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Empires Start by Moving Outward"and Finish by Moving Inward

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Republished from Ghion Journal

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The story of how America became a global superpower is one in which a group of ambitious and egotistical men rationalized the implementation of a governing model that would lead to massive death and suffering. The main forerunner of this drive to superpower status was Theodore Roosevelt, a late-19th/early 20th-century narcissistic politician from an upper-class household who was determined to turn his childhood obsession with war into a foreign policy model which would make the United States into even more of a conquering nation than it already had been (with its near extermination of the native population of the North American continent) up to that point in its history.

He and the other political elites who supported the 1898 Spanish-American Warand the subsequent rush to empire through the seizing of Caribbean islands and the brutal takeover of the Philippines, which killed roughly 200,000 people (about 2.5% of the population at that time)received support from business elites as well, such as William Randolph Hearst, who used his vast newspaper network to manufacture public opinion for war because war stories helped him sell papers better than the lurid gossip he otherwise used to gain the public's attention

As documented in historian Stephen Kinzer's bookThe True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, and the Birth of American Empire, these political and business figures developed an ideology of social and historical myopia in order to sell their imperial ambitions to the public. They ridiculed the idea that the American imperialist project was based on greed. They dismissed warnings from the opponents of intervention, like Twain, that the U.S. empire would follow in the same path as Rome and all of history's other empires. They promoted news stories designed to incite war hysteria, along with racist theories about the need to complete manifest destiny, while embracing the business interests that would benefit from the ensuing wars and land grabs.

Since then, the U.S. and the world's other core imperialist nations have continued to function within the same paradigm of violently exploiting weaker countries. This situation has continued for over a century, and has been allowed to develop into the formation of the largest empire in history.

Overall, the "first world" has never truly addressed that its economic and political model is inextricably related to genocide.

By varying definitions, genocide is the natural result of capitalism and empire. Within the core imperialist nations, there's the genocidal violence that poor people, LGBT people, and marginalized races endure, wherein these groups are subjected to police repression, mass incarceration, and the deprivation of essential resources. These types of violence, which are inherent to capitalism, find even larger-scale parallels abroad when capitalism is engaged in imperial projects.

In his book Capitalism: A Structural Genocide, Garry Leeche examines the effects of the North American Free Trade Agreement on the people of Mexico (wherein the country's economy was ruined and much of the population was pushed into poverty), the fact that trade liberalization and genetically-modified seeds have led to increased suicides among Indian agriculturalists, the malnourishment and deaths from preventable diseases that have been caused by the artificial impoverishment of the global south, and the humanitarian consequences of the ever-worsening climatic and environment crises. As Javier Sethness writes in a review of the book, Leech concludes by "recommending the socialist alternative as a concrete means of abolishing genocide."

Such examples of how capitalism and empire create genocide represent just a few of the ways that these systems entail the mass killing and collective traumatization of the people who the power structure sees as disposable. This death machine works in cycles, with the atrocities that Leeche listed being only a few of the steps that the cycles include.

NAFTA and the American corporatocracy's other moves to exploit the third world have resulted in refugee crises wherein the victim populations seek out new lives in the wealthier countries, as has been the case with the movement towards immigration or migration to America from Mexico. This results in racist immigration laws and xenophobic sentiments within the imperialist nation's population, as we're now seeing throughout North America, Europe, New Zealand, and Australia amidst the global influx of refugees. These trends end in capitalist governments meeting the desperate pleas for help from the victims of capitalism with ethnically motivated state violence, a horror that the Trump administration has been escalating through its inhumane and often deadly treatment of children in U.S. migrant detention centers.

The proliferation of neoliberal policies throughout the so-called third world, as well as the imposition of neocolonial systems that keep the colonized nations poor, have been imposed through wars, both military and economic, that the imperialist nations have waged against the victim populations. For instance, the destructive neoliberalism that's afflicted south Korea, as well as the U.S. empire's deadly campaign to economically strangulate north Korea (DPRK), are both historically intertwined with the genocidal war that the U.S. and south Korea waged against the DPRK seventy years ago. A further example, the 2003 invasion of Iraq has caused not just hundreds of millions of deaths in the Middle East and spawned terrorist groups like ISIS, but also created the opportunity for the U.S. to impose neoliberal hyper-capitalism onto the post-Hussein government. Indeed, the effort from the U.S. to depose Venezuela's current Chavista government and install a neoliberal regime in the country is being carried out not through overt warfare, but through economic sanctions which have so far killed around 40,000 Venezuelans.

These methods of violently enforcing global capitalism around the world, whether the method is economic sanctions or direct warfare, are done with the goal of causing bodily and mental harm to the people of the disobedient countries. This is how Israel operates in its campaign to terrorize the Palestinian people into ceding their land to the Zionist project; deliberately killing Palestinian children and civilians, tightly policing Palestinian political speech, demolishing Palestinian homes, and keeping Palestinians within Israel's territory under apartheid are Israel's tools for trying to make the Palestinian people accept being colonized and their land monetized for the benefit of the more powerful nation.

As the collapse of capitalism and the U.S. empire continues, it will become increasingly apparent that Gaza may be functioning as an experimenting ground for the more extreme measures that the global oligarchs will likely use to maintain their control over the system.

Following in the pattern of past empires, the tyranny that the U.S. has imposed abroad is also now manifesting closer to or within the heart of the empire itself. The torture that the U.S. used against prisoners in the Vietnam War, for instance, has been used in America's secret prisons throughout the War on Terror. The covert government propaganda that the U.S. has long flooded the world with has in recent years come to be used on the American people in the same proportions. Excess army equipment from America's recent wars have been imported to the U.S. so that the country's police departments can use it to inflict violence against poor people. The decline of American power and the continuation of the climate crisis will take these trends to greater extremes, making capitalism's cycle of violence conclude in a potentially unprecedented catastrophe.

The most brutal policies that the U.S. empire has imposed abroad like the wholesale suppression of dissent and support for extermination policies against disfavored ethnic groupswill move closer towards realization within America. Climate change will continue to exacerbate the global refugee crisis, leading to rising ethnic nationalism and additional concentration camps. Climate change-created destabilization and the destructive effects of neoliberalism will drive more and more people into poverty, prompting the government to impose militarized police control to mitigate the resulting unrest. Corporations will facilitate these moves towards border militarization, increased migrant detention, and expanded private security systems in order to profit from the crisis.

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Rainer Shea is writing articles that counter the propaganda of the capitalist/imperialist power establishment, and that help move us towards a socialist revolution.

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7 people are discussing this page, with 9 comments


Stan Crawford

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The truth hurts and it has been embarrassing the past forty years to witness misguided US domestic/foreign policies that laid the foundation for the PRC/CCP to now threaten US economic/military interests and Taiwan. Watching the west bloviate the superiority of "Capitalism," as the US put multitudes into poverty while China's version of "Capital Socialism" has pulled untold multi-millions out of poverty. It's a no-brainier why countries are eagerly signing onto China's BRI know their economic prosperity has greater success with the Middle Kingdom than with Uncle Sam.


I chose not to have kids after Reagan was elected in 80, having an inkling of what was to befall the country, its future and what I imagined pales in comparison to what has happened. Both Democrats/Republican's are to blame and neither have the ideas/people to "MAGA."


I lived in China from 2003-2015, teaching at medical schools related to hospitals my great great grandfather built between 1866-1901 (.chinamissions.com/), and though I'm thankful none of my former students will be my primary care doctor, both China and India have much larger brain pools to pull from and the youths desire to improve the quality of their lives, where many western youth strive to become social media stars and other brain-dead celebrities; who make a lot of money doing little effort.


Your article sums up the state of US affairs and the reckless path all fading empires have taken as they collapse.

Submitted on Thursday, Aug 22, 2019 at 2:12:18 PM

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shad williams

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There is a striking similarity to the military apparel of police to soldiers that has occurred. Hong Kong, the French cities with Yellow Vests political action, US cities...okay maybe just three instances. I think this is a well coordinated gear up among at least the western "democracies" with instructions from one or more of the power elites advisory groups.

Submitted on Thursday, Aug 22, 2019 at 6:48:30 PM

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crispy41

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Great post but I am curious why you say "I'm thankful none of my former students will be my primary care doctor". Are you saying doctors in China are poorly trained. How long is the curriculum?
Has TCM disappeared from it?

Submitted on Friday, Aug 23, 2019 at 8:35:48 PM

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Dana Clark

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It is good to have this knowledge about the World around us and something needs to be done about it all, but what? I have an extra sharpened stick, would you like to borrow it?

Submitted on Thursday, Aug 22, 2019 at 10:29:51 PM

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David William Pear

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Things are going just as Lenin predicted 100 years ago: capitalism=monopoly=imperialism=war. Now all we need is the revolution. People eventually get tired of having their face shoved in the mud.

Submitted on Friday, Aug 23, 2019 at 1:46:15 AM

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Rainer Shea

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The fact that you've referenced Lenin shows you have it figured out as to which ideologies and historical leaders we should look towards to correctly carry through this anti-capitalist movement.

Submitted on Friday, Aug 23, 2019 at 2:22:08 AM

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crispy41

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As much as I agree that unregulated capitalism and imperialism are forces we should fight, the author assumes socialist and communist systems do not have their own drawbacks as they age.

Mr Shea says "Capitalism has always been a system that treats large numbers of the population like expendable resources" and that is true.

Can't we say the same thing for Socialism in Venezuela?
I know is it hardly a model of socialism since it slid gradually into dictatorship but that is what conservatives/republicans point to.

My point is better regulated capitalism, weakening or eliminating the influence of the military-industrial complex, thereby achieving the goals written in our constitution (happiness and welfare) via a social-democracy (lead by a democratic socialist) are the goals we should embrace.

Short of that, we may end up with pitch forks, and a socialist revolution - as advocated by The America Socialist Party.

Submitted on Friday, Aug 23, 2019 at 8:29:13 PM

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Brenda Schouten-Beckett

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"Regulated capitalism"? Who's gonna regulate them? How do you think working people will ever wrest power from the bloated and predatory military? Also your informatiin about Venezuela apparently comes from corporate news agencies.

Submitted on Saturday, Aug 24, 2019 at 6:21:13 AM

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Rainer Shea

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The editor needs to fix the "millions" typo in "The 2003 invasion of Iraq has caused not just hundreds of thousands of deaths in the Middle East and spawned terrorist groups like ISIS, but created the opportunity for the U.S. to impose neoliberal hyper-capitalism onto the post-Hussein government."

Submitted on Tuesday, Sep 10, 2019 at 2:00:27 AM

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