Pre-Emption, the Future, and the Imagination

David Palumbo-Liu

in America and the Misshaping of a New World Order

Published by University of California Press

Published in print June 2010 | ISBN: 9780520098701
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520943797 | DOI:
Pre-Emption, the Future, and the Imagination

Show Summary Details


This chapter looks at how relatively blurry notions of culture and the imagination play a critical role in envisioning the future. In the case of Bush's war on terror, deterrence had been abandoned in favor of pre-emption, in which uncertainty became a reason for action. The abandonment of the commitment to act on hard empirical evidence is the fueling point for a particular kind of imagination. Maintenance of hegemony became the goal of pre-emption, which must always seek out threat in order to reanimate itself. It exists in the gray zone between the empirical and the possible, shuttling between reaffirmations of both strength and weakness, of both invincibility and vulnerability. The main point of this chapter is that in the tortuous playing out of these contradictions, recent United States foreign and domestic policies have appropriated and instrumentalized the basic humanistic and ethical character of the imagination.

Keywords: pre-emption; future; notions of culture; imagination; United States foreign policies; Maintenance of hegemony

Chapter.  9195 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.