The Resurrection of the Austro-Hungarian Empire

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CDN.history.com

 

“A few weeks from now, it will likely be possible to drive all the way from the Baltic Sea to the Aegean without ever leaving what we might call the “populist belt””

Yascha Mounk (The Czech Trump)

 

“Thus it’s not too hard to look at the rising spiral of stresses in the European Union just now and foresee the eventual descent of the continent into a mix of domestic insurgency and authoritarian nationalism, with the oncoming tide of mass migration from Africa and the Middle East adding further pressure to an already explosive mix.” 

John Michael Greer (An Affirming Flame)

 

The Austrian elections held on Sunday have seen a surge in support for the anti-immigrant and Eurosceptic forces within the Austrian political establishment. The “centre-right” People’s Party (“OVP”), led by the youthful Sebastian Kurz, won 31% of the national vote, according to the exit polls. Kurz campaigned on a platform of hard-line policies on borders, immigration and regaining sovereignty from the European Union (“EU”) which appealed to the Austrian electorate.

The “far-right” Freedom Party (“FPO”), which has its roots in the post-war National Socialist movement, appears to be in second place, with 26% of the national vote. The FPO is even more hard-line then the OVP on the question of the refugee crisis and has warned of the “Islamification” of Austria.

The stunning victory for the political Right in Austria comes after the surge in support for the Alternative for Germany party in the German elections, which I discussed recently. These election results will have spooked European leaders who had hoped that the populist wave had peaked earlier in the year, when Marine Le Pen of the National Front failed to break through in the French presidential elections.

Before I explore this issue further, I would like to briefly discuss the terminology used by the mainstream media when discussing Continental politics. Whilst the policies of the OVP and the FPO overlap considerably, to the point of convergence, the media refer to the OVP as conservative or “centre-right” whilst the FPO are usually referred to as “far-right”.

Whilst it is true that the OVP roots are in the far right, in terms of policies, it should be classified as a conservative/nationalist party, not as a neo-Nazi/ extremist party. The OVP do not advocate race laws, the imposition of a dictatorship or the destruction of democracy which would be expected of a genuinely neo-Nazi party. For these reason, I will refer to the FPO as a nationalist right or hard-right party and the OVP as centre-right going forward.

The crushing victory of the Right in Austria has ramifications beyond Vienna in a post-Brexit Europe. A Kurz-led Austrian government will likely align itself with the so-called Visegrad countries of central and eastern Europe, who are sceptical of further EU integration, opposed to settling refugees and hostile to the multi-cultural ideology prevalent among the liberal elites of western Europe.

As the Telegraph notes, “the governments of Viktor Orban in Hungary, Beata Szydlo in Poland and Robert Fico in Slovakia all share a deep opposition to letting in more migrants and to what they see as Brussels “meddling” in their domestic affairs.” The likely victory of a populist, Eurosceptic and anti-refugee real estate billionaire Andrej Babiš in the looming Czech elections is further evidence of the nationalist winds transforming the political map of Europe.

It therefore looks increasingly likely that under the leadership of Austria, a new regional bloc is emerging within the heart of Europe, capable of challenging the dominance of the Franco-German axis. Looking at the modern map, the new bloc looks remarkably similar to the late Austro-Hungarian Empire that spanned Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland in the early 20th century.

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https://qph.ec.quoracdn.net

 

With hindsight I over-estimated the electoral appeal of the populist and radical right parties at the beginning of the year. However, the bigger picture is the shift in continental politics towards the populist end of the spectrum on internal borders, shutting down the refugee flows and enforcing the integration of Muslim communities, something I analysed earlier this year.

The writer John Michael Greer, who has been remarkably prescient in his political forecasts over the years, has warned that nationalist parties could sweep to power across Western Europe in the event of another major refugee crisis or economic depression. That nationalist tsunami has reached Vienna and the chancelleries of Europe will be wondering if Italy is next, with elections next year amid a surge in support for populist and Eurosceptic parties like the Five Star Movement.

Beyond the frontiers of the EU, trouble is brewing in the frontier zones of North Africa, the Middle East and the Ukraine. The emerging warlords in the growing arc of failed states, whether they are Libyian militia, jihadi extremists or Ukrainian nationalist gunmen are growing stronger every year.

This growing wave of chaos surrounding a troubled European core is driven by structural factors, including worsening climate change, water, energy and food scarcity and the explosion of population. Should the crisis around the River Nile worsen, to give just one example, a further wave of refugees from predominately Muslim cultures will try and enter Europe. This could trigger unrest, a further surge in support for nationalist politicians and in the worst case scenario a slide into authoritarianism.

On a personal level, when visiting Verona this summer, I saw numerous illegal African immigrants around the train station, a key smuggling hub within Italy. These overwhelmingly young men are physically fit, resourceful and utterly ruthless in their determination to fulfill their dream of prosperity within the crumbling core of our industrial civilization.

They are the advance guard of a far greater mass of external proletarians ready to make the same journey from across the failing North Africa and Middle East arc of crisis.

I will be covering this and other issues in future posts soon so I encourage existing and new readers to sign up and follow my blog at the bottom of the page.

The Resurrection of the Austro-Hungarian Empire

Make Germany Great Again

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http://media2.intoday.in

 

“If the French are rightly proud of their emperor and the Britons of Nelson and Churchill, we have the right to be proud of the achievements of the German soldiers in two world wars.”

Alexander Gauland – Alternative for Germany leader

“At some point between now and 2030 or so we can expect another round of serious crisis, comparable to the mess that overwhelmed Europe and its empires between 1914 and 1954 — you know, two world wars, the Great Depression, the end of European global domination.”

John Michael Greer

 

The Financial Times columnist Gideon Rachman commented at the beginning of the year that it was unlikely that any German party would ever be successful with a slogan “Make Germany Great Again”. The stunning electoral success of the hard right Alternative for Germany party in the federal elections has shattered that assumption among the European chattering classes.

The nationalist right-wing Alternative for Germany (“AfD”) party surged to 12.6% of the vote and will send almost 100 MPs to the German Bundestag on the back of widespread anger about Angela Merkel’s decision to open the borders to over a million predominately Muslim refugees in 2015/2016.

In contrast, the traditional establishment parties gained the smallest share of the vote since the war. Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic led coalition gaining only 33% of the vote and the Social Democrats did even worse, only 20%, one of their worst ever performances in their history.

The same liberal commentariat who were crowing only a few months ago that the populist threat had peaked on the Continent after the crushing victory of Emmanuel Macron in the French elections have gone very quiet now. Populism has arrived in the most powerful country in the EU with a dark history of genocide, totalitarianism and imperialism.

Although the German economy has grown a strong argument can be made that the German economic model is rotting from within. Ambrose Evans Pritchard, writing in the Telegraph, notes that net public investment has been negative for most of the last fifteen years and economic growth and productivity has been dismal since 2000. For ordinary German workers, real incomes have stagnated and the wealth gap is rising between the rich and poor.

One of the drivers for the surge of support for the AfD, apart from the migration crisis, was the growing number of economic “losers” within Germany. Many of these relatively poor workers live in the former East Germany which suffered massive economic and social changes after reunification. It is no coincidence that the AfD performed particularly well in the industrial Rust Belt areas like the Ruhr and eastern Germany.

Of course, the eruption of the nationalist right should be placed in perspective. The majority of the German electorate voted for other parties and polls indicate that many of those voting for the AfD saw it as a means to register their hostility towards the Merkel’s refugee policies. These voters are certainly not neo-Nazi’s nor do they approve of those elements within the AfD which flirt with the far-right.

The election of the dynamic President Macron appeared to herald a promising new dawn in the eurozone. The eurozone is a botched half-job which has muddled through, lurching from one crisis to another. The German elections were supposed to be the moment that the Franco-German motor would rev up and make real progress in the creation of euro-wide fiscal and political union. The German elections has had the opposite effect and gravely weakened those hopes.

The political reality in Berlin is that the new coalition government will be dominated by Eurosceptic conservative voices from within the CSU and the Free Democrats who are bitterly opposed to President Macron’s ambitious reform agenda. A eurozone which continues muddling along raises the growing risk, as Macron has predicted, of imploding within the next 10 years or so.

Historians will likely look back at the Merkel years as a 21st century version of the long Edwardian summer before the horrors of the Great War. Alistair Macleod has predicted that by early 2019 at the latest, the eurozone will be plunged into another major economic crisis, triggered by rising interest rates and a collapse in government bond prices, resulting in the bankruptcy of eurozone banks. There is a growing consensus among economists that the current bull market is in its maturing phrase and is unlikely to last much longer.

Last year, in my post “winter is coming”, I attempted to forecast our likely future within the context of the limits to growth models which have proved eerily accurate since the 1970’s. To summarise, the peaking of global fossil fuels, accelerating climate change and an insolvent global economic system based on the false god of perpetual growth is leading us to another major crisis, potentially within the next few years.

Looking ahead, one can start to sense a foreboding future for Germany as the next decade arrives. Another economic crisis, potentially triggered by a deeper energy and food crisis, at the end of this decade, will plunge the eurozone into another recession. Rising unemployment, increased poverty and a loss of hope among broad layers of the population could lead to even bigger electoral successes for populists of both the Left and Right across the EU. Should Italy or one of the other eurozone countries exit the eurozone, under Target1, Germany could face crippling economic losses.

A toxic cocktail of rising Islamist terrorism and challenges in integrating the refugees, economic crisis in the eurozone and the proletarianization of a contracting German middle class could drive up to half the electorate into the hands of extremist parties on both the Left and Right. A revival of nationalist currents across the political scene could lead, by the end of the 2020’s, of a nationalist-conservative government in power. Should the worst case scenario happen and the eurozone/EU disintegrate, a German-Russian axis could reemerge as the dominant geopolitical force within the European continent.

To summarise, the broader global headwinds are wreaking the stable liberal post-Cold War era of international relations. The election of President Trump in November 2016 heralded, as I predicted months earlier, the beginning of a new era in world history, of Scarcity Industrialism. This era, described in detail by the German military in a report on peak oil, will lead to a breakdown in market based economies, the end of globalisation and the return of power politics in the world arena.

If, dear reader, that doesn’t sound promising terrain for a nationalist party attracting significant support already, then you haven’t read enough history.

For better or for worse, Germany is becoming a “normal” Western country and nobody knows for certain how European politics will be impacted in the years to come by this transformation.

One thing is for certain, it will not be boring…

 

Make Germany Great Again