Friday, October 18, 2013

The Cost of Running an Empire

One of the sad legacies of both the Roman and the British Empires is the inter-racial and iter-religious strife they left behind.

It is no secret that one can manipulate very large objects if they are balanced on a principle axis.  Many pictures of rocks here.  It is the same with an empire.

The game plan

One way to control a sub-continent with a very small contingent of men is to harvest the sinews of war from the subdued lands and peoples.

  • The Sikh policed the Muslims.
  • The Muslim policed the Hindus.
  • The Hindus policed the Sikh.

Any pre-existing animosities were carefully fanned, like ropes being tensioned to support a tower, to bring the masses into balance.

The over-lords never feared that the police would be too gentle, never feared that the troops would look out over the mob and see their uncle Dilip, or Achmed, or Sandeep, never feared that the troops would ever hesitate to pull the trigger or butt-stroke a protestor.


The technology brought into play by the Romans and the British was solid, but never two quantum leaps ahead of the local technology.  One man cannot rule ten-thousand without the buy-in of some of the ruled.

The magazine of a SMLE .303 holds 10 rounds.  One might be able to use the bayonet and butt to subdue another 20.  But then the carrier would be buried.

The coin of the buy-in was fear.  It was the absolute certainty in the mob that the carrier of the weapon would harvest his 30 before being overwhelmed.  There was NO chance that the carrier would willingly surrender his weapon, all bullets fully intact, over to the mob.

The Cost

The cost of the strategy, as elegant as it was from one perspective, was the animus  deeply embedded in the cultures of the subjugated peoples.

The Muslim may not have cared for the Hindu before the conquest.  Afterward they held a deep and enthusiastic loathing based on memories of Achmed being bayonetted in the streets.  These are the peoples who savor and cultivated 400 year old feuds in the Balkans.

The Hindu hate the Sikh and Muslim.  The Hindu have the cultural cajones to starve to death rather than eat the animal that will plow their rice paddies when the monsoon returns.  They have the strength of culture to maintain that taboo through one hundred good years, through 4 generations...until the next drought comes.  It is likely that their hate, loathing and anger can also survive as many generations unabated.

Sikh hate the Muslim and Hindu.

The etc. minorities ended up roadkill.

The American Empire

It begs the question:  Why are the forces in power actively choosing to embrace this trajectory?

Are we being "groomed" to devolve from a Republic to a subjugated people?

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