American Empire: An Act of Collective Madness


“We’ve traded our Declaration of Independence for dependence on corporations and our Bill of Rights for corporate rights,” writer-director Patrea Patrick declares in her debut documentary. In Patrick’s thesis, which she and a small band of writers restate, again and again, America is no longer a “republic” but an “empire,” ruled by banks and corporations. This takeover was no accident, Patrick alleges, but a conspiracy that can be traced to the founding of the Federal Reserve Board in 1913, an idea hatched by six bankers meeting in secret. Having established that, Patrick and company chronicle, in a haphazard time scheme, the corporate takeover of every element of American life, from health care to agriculture, as well as the continued manipulation of the financial system. It’s easy to share Patrick’s outrage, particularly at the farm-killing corporatization of the America food supply, but the shrill litany of woes becomes numbing. The director appears to have filmed half a dozen talking-head interviews and filled the space around them with stock footage of the world’s ills, including images of children suffering from cancer, thanks, we’re told, to carcinogen-filled food. Phew! If the cabal doesn’t kill us first, extremist documentaries—from the left as well as the right—surely will. Chuck Wilson