Monday, July 20, 2009

Imperial Overstretch

No, this has nothing to do with eating too much, although I must say that I've had a bit of that over the weekend just past. Actually, it's all about the old hypothesis that, like Rome and Britain, the maintenance of empire can lead to the collapse of commitment.

This can be seen in any sufficiently large organisation. The bread and circuses are still abundant, long after the driving force has turned into some sort of zombified parody of the original. In fact, to this day the memories of Rome and of Britain are dear to some people. We still have the mottos of elite schools in Latin, with British heraldry.

Why is this so? I think that we all fall in love with the greatest pomp in the direst circumstances. When it is gone, we remember the good times, but not the bad. And when overstretch has turned into decay, like the collapse of a soufflé, we still dream of an imperial zenith that perhaps never really was.

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