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Or let us take the Metternich regime in Central Europe. Basically it had a rightist character, but having been born in conscious opposition to the French Revolution it had-as so often tragically happens-learned too much from the enemy. True, it never became totalitarian, but it assumed authoritarian features and aspects which must be called leftist, as for instance the elaborate police system based on espionage, informers, censorship, and controls in every direction.

-Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, Leftism 

Metternichian Theory

The Hapsburg Restorationist: I see what you are trying to do here, and appreciate it. However, if I may offer this criticism, the Neo-Metternichian movement neither reaches far back enough into the past, nor looks far ahead enough into the future. The “First-and-a-Half Reich” of Metternich only superficially resembles the original, and kept few of the eternal principles which served as the foundation of the first. And its flaws are not only that the Holy Alliance was a poor substitute for the Holy Empire. Its main weakness is mainly in the fact that it is a “reaction” and not a response. It is defined not only by its opposition to 19th century “liberalism”, but by its adherence to 19th century “anti-liberalism”, and thus bound to the circumstances of the 19th century.

“Feudalism” (in the narrow sense of manorialism) must be good because it was what they had in the “old days,” whereas in reality the specific sense in which most reactionaries refer to it was the result of a specific historical circumstance, and more or less obsolete by the 13th century. “Feudalism” in the sense of the principle of decentralized personal government on the other hand is applicable to any circumstance. Or take the problem of national anarchy. The solution to Nationalstaat is not the Polizeistaat of Metternich, but the Rechtsstaat of Charlemagne and Karl I. Legitimism is not about feudalism, nor even necessarily monarchism, but the primacy of law, Divine, Natural, and Human, about eternal principles and not necessarily their particular forms in changing historical situations. To his credit, Metternich did many things necessary and counter-revolutionary in his time. Yet he was never really legitimist, and his mistakes are not ones those looking to further the cause of Right ought to uncritically repeat.

Fürst von ReaktionI hear your criticism and equally appreciate what you say. One has to admit — the failure of the Metternich system would seem to be a fairly damning indictment of it, and your critique of the use of the word “feudalism” is spot on. I don’t consider myself a blind acolyte of Metternich, though. Consider this a manifestation of his spirit, or at the very least, a right-wing movement which one almost never sees in contemporary politics. The problem with Metternich and many of his contemporaries was that their counter-Enlightenment was steeped in the language and methods of the Enlightenment, if not all its values. It is hard to escape that ourselves today, but at the very least, I can hopefully prove that the ‘only option’ for dissident rightists is not merely ethnonationalism, techno-commercialism and Christian theonomy. I might well end up repeating the work of others at times, but these things, I think, are worth repeating.

THR: I am heartened by your response. Although I think there is still some distance between our positions, there is much less than I initially thought (for instance I think part of what many assume to be “enlightenment” language and methods are in reality fortunate survivals from earlier periods). My experience with Reactionaries has mostly been one of disillusionment, therefore to find the opposite is a welcome relief. 

FvR: I think whilst we will disagree on a number of matters you were (rightfully) wary of any affinity to the word “reactionary.” I use it as a label mostly out of disillusionment with “conservative” although these days what with the broad scope of neoreaction, even that too is losing its flavour. The main problem with Metternichian reactionaries (both of the 19th cent. and today) is that they are very much products of Romanticism, as most ‘old style’ conservatism was, but that means it has a tendency to approach “feudalism” and medievalism in an appealing yet flawed manner. I can’t claim to be 100% free of Romantic influence myself (it brought me to this road) but I am not one of those neo-Metternichs who will advocate for global Kleinstaaterei or Catholic corporatism out of misguided nostalgia. Many of the blogs I’ve read which advocate similar things are onto something, but in the case of corporatism, for example, economic restructuring is a complicated business, and it’s not going to be as simple as retraining ourselves to think in cameralist terms.