Thursday, August 23, 2012

Vanished Kingdoms

At The Browser, historian Norman Davies talks about his new book. An excerpt:

The topic is Europe’s extinct states. Not just kingdoms but empires, republics – polities of any sort which have ceased to exist. Which is a normal phenomenon. States always collapse and disappear, sometimes very quickly, sometimes after centuries or millennia, but they have a finite term in any part of the world. It’s just a given of human institutions. Sooner or later they fall apart and are replaced by something else. The key quotation is from Jean-Jacques Rousseau. He says, “The body politic, like the body of a man, begins to die as soon as it is born. It contains the seeds of its own destruction.” Brilliant. Absolutely spot on.

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