Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Kraft im Recht: Metternich on political philosophy

The blogger Deogolwulf has posted to his blog what he claims to be the first complete English translation of Prince Metternich's Political Testament.

The text itself is directed to historians, advising them which archives are pertinent to the statesman's deeds and giving them a few autobiographical notes.

"I made history and therefore did not find time to write it," Metternich says, offering a few reflections on the French Revolution and Napoleon and the Revolutions of 1848.

Yet he also discusses political science, taking as a starting point his adopted motto "Strength in Right" (Kraft im Recht). He praises political gradualism and ordered liberty while condemning ideology and revolution.

"I have always regarded preconceived systems as the product of leisured heads or the outburst of emotional minds," he writes.
"Not in the struggle of society towards progress, but rather in progression towards the true goods: towards freedom as the inevitable yield of order; towards equality in its only applicable degree of that before the law; towards prosperity, inconceivable without the foundation of moral and material peace; towards credit, which can rest only on the basis of trust — in all that I have recognized the duty of government and the true salvation for the governed.

I have looked upon despotism of every kind as a symptom of weakness. Where it appears, it is a self-punitive evil, most intolerable when it poses behind the mask of promoting the cause of freedom."

His remarks on Montesquieu's system of checks and balances are of interest to any student of the U.S. Constitution. He calls it
...a conceptual error of the English constitution, impractical in its application, because the concept of such a balancing is rooted in the assumption of an eternal struggle, instead of in that of peace, the first necessity for the life and prosperity of states.

Those who complain about the "divisiveness" of American political debates, just before they realize the relative insignificance of these disagreements, should recognize that the object of their dislike is in fact the proper functioning of the country's constitution.

Metternich continues: "Without the foundation of order, the call for freedom is nothing more than the striving of some party after an envisaged end. In its actual use, the call inevitably expresses itself as tyranny."

This is quite the antidote for free-floating cries of "Freedom."

Upon reflection, we see the defense of order is not merely institutional conservatism. Rather, it is at root an exercise in contemplation.

The single-minded man of only one principle may dismiss the need for both general wisdom and concrete knowledge, as he holds his principle may be applied universally by anyone regardless of her circumstances or personal quality.

Those who counsel our monomaniacal friends to curb such enthusiasms lack this nescient luxury of fanaticism.

The narrowly principled reformer must only know his principles. These may be listed in a brief manifesto without significant distortion, like constants set for a computer program. Contrariwise, the defender of the present order must perceive and praise the many goods targeted by the would-be revolutionary.

An opponent of feminism could find herself defending a multitude of concrete habits and customs: the patronizing behavior required from polite men on dates; the ban on women in combat; the benefits of unequal pay in the workplace.

A proponent of feminism must only defend and assert one idea, an intangible often left undefined in relation to any ideal or real order.

It is little wonder why traditional conservatives applaud the Permanent Things. They have so many things to consider.

6 comments:

WLindsayWheeler said...

Thanks for posting this. I really enjoyed this information.

A true American conservative is a Loyalist. True conservativism does not exist in America--unless you are a monarchist. That is the real right.

I extend an invitation to you to join Royalcello's Monarchist forum here Theodore's Monarchist Forum. And here is a thread on True Conservativism. Americanism needs to be condemned across the board. You can't call oneself a conservative and uphold the American revolution.

WLindsayWheeler said...

Another writer on the Monarchist website had this to say about Metternich. I wonder what you would say:

[QUOTE]Klemens von Metternich is regarded as the ideological progenitor of diplomatic realism for his role as "midwife" to the multipolar balance of power which emerged in Europe after the Congress of Vienna. Diplomatic realism maintains that polities in a multipolar international context will act according to their own enlightened self-interest, rather like economic players in a free market. Diplomatic players will engage their rivals and forge alliances based on strictly pragmatic and amoral considerations, rather than on moral, religious, and ideological concerns. It is, in short, a supremely materialistic school of thought.

Would you believe me if I told you that Metternich actually described himself as a "liberal" on several occasions? He did, and there were several reasons for this. Firstly, because his amoral and pragmatic approach to international affairs clearly distinguished him from his more romantic nineteenth-century contemporaries such as Charles X and Alexander I. And secondly, because domestically Metternich actually favored certain progressive, parliamentary reforms as he correctly recognized that the antiquated structures of the Empire could not survive in a rapidly-changing Europe. Imagine that, Wheeler - posterity dubs him a "conservative", yet he insisted on considering himself a "liberal" within certain specific contexts! Funny how reality tends to contradict itself like that.

As far as Metternich's ideological legacy is concerned, his policies have engendered an entire school of political thought which became particularly vocal during the Cold War. His work inspired American statesmen and analysts ranging from Henry Kissinger and George F. Kennan to Paul H. Nitze, Walter Lippmann and even Fareed Zakaria. In fact, most of Metternich's latter-day political disciples can probably be found in an American context.[/QUOTE]

Kevin Jones said...

Thank you for the invitation to the Monarchy forum, but I'm afraid I'm still attached to our declining republican order. I think I know royalcello from Free Republic, back when it allowed for more eccentrics.

WLindsayWheeler said...

Fr. Seraphim Rose wrote about the error of the modern age. His book, Nihilism, The Root of Revolution in the Modern Age, points out succinctly the error and what Nihilism is about:

"The first and most obvious item in the program of Nihilim is the destruction of the Old Order". (pg 75)

Fr. Seraphim Rose points out the progression from liberalism to Nihilism. The program of Nihilism "requires the destruction of every element of this Old Order". He writes:
"The Nihilist Revolution stands against authority and order, against Truth, against God".

The American Revolution was about destroying the Old Order and replacing it with a Novus Ordo. You can look that up on the back of the US Dollar Bill, i.e. Novus Ordo Secularum. The FFofA purposely rejected the Old Order. Many of the FFofA were Masons. I though Masonry was condemned by the Roman Catholic Church.

Americanism is a grave error and is Nihilist. No good righteous Catholic can uphold, defend America and her principles or her set up. You can't be for a Nihilist program.

We need to restore and return to the Old Order for God created the Old Order for a purpose and |He has his reasons. I wish you would reconsider your defense of the psuedo-republic that is America.

WLindsayWheeler said...

For this election, I wrote in “Her Majesty the Queen of Great Britain”. It is clear that the vulgar class can not rule itself. The whole set up of America is Nihilistic. Now, I live in Michigan and on the ballot was the Legalization of marijuana for medical use and stem cell research. I find it hard to believe that anybody in Michigan of the millions of voters have the necessary education and knowledge and prudence to even vote on the Legalization of marijuanna and stem cell research. These ought to have been left for Church leaders to decide. That anybody in their right minds think that the vulgar class has the aptitude to decide these issues rightly is absolutely ludicrous.

There is no true conservativism without Monarchy. Without royalty and a true pedigree, blueblood aristocracy, there can be no true conservativism. There can not be any true conservativism when women vote, hold political office or be judges and lawyers. There can be no true conservativism without the principle OF Church AND State.

That is true conservativism.

There is no such thing as conserving a Nihilist revolution that undid the Old Order! That is an oxymoron. One can’t possibly, logically and intellectually “conserve” the American revolution. One can not uphold the Masonic Enlightenment “Rights of Man” Declaration of Independence and call oneself a conservative.

This is the error of the Republican Party. It was NEVER conservative at its beginning, when it fomented and lead the tyranny of the Northern States against the South and advocated the abolition of slavery (That is NOT conservative but progressive); it was NEVER conservative during its lifetime when it signed the Income tax, the Civil Rights Act and various other progressive causes; and at its end, where it first espoused the elimination of the Department of Education and George Bush said, “I’m the Educational President”. The Republican party was not, or ever was “conservative”.

Unless one is a Monarchist, for Church and State, refuse women to be voting or in politics, one can't call oneself a conservative. As Prince Metternich was a reactionary, we must be reactionaries. Rush Limbaugh is not a conservative, and neither is Shawn Hannity.

Loyalist till death. God save Her Majesty the Queen of Great Britian, the rightful, God-Blessed sovereign over these colonies! WLW

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.