Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A seminal series of lectures on the US Empire

Dear friends,

It is really a huge joy for me to share with you something which I recently discovered and which I have come to consider the single most interesting and far-reaching series of lectures I have ever heard. Dr John Marciano's "Empire as a Way of Life" (thanks to C. for introducing me to Marciano's work!)

In the course of Fall 2006 and Spring of 2007, Dr Marciano, Professor Emeritus of the State University of New York at Cortland, taught ten monthly seminars on the topic of the history of the US imperialism and of Empire. These seminars were recorded by the L.A. Sound Posse and the lecture notes were made available to the public by Dr Marciano (both are licensed under the Creative Commons, attribution, non-commercial, share alike, 2.5 license). Each lecture includes a 40 minutes presentation by Dr Marciano followed by a Q&A. In preparation for each session the participants had to read key chapters from a list of books (available here); the main points of these readings were presented in Dr Marciano's presentations.

It is hard for me to refrain from hyperbole in praising these lectures, so I will go ahead and say it as I feel: simply put these lectures are "The Key" (all in caps) to the understanding of the nature of capitalism, the nature of the regime in power in the USA since 1776, the goals and methods of US foreign and domestic policies, the nature of the power structure of the US government and state and the reasons for the US Global Empire. Not only that, Marciano goes where very few before him dared to venture: he looks into the cultural and sociological mechanisms which have made it possible for a clear majority of US citizens to actively support a regime and a set of policies which are clearly diametrically opposed to the values professed by the Founding Fathers of the USA, the US Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. After all, this is one of the key questions which we all need to ask: how is it that a country which is ostensibly democratic in its founding documents is also a global hegemony which is literally constantly at war with the rest of the planet from its foundation in the 18th century to the present day? The other question, of course, is: how can an apparently democratic society end up having to top 1% of the population being richer than the bottom 95%? What is the unifying ideology, worldview and culture which has made this possible?

Dr Marciano breaks all the taboos which carefully and inflexibly channel the political discourse in the USA and he carefully deconstructs every single myth, one by one, which a vast majority of US Americans believe about their country and history. If Howard Zinn wrote a brilliant People's History of the United States, then John Marciano brings together the works of the best historians to analyze the powerful and quasi-unchallenged beliefs which not only influenced but, in fact, determined - and still are determining - the course of US history.

You want to understand why the governments change every 4 years but the US policies are always, always, exactly the same? You want to understand why it is impossible to tell the Republicans and the Democrats apart? You wonder why Presidents like Johnson, Dubya or Obama get elected on a "peace" platform only to dramatically escalate the number of conflicts and wars the US is involved in? The Marciano lectures are what you are looking for.

I have assembled all the recordings made by the L.A. Sound Posse of these lectures into one audio file (in mp3 format) and I have collected all the lecture notes into one PDF file and combined both of these into one zipped file which I have made available for download here (one a server belonging to friends of mine).

As a *backup* option only, I have also made available this file
here and here, however in these free public file hosting servers the download speed is extremely slow. If at all possible, I urge you to use the first link to download the file.

While it might be tempting to use the faster option and just read the lecture notes, I recommend that you listen to the audio of the lectures. First, the notes and audio are somewhat different and, second, the very interesting Q&A at the end of the presentations is missing from the lecture notes. Lastly, the recording is of very good quality and Dr Marciano is a great speaker. Therefore - take the time to listen to these lectures, if at all possible.

I very much hope that you will take the time to listen to these lectures (the total listening time is about 11 hours). I strongly believe that these lectures are really a "must listen to" for anybody struggling with the difficult task of making sense of what the US Empire is doing nowadays, or for anybody interested in history in general, and the history of imperialism in particular.

I was aware of a lot of the things which Dr Marciano brings up, and I had a general sense of these issue, but it was a very powerful experience for me to have it all laid out, piece by piece, into a comprehensive and systematic manner. Listening to these lectures I felt over and over again this "aha!" moment when you know that you are touching a crucial, essential, truth which makes it possible to suddenly clearly understand something.

Friends, this is really great, great stuff and I urge you to download it, listen to it and, most importantly, pass it on.

Resistance to the Empire is not futile - if is, in fact, a moral imperative - but to resist we first need to understand the nature of the regime which we want to defeat. This series of lectures is absolutely crucial for this.

The Saker

PS: I have re-uploaded them all to Mediafire.  Here is the new link to the folder with both the recording and the class notes:


Here is the link to the lectures themselves: (all in one large file)


And here is the link directly to the class notes: