Edward Said's 1979 essay in the inaugural issue of Social Text, “Zionism from the Standpoint of Its Victims,” places before us the problem of the present moment of global power—the problem called “empire”—in terms of the specific intellectual/political task Said set for himself with respect to Zionism; that is, to bring out its concealed history as it was exacted, from somewhere and some people. We are urged to ask: How do we critically understand the idea of empire and the reality it is a part of? What does it mean to examine empire from the standpoint of its victims? This essay takes up the differences between an older imperialism and present-day empire, in order to envision what yet remains for us to consider in opposing its contemporary global rule.

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