Democracy and Aristocracy

Holy Roman Empire - Reichskrone 1024 - 1039

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As I’ve eluded to in the past I began from a Socialist perspective on politics, but as late as my classical liberal phase I remember being irrationally anti monarchy, I recognized as far as issues go it was a small one but I genuinely felt the principle of having an un-elected head of state was undemocratic, unhealthy and therefore wrong and harmful, upon discovering the merits of basic property and inheritance rights I recognized from a Jeremy Paxman speech on Monarchy that from the perspective of self interest a monarch has “a duty to the country that has nothing to do with personal preferment or advancement” (to paraphrase the 1922 king of Albania, Zog I).

I furthermore surmised there was no incentive to act in a way that would be detrimental to their country, as this can only lead to them losing what they have and risking the prosperity and security of their offspring with no hope of gain and any increase in prosperity or happiness would in turn benefit him. Furthermore I realized that they are a ward of the state and are therefore immune to corruption as they need not take risks, suck up or act dishonestly or disingenuously because they cannot obtain a promotion; they are already the head of state and they owe that position not to patronage but to antiquity of blood and are therefore unlikely to be beholden to anyone. I began to understand the confluence of variable factors which made the scale from absolute monarchy to limited monarchy, from primogeniture inheritance to elected monarchies, duel dynasties and civil principalities; each of these have their eu-civic and dis-civic aspects, pros and cons depending on the variation in these spectra and combinations of factors.

Some have utilities that are readily apparent and even vital in one system that will prove useless or even fatal in another. That is not to say no system is better than any other, but no policy by itself can rightly be considered the correct one without considering the synergy of the policies and their holistic effect. And in terms of the mechanical effect I do not see, nor have I ever seen the advantage in representative democracy whereby elected representatives would form a government via a system that was intended to convey the feelings and issues as expressed by the people to the government. And representative democracy has two main flaws, the primary one being that most people have no idea or reason to have an idea of whom or what to vote for. The secondary reason is the randomness of the process, people vote for issues not ideologies, based on their own views. So how would one even divide the separation of issues and votes? Let’s ignore the practical issues and examine how it wouldn’t work in concept. Those familiar with the horseshoe theory will understand that people from opposite sides of political spectra sometimes share policies those between don’t. In a direct democracy you could easily find it being communists that end up enacting a Nationalist victory either by party or a confluence of seemingly unrelated issues. either this or the tyranny of majority rule, which is derived from the notion of plebiscite mass consensus which likewise has little to do with good governance. Hence why I find these notions of mass consensus frivolous, vacuous and filled with idealistic platitudes for their lukewarm defenders as even if there are no practical problems the system itself doesn’t produce any meaningful response, merely a deduced aggregate blob of data with no relevance to any issue or problem the society might face.

Then during my civic nationalist phase when I was becoming interested in Governance structures I recognized there was something that the American constitution was lacking, that being there is no head and thus no assurance of the veracity of your legal system. The united states legislative system lacked something identified by the Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI when he established a modern state in Sicily with a normative and legislative body, which relied upon Roman law, as opposed to canon law which presented him with a problem, who governs the magistrates? Since in the US and eventually all democratically governed judiciaries Judges, rather than obeying and upholding precedent and taking a traditional interpretation of the law they will eventually be vulnerable to corruption and selective interpretation of legislation to the point where the legislative branch might as well not exist at all as the judicial branch is effectively and functionally sovereign. The only way of avoiding this is to have the hereditary element at the head of your state for their anti corruption element, managing the veracity of the judiciary is a traditional responsibility and seems to be the only method geared towards the judiciary performing the function they are intended to perform.  Sicily had a loose legal precedence of primarily byzantine origin with some Norman centralization and Henry created a legal system of weights and balances like the american system. However in order to maintain the traditional interpretation of the constitution he made the Judicial branch of government subservient to the crown, thereby maintaining the veracity of the judicial system as the monarch had no incentive to corrupt his own legal system and remove his subjects access to justice and he could even be trusted to appoint a deputy to ensure the validity of the judiciary and his deputy would be subservient to the monarch in much the same way a chairman owner can appoint a CEO to run day to day affairs with minimal oversight, the point is the competent and meritocratically appointed position of CEO can never do the same job as the owner, the owner must ensure the work of the CEO, who’s descendants will never inherit their position, is being done; the CEO can’t do this themselves, and has no natural incentive to do so. A CEO has the incentive to go to board meetings due to his salary but the owner/shareholders must keep him in line and ensure his work is done; this is because they either nominally or substantively believe the business to be theirs because they own it and any vicissitudes of the business are felt by them personally. Weather or not the monarchy is limited, civil or absolute a monarch is either nominally or substantively the owner of the country, weather or not you wish to denote them with that honour in name or a first among equals policy to the monarch the principle is the same.

The dynastic element, though not limited to monarchs but is inherent even in basic private property respecting systems or societies, and is clearly inherent in the Roman and Venetian senatorial classes, with only occasional friction between parties and general disagreement on policy combined with self interest and political machinations that prevents this loose class ownership from being a suitable candidate for governance. However the concept of the utility of dynasties cannot be avoided, for who has not heard the phrase “politics is the concern of the next four years, governance is the concern for the next forty”. Only by having the dynastic element at the top of ones society can one seek to ensure that those in power will act in the interest of the state as it aligns the interests of the parental ruler-ship class with the interests of the state. Furthermore it is this dynastic scale which is the single greatest utility of the dynasty facet,with dynastic rule you get dynastic planning with dynastic timescales by default; it isn’t something you have to attempt to contrive after the fact as it is already inherently assured from the parental preservationist instinct and thus matches and deals with the natural world (the real world) and doesn’t try to redesign or fight it to seemingly no avail as purely meritocratic appointment is.

The senatorial class elected positions within the senate which gave it order but not structure, in the opposite way the Cardinals of the middle ages elected the Pope, an ecclesiastical Emperor of Europe and a secular King of the Papal States; rex et sacerdos and the princes of the Holy Roman Empire elected their King-Emperor. The problem with this form of elected non hereditary rule is that these monarchs are by default beholden to a master or masters in order to obtain these positions or they have amassed enough of their own power and influence otherwise that they will be compelled to support their dynastic power with their power by livelong election or appointment. Such was the case in the Holy Roman Empire many a time and many a time in the Papal States and elsewhere in Christendom but most notably with the Golden Bull of 1356 which named the German Dukes “domini terra” the masters and owner of their land, implying the king of the Romans was merely the temporary first among equals, since the King was also a prince in the Empire his dynasty didn’t benefit from an increase in imperial power; but did benefit from an increase in the power of the principalities since the Imperial family would benefit from such an increase in jurisdiction in their own lands . The cause of these issues clearly originates with the nature of the position, non hereditary and therefore up for grabs. That meaning people will want the position and seek to acquire it, risking much personal or patron wealth in order to attempt to obtain the position; therefore one who would rival him must do the same. To buy votes, to exchange favor and grant patronage of ones own; to be powerful enough to resist those who might seek to injure him and is this a sturdy candidate, naturally those who intend to utilize the prosperity of their livelong appointment towards their dynastic ends will be those who are acting most ruthlessly in self interest and it is little wonder why they tend to succeed.

There is another, less quantifiable, perspective one might use to show the superiority of aristocracy over an elected parliamentary democracy. The British Crown holds lands, mines, tourist sites and other businesses, and they do it well; so by all accounts does the Duke of Westminster and the Earl of Salisbury to name but two. The important point is that these aristocrats have run their estates well via the organic system of aristocracy, and only today have these estates began to transfer into businesses due to the self interest of the aristocrats themselves and the nature of modern draconian trustee regulations. I believe anyone reading this will be well aware of in inability of elected bureaucrats to run businesses, businesses are derived from natural laws and are therefore act as a kind of competency test, since it isn’t something contrived and you either succeed or fail due to your ability to recognize empirical issues and act accordingly. For the same confluence of reasons that elected or appointed government bureaucracies don’t run business well, the organic system of balances not being in place to run the organic system, whereas the organic system of feudalism, however diluted, are able to run business well. When using this heuristic it isn’t important to know the reasons for this but simply in the real world Democracies don’t run businesses well and aristocrats do; for the same causal reasons I would suggest that aristocracies are better able to run states well and Democracies aren’t.
My final point is able to be summered thus; weather you want or like the concept of aristocracy it may be something that is impossible not to exist in nature, as whenever a democracy is created an oligarchy forms above it and controls it, usually in the form of a loose kleptocracy. This is also the way that foreign princes usually maintain a composite state they have acquired, by empowering an oligarchy at the head of the state. This infiltration can be avoided by giving aristocratic casts to the ruler-ship class, such as the senatorial class in ancient Rome, this enabled them to act as a collective de facto monarchy and repelled any foreign interests with their own power due to the power they were able to seconder from the state, since like a prince they ruled over the state and felt collective ownership of the state. This is analogous of several families holding large share counts in a business and is vulnerable to the same weakness, that being an external power can without contrivance or deceit can buy his way into your organisation, and join the governing class. An example of this can be seen in Rome as the Greco Brutii who’s senior men were latinised and their chief accepted as a senator in exchange for their tribes capitulation to the Latins.

And the historic examples of the attempts at democracy be it Athens, Rome, Venice, Florence or even England during it’s civil war, each case shows the unsustainable nature of Democracy as it is not a system which can support itself, it almost by definition is a transitional system to something else; despite the fact that this is seldom the intention of those who have created or those who have opted for the creation of the democracy. Take for example the English civil war, after the round-heads ousted King Charles I and established the concept of the supremacy of Parliament the parliamentarians formed an oligarchy and used crony mercantilism to make themselves rich at the expense of the state. They finally proposed keeping themselves in office in perpetuity, abolishing elections, at which point Oliver Cromwell snapped realizing the futility of the republic he had helped to create and called in his soldiers to arrest the parliamentarians. Cromwell then established a military dictatorship over the country using the old mechanisms of state to legitimize his rule, making himself the Lord Regent and Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland. He accomplished that task which had been too much for all the kings of the middle ages, he conquered England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland with his own might and without the help of the Barons he managed to hold it with his own might alone, refashioning the central administration and civic infrastructure from scratch and reinventing the navy. Cromwell was able to do all of this in part due to his Cæsarist support, by no longer having to influence multiple parties or effect change in tacit ways he was finally able to enforce the changes he wanted to make much the same way as an absolute monarch, like a Roman or Chinese Emperor or the Ottoman Sultan’s. This method of rule has the advantage of allowing the mind of a single individual to act as the focal point for the direction and policies of the state, the nascent holistic understanding of one mind to act as navigation for the state. This prevents large elements of the state from working at cross purposes or even against one another.

The immediate and apparent disadvantage of this system is that you have no system by which to administrate and properly take into account the grievances of the lower classes unless the dictator be naturally inclined to do so. For with absolute rule usually comes patronage, and absolute rule and patronage create an impenetrable layer of sycophants who will not accurately report to their monarch the goings on of the state. Either out of fear of reprisal born from the failure of a civil service, though usually due to self interest and political contrivance. Whereas if the people have grievance through a junior bench of elected people from all classes there would appear to be a balanced system. I believe this is one of the many examples of why centralized states are externally stronger and decentralized states are internally more stable are therefore more difficult to hold one acquired.  I believe the many rebellions and the great deal of unrest that the Cromwell Lords had to deal with was due to this great centralization, as if power was more devolved he knew that the country would support the king’s men and therefore a restoration of the monarchy and an ousting of the Cromwell’s and therefore the unrest would have ceased, there being no need for it. Indeed the little support that Cromwell had in the country stemmed from the puritans, of which he was one and the proto-socialist leveler class who were a large portion of the army and the foundation of much of his support before he was forced to break them due to this lack of representation, this lack of decentralization. I feel that the system of the representation of the working class and local government could be even better improved upon by creating a metric for meritocratic entry in the traditional fashion in the Anglosphere, through local municipal civil elitism as can be seen in the City of London Corporation. The formation of such a meritocratic class can allow for the governance of the capable and will raise the general quality of the level of discourse within the commons, whilst leaving the complicating and detrimental aspect of forming a government away from the body designed to air their constituents grievances, as performing both functions seem to be mutually exclusive, the latter being fatal and the former being vital.

Finally there is that which cannot be ignored, class. That four sided coin which drives the wheel of change. And thus it can be said that for justified or unjustified reasons transitions in governance types are created from this four sided spinning coin. As from the discontent of the middle classes comes republicanism, from the working classes comes the demand for direct democracy or plebiscites, from the upper classes comes feudalism. how republics lead to oligarchy and the lack of an elite and how when societies collapse and resort to social Darwinism, out of which feudalism emerges as the strongest system, republics form from discontentment in the middle classes and lead to the lower classes participating and becoming the sovereign class, which lead to kleptocrates, which may lead to foreign takeovers, as can be seen in the USA today. Each of these reactions is reacting to a perceived wrong, a perceived injustice or imbalance with the way of things. But there is no reason to suspect that given the correct governance structure and understanding statecraft can’t be done well and the classes be content.

– Ælle Sussex, Editor-in-Chief

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