Monarchy vs Autocracy
Debate Rounds (4)
I will be taking the position of Monarchy being superior to Autocracy, and you must prove to me the opposite.
I accept the debate.
I will be arguing that autocracy is a better (by which I mean more productive to the country) governmental system than absolute monarchy.
Autocracy : a system of government by one person or a small group with absolute power.
Absolute monarchy : a monarchy that is not limited or restrained by laws or a constitution.
The Second most apparent advantage of Monarchy over autocracy is how it's subjects support the regime. Absolute monarchies are in support of old world conservatism ( as compared to the new world conservatism which is more resembling of classical liberalism) People whom may not support the monarch, still may support the regime out of dedication to tradition, or, they may support it due to a former dynasty. Tradition and loyalty to noble families build incredible bonds of support because they are historic, meaning, unchanging. Autocracies however, tend not to have these same traits. Most autocracies ( There are exceptions, I am simply generalizing) are set up based around a new idea, and often in mass support of a single charismatic leader. Examples of this are Lenin and communism, Hitler and national socialism, Mussolini and fascism, and Saddam Hussein and ba'athism. If we look at what happened to these leader nations after they died though... Lenin/ Stalin takes over and kill millions more than what he did... Hitler/ National socialists flee in a diaspora across the world and not even germans support the old way... Mussolini/ half his own nation leaves him and the fascists are not welcomed even in Spain and Argentina... Saddam/ the Ba'athists are spread acrossed the middle east and infighting begins between the Iraqi and Syrian Ba'athist ensued which lead to the parties eventual downfall everywhere. In autocracies, the people tend to only support a leader and his new ideology. When that leader has gone away, so to do their enthusiasm for the regime. Under a monarchy, the people do not need to support the leader, they need only support the tradition, and perhaps his ancestors.
Just as a note, I'm afraid I will not comply with my opponent's request that we limit our examples to the past 115 years of history. This is because the debate does not specify any time period that we would be debating, and also the vast majority of absolute monarchies occurred further back than 115 years ago so it would be short-sighted to not use them as examples for or against absolute monarchy. The truth is that there were so few absolute monarchies in the modern and post-modern eras that it would be foolish to limit ourselves chronologically.
One of the reasons that autocracy is superior to monarchy is that an autocratic leader is generally selected on merit and not birth. The reason why this is an important factor is that a meritocratically selected leader would, logically, be a much more capable person than if the leader was selected with no consideration of merit.
This is the case with monarchy - the King/Queen would be given a position of absolute governing power by birthright even if they were clearly a poor leader. A poor leader is, needless to say, not very productive to a country. Evidence of this would be Queen Mary of England, who was an inadequate leader who brought religious turmoil to England. (1)
In an autocracy, an incapable leader would simply not have achieved the position of leader in the first place. Therefore an autocracy is a superior governmental system because it has a lesser capacity to allow poor leaders to exist.
A common theme in absolute monarchies is the belief that the monarch has a 'divine right to rule' or some concept that allows them to assert a justification for their status that is above social approval. (2) Such ideas place Kings and Queens on unassailable pedestals from which they believe that they are not wholly accountable to the people, as they would maintain that their right to rule is independent of the people's approval.
If a ruler is not accountable then they have far less motivation to moderate their edicts to please the people. This leads to unpopular leaders that have often caused revolutions and civil wars. A prime example being King Charles I, who believed that his 'divine right to rule' entitled him to absolute power irrespective of his support (or lack thereof) from parliament and the people. (3)
In a monarchy, the only way that one can rule is if they are born in the right family at the right time. If you weren't, then there is no possible way in which you can lead the country. This is unnecessarily nepotistic and contrary to the ideal that anyone can, if they work hard enough or are skilled enough, become a national leader.
Autocracy does not have this problem. Whilst it may be extremely difficult to become a leader, it is possible no matter one's birth. An example being Josef Stalin, who became the leader of the USSR despite his humble beginnings as a cobbler's son. (4)
I will now respond to my opponent's arguments.
His first argument asserts that monarchy is superior because it presents a clear transition between rulers when the incumbent dies, in contrast, autocracies often have disputes that cost many lives.
Whilst I agree that this may be the case, in a stable autocracy the transition between leaders is remarkably smooth. For example, Alexander Lukashenko (the President of Belarus) is an autocratic leader (5) who took power with no bloodshed at all.
I will note that autocracy and democracy are not mutually exclusive, and so if an autocratic leader is chosen democratically then peaceful and transparent transitions of power can take place.
Furthermore, monarchies are notorious for inheritance disputes. The Wars of the Roses were a series of wars that were directly caused over disputes as to the rightful owner of the crown. One only has to read/watch Game of Thrones to realise how complex monarchial inheritance can be, and how wars can be started because of it. Agreed, I cannot use fictional evidence but my point stands, that disputes over royal succession were not infrequent and were often bloody.
In my opponent's next argument, he states that monarchy is better than autocracy because the former is an embodiment of old-world conservatism (and therefore more supported by the public) whereas autocracies are often based on new concepts and ideas. According to my opponent, support for an autocracy largely dies along with its figurehead and caused subsequent turmoil.
The problem with this argument is that in most autocracies, the system is still supported even when their figurehead dies. For example, after Stalin died the public still supported the regimes of Khrushchev and later Brezhnev.
This example could be seen to be countered by the examples presented by my opponent. However, these examples are unsatisfactory for the following reasons:
1. The USSR had only been created two years before Lenin's death (6), therefore it is not a sufficient example of normal transitionary behaviour of an autocracy. The USSR was a very young and unstable country at the time of Lenin's death, thus the results that came from his death cannot be realistically be claimed to be representative of a stable autocracy.
2. Germany had just lost World War 2 when Hitler died, it is hardly surprising that National Socialism died out. Again, it is not a valid example because there were too many additional factors to take into account.
3. The same applies to Mussolini, his country was under direct threat of invasion.
4. Saddam was ousted by the West at the beginning of the Iraq war, the turmoil that came afterwards was most likely to do with the fact that Iraq was engulfed in said war and not because of disputes regarding autocratic leadership.
Therefore, all my opponent's examples that support his second argument are not valid ones, as they do not pertain to an established peacetime autocracy.
I thank my opponent and now I will pass the debate over to him!
Secondly, note that my opponent has not yet mentioned how autocracy is superior to monarchy aside from the presumption of meritocracy.
On the note of meritocracy, my opponent claims that "an autocratic leader is generally selected on merit and not birth. The reason why this is an important factor is that a meritocratically selected leader would, logically, be a much more capable person than if the leader was selected with no consideration of merit." This sounds logical, however, if looked upon closely is obviously false! The idea that a leader selected on merit will almost always be good can be experimented with in a modern republic. Tell me, are the leaders of a modern republic almost always good and capable leaders? ( If the answer is anything other than no, I will not continue on in this debate, as I have slit my wrists because of humanities stupidity.) The first and most obvious example of an inept autocrat would be Mussolini! The man made minimal advancements to his government, and completely failed on them during WW2. Secondly, at the many autocratic leaders are not elected, rather gain their positions of power via revolution or coup. This means, that weather they are capable of leadership or not they forced their way to power and that is that. Incapable leaders achieve power all the time ( Mussolini being a good example) Truly, in an autocracy, leadership is determined by whom can either back stab the most, or whom can deliver the best speeches.
Thirdly my opponent claims that Monarchies are unaccountable due to many of them believing that they have the divine right to rule. You say this as if autocrats or any different! Dictators enact edicts that the people will despise all the time believing that they know better than the people ( the vanguard party is the embodiment of this) However, were as the divine right of kings has all but died out in todays monarchs, the vanguard party still thrives among autocrats. Monarchists have grown out of the divine right, dictators are still learning.
Fourthly, my opponent claims that it is only monarchies whom are nepotistic. Try telling this to Saddam Hussein whom appointed his brother-in-law Brig General Adnan Khairallah as Minister of Defense. Sons-in-law General Hussein Kamel, husband to Raghad Hussein, to lead Iraq's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons program. His brother, Colonel Saddam Kamel, husband to Rana Hussein, was placed in charge of the presidential security forces. Eldest son Uday was head of the Iraqi Olympic Committee and younger son Qusay was head of the Internal Security Forces. Half-brother Busho Ibrahim was the Deputy Minister of Justice. Or perhaps you would like to tell this to Stalin, who massacred thousands of his top generals and placed people he 'trusted' or liked in their place. Nepotism is rampant in both forms of government, do not place blame on just one.
Fifthly, in an autocracy, transition can be smooth, so long as it is stable. As we have seen though, often times they are not stable. Russia 1924, Russia 1991, Germany 1918, Thailand Always. In a monarchy, the lines of inheritance is always clear so long as you have a child or brother, even in times of strife.
Sixthly, Stalin's form of rule was vastly different then that of Khrushchev or Brezhnev. To this day, the Russian people despise Stalinism as they call it. To give an example were war was not involved, China after Mao. After Mao's death, China began to drift away from Maoism and more towards state capitalism.
Another advantage of Monarchy, is that nations can be united via marriage. This can not happen under Autocracy. Nation must either be invaded ( almost always the case) or annexed ( almost never). Monarchies can unite nations via marriage and not shed a single drop of blood.
I await my opponents response.
'note that my opponent has not yet mentioned how autocracy is superior to monarchy aside from the presumption of meritocracy.'
Ah! But that assumes that my argument from meritocracy is invalid! I will now explain why it is not.
Note that I do not say that a leader selected on merit will be almost always a more capable leader, what I say is that a meritocratically selected leader is more likely to be a capable leader than if the leader is nepotistically selected (as is the case in a monarchy). Of course there have been poor leaders of autocracies, such as Mussolini, but logically speaking, a governmental system that selects its leader based on merit is more likely to actually have a capable leader than a system that selects its leader based on family.
To use an analogy, let us suppose that I have a boxing class and I want to select someone to compete in a large boxing match. Should I pick the boxer based on merit? Or should I pick my son, who is also in the boxing class?
Prima Facie, it is more likely that I will get a capable boxer if I select him based on merit and not family connection.
This is the case with monarchy vs autocracy. Obviously there have been some incompetent autocratic leaders, but reason dictates that autocracy is superior to monarchy insofar as it increases the probability that the country will have a capable leader.
My opponent makes a valid point that leadership is often determined by back-stabbing and good speeches, however these tactics would only really enable a leader to get into power initially. If the leader is then found to be incompetent then they can be ousted (just as Mussolini was). In contrast, a King demands loyalty irrespective of competency, and so a nation would be stuck with an incompetent monarch that could only be removed by full-scale revolution.
'Dictators enact edicts that the people will despise all the time believing that they know better than the people ( the vanguard party is the embodiment of this).'
Agreed, the vanguard party did have a certain elitist aspect to them, but they were still accountable because their success was dependent on the support of the proletariat.
Ultimately, the autocrats are still normal people that have risen to power, in contrast to the oft-revered nature of kingship that, in a way, presents monarchs as less accountable because their right to rule is not granted to them by the public.
Autocracy is based on the Lockean theory that their rule is conferred legitimacy by the public. Autocrats do not assert any higher authority from which their right to rule originates.
My opponent makes the claim that the "divine right of kings" has died out in modern absolute monarchy, yet the rule of the King of Saudi Arabia (the most powerful contemporary absolute monarch) still manifests a form of divine-legitimacy (1).
I concur that autocracies can often be nepotistic, but the two aren't essentially connected. In other words, nepotism is not intrinsically part of autocracy as a concept - so even if autocrats like Saddam Hussein are nepotistic it does not mean that this is because he is an autocrat. It is perfectly possible to have a non-nepotisitic autocracy whereas it is not possible to have a non-nepotisitic monarchy.
Monarchy is intrinsically nepotistic. And considering that this debate is over monarchy vs autocracy as concepts, this entails that autocracy is superior to monarchy, if we accept that nepotism is a negative attribute.
My opponent goes on to accept that in an autocracy, transition can be smooth so long as it is stable. We are in agreement here, but it does not pertain to the debate to raise examples of unstable autocracies where we have no proof that their autocratic nature is the cause of this instability. Whilst Russia was unstable in 1924, there is no proof that this is because it is an autocracy. It is far more likely that Russia was unstable because it was still recovering from a devastating civil war. Unless a clear connection is presented, such examples are no more than red herrrings.
It is true that there have been very few inheritance-disputes in modern absolute monarchies, but that is largely due to the fact that there are hardly any absolute monarchies in the 20th/21st centures.
My opponent claims that after Mao Zedong's death, China underwent a change in political ideology. However, he does not seem to explain exactly why this is a bad thing. Sure, the death of an autocrat might stimulate political change, but this is not an inherent reason as to why autocracy is inferior.
The last argument in favour of monarchy is that nations can be united by marriage. However, this is not necessary in the 21st century because a far more effective and regulated unification of nations is by alliances and international organisations such as NATO and the UN. Secondly, there are so few absolute monarchies nowadays that there are hardly any countries that can be united via marriage.
I now pass this debate back to my opponent!
Note that, what you ACTUALLY said was " a meritocratically selected leader would, logically, be a much more capable person than if the leader was selected with no consideration of merit." Might I say before we go on, that the word ' meritocratically' isn't a word. Now, even governments that select people based on their prior deeds have shown that, in most cases, that they are still incompetent. As an example, how many of the U.S. presidents or U.K. prime ministers were actually competent for their job, 30%... maybe? A good president or prime minister or even a good autocrat for that matter is about as common as a good king. Do not speak as if though selecting people on prior merit is so much better than to doing out of blood line, because we have seen it is not. Reason may dictate it, but experience does not.
My opponent asserts that quote " If the leader is then found to be incompetent then they can be ousted." Really? Papa doc sure has hell was incompetent for his job but he retained power up until his death after ruling Haiti for 40 years. Francisco Franco ( I think I got his name wrong but he was the fascist dictator of Spain) Kept his country a back water for 30 years and he was never ousted. The Kim's are some of the most incompetent leaders in history and they have been ruling for the past 70 years without being questioned once. No attempt was ever made to oust these leaders. You then say that in order for a king to be ousted, a full blown revolution would be necessary. What do you think brought Mussolini down, was Milan some freak accident?!
My opponent states that the vanguard party was " accountable because their success was dependent on the support of the proletariat". Really? you are accreting that the vanguard party was in anyway accountable to the public?! The public of Germany hated the NDSP in 1943 and onward, but the party did not care nor act upon it. The public of Russia hated the communist party 1924 and onward, but the party did not care nor act upon it. The public of Iraq and Syria hated the Ba'athist party 1969 and onward, but the party did not care nor act upon it. The Italian people hated the Fasces parti 1943 and onward, but the party did not care nor act upon it. Tell, me once again, how the vanguard is accountable to the people. At least in a monarchy, the monarch knows who's head the people are gonna want if things hit the fan.
Monarchies are intrinsically nepotistic, but as I have already asserted, being selected on merit, is not often better.
Let us consider the fact that the communists had thourghly won the war by 1924, and that reconstruction was going if a bit shaking, semi-smooth. We can see CLEARLY, that Lenin had held supreme power and had made few plans as to a successor. When he died, since no one was exactly sure whom should lead, we got everyone's favorite handle bared mustache Russian as leader of the USSR. Lenin's unsteady foundation was clearly the reason why the transition was so bloody. Also, you missed like two other examples. Also, there were quite a few absolute monarchies in the 20/21st centaury; for example Germany, Austria, Bulgaria, Russia, Manchu, Turkey, Persia, Albania, Jordan, the entire Arabian peninsula, Korea, and Ethiopia... to name a few.
On the topic of Mao Zedong. We are not talking about changing from our current ideology, we are speaking about keeping them alive, therefore any transition is to be considered a failure of said government.
'I did not say that it was your argument of merit was invalid, I said that ,so far, it was your only argument.'
No problem, all I need to fulfil the burden of proof is a single sound argument.
'meritocratically' isn't a word'
Yes it is (1), in the same way that 'democratically' is a word.
'how many of the U.S. presidents or U.K. prime ministers were actually competent for their job, 30%... maybe?'
Far more than that. Competent is defined as:
'having the necessary ability, knowledge, or skill to do something successfully' (2)
The vast majority of Presidents and Prime Ministers have fulfilled this criteria, despite many of them being unpopular. Even the most incompetent Presidents and Prime Ministers have not been as incompetent as some Kings. An example being King Otto I of Bavaria, who remained king despite being severely mentally ill (3) and unable to rule. In contrast, a mentally unfit president, autocrat or prime minister would be replaced with a more competent man as soon as it became clear that we was not mentally fit to rule.
'Reason may dictate it, but experience does not.'
This debate is as much about comparing monarchy and autocracy in concept as well as in practice, so if reason backs up my argument then this must be taken into account.
'Papa doc sure has hell was incompetent for his job but he retained power up until his death after ruling Haiti for 40 years. Francisco Franco [...] kept his country a back water for 30 years and he was never ousted. The Kim's are some of the most incompetent leaders in history '
Whilst I do not condone the actions of these leaders, they were actually competent insofar as they were able to rule the country. They might have done terrible things, but if we look at their actual capability in managing the country, then they were not incompetent.
'What do you think brought Mussolini down, was Milan some freak accident?!'
It definitely wasn't a 'full blown revolution'. The actual ousting of Mussolini was bloodless - he offered no resistance to it. (4)
'Really? you are accreting that the vanguard party was in anyway accountable to the public?!'
Perhaps not in actuality, but the concept of a vanguard party is that which represents and is formed of the proletariat, hence requiring their support.
'The public of Germany hated the NDSP in 1943 and onward'
'The Italian people hated the Fasces parti 1943 and onward'
Only because the Axis began to lose the war in 1943; the NSDAP/Fasces party could hardly please the public when they were trying their darndest to win the largest war there has ever been.
'The public of Russia hated the communist party 1924 and onward'
As my opponent has not provided a source for this assertion, it is as of yet unwarranted.
'The public of Iraq and Syria hated the Ba'athist party 1969 and onward'
Again, this is an unwarranted assertion. After a bit of research though, it would seem that the Ba'athist party were not disproportionately hated. During the latter half of the 20th century, Ba'athist Iraq underwent significant economic growth, with 'its citizens enjoying standards of healthcare, housing, education and earnings comparable with those of European countries.' (5)
'Monarchies are intrinsically nepotistic, but as I have already asserted, being selected on merit, is not often better.'
Yes, but 100% of monarchies are nepotistic whereas only about 40% of autocracies are nepotistic, therefore autocracies are superior inasmuch as we accept nepotism to be a negative attribute for a governmental system.
'Lenin's unsteady foundation was clearly the reason why the transition was so bloody.'
Yes, but the only reason that he maintained an unsteady foundation (in relation to his successor) was because he suffered a sudden stroke. No doubt he didn't expect to die at the time he did, which would explain why he did not appoint a successor.
'Also, you missed like two other examples'
The same explanation applies to them as well. Germany had just lost WW1 in 1918, and the USSR was breaking up in 1991. These are hardly fair examples of ordinary autocratic practice.
'On the topic of Mao Zedong. We are not talking about changing from our current ideology, we are speaking about keeping them alive, therefore any transition is to be considered a failure of said government.'
Yet it is not necessarily a bad thing that Maoism failed, especially considering it was a far from perfect ideology. It is better that ideologies are free to adapt on a leader's death, providing a fresh start, than for archaic ideologies to be kept alive by an absolute monarchy.
I thank my opponent for such an interesting debate. I learnt a lot and I'm sure that he did too :)
(2) Google: 'Define Competent'
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