The Elements of Empire

“The U.N. Security Council,” CNN reports, “approved a resolution that gives regional leaders 45 days to provide specific plans for an international military intervention to oust rebels in northern Mali.” The western African nation, one of the poorest in the world, has been immersed in violence since the end of March, when a group within Mali’s military mutinied, opposing the government of then-President Amadou Toumani Touré.

The commitments of the U.N. are widely considered to be products of careful and measured deliberation, to account for the complexities and interrelationships of regional and global security. The process, it is thought, gives legitimacy to sweeping actions like, for instance, military intervention and regime change.

But the process is a mere simulation from the start, enthralled to the overriding interests of the American Empire and its satellites, lacking in all legitimacy. The Security Council is nothing more than another paternalistic, authoritarian malignancy, a successor to a tradition of empires that stretches as far and wide as the whole history of the state’s attacks on human society for thousands of years.

The suggestions, heard often, that the U.N. has promoted peace, pluralism and opportunities for diplomacy are belied at every turn by the institution’s complicity, indeed active fostering, of a new colonialism.

Colonialism, is it true, has manifested itself differently in its 21st century embodiment than it has in the past. Its hallmarks, however, are as constant, as familiar and unchanged by time, as ever before, with cultural and economic domination just as real.

Market anarchists see empire and subjugation as a piece of the broader picture of statism, of coercive authority over the lives of otherwise free people. We suggest, in its place, a society in which each individual is a sovereign unto herself, with equal freedom among all human beings.

By way of contrast, today’s imperialism is a hollow, insipid American culture of utter corporate mastery that the U.N. helps impose on the world. The “independence,” “self-determination” and “sovereignty” that U.N. apparatchiks bellow about proceed only up to the point where they come into conflict with this globalization, a system of world monopoly for Big Business.

As Professors Peter McLaren and Ramin Farahmandpur forthrightly put it, “In addition to our description of globalization as imperialism, we might add … the submission of internationalist organizations like the United Nations to the social and economic demands of imperialist conquest.” The Security Council in particular acts as a rubber stamp to the interests of the most powerful states, atop of which sits the United States.

Even the briefest glance through the Security Council’s resolutions since the inception of the U.N. confirms that they have served the brutal homogenization of the world under the management of American interests. Governments around the world are jostled into line to be puppets of a very distinct world system, enrolled in international bodies like the IMF and the World Bank.

American military bases become the price of the “economic development” promised by global capitalism. But development it is most certainly not. It is merely the system, like the old mercantile one, whereby favored companies are granted preferential access to land and other resources, wealth stolen under the imprimatur of law.

The free competition that market anarchists advocate for is entirely opposed to that system. The trade we want abides no special, coercive privilege; the society we want countenances no arbitrary, political authority. Our anarchism disapproves of rulers, not necessarily rules.

But even at that, the sovereignty of the individual and the law of equal freedom are guiding principles more than they are rules. Real global stability and peace will spring up only when the world is rid of states. We can start by calling empire and a worldwide system of corporate robbery what they are.

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Organization Theory