Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Heyday of Hungary

It is well known that the Hungarian republic of today is greatly diminished from the kingdom it once was. After the disastrous First World War, the Kingdom of Hungary lost 71% of its territory and 63% of its population. Yet, even that Kingdom of Hungary, which was in union with the Austrian Empire, would have seemed rather small compared to what the Kingdom of Hungary had been in the XIV Century. Though, as with the period when the House of Hapsburg served as the Royal Family of Hungary, at the time the Kingdom of Hungary reached its peak in terms of size and power was also under a foreign Royal Family, the cadet Anjou branch of the French Royal House of Capet. From 1308 to 1395, four members of this French dynasty ruled over the Kingdom of Hungary and under their reign, the Hungarian nation was more powerful than it had ever been before or would be again to date.

Of course, this was not all the work of the Anjou royals themselves as they were building on the foundations already established by the native House of Arpad (though a number of those kings were not ethnic Hungarians either) but after that line had extinguished, Hungary had a Czech monarch, a German monarch and finally a French monarch with the establishment of Charles Robert of Anjou as King Charles I of Hungary in 1308. He was the son of the Prince of Salerno and his Hapsburg wife and the grandson of the King of Naples where the House of Anjou had previously been established. That grandfather, King Charles II of Naples, was married to Queen Mary of Hungary who claimed the Hungarian throne but later passed it to her son Charles Robert who was later elected King of Hungary in Pest (before Buda and Pest were united) in opposition to the previously mentioned Czech and later Bavarian Kings of Hungary.

King Charles I had the support of Pope Boniface VIII and fought many hard battles to win control of Hungary. One critical victory in Slovakia went a long way to establishing his rule and eventually he was able to gain control of most of the country though Croatia remained autonomous and Wallachia was moving in that direction. It may not have seemed the most auspicious of starts yet, King Charles I was a pivotal figure in Hungarian history as it was during his reign that large gold deposits were discovered in the country and quickly exploited, making the Kingdom of Hungary extremely rich, extremely quickly. Hungary, in fact, became the largest gold producer in all of Europe which made the country very important and certainly helped King Charles I, an absolute monarch who ruled absolutely but also a shrewd man who knew how to ensure loyalty in his officials and who, on one important occasion, acted as a sort of peacemaker between Poland and Bohemia. Most importantly though, the wealth and absolutist monarchy he built up would be wielded to best effect by his son and successor King Louis I, known in Hungarian history as King Louis the Great.

King Louis the Great
Louis the Great represented the zenith of Hungarian power and prestige. He started his reign with a crusade against the Lithuanians (at the time still pagans) and for anyone not sufficiently impressed by that, be aware that Lithuania was a major power in those days, a huge country that stretched across much of Eastern Europe. King Louis restored royal power in Croatia and also made successful war against the Tatars. He fought wars almost constantly and, fortunately for Hungary, was a very successful warrior-king. He took on the Golden Horde and won, invaded southern Italy, holding it for a time but ultimately giving up on it, gained Dalmatia from the Republic of Venice, won victories over the Serbs and forced rulers in Bosnia, Wallachia, Moldavia and parts of Bulgaria to recognize him as their overlord.

As his very pious mother had been a Polish princess, when the King of Poland died, rather than follow the will of the late king and see the country divided, the Polish nobility decided on a personal union with Hungary. As such, in 1370 King Louis the Great of Hungary became King of Poland as well. This represented the peak in terms of the amount of territory that the Hungarian monarch ruled as the country under King Louis the Great was known as the kingdom, “whose shores were washed by three seas” referring to the Baltic Sea in the north, the Adriatic Sea to the southwest and the Black Sea to the east. Louis the Great was not popular with everyone of course, his hired soldiers made many enemies in southern Italy by their brutality and his zealous efforts to convert pagans and Orthodox Christians to Catholicism were resented by many of his subjects but what is hardly disputable is that under his rule the Kingdom of Hungary had become the largest, most powerful and dominant power in Eastern Europe. In his time, pretty much everything east of Germany belonged to or at least answered to Hungary and there was not much beyond that as, at this time, most of Russia was still ruled by Asians.

Hungarian lands (red) and vassal lands (pink)
The legacy of King Louis the Great would cast a long shadow, in the realm of religion as well as politics as he was the father of the famous Queen St Hedwig of Poland (who would forge the union of Poland and Lithuania). When Louis died, the Polish throne went to St Hedwig while the Hungarian and Croatian thrones went to his daughter by Elizabeth of Bosnia, Queen Mary. However, many of the Hungarian nobility were not fond of the idea of having a woman in charge and Queen Mary faced numerous challenges and a rival for the throne in King Charles III of Naples (her cousin) who claimed the Crown as King Charles II of Hungary. The Queen Mother had hoped for a marriage alliance with the King of France but Sigismund of Luxembourg (the House of Luxembourg being extremely powerful in those days) invaded Slovakia and forced Queen Mary to marry him instead. She was deposed, restored, with the Neapolitan King Charles II ruling in the interim but after her marriage to Sigismund, she effectively lost power as he took control of the government and she died in 1385.

That was effectively the end of the Angevin era in Hungary with Sigismund of Luxembourg becoming the real ruler of the country and disaster soon followed with the Ottoman Turks launching a renewed wave of crushing offensives into central Europe. The Hungarians were devastated, vassal states were conquered and the Turkish onslaught was overwhelming. This ultimately resulted in the alliance that brought the Hapsburgs of Austria to the Hungarian throne. However, though the Turks first entered Hungary under Sigismund, the Hungarians fought back fiercely and in time, thanks to the victories of such national heroes as John Hunyadi and Matthias Corvinus, the Turks were expelled and the border of Hungary was stabilized and secure. The Italian Renaissance reached Hungary, bringing about a flowering of cultural achievements and, in time, with the union with Austria, the Turks began to be pushed back and old lands regained.

Nonetheless, the Kingdom of Hungary was never quite so large and powerful as it had been during the reign of King Louis the Great, dominating eastern Europe, made possible it should be remembered, by the great wealth, prosperity and unity established by King Charles I. It would, of course, have been preferable if everyone could have remained united after the death of King Louis, whether it was under an Anjou like Queen Mary, King Charles II or under Sigismund and the House of Luxembourg as, whichever one would have been preferable, it would have made Hungary stronger in the face of the Ottoman hordes invading from the south. There are also a number of lessons which this period of history can teach us about the events in and around the Hungarian nation today. The memory of the Kingdom of Hungary, in total, though we have focused here on the Angevin period, should never be forgotten. Hungarians, hopefully, have not but others should remember as well as it will provide a better understanding of Hungary today.

Looking back on this period, we can see what great things the Hungarian nation is capable of. Anyone who looks at this history can see that the Hungarian republic that exists today is a far cry from what Hungary has been and could be. Of course, a great deal has changed since those days. However, looking back at this era of national greatness, it should be clear why the Hungarians still possess a level of national pride that the elites in the European Union cannot comprehend. We can also see why, given that this period ended with a Muslim invasion, why today the Hungarians have been less willing than others to play the doormat to an influx of largely Muslim people from the Middle East. If you know what happened then, you can understand what is happening now and why many Hungarians do not view things the same way as the bureaucrats in Brussels. The people of Hungary have much to be proud of and have learned some hard lessons in their long and colorful history. Hopefully, the understanding of this will only increase until this spirit is revived in sufficient strength to see the republic abolished, the Kingdom of Hungary restored and thus have a more vital link to that past Hungarian heyday when Hungary had a king and was among the most wealthy and powerful in the western world.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Monarch Profile: King George I of Great Britain & Ireland

His Highness Georg Ludwig, Duke of Brunswick-Lueneburg was born on May 28, 1660, the eldest son of Ernest Augustus, Elector of Hanover and his wife Sophia of the Palatinate. The first son born to the Hanoverian ruling family in some time, he was mostly raised alongside his younger brother and was known as a very serious little boy, responsible and who established himself early on as the leader of his younger siblings. He gained many lofty titles in quick succession as his childless uncles passed away but the grandest title he stood to came originated some distance from his flat, beloved lands of meandering rivers in northern Germany. His mother, known as Sophie of Hanover, was the daughter of Elizabeth of Bohemia, who was the daughter of King James I of England. As they were Protestants, in 1701 the English Parliament passed a new Act of Succession which stated that, “the most excellent Princess Sophia, Electress and Dowager Duchess of Hanover, daughter of Elizabeth, late Queen of Bohemia, daughter of James I, shall be next in succession to the Crown” after the Stuart Queen Anne.

For the young George, however, that seemed a remote a distant possibility. He was raised entirely with the intention of being Elector of Hanover and no more. His father feared his son would have to fight to keep his inheritance and stressed his military education, taking his teenage son on campaign with him during the Franco-Dutch War in which the German empire backed the Dutch republic against King Louis XIV of France. In 1682 he married his first cousin (another effort to secure the family fortune) Sophia Dorothea of Celle and the following year George and his brother Frederick Augustus fought with the Austrians against the Turks at the Battle of Vienna while his wife gave birth to a son and heir, George Augustus, whom his father would thoroughly despise. Family feuding meant that George spent a great deal of time fighting for and trying to gain favor with the Hapsburg Emperor and powerful figures in Germany as they tried to unite the Hanoverian lands into a single state under his control. In 1692 his father was formally made an Elector of the Holy Roman (German) Empire and this went a long way to securing the position of George due to the previous passage of primogeniture.

After the birth of another child, a daughter, the family life of George fell apart, if it had ever been real in the first place. George took a succession of mistresses but when his wife did the same with a Swedish aristocrat, the man was eventually murdered and George himself did not escape suspicion. Their marriage was dissolved and George had his wife placed under house arrest and was not allowed to see her children, which certainly could not have helped the father-son relationship between George and George Augustus which would become extremely bad. However, in 1698 George’s father passed away and he became the ruler of Hanover and a Prince-Elector of the Empire. He made his court quite an attraction with a palace described as a smaller-scale Versailles and which was frequented by numerous prestigious intellectuals and artistic figures. The security of Hanover was, undoubtedly, George’s top priority but in 1710 he did send an agent to London, Baron von Bothmar, to represent his interests in the matter of the British succession. The idea that he would actually become King of England and Scotland was not really secured until the death of Queen Anne and the work of her minister the Duke of Shrewsbury to put the Act of Settlement into effect.

Contrary to what some still think, the Elector of Hanover was not anxious to take the British throne. Hanover was his home, his first concern and the land he loved most. He delayed going to England and took his time getting there, knowing that, while being King of England was certainly more prestigious than being Elector of Hanover, it would also be a much more complicated undertaking. In Hanover, he was effectively an absolute monarch, military matters were left entirely at his discretion and any expenditure over 12 pounds required his consent. The people were loyal and accepted that government was for the Elector and not their concern. In Britain, on the other hand, there was an entrenched political class, contentious religious divisions, animosity between England, Scotland and Ireland as well as a considerable number of people still loyal to the House of Stuart. Scotland, the English country gentry and many in the Church of England were not pleased at all to see George arrive on English shores, his largest base of support basically being the political class that wanted and needed his favor to maintain themselves. He could hardly speak English at all and caused some reaction when he landed and announced to the assembled people that he had, “come for your goods, I have come for all your goods”.

Becoming King of England and Scotland in August of 1714 (his mother had died earlier in the year), King George I wanted to make it clear from the outset that he asserted his right to the throne on the basis of heredity rather than an act of Parliament, as a way to show that he did not owe his Crown to politicians and to assert that he was not a usurper to the Jacobite supporters of the Stuarts. In truth though, he was only king because of an act of Parliament and if the Stuart heir had, as he was advised, abandoned Catholicism and become an Anglican, there was no doubt that he would have been able to take the throne and would have been head of a much more robust monarchy than George I was handed. However, Britain accepted King George I quietly, without much enthusiasm but also without much serious opposition beyond bitter words and ridicule at his rather scandalous private life. European politics, as well as religion, helped King George I in his cause. As well as being Catholic, the Stuarts were very closely allied with the French whereas King George, as Elector of Hanover, had opposed the French, allied with Britain and others, as commander of the (German) Imperial army on the Rhine during the recent War of Spanish Succession. The Dutch and other European Protestants were united in support of a Protestant monarch in Britain but many Catholics were supportive as well, even if not overtly, due to Austrian and Papal opposition to the power of France.

The first beneficiary of King George I was the Whig party. The Tories had tried to get the Stuarts to embrace Protestantism and thus ensure their own succession, so they were out of favor while the Whigs who rallied to him, along with his trusted German officials, were rewarded with high office. The King also baffled many of his new subjects by his behavior, which was unlike anything they had seen before. He disliked crowds and preferred meals in his private apartments to large state dinners. He lived in only two rooms of the palace and while royal mistresses were nothing new, George’s were known for being absurdly ugly which greatly amused the public. King Charles II had, at least, shown better taste in many mistresses. Most singled out were two German mistresses (they were invariably German), one of whom was extremely thin and the other extremely fat. He distrusted strangers, clever women and had little time for poets or painters though he was a great patron of music.

As King, his first challenge was the Jacobite uprising of 1715. Started by the Earl of Mar who proclaimed the Stuart heir King James VIII of Scotland and III of England and with propaganda support from the exiled Tory leader Henry St John in France, the rebellion had considerable support. Most of Scotland outside Edinburgh favored the Jacobites and there were demonstrations of support in many towns across England. Supporters of King George I described him as calm and solid during this crisis but the truth may well have been that losing the British throne would have made his life easier, allowing him to return permanently to his beloved Hanover. Fortunately for King George, the Jacobite uprising was very poorly coordinated and was soon squashed without undue difficulty. By the time the Stuart heir arrived on British soil, his cause was already effectively lost and a great many aristocrats were put to death in the aftermath, a fact which caused some lack of support for George I in the upper echelons of British society. Tory support for the Stuarts also ensured that the Whig party could enjoy an uncontested hold on power. It also helped that the King spoke English so poorly that he rarely attended council meetings and mostly let them do as they pleased, though he could be counted on to intervene when it concerned Hanover.

Although obliged to spend most of his time in England, the government was considerate enough, or willing enough to be rid of him, that they repealed the law requiring Parliamentary consent for the King to leave the country so that George I was able to take length leaves of absence in Hanover in 1716, 1719, 1720, 1723 and 1725. His son presided over a regency council while he was away and given that the King and his son thoroughly hated each other, government opposition tended to gather around the Prince. Since it often involved Hanover, King George I did take an active interest in foreign affairs and played a leading part in gathering an alliance of the British, Germans, French and Dutch against the Spanish who, in 1719, invaded Scotland and tried to spark their own Jacobite rebellion. However, only a few hundred Spanish troops managed to land successfully and they, along with barely a thousand Jacobites, were easily crushed. The King also saw to it that Hanover benefited by gaining territory at the expense of Sweden in the resolution of the “Great Northern War”, a Russian-backed war to destroy the dominance of the Kingdom of Sweden in northern and eastern Europe.

The last major crisis King George I presided over was the collapse of the so-called “South Sea Bubble”. What happened was that the government-backed South Sea Company was given a monopoly on trade with South America in exchange for buying the British national debt from the government. Despite having no real assets, speculators bid up the price of shares in the company higher and higher so that dozens of “bubble companies” sprang up. When the government passed a law to squash these companies, it sparked the bursting of the South Sea Bubble, causing a stock market crash, forcing the resignation of many government officials and severely undermining faith in the government. The King and his ministers were never more unpopular than after their bungled attempts at controlling the economy had cost so many so much. The public did not know that King George I had hardly been the cause of it all and evidence shows that he lost money in the affair as well. It was not a good situation though for King George’s first minister, Robert Walpole, generally regarded as the first British Prime Minister as people today would recognize it. He was better recognized by sticking to simpler forms of patronage, such as in convincing King George I to revive the Order of the Bath as a way to reward political supporters.

King George I died in Germany on June 11, 1727 which did not provoke a great deal of sorrow in the British Isles. All in all, about the best that can be said for George I, as King of England, is that he was not terrible. He was a very effective Elector of Hanover but as for the British Isles, the best that can be said is that the three kingdoms did not descend into chaos or poverty during his reign. He did have his good qualities. He was a good military leader, courageous on the battlefield, thrifty in economic matters and was fairly astute in political matters. His shyness led to some unfair criticism and he was not an unintelligent man, however he was far from a good man either. His treatment of his family was deplorable, he frankly did not care all that much about Britain and was from start to finish a German more concerned with events in Germany than in the British Isles. Brought to the throne by an act of Parliament rather than by birth, the political class became more entrenched under his reign as he was fairly disinterested in events that did not impact Hanover. The changes put in place in 1688 were not really fully felt until the reign of King George I when the King’s first minister first began to rise in prominence as being the real “leader” of the country, a trend which would (with one interruption named George III) continue and become more pronounced over time.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Fascism, fascism and Monarchy

The term “fascist” has been so-overused in modern political discourse that it has become something of a joke, an epithet that is hurled at an enemy rather than a serious accusation. Everyone has probably heard the quip that the modern definition of “fascist” is someone who is winning an argument with a liberal. Few really know what it means, it is simply another way of calling someone evil. The political left is mostly responsible for this, calling anyone who is not a communist a “fascist” but right-of-center liberals have also taken to it, conceding to the left that “fascism” is simply another word for absolute evil and instead arguing that the leftists are the “real” fascists. Referring to radical, Islamic terrorists as “Islamo-fascists” or Jonah Goldberg’s book, “Liberal Fascism” being but two examples of this. Add to this the fact that a standard fascist economic model, corporatism, has been appropriated and re-defined as synonymous with plutocracy and it is no wonder that there is a huge amount of ignorance and confusion on the subject of fascism. So, what is actual fascism and what sort of record does it have regarding traditional authority? First, we must define our terms.

A distinction, first of all, must be made between “Fascism” and “fascism”. There has only ever been one Fascist regime in history and that was the regime of Benito Mussolini, the inventor of Fascism, in Italy; first the National Fascist Party in the Kingdom of Italy and briefly the Republican Fascist Party in the Italian Social Republic in that part of northern Italy Mussolini was allowed to control. Defining Fascism has never been very easy. One can, as I did back in my university days, buy copies of ‘The Communist Manifesto’ by Karl Marx and ‘The Doctrine of Fascism’ by Benito Mussolini and read both (they are very small books). You will likely come away with a very firm understanding of what communism is all about, where they want to go and how they want to get there, how they see the world. On the other hand, you will likely come away with a sort of understanding or sense of what Fascism is about, the spirit that drives it but nothing very concrete. That is because, as Mussolini himself often said, Fascism was more style than substance. It was about “unity” and “action” rather than any specific set of bullet points or a party program. Mussolini famously said once that the Fascists only program was, “to smash the heads of the socialists”.

Critics have long said this was because Mussolini was simply inconsistent, shallow and needed an excuse. Mussolini himself, however, called it being flexible and pragmatic. He often said that action was more important than political dogma, that what works today may fail tomorrow and what failed today may work tomorrow. Fascism rejected the notion that there was some specific political formula that would solve all problems but insisted rather that circumstances change and the State must be able to adapt. In other words, do not make specific promises but lay out a broad vision and do what it takes to get there. Try something and, if it doesn’t work, discard it and try something else until you find what works best and then do more of that. Strength in unity, symbolized by the fasces, was the most important principle but other than that, the most important thing was action, to do rather than to talk, to act rather than to argue, forget the legalism and do what must be done and be limited only in the regard of doing what is proven to work. “The machine, first of all, must run!” as Mussolini once said.

Beyond pragmatism, Mussolini tended to refer to Fascism in almost religious terms, as a spiritual movement as well as a political one, it was about regaining a sense of national pride, cultural preservation and glorification as well as bringing about a unity that included Church and State as well. This came into being with the signing of the Lateran Treaty which resulted in the Holy See, finally, recognizing and endorsing the Kingdom of Italy and Italy becoming an officially Catholic country (in law as well as in practice). This was huge news at the time, a true historical event and Mussolini was hailed as “the man who gave God back to Italy and Italy back to God”. As for the monarchy, Mussolini himself, in socialist days, was adamantly against it, was initially against it after inventing Fascism but later backed the monarchy and urged his supporters to do the same. The “diarchy” of King and Duce prevailed during most of the Fascist Era with Mussolini being supportive of the monarchy in public but often derisive in private. Of course, when the King dismissed him from office in 1943, he reverted back to zealous opposition to the monarchy, which is not surprising.

Looking, more broadly, beyond “Fascism” which is, strictly speaking, limited to Italy, to “fascism” as in those regimes most often identified as fascist, we can see some common themes and some of these explain why Mussolini the Fascist had very different views on church and crown than Mussolini the socialist. Regimes labeled as fascist tend to be very nationalist and that by itself means that they are not all going to be the same but will draw on the unique histories and cultures of the peoples involved. They tend to emphasize ‘fraternity’ but not ‘equality’ and tend to favor traditional values. Unity is almost always paramount and fascists reject democracy, liberalism and any form of civil rights that could be damaging to national cohesion. Religion tends to be respected, though of course, that is usually contingent on it not being a source of division (or, in other words, dissent).

Organization, regimentation and discipline are greatly emphasized by fascist regimes and often an emphasis on the “greater good” of the nationality. The fascist goal of unity also carried over into the economic sphere where the means of production remains largely in private hands but with restrictions in place with the aim of ensuring unity between ownership and labor and the good of the nation. Regimes of this sort tend to organize their economies around industries, forcing workers and owners to unite behind industrial codes, in ways which vary slightly and have different names depending on the country in question, from corporations, national syndicates, vertical trade unions and do on. The broad idea was ending the owner/worker divide, keeping the economy largely private but subject to state regulation in the name of the national interest as well as economic independency and, initially at least, a total rejection of international finance and general dislike of borrowing and lending.

Usually, any description of fascist regimes will include a general tendency to launch wars of aggression and trying to take over the world. It sounds exciting, but it is not true as the number of fascist regimes that ever actually launched a major invasion of another country is actually quite small. Regimes considered fascist in countries such as Austria, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Latvia, Argentina, Brazil and so on never attacked anyone beyond their borders. In this case, as with many, Germany tends to taint the pool as it does with the issue of racism. For most fascist countries, race was not a primary concern, with many not considering it terribly important in their case or only to the extent that they put their own people first and did not make it a matter of policy to scapegoat some other race or nationality.

The NSB in the Netherlands, for example, never made much of an issue of race as they worked hard to enlist support for the Dutch empire which primarily meant the Dutch East Indies where a considerable number of mixed race people lived who supported the empire. Most fascist regimes in Europe had little to no racial minorities other than the Jews and, again, in some instances opposition to the Jews was a central issue of these regimes but in other instances it was not. Even where it was, outside of Germany, this practically never rose to the level of involving claims of racial superiority or inferiority but was, rather, based on the issue of nationalism and national unity. The Jews were considered suspect because they were, for so long and so adamantly, set apart, a “nation within a nation”. This fostered anti-Semitic feelings even while it is no doubt the primary reason why the Jews were able to survive as a distinct people for so long without a homeland of their own.

Additionally, there was also the political aspect. For nationalist regimes, there was no greater ideological enemy than the internationalists of the communist countries. It is an unfortunate fact of history that many people associated Jews with communism for the simple reason that Jews were disproportionately represented in the communist takeover of Russia and in many other countries Jews stood out in the leadership of communist movements such as Bela Kun in Hungary, Rosa Luxembourg and the Frankfurt School in Germany, Ludovic-Oscar Frossard in France, Jacques de Kadt in the Netherlands, Ruth Fischer in Austria or were involved in high-profile acts of communist subversion such as Max Goldstein in Romania, and so on and so forth. Of course, none of this means that all Jews are communists but the fact that many communists were Jews can certainly help explain the rise of anti-Semitism in the wake of the spread of communism after the First World War. Given how small a percentage of the population they represented, it would simply not be reasonable to expect the level of Jewish involvement in the post-war communist movement to go unnoticed or to fail to produce some level of backlash.

Taking action against Jews as part of some wider political movement, is, of course, far different from outright persecution of all Jews simply for being Jews. In Italy, the Fascist Party included quite a few Jewish members before the alliance with Germany and the discovery of Jewish involvement in an anti-Fascist dissident group changed Mussolini’s policy in their regard. In Spain, Generalissimo Franco often denounced the “Judaeo-Masonic conspiracy” but, during World War II, allowed Jews to flee to safety through Spain provided they “left no trace” and it was his regime which repealed the Alhambra Decree which had originally expelled the Jews from Spanish soil back in the days of the Catholic Monarchs. The fascist regime of Salazar in Portugal went so far as to denounce the Nuremberg Laws in Germany and allowed no such discrimination or repression in his own country, provided of course the Jews in question were not involved in some criminal activity or dissident organization. Today, antagonism between Jews and neo-Nazi types in particular remains strong, mostly due to, frankly, the rank hypocrisy of many in both camps that want a nation-state for their own people but oppose the same for the other.

The specifically racial animus against the Jews was almost entirely confined to the National Socialist regime in Germany, which stands apart from most other fascist regimes in that regard, as well as in their incoherent attitude toward Christianity, at times accepting it and at other times denouncing it (the denunciations more often being done away from public view). Their subtle and not-so-subtle at times pushing of pre-Christian paganism was fairly unique from other fascist regimes which, seeking to restore some past period of national greatness, could not fail to notice that their height of power invariably coincided with the triumph of Christianity. This was not the case in Italy, yet even someone from so anti-clerical a background as Mussolini was forced to admit that Italy and Catholicism were inseparable and national unity required an accord with the Church of Rome. Romania’s fascist Iron Guard or Legion of the Archangel Michael was zealously Christian, requiring members to be willing to die for Christ and the German attitude seems rather odd when one considers that the height of German power came in the Christian era, whereas the pagan Germans had been primitive, disunited and frequently beaten. The Germanic barbarians that did ultimately overrun much of the Roman Empire, it is worth pointing out, had previously become Christian. I confess, I’ve often smirked at the thought of some strutting SS officer in the latest Hugo Boss fashion standing before a grizzled Teutonic Knight, explaining to him how Christianity is a source of weakness and how his pagan, cave-dwelling enemies are the real example to follow.

National Socialist Germany also stands apart in its consistently anti-monarchy attitude, though, again, for the sake of national unity this was mostly kept quiet until after they had achieved power. For Hitler, the multicultural, multinational Hapsburg realm was always anathema and he could never forgive the German Kaiser for having lost the war. For most other fascist regimes, this was not the case, though the events of the war and earlier the eclipse of the original Fascist regime in Italy by the Nazis in Germany sometimes caused a change in attitude. In Austria, the “Austrofascists” of Engelbert Dollfuss repealed the anti-Hapsburg laws and restored their property to them but went no farther. After his assassination by the Nazis, Dollfuss’ successor Kurt von Schuschnigg agreed to restore the Hapsburgs to the throne and had the support of Mussolini in Italy. However, that plan was thwarted due to world outrage at the Italian invasion of Ethiopia after which Mussolini allied with Hitler and dropped his support for the independent Austria. Across the Adriatic in Greece, the “August Fourth Regime” is often labeled as fascist and it was led by General Ioannis Metaxas who was a staunch royalist (his support for King Constantine I in staying out of World War I and his refusal to support the Allies brought down the Greek government of Venizelos).

In Romania, there were effectively two fascist movements, one led by King Carol II and the other, more well known, Iron Guard led by Corneliu Zelea Codreanu. Despite being at odds with the king, it is noteworthy that Codreanu was nevertheless unstinting in his praise of the principle of monarchy and his support for the institution. In Yugoslavia the most ambitious fascist movement was the Ustase which certainly opposed the Serbian monarchy but for which monarchy was never much of an issue, even when they briefly became a nominal one during the war years. Ethnic nationalism and Catholicism were always their top priorities. In Bulgaria, after a coup by a military faction that wanted to unite with Yugoslavia, King Boris III retook power for himself for most of the remaining years leading up to World War II, a period where royals dominating government seemed to be on the rise in the Balkans alongside such examples as King Carol II in Romania and King Alexander I of Yugoslavia (prior to his murder in 1934, leader of the “January Sixth Dictatorship”).

Belgium had both pro- and anti-monarchy fascist type movements, neither of which ever gained power on their own. The Walloon dominated Rexist movement pushed for a Catholic renewal, a corporatist society and Belgian nationalism whereas the Flemish National Union pushed for the abolition of Belgium (doing away with the monarchy in the process of course) in order to join Flanders with the Netherlands. The Rexists also had the benefit of being most influenced by other fascist movements favorable or at least not hostile to monarchy from Italy, France and Spain. This changed during the war when the Rexist leader Leon Degrelle joined with the Germans and adopted a new pan-European worldview in which the continent would basically be a German-dominated mega-state. The NSB in the Netherlands, originally did not make an issue of the monarchy, was originally open to Jewish members and was not racist. Priorities for the NSB were corporatism, ending democracy and enlarging the country and the colonial empire. However, as Nazi Germany rose in power, becoming more fashionable than Fascist Italy, the NSB became more anti-Semitic and, during the war, became very anti-monarchy as they openly collaborated with the Germans in opposition to the royal government-in-exile led by Queen Wilhelmina. They were ultimately undercut by their own patron as the Germans never handed over Flanders to them and were allied with the Japanese who conquered the Dutch East Indies (which they fully intended to keep).

A similar shift was seen in Great Britain where the original fascist movement, led by a woman and including many former suffragettes, was very conservative and very monarchist. “For King and Country” was their motto but they were later superseded by the British Union of Fascists, led by Sir Oswald Mosley who came from a very leftist political background. The BUF was originally most influenced by Fascist Italy but later became more influenced by Nazi Germany, which coincided with a more anti-Semitic attitude (something Mosley later said was a mistake). The BUF wanted to curtail democracy, enact protectionism for the empire, and have a corporatist system, replacing the House of Lords with a Chamber of Corporations. However, they were never anti-monarchy, while certainly never advocating for the restoration of royal powers (which the original British fascists had) but which regarded the monarchy, in its current form, as useful, speaking of it as having its rough edges rounded out by time and the course of history. Other, more minor, more extreme and more explicitly pro-Nazi groups were more radical but never gained anything like the even modest following of the BUF.

Across the Channel in France, a rather unique situation existed in which the most prominent fascist-type organization was overtly royalist, in a country where that would seem least likely and of a type that really went contrary to what one would expect. The group in question was Action Francaise (French Action) and, although less so today, was once regarded as the first proto-fascist party. In any event, it certainly had a great deal of influence on other fascist movements and so is well worth considering. It came to particular prominence in association with Charles Maurras, who was neither the founder nor the leader of the movement but its most adept intellectual spokesman. French Action favored nationalism, Catholicism, monarchy and integralism (a wider view of society of which corporatism was a part) and regarded as suspect such elements as Masons, Jews, Protestants and of course Marxists and radical leftists. It favored restoring the French monarchy though not restoring the King to actual power and favored the Orleanist claim to the French throne, not surprising given that it was the more ‘French’ of the competing factions.

What is odd about French Action is that it favored social and economic positions that were most in line with the legitimist royalists who despised everything in France that was post-Revolution. However the legitimists wished to see the King restored to absolute power whereas French Action did not, yet the Orleanist branch of the Royal Family had traditionally favored liberal economics (capitalism, free markets, etc) which French Action opposed. They were also adamantly opposed to Freemasonry which was, again, more in line with the legitimist than the Orleanist faction and yet they also took a more utilitarian view of religion which was more Orleanist than legitimist. One would think that these many contradictions would be a recipe for disaster or, for that matter, that no nationalist movement in France would wish to go near the issue of the monarchy since, sadly, in France and Spain alike the monarchy had become more a source of division and disunity with factions so adamantly opposed to each other, they would rather the monarchy die than see it live with a monarch from the other camp. Yet, in spite of all this, French Action became increasingly popular, though it must be said that as it did so the emphasis on restoring the monarchy became noticeably weaker.

It seemed that French Action stood a good chance of being politically successful until they were cut down in 1927 by Pope Pius XI in a move that is still seen today as rather inexplicable. The magazine of the movement was the first ever to be placed on the “Index of Forbidden Works” by the Catholic Church and later that year members were forbidden from receiving the sacraments, something which largely gutted the movement as the vast majority of members were practicing Catholics. Why would the Church do this to a movement which called for restoring the monarchy and restoring Catholicism as the official state religion, which condemned freemasonry and Protestantism? All possible explanations seem unsatisfactory.

Some have attributed it to Catholic opposition to nationalism in principle, mostly due to the papal opposition to Italian nationalism, yet, Pope Pius XI himself would, only a few years later, sign the Lateran pacts with Mussolini, belatedly giving its blessing to Italian nationalism that made Catholicism the state religion in Italy. Others have said it was because French Action was Orleanist and the Church would not undercut the legitimists, yet, as has been shown, French Action stood for many of the things that the legitimists, and not the Orleanists, had stood for and the Church had never seemed to be that partisan in the dynastic disputes of France. Today, particularly liberal Catholics have explained it as righteous papal opposition to a movement that spurned democracy and yet, again, the Church and Pope Pius XI himself supported other movements in places such as Italy and Austria that were less than committed to democracy.

The most likely explanation is that the Church simply wished to squash the figure of Charles Maurras, an agnostic who viewed Catholicism as a useful tool of social order and a part of French culture rather than a divinely empowered instrument of salvation, and the loss of French Action was simply collateral damage. If so, this would seem something of an overreaction and still does not quite satisfy as a way of explaining such a strong reaction on the part of the papacy. Maurras was, again, not the founder or the leader of the party, simply the most prominent member and the membership of French Action included a considerable number of priests and religious. Later, after the horrific events in Spain, the next pontiff, Pope Pius XII, repealed the ban on French Action but, by that time, the political current had largely left the movement behind. Other, smaller and less effective but more specifically fascist type movements had left French Action as one, now softer, voice among many. Its fortunes were not helped by the attitude of France after World War II which condemned Maurras and French Action for going along with the Vichy regime, Maurras regarding it as less than ideal but an improvement over the liberal republic.

Across the border in Spain, the situation was also very interesting and, again, not what one would probably expect. The preeminent fascist type party there was the Spanish Falange, founded in 1933 by Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera. It promoted nationalism, national syndicalism (in the same vein as integralism or corporatism) and was initially republican and revolutionary. However, after the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, with General Francisco Franco leading the nationalist faction, the Falange effectively came under his control and was merged with the Carlists as part of Franco’s effort to unite all Spanish factions opposed to the leftist republic. Once the nationalists were victorious, Franco became dictator of Spain and the Falange was the only legal political party under his rule (and renamed the “National Movement”). Franco, however, had never been a Falangist ideologue and was more of a traditional conservative. He wanted national unity, opposition to masons and communists, a revival of Spanish heritage and a return to traditional Spanish institutions such as the Catholic Church and the monarchy.

The problem in Spain was that, as in France, the monarchy had become a source of division rather than unity. Franco got around this problem by restoring the monarchy in name fairly early on (1947) but not restoring it in fact until his death. He held off for a number of years (until 1969) in naming who his royal successor would be as a way to keep all royalist factions on side, each hoping ‘their man’ would be the one chosen. It also helped that the royals were firmly on the side of Franco from the start. King Alfonso XIII had backed the nationalists and sent his son, the Count of Barcelona, to join their ranks. The count, however, never got along with Franco, called him a usurper and so it is no surprise he was passed over in favor of his son, Don Juan Carlos, who was very friendly and supportive of Franco and his regime and so it was he who was chosen to take power when Franco died, restoring the monarchy in fact. Franco proved his monarchist bona fides by actually restoring the monarchy.

Since that time, it must be said, things have changed as the Falangists today blame King Juan Carlos for Spain becoming a democracy and increasingly leftist. That is certainly not what Franco intended but in the rush to heap all blame (as fascist types certainly see it) on King Juan Carlos for the shift to democracy, the Falangists conveniently forget their own history. The party had originally been republican and only Franco had made it otherwise and so there was no reason for the King to assume that without Franco they would stick with him through thick and thin. It is also true that the transition to democracy was led by Adolfo, Duke of Suarez, former General-Secretary of the Falangist National Movement, a longtime official under Franco and that the Falangists did themselves no favors by splitting into a number of factions after the death of Franco that diluted their political influence and public support.

Neighboring Portugal had a very different story, with a royal heir who was more openly opposed to the fascist type regime prevailing in his country. That was the corporatist state of Antonio de Oliveira Salazar which stressed, of course, corporatism, nationalism, Catholicism, pride in Portuguese history and the defense of every inch of the Portuguese empire. Salazar originally seemed favorable to the restoration of the monarchy and for the first time since the establishment of the republic, praise for the historic Kingdom of Portugal became commonplace. However, Salazar, while effectively the dictator, was legally only the head of government and not the head of state. President Oscar Carmona had been very powerful in the past, changed positions from time to time and was not someone Salazar probably wished to have an open clash with, nor could he have been expected to go along with a restoration of the monarchy. That changed when the President died in 1951 and Salazar did, at that point, consider doing away with the presidency and restoring the monarchy.

In 1950 the National Assembly had repealed the laws banning the Portuguese Royal Family from the country, the royals returned and the heir to the throne, Royal Prince Duarte Pio, went to school in Portugal and joined the Portuguese military where he fought in the colonial war in Portuguese West Africa (Angola). However, he was not an enthusiastic supporter of the corporatist “New State” and was finally expelled from Angola by the government for organizing a multi-ethnic group of political candidates for office who were not members of the National Union (Salazar’s political party). If this attitude seems contrary to Salazar’s denunciation of German racial policy, there is a difference. In Portugal, to scapegoat or persecute a race simply for being of another race was considered barbaric but the regime still wished to preserve the Portuguese people and organizations such the Portuguese Legion and government positions were open only to whites.

In the end, when the military coup ousted the corporatist regime, Duarte Pio, Duke of Braganza, celebrated the event and publicly endorsed the junta, perhaps hoping that he might be put on the throne by the new democratic regime. If so, that hope was obviously unfulfilled and one can only speculate if embracing the Salazar regime would have been to his benefit since, had he done so and had he been named successor in the fashion of Franco and Juan Carlos, he might have been quickly ousted as well by the military in the “Carnation Revolution”. Who can say? He has also caused some controversy by other actions such as saying nice things about President Assad in Syria and supposedly reconciling with the freemasons (which I have heard but am a bit skeptical about as it is hard to imagine what possible reason he would have for doing such a thing). In any event, for monarchists, the failure to restore the House of Braganza to the throne leaves most with little nostalgia for the “New State” though Portugal, in that era, will always have my support at least for fighting harder than any other European country, post-World War II, against the forces of international communism in Africa. Portugal was essentially fighting three wars at once with rebel forces backed by the entire communist global community and I don’t think Portugal receives nearly enough credit for that.

In other countries, such as in Latin America, monarchy was never a serious issue for fascist type regimes, for largely historical reasons. As we have seen, there was no uniform position on the subject among the fascists though even that leaves them in better standing with monarchists than their arch-enemies the communists who certainly did have a uniform position of absolute hostility to traditional authority of any kind. Some fascist type parties or movements were pro-monarchy, some were, at best, open to the idea or not stridently opposed but always on the condition that the monarchy did not oppose their own political efforts. In Asia, of course, things were very different as most countries were under colonial rule. The Empire of Japan was the primary exception to this and many have considered the Japanese empire either fascist outright or fascist by association. There, of course, the monarchy was central but, again, that was in a situation wherein the monarch did not actively oppose the government. We can see in the attempted coup when the Showa Emperor decided to surrender that this loyalty was not absolute, though the idea that the militarists would have actually abolished the monarchy is so absurd as to be unthinkable.

As we have mentioned here before (quite some time ago at this point), just looking at the World War II period, 18 of the 25 Axis powers or affiliated states were monarchies (though some only nominally so) and you had fascist type regimes in Spain that did bring back the monarchy, Austria that was in the process of doing so but was stopped and Portugal which came close but ultimately did not. Overall, one does get the impression that these fascist type movements were more favorable toward the idea of monarchy than with monarchy itself. Actual royals tended to cause jealousy and fears of rivalry in public esteem on the part of fascist leaders and having someone, no matter how seemingly ceremonial, ‘above’ the person holding power tends to make them very uncomfortable. Yet, the emphasis on nationalism, a grander form of tribalism, cannot but call to mind the traditional tribal chieftain, the hereditary leader of a people, someone for whom the story of their bloodline is the story of their people, their nation and that is a special bond which cannot be replicated by the mechanics of political machinery.

Finally, taken altogether, despite what the leftists think, who see fascism around every corner, the fact is that there have been relatively few fascist regimes around the world and fewer still that had the chance to live out a normal life as it were, which can make it hard to pass judgment on them in a rational, dispassionate way. From the point of view of one who supports traditional authority, there was nothing in the most basic fascist platform that would preclude one from supporting them. Some fascist types were pro-monarchy and others were not but their basic common themes; a focus on national unity, aversion to multi-party democracy, corporatism, support for traditional values, putting your own nation first, a self-interested foreign policy and a goal of as much economic self-sufficiency as possible, contain nothing inherently opposed to traditional authority.

Personally, the only acceptable form of classical liberalism was that embodied by such conservative thinkers as Edmund Burke. The problem is in maintaining that style as liberalism carries within it the seeds of its own destruction as should be all too clear now. As someone known for having more positive things to say about Mussolini than is considered acceptable in polite society, I will not hesitate to point out again that the liberals today seem intent with their overreaching to prove him right more every day in his assertion that, “The liberal state is a mask behind which there is no face, it is a scaffolding behind which there is no building” or that, essentially, the whole system is a fraud with freedoms for the favored but not for all. The basic liberal system, based to a large extent on idealism, works only in so far as the ground rules are evenly applied and universally adhered to. Such is no longer the case today so that the point of view of the fascists, that every state is essentially totalitarian and the only options are whether it is a totalitarianism that favors your worldview or suppresses it, supports your people or endeavors to destroy them, becomes, I would think, nearly impossible to refute.

For this adherent of traditional authority, one of the biggest roots of our current evils is the existence of political parties. The basic corporatist model has long been one that I think has the potential to rid countries of that pestilence. In that way, to jump to the opposite end of the political spectrum, it is also why I have time for libertarian type ideas about the ‘privatized society’ in that regard. I would not quickly dismiss anything that would offer hope for rendering mass political parties irrelevant and ultimately extinct. If anything, regardless of any one group's view of monarchy (and this could be dangerous) the current trends of society, particularly in the western countries which have the very existence of their people at stake, the public is being forced in a nationalist direction simply as a survival mechanism.

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Horror After Haile Selassie

It was on this day in 1974 that the last Ethiopian monarch, Haile Selassie, was overthrown by a communist ruled military clique, known as the Derg. Because this was the work of communists and because western media tended to ignore anything unpleasant that occurred in African countries after colonialism ended (which was supposed to solve everything) there is not much awareness about what followed but it was a living horror to put even the "Reign of Terror" to shame. After World War II, the Soviet Union made Ethiopia something of a priority and turned out massive amounts of propaganda in an effort to turn the Ethiopian people against their monarch. This was the same country that had backed Haile Selassie so long as he was fighting Italian Fascists, which had been allied with Haile Selassie in World War II and which had awarded him the military Order of Suvarov in 1959. Haile Selassie had himself also been cheering on the downfall of the European colonial empires in Africa, failing to appreciate the fact that most of the forces behind the movement were under communist control and would be no friend to him later. Likewise, when Haile Selassie was again overthrown, unlike the last time, in 1974 there would be no British Empire to set him back on his throne again. After a period of increasing unrest, instability and internal problems for the country, Haile Selassie was overthrown in a military coup and later murdered.

This military clique, known as the Derg, took absolute control of the country and was, of course, backed the whole time by the Soviet Union and their masters in Moscow. The emperor had certainly made mistakes which hurt his cause, however, he certainly cannot be held responsible for the treason of others and the issues they seized on in order to take power were almost invariably due to things far beyond the ability of the emperor to control (unless one assumes the King of kings should be able to control the weather or global oil prices). The mistakes he made shrink in insignificance compared to the mistake of his overthrow and the dismantling of the monarchy which was the only government Ethiopia had ever known in its entire, ancient history. Why was this so? A simple look at the subsequent history of the country proves it beyond all doubt. How did Ethiopia fare without a monarch? Well, there was one coup after another in this communist dictatorship that couldn’t even manage to agree on a single dictator. There were numerous rebellions, all of them bloodily suppressed, there was drought, famine, massive starvation and soon Ethiopians were fleeing their homeland in record numbers. Part of the country was even conquered by the Somalis and the Somali incursion was only beaten back with massive assistance from the rest of the communist bloc. I do not wish to sound too offensive here but, when you need the help of the Soviet Union, East Germany, North Korea and Cuba to defeat a country like Somalia -you are not doing very well.

The man in charge of all of this, the man who had taken the place of Emperor Haile Selassie, was Mengistu Haile Mariam. Remember that name. What Stalin was to Russia, what Choibalsan was to Mongolia, what Mao was to China, Mengistu was to Ethiopia. He instituted a reign of terror in Ethiopia on a scale that made even the French revolutionaries look like slackers. Hundreds of thousands of people were massacred, hundreds of thousands were arrested and tortured and hundreds of thousands more were starved to death. All told, even by conservative estimates, Mengistu caused the deaths of more than two million of his fellow Ethiopians. Some believe he may have killed his former emperor personally and given what a vicious, hateful man he is, it is not beyond the realm of possibility. The Ethiopian people experienced a level of suffering under his rule that none of them had ever known before. No emperor, nor even any foreign conqueror, was so brutal and barbaric toward the Ethiopian people as Mengistu was. He intentionally murdered people by slow starvation and if there was one constant throughout his decades in power it was probably widespread starvation, some of it purposely inflicted and much of it the result of his idiotic, Marxist policies. He remains one of the most despicable villains in African history. Thanks to him, even today, when foreign people think of "Ethiopia" they tend to picture starving children.

Now, most histories will tell you that the nightmare of Mengistu and his communist tyranny ended in 1991. Do not be fooled. The nightmare has not ended and will not until traditional government, the monarchy, is restored to Ethiopia. As the Soviet Union began to fold, the primary source of aid to Mengistu dried up and his regime was toppled. He fled to Zimbabwe and the open arms of his friend and fellow tyrant Robert Mugabe where he remains to this day, despite being indicted by an Ethiopian court for genocide. However, the party that replaced Mengistu was the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, a democratic socialist party. In other words, communism for slow learners. Unfortunately, this is not unique to Ethiopia as we have seen the same all over the world. When communist regimes fall, the party renames itself the social democrats or democratic socialists and continues on just as they did before. They took power and held on to it, giving the world some show-elections just to make everyone happy while continuing on the tradition of corruption, wars and poverty that characterized the preceding regime. It is still a country of starvation and repression.

What happened in Ethiopia, under communism, is not much remembered today but everyone would do well to learn from it. The misery, the mass murder, the oppression was on a scale such as was seen in Cambodia under Pol Pot with a death toll in the millions. In the "Qey Shibir" or 'Red Terror' alone the murdered numbered in the hundreds of thousands. The Derg tried to wash its hands of the matter but the bands of radicals who carried out the killings had been armed by them and organized by them as an instrument of punishment for "reactionaries". They only came to care about the horror when some of these radical groups began to target Derg officials and sympathizers as well in a way not too dissimilar from that of Mao's Red Guards in China. In the capital city alone, aside from the adults, well over a thousand young children were murdered and left in the streets. All of this would have been enough to retard the progress of even the most advanced countries and it certainly has in Ethiopia but recovery has been even more slow and painstaking since the government still, to a large extent, clings to the leftist policies of the communist era. This summer, protests broke out against the oppression of the government as well as demands for more wealth redistribution (a learned habit) and this resulted in a crackdown that has been more violent than the country has seen in decades.

Is there a way to end the cycle of misery? Certainly, and it is not difficult to see but it will require getting rid of the entrenched, ruling elite that has persisted since the days of the Derg. Ethiopia needs to take a "back to basics" approach, restore their traditional leaders, revive traditional values, end the policies that have proven so ruinous and adopt policies that have been proven to work around the world. It means an end to the culture of dependency and a revival of a healthy sense of national pride. It also requires an emphasis on faith as the Coptic Christians of eastern Africa are becoming an increasingly imperiled minority (see events such as the crackdown in Egypt, the horrors in the Sudan and the deportation of Ethiopian laborers from Saudi Arabia for evidence of the squeezing of African Christians). If that is done, Ethiopia is well placed to play an important part in pulling east Africa back from the brink of disaster and being, as she once was, an example for others to follow as a powerful and prosperous African state.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Christ and the Emperor Tiberius

Although largely ignored or forgotten today, there was existed in Christianity a strong tradition of reverence for the imperial throne and a deeply held belief that the Roman emperor was, while not divine himself (as many were held to be by the pagans) but certainly part of God’s divine plan for the world and the Christian religion. This can be seen in the retention of certain Roman imperial traditions by the Germans, the emphasis placed on the baptism of Emperor Constantine, the reverence for his mother St Helena of the Cross and popular myths such as that Pope St Gregory the Great resurrected the pagan Emperor Trajan in order to baptize him into the Christian faith. It can be seen, as was discussed here this past August, in the stories surrounding the prophecies of the Roman sybils concerning the birth of Christ and Emperor Augustus, going all the way back to the very beginning of Christianity, or even slightly before in that regard. Again, today, none of this is talked about and doubtless very, very few Christians are even aware of these traditions or would consider them significant if informed about them. However, I find them fascinating and, in all honesty, an integral part of what I would consider the ideal for western civilization. So, I will talk about them and today the focus will be on the often notorious Roman Emperor Tiberius Caesar.

History has not been terribly kind to Emperor Tiberius. He is generally regarded as a cold, cruel man at best, a “bloody tyrant” at worst and one who ended his life in a self-indulgent pool of unspeakable depravity. As usual, I will be a contrarian on this point as I have always had a much more positive opinion of Emperor Tiberius than most people, thanks in no small part to the late papal Latinist Father Reginald Foster who, while admitting that Tiberius got “a little nasty” toward the end, repeatedly asserted that, “he was not a bloody tyrant, he was a hard man” who had plenty of good points. Christians, in centuries past anyway, would likely have agreed. I first discovered this long lost tradition when writing up a long article on the “Popes and Caesars” and that tradition was that Emperor Tiberius was considered to be something of a crypto-Christian by what we might today call the pop-culture of early Christendom. For people who are familiar only with the version of Tiberius seen in movies and on television, this would certainly come as a shock and yet, for a very long time there was a widely held belief that the second Emperor of Rome was almost a Christian in his conscience.

The story, handed down from historians such as Eusebius Pamphilius and Tertullian is that the Roman governor Pontius Pilate sent reports to the Emperor about the activities of Jesus Christ and His disciples. Tiberius was, of course, the emperor when Christ conducted His ministry, was crucified, died and resurrected and it was Tiberius whom Christ referred to when He said, “render unto Caesar” and so on. According to these Christian historians, when Emperor Tiberius learned about Jesus, his heart was rather moved by the accounts and he raised the issue of deifying Christ and including him among the Roman pantheon. This, however, was refused by the Roman Senate which held that it was only by their vote that someone could become a god and this worked perfectly well with the Christians who, of course, held that the divinity of Christ was not dependent on a vote by Roman politicians. That having failed, Emperor Tiberius still insisted that the Christians not be persecuted, nor even “accused” and, these historians assert, it was this decision which enabled Christianity to grow and spread in its early, formative years when it could have most easily been suppressed.

We can see then, an assertion by these early Roman, Christian historians that a divine plan was at work, involving the Roman Emperor, by which God touched the heart of Caesar in order that Christianity could flourish and eventually convert the Roman Empire and, by that body, the whole of western civilization, to the true Faith. Later, secular, historians, of course, have a very different view. While most agree that Pontius Pilate did report on the life of Christ to Emperor Tiberius, as such would have been perfectly normal procedure, they do not agree that there is any significant evidence that Tiberius Caesar was at all sympathetic to the Christians or tried to champion their cause. The lack of initial persecution of Christians is explained away, by these secular historians with the, admittedly reasonable, assertion that in those early days the Christian religion was simply too inconsequential for the Roman authorities to bother with, a sort of passing religious trend that would come and go as others had before. Again, such a view is not unreasonable but, personally, I prefer the Christian version of events. Taken on its own, this story can certainly be discounted but, as mentioned in the previous article about the sybils, when seen in the wider context, I think it becomes much more difficult to dismiss as entirely fanciful. One could just as easily see evidence of a divine plan at work.

Eusebius Pamphilius summarized it this way:
“Tiberius, therefore, under whom the name of Christ made its entry into the world, when this doctrine was reported to him from Palestine, where it first began, communicated with the Senate, making it clear to them that he was pleased with the doctrine. But the Senate, since it had not itself proved the matter, rejected it. But Tiberius continued to hold his own opinion, and threatened death to the accusers of the Christians. Heavenly providence had wisely instilled this into his mind in order that the doctrine of the Gospel, unhindered at its beginning, might spread in all directions throughout the world.”

Today, as mentioned, all of this is discounted, however, even if one does, it still makes a very powerful point about what Christians considered important in the days of and immediately following the original, Christian, Roman Empire. Whether true or not, this story illustrates the centrality of the imperial monarchy in Christian thinking. Romans, after all, remained Romans even after becoming Christian and their loyalty to the empire and to Caesar did not change, nor could it have been expected to since both Christ Himself and His apostles commanded obedience to the imperial authorities. The story of the Tiburtine Sybil foretelling the birth of Christ to Emperor Augustus, the story of Emperor Tiberius being sympathetic to Christianity, the story of Emperor Marcus Aurelius and the “Thundering Legion”, the story of Emperor Commodus and his Christian mistress, the story of Emperor Constantine’s vision before the Battle of the Milvian Bridge, dismiss them all as a pack of fables if you like but the very fact that they were once so widely told makes a very profound point about the priorities and the ideals of the original Christians.

This is part of an entire tradition that Christians today are totally ignorant of and I think that is a shame. Christians today have forgotten that the earliest church councils were called by the Emperor rather than a churchman, that the imperial coronation was often referred to as “the eighth sacrament” or that the custom of anointing monarchs with holy oil at their coronation is a custom that goes back to the Eastern Roman Empire, drawing upon even more ancient traditions dating all the way back to the anointing of King Saul by the Prophet Samuel. The climax of the ceremony was the Roman Emperor taking communion and all the assembled senators and clergymen bowing prostrate before him. The imperial monarchy was thus so central to Christianity that, putting historical accuracy aside, it would have been perfectly natural for Christians to interpret events in terms of a divine plan involving the Roman emperors, the monarchs of western civilization, all the way back to the very origins of the faith and to interweave the history of the Roman emperors with the overall unfolding conversion of the west from paganism to Christianity, incorporating the figures of the pagan past into the Christian present and future rather than trying to forget everything that had come before.

In practical terms, this can also allow one to better understand why there was such an emphasis placed on the sacred nature of the imperial monarchy in the east, all the way up to the end of the Russian Empire in 1917 as well as helping to explain the often contentious relationship between the popes and the German emperors in the west. The more important something is, the more likely that it will be fought over. This was a tradition so central in fact that it survived the fall of the Western Roman Empire, was imitated by the First German Empire and by other monarchies that grew up in western Europe such as in England (where more of these traditions survive than anywhere else) and in France where the tragic King Louis XVI, heir to his own sacred royal traditions, called for, “one King, one law, one faith”, he was hearkening back, wittingly or not, to that original, united and finally Christian imperial realm with a Roman Caesar at its head. So, in the end, whether Emperor Tiberius was truly sympathetic to the cause of Christ or whether modern-day Christians would even wish to claim him (I would, but I recognize the vast majority would be horrified by the very idea), is not finally the point. The point is that such stories are either true and thus illustrate the divine guidance of the imperial monarchy from the beginning, or they are not true and thus illustrate how important the imperial monarchy was to early Christians who wished them to be so. Either way, we are inevitably drawn back to the fact, the idea and the ideal of The Empire.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

King Harald Goes Full SJW

A few days ago His Majesty King Harald V of Norway gave what the mainstream media has been calling an emotional and heartfelt speech at a garden party at the Royal Palace in Oslo in which he went full blown 'Social Justice Warrior' on the assembled guests. The King managed to touch on just about every contentious issue and came down firmly on the wrong side. He decried national borders, saying "home is where the heart is" and touched all the other multicultural, diversity and tolerance chords. He called for "trust, solidarity and generosity" and said that, "Norwegians are girls who love girls, boys who love boys and boys and girls who love each other. Norwegians believe in God, Allah, everything and nothing" the last of which certainly seems true. As Mark Steyn has said, this is the attitude that 'our only value is that we have no values'. If one turns your ear slightly to the north, you might hear the faint sound of wailing as all the old Vikings in Valhalla howl in grief at what their modern-day descendants have fallen to. The King went full on 'Social Justice Warrior' and his comments fit in perfectly with them in both their content and the fact that they make absolutely no sense whatsoever and are full of contradictions.

After all, if Norwegians love God, as their forefathers certainly did (knights from Norway participated in the Crusades), they certainly would not make room for those who submit to Allah. Likewise, those who, in Norway or anywhere else, believe that there is no god but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet, gays and lesbians are certainly not the sort they will be prepared to tolerate. In a single speech, the King has essentially erased Norway entirely. If Norway is not a land defined by borders, nor a particular people nor a particular idea even, then what is left for it to be? To say that the Norse believe in everything and thus believe in nothing, is to bring relativism to its ultimate, logical conclusion. It would be nice, of course, in these days of largely ceremonial monarchs, to think that the King was simply giving the speech that his political captors forced him to give, but that seems unlikely for such an occasion as this and it comes at a time when the Norwegian government has moved somewhat, ever so slightly, to the right since 2013 when the Labor Party was finally evicted from office. Opposition to immigration has been on the rise and so, it seems, at least as likely that the King was being rather defiant in his remarks.

Since this speech hit the news, I have been asked several times to respond to it and asked why I have not responded already. Well, I was unprepared for how much of a stir it caused to be honest. I was more disappointed than shocked to hear it. As I have related here in the past, this is the sort of thing that Crown Prince Haakon has been saying for years, going to the ends of the earth to give moral support to people with unnatural proclivities. Anyone remember his visit to show solidarity with the transvestites of Nepal? If not, I assure you that is not a joke, that actually happened. I would have expected such words from him and have long worried what was going to happen when he takes the throne but I had thought the King himself to be more 'normal'. I was disappointed to see this but, again, not that surprised. Royals, as with anyone, cannot be unaffected by their environment, certainly not in Europe which is one reason why I have never been happy with the trend of sending royals to school rather than having private tutors. This is what they have been taught to believe, it is how they have been taught to think, and I feel more pity for them than anything else that they have been so blinded. It also remains to be seen how far they will be willing to go with this suicidal line of thinking.

Norway is not, I assure you, a piece of blank paper. It is a country, it has borders, it has a culture, it has traditions and it has a people. It is not "intolerant" to say so, nor is it "intolerant" to say that those borders matter, that culture is a Christian culture, those traditions are Nordic traditions and those people are Norse people. Norwegians are not Muslims or Buddhists or Hindus, they are not black or brown and they are not interchangeable or replaceable! Norway is beautiful, Norway is noble and its people are the inheritors of a proud legacy. If you encourage lifestyles that prevent them reproducing themselves, if you allow alien elements in to drown them with demography, all of that will be lost. You may still have an area on the map between Sweden and Denmark that is labeled "Norway" but it will not be the land of the Norsemen any longer. All that they are will be destroyed and lost forever. No salvation can be counted on from the colonies, for the same thing is happening in the American Midwest as well. In short, I could not disagree with King Harald more.

No one has asked but I have sensed some curiosity on this point so I will say that, no, this does not mean I will be cheering on the republican traitors in Norway from now on. I think the King is wrong, I think he has been misled and is dangerously mistaken. That does not change the fact that he is the King and he does not nor should not require my consent or approval to remain so. Right now, the monarchy is, as was addressed here not long ago, largely ceremonial and so I would urge Norwegians to simply pray for the King and vote in political leadership that will keep Norway Norwegian and not Arab, Somali or Sudanese. If the King is devoted to the constitution as it stands, he will be obliged to go along with this. If, on the other hand, the Norwegians do the right thing and the King attempts to resist them, I fear he may fall but I would still hope that does not happen. I would hope that loyal people would take him aside, make him see reason or, failing that, appoint a regent to carry on in his name until a more normal state of affairs can return. Treason, after all, is never the right answer and the monarchy is an integral part of the Norwegian culture that must be preserved and defended. My loyalty to the cause of kings has certainly never been dependent on my agreeing with their every position and point of view, otherwise I should have been lost quite a long time ago. No, rather, I say that Norwegians should disregard what King Harald has said, the words of a confused and mistaken monarch, but remain steadfastly loyal to the Crown and show that loyalty by coming to the rescue of their king and royal family from this disastrous way of thinking.
Ja, vi elsker dette landet!
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