SHAPE OF THE FUTURE (7)

1. Contents/Introduction
2. Dual Nature of the Empire
3. Spiritual and Physical Geography
4. Economic Superpower: the New Beast
5. Who are the Two Superpowers of the End?
6. Physical Geography: Which Two Territories?
7. Earth Beast: False Prophet and Money Master
8. Iron-Clay Kingdom = Sea-Earth Beasts’ Empire
9. The Kingdom shall be Divided
10. Role of Technology

11. What the Future Holds
12. Summary

Appendix 1: Modern Religions, Cultures of Darkness
Appendix 2: How Iron Continues in Today’s World
Appendix 3: Background History – Clay-Earth Bloc
Appendix 4: Eighth Head

7. EARTH-BEAST: FALSE PROPHET AND MONEY MASTER

So far, we have examined how this view of a dual empire split into Europe and Asia appears to have been foreseen in the symbolic portrayal of the Daniel 2 “image” (in its feet). How then might the two Beasts of Revelation 13 fit into this framework?

The Scriptures (in Ezekiel 38-39) point specifically to Russia as representing the “beast from the sea”. But what can we say about identifying China and EU nations as the “beast from the earth”? 

The modern historical situation does seem to offer some good signposts that might point us in that direction in our thinking: first, in this Beast’s role as the False Prophet; secondly, in his role as the Earth’s commercial superpower.

Of course, it is difficult to understand how two far-apart regions could be symbolized by one Beast. But maybe this is why the Earth-Beast was depicted having two horns – to show that two separate powers would rule the world economically and spiritually in the Last Days.

Anyway, we are only exploring the possible outline of the future. In time it will become clear, and we’ll know more exactly how these prophetic words from long ago should be applied to historical reality.

As the False Prophet:

In Revelation 13:11 it is said of the Earth-Beast that “he had two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon.” The horns of a lamb are tiny – a rather un-warlike portrayal when compared with the other sea-Beast and his “ten horns” of whom it was said, “Who is able to make war with him?” So the Earth-Beast’s role must be a more peaceful one, and as mentioned earlier, China and the EU are engaged primarily in economic activity.

Europe, especially, is more peaceful and tolerant. Having suffered through two World Wars, Europe has learned to distrust war and is far more conciliatory in her ways than other world powers. Thus, it is safe to say that Europe’s role in world affairs, and China’s, seems to fit nicely the symbolism of the earth-Beast having “two horns like a lamb”.

Since the end of the Cold War, the EU has peacefully expanded to include 15 new member states and has transformed much of its neighborhood by reducing ethnic conflicts, exporting the rule of law, and developing economies from the Baltic to the Balkans. . . At a global level, many of the rules and institutions that keep markets open and regulate world trade, limit carbon emissions, and prosecute human rights abusers were created by the European Union. Who was behind the World Trade Organization and the International Criminal Court? Not the United States or China. It’s Europe that has led the way toward a future run by committees and statesmen, not soldiers and strongmen. . .
       (from “Think Again: European Decline” – by Mark Leonard, Hans Kundnani, 29 April 2013)

But the passage also states that he “spoke like a dragon.” Since this Beast is also referred to as the False Prophet in Revelation 19:20, 20:10, then he must be communicating a false message to the world. And since he’s doing it “like a dragon”, then that implies that he’s a sort of spokesman for the spiritual forces of Darkness (since in Revelation 12:9 the “great dragonis “called the Devil and Satan.”)

Instead of being a warmonger like the Antichrist, the False Prophet plays the role of deceiver: “he deceives those who dwell on the earth.” (Revelation 13:14) Through his influence he is turning the masses of the world’s people away from faith in a supernatural and loving Creator to the modern “religion” of secular materialism/humanism, the exaltation into divine status of man and his world. This will include the modern version of emperor-worship (adulation) of the other Beast known as the Antichrist.

Definition of Materialism:
1. Preoccupation with or emphasis on material objects, comforts, and considerations, as opposed to spiritual or intellectual values.
2. T
he philosophical theory that regards matter as constituting the universe, and all phenomena, including those of mind, as due to material agencies.
Definition of Humanism:

Any system of thought or action based on the nature, interests, and ideals of man; specifically, a modern, non-theistic, rationalist movement that holds that man is capable of self-fulfillment, ethical conduct, etc. without recourse to supernaturalism.

Indeed, looking at the cultures of China and Europe, it seems that, of all regions in the earth, none have become so steeped in this modern religion of secular materialism. China, being a communist nation, represents a huge portion of the world where atheism is the official “religion”; and all other faith-based religions (which accept the role of Higher Being greater than and beyond any human authority) are being systematically dismantled.

Europe also, in a different way, has become a bastion of secular materialism. Europe has forgotten how much of her history was rooted solidly in the Christian faith, and how much Christian ideals and practices are woven into the fabric of her culture, and how much she has benefited from that and from the work, ideas, and inventions of dedicated Christians in the past. And so Europe has transformed from being the center of Christianity that it once was to a major center now of secular materialism/humanism. (For some background information, see Appendix 1: Modern Day Religions, Cultures of Darkness.)

But Europe and China behave well on the international scene – at least, compared to how poorly the U.S. is behaving. There are many concerned U.S, citizens who decry the growing sense of immorality in American policies. Here is one example (of many):

        Permit me to acknowledge that the US dropped nuclear bombs on two Japanese cities, fire-bombed Tokyo, that Great Britain and the US fire-bombed Dresden and a number of other German cities, expending more destructive force, according to some historians, against the civilian German population than against the German armies, that President Grant and his Civil War war criminals, Generals Sherman and Sheridan, committed genocide against the Plains Indians, that the US today enables Israel’s genocidal policies against the Palestinians, policies that one Israeli official has compared to 19th century US genocidal policies against the American Indians, that the US in the new 21st century invaded Iraq and Afghanistan on contrived pretenses, murdering countless numbers of civilians, and that British prime minister Tony Blair lent the British army to his American masters, as did other NATO countries, all of whom find themselves committing war crimes under the Nuremberg standard in lands in which they have no national interests, but for which they receive an American pay check.
        I don’t mean these few examples to be exhaustive. I know the list goes on and on.
        (from
“The Collapse of Western Morality” – Paul Craig Roberts, 24 September 2010)

The world can easily see that Christian America’s self-appointed role as the world’s policeman is not working – her aggressive, clumsy approach to international relations. America seems to have forgotten such basic principles as Christ’s words in the historic “Sermon on the Mount” to “love your enemies”. (Matthew 5:44)

So both the American way and the Euro-China way work to turn people against God. The American worldview and way are more physically destructive, and the Euro-China worldview and way are more spiritually destructive. And both are preparing the way for the final Beast empire and the Man of Sin (the Antichrist) and for his way in the Last Days. He will declare that he has succeeded where religion has failed, so the world should worship him.

The world sees also that, besides America’s misguided Christianity, Islamic extremism and Judaism’s belligerence in the Mid East are not working either. So what are people to conclude? God’s way doesn’t seem to work. So Europe and China’s way of secularism must be the answer – goodness without God.

It is sad, of course, that this kind of message is being conveyed; it hides from the world the reality of our loving Creator who fully intends to bring righteousness, justice, and peace into the world of mankind.

And of all things, it is the corrupted and misguided activities of the above-mentioned religious groups who are helping to bring this about, whose poor example is playing straight into the hands of the forces of Darkness. They will give the Antichrist plenty of fuel for his propaganda fire, his “blasphemy against God” and “pompous words against the Most High”. (Revelation 13:6, Daniel 7:25)

As for the False Prophet, he will find it handy to clothe himself in the secular garments of righteousness, as exemplified in the cultures of the European Union and China. Hiding behind this façade will make it easier for him to promote his materialism religion that will include Antichrist-worship.

The EU has its share of misguided policies, to be sure, but its basic policy of nations banding together rather than warring against each other is an important positive feature. And in the field of international relations, the EU is far wiser and peace-seeking than the American superpower.

As for China, much the same can be said for her international policies. Again, compared to America’s destructive, self-seeking approach, China is much more constructive and is seeking prosperity, not just for herself, but for that of other nations also.

Besides being commercial empires, China, and Europe especially, are media empires. They certainly have the technological capacity and should be capable of fulfilling what Revelation 13 says about the False Prophet Beast: He “causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast (the Antichrist)”. (verse 12) He causes the lifelike “image” to be broadcast, which will “both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed”. (verse 15) (To understand how this passage manifests in modern society see “Destructive Power of the Image” in Unraveling the Mystery of the Image series.)

In the early days of press and TV, media outlets were independent and useful sources of truth, but nowadays, to a great extent, they have fallen under the control of the wishes and whims of big business, those who handle the purse strings and advertising revenue. Modern media have had a tremendous influence in Europe, and other nations, causing them to stray from their Christian roots, mainly by promoting so much materialism.

Except for a few independent and little known outlets, mainstream media have become mouthpieces for the status quo or whatever emerging status quo happens to be looming on the horizon – which in the days to come will manifest as the dual empire of the Beasts of earth and sea. Since the Earth-Beast is also called the False Prophet, then his main job must be to communicate to the world an anti-God attitude and message. . . and eventually bring it to the point of worshiping the Antichrist.

As the financial, commercial superpower:

In Chapter 4 (“Economic Superpower: the New Beast”), we saw how the clay-earth symbolism points towards economic, rather than military, strength. And this is certainly true of China and the European Union.

Take, for example, the fact that the organizational basis for Europe’s unity hinges on a monetary union. Not military or political authority, but financial authority, is the foundation of her power. And this, as we’ve learned, seems to be one of the strong points about the Earth-Beast in Revelation 13: his ability to control the buying and selling activities of the world.

And in the realm of commercial activity, China’s busy manufacturing industries have given her the modern reputation of “factory of the world”. And even more, she has established huge infrastructure projects and transportation links across Eurasia. These are destined to unite the Eurasian land mass, outfitting it to become the ruling powerhouse of the future.

        The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), as in the Chinese-led New Silk Roads, are a historical game-changer in infinite ways. Slowly and surely, we are evolving towards the configuration of an economically interlinked group of top Eurasian land powers, from Shanghai to the Ruhr valley, profiting in a coordinated manner from the huge technological know-how of Germany and China and the enormous energy resources of Russia.
        The Raging 2020s may signify the historical juncture when this bloc surpasses the current, hegemonic Atlanticist bloc.
(from “Why the New Silk Roads are a ‘threat’ to US bloc” – Pepe Escobar, 24 January 2020)

        Hybrid War techniques. . . will be hardly enough to derail the Russia-China strategic partnership. To unlock the deeper meaning of this partnership, we need to understand that Beijing defines it as rolling towards a “new era.” That implies strategic long-term planning. . .
        Beijing expects to have fully woven a new, multipolar paradigm of sovereign nations/partners across Eurasia and beyond, all connected by an interlocking maze of belts and roads.
       
The Russian project – Greater Eurasia – somewhat mirrors Belt & Road and will be integrated with it. Belt & Road, the Eurasia Economic Union, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank are all converging towards the same vision. . .
       
For the US, this is indeed an existential battle – against the whole Eurasia integration process, the New Silk Roads, the Russia-China strategic partnership, those Russian hypersonic weapons mixed with supple diplomacy, the profound disgust and revolt against US policies all across the Global South, the nearly inevitable collapse of the US dollar. What’s certain is that the Empire won’t go quietly into the night. We should all be ready for the battle of the ages.
       
(from “Battle of the Ages to stop Eurasian integration” – Pepe Escobar, 16 January 2020)

Next to the U.S.A., China and the EU are usually ranked as the second and third largest economies in today’s world. Together, if they join forces, they can easily overcome American dominance in the economic realm.

And very important, the Euro has become the major alternative and arch-rival to the Dollar’s dominance in the world’s currency markets.  Some helpful observations from Wikipedia (“Economy of the European Union”):

        The European Union is the second largest economy in the world in nominal terms and according to purchasing power parity (PPP). The European Union’s GDP was estimated to be $18.8 trillion (nominal) in 2018, representing ~22% of global economy (Nominal global GDP).
        The euro, used by 19 of its 28 members, is the second largest reserve currency as well as the second most traded currency in the world after the United States dollar. The euro is the official currency in 25 countries, in the eurozone and in six other European countries, officially or de facto.
        . . . Foreign investments made in the European Union total $5.1 trillion in 2012, while the EU’s investments in foreign countries total $9.1 trillion, by far the highest domestic and foreign investments in the world.

The above figures, tallied before Brexit, should be adjusted downward, of course. Nevertheless, the point remains that the Euro is the world’s strongest currency after the Dollar.

And a recent development in French-German decision-making portends to strengthen the EU as expressed in the following news excerpt:

        From Europe, we often remember that it is built with great difficulty. We point out its divisions. We mock her weakness, her lack of leadership. . . All the more reason to salute the event when she has a spine. By accepting the principle of a debt shared within the Union, Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel mark a decisive step in European construction. They give it a dimension that it had never had before: that of a united union, capable of surpassing the particular interests of each. That of a union that holds its rank against the two superpowers that are China and the United States. In short, that of a union carrying a political project which is asserting itself in response to the global blast constituted by the Covid crisis.
        . . . Already essential for the proper functioning of the Union, financial transfers between rich and poor, southern and northern, will thus take on a scale that we thought unimaginable in recent weeks – to the tune of an additional 500 billion euros.
       
(“Nouvelle Europe”, Lucie Robequain, 18 May 2020)

If this means a reversal of the former austerity policy that benefited the more prosperous nations, as well as a move away from American influence, then that should result in a stronger European Union.

So, from what we’ve learned so far, the False Prophet presides, not only over the religion of Antichrist-worship, but also, because of his control over the world’s wealth, he should also be regarded as the one who presides over the religion of Materialism. And Materialism is a religion in its own right, and one that has persisted throughout history. Along this line, here is an interesting quote:

◊     “The Lord epitomizes or symbolizes it [Materialism] by calling it Mammon, who was the god of wealth and things of the ancient World. Jesus Himself said it, He uses that as a symbol. He uses that god that they were familiar with and they knew was the god of wealth and things and possessions. He said, ‘You cannot serve both Mammon and the Lord.’ (Mat 6:24). . .”
       “They [Capitalist & Communist governments] all worship this world and this Earth and what it can provide, things and money and wealth and possessions and gadgets and the power that it gives them. The World has only one really genuine worldwide religion which would be popular with everybody, the worship of materialism, and greater than any other religion, more widespread than any other religion, more general. . .”
       (from David Berg lecture, June/1985)

In recent times the EU has undergone much strain in its unity and economic affairs, so it remains to be seen how she will emerge from the present crises. In the end it may strengthen the Union, as it centralizes more authority to itself, or it may weaken it.  Anyway, we’ll have to wait and see how things pan out. (There is much pessimism these days regarding the future of the European Union. Much of it may be true. But it can be helpful to see the other side of the picture, as in this News article.)

Regardless of recent events, as an economic association, the EU stands out as a much different sort of empire to those that have come and gone through history. And this reflects how the “earth” symbolism for the Beast in the Revelation 13:11-18 passage differs from the symbolism for the other Beasts in the Books of Daniel and Revelation, all of whom rose “from the sea”. 

        The EU is an entirely unprecedented phenomenon in world affairs: a project of political, economic, and above all legal integration among 27 countries with a long history of fighting each other. What has emerged is neither an intergovernmental organization nor a superstate, but a new model that pools resources and sovereignty with a continent-sized market and common legislation and budgets to address transnational threats from organized crime to climate change. Most importantly, the EU has revolutionized the way its members think about security, replacing the old traditions of balance-of-power politics and noninterference in internal affairs with a new model under which security for all is guaranteed by working together.
       (from “Think Again: European Decline” – by Mark Leonard, Hans Kundnani, Foreign Policy, 29 April 2013) https://foreignpolicy.com/2013/04/29/think-again-european-decline/

And much the same could be said of China and its ambitious plans to unite the Eurasian continent economically through its wide-ranging infrastructure projects known as the “Belt and Road Initiative”, and sometimes referred to as the new “Silk Road”.

Besides economic features, Europe and China differ from other superpowers of the past in another way too: compared to the warlike Antichrist “beast from the sea”, or for that matter to the American superpower, Europe, especially, is more peaceful and tolerant. Having suffered through two World Wars, Europe has learned to distrust war and is far more conciliatory in her ways than other world powers.

Europe’s role in world affairs, and China’s, seems to fit nicely the symbolism of the earth-Beast having “two horns like a lamb” – a rather un-warlike portrayal when compared with the other sea-Beast and his “ten horns” of whom it was said, “Who is able to make war with him?”

Both China and the EU have exhibited some valuable assets that are sorely needed in the modern world:

1) Both have learned how to get various nations to work together, and this would be helpful in forming a more broadly based government that could include nations from different parts of the world.
2) The EU has had centuries of experience in international affairs and, compared to America’s efforts, can exercise better leadership and administration in the world.
3) In addition, the EU is also a major media broadcasting center and, along with China, a major center of the world’s computer surveillance networks and cashless economic system.

All these features combine in what could become a dual empire of China and a basket of EU nations – an empire that seems to fit the prophetic description of the False Prophet Beast given in Revelation 13: “he [Earth-Beast] had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast. . . He causes all. . . to receive a mark. . . that no one may buy or sell. . .” (verses 11,12,16,17)

Taking all these factors into consideration, if the False Prophet Beast were to have a geographical headquarters somewhere, then the modern, technologically advanced superpowers of the EU and China, on either end of the Eurasian continent, would seem to fit as the right location, the ideal base of operations from which the Earth-Beast can subject the rest of the world under the future regime of the “mark-number” economic system.

If indeed this is true, then it wouldn’t be difficult to imagine the Dark legions working in these lands as a hidden driving force, preparing the way for the False Prophet and his empire, guiding these nations into something that can be used as a means of ruling the world economically.

This is a hidden reality, difficult to prove right now perhaps, but in the future it shouldn’t surprise us to see the emergence of Europe and China as the new controlling authority on matters to do with allegiance to the reign of the Antichrist and a new world order with its “mark-number” buying and selling system.

The transformation of Europe into an economic union and the trade and transportation links forged by China’s Belt and Road Initiative showcase the fact that groups of independent nations can be organized into commercial empires. Of all nations in the world, the EU and China are the ones best poised to bring in other nations under their “umbrella”. For years we have seen nations being herded into economic union, either in the EU or in the BRI, for good reasons: the advantages of greater unity, peace, and economic stability.

And if that were the end of the story, it would be fine, but behind it all the forces of Darkness will work to corrupt these rising systems and use their resources as a means to exercise more control in the world. . .  and thereby transform them into the “beast coming up out of the earth.” (Revelation 13:11)

Now there is nothing wrong with the idea of having some sort of overall association or government; this is not bad in itself. The world recognized after World War 2 the need for some kind of overall organization and coordination among its various nations to manage international crises of war, pollution, food scarcities, etc.; this is what the United Nations was supposed to achieve.

But how true it seems to be in this world that no matter how useful a new invention, a new philosophy, or in this case, a new organization of states and infrastructure may be, the forces of Darkness are always there to infiltrate, corrupt, and distort it in some way to serve a harmful design.

Especially in the sphere of peace-keeping, the U.N. has become rather weak and ineffective so that stronger nations are not restrained enough from pursuing their own agendas and self-interest. As a result the world has seen too many pointless wars and genocidal conflicts since the U.N. was founded in 1945.

In this world it will always be rare to find a government that is truly following God’s way of righteousness and peace. For the most part that is something that will have to wait for Christ’s Second Coming and intervention into the affairs of mankind, as foretold in several passages from the Sacred Book.

In the meantime we can rejoice, that, finally, the coming of Christ will set mankind free to pursue their present worthwhile endeavors and goals unhindered by the interference of Satan and his hordes, and that God’s plan to establish His Kingdom “on earth as it is in heaven” will be fulfilled. (Matthew 6:10)

Conclusion

The overall picture from the Daniel and Revelation Books points to the arrival of an End of the Age empire consisting of two Beasts. We know Russia fits as one Beast. So, we’re just trying to complete the picture and figure out who the other Beast is.

We might call Europe and China the anti-Christ Earth-Beast, and Russia the anti-Christ Sea-Beast. And it is by means of these two that this dual empire is able to conquer a large part of the world in a thorough manner – militarily and politically by the Antichrist (from Russia), economically and spiritually by the False Prophet (presumably from Europe and/or China).

That may be a very simple picture, and there are more facets to be covered later. It’s difficult to know accurately how things will pan out in the future, but for now it’s a starting point. Hopefully, it gives us a better view of the “elephant” and a better understanding of this mystery about the dual nature of the final empire.

So, in a sense, there are actually two Antichrists. Perhaps we’re not used to thinking of the False Prophet beast as another Antichrist. One is enough. Until the time comes, it’s a little difficult to pinpoint exactly how the roles will play out.

But the Revelation Book does suggest that two high-profile personages will play their parts on the End Time stage. Generally, we could say that the False Prophet won’t be worshiped like the Antichrist, but his power is probably just as great, and his influence is just as anti-Christ as the Antichrist’s, if not more so.

The Antichrist will come out as the world’s new demagogue, by virtue of commanding a powerful military-political empire, while the False Prophet will come out as the world’s new promoter of Materialism, by virtue of commanding enormous power through his control over Earth’s economy and wealth – its finances, industry, natural resources, and so on. And through that he is able to steer the world’s religious orientation towards devotion to both Materialism and Emperor worship.

The domains of the two “beasts” are different, and this would make sense: as the Revelation Book pictures it, these beasts don’t just co-exist but are like co-regents. It would be difficult to do that if both were operating in the same arena of power. Two military superpowers would come into conflict with each other. But with the Antichrist as the military superpower, the False Prophet could join forces with him from a different angle as the world’s economic superpower (and along with that, be its guiding religious influence).

        I believe that the relationship between Russia and China is a symbiosis, which is much stronger than any alliances because while the latter can be broken, the former typically cannot (at least not without extremely severe consequences).  I also believe that Putin and Xi both understand that the fact that Russia and China are so completely different is not a problem, but a tremendous asset: they fit perfectly, like Lego or puzzle pieces.  What Russia has China does not and vice-versa.  And, just to clarify for the logically challenged: both sides also understand that they will never get from the other side by war what they could get by peaceful exchange. . .
       
Yes, Russia and China need each other.  I would argue that they need each other.  Vitally.  And yes, the “loss” of one would threaten the other.  But that is not just true for Russia, it is also very true of China (which desperately needs Russian energy, high-tech, natural resources, weapons systems but most of all, Russian experience: for most of her existence Russia was threatened, invaded, attacked, sanctioned, boycotted and disparaged by a long succession of western states, and she defeated them all.  Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, but each time Russia prevailed.  The determination and ability to resist the West is something which is deeply embedded in the Russian cultural DNA (this in sharp contrast with the rest of the so-called “East European” countries).  Finally, and for all their very real recent advances, the Chinese armed forces are still far behind the Russian (or the USA for that matter) and in a one-on-one war against the USA China would definitely lose, especially if the USA goes “all out”.  Russia, on the other hand, has the means to turn the US and Europe into a post-industrial nuclear wasteland (using nuclear and, most importantly, non-nuclear munitions!).
        [“Can Russia (or Iran) Survive without China?” by Unz Review, 21 November 2019]

So, to give a brief synopsis of the future, it seems safe to predict that the Antichrist and his empire will make a military conquest over much of the world through their wars in the Middle East and against America. (This can be deduced from the following chapters: Ezekiel 38-39, Daniel 11:21-45, Revelation 17-18.)

But to complete that conquest,  a strong financial base and infrastructure will be needed that can provide an alternative to America’s Dollar capitalist system. The Antichrist will also require the support of the media to foster worship of himself. There will also be a need for administration and an effective surveillance system to keep an eye on the world’s vast population.

So, who takes care of all that? It would be difficult to picture Russia alone possessing enough of that kind of power to effectively rule the world.

However, looking at the present historical landscape, it would be easy to picture China and Europe as the powers capable of providing those elements necessary for a thorough conquest of the world.

So, is it any wonder that in our world today, we see the Russia-China combine (joined by some European nations in the future?) striding forward, gathering power all over Eurasia, and in the eyes of American lawmakers, posing an existential threat to them?

It should be clear in our minds, though, that it is because of America’s sins on the international scene – greed, exploitation, warmongering – that God is allowing her rivals to be strengthened and eventually to defeat her. (And this is a whole other study in itself, a sad story, which is outlined in chapters 17-18 of the Book of Revelation.)

Continue to 8: Iron-Clay Kingdom = Sea-Earth Beasts’ Empire

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