The State Of The Empire In The Age Of Trumpism

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Above Photo: Michael Vadon

The Fall of the US Empire – And Then What?, published in 2009, has become the best-selling of the TRANSCEND University Press books. With the presidency of Donald Trump, there is renewed interest in the state of the US Empire.

“I hate the US Empire, but I love the US Republic.” For years I have been hearing this mantra from Johan Galtung my dear friend, mentor and colleague. As events unfold, it takes on new meaning.

Johan Galtung is a Norwegian-born citizen of the world, sociologist and mathematician recognized as the ‘founding father’ of peace studies and conflict transformation as a scientific discipline. He is a frequent Nobel Peace Prize nominee, winner of the 1987 Right Livelihood Award–the alternative Nobel–and of the 2017 People’s Nobel Prize. (Here his Acceptance Speech). He has negotiated with many heads of state, inspired the idea of the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe – the OSCE, and has helped resolve many conflicts from families to nations to regions.

Johan has made many accurate predictions of world events, including the 1989 collapse of the Soviet Empire, the 1978 Iranian revolution, the 1989 Tiananmen Square uprising in China, the economic crises of 1987, 2008 and 2011, and the 9/11 attacks in 2001.

In 2000, Galtung predicted the fall of the US Empire in twenty-five years. During George W. Bush’s presidency, he shortened it by five years, to 2020. Galtung saw Bush as an accelerator, having launched three wars — on terrorism, Afghanistan and Iraq. Following on the 1953 Korean War win and the Viet Nam War lost in 1975. After the Viet Nam War, we were aware that we had a psychological “Viet Nam syndrome.” Some believed we needed a victory to overcome this. The compounding of problematic wars has made us war weary after five major wars with disastrous outcomes, unintended consequences, and unnecessary trauma to many millions of people.

Galtung has made a comparative study of the rise and fall of empires, described in this book. He sees our recent history as consistent with patterns preceding the collapse of empires, noting that the rise and fall of empires has become more rapid in recent times.

The idea of Empire, Galtung points out, is that we get other people to do our killing for us. The fall of the Empire is signaled by the refusal of other parties to kill for us. In past wars, countries were eager to send soldiers to proudly fight with and for us. This willingness has been diminishing.

After Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait, President G H W Bush’s foreign policy team easily assembled an unprecedented international coalition including NATO allies and the Middle Eastern countries and coordinated an air campaign in January 1991, which was followed by “Operation Desert Storm.”

By contrast, President George W. Bush, the son, planning to invade Iraq, had a hard time cobbling together a “Coalition of the Willing,” which some called the “Coalition of the Coerced” as countries had to be cajoled with rewards and threats of punishments to go along.

Millions marched in cities around the world on February 15, 2003 attempting to prevent the predictably cataclysmic war on Iraq. The emerging global citizenry came to be known as the “Other Superpower,” as described by my friend and colleague, the late Jonathan Schell in The Nation Magazine, March 27, 2003. Schell said, What emerges is a portrait of a world in resistance.”

Galtung discerned a formula for predicting the decline and fall of empires, using the concept of contradictions which intensify, synergize and synchronize. He identifies 15 contradictions in the US, described in Chapter 4, accelerated by W. Bush. Likewise, Trump’s behavior in office is further intensifying our contradictions and their synergy.

The US walking out of the Paris Climate Agreement is magnifying several contradictions. It increases the contradiction between the US and the rest of the world, and the US and the UN. Trump’s withdrawal triggered off the “We’re still in movement” of US Mayors, governors, businesses, and citizens who are doubling down on their commitments to the Paris accord. Thus, Trump is also increasing the contradictions between his administration and local governments, businesses, citizenry, responsibility to future generations, nature, and more. By asserting his need for greatness, he is contradicting his legacy as well.

Trump said he is the president of Pittsburg, not Paris. This reveals a cognitive impairment–concrete thinking, poor reality testing, and identifying a name with the thing. The Paris agreement is not about Paris, where the agreement was made, but the entire planet. And Pittsburgh is taking a leading role in the Paris agreement and against Trump’s withdrawal. Trump pitted himself against Paris and Pittsburgh, representing the entire world, not cities–quite a contradiction!

In decertifying the Iran Nuclear Deal–a successful, historic achievement of the multilateral diplomacy–, Trump believes he is asserting US dominance. In addition he is threatening to destroy North Korea and disempowering the Secretary of State while decimating the entire State Department. His imperial actions are, in fact, causing our isolation, destroying our credibility and the possibility that any leaders will ever trust the US as a negotiating partner, while simultaneously provoking nuclear proliferation. Trump is providing a vivid demonstration of the “law of opposites.” He is intensifying the contradictions between and within congress as well.

Now that we are in the age of Trumpism, Galtung wisely states, “Donald Trump proclaims ‘America First;’ he is in fact producing ‘America Last.’ What we need is ‘America Normal.’”

The concept of “America Normal” is a radical idea. We resist the idea of being normal, as it contradicts our DNA and our “deep culture” that Johan writes about. We are preoccupied with an unhealthy, unquestioned need to be special, exceptional, and number one. USA! USA! USA!

The need to be exceptional is experienced by others as obnoxious, arrogant, and offensive. It is also immature, unmindful and disrespectful of other countries’ roles in the world.  It provokes hostility against us and creates an unnecessary tension that fuels animosity and conflicts. Being exceptional is also a heavy burden.

As part of the deep culture, exceptionalism filters down to the individual psychology of many Americans. While the idea of being normal is fiercely resisted, it is much healthier and could be a relief. In fact, accepting oneself as a normal part of humanity is a goal in psychotherapy for many Americans raised to need to be special.

Finally, let us take heed of the subtitle, “US Fascism or US Blossoming?” Let us use this warning about the fall of our empire as an opportunity to consciously and intentionally nurture our blossoming and the rise of the US republic. Now, in Nov 2017, following the recent elections of many women, minorities, progressive men, and a transgender candidate, let’s hope this new crop of emerging leaders can be inclusive and reach deeply to address the concerns of those attracted to Trump and the idea of empire, domination, and being number one, which for some involves compensation for feelings of humiliation and manipulated fears. It involves forging our US identity around deeper and higher values. Let’s evolve so that we may enjoy our optimal place in the world as a normal country among nations with extremely important and essential contributions to make in culture, civility, and creating a sustainable society and a livable planet.

  • AlanMacDonald

    Alan_MacDoanld28 minutes ago to NYT Intercept etc.

    this McCarthyite attack on Jill and the Green Anti-EMPIRE Party by the
    other two Vichy parties backing this disguised global capitalist EMPIRE I
    wrote this analysis and educational diagnosis to help some on the left
    to understand why only an appropriate Revolutionary ‘Strategy’ and
    matching ‘Strategic Narrative’ can over-throw this EMPIRE.

    problem in; sorting-out, recognizing, understanding, and most
    importantly ‘diagnosing’ the seminal and causal-cancer of the EMPIRE in
    America, and the associated political conflicts and PR today is, as a
    recent analysis in Counter Punch addressed (but not resolved) is the
    Empire is well disguised, truly global, and capitalist-fueled — but
    this first in world history; ‘effectively-Disguised’, dual ‘Vichy
    Party’, ‘truly-Global’, and crony ‘Capitalist-fueled’ EMPIRE — that
    gathers all its 7 super-powered ‘friendly’ sectors of War together in a
    nicely balance team of the; corporate, financial, military,
    media/propaganda, extra-legal, CFR ‘Plot-Tanks’, and of course the most
    dangerous sector of this Disguised Global Capitalist Empire, the
    dual-party Vichy-political facade of democracy behind both the
    ‘rougher-talking’ neocon ‘R’ Vichy Party and the ‘smoother-lying’
    neoliberal-con ‘D’ Vichy Party of the exact same effin EMPIRE is beyond
    the scope of the current political narrative in today’s
    narrow-band-width of; Republic vs, Democrat, left vs. right, liberal vs.
    conservative, and other totally uninformed troglodyte conversations.

    I had constantly implored my Green Party and Jill herself while I was
    contributing (as I have since long before Nader’s first run) —-
    “please, please, PLEASE, focus like a laser, on your totally unique in
    party platforms commitment to being “against EMPIRE” — as was included
    in the Jill’16 election site in your “Power to the People Plan” next to
    the last section:

    “Peace and Human Rights”:

    “Establish a foreign policy based on diplomacy, international law, and
    human rights. End the wars and drone attacks, cut military spending by
    at least 50% and close the 700+ foreign military bases that are turning
    our republic into a “bankrupt EMPIRE”. Stop U.S. support and arms sales to
    human rights abusers, and lead on global nuclear disarmament.”

    while it is only the nominal global HQ of an EMPIRE, merely ‘posing’
    as, our former country — is certainly now after this current “Looting
    via Tax Scam” a “bankrupt Empire” as Jill’s platform above notes!

    Green Party, I recommended to Jill, should be very heavily promoted as
    the ONLY political party dedicated to being 100% ‘Against EMPIRE”

    point of fact, I recommended strongly that the Green Party could be
    called the “Green Anti-EMPIRE Party” to distinguish it from the
    dual-party Vichy-political facades of the overtly Pro-EMPIRE Republican
    Party and the covertly softer-speaking Pro-EMPIRE Democrat Party —–
    both of which phony, Vichy Parties are only competing, auditioning, and
    addressing the money-centered “Big Money” contributors who own and run
    both these effin phony parties of the EMPIRE:

    now, NOW, with the McCarthite investigation(S) of BOTH these Pro-EMPIRE
    Vichy Parties attempting to eff each other over who is the better lying
    ‘actor’ as defending Americans’ political interests — and seeing that
    ALL; informed, principled, progressive. “Resistance”, and essential
    Second American people’s peaceful and patriotic “Political/economic and
    socialist Revolution Against EMPIRE” being exposed by ‘the people’s’
    firing a; broad, strong, loud, sustained, public ‘in the streets’, (and
    corridors of Congress), but totally nonviolent “Shout (not shot) heard
    round the world” — similar to our founding “Revolution Against Empire”
    [Justin du Rivage] 242 years beyond the First (and only successful)
    American “Revolution Against Empire” (since all people’s Revolutions are
    truly ‘against Empires’), the Green Anti-Empire Party is poised, can,
    and will overcome both of the Pro-EMPIRE (and ‘Big Money’) parties of
    these old, dying, lying, corrupted, gutless, and totally MISNAMED
    Democrat and Republican phony Vichy Parties of the EMPIRE.
    It needs to be clearly, forcefully, and loudly pointed out that EMPIRE
    is the seminal cancer of BOTH the Wars ‘abroad” AND the Tyranny/Looting
    “at home” in BOTH Foreign and Domestic deceitful policy — or as the
    late great Hannah Arendt tried to warn her own German people, “Empire
    abroad entials tyranny at home” — and ‘we the people’ of America are
    suffering under BOTH immoral and expensive foreign WARS abroad, and the
    oppressive and pauperizing TYRANNY of looting, spying, and increased
    ‘police-state’ violence “at Home”!

    great deal of the problems that the leftish, progressive-lite, and
    pseudo alt-media have in conveying the truth of this diagnosed
    cancerous-disease of EMPIRE, comes from the temptation on the left —
    in the absence of any understanding — to “throw everything but the
    kitchen sink” against an ill-defined enemy and attack it with divided,
    divisive, defused, confused, and far too many merely ‘tactical’ weapons
    of; ‘identity issues’, ‘derogatory terms’, ‘uncoordinated demonstration,
    marches, and protests’, ‘mixed messages’, ‘specious and complex
    arguments’, and most importantly NO ‘strategic planning, nor matching
    ‘strategic narrative’.

    much of the supportive arguments, studies, documents, rallying shouts,
    protest signs and even academic proof that could have led to a focused
    and very powerful and effective Revolutionary movement have been not
    just wasted, but actually counter-productive —- which the EMPIRE is
    delighted with as being ‘tools’ for the EMPIRE being able to continue to
    ‘Divide and Conquer’ the people as Empire always do.

    While Gilens and Page’s Princeton / Northwestern research study proved
    beyond any doubt that America is no longer a functioning Democracy
    (which is no big surprise to readers here) — the immense left,
    progressive value of their important and broadly published report was
    greatly diminished by their title of calling it only an “Oligarchy”,
    because, of course, less than 10% of average American citizen/’subjects’
    of this EMPIRE even know what the word “Oligarchy” means.

    to add to this missed opportunity of calling our cancerous disease of
    the ‘body politic’ only the confusing and ill-understood term
    ‘oligarchy’ — the campaign of Bernie Sanders, which was the most
    exciting and promising opportunity for ‘the people’ (ever mentioned by
    the media/propaganda sector of this EMPIRE) was torpedoed by Bernie
    himself calling the problem by the same confusing (and defusing) term
    ‘oligarchy’ — which is nuts since Bernie gave me a big “Thumbs-Up”,
    for my sign (above), dozens of times that I saw him in person throughout
    his May 2015 earliest campaign events in Rochester NH at Governor’s Inn
    and all through to his collapse to shill for hill at Portsmouth HS (and

    some of the most informed and knowledgeable intellectuals, historians,
    and academic experts on the left have been, and continue, to use
    multiple ‘non-strategic’, divided, confusing, overlapping, and
    contradictory string of overly ‘dividing’, dis-empowering, and
    down-right ‘anti-strategic narrative terms’ for the awful opposition’s
    deadly and powerful (but well disguised0 EMPIRE, including such
    conflicting, divisive, and needlessly confusing terms as; oligarchy,
    plutocracy, ‘deep state’ (which the Empire has turned against the left),
    autocracy, authoritarianism, fascism, totalitarianism, ‘inverted
    totalitarianism’ (which would appear to be the exact opposite?),
    ‘corporate-state’, antifa (which the Empire also has turned against the
    left), ‘police-state’ (which might cause fair-minded working-class
    police to become anti-left), and a continuing string of vague and
    ineffective taunts instead of gathering “Popular Resistance” against the
    cancerous EMPIRE.

    Additionally, protesting every imaginable subordinate ‘Issue’ — in which

    my last count was listing more than 200+ “Issues” to protest against
    — is not using any clear and single overarching ‘strategic focus’,
    despite the fact that I have strongly recommended, and tested multiple
    times encompassing many individual ‘issues’, that a unifying and
    coalition synergy of including the term ‘Empire’ can and does improve
    and increase understanding of any and all issues. Eg. I marched,
    demonstrated, and protested in the ‘Resist and Protest’ “March for
    Science” events multiple time in multiple cities and found that most of
    the science teachers and professional scientists at all venues were
    delighted and fully supportive of my participation, signs, and chants
    (which they enjoyed) of “Science can’t exist under Empire — just ask
    Galileo” — and I’ve proved similar synergies in marching in other
    single ‘issue’ focused protests by relating and reinforcing the
    meta-issue of Empire along with many differing ‘issues’ which would not
    have been so ‘inclusive’ except for the Alliance of all separate
    ‘issues’ with the common cause of Empire.

    the principled left alt-media wastes tremendous; separate, overlapping,
    diverse, and confusing articles, columns, investigations, and reports
    on a massive number of individual “identity issues” in dozens of only
    slightly differently focused left web-sites in looking to raise
    readership, raise funding, and gain stature as being the ‘hot site’ to
    go to for the latest in left news, left issues, left movements, etc. —
    while really only competing with each other instead of using an economy
    of scale (on the under-funded left) to compete with the far more
    powerful and heavily corporate and EMPIRE funded media/propaganda-sector
    organ of the established and ENTRENCHED far right of center (and
    deceptively written powers) of the unitary, singular, and ‘big money’
    run EMPIRE — which is running the left out of money and out of media
    power, while the principled progressive left tries to out gun a 1000x
    bigger megaphone in the hands of this entrenched EMPIRE (which can run
    the left ragged because the EMPIRE is both disguised, global, and
    controls all the capital).

    Anyway, as I’ve said before here so many times that i’m hoarse (even while typing):

    only word which describes the dark and cancerous power that is
    oppressing all of us and killing our world with; wars, Wall Street
    looting, climate destruction, spying, lying, drone assassinations, etc.
    etc. ad nauseam is ‘EMPIRE’ — most other terms are only ‘domestic’,
    not global, issue specific, and not what America had to overthrow to
    become our country — which is only fully and accurately defined by the
    word “EMPIRE”

  • Robert H. Stiver

    Hmmmmm–I scanned without finding one word about militant/political Zionism or the Zionist entity so-called Israel in Perlman’s article, much less the crucial imperative of attaining decades-delayed justice for the hapless indigenous residents of Illegally Occupied Palestine. That’s a serious deficiency in any discussion of empire, colonialism, imperialism, hegemony, full-spectrum dominance, USrael exceptionalism, etc. Does the subject of the article, Galtung, have no opinion or judgment in that regard?