Thursday, March 30, 2017

Monarch Profile: Emperor Leopold II

His Royal Highness Peter Leopold Josef Anton Joachim Pius Gotthard von Habsburg-Lothringen, Prince Imperial and Archduke of Austria, Prince of Hungary and Bohemia, Prince of Tuscany was born in Vienna, Austria on May 5, 1747 the ninth child and third son of Emperor-Elect Francis Stephen and Empress Maria Theresa, Archduchess of Austria and Queen of Hungary. When his older brother, Archduke Charles, died of smallpox early in life in 1761 he became next in line for the Habsburg throne after his eldest brother who would be Emperor Joseph II. As it was not expected that he would inherit the numerous thrones of the House of Habsburg, as a child he was first given an education aimed at his joining the priesthood. However, even while quite young he did not take well to his religious education and it soon became clear he was not cut out to be a priest. Instead, it was decided to ‘farm him out’ to Italy and as a child he was engaged to marry the heiress of the Duchy of Modena. This never came to be but Italy was still in his future.

In an effort to keep as much of Italy within the Habsburg family as possible, an agreement was made to marry him to the Infanta Maria Luisa of Spain, daughter of His Catholic Majesty King Carlos III, and make him heir to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany which was then held by his father. As such, when Francis Stephan died in 1765 and his older brother became Emperor Joseph II, Archduke Leopold became the Grand Duke of Tuscany, though even as a young man he had little to do. His formidable mother, Empress Maria Theresa, appointed most of the officials who actually administered the country and his brother the Emperor also made sure that Tuscany stayed in step with the rest of the Habsburg lands. As such he had little to do in Florence and, unfortunately, occupied much of his time with a string of extramarital affairs. However, he was not without ambition and ideas of his own and in 1770 he was able to free himself from Vienna and take matters in hand himself.

After taking power into his own hands, Grand Duke Leopold lowered taxes, enacted a public works program, streamlined the bureaucracy, cut government regulations, abolished the death penalty and tried to appropriate the property of the Church, which he did not succeed at but which was illustrative of his problems with the Catholic hierarchy and the source of considerable tensions between himself and the Pope. He was not very popular with his Italian subjects, however, as his entire personality was very much at odds with the culture of Tuscany. He was austere, private, preferred to live simply and, like his brother, wanted rationality in all things. His people rather liked displays of pageantry, grandeur and had become used to the way things had been since the days of the Medici. There were corruptions, but they were corruptions the people had become comfortable with and the tension with the Church also caused problems. All in all, Leopold was simply too German or Austrian for his very Italian subjects. His improvements of public health, provision for the mentally ill and abolition of corporal punishment were things most people approved of, but he simply did not act like a typical Italian prince was expected to. Where he was expected to be grand, lavish and vibrant, he was plain, not very sociable and rather reclusive.

The family life of Leopold II was rather similar. His Spanish Bourbon wife, Maria Luisa, was rather more devoutly religious than he was but she was also a devoted, tolerant wife who was very supportive of her husband, ignored his numerous affairs and seemed genuinely attached to him despite her being more of the warm and friendly type and he being more of the cold, silent type. Nonetheless, their marriage, odd as it looked, seemed to work for them as they had sixteen children together, securing the future of the Habsburg-Lorraine dynasty. As far as his older brother was concerned, Leopold and Joseph were as close as two siblings of their nature could be. Leopold was supportive of his brother, approved of his policies and the two were essentially on the same page on most any issue. He had genuine concern for him, yet was still cold and calculating enough to keep his distance from Joseph II over policies which were unpopular, even though Leopold himself approved of them. At the end of his reign, Joseph II was beset by problems; unrest in Belgium, unrest in Hungary, tensions with the Church, opposition to his policy of Germanization, but when he was on his deathbed and tried to have his younger brother take over as regent, Leopold refused and it was some time after the death of Emperor Joseph II that Leopold left Florence for Vienna in 1790.

Once he became Emperor-Elect Leopold II of the Holy Roman Empire/First German Reich, Leopold became one of those monarchs who falls between the two larger personalities. Historians tend to give little attention to his reign, Leopold II serving as little more than a temporary bridge between the reigns of Emperor Joseph II and Emperor Francis II (later Francis I of Austria). Yet, Leopold II came along at a critical time in the history of Europe and western civilization in general. The French Revolution was building steam, and without France, Austria had no support against the growing powers of Prussia to the north and Russia to the east. The Ottoman Turks were also a constant irritant to the south. Within the empire, there was also unrest among the Hungarians, Bohemians, Belgians, the clergy and the nobility. Emperor Leopold II tried to steer a middle course, repealing just enough of the policies of his autocratic brother to gain support but holding to most of the same principles.

Leopold II adopted a ‘divide an conquer’ strategy to restore imperial rule over Belgium, then secured a pact with the King of Prussia to oppose the revolution in France. However, this was an agreement neither had any intention of acting on, at least for the time being, but it served to prevent any moves by Russia in the east while the German states were engaged in the west. He arranged a truce with the Turks to put off any trouble on that front and made renewed efforts at friendship with the British, aided by the fact that his brother Emperor Joseph II had been the most vociferous European monarch in condemning the recent rebellion in the British colonies in America. He relented on some of his brother’s efforts to bring “rationality” to Catholicism but still maintained state controls over the Church and papal pronouncements. He maintained many of the public services of his brother but revoked emancipation and returned some peasants to serfdom in order to win back the support of the Bohemian nobility. He placated the Hungarians by having a Hungarian coronation (which his brother had never done) and granting the Magyar nobles a more prominent voice in national affairs, seen by some as the first step toward the eventual “dual-monarchy”.

Naturally, the growing French Revolution increasingly occupied the mind of the crowned heads of Europe. Emperor Leopold II had taken no action against the revolutionaries, at times seemed to think the situation had resolved itself with King Louis’ forced acceptance of a constitutional monarchy, yet later Leopold called for monarchist solidarity in opposing the Revolution after the arrest of the French King and Queen. However, again, he took no action, refusing to break his scheduled priorities and focusing on his peace negotiations with the Turks. The situation in France was worsening by the day when Emperor Leopold II suddenly dropped dead in Vienna in March of 1792 after only two years on the imperial throne, passing the Habsburg dominions to his son who became Emperor Francis II, later Emperor Francis I of Austria. It would be left to him to be the primary continental opposition to the forces of the French Revolution, the empire of Napoleon and to lead the forces of counterrevolution in Europe in the Nineteenth Century.

All in all, Emperor Leopold II did not make much of an impression during his reign. Perhaps, had he reigned for more than two years, he would be viewed differently. However, as it was, he had much the same views as his brother and predecessor, while being more politically flexible, less autocratic and more inclined to be pragmatic. This had made him, in turn, more criticized by both ends of the political spectrum. Still, at a time when Europe was on the brink of upheavals that would be almost unprecedented, Emperor Leopold II did secure his countries, ending less important problems to focus on the growing threat of revolution and took the first steps towards an alliance of the crowned heads of Europe to stand opposed to the spread of carnivorous republicanism. He tended not to be a very likable man but no one could call him an incapable one.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Mad Rant: The Arbitrary Rule of Zuckerberg

Yesterday, during the day, I decided to check Facebook on my phone. I had to log-in again and was told that a post of mine had been removed for “violating community standards”. I was warned that my page could be deleted if this sort of atrocity happened again. Before being allowed to continue logging-in I was obliged to review the “community standards”. No big deal, right? In the grand scheme of things, no, but it did infuriate me as the sort of petty tyranny common in tin-pot dictatorships. I was annoyed because it first took a while to find out exactly what post had been removed. Finally, I found out it was a picture, since needless drama long ago convinced me to limit my Facebook activity to posting royal pictures and little to nothing else, and that picture was a World War I postcard of German/Prussian Crown Prince Wilhelm. I include, at great risk of causing offense it seems, the picture here so that everyone can see what was so atrocious as to warrant my being singled out for a severe reprimand and threat from Mr. Zuckerberg. Take a good look at it. -->

Now, if you are like me (and if so, you have my sympathies), you may be wondering just what it is about this picture that was offensive. You see, that is another part of the problem that makes this infuriating. FB will tell you, after some clicking around, what image is the cause of your misfortune, but they will not tell you exactly what about it is offensive. So, what is the point of the warning? How can you take care to never do wrong again if you do not know what you did wrong in the first place? I have seen some pictures of the Crown Prince that I could imagine someone complaining about; pictures of him in his NSKK uniform which many mistake for a Nazi Brownshirt outfit or pictures of him in his regimental “Death’s Head” Hussar uniform which some have mistaken for an SS uniform. As you can see, this is neither of those. This is a standard Imperial Germany army uniform for general officers. The only thing I could possibly come up with is the Iron Cross he is wearing. It doesn’t make sense but that is the only thing I could imagine that would be even recognizable to the public. Is the uniform that distinctive? The Order of the Black Eagle Star? How many could even recognize the Crown Prince himself?

It would of course be so much easier if FB would say, explicitly, what rule it was that I violated with this picture. But they don’t. They tell you to review their “community standards” none of which include anything explicit about what is not allowed to be posted. There is a lot of vague talk about being nice and promoting “diversity” (whatever that means) but it is all exactly that; *vague*. There is nothing concrete, nothing specific. I can only assume, since they will not tell me, that it was the Iron Cross medal that was the problem based on the fact that it was later used during the Nazi period and, since the swastika has been banned in so many places, the Iron Cross is often used to replace the swastika in artwork about the World War II period. It is not that different from the way that some have started to call for the banning of the old Imperial German ensign since many neo-Nazis took to displaying it since their beloved Nazi flag is outlawed. As such, many of the symbols of Imperial Germany are now seen as being synonymous with Nazi Germany even though they long pre-date the Nazi era. The Iron Cross, for example, originated in the 19th Century during the Napoleonic Wars.

Now, again, I could be wrong about what the actual problem with the picture was but divining that is made even more difficult due to the fact that whatever these vague “community standards” are, they are not consistently enforced. It is entirely arbitrary and depends on what gets reported and who is doing the reviewing. This is a perfect example of the distinction I have often pointed out that Bishop Bossuet talked about in his defense of absolute monarchy from a Catholic, Biblical basis. He argued for absolute power but made a distinction between absolute power and arbitrary power. A monarch, Bossuet argued, should have absolute power but no one should have arbitrary power as that would mean that no one is ever safe, no one would ever know if they are in compliance or not. Similarly, FB is, as the left with their selective support for private property and big business, never tires of pointing out, is a private entity and as such has absolute power over what is or is not allowed on their site. I have no problem with that. What I do have a problem with is their vague and arbitrarily enforced “community standards” that make it next to impossible to know what exactly is or is not allowed.

You see, there are a number of other pictures I have posted that, assuming someone mistook this picture of the Crown Prince for something Nazi-related, that one would think would be more likely to violate “community standards” than this one. I have posted a few pictures of German princes in Nazi-era German army or air force uniforms. I have posted a picture of the sultans of Malaysia alongside a Japanese general who was (quite unjustly) executed as a war criminal. Yet, for some reason, nothing was said or done about those but a picture of the last German Crown Prince is deleted. Likewise, I have posted a number of pictures of German royals wearing one or more Iron Crosses. These were awarded fairly freely in the Napoleonic Wars, the Franco-Prussian War and World War I before the Nazis ever came along and since most German princes served in the military, German monarchs and princes in uniforms with this decoration are extremely common.

There is an agenda at work here, though I doubt traditional, overt reactionaries are significant enough to be on their radar, and that is why this has to be arbitrary. So, for example, FB or Twitter could not ban the swastika completely or else they would have to ban all the left-wing accounts that put swastikas on Donald Trump or Marine LePen. The left actually was confronted this problem when everyone in the United States started banning the Confederate flag. Some leftists started to complain because they wanted to buy a Confederate flag to take to a street demonstration to burn it and trample on it to show how virtuous they are, but found out it was no longer so easy to get a hold of. You may have noticed the same thing regarded accusations of racism. Not all that long ago it was the left that said they wanted a “colorblind” society, because race was just a “social construct” after all but now, they are saying that it is racist to say that you are colorblind or deny that race is real because they actually do want policies that favor one race over another so long as it is the race that supports them. So, it’s only racist, sexist or in any way offensive when one side does it but not when they do it. Hence, the new rule of liberalism is that their power must be arbitrary.

As I have mentioned many times before, this is where the “Anti-fascist” crowd is working every day to prove the original Fascist, Mussolini, right in what he said about the Liberals. He said that they love to talk about freedom, liberty and rights but that these wonderful things are only for them and their supporters, not for their enemies. It has become so blatant and so common these days that even the mainstream, milquetoast conservatives are starting to take notice. The mask is coming off, I think because the left is so outrage-driven that they have worked themselves up into a frenzy so that, as Mark Steyn recently said, “You’re Hitler, I’m Hitler, everybody’s Hitler”, they know nothing about history or any subject really, all they know about Hitler is that he was a bad guy and anyone who is not one of them must be Hitler. They get offended, they go straight to Hitler, no passing “Go” and no collecting 200 dollars. Free speech? Sure, free speech for them to call you a Nazi but no free speech for you to say you would like to enforce immigration laws or post a picture of the German Kaiser’s firstborn on Facebook. Free elections? Sure, free elections so long as their side wins. If not, have the people vote again until they give the “right” answer. Freedom of association? Sure, if you are in the fashion business and don’t want to dress Melania Trump, that’s fine. But if you’re in the wedding cake business and don’t want to bake a cake for the lesbian biker couple down the street, your life is as good as ruined. It’s becoming more clear everyday and I hope more people start to wake up and come to their senses because it is making me a very, …Mad Monarchist.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

An Overview of the Nguyen Dynasty of Vietnam

The Nguyen Dynasty of Vietnam has probably suffered from more unjust bad press than any other in the thousands of years of Vietnamese history. Part of this is because it was the last imperial dynasty, the most recent and thus the most intensely studied (though still nowhere near as much as it should be) and thus with greater coverage comes greater amounts of opinions and judgments, including negative and unfair ones. However, I have no doubt the biggest reason for the excessive and undue criticism of the Nguyen reign is simply because it was the last imperial dynasty and what came after it was a totally foreign system of government, based on a totally foreign ideology and, as in any such situation, those who usurped power from the Nguyen emperors had to make them look as bad as possible in order to justify their own treason and radical transformation of the “Land of the Soaring Dragon”. The last major force to stand by the Nguyen was the French but that was both a blessing and a curse as the Nguyen reign largely coincided with the period of French colonial rule and has, to date, remained tainted by it, whether rightly or wrongly.

Personally, I have a great deal of sympathy for the Nguyen Dynasty and not just because they were the last incarnation of traditional monarchy in Vietnam but because I have seen and known and talked to people on just about every side of the issue when the monarchy came down and Vietnam came apart. The Nguyen emperors, despite what their detractors say, were never negligent. One can look back with the benefit of hindsight and say they made mistakes but in every case one can see very easily, if one cares to, why they acted the way they did. The fact is that they were faced with a succession of insoluble problems that were unprecedented in the very long history of the Vietnamese nation. Once they became, not by choice, entwined with the French, it is also quite clear that the French made some serious errors in their approach to Vietnam. Yet, a careful study of those involved will show that many in the French colonial leadership were themselves acting in the way they thought best and were truly mystified by the increasing opposition to their presence in Vietnam.

Having looked at all twelve (or thirteen depending on how one chooses to number them) emperors of the Nguyen dynasty, I hope it will be easier to see that the negative interpretation given to their reign is a largely unfair one. The Nguyen era was one of great color, drama, heroism and tragedy with the Vietnamese emperors increasingly without exception being forced to choose between a selection of bad options. Starting with Emperor Gia Long, we see a prince who endured incredible hardships, who showed extreme tenacity and who rose, like a phoenix from the ashes, to reunite his country and establish a powerful empire. Today, he is often criticized for not modernizing and strengthening his country in preparation for the arrival of the French. However, he had spent his entire life fighting and was finally victorious and he decided, not unreasonably, that his country needed stability, a return to traditional values and an emphasis on infrastructure rather than a powerful military. Even with this emphasis, given the amount of peasant unrest that occurred, it would seem hard for any reasonable observer to find much fault in his priorities.

Under Emperor Minh Mang, Vietnam, or “The Great South”, reached a high point in its long history, yet he as well as his successors Thieu Tri and Tu Duc have had their reigns tainted by the persecution of Christians. There were some horrific acts of persecution to be sure, however, the Nguyen emperors were not the bloodthirsty beasts they were often portrayed as. They didn’t really want to kill Christians, they simply wanted to frighten them into leaving their country, fearing, and not unjustly so, that the colonizers would come after the missionaries. The Nguyen emperors also knew the situation was dangerous and were not ignorant of world affairs which is why they tried to time crackdowns to coincide with events in Europe that, they hoped, would ensure the French were too involved elsewhere to move against them. Ultimately, as we know, this did not work and the French armies arrived.

At that point, under Emperor Tu Duc, the Vietnamese fought back fiercely and rightly so. The Christians in Vietnam had, all too often, strayed for spiritual matters into the political sphere and attached themselves to rebel groups or rivals for the throne. They should not have done this and to my mind have little room to complain when they were then treated as enemies by the imperial court. However, it was the native anti-Nguyen dynasty forces which really doomed independent Vietnam and they should be held to blame more than Tu Duc and his immediate successors. The Nguyen imperial armies were doing quite well against the French who had no experience fighting in Southeast Asia and were dropping like flies from disease and heat exhaustion in the sweltering country. However, a native rebellion which aimed to take down the dynasty then rose up and the emperor could not effectively combat both. He recognized that while the French were demanding certain concessions and favorable treatment and so on, they were not threatening to tear down the dynasty as the rebels were. Like any good Confucian, upholding filial piety, Tu Duc came to terms with the French and turned his army on the rebels to preserve his dynasty.

A period of chaos ensued caused by Tu Duc having no sons of his own and by the French pressing for greater control over more and more of the country. Vietnam had three emperors in one year, 1883, two of which were murdered and one forced to commit suicide. The French, of course, took full advantage of this confusion to strengthen their own position and were able to pose as the guardians of the emperors against the scheming mandarins who were trying to usurp or murder them. In the years that followed, some emperors opposed the French (Ham Nghi, Thanh Thai, Duy Tan) and all ended up exiled while others cooperated, albeit always more grudgingly than is generally known (Dong Khanh, Khai Dinh) and were able to retain their position. Personally, I can sympathize with both positions. On the one hand, the French were overreaching and many educated Vietnamese who appreciated the advancements France brought to their country still pressed for them to simply adhere to the protectorate treaty they had agreed to and to stop violating it. It is understandable that the Vietnamese would want to fight to restore their independence. However, they could never win and I can also understand those who cooperated with the French, who recognized that resistance would see them destroyed and that taking the time to strengthen the monarchy and use more subtle methods with the French to obtain similar goals was the wiser policy.

Looking particularly at the period of the last two Nguyen emperors, Khai Dinh and Bao Dai, both of whom were as cooperative as possible with the French, we can see that the French should have been more faithful to the protectorate treaty and stopped taking power in local government at the expense of the emperor. They assumed that the deference showed him and the sacrosanct nature of his spiritual position was sufficient to maintain his lofty place with the public. This was not so and the French had a hard time dealing with this, some sincerely wondering why the emperors were so unpopular with certain segments of society, it never even occurring to them that *they* were the reason and that monarchs who were most agreeable to the French were often the most ridiculed by the unhappy public.

When the traditional monarchy came to an end, in the last year of World War II, the dynasty was again placed in an impossible position. Starting out under the control of the French, they were then offered independence under the control of the Japanese. Realistically, there was nothing the emperor could do but go along with this and take the opportunity that presented itself. The brief months of the Japanese-sponsored Empire of Vietnam, offered immense promise if only it had been adhered to and maintained. By the time it was established, the Japanese were clearly fighting a losing battle and would soon be gone. If all had come together at that point, Vietnam could have emerged as an independent power, maintaining their existing, traditional system (which, to their credit, the French had never done away with) and avoiding the decades of fratricidal warfare that followed. However, that was not to be and, again, it was through no fault of the dynasty.

The French Republic had done themselves no favors by inculcating the educated Vietnamese with the perverse values of the Revolution. The Vietnamese could see as well as anyone that, not only did “liberty, equality and brotherhood” run contrary to their own traditional form of government but the French republicans themselves did not live up to it in their dealings with the Vietnamese. During the war years, prior to the Japanese takeover, there was a much more harmonious situation between the values espoused by Vichy France, particularly the writings of Charles Maurras, and the traditional values of Imperial Vietnam. That, however, proved short-lived. Added to this volatile situation was the American OSS, forerunner of the CIA, which showed its usual lack of foresight in arming and training the VietMinh dissidents with the intention of their fighting the Japanese. As it happened, they had little need to ever fight the Japanese who were soon withdrawn but this communist-led movement would go on to bring down the traditional monarchy in the “August Revolution” of 1945 and thereafter plague the French and later the Americans in the new form of the VietCong.

Emperor Bao Dai gave up his throne in 1945, having little to no choice given the situation but soon realized that the new republican government, led by Ho Chi Minh, was a total lie and he soon escaped from them. When the French returned, the former Emperor and the forces of France were undoubtedly on the side of the angels and though the French could have handled things better, they were undone by a lack of devotion to the struggle at home where they were undermined by pro-communist elements as well as a lack of solidarity and sufficient support from the British and Americans on the world stage. The French war in Vietnam was far more critical than the one fought later by the United States. It was that war which determined whether or not the communist clique in North Vietnam would be recognized as a legitimate government and which determined whether or not the Nguyen dynasty would continue to play a leadership role in Vietnam.

For a very realistic and dispassionate look at the opportunity that was squandered by those who refused to support the last Emperor of Vietnam, I highly recommend the book “Background to Betrayal” by Hilaire du Berrier, written by an American who does not hesitate to point out the mistakes made by his own countrymen in Indochina. When the French war did come to an end, America and Emperor Bao Dai were on the same side and both boycotted the peace agreement, rightly seeing it as nothing more than the prelude to an unopposed communist takeover of the country. The U.S.A. did not, as we know, keep faith with Vietnam, though they fought the good fight there, and after the downfall of Nixon the Democrats took control of Congress and refused to keep faith with South Vietnam altogether, abandoning the regime they themselves had first sponsored. The Emperor, the last reigning member of his dynasty, was powerless and exiled, able to do no more than urge his people to stop killing each other and come together but it was too late for that. The poison of revolutionary republicanism and western political ideologies had done their work well and few even bothered to listen to him.

All in all, the story of the last imperial dynasty in Vietnam is a tragic one more than anything else. Should the country ever come to its senses and return to its traditional ways, it would be keeping with precedent to elevate a new dynasty. However, I have a hard time imagining that because the Nguyen have been treated so unfairly. It would be my wish to see them restored, to see the narrative corrected and all those who spread the lies and slander about them to be forced to recant. That, however, is indulgent fantasizing, which I freely admit. As stated at the outset, those who maintain the “official” historical accounts of the Nguyen today are those who usurped and displaced them and so their narrative is unlikely to ever change. However, I hope people will at least be able to see that their view is tainted by self-preservation and will take a fresh look and a more dispassionate one at the last imperial dynasty of Vietnam, to whom the Vietnamese owe everything from their national dress to the very name of their country, and realize that they were, on the whole, a dynasty of patriots who did the best they could under very difficult and unprecedented conditions.

Emperors of the Nguyen Dynasty
I     Gia Long
II    Minh Mang
III   Thieu Tri
IV   Tu Duc
       Duc Duc
V    Hiep Hoa
VI   Kien Phuc
VII  Ham Nghi
VIII Dong Khanh
IX   Thanh Thai
X    Duy Tan
XI   Khai Dinh
XII  Bao Dai

"The sky is still there. 
So are the Earth and the dynasty.
We wish long life to the Emperor"

Friday, March 24, 2017

Mad Rant: A British Terrorist

As I am sure all know there was recently another terrorist attack in London. The terrorist was killed by the police but not before taking the lives of a number of innocents. The authorities took their time to release the identity of the villain but, as was no surprise to most, his name was Khalid Masood, an Islamic radical not unknown to the authorities, from Kent. Yes, from Kent, so that the mindless drones on television can tell us this was a "British" terrorist and not in immigrant or refugee. He has and will be endlessly referred to as a "British citizen" and there is from start to finish absolutely nothing about this whole dirty business that I do not find positively infuriating!

In the first place is the man himself and what he is about. He is a vicious, cowardly, hypocritical dog who deserved far worse than he received. The Islamic State was quick to claim him as one of their own, which is well enough as we can see what sort of spineless pigs they consider "holy warriors". He had not the courage of conviction, otherwise he would not have lived his life submitting to a Christian monarch and, inevitably to some degree or other, accepted subsidy from Her Majesty. He was a coward living a lie who ended his life, not in an honorable act of combat but in a cowardly attack on helpless civilians.

Then there is the media description of him, Khalid Masood, the "British" citizen. Personally, the very phrase 'British citizen' rather than 'British subject' still unsettles me but to call him "British" is to point again to the dishonesty of this pig. His real name, according to The Telegraph, was Adrian Elms and he was a convert to Islam. Neighbors said he grew his beard out and wore Islamic white robes at times. Now, this can be a little tricky because the western media is in the habit of referring to people as being of a certain nationality simply because of where they were born or what sort of paperwork they have on file rather than according to the blood in their veins. And, this man was known by several different aliases during his recurring encounters with the police. This is a purely European problem. If HRH Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, whose ancestry can be traced back to the Saxon Kings of England, were to have been born in Shanghai, it would not make him Chinese and every single one of the billion people in China would find the very notion absurd. The average peasant in the interior of China has rather more common sense than European or North American television personalities.

However, given the information at hand at the moment, let us assume this man began his life as English as fish and chips. It certainly does not sound like he considered himself British. Rather, it sounds like someone forsaking his forebears to adopt the religion and culture of another people. It sounds, again, like someone living a lie. Again, had he any shred of decency, if he felt so strongly about being a Muslim, he should have renounced his British "citizenship" and moved to an Islamic country. But, of course, everything is so upside down today and our duly elected leaders so infantile and deluded that it would be considered cruel and unusual to even suggest such a thing.

Indeed, as soon as the attack was over, the British Prime Minister was quick to take to the television to say that this pig had made his attack in London, "where people of all nationalities, religions and cultures come together to celebrate the values of liberty, democracy and freedom of speech." Hearing that, one might wonder just who it was who won the war against the French Revolutionaries. She also said that the attack was an attack on the values of the Westminster Parliament, which she described as, "democracy, freedom, human rights, the rule of law". Now, I have no doubt that Theresa May is to be preferred to Comrade Corbyn but what a load of utterly contemptible nonsense! Democracy? Is the United Kingdom a democracy? Honestly, I am asking because they cannot seem to make up their mind on this point. Has Britain left the European Union yet? Freedom? Seems to be plenty of freedom for some people but not so much for others, like those who would have said, as I would have, that this murderous pig had no business being in Britain long before today. Human rights? As defined by who? Every tyranny on earth claims to love them. The rule of law? Please. The rule of law has totally evaporated in liberal societies because everything is now partisan, everything is political and the rule of law only applies to your political enemies. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia also believes in the rule of law, the rule of Islamic law and they at least make no bones about it.

All of this was like salt on an open wound and then, later, to hear the Prime Minister again take the line spouted by Cameron, Blair, Obama and Bush that this attack, just like all the others in a long line before it, has nothing to do with Islam at all. Then there was the parade of Labour MPs, many Muslims themselves, doing everything they can to shield the "values" of the perpetrator of this crime. We may be living in the most deluded generation in the whole of human history, with leaders coming out in the immediate aftermath of such an attack praising the very poison that has allowed this pig to be about his murderous work. It is disgusting, it is sickening and it is infuriating and it makes me a very, VERY ... Mad Monarchist.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Colonial Problems of Portugal

It has often been said that the Portuguese were the first to have an empire and the last to lose it, for which there is basis. However, while other factors were certainly involved, the empire also played a central part in the ultimate downfall of the Kingdom of Portugal. Likewise, more than royalist plots, the First Republic came very near to being brought down by issues relating to the empire and it was the struggle to maintain the empire, against a world opinion that had turned against colonialism, which brought down the regime which had been the most conciliatory toward the former Portuguese monarchy since the establishment of the republic. The Portuguese empire was forged from such small beginning, so many centuries in the past, that it had become somewhat taken for granted and when the threat of losing it finally appeared, monarchical and republican governments struggled to defend it, sometimes at the cost of their own existence.

The first crisis of this sort to arise came over the issue of the vast interior of Africa which lay between the Portuguese colonies which are today Angola and Mozambique. The Portuguese had for centuries ventured little into the interior of Africa. Their primary aim had been commerce rather than conquest and so Portuguese control was focused on the coasts. However, as the “Scramble for Africa” by the major European powers began, the Portuguese were forced to take action before territory they always regarded as their own was seized by a rival power. So, the Portuguese Foreign Minister, Barros Gomes, drew up the “Rose Colored Map” in 1885 showing the area between Portuguese West and East Africa that Portugal claimed. This was to be used in dealing with the other colonial powers as most Portuguese had long assumed, and not surprisingly so, that since they held the land on the east and the land on the west, the land in the middle naturally belonged to them as well. Other powers did not see it that way, particularly Portugal’s long-standing ally the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

This territory, which would ultimately become, for the most part, the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, was already within the sights of the British South Africa Company and the British government, led by the great Lord Salisbury, was adamant that this territory was not Portuguese. From the British point of view, a claim was meaningless unless such territory was actually occupied and under the control of a given power. Since the Portuguese did not occupy the area and thus did not control it, the British regarded it as being up for grabs. The Portuguese, of course, set to work moving colonial forces into the interior as quickly as possible but knew that it would be almost impossible to truly occupy the whole region covered by the “Rose Colored Map” before the British arrived. The Kingdom of Portugal had no desire to fight Britain for control of the region as it would be a hopeless effort even if for no other reason than the dominance of the British navy. Britain was also Portugal’s most important trading partner and an open clash would be ruinous to the already less than robust Portuguese economy.

Instead, the Portuguese tried to gain recognition for the “Rose Colored Map” by diplomatic means but it did not go well. The French and the Germans were agreeable enough but while Portugal conceded claims to other disputed territories neighboring French and German colonies, neither France or Germany actually recognized the lands claimed by Portugal in the “Rose Colored Map”. In effect, they recognized that Portugal claimed them, but not that Portugal actually had the rights to them. In the end, Portugal had given concessions but ultimately gained nothing real in return. The British, as stated, were having none of it and refused to recognize any territory claimed by Portugal that was not firmly and directly under Portuguese control, even if Portugal had claimed the land for centuries, in fact, centuries before the British even arrived in southern Africa.

The agents of the King of Portugal and those of the British South Africa company began to clash in what later became Rhodesia and in 1890 the British government issued an ultimatum to Portugal demanding that they removal all personnel from the disputed territory of what would become Rhodesia and effectively recognize British sovereignty over the region which the Portuguese had considered their own for centuries but had largely neglected. This probably came closer than anything ever would to breaking what is known as the oldest alliance in the world. The Portuguese were outraged and considered it an absolute betrayal. However, the Kingdom of Portugal had little choice but to back down and comply. They could hardly have fought Britain for it and international arbitration might have opened the door for other colonial powers to get involved and snatch away Portuguese territory for themselves. There was also the Germans to worry about who were already casting a hungry eye at the Portuguese colonies and Portugal would need Britain for back up if the Germans ever tried to get aggressive on that front.

So, the Kingdom of Portugal backed down and conceded to the ultimatum which was seen as totally humiliating. The public was in an uproar that their government had failed to protect what was widely seen as Portuguese territory and King Carlos I did not escape blame even though there was, realistically, little to nothing he could have done differently. King Carlos I was also criticized for being seen as too friendly with the British Royal Family who were then regarded as enemies. It all came about a bad time as the monarchy in Brazil had recently been overthrown, the economy was in a downward spiral and people were looking for someone to blame. At the head of the country, King Carlos I was an easy target. The humiliation also prompted the suicide, in dramatic fashion, of a well known Portuguese explorer which increased the public clamor against the monarchy. On January 31 the following year, 1891, in Porto there was a republican uprising. A nationalist song, which later became the republican national anthem of Portugal, was written and widely sung.

This attempt to establish a republic was quickly suppressed by loyal security forces, however dozens were killed or injured and 250 were convicted and punished with either prison time or exile. Thus the republican movement gained a core of “martyrs”, an anthem (which it was illegal to sing but would return in due time) and the red and green flag. The whole affair was a terrible blow to the prestige and popularity of the monarchy. The republican movement only increased in audacity and in 1908 King Carlos I and his son and heir Prince Luis were assassinated. In 1910 things spiraled out of control and the monarchy was overthrown, the Kingdom of Portugal brought down and replaced by the First Portuguese Republic. The usual events followed. The Jesuits and other religious orders were suppressed, convents were closed, schools were secularized, marriage became a civil rather than religious matter, separation of Church and state was established, divorce was legalized and the aristocracy was suppressed.

However, the First Portuguese Republic was a disaster by any measure, its whole existence dominated by chaos, corruption and disorder. There were counter-revolutionary efforts by Portuguese royalists but the thing that really came the closest to collapsing the First Republic was again to be found in the African colonies. The context was World War One in which Portugal originally tried to remain neutral, despite there being a clash between German and Portuguese colonial troops in Africa fairly early on. Neutrality came to an end in 1916 when Germany tightened its submarine blockade of Britain which had a major impact on Portugal as the British were their largest trading partner. In February, at the request of the British, the Portuguese interned a number of German and Austrian ships and so, the following month, the German Empire declared war on Portugal, followed almost a week later by Austria-Hungary. The republican government tried to take an optimistic view of the situation, seeing a number of possible benefits from their participation in the war. Large numbers of Portuguese troops were dispatched to defend the colonies and participate in the war in Africa and a Portuguese expeditionary force was assembled to fight alongside the British on the western front.

The result of all of this was an utter disaster. Despite some occasions of great heroism and endurance by the Portuguese soldiers, Portugal was largely humiliated on the world stage thanks to its inept government. In Africa, where the Germans had probably the greatest irregular warfare genius of all time leading their forces, the Portuguese were almost without exception defeated time and again. Part of the problem was that some of the Africans took the opportunity to rebel, forcing the Portuguese to divert resources to deal with that. At sea, German submarines sank almost a hundred Portuguese ships with the legendary “ace” Captain Max Valentiner of U-157 sinking a great many of them as well as bombarding shore positions on the island of Madeira. On the western front, again despite some heroic episodes by individual soldiers, the Portuguese expeditionary force was a commitment that proved too much for the government that sent it to maintain. The republican authorities were unable to keep them supplied, rotated at proper intervals and in a major German offensive they were almost wiped out completely, ultimately being forced to basically be absorbed into the British Expeditionary Force. All in all, the whole ordeal had been a fiasco.

Portugal had lost 8,145 men dead, 13,751 wounded and 12, 318 captured of their original peak strength of 55,000. Over a hundred thousand tons of shipping was destroyed, just over 7,000 tons badly damaged, the economy was in shambles and all Portugal had to show for it was the African port of Kionga, ceded from the Germans. A civil war broke out in 1918 and in January of 1919 the restoration of the Kingdom of Portugal was declared in Porto followed, a few days later, by a royalist uprising in Lisbon. The First Republic did manage to survive but only just and this was certainly the closest it ever came to being overthrown. Still, though it survived, a few decades later it finally gave up the ghost and was replaced by the Catholic, corporatist regime of Antonio de Oliveira Salazar known as the Second Republic or, more usually, the “New State”. From 1932 to 1968 Salazar worked to lift Portugal out of the chaos and bankruptcy the First Republic had created. For a time, it seemed to work but a crisis in the colonies would ultimately doom the New State as well.

Unlike most other countries, Portugal had the good sense to say “no” to World War II but the post-war collapse of the other colonial empires and the spread of communism quickly imperiled the Portuguese empire, officially ‘provinces overseas’. In 1961 the African country of Benin annexed the Portuguese Fort St John the Baptist of Ouidah and at the end of the year, newly independent India invaded and annexed the many centuries-old Portuguese holdings of Goa, Daman and Diu. For the next fifteen years the Portuguese were forced into a valiant fight against communist insurgent movements in Angola, Mozambique and Portuguese Guinea. It was really a heroic stand to take as Portugal was opposed by all the Communist countries in the world while also being criticized and little supported by the liberal democracies of the west for not accepting decolonization. Portugal, which had yet to recover fully from the depths the First Republic had taken the country to, was basically fighting three separate wars in Africa at the same time.

Salazar died and though his successors tried to carry on the fight to maintain the territorial sovereignty of Portugal as a multi-continental power, in 1974 leftist army officers launched a coup, since called the “Carnation Revolution” that ended the corporatist regime and ushered in the current republican government which has largely been dominated by the socialists with the occasional liberal interlude. All Portuguese overseas possessions were immediately abandoned, the last to be given up being Macau in China in 1999. Since that time, without its former overseas trade network and source of raw materials, Portugal has been forced into greater dependency on the European Union. When can see very easily where that has led; the rush of exuberance that a drug addict feels, following by a resounding crash as the republican government has spent far beyond its means, borrowing more and more and making its chains of dependency stronger and heavier with every passing year.

There is, of course, a lesson to be drawn from that final chapter that Portugal, as with any small country, must either go out on its own and gain the strength it needs to become a major power or be content to be a cog in a wheel of a larger machine. However, for the Portuguese monarchy, the lesson was one which others could profit from, though I wonder if the House of Braganza itself has, which is that a monarch should always be the champion of the country and committed to its glorification. In the situation of Portugal, the circumstances were very unfair as there was, realistically, nothing King Carlos could do in the face of the British ultimatum. However, while the republican leftists were never going to be satisfied, the loss of the interior of Africa and the perception that the Portuguese monarchy had not stood up to the British, angered those who were most likely to be the supporters of the Kingdom of Portugal as it had always been. Regardless of the situation, and whether it is right or wrong, it is simply a fact of life that monarchies will always be in great danger when the monarch is seen to be more sympathetic to others than to the greatness of their own country.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

How Demographics Impact Politics

Given a recent exchange I had regarding the last election in The Netherlands, I thought it worth illustrating the point about the significance of demographics a little more precisely. In terms of looking at the monarchy alone and nothing else, some demographic changes have not been bad for the cause of monarchy. However, the nature of these examples does not bode well for the future of traditional authority in western civilization if one considers the basic facts on display and not simply isolated situations. There are a couple of cases I can think of immediately that make the point quite well and may be more relatable to most readers than that of the Kingdom of The Netherlands in which case the worry is about the way things are going rather than the way they are. The two specific cases that first jump to mind are those of Northern Ireland in the United Kingdom and the province of Quebec in the Dominion of Canada. The situation in these two places make the case quite clearly about how important demographic changes can be. In both, certain changes happened to benefited the monarchist cause but they nonetheless make the point that birthrate and immigration have political consequences.

In Northern Ireland, for example, most are well aware, I am sure, that the Protestant population favors continued union with Great Britain and thus the retention of the British Crown in Northern Ireland. The Catholic population, on the other hand, favors republicanism and have traditionally supported the reunification of Ireland under a republican government. Most will also be well aware that, traditionally, Catholics had much larger families than Protestants, particularly after the Protestant churches began to accept the use of birth control whereas the Catholic Church remained staunchly opposed. However, it is also common knowledge I think, that in recent years the Catholic opposition to birth control has become mostly nominal. Today, Catholics, at least in Europe and the Americas, tend to divorce and use birth control at roughly the same rate as Protestants. Finally, we must also keep in mind that, according to the Good Friday Agreements, the issue of Irish reunification was left up to the will of the voting public of Northern Ireland.

Today, Catholics are less likely to favor unification than in the past, though most still hope for it eventually. When one considers how many fewer children Catholic Irish families have today, compared to decades past, one can easily see that if the Irish Catholics had carried on having families as large as they once did, the six counties would today be part of the Republic of Ireland and it would have taken no military campaign or terrorist attacks in order to bring it about. It would have happened peacefully, by the democratic process, simply because the Catholic population would have overtaken the Protestants to become the new majority in Northern Ireland. So, as far as the six countries of Ulster are concerned, the monarchy was saved because Catholics started using birth control and their rate of reproduction drastically decreased. Of course, by that same measure, if Protestant, loyalist Britons had moved in sufficient numbers into the Republic of Ireland, they might have brought the whole island back into the United Kingdom with no other weapon but the ballot box. If it works for once side, it can also work for the other. The change in the Irish Catholic birthrate has meant that the Queen still reigns in Northern Ireland. Birth rates matter.

Moving across the pond to Her Majesty’s Dominion of Canada, the province of Quebec, traditionally Catholic, ethnically French and habitually disgruntled at those who speak English, secession and establishing an independent “Republic of Quebec” has been quite popular in recent years. Quebec separatists were able to garner sufficient public support for the issue to be put to a vote in 1995. As we know, the secessionists did not get their way and the Queen continued to reign over the province of Quebec thanks to 55,000 more votes opposed to independence. The premier of Quebec at the time, Jacques Parizeau, (who of course supported secession) caused some controversy when, in his concession speech, he attributed the loss to, “l’argent et des votes ethniques” (“money and ethnic votes”). He later apologized and many accused him of being drunk. However, as Canadian commentator Mark Steyn recently pointed out, Parizeau was not wrong as the non-ethnically French population of Quebec did vote to remain in Canada rather than in favor of an independent Quebec.

The next premier of Quebec, Lucien Bouchard, who also favored secession, caused similar outrage by stating rather gloomily just before the referendum that the decline of the French-Canadian birthrate could harm their cause. “We’re one of the white races that has the fewest children”, he said and, indeed, French-Canadian women have just about the lowest birth rate of any White women anywhere. In other words, if French-Canadian women had still been having as many children as they had been even in the 1950’s or if the non-French ethnic minorities were not so numerous, the secessionists would have won and Quebec would today be an independent republic. Mr. Bouchard also, years later and more carefully, warned again about the declining numbers of the French-Canadian population. So, again, birth rates matter and immigration matters, these things have very real political consequences. They are not, however, of equal significance because while birth rates can always be changes, demographics cannot. Once one population is replaced by another, it cannot be brought back. No one likes to deport people these days and, even if they did, once a population gains sufficient numbers they will not allow themselves to be deported.

None of this should come as a surprise. It makes perfect sense that ethnic minorities in Quebec should wish to remain a part of multicultural Canada rather than be part of a uni-cultural French-Canadian nation-state. What reason does a Haitian have to be outraged over the defeat at the Plains of Abraham? Why should an Arab wish to preserve the Catholic culture of the Jesuit missionaries? Is there any objective reason why a family from China should prefer the French language to the English one? There is none. In fact, the Chinese family may wonder why the French language is given preference over their own Mandarin in Canada when English-speakers outnumber them both. In British Columbia, the Chinese-Canadians outnumber the French-Canadians after all. Again, in the two cases, the outcome was good for the cause of traditional authority but ‘sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander’. This shows how demographics can and do affect the politics of a given place and the results will not always be the same.

In the monarchies of western Europe (as in the United States), racial minorities tend to vote for the most left-wing of the major parties (far left fringe parties tend to be limited to well-to-do Whites). For the first time in European history, an election was determined by a non-European minority group. This happened in France with the election of the socialist President Francois Hollande. Minorities tend to vote as a bloc and this was certainly the case in France in which 93% of the African and Arab Muslim population voted for Hollande while only 7% voted for his opponent Sarkozy. This amounted to 1.7 million votes and in an election that was decided by 1.1 million votes, that means that the non-French population determined who the leader of France would be.

This is clearly shown to be based on what the socialists oppose rather than what they support. The domestic agenda and values of the socialists are totally opposed by most Muslims but they tend to vote for socialist parties because these parties oppose the once dominant Christian culture of Europe and any limitations on immigration. Quite sensibly, they vote for the party that supports multiculturalism as well as moral positions they despise since the multiculturalism part will allow them to change the moral policies easily enough in due time. But, it is the French Republic so, perhaps readers here may be inclined not to care. How about a monarchy? How about the most venerable monarchy in Europe? How about the Kingdom of Denmark? In 2011 the Socialist Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt won the parliamentary elections by only 8,500 votes. This socialist, woman politician, of a party whose motto is “Liberty, Equality and Fraternity” (sound familiar?) was supported by 89.1% of the African & Asian minority, meaning that the Danish parliamentary elections could easily have been determined by people who are not Danish at all. Again, this makes sense for them given what the Social Democrats of Denmark vigorously support but it is hardly a good thing for the oldest kingdom in Europe that this fastest growing segment of the population overwhelmingly backs a party whose slogan is that of the French Revolutionaries.

This is a pattern that holds true in most every monarchy in Europe with a sizable non-native minority population. In the United Kingdom, minorities have overwhelmingly voted for the Labour Party which has certainly been the least friendly of the two major parties to the monarchy (and witness what they did to the House of Lords). In the Kingdom of Belgium, a quarter of the population of Brussels in now African or Arab and in a country in which the traditional unifying factors have been the King and Catholicism, the capital city is already more Islamic than Catholic. In the Kingdom of Spain, the Socialist Party tried to pass a law allowing the half a million Moroccans in the country to vote in Spanish elections. The effort failed and it is probably not a coincidence that in the following 2011 elections the socialists were ousted from power. It should go without saying that the socialists in Spain would not be doing this if they expected the Moroccans to vote for anyone but themselves. This party formed part of the government of the Second Spanish Republic, was banned by the Franco regime and while today more friendly toward the monarchy (so long as the royals do as they’re told), their youth wing is still openly republican and a party congress did declare support for what they termed “civic republicanism”. Given that, where they stand seems clear enough.

All of this is to show that things like birthrates and the demographic makeup of a population has a very real effect on the politics of any country. Minority groups tend to overwhelmingly vote for leftist parties in any country and leftist parties, by their very nature, tend to be opposed to all things traditional. Even people who would vote for more conservative parties in their own country tend to support the more leftist party in another country in which they are the minority. In the United States, for example, Black, Hispanic, Asian and Jewish Americans all tend to vote for Democrats by very large margins. However, I know plenty of Mexicans who support the more right-of-center PAN in Mexico but support the Democrats in America. This is a matter of self-interest. All of these groups are voting for the party that best serves their collective self-interests, which makes perfect sense. The problems we see today and coming tomorrow, however, arise because people in Europe and the European-descended populations around the world tend to recoil from the very idea that they have collective self-interest at all. This is something that should change, for if it does not, western civilization will either cease to exist or it will require extremely unsavory and drastic measures to save the longer the issue is postponed.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Happy St Patrick's Day

Once again, it is St Patrick’s Day, an occasion to honor the patron saint of Ireland who converted the Emerald Isle to Christianity and to celebrate all things Irish. Unfortunately, one of the things most associated with Ireland today is revolutionary republicanism. This should not be so. In all of Irish history, republicanism was practically unknown before the Easter Uprising and entirely unheard of prior to the horrific French Revolution. The history of old Ireland, prior to the arrival of the British, was entirely royalist. Ireland had not only one king but a number of kings at any given time, occasionally united by one “High King”. Prior to independence, the only time Ireland had known republican rule was actually the most brutally horrific period of Irish history when the republican dictator of England, Oliver Cromwell, waged what some have not without merit termed a genocide in Ireland. For Cromwell, the Irish had committed two offenses which he deemed most deplorable; they had thrown their support behind the King and they had refused to renounce their Catholicism and embrace the Protestant religion he favored.

The Irish did ultimately take the side of King Charles I, who was opposed to the persecution of Catholics like themselves and they later also supported the cause of his son King James II, adding the Battle of the Boyne to the long list of tragedies in Irish history. Later, during the Jacobite Uprisings, the Stuart heirs were also not without some Irish support. Even Sinn Fein was originally founded with the intention of Ireland being a monarchy, independent but in personal union with the British after the fashion of Austria-Hungary. Even at the time of World War I, some Irish nationalists, knowing that their cause basically depended on a German victory, proposed making the German Kaiser's son, Prince Joachim, the King of an independent Ireland. In any event, today is a proper occasion to take a look back at a few of the subjects related to Ireland covered here in the past from a perspective that is, to say the least, not mainstream when it comes to the Emerald Isle.

A Short look at the life of Irish High King Brian Boru

The Villain and Enemy of Monarchy Oliver Cromwell

The great Irish monarchist general Patrick Sarsfield

Irish Jacobites in the 1745 Uprising

When Irish Republicans tried to seize Canada

Although quite obscure, it is also worth noting that the monarchist cause is not totally absent from Ireland and one does not have to be confined entirely to Ulster in order to find it. There are a faithful few who support the restoration of the Kingdom of Ireland, some as a confederation of kingdoms under a "High King" as in the old days and some support a return of the Kingdom of Ireland in union with England and Scotland as in the more recent past.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Brief Thoughts on Geert Wilders

It is election time in The Netherlands and the one political figure who has been getting the most attention, and the most criticism, from the media is certainly Geert Wilders, leader of the Party for Freedom (PVV). Despite having otherwise very liberal views, Wilders has been described as a "far-right" populist by the media as well as the "Dutch Donald Trump" for his desire to stop Muslim immigration into the Netherlands and to take the Dutch kingdom out of the European Union. Of course, any look at his political and social views, or the domestic policy of French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, will show that these are certainly not "right wing" or "far right" figures at all. However, as they both stand opposed to open borders and in favor of national sovereignty, that is all it takes these days to be considered a right-wing extremist. For myself, I have never been wild about Wilders but would not hesitate to vote for him in this election were I eligible to do so. Aside from his social views, with which I am not in agreement, there is the issue of the monarchy and Geert Wilders is certainly not a member of what was once called the 'Orange Party'. He is certainly no Jacobin firebrand and would probably rate as more royalist than his French, female counterpart but an ardent royalist I would say he is certainly not. He relationship with the House of Orange has troubled me for years.

Not all of this, to be fair, is his own fault, depending on how you look at it. The monarchy in The Netherlands is supposed to be non-political and non-partisan, however, no one usually minds if the royals express opinions as long as they are in line with the liberal mainstream. Talking about "values" is fine but, in an era in which values are legislated by the government, nothing is non-political these days. In her 2007 Christmas speech HM Queen Beatrix made some remarks that most, including Wilders, took as a very thinly veiled swipe at him and his party, praising multiculturalism and criticizing opposition to it. From that time on, Wilders made no secret of the fact that he has little to do with Queen Beatrix (Princess Beatrix since her abdication) and has called for the monarchy to be removed from having any political power and become purely ceremonial. This, of course, is a major problem for me but I do not believe Wilders would have taken the position he had were it not for the Queen coming out in opposition to him and his party first. Still, I have no doubt the situation persists as I doubt the views of King Willem-Alexander are very different from those of his mother or anyone else in the circles they move in.

This, under ordinary circumstances, would be enough for me to never consider supporting Wilders at all but, alas, these are not ordinary circumstances. In the first place, Wilders takes no official position on the monarchy and has never become a republican. It would be a difficult thing to do given that the PVV, while having a larger percentage of republicans than most, is still a party with a large majority of its membership being royalists. If for no other reason that the facts on the ground and realpolitik, I could not imagine Wilders ever trying to abolish the monarchy provided the King broke every precedent and openly tried to suppress him which, likewise, I could never imagine happening. So, as far as the monarchy goes, there is reason for me to dislike him but not enough to consider him untouchable or to outweigh other factors.

Those other factors are also very important to me and, it seems, to a growing number of Dutch voters as well. This is reassuring since, as his support increases, so does the amount of royalist support for Wilders and that will help check his dislike of the current members of the House of Orange. I fully support Wilders in wishing to save the Netherlands for the Netherlanders because a Netherlands without Netherlanders would be no Netherlands for me. I also fully support his aim to take the Netherlands out of the European Union. This also helps me swallow my disdain at his call for a purely ceremonial monarchy since, in my opinion, as long as any monarchy is part of the EU, the monarchy is basically ceremonial anyway as the Sovereign is not truly sovereign. I also think that the Dutch monarchy and all the rest that makes up the Dutch culture and national character can only be preserved by the Dutch themselves and not by Moroccans, Algerians or Turks. Net migration for the first half of 2016 alone was double what it had been the previous year. This is unprecedented. For me, the burqa is just as out of place in Amsterdam as a miniskirt would be in Riyadh. I want the Dutch monarchy to survive but I also want there to be a Dutch population for it to reign over. So, not without some reservations, I would be voting for Wilders and the PVV were I able because, for me, populations are not interchangeable and the Dutch people are not replaceable. Also, because I do not think anything will get better, from my reactionary point of view, until the tyrannical, top-heavy, talking shop called the European Union is consigned to the dustbin of history.

Ik stem Wilders & lang leve de Koning!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The British Submarine Campaign of World War I

During the First World War it was the submarines of Imperial Germany that certainly got the most attention in the world press. Theirs was the first major submarine campaign undertaken by any nation, the German u-boats sank the most ships by far and it was the submarines belonging to the Kaiser which pushed American popular sentiment to the Allied side and, though few realize it, they came extremely close to winning the war for the Central Powers all on their own. Whenever one thinks of the British, even with the proud and famous history of the Royal Navy which dominated the seven seas for centuries, it is usually in the context of being on the receiving end of submarine warfare rather than instigating it. This is certainly understandable given that twice in the last century, the British were driven to the brink of defeat by German submarine campaigns and, because of that, the British became masters at anti-submarine warfare. However, the British have never been without success in naval warfare under the waves as well as upon them. From the First World War to today the Royal Navy has been a major submarine power and it was in the Great War that the British produced their first submarine war heroes whose names are still household words amongst the submariners of the world.

The Royal Navy entered World War I with a small collection of submarines designed to operate in coastal waters or not too far from a friendly port. These were the B, C, D, and E-class boats. It is a credit to the men that sailed them that boats of each of these classes were to achieve success in World War I, even the oldest of the B, C and D-classes. After the war had started, a new class of coastal submarine, the H-class, was built in Canada based on an American design and with American parts (U.S. neutrality at the time prevented them actually being built in America). The H-class was a little slow to catch on but ultimately proved to be a very successful design with some boats remaining in service in World War II and with other navies into the early years of the Cold War. The wartime G-class and L-class boats were more ambitious but did not see much action. As the Royal Navy grew more accustomed to submarines and ambitious in their thinking, these boats represented a step in the process toward the design of fleet submarines intended for major offensive operations. Continuing in that were the J-class, the very “creative” K-class which was steam-powered and the very fierce-looking M-class which resembled a sort of miniature, submersible battleship. The K-class proved problematic and only one M-class boat was clear for sea before the war ended and it was kept far from the action for fear that the Germans would copy the design for their own boats.

Probably the most successful British submarine design of World War I was the E-class. It is the type of boat most imagine when they think of British submarines from the First World War and it no doubt helps that all three of the most famous British submarine commanders of the Great War skippered E-class boats. They were small but sturdy and meant business with, unusually, bow, stern and beam torpedo tubes. A deck gun, originally lacking, was added in the course of the war. These, as with most British submarines tended to operate in the North Sea, the Baltic Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. Long-range offensive submarine operations were always going to be rather limited for the British since their boats tended to be limited to coastal range and in areas such as the North Atlantic they had few potential targets since the domination of the Royal Navy surface fleet tended to sink or keep in port most German merchant ships and, because of the German submarine campaign, there was always the danger of “friendly fire”. The terrible toll taken by German u-boats meant that when any British warship spotted a submarine, they tended to shoot first and ask questions later.

Centenary RN submarine flags
It was World War I which saw the birth of the British submarine tradition which continues even today. They had a spirit of reckless courage and tenacity born of adversity. The salty, old sea-dogs of the Admiralty were slow to accept the submarine as the formidable weapon of war that it is. Rightly proud of their massive battleships and with Britannia having ruled the waves for so long, such an innovation seemed unnecessary at best. Submarines were something generally associated with the enemies of the British Empire. The very first submarine attack (which failed) was made during the American War for Independence by the rebel colonists against HMS Eagle. Likewise, the original Holland-class boats had first been designed with the intention of their being used by the Fenian Brotherhood of Ireland to launch sneaky attacks on British shipping. A vessel that slipped, unseen, beneath the waves and which could attack an enemy unawares also seemed rather underhanded to the British sense of honor and chivalry. One British admiral even went so far as to denounce the submarine as “damned un-English!” while another suggested that, with the Germans in mind, all submariners should be considered pirates and hanged if captured. The British underwater sailors did not take kindly to this comparison and so decided to wind up the admirals by flying the Jolly Roger pirate flag after a successful cruise. That little show of defiance became a Royal Navy submarine tradition and when the HMS Conqueror returned home after sinking the Argentine battle cruiser General Belgrano in the Falklands War, she flew a Jolly Roger of her own design. (this, by the way, was the first and so far only nuclear submarine to sink an enemy vessel in combat)

However, the success of the German u-boats soon proved to even the most conservative British admirals that submarines were a weapon they had to take seriously and so King George V was to send his own out to do battle for King and Country. There were certain places were only submarines were able to operate effectively, areas which only they could reach and it was the British in the First World War who found out what naval experts today still know to be true; the best weapon to use against a submarine is another submarine. Three German u-boats were sunk by obsolete British C-class submarines, D-class subs sank two u-boats, the E-class sank five and British mine laying submarines accounted for a large number of destroyed German u-boats as mines took the heaviest toll of all on the Kaiser’s underwater fleet. The three primary area of operations for British submarines was the North Sea and waters adjacent to the British Isles, the Baltic Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. The North Sea would see the least success for, not only was it dangerous due to the threat of the German fleet and the presence of German submarines but also, because of this, was an area in which British ships could be just as dangerous to British submarines.

Sir Max Horton in 1940
Nonetheless, it was in home waters that the British boats scored their first success when Lt. Comm. Max Horton, captain of HMS E-9, sank a German light cruiser on September 13, 1914. Within two weeks he also sank a German destroyer, a major accomplishment and earning himself the Distinguished Service Order. Sir Max Horton was well on his way to becoming the most famous British submarine commander of all time. However, these successes were the only ones for Royal Navy boats in 1914 and they lost three subs before the year was out. It was soon decided to send them into action somewhere the Royal Navy surface ships could not reach: the Baltic. Submarines would be able to slip past the Germans, get into the Baltic and, it was hoped, cut off the supplies of iron ore being shipped from Sweden to Germany and support the Russian Empire. The first three British boats dispatched to the Baltic were commanded by men who would prove to be the very best; Max Horton in E-9, Noel Laurence in E-1 and Martin Naismith in E-11. However, the E-11, the last to make the run, was spotted by German patrols and forced back. The Central Powers had not seen the last of him though.

In the Baltic, Horton and Laurence raised havoc on German shipping. Sometimes they operated together, other times independently and the Russian port of Lapvik served as their home base. Horton proved that a submarine could operate even in the frigid conditions of January as long as one did not dally too long on the surface. Laurence, in E-1, attacked and badly damaged the German battle cruiser Moltke in the Gulf of Riga, forcing the Germans to cancel their plans for a landing there. Czar Nicholas II hailed Laurence as the “Savior of Riga” and decorated him with the St George Cross. Horton, in E-9, also sank a number of German transports, minelayers, escorts and damaged the cruiser Prinz Adalbert. He too was awarded the St George Cross by the Russian Czar and took such a heavy toll on German shipping in the area that the Germans began referring to the Baltic as “Horton’s Sea”. Their success proved to the British high command that their submarines could accomplish great things and soon more were sent in, some directly and some by being broken up and sent by rail overland from Archangel. This was an area that British surface warships could not penetrate but British submarines could and soon crippled German shipping in the area and fouled up their land operations on the coast as well.

LtComm Francis Cromie
As well as practically paralyzing German merchant shipping, the British boats also took a heavy toll on the Kaiser’s navy. Lt. Comm. Francis Goodhart, commanding HMS E-8, sank the Prinz Adalbert, E-19 commanded by Lt. Comm. F. Cromie sank the light cruiser Undine and so on. Cromie, who would take command of the five boat submarine flotilla in the Baltic after Horton was withdrawn, was another major Royal Navy hero for the submariners, on one cruise destroying over 22,000 tons of enemy shipping in a single day. The Germans had the second largest navy in the world and the Baltic was practically their backyard and yet all shipping there had been totally paralyzed by a force of only five British submarines. If further proof were needed that the subs of the Royal Navy were good value for money, their operations in the Baltic certainly proved it. By 1917 successes dropped off simply because there was nothing left to shoot at and the collapse of Russia after the revolution forced the British to scuttle their boats rather than see them handed over to the Germans as stipulated in the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.

In the Mediterranean Sea, British submarines were dispatched to once again go where no surface warship could: the Dardanelles. Based on the island of Mudros, the original British force consisted of only six Allied submarines, three of which were the pre-war, British B-class boats which were largely obsolete. However, in the hands of a talented British captain, even these boats proved capable of success and, luckily for Britain, just such a captain was tasked with making the first foray into Turkish waters, Lt. Comm. Norman Holbrook of HMS B-11. On December 13, 1914 Holbrook and his men went in, but pushing against the strong currents made progress slow and maneuvering a struggle. Nonetheless, Holbrook was able to sight a target and with one well placed torpedo the outdated B-11 sent the Turkish cruiser Messudieh to the bottom. Holbrook managed to escape though it was a nerve-shattering experience and by the time he was able to get clear and surface his batteries were totally exhausted and the engines so totally deprived of oxygen that it took thirty minutes before they could be restarted. For this stunning victory, Holbrook became the first British submariner to earn the Victoria Cross.

HMS E-14
The next to go in was Lt. Comm. Courtney Boyle in HMS E-14. He had a hard time but managed to sink a minelayer and a Turkish troopship loaded with 6,000 soldiers and a battery of artillery. After all his torpedoes had been fired, Boyle handed out rifles to his sailors and stayed on patrol, chasing another Turkish transport onto some rocks before returning home. Boyle was also awarded the Victoria Cross. Then, of course, there was the legendary patrol of Lt. Comm. Martin Naismith, later Sir Martin Dunbar-Naismith of E-11 which penetrated the Turkish Sultan’s bathtub and brought shipping to a standstill. Forced to rely on the Berlin-Baghdad railway to supply their troops holding back the Allies at Gallipoli, Naismith sent his first officer ashore to blow up a section of the railroad, putting it out of action and forcing supplies to move by the sea again with E-11 sending more ships and boats to the bottom. Naismith would also receive the Victoria Cross for his fantastic accomplishments in the Sea of Marmara and for sinking the last Turkish battleship (formerly the German vessel Prince-Elector Friedrich Wilhelm). You can read more about these exploits here.

All told, the British submarine campaign in Turkish waters had been a resounding success thanks to the skill of the Royal Navy officers and sailors. By the time it was over, they had basically wiped out the Turkish navy by 1916 and sunk about half of the entire Turkish merchant marine as well. Efforts to use submarines in conjunction with the surface fleet proved unsuccessful, epitomized by the fate of the big K-class boats, and in the later stages of the war emphasis shifted to countering the u-boat menace. In this, again, the British submarines proved highly successful, sometimes hunting on their own and, at other times, in conjunction with a surface ship. Up until 1917 only five German u-boats were lost to British submarines but from then until 1918 the British boats managed to sink thirteen of the underwater raiders. All in all, British submarines accounted for 10% of all German submarine losses, more than were sunk by aircraft or the infamous Q-ships.

HMS E-11
Today, as mentioned at the outset, the British submarine campaign of World War I remains overshadowed by their German counterparts. This is understandable given that the German campaign was larger and accounted for many more sinkings, driving Britain to within a mere few weeks of defeat. However, the submarines of the Royal Navy did have a major impact on the war, particularly in the Baltic and in Turkish waters. They proved to a doubting admiralty just how effective submarines could be and they laid the foundation for the proud submarine tradition that is still maintained today. Five Victoria Crosses were awarded to British submariners during World War I and the greatest heroes of the British submarine campaign in World War I, Horton, Laurence and Naismith, are still household words to British submariners and others around the world. In their fight for King and Country, they had more than proven their worth.
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