Saturday, October 24, 2015

Monarchy and the Unity Paradox

I've been longing for and advocating the restoration of fallen monarchies, especially in Europe, for nearly 25 years, more than any other political cause, and I'm only 37. I'll never give up. It's part of who I am to believe in the Return of the Kings. As my friend Charles Coulombe once said, the last monarchist will die when the last human being does. But I find it's getting harder to have much confidence that I will see Restoration actually happen anywhere. And a depressing thought that occurred to me recently is that even if by some miracle (and it does often seem like it would take a miracle) we monarchists were able to convince a majority of the population of a formerly monarchical country to back the restoration of the monarchy, we wouldn't convince everyone, and in all probability, since society would still be influenced by currents of modern thought derived from the French and Russian Revolutions, the opposition from those who are implacably hostile in principle to any hereditary public office would be so furious that it would be difficult or impossible for the newly restored Crown to fulfill one of its key functions, as a focus for national unity.

"Unity" is one of the most frequent arguments that defenders of constitutional monarchy make; I've made it myself. In theory, a hereditary monarch, who did not seek his office but serves because it is his duty, who does not owe his position to any particular partisan faction, who is not a product of anyone's ambition including his own, who no one voted against, is much better suited to serve as a focus for patriotism than an elected politician, inevitably the product of a divisive contest. Certainly monarchies even in modern times have served admirably as a focus for national unity (one thinks of the British and European monarchies during World War II), and still basically do in some countries (Denmark, Bhutan, Oman, and Thailand come to mind). But can we seriously argue that the Crown currently acts as a focus for national unity in Spain, Scotland, or Australia? In these countries and probably others as well, enough people (even if still a minority) are bitterly opposed to the very existence of the Crown that it's become one more divisive, controversial, political issue. That's probably one reason why despite claiming to be a Christian, and Christians aren't supposed to do this, I'm tempted to dehumanize abolitionist republicans: because the Crown's unifying function arguably only really works if virtually all of its subjects allow it to do so, or if those who vocally oppose it are not actually counted as people. I don't just disagree with British people who advocate the abolition of the Monarchy; I don't want them to exist at all, because they potentially ruin my concept of what the Crown is for the British people.

Don't get me wrong, I'm as passionately monarchist as ever; I personally love monarchies and I freely admit that I care more about myself and the people who agree with me than I do about those who don't, just as abolitionist republicans obviously don't care about the people in their country who would be deeply saddened, even devastated, by the loss of the Monarchy, or they wouldn't be abolitionist republicans. If that sounds shockingly selfish, I submit that there is no political controversy in which preference for the interests of one's own side, even (or especially) if outnumbered, is not present. But that's the problem: it wasn't supposed to be like this. The moment Monarchy itself (as opposed to the actions of a particular monarch, which have rarely gone entirely without opposition) becomes a "Controversy," it loses part of its essence. It can no longer quite be everything it is supposed to be. Those of us who love it can continue to do so as fervently as ever, but how much confidence can we have in the continuing reality of the traditional mystical sense that the Sovereign in a way is the Nation?


Matthew Celestis said...

I think the necessary political condition for a successful restoration would be the support of the two main political parties in the country. Not very easy, but not impossible.

Pair O' Dimes said...

As a Catholic who is trying to take prophecy seriously, I believe that, at least for those who live out their natural lifespans, we will see restoration relatively soon, so take heart. It just may come about through difficult means.

What you want is for these people's ideologies not to exist, not the people themselves. The whole point of being a Christian monarchist is to believe that people come before any ideology, even dogma. Therefore to dehumanize anyone is to fail to be a Christian monarchist.

Take heart, and seek God's comfort.