Sunday, May 18, 2008

Nuts and bolts of empire

In many of the history podcasts, recently as well as over all time, a lot of attention is paid to empires, without digging too much into what constitutes an empire or rather what allows an authority to govern a wide stretched territory spanning many lands, religions and cultures, whether it is the British Empire, the Roman, Persian, Chinese or other. At the London School of Economics Professor Paul Kennedy held a lecture which addressed this technical issue. The lecture was podcast both by LSE as well as UChannel. Appropriately it got the title Nuts and bolts of empire.

All great empires have required a sophisticated logistical system, and a secure communications system to sustain themselves. In a world of endless challenges imperial ambitions soon collapse. This lecture will examine the hard, infrastructural underpinnings of the Roman, Spanish and British Empires, and reflect on how the USA compares in this regard.


Kennedy emphasizes tow aspects of empire, one is efficient infrastructure, the other healthy finances and proper auditing of the such. Empires cannot live without an efficient structure of transport and communications, lest the rulers can't know what goes on and properly, coherently respond. However, such large-scale structure is a costly enterprise and therefore the empire needs to make sure at all time it can sustain it in the long run. Kennedy argues that most empires fall under the weight of their expenses and the question whether the US should be regarded as an empire is evaded but nevertheless a warning is implied towards the current delicate finances of the state.

More LSE:
Islam and Europe - LSE podcast review,
Beyond the genome.

More UChannel:
Islam meets Europe,
The rise and demise of Palestine,
Alan Johnston,
Nuclear Terrorism,
Attack Iran (or not).

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