How Will California Survive the End of America’s Empire?

A Trip to Rome Offers Old Lessons, Young City Officials, and Inspiration for How to Rebuild Democracy on Imperial Ruins

How will California survive the end of the American empire?

The question might seem hypothetical, but I found it inescapable last week in Rome, where I was running a global forum on the future of direct democracy. Our forum’s mission, on its face, was hopeful: Hundreds of participants, from 80 countries, discussed how to make the world’s democracies more participatory through initiatives, referenda, and other tools.

But each morning, as I left my budget hotel, I found myself picking through the less-hopeful remains of the fallen empires that lay directly in …

Will Donald Trump Be America’s First ‘Post-Imperial’ President?

As the U.S. Declines and China Rises, Its Chief Executive Will Have to Accept a Loss of Privilege and Status

In a forthcoming book, I argue that the United States has been an empire ever since its birth as an independent country, that the empire ceased to be based on …

Were Empires Better Than Nation-States at Managing Diversity?

By Respecting Local Cultures, Far-Flung Rulers Fostered Cooperation From Those They Subjected

Did empires actually serve to protect the diversity of their subjugated people? And if so, what lessons can they offer for the challenges facing modern states?

Answering these questions might begin …

Why Are There so Many Statues of Men on Horseback?

Since the Time of Marcus Aurelius, It's Been Viewed as the Perfect Combination of Power and Virtue

Statues are created to project meaning. Contemporary public artworks, for example, use purposely veiled messages aimed to generate thoughtful exchange with the viewer and to prompt reflection. By contrast, historic …

How Tea Became a Weapon in Darjeeling’s Ethnic Struggle

An Indian Minority's Push for Independence Has Roots in the British Empire's Divide and Conquer Policies

Darjeeling tea is a world-renowned product that reliably flows from India’s highlands, where it has been grown for more than a century. But since early this summer, none of it …

The Sun Always Shines on the California Empire

The Golden State, Not the U.S., Is the Worthiest Successor to Britain’s Global Supremacy

The sun has set on the British Empire. Its successor, America, is showing signs of decline. But one empire still has plenty of battery life: California.

This is true even …