Home > Uncategorized > Paranoia and Superiority, the Twin Symptoms of Neo-Imperialist BS

Paranoia and Superiority, the Twin Symptoms of Neo-Imperialist BS

Imperial overstretch, also known as Imperial overreach, is a hypothesis which suggests that an empire can extend itself beyond its ability to maintain or expand its military and economiccommitments. The idea was popularised by Yale University historian Paul Kennedy in his 1987 book The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers.

An Overstretched Empire feels the pressure of its own inadequacies from all directions.  Thus, it feels that it’s always the Strongest, and yet never Strong enough.  The Overstretch causes a kind of internal bipolar self-identity, from which it views the rest of the world as inferior and yet simultaneously with great fear.

The Duality of Imperial Overstretch compels a true empire to continue to seek the source of its inadequacies to control/destroy them, endlessly, like a compulsive obsessive mental basket case, even when it is apparent to itself that such efforts are pointless and counterproductive.

Why?  Because to acknowledge its true bipolarity of inadequacies, is to acknowledge that both its identities are false and morally unsustainable.

The true identity of a nation is usually that it is no more exceptional than any other nation, all subject to rise and fall of history’s whims.

It is this humble reality, that the West failed to learn when its Imperialist era collapses, because they barely acknowledged the falseness of their 1 bipolar imperialist identity, the STRONG ego, but desperately clung onto the other Paranoid fear of not strong enough through the Era of the Cold War.

Thus, when the Cold War passed, the strong EGO identity returned with a vengeance.

The West “won” the Cold War.  They were Superior again!  And still simultaneously paranoid again!!  Bipolar, Neo-Imperialist, AGAIN!

No more evident of such bipolarity is in the 1980’s US fear of Japan’s rise of economic power, and today’s fear of China’s resurgence.  In public and in private, the West simultaneous fear and ridicule the rise of the “other”.

No more evident of such is in the coverage of China in the Western media, where similar sets of facts can mean completely opposite things.

For example, if a bunch of protests occur in China, depending on the situation, it can be interpreted (or reinterpreted) as either that (1) the Chinese government is completely losing control of its population, or that (2) the Chinese government is brutally and inhumanely efficient in controlling its population (planned protests).

Another example, by above example, it can be interpreted (or reinterpreted) as either that (1) the Chinese people yearn to be “free” and cannot be controlled, or that (2) the Chinese people are mindless “drones” so easily controlled.

How can 2 completely opposite conclusions be concluded from the similar sets of facts by the Western media??

Because they depend on which bipolar neo-Imperialist identity is looking at the facts.

Consequently, how the West reacts to the rest of the World is either of Paternalistic Condescension (along with denigrating “conditions” attached), or Militant threats.

There is no balance in this.  No Smart or Balanced hard power vs. soft power.  It is just two sides of the same Imperialist “value”.

The trouble with dealing with such Bipolar Psychopathic powers is, No one, not even the Empires, can predict which side will be in charge in the next minute.

 

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  1. September 28th, 2012 at 17:22 | #1

    if a bunch of protests occur in China, depending on the situation, it can be interpreted (or reinterpreted) as either that (1) the Chinese government is completely losing control of its population, or that (2) the Chinese government is brutally and inhumanely efficient in controlling its population (planned protests).

    it can be interpreted (or reinterpreted) as either that (1) the Chinese people yearn to be “free” and cannot be controlled, or that (2) the Chinese people are mindless “drones” so easily controlled.

    For some time we have read about the tens of thousands of protest (regarding land and corruption typically) and somehow that is a people’s movement. The gov’t better watch out! But when people began protesting against Japan … well, that becomes the government manipulating the people. The people are drones. It’s the government brutally controlling the people and manufacturing protests. (See e.g. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/29/world/asia/china-alters-its-strategy-in-dispute-with-japan.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0)

    Truly weird.

    In my view, the people around the world have always been the pawns – for the Western press / elite to use as befit the Western interests.

    Thus when people attack the Libyan embassy, the people are deemed as mobs or terrorists. But when the same people attack the Gaddafi compound, it’s cheered on as a “people’s” uprising.

    You are either denigrated as a mob or terrorists or lauded as the “people” – depending on whether you are a useful or unprofitable pawn to the West.

  2. September 29th, 2012 at 09:30 | #2

    When the Taliban is fighting the Soviet Union, they are called freedom fighters; when they are fighting the US, they are called terrorists.

  3. N.M.Cheung
    September 29th, 2012 at 14:28 | #3

    One symptom of an empire pass its zenith is the overuse of the word exceptional. U.S in the 1950s would never need this word as it’s taken for granted, but today it seems that every politician use this word for mutual self assurance. This does not mean it doen’t has stings which will cause havoc in the world, you have only to ask people in Iraq and Afghanistan.
    The name of this blog is Hidden Harmonies, but there are also hidden realities which I think western audience need to understand. it is often said the China is unscruatable as China is beyond understanding, from today’s NY Times on Japan and China,

    “Western academics were taken aback by the depth of hostility toward Japan among Chinese foreign policy experts. ”

    For a Chinese especially from intelligentsia it was so self evident, but for western readers I would like to spell it out why. Westerners always ask why Chinese has a victimization complex, whether it’s Opium War or Nanking Massacre. They don’t ask why Jews feel certain way toward Germany? Why Native Americans feel aggrieved by genocide? Or African American still feel the aftereffects of slavery? For the masters can’t really empathize with the slaves, but they did have a taste of it by the events of 9-11. Anyone conversant with Chinese history would recognize Japan didn’t just invade China in 1937, or even in 1898 when they took over Taiwan and Diayu Islands. They have been doing it since the 15th century. Every year when the Typhoon season was over and the ocean was quiet, Chinese coast in Eastern China suffer pillages , rapes, kidnappings, and robberies from Japanese pirates. The West only know the Ninja warriors from Kurasawa movies as honorable warriors, we knew otherwise. The West suffered guilt from the dropping of the atom bombs, while most Chinese buried their grievances by their forced friendship from Chinese government. The Chinese government need not forment those protests, but only need to open the lid a little. Chinese students from Hong Kong and Taiwan has been protesting for Diayu Islands since mid 1970s.

  4. William
    September 30th, 2012 at 05:58 | #4

    Fantastic and very straightforward argument. Bravo!

  5. September 30th, 2012 at 09:08 | #5

    @N.M.Cheung

    No offense to the Americans here, but 9/11, or even Pearl Harbor do not even come close to the type of occupations & humiliations suffered by the groups you mentioned. The Americans’ closest equivalent was the sacking of Washington DC during the War of 1812, even that was a temporary and passing loss.

  6. no-name
    October 7th, 2012 at 23:01 | #6

    Samuel Huntington (who passed away in 2008) stated that the west triumphed by exploiting its superiority in applying organized violence and forging double standards into universal pretensions (snippets from his quotations). This could be the reason why the west feels it is naturally superior and incapable of committing any wrong.

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