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By David Coates (auth.)

ISBN-10: 1137482605

ISBN-13: 9781137482600

ISBN-10: 1349503096

ISBN-13: 9781349503094

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The right to a decent minimum standard of life is continually threatened by the inadequacies of the minimum wage and the perpetual erosion of welfare provision. And the rights of women at work to paid maternity leave, flexible working hours, and available child care—rights increasingly 30 America in the Shadow of Empires available across the rest of the Western world—still remain to be won in most states in contemporary America. Labor as a voice is weak in industry. Workers as a political force are perpetually outspent by the lobbyists for business, and a post-Reagan culture privileging individualism over collectivism now erodes the legitimacy of even the most modest attempts to avert the worst excesses of unregulated capitalism.

So what do we mean? An empire can be recognized both by what it is and by what it is not. ”50 What an empire is not is simply a nation-state writ large. “An empire in the classic sense,” Charles Maier wrote, “is usually believed, first, to expand its control by conquest or coercion, and, second, to control the political loyalty of the territories it subjugates . . ”51 We now live in an international order, one first formally recognized in the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, in which the basic unit of international relations is the autonomous nation-state: The Question of Empire 41 the entity successfully claiming sovereignty over a particular territorial area and the one monopolizing the legitimate use of force within that area.

That lack of reduction was enough to persuade a Canadian intellectual such as Michael Ignatieff to talk of America as “Empire Lite” but Empire nonetheless. ’”17 For him, “America’s entire war on terror is an exercise in imperialism” and though “nation-building isn’t supposed to be an exercise in colonialism . . ”18 The post–Cold War ubiquity of American arms was also enough to persuade London’s Michael Cox that many of the standard rebuttals of the “America as empire” case did not stand up to careful scrutiny.

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America in the Shadow of Empires by David Coates (auth.)


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