Posts Tagged ‘imperialism Persia Germany’

I was struck by the casual reference made in an article in Die Zeit by Peer Steinbrueck, SPD politician and former finance minister, to the former ‘satrapies’ of the Soviet Union. It’s not an analogy I recall seeing before in discussions of the nature(s) of modern imperialism, let alone the controversial issue of whether the Warsaw Pact should be described as any kind of empire, but it’s actually rather useful: emphasis on the relatively loose and informal nature of the relationship and the degree of autonomy afforded to the inferior party while leaving no doubt about where power really lies. It’s certainly rather more useful as an analogy for the position of the DDR or Poland or Hungary than ‘colony’ or ‘dependency’, the usual terms used in general discussions of imperialism, and a useful reminder that Rome isn’t the only possible ancient comparitor. I have no idea whether this is a common term in German discourse on the topic – perhaps their well-known interest in Near Eastern as well as Classical cultures in the nineteenth century (see Susanne Marchand’s Down From Olympus) has made Persia more familiar to them than it is to the English-speaking world.

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