Originally published in Alternative Green #32, 2002
The concept of anarcho-monarchy may seem the ultimate contradiction in terms to many, but for others it may elicit only a sense of paradox. The surrealist painter Salvador Dali was asked when giving a television interview to give a definitive term to express his political views, to which he answered that he was a monarchist-anarchist – much to the confusion of the interviewer.
In his book The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Hakim Bey makes reference to the Russian Narodnik anarchists who would propagate revolutionary propaganda in the name of the Czar, proclaiming freedom from serfdom and calling on the masses to overthrow the government – which, being corrupt and exploitative, had cut the Czar off from his beloved people and land.
A similar method for instigating revolt was used during the English Civil War by the National Revolutionary “Fifth Day Monarchy” men, who derived their name from the prophetic Book of Daniel in the Hebrew Old Testament. Daniel saw four great kingdoms and monarchies that would emerge during the course of world history – the fifth and final being the divine monarchy and millennial reign of Christ seated upon the throne of Judah and David (see Dan ch. 2 vv. 31-45, Dan ch. 7 vv. 1-28, and Rev ch. 20 vv. 4-6).
One of the first ever recognisable works denoting an anarchist sensibility was penned in the language of monarchical rule. The Way and its Power (Tao Te Ching), the bible of the mystical Chinese Taoist tradition, provides a series of wise sayings and meditations for the would-be king on how to govern his people. Originally a polemic against Confucian bureaucracy, The Way and its Power reconstructs the tradition of the emperor-sage in a libertarian direction, by suggesting that the ruler facilitate the people to rule themselves, instead of being dictated to from on high.
Philosophically speaking, anarchism has a strong anti-democratic tradition that far from seeing anarchism as being democracy carried to its logical conclusion, is actually far closer to being instead aristocracy universalised. Monarchy can be reinvented as a concept to serve a distinctively libertarian ethos, if one can see in the monarch a symbol of sovereignty that is reflected in the absolute sovereignty of the free individual.
The word “king” is derived from the word “kin” – so kingship denotes kinship – the king or queen being a symbolic guardian of the people’s freedom and self-determination. Thus handed down generation to generation, the monarch carries the genetic inheritance of the people in a bond of mutual co-inherence. This is beautifully and poetically proclaimed in the tradition of British mythology that refers to King Arthur and the quest for the Holy Grail – in that the concept of kingship that is envisaged in the Arthurian mythos is interpreted as one of service and humility towards the people whom one “rules”.
A similar theme is found in the Christian Gospels where Jesus says to his disciples “whoever shall be considered the greatest, let him first become the least and the servant of all.” (And in this mythological context, Christ is the fulfilment of archetypes such as Arthur, as well as those of the indigenous British and Norse mystery traditions such as Druidism and Odinism in particular.) The scriptures appear to suggest that at the end of time, Christ will abdicate his throne, having maintained a reign so beneficent that all humanity is brought into such a state of spiritual perfection, and the need for restraints and for government vanishes (1 Cor ch. 15 w. 24-28) – an eschatological realisation that transcends kingship and monarchy into an enlightened theocratic anarchy.
The most prominent contemporary proponent of anarcho-monarchism has to be the fantasy novelist, J. R. R. Tolkien, whose book The Lord of the Rings has become the international best-seller of the century. Concerning his political leanings, Tolkien stated “my political opinions lean more and more to anarchy (philosophically understood, meaning abolition of control, not whiskered men with bombs) or to “unconstitutional monarchy”. Furthermore, some years later he said: “I am not a ‘socialist’ in any sense – being averse to ‘planning’ (as must be plain) – most of all because the ‘planners’ when they acquire power become so bad.”
‘Middle Earth’, the imaginal world created by Tolkien, was based on Northern-European mythology; it functioned as what Tolkien himself described as “a half-republic, half-aristocracy” – a sort of municipal decentralised democracy (as opposed to a representative democracy) based within a holistic conception of the integrity of the local place and idiom. The emphasis in Tolkien of the tendency towards some kind of hierarchy, however libertarian, and of self-government only being consistent with kinship and loyalty to a particular place, has made The Lord of the Rings popular and required reading amongst the radical-decentralist right.
The Lord of the Rings has likewise had a profound influence on the contemporary green and environmental movements in that, seen in our present historical context, it provides a coherent and inspirational critique of the modernist unholy trinity of state power, capital and technology. (For an excellent book on this very subject and more, see Defending Middle-Earth – Tolkien: Myth and Modernity by Patrick Curry, Harper Collins, 1998.) Tolkien, with keen prophetic insight, foresaw that at the close of the millennium, the struggle for humanity and nature would be between the diversity of local distinctiveness, place, identity, and culture, against the globalist mono-culture that turns everywhere into the same place – and ultimately everyone into the same person, with the same status as a passive “consumer” (where once they may have been an active citizen or “member of the public”).
It appears that we have fallen under the spell of a manipulative magic and occult technology of power which, posing under the guise of being humanitarian, actually advances the multi-national alienation of the liberal free market. In this context, classical Marxism is the lap-dog of cosmopolitan capitalism in its contempt for organic tradition and nature, idolising the purely economical and materialist in its “progress” towards a technocratic socialist scientism.
The Situationists are of far more relevance to us today, in the twenty-first century, than the doctrinal Marxists. The Marxist concept of social alienation was reworked by the Situationists to suggest that since the consumer boom of the fifties, people were no longer alienated at the point of production, but rather at the point of consumption.
Meanwhile, with regards to classical anarchism, Proudhon is the most relevant figure to us here, as when asked how he would like to be remembered after he died, he said that he would like to be known not only as “the most revolutionary person of his time, but also as the most conservative”!
The King is dead – long live the King!
Albion Awake – reclaim the Ancient Throne!