The home was the quintessential bourgeois world, for in it, and only in it, could the problems and contradictions of his society be forgotten or artificially eliminated. Here and here alone the bourgeois and even more the petty bourgeois family could maintain the illusions of a harmonious, hierarchic happiness, surrounded by the material artifacts which demonstrated it and made it possible, the dream-life which found its culminating expression in the domestic ritual systematically developed for this purpose, the celebration of Christmas. The Christmas dinner (celebrated by Dickens), the Christmas tree (invented in Germany, but rapidly acclimatised through royal patronage in England), the Christmas song -- best known through the Germanic Stille Nacht -- symbolised at one and the same time the cold of the outside world, the warmth of the family circle within, and the contrast between the two. 
The most immediate impression of the bourgeois interior of the mid-century is overcrowding and concealment, a mass of objects, more often than not disguised by drapes, cushions, cloths and wallpapers, and always, whatever their nature, elaborated. No picture without a gilded, a fretted, a chased, even a velvet-colored frame, no seat without upholstery or cover, no piece of textile without tassel, no piece of wood without some touch of the lathe, no surface without some cloth or object on it. This was no doubt a sign of wealth and status: the beautiful austerity of Biedermayer interiors had reflected the straitness of Germanic provincial bourgeois finances more than their innate taste, and the furnishings of servants' rooms in the bourgeois houses were bleak enough. Objects express their cost and, at a time when most domestic ones were still produced largely by manual crafts, elaboration was largely an index of cost together with expensive materials. Cost also brought comfort, which was therefore visible as well as experienced. Yet objects were more than merely utilitarian or symbols of status and achievement. They had value in themselves as expressions of personality, as both the program me and the reality of bourgeois life, even as transformers of man. In the home all these were expressed and concentrated. Hence the internal accumulations. 
Its objects, like the houses which contained them, were solid, a term used, characteristically, as the highest praise for a business enterprise. They were made to last, and they did. At the same time they must express the higher the higher and spiritual aspirations of life through their beauty, unless the represented these aspirations by their very existence, as did books and musical instruments, which remained surprisingly functional in design, apart from fairly minor surface flourishes, or unless they belonged to the realm of pure utility such as kitchenware and luggage. Beauty meant decoration, since the mere constructions of the houses of the bourgeoisie or the objects which furnished them was seldom sufficiently grandiose to offer spiritual and moral sustenance in itself, as the great railways and steamships did. Their outsides remained functional; it was only their insides, in so far as the belonged to the bourgeois world like the newly devised Pullman sleeping-cars (1865) and the first-class steamer saloons and state-rooms, which had décor. Beauty therefore meant decoration, something applied to the surface of objects. 
This duality between solidity and beauty thus expressed a sharp division between the material and the ideal, the bodily and the spiritual, highly typical of the bourgeois world; yet spirit and ideal in it depended on matter, and could be expressed only through matter, or at least through the money which could buy it. Nothing was more spiritual than music, but the characteristic form in which it entered the bourgeois home was the piano, and exceedingly large, elaborate and expensive apparatus, even when reduced, for the benefit of a more modest stratum aspiring to true bourgeois values, to the more manageable dimensions of the upright (pianino). No bourgeois interior was complete without it; no bourgeois daughter, but was obliged to practise endless scales upon it.    
- Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Capital: 1848-1875, p. 270-272 


Perhaps the most militant and active AWC [Arab Women's Committee] branch was located in Haifa, Palestine's most industrialized city and home to the largest concentration of Arab workers. Several reports describe women (including AWC members), accompanied by children and "street Arabs," or shabab (young men), forcing shopkeepers in the Haifa suq to observe commercial strikes declared by the rebel movement. On occasion female strike enforcers were arrested and charged with "intimidating" merchants and smashing shop windows. The leading AWC figure in Haifa was Sadij Nassar, wife of the editor-owner of the newspaper al-Karmil, Najib Nassar, and a professional journalist in her own right. Sadij Nassar's name crops up frequently in the British archival record, as organizer and participant in street demonstrations and as a strike monitor. Nassar was also involved in the AWC's extensive welfare projects with families of prisoners and victims of the disturbances. In 1939 the mandate government placed her under administrative detention (without formal charges or trial) for nine months; she was the only Palestinian woman to be so interned during the revolt. The authorities reportedly had come to regard Nassar's newspaper articles as "incendiary" and the marches she organized as "more virulent and dangerous." 
- Ted Swedenburg, Memories of Revolt: The 1936-39 Rebellion and the Palestinian National Past


In origin, Socrates belonged to the lowest class: Socrates was plebs. We know, we can still see for ourselves, how ugly he was. But ugliness, in itself an objection, is among the Greeks almost a refutation. Was Socrates a Greek at all? Ugliness is often enough the expression of a development that has been crossed, thwarted by crossing. Or it appears as declining development. The anthropologists among the criminologists tell us that the typical criminal is ugly: monstrum in fronte, monstrum in animo. [“monster in face, monster in soul”] But the criminal is a decadent. Was Socrates a typical criminal? At least that would not be contradicted by the famous judgment of the physiognomist which sounded so offensive to the friends of Socrates. A foreigner who knew about faces once passed through Athens and told Socrates to his face that he was a monstrum — that he harbored in himself all the bad vices and appetites. And Socrates merely answered: "You know me, sir!" 
— Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols (1889)

“I don’t think it’s going too far to compare him to someone like Socrates or Plato, who were interested in truth. He also does another thing that Socrates did, which was to use the opponent’s own assumptions and presuppositions to then deconstruct them and show that they are, in fact, invalid. And Colbert does that better than anyone I’ve seen in this generation.”
— “Is Stephen Colbert the New Socrates,” (July 11, 2012) 

If we look closely at discussions about these themes — Socrates, Socraticism, irony and maieutic — we will become aware of a pseudo-problem which is constantly cropping up. It consists of asking oneself whether Socrates actually held the ideas which have subsequently been attributed to him (him of whom we know nothing) after century upon century of transportations and interpretations. Sceptics like to see him as a perpetual doubter, and nothing but a doubter. Value philosophers find, a posteriori, that he was the instigator of value philosophers; while partisans of rational and logical concepts praise him as the inventor of the concept, formally categorized as such. For some, Socrates was the righter of wrongs, the ‘guardian of pure intellectuality’, and consequently the leading apolitical or antipolitical figure of his time. But equally one can maintain that ‘after Socrates politics becomes the jewel in philosophy’s crown’. Pedagogue? Corruptor of the young? Creator of philosophy as distinct from poetry, religion, politics, art — or antiphilosopher who refuted ontologies? ‘Solo dancer to the glory of God’? ‘Tragic hero’ (Kierkegaard)? Or purveyor of antitragic rationalism, harbinger of decadence (Nietzsche)? And what should we think of his ‘daemon’? God or devil? Soul or spirit? Genius of revolt, Promethean spirit? Inspired by the arcanum of mysticism? Religiosity or rationalism? Introversion or communication? Spiritiuality or rhetoric in the service of an ill-defined social practice? Birth of consciousness or death of spontaneity? Dreamer? Sophist? Ideologue? Philistine roué? Rake? Pure hero? Of Socrates everything can be said. 
— Henri Lefebvre, Introduction to Modernity (1962)  

What Stewart and Colbert do most nights is convert civic villainy into disposable laughs. They prefer Horatian satire to Juvenalian, and thus treat the ills of modern media and politics as matters of folly, not concerted evil. Rather than targeting the obscene cruelties borne of greed and fostered by apathy, they harp on a rogues’ gallery of hypocrites familiar to anyone with a TiVo or a functioning memory. Wit, exaggeration, and gentle mockery trump ridicule and invective. The goal is to mollify people, not incite them. 
— Steve Almond, “The Jokes on You,” The Baffler No. 20 (2012)


In memory of Michel-Rolph Trouillot
Thus the writer rises out of his national environment and gains universal significance.
- Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism  
First reading Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History last year I immediately appreciated the lucidity of Trouillot's prose in his call to hear what is silenced. Trouillot's work follows and expands on the history-from-below work of British Marxist historians like E.P. Thompson and the critical work of the Subaltern Studies group. In fact, Trouillot cites Subaltern Studies historian, Ranajit Guha along with Marx and Hayden White in the first half of his book. Turning to Trouillot's theoretical forebears before considering his excavation of Sans Souci, I think it is important to consider the form of Trouillot's history book. A relatively slim volume, Silencing the Past is not an exhaustive catalog of all the lost voices of the Haitian revolution--the lost humans of history--but rather, a critical intervention in the narrative. Tremendously conscious of the role narrative structure can play in any understanding of history, Trouillot's conversational style and his intercalary personal reflections serve to buttress the principle that permeates throughout his narration, the importance of context. The precariousness of memory, the unreliability of narrators, the curation of archives—oh my!—human history must be understood as a human creation if it is to be 'useful' (here I mean 'useful' in the context of a use-value determined by an ethical program in opposition to the present neoliberal capitalist order, lest you think I mean 'useful' as in 'profitable'). Such is an especially difficult task in many of the realms where history rears its powerful head. In the production of nationalist narratives of triumph and conquest, in the manufacture of racial difference and identity binaries, history can take the form of myth. 
In Gillo Pontecorvo's 1969 film Burn!, José Dolores, the indigenous resistance leader, is killed when landed capitalist collaborators usurp the anti-colonial struggle and his rebellion is crushed. I am reminded of Burn! by the story of Sans Souci. Pontecorvo's Dolores is hanged by the state, Trouillot's Souci, the person, is murdered by the rising monarch, the reactionary, the traitor to the revolution. The two Sans Souci ("without concerns" in French) palaces, one in Milot (Henry Christophe's) and the other in Potsdam (Fredrick the Great's), are the intriguing and posthumous reminders of a lost voice. As Trouillot struggles with the 'silenced' archives to resurrect the story of Souci (the person), the Haitian revolution is reimagined. That is to say, the common narrative of colonizer versus colonized begins to collapse as Haitian history is seen for what it is: tragic, hopeful, multifarious, heterogeneous, and unfinished. During the production of Burn!, following concerns that Franco's government would ban the film, the colonial power in the narrative was changed from the Spanish to the Portuguese (despite the fact that the Portuguese never held colonies in the Caribbean), a further reminder that the representation of history is fraught with ideological contestation.   
Trouillot's consideration of how the Haitian revolution was silenced in its present moment (and beyond of course, "ghosts that are best left undisturbed") by Western recorders compels me to reflect on our own present moment. It is apparent that if you surrender to the historical unconsciousness that dominates our present society's sense of itself (i.e. "American Exceptionalism") you are absolved from resisting the present; empty, homogenous time renders resistance futile. In the consciousness of the 'mainstream', Occupy Wall Street is a 'lost cause.' Nonetheless, other narratives are written and published on blogs, on Twitter, and by independent presses, including this narrative here. The rebellion continues because there is no mystical power that consolidates and erases with totality, and certainly no cabal or conspiracy (though, undoubtedly, an oligarchy), but there is human agency and hope. Trouillot's book is a powerful indictment of history, but one must not forget the potentially subversive power of history as well. In his narration of the San Domingo Revolution, The Black Jacobins, C.L.R. James did not just write an exquisite history (despite its silences) of Toussaint L'Overture's struggle, of the Caribbean, of modernity and transnationalism, but also a call for global revolution. 


"Warrior" Jean-Michel Basquiat
The massacre of the whites was a tragedy; not for the whites. For these old slave-owners, those who burnt a little powder in the arse of a Negro, who buried him alive for insects to eat, who were well treated by Toussaint, and who, as soon as they got the chance, began their old cruelties again; for these there is no need to waste one tear or one drop of ink. The tragedy was for the blacks and the Mulattoes. It was not policy but revenge, and revenge has no place in politics. The whites were no longer to be feared, and such purposeless massacres degrade and brutalize a population, especially one which was just beginning as a nation and had had so bitter a past. The people did not want it--all they wanted was freedom, and independence seemed to promise that. Christophe and other generals strongly disapproved. Had the British and the Americans thrown their weight on the side of humanity, Dessalines might have been curbed. As it was Haiti suffered terribly from the resulting isolation. Whites were banished from Haiti for generations, and the unfortunate country, ruined economically, its population lacking in social culture, had its inevitable difficulties doubled by this massacre. That the new nation survived at all is forever to its credit for if the Haitians thought that imperialism was finished with them, they were mistaken. 
- C.L.R. James, The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L'Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution (1938)

"Occupied Port-au-Prince, Haiti (February 2010)" Andrew Newton 
The speed with which these decontextualized images then circulate across many linguistic and national frontiers has increased dramatically with the globalization of mass culture, reinforcing the quasi-universal perception of Haiti as a place of abuse, violence, and lawlessness. In Derrida’s terms, a false ontology of “presence” has been created, one that mimics the real but only succeeds in offering the illusion of transparency and the erroneous understanding of Haiti as pure chaos and mere surface. As Laënnec Hurbon has put it, Haiti is a site of “fantasmic tropes” that have served to justify the US occupation of 1915–34 or the intervention during the Clinton years in the 1990s (1994–95) against the Aristide regime, and that continue today to undermine the “quest for the expression of human dignity and liberty.” These tropes construct Haiti as a paradoxical object, fascinating, haunting, and repulsive, but also “spectacular” and desirable: on the one hand, a commodity with no real value, clad in ridicule or made abject, and of no interest to potential consumers; on the other, a highly coveted exotic colonial space with magical practices that have inspired artists, writers, and filmmakers – and indeed what could be more mesmerizing than Vodou rituals and zombies as numerous horror films have shown.
- Françoise Lionnet,  "Postcolonialism, language, and the visual: By way of Haiti" (2008)

"Clermelle: Sea God" Hector Hyppolite
David Barsamian: The United States invaded Haiti in 1915 and remained there until 1934. Decades of dictatorship followed. What kind of legacy has that left on Haiti? 
Edwidge Danticat: It had a very potent legacy that we’re still living with today. For example, the whole military structure in Haiti that existed until the early 1990s was put in place by the American occupation. At the top there were Southern white officers, who led an army that crushed the indigenous resistance—the cacos. A high-ranking U.S. officer said when he arrived, “To think these niggers speak French!” Later, Haitian officers attended the notorious School of the Americas at Fort Benning. The threat from the U.S. is something that is always hanging over people’s heads: If we don’t behave, we’ll have occupation again.
- "Edwidge Danticat Interview," The Progressive (2003)


"Meditierender Bosnischer Mohammedaner"by Damir Nikšić

I do think that right now in the United States there is an increasing tendency to regard Islamic cultures or "non-Western"--whatever they mean by that--cultures as barbaric, and so it becomes increasingly important to try to understand the different sorts of violence that come from neocolonial state formations. One can't give a culturalist explanation for intra-Iraqi violence for instance, but one has to situate those conflicts within larger global economic and political forms of hegemony. The U.S. imagines that it stands for both culture and civilization, and yet it cannot explain its own cruelty and torture within this self-definition. Thus it casts the violence it cannot explain as the nascent cultural violence of Arab cultures or Islam, even as it periodically invokes a doctrine of tolerance toward this same "Other." Here is a notion of the "Other" one must clearly 
work to dismantle. 
The post of postcolonial does not mean that the colonial is "over"; it means that one has to chart the formations of its enduring and animated aftermath. The culturalist deformation of Islam refuses to consider the colonial histories that continue to operate in that region, so we need a new way of thinking about both temporality and spatiality to do this. And that is clearly part of what postcolonial studies has done for contemporary cultural theory. We have to be able to think a history that remains animated in and through its ruins. 
- Judith Butler, "Accounting for a Philosophic Itinerary: Genealogies of Power and Ethics of Nonviolence," in Politics of Culture and the Spirit of Critique: Dialogues. (2011)

Saadat Hasan Manto
Many, perhaps most, human societies have used or still use, in differing ways and circumstances, substances which offer those who adopt them temporary access to an extraordinary set of experiences. Temporary escapes from history (partial or total) is an unavoidable ingredient in human history. But the degree of control which each culture--naturally in addition to the individuals who compose them--exercises over these substances varies greatly, and is only in part explainable by a pharmacological analysis of their effects. On each occasion a cultural component, a filter, also intervenes, although how it functions it functions largely eludes us. Why, one may ask, have alcoholic beverages with which, for better or worse, European societies have learned to live in the course of a few millennia (in the case of wine) or only a few centuries (with distilled liquors) had such a destructive effect in just a few decades in the native cultures of North America? 
This is an obvious example. I mention it here because it permits me to introduce an extraordinary passage from a report which the French Jesuit Paul de Brebeuf sent in 1636 to the provincial of his order to inform him of events occurring that year in the Quebec mission. One of the members had explained to the natives (the report naturally calls them "sauvages" [savages]) that their high mortality rate was caused by the wines and liquors, which they did not know how to consume in moderation. "Why do you not write to your great King," one of the natives asked, "to prohibit the transporting of these beverages which are killing us?" "The French," the Jesuit answered, "need them to help them stand the sea voyages and the freezing temperatures of these places." "Well, then," the other said, "arrange that they be the only ones to drink them." At this point, a second native stood up: "No, it is not these beverages which kill us, it is your writings. As soon as you started to describe our country, our rivers, our lands, our forests, we all began to die, in a way that was not happening before you came." 
- Carlo Ginzburg, "The Europeans Discover (or Rediscover) the Shamans," in Threads and Traces: True, False, Fictive. (2012)

Walter Benjamin 


Counter-narrative 1, Ranaldo reppin 

“This is the very first time since Kiryat Shmona was established that the city was in the news not because of the connection with missiles, attacks and war, but football,” he said.

The team’s rise can largely be traced to one man — Izzy Sheratzky, a millionaire from Tel Aviv who made his money in Global Positioning System devices that help track stolen cars and who founded the club 10 years ago.

Sheratzky, a native Israeli, began investing heavily in Kiryat Shmona after being moved by images of its being pounded by Katyusha rockets 13 years ago. Eventually, he decided to buy two local clubs and merge them with a dream of taking his new team to the highest level of European soccer.

“In 1999, I saw the wars and the Katyushas and many bombs,” he said in an interview last Saturday an hour before his team took the field. “Many people left Kiryat Shmona. The situation was very bad. There was no work and there was the bombs. I decided to take care of Kiryat Shmona and to help them.”
James Montague, "Small City Is Home to Israel’s Unlikely Top Team," The New York Times [1/25/2012]

Counter-narrative 2, Nabulsi kids play soccer

The Lebanese-Israeli frontier is also used to assist in cultivating national pride. In March 2000, it was already quite clear that the Israeli army were soon going to withdraw from Lebanon. At the beginning of that month al-Aakha al-Nasira, the team from Nazereth, hosted ha-Po'el Be-er Sheva'. Nazereth led the game 2:1, but in the ninetieth minute a Be'er Sheva' player scored a goal with his hand/ The Jewish referee, Arik Haymovich, at first confirmed the goal, and gave a shower of fruit and bottles thrown by the infuriated audience. After a minute the line referee that, from his angle saw clearly that the goal was scored by hand, which caused Haymovich to cancel the goal. 'Awawde links the events of this game to the fights between the IDF and the Shi'ite Lebanese guerrilla militia, Hizballah. The material thrown at the referee is likened to th Katyusha missiles Hizballah launched over the Israeli border city, Kiryt Shmona:
Arik Haymovich remembered Kiryat Shmona and its missiles and asked for a real peace process. The borders of the Nazareth team refused the agreement that he wrote and took back their legal rights, which are recognized by the [Israeli Footbal] Association and by the refrying rules. Nazareth fans have drawn the map of rights.
Further, 'Awawde said of Be'er Sheva' players and the team manager, Eli Gino: "Gino thought that he is the Maginot line in the Association, and ha-Po'el Be'er Sheva' players wanted to rob  the legitimate and real rights." In this text, Nazareth fans are compared to Hizballah warriors and Be'er Sheva' players are the state's representatives who surrender only after being hit by missiles.
- Tamir Sorek, Arab Soccer in a Jewish State: The Integrative Enclave [2007]


George Cruikshank, "The Radical's Arm's" [1819]

It was never easy to grasp the present as history, since vitally by definition the manuals all stopped and were printed a year or two earlier in time, but a politically conscious collectivity can keep itself up-to-date by a ceaseless multiple or hydra-headed scrutiny of and commentary on the latest unexpected peripety. Today, however, collectivity in that form has been drawn back inside the media, leaving us as individuals bereft even of the feeling of being alone and individual. The occasional flash of historical understanding that may strike the "current situation" will thus happen by the well-nigh postmodern (and spatial) mode of the recombination of separate columns in the newspaper: and it is this spatial operation that we continue to call (using older temporal language) historical thinking or analysis. The Alaska oil spill thus sits cheek by jowl with the latest Israeli bombing or search-and-destroy mission in southern Lebanon, or follows closely on it heels in the segmentation of television news. The two events activate altogether different and unrelated zones of reference and associative fields, not least because within the stereotypical planetarium of current "objective spirit," Alaska is on some other side of the physical and spiritual globe from the "war-torn Middle East." No introspective examination of our personal history, but no inspection of the various objective histories either (filed under Exxon, Alaska, Israel, Lebanon), would in itself be enough to disclose the dialectical interrelatedness of all these things, whose legendary Ur-episode can be found in the Suez War, which determined the building of larger and larger oil tankers to circumnavigate the Cape of Good Hope, on the one hand, with its sequel, on the other, in 1967, a sequel that fixed the political geography of the Middle Wast in violence and misery for more than a generation. What I want to argue is that the tracing of such common "origins" -- henceforth evidently indispensable for what we normally think of as concreter historical understanding -- is no longer exactly a temporal or genealogical operation in the sense if older logics of historicity or causality. The "solution" to a juxtaposition -- Alaska, Lebanon -- that is not yet even a puzzle until it is solved -- Nasser and Suez! -- no longer opens up historiographic deep space or perspectival temporality of the type of a Michelet or a Spengler: it lights up like a nodal circuit in a slot machine (and thus foreshadows a computer-game historiography of the future even more alarming). 
- Fredric Jameson, Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism [1989]
So what I try to do -- whether successfully or not, I can't tell -- what I try to do is, in the re-creation of the work or the interpretation of the work, dramatize and present the circumstances -- I mean the political circumstances, the historical circumstances, cultural circumstances, idealogical circumstances -- and try to make the work more interesting as a result without reducing it. I mean, it's  much easier to see this in the rereadings of texts for me or in the restating and reconceiving of musical works, because there you can actively intervene to point the work in a particular direction, to stress certain things, to connect, as I tried to do with Jane Austen, some of the problematic aspects of her tacit endorsement of slavery, not at all to blame her but to connect her to an emancipatory strain of interpretation that comes after her with West Indian writers themselves. To read her along with C.L.R. James, along with the history of colonialism, the history of slavery and so on, trying to reunderstand that history, which in the case of her novels, is occluded or at best marginal. So, that's what I try to do. It's very hard, but it seems to be the most interesting thing about the criticism and interpretation of great works of art. 
- Edward Said, "The Panic of the Visual: A Conversation with Edward W. Said" [1998]

Louis Caravaque, "Peter the Great at the Battle of Poltava"

Goethe did not come to the fore until the 1870s, after the establishment of the Empire, at a time when Germany was on the lookout for monumental representatives of national prestige. The chief milestones are as follows: the foundation of the Goethe Society under the aegis of German princes; the Weimar edition of his works, under princely patronage; the establishment of the imperialist image of Goethe in the German universities. But despite the never-ending flood of literature produced by Goethe scholars, the bourgeoisie has never been able to make more than a limited use of his genius, to say nothing of the question of how far they understood his intentions. His whole work abounds in reservations about them. And if he founded a great literature among them, he did so with face averted. Nor did he ever enjoy anything like the success that his genius merited; in fact he declined to do so. And this was so as to pursue his purpose of giving the ideas that inspired him the form which has enabled them to resist their dissolution at the hands of the bourgeoisie, a resistance made possible because they remained without effect and not because they could be deformed or trivialized. Goethe’s intransigence towards the cast of mind of the average bourgeois and hence a new view of his work acquired a new relevance with the repudiation of Naturalism. The Neo-Romantics (Stefan George, Hugo von Hofmannsthal and Rudolph Borchardt), the last bourgeois poets of any distinction to attempt to rescue bourgeois ideology, if only on the plane of culture and under the patronage of the enfeebled feudal authorities, provided a new important stimulus to Goethe scholarship (Konrad Burdach, Georg Simmel, Friedrich Gundolf). Their work was above all concerned with the exploration of the works and the style of Goethe’s last phase, which nineteenth century scholars had ignored.
- Walter Benjamin "Goethe: The Reluctant Bourgeois" [1928]
In Western thought, Montesquieu shifted the debate about empire and imperium when he asked about the possibilities of a republic being an empire. Alexander Hamilton answered this question when he noted that republicanism ‘‘need not stop America from becoming a true empire.’’ Hamilton then went on to say that this ‘‘true empire . . . is able to dictate the terms of the connection between the old world and the new.’’ It therefore seems to me that if we think about power and empire, about the deep connections between Roman political thought and the genealogy of the political languages of the West, then we would want to ask questions about current modes of power and stability, about how the so-called political man of Aristotle translates itself into empire and what that empire looks like: an empire based on a certain kind of sovereign order that attempts to regulate human life. Or, as Cicero might ask, How does one create a society in which you have a single, joint community of gods and men? 
The repertoire of power and empire is obviously conquest, but it includes ‘‘civilization,’’ and civilization is always about how to create ways of life. Empire is a project of violence and death that intends to create another form of life. This is extremely important, because thinking historically, we see how the European colonial empires functioned, and we should draw some insights: empires conquer, kill, and carry out genocide, but they also seek to create new forms of life, because empires need to create new kinds of subjects. 
This impulse, which became highly developed in colonial modernity, is now a central one in our new configuration of power. Thus, domination, in our present moment, is really about creating forms of life under the banner of an ‘‘empire of liberty.’’ There is present in this form of domination a double articulation. If we live within the matrices of language, then how does liberty become a form of domination? How is it captured and made naturalized and then transformed? 
-  Anthony Bogues, "Imagination, Politics, and Utopia: Confronting the Present" [2006]