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17 Empire the Modern Way

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Chapter Summary

This paper examines an assumption that underlies much modern scholarship on empire, namely, that empire rests on force. Empire need not rest on force, at least not exclusively, and especially not if it aspires to universality. Author's thought that their insistence on the significance of empire for understanding medieval and early modern politics was on the mark. On this analogy, empire the ancient way embodied the conviction that all human beings are members of one cultural community, never mind their many different ways of life, and never mind the many other groups-such as cities, nations, states, and families-with which they may identify. Two factors thus go into making empire the ancient way. First, we can now assign a reasonable meaning to the emperor's alleged right to rule the world. Second, this helps us understand why empire the ancient way declined and fell.

Keywords: cultural community; Empire; modern politics



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