Volume 7, Issue 2, 2010
Collective Karma and “Blowback”
In Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire, Chalmers Johnson offers a prescient analysis of the dangers presented by an unchecked U.S. military-industrial complex and the likely consequences of American interventionism abroad. Blowback’s prescience is revealed by the fact that Johnson predicted escalating terrorist attacks on the United States and its citizens prior to the tragedies of September 11, 2001. He goes on to predict the likely decline and ultimate collapse of what he describes as the “American Empire,” largely as a result of the socio-economic consequences of hyper-militarism and growing anti-American sentiment resulting, at least in part, from America’s aggressive militarism and persistent socio-economic meddling abroad. In this paper, I attempt to formulate the “consequences of American empire” as the fruit of what some Buddhists have termed “collective karma”. A proper analysis of collective karma will, I contend, illuminate the role of America’s military and economic imperialism as causal antecedents of “Blowback,” and will also help us grasp the degree to which American citizens unknowingly (or unthinkingly) support the U.S. military-industrial complex that virtually ensures resentment, hostility, and, ultimately, the collapse of the “empire” – and, with that collapse, the reaping of the bitter fruit of our collective karma.