Sunday, December 9, 2007

the Practicle Limitations of any Future Monarchy

The Practical limitations of Any Future Monarchist Government
By Ryan Haecker

Monarchy is the most perfect form of Government, as it alone establishes a proper hierarchical relation between the castes. But monarchy is increasingly rare in the 21st century, despite the favor of history, its divine perfection, and the unending appeal of Kingship. I will herein argue that the supposed triumph of egalitarianism in western political philosophy is only a temporary victory that has been achieved, not through the superiority of argumentation, but by the practical limitations of the economic and military conditions of the industrial era. I hope to show that no true monarchy can exist in the present circumstance. Therefore, the advocates of this most perfect form of government, should look ahead to, and work to bring about circumstances more favorable to a future aristocratic society.

Hierarchical society in the West, could be said to have had it's clearest delineation in the High Middle Ages which gradually began to diminish with the emergence of independent towns, the increase in trade and manufacturing, and the accompanying growth of an increasingly wealthy merchant class. This merchant class would gradually grow in importance and wealth with the expansion of international trade and industrial production, until it came to supplant in importance and power the warrior aristocracy of Dukes(Dux is a Latin word meaning general), Knights, and Kings. As these independent towns were not subject to the feudal taxation of the landed Aristocrats, they could be directly taxed levied by the King. Where once the King had been first among equals(primus inter pares), he now greatly expanded his power at the expense of the Clergy and the Aristocracy. The expansion of royal power, the need to finance increasingly expensive wars, the subsequent expansion of the state bureaucracy to fulfill the needs of taxation, finance, and trade, as well as the increasingly complicated interstate treaties like the Peace of Westphalia and the treaty of the Pyrenees that required international law to arbitrate national disputes, culminated in what we call the Nation State.

The Nation State is an artificial supra personal entity of governmental sovereignty similar to a corporation. The historical forces that bring the Nation State into existence should be seen as involved in a constant struggle, or historical dialectic, with it's antithesis which is the patriarchal organization of oath bound allegiances that we will call Feudalism. With the emergence of the State as the entity of national sovereignty within the context of a Feudal society, the King increasingly became, not merely the first among the Warrior Aristocracy, but the personal embodiment of the Nation State. In the age of enlightened absolutism(Frederich II, Catherine II), he became a man set apart from other men by virtue of his education and distinguished lineage so that he might protect, govern, and embody the Nation State. As the bureaucracy of state grew in complexity, the King and the Aristocracy became increasingly unnecessary(this can be most clearly seen at the Bourbon Court of Louis XIV-XVI). The French Revolution, and the subsequent egalitarian and republican tendencies of the 18th-20th centuries, could be seen, from an economic perspective, as the triumph of the bureaucrats,and the merchants(who we will later refer to as the Bourgeois) over the anachronistic, costly, and now ineffectual landed Warrior Aristocracy. This coincided with the King becoming an increasingly symbolic religious figure of the nation state. The senseless carnage of the 1st world war, fully discredited the old order of monarchy and feudal hierarchy, to be replaced by secular republics(Atatürk's Turkey, and Wiemar Germany). At the beginning of the 20th century, there are very few absolute monarchies remaining in the world.

These political changes coincided with, and were compelled by the growing complexity and democratization of warfare. As the mounted Norman cavalry charges of the 11th century were regrettably replaced by the pike and musket warfare of the 15th century, the professional armored aristocratic knights, who's only task had been the protection of the lower castes, could no longer dominate the battlefield and would soon have no place in the world. The warrior aristocrats would be increasingly compelled to hire mercenaries, who specialized in this more complex form of infantry warfare. The necessity for large sums of money to hire mercenaries and levy soldiers increasingly meant that only the State(and by extension the King) could afford to raise, and maintain professional armies. As the State and it's finances gradually became the decider of battles, the warrior aristocracy (and ironically the King) became dependent on, and subservient to, the interests of the mercantile class whose rising importance and necessity, would soon make the warrior aristocracy unnecessary. With the European wide adoption of the French revolutionary method of levée en masse, by which every citizen was compelled to serve as a soldier for the state, the Warrior Aristocracy found itself as the oppressors instead of the defenders of the “free citizens” of the nation state. These cowardly anachronistic Warrior Aristocrats were justly faulted for, but did not participate in butchery of the Great First World War, preferring the leisure and safety that wealth and lineage afforded them. As a result, the great monarchies of Europe(Hapsburg, Romanov, Hohenzollern, Osman) were quickly deposed by an angry citizenry who believed that a Republican state could more justly and efficiently govern.

These changes in politics and warfare coincided with the aforementioned emergence of a growing mercantile class. With the ever increasing profitability of world trade, finance, and industry, the mercantile bourgeois increasing became the most important members of society. With the declining importance of the warrior aristocracy due to his incapability of deciding battle, and the correlated ascendancy of the bourgeois, the these men increasingly deserved the title Aristocrat (Aristos Kratos means Best Man in Greek). As the deciders of warfare, economics, and politics, the bourgeois soon became undoubtedly the most important men in society and as a result, they demanded influence in the affairs of the Nation State.
The industrial revolution for allowed the large scale employment of the peasantry by the bourgeois which then initiated a gradual migration of the peasantry to urban areas. As the development of machinery gradually allowed for the replacement of manual labor with machine labor, a greater number of the working class were allowed to enter the growing bureaucratic middle class. As the industrial economic wealth of nations became dependent on this growing technical middle class, they in turn demanded universal suffrage.

As the growing middle class became more literate, publicly educated, and informed of the affairs of state by the growing telecommunication and newspaper industry, they justly demanded to decide the policies of the state. This coincided the specialization of knowledge in academia, and the emergence of many new radical political and ethical philosophies(marxism, anarchism, existentialism, feminism, libertarianism, and secularism). With an increasingly educated middle class of mixed lineage who were allowed access to a near infinite amount of philosophical schools and opinions, free thought soon became uncontrolled and no dogmatic authority could claim to have a superior understanding. With this development, no monarch of superior breeding, education, linage and caste could be imagined to possess a greater understanding of national affairs, than a majority consensus of the educated middle class. Consensus and deliberation among “equals”, not the consoled decisions of a Warrior Aristocrat, became the means by which the Nation State decided the course of its affairs.

With these conditions in mind, it becomes readily apparent why the people of the 20th century discarded the anachronistic, unjust, and poorly functioning aristocratic tradition, in favor of an admittedly cold, faceless, and fatherless secular state. But if we must clearly reject this development of the modern world, in favor of what we know to be the more perfect organic unity of a caste based feudal aristocracy, then we must wonder how such a state can be brought into existence in the present circumstances. If nations adopt the forms of government that are most conducive to their particular military, economic, and and social circumstances (as opposed to the Hegelian progressivist view that abstract philosophical movements or the “weltgeist” motivates changes in government), then we must speculate as to what practical conditions need to change in order to re-establish this most perfect form of government.

With the growing availability of Internet access and the accompanying increase in available information, an increasing number of people are now able to formulate or adhere to radical new political, ethical, and religious philosophies. This plurality of philosophies, with their infinite multitude and variation, cannot all be expected to passively accept authoritarian decisions handed down from above. In a democracy, this problem is dealt with by allowing the multitude of philosophies within a society to compete for influence in government by lobbying for representatives and influence in congress. But in a monarchy, the public is to a much larger degree excluded from political decision making(or at the minimum, the final decision maker is chosen undemocratically). In order to passify the inevitable opposition to authoritarian decisions. If a future post-democratic state is to have practical legitimacy, it would necessarily need to have some means of formulating policy that is superior to the current method of parliamentary discussion. We might envision a future scenario in which there exists a strictly dogmatic school of policy making with an innovative methodology that allows it to achieve consistently better results than current parliamentary discourse. Current research into prediction markets and systems theory, together with the exponential increasing in computational power, could forseeably enable a degree of foresight in public policy that would allow superior decision making. In the distant future we cannot dismiss the possibility of the emergence of a unified dogmatic system of philosophy(ex: Christianity, Confucianism) that will replace the current plurality of philosophies with a more monolithic and dogmatic school.

With a continually growing middle class , the ensuing mixing of lineages between aristocrat and commoner, and the political hegemony of egalitarianism, it has become increasingly difficult to claim superiority on the basis of lineage. In the future, any hypothetical monarch will need to possess a claim to a means of superiority that is greater than this, as patrilineal descent can be no guaruntaror of superior entitlement and judgment. Biotechnology is currently exponentially advancing in such a way, that we might speculate about a future means of improving man's natural limitations. As we already routinely supplement man's natural abilities with pharmaceuticals, in the future we might imagine more powerful drugs, gene therapy, and cybernetic enhancements significantly augmenting the abilities of the most wealthy. Additionally, the long ignored field of Eugenics, with an enhanced knowledge of the Human Genome and heredity, may forseeably allow a method of selective breeding that could significantly enhance the physical and cognitive abilities of future children. It is foreseeable that children might be selectively bred and genetically enhanced to allow a significantly increased lifespan, intelligence quotients, hight and athletic ability. If we assume that only the most wealthy could afford such techniques, then this new generation could potentially form a natural aristocracy of enhanced humans, endowed with superior breeding, lifespan, intellect, and economic status. As selective breeding and genetic enhancement become more routinely practiced, there will emerge a natural hierarchy of greater and lesser bred individuals, of whom the best bred will be the clearest choice to rule.
The concept of enlightened absolutism has historically been based upon the assumption that a well educated monarch could, by virtue of an aristocratic education, possess superior judgment. With the specialization of knowledge, the expansion of information has quickly outpaced the ability of any single person to be educated with an understanding of all the subjects available. As we increasingly bridge the communication barrier between men and machines, it might not be too impractical to imagine a means by which an aristocratic minority could become dramatically better educated. With the ready availability of the Internet and global communications, we are fast witnessing the increasing “cyborgization” of man's rational faculties with machine databases and computer processors. The increasing capacity of computer technology, in conjunction with a greater linkage between man's mind and the storage and processing abilities of a CPU, offer the potential for radically enhanced cognitive abilities. Additionally, this increasing “cyborgization” might offer educators the ability to more speedily impart information unto their students. By these means, it is foreseeable that a future method of education might emerge that would allow an aristocratic minority to possess a significantly greater of intellect, brought about through education, breeding, and computer technology.

European nobility has historically been an Aristocracy, not of the best, but of the conquerors. The nobility of Europe, from the Franks to the Normans, have justified their right to rule based on the principle that conquest implies a natural superiority which their victorious ancestors possessed over the conquered. This proto-racism isn't all that dissimilar from 19th century social darwinistic conceptions that more “virile races” naturally conquer and subjugate more “passive primitive races”, or the Aristotelean conception that war and slavery are justifiable insofar as they are apart of the natural order of conquest and subjugation. But this Hobbesian conception, that power should naturally accrue to the strong, should immediately seems both unjust and inefficient, as it would be neither just nor efficient for, let's say, the football team to takeover the university. In recognition of this, Aristocrats have additionally cultivated a claim to a spiritual superiority, a claim based not merely on martial lineage but on a superior martial character. Hegel wrote about how Aristocracies justify their superior status based on the concept that the those men who are most human, are those men who have conquered their animal inclinations towards self-preservation. By arresting their fear in battle, and mastering themselves, Aristocrats felt entitled to the mastery of the less disciplined classes. By assuming the role of a warrior aristocracy, the Aristocracy of conquest has often claimed a superiority of ancestry and spirit; as self mastery is directly correlated to spiritual ascendancy(I addressed the connection between spirituality and warfare in my note: The Warrior Ascetic). Monarchies, too, are often based on this assumption that the best and purest Aristocrat will naturally ascend to a position of power through spiritual superiority and victory in battle, and henceforth, convey, through his bloodline, a genetic and spiritual superiority to all future Kings.
While it may occasionally occur that the best of men, through victory in battle, should achieve political supremacy(Vive l'Napoleone!), it is more often the case that Aristocratic lineage doesn't translate to a superiority of talent or character. In recognition of this, we cannot seriously consider a return to the “state of nature” in order to create a future Warrior Aristocracy. This must, instead be brought about by the practical necessities of a new method of warfare. As defense is of the greatest importance to the State, the greatest concessions will be taken to ensure its procurement(for example the unique Lycurgan reforms of the Spartan agoge). The socio-political structure of a people directly translates to the means by which a people wages war, as warfare is an extension and manifestation of a society at war. Additionally, the democratization of warfare is always used to as a pretext for expanding suffrage. From Athens to Vietnam, those who defended the state demanded governance of the State. Likewise, if a minority should come provide a people with the decisive means of deciding battle, we should similarly expect that this minority should either forcibly seize, or democratically win the further limitation of suffrage. If warfare could come to once again necessitate a landed warrior aristocracy, then said aristocracy could once again become both necessary and just. If a method of warfare were to come about that required a dedicated elite to be schooled for the purposes of safety and defense, then we might well expect the return of a new military Aristocracy. Such a change would require that the citizen soldiers of State financed professional armies, dependent upon the economic and material resources of a vast state bureaucracy and powerful mercantile class, should be replaced by a self sufficient Warrior Aristocracy. Such a caste would assume a natural superiority of character and command, and through the mastery of their passions and cowardice they might prove themselves to be more than human. Unfortunately, this is the least probable of our many speculative future scenarios. Far from simplifying, 4th generation network-centric warfare is reaching ever higher plateaus of complexity, requiring computer technicians and satellites instead of Aristocrats and Kings. While we might hope that in a Post-Scarcity or Post-human world, the situation might be otherwise, we have as yet no reason to hope for the return of Chivalry.
As human society is in a continual dialectic between patriarchal Feudalism and the abstract supra peronal State, we might continue to hope that circumstances more favorable to the former might soon be realized. However the increasing complexities of the international trade, service based post-industrial economies, and network centric warfare make such an outcome seem increasingly remote. While this more perfect form of government might be advocated and desired, the torrent of industrialization will continue to carry away our hopes. Should the world be convinced of the necessity and favor ability of Kingship, it must still reconcile with the practical limitations of any future monarchy.