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But imperial success then sets in pace processes by which asabiyyah declines.Once it has collapsed, the lack can persist for centuries.One of the welcome aspects of his approach is that he is very cautious in applying it forward.
That empires are founded by militarily effective folk and militarily effective folk arise in areas of lots of prolonged military activity is hardly a startling claim.
Nor is that cooperation is necessary for military effectiveness.
He is very much of the view that the Byzantine Empire is such a different beast from the preceding Roman Empire: that it should be understood as, effectively, a new Empire.
Indeed, he regards the Empire as not being Roman in any useful sense after the crisis of the third century.
But his use of historical data rang true to me, and I certainly didn't catch any howlers (apart from one passage that used Dominate and Principate the wrong way round).
Indeed, his suggestion that persistent Chinese imperial unity (which, as he points out, is very unusual among human societies) was a result of nomad pressure is certainly a striking thought.
War and Peace and War: The Life Cycles of Imperial Nations is a book by a biologist (Peter Turchin) who has wandered into history (a la Jared Diamond): his website is here.
It is a very imaginative updating of Ibn Khaldun’s theory of cycles using modern demographics to explain the dynamics of imperial nations.
Far from it: he concedes the power of rational choice theory—indeed, uses it himself.
(His secular cycles are all about changing behaviour from changing incentives.) Turchin just believes it needs to be supplemented by the growing empirical data on human cooperative behaviours.