Let's say that in the next few decades, a regional power arises that essentially resurrects your favourite historical empire's borders (in this case, let's say Roman) at their greatest extent. Whether by conquest, peaceful federation, whatever. In the standard rhetoric, the leader of the empire proclaims that it shall last a hundred centuries.

But how to go about that? Specifically, the goal is that after 10,000 years, there should be a nation-state with roughly the same name and borders and a continual existence from now to then.

What government type would be ideal? Is there a better location than the Roman Empire? What sort of policies (internal and external) should such a government pursue to not only maintain its integrity, but ensure that the concept of a nation-state survives?

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    $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ Feb 23, 2017 at 3:42
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    $\begingroup$ The government in 1984 will last forever. There is no internal thread that can change the borders, and the external policy is helping the government to preserve integrity. Copy their government culture. $\endgroup$ Nov 2, 2017 at 11:20
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    $\begingroup$ How to make a country last 10k years? are you kidding how am I the only one to vote this closed as too broad/too opinionative? Chinese dynasties could only reach 1k years before infighting usurped them, any answer to this would virtually be opinionative. $\endgroup$
    – anon
    Nov 2, 2017 at 13:49
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    $\begingroup$ @anon 21 people disagreed with you enough to upvote, and 15 people disagreed with you enough to answer. Those answers then cited good references for the ideas they describe; I suggest you read them before voting to close. $\endgroup$
    – SPavel
    Nov 2, 2017 at 13:57
  • $\begingroup$ I read the answers and the highest voted answer, is proof of my point. It doesn't even answer the question but merely poses factually proven factors that lead to collapse of governments. It then suggests to revert to archaic political structures even though they only managed to last for 1K years at best. Besides people well answer anything if it interests them even if they know the subject is beyond capability. This is akin to asking "how to make a utopian society" which if anyone could actually come close to successfully answering it would already be in operation. $\endgroup$
    – anon
    Nov 2, 2017 at 15:25

15 Answers 15


This article in Foreign Policy is highly relevant to your question, so I'd advise you read it. The crux however is that the longest lived empires lasted little more than a thousand years. Namely the Eastern Roman empire, and the Holy Roman Empire (successor state in name only). As averages go, the empires of the near east (inclusive of ancient Egypt) were about three centuries, Asia didn't provide alternatives with much better longevity either.

The author argues that the sharp decline in imperial longevity in the last few centuries is because the European empires opted to pursue consistent policy rolled out everywhere at once; which was unusual and increased rather than decreased conflicts. Prior to this Imperial powers tended to have a hands-off approach to governing their subjects, and let them have their religions and laws, mostly. This reduced tension between Imperial administrators and far flung subjects.

Another way of looking at it is that technology has a negative impact upon imperial longevity. Technology is highly disruptive to politics as well as economics because it unsettles the establishment in multiple ways and thus makes stability much harder to maintain - empires simply can't be on the ball all the time in such chaotic times, especially when innovation is in conflict with their beloved (and outdated) traditions. BOOM STICKS? But we are honourable Samurai!

So if you really want a Ten-Thousand-Year-Reich (the Third Reich lasted a mere 12 years, most of that time not being an actual empire too)... the conditions are going to have to be specific. You will need there to be not much technology about, and certainly not much technological progress during that time frame. You'll also need the system to take an old school approach to governance: let the locals have a high degree of autonomy. At least, that's one analysis of it. But it's a pretty broad question because it requires an analysis of most empires to understand common causes of rise and fall.

Incidentally, a NASA funded study suggested that the developed world is heading for collapse, because the current trajectory shares common features with the collapse of much older civilisations. Specifically, because both inequality is rising and resources are being depleted. Both of those things tend to trigger social collapse, and definitely the end of empires. So you need to have an empire which manages to control inequality over the long term, and have sustainable use of natural resources.

It's also worth noting that in societies where people are not told they are equal and don't expect improved living standards there'll probably more social stability. For example, compare feudal Europe to the industrial revolution with its fascist and communist revolutionaries. There might have been many conflicts between feudal lords but the system of feudalism endured.

So, in conclusion, things which will probably increase imperial longevity - but absolutely no guarantee it'll take you to even a tenth of ten thousand years:

  • Laissez faire administrators (pluralistic policies... or a successful genocidal one)
  • Ban on technology
  • Sustainable economic practices
  • Checks on inequality
  • Absolutely no fancy pants ideas... like egalitarianism, or that the government will make life better for the people!!
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    $\begingroup$ I might also recommend looking at the two longest-lasting civilizations known to Humanity: Ancient Egypt and China. $\endgroup$ Sep 29, 2016 at 20:32
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    $\begingroup$ @AtlastheWorldbuilder Surely that conflates culture with empire? Which might be a good idea to try and make the asker's question slightly more feasible. $\endgroup$
    – user20787
    Sep 29, 2016 at 21:20
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    $\begingroup$ @JDługosz Technology causes change. Change is the enemy of entities that don't want to change for 10,000 years. $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Sep 29, 2016 at 23:00
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    $\begingroup$ The Silla was very long stable dynasty $\endgroup$ Sep 30, 2016 at 7:20
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    $\begingroup$ I didn't think about conquering the universe! This opens a few opportunities (for instance, Goa'uld style tech hogging while the peasants labour in the dirt). $\endgroup$
    – SPavel
    Sep 30, 2016 at 13:59

Other people have covered historical precedent on Earth, but what about science and space?

Imagine a space colony on the planet Mercury. Mercury likely doesn't have the resources to sustain a large human population, so with advanced technology and a couple hundred years development from now, you could probably establish a small nation on the surface, whose borders cover the planet's surface. Since a year on Mercury is only 88 days, your 10,000 years is only about 2400 Earth years. Lowering the bar that much makes the problem a lot easier.

In the same vein, this also reminds me of Warhammer 40,000's Emperor of Mankind. Granted Warhammer has lots of unrealistic elements, like psychic powers, gods, and other dimensions that give the Emperor fantastic powers, including the ability to live for tens of thousands of years. Since you've tagged this far-future I'm just going for it. What if an extremely influential and wise leader is able to upload their consciousness into a machine that allows them to interact with the outside world? They can be the unifying force to lead a nation to prosperity for millenia like the EoM did. Having a consistent leadership that is respected by the majority of the population can be an important factor in keeping an empire intact.

  • $\begingroup$ My opinion of artificially lowering the bar with respect to the length of a year aside, you specify a "small nation." Fewer people means that outliers and, generally, individuals, are more influential; this is definitely not good for predictability. You can at least reasonably attempt to apply statistical reasoning and modeling to a large population; the smaller it gets, the less useful that becomes. If your only goal is to sustain the empire, a smaller population hobbles your ability to leverage groupthink and other herd-mentality instincts that could otherwise prove extremely valuable. $\endgroup$
    – kungphu
    Sep 30, 2016 at 5:11
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    $\begingroup$ "This is a half joking, half serious answer, so be gentle with your downvotes." I must remember to preface all my answers with this in an attempt to curry favour. $\endgroup$
    – user20787
    Sep 30, 2016 at 7:04
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    $\begingroup$ @inappropriateCode everyone was focusing on history while I was jumping straight to far future. I thought my answer was out of scope and I was prepared to delete it today, but since people seem to find it useful I'll remove that part. $\endgroup$
    – Cody
    Sep 30, 2016 at 15:53
  • $\begingroup$ @Cody Dune is also a good fit for your argument. $\endgroup$
    – user20787
    Sep 30, 2016 at 16:29
  • $\begingroup$ @inappropriateCode Its been far too long, I don't remember Dune well enough to be able to use it as an argument. If you suggest an edit with the relevant parts of Dune I'm sure it would be appreciated. $\endgroup$
    – Cody
    Sep 30, 2016 at 16:31

Egypt as a polity has existed for nearly 7 thousand years. Of course, not a lot is similar today from the formation of Egypt after the introduction of agriculture.

The majority of the time frame there was a form of continuity in religious thought and some of the cultural ideas.

What can be learned for the creation of a polity that lasts 10 thousand years from this? Part of why Egypt has lasted and reappeared is that the geographic boundaries are natural and well defined. It has the ability to have a higher population than its surrounding neighbors which has meant that even when it has been conquered it has remained as a primary entity with, in many cases, the conqueror adopting the titles of Egypt as their primary title. Egypt also had a robust religion that was tied to the state.

In fact we can see similar situations with China and Japan as well.

So having a monarchy of some sort appears to be the best option. Having that monarchy be tied to and part of the religion is also important. Having natural geographical boundaries and being more populous than nearby neighbors is also good.

Unfortunately, even though these places have been regional powerhouses, they have an apparent greater tendency to not progress and utilize technologically. Why should they? Even if a neighbor has better technology, these nations have been able to stomp on them with numerical superiority (until they can't) and have often seen themselves as being the best, with ancient traditions to be upheld as a higher priority over modernization.

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    $\begingroup$ Egypt has not lasted as a polity. There were unpteen dynasties, three separate dynastic eras, then subjugation to external empires of Nubia, Persia, and Rome (among others). The national religion had a non-evolutionary break, from the native religion to Christianity, and then again to Islam. Then there was a complete language change to Arabic an imposed foreign language; the Egyptian langauge died by the 17th century and is now only liturgical. Saying the modern Egyptians descended from the ancient is as accurate as saying that the American polity is descended from the Iroquois. $\endgroup$
    – kingledion
    Sep 29, 2016 at 20:45
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    $\begingroup$ Still, though, ancient Egypt did last a good 5x longer than America has. It's the longest-lasting civilization we have record of, and despite having 3 different major periods, it does a good job of maintaining an identity. I mean, sure it did fall, as do all things, but hey, it's a place to start, right? $\endgroup$ Sep 29, 2016 at 21:25
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    $\begingroup$ We do still call it "Egypt"... very few places have enough continuity for that identity to last that long. I think Atlas has a good answer here. $\endgroup$
    – SRM
    Sep 30, 2016 at 1:53
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    $\begingroup$ Haha, wrong @SRM. They call themselves Masr and they understand well that it's better not to fight over the name Egypt in Western languages for (1) everyone's convenience (2) better PR. Internally, the name Egypt refers exclusively to times before islamic conquest. $\endgroup$
    – kubanczyk
    Sep 30, 2016 at 10:10
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    $\begingroup$ @kubanczyk: I don't know by what word Egyptians referred to themselves 2,500 years ago, but the word for "Egypt" in the Tanakh is Mizraim, which is a dual form of the root Miṣr. So Egypt being called Masr is certainly not a recent invention, and I'm a bit skeptical whether this particular bit of linguistics is really very helpful regarding the political or cultural continuity of Egypt. $\endgroup$ Oct 2, 2016 at 12:33


Attacks from the outside are easy enough to prevent. Just make your empire massive and powerful enough that there's no other entity powerful enough to even think of attacking it without inviting certain doom to itself.

Welcome to the Empire of Asnitria. The word "you" in this answer refers to the group of people in charge of the empire. It doesn't necessarily imply a single person. It may in fact be a council, family, clan, ancient tribe, cult, etc., or some combination of some of those.

By deception


The biggest concern is people turning against you. Therefore, it's very important that you have proper control of the media in the empire. The fourth estate is extremely powerful, and you can't have the possibility that anyone with money could grab it and use it to counteract you. All major media outlets need to be controlled. However, this should not be apparent! All the big media outlets need to appear to be independently owned, and to disagree with each other, support different political ideologies, etc. These "disagreements" will be over relatively trivial matters. (Like whether tax should be at 20% or 24%.) Or over social matters that you don't really care about, but the people do. However, they will be blown out of all proportions in order to distract the public so that they don't think about opposing your agenda when it comes to the issues you do care about. (Like the empire being undivided. And nobody discussing the fact that the media is controlled.) If the media disagrees over vital issues, it will only be over details. The main line that the you want pushed will be agreed on by all the major media outlets. Again, the details will be blown out of all proportions, so that the public start arguing over them and get distracted from the problems you don't want them to focus on.

To make sure you can control these media organisations, only use thoroughly corrupt people to run them. These people should all have plenty of black money, sex scandals, financial misconduct, etc. under their belts, but all unpublished and not known by the public. You, however, have a complete file of evidence on each of them that so that you can easily take out anyone who even tries to oppose you.

Mock democracy

You could use brute force to control people, but people would be discontent, and it would be easier to undermine you. On the other hand, the problem with real democracy is that it's too chaotic, and the empire will split up way too early. How to solve these two problems?

The most important thing is to control people's minds. As long as most of them believe they are living in a democracy, it's enough. Find yourself a handful of people as potential "leaders". You need to take the same strategy with them as with the media people, having a file of incriminating evidence against them should anyone get out of line. They will all follow your bidding. (If they don't want to be disgraced or killed, that is.) Of course, there's a carrot, too. People in your camp are compensated well and can live luxurious lives. And if they continue doing more dirty stuff, it's all the better for you. It gives you more evidence to sweep under the carpet, or rather, into your blackmail archive.

Actually, this register of files will be quite large. It needs to be taken care of very carefully, by only the most trusted men. Also, there needs to be backup copies. The moment some politician or powerful person is unloyal to you, you will leak a video of them sleeping with an underage prostitute or something. Part of the reason you have such evidence on everyone is because you specifically select such people. If there's someone you want to enlist, you can also arrange for them to end up in such a situation or, indeed, manufacture the evidence.

Set up elections, and have various media outlets pretend to be partial to various candidates. Your candidates will fight bitterly against each other during their campaigns. However, their areas of disagreement will again be trivial. On the matters you care about, all the candidates will take roughly the same line. If any truly independent candidates try to run, you merely have the media ignore them. Or, if necessary, smear them, or worse, arrange for an "accident".

Anyone who tries to talk about this rigged, phoney system of yours will be ridiculed (if addressed at all) by the media and labeled a nutcase.

Now, all discontent will be directed into this system. The people are pissed off? Direct it towards the phoney leader, not you. In fact, no one in the public even knows who you are. They think your puppets are the real leaders. Therefore, whenever things go really bad, the puppets will go to the gallows, not you. There will be a new candidate (also under your control) talking about red roses and change, condemning the past leadership very strongly. The people will love him or her.

Really, really, really dumb down the masses

To prevent the masses from suspecting what's going on, you need to really dumb them down. The intellectual level of TV, movies, music, etc., must get lower every year. Elementary education should serve as a form of brainwashing. Higher education should be highly specialized so that people can be skilled at their jobs without seeing bigger pictures. Higher education in the liberal arts should also serve as a hierarchical system that conditions academics to promote views you prefer. Use your media monopoly to frame critical thinkers as paranoid nutjobs.

Regardless, a portion of the population will realize what sort of rigged system they are living in. They won't be too big of a threat to you, because the masses will see them as nutty outsiders and conspiracy theorists. The media will routinely refer to them as such. You can also use various disinformation tactics and infiltrate them to weaken them. You also need to start a bunch of conspiracy theory media. These outlets will present roughly 30% truth, and 70% rubbish. (Flat earth, ancient aliens, etc.) The presenter will be some sort of quite emotional guy who is shouting at the top of his lungs with streams of sweat dribbling down his forehead. This type of crazy conspiracist media will be well funded. Also, by the help of the normal media, it will soon be the sort of crazy thing the masses will associate with that sort of thinking. Thus, you have discredited such thinkers and dealt with that contingency very well.

The type of propaganda that you do want people to believe in, on the other hand, will be seen as balanced, reasonable, factual news.

A terrible, external enemy

Let's put aside hegemony for a while. There may actually be another another, large empire in the same world. The two empires are of roughly the same size, power and type. For simplicity, I'm calling the other empire Blevtaya. Blevtaya is not a mock democracy like yours, it's an openly brutal, authoritarian regime.

The governments of both these empires realize that a war between them would be utterly disastrous for both parties, and therefore they would do a lot to avoid such a war. However, they both have a problem. They need to prevent separatist factions within them from being created.

The leaders of these two governments secretly get together and discuss a plan to deal with this. They both have the same problem. They can both solve it in the same plan. They will both agree to a phoney conflict escalating between them. It's easy to stage a conflict when both sides are in on it. Obviously, it's never going to come to a full war, as neither side wants that. It's just going to be the constant threat of that, to be used as a propaganda tool. Only your closest men will know for sure that it's phoney. The rest of the government apparatus will not be told that. So, step up military exercises, make extreme, historically hostile public announcements, stockpile dangerous weapons, ramp up military expenditures, etc. Of course, the elite politicians all own lots of stocks in top military contractors, so they don't exactly mind this expenditure of taxpayer money.

If you need to further convince the public that the conflict is real, there can be actual violent actions. For example, you can launch theatre wars on regions outside the two empires. Both empires have an interest in a region known as Ciratnaya. There's a puppet regime there that's loyal to Asnitria. (However, the public doesn't know that that regime is a puppet regime.) Blevtaya starts funding, training and giving weapons to some rebels there in an attempt to overthrow that regime and install one suitable to their interests. Thus, a horrible "civil" war ensues in Ciratnaya. The media needs to keep repeating that the war may go global at any minute, and keep scaring the public with the prospect of a devastating war between the two empires.

War propaganda

Here are some key elements from the media in Asnitria:

  • The government of Blevtaya is absolutely horrible. They use WMDs on civilians, use child soldiers, etc.
  • They want world dominion. We need to stop their efforts in Ciratnaya.
  • They'll stop at nothing otherwise, and we will be their last victim.
  • There will also be some media that opposes the theatre war, just to keep it seemingly balanced. But even they will agree on some of the horrible, underlying facts, fueling the public fear.
  • Antagonistic statements from leaders of both empires, ramping up public paranoia.

There needs to be a constant, public fear of global war.

This will let you:

  • Talk about patriotism and rally people behind you and the empire.
  • Accuse people who oppose you of being in line with the enemy.
  • Give greater liberties to the secret police, etc. under the guise of national security. It will then be easier for you to spy on the public, arrest people without evidence, etc.

You can have this tense situation go on for a very long time. Whenever the public's fear seems to calm down, arrange some new war or serious conflict between the two empires, and ramp up the warmongering and propaganda. They'll be too scared and patriotic to pose a problem for you.


One of the problems with having Blevtaya be the enemy is that it can't escalate too much. You don't want a full war against Blevtaya.

Therefore, another option is terrorists. Of course, you don't want real terrorists, because those may actually be dangerous to you. You need some mock terrorists that attack public targets, etc. When you really need to get the public in the proper mindset, stage a "terrorist attack" somewhere.

The agents perpetrating this will be absolutely vile creatures. You'll find paedophiles, rapists, serial killers, etc, and give them highly specialized training. You need the type of calculating psychopaths who are horribly depraved but yet stable enough to think "clearly", receive training and follow orders. Unfortunately for humanity, such people do exist. The unwritten law of this shadowy organization is that anyone who steps out of line will be either exposed as a paedophile rapist, or tortured and killed. By the way, all your top power networks and secret police work the same way.

You'll blame the terrorism on some elusive terrorist group, or even on the sympathizers of some separatist movement you want to discredit. The "advantage" of these attacks is that they can be absolutely horrible, and kill hundreds or even thousands of innocent civilians in normal cities. (I'm sure you have realized by now that the government of Asnitria is absolutely disgusting. If this isn't what you were looking for, then I'm sorry. But I don't see any other way you'll have even a chance at 10.000 years.)

After staging such an absolutely horrible "terrorist attack", there will be no nation state to retaliate against. So you can have the horror without the ensuing war. Of course, you can also blame the attack on some small nation that you wanted to take out anyway. The terrorist attack gives you largely the same benefits that the war with Blevtaya did. The public will be afraid, and thus very easy to control. The government can increase its power, due to the an alleged need for increased security. You can also discredit people by accusing them of being in line with the terrorists, etc.

Divide and conquer

In whatever way you can, keep the people fighting among themselves. Preferably not by geographic regions. You want your empire geographically united. No, keep them fighting over race, ethnicity, language, religion, trivial politics, ideology, sports, sexual orientation, gender, caste, belief, social class, whatever. It is better if each province has a lot of diversity when it comes to those traits. You don't want large homogenous provinces with just one type of people in them. Such provinces are more likely to unite in a strong sense of nationalism, separatism, etc. You don't want that. It's better if you mix lots of diverse groups of people in each province. Divide and conquer is very easy in such mixed provinces. Also, you want each province economically dependant on other provinces through finances, trade, multi-provincial corporations, etc. This will make the very idea of separatism hard if not impossible. And again, induce conflicts not between provinces, but within provinces, based on the social aspects referred to above. As long as you give them something to fight over, it will keep them from uniting against you. You can also use the media to fuel such conflicts and divert attention away from the actually significant activities of the government.

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    $\begingroup$ He wanted something original, not just a renaming of what we have now. :-) :-( $\endgroup$ Oct 1, 2016 at 6:14

It would need to be a planet-wide empire in order to last that long. It would have heavy social control, but not the police state kind like Orwell's 1984. Scientific advancement would be kept at the same level, but cultural change could not be allowed. I think Aldous Huxley's Brave New World would be the model. Orwell and Huxley actually coresponded in letters about each other's work.


I think you need longevity of the populace. The longer the same people stay alive and in power, the more stability they bring. If you get to the point where MOST people can remember a century past, you'll have a populace with more perspective for what has worked and what hasn't.

Also, revolutions tend to come from the young, so a low and constrained birth rate would help.

Finally, planetwide homogeneity. The more two countries think alike, the more they will operate cooperatively. Global hegemony cuts down on outside forces disrupting your society. Genocide of all foreign cultures would work also. I'm not advocating for that, just identifying it as a strategy for fiction.

  • $\begingroup$ Planet wide homogenization meaning a world culture? Doesn't that sound like a planet of hats? $\endgroup$
    – user32862
    Nov 4, 2017 at 15:21
  • $\begingroup$ @Shardmartin Yes. You'll need a plausible forcing function to have a plausible reason why culture is so homogenous -- trivial long distance travel, heavy communication, interconnected economies. $\endgroup$
    – SRM
    Nov 4, 2017 at 22:48

1. No permanent ruling class.

It's a well known concept in history (Up the stairs in wooden shoes, down the stairs in silk slippers). As civilization matures, it cultures up, softens up, fattens up, and loses its edge that let it conquer the empire in the first place. Newer, hardier, hungrier upstarts gobble it up.

This has been the fate of Persian Empire, Greeks, Rome, and some people argue about to be the fate of Western Democracies.

However, you will note that typically, it's the elites that soften up from living imperial splendor.

So, instead of having barbarians take over your empire, instead let barbarians take over the government, by design. History is replete with examples, most famous being Chinese absorption of its conquerors, especially Mongols.

2. Large, sustainable territory, with defensible natural borders.

Middle East is right out, as are European plains.

Australia is pretty good. North America and China are awesome as a base. There's a reason core Han China has been stable for probably longer than any other country on Earth; and why the only true geopolitical force threat USA has faced since 1812 was internal dissension.

3. Robot internal force projection

Robots don't change loyalty. They don't question orders. They don't have sympathies. They just do what they are supposed to do (absent bugs in programming).

4. Offer outlets to the stability challengers.

There are four main stability challengers, internally, for an empire.

  1. Economic unrest. New enterprising rich types clashing with existing power structures. Think French Revolution, or February 1917 revolution in Russia.

    Set up "economic free zones" for enterprising types. Less regulation, more law and order. Make it easy to move to/from there

    This has the added benefit of keeping your country economically vibrant and viable, without bleeding those enterprising types out of gene pool through immigration or tyrannical suppression.

  2. Lack of law and order.

    Set up "frontiers" to keep the rough, the tough, the footloose and the risk-takers busy. Ideally, far away so they aren't tempted to return to stir up trouble, only to retire. That will productively channel and/or isolate most of your psychopath types, or even regular destabilizing people.

    Seasteading. Space. Raiding neighbours.

  3. Desire to improve the life of the "oppressed". See, Russian Revolution, or Occupy iPhones, or whatnot. Most of those aren't actually dissent from the oppressed, but from people who are higher up the social chain, caring about said oppressed.

    Set up philantropy and "for the common good" programs to keep the bleeding hearts happy and busy. Very few people want a bloody revolution, if the alternative to better life for others is Habitat for Humanity type work - especially if it's effective and efficacious.

  4. Unrest and revolts by the people who have little to lose and safety and stability to gain. Let's cover that in detail in next topic

5. Reduce suffering from poverty, to prevent unrest and revolts by the people who have little to lose and safety and stability to gain. See pretty much any revolution or uprising you can think of as examples.

While at setting up philantropy, set up social safety nets to keep the less-productive sheeple content. Some sort of weak Basic Income Guarantee is not out of realm of impossible for a good developed Imperial economy (fed by the income from Free Enterprise Zones), and can be designed to balance avoiding extreme poverty with avoiding bankrupting the Treasury. Also, ensure entertainment. Nothing to distract people from attending revolutionary meetings like a good round of Kardashian admiration, or gladiatorial games, or dances.


You probably want a military dictatorship, or the Illuminati. Not changing borders for 10,000 years is an immense requirement of literally epic proportions (as in, we should expect to see epic ballads written about it throughout the ages). It's a terrible plan in every way shape and form to be that rigid, so you're going to need something so extraordinarily strong internally to hold onto this brutal requirement and act on it. Flexibility will be troublesome because your goal state is so strict, so rigidity would be the norm.

Alternatively, you can take the route of ultimate flexiblity and go with the Illumnati. Permit the nation-state to be fluid, so that it can better adapt to the times. If it's effective to move 100mi to the East to better control an oil field, you should. The illumanti, governing these movements, should calmly wait until about 9,500 years have passed, then spend the last 500 years using all the power they have amassed to quickly move the borders back to where your requirements need them to be right as we pass the 10,000 year mark.

Consider, as a data point, the amount of fighting that has gone on for thousands of years over Jerusalem. This involves religions fighting over who has ownership of just a single city. You want to exist many times that long, and you are trying to control an entire nation-state, not just a city. You may have far better success letting your empire be properly flexible, and letting it grow with the times.

  • $\begingroup$ What about a nation state with natural borders? An island, for example. Given a good navy and land based anti-ship defences, invasion will be horribly expensive for any aggressor. Best foreign policy would be neutrality in wider conflicts. $\endgroup$
    – nigel222
    Sep 30, 2016 at 10:16
  • $\begingroup$ @nigel222 That certainly helps. However, when you start talking about 10,000 years, a lot can happen. I view it from a constraints perspective. A nation that has an absurdly strict set of constraints about borders is going to have a very hard time competing with nations that lack such constraints. As an example, consider the complications of China and the South Sea. If this nation was an island in the south sea, its sovereignty would be under attack, today, and there'd be nothing they could do about it. $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Sep 30, 2016 at 15:00

You need an IMMORTAL benevolent dictatorship.

Most empires fell (or became vulnerable to invasion) due to wars of succession. A competent dictator who never dies would literally become a god-head for his people, capable of providing the consistency and stability needed for an extremely long term empire. It would also help greatly if this dictator had exclusive access to advanced technology he could use to suppress external threats and internal competition.

You would also want a prime geographic location, one that could remain fairly geologically stable for 10 millennia. This is challenging. Naturally defensible borders (mountain range, desert, oceans), plentiful renewable natural resources, and no close sources of invaders/competing empires. Somewhere in North or South America is probably your best bet, though of course you will eventually have to face an expansionist and advanced Europe. Early defeats of explorers could delay colonization for a few centuries (Cortez exploited divisions within Native empires, something that wouldn't be possible with an immortal dictator) but eventually diplomatic and commercial ties would have to be established. And of course being an immortal dictator will probably engender significant religious opposition from Judeochristian cultures. So being a "hidden" isolationist empire just won't for long unless you can somehow keep Eurasia destabilized to prevent the Renaissance and rapid technological development.

Of course if the immortal dictator pushes for technological advancement, the stability his empire will experience ought to quickly drive his tech FAR beyond anyone else, so it is hard to imagine that world-wide domination wouldn't occur after a millennia or so of rule. But that's where the benevolent part comes in. This dictator, knowing he would be around for the consequences, would be more focused on sustainability and renewable resource management, so could potentially advance reproductive medicine, alternative energy sources, and social tolerance instead of military conquest and commercial exploitation. He could set the example for other nations and potentially short circuit all of the wars of empire since the dawn of agriculture.


You can't fight change so embrace it.

You don't want the borders to change? Rule the whole planet. It will take years of war before this can be accomplished, but after that no change is possible.

It has been shown that the largest group that can exist without conflict(or not much) is 160 people. So we will use 150 people, and call them a group. We will further have groups of 150 groups, and etc. Presently, 6 layers of groups allow 11 trillion people. Thus 7 would be the highest necessary, certainly within 10k years.

Each layer would have certain powers, and that is it. Lets say you need a dam or bridge, well it would cost more than a group so you would need to get some number of groups together to have a tax base to build it. Some project would be considered vital to the nation, and everyone would help.

If another group was not physically attacking or damaging another group it would allow to survive or die out on its own either physical death or people just leaving the group. People could change groups on their own through a process.

Cultures and ideas would be like T shirts, one day you would just decide to change the kind you were wearing. People entering and exiting these groups would leave logs on why they decided to change, and other would read them and act accordingly. Eventually, groups would build up a history of failure or success and the fails would no longer exist.

Everything would be analyzed and measured and voted on. People would move around to be with their groups.

The key to the culture would be change would be accepted, and those changing would not be regarded as bad unless you attacking/damaging others. Then increasing levels of force would have to be used to keep you inline, or wipe you out.


You can't.

Let's get real. All the people here might tell you how you can try to do this, but you will fail anyway. Here are some facts:

  • Thousand years ago: medieval. Simple hand machines. No automatization. The first good "printer" came few hundreds years later.
  • 1600: no engines
  • 1900: no computers
  • 2000: no widespread internet
  • 10 thousand years ago: wheel is the thing

Now this is presented to show you that you get the idea of how fast technology progresses. You'd need to have technology of at the very least 1k BC in order to even be able to maintain such a country.

Now we get other problems: people who are there change(and might have different ideas of country), the country itself is thriving for progress - the only natural way - meaning that the wars are impossible to avoid anyway and they often end with borders change. If you don't change border and get more territory when enemy attacks you and loses, he's going to do so again until he finally wins.

People are different. Technology changes things completely. Things happen(like earthquakes, floods...). You have other countries and groups there. There's much happening. You can hope for 4k years, if you're really good. But history and nature shows that change is what drives us further, and change will occur, whether you want it or not. All you need is one man with a lot of charisma.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ +1 for raising valid points. However, remember that this is Worldbuilding, not Politics SE. OP is creating a world to be used for fiction, and in that fiction he wants a 10k year old empire. Saying "you can't have that element in your world" is fair enough. However, the other answers are trying to give him ways to explain to his audience how that came to be. Yes, in real life it might have failed in some way. But OP is the master of his own world, and by some improbable sequence of events, it might have worked out here. This is about how to explain what that sequence was. $\endgroup$
    – Fiksdal
    Oct 2, 2016 at 10:38
  • $\begingroup$ In other words, it's about how to explain it to his audience in a somewhat believable way. Not create a scenario that is likely to work more than 10% of the time if you actually had a world-simulator. Let's say there's a 1% chance that any scenario may work. That's enough, the unlikely may have happened in OPs world. We need to at least make it as believeable as we can to the audience. $\endgroup$
    – Fiksdal
    Oct 2, 2016 at 10:40
  • $\begingroup$ @Fiksdal the chances are far less than 1%, I'd guess that by at least few orders of magnitude. Of course author might want to choose to bend the rules and do whatever he wants, but this will be as believable as the future in which people travel through the space, but our best communication medium is plain old letter. Doesn't mean the world couldn't be entertaining though. $\endgroup$ Oct 3, 2016 at 11:06
  • $\begingroup$ When you say less than 1%, which of the answers are you talking about? Also, this doesn't have the hard-science or even the science-based tag. OP can bend the rules as much as he wants. This is fiction. He just needs to make it as plausible as possible to the reader. $\endgroup$
    – Fiksdal
    Oct 3, 2016 at 11:13
  • $\begingroup$ @Fiksdal that's what my last sentence aimed to say. $\endgroup$ Oct 3, 2016 at 11:32

10,000 years is the time between the first villages practicing agriculture, and today. The longest lasting civilization in recorded history is ancient Egypt, which roughly maintained its cultural traits from 3,000 BC to circa 300 AD. Ancient China is probably the next in line. These civilization thrived in a world where technological progress moved at a glacial pace. Given the pace of change in the last 100 years, it is challenging to imagine any political structure lasting more than a few decades unchanged. Maybe a traumatic event such as a terrific solar storm destroying out technological infrastructure (http://spectrum.ieee.org/energy/the-smarter-grid/a-perfect-storm-of-planetary-proportions) could send humanity back to a place where a glacial pace of change permits long lasting political systems to take place.


I think the biggest question for imperial longevity is how is power passed on without any risk of fragmenting the empire or having incompetent leadership?

In this regard, the historically most common case of a monarchy with patrilinear succession is just about the worst possible case, since it offers no protection whatsoever against incompetent, insane or recklessly ambitious rulers, and questions of legitimacy open the door wide for wars of succession and fragmentation.

Possible solutions:

  • An immortal ruler. Probably the safest one.
  • The most competent but also cautious person is chosen to be the ruler through some process that everyone accepts as fair and correct.
  • A dynasty where heirs are genetically protected against mental instability and low intelligence, and perfectly indoctrinated to be competent, cautious, and never go against the official line of succession. You probably also need it to be matrilinear, or establish legitimacy through DNA testing or some other kind of infallible oracle.

One somewhat fringe solution that has not been mentioned: history rewriting. If the ruling class is sufficiently authoritative and controls enough media, start asserting that your empire has been already existing for 10000 years (for starters, incorporate any existing historical records, by claiming those were about your empire), of course this includes fabricating textbook content. In just several generations, everyone knows your empire has been around for that long.

This is not something that has not been tried in our own history (USSR and DPKR come to the mind) - just not on such a scale. It helps if your world has already ten millennia of historical records.


Welcome your robot Overlords (did I say overlords? I meant protectors)!

(Riffing on the answer from User4239)

There are 2 major problems with empire, Change and People. These problems form a sort of feedback loop

Technological change often disrupts societies far more than anything else because those changes mean prosperity, which in turn means power. The shift in power that results in people thinking differently. One of these thoughts is that "It's not fair...so and so just doesn't like me". Discontent and anger builds until the power that came from the tech is used to upset the societal norm. This will create a back and forth dynamic, probably a violent one. One side wins and oppresses the other. Rinse and repeat. Look at history and you can see a lot of this going on. A quick example would be the industrial revolution. Landed Aristocracy is out, Robber Barons are in.

Robots solve this by being programmed, fact driven, and impartial. With them as the ultimate arbiters, It's a bit harder for most rational folks to develop that discontent necessary for an uprising. Robots are effectively immortal, needing only maintenance. Heck, Look at Marvin from the Hitchhikers Guide books, who at the end was 32 times older than the universe itself. This gives your society leadership continuity, the lack of which caused so many empires to fall.

Leadership continuity provides a framework to not stop change, but manage it's effects to some degree.

Finally, the Robots could just disintegrate us all, thereby removing the people impediment to empire. Without people there is no change, discontent, uprisings or anything else. Plants don't revolt too much.


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