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Noble Continent? German-speaking nobles as theorists of European identity in the interwar period

Gusejnova, D; (2012) Noble Continent? German-speaking nobles as theorists of European identity in the interwar period. In: Hewitson, M and D’Auria, M, (eds.) Europe in Crisis. Intellectuals and the European Idea, 1917-1957. (111 - 133). Berghahn: Oxford and New York. Green open access

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Abstract

Aristocratic writers such as Coudenhove-Kalergi were well represented in the ranks of Europeanists in the interwar era. Expelled, expropriated or deprived of their remaining privileges, a number of prominent German-speaking noble publicists such as Hermann von Keyserling, Prince Karl Anton Rohan, and Coudenhove himself began to look to Europe in order to reverse or redress some of the most nefarious proclivities of modernity, as they perceived them. The views of European history and politics displayed by such nobles had three points in common: first, the notion that states and their governments were secondary in international politics to private networks; second, the idea that the nation could only be accepted as a temporary political paradigm, and that a form of supranational identity was needed in Europe; and, third, the recognition that the social foundation of Europe's cultural achievements, which rested on the contribution of pre-war aristocratic societies, needed to be reinterpreted because old elites had failed to respond to the pressing problems of their times. Such writers insisted that Europe could be the site of a reinvigoration of politics and culture, drawing on the vital sources of the past, by a new type of Nietzschean 'aristocratic society', open to the most original and strongest willed, and based on former nobles as the supposed guardians of European culture and opponents of the levelling effects of nationalism and mass politics. Analysts of contemporary national institutions in journals such as Rohan's Europäische Revue and Coudenhove's Paneuropa evoked a perpetual sense of crisis, yet they generally sought solutions in a renewed European past – corporatism, aristocracy, charismatic leadership, high culture – rather than in a radically different future.

Type: Book chapter
Title: Noble Continent? German-speaking nobles as theorists of European identity in the interwar period
ISBN: 0857457276
ISBN-13: 9780857457271
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: http://www.berghahnbooks.com/title.php?rowtag=Hewi...
Language: English
Additional information: © 2012 Berghahn Books.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of History
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1358274
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