Happy Imperial New Year



As the last minutes of 2006 ticked away on the eastern coast of the United States, John Lennon’s song “Imagine” blared over loudspeakers in New York City’s Times Square.


One hour later, I sat in my living room in Iowa City and stared at my corporate telescreen. The clock said 11:59 PM.  My television was turned to NBC.  It showed the scene at Broadway and 42nd as the assembled masses prepared to welcome in the New Year.” 


Most of the people were wearing read hats with yellow logos.  The logos advertised Chevrolet trucks and automobiles, official sponsor of New Year’s Eve. In the upper left hand corner of the screen, NBC said “LIVE.” But it couldn’t have been “live” coverage because Iowa is on Central Time and one hour behind New York


Here are some of the lyrics from “Imagine:”


Imagine there’s no countries

It isn’t hard to do

Nothing to kill or die for

And no religion too


Imagine all the people

Living life in peace…

Imagine no possessions

I wonder if you can

No need for greed or hunger

A brotherhood of man


Imagine all the people

Sharing all the world…


I hope someday you’ll join us

And the world will live as one





I am not naïve enough to think that most (United States of) Americans have signed on with Lennon’s egalitarian and anti-imperialist world view.  Still, those who confuse the nation’s narrow, militaristic and corporate-crafted election choices and “popular culture” with the citizenry’s real beliefs and values would be surprised to know just how left the populace leans when it is asked specific foreign policy questions. If majority opinion on national priorities and policies were institutionally empowered in the “world’s greatest democracy,” there’d be at lot less Empire abroad and a lot more Equality at home.  The centrist Chicago Foreign Relations Council’s survey of American public opinion in the fall of 2004 (www.ccfr/globalviews2004/sub/usa.htm) suggested a populace that is well to the social-democratic and internationalist left of the nation’s policies. Behold:


American Population surveyed: 1,195 randomly selected non-institutional US citizens interviewed in mid-July 2004:


1. Percentage who think the following should be a very important goal of US foreign policy:

protecting jobs of American workers: 78%

preventing spread of nuclear weapons: 73

maintaining superior military power worldwide: 50

Help bring a democratic form of government to the others nations: 14


2. Ranking of popular support for expansion of government spending on following programs:

health care: 79%

aid to education: 69

Social Security: 65

Intelligence gathering on other nations: 43

defense spending: 29


3. Percentage of Americans who think US should have long-term military bases in the following nations:

South Korea: 62%

Cuba (Guantanamo): 58

Germany 57

Japan: 52

Saudi Arabia: 50