Category Archives: Empire

Decline and Fall

Biden: “He thinks wind causes cancer. Windmills. It’s the fastest growing jobs…”

Trump: “I know more about wind than you do. It’s extremely expensive. Kills all the birds.”

Outpost

You could do worse than watch The Outpost on Netflix as a way of thinking about the West and the Rest. Like most action war films, the filmmakers place the audience firmly in the position of the story’s protagonists. The obligatory hand-held camera work and high frame rate consolidate this perspective, producing a cinematically immersive experience. The dialog and characterization in The Outpost‘s opening minutes is equally familiar to anyone who has watched a few war movies. The soldiers are identified by surname and given a few seconds apiece in medium close-up, often with trivial yet character-establishing dialog. We hear accents, see facial expressions, and are given a name to attach to these minor details. The film wants us to care about its characters, though you can see even at this early point that it won’t direct our attention away from the coming fight to consider the lives of those they love back home. A succinct line of dialog confirms this when a seasoned enlisted man, Sgt. Romesha (Scott Eastwood) tells the younger soldiers not to think about their wives until they leave the outpost.

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Excited

This is interesting. I have never during my lifetime heard a sitting member of Congress inveigh against Western Imperialism. Certainly you’ll never hear a politician like Nancy Pelosi or Chuck Schumer (or, obviously, any mainline Republican) use that language. Also, the funny part about this clip is that reactionary news site Breitbart has posted it on youtube as an effort to enflame its readers, who have responded in a characteristically thoughtful manner.

Ellen and Mike and Empire (225/303/310/485)

Imperialism is hegemonic in the sense that the citizens of Empire are often shocked or angered by the assertion that they do, in fact, live in one– usually before they bother to define that term.

In honor of Fleet Week– which is clearly a symbol of American Empire– here are two speeches that have been supplemented with images.

First, a by-now viral video of Ellen.

I’d never heard of this next one until yesterday. I don’t know who originally made it.

Consider our discussions about hegemony and interpretation. What codes and values are invoked by these clips? How does form shape or undermine content? Do you live in an Empire? What evidence and arguments support your claim?

The Reason Why (415)

As the “humanitarian aid” narrative promoted by Elliot Abrams and Marco Rubio combusts, the true motives for US efforts to overthrow the Maduro government become clearer. See https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-03-12/venezuela-s-opposition-to-allow-independent-foreign-oil-drilling for an article that uncritically accepts the prospect of neocolonialism in Venezuela as a positive step.

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Cold War 3.0

Note the way Trump’s speechwriters cram together standard-issue anti-socialism, imperial arrogance, and a full-throated “Israel first” pronouncement.

Two weeks ago, the United States officially recognized the legitimate government of Venezuela and its new President, Juan Guaido. We stand with the Venezuelan people and their noble quest for freedom and we condemn the brutality of their regime whose socialist policies have turned that nation from being the wealthiest in South America into a state of abject poverty and despair.

Here in the United States, we are alarmed by the new calls to adopt socialism in our country. America was founded on liberty and independence and not government coercion, domination and control. We are born free and we will stay free.

Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country. One of the most complex set of challenges we face and have for many years is in the Middle East. Our approach is based on principle, realism, not discredited theories that have failed for decades to yield progress. For this reason, my administration recognized the true capital of Israel and proudly opened the American embassy in Jerusalem.

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