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The Empire Is Dead, Long Live the Empire!
June 3, 2011 9:56 AM   Subscribe

The Age of Imperialism is over, but its impact remains, leaving behind a long-lasting legacy through cultural norms. Comparing individuals on opposite sides of the long-gone Habsburg Empire border within five countries, it shows that firms and people living in what used to be the empire have higher trust in courts and police.
posted by -->NMN.80.418 (21 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
The Age of Imperialism is over

lol. No, wait, it's not actually funny that that's not really true.
posted by The World Famous at 10:04 AM on June 3, 2011


THE EMPIRE NEVER ENDED.
posted by Artw at 10:09 AM on June 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Imperialism is not simply foreign intervention in the affairs of sovereign nations. True imperialism is indeed over. What we have now is more complex and qualitatively distinct.
posted by clockzero at 10:10 AM on June 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Perhaps traditional imperialism is over. But economic and cultural imperialism is going strong.
posted by msbutah at 10:15 AM on June 3, 2011


I guess State didn't get the memo.
posted by No Robots at 10:25 AM on June 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, msbutah, I think I agree with you about what's happening in the world, but it's not entirely accurate to call it imperialism. Empires are first and foremost political entities, and so while there is a great deal of economic and cultural interaction between disparate nations of disparate capacities, which naturally will entail unequal power relations, it doesn't really constitute imperialism in the traditional sense.

On the other hand, how are we to characterize what we know actually is taking place? The traditional solution is to make reference to globalization, I suppose. Is this insufficient somehow?
posted by clockzero at 10:32 AM on June 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Can we have an end to "The Age of Declaring Things at an End" yet? That's what I'm most looking forward to at this point. In my short little lifetime I've witnessed the "End of History," the "End of Experts," the "End of the Music Industry," the "End of Communism," the "End of Capitalism," several "End of the Worlds," the "End of Poetry," the "End of Physical Media," the "End of the Microsoft Empire," the "End of Google," at least a half-dozen "End of the Internets"--and all that just barely scratches the surface of the (ironically) endless procession of common and proper nouns I've seen declared officially at an end in the last decade or so.

It seems to me if we keep letting our endings out-pace our beginnings at this rate for much longer, we're going to start running out of things to declare ended pretty soon, so at least there's some hope in that.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:38 AM on June 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


Age of Empires: a historical time period with a specific, precise (more or less) definition.

And a game that's much less popular than Age of Empires.
posted by -->NMN.80.418 at 10:52 AM on June 3, 2011


Saulgoodman, I think it's inherent in our nature to speculate about ends and beginnings. It gives people a usually-false sense of perceiving and grasping the significance of big, important trends. Although I share your irritation at flippant and unconsidered declarations of grand conclusions.
posted by clockzero at 11:00 AM on June 3, 2011


Is the actual paper available? I see the abstract, but not the paper.

From the first link:
Empires that ruled over long periods of time, sometimes for centuries, might have had enough time to build up formal and informal institutions that have lasted to the present day. In the context of Eastern Europe, the Habsburg Empire is considered to have had better administrative institutions than the Ottoman Empire or the Russian Empire (see Ingrao 2000). In contrast to these other empires in Eastern Europe, historians characterise the Habsburg bureaucracy as “fairly honest, quite hard-working, and generally high-minded” (Taylor 1948) as well as relatively well-functioning and respected by the population.

In a recent paper with Katrin Boeckh and Christa Hainz – specialists in the history and economics of Eastern Europe, respectively – we argue that this attitude created trust of inhabitants in the respectability of government institutions, with ensuing effects on the functioning of citizen-state interactions particularly at the local level (Becker et al. 2011). The formal institutions of the empire ceased to exist with the collapse of the Habsburg Empire after World War I, breaking up into separate nation states that have seen several waves of drastic institutional changes since. We might therefore wonder whether differences in trust and corruption across areas that belonged to different empires in the past really still survive to this day.

... the former Habsburg border cuts straight through five countries today – Poland, Ukraine, Romania, Serbia, and Montenegro (see Figure 1). In these countries, communities on the two sides of the former Habsburg border have been sharing a common statehood for generations now. We can thus restrict the analysis strictly to variation within individual modern-day countries, in order not to capture unobserved country differences. To identify the genuine enduring effect of the Habsburg Empire, we further restrict our analysis to a comparison of individuals living in communities located within 200km of each other on either side of the long-gone Habsburg border. In effect, we devise a border specification that exploits the geographical discontinuity created by the Habsburg Empire in Eastern Europe.
posted by russilwvong at 11:09 AM on June 3, 2011


Getting back to the content of the FPP on the historical legacy of "empires," I found this to be very interesting, especially this point:

Second and interestingly, the Habsburg effect does not vary systematically with the duration of Habsburg affiliation, consistent with models that predict persistent effects of limited exposure.

Indeed, the parts of Poland which were part of the Habsburg Empire had been incorporated between 1772 and 1795, while some parts of the Balkans were only part of the Empire since 1878 (de facto; these territories were technically considered to be part of the Ottoman Empire but "administered" by the Habsburgs; they weren't annexed outright until 1908).

I am reminded of the map which overlays the partitions of Poland between Prussia, the Habsburgs, and Russia in the late 1700s with voting patterns from the 2000s:
http://bigthink.com/ideas/21401
I should point out that the original poster on the blog lumps the former Russian and former Habsburg parts of Poland together (though they both voted similarly to one another and differently from the former Prussian part). The Habsburgs were, on the whole, MUCH more lenient with regards to Polish culture and language than were the Russians.

Of course, correlation does not equal causation, and all that...
posted by dhens at 11:15 AM on June 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I got a copy of the paper here, and it looks like they'll grant access to any American IP address.
posted by dd42 at 12:24 PM on June 3, 2011


I got a copy of the paper here, and it looks like they'll grant access to any American IP address.

Long live the Empire.
posted by codswallop at 12:58 PM on June 3, 2011


I got a copy of the paper here, and it looks like they'll grant access to any American IP address.

Long live the Empire.


Hey, the SSRN link works for me here in Brussels, thanks to the European Corporate Governance Institute!
posted by dhens at 1:21 PM on June 3, 2011


Is it really surprising that differences of outlook on either side of a national border should persist to some degree after the border has moved? It might be more interesting if they didn't.
posted by Segundus at 2:17 PM on June 3, 2011


Sequndus Is it really surprising that differences of outlook on either side of a national border should persist to some degree after the border has moved? It might be more interesting if they didn't.

Well, I shouldn't think so. However, the remarkable thing (to me) is the length of time to which it lasts, the degree of turmoil it survived (empire dissolution, communism, nationalistic uprisings, a second empire dissolution, redrawing of maps, redrawing of maps again, etc).

dhens - thanks for the link, it looks like a very similar effect. I can't help but wonder if it is more to do with people not really moving that far on average, or that the people who do move adapting to local norms? For the Prussia/Russia/Austria map to reappear in Poland is very odd, considering the mass migrations after WWII...

Finally - well, this sort of 'institutional memory', if you will, certainly looks like it has effects in the modern world to great extent. For example, trying to create a modern democracy in Afganistan...
posted by Arandia at 7:04 PM on June 3, 2011


The Age of Imperialism is over

lol. No, wait, it's not actually funny that that's not really true.

posted by The World Famous at 3:04 AM on June 4 [+] [!]

lol, it's like reading an undergradute politics essay!
posted by oxford blue at 9:41 PM on June 3, 2011


Can we have an end to "The Age of Declaring Things at an End" yet? That's what I'm most looking forward to at this point. In my short little lifetime I've witnessed the "End of History," the "End of Experts," the "End of the Music Industry," the "End of Communism," the "End of Capitalism," several "End of the Worlds," the "End of Poetry," the "End of Physical Media," the "End of the Microsoft Empire," the "End of Google," at least a half-dozen "End of the Internets"--and all that just barely scratches the surface of the (ironically) endless procession of common and proper nouns I've seen declared officially at an end in the last decade or so.

It seems to me if we keep letting our endings out-pace our beginnings at this rate for much longer, we're going to start running out of things to declare ended pretty soon, so at least there's some hope in that.


The end of endings, if you will? Would you like a book deal?
posted by jaduncan at 5:35 AM on June 4, 2011


yes! From anecdata, the Habsburg lives in throughout its old domaine. From common words (see: "Servus" as a greeting.) to a shared history and literature. I'm delighted someone at last published something on this phenomenon.
posted by ruelle at 7:14 AM on June 4, 2011


Imperialism, in an historical sense, is generally not applied to the internal politics of European countries. It refers to the colonial domination of non-western powers by western powers.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:09 PM on June 4, 2011


Very interesting post. In one sense this comes as no great surprise, as it's been noted for a long time that the former Habsburg territories in the Soviet bloc (e.g. Czechoslovakia, Hungary) seemed to weather the collapse of the Soviet Union more successfully than their neighbours in the Balkans. But it's a lot more surprising to find the Habsburg effect operating at a 'micro' level, even within countries that lie on both sides of the former Habsburg border (e.g. Poland, the Ukraine). Given the massive political disruptions since 1918, not to mention the forced migration and resettlement of huge numbers of people, this feels very counter-intuitive.

The full paper (pdf) can be downloaded here. This 2007 paper on the Ottoman bureaucratic and institutional legacy is also relevant, though it reaches an interestingly different conclusion, i.e. that the performance of Ottoman successor states (e.g. Bulgaria, Romania) after the fall of Communism has little to do with the embedded institutional legacy of the Ottoman empire, and more to do with the influence of the European Union. Much food for thought here, and I'm still thinking my way through the implications.
posted by verstegan at 3:55 PM on July 2, 2011


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