Undermining An Empire

Empires throughout history have maintained their hegemony through  economic and military prowess, but they must also rely on a form of ideological legitimacy to maintain their  tenet. Such legitimacy is often embedded in the geopolitical status of said empire amongst its allies and admirers.

The formation of the US empire after the second world war built upon its pillars of economic and military supremecy. the US empire created an architecture both tangible and intangible of financial and geopolitical institutions that served only in the interests of the US, also in the interest global capital and power brokers and democratic structures.

although there was numerous contradictions that became visible during the cold war period, much of the western world accepted  the common structure and ideological legitimacy of the US empire.

while the predicament of legitimacy arose around the Vietnamese war and  the blatant undermining of the Bretton-woods agreement by the nixon administration, come to known today as the ‘Nixon shocks’ where in president Nixon took economic measures in order to unilaterally cancel the direct convertibility of  the US dollar to gold.

It was not until the end of the cold war and the developments in thoughtless unipolar geopolitics over the last ten years that a real and apparent decline in US hegemony became evident. given the worn down state of the economic and military might of the US over the period 2001 to present, the hysterical reaction of the american political class over the release of diplomatic cables by the site Wikileaks is not surprising in the least.  However, it is enlightening to note the response of those in the West to such “displays (of) imperial arrogance and hypocrisy”(New York Times)

The U.S. is betraying one of its founding myths: freedom of information. And they are doing so now, because for the first time since the end of the cold war, they are threatened with losing worldwide control of information.

this hypocrasy of the United states is brazen, in an address from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s January 21, 2010 address about Internet freedom and the remarkable subsequent about-face in denouncing such freedom as practiced by WikiLeaks.

Wikileaks is really exposing is the extent to which western democratic systems have been emptied out along with the impotence of the press, and when the veil of secrecy is lifted the knee jerk reaction is to kill the messenger.The first ammendment which prohibits the creation of laws that infringe on the freedom of the press among other stipulations, was created in order to maintain and keep government in ‘check’. wikileaks is merely filling a niche in the market created by the absence of ideal journalism.

The abuses heaped on Julian Assange and the threats against him, especially, but not exclusively, from politicians in the United States, reflects this emptying out of democracy and a fear of the new virtual world of free speech.

The sight of the most prominent politicians in the world inciting either the prosecution, incarceration or assassination of Assange, or the persecution of his family, is a form of barbarism that demeans us all. Moreover, the phenomenon of companies as big as MasterCard and Visa being gangpressed into anti-trust violations of their commercial relations with WikiLeaks is truly frightening”.- Peter Gordon

, “we have a serious problem … not with image, as some countries do, and not reputation, like the US does. It’s a problem of being stripped of illusions about the nature of relations between countries, including such close allies as Poland and the US.”-polish prime minister

Perhaps the drive to shut down WikiLeaks and prosecute Julian Assange is the last gasp of a dying empire to shore up its fading legitimacy in the world and among its own citizens. Hence, the criticism by US Attorney General Eric Holder that WikiLeaks has put “the lives of people who work for the American people at risk; the American people themselves have been put at risk.” As the WikiLeaks publications make clear, the diplomatic corps is just another instrument of the US empire. Indeed, it is the empire itself that is putting its own citizens at risk through the reckless, illegal and immoral actions perpetrated around the globe.

In their desperation to retain the empire, the US political class is undermining the remaining vestiges of the empire’s legitimacy over the WikiLeaks affair. They may also be preparing to expand the definition of treason to include those who are dedicated, as is Assange and WikiLeaks, to freedom of information, especially when it reveals the duplicities of empire

“In a free society we’re supposed to know the truth. In a society where truth becomes treason, then we’re in big trouble. And now, people who are revealing the truth are getting into trouble for it”-Ron Paul

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