Imperial Grunts

This is the story of a small worldview that becomes a much bigger one.

Untitled, n.d. watercolor and pencil on paper © Henry Darger Untitled, n.d. watercolor and pencil on paper © Henry Darger
I want to tell the story of the hidden American Empire.

The characters will be a few ordinary American kids trying to understand today’s turbulent geopolitical climate —the mysterious conflict. The resolution is the discovery of a hidden empire, the American Empire.

The kids rely on art and popular culture instead of history to better understand the American Empire.

While history is subjective—as much a product of the time and place it was written as of the evidence from the past that it interprets— and reflects the historians’ loyalties to those in power, some say that art is truth. Art reflects life.

The kids research artists and popular culture. They start with the work of Henry Darger which captures on several levels the American Empire. Orphaned shortly after his birth in 1892, the famous Chicagoan spent his childhood at a home for boys, and worked for most of his life as a custodian at a Catholic hospital.

Discovered after his death by his landlord, Darger’s work included two epic, illustrated works of fiction of which one 15,000 page novel stands out as his lasting legacy: The Story of the Vivian Girls in what is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinnean War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion.

Uncovering Darger’s art is uncovering the roots of American imperialism. He served in the U.S. military in World War I. Darger was a victim of child abuse and an adult gay man in an era when being a gay man was nearly impossible. He lived a hard life in the American Empire.

The kids in our story uncover that the real story of the present-day U.S. military-intelligence industry or “War Lobby” is the exploitation of Americans as imperial grunts, from birth.

Poor kids are groomed to be soldiers.

Many childhoods come with unchangeable factors that hinder or strip future success. These inhibitors are systems of oppression.

In the U.S., kids who are not from wealthy families are exploited by imperialism. The education gap between wealthy and impoverished children is significant.

But this oppression ends if a change in policy raises the fighting power of the oppressed families.

In America, the current policies are awful. And the capital of the American Empire, DC, is teeming with the worst, most dangerous and most incompetent imperialist propagandists. This is not fiction; however, most ordinarily Americans are simply unaware of that imperialist oppression.

The true history of the American Empire and particularly the War Lobby is one of power squandered-lives lost, trillions of dollars wasted, and a path to democracy abandoned.

Armed with their new found knowledge, a better sense of American history and new awareness of the U.S.’s age old conflict with imperialism, the kids in our story share smart tools to identify imperialist pundits and imperialist policies.

Since imperialism has been hidden for so long in America, the kids convince others that the subversive, psychological and covert actions ought to be exposed. This is the 21st century, after all.

As was the case with the Roman Empire in the 5th century, the American Empire today is comprised of cults of power and depravity, state propaganda and theatrical entertainment, the sinister exploit of religion through politics and law, racist segregation and forms of slavery, and fierce economic expansion at the cost of its citizens, to name a few.

Long-distance exchanges of goods and people has always taken place within empires — the Roman Empire, the British Empire, and now the American Empire — or else is dependent on threat or force, especially in places that don’t subscribe to the imperialist framework, rule of law.

That legal framework, the so-called “rule of law,” is a system of oppression of the American Empire. And all empire-builders have to justify what they do—to themselves, to their own people, and to those they dominate, so the Romans developed a sophisticated world-view which they projected successfully through literature, inscriptions, architecture, art, and elaborate public ceremonial.

Our kids tell us to forget the Nazis and the Bolsheviks, we need to go back to the political propoganda in classical antiquity, exploring the contexts, strategies, and parameters of a fascinating phenomenon that has often been almost completely ignored. Roman propaganda became a state policy with theorists and practitioners who managed to function throughout the world ruled by the Romans, turning it Roman through persuasion.

Our kids plead with us to study history. Rome was the first laboratory of effective propaganda which obtained tangible results: Romanization. 

This is the story of a small worldview that becomes a much bigger one. In searching for the truth, out plucky kids discover their seemingly idyllic county hides many dark secrets that pose a danger to them and to the world: the War Lobby.

This is the story of ordinary Americans who had unknowingly been serving as imperial grunts, but got the knowledge they needed to break free from the imperialist oppression, far more than just the U.S. government’s reliance on military.

This is the story of some intelligent and sensitive American kids, who, instead of raising a cynical and jaded collective voice about the hypocrisy and ugliness of the world around them, find a more powerful voice of civil disobedience to take on that imperialist oppression.

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