Steven Beller is a historian from Washington D.C. He was educated at Cambridge University. He has been a Research Fellow at Peterhouse, Cambridge, a Member of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, a Research Fellow of the IFK, Vienna, and a Visiting Fellow at the IWM a long time ago. He has published a number of books on Austrian history, including Vienna and the Jews, 1867-1938: A Cultural History (1989), Theodor Herzl (1991), Francis Joseph (1996) and A Concise History of Austria (Cambridge University Press, 2007). His most recent books are Antisemitism: A Very Short Introduction (2nd edn, 2015) and Democracy in the “All That Matters” series (2014). His current project is a book on The Habsburg Monarchy 1815-1918 for Cambridge University Press.
Contemporary Europe is going through a crisis of confidence of supra-national institutions, especially of the European Union, to the advantage of a resurgence of nationalist ideologies. A century ago a similarly supra-national institution (on a slightly smaller scale), the Habsburg Monarchy was also in the midst of a crisis—in the middle of the First World War—that was soon to spell its end, as it was split apart on nationalist lines. The paper will analyse how the Monarchy got into that situation, how its case compares to that of contemporary Europe, and how it differs. It will also discuss what was lost by the destruction of a supranational polity in the centre of Europe, and what the potential lessons are for contemporary European debates, such as Brexit, the Euro, and the immigration crisis.