Sunday, December 16, 2012

The European Union, the Habsburg Monarchy and my nightstand.

"Downton Abbey's" okay, but quite unexpectedly in 2012, the history and legacy of the Habsburg dynasty again became a theme with me, reflected by three novels forming the core of my reading since the middle of June:

Robert Musil, “The Man Without Qualities”
Joseph Roth, "The Radetzky March"
Gregor Von Rezzori, "An Ermine on Czernopol"

Musil was a lengthy commitment, and Roth a far easier read, though no less compelling. The latter novel is ongoing, but may prove to be the most interesting of  them all.

I covered some of this in an earlier post: European Journal. Well, sort of. In the following essay, Cooper picks up where the late Otto left off.

The European Union and the Habsburg Monarchy, by Robert Cooper (Eurozine)

The Habsburg Monarchy lasted five centuries. It was both solid and flexible; it aroused genuine affection among its citizens. But it vanished in a puff of smoke. Should we expect the European Union, shallow in history and unloved by those it serves, to do better?

To be fair, it was more than a puff of smoke. The bullets from Gavrilo Princip's revolver killed the Arch-Duke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sofia. What killed the Habsburg Monarchy was the four years of pounding by artillery that followed. This brought death and ruin to the old Europe; in Russia it brought revolution and tyranny, and in Germany regime change accompanied by failed revolution, then inflation and depression, and finally world war and genocide.

What arose from the ashes? The answer is: the European Union and NATO. It is the EU and its resemblance to the Habsburg Monarchy that is the subject of this essay, but something needs first to be said about NATO which was and is its indispensable partner.

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