The Last Republic
“If Mr. Lincoln’s assertion was correct and the U.S. is incapable of seeing beyond its own self-importance, it is destined to suffer destruction on par with the Romans and Greeks. To survive, it must learn from history or it will indeed pass from it as its last republic.”
Editorial by C.A. Stephens for Paradigm Magazine & Original Artwork by Jason Brueck
Head over to the newly renovated Paradigm Goods to pick up a Limited Edition Poster of ‘The Last Republic’
Introduction by Adria Leeper-Sullivan
Corey Stephens is an art critic and talented writer who is eager to offer his opinions on the economy, creativity, and global relations. He contributes insightful, and entertaining editorials to Paradigm’s website regularly, and his new feature on the true status of the United States is another to get you to question the current reality of things. Through Paradigm Magazine Corey and Jason Brueck’s passions for art, and conscious living are able to merge and create The Last Republic. Jason accompanied Corey’s short essay with a powerful image that protests, and reveals the true agenda of the U.S. Government, and other world powers. Pick up your poster from Paradigm’s online store.un
Since the last century, the United States has cemented its place as a world power through aggressive financial and political expansion, which has hastened behind the pretext of democracy. As an empire, America stands unrivaled. However, amidst internal divisions, a decade of war, and the rise of international competitors like China, America is at risk of repeating the mistakes of other failed empires.
By means of powerful cultural institutions like Twitter and Facebook, a superior war machine, and the worldwide banking cabal known as the Federal Reserve, the republic has exerted its global influence unabated.
Its reach seems infinite, permeating many global establishments with its distinctly American brand name. Fueled by the propaganda of liberty, the United States has had free reign to jab its proverbial flag anywhere it likes, even the moon, but where did this empire of Coca Cola and Exxon Mobil get its start?
Historian Donald W. Meinig says the American imperial apparatus dates to the Louisiana Purchase. He describes it as an, “imperial acquisition – imperial in the sense of the aggressive encroachment of one people upon the territory of another, resulting in the subjugation of that people to alien rule.” Some contend America acquired empire status after World War II, with its access to vast resources and pro-democracy slogans, which propelled it and its allies to victory. Others believe U.S. imperialism is actually a form of hegemonism borne of the international community’s reliance on the U.S. as a global subsidizer and policing power.
To maintain its empire status, the United States has augmented its interventionist policies ensuring its trans-continental foothold. A foothold it has aggressively held onto often by means of war. For example, the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, have been described as “classically imperialist” by social-theorists Michael Hardt and Antonio Negir, who believe the wars were a result of America’s need to sustain its economic interests while asserting its cultural dominance. These conflicts were waged under the pretense of freedom, but in reality served to further the U.S. economic agenda where political coercion had failed.
James Madison once said, “If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.” Despite its overwhelming display of military and political superiority during these wars, the country has become weaker, suffering a series of internal divisions arising post 9/11 and culminating with the current Presidential election. Yet again the country has split as the liberal and conservative fronts face off in a battle of ideas, and values in a struggle for power.
Despite this inner turmoil, the country continues to project its focus and energy outwardly often by threat of armed engagement. However, the expansion of the U.S. imperial complex operates beyond the mechanisms of war to include popular culture. Ironically, more so than politics, pop culture has allowed for the successful integration of the country’s geo-political ideology.
Edward Said says of U.S. cultural imperialism, “So influential has been the discourse insisting on American specialness, altruism and opportunity, that imperialism in the United States as a word or ideology has turned up only rarely and recently in accounts of the United States culture, politics and history. But the connection between imperial politics and culture in North America, and in particular in the United States, is astonishingly direct.”
Uncle Sam’s empire has its positives, for instance, the spread of democracy. The push for democracy incited the Arab Spring which triggered massive uprisings across the Muslim world that resulted in the execution of Libyan despot Moammar Kadafi. In Egypt, student protests provoked by Twitter led to a dismantling of its government.
Likewise, U.S. financial models are turning around economies like that of traditionally isolationist China, which coincidentally is now one of the United States’ largest competitors and debt holders.
America has led the charge in humanitarian causes, bringing basic services to many. Consider Indonesia post-tsunami. However, one may cite the mishandling of the Gulf Coast in the wake of Katrina as a glaring example of the country’s indifference towards its own citizens.
Still, America’s grasp as an imperial power is slipping. The world’s reliance on a single super-power is diminishing much like the role of the monarchy in Europe. Singular national identities are giving way to global perspectives, and military might is ceding to consensus and diplomacy.
Traditional hierarchies are being challenged and peripheral powers are making their presence felt on the international stage. The deluge of information streaming across every smart-phone is expanding individual awareness, leaving no topic unexplored or re-Tweeted. In essence, the world has become more self-aware, and as this happens America’s sway becomes less prevalent. A weaker empire is prone to collapse and as we are seeing, growing internal divides are forcing the country to reassess its direction and place in the international community, but not without some degree of chaos bringing to mind words like, “revolution” and “civil war.”
Perhaps foreshadowing his own involvement in America’s slip into imperial anarchy, twenty-eight year old Abraham Lincoln said in a speech to the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, IL, “from whence shall we expect the approach of danger? Shall some transatlantic giant step the earth and crush us at a blow? Never! All the armies of Europe and Asia could not, by force, take a drink from the Ohio River or set a track on the Blue Ridge in the trial of a thousand years. If destruction be our lot, we ourselves must be its author and finisher. As a nation of free men, we will live forever, or die by suicide.”
If Mr. Lincoln’s assertion was correct and the U.S. is incapable of seeing beyond its own self-importance, it is destined to suffer destruction on par with the Romans and Greeks. To survive, it must learn from history or it will indeed pass from it as its last republic.