THIS needs a PhD dissertation, but great empires collapsed for the same reason – nothing lasts forever.
However, we need to look at its causes.
Empires fall when the advantages of remaining in the empire decline, corruption of government officials, incompetent leaders, unfair restrictions, oppression, weakened defence capabilities and so on.
Empires fail when they exploit too much without sufficiently advancing the interests of the territory in the empire.
Rome withstood its enemies for 1,000 years and finally collapsed in 476 AD after decades of corruption, so weakened the empire that it could no longer stand.
Roman officials abused their positions to become fabulously wealthy, but the empire itself was running out of money.
They had come to believe themselves entitled to make as much profit from their official positions. Ambrose (340 AD-397 AD), the respected Bishop of Milan, wrote: “Everything was up for sale for a price, and this was what to begin with brought every evil upon Italy, and resulted in universal deterioration.”
As a consequence, the lack of discipline and training of the troops and the avarice of their commanders, the borders were left unsecured.
Nero is perhaps the best known of the worst emperors, having allowed his wife and mother to rule for him.
Even the election of popes was famously littered with corruption and nepotism, decadence and abuse of power in the holey office.
Fast forward, the Ottoman Empire was one of the mightiest and longest-lasting dynasties in world history. It ruled most of the Middle East, Eastern Europe and North Africa for more than 600 years.
Political corruption weakened them in face of Europe’s rising power. Other factors include poor leadership, having to compete with trade from the Americas and loss of Islamic character of the empire.
Current period, we see elites of modern America are more subtle – they purchase immunities through lobbying and campaign contributions. They spend 60% of their time hobnobbing and fund-raising. The result is multinational corporations and the wealthy are allowed to avoid taxes by hiding trillions overseas.
Mafia, and modern organised crime, which uses and benefits from government corruption, prosper and make vast amounts of money on criminal activities with bad consequences for the people.
The above shows corruption is one of the biggest causes of the collapse and an upsetting amount of familiarity with happenings in Malaysia currently.
The bombshell from the outgoing inspector-general of police (IGP) says it all.
Money meant to improve a nation goes to corrupt leaders and usually many countries are left weak and undeveloped.
They last while they can enrich the area and bring progress or bring a vision that creates a sense of unity, but disintegrate once they have nothing new to offer. They last while the population is too weak or too divided to kick them out.
Most are instinctively driven by their inherently self-serving and self-justifying nature, that distorts, corrupts even the best laid plans and excellent ideologies. Power can corrupt an inherently good man to become a power-hungry megalomaniac.
Sadly, there was not much support coming, especially from political leaders for the IGP.
Let us rise from following an instinctive and self-destructive path to a conscious and pleasant one by becoming more God-fearing and putting the interest of our beloved country first.
As the IGP was quoted: “I leave it to God and his judgment. I have cut down big trees for them to go through. He just needs grasscutters and cut lalang.”
Can we be the grasscutters to cut the lalang? But then, we need diligent supervisors or mandors to supervise us?
What say you … – May 1, 2021.
* Saleh Mohammed reads The Malaysian Insight.
* This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight.