The current issue of Smithsonian has an interview with Yale Professor of Law Amy Chua, the author of Day of Empire, who discusses what seven great historical powers had in common: a willingness to include and permit the upward mobility other, differing people in their societies, an attribute that marked the Dutch and Mongol empires, for example. Here, she links power to a nation's human potential:
Explain your version of the term “tolerance.” By tolerance I don’t mean equality, or even respect. As I use the term, tolerance means letting very different kinds of people live, work, participate and rise in your society regardless of their ethnic or religious backgrounds.
....While you can get very powerful through intolerance – the [Nazi's] really mobilized negative and hateful energy by calling for the extermination of inferior peoples – I say that no intolerant society can become a hyperpower because it’s just too inefficient to be enslaving, exterminating and persecuting people. You waste so many resources, which sounds sort of callous to say. But from a strategic point of view, intolerance has inherent limits. A lot of people say that the only reason the U.S. is a hyperpower is because it’s imperialistic and it exploits other countries, and I actually say that the real secret to U.S. global domination is its tolerance. Intolerance just can never yield the same amount of success and global power.
Thanks Liz, for the pointer!