The American Empire and the Struggle for Human Liberation

Glen T. Martin


What must it have been like living during the end-times of the Roman Empire?  Wars and so-called barbarian invasions were everywhere.  The economy was in a shambles and ordinary people were becoming more and more desperate.  Bizarre and crazy opinions spread widely among the population, making it ever more difficult to defend rationality and common sense.  Some of these extremists had taken over government and the military.  Education was in a shambles, the sense of community and decency disintegrated, fear and mistrust were everywhere, and people felt a deep sense of foreboding concerning the future.

Today, foreboding concerning the future has been magnified to the nth degree.  For the ecosystem of our planet and the survival of humanity are both clearly at stake.  The Empire endeavors to extend its tentacles, becoming ever more irrational and dangerous, while the peoples of Earth long for freedom, survival, and a new beginning.

After World War Two, top secret planners in the U.S. government understood that the U.S. was the world’s sole remaining superpower.  As Noam Chomsky points out, they spoke of the “grand area” under U.S. military and economic hegemony that could be used by transnational investors to maximize profits through exploiting the cheap resources and labor of subject peoples.[i] Soon, these planners had to contend with the Soviet Union, which had developed countervailing nuclear weapons systems to rival U.S. control of the means of mass destruction over the rest of the world.

But to many in Washington this was a great boon.  The fantasy of a worldwide Communist conspiracy bent on destroying freedom and imposing “a Marxist-Leninist dungeon” on the world served as a perfect cover for militarily and economically extending a brutal, U.S. centered, system of domination throughout South Asia, Africa, and Latin America.  As Michael Parenti points out, democratically elected governments that attempted economic reform were overthrown or subverted in dozens of countries, while dictatorships that opened their people up to capitalist exploitation were supported with weapons and training, and while military attacks were mounted against “Vietnam, the Dominican Republic, North Korea, Laos, Cambodia, Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, Libya, Iraq, and Somalia, sowing varying degrees of death and destruction.”[ii]

The Project for the New American Century (PNAC) group, who came to power in Washington under the George W. Bush regime, openly planned for a military and economic empire encompassing the entire planet, now that the “Soviet threat” had disintegrated.  Whether they were behind the attacks of 9/11 or not, their plan clearly benefited tremendously from these attacks. The aftermath of these attacks allowed them to impose an ever-greater national security state on the U.S., slashing constitutional liberties and instituting a 1984-like systematic surveillance of American citizens. The aftermath of these attacks also allowed them to invade Afghanistan and Iraq, to establish ever-more military bases in the former Soviet satellite countries, to destroy the independent regime in Libya, to create AFRICOM to militarily control Africa (countering the large-scale Chinese investments there), and to refurbish their military encirclement of Latin America to counter rebellious movements against U.S. corporate and military domination.

The advocates of empire have rushed to place the recent revolutions in technology into the service of their system of domination, building an air force of deadly pilotless drones to patrol the skies of victim peoples around the world, and fielding high tech “special forces” in dozens of countries to assassinate and disappear any who appear to them as “enemy combatants” against the darkness of their totalitarian, global empire.  They have spent hundreds of billions of dollars attempting to militarize space in order to control the entire planet with impunity. They refer to space as “the ultimate high ground,” which they openly intend to control unilaterally, preventing all other nations from placing weapons in space. They have spent hundreds of billions in attempting to create anti-ballistic missile shields, which, as Russian President Putin pointed out in his 2008 Munich speech, would give the U.S. the power of preemptive nuclear strike against any other nuclear weapons possessing nation.

But empire has its costs, immense costs, to human beings and the progress of civilization. The Roman Empire came at the destruction of the Roman Republic, and the American Empire has come at the cost of the American Republic, as Chalmers Johnson and others have pointed out.[iii] The empire in the service of the unfettered domination of transnational corporations over the planet has resulted in economic implosions worldwide.  Human needs today are met even less than they were under the more regulated capitalist regime that existed in the U.S. after the New Deal. Hundreds of millions struggle in hideous slums, in nearly every large city on Earth, with their most basic necessities unfulfilled. The giant banking cartels have prevailed, with their system of debt-money making all governments beholden to them and placing the peoples of Earth into massive debt, an entirely unnecessary system of totalitarian control over the fate of the Earth, as Ellen Brown has made clear.[iv]  

The ideals of democracy everywhere have become a joke, mere empty forms and useless elections of pre-chosen candidates who represent corporate wealth and the industrial-military forces behind the empire.  The population at the center of the empire is subjected to the most intense propaganda through the corporate news media and Pentagon strategists, for it is their opinion that could change the course of history. The opinion of peoples on the periphery of empire is relatively useless for changing their situation of domination. The Arab spring takes place, and already the immense resources of the empire are directed toward those countries, manipulating and undermining the desire for true democracy with propaganda, disinformation, and assassinations.  The entire idea of an Arab spring is coopted to allow the destruction of Libya, which had long been a critic of U.S. imperialism and a defender of an independent African Union.

But the empire will not prevail. The Project for the New American Century will fail, in spite of the immense devastation and suffering it continues to cause around the world.  The ideals of democracy and freedom are not limited to their flawed embodiments within existing Constitutional systems.  These ideals are fundamental to the human spirit, to a human spirit of reason, intelligence, and the potential for perpetual growth in maturity, wisdom, freedom, and justice. Even those distorted by greed, the lust for power, or mindless militarism have this potential within them. Everywhere in the world, in every country, there are people who struggle, in the name of our common dignity and humanity, against the darkness of the empire.

Concerned and decent people struggle as well at the heart of the empire, in the belly of the beast, within the U.S., or within the lackey nations that have aligned themselves with empire, such as Great Britain. Recently they have experienced resurgence in the form of the Occupy Wall Street movement, but the struggle of decent, thoughtful people goes back in history for centuries. Everywhere on Earth people have struggled on behalf of human dignity and the progress of civilization. They are not only struggling for the future, but for what is right, for what is highest and most dignified in every human being in the here and now.

Worldwide, people are engaged in local struggles for a decent life for themselves and their children: for human rights, freedom, democratic governance, environmental protection, decent housing, healthcare, education, clean water, and sanitation. They struggle, in other words, for their right to flourish as human beings, the right to live with opportunities to actualize their human potential, to pursue the life-possibilities that make individual human lives more meaningful.  We all ultimately understand that this is what life should be about: living on Earth within a sustainable environment that provides every person with the opportunities to flourish as a human being.

But none of this can happen unless we transcend our myriad local struggles and join together in solidarity as human beings. Implicit in the democratic ideal arising from our common humanity is a global solidarity with every other human being. Solidarity means that we see the necessity of a global order that provides freedom, prosperity, and opportunity to every person, not only within my country or my culture.

This cannot happen within a fragmented world disorder of some 192 militarized “sovereign” nation-states. It is this world disorder that is loved by the denizens of empire. For they can divide and conquer. They can economically destabilize entire nations and then force “structural adjustment” programs on them that cause immense suffering to the people, as they have done in dozens of locations worldwide. They can exacerbate ethnic hatred as they did within the former Yugoslavia in order to prepare the way for their bombing and destruction of that country.  They can establish camps for terrorist butchers in one lackey state, as they did in Honduras during the 1980s, and send them across the border to torture, rape, and maim the victim population who have rebelled against the empire, as they did in Nicaragua.  They can blockade and starve an entire nation economically, like they have done to Cuba since 1962, and no other nation will dare come to Cuba’s aid for fear of similar treatment. 

Human liberation, as a civilized system of democracy that provides the opportunity for every person to flourish, can only come about if we transcend the features of the world that lend themselves to empire.  We must get rid of debt-based economics, that makes nations beholden to the giant banking cartels. We must get rid of sovereign, militarized states, because these fragment the world into hostile units lending themselves to domination by a central power, while exacerbating secrecy, distrust and arms races everywhere on Earth. 

We do not want to eliminate the variety of nations, cultures, religions, languages, and perspectives in the world. Such diversity is wonderful and gives rise to thousands of beautiful ways of authentic human flourishing.  But the absolute, militarized borders, and the ability of the World Bank and IMF to force the economic conditions of empire onto isolated countries, cannot endure.  These are the very building blocks of empire. How do we protect human diversity, freedom, dignity, and humanity without supporting the mechanisms of empire and domination?

The answer is simple, clear, and compelling. Human liberation requires that we join together under a democratic Constitution for the Federation of Earth that protects the freedom and diversity of peoples everywhere. The Constitution establishes a comprehensive economic and legal framework for genuine human flourishing for the people of Earth.  Nations become political units within the Earth Federation, each with a voice, along with another voice for its people, according to population.  Two bills of rights for all persons on Earth protect human flourishing, and democratically legislated laws, enforceable by civilian police, now bring freedom, peace, and justice to our planet. 

All militaries are abolished, and all design, financing, or production of military weapons is prohibited by enforceable law.  With the advanced technology now attempting to militarize space and robotize surveillance and control over people everywhere, the only option we have for freedom is to legally abolish all such uses of technology. Today, the worldwide Earth Federation Movement supports the ratification of the Constitution for the Federation of Earth, bringing civilized human flourishing to our endangered planet for the first time in history.[v]

The human spirit will prevail: the spirit of freedom, reason, diversity, compassion, and solidarity. But we are in a race against time, since the empire is intent on closing the doors of freedom on the Earth forever.  Our solidarity with others struggling for freedom throughout the globe must transcend a merely empathic sense of oneness to become a concrete, actual solidarity that can make an effective difference.  We need to embrace together the Earth Constitution, and by doing so bring humankind to the next step in planetary consciousness and human civilization.  We must all join together in the name of planetary democracy, and establish a common framework for free human flourishing for all persons.  Only in this way can we abolish the empire, and the threat of empire, forever from the Earth.

[i]  What Uncle Sam Really Wants, Odonian Press, 1996.

[ii] Against Empire, 1995, and The Face of Imperialism, Paradigm Publishers, 2011.

[iii] Nemisis: The Last Days of the American Republic, Metropolitan Books, 2006.

[iv] Web of Debt, Third Millennium Press. 2007.

[v] See,, or