This is a blog about a cultural response to living in the US empire. Last Fall, I threw in my lot with artists and performers who’d formed a small group in Brooklyn in support of Occupy Wall Street. Our group got named the Brooklyn Culture Jammers, and because there was a pre-existing group called Move For Change, we’re an amalgamated group now.
Nobody would care about what we thought about the world and the Occupy Movement, but on March 18, I performed a short play about Occupy called HOW TO STOP THE EMPIRE WHILE KEEPING YOUR DAY JOB. It took off and got a following. And our group is now touring this play along with one about Monsanto and genetically engineered food called A GOOD DAY TO PIE, which was based on a group called the Biotic Baking Brigade and their ‘pie attack’ on the CEO of Monsanto. And I’ve revived an old play of mine called A CLOWN, A HAMMER, A BOMB, AND GOD. This is based on the actions of Father Carl Kabat–on Good Friday 1994 (which fell on April Fool’s day), Kabat dressed as a clown and broke into a missile base in North Dakota, where he proceeded to disable a Minuteman missile by hammering the silo rail shut. Kabat is part of the Plowshares movement of activists who disarm weapons of mass destruction in obedience to Isaiah’s entreaty to ‘turn swords into Plowshares’. My partner in this effort, Kathleen Stansell, is also creating dance pieces about Monsanto and the changes in the food supply.
So this blog goes on until 1) the Occupy movement burns out; or 2) the Empire falls; or 3) nobody cares what we think anymore.
The Empire brings good things to life, like toasters and nuclear bombs. We can’t have our i-pod without the trappings of imperialism, note the way Apple makes its suppliers work hard in Asia, and digs up rare earth metals in Africa or where else.
Empires burn out, they don’t fade away, and this current empire will not just fade away with a more loving and mature socio-political economic system in its place with everyone focusing on community over competition, in a local manner. To achieve the lifestyle we lived before industrialization requires junking all the stuff wrought by empire, as you can’t have your toaster and i-phone without nuclear weapons and wage slavery.
Those Pollyannas who think we can enjoy developed world goods and services (which also include fresh running water, central heating, refrigerators, sewage and garbage removal, widespread available food for cheap, true security, healthcare, freedom, etc.) without an imperial footprint are dreaming. For each and every positive aspect enjoyed by the minority living in the developed world, there is an equal and opposite affect suffered upon those living in the undeveloped world. The empire makes the majority of the world suffer, absorbing the awful waste and pollution of the manufacturing we shipped over seas, while getting paid prison-style wages, like $1 per day.
Those who say the modern day lifestyle is better under the empire obviously are part of the minority who do benefit from it. But ask the many more around the world whose 150 countries the US garrisons its troops in and they will tell you the empire is bad for them. Even just recently inb history, Americans were slaughtering all the Native Americans and enslaving millions of Native Africans. We, along with Europe, colonized the southern hemisphere, which is basically stay-at-home-slavery, where the indigenous peoples had to dig up their own back yards for the northerners.
Prior to the industrial revolution that powered the great boon that is the current empire, the whole world was more even in living standards, and until the period comes when the empire burns out, there will just be growing inequality. Eventually the empire bubble will burst, and those on top will fall the furthest.
To follow up on the post above, I would like to say that Dan’s idea of how to stop the empire while keeping your day job is excellent and very well put in his performance. Indeed, I drive a diesel F-350 farm truck, and every time a fill it up with fuel I kill someone in the Middle East. I feel very bad about that.
We can not undermine the system that supports our way of life until we replace it with one we control. We cannot just strike work on the left and boycott products on the right hoping to bring down the system — that’s like rioting in our own neighborhoods — but we sure could shrink the empire the way Dan talks about doing: buy less crap, work less. Dan may be referring to Bertrand Russel’s story about a pin factory in his essay “In Praise of Idleness.” It’s worth reading through: http://www.zpub.com/notes/idle.html
The Neo-Cons talk about shrinking our government — we should shrink their empire in return! Let’s shrink the empire, as it is the ultimate in government overreach! We’re Off To Shrink The Empire/ The Government Of The World!