Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Colonial Problems of Portugal

It has often been said that the Portuguese were the first to have an empire and the last to lose it, for which there is basis. However, while other factors were certainly involved, the empire also played a central part in the ultimate downfall of the Kingdom of Portugal. Likewise, more than royalist plots, the First Republic came very near to being brought down by issues relating to the empire and it was the struggle to maintain the empire, against a world opinion that had turned against colonialism, which brought down the regime which had been the most conciliatory toward the former Portuguese monarchy since the establishment of the republic. The Portuguese empire was forged from such small beginning, so many centuries in the past, that it had become somewhat taken for granted and when the threat of losing it finally appeared, monarchical and republican governments struggled to defend it, sometimes at the cost of their own existence.

The first crisis of this sort to arise came over the issue of the vast interior of Africa which lay between the Portuguese colonies which are today Angola and Mozambique. The Portuguese had for centuries ventured little into the interior of Africa. Their primary aim had been commerce rather than conquest and so Portuguese control was focused on the coasts. However, as the “Scramble for Africa” by the major European powers began, the Portuguese were forced to take action before territory they always regarded as their own was seized by a rival power. So, the Portuguese Foreign Minister, Barros Gomes, drew up the “Rose Colored Map” in 1885 showing the area between Portuguese West and East Africa that Portugal claimed. This was to be used in dealing with the other colonial powers as most Portuguese had long assumed, and not surprisingly so, that since they held the land on the east and the land on the west, the land in the middle naturally belonged to them as well. Other powers did not see it that way, particularly Portugal’s long-standing ally the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

This territory, which would ultimately become, for the most part, the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, was already within the sights of the British South Africa Company and the British government, led by the great Lord Salisbury, was adamant that this territory was not Portuguese. From the British point of view, a claim was meaningless unless such territory was actually occupied and under the control of a given power. Since the Portuguese did not occupy the area and thus did not control it, the British regarded it as being up for grabs. The Portuguese, of course, set to work moving colonial forces into the interior as quickly as possible but knew that it would be almost impossible to truly occupy the whole region covered by the “Rose Colored Map” before the British arrived. The Kingdom of Portugal had no desire to fight Britain for control of the region as it would be a hopeless effort even if for no other reason than the dominance of the British navy. Britain was also Portugal’s most important trading partner and an open clash would be ruinous to the already less than robust Portuguese economy.

Instead, the Portuguese tried to gain recognition for the “Rose Colored Map” by diplomatic means but it did not go well. The French and the Germans were agreeable enough but while Portugal conceded claims to other disputed territories neighboring French and German colonies, neither France or Germany actually recognized the lands claimed by Portugal in the “Rose Colored Map”. In effect, they recognized that Portugal claimed them, but not that Portugal actually had the rights to them. In the end, Portugal had given concessions but ultimately gained nothing real in return. The British, as stated, were having none of it and refused to recognize any territory claimed by Portugal that was not firmly and directly under Portuguese control, even if Portugal had claimed the land for centuries, in fact, centuries before the British even arrived in southern Africa.

The agents of the King of Portugal and those of the British South Africa company began to clash in what later became Rhodesia and in 1890 the British government issued an ultimatum to Portugal demanding that they removal all personnel from the disputed territory of what would become Rhodesia and effectively recognize British sovereignty over the region which the Portuguese had considered their own for centuries but had largely neglected. This probably came closer than anything ever would to breaking what is known as the oldest alliance in the world. The Portuguese were outraged and considered it an absolute betrayal. However, the Kingdom of Portugal had little choice but to back down and comply. They could hardly have fought Britain for it and international arbitration might have opened the door for other colonial powers to get involved and snatch away Portuguese territory for themselves. There was also the Germans to worry about who were already casting a hungry eye at the Portuguese colonies and Portugal would need Britain for back up if the Germans ever tried to get aggressive on that front.

So, the Kingdom of Portugal backed down and conceded to the ultimatum which was seen as totally humiliating. The public was in an uproar that their government had failed to protect what was widely seen as Portuguese territory and King Carlos I did not escape blame even though there was, realistically, little to nothing he could have done differently. King Carlos I was also criticized for being seen as too friendly with the British Royal Family who were then regarded as enemies. It all came about a bad time as the monarchy in Brazil had recently been overthrown, the economy was in a downward spiral and people were looking for someone to blame. At the head of the country, King Carlos I was an easy target. The humiliation also prompted the suicide, in dramatic fashion, of a well known Portuguese explorer which increased the public clamor against the monarchy. On January 31 the following year, 1891, in Porto there was a republican uprising. A nationalist song, which later became the republican national anthem of Portugal, was written and widely sung.

This attempt to establish a republic was quickly suppressed by loyal security forces, however dozens were killed or injured and 250 were convicted and punished with either prison time or exile. Thus the republican movement gained a core of “martyrs”, an anthem (which it was illegal to sing but would return in due time) and the red and green flag. The whole affair was a terrible blow to the prestige and popularity of the monarchy. The republican movement only increased in audacity and in 1908 King Carlos I and his son and heir Prince Luis were assassinated. In 1910 things spiraled out of control and the monarchy was overthrown, the Kingdom of Portugal brought down and replaced by the First Portuguese Republic. The usual events followed. The Jesuits and other religious orders were suppressed, convents were closed, schools were secularized, marriage became a civil rather than religious matter, separation of Church and state was established, divorce was legalized and the aristocracy was suppressed.

However, the First Portuguese Republic was a disaster by any measure, its whole existence dominated by chaos, corruption and disorder. There were counter-revolutionary efforts by Portuguese royalists but the thing that really came the closest to collapsing the First Republic was again to be found in the African colonies. The context was World War One in which Portugal originally tried to remain neutral, despite there being a clash between German and Portuguese colonial troops in Africa fairly early on. Neutrality came to an end in 1916 when Germany tightened its submarine blockade of Britain which had a major impact on Portugal as the British were their largest trading partner. In February, at the request of the British, the Portuguese interned a number of German and Austrian ships and so, the following month, the German Empire declared war on Portugal, followed almost a week later by Austria-Hungary. The republican government tried to take an optimistic view of the situation, seeing a number of possible benefits from their participation in the war. Large numbers of Portuguese troops were dispatched to defend the colonies and participate in the war in Africa and a Portuguese expeditionary force was assembled to fight alongside the British on the western front.

The result of all of this was an utter disaster. Despite some occasions of great heroism and endurance by the Portuguese soldiers, Portugal was largely humiliated on the world stage thanks to its inept government. In Africa, where the Germans had probably the greatest irregular warfare genius of all time leading their forces, the Portuguese were almost without exception defeated time and again. Part of the problem was that some of the Africans took the opportunity to rebel, forcing the Portuguese to divert resources to deal with that. At sea, German submarines sank almost a hundred Portuguese ships with the legendary “ace” Captain Max Valentiner of U-157 sinking a great many of them as well as bombarding shore positions on the island of Madeira. On the western front, again despite some heroic episodes by individual soldiers, the Portuguese expeditionary force was a commitment that proved too much for the government that sent it to maintain. The republican authorities were unable to keep them supplied, rotated at proper intervals and in a major German offensive they were almost wiped out completely, ultimately being forced to basically be absorbed into the British Expeditionary Force. All in all, the whole ordeal had been a fiasco.

Portugal had lost 8,145 men dead, 13,751 wounded and 12, 318 captured of their original peak strength of 55,000. Over a hundred thousand tons of shipping was destroyed, just over 7,000 tons badly damaged, the economy was in shambles and all Portugal had to show for it was the African port of Kionga, ceded from the Germans. A civil war broke out in 1918 and in January of 1919 the restoration of the Kingdom of Portugal was declared in Porto followed, a few days later, by a royalist uprising in Lisbon. The First Republic did manage to survive but only just and this was certainly the closest it ever came to being overthrown. Still, though it survived, a few decades later it finally gave up the ghost and was replaced by the Catholic, corporatist regime of Antonio de Oliveira Salazar known as the Second Republic or, more usually, the “New State”. From 1932 to 1968 Salazar worked to lift Portugal out of the chaos and bankruptcy the First Republic had created. For a time, it seemed to work but a crisis in the colonies would ultimately doom the New State as well.

Unlike most other countries, Portugal had the good sense to say “no” to World War II but the post-war collapse of the other colonial empires and the spread of communism quickly imperiled the Portuguese empire, officially ‘provinces overseas’. In 1961 the African country of Benin annexed the Portuguese Fort St John the Baptist of Ouidah and at the end of the year, newly independent India invaded and annexed the many centuries-old Portuguese holdings of Goa, Daman and Diu. For the next fifteen years the Portuguese were forced into a valiant fight against communist insurgent movements in Angola, Mozambique and Portuguese Guinea. It was really a heroic stand to take as Portugal was opposed by all the Communist countries in the world while also being criticized and little supported by the liberal democracies of the west for not accepting decolonization. Portugal, which had yet to recover fully from the depths the First Republic had taken the country to, was basically fighting three separate wars in Africa at the same time.

Salazar died and though his successors tried to carry on the fight to maintain the territorial sovereignty of Portugal as a multi-continental power, in 1974 leftist army officers launched a coup, since called the “Carnation Revolution” that ended the corporatist regime and ushered in the current republican government which has largely been dominated by the socialists with the occasional liberal interlude. All Portuguese overseas possessions were immediately abandoned, the last to be given up being Macau in China in 1999. Since that time, without its former overseas trade network and source of raw materials, Portugal has been forced into greater dependency on the European Union. When can see very easily where that has led; the rush of exuberance that a drug addict feels, following by a resounding crash as the republican government has spent far beyond its means, borrowing more and more and making its chains of dependency stronger and heavier with every passing year.

There is, of course, a lesson to be drawn from that final chapter that Portugal, as with any small country, must either go out on its own and gain the strength it needs to become a major power or be content to be a cog in a wheel of a larger machine. However, for the Portuguese monarchy, the lesson was one which others could profit from, though I wonder if the House of Braganza itself has, which is that a monarch should always be the champion of the country and committed to its glorification. In the situation of Portugal, the circumstances were very unfair as there was, realistically, nothing King Carlos could do in the face of the British ultimatum. However, while the republican leftists were never going to be satisfied, the loss of the interior of Africa and the perception that the Portuguese monarchy had not stood up to the British, angered those who were most likely to be the supporters of the Kingdom of Portugal as it had always been. Regardless of the situation, and whether it is right or wrong, it is simply a fact of life that monarchies will always be in great danger when the monarch is seen to be more sympathetic to others than to the greatness of their own country.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

How Demographics Impact Politics

Given a recent exchange I had regarding the last election in The Netherlands, I thought it worth illustrating the point about the significance of demographics a little more precisely. In terms of looking at the monarchy alone and nothing else, some demographic changes have not been bad for the cause of monarchy. However, the nature of these examples does not bode well for the future of traditional authority in western civilization if one considers the basic facts on display and not simply isolated situations. There are a couple of cases I can think of immediately that make the point quite well and may be more relatable to most readers than that of the Kingdom of The Netherlands in which case the worry is about the way things are going rather than the way they are. The two specific cases that first jump to mind are those of Northern Ireland in the United Kingdom and the province of Quebec in the Dominion of Canada. The situation in these two places make the case quite clearly about how important demographic changes can be. In both, certain changes happened to benefited the monarchist cause but they nonetheless make the point that birthrate and immigration have political consequences.

In Northern Ireland, for example, most are well aware, I am sure, that the Protestant population favors continued union with Great Britain and thus the retention of the British Crown in Northern Ireland. The Catholic population, on the other hand, favors republicanism and have traditionally supported the reunification of Ireland under a republican government. Most will also be well aware that, traditionally, Catholics had much larger families than Protestants, particularly after the Protestant churches began to accept the use of birth control whereas the Catholic Church remained staunchly opposed. However, it is also common knowledge I think, that in recent years the Catholic opposition to birth control has become mostly nominal. Today, Catholics, at least in Europe and the Americas, tend to divorce and use birth control at roughly the same rate as Protestants. Finally, we must also keep in mind that, according to the Good Friday Agreements, the issue of Irish reunification was left up to the will of the voting public of Northern Ireland.

Today, Catholics are less likely to favor unification than in the past, though most still hope for it eventually. When one considers how many fewer children Catholic Irish families have today, compared to decades past, one can easily see that if the Irish Catholics had carried on having families as large as they once did, the six counties would today be part of the Republic of Ireland and it would have taken no military campaign or terrorist attacks in order to bring it about. It would have happened peacefully, by the democratic process, simply because the Catholic population would have overtaken the Protestants to become the new majority in Northern Ireland. So, as far as the six countries of Ulster are concerned, the monarchy was saved because Catholics started using birth control and their rate of reproduction drastically decreased. Of course, by that same measure, if Protestant, loyalist Britons had moved in sufficient numbers into the Republic of Ireland, they might have brought the whole island back into the United Kingdom with no other weapon but the ballot box. If it works for once side, it can also work for the other. The change in the Irish Catholic birthrate has meant that the Queen still reigns in Northern Ireland. Birth rates matter.

Moving across the pond to Her Majesty’s Dominion of Canada, the province of Quebec, traditionally Catholic, ethnically French and habitually disgruntled at those who speak English, secession and establishing an independent “Republic of Quebec” has been quite popular in recent years. Quebec separatists were able to garner sufficient public support for the issue to be put to a vote in 1995. As we know, the secessionists did not get their way and the Queen continued to reign over the province of Quebec thanks to 55,000 more votes opposed to independence. The premier of Quebec at the time, Jacques Parizeau, (who of course supported secession) caused some controversy when, in his concession speech, he attributed the loss to, “l’argent et des votes ethniques” (“money and ethnic votes”). He later apologized and many accused him of being drunk. However, as Canadian commentator Mark Steyn recently pointed out, Parizeau was not wrong as the non-ethnically French population of Quebec did vote to remain in Canada rather than in favor of an independent Quebec.

The next premier of Quebec, Lucien Bouchard, who also favored secession, caused similar outrage by stating rather gloomily just before the referendum that the decline of the French-Canadian birthrate could harm their cause. “We’re one of the white races that has the fewest children”, he said and, indeed, French-Canadian women have just about the lowest birth rate of any White women anywhere. In other words, if French-Canadian women had still been having as many children as they had been even in the 1950’s or if the non-French ethnic minorities were not so numerous, the secessionists would have won and Quebec would today be an independent republic. Mr. Bouchard also, years later and more carefully, warned again about the declining numbers of the French-Canadian population. So, again, birth rates matter and immigration matters, these things have very real political consequences. They are not, however, of equal significance because while birth rates can always be changes, demographics cannot. Once one population is replaced by another, it cannot be brought back. No one likes to deport people these days and, even if they did, once a population gains sufficient numbers they will not allow themselves to be deported.

None of this should come as a surprise. It makes perfect sense that ethnic minorities in Quebec should wish to remain a part of multicultural Canada rather than be part of a uni-cultural French-Canadian nation-state. What reason does a Haitian have to be outraged over the defeat at the Plains of Abraham? Why should an Arab wish to preserve the Catholic culture of the Jesuit missionaries? Is there any objective reason why a family from China should prefer the French language to the English one? There is none. In fact, the Chinese family may wonder why the French language is given preference over their own Mandarin in Canada when English-speakers outnumber them both. In British Columbia, the Chinese-Canadians outnumber the French-Canadians after all. Again, in the two cases, the outcome was good for the cause of traditional authority but ‘sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander’. This shows how demographics can and do affect the politics of a given place and the results will not always be the same.

In the monarchies of western Europe (as in the United States), racial minorities tend to vote for the most left-wing of the major parties (far left fringe parties tend to be limited to well-to-do Whites). For the first time in European history, an election was determined by a non-European minority group. This happened in France with the election of the socialist President Francois Hollande. Minorities tend to vote as a bloc and this was certainly the case in France in which 93% of the African and Arab Muslim population voted for Hollande while only 7% voted for his opponent Sarkozy. This amounted to 1.7 million votes and in an election that was decided by 1.1 million votes, that means that the non-French population determined who the leader of France would be.

This is clearly shown to be based on what the socialists oppose rather than what they support. The domestic agenda and values of the socialists are totally opposed by most Muslims but they tend to vote for socialist parties because these parties oppose the once dominant Christian culture of Europe and any limitations on immigration. Quite sensibly, they vote for the party that supports multiculturalism as well as moral positions they despise since the multiculturalism part will allow them to change the moral policies easily enough in due time. But, it is the French Republic so, perhaps readers here may be inclined not to care. How about a monarchy? How about the most venerable monarchy in Europe? How about the Kingdom of Denmark? In 2011 the Socialist Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt won the parliamentary elections by only 8,500 votes. This socialist, woman politician, of a party whose motto is “Liberty, Equality and Fraternity” (sound familiar?) was supported by 89.1% of the African & Asian minority, meaning that the Danish parliamentary elections could easily have been determined by people who are not Danish at all. Again, this makes sense for them given what the Social Democrats of Denmark vigorously support but it is hardly a good thing for the oldest kingdom in Europe that this fastest growing segment of the population overwhelmingly backs a party whose slogan is that of the French Revolutionaries.

This is a pattern that holds true in most every monarchy in Europe with a sizable non-native minority population. In the United Kingdom, minorities have overwhelmingly voted for the Labour Party which has certainly been the least friendly of the two major parties to the monarchy (and witness what they did to the House of Lords). In the Kingdom of Belgium, a quarter of the population of Brussels in now African or Arab and in a country in which the traditional unifying factors have been the King and Catholicism, the capital city is already more Islamic than Catholic. In the Kingdom of Spain, the Socialist Party tried to pass a law allowing the half a million Moroccans in the country to vote in Spanish elections. The effort failed and it is probably not a coincidence that in the following 2011 elections the socialists were ousted from power. It should go without saying that the socialists in Spain would not be doing this if they expected the Moroccans to vote for anyone but themselves. This party formed part of the government of the Second Spanish Republic, was banned by the Franco regime and while today more friendly toward the monarchy (so long as the royals do as they’re told), their youth wing is still openly republican and a party congress did declare support for what they termed “civic republicanism”. Given that, where they stand seems clear enough.

All of this is to show that things like birthrates and the demographic makeup of a population has a very real effect on the politics of any country. Minority groups tend to overwhelmingly vote for leftist parties in any country and leftist parties, by their very nature, tend to be opposed to all things traditional. Even people who would vote for more conservative parties in their own country tend to support the more leftist party in another country in which they are the minority. In the United States, for example, Black, Hispanic, Asian and Jewish Americans all tend to vote for Democrats by very large margins. However, I know plenty of Mexicans who support the more right-of-center PAN in Mexico but support the Democrats in America. This is a matter of self-interest. All of these groups are voting for the party that best serves their collective self-interests, which makes perfect sense. The problems we see today and coming tomorrow, however, arise because people in Europe and the European-descended populations around the world tend to recoil from the very idea that they have collective self-interest at all. This is something that should change, for if it does not, western civilization will either cease to exist or it will require extremely unsavory and drastic measures to save the longer the issue is postponed.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Happy St Patrick's Day

Once again, it is St Patrick’s Day, an occasion to honor the patron saint of Ireland who converted the Emerald Isle to Christianity and to celebrate all things Irish. Unfortunately, one of the things most associated with Ireland today is revolutionary republicanism. This should not be so. In all of Irish history, republicanism was practically unknown before the Easter Uprising and entirely unheard of prior to the horrific French Revolution. The history of old Ireland, prior to the arrival of the British, was entirely royalist. Ireland had not only one king but a number of kings at any given time, occasionally united by one “High King”. Prior to independence, the only time Ireland had known republican rule was actually the most brutally horrific period of Irish history when the republican dictator of England, Oliver Cromwell, waged what some have not without merit termed a genocide in Ireland. For Cromwell, the Irish had committed two offenses which he deemed most deplorable; they had thrown their support behind the King and they had refused to renounce their Catholicism and embrace the Protestant religion he favored.

The Irish did ultimately take the side of King Charles I, who was opposed to the persecution of Catholics like themselves and they later also supported the cause of his son King James II, adding the Battle of the Boyne to the long list of tragedies in Irish history. Later, during the Jacobite Uprisings, the Stuart heirs were also not without some Irish support. Even Sinn Fein was originally founded with the intention of Ireland being a monarchy, independent but in personal union with the British after the fashion of Austria-Hungary. Even at the time of World War I, some Irish nationalists, knowing that their cause basically depended on a German victory, proposed making the German Kaiser's son, Prince Joachim, the King of an independent Ireland. In any event, today is a proper occasion to take a look back at a few of the subjects related to Ireland covered here in the past from a perspective that is, to say the least, not mainstream when it comes to the Emerald Isle.

A Short look at the life of Irish High King Brian Boru

The Villain and Enemy of Monarchy Oliver Cromwell

The great Irish monarchist general Patrick Sarsfield

Irish Jacobites in the 1745 Uprising

When Irish Republicans tried to seize Canada

Although quite obscure, it is also worth noting that the monarchist cause is not totally absent from Ireland and one does not have to be confined entirely to Ulster in order to find it. There are a faithful few who support the restoration of the Kingdom of Ireland, some as a confederation of kingdoms under a "High King" as in the old days and some support a return of the Kingdom of Ireland in union with England and Scotland as in the more recent past.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Brief Thoughts on Geert Wilders

It is election time in The Netherlands and the one political figure who has been getting the most attention, and the most criticism, from the media is certainly Geert Wilders, leader of the Party for Freedom (PVV). Despite having otherwise very liberal views, Wilders has been described as a "far-right" populist by the media as well as the "Dutch Donald Trump" for his desire to stop Muslim immigration into the Netherlands and to take the Dutch kingdom out of the European Union. Of course, any look at his political and social views, or the domestic policy of French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, will show that these are certainly not "right wing" or "far right" figures at all. However, as they both stand opposed to open borders and in favor of national sovereignty, that is all it takes these days to be considered a right-wing extremist. For myself, I have never been wild about Wilders but would not hesitate to vote for him in this election were I eligible to do so. Aside from his social views, with which I am not in agreement, there is the issue of the monarchy and Geert Wilders is certainly not a member of what was once called the 'Orange Party'. He is certainly no Jacobin firebrand and would probably rate as more royalist than his French, female counterpart but an ardent royalist I would say he is certainly not. He relationship with the House of Orange has troubled me for years.

Not all of this, to be fair, is his own fault, depending on how you look at it. The monarchy in The Netherlands is supposed to be non-political and non-partisan, however, no one usually minds if the royals express opinions as long as they are in line with the liberal mainstream. Talking about "values" is fine but, in an era in which values are legislated by the government, nothing is non-political these days. In her 2007 Christmas speech HM Queen Beatrix made some remarks that most, including Wilders, took as a very thinly veiled swipe at him and his party, praising multiculturalism and criticizing opposition to it. From that time on, Wilders made no secret of the fact that he has little to do with Queen Beatrix (Princess Beatrix since her abdication) and has called for the monarchy to be removed from having any political power and become purely ceremonial. This, of course, is a major problem for me but I do not believe Wilders would have taken the position he had were it not for the Queen coming out in opposition to him and his party first. Still, I have no doubt the situation persists as I doubt the views of King Willem-Alexander are very different from those of his mother or anyone else in the circles they move in.

This, under ordinary circumstances, would be enough for me to never consider supporting Wilders at all but, alas, these are not ordinary circumstances. In the first place, Wilders takes no official position on the monarchy and has never become a republican. It would be a difficult thing to do given that the PVV, while having a larger percentage of republicans than most, is still a party with a large majority of its membership being royalists. If for no other reason that the facts on the ground and realpolitik, I could not imagine Wilders ever trying to abolish the monarchy provided the King broke every precedent and openly tried to suppress him which, likewise, I could never imagine happening. So, as far as the monarchy goes, there is reason for me to dislike him but not enough to consider him untouchable or to outweigh other factors.

Those other factors are also very important to me and, it seems, to a growing number of Dutch voters as well. This is reassuring since, as his support increases, so does the amount of royalist support for Wilders and that will help check his dislike of the current members of the House of Orange. I fully support Wilders in wishing to save the Netherlands for the Netherlanders because a Netherlands without Netherlanders would be no Netherlands for me. I also fully support his aim to take the Netherlands out of the European Union. This also helps me swallow my disdain at his call for a purely ceremonial monarchy since, in my opinion, as long as any monarchy is part of the EU, the monarchy is basically ceremonial anyway as the Sovereign is not truly sovereign. I also think that the Dutch monarchy and all the rest that makes up the Dutch culture and national character can only be preserved by the Dutch themselves and not by Moroccans, Algerians or Turks. Net migration for the first half of 2016 alone was double what it had been the previous year. This is unprecedented. For me, the burqa is just as out of place in Amsterdam as a miniskirt would be in Riyadh. I want the Dutch monarchy to survive but I also want there to be a Dutch population for it to reign over. So, not without some reservations, I would be voting for Wilders and the PVV were I able because, for me, populations are not interchangeable and the Dutch people are not replaceable. Also, because I do not think anything will get better, from my reactionary point of view, until the tyrannical, top-heavy, talking shop called the European Union is consigned to the dustbin of history.

Ik stem Wilders & lang leve de Koning!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The British Submarine Campaign of World War I

During the First World War it was the submarines of Imperial Germany that certainly got the most attention in the world press. Theirs was the first major submarine campaign undertaken by any nation, the German u-boats sank the most ships by far and it was the submarines belonging to the Kaiser which pushed American popular sentiment to the Allied side and, though few realize it, they came extremely close to winning the war for the Central Powers all on their own. Whenever one thinks of the British, even with the proud and famous history of the Royal Navy which dominated the seven seas for centuries, it is usually in the context of being on the receiving end of submarine warfare rather than instigating it. This is certainly understandable given that twice in the last century, the British were driven to the brink of defeat by German submarine campaigns and, because of that, the British became masters at anti-submarine warfare. However, the British have never been without success in naval warfare under the waves as well as upon them. From the First World War to today the Royal Navy has been a major submarine power and it was in the Great War that the British produced their first submarine war heroes whose names are still household words amongst the submariners of the world.

HMS H-4
The Royal Navy entered World War I with a small collection of submarines designed to operate in coastal waters or not too far from a friendly port. These were the B, C, D, and E-class boats. It is a credit to the men that sailed them that boats of each of these classes were to achieve success in World War I, even the oldest of the B, C and D-classes. After the war had started, a new class of coastal submarine, the H-class, was built in Canada based on an American design and with American parts (U.S. neutrality at the time prevented them actually being built in America). The H-class was a little slow to catch on but ultimately proved to be a very successful design with some boats remaining in service in World War II and with other navies into the early years of the Cold War. The wartime G-class and L-class boats were more ambitious but did not see much action. As the Royal Navy grew more accustomed to submarines and ambitious in their thinking, these boats represented a step in the process toward the design of fleet submarines intended for major offensive operations. Continuing in that were the J-class, the very “creative” K-class which was steam-powered and the very fierce-looking M-class which resembled a sort of miniature, submersible battleship. The K-class proved problematic and only one M-class boat was clear for sea before the war ended and it was kept far from the action for fear that the Germans would copy the design for their own boats.

Probably the most successful British submarine design of World War I was the E-class. It is the type of boat most imagine when they think of British submarines from the First World War and it no doubt helps that all three of the most famous British submarine commanders of the Great War skippered E-class boats. They were small but sturdy and meant business with, unusually, bow, stern and beam torpedo tubes. A deck gun, originally lacking, was added in the course of the war. These, as with most British submarines tended to operate in the North Sea, the Baltic Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. Long-range offensive submarine operations were always going to be rather limited for the British since their boats tended to be limited to coastal range and in areas such as the North Atlantic they had few potential targets since the domination of the Royal Navy surface fleet tended to sink or keep in port most German merchant ships and, because of the German submarine campaign, there was always the danger of “friendly fire”. The terrible toll taken by German u-boats meant that when any British warship spotted a submarine, they tended to shoot first and ask questions later.

Centenary RN submarine flags
It was World War I which saw the birth of the British submarine tradition which continues even today. They had a spirit of reckless courage and tenacity born of adversity. The salty, old sea-dogs of the Admiralty were slow to accept the submarine as the formidable weapon of war that it is. Rightly proud of their massive battleships and with Britannia having ruled the waves for so long, such an innovation seemed unnecessary at best. Submarines were something generally associated with the enemies of the British Empire. The very first submarine attack (which failed) was made during the American War for Independence by the rebel colonists against HMS Eagle. Likewise, the original Holland-class boats had first been designed with the intention of their being used by the Fenian Brotherhood of Ireland to launch sneaky attacks on British shipping. A vessel that slipped, unseen, beneath the waves and which could attack an enemy unawares also seemed rather underhanded to the British sense of honor and chivalry. One British admiral even went so far as to denounce the submarine as “damned un-English!” while another suggested that, with the Germans in mind, all submariners should be considered pirates and hanged if captured. The British underwater sailors did not take kindly to this comparison and so decided to wind up the admirals by flying the Jolly Roger pirate flag after a successful cruise. That little show of defiance became a Royal Navy submarine tradition and when the HMS Conqueror returned home after sinking the Argentine battle cruiser General Belgrano in the Falklands War, she flew a Jolly Roger of her own design. (this, by the way, was the first and so far only nuclear submarine to sink an enemy vessel in combat)

However, the success of the German u-boats soon proved to even the most conservative British admirals that submarines were a weapon they had to take seriously and so King George V was to send his own out to do battle for King and Country. There were certain places were only submarines were able to operate effectively, areas which only they could reach and it was the British in the First World War who found out what naval experts today still know to be true; the best weapon to use against a submarine is another submarine. Three German u-boats were sunk by obsolete British C-class submarines, D-class subs sank two u-boats, the E-class sank five and British mine laying submarines accounted for a large number of destroyed German u-boats as mines took the heaviest toll of all on the Kaiser’s underwater fleet. The three primary area of operations for British submarines was the North Sea and waters adjacent to the British Isles, the Baltic Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. The North Sea would see the least success for, not only was it dangerous due to the threat of the German fleet and the presence of German submarines but also, because of this, was an area in which British ships could be just as dangerous to British submarines.

Sir Max Horton in 1940
Nonetheless, it was in home waters that the British boats scored their first success when Lt. Comm. Max Horton, captain of HMS E-9, sank a German light cruiser on September 13, 1914. Within two weeks he also sank a German destroyer, a major accomplishment and earning himself the Distinguished Service Order. Sir Max Horton was well on his way to becoming the most famous British submarine commander of all time. However, these successes were the only ones for Royal Navy boats in 1914 and they lost three subs before the year was out. It was soon decided to send them into action somewhere the Royal Navy surface ships could not reach: the Baltic. Submarines would be able to slip past the Germans, get into the Baltic and, it was hoped, cut off the supplies of iron ore being shipped from Sweden to Germany and support the Russian Empire. The first three British boats dispatched to the Baltic were commanded by men who would prove to be the very best; Max Horton in E-9, Noel Laurence in E-1 and Martin Naismith in E-11. However, the E-11, the last to make the run, was spotted by German patrols and forced back. The Central Powers had not seen the last of him though.

In the Baltic, Horton and Laurence raised havoc on German shipping. Sometimes they operated together, other times independently and the Russian port of Lapvik served as their home base. Horton proved that a submarine could operate even in the frigid conditions of January as long as one did not dally too long on the surface. Laurence, in E-1, attacked and badly damaged the German battle cruiser Moltke in the Gulf of Riga, forcing the Germans to cancel their plans for a landing there. Czar Nicholas II hailed Laurence as the “Savior of Riga” and decorated him with the St George Cross. Horton, in E-9, also sank a number of German transports, minelayers, escorts and damaged the cruiser Prinz Adalbert. He too was awarded the St George Cross by the Russian Czar and took such a heavy toll on German shipping in the area that the Germans began referring to the Baltic as “Horton’s Sea”. Their success proved to the British high command that their submarines could accomplish great things and soon more were sent in, some directly and some by being broken up and sent by rail overland from Archangel. This was an area that British surface warships could not penetrate but British submarines could and soon crippled German shipping in the area and fouled up their land operations on the coast as well.

LtComm Francis Cromie
As well as practically paralyzing German merchant shipping, the British boats also took a heavy toll on the Kaiser’s navy. Lt. Comm. Francis Goodhart, commanding HMS E-8, sank the Prinz Adalbert, E-19 commanded by Lt. Comm. F. Cromie sank the light cruiser Undine and so on. Cromie, who would take command of the five boat submarine flotilla in the Baltic after Horton was withdrawn, was another major Royal Navy hero for the submariners, on one cruise destroying over 22,000 tons of enemy shipping in a single day. The Germans had the second largest navy in the world and the Baltic was practically their backyard and yet all shipping there had been totally paralyzed by a force of only five British submarines. If further proof were needed that the subs of the Royal Navy were good value for money, their operations in the Baltic certainly proved it. By 1917 successes dropped off simply because there was nothing left to shoot at and the collapse of Russia after the revolution forced the British to scuttle their boats rather than see them handed over to the Germans as stipulated in the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.

In the Mediterranean Sea, British submarines were dispatched to once again go where no surface warship could: the Dardanelles. Based on the island of Mudros, the original British force consisted of only six Allied submarines, three of which were the pre-war, British B-class boats which were largely obsolete. However, in the hands of a talented British captain, even these boats proved capable of success and, luckily for Britain, just such a captain was tasked with making the first foray into Turkish waters, Lt. Comm. Norman Holbrook of HMS B-11. On December 13, 1914 Holbrook and his men went in, but pushing against the strong currents made progress slow and maneuvering a struggle. Nonetheless, Holbrook was able to sight a target and with one well placed torpedo the outdated B-11 sent the Turkish cruiser Messudieh to the bottom. Holbrook managed to escape though it was a nerve-shattering experience and by the time he was able to get clear and surface his batteries were totally exhausted and the engines so totally deprived of oxygen that it took thirty minutes before they could be restarted. For this stunning victory, Holbrook became the first British submariner to earn the Victoria Cross.

HMS E-14
The next to go in was Lt. Comm. Courtney Boyle in HMS E-14. He had a hard time but managed to sink a minelayer and a Turkish troopship loaded with 6,000 soldiers and a battery of artillery. After all his torpedoes had been fired, Boyle handed out rifles to his sailors and stayed on patrol, chasing another Turkish transport onto some rocks before returning home. Boyle was also awarded the Victoria Cross. Then, of course, there was the legendary patrol of Lt. Comm. Martin Naismith, later Sir Martin Dunbar-Naismith of E-11 which penetrated the Turkish Sultan’s bathtub and brought shipping to a standstill. Forced to rely on the Berlin-Baghdad railway to supply their troops holding back the Allies at Gallipoli, Naismith sent his first officer ashore to blow up a section of the railroad, putting it out of action and forcing supplies to move by the sea again with E-11 sending more ships and boats to the bottom. Naismith would also receive the Victoria Cross for his fantastic accomplishments in the Sea of Marmara and for sinking the last Turkish battleship (formerly the German vessel Prince-Elector Friedrich Wilhelm). You can read more about these exploits here.

All told, the British submarine campaign in Turkish waters had been a resounding success thanks to the skill of the Royal Navy officers and sailors. By the time it was over, they had basically wiped out the Turkish navy by 1916 and sunk about half of the entire Turkish merchant marine as well. Efforts to use submarines in conjunction with the surface fleet proved unsuccessful, epitomized by the fate of the big K-class boats, and in the later stages of the war emphasis shifted to countering the u-boat menace. In this, again, the British submarines proved highly successful, sometimes hunting on their own and, at other times, in conjunction with a surface ship. Up until 1917 only five German u-boats were lost to British submarines but from then until 1918 the British boats managed to sink thirteen of the underwater raiders. All in all, British submarines accounted for 10% of all German submarine losses, more than were sunk by aircraft or the infamous Q-ships.

HMS E-11
Today, as mentioned at the outset, the British submarine campaign of World War I remains overshadowed by their German counterparts. This is understandable given that the German campaign was larger and accounted for many more sinkings, driving Britain to within a mere few weeks of defeat. However, the submarines of the Royal Navy did have a major impact on the war, particularly in the Baltic and in Turkish waters. They proved to a doubting admiralty just how effective submarines could be and they laid the foundation for the proud submarine tradition that is still maintained today. Five Victoria Crosses were awarded to British submariners during World War I and the greatest heroes of the British submarine campaign in World War I, Horton, Laurence and Naismith, are still household words to British submariners and others around the world. In their fight for King and Country, they had more than proven their worth.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Contrasting Brazil


The BBC recently ran a story on the sorry economic state of Brazil. The country has been in recession for two years, calling it, “the deepest economic decline since records began”, which is quite an indictment. This comes not so long after all the economic “experts” were touting Brazil as one of the up-and-coming economic superpowers that would soon surpass the likes of North America, Western Europe and Japan. The article does mention that the Brazilian economy was recently labeled one of the “fastest-growing” in the world. One just might be inclined to think that these economic experts with their predictions are not to be believed when a country can go so quickly from racing toward the dizzying heights of prosperity to having the worst economic decline on record. It may just be that they do not actually know what they are talking about (shocking I know). Had they listened to the heir to the Brazilian imperial throne, they might have known better as he is a man who seems to have a very firm grasp on economics and the importance of private property in creating the conditions for countries to thrive.

In all likelihood though, the last thing the current Brazilian political class would want to do is remind anyone of their original independent form of government as the contrast between the Empire of Brazil and modern leftist-republican Brazil could not be more striking. The records show that under the stability that the monarchy provided, the Empire of Brazil was everything that modern economics claim republican Brazil was all set to be before it suddenly, and to them likely inexplicably, fell to ruin. The Empire of Brazil was an economic powerhouse, generating more wealth from selling goods to the rest of the world than all other Latin American countries by 1850. The Brazilian economy grew at an almost 4% rate from 1839 until the time the monarchy was abolished. From 1850 until the end of the monarchy, the same period in which the United States first surpassed Great Britain as the world’s largest economy, the Empire of Brazil had economic growth on roughly the same level as the United States, Great Britain, France and Germany. The Empire of Brazil was in the top ten of having the most productive populations in the world by 1858.

Due to the fact that Brazil had lagged behind in industrialization, originally it depended a great deal on imported manufactured goods. However, after independence, the Empire of Brazil modernized rapidly and within a very few years had raised its technological level to the point that exports increased to roughly the same level as imports. Agricultural goods were the traditional exports and would generally remain at the top though eventually rubber became a major export and business only improved with the expansion of railroads and steamships for river transport. Brazil industrialized at a dramatic speed, probably unknown anywhere other than, perhaps, Japan after the Meiji Restoration. By the time the Empire of Brazil came to an end it had the largest railroad network in all of Latin America and a rapidly growing number of factories. It was one of the first countries to have telephone service, was second only to America in establishing transatlantic telegraphic communication and was the first South American country to have public electric lighting.

The immense success of the Empire of Brazil can also be seen in the growth of its population. Many tend to think only of the United States as the “land of opportunity” where all immigrants flocked, however for a great many people it was Imperial Brazil that seemed to offer the best prospects. From 1872 to 1890 the White population in Brazil rose from 38.1% to 44% of the population. Originally, the White population of Brazil had been entirely Portuguese but the success and the promise recognized in the Empire of Brazil meant that soon there were large numbers of Germans, Spanish, Italians as well as others living in the country. The 1870’s saw a huge surge in immigration to Brazil, including many Eastern Europeans, all because so many so such great possibilities for success in Brazil. Much like the United States at the time, Brazil was a growing country where business was booming and new advancements were being made all the time, Brazil just did it as a Catholic empire rather than a secular republic. In fact, after the horrific civil war in the United States, many southern Americans moved to Brazil, transplanting a little bit of Dixie south of the equator.

It certainly would not do for the political class if the people of Brazil today fully understood the depth of the economic crisis they are in now, compared to the wealth and prosperity that prevailed in the days when Brazil had an emperor. Then again, perhaps something else is at work. Certainly, speaking for myself, it is hard for me to believe that anyone could be satisfied with the current state of most countries in the world if the people truly understood just how great they used to be, usually at a point in the past where traditional authority was firmly in place. I cannot help but think that the public must simply be ignorant of their own history, for if Brazilians today knew how magnificent the Empire of Brazil was, they would want nothing more than to return to that immediately and be done with the current ruling elite, a political class that is obviously hopelessly corrupt and which has stayed in power by manipulation, buying votes and selling people a totally illusory vision of pretended economic progress all the while they were emptying the state coffers and filling their own pockets.

Brazil desperately needs new leadership, a new direction and a new way of thinking about politics and economics. There are few royal pretenders in the world better fitted to saving their countries than HIH Prince Bertrand of Orleans-Braganza. He has exactly the faith, the values and the grasp political and economic knowledge that Brazil is most in need of. He is exactly what the doctor ordered, so to speak, if only the people would turn to him for leadership. Were that to happen, I have no doubt that a revived Empire of Brazil would soon be rising to rival the record of the original.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Monarchy and the Search for Utopia

In modern times, we have been taught to think of politics in totally unrealistic, utopian terms. We have also been taught to think of economics in utopian terms. As such, the socialist will tell you that if everyone embraced, or was forced to embrace, socialism, everything would be perfect. The capitalist will tell you that if the government stayed completely out of economics, everything would be perfect. The democrat will tell you that if every country would embrace democracy there would be no more wars and no more strife in the world, that if all people could choose their government freely the world would be a better place and everyone would be more free in spite of all evidence to the contrary. The Fascist will tell you how Fascism would make for an ideal world under totalitarian states and the Anarchist will tell you how having no government at all would actually create an ideal world in which everything would work out for the best. And, if you tell people you are a monarchist, you will certainly be asked how monarchy would make for an ideal world if every country were to be ruled by a monarchy.

This is something which has caused me some degree of annoyance over the years. It is not, obviously, because monarchy cannot compete in such an arena. The monarchies of the world tend to dominate in most areas that one can judge the success or failure of a country. Monarchies tend to be more prosperous, tend to have happier people, tend to have greater economic freedom and, the odd Swaziland or Saudi Arabia not withstanding, monarchies tend to allow more freedom to their people than republics do considering that there are many more republics and thus many more examples like Cuba, North Korea or Iran than there are absolute monarchies like Brunei. However, in all fairness, such comparisons do not always tell the whole story. Absolute monarchies like Brunei or Saudi Arabia are certainly more prosperous than dictatorial republics like North Korea but we know that is because they sit atop oceans of oil, it has nothing to do with how much or how little personal or poiltical freedom the people have.

Do monarchies do better than republics? On average, the statistics say that, yes, they do. However, this takes things for granted which I think should not be. The fact that we even ask such a question shows how we have been trained to think. Oddballs such as myself might ask why it is expected that the government should be providing me with a better life at all. Why is my success and happiness not my own responsibility alone to provide rather than for the government to provide for me? If people live in a monarchy and are not successful, why is this blamed on their monarch and not their own life choices? A few will venture the opinion that when it comes to what sort of a society one lives in, the prevailing culture matters much more than the form of government as to how that society functions (though culture will certainly influence what type of government one has and how it functions). Whether you are talking about modern day immigrants or the colonial settlers of centuries past, people tend to take their cultures with them and wherever and whatever system they live under, their communities tend to be like the ones in the land they originated in.

Because of this, the expectations one has for government should be tempered by reality. Too many people associate monarchy purely with the romantic rather than the realistic. This should not be so. Monarchy has endured for thousands of years specifically because it grew up naturally and is suited to human nature. What I find totally unrealistic is the idea that 51% of the mob is the proper basis for legitimate authority. I find it more romantic than realistic that an unemployed, alcoholic, wife beating welfare bum should have just as much say in how his country is governed as an educated, informed member of society who contributes to the economy and owns property, giving him a vested interest in the success or failure of the country. The very idea of equality is far more of a romantic, idealistic notion than the very realistic acceptance of the fact that no two groups nor two individuals are equal or can ever be made so.

An Anglophile professor of mine, many years ago, said that communism did not work because it was fundamentally opposed to human nature. As he said, for proof of this, simply go to any daycare center and watch the babies. The first two words they learn are, “NO” and, “MINE” which rather proves the point. Likewise, I would say the same about equality. I have often been asked if an aristocracy is necessary, beneficial or detrimental to a monarchy. My response is that an aristocracy is inevitable, regardless of whether it is beneficial or not. There will always be an elite, the only question is what sort of elite you will have. One need look no farther than the world around us for evidence that this is a fact of human nature. Even in Soviet Russia, members of the politburo and Communist Party leaders lived much more privileged lives than their proletarian comrades. They did not wait in line for hours for a little bread, they did not live in tiny communal apartments, they drove big cars and had vacation homes on the Crimean Peninsula. The United States forbid a titled, hereditary aristocracy since independence and yet none would deny that there is certainly an elite in America.

If mankind cannot provide sufficient evidence to convince of this inherent inequality, look to the animal kingdom. It does not matter if one observes cows, goats, dogs, cats, lions or gorillas, there is always a hierarchy that works itself out. A German scientist studied this a great deal in chickens in the 1920’s and introduced into the popular lexicon the term “pecking order”. It is also worth pointing out that groups of animals become less violent towards each other once this pecking order is established. The point is that human beings are not equal and it is the natural state of the human condition to have a society that is hierarchical. At the most basic level, this means that the strong rule over the weak, however, human beings adapted, over a great deal of time, to this natural element of the human condition and channeled that natural drive toward something that would be more beneficial and humane. This is what was once called noblesse oblige. So, in the old days, membership in the aristocracy was given to those who had performed some great service for the country, such as to victorious generals or admirals. Today, membership in the elite is gained by fame and fortune or political manipulation. The elite is always present, it is only who makes up the elite that has changed over time.

Monarchy is not ideological and works in greater harmony with human nature than any other system. Monarchs, generally, have a natural drive to do their best for their countries because they do not wish their children to inherit a failed state. There are, of course, examples of monarchs who have not been so inclined just as there are some parents who abuse their children. Thankfully, however, these are few because, in order to propagate the species, parents are naturally inclined to take care of their children and want the best for them. The libertarian monarchist Hans Hermann Hoppe has illustrated this point quite well by comparing monarchs to someone who owns a house and republican politicians to someone who rents a house for a limited period of time. The homeowner wishes to maintain the house and add to its value so that his children will inherit a valuable property whereas the one who rents the house for a given time is naturally inclined to squeeze what profit he can from the house before he is evicted and another renter takes his place. Thus it is the reality of human nature that make traditional monarchs better stewards of their countries than elected politicians.

It was only really with the French Revolution and the onset of mass politics that competing ideologies came to replace natural systems which were most in line with human nature. Before this, all traditional institutions had sought to work with human nature, to direct it in a more beneficial way since they never imagined it could be fundamentally changed. The Church, for example, would take the basic desire people have for something sacred and directed that toward God. They did not try to change human nature but merely to limit its excesses. So, you can have sex but you can’t be Wilt Chamberlain, you can drink but you can’t be Foster Brooks. All things in moderation. It was also only when mass politics brought competing ideologies into government, with every government basically being locked in constant political warfare, that countries were faced with the two choices of stagnation or apocalyptic collapse. Even in totalitarian systems this was a problem since they were bound to an ideology and if that ideology crumbles, so does the entire country.

Traditional monarchies did not have this problem. In a traditional monarchy, new ideas could be tried, adapted to fit changing circumstances or discarded if they failed to produce results. Imperial China, for example, contains numerous examples of both free markets and state control of the economy. During the Ming Dynasty, state controls were steadily withdrawn but at the height of the Qing Dynasty, state interference in the economy increased. We have seen the reverse happen in the decades of Communist rule, however, because China is now a Communist dictatorship, there is only so far they can bend before they are flatly contradicting their own foundational ideology (and some would say they have already gone beyond that point and are living on borrowed time as a nominally communist regime). However, when you have warring political parties in every government, everything is a struggle. There are too many examples to list but everyone knows them. A party that favors one thing will then oppose that very same thing when the opposing party proposes it. A party will stridently oppose even what has been proven to be a good idea if it goes against their ideology. It is, I think, one reason why people in democratic countries are today so frustrated and dissatisfied with their governments which they themselves have chosen.

It also matters that, in the age of political ideologies, everyone has been promised a utopia if only everyone can be made to submit to their preferred ideology. However, because of mixed government, power-sharing, checks and balances and so on, the system also makes it extremely hard to show cause and effect. In other words, in a monarchy, which is to say a traditional monarchy in which the monarch rules, one person is ultimately responsible and is accountable for the decisions of the state. In a democratic republic or modern ceremonial monarchy, so many people are involved, elected politicians, appointed officials, hired bureaucrats and so on, that responsibility is dispersed to the point that no one can be held to blame if things go wrong. So, in the United States for example, regardless of who is President or even who is in control of Congress, if things go wrong the party in power can always blame the opposition party for thwarting them and causing the problem and their ideological adherents will likely agree.

Systems which work against human nature are bound to fail and unrealistic expectations only cause turmoil. The cause of traditional authority, generally embodied by monarchies, each grew up naturally in a way unique to their respective societies and cultures, are a product of human nature and not an effort to radically alter it. It can be seen in the way little girls dream of being princesses to the way that even republics inevitably take on the trappings of royalty. Monarchy thus offers a form of government aligned with human nature. It does not offer a utopia. This is something all people need to understand and accept. No system, no formula, no ideology can ever deliver perfection and those who expect it will only be disappointed and search in vain for the unobtainable. Even for traditional monarchies, a look at France or Russia or a number of others can teach us the same lesson. Even with the most upstanding monarch, the most saintly leader who genuinely wants what is best for his people, tragedy can still prevail if others fail in their own moral duty. It is not enough that a monarch leads in the right direction, his people still must be willing to follow him. No system will ever be able to take away the necessity of every individual doing what is right. There is no form of government so perfect that it will compensate for those who willingly act to thwart it and shirk their duty. That is a fact of life and of human nature that we all must accept. After all, utopia is “no place”.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Monarchist Profile: Lt. Colonel Pál Prónay

Altogether, the story of the Hungarian soldier, monarchist and counter-revolutionary Pal Pronay is not a pleasant one. However, having already looked into the likes of Charles Dupin or even Baron von Ungern himself, monarchists with a villainous reputation are not unknown here and he is too significant a figure to ignore. Pál Prónay de Tótpróna et Blatnicza was born on November 2, 1874 in Romhany in the northern part of the Kingdom of Hungary (Austria-Hungary at the time of course). His family was not very remarkable, being of the gentry class but only just and when the young Pronay decided to embark upon a military career he was able to attend the Lahne Military Institute. After graduation, however, his career was hardly exceptional. Promotions came slowly for Pronay, even in a time and place where rising through the ranks of the officer corps was quite difficult, as he was seen as being rather bad tempered. Reports about him show a man who certainly had drive and a degree of skill but who was hard to work with and believed to be excessively harsh, even brutal, when it came to the discipline of the men under his command.

During World War I, Pronay served in an Austro-Hungarian cavalry regiment, as a captain, but was not all that remarkable. He saw some action, earned some medals but never advanced beyond a mid-level field officer. Pronay was harsh but certainly loyal and dedicated to his country and his Kaiser-Kiraly. The ultimate end of the war and the defeat of Austria-Hungary was a bitter pill for him and he was not content to simply give up on the cause of his country, even if it was to stand alone as the Kingdom of Hungary after the ethnic minority areas were detaching themselves. All too often people forget that, of all the Central Powers, Austria-Hungary was the only one which was erased from the map completely after the war. This was especially infuriating for the Hungarians who had never been enthusiastic about the war in the first place. In spite of this, after the war, the Kingdom of Hungary was stripped of two-thirds of its territory and, after land had been given away to Czechoslovakia, Romania, Yugoslavia and so on about one-third of Hungarian-speaking people found themselves a Magyar minority in surrounding Slavic countries.

Added to this treatment, which was due to wartime agreements by the French and British with minority dissidents of Austria-Hungary and would take effect over a couple of years, in the immediate aftermath was internal disorder as the disease of communism, first unleashed in Russia, spread rapidly to the west. With the Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary being forced to leave, the government proved totally incapable of maintaining order. A communist revolution erupted and seized power in March of 1919. It would not escape the notice of Pal Pronay that the dictator of the newly proclaimed Hungarian Soviet Republic was a Soviet Russian trained Jew named Bela Kun. Nor did it escape notice that all but one of the leaders of the communist revolution in Hungary were Jewish.

Bela Kun
When considering the eventual backlash, unpleasant as some may find it, this was significant. Jews had been disproportionately represented in the communist movement in Russia, it was Kurt Eisner, a Jew, who brought down the Bavarian monarchy and proclaimed the Bavarian Soviet Republic the year before and which was still holding on to power when Bela Kun took over in Budapest. Jews were disproportionately represented in the communist movement of Antonio Gramsci in the Biennio Rosso in Italy, the uprisings of “Red Week” in The Netherlands in 1918 (David Wijnkoop, one of the founders of the Dutch Communist Party was Jewish) and the short-lived Slovak Soviet Republic of 1919. The following year, another Jew named Ludovic-Oscar Frossard would found the French Communist Party (and ironically enough end up serving in the Vichy government of Nazi collaborators in World War II). One could go on but the point is too many Jews were too highly placed in these communist revolutionary movements to go unnoticed or be shrugged off as pure coincidence by many people.

In Hungary, Bela Kun only managed to hold on to power for a matter of months but it was a brutal period. Bully boys, trussed up in leather outfits assaulted and murdered hundreds of people in what became known as the Red Terror (and just about every country that has had an experience with communism has had a Red Terror). They targeted class enemies, landlords, Catholic clerics and anyone they considered counter-revolutionary, such as monarchists, but also anyone with whom they happened to have a particular grudge. This Soviet regime was, in the end, brought down when their antics sparked the intervention of the Kingdom of Romania and so it was that, after participating in their crushing defeat during the war, Hungarians had to endure the humiliation of watching their former defeated foes of the Romanian army march down the streets of Budapest. A new government was formed led, oddly enough in what was now a land-locked country, by former Admiral Miklos Horthy who called for officers to join in forming a new Hungarian National Army. Pal Pronay was quick to come forward and for a time even commanded Horthy’s bodyguard.

Pal Pronay
However, his rise to fame, or infamy to most, came in the summer of 1919 when he formed the first fighting unit of what would become known as the White Guards. For the next two years Pronay and his men swept through the Hungarian countryside meting out justice or taking revenge on those who had perpetrated the communist takeover of the country. This soon became known as the “White Terror” by those targeted, many of whom were Jews. His methods were brutal and he never made any effort to conceal that fact. The Red Terror which prompted this backlash, however, is not always mentioned nor the fact that this was in the context of a people watching their country, not just the traditional order but the country itself, on the precipice of being wiped out entirely. There were killings, there were mutilations (cutting off an ear was a fairly common practice) but the context of this cruelty is all too often forgotten. Like the vicious fighting between the Reds and the Whites in the Russian Civil War, this was not two sides meeting in traditional combat but two factions fighting for the very survival of their country as it had always been.

It is also worth repeating that not all of those who fell prey to Pronay and his troops were Jews. This was retribution against all those who had been communists, revolutionaries or enemies of the traditional Kingdom of Hungary. The extent to which Jews were targeted was because of the preponderance of Jews in the leadership of the communist takeover and not simply for being Jews. Again, three out of the four top leaders of the communist coup were Jews and the leadership overall was up to 75% Jewish and because of that, few of the counterrevolutionaries were very willing to give any Jew the benefit of the doubt. It was not, however, a purely racial or religious matter but was the effect of actual facts about who had perpetrated the communist takeover, the Red Terror and the subsequent humiliation of having the Romanian army march into Hungary. Pronay was not alone in what he did though he was probably the most zealous and the least inclined toward any pity or compassion on anyone he thought associated with the enemies of the old Kingdom of Hungary. His goal was to see the Kingdom of Hungary fully restored and to, as he put it, “restore the traditional good relations between the landlords and estate servants,”.

Admiral Horthy
Once the Romanians marched home and Admiral Horthy had consolidated his hold over the whole country, things became easier. Pronay, as a lieutenant colonel, had grown his band to a full battalion and billeted them in the Hotel Britannia. He wished to purge Budapest of its entire Jewish population, viewing them as suspect, before another communist coup could be launched but Admiral Horthy restrained him as already the media reports about the White Terror were causing outrage among the other countries of Europe. The Hungarian ruling class began to turn on the White Guards and though Pronay was able to shield his men for a time, eventually Pronay lost his command after being found guilty of insulting the leader of parliament and extorting a Jewish politician. Thoroughly disgusted with the Horthy government, he moved to the border and carried on with some of his troops as they had before, setting up his own sort of fiefdom where he was his own law and government. He also fell out over the failure of Horthy to restore the Hungarian monarchy in full.

Officially, the country was the Kingdom of Hungary and officially the Emperor of Austria, Blessed Charles I, was still King Charles IV of Hungary, however the King was away in exile and Horthy ruled on his behalf as regent. In 1921 the Kaiser-Kiraly (Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary) made two attempts to regain his throne. The first was more of a false start, while the second was more serious. Neither Pronay or any other Hungarian monarchist had much chance to support the first attempt but in the second Pronay was able to at least take to the field somewhat and wanted nothing more than to see King Charles IV restored to the throne and Admiral Horthy sent packing. The effort, as we know, did not succeed and this represented the final break between Horthy and Pronay (though undoubtedly the King would have been horrified by Pronay’s actions more than anyone). His battalion carried on for a short time under a new commander but was itself dissolved in 1922.

Pal Pronay tried to keep up the struggle though, by going into politics as a far-right critic of the ruling government. He tried to start his own political movement, generally labeled fascist of course, but made little progress before, in 1932, being charged with incitement to civil disorder, stripped of his rank and sent to prison for half a year. Not much was heard from him during World War II as the end of the war on the east approached Hungary in October of 1944 he briefly reemerged again. When Horthy tried to make peace with the Soviets, he was ousted and the pro-Nazi Hungarian fascist party known as the Arrow Cross Party was put in power. Despite being almost 70 years old, Pal Pronay once again assembled a small military unit and began hunting down the enemies of his Hungary. By this point, however, time had run out. Pronay survived the siege of Budapest and carried on fighting the communists until he was captured on March 20, 1945 and sentenced to 20 years of forced labor for sabotage and espionage by the Soviet Union. He died in a Soviet gulag sometime in late 1947 or early 1948.
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