Empires, Empire Building, and Wisdom

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The desire, on part of Sparta, to rule over it’s Greek neighbor, Athens, led to a war of attrition, a war that would result in emergence of Philip of Macedon as ruler of the world. If Alexander the Great, Philip’s heir had not attempted a conquest of India, he probably would have lived to a grand old age. The division of his empire among his generals would result in emergence of Rome as world Empire.

If the Western Roman Empire had left Britain well enough alone, perhaps it would have had more resources at it’s disposal for fighting off of the Visigoths. The demise of the Western Roman Empire, which already was fait accompli by 476 AD, would precede that of the Eastern Roman Empire by almost a Millennium.

If the Christian Byzantine Empire (CBE), which doubled as the Eastern Roman Empire, had not, subsequent to 1055 AD gotten caught up in Empire Building, rather had focused on ruling it’s existing territories well, perhaps the Empire does not cease to exist in 1453 AD. It is fact of history that up until about 1071 AD, with the CBE commencing way back in 325 AD, the CBE had not suffered any military defeats. It is fact of history then that demise of the CBE can be linked with Empire Building. In this respect, history records as follows.

Prior to 1056 AD (acronym ‘HWE’ explained at end of post):

“Every effort was made to protect the free small farmer, the backbone of armed service. Governors of themes were forbidden to own lands within their jurisdiction or to marry into local families. Imperial laws attempted to prevent the purchase of land by wealthy land owners (HWE, pg. 168).”

Starting about 1056 AD:

“The trend toward privatization of land and military predominance had begun under the previous dynasty when the emperor had given out immense lands to local magnates in exchange for military support. These grants, known as pronoia, were at first not supposed to be hereditary possessions, but in time they became so and took on a nature similar to the fief in western European feudalism (HWE, pg. 168).”

It is fact of history. Ultimately, Empire Building results in demise of Empires.

In king Nebuchadnezzar’s Empire, people brought from other lands did not end up as gladiators in some arena feeding people’s interest in gore and blood, rather became part of the intellectual and social capital of the empire. By the timing of the decision to subjugate Greece, the Medo-Persian Empire, inheritor of the Babylonian Empire had devolved into Empire Building as subjugation and humiliation of people. By the same token, the Greek Empire commenced as a resistance to war as vehicle for subjugation and humiliation of people. Eventually, Alexander the Great would seek to invade India merely as proof of his military genius.

Rome emerged as world leader as resolution of the leadership void created by sudden death of Alexander the Great. Rather than adopt the emancipation agenda that was evident in Babylonian and Medo-Persian kings such as Nebuchadnezzar, Cyrus, and Darius, if the Romans brought people back from conquered lands, they were brought back either as slaves or as feeder for people’s inordinate desire for gore and blood. Granted, Rome allowed people self rule, merely casting itself as Lord Protector, as such reaping all of the benefits of international trade. This system did not, however, leave much room for interchange of ideas and building of an intellectual society, rather fostered reliance on cunning and political intrigue for arrival at self advancement.

It was by threatening an accusation to Caesar that Pilate was allowing someone in Palestine to claim kingship of the Jews that the Jews got Pontius Pilate to authorize crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

Every Empire starts off as an emancipator of people, then typically devolves into Empire Building whose goal is subjugation and humiliation of peoples.

The king who forged China into one Empire is reputed to have done it for the right reasons, that is, because the small feudal Lordships were rife with unnecessary rivalries and wars that adversely impacted the lives of the people. So then, the Chinese Empire starts off as a story of emancipation.

We know, of course, that the USA started off as a story of emancipation, a land that served as refuge for Christians experiencing persecution all over Western Europe. No matter how imperfect those people may have turned out to be, and no matter the atrocities that can be laid at the feet of the business interests that seized control of the resettlement agenda, the USA is an Empire whose foundation is rooted in emancipation of peoples.

The paths of the USA and China are not any different from those of the ancient Empires. They each started out as emancipating entities, but have allowed themselves to transition to Empire Building that is rooted in subjugation and humiliation of peoples.

During his 40-year reign, Solomon literally ruled over all of the land from the border of Egypt to the border of Asia. Kings paid tribute as recognition of Solomon’s greatness, but Solomon made no attempt to subjugate any king or kingdom. Consider, however, that Solomon never fought a single battle for maintenance of that border. Perhaps, more importantly, Solomon did not make any efforts to expand the land over which he ruled. Absent any military presence outside of his kingdom, Solomon continued to receive tribute from kings located within that land mass.

While it is true that his father, David had subjugated the surrounding kings, it takes a son who is deemed to surpass his father in greatness, for surrounding kings to, without any rebellion whatsoever, pay tribute to the heir to a throne.

With respect to warfare, it is a fact of life that wisdom is of greater importance than the size of a military force. This is the reason small armies have defeated much larger armies. When Pompey had the back of Julius Caesar to the wall, it was not the size of Julius Caesar’s military that won the day, rather, it was display of superior wisdom on part of Julius Caesar.

When the armies are about equal in size, wisdom makes all of the difference.

With respect to the notion that Solomon was characterized by extreme realization of wisdom, it indeed is clear from his writings that Solomon is one of the wisest persons ever to have lived on face of this earth. While persons who do not believe that life ought to have any sort of overarching ethos may disagree, for any person who believes that it makes sense for decisions and actions to have some overarching good ethos, the Books of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon provide advice that, having become mainstream over the years, this, because people became familiar with them, were, at the time postulated by Solomon significant insights into how to live right in relation to oneself and others.

Today, we take it for granted that the earth rotates around it’s axis, and revolves around the sun. When these truths were advanced by Copernicus, Johannes Kepler, and Galileo Galilei they were new and novel truths. They were so novel, Galileo would spend some time in jail for novelty of his predictions. It is important not to denigrate wisdom and intelligence, because what once was novel has become accepted as the ‘common sense’.

Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle were great philosophers.

Regardless, attempting to compare the philosophical writings of Plato and Aristotle with those of Solomon is like attempting to compare a model that cannot be reliably tested with a model whose parameters already exist in society. In terms of practical wisdom for day-to-day living, Solomon towers over and above any ancient philosopher.

Yet, during his reign, it is on record that silver was counted as nothing (1Kings 10:27), this because there was lots of gold available, meaning, absent any attempt at Empire Building, his people arrived at meaningful prosperity. This meaningful prosperity was achieved in context not of attempts at subjugation of other peoples, but in context of formation of business partnerships.

The lie that Empire Building belies is the belief that, absent subjugation of a greater number of people and resources, an Empire cannot maintain it’s prosperity. Consider, however, that via introduction of new strategies or technologies, farmers are able to squeeze out additional productivity from the same land they already have farmed for several years.

If farmers can squeeze out additional productivity from land that has been farmed for decades, Empires can squeeze out new productivity from existing resources.

If Empires would focus on stimulating innovation and productivity, as opposed to engendering of power plays, progress in innovation and productivity have capacity not only for maintaining existing prosperity, but also for increasing the prosperity of a people. Waging war, however, is easier than fostering innovation, hence devolution to the Lowest Common Denominator on part of Empires.

If Empires, such as the USA and China would focus on emancipation of their people, and fostering of innovation, which ultimately generates increases to productivity, in presence of the same land mass, it is fact of life and nature that ad infinitum prosperity is achievable.

In the words of king Solomon (words in brackets mine for arrival at an amplified reading)?

For wisdom is a defense (wisdom protects) as money is a defense (money protects), but the excellence of knowledge is that wisdom gives life to those who have it (of the two — wisdom or money — only wisdom, in of itself has capacity for production of a path that has new life — a liberating, higher productivity equilibrium path that negates demand for subjugation of new peoples and resources) — Ecclesiastes 7:12, NKJV.

HWE: History of the World: Earliest Times to the Present Day, 2015, Hall, J.W. (ed.), World Communications Group, Bridgewater CT.

Written by

Educator and Researcher, Believer in Spirituality, Life is serious business, but we all are pilgrims so I write about important stuff with empathy and ethos

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