the imperial archive

a clearinghouse of information for empire-haters

17 July 2007

The video

Franz Fanon info

If you can't get enough of Fanon and other writers fighting imperialism in Africa, here are links

quotes from Black Skin, White Masks

a collection of works, including the conclusion of The Wretched of the Earth:

other works from famous African anti-imperialists:

10 July 2006

article for lecture

tomorrow's lecture on lacan and zizek will consist of a close reading of one article with references to other works.

if you really want a head start, you are crazy...but i'll give you your fix you wierdo lacan junkie you.

Couching Politics: Zizek’s Rules for Radicals
Henry Krips, former professor of Rhetoric and Communication at the University of Pittsburgh
Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society
Volume 9, Number 1, April 2004, pp. 126-141(16)

It can be accessed via Proquest in the Gonzaga databases.

09 July 2006

big zizek article archive seems to have a bunch of information on psychoanalysis, but its wiki-style so i don't trust it tooooo much. what i do trust is this list of zizek articles. it is huge:

click on the article name to be taken to a transcription hosted on nosubject. i wouldn't trust all the external links to be up to date.

some key words

a quick and dirty Lacanian glossary

che vuoi?: what does the Other want? it is the question which we consistantly attempt to answer, but never can. It is at the heart of our being as social creatures, marking a fascination with those around us that bind us to them. This does not have to mean in a geographic sense--no one was more obsessed with che vuoi than the Unabomber, who hid in a shack out of fear of the answer to that question, and yet wrote hundreds of pages as though he were answering to all of us, telling us what he thought we wanted to know.

desire: not to be confused with need or demand. Need is biological and disappears when satisfied. Demand is the articulation of a need. What is left over when a need has been satisfied is desire. Example: Need is when I am hungry, I demand lunch at the Cog, and I am satisfied. Desire is when I need love, I demand it, and I want it even after that demand has been answered. Desires, then, can never be satisfied. Lacan says "Man's desire is the desire of the Other." Desire is a social product--it can't be separated from what we think about others. For example, we desire money and fame because we think/know that others desire it, and we would like to be desired by them.

drives: separate from instinct. Drives are social, they are what we feel we are called towards. Freud says there are life and death drives. Lacan says only death drives insofar as they are nostalgia for lost harmony, a harmony only capable outside of life as we know it. They are also all sexual and partial.

lack: The feeling of incompletion that comes from being unable to access the Real. Think of it as the cracks in the facade of phantasies.

the gaze: the way in which we are shaped by looking and the belief that we are being looked at. The religious person acts as though constantly subject to the gaze of God. The movie director manipulates the audience by controlling what they may and may not see. Your first big "gaze" is when you first saw yourself in the mirror, and realized you were a separate person who could look at others and be looked upon by others.

the open secret: what we all know is the case (that lawmakers bend the rules, for example), but cannot bear to be confronted with because if spoken aloud, it would challenge our phantasies. Exhibit A: Back when Jimmy Carter was president, he told Playboy that he had lust in his heart, as do all human beings. But when people are forced to speak this open secret—see it for what it is—we are embarrassed. The phantasy of the chaste religious man disappeared, but rather than give up the phantasy, we all claimed to be shocked, SHOCKED! Exhibit B: Abu Ghraib. Who’d have thunk that when we train men and women to kill and degrade, they might get a kick out of it? And again we refused to give up the phantasy of soldiers as being brave and true, and war and violence as just 9 to 5, given up when off the battlefield, we remained loyal and instead punished the violators, even though it threatened those in power (Donald Rumsfeld was nearly forced out of his position).

the other (both big and little): The little other is the projection of our ego onto something immediate (you think that you are fat, therefore you see this doubt in those around you). The big Other is another kettle of fish altogether. It is totally alien, radically different and unable to be assimilated. The little other might be the person that you want to be like, who you want to identify yourself with, because you have projected upon them certain desireable qualities. The big Other is the one who is completely separate and inscrutable, and yet somehow always watching. You always desire the Other, but are always unable to understand it. The best example I can think of is God. Another examples are the Victorian paintings of odalisks, beautiful exotic foriegn women in various states who stared seductively out at the viewer, but in their foreign-ness, they were unknowable and yet immanently desirable.

phantasy: that which conceals the inconsistencies in the big Other. Lacan compares it to watching a movie where something traumatic is about to happen and the frame just freezes, veiling the impending horror (for Lacan, castration). It is static and unchanging.

the real: the surplus of external reality that resists language. Is that like when words fail you, you ask? Well yes, only add on that they always fail to a certain extent. The real is impossible, but it persists because it is the rock against which all of our phantasies fail.

traversing the phantasy: exposing our desire for what it is, a fiction. It means accepting the imperfections of the world and our inability to come to terms with the Real, rather than stopping the film. Think of it as watching the traumatic scene in all its gory and horrible glory, then feeling both unendingly disgusted but also triumphant.

a gallon of haterade

possibly one of the funniest things i have ever come across when aimlessly wandering through

keep some of these jokes in your back pocket. they will make you look a) smart, and b) cool for being soo over post-structuralism. fredric jameson is totally last week.

my personal fave is the dick hebdige rip. i've always thought the same myself.

lacan stuff to come.

06 July 2006

zizek! the gross wedding! (seriously, watch the trailer)


there is obviously nothing more that a teenager likes to think about more than perversion. so, here you go:

courtesy of slavoj zizek, in lacanian ink 27

This brings us back to perversion: for Lacan, a pervert is not defined by the content of what he is doing (his weird sexual practices, etc.). Perversion, at its most fundamental, resides in the formal structure of how the subject relates to truth and speech. The pervert claims direct access to some figure of the big Other (from God or history to the desire of his partner), so that, dispelling all the ambiguity of language, he is able to act directly as the instrument of the big Other's will. In this sense, both Osama bin Laden and President Bush, although politically opponents, share a pervert structure: they both act upon the presupposition that their acts are directly ordered and guided by the divine will.

04 July 2006

Latin America--or--the US, only poor and easily abused

More from the nice people at

October 14, 2005

The Friendly Face of US Imperialism
USAID and Haiti


On the ground United States foreign assistance projects often mean desperately needed food and employment for the poor, impossible to resist, difficult to critique. But from the vantage point of US foreign policy objectives a very different picture emerges and long-term and global outcomes often differ dramatically from the immediate consequences of relief efforts.

The United States International Development Agency (USAID) emerged as an arm of US foreign policy following the Second World War. The Agency was developed to provide foreign relief and development assistance in accordance with US policy objectives. According to the USAID website ( the organization operates under the following mandate.

"U.S. foreign assistance has always had the twofold purpose of furthering America's foreign policy interests in expanding democracy and free markets while improving the lives of the citizens of the developing world."

This dual mandate raises the important question of whether US policy interests generally result in improved living conditions for the majority of the world's poor? While it may occasionally be the case that the interests of the US government and the poverty stricken citizens around the world are aligned, more often than not, US economic and political interests are dependent on the exploitation and manipulation of workers and consumers in the developing world. It is this inherent contradiction within the USAID mandate that should cause skepticism among US taxpayers concerned with issues of social justice and self determination.

The fundamental problem with USAID's stated objectives is that it is not in the national interests of the US government to promote self sufficiency in developing countries. US economic interests are fed by foreign dependency on US imports and loans. Political interests are served by maintaining an economic stranglehold on foreign governments, and many a strategic alliance has been forged out of economic necessity. Among USAID's operating tenets are sustainability and local capacity building, noble goals but highly dependent on how these tenets are defined and the manner in which they are implemented. Sustainability of what, and which local capacities are being supported? Implementation is primarily shaped by another of USAID's governing tenets, selectivity, the allocation of resources based on foreign policy interests.

The recently released USAID Haiti Field Report provides an excellent case study for investigating the role of USAID in promoting US foreign policy objectives under the friendly guise of aid. Much of USAID's current work in Haiti is carried out under the umbrella of the Haiti Transition Initiative (HTI), a program developed by USAID's Office for Transition Initiatives (OTI) in May 2004 to "emphasize stability-building measures in key crisis spots."

The OTI was created within USAID in 1994 "to provide fast, flexible, short-term assistance to take advantage of windows of opportunity to build democracy and peace" in countries experiencing political turmoil. According to the OTI website the organization accomplishes its objectives by specifically encouraging "a culture of risk-taking, political orientation, and swift response among its staff and partners." The Haiti Field Report explores how short term assistance programs provided within a culture of political orientation can be used to distort international perceptions of Haiti's complicated political terrain, as the elections approach.

The United States is primarily concerned with Haiti's upcoming elections occurring on schedule, so that a new government can be in place by February 2006. In Haiti, as in Iraq and Afghanistan, the timeliness and appearance of legitimacy of the electoral process are of paramount importance for the Bush Administration's PR machine, which tends to equate elections with democracy, boasting that the United States is benevolently promoting "democracies" around the world. USAID describes their objectives as follows: "Haiti's future depends on elections that are considered free and fair to ensure the legitimacy of the new government and enhance their ability to govern effectively. The stabilization of the political and security environment in Haiti is central to U.S. foreign policy and USAID objectives."

What sort of democracy is the United States promoting in Haiti, where the duly elected president was spirited away on a US military jet against his will, as the country once again fell into the hands of the powerful elite and brutal former military? Haiti is now governed by a cadre of unelected officials overseen by Prime Minister Gerard Latortue, a Haitian businessman and former radio show host that lived in Boca Raton Florida for the 15 years preceding his unconstitutional rise to office. In direct contradiction to actual events and the laws of the Haitian Constitution, USAID describes Haiti's unelected Interim Government as "benefiting from the support of democratic institutions." They further state that the "political transition" of February 29, 2004 "created a new environment for collaboration with the Interim Government of Haiti," indicating their willingness to work closely with an illegitimate government accused of numerous human rights abuses over the past year in order to promote US interests.

USAID's Haiti Field Report, which can be found on the USAID website, presents a glowing image of US development efforts in this "troubled" country, through a carefully-crafted compilation of selective facts. In August alone, USAID invested over 4 million dollars towards projects in Haiti. These projects include road and canal clean-up projects, terracing of hillsides to prevent erosion and electricity projects. On the surface it is difficult to criticize the provision of badly needed clean-up efforts and employment opportunities and certainly these programs have had benefits within the community. The questions are: what is the long term viability of these projects, and who are the primary beneficiaries? A far more detailed on-the-ground investigation would be required to determine how these programs will differentially benefit various local and international interests in the short and long term.

Other USAID projects that have more obvious political implications are short term nutrition and recreational initiatives in "key crisis areas." The report outlines USAID's strategy for pacifying Haiti's largest political party, Lavalas through selective distribution of aid resources. In August the Haiti Transition Initiative set up 26 "Play for Peace" camps in Port au Prince, Cap Haitien, St. Marc and several other "target" cities. These camps are designed to provide food and activities to desperately poor communities; essential services, the importance of which is not in question.

What is questionable is the way in which these camps are used to undermine existing community programs in an attempt to de-legitimize the demands of the Lavalas movement in the eyes of the international community. This strategy is exemplified by USAID's description of their activities in Petit Place Cazeau, the community that is home to Father Gerard Jean Juste's parish of St. Claire. Father Jean Juste, illegally imprisoned since July 21, 2005, is a popular priest and outspoken opponent of the unelected interim government. USAID's Haiti Field Report describes their activity in Father Jean Juste's neighborhood as follows:

"OTI initiated a Play for Peace summer camp in Petit Place Cazeau, the Port au Prince stronghold of Lavalas party presidential candidate Father Gerard Jean Juste. [] The fruits of these efforts were seen during a recent demonstration attended by 200 people. At the same time that the demonstration was taking place, 300 people were enjoying the summer camp. It is believed that the camp prevented the demonstration from being larger and giving greater legitimacy to the protesters. The coming weeks will see a deepening of OTI activities in Petit Place Cazeau, where events like the summer camp will become increasingly important now that Father Jean Juste has been arrested. His imprisonment has inflamed pro-Lavalas fires in the area and made him a martyr to some Haitians."

This report presents a picture of US aid that is simultaneously disturbing and refreshingly honest. The fact that the "fruits of these efforts" are described as the camps' potential to de-legitimize protest as opposed to their success in providing basic services to the community, speaks volumes to USAID's primary motivations, motivations which will shape long term outcomes. USAID is an arm of the US State Department reporting directly to Condoleezza Rice and their stated objective is to use aid to pursue outcomes desired by the State Department. In this case the State Department is eager to for the upcoming elections to appear legitimate as evident in Condoleezza Rice's recent visit to Haiti in which she stressed the importance of timeliness and legitimacy.

In order for this goal to be achieved it is critical to stifle resistance to the elections. Resistance is being tackled on two fronts. In the past year, thousands of former elected officials and community organizers have been imprisoned, forced into hiding or killed, with many innocent civilians caught in the crossfire. This overt stifling of dissent is implemented by Haiti's unelected interim government through the Haitian National Police, a brutal police forced armed by the United States and under the control of the United Nations.

USAID uses a different tactic for pacifying the poor in Haiti who have been rightfully outraged by the destruction of their democracy, rise in the cost of living and ongoing government-sponsored repression. Understanding the level of desperation in these communities, short term provision of services is used as a way to draw people away from protesting these conditions with a warm meal. As people are fed they can be quietly indoctrinated with the notion that these camps provide an alternative to the "violence" of Lavalas. The provision of entertainment and meals may provide a temporary alleviation of suffering but they do nothing to address the underlying causes of that suffering which are deeply entangled in with the disruption of Haiti's democracy in 2004. A full stomach will not end the police killings, it will not free the political prisoners and it will not result in the reestablishment of social programs in Haiti; but it may give a hungry person a moment of peace. Full stomachs and soccer are excellent tools for temporarily easing suffering to pacify protest and give the country the appearance of calm in the run up to the elections but they are not a sustainable solution to the many problems that prevent these elections from being free and fair, nor will they promote a democracy that truly represents that Haitian people. The long term implications of installing an illegitimate government could far outweigh the short term benefits enjoyed by those attending the camps.

Other questions about these programs include: how long will these programs feed the hungry and what is their effect on pre-existing programs in Petit Place Cazeau, that were not mentioned in the report? Long before USAID initiated the Play for Peace camps in the neighborhood, Father Jean Juste and the St. Claire community were providing vocational training classes, recreational activities and meals to thousands of children in the neighborhood. Now with Father Jean Juste in prison these programs are at risk. Unlike Father Jean Juste's commitment to empowering the community, USAIDs stated goal of pacifying political protest through aid is decidedly a short term strategy, and these camps are not likely to provide a sustainable source of aid after political objectives have been met. If USAID were truly interested in improving the lives of poor people they would support the maintenance of existing programs by joining Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, 29 members of Congress, and over 400 religious leaders in calling for the release of Father Jean Juste, a cornerstone of many community development projects in Petit Place Cazeau.

As stated in the document, the coming weeks will see increased expansion of USAID programs in Petit Place Cazeau and in other key areas like Milot, where Lavalas remains strong. These developments are of interest not only for those concerned with US subversion of democracy in Haiti but also to those interested in understanding USAID's operations throughout the world. This explicit acknowledgement of the motivations underlying aid in Petit Place Cazeau provides and excellent case study and these developments deserve ongoing scrutiny. Despite its beneficent name, USAID is doing what it was designed to do, play off the hunger of the starving, and the boredom of the unemployed, to further US policy interests. In Haiti this means propping up and illegitimate foreign government in the face of massive resistance, a difficult task best carried out through a combination of violent repression and foreign aid, the friendly face of US imperialism.

Sasha Kramer is a PhD. candidate at Stanford University who has travelled to Haiti three times this year on human rights delegations. She can be reached at:

Tom Friedman--big jerk

From February 7, 2005

Proper Elections for a Proper Civil War? Tom Friedman: Scribe for New Age Imperialism By


Cutting through the baloney in a Tom Friedman article is like picking a nickel out of a dog's breakfast; damn near impossible. His knack at jiggering the truth to co-opt his readership puts him light-years beyond his piers. Without a fair grasp of the facts before reading one of his columns, you,ll never know you,re being drawn into a parallel universe of calculated distortions.

His latest ruminations focus on the shabby, murderous occupation of Iraq. Friedman endorsed the war from the get-go with proviso that it should be "done right". Yup, according to Friedman the laser-guided carnage, leveling of Falluja and the subsequent torture of suspects was "okie-dokey" as long as it was "done right". The great error of the war, according to Tom, was that we didn't provide enough troops to stabilize the country. That's it. Not a word about the torture, death and destructionjust practical, "nuts-and-bolts" stuff about how to win the war from our Pulitzer Prize winning prognosticator.

Friedman offers these outrageously callous judgments using his "trademark" affable tenor that oozes familiarity and hauteur. The normal Friedman article assumes the tone of a friendly stranger, plopped on a neighboring barstool, pontificating on the world's many intricacies to a less-knowledgeable companion. Isn't that Friedman?

"Let me explain the world to you in terms that even you can understand."

And is he good at it? You bet. American liberals love Friedman; his folksy lingo, his home-spun humor, his engaging anecdotes. Beneath the surface, of course, is the hard-right ethos that pervades his every thought and word but, "what the heck", no ones perfect.

Lately, Tom has been combing every detail of the Iraqi elections to make his case about "what should be done" to improve US chances for success in democratizing the churlish Arabs. After considerable deliberation, this is what he came up with:
"We have to have a proper election in Iraq so we can have a proper civil war".

Say what? Did he really say that?

"We don't want the kind of civil war we have in Iraq now. That is a war of Sunni and Islamic militants against the United States," Tom avers.

Of course, not! What we want is a Friedman-type of civil war; you know, a war where Iraqis only kill other Iraqis and America's can get on with the "heavy lifting" of looting the country like they planned from the very beginning. Regrettably, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Rumsfeld and the Intelligence services all agree with Friedman. "Let's figure out a way to make them kill each other," they collectively muse. It should be called the Kissinger solution, since dear Henri promoted the same, self-serving strategy during the Iran-Iraq war ("I hope they both kill each other" H.K.)

So, you see that Friedman is not really any further to the left than Don Rumsfeld or Henry K. This may come as a surprise to some of his liberal-leaning groupies.

He's not skittish about giving his opinion about Iran either. He wouldn't be as tactless and corny as Bush, referring to it as "the Axis of Evil. But there's not a hairs-breadth difference between Bush's take on Iran and Friedman,s. As a matter of fact, Friedman refers to Iran as a "Red state" just ready to tip towards democracy after a helpful shove from the Bush claque. Sound provocative? How much difference is there between that astute assessment and the more vulgar appeal for "regime change"? Not much.

Friedman believes that if Europe wants a peaceful resolution to the (American-created) Iran crisis, they should do more than just offering "carrots" to the Mullahs. (as opposed to Bush's "sticks") In other words, the world should EXPECT aggression unless Iran can somehow establish its innocence beyond a doubt. This seems to follow the logic of the Ashcroft Justice dept. that prisoners are guilty until proven innocent. To Friedman, however, this is a just the practical man's way of deciding whether or not Iran should be "whacked". The question of whether the American military should be limited to situations related to national defense is never seriously considered. Friedman, like most Americans, sees US aggression as a sign of divine intercession. God works in strange ways, but more often than not, through his corporeal avatars; the US Marines.

Friedman's shameless praise of the Iraqi elections is worthy of another Pulitzer. He wholeheartedly accepts the George W. Orwell view that martial law and democracy are morally equivalent. This fits into his larger theory that the broad nationalist struggle ("the Iraqi insurgency") is nothing more than a "murderous death cult" (I kid you not) comparable to the genocidal "Khmer Rouge". (No mention, of course, of the "genocidal" murder of 100,000 Iraqis at the hands of their American overlords) His basic premise seems to be, that anyone who defends themselves against American hostility is a terrorist. Where have we heard that before?

Friedman's views on foreign policy are consistent with those of ideological forebears in the Democratic Party. While the Republican's take a "race-based", Manifest Destiny perspective on foreign policy; justifying American conquest in terms of social Darwinism and the inherent right of the US to rule the world. Friedman invokes the "kinder, gentler" tactic of Yankee Paternalism; vindicating occupation and exploitation in terms of a "father's great love for his errant child". This explains why it's so easy for him to shrug off Abu Ghraib and Falluja. He accepts them as an unavoidable part of bringing wayward Iraqis into America's affectionate embrace. After all, "We're only killing them for their own good."

Friedman's talent ensures that he will remain the unrivaled champion of imperial doctrine for years to come. He's simply the best around. His unctuous prose provides the rationale for warfare and a justification for the criminal violence against the Iraqi people. What else would you expect from the empire's foremost apologist? His columns form the ideological headwaters of new-age imperialism; celebrating the ritual of armed savagery to anyone who will lend an ear.
Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He can be reached at:

songs to rock out to

here's where you can do a little completely legal downloading for songs that you can listen to as you cut cards. some of the songs are downloadable, and you can stream them all. i recommend "birthday party" and "dick is a killer"

songs to rock out to

here's where you can do a little completely legal downloading for songs that you can listen to as you cut cards. some of the songs are downloadable, and you can stream them all. i recommend "birthday party" and "dick is a killer"

Happy barbeque day!

Seriously, this came from my clipart. i thought you should see it in its color glory.

MMMmmm...democracy in the Middle East

the handout

Basic definitions:

Imperialism: the extension of rule or influence by one government, nation, or society over another.

Military imperialism
Cultural imperialism

Colonialism: The political, social, economic, and cultural domination of a territory and its people by a foreign power for an extended time.

Mercantilism: an economic and political philosophy that stresses the development and control of tradable goods (or commodities) as a means to foster the general good or wealth of a society or country

Manifest Destiny: the belief and policy common in America in the early 1800s that it was the destiny or fate of the US to expand west to the Pacific Ocean.

Subaltern: A term first used by Antonio Gramsci to mean subordinated or oppressed, later picked up by Gayatri Spivak to describe those who were “twice oppressed,” first by colonialism, and second by race, class, caste, gender, sexual orientation (etc) discrimination.

Monroe Doctrine: Political doctrine under James Monroe which closes the Western Hemisphere to European colonization.

White Man’s Burden: The belief that it is the duty of the “white (aka developed) world to civilize those who they deem savage—references a poem by Rudyard Kipling.


Early imperialism = extending one’s realm by taking over and subjugating countries. Height of the early to classical period is obviously the Holy Roman Empire, which had control of most of continental Europe and some of the Middle East and Africa. This control, however, was loose at best.

Golden age of imperialism = 15-19th century. The Dutch and Portuguese begin trading empires in the 15th century. British attempt to rule the world in the 18-19th century, but by the 20th (roughly the end of the Victorian age) they are tapped out, and their colonies begin to return to home rule.

The 18th and 19th centuries see the expansion of the United States, at the cost of the Native Americans.

In the 20th century (after WWI) the last true empires crumble, leaving neo-imperialism in its wake. The Cold War sparks proxy wars and systems of allies between communist and democratic countries. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, most military incursions are in the name of freedom and apple pie (ex: Iraq, Kosovo). This represents a new era in cultural and economic imperialism.

Links for burgeoning revolutionaries


Global Trade Watch: (collection of leftist writings)

Progressive Review:

In These Times:

Mother Jones:

Utne Reader:

Kipling's "White Man's Burden"

Take up the White Man's burden--
Send forth the best ye breed--
Go bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives' need;
To wait in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild--
Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
Half-devil and half-child.

Take up the White Man's burden--
In patience to abide,
To veil the threat of terror
And check the show of pride;
By open speech and simple,
An hundred times made plain
To seek another's profit,
And work another's gain.

Take up the White Man's burden--
The savage wars of peace--
Fill full the mouth of Famine
And bid the sickness cease;
And when your goal is nearestT
he end for others sought,
Watch sloth and heathen Folly
Bring all your hopes to nought.

Take up the White Man's burden--
No tawdry rule of kings,
But toil of serf and sweeper--
The tale of common things.
The ports ye shall not enter,
The roads ye shall not tread,
Go mark them with your living,
And mark them with your dead.

Take up the White Man's burden--
And reap his old reward:
The blame of those ye better,
The hate of those ye guard--
The cry of hosts ye humour
(Ah, slowly!) toward the light:--
"Why brought he us from bondage,
Our loved Egyptian night?"

Take up the White Man's burden--
Ye dare not stoop to less--
Nor call too loud on Freedom
To cloke (1) your weariness;
By all ye cry or whisper,
By all ye leave or do,
The silent, sullen peoples
Shall weigh your gods and you.

Take up the White Man's burden--
Have done with childish days--
The lightly proferred laurel, (2)
The easy, ungrudged praise.
Comes now, to search your manhood
Through all the thankless years
Cold, edged with dear-bought wisdom,
The judgment of your peers!

The myth of the imperial archive

"Ther eis no doubt that no nation can close its hand around the whole of the world. In that sense an empire is always, at least partly, a fiction. Absolute political control is impossible due to a variety of reasons, such as the lack of information and control in distant parts of the imperial territory. This gap in knowledge (in the symbolic constitution of the empire) and control, was covered over by the fantasy construction of the imperial archive, 'a fantasy of knowledge collected and united in the service of state and empire', In that sense, 'the myth of imperial archive brought together in fantasy what was breaking apart in fact' and was thus shared widely; it even had an impact in policymaking (Richards, 1993: 6). This imperial archive was not a real museum or a real library, it was not a building or a colleciton of texts, but a fantasy pf projected total knowledge: it constituted a 'collectively imagined junction of all that was known or knowable, a fantastic representation of an epistemologial master pattern, a virtual focal point for the heterogeneous local knowledge of metropolis and empire' (Richards, 1993: 11). In this utopian space, disorder was transformed to order, heterogeneity to homogeneity and lack of political control and information to an imaginary empire of knowledge and power."

Yannis Stavrakakis, Lacan and the Political, 1999, pp. 81-82

Chomsky on imperialism

The fact of the matter is that there is no War on Terror. It's a minor consideration. So invading Iraq and taking control of the world's energy resources was way more important than the threat of terror. The U.S. invaded Iraq because it has enormous oil resources, mostly untapped, and it's right in the heart of the world's energy system. Which means that if the U.S. manages to control Iraq, it extends enormously its strategic power, what Zbigniew Brzezinski calls its critical leverage over Europe and Asia. In 2004, John Kerry ran a campaign based on the slogan that the war in Iraq was "distracting" the U.S. from its ability to fight the "global war on terror." This became a slogan that a section of the liberal-left was more than happy to adopt as its own. Because the unspoken aim of liberals and many leaders of antiwar organizations in 2006 is to elect a Democratic Congress in November, we have seen the consolidation of liberal critics of the Bush administration behind Democratic talking points. Unfortunately, in 2006, history appears to be repeating itself.

A fantastic resource for definitions

This is a great glossary that I just stumbled across:

from the columbia electronic encyclopedia

Early Empires

Evidence of the existence of empires dates back to the dawn of written history in Egypt and in Mesopotamia, where local rulers extended their realms by conquering other states and holding them, when possible, in a state of subjection or semisubjection. An early, highly organized empire was that of Assyria, which was succeeded by the even more integrated Persian Empire.

Ancient imperialism reached its climax under the long-enduring Roman Empire, the eastern part of which lasted until late into the Middle Ages as the Byzantine Empire. In Western Europe no true empire arose to replace Rome; the Holy Roman Empire, despite the aspirations of its rulers, was little more than a confederation of princely states. However, imperialism remained an important historical force elsewhere. In the Middle East and North Africa the Arabs and later the Turks built large empires. Farther east, besides the huge, if unstable, empires of the nomadic Mongols and others arising out of Central Asia, there were long-lasting and complex imperial organizations exemplified by various Chinese dynasties.
Classic Imperialism

Imperialism was reborn in the West with the emergence of the modern nation-state and the age of exploration and discovery. It is to this modern type of empire building that the term imperialism is quite often restricted. Colonies were established not only in more or less sparsely inhabited places where there were few or no highly integrated native states (e.g., North America and Africa) but also in lands where ancient civilizations and states existed (e.g., India, Malaya, Indonesia, and the Inca lands of South America). The emigration of European settlers to people the Western Hemisphere and Africa, known as colonization, was marked by the same attitude of assumed superiority on the part of the newcomers toward the native populations that prevailed where the Europeans merely took over control without large-scale settlements.

From the 15th to the 17th cent. the Portuguese and the Dutch built "trading empires" in Africa and the East for the exploitation of the resources and commerce with lands already developed. The Spanish and Portuguese established important colonies in the New World in the 16th and 17th cents., hoping to exploit the mineral wealth of the lands they conquered. The British and French imperialists became the foremost exemplars of colonial settlement in Africa and the East. Acting on mercantilist principles (see mercantilism), the European nations in the 18th cent. attempted to regulate the trade of their colonies in the interests of the mother country. Later, the increase of manufactures in the Industrial Revolution introduced a new form of imperialism, as industrial nations scrambled both for markets and for raw materials.

The eastward spread of Russia after the 16th cent. and the westward spread of the United States may also be termed imperialistic, although the United States did not actually acquire colonial possessions until the Spanish-American War. In the late 19th cent. Italy, Germany, and Japan also developed imperial ambitions; these nations, like the older colonial powers, were moved by a variety of aims, including commercial penetration, military glory, and diplomatic advantage.

At its best, European imperialism brought economic expansion and new standards of official administration and public health to subject countries; at its worst, it meant brutal exploitation and dehumanization. In every instance, however, the pressure of an alien culture, with its different values and religious beliefs, and the imposition of new forms of social organization meant the breakdown of traditional forms of life and the disruption of native civilization.

At the end of the 19th cent. there was a strong reaction against the most inhumane forms of imperialist exploitation. Efforts were made to improve the standards of colonial administration; and a new justification of the rule of non-Europeans by the European powers was found in the idea of "the white man's burden," which advanced the notion that the developed nations of Europe had a duty to rule Asians and Africans in order to lead them to a higher level of civilization and culture. Among the leading critics of imperialism at that time were the Marxists, who saw imperialism as the ultimate stage of capitalism and made much of the connection between imperialist rivalries and war.

After World War I, anti-imperialist feeling grew rapidly throughout the world, sparked by the development of movements for national liberation within subject countries. Nevertheless the major colonialist powers, Great Britain, France, and others, held on to their colonies, while Fascist governments in Italy and Germany, as well as militarist opinion in Japan, fostered even more extreme imperialist aims.

In the years since World War II, most of the countries once subject to Western control have achieved independence. Much of the contemporary debate centers on the issue of neo-imperialism. Many of the less developed countries contend that their economic development is largely controlled and seriously retarded by the developed countries, both through unfair trading practices and by a lack of controls over international business corporations.

See R. Robinson and J. Gallagher, Africa and the Victorians (1961, repr. 1965); G. Lichtheim, Imperialism (1970); K. E. Boulding and T. Mukerjee, ed., Economic Imperialism (1972); L. S. Feuer, Imperialism and the Anti-Imperialistic Mind (1989); J. N. Pieterse, Empire and Emancipation (1989).

The Imperial Archive

Hey everyone!

This is the imperial archive, a GDI clearinghouse about all things international influence.

While I can't promise that I will keep anything updated, this is a way in which both people who attended the lecture and people who wish they did (which, obviously, covers everyone who has ever lived) can access the information given during this lecture.