Should the U.S. have a monarchy?

That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column, riffing on Curtis Yarvin and others.  Here is one bit:

The engineer and entrepreneur Curtis Yarvin, who also has written under the pseudonym Mencius Moldbug, has called for a new American monarchy, more like Elizabeth I than Elizabeth II. The usual instant American reaction, of course, is to dismiss absolute monarchy as unjust, old-fashioned and unworkable. And in fact that remains the correct reaction — yet it’s worth thinking through what the desire for monarchy says about the current state of America’s intellectual right.

And in response:

Many monarchist critics focus on the anti-democratic nature of the proposal. They may not realize how much parts of the New Right see the status quo as promoting a stifling conformity in academia, the media and corporate America (Yarvin’s “Cathedral”), rather than a truly pluralistic discourse.

I see far more intellectual diversity in today’s America than Yarvin does. Still, I wish that the “Cathedral” (am I allowed to call it that too?) would be a little more self-aware of its own limitations rather than just shouting down the anti-democratic thinkers as fascists. It’s also possible to think of absolute monarchy as a desperate way to restore diversity of thought, by creating a post whose holder is not accountable to the Cathedral.

The most telling criticism of absolute monarchy is a historical one. In the UK above all, the so-called “absolute” monarchs faced severe fiscal demands, which they met only by granting increasing powers to Parliament or the local nobles. And that was the case when government was a very small percentage of GDP. How would things work today? Would a king have as much power as, say, Tim Cook does? If the executive branch and legislature were to renegotiate old bargains today, the results might be so messy that each would end up with less power and coherence than what Yarvin sees now.

There are other interesting points at the link.


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