Syria: The New Terra Nullius

SYRIA, seat of an Islamic Caliphate. Syria, site of the Middle East’s newest liberal democracy. Syria, socialist paradise. Syria, a corrupt and murderous dictatorship that practices genocide. Syria, a failed state. Syria a state that is too strong. Syria, soon to be partitioned into ethnic enclaves. Syria, a pawn of Iran. Syria, a tool of […]

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Progress, Progressivism, and Progressives

Where does “progress” come from? What does “progressivism” mean? Which cultural tradition and ideological discourse makes “progressive” movements or parties thinkable? Why is it always important to be “moving forward,” as in the now clichéd phrase used by some many US politicians, journalists, and public commentators? When does thinking about “going forward” start to look […]

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What Happened to the American Empire?

Has anything out of the ordinary happened to the US as an imperialist power since the ascent of Trump to office? While the continuities between Trump and his predecessors are considerable, have there been any significant discontinuities that mark the first year of this presidency? Is there any reason to think that the rise of […]

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Privilege: White, American, or Imperial?

To the extent that “white privilege” continues to exist in the US, is it the highest form of privilege? How might a focus on domestic race relations misdirect us from an examination of US society in its proper geopolitical context? Related to the last question: is this introverted, America-centric focus itself a sign of “American privilege”? In practice today the tendency […]

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Donald Trump, Empire, and Globalization: A Reassessment

“Hey, I’m a nationalist and a globalist,” Donald Trump recently declared, “I’m both”. The only way in which the two (seemingly contradictory) positions can be reconciled is by introducing a third term, one that is absent from Trump’s vocabulary: imperialism. Trump might not be conscious of the implication of his statement (nor would he be […]

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Donald Trump vs. Cultural Imperialism

“We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world — but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first. We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone…” ~ Donald Trump, Inaugural Address, January 20, 2017. Yet […]

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Donald Trump and Empire: An Assessment

“There is something unseemly about a nation conducting a foreign policy that involves it in the affairs of most of the nations of the world while its own domestic needs are neglected or postponed, just as there is something unseemly about an individual carrying all the burdens of the Community Chest and the PTA while […]

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Cosmopolitan Imperialism: Obama Does Anthropology in Laos?

“Obama, the cerebral son of an anthropologist”—this is how the Associated Press touted soon to be ex-president Barack Obama on his visit to Laos this week. The AP went even further, declaring Obama’s approach “soft diplomacy”. One has to wonder where all of the “soft diplomacy” was in the seven brutal wars simultaneously fought by […]

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Social Imperialism and New Victorian Identity Politics

Social Imperialism? New Victorianism’s Domestic Moral Code and the Political Economy of Identity Politics “The nation-state in its imperialist guise was the inescapable context within which all political action necessarily took place: it determined the range of possibilities against which the left as much as the right were compelled to define their positions”. (Eley, 1976, […]

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