We are all rigorously coached in the mantra that imperialism is bad, monarchy is bad, democracy is what keeps the elite from ravishing our daughters and stealing the seed corn, the income of American colonists was taxed at an effective 10% rate, etc., and surely there are numerous examples. The Belgian empire used the Congo as a mass labor camp. The Spanish empire plundered, raped and slaughtered their way through an entire continent. The Mohammedan empire homogenized everything from North Africa to Persia. The neo-empire of the Soviet Union was an appalling, ungodly construct, as is the current US one. But perhaps there is a valid contrarian view, that Empire extends the benefits of international trade and the rule of law to what would otherwise be corrupt, violent tribal backwaters.

Archduke Otto von Habsburg, the last in succession to the Austro-Hungarian throne, died on the ironic date of July 4, 2011. His internment in the Capuchin Cloister included the following ritual.
(the Master of Ceremony knocked the door thrice)

Prior: Who desires entry?

MC: Otto of Austria; once Crown Prince of Austria-Hungary; Royal Prince of Hungary and Bohemia, of Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavonia, Galicia, Lodomeria and Illyria; Grand Duke of Tuscany and Cracow; Duke of Lorraine, Salzburg, Styria, Carinthia, Carniola and the Bukowina; Grand Prince of Transylvania, Margrave of Moravia; Duke of Upper and Lower Silesia, of Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Guastalla, of Oświęcim and Zator, Teschen, Friaul, Dubrovnik and Zadar; Princely Count of Habsburg and Tyrol, of Kyburg, Gorizia and Gradisca; Prince of Trent and Brixen; Margrave of Upper and Lower Lusatia and Istria; Count of Hohenems, Feldkirch, Bregenz, Sonnenburg etc.; Lord of Trieste, Kotor and Windic March, Grand Voivod of the Voivodeship of Serbia etc. etc.

Prior: We do not know him.

(The MC knocks thrice)

Prior: Who desires entry?

MC: Dr. Otto von Habsburg, President and Honorary President of the Paneuropean Union, Member and quondam President of the European Parliament, honorary doctor of many universities, honorary citizen of many cities in Central Europe, member of numerous venerable academies and institutes, recipient of high civil and ecclesiastical honours, awards, and medals, which were given him in recognition of his decades-long struggle for the freedom of peoples for justice and right.

Prior: We do not know him.

(The MC knocks thrice)

Prior: Who desires entry?

MC: Otto, a mortal and sinful man.

Prior: Then let him come in.

All of which is to lay the groundwork for this August 2003 article on the Emperor Franz Joseph from LewRockwell.com, back when they used to post this sort of thing.

The politically correct media, not to mention history books, say that the Empire was the anachronistic relic of past ages. It represented all that democratic, socialist and egalitarian culture condemns: an institution whose roots were in the Roman Catholic tradition, and very aware of the cultural and religious complexity of Central Europe; the idea that we can live within institutions with no national identity; the view that the Emperor got his authority directly from God and for this reason his power was limited by well-defined moral rules; and finally, an order descending from the Middle Ages...

With World War I, the Jacobin spirit triumphed over Western society. President Wilson’s "project of a new American century" (as his modern heirs would define it) needed to normalize the Austrian exception. As Ralph Raico notes, "Wilson was a ‘progressive,’ a leader in the movement that advocated using the full power of government to create ‘real democracy’ at home. But Wilson’s horizons were much broader than the United States. Preaching the gospel of ‘making the world safe for democracy,’ he aimed to extend the progressive creed to the ends of the earth. More than Franklin Roosevelt himself, Woodrow Wilson is the patron saint of the ‘exporting democracy’ clique in America today."

Democratic propaganda put the three Central Empires (Austria-Hungary, Germany, and Turkey) in the same category of non-democratic regimes. However, Vienna was not the capital of a centralized, militaristic, and despotic system. Emperor Franz Joseph viewed himself as first among public servants. He well knew that the entire world was radically changing; there was no place for his ancient imperial institutions. Notwithstanding, he conceived his own life as a service to "my peoples" (as he always called all the people of the Empire) because the very existence of the Empire was in their interest. For centuries, Empire was a guarantee for many small nations which could have not survived otherwise – or at least would have found it much harder. It is not by chance that Jews lived much better in that Catholic Empire than in the neighbouring nation-states, whether Protestant or Orthodox. And when the old order disappeared and Vienna became only the capital of a small state in the Alps, that space was quickly occupied by the Nazi army and, after World War II, by Soviet imperialism. (Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn told the story of an arrogant Teddy Roosevelt calling on Franz Joseph and asking what possible point there could be to a monarch in the modern 20th century. "To protect my peoples from their governments," replied the Emperor.)

Per his wishes, the Archduke's heart is buried in Hungary.


Anonymous said…
Rockwell's article, good though it was, errs by omission. Jews played an instrumental rôle in the felling of all three empires.
Visibilium said…
One could uncharitably observe that kissing Hapsburg ass constitutes entire the history of the papacy since Constantinople's fall. Old Rome's subservience was so encompassing that she was willing, for example, to permit a treasured papal propagandist, Henry Tudor, to go fuck himself rather than to indulge a ruler's routine request for an annulment.
Mike said…
Hey, sorry it took me so long to respond to your question on Mises, about the infinite mortgages in Sweden.

Basically, many Swedes only pay the interest on the loan each month, which never goes away, because they never pay on the principal. So it's like renting the house forever, but with massive debt. Like I said, 200 years is the *average* mortgage term, so many Swedes pay in this manner until they die, I guess, though I think this is a new phenomena that has come about in the last 10 years, so not many have died before their mortgages yet. The houses are so expensive, that they can't afford to pay down the principal, so if interest rates ever move up, it will cause big problems.
Steve Sailer said…
Archduke Otto von Habsburg played a role in the fall of the Berlin Wall by organizing a picnic right on the border with Czechoslovakia and inviting the border guards over. This started the slow leak in the Soviet Empire's perimeter that, a number of months later, led directly to the Berlin Wall coming down.
PRCD said…
He was a big booster of the EU and started some fraternal organization of the three 'Abrahamic' faiths. He seems to have done little to defend his people from third world immigration, though maybe there wasn't much he could do. He was also mostly a stateless cosmopolitan.

I think monarchy disappeared last century because monarchs were increasingly ineffective rulers and more interested in cosmopolitanism and thinking the right things than in sticking up for their people. The archduke seems more towards the good end of the spectrum than the British royals, but a mixed bag nonetheless.

Peoples have a way of dumping rulers who don't look out for them.
Thanks for all the comments. I posted on monarchy some time back:


In its genuine form, monarchy is absolutely gone with the wind. Practically all existing public institutions would have to be wiped out and an upstart dictator begin from scratch and hope the project doesn't derail before his grandchildren come of age. Hard to conceive.