Saturday, May 27, 2006

The weakness of empire
I noticed this in The American Conservative and so did Samer al-Batal, who writes:

On the classic shift (or mutation, or natural progression, depending on your point of view) from republic to empire and the interplay of elements from both: a look into basic concepts and how these apply in the case of the US.

Interesting is this brief tangential note that draws a distinction between the concepts of king and imperial ruler, pointing out amongst other things that a republic often proves to be the larval stage from which an empire emerges.
First of all, what is an empire? Empire has less to do with scale of realm or of power than it does with one single feature. Simply, it is a polity where politics itself revolves around the person of the emperor.

This differs from the politics of kingship. Kings represent and embody a densely woven social fabric. They preside over a society of aristocracy: an extended family of rule, where the king is also father. Empires in contrast often emerge from republics.

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