Metternich Versus Liberalism

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Klemens von Metternich, Austrian foreign minister. (1773-1859) I had a nightmare last night. In it, myself and Csar Alexander I, were confronted by a three-headed monster. I asked this detestable creature what it called itself. It said its name was "Ism." I asked what it wanted and it said: "Simple, I want to be free." "Free from what?" I inquired.

"I want to be free from you, of course," it said gesturing towards Alexander and myself.

"Oh I get it," I said realizing what Ism now stood for. "Can't you see what your ideals of liberalism, nationalism and romanticism are doing to upset the stability of all of Europe?" "Yes," he said. "And I like it what I see. But we really need more revolutions like the ones of 1830 in Paris, and Poland. Although they failed, I foresee many more successful ones like the one in Belgium," He continued, "Rhetoric, such as your call to resist change, are only galvanizing the rest of Europe and in due time your anachronistic ideals will become evident to all."

Ignorant fool," I snapped back at him. "Cant you see that the ancien regime is the pinnacle of European civilization and that it must be preserved at all costs?" "What's wrong with change? What's wrong with people wanting their voices to be heard? What's wrong with people wanting to be able to identify with their neighbors for the sake of unity and for the sake of a nation," it said with genuine interest in my response.

"Revolution and change are like diseases;" I said with conviction. "As they crop up all over Europe they must be crushed because if they are not they will metastasize and usurp the legitimate powers of the monarchies." I continued, "It's people like you who are destroying my own beloved Austrian Empire, with your foolish ideals of being defined by your own language or ethnicity. Damn Magyars, all they will accomplish is the carving up of the Hapsburg Empire into little weak states and putting an end to the monarchy as we know and love it! Is that what you want?" I demanded.

"Yes it is!" It replied with equal conviction. "The only reason you reactionary's oppose change so much is because you fear it. Your time will come. The revolutions of 1830 may have failed but don't you know that a revolution denied is merely a revolution delayed?" I feared the worst when it said that. I knew what was going on in 1848 Europe. In Germany, the liberals were calling for a constitution. The Prussians were on the brink of revolution as well. In Paris and in my own beloved Vienna, the "isms" were demanding change. People were becoming educated and threatened the monarchical systems of Europe. My Congress System, set up to protect and preserve the ancien regimes and suppress revolutions wherever they propped began to fail. The local independence movement in my own country, led by Louis Kossuth and his call for a constitution, have forced me to reconsider the plausibility of the Congress System.

"I can see the fear in you eyes," it said not knowing how accurate it truly was.

"The legitimate rights of the monarchy have to be upheld at all cost and change cannot be allowed. The rights of nations to self-determination and individual liberty are the diseases that are causing the instability," I said with little truth behind my words.

"We shall see." And with that I woke up in a cold sweat.

We are at war. The reactionaries versus the liberals and the revolutionaries. Do we preserve the rights of the monarchy, as I have called for since the Congress of Vienna in 1815, or do we fall to the ideals of the three-headed monster? We shall see, we shall see indeed my friends! Long live the monarchy!