Monday, September 26, 2016

Habsburg Lessons for an Embattled EU Source: Getty CAROLINE DE GRUYTER

In Radetzky March, Joseph Roth’s classic saga of Habsburg decline, the cynical Count Chojnicki discusses politics with an imperial officer in a military outpost. They have a lot to talk about, because the Habsburg Empire is in political turmoil. Hungary is blocking funds for the Habsburg army, preventing it from responding to a furious arms race between other European powers. The Slavs are preparing an uprising against Vienna, the empire’s capital. Czech and German speakers in Bohemia are having a bitter fight about language laws. Russia, meanwhile, is taking advantage of the divisions in the empire by playing one nation off against another.
“The empire is doomed,” Chojnicki says. “The instant the Kaiser shuts his eyes, we’ll crumble into a hundred pieces. . . . All the nations will set up their own filthy little states.”

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