A blogger and author going by the name Clement Pulaski, wasn’t too fond of Matthew Heimbach’s infamous “Death to America” speech at last year’s Stormfront conference. After considering his material, it seems there are three main points of contention: TradYouth’s fraternizing with non-Christians, Heimbach’s interpretation of American history, and Heimbach’s advocacy of monarchy.
As a Reformed Christian (I’m a Calvinist who believes in ethnic nationalism and monarchy), I was naturally interested in hearing what Pulaski had to say. I even found many of my feelings and concerns expressed in his article. Nevertheless, I think he’s overplayed his criticisms so a brief response is warranted:
The first two aren’t biggies, in my opinion. Fraternizing with pagans? Really? Because Heimbach cites Evola from time to time? Because some non-Christians write posts on TradYouth occasionally? Because we hold picket signs next to pagans? There’s been a long running debate within moral realist circles about how to apply universal norms to particular situations. This debate spills into Christian ethics as well, with certain “totalitarians” advocating for a proof text to govern our every move, while certain “libertines” abuse God’s grace by doing whatever is right in their own eyes.
However a Christian solves this conundrum, it must be admitted that it’s a difficult question and that individual Christian dignity ought to be honored with respect to intimate decisions – like, for instance, how closely one decides to work with non-Christians as part of a political strategy. Until Pulaski is able to produce an internationally acclaimed church council, detailing the exact limits and bounds of such political posturing, then he ought to respect the consciences of those involved. Without such a council or consensus from Christendom, his arguments amount to little more than complaints that TradYouth doesn’t meet his personal tastes. Big deal. He’s not even a member of TradYouth, so why should we cater to his tastes?
And what of Heimbach’s view of America’s founding? It’s disingenuous for Pulaski to spend a lot of time refuting talking points in a speech. It’s unnerving to give public talks in the first place, but even more so when you’re speaking at the Stormfront conference. Fudging historical particulars to make a succinct point, then, may require clarification later, and Pulaski might argue that some of Heimbach’s talking points need work, but it’s not an unusual practice, nor unwarranted given the audience and situation. And the American founding is a ridiculously complex topic, one that even Pulaski’s article wasn’t long enough to do justice. Heimbach’s a history major and, I’m sure, were it required of him, he could give a thorough defense of his interpretation of America’s history – just maybe not in a few comments during a speech intended for other purposes.
That leaves us with the biggie: Pulaski’s rejection of monarchy. Here we have a genuine ideological disagreement; in response, I’ll provide a few words in favor and invite the curious to ask questions in the comment section.
How can a Calvinist support monarchy? Isn’t that counter-historical? Isn’t that contrary to the spirit of God’s law (see 1 Samuel 8, for example)?
Skipping to the heart of the matter, a few points must be made:
1. Throughout the history of political philosophy, positions, names, and labels have proven to be notoriously ambiguous. “Monarchy” is no different. In the end, and despite minute differences in terminology and practice, it may be that a Christian confederacy of tribal monarchs, governed by a loose allegiance to God’s law, may resemble what others think of as a republic. At any rate, both terms are ambiguous, even in their historical manifestations.
2. The most important premise in a Christian defense of monarchy is that Scripture supports private property ownership. Any attack on monarchy is ultimately an attack on private property, as the following illustration will show:
Imagine, if you will, that you and your family move to Texas and purchase a 600 acre homestead. But 600 acres is a lot to manage. One day, a gang of Mexicans lazily stroll onto your property and ask for work. You need their help, so you agree about wages and they set out to do their thing. Part of the agreement is that they can have the large shed on the back 40 to live in while they work.
In this illustration, we have the foundation of monarchy. Your children and the children of the Mexicans, while equal in dignity, have different rights and privileges on the farm. Perhaps the Mexican’s children are not allowed in the main yard or allowed in the ranch house? Now, suppose, one day, the Mexicans decide the political situation is unjust and that the 600 acre farm ought to belong to everyone? The only way they can overturn the current situation is by effectively robbing you and your family of your original property and redistributing it among themselves.
…hence, on this view, those who executed Charles I were little more than thieves and street thugs .
3. Many defenses of monarchy are offered by those who either aren’t interested in Christianity, or who offer arguments that don’t directly rest on Christian theology. These arguments, like some from Fr. Raphael Johnson as well as those from Hans Hoppe, focus on the utility of monarchy, claiming it’s better than other systems for practical reasons . While I wont focus more on them here, they’re important and ought to be dealt with in any debate about monarchy.
Much more can be said, especially about how a Christian monarchy fits into a tribalist and theonomic context, but there’s no denying that monarchy is ethical and maybe even the normative state for man. It’s just as normative as patriarchy, family, and private property ownership.
I wish more Calvinists throughout the history of the West had realized it and I hope Pulaski gives it a second thought.
1. For an interesting view of this debate in contemporary philosophy, see Marianne Talbot’s series of lectures: “A Romp Through Ethics.”
2. See Hilaire Belloc’s book on Charles I, for a monarch-friendly analysis of the English Civil War.
3. See The Orthodox Nationalist’s episode in defense of monarchy. Fr. Raph Johnson has an interesting and uniquely Orthodox defense of monarchy. I became a monarchist, in part, thanks to the influence of his excellent podcast. His material is a great place for budding Christian monarchists to begin and he does a wonderful job of putting arguments, like the ones Hoppe offers, into a Christian context. A typical sort of pragmatic argument, found at 33 min. into Hoppe’s lecture “From Monarchy to Democracy”, is that it’s more difficult for Kings to inflate the currency than it is for anonymous banking oligarchs.