USE the World (a manifesto)

Also included in the Chicago Cultural Center exhibition is a copy of Mills’ USE the World (A Manifesto) (USE standing both for United States Empire and the words more ordinary colloquial meaning). This work is a deadpan discussion of the justifications for the land grabs that underlie the Future States project. In many ways, its language, reasonable on the surface, but tied to a wildly absurd conclusion, is reminiscent of the 18th century satirist Jonathan Swift’s famous essay, A Modest Proposal. 

Like Mills, Swift uses the apparently rational arguments to lead the reader toward a shockingly inhumane social proposition. In Swift’s case this is a solution to the problem of Irish poverty that involves serving up the children of the poor as gourmet meals. In a similar way, the USE Manifesto begins by noting that the US must stop feigning benevolence toward the rest of the world and start acting in a way that serves its own interests. From there it goes on to detail the benefits to the United States in taking over such countries as Iceland, South Korea, Qatar and Iraq. As with A Modest Proposal, the tone is almost boringly bureaucratic and the references to similar acts in U.S. history make it seem quite logical. Like Swift, Mills is daring his audience to take the statements at face value, thus forcing them to own up to their own darker impulses.

 –Eleanor Heartney, “Dan Mills – The Will to Power” essay, Dan Mills: Quest & US Future States Atlas and related material catalogue, Chicago Cultural Center & Zolla/Lieberman Gallery, 2012