Thursday, January 14, 2010

On Politics

One will often see Trads fetishizing political systems like Monarchism or the various manifestations of "Catholic-inspired" fascism in the 20th century, in spite of the fact that many of them would not actually enjoy living under such regimes. But, hey, let them have their mental masturbation; they need something after spending so much energy on the topic of repressing the other kind...

Of course, sane people don't hold such political views anymore, and neither do I. But, at the same time, they're so out-there as to be harmless and laughably quaint. The underlying authoritarian psychological dynamics of which they are often a manifestation, however, are more troubling for the Church. Because while trads are never going to stage a political coup, they do affect the whole milieu of the movement in favor of traditional liturgy, and they set the tone for such discussions with the wider Church, thus affecting the wider Church's perception of traditionalism (and currently, there is still a cloud of suspicion over it because of right-wing craziness).

However, all that being said, I can sympathize to a point with some of their attitudes about things like monarchism, inasmuch as they are in many ways just a knee-jerk reaction against the practical dogmatization of American-style Democracy and Capitalism by much of the modern West, including the Vatican itself seemingly (I discussed this unfortunate alliance in the context of the Cold War in my post on Globalism). Neoconservative American Catholics can be especially insistent on this point, and have clearly swallowed wholesale the bizarre confluence of Classical Liberalism and American Fundamentalist Protestantism which is the flavor of modern American right-wing "patriotism" (ie, nationalism), extending to near canonization of the US Constitution and the American Way. For some reason, though this position is just as insane and laughably unrealistic as Monarchism or Fascism...it is considered eminently sane by mainstream society.

Though I am in some ways extremely interested in politics inasmuch as I am so frustrated with how idiotic, corrupt, and exploitative the discourse has become...I have recently become extremely apathetic. I'll do my civic duty and vote. But I don't really care about having all the Cable News style "debates" anymore with people. There is no real analysis of the issues or outside the box thinking anymore, just a war of one-liners and soundbites and media spin. Thoughtful and creative conversations on the topic...are rare, and require extremely intelligent company. And, lately, if I find such company...I'm unlikely to risk ruining it by getting into something as pointless as a debate on politics.

I'll support Pro-Life causes. How can I not? But I fear that the Republicans in America are simply using that issue to attract a lot of single-issue voters (and how can we not be when babies are being murdered? Nothing else really matters as long as that's happening). I worry that they don't really want abortion to end, because then they'd lose a huge chunk of their constituency who are only voting for them, reluctantly, because of that one issue. Who (like me) might otherwise vote Democrat or (even better) actually risk supporting Third Parties. But Third Parties will only become viable if people are willing to "throw their vote away" on them for a few elections until they gain legitimacy and traction. And as long as abortion is still on the table...I don't feel that I can in good conscience "waste" my vote on a Third Party like that when it means, in terms of relative effect, giving one more vote to the pro-choice party.

I'm also still enthusiastic about the message of Social Credit and the philosophy behind it, something I'll discuss in a later post. But I see that really as an economic/financial position, not a "political" one (though the absolutely idiotic ways that Politics have handled economics/finance...makes me really mad). In fact, I believe that such a system would take away a lot of the leverage politicians and their puppet-masters currently have; there is nothing they love more than scarcity and inequality with which to manipulate people and set them against one another.

In general, though, I care less and less about political questions. Back when I was a neoconservative Catholic, I had my stint as a big defender of the status quo. During my brief period after first discovering traditionalism as a crazy radical...I had an ardent monarchist period.

But I came to realize that the structure of the political system really doesnt matter. There are pros and cons to democracy, aristocracy, and autocracy...and as Aquinas said, a Mixed System probably is best. But, even more important than that, I realized that no Constitution, no political structure...is ever going to guarantee a lack of oppression and exploitation unless their is a strong Civil Society and material prosperity. And if there is...pretty much any system could be in place and work just fine.

This idea that "democracy" guarantees freedom or peace or justice is ridiculous. Our current political situation is a mockery, and American Hegemony is the cause of the exploitation and oppression and degradation of many people around the world (and here at home, including spiritually through consumerist decadence). Though since it is accomplished through indirect "economic" means (neo-liberalism, structural adjustment, the World Bank and IMF, etc) you will have a hard time convincing simple minds of this fact. In some ways, though they often tend way too far to the conspiracy theory side of the spectrum, I think trads have actually been pretty good about not buying into the whole American Imperialism thing. Though there are Hawks out there who make me sick.

The fact that we kill all sorts of people and destroy infrastructure and send a country into chaos in a war to topple a dictator (almost always there in the first place because of us anyway) and replace him with a weak democracy that is then subserviently tributary to us...is hardly liberation.
Really, it's just another evil project of the Military-Industrial complex. And an attempt to ensure continued hegemony by "protecting the world" from the possibility that any nation in the future will ever develop weapons powerful enough to resist said hegemony and the current balance of power. It's a sort of hypocritical construct: the nations already in power can "be trusted with" nuclear weapons because we are already in power so would "obviously" only ever use them "justly," to "ensure order" (read: to stop any threats to our power). Whereas other countries "aren't allowed" to have nuclear weapons because they "can't be trusted" not to use them "unjustly," for "rogue purposes" (read: to attempt to threaten our power over them). So the game is fixed, as it were. Of course, nukes are bad in general, so I'd rather no one have them...

At the same time, trad romanticizations of the glories of feudalism, or absolutism, or fascism...are nuts too. Authoritarian regimes are not pleasant to live under for mature independent personalities. One of the big problems with Hegemony is that the hegemon effectively acts as the King-Nation in the world (even if they are internally domestically democratic). Domestic political structure doesn't really matter today in terms of oppression or exploitation; it's a question of the economic role of the nation as a whole in the World System. To continue the example from above, the core States have a monopoly on nuclear weapons internationally in the same way the State has a monopoly on Force domestically (so much for the sovereignty of other countries!) Even though those core states are mostly democracies internally, on the world stage they form a sort of aristocracy ruling over the others (through financial instruments when possible, through force only when necessary; just like the State internally). The point is, idealizing Dominance and Power and Authority...is not the recipe for peace or prosperity. The sort of censorship, thought-control, and religious coercion that trads seem to imagine the State should accomplish...is twisted and should be opposed by any free-thinking individualist (though a confessional state could exist and financially support the Church without, at the same time, oppressing others).

What I've come to realize really matters is the strength of Civil Society. Of those voluntary bonds and relationships and associations not based on the force-backed structures of the State or commercial interests of the market. The Church, the family, and personal friendships primary among them. Only a strong and prosperous network of personal bonds can guarantee the rule of law, peace, justice, and human dignity.

The USA and Western European countries could become monarchies today, and nothing would really change. The Presidency could become hereditary, or the Queen could be given actual executive powers again...and they wouldn't dare push their luck too far in terms of attempts at oppression, because it would still be impossible politically for them to succeed in doing so. The President might not fear impeachment through official legal channels, but that his term would be officially unlimited and that he would have theoretical control of the military and such...wouldn't really matter. Because those with money would be able to oppose him on an unofficial level. People would just refuse to listen to him because Americans are relatively materially comfortable as it is; it is only scarcity that leads people to go along with exploiting others. Otherwise, it just isn't worth the effort.

Similarly, just because you have an army, doesn't mean it will obey you. Though the resocialization of soldiers to make them more pliable and obedient is troubling, I'd still like to think that many would refuse to participate in any sort of wide-scale oppression of American citizens just because an Authority told them to. Because of Civil Society. Because they have families and friends and neighbors they care for who are outside the structure of the military, as well as enough material security already to make promises of pillage not worth the effort. Such outside ties would hopefully ground them more in the common good (as opposed to self-serving plundering) and outweigh their ties to the military authority structure.

Broad networks of positive personal relationships are the best remedy against oppression and war. The broader the better. The fewer people that the Powers That Be can convince you are "others" or "outsiders" or "the enemy"...the less they will be able to get you to agree with participating in their exploitation or dehumanization. Though sadly the modern narrative spin of "liberation" wars tries to use this very pan-human attitude for its own evil ends, exploiting people's empathy and ignorance by claiming the wars are to "help" poor oppressed peoples.

The reverse is also true; a dictatorship in Africa or Latin America could be replaced by the externals of a Democracy tomorrow, and it would be no guarantee of freedom or happiness for the people. Elected leaders can oppress just as much as hereditary ones, and if they can get the army and police to obey them, the fact that there is a "constitutional" process to remove them from power means little. They can ignore it if they can promise the military and other instruments of the State's monopoly on violence that they will benefit from following the leader. Such a situation is usually only true, however, where scarcity exists and the promise of a better position in life can be used as an incentive for the soldiers to obey. If, however, there is already prosperity, and if the soldiers have a strong enough network of civil ties outside the military institution...the incentive won't be there to go along with the plans of a bad leader.

This is why authoritarian States attempt not only maintain a monopoly on Force, on pain, but also are concerned with regulating pleasure. It initially surprised me to learn that an officially atheist state like Communist China...is apparently quite draconian when it comes to censoring pornography. I wondered why; it's not like they could have a religious objection. But some research into sociology revealed why it is nevertheless seen as subversive. And that, of course, is because it provides a source of pleasure outside the regulated channels of the controlled-society. Not that I'm advocating pornography, lol, but the point is that authoritarian governments like that are uncomfortable with private sources of personal pleasure exactly because in order to control people most effectively, they want to be in charge of the major Rewards as well as the major Punishments. To them, pleasure/happiness must be institutionalized as much as pain/force.

The obsessive concern of authoritarian personalities with the private sexual goings-on of other people (which I think mature adults should consider to be the business of the person and their confessor/spiritual director, no one else's) is based on similar principles. Except for the recent and still minor trend of raising children in a Self-Actualizing way (more info here), parents throughout history have attempted to control or "train" their children through punishment and reward. The idea that someone might discover that they can derive great pleasure from their own body and from the company of others...is extremely threatening to authority, and to repressed people afraid of the power of their own body and own emotions as the source of both potential pleasure and pain. Authority wants people to be forced to seek satisfaction in approved channels of obedience (or consumerist expenditures), and seeks to stigmatize unofficial sources with fear and guilt. As I mentioned when discussing the movie Pleasantville in an earlier post...personal repression often spills into wider political oppression.

So I am ambivalent about political system, democratic or monarchical. No political system or constitution guarantees justice in itself better than any other. What matters is having a prosperous citizenry with strong civil ties and values and healthy interpersonal relationships and intrapersonal attitudes. Only that will guarantee peace, order, freedom, further prosperity, and the common good.

Now, some might argue that a democratic structure is a better at building Civil bonds inasmuch as it encourages collective action and networking and cooperation as a necessary part of the political process, and foments a sense of personal investment in society through its broad distribution of political power. Then again, others might argue that this only has the effect of inserting the State and its questions into peoples lives more entrenchedly, as well as opening a door for special-interest groups to manipulate the process. But, I think these are discussions that can be had without demagogically dogmatizing either democracy or monarchy as intrinsically and incomparably superior.

To make an esoteric confession, I will admit that, as a medievalist by education and a romantic at heart...I do have a soft-spot for romanticized monarchy in a purely aesthetic way. The history, the tradition, the regalia, the symbolism, the pomp...are more magnificent and beautiful than the bureaucracy of men-in-suits, committees, and paper-work that form the bland Norman Rockwell aesthetics of American democracy. And the fact that monarchy superficially resembles the cosmic order better; though I think that has sometimes backfired for religion, such as during the French Revolution, when people lashed out against it because of the mental and emotional association between the authority of God and the Church, and the excesses of the monarchy which had enforced it. Perhaps the mixed-system of the British represents a good compromise. Their monarchy has no practical power, but acts as a symbolic Head for the nation, and is able to preserve the splendor and highest traditions of their culture's history which would be unsustainable for the nation as a whole. But, then, I'm an Anglophile (as English-speakers should be...the very language our thoughts are encoded in...carries with it the baggage of that whole history and culture).

That being said, however, that I think it is a huge waste of time to expend mental energy on some delusional fantasy of overhauling the entire current system, rather than trying to work within it to deconstruct the exploitative dynamics and build the sorts of civil ties and healthy attitudes I was talking about.

25 comments:

Leah said...

I think any attempts at trying to establish a modern day monarchy would resemble Saudi Arabia, in that it would combine the worst aspects of both medeval governance systems and the modern welfare state. The argument that people living under ancient monarchical governments had more personal freedom is also false. While it is true that the centralized government was not directly intervening into their lives the way it does now, this is because there was no modern bueracracy and the accompanying levels of middle men. This is why Tsarist Russia had so much trouble modernizing, because centralized authority had to be established in places where none had existed for thousands of years. In reality, many "traditional" societies legislate what kinds of clothes people of a certain status can wear, who can own land (and how much of it), and other minutiae that modern Westerners would find intolerable. I would be interested to hear your take on the fascination with neo-Confederatism (i.e., the belief that the Old South was the only places where "traditional Catholicism" could have taken root) among certain traditionalists. As a black person, I personally find this trend intolerable, although I don't know how widespread it is.

Anonymous said...

You mean traditional Catholics aren't required to become Jacobites? Weird...

Anyway, this (decidedly non-Catholic) guy offers a pretty good critique about why democracy really is lousy http://unqualified-reservations.blogspot.com/

But you're right. Render unto Caesar etc. Catholics should concern themselves with their heart and personal sphere.

A Sinner said...

Leah, I find the Neo-Confederatism among trads to be likewise bizarre. But I suppose it has something to do with their agrarian, authoritarian, patriarchal fantasy about the "traditional simple life".

Though I'm not going to romanticize the North as heroic or pure in motive either.

Abolitionism for the sake of human freedom and happiness was not the real purpose of that war, as much as it may have served as potent propaganda.

In reality, the American Civil War was simply the first of many wars in which the USA has engaged to enforce an economic Structural Adjustment more favorable to it.

But, the side-effect of freeing slaves was obviously good, as American race-based chattel slavery was extremely abusive and I have no sympathy for the Southern attitudes that would have maintained it.

Perhaps you can give me some input on Traditionalism and minority racial and ethnic groups.

I'm just a white guy, but LOTS of the people who are contacting me in support of "renegade traditionalism"...are non-whites.

Part of what I am against, of course, is the implicit Eurocentrism and crypto-racism that seems to pervade traditionalism (and even just conservatism in general).

Being a black person, perhaps you could provide some perspective on how racial and ethnic minorities feel in the "trad" movement, which seems to be a largely white (and more male than female, interestingly) phenomenon.

I'm under the impression from my contacts recently that many are disaffected by the pressure to culturally assimilate (though some, apparently, have submitted willingly and so espouse culturally alienated positions).

I would be really interested to hear your experiences and feelings on that whole matter. I would really appreciate it if you would email me: renegadetrad@gmail.com

The Harlequin King said...

That was a fascinating critique of the extreme authoritarian views that some groups of trads have.

I consider myself a monarchist and a medieval romanticist, but I find the arguments that monarchists make in favour of kings.... usually frustrating. As if a reasonable monarchy could be created in the aftermath of a second American Revolution by a committee of utopian founding fathers, just as easily as the republic was.

A Sinner said...

I certainly hear you when it comes to medieval romanticism. AESTHETICALLY, that's what I'm all about too. But the whole point of romanticism is that it is, well, romanticizing. Applied to the temporal world, it's a beautiful lie.

My fantasies of beauty definitely live in that same Victorian neo-Medieval dreamland...but when it comes to practical reality, to things that actually affect peoples lives in a concrete way, I think we have to get our heads out of those clouds.

For every white fop sipping tea out of fine bone china in Victorian England, there were brown people starving to death in the tea fields of the Dutch East Indies to provide it for him. A thought perhaps particularly poignant to you.

Have you ever read Wilde's Fairy Tales? Specifically "The Young Prince"? It touches on a similar theme (http://www.artpassions.net/wilde/young_king.html)

Mark of the Vineyard said...

Hm, it really does seem that we have started at opposing extremes and met midway...

Theodore Harvey said...

I found this post both offensive and sad. Offensive because you blithely dismiss monarchists like me as "insane." And sad because you obviously come closer than many others to "getting it" and yet refuse to join us, perhaps because monarchism is too far out of the mainstream for you to bear.

For the record, I am an Episcopalian, not a Roman Catholic, and after starting out quite well disposed to the traditionalist Catholic movement (SSPX) was driven away by what I suspect is some of the same traditionalist narrowness of which you are critical. So I cannot be written off as yet another "rad trad." But I remain passionately committed to monarchism--which after all is just as suited to Anglicanism as to Catholicism, if not even more so--and on good terms with many Catholic monarchists, and I don't see what they have done to deserve having their sanity questioned. Indeed it is my experience that at traditionalist chapels it is often the monarchists, deep in history and free of 1950s Americanism, who are the most interesting, the most fun, the most level-headed, and the least guilty of puritanical and neurotic attitudes.

The claim that we monarchists unrealistically seek to transform the present-day USA into a monarchy is simply untrue in my case. For me, being a monarchist means supporting the real monarchical traditions of countries that have them, with the result that I am frankly much more interested in the affairs of other countries than in the one where I happen to live. Neither I nor the Catholic Monarchists I know demand that "the USA" become a Catholic Monarchy; we do advocate that France, Brazil, Portugal, Austria, etc. become Catholic Monarchies. Restoration movements exist in all of those countries and they deserve support and respect, no matter how small. I hope you can see the difference.

As an Anglican monarchist, I am especially concerned about the preservation of the monarchies of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth Realms--nothing fantastical about that since they are very much still around. But my historical and political sympathies are firmly with the monarchies of every country, and I see no reason to be ashamed of that or of insisting on the legitimacy of the same aesthetic considerations you concede.

I invite you to visit my blog and website to discover that sane people can and do hold serious monarchist views in the 21st century.

A Sinner said...

It depends what you mean. People who advocate maintaining (or even restoring) something like the British Monarchy...I do support on the grounds of preserving the high-culture of a nation and its best traditions.

But they're figureheads. It should have nothing to do with actual government.

Theodore Harvey said...

Why? I support both kinds of monarchies and will gladly take a symbolic monarchy over no monarchy at all. But I also would support, if possible, a monarchy that actually governed the country, and am not convinced that democratic elections or any other system are likely to produce better leadership in the long term than hereditary succession. I believe ideally in a monarchy that is neither "absolute" nor a mere "figurehead," but rather takes its part in governing the country in combination with aristocracy, Church, and perhaps popularly elected officials & legislators as well especially at the local level.

http://www.royaltymonarchy.com/opinion/ideology2.html

http://www.royaltymonarchy.com/opinion/choice.html

A Sinner said...

Well, I sympathize, you're certainly free to argue for that. I just wonder if you even read my whole post beyond the first couple paragraphs.

The whole point of my post is, of course, that I think dogmatizing this or that system as if any are inherently superior...is needless. Turning something into ideology that should be pragmatic. That I am ambivalent about which structure of government is used because what really matters is the justice and strength of civil society.

But it goes both ways. I say quite clearly that I believe the ideology surrounding structure of government is a pitfall both for the narrative of democracy/freedom and monarchy/tradition.

I don't think it is a particularly helpful thing to actively promote the non-mainstream position in the modern world, though. It will mainly just cause you to be dismissed as an esotericist, as much as an ideological Republican would have been ridiculed in the Middle Ages. For something that really doesn't matter, it is not worth it to expend credibility on.

Theodore Harvey said...

Yes, I read the whole thing; in fact it was your second-to-last paragraph that I found the most frustrating and maddening of all. Because you clearly grasp the potential aesthetic appeal of monarchy yet reject monarchism for fear of being seen as "esoteric." And that in my book is incomprehensible and shameful, more infuriating than the blindness of those fully indoctrinated with Americanism.

I cannot be ideologically neutral about forms of government because it is only monarchy that appeals to me, monarchy that fascinates me, and monarchy that inspires me. I find presidential elections and modern democracy in general totally alienating and unsatisfactory. Perhaps you know what I mean--but your "solution" seems to be that nothing is really that great. If the present system is not working, if the modern American-dominated "West" is far from the apotheosis of civilization that neocons imagine, is it not logical to conclude that something went badly wrong a long time ago (say, the late 18th century) and propose something better?

I know monarchists like me are very much in the minority today, but I see no reason for that to stop me--after all, so are traditional Catholics of any stripe, "renegade" or otherwise. While I always hope to win over others to my views, I will persevere regardless of how eccentric, esoteric or "unhelpful" they are perceived. Republicanism will never assimilate me, and it will never command my loyalty or affection! And I have little patience with those who clearly sense that there is something in what we monarchists say but persist in condemning us as cranks anyway.

Theodore Harvey said...

Also, there is no need to reach back the "Middle Ages" to try to comprehend what I am defending. While I do love the Middle Ages, with the sole exception of France the European political order was acceptable to me as recently as a hundred years ago, as I think it would be to most monarchists. And nothing I believe was not perfectly mainstream before World War I.

A Sinner said...

"Because you clearly grasp the potential aesthetic appeal of monarchy yet reject monarchism for fear of being seen as 'esoteric.'"

Yes. Because "aesthetic appeal" is neither here nor there when it comes to good government. Liturgy, yes. Some sort of figurehead ceremonial pomp of the State, maybe. But not actual decision making.

"And that in my book is incomprehensible and shameful, more infuriating than the blindness of those fully indoctrinated with Americanism."

This sort of strong emotion (or rather, the language of strong emotion) on an issue that, for those alive today, is entirely an abstract theoretical...is one of the reasons that people would be inclined to dismiss monarchists.

Americanists' attachment to the current Democracy is likewise wrong, but at least it can be explained as commitment to what they know and feel is working for them in some way.

Ideological monarchists, on the other hand, have no personal experience of the actual system in place up to the 19th century. So they always strike me as in "bad faith." I can never tell if they're being serious, or just provocatively play-acting to shock and (ironically) assert their modern American-style individualism. And I don't know which would be scarier.

"I cannot be ideologically neutral about forms of government because it is only monarchy that appeals to me, monarchy that fascinates me, and monarchy that inspires me."

Again, terrible reasons to actually support a government system. A good reason to become a historian, maybe. Even to be what might more appropriately be termed a royalist-hobbyist. But not actual support of Monarchy as somehow a better decision-making apparatus.

"If the present system is not working, if the modern American-dominated "West" is far from the apotheosis of civilization that neocons imagine, is it not logical to conclude that something went badly wrong a long time ago (say, the late 18th century) and propose something better?"

The problem isn't with the political order, though. That's the sort of soft-utopianism that is the mistake of both sides.

"Republicanism will never assimilate me, and it will never command my loyalty or affection! And I have little patience with those who clearly sense that there is something in what we monarchists say but persist in condemning us as cranks anyway."

And it's this sort of talk that makes us persist in condemning you as cranks anyway. This sounds like nothing more than esoteric defiant-non-conformism combined with a paradoxical intolerance.

Anonymous said...

I am largely in agreement with the author: the actual form of government is a completely secondary consideration. Moreover, in accordance with St. Thomas Aquinas' teachings, a government that incorporates monarchal, aristocratic, and democratic elements (which is, in fact, the classical definition of a Republic) may, in fact, be the best form of government.

My observation of monarchism, as it pertains to most (though not all) those who claim to be traditional Catholics is that it (monarchism) has become a form of idolatry. In effect, and despite protests to the contrary, the form of government becomes more important than the Faith of the people comprising the nation or nations thereby governed. I offer as evidence the fact that most traditional Catholic monarchists will support anti-Catholic monarchies (and make common cause with anti-Catholic monarchists), but condemn Republican forms of government which permit them to practice their Faith in a more or less unrestricted manner. The principle, when you sift through the nonsense, appears to be: 'Well, at least there is a king instead of a president.'

That is to say, in the monarchist construct, the Faith becomes a secondary consideration.

(I hadnt thought to tie the term 'mental masturbation' to the cause of traditional Catholic monarchism: I'd rather considered it a form of circular masturbation that included, not surprisingly, anti-Catholics. Kick over nearly any traditionalist Catholic monarchist rock, and inevitably, anti-Catholics will scuttle out from beneath, fleeing towards the shadows.)

Moreover, one cannot help but notice that, in this day and age of easy travel and material abundance, most traditional Catholic monarchists of the American variety appear quite content to enjoy the protection of American Republican armed forces and the material abundance of the American Capitalistic economy. There is always some reason why they will avoid moving to an actual monarchy and supporting it with their blood and treasure. They are, therefore, delusional and hypocritical, and their position is laughable.


Publius

Theodore Harvey said...

As an Anglican who accepts modern constitutional monarchies as valid (though not ideal) and would love to have Queen Elizabeth II as my sovereign, I freely admit that in principle I should probably immigrate to the United Kingdom or perhaps Canada. Maybe someday. However, that does not apply to traditional Catholic monarchists, who generally envision a type of monarchy that cannot be found anywhere in the world today, with a Catholic King who actually governs the country and is not a mere figurehead. The Principality of Liechtenstein probably comes the closest but--quite properly--does not exactly take a lot of immigrants. Most traditional Catholic monarchists presumably have in mind something like the Austro-Hungarian Empire, or ancien regime France. It's hardly fair to blame them for failing to pack up and move to a polity that no longer exists. For the most part, Eurocentric monarchists who happen to have been born in the United States stay here not only because it's convenient to do so but because the Europe we love has been destroyed--thanks in part to Woodrow Wilson and his "American [r]epublican armed forces." Nothing hypocritical about that.

Anonymous said...

The point to this post, indeed of this entire blog (unless I'm mistaken) is to comment on matters as they pertain to traditional Catholics. Whatever a member of an heretical or schismatic sect does is, largely, not a concern to Catholics unless those Catholics are trying to convert the heretics or restore the schismatics to unity with the Church. At least, that's what the Church taught traditionally.

In other words, the point is the Faith; and in this case, it is the idolatrous focus of many traditional Catholics upon one form of government that leads to (at best) fetishism and (at worst) religious indifferentism.

In any case, there are Catholic monarchies extant in the world. The problem is that most traditional Catholics who consider themselves "monarchists" don't "like" them. I.e., they imagine them not to be "Catholic enough", or that their thrones are held by the wrong branch of some formerly royal family, or that they "tolerate Republicanism", etc. Again, excuses. Always a reason to not actually do anything that would demonstrate the courage of their convictions.

If traditional Catholic monarchists truly meant what they say they appear to mean, they would leave what many describe and condemn as the "intolerable", "illegitimate" American Republic, go find some Catholic kingdom or principality somewhere, and work towards the kingship of Christ in an actual monarchy.

But, they don't. They just stick around and complain, without offering viable solutions; and yet they enjoy the blessings of the Liberty that is provided to them by others, and that they condemn in some vague, theoretical manner.

Not only is it fickle and hypocritical: it is parasitic and disloyal.


Publius

Will2010 said...

I think what the author is forgetting is that it is possible for a head of state to be primarily a figurehead, but still hold some reserve powers. Normally these powers would be appointing the prime minister or possibly withholding or delaying consent to an unconstitutional bill. Most of the time they would not have to use these powers but if they did, a monarch who has been prepared for this since childhood, who has had it drummed into them that they must not allow their personal political beliefs to sway them, who owes no one for their current position, is more likely to do what is best for the country, or what is constitutionally correct, than a President, who is more likely to favour his own views (even surreptitiously), might owe one party for his election or who has his eye on re-election. Of course the actual government would be still elected. That for me, is the best system, and I would like to remind the author that to class a person as being insane for holding beliefs that you do not agree with is the antithesis of democracy. Monarchy and democracy are not enemies, and a balance, such as the one I have just mentioned, can be reached. Also we have to remember that in the the pre-20th century world restrictions on personal freedom were just ecxcepted as a fact of life and was not inexerably tied to monarchy.

A Sinner said...

Hey, I'm letting them say it. Their bizarre ramblings provide all the more proof of what I'm saying.

I don't disagree with anything you've said about mixed government. The whole point of the post (the other half, the half you're ignoring) is that I think ideological adherence to republicanism is likewise crazy, because this is a pragmatic question, not an ideological one, and that form of government actually matters little if civil society is strong.

I do not call them insane because they hold beliefs I disagree with. Rather, I think they're crazy because in the real world, a world where it isn't 1789 anymore, where circumstances have changed...those ideas are...well, let's say, quixotic. AT BEST.

Will2010 said...

In terms of wishing the return absolute monarchy you're right, and I recognize the truth in your argument that strict ideological adherence to one system of government as foolish, what annoys me is the idea that many have that monarchy cannot even be considered a viable method of picking the head of state any more. Though I believe they should maintain democracy as well, I think nations like France, Portugal, Germany, Russia, Brazil and Italy etc. would be better off as moarchies, and certainly be more interesting.

Mark of the Vineyard said...

Not to sound nasty, but perhaps before one suggests that it would make a country interesting to have a certain form of government it would not be a bad idea to have an idea of just what it's like to live in said country. Believe me when I say that one of those countries you mentioned is already "interesting" enough as it is.

A Sinner said...

And, more to the point, picking a form of government because it makes things "interesting"...is crazy.

Grace Potts said...

Terrific post - thank you.

I do have a question though - any ideas about how to get out of this chicken-egg situation with the Republicans and Third Parties vis-a-vis pro-life issues?

Any thoughts folks have are most welcome. Because as far as I can tell, voting for Republicans pretty much insures that abortions remain legal: it's their golden goose for votes in tough races... I'm fairly confident they wil _never_ sacrifice that goose. But to not vote for them is voting for pro-choicers; so what to do?

A Sinner said...

Well, I think I'll do a brief post on that today. Suffice it to say, if you find yourself in a situation where voting for the Republican would be throwing your vote away just as much as for a Third Party (this became evident in the McCain-Obama election, where it was very clear days or weeks in advance that Obama had the votes he needed to win), then you might as well pick the Third Party at that point.

I wish the Church would support or form a Third Party, that could really give it legitimacy.

Joe Hargrave said...

Sir,

You and I think alike. A lot alike, and I would invite you to read the last two posts at my personal blog, which ought to be linked through my name.

My one criticism is that I am not quite ready to go as far as you in your rather... harsh language against other trads, even if I think the essence of your point is correct. They're coping as best they can with the madness of the modern world.

I agree with you whole-heartedly that a change in political forms at the highest levels means very little, when it is the content of men's hearts and the organic social bonds established by God that need to be repaired.

I believe the first Chapter of Isaias could be read to the entire Church (and all society), from the trad end of the spectrum to the radical sexual revolution/liberation theology end. God is always equally insistent that his people must reject ALL social injustices, which means not only a rejection of material injustice but also of perversion.

Anyway, it is great to make the acquaintance of another independent-minded young Catholic traditionalist. I hope you'll check out some of my own ramblings and drop me an email if you feel so inclined. God Bless,

Joe Hargrave

Theodore Harvey said...

What's particularly ridiculous about all this is the way you people seem to think that rejecting monarchism is part of what makes you "independent-minded," as if you're bravely standing up against some monolithic monarchist consensus among traditional Catholics. Please. The fact is that it is monarchists who are a tiny besieged minority today, even in traditional Catholic circles (as I found out when I used to participate in trad forums). In the context of the 21st century, it surely demonstrates more independence of mind to declare oneself a monarchist than to be a republican (or whatever term you prefer).