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  • An American Version of the Habsburg Empire?

    Posted by David Foster on June 13th, 2018 (All posts by )

    Based on a recommendation from Sgt Mom, I recently read A Sailor of Austria, a novel about an Austrian submarine commander in WWI.  I thought it was excellent, but this post isn’t a book review.

    Both this novel and the memoirs of a real-life Austrian sub commander, Captain Georg von Trapp, portray the intergroup tensions that plagued the multinational/multiethnic/multilanguage/multireligious entity that was the Austro-Hungarian empire.  These tensions only got worse, of course, as the war situation turned darker.  For example, Captain von Trapp, while having some shipyard work done in his submarine, observed that “the work is actually delayed. It is quite similar to Penelope’s tapestry: mysterious forces impede the construction. The crew is suspicious.”  He thought it likely that Czechs working in the shipyard were deliberately slowing the work, noting that  “At the American declaration of war, they supposedly really celebrated, but you can’t pin anything on them.”

    Reading A Sailor of Austria reminded me of my 2011 post Government Overreach and Ethnic Conflict, in which I quoted AJP Taylor:

    The Austrian state suffered from its strength: it had never had its range of activity cut down during a successful period of laissez-faire, and therefore the openings for a national conflict were far greater. There were no private schools or hospitals, no independent universities; and the state, in its infinite paternalism, performed a variety of services from veterinary surgery to the inspecting of buildings. The appointment of every school teacher, of every railway porter, of every hospital doctor, of every tax-collector, was a signal for national struggle. Besides, private industry looked to the state for aid from tariffs and subsidies; these, in every country, produce ‘log-rolling,’ and nationalism offered an added lever with which to shift the logs. German industries demanded state aid to preserve their privileged position; Czech industries demanded state aid to redress the inequalities of the past. The first generation of national rivals had been the products of universities and fought for appointment at the highest professional level: their disputes concerned only a few hundred state jobs. The generation which followed them was the result of universal elementary education and fought for the trivial state employment which existed in every village; hence the more popular national conflicts at the turn of the century.

    The present-day US doesn’t have the level of government dominance that existed in the Austro-Hungarian empire, certainly, but the degree to which many nominally-private activities are now government-funded (universities, healthcare)–combined with the extreme politicization of everything from coffee to football–is helping to drive those same behaviors of intergroup squabbling.

    It does seem that the US is in danger of ceasing to be a nation-state at all and transitioning into a  multinational, multiethnic, multilingual, multireligious, gender-divided empire comprised of groups that are primarily interested in gaining power over their internal rivals.

    Discuss

     

    18 Responses to “An American Version of the Habsburg Empire?”

    1. Mike K Says:

      The battle over school languages is described in “The Sleepwalkers”

      There is also speculation that the crown prince did not commit suicide but was shot because he was flirting with the Hungarians.

    2. Mrs. Davis Says:

      It does seem that the US is in danger of ceasing to be a nation-state at all and transitioning into a multinational, multiethnic, multilingual, multireligious, gender-divided empire comprised of groups that are primarily interested in gaining power over their internal rivals.

      Meh. I understand how you can fear that, but it’s that, an emotion. In the absence of a unifying external threat, it will always seem that way. And it’s a good thing not to have a unifying external threat. For now. But we will have one soon, China. And then we will come together to respond.

      Until then the donks will seek to pit minority victims against greedy corporations and fatcats and the trunks will seek to protect their rent seeking donors from free market competition. I don’t think it threatens the nation nearly as much as the growing irreligiosity of the populace and the attendant abandonment of personal responsibility.

    3. JNorth Says:

      “It does seem that the US is in danger of ceasing to be a nation-state at all and transitioning into a multinational, multiethnic, multilingual, multireligious, gender-divided empire comprised of groups that are primarily interested in gaining power over their internal rivals.”

      Well, that is what happens when you keep importing people from foreign nations, different ethnicities, speaking foreign languages. What else would anyone reasonable expect?

    4. Brian Says:

      America never was a nation-state. It was an idea-state, the one and only. I’m not sure that there is any unifying idea any more.

      That being said, I think it is entirely possible that the current political situation is not at all stable, and things will realign in ways much more favorable than the CW proposes. For instance, there really is no reason why blacks and Hispanics are an obvious fit for a party led by rich white leftists whose main concerns are transgender bathrooms, open borders, and the approval of European leftist politicians.

    5. OBloodyHell Says:

      Yes.

      Just yes.

      At this point, it appears that the social cancer that is PostModern Liberalism has probably won.

      I suppose the next two to ten years will put punctuation onto that. If this victimhood mentality recedes, if the antiConservative, antiTrump, antisolution insanity fades, then there’s hope.

      If not, it’s all a slide into darkness…
      :-(

    6. David Foster Says:

      JNorth….”Well, that is what happens when you keep importing people from foreign nations, different ethnicities, speaking foreign languages. What else would anyone reasonable expect?”

      OTOH, this country in the 19th and early 20th centuries had large number of immigrants…Italians, East Europeans, Irish, Russian Jews, etc etc. A big difference was that there was not then a large industry of academics, journalists, actors, and politicians focused on destroying any concept that the United States might have any value.

      Also, the fractures in the US today are by no means all ethnicity, language, or even religion-based…see for example this Washington Post article on the appropriateness of hating men:

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/why-cant-we-hate-men/2018/06/08/f1a3a8e0-6451-11e8-a69c-b944de66d9e7_story.html?utm_term=.7b1c9fc51a20

    7. Grurray Says:

      “America never was a nation-state. It was an idea-state, the one and only. I’m not sure that there is any unifying idea any more”

      Similar to the Roman Empire. The unifying principles were law, order, social organization, technology. Among other things.
      This is why the Byzantine Empire was a Roman continuation and the Holy Roman Empire or the later Habsburgs were not. Because of their tight socio-political fabric some historians see the Byzantines as a republic more than an empire.

      Even after Constantinople fell to the Turks, Christians in the Ottoman Empire were identified as Romans for legal reasons up until the 19th century. They called themselves Romans up until about the Greek independence movement and modern nationalism. Maintaining our American identity is something we in the remnant can at least look forward to when it’s all over and we’re being subjugated by our SJW overlords.

    8. AesopFan Says:

      An interesting post at Quillette on the topic of identity politics, which is the heart of the multi-culti empire and will be the ultimate cause of its dissolution or destruction, whichever comes first.

      https://quillette.com/2018/05/28/sam-harris-not-ezra-klein-one-making-space-people-colour/

    9. David Foster Says:

      I think the fragmentation of America is being driven by three primary forces:

      1) Log-rolling politicians. Such have always been with us.

      2) “Nonprofits”…there are large numbers of these that thrive by stirring up resentment and fear among target groups, often while providing very good livings for their top executives.

      3) Academics, writers, and religious leaders…Andre Maurois observed that people who are intelligent but not at all creative tend to latch on to Systems, and to interpret them much more rigorously than would their originators. Most academics, etc are Intelligent in a test-passing sense, but I doubt if they are any more creative on the average than are members of the general population…yet, they always have to be writing, speaking, advocating, getting attention. Often, they do that by grabbing onto whatever the hot conceptual framework at the moment is…class, race, gender, whatever…and pushing some special angle on that.

    10. Mike K Says:

      America has a principle agent problem.

      Definition: The principle agent problem arises when one party (agent) agrees to work in favor of another party (principle) in return for some incentives. Such an agreement may incur huge costs for the agent, thereby leading to the problems of moral hazard and conflict of interest. Owing to the costs incurred, the agent might begin to pursue his own agenda and ignore the best interest of the principle, thereby causing the principal agent problem to occur.

      Politicians run for office with a promise to represent those who vote for them, and even those who did not. In return, they have a salary and a number of perks which have increased enormously the past 100 years.

      I’m not talking about the Senate Dining Room. The usual pattern is for a politician to spend 10 to 20 years in office with a salary of around $200,000 for a Congressman, $233,000 for the Speaker.

      At the end of that career, they retire as millionaires. A few like the Clintons retire as almost billionaires.

      Shareholders of a company appoint managers to look after the proceedings of the company and earn profits on their behalf. The shareholders expect the managers to distribute all the profits to the shareholders. But the managers sensing their own growth and salary expectation try to retain the profits for future as a safe side. This can lead to principle agent problem. It is one of the most noticed problems in the current situation when most companies are not being managed by the owners themselves.

      The agent manages to benefit himself. And here we are.

    11. David Foster Says:

      “The shareholders expect the managers to distribute all the profits to the shareholders. But the managers sensing their own growth and salary expectation try to retain the profits for future as a safe side.”

      Not really correct. A company that distributes ALL of the profits to the shareholders is not going to have any money to reinvest and grow the business. (unless by selling more shares, which would dilute the existing shareholders, or by debt financing) There are plenty of valid reasons for retaining earnings within the enterprise.

      Sometimes managements do retain too much of the profit, under the belief (which turns out to be mistaken) that they can reinvest it in business growth when it would have been more rational to pay out more and grow at a lower pace than wished-for…who knows, this may turn out to have been the case with Amazon or even Apple.

      Principal-agent problem is indeed a serious problem, in politics and in business, but the linked writer could have used a better example.

    12. Mike K Says:

      “the linked writer could have used a better example.”

      Oh, I agree. The matter of “enormous costs” is not really valid, either.

      The McCain-Feingold Law did create a bad problem in that it made the politician spend all his/her time raising money. The staff wrote the laws. Then they moved to regulatory agencies or to lobby firms where they profited from their own work.

    13. Phil Ossiferz Stone Says:

      Non-Europeans vote en bloc Democrat.

      White babies are now a slight minority.

      The number one most-widely used history text in our nations high schools is A People’s History of the United States.

      Ponder those three in combination for a quiet moment or two.

      Two trannie boys ran and won in a girls’ high school foot race in Texas this week. Neither the parents, the PTA, the school board, nor the district, nor the Texas Dept of Education, nor anyone in state government said or did anything to halt this Orwellian monstrosity from taking place. No one wants to be sued or spat on or screamed at or appear controversial. This was in TEXAS. Not Berkeley.

      The poster above clears gelded freaks with peckers bigger than his, so he tells us, and Chinese nationals fresh off the boat for military service. He knows the gelded freaks are 50% likely to try and kill themselves at some point and that the Chinese are almost certainly working for ChiCom intelligence. He dares say or do nothing. No demure.

      The three million illegals in California have more electoral throw weight than any two low-pop red states. Wyoming and Montana have been ethnically cleansed — I do not use the term lightly — from the electoral college. No one points this out. No one says or does anything.

      A normal country would have had a civil war over this by now. Clearly our boy-gelding baby-murdering vote-rigging meek mild simpering country is no longer normal. What you are doing, folks, is merely noticing.

      We cannot save the country as we knew it. It is already in the rear-view mirror. What is at stake is whether or not our tribe can salvage something for ourselves and our posterity, or whether the last remaining coals of the lamp of liberty get stomped into cold grey ash.

    14. David Foster Says:

      Phil…”The poster above clears gelded freaks”

      Over the line on ad hominem attack

    15. David Foster Says:

      A truly hideous example of fragmentation in the name of diversity, involving Penguin Random House and an author:

      http://commonsensewonder.blogspot.com/2018/06/delingpole-bestselling-author-fired-for.html

    16. Anonymous Says:

      The poster above clears gelded freaks with peckers bigger than his, so he tells us,

      How odd a comment. First, transgender applicants are not currently, and hopefully never, being admitted to the military.

      Second, the Chinese applicants are not “fresh off the boat .”

      I saw two in Phoenix a few weeks ago, Both had applied and had their physicals done over two years ago, so the physicals had expired.

      One had degrees in Accounting and an MBA. The other had two degrees in electrical and industrial engineering.

      They told me the background checks hd taken over two years, hence the redo exams.

      I think you have an information problem and maybe an anger problem.

      You remind me a bit of the leftist commenters at leftist blogs I used to read who would come up with nasty personal attacks based on nothing.

    17. rcocean Says:

      The Austrian Hungarian Empire was a fruit salad of various people’s who mostly hated each other. Its main reason for being, to defend Central Europe from the Ottoman disappeared by 1900. During WW 1 – the AH did well against the Italians, because no one liked them. But the Slavs had no desire to fight the Russians.

      Its amazing it hung around as long as it did.

      But America’s future is Brazil, not Austria Hungary.

    18. Homer Price Says:

      Regionalism was a characteristic of the American political system that seemed to fade after the Civil War…and the Depression put a stake thru its heart with the federal assertion of authority and centralization of administrative powers. I think the trend is reversing…a nation as large and diverse as the United States can no longer rely on one-size-fits-all solutions. We may yet see the individual states being laboratories for different approaches to common problems. Regarding the Hapsburgs, I suggest Joseph Roth’s “Radetzky March” for another view of their decline. My takeaway was that their functionaries saw all of the vulnerabilities, but were powerless to take concrete action. WRT to parallels with the United States: in my youth I used to think that senior leaders in government had internalized a set of core values: personal honor, respect for the institution, fealty to the constitution, etc. Over the years I’ve come to realize they are like the rest of us…trying to do the best they can day-to-day amid limited resources, uncertainty, and constrained by procedure. Like the those in the last days of the Hapsburgs, I suspect there is a sense that we skrewed it up. However, our political system allows for a degree of responsiveness, personnel turnover, and lower-level freedom of action that may yet give us a window of opportunity.