The Roman Empire never in fact knew total power. Power was limited by the inability to control the economy, by inefficiency, by instability, by corruption, by tradition and most of all by lack of a motive to attempt the transformation of society — such as ideologies have given to some modern states. Systems of government were often imposed on systems of society with astonishingly little systematic integration, leading lives of their own, the societies readily outliving states. ‘Kings may come and Kings may go, but we go on forever’, said the peasantry. Marxists and liberals today both see total power as a unique product of the modern world somehow related to science, technology, industrialism, comprehensive ideologies and, some say, secularisation: their ‘necessary logic’ or their wilful abuse.
KeywordsEurope Turkey Egypt
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