The Prince, The People, And Everything Between

[Editor’s note: this piece is a dialogue on governance worth having and does not constitute the official position of Social Matter.]


Reactionaries are a cranky bunch. This grumpiness can at times, I think, be one of our foremost strengths. We despise things both great and small, both religious and secular, both political and petty; whatever it is, it cannot escape the critical eye of the reactionary. We are just as likely to complain about the muddled state of constitutional law as we are about the kind of music played in retail clothing stores.

It is no accident that I refer to this kind of naysaying as a strength. It serves a valuable role in society, namely to preserve that which works from that which does not. But it is because our default stance is one of negation that it can be very difficult to identify what reactionaries support. There are Catholic reactionaries who want to see the Vicar of Christ grip his golden scepter again and have the heads-of-state kiss his ring. There are libertarian reactionaries who feel that the principles of the American Revolution were fundamentally sound and that if America slashed through the red tape, if it returned to the legislative conditions of 1790, then all would be well again. There are reactionaries who feel that the American Revolution was where Western culture kicked over the apple cart, and that if we could return to the limited monarchy of 1688, we would be better off for it. There are still other reactionaries who feel that 1688 was just a precursor to 1776, that all Enlightenment philosophy must be thrown out like a torn and greasy rag, and so therefore we should settle for nothing less than, “L’etat, c’est moi.” There are probably a few reactionaries who would not stop their political reversals until they reached the declarations of Nebuchadnezzar.

My purpose is not to provide an overview of reaction, but to show how we are a varied group not united by a common philosophy, but by a common enemy.

Likewise, the enemy need not be defined here. We all know who our enemies are because disorder and decay seem to follow them wherever they go. We do not need to see the sewer rat when we cannot escape his stench. I also have no intention to add to the already extensive literature on what reactionaries oppose. I would much rather spend my time sketching out a political philosophy that can help define specifically what reaction is. Of course, not reaction as a whole, because that would be too broad; but my own particular philosophy which can be categorized as reactionary.

Before beginning with the political philosophy, I feel it is wise to answer one very important question. It is a question that often goes unexplored, unexplained, and wholly taken for granted in political papers, and yet it is the most important question in politics. We must begin by answering the very simple question: Why does the state exist?

In my mind, there is only one good answer and it is to be found in the philosophy of Thomas Hobbes. The state exists to protect. Where there is no state, there is anarchy, and where there is anarchy, there is freedom; but this freedom comes with a price so dreadful that no man can endure it for long. You can kill but you can also be killed. You can rob but you can also be robbed. Your tribe can exterminate another tribe just so you can have some extra cattle grazing land, but the other tribe can also do the same to you. It is a brutal world where might alone rules. Most men claim to want freedom, but if they were to ever get their wish, they would quickly regret it. More than freedom, men desire order.

This cherished order is not to be found in anarchy. Rather, it is found in a fraternity of like-minded individuals. This, then, is the state in its purest form: it is an association of men gathered together for protection and the maintenance of the common welfare. And it is from this association that the so-called “social contract” is established between the citizen and the state. A free man surrenders the bulk of his freedom in exchange for protection. To prevent these limitations in his freedom from being arbitrary, and to ensure just and efficient protection for the citizen, laws are established.

Notice how the social contract I adhere to is not John Locke’s concept of a contract comprising life, liberty, and property. Liberty in particular is so vague and amorphous that it is nearly impossible to define. The term is worthless from a legal perspective. In the Hobbesian contract, there is much more give and take. The citizen fails to uphold the contract when he defies the state’s laws, and the state fails to uphold the contract when it fails to protect the citizen.

So now that we have answered why the state exists, the next most important question we must face is this: If the state exists to protect its citizens, what constitutes protection? It is a relatively simple answer, one that might even be anticipated, but its implications are not simple at all. The first type of protection is to safeguard the citizen from external threats: foreign invasions, international thievery, trade disruptions, and so on. The second type of protection is to safeguard the citizen from internal threats: murders, robberies, frauds, assaults, and so on. These two forms of protection might seem obvious, but a simple principle can produce a hundred thousand complexities. At what point does immigration cease to be a net gain and become a net loss, and at what number is it considered a foreign invasion? At what point does citizen surveillance evolve from crime prevention to being a crime in and of itself? These questions arise out of the complexities that spring up like weeds in a rose garden; their presence requires constant care and pruning. The law is one means to achieve this, where the legislature can pass or repeal laws based on the demands of a given situation, but even more important than the laws themselves are the foundational principles that underlie them. It is from these principles that the state molds and hammers its entire legal apparatus.

This brings us to the crux of this piece. Thus far, we have discussed the state in ways that anyone can find in Hobbes’ work. The foundational principles I am about to mention, however, are a form of reaction that has not been well explored because it is uniquely my own.

The foundational principle I adhere to is simple. It can be summed up in six words which can be easily remembered and easily recited. In this respect, it is far superior to any constitution or foundation myth. Any state that hopes to survive the long march of history must follow this maxim: one people, one parliament, one prince.

It is a deceptively simple phrase. Much like a tonic that a man can swallow quickly but leaves an after-taste that lingers for hours, this is medicine that takes time to work. I will elaborate on each of these points and also explain how all three parts relate to each other and make a functional whole.

ONE PEOPLE

There have been empires that stretched thousands of miles and sheltered dozens of ethnic groups within their borders. None of them are alive today. Ancient Rome, the British Empire, the Ottoman Turks, the Mongol Hordes — the graveyard of history is littered with the tombs of nations that thought diversity could work. But we do not even need to look at history. Present-day India and Brazil are bloated corruptocracies divided by their own diversity of peoples: language and skin tone are far more important to these people than any sense of togetherness. For decades the experts have been predicting that these two nations will join the superpower club and for decades these experts have been consistently proven wrong. Few people understand just how stifling diversity is.

One nation that is not fooled, however, is China. Its leaders understand the full implications of ethnic diversity and have committed to minimizing it. China traditionally has been one of those multi-ethnic empires that followed an historical boom and bust cycle: dozens of years of prosperity followed by dozens of years of civil war and disorder. To help prevent this cycle from continuing forever, China began a policy of quietly reducing its ethnic populations. The state enforces a strict language policy: Mandarin is the official language and all ethnic minorities, without exception, are required to learn it. There is no accommodation for those who do not speak Mandarin at home. The state also settles Han Chinese people in regions where ethnic minorities predominate so that eventually, within a few generations, the Han will outbreed the locals and displace them. Regions like Tibet are witnessing the effects of this policy as the local Tibetans are now faced with a permanent Han minority in their homeland; a minority that, in time, might become the majority, at which point there will be nowhere sacred for the Tibetans.

Perhaps the Chinese leaders realize what Western civilization has forgotten: diversity comes with a steep price and delivers practically nothing in return. Europe spent thousands of years struggling against its religious and linguistic diversity and only in the past few decades have things begun to change. Just as European nations were settling down to savor the fruits of peace, just as they were becoming friendly in one another’s company, they decided to invite thousands of Islamic invaders to join them at the table. It was an unforgivable error. Europeans have forgotten the one rule that must never be forgotten: all good states are ethnostates.

Democracy in particular is not well suited for diversity. Democracy relies on voting blocks for power, which means that ethnic minorities, if they vote together without exception, can be overrepresented in politics despite being a minority in the nation as a whole. This creates a situation where all political principles and all questions about a candidate’s competence become secondary to the candidate’s ethnic loyalty. This is, in essence, how identity politics functions in a democracy. More and more unscrupulous and incompetent politicians rise to power simply because of the color of their skin, or the city they were born in, or the religion they claim to practice. The gears of society gather rust as the state machinery slows to a stop; nothing significant gets accomplished when each faction is trying to use the central government to gain dominance over its rivals. Political conflict is encouraged in most democracies, but the problem with ethnic diversity is that it polarizes factions to such a degree that compromise becomes nearly impossible and the political equivalent of total war is fought between them.

Every absurdity will be defended if it benefits one’s ethnic interests and every scruple will be abandoned if it holds them back: this is the sad truth of identity politics. The much-cherished virtues of loyalty, consistency, and reason will vanish. Ask Austria-Hungary as its Serbian citizens throw bombs at the royal family and its Romanians sneak away in the night to fight for the Tsar; ask them if diversity is a strength. Ask the Ming emperor as his Jurchen and Manchu vassals mount their warhorses to take the dragon throne for themselves, ask him if diversity is a strength. We must never forget what history plainly teaches: all good states are ethnostates.

ONE PARLIAMENT

The word parliament has its origins in the French word parlement, which means a discussion, conference, or consultation. The historical roots of this word are important to understand so that there might be no misunderstandings in this political philosophy. The English parliament was originally intended to be a consultation between the prince and his people, so that policy could be decided, opinions heard, and budgets balanced. It was not an institution, like it is today, where gum-flappers get together to figure out schemes to line their pockets at the expense of both their constituents and their sovereign.

Some might question why a parliamentary institution is necessary at all. We need not present a list of parliamentary abuses over the years. The list would fill a stadium, but suffice it to say that legislative bodies in most Western nations have proven to be the greatest enemies of both the people and the prince. It would be logical for a reactionary to disband them altogether if it were not for one slight hitch: legislatures are essential to a stable government.

The first argument in favor of parliaments is that they serve as a means for the people to vent their frustrations. People are not generally rebellious but they are certainly very grumpy. They gripe about the weather, they moan about other men’s wealth, they deplore one bill and champion another; in truth, people are always looking for an excuse to shake their fists and bellow from a soapbox. This is why a parliament has perpetual value in a monarchy. The parliament allows a nation’s citizenry to have their voices heard and duly dismissed. Along the way, all of that bottled-up frustration in the citizen’s chest will be gently relieved like an exhaust valve opening on a steam engine; the legislative outcome is not as important to the citizen as making his opinion known.

To deny citizens all representation in government is to tempt disaster. This form of totalitarianism will inevitably lead to the absurdities like those seen in Stalinist Russia where everyone is either a commissar or a slave. It is a state of suspicions, condemnations, conspiracies, and most importantly in the context of the social contract, it is a state where there is very little protection for the citizen. A parliament can help prevent totalitarianism long before it begins by giving every man a voice, and on those rare occasions when that voice has something intelligent to say, the government might even be inclined to listen.

The second argument in favor of parliaments is an obvious one. A kingdom that spans thousands of square miles and has millions of citizens living within its borders cannot be ruled solely by the decrees of one man. There are too many debts to collect, too many scoundrels to imprison, too many files to sort. Since it is obvious that there must be some delegation of powers in a vast kingdom, the question becomes not whether power should be delegated, but how it is to be done.

One choice is the medieval option. The prince can portion out pieces of his kingdom to be ruled by vassals who are then free to govern however they please as long they pledge their loyalty to the prince. Although many reactionaries prefer this feudal method over a parliamentary system, I am not personally inclined to it. Despite its merits, a hereditary aristocracy often becomes the most persistent threat to both a prince and his subjects; the aristocracy are the only people with enough leisure, enough funds, and enough military arms to make viable attempts at capturing the crown.

A strong nation requires a well-policed aristocracy. It is the only way to maintain the levels of centralization needed to keep a state unified and vigorous. Every symphony must have only one conductor and every nation must have only one leader; a hundred noblemen bickering over spoils and plotting murder is no way to run a government. A parliament, if it is well designed, is a natural mechanism to keep the aristocracy constrained in a set of velvet chains. The term “velvet chains” is no rhetorical flourish. Throughout their political lives, the elite must feel restrained but not so restrained that they are willing to risk their lives of comfort and ease in a rebellion.

A parliament achieves this balance by two means. Firstly, it keeps the military authority of the state firmly ensconced in the central government. No duke in some far-flung part of the kingdom can raise a personal army without being in defiance of the law, and thus risking the ire of both parliament and the prince. In this sense, the self-interest of a king and his parliament lead to a natural cooperation between them: a threat to one is likewise a threat to the other.

Secondly, it provides a legal mechanism for the people and the prince to work together to keep the scheming elites in check. If the aristocrats get too brazen, if they become too seditious or defiant, a prince can reshuffle his cabinet, dismiss parliament, and then the people can do their part by electing fresh blood into the legislative ranks. There must be no entrenched interests in this system. The threat of replacement must loom constantly over the head of every double-dealing lawmaker.

This does not mean, however, that all elites should be under the threat of replacement at all times. It is no coincidence that most parliamentary systems have an upper-chamber and a lower-chamber, and that in most cases, the upper-chamber exists solely for the creation of a state approved elite. I envision the upper-chamber as a house with limited political power, perhaps only the power of vetoing the legislation of the lower-chamber, but it is an honor that should confer immense prestige on those chosen to join it because it is a position held for a lifetime. The prince can use the upper-chamber to reward men of ability from all strata of society by personally inducting them into the halls of government. The upper middle-class planter with a shrewd mind for agriculture who has neither the time nor the cash to give up work temporarily for a political campaign can be given a seat; and so, too, the aristocrat with a slight stammer and a fetish for the kind of bland mathematical figures that put most to sleep, and insure that he will never win an election, but are instrumental to running a government’s finances. These men, by being members of the upper-chamber, can at any time be called into ministerial service. They can sit in parliament for as long as they live. The members of the lower-chamber, although they might have more political power as a whole, are always replaceable. In my mind, this is the fairest way to run a parliament. The more political power one has, the more responsibility there is to use that power sensibly.

In the end, I feel that most complaints reactionaries have against a parliamentary system are not inherent to parliaments themselves; but rather, they are a reflection of the low standards among the people permitted to join them. Both chambers of parliament must have strict limits placed on their membership: property ownership, tax payments, or military service must be among the very minimum standards. I suspect that more drastic limitations to suffrage might be needed, but I will leave that for the reader to decide.

All things considered, you might be wondering what difference there is between my ideal parliament and Britain’s own current legislative assembly. The difference lies not so much with the legislature at all, but with some of the executive powers that I mentioned earlier and will explain in greater detail now. This is the most important part of the essay—here is where the prince makes his entrance.

ONE PRINCE

There are many words one might use to describe this station in life; nearly all of them have a dignity that lends a faint halo of gravitas over the head of the man who bears such a title: prince, king, patriarch, monarch, kaiser, sovereign, tsar, and so on. The dignity of these words exists no doubt because of the many burdens these titles bring with them; the saying, “heavy is the head that wears the crown,” is no flippant observation. The prince carries the fate of a nation on his back, and should he take one wrong step and stumble, should he let the weight of all his people’s fears and ambitions crush him, not only could the kingdom be lost, the prince might also lose his life in the process. Imagine the stress of a surgeon who is operating on a patient where one centimeter to the right or left with a scalpel in a patient’s heart can make the difference between life or death; now imagine this kind of stress multiplied by the millions of people who live in a nation. That is the life of a prince.

The first question we must answer is why the state requires a prince at all, especially given what we know about the immense stresses of his job. After all, some might claim that the differences between a president and a prince tend to work in the president’s favor: the limited powers help keep his purpose clear and his burdens reduced compared with those of a prince.

Although there is some logic to this line of reasoning, I find the argument unconvincing for one simple reason. The difference between a president and a prince is the difference between a borrower and a lender. The president can only take the nation on an extended test drive, while the prince owns it as long as he lives. There is no tenant on earth who cares more about his apartment than the landlord who owns it, who rents it out, and who uses it as his primary means of income. If the tenant punches a hole in the wall, then the landlord patches it. If the tenant kicks down the doors, smashes the kitchen sink, floods the bathroom and then flees quietly into the night, never to be seen again, then the landlord will be there in the morning assessing the damage and planning his repairs.

It is a fundamental law of life that people care more for the things that they own, than those they do not. The prince has every incentive to make his kingdom strong because there is no other pasture for him to till. He either harvests the fruits of his own field or he starves. Each action, each proclamation carries all of the weight of the prince’s authority behind it and so if he leads his people astray, if he leads the nation to ruin, he is held personally responsible. No president has the level of accountability that a prince has because no president has as much responsibility as a prince.

With this in mind, we must now explore what powers a prince can be given so that he truly is a lion on the throne and not just one more paper tiger like those seen among European royalty today.

The most obvious purpose of a prince is the protection of the nation from foreign and domestic threats. One less obvious but no less important function the prince serves for his people is that he acts as a safeguard against legislative excess. There are cases where the two chambers of parliament become deadlocked or where lawmakers overreach their bounds and as a result, outside arbitration is required to settle the issue; not just any form of arbitration, but a form where there is an iron-handed, unshakable authority that underlies its decisions. Only a monarch can have this kind of clear-cut authority. The prince must be restored to the position he held under the ancient palms of Babylon or in the damp castles of Bourbon France: he must again become the nation’s court of last appeal.

At this point, I have no desire to list all of the legal powers that could potentially belong to a prince. The list would be nearly endless and there are too many disputes among reactionaries over whether these powers should come with some constraints, as had been in the case traditionally in England, or whether a prince should be totally unconstrained, as with Augustan Rome or France during the reign of the Sun King. Rather than wade into that philosophical swamp, I would prefer to focus on three powers that I think are essential for all princes. These powers assure that the prince is able to fulfill his function as a court of last appeal, the highest possible authority for the arbitration of disputes, and the protection of a nation’s people. The maximum limit of a prince’s powers I will leave to other theorizers to puzzle over, but these three are the strictest minimum he must have to hold power in a kingdom.

The foremost power that every prince must have is the right to a royal veto. Traditionally in European monarchies, a bill that is to be signed into law requires “royal assent,” whereby the monarch or some representative of the monarch uses the royal seal to ceremoniously stamp the bill and approve it becoming a law. The problem with this process, however, is that it tends to become an empty ritual where the prince meekly stamps whatever legislation the parliament sets before him. This form of veto is not so much a veto at all, but rather a lack of assent. The distinction there is important, since it changes the whole power dynamic of a prince and how he interacts with his parliament. Most monarchs today do not dare withhold assent since they might soon find themselves out of the job. This process gives the bulk of the power to the lawmakers and not to the man tasked with thinking critically about the value of these laws.

A veto should be an active power, a smiting of bad bills, a casting out of legislative demons, rather than a passive-aggressive lack of assent. A monarch should be an active, not a passive agent in his government. The royal veto must be the nation’s highest and most exalted rejection: a resounding “thou shalt not” thundering in the ears of every lawmaker. With such a power, a prince does not need to approve each and every bill into law, since by having the power to reject a bill without qualification, he de facto approves of any bill he does not reject. There should be no limitations placed on this power: a prince should be able to thwart any bill from becoming a law and he should likewise have full authority to strike down any law that was passed by previous parliaments.

To provide some balance to this power, parliament should be able appeal a royal veto and reopen the matter for debate so that perhaps the prince might be swayed by new arguments. But the ultimate authority rests with the prince: if he is not persuaded, if he does not see the merits of a particular bill or law, if he feels that a piece of legislation defies the constitution and threatens the well-being of his citizens, he is free to veto the bill even after all of the parliamentary appeals as well.

Now I can hear the complaints of many middle-class Americans who would like to interject to say, “But that’s pure tyranny to give so much power to one man! We’re all about freedom here in the U.S. of A.”

Joe America, a simple man raised with a public-school education, does not know that this power already exists in the United States and it has already been widely abused, specifically because this power was not invested in one man, but in a select few. He lives with numerous oppressions forced on him with all of the same authority as a royal decree, except that instead of being issued by a king, they were issued by a gaggle of wordy judges. Neither congress, nor the president gave America such injustices as federally enforced desegregation, gay marriage, and abortion: these policies were foisted on the people by the supreme court.

Americans spend much of their time unduly cursing the president and rarely ever notice the little lawyers in moth-eaten robes who, when they make pronouncements, cannot be questioned. It is also curious how most Americans do not bother asking one of the most crucial questions of politics: how do the American people overturn a Supreme Court ruling? What recourse is there if the Supreme Court decides to rule based on the emotional prejudices of its justices rather than precedence and sound judgment? The truth is that there is no recourse. The American people must bow and obey the dictates of their Supreme Court as if they were the words of Augustus Caesar. And your average American has as good of a chance of removing a Supreme Court justice from power as a Roman would have of removing Augustus from his throne. The United States Supreme Court has all the trappings of a monarchy with none of its advantages: a committee of dunderheads and obfuscators can never be as effective as one man with a little common sense.

Likewise, the Supreme Court is comprised of political appointees who are not guaranteed to have any ties to the people they are supposed to serve. Justice Sotomayor is one perfect example of this: she is a second-generation Puerto Rican who had a father who spoke no English and she was inducted into Princeton thanks to the wonders of affirmative action and was then appointed by President Barack Obama to the Supreme Court, thanks to the wonders of party affiliation. This is the very antithesis of a prince who is bound to his people by the iron bonds of blood and tradition.

Another problem with the Supreme Court is that it has no financial stake in the government; it does not own the state, nor does it own even a small fraction of it. The prince, by right of the nation being his property in some form or fashion, serves as the state’s primary shareholder and therefore its most enthusiastic well-wisher. Just as how the owner of a corporation wants to see his business prosper and thrive, the prince inevitably wants the same for his nation because a prosperous nation means a prosperous monarch. Ownership makes all the difference. In one respect, a bunch of blathering judges are no different than a president: they are not owners of the state, but caretakers of it, and this results in a situation where they might be better served individually at the expense of the people. I imagine there have been quite a few justices who left their bench much richer than when they sat down on it, and none of those funds came from scrupulous dealings.

For the moment, we have talked enough about the notion of the royal veto and the prince’s role in enforcing it. We will now move on to the second power necessary for all princes, one that is perhaps even more powerful than the royal veto since it determines which people the prince surrounds himself with: the royal appointment. It stands to reason that if we define the word parliament as a conference between the prince and his people, then the prince should be able to choose which men from among the people will serve in the government.

But by the same logic, the people should also be able to choose which men from among their ranks will serve in the government. How can we reconcile these two extremes? I propose a middle-ground approach where the prince is able to directly appoint those ministers which are related to his fundamental purpose for ruling; namely, those men involved with protecting the people from foreign and domestic threats. The police, the military, and the intelligence agencies should all have their leaders chosen directly by the prince. This reduces the odds of a putsch and it helps prevent one of the ministries from gaining too much dominance over the others and thus becoming the true power in the government. The state is a balancing act that requires the prince’s firm hand to keep the scales level.

The other ministers who are only indirectly involved in the protection of the people, those such as the ministers of education, transportation, and so on, should be selected by the prime minister. Now the inevitable question arises: Who has the authority to choose the prime minister, the people or the prince? This is a perfectly legitimate question, and it is one that demands an answer if a good government is to be formed, but it is unfortunately beyond the scope of this essay since there are many compelling points to be made in favor of either the prince or the people. This work, however, concerns itself only with the essentials. We need not deal with such ambiguities here.

With that in mind, let us move on to the third and final power that is necessary for a prince: a concept that I call, tongue in cheek, the royal shuffle. Given that parliament is supposed to be a conference between the prince and his people, if the government becomes deadlocked or filled with men who refuse to uphold their duties, that is to say, the conference cannot come to any results, then it only makes sense that the prince should be able to dismiss parliament. The royal shuffle, as I envision it, should give the prince the power to dismiss the lower chamber of parliament, each and every member, and then reopen the elections for the people to decide who should stay and who should leave for the next gathering. This not only helps to break deadlocks and to prune the bad apples who inevitably find their way into every legislature, but it also maintains a necessary function in the balance of power: it gives the people a choice over who best represents their interests, prince or parliament, without having to resort to a rebellion. If the prince dismisses parliament, and the voters reelect all the same scoundrels as before, then he knows that parliament was indeed reflecting the will of the people. A wise man might advise caution from that point. If the prince dismisses parliament, and the voters elect a lot of fresh faces to the legislature, then the prince can feel sure that he was better representing his people’s interests. He can proceed with confidence.

Because this process gives the people the final judgment in a time of crisis, many reactionaries might not prefer it over more autocratic methods, such as a cold, dark cell or the chopping block. I feel, however, that this royal shuffle is essential more for the prince than for his subjects because it gives the prince a clear and immediate understanding of the mood of his nation. A prince can defy parliament if he knows that the people side with him, but if the people and parliament have locked arms and decided to march together, then at least the prince is made well aware of this fact, and can plot his next course of action accordingly. He might capitulate, he might defy both factions openly, he might defy them subtly, but whatever the prince chooses to do, he will be able to make his decisions with a thorough knowledge of the political situation that he is facing.

There are also cases where the prince, through incapacity or incompetence, deserves to have his plans squelched. In such cases, giving the people the right to affirm their representatives helps keep the people’s defiance within reasonable limits: they have no reason to take up pitchforks, to scorch the fields, or to level the palaces of their ancestors. The people have no right to riot as long as they have representation. Much like the valve and the steam engine mentioned earlier, the people must have a legal means to vent their frustrations, so that ultimately the government can remain stable. A man cannot be a dissenter in a nation that allows dissent; he can only be a dissenter in a nation that allows none. Give a man his dissent, let him moan and complain, just like letting a baby burp to relieve its stomach cramps.

At this point, however, I feel that we have reached the limit of this essay. We have touched on the three pillars of my philosophy: one people, one parliament, one prince. We have defined each term, sketched out their powers and limitations, and waxed poetic on how each relates to the nation as a whole. It is also true that we have only scratched the surface of this issue: there are many cracks that need patching in this great brickwork of ideas.

Who should choose the prime minister? Should members of parliament be subject to term limitations? How much power over the economy should the prince have? What is the relationship between local legislatures and parliament? Does the state require a church and is the prince capable of making divine pronouncements? These questions, and a thousand others, need to be answered if a reactionary should hope to bring about a reactionary state. I have omitted the answers to some of these questions because I feel that, in many cases, local customs should provide the answers. After all, a traditional political philosophy ought to make some allowances for tradition. If, for instance, the people of Pictland would never accept term limits for legislative positions, then so be it; let the sacred traditions of Pictland thrive among the Picts.

Another reason why I have opted not to answer some of these questions is because, with this particular essay, I am only interested in building a framework. The rafters have been placed, the beams raised, the foundation poured and I feel that is enough for now. I will leave the furnishings and décor to be chosen in other essays, or perhaps even by other thinkers. After all, any man who follows the same blueprint as me is sure to build a structure just as elegant and as sturdy as my own; we need only follow the same design, the same chain for our political sovereignty: one people, one parliament, one prince.

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24 Comments

  1. “all good states are ethnostates”

    You’re giving PT Carlo the vapors.

    Reply

  2. Basically you would be reestablishing the British monarchy at the time of Charles I. This presents all sorts of problems. The biggest is how would one prevent the same forces that led to the English Civil War happening all over again. For instance, would there be a state religion? Why or why not?

    Even if you believed that problem could be overcome, how would you get from here to there? De Maistre emphasized that constitutions cannot be drafted into existence. They are the result of tradition. Moldbug admits that the divine right of kings was arbitrary. How do you reestablish an arbitrary form of government?

    As a practical matter, only anarchy and war would present an opportunity for a soldier-general to make himself king. Then perhaps the elites could have a discussion like this about what the new government would look like. But it is not something you can plan for.

    One can envision many bad things happening to America in the coming years. Only in very unique circumstances would any of what you’ve set out here be relevant. Wouldn’t it be better to plan for more probable scenarios? Especially given the actual regime elites are members of a religion (Progressivism) that guarantees that they believe in the most fantastic improbabilities while simultaneous pursuing the crassest realpolitik.

    As a for instance, you follow Moldbug in noting that the Supreme Court is a tyrant. The Anti-Federalists predicted this would happen. But no time during the last 225 years has anyone seriously suggested amending the Constitution to address this problem. Why not? Is it because as a practical matter the document cannot be amended using the formal processes therein because America has “diversity is our strength”-ed itself into the ground? How do we deal with that?

    Reply

    1. Sure. A constitution works best when it’s not used. I don’t see a state religion but a good religion should be judged by how it keeps people from resorting to appealing to ‘rights’.

      I guess as the progs become more and more arbitrary in application of the law and power… we see how an arbitrary system is established. Perhaps the question shouldn’t be ‘how do we avoid another English Civil War?’ but rather: ‘How do we win when we have a our civil war?’

      Reply

      1. The question of the day for sure. Our original Constitution was designed over top of deep fault lines from the beginning. With each passing decade the fault lines grew wider and deeper, giving way to the death of a political party in the 1850s and the birth of another, the current Republican party. It took a generation of hot rancor in Washington before all tolerance was exhausted and Congress essentially became dissolved. The result became the final act of civil war, not the beginning.

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  3. To deny citizens all representation in government is to tempt disaster. This form of totalitarianism will inevitably lead to the absurdities like those seen in Stalinist Russia where everyone is either a commissar or a slave. It is a state of suspicions, condemnations, conspiracies, and most importantly in the context of the social contract, it is a state where there is very little protection for the citizen. A parliament can help prevent totalitarianism long before it begins by giving every man a voice, and on those rare occasions when that voice has something intelligent to say, the government might even be inclined to listen.

    The author confuses cause and effect. Stalin’s purges were from his fear of losing power, not because he had too much power. The history of 1915-1940’s Soviet Russia a revolving door of political instability.

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    1. I prey to God that people #NRx stop using this trope. You can justify any tyranny with this nonsense.

      Reply

  4. “All good states are ethnostates.”

    That’s a problem, because you can’t have an ethnostate in the 21st century because there are no more ethnos. A community is much more than shared ancestry. It’s a shared culture, mythology, and general worldfeeling. The liberal consumer society has destroyed all traditional sources of community in the West, and to the extent it has replaced them, it has done so with a hostile mythology that cannot be salvaged, only destroyed in it’s turn.

    All reactionaries need to let this sink in; that no matter what country you live in, you are a foreigner, you have no people. Those who were once your people hate you and want to destroy you.

    What this means is that no matter where and how reactionaries gain power they will be a “conquest elite” ruling over a hostile population similar to the Manchus in China, the early Roman Empire, or the Macedonians in the east after Alexander. All consideration of how to govern a state must flow from this understanding.

    The short term priority must be to keep adherents of foreign ideologies as far from power as possible. The medium term priority must be to keep the normies down. The long term priority must be to convert them to the ruling ideology. These cannot be accomplished without an authoritarian, elitist state.

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    1. “That’s a problem, because you can’t have an ethnostate in the 21st century because there are no more ethnos.”

      I agree with nearly everything you said, except this. You have misidentified this as being part of the problem, when it is actually part of the solution. People are pliable. People are always seeking an identity. Look at how white Americans try so hard to make little Polands and little Hungarys in the suburbs. They have the will for an ethnic identity, they only need to be shown the way.

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      1. I’m glad someone at least partially agrees with my gloomy view of things.

        I don’t know about you, but in my experience most Whites have only the faintest sense of identity of any sort. For Europeans, ethnic identity is largely a matter of what other Whites they like to bitch about. For hyphenated Americans, it’s mostly about what their favourite ethnic food is. For fully assimilated hamburger Americans, what shreds of identity they have are a combination of their favourite consumer subculture and some vague prattle about freedom. I don’t see much evidence that Joe normie is looking for anything more than that. At least in my corner of the States, White ethnic neighbourhoods are a thing of the past.

        A functional state will certainly need some sort of in-group identity, but I wouldn’t expect most people to sign on to it for some time. Until then, the state can’t really be “of the people” without fatally compromising it’s founding principles.

        In any case, I don’t believe in the ethnostate ideal. I am an imperialist. The ideal state should have some pretence to universality. Regional governments can be tailored to the traditions of the local population. Historically, emphasis on ethnicity as the basis of the state leads to petty resentments, petty hatreds, and petty conflicts which I have no interest in perpetuating whatsoever.

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        1. This is PT Carlo stuff. Culture includes things like going to work and not committing crimes. There is more than enough common culture if you get rid of the regime elites. Attempting to solve the “crisis of the Modernity” makes it impossible to do anything at all.

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          1. What do have against PT Carlo? Every half decent culture holds that working and obeying the law are good, but that isn’t nearly enough to build an ingroup identity out of. Getting rid of the current elite is pointless if there isn’t a new elite ready to take it’s place. I can’t imagine why you think attempting to solve the world crisis makes it impossible to do anything. Failure to solve the world crisis is what will make it impossible to accomplish anything.

  5. “One People, One Parliament, One Prince”

    Ein Reich, Ein Volk, Ein Fuhrer?

    @grey enlightenment

    “The author confuses cause and effect. Stalin’s purges were from his fear of losing power, not because he had too much power. The history of 1915-1940’s Soviet Russia a revolving door of political instability.”

    Or is it that Stalin was afraid of losing power AND had too much power? I’m not sure I completely buy into the whole of the theory of power postulated by the likes of Imperial Energy that you seem to be alluding to here (please correct me if I am mistaken); though it certainly has merit.

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    1. It’s junk.

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      1. That’s my instinct on it as well, but I do see the merit of particular PARTS of the theory. As a consummate whole though it just reeks of amoral “might makes right” nonsense.

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      2. What, exactly, is wrong with the theory? (RF’s Patron Theory of Politics or our Power Selection Theory.)

        Is it uninformed (missing relevant facts)?

        Is it misinformed (stating that which is false)?

        Where does it go wrong logically?

        Is it incomplete?

        In Stalin’s case, much of the terror that was carried out was a direct consequence of Stalin’s psychological insecurities stemming from political or power insecurity. Stalin’s paranoia and distrust comes across crystal clear in Court of the Red Tzar for example.

        Hitler was careful (and rather smart) when it came to regime security. His greatest problem was the military and as the war went on he came to distrust them greatly (especially after the failed assassination attempt). Nevertheless, Hitler’s power was close to watertight as a consequence of his charisma and his security system.

        Mao’s Cultural Revolution, meanwhile, is a set-text example of the phenomena of unsecure Elites using Expendables to “crush” troublesome Essentials. Two sources to read on this are the Private Life of Chairman Mao and Mao: the Unknown Story.

        You can read large extracts of the latter in one of our posts and how it demonstrates the logic of Unsecure Elites or Patron Theory of Politics (Mao even accuses a rival of Imperium in Imperio at one point! (states within states).
        See:

        https://imperialenergyblog.wordpress.com/2017/07/23/the-praxeology-of-power-or-the-science-of-elite-action-44/

        The general theory is not our exclusive property, Reactionary Future’s, Moldbug’s or even neoreaction. Moldbug, for instance, got from Jouvenel via Hoppe.

        If one does not want to read or simply rejects Jouvenel, then Tilly’s Coercion, Capital and State Formation points to the same phenomena but this time with examples that fall outside French political history.

        In addition, Francis Fukuyama’s Origins of Political Order has quite a few examples of the phenomena in ancient China.

        Finally, the political scientist, Bruce Mesquita, devoted an entire book to the subject (Dictator’s Handbook) that was based on his Selectorate Theory:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selectorate_theory

        “(2) Having a large nominal selectorate gives a pool of potential people to replace dissenters in coalition.”

        I.e. we can replace dissenting Whites by importing Muslims and Mexicans.

        “According to the selectorate theory, a leader has the greatest chance of political survival when the selectorate is large and the winning coalition is small, which occurs in an autocracy. This is because those who are in a winning coalition can easily be replaced by other members of the selectorate who are not in the winning coalition”

        You can read more about Mesquita’s “rules for ruling” here:

        https://imperialenergyblog.wordpress.com/2017/05/24/a-steel-cameralist-manifesto-part-3a-the-age-of-crisis-the-science-of-the-state-and-the-rules-for-rulers/

        Mao’s Cultural Revolution was all about Mao using the students to “replace” dissenting and disloyal members of the “wining coalition” with Party Cadres from the broader “selectorate”.
        It is not for nothing that Mao devoured books on Chinese history (as they were full of political intrigue and strategy).

        Best

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        1. @Frogg

          Description V Prescription distinction necessary (this probably needs more clarification. Thanks for the pointer).

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  6. Sure. Look at where those who despise us the most live. Proper whitetopias.

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  7. The author can write, but I would recommend broadening his reading beyond old books and fantasy fic. Like a gutted fish, the similies are spilling and writhing all over his quarterdeck.

    The framework is basically good, as a synthesis of millennia-old political wisdom. My main problem is with the presentation; he’s thinking and writing too much like someone used to living in a liberal democracy. It’s all cost benefit analyses, best-fit options, convened committees and presuppositions about the ‘public good.’ This isn’t how reactionaries should aspire to think.

    The stark reality is that in a reactionary state, absolute sovereignty is given to the sovereign. No equivocation, no constitution, no systematic institutional structuring by panels of experts. If a sovereign decides that it’s useful to delegate powers to a parliament, to vassals, or to anyone else, so be it. But in general, we trust in the logic of power and the mediating influence of tradition.

    It’s a slightly frightening proposal for people like us used to the conceptual feather-bed of ‘checks and balances’ but there we are. If we’re serious, we have to embrace wholly new ways of thinking.

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    1. “…we have to embrace wholly new ways of thinking.”

      I do believe you mean, “…we have to embrace wholly TRADITIONAL ways of thinking,” which made me laugh; it really highlights the bizarre circumstances we find ourselves in that “new” and “traditional” can both be reasonably understood to refer to the same thing.

      God made the world and set it’s laws and boundaries, yet we were astonished at the “revolutionary” nature of a teaching which merely sought to reestablish His rule! Emmanuel indeed. Men forget too easily and our words betray us.

      Plus c’est change, plus c’est la meme chose!

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      1. Exactly right! I probably should have acknowledged that nuance but that is what I meant. Thousand-year old traditions now look dangerously novel. The world’s turned upside down.

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  8. All reactionaries fail to address (fear to address?) the second most important question of our time. This author is no different.

    The most important question, of course, is, “How can the enemy be defeated?”

    That is not the topic of the article, or of this response. I agree enough with the author that “the enemy need not be defined here. We all know who our enemies are because disorder and decay seem to follow them…” So, we also set aside for the moment the question of how the enemy’s defeat is accomplished.

    The second most important question is, “What then?”

    The author thinks that answering this question is a simple matter of proposing/endorsing his favored form of government. But what of those reactionaries mentioned in the second paragraph, who do not wish to live under the author’s proposed government?

    More war(s)?

    This article presents a problem: the lack of a common political philosophy among “reactionaries”.

    Then, it completely fails to address the problem other than to suggest that it’s “his way or the highway”.

    O.k., Dalton, thanks, but no thanks.

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    1. I never said that it is “my way or the highway.” I specifically said that this article is about my own philosophy. I am persuading, not dictating. If you are not persuaded by my line of reasoning, so be it; I hope that at least it caused you to think more about what you believe and how those beliefs can reasonably be brought into practice.

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  9. Joe six pack X America with soap box here on ethos, public school education and all, which appears to be another planet, perhaps X is your world.

    Slightly reminiscent of Plato’s Republic of the philosopher King Arguments of the absurdity ethos, pathos and logos powers of persuasion for political purpose, which happened to just about every government ever conceived, including the Chinese communist and perhaps Russia. And, I wonder if you ever read George Washington’s farewell address. Both attempted to point out the fact that in fact no matter what type of government, if you have the unethical, the illogical, then you can govern by the emotional, provided you have the political party clout to do so, funded with other people’s money of course. Then everything will work out just fine, won’t it? And, how is that working out for the British Empire and parliament, prime minister and all, stuck in a rut?
    There is absolutely nothing wrong with a Constitutional Republic as was intended at the time and even now and offer means to make adjustment. Pitchforks What it cannot do and no government ever has been able to overcome are people and their need for greed, power and control, need I say the unethical? Prince or President, who pulls their strings and what about the next generation, President or Prince what shall we select?

    One area I tend to agree with you on is the one size fit all Federal policy, it does not. That is easily fixed by elimination of the National Political Party selection process that is nowhere in said Constitution we refer to as election that is no longer representative of those the selection presumes to represent. Another, could be the elimination of the Federal income tax, amendment contradict the intent of the Constitution, so in effect the Federal Government would have to ask the states for funding, I believe as it was intended. That just might reduce the miscreants and malcontents at the Federal Level. And of course term limits for all. No more career politicians, as well as limits for all Federal Contractor no more than a two year contract!

    So, you see the proverbial fly in the political ointment of your proposed political aristocracy is as always been, ethos, pathos and logos, in other words PEOPLE, and of course the selection process. But then, I AM no body and know nothing.
    Joe X

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  10. “…it can be very difficult to identify what reactionaries support. … we are a varied group not united by a common philosophy, but by a common enemy.”

    As is abundantly evident in the comments. The plain fact is that building a working system from nothing — and nothing, or perhaps just a lot of rubble, is what we would likely be starting with, if we were actually to get the chance to try our hands at government-building — is almost certain to be far more difficult than we, in our armchairs, might imagine. The likelihood is that should the cataclysm come to pass, our little plans and designs would be swept away in a far more untidy process than we would prefer, and Power would find its way to the top.

    Even the “clean slate” we call the American Founding was built on a deep and unshaken foundation of British traditions and raised by a broadly homogeneous people who, for all their regional variations, had a very great deal in common. And this is what is essential for success, far more so than this or that political form: a basic commonality that can be a basis for comity; a sharing of culture, history, folkways, and heritage that is sufficient for the private life of the home to extend smoothly into the public square without the perceived infringements of social liberty that lead immediately to divisive resentments; and some broad agreement on those things that are to be held sacred, and that form the basis of civic virtue.

    With those things in hand, there are all sorts of political systems that can work tolerably well, but without them there are none. It is the great tragedy of our time — and I think that this is the understanding that binds all of NRx together, despite all of these theoretical disagreements — that we have squandered them all, and so find ourselves in a very unpromising situation.

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