Ibn Khaldun on Empire as a State Form
* Book: Gabriel Martinez-Gros - L'Empire islamique : VIIe-XIe siècle
Michel Bauwens, reading ('video') notes from 2021:
- Note: I have not read the book, but watched several presentations by the author above.
Ibn Khaldun could be considered the first macro-historian, and he came up with a sophisticated analysis of the imperial state, based on his own experiences as official of an elite family descending from Muslim Spain.
The Islamic Empire, but these observations can be applied to other Eurasian empires with the exception of the specific situation of Europe, was based on the disarmament of the population. The main conduit for creating wealth was taxation. This taxation allowed for a division of labor and innovation, and consumptive expansion for both people and elite, directed towards the capital city representing imperial power. But the productive classes were disarmed, and replaced by a warrior caste, which was essentially foreign, and represented 1 or 2% of the population at most. Thus the minority Arabs played this role in islamic empire, the Mamluks in Egypt, the Mandjous in China, the Germanic 'barbarian' troops in Rome. However, disarming the population makes it weak vis a vis the armed barbarian groups living in the periphery, inexorably leading to the fall of empires. Also, within the Empire, internal solidarity disappears, as the state replaces the tribal interdependencies, which are vital for tribes, but rather unnecessary in a imperial context. Generally speaking, Empires have few state-based rivals, their main enemy is the peripheral people on their borders.