Citizens of the Empire
The Struggle to Claim Our Humanity
"A few pages into this slim manifesto, its clear that Jensons latest offering is a heavy critique of the U.S.s post 9/11 policy, the war on terror and George W. Bush. It would be remiss, however, to reduce this work to mere complaint. Jensen, a journalism professor at the Univ. of Texas, Austin, delivers a concise, telling, first-person account of what he argues is the "alienation and isolation that so many feel in the face of the triumphalism common in the country" since the attacks. He questions why America has developed such "an incredibly degraded political culture" and criticizes U.S. academic institutions for their "unwillingness to take seriously their role as centers of knowledge and their refusal to create space for debate and discussion." It is up to the citizens of the empire, Jensen says, to "build movements that can transform peoples opposition into political power." That sounds like a tall order, but Jensens use of personal anecdotes, analogies and in-your-face common sense makes the reading easy and his request sound doable, even logical. Jensens premise gains momentum as he correlates the increase of American civil liberties to decreased public participation, reminding readers that the "degree to which a society is democratic also can be judged by how extensive and active are citizens attempts to participate in the formation of public policy." He couples his opinions with a solution for those progressive thinkers who want to help, making the book a sort of handbook for people who are looking for new ways to engage fully in the democratic process of citizenship."
"...a small, thoughtful, eminently accessible book, Citizens of the Empire is intended to be a citizen's manual of sorts, an encouragement to a thinking, effective electorate. Jensen's message is meant to be one of optimism, an antidote to the resignation and despair about the future of democracy in the face of increasingly mindless group-think on the part of the electorate and unresponsive policy-making on the part of their elected leaders. The conclusion of this slim volume is to urge the reader, whether or not s/he shares Jensen's political views, to get up and get actively engaged, to reclaim the rights of a citizen of this country, and of the world, in a decisive election year."
Chapel Hill News
"Robert Jensen supplies a much needed citizens' manual, that explains well the evasion of moral principles that underlie appeals to patriotism, and the differences between nominal and real free speech and a vibrant versus an empty and managed democracy."
Edward S. Herman, author of The Real Terror Network: Terrorism in Fact and Propaganda and The Myth of the Liberal Media
"If, as is axiomatic in therapeutic circles, a person suffering psychological disorder cannot begin to recover until s/he acknowledges the fact of his/her illness, the same principle must apply at the level of mass psychology to the populations of entire countries. Robert Jensen not only argues compellingly that this is so in the contemporary United States, he offers the range of proof necessary to convince all but the most delusional among us that his analysis is accurate. Thus does he provide a veritable cognitive tool kit with which to undertake transformation of the lethal pathology afflicting the U.S. body politic into a condition of mental health. Citizens of Empire is vital reading for anyone and everyone who would seek to forge a viable alternative politics in modern America."
Ward Churchill, author of A Little Matter of Genocide and Perversions of Justice
"That the U.S. today is engaged in a project of empire-building is now beyond debate. But few have clarified the consequences and the choice facing those of us who are citizens of that empire: to challenge it peacefully, from within, or to watch aghast as others attack it, violently, from without. Among those who would meet that challenge for justice, there is anger and there is hope. Bob Jensen has managed the unusual accomplishment of describing and invoking both."
Phyllis Bennis, author of Before and After: U.S. Foreign Policy and the September 11th Crisis and Calling the Shots: How Washington Dominates Today's UN
"Robert Jensen does more than challenge us to think and feel he also encourages us to transform our lives. While Citizens of the Empire provides cogent information and analysis, the book also offers real clarity about the emotional imperatives of coming to terms with grim aspects of the status quo. At the same time that he demolishes media myths about the "war on terrorism," Jensen takes apart key mechanisms of propaganda, militarism and convenient illusions. Midway through the first decade of the 21st century, this book will jolt readers into a truer reckoning with their own beliefs and capabilities. Jensen makes a powerful case that we can stop being passive spectators and start being active co-creators of history. Citizens of the Empire is a book of realism and hope a strong antidote to the poisons of conformity and despair."
Norman Solomon, Co-author, Target Iraq: What the News Media Didnt Tell You, Executive Director, Institute for Public Accuracy