Imperialism, specifically western imperialism (which is mostly U.S. imperialism today), is the overwhelming factor in world affairs today, and has been for several centuries.
One of the most important propaganda achievements in American society over the past eight decades is to shroud the nature of imperialism in a mist behind which it operates its brutal machinery. Many people are aware of imperialism, either as a sort of Marxist joke, or as so-called “cultural imperialism,” as if it were nothing more sinister than the opening of Euro-Disney in France or Starbucks in the Forbidden City. When imperialism becomes too obvious to ignore, such as in attacks on Yugoslavia or Iraq, the propaganda apparatus goes into overdrive, to paint these acts of aggression as “humanitarian intervention,” and to very tightly control the limits of debate so that the question of imperialism never arises. The corporate media does a very good job of shielding the public from the abuses of imperialism, such as the slaughter of labor organizers, priests and other “communists” in Latin America, or CIA backed coups to overthrow democratic governments to install fascist dicators, the imposition of harsh “re-structuring” conditions by the IMF, etc.
The propaganda effort reveals a serious flaw in the system, however, namely that it is necessary to enroll the public in the imperialist program, a program that the public would never support if the facts were known. But, since we pay for the imperialist wars, the killing of peasants in Latin America, the Middle East, East Asia, etc., it behooves us to understand the nature of the system, and help others to understand it. It is in our interests to oppose imperialism and its wars, not only because it is the only moral position, but because the primary enemy of the state is the domestic population. The goal of the imperialists is to turn the whole world into the Third World. They want to get rid of those annoying, irritating tendencies of democracies toward egalitarianism, respect for human rights and the environment, and so on. The goal is to create a world where there are no annoying labor unions or environmental regulations, where there are no “fifth columns” of dissident intellectuals, where there are just atoms of consumption and production sitting in their apartments watching sports, only venturing outside to work in the 10 corporations that rule the world, or to buy stuff from these same 10 corporations. Then every 4 years the atoms of consumption will be asked to ratify the selection of one or another member of the ruling class to rule them, and we will call this “democracy.” That is the ideal, at least, and progress toward this ideal is being made with mixed success.
There are many fine essays on imperialism. Here is one by Michael Parenti which you might find useful as an introduction:
At any rate, I would like to debate the nature of imperialism: whether it is good or bad, whether it is as described by Parenti, etc. I welcome every effort to point out flaws in the Parenti essay, or anything I have written, so that we may understand it better.