Tag Archives: Monarchy

Brahms & Democracy


In November of 1876, one hundred and forty years ago, Johannes Brahms’ monumental First Symphony was first heard, performed in Karlsruhe, Germany.  The much anticipated work – which took Brahms over 20 years to complete – has become part of the canon of Western music.  Ironically, the premiere of The Ring by Brahms’ supposed rival and fellow musical genius, Richard Wagner, was performed for the first time in the same year.

While one critic initially called Brahms’ First Symphony “Beethoven’s Tenth,” it has surpassed that unjust description and now stands on its own merit as a distinct masterpiece.  The First Symphony, the three that followed, and the rest of Brahms’ works makes him more than Beethoven’s successor, a unique musical figure in his own right.

In one of his best newspaper articles, H.L. Mencken wrote the following about a Brahms’ performance:

My excuse for writing of the above gentleman is simply

that I can think of nothing else.  A week or so ago, . . . I

heard his sextet for strings, opus 18, and ever since then it

has been sliding and pirouetting through my head.  I have

gone to bed with it and I have got up with it.  Not, of course,

with the whole sextet, nor even with any principal tune of it,

but with the modest and fragile little episode at the end of

the first section of the first movement – a lowly thing of eight

measures, thrown off like a perfume, so to speak, from the

second subject.*

The Sage of Baltimore continued on what made Brahms so special:

In music, as in all the other arts, the dignity of the work is simply

a reflection of the dignity of the man.  The notion that shallow

and trivial men can write great masterpieces is one of the follies

that flow out of the common human taste for scandalous

anecdote. . . .  More than any other art, perhaps, music demands

brains.  It is full of technical complexities.  It calls for a capacity to

do a dozen things at once.  But most of all it is revelatory of what

is called character.  When a trashy man writes it, it is trashy music.


Here is where the immense superiority of such a man as

Brahms becomes manifest.  There is less trashiness in his music

than there is in the music of any other man ever heard of, with

the sole exception, perhaps of Johann Sebastian Bach. . . .

Hearing Brahms, one never gets any sense of being entertained

by a clever mountebank.  One is facing a superior man, and the

fact is evident from the first note.

While Brahms was born in Hamburg, he eventually found his way to the musical capital of the world, Vienna, which, at the time, was part of the Austro- Hungarian Empire.  Vienna was more than the musical center of Europe, but a cultural one as well which was rivaled by few in Brahms’ time.

Although mostly forgotten under an avalanche of pro-democracy historiography, the Vienna where Brahms spent most of his adult life was “ruled” by a monarch.  The rich cultural life which flourished in that political atmosphere was admitted even by those who were, no doubt, hostile and envious of it as the philosopher and economist, Hans-Hermann Hoppe, describes in his seminal book, Democracy: The God That Failed:

Even democratic intellectuals and artists from any field of

intellectual and cultural endeavor could not ignore the

enormous level of productivity of Austro-Hungarian and in

particular Viennese culture.  Indeed, the list of great names

associated with late nineteenth and early twentieth century

Vienna is seemingly endless.**

As Professor Hoppe insightfully shows, the incredible accomplishments of the likes of Brahms came in the pre-democratic era which tragically ended with WWI.

. . . rarely has this enormous intellectual and cultural

productivity been brought in a systematic connection with

the pre-democratic tradition of the Habsburg monarchy.

Instead, if it has not been considered a mere coincidence, the

productivity of Austrian-Viennese culture has been presented

‘politically correctly’ as proof of the positive synergistic effects

of a multiethnic society and of multiculturalism.

Whether the accomplishments were in the arts, music, scientific breakthrough, invention, or entrepreneurial wealth creation, all were the result of individual initiative, skill, tenacity, foresight and intelligence within a society that recognized, praised, and promoted such achievements.  There was no affirmative action or policies that promoted artists based on their skin color or gender.  When Brahms came to Vienna, he did not receive an Austro-Hungarian version of a National Endowment of Arts subsidy!

Just as important, and what is ignored by the Left and many race-denying realists on the respectable Right, is that all of these civilization-enhancing accomplishments in Vienna were made, for the most part, by white men.  No other culture or people have ever produced music comparable to Brahms and his fellow Western musical masters.

The democratic age which followed has been praised by scholars as an advancement of the human condition on all fronts.  In his book and in other places, however, Professor Hoppe has shown that just the opposite has occurred under democratic conditions with a trend toward de-civilization.  Taking the US as an example, he writes:

. . . less than a century of full-blown democracy has resulted in

steadily increasing moral degeneration, family and social

disintegration, and cultural decay in the form of continually rising

rates of divorce, illegitimacy, abortion, and crime.  As a result

of an ever-expanding list of nondiscrimination –

‘affirmative action’ – laws and nondiscriminatory, multicultural ,

egalitarian immigration policies, every nook and cranny of American

society is affected by government management and forced integration;

accordingly, social strife and racial, ethnic, and moral –cultural

tension and hostility have increased dramatically.

As Professor Hoppe notes, the latest phase in the democratic era has been  immigration policies which have been deliberately planned to destroy the various Western cultures with Germany being the most devastated.  Yet, as Mencken wrote of him, Brahms was a product of Germanic blood not that of multiculturalism.  The German people who continue to support and allow those to wantonly destroy the culture that produced a Brahms should consult Mencken:

I give you his Deutsches Requiem as an example. . . .   The thing is

irresistibly moving.  It is moving because a man of the highest

intellectual dignity, a man of exalted feelings, a man of brains,

put into it his love and pride in his country.  That country is

lucky which produces such men.

While Brahms’ music will always be listened to and played for its brilliance, it should always be remembered in what culture his genius was allowed to flourish.  How fortunate for mankind that Brahms lived in the pre-democratic era and what a loss it would have been if the First Symphony would have never been composed.


*Marion Elizabeth Rodgers, ed. The Impossible H.L. Mencken: A Selection of His Best Newspaper Stories.  With a Foreword by Gore Vidal.  New York: Anchor Books, Doubleday, 1991, pp. 465-468.

**Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Democracy: The God That Failed: The Economics and Politics of Monarchy, Democracy and Natural Order.  New Brunswick (U.S.A.): Transaction Publishers, 2001, pp. xii-xiii.

Antonius Aquinas@AntoniusAquinas





Feudalism: Was it so Bad?

feudal system

One of the biggest misconceptions held among the independent and alternative media is that of feudalism and the political, economic and social arrangements which characterized that unfairly maligned epoch.

Derogatory language is often used to describe feudal times with commentators often suggesting that today’s political and financial elites seek to return mankind to such a supposedly depressed, stagnate and repressive condition.

Those who receive the most animus from alternative media pundits are the authority figures and institutions which reigned throughout the period – knights, dukes, kings, princes, popes, priests, bishops, churches, monasteries, and cathedrals.

Yet, was this the case; was feudalism which existed throughout much of the Middle Ages really that bad?

Politically, despite the distortions found in contemporary history books and political science texts, state power in feudal times can be categorized in one term – decentralized – which in reality meant a considerable amount of individual liberty and freedom for all, including serfs.

Naturally, feudal political conditions across Europe varied, however, a look through Carl Stephenson’s classic work, Mediaeval Feudalism, is instructive:

So far as eleventh-century France is concerned, we may disregard

the royal authority altogether.  The kingdom of the West Franks,

which had never been more than a political makeshift, now seemed

on the point of final dissolution. . . . The ancient rights of the crown

had long since passed to such men as were able, with or without

legal authorization to organize and defend a local territory. . . .

The greater of the king’s alleged vassals never came near his court,

whether to perform homage or to render any other service.  What

respect could they have for a theoretical lord who was defied with

impunity by petty officials on his own domain?1

Professor Stephenson continues with words that should warm the hearts of anti-statists everywhere:

France, obviously, had ceased to be a state in any proper sense

of the word.  Rather, it had been split into a number of states

whose rulers, no matter how they styled themselves, enjoyed

the substance of the regal power.2

In Germany, too, power was radically diffused as Professor Stephenson describes:

. . . in various other ways the rulers of Germany sought to

maintain the Carolingian tradition of a grandiose monarchy.

They even revived the imperial title and made brave efforts

to reign on both sides of the Alps.  But the task was an

impossible one.  The Holy Roman Empire became a mere

sham; and as the prolonged contest between the royal

and the princely authority ended in the complete victory of

the latter, Germany. . . was resolved into a group of feudal


Despite their aggrandizing efforts, the German kings could never succeed in establishing absolutist rule:

Vainly trying to be Roman emperors, the successors of

Otto I . . . became [as kings] purely elective, degenerated

into a sort of decoration to be borne first by one local prince

an then by another.4

Germany remained, for the longest time, an area of decentralized political authority as Professor Stephenson explains:

From the Rhineland to the Slavic frontier, armies were

made up of knights, society was dominated by a

chivalrous aristocracy, the countryside was dotted with

motte-and-bailey castles, and governments were

organized on the basis of feudal tenure.5

Political and economic theory have demonstrated that power which is diffused typically leads to low levels of taxation.  In the case of medieval feudalism, this certainly was the case:

. . .  if the lord needed military service or financial aid beyond

what was specifically owed by his vassals, his only recourse

was to ask them for a voluntary grant.  He had no right to tax

or assess them arbitrarily, for his authority in such matters was

determined by feudal contract.6

Likewise, law was not “made up” by legislative acts, but was that of custom and tradition based on the natural law which kings, lords, vassals, and commoners were all obliged to live by:

Nor does he [the king, or lord] have a discretionary power

of legislation.  Law was the unwritten custom of the country.

To change or even to define it was the function, not of the lord,

but of his court.  It was the vassals themselves who declared the

law under which they lived; and when one of them was accused

of a misdeed, he was entitled to the judgment of his peers, i.e.

his fellow vassals.7

Warfare, too, was limited in scope compared to the massive human slaughter and destruction of property which has taken place over the past two centuries:

    The general character of feudal warfare may be easily

deduced from what has already been said about

vassalage and chivalry. . . .  when two feudal armies

met, each knightly participant was apt to conduct

himself as he saw fit.  The final outcome would depend

on a series of duels in which the determining factor was

individual prowess.  But battles on a large scale were

rare in feudal Europe.  The characteristic warfare of the

age consisted rather of pillaging raids into the enemy’s

territory, of skirmishes between small bands of knights,

and of engagements incident to the siege of castles.

[Emphasis mine.]8

While there used to be a debate about the conditions of serfs compared to that of modern day wage earners, the argument is now falling apart with studies showing that real wages and corresponding standards of living have actually contracted over the past half century for most.  Where there can be no debate, however, is the moral condition of the people of the feudal past compared with contemporary times where “gay marriage” and other abominations have now been given legal status.  No right-minded person could argue that marriage, the family, and child rearing are in better shape today than they were in the supposed “Dark Ages.”

In nearly every aspect of societal appraisement, medieval feudalism was a far superior social order than anything which has come in its wake.  Those who denigrate it not only show their historical ignorance, but play into the hands of their elite oppressors who understand that a return to such a social order would be a much greater threat to their power than any presidential candidate or his “movement.”

1Carl Stephenson, Mediaeval Feudalism, Ithaca, NY.: Great Seal books, 1942; 1960, pp. 77-78.

2Ibid., p. 78.

3Ibid., 92-93.

4Ibid., 93.


6Ibid., p. 31.


8Ibid., pp. 66-68.

Antonius Aquinas@AntoniusAquinas