Thucydides: The Peloponnesian War, Empire and Democracy


Rufus F.

Rufus is an American curmudgeon in Canada. He has a PhD in History, sings in a garage rock band, and does a bunch of other stuff.

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5 Responses

  1. Avatar DensityDuck

    “…when you compel men by force, they think of you as a superior, but when you rule them by laws, they feel cheated by an equal.”

    Like the man said, it’s better to be feared than to be loved.Report

  2. Avatar Barry

    ‘the man’ being Caligula, IIRC. Or another Ceasar.Report

  3. Avatar Rufus F.

    I think Machiavelli said it too. It’s the standard argument for getting out the iron fist. The people are complaining about being hungry, so we need to shoot a few so they’ll stop complaining.Report

  4. Avatar Kyle Mathews

    This is a really interesting take on democratic empires but I think it leans too heavily on the Athenian example which unlike the subsequent republic/empires of Rome and London, subjugated other Greeks, divided into city-states though they may have been. I think when you add in a layer of social identity, whether in racial or national terms, democracy and empire can actually be more compatible than the Athenian example suggests.

    The Romans after all had no trouble being brutal in their subjugation of
    the peoples of the Mediterranean and the provinces came into being before the fall of the Republic. The British colonial experience was starkly different depending on whether it was a white colony or not. So the ability of a metropole to harshly control a peoples it sees as other seems to be an enabler of democratic empire. The decline of which, like the increasing racial consciousness of the 20th century, makes it harder to reconcile the tensions you mention, Rufus.Report

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