I had lunch with my colleague Stewart Dompe today and we discussed this question. Here are some hypotheses.
- There used to be many attempts at world domination, up through Hitler, but attempting world domination is a high-risk endeavor, and modern life is so cushy that fewer people think it is worth the risk. Variant: modern life is so cushy that it’s hard to do good recruiting for world domination campaigns.
- Opportunities for world domination are driven by differential technological change, particularly of the military variety. Alexander made innovative use of his hoplite armies, Napoleon his cannons, and Hitler his tanks. The right sort of change comes about only every so often, and this limits the number of attempts. The US could have made an attempt right after the invention of the atomic bomb, but chose not to do so.
- The kinds of people who are candidates for this sort of behavior have shifted into new modes of domination, such as cultural or financial. Otherwise hail Emperor Steve Jobs.
- Economic and population growth effectively means that the amount of domination needed to count as *world domination* has increased, and has done so at a rate faster than the technology of domination, net of the technology of resistance.
What do you think? By the way, we tried the Salt and Pepper Eggplant, and it was quite good.