Anarcho-Tyranny → Monarcho-Liberty

There is always an oligarchy, whether or not it is explicit. Where there is no recognized aristocracy – where, i.e., there is a liberal political order – oligarchic society inevitably devolves sooner or later to anarcho-tyranny.

Liberalism is founded upon two fundamental principles: Equality and Liberty. The former implies the latter. If all men are equal, then no man is suited either by nature or historical happenstance, nor therefore is he legitimately entitled, to exercise authoritative sway over his fellows, so as at all to constrain their liberty. If all men are equal simpliciter, then all men are free equally and perfectly, and none may rightly rule.

But of course, Liberty and Equality are contradictory. You can’t have both. The only way to let men be free is to let them be unequal. The only way to make men equal then is to eliminate their liberty, so as to make them all the same. To make all men equally free – which is to say, equally powerful – is to institute anarchy; and the only way to do it is by tyranny. Thus, our current state: anarcho-tyranny.

Of the two Liberal ideals, Equality is the weaker. Men are certainly equal qua men, so that all are governed and protected by the same Natural Law of Man, and any just polity will apply the same basic law to all men. But no concrete actual is equal to any other (equality can be achieved only through identity). There is then no such thing as concrete equality. It is a contradiction in terms. So hierarchy is natural; is the only possible way to order things in congruence with reality.

In an aristocratic hierarchy, not all the same laws will apply to all men. Only the basic laws will apply to all men. The upper classes will have to obey *more* laws than the lower, and they will labor under heavier social duties. The nobler your class, the greater your powers, and the greater therefore your responsibilities; for, with any power comes the duty to use it aright. The more then are the powerful constrained by law and duty. The nobler a man, the more is he called to comprehension of all things, and a meet adeqation thereto – to nobility and righteousness withal. Only thus can he be fit to rule, or up to the job.

Locke is certainly right that government can be deemed legitimate only insofar as it enjoys the consent of the governed. A people who hate their oligarchs – whose oligarchs have failed in their rule – will somehow get themselves new oligarchs. A sovereign who has lost the support of his people has lost the Mandate of Heaven. He has to go.

[Excursus: This is just how kings used to understand their office, back in the ancient day. If things were for whatever reason going disastrously badly for his people, the king’s duty was in the last resort to sacrifice his own life to the gods for their sake, in one act both offering up their most excellent victim and opening social room for some replacement. The king’s death forced a paradigm shift for the whole social order, reordering it and so increasing its chances of meeting its predicaments. The custom under which the king led the van in battle was an instance of that royal sacrifice. So writ small was the king’s largesse, scattering bread or gold in his train, endowing churches and monasteries, sponsoring festivals and tournaments, and so forth.

The royal sacrifice is the apotheosis of noblesse oblige. It was expected of all noblemen, each in and for his domain.]

NB nevertheless that it is not the consent of the people that determines the legitimacy of the government, but vice versa. The people feel as they do about the government on account of the facts on the ground, and it is those facts that tell whether government is legitimate. The feelings of the people about those facts are, not a cause of the government’s legitimacy, but one of its effects, and thus no more than an index of legitimacy. A people can sooner or later tell when they are well governed, and when they are not. It is rare that a people feel their government ill when it is well. It is foolish to ignore those feelings. But it is the reality to which those feelings are a response that determines the legitimacy of government.

Government is legitimate that is in fact succeeding at governing, that is governing well and toward the good. And government can thus succeed only insofar as it is itself virtuous – knowledgeable, intelligent, foresightful, prudent, sagacious, righteous, courageous, energetic, truthful, and so forth – or else, exceedingly lucky. But even luck favors the wise and the righteous, mutatis mutandis, for diligence is the mother of luck; and there is ever a tide in worldly affairs, a flux and vector in the Tao, so that absurd good fortune is not ever wholly devoid of meaning, is not merely adventitious even when it favors the foolish, the young, the imprudent.

Fortune sometimes picks out a man for nobility from among hoi polloi; she has ever her reasons, however obscure to us; or else, the world is just insane.

The virtues deeply and obviously mark the canny courageous man who is competent to lead his fellows, who sees usually farther, thinks more quickly and more carefully than they. Such men have authority among men, who can recognize it, and who, seeing it, find the virtues in their own parts calling out to them, to make themselves his. This is easily seen in any small group of men seeking a common objective, in war, business, the hunt, sport, or the arts and crafts: in any such group, one emerges organically and without conscious effort as leader, and two or three others as his natural lieutenants and successors. Then all defer to that leader and to his lieutenants, and in groups of healthy minded men, none ever chafe thereat. On the contrary, they all admire the leader, and emulate him. It is a great privilege to follow a good captain.

But this admiration and emulation can happen only in response to men who are in fact admirable, and worthy; who are more excellent than their fellows in a whole suite of important virtues. Else, there is resentment, and turmoil, as at a clueless boss or wrong-headed President.

Almost all men who have spent any very appreciable time in a group of men have seen this dynamic at work.

[Excursus: one of the greatest happinesses a man can enjoy is to find himself boon companion in a company of fell and excellent leaders, any of whom all the others would gladly follow (“Who wants to be Head Boatman this trip? Terry, will you? OK, good.”). There is a repose and pleasure in that mutual admiration and loyalty and trust that is hardly to be equaled. It is the apotheosis of manhood; is the achievement of manhood.

The serene joy of this mutual and happy subjection and joint leadership, one for all and all for one, a communion of mind (I have signaled intelligibly to my brothers in arms over a distance of half a mile on either side with no more than a slight tilt of the head – all then pulled their boats as one to the same spot on the shore) is the ideal and aim of the human urge to Equality. That Equality cannot be mandated or legislated or administered. It is not a fruit of any possible policy. It can be achieved only among men who have all been tested together in action, and found their fellows all equal to the challenges of adversity and adventure. The Equality at which liberalism aims is a pale simulacrum of that, the real thing: which is to say, companionship, in which anyone would share his bread with all the others without a second thought, and feel enlarged thereat.

And the jokes in such a company! O, the deep, deep laughter, that comes with common insight, far down into the harrowing and beautiful silly depths of life! Never was such laughter. Never was such friendship.]

Government then is legitimate that has this real authority; that is, i.e., really noble.

Liberty is on much firmer ground than Equality. Equality is a shibboleth. Liberty is just a fact – or rather, as the essential character of the acts that effect all facts, is just the forecondition of fact as such: to be is to do, and to be able to do. To be then is to be free, eo ipso. But freedom – being – is possible only within the limit of superordinate constraining principles that aim and order acts toward certain really achievable goods. Freedom prerequires order. It prerequires hierarchy. Take away the hierarchical order that furnishes the Receptacle of free action, and all you have left is chaos. That’s why there is always an oligarchy.

Lockean liberties are durable then only under an aristocracy and king. Not anarcho-tyranny, but monarcho-liberty.

17 thoughts on “Anarcho-Tyranny → Monarcho-Liberty

  1. Pingback: Anarcho-Tyranny → Monarcho-Liberty | Reaction Times

  2. Just to go off in a tangent here.

    Has there been such a thing as a illegitimate ruler in history that simply gets ignored?

    Since realistically speaking. A person only has as much power as his own person and a hierarchy that obeys him aside from God himself.

    Or is it just simply against human psychology or there are countervailing circumstances that often occur that I do not take into account?

  3. I’m not so sure about “monarcho-liberty” since I don’t trust monarchs (or the Catholic Church for that matter). Especially after looking at the historical account of how those two conservative groups stabbed Franco, the man who saved them from ended up like the Tsarist monarchy and the Russian Orthodox Church, in the back. Franco was a great man and a brilliant general but was politically inept and he placed too much trust in conservative institutions that were already in the process of being infiltrated (like the Church) or had turned leftist like (the Spanish monarchy). He didn’t have the more revolutionary rightist and pragmatist goals like his predecessor Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera.

    Here is Sam Francis on anarcho-tyranny:

    Today, the right talks like the left, and the left, sometimes, sounds like the right. That kind of confusion suggest that both labels have outlived their usefulness and ought to be put to sleep. They have become prisons that house so many different and conflicting forces that the interests, values, and aspirations incarcerated in them are unable to find coherent political expression.

    The political conflict of the future is likely to be not on the horizontal plane between left and right but along a vertical axis: between a Middle American substratum, wedded to the integrity of a distinct national and cultural identity, on the one hand, and, on the other, an unassimilated underclass in alliance with an alienated and increasingly cosmopolitan elite that has subsumed left and right and shares more common ground with snappily dressed Soviet (substitute Chinese instead) commisars and Japanese corporate executives than with farmers in Kansas, small businessman in Ohio, union members in Detroit, or fundamentalists in Alabama.

    What we need is not a king, but a Caesar or Florian Geyer who is going to reemphasize the Populusque part of the equation and maybe even place it above the Senatus part. We need to overthrow the hostile elite and replace it with a traditional elite that has a sense of noblesse oblige.

      • Exactly, Kristor. I do not hate elites on principle. I hate the hostile elite that is tyrannically ruling over us. We need elites like Teddy Roosevelt or Henry Ford, not the ones we have now.

  4. If monarchies were so great, that is, if they delivered the noble and virtuous governance of your mythology, then they wouldn’t have been overthrown by the liberal rabble. But of course eventually people figured out that their image, and power, was a sham, a fable, a paper tiger. Buh-bye.

    On the other hand, perhaps you are right in some more basic sense. Certainly the modern world seems increasingly given over to rule by corporations, which are as hierarchical and stratified as any reactionary could wish for. The good ones also display effective governance over their domains, limited though they may be. So our monarchs are the likes of Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos, men who certainly have a high degree of some of the virtues. They have been anointed by the one true and shared god of our time, Mammon.

    But I assume you have some other kind of monarch in mind. Who do you propose for such a role? Where is such a person to come from in our age? Even setting aside the problems such a person would have in establishing the legitimacy necessary for monarchical rule, I find it hard to imagine who would be fit to occupy such a role. The corporate titans are probably too smart to want the job, even if they were suited to it.

    • If monarchies were so great, that is, if they delivered the noble and virtuous governance of your mythology, then they wouldn’t have been overthrown by the liberal rabble. But of course eventually people figured out that their image, and power, was a sham, a fable, a paper tiger. Buh-bye.

      I’d say monarchs have had a better run than any of the leftist experiments in government. I can’t think of any of the major monarchs who were overthrown by a purely democratic or even left-wing revolution. Almost all of them where done away with by elite liberal aristocrats not “the people” as a whole. It was usually the poorest classes in society that rallied to the monarchy, and they where often slaughtered for it.

      They have been anointed by the one true and shared god of our time, Mammon.

      Most traditionalists would lament this.

    • Every regime comes sooner or later to an end. So the fact that certain regimes have come to an end is neither here nor there. It tells us nothing more than that what has already happened has already happened. Things will continue more or less the way they are, until they change. As they certainly will.

      Don’t kid yourself. There is always an oligarchy. When the oligarchies of the ancien rέgime were deposed, they were simply replaced by others.

      Where does any king or president come from? It’s always been an obscure process, except to those who are involved in it, who can think of some reasonable candidates for the job.

      Monarchy can fail. But that’s true of everything under the sun. Monarchy can also possibly succeed. Liberalism cannot, for the simple reason that it is logically incoherent: Equality and Liberty contradict each other.

  5. As I put it a couple of weeks ago at Throne, Altar, Liberty: “A country over which neither a king nor a queen reigns is not a real country” and “Democracy is not the safeguard of liberty, it is royal monarchy that protects the freedom of the people from the tyranny of elected politicians who think they can do whatever they want to the people because they act in the name of the people” and ” There can be no freedom without order, and no order without hierarchy.”

  6. And who would be our monarch? King Barack? King Donald? Queen Hillary? One devoutly hopes not. But what about the reigning British monarch? See
    “The Queen personally seems to be a sincere and devout Christian – yet she has presided over (and barely if ever criticised) one of the most appalling and complete moral and spiritual degenerations of national public life in the history of the known world: such that the United Kingdom is now a hollow shell of evasion, pretence, lies and indulgence; with no positive role, purpose or meaning whatsoever.”

    • This is a problem faced by any political order. Who is best to lead, and where is he to be found? A monarchical order would not eo ipso have an easier time of solving it than any other.

      • Kristor,

        True, but removing a bad monarch is exceedingly difficult. He (or she) has the military power, the police power, and the sworn allegiance of the populace. All the political power is centralized. If he is called out as a bad guy, he can reply that he really is a BAD guy and act the part to the hilt.

      • That’s tyranny you are describing, with all power centralized. It is a hazard that besets all political orders, especially democracies. We are now approaching it ourselves. Absolute monarchy is only one of the forms it can take.

        Most monarchs have not been absolute. They have not controlled all military forces. On the contrary, their vassals have had forces of their own, and so have all their vassals, right on down the hierarchy to the peasant with his axe.

        A monarch whose vassals all wield lethal force must work to keep them in good spirits. That’s why the Left wants to delete the Second Amendment.

        A bad king, who mismanages his domains and so impoverishes them, thereby impoverishing himself, is vulnerable to a hostile takeover. A vote of the barons is all it need take.

        As there is always an oligarchy, so always is there a Sanhedrin, that can remove the king if need be.

      • Leo, not exactly, a monarch who is bad enough won’t have the loyalty of his army, and can be overthrown from inside.

  7. Pingback: The Very Best of Last Week in Reaction (2016/06/12) – The Reactivity Place

  8. I guess the main problem when criticizing monarchy is believing power comes from the top, when it actually comes from below. You are an aristocrat if people think you are worthy, and you are the monarch if other aristocrats think you are worthy.

    If you don’t have the support of the aristocracy, they’ll overthrow you, democracy happened when instead of criticizing the monarch, they started to go against monarchy itself.

    • Exactly and succinctly put. Caesar is acclaimed by his legions, or he is no caesar at all. So Caesar serves at the sufferance of his men, and only thereat; which he gains by their admiration, and which, losing, he loses his head.

      And, yes: the Jacobins and all their heirs found that Chesterton’s Gate had not worked, but instead of repairing it, they demolished it. As they thought; all they did in fact was hand its keeping and tolls to highwaymen and footpads.


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