Tuesday, 5 June 2007

A Broad Competition of Bads

“According to the elitist values of the monarchical system, the most stupid, immoral royal is more fit to be head of state than the wisest, most ethical commoner.” [1]
The hereditary-monarchical system allows in theory that the most stupid, immoral royal can become head of state, whilst the wisest, most ethical commoner cannot. It says nothing of necessity about the hereditary head of state’s fitness for the office apart from the vital matter of his not having attained it in an open competition. Therewith it is instructive to note the very slim chance of a wise, ethical commoner — let alone the wisest, most ethical commoner — ever coming to power through the political competition which obtains under a democracy, since such competition by its very nature is stacked overwhelmingly against such men.
[E]ven if the accident of birth and his upbringing could not preclude that a prince might be bad and dangerous, at the same time the accident of a noble birth and a princely education also did not preclude that he might be a harmless dilettante or even a good and moral person. In contrast, the selection of government rulers by means of popular elections makes it practically impossible that any good or harmless person could ever rise to the top. Prime ministers and presidents are selected for their proven efficiency as morally uninhibited demagogues. Thus, democracy virtually assures that only bad and dangerous men will ever rise to the top of government; indeed, as the result of free political competition and selection, those who rise will become increasingly bad and dangerous individuals, yet as temporary and interchangeable caretakers they will only rarely be assassinated. [2]
The belief that democracy will choose good governors, or be to the public good, may be bolstered by an egoistic and flattering delusion of one’s own role in that choice and by a further and vicariously flattering belief that one’s fellows with whom one identifies will likewise choose wise and ethical governors who would typically forgo immediate political advantage for long-term responsibility. For even if one really is discerning enough to know what a good governor looks like before he assumes the power he seeks, and given that such a man could be found more than once in a million, one’s share in the choice is tiny; and even if one appreciates the insignificance of one’s role, then, to maintain one’s belief in the public good of democracy, one has to believe that one’s fellows are en masse similarly perspicacious to discern a good governor from the charming connivers, manipulators, ne’er-do-wells, narcissists, psychopaths, and ruthless egoists who are typically drawn to power, and who competitively make irresponsible grants and promises to gain it.
[B]y opening the prospect of Power to all the ambitious talents, this arrangement makes the extension of Power much easier. Under the ancien régime, society’s moving spirits, who had, as they knew, no chance of a share of Power, were quick to denounce its smallest encroachment. Now, on the other hand, when everyone is potentially a minister, no one is concerned to cut down an office to which he aspires one day himself, or to put sand in a machine which he means to use himself when his turn comes. Hence it is that there is in the political circles of a modern society a wide complicity in the extension of Power. [3]
Under the nouveau régime, we have a political situation in which there is not only a competition of bads, but a broad competition of bads, wherewith corruption is extended, and wherein resistance to the extension of governmental power is lessened.
[1] Peter Tatchell, “Goodbye to Royalty”, Comment is Free (The Guardian’s Weblog), 1st June 2007. (H/T: J.K. Baltzersen, “Peter Tatchell and the Monarchy”, Wilson Revolution Unplugged (Weblog), 2nd June 2007.)
[2] Hans-Hermann Hoppe, “On Monarchy, Democracy, Public Opinion, and Deligitimation”, Democracy: The God that Failed (New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 2001), pp.88-9; original emphasis. Cf., “From the point of view of those who prefer less exploitation over more and who value farsightedness and individual responsibility above shortsightedness and irresponsibility, the historic transition from monarchy to democracy represents not progress but civilizational decline.” Ibid., p.69.
[3] Bertrand de Jouvenel, On Power: The Natural History of its Growth, tr., J.F. Huntington (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1993), p.13. Cf., “From the twelfth to the eighteenth century governmental authority grew continuously. The process was understood by all who saw it happening; it stirred them to incessant protest and to violent reaction.
.....In later times its growth has continued at an accelerated pace, and its extension has brought a corresponding extension of war. And now we no longer understand the process, we no longer protest, we no longer react. This quiescence of ours is a new thing, for which Power has to thank the smoke-screen in which it has wrapped itself. Formerly it could be seen, manifest in the person of the king, who did not disclaim being the master he was, and in whom human passions were discernable. Now, masked in anonymity, it claims to have no existence of its own, and to be but the impersonal and passionless instrument of the general will.” Ibid., pp.12-3.


dearieme said...

"According to the elitist values of the monarchical system..": when 'elitist'is used as a sneerword, it is normally an accusation that someone has done well at something - examinations, perhaps, or some practical skill such as music-making. Our monarchical system, insofar as it is a system at all, is nothing like that. An Act of Parliament defines the algorithm by which the new monarch is identified. That's all. Bah!

J.K. Baltzersen said...

Thanks so much for the link!

I've reported your followup as well.

J.K. Baltzersen said...

Dear "Deogolwulf":

You have been awarded the WRU Quote of the Month for June 2007.