Hans Hermann Hoppe has been widely recognized for stating the advantages of a traditional monarchy over that of what is essentially mob rule, that is, Democracy. While it is true that Hans Hoppe is not a monarchist but rather an anarcho-capitalist his insights into the frailties and destructive nature of Democracy are thorough and convincing. His brilliant work, Democracy: The God That Failed, is to date probably his best scholarly work on the subject.
However, the very idea of monarchism is completely antithetical to modern sensibilities in the West. This is particularly true in the United States where a traditional European-style monarchy has not existed since the founding of the nation during the late 18th century. Having been founded upon republican principles, supposedly the official gateway to liberty, Americans possess a natural inclination to dismiss the very idea of monarchy out of hand, branding it as being contrary to a liberty-based and economically prosperous civilization. While it is true that monarchies fail to provide the libertarian panacea many naturally crave it is also an intellectual mistake to envision a republican or democratic form of government as the ideal for liberty. Christians, despite their monarchist past, are just as adamant in their protestations toward any form of civilization outside the mainstream view of republicanism and democracy, erroneously viewing it, like their secular counterparts, as the height of human civilization. Is this actually the case however?
Recently, after having read a preterist interpretation of the Book of Daniel something leapt out of the page. There appears to be a biblical basis for the Hoppean thesis of the corrupt nature of Democratic mob rule as opposed to the somewhat lesser tyranny of traditional monarchism. Notice the following excerpt from a discussion regarding the prophesy of the 7th chapter of Daniel:
Daniel seven, like Daniel two, measures the time for Christ's appearance against world events, placing his kingdom and coming in the days of the forth world empire. Both visions cover precisely the same period and events, but chapter seven provides greater detail. Before looking directly at chapter seven, it will be useful to glace momentarily at chapter two.
The prophecy of chapter two portrays four world empires in the form of a human image or idol; the kingdoms are demarcated by various metals: the first division is a head of gold, the second chest and arms of silver, the third belly and thighs of brass, the fourth legs of iron and feet partly of iron and partly of clay. We are expressly told that the head of gold is Nebuchadnezzar's Babylon. With this piece of information, it is a small matter to trace the successive kingdoms to the time of Christ: 1) Babylon, 2) Mede-Persia, 3) Greece, and 4) Rome.
The declension in the metals seems to point in the first instance to the declining glory of the monarchial power through its division and diffusion in the successive kingdoms. Babylon had a sole monarch, but the Medes-Persian empire had peers to the crown and satraps with almost independent power; the kingdom of the Greeks was divided among Alexander's generals; and Rome was a Republic ruled by a "senate and people." The Roman Republic ended about 49 B.C. with Julius Caesar's civil war against the senate and Pompey. Imperial Rome seems to be signified by the images feet and toes, which Daniel describes as "iron mingled with clay." The custom of Babylonians, the Mede-Persians, and Greeks was to allow subject peoples to retain their kings, who swore an oath of fealty to the conquering monarch and paid him tribute. But the Roman practice was direct administration of conquered peoples by presidents and procurators, by which the iron rule of Rome was intermingled with the clay of conquered peoples. The image's toes almost certainly point to the ten senatorial provinces created by August Caesar in 27 B.C., which became a permanent identifying feature of the Roman Empire from then on. A further interesting fact is that gold is incorruptible, silver slightly less so, but brass and iron are easily corrupted. This may say something about the corruptible nature of popular governments (democracies and republics) over against monarchy and aristocracy. The declining value of the metals seems also to point to the baseness of their rulers: Babylon and the Mede-Persian Empire were friendly to the cause of God and his people: Nebuchadnezzar converted to the true faith and Cyrus and his successors made specific provision for rebuilding Jerusalem and its temple, bearing its cost and those of its sacrifices. But the Greeks and Romans were overtly hostile to the worship of God, boasting Ptolemy Philopater, Antiochus Epiphanes, and Nero Caesar among those who persecuted the faith.
Notice how the Babylonian monarch eventually converted. Traditionally, ancient Babylon and the Mede-Persians allowed their subject peoples to retain their kings, that is, or at least some measure of independence, as opposed to the Romans whose iron fist was given birth by “people’s governments” in the form of a Republic or Democracy. This in turn led to not only empire but a desire for absolute world dominance on a [then] global scale. It reminds one of the United States, where it too was founded as a people’s government (a republic) which has become so decadent and corrupt that its blatant hypocrisy should probably have become obvious beyond the small multitude of individuals who rightfully recognized it before the advent of the internet.
Granted, my statements are not an endorsement of monarchy per se nor for the ancient kings of the aforementioned kingdoms/empires. However, the Bible does appear to indirectly display the increasingly decadent nature of so-called people’s governments wherever they have been implemented. When the European monarchies in Eastern Europe collapsed after the First World War it eventually became obvious how tyrannical in nature the alleged people’s governments of National Socialism and Soviet Communism were.
Perhaps the head of gold seen in Daniel’s prophetic vision describes why Hoppe’s view of a traditional European monarchy is preferable to the unstable and decadent nature of the type of government that forms of the feet of clay, that is, the decadent mob rule of [Republican] Democracy that currently exemplifies the West. In fact, it could be argued that the current moral degradation that the West is experiencing is in fact a byproduct of so-called people’s governments.
Worse, whether they be fascist, socialist, republican, or democratic, they are exceedingly difficult to change given that under these so-called people’s governments one is more easily labeled a political terrorist for advocating the head of its leader. The latter typically resorts in individuals viewing such an advocate as an “enemy of the people” since the leader was elected by the majority rather than an inheritance by right of birth. Under a monarchy however, since a monarch’s realm is privately owned, individuals are not as easily inclined to view a rebellion against said monarch as “unpatriotic” or “terrorist” in nature.
However, since governments in all its forms is always and necessarily tyrannical, might we not give Rothbardian anarchism a chance? Have we not attempted every other form of government with increasingly disastrous results?
[note: please keep in mind that this article is not a discussion on the legitimacy or illegitimacy of preterism per se but rather to display the biblical basis for dispelling the idea of republican or democratic form of government as a panacea for liberty]
Ryan Bassett [send him mail] resides in Georgia.