Even prior to the twitterization catastrophe, and the terminal disintegration of thought into nano-particles, symphonic orchestration wasn’t obviously emerging as an Outside in core competence. One unfortunate consequence of this deficiency is that highly persuasive blogging ideas get endlessly can-kicked, unless they can be easily pulverized.
“Blogging ideas” doesn’t mean anything grandiose (those type of thoughts splinter anything in their path, and bust in), but rather highly medium-adapted discussion packages, which present things in a way that racks up hits. The relevant example right now is — or rather ‘was to be’ — The X Fundamental Disputes of Neoreaction (‘X’ being an as-yet undetermined number — optimally of surreptitious qabbalistic significance). That puppy would have been clocking up views like Old Faithful, but confusion reigns, and patience has run out. Into the shredding machine it goes.
The principal provocations for this spasm of impatience are two posts on the topic of monarchism, at Anomaly UK, and More Right. The Great AUK post is structured as a science fiction scenario, modeling a future monarchist regime, whilst Michael Anissimov’s MR defense of “traditionalism and monarchism” is organized dialectically. Both serve to consolidate an affinity between neoreaction and monarchist ideals that was already solidly established by Moldbug’s Jacobitism. It would not be unreasonable to propose that this affinity is strong enough to approach an identity (which is quite possibly what both of these writers do envisage). So the time to frame the monarchist case within a question, as a Fundamental Dispute of Neoreaction, is now.
Perhaps the first thing to note is that, even though Outside in adopts the anti-monarchist position in this dispute, it finds the Anomaly UK description of a future Britain remarkably attractive, and — without any hesitation — a vast improvement upon the present dismal state of that country’s political arrangements. In addition, there is not a single objection to the monarchist idea, among the ten listed by Anissimov, that we find even slightly persuasive. If these were the reasons to refuse monarchy government, any suggestion of republican sentiment would strike us as an obnoxious perversion. Our dissatisfaction with the monarchist solution has other grounds.
The primary concern is abstractly constitutional, which is to say, it arises from considerations of political engineering. For our purposes here, the concept of ‘constitutional government’ can be quite exactly specified, to refer to a blueprint for the mechanism of power that achieves cybernetic closure. An adequate constitution designs a fragmentation of authority, such that each element is no less controlled than controlling, with the result that sovereignty emerges from a distributed system, rather than inhering in concentrated form within any particular node. The simplest model for such a system is a dynamic triangle, comparable to the circuit of paper-scissors-stone, in which power flows nonlinearly, or circulates. Thus conceived, a constitution is a design for the dissolution of power reservoirs, in which the optimum administrative function of each node is a check, or restriction, on the effective authority of nodes downstream (within a circular arrangement). The achievement of dynamically stable governmental self-limitation through strategic fragmentation (of functions and powers) is the constitutional objective.
Clearly, monarchism represents a definitive abandonment of this constitutional ambition. It contends that, since sovereignty cannot be effectively or permanently dismantled, rational attention is better focused upon its concentrated expression. The monarchist case is able to draw great sustenance from the manifest degeneration of republican constitutionalism — most obviously within the United States of America — where its most radically deteriorated possibility, mass democracy, betrays a scarcely contestable inferiority to monarchical government in each day’s news headlines. It needs to be emphasized at this point that any constitutional republicanism which is less anti-democratic than absolute monarchy is, in that regard, contemptible. Neoreaction is essentially anti-democratic, but only hypothetically monarchist.
Republicanism, like monarchy, has a rich and deep historical archive of examples to draw upon, dating back to classical antiquity. The confusion between republican government and democracy is a recent and unfortunate eventuality. The historical reasons for this confusion are by no means trivial, but nor do they point inexorably to the monarchist conclusion. It is especially important to consider the possibility that the demotic destruction of monarchical regimes, and of functional republics, has been a parallel process, rather than a succession (in which republicanism served as an intermediate stage of political disorganization). A detailed historical analysis of the 1848 revolutions would bring out some of the complexity this topic introduces. In particular, it raises the question why the model of the Dutch Republic (1581-1795) was unable to offer a template for constitutional government of effective relevance beyond the Anglosphere. From the perspective of constitutional republicanism, the limited influence of the Dutch example marks a fatal historical bifurcation, exposing the European peoples to a calamitous bi-polar struggle between monarchical and democratic forces (from which our present ruin was hatched). It is also immediately evident from this perspective that the emergence of advanced capitalistic economic organization is inextricable from the propagation of the Dutch model (transplanted into the UK by the Glorious Revolution of 1688, and from there to the Anglophone New World). Since capitalism epitomizes cybernetic closure — a system without uncontrolled nodes — these connections should not surprise us.
Because monarchism dismisses the possibility of cybernetic closure, and thus asks us to accept the inevitability of uncontrolled nodes, or concentrated sovereignty, it necessarily compromises on the prospects of meritocratic selection. It argues, soundly enough, that we can do far worse than kings, and have done so, but in making this case it falls far short of the selective mechanism for excellence that capitalism routinely demonstrates. When Moldbug compares a monarch to a CEO, it is with the understanding that — under approximate free-enterprise conditions — business leadership has been socially sifted for rare talent in a way that dynastic succession cannot possibly match. The fact that the outcome of democratic-electoral selection is reliably far worse than the monarchical alternative does not indicate that ‘royalty’ represents an impressive solution to the meritocratic problem — it is simply less appalling than the one presently prevalent among our contemporary political systems. It is capitalism that has found the solution, from which any rational politics would seek to learn.
That monarchy is superior to democracy is a point of secure neoreactionary consensus, but this is a remarkably low benchmark to set. That there is anything beyond it recommending the return of kings remains an unsettled matter of dispute.