American Insurgents

A Brief History of American Anti-Imperialism

All empires spin self-serving myths, and in the United States the most potent of these is that America is a force for democracy around the world. Yet there is a tradition of American anti-imperialism that gives the lie to this mythology. Seymour examines this complex relationship from the American Revolution to the present-day.

About the author

Richard Seymour is a socialist writer and columnist and runs the blog Lenin's Tomb. He is the author of The Liberal Defense of Murder (Verso, 2008), and The Meaning of David Cameron (Zero Books, 2010). He has contributed to Christopher Hitchens and His Critics: Terror, Iraq and the Left , (NYU Press, 2008) and The Ashgate Research Companion to Political Violence (Ashgate, forthcoming). His articles have appeared in The Guardian, The New Statesman, Radical Philosophy and Historical Materialism. Originally from Northern Ireland, he now resides in London, where he is studying for a PhD at the London School of Economics.



Praise for American Insurgents

“American Insurgents presents an indispensable history of anti-imperialist movements in the United States, beginning with the resistance to slavery and moving forward through the various seasons of U.S. imperialism. Seymour shatters a whole host of standard misconceptions about resistance to overseas adventures, refuting the common portrait of a US public apathetic to the crimes of its government in foreign lands, documenting the many times that large movements have challenged the bipartisan support of empire-building, and highlighting the internationalist nature and diverse membership of these movements. He demonstrates that anti-imperialist efforts have been most effective when they have forged links of solidarity with the victims of US policies, when they have emphasized the connections between domestic oppression and overseas imperialism, and when they have maintained independence from the two major parties. The book is illuminated by the courageous and inspiring voices of US anti-imperialists, from Frederick Douglass to Muhammad Ali to current opponents of recent US wars in the Middle East.”
—Michael Schwartz, author, War Without End

“In the tradition of Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States and Joe Allen’s Vietnam, Richard Seymour shows that, from Manifest Destiny and the ‘White Man’s Burden’ to ‘Humanitarian Intervention and the ‘War on Terror,’ U.S. imperialism has generated significant domestic opposition rooted in grassroots movements for racial, economic and social justice. Stressing the trap of Democratic Party co-optation, he offers important lessons about how today’s movements of the 99 percent can most effectively oppose wars of the 1 percent.”
--Michael Letwin, founding member, New York City Labor Against the War and Labor for Palestine —Michael Letwin, founding member, New York City Labor Against the War and Labor for Palestine

Praise for Liberal Defense of Murder

“Richard Seymour’s obsessively researched, impressive first book holds its place as the most authoritative historical analysis of its kind”

“[T]ruly impressive breadth and depth ... [providing] ... a new European perspective – and a warning – on the left’s pragmatic and ultimately shortsighted support for imperialist adventures”
—Journal of American Studies

“[A] powerful counter-blast against the monstrous regiment of ‘useful idiots’” who have “contributed in recent decades to the murderous mess of modern times”
— Times of London

“[A]n excellent antidote to the propagandists of the crisis of our times”
—Independent on Sunday

“[T]imely, provocative and thought-provoking”

“Among those who share responsibility for the carnage and chaos in the Gulf are the useful idiots who gave the war intellectual cover and attempted to lend it a liberal imprimatur. The more belligerent they sounded the more bankrupt they became; the more strident their voice the more craven their position … Richard Seymour expertly traces their descent from humanitarian intervention to blatant Islamophobia.”
—Gary Younge

“Indispensable … Seymour brilliantly uncovers the pre-history and modern reality of the so-called ‘pro-war Left.”
—China Miéville

“[E]ssential reading”
—New Statesman