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A conversation about monarchy

A conversation about monarchy
Photo by Markus Spiske / Unsplash
"Now and for the foreseeable future, any election is either plenary or nugatory."

One David Volodzko, whom I know not otherwise but who writes about “communism, fascism and radical movements,” and who was apparently fired by the Seattle Times for improperly comparing Hitler to Lenin—skilfully earning the ire of both fascists and progressives—cold-emailed and requested an exchange of open letters. Here is his.

Volodzko, one of many fine recovering journalists in America, seems to have his head screwed on tight—with limits. He can stand an impressive amount of contemporary small-arms fire. But he is not yet fully armored. When he takes on heavy words like “monarchy” and “slavery,”  he pops his turret, like a Leopard driving over a TM-62. Still, his heart is in the right place, and we wish him well as a fellow traveler on the long and stony road to truth. Are we there yet?

I cannot at this time post my full response to Volodzko. Hopefully at some point it will become available. Thank you, dear readers, for your patience in this cold dry winter of content! Things are happening. There will be more interesting stuff soon. But let me respond to a couple of points.

The CEO, the king and the president

Volodzko has a genuinely substantive question about monarchy. He wonders what I mean by all this stuff. Do I mean what I am saying?

I do. So let me be really explicit, which I’m usually not, about what I mean.

But are you playing word games? One of the reasons I wanted to speak with you was to discover the answer. Are you describing a dictator or a king, or are you describing a CEO, or a president, and simply using words like “monarch” because they’re clickbait?

Why doesn’t unitary executive theory solve the problem for you? Or if you support a king who is elected to four-year terms, as you have said that you do, why do you object to a president? Why not advocate for a more powerful president? After all, you argue that nations should be run like startups and their leaders should be like CEOs. Is a president not more like a CEO than a king?

In theory, yes, I do “advocate for a more powerful President.” But “unitary executive theory” is a confusing way to say this, despite its (correct) literal meaning. As a buzzword, as a brand, it has spent too much time in the mouths of people who do not actually mean it.

Until this “unitary executive” is so much “more powerful” than the present office that the President considers both the judicial and legislative branches purely ceremonial and advisory—with the same level of actual sovereignty as Charles III today—the “unitary executive” will not work.

In any supposedly balanced regime which is somehow made out of the government we have now, the executive will not be unitary. It will just pretend to be. We already have a pretend executive, so why care?

So that no one, including David Volodzko, is confused, let me explain clearly and exactly what a realistic monarchical transformation in the US means and looks like. You can be confident that anyone in DC you hear talking about a “unitary executive” is not talking about this—regardless of the literal meaning of the words.

Our administrative regime

For the Congress and the Court, what comes around goes around. After a century in which Article I and Article III reduced Article II to ceremonial status, it is now their turn in the barrel. The wisdom of the Founders in allowing the anakyklotic cycle to operate, by failing to specify the precedence of the branches, is once again confirmed.

Ambiguity in a sovereign contract—no contract at all, since no superior power enforces it—is an intentional loophole through which contingent history can squeeze. Any of the branches—I, II, or III—can ascend to sovereignty over the others, without violating the letter or even the spirit of the Constitution. As FDR said in his First Inaugural address, this document has lasted so long because it is so flexible.

Our administrative judicial-legislative regime, whose current supremacy is absolute, can only be replaced by a new regime of absolute executive supremacy. There is no way to split the difference, and return to “balanced” or “limited” government. Even in theory, contending equal powers are unstable; such a regime has rarely if ever existed.

The real end of executive authority is the replacement of arbitrary command by legislated process: administration by administrative law. An executive “under law” is not an executive at all. We are living in the Babylonian captivity of Article II, which can only be ended by a radical and unconditional act of executive restoration—an American reassertion of the ancient English rule that “the king is above the law.”

Again, the Constitution does not specify the precedence of the branches. Over the last century, the Article II branch has been marginalized—while individual Presidents, mainly FDR but also Wilson and LBJ, have exerted true executive authority, these reins of power have been increasingly informal, irregular and exceptional.

Look at the past—the control of the White House over the so-called “executive branch” has only dwindled over the century. How different is DC, in practice, today, from the structure Wilson himself described in Congressional Government? We don’t have an executive branch. We have an administrative branch—the creature of the Article I and Article III branches. The root of this branch is the exceptional (in the sense of Carl Schmitt) decision of Madison v. Marbury (1803)—in which Article III  seized sovereignty by a successful act of arbitrary power. History squeezes in.

Again, the Founders designed their system to be arbitrary at the highest level—a concession to the wise, subtle and permanent principle that Might makes Right. For in what other way was Right ever made? Might has to make it, or no one will. Duh.

However the present came to be, it is what it is. Now and for the foreseeable future, either this administrative regime is absolutely subjected to the arbitrary discretion of the President—or there is no real President. Which means there is no real election.

Because nothing can change what the real Washington has long since become, the only power remaining to the American people is to either dissolve or endorse it. Any future Presidential election under this system, therefore, is either plenary or nugatory.

Perhaps at some future date, we could again experiment with a mixed government, of checks and balances, or something, again. Today, in the real world we live in, there are only two real political choices before us: eternal bureaucracy, or elective monarchy.

Again, as anyone inside the Beltway who is smarter than a golden retriever knows: there is no “executive branch.” There is an administrative branch. Legally, under our system of entirely factitious and increasingly comical “constitutional law,” which in turn hath begat administrative law, the Article II voters might well elect Charles III.  Our administrative branch is entirely the creature of Articles I and III—the judicial and legislative branches. It is no surprise that this weird hybrid mutant has failed.

The administrative branch is run according to process—a process dictated not by the President, but by the Congress and the courts. This process was set down long ago in what some have called America’s real constitution—I refer not to the Civil Rights Act of 1965, but the Administrative Procedure Act of 1946.

The APA completes the transition from the quasi-executive FDR wartime regime to the postwar oligarchic bureaucracy. The monarchy-to-oligarchy transition is not unusual when a monarch dies without a strong successor. Is it reversible? Yes—nothing in political science is forever. No empire is forever, etc.

What it is not, however, is incrementally reversible. No one who knows Washington could even conceive of subjugating it to the personal authority of a single executive—and the wisest policy for any such executive would be to dissolve and replace it.

Since Joe Biden was a little boy, the budget, policy, organization and personnel of the “executive” branch, and even of the White House itself, have been micromanaged by the other two branches. It is impossible to imagine the resulting administrative branch in any way returning to real executive control. Don’t bother. Just build a new government.

Process has simply eaten all significant executive discretion of the President, leaving only a few hackneyed, predictable, totally reactive “issues” and “decisions” to occupy the day and the TV cameras. Indeed, for someone who has so little actual impact on the world around him, the President is remarkably busy. He himself does not generally notice that he has no power—especially if he is a Democrat, and flows with the power. (Although impact of elections in either direction is marginal, an effective Democratic Presidency is still a political brake on all the craziest stuff the agencies want to do.)

It is true that, outside his numerous ceremonial duties, the President makes decisions. Making decisions—deciding exceptional cases which lower levels of the hierarchy cannot (or do not wish to) process by their rules—is the role of managers in a process-based bureaucracy.

But making decisions is not an executive function. It is a reactive function. The maker of mere decisions does not decide the exception—he decides what to do with an exception, not when to make an exception.

And he certainly does not decide what the rule is. Deciding what the rule is must be left to some inexorable historical or collective process meant to be mechanical and above mere human judgment—even if it just means accepting past patterns and events as sovereign precedents. The process is either inexorable and sensible, or inexorable and deranged, or in fact steered by mere human beings under the covers—for reasons that are either sensible, or deranged.

Grasping the sovereign wand

To escape the sickening, ever-growing coils of DC’s Gordian knot, American voters have only one realistic option. They need to elect a President who clearly states his intention and preparedness to take over the entire American government, assuming plenary power—not just in response to any specific event or emergency, but immediately upon his inauguration (when his democratic authority is at its strongest).

This isn’t even unprecedented in American history, not even in the lives of those now living. Read FDR’s First Inaugural, specifically the part where he demands the powers of a general resisting an enemy invasion. In 1933! These were the powers FDR needed to create what, during his informal dictatorship-for-life, was more or less his personal executive monarchy, then after his death became the formalized administrative state.

To dismantle this vast and ancient growth, the vacant throne of FDR is not even enough. Today, the powers of the general resisting an enemy invasion are insufficient.

No—the new President will need the powers of the enemy general. Why fuck around? Haven’t we done enough fucking around? Do we like it—fucking around? Is it fun?

Americans now see the Gordian knot. Either we cut it, or we pluck ineffectually at a thread or two. Boomers! RFK Jr voters! Awake! Join us! Can’t you see that the whole government hates you and has for your whole life? Put down the bong and tie back your gray ponytail—we’re going to DC. This time, we’re going to create change.

We’re tired, we Americans declare, of gooning it every four Novembers to the likes of George Bush, Barry Obama or John McCain. We’re even done with endless edging for America’s funniest professional frontman. Having fully abandoned the sin of Onan, we shall not cast our political seed upon the ground, we mean our votes to count,  we have no confidence at all in our present institutions—and we, the people, who art sovereign, appeal to high heaven, and do solemnly declare this a bareback election. The birthday girl is due for a historic surprise.

In the bareback election, if our candidate wins, we expect him to take full power. We trust in God to guide him. If the other candidate wins, we implore him to do the same. Maybe God will guide him too—if not, surely the Lord has some other plan. But we think He wants us to have one too.

(In case you’re too afraid of the wrath of God, 2024 will not be a bareback election. No: it will be an ordinary American show election. So you have more than four years.)

The bareback President makes exactly one promise: he will hold himself accountable to the people who elected him, by holding a free and fair national election in four years. In all other matters, he will exercise unconditional executive authority over the whole American government. This, for him, will be the Constitution—for the next four years.

By voting bareback, the American electorate collectively decides that its country is in a state of emergency. They declare that this administrative regime has failed and lost their confidence, along with the sovereignty they had delegated to it. They reassume their full sovereignty and delegate it unconditionally to a rebooted Article II branch.

The bareback President

The first job of our new, constitutional executive branch is to entirely liquidate the old, unconstitutional administrative branch—not to reform the state, nor to eliminate the state, but to replace the state—while it is running, without any turmoil or disorder. While not easy, this is easier than most people think.

A bareback election elects a bareback President. He is not just “more powerful.” He is orders of magnitude more powerful—at least, in his authority over the executive branch. As Stalin observed, “quantity has a quality all its own.”

To obtain the people’s consent to true plenary authority, then use it to drive any plan that could have been executed at much lower power levels, is mere incompetence and will certainly fail. That would be yet another case of “fishing in the Rubicon.”

Granted real executive power, why on earth would a new President keep the existing “executive” branch? These organizations are not habitually used to being directed by him, but rather by policies, processes, budgets, personnel, even principles mandated by the Congress. The new management of FTX might as well keep the old traders.

The new President will not just theoretically claim the powers of a conquering enemy general. For these powers to make sense, he needs to govern like a conquering enemy general—using direct command of the police to maintain public stability as he spins up a totally new executive branch, run like a startup with startup-quality people.

The new President will not, of course, just change the policies of the new regime. He would not even just replace the personnel (security forces excluded) of the old regime. Radical as they might might seem—these measures are wholly inadequate.

It is not even enough to dissolve the organizational structures of the old regime, or even demolish its physical buildings. Any new regime worthy of the name will need to be ready to rewrite even its philosophical principles.

The new President will not just take over the federal government—but also state, local and tribal government. Moreover, inasmuch as he finds any organization, public or private, to have become a de facto state agency, he will nationalize and restructure it. Also, he is likely to discover many new problems that the government isn’t solving, but should be. And this new infrastructure will run at or near startup efficiency—it must be run like Apple, not like the Department of Transportation.

If this is what a “unitary executive” means, I am all for a unitary executive. But when I hear people saying “unitary executive,” and I listen to the other things they are saying, it sounds like they mean something different. That’s why all I want for my birthday is a bareback President.

The transition program

A new President who is not immediately ready for unlimited regime change will fail. His potential powers will evaporate rapidly after his inauguration, as he falls into the bad old groove of a ceremonial Presidency.

The transition must begin as soon as he steps off the inaugural stage. The preparation for the transition must have begun months at least, and years ideally, before that day. There are all sorts of organizational tools that can be prepared in advance to make our great nation’s first bareback inauguration since 1933 go as smoothly as possible.

Signaling the sovereignty of the new regime is especially important. There is a reason that the classical 20th-century coup heads straight for the TV tower. A regime change must first become visible—it must feel like an earthquake, in which power structures which previously seemed as immovable as mountains shake or crumble into dust. The new regime is far more real than the old—and it must immediately make this known.

Yet the entire transition must remain orderly. Is there a huge difference between life in the public and private sectors? One big company is going out of business—another is being founded. No one is being dragged away and shot. It is not the 20th century.

At most a week of Covid-style lockdown should be enough to secure the new regime—not only are the Americans of today, especially the blue-state ones, no Minutemen, but unlike most historical urban populations they do not even know how to be a mob. Today, civilian numbers are as irrelevant to contests of force as in the 13th century. 21st-century Americans are a civilized people. We do not chimp.

Let’s go through some critical steps in a real 21st-century regime change. Here is what a real “unitary executive” would do if he was a real “dictator on the first day.” Libs: if you are used to squeaking fearfully about far-right conservatives, this very reasonable and if anything mild program will make your prostate gland quiver.

And yet, nobody needs to get shot—or even thrown out on the street. While there are many things to say against a government running on a soft currency, the power to print money sure makes it easy to run a regime change. All the civil soldiers of the old regime—and there are a lot of them—can be severed very gently from their positions. Arbitrary level of structural change can be achieved without severing any heads—even metaphorically. The new President is as ruthless as Stalin yet as nice as Jimmy Carter.

The faster the transition process proceeds, the better. Intermediate states of power are dangerous and ineffective. The old regime must be dissolved as fast as possible, which means that the President must establish unilateral control over the whole state as fast as possible—ideally creating entirely new mechanisms for command, control, and signaling across the entire fabric of state order. Let’s take a very cursory look.


The essential desideratum of any regime change is unilateral central control of the security forces—mainly the police.

In America, the military is normally unarmed and not particularly equipped to resist the police, making the latter the primary focus of power. Also, their command connection to the President is much simpler than that of the police. Unless, as an immediate consequence of the election, the President is not in direct command of every law enforcement officer in the United States, he is not on a success path.

Personal and professional loyalties must always be distinguished. Yes, the security forces, personally, are likely to overwhelmingly support the President, especially in the rank and file. Yet they are sworn forces—and their personal support for the President does not translate easily, if at all, to their professional actions. Both these forces should be used as strongly as possible, creating a new emergency command structure in which loyalty is both personal and institutional.

Security forces in a regime change generally cannot be replaced, though units can be disbanded and individuals purged. They can be reorganized in two ways: reusing the old chain of command, or creating a new chain of command. As usual, all possible energy must be applied in parallel. Sovereign actors, or actors seeking sovereignty, should always have unlimited confidence and act as strongly as possible.

The way to test a command is to make it a signal. Ideally, within a week, every law enforcement officer in America is wearing a red armband to show that he follows the new President’s direct, unconditional command. Forces, units, or individuals who resist this order need to be stripped of their badges immediately.

This signal can be ordered either by executive command under emergency authority, or by disorganized personal loyalty, or even by a parallel organization within law enforcement—a wildcat police union. If millions of armbands are hard to rustle up, a subtle signal, like a piece of tape, will do. Anyone can get tape stuck on their uniform.

All these supporters can be organized into a parallel command structure that follows the official hierarchy—unless nodes in that hierarchy do not show the signal. Then the new structure’s first priority is to route around those nodes. Ubiquitous phones and messaging apps make it very easy to construct effective ad-hoc hierarchies.

The most drastic form of action, if all top-down operations fail—which is possible in some parts of the nation with strong local resistance to the new regime—is the police strike. This also requires the President to pre-organize his supporters in police departments, either passively through propaganda, actively through a classic “cell” structure, or virtually through some kind of anonymous app.

When the police all agree to do nothing—never implausibly deniable in an era when they do almost nothing—jurisdictions which resist the President’s order will realize that they themselves cannot maintain their own order. These cities generally contain or are near centers of criminal culture. Criminals learn quickly that they can pillage with impunity. Eventually, everywhere becomes “CHAZ.” After a sufficient dose of this “purge,” civilians in these jurisdictions, regardless of their ideology, are quite disinclined to oppose any force capable of restoring order. They would welcome ISIS.

No authority should ever be dissolved without a parallel replacement process. After an initial process in which its only purpose is the restoration of order, the new security state needs to return to the restoration of law. Some power besides its own command structure will have to make decisions about what is right or wrong for the cops to do.

But again, it is best to replace old habits of power. One way to make sure the new legal system is free from the corruptions of the old is to start with a European legal code based on the Roman (“civil”) law. This way, not even former lawyers will have an advantage in the contest for legal authority. There will be a lot of capable people looking for new careers—they should all have a chance to train and test into the law.


The mainstream press can and must be abolished within a week. The fabled “MSM” is just a set of media companies whose quasigovernmental status is blessed by history. History has withdrawn her blessing—and nothing is more fragile than a company. Its doors can be locked; its servers can be seized.

Any great nerve center of power, like the old Stasi office, becomes in the next regime a subject for mere investigation. One critical task of any new regime is a complete, and devastating, understanding of the old regime—just as every new Chinese dynasty wrote the authoritative history of the last dynasty. Imagine writing the story of the 20th century through the internal records of the New York Times! It will be done.

Nothing is more fragile than a company—yet nothing is more resilient than a market. Eradicating the production infrastructure of some product is ultimately useless until the demand is eradicated as well. Unless the desire for a product is eradicated along with its factories, the product will return. Capitalism will find a way.

And the infrastructure in journalism and education is not organizational structure or even brand loyalty, but human capital. Like it or not, these businesses employ many talented and energetic Americans. The President does not feel like executing them. Maybe they should be happy about this, but they won’t be.

Even after the irreversible corporate liquidation of all their bases, nests and hives, the journalists remain as a capable, if temporarily disorganized, army in the field. After their initial defeat by sovereign force, they must be finished off by market forces—eliminating the demand for anything which smells like 20th-century journalism. Otherwise these termites, with the plagues they carry, will burrow right back in.

Under the old regime, people read the New York Times for three reasons: it made them feel like good people who matter; it had the latest, most reliable information about the world; and it had the best writers. If the President wants the New York Times, by any name, under any ownership, to not exist, to have no reason to exist, all these market forces have to be nullified and defeated.

This means only that the state media agency of the new regime can compete with the scattered remnants of old-regime journalism—not that it has to win. But just by being better, it can win—which is not at present the case for an NYT competitor. (Yet this outlet should ideally come into existence long before a new regime is born.)

Under the new regime, there are no leaks. Rather, media and intelligence are unified—the government makes sure it always knows the truth, and says as much of it as it can. Under the new regime, reading the old party line does not make anyone feel good and powerful—since the old regime is irreversibly dead, the party line is no longer aligned even with potential power. And the new regime can hire even better talent—writers who lack the weird old stench of 20th-century ideology. Power, out of power, smells.

Consider the fate of Wikipedia under the new regime. Wikipedia is by far the most important source of neutral information on the planet—and also deeply infected with the “woke mind virus,” as some call it.

Does the new regime (a) seize, (b) fork Wikipedia and produce something better, or (c) both? Obviously, whenever you have to ask…

An effective, well-funded Department of Information should be able to edit a much better public encyclopedia than a bunch of Reddit amateurs in their pajamas. But the Reddit amateurs have all the inertia in the world behind them. But no one, not even Wikipedia, is exempt from the sovereign exception.

If the inertia of the mere domain name is captured, and then the new management is superior in every way, the old staff will be defeated. So long as New Regime Wikipedia is actually a better encyclopedia than the refugee editors of Old Reddit Wikipedia can create, any rebel fork will suffer the fate of all forks. “The bums will always lose.”

Do you believe in the “unitary executive”? Does your “unitary executive” have a plan to fork Wikipedia? No? Then he isn’t thinking big enough. He shouldn’t even get a chance to try. He will just lose, and make the problem harder.

Americans are too attracted by the idea of spontaneous order replacing sovereignty. Spontaneous order—like the benign Darwinian competition of capitalist economics—is a tremendously useful tool of sovereignty. But it is only a tool. To cede sovereignty to a spontaneous order is an incorrect, damaging and ineffective use of the tool. To cede sovereignty to Wikipedia is simply to corrupt Wikipedia with power.

Across our entire society, spontaneous orders have been granted power and thus have been corrupted by power. To uncorrupt them is not to grant them more power—but for power to bring them into order, thus taking the ambition that corrupts them away. Anarchy is always the enemy of liberty. Declaring the official truth is an essential attribute of sovereignty which cannot be removed—and this leads directly to the conclusion that every sovereign country should maintain its own Wikipedia fork, in which it should decide on its own official truth. The truer, obviously, the better.

Of course, journalism is just one category of education. While education (and even religion) are long-term responsibilities of government, they are not immediate needs in the same way as, say, nutrition. The exception is their function as daycare—for which we can do what we did during Covid. If you are a caregiver who needs to stay home because schools are closed, you should get your current salary to homeschool—at least until the new schools are spun up.

Apart from a few effective research laboratories in highly applied fields—chemistry, medicine and biology, mathematics, materials science, and the like—none of the  educational establishment, from kindergarten to grad school, needs to be preserved. Even the brand names of the institutions can be cancelled. Some of the buildings are nice, but not really nice enough to be worth the risk of keeping. All the records must be preserved and processed in a central database—it still matters that you got a degree from Harvard in 2017, even long after there is no Harvard. And as for the minor-league sports teams—they can just be minor-league sports teams. Just because the university system is ground to fine dust doesn’t mean there’s no March Madness.

Of course, education is good and necessary. Replacing America’s education, selection, research and credentialing infrastructure is essential. But it is essential on the scale of months, not weeks—and, as in almost all of government, creating a new system will be much easier than repairing the old system. A reboot, not a reform. (Actual system software experts, such as myself, have a term for changing running code without a reboot. We call it a “monkeypatch.” This may be disrespectful to our primate friends.)


As soon as possible, the President takes unilateral control of the Federal Reserve. Like the rest of the administrative state, the Fed is clearly subject to the executive branch. Total power over the Fed, which should be one of the first nodes the new President captures by sudden and determined force, is no more than constitutional government.

According to the Constitution, of course, only the Congress can spend money. True. The Fed, however, can create money. And regime change isn’t cheap! The Fed also supervises the banks, which control everyone’s money. Organizations and persons hostile to the new President will find it hard to operate with their accounts frozen.

The American financial system has become a vast mandatory casino which defies the rules of both common sense and good accounting. Reorganizing this casino into something sane is more complex than can be covered here. It involves fixing the supply of money and ensuring that banks match every borrower with a lender.

But broadly speaking, it is easy to collapse the whole rickety structure that 20th-century electronic finance made out of 19th-century paper finance into something simple: everyone’s financial portfolio is automatically sold across the board to the Fed. Also, it is a good time for everyone to stop using paper money. If you have paper money, bring it to a bank this week. Next week, it is just paper.

Whatever you had, you have dollars in the Fed. And the Fed owns all financial assets. Your house is sold to the Fed at the Zillow price. Your mortgage is now rent. Your equity is now dollars. You can decline this transaction—you shouldn’t, because all assets will be repriced and can be bought back at a lower price.

No, this is not the right way to run the whole economy permanently. Capitalism is good. But while this is not the right way to run the economy, it is the right way to reboot the economy. Flattening the financial system this way makes it much easier to control crime, of course—and also, any kind of antigovernment activity.

And in the end, the new financial system should have two features—first, it should not have any business cycles or even long-term price trends—second, no one who does not have “alpha” about some market should need or want to gamble in it. The only proper consumer finance product is the CD—a long-term loan to the bank. The stock market should be a zero-sum game in which good predictors profit from bad predictors, not a quasi-mandatory public casino.

One essential sovereign tool in any regime change is financial proscription—the confiscation of large pools of private wealth that would otherwise oppose the new regime. Some of this wealth is institutional; some is individual. At a certain level, money is power. No concentration of surviving old-regime power can be ignored.

In a regime change, it goes without saying that “philanthropic” foundations, unless narrowly focused on some specific and deeply apolitical problem, are treated as arms of the state. As such their assets are forfeited to the USG, and they must accept the direction of the President, who directs them to shut down their offices, give him all their data and records, and put all their staff on federal severance. And if they try to ignore these orders, their credit cards stop working and their lights are turned off.

If only this was enough to solve the problem! Alas, the sovereign exception has to go even farther. Fact: most billionaires are progressives. Is this a good thing? Of course it’s not a good thing. A billion is a big number, but it’s just a number in the computer. The President, being sovereign, has root access to that computer.

At a certain level, money is power. Hey, billionaire, how did you earn your money? We know one thing—it was under the old regime. Maybe it was honestly. Maybe it wasn’t. Let’s assume it was. So you deserve to be rich. How rich do you deserve to be? 50 mil? If screening the HNWIs for their ideology is too tough, just impose an eight-figure cap on everyone. Because at a certain level, money is power. Be thankful you’re not in Rome—in Rome, proscription meant you would have been killed with your family.


Rightists tend to obsess about the lack of startup-quality right-wing staff. TLDR: this is true, but does not matter in a new executive branch.

In an oligarchy, personnel is policy. In a monarchy, personnel execute policy. The CEO actually is in charge of the organization. I know this is hard to imagine for people who have not worked in the private sector.

It does not matter what the king’s man says to himself in the shower—it matters what he says in the meeting. And if it isn’t an effective way to execute the king’s policy, why would he say it in the meeting?

In a bureaucracy, policy is personnel—the ideology of the organization is the ideology of its staff. But in a true executive monarchy, policy is not personnel—the CEO actually runs the organization. I know this is hard to imagine for people who have not worked in the private sector.

Generally, “the libs” are not truly true believers—just power addicts. In Nazi Germany they would be the biggest Nazis—lining up apple swastikas on the teacher’s desk. To ask whether you have power yet, is to ask whether the power addicts support you yet. After the fall of the Reich they became the biggest democrats, or communists, around. If Hitler comes back to life, they will be once again in the front row heiling.

Power addicts should not be in charge of anything. They should not be sovereign. But when they are in a functional command structure—one in which maximizing their own personal power, and being an effective subordinate, are the same problem—nothing at all is wrong with using them.

The lesson of the ideological reconstructions of Germany and Japan is that public opinion responds to power, even without being repressed. Since, in general, the only reason there is a public opinion—the only reason people care about government policy—is the voyeuristic, pornographic, addictive feeling of domination that they feel from “supporting” some cause—they will not support any obviously impossible cause.

A cause that visibly has no chance of succeeding has no way to make anyone high or hard. In any rapid, firm, coordinated and effective regime change, resistance will seem hopeless while the old regime is still being taken apart. Once it is fully dismantled, the prospect of somehow reassembling it will be still more daunting.

Finally, once the new regime has universally demonstrated the incompetence of the old regime, both through historical re-education and by its own vastly superior performance, any remaining interest in reversing the transition will belong to antiquarian cranks. There are still people today who want to restore the Holy Roman Empire, or Covid masks, or something. Whatevs.

The new regime is not even right-wing, because “right-wing” does not mean anything but opposition to “left-wing.” In the absence of “left-wing,” it is not that everything is “right-wing.” Nothing is “right-wing”—because no opposing force is necessary.

Whether “rightists” understand this or not (generally, not), the only rational telos of “rightism” is the restoration of a stable, responsible and accountable monarchy in which the destabilizing energies that create “leftism” do not even exist. In this context, “rightism” and “leftism” both will only remain as academic and historical tropes—like Catharism or Lollardy.

The unitary executive and the bareback president

Is this what, say, John Yoo wants? I think not—which is why I coined my own ribald term. (It is ribald because laughter disrupts the sacred.)

It is curious to contemplate the mindset of the voter who would support one but not the other. Why? Imagine the Trump voter who wants to give Trump power—but not, definitely not, too much power—definitely not the power to do this. He wants to be with Trump. He loves Trump. But—not that way—not without protection…. please…

Who is this abject boomer? How is he still alive? And still believing in some kind of Norman Rockwell America? Get this man some stem cells and just harvest his vote. The rest of us like to fuck—we’re tired of fucking a balloon. If it’s not a bareback election, it’s a sterile election. When else are we going to reverse our constitutional vasectomy? Will some foreigner have to finally do the deed? Will America have kids with the bull—will we let ourselves decline this way until some Putin or Xi is ready to step in?

The Right is not the only option. We can imagine a bareback President coming from the Left. If you are a Republican, you have unboomered yourself indeed if your can see the reality that this regime would not even be that different. The rule that structure drives ideology is true even at the executive level. True fact: President Bukele himself (peace be upon him) came from the post-Communist Salvadoran left, the FMLN.

Once the bareback President is secure, he is always President of the whole country—and the cold civil war ends, just as Caesar and Augustus ended the Conflict of the Orders in Rome. The mere structure of the old Republic was creating the conflict. Caesar was a populist—but populism died with Caesar.

On myths and revolutions

The essential problem with the David Volodzko worldview, as with many recovering progressives—Volodzko seems to be some kind of neo-”IDW” type, always ready to believe that real liberalism has never been tried—no, baby, it’s real fascism that has never been tried—is that his reconsideration of his narrative is historically skin-deep.

Volodzko is perfectly ready to admit—he knows perfectly well from his real personal life experience—that his entire present world is deeply marinated in deeply false and meretricious political narratives. He knows, as Orwell did, what a struggle it can be even for the smartest and best informed of us to see the noses in front of our faces.

In the present, Volodzko has shed his creepy, pornographic political romanticism, and perhaps learned to see the world as it is. This is the real achievement of a truly mature intellectual. But in the past, he and his ilk remain in the grip of simplistic myths that should not confuse a child. These myths are constantly getting away

For example, he is a big fan of the American Revolution:

I find the calamity and death that comes with many revolutions, was well as their attendant ideological justifications, nothing less than evil. But other revolutions I support.

There was no widespread or systematic execution of the British in the wake of the American Revolution. Do you not also see that revolutions vary in type and moral value, or do you think any upheaval of the status quo is more harmful than the alternative?

“No widespread or systematic execution” is a hell of a standard. Covid doesn’t put everyone on a ventilator, either. So everyone should get Covid?

I assert that Volodzko, like 99.99% of Americans and in fact basically everyone in the world today, knows nothing about the American Revolution. Nothing! He is attached to a mere legend. He might as well get his political examples from the Book of Mormon, and start talking about what the Nephites did to the Lamanites, or something.

For example: did you ever notice that there is over a decade between the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution? You probably know that the United States did indeed exist between 1776 and 1789. You probably even know the name of the first constitution of the United States (by that name)—the Articles of Confederation.

This period was more than just a decade—it was an entire American regime. And it was the regime actually created by the Revolution. And it has been totally airbrushed out of history. How can you “support” the Revolution but know nothing at all about the regime it resulted in? What is wrong with you? Head injury?

Here is an exercise. Name anyone, outside the military, who was associated with the Articles of Confederation government (the Congress of the Confederation). Now, say something about him. If you got one of these right, you are a trivia nerd. If you got both right, you are a historian. In the public narrative, this period is just gone. It really is like you had a head injury.

The truth, to make a really long story really short, is that while the ideologies of the 1770s did not result in any “widespread or systematic execution” (imagine the FDA approving revolution therapy, because it does not always entirely kill the patient), they resulted in a regime that did not work, and that had to be replaced, in America’s first radical right-wing coup, by Hamilton’s quasi-monarchical Constitution, whose basic thrust was to install the commanding general of the revolution as a temporary king.

Do you know who did know something about the American Revolution? Try—John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Do you know what they said about it, in their famous exchange of letters late in life? Jefferson wrote:

On the subject of the history of the American Revolution, you ask who shall write it? Who can write it? And who will ever be able to write it? Nobody.

Adams responded:

Indeed, I have been so little satisfied with histories of the American Revolution that I have long since ceased to read them. The truth is lost in adulatory panegyrics and  vituperative insolence.

Strangely, Adams and Jefferson—lifelong political adversaries—both have the same problem as Volodzko with the narrative of their own times. Everything is propaganda. They have their choice between propaganda lines—but truth is nowhere on the menu.

Then, though, they both agree that a history by an Italian writer, Carlo Botta, is pretty good. Try reading it. You may find you’ve stumbled on an unknown world.

Botta uses the style of Thucydides: he invents speeches representing the positions of both sides, the actual speeches being lost. He is not as good as Thucydides, maybe. But Thucydides is pretty damn good.

Botta is a moderate Napoleonic liberal. Adams and Jefferson are both liberals too. None of them is actually a Tory. If you want a Tory view of the American Revolution, neighbor do I have two books for you: Sydney Fisher’s True History of the American Revolution (1903), and Peter Oliver’s Origin and Progress of the American Rebellion (1781). While their perspective does differ, you will find that they still resonate with Botta.

Reading both sides of the war in this way, you will realize that your previous opinion on the American Revolution is an opinion about a legend that never happened. What did happen is interesting too (I usually summarize it as “the Vietnam War in the 18th century”). It has nothing to do with the lessons we are taught to draw from the legend.

In so plainly a worldly, wise and mature man, where does this attraction to children’s stories and historical myths come from? Embarrassingly, Volodzko tries to pin it on Carlyle himself:

For me, one of the best criticisms of Carlyle comes from a phrase he coined himself, namely “the everlasting no,” which was his name for disbelief in God, to oversimplify the matter. But it is more than this.

The everlasting no is a rejection of the sublime in life. A rejection of the sacred in humanity. It is what would allow someone to think we should perhaps retry slavery or dictatorship, or even worse, it is taking pleasure in mocking and jeering at things of the highest value, such as freedom from chains, as if they are only valued by insipid fools who know no better.

No, Volodzko, you insufferable midwit—by the “everlasting no,” Carlyle meant the common refusal to accept the climate of universal mendacity, and its resultant eternal bureaucratic stasis—a “no” which prevented his complacent Victorian England from embracing the proactive radical political change he knew was necessary. Or which I think I know is necessary. And his alternative is—nothing. The status quo.

And his alternative is not even nothing, but what Carlyle called shams—lies, like the historically ridiculous idea that the American Revolution had something to do with “freedom from chains.” One practically expects him to break out into a Dr. King speech—or even say something about George Floyd. The virus is still at work.

No, here is a better Carlyle quote on shams—from his great essay on the Revolutions of 1848:

What can be more miserable than this universal hunting out of the high dignitaries, solemn functionaries, and potent, grave and reverend signiors of the world; this stormful rising-up of the inarticulate dumb masses everywhere, against those who pretended to be speaking for them and guiding them? These guides, then, were mere blind men only pretending to see? These rulers were not ruling at all; they had merely got on the attributes and clothes of rulers, and were surreptitiously drawing the wages, while the work remained undone? The Kings were Sham-Kings, play-acting as at Drury Lane;--and what were the people withal that took them for real?

It is probably the hugest disclosure of falsity in human things that was ever at one time made. These reverend Dignitaries that sat amid their far-shining symbols and long-sounding long-admitted professions, were mere Impostors, then? Not a true thing they were doing, but a false thing. The story they told men was a cunningly devised fable; the gospels they preached to them were not an account of man's real position in this world, but an incoherent fabrication, of dead ghosts and unborn shadows, of traditions, cants, indolences, cowardices,--a falsity of falsities, which at last ceases to stick together.

Who that had, for this divine Universe, an eye which was human at all, could wish that Shams of any kind, especially that Sham-Kings should continue? No: at all costs, it is to be prayed by all men that Shams may cease. Good Heavens, to what depths have we got, when this to many a man seems strange!

Yet strange to many a man it does seem; and to many a solid Englishman, wholesomely digesting his pudding among what are called the cultivated classes, it seems strange exceedingly; a mad ignorant notion, quite heterodox, and big with mere ruin. He has been used to decent forms long since fallen empty of meaning, to plausible modes, solemnities grown ceremonial,--what you in your iconoclast humor call shams, all his life long; never heard that there was any harm in them, that there was any getting on without them. Did not cotton spin itself, beef grow, and groceries and spiceries come in from the East and the West, quite comfortably by the side of shams? Kings reigned, what they were pleased to call reigning; lawyers pleaded, bishops preached, and honorable members perorated; and to crown the whole, as if it were all real and no sham there, did not scrip continue salable, and the banker pay in bullion, or paper with a metallic basis? “The greatest sham, I have always thought, is he that would destroy shams.”

The greatest sham, Volodzko and his ilk think, is he that would destroy shams. Does not cotton spin itself, and beef grow? Who cares if our cherished founding stories are just myths, and the political lessons we take from them no more than fantasies? Does not cotton spin itself, and beef grow? Do not voters vote—what they are pleased to call voting? (As for the “metallic basis”—well…)

In Carlyle’s time, it was the old monarchs of Europe, still clinging on in 1848, who were the sham—the reality was the rising, boiling force of street democracy. In our time, the worm has turned—it is democracy that is the sham, covering for oligarchy.

Anyone who cannot denounce this lie, and fully accept the consequences of the truth that lies behind it—that Americans can only escape from their increasingly awful regime by using democracy to elect a monarch who can destroy the oligarchy—becomes complicit in the lie. However astute his other analysis may be.Subscribe

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