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Sapiens - A Brief History of Mankind


  • Type: #non-fiction
  • Author: Yuval Noah Harari
  • Published: 2015

Chapter 11 - Imperial Visions

pg. 212

"Empires, too, ultimately fall, but they tend to leave behind rich and enduring legacies. Almost all people in the 21st century are the offspring of one empire or another"

What is an Empire?

" empire is defined solely by its cultural diversity and flexible borders, rather than by its origins, its form of government, its territorial extent, or the size of its population."

size doesn't matter, empires can be small e.g. Athenian Empire, Aztec Empire.

there used to be a LOT more differing types of people, tribes, groups of peoples, e.g. 371 tribes roughly under Aztec Empire.

pg. 213

"Empires were one of the main reasons for the drastic reduction in human diversity. The imperial steamroller gradually obliterated the unique characteristics of numerous peoples... forging out of them new and much larger groups."

Evil Empires?

pg. 215

contemporary critiques of empires

  1. they don't work
  2. if they do, you shouldn't cos they're evil

1 -- "plain nonsense" (authors comments) 2 -- "deeply problematic" (authors comments)

"The truth is that empire has been the worlds most common form of political organization for the last 2,500 years...Empire is also a very stable form of government."

Conquered people crap track record of freeing themselves, Empires have found it easy to put rebellions down, the conquered are slowly digested by the empire until the distinct culture fizzles out.

e.g. Western Roman Empire conquered Numantians, Averni, Helvetians, Samnites, Lusitanians, Umbrians.... hundreds of other peoples- all absorbed into Roman Empire. When it fell, these peoples didn't come out independent- there were none left, they're all Romans now. All descendents, now spoke, sang, traditions, religions, identity- all Roman.