dialogue, Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, feudalism, Klemens Fürst von Metternich, Legitimism, Neo-Metternichian Movement, Reaction, Rightism
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
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 Reaktion: I 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.
I wonder what is leftist on espionage, elaborate police system, informers and censorship. Did not those things exist prior to French Revolution? I am not saying they are OK. For example it is quite difficult to imagine espionage without lying. OTOH, the authority should be capable of enforcing, well, its authority.
Considering rightist regimes of 20th century (Austria, Portugal, Spain) what exactly was the reason of their failure? Were they too authoritarian? Or totalitarian as (some) leftits present them? What options did they have under given circumstances?
Probably there were many reasons of their failure but it is the last question that is relevant here. What options does anyone have under the concept of modern state? The word authoritarian is not meaningful here because any regime is authoritarian and the great liberal lie is to pretend otherwise. And as someone who lived under both the communist regime and liberal democracy I can say that from certain point of view the difference is not that big. Under both regimes the state is almost omnipresent.
There is an old joke, a rambling on while everything constantly changes some things don’t change at all:
Who did you vote for?
Of course, but what color?
After 30 years of democracy one thing became obvious: the political philosophy, leftism, rightism or whatever is insignificant while being part of the governing structure is. And the governing structure remained intact or even expanded.
Perhaps, the error of the so called authoritarian regimes was they used tools they get as part of the package deal of the modern state. If it is an error it is a natural one. Why not to use the tools I possess? What else could they do? What would Metternich?
IOW, what particular form does the Divine, Natural and Human law have in this changed historical situation when liberal state sucked in all other authorities like a black hole?
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The Hapsburg Restorationist said:
The espionage, elaborate police system, informers and censorship are not to be understood as in themselves Leftist, rather the extant to which the system controlling them was centralizing power and interfering beyond its sphere of competence.
The failure of the Catholic Austrian Regime of the 1930s can be roughly attributed to two factors; the assassination of Chancellor Dollfuss so soon after the Ständestaat had been constituted, and the conscience of a man wishing to avoid bloodshed at all cost. Emperor-in-exile Otto rightly foresaw that unless the Austrian regime resisted (even if such resistance proved futile as it decidedly seemed it would) there would be no hope of its survival after the Anschluss. Chancellor Schuschnigg on the other hand, was more optimistic about the situation. Due to his education which formed racial bonds stronger than moral obligations (this is not meant to discount his excellent moral character) he was unable to give the vital order of resistance that might have assured the regime a chance to last.
The collapse of the Estado Novo is too complicated to answer here, and the commenter John below makes some good points about the weaknesses of Nationalist Spain, so I’ll focus on your main point.
His Majesty Otto once said, “Restoration is only possible in the sense that one begins today, not where one left off ten years ago or fifteen years ago, but where events have taken one today.” You ask what form the Divine, Natural and Human law have in this changed historical situation, and it is a perfectly reasonable question. I would say it now takes the form of a resistance, primarily a spiritual, but also a philosophical and societal resistance. Live according to the Right way, not because you will then succeed in the world, but because it is right and good. Stand by the Pope in this widespread mutiny, not because he is a great leader and deserves our support, but because he is our Captain and we ought not desert our post. To attempt the restoration of the Holy Roman Empire might not solve any of the world’s current problems, but we ought to attempt nevertheless because it is a good and right attempt.
If we fail in this resistance to the current omnipresent state ideology, we fail as free men fighting to the last for a good cause. And because of this, we may look with true pity on the tyrants and slaves of the leftist regime, who endured so much hardship and ultimate failure for nothing so good as that in the name of which we failed. For it is certain that this regime like all the things of earth will fail, and we will each be asked what part we had either in the light or in the darkness.
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1) If a secret police, informers and espionage are not in themselves Lefitst, but only the amount one centralises it and interferes wrongly, then where exactly does it become objectionable though?
Is it when it becomes totalitarianist? Or when espionage starts using lies to achieve it’s ends (which it inevitably will)? When the secret police starts using common people for the sake of spying on their neighbors?
The entire idea of a secret police that uses common folk to achieve it’s ends, and uses all sorts of other tight control on the population, was first used, among other countries, in Austria by Metternich. And there doesn’t seem to be any time before Napoleon in which such an elaborate semi-totalitarian way of establishing security was used in any country in Europe, so the idea seems to be quite unnecessary in the first place.
2) As for restorationism, and the likelihood of tragic (though heroic) failure, it is always good to remind ourselves of the final end of history, both of humanity and the cosmos.
Eventually, creation as we now know it will end, having achieved it’s purpose and having it’s entire story told completely. Then a transformation will happen that will not destroy creation, but renew it and remove all evil, and finally judge all rational creatures.
Martin Luther in his time believed that the Final Day was at hand, considering all of the moral chaos going on in both the Church and the world, which also motivated him to start and continue his doctrinal revolution which still exists today. Yet what if, just what if, we really are living in the Final Days? What if these decades of the 21st century that we are now facing really are the final chapters of the story of a fallen creation? If that is the case, then we should take solace, for the evil which has befallen the world has almost reached it’s peak, and everything will soon be over. Soon, here, not necessarily meaning a few decades, but perhaps a century and a half, or maybe less.
Or maybe it really is just a few more decades. Who knows?
However, judging by how past generations have also faced quite similar problems as we have, it seems like an understandable but fallacious sentiment. The Church and the world have survived the past periods of excess and decay, and have managed to continue on into more prosperous and more optimistic time periods, only then to lapse again into periods of uncertainty and moral chaos, followed by better periods yet more. The same could quite likely be the case now, so that we still have quite a few centuries of time before the actual Eschaton.
On the other hand, the type and amount of chaos and decay present now has quite likely never been encountered by previous ages, so who knows? Maybe it really is a sign that these are the final decades? Or maybe it’s just a more extravagant period of decline, to be followed with an even better period of restoration?
Either way, hope will always be with us, and perhaps some optimism too. Our mission is to hold on tight to the truth and not let go, and if we stay on our feet and in our positions, we will, eventually, make it.
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Ad 1) Espionage and secret police is not what troubles me, though. Even without it the modern state is quite ubiquitous. Perhaps the essence of totalitarianism is in this.
Ad 2) yes, we are not that special as we often think we are.
To that effect, something similar happened to Action Francaise and Franco’s Spain.
On one hand, Action Francaise during the 1920’s and 1930’s attracted a lot of support from traditional Catholics and was integralist in it’s framework, while Franco’s Spain protected and supported the faith, and was also supported by Catholics and the Church during the war (though mostly because the Republicans were hostile to the Church while Franco promised survival); but on the other hand, Action Francaise was fascist and collaborated with the occupational forces and the Vichy government during World War 2, thus permanently earning it wholesale condemnation from the public political life of France, while Francoism in Spain was nationalist, suppressed the Catalonians and other minorities and ended up commiting mass murder as revenge for the mass murder the Republicans commited during the civil war.
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Nationalism used to be temptation of yesterday Catholics as liberalism is of current Catholics.
Suppression of minorities is not necessarily a bad thing.
The Hapsburg Restorationist said:
In what way would suppression of minorities constitute a good or prudential decision? The widespread politicization of nationality itself began with the French revolutionary attempt to centralize the French “nation” by suppressing linguistic minorities (who together actually comprised a majority).
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