Saturday, February 20, 2021

The Rapid Expansions and Contractions of the West

Plato speaks about Zeus Herkeios (the divinity who is the guardian of the house in Greek mythology) as the protector of the borderlines between city-states. He holds that the borderlines (which he names “haroi”) are divine [see Plato’s dialogue, the Laws].  In the Western tradition, there has been a conception of borderlines between nations since the time of Plato. But the borders of the kingdoms of the Western tradition have never been fixed—they have expanded in times of rise and contracted in times of fall. The conquering forces of Alexander the Great, the Macedonian king, marched till the borders of India, but within months of his death, his empire splintered into several parts. The Roman Empire, the first great empire of the Western tradition, at its zenith controlled much of Europe, and parts of Middle East, North Africa, and Asia, but at the time of its fall, it lost even its capital city, Rome (to the Visigoths); the Eastern Roman Empire remained in the Western fold till the fifteenth century, when it was conquered by the Ottomans, and this area is now home to a culture that is West’s great rival. The British Empire, at its zenith, was the ruler of nations in every continent, but between 1935 and 1955, it lost every colony and became restricted to its original island in the north of Europe. The fate of the American Empire might be similar to that of the empires of Alexander, the Romans, and the British. America does not have satellite kingdoms like Alexander and the Romans, or colonies like the British, but it has exercised great power on international politics since the Second World War, especially after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, when it became the world’s only superpower. But now American culture and power are diminishing at a great pace, and the Western civilization is contracting. In the next ten or twenty years another power might emerge to fill the vacuum in international politics.

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