A Record Of Empire


“I am an anti-imperialist. I am opposed to having the eagle put its talons on any other land.” – Mark Twain quoted in A Pen Warmed Up in Hell

When i was thinking about creating new designs for RICANSTRUCTED i thought about the saying “sick of the same old record”. That saying struck a chord in me in terms of US imperialism and how the colonization of  Puerto Rico over 100 years ago is not so different from the US imperialism of today. So i came up with a design of a record label that would encompass early American imperialism abroad. Outside of the battles with with indigenous nations and the war with Mexico, the Spanish – American War was the first imperial adventure for the US outside of North America . It was a war that proved to be very successful for American imperialism and put the US on the road to becoming a world power.

i designed this record label to tell the story of the colonization of Puerto Rico in keeping with RICANSTRUCTED’s mission as a design company to support the Puerto Rican independence movement. i created a fictitious record company called the MANIFEST DESTINY RECORD COMPANY. Manifest Destiny was an ideology that came about in the 1840’s and shaped and guided US imperialism westward across North America. The thinking behind it was that the US was destined to expand across the continent from the Atlantic to the Pacific. (Check out a previous post in which i speak in greater detail on Manifest Destiny in the post – A Rejection Of American Mythology) Manifest Destiny was the guiding principle responsible for bringing the US to war with Mexico in 1846 and also drew the US into war with Spain in 1898.

Manifest Destiny Political cartoon from the late 1890's
Manifest Destiny Political cartoon from the late 1890’s

i set out to use a variety of design elements to tell the story of Puerto Rico’s colonization by the US in 1898. The illustration of the eagle was taken from a political newspaper cartoon, with a caption underneath that read, “Ten thousand miles from tip to tip -“. Nothing could illustrate US imperialism better so i decided to use it as a kind of logo for the Manifest Destiny Record Company. The title of the song on the record ‘PORTO RICO YOU BELONG TO ME’ was something that i used to showcase the shamelessness of US imperialism and the level of comfort a former colony had in it’s desire to build an empire. ‘UNCLE SAM & THE IMPERIALISTS’ are the fictitious group that i created for the record as a short hand way of charging the guilty with their crimes. The song is composed by the four commanding generals of the Spanish – American War Miles, Dewey, Shafter and Sampson.

1899 Racist Imperialist Balance Cartoon
1899 Racist Imperialist Balance Cartoon

‘Side A’ was something that i used to connote that there are always two sides to any story just like their are two sides to a record. ‘Side A’ is considered the first side so it only makes sense that it’s the side of US imperialism since this where the problem begins. The pistol is a gun that was used during the Spanish – American War and is symbolic of the violence that’s used in building the US empire. The term ‘LONG PLAYING’ alludes to the fact that Puerto Rico is still a colony of and that US imperialism is still an ongoing problem in the world.

The numbers underneath ‘LONG PLAYING’ separated by the bullet point are ‘725’ – July 25th the beginning of the invasion of Puerto Rico in 1898 by US forces and ‘1210’ – December 10th which was the day that the Treaty of Paris was signed with Spain affectively ending the war and transferring the nation of Puerto Rico from Spanish colonial rule (under which Puerto Rico had been negotiating and gaining it’s autonomy for over a year) to US colonial rule. The bottom of the label has a MADE IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA title with the address of US House of Representatives beneath it placing the responsibility for this imperial adventure where it should be, squarely on the shoulders of the US government.


Check out some of the other RICANSTRUCTED designs. And for those of you who aren’t Puerto Rican, realize that you don’t have to be Puerto Rican, to support Puerto Rican independence…

– vagabond

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-5G

Other related posts
Enjoy Colonialism?
FALN – Struggle Until Victory
A Rejection Of American Mythology (Part One)
A Rejection Of American Mythology (Part Two)

29 thoughts on “A Record Of Empire”


    What is evident to me is that the politics of the world increasingly has to be viewed in terms of the raw use of military power. The US, at this juncture of human history, is the nation state with the greatest amount of military power in the world and there is serious cause for concern about how that power is used and projected into the world.
    I will explain what I mean.
    When the Wall Street mafia raped private funds and brought the world to global economic crisis, the response by Bush was to inject trillions back to the same gangsters, thieves and “banksters” who caused the crisis. Then, when Obama was elected, he did not reverse the process but continued and gave many trillions more back to the same “banksters”. At the same time for decades before, the United States defence budget has increased constantly year after year. At a time when clearly, many citizens of the US are in need in the midst of a serious economic slump, when there is no ‘cold war’ and the wars in which the US are engaged are not in the least wars of defence in response to any nation having attacked the US, it stretches the bounds of credulity to justify the on-going wars and bombardments of other weaker nations by US military forces and attacks by their troops supported by the NATO nations. In this sense, the traditional political ideas of divisions between Democrat and Republican, right and left, become meaningless.
    Again, post 9/11, the Bush administration used this event as the casus belli for bombing an already impoverished and war destroyed nation ( i.e. post the Soviet invasion and defeat). How does one catch Bin Laden by bombing carpet bombing Afghanistan is a logical question to ask. How does one target combatants who are not uniformed and do not comprise a standing army in their own country is the next question. How does one legitimize having trained the Taliban, Bin Laden and armed the Muslim combatants at a time when the US/CIA ( read: “Charlie Wilson’s war”) wanted to defeat the Soviets, then post war speak of trying to defeat the so-called Al-Qaeda fighters ( i.e. the very ones who had been trained by the CIA and the US is sacrificing young service persons lives for ) – and so justify this foreign incursion with an iota of credibility? How can it be justified to sacrifice young American lives to run an oil pipeline across Afghanistan and shed US blood on foreign soil in a war that supports a man whose brother along with the CIA has seen heroin production reach its zenith simultaneously while American troops have occupied Afghanistan? How can one legitimately speak of “freedom” when since 2003 the US government knowingly lied to the American people and the world about WMDs and clearly is faced with an unyielding resistance( because the Iraqis do not want illegal US occupation) and continue to sacrifice to a number of one million dead Iraqis and over 4,700 American lives ( officially acknowledged by the US) in a depleted uranium infested nation, due to this unyielding American aggression? How can there be any conceivable decency of US foreign policy when for eight years the US supported in turn Iraq under Saddam and Iran in a war that cost significant numbers of human life, during the longest conventional war of the twentieth century?:-


    Today the illegality persists with the irony of the first US President of direct African descent setting out along with his European/NATO partners to destroy Libya, Africa’s most prosperous country measured on social indicies and the per capita income yardstick? This last question is supported, strange as it may seem, from the figures and information available on the CIA factbook ( assuming that post bombing the CIA has not deleted or altered the facts that were posted prior to the NATO bombardment).

    It is these kinds of questions that I find troubling, for that the answers that are to be given take any sentient, perceptive, decent and honest human being to a point of some doubt about why America is projecting its power into the world not so much as the “land of the free and the home of the brave”, but as the “land of thieves and home of slaves”. Pardon my apparent rudeness in so observing, but personally I yet have respect for the document termed the American Constitution for reasons of its innovative construct and genuine attempts to balance the forces and use of power within the nation. For peace-loving American individuals I bear no ill will. Unfortunately, the American government has diverged significantly from the founding fathers nobly expressed aspirations. Sadly, as Eisenhower warned of:-
    “the military industrial complex”
    17th January, 1961
    his concerns have proven overwhelmingly justified.
    I end on that note, because if it were merely me who alerted world denizens to beware of the use of the words “security” , “liberty” and “freedom” in the abstract, when justification is sought for US foreign policy, then no one would give any serious thought to merely my observations as made above about US/NATO hegemonic conduct. In actuality, it was a prescient Republican president who made the observations that increasingly in our world today are proving him brutally, bloodily and frighteningly – correct in his expressed insightful concerns.
    You may not be in agreement with me – but do share these thoughts with your friends, for that we have the power of the internet, our own minds, our basic concepts of human decency, justice and fairness to question these wars and to resist in whatever ways we can the advancing extended militarism of our times.
    Interestingly, George Kennan, the US architect of the cold war made these four observations:-
    “World communism is like [a] malignant parasite which feeds on diseased tissue” (1946).
    “It may be true, and I suspect it is, that the mass of people everywhere are normally peace-loving and would accept many restraints and sacrifices in preference to the monstrous calamities of war.”

    (N.B.The humane ones amongst us ought not to embrace bellicosity as if it were the normal and natural state of conduct in human affairs. There is indeed a pathology of power, and it is manifest around us.)
    “We should cease to talk about vague and unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of the living standards, and democratization. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans, the better.”
    “Were the Soviet Union to sink tomorrow under the waters of the ocean, the American military establishment would have to go on, substantially unchanged, until some other adversary could be invented. Anything else would be an unacceptable shock to the American economy.”

    What was deemed to be potentially an unacceptable shock to the American economy, in this post Soviet collapse world of ours, viewing the various manifestations of American military power here and now, is an actual shock of horrendous proportions for the non-European and non-American peoples of the world ( some half million Asian lives and about 60,000 dead US service persons from the Vietnam war, to a million dead in the Iraq war and counting upwards). And if we, the people, are not hampered in our thoughts by the belief that the US and NATO really are projecting democratization, human rights and the quest for rising living standards into the world by way of its/their increasing militarism and aggression, the better we are able to appreciate what Kennan had in mind when he wrote the words quoted above. If communism is/was as Kennan stated, and his was an option of capitalism, which now has unchallenged dominance in the world, what must we, the many humans inhabiting our world, make of the conduct of the unbridled option which remains as it gains expression through the projection of military force into the world?

    Think again – peace!
    Courtenay Barnett – 4th June, 2011 ( http://www.globaljusticeonline)

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