Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Paleomonarchists

A few weeks back, I mentioned that people who are interested in monarchy seem to belong either to the "Charles camp" or the "Diana camp". Tonight I'm reading Theodore's Royalty and Monarchy site, and Theodore has noticed the same division, though he doesn't put it the same way. Moreover, he confirms my suspicion that the two camps have different general beliefs:

What is a neomonarchist? Neomonarchists see monarchy as entirely separate from Left/Right political divisions. Their own political views are likely to range from liberal to moderately conservative, or they may not be very interested in politics at all. While respectful of the religious traditions associated with royalty, they are usually not particularly religious themselves. Neomonarchists are primarily concerned with the support of existing constitutional monarchies, such as the ten currently reigning in Europe, and it is this model of monarchy that they would advocate in the case of any possible restoration. Many of them enthusiastically follow the lives of contemporary royals, and are inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt when they are criticized. Neomonarchists tend to be socially liberal and so are unlikely to object to non-traditional marital alliances such as that of the Crown Prince of Norway with an unwed mother who had confessed to using drugs. They embrace multiculturalism and see monarchy as a potential unifying figure in Europe’s increasingly diverse countries, as exemplified by Denmark’s part-Chinese Princess Alexandra and the Prince of Wales’s interest in Islam. They enjoy contemporary popular culture and welcome royals’ interactions with it. Most importantly, neomonarchists are those royalists who have made their peace with modernity and do not see any fundamental conflict between monarchism (they may prefer to say “interest in royalty”) and liberal democratic values. Not especially prone to nostalgia, they are nevertheless often quite fascinated by the royal personalities of past eras, and have no problem sympathizing on a human level with members of autocratic royal families such as Russia’s Romanovs while rejecting everything that these royals stood for ideologically.

What is a paleomonarchist? Paleomonarchists are faithful to the original political framework of the French Revolutionary era, in which support for monarchy was one of the two fundamental issues (the other being religion) defining the Right, as opposed to the anti-royalist, anti-religious Left. Therefore they see their support for monarchy as an integral part of a counterrevolutionary rightist worldview—perhaps the most, but by no means the only, important political issue. They tend to be drawn to the most traditional and hierarchical forms of Christianity, particularly Eastern Orthodoxy or pre-Vatican II Roman Catholicism. Paleomonarchists tend to see today’s constitutional monarchies as, at best, pathetic shadows of what they used to be or, at worst, “window-dressing for socialist tyranny” (as one such correspondent of mine put it). They are unimpressed with democracy and yearn for the restoration of traditional monarchies such as those of the Bourbons, Hapsburgs, and Romanovs. Paleomonarchists may be rather indifferent to contemporary royalty, and find it hard to admire ceremonial heads of state who appear to embrace or at least tolerate so much of what traditionalists detest (socialism, secularism, multiculturalism, relaxed moral standards, pop culture, etc.). They would like princes and princesses to adhere to the old standard of marrying only persons of equal rank, or at least not single mothers. They tend to be skeptical of the multicultural transformation (via mass immigration) of Europe and resent the apparent enthusiasm of royals such as Prince Charles for it. In stark contrast to neomonarchists, paleomonarchists reject much of modernity, and monarchism is only part of their desire to “turn back the clock.”


I definitely want to turn back the clock.

I also agree with Theodore about this:

However, I part company with some other reactionaries in that I have a generally favorable view of contemporary royalty, and do not believe they can be blamed for failing to resist various unfortunate trends occurring in their countries over the course of the twentieth century. The reason for this is simple: democracy and egalitarianism have been incredibly powerful trends; consequently, without exception, every modern monarch who refused to become a “rubber stamp” lost his throne (and in the case of King Louis XVI and Tsar Nicholas II, his life). The most recent example of this phenomenon in Europe was Greece’s King Constantine II, whose attempted defense of his rights (and the Greek constitution) against the overambitious Prime Minister George Papandreou may have been heroic but ultimately led to the fall of the Greek monarchy.


I think it's best if the remaining royal families can continue playing an ornamental role so that they'll be in place when the world faces the fact that democracy isn't working out very well.

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