Conservatives and The Crown

Part One

Part Two

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By now readers who have stuck with me may be wondering exactly where I fall in the liberal-conservative continuum.

Well, if I were the kind of person who can be content to fall on a point in any continuum, I wouldn’t have leapt off the Protestant-Catholic seesaw to join the exotic and fairly inconvenient Orthodox Church.

Let’s talk about conservatism, which draws its values from the common man, and its relationship to the uncommon man – to the man with the crown on his head.

First of all, as I noted in the previous two discussions, conservatism means “holding the values that are so basic to human nature you don’t need to be especially sophisticated to get them.” When you are a conservative, you value what you value because it works so well with human nature, and the healthier you are as a human the more you see that, because the more you experience it. You don’t need to be argued or educated into it – although every human being requires cultivation because every human is communional in nature.

In this way, you experience a natural alignment with the concerns of the common man, even if you yourself are highly cultivated, educated, and unusually well-constituted so as to avoid the common foibles of the ordinary conservative.

All this puts American conservatives and liberals in a funny position. Democrats are ostensibly aligned with the common man and his rights, but as liberals are themselves sophisticated people who detest the values of the common man and want to separate him from them.

Where does this leave conservatives? In America, conservatives are mostly Republicans. Republicans are ostensibly aligned against the rights of crowned heads, and with the rights of the nation to organize its government based on the individual merits of candidates rather than on their birthrights and heritages. In the absence of any crowned heads to rebel against, Republicanism has become the stomping grounds of people who revere merit, which often includes conservative virtues, and individuality, which is a lot more iffy in terms of basic values.

(To sum up, individuality cannot exist without Christian personhood, which is a conservative value since the Christian era. However, individualism is individuality set free from the more basic communionality that humans experienced before Christ. Like liberalism, individualism is an attempt to gain a kind of perfection by going unmoored from the foundation that perfection requires.)

Why, in the U.S.A. are conservatives generally Republicans? I think it’s for a pretty simple reason. To wit, our government was organized as a Republic, and conservatives want to hold on to that while liberals are more interested in keeping up with political fashions.

Conservatives are very interested in stability. They are also interested in general prosperity, which arises from stability and reduces human misery. In fact, most conservatives consider it a moral imperative for the government to encourage general prosperity. If the government fails effectively to do this, then the widespread human misery which results is the fault of the people running that government. Conservatives consider this morally detestable and personally contemptible. Most poignantly they feel this because, since they include in their numbers more “common” people, they feel the misery more keenly.

In short, it is not in the conservative nature to want to overthrow, destroy, push restart buttons on culture, and destabilize things in order to more easily introduce new ideas. When you have to choose between new ideas and alleviating human misery, conservatism chooses the latter – because, as we have noted, that is human nature and conservatism reveres human nature. You have to acquire a lot of sophistication and be subjected to a lot of intellectual bullying before you can really feel that widespread human misery is worth it, if you can just get a chance to force your ideas on people.

But how conservative is republicanism, really? After all, every Republic arose from a revolution, in which a crowned head was deprived of his function and honor, and new assertions of individual claims wrought vast alterations in culture and government.

So really, American conservatives are in nearly as funny a position as American liberals. Here, the usual conservative pushes the claim of conservative values, while bitterly defending a form of government produced by the most violent and revolutionary ideas.

Additionally, American conservatives preach several political doctrines which do require a lot of sophistication to understand, because they are the product of a revolutionary time and revolutionary thought – in other words, of liberal thought.

An example of this would be the doctrine of checks and balances. According to this idea, a good government involves lateral checks of power, in which different branches of government keep one another from gaining too many powers.

(Note that ‘powers’ is plural here. What this means is that the founding fathers envisioned power as something that came in units, to be distributed amongst various parties. They did not seem to envision the endless intensification of those powers, so that what began, for instance, as the right to tax certain articles in order to raise an army later became the right to systematically deprive citizens of a third to a half of their incomes.)

Many conservatives have convinced themselves that this doctrine is self-evident. In fact, it’s the opposite. Through most of history and in most places, men have lived with vertical, rather than lateral, checks and balances. This is easy and commonsense – it is, in a word, hierarchy.

In hierarchy, the fellow at the top can only run top-level things. He can’t interfere in the workings of the next level down. The guy at the bottom has his own little realm in which those above him can’t interfere. He only has to obey those laws which regulate his public behavior (which includes ensuring the peaceability and regularity of his household.) In short, not only the quantity of powers, but the extent of power, is moderated, in a hierarchy, by the levels above and below. The aristocrats limit the power of the king, and the king limits the power of the aristocrats (mutually, but in different ways.) The households limit the power of the mayor, and the mayor limits the power of the householders.

The way this works is that there must be a lot more people in the level below you, because they are in an inherently inferior position to you, for them to truly keep you in check.

This system is called monarchy, because only one person is allowed to be at the top. Any more people at the top would be an insane threat to liberty – it would bode the accumulation of immense and unstoppable power.

You see, the common man realizes that one man can only interfere so much. No king ever laid such a heavy burden on his subjects, and got away with it, as our bureaucracy lays on us. And no king was ever so untouchable as our bureaucracy is.

Jesus preceded him, saying, “What thinkest thou, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? From their own children, or from foreigners?”

Peter said unto Him, “From foreigners.” Jesus said unto him, “Then are the children free.”

In other words, the common man, in all times and places, is a monarchist.

Put another way, the common man wants to be governed by someone like himself. This is his most deeply felt value in regard to government. He does not really care about organization of government, because that is the purview of politicians, whom he usually despises. But he wants to be governed by a king because he feels that his own nature is kingly. He is Man, the king of creation (under the Emperor, let us say, who is God.)

Just as only a god is worthy of his worship, so only a king is worthy of the common man’s loyalty. And he does want to be loyal to someone. It is a passion with him. Unless he is the pioneering sort who wants nothing to do with civilization at all, he wants to be governed by a king because he, himself, wants to be a king in his own home. He wants to be governed by his own king because that king is related to him by a familial relationship, however distant – just as he is related to his own household. No one naturally desires to be governed by strangers – there is no protection in that. He wants to be governed by a king because even if he himself owns nothing and is a slave to another person, he feels the inalienable presence of a kingdom within his own soul, to which God has given him the crown.

People of dignity do not need to be sophisticated. They only need to govern themselves – both their internal kingdoms and their external affairs.

Wonderfully, it appears that democracy is actually compatible with monarchy. Only in a monarchy, in which the king rules the kingdom but has no place dictating the workings of an individual city or home, can the common man really rule himself and his own affairs.

Since it follows, then, that the common man is a monarchist, it also follows that there are no true conservatives in the United States of America. Everyone here is either a liberal, or a conservative-liberal hybrid.

That, and that alone, is the reason why our nation goes in an unstoppable liberal decline from which we experience only momentary arrests (as we are experiencing now.)

I am a Conservative. Democratic. Monarchist.

My true beliefs will never be on the ballot here. But once in a while a man sits on a seat in the Oval Office and he sits on it like a throne.

Suck it, you lot.

14 thoughts on “Conservatives and The Crown

  1. Good stuff here.

    An observation: many people have an inkling of the problem and wish to remove themselves from the “conservative”-liberal binary. And they think that libertarianism is an escape route, while, in actuality, it’s anything but.

    Conservative Liberalism (R) and Progressive Liberalism (D) share the same ideology and largely differ only in nuance and practicality in response to the difficulties of governing a real world and a real humanity whose actual natures do not accord to the presumptions of the ideology. Libertarianism is not an escape from that dynamic. It’s an attempt to get back to a pure Liberalism, minus the compromises and practicalities necessitated by governance of the real world . In short, it’s Liberal Fundamentalism.

    And a question: what does becoming free from a revolutionary system/ideology look like? How do we, who have been formed as we have, do so ourselves absent ideology and a revolutionary spirit? In America especially, is there anything to restore or is this a building project?

    And an admission: I had thought the pleasure I’ve taken in Trump’s overturning of the tables in Washington had been pure schadenfreude. You’ve made me see there might be more to it. But God save us from a bad king. Liberalism has very few mechanisms for doing so. Revolution only. And an internal revolution often takes the form of a totalitarianism.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Robert, I agree. I almost pulled the libertarian trend into the article but decided to keep it simple. It does bother me a lot because such intense individualism is inherently irresponsible and deeply selfish. (Thanks, Ayn Rand.) Of course no or few libertarians actually live the life they preach, but they do run around smashing everything with their ill-informed sneering and contempt, much like liberals. Maybe we just need someone of Rand’s caliber to write a few popular Conservative novels, and use the money to found an institution dedicated to preaching those novels like doctrine, and in 60 years or so everything will have sorted itself out. 😉

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  2. “But he wants to be governed by a king because he feels that his own nature is kingly. He is Man, the king of creation (under the Emperor, let us say, who is God.)

    Just as only a god is worthy of his worship, so only a king is worthy of the common man’s loyalty. And he does want to be loyal to someone. It is a passion with him. Unless he is the pioneering sort who wants nothing to do with civilization at all, he wants to be governed by a king because he, himself, wants to be a king in his own home. He wants to be governed by his own king because that king is related to him by a familial relationship, however distant – just as he is related to his own household. No one naturally desires to be governed by strangers – there is no protection in that. He wants to be governed by a king because even if he himself owns nothing and is a slave to another person, he feels the inalienable presence of a kingdom within his own soul, to which God has given him the crown.”

    I suppose this was where you lost me. Everything before this sounded nice, and very reasonable, the principle of Subsidiarity being quite nicely explained, and all of this presented very attractively. The quoted section above, however, seems upended by the tendency of people when they get power.

    I have in mind the 1525 Peasants’ Rebellion, as well as another similar rebellion within the Thirty Years’ War. In both cases, the people at the bottom suffered horribly before they sought to redress their grievances. The people at the top, once they acquired power, sought to enlarge it. It was normal for the troops of their armies to rape and pillage to replenish, reward, and motivate. The populace was accustomed to a large degree of this from other commoners.

    More than this, though, there is the question of how and why a king gets his powers. A blood dynasty can’t be affirmed while Charlemagne is affirmed. Even the Visigothic kings before Charlemagne were carried atop their shields to the acclaim of their men; eventually Wamba was anointed in the late 600’s, well before Charlemagne. Blood dynasties turn over with each new coup. One cannot affirm any monarchy and also affirm that legitimate descent is by blood. In the Corpus Iuris Civilis of Justinian, there are contradictory elements about the origins of the Prince’s power. As it comes through a grant from the people, is it revocable? Can a prince thus invested affirm –for the Glossators on the Digest debated about this, for it’s in Justinian– that “What pleases the prince has the force of law”? Once one gets power, one does not tend to honor boundaries that are not fenced with spears.

    Republics are built upon revolution, yes; but monarchy tends towards a corruption that provokes revolution. In the end, the problem is human nature, which can’t be fixed in this age. The businesses need to run and people need to be able to get married without their church catching fire and need to be sure that their kids can go to school without worrying that the next city will invade and kidnap them and sell them as slaves. In a fallen world, stability simply needs force, pooled into one gun, restrained by the people, who must need be cultured.

    Don’t be fooled: I enjoyed your post very much.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gregory, are you not mistaking the entropy inherent in all forms of government, the corruption of the fall, with the nature of the government.

      All men are corrupt, therefore all governments are corrupt. It is the governments and ideologies that proclaim purity of both intent and result that should scare us.

      The trouble with lateral checks and balances as we see is we have essentially the same power goal in each branch and essentially the same people. Therefore no actual checks.

      Trump at least appears to be different. Time will tell. He is certainly different enough to stir the pot a little.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Gregory, I’m a little diffident about taking this up with you, not because you’re better educated and more widely read than I am (bravo, Sir!) but because this strikes me as the usual sort of debate between INTP’s and INTJ’s – and in my experience it never seems to sort itself out however long the parties talk about it.

      I think the reason is that we are pursuing intrinsically different sorts of argument. You are arguing scientifically, more or less – that is to say, from evidence – and I am arguing logically, more or less – that is, from Ideas. While it would seem that you are standing on firmer ground, I’m afraid the peasant’s revolt doesn’t really touch my conviction. I am quite prepared to grant that the middle ages were not all merry peasants dancing in the May, and fair ladies of high degree having love poems written to them to by Arthurian Knights. I don’t think that really touches my argument which is that Perfect Man desires to be governed by Perfect King. At the root of my argument is an Idea of Perfect Man and Perfect King which I believe is more or less permanent, and therefore Intended. I guess you’ll dislike my use of capitals – they’ll irk you? – but they are meant to indicate a difference between any given man (who may or may not partake of the general nature to any given degree) and Man, the Universal, who through all ages and times is marked far more by his capacity for worship and loyalty than by his tendency to rape and pillage when he’s been mistreated or raised on brutality. (It’s the nature of Logic – I mean the formal philosophical discipline – that you cannot argue against an Idea by pointing to a badly worked-out example of that idea.)

      Anyhow, I have never known this sort of thing to land well with an INTJ. INTJ’s have an abhorrence of being governed by anyone. 🙂

      As far as stability being required for daily life to function, I do agree. That is why I am not agitating for the overthrow of the American (republican) government, despite my monarchical convictions. It is also why I shrug when you point out that the histories of dynasties are founded in blood, revolts, overthrows, and so forth. I’m not using America’s revolutionary founding as an argument against the technical or legal legitimacy of the American Government. This is the government we have, and as you point out, we need to go on having it so long as replacing it would involve drastic measures.

      The difference is that however many times Kings have been raised to power by revolts, overthrows, and usurpations, the Idea of a King is never dependent upon such things. So Queen Elizabeth, for example, genuinely partakes of and embodies that Idea, however warlike her ancestors may or may not have been. The idea of a Republic, on the other hand, is inherently revolutionary because it contains the idea of the overthrow of crowned heads. And crowned heads are among those values held by regular people when they have not been corrupted, while Republicanism is not so basic. Ergo, Monarchy is a genuinely conservative value, while Republicanism is not.

      So please note that my argument is not, “We should overthrow all Republics and bring back Monarchs by force because Republics are revolutionary and Monarchs are not.” That would indeed by inconsistent. My argument is simply that Monarchs, and not Republics, belong in the pantheon of conservative ideals.

      I do hope that is not so nice, pretty, and attractive as to lack rational force.

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  3. I’m actually an ENTP, with a very strong F. It’s interesting that you pegged me as an INTJ, though, since that’s what I tested as during the two years that I was basically living like a monk. Most of my posts don’t reveal how strong my F really is; I suppose this one probably comes closest, together with another one that I’ve been cooking for a month or two now about schools in the inner cities.

    https://intotheclarities.com/2014/08/16/machines-for-eating-and-humans-for-feeding/

    Poverty and need activate my F, hard; they also bring out oceans of anger in me, because these people are not helped, and I am starting to wonder –though I don’t want to think this– whether the Classical Liberal polities that we are all occupying, Left and Right, are fit and equipped to help them.

    I’ll look over your answer again tonight, most likely, and shall respond when I get to the second look-through. Family stuff, for now. Tinker Crates FTW!

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    • Well, that is interesting – especially since the ENTP and INTJ are mirror types, having the same function order, but with different directionalities.

      Intuition
      Thinking
      Feeling
      Sensing

      But of course for ENTP those go

      Extroverted
      Introverted
      Extroverted
      Introverted

      while for the INTJ the opposite apply.

      As far as F, I have noticed that ENTP’s are quite strong in the emotion department. The reason (my husband and I believe) is that for extroverts, the second function is introverted and so it doesn’t obtain the same prominence over the third function (which is extroverted and therefore obtrudes upon the behavior and consciousness more easily) that it does in introverted types. Often, this is experienced as a mingling of the second and third functions (which are both judging functions in your case, or both perceiving functions, in the case of en extroverted J type) so that they begin to act almost as one.

      (We introverts have the opposite difficulty – the 3rd function can nearly disappear. Sometimes we actually develop the 4th function more fully.)

      Similarly, the ENFP male almost always believes himself to be an enormously rational person – his introverted feeling and extroverted thinking being experienced as a single judging function, more or less.

      I think it’s a misunderstanding that a feeling person has more compassion for the poor and downtrodden. I’m hot under the collar about all sorts of injustice. My son, an ENTP, is positively explosive about the slightest unfairness. ‘Feeling’ people are better able to handle their emotions, while we thinkers have to work harder at it – and therefore we experience emotions as being more fiery and heavy to bear. Also, with their higher comfort level among “social norms” “feelers” are actually less likely than us to see injustice for what it is, while we analytical types see through all sorts of social justifications for nasty situations.

      *** ***

      One thing I think about government, and poverty, and working, and all these issues is that it would help if everyone began to see all these things as human activities again. Government is not really something abstract – it’s a human activity. Working is a human activity – although management, of course, is an inhuman activity. 😉 I’m really sick of everyone talking about society, and situations, and the state of things, and governments, as if they weren’t really a bunch of people running around doing things. But that’s just a generality.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Interesting point. At some point we need to talk about institutions as having their own momentum and logic and even a kind of subconscious, though: the habits that ascend to conventions and then to customs have their own self-perpetuating power, and the energies needed to uproot or redirect these things has almost always been apocalyptic.

        Regarding the MBTI notes, that generally sounds right, though I’ll need to look at it again more closely.

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    • It’s also interesting to note that we NTP’s have extroverted feeling, which is “pointed at” other people, while the NTJ’s prefer introverted feeling, “pointed at” the self and its values.

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  4. Going back and re-reading I noticed something that ought to be considered more deeply that Gregory brought up. It is a bit of the fish in the water conundrum. We are brought up on revolution and individuality as the normal way of thinking and living.

    It becomes quite difficult, if not impossible to say what a non-revolutionary culture might look like. There are so few examples, if any, because we are all in revolt against our rightful King and Lord, Jesus Christ.

    All of the love of power and abuse thereof in kings, like Saul are because of our revolutionary additude toward God.

    Actually, if one looks a little further it is not monarchy we long for, but a tribe, ordered by a wise tribal elder in harmony with a revealed understanding of the nature of man and our creator.

    The only existing such model is the Orthodox Church in communities gathered around their local bishop. Now, we do not do a good job of it, but to my mind it is still the best model.

    The study of such things has been a life long avocation. Sensing that reality was one of the many secondary realizations that attracted me to the Orthodox Church in the first place.

    Having been blessed with an extrodinary local bishop and being a lowly member of the Cathedral parish has allowed me to actually see how it begins to work.

    Common obedience to a present spiritual elder in a sacramental community is what it takes.

    No worldly form will come close as they are all infected with the nihilist virtue of the will to power.

    Nietzche is the patron saint of all modern governments and political ideology.

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