The Rise and Fall of Empires
Harold Perkin discusses the role of the extraction and distribution of surplus production in historical change, from Ancient Egypt to the 21st century.
Global history has taken a boost from the current conflicts, protests and riots against corporate globalisation, and the threat of worldwide terrorism against the West. These events fit into a global pattern of the rise and fall of societies, that can be traced back to ancient times. True of all the ancient empires we know, the cycle of rise and decline appears to be accelerating. The twentieth century saw the collapse of seven great empires – Mandarin China, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Ottoman Turkey, Japan, the British empire, and twice over in the case of Tsarist and Soviet Russia. Since the events of September 11th, 2001, the twenty-first century seems likely to threaten the sole remaining superpower, the United States, with nemesis.
This article is available to History Today online subscribers only. If you are a subscriber, please log in.
Please choose one of these options to access this article:
- Purchase an online subscription
- Purchase a print and online subscription
- If you are already a print subscriber, purchase the online archive upgrade
Call our Subscriptions department on +44 (0)20 3219 7813 for more information.
If you are logged in but still cannot access the article, please contact us
- Middle East
- North America
- South America
- Central America
- Early Modern
- 20th Century
- 21st Century
- Economic History
- Environmental History
- Historical Memory
- Science & Technology