Discussion in 'Science & History' started by Kazmarov, Apr 11, 2009.

  1. Kazmarov

    Kazmarov For a Free Scotland

    What's your general opinion of empire, looking back at history? One can look back at home and see modern roads, technology, and architecture. One can also look at Britain and see intolerance and genocide. Is empire's ability to advance civilization as a whole worth the negatives?

  2. TheDonkeyofPoker

    TheDonkeyofPoker Registered Member

    empire building brings evolution of science and technology
    with out one you don't have the other....

    I think most lack and give appreciation to those that have fought for what we do have and take advantage of our many freedoms while even in todays living others live with out clean water and food.

    Historically speaking I believe the negatives are worth it... sometimes
    I would prefer a grey answer but that isn't so simple, things like the nukes being used are so horrifying and now that technology is being used to save lives.

    side note: no empire has survived after showing a rapid growth, the turtle always wins
  3. Bjarki

    Bjarki Registered Member

    I think it's a good idea to seperate empire and civilisation. Being civilized doesn't naturally lead to empire-building (China?), nor does empire-building lead to civilization (Mongols?).

    The very essence of the word 'civilization' implies progress. The goal of progress is hardly, if ever, the desire to bring intolerance and genocide. And I fail to see why these two should be necessary side-effects of the former.
    Tribes of people that lack civilization are just as intolerant as cultured beings, if not more, and may resort to genocide (once again: the Mongols) just as easily.

    I think the reason for our distaste of empires that use violence stems from christian/socialist values (the weak against the strong, David vs Goliath, the worker vs the capitalist), as well as from our natural disapproval of dishonesty and manipulation. We glorify primitive tribes, because we make it seem like they act according to their emotions and urges. We disapprove of the politics of empires because they are associated with lies, mind-games, backstabbing, divide and conquer, paying off enemies, etc. pretty much with anything that does not constitute a fair fight, but trickery and deceit.

    In reality, primitive tribes are not as upright as we make them out to be, nor are imperialists as immoral.
    As humans, they both do good and do evil. Empires have no worse history than the people they conquered. The only thing that differs is the scale and the fact that one came out as the loser and the other as the winner.

    Had the african tribes conquered Europe, the people of Zimbabwe would now have to account for the wrongs they have bestowed upon us.

    So, to answer your question, yes, the advance of civilization is a good thing. It doesn't ban out all forms of violence and intolerance, but it doesn't stimulate them either. Thus, the positive effects outweigh the negative ones.
  4. Sim

    Sim Registered Member

    There is a German political scientist who wrote a lot about empires. His name is Herfried Münkler, he teaches at Humboldt University in Berlin as political scientist and historian. Last year, I read his book on empires.

    He defines empires as a modus of rule by a central power within a realm of influence, that has to meet several criteria. Those I remember out of my mind are military superiority within its realm, cultural and economic attractivity that binds the "vassals" to the empire, and an "imperial mission".

    According to him, China was an empire during most of its time, the British Empire was one, so were the Spanish a while before and Russia in the 19th century. And of course the Roman Empire was a prototype of an empire. Today, the USA is the only empire on this planet.

    Münkler sees the modus of rule of the empire in a positive light: According to him, empires are favorable over a multipolar order, because they guarantee more stability in international relations, they are more effective at ensuring peace and prosperity.

    He also sees risks for empires: When they emphasize their "imperial mission" too much (which in case of the US is spreading democracy, freedom and Western values), this may conflict with imperial reason, lead to an overextension and finally the fall of the empire due to an "imperial overstretch". This is what happened to the Spanish Empire, which at some point wasted immense resources at spreading Catholicism, until it eventually declined rapidly.
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2009

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