Like a ghostly soldier of fortune, the shadow of our hegemony has been casting its pall over the earth for more than two centuries now; but it is growing thin, its pulse weakening, its days numbered. The American empire – this great experiment in freedom and prosperity – is apparently approaching its end; but the would-be corpse is still breathing, battling like a mythic hero desperate to stay alive.
Early indications of this eventuality were foreshadowed in global projections of peak oil along with the empire’s continued environmental abuse and degradation. More recently, the hard-fall of its financial markets and idling of its economic engines betrayed undeniable signs that collapse was on course: the road of infinite progress and universal affluence picking up speed in a stunning reversal, now the road to perdition.
Barack Obama’s selection signaled the rising of the curtain on possibly the final act, as another charismatic emperor struts onstage promising a new dawn with more growth, orchestrated around an ever-expanding imperial vision, with America again “ready to lead the world.” (I’m sure I was not the only one who choked when those words left his lips). Even the least perceptive among the rag-tag proletariat out in the hinterlands could read the tea-leaves; America’s weariness exposed, a looming archetypal battle brewing among forces of hegemonic expansion, contraction, and those instigating for something whispered only softly in kitchens and back alleys, its disintegration. Many began already back then to look for a safe exit.
Additional signs of collapse were the palpable, almost visceral reaction of individual States, recoiling from the growing burden of a constantly expanding Federal mandate. Perhaps the governors finally had enough, recognizing the insidiousness of this creeping imperial disease – relentlessly clawing its way forward – as clearly as others around the globe have seen our national character for more than a century. No less than two dozen States have challenged health care overhaul and just this week urged a U.S. Appeals Court to strike down the legislation, arguing that it far exceeds the federal government’s constitutional powers.
Additional evidence of national disintegration has been unmistakable over the past two years: a renewed defense of the 10th amendment – States seeking to safeguard their rights, vociferously refusing federal stimulus funds, with some backdoor chatter of secession in various quarters. And all this was coupled with an almost magically self-induced splintering strife haunting both factions (Democrat and Republican) of the controlling political hegemony.
It appears that much of this early maneuvering by the States arose in direct response to the Obama administration’s move to curtail the second amendment’s right to bear arms, nationalize certain commercial enterprises, make ‘hand-cuff’ loans to the States, and continue to support its multinational corporate sponsors’ investments through expanded military campaigns globally. Well, you get the picture! More big government! More imperial control! More power!
President Obama tipped his hand early in his tenure during a visit to the Kremlin (of all places) not long after ascending to the high seat. Speaking to graduates of the New Economic School in Moscow in 2009, he stated, “The pursuit of power is no longer a zero-sum game… Progress must be shared.” To clarify, the issue raised by such a bold admission is not whether this “pursuit” is a zero or positive sum game; but simply, that power is the name of the game plain and simple – a game played by hegemons for ensuring their global influence and driving their imperialist designs. The real import of his remark was not merely acknowledging that continual expansion is a cornerstone of nation building, but that the real game is the pursuit of power globally (we can worry later about win, lose or draw).
And, as we have seen, our imperialist elites will stop at nothing to gain the upper hand. They will sleep with, take orders from, or eliminate anybody in order to expand their reach and enrich themselves, no matter what the cost to the earth, our citizenry, or other cultures: conspiring with the likes of BP, Goldman Sachs, Gaddafi, Mubarak, Saddam Hussein, and bin Laden, to name just a few. Anyone can become a pawn to be used, supported, and then despised or eliminated, depending upon the needs of imperial expansion and global hegemony.
The latest instantiation of trouble in our increasingly troubling imperialistic drive was betrayed by recent events and commentary surrounding the apparent assassination of Osama bin Laden, America’s latest version of the incarnate face of Evil! And the talking points have been reiterated non-stop by media idiots and other paid counter-conspiracy theory pundits.
The fact is that we were beside-ourselves with joy to support the master terrorist when he was fighting the Evil Empire, as those Soviet Commies were attempting to “liberate” Afghanistan from the unwashed Islamic hordes. With prodding from our CIA, we supplied Osama and his “freedom fighters” with the know-how and weaponry to stave off the unholy aggressors and defend their homeland. We used him as a puppet in our Cold War battle against the great Soviet Bear. He was our fair-haired Muslim boy, our bearded savior from the holy land. But then, when our own creeping assault upon the sacred soil became more clearly manifest, defiling and despoiling the sacred spaces as we moved – from Kuwait and Iraq to Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and now Libya – bin Laden quickly recognized that Uncle Sam and our hegemonic designs were the real threat to his holy land, to their religious and cultural traditions, as we sought to gain control of their liquid gold, the OIL that maintains our unsustainable and deluded, infidel lifestyle.
But the USA also needed a reason to increase its incursions into MENA, so perhaps the CIA was tapped again to call upon its old friend Osama to wreak some havoc on our own soils (9/11), and get the American populace behind a larger war of occupation and control in the Middle East and the Arabian Peninsula. Given the history of our covert operations, deceptions and machinations (as Wikileaks has clearly demonstrated), it is not entirely out of the question. Perhaps this is why conspiracy theories still run rampant; and why this Administration (in the person of Dr. ‘Sunny’ Sunstein) wants to squelch them pronto. And perhaps that is why we finally had to pop Osama – “Geronimo” – quickly and quietly, without trial or public discussion, because the wholly/holy Evil One knew too much.
With our relentless assaults in that region and the rest of the globe, we continue to increase our military budgets exponentially for imperial expansion and the goodies it promises to deliver – oil, markets, and slave-wage labor. All the while taking our own social programs to the killing floor of the abattoir, seeking to disembowel senior citizens and the poor, and perhaps then, the middle class. (Katie, bar the doors!!)
So what is happening here? Well, disenfranchised socialists, libertarians and communists all smell blood in the water. Yet the larger body politic – the proletariat or petite bourgeoisie (depending upon your perspective) – is not so quick to jump on any of these tired bandwagons. In fact, many among the masses are exploring alternative solutions concerning the trajectory and velocity of change necessary to avert the direst of outcomes. And among them are voices loosely crying for a retreat or even the termination of the executioner… death to the State and its alien authority.
These calls come from the would-be anarchists of today… not because they want chaos to reign; rather, because they feel the archaic pull of a more primal autonomy, some feral memory trace that was lost with the establishment of kingdoms, nations, empires, legislators, and other anonymous, impersonal hierarchies.
Yes, a revolution seems imminent. But it does not promise to be soft or unifying; rather, it looks to be one of disintegration. And while the secessionist movements may have gained serious momentum among certain left-leaning elements during the second coming of the Burning Bush era, this revolution may not be led by liberals or progressives, but rather by conservatives and independents, perhaps by the slap-happy-gun-tottin’-Tea-partiers themselves; those who prefer limited federal authority and minimal government in general. And now, the GOP (a.k.a. Sister Sarah) is looking to create further divisions within the USA over the “Osama Kill.”
But when the divisiveness escalates, and fists (err… bullets) start to fly, with a few States perhaps attempting secession from the Union, these new anarchists may begin to make their own moves, taking advantage of the vulnerability of both the Union and the States.
As heir-apparent of Western progress with constantly expanding hierarchies of social, political, and economic complexity, the self-described beacon of hope to the rest of humanity, this American landscape is now a fitting body-politic for a complete reversal of course; the rejection of hierarchy, of legislative control, and the complexity of the civilized state. It appears increasingly to be the unlikely harbinger of the recovery of a more primal, instinctual freedom. (What did Freud call it, “the return of the repressed?”)
America is a land ripe for cultural, economic and political disintegration in the interests of recovering some lost simplicity. All hinges upon the nature, dynamics and momentum of the revolutionary spirit, and to what extent it can overcome the inertia of standing cultural and political hegemonic forces. But the fairytales we tell ourselves, and the myths we have come to believe in, simply to maintain this ignorance and our loyalty to this dream-turned-nightmare, carry too great a price for even people like Sarah-know-nothing or Joe-nobody to put up with and stay their hand much longer.
Will the coming end of the American empire have us running in retreat from a world populated by the likes of Mad Max, a war of all against all? Or will it be the highly anticipated coming of the Kingdom of God on earth? Neither I think! If revolutionary forces succeed in mobilizing this passion for disintegration, and if such passion can fuel the anarchist’s vision for community without authority, without a head of state, then perhaps this hegemony can be dismantled and “we, the people,” can rediscover a renewed form of community — real communities built upon simple respect for the other (including the earth), an appreciation of self-sufficiency born of cooperation, and an expansive sense of kinship – both consanguineal and affine relations. But let’s not hope for it; there’s already been too much of that “hopey” thing lately.