Following the publication of Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace and Dreaming War, Gore Vidal was described as the last ‘noble defender’ of the American republic. Now, in the long-awaited conclusion to his bestselling trilogy, Vidal presents his most devastating exploration of Imperial America to date. ‘Not since the 1846 attack on Mexico in order to seize California’, writes Vidal, ‘has an American government been so nakedly predatory.’
George W. Bush’s apparent invincibility, and what he may or may not know - especially about those new ‘black box’ voting machines installed all over the country before the presidential election - are central themes of 'State of the Union 2004', a magnificent and witty Olympian survey of American Empire, where the War on Terror is judged as nonsensical as the ‘war on dandruff’, where America is an ‘Enron-Pentagon prison’ - a land of ballooning budget deficits thanks to the growth of a garrison state, tax cuts for the privileged, and the creeping totalitarianism of John Ashcroft’s justice department.
Collected in this volume are Vidal’s earlier State of the Union addresses, a tradition inaugurated in the 1970s as a counterpoint to ‘whoever happened to be president’. Here we are treated to Vidal’s observations on America’s parliamentary monopoly by the ‘Property Party’, with ‘its two wings: Republican and Democrat’, and the oligarchical rule of the military-industrial-financial elite he calls ‘the Bank’.
Imperial America is both a strong indictment of the United States’ imperialism and a statement of devotion to its true ideals. To allegations of unpatriotic tendencies Vidal responds by pointing to his literary legacy: ‘Of course I like my country’, he says, ‘after all, I’m its current biographer!’
Read the review 'A Long View of History' in The Socialist 361