Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Wise words from a misunderstood Crown Prince

In Jean-Paul Bled's needlessly harsh biography of Crown Prince Rudolf, we have found these sentences, extract of a letter from Prague to Moritz Szeps on February 23, 1883:

"Le principe des nationalités... marque la victoire des attirances et des instincts charnels sur les progrès spirituels et culturels qu'apportent les idées d'égalité de toutes les nations et de cosmopolitisme."  

Is it then so surprising that today's media, agitating via that cradle of all tyrannies known as public opinion the worst instincts of the masses, bear such responsibility in the growing intra-EU xenophobia? Extreme nationalism preys on feelings like those arising out of the demonization of The Other, never on respect and tolerance for true European diversity.

Most interpretations of Crown Prince Rudolf's life have aimed at explaining Mayerling. They have proceeded backwards. We eagerly await for some generous soul to translate Brigitte Hamann's magnificent biography anytime soon to read a more balanced view.

Mayerling had a deep influence in European history. Would Europe be the same today, had Crown Prince Rudolf become Kaiser following the death of the venerable Emperor Franz Josef on November 21, 1916?

Could a strong Austro-Hungarian Empire have prevented German expansionism and two World Wars?

Has the world ever been sweeter than in Old Vienna?

In any case, after 1918 Central Europe lost a great deal of its cosmopolitanism; self-centered nationalism replaced the international outlook in the culture; and another war killed for ever the World of Yesterday, to be replaced by such examples of progress as Karel Gott, Normalization Szálasi.

And the waltzes were never again danced with such gracious elegance.

Europe, from Erasmus to Magaluf. RIP.

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