The American Empire Will Fall if Humanity Stands Together

Empires despise laws. The U.S. Empire still desires to dominate Iran, Venezeula, Bolivia, Syria, and others, all in contravention of the United Nations Charter and the Geneva Conventions. When the Geneva Conventions and International Laws of War and Commerce were created and put into force, there was still a belief that nations of the world could live in harmony by being rational and reasonable, and following an agreed-upon set of norms and rules of law that kept nations bound.

But when the postmodern and neoliberal assault on reason and the norms of ethical interchange commenced, combined with the emergence of the U.S. Empire as an acquisitive, regulation-free capitalistic, and militaristic hegemon, the consequence for the world was the complete surrender of notions of cooperation between nations as set by and in the international rule of law, along with the ethical and rational conditions that emphasized discourse over power-plays. Most importantly, the rise of the Empire brought with it the evaporation of the possibility of a peace that was not based in the oppressive operations of a hegemon running its own worldwide military-based regime.

One of the primary conditions that allowed the U.S. Empire to grow was a spurning of a commitment to any ethical commitments, such as the equality of any other party to a discourse, and perhaps more importantly, the rejection of the universal jurisdiction of law and its application as a common ethical and legal baseline. All of American culture, to say nothing of the corporate elites of the Empire, mowed down these parameters of equal discourse and law like a summer lawn, with the result that the mobsterism of the U.S. Empire was not only all the world was left with, but simultaneously all the domestic government rule of U.S. citizens was left with: the last vestiges of our failed experiment with democracy.

On the other side of this same domestic coin, the U.S. media joined the mobsters as their mouthpiece, with no norms of critical thinking, no informed discourse, and no ethical principles taken by the media to be necessary and basic to any analyses of the current conditions of our national and international affairs. Thus, any analysis appealing to such guidelines is now simply dismissed by reducing it to just an “ideology” or “metaphor” that is in opposition to the reigning neoconservative “reality.”

Hence, the methods of propaganda once championed by Walter Lippmann and Edward Bernays have been now been cultivated by the supposedly left-leaning media outlets such as CNN and MSNBC, without overtly admitting that they have reduced themselves simply to “doing the Empire’s propaganda” with any alleged critique of the Mobster Empire’s abuses limited to personality flaws and voyeuristic dramas.

The result of all this is that we find ourselves today in that “never again” cultural space—the space where totalitarianism is ascending. Just as in Weimar Germany, the culture was immersed in irrationality and rejection of moral and rational norms and emphases, so today we find that we have arrived at that very same cultural position (I’m not arguing here that we are heading for another Hitler!). That such irrationalism is a prelude to a deeply authoritarian government has been well documented in the philosophical writings on World War II, and one can appeal to authors such as Georg Lukacs, Karl Popper, and Peter Drucker for detailed and cogent support and analyses of this phenomenon. The point here is that, under the sustained attack on reason and ethical values, a baseless and thus paradoxical irrationalism arises that allows for totalitarian forms of rule, both at home and abroad.

The solution can only be a return to some form of sanity—i.e. rationally-supported, communicable, unified principled view, most specifically with a goal of inculcating a sense of a common good ethics—or the result will be a common cultural and political suicide. What postmodern disciples do not understand is that with their celebration of the death of the primacy of reason comes the death of truth, and with the death of truth, all knowledge, ethics, and self-conscious social commonality have come to be taken as relative, and a true politics thereby becomes hopeless. In its stead politics becomes a means of raw competition for power and geo-political and resource control, if not just power for its own sake. Further, no criticism is possible from any quarter of society, since the criticism would just be ignored or dismantled under postmodern intellectual pretenses of proclaiming the death of such implied objective standards. Meanwhile, as the living standards of workers continue to plummet and the planet heats up, no pushback is possible because a relativist and individualist culture that results from denial of rational and ethical basics by definition will not unify themselves, since there is no understanding of a self-grounding set of principles, with the result that individual “identities” are all they have left to politically fight for.

Contrary to that, the political purpose of individual rational thinking and commitment to an ethical good has always been to prevent the lower impulses of our nature from taking over the human condition—i.e. self-centeredness, manipulation, hatred, brutality, class exclusion, etc. With the removal of the conditions that sought as its collective goal the best type of human interchange, and that might have prevented or significantly mitigated the corporate takeover of America and the American Empire, there is now nothing on which liberals can stand together to fight: not justice, not ethics, not reason, not the quest for truth. We are all suffering as a consequence, with no solid principle or set of principles around which to unify. And as we have seen in the last ten years or longer, common suffering does not necessarily result in common unity or common organizing. It will take something else to kick-start a new revolution against the depressive conditions of neoliberal policies of greed and class oppression. Even Marx and (really) Engels’ call that “you have nothing to lose but your chains” is insufficient to a dis-integrated population.

Some might object to this analysis on the grounds that it is too abstract: that if the social conditions of poverty, oppression, and the recognition of a rapidly-dwindling middle-class lifestyle are insufficient to move people, then it is unlikely a commitment to a new principle or a generalized call to rationality and justice will move people to unify. But this objection presumes that human values are locked into the vicissitudes of history alone. Contrary to that, witness the following facts. First, in WWII, the Western Allies defeated Hitler and his band of fascists, but they did not defeat the philosophy of fascism and totalitarianism. It is always a danger that this philosophy will rise again where great political and economic power is concentrated, as it is now in the United States, and thus it is that philosophy we must address if we are to avoid totalitarianism in the future.

Second, how did the civil rights movement progress and gain part of what they sought, for example, in terms of voting rights? They were organized around a set of principles, summarized by Martin Luther King as “justice,” which he defined in terms of fairness, equality, and freedom from oppression. Those were the driving forces of the civil rights movement. There was far more to the movement, of course, but without these principles, the truth of which they thought to be rational, self-evident, and the groundwork to their cause, they would not have had the pole around which to center their thoughts and actions, and the moral compass to direct their actions.

Finally, analogous to the case being made here, the main requirement environmentalists have for decades claimed that is needed is a change in our national philosophy, to one that moves deliberately and with full ethical intent away from fossil fuel reliance to renewable energy. They are not suggesting that social conditions will evolve so that this can become the case; they have consistently argued that a change in philosophy is needed to allow a move in this direction.

So we can learn a lesson from the persistent environmental and civil rights voices we have heard and are currently hearing—at least in more progressive media outlets: take their principle-based philosophy and make it a wider philosophy. Become unified with the voices of any and all democratic reform movements in general, be they civil rights, feminist, anti-war, and all. It’s not the (postmodern) “differences” that will bring change: it will be the common philosophy that unites us. It is only through principled unity that change will occur, not through divided and splintered “identity” politics. This is a perfect moment for finding a set of organizing and unifying principles to rally progressives into a unity.

These principles are going to have to be seen as universal if they are to be successful. It will also require a commitment to truth, not to some “ideology” or “metaphor.” But these shifts will imply a return to reason and ethical principle as a primary element in and of political discourse. This will certainly be counter to the current American culture. If this also is at cross-purposes with old-school liberals, with their focus on individual selves, relativism, and the reduction of rational, ethical, and political discourse to simple ideology or language, that is so much the worse for liberalism in general, and so much the better for the mobster Empire, which will continue until it either literally runs out of gas, or, more quickly and decisively, is overcome by the unified voices of the people.

What are the chances of unifying our principles so that we can unify our voices in a pushback against the Empire? Only to the degree to which all individual  and mini-group voices unify under larger and more inclusive principles can this be done. The focus will have to be unity with other citizens some of whose personal interests might be diverse from our own, but nonetheless have a commonality with us and with the people of other nations that transcends our differences (“ they” are not “those rapists,” “those Islamist terrorists,” or more generally in our history, “those savage others”). As part of this philosophy of what we share in common, we can easily craft a unified demand that our government follow a commitment to the rule of law (i.e. law’s universal application), by following international law and the United Nations Charter.

Learning to come together again need to be our new goal and new philosophy, for we have seen what the emphasis on “difference,” “fragmentation,” and “the other” has brought, and it has only strengthened the Empire. We need to bring the Empire down and people up, and that means unity under the same banner of “humanity.”

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Dr. Robert P. Abele holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Marquette University. He is the author of three books: A User’s Guide to the USA PATRIOT Act (2005); The Anatomy of a Deception: A Logical and Ethical Analysis of the Decision to Invade Iraq (2009); Democracy Gone: A Chronicle of the Last Chapters of the Great American Democratic Experiment (2009). He contributed eleven chapters to the Encyclopedia of Global Justice, from The Hague: Springer Press (October, 2011). Dr. Abele is a professor of philosophy at Diablo Valley College, located in Pleasant Hill, California in the San Francisco Bay area. His web site is www.spotlightonfreedom.com


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Articles by: Robert Abele

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