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Wednesday, June 14, 2006


Empire and away

Preparing for the long road trip from Cardiff to Munich, and back again, I will restrict myself to a post built from links. If I paraphrased the content of these links then I could describe them as references and this as some form of scholarly activity, not merely an appropriation of the work of others. Especially Lenin, whose recent excellent form I have neglected to comment on or link to.

Lets concentrate on ‘Empire’, back in the discourse of the commentariat thanks to Ken Loach, Niall ‘I don’t like the blacks, except when they were my servants’ Ferguson, and The Continuing Adventures Of Bush and Blair. The first two are both attempts to use the past to comment on the present.

The Wind That Shakes The Barley, the Palme D’Or winner from Ken Loach, presents us with a view of the Irish War of Independence, draws, apparently, unashamed analogies with the current War in Iraq and the perils of imperialism. I have not seen the film. Neither, as George Monbiot points out, had many of the film’s most vicious critics before they found themselves able to comment on the film. That did not stop their pompous condemnations, likening to, among other things, Mein Kampf.

While Loach does his best to remind us that Empire is a morally bankrupt arrangement of human affairs, Niall Ferguson does his unlevel best to legitimate Empire, to convince the influential middle of the US and UK populations that Empire is not only a positive, laudable feature of British history, but that, in the 21st Century, we should support American imperialism as a necessary replacement. Ferguson’s experience of Empire is a ‘magical’ childhood in Kenya. Magic, of course, is always a trick, often involving the willing ignorance of the audience. The magic of Ferguson’s childhood was built on the backs of black servants, governed by white supremacist tyranny. Ferguson recalls the magic, collaborating in the trick, the sleight of hand that justifies the servitude of the majority for the pleasures of a ruling caste. And he is not in the slightest way a reconstructed imperialist. Though he may some reassuring make noises with regard to the American Empire’s democratic rhetoric, at heart he is a racial supremacist. If he believes his justification for past and future imperialism, that; “Human beings do seem predisposed to trust members of their own race as traditionally defined”, and that it is the ethnicity in itself, rather than as an artefact of imperialism, ideology or economics, that is the driving force behind the tragedies and troubles of the past century, then his new American Empire will not be the spreading of an inclusive American democracy, but a Empire of shadow democracies, of vassal states, bound to the domination of a ruling white caste of Americans.

Men like Niall Ferguson are far, far more dangerous than Osama bin Laden, or whichever other terrorist bogeyman are threatening ‘Civilisation’, ‘The West’, or whatever we are today. Bin Laden can kill many people, that is for sure, when those deaths are measured as the work of one man. But he will never rule the world. He will never be a global power. He is not an Empire. He is merely a fulcrum, on which men like Niall Ferguson, or men like Douglas Murray, will attempt to force a system that will kill millions and destroy democratic hopes.

I will post on my experience of the world cup when I return. In the meantime, I have left a deposit here.

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