« They're ALL war Democrats | Main | Apres Joe, le deluge »

Empire without an emperor?

By Owen Paine on Wednesday June 21, 2006 03:29 PM

Gad-flyby of the day :

In keeping with MJS's empire project -- or, how to build a flattened planet into a better profit mat -- do all empires, even corporate scalawag carpetbagger empires, need an emperor? If so, is a unitary presidency enough?

Comments (3)


There's a sort of notion that empires generally need to be more or less dictatorships, like Rome, but it ain't necessarily so. The Athenians (briefly) combined empire with an unprecedented level of democracy, and the Brits, during their stint as Top Country, expanded the franchise and became less rather than more oligarchic -- and dictatorship never seemed to be on the cards there. They even developed a Labour Party, which is more than we've got.

Somehow I don't think this is the trajectory that awaits the US, though. I'll have to put my thoughts in better order on this topic.

js paine:

yes there was athens
and the brits had
a neat trick going there for a spell didn't
i agree
though as a fenian reluctantly
to me london might as well have been rome

but t'is your point no doubt

Love the blog, recently introduced via Cursor. I would argue that a modern Empire does not need a figurehead anymore, it can be more like an oligarchy, and the oligarchy doesn't even have to meet physically in the same room anymore. A decentralized Empire.

For example, although Ken Lay set up so much of the groundwork, I think the California Power Crisis of 2001 might well have happened without him, in that (once the Deregulation laws were set up) all the players realized they could manipulate the market without having to resort to smoke-filled rooms and outright conspiracy. They simply, separately, individually, _saw_ the price signals and _knew_ what they had to do in order to drive the market bonkers and reap the profits. Similarly, since today's Empires are less about soldiers marching in formation than they are about "tribute" in the form of free-flowing capital, I think multinational corporate Empires can co-operate with the militaristic American government and send each other signals -- even unconscious ones -- about when and how to act in order to maintain hegemony... without needing a central figurehead to co-ordinate all the decisions. You might call it the Invisible Hand of Empire.

Post a comment

Note also that comments with three or more links may be held for "moderation" -- a strange term to apply to the ghost in this blog's machine. Seems to be a hard-coded limitation of the blog software, unfortunately.


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on Wednesday June 21, 2006 03:29 PM.

The previous post in this blog was They're ALL war Democrats.

The next post in this blog is Apres Joe, le deluge.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Creative Commons License

This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Powered by
Movable Type 3.31