We should call it the “Washingtonian Empire…”

… at least according to Social Memory Complex. Our communities are more and more like a conquered territory, conquered by our Washingtonian rulers.

But it’s not just that Washingtonians rule over an overseas empire; it’s that domestic U.S. territory is increasingly treated as part of the conquered territory, rather than as the source of state legitimacy. Sure, we have elected representatives we send to D.C. from all over the country, but experience shows that only in the rarest of occasions do they not adopt the Beltway outlook of going along to get along with the system. Instead, they “play the game” to bring home as much of the spoils of empire (taxation and government contracts for further imperialism) as possible. In the process, they cease to represent their constituents in D.C., preferring to represent the Washingtonian agenda in their respective localities. They become little Paul Brehmers, advocating policies that promote the more effective rule of the domestic and foreign empire. They measure success in terms of how they can coax or coerce the locals into compliance with necessarily foreign interests.

If it is policies in Washington, D.C. that are changing this country into an empire, it is inaccurate to label the empire “American”. Clearly, the vast majority of Americans are not participating in it, but are merely “preferred subjects” in territory as occupied as that in Iraq and Afghanistan. We are magnanimously allowed to have self-rule to the extent that it does not conflict substantively with the imperial agenda, similar to Palestine under Roman (and, arguably, Israeli) control – indeed the organization of states, congressional districts, counties, etc. constitute a ready-made hierarchy for imperial governance. D.C. can even be quite generous in granting autonomy once the locals internalize the imperial identity and start seeing themselves as citizens of the empire. But all of our local governing institutions are as enmeshed in federal money and authority as the Iraqis’.

If the decision-making bureaucracy, military might, and economic clout are all based in Washington, doesn’t it make sense to call this system the Washingtonian empire, rather than conflating it with the disenfranchised subjects in the fifty states?

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