21 August 2007

Gilded empire

Jonathan Schwarz at A Tiny Revolution makes an extremely telling observation.
A country that can't keep its bridges from collapsing is not going to be running the world very much longer. That's the interesting thing about the standard historical trajectory of imperial elites ... at a certain point they either (1) forget the power they can wield outside their country ultimately derives from a healthy society beneath them, or (2) understand that but decide they'd rather be comparatively more powerful within a poorer society and less powerful outside.

To understand choice #2 it's useful to look at an extreme example, like Saudi Arabia ...

I got this from Patrick Nielsen Hayden, who quoted the whole example about Saudi Arabia, saying “This articulates and clarifies a whole bunch of things I’ve been coming to suspect for a very long time.” Yeah.

No comments: