Retrospectives on eras of collapse penned by those suffering the fallout thereof are always looking to attribute causation. We all have an ax to grind. Nostalgia and remorse aside, the chief tendencies of “men among the ruins” are disillusionment, cynicism, and desperation. And contrary to what you’ve heard, hindsight isn’t always 20/20.
Though eclipsed by its antitheses in the Enlightenment, Marxism, and Postmodernism, the Reformation is with growing frequency being identified as the killer of Western civilization. Lashing out against the whelming humanist nightmare encircling us, many confused men strike instead at the remaining bulwarks against the revolution. Thus many, desperate and disillusioned, aiming at counterrevolution, are coopted by the revolution themselves.
One such popular target of late is the Theonomic Constitutional Republic. If, many reason, this artifact of Calvinist order has imploded in America no less than South Africa, the concept must be fatally flawed in itself. Of course, Dabney famously refuted this notion of judging the merit of a cause by the outcome of any contest, a notion which we have identified as the doctrine of ordeal. Besides which, it just proves entirely too much, because all political-social orders in history have fallen — including that first Theonomic Republic, Israel, born under the divine administration of Moses and Joshua. If the government bestowed directly from heaven is vulnerable to the turpitude of men, there is clearly no administrative form which can perfectly ameliorate the human condition.
But turning anew to the absolutist presuppositions of Rome, many imagine a panacea to socio-civil collapse to be found in a return to monarchy; an idea which they have embraced on the strength of Hoppe’s utilitarian apologetic which boils down to:
1) a hereditary monarch is more personally invested in his nation than bureaucrats; and
2) should he wax tyrannical, the matter can be remedied with but a drop of poison.
Mind you, Protestantism is not categorically opposed to monarchy. Luther deferred, after all, to the German princes as a hedge against the Pope, Calvin addressed his magnum opus to the King of the Franks, John Knox affirmed monarchy in the Scots Confession, and the 1646 Westminster Confession affirmed the same.
However, all of these were provisional endorsements contingent on the king’s obedience to Christian order. Meaning, the king was understood to be under the law of God and qualified as legitimate only to the extent that he was a faithful minister to his people under God.
This fundamental proviso was taken for granted in the 1599 Geneva Bible commentary, and formed the thesis of Rutherford’s Lex, Rex. Per the fact that it was taken up by ancient Israel in defiance of God’s prescribed republic of diffuse and countervailing powers under elder-judges, monarchy was permitted only under God’s forbearance. This was even Augustine’s position long prior to the Reformers.
But so long as a king served the interests of Roman imperium, the prelates had come to deny all these things, arguing instead that kings were absolute powers, and the very voice of God on earth. This was the doctrine of divine right. An artifact of heathenism embraced in Anglicanism as much as Romanism. So much so that when the Anglicans argued contra the Puritans, they went so far as to boast that the monarch is not only head of the church, but also that all the essential doctrines of the Christian faith are subject to revision should the king deem it so. Be they robbers, whoremongers, mass-murderers, or traitors against their own people, Romanism and Anglicanism agreed that the king was immune to all recriminations by his people.
This is the scenario tested and proven in the English Revolution* – which really wasn’t a revolution at all, but the self-defense of a nation against treason at the highest level, and therefore, a counterrevolution.
Note that when Parliament was forced to issue the death warrant of Charles I for his calling on foreign armies to wage war against his own people, Royalists refused to recognize his deposition, let alone execution, as legitimate. They insisted rather that the king’s reign was absolute, save impeachment by the pope; and his execution was, from their perspective, blackest treason, regicide; which, they argued, is something akin to deicide. Thus would Royalists regard Cromwell a killer of Christ by proxy. And so long as we’re talking about that particular incident, Royalists are more or less of the same opinion still, the Anglican church even having canonized Charles both a martyr and saint.
So then, the very apologetic used of monarchists today was, at the time of the Reformation, decried by the same as the greatest malefaction possible. After repudiating the lawful execution of a king turned tyrant and traitor, they hold up the proverbial goblet of hemlock-mulled wine as the moral solution to tyranny? Born of desperation, this is just sloppy thinking as a pretext to revive that moribund institution, absent any regard for consistency.
Moreover, the notion that the implicit threat of assassination uniquely restrains monarchs is naive in the extreme. Assassination is no more disincentive to tyranny for a king than to a prime minister, president, or dictator.
And while a courtly medievalism certainly seems better than the socio-civil squalor of contemporania, if you proceed on the assumption that the republic’s collapse proves its inadequacy, monarchy fared no better. If monarchy better assured the loyalty of government to the people and moral order, then the old royal houses of Europe would have proven loyal. But the truth is, they, like the kings of Israel before them, tended to decadence, infidelity, and treachery. The remaining royal houses of Europe, such as the house of Windsor, certainly show no signs of fealty to faith or folk.
And in truth, what we have called “monarchies” have almost always been rule by oligarchy, i.e., consortiums of advisors. So to uproot a tyrannical king, it would need to be dealt with as a regime and the organized elite back of it. Else, monarchs only make convenient patsies for the power behind the throne, which has typically been the money power. Which has, often as not, meant Jews.
Most ironically, though, this monarchist apologetic that has gained so much traction of late was ultimately rejected by the very man who framed it: yes, Hans-Hermann Hoppe himself concluded, “I am not a monarchist.” If the fellow who framed and popularized the idea himself doesn’t even endorse it, that’s a dog that just won’t hunt.