This is a reflection on the book, “Empire” by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri.
From the material, one can gather that the idea of globalization serves as precedent to the conceptions of an ‘empire’.
Etymologically speaking, the word empire is a derivative of imperialism, the act of one country or state expanding its power over another state or other states by use of means such as military force or civil negotiations that nevertheless subjects the country being pursued for conquest.
Historically speaking, however, imperialism or empire has evolved in definition. The concept of imperialism is most associated to the Roman Empire, a time when the Romans possessed great subjugation of many parts of the world. The aspiration, mainly, was the furthest extension of their sovereignty or rule over peoples and their terrain, thus proving their strength and power.
Before I attempt to define empire as I understand from the book, first it is important to point out what I mentioned as its precedent, globalization. Globalization, first and foremost, is an infiltration of culture. This permeation of culture is the very heart of interdependence. We become interdependent, first, through interpersonal relations. By interaction with individuals originating from places divergent to one’s own understanding of others’ beliefs, ideas, and manners is spawned. As people are assimilated to varying cultures, understanding of one another makes people connected. Humanity is joined by this ability to relate to diverse people, thus the ability to understand others’ environment and background.
Through this understanding or ability to relate, it makes possible collaboration. Collaboration is vital in making feasible economic and political integration. When people are able to work together, many things are made possible. Globalization would not be a reality apart from this synergy.
Hence, globalization births empire. Empire now are the overlaps and expansion that comes from the fusion of a state’s politics and economy. The dominion is boundless. The aspiration of making the world one is not always a deliberate or purposeful act. Globalization makes it inevitable. On the other hand, supranational powers such as the United Nations, World Bank, and IMF, among others, allows furtherance of its reality.
One can realize then that whereas with the imperialism of ancient times, there is one ruling state; in today’s imperialism, however, the presence of one ruling power is absent. Instead there are several major powers, e.g. US, China, UK, France, that brings principal influence. This is a personal view though, although it is true that international organizations advances globalization, too, through their cooperation with these superpowers.
The dissonance would come from the empire’s inability to define and delimit borders. For Hardt and Negri, there must be a proselytizing of the empire for reasons that it brings injustice and inequality. Superpowers and IOs would allow policy formulation that may not be vested in the interest of the people, but in the continuance of certain powers’ supremacy.
More than anything, the insight this reading bestows is the understanding of how the conquest ability and strategy of countries have evolved from the time of the Roman Empire to present day. Before, it may have been one country aiming to seize sovereignty from countries. Now, it is several super powers – countries and IOs – cooperating to maintain their own.