Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Imperial Roots of Ferragosto

Today is Ferragosto, a holiday unique to Italy (and the Republic of San Marino) today identified with the mid-August vacation period. It is made to coincide with the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, however, it has a much wider significance which includes but is not limited to this particular feast day which is so important to Catholics. The roots of Ferragosto go back to at least the year 18BC though, even then, it built upon an already long established custom of a holiday period in mid August after the local harvest period. However, it became an officially period of celebration to mark the occasion on which Octavian (Julius Caesar's heir and nephew) was given the title of Augustus by the Roman Senate, "Augustus" meaning 'exalted' and used as the official imperial title. In other words, it was on this occasion that Augustus Caesar officially became the first Emperor of Rome. Thus, the already existing post-harvest holiday period was expanded and upgraded to be an official, practically month-long, celebration of the exaltation of the first Roman Emperor. This was known as the Feriae Augusti or the 'festivals of the Emperor Augustus'.

Later, in the Christian period, this came to coincide with the Feast of the Assumption and rather beautifully illustrates the way in which the peoples of Europe did not abandon their own culture and customs with their conversion to Christianity. Rather than ban everything that had pagan roots (which would have meant eradicating practically everything, including democracy which liberals claim to be so fond of), pagan customs were folded into the Christian experience. Obviously, these customs would vary from nation to nation as the Germans or Celts had extremely different customs from those of the Greeks and Romans. It is for this reason that Ferragosto is a uniquely Italian holiday. In time it came to be the start of the vacation period in Italy and this was reinforced by the Kingdom of Italy during the Fascist Era. In an effort to encourage Italians to get out of their small towns and see more of the country, the trains would offer discounts on tickets to enable working class people to take a vacation to famous cities or resort towns. The desire of the regime was to foster greater nationalism and social unity in this way by having the people see more of their own country and to allow people other than the upper class to take vacations too.

It says something about the success of this policy of embracing the whole of European culture and not setting Christianity against it that for quite some time the celebration of Ferragosto was legally mandatory in the Papal States.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Charlottesville and the Need to Do Better

As most of you are no doubt aware, there was a bit of dust up in the city of Charlottesville, Virginia on Saturday. The original issue was the proposed removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from Emancipation Park (formerly named Lee Park but re-named recently for the sake of tolerance and diversity). A disparate group of White people came together under the name “Unite the Right” to hold a demonstration in protest to the removal of the statue. It is worth bearing in mind that General Lee himself was not a slave owner, thought slavery was wrong and had opposed secession. This group included people with varying view points from simple pro-White advocates to actual White supremacists (Neo-Nazis and KKK). Some were, in my view, good and some were clearly bad. However, they agreed on the subject that the statue should stay where it is and they obtained a permit from the city to hold their demonstration.

That was when the problems began. Shortly afterward, the city revoked their permit and “Unite the Right” had to appeal to the courts which did finally rule that they had civil rights like the right to assemble and the right to free speech and so ordered the city to reissue their permit. However, as soon as it became known that these people would be holding their demonstration, leftist groups, “Antifa” among others, called on all of their supporters to rally at Charlottesville on the same day to shut down the event. The original demonstration was scheduled to begin at noon but, long before that, a state of emergency was declared as violence broke out between the two sides and so it was cancelled. The police had been ordered to “stand down” and so it is no surprise that a brawl ensued, injuring many and leading to the death of one woman who was hit by a car that sped into a crowd of leftist counter-protestors.

A few things should be clear from the facts of this situation. On the one hand, the organizers were clearly unconcerned about what sort of image they presented to the American public (or were intentionally ‘clowning’) as you cannot hold a demonstration, preceded by a torchlight procession, with Roman salutes and swastika flags and then cry “unfair” when the other side calls you a bunch of Nazis. These people guaranteed that the statue will be removed and that no one with any official position will go anywhere near them. Secondly, it is also perfectly clear that even if they had been goose-stepping down Emancipation Park in brown shirts, they had gone through the legal process to do it and had every right to be there. The Antifa types who came to challenge them did not, the police and civil authorities did not do their duty and have heaped all the blame on one side. It also, needless to say, made no difference to the mainstream media that the leftist counter-protesters had such flags on display as that of the Soviet Union (which killed more people and invaded more countries than Hitler ever did) as well as one or two of the Spanish Republic, that leftist regime which put more people to death in a few months than the supposedly notorious Spanish Inquisition snuffed out in as many centuries.

I can imagine two different things coming from this; those who made up “Unite the Right” will shrink away into obscurity having again portrayed themselves as simply the Nazi Party USA (one of the organizers was Richard Spencer who some may remember from his “Hail Trump! Hail Victory!” speech) or this will ratchet up the extremism on the part of the White identity types who can reasonably say that while others have been allowed to demonstrate, they were not and that while others have been allowed to speak, they are not. Racial or ethnic advocacy groups are allowed for everyone but them and thus there is no need to bother with staying within the law. The law only applies to certain people. So, I am not much of a prophet, I think it will either get calmer as more people just accept the situation or it will not if they choose to fight back.

No doubt some are already wondering what any of this has to do with traditional authority or the cause of kings. Well, for one thing, it displays the hypocrisy of the liberal republican form of government, as I have mentioned numerous times in the past. All of their “liberty” and “fairness” and “rule of law” only seems to apply in the abstract, never when it really matters. You have rights until a crisis arises and President Lincoln suspends habeaus corpus, President Wilson puts you in jail for playing German music or President Roosevelt confiscates your property and puts you in a concentration camp. You have the right to elect you leader, until you elect a leader the ruling class disapproves of and then he is blocked at every turn. You have the right to free speech and assembly until someone shows up, causes a brawl and then the whole thing is shut down on the grounds of being unsafe. You can say what you want, unless the powers-that-be determine what you are saying is “hate speech” in which case they can shut you down. Fail to enforce immigration laws and you’re a “sanctuary city” but fail to issue a marriage license to a gay couple and you go to jail (see Kim Davis). Liberalism sounds so great in the abstract but in practice it means, liberty for “us” but not for you.

Secondarily, I also noticed a number of people on our own side making the case, and God bless them for it, that monarchy, traditional values and authentic Christianity are the only things that can “unite the right”. Unfortunately, and this is where we need to do better, I could not agree. Yes, me, the “Mad Monarchist” could not agree that this was a truthful statement. Why? Because the fact is, we are not united even among ourselves and I certainly know as I get the angry messages almost on a daily basis. For some, usually the Catholics, it is a sectarian issue as only Catholic monarchies will do. Even there, many problems arise over what the definition of “Catholic” is these days. The ones who tell you it is perfectly simple are also the ones who usually say Pope Francis is of course not Catholic at all. See the problem? Monarchists do not agree on the map, they do not agree what people deserve to have their own countries and for many of those who do, they cannot agree on who should be the monarch of those countries. The best example of this is the royalists of the various branches of the House of Bourbon. In France, Spain, Parma and the Two-Sicilies, in every case there is division over who should be the monarch now or who should be the monarch if there was to be one.

This is a source of tremendous frustration for me and if you want to know more about a particular example, illustrating what this leads to, I refer you back to my past article, ‘France: Republican By Default’. Monarchists probably get tired of my scolding but it is something that must be learned because the republicans have certainly learned it and used it to their advantage. President Adolphe Thiers referred to the republic as the form of government that “divides us least”, which was sadly true and should make every monarchist deeply ashamed. There were also more mocking comments comparing the Count of Chambord to George Washington as the “Founding Father” of the Third French Republic. Likewise, republicanism in Spain first reared its ugly head due to the inability of Spanish monarchists to unite behind one monarch. After fierce fights between the rival branches of the Bourbon dynasty, it was decided to start over from blank paper and bring in a monarch of the House of Savoy. Yet, the old divisions refused to be reconciled, ending in King Amadeus abdicating in disgust and going back to Italy at which time the First Spanish Republic came into being. Once again, two Bourbon rivals refusing to reconcile on who should take the throne ended up with there being no throne at all.

I could go even farther and say that many monarchists have become so entrenched in their partisan divisions that, were it up to them, the western world would be engulfed in near total anarchy since no agreement, no treaty, no decision by governments or crowned heads could ever have validity. This comes into play, for example, concerning those countries which, in my experience, many monarchists outside of those countries think should not exist at all. The Kingdom of Belgium, for example, should not exist according to many monarchists. Never mind that the crowned heads of Europe all agreed that it should, that doesn’t matter to them. The Kingdom of Italy, likewise, should not exist according to many (non-Italian) Catholic monarchists, never mind that it was finally endorsed by the Pope with the Lateran Treaty by which the Holy See recognized it and in return the Kingdom of Italy was made an officially Catholic monarchy. No, for many, the Lateran Treaty is worthless paper and even the disgraceful depths the Italian Republic has sunk to is not enough to make these people think maybe the Savoy monarchy wasn’t so bad after all and just maybe Pope Pius XI and Pope Pius XII knew what they were doing.

If you cannot agree on who is a monarch, who should be a monarch or which peoples are even deserving of a country, I find it hard to believe there could ever be any appreciable unity on actual matters of policy. Concerning the United States, I am not even sure what is being proposed. Again, I have seen plenty of diversity of opinion among monarchists as to whether the United States of America should even exist. For the record, though I would have opposed independence in 1776, I regard the United States as being valid ever since His Britannic Majesty King George III saw fit to recognize the independence of the 13 former colonies. I don’t have to be best pleased about it, but it happened and I accept such agreements as binding. American monarchists do not agree on the status of the country itself, is there agreement among American monarchists on any significant policy? The protesters of “Unite the Right” probably do not agree on all that much among themselves but they do agree that the majority White/European population of the United States is being displaced and they all oppose this. Could monarchists in this country agree or disagree with that position with any appreciable amount of consensus? Unfortunately, I tend to doubt it.

Mark Steyn (a Canadian United Empire Loyalist) once said something to the effect of, mainstream society will be debating trans-gender bathrooms when the mullahs nuke us. If monarchists do not shape up, we will be arguing over whether the Duke of Bavaria should be the King of England, whether the Duke of Calabria or the Duke of Castro should be King of the Two Sicilies whenever Italians stop wanting their own country, whether a Habsburg or a Hohenzollern should be German Emperor whenever Germans finally stop wanting to be a republic or whether the man in white in the Vatican is really the Pope or not when the last descendants of western civilization are killed off. By and large, proper western civilization has already collapsed, what remains to be seen is whether the people whose inheritance it is will have a future or not. I don’t want monarchists left out of that struggle but, as I said to all those who criticized the (very easily criticized) “Unite the Right” crowd; where were you? Where was your demonstration?

Believe it or not, there have been some, or at least something of the sort but, again, because we are so divided, they attract a mere handful and thus no one pays attention to them. Recently, I commented that the problem with many royalists is that they don’t want to join the fight unless they know and approve of what the result is going to be, which is rather like refusing to play a game unless you already know you’re going to win. I was told that the “traditionalists” (for lack of a better term, I know it’s tossed around a lot) simply don’t want to commit suicide in a hopeless fight. That may be true and it may be that I have too pessimistic of an outlook. I have heard that the younger generations are more traditional than the more current ones but, to me, that hardly seems a difficult record to achieve and the swiftness from which we have moved from class equality to racial equality to gender equality to ‘people are born gay’ and now ‘people are not born male or female’ must have blinded me to the underground surge of traditionalist values that are about to burst forth in the coming years. In any event, as I’ve said before, being a Texan, I favor fighting every battle like it’s the Alamo. Which is to say, fight every fight as if it is your last, never mind about whether you can win or not. Personally, the utter and absolute hatred I have of the enemy, makes any fight worth it no matter what the odds are.

The bottom line is, we need to shape up, we need to improve and we need to stop fighting among ourselves and start fighting the enemies of all we hold dear. Those enemies still want to see “the last king strangled with the entrails of the last priest” and they don’t care who that king or priest are or what their opinions or dynastic branch is. We really need to put our divisions aside, draw a line in the sand and say the enemy will go no farther. From there, we push on but, as I know I’ve said before (sorry for being repetitive), right now we should at least be able to agree on the need to stop the bleeding before the patient dies.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Annexation of Hawaii

It was on this day in 1898 that the Hawaiian flag was lowered from Iolani Palace and replaced by the flag of the United States of America, signifying the transfer of sovereignty to the American government from the short-lived formality that was the Hawaiian Republic, a legal fiction which had served as a stepping stone from the former Kingdom of Hawaii to the island chain becoming a U.S. Territory. How had it all happened? It was certainly not like other examples of colonial expansion but for all of that it does serve as a more easily understood lesson to what many modern monarchies (and republics) are in danger of succumbing to. The Kingdom of Hawaii was not actually conquered by the United States, rather, it was lost due to a slow process of demographic decline, an increasingly different population not loyal to the Hawaiian Crown and finally by this new population using their power to take control of the country and make it a part of the country they had come from.

Unlike some other parts of the world, western (in this case American) forces did not come to topple a primitive and barbaric heathen people to save them from darkness and suffering. Hawaii had its own savage history to be sure, but all of that was a distant memory long before 1898. King Kamehameha the Great subdued the other chiefs of the islands, uniting them under his rule and ending the many years of sporadic warfare between the Hawaiian people. This was the start of the establishment of the Kingdom of Hawaii. In 1819 he was succeeded by his son King Kamehameha II and it was during his reign that Protestant Christian missionaries came to Hawaii from the United States. They converted the Royal Family to Christianity and this, in turn, brought an end to certain native customs and taboos which were barbaric. With the 1840 Constitution of King Kamehameha III, the Kingdom of Hawaii officially became a Protestant Christian monarchy. Catholic and even Mormon missionaries arrived later but never attracted many converts. The Kingdom of Hawaii was not a country of ignorant primitives when Americans started to arrive on its shores in growing numbers, rather it was a civilized, though simple, Christian monarchy with all of the trappings of any other well established sovereign kingdom.

Then, more and more Americans started coming to Hawaii but the native population, previously reduced by wars and diseases brought by the first European visitors to the islands, was assured that this was a good thing. The Americans bought land from the natives, employed them and caused the economy to prosper. Members of the Royal Family married Americans and any concern that the Hawaiians were being displaced in their own country were hushed up by those who stood to benefit. To be welcoming was the order of the day and to think about the economic prosperity all of these newcomers brought with them. King Kalakaua, a jovial man, embraced this attitude and encouraged more foreign workers to come to Hawaii during his reign, which started in 1874. He signed an agreement with the United States that proved very beneficial and granted the U.S. Navy the use of Pearl Harbor for the establishment of a base and port facilities. He had big plans, encouraged his people to be educated abroad and when Britain and Germany started expanding in the Pacific, envisioned the Kingdom of Hawaii forming a Polynesian Confederation to block them. However, King Kalakaua found out that the many foreigners he had appointed to high office were more loyal to their own people than they were to him.

In 1887, fearing the King was about to take more direct control of matters, the Americans in Hawaii staged a sort of armed uprising and forced King Kalakaua to sign a new constitution, thereafter known as the "Bayonet Constitution" which stripped the monarch of almost all of his powers. The Kingdom of Hawaii was still to be democratic of course but the franchise was restricted to those who owned land and, by this time, most of the land was owned by Americans. Furthermore, in the interest of goodwill and compassion of course, Americans were allowed to retain the U.S. citizenship while still being nominal subjects of the King of Hawaii. In many ways, the fate of the Hawaiian kingdom was sealed then and there and King Kalakaua died a bewildered man, bitter at his betrayal by the foreigners he had believed were his friends, who had always assured him that their presence and growing influence in the kingdom was for the best and would benefit everyone in the end. It was, of course, not true. They were Americans and not Hawaiians, their first loyalty was to the United States and not the King of Hawaii, their kinship was with those like themselves and not those native to the islands.

Even today there is a degree of mystery that hangs around how all of this was accomplished. Why had the King only encouraged more foreigners to come to Hawaii when clearly his own people were being displaced in their own country and the American influence grew ever stronger. One shady individual many have questioned was one Elias Rosenberg, who appeared one day and was quickly appointed King Kalakaua's chief adviser and who disappeared only three weeks before the "Bayonet Constitution" was forced on the kingdom. In any event, the King died in 1891, leaving the throne to his sister Queen Liliuokalani. Her reign was not to be a long one. Immediately, she began working on replacing the "Bayonet Constitution" with a new government framework which would restore some of the powers of the monarchy as well as broadening the franchise among the native Hawaiian population. Unfortunately, there were already too many Americans and they had too much power for this attempt to turn back the clock to succeed. The foreign population reacted swiftly and launched a republican coup in 1893 to prevent the Queen from changing the constitution. Sailors and Marines from a nearby U.S. warship intervened to prevent any disorder, naturally siding with their own countrymen. Queen Liliuokalani was deposed and a republic was declared which immediately sought annexation to the United States of America.

In 1895 the Hawaiians attempted a counter-revolution to overthrow the republic and put the Queen back on the throne. Needless to say, this was again too little, too late as the American presence had long become far too large and too powerful to dislodge. The uprising was crushed at its outset and Queen Liliuokalani was arrested and put in prison. However, by the following year, the republic pardoned the Queen and released her, being in full control they had nothing to fear from her being at liberty. The native Hawaiian population had, by then, become too greatly displaced to ever pose a threat to the new American regime. A year later, in 1897, the President of the United States signed the treaty of annexation (thus making Hawaii only the second U.S. state, after Texas, to join the Union by treaty) with the official ceremony being held the following year on August 12. Queen Liliuokalani spent the rest of her life in legal battles with the U.S. government, trying to obtain compensation for her loss, mostly to no avail. She was finally granted a pension of $1,250 a month in 1911 but by that time she did not have long to collect as she died in 1917.

The Hawaiian Royal Family is still around today, the current leader of the family being a former member of the state legislature for the Republican Party, his election being rather unusual for what is possibly the most solidly Democrat Party state in the country. In the 1990's the U.S. government, in the person of President Bill Clinton, did officially apologize for the American takeover of the Kingdom of Hawaii but, of course, that accomplishes nothing and it never means much when someone apologizes for something he or she did not do to people who were themselves not the actual victims. Nothing changed. After many years as a U.S. territory, Hawaii became the 50th state of the Union in 1959. Bad laws can be repealed, mistaken policies can be corrected but demographic changes can never be undone and Hawaii is a perfect example of this hard fact. As of 2010 only 10% of the population has any native Hawaiian or even any Polynesian ancestry at all whereas the majority is of foreign descent, primarily the 39% Asian and 25% European/American with the rest being of mixed ancestry or smaller groups. Many are content with this situation, but many are not, however, they are far too few to have much of an impact on the democratic process. The natives of the Kingdom of Hawaii have proven the truth that, "demography is destiny".

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Why North Korea is NOT a Monarchy

North Korea has been in the news a great deal recently and though I have addressed this before (five years ago), it is something that comes up again and again: is North Korea a monarchy? Obviously, people ask this question because the dictator of North Korea is the son of the previous dictator who was the son of the founding dictator of North Korea. Leadership in the country is hereditary and this is associated with monarchy so people tend to make the leap that the “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” is therefore an absolute monarchy rather than the communist dictatorship it is alleged to be. The simple answer to this question is, “no”. Just because the leadership of the country is hereditary no more makes North Korea a monarchy than the fact that the Holy Roman Emperors of the German Nation were elected makes the First Reich a republic. Korea, like most countries, has its own monarchical tradition, its own style of kingship and system of traditional authority which existed prior to its annexation by the Empire of Japan. What exists in North Korea is very clearly not that and nothing at all even like it.

To understand why North Korea is the way it is, it is necessary to go back to the founding dictator of North Korea; Kim Il Sung. Sung was a communist partisan leader in the employ of the Soviet Union, fighting the Japanese at the end of World War II. When the Soviets occupied the northern half of the Korean peninsula, Sung became the communist dictator of North Korea as the protégé of the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. He also had ties with the Chinese Communist Party but, in those days, the Chinese communists were themselves heavily dependent on the Soviet Union and so while it was the Chinese who intervened in the Korean War against the UN and South Korean forces, the DPRK was always a Soviet satellite and received a steady flow of foreign aid from the Soviets for about as long as that regime existed, after which Communist China became the primary patrons of North Korea. Kim Il Sung, in many ways, took Stalin as his example but it is important to note that Sung outlived almost all of the other post-war communist dictators. He died in 1994 and so he had seen Stalin, Mao Zedong, Ho Chi Minh, and others go to their deaths and had witnessed the aftermath.

Kim Il Sung was not best pleased by what he witnessed in the Soviet Union following the death of Stalin. He saw Nikita Khrushchev try to put a kinder face on Soviet Communism with his admission of past mistakes and campaign of de-Stalinization. Kim Il Sung thought this was horrible and he never got along terribly well with Khrushchev because of that. It also made him determined that his work would not be undone by his successor the way Stalin’s had been. In 1980 he publicly declared that his successor would be his son Kim Jong Il. It would later be firmly established in law that the leader of the country must be a descendant of Kim Il Sung, though not strictly hereditary as the leader can choose which of his children are to succeed him. Each has taken care to choose the heir most like themselves and the least likely to change anything. All of this, of course, was seen as quite outrageous in the rest of the communist world and for the very same reason it is being discussed here; a son succeeding his father as leader seemed much too monarchical for any sort of communist regime to consider.

Nonetheless, Kim Il Sung was adamant and could easily point to the changes in other communist countries to justify his actions. How else could he be sure that another successor would not do to his image what Khrushchev had done to that of Stalin? No, far better to restrict the possible candidates to his own offspring who would be most like himself, both genetically and by upbringing. He also began to cultivate a cult of personality more grandiose than was seen in any other communist dictatorship and that too would play a part, making him, his wife and son a sort of unholy trinity for the officially atheist country. By doing this, Sung also ensured that his successors would not stray from the path he had forged for if they did, it would discredit their father and thus discredit themselves in the process. The entire concept was based on political calculations and not respect for tradition. Sung’s own wife, for example, always referred to Sung as “General” rather than “husband” because, as with any Marxist state, your individual identity is only worthy in its relation to the state, not to other people. Terms such as ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ or ‘mother’ and ‘father’ were also, particularly in Confucian societies, inherently hierarchical and thus out of step with the egalitarian ideals of communism. Pol Pot would have people killed for using such terms in his communist state in Cambodia which is why everyone referred to each other as ‘brother’ and ‘sister’ with Pol Pot famously known only as “Brother Number One”.

By the time Kim Jong Il succeeded to the dictatorship of North Korea upon the death of his father in 1994, this whole system and the mythology built up around Kim Il Sung was more firmly cemented in place than ever before. They were determined that nothing should change. They had seen the Soviet Union try to reform and collapse in on itself in the process. They had seen the dictator of Romania executed on camera and they had seen China abandon its Maoist roots under Deng Xiaoping. Nothing of the sort would happen in North Korea where the promise of Kim Jong Il was that absolutely nothing would change under his rule. He did not, however, become the President of North Korea which is another way in which North Korea does not follow any sort of monarchical pattern. He inherited leadership from his father but not the political office of his father. Kim Jong Il was never the President of North Korea because his father Kim Il Sung was the President and would always be the President (and so he still is, despite being long dead). Rather, Kim Jong Il ruled North Korea as General Secretary of the Worker’s Party of Korea (which is to say the communist party though even North Korea no longer even pretends to be communist but claim to operate on a purely unique system of their own design).

Usually, the people in North Korea simply refer to their dictators by their honorific titles. Kim Il Sung was “the Great Leader” and Kim Jong Il was “the Dear Leader”. Likewise, just as Kim Il Sung was declared “Eternal President”, allowing for none to come after him, following the death of Kim Jong Il in 2011, he was declared, “Eternal General Secretary” and his son and successor, the current dictator Kim Jong Un, was made “First Secretary”. Despite all of the “Dear Leader” nonsense, there is evidence that Kim Jong Il was never very popular in North Korea and that he himself knew that the outpourings of affectionate devotion from his people was coerced and not genuine. This seems likely given that he came to power just after the fall of the Soviet Union when the generous financial support Moscow had always provided to its client in Pyongyang suddenly stopped coming and the North Koreans were finally forced to confront the effects of their economic policies which were the height of financial stupidity.

There were also rumors (and that is often all one has to go on concerning the DPRK) that the rule of Kim Jong Il had been bad enough that, before it was over, some wanted to be rid of the “Kim Dynasty”. However, not only would the members of the family be expected to oppose this, it would also go against the wishes of their founder Kim Il Sung who had ordered that the leadership remain with his family until the revolution was “completed”, whatever that means. Kim Jong Il certainly intended things to carry on as they had done but he was presented with a problem in finding a suitable successor. His oldest son, Kim Jong Nam, was suspected of wanting to change things, to perhaps make North Korea a communist dictatorship more like the Chinese model. This was not acceptable. The second son, Kim Jong Chul, was also considered unworthy though we know very little about him other than he’s a fan of Eric Clapton and was described by the dictator’s former Japanese cook as acting “like a little girl”. So, in the end, it was the younger son, Kim Jong Un, who was deemed the most reliable and least likely to change anything. He even adopted a hair style similar to that of his grandfather, Kim Il Sung, to associate himself with North Korea’s founder and most popular dictator.

In 2011 Kim Jong Il died and power passed to his son Kim Jong Un, continuing the dynasty in this nightmarish regime which describes itself as a “thriving socialist society”. Kim Jong Un was originally described as a puppet of the military or older relatives but lately all such talk has mostly vanished, particularly after having an uncle and his own older brother killed. Whether the Kim family will carry on remains to be seen but for our purposes here, it is sufficient to understand that the hereditary nature of this regime is based entirely on pragmatic politics and nothing else. Monarchy is officially classified as a form, indeed the most common form, of “traditional authority” and there is nothing “traditional” about the rule of the Kim family, by Korean or any other standards. The succession is not strictly hereditary but rather restricted to the descendants of Kim Il Sung nor is the highest office hereditary as each dictator has assumed power with the title of a different office than the one before. It is simply a mechanism for maintaining a regime in precisely the manner envisioned by its creator, as a way to ensure that there will be no innovation, no changes and no loss of power for the leadership. In that regard, and perhaps none other, one must admit the Kim family has been successful. They have outlasted the Soviets, the Warsaw Pact countries and have remained on their own path unlike other Asian communist states like China or Vietnam. Despite what many have said about the leaders of this regime, portraying them as silly and laughable, they are not funny, they are not stupid and they know what they are doing. Were it otherwise, they would not still be here, still bedeviling countries far more powerful than their own.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Odd World of Royalist Conspiracy Theories

There is a man, probably unknown to most younger Americans today, named Lyndon LaRouche who was once fairly well known as someone who was constantly running for president without ever winning. He ran on his own at least once as I recall but usually as a Democrat though he never made any headway, never won a primary and thus was never actually nominated. An ardent socialist from a French-Canadian family, he was known for his many and diverse conspiracy theories and his, perhaps, most overriding conspiracy theory involved monarchism and, in particular, the most prominent monarchy in the world, namely the British monarchy. There have, of course, been numerous individuals throughout American history, and doubtless in other countries, who have portrayed the British as the villains of the world but I do not know of any who took it to such an extreme as Lyndon LaRouche or of any other who so particularly singled out the British Royal Family as the authors of this villainy.

To summarize the views of LaRouche and his movement, this man believed that the British Empire was and still is alive and well, despite all evidence to the contrary. He maintains that the supposed global super-power, the United States of America, is, in fact, not even an independent country but is, rather, simply one of the pawns of the British Empire which still dominates the world and that HM Queen Elizabeth II is the unquestioned and absolute ruler of this British Empire which secretly dominates the world. He has claimed that the Queen maintains her position by being at the top of a vast, global, drug cartel network and has never missed on opportunity to accuse the British Royal Family of being responsible for every tragedy and atrocity that has ever come about. Some of these have gained more traction than others, such as his assertion that Diana, Princess of Wales, did not die as a result of a drunk driving accident but was assassinated by British secret agents on orders from the Duke of Edinburgh.

However, while LaRouche insists that the British monarch is the mastermind of this sinister conspiracy, he by no means limits it to the British royals alone. He has often referred to an Anglo-Dutch empire of drug traffickers and, in fact, concludes that since 1688 the Dutch took over the British Empire and set all of this up, so while the House of Windsor is on top today, it is only thanks to their Dutch co-conspirators of days gone by. He, of course, has also played up the German ties of the British Royal Family, past and present, such as by portraying Prince Philip and the late consort of the Dutch monarch, Prince Bernhard, of being Nazis and that the Anglo-Dutch royals are still carrying on the Nazi campaign of genocide on a global scale. He also once made a point to write that Prince Philip was Danish as if this was equivalent to being a Nazi German so, presumably, the Danish Royal Family is implicated as well as the British, Dutch and German royal houses. So, the British Empire rules the world through drug trafficking, except it is actually the Dutch empire under another name and is run by German royals who are all Nazis. Are we clear now?

LaRouche was a very big fan of Franklin D. Roosevelt, but certainly all recent American presidents have simply been the puppets of this Anglo-Dutch British Empire in his view. All of this may seem quite entertaining for southern Europeans but, rest assured, LaRouche does not let you off the hook either. After all, he also asserts that the Anglo-Dutch empire, run by Germans, was established in order to supplant the Venetian empire which dominated European affairs and held all of Europe in its grip previously. So, in the annals of the secret history of the world according to Lyndon LaRouche, before the British Empire dominated the world through banks and drug cartels, it was the Venetian republic which did so, all of the supposedly powerful kings of Spain and France, the German and Italian princes simply being the powerless puppets of the villainous and all-powerful Doge of Venice!

Does this sort of thing happen in other parts of the world? Not to any great extent from what I can tell. I have never heard of any equivalent in Africa or the Islamic countries. In Japan the native monarchy is certainly not talked about in such a way though I have seen a few examples in Japanese entertainment of portrayals of the (again) British monarch being the one who secretly calls the shots, that the British royals and hereditary aristocracy are still the ones really in control of the country, they just do everything behind the scenes so as not to attract notice. That being said, I have to believe this is simply a tool of imaginative fiction and I doubt very seriously anyone in Japan actually believes that. The only non-western equivalent I have ever heard of is the conspiracy regarding the late Qing Dynasty which is prevalent among the more bizarre elements of the Han Chinese nationalists though, obviously, in a country like Communist China, it is hard to know how much of this to take seriously since it is all necessarily based on rumors and such. As conspiracy theories go, it is a fantastic one.

According to these Han-supremacists, depending on which version of the conspiracy you choose to believe, the Great Qing Empire is, like the British Empire, still alive and well and still ruling China secretly, behind the scenes. Some versions of the story say that the Manchu princes themselves are running the show, others that it is simply a conspiracy of Manchurians in general who maintain Manchu supremacy over the Han Chinese. This is quite an accomplishment considering that the Han account for about 92% of the population of China while the Manchurians are practically nonexistent. Even simply counting those with some Manchu ancestry would still be a statistically irrelevant number. Nonetheless, the Han-supremacists who push this conspiracy, carrying on the anti-Manchu sentiment of the late Qing period, believe that the Chinese government and military are riddled with Manchurians who manipulate policy, kill off Han Chinese rivals and guide national affairs. Probably their most well known accusation is that the former “one child policy” was actually a secret program of genocide by the Manchurians to wipe out the Han population.

The idea that there are anti-Han Manchurians in control of China at a time when non-Han minorities have been reduced to a miniscule fraction of the Chinese population is clearly absurd but hardly more absurd than LaRouche arguing that U.S. President Obama, the son of a man imprisoned by the British colonial authorities in Kenya, would be the pliant stooge of the British monarch. It is no less absurd than the conspiracy put forward by the recently deceased Jack Chick that the Islamic religion was created by the Pope as an instrument of the Catholic Church, that the Catholics, Muslims, Jews, pagans and Freemasons were all playing for the same team against his version of “true” Christianity. How can anyone possibly believe any of this?

A simple explanation is that they take certain actual facts and then build absurdities on top of them. The “one child policy” was real, after all. The British Empire did fight the Opium Wars with China and the Catholic Church did absorb many pre-Christian customs of pagan Europe. The Italian city-states and the Dutch republic were major banking centers and London today is one of the financial centers of the world. The conspiracy theories mentioned above take these facts, expand on them and the next thing you know, the Queen is running a drug cartel, Qing princes are ruling Communist China and the Jesuits are the papal assassination squad. As it stands, very few people believe these stories and those who do find them attractive, I think, because they allow people to believe themselves powerless and thus not responsible for the sad state of affairs in which they find themselves. It may reduce people to being powerless dupes but at least it means someone else is to blame, it is not your fault and all you have to do is believe it and support those who told you the “truth”. You do not have to actually take any action as these all-powerful forces would easily thwart you after all, so it is also extremely convenient and requires very little effort on your part, which is how most like it.

There a myriad of these types of conspiracies, aimed against various groups, large and small alike and they can be quite irritating. I find them irritating because, for one thing, secrets are hard to keep and most people with a sinister agenda are quite open about what they are doing because they do not think it is sinister. Focus on winning the game, not dissecting the motives of the other player. I also find it irritating because it gives permission for people to stop taking responsibility for their own actions or, more usually, their inaction. It encourages people to see themselves as victims and there are few things more destructive in the modern world than the victim mentality. It also leads to the same sort of thing that the tens of thousands of Christian denominations led to in western religion which was an ever increasing amount of skepticism. When people do not know what to believe, when there are so many different narratives that are being pushed, people simply give up, stop believing anything they hear and, again, become inactive.

Most intelligent people, I would think, can easily see that conspiracies such as the unseen, all-powerful British Empire or the secret society of Manchurian loyalists are complete and utter nonsense. However, conspiracies do exist. Many people, in America for example, said that all talk of the “Deep State” was a silly conspiracy theory but we now know it to be completely true. Conspiracies exist but they are rarely, if ever, secret or, at the very least, do not stay secret for long. It is also true that not everything that looks like a conspiracy actually is, often it is simply a group of like minded people, working toward the same goal who thus inadvertently assist each other and this can be easily portrayed as a conspiracy even when nothing of the sort was going on. Again, what matters is what they are doing, not who is doing it or how much they coordinate with each other. So, for a monarchist perspective, I would say it does not matter to me so much whether the French Revolution was a Masonic conspiracy, it only matters to me that I think the Revolution was horrible and should have been prevented or stopped. I would oppose anyone favoring the French Revolution whether they were a Freemason or not.

I would also add, frivolously, that these types of conspiracies do make me laugh in as much as the enemies of monarchy tend to have a loftier view of existing monarchs than many monarchists do. While monarchists lament the powerless state of western monarchs, the enemies of monarchy like LaRouche followers still think they are the most powerful people in the world, secretly dominating world affairs behind the scenes. Sometimes, one must simply appreciate the irony of the situation.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Henri, the Unhappy Prince of Denmark

Prince Consort Hendrik of Denmark recently made it known, and the Royal Palace office in Copenhagen confirmed, that he does not wish to be buried alongside his wife Danish Queen Margrethe II. He has said that he does not wish to be buried in his native France so, we presume, he does wish to be buried in the Kingdom of Denmark but not with his wife the Queen. The Palace confirmed that this was because Prince Henri is unhappy with his title of "Prince Consort" and this is nothing all that new. For many years now the word has been circulating about how Prince Henri was dissatisfied with his title and that he resents not having been made "King of Denmark". The official statement from the palace said that the Prince did not appreciate not having equal status with his wife and this is something that has come up with him before. In 2002, he left Denmark in a huff after his son the Crown Prince hosted an official reception in the absence of the Queen since, as heir-to-the-throne, he is second in the royal hierarchy. This offended Prince Henri though he did finally return with the Queen granting to their children a new hereditary title based on that claimed by the French family of her consort. So, again, this is not exactly coming out of the clear blue sky, this is something Prince Henri has been upset about for many years now.

Most of the comments I have heard or seen have been extremely critical of the Prince to say the least of it. Given that, let me say at the outset that, yes, I think the Prince is being childish and that his devotion to his wife should outweigh any question of titles when it comes to where he spends his eternal rest. That being said, this is an issue that the monarchies of Europe have set themselves up for. First of all, we should consider precedent and recognize that this issue has come up before though not in Denmark where Margrethe II was herself almost unprecedented in that she is the first queen regnant Denmark has had in a great many centuries and only the second in the entire history of the western world's oldest monarchy. However, other countries have had to deal with this issue. In the Kingdom of Portugal, the husband of a queen regnant was always titled "king". The French, Germans, Italians, Poles, Belgians and so on never had a queen regnant. England has and the first (not counting Matilda) was Queen Mary I whose husband, King Philip II of Spain, was also titled "King of England". Queen Isabella II of Spain was married to the Duke of Cadiz who was titled "King Consort". Queen Juana of Castile married Philip "the Handsome" of the Habsburgs and he became King Felipe I of Castile, delivering Spain to the House of Habsburg. Her mother, Queen Isabella I of Castile, was of course married to Fernando of Aragon who was a king in his own right. Lord Darnley, husband of the ill-fated Mary Queen of Scots, was titled King Consort and Queen Victoria of Great Britain & Ireland had wanted to make her beloved Prince Albert "King Consort" but the government would not hear of it and so he had to settle for "Prince Consort" instead. The Habsburg domains have had one female ruler, Empress Maria Theresa, and her husband, the Duke of Lorraine, was ultimately elected Holy Roman Emperor. However, none of the English queens since Mary I have done the same, likewise all of the consorts of the Dutch queens have been 'prince consort' and not kings.

So, it has been done, it is only that it has not been done lately. The reason, in the past, was due to Europe being rather more Christian than it is now (which is to say it was Christian, or at least was serious about trying to be). In the vilified days of old, husbands were expected to be the head of their family, the master of the house, in other words the 'boss' and so it was often not thought appropriate that a husband should have a title subservient to that of his wife. Yes, that was then, this is now and this was never an issue in Denmark before but I point it out simply for the sake of context. Prince Henri's desire is not unheard of, just rather unheard of for this century. However, plenty of things are accepted these days that would have been unheard of in those maligned centuries past. Yes, again, I think Prince Henri is doing himself no favors with this petulant behavior but I dare say this will come up again and probably more frequently in the future.

After all, look at it this way: most of the monarchies of Europe have done away with male preference in the succession because the west has abandoned the traditional, Christian, view of the family. This has happened in the name of the 'equality' of the sexes (though obviously not of age but don't get me started on that issue). So, as queens shall become more common in the future of the European monarchies with Spain, Belgium, The Netherlands and Sweden all set to have female monarchs next time around, the egalitarian mentality will beg the question; why is a woman who marries a king given the title of 'queen' but a man who marries a queen is only given the title of 'prince'? Personally, I would not expect anyone to care that much as few seem to care about men being treated unfairly compared to women. Whenever that happens, the feminists suddenly turn all 'patriarchal' and say, "be a man and stop complaining". However, Prince Henri has objected and I would not be at all surprised to see some in the future take up the issue simply as a way of forcing more innovation on the remaining monarchies or just as an excuse to accuse monarchy of being inherently opposed to egalitarianism (which it is). So, yes, by all means, ridicule Prince Henri for his un-gallant behavior but also ask yourself; in this age of supposed equality, why do the girls get to be queens but the boys do not get to be kings when they get married?

Personally, I think it is just another example of the idiocy of the whole egalitarian mindset and particularly of the outright absurdity of trying to enforce "equality" on a monarchy, but, maybe that's just me...

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Monarch Profile: Czar Nicholas I of Russia

One of the more controversial monarchs Russia has had, both in his own time and today, is Czar Nicholas I. For being ready, willing and able to stamp out threats to traditional authority across the continent, he was known in his own time as the “Gendarme of Europe”, the policeman walking the beat on watch for revolutionary republicans. Later he would also be nicknamed, “the Iron Czar” and more recently he is often referred to, slanderously by those who I think are showing their political bias, as the ‘Stalin of Imperial Russia’. This, needless to say, is absurd as the two men were absolutely nothing alike in terms of character, background, worldview or their policies. It is said, I think, for the simplistic reason that both made use of secret police forces, both were intolerant of dissent and that is about where the similarities end. The same, of course, could be said about the vast majority of leaders of countries throughout history and even today. Personally, I think the comparison is more often due to a desire to ‘normalize’ Joseph Stalin in an effort to deny the truth which is that he was the most vicious, sadistic, incompetent and murderous ruler the Russian people have ever had to endure and no one comes close to him in comparison.

Czar Nicholas I, however, did not murder tens of millions of his subjects, he did not stamp out talent wherever he could find it, he did not encourage rebellion and terrorism around the world nor did he have any desire to dominate the planet. He was an autocrat and he was, thus, autocratic but the Czar himself would not have considered this an insulting or derogatory term. He believed to his last breath that it was his duty to God to be autocratic and that his autocracy was exercised in the service of his people as an obligation from God. Czar Nicholas I was a man of deep faith, a man who passionately believed in Russian Orthodox Christianity, in Christian monarchy, traditional authority and in the “Divine Right of Kings” to use a rather outdated term. Czar Nicholas I was also very much a nationalist. His greatest affection was for the Russian people, he believed that Russia was for the Russian people and should be as Russian as humanly possibly. Secondarily, he also had great affection for the Slavic peoples of Europe and felt that it was his duty, after safeguarding the Russian people, to safeguard or liberate to the extent possible other Slavic peoples. His views and priorities could be best illustrated by the slogan for his reign which was, “Orthodoxy, Autocracy, Nationality”. Those are the things he valued most, in that order and each being derived from the former.

Nicholas Pavlovich Romanov was born at Gatchina on June 25, 1796 to Czar Paul and his wife Czarina Maria Feodorovna (Dorothea of Wurttemberg). He did not lead a pampered childhood at all, as was common in Russia despite what people think of royalty in general. He was made to sleep on an army bed, a habit he kept up for the rest of his life (just as Kaiser Franz Joseph of Austria would) and kept to a very strict routine of study and exercise overseen by General Count Lamsdorf. He was not fond of study but very early on came to love the army and military life. He also had instilled in him a very strong and sincere Orthodox Christian faith, which he also tended to view in military terms. God was his supreme commander, he would be His general and lead people on the path to salvation. He joined the Imperial Russian Army in 1814 but, to his deep regret, did not see action in the battles against the French that made Russia famous.

In 1815 he visited Berlin where, as a military man, he was awed by the discipline and professionalism of the Prussian army. He was also very much taken by the daughter of King Friedrich Wilhelm III, Princess Charlotte and he was decisive in his choice of wife. In 1817 the two were married, beginning many years of marital bliss as the two were deeply attached to each other. Taking the Russian name of Alexandra Feodorovna, she gave birth to their first child, the future Czar Alexander II, a year later in 1818. With his army life and his Prussian bride, he was as happy and contented as he could be. Despite his appearance, being a strict and no-nonsense military man, he was a very passionate individual and could become quite emotional at times. One such occasion, when he burst into tears, was when he was told that his brother Constantine had no desire to be Emperor of Russia and that the duty would likely fall on him. His life was just as he wanted it and he did not aspire to the imperial throne. However, as a man of duty, he would do as duty required even if it was a sacrifice for him.

The problem was that there were deep divisions in the upper echelons of the Imperial Russian Army at the time of the death of Czar Alexander I in 1825. During the wars against Napoleon, many Russian officers had picked up a great deal of French thinking and wanted to import these ideas to Russia. Many also disliked Nicholas because he was so strict as a commander and expected everyone to obey army regulations to the letter, regardless of how lofty their rank. Because of this, and because Constantine did not wish to be Czar but refused to make a public statement to that affect, Nicholas was caught in an awkward position. Taking advantage of Constantine’s obstinacy, the liberal army officers began plotting a military coup, thinking they could overthrow Nicholas and have Constantine, a man who had no wish to rule, as a puppet Czar who would do nothing while they made Russia more like Napoleonic France. Some, like Colonel Pavel Pestel, of the Southern Society, even wanted to overthrow the monarchy and establish a republic. Fortunately for Nicholas, someone informed him about what these secret societies were up to.

On December 14, 1825 Nicholas was proclaimed Emperor and Autocrat of all the Russias and only hours later a group of these army dissidents, known as Decembrists, gathered in Senate Square in St Petersburg, demanding a constitution for Russia, emancipation of the serfs and pledging themselves loyal to Constantine. Nicholas was ready for them and soon came out with his loyal troops to surround them. There was a period of tension as Nicholas demanded that these men return to duty as he wished to avoid spilling Russian blood if at all possible. However, there would be no stepping down for the Decembrists and, as much as he disliked doing so, Czar Nicholas I would not shirk his duty and he ordered the artillery to open fire on them. The attempted uprising was crushed at the outset and 56 men were killed. The new Czar spent the first night of his reign at the Winter Palace interrogating the dissidents and, in the end, 253 were punished with various terms of imprisonment or exile, 31 were sent to spend the rest of their lives in hard labor in Siberia but only 5 were executed.

There would certainly be no constitution and no emancipation of the serfs for the Russian Empire under Nicholas I and this incident on the very first day of his reign only convinced him that revolutionary republicanism was a disease that was easily spread and he would have to be all the more strict and all the more on guard that it never be allowed to take root in Russia. He would be a very ‘hands-on’ ruler, toured the country extensively, had studies taken of the situation and would enact any needed changes gradually and carefully. In domestic policy, his focus was on stability. In foreign policy, he was certainly no warmonger, fearing that wars cause stress that could be exploited by revolutionaries. However, war was not long in coming to his door due to the traditional enemies of Russia in Persia and Turkey. In 1826 the Persians (Iranians) arrested the Russian ambassador and launched a war to regain provinces in the Caucasus lost to Russia in a previous conflict. Czar Nicholas responded swiftly and forcefully.

From the spring of 1826 to 1828 the Russians and Persians fought for control of the Caucasus. In the end, Russia was again victorious and Armenia, Azerbaijan and what is now Igdir Province were ceded to Russia and Russia was able to have a fleet on the Caspian Sea. This was the last of the official Russo-Persian Wars but they still resonate today. Russia, which aids and has helped to arm and strengthen modern-day Iran, mostly does not remember these conflicts but the Iranians certainly do and still consider all of these areas, as well as parts of what is today southern Russia, to rightfully belong to them and they still intend to take it all back someday. That Russia would assist in strengthening Iran is a notion that Czar Nicholas I would have considered too ridiculous to even be entertained for a moment. The Turkish Ottoman Empire was also a regime that the Czar never trusted for a moment, yet it was a more difficult issue. He detested the fact that the Caliph of Islam continued to rule over large populations of Orthodox Christians in the Balkans, yet he also believed in traditional authority and that, as the legitimate monarch, all of the subjects of the Ottoman Sultan had a duty to submit to him.

The Persian conflict had been one of self-defense, forced on him by the Persians. However, as long as the Turkish Sultan did not attack Russia, he could take no action. Again, he knew how easily revolution can spread and just as the Turkish Sultan would not want his Christian subjects to rebel, the Czar would not wish the Catholic, Lutheran or Muslim subjects of the Russian Empire to rebel against him. Instead, he cooperated with the British and French to push for the Greeks to be given autonomy within the Ottoman Empire and for Russian merchant ships to have access to the Straits to reach the Mediterranean. However, the Sultan refused to grant autonomy to the Greeks and after signing an agreement granting Russian ships access to the Straits, the Sultan then closed the Straits, and this finally induced the Czar to declare war on the Turks in 1828. Once again, the Imperial Russian Army was everywhere victorious on both the Balkan and Caucasian fronts. When Russian troops captured Adrianople in August of 1829, moving toward Constantinople, the Turkish Sultan decided to sue for peace. The resulting treaty gave autonomy and Russia the right to occupy Moldavia and Wallachia until the Turks completed their war reparations payments and gave autonomy to Serbia. It also gave Turkish recognition to Russian sovereignty over Armenia and Georgia and granted autonomy to Greece which, by 1830, the major powers of Europe agreed to advance to complete independence for a Greek kingdom.

The early years of the reign of Nicholas I had been ones of calm at home and glorious victories over Russia’s enemies abroad. Things were going very well. However, in 1830, the Czar was alarmed when revolution broke out in France in July and in Belgium (then part of the United Netherlands) in August. The situation in France ended fairly quickly but the Czar was slow to recognize the new regime of King Louis Philippe, however, he did finally do so as he soon had his own problems to deal with. As he was always eager to help any brother monarch threatened by revolution, when the Belgians rose in revolt, he quickly messaged King Willem I of the Netherlands with an offer of a Russian and Polish army to help him crush the Belgians. This, however, set off an uprising in Poland as the Poles had no desire to do such a thing, particularly considering that they were Catholics living under an Orthodox monarch and could sympathize with the Catholic Belgians who were subjects of a Protestant monarch. The Polish uprising of November 1830 was very serious indeed. Many Poles had never been happy ever since the Habsburg, Hohenzollern and Romanov monarchs had partitioned their country out of existence and suppressing them would take a fair amount of time and energy. It was not until September of 1831 that Russian Imperial troops were able to regain control of Warsaw.

In the aftermath of this rebellion, Czar Nicholas I was convinced that previous Russian monarchs had been far too lenient on the Poles. He considered Poland vital to the status of Russia as a power in Europe, placing it within reach of the western powers and he would not tolerate any dissent there. He closed down Polish universities, abolished the Polish parliament and the separate Polish army. Poland would be ruled more directly from St Petersburg and he also began forcing the Poles to speak Russian. The Czar who believed in, “Orthodoxy, Autocracy and Nationality” wanted to suppress disunity in his empire and one way was to have everyone be conversant in the same language. He placed similar requirements on Belorussia and Ukraine in what has since been called a campaign of ‘Russification’. To the extent possible, he wanted to make Russia an empire of one people, with one faith under one monarch. Obviously, there would be differences among his subjects but he wanted to at least apply pressure toward greater unity in language and religion.

Despite what many have said since, the Russian economy grew during the reign of Czar Nicholas I, though certainly not as quickly as occurred in some other countries. The Czar was not a fan of modernization and feared that railroads would ‘weaken the moral fiber of Russian society’. However, if it could help in suppressing revolution, he could be persuaded. When he saw how quickly the British were able to dispatch their redcoats from Manchester to Liverpool to respond to a rebellion in Ireland, he thought he might give railroads a chance and so the first Russian rail line, running from Tsarskoe Selo to St Petersburg, was opened in 1837. Russia still lagged behind the other great powers but things were certainly not stagnant as they are often portrayed. Wars, which the Czar did not start but had forced upon him, did tend to cause inflation but it did not get out of control and exports of wheat increased and the cotton industry grew.

When it came to serfdom, which the Decembrists had wanted to abolish, Czar Nicholas I was, again, quite different from how he is often portrayed. The Czar did not like serfdom, indeed, he strongly opposed it. Yet, the Czar did not feel it would be right to impose emancipation on the nobility who depended on serfdom. To do so would doubtless inflame the nobility against the monarchy and it could cause immense social unrest by raising expectations, not only among the emancipated serfs, but the rest of the Russian populace as well. Instead, true to character, Czar Nicholas tried to lead by example. The Crown Estates of Russia covered vast tracts of the country and were home to a huge number of serfs. The Czar ordered the general in charge of these lands to enact changes to improve the lives of the serfs who lived and worked on these imperial properties. Poorer serfs were allotted more land, schools were built for their children and new model farms were established. Nicholas hoped that the rest of the nobility would follow his example in this regard and do similar things to improve the lives of their own serfs. Some noble Russian aristocrats did exactly this but, unfortunately, most did not.

Another internal matter for which Nicholas I is often attacked is in the area of education. Modern historians tend to associate the reign of Nicholas I with censorship and excessive use of the secret police. However, the Czar increased spending on education and opened a number of new technical and vocational schools. The Czar was certainly not opposed to education or thought it of no value, he simply insisted that the education teach things of practical value (imagine that) and teach students to be loyal, patriotic and pious Russians. He would not tolerate the dissemination of revolutionary ideas and these things did tend to circulate most heavily among the educated class which is why the Czar tended to distrust them. What is also often overlooked is that the Third Section, tasked with hunting down subversive elements, was also tasked with finding and eliminating corruption within the government, dishonest and incompetent officials which is something that is almost always overlooked. It is also worth noting that despite this intolerant atmosphere of censorship that liberal historians moan about, newspaper circulation increased under Nicholas I and Russian literature flourished. Nicholas I was also very interested in architecture and patronized a number of building projects throughout his reign.

The one area at home in which Nicholas could be faulted somewhat was in his private life. Unlike Alexander III or Nicholas II, Czar Nicholas I did have a mistress, one Vervara Nelidova, one of his wife’s ladies-in-waiting. However, I am more inclined to be forgiving of the Czar on this score than I would be with most other monarchs because of the circumstances. As stated previously, Nicholas and his wife truly loved each other and that never changed. They were extremely close, very affectionate and very familiar with each other. She called him “Nicks” and he called her “Mouffy”. Unfortunately, the Czarina began to suffer from increasingly poor health and was eventually diagnosed with a heart condition. She became increasingly frail and finally the doctors advised that she cease from performing her marital duties. It was only at that point that Nicholas began his affair with Nelidova. He never lost any of his respect or affection for his wife and would have preferred restricting his affections to her but, as her condition did not allow this, the Czar found that while the spirit indeed was willing, his flesh was weak. He would not endanger the health of his beloved wife so he would satisfy his physical desires with Nelidova. It was a purely sexual relationship and the Czarina always remained his most beloved and his most trusted confidant. Unfortunately, gossip of such things does tend to spread and when, due to his own health problems, the Czar began to show his age, his enemies spread lurid tales that greatly exaggerated his extramarital escapades. Whispers grew to the effect that Nelidova was wearing him out and things of that nature. It was not true of course but it arose from the one blot on an otherwise spotless record of moral fortitude.

As the Czar of Russia, Nicholas of course had many obligations to distract him from such things and one subject that remained a constant problem was the Turks. Nicholas worried a great deal about the state of the many Orthodox Christians living under Turkish rule, yet he showed more astute judgment than many Twentieth Century politicians would in that he understood that the collapse of the Ottoman Empire would lead to chaos. By supporting the Turks against the Egyptians he gained a favorable agreement regarding the Straits and he also agreed with the King of Prussia and the Emperor of Austria that the Ottoman Empire should be maintained and to oppose the French in their efforts to increase their influence by undermining the Turks. The three monarchs agreed that, if the Ottoman Empire should begin to dissolve, they would work together to see to it this would be done in an orderly way, particularly in the Balkans, under their cooperative guidance. Privately, Nicholas thought that the Ottoman Empire was doomed but he was convinced that it would require all of the great powers working together to handle this when the time came. Unfortunately for him, while Nicholas thought that the British were on the same page as he was, the British did not think he was being sincere and with their liberal press full of stories portraying Nicholas as a harsh, authoritarian tyrant, they were convinced that he intended to expand Russian territory at the expense of Turkey and that they should, therefore, support the Turks. This would have very disastrous consequences in the years to come.

The Turkish situation soon faded to the background when the worst thing possible in the mind of Nicholas I occurred in 1848 when revolutions began breaking out all across Europe. Whereas, in 1830, the Czar had been quick to offer help to any imperiled monarch, this time he was slower to respond, fearing trouble at home as the unrest spread so far, so quickly. He did not want to have his army far away in a foreign country if a major rebellion suddenly broke out in the Russian Empire itself. However, the threat of revolution on the doorstep of Russia was another matter. He stamped down calls for a constitution in Moldavia and Wallachia but the real crisis arose when revolution broke out in the Austrian Empire. The Hungarians rebelled and the Polish areas under the Habsburg Crown rose up as well to support them. This greatly alarmed the Czar as he feared the bulk of the Polish population, under the Romanov Crown, might follow their example. However, there were uprisings in almost all parts of the Austrian Empire, even in Vienna itself but most seriously in Italy and Hungary and the Austrians simply could not cope with them all. Czar Nicholas I decided to intervene and sent the Imperial Russian Army into Hungary to crush the rebellion there in support of the new Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph. A fair-minded man, he also intervened in Germany to prevent Prussian aggression against Denmark, resulting in an agreement by 1850.

Although there had been no serious unrest in Russia itself, the revolutions of 1848 caused Nicholas to redouble his efforts to guard against any hint of unrest or dissent and not unreasonably so. He was more vigilant than ever, yet, the next great crisis would be the most serious of his reign and it would come from without rather than within. It all started in the Holy Land where the French, under Napoleon III, demanded privileges from the Ottoman Sultan for the local Catholic population which had previously been given to the Orthodox Christians. Czar Nicholas, quite understandably, objected to this and intervened with the Sultan on behalf of the Orthodox Christians, seeing himself as their protector. He also did not want to see French influence spread in the region and assumed that, as in the past, the British and Austrians would be in agreement with him, particularly as he had just pulled Austria’s chestnuts out of the fire in Hungary. However, they did not and, backed by the French and British, the Turks were defiant and soon Russia broke off diplomatic relations and sent an army to the Russo-Turkish border in the Balkans.

The British media worked the public into a furor on the issue and the politicians made harsh denunciations of Russia that they could not back down from, accusing Russia of preparing for a war of conquest against the Turks. The Czar wanted no such thing and tried to settle the issue by compromise but, emboldened by the French and British showing support, the Turkish Sultan refused to budge and furthermore demanded that the Russians withdraw from Moldavia and Wallachia. In October of 1853 Russia and Turkey began what became known as the Crimean War. Britain and France soon joined in on the side of Turkey, the Italian Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia would later as well. This was all bad enough, but the most infuriating thing of all was when the Emperor of Austria demanded that Russia evacuate Moldavia and Wallachia as well, threatening to join the war on the allied side otherwise. Nicholas thus had no choice but to comply but he was positively enraged that the Habsburg monarch, of all people, would do such a thing, having so recently come to his rescue when the Habsburg monarchy was in real danger of total collapse. It was a slight that the Russians would not forget.

As the war went, the initial battles with the Turks had been Russian victories. However, as the British and French landed expeditionary forces on the Crimean Peninsula, things began to go badly. The shortage of railroads meant that the Russian generals could not get troops and supplies where they were needed quickly enough. The Russians were not as well equipped as the French and British, and whereas they could focus on the Crimean front, Russia had to maintain troops there, in the Balkans and in the Caucasus against the Turks. The war devolved into a bloody stalemate and siege warfare, focused around Sevastopol in a way that would look very familiar to observers of the last year of the American Civil War or most of World War I. More than half a million Russians would die in the conflict and it would end in defeat, a bitter blow for the nation which had previously known victories over the pan-European army of Napoleon, the Shah of Persia and the Ottoman Sultan. Many believed that Czar Nicholas I would have sooner killed himself than agree to the peace Russia was eventually forced to make but he did not live long enough to see the end. He caught pneumonia after a military parade and died on February 18, 1855.

As the length of this profile probably indicates, I will admit to being very partial to Czar Nicholas I and likely all the more so because he tends to be so often and unjustly criticized. In his own time, his fellow monarchs almost invariably had a low opinion of him which seems like a disgusting level of ingratitude for the man who was ever ready to rush to the defense of any one of them in their time of crisis. He was a very monarchist monarch, a man of principle and integrity. He was a man of faith and a ruler who took his duties to God and his nation very seriously. He was a man of good character and a much more capable and successful ruler than most are willing to give him credit for. Modern liberal historians describe him only in terms of a reactionary who oppressed everyone and enforced stagnation on his country. Not true. Literature and architecture flourished under his reign, the economy expanded and he ruled over a Russian Empire that was larger than it had ever been before or ever would be again. True, other powers advanced more quickly in technology and industry but given the fact that Nicholas was confronted by one crisis after another, from his very first day on the throne, it is entirely understandable that he would make security and stability his top priorities. He was a great man and a great monarch. Russia was fortunate to have such a man at such a difficult time.

Monday, July 31, 2017

The Crimean War All Over Again?

The U.S. Senate, you know, the upper house of the American legislature with a Republican majority that could not muster enough Republican votes to appeal ‘Obamacare’ which they spent the last seven years promising to do, did manage to pass a sanctions bill against Russia, with Iran and North Korea added as an afterthought, with a huge bi-partisan majority of Republicans and Democrats. Because North Korea was added it must now go back to the House of Representatives but is certain to pass there, again, with Democrat and Republican support, with a large enough majority to override any presidential veto. The Trump has said he will sign it, despite some earlier misgivings, I think simply because he will look impotent if he vetoes a bill that becomes law anyway. Some people, on both the left and the right by the way, have warned that this is insane as sanctions usually end with war and, as Russia has thousands of nuclear weapons, such a thing could be disastrous.

U.S. forces in Narva, Estonia (which borders Russia)
What is the reason for this? It depends on who you ask. The Democrats, of course, are still wailing about Russia “hacking” the 2016 election, “attacking our democracy” and so on while the Republicans justify their support (as some Democrats do too) by pointing to Russian actions in Ukraine. The Ukrainians, coincidentally I’m sure, have also recently been talking about joining NATO and the European Union but no one in the halls of power in Washington DC or Brussels think Russia should have any reason to worry about that. However, the European Union (pertinent here as it contains most of Europe’s remaining monarchies) has said they are less than thrilled about these sanctions which will impact European companies which do business with Russia, particularly in the energy sector as Europe buys most of their natural gas from Russia. It is a far cry from the tone of the same European leaders who wailed about Russian interference in the French presidential elections or Russian interference in the “Brexit” vote and who backed the NATO military buildup in the Baltic. The EU, it seems, wants to endlessly provoke Russia but does not want to actually put their money where their mouth is.

The American politicians, needless to say, do not want war with Russia either (though a war with Syria or Iran is something I would not consider beyond them) and they would be doing none of this if they believed for a moment that Russia would ever fight back. The more dim even act as though they are completely ignorant of the fact that the choice between war or peace with Russia is one that is not only up to them but up to the leadership in Moscow as well. I really wish people would learn from history, the common lament of historians of all ages I am sure. All of this should remind us of the Crimean War and not just because Crimea and Ukraine are again at issue. For those not familiar or who would like to refresh their memory, read this past post about the Clash of Monarchies in the Crimean War. Suffice it to say that neither Britain or France really expected to get into a war with Russia over what amounted to a sort of turf-feud between Christian factions in the Holy Land. Napoleon III of France, who took the side of the Catholics (silly man), was satisfied by Turkish concessions on the issue and the British, being a Protestant country and not Catholic or Orthodox really had ‘no dog in the fight’, so to speak, concerning the original issue. How then did this all come to war?

British troops depart for Crimea
The answer lies with the British, specifically the British politicians and their allies in the media. Already sounding familiar isn’t it? One political faction in Britain wanted to fight, or at least said that they did, while the other urged compromise. They were more concerned about fears of Russian rivalry on the wider world stage, about areas where the British and Russian empires were bumping up against each other in Central Asia. They portrayed the Russians as brutes and Czar Nicholas I as a ruthless tyrant who suppressed opposition, killed dissidents and so on. Doesn’t that sound familiar? They could not compare him to Hitler of course but no doubt they did the best they could along those same lines. Their allies in the media pumped up public outrage against the Russians, picking on the poor, victimized Turks, and the demand for action by the British government began to grow at an alarming rate. This is how, in the end, the Her Majesty’s government was forced by public pressure, their own alarmism and brinksmanship into a war they did not really want over issues that could not be clearly defined.

After having stoked the fires of anti-Russian sentiment to such a degree, the politicians in London were left with no other option but to make good on their threats rather than face the public humiliation of backing down from their hysteria. The Czar of Russia was not averse to talking the matter over but he was also not about to back down over an issue in which he clearly felt that he was in the right. He would not and, given his character, could not simply wash his hands of the large Orthodox Christian population living under Ottoman rule in the Holy Land and the Balkans. The result was a war in which nearly 40,500 British troops were killed, France lost over 100,000, Sardinia lost just over 2,000 and the Turks lost almost 45,500 men. The Russians lost the war of course and had casualties of over half a million, just over 500,000 compared to total Allied losses of just over 200,000. Their position was severely weakened and yet, what had the Allies really won with their victory over Russia in Crimea? The French abandoned their interests in the region when another republic replaced Napoleon III, brought down by the Germans in 1870, and the Russian Imperial Navy was soon back in the Black Sea and the British could do nothing about it since neither the French or Germans would support them. Hopes the British had of added Alaska to Canada were thwarted when Czar Alexander II sold the vast territory to the United States. What had Britain gained? Not much.

President Vladimir Putin
What is possibly the most frustrating thing for me about so many of these international issues is the empty preening of the political classes of the various countries which they often represent. For example, the U.S. is going to put harsher sanctions on Russia because they “interfered” in the last U.S. election and they invaded a neighboring country. Okay, let us suppose for a moment all of that is true, you could also say the same thing about Communist China and yet, not only does the U.S. refrain from putting sanctions on China but both parties howled in anguish when they thought the Trump was going to start a “trade war” with China. Are the Ukrainians more worthy of support than the Tibetans, Indians or Vietnamese? Was the Chinese desire for a Bill Clinton victory any more interfering than the Russian desire for a Hillary Clinton defeat? The answer is that putting sanctions on Russia has no impact on the U.S. because America does very little business with Russia anyway. It does a great deal of business with China, as everyone else does, even Taiwan, and so sanctions on China would be even more problematic for America than the sanctions on Russia are for Europe.

It is, I think, worthwhile to take a step back and look at the basic situation here. Russia does not have military forces or military bases in any country bordering the United States. Russia has not attacked the United States and the same European leaders who howled about Trump rubbishing NATO during the campaign and demanded reassurance of America’s commitment to their defense are now not wanting to get so tough on Russia after all. Iran, likewise, (and regular readers will know what I think of the monstrous and illegitimate regime in Tehran) is no threat to the United States and never have Shiite Islamic terrorists attacked the United States itself. Sunni Islamic terrorists have, many, many times and yet we are sanctioning the Islamic Republic of Iran while selling weapons to the (Sunni) Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. North Korea, finally, is more problematic and yet, one could make the case that they would not be threatening America if American forces were not right next door in South Korea and Japan. The South Korean government, particularly the new President, does not want to take a hard line with North Korea and is very friendly with China. So, on that front, my question is; if South Korea is not worried about the North, why should Americans be? Pull the U.S. forces out and let South Korea handle the situation.

Where sanctions tend to lead...
Both sides of most of these issues are doing a great deal of talking and threatening and most of them do not really mean a word of what they are saying. However, my concern is that the Democrats and Republicans in America are creating a media hysteria that will pull them into a war with Russia, a stupid, pointless war even if it be victorious, just as happened to Britain in the Crimean War. I would also point out again that the ultimate decision between war or peace is not up to the stuff-shirts in Washington alone. The U.S. once put sanctions on Japan, tougher and tougher sanctions all while proclaiming how the U.S. only wanted peace. On the Sunday morning of December 7, 1941 they found out the hard way that the other side has a say in when wars start too, not just your own. I would hate to see that happen again, particularly when no vital interest is at stake and on behalf of alliances that are a total farce.
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