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A Brief History of International Relations

The World Made Easy

Kathleen Brush

The world does not need to be complex and confusing. It can be made simpler so that the business, political, social, and economic implications of global news briefs beaming across televisions and electronic devices can be easily grasped. Key to this is knowing that a five-hundred-year competition for global supremacy between the Chinese, European, Islamic, and Russian empires only ended in 1945. When it did, the world had 57 independent nations. After all empires were dissolved in 1991, there were 193, and each nation carried histories of empires in the form of conquest, religions followed, languages practiced, diversified populations, repressive rule, and histories of discrimination. A Brief History of International Relations: The World Made Easy explores this history of global conflict to contextualize and simplify the often perplexing relations between nations and empires.

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Chapter 7. Political Systems: Aftermaths of Empire


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Aftermaths of Empire

The empires ruled with hereditary monarchies using autocratic political systems with significant overlap between church and state. Rulers exercised complete control of land, labor, and capital.

Athenian democracy, a product of the BC period, was an aberration; autocratic governments were the rule. A small democracy window opened in the 13th century. England’s Magna Carta tried to reign in their all controlling monarchs by constitutionally limiting power. The actual impact was limited. Still, the seeds of democracy were planted. The rulers, however, did not nourish them. Monarchs relied on the simplicity of inherited rule, control over the economic factors of production (land, labor, and capital), subjugated populations, and censorship of opposing positions. They would be destroyed by any type of bottoms-up rule like democracy or laissez-faire capitalism.1

Hereditary systems provided continuity of rule. A member of the House of Osman always ruled the Ottoman Empire, and members of the Imperial House of Yamato invariably ruled the Japanese Empire. In some empires, successful challengers initiated a new dynasty of hereditary successors, for example, the Qing Dynasty (1644–1912) followed the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644) in the Chinese Empire, and the House of Brunswick (1714–1901) followed the House of Stuart (1603–1642, 1660–1714) in the British Empire. The Russian Empire was a little different. It was forever controlled by the Romanov family even though rulers weren’t consistently Russians or Romanovs. ← 51 | 52...

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