Far from being a dying system

Monday, January 8th, 2018

The New York Times pokes fun at modern monarchists, but admits that they may have a point:

Their core arguments: Countries with monarchies are better off because royal families act as a unifying force and a powerful symbol; monarchies rise above politics; and nations with royalty are generally richer and more stable.

Critics say such views are antiquated and alarming in an era when democracies around the globe appear to be imperiled. The count and his band of fellow monarchists, however, are determined to make their case at conferences, in editorials and at fancy balls.

A recent study that examined the economic performance of monarchies versus republics bolsters their views. Led by Mauro F. Guillén, a management professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, the study found “robust and quantitatively meaningful evidence” that monarchies outperform other forms of government.

Far from being a dying system, the study said, “monarchies are surprisingly prevalent around the world.” They provide a “stability that often translates into economic gains”; they are better at protecting property rights and checking abuses of power by elected officials; and they have higher per-capita national incomes, the study said.

Mr. Guillén says he was “shocked” by the results, which have not yet been published. “Most people think monarchies are something anachronistic,” he said. “They think that modern forms of government are superior and have trouble accepting that monarchies have advantages.”

When he presents his findings, “there is more skepticism in the room than with the average paper,” said Mr. Guillén, who is not a monarchist. “It’s been an uphill battle.”


  1. Borepatch says:

    Correlation does not imply causation. Perhaps a time series by decade, over the last century?

    Pardon my skepticism over a shocking “scientific” study reported not in a peer-reviewed journal but rather in a press release. ;-)

  2. Erich Schwarz says:

    Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven pointed out, quite some time ago, that monarchy might have considerably greater longevity than its alternatives:


  3. Chedolf says:

    The Logic of Hereditary Rule: Theory and Evidence
    Journal of Economic Growth, June 2017

    “We assemble a unique dataset on leaders between 1874 and 2004 in which we classify them as hereditary leaders based on their family history. The core empirical finding is that economic growth is higher in polities with hereditary leaders but only if executive constraints are weak.”

    - link 1
    - link 2

  4. Graham says:

    What a time to be alive.

    The proper reason to support an existing monarchy is loyalty to the identity, traditions and institutions of one’s ancestors and people.

    In the event anyone seriously starts new ones, the proper motive is loyalty to the lineage and legacy of some great founder, insofar as it is, again, bound up with the identity of one’s people. This sort of thinking comes easier to people who actually think of heredity as both real and a good thing, to be honored even when it produces flaws. There’s always room for flexibility.

    Alas, the trust was broken many times in both directions. At least in the west.

    Fukuyama implied that liberal democracy was the final form of human government. I’m somewhat of the view that it is already being supplanted, even if the progressives call their thing “democracy”. But SF writers have long reasonably written on the assumption that different planetary, interplanetary, biological and technological conditions would continue to both reintroduce old forms of government and develop speculative new ones.

    Dynastic politics are a favourite. Sure, it makes an easy, reader-friendly society that contemporary Earth humans can relate to, and allows a certain romance or soapy quality if that’s what one wants. In the “Battletech” game universe and its many novels, dynastic rule [with some checks and balances] is the norm for the empires of a human dominated galaxy. Many other SF properties use the dynastic model.

    Margaret Weis once wrote a middling-grade series called Star of the Guardians, in which the largely exterminated human caste of monarchs and princes [the "Blood Royal"] had in the distant past been genetically engineered to rule.

    I suppose a monarchy like that being created in the future would strike someone like me as tendentious but that’s mainly because I’m considering it from the point of view of a time before our elites manage to create it… If I joined the story in medias res, perhaps I’d have another view.

    Of course, I’m loyal to my own monarch for the earlier-stated reasons, despite her occasionally revealed less-than-satisfying sentiments and the increasing futility of the whole thing.

  5. Graham says:

    Plainly, I’m not convinced that meeting some economist’s GDP numbers test or a libertarian or rationalist blogger’s requirements are valid or necessary reasons to support a monarchy.

    Anyone else ever feel like they just don’t get with the times?

  6. Isegoria says:

    I suppose, Borepatch, that a republic is a good thing — if you can keep it.

  7. Isegoria says:

    The Mote in God’s Eye also — spoiler alert — deals with the Malthusian Trap, which is always patiently waiting. I’m surprised I haven’t really written about Mote here, but it has come up, for instance, when Borepatch won the “Who would you want to have to a dinner party?” game.

  8. Hoppe lays out the explanation of why this is so in Democracy.

    Funny to see this in the NYT.

  9. Sam J. says:

    For quite a while now what I assume to be Hasbara propagandist have been pushing Kings. It tends to attract the really bright that lack what I perceive as common sense. We had a perfectly good system “Democratic Republic” where people of modest means [as Pournelle called them] could vote for Representatives. With qualifications for voters it’s a perfectly decent system with small faults and much to recommend. Judges have ruled that qualifications are illegal but that can be changed. It would seem much easier to change to voter qualifications than to get a King.

  10. Isegoria says:

    For now, it seems hard to institute any voter qualifications. Even requiring ID is pushing the limits of what’s acceptable.

    But the greater point is that limited monarchy seems to be working where it still exists, and popular democracy does not seem to be working where it has been introduced.

Leave a Reply