Feb 20, 2013

Monarchy as Distributist Government; a precis

   The Church has repeatedly supported both Monarchy and the tenets conveniently called Distributism. While this implies that Monarchy is Distributist, how is this specifically the case?
The core concepts of Distributism are
1) Private ownership of property is both good and a right
2) All arrangements, including business and labor arrangements, should be made freely
3) Leadership should be as local and personal as possible; these two thing demand that it also be as small as possible
4) Utopia is impossible.

How does Monarchy meet these criteria while, say, a Republic does not?

Private Property: Private ownership of property is a good because it makes the owner responsible for his property, leading him to learn and grow from its care. An owner's personal interest will lead him to make property more productive, improving society as a whole directly and indirectly. On the other hand, communal ownership of property leads to the Tragedy of the Commons; this is the oft-proven fact that when people own something jointly they eventually deplete it even as they are aware that this depletion hurts everyone, including themselves.
As was pointed out by the Libertarian/Minarchist theorist Hans-Hermann Hoppe in his book 'Democracy: The God that Failed' Democracy is, effectively, the joint ownership of the means of government. He argues, persuasively, that the Tragedy of the Commons is as inherent to Democratic governments as it is to the world's fisheries. Democracy, he argues, is doomed to self-destruction by its very nature.
He goes on to demonstrate that Monarchy is the private ownership of the means of government; the monarch's own self-interest will drive the development of government to be more efficient and more productive overall. While just as a farm may have a bad owner who does not maintain it a kingdom may have a poor king, over time the nature of Monarchies is to improve so long as they do not become democratic and the nature of Democracies is to degrade until they collapse.
Nobles within a Monarchy are the 'local owners'; they are the 'personal owners of the local forms of government' and have the same benefits (vested interests in improving govnerment, etc.) as the monarch.

Free Arrangement: While the most obvious versions of agreements between people and groups are business contracts (private individuals and groups) and treaties (governments) they also include such seemingly-ephemeral ideas as the Social Contract. From Grotius to Rawls theorists have argued that the source of governmental authority has been a social contract existing between the citizen and the leader or government.
When a government is forced to accept a treaty against its will it is typically called a surrender. When a person is forced into labor against their will and are unable to quit, it is typically called slavery. Yet when a person born into a Democratic society is forced to accept an unwritten, implicit social contract with no chance to refuse it this is typically simply not addressed. Proudhon, Hume, Spooner, and other theorists have pointed out that in the absence of actual consent such a 'social contract' is at best a convenient fiction.
Within a Monarchy, however, the contract (or oath of fealty) is explicit and voluntary. This means that the arrangement (or contract, or oath) is made freely and by full consent. Likewise, oaths of fealty with local aristocrats are still explicit and voluntary.

Local and Personal: While Democracy claims to be 'rule by the people' in actuality Democracies fall to Moore's Laws of Bureaucracies, Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy, and Parkinson's Law. To sum up those theories, over time Democracies become more and more bureaucratic and remote from the people. The reasons for this are simple and inherent to Democracy; politicians are transient but institutions are not, so bureaucracies must exist within a Democracy simply to get things done. As the various 'laws' above point out, over time bureaucracies naturally expand in size, influence, and insulation from outside pressures eventually existing merely to propagate themselves and to increase their own size and power. Eventually the bureaucracies have such influence that the transient politicians are too dependent upon them to reform them; the 'power of the people' is then resident in unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats.
Even before this state of affairs politicians are relatively remote. Their transience means that they are not capable of a permanent attachment to the roles and duties of any office. Indeed, election processes may mean that they are focused on being elected during the entirety of their tenure in office!
Within a Monarchy, however, the costs of a bureaucracy come directly from the wealth of the monarch and nobles, meaning the owners of the means of government have very incentive to avoid and control bureaucracy. Indeed, with a robust aristocracy you can effectively avoid bureaucracy and have direct interactions with the local ruler (petitioning your local baron in person) and effecting change (petitioning the higher lord directly) as opposed to the impersonal interactions of Democracy (interacting with an unelected, unaccountable bureaucracy and only being able to complain via voting in the next election and hoping your vote will be enough to elect a new politician and that the new politicians will be interested in and capable of reforming the bureaucracy).

No Utopia: Monarchies face the normal checks and balances of life; a particularly bad king will be deposed by the nobles, his own family, or the people. Bad nobles face the same as well as removal by the king. But since the wealth and prestige of the monarch and nobles is directly related to how well their subjects are doing self-interest itself ameliorates the likelihood of a poor rulers.

So, as you can see, Monarchy is naturally Distributist.

Feb 2, 2013


I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desart. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away


Feb 1, 2013

What is Religion?

(From Prince Jonathan)

A great deal of confusion in the modern world comes from the meaning of the word, “religion.” For it seems that no one can quite agree what it is. There are often situations encountered where three groups will be debating religion, and all three will differ on how they would define the word. Even worse, there is often conflict between the different members of a certain philosophy, so that some will inadvertently find themselves agreeing more with their nominal antitheses than with their brethren.
This confusion stems primarily from the Protestant Reformation. All it took was for Luther and Henry VIII to found their own religions based upon a corruption of existing doctrine, and then before long there were dozens of groups redefining just about everything, up to and including religion itself. This was exacerbated greatly by the French Revolution, which tried to make itself the enemy of all religion; and to an even greater but far more subtle extent by the American Revolution, as shall be discussed later.
So what is religion? How must the word be defined? Is it not obviously one's belief on the existence and nature of God? Or perhaps it means one's opinion on the supernatural in general? Maybe it consists of the many distinct categories of worship and conception of the divine? Perhaps it is a cultural construct, nothing more than a set of stories passed down that sometimes influence a person's actions? Or is it a mere viewpoint, such as one might hold on politics or economics?

No, none of these things fit the bill. None of them are the right key for our lock. For how is it that Lutheranism and Calvinism are different? Or, alternatively, how is it that the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church in America is the same as the Eastern Rite in Greece? Why can the Sunni and the Shiites never get along; why are the different flavors of Buddhism still the same thing; how are different religions divided?
In truth, what a religion is is a complete worldview. A conception of reality and how one's life should be lived. It is not one's opinion upon whether or not God exists, but one's opinion upon all things metaphysical. What one's life should be lived for, how society should be ordered, what good and evil are; all are questions answered by one's religion. To be of a religion is not just to accept what they say about God and to attend their worship when told, but to accept a complete philosophy of life as your own.
Thus, atheism is actually a religion. A family of religions more accurately, as an atheist might still be a dedicated communist, progressive, anarchist, conservative, et cetera; and all these things differ from each other as strongly as Mormonism from Judaism. No one can not have a religion, or even oppose organized religion; everybody has one, regardless of whether they believe in the Divine or not.

When you think of it this way instead of the way most people do these days, the implications are powerful. Let us take as our first example the current struggle over religious freedom in the United States of America. To boil a nuanced political conflict down to a manageable paragraph, what is happening is that the United States' government is attempting to simultaneously dictate that religious institutions must pay for things against their moral code, and affirm that the United States has freedom of religion. Worship and belief has been divorced from how one lives one's life. You can have whatever religion you want, except in public.
Of course, this is just continuing a fine tradition stretching back to the American Revolution. America was born with a complete religion of freedom, tolerance, exceptionalism, and Puritanical morals, but also with a claimed freedom of religion. Even in her infancy, she kept a strong code of religion in the public sphere, and anyone who wanted to be politically or publicly active in any way had to conform to this. American history shows us the atheistic religion of American Liberalism attacking other religions to overcome and replace them again and again, in Maryland, Utah, the states annexed from Mexico, and so on.

But there is another, more important example we should look at. Through the lens of a proper understanding of religion, let us look at the Apostles' Creed. If you are Catholic, take a pause for a moment and recite the prayer to yourself now. Now, think about it; by saying this prayer earnestly, you are saying that you firmly believe in the entirety of what the Church teaches. And the Church is a religion.
It is not just an affirmation of God's existence and Christ's divinity, but a statement that includes allegiance to the morality, goals, and dictates of the Church. To say the Creed with true earnestness, you must build your life around the laws and worship of God as the Church decrees. You must give no thought or troth to Liberalism, Americanism, Gnosticism, or any religion that is not the Church. You must adhere to a code that carries through to all aspects of one's life, public and private, familial and political, at church and outside of it. To be Catholic (or of any religion) is not just to attend mass on Sundays, attend confession often, say grace before meals, and pray a decade of the rosary every night; but it is also to centre every aspect of your existence and everything you do around God and His Laws.
So the question must be asked: is Catholicism your belief, or is it your religion?