Ongoing for nearly a decade, research for this project has relied on subscriptions and/or archive access to a number of newspapers, including the Financial Times, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, Bloomberg News, The Economist, Foreign Policy, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, and the Nikkei Asian Review, among others. It has also relied upon hundreds of academic journals and books written by researchers, journalists, as well as memoirs of those who played a role in many of the events examined in the project. Where possible, sources have also been drawn from official government documents.
(See: Resources Page for more)
The process of research for a particular subject involves collecting and assembling an archive of newspaper articles chronicling references to that subject over a certain period of time. So, if the study was on the Group of Seven (G-7) finance minister meetings or the International monetary Fund (IMF) meetings, then I would use (where available) the archives of the various newspapers and magazines mentioned above to collect all references to those events and institutions, largely from their respective dates of origin (mid-1970s and mid-1940s respectively) up until present day (2019-2020).
This establishes a timeline and detailed exploration of the subject over time, and as reported in the public record of the most prestigious publications in the English-speaking world, the papers and sources that the rich and powerful read. The timeline reveals a story, as well as other people and processes involved. I add to this timeline by collecting (where possible) official government documents. Further, I collect books, including memoirs of key players, journalistic accounts, historical, political and economic research and analysis, as well as academic journals.
The process of collecting this research, focused on the period from the end of World War II (1945) to the start of 2020, has taken many years. Organizing and reviewing the research has been ongoing, and will continue as I begin and move through the writing process, going one article, one essay, one book, and one podcast season at a time.
Though arduous and detailed, this process has allowed me to investigate and discover a large, interwoven, and expansive story; complex and ever-changing in its layers, multitudinous in its characters, and profound in its consequences. It is a story of Empire, and not simply like that of empires past, overseen by emperors, kings, queens, pharaohs or sultans, and built through war and violence. This story has a great many new dynamics that are unique from past periods.
Past empires focused more on conquering geographic territory, killing, controlling or enslaving populations, and extracting resources. This empire is more focused on conquering market shares, enforcing austerity measures, controlling inflation, and privatizing resources and services. Past empires sent proconsuls and generals to run foreign provinces, territories and colonies; this new empire sends economists and experts to organize bailouts and cut public spending.
It is a strange, largely misunderstood, if not entirely overlooked, system of political and social power relations. This empire has the unique position of being more globally expansive than any preceding system of expansionary power, which is perhaps why it is so hard to recognize, unable to see what we are in the midst of.
It is a long and complex story with a vast cast of characters, but it is a story that is worth being told, for it tells of a world we are all confined and beholden to, a world which draws closer to ecological destruction, climatic catastrophe, and the constant threat and frequent bouts of ever-greater economic collapses. We can throw into that the continued threat of traditional political forms of warfare, new technologies of surveillance and control, the resurgence of fascism, and growing global social unrest. Literally dozens of countries across the world experienced major forms of domestic social unrest over the course of 2019.
The uprisings were overshadowed by the lockdowns and pandemic of 2020, causing economic collapse and political chaos on an unprecedented scale. If ever there had been a time to reflect on how our civilization got to our present position, this is it. If ever there was a time to reassess our past priorities, which put stock dividends and budget cuts above better wages and accessible healthcare, this is it.
This is the primary objective of the Empire and Economics as a multimedia storytelling project: to help people better understand the economic world as it evolved into its present form, and to encourage the establishment of new priorities moving forward. This does not aim to be a dry recitation of facts and dates, incomprehensible to those without a degree in economics or finance. This aims to be accessible for as wide and diverse an audience as possible, and to help share with others what has interested me most about it over the years of research: the story, the drama, the characters, the confusion, the lies and deceits, the crises and consequences, the damage, destruction, creation, construction, the relationships, antagonisms and rebellions. The ruthless ambition of it all, the relentless pursuit of it all, the restless resistance to it all.
It is an epic tale of empire – of conquering the world, and resisting the oppressors.
If Empire and Economics interests you, please consider supporting the project through a donation of your choice. Access to resources for research – from books to newspaper subscriptions and access to academic journals – costs money. Financial support can go a long way towards supporting access to these and more resources as well as being able to dedicate more time to the process of writing.