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De Virtute Potestatis Regiae

PostPosted: Sat Jan 13, 2018 6:39 pm
by Gaius Florius Lupus
Salvete collegae!

Recently I had a very interesting discussion with our colleague Gaius Curtius Philo about the morality of monarchy as a system of government. With permission of my dear friend Curtius Philo I would like to share our thoughts. In our correspondence we tried to follow the formal style of the Socratic dialogues, although our conversation took place online and not in person. I still think it is interesting to read and worth to be published here.

Gaius Curtius Philo C. Florio Lupo S.P.D.
Salve amice,

I was skimming the C. Philosophicum (something I like to do sometimes since you always put in interesting questions lol) and I saw your citation of Kant at the end of this post. I have always had a pickle with that logic and I would like to hear from you if you have a solution for it: Basically, if one should only follow those rules that they believe should be universal, does that make the position of Governor or Ruler innately immoral?

Let me explain. If you have as a rule that everyone should be subjected to a Prince, or a Ruler, would that mean that the ultimate ruler that reigns above them all also falls under the same regulation? And as such, it he is required to follow someone else but doesn't, because he is naturally already at the top, does that make his position immoral? Or would that be precisely why the notion of Divine Right and National Sovereignty came to being? (As in the Prince would either be subjected to God or to the Nation) And would then a Prince that has nothing "over him" be simply considered a Tyrant?

What are your thoughts?
Gaius Florius Lupus C. Curtio Philoni S.P.D.
Salve amice!

Historically Kant was one of the philosophers of the Age of Enlightenment. This movement was politically opposed to Absolutism or the idea of a "divine authority" of monarchs. Therefore Kant would of course have considered the institution of a monarchy as inherently immoral.

This does not apply to the office of a president or a consul like in our Roman Republic. Because when the constitution was enacted, they had no particular person for the office in mind. So this law is universal and applies to anyone. Anyone can become a magistrate,if he qualifies for the office and is elected. He will have precisely defined powers and a limited term. This is agreeable for all citizens.
It would be different, if a law is enacted that says: "The House of Windsor shall rule England." This law would not be universal, but refer to a particular family. It is neither universal, nor reciprocal, nor agreeable for everyone. Therefore it is immoral and not in compliance with the Categorical Imperative.

But I think your question is rather for the person of the monarch. Can he act morally correct according to the Categorical Imperative once that he has been crowned as a ruler?
The understanding of Absolutism was that he was not answerable to anyone and held absolute power ("L'état, c'est moi."). So he was above morality.
There were other monarchs who tried to be good rulers and struggled with the question what was morally right for them to do.
But since they are as monarchs by definition above human law, the Categorical Imperative would be a little different for them:

"Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a law for all other kings."

Exempli gratia: Could you start an offensive war? - No, because you cannot want that the right to offensive wars should be international law.
The reference point that I often mention would be in this case the community of kings, not so much humanity as a whole.
However the Enlightenment was deeply humanist. Their reference point was all of humanity. For them monarchy was genuinely immoral.

Why did you not write your thoughts in the forum? It would get an interesting discussion started. Or do you want to remain invisible to the public? I can understand that, but it is nice to see that you are still around and reading what is going on.

Optime vale!
Gaius Curtius Philo C. Florio Lupo S.P.D.
Salve care amice,

Yes, it is why I did not post it. I would prefer to stay out of the public eye for now.

This subject is of interest to me because I myself am a Monarchist (in the classical sense, not in the modern sense that favors a Parliamentary Democracy with a Monarch as ceremonial head of state). It is interesting to note that there never has been a true absolutist State. Even the Roi-Soleil was subject to the political forces of his day, even though some think otherwise. Though absolutism is theoretically interesting it is realistically impossible and would easily degenerate to Tyranny if it was. Seeing this through this prisma shows that the Enlightenment wasn't actually a movement against absolutism, politically speaking, but against an Aristocracy with Monarchical leanings. They would substitute that with a Plutocratic Oligarchy and afterwards to a less characterized Oligarchy, veiled under the Democratic Banner (when the populus received full suffrage). Although in theory a President or a Prime Minister passes Kant's scrutiny, I dare say that it can only do so superficially. Although the law stating "Anyone can be President if they satisfy this and that criteria" seems neutral and inclusive, it can very much be argued that it is simply vague in words but specific in results. Not everyone can be President. The conditions to get to said office are so immense that it becomes naive to believe otherwise. And if there are only a specific pool of people that can actually become in reality President, what difference does that have to a law that states "The Monarch of England is anyone who has won, or had been won for them, the right to the throne either through Conquest, theirs or of their ancestors, or Parliamentary approval, having satisfied thereafter the inheritance principle of agnatic-cognatic primogeniture"? That basically creates the same Queen of England we see today without ever mentioning her family. It actually does not mention anyone and as a law permits anyone to be King of England. They just have to satisfy these very specific conditions. See my point? Thus, for me, the Question of Legitimacy is then again opened. What legitimizes a government? We cannot really say it is the Kantian Morality of the Law since, as I have established, no law is truly generic (and thus fails Kant's scrutiny), having only a "hidden pool of affected individuals". I dare say that something else must then be seen as the moral compass or this apparent contradiction be amended. What do you think amice?

Gaius Florius Lupus C. Curtio Philoni S.P.D.
Salve amice!

If you see the time of Louis XIV as a form of aristocracy or even oligarchy, it would of course fit better into Plato's cycle of governments. According to that a monarchy never turns into a democracy, but the other way around. And considering the declining power of the Emperor in Europe and the increasing power of the princes and lords during the late Middle Ages and early Modernity, you are of course right. Still power was given by divine authority even to the princes and lords. Members of the bourgeoisie (or better the third estate) were explicitly excluded from political participation. This is incompatible from the idea of a universal law. The clergy and the nobility could want such a law to be enacted, but the third estate certainly not. This is what I often refer to as "agreeability".

Modern constitutions allow formally anybody to become president (Very unlikely people have sometimes won elections, e.g. Obama and Trump in the US.), monarchies do not. Even constitutional monarchies have hereditary rules to make the rule legitimate. This is a significant difference.
Can we want a law that requires a president to be democratically elected? - Yes, because we can hope to be the one.
Can we want a law that establishes a hereditary succession for the ruler? - No, only somebody in the line of succession can want this.

The Pontifex Maximus (pope) in Rome is an exception. He is a monarch, but he is elected and anybody can rise up in the ranks of the church. This probably comes closest to your suggested law that the monarch shall be anyone who has won the title. Conquest however cannot count, because it means anarchy. Not even the monarch can want such a law, since it would legalize rebellion. The rules how the Pontifex Maximus are elected would to a certain degree qualify as universal law, they have huge flaws, so that a bad Pontifex cannot legally be removed from power, something that nobody except the one holding the office can really want. The Romanorum Imperator of the SRI was also elected, but only from the nobility and later only from the House of Hapsburg, and this does also not qualify as universal law.

I prefer a republic, because it is the only agreeable form of government for the whole of the citizens as reference group. I admit that sometimes would make better politics than certain corrupt parliaments, so in certain situations even I would support the monarch. But I am aware that this is not a perfect solution and only the lesser evil for this given situation. Even then it does not mean a monarchy can be preferable to a republic, it means that the republic is broken and is no republic anymore, so that even a monarchy would temporarily be better to solve the imminent problems. But a monarchy can never be morally right. What reasonable justification could be there for a law making a particular person the ruler and not somebody else?

You say that a righteous monarch can be a moral compass. But what logical reason should he have to rule in the best interest of his subjects? Why not just ruling in his own interest or in the interest of a particular group of his subjects, maybe only the nobility or only male citizens or only native citizens? And how far should his morality reach? Should it include only humans or also domestic animals or also all of nature? Or should he rule the way how he believes the gods want him to rule?
Such a decision would be totally arbitrary and not be based on reason. Morality must be based on reason, because it is the only thing we can all agree upon and which is universal and not arbitrary. This was the concept of Enlightenment, the Age of Reason.

It is interesting that you see no true absolutist state in all of history. You convinced me with Louis XIV, but one could think of other examples:
What about the Roman Emperors of the Dominate?
Or the Persian Emperors?
Or what about the Egyptian kings who had all their subjects working to build a tomb for them, so they could enjoy the afterlife?
Would they not count as truly absolutist states?

Gaius Curtius Philo C. Florio Lupo S.P.D.
Salve amice!

Not even the Pharoes, who were basically owners of their subjects, not even them I would count as Absolute rulers. And here is my reasoning why: To rule in Absolute, to hold entirely the power over a given State, would require, as the word itself suggest, complete and utter submission of all within the State to every single possible desire of the ruler. In no time in history, in no place since the dawn of mankind, i have ever seen a ruler who has achieved such absolute power. Let us look at the Egyptian Pharoe. His subjects were his property, correct? Let us say then that he decided, for whatever reason he wanted, that his soldiers faught for him with no pay whatsoever. They would fight to the death for him but would receive absolutely nothing in return. They would receive no land, no money, and they would even have to pay their entire expenses after serving! As Pharoe, could he make that in to law? Certainly. It would be a pretty law. For a few months. Then it would be a dead law. Because the Pharoe would be dead. You see, this our fictional Pharoe believed his power was absolute and forgot that his power derived from SOMEWHERE. The power over men necessitates that a group of men willingly submit to your rule. If you do not provide good reasons to be followed or make following you intolerable, you will never rule. Thus, there is a limit to said power. It is not absolute. A King, even if he was the owner of his entire population, would still have to catter to some of the interests of said population or else he would be dethroned.

I used to also prefer a Republic, but reflecting hard on it I have come to the realization that Republics actually carry in them the seed for the most totalitarian form of Government possible.

Let me explain. What is a Republic? It is, naturally, an Oligarchy or a Plutocracy, if in large scale; an Oligarchy, Plutocracy or Ochlocracy, when in small scale. Democracies (rule by the people) are impossible in a large scale, so there is always a governing elite doing most of the decision making officially; and in small scale are also impossible, because there is always a group of magnates that influence the masses, which means it is a rule by mob (demagogue) and not of the People as an active subjective thing. Either way, there is always a group in power that hold true power. This is also so in Monarchies. In both cases the ruling elite is entrenched in power and is in practice distinct from the Masses. Even in cases like Obama and Trump, these people are either followers of the whims of the Plutocrats (Obama) or is a Plutocrat himself (Trump). Note, I am not using the word Plutocrat with any moral judgement. In this analysis I am not stating that these Plutocrats are "bad" or "good". All I am stating as that they are the true power in most Republics. A common man? He cannot be the President. No matter how much he tries. Only those selected by the Plutocracy or a magnate himself can do so. So in the end, a Republic and a Monarchy are not very different when it comes to the Exclusivity of Power. The main difference is actually very much something else: It is the Public Identification of their leadership. And this is vital, even though it might not seem to be.

Let me explain. In a Monarchy, the Prince is set apart from his subjects. He is different to the commoner not only in power, but in kind. He is Royal. He is Noble. The commoner is common. In a Republic, the Prince (and yes, he is still a Prince if you take away the ideological bagage and look at it plainly) is undistinguished from the commoner. He is a "man of the people". He was "democratically elected". And it sounds very powerful. Because it is. You see, when a King does something you disagree with, he is an outsider affecting you. He is an external force you can oppose. When a Republic does something bad to you, it is the Democratically elected representative of the PEOPLE who is doing something you disagree. He represents the people. Ergo, he is the People. And when you disagree with him, you are not only disagreeing with him, but with the whole nation. It is the reason why no dictator in contemporary history (save maybe the Caliph of ISIS, who's reason to do so I will explain) ever crowned himself a King. You know why? Because that would diminish his power. Even Kim Jong-Un when being spoken to in the National Assembly is called "Comrade Kim". Why? Because that makes him part of the People :) He is a representative of the People (even if not elected), and going against him is betraying your very neighbor. It is a power of legitimacy that would be wasted by declaring himself a Monarch. The Caliph of ISIS actually made himself Caliph because of the same question of Legitimacy. But in his case, being a leader of religious fanatics, he found it more proper and useful to have the legitimacy of God than of the People.

So I have shown how power is actually exclusive and limited by interests. How one cannot rise to power without having natural ties to it (be it hereditary, finantial or ideological) and that the ideological tie to the People provides leaders with unprecedented power over the Minds and Bodies of their subjects. It would be good if such power, in a Republic, could at least be perceived as more rational than that of a monarch, but not even that is possible. A Republic might sell itself as Reasonable, but it is actually moved by Passion, by ideology. It is through Ideology that you sway the masses. It is not by reason. Thus, the tendency is not the most reasonable person to achieve office, but the one that has the best ability to sway the masses and catter to the interests of the Plutocracy. In a Monarchy, on the other hand, there is a natural interest to be rational. Why? Because what rules is not demagogue, but Oeconomika. I use the greek expression because of its domestic implications. In a Monarchy the Ruler is incentivized to see the State as his Property. And he is incentivized to capitalize in said property. Now, he could simply ask to exort his subjects in taxes, correct? But was that actually the norm? Not really. The norm has been mostly to give minimum taxes as needed and for the Ruler to, as much as possible, pay things from his own pocket. Why? Because the ruler is kind and generous? No. Because it is economically and politically saner to do so. If he hightens taxes the people become poorer. If they become poorer they invest less. Less goods circulate. Less money enters the Public Coffers on average. It is in the ruler's personal interest that the people enrich themselves so that they may in turn enrich him and his children. The inheritability of the State is another powerful incentive. Because he must not only think of himself, but on his progeny. He must secure a prosperous State for his children and a secure Throne. Monarchies, contrary to Republics, make use of the most basic human instincts of survival and reproductive viability to put it into use for the benefit of the Whole. That is why Monarchies in general are less taxing and more economically mindful. Another reason for them being less taxing is because they cannot claim to be taxing in the name of the People. Again, he is an outside force. He is not One of us. Thus, whatever action he makes must be mindful of public sentiment, lest he wishes to be another Charles II.

In the end, Republicanism did not bring more freedom to man. Actually, before Republics were revived in early modernity, there has never been any regime of the type of Hitler, Stalin or Mussolini. Before Republics, tyrants could never hide behind the aegis of the People. So you see, it became clear to me that to preserve Freedom and Morality, a Republic is an ill pick as a form of government.

What are your thoughts on my arguments, amice?

Gaius Florius Lupus C. Curtio Philoni S.P.D.
Salve amice!
Well, it is disputable how far the power of an Egyptian king actually reached, but the power of oriental rulers in antiquity was quite far-reaching. I think some Sumerian kings had their entire court buried with them. So the loyalty of their subjects was absolute, even more important than their own life.
But I admit that rulers have to take human nature into account and can usually not overstretch their power. Furthermore they enjoy being loved by their subjects, even if they do not consider them a threat to their rule

Monarchy might in practice be sometimes more pleasant for the citizens than in theory. Nevertheless we have to judge the theory here. Monarchy is in principle morally wrong and a republic is the theoretically optimal form of government, no matter how it turns out in practice.

You seem to have a too optimistic view about monarchy in practice and a too pessimistic one about a republic in practice. I would say that even in practice there are more examples for ethical republics than ethical monarchies. You can name National Socialism and Communism as examples for republics gone bad, but there are far worse examples for monarchies like the 10 million victims of King Leopold II of Belgium or Genghis Khan or Sargon II of Assyria who depopulated vast regions in the Middle East.

The only positive thing that can be said about monarchies is that they are certainly more honest when abusing their citizens as opposed to the rather hypocritical republics. And I think that is what you really like about monarchies. At least they do not lie in your face when they abuse you, while republics abuse you in the name of the people. In a monarchy you have somebody to direct your anger at, in a republic you have to take the blame yourself, since you elected your own abusers.
So from a psychological point of view that might be an understandable, but effectively the probability for a monarchy to turn bad is higher than for a republic, do you not think so?
This is why we have organized our community here as a res publica and not as an imperium as C. did with her organization. And her organization is already doing much worse compared to us when it comes to respecting the members.
It is difficult to judge righteous, when the law itself is already unjust. And this is the case with monarchies.

Gaius Curtius Philo C. Florio Lupo S.P.D.
Salve amice,

You bring very good points and I will address each one individually.

Although it is true that some oriental leaders were able to bury their entire court with them, it is neither common nor an indication of absolute rule. For it is not only the court that constitutes the nation and if said rulers acted in ways that were intolerable in all they would neither have the loyalty of court or country. Even that blind loyalty tended to be to a certain degree earned, if it did not degrade by the time of the monarch's demise.

To condemn Monarchy as Immoral, one must first define their concept of Morality and determine its usefulness. After all, true Philosophy is the search for the good life. So, any concept of Morality that brings about overall unhappiness, a diminishment of prosperity and/or proves to be less effective at bringing about such things is objectively flawed. So I will cordially invite you to define Morality to me in such terms as befits Nature and its natural good.

Using ancient examples and the example of King Leopold is not congruent with the discussion, Im afraid, and I will explain why. In the case of Ancient Kings, murder and genocide were common tactics and were done mostly against external enemies. In King Leopold's case, most of his deaths were caused by his exploration of Congo and its people, as an external colonial power in a time when Africans were seen as little more than animals. None of these treat of the way Monarchies faired domestically nor does it treat on modern examples except in a colonial setting (in which even a Colonizing Republic could not hope to say themselves kind). The Communist example is actually the ultimate blow against Republicanism. Stalin was responsible for the death of 25 million people. And this is Stalin alone, not considering even Lenin or other Soviet leaders. Mao's great leap forward killed another 45 million. Hitler killed around 11 million. Let us not even COUNT how many the Kim family, Franco, Mussolini and the likes killed. Together they could probably be accounted for the murder of at least 1 billion people, the equivalent of 1/7th of the world's CURRENT population. To contrast that, the entirety of the Roman Empire in its peak held around 70 Million people. In other words, if Stalin and Mao lived together they would have been capable of eliminating the equivalent of the ENTIRE Roman Empire. No Monarchy in the world can ever compare to this level of genocide brought against its own people, and you will find little records of anything close even done against enemies, and even what you find will be mostly in ancient history, in a time when even the Roman Republic was responsible for many cases of Genocide.

Regarding the probability of a Monarchy to turn bad or not: It is not at all clear, actually. As I stated before, Absolutism does not exist de facto and Monarchs do not exist in a bubble. They must catter to disperse interests just like in a Republic just to maintain their throne. I will attempt then to enumerate the main differences:

1) Personality - In a Monarchy, the State is the Private Property of the Monarch. Thus power is personalized and directed. Republican power is, contrarily, Anonymous. Note, I do not say dispersed , but anonymous. The nature of power in both are quite similar, but in Monarchies power has clear owners, while in Republics they are occult. The public face of a Republic are appropriately rotational, meaning that any evil they do in the name of the occult powers will not directly affect them and will surely not affect the powers themselves. This lack of accountability makes Republics very dangerous. Monarchs on the other hand, since they are owners of the State and there for life, have a vested interest to not make themselves hated. A hated President would disappear from public eyes before their reign becomes intolerable, given the small time they have in power. A Monarch does not have this luxery. If he is intolerable, he can only be removed or murdered. A Monarch thus has a stronger long term invested interest in the State than the Politician, both in instance of fear of retribution and in general profitability, since he is encouraged to exploit at a long term pace, while a politician is encouraged to exploit as much as possible in the short term. The Personalization of the State also tends to have a positive psychological effect on the Ruler and the Ruled, because it incenivizes the Ruler to see the ruled as their children, and incentivizes the ruled to be warry of their rights.

2) Inheritability - A Republic is not inheritable. Thus, all is geared for the Politician to be as immediatist as possible when dealing with the Common Weal. In fact, doing differently would defy logic and economics (which tends to the maximization of gains and the minimization of losses). A Monarch , on the other hand, is biologically incenivized to maintain a stable government for his progeny. Everything in a Monarchy is designed for Long Term Gratification and Thinking, while everything in a Republic is geared to the mirror opposite. In this sense, a Republic is clearly designed to be a Resource Hoarder. It is made so as to extort as much as possible from the Citizenry at the minimum cost possible. It is actually incredibly ingenious. It is a very well crafted system of exploitation because it creates a VERY powerful illusion of fairness.

3) Checks and Balances - The Checks and Balances in Republics are Artificial, while in Monarchies they are Natural. In Republics, checks are made through legislation by legislators who have a vested interest in corrupting said checks. This is not in any way a pessimistic view of it, but an economical one. As Homines Oeconomici , we all have a pull to maximize our gains and limit our losses. Any system that requires selflessness is a fantasy and illogical. Being a Republican Constitution created by artificial means, through legislation, it is fundamenally corrupt. Even though it contains in it the illusion of accountability, any cursory look at the history of the modern Republic will show that these pressures are minimal and cosmetic. In a Monarchy, on the other hand, the Checks on a monarch's power evolve through the natural Newtonian Pressures of political power. It comes from experiment and compromise. Thus, it is based in Nature and Naturally Just. Abuse does happen in Monarchies, but they are less than those committed by Republics, because their checks are naturally installed and cannot be maneuvered by legislation. They are as natural as the Laws of Physics. Republics, on the other hand, circumvent justice on a daily basis and use their "democratic" cosmetic as a legitimizer and their legislative maze as a shield.

Again, I am not optimistic or pessimistic about either Monarchy or Republic, I am merely an Economical Realist. I think in Economical Logic. And analysing both systems in such Logic, without the trappings of fantasy, without the fluff, looking only on the bare bones of Power, it shows that Monarchy is the most rational form of Government possible and the best for the People, because it does not depend on Selflessness, but relies on Economic and Natural Forces to work.

Regarding the RA or NR, mi care amice, why do you compare apples to oranges? We are speaking of statescraft, not of voluntairy organizations. We are talking about coersive Powers. You are comparing sheeps to lions. I will illustrate to you the absurdity of such comparison. Neither the RA or NR possess two things absolutely necessary for a State:

1) The Control of Bodies - As in, the Imperium over human bodies.
2) The Control of vast resources - And here I mean vast in comparison to individuals. Thus, here I include even a Poor State. The control of natural resources and/or technology is a vital part of being a State.

Without these two things, there are no Newtonian Forces being inflicted on them, in other words there are no checks that affect them. If people can simply leave their organization, there is no incentive to murder them as tyrants. If they cannot administer vast wealth, there is no interest to be economically mindful and strategic. In an organization that lacks coersive power or vast fortunes, there is no reason to rule justly. It is as unnatural as any Republic. Such organization is not a State, but an interest group. Thus it should be governed as an interest group, not a State.

I will finish this over-extensive monologue with the same question as i asked in the middle of the text, in response to your last assertion:

To condemn Monarchy as Immoral, one must first define their concept of Morality and determine its usefulness. After all, true Philosophy is the search for the good life. So, any concept of Morality that brings about overall unhappiness, a diminishment of prosperity and/or proves to be less effective at bringing about such things is objectively flawed. So I will cordially invite you to define Morality to me in such terms as befits Nature and its natural good.

Forgive the gigantic text lol
Gaius Florius Lupus C. Curtio Philoni S.P.D.
Salve amice!

I have to admit you made very good points against my arguments. Maybe this is at least partly due to the fact that I am myself not fully convinced of what I said, but rather what I wish to convince myself, i.e. that a republic is always and in principle preferable to a monarchy. Of course this approach is fallacious, as I have to concede.

Yes, you are right that even a monarch is always subject to political necessities and these necessities are based on the laws of nature. Therefore only a god could be a really absolutist monarch, like Epicurus described it ("That which is blessed and immortal neither has trouble itself, nor does it cause trouble to anything else, so it is never constrained by anger or favor, for all such things exist only in the weak." Principle Doctrine 1). This would be an absolute monarch and he would neither be good nor evil but beyond morality. Since this is nothing that a human being can hope to achieve, such a ruler has not existed yet. Point taken.

Yes, Leopold II was not a good example - for the reasons you mentioned, because he did not slaughter his subjects but people in his colony that were not considered citizens. This point also goes to you.

You made another good point that is the consideration of long-time effects. Indeed a republic is ill-suited to take long-tern effects into consideration, because of the term limits for the elected representatives, which I originally, but falsely, considered an advantage of the republic. But you are right that it iscounter-productive for the concept of responsibility. A president is only responsible for a few years that he is in office. What comes afterwards is not of his concern. And since power is distributed among several institutions, each of them can always blame the other, when things go wrong. A monarch would have nobody to blame.
It is a good argument that I have not considered - or better I did not want to consider. I actually read this argument before in Hitler's "Mein Kampf". It was one of his points against democracy and in favor of the "Leader Principle". In a democracy there is no responsibility. What Germany needed was someone who took responsibility - so his words. Now this sounds like I am using the "Argumentum ad Hitlerum" against you, and you can object that the Third Reich was not a monarchy but a republic, a corrupted one though. Still the demand for some strong man who takes responsibility is usually what leads to the collapse of democracy and the rise of tyranny according to Plato's cycle of governments.
Of course this actually confirms your point. When a democracy has been corrupted, a monarchy (the rule of one) has to replace it. But I am still not convinced yet that the latter would be preferable to the former.

The comparison between RA and our Roman Republic was also a bad example, since these are not actually states. I also concede this point to you.

Okay, you have scored pretty well and essentially taken out all my arguments so far. But perhaps the problem was that I did not full-heartedly stand behind them. So I have to start over. I am not convinced of a monarchy yet, because I can find no logical justification why a particular person who is essentially not different from any other should have privileges over all others, and why anybody else should support his claims.

Indeed, as you suggested, we have to start with the question: What is morality?

You suggested the utilitarian approach.
Morally wrong is what brings about overall unhappiness, a diminishment of prosperity and proves to be less effective at bringing about such things.

This is not the approach that Plato with his Theory of Ideas or the Stoics with their virtue ethics would support, but I am with you here. Utilitarianism is the only rational approach. Anything else is based on subjective beliefs that cannot be objectively verified.

I usually use a different vocabulary. The three priorities of rational decisions are:
1. Benefit (what you would call happiness)
2. Self-preservation (what you would probably include in the former one)
3. Efficiency (what you called effectiveness)

Since the society is an abstractum, and the individual the only real existing agent, these priorities must first of all refer to the individual. This means we ourselves are the primary point of reference.
However this is selfishness and can hardly pass as morality. Morality comes into the picture when the individual has to consider that his interests are better served in a community that cooperates compared to a situation where every individual struggles for himself.
This is when the community becomes the point of reference for the three above mentioned priorities. In order to achieve an agreement within the community, the three priorities must be transferred to the community.
So this is what morality means: Benefit, self-preservation and efficiency for the reference community in which this morality is discussed.

The moral values would of course be different depending on the community where it is discussed. For a group of nobles it is what serves them best; for a nation it is what serves the nation best; for humanity as a whole it is what serves humanity best, etc.
It makes no sense that a nobleman discusses with a commoner how to best serve the nobility. This would not be agreeable to the commoner. Of course he has to choose the whole nation as point of reference for the moral standard of this discussion.
But morality is not absolute, it depends on the reference group.

Regarding our question - which is morally better, monarchy or republic - the reference point would of course be the nation.
Our morality is therefore utilitarian and is based on the question: What provides the highest benefit, safety and efficiency to the nation? Morally good is what serves this purpose, morally bad is what harms it.

Can you agree with this definition? Then we can go on to discuss the question with these premises.

Gaius Curtius Philo C. Florio Lupo S.P.D.
Salve amice!

Definitely. As always, your definitions are much better worded than my own! Those would be the meters through which we would judge these two systems of government. Anything else would be subjective and ideologically fueled.

I understand your aprehension on the Reality at hand (If I may be so bold as to call Reality what I have yet to prove to you in full), and it also troubled me when I first had the inkling of this thought. But unfortunately (or fortunately, since I count myself as one who has shaken away the illusion of Republicanism) all my study seems to indicate this to be so. Although Hitler was right in this principle, his was a Republican One Man Rule (as you conceded yourself), and that is the main error of his judgement. For a Monarchy to work efficiently, it must have a clear divide between Commoner and Nobility and it must be hereditary (to capitalize on the biological principle and to avoid Overlegitimation).

But I digress. Please go on in your analysis amice, I am in full agreeance with the Axioms you have laid.

Awaiting your letter,
Gaius Florius Lupus C. Curtio Philoni S.P.D.
Salve amice!

Yes, I think most people today could agree to this utilitarian definition.
But now comes the part where the first disagreement will come.
How do we measure the benefit of the nation?

One approach would be the capitalist one, which we can use due to its simplicity. Benefit for the nation would be measurable in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita. In a self-sufficient nation this would also be the products that each person has at his disposal.
Okay, this is oversimplified but quantifiable. The actual problem comes later.
Most people would still agree that we have done something morally good, when we have made a decision that increases the GDP per capita. The citizens would have more wealth available for them on average.
But the problem arises when we talk about the distribution of the wealth.
In our example the benefit of the nation would be the same if we increase the GDP in a way that every citizen has the same amount more or if a few have a lot more and the majority has only a little more.
Exempli gratia:
Upper Class (20% of the population) - 200 million Ӿ more
Lower Class (80%) of the population - 800 million Ӿ more
would be as beneficial (morally valuable) as
Upper Class (20% of the population) - 500 million Ӿ more
Lower Class (80% of the population) - 500 million Ӿ more

We might agree that both cases are beneficial for each class, so this increase was a morally good decision, even if in the second case it was not quite fair, since each person in the lower case received only a quarter of that what one person in the upper class received.
For the whole of the nation this makes no difference. A few got a lot wealthier and many a little or everybody got equally wealthier makes mathematically no difference.

But what about this case?
Upper Class (20% of the population) - 1 billion Ӿ more
Lower Class (80% of the population) - 0 Ӿ more

Or even this case?
Upper Class (20% of the population) - 1.5 billion Ӿ more
Lower Class (80% of the population) - 500 million Ӿ less

Would a decision that leads to these outcomes still be morally good, since in either case the nation as a whole benefited equally?
We can extend this question to the introduction of slavery. If we enslave the lower class, we could perhaps increase the productivity of the nation and the GDP per capita but at the expense of the slaves who would not benefit at all, but suffer from it.

This is where agreeability becomes important. It is still agreeable for everybody to make a decision that benefits some people more (because the perhaps also had to work more for it), but in general benefits everybody.
But when a decision only benefits one class and causes a loss to the other class, then this decision is not agreeable anymore.
We have actually destroyed the nation as reference group.The nation as a whole may have benefited, but the lower class as a group has not. We have effectively forced the members of the lower class in a separate group that has its own interests, which are apparently opposed to the interest of the nation as a whole.
Even if the benefit of the nation has equally increased, the nation as a reference group has been destroyed and we have instead two independent reference groups. The decision would be beneficial and morally right for the upper class, but morally wrong for the lower class.

This is the idea that the Age of Enlightenment had, that the distribution of happiness or utility is also important, not just the overall happiness or utility. For each member of the nation a minimum has to be defined. This minimum were the human rights (or originally Les droits de l'homme et du citoyen). The state was a social contract among all citizens and therefore required a consensus in its decisions.

Based on this we have to amend our definition of morality with the aspect of agreeability, i.e. a consensus.
Morally right is what brings about overall happiness, an increase of prosperity and proves to be more effective at bringing about such things and is agreeable to every affected member of the community.

And here is where monarchy becomes at least questionable. Can this system of government be agreeable? Or does it take away essential rights from the citizens that are unacceptable for them?

Here I want to stop and first hear your opinion.
Do you agree that overall benefit (i.e. happiness) is not the only aspect of morality, but requires also consensus in the community, i.e. nobody must be harmed by a decision?
Is there a basic minimum of rights for the citizens in order for the system to be morally good?
Is monarchy compatible with these requirements?

Gaius Curtius Philo C. Florio Lupo S.P.D.
Salve amice!

Here we enter into an interesting impass. Let us look at three scenarios. In the first and second scenarios, we have a a criminal being charged for a crime. In the third scenario we have a virtuous man. In the first scenario, the criminal is sentanced to a reasonable amount of time in prison for the crime of homicide. That is considered just. In the second scenario, the same criminal is made into a slave of the State. That is considered unjust. In the third scenario the virtuous man is punished for no apparent reason, maybe out of political spite. This is also considered unjust. Note, I do not care here which form of Government is referenced, because the fons potestatis is irrelevant to the point I wish to establish. We all instinctively consider only the first case just. Why is that? We'll have to compare the three in their capacity to satisfy the original three moral axioms we have stated previously. In the case of a murderer, this individual is a threat to public order and has proven to in fact be damaging to it. So coercive force proves to be necessary to reestablish said order. If nothing is done, he and others can assume that law is but a dead letter and proceed to wreck havoc on the Commonwealth. Since we established this person must be punished, we must then define how much. One could take a hard handed approach and punish every crime with death. But that would be considered unjust because if the crime is smaller than the punishment, it could incentivize lower criminals to commit higher crimes (after all, if they will suffer the ultimate punishment anyway, what difference does it make?) and it also creates revolt in the kinsmen of the badly treated, making them more propense to commit crimes themselves. Others might be light handed and propose a symbolic punishment. This would make the law a laughing stock and would do nothing to deter crime. So the most logical solution is to give punishments proportionate to the crime. Then we look at the second scenario and shun our own instincts! A man took another man's life. Isn't it proportional to have his life be in turn given to the offended (and all offense against the Law is an offense against the State) as compensation? But then we must investigate with even more caution and scrutiny. What does slavery entail? It entails in forced perpetual labor. A person that is perpetually at labor, with payment only in food, scrap clothing and the luxery to stay alive, would be a very lucrative for the State, thus would create a potential for corruption. It would be an incentive for the State to forge crimes and enslave innocent people (more on that in the 3rd Scenario). It would also put the State in a state of perpetual fear. Because to keep forced laborers you must put them to work, and work entails either creating prisons around every single workplace (which would outway the benefits of having said free labor) or put them increasingly in a position where they may run away or, even worse, rebel. And men being forced to work without end, having nothing to lose, would like nothing better than to revolt, to the extreme detriment of the State. Thus, slavery has a cost that outways its benefit as a form of punishment. In the third scenario, the easiest for us to analyse the injustice, we consider it injust because an honest man that did nothing wrong is being limited by the State without cause. These three scenarios paint a more complex picture than the one you did, in an analysis of Consensus as an essential part of Morality in a National level. It shows that Consensus is not only not a good requirement, but that it is also unattainable and, if attempted, would do nothing but paralyse the State from any action, removing its fundamental aspect as a Coercive Force. But we also see that subjugation of the virtuous is also immoral, and so is the overpunishing of the unvirtuous. Thus, a Moral State, to maintain security, must punish(break consensus) Justly, yet still perform said punishments with the long term effect of said punishment always in mind, even when in the surface level it seems just.

You could argue that these members of society that commited crimes went against the Consensus and therefore their punishment does not count as "breaking consensus", but that would be nothing more than a legal fallacy. People would argue "It is assumed that they agree with the Law simply by living in the State", but that again is as much of a fallacy as assuming a woman consented in someone's sexual advances just because she was too terrified to openly protest. Consent is only attainable through clear agreement. Anything else is fiction. In other words, consensus cannot be seen as a moral base of a State (for it breaks the axiom of Efficiency, given that it robs the State from the power to achieve the other two Axioms).

Now, then, this realization puts me in quite an entanglement! Because now I have to devise how a State can function without Consensus and still not tyranize parts of its population. But I think part of the answer lies in my analysis on Slavery. The subjugation of People naturally create Conflict. When it is in an individual level, against people who are already causing conflict, and while done for the express purpose of nullifying said conflict (through the means previously outlined) it is called "Justice". When it is caused with no such legitimacy, it is called "Injustice". Justice is a vital part of a State, while Injustice is the definition of immoral behavior. Thus, we have a blueprint by which the State can act: It must promote Justice and oppose Injustice. By such, any tyranization of a given part of a population must be seen as Injustice and thus immoral.

So I believe we can re-redefine our axiom to:

Morally right is what brings about overall happiness, justice , an increase of prosperity and proves to be more effective at bringing about such things.

Regarding the necessity of Rights, we must specify better that word. A man could have the Right to have slaves, which is incompatible with a just government. A man can also have the right to kill others, which is also incompatible with a just government. Thus, since the word "Right" carries in itself so many disparate possibilities that are impossible to gauge in a clear meter, it is best we do away with the word itself and use a more quantifiable word: Freedom. Freedom is superior as a word here because one can only have more or less freedom, it is different in quantity, while rights can have variations in Kind (the right to receive something from others, for example).

Thus I must certainly affirm that there must be a base of freedoms in a given State that protects the citizenry, otherwise the State is unjust. Now, we must see which Government provides maximum freedoms to citizens at minimum cost (in other words, which form of Government produces most Justice, permitting citizens to do more things and punishing all Injustices fairly).

Notice here that in no moment is there any necessity of Equality in our analysis of Morality. In actuality, Equality is anathema to Justice and thus necessarily an Injustice. Nature made Man different from Man. Nature also made circumstances different in quantity and in kind. Thus, no man in any given time can be said to be Equal another. Thus, any attempt to equalize men is equivalent to conflicting with one in favor of another without there being any previous conflict to justify it (unless, of course, the conflict is predicted, as is the case of Slavery, in which making a man a slave can be seen as Just but it is not so because it creates further Conflict). In other words, any argument used against the morality of a system cannot pertain to equality, but must only refer to the axioms previously discussed, or else it would require a system that is at the same time Injust and Just, which is impossible.

I am eager to hear of your development of this subject and please feel free to point out any logical inconsistency I might have presented,

Amicus teus,
Gaius Florius Lupus C. Curtio Philoni S.P.D.
Salve amice!

I think I have to start with a clarification of the word "consensus" as I used it. Usually I would say "agreeability", and I have to admit that the word consensus is indeed confusing in this context. Of course it cannot mean that everybody has to agree to it. Agreeability however means that a decision has to be in a way that the interests of all affected persons are protected and that it is not to an unilateral advantage of one party. It is like a contract that can never give an advantage to one side, if it expects that all involved parties will sign it.

In the first scenario that you suggested, agreeability to the law itself is given. Even the criminal cannot wish that homicide is legal, because otherwise he would have to live in fear for his life all the time. Therefore the agreeability needs to exist at the moment the law is enacted, not when it is applied. Of course nobody would agree to his own punishment, but he would agree to the law and only break the law in the hope not to be caught in case he decides later on to break it.

In the second scenario I can see no principle difference to the first scenario, only that the punishment is more severe. Even enslavement as punishment would be agreeable, since at the time when the law is enacted the criminal was not yet caught and therefore would not expect that this law would ultimately be applied against him. If he expected to be caught, he would not have committed the crime in the first place. In the moment the law is enacted, it is also in his interest, since he himself wants to be protected from other criminals.
Prison, enslavement, or death penalty are just different degrees of punishment. Slavery is not more inhumane than death.

The third scenario is probably due to a false application of the law. Obviously someone was able to forge evidence against the innocent man, but this does not mean that this man would oppose the law itself to be enacted. He simply would not want this law to be enforced in a corrupted way with forged evidence. Therefore the law itself would be agreeable, but insufficient measures were taken to prevent its abuse. The law itself was not immoral. The man who forged the false evidence for political purposes was immoral because he acted selfish and against the interest of the community.

I think the word "justice" is a little bit too vague to be used here, because many people would interpret justice as equality, which it is not, as you correctly explained.
Everybody must have the same opportunity; otherwise a law would not be agreeable for everybody. But this does not mean the right to equal results. As you explained, people are not all equal. So some will have better results than others due to their superior skills, their luck or the effort they undertook. But in order for the law to be agreeable, it must at least give everybody an equal chance to success and not exclude anybody.

If "justice" means following rules that do not give an unfair disadvantage to anybody, then it is what I mean with "agreeability", and then we both mean the same. But due to the vagueness of this word and the different interpretations of it, we cannot simply use it as it is without a proper definition.

Gaius Curtius Philo C. Florio Lupo S.P.D.
Salve Lupe amice,

I understand now what you mean by consensus and agree that the word agreeability works better than consensus. But I must now clarify what I mean by Justice then, because I do not think it is exactly what agreeability means, but it has certain similarities that might actually prove them to be the same. Let me explain: What I call Justice is the state in which Freedom is maximized and violence (or Conflict, which for me is a prefered term) minimized. It is this net benefit of freedom created through coersion or the threat of coersion. In a way, that generates agreeability, because it constitutes the actions necessary to achieve said agreeability. But it does not say nothing about Law, because it is a concept related to Action, not fictions. And that brings me to my other question regarding agreeability:

I do not see why agreeability necessarily requires equality under the law (as in legal equality). In fact, even the discussion of Law as a center point seems to me useless by the fact that Laws are fictions, they are not Actions. Maybe you can convince me of the usefulness of discussing legislation, but as I stand I do not see it and I will explain why: The very example you use of the Homicide shows me that the concept of law has no place in a discussion of Government, only Power being actually relevant. A murderer could commit the paradox of being in favor of a law and equally against it. It shows, in a way, the absurdity and silliness of the entire topic. We see with this that Laws are neither Moral or Immoral, because they are unrelated to reality. They are amoral. A law could say that everyone in the country should commit suicide and everyone could simply ignore it. Was the law immoral? If yes, why? It did not cause any harm. It did not depleat any wealth. It did not increase unhappiness nor did it remove the effectiveness of the governing body in doing so. It simply was a dead letter. Thus the law itself has no morality, but how it is acted upon . Thus, only Power and Action can be seen as truly Moral or Immoral. Power is clearer and more in touch with reality. This person (or post) has This power and so-and-so are the checks and balances to deal with them. Again, maybe you can convince me otherwise and show me how Law is actually a better meter towards the notion of Morality or Immorality in an utilitarian perspective (which, for me, is focused on Action and not words), but you will have to convince me of it.

Regarding the second scenario, it would depend soley on how far into the interest of the Nation we are looking and again what are the consequences of the enslavement. History shows us that slavery has a tendency to generate revolt and such would take away innocent lives in quenching said revolts. Besides that, slavery increases the opportunity for corruption, because of its finantial benefit to the State. These things seem to me reason enough not to do such a punishment. And that is the gist of the argument in this case: That to consider something moral, one must look beyond its immediate usefulness and look at its long term reprecussion. I wouldn't call slavery inhumane, as that is not the focus of my argument (and I consised the word 'inhumane' overly vague). What I consider is that it is immoral because it can cause further suffering to innocent people. Since the objective of punishment is avoiding further Conflict, than it is an immoral form of punishment.

Regarding the third example: Again, I believe the agreeability of the law is besides the point. The law is irrelevant if it is not applied in a moral manner. Thus, it is best to talk about what is, in terms of action and structure, moral and immoral, instead of debating what legislation is moral or immoral.

Regarding the necessity of the law giving the same opportunities, or, better yet, the actual structure of power giving the same opportunities, to be considered moral; to this you will also have to convince me and I will say why: Given the differences of circumstances of different people, inequality is the norm and equality is either unjustified or justified. Any structure of power that treats everyone the same in a certain aspect needs to satisfy these criteria to be deemed moral:
I) They must increase general benefit or prevent loss
II) They must increase the chances of self-preservation
III) They must do so more efficiently than other systems.

I will let you tell me your opinion on these things before commenting myself, since I asked you many questions. I believe we are cornering this subject and will reach a consensus eventually, if we keep ourselves to logic as we both tend to do.

Awaiting your letter,
Gaius Florius Lupus C. Curtio Philoni S.P.D.
Salve amice!

Apparently we only disagree about where morality applies. Is it when establishing general principles (rules, code of law), or is it when acting in particular situations?

I strongly believe in the use of logic. Conclusions follow necessarily from the premises. So when making decisions in particular situations, simply the rules of logic are applied, there is nothing left to decide. How we act in particular situations is therefore not subject to morality, because only one conclusion follows from the premises.
Morality can only be relevant for the premises, and these premises are the laws. Yes, they are abstract concepts, but so is morality.
If the premises are morally right and the resulting actions are not morally right, then it was only an error in calculation (e.g. mistakenly punishing an innocent man).
It works like a mathematical formula:
e = There is evidence for somebody being a murderer.
p = The man will be punished
Law: e ⇒ p
Correct Application according to modus ponens:
[(e ⇒ p) ∧ e] ⇒ p
False application:
[(e ⇒ p) ∧ ¬e] ⇒ p
There is nothing about morality in it, it is simply an error in logic.
You could argue that some immoral guy could have the power to force the judge to decide [(e ⇒ p) ∧ ¬e] ⇒ p. But how could he have this power, if not by an immoral law? Again the law is the problem that did not prevent him from holding such a power, not the fact that he uses this power. He simply acts logically. It is within his power and to his benefit. Why should he not do it? It was immoral to enact a law that allowed him to hold such power, because such a law will not lead to a functional society. And we agreed that efficiency of the society is one of the three goals of morality.
The individual is not immoral by acting rational using the legal framework to his advantage. Immorality is establishing rules that are not agreeable, that give unjustified advantages to one side.

In which way is equality relevant for morality or agreeability?
It is because no reasonable person would agree to a deal that gives an unnecessary disadvantage to him. You would probably object that power would naturally give one party a better position in the negotiations justifying an advantage in the resulting deal. This is correct. One would still agree to a disadvantage, if one enters the negotiations in a bad position. But when we establish a form of government like a monarchy, we are initially all in the same position. We have no monarch yet. In order to have power the monarch needs first to be established as such. When there is no monarch yet, it would be irrational and not agreeable for the citizens to establish one and put themselves into a disadvantage later on.
It would also not be reasonable to say: Let them fight over it, and who turns out the winner shall be the monarch. This is against the idea of universal cooperation and would with a high probability have us on the losing side. After all there is only one monarch, but many subjects.
Equality is a requirement for agreeability, because we start from an equal position (since there is no monarch yet), and we do not want to end up in a disadvantageous position.

Now just a few words to this different issue of slavery in the second scenario:
I agree to your argument that a state should not have slaves, when the costs of controlling them and preventing revolts are higher than the benefit. But I cannot see proof for it being so. Slavery paid off quite well for the states that had this institution, like ancient Rome where slaves contributed a major part to the economy. In any case it is cheaper than imprisoning people in an unproductive way. Since imprisonment is a fate far more unpleasant than being enslaved, it requires more effort to keep prisoners than keeping slaves. Slaves can usually even be allowed to roam around freely during their work; prisoners require permanent confinement. Therefore enslaving is more reasonable than imprisoning as punishment.

Gaius Curtius Philo C. Florio Lupo S.P.D.
Salve amice,

I must concede in your logic regarding Law, because it seems to me that you use the word Law to refer not only to paper law but also to constitutional law (as in the law that constitutes a state's modus opperandi). In this sense, definitely the subject of our work would be Law because the Law would be what predicts the outcome. In that sense, the wording of the law is not the main focus, but what it as a premise results in (utilitarian). So in this we are now in full agreement.

Regarding your second collocation, I will have to challange your assertion again. The notion that we start in an equal footing is contrary to nature, so we cannot assume previous equality when thinking of the Social Contract. Since morality works in the abstract, we also cannot specify a specific power dynamic (we cannot create a story and analyse it from there), in which this and that group has this or that amount of power. We must speak of this in generic terms. I understand that assuming equality is an attempt to do so, to analyse the question in generic terms, but it is too much glaringly against reality to do so. It is literally impossible to achieve political equality in any given time, even (and I dare say especially) in a State of Nature. Thus, our first premise must be that power is unequally divides from the start even if we cannot specify in which sense without losing the genericness of the object.

Now, we have established that in any real situation power would be from the beginning assimetrically divided. Thus the situation is indeed necessarily one in which some people have more power and some have less. Some people are more charismatic, strong and intelligent and are able to win the minds of others to follow them. Others are weaker, uglier and less magnetic and are on the losing end of power. And this is not after the social contract, this is before it. For anything before this state in which some have the power to convince men to follow and others have the necessity to obay is pure fiction. This is the raw state of existence, where might makes right. So we have this State of Nature to work with and we must define the best social contract from which to go by. Let us together sit on a mountain and observe this chaotic anarchy. Here we must determine how best to bring Order and Prosperity to the people. We have established that some will always have more power than the others and we see in our mountain top the leaders of disparate groups vying for power and conquest. These people will always exist, for it is in human nature to conglomerate around a leader. So we have to think what system may better organize these prexisting powers in a way that better serves the maximum amount of people. You notice here that I do not even attempt to change the nature of power and dictate how many people actually are foci of power. To do so would be the same as a civil engineer trying to build a house and assigning his own view of how gravity should work. Needless to say, his house would fall. The amount of foci of power is irrelevant, what is relevant is how these foci interact with each other. Their configuration. There will always be multiple foci of power as there are always disparate interests in any large conglomerate and therefore there needs to be multiple leaders. And you might think I am talking about something very provincial, like I am turning the conversation to a distant past unrelated to the subject at hand. But any cursory glance at history shows that analysing the state of nature through a basis of inequality is much more realistic than one based in equality. This can be seen in every single example of Empires that fell and social orders that were destroyed. In no known example in history was the colapse of a social contract followed by a state of equality. On the contrary, when the social contract was destroyed, what you tend to see is the rise of feudal societies. Why? Because what really happens is simply that the foci of power lose focus, lose organization. Power itself does not change. Only its structure does. Thus, the difference between a Monarchy, an Aristocracy and a Democracy is not who holds power, but how the foci of power have agreed to act. In a Monarchy, the foci of power agree to follow the leadership of the Monarch. In an Aristocracy, the foci of power agree that they should act on the basis of mutual agreement or another form of decision making that does not involve the public. On a Democracy, the foci of power are hidden and have others work in their name with the people as legitimizers. Republics tend to be a mixture of Aristocracy and Democracy. Note that even in a Republic, the focus of power is never massified. In the sense that power is not equalized. Nor does it even equalize more than when in a Monarchy. What happens is simply that the foci of power become less clear and use proxies for the exercise of their power (elected representatives) or use the power directly when they wish (Trump being an example of a focus potestatis that decided to take government to his own hands).

As you can see, the initial social contract cannot be expressed in the metaphore of a group of people in equal standing deciding on what is more agreeable to them as a whole. It is always a group of people with very different level of power defining together their form of government. So there will necessarily be concessions to be made to the foci of power to the detriment of the populus. But these foci of power are in power because of newtonian forces themselves. They have power because they share their resources with others, or because they are charismatic, or because they are intelligent; either way, they are benefiting others to remain in power. A man can have all the money in the world. If he does not buy something with it (giving money to someone in exchange for something the person values less than said money) they will have nothing. So power always involves some form of newtonian pushes and pulls between the populus and the foci. But the foci are necessarily in a position of advantage because they have more control on resources and bodies than any individual of the populus.

And I concede in the subject of slavery. I cannot assume that slavery will be more of a cost either in innocent suffering or in resources than any other form of punishment without proper data. So I must agree to you on that.

Do you agree with all that I said here so far? What are your thoughts?

Gaius Florius Lupus C. Curtio Philoni S.P.D.
Salve amice!

With this final argument you got me.
Good point! It is true that we cannot assume an idealized situation as the initial point from where to start. The power distribution is asymmetrical from the beginning. And this assumption seems to be the flaw in the thinking of the philosophers of the Enlightenment in the 18th century too, which includes Kant.

This solves another contradiction for me, because you had already convinced me with your argument that monarchies have a concept of long-term responsibility, which a republic simply cannot have due to the limited terms of government and the distribution of responsibility. This would make a monarchy more efficient and history provides sufficient proof that monarchies are indeed more stable and longer lasting than republics. It is therefore a very strong point. My only problem was that I did not know how to achieve agreeability for privileges of a particular person starting from the premise that all humans are equal. The mistake was that this premise was wrong, as you nicely elaborated. So the citizens would not need to give up any rights, if they never had them in the first place.
Therefore I do not see a principle conflict between monarchy and morality anymore, which was the starting point of our debate. The monarch however should not make any attempts to make the situation for any group of citizens worse as it was, when he took power, because then this group would be better up without him; and this would destroy the cohesion of the nation and also carry the seed of a rebellion against his rule. For this reason a wise monarch would probably avoid it in his own interest.

I am not yet convinced that monarchy is necessarily the optimal form of government, if there is such a thing. Because if we accept Plato's cycle of government as a law of nature, then the question, which is the most preferable form of government would be pointless, since we cannot stop the cycle; we could only try to make the best out of each.
However it would be interesting to see how a really convinced advocate of democracy would continue this debate.

It is very unfortunate that the only real philosophers in the Collegium like you and C. Flor. Aetius do not want to have more such debates publicly in the forum. But I can understand your reason in this case.
This conversation was probably the best philosophical discussion I ever had, because we both argued strictly by using logos without being hindered by emotionally charged preconceptions or personal ambitions. This is how philosophy should be, while these days it consists mostly of throwing in preconceived opinions and then either letting all of them stand side by side as equally valid or - even worse - insisting on the own opinion and getting angry and exchanging insults, when others do not want to accept it.

Multas gratias tibi, amice, pro tempore tuo ago.
Cura ut valeas!

Re: De Virtute Potestatis Regiae

PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2018 7:44 pm
by Gaius Florius Aetius
Dear friends,

I have followed this debate with great interest, and since I was asked to share my view on this, I gladly do so. Please excuse before, that my philosophical and political English is not as nuanced as I could explain myself in German, by far.

Now when I go to the question of the morality of Monarchy, I can not help but to go back to the question, what is good? And behind that lies the question, what even is human nature? For I think without having any clarity or at least direction in these questions, I feel unable to answer the first question, how morally right is Monarchy?

I myself have written several times that humans are beings full of contradictions. We desire to be free and individual AND at the same times we desire to belong to something greater, the group, a collective. We want many opposing things, so I do not think any society should be build on one single highest ideal, like either individualism or collectivism, but as a selection of values. As such, I can only see a society that succeeds being based on how human nature truly is, for if we violate human nature we put our society on the course of failure. Humans want at the same time be masters of their lives, they generally dislike being told what to do, but also do not want to look into every political affair all the time. That for me rules out any extreme model of society like anarchic libertarian or a strong dictatorship, because in the anarchy people would be overwhelmed making way too many decisions all the time by themselves, whereas in any authoritarian rule people would feel that too many decisions are forced upon them.

Hence I follow usually the Aristotelian school of balance between the extremes. The second thought is, that I still regard by and large the model of the Roman Republic as the ideal state, in the same way as Polybios wrote, it being a balance between Democracy, Aristocracy and Monarchy. Let me explain.

The greatest benefit of democracy is, besides the freedom of speech, that fact that it puts more responsibilities on the people. If all decisions are made only by a select few, the masses have no responsibilities whatsoever, and that seems not a goal for humanity I find worthy. Now sure, one can say, the masses are uneducated and brute, and this may be so. But like a child grows gradually with the duties given to them, so I am sure at least to a degree, the masses can learn, when responsibilities are given to them. Though I am convinced our system of political parties is most inferior in doing so, but that is more then the question how we organize the democratic element; but for these reasons, I would by all means have a democratic element in a society. Its absence would create a continually growing dissatisfaction of many people, esp. in our information age, where, unlike in past ages, most people can read and write and thus are part of a net of communication anyway. So their natural desire will be to have a voice.

Now of course we know the masses lacking time and usually education are often not so well in knowing what is the best, and for that we also need a class dedicated both intellectually and by a higher standard of ethics as “experts” in the broadest sense. Patricians, Nobles. I tend to lean at least a bit to the Platonic/Socratic idea of the Guardian Class or however you would name it, who are both highly educated and raised with a specific sense of ethicality. I would not want to given them THAT much power as Plato would, but I would surely add them to society as one of three elements, similarly to the Patricians of the Roman Republic.

Now I have a bit eluded the question, what place has monarchy? I judge the moral validity as Pragmatist mostly from the result, what sort of results would a monarchy cause? Now the aim of a society can, as I think similarly like Socrates, only be the Common Good. Like the doctor heals the people for them, or the Captain sails the ship where the passengers want to go, so it seems clear to me, that the aim of any government must be the good of the people, the Res Publica, not his own personal good. One can say, a Monarch, being free of any influence would be above the small bickering of factions, but the reality of Monarchy has hardly ever been like it. Of course the benefit of a good monarch is, that he can do much good without the hindrance of the bureaucracy and the various factions in a society. But how does he know what is good? How can we hope a monarch is so wise? Is it not more likely to expect that a group of people debating and critizising each other will find a way that is both morally good and for the benefit of the Res Publica, than a single being, who has no equal against whom he must prove his ideas? So I tend to favor the Roman concept of the two Consuls, who are almost like monarchs, but they are elected, for a brief time, without having the office too long and they are two, with the chance to balance each other out; whereas a single being, as the general passion of humans goes, might be too tempted by his power to fall into hubris. Soon he will find himself infallible and look at other people as mere tools and chess pieces of his whim, as, again, history has shown often enough.

So my view is, so far, that Monarchy seems immoral to me; not because of some a priori reasons, but because of the results; the design of a rule of a single person would always go bad due to human nature, having no checks and balances, such an individual without any equal and counterpart tends to develop the worst human characteristics.

I have always, I would like to add, seen Cicero as my role model, standing for the Roman Republic, even though at times he doubted it would work anymore under the current circumstances. I can understand the need for a leading figure and even more a leading caste, but not unchecked, only rooted in the Republican democracy of elections, debates and free speech. That seems to me a system that leads humanity upwards; even if at times it fails, I would still regard it so, that we must then try again better, than handing all power to a single individual. Above that I would be of the view, that the Human Rights are a basis I regard as some worthy standard for a society. However, I think it is prudent to add elements of Aristocracy and Monarchy to the Democratic element, because, as I have said, the masses are often uneducated and unruly, and often does not know well what is best for the common good. I would, as a rule, establish systems which encourage the good, rather than forbid what is bad, like creating Art and Entertainment that is not nihilistic or dragging people down, but Art and Entertainment that inspires, lifts people up and sets up positive examples. I see it as less relevant whether these systems are set up by democratic people, by a group of nobles or a single person.

Re: De Virtute Potestatis Regiae

PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2018 7:50 pm
by Gaius Florius Aetius
Just as a sidenote. I am just reading Plato's "The State", where Socrates argues that Homer's Iliad and Odysse were bad, insofar the immoral depiction of the Gods and the Heroes would undermine public morality, essentially saying, Art should elevate people not give them bad examples they might then immitate.

Now I am great proponent of "Freedom of Art", so I think there should be freedom to provide any art on the market. But I do think, that we have the problem Socrates mentions, that now the public art and culture indeed does undermine the public morality, so we need a sort of division of spheres. Public Art and Culture should be "guided", but there also should be a market for free art forms. So again, using this example to demonstrate my balanced approach to such questions, I am not fond of either extreme. It is kinda funny though that I read that from Socrates, which I critizised in the public arts for decades unknowing Socrates said so.

Re: De Virtute Potestatis Regiae

PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2018 8:17 pm
by Gaius Curtius Philo
C. Curtius C. Florio sal.

As always I am pleased to see you commenting amice and I will say my view on your positions.

On your first assertion: The idea that the old Roman Republic was in any ways democratic (as in power given to the People) is false. Voting turnout was very small and mostly a rubberstamp for passed laws. And even if you look at now a days, politics is not controlled in any way by the People. We do not get the People around to devise policies. What actually happens is a small group of people get a gigantic funding to do political campaigns and those that have the most funding "coincidently" tend to win elections. They then proceed to do token things in favor of what they defended or do them when it in truth benefits their financers instead of the People (the Migrant Crisis being a perfect example of a policy the people believe benefit them but that in truth only benefits the corporations). All in all, no society has convinced me that power can ever be distributed, thus Democracy is just another work for "Oligarchy/Plutocracy with Demagogue put into the mix". The education of the masses is irrelevant in that aspect. It isnt a case that they are not competent enough to rule, but that the very laws of nature do not permit it. Humans simply do not make complex decisions in large scale congregations. When it is attempted, the people just become a rubberstamp to the wealthy or not even that. What you speak about a Noble caste is an evolution to a Republic, definitely. But that would simply emphasis the Aristocratic element of it. It would provide a good delegitimizer (legitimacy = power to abuse) that would increase Freedom, but it would only work if this position was hereditary (if it was not hereditary, they can always demand obedience because "they were chosen to be there", thus, they would know better). But even such I personally think it still disperses responsibility in a way that they are too free of blame and responsibility.

Regarding your view on Monarchical power, I actually would direct you to the previous discussion, where I explain how Monarchs do not exist in a vaccuum. The common view of a Monarch being above factions, free of influence and Beurocracy is a fallacy. And that is a good thing. A Monarch should Not existin a vacuum. He is pressed by the natural forces that power generate. These newtonians pulls and pushes are essentially checks and balances on his power. I think the biggest problem here is you are assuming the Monarch would Actually have absolute power. As I proved previously, that is impossible. Only a God could ever be absolute.

The fact that Consules only last a year is actually highly detrimental. As I explained before in the discussion, it fosters short term thinking and makes it impossible to RATIONALLY expect the consul to not exploit the people as much as humanly possible. Monarchy provides more accountability. I highly urge you to reread the discussion amice because many of your points have already been addressed in it.

Your point on Monarchy not having checks and balances has also been addressed and we categorically illustrated how that is an illusion created by Republican thought. Monarchy is actually the only system with Natural Checks and Balances, while Republics have Artificial checks and balances that are by their very nature corrupt (because of the very human nature you speak of).

The idea that Republics naturally defend free speech and freedom have also been addressed and we have shown that this is far from the case. Republics actually have the largest possible power to remove legitimately such things.

The idea that you think all power would be concentrated on the Monarch is wrong, because that is not how power works. Power canot be handed to people. It is a naturally occurring phenomenon that is never unified in one point. Ever.

Again Amice, I think in your eagerness to speak of this most interesting subject you inadvertedly skimmed through some of the more vital aspects of the discussion. I implore you to reread it and address them directly so that we can better benefit from your insight.

Your friend,

Re: De Virtute Potestatis Regiae

PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2018 11:57 am
by Gaius Florius Lupus
Salvete amici!

One of the main advantages of a monarchy, that Philo mentioned and that I was unable to disprove, was the monarch would have a long-term view and had always to take responsibility for his actions.
A consul who has only a limited term is only interested in the effects that his decisions have within his term. A monarch on the other hand will rule for a lifetime and he will inherit his kingdom to his children. So he is forced to think in longer terms.
A consul whose power is checked by a second consul who can veto him can also always blame his colleague for everything that goes wrong. A monarch has nobody to blame.

We would have to find a mechanism for the republic that implements these two aspects, the long-term view and responsibility. Of course my friend Philo would answer that it is the very nature of human beings to think first in their own interest, and when their own concerns are limited by their term in office and their restricted power, then their concerns would also be limited to it.
For this reason we can observe that historically monarchies have proven far more stable and long-lasting compared to republics.


Re: De Virtute Potestatis Regiae

PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 12:18 pm
by Gaius Florius Lupus
Salvete collegae!

It would be wrong to give everybody the impression that we have concluded that monarchy is the best possible form of government. What we have concluded is that monarchy cannot be considered to be inherently immoral, because it only formalizes a preexisting inequality for the common good of the nation.

Today we are living in a democracy, even if in a declining one. Therefore more inequality is forming. According to Plato's cycle of governments (aristocracy, timocracy, oligarchy, democracy, tyranny) it will eventually turn into a tyranny, which is what he calls the rule of one. Apparently he was not a friend of monarchy for calling it so.

We have discussed certain advantages of monarchy over our current system, but I am not convinced yet that a democracy must be inherently immoral.
Given our current position in the cycle of governments and accepting its mechanism as a law of nature, we have only two options:
1. A smooth transition to the next stage, the monarchy
2. Trying to maintain democracy by improving it and fighting its illnesses
I still think that the republic has its merit and can be improved.

The main advantages of monarchy are its long-term view on politics, to have a responsible leader who can blame nobody else and to have honesty by formalizing and regulating the real existing inequality in society.
But perhaps we can have a republic that also has this advantages.

The main problem with governments is the human nature itself, which is inclined towards injustice. The solution is therefore getting rid of the human factor.
One new option that we have in the modern world would be the transfer of power to an artificial intelligence (A.I.), which would be just and not be limited by election terms. It would therefore have the same advantages as a monarchy and would at the same time guaranty that no citizen enjoys any privileges.
Such an A.I. was impossible in the past and possibly still is so in the present. So what other options would we have to get the human factor out of the system?
It would be an immutable law that leaves little power to the actual government. If the law does not permit any human institution to change it and is absolutely obeyed, we would have a perfect republic. For this reason the rule of law is the essence of every republic.
At the same time we need guardians of this law, which would again be humans and therefore offer a chance for corruption to enter the system. These guardians should therefore be decentralized and have no leadership other than obedience to the law itself. It would be a police force with no, or at least very few ranks and no head office.

Could such a republic based on an immutable law and protected by a decentralized force of guardians work in reality? And would it not be preferable to a monarchy, which often suffers from incompetent and weak rulers?

I am interested about your opinions.


Re: De Virtute Potestatis Regiae

PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 3:32 pm
by Gaius Curtius Philo
Salve amice!

The problem here is the illusion of divisibility of power. The idea that we can seperate power from their natural foci. We can't. Power is not legislative, it is a naturally occuring phenomenon. The main problem of Republics is that it creates the illusion of power transfer. It makes it seem like power is shifting hands costantly, but what really happens is that the proxies of those in power shift.

Let us analyse your alternative. An immutable law. Who would write it? Whoever would write it wouls have the interest to skew it to their own needs. There is no reason why not to. Let us pretend though for a moment that they are all moral selfless individuals and they make a very just law (which is irrational to do). Who would protect said law? How would they be selected? Who would create the selection process? All of these points are points for corruption to spread. Who maintains them? Who pays for their expenses? Who protects Them? If no one, would they be then an Army? If so you are talking about Martial Law. We must understand that these are humans and it is in human nature to take advantage of things to as little loss as possible. What incentives would these guardians have to not "reinterprate" the law?

The main problem I see in the discussion of Republicanism is that it assumes power can be legislated, which is simply not the case. You can take power, surely (confiscate people's property, kill them, etc), but that would require to have before hand More power than they do (an Army), and you would have to convince said power source of your use to them. In other words, every time you shift power you naturally create a new Elite, because an elite is needed to topple another Elite. Power does not decentralize. The current corruption of the Republic is not to be seen as a "centralization of power", as if it was decentralized before and because of corruption is centralizing. The current corruption of the Republic is the enboldment of the preexisting foci of power, who are daring more abuse than before because they believe they can get away with it.


Re: De Virtute Potestatis Regiae

PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2018 12:02 pm
by Gaius Florius Lupus
Salve amice!

Thank you for answering to my thought., although I had hoped that there were other supporters of the republican system besides me, considering that this forum is part of an organization that calls itself "Republic".

As always you have immediately identified the weaknesses of my argument. Nevertheless I will try to defend it.
The questions, who would enact the immutable law or who would appoint the guardians are details, not principle problems. So we do not need to discuss them at the beginning. In the worst case we could have them drawn by a lottery to keep the human factor and the potential for corruption out. But I do not think that this would be necessary.
Their arms and salary would be paid by taxes of course, just as it is done today. Since an immutable law is made for eternity, it cannot benefit temporary interests of mortal lawmakers. They would be dead, when the law would still have validity. It could even be enacted that the law only comes into effect after the last lawmaker has died. So the law would not effect any of them. Apart from this, the law has to obey the rules of logic of course.

So these are all details that can be solved. The only principle problem that you mentioned is the question: Can power be decentralized and transferred? Is it even possible that power in a state can be differently distributed by a law than it is by nature? This is indeed a very important observation, that I have not been aware of so far. Maybe we forget nature, when we start designing constitutions on a drawing board. Maybe no state can change the natural distribution of power, no matter how the constitution is.
This is a very pessimist outlook that would actually make any constitution unnecessary. So there would be no difference between a situation where a country is ruled by warlords or a properly constituted state.
Is this really the case?


Re: De Virtute Potestatis Regiae

PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2018 4:35 pm
by Gaius Curtius Philo
Not at all, amice. The difference of Constitition is important because it defines the rules under which the foci agree to act. Without it, they are disordered and balkanized. A law can direct power, it just can't alter its nature. That is, to me, the greater problem of most people's view on constitutions. Their constitutions attempt to control the holders of power, instead of trying to predict instructions that would more likely guarentee that the things that benefit the holders of power also benefit the people. In other words, instead of focusing on a system that converts selfishness into useful things for society at large, people try to put none selfish people into power, as if they could actually control who has power (which they can't).

So this view is not really pessimistic, it is practical. It does not predict that things will be bad no matter what, it just forces you to focus on what you actually Can control, instead of on what is beyond your power.

Re: De Virtute Potestatis Regiae

PostPosted: Sat Jan 20, 2018 11:05 am
by Gaius Florius Lupus
Salve, amice!

Yes, this seems reasonable. And it would be the Stoic approach. "Do not worry about things that are beyond your control!"
So no system of government is inherently morally wrong. It simply reflects the actual foci of power, and we have to deal with these facts.