Re: is imperialism the right term?

From: Robert Owen (
Date: Mon Mar 20 2000 - 16:50:27 MST

john grigg wrote:

> Bribery is such a better means of getting things done! And in the old days
> great powers demanded tribute instead of giving it out! lol But considering
> the cruel exploitation of poor third-world workers by us and our major
> manipulation in the internal matters of other nations, can't we be
> considered a neo-colonial power? I think the shoe fits.

Hello John,

Zero and I reached the same conclusion on Saturday:

> Perhaps if we substitute for "imperialism" the word "power" things
> might be less muddy. After all, technically there are no "empires"
> in the world anywhere at this time.
<Now you're Talkinn’! I never really had a problem with the position that the
US is too busy sticking its nose in where it doesn't belong. My only point
was that “imperialism” is an untrue and hyperbolic characterization of US
foreign policy.>

My concern regarding this thread is that it might become, as the issue
of firearms regulation did, highly emotionalized and thus polemicized.
We may want to discuss American foreign policy, international law
and trade in more general terms and that will become unproductive
if we get swamped by the feelings we have been taught to feel, think
we should feel or have committed ourselves to relative to these topics.

So please don't hold it against me if I make a suggestion of a practice
that applies to us ALL, while using ONE post (yours) as an example.

In MY opinion, your post contains instances of the best approach and
the worst.

 BEST: "...manipulation in internal matters..."

WORST: "...cruel exploitation of poor...workers..."

You see the difference; manipulation is not TOO pejorative, although
perhaps "attempts to influence domestic policy" is, I believe, much
more unevocative emotionally. But in the worst case, terms like "cruel"
are considered in rhetoric and debate as "ad populum" and are used
deliberately to inflame feelings. Your phrase contains THREE ad populum
words in succession -- a triple whammy!

Without putting words in your mouth, or suggesting anyone use vapid
euphemisms, in fact "cruel" could be replaced by "insensitive" or "unfeeling",
"exploitation" by "utilization" and "poor" by "underemployed" or "low-income"
without loss of information-content and without inflammatory effect.

Doesn't "an insensitive utilization of low-income workers" convey your
meaning perfectly well, assuming it is NOT your deliberate intention to
be oratorically provocative? And the virtue of it is, you are much more
likely to pesuade others to agree with your position if you avoid making
them angry.

No offense intended, John,


Robert M. Owen
The Orion Institute
57 W. Morgan Street
Brevard, NC 28712-3659 USA

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