At the time when Mathieu Bélisle was finishing his work on The invisible empire, in the spring of 2020, the United States, the fake news and conspiratorial delirium, “used to being the first in all areas, for better or for worse”, were preparing to become the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Decked out in the mythical “land of all possibilities”, the United States dominates the world. They constitute a veritable undeclared empire, which makes all of us, to varying degrees, Americans, says Bélisle. No one forces us to do so, but we follow almost religiously everything that happens there, “in the culture and the information that we share”. We cannot blame it on our borders that we share with this country since both Europe and Asia and Africa are also affected. In short, “all of humanity today finds itself engaged in an American becoming of which no one has yet seen the end.”
Assigning itself the role of policeman of the planet, the American empire took control without too much publicity, “by means of alliances and complex negotiations, coups d’état and revolutions by intermediary means, pacts with regional powers and rogue countries, the enemies of the day often being yesterday’s allies, and vice versa ”. It is a flexible empire, which adapts to the flavor of the day, as long as it serves its interests.
The empire is so deeply rooted in us, says Bélisle, that it is impossible to conceive how to fight it effectively, since it “provides weapons to those who choose to fight it, that it serves the arguments itself. allowing it to be criticized, that it produces colonialism as well as anti (or post) colonialism, capitalism as well as anti-capitalism … “
Bélisle seeks to understand how empire transforms our lives, without much of our knowing it. How it “determines the frameworks and structures within which we are allowed to live, think and feel [puisque] it is he who designs and deploys the “matrix” which makes us what we are ”. But, he assures, despite all his faults, all his internal crises – collapse of the Twin Towers and the financial system, shootings and violence of all kinds, scandals, presidential impeachment procedures, etc. -, the empire is not ready to disappear, even with the arrival to the presidency of an uneducated oddball whose insanities and lies feed the daily press.
The Trojan horse
On the contrary, he says, the American empire is more and more present in our lives thanks to GAFAM (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft) and their satellites (Uber, Netflix, PayPal, etc.). Who dreams who? he asks. Does the young American dream of being Chinese or is it not rather the young Chinese who dreams of being American? Hard observation.
The author warns us against this Trojan horse of GAFAM which interferes in our lives. Now you don’t have to go to America to be an American. It is the empire that comes to you, wherever you are. The empire, far from being in decline, is everywhere thanks to GAFAM. And he even succeeds in making us believe that we are free to make our choices, while his customers have become, consumers of what he offers us, not to say imposes us.
In The decline of the American Empire, Denys Arcand was most pessimistic, but Bélisle proposes an enhancement of our fragile singularities. But beware ! A singularity capable of resisting algorithms which already have a certain portrait of your behavior in their bags.
Ultimately, the author concludes, this conquest of the world was made possible by the immense fictional power of the empire. “America is the repository of an incalculable number of fictions amassed over the centuries, in all languages and all traditions, fictions which have engendered other fictions to the point of forming networks, and whose supports and the means of transmission have continued to multiply. An interesting analysis, to which I do not necessarily subscribe, but which has the merit of throwing an original light on the non-decline of the American empire.