is perhaps the best judge of time, for only the best can truly stand
the test of time, and yet remain the best. There have been many
civilizations in the past, but very few have survived; the rest
have been replaced. No one civilization lasts forever and even the
strongest and best of them all reaches the day when it crumbles,
only to be washed away by the sands of time! Yet what causes them
and inefficient and ineffective rulers is one of the most common
causes. The Shang dynasty met its end at the hands of an inefficient
ruler, who only knew how to please his concubine, or so the story
goes, where he supposedly lighted all the fireposts (which were
used in wars to call back the officials from faraway provinces to
the capital) and made a mockery of his officials who rushed back
to "rescue" him, only to find the king extremely happy,
because his concubine was finally amused and gave him a smile. Not
surprisingly, like the boy who cries wolf, nobody believed him the
next time round he lighted the fireposts, when the people of Chou
invaded him, and thus, he met his tragic end, and with it, was the
end of the Shang dynasty.
common cause : weak military power. Weak military power, in the
olden days, did not only mean a civilization could not invade its
neighbors and expand its power; it also meant itself was susceptible
to attacks by greedy neighbors, being unable to resist the military
mightiness of the latter. The Persians were able to conquer the
last of the Mesopotamians, which included the Assyrians and Babylonians,
because of their military might. Similarly, the Persians themselves
met the same end when Alexander the Great grasped the reins of power.
Under the military leadership of Alexander, the Greeks finally managed
to the subdue the thorn in their flesh for many centuries--the Persians.
above two reasons are perhaps the only root causes of the fall of
an empire. Everything else branches out from there; inefficient
administration-a result of a weak ruler, rebellions by one's own
people--because the ruler is a tyrant, because the empire possesses
some rare raw materials--unable to withstand the attacks by the
greedy neighbour because it is weak militarily.
if the reasons are the same throughout the whole time of history,
then why has nobody managed to prevent it? What lessons can we learn
from the fall of an empire? How may we apply these lessons to modern
how has these lessons affected the way we run our society today?
For example, does the high expenditure on military for almost every
nation in the world be because the nation fears an attack by its
neighbor? What other side-effects do you think these lessons have
Emperors was one reason why the mighty Roman empire fell.