Civilizational Immunity to Globalism

October 12th, 2023

Due to an embarrassing deficit in knowledge of history, and a geopolitical climate that makes remedying this shortcoming all the more urgent, I've started reading A History of the Modern World (8th Edition - Palmer, Colton - 1995). I'm only 80 pages into the 1000 page book but already there are quite a few gems. One that struck me as being particularly relevant to today's situation is the story of The Protestant Reformation:

Charles V of the Empire (he was known as Charles I in Spain) was thus beyond all comparison the most powerful ruler of his day. But still other fortunes awaited the house of Habsburg. The Turks, who had occupied Constantinople in 1453, were at this time pushing through Hungary and menacing central Europe. In 1526 they defeated the Hungarians at the battle of Mohacs. The parliaments of Hungary, and of the adjoining kingdom of Bohemia, hoping to gain allies in the face of the Turkish peril, thereupon elected Charles V’s brother Ferdinand as their king. The Habsburg family was now entrenched in central Europe, in the Netherlands, in Spain, in the Mediterranean, in south Italy, in America. No one since Charlemagne had stood so far above all rivals. Contemporaries cried that Europe was threatened with "universal monarchy," with a kind of world-state in which no people could preserve its independence.

Sound familiar? It's a relief that the world did not turn into a "world-state" where "no people could preserve its independence" and also reassuring that humans seem to contain within themselves a visceral aversion to global rule by a single monolithic entity.

Against the emperor, a group of Lutheran princes and free cities formed the League of Schmalkald. The king of France, Francis I, though a Catholic in good standing, allied with and supported the League. Political interests overrode religious ones. Against the "universal monarchy" of the swollen Habsburgs the French found alliances where they could, allying with the Turks as with the Lutherans, building up a balance of power against their mighty foe.

Spurred to action by this civilizational immune response, leaders of lesser powers allied with each other to decentralize power away from the Habsburgs and Roman Catholic Church. This period of strife ended with The Peace of Augsburg:

The terms set at Augsburg signified a complete victory for the cause of Lutheranism and states’ rights. Each state of the Empire received the liberty to be either Lutheran or Catholic as it chose—cuius regio eius religio, "whose the region, his the religion." No individual freedom of religion was permitted; if a ruler or a free city decided for Lutheranism, then all persons had to be Lutheran. Similarly in Catholic states all had to be Catholic.
The Peace of Augsburg was thus, in religion, a great victory for Protestantism, and at the same time, in German politics and constitutional matters, a step in the disintegration of Germany into a mosaic of increasingly separate states.

It's too early to say if this is what we're seeing now with the alliance of BRICS nations against the US and the rest of NATO, but it's at least interesting to see that man has been faced with the threat of "globalism" before, and successfully avoided it.

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One Comment

  1. awt says:

    Interesting. Wasn't aware of this incident at all.

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