War of 14 a Rehearsal for Harmageddon? · Do Macron and Merkel Know the History of World War I?
I just saw an article promoting some excerpts from their speeches yesterday. I will now link to it and then comment on excerpt after excerpt.
mail . com : Excerpts of French, German speeches commemorating WWI's end
First, let me note, as having grown up partly in Germany and as residing in France, I am NOT against their immediate purported goal, fraternity between German and French.
I have some issues with their historiography though.
- "Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism: Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism. In saying 'our interests first, whatever happens to the others,' you erase the most precious thing a nation can have, that which makes it lives, that which causes it to be great and that which is most important: Its moral values."
- Totally depends on what kind of nationalism we are dealing with, not all are bad and obviously not all are good.
Also, as I suppose this is with reference to preludes of WW-I, German régime, while manipulating a popular nationalism (with even some Anti-French bias, both born in 1813 in the Völkerschlacht bei Leipzig which beat Napoleon's troops), was not itself a nationalist régime, rather it was an élitist and bureaucratic régime, trying to "manage" nationalism in a good way, but not really nationalist itself.
The one extreme nationalist involved was Gavril Princip - he was ready to kill in open street to get his nation rid of an imperialist oppressor.
- "I know, the old demons are resurging, ready to finish off their work of chaos and death. New ideologies manipulate religions, push a contagious obscurantism. Sometimes, history threatens to retake its tragic course and threaten our heritage of peace that we believed we had definitively settled with our ancestors' blood."
- Obscurantism is definitely NOT one of the old demons from just before WW-I.
If Austro-Hungary protected Bosniaks, it was not because they were Muslims. Austro-Hungary was a Catholic power with ample religious tolerance.
If Serbs had a somewhat more religiously communitarian take, it was because of bitter memories of Turks. The Serbian side definitely showed some talent of building a multi-religious (but not multi-ethnic as to include Germans in charge in administration) state between the two World Wars. It was known as Kraljevina Srbov, Hrvatov in Slovencev or as Kraljevina Jugoslavija. Muslims were disfavoured, but definitely not persecuted. A truly "obscurantist" régime would not have been able to do this.
So, where in all the build-up to this war does Macron find the "obscurantism" which he considers as an "old demon" resurging?
And as for "definitely settling a heritage of peace"? Come on! Will not happen until Harmageddon. Chamberlain thought he had settled "peace in our time", and while he was wrong, he was at least realistic, he did not say "for all times to come".
- "For four years, Europe almost committed suicide. Humanity had sunk into a hideous labyrinth of merciless battles, in a hell that engulfed all fighters, whichever side they were on, whatever nationality they had ... 10 million dead, 6 million injured and mutilated, 3 million widows, 6 million orphans, millions of civilian victims."
But let's put it down to where the blame belongs. Imperial bureaucracies, disregarding Christian morality, a Kantian (I suppose without being expert on that "philosopher") sense of "obedience" as solution to problem how to tell right from wrong in society ... obeying even evils when there is reason of state ... and not "nationalism" or "obscurantism."
Unless, of course, you want to blame posthumously both Serbia and US for the war, rather than Austria and Germany.
I would say Austria was fairly innocent except the part of the ultimatum. They were of course nothing like nationalist in it, they were simply asking a police case be solved by competent police, like Bush not trusting Taliban to track Ben Laden down for him. But they were disregarding the possibility of a nationalist revulsion against this.
And even then, you only have nationalism, not "obscurantism."
- "This war, with its senseless bloodshed, showed where national arrogance and military hubris can lead. And it made clear what disastrous consequences a lack of compromise in politics and diplomacy can have."
- Did Germany have some national arrogance? Arguably, yes.
But it was not nationalist arrogance, rather it was arrogance of the most progressive state, as Prussian-Germany thought itself to be. Much like later Sovietic arrogance, from régime quarters, was not Russian or Pan-Slavic nationalist arrogance, but arrogance of being most progressive state (on a somewhat but not totally different model of how progress should go on).
Military hubris is of course correct - especially about violating Belgian neutrality.
- "It's anything but self-evident" that Germany and France should have such friendship now, "especially after the suffering that Germans caused to their neighbor, to Europe and the world in two world wars."
- Hope it lasts, anyway.
Not sure Merkel is not overdoing the German part in causing suffering, but humility is at least a decent attitude.
- "The First World War showed us what kind of ruin isolationism can lead us into. And if seclusion wasn't a solution 100 years ago, how could it be so today?"
- What exact state was isolationist?
Germany previous to WW-I was anything but. They had tried to isolate France on the pretext it was nationalistic and expansive, but there was no attempt to isolate Germany itself. On the contrary, it was part of the one complex of competing alliances.
There was an attempt of US to isolate itself - and US entry into the war ended US isolationism.
It was this end of US isolationism which brought on Woodrow Wilson's very generous attitude to all nationalisms, except the German one (to some extent even including it). It was Woodrow Wilson's solution which brought the Sudetenland into two competing nationalisms, that of Benesh and that of Hitler.
Would a German victory have been preferrable? With my take on Schleswig Holstein and on Königgrätz, as well as how I see Bismarck's Kulturkampf (a war on what he termed "obscurantism") - I don't quite think so, no.
The Austrian peace, as negotiated by Pope Benedict XV and willed by Charles the Last would have been preferrable, though.
Hans Georg Lundahl
St. Josaphat of Polotsk