can it be? Sure. There are many practical, as opposed to literary advantages. There is nothing more efficient than a monarchy or dictatorship. All of the jokes about a committee are based in truth. But what is th cost of this efficiency? The government is only as good as the one person is wise or their instincts are good or they are open enough to include the opinions of others in their decision making. Hereditary or military selection of heirs is rather hit or miss. So "good" is a rather nebulous issue here. Like any form of government it has its pluses and minuses.
While I would argue that monarchies can be a good form of government, it does all depend on the type of monarchy and the monarch. The following couple arguments are written with the idea that the monarch is 'good'.
As has been said preivously, a monarch can give a strong leader that everyone looks to. The best example of this can be seen in Spain with King Juan Carlos I who, upon the death of the fascist dictator General Franco in 1975, ushered in a new era of democracy and prosperity. As such he is a unifiying force in a country where regional identities have and continue to threaten to pull the country apart, most notably in Cataluna and the Basque region.
The most effective type of monarchy, I would argue is that of a consitutional monarchy, for example Britain. While the Queen does hold executive power, it is the Prime Minister that takes decisions as it is the Prime Minister that represents the people. You could then argue, why have the Queen if she has no power why have her at all? To this I would say that she provides an effective control or limit to the aspirations of any one person, protecting the people from the power hungry as they cannot hold ultimate power.
Of course, not all monarchs are 'good', there are a multitude of people to choose from if we wanted an example of someone 'bad'. However, in modern society monarchs will understand that unless they serve the people, they will be deposed by a republic or someone else installed in their place.
There is of course another type of monarch, that of absolute monarchy. This, I an not in favour of and it is here that I agree that power corrupts. The worst example of this is the current King of Swaziland, who is said to be very wealthy while his people starve and suffer from HIV/AIDS.
Yes, power does corrupt. It corrupts everyone, kings, queens and presidents. Constitutional monarchies can put a limit on the power that any one person holds.
Machiavelli is one of the proponents of a monarchy. In The Prince, he argues that if a prince is good, then he will have a successful monarchy and, most of all, have happier people.
He gives a list of benefits, which include the following:
- A powerful, noble leader becomes a "paradigm of virtue" for his subjects
- A monarchy has greater stability and unity than most republics
- A monarchy has greater fiscal responsibilty
- A monarchy is successful militarily
(For a better explanation of these points, read this post from one of my blogs.)
The Prince was written to guide a Prince to be good. it didn't actually suggest that Monarchies were the right form of government.
The problem is that we have to rely on this guy being a good leader... really? too much to risk, not to mention that Machiavelli suggested that he needed to put fear into us, just not make us hate him. This would obviously lead to strict laws for the "greater good". I'm basically just seeing another Stalin.
That's very true; some evidence indicates that Machiavelli actually preferred republics.
And that, too, is a legitimate concern. Which is why I said in my blog, "Shuddering at the memory of despotic monarchs in history such as King George III, many people wonder why Machiavelli even considers a monarchy." But the question of the debate was, can it be a good form of government. Which I (and Machiavelli) would say 'yes' to.
I believe that a combination of meritocratic principles with the leadership and stability of a monarchy would be an ideal form of government. A meritocracy is an organization (in this form a government) where advancement is based purely on merit. Basically its a system where advancement and rewards are directly linked to the quality of your performance in relation to the state. Leadership for the position of Monarch could be chosen from the pool of talented and proven individuals who have managed to make their way to the top. Perhaps a convention of the highest merited individuals could choose one from amongst themselves.
There is also a historical basis for an elected monarch. In the Holy Roman Empire (the German one) the Emperor was elected from among the nobility of the land.
Because of its quick political responses and civil unifying powers, monarchy is without a doubt the best form of government out there... if set up right. Most people see the monarchy as just a dictatorship: corrupt and tyrannical. But with a proper constitution instead of a parliament, senate, or something, monarchy can be just, moral, and effective. The problem with kings who don't know how to rule can also be avoided if they reenacted the Good-Roman-Emperor tradition of adopting an heir.
First, I would like to thank you for the link to your blog post - I had heard the term Machiavellian used, but had never actually done any research on it (and had guessed that it was not a favorable adjective based on the context in which it was used); I now have a much better idea of the concept.
According to your blog, Machiavelli suggests many characteristics of a "good Prince" - arguing that if the ruler follows Machiavelli's advice, the kingdom would benefit and thrive. Each point of advice could be argued on its own merit, as to the benefit that it would bring upon the subjects of the monarchy.
But the argument FOR a monarchy (as put forth in your blog), leaves out a key component - succession. When the "good Prince" passes on his duties as ruler to the next Prince, how likely is it that the next ruler will exhibit all of the suggested characteristics, and therefore benefit the people of his kingdom as well as his predecessor? AND, what are the rules for succession? If my understanding of history is (even close to) correct, succession is a family matter - the "next in line" for ruler of the kingdom is based on birth rights (although it seems the history of monarchies is rife with many examples of subterfuge and chicanery).
I would put forth the argument that the concept of royalty is merely the opposite of slavery, and that both are equally preposterous. To accept that a person can be born into slavery is morally wrong, and to accept that a person can be born into royalty is also wrong.
However, to answer you question - Yes, I suppose that a monarchy (under the auspices of a "good ruler") COULD be a good form of government. But I personally would prefer a direct democracy (even though the democracy in which I find myself could definitely use some improvements. But that would be an entirely different debate).
And absolute power corrupts absolutely! There remains a well populated list of countries that are ruled by Monarchy and a few are still absolute Monarchies. Some are governed by Monarch but with constitutions which disallow full authority by the Monarch. In Great Britain, the Monarchy is but a figurehead of a nation ruled by Parliamentary (Constitutional) law. The URL listed below gives us information on how each Monarchy is actually governed.
Can they be a good form of government? Yes, they can if the throne is held by a reasonable Monarch! In tribal nations, however, absolute Monarchies can be , have been and still are the ruination of its people in every way imaginable.
Existing World Monarchies (www.cosmoedu.net)
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