The Thucydides Trap (Castalia Edition)

Forget great power competition. The real Thucydides Trap is the one that Castalia History has laid for unwary book collectors and armchair historians. If you’d like to see the final stamp design of the first book in the series, you can see it at Castalia Library. It’s scheduled for binding the week of March 8th and it is a behemoth of a book.

With regards to the fourth book in the History series, in the latest selection posted, Sir Charles offers profound observations about the past that reflect directly on our future. Consider how well his description of a transformed political perspective applies to the post-WWII United States and what that implies for the future of its empire.

Two centuries and a half later there was a good example of political perspective being upset for a whole nation, not by catastrophe, but by sudden expansion. I allude to the Greeks, and the result on their view of the world caused by the exploits of Alexander the Great. The Macedonian conquest of the East revolutionized the relations of the active and high-cultured little states of Greece, both with each other and with the outer world. Civic patriotism received a blow, but in return the establishment of the new Macedonian Empire offered many compensations both to the state and to the individual. If a man consented to forget that he was an Athenian or a Corinthian, and merely to remember that he was a Greek, what was more inspiring than to see that the old Hellenic genius for colonization was not extinct; to behold every land from the Aegean to the Indus covered with Greek cities as large and splendid as any that had ever existed in the old motherland…

While the empire of the Eastern world was being won by the Tigris, fights at home between small armies for a strip of plainland or a border fort seemed contemptible and absurd. For the Greeks who had thrown themselves into Alexander’s great adventure the national perspective had suddenly enlarged from a view of the Aegean to a view as far as the Oxus and the Indus. The Hellenic world had been increased twenty-fold. Why discuss constitutions any more, or indulge in petty faction-fights, when the man with a brain and a sword had the universe at his feet? The vision was illusive, and ended in a veneer of Greek civilization imposed on the East for a few centuries, at the cost of the exhaustion and debasement of the civilizer.