At first sight the search for peace and stability in Iraq, and the search for physical and mental fitness in the extreme contortions of modern Yoga seem to have absolutely nothing in common. But curiously they do. Both the terrible structural problems and distortions that underly Iraqi society today, and the strange, contorted poses that millions of people perform every day in things like Bikram's Hot Yoga, actually come from the fevered imagination of the British ruling class one hundred years ago. As they felt Britain's power declining they wanted desperately to go back into the past and create a purer and more innocent world, uncorrupted by the messiness of the modern industrial world - a new Eden forged both by strengthening and purifying the human body and by inventing new model countries round the world. And we are still suffering from the consequences of that terrible nostalgia. BODYBUILDING AND NATION-BUILDING
posted by timshel
on Feb 4, 2014 -
A captain ready to drive himself and all around him to ruin in the hunt for a white whale. It’s a well-known story, and over the years, mad Ahab in Herman Melville’s most famous novel, Moby-Dick, has been used as an exemplar of unhinged American power, most recently of George W. Bush’s disastrous invasion of Iraq. But what’s really frightening isn’t our Ahabs, the hawks who periodically want to bomb some poor country, be it Vietnam or Afghanistan, back to the Stone Age. The respectable types are the true “terror of our age,” as Noam Chomsky called them collectively nearly 50 years ago. The really scary characters are our soberest politicians, scholars, journalists, professionals and managers, men and women (though mostly men) who imagine themselves as morally serious...
by Greg Grandin on Melville's novella Benito Cereno (based on the sailing memoirs of Amasa Delano Chapter XVIII
) the differences in the political economy and whaling vs. sealing, and the origins of the American empire.
posted by ennui.bz
on Jan 29, 2014 -
Mau Mau to Midnapore: Confronting the brutality of empire There are certainly some Britons, including academics, journalists and human rights lawyers, who are aware of the realities of colonialism. However, in the society as a whole and in the media in the UK there are still far too many who seem strangely reluctant, even after so many decades after the end of the British empire, to come to terms with the true nature of colonialism or learn from the perspective of former subjects who had rebelled against it.
posted by infini
on May 6, 2013 -
In 1990, George Bush Senior had inaugurated a New World Order, based on uncontested US military supremacy and western economic dominance. This was to be a unipolar world without rivals. Regional powers would bend the knee to the new worldwide imperium. History itself, it was said, had come to an end. But between the attack on the Twin Towers and the fall of Lehman Brothers, that global order had crumbled. Two factors were crucial. By the end of a decade of continuous warfare, the US had succeeded in exposing the limits, rather than the extent, of its military power. And the neoliberal capitalist model that had reigned supreme for a generation had crashed. The End Of The New World Order and the Search for a Way Forward
posted by philip-random
on Oct 25, 2012 -
Spanning one-ninth of the earth's circumference across three continents, the Roman Empire ruled a quarter of humanity through complex networks of political power, military domination and economic exchange. These extensive connections were sustained by premodern transportation and communication technologies that relied on energy generated by human and animal bodies, winds, and currents. Conventional maps that represent this world as it appears from space signally fail to capture the severe environmental constraints that governed the flows of people, goods and information. Cost, rather than distance, is the principal determinant of connectivity. For the first time, ORBIS allows us to express Roman communication costs in terms of both time and expense. By simulating movement along the principal routes of the Roman road network, the main navigable rivers, and hundreds of sea routes in the Mediterranean, Black Sea and coastal Atlantic, this interactive model reconstructs the duration and financial cost of travel in antiquity.
posted by Blasdelb
on May 11, 2012 -
THE OYO EMPIRE by Prof George Ayittey As you read this keep these pertinent modern questions in mind: Whether or not military dictatorship existed in the empire, rule of law was absent, there were no accountability or checks and balances, and whether the rulers can be removed.
posted by infini
on Feb 19, 2012 -
Indian author Pankaj Mishra writes a brutal takedown
of Niall Ferguson's latest book, Civilisation: The West and the Rest
in the London Review of Books
Ferguson responds to the critical book review with a lawsuit
. [more inside]
posted by bodywithoutorgans
on Dec 5, 2011 -
Over 143 episodes of audio, Mike Duncan has covered the founding of Rome through the Crisis of the Third Century in his History of Rome podcast
], having now reached the last pagan Emperor, Julian The Apostate
. Enlivened by drawing on comparisons to popular culture, from The Empire Strikes Back
(when Hannibal makes his appearance) to The Godfather
(as a metaphor for Rome's social client system), Mr Duncan's work makes for fun, informative 25-minute sessions with the greatest empire of the ancient western world. If you're interested in more, the podcasts could be handily supplemented with... [more inside]
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul
on Jul 10, 2011 -
Bill Moyers interviews David Simon
"Again, we would have to ask ourselves a lot of hard questions. The people most affected by this are black and brown and poor. It’s the abandoned inner cores of our urban areas. As we said before, economically, we don’t need those people; the American economy doesn’t need them. So as long as they stay in their ghettos and they only kill each other, we’re willing to pay for a police presence to keep them out of our America."
posted by bitmage
on Apr 17, 2011 -
The American Century, proclaimed so triumphantly at the start of World War II, will be tattered and fading by 2025, its eighth decade, and could be history by 2030.
posted by Joe Beese
on Dec 8, 2010 -
s original script for Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
was leaked online some time in the past couple of months. This isn't the more widely circulated Kasdan
treatment, but apparently the original, original draft submitted to George Lucas. Brackett died of cancer shortly thereafter. Ice castles, Wampa raids, transport guilds, Lando clones, Minch the Jedi master, a disturbing lack of incest and no, that's not your father, why do you ask? [more inside]
posted by obiwanwasabi
on May 30, 2010 -
It is not our role to take power. It is our role to make the powerful frightened of us. And that's what we've forgotten. Give up that dream!
Chris Hedges talks neoliberalism and neofeudalism, the civil rights movement, Camden, Obama, Clinton, Tea Parties, moral nihilism, inverted totalitarianism and corpocracy, NAFTA, welfare reform, health care, labor, poverty, Yugoslavia, post-industrial capitalism, economic crisis, imperial collapse, socialism, and democracy, among other things. [more inside]
posted by gerryblog
on Apr 24, 2010 -
Dismantling the Empire.
According to the 2008 official Pentagon inventory of US military bases around the world, the Empire consists of 865 facilities deploying over 190,000 troops in 46 countries and overseas U.S. territories. The United States spends approximately $250 billion each year maintaining its global military presence.
The sole purpose of this is to give us hegemony -- that is, control or dominance -- over as many nations on the planet as possible
posted by adamvasco
on Aug 8, 2009 -
From 1864 to 1904, the Russian Empire tried to quelch the nationalism of Lithuanians by ordering all Lithuanian texts to be printed with Cyrillic characters instead of in the Latin-derived Lithuanian or Polish alphabets. But they didn't count on the Knygnešiai - the Booksmugglers
. [more inside]
posted by mdonley
on Jul 12, 2009 -
Field Force to Lhasa 1903-04
Captain Cecil Mainprise accompanied General Sir Francis Younghusband's expedition to Tibet in 1903. He wrote 50 letters
home which trace the expedition’s progress into Tibet. Read this insider's account on the day they were written some 105 years later. Final post is 18 November 2009. [Via]
posted by Abiezer
on Apr 4, 2009 -
End of Empire
: A collaboration of all areas of geopolitics affecting countries of the world in relation to the 'Empire' of the United States of America, and the 'sub-Empires', such as the United Kingdom, Europe, Australia and any other country which seeks to exploit poorer nations and their people in the quest for domination.
posted by adamvasco
on Nov 27, 2007 -
"They called it 'the American Century,' but the past hundred years actually saw a shift away
from Western dominance. Through the long lens of Edward Gibbon's history, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
, Rome 331 and America and Europe 2006 appear to have more than a few problems in common." By Niall Ferguson, whose views on the American hegemony have been discussed previously
posted by homunculus
on Oct 25, 2006 -
INTERNET AS HYPER-LIBERALISM:
By the limitations of common sense and consensus. Sometime wacky ideas can help us look at things much clearer than a technical manual description of them by rational and well argued people. Paul Treanor is a one-of-a-kind writer. don't try to argue with him about being wrong. he does not believe in communication and therefore there is no CONTACT link anywhere on his site. He writes and lives in Amsterdam, Holland.
posted by sundaymag
on Jan 10, 2006 -
The Lucifer Project.
"This is a documentation and study of the feasibility of creating a sustainable fusion reaction from an initial fission reaction on Saturn caused by a significant quantity of Plutonium-238 being inserted deep into the atmosphere." [via: del.icio.us/blackbeltjones]
posted by gsb
on Nov 21, 2005 -
The world's first multinational
I found this informative piece via Arts&Letters. "Corporate greed, the ruination of traditional ways of life, share-price bubbles, western imperialism: all these modern complaints were made against the British East India Company in the 18th century. Nick Robins draws the lessons...
posted by Postroad
on Dec 10, 2004 -
If we were having this conversation in 1985, and I had said to you, “Four years from now the Soviet Union will collapse and in six years it will disappear,” you would have thought, “This is not a reliable observer.” But the U.S.S.R. is gone -- disappeared -- and we didn’t predict it. Russia today is a much smaller country than the former Soviet Union. The CIA had all the wrong data. We also made a mistake when we concluded that we had won the Cold War. We had almost nothing to do with what happened in the Soviet Union: there were internal issues and it certainly wasn’t Star Wars. We now know in detail how Gorbachev brought Sakharov out of exile in Gorky to address the Politburo on, “What would you do about a ballistic missile defense?” Sakharov said, “It’s easy to overwhelm it with missiles. I wouldn’t spend a ruble on it.” And they didn’t. But in mistakenly thinking that we won the Cold War, we strongly imply that we did something to cause that. Instead, the Soviet Union collapsed because of overstretch, a case of imperial overstretch. An Empire of More Than 725 Military Bases
An interview with Chalmers Johnson, author of Blowback
and The Sorrows Of Empire
posted by y2karl
on Dec 1, 2004 -
It all comes down do one question: Must France stay in Algeria? “If the answer is yes,” he says, “then you must accept the consequences.” Gillo Pontecorvo
's "The Battle of Algiers
", now out
on a Criterion dvd
, is a film of quiet
power. The mix of subjective and documentary techniques
holds the viewer's trust so authoritatively that many scenes come close to sneaking out of the mental "movies I saw" box to mix with the viewer's own memories. No matter how complicated or fragmented the action becomes, Pontecorvo gets the pace, tone and rhythm exactly right, filling the screen with eloquent details.
(Last year, Pontecorvo's masterpiece was discussed here, too. More inside)
posted by matteo
on Nov 3, 2004 -
"It was surprising how thick the smoke had become.
It seems like the world has always needed a scapegoat --someone to lead the charge against the Roman Empire. But America wasn't the Roman Empire and someone else would have to step up and volunteer. I really was never any more than what I was -- a folk musician who gazed into the gray mist with tear-blinded eyes and made up songs that floated in a luminous haze. Now it had blown up in my face and was hanging over me." -- from Bob Dylan's
new autobiography, Chronicles
, with a brief interview
, via Newsweek
posted by digaman
on Sep 26, 2004 -