There are two Americas: the imagined community called the nation otherwise known as the United States of America to which the vast majority believes to include all American citizens and the American Empire, successor to the British Empire, which operates globally for the principle benefit of a corporate plutocracy that over time is becoming less and less American and more transnational in its composition.
Essentially, the proponents of the American Empire feed off the American Nation to advance their goal of continually expanding the volume of global commercial trade in order to extract ever growing revenues, a practice that became well established during the zenith of the British Empire. In fact, with regard to its development, the American Empire is the second iteration of Anglophone world dominance. Taken together, we can speak of Anglo-American empire as the greatest empire the world has ever seen.
Learning from their predecessors, the Americans have taken the practice of empire building to a previously unimagined scale. For example, with regard to military might, there are so many American military bases scattered strategically around the world that no one knows their exact number. As well, the American financial sector acts as the world's banker, the American economy is by far the world's largest, especially if we include the overseas operations of American-based multinational corporations, and global commerce is conducted by the rules defined by American-led international organizations like the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organization.
Moreover, the American Empire has achieved what the proponents of the British Empire dreamed of but never could accomplish, the creation of a global cultural hegemony. For better or worse, the pursuit of the American dream has seduced the world's inhabitants and brought about the realization that the means of attaining that dream entail the organization of a nation's political economy on the basis of the principles and values put forward by the greatest empire on earth.
This is not to say that there isn't a divergence of opinion and belief around the world and upon American soil with regard to cultural practices, but without question the belief that we will all be better off if commercial trade continues to expand has achieved global hegemonic status.
And what of the American Nation?
Well, it's turned into a war zone characterized by a protracted conflict that is being fought on the lines of class.
What makes this war unusual is that it is as if the American Nation has turned upon itself. Indeed, last year was a remarkable year for mass murders in the USA, even by American standards. Every year 12,000 Americans are murdered, a number that far exceeds the deaths of American military personnel killed in the line of duty.
To appreciate the class nature of this carnage, I invite you to look at a map provided by the New York Times of the murders committed in the city of Chicago last year along with the demographics.
But what makes this civil war especially gruesome is the manner in which the gun violence has escalated in 2012 so to put on display for the nation's eyes the random slaughter of innocent citizens: in particular, the 12 people killed and 59 injured in a Colorado movie theatre, and the 28 killed, including 20 children, in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.
Of significant interest is that the perpetrators of these horrific crimes share similar profiles and their acts of terror bring about the same intended results. Including the teenagers who ran amok during the Columbine High School massacre and the solitary gunman responsible for the Virginia Tech shootings, the killers are all marginal young males that had little chance of realizing the American dream. Bereft of hope, they sought out to extinguish any hope of a better life their victims might have. Each tragedy can be considered to be a cultural 9/11: the targeting of innocent victims to bring about incomprehensible suffering while gaining the attention of a nation who would be otherwise indifferent to their fate.
Armed to the teeth with paramilitary weaponry, some of the losers in life's lottery in America have taken to terrorist methods in order to inflict maximum harm upon the nation. Yet, the Empire continues on with its business, undisturbed by the daily carnage.
For a growing number of Americans just living in the land of the free and the home of the brave means putting oneself and one's loved ones in harm's way.