Imperialism and Us

February 24, 2023 by Joshua
in Relationships

What is imperialism?

Imagine two cultures. One lives within the means of its environment—that is, sustainably. The other lives beyond its means—that is, unsustainably.

The sustainable culture will live in abundance. Being sustainable means it isn’t living in scarcity. Everyone must have enough—actually, more than enough, as evidenced through sustaining through periods of drought.

Eventually the unsustainable culture will run out of resources. If it keeps to itself, it can die out, or to continue, change to become sustainable. If it doesn’t keep to itself, it may see the sustainable culture’s abundance and covet it. If the unsustainable culture is stronger, say by having a larger population or superior weapons, it may take the materials it covets from the sustainable culture.

This pattern is imperialism. Sustainable cultures never invade unsustainable ones.

Wikipedia describes imperialism as a government entity

the state policy, practice, or advocacy of extending power and dominion, especially by direct territorial acquisition or by gaining political and economic control of other areas, often through employing hard power (economic and military power), but also soft power (cultural and diplomatic power).

but it doesn’t arise out of nowhere. It arises when a needy culture covets what a culture with abundance has and expects to win a conflict.

Common results of imperialism: colonialism and slavery

Imperialism often leads to the imperialist culture invading the other, which is colonialism. Taking material resources often leads to forcing labor, which is slavery.

What drives imperialism

When we think of imperialists in history, we often think of militaries invading. We might think armies and navies drive imperialism, but the soldiers and sailors are being paid, not paying, or were drafted. They didn’t prompt themselves to leave home and risk their lives.

They are being paid by the home market. The people at home drive imperialism.

We represent empire by the invaders, like in Star Wars, but again, the people invading are employees. Emperors and even Darth Vader gets paid from the home market.

We are imperialist

Americans, Europeans, and most of the world are living beyond what our environments can sustain. People elsewhere are living in abundance. We are taking materials from their lands.

Everyone in the home market living unsustainably drives imperialism. Every time, say, someone in England in 1800 bought sugar, tobacco, cocoa, or cotton produced by slaves in colonies, they drove imperialism, colonialism, and slavery. Every time you buy things requiring resources outside your community or that pollute other communities, you’re driving imperialism, colonialism, and slavery. Such things include anything powered by fossil fuels or uranium, which included solar and wind power, or that requires materials outside your community. It includes anything plastic or disposable that goes outside your community when done.

Imperialists live in scarcity

We in our culture consider ourselves living in abundance. Even poor people today have cell phones and things beyond the dreams of past emperors. Our culture looks at people living on under a dollar a day as living in scarcity, which might apply to poor people in our culture, but consider sustainable cultures like the Hadza. They barely have possessions. Our culture sees them as living in scarcity.

Yet we take their land. How can we take from them if we have so much abundance and they have so much scarcity?

What else can we conclude but that our culture is taking from others, not helping them? We can choose to live sustainably or continue being imperialists, at least until we run out of other cultures to take from. Then we will collapse. There’s no mystery what’s happening.

Anyone who thinks we can keep growing forever: why do we keep taking from others and dumping our waste and pollution on them? We depend on them. If we could grow without taking from or dumping on them, show that we can. We never have.

If you live unsustainably, you are driving imperialism. How can you claim otherwise?

If you live unsustainably, you are driving imperialism. How can you claim not to be imperialist? Your lifestyle can’t continue indefinitely.

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1 response to “Imperialism and Us

  1. Pingback: How can you oppose imperialism and live unsustainably? » Joshua Spodek

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