Archives For Imperialism

 

Daniel Headrick - Power Over PeoplesWhen Technologies Take on a Life of Their Own.

A Featured Review of

Power over Peoples:  Technology, Environments, and Western Imperialism, 1400 to the Present

Daniel Headrick.

Paperback: Princeton UP, 2011.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]

Reviewed by Myles Werntz.

In an age of iPads, digital uploads, drone surveillance, and debates over the limits of the Internet, the question of whether or not “technology” is an unlimited good remains an open question. Proponents of the most recent iteration of the technology revolution will decry the naysayers as “Luddites”, while the inheritors of  Wendell Berry and Jacques Ellul will continue to remain suspicious of technology’s pervasive effects within society, and (more perniciously) over against society. As Wendell Berry has argued, technology may be an aid to communal life, or it can destroy it; the latter use of technological advances–the use of arrows in Genghis Kahn’s conquest of Asia, or the use of gunpowder to colonize Africa–remains the dark side of technological advances.

This last point–the relationship between technology and the subjugation of people is the subject of Daniel Headrick’s Power over Peoples: Technology, Environments, and Western Imperialism, 1400 to the Present, in which we are presented with an account of western imperialism, and its relationship to technology. Headrick notes that the common assumption is that imperialist cultures flourish because they are able to make use of superior technology. Such a narrative is too facile, Headrick argues, for it assumes that superior manipulation of natural elements (technology) always results in a successful conquest.

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“The Decline and Fall of Empire”

A Review of
The Rule of Empires:
Those Who Built Them, Those Who Endured Them,
and Why They Always Fall
.
By Timothy Parsons
.

Reviewed by Margaret D’Anieri.

[ Read an excerpt from this book… ]


The Rule of Empires:
Those Who Built Them, Those Who Endured Them,
and Why They Always Fall
.
Timothy Parsons
.
Hardback: Oxford UP, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

THE RULE OF EMPIRES - Timothy ParsonsAs I walked into a coffee shop recently, I noticed that the entryway was adorned with pithy sayings in the form of faux shaving cream on the clear doors and windows. One of those sayings was “build communities, not empires.” A new book, The Rule of Empires by Timothy Parsons, argues that empire builders often believed they could do both: expand the reach of political and economic control while building a communal identity that would better the empire’s subjects. Whether naïve belief or cynical rationalization, Parsons suggests that this construct is an empty one:

By their very nature, empires can never be – and never were – humane, liberal, or tolerant. Would-be Caesars throughout history sought glory, land, and, most important, plunder. This true nature of empire was more obvious in pre-modern times when it was unnecessary to disguise such base motives. In recent centuries, however, imperial conquerors have tried to hide their naked self-interest by promising to rule for the good of their subjects. This was and always will be a cynical and hypocritical canard. Empire has never been more than naked self-interest masquerading as virtue.

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Read an excerpt from

The Rule of Empires:
Those Who Built Them, Those Who Endured Them, and Why They Always Fall
.
Timothy Parsons.
Hardback: Oxford UP, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

Read our feature review of this title


 

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