What is the formula for successful and powerful nations/societies?
I have recently been reading a book where its central theme is a traveler in the sixth century, making his way into various parts of the Eastern Byzantine empire. Many of these cities were very prosperous. What strikes is that these cities are very cosmopolitan, attracting people from a large number of nationalities and ethnicities. Business and trade thrives in the bazaars of these cities. Innovative people bring their produce into these markets because these are the only few places on earth where they are quite likely to find patrons. Ideas generated in these fertile places lead to some great leaps in architecture, engineering, science, technology and art. Next, very important, these are no anarchic places. These cities are well governed. There is a rule of law; capable of enforcing itself.
The more you dig into the past, you’d find that for success, you need to be a society/state that is moderate, willing to absorb. Because that also means willingness to learn.
Which are the most powerful places today on our planet? Do they have features? To my mind, it’s been the UK in recent centuries and the US in the 19th & 20th century. They could absorb and utilize minds from various places. From Jewish bankers to Chinese engineers. From Scotsmen to Brazilians. The US fares so much better than say, Germany or Japan, that are homogenous societies. Both have been powerful, but only to a much smaller extent and only intermittently. In comparison, the US and UK have held power over a very long time.
Has our history been that of a plural society? We’ve had to absorb a large number of invaders from the west and north. In addition, internal immigration seemed to have been very much the norm in India. However, so little is really known about our past.