Posted 9 декабря 2022, 07:06

Published 9 декабря 2022, 07:06

Modified 25 декабря 2022, 20:55

Updated 25 декабря 2022, 20:55

Panegyric for empires

9 декабря 2022, 07:06
Марина Шаповалова
The best that we have in the world today, the entire cultural foundation with load-bearing pillars, was created by empires.

Marina Shapovalova, writer

You want my empire - I have it!

First, I love all empires. That's what they were in history, I love everything. It is on their cultural foundations that all of Europe stands. Aqueducts, the Colosseum, thousand-year-old roads, magnificent Pontic ruins - this is an empire. Luxurious Vienna, Istanbul, St. Petersburg - empires. The best period of formation and development of my native Taganrog and the entire region of the northern Black Sea and Azov regions is the empire. The richest and most widespread language today - English - is the fruit of the greatness of the British Empire. Which made it the language of a globally significant culture.

All world languages today, the languages of world culture are imperial. It couldn't be otherwise. The attraction of the peripheries to the imperial centers created cultural currents that fed the drives of development in the integrated spaces - through them, high culture reached the bearish corners of the Earth, and itself was enriched by their "human potential". Talents outside the imperial centers would wither in obscurity and wretchedness. Empires gave birth to globalization, which linked the world into a single whole. The empires made the European culture of humanism and progress globally dominant. Where in time, during the heyday, empires did not reach, there savages remained witnesses of gifts falling from the sky in the form of boxes of canned food. And with cultures reaching the heights of reed copies of airplanes.

And there is no need here about the suffering of the colonized natives - even without the colonialists they did not bathe in luxury and prosperity. And they had no idea about freedom at all. Since they were sold into slavery to white exploiters by their tribal elites. Otherwise, they themselves would have killed and eaten useless extra tribesmen.

And, yes, any non-serf imperial subject of the 17-19 centuries had more personal freedom than citizens of modern nation-states. Empires cared little for them - usually guaranteeing villagers and townspeople only protection from the raids of wild neighbors - but they did not interfere in their personal lives at all. There were no restrictions on movements and activities, little regulation, no reports were required. What then seemed to the subjects of hardships and obligations, today would pass for an unimaginable liberty.

By the way, no one forced anyone anywhere into the “imperial identity”. And they did not seek to lure. If you don't want to, live in your own village, aul, religious or ethnic community; if you don't understand the language of the sergeant and the clerk, that's your problem. The imperial language and religion were in themselves too tempting a pass to the "big life". Of course, first of all for local elites. But just smart and quick-witted people also managed to get it, which was almost impossible in closed, non-empire tribal communities with their more rigid traditional hierarchies.

The best that we have in the world today, the entire cultural foundation with load-bearing pillars, was created by empires. The period of decolonization with the formation of nation-states surpasses the imperial period, perhaps only in the scale of rampant xenophobia and military losses. But - at times. If not dozens of times in the last century alone. And the bloodiest wars were fought for the right to speak and write in their own, and not in the imperial language. Although, it would seem, who forbade it.

… A few years ago, I asked a decolonized Namibian how important it was to him that he now had the opportunity to receive an education in his native (Herero) language. He waved his hand in annoyance, and then showed me a photo of his daughter on his phone: here, she studied at school in English, so she is now studying at a university in the USA. Then he can live and work wherever he wants, in any country. And I, I said, went to school when we became independent, and they began to teach us in Herrero, but where with him? English, he said, I later learned myself, but I can only earn money on this car ... Yes, he did not remember anything about the horrors of colonialism. Well, he was small, of course.