Empire with a capital E is a generic term for the coercive hierarchical ordering of human relationships at all levels of society from those among nations to those among family members. It lavishes extreme power and privilege on the few at the top and consigns the many to a continuing struggle for survival at the bottom. This results in a rule or be ruled dynamic of violent and ultimately self-destructive competition for power between nations, religions, classes, races, genders and individuals.
Empire contrasts with Earth Community, which refers a society that features an equitable, non-coercive ordering of human relationships based on mutual caring and accountability. The dominator model of Empire and the partnership model of Earth Community are competing tendencies.
Empire has prevailed for 5,000 years. For all the recent human advances in democracy, civil rights, and gender equality it remains the predominant tendency today and is the root cause of the violence, alienation, and excessive exploitation of Earth’s life support system that now threaten the human species with social and environmental collapse.
What passes for democracy under Empire is actually plutocracy, a system of rule by people of wealth that creates an appearance of democratic accountability through periodic elections in which ordinary people have an opportunity to chose between candidates selected and approved by competing elite factions.
The Era of Empire refers to a 5,000 year span of history that began when our early ancestors in the Tigris-Euphratis and Nile river valleys first turned away from Earth Community and embraced the organizational forms and relationships of Empire. Creating societies in which a few at the top enjoy extreme power and privilege and those at the bottom are forced into lives of submission and desperation created a win-lose competition for resources between individuals and nations with devastating social and environmental consequences for society as a whole.
Once Empire’s pyramid of domination was in place, the resulting rule or be ruled, kill or be killed competitive dynamic left the individual with few options. Choosing to form and live in caring community was rarely among them. As indigenous people the world over learned, such communities were targeted by imperial powers for colonization and destruction.