Among Empires: American Ascendancy and Its Predecessors by Charles S. Maier

By Charles S. Maier

Modern the US, with its unprecedented armaments and ambition, turns out to many commentators a brand new empire. Others angrily reject the designation. What stakes might being an empire have for our id at domestic and our function out of the country? A preeminent American historian addresses those matters in mild of the historical past of empires given that antiquity. This elegantly written publication examines the constitution and influence of those mega-states and asks no matter if the USA stocks their characteristics and behaviour. Eschewing the traditional specialise in present U.S. overseas coverage and the hot spate of professional- and anti-empire polemics, Charles S. Maier makes use of comparative background to check the relevance of an idea frequently invoked yet no longer constantly understood. Marshaling a awesome array of evidence--from Roman, Ottoman, Moghul, Spanish, Russian, chinese language, and British experience--Maier outlines the necessities of empire all through background. He then explores the workout of U.S. energy within the 19th and 20th centuries, conscientiously interpreting its fiscal and strategic assets and the nation's dating to predecessors and competitors. To inquire approximately empire is to invite what the us has turn into due to its wealth, inventiveness, and pursuits. it really is to confront lofty nationwide aspirations with the realities of the violence that frequently attends imperial politics and hence to question either the prices and the possibilities of the present U.S. worldwide ascendancy. With studying, dispassion, and readability, between Empires bargains daring comparisons and an unique account of yankee strength. It confirms that the difficulty of empire has to be a priority of each citizen. (20070601)

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Extra resources for Among Empires: American Ascendancy and Its Predecessors

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More generally, the empire opens up the formal claims to participation in public life or citizenship but reduces their substantive role. For critics of this system in the nineteenth and twentieth century, the process of undermining effective checks and balances, advice and consent, legislative debate, and the rights of free public political discussion would be described as “caesarism,” even if it yielded only purportedly abusive executive control without formal empire. ” During the transitional stalemate between a menacing rising proletariat and the threatened but tenacious class of capitalist owners and managers, parliaments necessarily became paralyzed and ineffective for containing the so-called masses.

14 Even if one remains reluctant to use the term empire with respect to the process by which America acquired its overseas power and influence, the institutions through which that dominance is exercised do 32 What Is an Empire? qualify, I believe, as imperial in many significant respects. Empires are a particular form of state organization in which the elites of differing ethnic or national units defer to and acquiesce in the political leadership of the dominant power. Whether out of constraint, convenience, or conviction, they accept the values of those who govern the dominant center or metropole, although they often seek to implant or influence those very values.

Tocqueville famously foresaw that Russia and the United States would be megapowers, but Russian expansion from the Baltic and Black Seas to the Pacific and into Central Asia resulted in an empire, whereas American expansion from the Atlantic to the Pacific allegedly produced just a big and influential country. Of course, the Russians organized their state around a self-proclaimed tsar or caesar and a hereditary nobility of state servitors, whereas Americans designed institutions that eliminated hereditary rank (African-Ameri- 31 recur ring str uctures can slavery excepted) and inhibited centralized control.

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