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It doesn’t take much imagination.

Here's a pretty old post from the blog archives of Geekery Today; it was written about 15 years ago, in 2009, on the World Wide Web.

Here is Ron Paul, speaking about an occupation.

Imagine an Occupied America

Imagine for a moment that somewhere in the middle of Texas there was a large foreign military base, say Chinese or Russian. Imagine that thousands of armed foreign troops were constantly patrolling American streets in military vehicles. Imagine they were here under the auspices of keeping us safe or promoting democracy or protecting their strategic interests.

Imagine that they operated outside of U.S. law, and that the Constitution did not apply to them. Imagine that every now and then they made mistakes or acted on bad information and accidentally killed or terrorized innocent Americans, including women and children, most of the time with little to no repercussions or consequences. Imagine that they set up checkpoints on our soil and routinely searched and ransacked entire neighborhoods of homes. Imagine if Americans were fearful of these foreign troops and overwhelmingly thought America would be better off without their presence.

Imagine if some Americans were so angry about them being in Texas that they actually joined together to fight them off, in defense of our soil and sovereignty, because leadership in government refused or were unable to do so. Imagine that those Americans were labeled terrorists or insurgents for their defensive actions, and routinely killed or captured and tortured by the foreign troops on our land. Imagine that the occupiers’ attitude was that if they just killed enough Americans, the resistance would stop, but instead, for every American killed, 10 more would take up arms against them, resulting in perpetual bloodshed. Imagine if most of the citizens of the foreign land also wanted these troops to return home. Imagine if they elected a leader who promised to bring them home and put an end to this horror.

Imagine if that leader changed his mind once he took office.

The reality is that our military presence on foreign soil is as offensive to the people that live there as armed Chinese troops would be if they were stationed in Texas. We would not stand for it here, but we have had a globe-straddling empire and a very intrusive foreign policy for decades that incites a lot of hatred and resentment toward us.

— Ron Paul, Antiwar.com (2009-03-10): Imagine an Occupied America. Hyperlinks mine.

That’s one reality. The other reality is all this imagining doesn’t actually take much imagination. The occupation is already here; the uniforms are different, but the practices are the same. The problem here is not us — it is U.S. And if us means you and me and our neighbors, then it’s important to keep in mind that, so long as I have no way of vetoing the acts or withdrawing my material support from projects done on my dime and supposedly in my name, all of us have much more in common with the other victims of Washingtonian command and control than we do with the commanders and controllers.

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7 replies to It doesn’t take much imagination. Use a feed to Follow replies to this article · TrackBack URI

  1. Aster


    If you concur with Ron Paul that the situation is this bad (and I agree with him and with you here), then why do you believe that you have the power to prevent it? Why do you think that your writing and activism- and the writing and activism of others- can make a difference?

    I see little evidence that the average American disapproves of the principles behind this internal occupation, even if the results scare them. What effective spokesperson, leader, group, or institution opposes these trends in essentials and with significant cultural resonance? Paul is a good enough example of what a genuine rebellion against authoritarianism does not look like- and even Paul, a congressperson, hardly had a shade of a real chance.

    I do not believe that hope in discord with reality is a virtue. I doubt you do. What motivates you to fight them?

  2. Sheldon Richman

    I’m reminded of a great slogan I saw on a button years ago: “U.S. Out of North America!”

  3. Nick Manley

    Speaking of an America occupied by stuffy young adult-youth paternalists…


    A teen could get life in prison for photographing themselves. That’s fucking criminal!

    Gee; I wonder if anti-sexualism plays a role here.

  4. Mike

    Funny how people in the US don’t want to think of Iraq or Afghanistan in those terms.

    Bill Maher made a similar point the other night – forget about ending the Iraq war, end WWII and get troops out of Germany, Japan and the hundreds of other countries they are in.

  5. Rad Geek


    I’m not sure what you’re asking. Of course, I don’t personally have the power to prevent much of anything. I’m not aiming to prevent things by writing, much though I might wish I could; rather, I’m aiming to reach people — to persuade, embolden, and provoke conversation with the small group of people who have views similar enough to mine that they might listen seriously to what I have to say; and to inform the much larger group of people who are unlikely to ever believe anything like what I believe, at least, that the view exists and that people are willing to seriously defend it. I do this with a certain amount of hope, for historical reasons and reasons of contemporary trends, which we can discuss if you want to. (I certainly don’t think police brutality, for example, is anything new; and in fact I think that some aspects of the problem, though awful, are not nearly as bad as they were 30, 60, or 90 years ago; and that we are today significantly closer to a serious struggle against police violence than we have been at any time in history since the development of professional policing. As awful as government policing is today, I think it’s a serious mistake to treat the matter as something that’s getting systematically, steadily, or unequivocally worse.)

    And while I, personally, don’t have the power to change much of anything other than, perhaps, a few minds, I do think that there is hope for a lot of people to work together in many different ways to check and to reverse the situation that we do face today. Who’s working on it now? Well, there are lots of organizations that are working on trying to reform or ameliorate their way out of the problem (the ACLU; November Coalition; DRCNet; et al.); far fewer that are opposing it root-and-branch (CopWatch and related anarchist efforts are about it, as far as I know). That’s too bad, but it’s not a reason for hopelessness; it’s a reason to start talking about the root-and-branch stuff, because nobody’s going to act on that kind of analysis unless some people start making it. And if people are going to start making that kind of analysis, then somebody is going to have to teach them to, preferably by example. It certainly won’t come from Ron Paul; and I doubt it will come from any elected politician whatever. (But what successful social struggle ever came about from an elected politician? I don’t worry about a lack of electoral success because I prefer strategies that don’t depend on electoral processes.)

    That said, even if I believed that, politically, there is no hope, I might think that’s a reason to stop being an activist; but I wouldn’t think that’s a reason to stop being a writer. And as a writer, I think that one of the most important things to do is to tell the truth — however small may be the Remnant who hears it.


    Well, there are two problems, both related. The first is the unwillingness to recognize how really rotten people are treated outside of the U.S. government. There are lots of reasons for this unwillingness, many of which have to do with being lied to, constantly, by every major institution, and also with the way in which those institutions sanctimoniously defend their lying, and wave off critics, even when the lying is exposed and made obvious to everybody. (The Oh, who could have seen this coming? act played out by the Very Serious People in Washington D.C. ca. 2004-2005, and their treatment of the anti-war movement from then to the present, even as we were proven to have been right about everything, down to the last detail, and they were proven to have been wrong about everything, down to the last detail, is a perfect example.) At root, we have been given every reason to think that the only rational thing to do is to identify ourselves with the Authorities who lie to us and exploit us and force us into appalling ventures that we fundamentally oppose, rather than to identify with the victims of those Authorities. And therein lies the second, related problem: that by being browbeaten into identifying with the American government, as if it were the same thing as the American people, we not only get browbeaten away from thinking seriously about what that government does to those victims in foreign lands; we also get browbeaten away from thinking seriously about what it does to us, in all the kinds of brutal domestic Wars and Police Actions that are inflicted on us daily, just as Wars and Police Actions are inflicted on our brothers and sisters in other countrie; and so we are browbeaten away from realizing that we have much more in common with the people of Iraq, or Afghanistan, or Vietnam, than we have with the government that is blowing the hell out of those people on our (stolen) nickel, and supposedly in our name.

  6. Nick Manley


    You speak well here. I enjoy writing to simply get feedback from the small number of likeminded or roughly likeminded people I know. I also have no patience for a life lived without integrity or truth telling. No good can be advanced through pragmatic lying — those who do so not only destroy themselves but the world. It’s better to die on your feet doing what you love then to live without really living. I don’t care how precarious the situation in the U.S. is. My website is staying up! And I hope yours does too. I immensely enjoy checking it daily ( :


    Honestly, if we’re going to talk about practicing agorism, then what problem can we have with writing for a small audience? If you want to be an agorist, then you’re setting yourself up to be more culturally-socially-intellectually isolated. I can think of people I could trust to protect me — not all of them are 100 percent libertarian or anarchist ideologues either. That said, I am also certain there are people who know me now who wouldn’t.

    We’re all supposed to be individualists, right? What kind of individualist ties their happiness to whether or not the rest of the world notices or cares about their work?

· May 2009 ·

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