By Walt Garlington for the Saker blog

The desire for what is normal, for what God has established and ordained, is prominent in U.S. conservative discourse today: the desire for a normal approach to public health risks, for normal sexual development of children, for a normal home life with the husband as breadwinner and the wife who can stay at home with her children, and so on.

But the death of Queen Elizabeth II threw a wrench into the works. For while many conservatives praised her virtues and complimented the English monarchy for its stability, connection with the deep past, etc., they were also quick to add that the age of monarchy has forever passed for us here in the United States: There can be no going back to it.

Conservatives who believe that are walking a dangerous path. They want the reestablishment of God’s order in family, morality, economics, politics, and the rest, while denigrating monarchy. But doing so undermines the restorative efforts in the other fields.

“He bowed the heavens also, and came down” (Psalm 18:9) – Authority comes from above, where God dwells. From there God descended upon the mountain and gave Moses the Law. From there the Son of God “came down” and became incarnate within the womb of the Ever-Virgin Mary to fulfill the Law and open a new epoch in the history of mankind.

What comes from below, from fallen man, is less benign: “And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy” (Rev. 13:1). The sea, according to the Holy Fathers of the Orthodox Church, represents the rebellious, Christ-hating nations in their turmoil (e.g., Fr. Athanasios Mitilinaios, sermon 51, part 2; Abp. Averky Taushev, The Apocalypse in the Teachings of Ancient Christianity, tr. Fr. Seraphim Rose, Platina, Cal., St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 1998, p. 187). The Beast/Antichrist will be their ultimate offspring.

From above, God bestowed authority on the father over the family; from above, God bestowed authority on bishops, priests, and deacons over His Church; and also, however much it rankles folks in the U.S., from above, God bestowed authority on kings over nations: All the philosophizing we can muster in the States will not annul that truth.

But we have tried; how we have tried! The Declaration of Independence, along with The Federalist Papers and the Anti-Federalist responses and the Gettysburg Address, and all the rhetoric in between, were a Herculean, or should we say a Promethean, effort to find a way to justify the notion that authority comes from below, from the autonomous, self-governing people (thankfully there were exceptions, North and South, primarily before the fateful/fatal year of 1776, though in the South many of the leading theologians continued to expound the right teaching prior to that other terrible year of 1865). But God’s laws cannot be overturned; they do not expire with the passage of time; they do not wear out and grow old, needing replacement with better versions more in step with the current zeitgeist. A people may for a time go without a king for this or that reason, but the norm must be restored or disorder, imbalance, will arise.

And so it has arisen in the U.S., as is easily seen. Adding an hereditary monarchy is not a cure-all for a country’s ills, just as a purely elected government does not immediately sound the death knell for healthy human society whenever it is instituted. But the permanent displacement of the king from government will lead to harm, just as the father absent from the home or hirelings in churches will sooner or later bring it about.

A veto-wielding king is one of those real rights of mankind that Edmund Burke wrote about in his Reflections on the Revolution in France:

“Society requires not only that the passions of individuals should be subjected, but that even in the mass and body, as well as in the individuals, the inclinations of men should frequently be thwarted, their will controlled, and their passions brought into subjection. This can only be done by a power out of themselves, and not, in the exercise of its function, subject to that will and to those passions which it is its office to bridle and subdue. In this sense the restraints on men, as well as their liberties, are to be reckoned among their rights” (p. 51).

The children in a family may vote themselves jelly beans for breakfast, but the father is there to veto their decision for their own good. Likewise, the people or their representatives in a country may vote to allow abortion or to redefine marriage or to approve dangerous levels of deficit spending, but the king will be there to utter his fatherly No.

And should the king make a misstep, he, being one man, is easier to correct than an elected government backed by large segments of the population (take the covid totalitarianism for a good example of the latter).

France, again, provides U.S. conservatives with a cautionary tale. A biographer of Henri, the Comte de Chambord (d. 1883), heir to the throne of France, explained that one of the chief reasons the people of France did not accept him as their king was his refusal to accept the tricolor, the flag of the Revolution, as the national flag; he insisted on the pre-Revolutionary flag of the French monarchy (Chapter VI, “The White-Flag Crisis,” Marvin Brown, Jr., The Comte de Chambord: The Third Republic’s Uncompromising King, Durham, N.C., Duke UP, 1967, pgs. 102-38). Still, the greater number of the French people, who were given in the Comte an opportunity to reestablish a rightly oriented government, remained loyal to the Revolution and its symbols; the Comte never came into his inheritance; and the French have continued their decline into cultural decrepitude.

The United States did not undergo as violent a revolution as did the French, but it was a revolution nonetheless: The king was removed, and ruling authority passed from God above to the people below. If U.S. conservatives cannot agree even to the idea that it would be a worthwhile goal to put a monarch back on the throne, we will be placing little bits of authority-denying, antinomian dynamite into whatever edifice of normality we are able to build that will blow the thing sky-high one day when we aren’t expecting it. And the results for the rest of the countries of the world, needless to say, will not be beneficial.

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