I always viewed that famous statue of the man sitting on a rock in a thinking position in another way. He would be sitting on the rock just as he is, but he would have the globe in his hand, and he would be pondering...how? How does one come to rule the world?
It's probably the greatest puzzle of any great conqueror. They have all stated this lofty goal, but I'm sure they did not mean it literally. The very concept seems insane. Beyond logic. It's hard to keep the peace in one's own household. The problems rise exponentially from town, to city, to nation, to empire. It's like the game of light's out where as soon as you put out one light, three more appear somewhere else. The very basic differences in people seem to promote rebellion and hostility even among themselves- less mind the rule of another. Trying to grab the world is like trying to hold a hive of bees together with your bare hands.
Because of that, I've always wondered on the legitimacy of even writing- in the sake of fiction- of a man who has effectively conquered the entire world. Every land, every people brought under one rule.Just the sheer number of battles in constantly shifting fields of combat. It is highly unlikely- even with modern methods of communication and transportation- that a man could conquer the world in one lifetime. The likeliness that any successor will succeed in keeping however vast an empire he managed to accumulate from splitting upon itself between the successors- if not out of open revolt- is exponentially less likely. I Imagine, also, that sheer battles and physical campaigns would be the least of such an aspirants worries. He would come up against forces of a nature and intensity he never imagined. His enemies would come from every and all directions and they would not only target him, but every perceived chink in his chain of control. The personality who effects world-dominance would be near biblical to achieve- even if only half the world.
To me, the closest way to actually achieve world dominance is through a ghostly hand. I rather prefer the Venetian method combined with the Roman. I think it is not necessary to control the entire body, just the vital points. The single, vital thread connecting all nations and civilizations of the world is money. Tug on that web in one corner of the world and the effect can be felt worldwide. Rome situated itself on the crossroads of world wealth, the Mediterranean. By controlling trade and reaping the enormous profits, the empire could control both it's own physically held assets as well as project influence and a degree of control to nations outside of its physical reach. I believe world power should be looked on as a business venture. You do not need to own every stock there is, just enough that gives you a dominating degree of decision making in that company. A prudent man would, thus, establish de facto economic control of the most economic nations and/or entities in the world while allowing them to retain their original names and identities- ruling instead from anonymity. This makes most people unaware that an empire actually exists. By controlling so much of the worlds financial terrain, you effectively control the world as the king who is not. It's like Chess. The King is the weakest piece- intrinsically limited by his position and never outside of notice. The Queen is the strongest. Under the King, she acts with the greatest degree of range and mobility. To rule effectively, you do not rule. The most powerful do not exist. Like God, you control everything and leave no form for which another person could attack. People who think they are attacking/rejecting one nation or entity and favoring the next in actuality favor you on either end. You control all paths while making them believe they have a choice.
In the end, I believe world power could only be achieved through secret power. The wisest man does not reveal the extent of his range or capabilities, but dresses casually, walks lightly, blends in.
And yet...even then, I'm sure world domination may prove to be impossible.
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