Defined Words: empire
When I use the word “empire” most of your brains will jump to either Star Wars, a dramatic show about a hip hop company, or a form of government with a single ruler. All three of these fall into my definition of empire but mine is a bit more expansive. An empire is a form of hierarchy where a single entity at the top has significant influence over a widespread audience.
You are already aware of many examples of empires. The British Empire, though they never had an emperor, had vast control over regions all across the world. They used to say “the sun never set on the British Empire” which is astonishingly accurate.
The American entertainment empire has reached all parts of the globe; you can go to any country in the world and find someone with a Superman T-shirt or a Michael Jordan jersey. In the case of the entertainment empire, the entity in charge is not a person but a few companies. While you might gain enough power to become CEO of single company, you don’t have an empire unless you have a large audience that you can affect. Similarly, if you fall down hilariously and the video goes viral all over the world, you might not have power to make any effect on the many people who recognize you.
The formation of an empire is a natural progression of competition. If an individual is well adapted for its environment for long enough, eventually it will reign supreme over competitors. This is the case with apex predators in nature as well as governments throughout history. The Macedonian empire was very good at fighting in a manner that protected its troops so they won a lot of battles. They exploited their adapted military advantage to conquer the rival empire of Persia. After the wars, only one empire remained; and it was even more powerful and widespread than before, seizing Persian territory for their own.
Modern empires formed in less violent ways due to the creation of money. Corporations that grow large enough to buy other businesses only increase their influence. Let’s look at the entertainment industry. Back in the early 1980’s, about 90% of the media was controlled by fifty companies; today, the same amount is controlled by six companies. This is not just a matter of survival of the fittest, rather an active pursuit by these companies to acquire the influence of smaller companies.
Empires allow for quick decisions to be made since only one individual, or a small group in some cases, has to come to that decision. An empire also means that the decision made by just a few has implications that can affect millions of other people. Alexander decided to chase down a single Persian general who caused him to keep conquering eastward; a rather silly reason to cost the lives of thousands. Most of today’s modern companies are led by a single CEO or a board of trustees, just think about how large of an effect on the world their decisions have.