This is the second installment of the essay by Julius Evola that was published under the title Significato e funzione della monarchia. This section concludes Part I of the original essay.
If in the past, the bond of fidelity that united the subject and follower with the sovereign could be treated as a sacrament — sacramentum fidelitatis — something that was preserved even later as the quite perceptible foundation of a special ethics, an ethic, in fact, of loyalty and honor, which could acquire a particular force in the assumption, just now indicated, of the presence of a personalized symbol. In normal times, the fact that the sovereign as an individual might not always be at the height of the principle, did not matter; his function remained unprescriptive and intangible because obedience was not to the man but to the king and his person had value essentially as a support so that the capacity for super-individual dedication, that pride in serving freely and possibly even the readiness to sacrifice (as in the dramatic moments when a whole people rallied around their sovereign) could be awakened or propitiated, that they might constitute a way of elevation and dignification for the individual and, at the same time, the most powerful force to hold together the union of a political body and to limit in it what it has that is anodyne and disheartened, and in recent times has taken a dangerous extent.
That everything that cannot be achieved to the same extent in another form of political regiment, is quite obvious. A president of the republic can be flattered, but no one will ever recognize in him anything but a functionary, a “bourgeois” like any other, which only extrinsically, not on the basis of an inherent legitimacy, is vested with a temporary and conditioned authority. Whoever maintains a certain subtle sensibility perceives that ‘”being in the service of their king”, the “fight for their king” (even the fight “for their own country,” despite the romantic coloring, has in comparison something less noble, more naturalistic and collectivistic), the “representing the king”, all have a specific quality, all of which indicates instead a parodic, not to say grotesque, character when it pertains “to one’s own president”. Especially in the case of the army, high bureaucracy, and diplomacy (regardless of the nobility), this appears very obvious. The same oath, when it is not paid to a sovereign but to the republic or one or another abstraction, has something discordant and empty about it. With a democratic republic, something immaterial, but still essential and irreplaceable, is inevitably lost. The anodyne and the profane prevail. A monarchist nation that becomes a republic is, in a certain way, a “degraded” nation
If we observed that the kind of fluidity that forms around the symbol of the Crown is quite different from what may be related to the exalted “states of the multitude”, which can arouse or favor the demagogy of a popular leader, the difference also exists with regard to any simple nationalistic mysticism. Of course, the sovereign also incarnates the nation, symbolizes its unity on a higher plane, establishing almost, with it, a “unity of destiny.” But here we find the opposite of every Jacobin patriotism; there are none of those confused collectivizing myths that speak to the pure demos and that almost divinize it. It can be said that monarchy moderates, limits, and purifies simple nationalism; which, as it prevents any dictatorship replacing it with advantage, so it also prevents any nationalistic excess; it defends a structured, hierarchical, and balanced order. It is known that the most calamitous upheavals of recent times can be attributed mainly to unrestrained nationalism.
After what we have said, it is clear that we do not share at all the idea that monarchy at this point should be democratized, that the monarch should assume almost bourgeois features — “must come down from the august heights of the past and present himself and act in a democratic way,” as Loewenstein claimed. That would simply destroy his dignity and his raison d’être, as we indicated. The king of the north European countries who carries a valise, who goes shopping in the stores, who consents to letting radio or television display his well-behaved family life to the people including his tantrum-throwing children, or else the Royal House that is provided for the curiosity and gossip of the news magazines, and whatever else one thinks, might make people close to the king, including, in the end, a good-natured paternal appearance (if the father is conceived in a bland bourgeois form), all this cannot avoid damaging the very essence of the monarchy. The “Majesty” then really becomes an empty epithet of the ceremony. It has rightly been said that “the powerful who, through a badly understood sense of popularity, consents to get closer, ends up in a bad way.”
It is clear that take to take all that as firm, means going against the current. But, again, we pose an alternative: it is a question of accepting, or not, a state of fact as irreversible, thinking that only the useless vestiges of monarchy can exist. One of the elements to consider in this regard is the intolerance in our world, for distance. The success of dictatorships and other spurious political forms is due, in part, precisely to the fact that the leader is seen as “one of us”, the “Great Comrade,” and only in these terms is he accepted as a guide and obeyed. In these circumstances the concern for ‘popularity’ and for “democratic” means is quite understandable. But that, basically, is anything but natural; we do not see why he should be subordinated when the leader, in the end, is just “one of us” when an essential distance is felt, as in the case of the true sovereign. So a “pathos of distance” — to use one of Nietzsche’s expressions — should be substituted for that of affinity, in relationships that exclude any haughty arrogance on the one hand, and every servility on the other. This is a basic point, in its existential character, for a restoration of the monarchy. Without exhuming anachronistic forms, instead of propaganda that “humanizes” the sovereign in order to captivate the masses, almost on the same line as the U.S. presidential election propaganda, one should see to what extent traits of a figure characterized by some innate superiority and dignity can have a profound activity in a suitable context. A kind of asceticism and liturgy of power could play a part here. While just these traits will enhance the prestige of the one who embodies a symbol, they should be able to exert a force of attraction on common man, even pride, in the subject. Moreover, even in fairly recent times there has been the example of Emperor Franz Joseph who, while interposing the strict ancient ceremonial between himself and his subjects, while not imitating in the least the “democratic” kings of the small Nordic States, enjoyed a particular, not common popularity.
To sum up, the main prerequisite for a revival of monarchy, pursuant to the dignity and function which we mentioned, there remains, in our opinion, the awakening of a new sensibility for an order that is detached from the most material, and also the simply “social”, plane, and tends to everything that is honor, loyalty, and responsibility, because similar values in the monarchy have their natural center of gravity; while, in turn, the monarchy will be end up degraded, reduced to a simple formal and decorative survival when these values are not alive and active — first in an elite , in a real ruling class. They are not the same chords that the defender of the monarchical idea and of any other system must make resonate in the individual and in the community. So it is absurd to entrust the destinies of the monarchical idea to propaganda and a praxis that approximately copies the methods of the opposed party in a democratic spirit. Even today being able to ascertain the appearance of tendencies toward an authoritarian center, towards a “monarchy” in the literal sense (= monocracy) is not enough, after what we said about the profound differences which the various objectifications of the principle of unity and authority may present. The meaning of what is not allowed to be sold, bought, or usurped in the dignity and participation in political life is a decisive factor and escapes like water through their fingers for those who think only in terms of matter, of personal advantage, hedonism, functionality, and rationality. If one must no longer speak of that meaning because of the famous Marxist “meaning of history”, which is claimed to be irrevocable, we might as well set aside definitively the cause of monarchy. This would, moreover, be tantamount to profess the most bleak pessimism in regard to what still can appeal to man of recent times.