Saturday, 2 February 2019

Bălcescu: "Freedom can be easily regained if it is lost, but not ethnic identity.”

Nicolas Bălcescu, the Romanian revolutionary of 1848: 
“For me, the question of ethnic solidarity is more important than the question of freedom. A people can use freedom only when it’s able to survive as a nation. Freedom can be easily regained if it is lost, but not ethnic identity.”
In South-Eastern Europe the French revolution and Robespierre's revolutionary principle of Liberté was understood as national freedom or at least, for those Greek Phanariots like Alexander Ypsilantis who wanted to revive Byzantium with the Tsar's support, freedom from rule by infidels.  Ypsilantis's revolt in 1821 was defeated after failing to win the support that he expected from Romanians, who cared not a fig about Greeks. Thereafter Balkan history was about ethnic solidarity and identity. The next Greek revolt was a national, ethnic revolt and it succeeded.


  1. I went today in a lecture cabinet. Almost all the printed newspapers of Canada are in English. They have about the same dimension as of those of London. I did not yet read them. In Quebec City a newspaper called the Gazette, half-English, half-French; and a newspaper absolutely French called the Canadien. This newspapers have more or less the dimension of our French newspapers. I have carefully read some issues: they offer a violent opposition to the government and even to all that is English. The epigraph of the Canadien is: Our Religion, Our Language, Our Laws. It is difficult to be more frank.

    The English and the French merge so little that the latter exclusively keep the name of Canadiens, the others continuing to call themselves English.

    Mr. Neilson said to us today in speaking about the Indians: These peoples will disappear completely, but they will fall victims to the pride of their spirit. The least among them thinks himself at least equal to the Governor of Quebec. They never will adapt themselves to civilization, not because they are incapable of behaving like us, but because they scorn our way of living and consider themselves our superiors.

    Notes of Alexis de Tocqueville in Lower Canada

  2. So many of my thoughts and feelings are shared by the English that England has turned into a second native land of the mind for me.
    Voyages en Angleterre et en Irlande (Journeys to England and Ireland), 1835.

    The best laws cannot make a constitution work in spite of morals; morals can turn the worst laws to advantage. That is a commonplace truth, but one to which my studies are always bringing me back. It is the central point in my conception. I see it at the end of all my reflections.

    He was as great as a man can be without morality.
    Said of Napoleon (1842)

    I studied the Koran a great deal. I came away from that study with the conviction there have been few religions in the world as deadly to men as that of Muhammad. So far as I can see, it is the principal cause of the decadence so visible today in the Muslim world and, though less absurd than the polytheism of old, its social and political tendencies are in my opinion to be feared, and I therefore regard it as a form of decadence rather than a form of progress in relation to paganism itself.

    They call, in fact, for the forfeiture, to a greater or less degree, of human liberty, to the point where, were I to attempt to sum up what socialism is, I would say that it was simply a new system of serfdom.

    Égalité is an expression of envy. It means, in the real heart of every Republican, " No one shall be better off than I am".

    Even despots accept the excellence of liberty. The simple truth is that they wish to keep it for themselves and promote the idea that no one else is at all worthy of it. Thus, our opinion of liberty does not reveal our differences but the relative value which we place on our fellow man. We can state with conviction, therefore, that a man's support for absolute government is in direct proportion to the contempt he feels for his country.

    The greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults.

    The pursuit of wealth generally diverts men of great talents and strong passions from the pursuit of power; and it frequently happens that a man does not undertake to direct the fortunes of the state until he has shown himself incompetent to conduct his own.

    As the past has ceased to throw its light upon the future, the mind of man wanders in obscurity.