“Imperialism”, like “Islamophobia”, is a vaguely defined word meaning different things to different people. On the other hand, being nebulous in itself makes it an easy straw man to knock down. Whenever you can’t match someone in logic, you can accuse them of supporting either the evil “Islamophobia” or the evil “Imperialism”. And for some, obsessing with “Imperialism” has become a full time job. From leaders of some of the poorest countries in the world worried more about shaking a fist at the outside world than feeding their people, to those not so angry at the Taliban for shooting school girls as they are at the US for talking about school girls getting shot, many have found “imperialism” a convenient fig leaf to hide their ugly ideologies.
Case in point: the President of Bolivia, Evo Morales. He has declared August 2 the “day against imperialism and colonialism” at a huge rally in which “revolutionaries” from many different nations, in Latin America and beyond, elevated him to hero status, and some of them suggested naming him “the world leader for social organizations and movements”. They showed their sense of paranoia by talking about NATO as a “threat” to Latin America (do they know the latter N in NATO stands for “north”, for crying out loud?) in the context of the formation of the Pacific Alliance. Curiously enough, while NATO is a military organization, Pacific Alliance is merely an economic cooperation pact, so how it makes NATO a threat to a country like Bolivia is a mystery to me.
But aside from Morales’ unsurprising rhetoric against real and imaginary enemies, he also had some bizarre things to say about personal hygiene. He said that “changing clothes frequently” was a sign of colonialism that had to be gotten rid of. He said that in his childhood, he would wear the same clothes until they fell off his body(!), and he would “only pull off his shirt to sew up worn out areas or to look for lice”.
I always knew getting hung up on “imperialism” was a lousy idea.