The Meaning and Function of Monarchy (3)

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Part II

After having considered the spiritual aspect of the problem of monarchy, it is necessary to indicate the aspects that are related on the positive, institutional, and constitutional plane. On such a plane, it will be necessary to make clear the specific function to attribute to monarchy and what differentiates a monarchical system from other systems. It is amazing that a comparable problem is almost not faced by the propaganda of the monarchists. In elections there were, even in Italy, discourses by the monarchists who blamed, more or less on the same lines of other sectors of the opposition, the dysfunctions of the republican democratic and partocratic State and the danger of communism, avoiding however indicating, in no uncertain terms and without fear, in which terms the presence of the monarchy would positively eliminate both, or, better put, in virtue of which particular prerogatives the monarchy would be for so much.

If one is really a monarchist, one cannot concede that the monarchy becomes reduced to a simple decorative and representative institution, a kind of nice furniture or, according to the image mentioned by Loewenstein, something like the golden figure that was put on the bow of a galleon; the State, in concrete terms, would remain that of the republican parliamentary democracies, concerning the king only to countersign, as would a president of the republic, whatever the government and parliament decide. The restoration should instead involve a kind of monarchical revolution (or counter-revolution).

The well-known maxim “the king reigns but does not govern”, should be opposed to the other: “the king reigns and rules” — rules, of course , not in terms of the absolute monarchies of the past, but, in the normal way, in the framework of established law and a constitution. In this regard, the best example was given to us by the previous central European monarchies, for which Loewenstein has not hidden his strong antipathy. Not only a regulatory, moderating, and arbitral power with respect to various political forces should be reserved to the sovereign but also that of a last resort. The constitution and the law should not be made into fetishes. Constitution and law do not fall ready-made from heaven, they are historical formations and their intangibility is conditioned by the normal course of things. When this course fails, when faced with emergency situations, a higher power must assert itself positively, which has remained dormant and inactive under normal conditions; it does not for this reason cease to constitute the center of the system. The king is the legitimate subject of that power. He can and must exercise it whenever it is necessary, saying, “Thus far and no farther,” and preventing every subversive revolutionary movement (preventing it by means of a “revolution from above”), as well as any dictatorial upheaval whose only justification is the lack of a true center of authority.

It is not said that such power must be exercised directly by the sovereign; he may do it through a capable and decisive chancellor or prime minister who, strong in the support of the Crown and essentially responsible as its face, can deal with the situation. The case of Bismarck in the “institutional conflict” mentioned by Loewenstein corresponds to this possibility. Certain of the confidence of the sovereign, Bismarck could also take no account of parliament’s opposition and by following his path, he made ??the greatness of Germany, receiving later the approval of his work in a new constitution.

One might venture to say that, in part, there was a similar situation at first sight when the King of Italy supported Mussolini, granting him powers that however, Victor Emmanuel himself, if he had not felt so constitutionally bound, could have exercised, so as to impose an order on an Italy shocked by subversion and the social crisis through new structures, without the need of fascism, and preventing those developments —defined by some in terms of a “diarchy” — which finally undermined to some extent his position through the presence, almost, of a state within the state. At decisive moments a sovereign should never forget the saying of an ancient wisdom: Rex est qui nihil metuit (The king is the one who fears nothing). Through a badly understood humanitarianism, in extreme cases, even the danger of battles in which blood might flow, he cannot be afraid because this is not about persons, but of making authority, order and justice rule above all things, against possible turmoil by a part of it. The formula, as we have already stated: “Thus far and no farther.” In unexceptional situations Benjamin Constant’s conception of the Crown as the “fourth power”, as an arbitral and balancing function, can be accepted. Even the rights recognized by Bagehot for the Crown: the right to be consulted, the right to encourage, the right to warn, are unexceptionable.

Therefore, ??a shift of the center of gravity should be effectuated with a monarchical restoration. A national delegation may also be chosen by the “people”, according to some modality (which we will return to), but it should be responsible, in primis et ante omnia , over against the king, according to relations of personalized responsibility which would close the door on many forms of democratic corruption. The king should be, therefore, the supreme point of reference, and the previously mentioned values ??of loyalty and honor should be felt, rather than the representatives being the instruments of the parties and the mysterious, ephemeral entity of the “people” whom they exploited, and who alone has the power to confirm or repeal according to the system of absolute democracy, i.e., of officially recognized universal suffrage.

On the other hand, for a true renewal of monarchy the ideal of an organic State needs to be present, through which the problem of the compatibility in general between monarchy with the system of absolute parliamentary democracy cannot be evaded. The superimposition of one over the other can only lead to something of a hybrid. It is to be considered that if the hoped for change in mentality will be achieved, the absurdity of the system of representation based on indiscriminate universal suffrage will gradually be recognized, i.e., on the law of pure number, having as the obvious premise not the conception of the citizen as a “person” but his degrading reduction to an interchangeably undifferentiated atom.

In this regard, it must be remembered that modern democracy in its absolute form is one thing, another is a system of representation, the latter not necessarily coinciding with the former. It is known that a system of representation also existed in traditional monarchical States, but generally as organic representations, i.e., of bodies and orders, not of ideological parties. To want to consider the parties, the best system would be bipartisan, accepting an opposition that acts constructively and dynamically within the system, not outside of it or against it. (For example, that a revolutionary or communist party, whenever it observes certain purely formal statuary norms, can be considered “legal” and must be allowed in a national assembly even though its stated or implied program is the overthrow of the existing order, is a true absurdity). Apart from the bipartisan solution, already adopted with advantage in England’s monarchy, the representative system that through its most organic character should be harmonized with the monarchy would be traditional corporative, in the broadest sense, without reference to the attempt, which was made ??by fascism with the creation of a corporate rather than partocratic Chamber. Perhaps the current Portuguese system — the Spanish to a lesser extent — will approach the desired order. Loewenstein highlighted the alternative that would occur in the case of a restoration, because either the king is supported on the upper classes who are more inclined to sustain the monarchy, and then he would play into the hands of those who are quick to accuse him of conservative reactionism, or else he goes toward the working classes and, in general, starts acting as the “king of the people,” and then he would dangerously alienate the support of the other part of the nation.

7 thoughts on “The Meaning and Function of Monarchy (3)

  1. The mentioning of the Portuguese Estado Novo is a welcome concrete example of what Evola is imagining. The reign of Frederick the Great of Prussia and his successors would similarly seem to be along the lines he is considering. Unfortunately one of the things that undermined many of these regimes was that the “revolution from above” undermined its own authority by depriving its citizens of the rights the regime itself claimed to uphold. It is always far better to win an enemy over than to fight him; similarly, the monarchic (or “conservative”) state is more stable insofar as it defuses radicalism by co-opting it. This is something which Bismarck in particular understood with regards to his socialist foes, although much to his chagrin.

    Their other fatal weakness, particularly in the case of Portugal, was that when it came to the actual act of governing, they were sometimes the victims of severe incompetence. Double-digit inflation was a recurring problem in Portugal. and bad planning during Spain’s industrialization threatened the social order of the quickly expanding Spanish cities. Corruption was of course always a problem and this is a problem which any true proponent of an ordered State must face. It’s not good enough to say “well look at the others”…we must strive to a higher standard.

    As an aside, I’m currently reading Massie’s “Nicholas and Alexandra”, his work on the last Russian Tsar. It provides a good picture of the failures of this Tsar to maintain the more direct “autocracy” of the Russian monarchy and a firm hand on his advisors as revolutionary subversion spread. His father, Alexander III, would also likely be of interest to many on Gornahoor.

  2. Looks like I will be busy reading this summer.

  3. The last successful attempt at that, Constantine, was the Bible (NT not just the 10 commandments). Practice the sacraments and doctrines of the Church to hammer in the necessary dogma. Exoteric manifestos have not faired well in the modern era.

  4. Manifesto ? Try Men Among the Ruins for Evola’s take. For those more in line with Europe’s Mediaeval past try the writings of Plinio Correa de Oliveira.

  5. The short answer, Constantine, is that they are waiting for George to do it. Other than that, I find it quite remarkable that you were able to pack so many misconceptions into just two sentences. Kudos for that.

  6. You may take your pick of political manifestos:

    But if we mean philosophical perennialism, consider the idea of writing a manifesto to tell people to read Meister Eckhart or “The Alchemical Wedding” or something like that… it’s kind of silly.

  7. This maybe a bit out of topic, but I wonder why Traditionalists have not published a political manuscript that is similar in structure to the Communist manifesto? Or is that too much to ask.

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