a better monarchy

I can understand the appeal of the idea of ethnostates. I can understand the appeal of nations bound together by a common culture, history and religion.

The only problem with the idea is that very few of the currently existing nations qualify as ethnostates.

Britain doesn’t qualify, unless you regard Scots and Welsh and English as interchangeable. Italy doesn’t qualify – northern Italians and southern Italians are certainly not ethnically interchangeable. Spain definitely doesn’t qualify. Belgium is most certainly not an ethnostate.

I’m not talking about these nations as they are today – even fifty years ago before the beginnings of mass immigration they were not ethnostates. Germany maybe, but it was divided on religious lines.

As for countries like Australia, maybe up until the 1940s there might have been a chance for a kind of ethnostate except for the fact of the Irish Catholics. Canada never had a chance, unless they were prepared to sacrifice Quebec. There was never the slightest chance in the US.

So the big problem is that the creation of European ethnostates would have required the dissolution of most of the major nation states. That would not necessarily have been a bad thing had the EU been conceived as a loose federation rather a centralised bureaucratic super-state.

It’s understandable that those who dislike globalism tend to lean towards nationalism since nationalism seems like the only viable alternative. But is it? Perhaps we should be looking at other alternatives. Perhaps we should look to the Holy Roman Empire as an alternative. The reputation of the Holy Roman Empire never really recovered from Voltaire’s characterisation of it as neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire. But in fact its weakness (or its apparent weakness) was the very thing that was so great about the Holy Roman Empire.

It was also the great strength of the empire of the Habsburgs which overlapped with but was by no means identical with the Holy Roman Empire. There was a strong enough central authority to keep it intact and provide a strong army but it was not string enough or bureaucratic enough to enforce conformity. As a result the Habsburg Empire had lots of diversity. Cultural diversity, ethnic diversity, linguistic diversity, even religious diversity.

How could this have worked? Very simple. It was a monarchy. Unity was maintained by a common loyalty to the House of Habsburg. If you want to maintain a unity based on a concept like shared values you need the apparatus of totalitarianism in order to do it. Unity based on loyalty to the crown does not require totalitarianism.

That’s one of the key weaknesses of the United States. The one thing that might have made America workable was a monarchy.

On paper Australia is lucky. We are a monarchy. But it doesn’t work and we are sliding towards the horrors of the proposition nation nonsense as a result. It doesn’t work partly because the House of Windsor is not our monarchy. An English queen cannot provide a focus for unity and loyalty. What we needed, right from the beginning, was our own monarchy. Our own king. The other reason it doesn’t work is that the Windsors are a truly awful family. They’re basically celebrity trash. They’d provide a great basis for a daytime soap opera but as a force for Australian unity they’re pretty useless.

Our problem is that the failings of the present monarchy are likely to result in a renewed push for a republic and that would be much much worse. We need a monarchy, but we need a better monarchy.

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democracy, morality, war and totalitarianism

One of the problems with democracy is that it tends to make everything everybody’s business. And if everything is everybody’s business then everything is the state’s business. As a result there is a slow but inexorable drift towards soft totalitarianism.

Democracy inevitably extends the range of things with which government is concerned. Everything becomes a political issue (today even marriage and the weather are political issues) and if something is a political issue then the government is supposed to do something about it.

Democracies also make everything into moral issues. The government is not only supposed to do something about everything, they’re supposed to do something which will make us all feel more virtuous.

Before democracy it was considered desirable that governments should govern wisely but nobody really expected the government to be a force for morality. Morality was the province of churches, and of the family. Morality was mostly enforced by social pressure. If you ran off with another man’s wife you could expect a great deal of social disapproval but you didn’t expect the government to have you arrested. Governments did enforce some moral rules but it was not really regarded as a core function of government.

Today’s morality is political correctness and there is a terrifying acceptance of the idea that governments have not merely a right but a duty to enforce that morality. But it’s not just political correctness – increasingly we accept the idea that the government should regulate every area of our lives, even down to what we eat.

Bizarrely, today even foreign policy is supposed to be moral. If you had suggested back in the 18th century that foreign policy should be conducted on moral lines people would have thought you were a lunatic. Even war is now supposed to be moral. Wars have to be moral crusades. Of course if a war is a moral crusade then any methods are acceptable (since the enemy is regarded as being evil), which is why democracies tend to be quite brutal when waging war.

This comes about because foreign policy and war are now everybody’s business. That’s the democratic way. Therefore the objective must be to make us feel virtuous. In fact of course there is no way that foreign policy can be both effective and moral. And in the course of human history very very few wars have ever been waged for moral purposes. Unfortunately when you turn wars into moral crusades you end up with more wars, and more vicious wars.

One of the reasons I tend to prefer monarch (real monarchy not silly pretend constitutional monarchy nonsense) is that kings have never been overly worried about imposing morality. As long as his subjects pay their taxes and obey the law he’s not usually interested in prying into their lives.

I’m no libertarian but there is something to be said for governments that concentrate on sensible policy rather than moral policy.