The Two Faces of Empire

The U.S. empire is ugly and creepy. That’s why so much effort goes into keeping the public from looking at it directly, writes Caitlin Johnstone.

By Caitlin Johnstone

The Biden/Harris inauguration event is going to be a star-studded celebration spanning an unprecedented five days, a giddy orgy of excitement at a murderous oligarchic empire having a new face behind the front desk after promising wealthy donors that nothing will fundamentally change.

This comes at a time when Americans are now reporting that they trust corporations more than they trust their own government or media, when pundits are gleefully proclaiming in The New York Times that “CEOs have become the fourth branch of government” as they pressure the entire political system to smoothly install Biden, when the leading contender for the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division is an Obama holdover who went from the administration to working for both Amazon and Google, and when Americans are being paced into accepting an increasing amount of authoritarian changes for their own good.

And this manic celebration and increasing brazenness of corporate power are of course overlaid atop an unceasing river of human blood as the globe-spanning empire continues to smash any nation which disobeys it into compliance so as to ensure lasting uncontested planetary hegemony.

But hey, at least they voted out fascism.


The U.S. empire is ugly and creepy. The more you look at it, the uglier and creepier it gets. That’s why so much effort goes into keeping the public from looking at it directly.

The U.S. empire has two faces, one rooted in the west coast and the other in the east. The first face, which sprouts up from Hollywood, presents a grinning plastic smile to the world depicting how fun and wonderful and righteous America is and how all its systems are working completely fine. The second face, which sprouts up from DC, Arlington and Langley, is wild-eyed and covered in blood.

Just like any other two-faced monstrosity, the face you will see depends on where you are standing.

If you live in wealthy western nations, or in the U.S. itself, you are mostly presented with the first face. The artificial culture pipeline runs from Hollywood to the rest of the world and keeps everyone seeing American life as fun, enjoyable and packed full of hilarious repartee, interspersed with the sexual attention of beautiful women and kicking bad guys into molten lava. Freedom and Democracy™?. Capitalism is totally working. You can trust these guys to run the world. News at eleven.

If you live in the Middle East, Asia, or in the Global South, you are far more likely to encounter the second face. The blood-spattered face. The face of murder. The face of tyranny. The face whose actions amount to nothing other than an endless war on disobedience, where any government which tries to insist on its own national, military, resource, commercial or financial sovereignty is smashed into the dirt by any means necessary until it either collapses or complies.


The empire needs both faces. Without the murder face, it could not exist as an empire. Without the grinning face, the public would never consent to the murder face.

People who inhabit the hub of a murderous empire are historically unaware of its horrific nature. In the old days that was because information was easy to restrict access to. Today it’s because information is easy to manipulate and distort.

That’s the only difference between this murderous empire and those of old. That and the fact that this one is brandishing about weapons that can end the world with increasing recklessness.

Humanity will not know health and harmony until it knows truth. Until we collectively come to a lucid reckoning with what’s going on in our world, in our nations, in our society, and in ourselves.

The movement toward a healthy world is a movement toward becoming aware of things we previously were not aware of. In this case, as a first step, this means collectively seeing behind that grinning plastic mask to the churning death machine underneath.

Caitlin Johnstone is a rogue journalist, poet, and utopia prepper who publishes regularly at Medium.   Her work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking her on Facebook, following her antics on Twitter, checking out her podcast on either YoutubesoundcloudApple podcasts or Spotify, following her on Steemit, throwing some money into her tip jar on Patreon or Paypal, purchasing some of her sweet merchandise, buying her books Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone and Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers.

This article was re-published with permission.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

Donate securely with Paypal


Or securely by credit card or check by clicking the red button:



8 comments for “The Two Faces of Empire

  1. robert e williamson jr
    January 18, 2021 at 20:04

    Could be “We The People” need to keep excruciating pressure on the Dimo’s to move to the left or lose their party.

    The money available to the repugs is enough they will not suffer misfortune for long.

    I have a word for the wise. No time like the present ti drastically raise taxes on billion dollar earners, they have quite more than enough money and cut the defense spending for the first four years and see how revenues rise from public works projects the super wealthy elitists refuse to do unless they make more money. That and wash CIA filthy laundry.

    Kinda like an investment in their own self-absorbed interests. Speaking of self absorbed interests how bout we talk about Bill Clinton and Bill Barr?

    Interesting to follow the careers of Bill squared. 1971-1973. B B works for CIA, B C Studies at Georgetown U receives 1968, Bachelors of Science in Foreign Service, earns JD 1973 from Yale , becomes law Prof at U of Arkansas after Yale. 1974 , runs for House of Reps 74 gets beat, 1976 runs for Ark. AG and wins 77-79. Then two tours with the National Governors Association , he is going to go for the gold ring. Gov of Ark 1979 – 1981, Gov Ark 1983-1992.

    Quote fro John Kerry’s REPORT DRUGS, LAW ENFORCEMENT AND FOREIGN POLICY, a report prepared by the subcommittee on terrorism, narcortics and international operations of the COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN RELATIONS UNITED STATES SENATE. Dec 1988. Past Failures last paragraph page 2.

    “There was substantial evidence of drug smuggling through the war zones on the part of individual Contras, Contra suppliers, Contra pilots, mercenaries who worked with the Contras and Contra supporters throughout the region .The saga of Panama General Manuel Antonio Noriega represents one of the most serious foreign policy failure for the United States. Throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s Noriega was able to manipulate US policy toward his country.”

    You better believe it friends.

    See Carlos Leader – Norman Cay history 1978-1982. Carlos had earned enough money and power through his 1970’s drug running that he bought the Island. And yes things got out of hand pretty quickly but massive drug smuggling raged throughout the late 60’s and into the 1970’s and B C and B B knew all about it.

    After high school to 1971 B B attends Columbia U majors on government B A 1971, attends 2 more years, receives M A in Chinese Studies 1971 . 1971-1973 B B works for CIA while attending Georgetown Law School at night, graduates with Jurists Doctor 1977. Go to his wiki to review his journey from 1977-1989.

    He makes it to the big time, 1989 GHW BUSH appointee, Deputy AG 1990-1991, 1991-1993 US AG, in 1992 he wrote “THE CASE FOR MORE INCARCERATION”. It was time to lock up all those South American Contra supplied coke users. Apparently war wasn’t the only racket in US government, my apologies to Smedly Butler.

    Two of the humans faces of the evil empire. Vets Don’t forget!

    Thanks CN

  2. DH Fabian
    January 18, 2021 at 12:03

    Yes, nervous middle classers pray Joe Biden will be their salvation. The rest of us know why “business as usual” will continue. The only real difference between Biden and Trump is that Biden is more likely to start a catastrophic war (as his record clearly indicates).

  3. January 18, 2021 at 09:44

    That the information media in its search for truth will expose our bad behavior is a forgotten dream. I wonder if the search for truth is even explored in journalism schools, anymore. The prospects become even more depressing when you observe the recent brazen behavior of the googles, facebooks and twitters. They have become the arbiters of truth.

    Aside from the media is the matter of commercial trade. The way in which the dollar dictates national behavior, and countries can be punished with brutal sanction outcomes and those not victimized fear they might be next. For the sake of America and the world, let us hope this stranglehold can be removed. An uprising of the victims and those who see themselves as potential victims need to step up their efforts to free these shackles in foreign commerce and defang the dollar.

    • DH Fabian
      January 18, 2021 at 12:17

      In the US, the poor (and there are so many more now!) have been standing back for some time now, watching the middle class self-destruct as the US closes in on collapse. It’s not a matter of the rich are targeting middle class workers. They are simply stuck with the consequences of the politics and policies they, themselves, demanded/supported. (Clearly, they had intended only for the already-poor to suffer.)

  4. David Hamilton
    January 18, 2021 at 01:45

    A person who follows and understands the lousy imperial actions of his own country’s affairs with the rest of the subjected world, has to either be morally opposed to these actions and to the persons doing them, or be accepting, of these actions and persons.

    Presented with moral dilemma, one cannot be neutral; but, one does not always have to voice his pleasure or displeasure, either.

    For sure, one does not have to submit to such taunting of the spirit, because it is a tyranny over oneself, and we theoretically reject tyranny famously in this republic. Bad actors elsewhere in our society are doing these things to everybody else; they are to blame.

    Thus, if you morally disagree with the imperialism practiced in your country, then spend your days at least knowing who’s up to no good, or finding out, and keeping score of who it is dragging your republic backwards to the state of plunder-as-routine from which our foundational forebears so nobly extricated themselves from the former empire, based on good republican values and enshrined principles.

  5. Jeff Harrison
    January 17, 2021 at 23:17

    Good points. Since Americans don’t see any consequence to their government’s outrageous behavior, everything’s outstanding (there are real benefits to those two oceans)! And it will remain outstanding until someone shoves our bad behavior in our faces (which could really happen. The Russians and Chinese are arming themselves to defend themselves from the US. That’s a lot cheaper than having to support a major offensive capability) or our brokeness blows our economy to hell. You might want to read up on what happened to Sparta…..

    • David Hamilton
      January 18, 2021 at 03:05

      Yes those fellow subjects of ours , who in their poverty enjoy playing an imperialist vicariously, that is, through their vocal participation in our trodding over foreign lands,; well , I’m not sure what can be done to bring them to speak up for themselves, and for others. I mean, they morally accept these daily crime reports, I think with a shrug. What is the expression? The common man finds it neither advisable or worthwhile financially to buck the system ?

      • Dfnslblty
        January 18, 2021 at 12:47

        >> Presented with moral dilemma, one cannot be neutral; but, one does not always have to voice his pleasure or displeasure, either. <<

        The world at large will not know the moral dilemma presented without hearing each voice – such as minutely presenter here.

        Protest empire Loudly!

Comments are closed.