My husband, an amateur historian, has been talking about monarchy on facebook with a libertarian friend. For the friend’s sake I won’t quote the whole conversation, but here’s Scottie’s latest comment. The charge is that monarchy equals dictatorship; that ‘king’ is just a fancy name for president; that kings kill people; that many monarchies existing in the world today are not all that prosperous or stable – examples of which are Swaziland and Saudi Arabia.
Here’s what Scottie says:
Since there seems to be some confusion, I think I need to explain what I actually envision as an ideal monarchy. In the Middle Ages, the monarch usually had no direct powers of taxation; he/she had to rely on direct income from lands personally owned and/or on monies given upon request from society or loans from wealthy merchants. No taxation essentially meant that the “state” as such did not exist, which is why I am a total monarchist first and a libertarian (a position which is dependent on the existence of the State, however small) second.
I don’t wish to tar and feather our country any more than is necessary to defend monarchism from the idea that monarchy creates monsters with unlimited power, ruling with an iron fist and killing one third of their populations whenever they could get away with it.
The U.S. is an honorable nation with noble ideals at the heart and certainly has a better track record regarding human dignity, life, and liberty than most of the governments which now burden the world with their existence. In fact, the American Revolution is a good example of the desire of good people to rid themselves of the ever-reaching arms of the State. When the American Colonies were first established, most were under direct charter of the King, and Parliament (the apparatus of the slowly expanding British State) had no direct control and minimal influence. As in the Middle Ages, when the King needed money from the colonies, he had to ask for it, and the colonies would grant whatever was reasonable for them.
The main reason for the creation of the State in Europe was the long exhausting wars resulting from the Reformation. As nations needed to pay for the wars, they began by various measures to introduce permanent means of taxation with a beauracracy needed to collect and distribute the money. Once created, the State became unstoppable. In the case of the American Colonies, the British had just fought what was essentially a world war (the Seven Years War) and needed to pay for it. The homeland was taxed to the hilt and the colonies, as they were the last parts of the Empire still under the old system, would have to pay taxes “just like everybody else”. Didn’t go over too well.
So our love of liberty is much more medeival than most people think. When the war was over, there was a split between the continuing monarchists (like John Adams and Alexander Hamilton) and the democratic populists (like Thomas Jefferson, who by the way, supported the bloody French Revolution). The result was Federalism and a constitutionally limited government, but with no monarch.
Good idea, but our State is now much larger than the original British State in the time of the Revolution and a great deal more obnoxious. The Constitution is mostly rigid and more importantly, powerless to defend itself. The “people” (an old Leftist term) are not defending it and are actually in many cases seeking to tear it down. Unfortunately, that is predictable and very much in line with human nature. On the other hand, the Monarch in Britain, while now mostly powerless, provides an alternative source of leadership and commands the loyalty of the nation. A dictator arising from the midst of the government such as we fear here from someone like Obama is not even a possibility there. The Monarch could in theory put an end to the State especially in the scenario of a possible collapse due to overspending.
A Monarch is archetypal: the King or Queen is the icon of God’s reign over Man. A dictator will rob the nation of everything they can grab, but a monarch must see to the health of the nation because they must pass it down to their descendants. A monarchy is family based and inherently conservative; there is a reason the Left hates monarchies and seeks to topple them whenever and wherever they find them.
Finally, the scripture quoted can be taken in its greater context to support monarchy. Our Lord is from the line of David, the King of Israel chosen by God and a man after God’s own heart. Also in Scripture is this: “The kings of the earth were ordained by God.” No republics/democracies/dictatorships were set up. Monarchy is as natural to humanity as a Queen is to ants and schools are to fishes and in its various forms (including the ancient Tribal forms) is as old as we have written records. The beginning of Genesis is the only exception, but no forms of government are mentioned in the first chapters and that could simply be because it wasn’t relevant or because Monarchy is a natural development of the extended family.
Saudia Arabia is not a monarchy but an aristocracy which, if you follow my arguments, is not even close to what I am advocating. Dubai is a better example: filthy rich, and relatively free. Every country needs to be looked at in the context of their respective geopolitical regions. In the Middle East, all of those countries struggle because of their religion. However, it is only the monarchies that are permanently stable and not completely on the Jihad bandwagon. In Africa, we should not fail to mention Morocco, a prosperous (relative to its neighbors) nation. As to Swaziland, the Monarch is basically a figurehead to the State. Swaziland also has almost no natural resources, is landlocked and was devastated by colonialism followed by Communist guerrillas (who unsurprisingly did most of the damage) and who still operate in the country. Also, Swaziland is a dynasty, not a monarchy, as the king has multiple wives; this is a subtle but incredibly important difference. As Christians, I think we know why that is. Thailand is a great example of a monarchy surpassing in prosperity, stability and freedom, all of its neighbors, as is post-war Japan (I know, WWII, but Tojo as dictator had a lot more to do with that than the Emperor; my rebuttals on Japan will center on Tojo and the State’s gradual erosion of the authority of the Monarch if that becomes necessary).
My primary source (though certainly not the only source) for information regarding the switch from private monarchies to the modern State is The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers by Paul Kennedy. Books on the Revolution are everywhere, but one that is good is The Development of a Revolutionary Mentality, and I forget the author’s name because I don’t have him in front of me, but this is a comment and not a master’s thesis anyway.
This comment was not from wiki.
Yes, that’s my husband. If you wonder what it’s like being married to someone like this, I’ll just smile and tell you stories about the various activities from which it is possible to distract Scottie by posing him a philosophic, theological, or historical question.
Or for a shorter answer: it’s great.