Tuesday, March 7, 2017
Monarchy and the Search for Utopia
Do monarchies do better than republics? On average, the statistics say that, yes, they do. However, this takes things for granted which I think should not be. The fact that we even ask such a question shows how we have been trained to think. Oddballs such as myself might ask why it is expected that the government should be providing me with a better life at all. Why is my success and happiness not my own responsibility alone to provide rather than for the government to provide for me? If people live in a monarchy and are not successful, why is this blamed on their monarch and not their own life choices? A few will venture the opinion that when it comes to what sort of a society one lives in, the prevailing culture matters much more than the form of government as to how that society functions (though culture will certainly influence what type of government one has and how it functions). Whether you are talking about modern day immigrants or the colonial settlers of centuries past, people tend to take their cultures with them and wherever and whatever system they live under, their communities tend to be like the ones in the land they originated in.
An Anglophile professor of mine, many years ago, said that communism did not work because it was fundamentally opposed to human nature. As he said, for proof of this, simply go to any daycare center and watch the babies. The first two words they learn are, “NO” and, “MINE” which rather proves the point. Likewise, I would say the same about equality. I have often been asked if an aristocracy is necessary, beneficial or detrimental to a monarchy. My response is that an aristocracy is inevitable, regardless of whether it is beneficial or not. There will always be an elite, the only question is what sort of elite you will have. One need look no farther than the world around us for evidence that this is a fact of human nature. Even in Soviet Russia, members of the politburo and Communist Party leaders lived much more privileged lives than their proletarian comrades. They did not wait in line for hours for a little bread, they did not live in tiny communal apartments, they drove big cars and had vacation homes on the Crimean Peninsula. The United States forbid a titled, hereditary aristocracy since independence and yet none would deny that there is certainly an elite in America.
Monarchy is not ideological and works in greater harmony with human nature than any other system. Monarchs, generally, have a natural drive to do their best for their countries because they do not wish their children to inherit a failed state. There are, of course, examples of monarchs who have not been so inclined just as there are some parents who abuse their children. Thankfully, however, these are few because, in order to propagate the species, parents are naturally inclined to take care of their children and want the best for them. The libertarian monarchist Hans Hermann Hoppe has illustrated this point quite well by comparing monarchs to someone who owns a house and republican politicians to someone who rents a house for a limited period of time. The homeowner wishes to maintain the house and add to its value so that his children will inherit a valuable property whereas the one who rents the house for a given time is naturally inclined to squeeze what profit he can from the house before he is evicted and another renter takes his place. Thus it is the reality of human nature that make traditional monarchs better stewards of their countries than elected politicians.
Traditional monarchies did not have this problem. In a traditional monarchy, new ideas could be tried, adapted to fit changing circumstances or discarded if they failed to produce results. Imperial China, for example, contains numerous examples of both free markets and state control of the economy. During the Ming Dynasty, state controls were steadily withdrawn but at the height of the Qing Dynasty, state interference in the economy increased. We have seen the reverse happen in the decades of Communist rule, however, because China is now a Communist dictatorship, there is only so far they can bend before they are flatly contradicting their own foundational ideology (and some would say they have already gone beyond that point and are living on borrowed time as a nominally communist regime). However, when you have warring political parties in every government, everything is a struggle. There are too many examples to list but everyone knows them. A party that favors one thing will then oppose that very same thing when the opposing party proposes it. A party will stridently oppose even what has been proven to be a good idea if it goes against their ideology. It is, I think, one reason why people in democratic countries are today so frustrated and dissatisfied with their governments which they themselves have chosen.
Systems which work against human nature are bound to fail and unrealistic expectations only cause turmoil. The cause of traditional authority, generally embodied by monarchies, each grew up naturally in a way unique to their respective societies and cultures, are a product of human nature and not an effort to radically alter it. It can be seen in the way little girls dream of being princesses to the way that even republics inevitably take on the trappings of royalty. Monarchy thus offers a form of government aligned with human nature. It does not offer a utopia. This is something all people need to understand and accept. No system, no formula, no ideology can ever deliver perfection and those who expect it will only be disappointed and search in vain for the unobtainable. Even for traditional monarchies, a look at France or Russia or a number of others can teach us the same lesson. Even with the most upstanding monarch, the most saintly leader who genuinely wants what is best for his people, tragedy can still prevail if others fail in their own moral duty. It is not enough that a monarch leads in the right direction, his people still must be willing to follow him. No system will ever be able to take away the necessity of every individual doing what is right. There is no form of government so perfect that it will compensate for those who willingly act to thwart it and shirk their duty. That is a fact of life and of human nature that we all must accept. After all, utopia is “no place”.