The instances are innumerable, their details vast. To exist outside and apart is to be a threat, a West Berlin just visible over the parapet. All distinction must submit. There is no more dialogue as once offered to Melos, there is no longer even the illusion of choice: your old god must be displaced, your plinth must be empty, and your myth must be reduced to fact.
There are in our time fewer regions in creation to be made satrap or to be antagonized then vilified for daring to question. Entire histories and peoples adjudicated wrong then followed by plans to make committees and councils filled by those hostile to make them right. Many and various and on and on the imperial spirit sharpens its blade on those bold enough to remain as they once were.
A wider essay on the American Empire and its favored whetstone the South is for another time. Here is only an instance near to me.
The Virginia Military Institute and its transmogrification the last thirty some years can explain the American Empire and its drive to remove every vestige and last feature of the world antedating the Sixties. And further from its dismantling we can derive the prime directive of our current voluntary military force and the prerogatives of the citizen leadership.
A disclaimer is in order: I as an alum am no great, having neither served due to the expeditionary nature of the 21st century foreign policy establishment nor succeeded to the heights of some corporate boardroom. This writer, a nuisance only, someone who carries the credential but none of the glamour, yet still holds the idea of the place in some regard.
With Professor Wilson’s mention of Lincoln’s quest for empire, I am reminded of just what that empire looks like when it turns inward away from the wide periphery of the world and on its own supposed kin.
Today’s empire is not like that of Lincoln—nor that of Roosevelt nor Wilson nor any regime before the end of the Cold War. Now it is one of ressentiment, of endless blood libel, of no reconciliation but submission. It is of the graph, the statistic, the line ever and onward ascending. And above all it is one of abstraction, of strange predilections and minds abused by certainty and right since no enemies exist out there anymore they must be here within and among ourselves—and reality must abide.
And to VMI its gaze turned after the Iron Curtain fell. The world once immeasurable and multipolar shrunk and squeezed and wrung out unlike the emperors before who beheld and gently balanced it in their right hand and scepter in left. Now with no one before them to impede nor vanquish it was only Man himself who’d need to be overcome.
When Ginsburg codified the exception that proves the rule, bringing all equality not in suffering and forging but in the then-shattered fragments of the prestige conferred upon attaining a degree there, turning labor and honor into a checkmark. And since women can be anything under the law they are nothing and henceforth their role as once understood as some fairer sex and mystery as Artemis is no more. Anyone can be and therefore we resort to empiricism but even then that is not enough and before long we don’t know who from whom because the custom and ceremony that once made innocence and order is now prohibited. Send your daughters to partake in the hassle—nothing more, we assure you, it’s strictly maintained and bereft of the unorthodox. Money and its attendant legion of slogans turned it from a trial to an ordeal.
And if it is only that, a box to be filled, then it must be attainable to all and anyone and must not inconvenience nor make uncomfortable any who come from anywhere and thus must be uniform. No regional dialect, no vernacular, no authentic expression is permissible. Thus every marker must be contextualized, every statue removed, new curricula imposed to ensure all alike. If there is a standard it must accommodate your lowest, your meanest, your least likely to agree. There’s too much money on the line and lawsuits abound if the eternally disgruntled are made to think they are no more special than the man next to him.
Like some spider shedding the empire attains a greater size and monstrosity every decade or two and reaches out its legs to pull in more and more once venerable institutions to its web to be bit and filled with the venom that turns the inside to soup before being drained of what once gave it life. Leaving only an empty shell, still maintaining an image of what it has always been, but hollow and dead.
But we should not let VMI be a husk, do not look upon it as a desiccated corpse. VMI is a tomb. A dead place pilfered and profaned. And if tombs and temples are architecture’s greatest heights, then we should designate it as such: close VMI, end the classes, send your sons to any other state school as the haecceity has been smothered. Sell the extraneous facilities, the nonsense sports fields, the ridiculous and gaudy halls. Save the chapel and the barracks only. Make them a place solemn. Make them a site to warn those what happens during times of madness. Raise a stele and inscribe the year VMI ended: MCMLXXXIX. Passersby will note the year and see it as the dawn of the global empire that betrays its friends and own people all for a financial gain and short-term appeasement of the perpetually aggrieved.
To rule mankind, and make the world obey. Anchises told his son to dispense with what made the Greeks so prominent and to wage war, the most Roman feature—the most imperial. VMI is nothing more, nothing more than a deception to observer and participant: look, that one there can finish here, our most difficult passage—truly we are all of like ability, we are all equal and the same. The world will obey.
But don’t let it continue. Don’t let the memory be fouled. Don’t let it become another instrument to further the ambitions of a vain and cruel regime.