Reflections on the Empire: Part II

Empire Babies

“The world is a freak show, and if you live in the United States. You have a front-row seat.”

The quote at the beginning of this essay is to paraphrase the late great comedian George Carlin. We citizens of the U.S are empire babies, and too many of us don’t realize we have a front seat to this freak show called the United States of America. I spoke about the U.S. refusing to call itself an empire, and its citizens not calling a spade a spade. But this nation is an empire. Hell, I even gave the empire four years of service thanks to the poverty draft. 

In (Lornett Vestal/me) 2003, serving aboard the USS Cleveland LPD-7 during Operation Iraqi Freedom

The empire babies have been propagandized to believe that life is simple regarding the United States’ foreign political affairs. People in politics or who follow politics speak about the world as if we live in a Marvel Comics movie. The U.S. is the good guy, and the designated ‘enemy” is the bad guy. We are the Avengers, and the ‘foreign’ bad guys are Thanos and his minions. We always see this during times of conflict as a way to dehumanize the ‘enemy.’ During the Vietnam era, where the Vietcong were condescendingly called “Charlie.” During the Cold War, the Soviets and any politically left-leaning person were called “Pinko Commies.” During the ‘War on Terrorism,’ the leaders of the empire determined that those “raghead terrorists” were jealous of U.S. freedom. The nation has expanded its empire in the name of ‘freedom’ ever since the embers of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were still burning. 

Unlike the British and Roman Empires, the U.S. and its citizens refuse to call themselves an empire. I contend that the USA is an empire. It’s just an empire in decline, and I’ll get to that later. Look at the Military-Industrial Complex. The U.S. has over eight hundred military bases worldwide in countries as diverse as Cuba, South Korea, and Australia. Look at the latest defense budget. If we look at spending on defense, policing, and intelligence agencies. You’re talking about a trillion-plus dollars in taxpayers’ money to create a police state at home and a global military force abroad, which is more troubling as we stand on the brink of World War III. 

This is American exceptionalism at its finest. A massive security and defense empire built on the backs of dead slaves and stolen native lands. All in the name of keeping us empire babies ‘safe’. Except we aren’t safe, and the world is very volatile. Humanity is on the brink, from war to famine to the climate crisis. In the U.S., we always have money for war but can’t house or feed the poor. But as an empire baby, if you are out on the street, it’s your own fault; according to our cold and callous Social Darwinist, winner takes all society. We citizens of the U.S love to say how ‘free’ we are. But if we are so free, try moving to a different state without any money. You’ll be out on the streets homeless af left to the mercy of cops and the elements. 

The empire’s number one priority is to ensure that its corporations and oligarchs (not just the Russian ones) acquire more wealth and expand markets. Since capitalism is all about growth, the empire demands endless growth on a finite planet. Eventually, something will have to give. But this is the nation’s priorities in a nutshell. A massive police and surveillance state within our borders and a massive military force used to bend the will of countries that don’t fall in line. Don’t worry. Thanks to their unholy alliance with the USA, the former European empires still flourish. 

Economic inequality soars in the U.S., and aboard, billionaires will soon become trillionaires. People in the U.S. still lack universal healthcare during a global pandemic. All while Big Pharma and ‘nonprofit‘ hospitals bring in millions. All while U.S. citizens drown in student loan and credit card debt, and little kids drown in school lunch debt. Billionaires buy up and absorb each other’s companies, all while getting tax breaks, cuts, and kicks back from the government. In comparison, our tax dollars could be used to improve every citizen’s life and combat the climate crisis we face. But no, that money must be used to feed the greedy and fat empire. 

The empire babies fail to realize that our glory days will be behind us sooner than we think. A New World Order is on the horizon.  

I’m sure the people of Afghanistan think of the U.S. as the Evil Empire. I wouldn’t blame them.

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