|February 9, 2012|
Colonies of the second French colonial empire (1830–1960) published in Le Monde Illustré in 1891.
From Le Monde Diplomatique:
Why, in 2011, think about empires? We live in a world of nation-states — over 200 of them, each with their seat in the UN, their flag, postage stamps and governmental institutions. Yet the nation-state is an ideal of recent origin and uncertain future and, for many, devastating consequences.
Empire did not give way to a secure world of nations with the end of Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, Romanov or German rule after the first world war or, in the 1940s-1970s, with decolonisation (by the French, British, Dutch, Belgian and Portuguese). Many recent conflicts — Rwanda, Iraq, Israel, Afghanistan, ex-Yugoslavia, Sri Lanka, the Congo, the Caucasus, Libya, etc — emerged from failures to find viable alternatives to imperial regimes, after 1918, 1945 and 1989.
It is not a question of sinking into imperial nostalgia: sentimental evocations of the British Raj or French Indochina have nothing to offer to our present political thinking. Similarly, imperial name-calling — invoking “empire” or “colonialism” to discredit US, French or other interventions — cannot help us analyse or improve today’s world. But an exploration of the histories of empires, old and new, can expand our understanding of how the world came to be what it is, and the organisation of political power in the past, the present and even the future.
Make any cento you want! But try to make it as good as you want it to be. You don’t really want Seidel’s freedom. His poems are licensed by privilege, prestige and money — lots of all three. His deliberate transgressions look like power — to poets, any use of power looks like freedom. But I just read all Seidel’s work, straight through, and I think he’s wearing golden handcuffs.
Pale Youths in Love
I remember when I was a pre-teen and they moved into a loft across the street from me in Tribeca, where I lived. And an older neighbor friend told me they were living in her building, on the top floor. I saw him at my corner deli, and on the street smoking, but never her. At night, I sometimes looked up at their windows and saw their lights on. He was not very impressive in person. Cute, but no big deal.
What is Work?
Without a written record, we cannot know with certainty how the earliest humans thought about work, but the importance of sharing food and other resources means that prehistoric work embodied at least an element of serving the needs of a community rather than just those of an individual and his or her immediate family.
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Benjamin Robert Haydon, the artist who helped bring the Elgin marbles to the British Museum, was scathing about portraiture. It is, he declared in 1817, ‘one of the staple manufactures of the empire. Wherever the British settle, wherever they colonise, they carry and will ever carry trial by jury, horse-racing, and portrait-painting.’ His list of imperial products might also have included Joseph Banks (1743-1820), who is celebrated as one of Australia’s founding fathers.
Most people have heard of the Council of Trent, and probably most of what they have heard is negative. It was a church council convoked to condemn the Reformation. It initiated a repressive epoch in Catholic countries and opposed everything good in the burgeoning “modern world.” It launched the dreaded Counter-Reformation. Beyond such clichés, few can venture. Like most clichés, these are badly misleading.
With this beautifully modest sentence Greene excavated one of the most essential and enduring myths of the Cuban Revolution. Following the sheer, inviolable force of gravity that brought Fidel Castro to power in 1959, so much freedom was promised to the people, who in turn expected so much liberty, and yet the revolutionary soil proved infertile.