December 8

Without monarchy, no liberal democracies

“Without monarchy, no liberal democracies would have come into being.

Monarchies in Europe have long been the notional sources of honour, and as a focus of national unity, they enabled  party disputes to develop institutionally into a distinction between government and opposition without degenerating into civil war.

Certainly no classical state generated our kind of conversational politics. …North European monarchies are the most free and stable states as well as the least corrupt democracies…

It is significant that the overthrow of monarchy in Russia, Spain and Germany in the twentieth century led to very bad times indeed.”

This conclusion is contained in Emeritus Professor  Kenneth Minogue's latest book, The Servile Mind: How Democracy Erodes the Moral Life (Encounter Books,  New York, 2010, available at a discount through the Book Depository).

Professor Minogue, an internationally respected political scientist, recalls that one of the grim comedies of the twentieth century was the fate of miserable victims of communist regimes who climbed walls, swam rivers, dodged bullets, and found other desperate ways to achieve liberty in the West at the same time as intellectuals in the West sentimentally proclaimed that these very regimes were the wave of the future.

Australians will recall that the local proponents of a peoples’ republic would have introduced a similar regime. Gerard Henderson reminded his readers recently about the admission by  “kind old” Uncle Eric Aarons  in his book What’s Left (Penguin, 1993).

Aarons was  a member of the Australian Communist Party’s ruling family. (It is curious how republican oligarchs sometime prefer hereditary succession)

In his book he admitted that  if the Aarons’ dynasty had ever come to power in Australia they would “have executed people.”


[Continued below]

Professor Minogue says a similar tragicomedy to that of the twentieth century is being played out in ours: as the victims of despotism and backwardness from third world nations pour into Western states, the same ivory tower intellectuals assert that Western life is a nightmare of inequality and oppression.

This book explores the intelligentsia’s love affair with social perfection and reveals how that idealistic dream is destroying exactly what has made the inventive Western world irresistible to the peoples of foreign lands.

The Servile Mind looks at how Western morality has evolved into mere “politico-moral” posturing about admired ethical causes—from solving world poverty and creating peace to curing climate change. Today, merely making the correct noises and parading one’s essential decency by having the correct opinions has became a substitute for individual moral actions.

Instead, Minogue posits, we ask that our government carry the burden of solving our social—and especially moral—problems for us. The sad and frightening irony is that as we allow the state to determine our moral order and inner convictions, the more we need to be told how to behave and what to think.

…the author and the book…

Kenneth Minogue is Emeritus Professor of political science at the London School of Economics. He has written books on liberalism, nationalism, the idea of a university, the logic of ideology, and, more recently, on democracy and the moral life. He has reviewed in many places, and has been a columnist for the Times, the Times Higher Education Supplement, and other outlets.

This book is available at a discounted price, postage free, from the Book Depository – just click here.

(At the time of writing the  Borders Australia website will send the book from overseas post free for $49.95; the Book Depository is charging $26.83


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