American Insurgents: A Brief History of American Anti-Imperialism

American Insurgents: A Brief History of American Anti-Imperialism

Richard Seymour

Language: English

Pages: 230

ISBN: 1608461416

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


All empires spin self-serving myths, and in the US the most potent of these is that America is a force for democracy around the world. Yet there is a tradition of American anti-imperialism that exposes this misleading mythology. American Insurgents is a surprising, revelatory history of anti-imperialism in the United States since the American Revolution. It charts the movements against empire from the Indian Wars and the expansionism of the slave South to the Anti-Imperialist League of Mark Twain and Jane Addams. Seymour crafts a lively and transparent explanation of why some of these movements succeeded and others failed. The result is a vital perspective for those organizing antiwar resistance today.

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Michael T. Heaney and Fabio Rojas, “The Partisan Dynamics of Contention: Demobilization of the Antiwar Movement in the United States, 2007–2009,” Mobilization: An International Journal 16, no. 1 (2011). 51. For insurgent attacks, see Department of Defense, “Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq,” March 2010; on the Mahdi Army, see Richard Seymour, “The Sadrist Revolt,” MR Zine, June 4, 2008; also see Patrick Cockburn, Muqtada al-Sadr and the Fall of Iraq (London: Faber & Faber, 2008).

independent path. Ideally, they would be integrated into the US-led global economy, with their markets opened to investors—though, in the postwar period, investment was increasingly concentrated in the core capitalist economies rather than what came to be called the Third World. This was also the beginning of a “golden age” of capitalism, characterized by an unprecedented period of sustained growth in the core capitalist countries. The anomalously high arms expenditures warranted by Cold War

to do it.”66 The SWP’s activism was dedicated and vital, though not unproblematic—activists accused their cadres of manipulating meetings and of cleaving to a rigid line that brooked no compromise. The major criticism they faced was that their attachment to peaceful mass demonstrations and narrow single-issue approach to the war were inhibiting the development of the movement. Their valid rejection of ultraleftism tended to shade into bolstering the moderating influence of liberals, to the

to compound it. Further, Obama has taken the executive at a most inopportune moment for any imperialist revival to take place. A series of revolutions has shaken America’s most stable allies in the Middle East, that most strategically significant zone. Moreover, the natural sympathy of most Americans with the overthrow of such dictators proved highly inconvenient for those in the administration trying to protect them. We will now conclude this history by turning to Obama’s Middle East crisis, the

1910–1920 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2007); Rodolfo Rocha, The Influence of the Mexican Revolution on the Mexico-Texas Border, 1910–1916 (PhD dissertation, Texas Tech University, 1981). 25. Montgomery, “Workers’ Movements”; LaBotz, “U.S. Socialists”; Norman Caulfield, “Wobblies and Mexican Workers in Mining and Petroleum, 1905–1924,” International Review of Social History 40 (1995); Philip S. Foner, “The IWW and the Black Worker,” Journal of Negro History 55, no. 1 (January

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