JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: THE INEVITABLE DELETERIOUS EFFECTS OF EMPIRE – NOT JUST ABROAD, BUT VERY MUCH AT HOME – AMERICA IS STARTING TO EXPERIENCE THEM IN QUITE BRUTAL FASHION NOW – BUT THE SLIDE DOWNWARD SEEMS UNSTOPPABLE BECAUSE AMERICA’S PRIVILEGED REACT NO DIFFERENTLY THAN DID THE PRIVILEGED OF VICTORIAN BRITAIN OR OTHER GREAT EMPIRES   Leave a comment

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY WILL COLLINS IN CHECKPOINT ASIA

 

“Washington Imagines Itself the Master of the Globe but Its Military Is a Tiny Colonial Police Force

“As with Britain in the 1920s America’s global hegemony is resting on feet of glass”

 

https://www.checkpointasia.net/washington-imagines-itself-the-master-of-the-globe-but-its-military-is-a-tiny-colonial-police-force/

 

There are interesting points here, but I find the piece unsatisfying and a bit disturbing overall.

The author focuses on America’s establishment having made some poor choices recently in its governance of empire – as, indeed, it very much has – rather than, what I think far more consequential, questioning the entire imperial enterprise itself.

I think a good argument can be made that such bad decisions in imperial governance always follow from the very nature of empire and the privileged class who run it largely for their own benefit.

And so many of America’s terrible problems at home are pretty direct fall-out from its imperial system, and the broad American public seems to have remarkably little grasp of the fact.

The money – borrowed, all of it, so that the spending is constantly building a terrifying future burden which everyone except the privileged who spend it will be responsible for, one way or another – squandered on the military and state security plus all the attention and focus and political will of the establishment leave the United States equipped to fix virtually nothing at home.

You have an almost unfixable decaying infrastructure of bad roads and bridges and urban sewer and water systems and transportation systems and schools.

You have one of the world’s strangest and most grossly unfair medical service industries with elites automatically getting the very finest and advanced care and so many others literally driven into bankruptcy, medical bills remaining as America’s single largest cause of personal bankruptcy.

You have a terribly violent social fabric with police killing an average of three citizens per day and generally not even being held accountable. You have the world’s highest rate of incarceration, and in some of the world’s more violent and ruthlessly-managed prisons, prisons in which many hundreds mysteriously die every year.

You have open squalor, indistinguishable from a Third World place, to be seen over vast stretches of the country’s cities and rural locations. Armies of homeless camping out on streets and in parks of great cities, reduced to defecating on the pavement, just as you might see in rural India.

You certainly have the complete end of all personal privacy in the country with a massive security apparatus that rivals anything the old East German Stasi. Everything from the made-legal intrusions of the FBI and NSA and Homeland Security to the backdoors built into various digital devices and to the unregulated gathering and distribution and use of sinful amounts of personal data by gigantic, unchallenged Internet monopoly firms.

It is interesting that a country which in its popular culture has long put such great emphasis on the individual has begun effectively to destroy many foundations of individuality, but of course the people running empires have little regard for individuality, beyond their own. It kind of “comes with the territory,” as they used to say.

You have the building of an elite class so separated from the mass of ordinary people by wealth and privilege that they really do represent a society within a society, a kind of Inner Party, one that pays almost no taxes to support the imperial edifice from which it benefits. It commands all the key political and social levers, effectively reducing the country to a plutocracy, with only a window-dressing of democracy and justice.

Well, there are many parallels, at home and abroad, not just to imperial Victorian Britain but to late 18th century France and even to Rome after the Empire ended the Republic.

Empire is intrinsically about privilege and extreme inequality and abuse of people, always and everywhere. Its effects are never just felt abroad. They always erode the very foundations of the society upon which the empire was built.

However much Americans may embrace the secular religious notion of their exceptionalism in the world, almost a contemporary parody of the Old Testament’s God’s Chosen People, America is demonstrably not free of the enduring stresses and forces and dangers of empire.

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