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Race is, primarily, a preliminary stage in the long process of becoming a nation. Secondly, it represents a primitive human group. As such, it simply equates what nineteenth-century cultural anthropology describes as a racial group, i. A new definition of the Hungarian nation is thus proposed: one based on race. Similar to other racial thinkers, Beksics denies the importance of racial purity in the definition of superior races. The transition from natio Hungarica that referred mainly to the nobility and the honorationes, i. National Identity in Historical Perspective, Edinburgh, , pp. Magyarisation and assimilation fundamentally questioned the civic and equalitarian dimensions of Hungarian society.

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Beksics, La Question Roumaine, p. What, then, are the characteristic elements of race? Beksics does not insist on enumerating physical characteristics. Thus, Beksics identifies religion and the national idea i. The entire history is a long proof that races non-gifted with similar strengths succumb infallibly in the struggle for existence.

Conservation and assimilation are the only ways to defend the political and socials goals of the Hungarian ruling elite. Hungarian national superiority is thus a reflection of both political hegemony and cultural civilisational superiority. It is worth This is not to say that the importance of emphasising the existence of specific Magyar physical characteristics did not play an important role in articulating identity discourses. His argumentation proceeded swiftly from illustration to illustration. It also posed the interesting possibility that racial thinking was never an exclusively linguistic process and involved from its inception distinctive visual and imaginative features.

The sheer plenitude of racialised images communicates something profound about the forms of racial difference the political discourses describe. It should not be, however, understood, that I am using those attempts to produce coherent racial categories as representative combinations of certain racist beliefs with nationalism.

Not only for the armed conquest, but also to populate the country conquered. With her ally, the German race, she possesses on the other nationalities an immense culture superiority that would be sufficient to give her hegemony.

Early Habsburg Monarchy

As for her big natural development, it places her physically and anthropologically above other races. It is not anymore the question of the historical right: it is nature herself that gives the Magyar race her preponderance in the Kingdom of Saint- Stephan. In the racial struggle of the Eastern Europe and notably in Hungary, the Magyar race would succumb infallibly if she did not possess the essential primordial strengths. Neither the power of the State, nor the tyranny of race could save it. On the contrary, they would rather contribute to make her situation worse.

But, in spite of numerous crossings [miscegenation], the Magyar race has kept the providential grants that assure her the superiority on the competing races. However, it is not difficult to detect the influences of Ludwig Gumplowicz and Houston Stewart Chamberlain, especially. Although his narrative is cursively racial and betrays a serious appro- priation of racial and Social Darwinist tropes, his sources were significantly internal.

National superiority need not be forcefully demonstrated. Beksics states it convincingly: the beneficial forces of Hungarian civilisation should fulfil the task of convincing Romanians to aban- don their reservations and opposition. What conclusions can be inferred from the above examples? I would suggest that, in many re- spects, Beksics reflected mainstream political opinions. As such, his racial nationalism is probably the most sophisticated version of a century-old reflection on the nature, role and future of the Hungarian nation in the Carpathian basin.

But the radical schism that happened in between Hungarians and Romanians has been obscured by the manner in which it has been treated in the majority of the exegeses—a cursory description of the main events accompanied occasionally by citation from particular political figures. If the concern is with how ideas are interlinked and with how they function in discursive practices then it is important to be aware of the interaction of racial thinking and Social Darwinism with nationalist thinking. A further question persists, nevertheless. Nationalists were acutely alert not only to new developments in racial thinking, but also played a vital role in conveying such ideas to a broader educated audience.

Not surprisingly then that in the last volume of the history of modern Hungary, published in , Beksics was chosen to write the last part of the book, the one dealing with contemporary history. By exposing his racial arguments in what was, after all, the official version of Hungarian history, Beksics penetrated the public consciousness more deeply than he could have aimed to with any of his books. It was, as Beksics argued, a way of communicating a particular set of national values. Contemporaries, Hungarians and Romanians alike, learned to decode the message Beksics was constantly emitting.

Both concepts were examples of a form of political language through which the national identity expressed itself. In addition, understanding this language gives a fascinating insight into the subtle mechanisms that articulate the idea of national superiority. Many of the arguments should become clearer once I contextualise them within the general reflection on the nationality question, and, most importantly, as a reflection of an ongoing debate about the nature of the relationship between Hungarians and Romanians.

How did Romanians, for example, sustain the refutation of national superiority? Aurel Popovici and the Culture of National Consciousness Racial nationalism was not just a discourse forged by those in power. On the contrary, it often was a counter-narrative, embraced by those contesting the historical argument of natural power and right Slovaks, Serbs, Romanians. Keith Hitchins, in his analysis of the history of Transylvanian Romanians, recognises the influence Social Darwinism had on Romanian nationalism.

Robert B Pynsent

Refer- ring to Aurel C. Aurel Popovici is still remembered, if at all, as a conservative federalist. Popovici was a sophisticated Romanian intellectual with an interest in the great ideas of his age, widely read in anthropology, sociology, demography and philosophy. His ideas served to unite into a coherent nationalist ideology the trends of racial thinking, Social Darwinism and anti-Semitism. Finding themselves in danger of being nationally assimilated, Romanian nationalists expressed their anxiety through the medium of certain ideas that were racial and that grasped for roots in Romanian life and history.

These ideas were present in bountiful supply and Popovici advocated national competition and struggle as the foundation of the laws of the nation. For an understanding of the historical specificity of the idea of national superiority, one must acknowledge that other forms of racial distinction have worked simultaneously alongside this model. Magyarisation, for example— footnote continued nations, ethnic minorities and races, the ultimate goal of all these groups was domination and success, not liberty and equality.

Aurel C. It is not necessary to go into the specific details of those debates between Hungarians and Romanians in which Popovici was an active participant. The first element is the importance of race; the second is the idea of racial degeneration. Popovici was distinguished among Transylvanian Romanian nationalists mainly because he passionately insisted that national survival should be the primary issue on the political agenda of any nationalist programme. The first correlation refers to the conflict sociology of Ludwig Gumplowicz and sheds light on the idea of nation, race and racial conflict.


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What do race and nation signify for Popovici? Echoing classical racial and Social Darwinist thinking, such as Robert Knox and Vacher de Lapouge, Popovici asserts that race was the key to the understanding of human societies. He attempts to combine racism with the construction of a nationalist theory.

Are not all the people the same? Was not this principle [of human equality] proclaimed by the Treptow, ed. All translations from Romanian are mine, unless otherwise indicated. In explaining this concept, Popovici borrowed significantly from Gumplowicz. Because of this process, human societies expand and acquire internal diversification and complexity; they be- come states. All states were engaged in a struggle for power and territory; they were constantly in a Rassenkampf.


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This racial war was not solely restricted to international relations, it characterised the relationship among various groups within the state as well. If it were to grow, prosper and develop independently, it must have a suitable environment. It follows that race is both Ludwig Gumplowicz — , an Austrian sociologist and jurist, was professor at the University of Graz and Vienna. Soziologische Untersuchungen ; and Geschichte der Staatstheorien Horowitz to Ludwig Gumplowicz, Outlines of Sociology, ed. Irving L.

Intellectuals And The Future In The Habsburg Monarchy 1890 1914

Horowitz, New York, , especially pp. In: Popovici, Nationalism or Democracy, p. The main argument of this thesis is developed in Ludwig Gumplowicz, Der Rassenkampf. Sociologische Untersuchungen, Innsbruck, Gumplowicz, Outlines of Sociology, p. These features are concocted into what Popovici refers to as national consciousness.

What does national consciousness stand for? National consciousness, Popovici points out, is a sense of solidarity that characterises any advanced race.

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Without it, national rights cannot exist. National consciousness transforms a race into a nation. Distinctive features or qualities, the result of long periods of evolutionary formation, generate this transformation. Once acquired, these features should be preserved unaltered. It was meant to assert legiti- macy and strengthen authority within the contested sphere of nationalist debates.

Not surprisingly the consolidation of national consciousness appears as the most important function of any nationalist theory. Political unity, in his mind, was not fundamental either, and he cited the Jews as an example of a viable nationality that had no state of its own.

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He raised similar objections to racial uniformity, religion, and customs. The Romanian nation, as an organic being, must respond to these projects, otherwise it is faced with extinction. According to this conception, nations are infused with creative forces that compel them to act individually. Nations and races, not individuals, are of importance.