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Tag: Monarchy

Freedom & The State

In order to become free, we must free ourselves from the nightmare of modernity. We must free ourselves from the myths which are utilized in order to make Europeans feel guilty about a past that they should feel proud of, we should feel proud of both the good and the bad just as other races feel pride for their entire history.

In order to become free, we must free ourselves from the nightmare of modernity. We must free ourselves from the myths which are utilized in order to make Europeans feel guilty about a past that they should feel proud of, we should feel proud of both the good and the bad just as other races feel pride for their entire history.

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Dostoevsky And The State

As a great empire, Russia is an organism larger than the Russian people. However, the Russian people are the most important factor of the Russian Empire, and the basic features of the people’s spirit determine the character of its sovereignty to a significant degree. Therefore Dostoevsky’s thought on the attributes of Russia as a state are closely tied with the views he expounded on the Russian nation.

Originally published at Soul of The East

As the author of a notable work on Fyodor Dostoevsky, philosopher Nikolai Onufriyevich Lossky contributed an excellent analysis of Dostoevsky’s worldview. Here he examines Dostoevsky’s relation to the state in the context of Russian culture and Orthodox faith. While Dostoevsky highly valued the democratic ethos of the Russian people and wished to see their communal principles enacted more in political life, he was nonetheless a staunch monarchist and a critic of Enlightenment liberalism. Dostoevsky’s thoughts on foreign policy, meanwhile, might seem quite romantic to us, but they contain a powerful ideal: the image of a state in the service of God, the Church and the people. Translated by Mark Hackard.

As a great empire, Russia is an organism larger than the Russian people. However, the Russian people are the most important factor of the Russian Empire, and the basic features of the people’s spirit determine the character of its sovereignty to a significant degree. Therefore Dostoevsky’s thought on the attributes of Russia as a state are closely tied with the views he expounded on the Russian nation.

Dostoevsky was an opponent of limiting autocracy; he feared that the higher classes, the bourgeoisie and the educated would use political liberty to subordinate the simple folk to their interests and ideals. “Our constitution,” says Dostoevsky, “is mutual love of the Monarch toward the people and the people toward the Monarch.” (Letter to Maikov, No. 302) Civil liberties, freedom of conscience, freedom of thought and freedom to print were loved and defended by Dostoevsky in every period of his life. He valued rural and city self-government highly and considered them correspondent to the spirit of the Russian people. Preparing the novel Demons in his notebooks and thinking over the image of Stavrogin (initially under the name of “the prince”), Dostoevsky wrote and doubtlessly expressed during this his own thought: “If there is reform, self-government, then elucidate it clearly and firmly, not hesitating, but believing the in strength of the nation… The German principle, administration, wants to lay its hands on the native Russian form, self-government.” One of the characters elucidates further, keeping in view the thoughts of the “prince”: “It was curious that he could so deeply understand the essence of Rus when he explained it and thereby enflamed Shatov.”

Finding in the Russian people a “genuine democratic attitude,” Dostoevsky, without doubt, would have welcomed the establishment of political democracy in the form of a democratic monarchy, if, he hoped, the lower classes of the people could have genuinely enjoyed political freedom in the spirit of their ideals. In the last year of his life, when discussions of calling aZemsky Sobor (Land Assembly) were circulating, he recommended to ask the “gray coats” about their needs and even spoke about the responsibility of ministers before the Zemsky Sobor.

The place of Russia in Europe and her foreign policy especially interested Dostoevsky. The notion that moral principles should guide only the behavior of private individuals, but not the state, roused him to indignation. Condemning the behavior of such diplomats as Metternich, Dostoevsky says: “A policy of honor and unselfishness is not only a higher, but also perhaps the most beneficial (it) policy for a great nation, precisely because it is great.” (Diary of a Writer, 1876, Jul.-Aug.) Russia namely comports herself as a great nation. “Russia,” says Dostoevsky, “was never able to produce its own Metternichs and Disraelis, but rather the entire time of its European life it has lived not for itself, but for others, precisely for interests common to all mankind.” Her unselfishness often resembles the chivalrous nature of Don Quixote:

In Europe they scream of ‘Russian invasions’ and ‘Russian treachery,’ yet only to frighten their masses when needed, for the shouters themselves hardly believe any of it, nor have they ever believed it. On the contrary, they are now bothered and scared that in Russia’s image there is something upright, something too unselfish, honest and disdainful of usurpation and bribery. They have a presentiment that it’s impossible to buy her off and she won’t be lured into a mercenary or violent matter by any political advantage.” (1877, Feb.)

There has recently appeared a brochure titled, “Principles of Russia’s European Policy in the 19th and 20th Centuries,” by Professor E.V. Spektorsky. Therein Prof. Spektorsky, making use of a multitude of facts, attests that Russia was guided predominantly by a policy of principles while Western states conducted a policy of interests. “The principles of Russia’s European policy were the salvation of the lost, loyalty to treaties and allies, and a peace of solidarity.”

One can object that Russia under autocracy conducted an unmercenary policy not by the will of the people, but by the orders of her rulers, such as Alexander I, Nicholas I and Alexander II. With many facts it can be proven that this is incorrect, and that that unselfish policy did correspond to the spirit of the Russian people themselves. And so after the flooding of St. Petersburg on 7 November 1824, among the people there were rumors that the disaster was retribution for the sin of not rendering help to co-religionist Greeks who had revolted against the Turkish yoke. The Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78, the goal of which was the defense of Orthodox Slavs, was supported by a widespread sympathetic movement of the popular masses.

Peter’s reforms, despite the dangers and temporary deviations toward the loss of cultural identity, were highly valued by Dostoevsky, as they freed Russia from “isolation”; their consequence was the “measureless expansion of view” and such an introduction to Europe, thanks to which we apprehended

our universal purpose, our personality and role in humanity, and we could not but recognize that this role and purpose did not resemble those of other peoples, for there every national personality lives only in themselves and for themselves, while we shall now begin, when the time has arrived, namely with becoming servants to all for universal conciliation.

Entering into European life, Russia attains the possibility of “active application of our treasure, our Orthodoxy, to the service of humanity.” (Diary of a Writer, 1876, June) The first step on this path should be the resolution of the Eastern and Slavic questions, which in Dostoevsky’s understanding are rather approximate with each other. As a matter of fact, the significance of the Straits for the economic life of Russia and the defense of the Black Sea Coast is known to Dostoevsky, but it does not interest him. “The Golden Horn and Constantinople – all of this will be ours,” writes Dostoevsky, “but not for invasions and not for violence.” To demand Constantinople from Europe, Russia, thinks Dostoevsky, has “a moral right,” “as the marshal of Orthodoxy, its patroness and protector.” (Diary of a Writer, 1876, June, Dec.; 1877, March)

Gaining hold of Constantinople and freeing the Bulgarians and Serbs from the Turkish yoke, Russia, hoped Dostoevsky, would set a beginning to the “unity of the Slavs” “in the service of humanity.” (1876, June) He knew that Western Europe would oppose Pan-Slavism with all its power, fearing Russia’s strengthening. Even in Russia herself, in an article by Professor T.N. Granovsky, Dostoevsky came across the idea that Russia’s attention to the fate of the Southern Slavs was conditioned not by idealist motives, but the aspiration to expansion. Fighting against Granovsky’s idea, Dostoevsky backhandedly admits that he had the academic in mind when he sketched out the image of a Russian liberal in the form of Stepan Trofimovich Verkhovensky, mocking while at the same time loving and respecting him. In consolation to people who feared Russia’s strengthening, Dostoevsky said that for Russia herself the matter of liberating the Slavs will be a source of “only troubles and pain.” (1876, Jul.-Aug.)

Dostoevsky foresaw that “as it never was before, there will be for Russia no greater haters, enviers, slanderers and even overt enemies than all these Slavic tribes only as soon as Russia liberates them and Europe agrees to recognize them as liberated.” This would happen “not by the supposedly low ungrateful character of the Slavs, not at all – they have their character in this respect as all do – but because such things in the world cannot happen otherwise.”

Unfailingly they will begin from inside themselves, if not speaking it aloud, and announce to themselves and convince themselves that they do not owe Russia the least bit of gratitude, but rather that they barely escaped from Russia’s lust for power by concluding a peace through the intervention of the European concert.

“They will grovel before the European states,” and will say that “they are educated peoples capable of the highest European culture, while Russia is a barbarous country, a gloomy northern colossus not even of pure Slavic blood, an oppressor and antagonist of European civilization.” “These small lands will eternally quarrel amongst each other, eternally envy and intrigue against one another.” (1877, November) Therefore, “without Russia’s enormous unifying center, Slavic harmony is not to be, and without Russia the Slavs couldn’t survive; the Slavs would wholly disappear from the face of the earth, whatever the Serbian intelligentsia or various European, civilized Czechs might dream.” (ibid, February)

Despite all these tragic prophecies, Dostoevsky loves the Slavs and considers it Russia’s duty to selflessly fight for their freedom. “In the current war,” he says, “having freed the Slavic tribes, we shall not acquire not one strip of land from them (as Austria is dreaming for herself), but rather, we will be overseeing their mutual harmony and defend their liberty and independence, even against all of Europe. (ibid, April) He hopes that the freed Slavs, perhaps after their age-old strife, will finally come to understand Russia’s unselfishness and form a federated state with her, in which every member would receive “as much political freedom as possible.” Dostoevsky dreams that “such a union could finally someday be joined by even non-Orthodox European Slavs.” (1876, June)

When speaking on an all-Slavic federation, Dostoevsky obviously has in mindN.Y. Danilevsky’s work Russia and Europe. Danilevsky set out to prove that the united Slavs would bring a new form of culture into the historical process and achieve a new cultural-historical type to take the place of the Romano-German cultural-historical type. However, the distinction between Dostoevsky and the ideas of Danilevsky is great. According to Danilevsky, cultural-historical types are so unique that they are almost incapable of influencing one another, and it is impossible to produce a unified and universal human culture. Dostoevsky, to the contrary, does not depart from the ground of Christian universalism:

We first declared to the world that not through the repression of the character of foreign nationalities do we want to attain our own success. On the contrary, we see it only in the freest and most independent development of all other nations and in brotherly unity with them, complementing one another, fostering in ourselves their organic particularities and extending, from us to them, our branches for cultivation, communing with them in soul and spirit, learning and teaching until that time when humanity, having been fulfilled with the relations of peoples unto universal unity, like a great and magnificent tree will give shade to the happy earth.

Lovely are Dostoevsky’s dreams of universal brotherhood of peoples and the peaceful development of culture. Speaking on Russia, he constantly underlines her unselfishness and her unwillingness to undertake predatory seizures of other lands. He had well-founded proof in Danilevsky’s book Russia and Europe that Russia, founding a massive empire, never killed off established national cultures. Unfortunately, however, it is impossible to close one’s eyes to the fact that Slavic and Russian messianism seduced Dostoevsky to the assertion that the capture of Constantinople by Russia would be morally justified. He omits from view that the protection of Orthodoxy and the defense of Russia’s economic and strategic interests could be achieved without taking Constantinople away from the Turks by way of a peace agreement with Turkey and other states.

We shall say in passing, by the way, a few words on Dostoevsky’s attitude toward war. Christianity, both in Orthodoxy and in Catholicism, considering war an evil, admits, however, that there are other even worse types of evil, and therefore permits war in the struggle with them – for example, for the salvation of a people perishing from the violence of a predatory conqueror. Dostoevsky also holds this opinion, though he is overly fascinated by the positive aspects of war. He says:

A long peace always breeds cruelty, cowardice and crude, flabby egoism and principally mental stagnation. During a long peace, only the exploiters of peoples grow fat.

Having accumulated enormous wealth, the exploiters engorge themselves and begin to seek out deviant pleasures; the division between the rich and the poor is amplified, and “faith in the brotherhood of man” is lost. From this condition of society arise wars with commercial ends, for example, over new markets; such wars “pervert and even ruin peoples.” Conversely, “war for a magnanimous objective, for the liberation of the oppressed, for an unmercenary and holy idea heals the soul, drives out shameful cowardice and idleness,” and strengthens with an “awareness of self-sacrifice,” a consciousness of duty fulfilled and the solidarity of all the nation. (1877, April, see also Letter No. 353)

A burning love for Russia did not stop Dostoevsky from seeing the shortcomings of her state and social structure. And so in Demons, he made a well-aimed satire of despotic ways of Governor Von Lembke, who, not listening to the workers’ representatives that came to complain about the fraud of their factory manager, took them for rioters and had several of them beaten. Also wonderfully expressed in the novel are the absurdity and illegality of the measures that the governor and his subordinate take in the fight against the revolutionaries. Any “administrative triumph” (in Stepan Trofimovich’s words) is revolting to Dostoevsky. Toward the end of his life, he wrote in his notebooks that our society was not conservative, as “everything was taken from it, right up to legitimate initiative.” “All the rights of the Russian are negative ones. Give him something positive and you will see that he’ll also be conservative.” “He’s not conservative because there’s nothing to conserve.”[i]

[i] Biography, Letters and Notes from the Notebooks of F. Dostoevsky, 1883. Pg. 357.

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A Case for the English Landed Aristocracy

The following was delivered as a speech to the Britain-based Libertarian Alliance on February 10th.

 

The following was delivered as a speech to the Britain-based Libertarian Alliance on February 10th. You can listen to the speech there.

To understand the rubbish heap that England has become, it is useful to look at the circumstances that prompted the emergence of the modern State in Europe.

Around the end of the thirteenth century, the world entered one of its cooling phases. In a world of limited technology, this lowered the Malthusian ceiling – by which I mean the limit to which population was always tending, and beyond which it could not for any long time rise. Populations that could just about feed themselves during the warm period were now too large.

In the middle of the fourteenth century, this pressure was suddenly relieved by the Black Death, which seems to have killed about a third of the English population, and probably about a third of the human race as a whole. The result was a collapse of population somewhat below the Malthusian ceiling. In turn, this led – in England and Western Europe, at least – to an age of plenty for ordinary people.

However, continued cooling and a recovery of population led, by the beginning of the sixteenth century, to renewed contact with the Malthusian ceiling. So far as we can tell from the English statistics – which are the most complete and generally accurate – ordinary living standards fell rapidly throughout that century. With mild variations, they continued to fall until the last third of the eighteenth century. While the ceiling tended to rise during this period, the corresponding tendency to higher average living standards was offset by rising population. Living standards began to recover strongly only after the middle of the nineteenth century, when renewed warming, joined by the Industrial Revolution, lifted the ceiling out of sight. Even so, living standards in England did not recover their fifteenth century levels till about the 1880s. It was later elsewhere in Western Europe.

I think these natural forces go far to explaining the sudden emergence of religious mania and political unrest in Europe at the beginning of the sixteenth century. The Reformation and Wars of Religion can be explained partly in terms of an unfolding intellectual change. Ideas are an autonomous force. At the same time, the force of the explosion we date from 1517 has its origin in perturbations of the Sun, or whatever other natural cause drives changes in the climate.

One of the responses of the governing classes to the spreading wave of instability was to centralise and greatly to strengthen power. Most notably in France, but in Western Europe generally, kings were exalted far above their mediaeval status. Because they were unreliable members of the new order, nobilities were brought under control, and power was shared with humble officials, who might collectively grow powerful, but who individually could be made or broken as kings found convenient. The various divine right theories of this age were the legitimising ideology of the new order.

In France, the King withdrew to Versailles. The leading nobles were required to live with him, thereby breaking their connection with the land from which they were allowed to continue drawing their wealth. Much government was given to a class of office holders, who multiplied their functions and arrested much tendency to economic improvement in ways that I do not need to describe.

I turn now to England. In some degree, there was a growth of absolutism here during the sixteenth century. The Tudor Kings ended the civil wars, and made themselves supreme and unchallenged. Because England was an island with only one land border – and Scotland was easily managed – there was no need for a standing army; and standing armies, and the consequent arms race between states with land borders, were a secondary cause of the growth of absolutism. Even so, the Tudor Monarchy ruled England through a strong administration centred on London.

This growth was arrested and reversed in 1641, by the abolition of nearly every body of state unknown to the Common Law. The Privy Council remained, but its subordinate institutions – Star Chamber, for example, and the Council of the North – were swept away. The immediate result was civil war, followed by a republic run by religious maniacs. But this soon collapsed, and the Monarchy was restored in 1660.

However, the Restoration was of the Monarchy in name only. It is best seen as an aristocratic coup. The Restoration Parliament finished the work of 1641, by abolishing the feudal tenures, by which the Monarchy had kept control over the nobility. The landed aristocracy gained something like absolute title over their estates, untouchable by the King. The network of fights and obligations that tied them to those who worked the land was simplified to a relationship of landlord and tenant.

From the 1660s, we can see the emergence of an aristocratic ruling class checked only at the margins by the Crown. Before then, Members of Parliament were often humble men from their localities, who needed to look to their localities for expenses and even salaries. Very soon, the Commons was flooded with the younger sons of peers and aristocratic nominees. Andrew Marvell was one of the last of the last Members of Parliament who needed to draw a salary. The commons became an aristocratic club. This process was hastened by the decay of many boroughs and the growth of the more or less unrepresentative system that was ended only after 1832.

There was one attempt at reaction by the Crown. Charles II presided over the growth of a new official class. Samuel Pepys is the most famous representative of this class. But there is also Leolyn Jenkins, the son of a Welsh farm labourer, who was educated in the Roman Law – not the Common Law – and who led the parliamentary resistance to the Exclusion Bills by which the aristocracy in effect tried to seize control over who could be King of England.

But James II overplayed his hand, and was deposed and exiled in 1688. Thereafter, the aristocracy did control appointment to the Crown, and was able to monopolise every institution of state – allowing those that failed to serve its interest to atrophy.

During the eighteenth century, the internal administration in England became largely a matter of obedience to the Common Law. History was written backwards, so that it became a narrative of struggle to maintain or to restore a set of ancient liberties that were usually over-stressed, or even mythical. I suspect that any educated man brought forward from 1500 to 1750 would have failed to recognise his own England in the standard histories. The tension between competing institutions and legal systems that shaped his life had been reduced to a set of struggles over a Common Law that was only one element in what he considered the legitimate order of things.

I repeat that ideas are an autonomous force. The whiggish ideologies that dominated the century were strongly believed by the ruling class, and were beneficial to the people as a whole. Opposition to Walpole’s excise, and the Theatres Bill cannot be simply explained as the play of sectional interests, or the work of politicians hungry for office. There was an almost paranoid suspicion of government within the ruling class, and a corresponding exaltation of the liberties of the people. But English liberty was also a collateral benefit of the aristocratic coups of 1660 and 1688. Self-help and a high degree of personal freedom were allowed to flourish ultimately because the enlightened self-interest of those who ruled England maintained a strong bias against any growth of an administrative state – the sort of state that would be able to challenge aristocratic dominance. People were left alone – often in vicious pursuits – because any regulation would have endangered the settlements of 1660-88.

Our understanding of English history in the nineteenth century is shaped by the beliefs of the contending parties in that century. The liberals and early socialists demanded an enlarged franchise and administrative reform, because they claimed this would give ordinary people a controlling voice in government. The conservatives claimed that extending the franchise would lead to the election of demagogues and levellers by a stupid electorate.

This does not explain what happened. Liberal democracy was a legitimising ideology for the establishment of a new ruling class – a ruling class of officials and associated commercial interests that drew power and status from an enlarged state. The British State was not enlarged for the welfare of ordinary people. The alleged welfare of ordinary people was merely an excuse for the enlargement of the British State. The real beneficiaries were the sort of people who thought highly of Sidney and Beatrice Webb.

If this analysis is correct, men like John Stuart Mill and even Richard Cobden were at best useful idiots for the bad side in a struggle over which group of special interests should rule England. The real heroes for libertarians were men like Lord Eldon and Colonel Sibthorp, who resisted all change, or men like Benjamin Disraeli and Lord Salisbury, who, after the battle for “reform” was lost, found ways to moderate and, in the short term, to neutralise the movement of power from one group to another. Or the greatest hero of all was Lord Elcho, who kept the Liberty and Property League going until he nearly and hundred, and who fought a bitter rearguard action for an aristocratic ascendency that was intimately connected with the rights to life, liberty and property of ordinary people.

This is not to romanticise the aristocratic ascendency. Eighteenth century England was a brutal place filled with injustice – the game laws, the press gang, a chaotic civil and criminal law, pervasive corruption. All the same, utopia has never been on offer. I will end by addressing myself to left-libertarians like Kevin Carson and Keith Preston. Their critique of the corporate elites and the plutocracy that are hurrying us into tyranny is fundamentally correct. But they are wrong to denounce the aristocratic ascendency that preceded the system under which we now live. It would have been nice for England to emerge into the modern world as a land of masterless men – of yeomen farmers and independent craftsmen and tradesmen. But this was never on offer. By the time the eighteenth century radicals found their voice, the only alternatives on offer were aristocratic ascendency and middle class bureaucracy. Old Lord Fartleigh had his faults. He hated the Papists, and thought nothing of hanging poachers. But he would never have thought it his business to tell us what lightbulbs we could buy, or whether we could smoke in the local pub.

Let it never be forgotten that the demolition of aristocratic rule was largely completed by the Liberal Government elected in 1906. This was the Government that also got us into the Great War, and kept us in it to the bitter end. The kind of people who formed it had already given us most of the moral regulation that we think of as Victorian – regulation that was usually resisted in the Lords. Since then, these people have taken up one legitimising ideology after another – national efficiency, the welfare of the working classes, multiculturalism, environmentalism, supranational government. The common thread in all these ideologies has been their usefulness as a figleaf behind which ordinary people could be taxed and regulated and conscripted, and generally made to dance as their rulers desire. Perhaps the main reason why Classical Marxism never became important in England was that, just when it was very big in the world, Keynesian demand management emerged as a more suitable legitimising ideology for the ruling class we now had.

I therefore commend the English landed aristocracy. If I am now, in middle age, an increasingly radical libertarian, it is only because I have realised that the system raised up by that class can no more be restored than the class itself can be made supreme again.

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Is H.H. Hoppe’s Idea Of Monarchy Spreading?

It is said that the first step is to be ignored, the second to be laughed at, and the third to be fought. It seems the idea of Hoppean monarchy now is at the third stage. The American Conservative is not that mainstream, but it is something.

 

Over at The Week, Matt K. Lewis is apparently frustrated at an “obsession” in the U.S. with monarchies.

Noah Millman of The American Conservative is apparently a bit angry at American monarchists (and that for him perhaps includes those who favor monarchy over democracy but do not identify as monarchists).

Mr. Millman says:

There’s a common argument that monarchies are more likely to have limited governments. I don’t see any evidence of that; rather, two hundred and fifty years ago, nearly all governments were monarchies and, at the time, all governments were much more limited than they are now. Medieval Iceland had very nearly no government at all, and it was not a monarchy. Meanwhile, the Scandinavian monarchies are not generally known for their parsimonious welfare states.

The argument is that monarchies are more likely to have limited government – or as the argument also goes; that monarchy tends to give more limited government than democracy. Attempting to disprove this with medieval Iceland and contemporary Scandinavia is rather unconvincing.

Medieval Iceland existed in a mostly monarchical world. There was no “We are the Government” illusion to the extent we have it now. Also, the parallels with modern democracy are limited at best, as Iceland had a system of chieftains. With the transition from monarchy to democracy in the world, we seem to be stuck with the confusion of the ruled and the rulers, a confusion which leads most people to believe that they participate in the rule. Hence, they allow themselves to be ruled to a much larger extent (yes, there is more to it than that, but that’s an important part of it).

As for Scandinavia, the monarchs there are very emasculated, and in this context it would be more correct to call them crowned democratic republics than monarchies. That being said, there are advantages of the typical constitutional monarchy of Europe, such as the Scandinavian monarchies and the British monarchy. I would mention the separation of the “worship of the head of state” and politics. However, you cannot have that to a large extent while still having a monarchy that substantially, in paraphrasing the Emperor Franz Joseph, protects the people from their government. This separation is what Michael Auslin of the American Enterprise Institute suggests when he proposes a First Citizen.

Monaco and Liechtenstein are the only monarchies of Europe that are relevant to the argument of monarchies producing more limited government. Granted, they are small in area size and population as well. They are still those that are relevant, and Mr. Millman chooses contemporary Scandinavia as one of only two specific examples in the entire history of the world to refute a theory of likelihood. Indeed unconvincing!

It could be that Noah Millman seriously believes that the argument is that monarchy as formal form of government per se likely gives more limited government. If so, I’d say he’s confused.

I suggest Mr. Millman has a read of Martin van Creveld’s The Rise and Decline of the State, Bertrand de Jouvenel’s On Power and Sovereignty, Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn’s Liberty or Equality, and Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s Democracy: The God That Failed. It seems he could have read none of them.

Mr. Millman goes on to, apparently, ranting against American monarchists (and other Americans favoring monarchy?) for their not understanding that monarchy is not viable in America. A lot of them do understand this. So is Noah Millman confused?

Although a monarchy for those United States is probably not viable, there are still mistakes in the Union’s history that are worth pointing out. In American mythology, George III gets a lot of the blame. However, W.E.H. Lecky wrote in his Democracy and Liberty:

The disruption of America from the British Empire was largely due to the encroachments of Parliament on the ancient prerogative of the Crown[.]

H.L. Mencken wrote (collected in A Mencken Chrestomathy):

Even the American colonies gained little by their revolt in 1776. For twenty-five years after the Revolution they were in far worse condition as free states than they would have been as colonies. Their government was more expensive, more inefficient, more dishonest, and more tyrannical. It was only the gradual material progress of the country that saved them from starvation and collapse, and that material progress was due, not to the virtues of their new government, but to the lavishness of nature. Under the British hoof they would have got on just as well, and probably a great deal better.

Mencken wrote in his Notes on Democracy:

What is too often forgotten, in discussing the matter, is the fact that no such monarch was ever actually free, at all times and under all conditions. In the midst of his most charming tyrannies he had still to bear it in mind that his people, oppressed too much, could always rise against him, and that he himself, though a king Von Gottes Gnaden was yet biologically only a man, with but one gullet to slit; and if the people were feeble or too craven to be dangerous, then there was always His Holiness of Rome to fear or other agents of the King of Kings; and if these ghostly mentors, too, were silent, then he had to reckon with his ministers, his courtiers, his soldiers, his doctors, and his women.

One of the most recent contributions to the challenging of the wisdom of the American founding is a new novel by LRC contributor Becky Akers, Abducting Arnold.

It is said that the first step is to be ignored, the second to be laughed at, and the third to be fought. It seems the idea of Hoppean monarchy now is at the third stage. The American Conservative is not that mainstream, but it is something.

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