By Walt Garlington for the Saker Blog
One of the big lies in the United States is that there is no royalty here. It is true that it no longer adorns itself with all the traditional accoutrements of the past. But it is still with us (though in a distorted form), and reveals itself with stunning clarity at times.
A case in point is the arrival of LSU’s new football coach, Brian Kelly, who was greeted by assorted dignitaries, a security escort, uniformed marching band, and by the adoring people upon his arrival in Baton Rouge:
C. S. Lewis’s masterful summary of mankind’s hunger for hierarchy was very much on display:
Monarchy can easily be “debunked,” but watch the faces, mark well the debunkers. These are the men whose taproot in Eden has been cut: whom no rumour of the polyphony, the dance, can reach – men to whom pebbles laid in a row are more beautiful than an arch. Where men are forbidden to honour a king they honour millionaires, athletes or film stars instead: For spiritual nature, like bodily nature, will be served; deny it food and it will gobble poison.
By and large, government is conducted by a minority, whether it is the father of a family, the bishops and priests of the Church, or a representative assembly of a community. Aristocracy, per Mr Lewis, is the norm. The essential question is how to make sure the government exercises justice and the other virtues.
In the political context, since the fall of pagan Rome and the rise of the Christian Roman Empire, this has been accomplished by following a few simple rules: Baptize politics (people and processes) in the font of Christianity; make sure the political system is rooted in and respectful of the ancient customs and institutions of the people; make careful, prudent reforms only when needed (not because someone has a new theory he wants to test).
Following these precepts has led to remarkable outcomes in the reigns of Kings Edwin, Alfred, Athelstan, Edgar; Emperors Constantine, Theodosius, Justinian; and any number of other English, Roman, and European Orthodox kings. But when the aristocracy (private or public) falls into moral decay and governs unjustly, then we find parricide, schisms, and revolutions.
This has been precisely the response of the West to corruption in her aristocracy – to lecherous popes, absolutist kings, exploitive lords, etc. – which has led to rule by majorities, politicians who cater to their whims, and mechanistic theories of checks and balances. The forces of disorder unleashed in this process of reaction continue to bear poisonous fruit: gender confusion, BLM and other racial agitations, and so on.
Locking ourselves into older versions of the liberal order of autonomous individualism won’t help stem this tide, for such are themselves merely other outworkings of it, share the same spirit with it. However distasteful it may be to some, we must take steps to restore a more ‘illiberal’ order, one that recognizes and yields to immutable hierarchies of Truth, amongst which are notions like aristocracy and that a community worthy of the name has a distinct culture that must be defended against those who would try to undermine it.
An excellent model to look to for this work of restoration is King Vakhtang I of Georgia (+502). During his reign the Christian foundation of Georgia was emphasized and measures were undertaken to build it up and to protect it from alien belief systems:
The holy and right-believing king Vakhtang I ascended the throne of Kartli at the age of fifteen. At that time Kartli was continually being invaded by the Persians from the south and by the Ossetians from the north. The situation was no better in western Georgia: the Byzantines had captured all the lands from Egrisi to Tsikhegoji.
After his coronation, the young King Vakhtang summoned his court and addressed his dedicated servants with great wisdom. He said that the sorrowful circumstances in which the nation had found itself were a manifestation of God’s anger at the sins of the king and the people. He called upon everyone to struggle in unity and selflessness on behalf of the Faith and motherland.
. . .
During King Vakhtang’s reign the Georgian Church was first recognized as autocephalous. When the holy king banished the pagan fire-worshippers from Georgia, he also sent a certain Bishop Michael—who was inclined to the Monophysite heresy, which had been planted in Georgia by the Persians—to Constantinople to be tried by the patriarch. The bishop had disgracefully cursed the king and his army for rising up against the Monophysites. In fact, he was so infuriated that when King Vakhtang approached him to receive his blessing, he kicked him in the mouth and broke several of his teeth.
In the fantasy world of liberalism, followers of discordant belief systems like Orthodox Christians, militant Persian fire worshippers, and Monophysites who kick kings in the mouth can live together in harmony. But wise men like King-St Vakhtang understand that it is better for all considered if they are separated from one another, so that cultural clashes will not be ongoing, sapping the vitality of society that would be free to pursue higher ends if it were not otherwise distracted and weakened by unnecessary conflicts. King Vakhtang, having quieted the disturbances within Georgia, pursued those higher ends along with the Georgian people:
King Vakhtang built fortresses at Tukhari, Artanuji, and Akhiza; founded monasteries in Klarjeti at Artanuji, Mere, Shindobi, and Akhiza; and established many other strongholds, churches, and monasteries as well. He built a new royal residence in Ujarma and laid the foundations of the new Georgian capital, Tbilisi. His political creed consisted of three parts: an equal union of the Georgian Church with the Byzantine Church, national independence, and the unity of the Church and nation.
Even at his death he urged his people to pursue the highest end:
In the year 502 the sixty-year-old King Vakhtang was obliged to defend his country for the last time. In a battle with the Persians he was fatally wounded when a poisoned arrow pierced him under the arm. Before he died, King Vakhtang summoned the clergy, his family and his court and urged them to be strong in the Faith and to seek death for Christ’s sake in order to gain eternal glory.
What a poor alternative the leaders of the United States and the rest of the formerly Orthodox West offer to their peoples: shallow prating about party loyalty, socialist or capitalist utopias, cheap campaign slogans, celebrity endorsements, and other nonsense!
‘What can a man give in exchange for his soul?’
Aristocratic-minded men like John Randolph of Roanoke, Virginia, as their lives were coming to an end, were horrified as they watched the hierarchic political order they had established in the United States after their separation from Great Britain be pulled down by democratic levellers. But it was a process that they themselves began by ordaining a new era of liberal politics in 1776 (weak though it was at its birth, like a wet, wobbly calf); one that continues to breed destructive ideologies today; one that will take more than a Republican/populist sweep of the US House and Senate in 2022 and the Presidency in 2024 to undo. And one that in the end produces such fine, phony royalty as Biden, Harris, Mitch McConnell, and the rest of the political-sports-media superstar figures in the States.