The Empire of the Mind, Part 1

Posted on 01/03/2011 by


It is an ancient and well-established tradition that the dominant power or powers of a particular epoch will seek to display their primacy by constructing an empire. This is not to say that every empire is purely a vanity project, although all empires have very powerful currents of national pride, and indeed vanity, although such sentiments are often dressed in ‘high-fa-looting’ terms. An empire just for the lulz is the exception which proves the rule, I think, and out of the empires of history I can only think of two which I am familiar with: the tragically costly and useless Italian empire under Mussolini, as well as Alexander the Great’s empire.

To expand a bit on the idea of a pure vanity empire, very few empires are begun simply for the joy of saying “we’ve got an empire”. At the onset, there are territorial considerations, desire for wealth, staving off one’s enemies, and so on and so forth. Reaching the point of permanent decline and collapse of the empire, however, each and every empire will become vanity projects without fail. This is basic economics: an empire in decline has ceased to be a net gain to the Fatherland, and is instead a net loss. Coolly leaving aside all humanitarian considerations, an empire which does not pay for itself will not be long for the world.

It is at the peak of an empire where its primary interest will be revealed; the greatest flowering, if you will, of the fundamental reason for its existence. The Roman Empire was for the sheer joy of plunder; the British Empire was interested in controlling the oceans; the Soviet Empire was building the bulwark against the capitalist West. Although this reductionistic, it lends a good tool for understanding the source country of the given empire.

Turning here to the United States, I think it can be taken as given that the US government is, and has been for a very long time indeed, pursuing an empire to call its own. It has largely succeeded in that agenda, as much of the world, with few exceptions, is at least under its sway, if not outright control. Additionally, I posit that 25 January of this year represented the peak of the US Empire; we’ve entered the slope of decay, however long that might take. It was on that day that Egyptians decided they were no longer going to be afraid, a choice which will have vast implications.

I’ve written about the rising up of Egyptians in the general flavour of ‘end of the US Empire’, but with the notion of post-peak imperial analysis at hand, I’d like to use the opportunity to consider what, exactly, the US Empire was interested in controlling. It will come as some surprise, I suspect, that I dismiss oil: yes, the US government is very interested in controlling oil fields, but in a manner which I would call disinterested. Oil is the blood for the Empire, yes, but oil is not the reason for its existence, for the simple reason that the USG is honestly interested in creating new profit centres for private corporations in non-oil energy sources.

For the answer to ‘what is the US Empire’s raison d’être?’ I present the interesting nature of Cablegate. The most fundamental facet of all these cables is not necessarily the content, but rather their consistent tone of seething resentment against those countries and people who do not play by the USG’s rules. The most obvious flare-up of this, which I am aware of, is probably cable BERN 000612 from retiring US ambassador to Switzerland Peter Coneway: the cable was rife with playground-quality sniping against the Swiss government.

‘Not being with the programme’, as far as the USG is concerned, goes beyond merely going through the motions, or making the right political choices. It expects that people and countries must believe in ‘the programme’, and accept it as completely valid. Point and case within the BERN 000612: Coneway’s acidic hatred is never more evident than when the Swiss question the motives and plans of the USG. HIs opinions are not simply an isolated man’s rantings; that completely ignores the nature of institutions. Those who achieve high status in a given institution, especially one such as the USG, will be heavily vetted for ‘political reliability’ and dedication to the goals of the USG.

To distill the point, the USG is most interested in ensuring that what people think is in line with its goals, because mere physical cooperation and verbal acquiescence are insufficient. All other details, it seems, are secondary to controlling the way people think. This is not some great conspiracy or organised plot to conquer the world, but rather the fundamental and unconscious conceit of the entire US Empire. The US government has sought to subvert the sovereignty of the world, not to control the resources or the labour, or really anything which can be quantified. It has fought to create an empire of all the minds of the human race.

And on the 25th of January, it failed.

Read Part 2 here.

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Posted in: Analysis, WikiLeaks