Page:The Bohemian Review, vol1, 1917.djvu/135

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

The Bohemian Review

Jaroslav F. Smetanka, Editor, 2324 S. Central Park Ave., Chicago.
Published by the Bohemian Review Co., 2627 S. Ridgeway Ave., Chicago, Ill.

Vol. I, No. 8. SEPTEMBER 1917

10 cents a Copy
$1.00 per Year

Principle of Nationality.

The middle part of the nineteenth century is known in history as the period during which the principle of nationality determined the course of events in Europe. The wars for the liberation of Italy, for the unification of Germany, for the redemption of Balkan Slavs from Turkish yoke, all had their reason in the overwhelming desire of peoples who felt a strong consciousness of unity to have that unity expressed and embodied in a national state.

After the Russian-Turkish war of 1877–78 it appeared, as if the era of nationalism had been closed. The problem of the Near East assumed a subordinate place to the problem of the Far East. In the eighties came the partition of Africa. Diplomacy revolved around the rivalry of Great Britain with Russia in Asia and with France in Egypt, while Germany was busy picking up colonies and hinterlands and islands all over the world. World interests took place of European interests and questions of trade and tariffs far overshadowed in importance the rumblings of discontent that made themselves heard occasionally from central and southeastern Europe.

A real awakening came in 1908 with the annexation by Austria of Bosnia-Herzegovina. This rough-shod violation of the Treaty of Berlin, the impotent wrath of Serbia at seeing the Serbs of the two provinces seemingly lost forever to the Serbian national state, the threatening attitude of Russia and the great danger of general war which was averted only by submission to Austria’s aggression, made the statesmen of Europe realize that nationality was far from being a dead issue, that the unification of Germany and Italy was only a stage, and not the last step, in that long process which has been going on in Europe for a thousand years since the disintegration of Charlemagne’s empire, namely the creation of states possessing national and political unity.

At the beginning of the twentieth century most of the states of Europe were national states. France, England, Germany, Italy, Spain, even Russia are political formations in which for the great majority of the population the terms nation and state are synonymous. This solidarity, it is true, is not always perfect. Thus England has its alien element in the Irish for whom patriotism means something far different from devotion to the United Kingdom. In Germany the people of the lost provinces and the Poles in the East look upon the state within which they are held by force as an enemy, while Russia has of all the national states the largest admixture of foreign elements. There are two states, however, whose very existence is a denial of the principle of nationality—Turkey and Austria-Hungary.

The causes which gave rise to these two anomalous states are very dissimilar, and yet the growth of Austria and of Turkey is closely connected. The Turkish state is the outgrowth of the militarism of the Asiatic tribe; the Austrian state is the result of the ambitious policy of a single dynasty, carried out principally through lucky marriages. “Bella gerant alii, tu, Felix Austria, nube—let others carry on wars, thou, oh lucky Austria, stick to marrying.” But marriages alone would not have created the great Danube Empire. When the Hapsburg archduke Ferdinand was elected king of Bohemia and Hungary in 1526, the reason was not so much that he was brother-in-law to King Ludvig who lost his life in the disastrous battle of Mohacs, but because both Bohemia and Hungary, threatened by the victorious Turks, felt the imperious need of combining their strength with that of the Hapsburg hereditary domains, equally menaced by the infidel.

Neither Turkey nor Austria managed to transform their subjects of many races into a homogeneous state, and by this failure