Friday, 11 November 2011

Duke Franz of Bavaria...German, Catholic, Anti-Nazi and true heir to the British throne

A Top bloke...Franz Bonaventura Adalbert Maria Herzog von Bayern was born 14 July 1933. Known as His Royal Highness The Duke of Bavaria he is the head of the Wittelsbach family, the former ruling family of the Kingdom of Bavaria. His great-grandfather Ludwig III was the last King of Bavaria before being deposed in 1918.

Franz is also the current senior co-heir-general of King Charles I of England and Scotland, and thus is considered by Jacobites to be the legitimate heir of the House of Stuart as king of England, France, Scotland, and Ireland.

His family, the Wittelsbachs were opposed to the Nazi regime in Germany, the entire family including Franz, then aged 11, were arrested. They were sent to a series of Nazi concentration camps including Oranienburg and Dachau. At the end of April 1945 they were liberated by the United States Third Army. After the war Franz received his high-school education at the Benedictine Abbey of Ettal.

Franz is the current Grand Master of the Royal Order of Saint George for the Defense of the Immaculate Conception. He is also Grand Master of the Order of Saint Hubert and the Order of Saint Theresa. All sounds good to me! Congratulations Franz, you've got the job of king! When can ye start?

That awkward moment when you realize that Greenock probably supported the Southern Confederates

I’m currently reading an excellent book called Clyde built: The Blockade Runners, Cruisers and Armoured Rams of the American Civil War by Eric J Graham. It’s a great book which describes how during the American civil war shipyards on the River Clyde were working around the clock, employing 25,000 men in the construction of Blockade Runners for the Southern Confederates. Around 3,000 Scots worked onboard the vessels, breaking Britain's law against subjects becoming involved in foreign wars, but for the captains it was a business too lucrative to ignore. Many were earning $3,000 per run, and those who made it through the blockade to Charleston with their holds laden with food and arms, were able to fill them up with bales of cotton which they then sold in Scotland for 30 times the purchase price. The Confederates even sent agents to Greenock to purchase warships and weapons.

It also goes onto say that the Paisley workers were pretty much for the North, but all the shipyard and dock workers on the Clyde were all for the South – there was a huge divide. You could say that Glasgow was more pro-South and Edinburgh was pro-North. It thought that, because Scotland is a nation with a cultural heritage which exists uneasily within a larger British cultural identity (plus many Scots were seeking independence) then it's not surprising that the Scots had a respect for the Confederacy.

But it’s not just 19th Century Greenock and Port Glasgow Shipyard workers on the Clyde who admired the Confederates. Even today, many modern neo-Confederates in Southern States of the US admire the cause of modern Scottish nationalism, seeing the cause of the South’s independence as similar to the Scotland’s Cause. They identify Scottish secession from the British Union with Confederate secession and their own current hopes for secession. This concept of brotherhood between Scots and Confederates is compounded by the theory that a great many people in the South and especially the descendants of the Confederates are in fact the descendants of Scottish Highlanders displaced by the Highland clearances, Scottish Covenanters and Lowland Scottish Planters in Ulster (Williamites). The theory claims that Confederates are of the same Ulster Scots Presbyterian stock. That said, there are more than a few holes in the theory that the Confederates cause and ALL the folks in the South are closely linked to Scotland …

For example, those seeking to join the cause of Scottish Independence to the Confederate cause seem to have forgotten about all the Scots who fought on the Union side and the Scottish Highlanders who settled in the Appalachian mountains in the American South. These Appalachian Scots in the South during the Civil War are known to have been strongly against the Southern Confederate secession and the lowland slave-owning interests. In fact, about half as many Southerners fought against the Confederacy as those who fought for the Confederacy. Many of the Southern unionists who came from the Appalachian mountains were poor farmers with no slaves and most of these people would have been of Scottish origin. It would have been unacceptable for these independent freedom loving Scots to accept that the new lands opening up in the west should be denied to independent poor farmers but instead be bought up by rich slave owners who would buy up the best land and work it with slaves, forcing the white farmers onto marginal lands

Also, we cannot ignore the fact that for generations, many folks in the South though of themselves as being descended from southern English Cavaliers not Scots. The idea of the South as a place of so-called “Anglo-Saxon purity” had been strongly believed in for a long time and originally, the (English) Episcopalian Church in Southern States was very big. All this suggests an early English presence (distinct from later Irish Catholicism or Scottish Presbyterianism) did exist in the South, throw into that mix Germans, French and Spanish and the genetic make up of the South is a little more complex and mixed than we might think. It’s also true to say that inn some rural pockets of America's Deep South; they still speak a dialect of Elizabethan English that lingers on from the first 17th-century colonists. Yet despite this evidence, we are now suddenly expected to forget all that and instead think of the Confederates and their descendants as Irish and Scottish Gaels in the Rob Roy mould.

The other problem with this kind of modern link with the Confederate Cause is that many of the Loyalist-Protestant Scots in Scotland today (and also modern Loyalist Ulster-Scots in N. Ireland) are not interested in Scottish or Irish Independence themselves. They don’t want to “secede” from the British Union so it’s absurd to think that they’d support freedom for those breaking away from the American Union while still supporting the British Union at the same time? It’s doubly absurd if we consider the fact that the Protestant Ulster-Scots in America fought bitterly against Britain in the American Revolutionary War of Independence. In reality, Southern rebels and republicans have very little in common with many of their Scottish and Irish Presbyterian cousins who are both Unionists and Monarchists despite the fact that they MIGHT share SOME the same bloodlines and cultural heritage.

So perhaps those modern Confederate sympathizers in the South who are still looking to break away from the United States would do better to look at Civic Scottish Nationalism. Perhaps they should think more about the SNP’s own brand of civic nationalism, the SNP are the most leftwing mainstream party in Britain. Most of all, they should embrace Scotland’s radical streak, humour, kinship, egalitarianism, our improving racial equality and improving integration of people from other nations rather than our old prejudices and bigotries which still persist. However, it should be noted that not all Confederates or their admirers today are racists or pro-slavery. Far from it, the history of this period is very complex much like the people involved. It’s a fact that Confederate leader Stonewall Jackson was against slavery, even General Lee freed slaves and helped repatriate them to Liberia. While on the Union side Grants family owned slaves and Lincoln and Sherman were quite racist. The fact is most Southerners fought because they were attacked and for state sovereignty. For them the war was about liberty, not slavery. Even the reigning Pope during the war, Blessed Pius IX had some sympathy with the Confederates since essentially the South stood for agrarianism over industrialism, (the Ancien Régime over new ideologies) more like a traditional European culture over a Brave New World. I think this also explains the appeal to Scots and suggests that even within a traditional hierarchical society we can potentially still have more personal and social freedom than in a modern liberal democracy? But that is a discussion for another day.

***Note on Confederate Tartan above***
Following the War, the South was under military occupation until 1877, a period referred to as Reconstruction. During this time, the Southern people were stipped of their Constitutional rights, including the right to vote and right to free speech. The display of Confederate symbols, and the wearing of Confederate uniforms, were banned during this occupation. In and identical way after the failure of the last Jacobite rising in 1746, the kilt and tartan were banned in an attempt to stamp out the culture in Scotland.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Kosovo the Flodden of the Balkans and Scotland’s Vidovdan

The legends represent the imagination of the country; they are the kind of history which a nation desires to possess. They betray the ambitions and ideals of the people, and in this respect, have a value far beyond the tale of actual events and duly recorded deeds which are no more history than a skeleton is a man."
Standish O'Grady

Serbia v Scotland tonight, offers a paper thin excuse to look at the cultural similarities between our two nations. One could be forgiven for being understandably jittery about discussing such a topic considering Serbia’s lurch towards ultra-nationalism and recent shameful history. However, a positive predisposition and interest toward the culture, history, and people of Serbia does not necessarily have to be an endorsement of Serbian ultra-nationalism or far right politics.
So let me first say that while I detest racism and petty nationalism and hold no strong feelings of patriotism, I am (paradoxically) at heart, both a Romantic Nationalist and also a Cultural Nationalist. That is to say, I believe that Scottish communities and wider Scottish society should concern itself with its ethnic identity and our rich cultural heritage rather than just political matters. Or in other words, I feel that our music, dialects and folklore, mythology and the spiritual value of local customs and traditions are just as important as our political autonomy. Without these things, without tradition, we are nothing and have nothing apart from a grey mono-culture based on nothing else but capitalist materialism and consumerism.

 Therefore, I was a little disappointed to read that any so-called Braveheart style sentiment has been banned from the 'Yes' campaign. While I understand this move, I actually think it’s a bit rash to ban all references to romantic historicisms not matter how flimsy or cheesy. A celebration of our history need not be small minded, xenophobic or jingoistic. Similarly, I would prefer to hear more Scottish Nationalists admit that we might not be financially or economically better off after independence, but more importantly, we are making a claim our ancient land's most sacred rights. I don’t think this is anything to be ashamed of? This is what is known as the so-called “Scottish cringe”, we are supposed to feel embarrassed about our entire mythology and ancient history. Yet the Czechs are not ashamed of Smenta’s national epic Vltava. Finnish people are not ashamed of Sibelius or the Kalevala and Germans are not embarrassed by the work of the Brothers Grimm. With regards to the Brothers Grimm and Serbia itself, Jacob Grimm once said…”The ballads of Serbia occupy a high position, perhaps the highest position, in the ballad literature of Europe. They would, if well known, astonish Europe... In them breathes a clear and inborn poetry such as can scarcely be found among any other modern people.”

So, just as every nation has its mythical Golden Age so does it also have its mythical decline (ideally suited to sad laments) Scotland’s Golden Age is thought to have taken place at the time of Alexander III and it’s great disaster is considered to be the Battle of Flodden Field. The most famous lament with regards to Flodden is the song known as “Flowers of the forest”. This is a lament to honour the death of King James IV of Scotland and also many of his nobles, and over 10,000 men who died at Flodden in Northern England in 1513. This event truly was a disaster for Scotland. But I actually think the most sentimental and Tolkienesque lament which makes reference to a Scottish defeat can be found in a verse from the much maligned Flower of Scotland (despite the fact that this song is about a Scottish victory)…

The hills are bare now
And autumn leaves lie thick and still
O'er land that is lost now

I really do like these overly sentimental lines. They could have been taken directly from The Lord of the Rings. They could almost be a reference to the ruins of Osgiliath and the fallen and overgrown statues around Amon Hen. Similarly, the Serbs also lost an entire class of nobility and a Prince against the Turks at The Battle of Kosovo in 1389, just as the Scots did at Flodden. In his book “The War and Democracy” R.W. Seton-Watson describes Kosovo as the Flodden of the Balkans and if we look at the similarities then we have to agree that “The Flodden of the Balkans” is an accurate description for Kosovo. Especially since Prince Lazar of Serbia died at the battle alongside most of the Serbian nobility just like King James and the Scottish Nobles at Flodden.
Yet, in Scotland notions such as this are often dismissed and patronized as backwards, kitsch or just another excuse for corny tartanry. As a nation we are almost embarrassed by such potent imagery and emotion simply because it’s part mythical. Not so in Serbia where the events surrounding Tsar Lazar and the battle of Kosovo, are highly regarded in the stories, songs, folklore and culture of the Serbs; Lazar is venerated as a martyr and saint as Saint Lazar and he is also a hero in Serb poetry. Perhaps it’s time we developed the confidence to create our own memorial day to Scotland’s great Kings, Saints and Christian Warriors just as the Serbs celebrate Vidovdan. The Feast of Vidovdan is the day when Serbs honour Saint Prince Lazar and the Serbian holy martyrs who gave their lives to defend their faith at Kosovo against the Ottoman Turks. This feast day is sacred to them and through the centuries, Serbian historical events such as the Battle of Kosovo became sources for spiritual strength just as Flodden should be for Scots.

On a final note, would it be politically incorrect to add that if the rallying cry of the Serbs is “Kosovo je Srbija” (Kosovo is Serbia) then Shetland is Scotland! And so is Berwick J  Just kidding!  

Monday, 7 November 2011

Quisling Churches...The Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association and the (so-called) Old Catholic Church

We all know "Quisling" to be a term used to refer to puppet governments and collaborators. We might currently describe the dreadful Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association as a Quisling Church. This is a fake pseudo-church created by the Communist Chinese Government to undermine the Roman Catholic Church in China. They ordain their own Bishops and persecute the true Church in the same way the Chinese Government cynically creates and back Chinese rivals to the Dalai Lama in Tibet.
However, we may not ever think to describe any of the many western Liberal Churches like the "Old Catholic Church" as Quisling Churches. Today the Old Catholics are the fun, cuddly liberal option standing against the evil dogmatic Vatican. Yet despite the name, the Old Catholic Church was forged within a climate of growing nationalism and hostility to the Pope in the Netherlands and in Germany.

For example, according to wikipedia..."The Old Catholic Church in Germany received some support from the new German Empire of Otto von Bismarck, whose policy was increasingly hostile towards the Catholic Church in the 1870s and 1880s. In Austrian territories, pan-Germanic nationalist groups, like those of Georg Ritter von Schönerer, promoted the conversion to Old Catholicism or Lutheranism of those Catholics loyal to the Holy See". Hardly liberalism?

Some might say that this is ancient history and nearly all Churches have had moments of shame caused by getting too involved with the state at various points in history. This is true but what is not ancient history is the fact that Churches like the Old Catholic Church now share the same liberal, modernist, relativistic agenda as the nation states of the west. Therefore, both groups seek to impose a form of liberalism upon the other authentic faith communities who still hold to traditional christian values.

In this sense, they are as every bit as statist and anti-Pope as the all the other State-sponsored Lutherans and Anglicans(with whom the Old Catholics are in communion with) Yet, depsite their petty nationalism, don't expect to hear any voice from within these Churches speaking out against the growing Turkish and Chinese influence in Europe.

Regional Dialects, Social Justice, Rhenish Political Catholicism & Beer…these are a few of my favourite things

If there are four things in this world which interest me then it’s…

•Regional dialects and words from Scots to Afrikaans, from Low Saxon to Friesian
•The history of Rhenish Catholics and political Catholicism
•Outspoken Anti-fascism and radical social justice in the Catholic Church
•And Speciality Beers!

So writing a post about all four is indeed something special. Let’s start with word Kölsch, I had always understood Kölsch to be a popular beer brewed only in Cologne. (I assume that this was the beer which Karl Marx is speaking about when he said that the revolution would never work in Cologne, because the bosses went to the same pubs as their workers) I have only ever tried this beer once and if I’m being honest I found it a little too hoppy compared to premium pilsners like Krombacher or Veltins. However, I later learned that Kölsch was also the name given to a group related dialects. Kölsch is spoken in, and around Cologne . Interestingly, Kölsch was the dialect used by the famous Anti-Nazi Archbishop of Cologne Josef Frings. Frings was a vocal and strong opponent of the Nazis and Hitler. He was also a political Catholic who joined the CDU. However, what I find most fascinating are Frings thoughts on Social Justice, he once said that…

“We live in times where the single individual, in his need, ought to be allowed to take what he needs to preserve his life and health, if he cannot obtain it through other means, work or bidding.”

This was a reference to poor Germans looting of coal trains during especially bad winters: Amazingly, Frings also inspired a word in the Kolsch dialect which expressed this idea that it is sometimes morally acceptable to steal as a last resort if you are really desperate. Naturally then, the word which evolved from Frings concept was “Fringsen”. So in the Kolsch dialect "Fringsen" means taking food and fuel for the winter among people in Cologne.

I’m not sure how many people would still agree with “Fringsen" today? I certainly do, but it’s worth noting that Frings later added that we must always quickly try and return any unlawful gains, or repay the original owner as soon as possible. Regardless, Archbishop Frings was clearly a great man not matter what we might think about Fringsen. If only we had such bold men of clear vision and direct politics around today.
For example, compare Archbishop Frings to the current Archbishop of Canterbury and the recent debacle around St Paul ’s Cathedral. This fiasco shows how nervous and disjointed Chrstians have become around politcs. Last week seen constant procrastinating over whether or not the Church should speak out on inequality and Bankers bonuses or if the Church should instead just stay out of politics for fear of being branded a bunch of undemocractic Theocracts. In reality, the Church's teaching (for all Churches) is quite clear on the relationship between worldly politics and the role of the Church. The two cannot be split up despite what we are told. Nor should an involvement in politics ever compromise the Church's main concern for the good of souls.

Today, too many Catholics want the Church to be either Socialist or Captialist. Some others dream of a Chesterton based Distributist Utopia but until that day comes it would be helpful to revisit the core values of early European Christian Democracy and the social market/common good ideas of great Germans like Konrad Adenauer and of course Josef Frings.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Konrad Adenauer

These words could have been written yesterday about The Tories current attitude to Europe...

"I wish that an English statesman might once have spoken of us as Western Europeans."
Konrad Adenauer 1945