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Aurel C. Popovici's Nationalism and its Political Representation in the Habsburg Empire (1890-1910)



Starting with the Austro-Hungarian Compromise, Habsburg multinational rhetoric tended to reconcile any apparent contradiction between national equality, obtained as a consequence of the 1848 Revolution, and the political necessity of retaining distinctions between Hungarian and Transylvanian Romanian nationalisms.* The success of this rhetoric reflected the Habsburg ability to connect social practices to the beliefs of a politically frustrated nationalist élite inside the new political organisational structure reflected by the union of Transylvania with Hungary in 1868. The relationship of the Transylvanian Romanian nationalist leaders with Vienna shaped their new nationalist rhetoric, thereby ensuring the increasing popularity of such rhetoric throughout much of the socially and regionally diverse Habsburg Empire. As the only source of authority and guarantees, at least until 1867, Vienna was naturally the object of national strategies, that effectively reflected the combination of Habsburg ideology embodied by Habsburgtreue with the emerging nationalist discourse. At the end of the nineteenth century, this relationship provided both rhetorical and real space for the mediation of the Monarchy's two powerful yet contradictory urges: between egalitarian demands of all nationalities and the Hungarian as well as Austrian desire to prevent a potential change of their political hegemony.

This study pictures the political activity of one of the most prominent Hungarian born-Romanian nationalista at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century, Aurel C. Popovici (1863-1917). It also emphasises the emergence of his nationalist discourse in the late Habsburg Empire and its interaction with the Hungarian complement. At the end of the nineteenth century, Transylvanian Romanian nationalists forged a radical discourse that challenged the legitimacy of the reigning system of the Austro-Hungarian Compromise.

The ensuing struggles between Hungarian and Transylvanian Romanian nationalisms were highly politicised by the emergence of new political discourses. On the one hand, the Hungarian nationalists instrumentalised their "battle" with Transylvanian Romanians using two strategies. The first produced an "interregional political culture" specific to the Hungarian part of the Empire that meant to serve as an alternative ideology to the unsatisfactory Unio Trio Natiorum structure of the Ancient Regime. Organised through the cultural heritage of the 1848 Revolution and intrinsically motivated by the revolt against the Habsburgs, this new nationalist culture became a means for building, co-ordinating and controlling participation in politics by the Volk. The other strategy involved the elaboration of a powerful public rhetoric developed by Hungarian and Austrian liberals to justify the political Compromise of 1867.

On the other hand, an archaeology of Transylvanian Romanian nationalism in the late Habsburg Empire indicates that many intellectuals with strong identity resentments engaged in instituted but unauthorised transgressions of established political order. Nationalism provided many Transylvanian Romanian intellectuals with a powerful and positive source of identity. Between them and Hungarian nationalists the icons of nationalism and competition for power co-existed and competed with other symbols rooted in the social interaction of Transylvanian ethnic communities that preceded the intrusion of modern ideologies. In this context, intellectuals created a rhetorical framework that has influenced the course of nationalism, but can we depend on their performances in order to provide conclusive remarks of the phenomenology of Transylvanian Romanian nationalism?

Many scholars have framed the national movement of Transylvanian Romanians in the Habsburg Empire as a result of Imperial political propaganda that stimulated the efforts of Romanian nationalists to build a separate national identity from Hungarian nationalism. This picture was particularly reinforced beginning with 1890, when the importance of a distinct cultural and political identity began to radicalise Transylvanian Romanian nationalists causing their nationalism to become fundamentally opposed to Hungarian nationalist principles and discourses. This period initiated a fervent debate about a new type of national identity for both Transylvanian Romanians and Hungarians. Paradoxically, historians have generally ignored the vitality of the interaction between Hungarian and Transylvanian Romanian nationalism to focus more narrowly on the irreconciability of the two movements. This study suggests that the conflictual political discourse developed by Hungarians and Transylvanian Romanians can be attributed to the simultaneous political mobilisation determined by Hungarian nationalism and to the emergence of a new Transylvanian Romanian nationalist élite, whose fervent nationalism strongly imposed itself on the politics of the Empire. The anatomy of this "intertwined" nationalism requires a particular exercise: sufficient emersion to grasp its predominant modes of expression and to avoid a seductive reproduction of the conventional dichotomic history of Hungarians and Romanians in the Habsburg Empire.

Aurel C. Popovici introduced a new national ideology, in which traditional terms such as "religion," "language" and "politic" were transformed. His nationalist striving becomes more intelligible when one surveys the recurrent constants in the construction of the Romanian nation in Transylvania. These are: 1) the lack of an efficient dialogue with the Hungarian state; 2) the religious component; 3) the permanent construction of the national language; 4) political and social dissatisfaction and economical pressures; and 5) the construction of a national discourse upon the Habsburg rhetoric of integration.

This study particularly insists on the last aspect, trying to understand the modalities through which Aurel C. Popovici inaugurated a new discourse about the nation in Habsburg Transylvania. Within this framework, the focus is on nationalist discourse and political culture of the Austro-Hungarian scene and aims to address a larger question about the extent of collective social and national identities expressed by the Hungarian and Transylvanian Romanian nationalists at the end of the nineteenth century Habsburg Monarchy. Analysing the the nationalist discourse of Aurel C. Popovici, I attempt to illuminate its intrinsic relationship with Hungarian nationalism and Habsburg political rhetoric. Within this framework, I primarily discuss the construction of a divergent nationalism in the Habsburg Empire. To construct my analysis, I have organised my argument into four parts. The first concentrates on the theoretical issue of nationalism and reflects upon the historical and political context of the analysis. The second part discusses Aurel C. Popovici's political activity and reveals its intimate connection with Hungarian nationalism and Habsburg national politics. A general survey on the Transylvanian Romanian history probes the role of the Imperial Court in the construction of their national identity. Transylvanian Romanians, frustrated by Hungarian nationalists in their attempts to envision a national identity for all the inhabitants of the Hungarian Kingdom, tended to avoid this by constructing their national demands and nationalism through the political rhetoric of the Imperial Court.

The history of Hungarian and Transylvanian Romanian theory of national identity/nationalism can be convingcinly converted to the study of those intellectuals who related to the formation of cultural and social identities to Vienna and Budapest. This identification of the intellectual as the symbolic producer of the social and cultural national signifiers is precisely supported by the topic of ethnic/national identity itself. The case of Aurel C. Popovici urges the observer to put those events that are suggestive for understanding the phenomenon of nationalist interaction into their appropriate context in order to reconstruct the mechanism that lies behind them. In an attempt to assess the problem of nationalism in the Habsburg Empire, this article situates Aurel C. Popovici in his respective milieu. Accordingly, I have provided an exposition of his principal ideas together with some reflections of his argumentation.

The third part traces nationalism and the national ideology of the Transylvanian Romanians, and analyses the growth in discourse about Romanianness, concentrating on how Aurel C. Popovici exercised this concept. He emphasised the ethnic component of nationalism and intrinsically related it to Hungarian nationalism and the political rhetoric of the heir to the throne, Francis Ferdinand. Wherever possible, I have extracted details that position Aurel C. Popovici's case in the complicated political picture of the nineteenth century Habsburg Ethnoradikalismus. This can be defined as a reaction stemming from Aurel C. Popovici’s Risorgimento nationalism to Hungarian integral nationalism.

Finally, the concluding part synthesises these issues and stresses the need to use a variety of theoretical perspectives in order to reflect the historical challenges suggested by fin-de-siècle Austro-Hungarian nationalism.

1. The Context of Analysis

Transylvania represents a referential area in any analysis of Romanian or Hungarian nationalism. Its multiculturalism and ethnic variety suggest that this is an ideal region for the emergence of complementary nationalist discourses. It is a "border area," or in other words "a liminal area where creative energies are released, creating signs and identities that are borne outside the national projects of the two nations which are presumed to control identities in this zone." This premise invites to a solicitous reading of the Hungarian and Transylvanian Romanian nationalism alike. The period between 1890-1910 has been characterised by an unequalled fecundity where known ideas about nation and new political attitudes and theories interacted.

The theory of a distinct Romanian nation was produced, for the first time, in eighteenth century Transylvania. As a result of Maria Theresa and Joseph II's reforms that inadequately integrated the multinational groups into the Habsburg policy, Transylvanian Romanians developed a profound sentiment of identity frustration within the system. One of the main consequences of this policy was the construction of the Romanian nation and its corroborative phenomenon, Romanian nationalism. An important feature that has distinguished Transylvania from other regions, was that the emergence of Romanianness and its national program in Transylvania has been directly contaminated with concurrent national identities and nationalisms. If one approaches nationalism from the perspective of the regional political culture it had created, the narrative of the interaction of Hungarian with Transylvanian Romanian nationalism looks different. Nationalist culture in Transylvania seems to have reinvented itself frequently, adapting to contemporary political rhetoric as it tried to maintain its discursive hegemony within local Hungarian and Romanian society.

Transylvanian Romanian ethic identity appeared under the Austrian Enlightened integrative system and was transformed during the 1848 Revolution into a modern conception of nation. One can argue that what followed after 1848 was only a simulacrum of the Habsburg ordo mundis, embodied by Francis Joseph’s Gesamtmonarchie. For the first time, the 1848 Revolution placed in radical opposition Transylvanian Romanians and Hungarians and strongly undermined the traditional basis of Habsburg political power. As a consequence, they succeeded, for a short period, to arrange separate administrations of their own and the creation of their national identity emerged together with a political referent that contested the existing order. Transylvanian Romanians' goal was political autonomy, through which they attempted to separate themselves from the Hungarian Kingdom. Beginning with this moment and, later by questioning the Austro-Hungarian Compromise, they argued that national identity had to function as a complement to political autonomy. This national model was cogent until the end of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and one of the leading advocate of this position was Aurel C. Popovici.

2. Interpreting Aurel C. Popovici

Aurel C. Popovici was born in 1863 in Lugoj, in the Banat region. He was the son of a craftsman, Constantin Popovici and of Maria Udrea. His uncle, "Tata Moº u Udrea" (Old Man Udrea), was one of the few Transylvanian Romanian deputies in the Hungarian Parliament in 1869. As a representative of the Romanian nation he was repeatedly appointed to the Habsburg Imperial Court. His nephew exemplary illustrated the tradition of a double-bounded Romanian intellectual. Destined for an academic career, young Aurel enjoyed a good education and distinguished himself as a polyglot character who spoke several European languages (German, English, French, Italian and Hungarian) and was socialised both in the historical and political reality of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and of Western culture.

After completing his primary and secondary education in one of the Romanian confessional school (1869-1873), he studied at the Hungarian Gymnasium of his native town (1873-1880) and, then, continued at the Romanian Lyceum of Beius (1880-1884). In his native region, he had the opportunity to directly observe the power of nationalism and the variety of its expression. In the 1870s, the 1848 Generation could still effectively mark the evolution of the nationalist movement, but its paramount role in constructing Romanian nationalism began to be challenged by a dynamic strata of intellectuals who were willing to establish new doctrinal parameters. For the post-Compromise generation of nationalist intellectuals this political act reverberated particulary painfully. They experienced two main political options. The so-called passivists believed that Transylvanian Romanians should not participate in the political life of the state, thereby not recognising the system imposed in 1867. They rejected any participation in parliamentary life and election. The other group was the activists, who considered that no efficient opposition could develop outside the political system. Thus, they preferred participation in elections and the entry of representatives in Budapest's parliament. Passivism manifested in Transylvania proper and Activism in the Banat, Crisana and Maramures. Although, quite distinctive, both currents, passivist and activist, emerged simultaneously, even after the creation of an unitary National Romanian Party in 1881. It is important to note that Aurel C. Popovici belonged by his origin and option to the activist tradition and this characteristic would fundamentaly shape his activity.

In 1885, Aurel C. Popovici registered at the University of Vienna in order to study medicine and philosophy and three years later he transferred to the University of Graz. He preferred, however, political activity to the study of medicine and, while studying at Graz, he entranced on the nationalist arena of the Habsburg Empire. In the early 1890s he started to participate in the Transylvanian Romanian national movement and in the nationalist debates of the period. In 1891, he became one of the leaders of the Romanian National Party and editor of the most incisive Romanian journal, Tribuna (The Tribune), but his sensational success appeared with the publication of Replica (The Rejoinder) in 1892.

Starting with this book, his nationalist interest embraced the issues of national autonomy and federalism, topics that would be developed in his following writings. In 1893, accused for lèse-magyarisme and persecuted by the Hungarian government as a result of publishing Replica, Aurel C. Popovici emigrated to Austria and Italy and ended his fugitive voyage in Romania. In Bucharest he began a new career as a teacher of German language. In 1893, he founded the journal Româ nia Junã (Juvenile Romania). Constantly, he continue to write in favour of a federalised Habsburg Monarchy. Thus in 1905 he attempted to found the journal Groß -Ö sterreich and, in 1906, published his most famous book, Die Vereinigten Staaten von Groß-Österreich.

Nevertheless, nationalism and national ideology continued to play a significant role in his activity. Between 1908 and 1909 he was the editor in chief and director of one of the most important Romanian journal, Semã nã torul (The Disseminator), where historian Nicolae Iorga and social theorist Constantin Stere published regularly. In 1910, he published one of the most controversial books on the subject, Nationalism or Democracy. In 1912, he settled in Vienna and in 1916, after Romania's entrance in the First World War, he moved to Geneva, Switzerland, where he died in 1917, at the age of 54. His last contribution to the history of Transylvanian Romanian nationalism, Le question Roumaine en Transylvanie et en Hongrie, appeared posthumously.

The presentation of his nationalist ideology may offer an interpretation of a neglected but important trend in the evolution of Transylvanian Romanian nationalism in the Habsburg Monarchy. As we have shown, Aurel C. Popovici began as a dynamic participant in the nationalist debates in the Habsburg Monarchy and simultaneously expressed his philosophical ideas about the reformation of the Empire in the European media. In his intellectual writings, one can detect figures such as Edmund Burke, Eduard von Hartmann, Ludwig Gumplowicz, Rudolf von Jhering and Houston Chamberlain. Equally important is that after 1894 he was an active member of Viennese society, around the mayor of Vienna, Karl Lueger, and the heir to the throne, Francis Ferdinand. He shared and cultivated fin-de-siècle Viennese cultural and ideological patterns. Thus, it is not surprising, that his books, published in Romania, Austria and Switzerland, attempted to define a Sitz im Leben for Transylvanian Romanians and a new symbolic topology, having Vienna as the only political centre. In addition, it is important to stress that he offered a new collective identity that stressed Romanianness as aggressive, homogeneous and isolationist in its relations with the Hungarian state. In many significant ways, Aurel C. Popovici embodied a combination of nationalism and conservatism, consistently attempting to maintain the precarious balance between the historical legacy of the Habsburg House and the preservation of national and conservative vested interests.

Aurel C. Popovici was distinguished among leading Transylvanian Romanian nationalists mainly because he passionately insisted, from an eschatological perspective, that national survival should be the primary issue on the political agenda of any nationalist program. The particular emphasis on national survival suggestively reflected his image concerning Hungarian nationalism. Aurel C. Popovici was a radical nationalist who did not take into consideration a possible policy of concessions by the Hungarians to the ethnic minorities. He struggled to revolutionise the Austro-Hungarian national arena and the role of Transylvanian Romanians. As a radical and reactionary nationalist, he was not animated by the idea of a political framework that would harmonise the monarchy's culturally diverse population. Representatively, the Austro-Hungarian Compromise was rejected as a viable political system, because of this implicit aim. A harmonised Austrian-Hungarian state would have counter-argued Aurel C. Popovici's idea of an expanded Romanian political community within the Habsburg Empire and its theory about ethnic struggles.

His fanatical commitment to Romanian racial character has aspired to prepare the Romanian nation to new political circumstances. He strongly believed that a federalised Habsburg Empire has to replace the Dualist system and be the protector against Russian and German expansion. Accordingly, his "ennoblement" Romanianness created a radical concept of nation that embraced all Romanians that had the same "national consciousness." In many respects, Aurel C. Popovici's national theory resembles Fichte's nationalism and its message: belonging to a given nation can be and has to be translated politically. As many German nationalists, Aurel C. Popovici thought that nationalism will result in a political solution if one apprehends correctly the national character of the awakening national groups. In his political philosophy, Romanianness was linked to ethnicity rather than other components of nationalism, and the solution of the nationality question in the Habsburg Empire was federalism.

Although, Aurel C. Popovici shared many characteristics with other activists, it is difficult to place him in the tradition of Transylvanian Romanian nationalists. One has to look carefully at his political opinions and ideas in order to understand that for him political action was not an ambiguous action, as was the case of most Transylvanian Romanian leaders, but it did have profound existential implications. His ideas surpassed the stereotypical rhetoric of national movement leaders and the clichéd discourse on the Romanian nation in Transylvania. At the end of the nineteenth century, Transylvanian Romanian nationalists incurred some difficulties in mobilising new social forces for their ambitions and aspirations, Aurel C. Popovici distinguished himself in striving to transform the Romanian nationalist movement. It is suggestive to note that he ingeniously manipulated the definition of the authentic Romanianness, as the persuasive way to control the heterogeneous picture of Transylvania. This is visible in the dynamic of his nationalism. As suggested by Peter Alter in his Nationalism, two main types of nationalism, Risorgimento and integral nationalism, can be distinguished. One can detect a symmetric connection of Aurel C. Popovici's nationalism with both Risorgimento and integral nationalism. Both types are results of particular crises that a given society experiences. I would suggest that in Aurel C. Popovici's case the crisis of political non-representation of Romanians in the Hungarian part of the Empire was the major source of his virulent nationalist critique. Nevertheless, both types of nationalism may suggest an interesting perspective in the interpretation of the national identity of Transylvanian Romanians and its relationship with Hungarian nationalism. In addition, one can consider that such a typology may even reshape the understanding of Aurel C. Popovici’s nationalism and the mechanism of reproduction of ethnic conflicts in Transylvania in the last decades of Habsburg Transylvania.

Aurel C. Popovici's Risorgimento nationalism has been decisively influenced by nineteenth century Italian and German nationalism. Following Giuseppe Mazzini and Johann Gottfried Herder, he advocated the same principle of liberation from political and social oppression and was convinced that Transylvanian Romanians, a nation so evidently different in language and character than Hungarians, have a unique mission to perform for humanity. As Alter suggests, Risorgimento nationalism "comprises elements of a liberal ideology of opposition. It is a protest movement against an existing system of political domination, against a state which destroys the nation's traditions and prevents it flourishing." Aurel C. Popovici offers an instructive example of this ideology of opposition. Although, very emancipatory in its expressions, his nationalism was at the same time integral and xenophobic. This imprint suggests that Aurel C. Popovici's translation of German and Italian nationalism had notably to do with German and Italian political philosophy, but also that was decisively marked by local varieties of political theory. Inasmuch, his nationalism opposed the "Magyarisation" project of Hungarian nationalism.

The testimonies of his contemporaries suggested that Aurel C. Popovici was a controversial character. Although a radical nationalist and a conservative thinker, he did not reject the progress of the modern society. One could deplore the "excesses" of the Hungarian governments to building their "unitary Magyar state," as Aurel C. Popovici certainly did, yet continue to believe both in history's fundamentally progressive design and in the Hungarian state being part of this process. This was, however, the dominant contemporary Transylvanian Romanian political attitude. Otherwise, it would be difficult to explain why those who "reacted" to the Compromise in a negative manner were violently perceived and denounced as "reactionaries," who demanded national autonomy.

According to Aurel C. Popovici, national aspirations can be gained only through continuous and progressive struggle. In his post-Darwinist theory of national identity and on the necessity and the justification of national struggle, Aurel C. Popovici was inspired by one of the most famous professors of law at the University of Vienna, the neo-rationalist Rudolf von Jhering. In essence, he elaborated a positivist, juridical theory that emphasised the ultimate element of natural law. For him, "the power of the nation equalises the power of its sentiment of law" and when this sentiment is abused a real "violence" animates that nation. This symbolic violence that characterised the relations between Romanian and Hungarian nationalism in Transylvania was in Aurel C. Popovici's interpretation extremely deterministic. It "has its origin in the ethic power of the idea of law. It is the protest of the powerful moral nature against the violation of law. It is the most beautiful and elevating proof of the sentiment of law."

Aurel C. Popovici expanded Rudolf von Jhering's view that law results from conflicts among competing social groups. To him, because of the fact that the Hungarian political élite ignored the Transylvanian Romanian claim of separate national identity, they were more likely to envision a "violent" form of nationalism. The conflict was, in Hungary, between national groups and were less characterised by social functions. From this perspective, the modern conflict between the two concurrent nations, Transylvanian Romanian and Hungarian, was an inevitable symptom of the antagonism that characterised Transylvania after the Ausgleich (1867). From the very beginning of his public career, Aurel C. Popovici declared himself a fundamental opponent of Dualism. Within a short period of time, while still a student, he responded to the traumatic political development of the Transylvanian Romanian and Hungarian interaction, as expressed by the process of Memorandum and Replica, by offering new visions of the Romanian community. The most successful of these aimed to address two different concerns simultaneously: the challenge of mass movements and politics as well as the increasing importance of nationalism. He categorically aspired to fuse them into an ethnic national identity. The phases of this process are discussed in the following section.

3. National Symbolic Conflict and Romanianness

Considering that Vienna refused (as expressed in the political formula of 1867) to respect Transylvanian Romanians aspirations for national autonomy, this constraint led to a redefinition of their political goals in favour of national emancipation. Liberal rhetoric of István Széchenyi and Ferenc Deák provided a crucial ideological foundation for the explosion of Hungarian nationalist politics after the Compromise. This was intrinsically related to the proposal of Hungarian liberalism: become a Hungarian, i. e. to speak Hungarian language, and thus you will be welcomed to the leading national community.

The case of Aurel C. Popovici suggests a different rhetoric. By and large, he argued for an inherent element that shapes one ethnic identity. If there was a recurrent theme that determined Transylvanian Romanian nationalism and tended to become hegemonic within Transylvania, it was rather mono-ethnism than any other form of ethnic complementary. This particular property was virtually accepted by Hungarians and Transylvanian Romanians alike, as the accompanying idea of building their idea of nation. In Transylvanian Romanian political tradition, Aurel C. Popovici was not the first to theorise and construct on this element, and one can cite the case of his predecessor, Alexandru Mocioni (Mocsonyi), but he was the first to insist on the ethnic and racial element and impregnate it with an expressive and coherent form.

Nation functions as a hegemonic narrative that tends to completely describe the integrative/normative cultural and political pattern of the national community. Beginning with the eighteenth century, the Transylvanian Romanian idea of nation suffered a long history of successive reformations, finally radicalised in the last decades of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. At that time, one can detect a fluidity of political discourses and an emergent ethnic nationalism that are difficult to define.

One can consider national identity and nation as ideal-types that perform as cultural artefacts. Particular constructs of an unique European political geography, generated by the Aufklärung, are composed of a defined number of interrelated components: ethnic, cultural, territorial, economic and political. These articulate the solidarity of its members that are united by the same cultural memory, myths and traditions. This multidimensionality particularly characterised Transylvania in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In the case of the formation of the Romanian nation in Transylvania, there was an indefinite mixture between its horizontal (only a thin social strata of high clergy participated in the construction of the Romanian ethnic theory) and vertical evolution (the image of a compact and profound archaic rural community, animated by a popular culture and concentrated on the same traditions and historical heritage).

As an ethno-political movement, Aurel C. Popovici's nationalism worked broadly to shape both relations with the Austro-Hungarian state and within Hungarian society and it attempted to satisfy the needs of its parallel appeals: to empower the nationalist élite as extensively as possible and to confer upon them the political power that their national status demanded. By the late nineteenth century, Hungarian and Transylvanian Romanian nationalists often augmented chauvinism as an axiom that promoted the uniqueness of each nation. This was related with the protection of "Magyar Unitary State" within a multiethnic society whose national parameters were increasingly more broadly defined in terms of national language and national consciousness. Within this milieu, Aurel C. Popovici battled to legitimate and institutionalise its informal influence in the Austrian and Hungarian society. It has to be understood that like all ideal-type models, Aurel C. Popovici's nationalism describes no antagonism perfectly. Its first and violent critique was against the dualist system by emphasising its accidental nature. It also rejected homogeneity and social uniformity imposed by the Hungarian government, as a means of solidarity within a given community, aiming to re-create the idea of nation as a basis for the regeneration of the present.

It can be argued that Eastern European nationalists are inspired by and fundamentally devoted to the progress of their nation. They promote this through three approaches. First, by proving the dynamic aspects of the past, they modernise the national symbols in favour of their nationalist goal. Second, by emphasising the intellectual arguments of Western culture, they advocate a radical critique of a single model of nation. Finally, by reconciliation of potentially antagonistic national groups, they request a stable and common national program. Aurel C. Popovici combined all these tendencies in his theory about the Romanian national identity. Although, its significance can be properly judged in relation to the general evolution of Romanian national movement in Hungary in the last decades of the Habsburg Empire, it has to be contextualised within a series of events to which Aurel C. Popovici contributed, such as the establishment of the Cultural League of All Romanians (1890), the elaboration of Replica (1891-1992), the Memorandum (1892) and the Congress of Nationalities (1895).

He surpassed the primordialist phase of the nation that had characterised his nationalist predecessors and proposed a different concept of nation, from the one that national leaders had manipulated during the 1848 Revolution. Characteristically, Aurel C. Popovici's theory provided a sort of marginal but dynamic glossary for some of the terms that had been developed within national identity politics and suggests different aspects of the reproduction/production of national ideology in the Habsburg Empire. Since the emergence of national discourses, the core of intellectual activity of Transylvanian Romanians have centred on the idea of nation. From the beginning of the national movement in the eighteenth century, Transylvanian Romanian nationalists have based their national demands on Imperial diplomas (e. g. 1691, 1701) and "historical arguments," such as the doctrine of the Dacian-Roman continuity.

The supporters of activism abandoned the restoration of Transylvania's autonomy, which had been the central goal of Passivism. At the end of the nineteenth century, many Transylvanian Romanian leaders still considered that an autonomous Transylvania could provide the indispensable constitutional framework for national autonomy. As Keith Hitchins suggests, "Transylvania's autonomy was thus a central issues at all Romanian political conferences between 1869 and 1890. Their linking of autonomy and national rights was an essential historicist view of the question, which reinforced traditional Romanian attitudes toward the Magyars." But, for Aurel C. Popovici, the autonomy of Transylvania, as a distinct political entity, meant the return to the "Golden Age" of the medieval Principality of Transylvania, that could no longer function as a symbolic source for the satisfaction of Transylvanian Romanian national aspiration, simply because they were not part of Natio. In this context, he proposed a new element in defining the national identity of Transylvanian Romanians, the national consciousness.

One clear example of this discursive revitalisation of nationalism and its simultaneous appropriation and manipulation by extrinsic political factors can be already observed in Replica. For the first time in the nationalist literature of Transylvanian Romanians, there was no mention of the historical autonomy of Transylvania. Aurel C. Popovici did not operate with "historical" or "constitutional" arguments in order to advocate national claims. As he considers, "In most of the cases the historical right is the negation of the principle of nationality." He simply posed the issue of accommodating cultural and ethnic nationalism among Transylvanian Romanians, because he considered the conflictual situation of Transylvania as possessing a national importance for defining the normative definition of Romanianness. In The Nationalities Question, he insists on this aspect: "The essence of the principle of nationality is nothing else but the claim of people to be completely autonomous in all their business." To accomplish this, he had to accommodate the ethnonational heterogeneity of the Habsburg Empire by interrelating his two loyalties, the loyalty to the nation and loyalty to the Austrian idea. This dilemma would be eloquently exploited in his book, Die Vereinigten Staaten von Groß -Ö sterreich.

In the writing of the 1848 generation, the idea of nation and the political autonomy of the Principality of Transylvania coexisted. Then, Transylvania was vindicated by the Transylvanian Romanians as being sacred in their symbolic struggle for legitimisation with Hungarian nationalists. After the 1848 Revolution, Transylvanian Romanian nationalists followed the same "historical-constitutional" pattern in their dialogue with Hungarian nationalists and the Imperial court, until 1890 when Aurel C. Popovici's idea about the nature and destiny of the ethnic nation reconfigured Transylvanian Romanian nationalism.

Aurel C. Popovici’s conception of nation emphasised the right of a given community to participate in political life according to its own unique character. This theory, surpassed the narrow limits imposed by the historical autonomy of Transylvania and the principle of national equality, in order to frame an evolutionary logic based on the consciousness of national identity. Surveying the nationalist literature at the end of the nineteenth century, he complained that Romanians (both from Transylvania and the Romanian Kingdom) were not essentially preoccupied with the principle of nationality. He critiquely begins The Principle of Nationality (1894) with:

It is characteristic that in our literature there is hardly a work about the principle of nationality, even if we are under social conditions that require the nature and the power of this principle to be known in every social strata of Romanian society. In the last instance, this principle is the stimulus of all national demands. (Popovici’s emphasis)

For him the principle of nationality was a "modern political idea," a "phase in the natural evolution of the practical application of liberal and egalitarian principles" and, consequently, nationalism was the most important force of the time. The nationality principle received its impulses from the Enlightenment. Through the spread of modern ideas based on the French Revolution and because of the Germanisation policy of Joseph II in Austria, nationalism stimulated a collective identity among the Habsburg Empire's nationalities. In contrast with the previous generations that emphasised the importance of "instrumental" factors in the determination of a nation, Aurel C. Popovici raised the important question: "Well, what is the distinctive feature of a given nationality? The common origin or the language? The religion or the common customs? The political community or the territory?"

Herder's theory, as expressed in Ideen zur Philosophie der Geschischte der Menschheit (1784-1791), explains the particularity of each nation in terms of language, religion or political institution. But for Aurel C. Popovici these elements do not accurately represent the essence of the nation. For example, language was for Herder the most exceptional expression of the spirit of a nation and it should be preserved as such. For Aurel C. Popovici,

In the nationalities disputes the question of language is always put in discussion. But this question is not the essence of the principle of nationality. It is one of the elements, so to speak, that constitute the principle of nationality. National autonomy is the essence of this principle. Thus, the question of language is solved when a people gain the autonomy of its public affairs.

The only significant ingredient in constructing national identity and obtaining national autonomy was, for him, "national consciousness." This deformation of the constituent attributes of national identity by emphasising "national consciousness" shows how effectively organicism might serve as the analytical criterion for constructing a coherent nationalism. A generation before, Alexandru Mocioni (Mocsonyi) stressed the importance of national consciousness in the national evolution of an ethnic community. But for Aurel C. Popovici, this aspect was fundamental to his theory of nation. In this respect, he was strongly influenced by the emergence of theories about national specificity and the importance of national consciousness in defining nationality, that abounded in the late nineteenth century, especially in Italian nationalism, especially by Vico, Mamiani, Marco Minghetti and Mancini. This redefinition of the nation expressed a new Weltanschauung that characterised the new generation of Transylvanian Romanian nationalist and the symbolic national conflict in Hungary. As Alexandru Mocioni already observed,

It is natural if even our people, for their sad past and an unfavourable present, try to find out a solution for a better and beautiful future. This future seems to be provided by the destiny to our young national generation, this our new generation, whether it would realise that has to rise to this noble goal. This destiny cannot be something else, but national culture and the complete development of national consciousness.

National consciousness is fundamental for attaining national claims. It is a sense of solidarity that characterises an ethnic group and without this, national rights can not subsist. Its mythic and symbolic construction is performing to assert legitimacy and strengthen authority. Aurel C. Popovici's nationalism assigned all national aspirations an auxiliary function in the consolidation of national consciousness. It was part of the "Magyarisation" political process that was perceived as a violent symbolic project of social engineering. National consciousness was an organic progress that articulated the particularity of a given nation.

According to this organic conception, humanity and similar nature, is infused with a creative force that compels it to act as an individual. Thus, each national organism can be seen as a creation of Nature's plan. From this perspective, Aurel C. Popovici was the first Romanian to use the evolutionist theories of the Social-Darwinists in the construction of a nationalist theory. However, he was a critical disciple, and did not follow Ludwig Gumplowicz, who influenced by Darwinism argued that the small nations of the Austro-Hungarian Empire should submit to Dualism. On the contrary, Aurel C. Popovici believed that Darwin’s theory, especially in the juridical version of Rudolf von Jhering justified the national struggle of the Transylvanian Romanians against the Compromise system. This usage of Darwin's theory of natural selection and the doctrine of the survival of the strongest is yet another facet of interference to integral nationalism.

As a professor of law at the University of Graz, Gumplowicz was among the pioneers of systematic sociology in Austria. He shared the sociology of Emile Durkheim, by considering that what acts in the human being is not individuality but the expression of collectivity. Assuming this Aurel C. Popovici argues that, "From the vantage point of a serious analysis, there is no within the There is only man in his family, in his nationality." Considering that man does not exist in isolation, "national consciousness," believes Aurel C. Popovici, "is the equivalent of the force" that shapes people's manifestations. Consequently, Transylvanian Romanians had at the end of nineteenth century the force to present their fortified nationalism. What was important for Transylvanian Romanians was how to accommodate Aurel C. Popovici’s principle of "national consciousness." First of all, one has to question what were the modalities of expression of national consciousness. Aurel C. Popovici suggests that,

the concrete modalities for the development of the national consciousness are the same like those used in the free and constitutional states for awakening and affirming civic spirit and public opinion. Besides school and the development of a national literature, history and economical resources, there are press, associations and public reunions that have a powerful impact on this direction.

He realised that there is a difference between the national consciousness of Transylvanian Romanians and the other nationalities of the Empire. He experienced the non-existence of a Verfassungspatriotismus of Transylvanian Romanian and Hungarian élite, galvanised rather by a stale Siebenbürgenpatriotismus. Aurel C. Popovici had to admit that the "homeland of a real nationalist is his nationality and its territory, without considering the political borders." The achievement of a national identity can give to a nation the right "to constitute, according to its own will, an independent state or to unite with another state following their national community. This is the moment of the making of nation-states, according to the principle of nationality." Although this may suggest an irredentist idea, Aurel C. Popovici's intention was not to dissolve the Hungarian state as such, because for him the principle of nationality was not necessarily a centrifugal force.

Another important problem related with his idea of nation was the problem of assimilation. Transylvanian Romanian national identity preceded the Hungarian intention of assimilation. But, how does this narrate Aurel C. Popovici's nationalism? In his radical interpretation, Transylvanian Romanians must consciousness their national identity, otherwise they would be assimilated by the Hungarians. For Aurel C. Popovici the essential feature of the nation was an assiduous struggle for its own individuality and its symbolic ethnicity. What matters was the internal violence of nationalism associated with the external experience of preserving the Austrian Monarchy. This internal violence was a consequence of the fact that Transylvanian Romanians did not possess access to the "elements of power," or, in other words, a high level of nationalist and political culture. Nationalist leaders, argues Aurel C. Popovici, are designated to guide the national project. They are:

The men who lead the struggle for the national rights of a people ... [who] can find the energy and the ideal devotion to win the battle. Whole nations are today enrolled under the flag of the principle of nationality, a whole world of young nations recall their place under the sun. The triumph of this principle is beyond doubt, because its foundation is in the culture, and its allies are the strong forces of nature.

After this survey on the phenomenology of Aurel C. Popovici’s nationalism, one may argue that he can be conceived in a specific framework that had extreme importance in the process of Transylvanian Romanians nation-building. This framework embraced both Aurel C. Popovici’s theory of national consciousness and his particular chauvinism.

Nationalism or Democracy (1910) is a collection of articles written by Aurel C. Popovici explaining the doctrine of its author. "I," envisions himself Aurel C. Popovici, "represent completely ‘reactionary’ ideas, because ‘reaction’ represents the eternal condition of a national culture: the historic wisdom of the peoples against the desires of the sporadic individuals." These "individuals" were for him the generation of the 1848 Revolution. In Popovici’s opinion, they "indoctrinated a whole generation of Romanians from the Old Kingdom, with their dangerous and democratic ideas." The only ones who deserve consideration are those who have reactionary political conceptions. Among them are Joseph de Maistre, Bismark, Cavour, Edmund Burke, Houston Stewart Chamberlain, Wilhelm II and the Romanian nationalist poet, Mihai Eminescu. As in the case of national consciousness, Aurel C. Popovici's reactionary ideology was preceded by Alexandru Mocioni (Mocsonyi), who stated that:

national reaction against the Germanisation policy of Joseph II was the main factor that helped in the formation of the national consciousness of the Magyars. Again, the national reaction against the Magyarisation tendency is the one that shapes the national feeling of the other nations. (Mocioni’s emphasis)

It seems obvious that by accepting the intrinsic reactionary nature of any nationalism, Aurel C. Popovici provided a more complex explanation of Transylvania’s Ethnoradikalismus. Altogether, Democracy or Nationalism insinuates a complex and radical dialect of progress and reaction. This somewhat tortured argumentation might be well continued by understanding the "morphology" of his nationalism. It was discussed earlier in the paper in which manners Aurel C. Popovici instrumentalised these trends. One essential aspect should be kept for this analysis. For him, the nation is the reaction. As he affirms:

The principle of nationality was and is, in its full expression, a reactionary principle. This is because it was and it is the most natural and legitimate revolt of the violated nature of nations. It is a national reaction against the system of cosmopolitan equalisation, against the brutal intentions of some states, that are leading by real dreamers or even vandals in politics and culture, to intervene in the life of these nations.

Another important aspect of the radical nationalism of Transylvanian Romanians and of Aurel C. Popovici is the permanent contact with the nationalist versions produced by the "centres," Budapest and Vienna. One can not understand Aurel C. Popovici’s radical and reactionary nationalism without offering a comparative perspective on this, given by its relation to Hungarian nationalism and Habsburg political rhetoric. His nationalism was reactionary because he described it as a reaction to Hungarian nationalism.

The Germanisation policy of Joseph II generated a vernacular and extreme Hungarian national awakening. Based on that and different from the medieval Natio Hungarica, a secularised intelligentsia emerged and animated a mass-nationalism. The peak of this movement was reached with the revolution of 1848 and the violent anti-Habsburg reactions. The defeat of the Hungarian revolution, the exile of Lájos Kossuth, its leader, and the Ausgleich did not suppress but, on the contrary, revived the "integral" Hungarian nationalism, epitomised by the regime of Kálmán Tisza (1875-1890) and, especially his son, István Tisza (1903-1905 and 1913-1917). The motifs of this revival of Hungarian nationalism after 1848, illustrate the competition for symbolic domination in Transylvania in the last decades of the Habsburg Empire that culminated with the separation of Transylvania from Hungary in 1918.

The revival of Hungarian integral nationalism was markdly influenced by figures such as Bé la Grü nwald or Gusztá v Beksits, with whom Aurel C. Popovici had the most virulent disputes. They advocated an aggresive ideology that asserted the hegemony and existence of a single nation. Aurel C. Popovici elaborated a reactionary nationalism to respond to this integral Hungarian nationalism, that would ruin the Monarchy. As known, the 1890's witnessed several permutations of prominent importance in the national landscape of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Successive convulsions of liberalism and the emergence of new forms of political expression, such as Christian-Socialism, Pan-Germanism, Zionism and Nationalism, denoted that politics became substantially defined by mass-participation that replaced the limited tradition of notable politics. The particular discourse of Aurel C. Popovici symptomatically illustrates how gradually the liberal/national rhetoric of a generation before is replaced. This new discourse legitimated itself as the motivating force behind the national movement, undermining the traditional identification with the state. These transformations had complex and often contradictory effects on Aurel C. Popovici's nationalism. One of these was the vehement and virulent criticism of Hungarian nationalism. However, the relationship between Aurel C. Popovici and the political system in which he lived finally triumphed. At the end of the First World War the Habsburg Monarchy would disappear from the map of Europe.

4. Conclusion

This study presented the political context within which Aurel C. Popovici’s theories combated. As I suggested, the years between 1890 and 1910 were the locus of a battle between two powerful discourses: the idea of the "Magyar Unitary State" (a Magyar állam eszme) and the Transylvanian Romanian discourse on national identity. Aurel C. Popovici's case may suggest many similarities with other intellectual cases from the Habsburg Empire, either Transylvanian Romanian or Hungarian. One can even argue that Aurel C. Popovici’s national ideology was among many of those political failures of the Habsburg fin-de-siècle. Based on a reactionary nationalist discourse he constructed a radical model of national identity that had to comprehend the essence of nation. In an attempt to explain the political and social circumstances under which he developed his reaction against integral nationalism that characterised the last decades of the Habsburg Empire, Aurel C. Popovici has offered the thesis that the crystallisation of such extreme sentiments may engender the existence of the Monarchy. I his view this may be avoided by abandoning the "Magyarisation" project and constructing a federative state based on the ethnic map of the Empire. On the other hand, the historian that attempts to understand the history of Transylvanian Romanians in the Habsburg Empire cannot ignore his paricular form of nationalism. It was a substantial doctrine that framed the history of nationalism of the Habsburg Empire and, as objectionable as the claim may appear, present Romanian nationalism is, in many ways, Aurel C. Popovici's heir.

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