Why Are US Conservatives So Obsessed With Monarchies?

English: Philip II August and John Lackland ma...

Philip II August and John Lackland making peace with a kiss. (British Library, Royal 16 G VI f. 362)  (Photo credit: Wikipedia) (PD)

What do you think disinfonaughts, does America or the world need another king?

Something weird is happening on the American Right. Over at Politico Magazine, Michael Auslin, a resident scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, has penned a column titled “America Needs a King.”

Had Auslin’s strange desire not come on the heels of Pat Buchanan’s paean to Vladimir Putin, or an anti-democracy movement being championed by tech libertarians like Peter Thiel, the co-founder of PayPal, one might see this as merely an example of an academic being intellectually provocative. In other words, “trolling” us.

But this isn’t mere trolling. It’s a trend.

Now, there has always been an element of the Catholic Right with monarchical tendencies. But, for a variety of reasons, this fringe idea seems to be gaining some mainstream traction.

Auslin’s fundamental proposal is to create a position above the presidency, to which he assigns the rather Orwellian title “our First Citizen.” This would be a symbolic post meant to unite Americans around something they have in common, even as public opinion is split over our more partisan political officials. “Let America’s presidents be politicians — slinging mud, cutting deals, and knifing others in the back,” he writes. “Just don’t let them pretend they represent all of us.”

This, of course, assumes that the modern negative political environment is a new phenomenon — so new and pressing as to warrant departing from the Founders’ vision of a chief executive. But American politics has always been nasty and divisive; the notion that today’s politics is harsher than ever is revisionist history.

Auslin’s other presumption — that the presidency is somehow too big for any one man now — has some history and utility. Last year, I chided Ryan Lizza for arguing the presidency had become powerless, a suggestion I viewed as meant to absolve President Obama of his failures.

It is interesting that this argument is popping up now. It was bandied about a lot during the presidency of Jimmy Carter, but retreated under Ronald Reagan.

Consider this excerpt from Time magazine in 1986: “Americans heard for years that the presidency had grown too complex for one person to manage, that the office had been crippled. Reagan seems to slide through a presidential day with ease.”

To be sure, confidence in our leaders and institutions has been eroding since Watergate and Vietnam. And while you’re never going to make everyone happy, Reagan proved it is possible to restore faith in government without betraying the Founders’ vision.

Could it be that weak presidents naturally lead us to believe it is the modern office — not the man who occupies it — that is to blame? Instead of tweaking our political system, maybe we just need to change presidents?


  • Calypso_1
    • PrimateZero

      Smegging brilliant,…but I always liked “smug mode”.

  • Anarchy Pony

    Right-libertarianism = neo-feudalism where the property owner = monarch.

  • addalled

    Why Are US Liberals So Obsessed With Dictatorships? Charlie Rangle, Harry Belafonte. and others said that Obama should rule like a dictator.

    • Juan

      I agree, Obama should rule like a dictator. That way we can get past all this partisan congressional gridlock, and maybe get something done.
      The reason our country is so obviously disfunctional, is because of the obstructionist republicans and their never-ending, racist, anti-Obama jihad.

      • InfvoCuernos

        Ya, that sounds like a good solution-just give some asshole complete authority. Its not like the constitution or the laws in place are doing much for us now. Dictatorships have always worked in the past and Obama has shown that he is the One to lead us away from this precipice. The problem isn’t republicans or democrats-its idiots that think that either party is better than the other. The problem is that these parties pander to corporate interests over the needs of the people that “elect” them.

      • addalled

        You are proof that liberals are fascists.

        • Juan

          Seig hiels! And pass the Mussolini.

      • alizardx

        I think you need to make your joke about Obama-branded neoliberalism more explicit.

        • Juan

          Yeah, I suspect you were the only one who realized I was trolling;)

          • InfvoCuernos

            Ya I totally fell for your trolling. I need to renew my anti-troll software.

          • alizardx

            I’ve read enough of your posts to know that you aren’t batshit crazy.

          • Juan

            Thank you for your vote of confidence sir or madam. Though, surely there are many who would vehemently disagree with you;)

          • alizardx

            Support for neoreaction is well outside Disinfo’s normal space for craziness :-)

      • Reasor

        He may not be able to get every cabinet appointee he wants, but this President is so comfortable with ordering the deaths of civilians that he joked about it to the Jonas Brothers at an annual White House Press Corps dinner, knowing that the cameras were rolling. We don’t suffer from too many checks and balances in government, we suffer from too many government officials who can only agree to do evil.

        • Juan

          He’s a psychopathic, mass-murdering, lying piece of shit, just like the fucking shrub.

          • echar

            It’s odd that people saw Carter as a weak president.

      • Juan

        What I wanna know is who up-voted this shit?

        • alizardx

          Who downvoted my post below with a substantive critique of neoreaction? Disqus didn’t do us a favor by making who downvotes invisible.

          My offhand guess… not from here. Who’s been critiqued in anti-reactionary posts by name on this page?

    • alizardx

      Liberal/progressive and conservative are labels for neoliberal authoritarian follower demographics. They no longer refer to ideologies, the slogans are atavistic reminders of the past which let the groups of followers know who’s top-down talking points they are listening to and what tribe they belong to.

      Authoritarian followers like being told what to think and what they do, and they think doing this is what moral people do.. How many “conservatives” would have objected if W had cancelled elections after 9/11? Perhaps a handful of paleocons. Who would have been denounced as traitors by the other 99% of “conservatives”

      • Juan


  • gustave courbet

    “Demotist systems, that is, systems ruled by the ‘People,’ such as ‘Democracy and Communism, are predictably less financially stable than aristocratic systems,”Anissimov writes. “On average, they undergo more recessions and hold more debt. They are more susceptible to market crashes. They waste more resources. Each dollar goes further towards improving standard of living for the average person in an aristocratic system than in a Democratic one.”’ –It is opinions like this that demonstrate the need for actual research and information in forming opinions, as opposed to self-serving notions based on historical revisionism and an elitist “let them eat cake” attitude. There are so many problems with this viewpoint that it is difficult to pick a place to start critiquing them. I guess I would start by encouraging the proponents of monarchy to jettison any pretense of compassion for the great mass of humanity and embrace their inner Mussolini. This would at least be a rational position, albeit an amoral one.

    • Liam_McGonagle

      “Demotist systems, that is, systems ruled by the ‘People,’ such as ‘Democracy and Communism, are predictably less financially stable than aristocratic systems,”Anissimov writes.

      Yes, this struck me as hilarious, too.

      Louis XVI, anyone?

      Franklin: “C’mon, Charliey, just ONE MORE WAR! France is a monarchy, after all, and sooooo much more financially stable!”

      Vergennes: “Okay, Ben, I’m sold!”

      • Liam_McGonagle

        Also, it’s pretty damned funny to blame the US’s problems on democracy–a thing that hasn’t darkened America’s doorstep for 50 years, at least.. That’d be like the Japanese blaming their problems on the Jews.

  • mannyfurious

    The answer is simply because, as quickly as they’re robbing the rest of us of our basic rights, freedoms and monies, it’s still not quick enough for these assholes. They want a king because even a compromised, corrupted democracy still ensures that they at least have to go through a couple of extra steps before they rob the population. With a monarchy, you just have a king say, “I declare 70 hour workweeks with no pension and the paypal guy doesn’t have to pay taxes” and that’s that.

  • Dingbert

    US? No. Russia? Yes.

    • InfvoCuernos

      Wouldn’t that be something if the Republicans (or Democrats, for that matter) decided to immigrate to Russia and take over their political system? Putin would have them all disappeared inside of a week.

  • alizardx

    The reason why you don’t see monarchies around today is that ruling monarchies don’t work. The able (if not ethical) warlord types who start them are inevitably succeeded by mediocrities. The reasons why this process is inevitable are:
    1) selecting leadership based on heredity, not ability means able people not part of the aristocracy are deselected
    2) life for the children of aristocrats who know they are the winners is easy, they don’t have to learn and do things to become future leaders, they come to believe that ther rule because it’s “the natural order of things”

  • lunasea

    “But American politics has always been nasty and divisive; the notion
    that today’s politics is harsher than ever is revisionist history.”

    Didn’t everyone have the same etchings in their history books of dudes wearing wigs shooting at each other?

    • alizardx

      “Dirty Politics”, Bruce Felknor – starting with the attacks on George Washington. (recommended, it’s entertaining as well as informative)

      I’ll also note that formal duels originated in aristocracies.

  • drokhole

    I think it partly has to do with the fact that their preferred image of God is that of a monarchical dictator.

    • DeepCough
      • drokhole

        Joy to the world, indeed!

      • echar


        “Bitches better have my money”.

    • drokhole

      “And so, all those people who are oriented to the universe in that way feel related to basic reality as a subject to a king.” – Alan Watts

    • alizardx

      Many neoreactionaires identify as atheists. (trying too hard to be trendy) I suspect that a large percentage actually see “God” when they look in the mirror. Unworthy and unhealthy object of worship, of course, but it isn’t like they are convincing when they pretend intellectual superiority over the rest of us who know history too well to respect their beliefs.

      • drokhole

        I agree with your point (particularly regarding the techno-elite neoreactionary crowd), but I was speaking mainly about conservatives (which the article identified). Though, there is some overlap between the two worldly models (the monotheistic/ceramic and the atheistic/fully-automatic, as delineated by Alan Watts). They sort of kept the mechanism but kicked out the maker (or, as Watts put it, “and so what they did was got rid of the lawmaker and kept the law.”). Maybe they feel like they’re entitled to fill the void left behind (they are “Makers”, after all).

        • alizardx

          “they are the Makers”? There are few, if any you should trust unsupervised in a real lab, especially if it’s yours.

          Like the “free enterprise” cheerleaders for capitalism you should not trust running your hot dog stand if you depend on its profits.

  • echar

    The key word is ideally.

  • BuzzCoastin

    most humans need a dominatrix
    monarch, oligarch, dictator or democrate
    they don’t really care what costume she wears
    as long as they can be ruled and punished
    while watching tv

  • alizardx

    “Power that cannot be bought”?

    “Isaiah 1:23 – Thy princes [are] rebellious, and companions of thieves: every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them.”

    The custom of bribing royalty has been around a very long time. With the outcomes as described.

    For more current examples, check the Saudi monarchy.

  • Liam_McGonagle

    I bet the Brits are kicking themselves right now for getting rid of their monarchs.