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Two-fisted Alfred McCoy

Program #MCCA006-MCCA005.

First Program - The Decline of U.S. Global Power

What’s the shelf life of empires? Decades, maybe centuries. All things come to an end. Recall Shelley’s great poem Ozymandias about the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses the Great and his seemingly invincible kingdom. Ozymandias was Greek for Ramses.

I met a traveller from an antique land, /Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone/ Stand in the desert. And on the pedestal, these words appear/ My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;/ Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!/ Nothing beside remains. Round the decay/ Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare/ The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

There is virtually uniform elite opinion that the U.S. is not an imperialist empire. Washington will not willingly concede its global superpower position. But remember the omnipotent British Empire? Where is it today?

Second Program - The United States of Surveillance

The telescreens in Orwell's "1984" monitoring Winston Smith are crude devices compared to 21st century technology but they make the point. Big Brother is watching your every move. Today, the weapons of surveillance in the hands of state agencies have grown enormously in scope and sophistication. Basic rights are in jeopardy. Invasions of privacy such as warrentless wiretapping, intercepting cell phone messages and reading email are increasing. When those electronic interventions don't work there are always the old reliable agent provocateurs, framing and planting of evidence. In fighting the so-called war on terror, surveillance is one of the biggest growth industries in the United States. There are always new threats. Turn the cameras on and your liberties off.

Speaker(s):

Alfred McCoy

Alfred McCoy is professor of history at the University of Wisconsin. He is the author of the classic The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade. For Closer than Brothers, his pioneering book on the impact of CIA torture on the Philippine military, he was awarded the Goodman Prize. He is also the author of A Question of Torture and Policing America's Empire.

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