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What is it about nice people that attract total idiots?Nice people are martyrs. Idiots are evangelists.


Monday, June 23, 2014

This week in WWI

This week, I found an article, published last week,  on the climate of June 1914 from The Nation.  It had two very interesting parts.  The first was taken from an essay on Austria Hungary that was published on June fourth, which started by bringing up the recent death of Francis (Hungarian Ferenc) Kossuth.  Kossuth was the son of the great Hungarian patriot and rebel leader Lajos Kossuth, who virtually stood alone when the Russians invaded Hungary in 1848-9 to re-establish Austrian rule.  The son was a leader in the Independence party, whom was described by essay writer Simeon Strunsky as:

It's aim was the reduction of the relations between Hungary and Austria to a personal union (IOW, two nations whose only connection was the single monarch) ; and there were those who anticipated that even this slender tie would disappear in the death of the venerable Francis Joseph.
Ferenc Kossuth
The problem with this, he said, began with Austria's giving universal male suffrage in 1905 (which Hungary was not minded to do due to the fact that the Magyar (Hungarian) people made up only 55% of Hungary's population, and only 1/4 of men had the vote), and grew worse upon the Bosnian annexation of 1908, which put another three million Serbs and Croats into a minority stew of Slovaks, Poles, Ukrainians, Germans, and Romanians.  Hungary had traditionally dealt with Vienna from a position of solidarity;  but now,
..Events had tended to remind the dominant Magyar element that their case is not so different than that of Austria, of which they have been in the habit of thinking of as a conglomeration of peoples ready to fall apart.
So now, Austria and Hungary were two men on a capsized boat fending off sharks; one could no longer survive intact without the other.  Which is likely why the Hungarian President, Count Istevan Tisza, fought so hard in the coming month to keep the Duality out of a war that might brake the whole nation like a Faberge egg.  After 30 plus years of waiting for the Austrian half to implode, the Hungarians were awakening to the fact that their half of the nation could fly apart at any moment.
The second part in the article involved financial writer Alexander Dana Noyes' article on former Republican Senator George Edmunds of Vermont, published just three days before the assassination in Sarajevo.  The two time presidential candidate (1880 and 1884)  talked about how all the world's political upheaval of the day was part of a cycle:

It will all come out right. The troubles are not political, but social. Human history and experience teach that things go around in circles. We are now in a part of the circle which I shall not endeavor to classify. We are troubled with an epidemic of emotion among people who don’t stop to reflect. Radical doctrines are merely a sign of the times. Some day there will be a further swing around the circle and then you will see a change.
Former Sen.  Edmunds.
This epidemic, this cycle, Noyes likened to the French Revolution of 1789 and the European revolutions of 1848.  He would go on to make two points that seem surprising given hindsight.  The first was on, for want of a better description, what was baby and what was bath water:
...What is even more immediately to the point, leaders in both of those older epoch-making demonstrations, after the real abuses and anachronisms of the period had been successfully attacked, proceeded to indulge in every sort of wild and fantastic propaganda of reform.
Noyes went on to say that you could see the same signs today.  And what did he consider "wild and fantastic propaganda of reform?"  He had a list:
  • In politics, "the recall of judicial decisions";
  • In economic theory, "syndicalism";
  • In social and moral institutions, " Feminism and militant suffragism", which apparently included attacks on the institution of marriage;
  • And in finance, "Government commissions with the power to regulate any incorporated business."
As you pause to reflect on the unpleasant parallels of that with 2014 America, Noyes went on to posit that the closing of the circle would leave things changed, but not that much:
1789 did not introduce a permanent regime of sans-culottes, guillotines, Jacobin clubs, and a calendar in which Year One was the date of the French Convention. The settling down of affairs after 1848 did not establish a world-wide institution of State Socialism. Neither will the aftermath of the present furious emotion upheaval leave the courts or the marriage ceremony abolished, or the banks and the stock exchanges managed by legislative committees. Mr. Edmunds was wise, however, in declining to commit himself as to exactly what part of the circle we are in to-day. That is something which every one would like to know, and which it is not at all probable any one will know until we are considerably further along on the periphery.
To which the modern day Nation closed the article with:
Three days later, Franz Ferdinand was dead and matters were considerably “further along.”
On the 24th, King Peter of Serbia, perhaps presciently, "retired", giving his son Alexander his powers as regent.  He was supposedly pushed into this decision when Alexander won a government power struggle with Dragutin "Apis" Dmitrijevic, the military strongman who was secretly the leader of the Black Hand terrorist group.  Peter spent the war at various spas around Europe;  Alexander led his army both in victory and in their tragic 1915 march to the sea.
On the 27th, Austria warned Italy about its involvement in Albania.  Winning independence just 3 years before, the European powers gave the Albanians a German Prince named William of Wied, nephew of the English-leaning Queen of Romania, to rule them.  He was immediately faced with a Muslim rebellion in the south, being egged on by the Italians, who had been kept by the Great Powers from absorbing Albania after the Italo-Turkish War of 1911.  For their part, the Muslims demanded a Muslim Prince or re-absorption into Turkey.  The Greeks would shortly move into this southern area, as William depended on German and Austrian troops to keep his lamp lit.  The war would end that support, and with Greek withdrawl the land would become a battleground for Austrain, Italian, and Bulgarian forces.
Also on the 27th, Danilo Illic would introduce Princep and his two compatriots to the three locals he had recruited, and pass out the weapons.  The next morning he would line them up along the Appel Quay for their date with destiny.

NOTE:  Tune in next Saturday the 28th for that date with destiny.


  1. Chris:
    I find this web of politics getting larger with each chapter...what ever makes us think that politics TODAY is MORE of a Gordian Knot than that prior to this "War to end all wars"?
    Sadly, politics doesn't seem to WANT to change all that much, even after a CENTURY.
    Very interesting segment.

    Stay safe up there.

    1. I wish I could cram all I learned from the July 1914 book into these posts. What a comedy of errors it was that turned the shooting of a man no one liked (outside his wife and Willy) into a world-changing event.

  2. CW - There is a Children's Place in the Glenbrook Mall here - they sell, get ready for it ... Children's Clothes!

    1. Shows you how often I make it past Red Robin...