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Monarchy or Republic: A Rational Debate
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EverRespect Offline
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Post: #1
Monarchy or Republic: A Rational Debate
By Otto von Habsburg in 1970. Yes, from the same Habsburg family that was perhaps the most successful and longest running monarchy in world history.

Don't take this as me endorsing monarchy. That is not the case. The purpose is to discuss at a high level the points and get you thinking a bit beyond kneejerk reactionism. I think I posted this on the Spin Room a few years ago and the result was a big failiure. Maybe the Buckley-Vidal room will generate a real discussion.

Some points here:

Quote:Republicans frequently claim, in addition, that monarchy is a form of government belonging to the past, while republicanism is that of the future. Even a slight knowledge of history is enough to disprove this. Both forms have been in existence since the earliest times (though the monarchical periods have usually lasted considerably longer than the republican ones). In any case, it is misleading to call an institution which we already find in ancient Greece, Rome and Carthage, the form of government of the future.


Quote:Once this point has been clarified, we can pass on to two other problems, which have frequently been dragged into this discussion and are threatening to poison the whole atmosphere. There is constant controversy about the relation between monarchism, republicanism and democracy. Here again we encounter the blurred thinking characteristic of our era of slogans and propaganda. The concept of democracy has become infinitely elastic. In Russia it is compatible with mass liquidations, secret police and labour camps. In America, on the other hand -- and occasionally in Europe -- even political theorists are frequently unable to distinguish between republicanism and democracy. Furthermore, both words are used to designate conceptions and characteristics that go far beyond the political field, and belong to the economic or sociological sphere. It must therefore be clearly stated that, generally speaking, democracy means the right of the people to participate in determining their own development and future.

If we accept this definition, we shall see that neither of the two classical forms of government is by nature linked with democracy. Democracy can exist under both forms, just as there exist authoritarian republics as well as monarchies. Monarchists, in fact, frequently claim democracy functions better under a monarchy than under a republic. If we look at present-day Europe, there is certainly some truth in this argument, though its validity may be restricted in time and space. At the same time, it is necessary to point out that in small states which are strongly rooted in their traditions, like Switzerland, democracy and republicanism can coexist successfully.
Quote:Socialism -- at least in its present- day form -- is essentially an economic and social program. It has nothing to do with the form of government. The republicanism of some socialist parties does not arise from their actual programs, but is due to the personal beliefs of their leaders. This is shown by the fact that the majority of the really powerful European socialist parties are not republican but monarchist. This is the case in Britain, in Scandinavia and in Holland. In all these countries we not only find excellent relations existing between the Crown and the socialists, but one cannot escape the impression that a monarchy provides a better soil for working-class parties than a republic. In any case, experience shows that socialism remains longer in power under a monarchy than under a republic. One of the great leaders of the British Labour Party explained this by the moderating and balancing influence of the Crown, which enabled socialists to carry through their program more slowly, more reasonably, and hence also more successfully. At the same time, a ruler standing above the parties represented a sufficient safeguard to the opposition, so that it need not have recourse to extreme measures in order to regain power. It could watch developments more calmly.

Quote:Legitimism, a special tie with one person or one dynasty, is something that can hardly ever be discussed in reasonable and objective terms. It is a matter of subjective feeling, and is therefore advocated or opposed by arguments ad hominem. Any rational discussion of current problems must therefore make a clear distinction between monarchism and dynastic legitimism. The form of government of a State is a political problem. It must therefore be discussed independently of the family or person who stand, or stood, at the head of the State. Even in monarchies dynastic changes take place. In any case, the institution is of greater importance than its representative; the latter is mortal while the former is, historically speaking, immortal.

Quote: Leaving aside purely emotional considerations, there are good arguments for both of these basic forms of government. The most important arguments in favour of republicanism can be summarized as follows: In the first place, republics are, with few exceptions, secular. They require no appeal to God in order to justify their authority. Their sovereignty, the source of their authority, derives from the people. In our time, which turns increasingly away from religious concepts, or at least refers them into the realm of metaphysics, secular constitutional concepts and a secular form of government are more easily acceptable than a form rooted, in the last resort, in theocratic ideas. It is, therefore, also easier for a republic to embrace a secular version of the Rights of Man. The advantage this form of government offers would therefore seem to be that it is in closer touch with the spirit of our time, and hence with the great mass of the population.

In addition, the choice of the head of State depends not on an accident of birth, but on the will of the people or of an elite. The president's term of office is limited. He can be removed, and if he is incapable it is easy to replace him. Himself an ordinary citizen, he is in closer touch with real life. And it is to be hoped that, with better education, the masses will become increasingly capable of choosing the right man. In a monarchy, on the other hand, once a bad ruler has ascended the throne, it is almost impossible to remove him without overthrowing the whole regime. And lastly it is claimed that the fact that every citizen can, at least theoretically, become president, encourages a sense of political responsibility and helps the population to attain political maturity. The patriarchal character of a monarchy, on the other hand, leads the citizens to rely on their ruler, and to shift all political responsibility on to his shoulders.

In favour of monarchism, the following arguments are put forward: Experience shows that kings mostly rule better, not worse, than presidents. There is a practical reason for this. A king is born to his office. He grows up in it. He is, in the truest sense of the word, a "professional," an expert in the field of statecraft. In all walks of life, the fully qualified expert is rated higher than the amateur, however brilliant. For particularly in a difficult, highly technical subject -- and what is more difficult than the modern State? -- knowledge and experience outweigh sheer brilliance. The danger certainly exists that an incompetent may succeed to the throne. But was not a Hitler chosen as leader, and a Warren Harding elected president? In the classical monarchies of the Middle Ages, it was almost always possible to replace an obviously incapable successor to the throne by a more suitable one. It was only with the decadence of monarchism, in the age of the courtly despotism of Versailles, that this corrective was discarded. Nothing would be more appropriate in a modern monarchy than the institution of a judicial tribunal, which could, if necessary, intervene to change the order of succession to the throne.

Even more important than the king's "professional" qualifications is the fact that he is not tied to any party. He does not owe his position to a body of voters or the support of powerful interests. A president, on the other hand, is always indebted to someone. Elections are expensive and difficult to fight. The power of money and the great mass organizations always makes itself felt. Without their help, it is almost impossible to become the head of State of a republic. Such support is not, however, given for nothing. The head of State remains dependent on those who helped him into the saddle. It follows that the president is mostly not the president of the whole people, but only of those groups that helped him to attain office. In this way, political parties or groups of economic interests can take over the highest command positions of the State, which then no longer belongs to the whole people, but, temporarily or permanently, becomes the privileged domain of one or another group of citizens. The danger exists therefore that a republic will cease to be the guardian of the rights of all its citizens. This, it is stressed by monarchists, is particularly dangerous at the present time. For today the rights of the individual and of minority groups are in greater danger than ever before. Financial power- concentrations and large, powerful organizations generally are everywhere threatening the "little man." Particularly in a democracy, it is extremely difficult for the latter to make himself heard, since this section of the population cannot easily be organized and is of no great economic importance. If even the topmost pinnacle of the State is handed over to political parties, there will be no one to whom the weak can turn for help. A monarchical ruler, on the other hand -- so it is claimed -- is independent, and is there for all citizens equally. His hands are not tied in the face of the powerful, and he can protect the rights of the weak. Particularly in an age of profound economic and social transformations, it is of the highest importance that the head of State should stand above the parties...

And, finally, the Crown contributes to political life that stability without which no great problems can be solved. In a republic, the firm foundation is lacking. Whoever is in power must achieve a positive success in the shortest possible time, otherwise he will not be re-elected. This leads to short-term policies, which will not be able to cope successfully with problems of world-historical scope.

http://www.worldfreeinternet.us/archive/arc15.htm
12-27-2017 09:41 AM
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nomad2u2001 Offline
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Post: #2
RE: Monarchy or Republic: A Rational Debate
I can see what he's saying.

In our system, it's all about scoring points for legacy. Those points are gained by finding problems. You don't even have to solve the problems, just take a side on them. There is also a desire to have some sweeping legislation always on the horizon.

I think, with a more stable executive branch in the system, we wouldn't have had things like Obamacare (something that was just passed so they could say they passed something for legacy).
12-27-2017 03:50 PM
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Claw Offline
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Post: #3
RE: Monarchy or Republic: A Rational Debate
"The danger exists therefore that a republic will cease to be the guardian of the rights of all its citizens."

I fail to see any good argument that the same thing can't happen with a monarchy. Much of history says it can.

Is it possible for Americans to even try to treat this subject objectively? I still get offended when I see the "royal family" on the news.
12-27-2017 10:03 PM
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miko33 Offline
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Post: #4
RE: Monarchy or Republic: A Rational Debate
If you go with the assumption that a modern monarchy would be linked to a form of parliamentary gov't - which would be the most popular form of democracy in Europe - there is no doubt that it could work. Great Britain is a constitutional monarchy that - IMHO - is actually an incomplete form of a classical parliamentary system where a Prime Minister has to deal with a President. Great Britain used to have this with the lone exception that the president was a king/queen. It evolved away from the royal family having any actual gov't involvement/oversight. There are still a whole slew of problems with running a system of gov't like this. IMHO, it only works in the UK because the royals had their power stripped away from them in all things except ceremonial duties. In that case, it doesn't matter if the monarch is a fool.

IMHO, it only works if the monarchy is a weaker branch in a parliamentary system where the legislature can tell the monarchy to **** off if the majority of the ruling coalition in the legislature disagrees with the royals. If you guys get your asses chapped over elected officials staying in gov't too long...you would hate a constitutional monarchy where we could have a "president" for decades. Also, there would have to be a way to peacefully remove a royal family from power. See the Spanish Habsburgs and Charles II.

Any form of monarchy based on feudalism or pure monarchy that is derived from the tribal chief days is a nonstarter and not worth consideration.
12-28-2017 07:23 AM
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aTxTIGER Offline
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RE: Monarchy or Republic: A Rational Debate
(12-27-2017 10:03 PM)Claw Wrote:  "The danger exists therefore that a republic will cease to be the guardian of the rights of all its citizens."

I fail to see any good argument that the same thing can't happen with a monarchy. Much of history says it can.

Is it possible for Americans to even try to treat this subject objectively? I still get offended when I see the "royal family" on the news.

I have a British friend(now US Citizen) who has lived in the US for a decade. I have an irrational anger anytime he speaks on any subject politically or historically older than he's been here.

We agree completely on the Forrest statue situation here in Memphis, but every time he starts talking I just want to say "My family fought 2 wars against you to get you to STFU!" Then I realize I am being irrational. But that base anger is still there. LOL
12-28-2017 10:09 AM
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Love and Honor Offline
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Post: #6
RE: Monarchy or Republic: A Rational Debate
If I recall correctly Plato argued in The Republic that the best possible government was that which sought justice and virtue above all in the form of a perfect single ruler; however, it was most prone the worst form of government (tyranny) in which there are no restraints, as it is all driven by the insatiable passion of the tyrant. In practice he thought a mixed regime (part monarchy, part democracy) in which all are subject to the rule of a law was next-best and most realistic.

Aristotle believed the rule of law was above all else in conjunction with citizens that possess the moral virtue to carry it out by being eligible for political office, but that various forms of government were fine depending on whose benefit they governed for. For example, one ruler was fine if they ruled on behalf of the public, but if they did so in self-interest it became a tyranny.
(This post was last modified: 12-28-2017 11:46 PM by Love and Honor.)
12-28-2017 10:04 PM
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EverRespect Offline
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Post: #7
Monarchy or Republic: A Rational Debate
I think, due to many of Habsburg's arguments, that a monarchy will yield the best potential result. A republic will never produce someone that can accomplish what Alfred the Great, Augustus Caesar, Constantine, or Charlemagne did because of the restraints of checks and balances and the political special interest forces needed to maintain power. On the other hand, it will also yield the worst potential result. A republic will never produce a Caligula, King John, Philip II, Nero, or Ivan the Terrible due to the same restraints.

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12-29-2017 09:15 AM
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Crebman Offline
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Post: #8
RE: Monarchy or Republic: A Rational Debate
As Mico pointed out, a ceremonial monarchy could be led by an idiot and it wouldn't much matter.

Anything beyond that is trusting in the benevolence of an individual/family to not only do the right thing, but to also make intelligent decisions. While I will agree that a monarchy wouldn't feel the same political pressures a democratic republic system does, it also doesn't have a very good mechanism for "throwing the bum out" if the monarch turns out to be an idiot.

I guess I'll live with the fits and starts of a system that is set up for an orderly changing of the guard. Historically, the changing of monarchical heads generally occurs upon death, be it forced or natural.

My bigger question is if the parliamentary system might not be better than the system we have?? It seems it might be better for getting things done. Not saying they might indeed do some things wrong, but our system today is marked more by its inability to do much of anything.

You know the saying "It takes a act of congress to do something" meaning damn near impossible.... well, it mostly means they continue to spend lots of money without accomplishing much.......
12-31-2017 09:45 AM
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Owl 69/70/75 Offline
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Post: #9
RE: Monarchy or Republic: A Rational Debate
My opinion:

A big part of the problem is that it takes so much to get an act through congress that the executive branch is tending to do far too much unilaterally. The proliferation of executive agencies run by unaccountable bureaucrats is the biggest threat to our democracy (or republic, if you prefer). Making those agencies more accountable to congress and through the courts would be a step in the right direction.
(This post was last modified: 12-31-2017 10:44 AM by Owl 69/70/75.)
12-31-2017 10:43 AM
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Crebman Offline
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RE: Monarchy or Republic: A Rational Debate
(12-31-2017 10:43 AM)Owl 69/70/75 Wrote:  My opinion:

A big part of the problem is that it takes so much to get an act through congress that the executive branch is tending to do far too much unilaterally. The proliferation of executive agencies run by unaccountable bureaucrats is the biggest threat to our democracy (or republic, if you prefer). Making those agencies more accountable to congress and through the courts would be a step in the right direction.

Well, you'd think it would be pretty easy to get a bunch of single item bills through Congress alleviating the need for the executive branch legislating via fiat........except none of them wants to put their names on anything until after they figure out if it is popular or not. Maybe we could suggest they govern and legislate via polls. We know how accurate those are!
12-31-2017 01:54 PM
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