The Imperial Itch

By Mumia Abu-Jamal from death row

The bourgeoisie, by the rapid improvement of all
instruments of production, by the immensely facilitated
means of communication, draws all, even the most
barbarian, nations into civilization. The cheap prices
of its commodities are the heavy artillery with which
*it batters down all Chinese walls*, with which it
forces the barbarians' intensely obstinate hatred of
foreigners to capitulate. It compels all nations, on
pain of extinction, to adopt the bourgeois mode of
production; it compels them to introduce what it calls
civilization into their midst, i.e., to become bourgeois
themselves. In a word *it creates a world after its
own image.*
-- Karl Marx & Frederick Engels,
*The Communist Manifesto* (Chi.: Kerr, 18-19)
(Orig. 1848)

Several weeks ago, I caught an astonishing sight on TV. It
wasn't eye-stopping video, or big set explosions, or an unusually
scantily-clad damsel dancing across the glass window. It was
four men, sitting down discussing, in calm, deliberate terms,
the nature and virtues of the American Empire.

They discussed the cost-benefit of invading this or that
nation; how many troops would be required; how long it
would take to 'pacify' the natives, and the like.

How many casualties? This was discussed mathematically,
with totals rounded off to the next hundred.

Of course, when they spoke of 'casualties', they meant
Americans, for it seemed clear to all concerned, that the
deaths or lives of the sub-imperial 'others', what Germans
in the '30s called, *der unterwenschen*, (or subhumans) were
beneath 'civilized' discussion.

When I sat watching them, I thought that this could've
been a scene out of 19th Century Berlin, when Bismarck
and his other imperial cronies were carving up the world,
like slices of pie, determining, for the next several centuries,
the destinies of billions of people.

It dawned on me that we are truly captured in the midst
of this imperial age.

Wars are fought with the selfish ease of eating a meal.

In the time it takes to blink an eye, politicians turn
on a dime, campaigning for wars on a whim, and moments
later, claiming that the war was 'for the benefit' of those
warred upon!

I am often amazed at how similar such an argument
was in favor of slavery. Tens of millions of Africans
were dragged to the Americas, to toil in feverish hells,
for centuries, 'for their own good.'

And what of the bloody nationalist uprisings raging
across the occupied Iraq? They are "terrorists", we
are assured by the manufactured politicians and their
corporate media. It is but a bit part of this endless
'war against terrorism' that seemingly sparks
'terrorism' where it has not existed before.

After viewing how blithely the Americans (let us
not speak of silly 'coalitions', ok?) have attacked,
occupied, and installed its complacent puppets in
control, is there any wonder why Al-Qaeda is growing
by leaps and bounds, not just in the Arab World, but
in Europe, as well?

In such a state as this, that promised greater loss,
and hardship, and, well, terror, does the upcoming
presidential race look like an exercise in utter futility?
Will it really mean any substantive difference between
what has come before, or mere differences in degree?
What does it really matter, if all that happens is a
'kinder, gentler' imperialism? One which is, well,

I am reminded of the words of Hitler's No. 2,
Hermann Goering, regarding the ease with which wars
are called for by leaders: "Voice or no voice, the
people can always be brought to do the bidding of
the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is
tell them they are being attacked, and denounce
the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing
the country to danger. It works the same in any

The recollections coming from former members
of the White House inner circle, are less surprising
than they were simply obvious: The Bush White
House wanted to wage war against Iraq from Day
One? How shocking!

What would have truly been shocking is if they
hadn't, for then, they would have flown in the
face of 50 years of American post-world War II

What is needed won't, indeed, can't come from
the corporate parties -- it must come from the
people themselves.

Copyright 2024 Mumia Abu-Jamal

**Now known as Akua Njeri, (still a freedom fighter!)

[Mr. Jamal's upcoming work, *WE WANT FREEDOM:
A Life in the Black Panther Party*, will be available
soon from South End Press, Cambridge, MA.


Copyright 2024 Mumia Abu-Jamal

[Mr. Jamal has written widely about war and other issues. His latest work, *Faith of Our Fathers* (Africa World Press, 2024) was named one of "The Most Remarkable Books of 2024" by *Black Issues Book Review* (Nov/Dec '03).]


Mumia Abu-Jamal is also the author of three other books: 'Live from Death Row', 'Death Blossoms', and 'All Things Censored'.

When a cause comes along and you know in your bones that it is just, yet refuse to defend it--at that moment you begin to die. And I have never seen so many corpses walking around talking about justice." - Mumia Abu-Jamal

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Copyright 2024 Mumia Abu-Jamal