What’s the problem with hereditary monarchy? How does a monarchical form of government compare to a republic?
According to Thomas Paine, monarchical governments are inherently evil, and hereditary monarchies are particularly unjust. Compared to a republican form of government, the monarchical rule is inferior because it is based on the idea of the inherent superiority of some men over others.
In this article, we’ll analyze monarchies as a system of government.
The Creation of Monarchies
The Bible shows that the distinction of men into kings and their subjects is an evil one. Paine argues that it was “Heathens” who introduced kings into the world, which Jews then took up. However, even though Jews desired to be ruled by kings, it’s clear in the Bible that God does not condone monarchies. In fact, the Bible shows that monarchy is a sin. There are multiple examples of groups of people asking a virtuous man to be their king, which the man then turns down because he doesn’t want to exalt himself above others.
Paine specifically mentions Gideon, a man who the Jews asked to be their king after he freed them from tyranny. He says no, arguing that the only person who should rule over them is God.
The Disadvantages of Hereditary Monarchies
Hereditary monarchy represents an even more significant evil, for several reasons:
- If all men are equal, no one should be able to set up his family in power for perpetuity, no matter his personal virtues.
- Even if citizens choose a virtuous man to rule them, it’s clear from history that there’s no reason his sons will be.
- Simply by virtue of being told that they are fit to be kings, Hereditary Monarchs’ minds frequently are poisoned from the start. They are self-important and have no way of understanding the problems of the common man.
- Kids can also frequently ascend to the throne, who then become an easy mark for miscreants to gain power themselves.
- Some argue that hereditary succession can prevent civil war by keeping all of the power in the hands of one family that is uninterested in turning on itself—this can be disproved with a cursory glance at English history: The Yorks and the Lancasters fought for supremacy for years.
- In private, most people treat hereditary monarchies with contempt, but they are either afraid of the power they wield or are benefitting from the monarchy, so they have no reason to rebel.
The closer a government is to a republic, the most just form of government, the less need there is for a king and the less business he has. If the government is a true republic, with authority derived from the people, the king will essentially be legislated out of existence.
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