March 05, 2018

The Trap of Empire and Authoritarianism

By Robert Kaplan

For thousands of years the tragedy of politics has been that empire affords the answer to chaos. Imperialism, as the Oxford historian John Darwin says, “has been the default mode of political organization throughout most of history,” as the capabilities needed to build strong states, owing to the patterns of geography, were never evenly distributed, so that one ethnic group usually emerged to rule the territory of others. Yet, because conquest leads to conceit, militarism, overextension, and bureaucratic calcification, the very act of building an empire indicates, in the view of German philosopher Oswald Spengler, decadence and cultural decline. Empires (especially those of Great Britain and France) were never so obvious as before their collapse.

Read the full article in The National Interest.

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