Regular readers will understand that I don’t want to live under any dominance hierarchy. But the truth is that monarchy, overall, was a far less oppressive system than what now passes for democracyAnd please read issue #42 of the Free-Man’s Perspective newsletter (The Truth About Democracy) for the proper background on this..
Of course this is a fairly ignorant thing for me to say, having never lived under a monarchy, save for short stays in Monaco. But I think there’s a strong case to be made for this, and I’d like you to see it.
Point #1: Who’s to Blame?
When things went badly under a monarchy, everyone knew who was to blame: the monarch. Kings and princes weren’t nearly all-powerful, and a king who did stupid things got a lot of pressure. They were regularly threatened and fairly often overthrown.
Now, under “democracy,” everyone is to blame, which means no one is to blame. As John Kenneth Galbraith wrote in The Age of Uncertainty:
When people put their ballots in the boxes, they are, by that act, inoculated against the feeling that the government is not theirs. They then accept, in some measure, that its errors are their errors, its aberrations their aberrations, that any revolt will be against them.
Sure, some measure of responsibility attaches to a president, but nothing like what attached to the king. Some of the best modern thinkers have concluded that democracy depletes the will of people to rebel. Alvin Toffler, for example, specifically blames elections, which he calls “reassurance rituals”:
Voting provided a mass ritual of reassurance… Elections symbolically assured citizens that they were still in command… Elections took the steam out of protests from below.
Allan Bloom wrote something similar in The Closing of the American Mind:
[S]ycophancy toward those who hold power is a fact in every regime, and especially in a democracy, where, unlike tyranny, there is an accepted principle of legitimacy that breaks the inner will to resist…
Because people have been assured that they are ruling themselves, their will to resist has been drained away, and they simply submit. Needless to say, this is a very serious danger.
Point #2: Whose Debt?
Kings and princes were personally responsible for the loans they took. When they defaulted, as they did fairly often, the lenders were simply out that money. As Meir Kohn of the economics department at Dartmouth University writes:
The debt of a territorial government was essentially the personal debt of the prince: if he died, his successor had no obligation to honor it; if he defaulted, there was no recourse against him in his own courts.
But along with democracy – with people believing they were themselves the ruler – came the concept of public credit. And that meant that the debts of the rulers passed to the people and become their responsibility.
And so the politicians who borrowed the money were disconnected from the obligation to pay it back. Instead, all debts passed to the people (and their children) who had no part in the original transaction.
Average people had no idea that democracy would load them with massive debts, of course, but that’s how it happened anyway. Democracy massively indebted the people and provided unheard of levels of protection to the bankers.
Point #3: Democracy Is a Cult
Go to a cocktail party anywhere in the Western world and ask people what the best form of human governance is. Almost universally, they’ll say, “Democracy.” Ask them why they believe such a thing, however, and you’ll mainly get blank stares. On occasion you’ll get, “Democracies don’t go to war with other democracies.” (Which isn’t trueA list of such wars can be found here, and it fails to mention the UK and Argentina going to war in 1982..)
In other words, a solid billion people have unquestioned faith in democracy, with more or less nothing backing it up. This is a far worse level of dogma than ever was enjoyed by the Catholic Church. It at least had to contend with the Bible as an external reference. Granted, literacy was poor, but memory was good, and people heard the scriptures at church. All the reformers used the Bible to dismember Church dogma.
What do we have now? Democracy is an idol without a natural antagonist. Everyone knows it’s the greatest thing, because everyone knows it’s the greatest thing. For the sake of human sanity, democracy must, at the least, be fiercely challenged.
Democracy is the greatest!
Democracy gave us medicine!
Democracy gave us technology!
Democracy gave us freedom!
Democracy gives us peace!
Except that none of the above is true. They’re all empty dogmas.
Democracy released the ruling class from most of its restrictions and was a godsend for big banks. It saddled the people with endless debts, grew government to an unimaginable size, and drained the will to resist.
Monarchies were highly variable of course, but on average, they left people far freer, more awake in important ways, and massively less indebted.
* * * * *
As it turns out, history was never too hard to understand; they just told you the wrong story.
Comments from readers:
“This is the most amazing little book I have read on history in 36 years of reading history.”
“It will change the way you look at nearly everything.”
“I will flat out say that this is the best history book I have ever read… I am fairly well read, but I learned a tremendous amount that I hadn’t known before or hadn’t aligned so that it made sense.”
“This is the best and clearest description of the history of Western civilization I have ever read.”
“Packed with insights on every page concerning how the world came to be the way it is and what we might expect in the future.”
* * * * *
References [ + ]