The mistake that many liberals in our city make is to believe that we are somehow detached from the destructive stuff of Empire. We are not. We are, in fact, very much in the thick of it. If you drive 40 minutes south, you will reach a major military base; take a short and refreshing ferry ride west, and you cross waters with submarines that can flatten whole cities; drive 40 minutes north, and you will reach a naval station with six destroyers. The Blue Angels and their raw, sky-ripping roars and booms burst a cherished bubble right quick.
You do not live in a utopia ruled by philanthropic billionaires, or enlightened entrepreneurs, or an Innovation Advisory Council that can dissolve all of our problems, including homelessness, with what our "progressive" Mayor Durkan calls "technology solutions.” No, sir. We will have none of those silly (and silly in the original sense of the word) illusions this weekend. We will look to the sky and see those war machines shredding our clouds. And they will tell us what we need to hear all of the time: We live in an Empire.
What the world has never seen or experienced is a capitalist empire that's based solely on the paradise of trucking and exchanging. The first empire of this kind, the Dutch, lost its top position to Great Britain in the 17th century not because its markets were battered by the "heavy artillery [of British] commodities," but its ships were sunk by actual British cannons. And so it is not a surprise that in the second and third lectures of Patrick N. Allitt's The Rise and Fall of the British Empire course mentions the Anglo-Dutch Wars. (For more light on this matter, please read this post—the last post in this series is here.) Professor Allitt also points out at the end of the fourth lecture, "Imperial Beginnings in India," that the Bank of England, the first major capitalist financial institution, was established to make borrowing cheaper for the king's expensive wars. The fifth lecture, "Clive and the Conquest of India," is all about the major battles that lead to Britain's domination of the subcontinent's markets. Trade is an illusion without force.
The US, the third capitalist empire, is no exception. It rose to power after two massive world wars. A nuclear bomb announced its arrival in the summer of 1945. The graveyard of the moment that inaugurated the 74-year history of American power is only a three-and-half hour drive from Seattle. All of the US's major markets are surrounded by its military bases. The Empire's representatives are about to authorize a mindbogglingly $717 billion war budget. That's how expensive capitalism is.
87/97 US Senators voted to create $717 billion public spending on the military and there hasn’t been a query re funding from the media. The psychopathic politicians are deceiving the people and the media either knows or couldn’t care less! #MMT #LearnMMT https://t.co/g051hyuFE1
— James Tapper (@JamesJohnTapper) August 3, 2018
Speaking of growing war spending, it is very interesting that the military budget of China, the new (and possibly next) top capitalist power, is now growing faster than its GDP—8 percent for war; 6.8 percent for the general economy. This is interesting exactly because we have yet to see a global capitalism that's established without bullets, cannonballs, and bombs.
The Blue Angels are only telling us this truth.