The End of Empire
I asked my students today if they would rather have the Egyptian pyramids and the practice of slavery; or no pyramids, and no slavery? They didn’t know. So, I asked them if they would rather have the privileges of property ownership and African slavery, or no privileges and no slavery? They didn’t know (I have few African Americans in my class). For those of us who enjoy social privileges, this is a hard question. But we face an even more difficult question today. Would you rather have the next empire (Chinese?) and the destruction of the planet, or the end of empire and the preservation of the planet? The end of empire; could that be an option? We have the Roman Empire, the British Empire, and the US Empire. We also have other Empires, such as the Mayan and Aztec Empires. Now, we face the rise of the Chinese Empire or at least the Chinese century. The simple truth is that the planet cannot tolerate another empire. It is over. We must find another way of living together.
Can we do this? Can we end the systemic drive toward empire? I don’t know. I do believe that it is not determined. We have choices. At the same time, I also see that the current trends are strong and moving forward. It is a strong wind. Our only chance, it seems to me, is to tell the truth instead of telling what sells. We must abandon marketing strategies, even the marketing of old ideas like the American Dream, and develop good civic arguments for moving toward a future for all.
This may seem idealistic, but that is only true for those who have not been paying attention. Nothing is more realistic today—especially in terms of our future—than good civic arguments.
We cannot afford another empire. We must develop alternative economics—an economics of provision—if we want to pass on a healthy planet to our grandchildren.