The American Empire
It has recently come to my attention that the United States came of age as an empire in 1945. And we can trace the tendencies of empire (all countries have them) back to the founding fathers, the Civil War, and with westward expansion, wars with Mexico and Spain, and the annexation of the Kingdom of Hawaii at the end of the 19th century.
Empires drive history. Today, there are no empires, officially. But secretly there are several. Empires, more than nation-states, are the principal actors in the history of world events. All kinds of pat theories exist to explain the diminished durability of empires in our time. Ignore them. They are written for the empires by courtesans.
Arriving at this knowledge was no catered affair. Manifest destiny takes on a whole new meaning.
Because I’ve been unceremoniously writing for some time that we simply cannot dismiss the distinct roles that Jews have played in empire and in the installation of a suzerain or politburo in the Roman, Habsburg, Russian, French, and British Empires. Because it was not a criticism, it was an intellectual observation. And, as it turns out, an important one.
Since empire is an aspect of American history that nobody speaks about freely, it has persisted for decades in secrecy. Because the American Empire has been hidden from the American public by the people running the American Empire. However, finally, the proposition that the U.S. is an empire is less secret in the public square today.
We Americans have every right to perceive our country to be a nation, not an empire. After all, it was born in an anti-imperialist revolt and has fought empires ever since, from Hitler’s Thousand-Year Reich and the Japanese empire to the “evil empire” of the Soviet Union. Even President John F. Kennedy himself declared explicitly that the U.S. did not aim to be an empire. Then, he was assassinated.
Except for a minority of policy makers, Americans have tended to reject the idea that our republic, (we don’t even get that part right) might be imperial. Like Kennedy before him, U.S. President Trump has challenged the imperialists in the Beltway. In that painful process so much dishonesty, tremendous secrecy and big lies about America’s true foreign nature has been revealed.
We can now safely say that the majority of everyday Americans have had a totally different understanding of our country from that of a minority of imperialist policy makers hobnobbing in Washington, DC. With that, Americans today face choices about empire with consequences far beyond just military concerns, but that is a good place to start.
Empires are in the business of producing world order. Yes, like the “New World Order.”
For the first time in the postwar history of the U.S., our policymakers are facing consistent push back from the U.S. voter who has educated himself about the imperial nature of the “forever wars” and “foreign intervention.” In the 1960s, the public did not have that context, but the feeling was the same.
This disparity in knowledge had been perpetuated by the British-natured Ivory Tower study of “international relations.” And it has produced an uninformed majority of American citizens who naively listen to a minority of informed policy makers that march around the world like they own the joint. We saw this in Ukraine, for sure.
Here’s the rub. There is no single recipe for making an empire, but the main ingredient is always control in the center. Indeed, the last place you are going to get the truth is at the center of an empire, so that means forget about the important colleges and universities and anybody with a snobby pedigree. Of course, there are exceptions, but, in general, their imperialist loyalty is bought and paid for.
Truth is found on the periphery of empire, truth is found on the fringes.
We Americans acquired empire in a deep intellectual comatose state. And the September 11th attacks awakened us in a jolt in the wrong way. Without knowledge of the American Empire, we responded emotionally to the planned terror events, not mindfully to the imperialistic policies in response to them.
Thankfully, since 9/11 much has changed. In the last 20 years we have come to contend with the nature of empire that exists in our “deep state.” More recently, U.S. President Trump has fostered that education. Those who had been ignorant of how things have really worked in DC, like myself, are no longer so ignorant.
America is not a nation, nor even a republic, but she is an empire. She has been one at least since 1945. It is the public’s inability to acknowledge or even to recognize this fact that has been the status quo for far too long. The United States is not a democracy.
This is the whole horror of the situation. People in power and the public speak in two completely different languages (even though the words seem to be the same). This political double speak or public diplomacy of those in power is taught at schools like Harvard and Stanford. It is a learned language of imperialism.
Most Americans have understood none of these things. Before U.S. President Trump resided in the White House, the American Empire was hidden from them, and they did not know the things which were spoken in DC were in reference to such imperialist aims. The double speak was the language of empire.
This is why translators are so important, but also at the same time why they are so disadvantaged. Public diplomacy (imperialism) cannot and should not be understood by the everyday American. It’s a fool’s game. Therefore, a special literary form of communication or narrative is required.
Gore Vidal was a writer of such communication. He wrote about the nature of things and of human behavior. Rather than trying to translate the untranslatable, his timeless explanations (from an insider in-the-know) transcend language, and of course, transcend public diplomacy and translation itself.
Gore Vidal is a National Treasure
Eugene Louis Vidal was born on October 3, 1925 in West Point, New York. He inherited his mother’s maiden name of “Gore” when he was baptized into the Episcopal faith at 13 years old. By the age 14 he dropped his first two names. After graduating from Exeter in 1943, Vidal joined the U.S. Army which influenced his first novel, Williwaw, published at age 19.
Some say his biggest literary achievement is the seven-novel series called “Narratives of Empire,” which traces both the promise and the failure of the American experiment from the Louisiana Purchase to the Cold War.
As a gay man in a time when it was tremendously difficult to be a gay man, Vidal was unashamedly out of the closet, and the author of a best-selling gay World War II novel. In those days such books were ruled obscene and evidence of homosexual acts could land one in prison.
Thus, while Gore Vidal was an insider elite, like Barbara Tuchman, and James Baldwin, he was an outsider, too. Two gay men (not to mention one of them black) and a Jewish woman will always be treated as “the other” in the corporate power structure of white, heterosexual “Christian” men.
But Vidal possessed something else that people were simultaneously repulsed by and drawn to, his charisma, wit and well, chutzpah. The dreadful atheist writer Christopher Hitchens worshipped these qualities of Vidal’s for a long time until he could no longer hide he was a fraud. For the Neoconservative/Zionist Hitchens himself sought to emulate Vidal’s sophisticated mannerisms in speech and public speaking prowess, not his intellectual integrity and heartfelt honesty.
The foreshadowing of Christopher Hitchens — the worldview of the Neoconservative is akin to that of the wisdom and sensibility of a Sanhedrin Court. People forget that the Christian Bible is great literature.
Vidal was fluent in the language of literature, where matters from both the mind and the heart are conveyed in an enlightened manner. His is fine literature, in fact. The range and size of Vidal's literary achievement is remarkable. He was a master of the historical novel, in which he has explored American history, ancient history, and the history of religion.
Gore Vidal developed his own style of science fiction combined with satire, and in the books he refers to as his "inventions" he writes cautionary tales about sex, politics, art, and philosophy. He is separately a strident contrarian, a wise old man, a hopeless romantic, and a sassy gay best friend.
All of these people are evident in his essays, which deal with things about which he feels from the heart. To quote another great author, “the heart is a lonely hunter.”
Gore Vidal is a national treasure —an individual soul emblematic of our nation's cultural heritage and identity.
The Empire Lovers
The author Gore Vidal was fond of referring to the U.S as “Imperial America,” and not in a good way. I registered this all those years ago but I myself never really heard him. I was ignorant to the thinking and also the language of those elite quarters of the hidden empire.
Since the hidden empire appears to be not so hidden any more because it is falling, many of us are learning of its existence for the first time only now. In fact, Gore Vidal foresaw the death of the American empire in a seminal essay.
The downfall of the American Empire is found in its failed military “interventions,” year in and year out for decades, ridden with politicians promoting mystical religious fundamentalism, military chauvinism and voodoo economics. The Empire is collapsing not because of competition with China or Russia but because in the course of its fanatical foreign pursuits it has destroyed its practical domestic foundations.
For far too long many Americans have imagined a country very different than the one experienced by those on the receiving end of its military-intelligence attention elsewhere in the world. Now, we are getting a taste of that. The Empire turned on President Trump because they could not control him.
The imperialists went around the world with the CIA “spreading democracy” (oppression) and returned to the U.S. to do the same because the American president did not want to continue that imperialist foreign policy.
Gore Vidal marked the end of democracy in the U.S. as 1947, when the CIA was established officially by U.S. Congress. Today, that so-called “intelligence community” or better referred to as the “deep state” that worked overseas for decades to overturn regimes is now trying to overturn the Trump Administration at home. That is the bitter metal taste in our mouths.
It turns out that the CIA are not in the business of spying. They are covert influencers of American culture. For example, the CIA has been actively engaged in shaping the content of film and television, especially since it established an entertainment industry liaison program in the mid-1990s.
The CIA wields significant influence in Hollywood. As such, the CIA has influenced public opinion both domestically in America as well as abroad. But that’s just soft stuff on the surface. The relationship between Hollywood and Washington DC goes much deeper.
The U.S. Dept of Defense, CIA and FBI have for decades used various means to manipulate content and even deny production of certain Hollywood projects, often using “national security” as a pretext to censor film and television.
The CIA ushered in an age of conspiracy. In fact, the CIA created "conspiracy theory,” which is now widely acknowledged as a loaded term politicians use to mock and dismiss allegations against them. “Conspiracy" and "conspiracy theory" as they are used in the media have nothing to do with truth or credibility, but with conformism to dominant ideas dictated by a capitalist system. One that is driven by profit motive. We live in a capitalist society, not a socialist one.
Gore Vidal called himself, a conspiracy analyst, not a conspiracy theorist: "We should stop going around babbling about how we're the greatest democracy on earth, when we're not even a democracy. We are a sort of militarized republic."
While military-intelligence is an important aspect, what is stuck in my craw is the aspect of religion in empire. Gore Vidal has something to say about that: “Religions are manipulated in order to serve those who govern society and not the other way around.”
Vidal spent 35 years chronicling America's decline from democratic Republic to war-driven empire. Gore spent his entire adult lifetime trying to get America to cast off its ignorance to the political nature of both human sexuality and religion. Both —religion and sexuality— used to be private maters. Politics is about underhandedly making private matters public. Americans were and still are ignorant to this, especially when it comes to religion and sexuality.
Vidal's novels of American history, which begin in Revolutionary War times (with Burr, published in 1973) and end just after World War II (with Washington, D.C., published in 1967) were written over 35 years and he didn't even know he had stumbled onto a "chronicle of empire" until he had written the third book (1876, published in 1976).
Here is the part that you have all been waiting for. To cut to the chase, the Empire accused Gore Vidal of "antisemitism" and proceeded to smear him. But you saw that coming. As was the experience of John the Baptist, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Edward Said, and more recently Rosanne Barr, Natalie Portman and Seth Rogen, Gore Vidal was dismissed for saying too much. Here goes.
Gore was without certainly an anti-Zionist, and was certainly not anti-Jewish. Being opposed to Zionism (which is both racist and militaristic) has always gotten one grief and worse. Regardless, Gore Vidal instinctively understood the fact, and stood firm to it, that Christianity, Judaism and Islam are religions, not political ideologies. Zionism blurred the distinction between a religion and a political ideology, and the political campaign disguised as a religion emerged.
Gore Vidal lived in Italy with his partner of 53 years, Howard Austen, until Austen’s death in 2003. Austen was Jewish. Some of Vidal’s best editors were Jewish and some of his harshest Jewish-Israel criticism was written in response to the homophobic writings of right-wing Jewish journalists. Gore Vidal understood perfectly well that Zionism (also known as Neoconservatism) relied on politicizing sexuality and religion.
Neoconservative ideas emerged in the U.S. at the end of the WWII with Commentary, the magazine of the American Jewish Committee. The “third party” was a product of the CIA. Earlier, in 1943, the American Jewish Committee gave intellectuals affiliated with the Frankfurt School a $10,000 grant to produce a report on the causes of antisemitism. This eventually grew into the landmark five-volume report “Studies in Prejudice,” published in 1950. The term “antisemitism” was coined in Germany only in the 19th century to describe hatred for Jews who spoke a Semitic language—family of languages that includes Hebrew, Arabic, and Aramaic. Antisemitism then became an intellectual racket in the 20th century with the Frankfurt School.
The Frankfurt School, known more appropriately as Critical Theory, introduced the term “racket society,” when Max Horkheimer and his colleagues with the School were in exile in the United States. In the America to which Horkheimer and his colleagues had fled in 1934, the words “rackets” and “racketeering” had been coined to indicate the increasing prominence of “organized” or “syndicated” crime.
The Frankfurt School’s Max Horkheimer understood “racket” not so much in sociological but predominantly in philosophical and psychological terms. This is how the modern application of “antisemitism” was born.
We’ll come back to the intellectual grifters, Horkheimer, Theodor W. Adorno, and others with the Frankfurt School again and the double lives of those propaganda agents another time. The point here is that Gore Vidal penned a number of works of crime fiction under fake names, he understood the criminal world. Of course, he also understood how words could be manipulated to carry out campaigns of a criminal nature.
In 1986 Vidal published an essay in The Nation called “The Empire Lovers Strike Back,” about the relationship of American Jewish Neoconservatives to the state of Israel. He went after Commentary magazine editor, Norman Podhoretz, and spouse, Midge Decter, the mother-in-law of Elliot Abrams of Iran Contra infamy. Podhoretz and Decter had once been liberals, but Zionism led them to pitch their tents and port-a-potties in the Republican Party.
“Since spades may not be called spades in freedom’s land, let me spell it all out. In order to get military and economic support for Israel, a small number of American Jews—who should know better—have made common cause with every sort of reactionary and antisemitic group in the U.S., from the corridors of the Pentagon to the TV studios of the evangelical Jesus-Christers. To show that their hearts are in the far-right place, they call themselves Neoconservatives, and attack . . . me, all in the interest of supporting [Israel].”
To silence any national conversation before it started, “America’s greatest essayist” was branded as a virulent antisemite by the Empire. In reality, Vidal had spent much more time harping on the U.S. military-intelligence industrial complex, than he did railing against Israel and the Zionist lobby.
Recall, Gore Vidal’s book series about the American Empire was written over 35 years and he didn't even know he had stumbled onto a “chronicle of empire" in the American context until he had finished the third book.
The forth book in Gore Vidal’s series, called “Empire,” was published in 1987, at the height of the Ronald Reagan presidency and the Hollywood engagement of the American Empire.
The prior year Vidal had famously attacked the Empire lovers.
America came of age as an empire in 1945, having gotten our start in the 19th century with westward expansion, wars with Mexico and Spain, and the annexation of the Kingdom of Hawaii. When you realize that America emerged as an empire after World War II, it becomes unmistakable that the Neoconservative movement was the imperialist movement.
In the American Empire, the “court Jews” started off as Democrats by the 1960s but turned into Reagan Republicans by the 1980s, hard-lining the Soviet Union and arms control and shilling for Israel. They then ruled the George W. Bush administration. Today, we call them “Neoconservatives.”
The court Jew was a Jewish service nomad in the empire who handled the finances and arrangements of European, mainly German, royalty and nobility. In return for their services, court Jews gained social privileges, including in some cases being granted noble status. That was then, today they may serve the function and not even be Jewish. And while Neocons used to suffice, I think “War Lobby” is a much better moniker.
In reference to “the war in Iraq” famous journalist Seymour Hersh asked, "How could eight or nine Neoconservatives come and take charge of this government?" Neoconservatives overran the bureaucracy, they overran U.S. Congress, they overran the media and they overran the military. Because America is an empire and the Neocons are court Jews.
We can trace every war (and every war path) before it and every war since it to that cabal of Neocon war mongers. For every U.S. presidential administration since then, they’ve served as advisors. Notably, Richard Perle, a Neoconservative aide to Democratic senator Henry Jackson, master-minded passage of the Jackson-Vanik amendment of cooperation with the Soviet Union and the emigration of Soviet Jews.
American imperialism does not have to be bad. The first step is a mutual understanding.
Once you internalize that America is not a nation state, not even a republic, but is an empire, your whole consciousness will expand appropriately beyond your memory.
The connections Gore Vidal made in 1986 still need to be made in 2020. Over thirty years later those empire lovers are attempting to kill American democracy. Vidal, was, in fact, correct about our political culture being run by a wealthy, capitalistic, imperialistic, moralistic, white heterosexual corporate oligarchy.
Not dissimilar from the great historian Barbara Tuchman, despite being part of the world’s top elite and the crème de la crème of society, he was able on his own accord to write about history in literary terms, dismissing political influence. Tuchman and Vidal did not sell out. Gore Vidal went a step further than Tuchman, several, in fact, by calling out the sellouts, the imperialists —like the Reagans and the Bushes— until his death in 2012.
Gore Vidal had insider knowledge and the chutzpah of an outsider. The exact qualities essential for the best historian. And Vidal was a writer, a writer of fine literature. Gore Vida was a writer in a way that Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, and other intellectuals who get more public attention, are and were never writers.
America, if we do not properly take to heart Gore Vidal’s true wisdom, we miss a tremendous opportunity to grasp true American history and the true American identity.
America is an empire, not a nation. Gore Vidal told us so.
Although the U.S. supported the Balfour Declaration of 1917, which favored the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine, President Franklin D. Roosevelt had assured the Arabs in 1945 that the U.S. would not intervene without consulting both the Jews and the Arabs in that region. The British, who held a colonial mandate for Palestine until May 1948, opposed both the creation of a Jewish state and an Arab state in Palestine as well as unlimited immigration of Jewish refugees to the region.
The United States became an empire in 1945. FDR died that year.
From the beginning of Vidal’s literary career, Eleanor Roosevelt read and enjoyed Vidal’s books and theatrical works. Indeed, after having read Vidal’s first novel in 1946, she wrote in her “My Day” column that she believed Vidal had a promising career ahead of him. How right she was.
Gore Vidal moved to Dutchess County, New York in the 1950s, and Eleanor Roosevelt became his friend and political adviser. When Vidal unsuccessfully ran for Congress as a Democrat in the heavily Republican 29th district in the Hudson Valley, he looked to Mrs. Roosevelt for encouragement and political insight.
Gore Vidal was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and was educated in expensive private schools in and around Washington, DC, but he never went to university, eschewing Harvard to pursue a writing career. Instead, enlisting as a teenager toward the close of World War II, he drew on his military service to write his first novel.
Gore Vidal grew up around politics. Vidal and Jackie Kennedy shared a stepfather. He grew up with politicians. Vidal’s father was a high ranking official in the Franklin Delano Roosevelt administration, the director of what is known today as the Federal Aviation Administration.
Gore Vidal was also born gay, a political outsider at birth. When he was old enough to do so, he rejected the purely political ideas of "homosexual" and "heterosexual.” He had spent enough time in the hidden empire of American political culture to come to understand what it was, and more importantly what it was not.
Vidal spent most of every year, starting in the early 1960s, in Rome, and later between Rome and a grand villa, La Rondinaia (the swallow’s nest), in the Amalfi Coast village of Ravello. Vidal rejected the notion that he lived as an expatriate.
Gore preferred to think of his position in Southern Italy as a perch from which to observe America, and the insidious effects of domination by a ruling class of power elites hell bent on imperial expansion. According to Vidal, the United States is a Pax Americana – the empire which rules where it has no right to govern.
Arriving at this knowledge was no catered affair. Manifest destiny takes on a whole new meaning. Like most Americans, I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth and was not educated in expensive schools, and have enjoyed fiction in my free time.
Fiction rarely influences politics anymore, it seems. Yet novels have affected America in large and unsubtle ways: Uncle Tom’s Cabin and the works of Ayn Rand and Gore Vidal. But it is an honored tradition in American writing, one that renders fiction useful by making it practical, identifying political problems and offering solutions.
Such creativity expresses a breadth of imagination entirely absent from today’s politics, and fosters faith in the future.
A Mutual Understanding
From Garet Garrett's pamphlet “The Rise of Empire,” published in 1952: “We have crossed the boundary that lies between Republic and Empire. If you ask when, the answer is that you cannot make a single stroke between day and night; the precise moment does not matter.”
Today, the U.S. is an empire, one of the most powerful empires in all history, but refuses to acknowledge the obvious. Foreigners long ago figured this out, while a majority of America’s domestic population has not. This is a fundamental problem. The public lacks an education.
Unless you are enrolled in a graduate course at a top school, you are not going to get the education necessary to understand that, yes, America is an Empire, and that holds huge consequences for Americans. You may read articles about the “American Empire” but never register that.
If we have the right education, we view an arc of history and of empire bending from Britain to America. Whereas, the empire in America today is still quite hidden, the literature is not, nor the commentary of imperialists in Washington DC, the Robert Kagan crowd and the Samuel Huntington readers —the Neoconservatives.
Monarchs relied upon a Machiavellian approach to perpetuate their oppressive systems of government by subverting an elite, assimilationist group of Jewish subjects who sought power they would be in normal circumstances unable to gain.
These “court Jews” were given politically unimportant, yet highly visible positions within the regime as scapegoats. As a highly visible symbol of the regime, they served as the lighting rod to bear the brunt of the blame and deflect criticism from where it belonged rightfully.
Thus, hating the Neoconservatives is an exercise in futility. They are meant to be hated. That is what they are there for. Not to mention it can appear as antisemitism. That is what they desire. It’s a fool’s game. One that we need to acknowledge as such.
But when you understand that America is an empire (not a nation) and empires require the function of such court Jews, you can take the high road, and call out the empire, not the Neocon courtesans. That’s the golden ticket.
Ignore all of the media punditry about a new world order and a global reset. What’s happening is that Trump has made the U.S. honest about its decades of dishonest imperialism —the uncontrollable drive and the terrible consequences.
American imperialism does not have to be bad.
It is absolutely spectacular that U.S. President Donald Trump has brought the clandestine imperialists out of the closet for all to see. We shall remain forever grateful to Trump for this. In particular, now we know that Neoconservatives are simply court Jews in the classical style of empires.
As never before in our lifetimes we now have a sense of the tremendous desperation and consequently tremendous lying, bullying and deceit among the Neocon elite in DC. It is especially worth noting because these are pundits who for decades billed themselves as “serious people.”
Since Trump won the Republican nomination in 2016, every American has now witnessed those demanding foreign-wars, immigration, and Wall Street economic voodooism. These are the elite, “the swamp,” the “deep state” lobbyists and sycophants. In the mutual understanding, they exist.
During the Trump era, the U.S. government was hemorrhaging truth.
The mutual understanding going forward will be that the imperialist Neocons in DC along with the so-called “intelligence community” covertly influenced all of the religions and our popular culture in America. That covert action will be enough for us to contend with for awhile.
The American Empire is theatre. Like how movies of the 20th century were able to take over minds for a few hours: a new experience for audiences previous generations had never known. In the 21st century, empires are the equivalent of movie studios and the production never stops.
That the American Empire has been hidden in more recent decades by academia, in the Information Age no less, gives a really tacky veneer to the notion of manifest destiny. U.S. empire-building has no past precedent. Read Daniel Immerwahr‘s “How the U.S. has hidden its empire.” And imperialism is not simply territory expansion:
“Empire isn’t just landgrabs, though. What do you call the subordination of African Americans? Starting in the interwar period, the celebrated U.S. intellectual WEB Du Bois argued that black people in the U.S. looked more like colonised subjects than like citizens.”
American imperialism does not have to be bad. That is also the mutual understanding going forward from this imperialist day forth, from this very hour, and from this very exact minute —that we consciously choose the high road, the elevation to the moral high ground.
America is not a democracy. America is not a nation state. America is not even a republic. America is an empire.
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