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Monarchy and War

Monarchy and War

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Journal of Libertarian Studies
Volume 15, no. 1 (Fall 2000): 1–41
©
2000 Ludwig von Mises Institute1
M
ONARCHY AND
W
AR
 
Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn
*
 
 Modern history is nothing but an inventory of bankruptcy declarations.
—Nicolas Gomez Davila
I
Monarchy is a form of government not well understood inNorth America. To many people in that part of the world, monar-chy seems to be a totally obsolete, even childish, institution. Thesurviving monarchies, after all, might still play a symbolic or even apsychological role, but not a decisive political role.As a rationalist and a liberal (in the worldwide sense ratherthan in the American sense), I am also a monarchist who realizesthat monarchy, combined with Christianity and Antiquity, was re-sponsible for the rise and flowering of Western civilization, which isslowly assuming an almost global character. Yet, the modern mindis political rather than historical, and therefore is hopelessly tied tothe spirit of his time. As Goethe wrote:
He who cannot give accountOf the last three thousand yearsRests in darkness inexperiencedthough he lives from day to day.
Such a person, intellectually nurtured by the boob-tube andnewspapers, would be greatly surprised to hear British Prime Min-ister Disraeli say:
*
Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn (1909–1999) lived as a private scholar andwriter in Lans, Tyrol.
 
Journal of Libertarian Studies2
The tendency of an advanced civilization is in truthMonarchy. Monarchy is indeed a government whichrequires a high degree of civilization for its full devel-opment. . . . An educated nation recoils from the imper-fect vicariate of what is called a representative govern-ment.
1
 
Democracy is, after all, the oldest form of government in whichmajorities rule over minorities.
2
 Democracy reappeared in a more civilized form in Athens, butwhen, in a truly political trial, Socrates praised monarchy, he wascondemned to death.
3
Remember also that Madariaga said rightlythat our civilization rests on the death of two persons: a philosopherand the Son of God, both victims of the popular will. No wonderthat Plato, Socrates’s follower, and Aristotle, Plato’s disciple, werefierce mon-archists, and that the latter, when democracy returnedto Athens, went into exile to avoid Socrates’s fate.
4
Plato’s thesisthat democracy naturally evolves into tyranny was also adopted byPolybius, who believed in an
anakyklosis
, a natural circular evolu-tionary process from monarchy into aristocracy, aristocracy intodemocracy, and democracy into tyranny. Indeed, reading Plato’s
 Republic
, Books VIII–IX, one gets an exact description of thetransition from the Weimar Republic to National Socialist tyranny.
1
See Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield, K.G.,
Coningsby;or, The NewGeneration
(London: Longmans, Green, 1849), book V, ch. 8.
2
It is still preserved by aboriginies in various parts of the globe. You canfind the name of the ethnologists who have studied this phenomenon insome of my books. See, e.g., Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn,
 Liberty or  Equality?
(Front Royal: Christendom Press, 1993), p. 314 n. 474.
3
The political aspects of the death of Socrates can be found in the
 Ency-clopaedia Britannica
, in the 1911 as well as in the most recent edition.Other authors are mentioned in Kuehnelt-Leddihn,
 Leftism Revisited 
 (Washington, D.C.: Regnery, 1989), p. 349 n. 47. Recently, I. F. Stone dealtwith the same subject from a leftist point of view in
The Trial of Socrates
 (New York: Anchor Books, 1989). According to Stone, Socrates was a“fascist.”
4
In accordance with these leading philosophers of antiquity, ThomasAquinas maintained that democracy was the least bad of the three evilforms of government. Ochlocracy and tyranny, he argued, were worse.
 
Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn – Monarchy and War3The historically conscious observer realizes not only that coun-tries like Great Britain, Spain, and the Netherlands, which today aremonarchies, went through republican periods, but also that Greeceand Mexico, today republics, have already been monarchies twice.Still, the most “educational” case is that of Rome. If we had theopportunity, given our knowledge of history, to meet a Roman citi-zen in the sixtieth year before Christ, and told him that his countrywould soon become a monarchy, he certainly would have reactedmost vigorously, blaming us for ignoring Roman tradition and men-tality. Monarchy? A return to the authoritarianism of TarquiniusSuperbus? Out of the question! Yet, Caesar already loomed be-yond the horizon.Subsequently, if we had the chance to meet with one of his de-scendants in the year 260 after Christ and told him of his ances-tor’s indignation about our naiveté and arrogance, he certainlywould have shrugged his shoulders. “And now?” we might ask.“Now? We are still a republic. Look at signs everywhere declaringSENATUS POPULESQUE ROMANUS! A monarchy? Asamong Orientals and barbarians? Out of the question!” “But youhave an Emperor!” “Ha ha!
 Imperator 
means general and therealways have been generals in republics!” Yet, a few years later,Diocletian, the
 Imperator Augustus
, had a golden crown put on hishead and demanded
 proskynesis
, the kneeling approach to his per-son. Then, even the most stupid Romans realized that the republichad gone the way of all flesh. Tacitus, indeed, had suspected it longbefore.There are still outstanding thinkers who have a deep respectfor the monarchical order, for rational as well as sentimental mo-tives. Yet, even the rationalist has to take the psychological factorinto account, or he would cease to be a realistic rationalist. As amatter of fact, the increasing democratization of Western civiliza-tion has fostered monarchophile thinking, although only on a highlevel. Thus, it is not surprising that Theodor Herzl, the founder of Zionism, declared monarchy the best form of government, but,since no descendants of David survived, the aristocratic constitu-tion of Venice should be studied in the planning of a Jewish State,

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