Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Ugly truths to avoid

Something from an old friend written around the last general election spectacle (2004) that seems apropos now:
Colonialism is not new. The US itself was once a colony in a sense, a gaggle of European invaders was considered a colony by England. This period of American history is also notable for the fact that those invaders ostensibly "fled" England in search of religious freedom.

Upon their arrival in the "New" world, they immediately set about concerted and enthusiastic attempt at genocide against the people who lived there while imposing horrific punishments on anyone of their own number who did not share their religious beliefs.

This auspicious harbinger of the glory that wished to cast itself as the new Rome occurred few centuries ago, very few, about 3.

(When discussing earlier empires in relation to the US, it is always necessary to use Rome as an example, never the Ottoman Empire, or your words will be rendered inaccessible to western readers, most of whom have only a foggy notion of what the Ottoman Empire is, and many of whom are surprised, and a little disappointed, to learn that the term does not refer to a discount furniture outlet.)

The west measures its history in centuries. The US is an infant even within that youthful context. The Majority World measures its history in millennia, in the Americas, in tens of millennia.

There is no nation in Africa, in Asia, in Greater Arabia, in America in the true sense: one large continent artificially made two by a slash of Manifest Knife down in Panama, that is a stranger to either the concept or the consequences of greed.

Few, if any nations anywhere have escaped the thread of invasions, occupations, colonizations and various other actions being woven into the tapestry of their history, and at the time of this writing, all but the most recent have been repelled to a greater or lesser extent.

The most recent are works in progress. These would include secondary repulsions of the sticks that colonizers like to use to keep the cash doors from completely closing when they are forced out.

Occupations and colonial projects end when they are no longer profitable, when the cost of continuing them becomes too great compared to the revenues generated by them.

The US believes it has found a workaround: instead of classical colonization a la the British Raj, or even France in its beloved Indochine, just cut the frills and go for the money shot.

Domestically, the US is taking some bold steps backwards to bring back the profitable darkness of feudalism to its own huddled masses, encouraged by the willingness with which the house servants and yeomen gladly sally forth to cheer their lords, prodded only by the incentive of an extra ration of white sponge bread, delighted as a toddler at a Chuck-E-Cheese bash to be allowed the privilege of choosing which adjectives shall describe the glorious rainment of two naked would-be Emperors, and which one shall be accorded the honor of standing on the balcony to announce which tribe in which far off land will be slaughtered today.

Neither warlords nor house servants are great lovers of history, requiring as it does, quite a bit of reading, to establish timelines and a body of facts, and independent analytical thought to interpret and draw conclusions, however obvious.

This is probably just as well, for even the most cursory overview of empires of yesteryear will invariably touch on the fate of warlords and house servants when those empires reached their inevitable conclusion. Talk about harshing a buzz. And so close to the election, too.

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today,
To-morrow will be dying
Consider it a harbinger, if you will.

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