Monday, November 7, 2016

Consider a monarchy? We did and said "No thanks"

According to the diary of Dr. James McHenry who, at age 33, was one of the youngest participants in the Constitutional convention, upon leaving Constitution Hall on the final day of the convention, Benjamin Franklin was asked by a certain Mrs. Powell, "Well, doctor, what have we got? A republic or a monarchy?" To which Franklin replied, "A republic, madam - if you can keep it."

On the eve of this tumultuous election I think it remains a big "if" unless we begin to do the work required of citizens of a free republic. One way to do this is by rejecting oligarchy. The most obvious manifestation of this in our time is Bushes and Clintons running to succeed each other. Are we Perón's Argentina? Do we really desire to become a Banana Republic? In my view, another way to resist oligarchy is to break the two party duopoly, especially given that some 60% U.S. of citizens admit neither party represents their views or interests, thus making us agents of our own repression.

Yesterday's New York Times featured a piece by Nikolai Tolstoy, who serves as chancellor of the International Monarchist League (such a league could certainly not have something as lowly as a chairman), in which he argued that the United States of America should consider establishing a monarchy. His argument struck me as rather convoluted and his examples cherry-picked. Perhaps the best argument against Tolstoy's case for monarchy is that constitutional monarchies didn't spare many European countries ceding their sovereignty to the E.U., of which Queen Elizabeth II is merely a citizen. Is this the French Revolution succeeding by other means? The folly of this was highlighted in an article featured in the current edition of The New Criterion by British MEP Daniel Hannan, who was driving force behind the Brexit vote: "Populism, III: Insects of the hour."

George Washington, by John Faed

Tolstoy invoked the decision by Truman and MacArthur not to oust Emperor Hirohito at the end of World War II as a tacit acknowledgement that monarchy is the best form of government. It really serves no such purpose. It was an exercise in the kind of pragmatism missing from our recent Iraqi, Afghani, Libyan, and Syrian adventures. Churchill's blaming Hitler on the U.S. is laughable. Let's talk about Treaty of Versailles, which the U.S. Senate refused to ratify, forcing us to make a separate peace with Germany. In addition to being opposed to joining the League of Nations on the grounds it would negatively impact U.S. sovereignty, some thought it too punitive and counterproductive, which it turned out to be.

Tolstoy cites Edmund Burke in favor of monarchy. But he leaves out that Burke argued in favor of granting the American colonists representation in Parliament, a move that more than likely would've avoided the American Revolution. One might ask, where was the wisdom and saving grace of monarchy when that reasonable argument was made? Our own history, including the madness of King George (a great movie, by-the-way, is The Madness of King George with Nigel Hawthorne playing King George III), remains the best argument against a monarchy.

Of course, George Washington vehemently declined to be crowned king. When he voluntarily left office after serving two terms as president, no less than King George III said he had "the greatest character of the age." I am not a thorough-going republican. In other words, I don't favor the abolition of British, Spanish, Belgian, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, or Thai monarchies. But the United States was founded as a republic and can only be true to itself by remaining one.

A monarchy? If you're a U.S. citizen, be a patriot and perish the thought. Then get to work keeping our republic. You're never beaten until you quit.

2 comments:

  1. Besides being more stable, and more in conformity with the immemorial philosophy of both the Greek and Latin churches, there are two great reasons to be a monarchist:

    1. Even under hostile monarchies, the Faith does better than under even indifferent republics. Something about republics just grinds the faith out of people. Compare how Christians did under centuries of the Ottomans, versus only one ccentury Turkey. Or for that matter, compare Morocco to Iran. The examples are endless.

    2. There is a massive number of sainted kings and queens. Never a president or a prime minister. And even though the former have been around longer, the latter turn around much more quickly, and the modern church canonizes much more readily.

    The only possible candidate I can think of is Gabriel Moreno, and even Bl. Karl is moving along more quickly than he is.

    I think the main problem with the republic is that it is an admittance of relativism, and it breeds mistrust of authority. I think it was Coulombe who said, something like, "a republic in a Catholic country is at best an anti-Catholic government which happens to be staffed by Catholics."

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  2. How is the faith faring in Great Britain, Sweden, Norway, Belgium or Spain compared with the U.S. or even Italy? the faith in France, especially among young people seems to be on the rebound.

    I am not a fan of the canonization process the Church has developed since the 18th century. It is very juridical, very political, and hugely expensive, and largely unreflective of the sensus fidelium.

    A republic requires a moral consensus of the kind shared among the Founders of the United States and inscribed in our Declaration of Independence and Constitution.

    A republic requires a certain moral consensus

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