Antoine-Joseph-Elisée-Adolphe Blanc de Saint-Bonnet (1815-1880) was a Lyonnaise legitimist, counterrevolutionary and ultramontane thinker, among the highest calibre of his kind. Combining a vivid Christian anthropology with staunch ultra-royalist views and lapidary, biting prose, he could be described as like Joseph de Maistre but without the fideism, occasionalism and absolutism that taint the latter with a certain heterodoxy. In another sense, he could be compared to Thomas Carlyle, except with a much crisper writing style compared to that of the meandering Scottish sage, and a devout Catholic traditionalist as opposed to an innovative romantic. Saint-Bonnet is extremely quotable, indeed his prose can be smoothly cited like aphorism without at all being aphoristically muddled in its thought. Some of it is intense, and can be felt as though a dagger is being thrust in your heart, twisted, removed, and stabbed right back in. For instance:
The highest moral virtue in our day is to “amplify marginalized voices.” Consequently, I want to share the story of the Italian legitimists: Parmese and Sicilian neoborbonicos, Modenese filoestenses [loyal to the House of Habsburg-Este], Austro-Lombardian legitimists, Savoyard conservatives who renounced the bogus cause of “Italian unity” so as to retain their own statehood, and of course those brave intransigent Catholic defenders of the temporal power of the Pope.
The Italian Risorgimento is a fascinating period to study since it is the most unambiguous example of how, i) the cause of “national unification” was in fact the first color revolution; ii) said cause served to extinguish the last remnants of the old regime that would not only irrevocably reconfigure world politics, but effectively reduce the political right to a state of unending impotence and mediocrity, detached from the legacy it was robbed of; iii) that there was no such thing as a good and noble “classical liberalism” that was hijacked, but that from the beginning the ideology of liberalism was a centralizing and totalitarian one that employed brutal police repression of those loyal to their deposed sovereigns in the Apennine duchies, and in the Italian South most horrifically reached proportions amounting to an ethnic pogrom that included conditions akin to concentration camps in the Fenestrolle Fort and plans for penal colonies in Argentina and Tunisia, all predating the Anglo-Boer wars; iv) the cause of national unity was an essentially liberal and Masonic elite ideology that led to ruthless wars of aggression and dismemberment of centuries-old states and cultures, and wrought economic impoverishment that spurred massive emigration, all with long-lasting repercussions.
In the first chapter I will give a summary of the ideological origins and practical execution of the Risorgimento, in the second I will discuss the unsung heroes who tried to prevent it, and in the third I will talk about the backward, misgoverned and contentious state that it created, i.e. the Kingdom of Italy.
The charter of Louis XVIII, the sinister mother of a restoration that restored nothing…
— Carl Ernst Jarcke, 1834
We are born, so to speak, before our own laws which are less the product of our experience than of our errors and our passions. We cannot affirm them on the authority of our fathers because the chain of time no longer exists for us.
— Etienne-Denis Pasquier, 1820
The reputation of Otto von Bismarck has fluctuated from the ambivalence of his contemporaries, to his canonization as father of the German nation following his dismissal in 1890 and particularly his death in 1898, to then being scapegoated as the embodiment of ghastly “Prussian militarism” and the predecessor to Hitler after 1945. Other than that, he is known for his handouts and his antagonism toward the Catholic Church. Oh, and unifying Germany, of course.
Few doubt his status as a paradigmatic conservative figure, however. It is a testament to how the world order he helped create (but as I will argue, was not actually that essential to, hence disputing his “Great Man” role) so thoroughly extinguished the legitimist cause that he ended up inheriting their legacy, with none of the substance.
If you think boldly proclaiming that violent street riots are peaceful demonstrations right while standing in the background of a blazing inferno is some kind of new level of degeneration by the press, you would be wrong.
From an article published in the South Australian Register, dated to September 10, 1860, which in turn cites a correspondent for The Times. This is in the context of the Garibaldian invasion of Naples and a last-minute constitutional proclamation by Francis II, giving an inch and having a mile taken from him:
The progress of events in Sicily caused great changes at Naples. By a Sovereign Act, under date of the 25th of June, constitutional and representative institutions, on national and Italian principles, were granted to the kingdom of Naples.
The tricolor flag was on the same day hoisted at the royal castle by the Neapolitan men-of-war, and was saluted by the guns of the foreign men-of-war in the bay. An illumination took place in the evening. We have other events to record which must be read in connection with the above. On the 5th of June the French Ambassador at Naples, Baron Brenier, while passing through the Strada di Toledo, received several blows on he head from a loaded cane. He fell senseless and was carried to the palace of the Legation. The injuries which he received did not prove dangerous. On the following day the King of Naples instructed the Marquis d’Antonini to express to the French Government his most sincere regret on account of the insult offered to Baron Brenier, and to promise every retribution upon the guilty parties. It has been ascertained that, at the time the Baron Brenier was attacked, the streets of Naples were filled with rioters. The disturbances seem to have lasted for some time, and reached a great height on the 28th. The Commissariats of the 12 districts of the city were on that day simultaneously ransacked and pillaged. The archives were burnt and the agents murdered. After this, Naples was proclaimed in a state of siege, and any assembling in the streets was prohibited. The state of siege did not last long; but the influence of the reactionary party in the councils of the King was so strong that at one period the aforementioned reform Ministry gave in their resignations. Everything we hear from Naples goes to show that there is almost a complete cessation of government in that city; the King being afraid to act on the traditional policy of his court and the so-called Constitution being anything but consolidated. Nevertheless the people conduct themselves on the whole in an exemplary manner. Probably, they see already the beginning of the end. The correspondent from The Times writes on July 17 : —
‘Three weeks have passed away since all authority has ceased to exist, and yet I have never known Naples so cheerful, and, taking it altogether, so orderly. You have to consider the moral and physical torments they have endured for so long a series of years to be able to appreciate the great forbearance of the people. True it is that they have hunted down, and are hunting down, the police where ever they can find them; unhappily true is it that in some cases they have killed them; but the majority they have consigned to the military or the magistrates, and as to robberies I have scarcely heard of any ; and yet these policemen have been their daily and hourly tormentors ; they have levied a tax on their labour, on their fruit or fish stalls, on their cafes or cabs ; they have denounced them, broken open their houses in the dead of the night, torn them from their families, and consigned them to dungeons such as those I described in my last letter; they have beaten them, and spat in their faces, and persecuted them to the death.’
There has been a great deal of talk within the last fortnight about a proposal for an alliance between Naples and Piedmont. The proposal was originated at the time when the new constitution was proclaimed in Naples, and it is understood to be strongly supported by the French Government. The Italian party are decidedly opposed to it; and, of course, it is extremely distasteful to Garibaldi, whose plan involves the absolute union of all the Italian states under King Victor Emmanuel, and who is meanwhile delaying the annexation of Sicily to Piedmont, simply because this annexation might interfere with the ultimate absorption of Naples. A deputation is now at Turin engaged in negotiations for the alliance. After the promise of concessions given on he 25th of June by the Neapolitan Government, the Revolutionary Committee of Naples issued a violent placard, warning the citizens of the snare laid for them by the Bourbons, the undercurrent of popular feeling manifested it the same time many uneasy symptoms. A letter of June 30 received by the Times from the correspondent at Naples furnishes some details with regard to the apathy with which the promises of reform were received, the disorganization of the police, the attack on the French Ambassador, and some other points.
Nothing new under the scorching sun of liberalism.
Hi, I’m Nigel Carlsbad, and this used to be a blog about obscure 19th-century counterrevolutionaries that I haven’t updated or done research for in ages. Perhaps one day I’ll actually get back to it, but not likely at this point. I guess it has good kvlt value, though.
What I will be doing instead is temporarily resurrecting this place to pontificate about that novel coronavirus that has us all under house arrest in an indefinite state of emergency. It’s the Schmittian dream come true. It didn’t come from the expected source, but no matter. I’m quite confident that compulsively disinfecting every surface you touch, getting fatter while ‘sheltered-in-place’ and not getting some virus-disinfecting sunshine won’t in any way contribute to a particularly bad flu season next year. Like the one we’re in right now. Sorry, I know it’s not just the flu. You’d think someone would do a good comparative analysis on previously identified human coronaviruses like HCoV-NL63 and HCoV-OC43, but in ‘normal times’ not too many people care about those. How lethal are they, really? Who knows? Out of sight, out of mind — this is a common thread in all this.
I’m not an epidemiological expert by any stretch, but much like the rest of the West I am on the verge of becoming one overnight with all the free time to debate CFR, R0, ICU capacity, IL-6 levels, antibody testing and other things most people had no clue existed until last month.
The “Whig interpretation of history” is all too often framed as the view that history follows a progressive arc from backwardness and superstition to liberty and equality, and hence with a set end goal that allows one to differentiate between a “right” and “wrong” side of history. Although this is doubtlessly a common viewpoint, it does a disservice to actually understanding the 19th-century Whig historiographic tradition that Herbert Butterfield was reacting to in his famous 1931 essay (which he later repudiated, funnily enough) on The Whig Interpretation of History. Whig history was patriotic, nationalist, upheld a vision of parliamentary sovereignty and the common law tradition, and extolled the virtues of a primitive Anglo-Saxon liberty that either the Norman yoke crushed and then had to be revived (Macaulay’s view), or that it was a character trait so strong not even the Normans could extinguish (E.A. Freeman’s view, also of Bishop Stubbs). Hence, “What was Whig history” because I maintain it was a past-tense school of thought that no longer genuinely exists, and indeed many of its tropes were adopted by latter-day right-wing nationalists who didn’t even recognize its original pedigree and assumed that they were actually anti-Whiggish tropes, since the march of progress continued on with multiculturalism. Books like Michael H. Hart’s Understanding Human History and Arthur Kemp’s March of the Titans: A History of the White Race — both attempts at writing a racially aware history targeted at white advocates — are very much Whiggish in the original sense. Above all though, Whig history is specifically English, which is why it is Whig history and not “progressive history” more generally.
Carl Wilhelm von Lancizolle (1796-1871) was among the hardest of the Prussian counterrevolutionaries, a historian and archivist who completely and vehemently rejected the vocabulary of modern political philosophy in favor of recounting and defending the legal and constitutional experience of Prussia and the German Reich wie es eigentlich gewesen, to the best of his abilities. He merged a patrimonial view of the state building on the Hallerian private law approach combined with a strong Christian integralist piety and a deep historical consciousness.
No surprise that the infamous German-liberal-turned-Machiavellian-realist Heinrich von Treitschke, who eventually became scapegoated as a forerunner of National Socialism, made a special mention for Lancizolle in his History of Germany in the nineteenth century like so: “The erudite tomes of the excellent Lancizolle concerning Prussia’s monarchy and estates already gave the impression of being a voice from the tomb. This faithful Hallerian, like Schmalz and Marwitz before him, spoke of the different “states” of the royal house, for he regarded the modern state and its legal unity as an empty abstraction.”
Rather, in this respect too, the principle applied: the sovereign decreed independently, and without being bound to foreign consent, to be fine about everything which falls within the sphere of his right, and is subject to his free and proper disposition, although he often seeks counsel in this too and to hear the report of his higher servants or of his estates. On the other hand, the consent of the claimant is required if he wants to extend fine disposition over foreign rights. In accordance with this supreme principle, the sovereign, without being bound to any foreign will, had the free disposition of all honors, titles, and dignities, the bestowing of which he was entitled to under the rule of the kingdom — elevations of status, elevations to the nobility, acquisitions of orders, awards of titles, and so on-as well as provisions on his own titles and predicates, on his court, and the titles of his court. In the same capacity, and as the head of his house, he decreed all his family and family affairs, as far as they did not affect the rights of the agnates, and could thus be decided without their consent, and in particular gave his consent to the marriages of the members of his house. The ruler was further empowered, as lord and sovereign, to ordain and direct his own relations with other sovereign governments, to wage war, to make peace, to acquire territories, to surrender (that is, to have his due rights to others), to exchange or otherwise to sell. As owner of certain domains and regalia, he had the full authority of the administration of the same, as well as the legal arrangement of the norms according to which it was to be administered. In the sale of the domains, however, the sovereign was limited, partly by their fideicommissary nature and other provisions of the house-laws, partly by treaties with the estates. As a feudal lord, he was able to exercise all the rights in his upper property, which found their natural limits in the rights of the vassals. The sovereign had, by virtue of his sovereignty within certain positive limits, the right and the duty of civil and criminal jurisdiction and the police protection of his subjects. In the former case he filled the courts with a sufficient number of legally qualified judges, instructed them, as instructions for the conduct of their business, when the particular conditions of the country required it, and had jurisdiction to improve the judiciary in the lands. With regard to the security police [Sicherheitspolizei], he was entitled to all general orders and individual orders which served to safeguard the life, property, honor and all other rights of his subjects against criminal and dangerous acts or events. If the regent, as noted, was entitled in all these relations to the obtaining of independent decrees, orders, and orders, he could, on the other hand, dispose of the rights of individuals or corporative associations only with the consent and explicit authorization of the claimants. This was especially true of the standisch/estate corporations and their positive rights, as they were established not by vague theoretical propositions, but by express contracts and rightly existing practices and habits of old age. The regent was free to dispose of his own rights, and, according to his instructions and regulations, he could exercise them according to his own well-being. Laws that concerned the good of the land without affecting well-deserved rights, he used to submit to the opinion of the estates; Interventions in positive juridicality required the legal validity of the consent of the beneficiaries, in so far as the law determines their rights to change or diminish.
— Carl Ernst Jarcke on the outlines of royal authority, from Die ständische Verfassung und die deutschen Constitutionen (1834)
Heinrich Leo (1799-1878) had a varied career as a historian and publicist from his youthful involvement in radicalism and democracy at Jena, his turn toward conservatism following his dissertation on Lombard town law in 1824, after 1850 a regular writer for the primary organ of Prussian conservatism, the Kreuzzeitung, as his enamourment and steady break with Hegelianism that began with an early polemic against the Young Hegelians (the predecessors of critical theory) entitled Die Hegelingen (1839). After the 1860s, he was a visible participant in “Ut Omnes Unum,” an ecumenical movement dedicated to the reunification of Catholic and Protestant churches in Germany.