Jed Esty

  • culture August 04, 2022

    Double Down

    There is a funny paradox in American culture. The nation began in revolt against British sovereignty and defined itself for generations against UK ruling-class values of crown, empire, and tradition. And yet in the Golden Age of Hollywood, on the run-up to American hegemony, the ideology of empire reentered the American bloodstream, adapted for mass society and a technocratic state. The medieval term translatio imperii, which once described the divine succession of emperors, later named the westward drift of power. It mutated into a doctrine of manifest destiny for aspirational American settlers.