Dismantling The Empire From The Inside Out with Robert Jensen

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Every day our political leaders tell us the United States is the standard bearer of peace and democracy for the world. We're told that thousands have died in Iraq and Afghanistan so that we can bring their poor, "uncivilized" countries the gifts of freedom - because, after all, we invented the concept. Or did we? Is America the first country to cite freedom and justice for all as the values that define our culture? Did we really resort to using weapons of mass destruction because we're committed to the cause of "government of, by and for the people?" Jensen's perspective from within the conservative halls of a southern state university, names the United States as an empire driven by the desire to create puppet governments in key areas around the world, and reminds us that every empire in the history of the world has been destroyed, usually in a burst of brutality. Jensen invites each of us to take steps to dismantle this empire - but he also tells us how we can do it in a nonviolent way. He says, "9/11 is a reminder of how the empire will end if it comes down from the outside, and I don't want that. I don't want that for myself, I don't want that for my child, I don't want that for anyone on this planet." He also reminds us that we do have the power to create change because, contrary to how it may appear, our leaders are, in fact, listening. (hosted by Michael Toms)


Robert Jensen is an associate professor of journalism at the University of Texas at Austin. He is also an outspoken writer and activist.

He is the author of:

  • Writing Dissent: Taking Radical Ideas From the Margins to the Mainstream (Peter Lang 2001)
  • Citizens of the Empire: The Struggle to Claim Our Humanity (City Lights 2004)

Topics Explored in This Dialogue

  • How you can make a large difference in small ways
  • Why news from Al Jazeera may be as valuable to you as The New York Times
  • How terrorism serves the goals of our politicians
  • Why the massive worldwide peace demonstration in February 2003 was unable to stop the U.S. from going to war
  • What effect public opinion polls have on the health of our democracy
  • Why the United States really is an empire
  • How the foreign press can help you gain a more balanced perspective on world events
Host: Michael Toms       Interview Date: 5/24/2004        Program Number: 3048