Sunday, September 27, 2020

History and Restoration

 

I don’t know why some people in online discussions think assertions of counterfactual history—which by definition no one can either prove or refute—constitute valid moral arguments.

“Hawaii would have been conquered by Japan eventually anyway”
 
You can’t prove that, and so what? The republican coup and US annexation were still wrong.
 
It is reasonable on the other hand to argue that the abolition of the German and Austro-Hungarian monarchies in 1918 paved the way for the rise of Nazism and the subsequent expansion of Communism. This can be demonstrated with facts and logic. Had the monarchies survived, their peoples might have been spared a great deal of suffering. But counterfactual scenarios, however enticing (and no one wishes 20th century European history had proceeded differently more than me), are not the core of the moral argument.
 
I believe that the abolition of an ancient monarchy, let alone dozens of them at once, is wrong in itself, regardless of consequences. It is an offence against obedience, tradition, patriotism, aesthetics, the foundation of all previous legality, and the divine order. And that is why restoration is a moral imperative even after the most obvious negative consequences have subsided. Modern Germany and Austria, and the other lands that once made up the Habsburg Empire, may be decent places to live in a narrow materialistic sense, though it took over three decades in the West and seven in the East after the falls of the monarchies for that to be the case, with unprecedented horrors along the way. But there is more to life than materialism.
 
We cannot bring the dead back to life. But when something wrong was done, no matter how long ago, that can be reversed, it must be. And that is why I will insist as long as I draw breath that the occupation of Germany, Austria, Hawaii, and other countries that used to be monarchies by republican regimes is intrinsically immoral, because it constitutes an injustice that though it could be has never been corrected.

8 comments:

Ponocrates said...

I agree mostly. We are in an interregnum: between kingdoms. We are waiting for the return of the king. I was wondering how flexible you are for a new dynasty. To what extent do you remain loyal to an older house, when a newer house could take over the sceptre and forms of monarchy. That's a difficult question. If it were easier to do the latter, then I think monarchy would be more likely to prevail than republicanism. It would be viewed as a new dynasty overthrowing the older. Then loyalty would have less to do with monarchism, than to the claims of the traditional dynasty. The triumph of republicanism is partially due to the view that only a certain family could be the monarch.

Theodore Harvey said...

I'm not sure about that, since non-European monarchies have mostly lacked that kind of rigid legitimism (which I do uphold for Europe), e.g. Iran 1925 (I fully accept the Pahlavis replacing the Qajars), and yet many of them have fallen too.

I don't see any future for European monarchism that's not connected in some way to the dynasties that even today are still reigning in ten countries.

Aaron Traas said...

But when something wrong was done, no matter how long ago, that can be reversed, it must be.

This is where you and I disagree a bit. This path leads to Jacobitism and other extreme legitimist positions that could destabilize everything. Some older regime was wronged at some point. Eventually, enough generations pass to legitimize the current government, as imperfect as it may be.

I would love to see those monarchies restored, but multiple generations have passed, and in most cases, the monarchs involved have accepted it.

Hawaii is a little messier because their native peoples have never accepted it. But the Hapsburgs, on the other extreme, seem to have NO desire to reclaim their crowns. Russia is also messy because they had an illegitimate government for most of the post-Romanov regime, only having a somewhat reasonable government relatively recently.

Theodore Harvey said...

I believe Archduke Karl and Prince Georg Friedrich would accept the crowns were they offered, but they know that sadly restoration is not feasible at the moment. That is no reason for us to ever morally accept the republics.

As for Jacobitism I think there is a huge difference between the replacement of one dynasty with another, which has been part of monarchical history for as long as monarchies have existed, and the replacement of a monarchy with a republic, which I will never accept. In the specific case of Great Britain it was not even an unrelated line, with George I being a great-grandson of James I.

Aaron Traas said...

Though monarchy is better, it can't logically be the only type of government that is legitimate. And thus, if a legitimate government can be replaced with another legitimate government, monarchy can't be the only government that can't be replaced with another type. That doesn't logically follow.

In almost all cases, a monarchy is the best form of government, but there are exceptions. For instance, if a people cannot peaceably be ruled by a monarch (I believe this to be the case in the present-day US, for instance), a monarchy is subjectively worse. The promotion of virtue is the highest end to a government, and that can be legitimately done by more than monarchy, even if monarchy is typically best suited, thus I cannot accept that a government that has peacefully transferred power over multiple generations and is acting to promote virtue, even if misunderstood and imperfectly, is a legitimate government.

That being said, I also believe in the right of conquest. If, say, Prince Carlo were to raise an army and regain the Two Sicilies, I'd march for him.

Theodore Harvey said...

See for me it's not just about Monarchy being a better form of government in the abstract, though it is. It's about specific monarchies having been essential integral parts of the cultural and political heritages of countries like Germany and Austria. (The USA is different as it never had a monarchy of its own.) Everything that is good about those countries is related to the monarchy in some way, and I don't accept that it can just be discarded. Those particular republics have no moral right to exist and never will. There can be no true "virtue" in a government if something essential is missing. In 1900 virtually every normal German or Austrian would have regarded loyalty to the Emperor as part of being virtuous. I don't accept that that can change. It still is. Therefore, Germans who are not loyal at least in principle to either the Hohenzollerns or whoever their local dynasty would be, and Austrians who are not loyal at least in principle to the Habsburgs are not being virtuous.

That said, under current circumstances I suppose "loyalty to the Habsburgs" could consist of something as easy and pleasant as following Archduke Ferdinand on social media, as it's not clear what else can be done in practice. But that doesn't mean I will ever emotionally or intellectually accept the republics.

Theodore Harvey said...

I absolutely agree that it would be wonderful if today's pretenders had both the inclination and the ability to retake their thrones by force!

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