Nov 9, 2011

Monarchy and Democracy

[From the King and the Crown Prince]
There may be some wondering amongst the readers, critics, and potential citizens of Edan, why are we a monarchy? From what I have seen elsewhere there seem to be two primary chains of thought. 1: "Don't you know that democracies are better and more modern?", and 2: "Don't the people have more freedom and liberty in a democracy?". I shall approach each argument with what knowledge and common sense dictate to be true but that the modern world seems to have forgotten or ignored.

The first is an interesting and unique dilemma brought about due to two rather recent strains of thought. American Exceptionalism is founded upon the conceit that America is inherently better than any other nation before or after; that from its very inception America has surpassed all other countries in every way. Therefore, since America is Democratic (as that word is used in modern Western settings) democracy is better. The Enlightenment concepts of the French Revolution are little different. Reading the writers of and defenders of Enlightenment thought reveals that, in the end, the modern support of democracy flows like this,

“Why does the Enlightenment embrace democracy”
“Because democracy is a better form of government that any other form”
“And how do we know democracy is the best form of government?”
“Because it is embraced by the Enlightenment”

Of course, the thinking of the Enlightenment is full of tautologies, but this may be the most egregious.

Common sense, history and current events tell us that democracy is not the panacea it is claimed to be. A light sampling of these pro-democracy arguments include "A king will just become a despot.", "Democracies are closer to the people", or "Kings aren't as good at ruling as democracy". Each of these are easily shown to be no more than sloganeering. A king may be a tyrant, and the reign of terror may last as long as he lives, but a king may also be just, wise, and great. In a democracy, there is always another corrupt politician, and the power of every individual is lowered as far as possible (in the modern system). So while there may be tyrants in the progression of a kingdom, there will always be corruption in a democracy, and while you may have a great king create a golden age, a golden age cannot be created by one good politician. The transition of various modern nations from Monarchies to Democracies has not resulted in reinvigorated nations that are more ambitious, more resolute, and more decisive. Instead Western Democracies are sinking into indecision, bureaucratic paralysis, and cultural ennui. Human nature, the Free Rider Problem, the Tragedy of the Commons; all tell us that the nature of democracies and temporary power will result in corruption, sloth, and indecision. Monarchies, on the other hand, avoid the majority of these problems because power rests in people who may not melt into a faceless crowd.

And is a near-endless parade of professional and semi-professional politicians and their bureaucratic assistants 'closer to the people'? When was the last time you or any normal person you know spoke with a president? Or a senator? Or a governor? Or a mayor? A monarchy and aristocracy can obviously be detached, but democracies can be more so. Conversely, an aristocracy and be directly connected to the people because of its very nature, as can a democracy. Clearly, democracy and monarchy face at least very similar challenges in this area.

The last argument brought up as a sample is one that I find interesting. How is a democratic government better at governing than a monarchical one? It may be true that a pure, absolute, direct monarchy could be very bad at governing, but when we refer to "Monarchy" we mean 'constitutional monarchy with an attendant aristocracy'. At the micro level, local aristocrats are better than mayors and such because they are 'in office' for life and depend upon good governance for their position, wealth, and standing. They are in power their whole lives, allowing them to carry out long plans, and continue to adapt when they go wrong. They know the people as well as an elected official might, and must face that their future generations will inherit any issues they leave behind. At the macro level, dukes, counts, and other nobles are much better than governors at the state/province level, for similar reasons. Unless they are removed from office with the permission and approval of the church, they will occupy their position for their entire life, no matter what politics says or does. They can carry out cohesive long-term plans, goals, and reforms with no threat of being removed from office by corruption or temporary backlash, and they don't need to bend over backwards to bring about politically motivated changes. And because the position is hereditary, they have been raised for it, trained from birth to take over for their father, a tremendous advantage in every way.

In opposition stand temporarily elected politicians and appointed bureaucrats. Even if they do well, they rarely remain in office for more than 10 years, they must set political goals and listen to parties, and can't risk the slightest uproar in any group, and may never have had any experience with powerful positions before their election. Most of all, the advantages of a monarchy are expressed in the monarch himself. The greatest advantage possible within any system of government is to have a supreme executive who is not a politician, who does not have to deal with elections, parties, or agendas unless he wants to, or thinks he needs to. A king is free to lead, something that any executive elected official is most certainly not. Combined with the heredity of the position, it is certain that monarchies are superior in stability and adaptability.

And now onto the second, arguably more important question. Aren't democracies, as has been repeated so many times, a step forward in freedom and basic rights? After all, they say, a government ruled by the people is going to be much better for the people than a government ruled by a hereditary position. But there are a few things that should be remembered in this discussion. Democracy is not a governance by the People, it is a governance by the Majority, whoever they may be. What if the majority is, for example, the communist party? Or maybe some sort of National Socialist party? In a monarchy a sway of decadence may do slightly more damage than in a democracy, but it will be unaffected by any mass immorality that may come about from a cult of personality or a seductive ideal. And how are democracies a step forward? Democracy is an old idea, from longer in the past than the birth of Christ, so why is it that all these revolutions of "Human Rights" didn't happen until now? And if monarchy is 'stultifying' or 'repressive' why is it that the great Enlightenment thinkers that oppose monarchy all flourished and wrote during the era of the monarchy while their modern counterparts, licing in democracies, do no more than echo the past? And why is it that, according to these people, monarchies limited freedom? The answer to all three of these questions is simple; democracies are weak. What happens if fools are the majority? Or evil people? What about the influence of wealth upon elections? In a monarchy, the government may become discouraged as it tries to help the people, or in a worst case scenario gets fed up and withdraws. But in a democracy the government changes to match these unfortunate trends. Thus in the modern world, despite the immorality and the slow death of civilization, the unborn are not considered to be alive, homosexual marriage is considered a right, something for nothing is considered moral, and marriage is considered to be temporary. Not just by corrupted or mistaken citizens, but by the governments themselves.

Now there is another side to this coin - democracy does have it's uses and advantages. The common man really does need a voice, lest he be exploited. The ability to give everyone an undeniable say in his rule makes a tremendous difference in the treatment of those in the lower walks of life. But a pure democracy will always go wrong, they always have. So while Edan is a monarchy, the legislature is elected, from both the nobles and the people. And now we come to another dark side of this discussion, if democracy has proven inferior in all these things, isn't monarchy better? If you agree with any of the statements above, must a monarchy be supported? Edan is not a monarchy because we don't like democracy, but because we know that monarchies are better.
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