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Tuesday, November 5, 2019

On Empires and Republics

A good nation must be both: an empire and a republic; it should be founded on republican values while having the ability to act like an empire. The empire which is not based on republican principles will have a short life, and the same fate holds for a republic which lacks the ability to act like an empire, when the occasion demands it. The major republic cum empires in history are—the Roman Republic/Empire, the British Monarchy/Republic/Empire, and the American Republic/Empire.

The Roman Republic, within a few decades of its inception in 509 BC, developed the ability for being an empire. Starting from the city of Rome, it gradually gained influence over much of the Mediterranean world. After 27 BC it got transformed into an empire with republican roots—the Western Roman Empire lasted till 480 AD and the Eastern till 1500 AD. The British Empire was officially a monarchy, but it was founded on republican values —it lasted for almost 400 years (16th century to 19th century), and at its peak it controlled 25% of the planet.

America was founded on republican principles, but like the Roman Republic, it quickly developed the ability to act like an empire. Jefferson and Hamilton were enthusiastic about the prospect of their nation becoming an empire. After the First World War, America discarded all pretentions of republican isolationism—it became an empire with the messianic agenda of using its military, political, and economic power to assert its hegemony over the entire planet.

The republics that lack the ability for acting like an empire fail within a few decades—example, Ancient Athens, Renaissance Florence, etc. The empires that are not founded on republican values also fail in a few decades—example, the empires founded by Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan splintered after their death; the Soviet Communist Empire was finished in just 70 years (1922 to 1991); the Japanese Empire lasted from 1868 to 1947.

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