Lines of communication

This is kind of a brain fart, a half-formed thought that's been kicking in my head for a few days. Bear with me, here.

Yesterday, I spoke a bit about history. And I'm going to carry on in that vein, with a quick little observation that was half pointed out during a class a few years back, by my very wise (and wry!) professor, Clarence Bolt.

It goes like this - empires have a tendency to form. Empires are composed of many different peoples, of many different cultural habits. For an empire to remain an empire, and not dissolve into many disparate pieces, the core of the empire has to control the periphery.

It can do this with force, or with commerce, or with many other means. But whether you want to control your fringes through force of arms, mercantile/economic controls, or through cultural assimilation, you need to have one thing first - communication. You need to be able to keep the lines of communication open in your empire. If your people speak different languages, your roads and sea-lanes are dangerous to pass, and the cultural differences between your disparate peoples are too great, your empire is in danger.

A recent theory that has emerged is that Rome made it as an empire because it ranged from East to West. See, cultural factors rely upon environmental factors - all desert cultures share common traits, for example. Since the roman empire was all on the same rough longitudinal lines, and therfore in the same climate band, the cultures that fell under Roman control shared many similar traits - you could live on the eastern border of the empire or the western border, and still be eating the same crops.

Compare that to the new world, where the Incan empire was arranged on a north/south axis that, so the theory goes, made the government doomed from the start. The people ate different food due to climate differences. And a jungle people overseeing a desert people meant neither culture was sensitive to the others' needs.

Okay. Following me so far?

We can presume that holding open lines of communication, cultural and economic as well as military, are the means to successful empire-building. The thing is, today, it is possible for there to be no "core" of the "Empire". And the lines of communication have changed from roads and seaways to telecommunications and the internet. In short, the globalisation of the world has enabled the possibility of a one-world empire.

While I don't think we'll see anything like that in any of our lifetimes, I imagine it'll happen in the next few centuries - a one world government. And it's the type of thought that brings me great happiness.

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