Sunday, May 10, 2009

A Monarchial Dilemma


It has been several months since I came out and admitted that, with Pius IX and scores of humans throughout history, I have come to accept that monarchy has proven to be the best of all governmental systems. Since then I have not bothered to say much on the subject, though I have been browsing some monarchist websites and blogs. Like many other things on the Internet, I'm sure the really good monarchist stuff takes a little bit of scrounging around to find. Most of the monarchist stuff I turned up was pretty incoherent and lacking in any systematic apologetic for monarchy. I'm sure there is somethhing like that out there, but I have not seen it.

Quite a bit of the stuff out there is British monarchist, advocating a return of the United States to the useless House of Windsor. Returning to the fold of the British Commonwealth is emphatically not what I ever meant by my support of monarchy. Our system is far from perfect here, but can you imagine trading it for that slug Prince Charles?

But this brings out what I think is a serious difficulty in the monarchist position: if we were to adopt a monarchy, from whence would it come? The way I see it, we would have but two options: reconnect with one of the existing aristocratic families of Europe, or create a brand new royal house out of thin air.

The first idea suffers from the very serious setback that the existing aristocracy of Europe is worthless and utterly spent. They have been out of power for so long that they probably no less about ruling that even they did when they were in power; in many cases, like Prince Charles, they are globalist progressives. I can' t think of a single royal family whom I would trust over a country, perhaps excepting the descendants of Blessed Karl von Hapsburg. But generally speaking, reuniting with the crusty old royal houses of Europe is something abhorrent to me. I'd take the Constitution and the buffooneries of Washington D.C. anyday over allegiance to King Charles or Juan Carlos.

That brings us to our second possibility: creating a new royal family. To me, establishing a new fiat royal family by decree suffers from all the same setbacks and problems with legitimacy as establishing a new fiat Mass by decree. Monarchy is something that exists as given, not created. A king is a king because he was the son of the last king, and so forth. The worst times, historically, for monarchies come when one branch of the royal family has failed to produce an heir, or a war establishes a new family as the royal house. A family simply set up by law to be the royal family that has not ruled previously will simply lack legitimacy and not be taken serioiusly. In England, the Hanoverians were established in power this way, but their ascension was marked with a flurry of new Parliamentary laws aimed at reducing the power of the new royal family, so that in exchange for obtaining the throne the Hanoverians lost much of the power behind it (many of these laws were enacted in the time of William III as well). Thus, the British monarch cannot be said to rule the country in any true sense.

But at least the Hanoverians had some connection to the previous dynasty. The issue becomes much more complicated when we remove it from the realm of the hypothetical and try to imagine what th establishment of a monarchy in this country would look like. Who would we establish as our king? Since we have no tradition of monarchy in this country, any king we would set up by fiat or the passing of some law would lack any legitimacy. As I said, a monarchy exists as given, and the person of the king is symbolically and politically representative of the life of the nation itself. Nobody we could set up, no matter how smart or good, could become this. A person does not become king by being intelligent or just, but by being born king.

It seems there is a dilemma: if you want a monarchy, you have to already have a monarchy. Otherwise your monarchy is false and shallow, unless, that is, you are reconnected with some existing royal family, which as I explained above, is undesirable from a Catholic viewpoint (from mine at least). All these difficulties are compounded when we examine them in light of establishing a monarchy not just in general but in this country in particular.

So as it stands now, for me, monarchy is a noble idea, a concept at the height of a theoretical pyramid of possible governments ordered according to their justice and efficiency. But it is not something I am prepared to actively work towards establishing in this country, since I cannot see any practical way to bring it about with a desirable outcome.

On a related subject, this is an interesting article on the virtually ignored dissolution of the last real monarchy in Europe due to the opposition of the Grand Duke of Luxembourg to euthanasia.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Prince Charles is a slug, you are right.
But the French monarchy lives on as pretenders. I forget the current pretenders name, but its Louis XX or something. He was there to see the Holy Father when he was in Paris recently.
You are also correct about the Habsburgs. Otto von Habsburg is the only living decendant of Blessed Karl left, I do believe, and from I read is a devout Catholic.
We can always pray for a return to monarchy. The blood lines do live on, and the Great Monarch will be a descendant of a French line, I forget which.
I see your point as an American, but in Europe it is seen differently, as the blood lines do live on, and there are still pockets of true loyalists, not just those who think it a good idea to have a monarchy.
And I totally agree making one up out of no where is impossible and ridiculous. Would not work.

Matt

Just another mad Catholic said...

Assuming that we British could oust the house of Windsor and and get the legal line of James the 2nd Restored, would Boniface be willing to live under them?

CO said...

Adopt an orphaned Catholic monarchy!

Abandoned child of broken home in foreign land (Luxembourg) needs love and care.

This rare royal specimen comes with an actual well-formed conscience and all necessary regalia.

Free to a good home; S&H extra.

BONIFACE said...

Mad Catholic-

Perhaps, but a few more things would need to happen-

1) The King would have to be invested with real power, so that he ruled de facto and not just de jure - this would involve scaling back the powers of parliament, which has never worked well in he UK.

2) The Stuart heir would have to be a true and orthodox Catholic.

3) Britian as a whole would have to throw out its insanely invasive surveillance and get some privacy rights.

4) They'd also have to adopt some gun laws (I'm not sure what they are now)so I could enjoy my shotgun, two semi-auto rifles, and my pistol along with my substantial ammo cache.

5) The Church of England would have to be disestablished.

6) Hell would have to freeze over, because I think that would happen before items 1-5.

J. said...

I have come to accept that monarchy has proven to be the best of all governmental systems.I'm curious what the Catholic apologetic for monarchism is. The common theme in the Old Testament is that kings are bad (cf. Saul and the judges). The New Testament takes earthly kings as a given, but often as evil ("We have no king but Caesar"; "My Kingdom is not of this world"). Can you recommend any good books or blogs on the subject?

BONIFACE said...

J-

Part of my lament is that there seems to be no cogent apologetic for Catholic monarchy. I don't know of any books or anything where it is systematically defended and proposed (perhaps that's a hint for someone out there to put something together).

It would be wrong to assert that monarchy per se is portrayed in a negative light in the Bible. In fact, I'd say it is democracy that comes off poorly...David is portrayed as a very righteous and good king, the model monarch, but he is one chosen by God. The flaw with Saul is not that he is a king but that he was one whom the people clamored for.

Obviously the biggest problem with monarchy is that it is only as good as the person: a king can be a Josiah or an Ahab. The Bible has good kings and bad kings, as does Catholic history. And the Church, of course, is a Divine Monarchy.

Creary said...

Boniface,

Have you ever read St Thomas Aquinas' work "De Regno: On Kingship" ( http://www.diafrica.org/kenny/CDtexts/DeRegno.htm )? Of all the saints who have ever lived, St Thomas Aquinas is most certainly the one most able to systematically defend any particular form of government.

If you have read "De Regno" and found it to be lacking, I'd love to hear why. But I think the someone you have called to put something together to systematically defend monarchy has already answered the call; that someone is St Thomas Aquinas.

BONIFACE said...

CReary-

I have read Aquinas' "On Kingship," and while it was a good explanation of the duties and responsibilities of government, it wasn't an apologetic of kingship per se against, say, a democratic republic, though it does mention various types of constitutions. It is much more theoretcial, answering questions like "Whether a monarhcy is one or many" (not a real question from the text) and stuff like that.

We need something written currently that addresses fully the issues of monarchy versus democracy as it has been implemented in the west for the past two centuries and that can take into account all of the more recent problems with western democratic nations.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't one of the men of the many devout noble families of the old Papal States be elevated and crowned as king? I think that would be a great solution. There are still many of these aristocratic families who are fiercly loyal to the Holy Father and are true supporters of tradition.

Unknown said...

This is an old post, I know, but unless I'm missing something, Liechtenstein still has a Catholic monarch with actual power, Prince Hans-Adam II.