A recent inductee to my reading convent was Prussianism and Socialism by Oswald Spengler. The German philosopher is often cited by modern conservatives decrying the West’s decline, particularly in the face of radical Islam, yet they conveniently leave another part out: his harsh criticism of liberalism and a full-throated advocacy for the monarchical system. Given my own skepticism of kingship, I was pleased to read his compelling argument in favor such a model. According to Spengler:
“The leadership of such a system cannot be ‘republican’ Putting aside all illusions, ‘republic’ means today the corruptibility if executive power by private capital. A prince will obey the tradition of his house and the philosophy of his calling. No matter what our opinion of this may be, it removes him from the special political interest of parties as we have them now. He acts as their arbitrator. And, if in a socialistically structured state, membership of the professional councils including the State Council itself is determined in view of practical talents, the prince can narrow the selection by use of ethical and moral criteria. A president, prime minister, or popular representative is the pawn of a party, and a party is in turn a pawn of those who pay for it. The prince is today a government’s only protection against big business. The power of private capital is forcing a unification of socialist and monarchist principles. The individualistic ideal of private property means subjugation of the state by free economic powers, i.e., democracy, i.e., corruptibility of the government by private wealth. In a modem democracy the leaders of the masses find themselves in opposition, not to the capitalists but to money and the anonymous power it exerts. The question is how many of these leaders can resist such power.”
This perspective undoubtedly holds currency among American thinkers today. No matter how hard the grassroots activists work to express their varied aspirations for change, the political tide of complacency remains, driven eternally by money, and the elections dependent upon it. The dynamic helps us understand why Trump’s agenda was largely untouched by the Senate majority, and Bernie fans saw the party shift safely back into the corporate column on both sides of the ticket. The peso wins again.
Spengler’s idea is of course not new. Plato specifically designed his Republic in response to the shortcomings of Greek democracy, creating three classes to administer various aspects of society. At the top were the Guardians, who placed the highest value on knowledge and truth, including the famed “philosopher king.” The state system was protected by the Auxiliaries class, or warriors and soldiers devoted to courage, honor, and homeland (nation). Finally, there stood the Producers, a business classes devoted to the fruit of their labors and material gain.
The model of Plato works to ensure those who love money are deprived from holding the reins of power due to their underlying nature. While the private sector may excel at creating products and generating wealth, it rarely observes standards of virtue, and certainly does not respect the ethical role of the state. Corporations frequently pollute, attempt to diminish worker rights, and undermine the national identity through policies of free movement. They care little of traditions or family, because items can be marketed to anyone with money to pay and a heart to lust.
What remains to be seen is how long the tender auspices of liberal democracy will be enough to keep the populace content. Regardless of which outcome flies this November, it is likely that the multinational establishment will continue scoring wins at the expense of both the people and the integrity of the federal system. And obviously any checks on this slide require employment of the popular election model, which freely cooperates with private sector money. The cycle continues.
That is, unless a coronation occurs.