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The American Empire.

by Dear Jon
October 16, 2001

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88th Sort_Dear Jon-The American Empire. ACTUAL LETTER TO DEAR JON:

Dear Jon,

I read in an article by Jonathan Wilson that America should look on the events of this year as our "1914." Does this mean that a musical sensation like the Beatles and similar groups will create an "American Invasion" of pop music 50 years from now?

Music Fan


Dear Fan,

I'm not big into stretching analogies. The Empire Cycle is probably different from the Entertainment Cycle, but you would have to ask smarter people like James Leroy Wilson the extent to which history is analogous to itself.

The question raises a point about the very NATURE of the American Empire. While the British Empire established traditional imperial government in its possessions, and exerted other influences such as "extraterritorial rights" in its spheres, it seems to me that the American Empire is not about rule by governors, but rather economic and cultural hegemony. For the British, its imperial governors, their lackeys, and their soldiers, were the targets of anti-colonial freedom-fighters who often resorted to guerrilla and terror tactics.

The Americans afford no such targets. Anti-American zealots have had to turn to American embassies, which international law has regarded as extensions of the sovereign territory of the nation that owns the embassy. Anti-American zealots have had to target business travelers and tourists. They have become Anti-American because the nature of America's empire, rather than being military and colonial, is economic and cultural.

Thus the attacks within our sovereign borders have occurred on two fronts: Economic, with the destruction of the World Trade Center fortress; and cultural, with anthrax spores mailed to media giants. It does no good for Jihad zealots to attack our military bases, because even though international law recognizes the military as a legitimate target, it is not America's military that has been the problem for the Arab world.

Satellites, telephones, and computers, beam images of blue jeans and women's rights and sexual liberty and ethnic tolerance around the world. Culture is America's leading export, and American culture is perceived as a threat to the purity desired by Islamic fundamentalists.

The "British Invasion" of 1964 occurred when British bands adopted cultural forms that are indigenous to the culture of the United States. Arab nationalists and Islamic fundamentalists would rather not beat the Americans at their own game, the way the British and Germans and Japanese doe. They want no part of the game.

Then there are millions of Arabs who do want to be part of the game, who realize that progress is shaping the destiny of the nations and who do not want to be left behind in the misogyny and ethnophobia of ages past.

The only way I can see an analogy to the British Invasion is if, after several attacks with massive casualties on America's cultural and economic strongholds we are so paralyzed by fear we shrink back from the world stage (even though we defeat the terrorists eventually), Brazil or India steps forward to take our place on the world stage. Supposing it is Brazil, we begin to import their music and fashion. Then home-grown American bands travel to Rio to outperform Brazillians in their own music. But again, I think that might be stretching analogy.


ACTUAL LETTER TO DEAR JON:

Dear Jon,

Now that Jon Deer has given up his horoscopes or "channeling" or whatever he was doing, will we ever hear from him again?

Slightly Interested Reader


Dear Reader,

I don't know. He has not spoken to me much. I think he has been pretty depressed since September 11. "Nostradamus" hoaxes have added insult to his wounded psyche.

Maybe he will come out of this a better poet. I hope so. I think his "Ballad of Everett the Saxon" was pretty good.

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