Editors Note: By Israel Lira, Peruvian Political Theorist. Translated by Zero Schizo.
Following Fernando Altuve’s thesis of the historicity of the State in his work “The Kingdoms of Peru”, we cannot conceive of the State until the beginning of the Renaissance, and as we know it today, until the signing of the Treaty of Westphalia (1648). With this historical event, the bases for the concept of sovereignty was settled and was later used to give strength to another conception, that of the Nation, strictly linked to the State, insofar as this last term will mean the geographic community organized politically. On the other hand, sovereignty, evolved from being concentrated in the King, into founding its being in the popular will. With that being said, we cannot talk about the State before the aforementioned events, so that the proto-State organizations, will only receive the qualification of Political Units, in hope of not falling into an anachronism of categories.
Prior to the concept of State (whether it be in any of its three well-known forms of historical evolution, Absolute –1648– Federal –1776– and National –1789–) there existed Political Units called Empires. The following questions emerge: Is it the same Empire or Idea of Empire (Imperium) that we now call Imperialism? Could we talk about Imperialism in ancient times? We consider that, following Altuve’s thesis, such thing is imprecise and anachronistic, and that what we have in ancient times, as exclusive neologism contextualized and already scoped by us, is what we will call Imperialities, as the expression of the Idea of Empire (Imperium), and that Imperialism is a phenomenon which emerges from the decline of this idea in front of the rise of the State, so then, is a modern phenomenon. Regarding this:
“The loss of Calais in 1554 pointed out the beginning of the sea myriad by the English people, in front of a globalized worldwide space, it seemed obliged to launch itself to the conquest of the seas in the condition of pirates… With this conquest of the sea, with this active search for the taking of markets in contra-position to the taking of lands from the continental superpowers… Saxon Thalassocracy was born in the universal political order” (Febres-Lores, 1996:71-72).
Thalassocracy from the doctrine of the Mare Liberum, different from the territorial vision of the Hispanic Mare Clausum, is inspired by the image of Imperial Rome, of a plurality of peoples and dissimilar territories which conformed to a mosaic sorted by the civilizational role of the City (Febres-Lores, 1996). A vision beyond the Alameda of Hercules, and before the conquest, was also shared by the pre-Hispanic peoples, Aztecs, Mayas and Incas. Just to quote a close example, Quechua or Quechua Simi or Runa Simi is translated as the language of men and which fulfilled a civilizational mission in front of all of the other Andean peoples, product of the Tawantinsuyu* Expansion. Meaning, the Idea of Empire (Imperium) in general terms and as transversal historical category to different peoples, always brought with itself a main ideal of expansion of culture and civilization, while the commercial aspect was a mere factor, an accessory to the main one.
In consequence, the difference between Imperialism and Imperiality would be of teleological character. While Imperialism is a manifestation of thalassocracies or marine powers, the Idea of Empire or Imperiality is energized mainly by a universalist myth. In the same way, while Imperialism is a modern category of strict culture-dissolving economic domination, Imperiality is a category of ancient times of integrating cultural domination. Our ancestral peoples had it pretty clear in their civilizational vision, and were not estranged from the phenomenon of Imperiality.
* Tawantinsuyu, also known as the Inca Empire in its original language (Quechua).
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