While the American empire is an empire in its own special, American way, empires are not new, nor is ending them. E.P. Thompson, an influential British historian who was editor of the New Left Review, wrote about the downfall of Rome and the importance of slave and peasant revolts: “Empires only fall because a sufficient number of people are sufficiently determined to make them fall, whether those people live inside or outside the frontier.”
It is time for those inside the American empire to join together and demand its end: empire undermines the economy, weakens security, increases racial divisions, destroys the rule of law, and creates failed democracies. Isn’t that enough to unite around?
I wish Zeese had been a little bit more careful with his language because it almost sounds like he’s hoping for the downfall of America. He isn’t. He’s hoping for the end of the American Empire, the Constitution-trampling, war-loving monstrosity that bears no resemblance to our principled and free republic. Even putting a desired end of empire in that context will upset many who enjoy the prestige we have around the world, but what price are we willing to pay for prestige? How many dead American teenagers? How many dead Afghans? How many men held without trial and tortured? Most importantly, how might reduced military prestige in fact enhance our moral prestige?
A left-right anti-war coalition is a necessity. The people in the middle of this country’s political spectrum are sleepwalking. They don’t care about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq so long as their taxes don’t go up and an acceptable number of body bags comes home each week. They’ve gone along with these wars since 2001 and they aren’t likely to change now.
So it’s those of us at the extremes that have to get the ball rolling. We are painfully awake and aware of what’s being done in our name. We might reach our opposition to war from different starting points, but our goal of peace is the same. That’s something I’ve realized the more I read socialist and communist media in the U.S. I have very little in common with socialists and communists, but this issue of war and empire is paramount to me at the moment and on it, we agree. It’s the issue more than any other that is making me want to emigrate. If peace means having to hold banners with people in Marx t-shirts, I’m willing to do it and I hope the people in the Marx t-shirts would say the same about me in my Rothbard one.
We’ve got to recapture the vibrancy the anti-war movement had in 2002 and early 2003. Otherwise, absurdities like our “end to combat operations” in Iraq and “reevaluation of Afghanistan policy” will be used to continue these wars forever.