The Three Stages of Empire

by Charles Hugh Smith
Of Two Minds

I consider it self-evident that we are in the third and final stage of self-serving Imperial decay.

Though Edward Luttwak’s The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire: From the First Century CE to the Third is not specifically on the rise and fall of empires, it does sketch out the three stages of Empire.

Here is the current context of the discussion of Imperial lifecycles: the U.S. defense budget is roughly the same size as the rest of the world’s defense spending combined:

[…] Luttwak describes the first stage of expansion thusly:

“With brutal simplicity, it might be said that with the first system the Romans of the republic conquered much to serve the interests of the few, those living in the city–and in fact still fewer, those best placed to control policy.”

The second stage spread the benefits of Empire much more broadly:

“During the first century A.D., Roman ideas evolved toward a much broader and altogether more benevolent conception of empire… men born in lands far from Rome could call themselves Roman and have their claim fully allowed, and the frontiers were efficiently defended to defend the growing prosperity of all, and not merely the privileged.”

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