Friday, February 26, 2016

The Mexican Problem

Last night's Republican primary debate in Houston contained quite a few questions about the subject of Mexico, illegal immigration and border security, most of them aimed at candidate Donald Trump and his promise to build a wall on America's southern border and have Mexico pay for it. Important people from the Pope to former Mexican President Vicente Fox have denounced such an idea and criticized Trump heavily for suggesting it (though as many have pointed out the Pope has a very high wall surrounding his own country and Mexico has a very heavily defended wall on its southern border to stem the flow of illegal aliens from Central America into their own country). What people need to understand though is that the issues involving the border are a symptom rather than the problem itself. The United States does not have a "border problem" but rather a "Mexican problem". There was a clue to this during the debate when Trump was asked why he wanted to build a wall along the border with Mexico but not along the border with Canada (the longest undefended border in the world by the way). His basic answer was that it would not be practical but long-time readers of this blog will know why such a thing is not simply impractical but unnecessary. America has no problem with the Canadian border because there is no "Canada problem".

The difference is that Canada is a successful, stable and prosperous country that many people from around the world have and do wish to live in. Mexico, on the other hand, is an impoverished, unstable and violent country that even most Mexicans do not wish to live in, hence the many millions of illegal aliens from Mexico living in the United States. Americans can, and should, deal with the border situation but this is a Mexican problem at its root that can only be solved in Mexico by Mexicans. Whereas Canada is a constitutional monarchy with a long-standing respect for the rule of law and principles and a political culture not terribly different from that in the United States, Mexico took a different path and Mexican history has been dominated by dictators, coups, civil wars and more than one revolution. Mexico did not have to take that path nor does it have to continue to adhere to it but so far it is persisting in it while the all-but-open border with the United States enables these problems to persist.

Mexico needs a better plan for prosperity than simply moving everyone to the United States. The Pope, on his recent visit, actually said something similar but, of course, it got very little play in the media. He said, basically, that Mexicans needed to make Mexico a country that the Mexican people wished to live in rather than flee from. I would argue that the short-lived regime of Emperor Maximilian was the last, best hope Mexico had for achieving that goal but his friends were few and his enemies were many. Mexico is a beautiful country with ample natural resources and all the building blocks needed for having a successful, prosperous country. What is lacking is a good government and a political culture that is based on encouraging success rather than the revolutionary culture of exploiting one group for the benefit of another. Unfortunately, there has been a tendency to take anyone who tries to bring good government to Mexico and put them in front of a firing squad. I firmly believe that Mexico can be a prosperous and powerful country when men like Emperor Maximilian are celebrated and bandits like Pancho Villa are the ones who are vilified.

Right now, commitment to making it as easy as possible for Mexicans to enter the United States illegally is about the only thing that every party in Mexico agrees on. It is a precarious sort of unity because, despite what detractors say, the United States could easily stop almost all illegal entries into the country from Mexico if it really wanted to. Simply stopping all wire-transfers from the U.S. to Mexico would very quickly force Mexico City to change their attitude on the subject. However, for the problem to really be solved the Mexican government needs to stop worrying about Donald Trump and start trying to 'make Mexico great again'.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Those Who Speak for Conservatism in the English-Speaking World

There is a handful of figures who I am very fond of, though naturally I do not always agree with them on everything, who represent what I think would be a better direction for the part of the world which I belong to and which most people reading this probably belong to as well which is the English-speaking countries of the world. One such individual is Mark Steyn, a native of Canada now living in the United States who has recently been on a tour of Australia. He can comment intelligently on the politics of the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States or Australia and frequently does. He has, in his own career, implicitly worked for closer cooperation and making common cause among the conservatives of the Anglosphere. This would not be possible were it not for the historical fact that all of these countries have a great deal in common due to their common roots in the British Empire and the unique political history of England. It may be fashionable to emphasize differences but the fact is that Great Britain, Canada, the United States and Australia are more similar than dissimilar because of their origins.

Any English-speaking, ordinary, every-day conservative in any of these countries would likely agree with him most of the time and enjoy reading anything he writes. Another figure who has also spoken up for conservative solidarity across the English-speaking world is Daniel Hannan, MEP and I have a great deal of time for him as well even though, once again, I do not agree with him on everything. I have noticed that I have heard United States resident Mark Steyn defend the monarchy about as much as I have heard the British subject Daniel Hannan praise and defend the American Founding Fathers which many would think the two have the wrong way around. However, it may be that Hannan simply knows how to play to the audience. In any event, I have found myself in disagreement with Hannan more than some others but I am always glad to hear what he has to say, agree with him quite often and find him someone worth listening to and worth taking seriously. He has not hesitated to voice his opinion on American politics and that can be dangerous as many people take a negative view of foreigners doing such a thing. However, though he does not shy away from criticism, he does so in a context which leaves no one in doubt that he does so as a friend.

Another figure, less well known than the two above, who I cannot help but mention as well is the American writer Harry Crocker III, a zealous convert to Catholicism, an overt Anglophile and someone who would take being labeled as an “American imperialist” a definition he would be proud of rather than insulted by. Much of his work is aimed at very specific audiences and his biting humor and opinions would offend many people. Having written books defending everything from Catholic Christendom, the British Empire and Rhodesia to the Confederacy and United States military interventions around the world, he clearly is not writing to be popular or to appeal to everyone. It is, I think, noteworthy, that none of these men were born in Britain and yet all were educated there and while they are all, I think it is safe to say, broadly on the same side they do have many differences between them. Again, I find it interesting that the British subject Daniel Hannan speaks so adoringly of the American Founding Fathers while the born and raised American, Harry Crocker, a former speechwriter for Governor Wilson of California, basically described America’s founders as tax-dodging smugglers but sees nothing outrageous about that, being of the view that some of England’s greatest heroes have been pirates.

I do appreciate the overall case that all three of these men make. I would prefer that there were more people like that ardent American imperialist Harry Crocker who urged U.S. college students to read Samuel Johnson and Edmund Burke, even pointing out to them that tearing down monarchy and tradition ends in tyranny rather than liberty. Though I think we just might have been on opposite sides were we both in New England in 1776 I also appreciate that Daniel Hannan wrote an article for an American conservative periodical pointing out that the original flag of the United States (the Grand Union flag) featured ‘the King’s Colours’ on prominent display and that there was a reason for this as well as there being a reason why this flag has tended to be hidden away and forgotten in American history. I can well imagine that Crocker and Hannan could have quite an epic debate on the subject of King Charles I and the English Civil War (the American being for the royalists and the card-carrying Tory arguing, as he stated on Twitter, that “The Cromwell of the 1640s was a hero; the Cromwell of the 1650s was a dictator.”) but both would agree on such things as Anglosphere solidarity, the need for Britain to leave the EU and as Hannon has said he would support the UK, Canada, US & Australia getting out of the EU, UN and NATO (as they apply) and forming their own political, economic and military alliance I cannot imagine that Steyn and Crocker would not also enthusiastically agree.

 Would it ever be possible? Are these men fighting a losing battle? I like the general idea that they, in their diversity of views, represent. I would like to see greater solidarity for the English-speaking countries and a greater respect for our shared traditions, history and origins. Similarly, I have often said I think the Spanish-speaking countries would benefit from the same sort of movement though, sadly, there seems to be even less enthusiasm in that corner for such a thing. However, I have been struggling lately with the idea that I could actively campaign for such a thing myself. Unlike Kippling, I have a hard time accepting ‘the hate of those ye better and the scorn of those ye guard’. Having friends and family in all branches of the U.S. military this is very real for me and I have a hard time seeing their lives being committed to protect peoples who despise them and even in the English-speaking world would rather sympathize with the “other” rather than their own. Where I live there is much goodwill for those most like us around the world but I see precious little such goodwill returned. Our militaries work together more closely than any others but certainly in the UK and Canada (I cannot say the same for Australia but would not be surprised to learn it is so) there seems to be a disconnect between the military and the public about the true state of affairs in the world. A look at the recent popularity of Bernie Sanders shows that the U.S. may be developing a similar mindset as well.

I like hearing from people such as those mentioned above probably just on an emotional level as it brings to mind the idealized, stereotyped vision I had growing up of the countries of the former British Empire. I was told growing up that Great Britain was a land of castles and aristocrats, hard working, witty people who loved and respected their Royal Family. I was told that Canada was a land of friendly, polite people who could be personified by the character of Constable Benton Fraser from the TV series “Due South” and that Australia was full of rugged individualists, tough but fun-loving with a ‘frontier spirit’. America was the oddball in having dead presidents on our money rather than a royal profile but we are all part of the same family and all on the same team. It took growing up and becoming more worldly-wise to find out that, for a great many at least, Australians and Canadians hate the British, the British hate themselves and everyone hates the Americans. Good humor has been replaced by political correctness, individualism by the nanny-state and respect for tradition by a socialist devotion to “equality of outcome” rather than equality of opportunity.

Were I to steer my course based solely on my own on-line interactions I would be forced to say to my fellow Americans that the Anglophobe “Third Worlders” among us have it right, that any sense of kinship and history are mere ghosts that no one believes in any more. That our friendship is a fraud that politicians talk about but which no one feels and that no one actually believes our alliance to be to the benefit of anyone. The other English-speaking countries do not like us and so we should not like them, nor do they like each other. And why should we? Are we not all horrible people? Are we not all fruit of the same poisoned tree? After all, Canada actually changed their national flag so as to be ‘less British’ and Australia, where pouring scorn on the “Poms” is a national hobby, is pushing to do the same. Even in Britain, the Labour and Liberal Democrat parties have called for the removal of their own national flag from schools, calling the display of the Queen’s Colours “nasty” and “nationalistic” as if it were the swastika rather than the crosses of three patron saints. I would not be quite so gloomy about it were it only coming from one side but it is not. The self-hating left and the self-hating right are both alive and well in the English-speaking world. The only difference is that one hates us for our (real or perceived) past imperfections while the other hates us for our current imperfections.

All that being so, it is something which, for me at least, must still be pondered and muddled through. However, with or without my active participation, I am glad that there are those who do go on trying to cheer us on rather than tear us down, who are not too proud to take their own side in an argument, who still prefer “us” over “them” and who will make an argument in defense of the English-speaking countries of the world, both for what they are and what they have been. Trying to have one without the other has, perhaps, been the cause of a great deal of the fracturing on the right though, as stated, that is something I am still pondering. For myself, the jury is still out but whether I think they are right or wrong on this or that point, I am glad that we still have some like Mark Steyn, Daniel Hannan and Harry Crocker arguing for the Anglosphere and the place of all our countries within it.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Monarch Profile: Emperor Henry VII

Emperor Henry VII of the Holy Roman Empire (First German Reich) is often overlooked amongst the famous German monarchs of the Dark to Middle Ages. The devoted Otto the Great, fierce Frederick Barbarossa or flamboyant Frederick II certainly receive more attention but Henry VII certainly had an impact in his time and inspired one of the most famous literary works of the period. Probably more known in Italy than Germany, he was able, inadvertently or not, to inspire people and represented something for many people that was far greater than he ever could have been himself. He was born in or around 1275 in Valenciennes in northern France, the son of Count Henry VI of Luxembourg. Although his native land was in France, it was also within the boundaries of the Holy Roman Empire which, while centered on Germany and consisting mostly of Germans (hence, “Holy Roman Empire of the German People”), it also included bits of other surrounding nations depending on the political situation. In his youth, the future Henry VII was well acquainted with how precarious that political situation was.

Voltaire famously quipped that, “…the Holy Roman Empire was in no way holy, nor Roman, nor an empire” and he was not entirely wrong. Holiness, well, that could come and go, and times it really tried and at other times it certainly fell short. It certainly was not truly “Roman” as the Pope ruled Rome and would become quite peevish if any German Emperors got ideas to take it from him. As for being an “empire”, however, that too was changeable. As a patchwork of minor states and cities, it was often not much of a player on the world stage but, under men like the aforementioned Otto or Frederick, it could rise to truly imperial status if the emperor was tough enough, smart enough and ambitious enough to make it so. In the time of young Henry of Luxembourg, this was not the case and the empire of the Germans was in rather bad shape. As Count of Luxembourg, Henry was constantly being harassed by neighboring German petty rulers and was forced to look beyond the imperial borders for help. He kept his people safe and, by all accounts, ruled his lands wisely but did have to avail himself of the protection of King Philip the Fair of France (perhaps known as Philip the Unfair if you were Jewish or a Knight Templar).

Things were going fine for Henry until King Albert I of Germany (a Hapsburg) was assassinated and a power-struggle ensued with King Philip the Fair of France hoping to carry out a French takeover of the Germans by having himself elected Emperor. He spent huge sums of money trying to bribe the German Prince-Electors but ultimately it was to no avail. Everyone feared that France would be too powerful if Philip were to be elected. However, King Philip could also be counted on to oppose any of the German candidates the electors would normally have turned to. As it happened though, the Count of Luxembourg was energetically putting his own candidacy forward, winning over many powerful people and making a pretty good case for himself. He was eligible, seemed to be a good ruler and while within the empire was also a vassal of the King of France so Philip would likely not object much to his election. The issue was decided and the Count of Luxembourg was elected King of the Romans in 1308 and crowned at Aachen the following year. Pope Clement V, in Avignon, confirmed his election and announced that he would crown him emperor at Candlemas in 1312. This would be important as it would lend prestige to his position, since some people did not take Luxembourg very seriously, and Henry VII knew that there were some Germans none too thrilled with his election and that the French king still coveted his position for himself.

Also, because of this situation, Emperor Henry VII felt he needed a powerbase. The French were a threat and the Germans were, he thought, not sufficiently reliable in their loyalty so he needed something to act as a counter-balance to these forces. That powerbase, he determined, was Italy. His first thought was to manage this by a dynastic alliance between his daughter and the son of the King of Naples. This, he hoped, would strengthen his own position by giving him influence in southern Italy and, since King Robert of Naples was the champion of the pro-papal, anti-imperial Guelph faction (opposed to the Ghibellines who supported the German Emperor) would also strengthen the imperial cause in general throughout Italy. Unfortunately for him, the King of France learned of this and supported the King of Naples in basically refusing the marriage alliance. With that effort having failed, Emperor Henry VII decided to invade Italy and secure his new powerbase by conquest.

One of the many people who were attracted to the idea behind this expedition was the famous Italian writer Dante Alighieri who had originally been part of the Guelph faction but who had been soured by this bitter divisions and feuding in Italy and seized on the ambition of Emperor Henry VII of Luxembourg to restore the power and unity of the Holy Roman Empire as being the solution to the problems he found with society. He wanted to see Italy strong and united and identified Henry VII as the monarch who could accomplish this. So it was that the Emperor inspired Dante to write his famous work ‘De Monarchia’ which called for a universal monarchy with the Pope and the Emperor limiting themselves to their own field, spiritual and secular, and both receiving their authority from God. This, of course, did not go over well with the Pope but given the idealism of Emperor Henry VII, it is easy to see how he could have inspired such high hopes in people. Unfortunately for the Emperor, his idealism revealed a certain naiveté about how deep and bitter were the divisions in Italy between the Guelph and Ghibelline camps. He met with both sides, showed no favoritism and hoped to win over all to cause by his magnanimity. He called on the Italian states to basically put the past behind them, welcome everyone home (because, as happened to Dante, when one side took a city the members of the opposing faction were usually exiled) and to reconcile. Not everyone was prepared to do this.

When faced with such resistance, Henry VII resorted to force and he came with 5,000 knights and men-at-arms to back him up. He reached Turin in November of 1310 and later proceeded to Milan where he was crowned King of Italy with the sacred Iron Crown of Lombardy in 1311. He continued his policy of reconciliation by recalling the deposed Visconti family but the Guelphs were preparing for war to stop him. It was, however, insufficient and Henry VII defeated the Guelphs and made Matteo Visconti his Imperial Vicar in Milan, appointing his brother-in-law, Count Amedeus V of Savoy, Vicar-General of Lombardy. All of this sparked widespread rebellion on the part of the Guelphs but Henry VII managed, by force of arms, to secure his control over most of northern Italy with some areas, such as Parma, Verona and Padua, accepting his rule more willingly. As he fought his way south, toward Rome, more popular opinion began to turn against him and Guelph cities united to oppose him. They did this militarily as well as with a medieval propaganda campaign that proved somewhat effective at ruining the reputation of the man so many had at first hailed as the harbinger of a new era of peace and prosperity. Meanwhile, in France, King Philip also put what pressure he could on Pope Clement to turn the Pontiff against the Emperor-elect and the Pope began to give signs that Henry of Luxembourg was falling out of favor with him.

After many hard-fought battles and long, arduous sieges of fortified Italian cities, Henry VII finally made his way to Genoa and more heartbreak. It was there that his wife, Margaret of Brabant, passed away and that he learned that King Robert of Naples, who he had first hoped to make an ally, was preparing to march against him and oppose his effort to dominate Italy. Several important cities, including Florence, pledged their support to the King of Naples against Henry VII. His Italian powerbase seemed to be turning into a quagmire as Florence instigated a rebellion against him in Lombardy and Robert of Naples moved into the Romagna at the end of 1311 and beginning of 1312. He gratefully accepted an offer of friendship from Venice, took some cities himself but there always seemed to be bad news for every bit of good news for the imperial cause.

The Emperor officially informed Florence that they were on his ‘naughty list’ and sailed to Pisa where he was warmly received and then began taking action to thwart the King of Naples by allying himself with his regional rival King Frederick III of Sicily (son of Pedro III of Aragon). He had just set out for Rome for his imperial coronation, something which would hopefully strengthen his position, only to be informed that Clement V did not plan to crown him in the Eternal City itself. Still, Henry and his German troops pressed on only to be confronted with more civil war in Rome between the Colonna family that supported his cause and the Orsini family that rose up on behalf of Robert of Naples. Henry, his German troops and their Italian allies fought their way into Rome but failed to take St Peter’s but Henry VII was going to have his coronation, Pope or no Pope. So, instead, he was crowned by two supportive cardinals in the Lateran Basilica. He then declared himself master of all Italy, whether the Guelphs or Robert of Naples liked it or not, and then fought his way back out of Rome and headed for Tuscany.

Once there he effectively declared war on Robert of Naples and Pope Clement V more openly declared himself the enemy of Emperor Henry. The Pope had his own arrangements with the local princes and city republics and popes traditionally opposed any German emperor gaining power over Italy. For Clement V, there was also the King of France who could make life very unpleasant for the Pontiff if he were to take the side of his enemy. Meanwhile, in September of 1312, Emperor Henry VII besieged the city of Florence whose forces were initially weaker than his own but which was receiving support from other city-states that also opposed the imperial forces. Ultimately, the forces under siege were far more numerous than the forces Henry had available to besiege them and the siege proved to be little more than an inconvenience. After about six weeks the Emperor gave up in frustration but that frustration was boiling over. The man who had entered Italy with a policy of peace and reconciliation, of treating both sides fairly and playing no favorites, had finally found his limit. In a fury he ordered all areas under his command to arrest all Guelphs or whatever enemies of his they could find and execute them all for treason.

This, needless to say, caused a stir and cost him the support of many of his Italian allies, fearful of the consequences of such actions. For his part, Henry VII received more German troops to reinforce his army at Pisa and in August of 1313 began his campaign to take on Robert of Naples once and for all. His first target was the city of Sienna but, unfortunately for the Emperor, his campaign would be ended not long after it began. No doubt weakened by his many battles, arduous journeys and infuriating political problems, Henry VII of Luxembourg contracted malaria and died on August 24, 1313 in Buonconvento at the age of only 39. His campaign had ended in failure and, to a large extent, the dream many shared that rested on his shoulders had died with him. Emperor Louis IV of Bavaria succeeded him and tried to finish what he had started but that expedition also ended in failure. Much of the goodwill he had at the beginning of his adventure had been lost before it was all over but at least some still thought well of him and continued to revere the ideal which he fought for, or at least, which he was able to embody for others. Such was the reason, we can safely assume, that in his later writings, Dante gave Emperor Henry VII an exalted place in Heaven.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Parting Company with Peter Hitchens and Why Leadership Matters

First of all, let me begin by saying that I am a big fan of Peter Hitchens and there is much I agree with him on. I appreciate his often lone voice of sanity in British society and I hope he long continues to make himself heard. Even when I disagree with him, I still find his views thoughtful and well worth considering. That being said, I have increasingly found myself disagreeing with him, though it is not the first time. I can remember many years ago when he came to America and mentioned in an interview how woefully backward and cruel it was for the United States not to provide “free” healthcare to its citizens as the NHS does in Britain (though later he became quite known for his completely correct criticisms of that monument to inefficiency and government incompetence). In recent years he has taken on an increasingly pessimistic tone, effectively writing off the United Kingdom and the British people as done for. I would like to disagree with that but, as he lives there and I do not, I cannot say he is wrong, only that I hope he is. Where I do think he is wrong is his current infatuation with the Putin regime in Russia and how it relates to the rest of the world, particularly Germany.

Mr. Hitchens is always quick to begin by stressing that he believes Vladimir Putin to be a cruel and tyrannical despot before launching into a full-throated defense of the man, his regime, all it does and even his allies such as the Ayatollah in Iran (who Mr. Hitchens maintains is not nearly so dangerous as he pretends to be or that the rest of the world thinks he is, chants of “Death to England” not withstanding). Actually, there is, as it concerns Russia at least, some areas in which I still agree with him on. I can see as clearly as anyone, as Mr. Hitchens has pointed out, that it has been Russian power that has been shrinking and the membership of NATO and the European Union that has been expanding. I agree with him that Russia is quite right to be upset by foreign meddling in bordering countries and, while I will not say the same for Europe, I certainly would accept that what happens in the Caucasus or Ukraine (or even the Baltic, Poland or Finland) does not involve the vital interests or national security of the United States. Were America to pull out of Eastern Europe and Russia to swallow all of these countries tomorrow it would have no impact on anyone in North America at all. Where I do disagree with Mr. Hitchens is on the nature of the European Union and his view on its foreign policy in regards to Russia. It seems to me he is being quite inconsistent on the issue of “leadership”.

As to the nature of the European Union, Mr. Hitchens has often said that, “the EU is the continuation of Germany by other means”, a take on the famous quote from Clausewitz about war. He has said that the EU is simply the latest incarnation of the German empire which has the same goals and policies as Nazi Germany had and Wilhelmine Germany before them, particularly in regards to Eastern Europe. As he sees it, there is no real difference in the policies of the different German regimes, only the methods they employ to further what are the natural destiny of the German people to dominate the continent of Europe. I absolutely disagree with this both because I see very real and immense differences between the different German regimes, all they stood for and all they tried to do and I disagree with it because it seems to me to grossly exaggerate the power and influence of, if arguably the German government, certainly the German people who are, as we speak, rapidly becoming an endangered species in their own countries to say nothing of Europe as a whole. It seems to me to be an attempt on his part to rationalize the actions of Russia by saying that their paranoia regarding the Germans and all their friends and associations is entirely justified while at the same time arguing that all western, German or East European paranoia regarding Russia is totally irrational. This is where the inconsistency comes into play.

On almost every occasion that I can recall, in which Mr. Hitchens talks about Russia, he makes a point of saying that while he defends Russia today he totally opposed the Soviet Union. He stresses that the Soviet Union is dead and gone, Russia today is nothing at all like the Soviet Union and that the Soviet Union had global aspirations which Russia today does not have or desire. This is, in my view, not entirely wrong but it is inconsistent when compared to his portrayal of the European Union and particularly Germany. He is saying that Germany has natural drives which influence German foreign policy in a similar direction, no matter if it is a Bundeskanzler, Führer or Kaiser at the helm of the ship of state. However, at the same time he is saying that Russia has no such similar natural drives that would influence Russian foreign policy regardless of the governments that come and go in leading the Russian people. This is where things become a bit complicated but suffice it to say that, on the contrary, I believe there are certain trends in foreign policy that prevail because of things as permanent and immovable as geography but I also think it matters a great deal just what sort of government and what sort of leader a country, such as Germany or Russia, has at its head.

To put it another way, I think there was a very big difference between the Kaiser and Hitler, just as there is a very big difference between Putin and the Czar. I also think there is a quite huge difference between the actions, character and fundamental nature of the modern European Union compared to the vision of Europe that Hitler had or that Kaiser Wilhelm II had before him. This is why I say that leadership matters and peoples are not necessarily going to go on along a predestined course regardless of who is in charge. The Kaiser, for example, had no thought of dominating Eastern Europe before the war situation placed the opportunity before him. His focus was on colonial competition with Great Britain. It was only after the war started and the British blockade began to be felt that the German leadership began to look to the east as a source of vital resources which would make them invulnerable to British naval superiority. Indeed, it was one of the greatest hopes of Kaiser Wilhelm II, which he tried very hard to carry out, to split Russia away from the British to be an ally of Germany (though aside from the nationalist rivalry of the Teutonic vs. the Slav the real impediment to this was never Germany but rather Austria and whether Austria or Russia was going to have prevailing influence in the Balkans). Hitler, on the other hand, had an ideological rivalry with Soviet Russia which the Kaiser never had as well as ramping up the nationalistic/racial rivalry to its ultimate extreme. For him and his regime, a fight to the finish with Russia was inevitable because either National Socialism and the German race would survive or international socialism and the Slavic (and assorted eastern races) would. His views and character would not and could not permit any compromise.

On the Russian side of things, it is true, the nature of the current Russian regime is not the same as the Soviet Union but I disagree with Mr. Hitchens that there are no similarities in policy at all and I most adamantly disagree with him that the current Russian regime is in any way preferable to the Russian Empire under the Romanov dynasty, a view he has also expressed. While Putin has got many things right, taking actions I think a man like Czar Nicholas II would approve of, he has also done horrible things that no self-respecting Romanov would ever dream of doing. If Czar Nicholas II were around to deal with post-Soviet Russian leaders, I think he would have had Yeltsin shot as a traitor and would think Putin possibly insane. This is not to take the popular view, mostly fostered by knee-jerk anti-Russian sentiment in the west (mirrored by similar knee-jerk anti-western or anti-American sentiment in Russia) that Putin is some sort of bloodthirsty warmonger out to conquer and dominate as much of the world as possible. On the contrary, while I think there are actions Putin has taken which no Czar ever would have, I also think he has failed to take action and submitted to treatment by the western powers that the Czar would never have tolerated. Even Czar Nicholas II, one of the most mild mannered of his dynasty, was a man who may not have always won but who never failed to at least make every effort.

Despite what Mr. Hitchens chooses to believe, much of Russian foreign policy is simply left-over Soviet foreign policy. The same could be said for much of the foreign policy of the western countries and it is truly unfortunate that neither side has yet to produce a leader willing to be the ‘bigger man’ and break the vicious cycle. Sticking with Russia though, let us consider a few examples to compare and contrast the foreign policies of the Romanov, Soviet and post-Soviet governments to see what impact national leadership (such as having a Czar) had on the world. Czar Nicholas II pursued a pragmatic foreign policy that was based on geographic realties, tempered by his principles as a monarch who stood guard over part of Christian civilization. The Soviet Union pursued a foreign policy that was based on Marxist ideology and the pursuit of global domination. They wished to Bolshevize the world, supported Marxist regimes wherever they could (provided they accepted Russian dominance) and opposed non-communist regimes in all instances. Current Russian foreign policy seems to be partly maintaining what relationships the Soviet Union left behind and partly nothing more than short-sighted reactions to a mostly decrepit west which they fearfully insist is still a dire threat to their existence.

Czar Nicholas II, for example, would never have allied himself with Communist China. He certainly would never have ceded them territory or granted them special access to Russian natural resources. Even their fellow communists of the Soviet era had more sense than to help arm and enrich an ambitious country with a huge population right at their backdoor. For the Czar there was a principle in mind, as he saw himself as the guardian of Christian civilization as the Russians had always been since the dissolution of the Mongol empire. There was also practical reality to consider. Centuries of experience, including their own subjugation by the Mongols out of which modern Russia was born, made the Czar realize that Russia stretched rather precariously across the Asian continent and was determined to prevent any other power from threatening Russia’s position. If anyone tried, be it the Persians (Iranians), the British in India or the Chinese they would be met by a wall of Russian steel. When Japan began to rise in power and influence in the Far East, starting with the occupation of Korea, Czar Nicholas II made it perfectly clear that if they wanted to be dominant in the region they would have a fight on their hands. Russia lost the war but Japan ultimately did not feel like a winner and most of Manchuria and all of Mongolia remained within the Russian sphere of influence until the Russian Revolution. To befriend, arm and enrich a country like China in what simply seems to be an effort to frighten countries which China is not even able to reach, would, I think, strike the Czar as baffling.

Equally baffling, I think, would be the current Russian support of the Islamic Republic of Iran, again, for seemingly little reason other than to annoy foreign powers which Iran can do little to nothing against. The Czar maintained a firm hold on the Russian position with Iran and knew all too well what the current Russian regime seems to naively overlook; that while Russians today may have forgotten that areas such as Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Dagestan were gained at the expense of Iran, the Iranians still today have certainly not forgotten this and are not about to. The Czar would, I think, be quite astounded that a Russian government would do so much to arm and enrich countries with long-standing resentments against Russia, which offer little to nothing in return, espouse values totally opposed to those of his own and which long for the day when they can regain what they previously lost to Russia, be it Armenia for the Iranians or Vladivostok to the Chinese (a perusal of social media will show people still want these places back even after so many centuries). And all for what? Oil? A resource Russia already has in abundance and which, at the time of this writing, is rapidly becoming next to worthless? Simply because they hate the United States and Russia hates the United States as well, a country which has never fought a war with Russia, has no territorial disputes with Russia and shares not a single border with Russia? It makes no sense and I doubt seriously any of the old Czars would pursue it.

However, what about Eastern Europe? Here finally is an area where Mr. Hitchens and President Putin have a much better case to make. As stated earlier, the EU has been expanding far faster and to a far greater extent compared to Russia’s miniscule gains against Georgia or the annexation of Crimea. The inclusion of countries such as Finland, the Baltic states and Poland into NATO is something which no one with any common sense should have expected any Russian government worth its salt to simply accept. And yet, there is the problem and it is a problem of inaction rather than the actions Russia has taken in Asia. Because, Russian governments, Putin included, have accepted it and so it has become a fact of life that will stand firm until such time as the American voters grow tired of shouldering the risk and financial burden of standing guard over a continent whose peoples thoroughly despises them and whose independence or subjugation would have no impact on their lives at all. It is though, in the Balkans where I think rests the most glaring difference between modern Russian foreign policy and the foreign policy of a traditional Romanov monarch like Czar Nicholas II. Western anti-Putin or anti-Russian controversialists who like to paint Vladimir Putin as a warmonger should pay attention to this example because it disproves their narrative completely and that example is Kosovo.

To put it bluntly, if the Czar were in power in Russia today Kosovo would still be part of Serbia, no question about it. Once again, I fail to see what practical gain the separation of Kosovo has had for any of the western powers involved but that by itself bolsters my firm belief that if the Czar were around today it never would have happened. He would have made it very clear to all parties involved that he would not stand for such a thing and such an effort against the territorial integrity of Serbia would mean trouble with Russia. Had such a line been drawn, there is no doubt in my mind that no one would have dared to cross it because, again, even if most of the leadership in the west were not a bunch of feckless schemers, there would have been everything to risk for practically no gain on their part. It did not have to happen and if the Russian bear had showed her fangs there is not a doubt in my mind that it would not have happened and NATO would have shrugged its shoulders and walked away. Such an action might also have prevented Romania and Bulgaria from joining NATO in the next enlargement in 2004. Whether this would have pleased their peoples, I cannot say but it is demonstrably true that the security of Western Europe or North America is not impacted in any way by the status of Romania or Bulgaria which were dominated by the Soviet Union for decades, at times occupied by Russian troops and the member states of NATO got along just fine. Under different leadership, there would have been and had been different policies. I think the Czar would find it incredible that Russian forces would be put in harm’s way to defend a left-wing secular dictator in Syria but would not even be used as a threat to defend the territorial integrity of a fellow Slavic and Orthodox Christian country such as Serbia. The events which led Russia into the First World War demonstrate, I think, quite clearly that this would be so. And anyone can see that the leadership in Germany, for example, is not the same and would not have responded in the same way as the Kaiser did in 1914. No one would have gone to war with Russia for the sake of Kosovo.

Finally, just to bring it back to Germany and the European Union, leadership matters in this instance as well. The European Union does not stand for the German domination of Europe and a leader like Kaiser Wilhelm II would never be party to such a monstrosity as the current EU. I firmly believe this is so because, contrary to what some may think (though I fail to see how), the EU does not benefit Germany in any way, no more than it benefits any other country which is to say not at all. The German people gain nothing from the EU, indeed, they have only served to be milked like a cow by it. The Germans are not dominating Europe by the EU but rather are simply the guilt-ridden beast of burden that the EU bureaucrats, from various countries, are using to carry them to a life of wealth and power while the heart of western civilization is going to ruin. The EU political class has benefited from the EU but no country has benefited from it at all. The wealthier countries are exploited by it, they give and others take but even the most indebted member states, such as Greece, no more benefit from the EU than an addict benefits from his drug dealer. I will say though, to end on a note that Peter Hitchens just might agree with me on, whereas I do think President Putin has made some astounding errors, I do not think he can be compared to the leadership of those in power in countries such as Germany or Sweden or even the United States under Barrack Obama who, by their actions, have forced me to conclude that their “mistakes” are quite deliberate, that they generally despise their own people and are intentionally doing them harm. None more so, it seems, than Germany. Far from being about dominating Europe, the Germans will be lucky to even survive as a people thanks to the policies of the EU and their own government in Berlin.

Leadership matters. Russia was much better served when the Czar was in power, Germany was much better served when the Kaiser was in power and the English-speaking world was much better governed when the King still had at least some considerable influence and the House of Lords was not filled with political appointees. For that matter, America was much better governed when we had presidents that looked after American interests rather than trying to “make the world safe for democracy” or to cut us down to size because he thinks we’ve been too successful. Leadership does matter, the principles, the values (or the lack thereof) of leaders matters because they influence their decisions and those decisions have consequences. For myself, I look at the world today and would be very hard-pressed to name even a single country that is better governed now than it was in 1900. Leadership has changed dramatically and, in my view, clearly not for the better. I may be almost as sour in my estimation of the modern world as Peter Hitchens but I do think things have been better before. I absolutely do not agree that Putin is in any way or by any measure preferable to the Czar and while I do agree that Russia is not the same as the Soviet Union and should not be treated the same way, I would also extend the same courtesy to the Germans and say that Germany is not the same as it was under Hitler nor the same as it was under the Kaiser and should not be judged as such. Leadership has changed and those changes have made a significant difference, for themselves and the world.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Making a Prophet of Mussolini

In 1945, in the last days of the war, when his “Italian Social Republic” was in its death throes, Benito Mussolini made the following prediction about the future:
“The present war will produce an alteration in order of rank. Great Britain, for instance, is destined to become a second-class power, in view of disclosure of Russian and American strength…In a short time, Fascism will once more shine on the horizon. First of all, because of the persecution to which the Liberals will subject it, showing that liberty is something to reserve to oneself and refuse to others.”
And, the fact is, the liberals of today are working very hard to prove the Duce’s words to have been prophetic. In Germany, the Vice Chancellor recently said that the anti-immigration party “Alternative for Germany” should be placed under government monitoring as they do to neo-Nazis. In Sweden there has been widespread suppression of crime statistics that cast “multiculturalism” in a bad light. In the Netherlands, the police recently came to a man’s home to warn him against saying anything against immigrants on social media. In Britain, The Guardian recently announced they will not be allowing comments on any articles dealing with race, immigration or Islam. Seems they didn’t like what the public had to say on these subjects.

So, we can see very clearly that freedom of the press applies only to those who support the leftist position. Freedom of speech, likewise, applies only to those who support the leftist agenda and not those who oppose it. Witness, in the UK, how critics of Islam are banned from entering the country while Islamic fundamentalists can march down the streets of London bearing signs calling for Westminster Abbey to become a mosque or for the flag of Islam to fly over Buckingham Palace. We can also see very clearly that democracy only applies when the people agree with the left-wing power bloc. France, The Netherlands and Ireland vote against the EU and it doesn’t count. On an issue where the leftist agenda is widely opposed, people are not allowed to vote at all. No one in Europe voted to allow hordes of refugees into their countries, it just sort of happened and the rules allowing the “free movement of peoples” were all made by the EU whose decision-making body is not elected at all and never has been. So much for democracy.

Mussolini is being proven prophetic and, take notice, it is the left that is doing so and not the right. The left has continuously silenced any reasonable discussion about things like race, immigration, national sovereignty, military action and so on by accusing anyone who touches such subjects of “racism” and labeled them “Nazis”. This tactic has worked quite well. The only problem which they seemed to have overlooked is that there is one group of people who do not mind being called Nazis and that is the modern-day Nazis themselves. So, the liberal/leftist smear campaign has been making good progress at ensuring that everyone but the actual Nazis are cowed into submission. There are also, again, helping to make the case for those who have said that totalitarianism is the only way. They have done so by being so totalitarian themselves so that, as a result, people are going to feel as though they have only two options before them: a totalitarian state whose values I oppose or a totalitarian state whose values I support. The modern Fascists or National Socialists could never have done this on their own. The public was too comfortable to ever go for that kind of extremism and no one wants to think of themselves as being the “bad guys”. However, the leftists have labeled ANY opposition to their worldview as “extremist”, any national pride as “nationalism” and any effort to protect the future of your own people and culture as “racism” so that ordinary people are increasingly finding themselves in the “extremist” camp without having moved a muscle on their own.

They have also, by their heavy-handed efforts to suppress any and all dissent, helped to cast current political divisions in the same way that Mussolini did, again, making a prophet of the late Duce of Fascism. The bombastic black shirt also said, much earlier in his career:
“The struggle between the two worlds can permit no compromises. The new cycle which begins with the ninth year of the Fascist regime places the alternative in even greater relief -- either we or they, either their ideas or ours, either our State or theirs!”
The liberals are backing him up with their suppression efforts, essentially making the same case. They are making the case to reasonable people, supporters of constitutional government, that they will stop at nothing to achieve their goals and you are simply weak and foolish to carry on playing by the rules. There is no, ‘give and take’ and no point in making concessions, they are doing their best to make this a contest of “you suppress us or we will suppress you” with nothing in between as much as some might like to pretend that there is.

You think you have free speech? Depends on your politics or your skin color or your religion. A French magazine can publish numerous cartoons mocking Christians, a few mocking Jews but one mocking Islam gets them all shot and western governments give cover to the murderers by self-censoring. One set of rules for them, another for us. If you are President Obama, or the mayor of any of the numerous “sanctuary cities” in these United States, you can refuse to enforce immigration laws and that’s perfectly fine but if you are a county clerk named Kim Davis in Kentucky who refuses to enforce a court ruling on granting gay “marriage” licenses, you go straight to jail, do not pass go and do not collect $200. They can do it, but you can’t. You have to follow the rules but they don’t. If you’re a socialist mp from Scotland you can be on a first-name basis with the most murderous dictators in the world, spout treason constantly while taking a paycheck from the Queen and be a national celebrity, a left-wing icon but if you’re name is Tommy Robinson and you say you are against the Islamization of Britain, even while French-kissing a Black, Jewish, homosexual you are going to be called a “Nazi” and have the police set on you until they find some reason to put you behind bars.

All over the western world there are examples and ordinary people are asking themselves, “If they can do these things, why can’t we?” The ruling, liberal elites are making Mussolini’s case for him; either they win or we do, there can be no compromises because while you play by the rules, they do not and they can get away with it and you cannot. Think you have democracy? In Great Britain, polls have shown a vast majority of the public wants no more immigration, which includes a huge number of immigrants themselves and yet neither the Labour Party nor the Tory Party or the Liberal Democrats would ever think of actually halting immigration. Vote for more benefits and fewer military forces, that’s great but vote for no immigration or even slightly less immigration and you are out of bounds. You are only allowed to have democracy when the majority is in line with what their liberal rulers want. Again, people are going to be or are being faced with the question of why they should bother carrying on this charade of liberal democracy with the rule of law, civil rights, checks and balances and all the rest when only one side adheres to it? After being told that it’s wrong to think your people are better than other peoples to being told that it’s wrong to prefer your own people to other peoples to being told that it’s wrong to even want your own people to *survive* as a people because your “representative democracy” has given you rulers that feel as though they represent foreign peoples as much as if not more than you, after a certain point you are going to stop and wonder if there is anyone on your side or if there ever has been.

No one should be surprised if people come to that and see only the likes of Hitler looking smugly back at them. After all, these people have had it pounded into there heads that they are “Nazis” even without such seemingly minor details as a world war or genocide. You don’t hate anyone, you don’t wish harm on anyone and you would certainly never harm anyone yourself but if you would prefer that France be populated by French people rather than Arabs or Africans you are called a Nazi. You don’t want to see anyone bullied, harassed, tortured or killed but you think homosexuality shouldn’t be celebrated so you are called a Nazi. You believe in free speech, free elections, limited government but that the rules should apply to everyone no matter their race or religion, once again, you are called a Nazi. If you agree that your people have made mistakes in the past, done some pretty terrible things to others over the centuries but that you and your ancestors are not the worst human beings in the history of the world, you are still called a Nazi. If they keep this up, not only is the slur going to lose its sting but our suffering, guilt-ridden masses are going to start to believe it is true.

After all, many are only one step away as it is. When you look at the totality of National Socialist Germany, you will find that most of it has been embraced by almost the whole of Europe. You have your environmentalism, your bans on smoking, the state guaranteeing you a job, the equality of all citizens, socialism (because even the people who thoughts Germans were a superior race didn’t think they were capable of succeeding in a competitive free market), old age pensions, the power of the state to seize land for the collective good, state controlled education and guaranteed higher education for all, centralized power and ultimately a pan-European super-state and so on. In other words, take out the racist stuff and the death penalty and there is near nothing in the platform of the National Socialist party that would be objectionable in Europe today. Hitler could have been just as dictatorial, just as aggressive, just as murderous as he was and if he had just not been a racist, he would have admirers all over the halls of power today. Obama might even have his face on a Christmas tree ornament instead of Chairman Mao. So, what modern German people are basically being told by their current masters is that the only thing really fundamentally wrong with Hitler was that he thought the German people were the best in the world when he should have thought, as they do, that Germans are the worst ever.

My new personal favorite in regards to this sort of thing came from an article by Andrew Roberts in “The Telegraph” which called Donald Trump “the Mussolini of America”. Upon reading his long and unimaginative article, the basis for this assertion by Mr. Roberts boiled down to nothing more than Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again”. Now, stop for a moment and think about what that means, about what message Mr. Roberts is (presumably) unintentionally sending. He’s basically saying that Mussolini wanted to make Italy great again, and we know Mussolini was a Fascist (he invented it) and so, therefore, anyone who wants to make their country “great” must be a Fascist too! Mussolini also predicted that nostalgia for Fascism would grow in Italy as people remembered ‘the good old days’. This too, the left is working hard to make prophetic in as much as they have seemingly declared national greatness, any sort of national pride and any desire for a people or their country to aspire to something better to be the sole domain of Fascism. If their aim is to prevent countries and peoples from being “great”, any time before they held power will easily become a focus of nostalgia. They are handing a victory to the enemies they claim to despise the most which they could not have won on their own.

So, what then, is the alternative? What is the cure for this illness, the answer to this dilemma? There is no easy solution. It rests on all of us. It rests on us to not be cowed by threats and insults. It rests on us to stand up for our people and our country and not allow ourselves to be so soured by current imperfections that we join the ranks of those who wish to destroy us. It rests on us to return to the values, the ethics and the faith that made us great and prosperous. Nothing can replace vigilance and the constant need to defend what we have. In the United States, the written Constitution was supposed to protect us from much of what afflicts us today but we have allowed it to be violated and ignored. In countries like Britain, Denmark or Norway, the Crown was supposed to protect the people from their government (as the Austrian Emperor once famously told President Teddy Roosevelt) but they have been allowed to be shackled and silenced with the support of the populace. We must also stand for something higher, something nobler and we must also resist the urge, encouraged by our leftist enemies, to turn on our own kind, in our own countries and those that are and have long been our closest allies. We have a unique ability none others can match to point back to a greater example, untainted by an political demagogue, that western civilization can take a just and righteous pride in. We can give people examples of heroic leadership that was as benevolent as it was glorious which none of our enemies from any corner of the political field can ever hope to compete with. We have the truth on our side and facts no one can change; it was our side that gave every people their own ‘Golden Age’.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

The E.U. and What Crisis Forgot

Today is the anniversary of the signing of the Maastricht Treaty which gave birth to the European Union as we know it today. However, before there was the European Union, there was the European Community, an economic bloc whose senior member was the European Coal and Steel Community. The statesmen who put this seemingly innocent organization together are regarded as the "Founding Fathers" of the European Union, though one would be inclined to believe that they would be horrified by what their child has grown into. That assumption comes from the fact that we are often told, such as in a recent article in the Catholic periodical Crisis Magazine, that these men were all devout and sincere Catholics while the European Union of today seems not only indifferent to Christianity but positively hostile to it. The article in question, "How the EU Betrayed Its Christian Founding Principles" points to the devout Catholic piety of these founders, French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman, French diplomat Jean Bonet, German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and Italian Prime Minister Alcide de Gasperi, how they were inspired by Christian morality, forgiveness, reconciliation, subsidiarity and the old Frankish empire of Charlemagne and how the modern EU falls so very short in all of those areas. The article stresses that these values need to be restored if the EU is to survive.

Frankly, I do not concur as I see the reformation of the EU as impossible and its survival as undesirable. These men may indeed have been very devout Catholics, I cannot say, but I cannot help but be somewhat skeptical. It is true, as the article states, that all but Adenauer are currently at varying points along the path to sainthood in the Catholic Church and Pope Francis has recently "fast-tracked" the cause for the canonization of the first Prime Minister of the Italian Republic Alcide de Gasperi but that is not enough to convince me. As stated before, the Catholic Church has also placed every single deceased pope since the Second Vatican Council on the path to sainthood (one having already achieved it via the innovative "fast-track" process) but considering that this same period has coincided with a rapid decline for Catholicism, I feel justified in my skepticism of the motives behind this sudden flurry of papal saints just as I do the drive to declare the Founding Fathers of the EU to be saints. Looking at either the Catholic Church or the European Union, if all of these canonizations are beyond reproach, one can only conclude that saintly leaders may not make the best leaders. Perhaps the old saying that, "great men are rarely good men" is more true than we would like to believe?

In any event, to focus on Schuman, Bonet and de Gasperi, if their goal was to remake the empire of Charlemagne they, and Crisis Magazine, seem to be forgetting the other key ingredient to that recipe alongside the shared faith of Christendom which was the Emperor. Monarchy is what they have forgotten and partly why I am skeptical of how intelligent, accomplished, devoutly Catholic men thought that they could do without it. For most of Christian history it was taken for granted that having an emperor was as essential as having a pope. It was the emperor who called most of the early councils of the Church, it was the emperor who was expected to defend and advance the faith that the Pope taught and was the combination of throne and altar that was the foundation of Christendom and the basis of what European unity there was in those days. It is simply impossible for me to look at these great statesmen as being too pristine in their piety considering that they were all republicans. If they truly wanted to restore Christendom, why were Schuman and Bonet not working for the restoration of the Kingdom of France, Adenauer for the restoration of the German Empire and why was Alcide de Gasperi not absolutely loyal to his own monarch, King Umberto II?

To me, this is the central, forgotten, element. These men started out with the economic integration of western Europe, based on republican regimes that looked to ensure the peace of Europe, not by forgiveness and reconciliation but by ensuring that all would be economically bound together that any conflict would be impossibly ruinous for all. No, it does not seem to me at all to be an effort to recreate the Europe of the Ages of Faith but rather an effort to gain the benefits of peace and unity by political and economic means rather than sincere faith and shared moral values. The only shared values of the West German, French and Italian republics were their shared glorification of the mob and lip-service to liberal idealism which has no moral foundation, no religious core and can never have as it is based on nothing but pride and vanity. Today, we see the results all too clearly. The mob is so easily manipulated and led astray that today the leaders of the EU can all but ignore them. They feel no connection to their people at all as they feel just as responsible (if not more) for the welfare of people from other countries than they do for their own.

The article in question notes those moral failings of the EU members which have occurred when supposedly "conservative" governments were in power, which is true and it is no wonder. They have a conservatism built on sand, they are playing a rigged game and even in monarchies like Britain or Spain they have adopted the leftist-republican mentality. These parties are shamed into doing what anyone with common sense knows to be wrong but they do it because they are playing on the leftist field, by leftist standards and so they are constantly having to give in so that they may avoid being condemned as "evil" (racist, intolerant, bigoted etc) by the leftist measure of right and wrong. That is also why, if things continue as they are, only those who are truly evil and don't care who knows it and are comfortable with the title will be left standing as the only alternative. We must refuse to play by their rules, we must stop submitting to their double-standards, stop being cowed by their name-calling and stand and fight for our own before we have nothing left to fight for.
Vivat imperator in aeternum!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Republican Self-Destruction in France

It was on this day in 1934 that a collection of "fascists" in France known as the Far-Right Leagues attempted to take down the Third Republic in a coup at the Palais Bourbon. Obviously, it failed but it did prompt the leftist government of the French Third Republic to pass a law banning political militias, restricting the freedom of association and outlawing any party or group that aimed at overthrowing the French Republic. This, in itself, illustrates a common hypocrisy with most major European republics still today which is that they glorify the will of the people and majority rule and political freedom while at the same time saying, basically, that the French people have a republic that gives them the right to have any government they want except for anything other than the republic. However, it gets better than that because the law was never fully put into effect.

In the end, the Far-Right Leagues were untouched by this new law and the ONLY political organization that was actually dissolved because of it was the monarchist movement known as "French Action". And what was the result? Well, as we know, the French Third Republic did fall but it certainly was not the lonely royalists of French Action that destroyed it, it was Adolf Hitler who destroyed it and it was replaced by the State of France which was dominated by many of the same people of those Far-Right Leagues of the 1930's who the law was supposedly aimed at eliminating. Had it not been the for the ultimate Allied victory, the State of France might still be around today and yet the left in France (as in many, many other western countries) have not learned the lesson. They still routinely suppress reasonable debate and thus clear the field of everyone but their most unreasonable enemies who otherwise moderate people are then forced to turn to as their only option for survival.

Monarch Profile: King Carlo Emanuele IV of Piedmont-Sardinia

A monarch with a tragic but immensely gallant personal story was Carlo Emanuele IV. He was born Prince of Piedmont Carlo Emanuele Ferdinando Maria di Savoia at the Royal Palace in Turin on May 24, 1751, the first-born son of the Duke of Savoy, later King Vittorio Amadeo III and his Queen consort the Infanta Maria Antoinetta of Spain. Even in his youth he had many trials to endure. He health was fragile, he was often unwell and was possibly epileptic. As usual, he was taught extensively of the very long and colorful history of the venerable House of Savoy. The stories of warrior princes and crusader knights must have seemed an impossibly difficult example to follow for the young Prince of Piedmont but he seized on the cases of those Savoy princes with a reputation for great faith and piety, such as Blessed Amadeo IX, as examples he could follow. Despite his physical frailties, or perhaps in part because of them, he grew into a refined, handsome young man of deeply sincere Catholic faith. He was well mannered, courtly and a man who felt his emotions intensely.

When his father became King of Piedmont-Sardinia, he immediately began political negotiations for an appropriate marriage for his son Carlo Emanuele. Through his sisters the House of Savoy had already forged marital ties with the French royal House of Bourbon and King Vittorio Amadeo III wanted to strengthen these ties even further. In 1775 he arranged a marriage for his son to Princess Marie Clotilde of France, the sister of King Louis XVI. She was sixteen and had been prepared for this and from the time she was very young had been taught to speak Italian in preparation for her marriage to the heir of the House of Savoy. The marriage, however, was not without some unkind gossip. At the French court of Versailles, where beauty and a glamorous image was paramount among the status-conscious aristocrats, Marie Clotilde did not fit in, being rather reserved, shy and somewhat overweight. Cruel French elites mocked her for her size, saying that the Prince of Piedmont was getting two brides instead of one. However, if she had any fears about the court in Turin, they were quickly dispelled. She was, like her husband, a devout Catholic of sincere faith and this mattered more to him than her dress size. When someone commented to him about his bride’s reputation for being overweight, Carlo Emanuele was not bothered, saying that he had, “more to worship”.

Marie Clotilde was accepted with sincere affection by her Italian husband and was warmly embraced into the family by her new sisters-in-law as well. The only misfortune, as far as King Vittorio Amadeo III was concerned, was that the couple were never able to have any children. Nonetheless, they had a happy marriage and both were equally devoted to the happiness of the other and loved each other completely and totally. Their religious faith was the backbone of their marriage and they lived a modest but contentedly fulfilled life together. Their shared faith was something they would need for beyond the borders of Piedmont, trouble was brewing as Revolution began to break out in France. The Savoy monarchy opened its doors to refugees from the Terror and the political turmoil and religious persecution in France affected Carlo Emanuele deeply. In 1794 he joined the Third Order of St Dominic as Carlo Emanuele of St Hyacinth. Meanwhile, his father had declared war on republican France in an act of monarchist solidarity but the small Piedmontese army was quickly defeated and forced to cede territory in the armistice of Cherasco.

On October 16, 1796 Vittorio Amadeo III died and his son succeeded him as King Carlo Emanuele IV of Piedmont-Sardinia. It was not an enviable position which he inherited. The economy was in ruins, the army was in shambles and French agents were doing everything possible to encourage republican revolution in the country. The new monarch had no romantic illusions about being king and referred to his crown as a “crown of thorns”. Under the leadership of Napoleon, France also made renewed efforts to dominate Piedmont and King Carlo Emanuele IV was powerless to resist. Eventually the French seized control of all of the ancestral lands of the Savoy, reducing their holdings to the island of Sardinia. The King and Queen went into exile in Tuscany but French troops soon set about the conquest of the entire Italian peninsula. The royal couple moved to Sardinia and remained there for six months. During that time the King enacted a number of reforms and opened his ports to the British fleet to give what support and cooperation he could to the Allied cause. At last Turin was liberated from the French by the Imperial Russian Army and the legitimist Czar Paul I invited King Carlo Emanuele IV to return to his capital city. However, upon landing, the King found that the Russians had departed and Piedmont was occupied by the Austrians who were not supportive of his return and hoped to retain control of as much of Italy as possible.

The Savoy King and Queen were forced to relocate to a new residence near Florence but were under constant threat, particularly as Napoleon gained more and more control over France. They had to move to various cities and in 1802, after coming down with typhus, Queen Maria Clotilde died and King Carlo Emanuele IV was inconsolable with grief at the loss of his beloved wife. Unable to carry on without her, at the Palazzo Colonna in Rome Carlo Emanuele IV abdicated his throne on June 4, 1802. His younger brother then became King Vittorio Emanuele I. The former monarch decided to devote the rest of his life to God and as he had long been a passionate supporter of the restoration of the Jesuits he joined the Society of Jesus as a novice in 1815, six months after the order was restored. He lived at the Jesuit house near the church of Sant’Andrea al Quirinale in Rome until his death on October 6, 1810. There was a small group far from Italy that marked his passing as well as his own former subjects. In 1807 he inherited the Jacobite claim to the thrones of England, Scotland, Ireland and France and was regarded by die-hard Jacobites as “King Charles IV”. He had been good friends with and a frequent guest of his cousin Prince Henry, Cardinal York, the last of the Stuart line but never made any public acknowledgement of this inheritance or any claim on the British throne.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

So, Here's What Happened...

No, as anyone who is on Twitter knows, I did not drop dead several months ago. I was, however, unable to access my blog or anything other than what I could do on my mobile. What happened was a series of problems. First, and the one period of my absence for which I am responsible, after a period of growing frustration I decided to take some time off to cool down. I had growing concerns about what I was doing, which increasingly seemed ineffective or totally counter to what I was trying to do based on the feedback that I was getting. During that time I never came to any final decision about what I was going to do but, whatever had happened, I certainly planned to inform everyone. However, that was not possible due to a very frightening family problem.

One morning my mother's heart stopped and she took a very nasty fall, hitting her face on something quite hard. Her heart did start again, on its own, but she could not get up and no one was around to help her. She had to stay there on the floor until my father got home who immediately came and got me to help get her off the floor and into a chair. After persuading her to go the hospital to get checked out we learned that my mother has a very serious heart condition and that if such an episode happened again we would almost certainly lose her. This was, as you can imagine, a very difficult period to get through and we have yet to obtain any real resolution. Once that happened, everything else had to take second place as our family pulled together to help mom who was, and remains, able to do very little for herself. We still don't know exactly what can be done, medically, for her. It took a very long time to get her any treatment at all as this happened at a time (Thanksgiving to Christmas) when many doctors were on vacation.

Once I had the time to even think about updating here, another problem arose which was that my internet connection failed. I called the provider (the local telephone co-op) and got service restored but before I could turn around it had gone out again and efforts to resolve that situation became very frustrating, very fast. Finally, I decided to give up on the old service and give a satellite internet provider a try which took time to set up, schedule, install and all of that. Once that was done, I had service in the library but not my office and I had to order a booster to get signal where I needed it and finally had to have my computer-tech sister get that set up and working, which ended up taking a while itself because she was not able to get it to work and had to go ask some other experts and come down the following week before everything was finally up and running. That was yesterday (or the day before yesterday by the time this goes up probably). So, that is my explanation for my long absence.

Now, as I mentioned, not everything has been resolved and things cannot just go back to business as usual. I now have much more demands on my time than I did before and would not be able to post as often as I had been even if I wanted to. There may not even be a reason to as I may no longer have any readers (it would certainly be understandable). So, all I can say for right now is that I have not gone anywhere, I will probably be posting in the future but it will necessarily be much more infrequent than before. I do still feel as though I should work out the dilemma that caused my original absence which I have yet to do. So, that is all for now and for anyone who is still checking in and reads this, I thank you for your patience and especially thank those who did not choose to think the worse of me for my absence.
Until next time,
stay "mad" my friends.
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