Enablers of Empire
Every imperial system needs a specialized class of collaborators and informants. As Edward Said pointed out, a group of scholars and cultural workers gave gravitas and legitimacy to European conquests of centuries past. They were the instruments and the enablers of empire. Knowledge and power intersected with the former subordinated to the latter. Today, with the U.S. as the imperial hegemon, a new class of intellectuals has emerged but the techniques are the same. Complex arguments and new jargon obfuscate the realty of aggression and domination. They advance as Michael Ignatieff does in one New York Times article after another, rationales for state policies. The sugar coating and veneer of politesse provides solace to doubters. After all these are the best and the brightest, trained at the finest schools. They must know something we don’t.
Interview by David Barsamian.
Recorded at Harvard.
Tariq Ali, an internationally renowned writer and activist, was born in Lahore, Pakistan. For many years he has been based in London where he is an editor of New Left Review. A charismatic speaker, he is in great demand all over the world. In his spare time, he is a filmmaker, playwright, and novelist. He is the author of many books including The Clash of Fundamentalisms, Pirates of the Caribbean, Speaking of Empire & Resistance with David Barsamian, The Duel: Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power, The Obama Syndrome, The Extreme Centre and The Forty-Year War in Afghanistan: A Chronicle Foretold.