Monday, March 29, 2010

President Habsburg?

Back in September I reported on efforts to overturn the Austrian Republic's law prohibiting members of the Habsburg family from seeking the presidency. I expressed mixed feelings, balancing the natural instinct of a monarchist to side with a Habsburg with reservations as to whether competing in a presidential election is really an appropriate thing for royalty to do, concluding that in a sense it is appropriate for the Austrian Republic to exclude the Habsburgs from its presidency--an office which from a monarchist point of view ought not to exist at all. This recent article confirms my view that Austrian monarchists should have nothing to do with trying to overturn this law. Ulrich Habsburg-Lothringen (who comes from the Tuscan branch of the dynasty and is therefore a distant cousin, not a nephew, of Otto von Habsburg) is a left-wing (Green) self-proclaimed republican who is "embarrassed" by support from monarchists. His goals are not our goals and his cause is not our cause; he fully accepts the legitimacy and permanence of the Austrian Republic and wants only to be permitted to play his part in its affairs like an ordinary citizen. This is exactly how monarchists should not want the Habsburgs to be treated, as it would reduce royal ancestry to irrelevance--arguably a far greater triumph for Jacobinism than the guillotine could have ever accomplished.

It ought to be clear that "Mr. Lothringen" (as he apparently prefers to be known) has no intention of using his political career to advance monarchical restoration or even any other political cause with which monarchists might be sympathetic, and it would be naïve to assume that anything good is likely to come from his election (a long shot in any case). He does not seem to respect either his family's legacy or those people who still believe in it, and I see no reason therefore why we should have anything to do with him. It should not surprise us if the Republic appears to fear Habsburgs more than it does Nazis, since Nazis with their belief in a progressive New Order are actually closer to its values than we are. The Austrian Republic is an abomination and the Habsburgs ought to be proud to be excluded from its worthless offices and institutions. Gott erhalte, Gott beschütze Unsern Kaiser, unser Land!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Wandering towards War

Dwight Garner reviews Miranda Carter's George, Nicholas and Wilhelm: Three Royal Cousins and the Road to World War I. This is the second recent book to link the three monarchs; Catrine Clay's King, Kaiser, Tsar: Three Royal Cousins who Led the World to War (reviewed here) covered the same territory a few years ago. Garner's article reflects some misconceptions probably inherited from Carter's book: for example, while the Romanovs were indeed wealthy, the later Tsars generally did not allow their children to live in luxury and they were actually brought up in surprising simplicity. Alexander III himself, though his role required him to preside over grand ceremonial functions, personally preferred to dress in peasant clothes and eat peasant food. The upbringing of Victorian and Edwardian British royal children was similarly modest.

It is certainly true, sadly, that the family relationships of European royalty failed to prevent the outbreak of World War I. This often resulted in heartbreaking conflicts of interest for the royals themselves. For example, the German-born Empress Alexandra of Russia, though she never liked her cousin the Kaiser and her loyalties were firmly Russian, had to deal with the pain of her own brother the Grand Duke of Hesse serving in the opposing German army. But the downfall of monarchies has hardly prevented more foolish and destructive wars; indeed, it arguably paved the way for them. So the fact that dynastic relations did not prevent wars from being fought between countries whose monarchs were closely related to each other is not itself an argument against hereditary monarchy or the cosmopolitan genealogical web of European royalty, which at least in peacetime was not without its advantages. Direct political power had mostly passed out of the hands of European monarchs by 1914 anyway, and subsequent history shows that plebeian politicians are perfectly capable of dragging their countries to war on their own. Of course if one starts from the presumption that kings and courts were already "anachronistic and absurd" in the early 20th century, their actions and rituals are going to be hard to understand. The question of whether it might have been the modern ideas that made them seem so that were in error is never raised.

[Update on April 5: Another review, by Miranda Seymour, appears here, possibly even more steeped in anti-monarchist bias than the first one.]

Iraq's Throne, via Parliament?

Ali bin Hussein claims the throne of Iraq, but for now is seeking a seat in Parliament, reports the Times of Malta. I am normally opposed to royal claimants taking this kind of path; however, not all monarchists recognize Sharif Ali as the rightful claimant, so perhaps a political career makes sense for him.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Anglican detour

I don't usually post on non-monarchical matters, but this is probably too controversial for Facebook and I feel like saying something, so I'll do so here. I honestly don't understand why anyone in the Anglican Communion is particularly upset over the election of partnered lesbian Mary Glasspool as "bishop" suffragan of Los Angeles. In my view the current controversy over homosexuality, which whatever one believes about it cannot affect the sacraments, pales in comparison to the question of women's "ordination" in general. The situation is really quite simple: either it was OK for the Episcopal Church in 1976 (and the Church of England in 1992) to junk nearly 2,000 years of Christian tradition clearly holding that only men can be priests and bishops, or it wasn't. If it was, then logically everything else pertaining to sex is subject to revision as well. If it wasn't, then Glasspool is just one more woman wearing a silly costume, and we already have plenty of those, so it's hard to see how her private life makes much of a difference if all her purported sacramental acts will be null and void anyway. (My sympathies are with the latter view, but since I for various reasons remain in the Episcopal Church anyway, I realize that it may be difficult to take my own alleged traditionalism too seriously.) I respect consistent liberals and consistent traditionalists and have friends in both camps, but I cannot respect the viewpoint of those who insist on the legitimacy of the unprecedented and still controversial & divisive novelty of women in holy orders but get apoplectic when one of them turns out to be a lesbian. Pro-priestess anti-gay Anglicans are truly the most incoherent of factions.

Church designs on Romanov site

Much to the dismay of archaeologists, the Russian Orthodox Church wants to build a new church (unconnected to the Imperial Family) at the site where the Romanovs' remains were dumped in 1918, which would obstruct further archaeological efforts. The Church, though it canonized the Imperial Family as Passion Bearers in 2000, has never acknowledged the authenticity of these remains, despite the overwhelming consensus of the scientific and historical communities. I have never understood the Church's obstinacy in this matter and am with the archaeologists on this one. It is sad to see an institution that ought to be a bulwark of monarchism standing in the way of thorough investigation of the Romanovs' demise due to its leaders' apparent inability to admit they were wrong in the 1990s.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

King Oyo, 17

HM Oyo Nyimba Kabamba Iguru Rukidi IV, crowned King of Toro at the age of three in 1995, is now nearing his majority and the subject of an interesting CNN profile. While Toro's association with Libyan dictator Qadaffi (who overthrew King Idris in 1969) is regrettable, otherwise the world's youngest monarch (though not a sovereign one since Toro is part of the Republic of Uganda) displays an admirable maturity and sense of duty. I have always valued the way hereditary monarchy allows for the possibility of rulers (even if purely nominal when minors) younger than any republic would permit, and King Oyo would seem to be proof that this is not so foolish a thing as it presumably seems to republicans.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Monarchists Insane?

Today I responded at length to a post at a blog by self-proclaimed "open-minded young traditionalist Catholics" which blithely identified monarchism as the sort of thing that no "sane" person believes in anymore. Infuriatingly, this writer actually concedes the aesthetic appeal of monarchy, while rejecting the possibility of serious contemporary ideological monarchism as "esoteric" or worse. I'm not sure which is more irritating: people who are totally enthralled with republicanism, or people who aren't but belittle monarchists anyway. Since I normally just ignore the former, it's probably the latter.

(I am of course a friend and fan of "The Mad Monarchist," but I'm confident that the name of his blog is quite tongue in cheek.)

Incidentally, while I've had my disagreements with viewpoints expressed on the presumably non-"open-minded" traditional Catholic blog Durendal, after "Renegade Trads" this article by unreconstructed reactionary monarchist Eric Jones was a refreshing contrast.

Celebrating a Rotten Century

The University of California at Berkeley has long been known as a hotbed of leftism, so it is perhaps not surprising that its Bancroft Library is now hosting an exhibit celebrating the centennial of the Portuguese Republic. I don't see what there is to celebrate, and condemn what looks like a thoroughly one-sided approach. Any California monarchists want to go protest? Incidentally, they don't even get their facts right: The Most Serene Republic of San Marino (est 301) is much older than any other European republic (and along with Switzerland one of the two whose existence I fully accept), making Portugal's the fourth oldest, not third as stated.

Down with the bloodstained illegitimate Republic! Remember the Regicide of King Carlos I and Crown Prince Luis!! Long live King Duarte III!!!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Monarchists: Our Own Worst Enemies?

Having cordially linked to my previous post on King Juan Carlos, my friend the "Mad Monarchist" expresses his frustration with the way many self-proclaimed monarchists seem to devote more energy to attacking contemporary monarchies, monarchs, and monarchists that don't live up to their unrealistic expectations than to attacking republics and republicans. I know exactly what he means and recommend his post--and his blog in general--to all who might not yet be familiar with it.

In the movie Nicholas & Alexandra, Trotsky once exclaims to Lenin, "you hate anyone who isn't your type of Bolshevik more than you hate the Tsar!" Monarchists need to make sure we're not the mirror image of that. Ideological purity may have worked for the Bolsheviks, but it will never work for us.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

King Juan Carlos, Abortion, and Constitutional Monarchy

Much to the dismay of pro-life Roman Catholics, Spain's King Juan Carlos has signed the leftist Zapatero government's new law liberalizing abortion. While I oppose abortion and this law, unlike the internet's armchair warriors who are heaping abuse on His Majesty, I do not believe it is fair to blame the King. As I wrote on Facebook, the painful fact is that today's European monarchs do not govern their countries; their job is to act as symbols for all of their subjects, including the significant proportion who are now secular. That means they sign the laws the elected governments pass. I don't like it, but that's the way it is. The historical process that led to this was set in motion long before King Juan Carlos or any of his crowned counterparts were born. Don't like José Luis Zapatero's secularist, socialist laws? Blame Zapatero, blame the politicians, blame the people who voted for them, pray for their conversion (how many of these militant Catholics busily condemning King Juan Carlos have spared a moment for that, I wonder?), blame José Maria Aznar who stupidly identified Spanish conservatism with Bush's Iraq war. But not the King.

While many traditional Catholics--quite properly--opposed the Iraq war, no one blamed the King when his previous government committed Spanish troops to the invasion of Iraq. Zapatero is in power for one reason and one reason only, namely that in 2004 Spanish voters--quite understandably--repudiated the Aznar government for irresponsibly taking Spain into an unjust war that Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI both opposed and thus needlessly bringing terrorism home. If anyone has blood on his hands, it is Aznar. But if Aznar's policies are not his constitutional sovereign's fault, neither are Zapatero's.

I wish with all my heart that Europe were still ruled by Christian Monarchs who could actually govern their realms as their ancestors did. But it isn't. If King Juan Carlos, or any other monarch today, had tried to rule in the way that his right-wing Catholic critics would presumably like, the most probable result would have been not the triumph of Catholic values (since no one man can unilaterally impose such a thing) but another revolution or civil war and the fall of the monarchy. Perhaps that scenario is acceptable to some, but not to me. Already, I find the existence of so many dull republics occupying lands monarchical for centuries practically intolerable; every reminder of what nations such as France, Portugal, Austria, Germany, and Russia have lost is like a little knife in the heart of me and every other true monarchist. In those blessed ten European countries that have so far escaped (or reversed) that horrible fate, I would rather have a symbolic monarchy than no monarchy at all.

Unlike pure liberals I will not condemn the politically incorrect monarchs of the past for not having compromised, but unlike pure reactionaries neither will I condemn the monarchs of today for their prudence. Since Europe's commoners--whether they call themselves socialists, republicans, or constitutionalists--have taken political power away from kings, it is the responsibility of commoners first to use the power they have stolen wisely, and then for those of us who know better to attempt to persuade the public to allow it to return to the Crown where it belongs. It is not the place of commoners to arrogantly judge their sovereigns and dare to condemn them for failing to singlehandedly reverse the tide of more than two hundred years of history when we cannot know how we would act were we in their place. I am a monarchist and I support the real monarchs of real monarchies. That is what monarchists do. Long live the Kingdom of Spain and God Save King Juan Carlos!