Cultural diversity and territorial flexibility give empires not only their unique character, but also their central role in history. It’s thanks to these two characteristics that empires have managed to unite diverse ethnic groups and ecological zones under a single political umbrella, thereby fusing together larger and larger segments of the human species and of planet Earth.
Empire has been the world’s most common form of political organisation for the last 2500 years. Most humans during those two and a half millennia have lived in empires. Empire is also a very stable form of government.
The standard imperial toolkit included wars, enslavement, and genocide.
This does not mean, however, that empires leave nothing in their wake. To colour all empires black and to disavow all imperial legacies is to reject most of human culture.
A significant proportion of humanity’s cultural achievements owe their existence to the exploitation of conquered populations.