As we approach the elections of 2004, U.S. progressives are faced with the challenge of how to confront our unresponsive and apparently untouchable power structures. With millions of antiwar demonstrators glibly dismissed as a “focus group,” and with the collapse of political and intellectual dialogue into slogans and soundbites used to stifle protest—“Support the Troops,” “We Are the Greatest Nation on Earth,” etc.—many people feel cynical and hopeless.
Citizens of the Empire probes into the sense of disempowerment that has resulted from the Left’s inability to halt the violent and repressive course of post-9/11 U.S. policy. In this passionate and personal exploration of what it means to be a citizen of the world’s most powerful, affluent and militarized nation in an era of imperial expansion, Jensen offers a potent antidote to despair over the future of democracy.
In a plainspoken analysis of the dominant political rhetoric—which is intentionally crafted to depress political discourse and activism—Jensen reveals the contradictions and falsehoods of prevailing myths, using common-sense analogies that provide the reader with a clear-thinking rebuttal and a way to move forward with progressive political work and discussions.
With an ethical framework that integrates political, intellectual and emotional responses to the disheartening events of the past two years, Jensen examines the ways in which society has been led to this point and offers renewed hope for constructive engagement.
Robert Jensen is a professor of media law, ethics and politics at the University of Texas, Austin. He is the author of Writing Dissent: Taking Radical Ideas from the Margins to the Mainstream, among other books. He also writes for popular media, and his opinion and analytical pieces on foreign policy, politics and race have appeared in papers and magazines throughout the United States.
"Robert Jensen does more than challenge us to think and feel --he also encourages us to transform our lives. While Citizens of the Empire provides cogent information and analysis, the book also offers real clarity about the emotional imperatives of coming to terms with grim aspects of the status quo. At the same time that he demolishes media myths about the "war on terrorism," Jensen takes apart key mechanisms of propaganda, militarism and convenient illusions. Midway through the first decade of the 21st century, this book will jolt readers into a truer reckoning with their own beliefs and capabilities. Jensen makes a powerful case that we can stop being passive spectators and start being active co-creators of history. Citizens of the Empire is a book of realism and hope -- a strong antidote to the poisons of conformity and despair." -- Norman Solomon, Co-author, Target Iraq: What the News Media Didn't Tell You, Executive Director, Institute for Public Accuracy