On Monarchy


I suspect it’s not a coincidence that the countries which are best at equality overall (e.g. Sweden, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands) also tend to be monarchies. The monarch is a permanent symbol that life is unfair, and that if you take credit for your own success – rather than accepting that it’s primarily down to luck and that you owe a duty of care to the less fortunate in society – then you’re an arrogant prick.

Can\’t remember where I got this from but there\’s an alternative explanation possible.

The monarchies in these places have survived because they were the monarchies which were smart enough to bend with the winds and provide what the people wanted.

So it\’s a version of survivorship bias. Instead of looking only at those places which are still monarchies we need to look at all of the places that used to be and try to work out why some survived: and why most didn\’t.

Historical accident will certainly play a part. But there is still room in there for this argument: that those which survived were the more flexible ones, the grass rather than the oak tree from Aesop\’s fable.

9 comments on “On Monarchy

  1. It may be the opposite way round – that “equality” is a function of a government bureaucracy that has been growing for a long time ie that haven’t had a revolution & that the surviving monarchies are bound to be places that haven’t had a revolution since monarchy was the ruling paradigm.

    This is taken from Pournelle’s line that government structure tends to grow and use up ever more of national income.

  2. Is actually a good point I’ve not really considered–i tend to use Juan Carlos as my reason for why I stopped being a fairly radical republican and instead became a constitutional monarchist, but again his approach demonstrates your point a bit.

    (BTW, link is to this page, you appear to have pasted in a chunk of text instead of the url)

  3. We once came across a children’s book, in translation from a Danish author, written shortly after WWII. She calmly explained that with only a few exceptions, only monarchies were stable democracies. And that nearly all monarchies were stable democracies. (I’m guessing that the exceptions she had in mind were Switzerland and the USA, that she reckoned France unstable and Iceland and Eire (and perhaps Finland) too young to judge.)

  4. john b’s assertion is also an excellent way to blame one’s lack of success-whatever that may mean-on luck, the unfairness of life, etc. and to diminish that of others.
    Whatever makes you feel better, I suppose.

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