In Defense of Monarchy

Other advantages of monarchy

From the previous chapter, one easily sees the primary shortcoming of democracy: it allows no real repository organ in the state. God and ancestors are completely disenfranchised, and the desires of the current generation are entirely unchecked. As Charles Maurras wisely put it, “democracy is forgetting.”

Many are the blessings of living under a hereditary monarch, but a few deserve special mention. First, heredity monarchy is the only form of government which assumes a real equality of all human beings. Both technocracy and democracy are designed to fill positions with the “best” men. In a technocratic regime, positions are filled by the man who’s aptitude and qualifications most impress his fellow experts. In an election, each candidate tries to convince the populace that he is superior to his rivals. Actually, of course, winning an election only proves that a person is a good campaigner, which has nothing to do with being a good leader. For the position of monarch, however, we do not choose the most experienced man, the most intelligent man, the bravest man, or the most popular man. We reject the association of government office and personal greatness. The greatest man in the kingdom may well be a garbage collector or kindergarten teacher; the honor we give the king derives entirely from his role, because of what he represents. Unlike an expert or a democratic politician, the king knows that as a man he is no better than those born into less illustrious roles. This is one reason to expect humility to be more common among kings than among experts and politicians. Also not to be ignored are the advantages of being ruled by a man who has not actively sought power for himself, but who has inherited it as a duty. In democracies and meritocracies, power can only be acquired through grueling competition, so that those who win power in such societies are most often power-mad megalomaniacs.

By his hereditary status, the king is uniquely independent of popular and expert opinion. Already when our republic was young, Tocqueville observed that politicians flatter the people with greater obsequiousness than was seen at Louis XIV’s court, and the passage of years has made them yet more shameless. How often do we hear that “the American people deserve better” or that “the American people are the greatest on Earth” or other such inanities? What if what the American people actually deserve is to be rebuked for our decadence, greed, criminality, cowardice, impiety, and selfishness? Who would ever tell us? Certainly a politician facing reelection would never speak this way. Yet to criticize faults is a basic function of authority, one that belongs naturally to the king in his fatherly role.

Finally, there is the fact that the monarch is a person to whom we relate personally, while the legislative and executive are and must be impersonal—as impersonal as the law, as faceless as bureaucracy. Thus the king is uniquely suited to certain personal tasks. One such task is the issuing of pardons to convicted criminals. Forgiveness is an act that can only be directed from one person to another. If instead the executive operated a “Bureau of Mercy” it would need an impersonal rule: commute these punishments for these acts in these circumstances. But this would be no different than just making a law against assigning such punishments; it would be, not mercy, but a dilution of justice. Justice demands that the act be condemned and a proportionate penalty assigned, but the king can pardon the man, although only on a case-by-case, that is only on a personal, basis.

4 Responses

  1. […] and the paternal role.  Then it gets better by linking authority to symbolism, something else I’m always emphasizing.  As I wrote in my defense of patriarchy, the father must represent the outside world and the […]

  2. […] In Defense of the Patriarchal Family Bonald – In Defense of Regional Cultures Bonald – In Defense of Monarchy Bonald – In Defense of Censorship Bonald – In Defense of Religion Mark Richardson […]

  3. […] I’m moderately conservative, but I know some people who argue that we should go back to direct rule by kings and an established church. The Misanthrope came out, snarled, and has not yet gone into his […]

  4. […] for a specific difference won’t stand; it is a fact that there are general defenses of monarchy, religion, tradition, and the like that proceed along entirely different lines than those of the […]

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