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Beyond the clash of empires

Beyond the clash of empires

A world of living places

Empire’s law – The unbridled pursuit of power

I’ve seen this movie before.

A large and powerful nation attacks a small and weaker nation. Fiery explosions light up the night. Their thunder roars across the landscape while armored columns roll over the border. Shock and awe. Kyiv 2022. Bagdad 2003. It all looks much the same.

Empires press against each other. People are caught in the middle. In Ukraine, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan, to name a few of the recent battlegrounds. Roadkill in the imperial struggle for power. Leave aside the justifications and charges each side will throw against one another. The problem is as old as civilization itself. The problem is empire.

Empire has one law, one imperative. It is the unbridled pursuit of power and expansion, always ruled by an imperial class that concentrates power in its own hands. The nature of empire is to centralize as much power as possible until it sucks the life out of its vassals, its conquests, its lands, its slaves. Empires are parasites.

Empires knows no limits. Until they find them. In barbarian tribes. In other empires. In their own internal decay. They exhaust their own resources until they crumble under challenges they can no longer handle. It’s a story as old as the Akkadian empire, history’s first, beginning around 4,300 years ago, continuing through successor empires, Assyria, Babylon, Rome, and many others down to the present day.

That is what is happening in our time. Only the stakes are unprecedently high. Mesopotamian empires could fall and pass on a legacy of deserts, their formerly fertile soils salted by irrigation works. Rome could collapse and leave a time of breakdown and urban collapse in its wake. But yesterday’s empires were of limited scope…

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