Sunday, November 06, 2016

Nikolai Tolstoy: Consider a Monarchy, America

Southmoor, England — As a foreigner with dual British and Russian citizenship, it is not for me to comment at length on the merits of the rival candidates for the presidency of the United States. But it seems uncontroversial to say that neither appears to be a Washington or a Lincoln, and that the elective presidency is coming under increasingly critical examination.

That their head of state should be elected by the people is, I imagine, the innate view of almost all American citizens. But at this unquiet hour, they might well wonder whether — for all the wisdom of the founding fathers — their republican system of government is actually leading them toward that promised “more perfect union.”

After all, our American cousins have only to direct their gaze toward their northern neighbor to find, in contented Canada, a nation that has for its head of state a hereditary monarch. That example alone demonstrates that democracy is perfectly compatible with constitutional monarchy.

Indeed, the modern history of Europe has shown that those countries fortunate enough to enjoy a king or queen as head of state tend to be more stable and better governed than most of the Continent’s republican states. By the same token, demagogic dictators have proved unremittingly hostile to monarchy because the institution represents a dangerously venerated alternative to their ambitions.

Reflecting in 1945 on what had led to the rise of Nazi Germany, Winston Churchill wrote: “This war would never have come unless, under American and modernizing pressure, we had driven the Hapsburgs out of Austria and Hungary and the Hohenzollerns out of Germany.”

“By making these vacuums,” he went on, “we gave the opening for the Hitlerite monster to crawl out of its sewer on to the vacant thrones.”

Read the rest here.

Yes, I'm a monarchist. But I am not naive. A monarchy in the United States is a non-starter. Monarchies don't work well in countries that are not homogeneous. We lack any kind of history or shared national culture that would make a monarchy a viable option. And then there is the question of who would we put on our throne?


Archimandrite Gregory said...

A fearsome thought: Who would we put on the throne? Spare us O Lord, spare thy people from eternal enemies!

August said...

The Austrian Empire certainly worked better than the subsequent governments at holding a bunch of diverse peoples together.

Lee Kuan Yew, while not a monarch per se, did pretty well keeping the diverse peoples of Singapore together.

The real trouble in America is getting people to give up the vote. Even many disgusted with the political process seem bent on voting to counteract whatever it is they perceive to be the evilness of the other side.

I think I heard Trump wants to remove estate taxes or something like that. That would be in his self-interest, but it is also how a natural aristocracy could rise- hopefully certain families could become more powerful at the expense of the bureaucracy- a sort of reverse of what's happened historically since the 1600s when that ridiculous fad of absolutism brought about the rise of bureaucrats over and above the nobility.

sjgmore said...

Who would we put on our throne?

I hear Chelsea is too useless to make a suitable heir to her parents political machinations, so maybe a hereditary monarchy is the next best thing. Gotta keep that cash flowing somehow.

The House of Clinton - not the monarchy America wants, but maybe the monarchy America deserves?

On a more serious note, I do sometimes think that a hereditary monarchy might be something that would actually provide some much-needed cultural cohesion to the American social contract. So I don't think it's a "non-starter", but I could only settle for an officially Catholic monarchy myself, so that's what I see as the major roadblock... sigh.

I've also wondered whether the individual states couldn't establish monarchs within their own territories. I suspect that, of all states, Hawaii would actually embrace a "crowned Republic" with an ethnic Hawaiian, hereditary head of state and an elected legislature with an elected head of government.

John Coffman said...

Two important features would be needed in an American monarchy. One, they are wealthy enough to contribute positively to the state instead of be a leech on the state. Second, most importantly, they need to be the prime example of American culture. Since we are multicultural, as you pointed out this is a problem. However, so was Rome. Orthodoxy was the glue for the Empire. If we could get the Trump family to become Orthodox, they are our best option. They are already based on the poisons of globalism and multiculturalism, which is a big step in the right direction.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Good to see you around here, John. You may like this defense of empire:

The monarch is the First Family of the Families but since that's not the case in America, a dominant creed would be necessary as the glue to hold together the Nations.

John Coffman said...

After re-reading John's original thoughts on the posted article, Anti-Gnostic's posts on Empire and also Kings and Queens. I realize there is not path to re-establishing this natural political reality in our nation founded on liberal principles and pluralistic beliefs. However, I remain hopeful. If the Orthodox Faith can spread through the land (which seems to be beginning to happen) then when enough people come to their senses (like all major political changes it never takes a majority, just enough people to make it happen) our nation will take a very critical look not only at the constitution but also upon that which the nation can really be founded. We need to become saints and if this is too much, ask the Church for saints in the East to help us.