The Many Names Of White Empire

Alice and the White Queen. Art by John Tenniel (1865)

The crazy thing about living under the largest, most rapacious empire the world has ever known is how little we know about it. It doesn’t even have a name.

The White Empire masquerades as the rules-based order. Whose rule? Never answered. It calls itself the international community, which always seems to be white people or their fuckbois. The White Empire hides behind the fig leaf of Japan and South Korea. Beneath is the naked presence of thousands of imperial troops there, still occupying. They used to call themselves the G8, until they got mad at Russia and made it G7. They call themselves the industrialized world (never mind that most industry is in the South) or the developed world (never mind that we developed them). These are all just synonyms for the Empire that has no name. The White Empire. It just disappears into history, in the present, it is simply the walls we are held within. White and unnoticed.

The White Empire is the irrepressible cancer that spread out of West Asia and carried it on boats everywhere. It was the Portuguese, the Spanish, the Dutch, the French, the Dutch the British, the Americans, the Canadians, the Australians. Then those savage people turned on each other, destroying their own homeland in two world wars. Then the Americans took over the mantle of empire from the British, occupying Britain’s bases, Europe, Japan, and never laying down its arms, ever. To them, they go by different names and flags, but those are all fig leaves. To those of us who have been fucked, it is all one undifferentiated White Empire.

The greatest trick this devil ever pulled was convincing the world it didn’t exist. Nobody calls America an empire despite them having over 800 military bases and actively killing people somewhere, all the time. Nobody connects America and Europe and its occupied fuckbois as one militarily and financially cohesive empire, we just mindlessly call it the G7 and never question what these fuckers are meeting about.

We live in a world where people can say ‘rules-based order’ on TV and never question why the US hasn’t even ratified the Law of the Sea, like everybody else. We live in a world where people keep producing graphs showing white nations as the best in everything, even managing COVID-19, even after they genocidally mismanaged COVID-19. We live in a world where certain countries are called ‘industrialized’ while importing everything from the South. We live in a world where some countries are called ‘developed’ despite their societies crumbling into COVID, ill-health, debt peonage, and drug-fueled despair.

The second-greatest trick Empire ever pulled was getting people to think White is a race. Brown is not a race. Neither is yellow. Black is only a race in its hostage situation within the White Empire. White was the stitching together of warring people from West Asia into some brand of White™ that had the opportunity, nay the duty, to take from everybody else. It was the white man’s burden, really, as Kipling put it.

White is a description of social hierarchy in an imperial system that spans the world. White is actually a very fluid category. As OJ Simpson said, “I’m not black, I’m OJ.” As Jay-Z responded, “OK.” What he really meant was that he was White. As Noel Ignatiev documents, Irish people and Italians weren’t considered white early last century, but now an Irishman is President. Slavs weren’t considered white (especially by Hitler), but now Ukrainians are honorary Europeans. Brown people were coolies, but now we’re Prime Ministers. As you can see, White is the fluid imperial caste system which hides behind a color. If you look at the paint on the walls, you can see it’s still dripping.

These are the walls we live within. I say we because everyone on this planet is affected by the two hallmarks of any empire. Military and financial control. There is nowhere on this planet untouched by American wars and coups and constant election hijacking. There is nowhere on this world where you can escape the petrodollar. By any historical terms, this is the empire, but in the moment we don’t see it. Largely because it is so powerful. It’s like asking a fish “how’s the water?”

“What’s water?”

When I say there’s no name for this colossus, I mean there’s literally no name. White Empire is a term I made up, and I’m read by a few thousand people. People say ‘American Empire’, but it sounds off, or ‘The West’, but then there’s Australia. We have all these ways of naming the thing that shall not be named, but no name for it. It is in fact the greatest trick of power. This is the only Empire built on not proclaiming its name, and in this subtlety, it has found the greatest power.

I name it not to shame it or tame it or even home to lame it. It is a colossus and you and I are just bugs in the historical rug. Me pointing out the color of the walls is as useless as it would be to an ant. As this colossus totters and falls, we’re either going to get squashed or not, and it’s just a matter of luck. I name the thing just because names are important.

Confucius said the“rectification of names” would be his first priority if he got power, which befuddled his disciple Zilu. Master Kong said “How boorish you are, Zilu! If names are not rectified, speech will not accord with reality; when speech does not accord with reality, things will not be successfully accomplished.” Master Kong—one of the greatest sages of his time—never got power. His words are revered but not followed still. And yet names do matter.

The vital point these days is not that the Empire has no clothes. This is quite obvious. All of us had pain in the throat or hunger in the tummy or fear in our hearts courtesy of the powers that be. The point is that the Empire is naked, that the Empire even exists, and to try and throw a blanket over its invasive invisibility with a name. The White Empire. Not a race, not a flag, just the money and guns that run the world, and the social hierarchy that benefits from it. There are many names for White Empire, but my point is simply that there is one.