Tuesday, July 08, 2008

I am posting that which follows is in response to the post on the monarchist by David Byers who seems to be very confused about the nature of Monarchy, Democracy, and Republicanism. The material is from my projected work A Crowned Republic or The True Principals of Constitutional Monarchy Rightly Expounded With An Inquiry Into The British Constitution, It Current Failings and How to Fix Them.


Section 1 The Three Classical Forms

The division of governments into three forms depending upon who wields the supreme authority of the state, one, a few, or many, is so familiar to those who have studied the ancient and modern writers upon government that I shall touch upon it only briefly here.

When one holds the supreme authority of the state it is known by different names as the governance is well or ill. When a one rules lightly, with the consent of his subjects, following the ancient laws and customs, with courts that administer justice impartially, and using honors to stimulate his subjects to greater exertions upon behalf of the state, this is known as monarchy. When one rules by terror, with no law but his own will, and no means to command his subjects but terror and money, this is known as tyranny.

When the supreme authority of the state is wielded by a few of the most prominent citizens it is known differently as they wield their power. When they wield their authority with modesty and moderation, binding themselves by the same laws which they impose on the whole people, stimulating the people to greater exertion by patriotic zeal and the prospect of earned wealth, this is aristocracy. If however the few abrogate to themselves special privileges that ought to belong to the state by putting themselves above the law, by plundering the public treasury, and when they control the people and one another by terror as with the lions mouth at Venice, this is oligarchy.

When the whole people either directly or by their representatives are the supreme authority in the state, this is known by different names as the authority is used wisely or badly. When the people are ruled by virtue and use their authority to promote the common happiness saving to every man his rights, this is known as democracy. When the people use their authority to promote the interest of one faction at the expense of another casting aside the rights of each citizen to his life, liberty, and property, this is known as ochlocracy or mob rule.

Section 2 Republicanism

It was observed by the ancients that their was a tendency of each of the pure forms to denigrate from its more noble form into its corrupted form, because there was nothing to check the will of the rulers be they one, a few, or many.
They also observed that there was a tendency for the three pure forms to follow one another in a regular order. Suppose a monarchy was set up, as such usually are, by a popular war leader. After a time, certainly after a few generations, this monarchy will denigrate into a tyranny. When this becomes to oppressive to be suffered, the bravest will lead the people to over though the tyrant. These will then likely set themselves up to rule as an aristocracy. At first they may rule well, but in time they will become vain and will denigrate into an oligarchy which will be beset by factions. In the course of the factional fighting, one of the factions will likely turn to the people for support. When such a faction win, they will be obliged to give power to the people who supported them, thus a democracy is born. At first this rules well, but in time this form too is corrupted. The ancients believed that eventually a strong leader would arise who would promise to restore order and would become king and the cycle would start over.

Now it is observable that this is not an absolute law. Some of the Swiss Cantons for example evolved from democracy to aristocracy. That there is such a tendency however is well illustrated by the evolution of the soviet state, of which I shall have more to say later.

Because of this observation that the better forms tended to denigrate into corrupted forms, because there was nothing to check the will of the rulers, it came to be accepted that a form of government was needed that would check their will.

The ancients concluded that the way to best check the authority of the rulers was to mix the three basic forms, monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy. Thus in a republic the monarch, the aristocracy, and the people would have the powers of the state shared out between them. Each would be a check on the others.

This is of course the classic form of the British constitution. The Monarch held the executive power, had a negative on the legislative power, and appointed the judges. The House of Lords had a part of the legislative power, formed the supreme judicial tribunal, and it members had influence in local government. The people elected the members of the House of Commons who held part of the legislative power. The people held part of the executive power by participation in grand juries and coroners juries, held part of the judicial power by participation in trial juries, and participated in local government.

Section 3 Democratic Republicanism

In addition to this classical form of republicanism wich is now usually called constitutional monarchism, there have many attempts, some successful ,to build a lasting state on the form of the one, the few, and the many but with all officers drawn from among the people at large.

For example the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the oldest written constitution still in effect (adopted 1780 though many times amended), gives the Governor the executive authority with the advice of his council, gives the governor a negative over legislation though this is maybe over come by a two thirds vote of both houses of the legislature. The governor has the right to nominate judges with the advice and consent of his council. The General Court, composed of the House of Representatives and Senate have the legislative power subject to the governor’s negative. The Senate seats were apportioned according to tax receipts and the House seats according to population. The Supreme Judicial Court and the lesser courts wield the judicial power.

The Government of the United States has a similar arrangement with the President as chief magistrate, nominator of judges, and with a veto over legislation. Congress is bicameral and chosen by significantly different electorates. The judicial power is wielded by the Supreme Court of the United States.

Most republics since the American Revolution have tried to achieve some form of democratic republic with mixed success. In principal the idea is a good one, by giving the different office holders different incentives, it is hoped that they will act to check one another. However, the problem with Democratic Republicanism is the same thing which makes it appeal so strongly to democrats, every office is filled directly or indirectly by election or by appointment by elected officials.

Therefore in the end, the performance of a Democratic Republic depends on the virtue of the people. A well written constitution may delay the corruption of a republic if it is venerated, defended and relied upon for political principals by the people. However the concentration of all power in the people tends towards the corruption of the state.

Section 4 Democratic Constitutional Monarchy

A development of Constitutional Monarchy that has become predominate over the last 150 years is Democratic Constitutional Monarchy. This variant on Constitutional Monarchism is distinguished by the triumph of the democratic branch over the monarchical and aristocratic elements of the state.

In the United Kingdom for example, the executive power has been totally taken over by the democratic branch of Parliament. The Monarch’s negative over legislation has become dormant through lack of use. The Aristocratic Branch of the state has atrophied, its powers slowly stripped away and at the last, many of its members stripped of office for no good reason. The courts are still free of excessive interference by the democratic branch, but the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty has meant that the courts ability to act a check on the legislature has become a nullity.

This form is in essence, the decay of a constitutional monarchy into at best an ill designed democratic republic as in most of the crown commonwealth or at worst an out right democracy as in most of the Scandinavian states.

I hope that both Mr.Bayers and the other readers of this blog may find some small degree of edification on the difference between Monarchism, Democracy, and Republicanism in the above. This may all so explain why I can without contradiction proclaim as the circumstances dictate Long Live The Republic! and God Save The Queen!

No comments: