A Final Thought on Monarchies and Republics (For Now)

First off, I’d like to note that Mr. Wright apologized. Of course I accepted; it would have been petty not to. So I move on from animosity.

Now, onward and upward. I said this:

There is a difference in the forms of government, namely, in how the authority is chosen and how laws are made. I just don’t think that:

1) A monarchy is an invalid way of choosing an authority

2) Being the subject of a monarch is inherently worse than being the citizen of a republic

Mr. Wright responded with this:

Here we disagree. There are corrupt republics and good monarchies, especially when restrained by a constitution, by it is precisely in their essence that even a bad republic is good, because no bloody revolt is needed to change an unpopular leadership, and even a good king is bad, because it rests on the notion of the legal inequality of man. It is like the difference between being a poor free man and a rich and highly placed slave in the Imperial court.

Monarchy is not an invalid way to chose a leader because no choice is involved.

Instead civil war and bloodshed is involved every time you switch dynasties, because to choose the monarch is treason — and that is just in England which is remarkably more civil and polite about their changes of monarch than any other nation I know.

Let’s start off with this: I know Zippy, for one, among others, contests Mr. Wright’s claims on the superiority of a republic in the changing of leadership. But let us grant him the point; it does not change my argument one whit.

Mr. Wright then says that even a good king is bad because his kingship rests on the notion of the legal inequality of man. Of course – I never said otherwise as far as I can remember. In fact, I explicitly stated it. I just don’t see how that fact makes a good king bad.

Mr. Wright took this to mean that I genuinely believe that some men are born to lead and some to serve. I do not believe that; I merely believe, as a matter of fact, that some men are born into positions of leadership – this does not inherently make them better leaders, and in any case not all monarchies go through the family line anyway.

What makes a monarch a monarch is very simple: The monarch is the head of state and holds the majority of the power within the government.  He becomes a figurehead when this is no longer the case. The position is for life under normal circumstances (when the king does not abdicate the throne or go against certain constitutional laws that would require him to forfeit his power). I don’t think it’s more complex then that. Monarchies are not necessarily hereditary, though they often are.

Mr. Wright then says that no choice is involved in the choosing of a monarch. But of course there is, by the nobles if nobody else. Not that they have the power to pick among a group, but they do need to respect the basic rules of succession of the monarchy, or else the whole thing will fall apart.

Right: Now that that I’ve said that piece, here are general feelings on the matter.

When I think of the concept of the figurehead monarchy, I have to believe that Mr. Wright has the concept all wrong. Consider: The queen of England has virtually no actual powers. She is certainly not a monarch in anything but name. She was not elected into her position and cannot be elected out of it. There is no threat of death if you insult the queen of England.

And yet, despite all of that, consider: People still bow to the queen. They still kneel. They still celebrate her birthday, and call her majesty and sire, and the British still have a special guard set up specifically for the royal family. According to Mr. Wright, this makes them slaves in spirit, pathetic, cowardly.

I know this is not an argument, but I find it hard – very hard – to believe that the heirs of the British Empire, the noble people whose very legends are intertwined with tales of the perfect earthly king, who also have a parliament, and elected officials, are slaves in spirit.

I cannot – simply cannot – believe that a knight of King Arthur, one of his steadfast champions, is in the same position as that of the household slave because he pledges fealty and loyalty to the king.

I am reading the Pendragon Cycle right now. The good guys, the ones we like – they’re the ones who bow to Arthur. Who sometimes prostrate themselves. Who put his foot on their neck. And somehow, when I read these gestures I am not revolted. Just the opposite: I am inspired. THESE are real men! These are warriors! This is no argument, I know, but if these men were really, truly slaves, are they good role models? I think they are. There is either some cognitive dissonance within me – certainly possible – or perhaps something else going on.

Slaves? Slaves?!? Knights who served in the Crusades, slaves?  The average British citizen who bends the knee to a woman with no real power to punish him otherwise, a slave? To the contrary: He is making the free decision to humble himself before an authority higher than he. That the authority is earthly is of little consequence to the fact that she is an authority.

Do I think citizens should be killed for lese majeste? No. Do I think one should not doff their hat to the king if the penalty is death? No.

So, I am not a monarchist, even after all of this, but I’m not really a republican either. I’m a nothing. I am learning. As of now I am the citizen of a republic, and I have no qualms with the lucky nation where I was born. Don’t get me wrong – in many ways we are wicked. But considering the alternatives possible to me, I am still grateful I live here.

So that’s it, for now, on my blog. I have already responded some more on the thread. I reserve the right to change my mind about this whenever I want to. Hey, it’s my blog.

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1 Response to A Final Thought on Monarchies and Republics (For Now)

  1. Chad says:

    His errors rest on two things.

    First, not everyone is created equal. All are not equal in God’s eyes. The saints are not equal, Mary is not equal, thei hierarchy is not equal. The beginning and end of human equality is that we are each equally worthy of salvation, and equal as being man, a creature with God’s image imprinted upon us. But not all men are equal in any other aspect of their God given facilities, bodily strengths, nor their temporal belongings, or any position given at birth (even if not a king, a son of a cobbler or smith is still their son and such comes with inherit blessings and crosses). Nor are all opinions are equal, as with many things there is no opinion, but only truth, and men’s abilities to discern the truth rests upon the above inequalities.

    Thus, a system of government that rejects a lie that all men are equal or all opinions equal is perfectly valid in its authority over men.

    Second, he is false in believing that even bad kings are not there due to God. All authority coming from God, even a man bad at ruling, yet a man of Good Will, will rule according to God as an article of Faith. For God, the source of all authority, of all blessings, and all stations due to birth, has put a king there that he may rule as he is able, and show God’s glory in his continued blessing of the country and power to continue in prosperity, or showing the power of continuing in face of trials, regardless of the individual ruler. As far as men of bad will ruling; history has shown the inevitable fate of such persons, governments, and dynasties. They convert or pass away. As Catholics we should look forward to either. It is a chance to show God’s glory by baptism of a country by the blood of martyrdom.

    We win, eirher way.

    I grow weary of Catholics always arguing based on temporal practicality, and never verging into the spiritual. One of the best things I’ve read is Zippys posts against always seeking the best practical and efficient things of this world, as doing so forgets God, His kingdom, His Church, and His ways. Zippy gave words to the instructions and longings written in my soul

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