Wednesday, March 14, 2012
What Kind of Monarchist Are You?
In many such cases these are people who oppose, to one degree or another, many or most existing monarchies because they are not “monarchist” enough or because they are of a different religion or because they support an alternative royal line or family. I am often quite annoyed by such individuals for the following reasons: if a monarchy is not “monarchist” enough, it is because republican attitudes have become too widespread and mainstream in society so if the existing monarchy falls it will without question be replaced by a republic rather than a more traditional sort of monarchy. Given that, opposing an existing monarchy for being “too republican” only to have it be replaced by an actual, outright republic strikes me very much as cutting off your nose to spite your face. If your monarchy is not “monarchist” enough, my radical reaction would be to work on making it more monarchist rather than giving up on it and letting the republicans win. For those who withhold support from monarchies because they have a different cultural or religious affiliation than yourself, my simple reaction is to say that these people need to realize the power of fashionable trends. Every monarchy that falls and is replaced by a republic only increases the momentum of the “trend” of republicanism.
Finally, for those who oppose existing monarchies because they support a rival claimant to the throne, my reaction is closely related to those who oppose existing monarchies for being insufficiently “monarchist”. In many cases, I greatly sympathize with these people because, more often than not, their philosophy, values and attitudes are ones I totally share. The problem is that they have divorced themselves from the reality that surrounds them and, in many cases, are seeking the impossible. Not the difficult or the unlikely but truly the impossible. They are, in a way, simply angry that it is 2012 and not 1912 or even 1712 or 1612. Unfortunately, tear down every monarchy (or republic for that matter) in the world if you like but it will never be 1612 again. As stated, I often sympathize with these people because I personally see little point in being a monarchist if legitimacy means nothing to you and because, in the course of history, I look at each event in the context of its own time and sympathize with whichever side was, as I see it, the most “monarchist”. For example, in 1688 in the British Isles I would certainly have been a Jacobite. Most at the time likely saw things through the lens of religion rather than politics but from a purely monarchist perspective one could look at it like this: the Jacobites were those fighting for their legitimate, recognized King to whom they had all sworn allegiance. Regardless of the circumstances, I would have felt compelled to remain loyal to the King I had given my oath to. Further, looking at history, the monarchy was clearly stronger, at least in the authority it wielded, prior to 1688 as opposed to after.
Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly, the current heir to the Jacobite claim, Duke Francis of Bavaria, has no desire whatsoever to press that claim or to be the “King of England, Scotland, Ireland and France”. That alone would, I think, cause most people to ask, “What’s the point then?” when it comes to modern-day Jacobites. There is also the fact that there was more to the Jacobite cause than legitimacy alone. They also believed in a different sort of government and overall organization of society. Their other political beliefs all sound good and preferable to me I might add, but even if modern Britons wanted Duke Francis to come be their king and even if he himself was willing to accept the invitation, that would still change nothing about the way the United Kingdom of today is governed other than whose profile is on the stamps. For things to truly be the way they were in Stuart Britain, laws would have to change, which means Parliament would have to change which means the hearts and minds and values of the entire public would have to change. That is something that would be harder to do than changing the monarch and something which could be done without changing the monarch and, I would say, something that should be done in any event.
Of course, as I think any good monarchist should, I lament the fact that Spain has fallen so far from the great bastion of Christian monarchy that it once was and that it has been reduced to such a state (being a child of the former Spanish empire myself). However, once again, the fact remains that the only alternative to the current monarchy would be a republic and even if that were not so, simply having a different monarch at the top of the political pyramid would not change the morals and values of Spanish society. Given that, I really don’t see how their anonymous name-calling against the King does anyone any good but the republicans who most espouse everything they most condemn. If these people have any clear path to the “victory” they seek, I have not seen it nor have I seen them actually do anything that does not simply make them look ridiculous, dangerous or simply irrelevant. In a way, with their attacks on the existing monarchy, they are trying to put the cart in front of the horse. They fail to grasp the simple truth that the sort of traditional Catholic monarchy of the past which they so admire cannot simply be imposed on a population that is no longer traditionally Catholic. This points to a fact about monarchy most of the mainstream ignores; the reflective nature of it.
Perhaps more than some would like to admit, monarchies reflect the values and mindset of their people, to one degree or another. Regardless of things like democracy or monarchy, at a certain level every government that exists and has existed in the world does so because of popular support. They exist because a majority of the people support them or at least submit to them. Hence the saying that we all get the government we deserve. When monarchs were so devoted to things like religion, to the extent that they were willing to go to war over matters of faith, it was during a time when the people also considered religion the most important thing in the world. In this way, in a broader sense, royals are the same as anyone else in following along with the prevailing trends of society. They, like any of us, are products of the world around them. No monarch, certainly not one strictly limited in their powers, can single-handedly change the entire perspective and values (or lack thereof) of their people. I would love for societies and their monarchies to be more traditional, but that cannot happen until the public at large see the error of their modernistic ways and return to timeless truths long established.
This is not to say that analyzing and debating events of the past is a total waste, it is important to evaluate what happened, what worked, what did not and adjust our present-day arguments accordingly. This is also not to say that we must reject the values of the past simply to be more popular today. I would personally see little point in being a monarchist were that the case. It does mean that we must carefully tailor our tactics to the audience we wish to convince that these values of the past do have meaning and worth. For example, arguing the merits of one royal bloodline over another to a modern person who thinks public opinion is the sole source of authority would be a total waste of time. That person would have to first be convinced of the value of monarchy, the stabilizing benefits of royal legitimacy and perhaps even the sacred nature of the Crown before he or she would even understand why bloodlines are worth any consideration at all. Similarly, you are not going to convince someone that they should embrace, for example, the ideal of a Christian monarchy if they are not even convinced of the truth of Christianity itself.