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Refusing Empire, telling a new story

One of the main goals of the functionaries of Empire is to bring everything and everyone into the imperial system. Totalization is, in fact, the motivating impulse behind Empire.

Empire has a remarkable ability to assimilate threats to the system. Protest movements turn into think tanks. Rebels become a marketing segment. Empire will validate your criticism as a healthy expression of free speech and award you with a position guaranteed to shut you up by paying you off.

Vote, we’re told. Write to your representatives. Attend peaceful protests. Stay current with the news. These are the bounds of acceptable behavior for those unsatisfied with the world. Bounds set by Empire itself. The one thing you must not do is disengage. That is irresponsible and lazy and tacitly hands power over to whomever is today’s enemy.

Why does Empire insist on our investment in their system? Because it legitimizes it. Because it makes us (insignificant) characters in the story Empire tells about the world. Nothing pleases the functionaries of Empire more than to see people raging—from all points on the political spectrum—about today’s news because those people are fighting the wars of Empire on terms set by Empire.

What do I have to do with Empire? What are their concerns to me?

Empire is just a story. Constitutions, economic systems, legal systems—these are not the laws of nature but institutions created by the powerful to preserve and expand their own power. We believe this story because it is the only one we’ve ever heard, or allowed ourselves to hear.

What if we refused the imperial story and told our own? What if we were impractical utopians who practiced alternative modes of living? I don’t know if it would change a damn thing and I have no idea what the future will be like. I do know, however, that the imperial story is becoming less believable every day. Now is the time for new stories.

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