The Null Device

Libertarian Monarchism

The latest development in Libertarian thought: Libertarian Monarchism, or the belief that democracy was a step towards the decline of civilisation, and that an absolute monarchy would be a far superior system of government from a libertarian (i.e., "hands off my property") point of view. Yep, it's as crazy as it sounds:
To understand how democracy destroys civilization, we must first understand how civilization comes about. Civilization is the outcome of saving and investment, in other words: capital accumulation.
As a result of taxation, the rate of return on investment is diminished. Saving to invest becomes less lucrative, so people consume more and save less than they otherwise would have. People become more present-minded and the process of civilization is impeded. The amount of taxation determines how significant this effect will be. CastleIf the government is privately owned (i.e., a monarchy), then this effect will be limited. Since the government is his personal property, a monarch has an interest in both the present tax revenues and the long-term capital value of his kingdom. His incentive is to tax moderately, so as not to diminish the future productivity of his subjects, and hence his future tax revenues.
Since the kingdom is the private property of the king, he has a strong incentive to uphold the integrity of private property law (the validity of his ownership of the kingdom depends upon it). The king also has an incentive to uphold economically beneficial law—private property law—to increase value of his kingdom. Democratic rulers have no private ownership stake in the government and thus have no incentive to uphold the integrity of private property law. Nor do they have an incentive to maintain economically beneficial law. On the contrary, they can benefit by creating artificial laws—legislation—that serve to undermine private property law for their own benefit.

There are 4 comments on "Libertarian Monarchism":

Posted by: Greg Tue Jun 30 09:59:30 2009

I did a double-take when I saw the headline, and had to look up "libertarian". I always took it to mean something like "anarchist", which you'd think would be incompatible with monarchism. But given that according to Wikipedia it can mean 'pro private property', let's just get down to business and find the flaws in their argument. I see one obvious one. A look at the history of any kingdom shows that kings do not have permanent, assured ownership of their countries. There is just as much politicking aimed at replacing one king with another as there is aimed at replacing one democratic government with another - possibly more, and wannabes don't wait for three years to go by. So it is in the incumbent king's interest to exploit his subjects in the cause of maintaining his reign. History is full of examples of kings taxing subjects in order to say, wage wars that are in the king's interest, or erect infrastructure designed to keep the masses in their place. That will always be a ruler's first priority.

Posted by: acb Wed Jul 1 11:42:33 2009

Not to mention that recent examples of absolute hereditary monarchies (well, ones not blessed with vast reserves of oil) are Swaziland and North Korea; not exactly success stories.

Posted by: unixdj Thu Jul 2 12:42:57 2009

"This self-reinforcing cycle of capital accumulation is known as the process of civilization."

Once you allow definitions like that, anything goes.

Posted by: Isotopp Fri Dec 3 13:58:21 2010

Greg, you forget one big step - imagine the king not being a natural person, but a corporation. Now it all makes sense.