Sunday, May 28, 2017
True, some reactionary types draw back in horror from the “nationalist” label but I am not one of them. I would need to know more about them first. I have firmly come to disagree with the notion that nationalism was some wicked innovation introduced by the French Revolution. There has always been nationalism because there has always been nations, it is only that in the old days there were things above nationality in the hierarchy of importance such as religion was in the ‘Ages of Faith’ and of course the monarchy which the Church, generally, reinforced. That, of course, is when the Austro-Hungarian card is usually played as though this were an irrefutable contradiction of such a position. Again, not so, at least as I see it. Austria-Hungary is an often abused whipping boy on the subject which both sides like to throttle, some nationalists holding it up as an example that “multiculturalism” does not work and one which the advocates of multiculturalism hold up, not because they admire a Catholic imperial monarchy, but because they think it must disarm any traditionalist opposition. So, let us talk about Austria-Hungary directly.
Even in the Middle Ages, people knew that an Italian was not a German and a German was not a Spaniard and a Spaniard was not a Frenchman and a Frenchman was not an Englishman. If you like, nationalism was often not seen as important but only by those people for whom it was not under threat or for whom there was some greater struggle underway over something that was even more important to them. However, that does not mean it did not exist or just because it was not their top priority did not mean that it didn’t matter to them at all. During the Middle Ages, religion was generally held as more important than anything else, yet because almost the whole of Europe was Catholic, religion was not always the primary issue. When the English invaded France during the Hundred Years War, the French did not think having an English king and English lords was acceptable since they were all Catholics. No, they were determined to drive the English out of their country and have France for the French, which they ultimately did.
The problems that Austria-Hungary had, and this is why so many Austrians long advocated for the conquest of Serbia (which the Hungarians opposed) was when you had part of a nation in one country and the majority of that nation in another country. This is why their relationship with Italy was always problematic and it is why the Serbian problem ultimately brought about a world war and their ruin. Peoples who were entirely within the empire could be managed, then there were peoples like the Poles who had only part of their population within the empire but who did not have an independent nation-state of their own just across the border. The Austrians in particular, worried about this and so pushed for the conquest of Serbia so that the whole Serb population would be within the empire and could be managed. However, since power-sharing had become the trend, the Hungarians opposed this for the obvious reason that adding a third nation to the table would mean less power and influence for themselves. Each side had a reason for either wanting or not wanting the war and each was understandable.
Obviously, he was not a nationalist as far as his non-German subjects were concerned and he was unsuccessful in making the Germans of Austria the master of Germany as a whole as things worked out. However, he was obviously not opposed to nationalism, at least for the Germans and he certainly did not think that nationalism was unimportant or imaginary. None of the remaining Habsburg monarchs did either. Having been pushed out of Germany, they first tried, with the Austrian Empire, to rule over a multitude of nationalities with the German-Austrians at the top, though the Hungarians and to a lesser extent other certain areas had always had a degree of autonomy. That ultimately proved unworkable and so the famous compromise was agreed to that created Austria-Hungary. Again, this was not about saying everyone was the same, it was not about mixing Austrians and Hungarians together, but rather was about two distinct units; the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary, working together as partners under a shared monarch.
Finally, to compare the situation in Europe today with that of Austria-Hungary is completely nonsensical. Compared to today, Austria-Hungary was hardly “multicultural” at all. The peoples who were subject to the Habsburg monarch were almost entirely European with the Jewish population being the only group of non-European ancestry. Those who populated Austria-Hungary were overwhelmingly Christians and for the most part Catholic. Yes, there were pockets of Protestants, the Jewish minority, Orthodox Slavs and, after the annexation of Bosnia, a Muslim minority but they were all easily dwarfed by the number of Catholic Austrians, Poles, Slovaks, Croats, Hungarians, Italians and so on. People with this much in common can, and have, been able to work together but even among them there were obviously difficulties. This is hardly the same as expecting peoples from different continents, different races, different religions, different hemispheres of the earth to melt together with no problems at all. In fact, religious differences is a major part of the reason why Austria-Hungary existed with the polyglot collection of peoples that it had.
This is, again, an example of there being other classifications that, at various times, took priority over the ethnic classification. It is also true that those areas which the Austrian Empire and later Austria-Hungary had the most trouble with were areas which had the least amount of history under the Habsburg Crown. Lombardy-Venetia and the Italian populated areas on the Adriatic coast were the first to be lost and they had only been part of the fold since the French Revolution when Austria and the First French Republic agreed to seize and divide between them the territory of the Republic of Venice. The Serbian population which proved so problematic was largely gained only after the Balkan Wars and the annexation of Bosnia in 1909. It also did not help that there were religious differences with the Serbians and, again, in both cases, the Habsburgs were reigning over a part of a population with the rest in an independent nation-state of their own next door.
Friday, May 26, 2017
|Anglo-centric view of British mission to China|
|Le Emperor of Vietnam before Chinese officials|
Of course, not everyone went along with this way of thinking. The Vietnamese in particular were well known for referring to their ruler as “king” when dealing with the Chinese but using the title of “emperor” among themselves. They were ruled by the Vietnamese Emperor and everyone knew it but, for the sake of peace and stability, they would pay court to the Emperor of China since that was what was required to keep the Chinese happy. The Europeans were a more mixed bag. Some went along with this local custom, while others refused, first by insisting on meeting the Emperor face-to-face as any ambassador would do with a European monarch and then refusing to get down on both knees and bow down in front of him. They did not show such obeisance to their own monarchs, much less a foreign one. This, of course, inevitably led to problems.
|Barbarians on the rampage|
|The despicable talking shop of the world|
After all, the People’s Bandit Republic of Chinese Sweatshops has certainly not embraced the liberalism and human rights called for by the United Nations. It deals with countries that the UN says are to be shunned, it has engaged in currency manipulation to give its own economy an advantage and has even begun trying to establish a “World Bank” of its own. In effect, they have adopted the forms but not the substance of these new internationalist organizations. They use them to their own advantage but never adhere to anything they say which would, in their view, be detrimental to the current Chinese ruling class and political system. It may be that the Sino-centric mentality does survive in Peking and I would say it proves that the mentality was not all that bad in the first place. Obviously, if you are not Chinese, you are not going to agree with it but if you are Chinese, it has helped them remain more independent than other countries that no longer feel that they are anything unique or special.
|Emperor Tongzhi of the Great Qing Empire|
|As absurd as giant portraits of Karl Marx?|
You will notice that he said, “the world” and not simply that China or that, “the Chinese have stood up”. The pertinent point is that the Chinese do not view themselves as no different from any other people, they do not view themselves as replaceable or interchangeable in the way that western Europeans seem to. They do not ‘go along to get along’ but, on the contrary, insist that others ‘go along’ with their point of view in order to ‘get along’ with them. The most obvious example of this is their insistence on being recognized as the one and only legitimate government of China and refusal to maintain formal relations with anyone who continues to maintain formal relations with the Republic of China on Taiwan.
|Once a sacred ritual, now empty play acting|
Wednesday, May 24, 2017
As for Trump meeting with the King of Saudi Arabia, I am less than pleased. He certainly got a much warmer reception than Obama had, despite the media constantly informing everyone that Trump is "Islamophobic" and he did not kowtow nor did the First Lady cover her hair. The Arab monarchs seemed to have intentionally moved to meet with Trump quickly and put on a great show of friendship but, personally, I am not buying it. As I have long said, I would prefer the Arab monarchs to the most likely alternative which would be a Sunni version of the Iranian Islamic theocracy but being so cozy with the Saudi king and selling him so many weapons does not sit well with me. The level to which America has befriended the Arab monarchies, even to the point of fighting a war to restore an absolute monarch to his throne, has not resulted in any increase in goodwill from the Islamic world (or among monarchists I have noticed) and any sort of benefit remains unknown to me. The Middle East is going through an Islamic civil war with Iran and the Shiites on one side and the Saudis and other Arab states and the Sunnis on the other. I think America should stay completely out of this and not picking a winner between two sides which, frankly, each despise the United States.
Moving on from Jerusalem to Rome, President Trump met with Pope Francis, something which caused some anticipation given that the two had some cross words for each other in the past. The Pope saying that anyone who wanted to build a wall on their border was not a Christian, so I guess he got over that, "who am I to judge?" sentiment, at least on certain issues. I suggested that, upon arrival, Trump might complement the Pontiff on the extremely high walls that surround Vatican City and his private army of Swiss mercenaries who, backed up by the Italian police, keep the little papal state secure. Somehow, I doubt that happened. Trump seemed much more pleased than the Pope but a Vatican spokesman said that the two found common ground on the subjects of "life, religious liberty and freedom of conscience". That sounds nice. However, I could not help but notice that of the three items listed, the Catholic Church was, until fairly recently in ecclesiastical terms, absolutely opposed to all but one of them.
The Pope also urged Trump not to pull out of the Paris "climate change" agreement which seems just as bizarre a thing for a pope to be stuck on as it is to hear a pope advocating for democracy, freedom of religion and the separation of Church and state. Has Pope Francis perhaps heard of his predecessor (Blessed) Pope Pius IX? He might read Pius IX's controversial Syllabus of Errors and see how far it coincides with his own views. Of course, they might say that Pius IX was speaking about areas beyond his field of expertise but, last I checked, this would likewise apply to Pope Francis talking about "climate change". Again, it also just seems an odd subject for a pope to take up, rather smacking of monumental human arrogance to think that a group of powerful men are going to get together and sign agreements that will change the weather. Past pontiffs might, I suspect, have been more concerned about Trump being a protestant or his multiple divorces than his position on the planet's temperature. However, the meeting of these two men, with the media constantly repeating how completely opposite they are, also called to mind something I doubt you will see anywhere else. Yes, it's just that mad.
This meeting has obviously been implied to be a meeting of humility and arrogance, the austere and the opulent and yet, I think that may not be all wrong but not in the way people are thinking. Just consider this for a moment. In numerous official statements from President Trump and his staff, Trump has repeated over and over that he is "learning" more and more all the time about how things work. He has certainly changed many of his positions since he was elected to office (not a good thing in my view btw) and that would necessarily reflect an admission of error. Yet, on the other hand, Pope Francis has said that the papacy has not changed him at all. He is exactly the same man now as he was before his election. In fact, the papacy has had to change considerably in order to adapt to him rather than him adapting to the papacy, everything from dress codes to living arrangements to security procedures have had to be changed. Which then, at the bottom of it, is the more "humble" attitude? One man attains high office and must learn and adapt while the other attains high office and says he has not changed at all, which is to say, there must have been no room for improvement. Of course, I'm probably wrong but that is what occurred to me anyway.
Lastly, as for Trump meeting with the King of the Belgians, it seemed to go well enough but frankly there was not much to that. It was more of a courtesy call than anything else. Trump is there to talk to NATO, to two the neocon line and since Belgium currently has a government, there is little for him to do in terms of national decisions. Perhaps, at least, the fact that King Philippe and Queen Mathilde survived will reassure the British that the Queen and Prince Philip will not be subjected to any immediate danger from meeting with the Trumps. After recent events in Manchester, perhaps they are reconsidering how terrible Trump's suspension of travel from countries like Libya might be? Well, of course not, that would just be crazy...
Sunday, May 21, 2017
|The Prince of Liechtenstein|
On May 21, 1809 as the French army was getting across the Danube, the Archduke launched his attack. First, at Aspern, the initial Austrian blow was dealt by General Johann von Hiller where he smashed into the French forces of General André Masséna, who he had fought before at Ebelsberg when the Austrians had been forced across the Danube. The fighting then had been savage and it was no less fierce on May 21. The French offered tenacious resistance as the successive waves of three Austrian army corps came smashing down on them, converging on their location. Street by street, house by house, the Austrians inched forward, slowly, painfully but inexorably until it seemed the French might not hold. Concerned that his flank would be turned, Napoleon launched an attack on the Austrian center, aimed at their artillery which was shelling French positions in Aspern. The French heavy cavalry in their shining cuirasses and plumed helmets with horsehair manes, rumbled forward, smashed the Austrians guns and took care to avoid the soldiers in square led by one Prince Friedrich Franz Xavier von Hohenzollern-Hechingen. He was from a different branch of the House of Hohenzollern than that which ruled the Kingdom of Prussia and, in fact, he had fought against the Prussians during his long military career. The French dashed around his infantry but met the Prince of Liechtenstein’s cavalry and though they made a good showing, they failed in their ultimate goal of diverting the Archduke from his plan of attack.
|The French at Aspern-Essling|
As dawn broke and the fighting erupted again on May 22, the confidence of the French Emperor seemed well founded. In Aspern, Masséna launched a counter-attack that stunned the Austrians and swiftly drove them back and out of the village. Simultaneously, Prince Orsini-Rosenberg was attacking Essling, however, Marshal Lannes and his men held on, were reinforced and launched their own counter-attack which, likewise, drove the Austrian forces from the town. However, that good news was followed by worrying news. At Aspern, the Austrian generals Hiller and Heinrich Graf von Bellegarde (a Saxon born officer from a noble family of Savoy) who commanded the Austrian First Corps, counter-attacked and smashed Masséna, driving the French out of town. Napoleon had to do something and he decided, once again, to launch a frontal attack on the Austrian center, this time with much more muscle. He aimed at precisely the point where the Austrian forces of the Prince of Hohenzollern and the Prince of Orsini-Rosenberg came together.
|Austrian grenadiers charge at Essling|
|Archduke Charles of Teschen|
Thursday, May 18, 2017
|Growth of the British Empire|
World War II would change this state of affairs as no monarchy, no matter how briefly or nominally, who had anything to do with the Axis Powers would ultimately survive with the exceptions of Thailand and Japan (though it helped that in the case of Thailand the King was not even present in his country for the war). The fact that the Emperor of Japan maintained his throne was due entirely on the good graces of one General Douglas MacArthur who asserted removing the Emperor would plunge the country he was charged with occupying into unrest and irregular warfare so long as a single Japanese man, woman or child remained a live. Other than the “Land of the Rising Sun”, the war would see off the last Emperor of China, the monarchs of Indochina, Bulgaria, Romania, Yugoslavia, Italy and Albania. The aftermath saw the end of the European colonial empires and this brought about the biggest explosion in the number of republics around the world which brought about the state of affairs we have today.
|Marshal Badoglio enters Addis Abeba|
Britain, by use of sanctions and condemnatory speeches at the League of Nations, gave her moral support to Ethiopia and admonished Italy, taking the side of an African country Britain itself had previously invaded for her barbaric misdeeds, against a fellow western, European country which had been a friend and ally since the time of its formation. In purely liberal terms, there would seem no reason to consider one better than the other. Neither Italy nor Ethiopia were liberal, one was a monarchy ruled by a Fascist dictator, the other was a monarchy in which slavery was legal and widely practiced, something the British had themselves invaded other African countries for in the past. When a French woman challenged Winston Church on condemning Italy for doing nothing that Britain herself had not done, for more often and on a far greater scale, the future Prime Minister replied, “Ah, but you see, all that belongs to the unregenerate past, is locked away in the limbo of the old, the wicked days. The world progresses.” Would this make Churchill the first virtue-signaling progressive? It seems an odd fit for someone who served so proudly for the British Empire in India, the British subjugation of the Sudan and the British conquest of the Boers in South Africa. He never otherwise seem to consider these imperial expeditions “wicked” or “unregenerate”.
|Ethiopia's Roman Emperor|
This is, of course, all leading up to the final question of what the British Empire gained from this altruistic policy? Did they win a lasting ally in Haile Selassie? No, Haile Selassie responded in an odd way on one hand and a rather more understandable but still ultimately futile way on the other. Rather than cheer the cause of the British Empire which had restored him to his pre-war throne, he instead not only cheered but actually fought for the very cause which had failed him; that of collective security embodied in the post-World War II era by the United Nations. As for the British Empire, he showed more racial solidarity than the British had shown toward their fellow Europeans and cheered the process of decolonization that brought down the British Empire (all the while maintaining his own colonial rule over Eritrea which he seized shortly after returning to power). It is, again, entirely understandable that he should choose the side of people most like himself rather than those most different. However, in the end, this meant not only no British Empire but no Ethiopian Empire in Africa either as the anti-colonial movements were seething with Marxism and Haile Selassie was ultimately overthrown by a communist coup. Unfortunately for him, by that time there was no British Empire to put him back again a second time.
|British officers with the Ashanti, 19th Century|
|Prempeh II of the Ashanti|
Next, we will look at two more high-profile examples which have the commonality of both containing sizable British and/or European minority populations; South Africa and Rhodesia. Obviously, in South Africa, there was a history of unfriendly relations between the British and the Boers (White Afrikaners of Dutch and/or mixed European descent). The British took the Cape of Good Hope from the Dutch in the Napoleonic Wars, after which the Boers withdrew into the interior, establishing their own republics which were later conquered by the British in the Boer Wars. However, not long after, around 1909-1910, the British granted considerable autonomy to the Boers and they proved their loyalty and gratitude by fighting for the British in the two world wars, though there were a sizable number who hated the British, always would and always have. However, there had long been some tension between the British and Boers over how each dealt with the native Black population. There had long been a strong republican presence among hard-line Boers but it had not gained real political momentum until after British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan came to Cape Town and spoke of the inevitable end of colonialism and criticized the apartheid (racial segregation) policies of the Afrikaner-dominated government.
|Twilight of the British Crown in South Africa|
In 1960 a referendum was held on whether South Africa would retain the monarchy or become a republic. Those pushing for the republic conveyed the message that the British were abandoning South Africa, along with the rest of the empire, and that the republic was the only way to ensure the solidarity of the White population and their continuation in a majority Black country. Those campaigning for the monarchy mostly focused on the economic benefits of trade ties with the other Commonwealth Realms, the need for British military support against communism and, it should be noted, African racial nationalism. Others, and it is no surprise this was not successful, urged people to vote against the republic but that this did not imply support for the monarchy. Given that the British had already shown more inclination toward the Black majority than the White minority, the campaign to retain the monarchy was at a disadvantage from the outset with their argument. In the end, the republicans won the day, though not by a very wide margin.
|Flag of apartheid era South Africa|
The most prominent of these were the Zulu kings and they have not always had the best of relations with the post-apartheid South African government, dominated by the African National Congress. King Cyprian was in place when the switch to republicanism came and King Goodwill has been in place since 1968. He has been the focus of a great deal of criticism for being out of step with fashionable political trends such as speaking disapprovingly of homosexuality and a little too approvingly of the era of White-rule in South Africa. He also provoked calls for an apology when he spoke in a critical way of Africans from outside South Africa moving into the country in such large numbers. In short, relations between the Zulu kings and the ANC government have been less than absolutely cordial. Once again, British virtue signaling and going along with the popular liberal trends of the day meant the loss of a crown for the British Queen, no restoration for the natives and a situation that is worse for everyone.
|First Rhodesian parliament|
|Stamp showing post-UDI Rhodesia was still loyal|
Ultimately, after holding out for decades, Rhodesia was finally forced to surrender. With the fall of the Portuguese empire after the Carnation Revolution and the weakening of the Boer regime in South Africa, Rhodesia was completely isolated and could not survive. Finally, in 1979 the first steps were taken toward Black majority rule and in quick order Rhodesia was destroyed and in 1980 the country became the Republic of Zimbabwe led by the Marxist dictator Robert Mugabe (still in power to this day) and the opening of a reign of terror against the White population. The British, who never recognized Rhodesia, did recognize the Republic of Zimbabwe and even allowed Zimbabwe to join the Commonwealth as a republic the same year though Mugabe eventually took the country out in 2003. It is the second most impoverished country in Africa today, which is a far cry from the prosperous colony that had such surpluses that it exported food which leads to an important point.
|Still protesting Cecil Rhodes. It's not going away.|
|Britain leaves Africa, Africans move to Britain...and|
then protest against the British in Britain.
The short answer is that it has not. It has not even benefited the Africans as liberal opinion assumed that it would. All it has done is to increase the number of republics and grow the ranks of those bigoted against the British and Anglo-Saxon civilization. Yet, it does not yet seem that the lesson has been learned though there are signs that people are starting to come around. Hopefully, for the sake of the monarchy and a thousand years of British tradition, they will not adopt the Boer attitude when they do. Personally, I have come to my limit on the subject. Warm feelings of doing 'the right thing' is no substitute for victory and just because you think you are doing good for those who hate you, doesn't mean you really are. No one should abide those who are willing to let their own civilization fall in exchange for a feeling of moral superiority.
Tuesday, May 16, 2017
|Prussian advance at Kunersdorf|
In one telling scene early on, Prince Heinrich criticizes his brother Frederick to his face, saying that under his rule, their enemies have increased every year to the point that Prussia was opposed by all of Europe. This, of course, was mostly true as historically, at this point, Prussia was opposed by almost everyone with the British as their only major ally. In a fury, the King also says that he had intended for the first regiment that fled to be sacrificed, basically that he ordered them to attack an Austrian position he knew they could not take but that as they would be shot down, others could shelter behind their corpses and prevent any counter-attack until the artillery arrived to open a breach in the Austrian lines. After soberly listening to a tirade against him by Luise Treskow, whose family mill was destroyed in the battle (she thinking the King was just an elderly major), we see in this scene that the King, while mindful of the suffering of ordinary people, was fully prepared to order men to certain death in order to win the larger victory. However, at Kunersdorf, it did not work because the regiment in question had fled.
|Graf von Laudon, the Austrian commander|
Frederick is, however, ill and rages against his brother when he suggests making peace and an alliance with France. The King tells him that the French are not to be trusted and want to keep Germany as a collection of small, powerless states that can all be easily dominated, as it was, he says, after the Thirty Years War. That issue is put aside in favor of the next battle, the Battle of Torgau, which is a great victory over the Austrians of Daun. The Bernburg Regiment is restored to favor, however, the coordinated attack was carried out by bugle calls and when the adjutant who was supposed to order the attack on the front where the Bernburg Regiment was stationed was killed, Sergeant Treskow (recently married to Luise), sees the enemy approaching and blows the bugle himself. King Frederick is outraged when he learns that a lowly sergeant ordered the attack, though one might wonder why an attitude of “all’s well that ends well” was not in order. Well, believe it or not, this is. The King says that if the end result had not been a victory, he would have had the sergeant shot immediately. Instead, he orders him spread eagle to a wagon wheel for three days as punishment. Obviously, this does not endear him to Luise Treskow who had been fuming against the King since her family mill was destroyed.
|"Old Fritz" and his generals|
However, Frederick figured out what the Russians were up to, takes General Chernyshov prisoner and orders that, while he doesn’t expect the Russians to fight alongside him, they will still march to their assigned position so that the Austrians under Daun will have to divide to meet them. This culminates in the Battle of “Schweidnitz 1762” (if you can find that one) where we see Prussians advance, artillery bow up a tower and Sergeant Treskow is killed as he did not desert after all. A victory parade is held in Berlin but the King does not attend. The non-religious man checks on the widow Treskow and then goes to a large cathedral, not to pray, but to cry some manly tears before a brief song of tribute sings us out and the film ends.
Frederick the Great, while a Prussian nationalist of a sort, was not as xenophobic as this films seems to me to imply that he was. This was a monarch who usually spoke French rather than German, had an army made up of men from many different countries and who took in a number of foreign exiles, a notable example being the Jesuits who he said he would sell back to the Catholic countries when they regained their senses. It is all the more strange considering that, while this film is set during the reign of the Austrian Empress Maria Theresa, her successor, Emperor Joseph II, would seem to have been more of a German nationalist than Frederick was, going so far as to try to impose German as the primary language of all Habsburg lands (which did not go over well as one can imagine). However, while it seems to show an anti-Habsburg bias that was more in line with Hitler than Frederick (who often expressed his admiration for his Habsburg opponents, particularly Joseph II) it is, overall, a well made, well acted and entertaining film. Perhaps knowing when it was made distorts my view as it does others, it simply seems at such times to be casting the views of Hitler on to the person of Frederick. And Hitler, after all, while admiring Frederick the Great immensely, was certainly no traditionalist, no monarchist and no friend of the ‘old order’ but was, in fact, quite an egalitarian other than in the area of race. It may also be noteworthy, given Hitler's opinion of the Jews, that neither King Frederick nor Empress Maria Theresa were particularly fond of them and not a few would likely say Frederick was more tolerant of them than the Habsburg Empress was. However, Hitler's opposition to the Habsburgs was clearly irrational and no facts would have changed it.