Tuesday, December 29, 2009

End of American Empire?

I've believed for the last few years that we're well past the tipping point of that, and we're not going to be a global empire or even a superpower anymore. Which is fine. I just thought we'd kind of settle down to a comfortable, post-Empire retirement, like England or Spain. Nothing wrong with that. The two jeremiads I'm reading now have much darker predictions - and though often based on the same observations, paint two quite distinct if different ends for us.

Empire of Illusion, by Chris Hedges, has us degenerating into a morally, intellectually, and economically bankrupt principality, sealed off and xenophobic, our citizens living in illiterate serfdom. In other words, we're turning into Albania.

The University in Chains, by Henry A. Giroux, has us continuing our military expansion, subjugating and exploiting the rest of the world as we keep our own citizens under surveillance and terror, occasionally entertained by banal or immoral spectacles. In other words, we're turning into Nazi Germany.

Well, neither one seems very nice, though I suppose the radical difference in conclusions should make my more calm prediction seem less than impossible.


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