If you dress this conceit up in SF clothes it is fiction of course: we are not inhabiting a VR matrix administered by guys in togas. The article I talked about in my last post dresses it in different clothes - the homogeneity of The West is in some manner a continuation of classical agrarian military civilisation, which shares with Dick's Empire an all-pervadingness that makes it hard to see, like the water that a fish swims in.
And then there is a third way of using the term: to refer to the American Empire, explicitly drawing a parallel with the sinister Empire of Star Wars, of PKD, of The Illuminati. All this to various levels of delusion or genuine political concern.
And a fourth way of using the term: The Empire is a metaphor for physicality, materiality, and Dick is claiming - like William Blake - that we are something other than flesh, caught up in flesh, so that we forget our selves.
What interested me was how easy it was to harvest all these thoughts from the Black Iron Network (i.e. Google) just by typing in a SF tagline: Least Original Thought of the Day 'There's a lot of SF fans on the Internet'.