Why the Holy Roman Empire Did and Does Not Matter

It is too easy and too often thought that because nothing is perfect, humankind will forever be divided, at odds, even doomed. A fitting read for the Christmas holidays, Peter H. Wilson’s 2016 The Holy Roman Empire: A Thousand Years of Europe’s History rebels against that dumb-headedness. With impressive scholarship and humane writing, Oxford prof. Wilson overturns prevailing notions of the Holy Roman Empire as a failed state-building project. He argues the Empire, as it was called for much of its history, should be taken seriously as a distinct political form, and not as a confused way station in the rise of modern nation-states. It endured for a thousand years, twice as long as imperial Rome. Wilson arrays the 900 plus pages into four digestible parts: Ideal, Belonging, Governance, and Society. He shows how the Empire had a political order with pragmatic political institutions, distinct ambitions, and an historically distinct form of belonging. This is an important contribution for rethinking European political experience and expands our awareness of possible political forms.

What brings this work into the concerns of the BBP, is how Wilson understands why Continue reading “Why the Holy Roman Empire Did and Does Not Matter”

The Beyond Babel Project: Opening Statement

The Beyond Babel Project aims to publish and curate thought concerning the idea of a global society in an era of global disorder. It will mostly host my own thought, as I work on a larger project on this topic, but I will also be inviting a number of guest contributions, be accepting content, and will gather content on this topic posted elsewhere, as it emerges. In this opening statement, I want to set out the goals and justifications for this project.

The project has two major goals. 1, to gather the disparate currents of thought concerning the idea of a global society. If there is a big question behind this project, it is: what does it mean to form a community of all humankind? What does it mean for humankind to be together, as ‘one’, and not apart? Does that mean going beyond cultural incomprehensions, or beyond a diversity of goals and ideals, or does it mean cosmopolitan solidarity? The vision of human unity and division is conceived in diverse ways that are scattered across theory and practice. Continue reading “The Beyond Babel Project: Opening Statement”