I thought this passage by Max Hastings about Archduke Franz Ferdinand was interesting for several reasons:
The Archduke’s political and social views were conservative and vigorously expressed. After attending Edward VII’s 1910 funeral in London, he wrote home deploring the boorishness of most of his fellow sovereigns, and the alleged impertinence of some politicians present, notable among them ex-US president Theodore Roosevelt. It is sometimes suggested that Franz Ferdinand was an intelligent man. Even if this was so, like so many royal personages into modern times, he was corrupted by position, which empowered him to express opinions unenlightened even by contemporary standards.
He loathed Hungarians, telling the Kaiser: ‘the so-called noble, gentlemanly Magyar is a most infamous, anti-dynastic, lying, unreliable fellow’. He regarded southern Slavs as sub-humans, referring to the Serbians as ‘those pigs’. He hankered after recovering Lombardy and Venetia, lost to Italy in his lifetime, for the Hapsburg Empire. Visiting Russia in 1891, Franz Ferdinand declared that its autocracy offered ‘an admirable model’. Tsar Nicholas II recoiled from Franz Ferdinand’s intemperance, especially on racial matters. Both the Archduke and his wife were strongly Catholic, favouring Jesuits and professing hostility towards Freemasons, Jews and liberals. Such was Sophie’s religious fervour that in 1901 she led two hundred fashionable women on a Catholic march through Vienna.
The Archduke nonetheless cherished one prudent conviction: while many Austrians, notably including army chief of staff Gen. Conrad von Hötzendorf, detested Russia and welcomed the prospect of a battlefield showdown with the Tsar, Franz Ferdinand dissented. He was determined, he said repeatedly, to avoid a clash of arms. Desiring a ‘concord of emperors’, he wrote: ‘I shall never lead a war against Russia. I shall make sacrifices to avoid it. A war between Austria and Russia would end either with the overthrow of the Romanovs or with the overthrow of the Habsburgs – or perhaps the overthrow of both.’
He once wrote to Berchtold: ‘Excellency! Don’t let yourself be influenced by Conrad – ever! Not an iota of support for any of his yappings at the Emperor! Naturally he wants every possible war, every kind of hooray! rashness that will conquer Serbia and God knows what else … Through war he wants to make up for the mess that’s his responsibility at least in part. Therefore: let’s not play Balkan warriors ourselves. Let’s not stoop to this hooliganism. Let’s stay aloof and watch the scum bash in each other’s skulls. It’d be unforgivable, insane, to start something that would pit us against Russia.’
I find it remarkable that 100 years later, so many people are still more troubled by the idea that one man might consider a group of people to be scum than by the deaths of tens of millions. The notion that progressive politics and equalitarian sensibilities somehow equate to world peace, or even regional peace, simply do not stand up to historical scrutiny.
That “nonetheless” is false. Hastings fails to see the connection between Ferdinand’s racial intemperance and his reluctance to go to war, just as today’s multiculturalists and diversity advocates fail to see how their policies are leading to bloodshed that may make the trenches of World War I look mild in comparison.
It is the idea of inevitable progress that has reliably led to these massive blood-spillings. One notes that presently, in America, it is the neocons and the left-liberals who are keen to start a war with Russia, ignoring the mistakes made by the archduke’s peers a century ago.