Monday, April 14, 2014

Comparing Empires and is the U.S. one?

Wikipedia says Carr was a “quasi-Marxist.”   Marx preached an historical determinism which may be where Carr got his, but a lot of the “the US-is-an-Empire” talk came from that rather than from a showing that the US is like Rome or the Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch or British Empires.   It has become for the modern Marxist/Leftist a pejorative term rather than a quest to determine what it is precisely that comprises an Empire and whether the U.S. fits. 

Since Marx we’ve had Francis Fukuyama building on Kojeve arguing that Hegel was right after all (and Marx was wrong).  The end of history is Capitalism, or to use its modern expression, Liberal Democracy, and not Communism.  The Leninistic “Imperialism is the highest form of Capitalism” argument therefore becomes otiose.

Niall Ferguson, no Marxist, thinks the U.S. is an Empire but hasn’t produced a definition or an argument to substantiate that idea as far as I know.  There is a sense in which the U.S. performs like the “World’s policeman” on occasion.  And there was the handing off of the “world’s policeman’s baton” from Churchill to Eisenhower and the U.S. becoming committed in South East Asia somewhat as a result, but unfortunately not to attempt to rescue France’s chestnuts but to attempt to keep a domino from falling (in the then believed theory about the best way to battle Communism). 

Wilson, representing a majority view (IMO) supported the “four freedoms” at the end of WWI and did not approve of the French, British, and Italians desire to split up the after-WWI-pie but was outsmarted by them.  The U.S. as the last-man-standing in regard to military and economic power after WWII enforced its prejudice against empires.  The breakup of the British, Dutch and French empires after WWII was to some extent due to this U.S. prejudice.  So I end up shaking my head at Ferguson’s arguments and setting his books aside (although I did complete a few). 

Someone in regard to India pointed out that Britain made an inconsistent empire in that it promoted the idea of “freedom.”  Sooner or later a colony, as in the case of the 13 & India is going to see that inconsistency and revolt in order to become like Britain, free.  Colonies, at the very least, seem to be one of the things an Empire needs to have in order to be called an Empire – at least so it seems to me.

Does the U.S. have troops in Japan and Germany in order to exercise Imperial demands?    That would be a bit hard to demonstrate because following in Britain’s footsteps it advocates freedom and could not get away with exercising a force that would counter that.  China and others in Asia feared a resurgence of Japanese militarism; so the U.S. is saying, “look, we shall keep troops there.  We shall make sure that doesn’t happen.”   The same situation exists in Europe.  Some still fear a German militaristic resurgence; so the U.S. is there to assure other European nations that it will not permit that to happen.  

If someone wants to argue that the U.S. is currently performing the role of “World’s policeman” I would not argue with that.  Pat Buchanan and others have argued that we can’t afford to keep doing that, and here we may be entering S. P. Huntington’s realm.  It should be the “core nation” from each “civilization” that does that and not just one nation for the whole world.

In short there are some interesting things being written about world power and the future.  Earlier Marxist-based ideas have for the most part been set aside in view of ideas more closely reflecting the modern world. Who today would argue that there is a historical-necessity at work that will force the world’s nations to become Communistic?  And if someone did, who would pay attention to him?

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