Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Another footnote to the history of British-American Imperialism

The power of nation-states seems almost universally to end in the oppression of individuals. Take, for instance, the stunning recent revelations concerning an island paradise of Diego Garcia, located in the Indian Ocean. I won't bother recapping the entire story -- for that, the Guardian's version will do. But in a nutshell, this story reveals a secret 1967 deal that gave America a land that didn't belong to it, and saw Britain terrorise the island's entire population in order to "clear" it for the American military. All this happened with the collusion of the highest powers in both countries, and was not fully revealed until 2000. Even then, both the English and American sides ignored the growing outcry of the dispossessed as America continued (and continues) using the island as a launch point for the Iraq War.

From a Christian point of view, the nations exist to preserve some sort of social order, some sort of safety. The Christian Right -- and I have to say many political "liberal" Christians as well -- have taken the biblical writers' very pragmatic outlook on nations amiss. They have suberverted it with the very mistaken idea that because the nations exist, the nations are therefore sacred institutions in their own right.

Nowhere is this sacralization of nations clearer, in my opinion, than in looking at America, Britain, and a few of the more vociferous Islamic states. But the latter cannot hold a candle in modern times to what Anglo-American interests have done, and are doing, around the globe.

I am not a wise enough man to uncompress the maze of historic, theological, psychological, and sociological forces behind the pseudo-sacredness of the modern nation-state. But this false messiah continues to compete with biblical Christianity, and its handiwork continues to be the destruction of weaker nations, villages, families, and individuals.

If one wants a candidate for the Antichrist, look no further than to the Imperialistic nation-states. They play the role to perfection.

I'd love to see a Tim LaHaye-like End Times novel along those lines. Well, maybe not LaHaye... Where's our evangelical version of Salmon Rushdie when we need him?


Lainie Petersen said...

Check your email, Jon. I sent you a link to something in the "Left Behind" industry that you ought to find interesting.

But as much as I don't like certain aspects of Anglo-American imperialism, the philosophers and leaders of the UK and the US have given us feminism something that Islamic states lack.

I'm all for being critical of nations, but I fail to see how, in the grand scheme of things, the US and Britain are "worse" than Islamic states.

Jon Trott said...

Good point, Lainie, when considering the nations' internal oppression of women. For those of a female gender, living in/under an Islamic nation is doubtless a rougher row to hoe than living in America. But what I am speaking to is those most successful at imperialism -- the aggressive behavior toward other, smaller nations. In modern times, most Islamic nations have had little to no luck at imperialism -- witness Saddam's attacks upon neighbors and the eventual results. By contrast, it was said not all that long ago that "the sun never sets on the British flag." Substitute "American flag" -- our interests, military bases and such -- and that saying might still fit.

A deeper discussion might be on American feminism's failure (or maybe limited success?) in addressing the complex web of issues facing women of the 3/4 world. But if you want to start that off, you'll have to... because I'm just not boned up enough on it at present. And I am also not into beating up on feminists, who already serve as punching bags for Rush Limbaugh and other whoopee cushions of the Right.

steve said...


US imperialistic support of tyrants who make the islamic states seem like havens of human rights might be a thing to consider. We imperialists, like Mafia Dons and global capitalists do not ... poop where we eat, so to speak. But poop we do.