America is not an empire – yet it has colonies…

01 Feb

Always amusing when the mask slips.

Found the following surprising illustration from 1900 at the Strange Maps blog; originially, it was in a children’s book, “The Navy Alphabet”, written by Frank Baum, who also wrote “The Wizard of Oz”:

From an illustrated book by L. Frank Baum, of Wizard of Oz fame.

Surprising indeed to see someone back then admit to (and celebrate) what many knew, but few admitted – and what neo-conservatives today, still don’t admit – that America is an empire, complete with colonies…

Today, of course, Hawaii has become a state while Cuba and the Philippines have become independent.  However, Guam and Puerto Rico are yet neither independent nor fully incorporated into the United States, as states…

Mark Twain, of course, famously criticized America for more or less taking over the Philippines, Cuba, and Puerto Rico, following the Spanish-American War.  He dreamed up, sarcastically, a pirate flag for the conquered Philippines:

And as for the flag for the Philippine Province, it is easily arranged. We can have a special one – our States do it: we can have just our usual flag, with the white stripes painted black and the stars replaced by the skull and cross-bones.

Since then, people have created such a flag:

Mark Twain’s satirical suggestion for a Philippine flag, following its capture by America

I’m sure Twain would be pleased, to see that some people, at least, have carried on his anti-imperialist tradition.


Posted by on February 1, 2012 in America


20 responses to “America is not an empire – yet it has colonies…

  1. Carnivore

    February 1, 2012 at 7:36 am

    Hmmm – do you really think back then there was any aversion to calling them ‘colonies’? Maybe ‘protectorates’?

    As for today, unfortunately, I’d say the majority of my landsmen (not just neo-cons) don’t admit that our nation is a global spanning empire and that the military and foreign bribes (aid) are contributing to our fiscal downfall.

  2. Cranberry

    February 1, 2012 at 10:09 am

    All empires eventually over-reach their grasp, and America is no different. The decay begins within, at home, and bleeds over into its other territories.

    I wonder, though, whether or not Puerto Rico would relish true independence from any connection with the United States.

  3. Rusty Shackleford

    February 1, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    Funn enough, we are really bad at running an empire. Instead of making the colonies send us resources, it’s the other way around. One could make the case that it’s a big scheme to keep the oil flowing into America, but I don’t really believe that (why are we in Korea/Europe/etc.?). No, our empire is built in order to enrich a very small group at the cost of rest of the taxpayers, and that group could care less about what other resources are lost.

  4. Will S.

    February 1, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    @ Carnivore: Well, maybe it depends on the person in question. Certainly, ‘protectorate’ has always been a preferential term, in the minds of those who don’t want to admit they’re a colonial power…

    @ Cranberry: Indeed, all empires eventually fall.

    I suppose Puerto Rico doesn’t really want independence, nor Guam, else they’d have agitated for it by now. PR also doesn’t seem to want statehood, either (don’t know about Guam, don’t think anyone has ever seriously considered that possibility, the way people have discussed it for PR)…

    @ Rusty: That’s because America is hampered by the need to pretend to be about freedom and democracy, etc.; the British had no such constraints, back in the day; nor did the Mongols, or any of the older, pre-20th century empires. They could all show their naked ambition, and rule their subjects ruthlessly, if need be.

  5. Will S.

    November 9, 2012 at 11:02 am

  6. jb

    December 6, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    The American Empire is internal. Its chief conquered subjects are white Americans. The external stuff mostly flows from this reality and is just a sideshow.

  7. Will S.

    February 9, 2016 at 1:02 pm

    Thing is, though, from the conquered territories flow wealth to the heartland, in terms of preferential business treatment, etc.

    It isn’t just a sideshow to us foreigners in the American orbit.


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