that sarcasm should be saved for when you know what you are talking about.

You have previously bragged about how you don't do polite.

Then, it shouldn't be hard for you to find, quote and post it, so prove that it exists anymore than your imaginary American empire. Is that polite enough? There is plenty of time to throw a childish tantrum later, after you back up your words.

Oh gee, someone doesn't agree with my particular political views and I can't stand it! <sarc>

I know it isn't going to happen, so I guess posturing means more to some than proof.

ggelsrinc

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #10 on: October 26, 2013, 03:37:58 AM »
Trade in any commodity is a two way street and empires had citizens who knew they were building empires. Empires require mass effort to build them and can't be accomplished without the masses assisting. Americans don't own the international corporations and the rich own them, some are American and many are not. Just because a corporation started it's business in America doesn't make it American.

That's a really odd idea of how empires work. Do you really think during the days of the British empire the average person living in Great Britain actively worked towards and valued the British empire?

The mass effort to build and maintain the American empire comes - quite simply - from taxation. Taxation to fund a disproportionately (and slightly ridiculous in the modern day context) large proportion of global military expenditure.

Imperial ambitions are driven primarily by the few at the top, not by the many lower down. The majority merely passively comply with the whims of those who have the power and influence in their society, in many cases by doing little more than merely adhering to the laws they are constrained by and paying taxes etc - a threat backed up with force by the elites, after all (imprisonment and historically armed force as a mode of tax collection too).

Ask Gunga Din! Ask the slave hired to tell a hero of Rome how his glory was only fleeting as he rode through the streets on his chariot!

I don't claim the common man was responsible in any case involving empire, but they weren't hidden from the news or participation in the event.

It's delusional to think the American people want to own or control another area of this world, when they don't even exact that on their own country. Just having the Empire State Building is good enough to suit us. We aren't that picky.

TerryM

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #11 on: October 26, 2013, 06:26:08 PM »
Jim
Thanks for your observation re. the American Empire. As one who lived for 40+ years in the Excited States I may be able to explain the discomfort many Americans experience when discussing their empire.
The propaganda machine has two conflicting memes. One is that America is good, the other is that Empire is bad. If both are believed it's difficult to reconcile with the fact that the American Empire has been in place for a very long time. American propaganda is amazingly powerful. Even when you are aware that you are being subjected to it the message slips through and takes root.
I think it's important to not blame the victims.
Terry

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #12 on: October 26, 2013, 07:07:55 PM »
I think it's important to not blame the victims.


But who are the victims? I have great trouble recognising a citizen of the nations at fault as a victim in this context - no matter how pervasive and well honed the propaganda - it is the responsibility of each and every citizen how their government and nation conducts itself, is it not?

In my experience of Americans, while there are exceptions, many exhibit a callous indifference to the suffering being caused by Americas foreign policy that in my mind is incompatible with classifying them as a victim. A media that actively suppresses this information, an educational system that never educates people about the wider world - who built or at least passively accepted these?

The real victims are those at the sharp end:

http://www.theguardian.com/theguardian/2000/mar/04/weekend7.weekend9

And a statement from an international representative of the US:

Madeleine Albright The deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children was worth it


Now, that was all a decade ago - but did anything change since? Not so far as I can see...

http://www.reprieve.org.uk/cases/shakeraamer/

http://www.state.gov/e/eb/tfs/spi/iran/index.htm

I grant with the Iran sanctions it isn't clear yet to what extent it is causing death on a massive scale - the Guardian article about the Iraq sanctions suggests even chlorine (for treating drinking water) was under embargo.

And of course the civilian victims of drone attacks - in countries with which the US is not even formally at war (I am forced to classify the behaviour of the US as terrorism, it isn't war).

For as long as America and it's people (and I grant also those of the UK, a nation little better than a lap dog for the US) allow these questions to be swept under the carpet and the empire to flourish (and this empire isn't looking very benevolent, as far as I can see), are we - the citizens of those nations - not responsible for our little share, just as surely as we are for climate change?

mabs

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #13 on: October 26, 2013, 08:25:09 PM »

It is hard to dispute that America is an empire, although the more (politically) correct term is superpower. It is unlikely that if all things stay the same (which they won't) the world would ever see an empire in the classical definition of the term. The difference between an empire and a superpower is that an empire has to somehow physically take over some territory and establish some form of administrative rule over it. Technology and trade has made that unnecessary. You can remotely control territories these days.

Political scientists and some historians also worry that America is a reluctant or accidental empire. While it is hardly plausible that every empire that ever formed took a vote on whether to become an empire or not, it is clear that most of the empires that we (care to) talk about have come about in a far more planned and intentional manner. It's not clear when Rome took a vote to become an empire, but it and the elites saw an opportunity and worked diligently to build an empire. It's not clear when Britain held a vote on building an empire, but it is clear that the British Crown and the elites worked diligently to build and maintain one. In fact their planning was so impeccable that they also realized when it was time to retrench, re-assess and let go.

And that's the great difference between an empire of old and a reluctant empire: the former knows what it is, knows what it needs to do, and its actions are planned and thought out taking into account the special circumstances surrounding its position in the international system. America has trouble even acknowledging it is an empire. There has never been a consensus around becoming an empire or purposefully maintaining one. Of the array of political ideologies that America harbors, even the hawks in American politics have a hard time accepting that when America engages with the international system it is not the same as when any other country engages the same system. Yes, they are likely to admit America is powerful, they might even take pride in it, but they have a problem acknowledging the type of power America wields and therefore they do not fully recognize the implications of wielding such powers. Hence the "go-it-alone" mentality.

This reluctance to accept its station comes, in part, from the fact that Americans never intended to become an empire. It was pulled out of its comfy slumber by other nations when other empires failed and none of the existing alternatives appealed to them. America was pulled out of its isolationist position twice to beat back wannabe empires that other countries did not find appealing. During WWI and WWII, Europe, and most of the world did not find a German empire appealing and they looked for a more palatable alternative. America was big enough to serve the purpose. So determined were the victors of WWII not to let America go back to its isolationist ways that they put the UN headquarters in New York, just to make sure that the U.S. does not forget its obligations towards the world as it did after WWI and with the League of Nations. Of course, W. Europe in particular did not find a Soviet empire desirable and did not particularly think a revived Germany is palatable, while Britain was to wiped out by the costs of war to step in. So America it was. Recently, we do not seem to find China, Iran, or Russia as palatable alternatives so, while whining about it, still America it is.

It is easy to blame America for all the evils in the world, but we should probably remember that these evils happened in the world before America was around and will happen long after it will revert to its isolationist ways. There is a difference between blame and causality, though, and I am not sure which way this thread is supposed to go. While casting blame is an interesting topic for discussion and one that is likely to produce quite a high number of impassionate posts, I do not see how blame will help us address the "the future" part of the topic, which I believe is better served by a focus on causality.
No god and no religion can survive ridicule. No church, no nobility, no royalty or other fraud, can face ridicule in a fair field and live.
-Mark Twain, Notebook, 1888

Bruce Steele

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #14 on: October 26, 2013, 08:47:55 PM »
Ccg, The  strength in an individual voice ,to stand up, to speak with conviction , to speak truth to authority, is very much constrained by the fear that you will somehow be throttled by your boss, your peers, your relatives or by a security structure designed to tunnel into the dissident voice, identify it and snub it out....fear. Most people do not participate in citizen government and those that do so with a dissident voice are even fewer. 
 You mentioned you believe that you may be watched, and since Eco-terrorism will in this country land you somewhere near Theodor Kazinski sp? I would bet even having strong convictions on climate change would elevate any individual to a "suspicious persons level"  although you could probably still board airplanes, etc. My point being just standing up is a difficult decision. If one makes the next step and organizes to smash the weaving machines it will likely get one hung, but the story about how machines were given the rights of people is as much your story as mine. Rest in peace Ned Ludd.
 A while back SKeptical Science got hacked and a bunch of us had to change passwords. I waited and someone in Chicago tried to use it.  Now I may be a bit paranoid but Heartland , or part of it is based in Chicago. We may be watched by organizations not government but right wing government has a history of hiring out it's thuggery.
One last point about government workers, they can't really express their own views freely but when a free man like me stands up there are plenty of them willing to encourage me and push me back up when I get a little weak in the knee's.  I am probably sounding pompous but that's just one more barb thrown and of necessity dodged. I do not believe in exceptionalism but  fearlessness is something in  short supply. I have been a commercial diver 40 years , no health insurance( Pre-existing), I am willing to stand up and yes eventually I will pay the piper.
 I am glad I met you Ccg and plenty others here.       

ggelsrinc

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #15 on: October 26, 2013, 09:53:27 PM »
But who are the victims?


When I was a child, I'd say JFK, MLK and RFK certainly looked like victims. When I managed to work during summers to pay for college, I'd say these four young students qualified as victims:





ohio crosby stills nash and young. The video didn't post.

Recently, I showed that video and music to my Son-in-law and the details of my college days. It was totally news to him and he had no knowledge our National Guard troops shot and killed two young men and two young women.

He asked me why I was so stupid not to get a student deferment and ended up having to drop out of college and join the USMC when my draft number came up 13 during that summer, so I painted the picture for him. I told him how much I hated elitism and how unfair and selfish it was to send another human being to Vietnam to take my place. I took my chances on the lottery and lost. He still seemed to be confused and asked me why I would risk going to Vietnam during those times, when I could have had it easy in college. He understood why when I told him my brother was there.

I also painted a picture of the days when someone could work during the summer and pay for their college tuition, room and board. Times were bad enough then, but I didn't have to sell myself in slavery to get a college education like his generation had to do.

I'd say someone around his age is a victim and this old man refuses to ever be a victim as long as life is left in him. When I think back to times like what happened in Rwanda and Cambodia, it still pisses me off that the world and the US didn't respond. Victims can be created by both improper action and inaction. We owe our fellow human beings more than words and best wishes.

Of course a nation the size of the USA is going to be strong, but if you think the American people have empire in their hearts, you are delusional. The American people won't permit it. They detest empires.

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #16 on: October 26, 2013, 11:17:06 PM »
Mabs, I think your account is pretty close to what Americans like to tell themselves. The US was born, after all, out of a struggle against the fledgling British Empire.

But the conquest of the West, and adventures in Cuba and the Philippines belie the idea that we were late and reluctant to the game of building empire. Recall that NY has proudly donned the title "Empire State" since at least the beginning of the 1800s. The rail line that goes through the Twin Cities and on out into the West is still called the "Empire Builder." Yes, there have been voices of protest against such adventures and expansionism, as there have in other, earlier empires. But the overwhelming drive to increase power has long been a hallmark of our national ethos, even if it was sometimes checked temporarily by the countervailing 'isolationist' tendencies you mention.

The list of countries where US has militarily 'intervened' in the last century and more is a very long one indeed, averaging about one a year, iirc.
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #17 on: October 27, 2013, 12:17:18 AM »
Mabs, I think your account is pretty close to what Americans like to tell themselves. The US was born, after all, out of a struggle against the fledgling British Empire.

I don't think this is a matter of perception and I was not simply repeating what "most Americans like to tell themselves." I also don't know that this is what Americans like to tell themselves. As far as I know, Americans don't tell themselves much about this issue. They are generally reluctant to think about an empire that was built at any point, which I argue is a pain.

But the conquest of the West, and adventures in Cuba and the Philippines belie the idea that we were late and reluctant to the game of building empire. Recall that NY has proudly donned the title "Empire State" since at least the beginning of the 1800s. The rail line that goes through the Twin Cities and on out into the West is still called the "Empire Builder." Yes, there have been voices of protest against such adventures and expansionism, as there have in other, earlier empires. But the overwhelming drive to increase power has long been a hallmark of our national ethos, even if it was sometimes checked temporarily by the countervailing 'isolationist' tendencies you mention.

I don't find there is much support for the hypothesis that America pursued an empire from its inception. Quite the opposite, I believe I said that it went through a long period of isolationism, interrupted twice by the two world wars. I'm not aware of any political scientists or historians that dispute this conclusion or what evidence they present to the contrary. America did end up replacing the British empire, but that was long after that empire fell apart and other candidates for the position failed.

U.S. expansion in the 1800 must be taken in the context of colonial politics at the time and the fact that all nations at the time were doing the same thing: bringing more territory under a centralized government's control. That's what France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Spain etc were doing at the time. The U.S. had an additional incentive to bring these territories under control because it was trying to keep other colonial powers out of its business. The Monroe doctrine was the only foreign affairs doctrine that United States had until WWII; that is this was a country that did not have guiding principals concerning relations with other nations outside of its immediate neighborhood for most of the 19th century. Hardly an empire in the making.

As for the various things named empire, I think that symbolism is just that: symbols, that can be very much in the eye of the beholder. The Empire State Building is named after New York state, which is nicknamed the Empire State. It's unclear why the state was called that way (as in, there are no records of who did it and why), but the nickname did not go into circulation until late in the 19th century. Most likely it had something to do with the state's rivalry with Virginia and the fact the New York became a commercial hub for the Americas. But then again, state nicknames don't always makes sense, for example, New Jersey is known as the Garden State. Also, the Empire State Building was not completed until the middle of the Great Depression.

The Empire Builder railway was similarly completed during the Great Depression and it was named after the American-Canadian James Hill, who built the first transcontinental railroad system in America using nothing but private funding; no federal grants. His nickname was the Empire Builder. Not sure whose empire he was building but it was not federally funded.

Symbols: do not make good evidence.
No god and no religion can survive ridicule. No church, no nobility, no royalty or other fraud, can face ridicule in a fair field and live.
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ggelsrinc

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #18 on: October 27, 2013, 12:28:42 AM »
Fashions change under the sun. I never saw the logic for knickers, but must admit I never tried them on.

It will be a cold day in hell before the average American citizen allows his nation to exact an empire. There are too many people like me who detest empires and some of us don't even like the concept of nations. We think of ourselves as just people.

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #19 on: October 27, 2013, 01:36:48 AM »
Recently, we do not seem to find China, Iran, or Russia as palatable alternatives so, while whining about it, still America it is.

I think an interesting point lies buried here - why do we not find China and Russia palatable alternatives? (I can't really say I regard Iran as wielding the sort of power required for imperial ambition)

Before people rush to answer I would like to reiterate that I perceive the real triumph of America to be propaganda. It is this exact same propaganda I believe that leads to people believing without much question that America is automatically a better choice than Russia or China in terms of world dominion. The question I would ask would be simple - what - if you look past the propaganda - really makes the American empire preferable? Is it actually possible to really come up with any reason other than "well, it's my side, so I suspect I'd have a better deal that way around"?

Just as surely as you can find negatives and evil in Russia (which I don't believe really has imperial aims currently) and China (which clearly does, and needs to) - these examples can be found about the US just as surely. It is easy to assume that the US is the least worst or that the others are necessarily far more evil - but one must question ones perspective if it depends upon the media and opinions of those informed principally by said media. Only by learning from people with good experience of those nations or by having direct experience oneself can one really form a complete independent opinion.

As such I have a limited opinion on Russia and no firm opinion on China, excepting that I'd sooner see no single agency with too much power, and hence an emergent superpower or two would at least dilute American influence somewhat, while still being far from ideal.

It is easy to blame America for all the evils in the world, but we should probably remember that these evils happened in the world before America was around and will happen long after it will revert to its isolationist ways.

This is of course true, just as surely as the concentration of power in the hands of the few is both the normal state of play and tends to lead to abuse.

I think personally this sort of discussion has a productive outcome if it merely leads to a few citizens of a nation (in this case America being in focus) questioning their perceptions and where they come from a bit more, and trying to understand (if not find empathy with) the people on the other side of the fence (or at least asking why they're being bombed, kidnapped and tortured). While there is plenty that America and it's people can arguably take rightful pride in - to let myths blind oneself to reality does no one a service in the end.

All too often the sins of nations are swept under the carpet - I can certainly attest that the atrocities of the British empire are not taught in schools there, at least not in my experience. If people had a better understanding of such things perhaps they would be more political active in an informed way - although I appreciate this wouldn't suit their elite classes, who would prefer to have the masses blind and chanting about their greatness then asking questions of what they are doing.

There is a difference between blame and causality, though, and I am not sure which way this thread is supposed to go. While casting blame is an interesting topic for discussion and one that is likely to produce quite a high number of impassionate posts, I do not see how blame will help us address the "the future" part of the topic, which I believe is better served by a focus on causality.

I've neglected the question of the future of the American empire as I think it's fairly clear - the US has peaked and is now in decline. It's struggling to maintain it's influence and it's military force, and increasingly even it's brand (internationally at least). The predication of the society upon unlimited resources and cheap energy is proving awkward economically and the values instilled in the population are such that the sort of changes required to continue to prosper and dominate are unlikely to be viable. The corporations have usurped the government of the people, and as such America is increasingly their cash cow - much as the UK is - where the richest portion at the very top become richer on the backs of the increasingly impoverished masses.

China is already overtaking the US in some metrics - and likely to overtake in more before too long, with tremendous theoretical potential for growth due to the much larger population. While the US is likely to be significant virtually indefinitely, I think it is going to see a surprisingly rapid and painful contraction in terms of both the economy (particularly as the dollar undermines itself as a reserve currency, not to mention the matter of debt and associated confidence) and (almost by implication) in terms of international influence. While I think China would seem to be far more attuned to the challenges of the modern age (population, resource depletion and climate change) than the western nations - I'm skeptical that they will make their mark on world history for very long (it seems the lifespan of modern empires is ever shrinking).

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #20 on: October 27, 2013, 01:47:14 AM »
I don't find there is much support for the hypothesis that America pursued an empire from its inception. Quite the opposite, I believe I said that it went through a long period of isolationism, interrupted twice by the two world wars. I'm not aware of any political scientists or historians that dispute this conclusion or what evidence they present to the contrary. America did end up replacing the British empire, but that was long after that empire fell apart and other candidates for the position failed.

I think if one looks at the forces that drive the formation of empires, they come down to:

- greed (or need) for resources (in the case of the US, oil is a good example, especially once it passed it's own production peak)
- military strategies (in the case of the US, the cold war comes to mind as a driver for territorial control globally - many US bases were established during this time)
- ideology (I think this applies more to corporate America - capitalism and consumerism, I don't see good evidence for the spreading of "democracy and freedom")

Sometimes resource objectives can be driven by strategies predicated on trying to deny another competing nation or power bloc access.

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #21 on: October 27, 2013, 02:04:56 AM »
Recently, we do not seem to find China, Iran, or Russia as palatable alternatives so, while whining about it, still America it is.


I think an interesting point lies buried here - why do we not find China and Russia palatable alternatives? (I can't really say I regard Iran as wielding the sort of power required for imperial ambition)

Before people rush to answer I would like to reiterate that I perceive the real triumph of America to be propaganda. It is this exact same propaganda I believe that leads to people believing without much question that America is automatically a better choice than Russia or China in terms of world dominion. The question I would ask would be simple - what - if you look past the propaganda - really makes the American empire preferable? Is it actually possible to really come up with any reason other than "well, it's my side, so I suspect I'd have a better deal that way around"?

Just as surely as you can find negatives and evil in Russia (which I don't believe really has imperial aims currently) and China (which clearly does, and needs to) - these examples can be found about the US just as surely. It is easy to assume that the US is the least worst or that the others are necessarily far more evil - but one must question ones perspective if it depends upon the media and opinions of those informed principally by said media. Only by learning from people with good experience of those nations or by having direct experience oneself can one really form a complete independent opinion.

As such I have a limited opinion on Russia and no firm opinion on China, excepting that I'd sooner see no single agency with too much power, and hence an emergent superpower or two would at least dilute American influence somewhat, while still being far from ideal.

It is easy to blame America for all the evils in the world, but we should probably remember that these evils happened in the world before America was around and will happen long after it will revert to its isolationist ways.


This is of course true, just as surely as the concentration of power in the hands of the few is both the normal state of play and tends to lead to abuse.

I think personally this sort of discussion has a productive outcome if it merely leads to a few citizens of a nation (in this case America being in focus) questioning their perceptions and where they come from a bit more, and trying to understand (if not find empathy with) the people on the other side of the fence (or at least asking why they're being bombed, kidnapped and tortured). While there is plenty that America and it's people can arguably take rightful pride in - to let myths blind oneself to reality does no one a service in the end.

All too often the sins of nations are swept under the carpet - I can certainly attest that the atrocities of the British empire are not taught in schools there, at least not in my experience. If people had a better understanding of such things perhaps they would be more political active in an informed way - although I appreciate this wouldn't suit their elite classes, who would prefer to have the masses blind and chanting about their greatness then asking questions of what they are doing.

There is a difference between blame and causality, though, and I am not sure which way this thread is supposed to go. While casting blame is an interesting topic for discussion and one that is likely to produce quite a high number of impassionate posts, I do not see how blame will help us address the "the future" part of the topic, which I believe is better served by a focus on causality.


I've neglected the question of the future of the American empire as I think it's fairly clear - the US has peaked and is now in decline. It's struggling to maintain it's influence and it's military force, and increasingly even it's brand (internationally at least). The predication of the society upon unlimited resources and cheap energy is proving awkward economically and the values instilled in the population are such that the sort of changes required to continue to prosper and dominate are unlikely to be viable. The corporations have usurped the government of the people, and as such America is increasingly their cash cow - much as the UK is - where the richest portion at the very top become richer on the backs of the increasingly impoverished masses.

China is already overtaking the US in some metrics - and likely to overtake in more before too long, with tremendous theoretical potential for growth due to the much larger population. While the US is likely to be significant virtually indefinitely, I think it is going to see a surprisingly rapid and painful contraction in terms of both the economy (particularly as the dollar undermines itself as a reserve currency, not to mention the matter of debt and associated confidence) and (almost by implication) in terms of international influence. While I think China would seem to be far more attuned to the challenges of the modern age (population, resource depletion and climate change) than the western nations - I'm skeptical that they will make their mark on world history for very long (it seems the lifespan of modern empires is ever shrinking).


Let me try something!

PUT A LITTLE LOVE IN YOUR HEART - JACKIE DESHANNON1969.


One Tin Soldier - The Legend of Billy Jack


That snake of empire will need a nest and I won't tolerate it being around me or in my world. By a process of elimination, I think it's in Europe and not Russia. I think it's the rich and not nations manipulating people. Only someone thinking in concepts of how to master deception or counter-intelligence has expertise on this subject.

<edit>

Permit me to add this comment while internet connection is still available. My past experience has taught me that the size of an adversary isn't very important. The larger they are, the farther they will fall and it's the collapse that kills them under the gravity of their own weight.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2013, 02:51:54 AM by ggelsrinc »

wili

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #22 on: October 28, 2013, 04:47:21 PM »
Ultimately, of course, it is an issue of semantics what one does or does not want to be considered "empire."

Using the British Empire as the main comparandum kind of skews the discussion, since it is a global empire, with parts of it spread around the earth, unlike most others in history such as the Russian or Chinese contiguous empires. And imperial conquests of history also tend to be reinterpreted as just the way things are.

As the US expanded west, I imagine the nations that were overtaken (Native American/Hawaiian) and that had major portions of them annexed (Mexico/Texas) had experiences that would not have felt much different from the more clearly imperial expansions of the Russian and early Chinese empires. But, perhaps, since we didn't have a figure called "emperor" or (Tsar) at it's head, we don't choose to call US expansionism "empire."

The point about those 'symbols' is that the fact that they were embraced suggests that early in our history the term "empire" was not met with total revulsion.
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #23 on: October 28, 2013, 05:37:54 PM »
mabs

I don't find there is much support for the hypothesis that America pursued an empire from its inception. Quite the opposite, I believe I said that it went through a long period of isolationism, interrupted twice by the two world wars. I'm not aware of any political scientists or historians that dispute this conclusion or what evidence they present to the contrary. America did end up replacing the British empire, but that was long after that empire fell apart and other candidates for the position failed.

U.S. expansion in the 1800 must be taken in the context of colonial politics at the time and the fact that all nations at the time were doing the same thing: bringing more territory under a centralized government's control. That's what France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Spain etc were doing at the time. The U.S. had an additional incentive to bring these territories under control because it was trying to keep other colonial powers out of its business. The Monroe doctrine was the only foreign affairs doctrine that United States had until WWII; that is this was a country that did not have guiding principals concerning relations with other nations outside of its immediate neighborhood for most of the 19th century. Hardly an empire in the making.

On the contrary there are lots and lots of people who would dispute everything you said above.

To start from colonial times.  The core founders of our country were all members of the financial and aristocratic (for want of a better word) elite of the US colonies.  As such there were steeped in the politics and educational norms of such elites from the continent.  All of the major countries of the time were engaged in a often violent competition to determine which country would gain the upper hand in the attempt to build and maintain empire.  The US colonies were a key part of the British empire and all of our founders were fully aware of it and in their attempt to gain independence they played the other major powers off against Britain.  And the French especially used the Americans against the British for their own ends.

So, in the light of this scene, it is not surprising to find that Thomas Jefferson, in the 1790s, awaited the fall of the Spanish empire until “our population can be sufficiently advanced to gain it from them piece by piece.”  From the very beginnings of our country the elites had in their minds that the way toi survive and prosper in this world required one to emulate as much as possible the geo-political strategies of the great powers.  One looked for opportunity and then they acted.  This is the story of the growth of our empire.  First you establish yourself's as an independent entity and then you slowly climb the stairs towards the top.  While one is on that staircase they are not yet an empire but that is certainly the goal.  We just happened to succeed.

Now it is certainly true to state that the general American public and no interest or knowledge of empire building in the earlyu decades of the country's existence, but their opinion was not valued or sought by the Founders who regarded the common man with great suspicion and held their views on politics with distain. The elites of the US were always interested in more wealth and power and their goals were to eventually obtain it. 

The Monroe Doctrine, which you dismiss for some reason, was one of the most blatant acts of imperialism in history.  And it occurred in 1823 just after the Founders passed from the political scene.  It's purpose was to lay the groundwork for US dominance of the Western Hemisphere.  It was the beginning of the deliberate demolition of the Spanish Empire.  At that time the Spanish and Portugese were slowly losing control of their Latin American colonies and it was an ideal time for the US to start to exert itself.  By this time it was convienent for the British to assist the US as this effort by the US was in line with their competition with the Spanish in other parts of the world.  The Monroe Doctrine specifically stated that further efforts by European nations to colonize land or interfere with states in North or South America would be viewed as acts of aggression, requiring U.S. intervention.  So we are threatening war over control of about 20 independent countries.  This can only be described as an act of imperialism.  While the verbiage of the Doctrine was intended to appear as if we were protecting the Latin American countries from the Europeans the actual intent was to reserve the Western Hemisphere to US exploitation.  As history has shown it was not done for the benefit of those countries but for the financial benefit of the US.  Empire building.

When the US was negotiating the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 it insisted on the inclusion of Texas.  Texas at the time, of course, was not French territory but Spanish.  The boundary between Spain and the US was set at the Sabine River in 1819.  But the US never intended to honor this agreement and US settlers were encouraged to cross the border and start settling in Texas.  There were several attempts to raise armies to invade the territory of Texas at this time which never came to fruition.  Following the Mexican war of independence from Spain Texas became part of Mexico.  But US intentions never changed and US immigration grew constantly and it was not long before secession from Mexico was in the cards and the inclusion of Texas into the Union was on the table.  As we know this succeeded and Texas became another conquest of the budding American empire.

It is also worth noting that the Louisiana Purchase qualifies as an act of imperialism as we did not expand into unoccupied territory.

The first instance of popularizing US imperialism was by President Polk and the build up to the Mexican-American war in 1846. There having been no proper justification for this war it was clearly an act of imperialism and resulted in the eventual annexation of California and other western territories via the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and the Gadsden purchase.  If we ignore the extermination of the native -Americans this and Texas were the first instances of the US taking territory by force.  From this point on in American history the public was at least partially aware of our ambitions to grow into a powerful nation.  At the expense of anyone who got in our way.  The public justifications for such actions are always couched in diplomatic terms to make them seem less harsh and predatory.  But reality is what you do not what you say.

The overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy was an over act of imperialism done at the behest of American Business interests.  Empire building as well.

By far the most openly imperialist American President was Teddy Roosevelt, who long before he became president was openly imperialistic and advocated building a empire.  He openly stated that if a country had the ability to control and manage large swaths of the world and chose not to do so was an act of cowardice.

Roosevelt's speeches fundamentally transformed popular opinion in the U.S. He equated imperialism with masculinity and ambition while denouncing isolationism as lazy and cowardly. Roosevelt argued that imperialists were not greedy but courageous instead. He claimed that "we do not admire the man of timid peace. We admire the man who embodies victorious effort." Roosevelt was trying to speak for the American people when he said those words. And owing to his reputation as a war hero and his immense popularity, he succeeded. Americans embraced first his words and then later his policies.

Roosevelt was one of the main instigators of the Spanish-American war of 1898 which was an open act of aggression and was to fulfill the desires of Thomas Jefferson to strip the Spanish of their colonies.  The end result was US control of Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines.  Empire building became mainstream.  "Speak softly and carry a big stick." was not the mantra of a President who was a benign player on the world stage.  They were the words of a man who believed taking advantage of the weak for gain was the manly thing to do.

Over the next 70 years the US acted much the part of the colonial empire builder.  It actively worked to control and/or overthrow dozens of governments in Latin America (some many times over) in order to ensure that the countries were operated in a fashion which ensure profits for US business and access to raw materials.  US maries and soldiers were used on dozens of occasions from across the world during this time for control of various colonial enterprises.  The US took control of the territory of what is now Panama away from Columbia in order to create the state of Panama and have firm control of the location of the future Panama Canal (reminds you of the British and the Suez canal).

The end results of WWI and WWII clearly resulted in vast growth in America's wealth and influence around the world.  The end result of these wars brought additional countries under the sway of US influence and control.  Mostly to the benefit of US financial and business interests.  This was not a bug but a feature.  US dominance of the global financial structure following WWII and the creation of the IMF and World Bank (modern versions of the financial control exerted by the British at the height of their empire) which are controlled by the US and who's methods of financial assistance to the underdeveloped world (those weak countries Teddy thought we should take advantage of) works to keep them in a much lower state of development than is actually possible results in a shifting of their wealth and resources to the industrialized world at low cost.  This is modern colonialism and a further demonstration of the US empire.

I hardly should need to say that the incredibly bloated US military, which is many times the size needed to provide sovereign security, is primarily for the purpose of maintaining and furthering  our empire.  American freedom and security have not been meaningfully threatened since WWII and even then the outcome was not in doubt.  Our overseas garrisons and naval structure are very similar to those of Britain at the height of their power.  We are pouring excess amounts of resources into military power as our hold on our empire is stressing and starting to crumble.  A standard mistake that empires usually make at this stage of existence.

While our empire does not use identical structures or organizations or names for all that it does which match those used by the British it still has all the same functions.  While the elites of the country are once again pursuing their goals of power and wealth, and the public has once again fallen asleep to reality and are ignored and their opinions not sought or valued, we are still on our path of power envisioned by Thomas Jefferson.

It just is what it is and I see no reason to deny it or ignore it.

What I am interested in, and why I started this topic, are the signs of coming impacts on the empire and how it affects events going forward.  Everyone in the world will be impacted by what happens to us and how we deal with it.  A very uncomfortable position to be in for others and potentially for us as well.
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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #24 on: October 28, 2013, 06:35:09 PM »
Thanks, Jim. Much more informative than my random blatherings.  :)

Have you seen any of Orlov's discussion of collapse of empire?

Among other things, he especially notes how hard it is when people in the further flung reaches of the empire are left to twist in the increasingly hostile wind as the system they served collapses without any consideration for their support.
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #25 on: October 29, 2013, 01:52:26 AM »
What I am interested in, and why I started this topic, are the signs of coming impacts on the empire and how it affects events going forward.  Everyone in the world will be impacted by what happens to us and how we deal with it.  A very uncomfortable position to be in for others and potentially for us as well.

I thought that was a very well presented post, making a clear case over the course of US history.

To me at least - what happens next seems fairly clear with the US - the balance of power is shifting east to China (with assistance from Russia, which I think is going to play an increasingly supporting role much as the UK does with the US currently). America has dug itself into a rather awkward hole in relation to fossil fuel dependence and resource consumption and there have to be limits to what massive military spending can do with respect to this - not to mention increasingly potent competition from China (and others).

My impression is that the US is vulnerable to multiple potential significant economic shocks:
- very high levels of personal debt (current)
- risk of substantial devaluation from loss of reserve currency status (future - next decade?)
- confidence risk (government lunacy combined with a poorly performing economy, there has to be more risk of confidence being lost in the US and it's ability to honour it's obligations)

The elite classes of the US seem aware of the challenges the nation is facing and are implementing widespread surveillance and increasingly strict legislation (verging on a police state) with a view to trying to maintain social stability. This runs contrary to the dogmatically reinforced propaganda message of a great nation with a great life for all willing to work (a dream, at least).

Personally I expect to see one or more major economic shocks hitting the US in coming years - I don't think the most immediate threats are climate change related. These might not be obviously dramatic but might represent a continual sharp squeeze on the quality of living and wealth of the American people. The very richest portion of the population will continue to do well as in the UK (and, I note, in third world countries with despots in charge).

The consequences for the rest of the world strike me as fairly clear - countries that rely upon the US economically will be hit hardest, especially where they struggle to adjust their horizons to encompass a rising China. While currently China exports a lot to the US, I expect they will grow in terms of their internal economy increasingly (this squeezing export opportunities for the rest of the world, and also ramping up pressure on global commodities/resources).

That's all what I think happens by default.

In theory, I think the US is a dynamic enough society that there is an outside chance of an outsider rising politically as disillusionment and anger set in and making substantial changes in the society (if a sufficiently clever and charismatic individual can find the right place and time to do so). Hatred of the status quo opens this chance.

Other events that would substantially change the outlook would include a world war. I think that would actually favour the US (paradoxically perhaps), as strongly focused on being able to fight war as it is (in contrast to the Russian approach of cheap and effective defensive technologies to counter expensive offence, and the current Chinese approach of money and diplomacy over aggression or threat thereof). A big war might rally the people, if they genuinely felt threatened and the need to become more cohesive as a society.

It's hard to see how a world war could now be fought between the strongest nations without a nuclear ending - and hence this would seem to be a fairly unlikely outcome, with a much higher probability of the continuation of what we have now - proxy wars and hostile interference in other nations intended to gain control over resources (the US has no clear advantage here, if anything it's aggression and hostility weaken its hand).

It's hard to see to what extent the success (or lack of failure at least) of the US will help allied/friendly nations as resource depletion bites - I think such nations would be sidelined once their usefulness is worn out. I see the US as liable to withdraw from the world again, shrinking it's sphere of influence as the Chinese one grows and pursing an increasingly isolationist path again.

Add climate change into the mix and I'm not sure it changes the picture that much - except it may tend to harm the US somewhat less than China. I think climate change coupled with the other major problems of our day will be the scythe that levels all nations, albeit with some variation in timing.

All rather speculative stuff, I can't say I know anything about any of this...

wili

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #26 on: October 29, 2013, 10:51:23 AM »
ccg, well put. Full agreement up till: "I expect to see one or more major economic shocks hitting the US in coming years - I don't think the most immediate threats are climate change related."

I don't totally disagree with this; I'm kind of expecting a pretty total economic meltdown (or something close) any time now. Most of the major problems with the finance system that triggered the last one are still pretty much in place.

But if, as a number of folks around here seem to see happening already, the weather cells are in the process of collapsing, then we will see major redistribution of rain patterns in the northern hemisphere, with consequent like failure of most of the world's major 'bread baskets' to produce adequate grain harvests. That could lead to a rather quick collapse of...well, lots of things.

Also, climate disaster costs are starting to take their toll. For the first time on national MSM, I just heard a commentator talk about how, with inevitably rising seas, we can't afford to keep rebuilding communities along the coast as they keep getting wiped out. But that warning has still not really been heard. How many more mega-fires, Sandy's, Katrina's, nation-wide flash droughts, biblical inundations as we saw in CO...can the nation sustain before its finances crumble?

But, as the last sentence implies, the final collapse, whatever its ultimate causes, will look up close like primarily a financial one.

Hesitant though I am on a personal financial level to see this, and for the sake of all those who will be thrown out of work...a rapid global financial collapse is now about the best we can hope for to slow down at least the rate of increase in annual carbon emissions, as Kevin Anderson of Tyndall Centre on CC Research so eloquently point out:

Cabot Institute Annual Lecture 2012


"an outsider rising politically as disillusionment and anger set in and making substantial changes in the society"

Yes, this is an eternal hope. But so far the main anger being expressed is by the lunatic fringe of the Repug Party--the Tea folks. The Occupation movement seems to have already fizzled.

On the other hand, more and more people are coming to the conclusion that the whole system is not really set up to help them, quite the contrary. Last I saw, people in their twenties were about evenly split between thinking capitalism, socialism, or some other system was the system that could work best for them, irrc. By the way, have you heard of this 'art' installation?

http://peoplesworld.org/art-project-asks-is-capitalism-working-for-you/

I do worry that, in order to solidify the country and undermine dissent, our fearless leaders will lead us into yet another war, perhaps under some false flag or other. People are pretty sick of this, though, and it will be a tougher sell this time, if the recent debate about getting more involved in Syria is any indication.
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

Andreas T

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #27 on: October 29, 2013, 12:28:45 PM »
The point about those 'symbols' is that the fact that they were embraced suggests that early in our history the term "empire" was not met with total revulsion.

This may be a rather tangential point but reminds me of a book I read about the Holy Roman Empire (of medieval Germany extending into Italy)
In it the author set out to destiguish it from a nationalistic empire (e.g. the "Third Reich") and show that it was often seen by "the little people" as a protection against chaos and the arbitrary rule over them by their more local rich and powerful. Appearantly there was a russian saying: "Heaven is high and the Czar far away" expressing their lack of hope for justice in dealings with their immediate overlords.
It also quoted Dante Alleghieri as a big fan of the Empire. Special pleading maybe, the modern Italian angle can be expected to be somewhat different:
http://www.veronatuttintorno.it/area_soci/DANTE_percorsoA4_eng.pdf
Dante spent roughly seven years in Verona in all: from 1303 to 1304, guest of Bartolomeo della Scala, Cangrande’s brother,
and from 1312 to 1318 as Cangrande’s own guest.
He effectively spent almost half the years of his exile in Verona. Here, under the shadow of the Scaligeran crest adorned
with the wings of the Imperial eagle, Dante wrote his ‘De Monarchia’, many letters and a good part of ‘Paradise’, the
canticle which the distinguished poet dedicated to Cangrande himself, awarding him a place of honour in the prophesy
of the XVII canto. It was here that his ‘Comedy’ became known; here where he studied the ancient texts conserved in the
cathedral’s Capitular Library; here he contemplated the Roman ruins, dreaming of a new Emperor who would bring peace
and justice. And it was here, in the end where he aided the endeavours of the only prince capable of bringing peace to
northern Italy after the failure of the emperors beyond the Alps.

Imperial Eagle being a common image in Roman and German (and Czarist Russian) Empire.
Oh, and yes I am German, several of my Father's cousins were callied Willi, by the way. I personally am not a fan of either Wilhelm I or II!

wili

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #28 on: October 29, 2013, 01:43:51 PM »
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

JimD

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #29 on: October 29, 2013, 05:02:22 PM »
ccg and Wili both hit on why this mess we are in is so morbidly fascinating. There is no end to the possible permutations of the factors dragging us into chaos.  Almost all trends are negative and the few that are not do not appear to have much in the way of prospects of catching up to and passing the downward effects of the negative trends.  We mention periodically that we are watching a train wreck but that is really an inadequate phrase as it is more like watching dozens of plane and train wrecks at the same time and trying to figure out which one gets us first.  Sort of like trying to figure out which machine gun bullet being fired at you is the most important one.

ccg.  I think you can see some of that volatility among the very rich in their hard work over the last decade to further the easy movement of capital around the globe. They rush into and out of countries and markets at increasing speed in what appears to be an act of not running towards more profits but more like running from the creeping disaster to save as much as they can.  One temporary safe haven to the next.  Leaving chaos in their wake each time.  The economic dustup you describe happening could easily come from one of those rapid exits from one market towards another.  Sort of like that children's game where everybody runs around a line of chairs and one gets taken away after each time everyone grabs a chair.  Such movement of money does not seem to help the locals much in any long term sense.  Like you I am convinced there are going to be periods of economic chaos in various places, but I have no idea which place is next or which is the big kahuna that cannot recovered from. While I think the odds are that climate change will be the cause of collapse, in a primary sense that is, it is certainly possible that a financial crises is the first giant event instead of the failure of industrial agriculture being able o feed everyone as is my best guess.

Since everyone gets a cold when the US sneezes the internal dynamics of the US are almost as interesting as climate change in general.  I see potential for political upheaval and some minor outbursts which could ignite real change.  Most public lately have been the Occupy movement and the Libertarians-Tea Party.  Basically the left and right wings of the Anarchist movement.  Though I must admit that statement means I have included the Tea Party as part of the Libertarian Party - there is certainly not total overlap there.  For our non-US readers the US Libertarian Party (a wing of the Republican Party) would be called Anarcho-capitalists outside the US.  This is somewhat disputed by the Occupy type folks on the left (mostly Anarcho-syndicalists) as they feel that since the Libertarians have deviated from anarchist leadership principals they have lost the right to be considered true anarchists.  But policy wise they fit the bill.

I have noticed in my conversations with young folks of all types in the US that attraction to anarchist political philosophy is very strong and growing.  Tea Party members are in general much older than other US anarchists and do not seem to hold true philosophical positions and do not really count in that way as it is their destructive actions towards the current form of government which put them in a more anarchist part of the spectrum.

A great many of these young people openly identify as anarchists and many admit that their views are more in line with other anarchists on the left or right (as the case may be) than they are in line with other liberals or conservatives (as that case may be).  Another way of saying this is that an Anarcho-syndicalist has more in common politically with a Libertarian (Anarcho-capitalist) than with the Democrats.  And vice versa with Libertarians having more in common with the Syndicalists than with the Republicans.

Should these two groups, which make up a large percentage of the Millennial generation find the wherewithal to accommodate each other it would be a sea change in US politics.  A sort of Black Swan if you will.   The US is ripe for political change.  The mainstream Republican and Democratic parties are almost indistinguishable from each other and the Legislative process has just about ground to a halt.  Demographically conservative Republicans are on a slope to permanent minority status and marginalization.  This is big political stress and opens the door to all sorts of change.  So I am on the look out for this possible melding and if the Libertarians, who are attempting to insert traditional leadership principals into the anarchist tradition, get traction interesting change could be afoot.  Their tendency to accommodate behaviors which effect the civil rights of others is a prime impediment to this potential union of course.  But we will see what happens.  At some point the Millennial's are going to upset the political apple cart as there are 70 million of them and they are all voting age now.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Andreas T

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #30 on: October 29, 2013, 05:34:46 PM »
How about Wilhelm von Humboldt? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilhelm_von_Humboldt

I do like "'the ultimate task of our existence is to give the fullest possible content to the concept of humanity in our own person [...] through the impact of actions in our own lives'. This task 'can only be implemented through the links established between ourselves as individuals and the world around us'  "
He probably wasn't thinking of an internet forum though!

ritter

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #31 on: October 29, 2013, 06:48:48 PM »
At some point the Millennial's are going to upset the political apple cart as there are 70 million of them and they are all voting age now.

Maybe. But most anarchists don't vote.

wili

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #32 on: October 29, 2013, 08:19:31 PM »
I can't resist adding two of my favorite anarchist related sayings:

"Anarchy would be hard to enforce."

But,

"There's no government like no government."

You all realize we have now put neven's blog on the NSA watch list. Of course, he has some pretty respectable company, Andrea Merkel being not the least.

Anarchists have the problem of negative associations with the very term. My suggestion is that they follow the following analogy to a new, frienlier-sounding term: Most people feel warm and friendly towards the term "community" even if they have negative associations with the word "communism." So solve for the following analogy and you get your new, friendlier sounding term:

'communism' is to 'community' as 'anarchism' is to _________.

You got it: "anarchity" !! Maybe it could be sponsored by "Hello Kitty" for an even less frightening effect (well, I guess that is frightening in its own rather different way).  :)

https://www.google.com/search?q=hello+kitty&client=firefox-a&hs=g3a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=KApwUtmUEer4yQGqm4HICQ&ved=0CAkQ_AUoAQ&biw=1390&bih=703#facrc=_&imgdii=_&imgrc=E4oAtaCzs1AB3M%3A%3BaMWCUoBPKc1CFM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fimages5.fanpop.com%252Fimage%252Fphotos%252F25600000%252FHello-Kitty-Sitting-hello-kitty-25604546-1210-1429.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.fanpop.com%252Fclubs%252Fhello-kitty%252Fimages%252F25604546%252Ftitle%252F%3B1210%3B1429
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

wili

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #33 on: October 30, 2013, 03:16:22 AM »
Apologies for my foray into (my own twisted version of) levity.

This may be a blog people interested in discussions of the future of US power my find worthwhile to follow: http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2013/10/the-one-option-left.html

I plan on devoting several upcoming posts to what we can realistically expect when the US government has to slash its expenditures and default on its debts, the way that Russia, Argentina, and other nations have done in recent decades.

"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #34 on: October 30, 2013, 04:49:39 AM »
ccg.  I think you can see some of that volatility among the very rich in their hard work over the last decade to further the easy movement of capital around the globe. They rush into and out of countries and markets at increasing speed in what appears to be an act of not running towards more profits but more like running from the creeping disaster to save as much as they can.  One temporary safe haven to the next.  Leaving chaos in their wake each time.  The economic dustup you describe happening could easily come from one of those rapid exits from one market towards another.  Sort of like that children's game where everybody runs around a line of chairs and one gets taken away after each time everyone grabs a chair.  Such movement of money does not seem to help the locals much in any long term sense.

I think you're right - the image coming to mind is a large tank filled with fluid with no baffles - the lack of impediments to the flow of fluid mitigating against stability. It doesn't help that you get factors that feed into each other - a strong and strengthening currency can attract more money, just as a weak and weakening one encourages flight (at least until people think the bottom is reached - fear and greed and all). The net result is increasing uncertainty that hurts the real economy (this can be seen in the lack of investment that would create jobs in the western economies currently).

While I think the odds are that climate change will be the cause of collapse, in a primary sense that is, it is certainly possible that a financial crises is the first giant event instead of the failure of industrial agriculture being able o feed everyone as is my best guess.

For final collapse - I'd still tip climate change. It seems to be to be possible that the US will experience a default along the lines of Argentina or Russia (with violence, surge in crime, and rapidly regressing standard of living) that some people might talk about as a collapse. On the whole, I could see the future of the US being defined by such events where in the rest of the world I think the separation between the financial, resource and climate forces will be less well demarcated. Notwithstanding the last 6 years of adverse economic forces (the structural causes of which remain unaddressed and the liabilities magnified, except in Iceland!), I still see the US as a bubble waiting to burst (at least in terms of historic dollar strength as a function of reserve currency status and investor confidence).

Since everyone gets a cold when the US sneezes the internal dynamics of the US are almost as interesting as climate change in general.

I find the US a fascinating (if increasingly distasteful) nation.

I think the phrase about everyone else catching a cold is less true than it once was now - unless I'm mistaken the combined economy of the Euro-zone is larger than the US economy and the Chinese economy is rising meteorically and on track to overtake the US in a matter of years (looking at raw size in both cases, no per capita considerations). Still, the US is a very big player and will be for the foreseeable future (empires don't tend to die overnight).

I have noticed in my conversations with young folks of all types in the US that attraction to anarchist political philosophy is very strong and growing.  Tea Party members are in general much older than other US anarchists and do not seem to hold true philosophical positions and do not really count in that way as it is their destructive actions towards the current form of government which put them in a more anarchist part of the spectrum.

I don't know many young people in the US - which is to say none younger than me. Those around the same age seem generally apathetic, a bit older - and you're into the tea party territory more and more. I get the impression that the same is true as in the UK though where the younger members of the population are disenfranchised, poorly represented (in both policy and voter turnout) and generally ignored. I don't get the feeling there is much revolutionary spirit out there - even as anger increases with social stress factors?

At some point the Millennial's are going to upset the political apple cart as there are 70 million of them and they are all voting age now.

Right now - it's hard to see what will change in the US. Not only is there only two parties, but they are very similar in policy terms. Even if they weren't the same in policy terms, my impression is that the Republicans aren't going to see office for a term or two at the very least, barring an exceptionally charismatic offering (and no signs of that happening while the tea party drags them to the right further and further).

Where are the alternatives to vote for? Is there ever really an alternative to "business as usual"? When I was in the UK I used to vote, just to say I had if anyone told me it should be how one seeks change - but in the end I came away with a few lessons:

1. Politicians will promise anything without intentions of honouring it, the pledges generally evaporate the day they take office (I think they should be contractually bound on pain of losing office if they fail to honour such promises)

2. The real power (money and behind the scenes influence) is largely unchanged by whichever party gets into power, and to a large extent (see media corporations particularly) chooses who gets in power (too many people vote too predictably).

3. First past the post systems mean the power of your vote is determined only by geography, your vote is meaningless in any region with a predictable outcome and a large voter base that leans predominantly one way or the other. If you live in a swing seat/state your vote counts far more (this is reflecting in the electioneering tactics in use).

4. Even though one party may be out of power for multiple terms or even a generation doesn't mean they will change the system that keeps the parties as few as possible. It is in the interests of the politicians to restrict choice as much as they can to give themselves as little competition as possible.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #35 on: October 30, 2013, 07:20:48 AM »
JimD
While it's refreshing and unexpected to find an American with such a clear understanding of American history I worry that you might forget yourself while relaxing in rural Arizona. Thoughts such as you expressed can be taken as "fightin words" through much of the Southwest, and some of those Hill-Billy's are armed to the teeth.[size=78%]
I lived in Coolidge for a short while and from time to time would forget myself and opine that perhaps Mexicans deserved some small amount of respect or that Reagan might not represent all that is good in America. While I always managed to extract myself from these situations I do fear that others may not always share my luck.
Terry[/size]

JimD

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #36 on: October 30, 2013, 04:47:09 PM »
Terry

You are certainly correct about the need to be somewhat cautious in such matters.  I have a little devil sitting on my shoulder at times which likes to see a little chaos and I cannot resist at times poking at various ignorance's and prejudices.  But one definitely needs to pick and choose though.  While I tease some of those I know that the Mexicans just want their country BACK, I would refrain from such provocations if I was in the presence of some of our more volatile citizens.  The dilemma, and what makes it somewhat exciting, is figuring out which group one is in the presence of.   I am much better at it now than when  I was younger.  ;D  The internet is so much safer.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

JimD

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #37 on: October 30, 2013, 05:20:05 PM »
At some point the Millennial's are going to upset the political apple cart as there are 70 million of them and they are all voting age now.

Maybe. But most anarchists don't vote.

Very true, but I believe that change could happen here.  I am just not sure exactly how.  But having a couple of close relatives who are committed anarchists (party members) and very articulate on the philosophy and its leadership principals I am aware of the potential.  All one has to do is read the history of the older anarchist movements in various countries to see that it can rise to some prominence.  And we can look locally at the relative success of the Libertarian Party here in the US.  Just a little give on how leadership should be conducted and you have a large force on the left just like we have on the right.  A little more compromise and they both jettison the Republicans and Democrats, respectively, join up and they can force change.  I am certain that the current parties will work to keep anything like that happening, but there is huge and growing frustration out there and anything can happen. 

Like Wili I am a longtime reader of the Archdruid Report and highly recommend it.

And Wili, of course, is teasing as he knows that anarchism is not about no government, but rather about making decisions locally, by those directly effected, and via consensus as much as possible.  Almost all forms of anarchism consider large state organizations to be undesirable; i.e. national governments.  Thus large established political organizations are their bitter enemies since anarchists consider them non-essential, and they have pretty successfully painted the anarchists into the corner of firebomb throwers and enemies of civilization.  Which is about as far from the truth as it could be.  Very strong individual rights, a desire for local decision making, and distrust/dislike of central government are strong political forces in the US (especially here in anarchist AZ).  The alliance of these forces with the mainstream Republican Party is unnatural as they hold opposing opinions on who makes decisions, individual rights and the value of the central government.  Such alliances can break (I think).

Another interesting question is whether the rise of political forces oriented towards anarchist principals is more or less likely to move the US towards more intelligent action on climate change.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

wili

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #38 on: October 30, 2013, 09:53:11 PM »
Nicely put, again, Jim, and I'm glad you caught the spirit of my jest.

The distinction sometimes made is between utopian anarchists, the rare cases of people who are actually imagining a future with no governmental structures, and activist anarchists who see the main task as constantly countering and challenging concentrations of power, especially as they become more and more oppressive. The spirit of the latter spirit I would say has deep connections with many of the founding principles of the US, especially the constitutional structures that seek to limit government power and balance various parts of gov power against each other.

The left (to the extent that this term has any relevance any more in the US) has long been suspicious of the power of government, particularly when it chooses to wage war, take life (capital punishment), or intrude itself into people's privacy, including decisions about procreation. The left has also long recognized that dangerously concentrated power can exist outside of the halls of government, specifically in corporate board rooms.

The right seems oddly mostly unconcerned about when the gov intrudes in the most intimate areas--when it dictates that we die, or when it tells us when and who to kill, marry or give birth to. They seem to be most concerned about when government is trying to do something that could actually help people--universal health care and other such 'socialist' initiatives--or when it is taking anyone's money, even from the extremely wealthy. They right, even self described libertarian anarchists, also seem oddly blind to the dangers of corporate power.

(But I could doubtless be accused of mis-characterizing the shortcomings of the right, having little sympathy with most of their specific concerns/obsessions.)

I would like to think that these two strains of anarchist sympathies might get together, but I have to say that I am dubious. The mistrust, partly sown from above, seems just too deep.
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

ritter

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #39 on: October 30, 2013, 11:16:36 PM »
Very true, but I believe that change could happen here.  I am just not sure exactly how.

Jim, I was really just having a bit of fun. Should have included a little  ;)

Interesting discussion, though. I'd certainly prefer a little anarchy over where we look to be headed -- toward fascism or a police state. At least it is now confirmed that the NSA spies on everybody and collects everything! I was worried I might not have made the list!  :o

JimD

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #40 on: October 31, 2013, 04:04:43 PM »
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

ritter

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #41 on: October 31, 2013, 05:39:17 PM »
Try not to laugh and cry at the same time.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/29/american-exceptionalism_n_4170683.html


Gosh. All of those things seem so, so... third world. Could it be?

According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, our infrastructure has certainly attained third world status with a D+ on its 2013 report card.
http://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/
I'm sure this is in no way indicative of our lack of "exceptionalism" though...

JimD

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #42 on: November 02, 2013, 04:56:31 PM »
An empire which can not find the wherewithal to feed, provide medical care (to the standard of the day), and employment for its citizens is weakening.

Topic of the day.  Food stamps.

Benefit cuts to food stamp recipients kick in Friday, a move by Congress that will siphon $5 billion off a program that helps one in seven Americans put breakfast, lunch and dinner on the table.


...Needy Americans who receive food stamps through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program are expected to suffer an average loss of $36 a month from a $275.13 per household benefit. There are a near-record 47.6 million Americans, representing 23.1 million households, on the program.....


That's about 15% of the total population on food stamps.  U6 (the real unemployment rate) is about 15% and the percent of the population without health insurance (at least until Obamacare gets working) is about 15%.  Curious the  consistency of the numbers.

http://www.nbcnews.com/business/families-brace-billions-food-stamp-cuts-set-8C11505320

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/01/food-stamp-cuts-emergency-providers-brace
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

ccgwebmaster

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #43 on: November 02, 2013, 06:31:41 PM »
An empire which can not find the wherewithal to feed, provide medical care (to the standard of the day), and employment for its citizens is weakening.

According to a number of Americans I know - and they genuinely believe this - welfare is killing America. Foreign wars, drone strikes, the nuclear fleet, mass espionage, etc all apparently are more important than providing a basic safety net for the population? A safety net that one suspects can actually be fairly cost effective in terms of economy activity (a healthy population should generate more activity than an unhealthy one, presuming that the profiteering were taken out of the existing system and reallocated into a system that looked after everyone to at least some degree).

However, I don't think the US especially exceptional here - similar comments can be made about the UK and current government policy (although the UK assuredly has a better welfare system at the moment) and about nations like India - a new nuclear power with space ambitions, and still not sure about universal polio vaccination or a meaningful engagement with rural poverty...

wili

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #44 on: November 02, 2013, 08:35:30 PM »
Good points Jim and ccg. It is of course useful for TPTB to encourage the somewhat poor to blame the even-poorer for all their woes. You see this in the hate generated for public welfare, for health insurance, about immigration, and about attempts to right historic wrongs wrt race. Really, a lot of the other things are proxies for race hatreds that are very easily stirred up.

The irony is that the 'reddest' most conservative states are those that actually get the most federal funding of various sorts--are 'on the dole' to the greatest extent, iirc.
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

JimD

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #45 on: November 12, 2013, 04:56:30 PM »
Below is a link to an excellent post on Saudi/Egyptian/Pakistani/Iranian relations and regional politics.  There has been much in the news recently about the breakdown in US-Saudi relations and the implications thereof.  This article presents a great snapshot of some of the dynamics at play.

Part of the reason for the generation of this topic is that the state and trajectory of the American empire has a direct and dominant influence on US actions in regards to climate change.  Possible or perceived options available to US policy makers are filtered and winnowed based upon their impacts on US wealth and position in the world.  Our influence is in decline as evidenced by the evolving situation in the Middle East.  Our options are changing and this will force our hand at some point in the not to distant future.  What direction will we take and how will it impact the critical need to address climate change?

Egypt marches to a Saudi drummer

...On the other hand, the Saudis had found the one man who could break the Muslim Brotherhood after which they would be free to focus on the destruction of their other enemy, Iran and the Shia.

There is nothing new in the objective.  It is the continuation of a war that the Saudis have been pursuing for four decades that dates back to the reign of the Shah.  Saudi Arabia had manipulated the oil price on several occasions in order to inflict economic damage upon the Iranians.
Beyond the economic arena, they have battled each other through proxies in Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq, and currently in Syria.  In spite of all of those efforts, the Saudis are still confronting their traditional foe and seeing Iran a more dangerous rival than ever before with the Shia control of Iraq and through the growth of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s asymmetric warfare skills, and penetration by Al-Qud of the Shia communities throughout the Middle East...
..After depending upon the strength of the United States for seventy years, their American protector is no longer a reliable ally...


http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/11/egypt-marches-to-a-saudi-drummer.html
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

JimD

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #46 on: November 14, 2013, 04:30:58 AM »
The surge in US oil production, as I have mentioned earlier, is not likely to last contrary to the general slant of advertising and news/political pundits.  The production figures just don't bear out the hype.

Some support for that position.

Note:  if this opinion is correct it has big implications relating to US power and policy looking out about 10 years. Not only would it put the middle east back in a more prominent role it ensures a big jump in prices and subsequently a big impact on oil prices. 

..High oil prices will drive further exploration and production of tight oil “but, by the mid-2020s, non-OPEC production starts to fall back and countries from the Middle East provide most of the increase in global supply.”....

Maria van der Hoeven, the executive director of the IEA, said that “there is a huge growth in light tight oil, that it will peak around 2020, and then it will plateau....

...An earlier report released by the US Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration, also suggested that US tight oil production will be high until the end of the decade, and then quickly fall off....


http://oilprice.com/Latest-Energy-News/World-News/IEA-Shale-Boom-is-Only-Temporary-well-Soon-be-Relying-on-Middle-East-Again.html
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

ritter

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #47 on: November 14, 2013, 05:43:18 PM »
The surge in US oil production, as I have mentioned earlier, is not likely to last contrary to the general slant of advertising and news/political pundits.  The production figures just don't bear out the hype.

JimD,

I agree. While I can't say I have my head firmly wrapped around fracking, it is my understanding that the wells only produce for a short time then decline rapidly. New wells are constantly necessary to keep production rising. At some point the demand for wells, water and decline curves will crash into each other. Fracking is even less sustainable than classic oilfield development. Yet somehow, our politicians and media are spewing the "we are saved" rhetoric. NPR had a piece this morning about how our production has meet import levels for the first time in  20 some-odd years. Saved! I tell you! No need for further involvement in the Middle East!

No one seems to pay attention to the future.

JimD

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #48 on: November 15, 2013, 12:32:55 AM »
You've got to hand it to Putin.  He plays the Great Game with some skill.

The Russians Are Back in Town

On Thursday, top Russian and Egyptian officials began talks in Cairo, signaling a potential dramatic foreign policy shift following the U.S. decision to partially cut military aid in response to the ousting of democratically elected, but controversial Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.


...But in the early 1970s, President Anwar Sadat ordered 20,000 Soviet military advisers out of Egypt and amid a U.S. brokered peace deal with Israel, decided to shift Egypt's foreign policy with eyes on aligning with the United States. Since then the U.S. government has provided around $1.3 billion in military aid every year to Egypt, up until the recent aid cut.

In a press conference on Thursday, Egyptian foreign minister Nabil Fahmy was asked by reporters whether Russia would replace the United States as Egypt's main ally. Fahmy simply replied: "Russia's weight is too heavy to be a substitute for anyone."
....


....The talks between the high-profile leaders reportedly include potential arms deals, amounting to as high as $2 billion, reports the BBC. Following the partial military aid cut, Egypt is hoping to acquire military equipment like fighter jets, anti-tank missiles, and air-defense systems, with particular focus on battling rising insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula (though the U.S. has not severed any aid bolstering counter-terrorism efforts in Sinai).

"Russia and Egypt are determined to forge a closer partnership and mutually beneficial cooperation," Lavrov said in an interview with Egypt's Al-Ahram newspaper.
....


Nothing like adding to the complications of middle east turmoil. 

The Russians are now trying to regain their lost influence in Egypt thus potentially keeping Egypt from acquiescing to Saudi influence and possibly cutting US influence in the Arab worlds most populous country even further.

I saw a report a few days ago showing Iranian Revolutionary Guards involved in combat in Syria in support of Assad.

The Israeli's must be throwing up in the corner.
 
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sophia-jones/egypt-russia_b_4272879.html
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

ggelsrinc

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #49 on: November 15, 2013, 12:50:10 AM »
UAR again! I don't think so.

The Russians will lose their base in Syria and Iran will not be allowed to have nuclear weapons. So the world turns!

I believe the true power behind our present conservative movement misconception is in Europe and not the US.

It's a blame game.