Austria has always been a stronghold of Catholicism: the former head of the supranational Holy Roman Empire, the secular arm of Christendom, has always been a luminous antithesis to all forms of provincialism. This is not primarily because Austria was the head of a great empire with many inhabitants, but rather because it was Catholic, Western, and supranational…
-Dietrich von Hildebrand, Der Genius Österreichs und der Provinzialismus
Austria, the true heir and embodiment of the Holy Roman Empire, has always reflected in its forms and institutions the true Catholic ideal of the supranational country. Ever since the Roman Empire was transformed into a truly foederatial system in the fifth century Heroic Age has Christendom striven for this ideal. However, in few institutions has this ideal ever been as wholly achieved or pursued as in the Kaiserlich und Königlich Gemeinsame Armee, the Imperial and Royal Common Army, of which the Hapsburg Restoration Movement is in part a spiritual successor and continuation. Therefore, it might be asked, what are the qualities that allowed the K.u.K. Armee to act as a unifying element of the Empire?
The primary role of the Imperial and Royal Army was to serve the Emperor, to keep peace in his realm, and to defend it. It included within its ranks all the various nationalities and races of the various countries of the Empire, bringing them together in the service of the Protector of the Common Good. And in doing so, it depoliticized the nations while giving each soldier a greater respect for his own nation, and those of his comrades-in-arms. Posting its men far away from their homes (often quartering them with the willing local population), the Imperial Army allowed its soldiers to remain free of nationalizing influences. By Imperial Command, the defensive forces were to be “permeated by that spirit of union and harmony which respects every national characteristic and solves all antagonisms by utilizing the special qualities of each race for the benefit of the great whole.”
In order to fully understand the significance of the role of the Imperial Army, the distinction between Patriotism and Nationalism must be truly understood. In the words of Austrian philosopher Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn;
In Central Europe nationalism has a purely ethnic connotation and implies an exaggerated enthusiasm about culture, language, folklore, ways of life. Patriotism, on the other hand, puts emphasis on the country. A patriot will be happy if there are many nationalities living in his Fatherland, whose keynote ought to be variety, not uniformity. The nationalist is hostile toward all those who do not ethnically conform. Thus nationalism (as understood on the Continent) is the blood brother of racialism.
Patriotism, not nationalism, should inspire the citizen. The ethnic nationalist who wants a linguistically and culturally uniform nation is akin to the racist who is intolerant toward those who look (and behave) differently. The patriot is a “diversitarian”; he is pleased, indeed proud of the variety within the borders of his country; he looks for loyalty from all citizens. And he looks up and down, not left and right.
In essence, the Imperial and Royal Army was the archetype of every well-ordered Patrial Army, in an age when most armed forces were used for the spread of Nationalism. By placing his soldiers at the service of the Common Good, Freedom, Peace, and through devotion to legitimacy, that is Civilization and its Law, the Emperor brought them into a unity greater than themselves, a duty to which all rulers of countries are bound. And yet this unity did not abolish the nationalities of its members, if anything it strengthened them, while ensuring that love of nation did not supplant love of Good, of fellow men, and of Christendom. Every Czech posted in the far reaches of Galicia who returned to his native Bohemia with a love of the Empire and of its nations (including a healthy pride in his own), every Tyrolean officer who learned the four or five languages of his regiment to better serve with his men, each of these and many others were faithful knights of the Emperor, and enemies of the ideologies that would rend it apart.
We, the Knights of Christendom, are also called to this loyalty, not only to the Emperor as some of us (the Knights of the HRM) are called but also to whatever country wherein we dwell. We are called as Catholics to ever seek to heal the strife between peoples, that we may unite them in the great war against evil and decay. Though many times faltering and many times falling, the Catholic West has stood for Freedom, Justice, Peace, Unity, and Diversity. The West shall not have failed utterly if even a few remain to guard the old standard of the double-headed Eagle and the Crown of Charlemagne, handed down to us by the Kaiserlich und Königlich Armee. Ever we are, and ever will we remain, Catholic, Western, and Supranational!