Editor's Note: This article first appeared last Memorial Day here.
By any conventional definition, the United States of America deserves the title of “empire.” The country was built on the conquest of a continent through a series of crushing military victories and squashed rebellions. The regime in Washington, ensconced in its official buildings specifically designed to evoke the glories of Rome, administers territory that stretches across oceans, commands military forces that can project power to every corner of the globe, and annihilates enemies from the heavens without incurring the slightest danger. You can always find greasy democrats and republicans (small d’s and r’s) whining about the cost of maintaining a monarchy, but the Commander in Chief of the Great Republic travels with far more security, expense, and pomp than the Queen of England.
Yet there’s something essential missing from all of this that makes calling America an “empire” seem inappropriate, even an insult to real empires. During the Iraq War, libertarians and paleoconservatives would boast of their opposition to “American Empire,” but it never quite took. The Green Zone was a poor substitute for a Middle Eastern Raj and the farce of America’s Middle East policy in the years following made it hard to pretend Washington was about to impose direct or even indirect rule on the old Abbasid Caliphate.
That could be part of America’s power. After all, the key to power in the modern era is to pretend you have none. People who make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year and are protected by tenure from being fired travel around the country giving lectures on how oppressed and marginalized they are. Hollywood celebrities who experience a lifestyle undreamed of by the most debauched aristocrat campaign for far-Left causes and adopt Third World children as fashion accessories. And politicians and financiers preserve their power by championing and funding ostensibly “egalitarian” movements, less designed to exalt themselves than to degrade any potential competitors.
In turn, America’s foreign policy is a kind of geopolitical dysgenics. Washington’s strongest foreign policy weapon is not the American military but the well-funded “civil society” groups that can be unleashed to foment “nonviolent” revolutions, launch seemingly “spontaneous” protests, and replace “authoritarian” rulers with “democratic” ones crowned through media and financial power. Even as this is written, a planned attempt at regime change is underway in Macedonia. Putin certainly knows the real purpose of “civil society,” which is why he has just banned “undesirable” foreign NGOs from operating in the country and Western media has erupted in fury. After all, if there no longer any American subsidized sexual degenerates and paid “activists” around to wave English language slogans in Red Square, what will Western journalists in Moscow have to report on?
Still, cultural conditioning and technological supremacy can only go so far, and even Washington needs a core of hard men with guns to enforce its writ on those who can’t simply be bought off. And as the draft recedes into distant memory and the American upper classes abandon even the pretense of noblesse oblige towards the United States and its institutions, the nation’s warrior class is increasingly self-selecting, even generational. Military service has become a defining tradition for specific families, rather than a typical stage in a boy’s journey to becoming a man.
Such imperial aesthetics that exist in the United States can be found in the military tradition, from the Marine Corps Drill Team to the Old Guard standing vigil over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier through a hurricane. And the military still offers a path for those who want to be warriors, especially in elite units.
But these are increasing exceptions to a larger push towards utilitarian ugliness and attempts to use the military simply as a social program. Any resistance by the military to the most extreme forms of social liberalism and traditional sexual norms has long since been broken and an effort to essentially replace American veterans in the service with illegal immigrants was only narrowly defeated. Today’s soldiers are educated in “white privilege” and sexual harassment and Christians have already begun fleeing the service in droves. And the structure of the American military is such that when I say “soldiers,” I mean those soldiers, sailors, Airmen, and Marines who actually do something related to the profession of arms, not those who are given awards for being offended online and complaining about it.
When Ramadi fell, many American soldiers exploded in outrage that friends and comrades had died “for” a city that Obama had simply given away those he once called the “J.V. team.” Of course, Ramadi was never “our” city, and any attempt to justify the efforts in Iraq as being for the “Iraqi people” are ridiculous. ISIS is the future Sunni Iraqis chose, and it was our lavishly equipped and trained “Iraqi special forces” that were the first to flee.
What such pleas from America’s veterans really represent are some kind of meaning to be assigned to their sacrifice. Americans generally honor their warriors and are hungry for tales of military heroism, as shown by films such as Lone Survivor and American Sniper. Yet even as the antiwar movement has all but evaporated, almost no one can explain what the purpose of American military intention in Iraq, Afghanistan, or anywhere else really is.
“Support” for the military isn’t really a celebration of authentic patriotism or, as some have charged, “jingoism.” American service members are caught in a foreign policy of nihilism, of sacrifice for sacrifice’s sake, of the best of a society callously sacrificed to defend the worst. Conservatives are mad when Muslim college students and leftists protest American Sniper, but those college students are going to be the policymakers, bureaucrats, and administrators giving orders and setting policy for the Marine Todds of the world a few years from now.
The best that can said of the efforts of America’s servicemen is Nietzsche’s maxim, “Ye say it is the good cause which halloweth even war? I say unto you: it is the good war which halloweth every cause.” Few would call the Iraq and Afghanistan wars “good” wars, but we can find heroism and sacrifice within them worth celebrating. However, the celebration of the military as such and the utter disconnect between the respect paid soldiers and the policies they enforce is a tacit admission by the country that we have no real stake in the success or failure of “the mission.”
In contrast, every real empire, no matter how hypocritical or corrupt, has to have some kind of Ideal or source of authority, some guiding principle for people to look up to. The day this is written, May 24, was once known as Empire Day throughout the British Empire, as cynical, commercial, and hypocritical an empire as ever existed and yet possessing a certain grandeur, purpose, and sense of racial mission. The American pseudo-empire is deracinated and nihilist, with the guiding policy of breaking down once coherent and functional nations into atomistic units to be fed into the global economy like sausage into a grinder. Even the shit-tier propaganda for intervention about fighting for human rights or against Islamic extremism appears absurd when the United States is simultaneously supplying and bombing the Islamic State.
The United States is a Hollow Empire because the institutions and symbols of the state have been deliberately stripped of meaning. In Barack Obama’s America, the real enemy is the nation’s own past, and so appealing to historical memories or symbols to justify sacrifices on behalf of a “common good” is an exercise in insanity. The only thing that keeps the System limping along is a residual sense of a “real America” (read a White America) that conquered the West, landed on the moon, and built the world’s most innovative economy despite the egalitarian poison inherent in the ideology of our flawed Founding. And with each year, fewer and fewer people possess those mystic chords of memory that serve as the foundation of the whole rotten American edifice. Our Hollow Empire, ruling over a continental morass of mutually hostile tribes and at war with its own past and core population, has all the drawbacks of Imperium with none of the benefits.
In geopolitical terms, no progress is possible while the current American regime maintains its power and strength. If Europe ever “woke up,” as it is commonly phrased, the United States would intervene to stop it (as it has done before and is already doing now.) Such a decline is therefore welcome. But we should not deceive ourselves about why so many Millennials oppose what they see as a racist, white supremacist, capitalist American empire. After all, the easiest applause line in the world in front of an audience of SJWs or libertarians is to sneer about “’Merica bombing brown people.”
The collapse of American identity is a natural process and Identitarians should be less concerned with pushing that which is falling than with creating institutions and ideological frameworks which can serve as the basis of a new order. Just as the Roman Catholic Church, in Belloc’s phrase, “saved that which could be saved” of the Western Roman Empire, our responsibility will be to create something that can harness the best of the human capital which can survive the coming wreck.
It is impossible to think veterans won’t play an important part in this effort. But the Dolchstoßlegende that matters isn’t about “losing” Iraq to ISIS, a supposed mortal enemy the American government is largely responsible for creating. It’s about what was once our own country being given away while blood and treasure is wasted in Mesopotamia. It’s about our people being slaughtered at the hands of the very people they are told they are fighting for. And most of all, it’s about a military and government now openly organizing on the principle of anti-White hatred even as it depends on Whites to fight, work, pay, and die for the whole foul System.
This Memorial Day, we remember those European-Americans who died for their country, even though that country has vanished. Or, to be more optimistic on this solemn day, those who died and will be remembered in the nation to come.