Well, since I am in this echo chamber talking to myself, I reckon I can indulge in a rant about a personal peeve of mine: ”conservatives” (Republican or otherwise) who hate the very existence of monarchy or aristocracy, or any sort of ‘elite.’
This article about someone named Heilemann denouncing the British for keeping their monarchy has got me riled. He is not only ridiculing, but doing so in a very un-classy way by attempting an ‘English’ accent and using a British expression (”poncy” — does he even know what it means?) and thus generally taunting the British.
I don’t know ‘Heilemann’; I had to google his name, and even after doing so, I don’t know much about him except that he is on Bloomberg TV, presumably as some kind of ‘conservative’ pundit. This is what passes as ‘conservative’ in 2014?
The clueless cons (and Libertarians) at FR are just as bad for sounding like Jacobins whenever anyone mentions royalty, especially the Windsors. Now, I’m not fond of the Windsors, and for the record they are not exactly English if one goes by ancestry, but they are the rightful monarchs of the United Kingdom, and there is nothing wrong or evil about monarchies. Some loud Americans seem to have some sort of complex when it comes to the English. Americans nowadays often seem to have a grievance against monarchy as well, wrongly believing that our (erstwhile) Republic is or was a ‘democracy’, and that it ‘fought against’ monarchy. Wrong; it never was intended to be a democracy and nor did the American Revolution fight to eliminate monarchy.
The Founding Fathers made clear their low opinion of democracy. Examples:
“Democracy does not exist for a long time – it wastes, exhausts and destroys itself. There was never a democracy that didn’t kill itself” – Samuel Adams
“The American form of government is the republic. The true freedom does not exist either under despotism or excesses of democracy” – Alexander Hamilton
“…democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.”
–James Madison, Federalist No. 10 (arguing in favor of a constitutional republic)
“Between republic and democracy there is the same difference as between order and chaos” – John Marshall, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
“Democracy is the rule of mobs, tempted by newspaper editors” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Democracy – it’s the rule of the wishes of the mob, or to be exact ambitions and vices of its leaders. The Founding Fathers of our constitution created a republic, which is more different from a democracy, than a democracy is different from despotism ” – Fisher Ames, U. S. Congressman
Granted, a few Americans know that our Founding ancestors did not want a democracy here because they did not desire mob rule. They did limit the franchise, after all, which is not a ‘democratic’ policy on their part. Yet a great many Americans labor under the delusion that this country was in fact founded on the basis of freeing ourselves from rule by kings. The misinformed think that the core reason for seceding from Britain was to repudiate monarchy, per se. Not so.
The Founders, after all, seriously considered making this country a monarchy with George Washington as King. Ultimately they decided on a republic — but they never denounced monarchy as such.
Conservatism is not in conflict with the idea of monarchy or hereditary aristocracy. Those who are conservatives living a country with a monarchy would likely support monarchy because a true conservative should champion tradition, continuity, stability. Conservatism in a republic, however, would likely want to preserve the existing order, or the best of it. Now we no longer have a functioning republic and representative government, so there is little to conserve, except for social traditions and mores, but the mass of Republicans and conservatives have mostly forsaken even social conservatism, preferring to swim with the leftward tide, taking the path of least resistance. But the effort to preserve traditional mores and customs should not have been abandoned so easily. Even Christians have surrendered for the most part. So there is no longer any political conservatism worthy of the name. But because the political side has given up is no reason to give in on the social front.
This is where the old upper class, which existed until approximately the World War II years, served a purpose. The upper class then were mostly people with genuine ‘breeding’, high standards, good manners, good form. The great Edmund Burke — whose name is probably unknown to many of today’s ‘conservatives’, said
“Manners are of more importance than laws… Manners are what vex or soothe, corrupt or purify, exalt or debase, barbarize or refine us, by a constant, steady, uniform, insensible operation, like that of the air we breathe in.”
He had something there. Those who ridicule royalty or monarchy on the basis that they are ‘undereducated’ or crass and ‘inbred’, the usual slams, should answer this question: who would you place at the top of society as exemplars or as someone to emulate? Lacking royalty or a well-mannered aristocracy, we have people like today’s boorish, ill-bred, lewd ‘celebrities’, the likes of Miley Cyrus or any number of others. C.S. Lewis, I believe, said that lacking royalty or aristocracy, people will seek for some substitute, and in our society this means often thuggish athletes who are often on the wrong side of the law, or ‘rap stars’ or foul-mouthed comedians or political ‘stars’ like the Kennedys and the Clintons, et al. There is a natural hierarchy in society; some people — probably most people — are followers who need someone to whom they can look up, someone to model themselves after. If there is not a genteel aristocracy which is bred to uphold high standards, they will choose someone who is often far worse.
There are always those natural ‘Jacobins’, however, those who resent the idea of any kind of natural hierarchy where abler people rise to the top, people who envy and therefore hate those who are higher on the social ladder, and who want to bring those above them down, and see them humiliated and punished. We’ve seen it happen historically, with the French Revolution, with Communism, and now with our ‘democracy’ worshipping proles (and even ‘conservatives’ — whatever they are ‘conserving) in this society.
America’s revolution was rather a conservative revolution, though that may be an oxymoron. The Founding Fathers did not share Mr. Heilemann’s views, nor the views of the small-j jacobins at Free Republic. Thomas Jefferson spoke and wrote of a ‘natural elite’ or natural aristocracy, based on merit. Jefferson, though it personally pains me to write it, sometimes embodied contradictions, but he was not a Jacobin and did not foam at the mouth at the very mention of monarchs or aristocrats. It should be remembered that just about all of our Presidents, from the earliest down to the 20th century, came of aristocratic families, with many direct descendants of the Kings of England and other European monarchs. This is a matter of record. And the presidents we’ve had in recent years whose ancestry is under a cloud (Clinton, for one) were not the ablest or the best, in character or ability.
Conservatives of all people should not grow furious at the thought of a social hierarchy, and should be ashamed of showing class envy and class hatred, attitudes that I once thought were confined to the riff-raff on the left.