This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

NOTICE:
This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

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Only the patriarch can identify with the general interest of the people

“[S]ince it is human nature for habit to engender affection, the king, though acting at first only from concern for authority, comes to act with affection as well and in the end to be motivated by affection.”

~ Bertrand de Jouvenel[1]

“Real kingship — hard as it may be to get this idea into the heads of our narrowminded democrats — seems to be created by God for the special purpose of protecting the vast masses of a people against the possibility of violation by a popular elite. . . The popular elite, be it a cultural, a social or an economic one does not want, under ordinary, normal circumstances to recognize a master or at least only the semblance of one, a fact which is forgotten again and again or which is purposely kept quiet. Only in extreme danger and distress this elite suffers a master and king, should one be at hand. But for the masses a king standing above all classes and parties is under all circumstances necessary and desirable.”

~ Dr. Schmidt-Gibichenfels[2]

Theodore Roosevelt once asked Francis Joseph, Emperor of Austria, what the role of a monarch in this modern age could possibly be, and the Emperor answered: “To protect my nations from their governments!”

This interpretation is not uncommon and can even be seen as part of the reason monarchy was eventually overthrown—it could not be permitted to remain since it put limits on the expansion of power in favor of the people:

The very support which republican doctrine finds in ‘democracy’ has been handed down directly from the royal tradition: the king, ever since the early Middle Ages has ruled against the privileged classes, allying himself with the common people, later on with the third estate. And it is precisely the rupture of this alliance which brought about the fall of the monarchy.[3]

This attitude paints a true picture of monarchy in most periods: he is not the government but is rather the advocate of his people in the government, or at least has the capacity to function as such. For in medieval society the monarch met with nobility, and by his ever-so-slight functional superiority over his peers, he was able to in some way transcend their particular interests for the sake of the general interest—the interest of the people. Today it is much the same: while the seats in senators and presidents are manipulated by special interests, the monarch whose position is secure can withdraw and contemplate the needs of the common man and the population at large—something it is almost impossible for everyone else to do. Thus, only a monarch can effectively protect his people from their government when such a necessity arises.

This process answers to human nature. A man invested with power will inevitably feel it in his ego. This is unavoidable and is no less present in socialist and democratic regimes than it is in any monarchy. The task, then, if we must deal with men who are always prone to egoism, is to ask which form of government is most conducive to that process of sublimation by which the egoism of the empowered is converted into an authentic sense of duty and care toward one’s subordinates. In short, which regime is more likely to produce power-hungry, self-centered beings who view their subjects as footstools, and which encourages rules to instead view the people as family members under his protection?

While it is possible to conceive of a king who cares for his people out of familial affection, it is utterly impossible to conceive of a bureaucracy caring for its people for any other reason than efficiency. We say this for two reasons: first because a bureaucracy is too impersonal to feel anything whatsoever, regardless of the humanity of the fact that it may be composed of men. Second, because all such bureaucracies, particularly electoral bureaucracies of democracy, are by nature positions of insecurity. A man concerned always for himself does not have the opportunity to escape from self-concern and to allow his ego to fully identity the people with itself—a necessary condition for him to love them as himself. He needs both security and time, and he has neither. The king, on the other hand, may achieve this identification:

And in this way the institution of monarchy, so far from merely subsuming the interests of the mass into those of one man, became sensitive to every wound received by every little cell. A secure hold on Power and its descent in a regular line assured the maximum of identification of egoism with the general advantage. Whereas, contrariwise, a transient or precarious hold on Power tends to make of the nation merely the instrument of a personal destiny, of an egoism which resists absorption in the whole.[4]

Here we may be tempted to recoil in horror as we imagine the king viewing his people as an extension of himself, depersonalizing them into so many objects to be moved about on a playing board. Yet a cursory study of the psychology of identification, combined with a character study of great monarchs, would show us that the process is quite the opposite: it is the ego of the king that becomes absorbed in the people, rather than the people subsumed by the king. It is he who begins finally to feel their pain as his, and their good as his, at least as much as this is possible. The former problem, which degrades the people into objects to be moved to the advantage of their superiors, while admittedly possible in a monarchy, is not only possible but virtually guaranteed to happen within the framework of democracy, where the healthy form of identification is simply not possible:

The more quickly the holders of Power succeed each other, the less completely can their egoism be extended to a body which is but their mount of a day. Their ego stands more apart and takes its enjoyments in more vulgar fashion. Or else, if their egoism can be projected outwards at all, it stops at a formation, such as a party, with which it can stay in long association. So that the nation gets ruled by a succession of men who have identified their egos not with it but with parties in it.[5]

And so, we see that in America if the president does manage to identify with his people, it is only be with a certain subset of the people, while he must view the remainder not merely with the indifference of a negligent monarch, but with outright hostility, for they are truly his enemies.

[1] Jouvenel, op. cit., p. 118.

[2] Dr. Schmidt-Gibichenfels, Die demokratische Luge und der Krieg, Berlin, 1915.

[3] Lucien Romier, Explication De Notre Temps, Paris, 1925, p. 195.

[4] Jouvenel, On Power, p. 135.

[5] Ibid.

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