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Croatia’s Patron Saints; the House of Habsburg and the Idea of the Reich

St. George (engraving) by Albrecht Dürer

What follow is the English translation of my lecture given in the German language for the gentlemen of the Order of St. George, held on September 29, 2012 in the city of Varaždin, Croatia, under the patronage of the House of Habsburg and the crown prince Karl von Habsburg. The speech was subsequently published in the December 2012 issue of the Austrian literary monthly Die Aula.

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The word ‘Reich’ (empire) and “the idea of the Reich” have become ugly ideas. In accordance with new politically correct language rules, these words trigger feelings of unease among German and Austrian politicians. If one were to push it further in a poignant manner, one might just as well dispose of the German language altogether. In the United States, but also in England, the word ‘Reich’ reminds many people of something sinister, something threatening, of the proverbial Hitler — and of the Third Reich. Yet the idea of a Reich has a thousand-year long history and one encounters this word in the Weimar Republic and in post-war Western Germany. In fact one could say that the EU bears also some traits of the Holy Roman (German Reich) Empire, or at least should have had them in the first place.

The idea of the Reich is also a question of identity. For a long time this idea was — in a figurative sense — a patron saint of Central Europeans. The word ‘identity’ or the “imperial idea”, however, is not appropriate for deeper social analyses, since these words are ambiguous and may convey distorted meanings. Read more

The Politics of Non-White Ethnic Coalitions: Tipping Point of a Changing Electorate

Anyone who remembers the early 1960s—a period that Charles Murray describes as the zenith of American society—knows that our country is not the same. The America that Baby Boomers fondly immortalize is reaching the point of no return. It is the same America that Obama rebuffed when he criticized Mitt Romney for attempting to return to the “social policies of the 1950s.” It is a country that was culturally and socially unified, less diverse, less violent, less crowded, and had a smaller and less intrusive federal government. Obama’s repeated snubs at the 1950s during the 2012 presidential campaign would lead one to conclude that it was a dreadful era Americans should abhor.

Political analyst Michael Barone recently noted, “The culturally cohesive America of the 1950s that some of us remember, usually glossing over racial segregation and the civil rights movement, is no longer with us and hasn’t been for some time.” According to 1960 Census figures, the White population of the U.S. was 88 percent—158 million out of a total 180 million. The entire non-White population was only 12 percent of the U.S. population. In fact, the published census data in the table “Population, by Race, by States: 1940–1960,” listed the U.S. population by race in three categories: “White, Negro, Other races.” Hispanics, consisting of less than 1 percent of the total U.S. population, were categorized as “other races.” Read more

Where is the historical West? Part 5 of 5

Russia

The West also includes areas which are seen today as partially Western. I am thinking (firstly) of Russia. There is much uncertainty about Russia’s Europeanism. Perhaps of all the cultural factors which may classify Russia as Western none is more important than the bringing of Christianity to the Slavs by Byzantium scholars in the 10th century. With the end of Byzantium, the role of the emperor as a patron of Eastern Orthodoxy was certainly claimed by Ivan III (1440-1505), Grand Duke of Muscovy. Yet, the same Caesaropapism we saw in Byzantium developed in Russia, leading some historians to question Russia’s place in the West.  The Russian allegiance to Orthodox Christianity, they argue, kept Russia outside of the Catholic scholastic culture, the Papal Revolution, rise of autonomies cities and universities. Russia was the most resistant to classical liberalism. While Tsar Alexander I (1801-1825) was raised in the ideas of the Enlightenment, and during the beginning of his reign relaxed censorship and reformed the educational system, he refused to grant a constitution; and, after the defeat of Napoleon, he returned to strict and arbitrary censorship. In 1914 the Russian autocracy and its police were firmly in controlled. In March 1917, the Tsarist autocracy fell apart, and a provisional government led by the middle classes and liberal nobles passed reforms that provided universal suffrage, civil equality, and an eight-hour workday, but in October 1917 a small militant faction toppled this liberal government and set out to transform Russia into a bureaucratically centralized state dominated by a single party.  The Soviets tried to destroy every institution and cultural lifestyle associated with Russia’s Christian past in order to reconstitute society on the basis of an anti-Western doctrine Read more

Where is the historical West? Part 4 of 5

The Hellenistic World

Europe’s connectedness has created much confusion and opened the door for the imposition of a Trotskyite program claiming that Europe’s history was dictated by developments occurring elsewhere. But I wish to argue that Europe, despite its many connections, external influences, internal changes, and colonization of non-White areas, was until recently, before the imposition of open borders and mass immigration, a clearly identifiable area historically, geographically and ethnically. Let me start with the Hellenistic world, a vast area testifying to the vigor of the West yet hardly “Western” beyond small segments of its territorial/demographic potpourri.

Western Civ textbooks always include a full chapter on the Hellenistic era to describe a period of about three centuries, roughly from 323 BC to 30 BC, during which time, Greek culture, after the conquests of Alexander the Great, was brought over a remarkably wide area from its small Hellenic homeland — to Egypt and far into East Asia. The significance of the Hellenistic era, however, does not consist in the vast areas and diverse peoples it covered, but in the high cultural accomplishments this period saw in literature, art, science, medicine, and philosophy led by ethnic Greek individuals, particularly in the cities of Alexandria and Pergamum. The new schools of philosophy, Epicureanism, and Stoicism were actually centered in Athens. Aristarchus of Samos (310-230 BC), Archimedes (287-212 BC), the author of Euclid’s Elements (early in the third century BC), Eratosthenes of Cyrene (275-195), including the characteristics of Hellenistic sculpture and literature, were all Greek.  Although the four Hellenistic kingdoms which emerged as the successors to Alexander (Macedonia, the Seleucid kingdom in Mesopotamia, the Ptolemy dynasty in Egypt, and the kingdom of Pergamum in western Asia Minor) involved a clash and fusion of different cultures and ethnic groups, the political elites and high culture of these kingdoms were thoroughly Greek. The Greek/Macedonian rulers of these kingdoms encouraged the spread of Greek colonists to the Near East; with the result that cities were created replicating the architecture and political institutions of the Hellenic homeland. Many of these new urban centers were completely dominated by Greeks, while natives remained cut off from all civic institutions. A group of Greeks who broke away from the Seleucids carried Hellenistic culture as far to the east as the Indus valley, creating an Indo-Bactrian society. Read more

Where is the historical West? Part 3 of 5

The West is Difficult

Western civilization is the most difficult to identify geographically for two reasons: i) the West has been the most dynamic territorially, developing across many lands, while advancing to higher stages of knowledge and power in the course of which it experienced “rises” and “declines” in different territories, ii) the West is the only civilization with a developmental pattern characterized by dramatic alternations in its philosophical outlooks and institutions. All in all, the West has displayed far more territorial movements, cultural novelties, and revolutions in the sciences and arts; and, for this reason, answering “where is the West?” requires one to ask “what is the West?” with an awareness of the fact that both the “what”  and the “where” have changed over time.

This civilization, for example, is not simply “Christian” in the way others are “Confucian” or “Hindu” in a more stable, less varying way. Its Christian character alone has been infused with a theological and institutional dynamic (flowing from its synthesis with classical reason and Indo-European aristocratic expansionism) stimulating a multiplicity of monastic movements, Cluniacs and Cistercians, Franciscans and Dominicans, heterodox movements (Pelagians, Waldensians, Cathars), not to mention Crusades and numerous Protestant denominations lacking elsewhere. The West—depending on locality, time, and groups— has been Platonic, Aristotelian, Epicurean, Stoic, Cynic, Augustinian, Monarchist, Newtonian, Gothic, Anglican, Humanist, Republican, Machiavellian, Hegelian, Fascist, Marxist, Darwinian, Surrealist, Cubist, Romantic, Socialist, Liberal, and much  more. By contrast, the intellectual traditions set down in ancient/medieval times in China, the Near East, India, and Japan would persist in their essentials until the impact of the West brought some novelties. Read more

Where is the historical West? Part 2 of 5

Carleton Coon

What follows is a revised paper trying to answer the same question while taking account of the prohibited criteria of race. This is not a paper on the geographical distribution of the Caucasoid race. The objective is to ascertain the historical geography of Western civilization/culture without ignoring race. The concept of race will be implicit rather than the subject of investigation. I will accept as generally true the standard investigation of Carleton S. Coon’s book, The Living Races of Man, published in 1965. Humans are members of the species Homo sapiens, and all the members of this species, regardless of geographic location, can breed together and produce mixed offspring.  However, “humans also vary racially to an unusual degree,” and thus it is possible to divide humans into sub-species of races. While there is (still) no general consensus on the number of races, the term “race” is sufficiently precise to allow for a general classification of humans on earth. For the purposes of this paper, it should suffice to mention that, according to Coon, the three major sub-species of races are: Caucasoid, Mongoloid, and Congoid. He identifies four more races. He also draws further divisions within each of these main racial types to take account of important additional morphological differences, geographical variations, and the ways in which different environments engendered cultures which “profoundly” affected the character of the races. The following succinct statement by Coon is worth quoting:

A race is a major segment of a species originally occupying, since the first dispersal of mankind, a large, geographically unified, and distinct region, and touching on the territories of other races only by relatively narrow corridors. Within such a region each race acquired its distinctive genetic attributes – both its visible physical appearance and its invisible biological properties – through the selective forces of all aspects of the environment, including culture. After having become differentiated in this fashion, each race filled out its space, resisting, because of its superior local adaptation, the encroachment of outsiders with whom it mixed, from time to time if not continuously, along its borders (p. 10).

But what about the much talked-about difference between ethnicity and race? The more we emphasize culture the closer we are to the concept of ethnicity. The term “race” pays closer attention to the genetic attributes of a given group, whereas when the term “ethnicity” pays closer attention to the cultural attributes of a group, i.e., language, religion, customs, institutions, and historical experiences. This does not mean that ethnicity excludes the genetics of race. Liberals think they can suppress the concept of race by defining ethnicity in cultural terms and thereby defining race as a “cultural construct”. Coon correctly avoids this arbitrary elimination of physiological and genetic factors from his definition of race without ignoring the importance of culture. I use the term ethnicity as an intermediate term between race and culture. Western civilization comprises many ethnic groups with difference languages, cuisines, histories, which are nevertheless members of the Caucasoid race. Likewise there are many ethnic groups within the Mongoloid and Congoid sub-species.    Read more

Where is the historical West? Part 1 of 5

Over a year ago I completed a 5000-word draft offering an answer to this question.  A few months later, after recurrent visits to VDare, American Renaissance, The Occidental Observer, and Counter-Currents my answer seemed naïve, adolescent; one more paper carved out under the “tyranny of liberalism” and the belief that the Western world was different from the Rest in its cultivation of universal values and transcendence of ethnic identities.  I no longer accepted the claim that humans around the world could become Western through proper guidance in the merits of civic equality, free markets, and tolerance.

I had been inching my way in this direction for some years, but never to the point of allowing the word ‘race’ to enter into my writings. In the draft I emphasized the ancient and medieval pre-liberal social context upon which the historic success of liberalism was predicated, but the convergence of my view with liberalism was obvious: the triumph of universalism was the high point of the West. I thought that identifying the location of the West was a matter of tracing the historical evolution of this ideology, beginning with the rise of citizenship and rational discourse in ancient Greek times, through the Roman invention of the legal persona, the Catholic fusion of reason and faith, the discovery of the individual in Renaissance times, the Newtonian Revolution, the Enlightenment, and so on, until the Allied victory in 1945 or even the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

What concerned me above all (in the draft) was challenging the leftist liberal idea that the historic West was a social construct without definite geographical and cultural boundaries. I rejected the view that all cultural expressions were equally valid and that a proper liberal attitude required an egalitarian view of world history. I was reacting to an academic environment in which the teaching of Western civilization had been replaced by a new curriculum emphasizing “the unity in diversity” of the world’s peoples. Only a handful of universities were still teaching the history of Western civilization. Everyone was captivated by the postmodernist claim that “no concept is by itself, and consequently in and of itself”: ergo the West must be conceived only in relation to the rest of the world.   Ancient Greece was an outgrowth of the Near East, or, as Martin Bernal put it, “Afroasiatic”.  Greek civilization was not founded by Aryan settlers but was instead the product of Egyptian and Semitic influences.

Even the landmass of “Europe” was found suspect. How can a small straggling peninsula on the western end of a much larger and richer Asian landmass be called a “continent”? The “the racist privileging of Europe” (on Mercator-derived maps) should not be allowed; accordingly, the Peters projection was promoted, where Europe was “considerably downgraded.”   The TV serial drama, The West Wing, created by Aaron Sorkin, endorsed this new projection as a great way to raise the status of the Third World against Western privilege. A variety of other projections were soon announced; the one world historians were most enthused over was the “Hobo-Dyer Equal Area Projection Map,” in which the world was turned upside down with  Europe occupying a marginalized corner in the south east. No one cared to mention that Europeans were the ones who discovered and mapped the entire geography of the earth.

The Hobo-Dyer Projection

Facing this challenge, I thought it was important to identify the West as the birthplace of liberal universalism. The key was to delineate geographically the expansion of Western liberal values and institutions. I concluded that Western Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand were currently the most deeply Western; whereas Eastern (Catholic) European countries were  closely Western but not entirely due to their lack of well-developed democratic institutions. Latin America was unevenly progressing in a Western direction but was not yet quite ready to be allowed in the universal club. So were the Orthodox countries, Russia and the Balkans.   Read more