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Wednesday, 7 December 2005
American Imperialism. Riiiiiiiiiight.

One of the problems is that we just don't seem to connect. What Jake and PIATOR post over at Goldstein's just doesn't make sense, doesn't convey any information to us -- and it would seem that it goes the other way, too. Maybe I've figured out why.

Phoenician in a Time of Romans is an imperialist.

A frustrated imperialist, to be sure. He's (I'm going to assume the pronoun, for simplicity) quite certain that acting as an imperialist is villainous, so he takes steps to see that he and his leaders don't do that. But he still holds to the crucial error of imperialism: he thinks it's profitable. That is, he thinks that if anybody's villainous enough to actually act imperially, they could better themselves, become richer and more powerful.

The rest follows. He supports disarmament, even unilateral disarmament, the dismantling of the armed forces that his own country might maintain, because he knows that his leaders feel the same way and the temptation is likely to be too great. If Huggable Helen had an army that could kick any ass it chose, the said army financed out of the pocket change of an economy that could see its major export port and two-thirds of its oil-refining industry destroyed and still grow detectably, before long it'd be horned helmets, quaffing, and no sheep safe anywhere on the planet.

And he projects that attitude on us!

The cold fact of the matter is that there hasn't been an imperialist, in that sense, in any position of real power in the United States since Dougout Doug got fired, and I'm personally convinced that MacArthur was more French about it than capitalist -- he wanted an em-pah for the prestige, not the profit; more jingoist than truly imperial.[1]

We aren't nonimperialist out of moral or ethical considerations, which is a good thing because PIATOR wouldn't believe it anyway. What we have is a century and a half of running the numbers. Reconstruction; our brief fling with real, cold-hearted Imperialism-with-capital-I in the late 19th and early 20th centuries; watching the Euros smash one another's possessions and hopes over fifty years, and picking up the pieces afterward; seeing the British totally unable to draw on their far-flung possessions to recover, and watching the New Tsars (a.k.a. the "Soviet" Union) flail in ultimately helpless violence; not to mention the civil equivalents, the Edisons and Sloans, the LTVs and IBMs. Cold-eyed capitalists, alert to the main chance and eager for profit, have long ago laid out the business plans, delved deeply into the case studies, added remorseless figures in columns of double-entry with checksums, and come up with the same answer every time:

You can't make money that way.

So we've dismissed it from our minds. It never even occurs us to argue against accusations of imperialism, because it never occurs to us to engage in it. We don't want possessions; we want customers, because customers bring money and leave some behind. We don't hate poverty because it's moral or ethical to do so; we hate poverty because poor people never buy anything. If everybody in the world was as rich as we are, what a marvelous fucking market that would be!

And if we forget, we can always look at Puerto Rico. We've got Puerto Rico, souvenir of Empire, genuine possession. We can't give it away, even to its own people; we can't incorporate it fully, because it's too much of a drag; all we can do is send money and keep the lid on. Why the Hell would we want another one?

But PIATOR and those who think like them don't see it that way. They see imperialism as this grand and gloriously profitable enterprise, and congratulate one another on their highfalutin' ethical purity for virtuously not engaging in it. And they expect us to think the same way, because they know we're into profit, so naturally we'd go for the big one, just as they would if they weren't so self-consciously good. It even says so in St. Karl's Revelation in the British Museum, so it must be true.

But it isn't true. We've figured out that imperialism is for losers. The few of us that pop up with proposals to kill the men, rape the women, and steal the sheep -- or some other permutation -- get either ignored or squashed, in any case not let near the real levers of power. It mostly never even occurs to us that it's a possibility, because (like PIATOR) we tend to project our own knowledge and attitude on others if their thinking is at least superficially similar. We expect them to realize that there's no point to imperialism. But they don't, and that's the disconnect we can't get past.

That's where Nazi genocidists and religious-fanatic headloppers get to be heroic "insurgents". It's how pipsqueak megalomaniacs, preferably with beards, can murder people in job lots to murmurs of approval from those who are nominally sympathetic to the poor and oppressed. They're holding up their end of anti-imperialism, so they must be good guys, hey?

Got news for you, assholes: If the U.S. won New Zealand in a poker game, we'd toss it back in the chip-pile before we went out to relax at the slots. Or try to sell it to the Aussies, who'd probably want us to pay them to take it off their hands. The same is true for any country in the damn world. We don't want to own it. The food stinks, the water isn't safe to drink, the cops are corrupt, and the women are ugly, and we've got plenty of that shit right here at home and don't need more of it to waste our money on. The one or two places in the world we'd be happy to incorporate into our system are also places that do fine already, and we're happy as Hell to sell them stuff and buy stuff from them. If they wanted in they'd be welcome, but we sure as Hell know we wouldn't make any money doing it by force.

And we need to say that, as loudly, as frequently, and as insultingly as possible, in order to get as much of it across as we can. We aren't imperialists, not out of ethics but out of contempt. We don't want your stinking country. What we want is for you to get your head out of your ass, get rich, and buy stuff from us, OK?

[1] It occurs to me that Ramsey Clark and a few others might well be exceptions to the "not in power" part of that. Discuss.

Posted by Ric Locke at 9:28 PM CST
Updated: Wednesday, 7 December 2005 9:34 PM CST
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Saturday, 2 July 2005
How Remarkable
Aha. I tried to set a banner by editing the .bpt files, and it didn't seem to work.

Now I come back a week later and it works fine.

I don't think I understand this. But I like the banner; it's a picture taken on my little scrub-mesquite farm, with the guest horse Missy in the middle.

Posted by Ric Locke at 10:46 PM CDT
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Friday, 24 June 2005
Well, I tried
Hmph. I made a nice graphic:

Uncleared land, with horse

and wanted to put it as the masthead, but still haven't figured out how to make the templates do anything. At least I figured out how to get the templates to appear; Opera won't show them, but FireFox does.

Maybe another try tomorrow.

Posted by Ric Locke at 12:13 AM CDT
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Thursday, 23 June 2005
OK, let's try something more complex
Let's see if this link gets my joke page back.

Later: Hey, great, it works. Maybe I do sort of understand this c*p.

Posted by Ric Locke at 12:17 AM CDT
Updated: Thursday, 23 June 2005 12:21 AM CDT
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Initial Post
Let's see how this goes.

Maybe I can do things here instead of offending the good folk at rec.arts.sf.composition!

Posted by Ric Locke at 12:07 AM CDT
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