Empire, anarchy, democracy
A civilized human society is based on collective labour that requires some social organization. On the other hand, individual behavior has quite definite basic principles and they leave only quite a few possible variants of social structure. This is like a crystal where its shape is determined by its molecules. All these variants may be enumerated and explored with mathematical precision.
This is a socium without hierarchy. All members are equal and nobody subdues to some will. Self-regulation is based on consensus. Is it possible? We know that even a group of monkeys has an explicit hierarchy. Yes, it is because a school of fish has no visible leadership.
This word was discredited after WWI, but before that it was a dream for any ruler. Moreover, several great conquerors tried to establish control over the whole world and came close to this goal. At present, objective facts show that creating ever-expanding empires was a mainstream historical tendency. In details, the process is very simple. It started with the creation of the first city-states of Mesopotamia. Textbooks of history tell that peasants lived in villages, craftsmen - in cities, and they traded with each other. The reality is different. The city hosted a king's palace and surrounding villages served the monarch and his court. This is a stable basic structure which further reproduced itself according to the principle of fractal design. One of these kings subdued the others. They paid tribute and thus enforced him and locked own subordination. This is a sample kingdom consisting of several cities. It started similar interaction with nearby nations. One can consider Sumer and Elam as an example. When one rival subdues the other, an empire is formed. It can concentrate even more wealth in its capital and the process of expansion continues until some empire covers the whole world. At this point, wars stop and the government can concentrate on development and self-perfection. For example Darius I of Persia could afford a project similar to the Suez channel.
An empire has its advantages and shortcomings. As a plus, it provides that same coordination required for substantial efforts. As soon as regional empires were established, they started to support science and culture, built roads, and completed other useful projects. The Persian Royal Road is regarded as a precursor of the Great Silk Road. Small kingdoms simply could not afford such things. Meanwhile even in the first city-states a king protected peasants from various intruders.
On the other hand, an imperial structure is just an extension of the central power. In the extreme case of absolute monarchy, the whole empire is a supplement to the body of its emperor. Instead of making something with his own hands, he just orders and gets this done. In fact, the whole court and citizens of colonies satisfy the needs of the emperor. They work so as to ensure his existence. In more realistic cases, the social pyramid has a flat summit. It is ruled by a narrow group and the whole empire satisfies the needs of this group.
In return, the ruler ensures the existence of his citizens. In an ideal empire, the emperor takes care of all. Everyone is useful and valuable. In the most dirty cases, the population is simply a substratum for the elite. People is left to survive by itself and the rulers just pick up the necessary number of servants from this pool.
This form of social organization became mainstream after World War II. Before the 20 century, people lived mainly in kingdoms and empires. Despite decades of official recognition, nobody still can't definitely explain what it is. Again and again, people argue about what is democratic and what is not. This is because it is a palliative solution. A real democracy may be anywhere between complete anarchy and absolute empire.
Copyright (c) I. Volkov, May 20, 2020