Divide and rule


Divide and rule

In politics and sociology, divide and rule (derived from Latin: divide et impera) (also known as divide and conquer) is a combination of political, military and economic strategy of gaining and maintaining power by breaking up larger concentrations of power into chunks that individually have less power than the one implementing the strategy. The concept refers to a strategy that breaks up existing power structures and prevents smaller power groups from linking up.

The maxims divide et impera and divide ut regnes were utilised by the Roman ruler Caesar and the French emperor Napoleon. There is the example of Gabinius parting the Jewish nation into five conventions, reported by Flavius Josephus in Book I, 169-170 of The Wars of the Jews (De bello Judaico).[1] Strabo also reports in Geography, 8.7.3[2] that the Achaean League was gradually dissolved under the Roman possession of the whole of Macedonia, owing to them not dealing with the several states in the same way, but wishing to preserve some and to destroy others.

In modern times, Traiano Boccalini cites "divide et impera" in La bilancia politica, 1,136 and 2,225 as a common principle in politics. The use of this technique is meant to empower the sovereign to control subjects, populations, or factions of different interests, who collectively might be able to oppose his rule. Machiavelli identifies a similar application to military strategy, advising in Book VI of The Art of War[3] (Dell'arte della guerra),[4] that a Captain should endeavor with every art to divide the forces of the enemy, either by making him suspicious of his men in whom he trusted, or by giving him cause that he has to separate his forces, and, because of this, become weaker.

The strategy of division and rule has been attributed to sovereigns ranging from Louis XI to the Habsburgs. Edward Coke denounces it in Chapter I of the Fourth Part of the Institutes, reporting that when it was demanded by the Lords and Commons what might be a principal motive for them to have good success in Parliament, it was answered: "Eritis insuperabiles, si fueritis inseparabiles. Explosum est illud diverbium: Divide, & impera, cum radix & vertex imperii in obedientium consensus rata sunt." [You would be insuperable if you were inseparable. This proverb, Divide and rule, has been rejected, since the root and the summit of authority are confirmed by the consent of the subjects.] On the other hand, in a minor variation, Sir Francis Bacon wrote the phrase "separa et impera" in a letter to James I of 15 February 1615. James Madison made this recommendation in a letter to Thomas Jefferson of 24 October 1787,[5] which summarized the thesis of The Federalist #10:[6] "Divide et impera, the reprobated axiom of tyranny, is under certain qualifications, the only policy, by which a republic can be administered on just principles." In Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch by Immanuel Kant (1795), Appendix one, Divide et impera is the third of three political maxims, the others being Fac et excusa and Si fecisti, nega.[7]

Elements of this technique involve:

  • creating or encouraging divisions among the subjects in order to prevent alliances that could challenge the sovereign
  • aiding and promoting those who are willing to cooperate with the sovereign
  • fostering distrust and enmity between local rulers
  • encouraging meaningless expenditures that reduce the capability for political and military spending

Historically this strategy was used in many different ways by empires seeking to expand their territories.

The concept is also mentioned as a strategy for market action in economics to get the most out of the players in a competitive market.

Contents

Examples

Africa

The divide and conquer strategy was used by foreign countries in Africa during the colonial and post-colonial period.

  • Germany and Belgium ruled Rwanda and Burundi in a colonial capacity. Germany used the strategy of divide and conquer by placing members of the Tutsi minority in positions of power. When Belgium took over colonial rule in 1916, the Tutsi and Hutu groups were rearranged according to race instead of occupation. Belgium defined "Tutsi" as anyone with more than ten cows or a long nose, while "Hutu" meant someone with less than ten cows and a broad nose. The socioeconomic divide between Tutsis and Hutus continued after independence and was a major factor in the Rwandan Genocide.
  • The British rule of Sudan restricted access between the north and south regions of the country. The British did not place much emphasis on the development and governance of Southern Sudan. This disparity between north and south regions of Sudan led to the First and Second Sudanese Civil Wars. See also History of the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium.
  • During British rule of Nigeria from 1900 to 1960, different regions were frequently reclassified for administrative purposes. The conflict between the Igbo and Hausa made it easier for the British to consolidate their power in the region.[citation needed] Regional, ethnic, and religious splits remain a barrier to uniting Nigeria.[8]

Europe

  • Romans entered Macedonia from the south and helped by Latin, Italian and Greek allies, they defeated King Perseus of Macedon in the battle of Pydna in 168 BC. Macedonia was then divided into four republics that were heavily restricted from intercourse or trade with one another and with Greece. There was a ruthless purge, with allegedly anti-Roman citizens being denounced by their compatriots and deported in large numbers.
  • Following the October revolution, the Bolsheviks engaged at various times in alliances with the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, certain anarchists, and various non-Russian ethnic nationalist groups, against the White movement, Right Socialist-Revolutionaries, and other anarchist and ethnic nationalist groups. This was done to establish the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (the Bolshevik party) as the sole legal party in the Soviet Union. Similar shifting alliances were played out amongst various dissident factions within the CPSU, such as the Workers Opposition and Left Communists, with Joseph Stalin and his supporters gaining absolute power within the party by the mid-1920s.
  • The Salami strategy of Hungarian Communist leader, Mátyás Rákosi.[citation needed]
  • Alliances with various parties played a role in the Nazi Machtergreifung and Gleichschaltung, the seizure and consolidation of total power by the National Socialist German Workers Party. The Enabling Act, which banned the Communist and Social Democratic parties, was supported by the Nazis' coalition partner, the German National People's Party, as well as by the Centre Party. Several months later, all political parties in Germany were banned except for the NSDAP.

India

The strategy of "Divide and Rule" was employed by most imperial powers in India. The British and French set the Indian states against each other, both as a means of undermining each other's influence and consolidating their authority.

In his historical survey Constantine's Sword, James P. Carroll writes,

Typically, imperial powers depend on the inability of oppressed local populations to muster a unified resistance, and the most successful occupiers are skilled at exploiting the differences among the occupied. Certainly that was the story of the British Empire's success, and its legacy of nurtured local hatreds can be seen wherever the Union Flag flew, from Muslim-Hindu hatred in Pakistan and India, to Catholic-Protestant hatred in Ireland, to, yes, Jew-Arab, hatred in modern Israel. Ancient Rome was as good at encouraging internecine resentments among the occupied as Britain ever was. [9]

Middle East

  • The Sykes-Picot Agreement

Mexico

See also

References


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • divide and rule — phrase to keep control over people who might oppose you, by encouraging disagreement or fighting among them The empire was maintained through a strategy of divide and rule. Thesaurus: to cause problems between peoplesynonym Main entry: divide * * …   Useful english dictionary

  • divide-and-rule — divide and conquer/rule divide and conquer/rule a way of keeping yourself in a position of power by making the people under you disagree with each other so that they are unable to join together and remove you from your position. They used divide… …   New idioms dictionary

  • divide and rule — ► divide and rule (or conquer) maintain control over opponents by encouraging a disunity that makes their opposition ineffective. Main Entry: ↑divide …   English terms dictionary

  • divide and rule — Government is more easily maintained if factions are set against each other, and not allowed to unite against the ruler. A common maxim (in Latin divide et impera, in German entzwei und gebiete), it should not (pace quot. 1732) be laid at the… …   Proverbs new dictionary

  • divide and rule — to keep control over people who might oppose you, by encouraging disagreement or fighting among them The empire was maintained through a strategy of divide and rule …   English dictionary

  • divide and rule — divide and conquer/rule a way of keeping yourself in a position of power by making the people under you disagree with each other so that they are unable to join together and remove you from your position. A small minority have continued to govern …   New idioms dictionary

  • divide and rule — verb To gain and maintain power by breaking up larger concentrations of power into chunks that individually have less power than the one implementing the strategy. Syn: divide and conquer …   Wiktionary

  • divide and rule — separate in order to control, strategy of keeping a people or enemy separated into small groups in order to dominate them and prevent effective resistance …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Divide and Rule (collection) — Divide and Rule   first edition of Divide and Rule …   Wikipedia

  • Divide and Rule: The Partition of Africa, 1880-1914 — (Dutch: Verdeel en heers. De deling van Afrika, 1880 1914), is a history book by Dutch historian Henk Wesseling, published by Bert Bakker 1991. As the title suggests, the books deals with the European partition and colonisation of Africa. In the… …   Wikipedia


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